Mr. “Wasn’t Having Any” Responds to Christians

The other day I posted a piece called Jesus the Decider: Who Gets Into Heaven?, in which I recounted a conversation I’d overheard between a proselytizing Christian and “a guy who Wasn’t Having Any,” whom I referred to as WHA.

WHA’s Big Point was that there is no logical basis for Christians to so heavily rely upon John 14:6 (“No one comes to the Father except through me”) as proof that only Christians can get into heaven or reside with God in the afterlife. His contention was/is that the words of Christ right there don’t actually say that. “[John 14:6] doesn’t say you have to be a Christian in order to get into heaven,” said WHA. “All it says is that Jesus decides who does and doesn’t get into heaven. ‘You have to go through me to get into heaven’ isn’t the same as, “You have to be a Christian to get into heaven.’”

Anyway, read the whole piece if you’re interested. If you do, and are, you might then be interested to know that this morning WHA responded to the many responses left to him in the comments section of “Jesus the Decider.” WHA (whose real name is Ken H.) asked me to post the below, which is from him. (Warning: It’s a little rough. “Do you mind if I say what I really think?” Ken asked me. I answered him no, of course I don’t — and below is what I got. I figured I’d post it as is. Why not? We Christians can take it, yes? And should, maybe, even, a little.)

Hello, all. I want to thank you for your thoughtful input to my question about John 14:6. To be honest, I didn’t read much in what you wrote that directly dealt with my contention that Christians need to stop relying on John 14:6 as proof that heaven (assuming there is such a place) is the exclusive domain of Christians. That’s really all I was saying. I’ve had that quote thrown at me by Christians quite a lot, and I always think, “Yeah, but that quote doesn’t say that.” That can be a little frustrating. I do appreciate everyone who took the time to answer me, though.

As to the larger and I guess more basic question of why I and others like me find it so challenging to believe in your Christ, I’m sure I have nothing to say beyond anything I’m sure you’ve heard before. (In fact, what the non-Christians say in John’s excellent blog piece, “What Non-Christians Want Christians to Hear” pretty fully covers it. I think that post should be required reading for all Christians.) Personally — and in a nutshell — it’s the cosmic arrogance of Christians that turns me off. I have a natural resistance to any faith system that insists all other faiths are flat-out wrong: that’s such a crude position. It’s so brutally condescending, so terribly unhelpful in this time of societal strife and the terror born of fundamentalists’ passions. To insist that your religion is the only true religion is so profoundly disrespectful that it can’t smack of anything but an almost absurd immaturity.

You can’t say all concepts of God, and all systems of faith, and all personal encounters with the universal divine that aren’t grounded in the truth of Christianity are invalid, or inadequate, or sadly delusional, and expect anyone outside of your faith to take you seriously. On the face of it, such an attitude is just so … repellingly smug, for one. What child doesn’t think he’s the center of the world, and that his thoughts are the only thoughts that matter? It’s such an undeveloped attitude to take.

Also, this business with gays and lesbians being automatically condemned to hell? It’s like a joke from medieval times — only it’s not funny at all. The texts that Christians rely upon to condemn homosexuality can be legitimately understood as not condemning gays and lesbians at all. That the vast majority of Christians ignore that scholarship, ignore that understanding, ignore that fact, can’t help but serve as further proof that what so many Christians really want isn’t to spread the love and compassion of which Christ himself was such a champion, but to instead continue to use their “faith” for no purpose more uplifting or wholesome than to fuel the judgemental, self-righteous, mean-spirited ego trip they’re on.

A lot of Christians are nothing more than spiritual bullies who go around using the Bible as a club. (And a lot aren’t, too, I know.) It’s weak. It’s embarassing. Finally, and mostly, it’s boring.

I know I’m sounding mean here, but I’m just trying to be succinct. My humble opinion, overall, is that Christians need to wake up, and start realizing how much of what they say and do has no more to do with the true spirit of Christ than Osama Bin Laden has to do with the true spirit of Islam.

Thanks for listening. I really, really appreciate it. One so often gets the very distinct feeling that Christians can only talk, and can never listen. I hope this time proves the exception. Thanks again.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • JCinBoulder

    Bill H makes some good points, but misses a gigantic one. All religious systems that are not pantheistic in nature (god is all and all is god) make exclusivity claims. Exclusivity claims are not arrogant, people making them can be arrogant. As Christians we are called to share the truth IN LOVE.

    The key in my view to effective evangelism is not to convince them that only Christians go to heaven, but first that all men (and women) need a savior, Christians included. Once the unbeleiver understands that his percieved righteousness is as filthy rags them and only then can they be pointed toward Christ.

  • Travis S.

    While I think that was a good, honest post, I have to take a different stance. Instead of taking one verse that Jesus spoke and building your argument on it, try taking into account ALL that He said and did and what the bible as a whole says. Jesus said clearly in John 3 (not putting verse number in hopes that reader will read the whole chapter or book), "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." That is the prerequisite for ALL people on the face of the planet-past, present, and future. See also John 6 and 11. In Mark 8 Jesus said, "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" and in Matthew 10, "And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me." Please read also Galatians 5, where Paul gives a description of both the born-again person and the person who has not been born again. Let's not sugar-coat the gospel brothers and sisters(talking to professing Christians)! That only does the glory of God a disservice. The prophet Jeremaiah, in chapter 17 said, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Therefore, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith (born again); prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" (2 Corinthians 13, parenthesis mine).

  • Lynn

    Hello Ken H. (WHA). I thank you for your very honest and open reply and have received your constructive comments with my eyes and mind wide open. As I had mentioned in an earlier post, I believe that faith is the first step in any (if you will) "belief system." But, before I go on, I want to clarify that I am thinking from my "right brain" as a lot of women do. Therefore any approach to "logic" is rather foreign to me. Based on this, I reinterate the importance of faith when it comes to believing in Jesus Christ.

    I do not know if you have read the bible, either portions or verses, but it does state that all the faith you would have to have would be the size of a "mustard seed" to believe in Jesus Christ. That particular seed is pretty darn tiny. And the bible states that with that faith…we are to come "like or as a child"…unassuming, without much knowledge or experience. I guess I might paraphrase that to mean open-minded, trusting, vulnerable. With that in mind, I offer you another challenge…would you want to or could you do that?

    I apologize if I did not specificly answer your question from John chapter 14. I really was thrown a curve by all the responses and got kind of lost in them. What I do know, is that the Lord loves me. He has proven it to me over and over again. And His love has carried me through many, many terrible things in my short lifetime. He is such an awesome God and I truly hope you get to know Him. His love surpasses any kind of love mankind could offer you.

    Thanks for reading my post.

  • arlywn

    YAY!!!! Oh… was that not a yay moment?…. couldva sworn it was. Either way, It was a great post. Both from you and Mr. Ken H. Very designed, inspired, and… said. Why must there always be these discussions that start vwith a great question, then somehow drift… to a bashing of religions, people and spiritualness.

    This is why no one learns anything about religion. Its all talk, all faith and… people get too swept up in the emotions of an opinion to understand its an opinion… that happens to be shared by lots of people…. actually religions are more of a cult… I’m rambling, great job guys!

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com Skerrib

    I thought Ken's response was sort of moving, in a way…is that weird??

  • http://angelbearoh.wordpress.com angelbearoh

    It never occurred to me before that John 14:6 really means that Jesus Christ is the sole arbitor of whether or not I would enter heaven. It gives me a whole new, more wide open way of looking at this verse.

    After learning that Jesus would be this arbitor, I would have to say, whassa matter? Can we not trust our own Lord to capably decide who enters Heaven and who doesn’t? Do we have to micromanage how He does it by putting “Christians Only” rules on it?

    Jesus never needed our input in deciding how he would create the earth, he never needed out input in deciding on a plan of salvation for us, and He certainly needs no input on deciding who are the sheep and who are the goats.

  • Clyde Dishong

    Hi Ken H- Really appreciate your reply. Please be mindful of the fact that God gives "free-will", we can accept him or reject him. Christians ,by faith, believe that Christianity is the only way to salvation. Muslims believe "by faith" that their belief is the only, etc. Who is right?, we will all have to wait to the "end" to find out. I am risking my eternity on my belief , and others samo. Admittedly, Christianity is in a Theological and Doctrinal "mess" due to man's disobedience and violating of Revelations C22v18&19. We can not even agree on the Trinity or lack of such. Is "God is God, Jesus is God, the Holy Spirit is God" true or not?

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Skerrib: No, I don't think your finding Ken's response moving is weird at all. I feel the exact same way about it. Thanks for saying it.

  • Cibola

    That was a touching post Ken. So often people are so immersed in their own culture that it’s hard for them to realize how different things are in other places and other lives, even within the US, (much less the whole world.) Our view is so limited and sometimes we have to step back and try to see the bigger picture. Let's think about that for a second. There is a God. He is not “out there” but is here with us, through all and in all. He has a love for all of humanity that is far beyond our understanding. He knows each one of us intimately and wants a relationship with us. Our selfishness and desire to do what’s wrong keeps us apart from him, so he fixed that problem. Jesus paid the price to open the way to the Father. Like everyone has been talking about on this blog, the Bible says that belief in Jesus is the key to receiving that new relationship with God. Okay, so that’s like the overview, and then there’s the little reality of our lives. We have to believe in Jesus to receive that acceptance into a relationship with the Father. But what does believe mean? At some point in time when you become a “believer in Christ” do you have to believe non-stop without wavering for the rest of your life? If that’s the case, I know that I’m in big trouble. Does one second of belief count and then a person is forgiven? Two seconds? Three? What if anyone who even believed that they need a savior for even a fraction of a second at any point in their life was allowed back into a relationship with his/her Creator? Isn’t that more consistent with a God who is love and so completely desires communion with his creatures? And wouldn’t it make sense that he would understand who they are and accept their love in whatever form it takes? We can’t judge each other and make such a narrow way to God. He is the only one who knows what’s in each heart, and if he is has such an immense love, we can trust him. I think that there are really very few people who have completely rejected God and his salvation throughout their entire life. Probably most everyone has believed at one time or another during their life, and is welcomed into God’s presence. Each circumstance and culture is so different, so the living out of that presence will be different. It has been my experience that Christianity is a very alive and real way to experience God. There is something special about people who are trying to live real Christianity, but there are also a whole bunch of amazing, special, loving people out there who are seeking love in their lives, but without the Christianity part. I’ve spent time in other cultures and seen God bringing joy to people in many different ways. Who are we to judge?

  • http://mamaneeds2rant.wordpress.com mamaneeds2rant

    WHA (or Ken H), I understand exactly where you're coming from. I don't think any living human being can know, or even comprehend our role in the universe. And yes, it is arrogant to think we have that capacity. For that reason, I can not believe in any organized religion, although I respect religion's role in keeping society more civilized (with the exception of religious conflicts). And I respect those people that truly are believers, and do what they need to do to better themselves and society. I DO believe that there is a tangible good (God?) vs. evil (Satan) and that all of us should do what we can to make sure that the evil in the world never overtakes the good.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    That was great, Cibola. You guys have all written some wonderful stuff. Terrific.

  • http://www.locavore4lore.wordpress.com locavore4lore

    Author (and so much more, of course!) C.S. Lewis once said that "Christians are both the best, and the worst, advertisement for Christianity."

    Many people are arrogant and childish in their deeply-held beliefs; whether it's religion or just politics, sports teams, and reality shows–it's pretty much a function of human nature. I've been startled and appalled by the beliefs of both fellow Christians and non-believers alike, and by the narrow-minded rage–again, on both sides–that a simple question or discussion can spark.

    Listening respectfully is helpful. Considering why you believe what you believe is helpful. Ranting at someone who's not interested in listening respectfully (or who has never really thought about what they believe and why) is not helpful,and often tantamount to disaster–it ends the possibility of discussion before it begins.

    Faith without knowledge can be childish; knowledge without faith can be arrogant. A little more humility on both sides would be a good place to start the conversation.

  • http://rltjs.wordpress.com Rod

    "no one goes to the father except through me", literal or figurative, I think projects a Christ that is coercive. I doubt if John put it right, or translation of John is the best or tight.

    Whatever, I think it means: through what Christ was telling people around him, which are probably

    1. contradictory to what the pharisees held and practiced. Christ was a critic.

    2. There existed some sort of competition between the breakaway group and the established one which was Judaism.

    Mine are just probabilities of course.

  • Candace

    Didn't pass my sniff test until I personally met the author of the book.

    Then all the debate was over (for me anyway) and life really began.

  • Ingrid

    I am going to say first that I haven't read any of the comments that came before mine. That said if I repeat a sentiment I apologize upfront. Now on to Mr. WHA or Ken. AMEN! Yep, I commend your candor and I think that it takes a non Christian like you to properly put into perspective the true problem with beating (or as you put it clubbing) other people over the head with our bible. I commend your courage to say that in a predominately Christian crowd. I have for years struggled with faith. Jumping from one faith to the next until I ended up feet first in Christianity because for my life, my circumstances and my needs it fit. This was the best way for me to see, feel and worship God.

    Having been disillusioned with church for the last two years I began to question my faith and wonder if yet again I had chosen wrong when God spoke to me quietly saying that He was still here even if the people of the church had created an atmosphere that was anything but holy. I believe that is the point. No matter how you choose to believe God is still here and he is completely sovereign. In that sovereignty he has the choice. He can do whatever he wants, when he wants and to whom he wants. He can use whomever he chooses to teach of his divine love and power. Therefore, there is a certain level of arrogance that is rather childish to assume that we are smart enough to know the mind of God and who he will decide gets into heaven and who will burn in hell.

    You hit the nail on the head and I am always refreshed and inspired by those willing to say just that. As Christians we could learn so much about God just by being open to the possibility that we are not the only ones God loves. And no matter what the closed minded folks will say the point of sending Jesus was to show God's love to everyone. That one sacrifice open the gates to anyone.

    Now, I choose to agree with your assessment that the bible verse in question says that Jesus has the last say. In order to expedite the choice I choose him. However, does that say that those living in this world who are much better at humanity than me won't get in? I hope not.

    Thank you.

  • http://ifthenknots.wordpress.com/ jrshipley

    I would have thought that Christians would be much more sympathetic to WHA’s reading of John 14:6. A reading that has Jesus saying that you have to be a Christian to go to heaven (and not hell) would be evidence against Christianity for any theist that took benevolence to be a quality of God. It’s obvious (to me) that a benevolent Being would not punish the Dalai Lama just for having the wrong belief, especially given the paucity of hard evidence for any one religion over another. I suppose one could respond to this point by not having hell as the only alternative to heaven. The Lama could go to purgatory and get converted to Christianity there or maybe just cease to exist after death. But if you’re thinking it’s either heaven or hell and no other option then you believe in a cruel God if you think that Christianity is the only way into heaven.

    Another point I’d like to make about arrogance. A mormon missionary approached me the other day telling me that I should convert to mormonism because Joseph Smith wrote a backwards poem and there’s no way he could have done that with his level of education. I told him that was a terrible argument and that his beliefs didn’t even pass the sniff test for me; it wasn’t even worth the investment of time to learn more. Was that arrogant? Maybe, but I still think it was right. I think most people, Christians included, dismiss all kinds of claims using the “sniff test” standard. I just think that some people are more consistent than others in applying this standard. So, if you’re a Christian and you’re proselytizing to someone that’s not having any of it you might consider their perspective.

    Forget for a second that you already believe the Bible. Some one comes up to you and says that they’ve got a 2000 old book written by pre-scientific desert tribe. They explain to you that God had to sacrifice himself to himself to save us from him. They tell you that the only way into heaven is to believe what’s said in the book and to show up every Sunday, sing just the right songs, and participate in ritualized flesh eating and blood drinking.

    Does that pass your sniff test?

  • Candace

    This particular discussion has been twiggling something in my brain, and since the friend I am visiting this weekend is taking a nap, I decided to chase it down.

    One of the things that I think we followers of Christ frequently forget is that we have been well cautioned that much of this that we hold so dear WILL seem like utter nonsense to the general population. It is intended to be that way, too, apparently, for reasons of His own.

    One passage that informs us on this is found in 1 Corinthians. I quote “The Message” version of the Bible here, because the language is more accessible:

    (quote) “18-21The Message that points to Christ on the Cross seems like sheer silliness to those hellbent on destruction, but for those on the way of salvation it makes perfect sense. This is the way God works, and most powerfully as it turns out. It’s written,

    I’ll turn conventional wisdom on its head,

    I’ll expose so-called experts as crackpots.

    So where can you find someone truly wise, truly educated, truly intelligent in this day and age? Hasn’t God exposed it all as pretentious nonsense? Since the world in all its fancy wisdom never had a clue when it came to knowing God, God in his wisdom took delight in using what the world considered dumb—preaching, of all things!—to bring those who trust him into the way of salvation.

    22-25While Jews clamor for miraculous demonstrations and Greeks go in for philosophical wisdom, we go right on proclaiming Christ, the Crucified. Jews treat this like an anti-miracle—and Greeks pass it off as absurd. But to us who are personally called by God himself—both Jews and Greeks—Christ is God’s ultimate miracle and wisdom all wrapped up in one. Human wisdom is so tinny, so impotent, next to the seeming absurdity of God. Human strength can’t begin to compete with God’s “weakness.” (end quote)

    I used to fit the description of the Greek perfectly, before I was called. Why was I called? I haven’t a clue. Does it sound arrogant to someone who has not been called, to even say that I have been? I have no doubt it does. Heck, it still sounds arrogant to ME, sometimes.

    But that’s probably what keeps me humble enough to refrain from debating and arguing with people, trying to convert them. Because I don’t think it’s up to me to convert people. I think that’s God’s job.

    As far as I can tell, all I am supposed to do is tell the truth as I see it, WITH LOVE (very important, that part). I see no license in the Bible for using the Bible as a head-thumping device on others. (It thumps ME on the head on a regular basis, however.)

    Until I was almost 50 years old, I was a dyed-in-the-wool “Greek”, firmly entrenched in my own opinion that the whole Christian thing (indeed, all religions) was (were) foolishness. I used to love to argue and debate and pick apart and make fun of it all. I relished it, and most of the time I won the argument.

    Then, suddenly, I was a child of God, and Jesus had died to redeem me, and I knew to the very center of my being what the truth was. Ha-ha, the joke was on me. But I was laughing, too. Still can’t wipe the smile off my face.

    I’m cognisant of the fact I am still failing to address Ken H’s discussion/question/argument. At least I’m not doing so directly. I will say I think he’s right in a lot of ways. He is certainly telling his truth, and I love that he is doing so. I hope he keeps right at it.

    But in the end, Christians are not Christ. And just because some of us are boors and/or ignoramuses and/or thugs, doesn’t make Christ any less than who He was.

    To genuinely evaluate Christianity, it is necessary to engage Jesus, one-on-one. And once you have, the rest of the “head game” becomes … almost moot, in a way.

    YMMV

  • heatlight

    hmmm… but ALL faiths say that all other faiths are at least sometimes wrong, even yours sir (Ken H), for you believe that those faiths are wrong to say that their are the ‘only way’ (i.e. – you, apparently, believe that yours – or at least all religions that agree with yours on this central point – is the ‘only way’, and that all of the religions which disagree with you on this are wrong, at least to the degree that they don’t accept your supposed – but not actual – ‘relativity’ when concerning religious belief). in fact, your ‘meta-religion’, which is set up somewhere near God, claims to be the interpreter of ALL other religious truth, recognizing that all others are mistaken, and that they all lead to the same place. sounds pretty arrogant to me.

  • http://paarsurrey.wordpress.com/ paarsurrey

    Quote from your post:

    1.No one comes to the Father except through me

    2.my contention that Christians need to stop relying on John 14:6 as proof that heaven (assuming there is such a place) is the exclusive domain of Christians.

    3.To insist that your religion is the only true religion is so profoundly disrespectful that it can’t smack of anything but an almost absurd immaturity.

    4.You can’t say all concepts of God, and all systems of faith, and all personal encounters with the universal divine that aren’t grounded in the truth of Christianity are invalid, or inadequate, or sadly delusional, and expect anyone outside of your faith to take you seriously.

    5.A lot of Christians are nothing more than spiritual bullies who go around using the Bible as a club. (And a lot aren’t, too, I know.) It’s weak. It’s embarassing. Finally, and mostly, it’s boring.

    6.Christians can only talk, and can never listen.

    ___________________________________________________________________

    Hi

    I leave it for the Christians as to how they come out of their narrow approach they have about other religions and how GodAllahYHWH guided other regions of the world.

    Like Jesus guided humanity in Judea; and later Christianity spread in the West; sameway Buddha guided humanity in the East.

    The PromisedMessiah 1835-1908 enumerates this scenario ; and I quote from him:

    Let it be clear that Buddhist scriptures have made available to us evidence of various kinds, which, on the whole, is enough to prove that Jesus (on whom be peace) must have come to the Punjab and Kashmir, etc. I set out this evidence herein, so that all impartial people may first study it, and then by arranging it as a connected account in their minds, may themselves come to the aforesaid conclusion. Here is the evidence.

    First: the titles given to the Buddha are similar to the titles given to Jesus. Likewise, the events of the life of Buddha resemble those of the life of Jesus. The reference here, however, is to the Buddhism of places within the boundaries of Tibet, like Leh, Lhasa, Gilgit and Hams, etc., which are the places about which it is proved that they were visited by Jesus. With reference to the similarity of titles, it is enough to point out, that if, for example, Jesus (on whom be peace) calls himself the Light in his teachings, so, Gautama has been named the Buddha, which in Sanskrit means Light.2

    If Jesus has been called the Master2 in the gospel, so the Buddha has been called Sasta or the Master; if Jesus has been called Blessed in the Gospels, so the Buddha has been named Sugt, i.e., the Blessed. If Jesus has been called Prince, so has the Buddha been called Prince. Jesus has also been described by the Gospels as one who fulfils the object of his coming, so has the Buddha been called in Buddhistic scriptures Siddhartha i.e., one who fulfils the object of his coming.

    Jesus has also been called by the Gospels the Refuge of the Tired, so has the Buddha in Buddhistic scriptures been called Asarn Sarm, i.e., the refuge of the refugeless. Jesus has also been called by the Gospels King, though he interpreted it as King of the Kingdom of Heaven, so also the Buddha has been called King. The similarity of events is proved by events such as these. Just as Jesus was tempted by the Devil with the riches and kingdoms of the world provided he prostrated himself to him, so was Buddha tempted when the Devil said to him that he would give him the pomp and splendour of kings if he abandoned the severity of his living and returned home. But, just as Jesus did not obey the Devil, so, it is recorded, the Buddha did not obey him. See Buddhism by T. W. Rhys Davids3; and Buddhism by Sir Monier Monier Williams4.

    This shows that the same titles which Jesus ascribes in the gospels to himself, have in Buddhistic books, which were compiled much later, been similarly ascribed to the Buddha; and, just as Jesus was tempted by the Devil, so these books claim that the Buddha also was tempted by the Devil; nay, the account of the temptation of the Buddha as stated in these books, is longer than the account of the temptation of Jesus in the Christian Gospels.

    It is recorded that when the Devil offered him the temptation of wealth and kingly honour, the Buddha was inclined to return home. He, however, did not obey this desire. But the same Devil met him again one night, bringing with him all his progeny, and frightened him by frightful appearances. To the Buddha these Devils appeared like snakes which were emitting fire from their mouths. The snakes began to throw fire and poison towards him but their poison was turned into flowers and the fire made a halo round the Buddha.

    The Devil not having succeeded thus, called sixteen of his daughters, and asked them to reveal their beauty to the Buddha, but the latter was still unmoved. The Devil was balked in his designs. He adopted other means, but was unable to do anything against the steadfast Buddha, who continued to travel through higher and higher stages of spirituality, and after a long night, that is, after severe and protracted trials, he overcame his enemy the Devil; the Light of True Knowledge dawned upon him and, with the coming of the morning, i.e. as soon as his trials were over, he came to know all. The day this great battle ended was the day of the birth of Buddhism. Gautama was 35 years old then; he was called the Buddha or the Light and the Tree under which he was sitting at the time came to be known as the Tree of Light.

    Now, if you open and see the Bible you will find how the Temptation of the Buddha resembles the Temptation of Jesus, so much so, that the Buddha’s age was nearly the same at that time as the age of Jesus. As it appears from Buddhist literature, the Devil did not appear to the Buddha in a corporeal visible form. It was a spectacle seen only by the Buddha.

    http://www.alislam.org/library/books/jesus-in-india/ch4.html

    It is very clear from the above that the titles given to Jesus and his teachings are very similar to that of Buddha. The Christians should understand that there is no moral case, in my opinion, for preferring Jesus over Buddha.

    Thanks

    I am an Ahmadi peaceful Muslim

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  • Lynn

    John, may I intrude on your blog one more time regarding your meeting with Ken H.?(WHA) I would like to share something more with him. I don't know if he is still reading the posts that have been written on your blog, but I would like to pass something on to him.

    Hello Ken H.

    As I was doing some reading this morning, you came to mind. If I may, without belaboring this conversation too much longer, I would like to mention some things that may be of interest to you. First of all, I thank you for your time and ask you to bear with me here…one more time. I don't know if you have read anything in the bible about Paul the apostle, but the way he writes and expresses himself is pretty unique, at least to me. I am not a student or scholar of biblical history, semantics or apologetics, but find Paul's writings intriguing. Here is a very brief background about Paul.

    According to what I have read and remember, Paul comes into the picture of the early church, in the book of Acts. (He was known as Saul at first, and then later on went by the name of Paul.) In the last portion of Acts chapter 7 (The Message version) it states that Saul was present at Stephen's stoning…(Stephen was a chosen disciple of the church in its infancy) and that Saul was actually congratulating the killers.

    In chapter 8 of Acts- verse 3, it states that Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. Then in Acts, chapter 9, verses 1-31, it describes Saul's dramatic "conversion" and the beginning of his ministry. Saul isn't mentioned again (I don't think) until Acts chapter 11, verse 25, where it briefly states that Barnabas took Saul under his wing and they spent a year together. From then on, Saul is referred to as Paul – Acts 13: 9. The remaining 15 chapters of Acts tell of Paul's missionary journeys…interesting stuff.

    I would like to keep this post short. So, in conclusion…as I was reading in the book of Romans this morning, I was thinking that you might be interested in reading Paul's letters to the early "believers." (Please see the reference regarding believers, in Acts 11: 25.) According to the table of contents of our modern day christian bibles, Paul's letters to the Romans is first in line. His letters to the Romans gets pretty thick with logic, regarding what the Lord has laid upon his heart to tell, but still presents the truth regarding Jesus Christ, without apology.

    And as a final side note, I believe there is some debate that Paul's letters may not be in "chronological" order. Nonetheless, the content of his letters is worth the read, in my opinion.

    Thank you for your time and patience Ken. I hope I have not bored you with my comments.

    PS…I have found that biblegateway.com is an excellent online resource to look up scripture verses.

    Thanks John for your blog and the freedom you give us to express what is on our minds and hearts.

  • Teabie

    Hi Ken H. (WHA), thanks for writing that wonderful post. You really gave much thought into it, and you were kind enough to understand that not ALL Christians behave similarly, in a manner which would drive non-believers insane.

    I am a new believer myself, having only known God personally in 2006. I am a Singaporean Chinese, so I grew up in an environment where God was portrayed as a “foreigner” – thanks to artists who kept drawing Him as an old Caucasian. The Bible used to be primarily in English, and since both my parents were exclusively Chinese-speaking, I never really knew what the Bible was.

    Now, I went to a Catholic school for 10 years in Singapore, and Singapore is an English-speaking country, so I had no trouble accessing the Bible when I was older. But the Bible remained a book, dead and illogical to me for more than a decade. I disliked the evangelicals then, they ambushed me on my way home from school, and they annoyed me with threats of hell, fire and retribution. Look, the culture I grew up with, we also had our own “gods” who would judge you, throw you into 7 levels of hell (depending on the severity of your sins) and eventually, you continue to burn there for eternity. Not very different now, but the Christian evangelicals really turned me off from Christianity – the religion itself, I must add. Being in a Catholic school wasn’t conducive to knowing who God was. All I knew was that He demanded us to curtsey before sitting down, we had to keep kneeling, sing hymns and all that jazz. I wasn’t impressed either, at the grand age of 6.

    At 26, I met Him. I met Him face-to-face. He called me by my name, He pursued me, I buckled down and surrendered. I knew nothing about the Bible. I didn’t know “common verses”, I couldn’t even recite anything remotely from the Bible. I was a postgraduate student in Australia, and I was remotely dissatisfied with everything in my life. And then He came and knocked on my door. Relentlessly. I had always fled from churches, I looked upon them as grand institutions of orthodox brainwashing places, where people wouldn’t haul them to the nearest courts for ‘instilling stuffs’ into people’s brains. I visited a cell group gathering at a friend’s insistence and was appalled at how bigoted they were. I have friends who are gay (boys and girls alike), and I was ticked at the idea that they were deemed so “little” by these Christians. Good grief.

    But yes, I met Him supernatually, and He changed my life forever. He revealed Himself as a God with love, unconditional love that no one could ever match up, and I realised why those hounding evangelicals put themselves on the streets to be abused verbally – they wanted to share this love to everyone else. We’re humans, we can never quite express something accurately. It always comes out wrong, insensitive, brute, crude, “way-off”, whatever. We wonder why guys never get girls, and girls give confusing messages. There we go! Non-believers will never experience God through humans. As believers, we can do everything we can, but ultimately, God is the only one who can properly show everyone who He REALLY is.

    I’m Chinese, and my early ancestors hail from China. If we take John 14:6 very literally, it means approximately 3000 years of Chinese generation were doomed to hell. It would also mean aborted foetuses, young children, isolated tribe members in the Amazons etc would all be heading to hell, simply because they had never heard of God, or because the Bible wasn’t translated in their languages. I only picked up the Bible because God touched me, and I began a fervent search for Him. It was akin to tasting something so sweet, I went to Google for it. I HAD to find out more. How can I know more? The Bible then became alive for me, the verses ceased to become words, but rather, conversations which God and I dwelled into. They became answers to my questions, and I never looked at any verse in isolation. I’m a lawyer by training, and you don’t pick apart His words. You must read it in the context it was written. And I’m also sorry to say, the English language isn’t THE language of the world. No language is, when it comes to God. Any language fails in conveying accurately what a person really is, or feels, or thinks. It must be from Him, when He comes into your life, that feeling of salvation, unconditional love and security surpasses words in any languages. I chase after Him now, only picking up the Bible because it’s my gateway to knowing Him, and also because I have the Holy Spirit to guide me through the words. God is a supernatural entity, you cannot logicalise Him, nor can you pick Him apart with English, or Arab, or whatever language for that matter.

    I was a non-believer for 26 years of my life, and I was also suddenly a Christian, like John. But I understand where you’re coming from, Ken. I do, I know. I can’t say I TOTALLY empathise, but I may have a general idea, and all I can tell you is, God is a really loving mighty God, and I pray that He’ll come into your life soon. As Christians, I guess we are invasive, sometimes tactless and come across as bigots. I understand, I’d despised them myself. But I have been embraced by God, I look upon the Bible differently now because I WANT to know more about Him. Perceptions have changed. I can’t say you’re wrong, but similarly, you cannot dismiss my experience. All in all, may you find peace in your journey through life and I really thank you for such a thought-provoking article. It has really helped me remember my pre-believing days, and that those days were a journey to help me better appreciate God’s presence in my life now.

  • Diane T.

    I am writing to Ken. I say forgive us Ken for coming across to you as smug and arrogant. I get the picture that Jesus didn't come a cross as being "Right" so much as being Life and prooved who was by His miracles and his love for those that the Religious people of His time rejected. It is not so much that God condemns sinners, because He condemned His Son in our place each and eveyone to the best and the least. But that He wants to fit us for a better life a life He promises through His Son. I know it sounds infantile to just believe this simple truth but His spirit also says in the book of Romans that the world by it's own Wisdom chooses not to know Him.

    Ken I would say take your eyes off of people and go to Him directly. If the God of the "Christian" is really nothing but fabrication then what have you lost….but if He is who He says He is then you hve lost everything.

  • Christy G.

    Ken I get it. I get everything that you said! I am a Christian and I often have those same thoughts.

    I have had gay friends that I loved, I think about the suffering of the world, those family members of mine who deny Jesus…what does this all mean for them.

    I dont know is my answer, but now that you have made me realize that not only was the Bible saying that Christians were going to Heaven, but that Jesus got to decide who and when I feel better about it!

    Jesus is all heart.

    If you were on trial and your Judge and Jury were your mother, grandmother, father…think of who has loved you the hardest and most…who would the verdict be for?

    I think your family can love you but maybe if they knew your darkest most thoughts they would be surprised. For me I love Jesus because he knows all of my darkness and he calls me innocent anyway.

    Christians are cruel and judgemental at times. Jesus is not.

    You may have just unearthed the greatest missing detail in the puzzel for me.

    Thank you.

  • Joel

    Diane – please, do not apologize for me. God doesn't need for us to apologize on His behalf either. He is, after all, God. His ways are much higher than ours…but He has explained His ways through His holy scriptures.

    One thing that people do not seem to understand is that "mankind" has brought this "choice" of Jesus upon themselves. And God will hold all accountable who reject Jesus – and yes, accountable means eternal hell fire. Why? Let me follow the Biblical path…

    Adam and Eve sin and yet mankind is shown grace by God's own hand. He made tunicks of skin and clothed them. Death [blood] was the penalty for eating the forbidden fruit but God spared mankind, but not without a price. God made him responsible for the first death recorded in Scripture – that of the animal(s) which provided proper clothing for the new life he faced.

    Mankind kept their knowledge of God after the Garden of Eden but eventually the desire to serve one's self (Cain) brought more death and separation. The worlds population grew and men, of their own accord, walked away from God and followed after their own desires. And God was "grieved" in His heart that He had made man. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

    Through man in the garden, sin came upon us all – and its penalty of death. Man continued his rebellious nature until God decided to destroy the world by flood. Except, of course, Noah and his family.

    The world had a new start – man with God that is. But mankind grew out of control yet again. How can that be? One man and his family was saved and they started the "tribes" of men again. God's grace allowed this and mankind was so thankful that [he] never forgot the Lord and His goodness ever again….oh, wait, that's not right. Mankind walked away from God again. And not only did mankind walk away from God, they left Him in a closet and moved away. Clearly evident because of the many "tribes" of men who have never heard about God. I wonder, is that God's fault or will those who went before us be held accountable for their silence about God and His goodness?

    Now, God has reached out again through Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son. And His blood was poured out to "clothe" all who will come to Him and call upon His name, the name of Jesus. The name that is above all names and, by which, man can know forgiveness of sin and salvation. "For there is no other name by which men must be saved."

    You see, God Himself came to do what mankind refused to do…proclaim Himself to the world. And still, the world would rather explain Him away with such words as "tolerance" because that is what, as they say, God is like – God is love…or tolerance. Or whatever other word people use these days. And what people fail to realize is that God is love. So much so that He gave His only begotten Son, "That whosoever should believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

    So I ask all, will God so lightly excuse man the blood of His only begotten Son? The blood that was required because man refused to keep God "real" in their worlds throughout the centuries that have come and gone?

    The answer is yes…but only if you have been properly clothed by that same blood so many are trying explain away as my arrogance. The blood of Jesus CHrist is the only avenue that God Himself has provided and therefore, it is the only avenue God will accept.

    He doesn't apologize for that, and neither do I.

    "Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…"

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    OH hey, can I make a plug here? (Yes, skerrib, you can. Great, thanks) I've been reading some stuff by Jeff VanVonderen, and I highly recommend him to believers and non-believers alike…he appeals especially to those who have been beaten down by performance-based religion, and cuts through the crap to get to the word of God.

    One of these days I'll post more on my bloggy blog about it, but it felt appropriate to put forward here.

  • Richard

    There is a common thread in the atheist"s response and his experience with "Christians". In both there is the tendancy to "create God in our image", that is to define God in human terms. Both are guilty of saying that they will accept some points and reject others. I agree that some "Christians" abuse the Bible to bully others, both believers and non-believers. Jesus did not support this practice, and condemned those (such as the Pharisees and Saducees) who misused their positions.

    Ultimately death will answer the question of both theist and atheist.

  • Pingback: Spreading some love to fellow travelers and bloggers — Warren Throckmorton

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    Joel, Diane only asked forgiveness for coming across as smug and arrogant–she said nothing to discount or apologize for God’s word. Please be careful to distinguish between God’s word and human behaviors. I stand behind everything in the Bible. I don’t understand it all, but I believe it is God’s word and there’s nothing to apologize for in there. I’m right with you there.

    But when we are properly clothed with the blood of Christ it can only produce humility in us. We don’t need to defend it because Christ’s love is evident in us. When we are badgering people, trying to prove how right we are and calling it sharing the good news, there’s a disconnect.

    I know because I’ve done it. When I’m honest with myself I can tell whether I’m giving encouragement or trying to win an argument. I do regret the times I’ve been rude and disrespectful, dismissing my behavior because I was “just sharing God’s word.” God himself stands at the door and knocks (Rev 3:20), and waits to be let in. It’s not up to me to break the lock for him.

    That said, it’s definitely within your prerogative to not associate yourself with her statements.

  • Joel

    skerrib, I hear you, and there is something to be said about humility. But ask yourself this, "How do I feel about Peter and John standing before the Jewish leaders (Acts) and pointedly accusing them of murder…on at least 3 separate ocassions?"

    Were they speaking with humility or with the Power of the Holy Spirit?

    Humility certainly becomes a Christian, but never at the expense of truth. Face to face it is much easier to humbly converse and not sacrifice truth. I do that regularly. However, and I'm sure you know this, over the internet it is not. At least for me.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    :-) I know you wouldn't John…but there are those that would. Hence my "angry atheist" rant on the "The Decider" thread.

  • Clark Bunch

    Did anyone else notice that Ken blames for Christians for only talking and never listening, even after his opening paragraph admits he didn't read the responses to the original post? Just wondering.

    As an evangelizing Christian, I do not dismiss every other faith system as being totally wrong and way off the mark. The three major world religions are Christianity, Islam and Judaism. These three are very closely related, and all contain a great deal of truth. Orthodox Jews believe a Messiah is promised in the Hebrew Scriptures, they just didn't believe it was Jesus. All of the first Christians WERE IN FACT JEWS, a point that many Christians miss today. Muslims pretty much believe in the same Old Testament as Christians, with some difference in which son of Abraham is the son of promise. They hold Jesus in high regard as a prophet and teacher.

    It is not in ignorance nor arrogance that I insist believers in Christ has exclusive rights to heaven. I believe the verse in John 14 means that those who come through Christ will enter heaven; he says anyone trying to enter another way is a thief and a robber. Colossians one describes Jesus as the "image of the invisible God," and Jesus himself says that if you've seen him you've seen the father. Jesus is the revelation of God to mankind, and only those who accept Jesus as such will see Heaven. I represent Christianity as exclusive because Jesus Christ represents it as exclusive. It was a good point made earlier that every other major faith system sees itself as exclusive also.

  • Candace

    Mike: I get what you're saying. But the thing is, my belief is not, emphatically not, belief without evidence. I have evidence up the wazoo. I have so much evidence that on those occassions when I do wonder to myself if it could all be nonsense, the evidence rains down upon me in such plentitude that I smile and say to myself, "Ah, silly me!" and immediately commence thanking the Lord (yet again) for being so incredibly generous with His evidence.

    My belief is also emphatically not "not questioning". The God I know welcomes questions. He begs questions. He made us to question, and loves it when we do.

    Before I was called, I thought religion was the most brain-dead proposition ever (especially Christianity; oddly enough, for all the same reasons I now know Christ to be the Way, the Truth and the Life).

    After my conversion? I've never thought and reasoned so blasted much in all my life. My brain hurts just thinking about all the "hard analysis" I do now, compared to then. (And I make my living in science/medicine. My degree required me to take physics and analytical chemistry and biotechnolgy and comparative anatomy and all sorts of other really brainy stuff.) That's what being defragged by the Creator of All That Is will do to (for) a person.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Burns

    Sorry for reaching so far back into the discussion but …

    Candace wrote:

    “One of the things that I think we followers of Christ frequently forget is that we have been well cautioned that much of this that we hold so dear WILL seem like utter nonsense to the general population. It is intended to be that way, too, apparently, for reasons of His own. “

    How often does the believer ever actually consider this. More importantly, how often does the believer contemplate that it IS nonsense. By design, it is seldom and/or fleeting.

    All successful religions have incorporated in their narrative the bit about “not questioning” or “belief without evidence” is a virtue and that doubt makes you less virtuous. This is nicely postulated in the concept of memes where cultural ideas behave as replicating/propagating organisms that follow the same natural selection rules that biological organisms do. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memes )

    All successful religions have build into them that the holder is not allowed to turn hard analysis back upon that religion. That is an evolutionary trait (for the religion) and allows it to propagate more effectively.

    So I would ask the *rhetorical* questions: How often do you question the validity of your faith (for those of you that have one)? Do some of you find yourself proclaiming belief while privately questioning? Do you feel less virtuous for having those thoughts? Might you consider that the religious narrative has evolved to make you feel that way?

    BTW: To John Shore: I really like your columns and your humor. Despite our difference of position on theistic matters, I appreciate your doing what you do…even though I can get a burr under my saddle when some claim I cannot know right and wrong as a non-believer.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Mike: I promise that it wouldn’t even occur to me to suggest that you can’t know right and wrong because you’re not a Christian. That’d be an absurd proposition.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Candace,

    After reading your story; I would be the last person to challenge your beliefs…unless, of course, they involved demonizing segments of society that don't deserve it.

    Best wishes to you.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    That's kind of you, Mike; thanks for it. And as for your "rants," they were hardly that. They were impressive displays of well articulated logic; writing that fine is always more than welcomed here.

  • http://smjpoems.wordpress.com samanthamj

    First of all… I hear ya Ken. (but, I'm not Christian – so, chalk one up for the "bad guys".. ;)

    Secondly – you mean Osama Bin Laden isn't the symbol of the true spirit of Islam?!?

    I supose, next you're gonna tell me that Barack Obama isn't a Muslim?!??

    ;)

    ~smj

  • Candace

    Thanks, Mike.

    Although I do sometimes suffer from the whole "this works so utterly and completely for me, I wish everyone else in the world could experience it" thing, I do hope I refrain from demonizing. Or even disrespecting.

    Not sure if you've read John's "I'm ok" book, but I'm reading it now and finding it (almost eerily) reflective of my own understanding.

    I pray that as I continue in my Christian walk, I remember who and how Jesus is. And that I keep my eyes on His face, looking at me over the shoulder of each and every human being I come in contact with.

    My sincere best to you, as well.

  • http://fibromyalgian.blogspot.com Calvin Bandini

    I thought we needed the chapter (John 14):

    Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"

    Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

    "If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."

    Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us."

    Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?

    "Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.

    "Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.

    "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

    "And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.

    "You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."

    OKAY: The point seems to be knowing the Father. Jesus says he has taught them so well that they knew enough, then, to make it to the Promised Land.

    So Jews and Muslims — all aboard!

    And another point seems to be that Jesus always considered himself a prophet.

    Not once does God say he is God. Not once does the Son of God say he is the Son of God (except in a purely metaphorical sense — all males are sons of god… Note the emphasis on sons — men… Who knows where women go? In Jesus's time women still were property, and he never preached against that).

    Christianity, rightly, should be called Paulism. The Epistles have shaped christianity far more than anything christ said.

    (I'm just going to add this as a PS to all my posts: All christians reading this are hypocrites for not abandoning all they have to follow Jesus. When you do *that,* come lecture me.)

    Love, kittens,

    Calvin

    "Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing." — Jesus Christ

  • wonderer

    To Bill H, it is good that you are interacting with believers on questons that concern you. Thanks for beiing honest and forthright. I hope you do not mind if I just point out the following points:-

    1. Jn 14:6 says that Jesus is the way the truth and the life. Indeed all who go to the Father must pass through Him. "Christians" aren't mentioned because the term only started being used years after Jesus uttered those words – in Antioch, to be exact. Yet although Jn 14:6 does not mention "Christians", the question of what it means to pass through Him and how does Jesus decide who goes to the Father is answered by the other things Jesus said. Which show that one has to repent and believe on Jesus Christ in order to be saved.

    2. The moment you make any sort of truth claim, that has to by definition exclude truth claims that contradict it. That is true for any religious and philosophical system. The alleged arrogance or humility or etc of the person making the statement has nothing to do with whether that truth claim is correct or not. It is not arrogant to actually believe that what you believe in is true. It is just the logical effect of making any sort of truth claim.

    3. Christianity rests on faith that arises from the words of texts that Christians believe is Holy Scripture. If so, then the "legitimate scholarship" that has been written on the text has to be objectively and honestly judged on whether it is truly faithful to that text or not. That is the final and only consideration. It may end with a conclusion that contradicts that 'scholarship" no matter how eminent it may be. But if one finds that that scholarship does not correctly explain the Scripture, then it must be rejected. It is not proud nor arrogant for Christians to do that. It is just being true to the roots of one's faith.

    4. The logical conclusion of your line of reasoning is that all are correct even when they contradict. It is all very postmodern and in the vogue with the spirit of the age, but if all are equally valid and true, then all are equally untrue and invalid. This kind of thinking seems to be so humble and accepting, actually ends up making what you believe in – no matter what that may be – ultimately void of meaning and truth. If that is the price of peace and harmony and acceptance in this 21st century world, it is far too high a price to pay.

  • Michael Cooper

    It's always frustrating to me how someone can hide behind the "myth of tolerance" and show an intolerance and arrogance that is equally as deplorable as what they are condemning.

    After nearly twenty years of ministry with students, I have come to see these kind of objections to the faith as irrelevant as the musings of Dawkins and company. Granted, many believers have been little more than self-righteous blowhards when it comes to sharing their faith. Still, this does not mean that all beliefs are equally valid.

    Ken's statement is kind of like picking nosehairs. He is trying to say that Jesus declared himself the "decider" of who gets into heaven and who does not, rather than proclaiming that one has to be a follower of His to get there. While I understand the argument, I think it is logically and philosophically dishonest.

    The exclusivity of Jesus' claim is exactly what got Him into trouble with the religious leaders of His day, as well as the supreme individualists of ours.

    Jesus never says that He "knows" the way. Rather, He decisively and candidly claims to "be" the way. Personally, I wish that He had left us some wiggle room. However, He tends to simply speak the truth and allow us to do the wiggling.

    I truly enjoy your columns, John. You remind me how important it is to think.

  • Julia Gwin

    Truth is, by definition, exclusive. Christianity promulgates absolutes, but is by no means alone in this. All world views, all faiths, all religions and non-religions, will defend some absolute truth. Even New Age thinking has its intolerance and absolutes. Truth must cohere with reality and be defensible in reason and in heart. There are some truths that can and should be defended at all cost.

    There is no honest scholarship that can twist God's condemnation of sin, including the sin of homosexuality. We do not understand that any man (or woman) goes to hell because of homosexuality. The Bible specifically says that some of the Corinthians were homosexual, but chosen by God for salvation (1 Cor. 6:9-11 "and such were some of you…"). We go to hell because we are sinners, separated from God by our sins – whatever they be. I cannot carve out a little exception for my personal, favorite sins. All of our sins are equally lethal, removing us from the standard of infinite perfection.

    Your condemnation of us is well-founded. God hasn't finished with us, and we still struggle until His work in us is complete. God has matured some of us more in our lifetimes than others, and these more closely approximate their Master, who is the source of all wisdom, love, perfection, grace, beauty, righteousness and power and much more.

    I pray we do not shame our Lord, and I ask that you look at Him to see that true standard of what we profess with our imperfect lips, and be patient with us in the meantime.

  • Dr. John Henderson

    Ken H. hasn't said anything new in support of his view. He calls Christians arrogant, making assumptions, etc. but then does exactly that himself. He makes judgements based on no evidence that he presents. We are supposed to assume he is corect because he says it is so?? We, at least, do rely on such things as the Word of God and passages from it, even if we may sometimes misunderstand our own point. We do not just make it up.

    If left to ourselves, I am sure we Christians would share most of Ken's ideas because we would have nothing else but our own opinions and the influence of others' opinions on which to rely.

    I think we may be spinning our wheels with the dear man. He reminds me of the old joke, "My mind is made up. Don't confuse me with facts." he is locked into his own logic.

    He also reminds me of a boy in my high school who took it upon himself to convince me that the Bible, God, Jesus, Heaven, Hell, etc. were not true. I gave it my best but he was unconvinced. He could not see past his own opinion. He saw only his line of reasoning.

    Finally I ended the debate forever with one comment: "You do not believe there is a hell, and nothing I say otherwise is changing your mind. I can only tell you one thing. One of us is right. Wait and see."

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Dr. John Henderson says:

    Ken H. hasn’t said anything new in support of his view.

    and

    We, at least, do rely on such things as the Word of God and passages from it, even if we may sometimes misunderstand our own point. We do not just make it up.

    Sigh… what more is there to say? The non-believer (nor 93% of the scientific community [ http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/news/file002.... ]) finds no evidence for the supernatural. If you are looking for us to disprove the god of Abraham; we will do so as soon as you disprove that I don’t have an invisible, miniature unicorn in the cabinet next to my computer. Debate theory 101 says that you cannot disprove a negative.

    Your contention that you “do not just make it up” soooooo misses the point. The non-believer says that it IS made up…maybe not by you, but by the bronze age authors. Not to sound glib, but exceptional claims require exceptional evidence…and it has not been forthcoming.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    BTW: speaking of seeing atoms (comment 45), you can see the latest, clearest images of atoms here:
    http://www.lbl.gov/Science-Articles/Archive/MSD-N

    Truly stunning, but still bumps.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Burns

    Julia Gwin said:

    Truth is, by definition, exclusive. Christianity promulgates absolutes, but is by no means alone in this. All world views, all faiths, all religions and non-religions, will defend some absolute truth.

    Indeed, Christianity (and other religions) do declare absolute ‘Truths’ through proclamation. Therein lies the frustration, annoyance and accusations of arrogance by non-believers. To claim absolute truth without evidence is…well…arrogant! Julia then goes on to claim that even non-religions (I take this to mean secular non-believers) will defend some absolute truth. I find this to be annoying also, because those amenable to evidence know that real truth (not Truth) is only as good as our best knowledge of at the time. There are no absolutes and we can (and should) change our mind when warranted.

    Let us consider the Bohr model of the atom, with its nucleus of protons and neutrons being orbited by electrons (see a reminder diagram at: http://www.cfo.doe.gov/me70/manhattan/images/AtomLabeledLarge.gif ) Our knowledge of the atomic structure is so stunning that has allowed us to create all manner of technologies…from integrated circuits to nuclear bombs to carbon fiber bicycles to life-saving medicines. The list is immeasurable. In any practical sense, we know how atoms are built…except that we don’t ! What we have is a theory about how atoms are configured. This theory has proved to be so reliably predictive of how atoms behave, that we generally assume that we really do know, but we don’t. The best we have seen is little fuzzy lumps. Nobody has seen an electron, proton, or neutron (in the usual sense of the word). If the scientific community were to get a better look at an atom, then we would use that evidence to refine our understanding. Similarly, I (the non-believer) assimilate everything that we do know about our universe, our world, the life on it, and our species and comes up with the best theories on how we got here, how to behave, etc. etc. etc.. There are no absolute truths; just the best explanation that doesn’t conflict with the evidence. I would like for Ms. Gwin to let me know what absolute truth she claims the non-religions are proclaiming.

    Let us now move to the religious proclamation that homosexuality is a sin (cleverly referred to as “like a joke from medieval times” by Ken H.). Whatever religious sect you belong to; you have something in your narrative that the person or the act is depraved or wrong. (This may not be true with some liberal interpretations, but that is because they DISMISSED a part of Gods written word!) Demonstrated on this board and elsewhere; there are various spins on this…the homosexual is doomed to hell…*even* the homosexual can get into heaven…love the sinner, hate the sin. But no religious narrative (at least the popular monotheisms) give the homosexual a free ride as just another person. Homosexuality is a sinful choice by most conventional religious standards and hence the promulgation that homosexuals are sinners.

    Let us now look at the empirical evidence that we have on the origins of homosexuality. There is a very nice summary article in a recent issue of Discover magazine (a respected popular science digest) that can be seen here: http://discovermagazine.com/2007/jun/born-gay . In it, it nicely covers the range of research on the topic and, among, other things has this stunningly compelling (albeit tragic) study (which I quote here, emphasis mine):

    William Reiner, a psychiatrist at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, explored the question of environmental influences on sexuality with a group that had been surgically shifted from boys to girls. These boys had been born with certain genital deformities; because it is easier to fashion a vagina than a penis, the boys were surgically made into girls at birth. In many cases they were raised as girls, kept in the dark about the surgery, and thought themselves female long into adulthood. Invariably, Reiner found that the faux females ended up being attracted to women. If societal nudging was what made men gay, at least one of these boys should have grown up to be attracted to men. There is no documented case of that happening.

    Of all the academic, scientific research on the matter, this, to me, blows the ‘nurture’ argument out of the water. Homosexuality, from everything we can tell, is a naturally occurring trait…just like hair color and not the choice of the person. I find it immoral to, in any way, stigmatize or demonize anybody for something that is not within their control. To be blunt, the teachings of the bible, in the case of homosexuality, are in conflict with evidence and are immoral. Often, we will get self-satisfying statements from believers who believe themselves to be enlightened and liberal on the matter. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” is how it would usually come out. The fact is, calling homosexuality a sin is demonizing a segment of society that does not deserve it. In my book, this is THE thing that that I find most corrosive about religion…unjustified intolerance.

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  • Julia Gwin

    Mike (FVThinker) Burns says: "There are no absolute truths; just the best explanation that doesn’t conflict with the evidence. I would like for Ms. Gwin to let me know what absolute truth she claims the non-religions are proclaiming."

    Did you not just proclaim an absolute truth?

  • Julia Gwin

    In his criticism of Candace's assertion that Christianity will seem foolish to non-Christians, Mr. Burns says:

    "How often does the believer ever actually consider this. More importantly, how often does the believer contemplate that it IS nonsense. By design, it is seldom and/or fleeting.

    All successful religions have incorporated in their narrative the bit about “not questioning” or “belief without evidence” is a virtue and that doubt makes you less virtuous."

    Christians are commanded to be able to give a reason for the hope that we profess, and to do so with gentleness and respect. We are never asked to believe without good reason or in the absence of evidence. God made you and me with rational minds. I agree with you that unquestioned belief or belief in the absence of evidence cannot be virtuous. The Christian is called to neither. Your criticism does, however, describe any religion which does not have Truth as its foundation.

  • Julia Gwin

    Mr. Burns says, "To claim absolute truth without evidence is…well…arrogant!"

    Suppose God is the one making the claim? He has said that He is Truth. Truth is more than a proposition. Truth is a person, ultimately.

    God is the author of all that is – seen and unseen. He is the "dark matter" or "missing matter" in the universe that holds everything together. He holds those pesky atoms together! All reality continues so long as He upholds and sustains it. These are not my naked assertions – but are scripturally based.

    The person who says that He is Truth did all kinds of things that one would expect God in mortal flesh to do. He exerted control over the laws of nature and rose from the dead, even under an armed Roman guard whose failure of mission to secure the grave meant execution.

    All truth claims are not arrogant. Only truth claims that are untrue are arrogant. Ironically, the One who made these claims describes Himself as "lowly of heart."

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    "These are not my naked assertions – but are scripturally based."

    Ohhhhh! That makes all the difference!!! It's a good thing that it is universally agreed that the Bible is without error, embellishment, or myth. Given the evidence, I have no choice but to be a believer . . . I mean . . . it's in writing . . . it must be true. Let me look in the phone book…hmmmmm…all the churches to choose from. I might need a little help choosing. This is so much easier now that I have lowered my standards for evidence. I guess I will have to start demonizing homosexuals and non-believers…but it's ok…it's written down.

    I have an idea! Can somebody bankroll me to start up a reality show called "Deity Survivor" where we will pit Christian rituals against the rituals of all those false religions. We will have 'challenges' and pit prayer against prayer…miracle against miracle. Our God will kick there etherial bumms and we will demonstrate to the world there is only one true God. His name is Yaweh.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Wait a minute. I think you’re being sarcastic. Are you being sarcastic?

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Burns

    Y’know, john…I was being sarcastic originally. But the more I think about it…I reaaaalllllyy like the idea for the TV show. (I am not supposed to start a sentence with ‘but’, am I ? )

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    I was kidding. I knew you were being sarcastic. It wasn’t …. subtle, or anything.

    And yes, a reality show in some way pitting one religion against the other has serious potential. To destroy the world–but still!

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Yes…Religon does have that potential for world destruction. Thanks for pointing it out! :-)

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    OK, you could let it go a LITTLE sometimes.

    I shouldn't take this time/effort, but what the heck: Give credit where it's due. Sure, there are a lot of Chrisitians who are narrow-minded sanctimonious jerks–but there are a lot of EVERY kind of people who are narrow-minded, sanctimonious jerks. Religion gives people something tangible and real to aspire to. 99.9% of the Christians I know are good, honest, open people whose lives are defined by the one thing all of our lives should be: They're trying to improve. They're trying to become healthier, kinder, wiser, more compassionate. Christ gives people a wonderful model to emulate, an ideal to strive to fulfill. That's a beautiful thing. You don't like OBNOXIOUS Christians. But either do unobnoxious Christians.

  • http://smjpoems.wordpress.com samanthamj

    Agreed… Narrow minded jerks come in all shapes, colors, sizes, and religions…

    Likewise – so do the "good" ones too.

    The few people I know that are NOT religious (like, say… me!) are also "trying to improve…. trying to become healthier, kinder, wiser, more compassionate."

    I don't believe you need to have religion to have real and tangible goals to aspire to, or to be a "good" person. This is often where the religious people (narrow minded religious jerks, and not so big jerks – but, very religious), will beg to differ with me… and that is when it starts getting difficult to weed out who the real jerks are…

    (did that make any sense at all? No? Sorry. As always, feel free to ignore me! ;)

    ~smj

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    No, you certainly don't need to subscribe to any sort of formal theological system in order to willfully strive to be more moral–that is more honorable, thoughtful, compassionate, etc. Of course not. Morality is inborn, and universal.

  • http://smjpoems.wordpress.com samanthamj

    Jon – Exactly. Thank you. Now, if we could just get a few others, like the Boy Scouts, to agree with that last post of yours…

    ~smj

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Burns

    I don’t believe you need to have religion to have real and tangible goals to aspire to, or to be a “good” person. This is often where the religious people (narrow minded religious jerks, and not so big jerks – but, very religious), will beg to differ with me… and that is when it starts getting difficult to weed out who the real jerks are…

    I believe the significance of Samantha’s analysis is very important. There are the obnoxious jerks (OJ’s) that theist and non-theist alike can smell from a mile away (i.e. Fred Phelps of GodHatesFags.com, Falwell, Hagee, etc). I don’t doubt for a moment, though, that the OJ’s believe they were/are doing good for this world … or the next. Most others, though, dismiss their type of fundamentalism and their type of literalism and fall into the vast majority of believers and, hence, become tolerable human beings (we will call them THB’s).

    Yet a good many believing THB’s still believe the homosexual is something that God specifically spoke against. But instead of condemning out of hand, the THB wants to help the homosexual to a God-pleasing way of life. A good many of these THB’s would squash the most promising field of medical research since the discovery of antibiotics (embryonic stem cell) because their belief that the zygote is imbued with a god-given soul. I would bet money that a good many of the very nice people represented on this board hold something akin to these views.

    From a motivational perspective, both the OJ’s and the THB’s genuinely want to do good, but both groups unknowingly do bad…they do the wrong things for the right reasons. It is easy to dismiss criticism of your actions and beliefs when your actions are motivated by our noblest and most charitable instincts. Mark Twain (a.k.a. Samuel Clemens) had the most perfect and cogent position on this:

    “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you in trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

    John said that 99.9% of Christians that he knows are THB’s. This would make sense, because 99.9% of ALL people are good. It is innate in us (and other species to some extent) to follow [what Christians know as] the Golden Rule.

    The believing THB’s, unbeknownst to them, hold and promulgate views that demonize segments of society and warp public policy and education to the detriment of society…all with the very best and noble of intentions. I have asked theists before to consider the moral consequences should their beliefs be false. To my knowledge; none that I have asked have been able to wrap their head around the idea of themselves being wrong. I think this is said, but not unexpected. The human mind is a complex thing and is near impossible to step outside one’s self and look back with an unbiased eye. This is true for theist and non-theist alike. (I won’t go into neurology and the research on the matter but you can read a book review here: http://fvthinker.blogspot.com/2008/03/book-review-on-being-certain-believing.html )

    Just like in politics…everyone believes themselves to be a moderate. Even the OJ’s. And as Samantha eluded to; It is only from the perspective of the non-believer that one can see the common traits of the OJ’s and the THB’s.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Burns

    Did I actually write “I believe the significance of Samantha’s analysis is very important.”?!?!?! Sheesh I need an editor!

  • Julia Gwin

    Mr. Burns quotes me:“These are not my naked assertions – but are scripturally based.”

    And then he says:

    "Ohhhhh! That makes all the difference!!! It’s a good thing that it is universally agreed that the Bible is without error, embellishment, or myth. Given the evidence, I have no choice but to be a believer . . . I mean . . . it’s in writing . . . it must be true. Let me look in the phone book…hmmmmm…all the churches to choose from. I might need a little help choosing. This is so much easier now that I have lowered my standards for evidence. I guess I will have to start demonizing homosexuals and non-believers…but it’s ok…it’s written down."

    First, I apologize for taking so long to answer. I have 5 young children, one of whom has special needs, and my time is very limited. I do, however, love discourse, and hope we can keep this in the realm of reason and respect.

    Your questionings seemed sincere, but when you digress into vitriol, I think discourse has been shut down by you. I am, apparently, unworthy of your thoughtful of respectful response.

    I suspect your outrage is piqued by my revealing your own inconsistency. You reject absolute truth, and yet you put forth your own absolute truth even as you challenge me to on that very point. Do you not believe, absolutely, that there is no truth – but that we can only adhere to what we can measure – and then only tentatively? You and I are closer on this point than you might think. I believe we do not have the ability to comprehend absolute truth – at least not in this reality in which we live. But I believe there IS absolute truth, and that this is a Person. We can be enabled by God to understand only what He reveals to us, because our lives are derivative from His. If He desires our understanding of truth, then we will have it.

    Either you misunderstand me greatly, or you wish to characterize me as a fool by asserting I am stupid enough to believe something because it is in writing. I did, however, make the mistake of telling you that I believe something because it is "scriptural." What I said is that I was not making my own naked assertions. Your complaint is not with me! I am merely restating the claims of the bible. I believe the bible is the very Word of God. This is the point at which we differ. The absolute truth that I believe is the same as the author of that book. The bible is not an ordinary book. It is God's words to us. So your quarrel is not with me, but with the One who made you for Himself. I am stating biblical truths – not my own truths.

    You seem uncomfortable with moral judgments. How can you escape the fact that every denunciation you make has, at its core, a moral judgment? Can you honestly say that I am wrong and you are right without also proffering a standard from which I deviate?

    May God bless you, Mr. Burns, and keep you. I know this thread is very old, and it is probably too late for you to get my little message. I do thank you, however, for teaching me better to respond to those who are skeptical.

    Julia Gwin

  • barbara

    Are you saying that homosexuality is an acceptable alternative to marriage? You are happy with the legalization of same sex marriage? homosexuality is brokeness. It is never the will of God.

    • Erica

      It’s been three years since you posted this. Do you still feel this way?

  • barbara

    Are you saying that homosexuality is an acceptable alternative to marriage? You are happy with the legalization of same sex marriage? homosexuality is brokeness. It is never the will of God.

    • Erica

      It’s been three years since you posted this. Do you still feel this way?

  • barbara

    "The texts that Christians rely upon to condemn homosexuality can be legitimately understood as not condemning gays and lesbians at all. That the vast majority of Christians ignore that scholarship, ignore that understanding, ignore that fact, can’t help but serve as further proof that what so many Christians really want isn’t to spread the love and compassion of which Christ himself was such a champion, but to instead continue to use their 'faith' for no purpose more uplifting or wholesome than to fuel the judgemental, self-righteous, mean-spirited ego trip they’re on."

    John,

    Rule #1: Never condemn a person, only condemn the sin. Like that old Sunday School adage goes: love the person, hate the sin.

    It's the "hate the sin" that has gotten some innocent people into trouble lately. For example, consider the family therapist in California who said she would not counsel gays and lesbians for marriage (despite California's "legalization" of gay marriage) as she believed marriage was ordained by God as between a man and a woman. She believed that it was neither loving nor wise to counsel for something that God Himself would not advise.

    And boy, did the poop hit the fan on that one. Almost no Christians stood by her. And talk about blacklisted…the political storm unleashed against her, the concerted effort against her character, her livelihood, shows that there is a price to be paid for following Christ.

    In her life she saw most of the Christians (real world ones, not political pundits or pulpit thumpers) change "love the person, hate the sin" into "love the person, tolerate the sin".

    Perhaps we should love the person by hating the sin. I hate pornography because it degrades women and men. I also hate pedophilia. I hate slavery.

    Below is a take on the end result of homosexuality from one leader in the gay community (I found this from a commentator on Crosswalk — I'm sorry I can't attribute this properly).

    A DIFFERENT APOLOGY

    For 16 years, Michael Glatze was a gay leader who edited an award-winning magazine targeting gay youth and produced a PBS documentary on gay teen suicide. His advocacy among youth made him a media darling and earned him a National Role Model Award.

    But in 2005, after speaking at Harvard, Michael began having doubts about the gay lifestyle and its affirming message. Feeling there was no one he could turn to for answers, he turned to God. That led to a life-changing discovery about homosexuality—it is anything but natural. Glatze explains,

    [H]omosexual sex—and all other lust-based sex—is never satisfactory: It's a neurotic process rather than a natural, normal one . . . Homosexuality takes us out of our normal state, of being perfectly united in all things, and divides us . . . [it] allows us to avoid digging deeper, through superficiality and lust-inspired attractions. . . . As a result, countless miss out on their truest self, their God-given Christ-self.

    Glatze goes on to describe his “coming out” (of the gay lifestyle) as “the most liberating, beautiful, and astonishing thing I've ever experienced in my entire life.”

    Within days after the troika of “ex-gay survivors” publicized their apology, ex-gay Michael Glatze gave an apology of his own:

    If I could take back some of the things I said [as a gay spokesperson], I would. Now I know that homosexuality is lust and pornography wrapped into one. . . . There is nothing that would give me more pleasure than to say the Truth about 'homosexuality' and atone for my sins in that regard . . . I hope I can share my story. I feel strongly God has put me here for a reason.

  • barbara

    "The texts that Christians rely upon to condemn homosexuality can be legitimately understood as not condemning gays and lesbians at all. That the vast majority of Christians ignore that scholarship, ignore that understanding, ignore that fact, can’t help but serve as further proof that what so many Christians really want isn’t to spread the love and compassion of which Christ himself was such a champion, but to instead continue to use their 'faith' for no purpose more uplifting or wholesome than to fuel the judgemental, self-righteous, mean-spirited ego trip they’re on."

    John,

    Rule #1: Never condemn a person, only condemn the sin. Like that old Sunday School adage goes: love the person, hate the sin.

    It's the "hate the sin" that has gotten some innocent people into trouble lately. For example, consider the family therapist in California who said she would not counsel gays and lesbians for marriage (despite California's "legalization" of gay marriage) as she believed marriage was ordained by God as between a man and a woman. She believed that it was neither loving nor wise to counsel for something that God Himself would not advise.

    And boy, did the poop hit the fan on that one. Almost no Christians stood by her. And talk about blacklisted…the political storm unleashed against her, the concerted effort against her character, her livelihood, shows that there is a price to be paid for following Christ.

    In her life she saw most of the Christians (real world ones, not political pundits or pulpit thumpers) change "love the person, hate the sin" into "love the person, tolerate the sin".

    Perhaps we should love the person by hating the sin. I hate pornography because it degrades women and men. I also hate pedophilia. I hate slavery.

    Below is a take on the end result of homosexuality from one leader in the gay community (I found this from a commentator on Crosswalk — I'm sorry I can't attribute this properly).

    A DIFFERENT APOLOGY

    For 16 years, Michael Glatze was a gay leader who edited an award-winning magazine targeting gay youth and produced a PBS documentary on gay teen suicide. His advocacy among youth made him a media darling and earned him a National Role Model Award.

    But in 2005, after speaking at Harvard, Michael began having doubts about the gay lifestyle and its affirming message. Feeling there was no one he could turn to for answers, he turned to God. That led to a life-changing discovery about homosexuality—it is anything but natural. Glatze explains,

    [H]omosexual sex—and all other lust-based sex—is never satisfactory: It's a neurotic process rather than a natural, normal one . . . Homosexuality takes us out of our normal state, of being perfectly united in all things, and divides us . . . [it] allows us to avoid digging deeper, through superficiality and lust-inspired attractions. . . . As a result, countless miss out on their truest self, their God-given Christ-self.

    Glatze goes on to describe his “coming out” (of the gay lifestyle) as “the most liberating, beautiful, and astonishing thing I've ever experienced in my entire life.”

    Within days after the troika of “ex-gay survivors” publicized their apology, ex-gay Michael Glatze gave an apology of his own:

    If I could take back some of the things I said [as a gay spokesperson], I would. Now I know that homosexuality is lust and pornography wrapped into one. . . . There is nothing that would give me more pleasure than to say the Truth about 'homosexuality' and atone for my sins in that regard . . . I hope I can share my story. I feel strongly God has put me here for a reason.

  • http://www.thetaiwandrift.blogspot.com Chase

    Ken, Really appreciate you voicing your thoughts here.

    The sad truth of it is, many of “us” will never see the truth behind your statements.

    John, thank you for providing a space to make this conversation possible.

    -Chase

  • http://www.thetaiwandrift.blogspot.com Chase

    Ken, Really appreciate you voicing your thoughts here.

    The sad truth of it is, many of “us” will never see the truth behind your statements.

    John, thank you for providing a space to make this conversation possible.

    -Chase

  • http://dressmytruth.blogspot.com Jeanine Byers Hoag

    I completely agree with what he said and am so happy that you posted it!

    Jeanine

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    *****John 14:6 “No one comes to the Father except through me”******

    “To be great is to be misunderstood.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

    I dunno. I guess since I have a Speech degree I tend to parse words more than the average person, and certainly more than the average Christian. So I have given some serious thot about that statement SUPPOSEDLY made by Jesus. (Just because John says so?) And seriously folks, IT’S AN INTERPRETATION!! And so when I read that statement, a question comes automatically to my mind.

    Was Jesus referring to himself, the man? The human being? Or might he have meant “me”, the Way, his philosophy, his way of relating to the human family? If a Christian chooses to insist on THE MAN, then that Christian, if intellectually honest (yeah, I know that’s problematic), must ask why. Ah, yes. I see the problem there. If Jesus the Way of relating is the choice,then the exclusivity, the Christian’s exclusivity is lost. Can’t have that, right?

    WHY NOT “ME”, THE WAY?

  • Mike Barnhart

    While it is possible that none of the religions are correct, it is simply not possible for them all to be correct. For example, Jesus either died on the cross and rose again or Jesus was replaced by another man who was made to look like Jesus (just before Jesus died and therefor Jesus did not need to rise again). Both cannot be true, so therefor either one (or both) of these two religions must not be correct. The two religions are Christianity and Islam, for those who did not know.
    Again, both might be wrong, but both cannot be right.

    • James Walker

      sure they can. it’s all a matter of perspective. the fact two frameworks exclude one another doesn’t invalidate either of them.

      • Mike Barnhart

        How can Jesus both have died on the cross AND not died on the cross but was replaced by someone else who died? Either He died there or He did not die there…it really cannot be both.
        If He did not die, then he could not have been resurrected. So either He was resurrected or He was not…it cannot be both.

        It is really no different than not being able to be both a theist and an atheist (a not theist) at the same time…they are diametrically opposed…both cannot be true.

        • Matt

          You’re thinking very literally, and only talking about the religious doctrine. That’s a legitimate way to to look at the two faiths, but it’s not the only way.

          Both the Qu’ran and the Bible have verses that urge the reader to be compassionate. Jesus says that there is no higher commandment than this. The Qu’ran says, “The reward of goodness is nothing but goodness.” (55:61)

          In that sense, I would say that they are both very correct.

          • Mike Barnhart

            If I told you that 2+2=4 and 2+3=6, would you say I am correct? Hopefully not, hopefully you would say that 2+3=5 and not 6 and therefor I was wrong.
            Both religions have Jesus in them – and both require Him to fill a specific role that requires Him to have either died (Christianity) or not died (Islam). If He did not die, Christianity loses its core. If He did die, Islam loses a major pillar (that Mohammed is above Jesus in the spiritual hierarchy of things).
            So yes, they both agree on many things (2+2=4), but their answers to 2+3 are quite different. It is possible that neither one has 5 as the answer, but it is a guarantee that both do not have 5.

          • James Walker

            faith is not mathematics, Mike. =) there are no “absolutely and always true” answers.

          • Mike Barnhart

            I agree with you in many things, James, but in some things there are certainly absolutes. For example, we can absolutely say Jesus preached in the Middle East during the first century CE (WHAT He preached and what He meant by it all is wide open to debate, though). We can absolutely say Rome was the ruling power of the region during that time. To say that Rome was not the ruling power or that Jesus preached in Detroit in 2025 would be to say things that are not true. It would be just as untrue to say He did all his preaching in American English. We can debate on how much was Hebrew, how much Greek, how much Aramaic – but if someone says He spoke in American English we can absolutely say it is not true.
            A human is either alive or dead (when able to be observed, as Jesus was on the cross – no quantum shenanigans from you, mister!). So either He died, or He did not die; it is an all or none issue. Now, there are times when one is thought to have died and did not, but that is not the case here. Islam says someone else died instead of Jesus (but made to look like Jesus)…so a death did happen according to both. Islam says it was not Jesus, Christianity says it was. It cannot both have been Jesus who died on that specific cross and not Jesus who died on that specific cross at the exact same moment.
            But I am able to be convinced. Tell me how Jesus could have both died and not died at the exact same time and I will think it over. There could be an explanation I simply have not come across yet. You know me well enough that I do always entertain other views with honest thinking into them – even if I do not always change my own view to that one. :)

          • James Walker

            the things you mention as “absolutes” in the above paragraph aren’t matters of faith. they’re matters of history (as in, science). we don’t need belief to talk about whether Rome was in power or whether a man named Jesus lived during that time.

            so, what if the gospel writers reported what everyone believed they saw but everyone who saw wasn’t quite exactly right from a scientific point of view? Jesus had stopped breathing, He had stopped moving and when His side was pierced they reported seeing both blood and water coming from the wound. to all appearances He was dead insofar as the people of that day understood being dead. but what if they were wrong? even now we’ve had at least one instance of a clinically dead woman getting up of the gurney whilst on the way to the morgue and rejoining the living.

            it’s all a matter of perspective and what we choose to believe given the lack of evidence one way or the other.

          • Mike Barnhart

            That would make both religions wrong…not both right at the same time. It would make Christianity wrong (and remove the very foundation of it) by removing the sacrifice. It would also make Islam wrong, since no one actually died on the cross.
            What it cannot do is make them both correct. I feely admit both can be wrong, but I cannot find any possible way to make them both correct.

            However, even in your scenario Jesus would have still died from his wounds, barring divine intervention. Medicine had not yet advanced to the point where someone could survive both a crucifixion and being speared through – then being placed alone in a tomb without any medicines. You need to take into account the severity of the wounds – even modern medicine would have a rough go with it.

            But to circle back to my point. I can easily concede it is possible all religions are wrong, but there is simply no way they can all be right

          • James Walker

            but what do you choose to believe, Mike? and do you recognize that believing rather than knowing inherently exposes you to the possibility of being wrong? that’s what faith is about – living in and embracing that mystery and that uncertainty.

          • Mike Barnhart

            Faith is vital in religion – faith is belief without supporting evidence. Faith always exposes you to being wrong, and I consider that a good thing. I look around me, I feel the world around me, I know there is more that what I see and feel. I know there is a deeper level, a higher level, a moreness to it all that goes beyond our scientific understanding. This is where faith comes in, faith that God is in the mix. Seeking to know this God is where religion comes in.

          • Matt

            Forgive my bluntness, but so what? If neither of them have 5, then in your eyes they’re wrong. End of story. Why the desire to have this discrepancy explained? Why the obviously strong drive to have absolute truth in all things?

            “Always” and “never” are deadly answers. They kill curiosity, curb questioning, and inhibit growth. Theoretically, 2+3 can equal 6, for example if our definition of 6, 2, or 3 changes. The sum written as 2+3 only equals the answer written as 5 because that’s the meaning we have assigned to those particular symbols. In the real world we can observe that a value of 2 added to a value of 3 will equal a value of 5, but if tomorrow we decided that the symbol written as “3″ now stands for a value of 4, then 2+3 would equal 6.

            If we somehow could prove literally that Jesus did not die, Christianity wouldn’t lose its core for a lot of people. That’s why it’s called belief. Jesus’ resurrection is more than just a literal event (if it occurred), it is powerful and enduring symbolism for hope, reconciliation, and humanity’s good ultimately being more significant than our evil. That is worthwhile, and to me makes literal events not particularly relevant.

          • Mike Barnhart

            The real question is why are you fighting to hard to say they are all correct? Obviously they are not all correct, as so simply shown. This is as true as saying that Christianity is a lie if Jesus never died – its entire foundation is based on the belief that He died and resurrected. If that is a lie, then so is Christianity. Yes, there is still much wisdom there, but it ceases to be a religion and turns into a philosophy – a very different thing.
            But yes, if you change the meaning of something you then change what that something means. That is easily understood. 3 does not equal 4, we can talk about what happens at that point when 3 suddenly redefined to equal 4, until then it is meaningless.

  • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

    With all due respect, Ken, what Christians see as faith and devotion to the One True God and His Church is only seen as arrogance by those who choose political correctness and the elusive pursuit of “fairness for all” over God’s inerrant Word. God’s Way seems unfair to those who don’t believe because they’re looking at circumstances from an extremely limited human point of view; Christians choose to trust in God, who is merciful and just and far more capable of discerning what’s right and good than we are. Claiming the moral high ground because you profess open-mindedness and seek fairness for all is arrogant and very sad, as you endanger your mortal soul and the souls of those you influence with your unwillingness to see beyond the secular world’s obtuse mindset.

    • James Walker

      bollocks. God didn’t give us a sense of fair-play and intelligence just so He could play “I know better than you do” games with us. the writers of the Bible frequently got things dead wrong like slavery and the “superiority” of men over women.

      • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

        The Bible is the inspired Word of God. You are saying the Bible is “dead wrong”; ergo, God is dead wrong. You may want to reconsider.

        • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

          That is a claim fairly common in evangelical circles. Not all Christians agree with that theory. Those that make that assertion, along with the one that the Bible is literally “god breathed” are only a sub-section of all of Christianity.

          The Bible is viewed through many different lenses and opinions. We here tend to look at the book as inspired, but not necessarily directly by God, but instead people inspired to try to share their understandings of God, through very human lenses. Does that limit its value? No, in fact it easily broadens it.

          Therefore we can say that the authors were wrong, from our modern viewpoints in regards to slavery, the treatment of women, the acts of genocide claimed in the name of God, etc. because those passages were talking about humanity, through stories, myths and legends, rich with meaning.

        • James Walker

          Nowhere in the Bible will you find the claim that the writings contained therein are the “Word of God”. That particular title is only given to Jesus, the Divine Logos.

          Also, “inspired by” is not at all the same as “written by”.

        • Bones

          The Bible is not God.

          Is that hard to understand?

          Actually what you are claiming is idolatry.

          And yes the Bible is ‘wrong’.

          A lot.

          But that’s ok.

  • notmike64

    as a ex christian I really enjoy this blog. It makes me think. I approach God with a mix of wonder and love. ( in the beginning it was shame, shame left over from the church and my family of preachers) I did not find God in the church. Nor do I enjoy reading the Bible it does not bring me peace. Too much violence and he said and she said. But I do have a sense that God is love …and its even in the Bible …lol.
    But arguing over scripture is mind boggling i would like to think if it is the inspired word of god it would be a little more simple …


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