Atheists’ sexual harassment problem

A controversy roiling in the atheist community is the prevalence of sexual harassment and its leadership’s indifference to the problem:

As skeptics, atheists and humanists prepare to gather for their largest meeting in Las Vegas this weekend, attendance by women is expected to be down significantly.

Officials for The Amazing Meeting, or TAM, said Wednesday (July 11) that women would make up 31 percent of the 1,200 conference attendees, down from 40 percent the year before. A month before the conference, pre-registration was only 18 percent women, organizers said.

The explanations are many — the bad economy, that women, as caregivers, are less able to get away, and that more men than women identify as skeptics, whose worldview rejects the supernatural and focuses on science and rationality.

But in the weeks preceding TAM, another possible explanation has roiled the nontheist community. Online forums have crackled with charges of sexism in TAM’s leadership and calls for the ouster of D.J. Grothe, the male president of the James Randi Educational Foundation, TAM’s organizer. In June, Rebecca Watson, a skeptic blogger and speaker, canceled her TAM appearance because, she said on her blog, she does “not feel welcome or safe.”

Other nontheists — both male and female — have shared stories of unwanted sexual attention at nontheist gatherings, including propositions for sex and unwelcome touching. Chatter has ranged from calls for more women to attend nontheist events to personal attacks on prominent female skeptics for discussing harassment. Meanwhile, two more skeptic/feminist bloggers announced they will not attend TAM. . . .

Last year, at another skeptic conference, Watson said she was approached late at night in an elevator by a man she believed was seeking sex. When she blogged about it, the “atheosphere” erupted in comments, both supportive and negative. British biologist Richard Dawkins, the best-selling author of “The God Delusion,” wrote that Watson should “stop whining” and “grow a thicker skin.”

The current hullabaloo can be traced to May’s Women in Secularism Conference, a first-of-its-kind gathering about nontheist women. On a panel examining feminism and nontheism, Jennifer McCreight, an atheist blogger, said women speakers at nontheist events warn each other privately about male speakers who make unwanted sexual advances.

via Religion News Service | Culture | Gender & Sexuality | Do atheists have a sexual harassment problem?.

Why might this be?

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.

  • Pete

    I thought the non-theist slogan (that appears on the sides of buses at Christmas time) was, “Be good for goodness’ sake.” I guess if God is out of the picture, my “good” may be different from your “good”, eh?

  • Pete

    I thought the non-theist slogan (that appears on the sides of buses at Christmas time) was, “Be good for goodness’ sake.” I guess if God is out of the picture, my “good” may be different from your “good”, eh?

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    I was going to attend a “skeptics conference”, but I don’t believe in them.

    ___

    Yes, Pete. “Good” can mean anything. What a demonic world that would be. (look around)

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    I was going to attend a “skeptics conference”, but I don’t believe in them.

    ___

    Yes, Pete. “Good” can mean anything. What a demonic world that would be. (look around)

  • Tom Hering

    Maybe male leaders in the atheist movement think sexual morality is derived from religion. Which makes sexual morality an indirect form of supernaturalism – and so they don’t believe in it.

  • Tom Hering

    Maybe male leaders in the atheist movement think sexual morality is derived from religion. Which makes sexual morality an indirect form of supernaturalism – and so they don’t believe in it.

  • Michael B.

    “Do atheists have a sexual harassment problem?.”

    Betteridge’s Law of Headlines: “Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word ‘no’”.

  • Michael B.

    “Do atheists have a sexual harassment problem?.”

    Betteridge’s Law of Headlines: “Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word ‘no’”.

  • WebMonk

    How could it happen? It happens because they’re humans just like everyone else. These same sorts of things have popped up periodically in Christian circles, military circles, librarian conferences, and video game conventions. If you had asked me before I read this article, I would have said that of course this sort of thing happens in nontheist circles/gatherings as well.

    Everyone likes to think that their own group is above certain problems, sexual harrasement for example, but I’ve never heard of a group that doesn’t have some sort of problem like this.

  • WebMonk

    How could it happen? It happens because they’re humans just like everyone else. These same sorts of things have popped up periodically in Christian circles, military circles, librarian conferences, and video game conventions. If you had asked me before I read this article, I would have said that of course this sort of thing happens in nontheist circles/gatherings as well.

    Everyone likes to think that their own group is above certain problems, sexual harrasement for example, but I’ve never heard of a group that doesn’t have some sort of problem like this.

  • Tom Hering

    … I’ve never heard of a group that doesn’t have some sort of problem like this.

    A WWI veterans reunion? (A decade ago, sure, but nevertheless …)

  • Tom Hering

    … I’ve never heard of a group that doesn’t have some sort of problem like this.

    A WWI veterans reunion? (A decade ago, sure, but nevertheless …)

  • formerly just steve

    “Why might this be?”

    Um, because atheists are sinners whether they believe in sin or not.

    It strikes me that the “leadership” of even the smallest and most obscure of groups finds a way to become haughty about their position. And, is it is said: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

  • formerly just steve

    “Why might this be?”

    Um, because atheists are sinners whether they believe in sin or not.

    It strikes me that the “leadership” of even the smallest and most obscure of groups finds a way to become haughty about their position. And, is it is said: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    WebMonk certainly has a point that no groups are without their scandals–it’s not as if the sin nature skips any of us, after all–but it does occur to me that if you deny that people have intrinsic worth, you might be more likely to act like people have no intrinsic worth, including women. And it’s telling that the “senior statesmen” of the movement seem to have been involved in the maltreatment of the young lady, too.

    Put differently, cultural mores can only hold so long against a serious theological–or atheological in this case–onslaught. Just take a look at a lot of what the Communists left behind in Russia–birth rates half that of replacement, and an abortion rate four times as high, rampant alcoholism. If your society reflects the dominant faith, Russia’s current state speaks volumes about atheism.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    WebMonk certainly has a point that no groups are without their scandals–it’s not as if the sin nature skips any of us, after all–but it does occur to me that if you deny that people have intrinsic worth, you might be more likely to act like people have no intrinsic worth, including women. And it’s telling that the “senior statesmen” of the movement seem to have been involved in the maltreatment of the young lady, too.

    Put differently, cultural mores can only hold so long against a serious theological–or atheological in this case–onslaught. Just take a look at a lot of what the Communists left behind in Russia–birth rates half that of replacement, and an abortion rate four times as high, rampant alcoholism. If your society reflects the dominant faith, Russia’s current state speaks volumes about atheism.

  • Jon

    Conference…Vegas…a bunch of nerdy, angry single guys trying to be hip. I mean, come on. Who’s surprised?

    Vegas itself even adopted the slogan, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

    Same thing probaby happens at Star Trek Conventions and Comicon.

  • Jon

    Conference…Vegas…a bunch of nerdy, angry single guys trying to be hip. I mean, come on. Who’s surprised?

    Vegas itself even adopted the slogan, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

    Same thing probaby happens at Star Trek Conventions and Comicon.

  • rlewer

    A picture shown in the article causes one to wonder how drunk the “harassers” must have been.

  • rlewer

    A picture shown in the article causes one to wonder how drunk the “harassers” must have been.

  • Michelle

    Atheists, by definition, don’t believe in morality. They do not believe in the Author of morality, so if He does not exist, then morality does not exist. If morality does not exist, then all of man’s laws are illegitimate, including laws against rape, sexual assault, etc. If morality does not exist, and man’s laws are illegitimate, then what’s stopping a guy from stepping in an elevator with a woman and propositioning her for sex? Does he still have a conscience? If he has silenced that conscience with years of trying, which many of them have, then the answer to that would be nothing is stopping him. If you gather a bunch of people together in a room with the same ideas of lawlessness and Godlessness, they are all going to feed off of one another until it comes to a head. The women who attend these types of events can (at least theoretically) never safe in a situation like that. How could they be? They don’t believe in morality or law either, so who would protect them? They must either protect themselves, be ravaged by the world’s lawlessness, or, their only other alternative, stay home and blog about it.

  • Michelle

    Atheists, by definition, don’t believe in morality. They do not believe in the Author of morality, so if He does not exist, then morality does not exist. If morality does not exist, then all of man’s laws are illegitimate, including laws against rape, sexual assault, etc. If morality does not exist, and man’s laws are illegitimate, then what’s stopping a guy from stepping in an elevator with a woman and propositioning her for sex? Does he still have a conscience? If he has silenced that conscience with years of trying, which many of them have, then the answer to that would be nothing is stopping him. If you gather a bunch of people together in a room with the same ideas of lawlessness and Godlessness, they are all going to feed off of one another until it comes to a head. The women who attend these types of events can (at least theoretically) never safe in a situation like that. How could they be? They don’t believe in morality or law either, so who would protect them? They must either protect themselves, be ravaged by the world’s lawlessness, or, their only other alternative, stay home and blog about it.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    There is some rather bad stereotyping going on. I am pretty much with WebMonk. Who is shocked to hear people who are in close proximity are acting poorly towards others? I should hope nobody on this blog. I have seen folks at Christian conferences/get togethers get plastered and act like jerks. I know of churches who have problems with chaperones carrying on affairs while at youth gatherings. Why would I be surprised to hear that atheists have similar problems?

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    There is some rather bad stereotyping going on. I am pretty much with WebMonk. Who is shocked to hear people who are in close proximity are acting poorly towards others? I should hope nobody on this blog. I have seen folks at Christian conferences/get togethers get plastered and act like jerks. I know of churches who have problems with chaperones carrying on affairs while at youth gatherings. Why would I be surprised to hear that atheists have similar problems?

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

  • WebMonk

    Michelle 11, “Atheists, by definition, don’t believe in morality.”

    An atheist, by definition, is someone who believes there is no god. The definition of atheism has nothing to do with morality. It was a challenge, but you managed to take the rest of your comment downhill from even that beginning line.

  • WebMonk

    Michelle 11, “Atheists, by definition, don’t believe in morality.”

    An atheist, by definition, is someone who believes there is no god. The definition of atheism has nothing to do with morality. It was a challenge, but you managed to take the rest of your comment downhill from even that beginning line.

  • Michelle

    Sorry you feel that way WebMonk. Perhaps next time you could dispense with the semantics. Perhaps saying “by definition” wasn’t the best choice of words, but I don’t see the reason to criticize the entire paragraph based on that.

  • Michelle

    Sorry you feel that way WebMonk. Perhaps next time you could dispense with the semantics. Perhaps saying “by definition” wasn’t the best choice of words, but I don’t see the reason to criticize the entire paragraph based on that.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Michelle – you are quite wrong with your assessment. Atheists do believe in a morality, but they define it differently – and of course, there is no “official” atheist morality. One could say an “arbitrarily chosen morality”, or a “pragmatic morality”.

    Of course, they would run into trouble trying to define a universal morality, because that would require near-universal agreement, or buy-in from everyone, and I somehow doubt that it will happen easily…

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Michelle – you are quite wrong with your assessment. Atheists do believe in a morality, but they define it differently – and of course, there is no “official” atheist morality. One could say an “arbitrarily chosen morality”, or a “pragmatic morality”.

    Of course, they would run into trouble trying to define a universal morality, because that would require near-universal agreement, or buy-in from everyone, and I somehow doubt that it will happen easily…

  • Michelle

    Well since it’s attack Michelle day I guess my viewpoint here isn’t valid. My mistake. I will take it elsewhere.

  • Michelle

    Well since it’s attack Michelle day I guess my viewpoint here isn’t valid. My mistake. I will take it elsewhere.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @#17 Wow, did you really think people would not challenge you on such blanket statements? They were actually pretty kind in taking apart your argument. If you can’t handle debate really I would advise against posting in the first place. Maybe rather than running and hiding you ought to work and defend your claims, by say offering proof.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @#17 Wow, did you really think people would not challenge you on such blanket statements? They were actually pretty kind in taking apart your argument. If you can’t handle debate really I would advise against posting in the first place. Maybe rather than running and hiding you ought to work and defend your claims, by say offering proof.

  • Tom Hering

    Michelle, you’re not entirely wrong. It’s not unusual for atheists – at least of an older school – to consider themselves sexually liberated. And so, unrestrained by any moral code based on religious superstition (kind of my point @ 3).

  • Tom Hering

    Michelle, you’re not entirely wrong. It’s not unusual for atheists – at least of an older school – to consider themselves sexually liberated. And so, unrestrained by any moral code based on religious superstition (kind of my point @ 3).

  • Michelle

    No, actually. I can’t handle debate. No, I haven’t been to college. All I ever do is sit at home and raise my son and clean my kitchen and wait for my husband to come home from work, and read books written by much greater people than I, and I only dream about being able to be smart like all of you. You can sit there and be harsh on the internet without regard to the person on the other side. That’s easy. I’m no theologian. All I know is what I have read, and the atheist friends I have had and what they believe and the things we have discussed, and the life that I used to live from which I have been delivered by the grace of God. I can’t even spell atheist, I keep reversing the i and the e and spell check keeps correcting me. But what I do know is that you are all so rude to get on here and attack me when all I was trying to do was contribute, which is what I thought the point of this cool blog was. No, I can’t handle it. Happy now? Your attacks can’t sway me from my beliefs. I’m not an intellectual by any means, but you don’t have to make me feel bad about that fact. Maybe all I can ever do is run and hide because I am a meek, shy person by nature and I never learned how to defend myself very well. Or maybe every time I try to defend myself, I get attacked even harder.

  • Michelle

    No, actually. I can’t handle debate. No, I haven’t been to college. All I ever do is sit at home and raise my son and clean my kitchen and wait for my husband to come home from work, and read books written by much greater people than I, and I only dream about being able to be smart like all of you. You can sit there and be harsh on the internet without regard to the person on the other side. That’s easy. I’m no theologian. All I know is what I have read, and the atheist friends I have had and what they believe and the things we have discussed, and the life that I used to live from which I have been delivered by the grace of God. I can’t even spell atheist, I keep reversing the i and the e and spell check keeps correcting me. But what I do know is that you are all so rude to get on here and attack me when all I was trying to do was contribute, which is what I thought the point of this cool blog was. No, I can’t handle it. Happy now? Your attacks can’t sway me from my beliefs. I’m not an intellectual by any means, but you don’t have to make me feel bad about that fact. Maybe all I can ever do is run and hide because I am a meek, shy person by nature and I never learned how to defend myself very well. Or maybe every time I try to defend myself, I get attacked even harder.

  • Ray

    So some women, who are part of a group without any foundation for an objective moral standard, are upset when those standards aren’t met. Can you say “Hoisted on one’s own petard”?

  • Ray

    So some women, who are part of a group without any foundation for an objective moral standard, are upset when those standards aren’t met. Can you say “Hoisted on one’s own petard”?

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @#20 Seriously? You think I am attacking you? You haven’t seen me get harsh.

    I never brought up college education or what you do for a living. I didn’t bring up spelling or grammar or anything of that nature.

    Call it simple advise, if you are going to make assertions here or anywhere else be prepared to defend them. Spend a few moments to gather some proof. And if you think that I am attacking you, maybe it is best if you don’t comment. I may have been blunt, but there was never an attack.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @#20 Seriously? You think I am attacking you? You haven’t seen me get harsh.

    I never brought up college education or what you do for a living. I didn’t bring up spelling or grammar or anything of that nature.

    Call it simple advise, if you are going to make assertions here or anywhere else be prepared to defend them. Spend a few moments to gather some proof. And if you think that I am attacking you, maybe it is best if you don’t comment. I may have been blunt, but there was never an attack.

  • reg

    I think what Michelle was saying is that any understanding of morality unmoored to an absolute is simply sophistry and self-deception. If everything is meaningless, then the moral positions one might purport to take (be they do not steal, cheat, murder or be they do not be a racist, discriminate or be they PETA animal superiority views) are utterly meaningless, nothing but opinion. No moral position is grounded by any defensible rationale or basis. If one is truly an atheist the only defensible, rational moral position is “what can I get away with either by deception, exertion of power or otherwise”. How can one be a rational atheist without being totally Nietzschean?

    if this is what Michelle meant, she is on the money.

  • reg

    I think what Michelle was saying is that any understanding of morality unmoored to an absolute is simply sophistry and self-deception. If everything is meaningless, then the moral positions one might purport to take (be they do not steal, cheat, murder or be they do not be a racist, discriminate or be they PETA animal superiority views) are utterly meaningless, nothing but opinion. No moral position is grounded by any defensible rationale or basis. If one is truly an atheist the only defensible, rational moral position is “what can I get away with either by deception, exertion of power or otherwise”. How can one be a rational atheist without being totally Nietzschean?

    if this is what Michelle meant, she is on the money.

  • Ray

    Or perhaps the men were just exercisisng their evolutionary survival instincts by trying to mate as often as possible.

  • Ray

    Or perhaps the men were just exercisisng their evolutionary survival instincts by trying to mate as often as possible.

  • Michelle

    @reg Yes, that is a good way of putting it. Much better than I could have done.

  • Michelle

    @reg Yes, that is a good way of putting it. Much better than I could have done.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    But here’s a more interesting question: WHY would a bunch of atheists get together to begin with like this at all?

    Sounds kinda religious to me…

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    But here’s a more interesting question: WHY would a bunch of atheists get together to begin with like this at all?

    Sounds kinda religious to me…

  • Tom Hering

    @ 24, or being liberated types, they probably consider it unremarkable that rational men and women should propose hopping into bed with one another. Which is not a problem until you run into fellow atheists who are also feminists – who rightly consider such proposals, in the context of a gathering of various professionals, to be harassment.

  • Tom Hering

    @ 24, or being liberated types, they probably consider it unremarkable that rational men and women should propose hopping into bed with one another. Which is not a problem until you run into fellow atheists who are also feminists – who rightly consider such proposals, in the context of a gathering of various professionals, to be harassment.

  • DonS

    Sheesh, guys — let up. You all knew what Michelle was saying @ 11, and that she was basically right, but Webmonk chose to take the discussion in an unproductive direction right away with the gratuitous and nasty “It was a challenge, but you managed to take the rest of your comment downhill from even that beginning line.” There was no call for that, Webmonk. You can pull that kind of stuff with those of us who comment regularly, but how about engaging in a constructive conversation with those who don’t comment so often?

    reg @ 23 restated Michelle’s point very well, as she stated @ 25. Atheists, by virtue of their worldview, cannot possibly believe in a system of absolute morality. And if your moral system is not rooted in the absolute, it is a worthless deception.

    Michelle, your comments are more than welcome here.

  • DonS

    Sheesh, guys — let up. You all knew what Michelle was saying @ 11, and that she was basically right, but Webmonk chose to take the discussion in an unproductive direction right away with the gratuitous and nasty “It was a challenge, but you managed to take the rest of your comment downhill from even that beginning line.” There was no call for that, Webmonk. You can pull that kind of stuff with those of us who comment regularly, but how about engaging in a constructive conversation with those who don’t comment so often?

    reg @ 23 restated Michelle’s point very well, as she stated @ 25. Atheists, by virtue of their worldview, cannot possibly believe in a system of absolute morality. And if your moral system is not rooted in the absolute, it is a worthless deception.

    Michelle, your comments are more than welcome here.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    DonS – no Michelle was speaking nonsense. There is a big difference between no morality, relative morality, and absolute morality.

    And yes, even our Christian morality has changed: Slavery used to be ok, not so much anymore (as one example). We don’t stone adulterers anymore, now do we? Yet in the OT, that was God’s command, but Christ started changing things in the NT. So, did God change? Or did the moral framework change over time, even by Christ’s direction? If anything, that shows a chronologically relative morality.

    The word absolute is too easily used.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    DonS – no Michelle was speaking nonsense. There is a big difference between no morality, relative morality, and absolute morality.

    And yes, even our Christian morality has changed: Slavery used to be ok, not so much anymore (as one example). We don’t stone adulterers anymore, now do we? Yet in the OT, that was God’s command, but Christ started changing things in the NT. So, did God change? Or did the moral framework change over time, even by Christ’s direction? If anything, that shows a chronologically relative morality.

    The word absolute is too easily used.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    But of course, her comments welcome here. But this is a hard-debate zone, and if you can’t stand the heat… :)

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    But of course, her comments welcome here. But this is a hard-debate zone, and if you can’t stand the heat… :)

  • John C

    It does not take a belief in God to state thou shall not kill, Reg.
    Even this injunction is morally amibiguous for we consider mitigating circumstances in order to determine culpability and punishment. For the most part, society has rejected the moral absolute of an eye for an eye.
    It is possible Reg that we are born with an innate sense of fairness. Think of it as an evolutionary development that enabled small bands of people to cooperate and survive.

  • John C

    It does not take a belief in God to state thou shall not kill, Reg.
    Even this injunction is morally amibiguous for we consider mitigating circumstances in order to determine culpability and punishment. For the most part, society has rejected the moral absolute of an eye for an eye.
    It is possible Reg that we are born with an innate sense of fairness. Think of it as an evolutionary development that enabled small bands of people to cooperate and survive.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    John C – exactly. The idea/drive that killing your own is not good for your group is an important biological function. Whether we call that morality or instinct is of course a whole different question.

    This is what I referred to earlier – “pragmatic morality”. It makes for bad results, therefore let’s not do it. If you do it, we need to isolate you as a threat….

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    John C – exactly. The idea/drive that killing your own is not good for your group is an important biological function. Whether we call that morality or instinct is of course a whole different question.

    This is what I referred to earlier – “pragmatic morality”. It makes for bad results, therefore let’s not do it. If you do it, we need to isolate you as a threat….

  • Tom Hering

    But this is a hard-debate zone …

    Yes, it has been, by mutual consent among some of us. But not all of us. Certainly not by most of the new participants, which we’re getting more of all the time. Things change.

  • Tom Hering

    But this is a hard-debate zone …

    Yes, it has been, by mutual consent among some of us. But not all of us. Certainly not by most of the new participants, which we’re getting more of all the time. Things change.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Anyway, moral questions are interesting but have little to do with the Faith altogether.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Anyway, moral questions are interesting but have little to do with the Faith altogether.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Tom @ 33 – hard debate doesn’t mean making an ass of yourself, yes. But if someone thinks they can say something, and not be challenged on it, then they do not belong on internet forums/blogs etc. It is the nature of the beast.

    And with one very obvious exception, all the regulars here attack the argument, not the person, which is great! You know of whom I speak :) :)

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Tom @ 33 – hard debate doesn’t mean making an ass of yourself, yes. But if someone thinks they can say something, and not be challenged on it, then they do not belong on internet forums/blogs etc. It is the nature of the beast.

    And with one very obvious exception, all the regulars here attack the argument, not the person, which is great! You know of whom I speak :) :)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    First off, I think this is a wee bit overblown, as to the original topic. “A controversy roiling in the atheist community”? And every time there’s sexual harassment in a church, does it “roil” the Christian community? Or is it usually something that just happens, and is dealt with by the relatively few people affected?

    And I see no evidence at all from the article — unless specious correlation is all we need these days — to support its premise that the reason why attendance by women is down is due to this particular saga. Certainly it’s true that there are more men than women in the activist atheist movement. And the article nods its head to the economy as a possible reason (although I’d bet that activist atheist women are less likely to be “caregivers” — that is, that they’d be single and childless — than other women).

    In short, the article kind of smells like a mockery of atheists along lines that we Christians would in no way support if it were written about us. “Atheists can’t get women to show up at their dumb meeting, and they’re sexist troglodytes. Some have even wondered if atheists are totally lame and smell bad, as well.”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    First off, I think this is a wee bit overblown, as to the original topic. “A controversy roiling in the atheist community”? And every time there’s sexual harassment in a church, does it “roil” the Christian community? Or is it usually something that just happens, and is dealt with by the relatively few people affected?

    And I see no evidence at all from the article — unless specious correlation is all we need these days — to support its premise that the reason why attendance by women is down is due to this particular saga. Certainly it’s true that there are more men than women in the activist atheist movement. And the article nods its head to the economy as a possible reason (although I’d bet that activist atheist women are less likely to be “caregivers” — that is, that they’d be single and childless — than other women).

    In short, the article kind of smells like a mockery of atheists along lines that we Christians would in no way support if it were written about us. “Atheists can’t get women to show up at their dumb meeting, and they’re sexist troglodytes. Some have even wondered if atheists are totally lame and smell bad, as well.”

  • DonS

    Klasie @ 29, 30 (and others): Clearly, what Michelle said was overly broad. One of the best things about this site is the collective process — you put a “blog thought” out there that seems reasonable to you when you write it, and then the commenters pick it apart — regardless of your philosophy and beliefs everyone comes away with a better understanding of the issue when that process has run its course.

    But there is no call to do what Webmonk did. This statement: “It was a challenge, but you managed to take the rest of your comment downhill from even that beginning line” is not “hard debate”. It is a personal attack. Hard debate is focusing on the ideas, not the person. Persuasiveness is picking apart the idea while making the person feel like you care about them.

  • DonS

    Klasie @ 29, 30 (and others): Clearly, what Michelle said was overly broad. One of the best things about this site is the collective process — you put a “blog thought” out there that seems reasonable to you when you write it, and then the commenters pick it apart — regardless of your philosophy and beliefs everyone comes away with a better understanding of the issue when that process has run its course.

    But there is no call to do what Webmonk did. This statement: “It was a challenge, but you managed to take the rest of your comment downhill from even that beginning line” is not “hard debate”. It is a personal attack. Hard debate is focusing on the ideas, not the person. Persuasiveness is picking apart the idea while making the person feel like you care about them.

  • John C

    Besides, Christians have been around for 2000 years. You have to allow time for atheists to catch up.

  • John C

    Besides, Christians have been around for 2000 years. You have to allow time for atheists to catch up.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Pete asked (@1):

    I guess if God is out of the picture, my “good” may be different from your “good”, eh?

    Not sure if you noticed, Pete, but even if God is in the picture, our definitions of “good” just might differ, anyhow. It might be fun to pile on the atheists here, but it can’t have escaped your notice that, any other day, we’re still disagreeing with each other here about other things.

    Bike Bubba said (@7):

    …but it does occur to me that if you deny that people have intrinsic worth…

    And have they done that? Because the actions in the article make it clear to me that they rather obviously have not made that claim. So this would appear to be a straw man argument. Clearly, atheists deny that people have worth derived from any spiritual aspect, but that doesn’t mean that they deny that people have intrinsic worth, all the same. Honestly, it’s like you’ve never talked to an atheist before.

    I don’t know if you guys have noticed, but even among Christians, there isn’t a universal basis for morality, much less universal agreement on how that morality should be enacted. Quite a few Christians act morally on the presupposition that such action will earn them benefits, either now or in eternity. Which, as atheists will often point out, is a really shoddy kind of “morality”.

    Anyhow, atheists have morals. Many atheists even have bases for their morals. Try asking one. You obviously may disagree with this basis (assuming you’re not also an atheist), but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    I’ve known atheists who were vastly more moral than most Christians I’ve met. Some of them would blush to use the kind of sweeping demonizations from ignorance that are apparently popular in certain Christian circles.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Pete asked (@1):

    I guess if God is out of the picture, my “good” may be different from your “good”, eh?

    Not sure if you noticed, Pete, but even if God is in the picture, our definitions of “good” just might differ, anyhow. It might be fun to pile on the atheists here, but it can’t have escaped your notice that, any other day, we’re still disagreeing with each other here about other things.

    Bike Bubba said (@7):

    …but it does occur to me that if you deny that people have intrinsic worth…

    And have they done that? Because the actions in the article make it clear to me that they rather obviously have not made that claim. So this would appear to be a straw man argument. Clearly, atheists deny that people have worth derived from any spiritual aspect, but that doesn’t mean that they deny that people have intrinsic worth, all the same. Honestly, it’s like you’ve never talked to an atheist before.

    I don’t know if you guys have noticed, but even among Christians, there isn’t a universal basis for morality, much less universal agreement on how that morality should be enacted. Quite a few Christians act morally on the presupposition that such action will earn them benefits, either now or in eternity. Which, as atheists will often point out, is a really shoddy kind of “morality”.

    Anyhow, atheists have morals. Many atheists even have bases for their morals. Try asking one. You obviously may disagree with this basis (assuming you’re not also an atheist), but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    I’ve known atheists who were vastly more moral than most Christians I’ve met. Some of them would blush to use the kind of sweeping demonizations from ignorance that are apparently popular in certain Christian circles.

  • reg

    John C @ 31. But of course in a divine-free view the “better” man would overcome such genetic limitations and do what’s best for him only. This is exactly the type of limitation which people with this view should try to overcome to be consistent.

    KK @ 29, I disagree that morality as you define it has changes. Adultery is an absolute moral wrong. The societal remedy for that wrong has changed. I also am not sure the bible condones slavery as we moderns understand the term, i.e., kidnapping victims and making them property with no rights. The Bible actually seems to legislate against this type of slavery and Paul certainly doesn’t commend it in his letters.

    Todd @ 39 Atheists who are “moral” “good” people and there are many, do so out of a failure to actually think through their atheism and because they still bear a post-fall resemblance to God. The concepts of right and wrong are written in their fabric and they are happy to proceed in a manner that creates the least cognitive dissonance/anxiety for them. But this is not a logical, rational outcome of their lack of belief in God-actually it shows how many atheists are not really atheists at all but rather agnostics or closet deists.

  • reg

    John C @ 31. But of course in a divine-free view the “better” man would overcome such genetic limitations and do what’s best for him only. This is exactly the type of limitation which people with this view should try to overcome to be consistent.

    KK @ 29, I disagree that morality as you define it has changes. Adultery is an absolute moral wrong. The societal remedy for that wrong has changed. I also am not sure the bible condones slavery as we moderns understand the term, i.e., kidnapping victims and making them property with no rights. The Bible actually seems to legislate against this type of slavery and Paul certainly doesn’t commend it in his letters.

    Todd @ 39 Atheists who are “moral” “good” people and there are many, do so out of a failure to actually think through their atheism and because they still bear a post-fall resemblance to God. The concepts of right and wrong are written in their fabric and they are happy to proceed in a manner that creates the least cognitive dissonance/anxiety for them. But this is not a logical, rational outcome of their lack of belief in God-actually it shows how many atheists are not really atheists at all but rather agnostics or closet deists.

  • SKPeterson

    I love sweeping demonizations. Saves time and money. Did Michelle use an overly broad generalization to make her assertions? Yes. Who here hasn’t. On our thread on the Orthodox I purposely let loose with harsh over-generalizations. On occasion they are useful tropes.

    Michelle’s thesis bears some further exploration particularly in contrast to Todd’s observations @ 39. What is the basis of morality or virtue? And what is their context within religious belief?

    I’m probably done on this topic – atheist infighting isn’t as much fun as demeaning Eastern Orthodoxy. But, hey, that’s just me.

  • SKPeterson

    I love sweeping demonizations. Saves time and money. Did Michelle use an overly broad generalization to make her assertions? Yes. Who here hasn’t. On our thread on the Orthodox I purposely let loose with harsh over-generalizations. On occasion they are useful tropes.

    Michelle’s thesis bears some further exploration particularly in contrast to Todd’s observations @ 39. What is the basis of morality or virtue? And what is their context within religious belief?

    I’m probably done on this topic – atheist infighting isn’t as much fun as demeaning Eastern Orthodoxy. But, hey, that’s just me.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    reg sure – but today, all slavery is bad, Wasn’t back so then. Some things are still bad. All you need to disprove an absolute is a single exception, btw.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    reg sure – but today, all slavery is bad, Wasn’t back so then. Some things are still bad. All you need to disprove an absolute is a single exception, btw.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@37), I respect what you’re trying to do here. You’re being nice. I really do respect that about you.

    But what Michelle said goes well beyond being “overly broad”. Come on. “Atheists, by definition, don’t believe in morality” (@11)? That’s just flat-out wrong. It wasn’t until reg’s (what appeared to be more than just a mere) helpful restatement (@23) that Michelle’s apparent argument became one about how atheists’ morality is ultimately baseless, according to their worldview.

    Still, if it is true as you say that “hard debate is focusing on the ideas, not the person” — and I agree, though I know I fall short of this ideal from time to time — then it is also true that Michelle’s replies were also less then helpful.

    I mean, go back and read them. After all of two critical replies, Michelle basically threw a pity-party and claimed she was taking her ball and going home (@17):

    Well since it’s attack Michelle day I guess my viewpoint here isn’t valid. My mistake. I will take it elsewhere.

    That’s not “focusing on the ideas”, is it? That’s taking things personally. It only got worse in her subsequent reply (@20), when she made it very personal, without yet attempting to defend her idea.

    And please note, that by Michelle’s own words (@20), this wasn’t just about WebMonk, on whom you are singularly focusing:

    what I do know is that you are all so rude to get on here and attack me when all I was trying to do was contribute

    Please note: she blames “you … all” for “attacking” her. And then goes on to admit that she can’t take criticism.

    I agree with you, Don, that WebMonk’s comment was pretty snarky. I’m not sure I agree that it was, as such, a personal remark, as it was actually directed at the content of her remark. But his wasn’t, as such, a helpful remark.

    But I also think Michelle’s reaction was at least equally unhelpful. Would you agree?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@37), I respect what you’re trying to do here. You’re being nice. I really do respect that about you.

    But what Michelle said goes well beyond being “overly broad”. Come on. “Atheists, by definition, don’t believe in morality” (@11)? That’s just flat-out wrong. It wasn’t until reg’s (what appeared to be more than just a mere) helpful restatement (@23) that Michelle’s apparent argument became one about how atheists’ morality is ultimately baseless, according to their worldview.

    Still, if it is true as you say that “hard debate is focusing on the ideas, not the person” — and I agree, though I know I fall short of this ideal from time to time — then it is also true that Michelle’s replies were also less then helpful.

    I mean, go back and read them. After all of two critical replies, Michelle basically threw a pity-party and claimed she was taking her ball and going home (@17):

    Well since it’s attack Michelle day I guess my viewpoint here isn’t valid. My mistake. I will take it elsewhere.

    That’s not “focusing on the ideas”, is it? That’s taking things personally. It only got worse in her subsequent reply (@20), when she made it very personal, without yet attempting to defend her idea.

    And please note, that by Michelle’s own words (@20), this wasn’t just about WebMonk, on whom you are singularly focusing:

    what I do know is that you are all so rude to get on here and attack me when all I was trying to do was contribute

    Please note: she blames “you … all” for “attacking” her. And then goes on to admit that she can’t take criticism.

    I agree with you, Don, that WebMonk’s comment was pretty snarky. I’m not sure I agree that it was, as such, a personal remark, as it was actually directed at the content of her remark. But his wasn’t, as such, a helpful remark.

    But I also think Michelle’s reaction was at least equally unhelpful. Would you agree?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Referring to SKP & Todd: You guys identify here, and at the Orthodoxy post, and some others threads of recent vintage, the tendency to take any bit of negative news about one’s opponents / enemies / folk not of your group/clique, and run of with it to show how bad they are, and how good you are. Such “arguments” are simply stupid. Mud-throwing is an infantile tactic.

    But more than that, it betrays, when it is Believers doing so, a fundamental theological problem, namely that religion/faith is about being the good guy, about being better than others, about following a superior way. At its heart, this has taints of Pelagianism. No, we are stupid, sinful bastards, and we need Christ’s redemptive work. He doesn’t make us into good, perfect humans. He makes us Sinners that have been redeemed. This is no excuse to go on misbehaving, sure. But it is also no guarantee that any of us will not misbehave.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Referring to SKP & Todd: You guys identify here, and at the Orthodoxy post, and some others threads of recent vintage, the tendency to take any bit of negative news about one’s opponents / enemies / folk not of your group/clique, and run of with it to show how bad they are, and how good you are. Such “arguments” are simply stupid. Mud-throwing is an infantile tactic.

    But more than that, it betrays, when it is Believers doing so, a fundamental theological problem, namely that religion/faith is about being the good guy, about being better than others, about following a superior way. At its heart, this has taints of Pelagianism. No, we are stupid, sinful bastards, and we need Christ’s redemptive work. He doesn’t make us into good, perfect humans. He makes us Sinners that have been redeemed. This is no excuse to go on misbehaving, sure. But it is also no guarantee that any of us will not misbehave.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    John C (@31) said:

    It is possible Reg that we are born with an innate sense of fairness. Think of it as an evolutionary development that enabled small bands of people to cooperate and survive.

    Reg alluded to this (@40), but this presupposes that everyone agrees that survival of the species is a good thing. Why? Why should any individual care if the species lives on after they themselves are dead?

    You also said (@38):

    Besides, Christians have been around for 2000 years. You have to allow time for atheists to catch up.

    Which would probably make for a fine bumper sticker, but have you really thought that through? What, was atheism invented recently or something? I won’t even bother to point out why your “2000 years” figure is wrong.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    John C (@31) said:

    It is possible Reg that we are born with an innate sense of fairness. Think of it as an evolutionary development that enabled small bands of people to cooperate and survive.

    Reg alluded to this (@40), but this presupposes that everyone agrees that survival of the species is a good thing. Why? Why should any individual care if the species lives on after they themselves are dead?

    You also said (@38):

    Besides, Christians have been around for 2000 years. You have to allow time for atheists to catch up.

    Which would probably make for a fine bumper sticker, but have you really thought that through? What, was atheism invented recently or something? I won’t even bother to point out why your “2000 years” figure is wrong.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Anyhow, for those still holding to the “Christian morality is superior to atheist morality” viewpoint, please take a moment to savor the irony that, in a discussion about how a group of atheist men pounced on an Internet comment by a woman, strongly critiquing her ideas and making her feel inferior, we have produced a group of Christian men pouncing on an Internet comment by a woman, strongly critiquing her ideas and making her feel inferior.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Anyhow, for those still holding to the “Christian morality is superior to atheist morality” viewpoint, please take a moment to savor the irony that, in a discussion about how a group of atheist men pounced on an Internet comment by a woman, strongly critiquing her ideas and making her feel inferior, we have produced a group of Christian men pouncing on an Internet comment by a woman, strongly critiquing her ideas and making her feel inferior.

  • Grace

    Michelle @ 11

    “Atheists, by definition, don’t believe in morality. They do not believe in the Author of morality, so if He does not exist, then morality does not exist.”

    That is exactly right.

  • Grace

    Michelle @ 11

    “Atheists, by definition, don’t believe in morality. They do not believe in the Author of morality, so if He does not exist, then morality does not exist.”

    That is exactly right.

  • SKPeterson

    KK @ 44 – I agree. Somewhere there is a line between hard-edged argumentation and outright mud-slinging hostility. Most of us have crossed that line on more than one occasion. If I have been harsh on the other post, I hope I’ve made clear why. I think there my hostility, such as it is, derives more from exasperation and a lack of patience on my part. I am so blindingly right that I cannot fathom how someone else might come to a different position. It simply beggars belief.

  • SKPeterson

    KK @ 44 – I agree. Somewhere there is a line between hard-edged argumentation and outright mud-slinging hostility. Most of us have crossed that line on more than one occasion. If I have been harsh on the other post, I hope I’ve made clear why. I think there my hostility, such as it is, derives more from exasperation and a lack of patience on my part. I am so blindingly right that I cannot fathom how someone else might come to a different position. It simply beggars belief.

  • Grace

    Webmonk @14

    “An atheist, by definition, is someone who believes there is no god. The definition of atheism has nothing to do with morality.

    Oh yes it does. Atheists don’t believe in God, they aren’t led by a standard of morals.

  • Grace

    Webmonk @14

    “An atheist, by definition, is someone who believes there is no god. The definition of atheism has nothing to do with morality.

    Oh yes it does. Atheists don’t believe in God, they aren’t led by a standard of morals.

  • Grace

    Michelle @ 17

    “Well since it’s attack Michelle day I guess my viewpoint here isn’t valid. My mistake. I will take it elsewhere.”

    Please stand up for what you believe – don’t leave, you’re right.

    It doesn’t matter how many men throw stones, you will still be right when this thread ends.

  • Grace

    Michelle @ 17

    “Well since it’s attack Michelle day I guess my viewpoint here isn’t valid. My mistake. I will take it elsewhere.”

    Please stand up for what you believe – don’t leave, you’re right.

    It doesn’t matter how many men throw stones, you will still be right when this thread ends.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Todd @ 45: Humans are not a truly individualistic species. We are dependent on the group/tribe/clan/….. Thus self-interest keeps the interest of the group in mind, to some extent.

    Of course, we are also reaching the stage where some seem to want to break-out from this relationship – but I would stress the word “seem”. Because true independence would lead to demise. Or it would lead to retaliation by the group once the groups’s well-being is threatened. Thus the morality arising from self-interest (self -preservation?) would triumph. This is what i mean with pragmatic morality.

    If you are still unsure, think of the “morality” in a troop of baboons: Leader must be respected. Little one’s protected. Look-outs must do their job. Transgressors will be punished. Of course, it is a very imperfect “morality”, but it bears the marks of a “pragmatic morality”. Humans are of course infinitely more complex, thus a more complex “pragmatic morality”. And at some stage, pragmatic morality, becomes Natural Law, and we are right into Aristotle….

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Todd @ 45: Humans are not a truly individualistic species. We are dependent on the group/tribe/clan/….. Thus self-interest keeps the interest of the group in mind, to some extent.

    Of course, we are also reaching the stage where some seem to want to break-out from this relationship – but I would stress the word “seem”. Because true independence would lead to demise. Or it would lead to retaliation by the group once the groups’s well-being is threatened. Thus the morality arising from self-interest (self -preservation?) would triumph. This is what i mean with pragmatic morality.

    If you are still unsure, think of the “morality” in a troop of baboons: Leader must be respected. Little one’s protected. Look-outs must do their job. Transgressors will be punished. Of course, it is a very imperfect “morality”, but it bears the marks of a “pragmatic morality”. Humans are of course infinitely more complex, thus a more complex “pragmatic morality”. And at some stage, pragmatic morality, becomes Natural Law, and we are right into Aristotle….

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    I would say that it would be more accurate to say that atheists can’t account for morality, rather than they don’t believe in morality.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    I would say that it would be more accurate to say that atheists can’t account for morality, rather than they don’t believe in morality.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Grace, you are as wrong as Michelle. Of course, you are welcome to publish your reasoning behind your statements.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Grace, you are as wrong as Michelle. Of course, you are welcome to publish your reasoning behind your statements.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Mike -see my comment @ 51. That is one possible account….

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Mike -see my comment @ 51. That is one possible account….

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Well, OK then. Atheists can’t account for an objective morality.
    Or they don’t believe in an objective morality.

    One of the two.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Well, OK then. Atheists can’t account for an objective morality.
    Or they don’t believe in an objective morality.

    One of the two.

  • Grace

    Michelle @ 20

    “Your attacks can’t sway me from my beliefs. I’m not an intellectual by any means, but you don’t have to make me feel bad about that fact. Maybe all I can ever do is run and hide because I am a meek, shy person by nature and I never learned how to defend myself very well. Or maybe every time I try to defend myself, I get attacked even harder.”

    You have shown more native intelligence, more intellect in this post, then most all who have posted.

    Stand up Michelle, it’s people just like you who watch, observe, and see more than those who have been educated within the halls and walls of university, never seeing what you’ve observed. In essence, you know more of the larger world, because that’s where you’ve been – you’ve tasted many parts of society.

    You have more to offer than you realize, I’m glad you’re here, and I hope you stay.

    God bless you

  • Grace

    Michelle @ 20

    “Your attacks can’t sway me from my beliefs. I’m not an intellectual by any means, but you don’t have to make me feel bad about that fact. Maybe all I can ever do is run and hide because I am a meek, shy person by nature and I never learned how to defend myself very well. Or maybe every time I try to defend myself, I get attacked even harder.”

    You have shown more native intelligence, more intellect in this post, then most all who have posted.

    Stand up Michelle, it’s people just like you who watch, observe, and see more than those who have been educated within the halls and walls of university, never seeing what you’ve observed. In essence, you know more of the larger world, because that’s where you’ve been – you’ve tasted many parts of society.

    You have more to offer than you realize, I’m glad you’re here, and I hope you stay.

    God bless you

  • Grace

    Have you ever worked with atheists? I have, they don’t hold to many of the moral standards that Believers hold dear.

  • Grace

    Have you ever worked with atheists? I have, they don’t hold to many of the moral standards that Believers hold dear.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 43: Let me clarify. I know I’m no saint, and I have been known, as well, to get too personal in these discussions. You were the subject of those attacks more than once, as you know, and hopefully I’ve apologized adequately for the times I crossed the line. So, all of you, please don’t take my comment as anything other than an appeal to brothers (and sisters) from a fellow sinner.

    Yes, I think Michelle overreacted. That’s why I focused on Webmonk — he made his comment @ 14 based solely on her initial one @11. Everyone else broke in after her response, when she did kind of escalate the whole thing to an emotional height. But, to be fair, she may have been totally blindsided by his use of the demeaning phrase “It was a challenge …”, as if she herself was an incredibly ignorant person, rather than just guilty of doing what many of us have done at times, dashing off a hopelessly overbroad, un-nuanced, quick comment. She may have come on this blog (having obviously failed to view some of our past comment threads ;-)), and assumed that she would engage in a nice conversation on a Christian blog with fellow believers. The attack she received raised an emotional response, which she exhibited in her comments.

    I like what you said @ 46, and I think that really summarizes my point. In general, we should be engaging the ideas that are brought out here, and trying to help one another broaden our perspectives and consider other points of view. Especially for new commenters like Michelle, let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and show a little love. Don’t we want new people to join the community? Accusing them of incredible ignorance surely isn’t the way to welcome them.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 43: Let me clarify. I know I’m no saint, and I have been known, as well, to get too personal in these discussions. You were the subject of those attacks more than once, as you know, and hopefully I’ve apologized adequately for the times I crossed the line. So, all of you, please don’t take my comment as anything other than an appeal to brothers (and sisters) from a fellow sinner.

    Yes, I think Michelle overreacted. That’s why I focused on Webmonk — he made his comment @ 14 based solely on her initial one @11. Everyone else broke in after her response, when she did kind of escalate the whole thing to an emotional height. But, to be fair, she may have been totally blindsided by his use of the demeaning phrase “It was a challenge …”, as if she herself was an incredibly ignorant person, rather than just guilty of doing what many of us have done at times, dashing off a hopelessly overbroad, un-nuanced, quick comment. She may have come on this blog (having obviously failed to view some of our past comment threads ;-)), and assumed that she would engage in a nice conversation on a Christian blog with fellow believers. The attack she received raised an emotional response, which she exhibited in her comments.

    I like what you said @ 46, and I think that really summarizes my point. In general, we should be engaging the ideas that are brought out here, and trying to help one another broaden our perspectives and consider other points of view. Especially for new commenters like Michelle, let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and show a little love. Don’t we want new people to join the community? Accusing them of incredible ignorance surely isn’t the way to welcome them.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Mike – I think I made the point back at #16, except I called it Universal morality. For them, it will have to be subjective. Of course, can we really escape the same charge in our exercise of morality?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Mike – I think I made the point back at #16, except I called it Universal morality. For them, it will have to be subjective. Of course, can we really escape the same charge in our exercise of morality?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Grace @ 57: I have worked with many agnostics and atheists through the years. They are just as varied in morality like the rest of us.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Grace @ 57: I have worked with many agnostics and atheists through the years. They are just as varied in morality like the rest of us.

  • Grace

    Remove God Almighty from ones life, believing there is no God, is atheism. There is no right or wrong within atheism. It includes taking ones life, if one doesn’t want to live any longer, abortion, sexual pursuits that are not within marriage, and a host of other dysfunctional reasoning.

    Within the atheist mind “it’s my opinion, there is no right or wrong” – Why do you think the Ten Commandments have been stripped from our schools, courts? There is no fear of God, even though there are laws which punish man for unlawful deeds.

  • Grace

    Remove God Almighty from ones life, believing there is no God, is atheism. There is no right or wrong within atheism. It includes taking ones life, if one doesn’t want to live any longer, abortion, sexual pursuits that are not within marriage, and a host of other dysfunctional reasoning.

    Within the atheist mind “it’s my opinion, there is no right or wrong” – Why do you think the Ten Commandments have been stripped from our schools, courts? There is no fear of God, even though there are laws which punish man for unlawful deeds.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Grace, can you substantiate your argument. We sure understand it, but we are not sure about how you support your argument? What facts do you use? What is the full line of reasoning?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Grace, can you substantiate your argument. We sure understand it, but we are not sure about how you support your argument? What facts do you use? What is the full line of reasoning?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace said (@61), “There is no right or wrong within atheism.” Of course, even a cursory reading of the article we’re discussing will prove this claim false.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace said (@61), “There is no right or wrong within atheism.” Of course, even a cursory reading of the article we’re discussing will prove this claim false.

  • Grace

    If one does not believe there is a God.

    If one does not believe there is right or wrong.

    It equals chaos – that’s what we see today, within the masses. They have no God, they do as they please. This isn’t difficult to understand.

    As a woman, I see “atheism” differently perhaps, then the men on this blog. Taking moral values (sexual pursuits) for example; An “atheist” be it male or female, have very little, if any moral compass, there is no penalty for sexual activities, as long as they don’t rape or physically harm another person. There is no moral authority in their lives.

    The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

    The “atheist” has no fear of God – that is the KEY in understanding the mind of an atheist.

  • Grace

    If one does not believe there is a God.

    If one does not believe there is right or wrong.

    It equals chaos – that’s what we see today, within the masses. They have no God, they do as they please. This isn’t difficult to understand.

    As a woman, I see “atheism” differently perhaps, then the men on this blog. Taking moral values (sexual pursuits) for example; An “atheist” be it male or female, have very little, if any moral compass, there is no penalty for sexual activities, as long as they don’t rape or physically harm another person. There is no moral authority in their lives.

    The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

    The “atheist” has no fear of God – that is the KEY in understanding the mind of an atheist.

  • Grace

    Read Michelle’s posts over again. Especially #20. She obviously fears the LORD, she also is a humble woman. She has more “wisdom” then many who have chastised her, and tried running her down the road as they stumble and fall over their own importance.

    I wish Michelle lived next door to us, she would be a welcome breath of fresh air!

  • Grace

    Read Michelle’s posts over again. Especially #20. She obviously fears the LORD, she also is a humble woman. She has more “wisdom” then many who have chastised her, and tried running her down the road as they stumble and fall over their own importance.

    I wish Michelle lived next door to us, she would be a welcome breath of fresh air!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace said (@64):

    An “atheist” be it male or female, have very little, if any moral compass, there is no penalty for sexual activities, as long as they don’t rape or physically harm another person. There is no moral authority in their lives.

    And, once again, all these claims are proven false by even the most cursory reading of the article we’re discussing.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace said (@64):

    An “atheist” be it male or female, have very little, if any moral compass, there is no penalty for sexual activities, as long as they don’t rape or physically harm another person. There is no moral authority in their lives.

    And, once again, all these claims are proven false by even the most cursory reading of the article we’re discussing.

  • Grace

    tODD @66

    “And, once again, all these claims are proven false by even the most cursory reading of the article we’re discussing.”

    I’m not referring to the “article” that should be apparent, even to you. It is “atheism” in general!

  • Grace

    tODD @66

    “And, once again, all these claims are proven false by even the most cursory reading of the article we’re discussing.”

    I’m not referring to the “article” that should be apparent, even to you. It is “atheism” in general!

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Grace, do you understand our question? We are not asking what you are saying, but why you are saying it? Merely repeating what you are saying is not answering the question.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Grace, do you understand our question? We are not asking what you are saying, but why you are saying it? Merely repeating what you are saying is not answering the question.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@67), your claims about atheism in general are proven false by even the most cursory reading of the article we’re discussing, which is about atheists.

    All it takes to disprove a sweeping generalization (as you have made here) is one counterexample. The article provides several counterexamples.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@67), your claims about atheism in general are proven false by even the most cursory reading of the article we’re discussing, which is about atheists.

    All it takes to disprove a sweeping generalization (as you have made here) is one counterexample. The article provides several counterexamples.

  • Michelle

    I agree with you, Grace.
    Also, I was thinking about it a little bit today. Pagans in Bible times did far worse things than what we see today. Sacrificing children to Molech, for example, was commonplace. (And this wasn’t even fetuses, this was already-born children!) Sure, they weren’t atheists, but pantheists, but either way you try to swing it, the bottom line is, they didn’t know (or listen to) the truth from the Lord. That’s why I think that once a person erases God from the position of authority in their life, eventually, whether they CLAIM to have morals or not, in the end, it doesn’t matter. It walks like a duck, it quacks like a duck, so I’m just going to go ahead and assume it’s a duck. There is no sense in over-analyzing such things.

    Also, thank you for your kind words. It meant a great deal to me.

    Psalm 14:1 (ESV) To the choirmaster. Of David. The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.

  • Michelle

    I agree with you, Grace.
    Also, I was thinking about it a little bit today. Pagans in Bible times did far worse things than what we see today. Sacrificing children to Molech, for example, was commonplace. (And this wasn’t even fetuses, this was already-born children!) Sure, they weren’t atheists, but pantheists, but either way you try to swing it, the bottom line is, they didn’t know (or listen to) the truth from the Lord. That’s why I think that once a person erases God from the position of authority in their life, eventually, whether they CLAIM to have morals or not, in the end, it doesn’t matter. It walks like a duck, it quacks like a duck, so I’m just going to go ahead and assume it’s a duck. There is no sense in over-analyzing such things.

    Also, thank you for your kind words. It meant a great deal to me.

    Psalm 14:1 (ESV) To the choirmaster. Of David. The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Michelle, your line of argumentation is faulty. You mention biblical pagans – sure, the Canaanites indulged in many horrible practices. But in general, contemporary civilizations did not indulge in the same – Egypt did not (I’m talking in general, not what happened with Moses), and even earlier, the Sumerians had a high moral code (Hammurabi’s law code).

    But here is the clincher – the Israelites themselves (IE, in our parlance, the Church) went and did the same horrible things as the Canaanites, again and again and again.

    Further on, we see brutalities in Aztec civilization, which we do not in say Japanese civilization of the same period. Today, average Japanese morality far outstrips a more “Christian” or “Christian-influenced” civilization like those of the West. Sure, there were some horrible things done in WWII – but so did some “Christian-influenced” people.

    But at the end, I have to ask myself, what is the point – given my comment in #44, second paragraph.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Michelle, your line of argumentation is faulty. You mention biblical pagans – sure, the Canaanites indulged in many horrible practices. But in general, contemporary civilizations did not indulge in the same – Egypt did not (I’m talking in general, not what happened with Moses), and even earlier, the Sumerians had a high moral code (Hammurabi’s law code).

    But here is the clincher – the Israelites themselves (IE, in our parlance, the Church) went and did the same horrible things as the Canaanites, again and again and again.

    Further on, we see brutalities in Aztec civilization, which we do not in say Japanese civilization of the same period. Today, average Japanese morality far outstrips a more “Christian” or “Christian-influenced” civilization like those of the West. Sure, there were some horrible things done in WWII – but so did some “Christian-influenced” people.

    But at the end, I have to ask myself, what is the point – given my comment in #44, second paragraph.

  • Grace

    Michelle @70

    I believe you brought a great lesson to the blog today, one which will not be forgotten by me, and most likely many others.

    The passage of Scripture you cite from Psalms 14:1 is most appropriate, and bears repeating.

    The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.

    I’m pleased you have come back to post.

  • Grace

    Michelle @70

    I believe you brought a great lesson to the blog today, one which will not be forgotten by me, and most likely many others.

    The passage of Scripture you cite from Psalms 14:1 is most appropriate, and bears repeating.

    The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.

    I’m pleased you have come back to post.

  • BW

    Grace @72,

    That passage of scripture incriminates me, you, all of us.

  • BW

    Grace @72,

    That passage of scripture incriminates me, you, all of us.

  • Michelle

    Klasie, I am not here to argue, therefore I have no line of argumentation.

  • Michelle

    Klasie, I am not here to argue, therefore I have no line of argumentation.

  • WebMonk

    Hey Don, I realize that you don’t think the whole of my comment to Michelle was roses and chocolate, and I agree. The first part was fine with you as far as I can tell. It was just the second part that you thought was mean, right?

    It was a heck of a lot nicer than a proper dissection of the rest of that comment would have been. Come on, you can read that comment.

    Apparently male atheists are rapists, and the only reason the women at that conference weren’t the recipient of a massive gangrape was … well, she never says. Maybe because they were afraid of jail or something.

    Do you really want me to pull apart her comment the way it deserves, or should I leave it with merely “It was a challenge, but you managed to take the rest of your comment downhill from even that beginning line.”

    And Michelle, you’re welcome here to post and comment. No one attacked you, though apparently you feel some of us were. I thought I have seen a Michelle around here before, but if you aren’t a regular here, two pieces of education on this site:

    First, we play with kids gloves here. Really. This is a nice and safe corner of the Internet. Compared to most places on the Internet we put on great big cartoon balloon gloves before fighting.

    Second, my comment qualifies as “snarky” perhaps, but it wasn’t even close to being mean even by the amazingly kind and polite standards of this blog. On the scale of nastiness used on the rest of the Internet I was saying you’re abso-freakin awesome and brilliant but I have a minor difference of phrasing.

    I’m not in the least worried that you were truly bothered by my comment. If you were, you would have either ACTUALLY gone away, or you would have responded a lot more vehemently than you did.

    So, you are not actually bothered by snarky comments, and that’s great. I suspect that you and Grace will be two peas in a pod and you’ll be quite happy here.

    (and I have a comment all prepared to follow this one if it goes how I expect, though I’m going home, so won’t see this until tomorrow)

  • WebMonk

    Hey Don, I realize that you don’t think the whole of my comment to Michelle was roses and chocolate, and I agree. The first part was fine with you as far as I can tell. It was just the second part that you thought was mean, right?

    It was a heck of a lot nicer than a proper dissection of the rest of that comment would have been. Come on, you can read that comment.

    Apparently male atheists are rapists, and the only reason the women at that conference weren’t the recipient of a massive gangrape was … well, she never says. Maybe because they were afraid of jail or something.

    Do you really want me to pull apart her comment the way it deserves, or should I leave it with merely “It was a challenge, but you managed to take the rest of your comment downhill from even that beginning line.”

    And Michelle, you’re welcome here to post and comment. No one attacked you, though apparently you feel some of us were. I thought I have seen a Michelle around here before, but if you aren’t a regular here, two pieces of education on this site:

    First, we play with kids gloves here. Really. This is a nice and safe corner of the Internet. Compared to most places on the Internet we put on great big cartoon balloon gloves before fighting.

    Second, my comment qualifies as “snarky” perhaps, but it wasn’t even close to being mean even by the amazingly kind and polite standards of this blog. On the scale of nastiness used on the rest of the Internet I was saying you’re abso-freakin awesome and brilliant but I have a minor difference of phrasing.

    I’m not in the least worried that you were truly bothered by my comment. If you were, you would have either ACTUALLY gone away, or you would have responded a lot more vehemently than you did.

    So, you are not actually bothered by snarky comments, and that’s great. I suspect that you and Grace will be two peas in a pod and you’ll be quite happy here.

    (and I have a comment all prepared to follow this one if it goes how I expect, though I’m going home, so won’t see this until tomorrow)

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Michelle, ok, your line of reasoning then.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Michelle, ok, your line of reasoning then.

  • Michelle

    @WebMonk did I do something to you to make you so vile and hateful towards me?

  • Michelle

    @WebMonk did I do something to you to make you so vile and hateful towards me?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Michelle, could you tell us exactly what Webmonk says that makes you call him “vile and hateful”?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Michelle, could you tell us exactly what Webmonk says that makes you call him “vile and hateful”?

  • WebMonk

    Michelle, I’m being sunshine and puppies toward you. I say that in all seriousness, no sarcasm at all. Perhaps you are confusing the concepts of “disagreement” and “hate”?

    (and something came up as I was heading out the door, so I’m still at work and probably will be for a while. blegh. I’m in a bad mood, so no guarantees as to whether or not I’ll stay nice. :-) )

  • WebMonk

    Michelle, I’m being sunshine and puppies toward you. I say that in all seriousness, no sarcasm at all. Perhaps you are confusing the concepts of “disagreement” and “hate”?

    (and something came up as I was heading out the door, so I’m still at work and probably will be for a while. blegh. I’m in a bad mood, so no guarantees as to whether or not I’ll stay nice. :-) )

  • Michelle

    No, you are being a bully.

  • Michelle

    No, you are being a bully.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    OK, time to say a couple of things;

    1. We can play intellectual hardball without playing intellectual beanball. A bit of grace in countering an argument–say in a case such as responding to Michelle–ought to be consistent with the Grace He has shown us, no?

    2. When discussing whether atheists have morals, the question is not whether they have morals, but whether they have an objective basis on which to establish morals. Many atheists believe “Thou Shalt not Kill”, but to test their morality, as them “why?” or “on whose authority?” The appeal will be to a human-centric utilitarianism, not a transcendent moral authority.

    Than you say “why do you think it is important that you exist?” There is no good atheistic answer, which is why atheism does in fact boil down to–after cultural mores are overcome by theology–immorality and a denial of the intrinsic worth of a human being.

    And on #10, rlewer may make a good point, or a better explanation may be that beauty may in part depend on the heart within and the Spirit–or lack thereof–within. But funny!

    (and why would an atheist believe drunkenness is wrong without appealing to human-centered utilitarianism?)

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    OK, time to say a couple of things;

    1. We can play intellectual hardball without playing intellectual beanball. A bit of grace in countering an argument–say in a case such as responding to Michelle–ought to be consistent with the Grace He has shown us, no?

    2. When discussing whether atheists have morals, the question is not whether they have morals, but whether they have an objective basis on which to establish morals. Many atheists believe “Thou Shalt not Kill”, but to test their morality, as them “why?” or “on whose authority?” The appeal will be to a human-centric utilitarianism, not a transcendent moral authority.

    Than you say “why do you think it is important that you exist?” There is no good atheistic answer, which is why atheism does in fact boil down to–after cultural mores are overcome by theology–immorality and a denial of the intrinsic worth of a human being.

    And on #10, rlewer may make a good point, or a better explanation may be that beauty may in part depend on the heart within and the Spirit–or lack thereof–within. But funny!

    (and why would an atheist believe drunkenness is wrong without appealing to human-centered utilitarianism?)

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Michelle – please tell us what it is that makes you feel this way. Quote from his posts, maybe?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Michelle – please tell us what it is that makes you feel this way. Quote from his posts, maybe?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Bike – I still fail to see what Webmonk did wrong?

    And did you really read your own comment??

    When discussing whether atheists have morals, the question is not whether they have morals, but whether they have an objective basis on which to establish morals.

    You are changing one question into another. The second question is equally valid, but is not equivalent to the first at all. Not a good rhetorical tactic….

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Bike – I still fail to see what Webmonk did wrong?

    And did you really read your own comment??

    When discussing whether atheists have morals, the question is not whether they have morals, but whether they have an objective basis on which to establish morals.

    You are changing one question into another. The second question is equally valid, but is not equivalent to the first at all. Not a good rhetorical tactic….

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    #83: … not a good tactic in an argument.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    #83: … not a good tactic in an argument.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    bike bubba speaks wisdom

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    bike bubba speaks wisdom

  • WebMonk

    Michelle, I’m being a bully??? I’d be interested to see why you think so.

  • WebMonk

    Michelle, I’m being a bully??? I’d be interested to see why you think so.

  • Grace

    Michelle

    Several of the commenters LOVE to ask endless questions, its’ a way of wasting their time, and yours. Maybe they don’t have anything else to do – I think that’s often the case.

    Another fav game is “you didn’t ansewr my question” which in essence is until you’ve answered the question the way THEY want to hear it, the question continues over and over again.

    It’s a GAME!

  • Grace

    Michelle

    Several of the commenters LOVE to ask endless questions, its’ a way of wasting their time, and yours. Maybe they don’t have anything else to do – I think that’s often the case.

    Another fav game is “you didn’t ansewr my question” which in essence is until you’ve answered the question the way THEY want to hear it, the question continues over and over again.

    It’s a GAME!

  • DonS

    Webmonk @ 75: I didn’t have a problem with your comment or your point. I don’t agree with your interpretation of what she was saying — I think Michelle’s original comment was intended to be a statement on the human condition — i.e. without Christ, morality is relative, and if morality is relative, it is also a veneer. When reg re-stated it that way later in the thread, she concurred that was her real point. But, that’s neither here nor there. You were certainly entitled to challenge the original statement she made — that’s the point of this blog.

    The absolute only problem I had with your original post was: “It was a challenge, but you managed to take the rest of your comment downhill from even that beginning line”, and particularly the “It was a challenge” part. That was the insult — and it added nothing whatsoever to the point you were trying to make. In fact, it detracted from it by making the conversation about Michelle and you, rather than about the subject of the post. And it drove a personal wedge between the two of you, a pointless one, for no good reason.

  • DonS

    Webmonk @ 75: I didn’t have a problem with your comment or your point. I don’t agree with your interpretation of what she was saying — I think Michelle’s original comment was intended to be a statement on the human condition — i.e. without Christ, morality is relative, and if morality is relative, it is also a veneer. When reg re-stated it that way later in the thread, she concurred that was her real point. But, that’s neither here nor there. You were certainly entitled to challenge the original statement she made — that’s the point of this blog.

    The absolute only problem I had with your original post was: “It was a challenge, but you managed to take the rest of your comment downhill from even that beginning line”, and particularly the “It was a challenge” part. That was the insult — and it added nothing whatsoever to the point you were trying to make. In fact, it detracted from it by making the conversation about Michelle and you, rather than about the subject of the post. And it drove a personal wedge between the two of you, a pointless one, for no good reason.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Michelle, Grace are singularly unable to expand on her comments, to show a line of reasoning, or any sort of logical though process. Her mental process is – “I said something, and that is proof enough!”

    And it has nothing to do with men vs woman – sg, one of our other frequent posters and a mother, loves the debate, answers questions, and gets to the bottom of things. We disagree on some things, but she is a respected member of our little clan here.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Michelle, Grace are singularly unable to expand on her comments, to show a line of reasoning, or any sort of logical though process. Her mental process is – “I said something, and that is proof enough!”

    And it has nothing to do with men vs woman – sg, one of our other frequent posters and a mother, loves the debate, answers questions, and gets to the bottom of things. We disagree on some things, but she is a respected member of our little clan here.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Actually, Michelle (@80), it appears to me that you’re the one being the bully. Anyone who disagrees with you gets labeled an “attacker”, “rude”, “vile and hateful”, or just gets an emotionally overwrought response.

    If you’re going to comment here, please learn how to defend your ideas, and please accept that people aren’t necessarily going to agree with you.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Actually, Michelle (@80), it appears to me that you’re the one being the bully. Anyone who disagrees with you gets labeled an “attacker”, “rude”, “vile and hateful”, or just gets an emotionally overwrought response.

    If you’re going to comment here, please learn how to defend your ideas, and please accept that people aren’t necessarily going to agree with you.

  • WebMonk

    Since I’m sitting here waiting, I’ll toss in a comment or two.

    Bike, you see that “humanistic utilitarianism” as a bad thing. Atheists don’t. And as far as producing a moral code which is against things like rape, murder, theft, etc, utilitarianism does decently well.
    (Bike, I’m not saying you believe the following, I’m just bored and spouting stuff through my fingertips. I re-read and realized it might sound like I was saying you hold the following. I’m not.)

    Some may say that a moral code based on utilitarianism will lead to PolPot/Stalin/Mao or whatever, but that’s roughly as valid as saying Christianity leads to the Crusades and that wonderfully unexpected Spanish Inquisition.

    I happen to think that at its fundamental base, nontheistic utilitarianism is without ultimate support, but people don’t operate on !!ULTIMATE!! !!LOGICAL!! !!FOUNDATION!!. In our day-to-day life, people operate so many levels above such worldview foundations that a moral system based on nontheistic utilitarianism can produce a moral culture which operates just fine.

    As has been mentioned before, ancient Japan, ancient China, ancient India, ancient Syria, etc, were all quite thoroughly bereft of any Judaic influence and they predated Christianity. However, they had moral systems that allowed them to have quite moral societies.

    The problem with nontheistic morals is not that they don’t work, and it isn’t anywhere even vaguely the case that atheists don’t have moral codes, and it’s still even more ridiculous that atheists cannot live according to those moral codes with adherence that many Christians might envy.

    Atheists and nontheists left to their own devices don’t devolve to the most amoral possible state. To suggest so is to set up straw men. Christianity’s goal is not create a moral society. We shouldn’t feel threatened if there are other routes to create moral societies.

    So what! So atheism can use utilitarianism to form a moral culture. Big deal. Pantheistic cultures can do the same. Anyone or any deistic bent can do so. It doesn’t mean they will, but it’s certainly possible.

    If we use morals and moral society as the defense of Christianity, then we are already so far off target that we’ve lost even if we do prove Christianity is the only logical foundation for morals.

  • WebMonk

    Since I’m sitting here waiting, I’ll toss in a comment or two.

    Bike, you see that “humanistic utilitarianism” as a bad thing. Atheists don’t. And as far as producing a moral code which is against things like rape, murder, theft, etc, utilitarianism does decently well.
    (Bike, I’m not saying you believe the following, I’m just bored and spouting stuff through my fingertips. I re-read and realized it might sound like I was saying you hold the following. I’m not.)

    Some may say that a moral code based on utilitarianism will lead to PolPot/Stalin/Mao or whatever, but that’s roughly as valid as saying Christianity leads to the Crusades and that wonderfully unexpected Spanish Inquisition.

    I happen to think that at its fundamental base, nontheistic utilitarianism is without ultimate support, but people don’t operate on !!ULTIMATE!! !!LOGICAL!! !!FOUNDATION!!. In our day-to-day life, people operate so many levels above such worldview foundations that a moral system based on nontheistic utilitarianism can produce a moral culture which operates just fine.

    As has been mentioned before, ancient Japan, ancient China, ancient India, ancient Syria, etc, were all quite thoroughly bereft of any Judaic influence and they predated Christianity. However, they had moral systems that allowed them to have quite moral societies.

    The problem with nontheistic morals is not that they don’t work, and it isn’t anywhere even vaguely the case that atheists don’t have moral codes, and it’s still even more ridiculous that atheists cannot live according to those moral codes with adherence that many Christians might envy.

    Atheists and nontheists left to their own devices don’t devolve to the most amoral possible state. To suggest so is to set up straw men. Christianity’s goal is not create a moral society. We shouldn’t feel threatened if there are other routes to create moral societies.

    So what! So atheism can use utilitarianism to form a moral culture. Big deal. Pantheistic cultures can do the same. Anyone or any deistic bent can do so. It doesn’t mean they will, but it’s certainly possible.

    If we use morals and moral society as the defense of Christianity, then we are already so far off target that we’ve lost even if we do prove Christianity is the only logical foundation for morals.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Rlewer said (@10):

    A picture shown in the article causes one to wonder how drunk the “harassers” must have been.

    Behold the superior morality of the Christian, which makes fun of a sexually harassed woman by implying she’s ugly.

    Way to go, Christians!

    (Oh, and head-nod to Bike Bubba @81, who thought that comment was funny. I’m sure he’d think the same if we made similar comments about his wife, mother, or daughter.)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Rlewer said (@10):

    A picture shown in the article causes one to wonder how drunk the “harassers” must have been.

    Behold the superior morality of the Christian, which makes fun of a sexually harassed woman by implying she’s ugly.

    Way to go, Christians!

    (Oh, and head-nod to Bike Bubba @81, who thought that comment was funny. I’m sure he’d think the same if we made similar comments about his wife, mother, or daughter.)

  • Grace

    WebMonk – 91

    “Since I’m sitting here waiting, I’ll toss in a comment or two.”

    Of course you’re “waiting” – “waiting” to bait again. What a joke! You don’t have anything elwe to do with your bait. :razz:

  • Grace

    WebMonk – 91

    “Since I’m sitting here waiting, I’ll toss in a comment or two.”

    Of course you’re “waiting” – “waiting” to bait again. What a joke! You don’t have anything elwe to do with your bait. :razz:

  • WebMonk

    Got it Don. Should I officially announce that my comment in 14 is hereby edited to conclude with:

    That first line was incredibly, amazingly false, but the rest of the comment goes even further in plumbing the depths of absurd nonsense and outright falsehoods too numerous to expound upon in such a format as this.

    ?
    Better?

  • WebMonk

    Got it Don. Should I officially announce that my comment in 14 is hereby edited to conclude with:

    That first line was incredibly, amazingly false, but the rest of the comment goes even further in plumbing the depths of absurd nonsense and outright falsehoods too numerous to expound upon in such a format as this.

    ?
    Better?

  • WebMonk

    Hey tODD and rlewer – if you check out that photo, you’ll see it’s not actually of the women who were harassed. :-D

  • WebMonk

    Hey tODD and rlewer – if you check out that photo, you’ll see it’s not actually of the women who were harassed. :-D

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Sorry, WebMonk (@95), but Rebecca Watson actually is in that photo. Still, it was a stupid comment for Rlewer to make, or for Bike Bubba to laugh at.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Sorry, WebMonk (@95), but Rebecca Watson actually is in that photo. Still, it was a stupid comment for Rlewer to make, or for Bike Bubba to laugh at.

  • Donegal Misfortune

    If, according to atheists, God is a phantasm of the mind and does not exist, then theists worship nothing. So when you add a negating prefix to that which worships nothing, theist, you get he who does worship something. Long hand it would be, he who does not believe in worshiping nothing.

    Just a Paradigm of rhetorics

  • Donegal Misfortune

    If, according to atheists, God is a phantasm of the mind and does not exist, then theists worship nothing. So when you add a negating prefix to that which worships nothing, theist, you get he who does worship something. Long hand it would be, he who does not believe in worshiping nothing.

    Just a Paradigm of rhetorics

  • WebMonk

    Sigh, I sit corrected. I skipped over the names when I saw it was a picture of a panel of speakers.

    Given that Rebecca is the second from the left in that picture, rlewer’s comment still doesn’t fit – she’s not a supermodel but she’s a long way from being a hag either.

  • WebMonk

    Sigh, I sit corrected. I skipped over the names when I saw it was a picture of a panel of speakers.

    Given that Rebecca is the second from the left in that picture, rlewer’s comment still doesn’t fit – she’s not a supermodel but she’s a long way from being a hag either.

  • reg

    Web Monk,
    You were unjustifiably harsh in jumping on Michelle as you did with harshness and on her first comment no less. It was personal and mean spirited and there was little leading up to it. Your follow up just dug a deeper hole. So I guess what I am saying is I vote bully.

    It might be interesting to conduct a straw poll on the bully/not bully issue. [And the atheists can pick a side unencumbered by any concern for the rightness or wrongness of their choice, simply based upon a subjective utilitarian, self-interested assessment. ;-) ]

  • reg

    Web Monk,
    You were unjustifiably harsh in jumping on Michelle as you did with harshness and on her first comment no less. It was personal and mean spirited and there was little leading up to it. Your follow up just dug a deeper hole. So I guess what I am saying is I vote bully.

    It might be interesting to conduct a straw poll on the bully/not bully issue. [And the atheists can pick a side unencumbered by any concern for the rightness or wrongness of their choice, simply based upon a subjective utilitarian, self-interested assessment. ;-) ]

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Some Christians feel the need to defend to the death the notion that Christianity is the source and cause of morality (or at least a superior morality), precisely because they don’t really get what Christianity is about.

    So they lash out at atheists whenever they can in situations like these, laughing at their foibles, because, at least in this very particular example, it kind of looks like some atheists are less moral than these Christians imagine themselves to be. “I thank you, God, that we Christians are not immoral like these atheists,” and all that.

    Of course, many atheists make the same mistake that these Christians do, believing Christianity to be about strict adherence to a long list of rules, and so they do the same thing in return, vastly blowing out of proportion any stories of Christian immorality. Of which there is no shortage.

    But people who understand who Jesus is and what He did do not feel threatened when they meet atheists whose morals surpass their own. Such Christians don’t feel the need to slander the morals of a large swath of people — itself not a terribly moral thing to do — in order to maintain a consistent worldview for themselves.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Some Christians feel the need to defend to the death the notion that Christianity is the source and cause of morality (or at least a superior morality), precisely because they don’t really get what Christianity is about.

    So they lash out at atheists whenever they can in situations like these, laughing at their foibles, because, at least in this very particular example, it kind of looks like some atheists are less moral than these Christians imagine themselves to be. “I thank you, God, that we Christians are not immoral like these atheists,” and all that.

    Of course, many atheists make the same mistake that these Christians do, believing Christianity to be about strict adherence to a long list of rules, and so they do the same thing in return, vastly blowing out of proportion any stories of Christian immorality. Of which there is no shortage.

    But people who understand who Jesus is and what He did do not feel threatened when they meet atheists whose morals surpass their own. Such Christians don’t feel the need to slander the morals of a large swath of people — itself not a terribly moral thing to do — in order to maintain a consistent worldview for themselves.

  • Jon

    Let’s prove ‘em all wrong and have a Cranach Convention–in Vegas!

  • Jon

    Let’s prove ‘em all wrong and have a Cranach Convention–in Vegas!

  • Donegal Misfortune

    I never met an atheist I believed in.

  • Donegal Misfortune

    I never met an atheist I believed in.

  • DonS

    Webmonk @ 94: I made my point. You can do with it what you want. But a charitable response is not to be underestimated, in terms of having genuine influence.

  • DonS

    Webmonk @ 94: I made my point. You can do with it what you want. But a charitable response is not to be underestimated, in terms of having genuine influence.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Todd, which was exactly my point earlier. I can’t remember reg’s theology, but it is interesting that the many of those jumping in and saying that atheists are ipso facto immoral, are folks from evangelical backgrounds – Bike, Don, Grace, J Dean: Because they still believe that the Gospel is about morality, they have to believe that atheists, and non-Christians can by definition not have a morality of their own.

    Webmonk, of course is the exception, but then he always is :)

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Todd, which was exactly my point earlier. I can’t remember reg’s theology, but it is interesting that the many of those jumping in and saying that atheists are ipso facto immoral, are folks from evangelical backgrounds – Bike, Don, Grace, J Dean: Because they still believe that the Gospel is about morality, they have to believe that atheists, and non-Christians can by definition not have a morality of their own.

    Webmonk, of course is the exception, but then he always is :)

  • DonS

    Klasie @ 104: I have not said, at all, that atheists are ispso facto immoral. All I ever said is that is that a moral system which is not based on absolute truth is relativistic, and thus ephemeral, i.e. not to be trusted because it can be changed at the whim of those in power.

    Lutherans believe this too, I believe ;-)

  • DonS

    Klasie @ 104: I have not said, at all, that atheists are ispso facto immoral. All I ever said is that is that a moral system which is not based on absolute truth is relativistic, and thus ephemeral, i.e. not to be trusted because it can be changed at the whim of those in power.

    Lutherans believe this too, I believe ;-)

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    reg, regarding your straw poll: Michelle is a passive-aggressive bully. Webmonk is sharp in his expression, but I do not believe there is malice in what he says. He is one of those non-diplomatic, painfully honest fellows.

    He is our MacPhee, though a theist. (Planetary Trilogy reference, if anyone wondered).

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    reg, regarding your straw poll: Michelle is a passive-aggressive bully. Webmonk is sharp in his expression, but I do not believe there is malice in what he says. He is one of those non-diplomatic, painfully honest fellows.

    He is our MacPhee, though a theist. (Planetary Trilogy reference, if anyone wondered).

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    DonS – sure. But your definition of relativistic morals is but a hair-breadth away from without morals. Which is not what I and others said….

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    DonS – sure. But your definition of relativistic morals is but a hair-breadth away from without morals. Which is not what I and others said….

  • reg

    KK,
    I am a reformed Christian and a Baptist but I never suggested that atheists were all not moral. I said their morality was inconsistent with their core presuppositions and not rational. I also said that the fact that many atheists try to lead moral lives is consistent with the fact that (a) we are made in the image of God, and even post fall some of that remains and (b) that most atheists are not really atheists, just angry agnostics or deists. I was an atheist for 30 years of my life and had a keen sense of morality, but the fact is I could not explain it and my atheism was basically what I said angry agnosticism/deism. Finally I do not claim that since my conversion I am more moral than before-only that I at least can give an explanation for my morality that logically holds water. Beyond that I pray that by the grace of God, by his spirit I may hopefully be more restrained in my sinfulness, but no promises, and that He may be merciful and hold on to me in spite of my being prone to wander.

  • reg

    KK,
    I am a reformed Christian and a Baptist but I never suggested that atheists were all not moral. I said their morality was inconsistent with their core presuppositions and not rational. I also said that the fact that many atheists try to lead moral lives is consistent with the fact that (a) we are made in the image of God, and even post fall some of that remains and (b) that most atheists are not really atheists, just angry agnostics or deists. I was an atheist for 30 years of my life and had a keen sense of morality, but the fact is I could not explain it and my atheism was basically what I said angry agnosticism/deism. Finally I do not claim that since my conversion I am more moral than before-only that I at least can give an explanation for my morality that logically holds water. Beyond that I pray that by the grace of God, by his spirit I may hopefully be more restrained in my sinfulness, but no promises, and that He may be merciful and hold on to me in spite of my being prone to wander.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    reg, yes, that’s make a bit more sense. Although I don’t agree with all that you are saying, but I can see the element of consistency.

    This is off topic, but would you care to share what brought an end to your atheism (1), and why you became a Reformed Baptist of all things? (2).

    Disclosure: I have received abominable treatment from the hand of RB’s, worse than any other denomination or religion (or non-religion) out there. So I’d like to know ;)

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    reg, yes, that’s make a bit more sense. Although I don’t agree with all that you are saying, but I can see the element of consistency.

    This is off topic, but would you care to share what brought an end to your atheism (1), and why you became a Reformed Baptist of all things? (2).

    Disclosure: I have received abominable treatment from the hand of RB’s, worse than any other denomination or religion (or non-religion) out there. So I’d like to know ;)

  • DonS

    Klasie, what I see you and others saying, probably best exemplified by tODD’s comments, is that Christians, as usual, have a habit of self-righteousness. That is true. The fact is, we are sinners and no better than anyone else at following the moral code to which we subscribe, i.e. obedience to Christ and His teachings. But, regardless, we still have that absolute moral code, even though we fall short of obeying it. Our standards of right and wrong are, or should be, unchanging, as God is unchanging. Atheists reject the concept of God, and thus necessarily reject His moral teachings as being absolute. That is the difference.

  • DonS

    Klasie, what I see you and others saying, probably best exemplified by tODD’s comments, is that Christians, as usual, have a habit of self-righteousness. That is true. The fact is, we are sinners and no better than anyone else at following the moral code to which we subscribe, i.e. obedience to Christ and His teachings. But, regardless, we still have that absolute moral code, even though we fall short of obeying it. Our standards of right and wrong are, or should be, unchanging, as God is unchanging. Atheists reject the concept of God, and thus necessarily reject His moral teachings as being absolute. That is the difference.

  • reg

    Not Reformed Baptist, reformed and Baptist. Touched on the how in the Ascent Theology exchanges a few days ago-you can look there. Sorry about the abominable treatment you received.

  • reg

    Not Reformed Baptist, reformed and Baptist. Touched on the how in the Ascent Theology exchanges a few days ago-you can look there. Sorry about the abominable treatment you received.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    DonS – sure. But here is a question: Is slavery wrong?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    DonS – sure. But here is a question: Is slavery wrong?

  • DonS

    Sure, what, Klasie? Sure you agree or sure DonS is an idiot and I’m going to trip him up with an unanswerable question?

    Define “slavery”, Klasie. That is the key to the answer to your question.

  • DonS

    Sure, what, Klasie? Sure you agree or sure DonS is an idiot and I’m going to trip him up with an unanswerable question?

    Define “slavery”, Klasie. That is the key to the answer to your question.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    reg and others: I did notice that nobody took up my description of Natural processes leading up to Natural Law, way back in #51.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    reg and others: I did notice that nobody took up my description of Natural processes leading up to Natural Law, way back in #51.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Sure, I see what you are saying, and I largely agree with you. Don’t read things in a negative sense, DonS.

    Slavery:

    noun
    [mass noun]
    the state of being a slave:
    thousands had been sold into slavery
    the practice or system of owning slaves:
    he was resolved to impose a number of reforms, including the abolition of slavery

    Slave:
    noun
    (especially in the past) a person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them:

    The above is from the Oxford. Here’s the wikipedia entry: Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work.[1] Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Sure, I see what you are saying, and I largely agree with you. Don’t read things in a negative sense, DonS.

    Slavery:

    noun
    [mass noun]
    the state of being a slave:
    thousands had been sold into slavery
    the practice or system of owning slaves:
    he was resolved to impose a number of reforms, including the abolition of slavery

    Slave:
    noun
    (especially in the past) a person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them:

    The above is from the Oxford. Here’s the wikipedia entry: Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work.[1] Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation.

  • DonS

    Yes, Klasie, we do agree, largely. That’s my point. But there’s been a lot of heat generated in this thread, and not so much light, because of the highly personal and aggressive tone of the comments.

    The essence of our absolute moral code, of course, is the boundless mercy and love of God, together Christ’s commandments that we are to love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds, and love our neighbors as ourselves. One cannot abide by this moral code and treat women the way it has been alleged they have been treated at this particular atheists conference. With respect to slavery, it is difficult to imagine how involuntary servitude could ever be countenanced as loving of your neighbor. Indentured servitude is another matter, because that was voluntary, and worked to alleviate the servant of a crushing debt. Masters of indentured servants, of course, had a clear obligation to be humane, as made clear by Paul.

  • DonS

    Yes, Klasie, we do agree, largely. That’s my point. But there’s been a lot of heat generated in this thread, and not so much light, because of the highly personal and aggressive tone of the comments.

    The essence of our absolute moral code, of course, is the boundless mercy and love of God, together Christ’s commandments that we are to love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds, and love our neighbors as ourselves. One cannot abide by this moral code and treat women the way it has been alleged they have been treated at this particular atheists conference. With respect to slavery, it is difficult to imagine how involuntary servitude could ever be countenanced as loving of your neighbor. Indentured servitude is another matter, because that was voluntary, and worked to alleviate the servant of a crushing debt. Masters of indentured servants, of course, had a clear obligation to be humane, as made clear by Paul.

  • formerly just steve

    It’s more proper to say that Atheists do not believe in sin–at least in the common usage of the term which connotes a violation of a some religious principle. They do believe in morality and many of those I know seem hell-bent (pardon the pun) on proving it.

  • formerly just steve

    It’s more proper to say that Atheists do not believe in sin–at least in the common usage of the term which connotes a violation of a some religious principle. They do believe in morality and many of those I know seem hell-bent (pardon the pun) on proving it.

  • formerly just steve

    It just dawned on me that after 115 posts that last one probably didn’t need to be said.

  • formerly just steve

    It just dawned on me that after 115 posts that last one probably didn’t need to be said.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Fjs, not a bad comment actually. Thanks for making it.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Fjs, not a bad comment actually. Thanks for making it.

  • Pete

    So tODD, @39 sez:

    “Not sure if you noticed, Pete, but even if God is in the picture, our definitions of “good” just might differ, anyhow. It might be fun to pile on the atheists here, but it can’t have escaped your notice that, any other day, we’re still disagreeing with each other here about other things.”

    Well – yes. What I was trying to convey (with too few words) was the thought that theists generally agree with one another as to the nature of “good” as an abstract concept. They certainly may and do disagree on how that “good” is expressed or best achieved in terms of particular policies – e.g. the discussions as to whether conservative or liberal social policies are best. But they don’t seem to have the penchant that atheists do – particularly atheists in positions of power – for things such as genocide. Things that even the most simple-minded theist knows belong on the “bad” pile, not the “good” pile.

    On a different note – has this thread been melodramatic, or what? Michelle – hang in there, kid. Don’t give ‘em the pleasure of seeing that lower lip tremble. WebMonk – I dunno, maybe some sensitivity classes or ballroom dance lessons are in order. It really was about a 7/10 on the snark scale.

  • Pete

    So tODD, @39 sez:

    “Not sure if you noticed, Pete, but even if God is in the picture, our definitions of “good” just might differ, anyhow. It might be fun to pile on the atheists here, but it can’t have escaped your notice that, any other day, we’re still disagreeing with each other here about other things.”

    Well – yes. What I was trying to convey (with too few words) was the thought that theists generally agree with one another as to the nature of “good” as an abstract concept. They certainly may and do disagree on how that “good” is expressed or best achieved in terms of particular policies – e.g. the discussions as to whether conservative or liberal social policies are best. But they don’t seem to have the penchant that atheists do – particularly atheists in positions of power – for things such as genocide. Things that even the most simple-minded theist knows belong on the “bad” pile, not the “good” pile.

    On a different note – has this thread been melodramatic, or what? Michelle – hang in there, kid. Don’t give ‘em the pleasure of seeing that lower lip tremble. WebMonk – I dunno, maybe some sensitivity classes or ballroom dance lessons are in order. It really was about a 7/10 on the snark scale.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@116), sure, if we want to dial it all the way back to Jesus’ two-part summary of the Law, then we could reasonably claim that morality (to the degree that one can conflate morality with the Law) has never changed. We are always called upon to love God and our neighbor.

    And yet, it is quite obvious to me that, throughout time and space, mankind has had rather different ideas about what it meant to love one’s neighbor. Ask pretty much any modern person what they think about the kinsman-redeemer law, or forcing a rapist to marry his victim, and you’ll get a good sense of changing mores over time. Of course, in their context, these laws could easily be understood as showing love to the women involved. In their context.

    And then you said this:

    With respect to slavery, it is difficult to imagine how involuntary servitude could ever be countenanced as loving of your neighbor.

    And yet, correct me if I’m wrong, but involuntary servitude — at least of non-Israelites — was allowed in the Old Testament. Was that immoral?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@116), sure, if we want to dial it all the way back to Jesus’ two-part summary of the Law, then we could reasonably claim that morality (to the degree that one can conflate morality with the Law) has never changed. We are always called upon to love God and our neighbor.

    And yet, it is quite obvious to me that, throughout time and space, mankind has had rather different ideas about what it meant to love one’s neighbor. Ask pretty much any modern person what they think about the kinsman-redeemer law, or forcing a rapist to marry his victim, and you’ll get a good sense of changing mores over time. Of course, in their context, these laws could easily be understood as showing love to the women involved. In their context.

    And then you said this:

    With respect to slavery, it is difficult to imagine how involuntary servitude could ever be countenanced as loving of your neighbor.

    And yet, correct me if I’m wrong, but involuntary servitude — at least of non-Israelites — was allowed in the Old Testament. Was that immoral?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Pete (@120):

    But [theists] don’t seem to have the penchant that atheists do – particularly atheists in positions of power – for things such as genocide.

    Really? Really? Are you going to make the claim that theists don’t have the penchant for genocide? Really? So the Hutu people are mainly atheists? The Turkish Committee of Union and Progress and the Three Pashas were all atheists? Milosevic and the Serbs were, to a man, atheists? Indonesian President Suharto, who presided over the invasion and occupation of East Timor, an atheist? And, of course, in all of Germany, there were no theists to be found involved in the Holocaust?

    Do I understand you correctly?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Pete (@120):

    But [theists] don’t seem to have the penchant that atheists do – particularly atheists in positions of power – for things such as genocide.

    Really? Really? Are you going to make the claim that theists don’t have the penchant for genocide? Really? So the Hutu people are mainly atheists? The Turkish Committee of Union and Progress and the Three Pashas were all atheists? Milosevic and the Serbs were, to a man, atheists? Indonesian President Suharto, who presided over the invasion and occupation of East Timor, an atheist? And, of course, in all of Germany, there were no theists to be found involved in the Holocaust?

    Do I understand you correctly?

  • DonS

    tODD @ 121: What’s the alternative to “dialing it back” to Jesus’ two-part summary? That’s kind of where it’s at for Christians, isn’t it?

    Sure, how to love one’s neighbor is the rub. But I don’t think it ever looks like rape, do you? As for O.T. morality, particularly as it applied to the nation of Israel, there are a couple of things to keep in mind, I think. The enslavement (or killing) of non-Israelites was directly commanded by God, at appropriate times, related to the level of threat of allowing those non-Israelites to otherwise live unimpeded within Israel’s territory. So, that is some clear moral instruction, regardless of whether it fits with your worldview, and was intended to serve the greater purpose of ensuring Israel’s continuing obedience of God. Since morality is, in an absolute sense, about obedience of God, whatever He directly commands is obviously the moral choice. Israel’s moral failing was in usually not obeying these commands of the Lord.

    The other thing to keep in mind is that these examples are not directed to individuals, but to the nation. There is a difference, and we still see it today. For example, in WWII, a lot of Germans and Japanese were killed, wounded, and otherwise mistreated by allied servicemen. Were those servicemen failing to love their German and Japanese neighbors? Most would say no, because they were acting on behalf of their countries, under orders, in order to preserve the free world.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 121: What’s the alternative to “dialing it back” to Jesus’ two-part summary? That’s kind of where it’s at for Christians, isn’t it?

    Sure, how to love one’s neighbor is the rub. But I don’t think it ever looks like rape, do you? As for O.T. morality, particularly as it applied to the nation of Israel, there are a couple of things to keep in mind, I think. The enslavement (or killing) of non-Israelites was directly commanded by God, at appropriate times, related to the level of threat of allowing those non-Israelites to otherwise live unimpeded within Israel’s territory. So, that is some clear moral instruction, regardless of whether it fits with your worldview, and was intended to serve the greater purpose of ensuring Israel’s continuing obedience of God. Since morality is, in an absolute sense, about obedience of God, whatever He directly commands is obviously the moral choice. Israel’s moral failing was in usually not obeying these commands of the Lord.

    The other thing to keep in mind is that these examples are not directed to individuals, but to the nation. There is a difference, and we still see it today. For example, in WWII, a lot of Germans and Japanese were killed, wounded, and otherwise mistreated by allied servicemen. Were those servicemen failing to love their German and Japanese neighbors? Most would say no, because they were acting on behalf of their countries, under orders, in order to preserve the free world.

  • Pete

    tODD @122

    “Do I understand you correctly?”

    Not really – you seem to think I’m saying that theists are utterly incapable of committing moral atrocities, which is obviously untrue. Rather, I’m contending that atheism and its attendant rejection of God’s law(s) has been shown historically to be more systematically prone to such things. The principles that undergird, say, Christianity, provide the corrective for lapses such as the crusades. Atheism has no such corrective.

  • Pete

    tODD @122

    “Do I understand you correctly?”

    Not really – you seem to think I’m saying that theists are utterly incapable of committing moral atrocities, which is obviously untrue. Rather, I’m contending that atheism and its attendant rejection of God’s law(s) has been shown historically to be more systematically prone to such things. The principles that undergird, say, Christianity, provide the corrective for lapses such as the crusades. Atheism has no such corrective.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Pete – even that assertion is false. The only atheist-led genocides were those of Stalin, and maybe Pol Pot (although it is a mystery what went on in their heads). The Nazi’s were from a Christian background, but were developing (under Bornman) the new Aryan religion. None of the other famous genocides were atheist in nature. Anyway, as someone remarked earlier, the atheists as a major force is much younger than the rest of mankind’s religious worldviews….

    I say it again: Christianity is not about morals.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Pete – even that assertion is false. The only atheist-led genocides were those of Stalin, and maybe Pol Pot (although it is a mystery what went on in their heads). The Nazi’s were from a Christian background, but were developing (under Bornman) the new Aryan religion. None of the other famous genocides were atheist in nature. Anyway, as someone remarked earlier, the atheists as a major force is much younger than the rest of mankind’s religious worldviews….

    I say it again: Christianity is not about morals.

  • John C

    Todd at 45
    Why should any individual care if the species lives on after they are dead.

    But we do care. We are social beings. We care about our family and in large and small ways we care about our fellow citizens. We want to see our children’s children lead lives of fulfilment and that is dependent to some extent on the legacy I and my fellow citizens create.
    We are born with a sense of empathy and a capacity for altruism that may sometimes atsonish. You may think Todd, that this is a gift from God and this may be true but I think it’s a consequence of our evolutionary development.

  • John C

    Todd at 45
    Why should any individual care if the species lives on after they are dead.

    But we do care. We are social beings. We care about our family and in large and small ways we care about our fellow citizens. We want to see our children’s children lead lives of fulfilment and that is dependent to some extent on the legacy I and my fellow citizens create.
    We are born with a sense of empathy and a capacity for altruism that may sometimes atsonish. You may think Todd, that this is a gift from God and this may be true but I think it’s a consequence of our evolutionary development.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    John C (@126), that’s as fine an example as I’ve ever seen of begging the question. You completely failed to answer my question.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    John C (@126), that’s as fine an example as I’ve ever seen of begging the question. You completely failed to answer my question.

  • JonathanH

    What about a new question?
    Instead of “How morality?” which we’ve mostly confirmed is an insignificant/inconsequential question, let’s ask”Why morality? (and what for?)”

    Now we can actually get wildly different answers from people all claiming to be Christians.

    (I have more to say but I can’t quite formulate it cleanly yet. I’ve rewritten this comment a couple times already. Mostly to trim massive amounts of extra words)

  • JonathanH

    What about a new question?
    Instead of “How morality?” which we’ve mostly confirmed is an insignificant/inconsequential question, let’s ask”Why morality? (and what for?)”

    Now we can actually get wildly different answers from people all claiming to be Christians.

    (I have more to say but I can’t quite formulate it cleanly yet. I’ve rewritten this comment a couple times already. Mostly to trim massive amounts of extra words)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Pete (@124):

    I’m contending that atheism … has been shown historically to be more systematically prone to [committing moral atrocities].

    And I see no basis for this claim. It’s a comparison, but what is your data? I’ve hinted at mine. Shall we count up genocides? Victims?

    The principles that undergird, say, Christianity, provide the corrective for lapses such as the crusades. Atheism has no such corrective.

    You seem to think that there’s such a thing as Christian morality, as opposed to just morality. I disagree. The corrective for atheists is that they believe genocide is wrong, just like Christians do.

    And I don’t understand your point about the Crusades. Obviously, Christians committed those acts, and were not inhibited by any principles or morals.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Pete (@124):

    I’m contending that atheism … has been shown historically to be more systematically prone to [committing moral atrocities].

    And I see no basis for this claim. It’s a comparison, but what is your data? I’ve hinted at mine. Shall we count up genocides? Victims?

    The principles that undergird, say, Christianity, provide the corrective for lapses such as the crusades. Atheism has no such corrective.

    You seem to think that there’s such a thing as Christian morality, as opposed to just morality. I disagree. The corrective for atheists is that they believe genocide is wrong, just like Christians do.

    And I don’t understand your point about the Crusades. Obviously, Christians committed those acts, and were not inhibited by any principles or morals.

  • John C

    well Todd, either I don’t understand your question or you don’t understand my answer.
    It’s probably a conceptual leap I just can’t make.

  • John C

    well Todd, either I don’t understand your question or you don’t understand my answer.
    It’s probably a conceptual leap I just can’t make.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    John C (@130), then you should probably read Klasie’s answer to a similar question (@51). It is, at least, an intriguing attempt.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    John C (@130), then you should probably read Klasie’s answer to a similar question (@51). It is, at least, an intriguing attempt.

  • Pete

    tODD @129

    “And I don’t understand your point about the Crusades. Obviously, Christians committed those acts, and were not inhibited by any principles or morals.”

    You’re thinking too hard. The Christian crusaders were acting in violation of moral principles contained within their religion. No such principles exist in atheism.

  • Pete

    tODD @129

    “And I don’t understand your point about the Crusades. Obviously, Christians committed those acts, and were not inhibited by any principles or morals.”

    You’re thinking too hard. The Christian crusaders were acting in violation of moral principles contained within their religion. No such principles exist in atheism.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Pete – were they? Or were they in violation of moral principles which we NOW hold? And I’m not talking about obvious, definable atrocities, like the sacking of Constantinople.

    Essentially, they were trying to reconquer Palestine, after the Byzantines lost it to the Islamic Wave. This was to assure the safety of religious pilgrims. The rest of what happened was pretty common for warfare of that era – brutal and unacceptable NOW.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Pete – were they? Or were they in violation of moral principles which we NOW hold? And I’m not talking about obvious, definable atrocities, like the sacking of Constantinople.

    Essentially, they were trying to reconquer Palestine, after the Byzantines lost it to the Islamic Wave. This was to assure the safety of religious pilgrims. The rest of what happened was pretty common for warfare of that era – brutal and unacceptable NOW.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Pete (@132):

    The Christian crusaders were acting in violation of moral principles contained within their religion.

    According to whom? Clearly they didn’t think so. They found their actions eminently moral! You know, the reclaiming of the Holy Land and all that. I don’t really consider the Crusades an example of genocide, anyhow, but I’m sure the Christians behind the Bosnian genocide also thought they were doing moral good in their actions towards the Muslims in their country. You know, unbelievers and all that.

    It’s not like these people undertook their actions with a shrug, saying, “You know, killing all these people violates my morals; oh well.” But they believe that other morals of theirs were more important. If you want to say that they were wrong (I agree), then that sort of makes the point that what is considered moral has not always been absolute, that it has shifted.

    No such principles exist in atheism.

    Which, again, appears to bring us back to the claim that atheists have no morals. And, again, I strongly disagree.

    But even if you grant that atheists do have morals (I hope you do; if not, try talking to some), then what you appear to be saying is that morals that, to you, are ill-founded are superior to those that can be conveniently overlooked by appealing to some religious nature (e.g. justifying murder because you’re killing non-believers). I don’t think they’re superior, either as to actual philosophy goes, or as what history tells us the results were of either.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Pete (@132):

    The Christian crusaders were acting in violation of moral principles contained within their religion.

    According to whom? Clearly they didn’t think so. They found their actions eminently moral! You know, the reclaiming of the Holy Land and all that. I don’t really consider the Crusades an example of genocide, anyhow, but I’m sure the Christians behind the Bosnian genocide also thought they were doing moral good in their actions towards the Muslims in their country. You know, unbelievers and all that.

    It’s not like these people undertook their actions with a shrug, saying, “You know, killing all these people violates my morals; oh well.” But they believe that other morals of theirs were more important. If you want to say that they were wrong (I agree), then that sort of makes the point that what is considered moral has not always been absolute, that it has shifted.

    No such principles exist in atheism.

    Which, again, appears to bring us back to the claim that atheists have no morals. And, again, I strongly disagree.

    But even if you grant that atheists do have morals (I hope you do; if not, try talking to some), then what you appear to be saying is that morals that, to you, are ill-founded are superior to those that can be conveniently overlooked by appealing to some religious nature (e.g. justifying murder because you’re killing non-believers). I don’t think they’re superior, either as to actual philosophy goes, or as what history tells us the results were of either.

  • DonS

    I think we are getting very confused as to the difference between moral standards and adherence to moral standards. Because Christians operate under an absolute moral standard, there is both an interpretation issue (what is that standard, as applied to particular circumstances?) and an adherence issue (how will do I adhere to the moral standard as I interpret it?). On the other hand, if you reject any notion of absolute morality, then the interpretation issue goes away, doesn’t it? The adherence issue may, as well, because if adherence to an arbitrary established relativistic moral standard become inconvenient, you can merely change the standard.

    That’s really what we are talking about here.

  • DonS

    I think we are getting very confused as to the difference between moral standards and adherence to moral standards. Because Christians operate under an absolute moral standard, there is both an interpretation issue (what is that standard, as applied to particular circumstances?) and an adherence issue (how will do I adhere to the moral standard as I interpret it?). On the other hand, if you reject any notion of absolute morality, then the interpretation issue goes away, doesn’t it? The adherence issue may, as well, because if adherence to an arbitrary established relativistic moral standard become inconvenient, you can merely change the standard.

    That’s really what we are talking about here.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    DonS, if we are adhering to an absolute standard, what does that standard have to say about slavery? And wholesale slaughter of ones enemies?

    Can absolutes change?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    DonS, if we are adhering to an absolute standard, what does that standard have to say about slavery? And wholesale slaughter of ones enemies?

    Can absolutes change?

  • DonS

    We already talked about slavery, Klasie. And the difference between individuals and nations in, for example, wartime. See my comment @ 123, which is directly on point.

    By definition, absolutes don’t change. Right? What is our absolute standard as Christians? Obey God.

    Now, circumstances do change. The rub, as I discussed above@ 135 can be in how we interpret the absolute standard as it applies to a particular circumstance. But that’s not a problem with the standard, and it doesn’t make the standard any less absolute.

  • DonS

    We already talked about slavery, Klasie. And the difference between individuals and nations in, for example, wartime. See my comment @ 123, which is directly on point.

    By definition, absolutes don’t change. Right? What is our absolute standard as Christians? Obey God.

    Now, circumstances do change. The rub, as I discussed above@ 135 can be in how we interpret the absolute standard as it applies to a particular circumstance. But that’s not a problem with the standard, and it doesn’t make the standard any less absolute.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Regarding the crusades, the Crusaders were more or less listening to the Pope, who promised that any sins they had committed, or would commit in the liberation of the Holy Land, would be forgiven those who fought to capture Jerusalem. Hence it became a magnet for criminals who nonetheless understood their sin.

    Regarding atheist genocides, I think my friends have missed Ho Chi Minh, Lenin, the Kim family in North Korea, Chairman Mao, and a few others responsible for close to 100 million deaths. To be fair, the religious have committed genocide–see “Darfur” for an example–but it seems that when atheists lead the government, the rate of genocide increases a couple orders of magnitude.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Regarding the crusades, the Crusaders were more or less listening to the Pope, who promised that any sins they had committed, or would commit in the liberation of the Holy Land, would be forgiven those who fought to capture Jerusalem. Hence it became a magnet for criminals who nonetheless understood their sin.

    Regarding atheist genocides, I think my friends have missed Ho Chi Minh, Lenin, the Kim family in North Korea, Chairman Mao, and a few others responsible for close to 100 million deaths. To be fair, the religious have committed genocide–see “Darfur” for an example–but it seems that when atheists lead the government, the rate of genocide increases a couple orders of magnitude.

  • Grace

    Was Adolf Hitler an atheist?

  • Grace

    Was Adolf Hitler an atheist?

  • JonathanH

    Grace, 139: not a constructive question. Given a different audience, that question would just implode this thread.

  • JonathanH

    Grace, 139: not a constructive question. Given a different audience, that question would just implode this thread.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Grace, he was born Catholic, but was not a practicing Catholic later on. He seemed to have been under the influence of ariosophy, at least early on, although he later moved away from the esoteric nature of these things. Others in the party were outright neoPagans, like Himmler. It appears that whatever his views were, he and other senior members of the party avoided attacking Christianity, preferring to control it, for fear of losing their hold over the populace.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Grace, he was born Catholic, but was not a practicing Catholic later on. He seemed to have been under the influence of ariosophy, at least early on, although he later moved away from the esoteric nature of these things. Others in the party were outright neoPagans, like Himmler. It appears that whatever his views were, he and other senior members of the party avoided attacking Christianity, preferring to control it, for fear of losing their hold over the populace.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Bike, I would not apply the term atheist, as we understand it, to people like Mao and Ho Chi Minh. Sure they attacked religious observance. But in the Eastern mind, there is no sharp line between religion, and philosophy. So the situation is somewhat different. However, many people did perish especially under Mao.

    The Kims are also a different case – they have essentially developed a mystic leadership cult, combined with the philosophy of Guche, self-sufficiency. The Kims are the deities, essentially. A bit like Caesar worship. Furthermore, the Kim’s have not as yet taken genocide to its completion – they are a oppressive and murderous regime, but that is different than an active genocide.

    But in any event, there is something perverse about a body-count approach. I know many atheists try and do this thing against religion, and those arguments are just as invalid.

    Genocide is genocide. Whether it is 800 000 Hutu’s and Tutsi’s, or 80 Million Russians, Ukrainians etc, or 6 million Jews.

    BTW, the most rapid genocide ever, ie people killed per day over the time span, is Rwanda.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Bike, I would not apply the term atheist, as we understand it, to people like Mao and Ho Chi Minh. Sure they attacked religious observance. But in the Eastern mind, there is no sharp line between religion, and philosophy. So the situation is somewhat different. However, many people did perish especially under Mao.

    The Kims are also a different case – they have essentially developed a mystic leadership cult, combined with the philosophy of Guche, self-sufficiency. The Kims are the deities, essentially. A bit like Caesar worship. Furthermore, the Kim’s have not as yet taken genocide to its completion – they are a oppressive and murderous regime, but that is different than an active genocide.

    But in any event, there is something perverse about a body-count approach. I know many atheists try and do this thing against religion, and those arguments are just as invalid.

    Genocide is genocide. Whether it is 800 000 Hutu’s and Tutsi’s, or 80 Million Russians, Ukrainians etc, or 6 million Jews.

    BTW, the most rapid genocide ever, ie people killed per day over the time span, is Rwanda.

  • Grace

    JonathanH @140

    “Grace, 139: not a constructive question.”

    Oh, but it is. The question as to whether Hitler was an atheist have been the subject of debate for decades. Or, are you unaware of this? Or, does the question bother you?

  • Grace

    JonathanH @140

    “Grace, 139: not a constructive question.”

    Oh, but it is. The question as to whether Hitler was an atheist have been the subject of debate for decades. Or, are you unaware of this? Or, does the question bother you?

  • WebMonk

    Bike, I think you’re greatly mis-estimating the numbers of genocides committed on both sides – understating the number done by theists groups and overstating the number done by atheist groups.

    Things get a little fuzzy counting things up in detail because the vast majority of systematic genocides are done by groups that have only a passing relationship to either theism or atheism. But, virtually everything in North/South America, Europe, Africa, Middle East, India, and Australia has been done by groups that at least nominally claim to be Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindi, etc. Scores if not hundreds of instances of state/para-state theist groups committing genocide and other atrocities.

    Even Hitler claimed Christianity. (and persecuted it and denied it and claimed mysticism and deism and and and …, though he never promoted or claimed atheism!)

    Stalin, Lenin, Ho Chi Minh, and others are atheist. Others, like the Kims of DPRK had theist roots, but did whatever they could with only a view toward power – be it promote theism or persecute it. (their whole family is so whackadoodle that it’s hard to classify them as anything other than crazy. IMO, they have tried with some success to create a theism with themselves as deities, but I’m not sure that really qualifies them for the “theist” camp. :-P )

    Like I said, it gets murky in the details, but in no way do atheist regimes outnumber theist regimes when it comes to committing genocides and the like.

    If you want to argue that genocidal theist regimes only outnumber genocidal atheist regimes by 3 to 1 instead of 5 to 1, I won’t argue. But to claim that atheist regimes do more genocide than theist regimes is false by every possible examination.

  • WebMonk

    Bike, I think you’re greatly mis-estimating the numbers of genocides committed on both sides – understating the number done by theists groups and overstating the number done by atheist groups.

    Things get a little fuzzy counting things up in detail because the vast majority of systematic genocides are done by groups that have only a passing relationship to either theism or atheism. But, virtually everything in North/South America, Europe, Africa, Middle East, India, and Australia has been done by groups that at least nominally claim to be Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindi, etc. Scores if not hundreds of instances of state/para-state theist groups committing genocide and other atrocities.

    Even Hitler claimed Christianity. (and persecuted it and denied it and claimed mysticism and deism and and and …, though he never promoted or claimed atheism!)

    Stalin, Lenin, Ho Chi Minh, and others are atheist. Others, like the Kims of DPRK had theist roots, but did whatever they could with only a view toward power – be it promote theism or persecute it. (their whole family is so whackadoodle that it’s hard to classify them as anything other than crazy. IMO, they have tried with some success to create a theism with themselves as deities, but I’m not sure that really qualifies them for the “theist” camp. :-P )

    Like I said, it gets murky in the details, but in no way do atheist regimes outnumber theist regimes when it comes to committing genocides and the like.

    If you want to argue that genocidal theist regimes only outnumber genocidal atheist regimes by 3 to 1 instead of 5 to 1, I won’t argue. But to claim that atheist regimes do more genocide than theist regimes is false by every possible examination.

  • WebMonk

    Oh bleep it. KK beat me to a bunch of that.

    KK, I agree with you about Mao about the fuzziness (to the western outlook) between religion and philosophy. The two are indistinguishable for Mao.

    Ho Chi Minh, though – I would classify him as a true atheist. But, we’re splitting some really fine hairs here. :-)

  • WebMonk

    Oh bleep it. KK beat me to a bunch of that.

    KK, I agree with you about Mao about the fuzziness (to the western outlook) between religion and philosophy. The two are indistinguishable for Mao.

    Ho Chi Minh, though – I would classify him as a true atheist. But, we’re splitting some really fine hairs here. :-)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    JonathanH (@140),

    Grace LOVES to ask endless questions, its’ a way of wasting her time, and yours. Maybe she doesn’t have anything else to do – I think that’s often the case.

    Another fav game is “you didn’t ansewr my question” which in essence is until you’ve answered the question the way SHE wants to hear it, the question continues over and over again.

    It’s a GAME!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    JonathanH (@140),

    Grace LOVES to ask endless questions, its’ a way of wasting her time, and yours. Maybe she doesn’t have anything else to do – I think that’s often the case.

    Another fav game is “you didn’t ansewr my question” which in essence is until you’ve answered the question the way SHE wants to hear it, the question continues over and over again.

    It’s a GAME!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@137) said,

    What is our absolute standard as Christians? Obey God.

    Okay, if that is the only “standard” to which you were referring, then sure, it never changes and is absolute. But then, what’s the point of making this claim? It’s obvious that what that means in different times and different places is remarkably variable!

    The whole point in bringing up this standard was to differentiate Christians (or theists) from atheists — we have this unchanging standard, they allegedly don’t. But this is a distinction without a difference. Again, this one “absolute standard” will, in one place and time, tell you that slavery (for example, or abortion) is okay, and in another place and time, that it’s not.

    Meanwhile, atheists may or may not have their own absolute standards — say, the preservation of the species. But regardless, they show no obvious signs of being hindered from coming to the same moral conclusions that Christians do. And, as I have mentioned, they can even have superior moral standards than Christians, and even carry out these morals to a higher degree than do Christians.

    So, again, of what value is this “absolute standard”?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@137) said,

    What is our absolute standard as Christians? Obey God.

    Okay, if that is the only “standard” to which you were referring, then sure, it never changes and is absolute. But then, what’s the point of making this claim? It’s obvious that what that means in different times and different places is remarkably variable!

    The whole point in bringing up this standard was to differentiate Christians (or theists) from atheists — we have this unchanging standard, they allegedly don’t. But this is a distinction without a difference. Again, this one “absolute standard” will, in one place and time, tell you that slavery (for example, or abortion) is okay, and in another place and time, that it’s not.

    Meanwhile, atheists may or may not have their own absolute standards — say, the preservation of the species. But regardless, they show no obvious signs of being hindered from coming to the same moral conclusions that Christians do. And, as I have mentioned, they can even have superior moral standards than Christians, and even carry out these morals to a higher degree than do Christians.

    So, again, of what value is this “absolute standard”?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Once again, I would ask those who seem rather intent on claiming (if, you know, not actually proving) that atheists are provably worse than Christians/theists, whether in the realm of genocide or whatever: why is this so important to you? It’s hardly an open-and-shut case, as the discussion has already shown, so it appears to me that it’s more a case of this claim being somehow key to your theology. That Christianity is somehow about acting better than the atheists.

    That’s the impression I get, anyhow. That in this debate, you’re fighting for the core of your faith. Which, if so, obviously has little to do with Jesus as Savior. It sounds more like Jesus as Chief Moralist. If you want that, I think the Mormons are more up your alley.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Once again, I would ask those who seem rather intent on claiming (if, you know, not actually proving) that atheists are provably worse than Christians/theists, whether in the realm of genocide or whatever: why is this so important to you? It’s hardly an open-and-shut case, as the discussion has already shown, so it appears to me that it’s more a case of this claim being somehow key to your theology. That Christianity is somehow about acting better than the atheists.

    That’s the impression I get, anyhow. That in this debate, you’re fighting for the core of your faith. Which, if so, obviously has little to do with Jesus as Savior. It sounds more like Jesus as Chief Moralist. If you want that, I think the Mormons are more up your alley.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 147, 148: I’ll start with your comment @ 148, because it’s revealing as to what’s behind your argumentation. I can’t speak for others on this thread, but nothing I am arguing has anything to do with relative human worth. That was decided at the Cross — Christ died for all, because all are utterly unworthy on their own merits. Christians are no more worthy in God’s eyes than atheists. They are just forgiven, because of their faith in the work of the Cross.

    What I am arguing is that God’s absolute standards are better than man’s relativistic ones. We are better off with His commandments than without them. Applying this train of thought to the subject of this thread, Christianity teaches us of the intrinsic worth of each human being — we are all designed by, created by and loved by the all powerful, all merciful Creator of the Universe. Atheism cannot have this same concept of intrinsic human worth, because, by definition, atheists must believe that we are here by chance and happenstance, without thought or design.

    Because of all of this, and the inherent differences between an absolute moral code and a relativistic one, including differences relating to accountability to others and to God, I would think that women generally are going to feel safer in a Christian setting than an atheistic one. There are countless anecdotal examples to prove this general principle wrong, because we are all sinners, but that doesn’t mean the general principle is statistically invalid.

    As to your comment @ 147, you still seem to be stuck on the idea that because some people misinterpret the standard, being guided by that standard is no better than not. I am not understanding your point here. Are you saying Christ’s commandments are of no value? Or that obeying them makes no difference? I’m sure you’re not saying this, but if you’re not, then I am really confused as to what you ARE saying.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 147, 148: I’ll start with your comment @ 148, because it’s revealing as to what’s behind your argumentation. I can’t speak for others on this thread, but nothing I am arguing has anything to do with relative human worth. That was decided at the Cross — Christ died for all, because all are utterly unworthy on their own merits. Christians are no more worthy in God’s eyes than atheists. They are just forgiven, because of their faith in the work of the Cross.

    What I am arguing is that God’s absolute standards are better than man’s relativistic ones. We are better off with His commandments than without them. Applying this train of thought to the subject of this thread, Christianity teaches us of the intrinsic worth of each human being — we are all designed by, created by and loved by the all powerful, all merciful Creator of the Universe. Atheism cannot have this same concept of intrinsic human worth, because, by definition, atheists must believe that we are here by chance and happenstance, without thought or design.

    Because of all of this, and the inherent differences between an absolute moral code and a relativistic one, including differences relating to accountability to others and to God, I would think that women generally are going to feel safer in a Christian setting than an atheistic one. There are countless anecdotal examples to prove this general principle wrong, because we are all sinners, but that doesn’t mean the general principle is statistically invalid.

    As to your comment @ 147, you still seem to be stuck on the idea that because some people misinterpret the standard, being guided by that standard is no better than not. I am not understanding your point here. Are you saying Christ’s commandments are of no value? Or that obeying them makes no difference? I’m sure you’re not saying this, but if you’re not, then I am really confused as to what you ARE saying.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    DonS, you simply don’t get it:

    Atheists can have absolute standards – Todd mentions it – the preservation of the species/tribe for instance. And there are plenty of places in Christianity where women, and children, aren’t safe. There are also plenty of places outside of Christianity where they aren’t safe. Actually, there is probably a better statistical correlation between say safety (or moral standards in general), and socio-economic development, than between religion/philosophy and safety (or moral standards in general).

    But again – why are still trying to smuggle Moralism in the back door? Up front you seem to agree, but it turns into a yes-but thing. Also, you aren’t answering the slavery thing completely – maybe because by implication, it destroys your moral absolutism.

    In Leviticus, it is allowed to buy slaves from foreigners among them. Note the term foreigners – the Canaanites weren’t foreigners, they had to be exterminated. So, if those standards are still in play, could the Israeli’s today enslave a Palestinian, for instance? Or if they are not in play, doesn’t that show that the standards have changed? Or that God deals with us primarily in our cultural context, and that improvements may follow, as a general blessing, but that from first to last, IT IS NOT ABOUT MORALISM!

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    DonS, you simply don’t get it:

    Atheists can have absolute standards – Todd mentions it – the preservation of the species/tribe for instance. And there are plenty of places in Christianity where women, and children, aren’t safe. There are also plenty of places outside of Christianity where they aren’t safe. Actually, there is probably a better statistical correlation between say safety (or moral standards in general), and socio-economic development, than between religion/philosophy and safety (or moral standards in general).

    But again – why are still trying to smuggle Moralism in the back door? Up front you seem to agree, but it turns into a yes-but thing. Also, you aren’t answering the slavery thing completely – maybe because by implication, it destroys your moral absolutism.

    In Leviticus, it is allowed to buy slaves from foreigners among them. Note the term foreigners – the Canaanites weren’t foreigners, they had to be exterminated. So, if those standards are still in play, could the Israeli’s today enslave a Palestinian, for instance? Or if they are not in play, doesn’t that show that the standards have changed? Or that God deals with us primarily in our cultural context, and that improvements may follow, as a general blessing, but that from first to last, IT IS NOT ABOUT MORALISM!

  • Grace

    tODD @146

    JonathanH (@140),

    Grace LOVES to ask endless questions, its’ a way of wasting her time, and yours. Maybe she doesn’t have anything else to do – I think that’s often the case.

    “Another fav game is “you didn’t ansewr my question” which in essence is until you’ve answered the question the way SHE wants to hear it, the question continues over and over again.”

    tODD @146

    POOR tODD –

    Such an original guy you are – Copy TWISTING and copy pasting my post at @87

    “87 Grace July 18, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Michelle

    Several of the cmmenters LOVE to ask endless questions, its’ a way of wasting their time, and yours. Maybe they don’t have anything else to do – I think that’s often the case.”

    “Another fav game is “you didn’t ansewr my question” which in essence is until you’ve answered the question the way THEY want to hear it, the question continues over and over again.”

  • Grace

    tODD @146

    JonathanH (@140),

    Grace LOVES to ask endless questions, its’ a way of wasting her time, and yours. Maybe she doesn’t have anything else to do – I think that’s often the case.

    “Another fav game is “you didn’t ansewr my question” which in essence is until you’ve answered the question the way SHE wants to hear it, the question continues over and over again.”

    tODD @146

    POOR tODD –

    Such an original guy you are – Copy TWISTING and copy pasting my post at @87

    “87 Grace July 18, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Michelle

    Several of the cmmenters LOVE to ask endless questions, its’ a way of wasting their time, and yours. Maybe they don’t have anything else to do – I think that’s often the case.”

    “Another fav game is “you didn’t ansewr my question” which in essence is until you’ve answered the question the way THEY want to hear it, the question continues over and over again.”

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Grace – that is no great discovery – it was quite obvious he was having some fun with your, hmm, peculiarities. :)

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Grace – that is no great discovery – it was quite obvious he was having some fun with your, hmm, peculiarities. :)

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Oh, and for good measure:

    Poor Klasie!

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Oh, and for good measure:

    Poor Klasie!

  • Grace

    Isn’t tODD the lucky one, a cheer leader for twisting! LOL

  • Grace

    Isn’t tODD the lucky one, a cheer leader for twisting! LOL

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@149):

    What I am arguing is that God’s absolute standards are better than man’s relativistic ones. We are better off with His commandments than without them.

    Okay, now I’m confused. Earlier (@137), you referenced our (singular) “absolute standard” and said that it was to “obey God”, going on to note that how that (again, singular) standard applies “to a particular circumstance” might change over time.

    Now you’re talking (plural) “standards”. So, again, do the biblical standards on slavery still apply today? What about the Sabbath laws? All “absolute”?

    But let’s go back to this statement of yours:

    We are better off with His commandments than without them.

    Give some examples. What standards or morals do Christians have that atheists do not, and how does it make us “better off”?

    Atheism cannot have this same concept of intrinsic human worth, because, by definition, atheists must believe that we are here by chance and happenstance, without thought or design.

    I disagree. Atheists can (and some do) argue that all lives are equally valuable by virtue of their existence. Besides, not all religions view humans as “created by and loved by the all powerful, all merciful Creator of the Universe”, so it would seem that your argument has gone from one of theists-vs.-atheists to one of Christians-vs.-non-Christians (with all non-Christian theists facing the same problems as atheists, in your argument).

    Because of all of this, and the inherent differences between an absolute moral code and a relativistic one, including differences relating to accountability to others and to God, I would think that women generally are going to feel safer in a Christian setting than an atheistic one. There are countless anecdotal examples to prove this general principle wrong, because we are all sinners, but that doesn’t mean the general principle is statistically invalid.

    So, wait, now atheists don’t believe in accountability to other people, either? Why do you believe that? Don’t they believe in other people?

    Anyhow, you could drive a truck through the loopholes in your claim there: “I would think … [but] there are countless anecdotal examples to prove this general principle wrong … but that doesn’t mean the general principle is statistically invalid.” If you’re going to make a claim for statistical validity, it might help if you, you know, made a vague attempt to offer up some statistics. The existence of “countless” counterexamples does tend to put a damper on your claim, though.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@149):

    What I am arguing is that God’s absolute standards are better than man’s relativistic ones. We are better off with His commandments than without them.

    Okay, now I’m confused. Earlier (@137), you referenced our (singular) “absolute standard” and said that it was to “obey God”, going on to note that how that (again, singular) standard applies “to a particular circumstance” might change over time.

    Now you’re talking (plural) “standards”. So, again, do the biblical standards on slavery still apply today? What about the Sabbath laws? All “absolute”?

    But let’s go back to this statement of yours:

    We are better off with His commandments than without them.

    Give some examples. What standards or morals do Christians have that atheists do not, and how does it make us “better off”?

    Atheism cannot have this same concept of intrinsic human worth, because, by definition, atheists must believe that we are here by chance and happenstance, without thought or design.

    I disagree. Atheists can (and some do) argue that all lives are equally valuable by virtue of their existence. Besides, not all religions view humans as “created by and loved by the all powerful, all merciful Creator of the Universe”, so it would seem that your argument has gone from one of theists-vs.-atheists to one of Christians-vs.-non-Christians (with all non-Christian theists facing the same problems as atheists, in your argument).

    Because of all of this, and the inherent differences between an absolute moral code and a relativistic one, including differences relating to accountability to others and to God, I would think that women generally are going to feel safer in a Christian setting than an atheistic one. There are countless anecdotal examples to prove this general principle wrong, because we are all sinners, but that doesn’t mean the general principle is statistically invalid.

    So, wait, now atheists don’t believe in accountability to other people, either? Why do you believe that? Don’t they believe in other people?

    Anyhow, you could drive a truck through the loopholes in your claim there: “I would think … [but] there are countless anecdotal examples to prove this general principle wrong … but that doesn’t mean the general principle is statistically invalid.” If you’re going to make a claim for statistical validity, it might help if you, you know, made a vague attempt to offer up some statistics. The existence of “countless” counterexamples does tend to put a damper on your claim, though.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Gosh, Grace (@151), I really did think I could get that one past you, too! It was just such an insightful comment, so I got, you know, jealous, and I wanted to pretend I had written it, because I wanted all the glory for myself, but you’re just too clever for me, and, well, you got me! The jig is up!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Gosh, Grace (@151), I really did think I could get that one past you, too! It was just such an insightful comment, so I got, you know, jealous, and I wanted to pretend I had written it, because I wanted all the glory for myself, but you’re just too clever for me, and, well, you got me! The jig is up!

  • Grace

    GEE, GOSH – LOL – that’s really neat!

    GOSH, I mean it! :lol:

    Haven’t heard “GOSH” in a long time.

  • Grace

    GEE, GOSH – LOL – that’s really neat!

    GOSH, I mean it! :lol:

    Haven’t heard “GOSH” in a long time.

  • DonS

    Klasie @ 150: I don’t get it? Yes, I saw tODD’s claim that atheists can have “absolute standards”. I ignored it because it was nonsense. Absolute standards are based on absolute truth, which is only knowable through the grace and mercy of the all-powerful Creator of the universe. Man is the created, and when he deliberately rejects the moral authority of his God, as atheists by definition do, he is reduced to the relativistic foolishness of worldly wisdom.

    If the atheists at their Las Vegas convention truly operated on the “absolute standard” of “preservation of the species”, then the women identified at the beginning of the post should run for their lives. Under this standard, what intrinsic value do they have other than as living wombs? Sexual harassment, and even rape might be seen as of the highest morality, because it would lead to procreation, the highest value. In order to better preserve the species, genetic selection might be employed to weed out the ugly or the genetically inferior, meaning killing of some of them could be seen as good for the long term viability of the species. Nice conference.

    I have no idea what you mean by “moralism”. Certainly, as a Christian, you must agree that God has set forth standards for us to obey, and that we are commanded to obey. Thankfully, our lapses in obedience are forgiven, through the blood of Christ, but that doesn’t mean we are off the hook to try. If you think we are, then you had better re-read the New Testament, starting with Romans 6: 1-14.

  • DonS

    Klasie @ 150: I don’t get it? Yes, I saw tODD’s claim that atheists can have “absolute standards”. I ignored it because it was nonsense. Absolute standards are based on absolute truth, which is only knowable through the grace and mercy of the all-powerful Creator of the universe. Man is the created, and when he deliberately rejects the moral authority of his God, as atheists by definition do, he is reduced to the relativistic foolishness of worldly wisdom.

    If the atheists at their Las Vegas convention truly operated on the “absolute standard” of “preservation of the species”, then the women identified at the beginning of the post should run for their lives. Under this standard, what intrinsic value do they have other than as living wombs? Sexual harassment, and even rape might be seen as of the highest morality, because it would lead to procreation, the highest value. In order to better preserve the species, genetic selection might be employed to weed out the ugly or the genetically inferior, meaning killing of some of them could be seen as good for the long term viability of the species. Nice conference.

    I have no idea what you mean by “moralism”. Certainly, as a Christian, you must agree that God has set forth standards for us to obey, and that we are commanded to obey. Thankfully, our lapses in obedience are forgiven, through the blood of Christ, but that doesn’t mean we are off the hook to try. If you think we are, then you had better re-read the New Testament, starting with Romans 6: 1-14.

  • DonS

    So, tODD @ 155, I’m confused. Are you arguing that God has not set forth an absolute standard for us to follow? That there is no right or wrong, in an absolute sense? How do we know, then, that we are sinners? Weren’t the Ten Commandments given to us as an absolute standard, wherein if we disobey just one, on one occasion, we are sinners, fallen short of all hope of salvation in our own strength? Isn’t such a black and white standard an absolute one? Do atheists have a similar standard?

    Okay, now I’m confused. Earlier (@137), you referenced our (singular) “absolute standard” and said that it was to “obey God”, going on to note that how that (again, singular) standard applies “to a particular circumstance” might change over time.

    Now you’re talking (plural) “standards”.

    Um, what? Surely you recognized that when I said our absolute standard was to obey God, there must be something specific (i.e. commandments) to obey. I am really having trouble following you here.

    You still seem hung up on the idea that because Christians are imperfect (and vastly so) at obedience, the moral system imposed by God, which they are to follow, and obey, is useless, making Christianity no better than atheism or other religious systems. I don’t really know how to respond to that line of thinking, or what you are driving at.

  • DonS

    So, tODD @ 155, I’m confused. Are you arguing that God has not set forth an absolute standard for us to follow? That there is no right or wrong, in an absolute sense? How do we know, then, that we are sinners? Weren’t the Ten Commandments given to us as an absolute standard, wherein if we disobey just one, on one occasion, we are sinners, fallen short of all hope of salvation in our own strength? Isn’t such a black and white standard an absolute one? Do atheists have a similar standard?

    Okay, now I’m confused. Earlier (@137), you referenced our (singular) “absolute standard” and said that it was to “obey God”, going on to note that how that (again, singular) standard applies “to a particular circumstance” might change over time.

    Now you’re talking (plural) “standards”.

    Um, what? Surely you recognized that when I said our absolute standard was to obey God, there must be something specific (i.e. commandments) to obey. I am really having trouble following you here.

    You still seem hung up on the idea that because Christians are imperfect (and vastly so) at obedience, the moral system imposed by God, which they are to follow, and obey, is useless, making Christianity no better than atheism or other religious systems. I don’t really know how to respond to that line of thinking, or what you are driving at.

  • WebMonk

    tODD, Grace has you so far outmatched here that you just need to give up. She is WAY above your level here.

    http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/show/539027

  • WebMonk

    tODD, Grace has you so far outmatched here that you just need to give up. She is WAY above your level here.

    http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/show/539027

  • Pete

    Ugh – busy day yesterday. No blogging. Thought this stream would be long dead, but it ain’t. Interesting topic.

    Seems there’s a faction that wants to (loudly) make the point that atheists can be good neighbors just as much (sometimes more) as theists. Granted. And the other faction wants to (equally loudly) make the point that Christians (a prominent theist subset, known to frequent this blog) having been aligned with the God of creation and thus being in fundamental agreement with His law(s) (an example of which would be Jesus’ admonition that we love one another as He has loved us) should, in general, be better neighbors than atheists who would have to arrive at “good neighborliness” on their own rather than having it as a basic tenet of their belief set. This faction is not at all shocked at the article above concerning misbehavior of atheist men towards atheist women at an atheist gathering. They suspect that, were one able to actually make the requisite observations, the chances of a woman sexually harassed are higher at a gathering of atheists than they would be at a gathering of Amish or Baptists or Mormons. Seems pretty common sense to me.

    There has been a bit of kerfuffle over the topic of genocide as it relates to atheism. Mention has been made of absolute numbers. I think a more interesting statistic (unobtainable, I imagine) would be a a comparison of two ratios. One would have “theistic practitioners of genocide” in the numerator and “all theistic governmental leaders” in the denominator. The other would have “atheistic practitioners of genocide” in the numerator and “all atheistic governmental leaders” in the denominator. Does anyone not think that the second number would likely be very much higher than the first?

  • Pete

    Ugh – busy day yesterday. No blogging. Thought this stream would be long dead, but it ain’t. Interesting topic.

    Seems there’s a faction that wants to (loudly) make the point that atheists can be good neighbors just as much (sometimes more) as theists. Granted. And the other faction wants to (equally loudly) make the point that Christians (a prominent theist subset, known to frequent this blog) having been aligned with the God of creation and thus being in fundamental agreement with His law(s) (an example of which would be Jesus’ admonition that we love one another as He has loved us) should, in general, be better neighbors than atheists who would have to arrive at “good neighborliness” on their own rather than having it as a basic tenet of their belief set. This faction is not at all shocked at the article above concerning misbehavior of atheist men towards atheist women at an atheist gathering. They suspect that, were one able to actually make the requisite observations, the chances of a woman sexually harassed are higher at a gathering of atheists than they would be at a gathering of Amish or Baptists or Mormons. Seems pretty common sense to me.

    There has been a bit of kerfuffle over the topic of genocide as it relates to atheism. Mention has been made of absolute numbers. I think a more interesting statistic (unobtainable, I imagine) would be a a comparison of two ratios. One would have “theistic practitioners of genocide” in the numerator and “all theistic governmental leaders” in the denominator. The other would have “atheistic practitioners of genocide” in the numerator and “all atheistic governmental leaders” in the denominator. Does anyone not think that the second number would likely be very much higher than the first?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    DonS,

    Well, what do you say about the slavery thing? Did moral standards change? What does that imply?

    Also, you seem to be saying that Christianity is about better law keeping, and regular forgiveness. The latter yes (of sorts), but Christianity is about death, into life. The job of the law is to inform us of our deceased state. Not to make us nicer people.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    DonS,

    Well, what do you say about the slavery thing? Did moral standards change? What does that imply?

    Also, you seem to be saying that Christianity is about better law keeping, and regular forgiveness. The latter yes (of sorts), but Christianity is about death, into life. The job of the law is to inform us of our deceased state. Not to make us nicer people.

  • WebMonk

    Pete 161, just on the statistical side of things I would guess (and that’s all this is – a guess based on general impressions of stats of which I’m familiar) I would guess that the Amish would be hugely less likely to have sexual harassment in a gathering, but that atheists, Baptists, and Mormons (or Catholics or whatever large religious group) would have statistically equal rates of sexual harassment.

    If one takes into account the nature of unreported harassment in churches, I wouldn’t be surprised to have churches actually be slightly more likely to have sexual harassment in their gatherings than in atheist gatherings. I deal with sexual abuse in churches with some frequency, and maybe that is skewing my perceptions, but I would never underestimate the amount of sexual assault and harassment present in churches, though usually hidden.

    Maybe if I were regularly dealing with sexual assault/harassment in atheist situations my perception would be different, so I won’t say there is more assault/harassment in churches than in atheist gatherings. But, from the stats I know, I will give a pretty confident educated guess that there’s at least equal rates of assault/harassment in churches.

    Assault/harassment in groups has very little to do with the beliefs of the group except if the beliefs encourage an active behavior. Beliefs present in large groups has relatively little impact on negative behaviors. (active behavior being doing something, negative behavior being NOT doing something)

    There is a MUCH stronger correlation between assault/harassment/abuse and other factors such as socio-economic status, group size, and group cohesion. Beliefs only become strongly effective in supporting negative behavior when there are tight bonds of society within the group to encourage/discourage the belief.

    Sorry about the semi-random blast. It’s an area in which I deal. I guess this wasn’t aimed at anything so much as a thought-of-the-moment.

  • WebMonk

    Pete 161, just on the statistical side of things I would guess (and that’s all this is – a guess based on general impressions of stats of which I’m familiar) I would guess that the Amish would be hugely less likely to have sexual harassment in a gathering, but that atheists, Baptists, and Mormons (or Catholics or whatever large religious group) would have statistically equal rates of sexual harassment.

    If one takes into account the nature of unreported harassment in churches, I wouldn’t be surprised to have churches actually be slightly more likely to have sexual harassment in their gatherings than in atheist gatherings. I deal with sexual abuse in churches with some frequency, and maybe that is skewing my perceptions, but I would never underestimate the amount of sexual assault and harassment present in churches, though usually hidden.

    Maybe if I were regularly dealing with sexual assault/harassment in atheist situations my perception would be different, so I won’t say there is more assault/harassment in churches than in atheist gatherings. But, from the stats I know, I will give a pretty confident educated guess that there’s at least equal rates of assault/harassment in churches.

    Assault/harassment in groups has very little to do with the beliefs of the group except if the beliefs encourage an active behavior. Beliefs present in large groups has relatively little impact on negative behaviors. (active behavior being doing something, negative behavior being NOT doing something)

    There is a MUCH stronger correlation between assault/harassment/abuse and other factors such as socio-economic status, group size, and group cohesion. Beliefs only become strongly effective in supporting negative behavior when there are tight bonds of society within the group to encourage/discourage the belief.

    Sorry about the semi-random blast. It’s an area in which I deal. I guess this wasn’t aimed at anything so much as a thought-of-the-moment.

  • DonS

    Klasie @ 162: Well, I guess we need to take a step back here, re-visit the basics, and see if we are even on the same page as to what the Christian faith entails.

    1. The Absolute Standard Defining Sin — the law — Can we agree that sin is, at its root, disobedience of God’s law? Hopefully so. The first standard God revealed was to Adam & Eve in the Garden. Don’t eat of the fruit of the Tree of Life. Fail. The second noted standard, though not explicitly set forth in Scripture, related to sacrifices. Cain disobeyed that standard. Fail. That led to the third one — killing his brother. We know that people at the time of Noah were under an absolute standard of obedience, which they did not adhere to, and so were destroyed, with only eight, including Noah, being saved (I Peter 3: 19-20). The standard was codified for posterity, on tablets of stone, in the Sinai desert, as the Ten Commandments. They are the eternal standard of obedience yet today. Christ re-stated them in Matthew 22, repeating the first one (love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind), and summarizing the second through tenth as “Love your neighbor as yourself”. Did he abrogate those commandments in the restatement? Certainly not. They are the definition of what it means to love your neighbor as yourself.

    2. What does the law do? First and foremost, it condemns. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). The law convicts us of our sin, and shows us that we are without hope except for the grace and mercy of God, in providing forgiveness of our sins through the sacrifice of Christ. However, secondly, it continues to be the standard by which we conduct our lives as Christians. As Paul says in Romans 6, we shall NOT continue in sin, so that grace may abound (v. 2). As stated in v. 12, we are NOT to let sin reign in our mortal body, that we should obey it in its lusts. We are to present ourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and our members as instruments of righteousness to God (v. 13). V. 14 promises that we have help in this, in that we are no longer under the law but under grace. This doesn’t mean, certainly, that we don’t have to obey the law (v. 15), but that we have the power within us, through Christ, to overcome our evil nature, and no longer be a slave to sin (v. 18). We are not slaves to sin, but slaves of righteousness.

    3. Can man set absolute standards? — Both you and tODD seem to think that the answer is yes. But it CANNOT be so. Man is neither eternal nor sovereign. His standards will always be subsidiary to God’s standards, whether he acknowledges it or not, and to the extent they conflict with God’s standards, they will ultimately be stricken and condemned. This notion that “preservation of the species” could somehow serve as an absolute standard is absurd. First, even on earthly terms, it cannot be absolute because the sun will burn out in a few billion years, ending the species. Second, we know that the old earth and the old heaven will pass away. No standard that in any way conflicts with God’s absolute standard could possibly be absolute, by definition.

    Christianity is most certainly NOT about better lawkeeping and regular forgiveness. We were forgiven once for all, and we cannot keep the law well enough to satisfy the Creator. But, skip ahead to Romans 7:6. “But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter”.

    Powerful words. We are not bound by the letter of the law. We have the power of the Spirit. But we still serve, we still obey, the spirit of the law, in a sense. In the remainder of Romans 7, Paul explains that he “delights” in the law of the Lord” (v. 22), but there is a constant warring of the new and old natures within him, which will continue as long as he is on this earth, serving the law of God with the mind, but the law of sin with the flesh (v. 25).

    So, with that in mind, you ask if moral standards change? Well, certainly there are cultural nuances that change over the centuries, or look differently in different parts of the world. Some moral standards, and some interpretations of the law, will change over time. The dietary and religious observance standards imposed on the people of Israel, we are told by Paul, no longer apply to us. But the commandments have not changed. They are the same yesterday, today, and forever. Sin is sin. Always.

  • DonS

    Klasie @ 162: Well, I guess we need to take a step back here, re-visit the basics, and see if we are even on the same page as to what the Christian faith entails.

    1. The Absolute Standard Defining Sin — the law — Can we agree that sin is, at its root, disobedience of God’s law? Hopefully so. The first standard God revealed was to Adam & Eve in the Garden. Don’t eat of the fruit of the Tree of Life. Fail. The second noted standard, though not explicitly set forth in Scripture, related to sacrifices. Cain disobeyed that standard. Fail. That led to the third one — killing his brother. We know that people at the time of Noah were under an absolute standard of obedience, which they did not adhere to, and so were destroyed, with only eight, including Noah, being saved (I Peter 3: 19-20). The standard was codified for posterity, on tablets of stone, in the Sinai desert, as the Ten Commandments. They are the eternal standard of obedience yet today. Christ re-stated them in Matthew 22, repeating the first one (love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind), and summarizing the second through tenth as “Love your neighbor as yourself”. Did he abrogate those commandments in the restatement? Certainly not. They are the definition of what it means to love your neighbor as yourself.

    2. What does the law do? First and foremost, it condemns. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). The law convicts us of our sin, and shows us that we are without hope except for the grace and mercy of God, in providing forgiveness of our sins through the sacrifice of Christ. However, secondly, it continues to be the standard by which we conduct our lives as Christians. As Paul says in Romans 6, we shall NOT continue in sin, so that grace may abound (v. 2). As stated in v. 12, we are NOT to let sin reign in our mortal body, that we should obey it in its lusts. We are to present ourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and our members as instruments of righteousness to God (v. 13). V. 14 promises that we have help in this, in that we are no longer under the law but under grace. This doesn’t mean, certainly, that we don’t have to obey the law (v. 15), but that we have the power within us, through Christ, to overcome our evil nature, and no longer be a slave to sin (v. 18). We are not slaves to sin, but slaves of righteousness.

    3. Can man set absolute standards? — Both you and tODD seem to think that the answer is yes. But it CANNOT be so. Man is neither eternal nor sovereign. His standards will always be subsidiary to God’s standards, whether he acknowledges it or not, and to the extent they conflict with God’s standards, they will ultimately be stricken and condemned. This notion that “preservation of the species” could somehow serve as an absolute standard is absurd. First, even on earthly terms, it cannot be absolute because the sun will burn out in a few billion years, ending the species. Second, we know that the old earth and the old heaven will pass away. No standard that in any way conflicts with God’s absolute standard could possibly be absolute, by definition.

    Christianity is most certainly NOT about better lawkeeping and regular forgiveness. We were forgiven once for all, and we cannot keep the law well enough to satisfy the Creator. But, skip ahead to Romans 7:6. “But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter”.

    Powerful words. We are not bound by the letter of the law. We have the power of the Spirit. But we still serve, we still obey, the spirit of the law, in a sense. In the remainder of Romans 7, Paul explains that he “delights” in the law of the Lord” (v. 22), but there is a constant warring of the new and old natures within him, which will continue as long as he is on this earth, serving the law of God with the mind, but the law of sin with the flesh (v. 25).

    So, with that in mind, you ask if moral standards change? Well, certainly there are cultural nuances that change over the centuries, or look differently in different parts of the world. Some moral standards, and some interpretations of the law, will change over time. The dietary and religious observance standards imposed on the people of Israel, we are told by Paul, no longer apply to us. But the commandments have not changed. They are the same yesterday, today, and forever. Sin is sin. Always.

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

    Several of the commenters LOVE to ask endless questions, its’ a way of wasting their time, and yours. Maybe they don’t have anything else to do – I think that’s often the case.

    Another fav game is “you didn’t ansewr my question” which in essence is until you’ve answered the question the way THEY want to hear it, the question continues over and over again.

    It’s a GAME!

    LOL!!!!!

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

    Several of the commenters LOVE to ask endless questions, its’ a way of wasting their time, and yours. Maybe they don’t have anything else to do – I think that’s often the case.

    Another fav game is “you didn’t ansewr my question” which in essence is until you’ve answered the question the way THEY want to hear it, the question continues over and over again.

    It’s a GAME!

    LOL!!!!!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@158):

    Absolute standards are based on absolute truth, which is only knowable through the grace and mercy of the all-powerful Creator of the universe.

    That appears to say that no other theists possess absolute standards, since they obviously do not know “the grace and mercy” of God. So, per your thinking, do Jews have “absolute standards”? Do they have morals?

    I really think you’re confusing “grace and mercy” — which is the whole point of Christianity — with the Law. And that Law is not something that only Christians have or know:

    Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.

    Anyhow, you also arrived at this conclusion:

    Sexual harassment, and even rape might be seen as of the highest morality, because it would lead to procreation, the highest value.

    Sure, just as it’s equally likely that pro-lifers could start raping people willy-nilly because of their love of babies. It’s just that logical, Don!

    Doesn’t it bother you that your hypothetical bears no resemblance to real life? That, for some reason, the atheists in this particular story were overwhelmingly appalled by the sexual harrassment and wanted to do something about it?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@158):

    Absolute standards are based on absolute truth, which is only knowable through the grace and mercy of the all-powerful Creator of the universe.

    That appears to say that no other theists possess absolute standards, since they obviously do not know “the grace and mercy” of God. So, per your thinking, do Jews have “absolute standards”? Do they have morals?

    I really think you’re confusing “grace and mercy” — which is the whole point of Christianity — with the Law. And that Law is not something that only Christians have or know:

    Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.

    Anyhow, you also arrived at this conclusion:

    Sexual harassment, and even rape might be seen as of the highest morality, because it would lead to procreation, the highest value.

    Sure, just as it’s equally likely that pro-lifers could start raping people willy-nilly because of their love of babies. It’s just that logical, Don!

    Doesn’t it bother you that your hypothetical bears no resemblance to real life? That, for some reason, the atheists in this particular story were overwhelmingly appalled by the sexual harrassment and wanted to do something about it?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS asked (@159):

    Weren’t the Ten Commandments given to us as an absolute standard …?

    Well, no. Once again, I ask, do you obey all the Sabbath laws? The prologue to Exodus 20 (in verse 2) should tell you to whom the Commandments were given.

    Again, if we only think about things at the proverbial 10,000-foot view, then sure, our standards never change. But what Christians understand to be loving hasn’t been as consistent as you seem to want it to be.

    Klasie has consistently mentioned slavery as one example (and you have consistently failed to address his point, as well). One could also mention the way women were treated in the Bible (namely, as property, for the most part), even as you uphold biblical standards as being absolute and decry a (hypothetical!) disdain for women by atheists. Curious.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS asked (@159):

    Weren’t the Ten Commandments given to us as an absolute standard …?

    Well, no. Once again, I ask, do you obey all the Sabbath laws? The prologue to Exodus 20 (in verse 2) should tell you to whom the Commandments were given.

    Again, if we only think about things at the proverbial 10,000-foot view, then sure, our standards never change. But what Christians understand to be loving hasn’t been as consistent as you seem to want it to be.

    Klasie has consistently mentioned slavery as one example (and you have consistently failed to address his point, as well). One could also mention the way women were treated in the Bible (namely, as property, for the most part), even as you uphold biblical standards as being absolute and decry a (hypothetical!) disdain for women by atheists. Curious.

  • John C

    Are the Adam and Eve and Noah stories factual accounts or parables?
    Does this distinction matter?

  • John C

    Are the Adam and Eve and Noah stories factual accounts or parables?
    Does this distinction matter?

  • reg

    John C,
    They are factual although some of the details of how God formed Adam and Eve may be in more poetic language than historical and the flood could have been more local (i.e., the known world) since the same word “eretz” is used for world and land. But without a fall there would be a big theological problem and Jesus says these events are factual. So the distinction does matter and parable won’t do.

  • reg

    John C,
    They are factual although some of the details of how God formed Adam and Eve may be in more poetic language than historical and the flood could have been more local (i.e., the known world) since the same word “eretz” is used for world and land. But without a fall there would be a big theological problem and Jesus says these events are factual. So the distinction does matter and parable won’t do.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    John C, for the record, I do not agree with reg here, but as this debate has been fought a couple of times before, I am not going to fight it again.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    John C, for the record, I do not agree with reg here, but as this debate has been fought a couple of times before, I am not going to fight it again.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    John C (@168), why are you asking? That seems like quite the non sequitur.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    John C (@168), why are you asking? That seems like quite the non sequitur.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 166:

    That appears to say that no other theists possess absolute standards, since they obviously do not know “the grace and mercy” of God. So, per your thinking, do Jews have “absolute standards”? Do they have morals?

    What you think I appeared to say is not what I actually said. We know the law because rather than give us over to destruction, once Adam sinned, God in His infinite grace and mercy developed a plan of salvation, part of which was to deliver to the world, through the nation of Israel, the law, by which we could know that we were condemned and in need of a Savior. Jews, of course, believe in the one true God, and therefore understand and acknowledge the law, the absolute standard of sin. Sadly, they do not recognize the fact that their Messiah has already come to save them from that sin. Other faiths not adhering to Judeo-Christian teachings, of course, observe moral teachings which are not absolute and which are in conflict in some respect with the absolute standard of Truth (at least with the First Commandment, surely).

    I do agree, of course, with the Scripture that the law is written on their hearts, condemning all, even those who have not heard, and also preparing those hearts for receiving the Savior when the opportunity arises. But you do recognize, I trust, that those who reject the Savior do in the process sear their consciences so that the law written on their hearts no longer convicts them. I don’t understand why you believe I am confusing grace and mercy with the law. It would be helpful if you explained that point, particularly with reference to my explanation to Klasie @ 164, in the context of Romans 6 and 7. Are you saying that you don’t believe the law has a place for Christians? Paul disagrees. We are not to continue in sin, which means that we still must regard the law, though we are no longer condemned by it. He strove continually between his new and old natures, and so should we.

    Anyhow, you also arrived at this conclusion:
    Sexual harassment, and even rape might be seen as of the highest morality, because it would lead to procreation, the highest value.
    Sure, just as it’s equally likely that pro-lifers could start raping people willy-nilly because of their love of babies. It’s just that logical, Don!
    Doesn’t it bother you that your hypothetical bears no resemblance to real life? That, for some reason, the atheists in this particular story were overwhelmingly appalled by the sexual harrassment and wanted to do something about it?

    tODD, my hypothetical was a somewhat absurd reaction to your absurd notion of an “absolute standard” as being “preservation of the species”. Of course, the public posture of the atheists in the posted article was one of disavowal and expressed concern for the women, as you would expect. That may be genuine, and it may be posturing, knowing that community standards (still largely based on vestigial notions of Judeo-Christian morality) will otherwise condemn them. We cannot know which. But, weren’t we just talking in a recent thread about eugenics, which is, to a certitude, similar in nature to what I described in my absurd speculation, and the outgrowth of a “preservation of the species” mindset. It doesn’t look very similar to the Judeo-Christian ethic, does it?

    I really do think you need to read my post @ 164.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 166:

    That appears to say that no other theists possess absolute standards, since they obviously do not know “the grace and mercy” of God. So, per your thinking, do Jews have “absolute standards”? Do they have morals?

    What you think I appeared to say is not what I actually said. We know the law because rather than give us over to destruction, once Adam sinned, God in His infinite grace and mercy developed a plan of salvation, part of which was to deliver to the world, through the nation of Israel, the law, by which we could know that we were condemned and in need of a Savior. Jews, of course, believe in the one true God, and therefore understand and acknowledge the law, the absolute standard of sin. Sadly, they do not recognize the fact that their Messiah has already come to save them from that sin. Other faiths not adhering to Judeo-Christian teachings, of course, observe moral teachings which are not absolute and which are in conflict in some respect with the absolute standard of Truth (at least with the First Commandment, surely).

    I do agree, of course, with the Scripture that the law is written on their hearts, condemning all, even those who have not heard, and also preparing those hearts for receiving the Savior when the opportunity arises. But you do recognize, I trust, that those who reject the Savior do in the process sear their consciences so that the law written on their hearts no longer convicts them. I don’t understand why you believe I am confusing grace and mercy with the law. It would be helpful if you explained that point, particularly with reference to my explanation to Klasie @ 164, in the context of Romans 6 and 7. Are you saying that you don’t believe the law has a place for Christians? Paul disagrees. We are not to continue in sin, which means that we still must regard the law, though we are no longer condemned by it. He strove continually between his new and old natures, and so should we.

    Anyhow, you also arrived at this conclusion:
    Sexual harassment, and even rape might be seen as of the highest morality, because it would lead to procreation, the highest value.
    Sure, just as it’s equally likely that pro-lifers could start raping people willy-nilly because of their love of babies. It’s just that logical, Don!
    Doesn’t it bother you that your hypothetical bears no resemblance to real life? That, for some reason, the atheists in this particular story were overwhelmingly appalled by the sexual harrassment and wanted to do something about it?

    tODD, my hypothetical was a somewhat absurd reaction to your absurd notion of an “absolute standard” as being “preservation of the species”. Of course, the public posture of the atheists in the posted article was one of disavowal and expressed concern for the women, as you would expect. That may be genuine, and it may be posturing, knowing that community standards (still largely based on vestigial notions of Judeo-Christian morality) will otherwise condemn them. We cannot know which. But, weren’t we just talking in a recent thread about eugenics, which is, to a certitude, similar in nature to what I described in my absurd speculation, and the outgrowth of a “preservation of the species” mindset. It doesn’t look very similar to the Judeo-Christian ethic, does it?

    I really do think you need to read my post @ 164.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 167:

    As you know, Jesus restated the Ten Commandments in the New Testament, summarizing 1-4 as the first one (love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind) and 5-10 as the second one (love your neighbor as yourself). But He didn’t abrogate them. The only one that is even arguably not in full effect today is the 4th one, regarding the Sabbath Day, as we saw both Christ and the Apostles defy the Jewish leaders to do His work on the Sabbath. But see Hebrews 4:1-11 — we are still to be diligent to enter His rest (vv. 10-11), at the price of being disobedient if we don’t.

    I addressed the slavery point. See my post @ 116 and my response to you @ 123, which I don’t think you ever acknowledged. For some reason, he wants to keep harping on it. Asked and answered.

    Please give an example of women being treated as property in the New Testament.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 167:

    As you know, Jesus restated the Ten Commandments in the New Testament, summarizing 1-4 as the first one (love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind) and 5-10 as the second one (love your neighbor as yourself). But He didn’t abrogate them. The only one that is even arguably not in full effect today is the 4th one, regarding the Sabbath Day, as we saw both Christ and the Apostles defy the Jewish leaders to do His work on the Sabbath. But see Hebrews 4:1-11 — we are still to be diligent to enter His rest (vv. 10-11), at the price of being disobedient if we don’t.

    I addressed the slavery point. See my post @ 116 and my response to you @ 123, which I don’t think you ever acknowledged. For some reason, he wants to keep harping on it. Asked and answered.

    Please give an example of women being treated as property in the New Testament.

  • Wayne

    In their view, no God, so no right or wrong, no good or bad, all you have is preferences, and every one does what is right in their own eyes. I would prefer that you don’t kill me. It wouldn’t be wrong to kill me because there is no right or wrong. I would prefer that you don’t rape me. I would prefer that you don’t steal my car. To call something wrong is to assume there is a standard of right and wrong. You need to assume there is a universal law. And if there is a law, there is a lawgiver, and they won’t alow that foot in the door.

  • Wayne

    In their view, no God, so no right or wrong, no good or bad, all you have is preferences, and every one does what is right in their own eyes. I would prefer that you don’t kill me. It wouldn’t be wrong to kill me because there is no right or wrong. I would prefer that you don’t rape me. I would prefer that you don’t steal my car. To call something wrong is to assume there is a standard of right and wrong. You need to assume there is a universal law. And if there is a law, there is a lawgiver, and they won’t alow that foot in the door.

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

    Why? Why should any individual care if the species lives on after they themselves are dead?

    Survival of the fittest. Species who don’t care whether their progeny survive may not survive. Those who don’t care die out. Those who care continue. It is an effect as well as a cause. Sure bacteria don’t “care” whether they survive, but they clearly are surviving due to other adaptations.

    History pretty well shows that cooperative human groups are more successful. The more cooperative, the more successful they are. I don’t think success made them cooperative, so it looks like cooperativeness made them successful. Once you have an overwhelming majority of people who function above a certain cooperativeness threshold, then a given individual who is selfish can do quite well by taking advantage of his neighbors without giving back. However, does his line of like behaving progeny do as well as the more cooperative? If not, his line will decline or die out.

    This doesn’t mean that atheists are the selfish or uncooperative people. In fact, I have very nice non religious friends who are not particularly selfish or uncooperative. Just to be clear.

    However, religion can be a framework for cooperation that improves survival, and lack of a religion can reduce cooperation and leave a group more vulnerable because they lack a framework for cooperation. Religious pluralism can also reduce cooperation.

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

    Why? Why should any individual care if the species lives on after they themselves are dead?

    Survival of the fittest. Species who don’t care whether their progeny survive may not survive. Those who don’t care die out. Those who care continue. It is an effect as well as a cause. Sure bacteria don’t “care” whether they survive, but they clearly are surviving due to other adaptations.

    History pretty well shows that cooperative human groups are more successful. The more cooperative, the more successful they are. I don’t think success made them cooperative, so it looks like cooperativeness made them successful. Once you have an overwhelming majority of people who function above a certain cooperativeness threshold, then a given individual who is selfish can do quite well by taking advantage of his neighbors without giving back. However, does his line of like behaving progeny do as well as the more cooperative? If not, his line will decline or die out.

    This doesn’t mean that atheists are the selfish or uncooperative people. In fact, I have very nice non religious friends who are not particularly selfish or uncooperative. Just to be clear.

    However, religion can be a framework for cooperation that improves survival, and lack of a religion can reduce cooperation and leave a group more vulnerable because they lack a framework for cooperation. Religious pluralism can also reduce cooperation.

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

    @174

    In actual human systems, some individuals are dominant. They make and enforce rules such as public morality. So, when those willing to kill you are able to kill you and continue without penalty from others in the community, they will likely prey on others in the community. As a community, we all have an interest in enforcement of certain rules. When such basic cooperation is abandoned, it is going to be hard to continue as a viable social group.

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

    @174

    In actual human systems, some individuals are dominant. They make and enforce rules such as public morality. So, when those willing to kill you are able to kill you and continue without penalty from others in the community, they will likely prey on others in the community. As a community, we all have an interest in enforcement of certain rules. When such basic cooperation is abandoned, it is going to be hard to continue as a viable social group.

  • John C

    Todd at 171
    Why are you asking?

    This is a question that will always be asked and as Reg and Klasie have demonstrated, the response can be thought-provoking.

  • John C

    Todd at 171
    Why are you asking?

    This is a question that will always be asked and as Reg and Klasie have demonstrated, the response can be thought-provoking.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    John @ 177: What are you saying? Thought-provoking in what sense?

    Sg @ 175: You get it.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    John @ 177: What are you saying? Thought-provoking in what sense?

    Sg @ 175: You get it.

  • Michael B.

    @sg@175

    It is an interesting question of how religion fits into an evolutionary framework. Suppose you have 2 tribes, Tribe A, who is deeply religious, and Tribe B, who is atheist, and both tribes go to war. I can easily see how Tribe A could have some advantages. Tribe A will likely believe that god is on their side, that they’ll enjoy a wonderful afterlife, and so on. Meanwhile, Tribe B only believes in the present life.

  • Michael B.

    @sg@175

    It is an interesting question of how religion fits into an evolutionary framework. Suppose you have 2 tribes, Tribe A, who is deeply religious, and Tribe B, who is atheist, and both tribes go to war. I can easily see how Tribe A could have some advantages. Tribe A will likely believe that god is on their side, that they’ll enjoy a wonderful afterlife, and so on. Meanwhile, Tribe B only believes in the present life.

  • John C

    One of the faultlines in today’s society is between those who believe in the literal truth of the stories told in their Holy Books and those who have made some accommodation with science.
    Religious Literalists are generally deeply hostile to science — the only authority that challenges the divine creation narrative with one of its own. To avoid contamination, kids are homeschooled and sent off to Christian Colleges. In Australia, the Discovery Institute provides curriculm over the internet.( but this is not the place to pursue that trend)
    Meanwhile science continues and sometimes there are small shifts in religious narrative and doctrine in response.
    Reg believes that the Bible is almost but not entirely factual. Geologists have not found any evidence for the Flood so it may have been local rather than universal. The language may be too poetic. Perhaps there was too much emphasis on this word rather than that one.
    And so the world changes.

  • John C

    One of the faultlines in today’s society is between those who believe in the literal truth of the stories told in their Holy Books and those who have made some accommodation with science.
    Religious Literalists are generally deeply hostile to science — the only authority that challenges the divine creation narrative with one of its own. To avoid contamination, kids are homeschooled and sent off to Christian Colleges. In Australia, the Discovery Institute provides curriculm over the internet.( but this is not the place to pursue that trend)
    Meanwhile science continues and sometimes there are small shifts in religious narrative and doctrine in response.
    Reg believes that the Bible is almost but not entirely factual. Geologists have not found any evidence for the Flood so it may have been local rather than universal. The language may be too poetic. Perhaps there was too much emphasis on this word rather than that one.
    And so the world changes.

  • John C

    almost but not entirely, not entirely but almost

  • John C

    almost but not entirely, not entirely but almost

  • reg

    John C.,
    You clearly have an axe to grind.

    One can be theologically orthodox and still be a believer in science. Seven day creationism isn’t the only game in town when it comes to Genesis. Perhaps you should read Meredith Kline on this topic. On the flood, since the word for world and land as in known world or general area is the same in Hebrew the flood could well have been localized. As I recall both the Mediterranean and Black Sea have been dammed, evaporated and then refilled when their blocked opening gave way on various occasions….

  • reg

    John C.,
    You clearly have an axe to grind.

    One can be theologically orthodox and still be a believer in science. Seven day creationism isn’t the only game in town when it comes to Genesis. Perhaps you should read Meredith Kline on this topic. On the flood, since the word for world and land as in known world or general area is the same in Hebrew the flood could well have been localized. As I recall both the Mediterranean and Black Sea have been dammed, evaporated and then refilled when their blocked opening gave way on various occasions….

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

    To avoid contamination, kids are homeschooled and sent off to Christian Colleges.

    To avoid harassment, discrimination and abuse, kids are homeschooled and sent off to Christian Colleges.

    Fixed that for ya.

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

    To avoid contamination, kids are homeschooled and sent off to Christian Colleges.

    To avoid harassment, discrimination and abuse, kids are homeschooled and sent off to Christian Colleges.

    Fixed that for ya.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Of course, atheists feed off literalists and fundamentalists. They do not like to be reminded that that is but one of many “games in town”, as reg reminds us. They also tend to be quite ignorant of human history and psychology, preferring instead to repeat mindless little mantras that have little factual basis, but can be found in the same palybook the literalists and fundamentalists use.

    I am, of course, speaking more of the so-called “neo-” atheists, which are to classical atheism/agnosticism that what modern evangelicals are to the faith once delivered to the saints.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Of course, atheists feed off literalists and fundamentalists. They do not like to be reminded that that is but one of many “games in town”, as reg reminds us. They also tend to be quite ignorant of human history and psychology, preferring instead to repeat mindless little mantras that have little factual basis, but can be found in the same palybook the literalists and fundamentalists use.

    I am, of course, speaking more of the so-called “neo-” atheists, which are to classical atheism/agnosticism that what modern evangelicals are to the faith once delivered to the saints.

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

    I hate to burst John C.’s little bubble, but there are Ph.D geologists working for major multinational companies that are dyed in the wool creationists. I know them personally. They may not spend their days at work advertising their beliefs but they definitely hold them.

    Ideologues in universities may be deeply hostile to creationists and religionists and work to identify and eliminate them from postgraduate science programs, but religionists and creationists are not hostile to science. Once again we see folks asserting that the causal arrow points in the direction opposite from what evidence suggests.

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

    I hate to burst John C.’s little bubble, but there are Ph.D geologists working for major multinational companies that are dyed in the wool creationists. I know them personally. They may not spend their days at work advertising their beliefs but they definitely hold them.

    Ideologues in universities may be deeply hostile to creationists and religionists and work to identify and eliminate them from postgraduate science programs, but religionists and creationists are not hostile to science. Once again we see folks asserting that the causal arrow points in the direction opposite from what evidence suggests.

  • DonS

    Well said, sg @ 185. Outstanding scientists, who understand fully the laws of nature as they apply to our present age, but also fully believe the Scriptural accounts God has given to us, operate in all walks of scientific life, without conflict and without compromise of their beliefs.

  • DonS

    Well said, sg @ 185. Outstanding scientists, who understand fully the laws of nature as they apply to our present age, but also fully believe the Scriptural accounts God has given to us, operate in all walks of scientific life, without conflict and without compromise of their beliefs.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Sg – a small handfull of fellows, that are willing to live in self deceit. For a short time I was one of them. And the whole ideologues thing is way over-blown – as the expose on the movie “Expelled” shows. Google it.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Sg – a small handfull of fellows, that are willing to live in self deceit. For a short time I was one of them. And the whole ideologues thing is way over-blown – as the expose on the movie “Expelled” shows. Google it.

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

    a small handfull of fellows, that are willing to live in self deceit.

    yeah, the impression I got was more of a sort of humility. That while we have put together a logical framework that functions for the purposes we need it to, we can’t really be absolutely sure. Therefore, as to faith they have their story, and they are sticking to it. As for understanding with their human reason, they just use the current and very serviceable framework. They seemed to understand quite clearly that they couldn’t refute what has been observed and tested by what all we can come up with. So, they didn’t come off as self deceived, but I am not clairvoyant, nor am I a psychiatrist. So, all I can relate is a my impression.

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

    a small handfull of fellows, that are willing to live in self deceit.

    yeah, the impression I got was more of a sort of humility. That while we have put together a logical framework that functions for the purposes we need it to, we can’t really be absolutely sure. Therefore, as to faith they have their story, and they are sticking to it. As for understanding with their human reason, they just use the current and very serviceable framework. They seemed to understand quite clearly that they couldn’t refute what has been observed and tested by what all we can come up with. So, they didn’t come off as self deceived, but I am not clairvoyant, nor am I a psychiatrist. So, all I can relate is a my impression.

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

    And the whole ideologues thing is way over-blown

    What percent of abusive ideologues is acceptable in places of authority in academia? If a candidate is not doing something illegal in his private life, how much should his religious beliefs count towards/against his consideration? Universities have non discrimination policies. Do they think that some level of discrimination/harassment based on religion is okay? I guess I am arguing for neutrality. It shouldn’t matter at all ever. Atheists, agnostics, religionists should not be favored or disfavored in higher ed. Idealistic, I know.

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

    And the whole ideologues thing is way over-blown

    What percent of abusive ideologues is acceptable in places of authority in academia? If a candidate is not doing something illegal in his private life, how much should his religious beliefs count towards/against his consideration? Universities have non discrimination policies. Do they think that some level of discrimination/harassment based on religion is okay? I guess I am arguing for neutrality. It shouldn’t matter at all ever. Atheists, agnostics, religionists should not be favored or disfavored in higher ed. Idealistic, I know.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Sg, there are many religious people in the science world. The so-called discrimination cases, as documented in “Expelled”, were proven otherwise.

    When it comes to humility and all that, there are still lines. There is adifference between belief, holding on to disproven ideas. For example, you might belief in a spiritworld (let’s say some ‘traditional, tribal’ religion). Fine. But would allow a witchdoctor to go to medical school and refuse to accept the scientific consensus on disease origin? Would you allow him to practice as an MD, or to teach medical students?

    Of course I choose an extreme example, but it is to demonstrate that the private belief, or accomodating view, or the humility view, or the rights view can be taken to far.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Sg, there are many religious people in the science world. The so-called discrimination cases, as documented in “Expelled”, were proven otherwise.

    When it comes to humility and all that, there are still lines. There is adifference between belief, holding on to disproven ideas. For example, you might belief in a spiritworld (let’s say some ‘traditional, tribal’ religion). Fine. But would allow a witchdoctor to go to medical school and refuse to accept the scientific consensus on disease origin? Would you allow him to practice as an MD, or to teach medical students?

    Of course I choose an extreme example, but it is to demonstrate that the private belief, or accomodating view, or the humility view, or the rights view can be taken to far.

  • John C

    Sg, if there are Christian high schools and universities with a creation science curriculm, then it is not really a surprise to find geologists with Phds who are dyed in the wool creationists.
    And if public education is as bad as you imply, then not a lot has been “fixed” has it.

    Klassie, every faith contains some residue of religious fundamentalism and wherever fundamentalism intersects with politics and education, there will be tension.
    You don’t have to be an atheist to worried by Big Religion.
    The clash of civilizations does not always take place in foreign lands.

    Reg, I don’t have an axe to grind but I do have a pencil that has to be sharpened.

  • John C

    Sg, if there are Christian high schools and universities with a creation science curriculm, then it is not really a surprise to find geologists with Phds who are dyed in the wool creationists.
    And if public education is as bad as you imply, then not a lot has been “fixed” has it.

    Klassie, every faith contains some residue of religious fundamentalism and wherever fundamentalism intersects with politics and education, there will be tension.
    You don’t have to be an atheist to worried by Big Religion.
    The clash of civilizations does not always take place in foreign lands.

    Reg, I don’t have an axe to grind but I do have a pencil that has to be sharpened.

  • Michael B.

    @sg@185

    “I hate to burst John C.’s little bubble, but there are Ph.D geologists working for major multinational companies that are dyed in the wool creationists. I know them personally.”

    Where I used to work there were a couple of molecular biologists with PhDs who said they didn’t believe in evolution. They were great scientists too. They had many papers published in peer reviewed journals, and I think even a couple in either Nature or Cell. It was the strangest thing to see. They were just brilliantly able to compartmentalize their beliefs. In one conversation, they’d be these skeptical, critical, evidence-demanding scientists. In another, it’d be totally different.

  • Michael B.

    @sg@185

    “I hate to burst John C.’s little bubble, but there are Ph.D geologists working for major multinational companies that are dyed in the wool creationists. I know them personally.”

    Where I used to work there were a couple of molecular biologists with PhDs who said they didn’t believe in evolution. They were great scientists too. They had many papers published in peer reviewed journals, and I think even a couple in either Nature or Cell. It was the strangest thing to see. They were just brilliantly able to compartmentalize their beliefs. In one conversation, they’d be these skeptical, critical, evidence-demanding scientists. In another, it’d be totally different.

  • fws

    Don @ 164
    http://www.geneveith.com/2012/07/18/atheists-sexual-harassment-problem/#comment-157268

    DON 1. The Absolute Standard Defining Sin — the law — Can we agree that sin is, at its root, disobedience of God’s law?

    FRANK: Don. Congratulations. By returning to the basics, you have identified precisely why you and us Lutherans always end up talking past each other!

    Your view is to look at the Law as the keeping of the second table and ignore the demand of God for a far more important righteousness. It is to see conformity to the Law as a keeping that looks like a keeping of the civil law. It is a Law that can be kept whether our heart is really in that keeping or not.

    There is a far more rigorous demand God makes, that can only be kept by a faith that is totally apart from anything we are able to do.

    This demand of God is uniquely found in the first commandment. This commandment deals with movements of the heart. In this commandment God demands true fear, love and trust in God. In short it demands faith as the perfect keeping of the entire Law.

    It is this commandment that Christ himself takes into his own hands whenever we hear him teach the Law of God. It is a preachment of the Law that is designed to terrify one’s conscience and to de-moral-ize all men into terrified and despairing Judases who despair at being able to keep the Law as God demands it be kept according to the 1st commandment, which demand nothing short of our entire heart.

    The proof that we cannot do this commandment is that tremendous effort must be expended to be good. This would not be true if our heart truly agreed with our conscience and with what we are doing that is good and right.

    THE LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS:
    “That which is not of faith is sin.”
    The opposite of sin is not sin-less-ness.
    The opposite of sin is faith.

    Therefore:

    Adam’s Original Righeousness and his Image of God , fully consisted, before the fall, is after the fall, and will be in the resurrection for Adam , ALONE, obtained , alone, by faith, alone , in Christ alone,” apart from the works of the Law. ”
    Apology Article I
    http://www.bookofconcord.org/defense_2_originalsin.php

  • fws

    Don @ 164
    http://www.geneveith.com/2012/07/18/atheists-sexual-harassment-problem/#comment-157268

    DON 1. The Absolute Standard Defining Sin — the law — Can we agree that sin is, at its root, disobedience of God’s law?

    FRANK: Don. Congratulations. By returning to the basics, you have identified precisely why you and us Lutherans always end up talking past each other!

    Your view is to look at the Law as the keeping of the second table and ignore the demand of God for a far more important righteousness. It is to see conformity to the Law as a keeping that looks like a keeping of the civil law. It is a Law that can be kept whether our heart is really in that keeping or not.

    There is a far more rigorous demand God makes, that can only be kept by a faith that is totally apart from anything we are able to do.

    This demand of God is uniquely found in the first commandment. This commandment deals with movements of the heart. In this commandment God demands true fear, love and trust in God. In short it demands faith as the perfect keeping of the entire Law.

    It is this commandment that Christ himself takes into his own hands whenever we hear him teach the Law of God. It is a preachment of the Law that is designed to terrify one’s conscience and to de-moral-ize all men into terrified and despairing Judases who despair at being able to keep the Law as God demands it be kept according to the 1st commandment, which demand nothing short of our entire heart.

    The proof that we cannot do this commandment is that tremendous effort must be expended to be good. This would not be true if our heart truly agreed with our conscience and with what we are doing that is good and right.

    THE LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS:
    “That which is not of faith is sin.”
    The opposite of sin is not sin-less-ness.
    The opposite of sin is faith.

    Therefore:

    Adam’s Original Righeousness and his Image of God , fully consisted, before the fall, is after the fall, and will be in the resurrection for Adam , ALONE, obtained , alone, by faith, alone , in Christ alone,” apart from the works of the Law. ”
    Apology Article I
    http://www.bookofconcord.org/defense_2_originalsin.php

  • fws

    Don

    The morality of which you speak is nothing other than to teach the philosophical righeousness of Aristotle. It is to follow the golden mean. it is to avoid the extremes of legalism vs licentiousness.

    NO Christ or the Holy Spirit are in ANY way necessary for the second table righteousness which you describe. Moses is not even necessary. Why not? God has Divinely written his Law in the Reason of ALL men. (romans 2:15). This is why Lutherans hold up Aristotles ethics as an example of how men can both know and do the Divine Law. Reason agrees with the Decalog. Why? It is the SAME Divine Law God has already placed in Reason.

    So why is it that man doesnt follow the Law of God? Because conscience-as-Divine-Law-in-Reason is fallen or defective or incomplete? Nope.

    Man fails to consistently do Aristotle’s Ethics because reason is fallen.
    Reason thinks it can balance the moral ledger with God by doing the second table.

    But the problem of sin is more intractable than that:
    The heart is fallen!
    So man needs a new heart with new heart movements to keep that first commandment.
    That can only happen with a totally NEW birth. not just a renewal of the old birth.
    There must be a new creation.
    The old must simply die.

  • fws

    Don

    The morality of which you speak is nothing other than to teach the philosophical righeousness of Aristotle. It is to follow the golden mean. it is to avoid the extremes of legalism vs licentiousness.

    NO Christ or the Holy Spirit are in ANY way necessary for the second table righteousness which you describe. Moses is not even necessary. Why not? God has Divinely written his Law in the Reason of ALL men. (romans 2:15). This is why Lutherans hold up Aristotles ethics as an example of how men can both know and do the Divine Law. Reason agrees with the Decalog. Why? It is the SAME Divine Law God has already placed in Reason.

    So why is it that man doesnt follow the Law of God? Because conscience-as-Divine-Law-in-Reason is fallen or defective or incomplete? Nope.

    Man fails to consistently do Aristotle’s Ethics because reason is fallen.
    Reason thinks it can balance the moral ledger with God by doing the second table.

    But the problem of sin is more intractable than that:
    The heart is fallen!
    So man needs a new heart with new heart movements to keep that first commandment.
    That can only happen with a totally NEW birth. not just a renewal of the old birth.
    There must be a new creation.
    The old must simply die.

  • DonS

    FWS @ 193 & 194: We’re still talking past each other, brother. We’re not talking about salvation. We are talking about Romans 6 and 7 and about the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives to enable us to NOT continue in sin — to give us the means to war against the old nature that still resides in us.

  • DonS

    FWS @ 193 & 194: We’re still talking past each other, brother. We’re not talking about salvation. We are talking about Romans 6 and 7 and about the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives to enable us to NOT continue in sin — to give us the means to war against the old nature that still resides in us.

  • fws

    Don

    It is important to see this as as fact:
    St Paul:
    “The good that I want to do I don’t do, and the evil I want to avoid doing I end up doing. Who will rescue me from this?!”

    Even a wiccan, pagan, voodoo priestess, homosexual, atheistic Post Modernist will readily confess this with St Paul. Even a Pharisee can see this is true on his spiritual bad hair days. So what is it that makes a christian different? That he went to Bible Academy and has memorized all the Law passages in the Bible? No.

    It is the answer to St Pauls plaintiff question of the heart that is the difference.
    Aristotle would suggest more willpower. More self discipline. More spirituality even. Less materialism. Focus on higher things. Ideals. Principles. First Things. Focus on the Telos. What is the higher good that man was created to become? If we get our thinking right, then right actions will follow!

    Undeniable fact: This IS, precisely so, the exact exercise of free will that God demands that all humans do. Christians do not become suddenly exempt from this necessary struggle of ruled reason against the desires of the heart that looks for the soul’s appetites to be sated by… doing something.

    A christian will despair at all of that. Why? Because Christ has taken the Law into his own hands and aimed it at the very heart of the matter. Which is the human heart. It is not about what we can do in thought word and deed.

    The soul’s appetite can only be sated by a restoration of true fear love and trust that are movements of the heart. There is no army of Moses that can make us love the way we ought. Self discipline will only at best curb outward sinning. Which IS a very good thing! Even reason knows that this is just a fact.

    The error is to think that with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that somehow Old Adam goes away. Old Adam is ALL we will ever see and do, evidentially in our lives.

    Deal with it Don. Romans 7 says precisely that.
    Romans 8s victory is only seen, alone by faith, alone in view of Christ and not in anything we can see or observe in our flesh that looks like the true moral progress God demands. That progress alone is a matter of the heart.

    In external morality, life is all exactly as Aristotle describes. Even after the new birth. That which is born of flesh, remains just that, even after the new birth!

  • fws

    Don

    It is important to see this as as fact:
    St Paul:
    “The good that I want to do I don’t do, and the evil I want to avoid doing I end up doing. Who will rescue me from this?!”

    Even a wiccan, pagan, voodoo priestess, homosexual, atheistic Post Modernist will readily confess this with St Paul. Even a Pharisee can see this is true on his spiritual bad hair days. So what is it that makes a christian different? That he went to Bible Academy and has memorized all the Law passages in the Bible? No.

    It is the answer to St Pauls plaintiff question of the heart that is the difference.
    Aristotle would suggest more willpower. More self discipline. More spirituality even. Less materialism. Focus on higher things. Ideals. Principles. First Things. Focus on the Telos. What is the higher good that man was created to become? If we get our thinking right, then right actions will follow!

    Undeniable fact: This IS, precisely so, the exact exercise of free will that God demands that all humans do. Christians do not become suddenly exempt from this necessary struggle of ruled reason against the desires of the heart that looks for the soul’s appetites to be sated by… doing something.

    A christian will despair at all of that. Why? Because Christ has taken the Law into his own hands and aimed it at the very heart of the matter. Which is the human heart. It is not about what we can do in thought word and deed.

    The soul’s appetite can only be sated by a restoration of true fear love and trust that are movements of the heart. There is no army of Moses that can make us love the way we ought. Self discipline will only at best curb outward sinning. Which IS a very good thing! Even reason knows that this is just a fact.

    The error is to think that with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that somehow Old Adam goes away. Old Adam is ALL we will ever see and do, evidentially in our lives.

    Deal with it Don. Romans 7 says precisely that.
    Romans 8s victory is only seen, alone by faith, alone in view of Christ and not in anything we can see or observe in our flesh that looks like the true moral progress God demands. That progress alone is a matter of the heart.

    In external morality, life is all exactly as Aristotle describes. Even after the new birth. That which is born of flesh, remains just that, even after the new birth!

  • DonS

    Exactly Frank. I would never suggest more willpower. I would suggest more yielding to the Holy Spirit. As Paul did. And as you should.

  • DonS

    Exactly Frank. I would never suggest more willpower. I would suggest more yielding to the Holy Spirit. As Paul did. And as you should.

  • fws

    don @ 195

    Dear brother in Christ.
    Yes. We are continuing to talk past one another.
    Maybe we can stop doing that.
    Would you please read , carefully, what I have just written and consider how it is different, radically so, from what you advocate as the means for the cessation of sin?

    Our Lutheran definition of Sin is radically different from your own. And you are right to point out that this is really the starting point.

    If Christ is the end of sin, then it matters greatly what our definition of sin is doesn’t it?

    Your view of salvation is different from the Lutheran one precisely because your definition of sin is radically different from ours and agrees with Rome’s definition I am suggesting. Agreeing with Rome is not always wrong. I agree with Rome on a bunch of stuff. Just not this.

  • fws

    don @ 195

    Dear brother in Christ.
    Yes. We are continuing to talk past one another.
    Maybe we can stop doing that.
    Would you please read , carefully, what I have just written and consider how it is different, radically so, from what you advocate as the means for the cessation of sin?

    Our Lutheran definition of Sin is radically different from your own. And you are right to point out that this is really the starting point.

    If Christ is the end of sin, then it matters greatly what our definition of sin is doesn’t it?

    Your view of salvation is different from the Lutheran one precisely because your definition of sin is radically different from ours and agrees with Rome’s definition I am suggesting. Agreeing with Rome is not always wrong. I agree with Rome on a bunch of stuff. Just not this.

  • fws

    Don

    You suggest that Original Righeousness consisted of Adam following the command to not eat the fruit of the forbidden tree.

    And I suspect, if indeed you have consciously detailed it all out in your mind, that you would think that the Image of God was to be in perfect conformity to what we are told in the Decalog.

    Lutherans disagree exactly here.
    We argue that Adams Innocence and Image of God was the same…
    before the fall,
    after the fall
    and in the resurrection.
    Ditto for his descendants.
    This is:
    Faith alone, in Christ alone. Apart from the works of the Law.

    And this was theprecise point of departure of the Lutherans from the Roman Thomists.
    It was not the doctrine of faith alone that was the starting point of divergence.
    We Lutherans do a great disservice to Reformed and Evangelical brothers and sisters like you my dear, dear friend in Christ Don, by not stating our own theology more clearly by doing just as you have wisely suggested in your post. Start at the beginning!

  • fws

    Don

    You suggest that Original Righeousness consisted of Adam following the command to not eat the fruit of the forbidden tree.

    And I suspect, if indeed you have consciously detailed it all out in your mind, that you would think that the Image of God was to be in perfect conformity to what we are told in the Decalog.

    Lutherans disagree exactly here.
    We argue that Adams Innocence and Image of God was the same…
    before the fall,
    after the fall
    and in the resurrection.
    Ditto for his descendants.
    This is:
    Faith alone, in Christ alone. Apart from the works of the Law.

    And this was theprecise point of departure of the Lutherans from the Roman Thomists.
    It was not the doctrine of faith alone that was the starting point of divergence.
    We Lutherans do a great disservice to Reformed and Evangelical brothers and sisters like you my dear, dear friend in Christ Don, by not stating our own theology more clearly by doing just as you have wisely suggested in your post. Start at the beginning!

  • DonS

    Frank, I read what you wrote. It doesn’t square with what Paul wrote. I’m going with Paul on this one.

  • DonS

    Frank, I read what you wrote. It doesn’t square with what Paul wrote. I’m going with Paul on this one.

  • fws

    Don

    In short:

    Lutherans do not believe that the content, essence, form, basis in fact, concrete fact of, or means of one’s Righteousness before God is dispensational.

    From eternity to eternity, Righteousness before God must be alone, the Alpha and Omega and to have ALL our works hidden inside of His.

  • fws

    Don

    In short:

    Lutherans do not believe that the content, essence, form, basis in fact, concrete fact of, or means of one’s Righteousness before God is dispensational.

    From eternity to eternity, Righteousness before God must be alone, the Alpha and Omega and to have ALL our works hidden inside of His.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    +1, FWS.

    ” ..more yielding to the Holy Spirit.”

    One of the good things that I want to do, but don’t ( à la the Apostle).

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    +1, FWS.

    ” ..more yielding to the Holy Spirit.”

    One of the good things that I want to do, but don’t ( à la the Apostle).

  • fws

    Mike @202

    In our Formula of Concord, I suggest that Art I and II must be read as a couplet.

    Art I describes the Old Adam … in the Believer. Free will? Old Adam.

    Art II: The believer is reduced to exercising his free will in only doing one thing. What is that one thing?

    Show up in Church. Do not despise the preaching of the Word and the sacraments. Those are , alone, what can effect the heart movements that are New Man.

    So then FC art II describes abuse of freedom in the Gospel as the idea that we can cut ourselves off from the Word and still have Life.

    The twin excesses of legalism and libertinism are to teach Aristotle. This is to teach paganism and not christianity. Christianity’s twin distinctions, as to the Law are pharisee or despairing Judas. Until. Christ. And that Christ ONLY comes through Word and Sacrament.

    So the message for the practicing homosexual, the adulterous woman, the pharisee, the despairing judas, the wiccan, the confessional Lutheran is to urgently and sincerely and tenderly invite all to come to church.

    There is no other way.
    legalism vs libertinism? We can leave that battle to Aristotle. He has it covered.

  • fws

    Mike @202

    In our Formula of Concord, I suggest that Art I and II must be read as a couplet.

    Art I describes the Old Adam … in the Believer. Free will? Old Adam.

    Art II: The believer is reduced to exercising his free will in only doing one thing. What is that one thing?

    Show up in Church. Do not despise the preaching of the Word and the sacraments. Those are , alone, what can effect the heart movements that are New Man.

    So then FC art II describes abuse of freedom in the Gospel as the idea that we can cut ourselves off from the Word and still have Life.

    The twin excesses of legalism and libertinism are to teach Aristotle. This is to teach paganism and not christianity. Christianity’s twin distinctions, as to the Law are pharisee or despairing Judas. Until. Christ. And that Christ ONLY comes through Word and Sacrament.

    So the message for the practicing homosexual, the adulterous woman, the pharisee, the despairing judas, the wiccan, the confessional Lutheran is to urgently and sincerely and tenderly invite all to come to church.

    There is no other way.
    legalism vs libertinism? We can leave that battle to Aristotle. He has it covered.

  • fws

    don @ 200

    Don. You are , if anything, a rigorously pious man. and fearlessly honest.

    So what is it you have identified in St Paul that disagrees with our Lutheran view of what is Sin vs righteousness?

    Congratulations! We are no longer talking past one another. We are dealing with a true difference. Can we discuss this now? I see this as progress.

  • fws

    don @ 200

    Don. You are , if anything, a rigorously pious man. and fearlessly honest.

    So what is it you have identified in St Paul that disagrees with our Lutheran view of what is Sin vs righteousness?

    Congratulations! We are no longer talking past one another. We are dealing with a true difference. Can we discuss this now? I see this as progress.

  • fws

    Don & Mike

    I agree (as do the Lutheran Confessions) that the believer in Christ does indeed have a new will that wants the will of God to prevail. To say differently than that would be to contradict the very words of the Holy Spirit himself through Saint Paul.

    Here is the difference: That new will is entirely and inseparably about being fed by the Word of God and that Life-sustaining Word also embedded in the Blessed Sacraments. As soon as this Word is cut off, then immediately any new will is completely gone. Poof!
    This is exactly like unplugging an appliance. Dead. Death.

    It is not like unplugging a notebook with a battery pack. Our new will is utterly, and completely dependent upon being plugged into the Life giving and sustaining Word of Life and it is alone the current that flows through that connection that is the force and Life that is that new will.

    Cut off the juice, stop attending church? Dead. Old Adam. Death.
    Free will? Old Adam.

    New Man’s Will in Christ? Alone what flows into our ears by hearing. Faith comes by hearing. Hearing comes by … the Word of God. Alone.

  • fws

    Don & Mike

    I agree (as do the Lutheran Confessions) that the believer in Christ does indeed have a new will that wants the will of God to prevail. To say differently than that would be to contradict the very words of the Holy Spirit himself through Saint Paul.

    Here is the difference: That new will is entirely and inseparably about being fed by the Word of God and that Life-sustaining Word also embedded in the Blessed Sacraments. As soon as this Word is cut off, then immediately any new will is completely gone. Poof!
    This is exactly like unplugging an appliance. Dead. Death.

    It is not like unplugging a notebook with a battery pack. Our new will is utterly, and completely dependent upon being plugged into the Life giving and sustaining Word of Life and it is alone the current that flows through that connection that is the force and Life that is that new will.

    Cut off the juice, stop attending church? Dead. Old Adam. Death.
    Free will? Old Adam.

    New Man’s Will in Christ? Alone what flows into our ears by hearing. Faith comes by hearing. Hearing comes by … the Word of God. Alone.

  • Stephen

    Mike @ 202

    Excellent! You point out the utter contradiction of this statement @ 197

    “I would never suggest more willpower. I would suggest more yielding to the Holy Spirit.”

    DonS, do you see that? Yielding looks like what exactly? More law-doing, centered on what we do or do not do? Is yielding a doing that does not involve the will, that is not a work, and hence faith, like a kind of sincere attempt at being sinlessness or pure obedience? That’s what I hear. How is that not works righteous?

  • Stephen

    Mike @ 202

    Excellent! You point out the utter contradiction of this statement @ 197

    “I would never suggest more willpower. I would suggest more yielding to the Holy Spirit.”

    DonS, do you see that? Yielding looks like what exactly? More law-doing, centered on what we do or do not do? Is yielding a doing that does not involve the will, that is not a work, and hence faith, like a kind of sincere attempt at being sinlessness or pure obedience? That’s what I hear. How is that not works righteous?

  • Stephen

    Great analogy Frank @205. And Jesus uses the same kind of analogy when he talks of the vine and the branches. “Apart from me (the Word) YOU CAN DO NOTHING.

  • Stephen

    Great analogy Frank @205. And Jesus uses the same kind of analogy when he talks of the vine and the branches. “Apart from me (the Word) YOU CAN DO NOTHING.

  • fws

    Free will is Aristotle.
    Which is to say it is entirely Old Adam and fallen.
    Even in the Believer.

    Our Lutheran Confessions grant to this free will the full power to both know and do the Divine Law of God in thought, word and deed.

    This is said to point out that No Christ or Holy Spirit is needed to be a virtuous person in thought, word and deed. Aristotle, the boy scouts, the Rotary Club and the police and hangman are quite enough to make virtue happen on earth.

    cf Luke 18 and the story of the Antinomian Judge. Even getting our thinking right is not necessary for virtue to happen. Isnt that amazing? It’s true. One would never know this fact from reading about how we need to reject Gnosticism and Post Modernism and get our dictionary definition of marriage just right in order for virtue to prevail in the USA.

    So what is it that Christ and the Holy Spirit are needed for if not for any of this?

    THAT is the question the Lutheran church exists to answer.

  • fws

    Free will is Aristotle.
    Which is to say it is entirely Old Adam and fallen.
    Even in the Believer.

    Our Lutheran Confessions grant to this free will the full power to both know and do the Divine Law of God in thought, word and deed.

    This is said to point out that No Christ or Holy Spirit is needed to be a virtuous person in thought, word and deed. Aristotle, the boy scouts, the Rotary Club and the police and hangman are quite enough to make virtue happen on earth.

    cf Luke 18 and the story of the Antinomian Judge. Even getting our thinking right is not necessary for virtue to happen. Isnt that amazing? It’s true. One would never know this fact from reading about how we need to reject Gnosticism and Post Modernism and get our dictionary definition of marriage just right in order for virtue to prevail in the USA.

    So what is it that Christ and the Holy Spirit are needed for if not for any of this?

    THAT is the question the Lutheran church exists to answer.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Stephen (@206), I noticed that, too.

    Don (@197), how, exactly does one do “more yielding to the Holy Spirit” without “more willpower”?

    And, along with FWS (@204), I would like to know what, exactly, FWS wrote that “doesn’t square with what Paul wrote” (@200).

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Stephen (@206), I noticed that, too.

    Don (@197), how, exactly does one do “more yielding to the Holy Spirit” without “more willpower”?

    And, along with FWS (@204), I would like to know what, exactly, FWS wrote that “doesn’t square with what Paul wrote” (@200).

  • DonS

    Frank, I don’t have time today to further engage in this conversation with you. I don’t speak “Lutheran” and I don’t understand what you are saying. Romans 6-8 pretty clearly sets forth my theology on the issue of the Christian life. I am not Aristotelian because Aristotle didn’t have the Holy Spirit. Whatever he did, he did in his own strength, which is impossible, because we are in the flesh. Fortunately, as Paul states, as new creatures in Christ we now have the Holy Spirit, which sets up the war within us between the old and new natures. What Paul warns against in this passage is continuing in sin, so that grace may abound, i.e. yielding the the old nature and its fleshly desires. Yes, we continue to sin, because of our fleshly natures, but we no longer revel in it, because of Christ. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to live in the Spirit, rather than the flesh. It’s all God, not us.

    That is all.

  • DonS

    Frank, I don’t have time today to further engage in this conversation with you. I don’t speak “Lutheran” and I don’t understand what you are saying. Romans 6-8 pretty clearly sets forth my theology on the issue of the Christian life. I am not Aristotelian because Aristotle didn’t have the Holy Spirit. Whatever he did, he did in his own strength, which is impossible, because we are in the flesh. Fortunately, as Paul states, as new creatures in Christ we now have the Holy Spirit, which sets up the war within us between the old and new natures. What Paul warns against in this passage is continuing in sin, so that grace may abound, i.e. yielding the the old nature and its fleshly desires. Yes, we continue to sin, because of our fleshly natures, but we no longer revel in it, because of Christ. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to live in the Spirit, rather than the flesh. It’s all God, not us.

    That is all.

  • fws

    don @210

    Aw. You punted Don!
    You said that what I stated disagreed with St Paul.
    There was nothing I said that even a pagan could not have understood so that “I dont speak lutheran” is a dodge.

    You are better than that Don.
    Let’s have an honest conversation. Don’t duck and run.

  • fws

    don @210

    Aw. You punted Don!
    You said that what I stated disagreed with St Paul.
    There was nothing I said that even a pagan could not have understood so that “I dont speak lutheran” is a dodge.

    You are better than that Don.
    Let’s have an honest conversation. Don’t duck and run.

  • DonS

    Frank, you punted. You accused me of being Aristotelian, even though you knew full well that I am not talking about doing anything in our own strength, but in the strength of the Holy Spirit. An honest conversation will be entirely based in Scripture, which is our common ground, not in the Confessions, which were written by man.

  • DonS

    Frank, you punted. You accused me of being Aristotelian, even though you knew full well that I am not talking about doing anything in our own strength, but in the strength of the Holy Spirit. An honest conversation will be entirely based in Scripture, which is our common ground, not in the Confessions, which were written by man.

  • Stephen

    That’s two punts. Is that allowed?

  • Stephen

    That’s two punts. Is that allowed?

  • DonS

    Stephen, it is certainly never a good idea, if your purpose is to have a sincere theological conversation with a fellow Christian, to start off by accusing him of being a pagan.

    That kind of kills the conversation. As does my workload today.

  • DonS

    Stephen, it is certainly never a good idea, if your purpose is to have a sincere theological conversation with a fellow Christian, to start off by accusing him of being a pagan.

    That kind of kills the conversation. As does my workload today.

  • fws

    don @ 200

    “Frank, I read what you wrote. It doesn’t square with what Paul wrote. I’m going with Paul on this one.”

    You refuse to show me that anything I wrote does not square with St Paul.
    Excuse me for not being clear as to where you fled from our discussion and punted.
    I hope this clarifies the fact that you did, in fact, punt.

  • fws

    don @ 200

    “Frank, I read what you wrote. It doesn’t square with what Paul wrote. I’m going with Paul on this one.”

    You refuse to show me that anything I wrote does not square with St Paul.
    Excuse me for not being clear as to where you fled from our discussion and punted.
    I hope this clarifies the fact that you did, in fact, punt.

  • DonS

    You joined the conversation late, Frank. I clearly explained my position in comments above. I’m not going to re-hash them again here.

  • DonS

    You joined the conversation late, Frank. I clearly explained my position in comments above. I’m not going to re-hash them again here.

  • Stephen

    DonS

    Insert “Family Values” or “7 Habits” or some other form of virtue that you are familiar with (William Bennett’s “Book of Virtues” would be perfect, without the gambling of course). Essentially the same thing as Aristotle. Earthly righteousness that can be DONE, like the young man who tells Jesus “All these things I have DONE.” And then Jesus tells him he lacks one thing. What was that one thing he lacked, a more extreme version of virtue, giving up everything, for instance? That is only a way for Jesus to point that he lacks FAITH. Faith is to give up EVERYTHING, absolutely, to follow (trust) in Christ ALONE. This is what none of us can do. Christ IS our righteousness. He does not just do the law. He is the fulfillment on it. And his righteousness is ours, not through more doing, but through faith alone in Him and what he has done.

    That is scripture. That is not Lutheran-speak.

  • Stephen

    DonS

    Insert “Family Values” or “7 Habits” or some other form of virtue that you are familiar with (William Bennett’s “Book of Virtues” would be perfect, without the gambling of course). Essentially the same thing as Aristotle. Earthly righteousness that can be DONE, like the young man who tells Jesus “All these things I have DONE.” And then Jesus tells him he lacks one thing. What was that one thing he lacked, a more extreme version of virtue, giving up everything, for instance? That is only a way for Jesus to point that he lacks FAITH. Faith is to give up EVERYTHING, absolutely, to follow (trust) in Christ ALONE. This is what none of us can do. Christ IS our righteousness. He does not just do the law. He is the fulfillment on it. And his righteousness is ours, not through more doing, but through faith alone in Him and what he has done.

    That is scripture. That is not Lutheran-speak.

  • DonS

    Stephen, you are talking about salvation. The issue is the Christian life, after salvation. Paul says we have the power, through the Holy Spirit, to live in the Spirit, rather than in the flesh.

  • DonS

    Stephen, you are talking about salvation. The issue is the Christian life, after salvation. Paul says we have the power, through the Holy Spirit, to live in the Spirit, rather than in the flesh.

  • Stephen

    DonS @ 214

    Oh Don. There’s you go again, acting all insulted. He isn’t insulting you or calling you a pagan. He’s pointing out that your view of what the law is is no different in any measurable, recognizable way than a whole lot of other versions of earthly righteousness out there. Aristotle is just a very fine example of what kind of virtue is available to Reason. But like I said, not really any different than a whole host of other attempts at doing what is right and seeking to be virtuous.

  • Stephen

    DonS @ 214

    Oh Don. There’s you go again, acting all insulted. He isn’t insulting you or calling you a pagan. He’s pointing out that your view of what the law is is no different in any measurable, recognizable way than a whole lot of other versions of earthly righteousness out there. Aristotle is just a very fine example of what kind of virtue is available to Reason. But like I said, not really any different than a whole host of other attempts at doing what is right and seeking to be virtuous.

  • Stephen

    DonS @ 218

    That is a dispensational statement, and we are now back to talking past each other.

  • Stephen

    DonS @ 218

    That is a dispensational statement, and we are now back to talking past each other.

  • Stephen

    And for what it’s worth, I’m trying to keep it light on purpose. It’s not working. I should have put in some emoticons to indicate sarcasm. Sorry Don.

  • Stephen

    And for what it’s worth, I’m trying to keep it light on purpose. It’s not working. I should have put in some emoticons to indicate sarcasm. Sorry Don.

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 219, 220 — He was ignoring the power of the Holy Spirit in likening my theology to that of Aristotle’s fleshly philosophy. Do you not understand that we live in the Spirit? That is basic, fundamental Christianity.

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 219, 220 — He was ignoring the power of the Holy Spirit in likening my theology to that of Aristotle’s fleshly philosophy. Do you not understand that we live in the Spirit? That is basic, fundamental Christianity.

  • Stephen

    DonS

    What does living in the Spirit look like to you?

  • Stephen

    DonS

    What does living in the Spirit look like to you?

  • DonS

    It looks like Romans 8, Stephen. What does it look like to you?

  • DonS

    It looks like Romans 8, Stephen. What does it look like to you?

  • Stephen

    Faith alone in Christ.

  • Stephen

    Faith alone in Christ.

  • Stephen

    That’s alone, as in alone.

  • Stephen

    That’s alone, as in alone.

  • Stephen

    ;)

  • Stephen

    ;)

  • DonS

    Yes, Stephen. Of course, that is our basis for salvation, and the fundamental for our Christian faith. Romans 8 is the context for how that looks.

  • DonS

    Yes, Stephen. Of course, that is our basis for salvation, and the fundamental for our Christian faith. Romans 8 is the context for how that looks.

  • fws

    Don @ 264

    don i responded to you post @ 216.
    I read the exchanges here completely

    I

  • fws

    Don @ 264

    don i responded to you post @ 216.
    I read the exchanges here completely

    I

  • DonS

    Frank, if that is the case then you shouldn’t need to ask me to re-hash my views. Read Romans 8 again and you will understand.

  • DonS

    Frank, if that is the case then you shouldn’t need to ask me to re-hash my views. Read Romans 8 again and you will understand.

  • Grace

    For those who aren’t looking at the Word of God, but depending on the B of C. Here is Romans chapter 8, you can look the rest of the passage up in your Bible.

    1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

    2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

    3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

    4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

    5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

    6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

    7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

    8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

    9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

    10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

    11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

    12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.

    13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

    14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

    15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

    16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

    17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

    18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

    19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.

    20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,

    21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

    22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

    23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

    24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?

    25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

    26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

    27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

    28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
    Romans 8

  • Grace

    For those who aren’t looking at the Word of God, but depending on the B of C. Here is Romans chapter 8, you can look the rest of the passage up in your Bible.

    1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

    2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

    3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

    4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

    5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

    6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

    7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

    8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

    9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

    10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

    11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

    12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.

    13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

    14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

    15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

    16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

    17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

    18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

    19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.

    20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,

    21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

    22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

    23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

    24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?

    25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

    26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

    27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

    28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
    Romans 8

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

    Sg, if there are Christian high schools and universities with a creation science curriculm, then it is not really a surprise to find geologists with Phds who are dyed in the wool creationists.
    And if public education is as bad as you imply, then not a lot has been “fixed” has it.

    Well, these guys went to state schools not Christian schools. So, their ideas came from home not the universities.

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

    Sg, if there are Christian high schools and universities with a creation science curriculm, then it is not really a surprise to find geologists with Phds who are dyed in the wool creationists.
    And if public education is as bad as you imply, then not a lot has been “fixed” has it.

    Well, these guys went to state schools not Christian schools. So, their ideas came from home not the universities.

  • WebMonk

    DonS, give it up. You’ll never satisfy people like Frank. My revelation to this fact came about two years ago when I copy-pasted something a Lutheran (I think Bror?) had said in another thread, and made it my reply to Frank. I was completely wrong, promoting works, denying Grace, conflating Law and Grace, etc. The whole nine yards. I haven’t bothered seriously talking theology with some Lutherans on here since.

    For some, if you’re not a Lutheran, you’re Wrong ™.

  • WebMonk

    DonS, give it up. You’ll never satisfy people like Frank. My revelation to this fact came about two years ago when I copy-pasted something a Lutheran (I think Bror?) had said in another thread, and made it my reply to Frank. I was completely wrong, promoting works, denying Grace, conflating Law and Grace, etc. The whole nine yards. I haven’t bothered seriously talking theology with some Lutherans on here since.

    For some, if you’re not a Lutheran, you’re Wrong ™.

  • DonS

    Haha, Webmonk @ 233. Yeah, I know. I’ve also stopped engaging Frank, generally, on these issues, because he goes off on incredible tangents and never wants to talk Scripture. It’s all about your trademarked phrase :-)

    But, heck, Paul’s explanation about living in the Spirit is so fundamental to Christianity, I really didn’t expect a controversy on that. And I certainly didn’t expect him to equate Romans 8 to Aristotle. I never cease to be amazed.

  • DonS

    Haha, Webmonk @ 233. Yeah, I know. I’ve also stopped engaging Frank, generally, on these issues, because he goes off on incredible tangents and never wants to talk Scripture. It’s all about your trademarked phrase :-)

    But, heck, Paul’s explanation about living in the Spirit is so fundamental to Christianity, I really didn’t expect a controversy on that. And I certainly didn’t expect him to equate Romans 8 to Aristotle. I never cease to be amazed.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    DonS, I know Frank comes across as long-winded, but here is a summation of what you appear to be saying: It sounds as if you are thinking of Christianity, of Christ’s sacrifice, as a gateway to better law-keeping. Which it most emphatically is not.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    DonS, I know Frank comes across as long-winded, but here is a summation of what you appear to be saying: It sounds as if you are thinking of Christianity, of Christ’s sacrifice, as a gateway to better law-keeping. Which it most emphatically is not.

  • DonS

    It’s not just long-winded, Klasie, it’s about avoiding Scripture. All I’m talking about is Romans 8. Faith in Christ alone means believing His promises, and the Christian life is about living in the Spirit, rather than in the flesh, as Paul says in Romans 8. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with better law-keeping. It’s merely better obedience, because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Read the book of Romans, especially chapters 6-8, to understand the power we have in Christ, through the Holy Spirit. Don’t miss that power in your life.

  • DonS

    It’s not just long-winded, Klasie, it’s about avoiding Scripture. All I’m talking about is Romans 8. Faith in Christ alone means believing His promises, and the Christian life is about living in the Spirit, rather than in the flesh, as Paul says in Romans 8. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with better law-keeping. It’s merely better obedience, because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Read the book of Romans, especially chapters 6-8, to understand the power we have in Christ, through the Holy Spirit. Don’t miss that power in your life.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    DonS – did you read what you said? Not better law-keeping, merely better obedience?

    Tomato, tomahto?

    “All our righteousness is as filthy rags…”

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    DonS – did you read what you said? Not better law-keeping, merely better obedience?

    Tomato, tomahto?

    “All our righteousness is as filthy rags…”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    One of the problems I’ve noticed with people who come from “just me and my Bible”-type churches (and it should be obvious I’m specifically talking about Calvary Chapel here) is that they’re frequently not very good at explaining what they believe.

    The later comments in this thread (especially @230, 231) exemplify this best. Both DonS and Grace seem to think that, in order to explain what they believe, they just have to say something like, “Read Romans 8 again and you will understand.”

    What they don’t seem to understand is that Lutherans also have Romans 8 in their Bibles, too. And what’s more, we read it and we agree with it!

    Ah, but the “just me and my Bible” types are, it would seem, afraid of being accused of depending on the opinions of men, of saying something extra-scriptural. Or something like that, because they really do seem to have a difficult time in explaining what they think a passage means.

    “Just read it!”
    “I have read it, and I still disagree with you — not with the passage. What do you think it means?”
    “Just read it!”
    “Again, I have read it…”

    And so on.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    One of the problems I’ve noticed with people who come from “just me and my Bible”-type churches (and it should be obvious I’m specifically talking about Calvary Chapel here) is that they’re frequently not very good at explaining what they believe.

    The later comments in this thread (especially @230, 231) exemplify this best. Both DonS and Grace seem to think that, in order to explain what they believe, they just have to say something like, “Read Romans 8 again and you will understand.”

    What they don’t seem to understand is that Lutherans also have Romans 8 in their Bibles, too. And what’s more, we read it and we agree with it!

    Ah, but the “just me and my Bible” types are, it would seem, afraid of being accused of depending on the opinions of men, of saying something extra-scriptural. Or something like that, because they really do seem to have a difficult time in explaining what they think a passage means.

    “Just read it!”
    “I have read it, and I still disagree with you — not with the passage. What do you think it means?”
    “Just read it!”
    “Again, I have read it…”

    And so on.

  • DonS

    Klasie, are you equating the obedience of the New Testament with the lawkeeping of the Old Testament and the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ time? And are you still so confused that you are mistaking Paul’s exhortations regarding living in the Spirit with self-righteousness?

    Let’s backtrack a bit, for the purpose of clarity and understanding. Hopefully, you went back and read Romans 6-8 so that you understand the context of our discussion. Generally speaking, the lawkeeping of the Old Testament was an effort at “measuring up” to God’s standards on human terms. The law was something to be feared, because it represented judgment and conviction. Paul explained this judgment in Romans 2:12: “For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law; and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law”. Rom. 3:23, of course, is the low point — “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. But Paul goes on, beyond chapter 3, explaining in chapter 4 that Abraham’s faith, not his works, justified him and that this same justification is extended to all of us through faith “in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead” (Rom. 4:24).

    In Romans 5, Paul moves on to the Christian life. Rom. 5:1 says that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ because of our justification. Chapter 6 explains that we are dead to sin because we “walk in newness of life” v. 4. Verses 12 and 13 say that we are not to “let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”

    Check out verses 17-19:

    But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.”

    Rom. 7:6 — we have been released from the law, having died by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. This is key, my friend. We no longer serve in the letter of the law, but in the newness of the Spirit!

    Paul says in Rom. 7:22 that he loves the law. Why? Because it is no longer a means of condemnation, thanks to Christ, but rather a means of obedience — an opportunity to serve Christ in the Spirit. I John 5:3 says “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome”. Huh? Not burdensome? How can that be??? Well, of course, it is because we now live in the Spirit, and the law is a delight.

    Don’t miss that, Klasie. The joy of the Lord is in the very recognition that it is most certainly not about us and our filthy righteousness. It is all about Christ and His willingness to empower us to live in His strength, not ours.

  • DonS

    Klasie, are you equating the obedience of the New Testament with the lawkeeping of the Old Testament and the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ time? And are you still so confused that you are mistaking Paul’s exhortations regarding living in the Spirit with self-righteousness?

    Let’s backtrack a bit, for the purpose of clarity and understanding. Hopefully, you went back and read Romans 6-8 so that you understand the context of our discussion. Generally speaking, the lawkeeping of the Old Testament was an effort at “measuring up” to God’s standards on human terms. The law was something to be feared, because it represented judgment and conviction. Paul explained this judgment in Romans 2:12: “For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law; and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law”. Rom. 3:23, of course, is the low point — “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. But Paul goes on, beyond chapter 3, explaining in chapter 4 that Abraham’s faith, not his works, justified him and that this same justification is extended to all of us through faith “in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead” (Rom. 4:24).

    In Romans 5, Paul moves on to the Christian life. Rom. 5:1 says that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ because of our justification. Chapter 6 explains that we are dead to sin because we “walk in newness of life” v. 4. Verses 12 and 13 say that we are not to “let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”

    Check out verses 17-19:

    But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.”

    Rom. 7:6 — we have been released from the law, having died by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. This is key, my friend. We no longer serve in the letter of the law, but in the newness of the Spirit!

    Paul says in Rom. 7:22 that he loves the law. Why? Because it is no longer a means of condemnation, thanks to Christ, but rather a means of obedience — an opportunity to serve Christ in the Spirit. I John 5:3 says “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome”. Huh? Not burdensome? How can that be??? Well, of course, it is because we now live in the Spirit, and the law is a delight.

    Don’t miss that, Klasie. The joy of the Lord is in the very recognition that it is most certainly not about us and our filthy righteousness. It is all about Christ and His willingness to empower us to live in His strength, not ours.

  • DonS

    Oops. Sorry about not closing out the blockquote. It should have been closed out before “Romans 7:6″.

  • DonS

    Oops. Sorry about not closing out the blockquote. It should have been closed out before “Romans 7:6″.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS said (@218):

    Stephen, you are talking about salvation. The issue is the Christian life, after salvation.

    I suppose this is the part where God says to us, “…But what have you done for me, lately?” Some Christians always appear to be eager to move on beyond salvation. “Yes, yes, Jesus, forgiveness, all that. But let’s talk about how obedient I am now that I’m a Christian.” Or, you know, that’s how it sounds to this Lutheran.

    You exhort us (again and again) to read Romans, but you don’t want to say (again?) what it means. So I’ll tell you what verses I think you’re missing:

    6:3ff: “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” It’s a slightly different point, but I’m willing to bet the “just read it” crowd doesn’t just read that passage as written.

    6:14: “For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” A point Paul repeats later. And yet, what I hear from you, Don, is that we are still under law … only we’re really good at obeying it in the flesh now that we’re Christians. More on that later. Still, I ask you: what does it mean to be under grace? What does grace have to do with obedience?

    7:6: “But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” And yet, I hear you once again urging obedience on us. That certainly sounds like the old way of the written code, not any “new way”. What do you think the “new way of the Spirit” is, Don?

    And then there’s the rather massive section starting at 7:14 and going to the end of the chapter that seems to massively contradict what you want us to see in Romans 6-8. For here, Paul tells us, in the present tense, about the failings of his flesh. You won’t find much evidence of “better obedience” here. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. … As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” And so on. “Better obedience”? Doesn’t sound like it. Sounds like this: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” But then Paul does that thing that Evangelicals seem loathe to do: he points us to Jesus, yes, even after becoming a Christian!

    You apparently read Romans 8 and see a dichotomy between obedience and not-obedience. But Romans 8 follows Romans 7, and in Romans 7, Paul tells us all about his not-obedience. You think living in accordance with the Spirit means obeying the old way of the written code. But Romans 7 is a problem, then.

    No, go back to the beginning of Romans 6, and you’ll see where this new life starts: in baptism, by faith. Now you read Romans 6-8 in that light, not as a contrast between those who obey in the flesh and those who do not, but between those who have faith, and those who do not.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS said (@218):

    Stephen, you are talking about salvation. The issue is the Christian life, after salvation.

    I suppose this is the part where God says to us, “…But what have you done for me, lately?” Some Christians always appear to be eager to move on beyond salvation. “Yes, yes, Jesus, forgiveness, all that. But let’s talk about how obedient I am now that I’m a Christian.” Or, you know, that’s how it sounds to this Lutheran.

    You exhort us (again and again) to read Romans, but you don’t want to say (again?) what it means. So I’ll tell you what verses I think you’re missing:

    6:3ff: “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” It’s a slightly different point, but I’m willing to bet the “just read it” crowd doesn’t just read that passage as written.

    6:14: “For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” A point Paul repeats later. And yet, what I hear from you, Don, is that we are still under law … only we’re really good at obeying it in the flesh now that we’re Christians. More on that later. Still, I ask you: what does it mean to be under grace? What does grace have to do with obedience?

    7:6: “But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” And yet, I hear you once again urging obedience on us. That certainly sounds like the old way of the written code, not any “new way”. What do you think the “new way of the Spirit” is, Don?

    And then there’s the rather massive section starting at 7:14 and going to the end of the chapter that seems to massively contradict what you want us to see in Romans 6-8. For here, Paul tells us, in the present tense, about the failings of his flesh. You won’t find much evidence of “better obedience” here. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. … As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” And so on. “Better obedience”? Doesn’t sound like it. Sounds like this: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” But then Paul does that thing that Evangelicals seem loathe to do: he points us to Jesus, yes, even after becoming a Christian!

    You apparently read Romans 8 and see a dichotomy between obedience and not-obedience. But Romans 8 follows Romans 7, and in Romans 7, Paul tells us all about his not-obedience. You think living in accordance with the Spirit means obeying the old way of the written code. But Romans 7 is a problem, then.

    No, go back to the beginning of Romans 6, and you’ll see where this new life starts: in baptism, by faith. Now you read Romans 6-8 in that light, not as a contrast between those who obey in the flesh and those who do not, but between those who have faith, and those who do not.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 241:

    I suppose this is the part where God says to us, “…But what have you done for me, lately?” Some Christians always appear to be eager to move on beyond salvation. “Yes, yes, Jesus, forgiveness, all that. But let’s talk about how obedient I am now that I’m a Christian.” Or, you know, that’s how it sounds to this Lutheran.

    tODD, it’s not about what we have done. AT ALL. It’s about what Christ does through us. That is the entire point. Salvation through Christ alone and His sacrifice is the root of this change from being slaves to sin to being, as Paul puts it “slaves to righteousness”. You’re missing the point if you consider the focus to be on us at all. It’s entirely on Christ.

    6:3ff: “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” It’s a slightly different point, but I’m willing to bet the “just read it” crowd doesn’t just read that passage as written.

    This passage is key — our justification in Christ is the foundation to the ability He gives us to live a new life. I read it exactly as written.

    6:14: “For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” A point Paul repeats later. And yet, what I hear from you, Don, is that we are still under law … only we’re really good at obeying it in the flesh now that we’re Christians. More on that later. Still, I ask you: what does it mean to be under grace? What does grace have to do with obedience?

    No! Wrong! I am IN NO WAY saying that we are still under law. @239 I quoted Romans 7:6 to that very point — emphasizing that we have been released from the law by our salvation. And where in the heck did you get that I am saying “we’re really good at obeying it in the flesh”? Did you read anything I wrote in the comments above? I feel like we are going in circles — I have said again and again that Paul says we DO NOT live in the flesh but in the Spirit, thanks to Christ. Come on, tODD. You ask what does living under grace have to do with obedience? Well, let’s first understand that both Paul and John, in the passages I quoted, speak of obedience, in the sense that we obey Christ because we love Him, and we are empowered to obey Him by the Holy Spirit. That’s Scripture. Paul says that, though we are under grace, we are still to obey Him rather than continuing in sin. So, if you are arguing that you don’t have to obey Him because you are under grace, what you are arguing does not square with Scripture. What being under grace does mean is that our sins are forgiven. We are saved, no matter what we do — obedience is something we do because we love Him and want to serve Him in that way — to have a fulfilling and purposeful life in Him — to be a slave to righteousness rather than sin.

    7:6: “But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” And yet, I hear you once again urging obedience on us. That certainly sounds like the old way of the written code, not any “new way”. What do you think the “new way of the Spirit” is, Don?

    It’s kind of funny that you keep saying that I am urging obedience, when I am merely quoting Paul and John. It’s right there in Scripture, tODD. I’m just quoting it. The old way was the “lawkeeping” Stephen spoke of earlier — keeping the letter of the law in the flesh. An impossible task, which is why we all fall short and are all, absent salvation, doomed to death. The new way is to live in the power of the Spirit, slaves of righteousness, rather than of sin. We hated the law in our flesh, because it condemned us. Now, we are not under the law, and it cannot condemn us. We love it, as Paul did, now, because we seek righteousness in the Spirit. By seeking righteousness, through Christ’s power, we mortify the old Adam, the flesh — our love for Christ, because He first loved us, is the source of our desire to obey Him (I John 5:3). That is, most certainly, the new way.

    The so-called “massive section” at 7:14 in no way contradicts what I am saying here. Our life in Christ is not triumphal, in the sense that sin is conquered in our life. We still sin, and always will. We will war between our members our entire lives — our fleshly old Adam will always wish to re-assert itself and make us slaves to sin again. This is the battle of which Paul speaks — the warring natures of the saved man. But what Paul is setting up with that passage is Romans 8. While our old nature remains, and causes conflict in our lives, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. He has set us free from the law of sin and of death. In verse 9 he says that we are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. If Christ is in us, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness (v. 10). The Spirit delivers us from the power of the flesh, mortifying the flesh (v. 13). Our final victory is assured in the Spirit (v. 31-39).

    “But then Paul does that thing that Evangelicals seem loathe to do: he points us to Jesus, yes, even after becoming a Christian!” I am most certainly not loathe to point to or be pointed to Jesus. That is the whole point — we have victory in Christ.

    You apparently read Romans 8 and see a dichotomy between obedience and not-obedience. But Romans 8 follows Romans 7, and in Romans 7, Paul tells us all about his not-obedience. You think living in accordance with the Spirit means obeying the old way of the written code. But Romans 7 is a problem, then.

    No, go back to the beginning of Romans 6, and you’ll see where this new life starts: in baptism, by faith. Now you read Romans 6-8 in that light, not as a contrast between those who obey in the flesh and those who do not, but between those who have faith, and those who do not.

    No, no, no. Nothing about this passage is a dichotomy between obedience and non-obedience. It’s not about us at all, tODD. It’s about Christ, and His work in us — the victory He gives us to escape our fleshly slavery to sin. That is the message here. Paul and John speak of obedience, not me. If you don’t like the notion of obedience in the Christian life, your quarrel is with them, not me. Paul’s confession of his own struggles in this area of his life emphasize that we are not talking about condemnation here, and that he wants us to understand that it’s hard. But that obedience is an act of love, in the power of Christ, not having anything to do with judgement or perfection.

    It is most certainly all about faith. On this, you and I definitely agree.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 241:

    I suppose this is the part where God says to us, “…But what have you done for me, lately?” Some Christians always appear to be eager to move on beyond salvation. “Yes, yes, Jesus, forgiveness, all that. But let’s talk about how obedient I am now that I’m a Christian.” Or, you know, that’s how it sounds to this Lutheran.

    tODD, it’s not about what we have done. AT ALL. It’s about what Christ does through us. That is the entire point. Salvation through Christ alone and His sacrifice is the root of this change from being slaves to sin to being, as Paul puts it “slaves to righteousness”. You’re missing the point if you consider the focus to be on us at all. It’s entirely on Christ.

    6:3ff: “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” It’s a slightly different point, but I’m willing to bet the “just read it” crowd doesn’t just read that passage as written.

    This passage is key — our justification in Christ is the foundation to the ability He gives us to live a new life. I read it exactly as written.

    6:14: “For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” A point Paul repeats later. And yet, what I hear from you, Don, is that we are still under law … only we’re really good at obeying it in the flesh now that we’re Christians. More on that later. Still, I ask you: what does it mean to be under grace? What does grace have to do with obedience?

    No! Wrong! I am IN NO WAY saying that we are still under law. @239 I quoted Romans 7:6 to that very point — emphasizing that we have been released from the law by our salvation. And where in the heck did you get that I am saying “we’re really good at obeying it in the flesh”? Did you read anything I wrote in the comments above? I feel like we are going in circles — I have said again and again that Paul says we DO NOT live in the flesh but in the Spirit, thanks to Christ. Come on, tODD. You ask what does living under grace have to do with obedience? Well, let’s first understand that both Paul and John, in the passages I quoted, speak of obedience, in the sense that we obey Christ because we love Him, and we are empowered to obey Him by the Holy Spirit. That’s Scripture. Paul says that, though we are under grace, we are still to obey Him rather than continuing in sin. So, if you are arguing that you don’t have to obey Him because you are under grace, what you are arguing does not square with Scripture. What being under grace does mean is that our sins are forgiven. We are saved, no matter what we do — obedience is something we do because we love Him and want to serve Him in that way — to have a fulfilling and purposeful life in Him — to be a slave to righteousness rather than sin.

    7:6: “But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” And yet, I hear you once again urging obedience on us. That certainly sounds like the old way of the written code, not any “new way”. What do you think the “new way of the Spirit” is, Don?

    It’s kind of funny that you keep saying that I am urging obedience, when I am merely quoting Paul and John. It’s right there in Scripture, tODD. I’m just quoting it. The old way was the “lawkeeping” Stephen spoke of earlier — keeping the letter of the law in the flesh. An impossible task, which is why we all fall short and are all, absent salvation, doomed to death. The new way is to live in the power of the Spirit, slaves of righteousness, rather than of sin. We hated the law in our flesh, because it condemned us. Now, we are not under the law, and it cannot condemn us. We love it, as Paul did, now, because we seek righteousness in the Spirit. By seeking righteousness, through Christ’s power, we mortify the old Adam, the flesh — our love for Christ, because He first loved us, is the source of our desire to obey Him (I John 5:3). That is, most certainly, the new way.

    The so-called “massive section” at 7:14 in no way contradicts what I am saying here. Our life in Christ is not triumphal, in the sense that sin is conquered in our life. We still sin, and always will. We will war between our members our entire lives — our fleshly old Adam will always wish to re-assert itself and make us slaves to sin again. This is the battle of which Paul speaks — the warring natures of the saved man. But what Paul is setting up with that passage is Romans 8. While our old nature remains, and causes conflict in our lives, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. He has set us free from the law of sin and of death. In verse 9 he says that we are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. If Christ is in us, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness (v. 10). The Spirit delivers us from the power of the flesh, mortifying the flesh (v. 13). Our final victory is assured in the Spirit (v. 31-39).

    “But then Paul does that thing that Evangelicals seem loathe to do: he points us to Jesus, yes, even after becoming a Christian!” I am most certainly not loathe to point to or be pointed to Jesus. That is the whole point — we have victory in Christ.

    You apparently read Romans 8 and see a dichotomy between obedience and not-obedience. But Romans 8 follows Romans 7, and in Romans 7, Paul tells us all about his not-obedience. You think living in accordance with the Spirit means obeying the old way of the written code. But Romans 7 is a problem, then.

    No, go back to the beginning of Romans 6, and you’ll see where this new life starts: in baptism, by faith. Now you read Romans 6-8 in that light, not as a contrast between those who obey in the flesh and those who do not, but between those who have faith, and those who do not.

    No, no, no. Nothing about this passage is a dichotomy between obedience and non-obedience. It’s not about us at all, tODD. It’s about Christ, and His work in us — the victory He gives us to escape our fleshly slavery to sin. That is the message here. Paul and John speak of obedience, not me. If you don’t like the notion of obedience in the Christian life, your quarrel is with them, not me. Paul’s confession of his own struggles in this area of his life emphasize that we are not talking about condemnation here, and that he wants us to understand that it’s hard. But that obedience is an act of love, in the power of Christ, not having anything to do with judgement or perfection.

    It is most certainly all about faith. On this, you and I definitely agree.

  • fws

    Don @ 242

    Can we please stick to what you attempted to do in your post @164?
    http://www.geneveith.com/2012/07/18/atheists-sexual-harassment-problem/#comment-157268

    I would suggest there that you were more lucid and perceptive than the Lutherans in that post. Why? You identified what you perceived to be a difference.

    That difference is where? Faith and grace? not exactly. It is in a different view of the words “sin ” and “grace”. What Christ saved us from. If we don’t share a common definition there (and we most certainly don’t!) , Then we can talk about faith and grace and just keep on talking past one another Don!
    Why? What Christ saved us from will be quite different!

    Here is the definition of “sin” in Romans, that you simply cannot accept Don:

    SIN in the Scriptures means not only external works of the body but also all those movements within us which bestir themselves and move us to do the external works, namely, the depth of the heart with all its powers.

    Therefore the word DO should refer to a person’s completely falling into sin.

    No external work of sin happens, after all, unless a person commit himself to it completely, body and soul.

    In particular, the Scriptures see into the heart, to the root and main source of all sin: unbelief in the depth of the heart.

    Thus, even as faith alone makes just and brings the Spirit and the desire to do good external works, so it is only unbelief which sins and exalts the flesh and brings desire to do evil external works. That’s what happened to Adam and Eve in Paradise (cf. Genesis 3).

    So how do you deny this? You do so this way. And many Lutherans do this as well. You are not alone in your error:

    You create some false distinction between “willful sinning” as opposed to…. what? This is to return to the Thomist Roman categories of “mortal” sin vs “venial” sinning. This is a distinction without a difference!

    Therefore: ALL you can see and do Don are things that also Aristotle could see and do. In ALL you can see and do Don, you are NO different than any pagan or fake christian. Period.

    Are you to seek after virtue? Of course! God commands ALL men to do this. Only the Law in your conscience and moses or aristotle or buddha or (small c) christ as example are needed for this. No Christ or Holy Spirit are needed to do this obedience.

    Tell me ONE thing you can do, in thought word or deed, that is proof of a “better Spirit driven ” obedience. Just. One. Thing.

  • fws

    Don @ 242

    Can we please stick to what you attempted to do in your post @164?
    http://www.geneveith.com/2012/07/18/atheists-sexual-harassment-problem/#comment-157268

    I would suggest there that you were more lucid and perceptive than the Lutherans in that post. Why? You identified what you perceived to be a difference.

    That difference is where? Faith and grace? not exactly. It is in a different view of the words “sin ” and “grace”. What Christ saved us from. If we don’t share a common definition there (and we most certainly don’t!) , Then we can talk about faith and grace and just keep on talking past one another Don!
    Why? What Christ saved us from will be quite different!

    Here is the definition of “sin” in Romans, that you simply cannot accept Don:

    SIN in the Scriptures means not only external works of the body but also all those movements within us which bestir themselves and move us to do the external works, namely, the depth of the heart with all its powers.

    Therefore the word DO should refer to a person’s completely falling into sin.

    No external work of sin happens, after all, unless a person commit himself to it completely, body and soul.

    In particular, the Scriptures see into the heart, to the root and main source of all sin: unbelief in the depth of the heart.

    Thus, even as faith alone makes just and brings the Spirit and the desire to do good external works, so it is only unbelief which sins and exalts the flesh and brings desire to do evil external works. That’s what happened to Adam and Eve in Paradise (cf. Genesis 3).

    So how do you deny this? You do so this way. And many Lutherans do this as well. You are not alone in your error:

    You create some false distinction between “willful sinning” as opposed to…. what? This is to return to the Thomist Roman categories of “mortal” sin vs “venial” sinning. This is a distinction without a difference!

    Therefore: ALL you can see and do Don are things that also Aristotle could see and do. In ALL you can see and do Don, you are NO different than any pagan or fake christian. Period.

    Are you to seek after virtue? Of course! God commands ALL men to do this. Only the Law in your conscience and moses or aristotle or buddha or (small c) christ as example are needed for this. No Christ or Holy Spirit are needed to do this obedience.

    Tell me ONE thing you can do, in thought word or deed, that is proof of a “better Spirit driven ” obedience. Just. One. Thing.

  • Stephen

    DonS

    If we are no longer under condemnation, then what is the spirit-fueled righteousness seeking you are still after? What righteousness do you still need? Is it different from the righteousness of faith?

  • Stephen

    DonS

    If we are no longer under condemnation, then what is the spirit-fueled righteousness seeking you are still after? What righteousness do you still need? Is it different from the righteousness of faith?

  • fws

    Fpr the Lutherans here:
    http://www.ccel.org/l/luther/romans/pref_romans.html

    Don, WebMonk, Grace:

    We need to stick to Don’s Post @ 164
    We Lutherans completely , and I do mean completely, disagree with you as to the defintions of the words “sin” and “law.”

    And so therefore, Don is right. We will continue to talk right past each other by focussing on those words “grace” and “faith” and even “alone”.

    If we don’t first agree on the beginning, what Christ saved us from, then this is like shooting for the Moon and starting off with one small fraction of one degree of error at the beginning of our calculations.

    We will miss that lunar landing in a huge way.

    And I did use scripture. “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin”. And explained what I intended by using that passage. I don’t need to quote long passages as Grace does. I know you have Bibles and have read the same passages I have. The difference is our regulating principles for interpreting those passages eh?

    So Webmonk. In your judgement of me and your dismissal of me, you have 4 fingers pointing right back at you dear friend.

  • fws

    Fpr the Lutherans here:
    http://www.ccel.org/l/luther/romans/pref_romans.html

    Don, WebMonk, Grace:

    We need to stick to Don’s Post @ 164
    We Lutherans completely , and I do mean completely, disagree with you as to the defintions of the words “sin” and “law.”

    And so therefore, Don is right. We will continue to talk right past each other by focussing on those words “grace” and “faith” and even “alone”.

    If we don’t first agree on the beginning, what Christ saved us from, then this is like shooting for the Moon and starting off with one small fraction of one degree of error at the beginning of our calculations.

    We will miss that lunar landing in a huge way.

    And I did use scripture. “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin”. And explained what I intended by using that passage. I don’t need to quote long passages as Grace does. I know you have Bibles and have read the same passages I have. The difference is our regulating principles for interpreting those passages eh?

    So Webmonk. In your judgement of me and your dismissal of me, you have 4 fingers pointing right back at you dear friend.

  • fws

    Don S

    Sheesh. Don’t ever call me long winded again (even though it IS true!).

    Why the need to quote long bible passages? As Todd pointed out we too have Bibles and can read them.
    It is our regulating principles for understanding those passages that are the difference.
    And here , in Romans, it is in the definition of the words “sin” and “law” that is precisely where the fundamental difference lies.

    You touch on this in your most lucid post @ 164.
    http://www.geneveith.com/2012/07/18/atheists-sexual-harassment-problem/#comment-157268

    We Lutherans COMPLETELY disagree with you as to your definitions of the two words “Law” and therefore also the word “Sin”.

    So we disagree as to what it is that Christ saved us from, and what we are no longer under, and how all that is.

    You and webmonk are literally fleeing from a discussion focussed here. So here is another Bible passage for you:

    “The guilty flee when no one is pursuing”.

  • fws

    Don S

    Sheesh. Don’t ever call me long winded again (even though it IS true!).

    Why the need to quote long bible passages? As Todd pointed out we too have Bibles and can read them.
    It is our regulating principles for understanding those passages that are the difference.
    And here , in Romans, it is in the definition of the words “sin” and “law” that is precisely where the fundamental difference lies.

    You touch on this in your most lucid post @ 164.
    http://www.geneveith.com/2012/07/18/atheists-sexual-harassment-problem/#comment-157268

    We Lutherans COMPLETELY disagree with you as to your definitions of the two words “Law” and therefore also the word “Sin”.

    So we disagree as to what it is that Christ saved us from, and what we are no longer under, and how all that is.

    You and webmonk are literally fleeing from a discussion focussed here. So here is another Bible passage for you:

    “The guilty flee when no one is pursuing”.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    It seems as if DonS draws a sharp distinction between Moral Law (10 Commandments), and ceremonial/religious law. But Paul says clearly, as Todd highlights in his comment @ 241 – we fail at obeying the Law – period. And as Paul is writing to Christians, not Jews (referring to religion, not ethnicity), the ceremonial part doesn’t come in to it, anyway.

    Our victory is in Christ. This does NOT mean that Christ enabled to now be victorious, no, it means that we are victorious because Christ’s victory has been handed to us. His victory is ours. But we will find that our flesh goes on doing what it does. That is what Paul says.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    It seems as if DonS draws a sharp distinction between Moral Law (10 Commandments), and ceremonial/religious law. But Paul says clearly, as Todd highlights in his comment @ 241 – we fail at obeying the Law – period. And as Paul is writing to Christians, not Jews (referring to religion, not ethnicity), the ceremonial part doesn’t come in to it, anyway.

    Our victory is in Christ. This does NOT mean that Christ enabled to now be victorious, no, it means that we are victorious because Christ’s victory has been handed to us. His victory is ours. But we will find that our flesh goes on doing what it does. That is what Paul says.

  • fws

    kk @ 247

    Yes indeed. This is a false distinction that the Thomists also made and that the Apology carefully refutes in Apology IV.

    Don: Your definition of the words “sin” and “Law” are ones that we Lutherans completely, and I do mean completely, reject as false.

    So what is it that Christ has freed us from? This is where Don and Webmonk and Grace disagree with Lutherans.

    And so talking about “grace” and “faith” will just be talking right past each other.

  • fws

    kk @ 247

    Yes indeed. This is a false distinction that the Thomists also made and that the Apology carefully refutes in Apology IV.

    Don: Your definition of the words “sin” and “Law” are ones that we Lutherans completely, and I do mean completely, reject as false.

    So what is it that Christ has freed us from? This is where Don and Webmonk and Grace disagree with Lutherans.

    And so talking about “grace” and “faith” will just be talking right past each other.

  • Stephen

    KK -

    “Our victory is in Christ. This does NOT mean that Christ enabled to now be victorious, no, it means that we are victorious because Christ’s victory has been handed to us. His victory is ours. But we will find that our flesh goes on doing what it does. That is what Paul says.”

    This is a great way of presenting the error which I am having trouble untangling in a way that will make sense. It gets to my question @ 244. It seems that the “seeking righteousness” project is some kind of progressive, Spirit powered sanctification effort that actually precedes justification in the sense that, well, sure we are justified, but just not justified justified. Get it? There’s still work to do on our part, work that is not mere obedience, but obedience that is “spirit-filled” as opposed to sin filled (I guess).

    tODD’s “what have you done for me lately?” gets at this. In other words, it seems there is still work to do to be righteous, and/or there is a conflation of our obedience to the law and the righteousness of faith.

    The crux of that matter seems to be the belief that unbelievers cannot do what is right, only spirit-led Christians. Only the good works of Christians “matter” in any real sense. This is an error and takes no account of sin in its fullest sense.

  • Stephen

    KK -

    “Our victory is in Christ. This does NOT mean that Christ enabled to now be victorious, no, it means that we are victorious because Christ’s victory has been handed to us. His victory is ours. But we will find that our flesh goes on doing what it does. That is what Paul says.”

    This is a great way of presenting the error which I am having trouble untangling in a way that will make sense. It gets to my question @ 244. It seems that the “seeking righteousness” project is some kind of progressive, Spirit powered sanctification effort that actually precedes justification in the sense that, well, sure we are justified, but just not justified justified. Get it? There’s still work to do on our part, work that is not mere obedience, but obedience that is “spirit-filled” as opposed to sin filled (I guess).

    tODD’s “what have you done for me lately?” gets at this. In other words, it seems there is still work to do to be righteous, and/or there is a conflation of our obedience to the law and the righteousness of faith.

    The crux of that matter seems to be the belief that unbelievers cannot do what is right, only spirit-led Christians. Only the good works of Christians “matter” in any real sense. This is an error and takes no account of sin in its fullest sense.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Has anybody studied the etymology of the Greek word that gets translated “obedience?” It’s actually pretty interesting, and the word doesn’t really mean, “do as you’re commanded” as we modern English speakers might imagine.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Has anybody studied the etymology of the Greek word that gets translated “obedience?” It’s actually pretty interesting, and the word doesn’t really mean, “do as you’re commanded” as we modern English speakers might imagine.

  • DonS

    Frank: My post was long because I had to disentangle the misinterpretations in tODD’s post, so re-quoted passages from it. As for quoting Scripture, if we are speaking about theology without authority of Scripture, we are blowing smoke. I will not apologize for that.

    We are blogging, not writing a treatise on systematic theology. When Paul and John and others speak of obedience, they are speaking of not continuing, as we did in the flesh, in willful sin. In the flesh, we are slaves to sin, but in Christ we live in the Spirit, in the power of Christ, and are slaves to righteousness, as Paul put it. It seems hard for you guys in the Lutheran world to get your arms around the notion that this has nothing to do with self-justification, or “good works”, of which I have not spoken once, Stephen @ 249, or any righteous works, for that matter. I’m not sure where you guys are pulling that from. It certainly does seem that you have an intentional goal of fitting whatever is said into your preconceived world view about all Christians who aren’t Lutheran, no matter what they actually say.

    What Paul is speaking of is simply about having the power, in Christ, to not be any longer slaves to sin, in willful sin. And, Frank, we’re not talking about externals. Externals don’t matter. At all. “…for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7b. It’s heart attitude, guys.

    And yes, Mike, I agree that “do as your commanded” is not the heart of the meaning of “obedience” in the New Testament. It’s more like us acknowledging that we are released from the slavery of the flesh to sin, and empowered in the Spirit to do His will and to serve Him. Not in the tote board sense, as the Lutheran commenters on here always want to assume, but in the sense purely of loving Him and desiring to know Him better.

    And, I’m guessing you will now just repeat what you said above, pretend I said something different and re-characterize it as works righteousness, and go on your merry way.

    So be it.

  • DonS

    Frank: My post was long because I had to disentangle the misinterpretations in tODD’s post, so re-quoted passages from it. As for quoting Scripture, if we are speaking about theology without authority of Scripture, we are blowing smoke. I will not apologize for that.

    We are blogging, not writing a treatise on systematic theology. When Paul and John and others speak of obedience, they are speaking of not continuing, as we did in the flesh, in willful sin. In the flesh, we are slaves to sin, but in Christ we live in the Spirit, in the power of Christ, and are slaves to righteousness, as Paul put it. It seems hard for you guys in the Lutheran world to get your arms around the notion that this has nothing to do with self-justification, or “good works”, of which I have not spoken once, Stephen @ 249, or any righteous works, for that matter. I’m not sure where you guys are pulling that from. It certainly does seem that you have an intentional goal of fitting whatever is said into your preconceived world view about all Christians who aren’t Lutheran, no matter what they actually say.

    What Paul is speaking of is simply about having the power, in Christ, to not be any longer slaves to sin, in willful sin. And, Frank, we’re not talking about externals. Externals don’t matter. At all. “…for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7b. It’s heart attitude, guys.

    And yes, Mike, I agree that “do as your commanded” is not the heart of the meaning of “obedience” in the New Testament. It’s more like us acknowledging that we are released from the slavery of the flesh to sin, and empowered in the Spirit to do His will and to serve Him. Not in the tote board sense, as the Lutheran commenters on here always want to assume, but in the sense purely of loving Him and desiring to know Him better.

    And, I’m guessing you will now just repeat what you said above, pretend I said something different and re-characterize it as works righteousness, and go on your merry way.

    So be it.

  • Fws

    http://www.geneveith.com/2012/07/18/atheists-sexual-harassment-problem/#comment-157268

    Klasie @ 162: Well, I guess we need to take a step back here, re-visit the basics, and see if we are even on the same page as to what the Christian faith entails.

    and

    Can we agree that sin is, at its root, disobedience of God’s law? Hopefully so…

    To your part 1 therrfold definition of the Law and sin: no. No. And No.

    You say that to discuss this is to discuss the basics and what the christian faith entails. Entails .

    Why are you framing this issue and then fleeing froM it? You say that Todd and the others picked up this gauntlet you dropped. So you wont rehash. In what post was it that anyone here challenged your totally screewed up definitions of the Law and Sin?
    no where.

    THEN you address me without addressing this. I have asked to discuss this umpteen times with you. It was your idea. Why, why, why oh why Don???? Come baaaackkkkk.

    Stop running scurd Don.

  • Fws

    http://www.geneveith.com/2012/07/18/atheists-sexual-harassment-problem/#comment-157268

    Klasie @ 162: Well, I guess we need to take a step back here, re-visit the basics, and see if we are even on the same page as to what the Christian faith entails.

    and

    Can we agree that sin is, at its root, disobedience of God’s law? Hopefully so…

    To your part 1 therrfold definition of the Law and sin: no. No. And No.

    You say that to discuss this is to discuss the basics and what the christian faith entails. Entails .

    Why are you framing this issue and then fleeing froM it? You say that Todd and the others picked up this gauntlet you dropped. So you wont rehash. In what post was it that anyone here challenged your totally screewed up definitions of the Law and Sin?
    no where.

    THEN you address me without addressing this. I have asked to discuss this umpteen times with you. It was your idea. Why, why, why oh why Don???? Come baaaackkkkk.

    Stop running scurd Don.

  • Fws

    Don s @251

    Klasie @ 162: Well, I guess we need to take a step back here, re-visit the basics, and see if we are even on the same page as to what the Christian faith entails.

    Please. Lets.

    The Lutherans here think you definitions of the law and sin are Unscriptural.

  • Fws

    Don s @251

    Klasie @ 162: Well, I guess we need to take a step back here, re-visit the basics, and see if we are even on the same page as to what the Christian faith entails.

    Please. Lets.

    The Lutherans here think you definitions of the law and sin are Unscriptural.

  • WebMonk

    Sin is the breaking of God’s commandments. Original Sin is the source of our sins. We can see we are sinners because we haven’t kept the Ten C’s.

    It’s pretty simple stuff. DonS’s statement that sin is disobedience to God’s law is spot on.

  • WebMonk

    Sin is the breaking of God’s commandments. Original Sin is the source of our sins. We can see we are sinners because we haven’t kept the Ten C’s.

    It’s pretty simple stuff. DonS’s statement that sin is disobedience to God’s law is spot on.

  • Stephen

    DonS

    Seems not much has changed since I’ve been away. You bring it up, but then complain about how mean Lutherans are and go off insulted, insulting others in the process. What else can one do but try to restate what you write in order to make sense of it when you refuse to take responsibility for your own words or answer questions?

    “Not in the tote board sense, as the Lutheran commenters on here always want to assume, but in the sense purely of loving Him and desiring to know Him better.”

    I understand the first part about the tote board. But tote boards are not the only markers of works righteousness. As to the second part, it is vague and incredibly abstract. It seems to be based on feelings or passions which one directs in the correct manner, if not completely dependent on willing participation and intention – all Old Adam piety. But it does not account for sin, and as such, no one Christ is needed. Pagan Buddhists and Muslims can be and are every bit as pious, maybe more. They mean it just as sincerely. What makes your moral intention better?

  • Stephen

    DonS

    Seems not much has changed since I’ve been away. You bring it up, but then complain about how mean Lutherans are and go off insulted, insulting others in the process. What else can one do but try to restate what you write in order to make sense of it when you refuse to take responsibility for your own words or answer questions?

    “Not in the tote board sense, as the Lutheran commenters on here always want to assume, but in the sense purely of loving Him and desiring to know Him better.”

    I understand the first part about the tote board. But tote boards are not the only markers of works righteousness. As to the second part, it is vague and incredibly abstract. It seems to be based on feelings or passions which one directs in the correct manner, if not completely dependent on willing participation and intention – all Old Adam piety. But it does not account for sin, and as such, no one Christ is needed. Pagan Buddhists and Muslims can be and are every bit as pious, maybe more. They mean it just as sincerely. What makes your moral intention better?

  • Stephen

    Webmonk -

    No it’s not.

    Luke 18: 18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

    19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’[a]”

    21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.

    22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

    23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

    26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”

    27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

    28 Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”

    29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”

    Is that just a passage about money or being rich. “All of these I have kept since I was a boy” seems to shoot a big hole in your definition, doesn’t it? Jesus didn’t say “Well, you didn’t keep #3 and I know because I’m God.” He said something else, about still lacking something. What is that something? Again, is it just about money and/or giving material things away?

  • Stephen

    Webmonk -

    No it’s not.

    Luke 18: 18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

    19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’[a]”

    21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.

    22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

    23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

    26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”

    27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

    28 Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”

    29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”

    Is that just a passage about money or being rich. “All of these I have kept since I was a boy” seems to shoot a big hole in your definition, doesn’t it? Jesus didn’t say “Well, you didn’t keep #3 and I know because I’m God.” He said something else, about still lacking something. What is that something? Again, is it just about money and/or giving material things away?

  • DonS

    Hmm. As Webmonk, and I, and Paul have said before, sin is disobedience of God. That’s the scriptural definition, Frank.

    Stephen, not sure where you got the notion I went off insulted. Been here the whole time. I do get frustrated, I admit, when the things I say are apparently deliberately twisted to fit some sort of preconceived construct. But, that’s life, I guess.

    As to the second part, it is vague and incredibly abstract. It seems to be based on feelings or passions which one directs in the correct manner, if not completely dependent on willing participation and intention – all Old Adam piety. But it does not account for sin, and as such, no one Christ is needed. Pagan Buddhists and Muslims can be and are every bit as pious, maybe more. They mean it just as sincerely. What makes your moral intention better?

    Wow. Where did you get that? Living in the Spirit is Paul’s term, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with feelings, passions, or intention. It has to do with I John 5:3, loving Christ and serving Him in the strength that He gives us through the Spirit. And, of course, AGAIN, for the umpteenth time, that is what differentiates Christians from pagans. They do not serve and worship the Living God! They are trying to justify themselves, and do things in the flesh.

    Gosh, you guys could at least try.

  • DonS

    Hmm. As Webmonk, and I, and Paul have said before, sin is disobedience of God. That’s the scriptural definition, Frank.

    Stephen, not sure where you got the notion I went off insulted. Been here the whole time. I do get frustrated, I admit, when the things I say are apparently deliberately twisted to fit some sort of preconceived construct. But, that’s life, I guess.

    As to the second part, it is vague and incredibly abstract. It seems to be based on feelings or passions which one directs in the correct manner, if not completely dependent on willing participation and intention – all Old Adam piety. But it does not account for sin, and as such, no one Christ is needed. Pagan Buddhists and Muslims can be and are every bit as pious, maybe more. They mean it just as sincerely. What makes your moral intention better?

    Wow. Where did you get that? Living in the Spirit is Paul’s term, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with feelings, passions, or intention. It has to do with I John 5:3, loving Christ and serving Him in the strength that He gives us through the Spirit. And, of course, AGAIN, for the umpteenth time, that is what differentiates Christians from pagans. They do not serve and worship the Living God! They are trying to justify themselves, and do things in the flesh.

    Gosh, you guys could at least try.

  • WebMonk

    How do I know I’m a sinner? Because I keep breaking the ten commandments.

    Simple enough.

  • WebMonk

    How do I know I’m a sinner? Because I keep breaking the ten commandments.

    Simple enough.

  • Stephen

    By the way, that ruler in Luke is a Hebrew who does not have the Holy Spirit infused in his works per DonS’s reasoning. No Christ, no Holy Spirit-helper to encourage obedience. So then, how is it that he can keep the law?

  • Stephen

    By the way, that ruler in Luke is a Hebrew who does not have the Holy Spirit infused in his works per DonS’s reasoning. No Christ, no Holy Spirit-helper to encourage obedience. So then, how is it that he can keep the law?

  • WebMonk

    disclaimer: That’s not an exhaustive declaration of all the ways I know I’m a sinner. Just a direct reply back to Stephen.

  • WebMonk

    disclaimer: That’s not an exhaustive declaration of all the ways I know I’m a sinner. Just a direct reply back to Stephen.

  • WebMonk

    I’m sure I’m wrong, Stephen, but I didn’t want to be accused of being vague and incredibly abstract, so I kept it clear and direct.

  • WebMonk

    I’m sure I’m wrong, Stephen, but I didn’t want to be accused of being vague and incredibly abstract, so I kept it clear and direct.

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 259: Um, exactly! That’s the point, right?

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 259: Um, exactly! That’s the point, right?

  • Stephen

    DonS

    Why so surprised? This is what you said:

    “. . . but in the sense purely of loving Him and desiring to know Him better.”

    And this:

    “Living in the Spirit is Paul’s term, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with feelings, passions, or intention. It has to do with I John 5:3, loving Christ and serving Him in the strength that He gives us through the Spirit.”

    Tomato, Tomato

    That is something you are doing whether it is or is not for you a feeling, and like I said, it does not account for sin. In what sense is your loving action pure? What are you talking about, justification or sanctification? All you are doing is restating in religious language what you claim to deny. You could at least try to be more clear.

  • Stephen

    DonS

    Why so surprised? This is what you said:

    “. . . but in the sense purely of loving Him and desiring to know Him better.”

    And this:

    “Living in the Spirit is Paul’s term, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with feelings, passions, or intention. It has to do with I John 5:3, loving Christ and serving Him in the strength that He gives us through the Spirit.”

    Tomato, Tomato

    That is something you are doing whether it is or is not for you a feeling, and like I said, it does not account for sin. In what sense is your loving action pure? What are you talking about, justification or sanctification? All you are doing is restating in religious language what you claim to deny. You could at least try to be more clear.

  • Stephen

    DonS @262

    Umm, what point? The rich young ruler KEPT the law. So he WAS obedient to God’s law. Get it? Whence sin?

  • Stephen

    DonS @262

    Umm, what point? The rich young ruler KEPT the law. So he WAS obedient to God’s law. Get it? Whence sin?

  • WebMonk

    Sin (behavior, nature, original, etc) is something that can be approached different ways, but the basic definition is a violation of God’s commandments.

    Disobeying the Ten C’s is one way to phrase it. Not exhaustive, but it gets at the root. Jesus expounded on them, clarifying that all God’s law’s are summed up in loving God first and loving others as yourself. (paraphrasing) Disobeying this is sin. Sin is disobeying God.

    What is it to sin? It’s disobeying God. It’s disobeying the Ten Commandments.

  • WebMonk

    Sin (behavior, nature, original, etc) is something that can be approached different ways, but the basic definition is a violation of God’s commandments.

    Disobeying the Ten C’s is one way to phrase it. Not exhaustive, but it gets at the root. Jesus expounded on them, clarifying that all God’s law’s are summed up in loving God first and loving others as yourself. (paraphrasing) Disobeying this is sin. Sin is disobeying God.

    What is it to sin? It’s disobeying God. It’s disobeying the Ten Commandments.

  • Stephen

    Webmonk @265

    “Disobeying the Ten C’s is one way to phrase it. Not exhaustive, but it gets at the root. . . Sin is disobeying God.”

    Exhaustive or not, how does this get at the root? Did you read the Luke 18 text?

    “ALL OF THESE I have kept since I was a boy” which, by the definitions you two keep insisting upon, means that this fellow hadn’t sinned since he was a boy.

    Again, referring to this biblical text, which Don insists is missing from these conversations, what then is sin?

  • Stephen

    Webmonk @265

    “Disobeying the Ten C’s is one way to phrase it. Not exhaustive, but it gets at the root. . . Sin is disobeying God.”

    Exhaustive or not, how does this get at the root? Did you read the Luke 18 text?

    “ALL OF THESE I have kept since I was a boy” which, by the definitions you two keep insisting upon, means that this fellow hadn’t sinned since he was a boy.

    Again, referring to this biblical text, which Don insists is missing from these conversations, what then is sin?

  • WebMonk

    Of course I’m wrong. I knew I would be. I even went so far as to use the answer from the SC – how do I know I’m a sinner? From the Ten Commandments, which I have not kept.

    But, I’m not a Lutheran, so even when I give an answer straight from the Small Catechism, I’m still wrong.

    This is why it’s spitting in the wind to talk with people like you and Frank – it doesn’t matter what I (or DonS) say, I’m always wrong just because I’m not a Lutheran.

  • WebMonk

    Of course I’m wrong. I knew I would be. I even went so far as to use the answer from the SC – how do I know I’m a sinner? From the Ten Commandments, which I have not kept.

    But, I’m not a Lutheran, so even when I give an answer straight from the Small Catechism, I’m still wrong.

    This is why it’s spitting in the wind to talk with people like you and Frank – it doesn’t matter what I (or DonS) say, I’m always wrong just because I’m not a Lutheran.

  • DonS

    Webmonk @ 267: LOL! Yes, you, as a non-Lutheran, cannot possibly speak truth, even if it is straight from the confessions. You should have known.

    Stephen @ 264: I think your problem with understanding Luke 18 is that you apparently believe the young ruler REALLY DID keep the whole law.

  • DonS

    Webmonk @ 267: LOL! Yes, you, as a non-Lutheran, cannot possibly speak truth, even if it is straight from the confessions. You should have known.

    Stephen @ 264: I think your problem with understanding Luke 18 is that you apparently believe the young ruler REALLY DID keep the whole law.

  • WebMonk

    But, as this is about to fall off the bottom of the front page (and likely die as a conversation) and I would oh-so-hate to be accused of dropping the conversation ….

    You pull up Luke 18, suggesting that Jesus confirms that the guy had kept every commandment perfectly.

    BS, and you know it, and everyone knows it.

    Jesus, in saying what he did, wasn’t confirming that the man had actually kept every commandment perfectly. Jesus, instead of arguing, demonstrated to the man that he wasn’t really obeying all of God’s commandments. If nothing else, he was placing his own wealth above his love of God.

    Instead of arguing over whether or not some specific act was violating a law, Jesus comes back to him from a different direction from what the guy expected, and pointed everyone to far more than just answering the direct question or challenge.

    [sarc]Because, wow, Jesus never replied to various questions and challenges indirectly. Since Jesus didn’t directly correct the guy, Jesus must have been agreeing that the guy had never, ever broken any commandment! [end sarc]

  • WebMonk

    But, as this is about to fall off the bottom of the front page (and likely die as a conversation) and I would oh-so-hate to be accused of dropping the conversation ….

    You pull up Luke 18, suggesting that Jesus confirms that the guy had kept every commandment perfectly.

    BS, and you know it, and everyone knows it.

    Jesus, in saying what he did, wasn’t confirming that the man had actually kept every commandment perfectly. Jesus, instead of arguing, demonstrated to the man that he wasn’t really obeying all of God’s commandments. If nothing else, he was placing his own wealth above his love of God.

    Instead of arguing over whether or not some specific act was violating a law, Jesus comes back to him from a different direction from what the guy expected, and pointed everyone to far more than just answering the direct question or challenge.

    [sarc]Because, wow, Jesus never replied to various questions and challenges indirectly. Since Jesus didn’t directly correct the guy, Jesus must have been agreeing that the guy had never, ever broken any commandment! [end sarc]

  • Stephen

    Webmonk -

    “how do I know I’m a sinner? From the Ten Commandments, which I have not kept.”

    Okay, let me ask it another way. If this young man was not keeping the commandments even though he said he was and Jesus didn’t argue, what was it that he lacked? What KIND of keeping is it that we do not or cannot do, that of which the commandments condemn us? The answer gets closer to a solid definition of sin, one that accounts for behavior but does not stop there.

  • Stephen

    Webmonk -

    “how do I know I’m a sinner? From the Ten Commandments, which I have not kept.”

    Okay, let me ask it another way. If this young man was not keeping the commandments even though he said he was and Jesus didn’t argue, what was it that he lacked? What KIND of keeping is it that we do not or cannot do, that of which the commandments condemn us? The answer gets closer to a solid definition of sin, one that accounts for behavior but does not stop there.

  • WebMonk

    DonS, do you think Stephen really does think the young ruler in Luke 18 actually kept the entire law? I figured he was just using it as a argument device.

    Stephen, do you REALLY think the man in Luke 18 had really kept the entire law?!?!?

  • WebMonk

    DonS, do you think Stephen really does think the young ruler in Luke 18 actually kept the entire law? I figured he was just using it as a argument device.

    Stephen, do you REALLY think the man in Luke 18 had really kept the entire law?!?!?

  • Stephen

    @ 268, 269

    Now we’re getting somewhere. What say ye to post 270? This is getting there:

    “Jesus, in saying what he did, wasn’t confirming that the man had actually kept every commandment perfectly. Jesus, instead of arguing, demonstrated to the man that he wasn’t really obeying all of God’s commandments. If nothing else, he was placing his own wealth above his love of God.”

    Placing (fill in the blank) above his love of God. And where is that in the commandments? Go ahead and quote the SC.

  • Stephen

    @ 268, 269

    Now we’re getting somewhere. What say ye to post 270? This is getting there:

    “Jesus, in saying what he did, wasn’t confirming that the man had actually kept every commandment perfectly. Jesus, instead of arguing, demonstrated to the man that he wasn’t really obeying all of God’s commandments. If nothing else, he was placing his own wealth above his love of God.”

    Placing (fill in the blank) above his love of God. And where is that in the commandments? Go ahead and quote the SC.

  • Stephen

    Webmonk -

    “Stephen, do you REALLY think the man in Luke 18 had really kept the entire law?!?!?”

    On one sense, yes. What sense would that be? But then Jesus said he stilled lacked something. You already nailed it.

  • Stephen

    Webmonk -

    “Stephen, do you REALLY think the man in Luke 18 had really kept the entire law?!?!?”

    On one sense, yes. What sense would that be? But then Jesus said he stilled lacked something. You already nailed it.

  • DonS

    Webmonk @ 271: I took him at his word. Given the other things he has posted, it’s possible.

  • DonS

    Webmonk @ 271: I took him at his word. Given the other things he has posted, it’s possible.

  • WebMonk

    Stephen – cross-posts happening. Answer to your specious question in 270 is in my 269 post.

    We’ve stated what sin is. We’ve quoted straight from scripture and the Small Catechism.

    Obviously we’re still wrong, since, you know, we’re not Lutheran, but please enlighten us as to how the definition of sin as disobeying God is oh so very wrong. Who knows, maybe we’ll become Lutherans.

  • WebMonk

    Stephen – cross-posts happening. Answer to your specious question in 270 is in my 269 post.

    We’ve stated what sin is. We’ve quoted straight from scripture and the Small Catechism.

    Obviously we’re still wrong, since, you know, we’re not Lutheran, but please enlighten us as to how the definition of sin as disobeying God is oh so very wrong. Who knows, maybe we’ll become Lutherans.

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 273: Second Commandment — You shall have no other gods before me.

    Young ruler fail.

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 273: Second Commandment — You shall have no other gods before me.

    Young ruler fail.

  • WebMonk

    Stephen, your 272:

    Placing (fill in the blank) above his love of God. And where is that in the commandments?

    Um, are you serious? Try the first commandment, duh. “You shall have no other gods before me.”

  • WebMonk

    Stephen, your 272:

    Placing (fill in the blank) above his love of God. And where is that in the commandments?

    Um, are you serious? Try the first commandment, duh. “You shall have no other gods before me.”

  • Stephen

    DonS,

    No other gods? He was a Hebrew. He worshiped the one, true God of the Covenant. We can assume he followed each and every tenet of his faith with great piety and precision. No reason in the text not to assume this. And yet he lacked something. So if he did fail to keep #1 (#2?) in what way did he fail?

  • Stephen

    DonS,

    No other gods? He was a Hebrew. He worshiped the one, true God of the Covenant. We can assume he followed each and every tenet of his faith with great piety and precision. No reason in the text not to assume this. And yet he lacked something. So if he did fail to keep #1 (#2?) in what way did he fail?

  • Stephen

    Webmonk @ 277

    That’s right, and yes I was serious. So now, what is sin?

  • Stephen

    Webmonk @ 277

    That’s right, and yes I was serious. So now, what is sin?

  • DonS

    Stephen, Stephen, Stephen @ 278: No. Not right. He loved his wealth more than he loved God. His wealth was his god.

  • DonS

    Stephen, Stephen, Stephen @ 278: No. Not right. He loved his wealth more than he loved God. His wealth was his god.

  • WebMonk

    What is sin? Disobeying God.

    I think we’ve said that, what, a dozen times now?

    Jesus demonstrated the young man had broken the very first commandment.

  • WebMonk

    What is sin? Disobeying God.

    I think we’ve said that, what, a dozen times now?

    Jesus demonstrated the young man had broken the very first commandment.

  • DonS

    It took Jesus all of five seconds to show the young ruler that he was a self-righteous fraud, by demonstrating first hand how he had just broken a commandment, right in front of Christ.

    Awesome.

  • DonS

    It took Jesus all of five seconds to show the young ruler that he was a self-righteous fraud, by demonstrating first hand how he had just broken a commandment, right in front of Christ.

    Awesome.

  • WebMonk

    Like Don said, Jesus showed the young man had sinned. He had broken one of the TC. Sin is disobeying God. That can also be phrased as breaking the TC.

    We’re wrong, obviously, but in what particular way is that definition wrong?

  • WebMonk

    Like Don said, Jesus showed the young man had sinned. He had broken one of the TC. Sin is disobeying God. That can also be phrased as breaking the TC.

    We’re wrong, obviously, but in what particular way is that definition wrong?

  • Stephen

    WEbmonk -

    How did he break the commandment? I’ll answer that because you’ve both said it. He loved (fill in the blank) more than God. He did keep all the commandments, but his heart was in the wrong place. So then, if disobedience to the commandments is this – loving something above God – is that sin? I think we would all agree now that it certainly is. This is the sin of Adam. Is this something we do? Yes. Is it then something we can avoid doing. No. Why? If it is a matter of doing, why can we not do it? We are infused with the HS after all, right? Is that the point of Romans 7, that we can avoid sinning and meet a “standard” (DonS’s term) now that we are infused with the power of the HS?

  • Stephen

    WEbmonk -

    How did he break the commandment? I’ll answer that because you’ve both said it. He loved (fill in the blank) more than God. He did keep all the commandments, but his heart was in the wrong place. So then, if disobedience to the commandments is this – loving something above God – is that sin? I think we would all agree now that it certainly is. This is the sin of Adam. Is this something we do? Yes. Is it then something we can avoid doing. No. Why? If it is a matter of doing, why can we not do it? We are infused with the HS after all, right? Is that the point of Romans 7, that we can avoid sinning and meet a “standard” (DonS’s term) now that we are infused with the power of the HS?

  • Stephen

    Or maybe this would be a more helpful construction of a key sentence:

    “He did keep all the commandments in his actions (behavior), but his heart was in the wrong place, thus he did fail to keep them.”

  • Stephen

    Or maybe this would be a more helpful construction of a key sentence:

    “He did keep all the commandments in his actions (behavior), but his heart was in the wrong place, thus he did fail to keep them.”

  • Stephen

    Webmonk -

    Another way to think about it might be this:

    Given all we’ve just laid out together, if sin is disobedience, then what is obedience?

  • Stephen

    Webmonk -

    Another way to think about it might be this:

    Given all we’ve just laid out together, if sin is disobedience, then what is obedience?

  • WebMonk

    Stephen, you’ve completely lost me as to what you’re objecting.

    For one, you’re directly contradicting yourself. You say: “He loved (fill in the blank) more than God. He did keep all the commandments….”

    That’s a direct contradiction. The first commandment is to have no gods before God. You said he loved money more than God and then say he kept all the commandments. You say he broke the first commandment, and then you say he kept all the commandments.

    WTF?

    Then, in 254 I said that sin is disobeying God. In 256 you said “No it’s not.” Now you’re saying that sin is disobeying God.

    To quote you:

    So then, if disobedience to the commandments is this – loving something above God – is that sin? I think we would all agree now that it certainly is.

    So, you now state that disobedience to the commandments is sin. That’s what I said up in 254 and a half dozen times since then!

    And yet, I’m still wrong. I know, I know. I’m not Lutheran, so therefore I am wrong, no matter what.

  • WebMonk

    Stephen, you’ve completely lost me as to what you’re objecting.

    For one, you’re directly contradicting yourself. You say: “He loved (fill in the blank) more than God. He did keep all the commandments….”

    That’s a direct contradiction. The first commandment is to have no gods before God. You said he loved money more than God and then say he kept all the commandments. You say he broke the first commandment, and then you say he kept all the commandments.

    WTF?

    Then, in 254 I said that sin is disobeying God. In 256 you said “No it’s not.” Now you’re saying that sin is disobeying God.

    To quote you:

    So then, if disobedience to the commandments is this – loving something above God – is that sin? I think we would all agree now that it certainly is.

    So, you now state that disobedience to the commandments is sin. That’s what I said up in 254 and a half dozen times since then!

    And yet, I’m still wrong. I know, I know. I’m not Lutheran, so therefore I am wrong, no matter what.

  • WebMonk

    You know what one of the nice things about the Internet is – if you don’t want to, you don’t have to deal with all the [redacted - keep it clean WebMonk] out there.

  • WebMonk

    You know what one of the nice things about the Internet is – if you don’t want to, you don’t have to deal with all the [redacted - keep it clean WebMonk] out there.

  • Stephen

    I’m not trying to be a jerk, I’m trying to get you to see a fundamental difference. DonS, you laid out what you thought was the foundation of agreement in post 164 and as it turns out, Lutherans do not and cannot agree with it. I am trying to get you to see why that is.

    See if this makes sense. DonS, you contend that the “point” is that the difference between us and the rich young ruler is that he didn’t have Christ, and THAT is why he could not keep the law. That is why pagans cannot do good works and are different – they do not have the HS infused in them to aid them in “living by the Spirit” which amounts to obedience, obedience which looks like meeting a standard. That all sounds like law keeping to me, law keeping, mind you, empowered by the HS to do the right thing. The Gospel comes so that we can (finally, as dispensation) keep the law in what we do by employing the power of HS – living in the Spirit.

    But then you say that the young ruler didn’t keep the law because he loved money more than God. And that is correct, but it does not square. So how is the law kept completely? Do we keep it by being infused with power from Christ and thus doing the right thing? Is this love that was missing in the young ruler the thing we get infused in us by the HS, and thus finding the ability to do the right thing unlike pagans?

  • Stephen

    I’m not trying to be a jerk, I’m trying to get you to see a fundamental difference. DonS, you laid out what you thought was the foundation of agreement in post 164 and as it turns out, Lutherans do not and cannot agree with it. I am trying to get you to see why that is.

    See if this makes sense. DonS, you contend that the “point” is that the difference between us and the rich young ruler is that he didn’t have Christ, and THAT is why he could not keep the law. That is why pagans cannot do good works and are different – they do not have the HS infused in them to aid them in “living by the Spirit” which amounts to obedience, obedience which looks like meeting a standard. That all sounds like law keeping to me, law keeping, mind you, empowered by the HS to do the right thing. The Gospel comes so that we can (finally, as dispensation) keep the law in what we do by employing the power of HS – living in the Spirit.

    But then you say that the young ruler didn’t keep the law because he loved money more than God. And that is correct, but it does not square. So how is the law kept completely? Do we keep it by being infused with power from Christ and thus doing the right thing? Is this love that was missing in the young ruler the thing we get infused in us by the HS, and thus finding the ability to do the right thing unlike pagans?

  • Stephen

    Webmonk -

    I hope your read my correction @ 285. Maybe that helps. And I will try to be more helpful.

    “For one, you’re directly contradicting yourself. You say: “He loved (fill in the blank) more than God. He did keep all the commandments….”

    That’s a direct contradiction. The first commandment is to have no gods before God. You said he loved money more than God and then say he kept all the commandments. You say he broke the first commandment, and then you say he kept all the commandments.”

    He kept the commandments as a Jew. He did all the correct religious things. He would never bow down to an idol (#1) and never had. This is what I mean when I say he kept the commandments. But what was missing? As the SC says, the 1st commandment is all about fear love and trust in God. That is the obedience that is missing and which, consequently means that none of us can keep the commandments IN OUR HEARTS, which is to say PERFECTLY.

    So then, disobedience to God’s commandments looks first and foremost like what? Failing to fear, love and trust God above EVERYTHING. Can we do this? No. Yet DonS seems to be saying we can because we are infused with the HS. Now we can meet the standard and live in the Spirit “purely” loving God.

    Dons, Webmonk, Stephen, Frank – loving God above all things, PERFECTLY as Jesus tells us to, even now that we are Christians?

    FAIL, FAIL, FAIL, FAIL

    What gives? I thought we were able to live in the Spirit?

  • Stephen

    Webmonk -

    I hope your read my correction @ 285. Maybe that helps. And I will try to be more helpful.

    “For one, you’re directly contradicting yourself. You say: “He loved (fill in the blank) more than God. He did keep all the commandments….”

    That’s a direct contradiction. The first commandment is to have no gods before God. You said he loved money more than God and then say he kept all the commandments. You say he broke the first commandment, and then you say he kept all the commandments.”

    He kept the commandments as a Jew. He did all the correct religious things. He would never bow down to an idol (#1) and never had. This is what I mean when I say he kept the commandments. But what was missing? As the SC says, the 1st commandment is all about fear love and trust in God. That is the obedience that is missing and which, consequently means that none of us can keep the commandments IN OUR HEARTS, which is to say PERFECTLY.

    So then, disobedience to God’s commandments looks first and foremost like what? Failing to fear, love and trust God above EVERYTHING. Can we do this? No. Yet DonS seems to be saying we can because we are infused with the HS. Now we can meet the standard and live in the Spirit “purely” loving God.

    Dons, Webmonk, Stephen, Frank – loving God above all things, PERFECTLY as Jesus tells us to, even now that we are Christians?

    FAIL, FAIL, FAIL, FAIL

    What gives? I thought we were able to live in the Spirit?

  • DonS

    Stephen: What Webmonk said, above. This young ruler comes to Christ and asks what he can do to be saved. Christ gives him the humanly impossible answer — keep the whole law. This young man, being entirely clueless and self-righteous as to his own status regarding the law, says that he has! Christ looks at him incredulously — I can’t imagine standing before Christ and boldfacedly claiming to have kept the whole law — what a clueless fool. He doesn’t even know he is a sinner, so he is in no condition to be saved. Now, Christ could have just said, well you lied, buddy, by claiming to have kept the whole law, so you just broke your streak. That would have been my human reaction to this pompous fool. Instead, He merely challenges the young ruler’s love for God above all else (Second Commandment), and promptly exposes him as a hypocrite. Unfortunately, instead of repeating his question, now with understanding of his sinful state, the ruler walks away, as many do. Sad.

    Sure, his “heart attitude” or whatever you want to call it, was bad. And sure, a bad heart attitude can be sin. But, make no mistake, this young ruler broke one commandment to a certainty just during the time he was with Jesus, and perhaps a second when he claimed to have kept the whole law (I’m allowing that, rather than being a liar, he was just a clueless fool and thought he really had kept the whole law).

  • DonS

    Stephen: What Webmonk said, above. This young ruler comes to Christ and asks what he can do to be saved. Christ gives him the humanly impossible answer — keep the whole law. This young man, being entirely clueless and self-righteous as to his own status regarding the law, says that he has! Christ looks at him incredulously — I can’t imagine standing before Christ and boldfacedly claiming to have kept the whole law — what a clueless fool. He doesn’t even know he is a sinner, so he is in no condition to be saved. Now, Christ could have just said, well you lied, buddy, by claiming to have kept the whole law, so you just broke your streak. That would have been my human reaction to this pompous fool. Instead, He merely challenges the young ruler’s love for God above all else (Second Commandment), and promptly exposes him as a hypocrite. Unfortunately, instead of repeating his question, now with understanding of his sinful state, the ruler walks away, as many do. Sad.

    Sure, his “heart attitude” or whatever you want to call it, was bad. And sure, a bad heart attitude can be sin. But, make no mistake, this young ruler broke one commandment to a certainty just during the time he was with Jesus, and perhaps a second when he claimed to have kept the whole law (I’m allowing that, rather than being a liar, he was just a clueless fool and thought he really had kept the whole law).

  • Stephen

    Hey, I got to go for now. I will try to pick it up later tonight. Thanks! No hard feelings. There is a difference in definitions that exists. It isn’t about being wrong or right, it’s about what is true and what isn’t about our faith. DonS asserted what he claimed was a foundational truth that he assumed we all agreed upon as Christians. I’m trying to show how it is false and unbiblical. I have been trying to abide by the criteria DonS requires – Scripture. It’s not personal.

  • Stephen

    Hey, I got to go for now. I will try to pick it up later tonight. Thanks! No hard feelings. There is a difference in definitions that exists. It isn’t about being wrong or right, it’s about what is true and what isn’t about our faith. DonS asserted what he claimed was a foundational truth that he assumed we all agreed upon as Christians. I’m trying to show how it is false and unbiblical. I have been trying to abide by the criteria DonS requires – Scripture. It’s not personal.

  • Stephen

    “Sure, his “heart attitude” or whatever you want to call it, was bad. And sure, a bad heart attitude can be sin. But, make no mistake, this young ruler broke one commandment to a certainty just during the time he was with Jesus . . .”

    Wow, that is an epic missing of the point DonS. How did he not keep the commandment? I’ve already said that he did in one sense (religiously), but he definitely did in another sense, the sense which actually matters and gets us closer to a definition of what sin is. You’ve already both said it.

    A bad attitude can be sin? That’s an understatement. Sin is the ultimate bad attitude. Attitude is all about the intentions of the heart and will. So what is sin? What is disobedience?

  • Stephen

    “Sure, his “heart attitude” or whatever you want to call it, was bad. And sure, a bad heart attitude can be sin. But, make no mistake, this young ruler broke one commandment to a certainty just during the time he was with Jesus . . .”

    Wow, that is an epic missing of the point DonS. How did he not keep the commandment? I’ve already said that he did in one sense (religiously), but he definitely did in another sense, the sense which actually matters and gets us closer to a definition of what sin is. You’ve already both said it.

    A bad attitude can be sin? That’s an understatement. Sin is the ultimate bad attitude. Attitude is all about the intentions of the heart and will. So what is sin? What is disobedience?

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 289, 290: DonS has said no such thing as you are accusing him of saying.

    What is this “infused with the HS” stuff? Romans 8:9 says that “you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His”.

    Not “infused” . “Indwelt”. Let’s keep it Scriptural. And let’s keep it clear that it is not me who is saying this, it is God, through Paul.

    Now, as to the substance, which has already explained ad infinitum above. There are so many errors in your post. Here we go, one more time:

    That is why pagans cannot do good works and are different – they do not have the HS infused in them to aid them in “living by the Spirit” which amounts to obedience, obedience which looks like meeting a standard.

    NO!!!!! Pagans can do good works. Good works are nothing, they are filthy rags of self-righteousness. What pagans cannot do is obey God. They are in the flesh, and thus slaves to sin, as we were before we were saved. What Christ does for us is to destroy the power of the flesh over us, by giving us His Spirit. When we live in the Spirit, as Paul explained, there is a war within us between good and evil. This means that, while we will certainly continue to sin, we will not be enslaved to it (i.e. live for it), and we will have the power to obey God, in love. It’s not lawkeeping. The law has no power over us any more — we are saved from its condemnation. Instead, it is serving. We obey God in order to serve Him and to fellowship with Him here on earth. Again — WE WILL STILL SIN — WE STILL HAVE THE OLD NATURE IN US. But no one is keeping accounts. We get up, in the power of the Spirit, and go again. I hope that is clear.

    But then you say that the young ruler didn’t keep the law because he loved money more than God. And that is correct, but it does not square. So how is the law kept completely? Do we keep it by being infused with power from Christ and thus doing the right thing? Is this love that was missing in the young ruler the thing we get infused in us by the HS, and thus finding the ability to do the right thing unlike pagans?

    I really don’t know what you mean by this. The point of course, is that it is impossible in the flesh to keep the law completely. Even after we are saved (as we are still in the flesh, even though we live in the Spirit). It’s not about doing. It’s about Christ throwing aside our slavery to sin and giving us the power to obey Him — not completely, of course, since we still have the old nature, as Paul said in the latter part of Romans 7, but avoiding wallowing in and living for our habitual sins.

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 289, 290: DonS has said no such thing as you are accusing him of saying.

    What is this “infused with the HS” stuff? Romans 8:9 says that “you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His”.

    Not “infused” . “Indwelt”. Let’s keep it Scriptural. And let’s keep it clear that it is not me who is saying this, it is God, through Paul.

    Now, as to the substance, which has already explained ad infinitum above. There are so many errors in your post. Here we go, one more time:

    That is why pagans cannot do good works and are different – they do not have the HS infused in them to aid them in “living by the Spirit” which amounts to obedience, obedience which looks like meeting a standard.

    NO!!!!! Pagans can do good works. Good works are nothing, they are filthy rags of self-righteousness. What pagans cannot do is obey God. They are in the flesh, and thus slaves to sin, as we were before we were saved. What Christ does for us is to destroy the power of the flesh over us, by giving us His Spirit. When we live in the Spirit, as Paul explained, there is a war within us between good and evil. This means that, while we will certainly continue to sin, we will not be enslaved to it (i.e. live for it), and we will have the power to obey God, in love. It’s not lawkeeping. The law has no power over us any more — we are saved from its condemnation. Instead, it is serving. We obey God in order to serve Him and to fellowship with Him here on earth. Again — WE WILL STILL SIN — WE STILL HAVE THE OLD NATURE IN US. But no one is keeping accounts. We get up, in the power of the Spirit, and go again. I hope that is clear.

    But then you say that the young ruler didn’t keep the law because he loved money more than God. And that is correct, but it does not square. So how is the law kept completely? Do we keep it by being infused with power from Christ and thus doing the right thing? Is this love that was missing in the young ruler the thing we get infused in us by the HS, and thus finding the ability to do the right thing unlike pagans?

    I really don’t know what you mean by this. The point of course, is that it is impossible in the flesh to keep the law completely. Even after we are saved (as we are still in the flesh, even though we live in the Spirit). It’s not about doing. It’s about Christ throwing aside our slavery to sin and giving us the power to obey Him — not completely, of course, since we still have the old nature, as Paul said in the latter part of Romans 7, but avoiding wallowing in and living for our habitual sins.

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 293: Agreed. Misstatement. A bad heart attitude IS sin. But understand that the love of money is a god. He did not keep that commandment in any sense of the word at all. He may have thought he did, but that reflects the lack of understanding he had about what God requires, and what it means to be in the flesh. That was the point of Christ’s response — to show that to him.

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 293: Agreed. Misstatement. A bad heart attitude IS sin. But understand that the love of money is a god. He did not keep that commandment in any sense of the word at all. He may have thought he did, but that reflects the lack of understanding he had about what God requires, and what it means to be in the flesh. That was the point of Christ’s response — to show that to him.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Obedience to God is believing His Word.
    Disobedience is unbelief.

    Disciples: “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”
    Jesus: “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom He has sent.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Obedience to God is believing His Word.
    Disobedience is unbelief.

    Disciples: “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”
    Jesus: “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom He has sent.”

  • DonS

    Sure, Mike. Agreed. But a Christian who cheats on his wife sins, the same as a non-Christian who cheats on his wife. And that sin is adultery.

  • DonS

    Sure, Mike. Agreed. But a Christian who cheats on his wife sins, the same as a non-Christian who cheats on his wife. And that sin is adultery.

  • Stephen

    DonS

    Even after Mike @ 296 lays it out plain you go back to what we do or do not do. What is the point of that? No one disagrees that adultery is a sin. You are uttering a tautology.

    Infusion/indwelling. Go back, reread and replace every time I used the term “infused” in all its forms with “indwelling” and it won’t change the meaning of what I wrote at all.

    “It’s not about doing. It’s about Christ throwing aside our slavery to sin and giving us the power to obey Him — not completely, of course, since we still have the old nature, as Paul said in the latter part of Romans 7, but avoiding wallowing in and living for our habitual sins.”

    It’s not about doing, though it is about obeying – loving and serving because of the indwelling Spirit’s power, though not complete obedience. It’s about not wallowing or having sinful habits (adultery and stuff like that). So is it something we do or do not do, or isn’t it?

    And so when an atheist shows me mercy and patience and kindness they are being disobedient regardless, but when a Christian does the same things they are being obedient because the Spirit indwells? So then conversely, when a Christian doesn’t do such things, when they wallow or despair or find themselves stuck in a bad, destructive habit, that means God has taken this power away? Does that also mean they are not saved? Or is it the old Baptist backsliding where you can never fall off the end you just fail to make progress. I think I’m catching on. Maybe not.

    Yes, let’s stick to scripture. Did the young ruler know that Jesus was the Christ? Probably not. He called him Teacher, and a good one at that. There’s nothing in the text that suggests he did not believe he kept the law in its entirety. Why do you think the Pharisees were so insulted whenever Jesus turned things around on them? Because they DID keep the law. They were the most strident moralists and religionists beyond what we could imagine. They lived by the book. Orthodox Jews still do.

    Here’s a picture of how they kept the 1st commandment – having no other gods. there is a story recounted in a great, very readable book called The First Century by William Klingaman. In it he tells about a band of Pharisees around the time of Jesus who climbed up onto the temple gates and tore down the image of Caesar. They knew this was certain death and they did it. And they got crucified. Now that is some devotion!!! It would be like Yankee insignias hanging over the entrance to Fenway Park! ;)

    Here’s the point. The rich young ruler did not keep the commandments, as I did in fact note, because he loved something at least enough so that he wasn’t willing to give it up on the word of this itinerant and wise teacher. Can we blame him? That’s not the point of what Jesus is teaching here. Put yourself in the story. You are incredibly pious in every way you can think of and along comes someone who says you lack something. Right there he shows you, as you point out, that he’s not so willing to risk it all on a word. Who is this lesson for, the young man or us. It’s for us. We are the rich young ruler, the sinner who is unable to let go of everything and trust completely in God.

    St. Paul uses Abraham as his model of faith. And what is that model? He was willing utterly to obey God and sacrifice the very promise itself that God had given him in the flesh and blood of Issac, to do what for all appearances was completely contrary to that promise. And based on what? God told him to trust him.

    The rich young ruler not only did not understand what is required (what is required anyway Don @295?). That is, he actually lacked something more than understanding. He lacked faith, the pure heart. He could not see God standing right in front of him. (Mat 5:8)

    “Whatever is not faith is sin.” That’s not Frank or me or tODD saying that. Is faith a kind or “species” of doing DonS. You say it isn’t and then proceed to say it is about not doing some things like wallowing or having sinful habits. It seems that this obedience that comes from the indwelling Spirit is a question of degrees of doing and not doing then. Is that it? Or is it that sometimes there is an indwelling and empowering and sometimes not. Is that the point of Romans 7?

    I know you have repeated yourself many times, but repeating an error does not make it any more true or for that matter, comprehensible.

  • Stephen

    DonS

    Even after Mike @ 296 lays it out plain you go back to what we do or do not do. What is the point of that? No one disagrees that adultery is a sin. You are uttering a tautology.

    Infusion/indwelling. Go back, reread and replace every time I used the term “infused” in all its forms with “indwelling” and it won’t change the meaning of what I wrote at all.

    “It’s not about doing. It’s about Christ throwing aside our slavery to sin and giving us the power to obey Him — not completely, of course, since we still have the old nature, as Paul said in the latter part of Romans 7, but avoiding wallowing in and living for our habitual sins.”

    It’s not about doing, though it is about obeying – loving and serving because of the indwelling Spirit’s power, though not complete obedience. It’s about not wallowing or having sinful habits (adultery and stuff like that). So is it something we do or do not do, or isn’t it?

    And so when an atheist shows me mercy and patience and kindness they are being disobedient regardless, but when a Christian does the same things they are being obedient because the Spirit indwells? So then conversely, when a Christian doesn’t do such things, when they wallow or despair or find themselves stuck in a bad, destructive habit, that means God has taken this power away? Does that also mean they are not saved? Or is it the old Baptist backsliding where you can never fall off the end you just fail to make progress. I think I’m catching on. Maybe not.

    Yes, let’s stick to scripture. Did the young ruler know that Jesus was the Christ? Probably not. He called him Teacher, and a good one at that. There’s nothing in the text that suggests he did not believe he kept the law in its entirety. Why do you think the Pharisees were so insulted whenever Jesus turned things around on them? Because they DID keep the law. They were the most strident moralists and religionists beyond what we could imagine. They lived by the book. Orthodox Jews still do.

    Here’s a picture of how they kept the 1st commandment – having no other gods. there is a story recounted in a great, very readable book called The First Century by William Klingaman. In it he tells about a band of Pharisees around the time of Jesus who climbed up onto the temple gates and tore down the image of Caesar. They knew this was certain death and they did it. And they got crucified. Now that is some devotion!!! It would be like Yankee insignias hanging over the entrance to Fenway Park! ;)

    Here’s the point. The rich young ruler did not keep the commandments, as I did in fact note, because he loved something at least enough so that he wasn’t willing to give it up on the word of this itinerant and wise teacher. Can we blame him? That’s not the point of what Jesus is teaching here. Put yourself in the story. You are incredibly pious in every way you can think of and along comes someone who says you lack something. Right there he shows you, as you point out, that he’s not so willing to risk it all on a word. Who is this lesson for, the young man or us. It’s for us. We are the rich young ruler, the sinner who is unable to let go of everything and trust completely in God.

    St. Paul uses Abraham as his model of faith. And what is that model? He was willing utterly to obey God and sacrifice the very promise itself that God had given him in the flesh and blood of Issac, to do what for all appearances was completely contrary to that promise. And based on what? God told him to trust him.

    The rich young ruler not only did not understand what is required (what is required anyway Don @295?). That is, he actually lacked something more than understanding. He lacked faith, the pure heart. He could not see God standing right in front of him. (Mat 5:8)

    “Whatever is not faith is sin.” That’s not Frank or me or tODD saying that. Is faith a kind or “species” of doing DonS. You say it isn’t and then proceed to say it is about not doing some things like wallowing or having sinful habits. It seems that this obedience that comes from the indwelling Spirit is a question of degrees of doing and not doing then. Is that it? Or is it that sometimes there is an indwelling and empowering and sometimes not. Is that the point of Romans 7?

    I know you have repeated yourself many times, but repeating an error does not make it any more true or for that matter, comprehensible.

  • Stephen

    In an unrelated matter (sort of) – I had the exceptional blessing today to go and see this:

    http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/

    I would recommend going to see it before it closes this Sunday if there is anyone who can get there that is reading this. It’s a once in a lifetime exhibit of the Holy Scriptures. And for those of you who cannot, go to this site:

    http://www.manifoldgreatness.org/

    Click on the multimedia page and watch the film Manifold Greatness on the KJ Bible. I got all choked up seeing these bibles. It was like going to the Louvre or the Uffizi.

  • Stephen

    In an unrelated matter (sort of) – I had the exceptional blessing today to go and see this:

    http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/

    I would recommend going to see it before it closes this Sunday if there is anyone who can get there that is reading this. It’s a once in a lifetime exhibit of the Holy Scriptures. And for those of you who cannot, go to this site:

    http://www.manifoldgreatness.org/

    Click on the multimedia page and watch the film Manifold Greatness on the KJ Bible. I got all choked up seeing these bibles. It was like going to the Louvre or the Uffizi.

  • Grace

    Thank you Stephen, the site is fantastic!

    My husband, mother and myself visited the museum in Golden Gate park, when they were showing the Dead Sea Scrolls. It was a breathtaking time. The lights were dimmed, so as not to damage the delicate pages. I will never forget how wonderful it was.

  • Grace

    Thank you Stephen, the site is fantastic!

    My husband, mother and myself visited the museum in Golden Gate park, when they were showing the Dead Sea Scrolls. It was a breathtaking time. The lights were dimmed, so as not to damage the delicate pages. I will never forget how wonderful it was.

  • Fws

    Don @ 294

    Ok Don. This is pretty good. I would like some clarity. these are not loaded or leading or booby trapped questions. I really would like clarificatin…

    STEPHEN That is why pagans cannot do good works and are different – they do not have the HS infused in them to aid them in “living by the Spirit” which amounts to obedience, obedience which looks like meeting a standard.

    DON NO!!!!!  Pagans can do good works.  Good works are nothing, they are filthy rags of self-righteousness.

    FRANK: wow. We Lutherans teach that good works are necessary. God demands that they be done. He threatens to punish us for not doing them and he promises rewards and even heavenly crowns for doing them. You want to qualify what you said dear brother right? I am not trying to use you words to hang you. ;). I assume you overstated in the process of trying to make a point.

     DON What pagans cannot do is obey God.  

    FRANK I am not getting the content of that word “obey” as you are using it Don. Again, please take my question as a sincere attempt to understand how you are using terms. Is there a bible passage you are thinking of in the way you use obey?

    DON They are in the flesh, and thus slaves to sin, as we were before we were saved.  

    FRANK ok. That gives me more. Gal 5:16?

    DON What Christ does for us is to destroy the power of the flesh over us, by giving us His Spirit.  

    FRANK yes we all agree the bible says this. And we agree that st paul states that, as a believer he sees that he ends up doing the opposite of what he wills to do. How do you put those two truths together Don?

    DON When we live in the Spirit, as Paul explained, there is a war within us between good and evil.  This means that, while we will certainly continue to sin, we will not be enslaved to it (i.e. live for it), and we will have the power to obey God, in love.  

    FRANK ok. Again this is what scriptures say. But doesnt it look like pagans and fake christians also have the war between good and evil in them? All great literature seems to be themed around this. you know what i mean Don and I am sure you dont disagree. You mean something different. What is it?

    DON It’s not lawkeeping.  The law has no power over us any more — we are saved from its condemnation.  Instead, it is serving.  We obey God in order to serve Him and to fellow
    ship with Him here on earth.  

    FRANK. pagans and fake christians think they are doing this. What is it they are missing that the real christians have that is serving and obeying differently?

    DON Again — WE WILL STILL SIN — WE STILL HAVE THE OLD NATURE IN US.  But no one is keeping accounts.  We get up, in the power of the Spirit, and go again.  I hope that is clear.

    FRANK So you agree that all our righteousness is as filthy rags. And that isaiah was describing what it is that believers do. Or is righteousness to be put n quotation marks? Is isaiah describing real righteousness or not?

    Thanks for your patience Don. You too webmonk. Again, we Lutherans disagree with your definition of thE Law and sin. Ok webmonk , you say your definition is lacking. We agree on that . Cool.

  • Fws

    Don @ 294

    Ok Don. This is pretty good. I would like some clarity. these are not loaded or leading or booby trapped questions. I really would like clarificatin…

    STEPHEN That is why pagans cannot do good works and are different – they do not have the HS infused in them to aid them in “living by the Spirit” which amounts to obedience, obedience which looks like meeting a standard.

    DON NO!!!!!  Pagans can do good works.  Good works are nothing, they are filthy rags of self-righteousness.

    FRANK: wow. We Lutherans teach that good works are necessary. God demands that they be done. He threatens to punish us for not doing them and he promises rewards and even heavenly crowns for doing them. You want to qualify what you said dear brother right? I am not trying to use you words to hang you. ;). I assume you overstated in the process of trying to make a point.

     DON What pagans cannot do is obey God.  

    FRANK I am not getting the content of that word “obey” as you are using it Don. Again, please take my question as a sincere attempt to understand how you are using terms. Is there a bible passage you are thinking of in the way you use obey?

    DON They are in the flesh, and thus slaves to sin, as we were before we were saved.  

    FRANK ok. That gives me more. Gal 5:16?

    DON What Christ does for us is to destroy the power of the flesh over us, by giving us His Spirit.  

    FRANK yes we all agree the bible says this. And we agree that st paul states that, as a believer he sees that he ends up doing the opposite of what he wills to do. How do you put those two truths together Don?

    DON When we live in the Spirit, as Paul explained, there is a war within us between good and evil.  This means that, while we will certainly continue to sin, we will not be enslaved to it (i.e. live for it), and we will have the power to obey God, in love.  

    FRANK ok. Again this is what scriptures say. But doesnt it look like pagans and fake christians also have the war between good and evil in them? All great literature seems to be themed around this. you know what i mean Don and I am sure you dont disagree. You mean something different. What is it?

    DON It’s not lawkeeping.  The law has no power over us any more — we are saved from its condemnation.  Instead, it is serving.  We obey God in order to serve Him and to fellow
    ship with Him here on earth.  

    FRANK. pagans and fake christians think they are doing this. What is it they are missing that the real christians have that is serving and obeying differently?

    DON Again — WE WILL STILL SIN — WE STILL HAVE THE OLD NATURE IN US.  But no one is keeping accounts.  We get up, in the power of the Spirit, and go again.  I hope that is clear.

    FRANK So you agree that all our righteousness is as filthy rags. And that isaiah was describing what it is that believers do. Or is righteousness to be put n quotation marks? Is isaiah describing real righteousness or not?

    Thanks for your patience Don. You too webmonk. Again, we Lutherans disagree with your definition of thE Law and sin. Ok webmonk , you say your definition is lacking. We agree on that . Cool.

  • Fws

    Don and webmonk

    We all agree that the young rich man was not keeping the law. Stephen was trying to make a point.
    That point was this: the rich young ruler is still us even after we are born again. We still are missing what he was missing.

    Lutherans say that what he was missing is origina sin. It is the definition or root of sin.

    So that makes sense out of this doesnt it?

    “Whatever is not of faith is sin”.

    the problem with webmonks definition of the law and sin is that it could be understood in a way i am certain webmonk does not mean it. If sin is about disobedience, then righteousness must be in our obedience. Then it is not in Christ.

    So please clarify your definition to avoid this reading .
    Fair enough?

  • Fws

    Don and webmonk

    We all agree that the young rich man was not keeping the law. Stephen was trying to make a point.
    That point was this: the rich young ruler is still us even after we are born again. We still are missing what he was missing.

    Lutherans say that what he was missing is origina sin. It is the definition or root of sin.

    So that makes sense out of this doesnt it?

    “Whatever is not of faith is sin”.

    the problem with webmonks definition of the law and sin is that it could be understood in a way i am certain webmonk does not mean it. If sin is about disobedience, then righteousness must be in our obedience. Then it is not in Christ.

    So please clarify your definition to avoid this reading .
    Fair enough?

  • Fws

    Webmonk and don s

    Did you miss my assertion that the image of God and original innocence was , for adam the SAME before the fall, after the fall and will be in the resurrection? In all three the righteousness of Adam was and is , alone faith, alone, in the works of another alone?

    Agree?

  • Fws

    Webmonk and don s

    Did you miss my assertion that the image of God and original innocence was , for adam the SAME before the fall, after the fall and will be in the resurrection? In all three the righteousness of Adam was and is , alone faith, alone, in the works of another alone?

    Agree?

  • Grace

    Typical fws – but of course ‘some sins are not sin per. se.

  • Grace

    Typical fws – but of course ‘some sins are not sin per. se.

  • Stephen

    I know that this tread is dead, but just in case anyone stops by I just read this in Luke Chapter 1:

    5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly.

    So right off the bat we have that same thing in Luke, but this time rather than from the mouth of one of the persons in the story, we have the evangelist himself making the claim that there were (are!) Jews who keep the commandments – ALL OF THEM. And yet they lack one thing . . .

  • Stephen

    I know that this tread is dead, but just in case anyone stops by I just read this in Luke Chapter 1:

    5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly.

    So right off the bat we have that same thing in Luke, but this time rather than from the mouth of one of the persons in the story, we have the evangelist himself making the claim that there were (are!) Jews who keep the commandments – ALL OF THEM. And yet they lack one thing . . .


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