Noah’s ark, manna, and a convenient device for ignoring the inconvenient point

So shortly after writing a post about how the last thing the world needs is another bunch of Christians building a life-size replica of Noah’s ark, I learn that — you guessed it — yet another church is building a replica of Noah’s Ark.

This time it’s John Hagee’s church in San Antonio, Texas. Hagee’s son, Matthew (whose singing is much better than his theology), says the purpose of the $5 million project is to convince people “to say it happened,” because clearly the question of historicity is the only thing that matters in the story of Noah. And because building a replica proves something happened, just like the way Peter Jackson proved the existence of Rivendell.

And what else should Hagee’s Cornerstone Church spend $5 million on? I mean, it was either this or else waste all that money on something like feeding all the poor children in San Antonio for a year.

Chaplain Mike at Internet Monk posted this promotional poster from Cornerstone’s website:

If you can’t read the image, it says:

Cornerstone Church invites you to attend the unveiling of its newest addition, a 28,400-square-foot Noah’s Ark-inspired building!

The Ark boasts true-to-size animatronics animals, custom-designed wall murals, synthetic trees and grasses, LED shooting stars, custom wood-plank carpeting and more. The building will host the children’s church Sunday school as well as Mother’s Day Out program. With its unique, stimulating, and larger-than-life elements, the Ark experience will truly bring to life the famed Bible story and be an inspirational adventure to all who enter.

  • Continuous Tours
  • Carnival Rides
  • Biblical Puppet Shows
  • Story Readings in the classrooms by Sunday school teachers in Bible costumes
  • Moon Bounces, Face Painting & Balloon Clown Artists
  • Hot Dogs, Roasted Corn, Kettle Corn & Cotton Candy

I am dazzled by this. It’s so appalling that it almost wraps all the way back around into a kind of delight.

Here’s more from the delightfully appalling/appallingly delightful Christian Post article:

“I want them to say it happened,” Executive Pastor Matthew Hagee told “The Ark was real. Salvation is real. What God desires for Noah, God desires for me. For Noah, it was a boat. And for me, it was Jesus Christ.”

… Hagee, son of founding pastor John Hagee, described The Ark, saying it has vestibule entrances with outdoor scenes of the ship’s hull, crafted with alder wood panels. At one vestibule will be a talking macaw playing host.

Each of the animals in the central area of the hull – from a tortoise, sheep and zebra to a rhinoceros, lion and elephant – will be named for a great church figure from history, as a springboard to lessons on John Bunyan, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Charles Wesley and others.

Nine of the 16 creatures will be animatronic, created by Animal Makers, a Southern California firm that specializes in robotic animals for Hollywood movies. Some are new, and some were formerly leased. The rhino, for example, had a short appearance in the John Cusack film 2012.

“You’d be hard-pressed to find any church with animatronics,” Michael Chanley, executive director of the International Network of Children’s Ministry, was quoted as saying. “It communicates so much value to the family, ‘We don’t just want your kids to come here and learn. We want them to experience God,'” he said.

You’ll recall that the Apostle Paul rebuked the church in Corinth for not having animatronics. That communicated such contempt for the family, and it denied children the chance to experience God the way one only can in a sacred space like the Hall of Presidents.

I’m not sure that moon bounces, kettle corn, or a talking macaw named Hudson Taylor will really help to achieve Matt Hagee’s goal of convincing visitors of the historicity of Noah’s ark. But those carnival touches — Chaplain Mike calls it the “Disney-ization of Christianity” — serve the same purpose as that preoccupation with proving the historicity of a story that never itself demands such an interpretation. The whole point of both of those is to distract from the whole point.

Fundies and inerrantist evangelicals like to pretend that they take the Bible more seriously — and more “conservatively” — than other Christians, and yet they’re always willing to go to outlandish lengths just to avoid engaging the meaning of the text. Read them the story of Noah and they’ll start talking about the carrying capacity of all those cubits, reciting arcane non-facts suggesting that the hydrological history of the Grand Canyon “proves” there was a global flood in antiquity, or whatever else they can come up with to change the subject and avoid dealing with the actual story the text actually gives us.

The story of Noah is one of many in Genesis where, as Tim O’Brien wrote, “absolute occurrence is irrelevant.”

“Did exactly this actually occur precisely in this way?” is probably the least interesting, least insightful, least helpful, least edifying, least inspirational questions one could ask about this story. Those who make it their first question, and their most important question, seem to be trying to hide, to evade, to distract themselves from actually engaging the actual story on its own terms.

They’d rather talk about historicity — by which they mean cubits and kettle corn.

Cara Sexton has a nice, rambly post up this weekend on being a rich Christian in an age of hunger. It’s titled “On Hoarding Manna.” The reference there is to a story from Exodus 16, in which God miraculously provides bread from heaven for the Israelites in the wilderness:

When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. … Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather as much of it as each of you needs, an omer to a person according to the number of persons, all providing for those in their own tents.'”

The Israelites did so, some gathering more, some less. But when they measured it with an omer, those who gathered much had nothing over, and those who gathered little had no shortage; they gathered as much as each of them needed.

And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over until morning.” But they did not listen to Moses; some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul. And Moses was angry with them.

Sexton’s reference to this story tackles its meaning head-on. She doesn’t flinch from the implications of it and she wrestles with those in her post.

Her approach is very different from that of the literalist evangelicals I’ve heard preach and teach from this passage. For them, the key thing was, as Matthew Hagee put it, “to say it happened,” to believe the manna was real — that the above story from Exodus 16 is a historical account of actual events. That was what they preached on and taught about. That was the first question they brought to this passage and the thing they treated as most important.

With manna as with Noah’s ark, the whole point of this obsession with historicity seemed to be to distract from the whole point of the story.



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  • P J Evans

    Except for the one guy who looked like a normal human.

  • banancat

    I appreciate that but I wasn’t doing it (just) for your sake. Condescending, misogynist shit like that has no place in a progressive community and he needs to understand right from the beginning that I will not tolerate it, even if it he was “just joking” (which is problematic in itself).

  • Alanlionheart

    Most Christian I know regard Christianity not as a religion but as a relationship with the living God.
    But if you want to call it a religion, that’s up to you. To me religion implies that my salvation is not of the grace of God but by my own efforts. And that is most certainly NOT Christianity

  • The_L1985

    And how are these questions NOT addressed if the passage is myth, but only if the passage is history? I fail to see how a symbolic story could be any less revealing about such things than a factual account.

    Also, this is what I get about all of those things, based solely on the story of Noah’s Ark:

    1. God is completely intolerant of any wrongdoing. Any misstep, no matter how minor, is punishable by death. Infants and nonhuman life are also destroyed for the sins of adult humans.

    2. God has no patience with people. Mess up and you DIE.

    3. God has no tolerance. Mess up and you DIE.

    4. God only wants to have a relationship with people who are lockstep with a very rigid set of commands. He cares nothing about anyone else, instead wanting them to DIE.

    5. God has no willingness to forgive. If you aren’t one of his special chosen, then you DIE, with no chance to repent.

    Think about it. We are never told once what any of the people who died ever did wrong. And all of the plants, animals, and infants never exactly had a chance to make the conscious choice to do wrong. Also, it clearly says that Noah was “perfect,” both in the original Hebrew and in a large number of Jewish and Christian translations of Genesis. So…the sins of the people who died were basically either being born Nephilim (angel-human hybrids, as mentioned earlier in Genesis 6), which was hardly their fault; or being imperfect, which is pretty much a universal condition. Notice it doesn’t say that any of Noah’s family was “perfect,” only that they were just sort of chosen to go along, possibly arbitrarily. Also note that if the Deluge is real, then millions of plants, animals, and fungi perished for nothing more than existing at the wrong time. That is unspeakably cruel.

    So if you really want to argue that the Deluge is a good passage to tell us exactly about the nature of God…well, it doesn’t really make your god seem worth worshiping.

  • The_L1985

    First of all, the Bible is a collection of dozens of ancient texts, not a single book. Those texts were written over the course of 1500 years. If the whole Bible is such a central important thing, and is basically the essence of Jesus in book form, why wasn’t it all written as one document at one time?

    Secondly, there were DOZENS of Gospels circulating during the 1st century that were arbitrarily not chosen to be listed in the modern Bible. The 4 we use now were literally the winners of an ancient popularity contest:

    1. The Latin Vulgate edition of the Bible was translated in the 5th or 6th century, and was composed of the 74 books most commonly used by the faithful. No official statement was ever made saying that these were the only books that could be considered the Bible–they were just the most popular.

    2. Because Latin remained the language of the church and the nobility for 1000 years after that, the Vulgate was used more or less out of habit. No official statement was ever made saying that churches could only use the Vulgate; it was just used because it was the translation of the Bible that most people could remember using.

    3. During the Protestant Reformation, when Luther named several books as being “not divinely inspired” (including not only the Duterocanonicals of the Catholic Church, but also Jude and Revelation), the Catholic Church made an official list of which books were in the Bible, which was basically just the ones that made it into the Vulgate, because the clerics all were familiar with the Vulgate and not with the other books. It was at this point that the Catholic canon of 74 books, and the Protestant canon of 66 books, were officially established (because most Protestants didn’t agree with Luther about Jude and Revelation and thus left them in).

    Which books are and are not part of the Bible is a thing that has only been established for around 600 years, and not all Christians even agree–the Catholic and Orthodox churches are still using 74 books, while the other Christians (aside from the LDS) use 66! The books chosen were entirely arbitrary, based on an ancient Roman popularity contest–the Old Testament books were all considered important to the Jews and thus included, but the New Testament books were chosen by a completely arbitrary method!

    That just doesn’t sound like the Bible should be equated with Jesus at all. And the idea of the Bible being the “Word of God” in the sense that you mean it is very new–most Christians throughout history didn’t consider the Bible to be 100% dictated by God.

  • The_L1985

    None of those things are the fault of the scientific method, though. You just said yourself that they are the fault of carelessness.

  • The_L1985

    Once again: the laws of physics dictate the evaporation and condensation of water that we call the water cycle. In order for it not to rain for the 1000+ years that Genesis says took place between Adam and the Deluge*, one of the following would HAVE to be the case:

    1. There would have to be either no surface water on earth or no atmosphere, because interaction of the air and water is part of what drives the water cycle.

    2. There would have to be no sun, because the sun is the other part of what drives the water cycle.

    3. The entire laws of physics as they involve heat, water vapor, and molecular motion would have to be dramatically different.

    There is literally no other option here. To insist that it is even possible for it to not have rained before Noah is to say that one of those 3 items is also possible.

    * Considering that the earth is actually far, far older than 6000 years, and has been experimentally conclusively proven to be older, you actually have even more time to account for than the Bible indicates.

  • The_L1985

    That is not the definition of faith at all. Have you even read Paul’s stuff about seeing through a glass, darkly?

    I feel sorry for you. Once you step out of that evangelical bubble, you’re in for the same horrible culture shock that I went through. I remember saying all of the exact stuff you’re saying now when I was a teen.

  • The_L1985

    The dictionary definition of “religion”:

    A system of belief and ethics, generally involving one or more gods.

    Please explain to me how Christianity doesn’t involve belief, ethics, or the existence of any gods, because that does not match with my experience of Christianity at all

  • The_L1985

    Yes, it is. As I said before, you’re in for a rude awakening when you start socializing with liberal Christians and members of other religions IRL, and I don’t envy you that experience. It was really rough on me.

  • The_L1985

    OK, let’s look at this again, using the very definition you have just quoted. What exactly do you mean that Christianity isn’t a religion?

    1. Christianity isn’t a set of beliefs that concerns the cause, nature and purpose of the universe? Christianity doesn’t describe the universe as being created by a god? Christianity doesn’t have devotional observances? Christianity doesn’t have a moral code?

    2. Christianity doesn’t have a fundamental set of beliefs? There are no Christian practices that anybody agrees on, like prayer and weekly church services?

    3. There are no groups of people who adhere to the beliefs and practices of Christianity?

    Since when? I experience ALL OF THE ABOVE as describing Christianity to a T.

    If Christianity isn’t a religion, then I don’t have a religion either; I have a personal relationship with Thor, Bast, and Diana. Since having a personal relationship with one’s deity somehow makes it not a religion, despite following all the dictionary definition of a religion, this must be a true statement.

  • The_L1985

    There are many. Gardnerian Wiccans generally worship Diana and Herne. There are witches who worship gods and goddesses of the Greco-Roman, Voudun, Germanic/Nordic, Celtic, Chinese, or Japanese pantheons. There are witches who consider all gods mankind has ever worshiped (including yours) to be part of one great being often called the Dryghton. Still other witches are atheistic, and believe the gods to be representations of Jungian archetypes rather than actual beings.

    There are so many different kinds of witches that it’s really hard to make generalizations about us all. If you want more information about witches in particular, I would recommend The Truth About Witchcraft Today by Scott Cunningham, or Pagans & Christians by Gus DiZerega, Ph.D.

  • The_L1985

    Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

    “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

    “Which ones?” he inquired.

    Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”

    “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

    Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

    When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

    Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again
    I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle
    than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
    –Matthew 19:16-24

    He who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.

    –Mathhew 23:12

    And don’t even get me started on Matthew 25:36-44.

  • The_L1985

    Some of the people living broken and unhappy lives are Christians.

    By the way, I have hope. I have a man I intend to marry and start a family with, and we love each other and are deeply committed to each other. I rarely drink, and never to excess. I know the Church and Christianity intimately, having been inundated in the exact same form of Christianity you follow from age 3 to age 22. I dislike the idea of doing drugs, because drugs are what killed my (Christian) uncle.

    You are being lied to and told that a belief in Jesus as the Christ, who forgives sins, is somehow contingent on Genesis being a history book. This is demonstrably untrue, as most Christians around the world do not consider Genesis to be a history book. They believe God created the world, and that life was put here by God through the agency of evolution.

  • The_L1985

    “So far as I know witchcraft as a movement has not caused any improvements to the lives of the poor.”

    Then let’s educate you, shall we?

    And here’s a long list of Wiccan- and Pagan-run charities, most of which include food and/or clothing drives for the poor, along with their websites so that you can look at them directly:

  • The_L1985

    I Googled “Wiccan charities” and got a nice long list right off the bat, which I then provided to Alanlionheart. See my comment above. :)

  • AnonaMiss

    The most obvious sign that it’s a parable, and not a history, is that the events in it break the laws of physics on a fundamental level, but in ways that would have seemed reasonable to a storyteller of the time. For example, fitting all the different kinds of animals into one boat – that’s a lot more reasonable if you’re not aware of the Amazon rain forest. If the animals of the entire world had actually been there, and the story of the flood were a report rather than a parable/fairytale, at the very least the boat would have been much bigger than described. The description of the gathering of the animals would also have been more robust: the animals would have included a multitude of species that had previously been unknown, and would remain undiscovered for millenia to come. Think of some of the stranger creatures unknown to the Semites – the toucan, the sloth, the kangaroo! If these creatures had actually gathered in the middle east in the 4-digits BC, think of the wonder they would have occasioned! But the gathering of the animals is just a passing mention.

    While it would be possible for the physical impossibilities in the Noah story to be miraculous occurrences, the fact that they are presented off-hand is pretty good evidence that they were frills on a parable, not miracles. Huge feats can be undertaken, huge events can happen, in a passing mention or throwaway line in a parable, because the events aren’t the important part. In a history, huge feats and huge events are the focus, and take up most of the space on the page.

    Now, of course, a parable has a point. The story of Noah’s Ark has a few of them, but one in particular stands out to me. It’s a common theme in the Old Testament that God keeps faith with the righteous. Noah is one righteous man in a culture of iniquity, and God notices. He forewarns the righteous and delivers them to safety, rather than considering them unimportant ‘acceptable losses’.

    This was an important and relevant message through most of Israel’s history. Throughout their history they have found themselves a minority culture surrounded by a more powerful one – first in Canaan, then in Egypt, in Babylon, in Rome, and eventually in Europe. Stories like Noah’s Ark, or Sodom and Gomorrah, convey the lesson that even when you are surrounded by godlessness, God notices and remembers you. Just because everyone else is worshipping differently, doing things God has told you not to, doesn’t mean God has forgotten you. God remembers. God keeps the faith. And if the culture around you becomes so wicked that God decides to destroy it, he’ll make sure you make it to safety first.

    It’s a pretty great parable :).

  • The most obvious sign that it’s a parable, and not a history, is that
    the events in it break the laws of physics on a fundamental level, but
    in ways that would have seemed reasonable to a storyteller of the time.

    To be fair, this is also consistent with it being a deceptive history. That is, an actual lie, rather than a piece of fiction.

  • The most obvious sign that it’s a parable, and not a history, is that
    the events in it break the laws of physics on a fundamental level, but
    in ways that would have seemed reasonable to a storyteller of the time.

    To be fair, this is also consistent with it being a deceptive history. That is, an actual lie, rather than a piece of fiction.

  • AnonaMiss

    Hush you. I’m trying to open his mind, not break it!

  • EllieMurasaki

    What then distinguishes Christianity from religion? Is it not ‘a set of beliefs’? Does it not ‘[concern] the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe’? Does it not involve ‘creation of [the universe by] a superhuman agency? Does it not ‘involv[e] devotional and ritual observances’? Does it not ‘[contain] a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs’? What makes Christianity not a religion?

    And the Christians who say Christianity is BOTH a religion and a relationship with God, why are they wrong?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oh, damn, you beat me to it and you did it better.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, that wasn’t my point, though it’s a good point in itself. And he hasn’t answered my question, has he?

    Alan? Unions. Churches or witchcraft?

  • The_L1985

    No. John the apostle said that Jesus called himself the Way, Truth and Life. It’s equally possible that John was a liar.

    Also, I have yet to hear any scientist describe anything as “molecules to man evolution.” There is exactly ONE Theory of Evolution that is currently believed, and that is Darwin’s.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Or mistaken.

  • When telling a lie — that is, deliberately attempting to persuade the audience to believe a thing which is not true — it is generally best to approximate reality by, for example, getting the laws of physics more-or-less right.

  • Sure, if one can avoid making errors in one’s storytelling that seem reasonable to storytellers of one’s time, that’s definitely the way to go… agreed.

  • The_L1985

    You still haven’t answered my question about the water cycle. I take this to mean you don’t have an answer.

    I’m not surprised, honestly. The main purpose of an upbringing such as ours is to stifle one’s natural curiosity so that one does not ask The Wrong Questions. After all, asking questions is anathema to a tightly-controlled worldview based on keeping one’s lackeys in line.

  • The_L1985

    There is a more accurate word for Messianic Jews. That word is “Christian.”

    Also, there’s the possibility that the NT was retconned to fit with OT prophecies, and in many cases OT passages that were clearly not prophetic were shoehorned into being about Jesus. There are also passages like the Emmanuel passage in Isaiah, which in context clearly refers to “By the time a young woman who is now a virgin has a son, things will be good enough for her to name him ‘God is with us.'” Luke twisted this into “A woman who is a virgin at the time will have a son, and he will be God walking among us,” which doesn’t mean the same thing at all.

    Quite frankly, I’m more likely to trust the people who wrote the OT to tell me what it means, than a bunch of people who neither went to seminary nor have ever read the Bible in its original Hebrew.

  • alfgifu

    If Jesus is the Word of God, and the Bible is the Word of God in written form, then that does logically mean that the Bible is the same thing as Jesus, and therefore you end up with the Bible = God. That’s why I started talking about worshipping the Bible.

  • The_L1985

    It doesn’t change that they are ethnically Jewish, perhaps. But once they converted to Christianity, they ceased to be members of the Jewish religion.

    And my Conservative Jewish fiance would definitely have words with you if he heard you spouting that “close relationship between Jews and Christians” BS.

    For example, opposition to abortion in the US has been falsely claimed as a “Judeo-Christian” rather than a Christian issue. This despite the fact that in Jewish tradition, if a woman’s life is endangered by her pregnancy, she is morally obligated to have an abortion.

    Judaism and Christianity are as similar as Christianity and Islam. They are not the same religion, and treating them as if they are is an insult to the Jewish people, who have fought for CENTURIES to keep their religious and cultural traditions alive.

  • The_L1985

    Oh, but that’s not possible for a good Christian to do. Because reasons.

    Seriously, though, there are several damned good reasons that I’m not a Christian anymore, and foolishness of the “We don’t have to self-examine because we’re HOLY!!” variety is one of them.

  • Alanlionheart

    That’s the Biblical definition as in Romans 10. And yes I have read that great chapter on love in 1 Corinthians 13 and there is no contradiction here. Paul is talking about love and how we as God’s people should be, reflecting the love God the Father has for us, demonstrated to us by Jesus.

    It is true that as Christians we don’t see now as we shall see when we get to be with Jesus for all eternity. What we have now is a mere shadow of what will be and it will all pass away.

    So there is no “evangelical bubble”.

    I don’t know what you went through as a teenager but it is true that I have had my experience of God challenged and as a result He is more real to me now that ever before.

    If by “evangelical bubble” you mean some kind of religious straight jacket with all its expectations then yes I have been through that and got the T shirt

  • EllieMurasaki

    The phrase ‘evangelical bubble’ refers to the fact-free existence the evangelical subculture tries to lead. FYI.

  • Alanlionheart

    Of course it involves these things but only including the belief in ONE God. But that was not the main point I was trying to make. If one just thinks of Christianity as a “religion” one misses out on the fundamental issue of relationship.
    Our God is a relational God That was the whole purpose of the Creation where Adam & Eve were the crowning glory of it. God’s heart then and still is now to Bless His people under the Covenant relationship He has ordained for them and for the whole world if they will receive Him as Saviour and Lord.
    So the issue of Christianity being a “religion” pales into insignificance when one begins to have an understanding of what God is all about and who He makes us in Christ ……….. heirs of the Kingdom of God and joint heirs with Jesus.
    Everything that was Jesus’ belongs to Christians, the same rights and privileges He has, we have.
    I am saddened by your experience if you have been told differently

  • EllieMurasaki

    ‘One god’ is included under ‘one or more gods’, FYI. And the people who get up in arms about infringement of Christians’ religious freedom (I’m thinking in particular of the people who think companies have religion that is offended by the contraception coverage mandate) disagree with you on whether Christianity is a religion; if it weren’t, if it were merely a relationship with a god, religious freedom of Christians wouldn’t be an issue.

  • Alanlionheart

    I’m sorry but it absolutely isn’t the same.
    These so called “liberal” Christians have a lot to answer for if they have effectively helped to destroy your faith.
    I have encountered them on other sites when we have been debating the early chapters of Genesis and I confess that I am saddened by their position that seeks to mold the Bible around current scientific thinking and evolutionary ideas. In doing so they water down the Bible so that its authority is diminished.
    I would not say that they are not Christians, that is a matter between them and God. But the Bible clearly teaches us to be careful how we treat other brothers and sisters in Christ so that we do not cause them to stumble

  • EllieMurasaki

    [liberal Christians’] position that seeks to mold the Bible around current scientific thinking and evolutionary ideas [like sensible people do if they want to hold on to the Bible at all in the face of, you know, reality]. In doing so they water down the Bible so that its authority is diminished.

    What in hell are you doing in the comments section of a blog run by a liberal Christian?

  • Alanlionheart

    “””OK, let’s look at this again, using the very definition you have just quoted. What exactly do you mean that Christianity isn’t a religion?”””

    I think I’ve just covered this in a previous response

    “””. Christianity isn’t a set of beliefs that concerns the cause, nature and purpose of the universe? Christianity doesn’t describe the universe as being created by a god? Christianity doesn’t have devotional observances? Christianity doesn’t have a moral code?”””

    I don’t think I stated this at all ……………….. but to respond …. yes it does talk about all these things and much much more. But IMHO its primary purpose is Jesus. It’s all about Him.

    “””2. Christianity doesn’t have a fundamental set of beliefs? There are no Christian practices that anybody agrees on, like prayer and weekly church services?”””

    I don’t think I’ve said otherwise either. Of course there are

    “””3. There are no groups of people who adhere to the beliefs and practices of Christianity?”””
    Yes again

    “””Since when? I experience ALL OF THE ABOVE as describing Christianity to a T.”””

    Well OK if you want to go down that route the I won’t disagree. All I’m trying to do is get you to look at the much wider picture and focus on the relational nature of our God

    “””If Christianity isn’t a religion, then I don’t have a religion either; I have a personal relationship with Thor, Bast, and Diana. Since having a personal relationship with one’s deity somehow makes it not a religion, despite following all the dictionary definition of a religion, this must be a true statement.”””

  • Alanlionheart

    That’s not condemning the man. Jesus was just confirming what He had already stated showing that a person cannot serve two masters. He showed the ruler where his heart really was

  • EllieMurasaki

    Alan, I’m not ignoring this, I just can’t see the whole comment (fuck Disqus and fuck work IE and fuck Disqus some more), so any response I give will have to wait several hours. In case you were going to worry.

  • Alanlionheart

    That’s true, sadly. But it is not God’s will for that to be the case.
    I am glad you have hope and have found someone to share you life with.
    My wife and I have been happily married for over 40 years and we I love each other as much today as we did back then.
    I’m sorry to keep on disagreeing with you about this next bit but no one has lied to me at all. I absolutely agree with you that a belief in Christ is not contingent upon a belief in Genesis 1 – 11 as history. Whoever told you it was, was lying to you. Even Answers in Genesis do not say that although opponents often lie and say that they do.
    The issue with Genesis being history is an issue of the authority of God’s word. It is definitely not a salvation issue.
    Theistic evolutionists would have you believe it is a salvation issue and they are wrong. But IMHO they are also wrong to say that God created through the evolution process.
    Having said that we then have to understand what we mean by evolution because the goal posts move according to the points at issue.
    If we talk about mankind’s origins then molecules to man evolution is quite clearly wrong. If we are discussing how plants and animals adapt to a changing environment and “evolve” in that way then yes we agree.

  • The issue with Genesis being history is an issue of the authority of God’s word.

    No. It’s not.

    From desert cliff and mountaintop we trace the wide design,
    Strike-slip fault and overthrust and syn and anticline. . .
    We gaze upon creation where erosion makes it known,
    And count the countless aeons in the banding of the stone.
    Odd, long-vanished creatures and their tracks & shells are found;
    Where truth has left its sketches on the slate below the ground.
    The patient stone can speak, if we but listen when it talks.
    Humans wrote the Bible; God wrote the rocks.

    There are those who name the stars, who watch the sky by night,
    Seeking out the darkest place, to better see the light.
    Long ago, when torture broke the remnant of his will,
    Galileo recanted, but the Earth is moving still.
    High above the mountaintops, where only distance bars,
    The truth has left its footprints in the dust between the stars.
    We may watch and study or may shudder and deny,
    Humans wrote the Bible; God wrote the sky.

    By stem and root and branch we trace, by feather, fang and fur,
    How the living things that are descend from things that were.
    The moss, the kelp, the zebrafish, the very mice and flies,
    These tiny, humble, wordless things—how shall they tell us lies?
    We are kin to beasts; no other answer can we bring.
    The truth has left its fingerprints on every living thing.
    Remember, should you have to choose between them in the strife,
    Humans wrote the Bible; God wrote life.

    And we who listen to the stars, or walk the dusty grade,
    Or break the very atoms down to see how they are made,
    Or study cells, or living things, seek truth with open hand.
    The profoundest act of worship is to try to understand.
    Deep in flower and in flesh, in star and soil and seed,
    The truth has left its living word for anyone to read.
    So turn and look where best you think the story is unfurled.
    Humans wrote the Bible; God wrote the world.

  • You’re conflating “this is a profound experience for me” with “and therefore not at all like anything anyone else has by the same name.”

    This is a sign of living in an evangelical bubble. It’s a state of externally imposed, eventually internalized social isolation, wherein one is taught to perceive the world through a filter which allows in only that which affirms what the person inside already believes. You’ll know it for what it is by the feeling of cognitive dissonance as you try to force an idea to make sense with what you were taught when it doesn’t conform to what you’ve been told is the truth.

    In this case, you’re looking at what you consider a religion and trying to make it seem less significant compared to your beliefs, when, in fact, they are the exact same thing. You don’t think the Jews feel they have a relationship with God? You don’t think Muslims feel they have a relationship with God?

    Before trying to doublespeak through this, self-analyze that feeling. You’re looking at people whose experiences are identical to your own and trying to make them different, make them Other, to uphold the virtues of your own faith as somehow unique and therefore superior.

    It’s going to pop some day. Better sooner than later, so that you can get on with a real relationship with God instead of a proxy relationship that was established by others and handed to you only when you were deemed well enough indoctrinated not to question it.

  • Alanlionheart

    It is certainly a great account of God’s love in action. If my memory is correct He gave the people several hundred years to repent before finally destroying them.

    But the fact remains that there are about 10 historical accounts throughout Genesis all beginning with “This is the account of” starting with Adam and going right through Genesis 37 talking about Jacob.
    To say that the first part of Genesis is parable and the rest history just doesn’t make logical sense.
    And with respect I think you have made one other mistake and that is assuming that the Ark was designed to hold ALL the animals of the world. That would indeed be an impossibility and the text doesn’t actually say that. It talks about animals “after their kind” so they are representative example of the animal kingdom from which we get all our different species now. But never has there been a dog (for example) evolving into an elephant. A dog has always been a dog.
    As to the laws of physics, I am not a physicist so can’t comment other that to suggest that you are making another assumption that the environment pre global flood was the same post flood.
    I think a clear reading of the text demonstrates it wasn’t but reading into the text more than that is presumptuous I think

  • Alanlionheart

    I’ve answered this in an earlier post a few minutes ago
    BTW I am not saying that Christians who say differently are wrong at all. I personally don’t know any that disagree with me but then the Christian world is a pretty big place and I respect their opinions

  • Is there some way I could help you get around this while you’re at work? I could send you the full text of replies through e-mail or something, if you’re impatient to see their contents. I’ve got an e-mail set up purely for slacktivist and blog interaction that we could use for correspondence.

  • Alanlionheart

    I’m sorry but I think I may have missed it somewhere along the line. I wouldn’t dare ignore you :)
    On the other hand we do seem to disagree about to so much. I’ve never had my curiosity stifled. However I do AGREE (!!) that it has got me into trouble from time to time but God is good and we have all got over it

  • EllieMurasaki

    I appreciate the offer, but no thank you. Waiting a few hours won’t actually hurt me any.

  • You’re not being intellectually honest here. You just said “belief in Genesis is not contingent upon belief in Genesis,” but just a couple days ago, you were arguing that if Genesis were wrong, then that challenges God’s authority and therefore the entire premise of Christianity. You argued this to the point of refusing to accept the simple explanation that Genesis could be a parable intended to teach people about mankind’s early relationship with God. You said that if it were not historically true, then it would be “just a fairy tale” and of no more value than Cinderella.

    This is cognitive dissonance.