You might be a dying breed of Christian if you believe that …


  • The Bible is a rulebook spelling out exactly what you need to believe and think about everything.
  • Being a Christian automatically makes you the moral superior of anyone who’s not a Christian.
  • Being gay, bisexual, or transgender is an offense to God.
  • It’s perfectly all right to let your pastor tell you how to vote.
  • Only men are suited to be the head of home and church.
  • God wants wives to submit to their husbands.
  • God is male.
  • Purity Balls are a good idea.
  • It’s a woman’s responsibility to make sure that men don’t lust after her.
  • Divorce is a sin.
  • The earth was created six to ten thousand years ago.
  • Hell is an actual location that exists in real space and time, where everyone who dies a non-Christian is sentenced by God to spend eternity burning alive.


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  • Guy Norred

    I certainly hope so. I had never heard of Purity Balls before this and had to look them up. Appallingly inappropriate is putting it mildly.

  • They’ve been around for a little while, I think they are a creepy follow up to the Purity/abstinance ring movement that started in Evangelical youth groups during the 1990’s.

  • HappyCat

    Is divorce a sin? Yes…but it is also a sin to condemn and judge each other. I’ve been married 3 times, and I believe God has forgiven me for entering into relationships that caused more pain than love. He has also graced me with a new day and a wonderful husband. Grace abounds.

  • Laurie J.

    Do you have some blog posts regarding hell, John? As a Christian woman who’s been praying for a non-believing husband (and other family and friends) for 30 years, a little hope and less depression about it is always a good thing!

  • Reed

    Jesus talked about divorce and wasn’t a big fan of it, obviously. But the context is important. As recall my early Christianity prof explaining it, Hebrew law at the time had made it very easy for men to divorce wives for just about any reason and, given the rules of that society, being a divorced woman was extremely tough.

    People back then got married very young and marriage was mostly about family survival and economic stability, not love or a deep personal bond.

    I have no doubt that God favors our more modern custom of marrying for love. He wants us to choose our commitments carefully, but he also accepts that we are all broken and imperfect to some extent. He knows that every marriage cannot work out and ending a marriage may often the best option.

  • Mike Shipley

    What part of “unconditional” do you not understand?

  • I certainly do, thanks for asking. Here’s one of my main posts about hell (from which Rob Bell quoted at length in one of his final sermons at Mars Hill):

  • play nice, mike.

  • Why do you believe divorce is a sin?

  • I put a link in the post for those who, like you, aren’t familiar with the … borderline incestuous travesty of Purity Balls.

  • It’s no sin to judge. If it was we’d have no system of law. Judging is simply part of knowing the difference between right and wrong. If you’ve got a conscience, you judge.


    I think you, like me may believe a different gospel than these folks…You’re damn right I believe #anothergospel

  • Psycho Gecko

    They’re pretty creepy, yeah. I already knew they were bad, but somehow the Cult of Dusty video, complete with the daughters and fathers sharing a kiss in that context, really added to the creep factor of it all. Though you may not care for that one as he’s a bit of a confrontational atheist.

  • Psycho Gecko

    Yeah, bringing up hell isn’t going to do someone any favors when talking with an atheist, or really anyone who isn’t a Christian. “Hey, I think you’re a nice person and I love you, but you deserve to be tortured forever for not following my god and committing sins that were inherently finite because of our limited lifespans.”

    About the only advice I can give on this is just love while you have the life to do so.

  • Ty Duncan

    This is great John. Thank you.

  • Alan Christensen

    Unfortunately I’m not sure that breed of Christian is dying out, at least not soon.

  • Ty! Great to hear from you.

  • Matt

    I’m quite familiar with them. They are not uncommon where I’m from. It was a little strange that so many other people hadn’t heard of them.

  • To add to what you said divorce in Biblical usually result in a women having no means to support herself. As a result she was dependent on her husband for everything and all the alternatives such as prostitution where very unpleasant. This as I understand it is the main reason why Jesus spoke against divorce.

  • Giauz Ragnarock

    And helped spawn cult-classics like ‘Teeth’.

  • Giauz Ragnarock

    Neither racism nor patriarchy have died, they still rear their ugly heads in politics every now and then, but they are smelly wounded animals with bad cases of Poke-rabies.

  • Ty Duncan

    I’m just being quiet lately lol. I really appreciate you John. I hope you know that 🙂

  • Maura Hart

    really getting to like you

  • disqus_m1pHUNG44Q

    to be hones there are probably a number of more conservative Christians who have a problem with purity balls

  • Most people, regardless of faith would have a problem with these things. I doubt the adult participants recognize what it is they are promoting, or portraying.

  • Lance Schmidt

    Most of that list defined how I was taught as a youngster and then informed how I attacked Christianity as an atheist. As a new Christian it still tries to inform me, but in the last few months as I have been reading about progressive Christianity, listening to you all, meeting Jesus for the first time again and reading the Bible for the first time again I’m coming from that old darkness into a marvelous new light. I haven’t felt this hopeful and excited in years. Perhaps the most startling revelation is the unfolding understanding that I wasn’t rejecting God – but rather I was rejecting the image of God created by the system. Good stuff.

  • HappyCat

    To me, divorce is not just the final legal action to (hopefully) end a toxic situation, but marriage breakdown, the failure to keep promises made, the selfish and unloving actions that taint, corrupt and corrode those bonds. Also, not every marriage is entered into for pure reasons. Not to get too personal here, but I know that getting married at 20 had less to do with love and more to do with a host of other things going on at the time, all of it very narcissistic. As I’ve told my kids, sin is something everyone struggles with. So I reject the notion of ‘sinner’ as a mark of shame, because well, we might as well be ashamed of being human. I’ve done what I can to come to a place of repentance and forgiveness, so that in the end, I can move on to form better and loving relationships. I believe that in examining my failed relationships and my part in them has led to forging even stronger bonds now.

  • Guy Norred

    Unfortunately the inverse of Proverbs 22:6 is also true. Early training is hard to overcome. You are so right about the difference between rejecting God and rejecting the image of God. Interestingly, it was in a moment at a more conservative church that something jumped at me to point this out. While I grew up in a relatively progressive Christian environment, my parents grew more and more conservative over the years and a few years ago I was visiting them and went to church with them. At this point, while I don’t believe I ever lost my faith, I was not at all actively following it. This church was a KJV only church and when the during his sermon, the paster read “For now we see through a glass, darkly…” it kind of jumped at me. I had heard this verse an any number of translations including this one, but that “darkly” (which honestly I don’t think is the best translation, but…) just seemed to speak some truth. If the image we see is not about love, then that image is not clear.

  • Agreed, even here in London, try the (I’m not sure I’m getting the name quite right) church of the cherubim and seraphim and their ‘apostle’. Apart from the Anglo-saxon and West European world, that’s the growing breed.

  • R Vogel

    OK, not being familiar with the whole ‘Purity Balls’ thing, I first giggled at the entendre, then I followed the link and was thoroughly skeeved out. I think we have the winner for the creepiest link of the week….

    Beyond the pictures the most hoorifying part is ‘they had made their decisions out of their own conviction and faith….’ Sure they did….

  • Jim Freymuth

    That’s why a real Christian calls homosexuality a sin.

  • Bones

    Wow, a real Christian, hey.

    I’m just going to have to content with being a fake one.

  • Bones

    Why does God need to forgive you for inflicting pain upon yourself?

    God doesn’t need to forgive you.

    You need to forgive yourself.

  • Jim Freymuth

    Agreed. There are lots of fake ones. You’re not alone. True Christians are Biblical, in their theology. When you make up your own brand of Christianity, it’s not Christianity at all. It’s called idolatry.

  • Bones

    True Christians are Biblical…


    When you make up your own brand of Christianity…

    That’s called Protestantism, dude.

    Thousands of sects all claiming to be upholders of biblical Christianity and possessors of the Truth.

    Here’s a secret.

    God didn’t write the Bible.

    None of it.

  • Bones

    Well there are still Christians who maintain that Galileo was wrong and the Sun goes around the Earth.

    And the Earth is not moving.

    So there will always be a lunatic remnant who think they hold to some secret ‘truth’.

  • HappyCat

    And that is part of an ongoing spiritual journey. Reconciliation is a much more complex and powerful process than most people are led to believe. If I inflict pain upon myself, I’m also causing pain to those around me who care about me. If i underestimate my worth or refuse to forgive myself that’s also a lack of faith in what Christianity teaches us. Make no mistake – I’m not wallowing in a bath of ‘I’m not worthy’ Rather, I’m celebrating the God of new beginnings and the joy that comes from knowing that not only am I expected to be better, that I can do better.

  • Yonah

    There was no settled Jewish law at the time of Jesus on Divorce. That is why they were debating the issue. There were different schools of thought on the matter. Within the Pharisees, the more liberal wing under Hillel had a more liberal stance on Divorce. The more conservative wing was under Shammai, and it is interesting that while most of the time Jesus took the Hillel path on a matter, on Divorce, he took the Shammai path.

    On the treatment of women and children in marriage, in Jesus’ day, the Pharisees were actually engaged in reform of laws toward greater respect and protections of women and children. Hence, Jesus’ teaching in the same vein was part and parcel of the current day Pharisaic reforms going on. For example, the Pharisees acted against a problem where men would marry a woman in order to traffic her. They enacted new rules which stipulated that once a man married a woman, he could not take her out the district…there were three (Galilee, Judea, Decapolis). Then, within the district, the Pharisees enacted a rule that stipulated that a woman could only be moved out of her hometown if the move entailed moving to better economically situated town. A downward move was not to be allowed. So, this addressed women who were disappeared and their families never saw them again, and just plain poverty issues. That it was the PHARISEES that enacted these positive reforms…and contiuned to do so to the present day…as rabbinic Judaism IS the Pharisaic movement….OUGHT to re-inform those predisposed to trashing the Pharisees and the whole Jewish tradition. Jesus’ forward looking positions on women were part and parcel of everything that was currently going on in Judaism at the time.

  • Laurie, I hope you can resolve this depression. I was the ex-Christian in my marriage and my Christian husband seemed to suffer the same pain you’re experiencing. 30 years is a very long time to be afraid and sad about something. It’s good you’re wondering about it. The whole problem of Hell was a stumbling-block for me too when I was still a Christian; the more I thought about it, the less I could reconcile the idea with a genuinely loving deity. I’ve heard every rationalization there is at this point for why a loving god would ever do that to anybody, and none of those apologetics excuses hold any water. There is no spell anybody could utter that’d magically make inescapable, punitive, non-rehabilitative violent torture for eternity into something even halfway acceptable to me. It’s just so beyond obvious to me that Hell is a barbaric doctrine dreamed up to inspire terror and obedience. But when I was Christian, I didn’t even stop to wonder about it until the end; I spent countless hours praying and weeping for my “lost” loved ones, begging my god to please, please, please not hurt them.

    If your man treats you with respect and love, that’s not a given even among Christian men–and I know that from experience. It’s heartbreaking to think about someone suffering so many years. And it’s not a whole lot better being on the other side of that equation, but this is long enough as is. Good luck to you both. I really hope you can break free of that fear and depression.

  • Jim Freymuth

    You’re in for a rude awakening, Bones. You don’t want to believe that God wrote the Bible, because your sinful nature doesn’t want to submit to it. But you’ll see. See you at the end of the race.

  • Maybe a better analogy is that God spoke the Bible to tens if not hundreds of persons who transcribed it as best they could. That’s why you get song and poetry and missives and gospels and rules, the whole variety of God’s word. Then you have the hundreds if not thousands who translated those original scribbles into our language (assuming you don’t speak Ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek.) Then you have the thousands who transcribed them from parchment to parchment over centuries.

    Put it another way: my don sat with three authoritative original texts on his lap. I sat across from him with three translations (usually the KJV, NJB, and NRSV) on mine. And neither of us would say anything like “submit to my version or you’re in for a rude awakening.” Can you not see how silencing and arrogant that is?

  • Laurie J.

    Thank you for your sweet words Cassidy! Forgive me if I made you think I’ve been suffering from depression, as that’s not the case. Just the thinking of loved ones going to Hell is depressing so I try not to dwell on that aspect of it and was curious to hear what John had to say about it. My husband adores me and I him and I think he has more Christian values than me sometimes! I finally gave up worrying and said, “God, he’s yours, YOU save him! I don’t think it’s my job.” 🙂

  • Bones

    I don’t believe God wrote the Bible because He didn’t.



    2 Samuel 24:1

    ” Now again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and it incited David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah.””

    God seems a bit confused.

    1 Chronicles 21:1

    ” Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel.”

    Then of course God ‘strikes’ Israel because God is pissed with taking a census! Wtf!

    The Bible is full of errors, opinions, redactions and contradictions which is what you’d expect given the thousands of writers and compilers involved in it’s compilation.

    Much of the Bible is the author’s own opinion, certainly not fact, neither is it divinely inspired.

    No matter how much you huff and puff you can’t change that.

  • Bones

    Add this one to your list.

    Toni Braxton: ‘God gave my son autism as punishment for my abortion’

    Apparently God still goes around punishing people OT style.

    He mustn’t have minded Josef Stalin then.

  • Belief that God is the literal author of the Bible is a personal, theological matter that is hardly shared by all of Christendom. To make such a statement as you have to Bones, is rude and quite arrogant.

    Also playing the “true Christian” game is an effort in futility. There are several Christian groups that attempt to lay claim to that title. Of course, who knows, based on their wildly divergent theologies which one is the true Christian group and which is the false, because none of them recognize the validity of the other. What it really is, is a prideful, childish game of cosmic one upmanship.

    Therefore, I strongly urge you to exercise respect to the people who visit, write and comment here.

  • IF that is the marker of a real Christian, its a shrinking group. as more and more Christians are rejecting that belief all the time.

  • Andy

    I would like to tag this comment “mandatory reading”.

  • Andy

    If by “dying out” you mean “near extinction”, then I agree. They aren’t “dying out”…yet. And if by “dying” John means “decreasing in number with no sign of reversing the trend”, then I agree with that, too. Unfortunately, there will probably always be some number of people who call themselves Christians despite holding some antiquated beliefs like the ones John listed, just as there will probably always be racists and misogynists.

  • Andy

    Ugh, really? That’s awful.

    Who wants to believe in a vengeful god?

  • Andy

    My favorite lunatic who think he holds the secret truth is this guy. He’s the internet equivalent of a train wreck.

  • Bones


  • Bones

    “You’re in for a rude awakening, Bones. ”

    I get your drift. The Naked Pastor sums up Real Christians quite nicely.

  • No putting your faith in a book rather than the risen Lord is idolatry.

  • Ransom Backus

    I am quite alright with being a “dying Breed” of Christian. I have to stay true to what God has taught me…regardless of whether it’s popular or not. I stand by what I believe and don’t sell out just because the rest of the world doesn’t like it.

  • Ransom Backus

    I usually don’t associate with Christians who support homosexuality. They are toxic to me. I agree with YOU sir.

  • Bones

    Some people feel the same about blacks. Sorry that we’re toxic to you.

    I feel sorry for your baby.

  • Bones

    God hasn’t ‘taught’ you anything.

    You have been indoctrinated into a set of beliefs by others.

    Nothing to do with God.

    More with finding people who say what you like to hear.

  • Hi Laurie 🙂 It would have been so nice had my Christian husband taken that tack! It was awful for him to keep talking (and loudly praying) about how upset he was about me going to Hell. Made me wonder why he’d ever worship and praise a god who’d torture the woman he loved forever and ever and ever–or allow me to be tortured for any reason, same difference as far as I’m concerned. But the idea of eternal torture for disobedience is very powerful, which is why it’s lasted as long as it has; it’s hugely disproportionate, mind-bogglingly excessive, and worst of all absolutely impossible to verify in any way. As threats go that’s about the hardest kind to face, so I admire your courage in doing so after all this time. Many good wishes and thanks for the update 🙂 30 years is pretty impressive–you two sound like you’re doing something right! I think what we do with our beliefs matters a lot more than the beliefs themselves, and your husband sounds like a catch no matter what label he wears.

  • toujoursdan

    I do think divorce is a sin. It’s a breakdown in relationship. It’s a broken promise. It causes harm to innocent third parties (children, family and friends.)

    However I also think that sin is inevitable in this life. To quote Martin Luther: “We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2. Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign.”

    Life occasionally presents us with a set of bad options where we are left to pick the least bad of them all. Sometimes divorce is the lesser of two evils, so I don’t think that those who make that choice should be treated as any different than the rest of us.

  • Ransom Backus

    ahhh the usual comparison to blacks. Homosexuality involves behavior considered immoral by MANY. Having black skin doesn’t. That being said, I could write a book here LOL. but I won’t dominate the thread with a lengthy description, but I have very good reasons for saying what I say. A lot of it has to do with what God has discipled me directly about concerning masculinity in its pure, undomesticated form. I respect human beings and their right to choose for themselves, but if the journey proves toxic to what God has shown me, I don’t have to come along.

  • toujoursdan

    LOTS of Christians support the LGBT community, including those who have deeply studied the Bible.

  • toujoursdan

    Many true Biblical Christians have come to the conclusion that the Bible doesn’t address homosexuality outside of a specific context (pagan cult prostitution) and can’t be applied to gay relationships today. Many true Biblical Christian denominations welcome the LGBT community into their midst and bless their relationships.

    If you think homosexuality is toxic, you obviously haven’t actually gotten to know many gay people.

  • toujoursdan

    The Bible never claims that God wrote it. People wrote it. They may have been inspired by God, but they wrote it out of their own cultural, rhetorical and historical context. To think otherwise is to turn the Bible into a idol – idolatry.

  • Ransom Backus

    you know nothing about me sir. You have taken the stereotype church goer and applied your findings about them to me. YOU don’t know that I completely severed ties with the conventional church. You don’t know that I won’t willingly sit under a pastor, or read the next great Christian book out there. You don’t know my encounters in the woods with angels, demons and other two years ago. You don’t know the time I spent directly learning at the Master’s feet after having walked through an interdimensional portal. I usually don’t hang out with too many people who say what I like to hear, since my encounters I have kind of been on the outs with mainstream Christianity by and large and I usually am the one saying things whether people like to hear them or not. When I speak, often times it’s things that other people don’t like to hear. So PLEASE sir do not stereotype me or stick me in a convenient category so you can readily label me as “one of those.” And do NOT say what God has taught me and not taught me as you know nothing of my DIRECT encounters with God. thank you.

  • Ransom Backus

    And that is probably one of many reasons I don’t find myself meshing well with a lot of Christians. This article says I am a dying breed. I am fine with that. I can’t sell out just because of what a lot of people are doing. I change for no one unless God Himself directly tells me Ia m wrong.

  • toujoursdan

    All kinds of activities are considered immoral by MANY. Eating pork and drinking alcohol are considered immoral by Jews and Muslims. Polygamy is considered immoral in the Christian west but is accepted in Christian Africa. So what?

    A gay couple in a loving relationship exhibit the fruits of the Spirit as taught in Galatians as much as any other couple. If people want to be blind to that Godly sacrificial love and commitment, then they will lose out on yet another way God shows His love for us. It’s a shame, but not for the couple themselves.

    A homosexual orientation IS innate and unchangeable, just like race. Gay people area treated differently because of who they are, not what they are doing.

    (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been single and celibate yet still condemned by right-wing Christians solely because I am open about being gay, so don’t give me that line about it’s just a behaviour.) The comparison with race is completely apt.

    Finally, the gay community isn’t going to just disappear, so right-wing Christians need to learn to talk to rather than talk at gay people. For all the talk about love, the rhetoric from these people isn’t loving at all.

  • toujoursdan

    Keep listening then, as more and more Christians who think like you do are being told by God Himself that they are wrong and are changing.

  • Ransom Backus

    but what if, after deep and elongated personal encounters that God has told me the exact opposite, not only telling me that it’s wrong, but explaining down to every last detail WHY it’s wrong? All of a sudden it doesn’t get so easy. So then we run into a problem. Why are many Christians hearing from God that homosexuality is ok, while I am getting the exact opposite including a breakdown of the details as to why it’s wrong? Either God is arguing with Himself or we are now dealing with two different entities?

  • Ransom Backus

    Also, please refrain from the usual habit that your crowd (the liberal progressive) has…of bringing my kid into this. It’s a cheap shot. I will keep this respectful and not make personal comments as long as you do. K?

  • toujoursdan

    What if, after the same deep and elongated personal encounters, God told me just the exact opposite of what he told you? When I was a student, studying the BIble at an evangelical college, I spent a lot of time on the 6 anti-homosexuality passages. I learned their rhetorical and historical context. I learned about how and why Mosaic law has the rules that it does. I learned about those they were interpreted and applied.

    I also prayed about it daily. If God wanted me to be straight or celibate, I would have gladly done that for God. But that isn’t where God took me. Through my prayer life God led to me a gay friendly Church. God introduced to many deeply Christian gay couples who showed me that they can live Godly lives. And God led me to slowly accept myself as a gay man. God has blessed me with an amazing life and amazing partner. We continue to pray for God’s guidance and wisdom in our lives daily.

    I have to believe that this is God’s will for my life. The journey He took me on turned me into a more compassionate, more loving and more Christlike person. I have a way to go, but I trust where God is leading me.

  • toujoursdan

    Right, because only liberals and progressives do this. (rolls eyes).

  • Ransom Backus

    SO then, either God argues with himself or we are now dealing with two different entities. And in that we part ways respectfully.

  • toujoursdan

    Again, all I can do is feel sorry for those who refuse to see where God is working in His world.

  • Ransom Backus

    I have never had a conservative Christian make off-handed comments about my kids because they disagree with me. Keep the comments directed at me personally. No need for the usual (and I have heard them MANY times from liberals) “sorry for your kids” or “one day your kids will see the truth and turn against you” etc….that is a low blow and uncalled for. Again, I can keep this respectful, can anyone else who disagrees with me?

  • Ransom Backus

    which God? I have come to the conclusion that you and others who “God” has taught the error of their ways about homsosexuality, are, for all intents and purposes dealing with a different entity altogether than the one I am.

  • toujoursdan

    Jesus Christ is my only Lord and Savior. I can only follow Him and endeavour to do His will.

    I don’t know which God you follow.

  • Ransom Backus

    Jesus Christ of course…so then either Jesus Christ is arguing with Himself or there are two Jesus Christs, Lord and Saviors out there.Hey I can’t explain the visions, the instruction and the whole nine yards and why God is having an argument with Himself, but I Can’t sway from what He has shown me explicitly and vividly because someone else says that He told them the opposite. What am I supposed to do? Oh well, I guess I’ll be ok being this dying breed here.

  • toujoursdan

    You need to pay attention to more comments then. People of all political and religious persuasions do it.

  • Ransom Backus

    perhaps…still…I won’t do it to anyone else either.

  • toujoursdan

    And how many gay people do you know? How many couples have you talked to and, more importantly, listened to? Have you gotten to know any gay Christians? How is God telling you these things explicitly as you say? How is it that Christianity is done in a vacuum apart from the people ?

    I’m sorry you don’t listen to others, as the Bible presents God speaking through the witness of others – to Jesus, to the Apostles and to St Paul. You sound very closed off and that makes me very sad. Part of the Christian community is LGBT. The Holy Spirit it working through us, whether those who won’t engage us like it our not.

  • toujoursdan

    Great. Neither do I. So stop making blanket judgments about a group of people based on a few online comments.

  • toujoursdan

    I’ve seen many Christian conservatives tell me I’m going to hell and said that that they feel sorry for my family, including my young nephews because God is going to punish them because they’d don’t hate me enough. How is that any different?

    Should I assume ALL Christian conservatives are that hateful?

  • Wouldn’t it be better to be a living breed of Christian? One who chooses kindness over judgment and real people over the fairytales you were taught? “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” It has nothing to do with popularity. Believe me, hang out here long enough, the progressives hate you because you’re Christian and the Christians hate you because you’re progressive. But at least you know you’re not just a lazy sell out to old ideas.

  • Ransom Backus

    listening to others is great…I did for MANY years…and I listened to many many people who tell me SO many different conflicting things. So who should I listen to? You? You say God speaks through YOUR witness. Then someone who disagrees with you says God speaks through THEIR witness. So if I listen to you, they say I am not listening to THEM and vice versa. I have been on this journey for a VERY long time. I realized that no matter WHAT I believe, there will be groups of Christians to tell me I am in error and THEY bear the true witness of God. In the end, I have to be responsible for the choices I make, and only I have to live with myself. Why am I closed off? Because I was wide open for many many years and it got me hurt, spat me out, and pushed me to the brink of suicide. In my broken state asked God to teach me as I got tired of being misled on goose chases. I asked God to reveal to me the truth. And He DID show me specific people to listen to and specific books to read. He then told me not to stray from what I was taught regardless of what other people said. So then, by principle and sheer notion of my relationship with Him I CAN’T concede no matter what opposing viewpoints say. I have to obey God’s SPECIFIC instructions not to stray from the message He has taught me in His voice. To concede and suddenly believe the exact opposite puts me in a place of disobedience and a state of being double minded in all of my ways. So what do you want from me?

  • Ransom Backus

    SO when I ask God to teach me directly and He tells me not to stray and if I obey what God tells me by not being “progressive” enough for you I guess by default that makes me a dying breed. I pray, contemplate, meditate, have very strange and imminent, even tangible encounters with God, angels, and demons and am instructed by the Master directly and He tells me not to stray from what He teaches me. What am I supposed to do?

  • Well, I’ve experienced some unexplainable stuff. Coincidences which were a little too coincidental, if you get what I mean. Epiphanies where a text that confused me suddenly crystalized.

    But you? I’d remember God taught love above all else, and I’d get a good psychiatrist. I don’t say that with any judgment. I’ve had a shrink for years. But if you’re having TANGIBLE encounters with demons, I’d get that checked.

  • Ransom Backus

    Now here is where I am guilty of being a dying breed: (I can’t exactly change this just because people don’t like it.
    1: yes I am morally superior by being in Christ to the unbeliever. Not because of anything I do but because His sinlessness, His righteousness is inherited by me and it is HIS morality that as renewed my mind. It is not in and of myself that I am righteous but Christ in me.
    2:Yes, being gay or transgendered is an offense to God. I asked Him directly. He told me. I can’t change that just because others hear or read something differently. That’s why we have denominations in the church. Don’ like a certain teaching or belief? you can always find a church that caters to you.
    3:Men are suited to be head of church and home as I have yet to meet a woman that can do the job just as well. I was born and raised in a matriarchal home and church and it emasculated me. My life was destroyed as a result of women taking over. Due to personal abuse issues of my own life, I simply don’t trust women to lead me.
    4: Yes God wants wives to submit to their husbands. Of course on the same token, the husband must love the wife like Christ loves the church, for in doing so, he loves his own flesh. The etymology of “husband” was a caretaker of a garden. It is my job to prune and cultivate my wife’s heart for her to blossom and be the most beautiful woman she can be. If she doesn’t submit to my hand in trust, it makes it more difficult to do my job.
    5 God is not a man, but the Bible refers to him as masculine in traits. WE call Him father God (never mother.) He is masculine in that the masculine is the active voice. God acts upon, and nature responds, therefore rendering everything else in nature feminine by default, waiting to be acted upon.
    6: A woman needs to be mindful of the weakness of men and dress accordingly. Sorry ladies, men will lust after you if you dress like a hooker. You can’t change that by saying “they shouldn’t.” It’s biological. To coin the expression used by progressives “we were born that way.”
    7: Divorce was allowed by Moses because our hearts are hardened. Remarriage after divorce, except for cases of infidelity or the unbelieving spouse (I will add, by permission, an extreme abusive situation where life and limb of all involved are at risk) remarriage after divorce is a sin. God’s heart towards divorce is either remain single afterwards or, as He prefers, reconcile.
    8: Hell is a real location. I have seen it.

    SO then. I am a dying breed. Now what? Am I supposed to somehow change everything God has taught me and shown me just because an article of some blogger calls me a dying breed? I keep in mind that in the last days there IS a major apostasy befalling the church, where people chase after their own desires and lusts over God’s will. So if I am a dying breed…so be it. I can’t change to please people.

  • Ransom Backus

    Love IS the core of everything I believe. However, what most people call love looks very different than what I have discovered. NOW, as for psychologists I check in regularly to make sure I haven’t gone insane. Why is it that prophets and apostles in the Bible can encounter God and we don’t bat an eye but today if someone does, they are considered bat shit crazy? LOL.

  • Ransom Backus

    So now after going down these comments it is apparent to me that God, (Father, Son, and Spirit) argue with each other because I get the opposite “:God told me” than other people get.
    So then. Who is correct? Let me throw this one out there. Who among you carries a cross? (and PLEASE don’t tell me that it’s because you are gay. Pursuing personal pleasures and satisfaction and being scorned for it isn’t a cross.) But seriously. Who here denies themselves as Jesus called us to do? Who is ready to die on the cross with Jesus, abandoning family, wealth, a comfortable life, even their own lives literally, for the sake of following Jesus? What I find is a cultivated gospel of feeling good, whatever makes things more comfortable and pleasurable and an easier life. (and yes, politics are working over time to make gays happy. If the rest of the world wants to make you happy as is, I would question the source.) I have discovered God and the call is transcendent, not to make me comfortable in more of the same. The call is transformation into something completely different, something in a very real sense, alien to the rest of the world. In Christ we are not identified by the flesh or its passions or desires (i.e. in Christ you are not “gay” your identity is in His righteousness) so then if you call yourself gay, I echo Paul in stating that I don’t regard you according to the flesh. You are in Christ and that is all I will ever see in you. So then. Which version are you dealing with? the version that says “it’s ok to be exactly as you are, be comfortable and happy and just have fun.” or the version that says “Take up your cross. Be ready to die. deny yourself, the flesh and its lusts, do not love the world or the things in the world…”?

  • LOL, I’ve used both John the Baptist and Mary of Magdala as exemplars. I hear you; a modern man wanders into the desert for 40 days and sees the Almighty, he lands in an insane asylum.

    As far as shrinks, that’s why I stipulated a psychiatrist not a psychologist. That has nothing to do with medication and everything with they have a medical degree. I’m sure there are qualified psychologists, but WAY too many do a year in community college and that makes them a “life coach.”

    Best of luck.

  • Ransom Backus

    the last psychologist I spoke with, I asked what he would say to Ezekiel (the man who laid on his side for 365 days facing a model of the city eating food cooked over poop) or Isaiah (the man running naked through the streets, prophesying gloom and doom) or John the Baptist if they were on his therapy couch? You get the point. If God actually spoke to me, an angel appeared to me, or more specifically, I walked through a portal outside of time and sat at the feet of the Master learning directly, can we know it today? Probably not, because in our civilized society, we automatically assume that such a man is bat shit crazy. Note: the original word for prophet is synonymous for the word :”madman”. meh, it comes with the territory.

  • Ransom Backus

    BTW: I’ve read Orwells 1984 which parallels Stalin’s regime. One of the tactics of the tyrant is to diagnose ANYONE with beliefs and thoughts deviant from what they wish to impose on the people as insane, and they need to be cured. I suppose when the liberal regime fully takes over I may spend the rest of my days in a reeducation camp in the name of being insane.

  • For the record, sermons are kinda a waste of time here, especially thus themed ones

  • You are of course entitled to your opinion, but while you are patting yourself on your back, why don’t you take a moment to ask yourself why more and more people want nothing to do with a form of Christianity that is related to anything on that list.

    Its an important question, that has roots in that sense of superiority evident in your two comments

  • Ransom Backus

    why? Well….no one likes the cross. Face it. Who wants to die on a cross? We live in a sensualized society where pleasure and feeling happy is not only encouraged, but the unwritten law.

  • Ransom Backus

    BTW, I saw a sense of superiority in this entire blog! LOL (hi pot, meet kettle…you two have something in common….) This blog REEKS of a sense of superiority over those who disagree with the author and his fan club. They list out quite a few things many Christians believe, and there is a passive aggressive mocking and scorning tone towards anyone who believes these things. I’ve been debating with this group of progressive Christians for years now. I know all of the arguments pretty well and I get the tone as well (yes there are a FEW exceptions) and there is an air of arrogance and condescension through and though…from “well, I feel sad for you,” to “you need to be educated (like me implied)” or “one day God will show you the truth…” etc….Superiority INDEED!

  • prolejarian

    Please number me with the dying breed. Thanks

  • Noted. This will make sorting for the Second Coming so much easier.

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    *****If the rest of the world wants to make you happy as is, I would question the source.******

    So then….and still? You questioned the source of the black civil rights movement, right?

    You questioned the source of women’s sufferage, right?

    ***** do not love the world*******
    That short sighted dualist love-God-hate-his-creation attitude is precisely why we are fucking up the environment. When “revelations” happens, and I do think it has begun, it will be only in the sense that “God” is a cosmic force of action/reaction and revelations will be our own doing….and undoing. Christianity has become the bane of our lovely, natural world. The Native Americans had it right.

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    *****Don’ like a certain teaching or belief? you can always find a church that caters to you.*****

    Do tell please, which denomination among the smorgasbord did YOU choose. Because if you belong to one, you DID choose it…….just like the rest of us……or in my case, none in recent years.

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    *****there is an air of arrogance and condescension through and though.******

    Something you have good reason to readily recognize.

  • BarbaraR

    *I’ve been debating with this group of progressive Christians for years now. I know all of the arguments pretty well *

    So really, you’re just trolling.

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    Ummmm, news flash to you……GOD created all that “pleasure and feeling”. You don’t have the grace to accept the gift.

  • prolejarian

    Hilarious comment. Ha ha.

  • I try.

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    Sorry man, I don’t buy all that “God tells me” stuff. Is it something you hear audibly? In what language? Is it a vision? A dream? A burning bush?! Or is it merely a “traditional” interpretation you have heard from other humans in your church or religious group; the circular thinking closed network who all talk the same way.

    Have you given consideration to the possibility that this Progressive Christian development is God’s Spirit working among us in this time? I know you would say it cannot be because you have already decided what God thinks (which gets us to the issue of the anthropomorphization of God; making God in our image, but that’s another discussion). If that isn’t the epitome of arrogance then I don’t know what is. There was a time when racism was a righteous prejudice because God made it so. There was a time when women were property because God made it so. There was a time when slavery was ok because God made it so. I could go on for quite a bit of space here but you know very well what my point is. It is that God’s Spirit continues to speak to us, to move us to greater justice and Love in our human relationships. It didn’t stop somewhere in the past that even you could not determine. And today few would think that those developments we now live with were the wrong spiritual direction.
    So what makes you think that isn’t what’s happening with the current gay issues worldwide? Certainly NOT your intellectual integrity!!!!!!!

  • Ransom Backus

    I stepped out of the church circuit altogether….I just got tired of the dog and pony show and jumping through hoops.

  • Ransom Backus

    not quite…I am in and out over the years…call it dumb curiosity, but every now and then I look in to see if unity IS actually possible. As I learn more about what I believe and how to articulate it effectively, I guess there is that dumb optimism that hopes for a slight chance that MAYBE us fundamentalists can have a bond with the rest of the Christians.

  • Ransom Backus

    “Have you given consideration to the possibility that this Progressive Christian development is God’s Spirit working among us in this time?” Yes….in fact for awhile…I believed like many of the Christian progressives do…for awhile anyway…Then someone and something got my attention…and I was corrected and knocked down a notch or two in the process.

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    Well, it’s a fairly safe bet that many of the ancient prophets would today be psychologically diagnosed rather than feared or respected. Surely Abraham would be among the most notable for such a distinction. He would today be considered murderously schizophrenic and locked up.

    You have been telling us enuf about your chats with God to make me wonder about YOU!!

  • Guest

    many people wonder about me! LOL….it comes with the territory.

  • Ransom Backus

    after I have seen Christ’s life and heard His call….they aren’t goals to me, but pleasant by products of chance and circumstance. The cross is the goal.

  • Ransom Backus

    For to me to live is Christ but to DIE is gain. You and me are the walking dead my friend.

  • Ransom Backus

    They weren’t feared or respected in their day either. Jeremiah for example….people seldom listened to prophets. I am used to my role. I move in the mentality of Ezekiel…dealing with a hard-hearted rebellious people that won’t listen. We speak not to be feared or respected or even to be heeded, but that the record shows they WERE warned before the judgment.

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    OK, Ransom, believe as you wish and live you life the way that makes you feel safe and saved and as long as how you relate to others is benign, no problem. But you know as well as everyone here what the reality is among many so called “christians” toward gays and even women still. “By their fruits ye shall know them” and you know very well that the attitude of yet many christians toward gays is rotten fruit that is nothing short of evil. There is simply no rational argument against that.

  • Ransom Backus

    Indeed…which kind of makes me almost a man without a country. I view it to be just like any other sin…from adultery to smoking too much to cheating on your taxes. I have had my own nasty run ins with abusive and power-driven churches in my life to the point that I wrote a book about it. I Can agree that it’s nasty out there. I try my best in my dealings with people, regardless of their favorite sin, to treat them most kindly…after all, they have probably had their share of abuse for it if they had anything to do with the churches I have had.

  • The cross is the goal .. .of what??

  • You’d be surprised how many Christians do not adhere to that list. As for the attempt lessen our worth because we have the audacity to cry “no” to the insistence to conservative dogma, all of us are arrogant and mocking.

    Nice try, but it don’t work like that. Many of us were in the conservative camp., but we could no longer ignore what we saw as flaws. Flaws that hindered iur purpose, our insight, our connection to God. We also saw how people have been hurt, over and over and decided to stop being a part of the problem, and to start looking for better solutions. We’ve been vilified for it.

    So be it. I know I believe god loves all of us and cares less about our religions than how well we practice loving one another.

  • Ransom Backus

    the faith. WE die that we might live. How familiar are you with the teachings of Jesus and the apostles concerning what it takes to follow Him?

  • anakinmcfly

    “(and PLEASE don’t tell me that it’s because you are gay. Pursuing personal pleasures and satisfaction and being scorned for it isn’t a cross.)”

    True, but what does that have to do with being gay? :/ I have yet to receive any personal pleasure or satisfaction from being gay; pretty much the opposite.

    “If the rest of the world wants to make you happy as is, I would question the source”

    Is the flipside true? i.e. if the rest of the world wants to make you sad, that’s awesome and shouldn’t be questioned? Ok, fair enough. Who’s your favourite serial killer? What do you find the most admirable thing about Hitler? I think his moustache was pretty rad.

    “i.e. in Christ you are not “gay” your identity is in His righteousness)”

    So I gather you don’t consider yourself straight either? i.e. if someone asks you what your sexual orientation is, you say ‘His righteousness’?

  • anakinmcfly

    *takes out troll feed*

    2: You know what, find me a single verse in the bible that says anything about transgenderism being a sin. Because while the case for homosexuality is potentially arguable, there isn’t a single verse that deals with trans people. Meanwhile, if gay and trans people offend God, why did he make us? Because it’s not like any of us *chose* to be this way. If you think it’s a choice, please, by all means, tell me how to choose to be otherwise. I tried for years and no one ever told me how.

    3: The number of women abused – and whose lives were destroyed – by male family members and clergy far, far outnumbers the number of men abused by women, so by that logic, no man should be allowed to be the head of a house.

    5. Not really; the Bible uses feminine traits to describe God too, e.g. in the comparisons with God to a mother, or talk of God’s ‘womb’, as well as to various traditionally-female roles.

  • Good

    I just split up with a fundamentalist Christian, because to me that kind of belief is as far from God (and Jesus) as you could get.

  • anakinmcfly

    “One of the tactics of the tyrant is to diagnose ANYONE with beliefs and thoughts deviant from what they wish to impose on the people as insane”

    Funny, that’s exactly what people have been doing (and in many places continue to do) to LGBT people for years.

  • anakinmcfly

    Except that homosexuality – for argument’s sake, I’m going to assume you’re referring specifically to homosexual sex and relationships, not just the orientation – doesn’t at all follow the ‘format’ of a typical sin. All of those other things are harmful acts with positive, healthy alternatives (defaults, really) for a person, and which everyone is capable of doing, usually including those who are doing the condemnation. Instead of committing adultery and harming one’s spouse, one could be faithful to and love their spouse. Instead of smoking and harming your health (and those of others), you could not-smoke and be healthy. Instead of cheating on your taxes and harming the government, you could be honest.

    But for a gay person, what’s the alternative to having gay sex or relationships? Living a celibate life alone, not by choice, without anyone to love or be loved by; which most of the time *does* harm the person and others around them. Are you doing that? Judging from your profile pic, I’m guessing not, and if so, you’re expecting gay people to meet standards that you yourself have not been able to. That’s hypocrisy, and it’s inherently unjust to say: “I’m allowed to pursue a relationship with someone I love and am attracted to, but if gay people do that they’re sinning.”

    That’s a double standard.

  • anakinmcfly

    …you lost me at ‘interdimensional portal’.

  • Andy

    The word “many” here is probably a poor choice.

    Nobody’s going to force you to do anything. I may not agree with you, but as long as you don’t insist that anyone (e.g. a LGBT+ person) is a second-class citizen that should be denied rights the rest of us have (e.g. marrying whomever they choose), then we can coexist peacefully.

  • Andy

    I would think this would serve as evidence that our personal interpretation of revelations we receive from God, or that we think we do, can be flawed. This is a more logical conclusion than the idea that you are praying to different deities who have told you conflicting things. Especially if you are both monotheists, which I think most Christians would say they are.

  • Andy


  • Andy

    Regarding #2, some people would probably point out Deuteronomy 22:5 (you may have heard this before), but that would indicate that they refuse to acknowledge modern-day science which distinguishes trans people from cross-dressers. And there’s probably not much hope of reaching such people, so I wouldn’t waste much time trying to reason with them.

  • anakinmcfly

    oh yeah, that. But I’ve heard it’s also doubtful that it was referring even to actual crossdressers, but rather specific goddess-worship rituals in which male worshippers would wear female clothes to honour said goddess, and likewise female worshippers of Athena(?) who would dress up in male armour to emulate her for the same purpose.

  • anakinmcfly

    “Having black skin doesn’t.”

    It used to; curse of Cain (or descendants of Ham) and all that. And I have no idea when majority opinion started being the determinant of whether or not something was right or wrong. If lots of people think stealing is fine, would that make it all right then, by your logic?

    “A lot of it has to do with what God has discipled me directly about concerning masculinity in its pure, undomesticated form.”

    So you’re ok with lesbians?

  • Brandon Roberts

    look god is probaly a man but too be honest i believe that a true christian lives there lives to be good to be as much like jesus as possible.

  • Brandon Roberts

    look it was necesarry and jesus i think it’s pretty safe to say certainly existed. so he was either A) a nutjob cult leader or B) the son of god.

  • Bones

    I have a friend who hears from God when he goes off his meds.too.

    You don’t know the time I spent directly learning at the Master’s feet after having walked through an interdimensional portal.

    Making unsubstantiated claims like that doesn’t add any weight at all to what you have to say.

    Your type who claim to have the mind of God are a dime a dozen.

    For the sake of your child, I hope you get better.

  • Brandon Roberts

    well to be honest i believe no matter what someone’ll hate you so live for you god (or not if you don’t believe in him) and i honestly do agree with the progressives on some things like kindness etc.

  • Bones

    God Told Me to Do It

    Teacher Says ‘Higher Power’ Told Him To Attack Kid With Skateboard

    Mom Allegedly Tries To Drown Son In Puddle Because Jesus Told Her To

    Man Allegedly Stabs Grandma, Blames Archangel Michael

    Nurse Thinks Grandmother Was Possessed, Beats Her To Death: Cops

    Suspect: “Jesus And Mary Told Me To Kill Him Because He Is Satan’s Spawn!”

    Why does God talk to psychos?

  • Bones

    God doesn’t teach you directly. That’s a lie.

    Let me guess God tells you things you already believe.

  • Bones

    in Christ you are not “gay” your identity is in His righteousness


    I am a white Australian straight Christian male.

    They are all part of my identity.

  • Bones

    But I thought you said you don’t regard people according to the flesh.

    Galatians 3:28

    “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

    So you discriminate according to whether or not someone is a male or female and you bleat further in this thread about stereotyping yet stereotype women as untrustworthy.

    The hypocrisy is astounding. .

    Btw are you remarried?

    Also hell isn’t a real location.

  • Bones

    A lot of it has to do with what God has discipled me directly about concerning masculinity in its pure, undomesticated form.

    Yeah sure.

    Now I feel sorry for your wife.

    Dude, I think you’ll find the only thing toxic is the rubbish you’re writing.

  • Bones

    Let me guess. He’s white and has a long white beard.

  • Bones

    God is the goal. We take up our cross and follow Him. How do I follow Him

    By acting justly, loving mercy, walking humbly with God, by loving our neighbours as ourselves.

    What does the cross symbolise?

    Oppression, power, violence, hatred, discrimination, racism, religious bigotry.

    We take up not only our own cross but the crosses of others such as our gay brothers and sisters and walk with them.

  • Bones

    or C) a prophet
    D) A teacher
    E) A holy man
    F) A revolutionary

  • anakinmcfly

    1) ‘to’, not ‘too’. ‘Too’ means ‘also’, e.g. “The radioactive dinosaurs didn’t just go after the neighbours; they ate my pet iguana too.”

    2) ‘their’, not ‘there’.
    ‘There’ designates a place. e.g. “We will hide there when the zombies come”.
    ‘Their’ is a possessive term. e.g. ‘The zombies raised their arms and droned, “Braaaaains”.

  • Bones

    Yeah funny that.

    If someone said God told us to invade Iran and kill every living thing but take the virgin daughters for yourself, we’d say they were bat shit crazy.

    Just like in the Bible….

    But then that didn’t happen.

  • anakinmcfly


    “6: A woman needs to be mindful of the weakness of men and dress accordingly. Sorry ladies, men will lust after you if you dress like a hooker.”

    …You’re saying that men don’t lust over women who *don’t* dress like hookers?

    “You can’t change that by saying “they shouldn’t.” It’s biological.”

    Well, I’m a man who’s never lusted over a woman. Just other men. So much for your biology, huh? I don’t know what logic you’re operating on, because on one hand you claim that people can’t change their sexual orientation, and then at the same time you claim they can. Make up your mind.

  • CDR_N

    The PC(USA) is on the Liberal side of every theological & social issue. We have lost more than half our members since the denomination was created. The denomination has never had a single year of growth. This year, when the General Assembly abandons genuine marriage, we are likely to see the end of the denomination.

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    This is supposed to enlighten us as to your thinking? It tells us nothing. Literally…..nothing.

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    Ah, yes, the necessity and glory of suffering. Just what God intended for us. Got it!

  • Ransom Backus

    I have no idea how to do that. I have been working at it for several years and I realize it IS a losing battle. And I realize that yes, I am dying as this article suggests. Oh well. I had a good run.

  • Ransom Backus

    I have no interest in the above things. The cross DOES symbolize the death to ourselves, denying the flesh and its lusts and becoming something new. Explicitly, my brothers and sisters in Christ are no longer identified as LGBT, but in Christ. In Christ, no sexual immorality can be found.

  • Ransom Backus

    The next military action will be led by Christ Himself. Of that we can be assured in Bible prophecy.

  • Ransom Backus

    I won’t call people in sin insane. It isn’t a mental illness, it is sin. I call it for what it is.

  • Ransom Backus

    ” what’s the alternative to having gay sex or relationships? Living a celibate life alone, not by choice, without anyone to love or be loved by; which most of the time *does* harm the person and others around them”
    Obey Jesus. Follow His word. Sometimes that means sacrificing our pleasure and comfortable life. What is the cross? Is it designed to keep us comfortable, happy and fulfilled in this world? That is no cross, that is a therapist’s couch and a self help book. That being said, the mind is a very powerful thing, especially when we take on a brand new identity in Christ. In Christ, there are no LGBT. I do not regard anyone in Christ according to the flesh. IF they tell me they are gay I’ll say “no you aren’t, you are Christ’s righteousness.”

  • Ransom Backus

    leave my kid out of this.

  • Ransom Backus

    you can cling to the identity of the flesh or to the identity in Christ. That IS your choice, but we walk not after the things of the Flesh but the spirit.

  • Ransom Backus

    nope. I am not straight. I don’t believe there is such a thing as a “sexual orientation” in God’s design. I am a man. I present my body for righteousness and what God desires of me. Any other desires that are not of Him are disregarded and not my identity. I am in Christ.

  • Are we talking Reagan-esque inciting of unrest in the Middle East in order to hasten end times? Or completely supernatural military action?

    I don’t get to type that every day.

  • I have been a Christian all my life, but the Christianese rhetoric makes no sense. the teachings of Jesus was themed around loving one’s neighbor as yourself, with his demonstrating how to do so. The apostles were merely his followers.

    The goal of the cross is faith? That we die to live? those just catchy little phrases. Where is the depth, of meaning to such a thing?

  • Someone knocked you around to force you into changing your mind? Geez.

  • Aaaaaaggghhh. God as a general who’s going to be in a seriously destructive frame of mind! Makes my eye twitch as I am reminded of having that shit drilled into my head in the crazy fundy cult I grew up in.

  • You liken yourself to Ezekiel? Oy!

  • enough with the sermonizing There is nothing in what you say that offers comfort, or help, or even much that makes sense.

    You can believe what you want. Your influence on other’s beliefs however, are very limited, especially when dealing with a group of very highly intelligent people as you will find in the regular commenters here. You may want to find another tree to bark up, if you wish to continue

  • What is it about people who are liberal that cause them to be under the cross hairs of the zealously religious?

  • Really allegro? I only know it from Omens of Millennium by Harold Bloom. He traces the nuclear arms race back to Gnosticism. Guess I got lucky.

  • Buahahaha.

    I am so glad you had an opportunity do so today. I about chortled my napping husband awake.

  • It was a foundational tenet of the group I grew up in. Forget the beatitudes,forget the parable of Jesus, it was what is the mark of the beast and who were the nations represented by that critter written about in Daniel. Who is the whore of Babylon in Revelatons and who was Gog and Magog in the book of Ezekiel,,

    Then there were the really offbeat tenets

  • This comment and most of the others you have posted fail the Turning test. You had me believing that this a genuine point of view for a while but you’ve gone over the top with you comments one time to many.

  • Brandon Roberts

    oh o.k. i’ll try better from now on.

  • Brandon Roberts

    probaly not to be honest i don’t know what god looks like.

  • Bones

    This is the spirit that stereotypes women as untrustworthy.

    That’s not a spirit.

    It’s in your head.

  • Bones

    Obviously you’re not interested in truth.

    You have no idea what ‘the cross’ means.

    You just like parroting it over and over again.

  • Bones

    There is nothing prophetic about Revelation.

    Nil. Zilch.

    No lake of fire.

    No four horsemen.

    No anti-Christ.

    No Jesus arriving on an Abrams tank armed with a chain gun smiting unbelievers.

    Don’t know who this God is you’re talking to.

    He doesn’t know much about the Bible.

  • You have no interest in being humble or seeking justice, or loving your neighbor, or acting in a just manner?

    How tragic

  • So how do you know God tells you such things?

  • I wish I still had a copy of the book, but it discussed Revelations as a work that was contemporary for the people of the author’s time. The symbolism was shown to be easily understood to that audience, and was not written as an oracle to the far future.

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    You have no idea how to do ….what? And what are you dying from?

  • Ellen Polzien

    Then how do you know that God is a man?

  • Ellen Polzien

    That sounds like Gnosticism.

  • Guest

    Brandon, do not worry about it. this is a blog, not an English class.

  • CwbyT

    I thought the only thing that was eternal was God. Why wouldn’t congregtions and churches, which are organic entities made of changeable people with changeable attitudes and understanding about faith, religion, civil rights and science at some point face the end of their “lives”. I think it’s the hubris of “if you’re not with us you’re against us” mentality ” that may be responsible for the demise of any denomination than some “liberal agenda” promoted by what is also constantly referred to as a “tiny minority”.

  • Brandon Roberts

    the bible says so but to be fair we’ll know when we meet him/her. and it doesn’t really matter all that should matter is what kind of person one is.

  • Brandon Roberts


  • Funsize

    Not to mention THE most liberal denomination, the Episcopal Church, is also on a steady decline. ELCA isn’t looking too good either, after the LCMS split, they’ve been shrinking, too. Virtually nobody even recognizes American Baptists. Whereas Southern Baptists, Assemblies of God, and Churches of Christ have been increasing in numbers. I don’t know what the author of this blog was actually thinking when writing this article .-.

  • anakinmcfly

    You’re welcome!

  • anakinmcfly

    “I am a man.”

    Well, that’s an identity right there. And the Bible explicitly says there is no male nor female in Christ Jesus, which means, with full Biblical support, in Christ you are not ‘a man’; your identity is in His righteousness.

  • anakinmcfly

    “In Christ, no sexual immorality can be found.”

    true, but what’s that got to do with being LGBT? Most of the sexually immoral people I know are straight and cisgender.

  • anakinmcfly

    yep! I’ve heard of that from multiple places, so it seems to be a fairly common consensus among Bible scholars.

  • anakinmcfly

    But why and how is something *you can’t help and had zero say in and are completely powerless to change* a sin?

  • anakinmcfly

    “Obey Jesus. Follow His word.”

    um, I’m doing that.

    “Sometimes that means sacrificing our pleasure and comfortable life.”

    um, I did that when I came out.

    “IF they tell me they are gay I’ll say “no you aren’t, you are Christ’s righteousness.””

    yeah I’m going to do that to you now every time you say you’re a man.

    and you’re still not answering my questions. Why the double standard? You’re saying that a straight Christian just has to obey Jesus and follow His word, whereas a gay Christian has not only to obey Jesus and follow His word, *but also* be single and celibate forever. Why the extra burden on gay Christians?

  • Andy

    Oh, wait, you mean it’s not supposed to condemn all cross-dressers? Hey, I wonder if the passages that supposedly condemn homosexuals might not be as they appear?

  • anakinmcfly


  • Bones

    That’s right Allegro.

    You can read other early Christian documents which use the same symbolism as the author of Revelation. One explicitly names Babylon as Italy ie Rome and the use of numerology to identify Roman Emperors.

    It is in essence a polemic against Rome and against Christians who sacrificed to Rome (ie the cowardly who are thrown in the lake of fire)

    The other Apocalypses (eg Peter) are very similar in style as well.

    Revelation is one of those books which you need to study first century writings and symbolisms. It’s not a book you can just read and ‘get it’.

  • Anjel Scarborough

    Your assertion about growth in conservative denominations is anecdotal and not supported by statistics. The Southern Baptist Convention has experienced a precipitous decline (–76608/) and last year they declined in baptisms too. More people are choosing to stay away from churches than ever before. I suggest you check into the research of the Barna Group (an Evangelical church “think tank”). They found millennials are leaving Christianity because of homophobia and exclusion of women from leadership (among other things).

  • Bones

    Look on the bright side. Islam is growing faster than conservative Christianity.

    Must be God, hey?

  • The Southern Baptist had been in a steady decline. They are trying some rebranding tactics and forays into regions where the denomination was not well represented. Meanwhile here in the south, most congregations are quite small, under 100 members with the majority of the members over 50. The denomination has invested a huge amount of money to open churches in the North east, but the numbers over all have been declining for years.
    The other two denominations are experiencing growth, but that doesn’t make up for the general decline over all.

  • D Rizdek

    This seems to be a good group to pose this question to. Why do you still call yourselves Christian? It’s not intended to be an offensive question, but a sincere question about what each thinks are the essential criteria for one to call one’s self Christian.

    I’m an atheist and have been so for over 30 years. But I remain “in touch” with Christians on websites. Sometimes when I chide about some ridiculous story or guidance found in the Bible or in the Christian doctrine, I get the, “I’m a liberal Christian and don’t take that literally.” Then they come back with labels like “bone-headed literalist” or “poor fundie atheist.” I wear those labels with pride. But it raises the question…what DO you believe one should accept as literally true to be a Christian?

    Does one have to believe there is a god to be a Christian?

    Does one have to believe a god created the universe/life?

    Does one have to believe there is a Satan?

    Does one have to believe we are born with original or “inbred” sin?

    Do you have to believe Jesus was/is in any way divine?

    Is it necessary to believe a Jesus walked the earth in human form to be a Christian?

    Do you have to believe that god made use of Jesus’ crucifixion as part of its plan of salvation?

    Do you have to believe Jesus was resurrected after he was crucified?

    Must one accept that “God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us.”

    Does one have to believe that Jesus’ sacrifice in any way atoned for our sins, redeems us?

    What do you think one believe about Jesus to call themselves a Christian?

    What other things must one accept to be called Christian?

    Do you choose to be good because you are a Christian, or did you choose to become a Christian because you thought it was a good way of life, or both? How did you decide that Christianity was a good way of life?

    Do you believe morality comes from god and only from god?

    Is it only important to be moral if there IS a god?

    Do you believe that if there isn’t a god, the whole universe and everything in life is pointless?

    Do you believe in any kind of life after death?

    Thanks in advance if anyone wants to respond to any of these questions.

  • Bones

    Does one have to believe there is a god to be a Christian? Probably.

    Does one have to believe a god created the universe/life? Possibly. How – dunno. Only science can tell us.

    Does one have to believe there is a Satan? No. I don’t. the concept of satan as an evil figure developed over the centuries. In the OT the word sataan only means adversary

    Does one have to believe we are born with original or “inbred” sin? No. I don’t. That came with Augustine in the 400s. Ridiculous idea.

    Do you have to believe Jesus was/is in any way divine? No.

    Is it necessary to believe a Jesus walked the earth in human form to be a Christian? No. Some believe He was a mythical figure or a parable.

    Do you have to believe that god made use of Jesus’ crucifixion as part of its plan of salvation? Possibly. Depends what you mean by salvation. Part of me thinks that the whole plan was made by Christians looking back from the death of Christ to give meaning to His death.

    Do you have to believe Jesus was resurrected after he was crucified? Possibly. I don’t know what that means. I disregard the Ascension as that is an idea that Jesus went up into heaven above the clouds.

    Must one accept that “God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us.” No. I don’t believe that. That’s a hideous image of God who demands child sacrifice. It’s also contrary to Trinitarianism that God would kill God to satisfy God’s wrath. God’s not pissed with humans. It also appears to have come in in the Middle Ages when Christianity was like a law court.

    Does one have to believe that Jesus’ sacrifice in any way atoned for our sins, redeems us? No. Many Christians see the cross as a liberation and conquest of violence ala liberation theology.

    What do you think one believe about Jesus to call themselves a Christian? Good question. He was the Son of god.

    What other things must one accept to be called Christian? To love.

    Do you choose to be good because you are a Christian, or did you choose to become a Christian because you thought it was a good way of life, or both? How did you decide that Christianity was a good way of life? Born into it. Also had some traumatic stuff it helped me get through. I also hold more importance into the words Jesus said than on any doctrinal position. Jesus said some pretty good stuff.

    Do you believe morality comes from god and only from god? No. Morality is subjective. What you might call moral, I might not. Parts of the Bible aren’t moral.

    Is it only important to be moral if there IS a god? No.

    Do you believe that if there isn’t a god, the whole universe and everything in life is pointless? No.

    Do you believe in any kind of life after death? Possibly. Don’t know. I hope so. I’d like to see my Mum and Dad again.

    Thanks in advance if anyone wants to respond to any of these questions.

  • D Rizdek

    Thank you for your reply. Just to clarify, I mistyped one question…it should have read…”What do you think one must believe about Jesus to be called a Christian? You seemed to understand the meaning even with the improper wording. Can you explain more about Jesus not being divine, yet believing him to be the son of god? Maybe you meant that you weren’t sure what HAD to be believed, but that you personally believe him to have been/be the son of god.

  • Ransom Backus

    Glad you got to type that LOL. Revelation 19 pretty much tells us.

  • Ransom Backus

    I once heard of a Christian atheist movement. They don’t believe in God but claim to follow Jesus’ teachings, believing that Jesus was just a good enlightened teacher.

  • Ransom Backus

    It’s in the Bible. Paul goes into great lengths of discussing this sort of thing.

  • Ransom Backus

    I will state that my experiences with women have been poor throughout most of my life and personally I don’t trust women and will walk out of a church where one leads. Will I expect everyone to think that way? no. Do what you like. But the Bible does protect me for not wanting to be under female leadership as a man.

  • Ransom Backus

    “no male or female in Christ” that isn’t referring to being genderless. It is discussing that God doesn’t discriminate. ALL are welcome to partake of Salvation.

  • Ransom Backus

    So let’s put my beliefs, encounters with God and what He has taught me aside for a minute and let me ask an honest question .There is a utopian dream of a united body of Christ even suggested in this blog. I have to ask how possible that is. One thing I am noticing is that blogs like this are counter productive to that sense of unity. Are many people leaving the traditional approach of Christianity and rejecting what say…people like me believe? yes. Of course that is nothing new. People have done that for centuries, we call them denominations. So I look at this blog post and I see some divisive comments. Basically, because of what I believe I am called in a snarky tone, a dying breed of Christian (which is kind of a smooth condescending thing to say) So then what if, in all sincerity and conviction I DO believe this way? That automatically divides us, not unites us. MY question is, can those of you who are leaving us old dying breeds still be united with us in Christ after embracing this radical divide between what we believe? It doesn’t sound like a few minor differences, but a major overhaul to the faith.

  • Ransom Backus

    Revelation 19 sums it up

  • My answers would be quite similar to yours Bones.

  • So you mistrust and fear women. That has nothing to do with the Bible, nor does the book offer you one iota of protection or justification for your mistrust and fear. That is wholly on your own shoulders.

    As for women taking the lead, the list of them in scripture is lengthy. Tamar, Rahab, Miriam, Miriam’s mother, Ruth, Esther, Huldah, Deborah, Mary, The Samaritan Woman, Mary Magdeline, Dorcas, Junia, Priscilla, Phoebe

  • The one where everyone rejoices because God judged the great whore, a white horse named Faithful and True wears a blood robe, and an angel tells the birds to eat everyone who was just rejoicing? So answer B.

  • No, No it doesn’t

  • Let them die out, and the rest of us might have a better chance at life.
    Let them die out so that more people don’t have to die in the name of their beliefs.
    Let them die out so their crimes can be examined with cold precision without the security blanket of faith.

  • And yet, you have distanced yourself from congregational church settings, because you “got tired of the dog and pony show”

    Yes the faith needs a major overhaul, yes a utopina ideal is a worthy cause, Yes, there are breeds, or factions of Christianity that are dying out, which has happened throughout its history. Yes the concept of loving one’s neighbor as we love ourselves is a really out-there idea, but its been repeatedly proven in and out of Christianity to be the best way to live with one another.

    Do we have to be united with those who’s theology prefers to diminish and insult, and omit those we want to love, respect and include? No, we don’t. Do we have to be united with those who’s theology has harbored and fostered hatred and bigotry, tenets that harbor fear and quests for power, mindsets of pride and superiority? No, we don’t. Do we still need to demonstrate love and respect, even in the face of sharp divide? Yes.

  • Is it? It seems as though you are all giving him the attention he so desperately craves.

  • 1-10, my answer is no.
    11. The matter would be a personal one, according to the individual.
    12. There is no “must accept” as the faith is pretty broad.
    13. I chose Christianity, because it was a good fit for me personally, yet I chose a mystical path, not a dogmatic one.
    14. Maybe, but if so, it is something that has been gifted to all humanity.
    15. Of course not.
    16. Of course not.
    17. I have no idea. The idea is comforting to a point, but it is not something that holds great importance to me.

  • attention hoors…they are rather good at it, aren’t they? But aren’t we all at times?

  • ChuckQueen101

    Love this post. Maybe it’s my location (in the Bible Belt) but where I am this seems more like wishful thinking.

  • I think he’s really lonely. That or he’s certifiable. Either way, it seems kinder to throw him a sentence here and there. WWJD?

  • You’re asking an atheist what Jesus would do? Really?
    Jesus would probably swoop him up in a hug and say ‘Well done, good and faithful servant,” to be honest. But that’s besides the point.

  • Bones

    Yeah it pretty much tells us about the author’s hatred of Imperial Rome ie Babylon and the beast and its armies.

    Those who received the mark of the beast were those Christians who sacrificed to Caesar, a recurring theme in Revelation.

    Do you think you’ll help Jesus kill the unbelievers?

  • An atheist on a Christian blog? Sure, you can answer as well as anyone else. I’ve got nothing against atheists. “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you made me welcome … In truth I tell you, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me,” (NJB, Matthew 25:35 & 40) is pretty unambiguous. It doesn’t say, “Welcome everyone except the harmless guy who makes you look up Revelation before breakfast.”

  • Bones

    Paul was influenced by Greek philosophy. Some of his teaching such as the evils of the flesh come straight from Plato.

  • Bones

    You would think God would have told him that.

  • Bones

    Look up Fed Hollows.

    Great and wonderful compassionate man. You could heal more people giving $25 to his organisation than wasting money on church healing ministries.


    So what?

  • “Welcome everyone except the harmless guy who makes you look up Revelation before breakfast.”


  • Bones

    Why would I unite with someone who doesn’t trust women?

    Not quite sure what that says about his wife.

  • A distrust and fear of half of humanity….It doesn’t sound like grounds for unity to me either.

  • That isn’t the point.

    The point is that Elizabeth asked me what Jesus would do, and I responded that there is no point in asking me such. What Jesus would do isn’t going to influence my thinking or responding in any way, so why would you expect it to?

    And yes, I’m familiar with Fred Hollows.

  • I’m in the second belt loop to the left. Its election primary season here. I’m eliminating potential candidates by how pious their ads sound. The pool is small, small indeed.

  • Bones

    That’s an interesting question.

    What does Son of God mean?

    Some Christians don’t see Jesus as divine.

    They see that interpretation of Him coming later with the inclusion of the miracle birth stories and the focus of the Gospel of John.

    As for son of God they mean something like he has the wisdom of God.

  • D Rizdek

    Ack, I should’ve numbered them! Sorry and thanks.

  • Bones

    Jesus would probably tell him to grow up and get his shit together and not be scared of people.

    Well that’s what I’d say.

  • Well, you could put instead of Jesus….

    What would they advise in the Egyptian book of the dead in this case?
    What would confucius do?
    What would Socrates advise?
    The Vedas advise us to…
    What Woud Buddha suggest?

  • John Lev

    SO basically they’re taking Thomas Jefferson’s approach. He didn’t believe that Jesus was divine and took a knife to the bible cutting out the mystical/supernatural parts to it. No water-wine, no healing of the sick, no resurrection, etc. He believed that Jesus had some good moral teachings and kept those. So I can see how one could call themselves a atheist christian.

  • You say that like its a bad thing.

  • Atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, Muslims, all are welcome in this odd little cauldron of broth John has going here. Some make mad-good comments. You don’t have to believe in the Bible to know its principles or even to agree with them. As far the original question, John or his moderators will step in if comments get mean, distracting, or personal.

  • I understand that. All my original comment was meant to do was point out that sermons are clearly not a waste of time if they get the attention the writer wants. I did not mean to indicate that anyone should stop responding, merely that allegro’s statement didn’t seem accurate.

  • I think you overestimate the quality of attention I’m putting into this. Mainly, I’m bored at work, and I’m curious. Plus it’s always a bonus when I can get allegro, ford, or Andy to laugh. 🙂

  • Snooterpoot

    That was a jaw dropper. Why would anyone want to worship a god that would do that?

  • Guy Norred

    I think it is much less worship as in “cannot help but adore” as it is worship as in “live in such fear of offending because He holds all power to punish and is poised to take offense at all times”–fear and not love.

  • Ransom Backus

    Well…I have seen WHY the Bible says women aren’t meant to take authority over men. My life is living proof. There were three males in our household, and my mother ruled us with an iron fist, filled with rage and hatred towards men. We were ALL whipped. Where she left off, Christian school teachers (many female) finished the job. So then, I agree with Paul.

  • Ransom Backus

    Of course. we have deluded ourselves into thinking we can be good, moral human beings, obey the law (even Jesus’ law) without a god…in short, it makes us self righteous. Self righteousness being “I can be good all by myself, in and of myself.” whereas in Christ we realize that no good dwells in us, but HE is our righteousness for us, in us, and through us, as we are mere conduits for His righteousness.

  • Ransom Backus

    I will be clear…I don’t trust women to “take authority” over me, or teach me as a student about God. I trust my wife because…well, she has proven herself trustworthy.

  • Wow. That’s awful. I’m so sorry.

  • Ransom Backus

    I’ll make it clear. I live by what Paul wrote concerning women, but I can allow for others to disagree with me. If men willingly choose to place themselves under authority of teaching from women, they do so of their own conscience and I won’t judge another man’s “servant” so to speak. I speak for myself when God was counseling me directly and told me to avoid situations where women would take the lead over me as a man. A lot of it was based on what I needed to recover myself from horrible emasculation I suffered for years. I can relate with respectful women only on a friend level of equality in that they don’t think they are superior to me and vice versa.

  • Agree with Elizabeth. That is horrific and shouldn’t happen to any child. What you experienced was abuse, most likely illegal, and sadly too common in Christianity. Child abuse is one of the things that makes me very angry, and sad at the same time.

    But what you experienced is not typical of women, nor of men. Blaming all women for the few that treated you dreadfully is unfair, and short sighted. Again, the Bible does not support your view of women as incapable of holding and using authority and doing so gently, ethically and aptly. I sincerely hope you discover strong women, who exemplify leadership in positive ways, who have no desire, nor thought to be power hungry, controlling or violent. They are all around you, leading homes, businesses, governments, and yes churches, with grace, humility and wisdom.

  • Women are not superior to men, and men are not superior to women. We have differences, of course, but we also have strong similarities in capabilities. You seek to keep women at arm’s length as a protective measure. That’s understandable. God telling you to do so? Maybe, as a protective measure for youself, but not to our gender as a whole.

  • Ransom Backus

    Honestly, I don’t blame ALL women. But I know that the Bible covers me. God has counseled me not to place myself under female leadership and teaching as a man. And there are very good reasons for it. Most of it had to do with me recovering from severe emasculation. When it comes to governments and businesses, I have no control over that. However, I don’t have to attend a church with female leadership. That IS my right. Now, I relate to women on equal footing. They aren’t superior to me and neither am I to them. I won’t be under any leadership role they might assume, but will relate on a friendly level as equals.

  • What is wrong with recognizing goodness without having to use a god filter? That to me makes no sense. I know a lot of wonderful, kind loving people who are not Christians. I see their goodness, and delight in the gift of calling them friend. I recognize that I’m not perfect, but i’m not evil either. I cannot buy the “we are not good without Jesus” trope. it simply doesn’t add up for me, mainly because I have chosen to try to see good in all people.

  • Ransom Backus

    Again, I’ll relate to women as friends. For the record, there are certain personality types among males I also stay away from that I consider toxic.

  • Ransom Backus

    Jesus said that apart from Him we can do nothing. But call it for what you like, it is the definition of self righteousness. I am not good because of anything about me, but it is He in Me that is good, as only God is good.

  • John Lev

    // we have deluded ourselves into thinking we can be good, moral human beings, obey the law (even Jesus’ law) without a god// – Well, I wouldn’t use the term “deluded” but rather “have proven to” instead. Pretty much every study backs this up. If you look at area’s where church attendence is high (aka: bible belt), they’re lacking in pretty much every social/economical factor. High rates of STD’s, teen pregnancy, repeat teen pregnancy, abortion, divorce, murder, spousal and child abuse, illiteracy, poverty, etc, etc. The less religious areas of the US tend to fair much better than their religious counterparts. And this isn’t just a US trend but worldwide.

    It’s also telling that the majority of people in prison for crimes are christians where as the precentage of atheists is at 0.07% last I read. It’s estimated that atheists make up between 5-10% of the US population (and growing) but don’t even make up 1/10th of the prison population.

    I think the numbers speak for themselves.

  • Ransom Backus

    do desperate people look to religion to try to save themselves? or are they immoral and desperate because of religion?

  • Ransom Backus

    Of course I also know avid religious Christians who have great family lives and do well in society, have college degrees, good paying jobs…etc….

  • John Lev

    Never said they didn’t. We’re not speaking of individuals here though but rather overall trends and what they show is that the more religious an area is, the more detrimental it is to that societies social factors.

  • Ransom Backus

    There is religion unto death and religion unto life. We see toxic religion with the Pharisees Jesus butted heads with that kept people oppressed, poor, and ignorant. Jesus brought that which gives life. I think most people who call themselves Christians in this neck of the blogosphere can attest that these branches of the religion are corrupted and can be very Pharisaical .

  • Sharla Hulsey

    Hm. Weird things happen when I try to copy and paste this; so let’s see if it posts in any kind of legible form.

    1. Does one have to believe there is a god to be a Christian? I think so. There are other religious traditions that don’t necessarily require belief in a god (e.g., nontheistic Buddhism), but Christianity without a God doesn’t seem to me to make sense.

    2. Does one have to believe a god created the universe/life? I think so; but I don’t think one necessarily has to discount what science tells us about the origins and development of the universe or life on earth in order to believe God is the Creator. In fact, I think a God who could work within and through the processes science has discovered is a God who is very worthy of our worship, because what we have learned through science is pretty doggone awesome. (As Phyllis TIckle said, paraphrasing Psalm 121: “I lift up my eyes unto the Hubble, and… OMG…”)

    3. Does one have to believe there is a Satan? No. “Satan” as we understand him, sort of God’s evil twin, is not a Biblical idea.

    4. Does one have to believe we are born with original or “inbred” sin? The church has struggled with this for centuries. I think human beings are for whatever reason pretty good at getting ourselves into trouble, breaking relationships, and generally causing problems for ourselves and others. If you want to call that “original sin,” fine. Where I draw the line is with the notion of “total depravity,” in which we’re all just evil incarnate, even little babies. I can’t go there. And whatever “original sin” might be, it is emphatically NOT about the fact that sex is required for people to come into existence.

    5. Do you have to believe Jesus was/is in any way divine? There are people who say they’re Christian but do not believe in Jesus’ divinity.
    There are also Christians who go to the other extreme, and say Jesus only appeared to be human, but no divine being is going to get his/her hands dirty associating with humanity, so he couldn’t actually have been human. Both these, I think, go too far. I do personally believe Jesus was divine—God with skin on—and orthodox Christian belief has generally affirmed the paradox that Jesus was at the same time fully human and fully divine. Most of the historical heresies (and by this I don’t mean “stuff today’s evangelical Christians don’t agree with”) have resulted from people trying to resolve this paradox too far to one side or the other.

    6. Is it necessary to believe a Jesus walked the earth in human form to be a Christian? I have to say yes to this one. If you don’t believe in the existence of Jesus Christ, then there’s nobody to follow. You might be a person of faith, but without Christ you’re not Christian.

    7. Do you have to believe that god made use of Jesus’ crucifixion as part of its plan of salvation? Yes, I think so; but I don’t think we all have to agree on precisely how that happened. We may not completely understand how God used it, or anything else, and I’m comfortable with not understanding. What I’m never comfortable is just sitting back and saying we ought not think about, ponder, struggle with, the question.

    8. Do you have to believe Jesus was resurrected after he was crucified? Again, I think so; but I know of at least one very devout Christian who believes Jesus’ ongoing presence with his followers after Easter was not a bodily presence. So it’s something that might have some room for argument. I personally do believe in bodily resurrection, but since “ascension” as being taken up into the clouds on an invisible elevator doesn’t make sense given what we know of cosmology, that leaves open the question of where he went after he stopped appearing to the disciples.

    9. Must one accept that “God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us.” No. That’s only one view of atonement that the church has come up with over the centuries, and it’s one of the least attractive to a lot of Christians today (as well it
    should be). The problem with all of our understandings of atonement is that they’re culturally bound. The “satisfaction” theory makes sense to some cultures, while “penal substitution” (what you’ve described here) makes sense to others. Neither is required by the Bible. A model of atonement that has it as a way for God to restore the covenant God made with us, which we tend to break because we are imperfect human beings, makes a great deal more sense. It also requires that Jesus be a
    willing participant by his own initiative, not a sacrifice given by a God who
    is nothing short of a cosmic child abuser.

    10. Does one have to believe that Jesus’ sacrifice in any way atoned for our sins, redeems us? Well, yes, but as noted in the previous question, it’s not a simple transaction as we envision it in many of the traditional models of atonement. “God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” There’s a lot of wiggle room in that
    statement about precisely how we’re redeemed through Christ. Perhaps (this is what I tend to believe) the whole “Christ-event”—his life, death, and resurrection—is how we’re redeemed, not just that one Friday hanging on a cross.

    11. What do you think one must believe about Jesus to call themselves a Christian? All our church requires is that a new believer make the “Good Confession”: I believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and I accept him as my Lord and Savior. However, those words are all churchy and not necessarily in general usage, so I’d say that rather than reducing the Christian faith to an intellectual exercise, the best thing to do is to learn about Jesus and try to follow him in our everyday lives, ideally as part of a group of people similarly trying to follow him; in doing that we will find out who he is, and through him, who God is.

    12. What other things must one accept to be called Christian? This question doesn’t entirely make sense to a non-creedal Christian like myself. We don’t have to accept the validity of any creed; we don’t have to follow any of the Jewish Law beyond the Greatest Commandments (love God and love your neighbor as yourself); we don’t have to adhere to some culturally-determined set of acceptable behaviors. We just have to follow Jesus and love.

    13. Do you choose to be good because you are a Christian, or did you choose to become a Christian because you thought it was a good way of life, or both? How did you decide that Christianity was a good way of life? I’m not always “good”; I’ve made my share of mistakes. I try because I want to do the best I can to love my neighbors and myself, and do as little harm as possible. I was raised Christian, and do not remember a time when I didn’t believe in God and in Jesus.

    14. Do you believe morality comes from god and only from god? Well, possibly; but not in the sense of, “If you don’t believe in God then you have no moral compass.” Perhaps the impulse to be moral and treat
    people the way we’d want to be treated comes from a God who is there whether we acknowledge that God or not. Or maybe not. I think human beings are by nature capable of both great good and great evil.

    15. Is it only important to be moral if there IS a god? Of course not. The only way that would be the case is if we see morality as simply transactional: Be good and you’re rewarded, be bad and you’ll be punished. If morality is about acting in the best interest of ourselves, our neighbors, and our planet, a person who doesn’t believe in God can be every bit as moral as one who does (and in a lot of cases more so).

    16. Do you believe that if there isn’t a god, the whole universe and everything in life is pointless? Not exactly; but since I’m a minister, if
    there weren’t a God, I’d have to find a different job.

    17. Do you believe in any kind of life after death? Yes; but
    I don’t believe in “heaven” and “hell” as we typically understand them. I believe in resurrection, and I believe that one day the whole world will be redeemed and evil, sin, death and suffering will no longer be part of the equation. How or when that will happen I don’t know; but I look forward to that a great deal more than I do to a disembodied eternity among the clouds.

    And the moral of the story is… If you ask a preacher these kinds of questions, you will get way more words than you really ever wanted.

  • Hi John, I’m leaning towards Ransom with this one. Is it a “there are no atheists in a foxhole” (or extreme poverty or social isolation) phenomenon? Which is the chicken and which is the egg? Nice stats, though.

  • John Lev

    Does it matter? You’re argument was that one “needed” a god to be good. That we mere humans have no good that dwells within us without Jesus. Evidence says otherwise. Many christian colleges are going through sex scandels right now. CNN just reported on one where the headmaster practically enslaved students. Persecution of gays, muslims and atheists in the US is going on because of, not in spite of belief in Jesus. Young girls are being taught that they’re worthless and no man will want them if they have sex outside of marriage because of belief in Jesus. This is just the tip of the iceberg and given that, I fail to see why a beleif in a god is necessary to be a moral person.

  • What was that again…something….I don’t recall….*something* casts out all fear.

  • Ransom Backus

    It’s easy to consider yourself good when there is nothing above you to set the standard. When mankind sets the standard for what is good, and it changes throughout history…how then can we call ourselves good? I see the image of a man trying to swim out of quicksand. Morality is whatever we collectively say it is. Good and morality then become arbitrary and they are the shifting sands on which we build our house that Jesus mentioned. In this day and age “good” is whatever feels right for us. “Don’t judge” cements that.

  • I see the Irish Atheist around the interwebs a lot. He makes mad good comments too!

  • Mr Atheist! It’s so good to see you in this space. I hope you stick around and join our conversations. I think you have a lot to add to the party.
    My sincere best to you!

  • Ransom Backus

    In the end the liberal progressive Christians or “nones” as many are becoming, are a repackaging of more denominational splits that have been going on since the first church. People want to sin and indulge flesh, and then change scripture or reject it altogether in order to suit them. Same old thing different packaging. I chose the cross. Others choose pleasure. We both get what we choose and all of the rewards that go with it. And to think, the heroes of today are those who spend a life of pleasure, feeling good, and fighting for that pleasure their entire lives. Not terribly honorable.

  • Guy Norred

    Absolutely. I really thing the whole fear thing is not just sad, but if we are to take the concept of sin as that which separates us from God, I cannot but see this kind of thing as at very least having a great tendency toward it.

  • That is a theory according to a quote attested to jesus, which may or may not have actually been uttered by the man. When we consider that the first gospel, Mark was written at least 25 years after Jesus’ life, and John, the book this was quoted from after 70 AD, and not by the John, who was the apostle, actual quotations is pretty unlikely.
    As you’ve likely guessed by now, I do not adhere to an infallible Bible theory, or that it was literally written by God, or even the traditions that state who wrote what. I like history too much, too much a pondering mystic, and am too criticial a thinker (insanely curious) to take the Bible at face value.

  • Sigh

  • John Lev

    Well, for one, there’s plenty of foxhole atheists. It’s a myth to say there isn’t. However, I’ll conceded a certain portion of criminals do re-examine their faith while in prison but I’m willing to bet that if asked before their caught, most will profess a belief in a god and in the US it would most likely be in the christian god. FFRF publishes 2 pages of what it calls “Black Collar” crime in every edition of it’s publication. You read all the time how religious leaders are caught in affairs, stealing from the church, covering up abuse, etc.

    As far as social-economical factors, the funny thing is that typically, the more secure people are (prosperity, education, opportunity, housing, etc) the less they rely on faith. Who needs it? Louisiana or Mississippi (can’t remember which for sure) for example is considered the poorest state in the union while reporting some of the highest church attendance and belief in Jesus.

  • In my experience, the more conservative, controlling, rule based, shall not, the world is evil, flee or abstain from anything “worldly” a church is, the more hidden moral problems there is.

  • Yes. And then some people are religious because they don’t know any other way, having been raised in a particular way of faith. Then there are people who love God, live a faith in an introspective manner, who have decided that religion is not up to snuff, as well as the people for whom divinity is not needed. In all three options, morality is not the motivating factor.

  • Ransom, I’ve had three boyfriends my entire life. All of them discussed marriage. I was also celibate for three years. I can’t say I didn’t commit other sins — not by a long shot — but I can say I spent a significant amount of time meditating on pleasure and what it meant to my relationship to God.

    Here’s what I came up with: God gave us pleasure, and specifically sexual pleasure, as one of his greatest gifts. The Cross doesn’t deny us those. It may make some rules about it, depending on the path you’re on. But it’s a false dichotomy, God vs. love in its many forms.

  • John Lev

    People have been “changing scripture” from the moment Jesus was executed. Even the gospels can’t agree on what kind of person he was. In the earliest account (Mark), he’s kind of a wimp. Begging Yahwah to take the burden and crying our why he was forsaken. By John, he’s the John Wayne Jesus. Cocky and self-sure. Marching to his execution telling women to not cry for him and then say’s it’s finished when he dies.

  • Yo, dude, I went to high school in the deep South. A bunch are still on my FB friends’ list. They post those cherry-picked Bible quotes every day. Before that, I grew up in rural Michigan. Those people were just as religious (only Dutch Reform not Baptist) and were definitely upper middle class and educated. I know that’s only anecdotal evidence, I just don’t see the cause-and-effect as clearly as you do.

  • Hi Ransom Backus,

    MY question is, can those of you who are leaving us old dying breeds still be united with us in Christ after embracing this radical divide between what we believe?

    I like to believe so. I believe we are all called to be agents of reconciliation. “Thy will be done on earth…”

    I think you are right that American Christains are practicing two different faiths. One emphasizes humankind’s sinfulness and requires obedience through the pursuit of holiness; the other emphasizes humankind’s redemption through Christ and requires obedience through the pursuit of reconciliation. The former demands exclusion while the latter demands inclusion.

    In the worldview of many conservative Christains, unity across denominations is impossible because it’s tentamount to endorsing heresy. So I understand why you ask this quesiton. By way of answering, allow me to digress for a second…

    I’ve been giving a lot of thought recently to how to love conservative Christians well. Many of them want to do me harm because I’m a gay man. Part of what I’ve discovered through this meditation is that God calls me to welcome all people to the communion table – it isn’t my invitation to revoke. So yes – you and I have some very serious theological disagreements and I believe some conservative beliefs are causing great harm. I’m not going to shut up about the injustice being casued by the Church. But it’s my hope that we can resolve those differences at the foot of the cross. And it’s my obligation is to accept my ideological opposites as siblings in Christ.

    I hope that was helpful in some way.
    My sincere best to you.

  • Ransom Backus

    Just out of curiosity (no offense intended) do you refer to yourself as a Christian? If so, what is the basis for your faith?

  • Ransom Backus

    my biggest hurdle for reconciliation and unity is something that has rescued me out of…and protected me from toxic relationships with people, be they my ex, certain family members, or even entire churches. It is a safeguard present in a few Bible passages, giving me a rule of thumb as to who I eat with. There are people out there who believe and practice things that I consider toxic to me personally, and the Bible supports that. I DO have a blacklist of people I won’t spend time with, and of course, whether we admit it to ourselves or not, EVERYONE does. I have challenged the most tolerant, accepting people out there to prove me otherwise and after a lengthy discussion, I have gotten them to concede that they stay away from certain people, even fellow Christians.

  • John Lev

    You’re right, it is. Google is you’re friend, look into it. We all know the guy who know’s a friend, blah, blah, blah. You need to look at it from a marco standpoint. Just look at the fight against gay marriage? What legal reason is there to be oppose to it? None. It affects no-one but the people getting married but it’s opposed for religious reasons. Look at the fight against the contraceptive mandate. Why on earth would people who claim to hate abortion be against the very thing PROVEN to reduce it? Because of religious reasons. They don’t believe that people should have sex outside of marriage. Go to a gun forum board and see how many profess a beleif in Jesus and notice how many seem to almost salivate for the day they can “defend” themselves against an attacker. Notice how much they support harsh punishments for criminals and children. I’m not anti-gun since I also have a CCW but I don’t wish to have to ever use it.

  • Ransom Backus

    The cross isn’t sado masochism ascetics where we actively deny ourselves all forms of pleasure. If that were the case I wouldn’t be married or even chatting with you on a computer. The cross puts to death the passions of the flesh to be its own god, to run our lives based on those pleasures. It is the mentality of “all things subjected to Christ.” our flesh is dead. We are the masters of our bodies. We tell them what to do. We become, as in Romans chapter 12 living sacrifices. Or elsewhere, we take ALL thoughts captive, making them obedient to Christ. In other words, contrary to today’s society, it isn’t “if it feels good do it.” but rather, if it is in agreement with Christ, then do it. I enjoy sexual relationships with my wife as apparent by my baby. However, it is in accordance with HIS will. In the covenant of marriage and monogamy, as per my wedding vows.

  • Ransom Backus

    One thing I want to make clear. I see a stumbling block for many here at the points you’ve mentioned and I had to divorce myself from it as well. It is the mixing of right wing capitalist politics with Christianity that has done more harm than good to BOTH the political party and the faith. I am a conservative Christian by religious beliefs, but my political views have nothing to do with them. I have divorced the GOP a long time ago. It is my job to obey God, but it isn’t my job to make sure everyone else does. We preach Christ and Him crucified to the unbelievers. The politics of the Kingdom of Heaven are a choice, whereas the politics of this world aren’t so much. I won’t mix the two.

  • Are you suggesting or conceding that some of your personal beliefs are toxic to other Christians who should therefore stay away from you?

  • Ransom Backus

    I will tell ANYONE that if God is telling them to stay away from me, they need to do it. I am not that important. I prefer people go directly to God and step over my fallen body if I am a hindrance.

  • That’s exactly the paradigm shift I’m talking about. I’ve followed John off and on for about five years. The dialogue on LGBT marriage — in particular — contraceptives, abortion, the death penalty, as well as a slew of other topics has changed drastically. FIVE YEARS. John is one of many voices, but the axis has changed, and he was a big part of it.

    Google it. I do research for a living. I’ve Googled at least one item on every comment I made today. I’ve got fifteen tabs open right now. 🙂

  • Re: the gay question, you might want to check out NALT: John was a co-founder of that, too.

  • Yes. Because I strive to live by the revolutionary teachings of a revolutionary individual, who’s cornerstone statement was based on the ancient golden rule, first thought of in either ancient Egypt (a version appears in the book of the dead) or China, certainly in the foundations of the Aryan faith from which Hinduism arose, and in other cultures. A principle so important its remained a constant throughout human history…something I find quite profound, beautiful and divinely gifted to us. Jesus is said to not only teach that amazingly beautiful principle, but to show us how to do it on very practical levels. It is my goal to love others like that, knowing I’ll never get there, but Oh! what a goal.

    Its a faith with one creed, to love others with the same level as love myself, because I know God loves me and everyone else on a much grander scale than I could ever master. Christianity is the label I choose, and find beauty within, especially the liturgical calender, and the beauty of all those ancient traditions, artistic renderings, stories, legends, histories. I certainly fit within the expanse of an expansive faith, but my methodology is my own.

  • Ransom Backus

    and on the other end, the moral problems become acceptable. It’s easy to follow rules when you make them yourselves.

  • Ransom Backus

    So what is your basis for it? How can you even know what Jesus taught?

  • LOL. Sadomasochism is pleasure for those who subscribe to it, which is all I’ll say on a Christian blog. I think I’ve struck a pretty good balance between society’s and God’s definitions of right behavior. I’m unmarried but monogamous, and I hope to join you in my own marriage vows one day. We’re, in a weird way, on the same side of this. Except my flesh is kickin’ and yours is dead.

  • Ransom Backus

    I die daily.

  • I get your Biblical references by now. But don’t you think God put you on this Earth to live?

  • I don’t know if Jesus actually taught anything credited to him, or if he is what many claim. I’m ok with uncertainty, even though Christianity is very familiar, having lived my life surrounded by mostly conservative themes of the faith, whether I liked it or not

    If I had been born in China, Iran, India, it is likely that my religous foundation would have been vastly different. I didn’t grow up in traditional Christianity, though I did try it out during my transition out of a very controlling religious sect. My decision to be learn, to pry open the boxes, peek into the corners, has been one of the best faith based ones I ever made. I can find value in so many unexpected places, as well as the hand of God.

  • Ransom Backus

    Why I am on this earth is a whole other matter that isn’t as cut and dry as one might think. But that aside, what is living from an eternal perspective? It takes on a whole new meaning. I have a good, strong, conservative fundamentalist Christian cover, yet unlike most church goers, it runs deeper than many dare to look, even the fundamentalists don’t like me for that reason, because I have much to call THEM on as well! LOL. That being said, there is a life to be lived that I DO live now, but it looks very different from what many people call “living.” For me to live is Christ, but to die is gain. Yes that is a Biblical reference, not so much that I believe it because the Bible says it and now I get to parrot scripture, I just happen to understand what it means.

  • Living is awesome. One of my favorite bible verses is found in Proverbs. (my paraphrase) “God made today. So rejoice!” It tells me to live, to embrace all that is there in life, to be expectant at what the day may hold, to find pleasure and happiness, and even opportunities. And the best part? We stand a 50% chance of getting to do it tomorrow!

  • If I may ask — and I really mean no harm by this, it simply seems the natural question by now — if you are so sure the voices you hear are true and the path you’ve chosen is the best one:

    Why are you spending the better part of two days trying to convince us? What doubt is it in you that needs that reinforcement of how correct you are? Because — and again, this truly comes without judgment — I see a lot of struggle in between the lines. And I think you’re really seeking, and I hope you come to peace with it.

  • Ransom Backus

    convince? Oh no. I’m a fool people hardly take seriously. I don’t convince. Not anymore. Rather I sow seeds, and challenge to rethink dogma, even the anti-religion dogma of the neo-Christian progressive movement (and yes, it can be just as dogmatic) I speak, I preach, I share, I discuss, I ask questions, but I also seek to understand. There are always some that I reach. Convince? No. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job.

  • I dreamed last night that I broke down and went for my CCW. We live in a state with lax gun laws, and very high rates of gun related violence, the fifth highest in the nation. So glad it was just a dream.

  • I only have four, but I’m at work.

  • Ransom Backus

    And then of course…I might share the same need everyone involved has…reconciliation. Is it all bohemian free-wheeling? Of course not. Is it all rigid rules and ascetics? No…I like to build bridges for dialogue and discussion. In fact, that is the meat and potatoes of the zombie novel I am working on. For those so inclined, I offer my own journey through all of this. It might not be what you expect it to be.

  • I hope you’ve found a place to understand and challenge here. I think you need one. I know I needed this place, deeply, in my past.

  • You are writing a zombie novel?? OOOOOOO!

  • John Lev

    Which moral problems?

  • John Lev

    I’ve never said that “all” christians are like that. I know better. What I am saying is that it IS christianity, or more specifically religion in general, that’s driving the resistence to social progress. Yes, there’s christians that accept gays but I know of no atheists that are opposed to gay rights. Yes, there’s plenty of christians who accept evolution but I know of no atheists against it. It’s not an atheist that has a case before the Supreme Court fighting against the very thing proven to be effective against abortion which the plaintiff claims to hate. Why is that? Statically speaking, you’d think there’d be some that would side with these christians but I know of none. The only common theme is the religious faith. It’s faith in their bible that somehow Yahweh is going to strike us dead if gay marriage is permitted or that women have access to birth control. It’s their belief that is in jeopardy if they accept evolution for the well established theory it is. With that faith, they have no other valid argument.

  • How dare you not take me as seriously as I take myself?

    – he said with a suppressed grin.

  • James Walker

    people have been changing scripture since the very moment the first scripture of the first religious faith was written down.

  • Ransom Backus

    refer to allegro’s statement,

  • Ransom Backus

    I am a prolific author when I’m not driving school bus or discussing religion and politics online that will clue you in as to the other reason I frequent these discussion boards. TO GET MATERIAL!)

  • Ransom Backus

    fair enough, I wouldn’t personally call that Christianity. Really the meat and potatoes of your life’s philosophy/theology is be nice to people and it’s your guess versus mine what Jesus actually taught, and that is somewhere in the mist of a general world religion.

  • Ransom Backus

    Now I addressed two points on the list in this blog. Face it, it is a LOADED blog which the discussion can extend for miles and miles of thread. SO another point.
    “You think the Bible is a rulebook spelling out exactly what you need to believe and think about everything.”

    Kinda maybe sort of yeah and no. LOL. The Bible is a very strange book. Regardless of where you stand on it, it is the most powerful and controversial book ever in history as it has decided wars and peace, it is present in justice decisions in courts of law. It has been used to build and tear down nations. How I see the Bible…well….it’s a very big book. In fact, it is the biggest book in the entire world, because…it is as deep as it is long. (66 books or 83 books or whatever) It is a book of civilizations, empires, kings, kingdoms and celestial powers. It has bizarre imagery as a peek into other realms of existence, other worlds that parallel ours with strange inhabitants. It contains extraordinary, super human feats that come from a power beyond ourselves. I think it can’t be dumbed down to such a restrictive statement. I also believe the best way to kill the Bible is subject it to too much studying in a theology class in a university. For me, the Bible is a doorway into other realms and of course, a doorway into the realm where God lives with access to powers that create worlds and universes.

  • D Rizdek

    Good answers, thanks!

    I do have a follow-up about your response to:
    Must one accept that “God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us.”
    You said “No.”
    Fine, but then: “That’s only one view of atonement that the church has come up with over the centuries.”
    But there is scripture in Romans on which they probably base that idea. Are you saying that somehow the scripture which seems unequivocal has been misinterpreted? Don’t worry, I’m not going to debate this. I’ll leave it at this one follow-up.

  • Some of my best work has been inspired by the conversations I’ve had..on line and in real life. Now if I could earn a living writing…

  • Ransom Backus

    That’s what I’m working on. Now if only I knew how to market effectively I’d be set. I wrote my autobiography then decided to remain in the realm of strictly fictional storytelling. I have written two in a five book teen vampire series, a few short stories and novellas and now I am working on a zombie apocalypse novel. I stay busy. I carry the torch of people like CS Lewis in my style and approach.

  • James Walker

    the Bible is not actually unique in being “strange”, being “powerful and controversial”, being used to “decide wars and peace”, being “present in justice decisions in courts of law”, being “used to build and tear down nations”, etc.

  • Ransom Backus

    To the mass level it has been used it is unique. I have never seen another book do what our Bible has done, either in the Old Testament Era or the New.

  • James Walker

    then I have to say you’ve not been paying attention to cultures outside the European one taught in most US schools.

  • Ransom Backus

    So name one book that has been more hotly debated and the most scrutinized, to the point where they have entire schools dedicated to its study and has influenced nations even more.

  • Matt

    The Qur’an, off the top of my head. Not necessarily more than the Bible, but I’d say it’s roughly similar.

  • James Walker

    Koran, the Gita, the Upanishads and Vedas, the aphorisms of Confucius, the Buddhist Sutras, and those are only the most well known in our modern times.

  • Ransom Backus

    yeah…I’ve heard of them, but still haven’t seen them impact the entire globe the way the Bible has. In fact, The Koran was written in response to the Bible.

  • Ransom Backus

    Yet even the Quran was written in response to the Bible. Muhammed studied catholicism and Judaism, and read the Bible.

  • James Walker

    tell a Muslim that Koran was written “in response to the Bible” and see what the reaction is…

    beyond that, is it possible you aren’t aware that Shiite and Sunni Muslims have the same level of antipathy for each other that Catholics and Southern Baptists have? that in addition to these two primary schools of thought in Islam there are many other sects and divisions in that faith all due to differing interpretations of the scriptures and decisions about which writings ARE scripture and which not?

    is it possible you’re unaware of the riots that break out from time to time over Hindu holy sites because of controversies over which incarnation of deity the site is sacred to? of the many sects within Hinduism, some of which teach strict vegetarianism based on interpretations of their scriptures and some which teach only that certain animals are sacred and not to be consumed? that the caste system, which is officially no longer in existence, still affects the lives and livelihoods of well over a billion people on this earth?

    is it possible you’ve discounted the influence of Confucianism on China both historically and in modern times, through times of war and of peace, on its justice system and its political life? and that you’ve forgotten China now boasts a population approaching 2 billion as well as an economy that may soon rival the US?

  • Ransom Backus

    I never said they had ZERO impact or even made some big waves, but still I see them pale in comparison to what the Bible has done.

  • Ransom Backus

    Now if you read the Quran, it mentions the Bible, addressing Jews and Christians both as “people of the book.” It offers some “corrections” as to where the Bible is wrong, claiming that the Bible was corrupted and can’t be trusted, so the “people of the book” were to trust the Quran which is the absolute last word from God. Yes, it WAS INDEED written in response to the Bible.

  • James Walker

    you’re looking through the cultural filters of your native country and religious faith. those filters hide more than they reveal about the true nature of the world.

  • James Walker

    no, it was written as the absolute last word from God. you weren’t listening to your own words.

  • Ransom Backus

    of course I am…it WAS written as the absolute last word from God….in response to where the Bible was supposedly corrupted. If we didn’t have the Bible in the first place, we wouldn’t have the Quran.

  • James Walker

    the whole “correcting the Bible” bit was secondary or even tertiary to the motivation. you need to spend some time talking with actual Muslims about their faith and their scripture.

  • Ransom Backus

    actually…I got my information FROM Muslims. “Allah” gave the Quran to Mohammed because the Bible was corrupted and the “people of the book” went astray.

  • James Walker

    when I read the history of Mohamed and of the origins of Koran, written by Muslim scholars, I don’t see that element drawn out as being primary or key at all. it’s there, but it’s not in the foreground.

  • Ransom Backus

    here is the secret, even Muslim scholars don’t agree….and they argue against the Hadiths and even have different versions of the Quran that read completely different things. They claim it’s the original, but it is far more corrupted than they claim the Bible was.

  • James Walker

    there go those cultural filters again…

  • Sharla Hulsey

    I’m not afraid of debate, or at least of a good discussion. I think there’s stuff in the Bible that can be interpreted as supporting any of the various theories that are out there. However, I think the whole witness of Scripture points toward the atonement as a means of renewing, and expanding, the covenant that God made with God’s people clear back in Exodus. Here’s a link to one discussion of this, from an Anabaptist perspective: This writer conflates the “satisfaction” and “penal substitution” theories, but I don’t know that that’s necessarily correct. Satisfaction, to me, goes more along with the medieval “code of chivalry,” in which one must have some kind of repayment when one’s honor is besmirched. Penal substitution is, rather, about crime and punishment, and one person stepping in to bear the penalty of another.

    One of my seminary professors, Larry Shelton, has also written extensively about this covenant model of atonement.

    The more one studies the Bible, the more it becomes pretty evident that the Bible isn’t truly “unequivocal” about much of anything. The command to love our neighbors is one exception. Interpretation and re-interpretation are the reasons the Bible remains a living document through which God is able to speak to people in a variety of times and circumstances.

  • Ransom Backus


  • anakinmcfly

    Ok then, but you still haven’t explained why that particular identity (e.g. male) is somehow relevant when you claim that other descriptors (like sexual orientation) are irrelevant. If you can say that someone is not gay (or straight, or tall, or black or white or young or old or ambidextrous) but their identity is in His righteousness, then what makes ‘male’ any different?

  • anakinmcfly

    “I chose the cross. Others choose pleasure.”

    They’re not exclusive, you know. Or do you mean to say that you shun all pleasure whatsoever in your life? Including in, say, a good meal, or a loving family?

  • anakinmcfly

    FWIW, I’m in a secular country with 15% Christian population (+another 15% Islamic), and people are way more homophobic than the US (and against abortion, etc). Where there is religion, they use that as an excuse. Where there isn’t, humans will always find other ways of justifying hate. Most of the homophobia here isn’t religiously-driven at all.

  • anakinmcfly

    “but I know of no atheists that are opposed to gay rights

    I do, and lots.

    “Yes, there’s plenty of christians who accept evolution but I know of no atheists against it.”

    One of my brother’s friends is an atheist who doesn’t believe in evolution. Can’t remember his reasoning, though.

  • Bones

    How has the Bible decided peace?

    Wars, yes, but peace? Can someone give me an example?

    A lot of it didn’t happen. Most of the Old Testament is exaggerated revisionist history full of legends to build the myth of the historical nations of Israel and Judah.

  • Bones

    You’re looking at the Bible through rose coloured glasses.

    Let’s be honest.

    No other book is capable of bringing personal peace as well as causing untold suffering and destruction.

  • Bones

    and they argue against the Hadiths and even have different versions of the Quran that read completely different things.

    Like the Bible.

    What’s certain from the early Biblical manuscripts is that scribes had no problem changing or adding verses to suit their theology.

  • Bones

    It is your guess v mine what Jesus actually taught.

    There’s no doubt that the Gospel writers put words into Jesus’s mouth which have more to do with their own situation eg comments about being thrown out of synagogues and the sacking of the Temple.

    The gospel writes were first and foremost writing to their first century communities.

  • John Lev

    And see, this is great IMO. At the least you know their true motives and they’re not hiding behind the smarmy “love the sinner, hate the sin” BS. Kinda like how the KKK can’t hide behind the bible anymore either. I fully agree with you that humans will find a way, no doubt to it but without the cloak of religion, you can know their intentions. If you don’t mind my asking, what country are you in?

  • John Lev

    //One of my brother’s friends is an atheist who doesn’t believe in evolution. Can’t remember his reasoning, though.// – First I’ve heard.

  • The Upanishads along with its companion texts the Vedas and the Gita is likely as or more influential. First of all its much older. It also has been quite influential as Vedic thought and practice were the foundations of two major religions, and have made inroads to several others, as well as secular thought and practice. It has even influence Christianity, certainly during its infancy as the Roman empire certainly had connections to the Indus region,

    Even contemporary Christianity bears influence from the Upanishad collection. A famous quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reads “Hatred does not cease hatred, only love. That is the eternal rule” He is not the originator of that quote, Buddha was, whose influence can be connected to…Yep, you guessed it the Upanishads.

    Both our Bible and the Upanishads are remarkable, influential works that are complex, fantastical, address humanity and the divine, contain stories, mythos, moral instructions, civilizations, kings, imagery, etc. Yet, they are merely written works, written by people trying to understand the world they knew and ask those deep questions about who they where, where did they come from, what about God? and what happens after we die.

    As for the bible being a doorway to other realms…the realm of God, It being a doorway for us to create worlds and universes? That sounds very modern…I know the church I grew up in touched somewhat on that theology, as does Mormonism, and I think the Witness movement. both of which the one I grew up borrowed heavily from in the building of its tenets.

  • Yep the Hindu works have been amazingly influential and for longer than the Bible

  • Ransom Backus

    “gay” is based on sex acts that are considered sin traditionally. We no longer identify with sin as we are in Christ.

  • Ransom Backus

    “You think that being a Christian automatically makes you the moral superior of anyone not a Christian.”
    Jesus said “why do you call me good? There is no one good but God.”
    Isaiah said “Our righteousness are as filthy rags.”
    True “good” and true “morality” belong to God alone. Anyone that resides outside of Him is not good or moral except in their own opinion or the opinions of the people who like them. (regardless of what I think of myself, some people will think I am great, others will think I am the devil.) Morality in this world is simply based on how tolerable I am to share the planet with.
    Therefore it is Christ’s morality that is at work in me, as Christ is the author and source of all that is good or moral. Anything else is lesser as it originates from man’s opinion. Our version of morality is arbitrary. We are moral because some people say we are. Or we are immoral because some people say we are, people who change their own standards from time to time throughout life. To base our morality on that opinion is building our house on the shifting sands Jesus mentioned.

  • D Rizdek

    Thanks and I didn’t mean to imply someone was opposed to or afraid of, debating. But, for better or worse, I am not interested in lengthy debate on this subject, AND I do know some folks might feel like “innocent” questions conceal deeper less innocent motives. Not in this case, so thanks for your responses.

  • D Rizdek

    I’ll chime in hear and note that I think one of the reasons the “Bible” and Christianity is so prevalent in western society is NOT because of the sweetness of Jesus or the richness of the word, but rather the heavy handed influence of the RCC and sometimes Protestants in ensuring everyone believed the same things about religion. History suggests they weren’t exactly all about freedom of religion and speech, and freedom from religion. I just wonder how history might’ve turned out if the RCC had actually followed Jesus guidance on “love your enemies” “turn the other cheek” “forgive 70×7.” Would they have tortured suspects to gain confessions and then turned them over to the authorities for burning at the stake for blasphemy or witchcraft? I know there are those who think Galileo overstepped some boundaries, but would a “Christ-like” Pope and RCC officials have responded with house arrests even IF Galileo had insulted the Pope and disregarded their instructions?
    It’s an interesting topic of contemplation.

  • Ransom Backus

    But keep one thing in mind. The Bible would have remained in secrecy and out of the hands of anyone who wanted one had it not been for those who opposed the Catholic church, and they died for it. A closer look tells me that the Bible does change hands. That being said, I consider the Roman Church no different than the pagans from whence they came.

  • Ransom Backus

    It’s a question of focus, eventually though, as in all of Christian history, those who follow Christ may have to choose one or the other, as they do in many parts of the world today.

  • Ransom Backus

    Jesus DID say “think not that I have come to bring peace, but a sword.”

  • ChuckQueen101

    I think we can say of the Bible what we can say of religion in general. It can be an instrument of destruction or transformation. There are transformative texts and oppressive texts. As a Christian for me the key is filtering it all through the story of Jesus.

  • Actually that isn’t exactly true. The advent of the printing press, and the rising rate of literacy was a huge factor, and this occurred AFTER the reformation. The matter was political minded as to who was going to be in charge of the translations, and into what language. Purists, both protestants and Catholics wanted Latin, reformists wanted languages spoken by the masses. The reformists won out, because copies of Bibles in German, English and others couldn’t be printed fast enough for demand.

    As for calling the Catholic church pagan, I cry triple fowl. Yes, they’ve adopted some practices and teachings from other faiths, but so has all of Christianity, in fact culture has a way of adopting things and making them work for their own society.

    . The list of things adopted from other faiths and cultures, and largely accepted today as Christian is very lengthy. You own a wedding ring? Yep, its pagan, you use words, based from Latin roots? Pagan, Ever attend a yoga class, or use the word mantra? Live in a democracy? Use Algebra? a calendar, the modern days of the week? Like Chocolate? Think wind chimes sound pretty? Even the term Christian has pagan origins.

    Besides our Catholic forefathers did an excellent job of sharing the stories of the Bible and preserving religious texts as best they could, despite rampant illiteracy, poor preservation conditions, much less copying of texts, short life spans, frequent wars, and disease outbreaks. We have those texts, plus music, statues, mosaics, paintings, frescos, buildings, legends, all that were intended to share the stories of the Bible and to teach people. I consider it a job very well done, despite the political upheaval that often plagued Europe.

  • wait, choose the cross or pleasure?? Seriously? Why is it an either or?

    But then the cross is merely a religious symbol. It is a symbol that has different meaning to different people, but most recognize it as thus.

    Pleasure on the other hand is a gift, and a divine one. It is enjoyment, finding things that are pleasing, such as music, good food, a time of solitude, bird song, your cat curled up beside you purring, the laughter of a child, sleeping snuggled up next to your lover, hugs, standing on a mountain top watching a gorgeous sunrise, writing a poem, watching a grandchild graduate from kindergarten, good sex, picking produce from your own garden, and so much more. Most of all its being thankful for it all, believing that each moment of pleasure was gifted to us,

  • Lance Schmidt

    What does all that philosophy, insight and theology achieve for you in terms of your actions and interactions with humanity in the here and now and how you show up to the world? As I read through much of the conversation on this particular blog post, it’s quite typical of what I’ve come to see in Christian internet forums in the sense that they are quite often dominated by intellectual ponderings and spiritual insights that often express themselves in an egocentric form of “my enlightenment” versus “what others have wrong or don’t get”. It all gets quite airy-fairy and pie-in-the-sky where the crux of Christianity becomes about a belief system and there is little to no emphasis placed on Christianity as a way of discipleship modeled after the life of Jesus. I’m starting to think most of this is vain jangling which is meaningless outside of how it shows up in the world.

    I direct this just as much toward myself as anyone. I can sit on the internet and pontificate about my spiritual experiences, insights and beliefs and feel joy in all the understanding that I am blessed to receive through my piety and devotion. I am within a 15 minute walk from the notorious Downtown East Side of Vancouver which is known as the “poorest postal code in Canada” where drug use, poverty, crime, violence and sex trade is rife. Meanwhile as I sit here in my sterile environment typing this, there are volunteers out on the streets in the sour stench of unwashed humanity who are often mentally ill and usually heroin addicted. The saddest are the haunted and hopeless eyes of the women working the street corners. These volunteers are walking the needle littered streets and parks handing out water bottles and snacks but most of all reaching out with a warm hand and a friendly hello and smile.

    I visited a church in the heart of that area last Sunday. It was a beautiful Anglican High Mass service, and in the middle of one of the high points of the Eucharst a poorly dressed street person with long, unkempt hair shuffled into the church and walked around staring at various objects on the walls. The service went on without missing a beat while I sat there annoyed that my reverie was being broken by the distraction.

    I have to ask myself again, what is the greater honour and glory to God and a mark of the Christian way – my theological perceptions and beliefs or how I actually show up in the world?

  • D Rizdek

    Are you agreeing with me in that, if the Bible wasn’t in the hands of the people, no one was considering the deeper theological ramifications or questioning whether Jesus was real or not…the RCC said thus and so, enforced it with threat of pain and death, so only the boldest had the inclination to challenge them? IOW no one was believing the Bible…just the RCC. You are right, some lost their lives…Tyndale, eg for trying to make the Bible accessible.

  • Ransom Backus

    how I interact with others? I realize that to varying degrees we are ALL screwed…we ALL are in crap up to our necks and we all need a savior. My place is on my face in humility begging God for mercy not just for myself but those around me and in m best flawed efforts I try to show it to them.

  • Ransom Backus

    There is much I could say about the pagan roots of Catholicism but I won’t get into that debate here. The closest I find to the TRUE faith before Catholicism corrupted it is either amid the Messianic Jews or the anabaptists.

  • Ok…I’m going there..Are you familiar with the Armstrong movement? Because I swear you are using their playbook.

  • Ransom Backus

    a couple of more thoughts on the Bible. I don’t regard the Bible as the SOURCE of what I know and believe. I rely on my witness and my testimony of the God I have met and the words the Master has taught me. It isn’t that I believe the Bible for the Bible’s sake, but I happen to agree with it. It makes complete common sense to me as the Master has taught it to me. I cannot rely fully on it as the only foundation of my faith in these perilous times, I DO have to rely on direct contact an d encounters with the Master Himself. Of course people would argue with that as well and call me insane. But if that is the case, I am no more insane than Peter, Paul, John or the prophets of old.
    I also believe that the actual principles in the Bible or the “spirit of the law” can apply to ANYTHING we encounter and deal with in life. So far I have tested and proven that by simply trying out the method and the principle and so far I have had no problems with it other than people who have intense opposition to what I do.My faith life is, believe it or not, experimental and I test everything that I believe or disbelieve.

  • Sharla Hulsey

    A few more examples: Do you put up a Christmas tree? Pagan. Color and hide Easter eggs? Pagan.

    Good to keep in mind that before 1517, in the West, there was no “Roman Catholic” church. There was just “the church.” And it’s a waste of time for Protestants in 2014 to argue against Catholicism as though it had not changed since 1517. It has. The law against the general public reading and interpreting the Bible has long since fallen by the wayside, and when I was going through RCIA in college (adult catechism class to join the Catholic church), one of the first things that happened in the process was that I was given a copy of the Bible most widely used in the Catholic churches in that area.

  • Protestantism isn’t even the same thing it was when Luther caused the schism.

  • That may work for you, but I had to run far far away from that kind of theological thinking. I’m still bearing the scars from the emotional and physical damage it caused.

  • Ransom Backus

    I won’t argue. I find that too is futile. I know my methods and reasoning for rejecting Catholicism as being of the Christian faith I have embraced and people can agree or disagree. AS with anything, regardless of what anyone says, I have to decide for myself what I believe and why I believe it. No matter what I believe about anything here will always be someone that will argue with me. That’s human nature.

  • Sharla Hulsey

    Exactly. And Luther and the other reformers (even John Wesley) weren’t out there trying to start new churches or new branches of Christianity. They were attempting to make changes within their particular communities.

    Having once almost become Catholic (didn’t finish the process because of a fine point of theology that my Baptist upbringing wouldn’t allow me to get my mind around), I do feel the need to push back when I hear people arguing anti-Catholicism as though Francis and Leo X (the pope when Martin Luther did his thing) were exactly the same person at the head of exactly the same church. It makes us look ridiculous to argue with a church that hasn’t existed for 500 years.

  • Ransom Backus

    no idea.

  • Ransom Backus

    only the wicked need to be oppressed. In our society today, we oppress criminals all the time and put them in prison, and it is deserved.

  • Ransom Backus

    allegro…because there are evil men. Men who will say “renounce your faith or be tortured and die.” Then people may have to choose whether to enjoy a comfortable life in exchange for their faith, or embrace the painful side of sharing in the crucifixion of Christ. Sometimes it IS either or.

  • Ransom Backus

    I am bearing scars from the damage that the anti-religion world has caused me as well. What I realize is that we can all, Christian or anti-Christian put on the best suit and tie, even some makeup, but we are still zombies. We can put our best face forward, but I realize that none of us can be trusted to be moral or good. I didn’t learn this from a pastor of an organized church as they have wounded me too. I learned it through the school of hard knocks.

  • So what about women who are oppressed, or people of other faiths, or children, or non-natives to a nation, people of color, or of a different sexual orientation? Do they deserve oppression as well?

  • Ransom Backus

    I find the anabaptist sects to be the most peaceful form of Christianity out there. They refrain from wars. Many of them even oppose violence as a form of self defense.

  • Ransom Backus

    if they are given to evil then yes. (of course “sexual orientation” doesn’t exist in the lexicon of God’s creation so I will dismiss that one right out.)

  • Like the woman who was murdered by her own family because she made her own choice to marry for love? or the people who pass laws making it legal to jail and murder people because they are gay? Or villagers lined up by a ditch by Christian militias and then murdered, while Muslim militants on the other side do the same time to Christians?

    Trust me, we here in the west are in no danger of having to have a faith choice forced upon us. We have freedoms that people in Chad, Uganda, Nigeria, Pakistan can only dream of. Sadly in the formation of the modern west, we murdered thousands in the name of the cross, enslaved more, sickened untold numbers of people, all for the sake of property and conquest, and of course Christendom.

    The instrument of torture and oppression is not what brings us hope. Its love, mercy, kindness, self sacrifice.

  • Given to evil??? Sorry, but that is a humongous crock of bull offal. If you can sit there and sanction human suffering caused by humans, I want no part of your religion. I see excuses to oppress, diminish, degrade, and deemed unworthy too often around me by people who claim to follow Christ, and it sickens me.

  • Ransom Backus

    I never said ALL people who suffer oppression are given to evil. God knows the difference between the innocent victim and the true wicked ones. And He will bring vengeance when Christ returns. I am not THAT stupid. I am speaking from a common sense place. If you do evil, even as a society, God has no problem bringing in the tyrant.

  • Quakers are also pacifists, as well as many traditional Christians. I am a deep pacifists, and abhor violence, hatred, bigotry and any mindset that deems someone as unloved or unworthy of God’s love, and therefore fodder for hatred and inhumane treatment.

  • Anti religion? No, religion is what scared me.

  • Don’t believe a word of that.

  • Ransom Backus

    personally I am not a pacifist, but non-violent (there is a subtle difference. I learned much of that philosophy from the Chinese art of kung fu.)

  • Lance Schmidt

    I don’t quite understand your statements. If you have accepted the gift of salvation through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ, then why do you need to continually be on your face begging God for mercy for yourself? Mercy from what?

  • Ransom Backus

    It keeps me humble. It keeps me remembering where I came from and what He did. If I forget I turn into an arrogant bastard.

  • Yes there is a difference between true pacifism and a mindset of non-violence. I’m a pacifist. I seek to do no harm to anyone. I do not believe in divine retribution, or physical violence as a solution. Which is why I utterly reject the concept of hell, or divine judgment, which always means violence enacted upon someone. I vehemently loath mindsets that are purposed to look at others as unworthy. I will never seek to commit a violent act upon another. It causes me grief to see violence committed on anyone, because I see the ripple effect.

    Now I do admit considering such a thing. I’m human, but I believe it is wrong. Example. Two days after I left my abusive drunken shit head of a ex-husband, and yes I hate his guts, I prayed that God would give him a horrible death. Five minutes later, I prayed an apology. Despite the physical, emotional, financial pain that he caused me and my children, I knew retribution was not the right thing, but a mindset based on anger and pain. I still loathe the man, but I do not want him to come to any harm, because of the pain it would cause to his family.

  • Ransom Backus

    and that’s why we have two different religions. I need to know Daddy has a shotgun to protect or avenge me from the injustices and abuses I suffered in this world. I don’t feel safe in a world where I am not protected.

  • Ransom Backus

    anti-religion meaning opposing religion.

  • And I don’t feel the need to be afraid or protected.

  • I don’t oppose religion.

  • Ransom Backus

    you’re lucky. Because I have been abused and hurt by this world all of my life…with no one to get my back. Either I lock and load and arm to the teeth or I believe that God will get this one and stop evil people. I wish I could be like you.

  • Ransom Backus

    so then the phrase “anti-religion world” doesn’t apply to you then.

  • It doesn’t even make sense to me.

  • Ransom Backus

    there are people who oppose religion. They are then anti religion.

  • I understand abuse, been there. Decided to walk away from the abusers, one physical and emotional, the other spiritual and emotional and live a life of peace instead. I had to make a determined decision, to continue to be fearful of my past, and the lies the abuses taught me, or to chuck everything, I once thought true, and start all over, keeping only what I found beneficial, strengthening and positive.

    Revenge, bitterness, regret, retribution had to go. Its still a work in progress, as I am still unpacking all the shit I suppressed, and had to shelve, just to survive. In the unpacking, after the fact, I can see more objectively how little a past event can impact me today, if I choose not to let it. Makes it easier to be honest with myself, open to what my present and future holds, and to hopefully be more empathetic to those whose journey is somewhat similar.

    It takes time, it takes stubbornness, it takes courage, it takes a sense of humor and a willingness to be completely honest with ones self. Everyone will do this differently,

  • Ransom Backus

    but that’s why we have different religions. Personally I believe the Bible and what God told me directly…that He will avenge me…and protect me…even with fierce wrath. He is a good Dad, unlike the one that left me in the path of the oncoming train.

  • OK, Ransom. I welcomed you early on, but I think you’ve effectively hijacked this thread. Maybe another hobby? Crochet? Astral projection? A brush up on etiquette?

  • anakinmcfly

    Well, he didn’t believe in creationism either; I can’t remember what his theory was, other than it was mildly interesting and novel.

  • anakinmcfly

    I’m in Singapore. A lot of the homophobia here seems to be cultural in nature – the idea that it’s something that originated in the decadent over-sexualised West, trying to corrupt our wholesome Asian family values and whatnot. There’s nothing like railing against foreigners to bring a country together. Plus stuff about how it’s one’s duty to continue the family line, even if you’re not naturally inclined to, and that gay people who refuse heterosexual relationships are thus selfish and self-interested and a shame to their parents. Fun times.

  • anakinmcfly

    I’m gay and I’m a virgin. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with sex acts any more than being straight does. It’s just about *who* you are attracted to and fall in love with. There are gay couples who have never had sex for whatever reason (personal choice, health reasons, etc), and that doesn’t magically make them not-gay. Meanwhile, just about any ‘sex act’ a gay couple might do is one that a straight couple could also do, so the line is arbitrary.

  • Bones

    God told you he will avenge you.

    There’s thousands of Muslims in the Middle East saying that now.

    That’s your projection onto God, dude.

    He ain’t avenging you, like he ain’t avenging the Jews butchered in the holocaust or those in the Twin Towers who were victims of God’s vengeance. God ain’t avenging the Native Americans who were slaughtered on your lands nor is God going to avenge the blacks.

    Yet you say he will avenge you.

    Maybe you can take solace in Psalm 137

    “How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones against the rock.”

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    Ransom; the writings of other religions mentioned by James and allegro here have been just as influential among humanity. Most Western Christians, like yourself apparently, just aren’t aware of it because in the history of Western cultures and Christianity’s existence, those other religions have been pretty much “outside of” or geographically and culturally beyond Western contact.
    So, to respond to your comment; they all have been, within their own time and culture. There is even the very plausible suggestion, with strong hints from Eastern ancient documents (India in particular), that Jesus himself was at one time immersed in those Eastern cultures during his “lost” years and thus, thru him, those religions have influenced Christianity.
    Apparently your “Master” has revealed none of that during your private conversations.

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    Yes, Ransom, sometimes it is. But not the whole of life, which seems to be your perspective. To CHOOSE the cross in all of life is to choose a life of suffering. Jesus himself said that “I am come that you might have life and have it abundantly”. He did not even suggest that we must choose suffering. That suffering and hard choices happen, he did not deny, but he never suggested that we CHOOSE them as a life practice.

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    Zombies and apocalyptic thinking. Until now, you have been something of an enigma to me, but now it finally comes out and I begin to understand you better.

    And I won’t bother to engage you any further.

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    *******I’m in the second belt loop to the left.********
    LOL. My hoot for the day. Love it.

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    I can’t possibly respond to every point. Don’t have time just now, but your point #8 got my attention in particular. It raises the question of resurrection and ascension. Let me offer a “what if”. What if there is something to the idea that “The Gods”, the mythical characters, the religious leaders that appeared and disappeared and “ascended”, etc were actually representatives of extra-terrestrial life forms far advanced technologically and trying to influence our human development. Given what we now know about the expanse of the universe, it’s not so far-fetched as it may first sound and it could explain a LOT about human religions and beliefs. Resurrections? Ascensions? Appearing and disappearing and being among humans after death? Holograms….anyone?

    Even in the relatively recent past, WE, western “civilized”, technologically advanced humans were seen as gods by the primitive natives of hitherto unexplored parts of the earth. Perhaps, in a universal sense, WE are the primitive natives being visited by “gods”. Might Jesus have been a beneficent extra-terrestrial being implanted among us? Why not? Would that make him any less than what he is currently traditionally understood to be? (I use the word “understood” loosely, obviously)

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    Well, you made that a challenge. Here I am scrolling up and down to relate your answers to the questions. What fun!

  • Bones

    Must be why Jesus is called the Prince of Peace.

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    I don’t believe Jesus meant that at all. Did he not admonish us to strive to be like him, something that would entail human, intellectual effort? Would he suggest such a thing if it was actually unattainable?

  • Bones


    Ain’t happening.

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    Yeah, chicken or egg situation, but then, there are those stubborn stats. “Facts are stubborn things”. – Pres. John Adams

  • Yeah, heard that one before. It happens to be one of the major themes in that horrible Left Behind series, that I regretfully read. It is also a common theme in the crazy religious group I grew up in, as well as a not uncommon one in conservative religious circles. Its a fear tactic, a nefarious one at that. It has no basis on reality for the vast majority of Christianity, and for those where religious preference is a problem, most still are able to practice their faiths quietly, without risks of torture or death. It is mostly in nations under civil war where such things are common, and it is less a religious matter than a humans acting atrociously towards others who are deemed different and therefore an enemy.

  • Ransom Backus

    I will put it like this. Either I believe God has the firepower to overthrow a corrupt oppressive government, and will hold the people responsible for my abuse accountable, or I lock and load and go on a killing spree and I am the next shooter on the evening news. Which would you prefer?

  • Ransom Backus

    ok I’ll leave you guys alone

  • Neither. Both are equally horrific.

  • Ransom Backus

    well I need one or the other to feel safe and to feel at peace with things. I need to know that justice will be done. I cannot live in a world where there is no reckoning for evil men.

  • Bones

    That’s one of the scariest posts I’ve ever read.

    Are you living for revenge or for your incredibly beautiful wife and child?

    You are lucky and blessed, sir.

    Remember what Jesus said after they had abused Him and nailed Him naked to the cross.

    “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

  • Justice is NOT retribution. Justice is not revenge. Justice is not based on fear. True justice is based on fairness, mercy and if a consequence needs to be meted out, it is done so only the ones who have caused harm.

  • Sharla Hulsey

    I remember an episode of Star Trek that was along a similar line… A woman had appeared on a planet, presented herself as one of the gods from their belief system, and made a deal with them to help them straighten out a great many problems in their society. She left, but the deal said she would return at some point and they would be required to let her become ruler of their planet. In investigation, the Enterprise crew helped the people on the planet to recognize that *they* were the ones who actually made the changes, not this extraterrestrial who had set herself up as a god.

    But I am not sure that I am prepared to buy that human encounters with Jesus and with God are actually encounters with extraterrestrials. I don’t know that I have a particularly good reason why… I guess I’ve always assumed that if there were truly superior beings out there in space somewhere, they wouldn’t waste their time with the likes of us, except possibly to keep an eye on us because we have developed the capacity for destroying ourselves. I don’t know.

  • Andy

    I like this comment a lot. Well done.

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  • charlesmaynes

    I think we may need a new sort of meme- you can be either an Amrican- or a Christian…. but not both….

  • Guess I’m pretty old school then. However, unlike many.. I keep my opinions to myself unless it shows up on my doorstep. I am not the one people are going to have to give account to.

  • Bones

    Thanks for your opinion.

  • Jim Freymuth

    “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness”
    2 Timothy 3:16
    The men that wrote the scriptures were taking dictation, from God. Every jot in tittle, in the Bible is from the same author. The men that were used were simply the pens that God used to write it. So, you’re wrong in your statement.

  • BarbaraR

    Jim, a reminder of what this page is about:

    This is not a dogmatic page. There is no “A real Christian believes thus and so and if you don’t see it my way, you’re not a real Christian” here.

    There are many interpretations of scripture and no one has the corner on which one is correct. There are also many opinions on whether scripture is inerrant, to be taken literally or whether it is allegorical.

    There is a difference between “I believe this to be true” and “you’re wrong in your belief because you believe something different than I do.”

    Also, we all have Bibles and are perfectly capable of looking up verses, so no need to copy-and-paste.

  • Andy

    The problem with your comment is that there’s no empirical proof that any scriptures are divinely dictated. If you believe the bible is the inerrant word of God, that must be taken on faith. You cannot prove to the rest of the world that these 66 particular writings were divinely dictated, and no others were.

    Empirically, the only thing we know is that the writings that the bible comprises were selected by men — well-intentioned though they might have been — in what may have been an arbitrary process. For all we know, they might have selected writings that furthered their purposes and discarded ones they didn’t agree with.

    I think Barbara pretty well covered everything else I was going to say, so I’ll leave it at that.

  • Annnnnnd our “Patient Moderator of the Year” award goes to …

  • BarbaraR

    You like me, you really like me! …I’d like to thank the academy and everyone who voted for me. The checks are in the mail.

  • Guest

    [comment deleted]

  • BarbaraR

    Oh gee whiz, I am turning in my “most patient mod” award today.
    Jim, we’ve heard this nonsense many times before. Go away.

  • Jim Freymuth

    [Snotty and condescendingly superior remark deleted]

  • Purity Balls! oh. my. god. reminds of a classic foot-in-mouth moment.

    Not too many years ago, I was the “plus one” to a dinner party at a well-to-do Dallas family. During cocktails, I noticed photos of Dad dancing with their teen daughter … she in gorgeous white dress, he in white-tie. Over dinner table I chime in, “gorgeous photos of your daughter at Dallas’ debutante ball, when was she presented?” Dead, uncomfortable, pin-dropping, silence. My friend quickly changes subject and later informs me the pics were from the big Dallas Purity Ball … and that their daughter turned up preggers about a month later, and, per basic math, she had probably become with-child during the pre-ball parties!

    Peoples Be Crazy.

  • BarbaraR

    There’s such a wonderful irony.

  • Yowzer!