No, God Does NOT Despise Anyone

No, God Does NOT Despise Anyone April 4, 2019

It’s hard to believe that I would even need to post an article to make this point to anyone, especially to other Christians. But, apparently, there are many who actually do believe that God hates the wicked and despises sinners.

Who? You ask. Well, people like pastor, author and Bible teacher R.C. Sproul, for example.

Try to watch this clip below without throwing up. [It wasn’t easy for me].

So, just to summarize:

*There’s nothing more dangerous than preaching that God loves people unconditionally.

*People who hear this message of unconditional love may come to believe that God’s love for them isn’t dependent upon their repentance of sin.

*Mister Roger’s Neighborhood is better than the Kingdom of God.

*God loves Christ and then only those who are in Christ [Christians].

*God abhors [detests] the wicked [Psalm 11:5]

*God doesn’t send the sin to hell, He sends the sinner to hell.

*God is angry every day against the wicked [according to the “Biblical Character of God”]

*Every sinner is exposed to the rage and fury of God every second of every day. [See Romans 1:18]

*We shouldn’t “take the terror out of it [the Gospel]” [See 2 Cor. 5:11]

*The sinner needs to be terrified about his condition.

*To bring our nation into righteousness our preaching must dramatically change [to this message of fear/terror].

Got all that?

Where to begin? Well, for one I’d start with Jesus who never told us that God hates the wicked, and who told us that if we’ve seen Him we’ve seen the Father. So, what do we see when we look at Jesus? We see a God who loves sinners and embraces the unrighteous, and shows great compassion on the unwashed and the unholy.

We also read in the New Covenant scriptures that God so loved the world that He gave us Jesus: to show us this love, to demonstrate this love, and to teach us to love others in the same way.

How does Jesus respond to the sinners who nailed him to a cross? He prayed for their forgiveness even as they were in the act of murdering him.

How does Jesus respond when he rises from the dead and returns to face those who crucified him? He breathes “Peace” upon them and reminds them to follow his example of love.

Next, I’d look at the Apostles. Because, if it is so important and vital to preach the terror of God, and to emphasize the wrath and fury of God before we share the “Good News”, then why is it we never – not once – see any of the Apostles preaching about wrath, or fire, or condemnation, or fear?

For example, there are around 6 different sermons preached in the book of the Acts of the Apostles and guess how many of them include references to hell, fire, fear, anger, wrath or fury? [Go ahead, guess].

None of them.

Not a single one.

In fact, what we see is that Paul speaks to idol-worshiping pagans in Athens and affirms these truths to them:

*They are the children of God

*God loves them and showers them with blessings so that they might turn to Him

*They are already in God and are sustained by God no matter what they do

*God wants them to reconsider this information and turn to God

*God will judge the world in righteousness through Jesus Christ, whom He raised from the dead

Now, I get it: That phrase “Judge the world” is in there, so that must be the “fear” and the “wrath” part, right?

Well, if so, it doesn’t seem to have created much fear in his listeners. In fact, the only reaction to any of this is related to his statement about the resurrection from the dead, not to the world being judged in righteousness.

Paul doesn’t mention sin, or hell, or eternal conscious torment. He mentions a God who created us, cares for us, wants us to turn to Him, and who sustains us in every way – regardless of our condition towards Him.

That…sorta seems like…unconditional love….doesn’t it?

[And yes, Paul does mention the word “repent” in his sermon to the Athenians, but that word in the Greek is literally about re-thinking our position, not about being sorry for our sins].

As long as we’re talking about Paul’s message, let’s look a little further to see what he has to say about things like sins and judgement.

“…in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” [2 Cor. 5:19]

What is our message? That God, in Christ, reconciled the world to Himself.

What does God want us to tell people when it comes to their sins? That God does NOT count their sins against them.

What is the message God has entrusted to us? The message of reconciliation [not fear, wrath, fury and conditional love].

How is that R.C. Sproul, and his friend John MacArthur, [and many others], get this so wrong? Aren’t they quoting scriptures to prove their point?

Yes, and that’s really the problem. It’s too easy to quote 2 Cor. 5:11 where Paul refers to “the fear of the Lord” as a motivation to preach the “Bad News” Gospel, and then totally ignore 2 Cor. 5:19 [just a few verses later] where Paul says that God doesn’t count anyone’s sins against them anymore and that we should carry the message of reconciliation, not fear.

In other words: They only see what they want to see. And, unfortunately, what they want to see is a God who is angry and full of wrath and fury; a God who hates and detests and abhors the wicked.

Why, I wonder, don’t they want to see a God that looks like Jesus? Why do they want to ignore a God who forgives sins before anyone even asks for forgiveness or thinks to repent? Why do they want to emphasize the Bad News rather than fully embrace the Good News [which is better by far than they can even imagine at this point]?

I think it boils down to this: You either believe in a God who looks like Jesus, or you don’t.

Some say they do, but in practice the God they believe in looks a lot more like King David who longs to dash the infants of his enemies against the rocks, or like Moses who wanted the Israelites to slaughter toddlers and split open the bellies of pregnant mothers, and kill every living thing without showing any mercy.

That is not the God who we see if we have seen Jesus clearly.

An insistence upon a flat Bible perspective is what leads us to this schizophrenic God who is both a blood-thirsty, angry, despiser of the wicked, and at the same time a God who is love and who looks exactly like Jesus.

We cannot have it both ways.

And the Good News is, we don’t need to. Jesus has come to reveal the Father to us! We can now see who God is and what God is like: God is merciful. God is forgiving. God does not count our sins against us. God keeps no record of wrongs. God is love. God does not hold this love over us and dangle it like a piece of candy that we can only receive when we jump through the hoops.

If you have children, you understand this implicitly. Your love for your children isn’t based on what they do, or fail to do. Even if they did something horrible, or even evil, you would still love them even if your heart was breaking for what they had done.

If we can love our children this way, how much more can our perfect “Abba” Father God – who IS love – love us?

If anything, I believe our message should be to everyone – sinner and saints alike – something like this: “Rejoice! You are so loved by God! Your sins are forgiven! They are forever washed away! Come, get to know this God whose love for you is wider, higher, longer and deeper than you could ever imagine! You won’t regret spending the rest of your life discovering the endless love of God for you.”

That, my friends, is the Good News. And that’s what I wish we could all join together to believe, and to proclaim boldly.

**

Keith Giles was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church 11 years ago, to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. Today, He and his wife live in Meridian, Idaho, awaiting their next adventure.

His new book “Jesus Unbound: Liberating the Word of God from the Bible”, is available now on Amazon and features a Foreword by author Brian Zahnd.

He is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb” with a Foreword by Greg Boyd.

Keith also co-hosts the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. 

BONUS: Want to unlock exclusive content including blog articles, short stories, music, podcasts, videos and more? Visit my Patreon page.

 

 

 

 

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  • Robert Pritchett

    In response to Keith Giles’ “God Does Not Despise Anyone”: I am a Methodist, and I’ve been staff musician (pianist) in a PCA church for almost 30 years. It is not easy for me to listen to sermons in which I hear that God has created some people for the express purpose of sending them to hell! I attend my Methodist church service at 8:30 AM and then I play for the 11:00 AM CPC service each Sunday. So you might say I have dessert first and then have to eat liver, which I detest! A few years ago R.C. Sproul, Jr. spoke at the church. He said women should not be allowed to vote on church issues because wives’ votes might cancel husbands’ votes! Only one vote per family should be allowed and this should come from the head of the household, the man! I stay only because they pay me extremely well. The income provides money to give to my church where the teachings of Jesus are practiced. We actually take care of the poor among other things! My pastor’s weekly benediction includes this: “Bear witness to the love of Christ so that any stranger you meet will find in you a generous friend.” At my church we hear the Good News and then depart to show the love of Jesus to our community and world. The PCA has NO outreach. It’s all about Calvinistic theology. As a blogger recently wrote: “Calvinism makes me want to gouge my eyes out.” Arrgghhh!!!

  • J & S VanHemert

    Thank you Keith! I appreciate your ability to counter the hyper-Calvinist view of God as a wrathful and hateful being. This type of creed preached by Sproul is toxic.

  • KontraDiction

    I love this! So many people are eager to drop Bible verses to endorse their own personal hatreds. And you’re right, the Old Testament is so full of wrath and murder, it might as well be about a different deity. But this simple message, God is love, sums up everything.

    Also, Fred Rogers is one of the most loving, peaceful, gentle men I have ever heard of, and my personal hero. If Jesus is anything like Mister Rogers, I will follow him all my life.

  • soter phile

    Almost every article, Keith – you seem to live for false dichotomies.

    Yes, God is love.
    No, love is not cheap grace.

    You criticize Sproul for almost verbatim quoting Scripture, then fall directly into Marcionite caricatures about the OT & NT divide – as if Jesus didn’t say the whole OT is pointing to him.

    The only thing schizophrenic here is your “I like this but not that” approach to God’s Word.

  • soter phile

    you said: …the Old Testament is so full of wrath and murder, it might as well be about a different deity…

    Jesus affirmed every pen stroke of the OT (Mt.5:17f).
    He said it all pointed to him (Jn.5:39-40; Lk.24:27,44).
    No one in the NT quotes the OT more than Jesus – he even quotes Ps.22 as he’s dying on the cross.

    If you’ve thrown out the ‘god of the OT’, you’ve thrown Jesus out as well, since he claims to be that God.
    Is it possible what you mean by ‘love’ is something less than what Jesus means?

  • soter phile

    You don’t seem to know what hyper-Calvinism means (e.g., no need to evangelize because of election).
    Sproul is an ardent proponent of evangelism – and that God is loving.

    Some might say purposefully misrepresenting those with whom you disagree is toxic.

  • Chuck Johnson

    The only thing schizophrenic here is your “I like this but not that” approach to God’s Word.

    “I like this but not that” is standard operating procedure when it comes to making use of Biblical information.
    You do it too, soter, as do both Keith Giles and Pastor Sproul.

    Then the selected Biblical advice is promoted as the word of God or the intentions of God.
    It’ putting the rubber stamp of God onto your own philosophies.

    I do it too, but I am an atheist.
    I know the Bible stories to be just stories which were written by ancient people and then handed down to us.

    The problems come when a person want to represent his own morality as being divine, perfect or eternal.
    As religionists often will do.

  • soter phile

    a) no, ‘pick & choose’ is not the intended methodology of conservatives. that’s definitively ‘progressive.’ you can levy that critique in practice (and have some warrant), but it’s disingenuous to claim it is the espoused operating procedure.

    case in point, you rarely hear a call to repent in a progressive church (other than aimed at conservatives). but since it was a theme of Jesus’ teaching, you will hear biblical conservatives calling each other to repent often – even when it’s uncomfortable.

    b) ironically here, you want to privilege your particular metaphysical convictions over mine. you are doing the very sort of thing you claim I should not do. it’s self-refuting.

  • Chuck Johnson

    “no, ‘pick & choose’ is not the intended methodology of conservatives.”

    And I am sure that you and your fellow conservatives will congratulate yourselves for following the Bible “as intended”.
    But “as intended” is impossible.
    You follow what the Bible teaches as you perceive it.
    The progressives follow what the Bible teaches as they perceive it.

    If you want to take an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, you will do that. But if you are in the mood to turn the other cheek, then that’s what you will do,

    And you will know with great confidence that you are correct in doing this since it is God’s law.

    You are ventriloquist and God is your dummy.

  • Chuck Johnson

    b) ironically here, you want to privilege your particular metaphysical convictions over mine. you are doing the very sort of thing you claim I should not do. it’s self-refuting.

    No, my convictions are non-metaphysical or anti-metaphysical.
    As an atheist and a scientist, I see the entire universe as being devoid of magic, voodoo or miracles. These things are ideas only and they have no physical form, substance or effect other than the effects of ideas.

    I see the universe as consisting only of physical things.
    Even human ideas consist of matter and energy.

    My perceptions of Biblical stories is that they are merely stories told by humans long ago.

    So my convictions are privileged by the fact that no hypocrisy is involved in my Biblical understandings.
    Hypocrisy enters Bible interpretations every time that the Bible is asserted to be a perfect and eternal source of human knowledge, wisdom and morality. – – – That’s the vanity of Christians.

  • Steven Waling

    You have no understanding of the concept of ‘cheap grace,’

  • KontraDiction

    Soter phile, you are correct, I am throwing out a great deal that you would likely prefer to keep. I personally believe Jesus was an extraordinary teacher, but not God. That the Bible is mostly wisdom-as-story rather than literal truth. And that Jesus (and many others) understood love in such a radically transcendent way that inspires us even today to follow them, and as best we can, to embody that love for each other.

  • jekylldoc

    I wish I could get excited about hermeneutic. I am much more concerned about what I show of Jesus than about what arguments are put forward about God by people anxious to get every jot and tittle correct.

  • ashpenaz

    Sproul’s God isn’t even the Old Testament God–in the OT, God’s wrath is about restoration and purification. Yes, He gets very angry, but only to wake people up and turn them around. All the prophets point toward eventual restoration.

  • Ken Allen

    “As an atheist and a scientist, I see the entire universe as being devoid of magic, voodoo or miracles.” This is a form of the hasty generalization logical fallacy. You are inferring that all scientists deny the existence of the metaphysical, but this is not true. The truth is, you don’t believe that a metaphysical realm exists because you have chosen that option. It has nothing to do with science since some scientists do believe in such a realm.

  • Chuck Johnson

    If you want to know if I claim that all scientists deny the existence of the metaphysical, then ask me.

    Telling me (as you have done here) is dishonest.

  • Rudy Schellekens

    “Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

    Condemnation is definitely part of the Godhead. John makes it as simple as, “If you do not believe (trust, conjoined with obedience) in Him, you are condemned. Nothing else matters. If you do not believe, “Trust, conjoined with obedience), you will not live as one who imitates God. Simple as that. The bad things done in life? Of course these happen when you do not imitate God.

    “Judgment” is used 22 times throughout the Gospels, mostly by Jesus – and not in a good sense, either!

    Judgment is part of the proclamation of Paul (Acts 24).

    Judgment is used throughout the writings of Paul, either as “a decision made” or condemnation against… for…

    Judgment is the ultimate expectation of all after this life

    Judgment is for the things we have done while in the body

    Peter writes extensively about judgment

    And of course, Revelation is about nothing BUT judgment on those who persecute the people of God.

    Judgment is for for both those who walk with God and those who do not. The outcome will definitely be different. But like it or not, Judgment and things despised by God are definitely in the Book, from front to back…

  • Ken Allen

    Its not dishonest, its corrective. Your claim is embedded in; “As an atheist and a scientist, I see the entire universe as being devoid of magic, voodoo or miracles.” I don’t need to ask, you have already made the claim because of your logical fallacy. I would hope that this would be a learning experience for you.

  • Chuck Johnson

    “I don’t need to ask, you have already made the claim because of your logical fallacy.”

    You are lying.

  • R/R 2016

    I would argue that there is no statement made of or about Jesus, whether by word or by action, without a hermeneutic.

  • jekylldoc

    I expect I agree with that. On the other hand, a “fuzzy hermeneutic”, not sharply focused enough to resolve minor matters, works very well for witness by actions. I have been hugely inspired by insights developed by those invested in hermeneutical purity and precision, but in the end it was the way the inspiration bore fruit in experience that made it important to me.
    Two simple examples from the Progressive side (I have also been wonderfully inspired by some insights from the evangelical side):
    – Penal Substitutiary Atonement downgrades resurrection to an add-on, a side issue to the plan of salvation, by contrast with what the early disciples seem to have preached;
    – “Jesus is Lord” was a political statement fully conscious of his execution by Roman authorities.
    The first moves transformation back to the center of the concept of salvation, where it was for Paul. Action follows, most especially action based on reconciliation. The second puts moral truth back at the center of real power on earth, in full defiance of the principalities and powers. And that is a great antidote, at least in my life, to cheap grace.

  • R/R 2016

    I’m interested to know what qualifies these insights, of which I’ve gleaned from reading Aulen, Yoder, and others during my divinity studies, as big-P Progressive.

  • Mark Dohle

    God’s love is beyond comprehension. We cling to a God of wrath (in the human sense of the word) because we understand that, even if fearful. It is like worshiping Zeus I guess. I do believe that hell is a reality, but how God looks at the soul and judges is different than ours. We are told not to judge others, in is in fact a form of self judgment.

    We need to show how Christ Jesus lives in our hearts by showing respect, speaking truth, and then hoping in God’s mercy and love. If anyone goes to hell, it is a choice, not an accident of birth, or being in the wrong religion. Jesus is the Word, the creator, we cannot reduce him to being just one of us.

    Peace
    Mark

  • jekylldoc

    Well, I am hardly an expert on where they came from, but I find evangelicals wedded to a doctrine of Penal Substitutiary Atonement as if their soul depended on it, which is kind of pitiful, and to a resistance to any political interpretation of the culture of the early church. I don’t know why they do that. It wasn’t until I read progressives, like Crossan and Borg, and like Henri Nouwen, that I encountered them.

  • R/R 2016

    Common, convenient, and wrong. My suggestion is to broaden your definition of evangelical. And your reading list. Would you like a list of exceptions?

  • jekylldoc

    Well, I appreciate your effort to broaden my horizons, but I don’t think I will take the time to read exceptions. I will make an effort not to stereotype evangelical doctrine. Certainly I have found work by Yoder to be uncorrelated with the stereotypes.

  • R/R 2016

    That’s fair. Have a nice day, jekylldoc.

  • hermeneutic/another wierd word MHO. It stimulates my already over-active imagination/ puts me in an enchanted state seeing in my mind an unfortunate guy named Herman w/a case of Hirsutism. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2cba8332db74f35da817dc77229d3c30a4930b2ce2013dd0764cf6f5848f9c8c.jpg

  • jekylldoc

    Might have played for Herman’s Hermits? Tambourine, at least?

  • holydooly

    And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven……but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. Matthew 12:31–32.
    It is amazing how all you warm inner glow Christians like to ignore this passage- reiterated in the other Synoptics. You should all be asking – then what the hell is ‘a sin against the holy spirit’? And the answer is equally obvious to anyone who reads the gospels without Paul’s rose tinted faith lenses. It is a sin of remorseless and callous indifference to human suffering, such as evident in the religious elites who orchestrated Christ’s torture and death.

  • Susan Granade

    Smug obsession with the “sins” of others–and what are these sins anyway?–seems sinful. Sin, to me, includes being angry and judgmental about others’ “wrong” thinking and weakness.

  • Chris Griffin

    Actually this controversy is easily solved by reading Psalm 15, verse 4 which says that one of the requirements to attain Heaven is that we must despise vile people. Since we must despise vile people then God also must despise vile people…

    1 Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
    Who may live on your holy mountain?

    2 The one whose walk is blameless,
    who does what is righteous,
    who speaks the truth from their heart;
    3 whose tongue utters no slander,
    who does no wrong to a neighbor,
    and casts no slur on others;
    4 who despises a vile person

  • soter phile

    Silly Jesus… worried about every jot & tittle… (Mt.5:17-21)

  • soter phile

    You seem to like baseless claims.

    Just as the Religious Right is prone to fear-mongering, the Left is prone to antinomianism.
    A god of cheap grace does ‘despise’ anything… even when its child runs willfully out into traffic.

    That is not love.
    Love necessarily includes a settled opposition to anything that would destroy its beloved.

    God loves us enough to say ‘no’ (Heb.12:5f).
    That’s a biblical theme… & a concept basically lacking in progressive churches.

  • soter phile

    It is precisely your faith in science which Nietzsche directly calls metaphysical:

    Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as science ‘without any presuppositions’; this thought does not bear thinking through, it is paralogical: a philosophy, a ‘faith,’ must always be there first of all, so that science can acquire from it that direction, a meaning, a limit, a method, a right to exist. … The truthful man, in the audacious and ultimate sense presupposed by the faith in science, thereby affirms another world than that of life, nature, and history; and insofar as he affirms this ‘other world,’ does this not meant that he has to deny its antithesis, this world, our world? … It is still a metaphysical faith that underlies our faith in science.

    Again, you want to privilege your metaphysical convictions over mine – while claiming you have none. The result is not only self-refuting, but the failure to be aware of your own metaphysical bases leads to an overt-double standard. The more you call others (whether theists or Christians specifically) hypocrites for having such convictions, the more ironic it becomes.

  • soter phile

    a) i chose the word ‘intended’ purposefully – to admit (as all Christians ostensibly do) that we often fail and need a Savior. however, even among secularists, i do believe “to err is human” is a common phrase. that’s not a debate between perceived and intended. that’s simply a functional human experience, which we all share.

    b) the bible “as intended”
    NB: here you have equivocated… moving from conservatives ‘intent’ to authorial ‘intent’ – something that ALL literary scholars recognize has intrinsic value

    you said: the Bible “as intended” is impossible
    here you actually get (unintentionally?) closer to what biblical conservatives are saying. YES! anyone who says they perfectly follow Jesus’ ethical teachings is delusional. it is impossible – and intentionally so! even a cursory reading of the Sermon on the Mount should make that evident. Jesus is raising the bar of all the OT laws by moving to the underlying motivational problem of the heart. does anyone really love that deeply?!

    Jesus’ answer: only God. we need Him. our best efforts still fall short.
    Jesus did not come to teach us how to be better human beings. That assumes we could.
    Jesus did not come to make us better at all – but to make us new. He came to raise the dead.

    No wonder you have rejected this ‘god’ you perceive in the Bible. Yes, such a god would be merely a ventriloquist – a self-projection (as Feuerbach’s critique famously said). But that is NOT the God of the Bible – that is not Jesus – who says to the Sadducees (who don’t believe in a literal resurrection): isn’t the reason you are mistaken is because you don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God? … No, you are quite mistaken. He is not God of the dead, but of the living.

    Jesus is not a foil for conservatives or liberals to manipulate. He calls them both out.
    Just as he does secularists like Herod.

  • soter phile

    extraordinary teacher? do you realize all of his teaching pointed to himself? he was incredibly megalomaniacal. if one merely accepts his ‘ethical teaching’, the problem is that he inextricably links it to his claims to be the center of existence – like Mason, Koresh or the like.

    If Jesus is not who he said he is, then the NT should be thrown aside as evil – not read as a book of morals taught by a liar.

    I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. . . . Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.

    – CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

  • Chuck Johnson

    Jesus did not come to teach us how to be better human beings. That assumes we could.

    This philosophy of yours is quite defeatist.
    It sells short the power of the Jesus stories.

    The Jesus stories are a part of cultural adaptive evolution.
    The Darwin-Wallace discovery is a part of cultural adaptive evolution.

    The ongoing processes of cultural adaptive evolution helps to make us better human beings.
    This runs counter to your defeatist philosophy.

  • Chuck Johnson

    The components of science have been in the making for billions of years on planet Earth.

    Animals on Earth developed neurons and then brains.
    The human brain is the seat of the mind.
    The mind creates and manages the human ideas.

    The entire process has proceeded for billions of years with no magic, metaphysical or divine direction.

    The Darwin-Wallace discovery shows us how all biological things, (including the things that you claim to be metaphysical) come into existence through natural processes. Through the natural functioning of matter and energy.

    I am a scientist.
    I see your magic-infused view of the origins of things, and I recognize your view to be false.

    Science keeps showing us over and over that the miraculous and divine views are incorrect and that the naturalistic views explain things better, with no magic being needed.

  • rationalobservations?

    There is no authentic and original historical evidence of the existence of Jesus.

    Myths and legends written centuries after the time in which the fictional tales of Jesus are merely set are evidence of human imagination and duplicity.
    You cannot validate myths and legends exclusively by quoting myths and legends.

  • KontraDiction

    I disagree. The parables he taught with, which seem to be the most authentic representation of his teachings, always point to the love of God, never to himself. It was Paul who changed all that, claiming that Jesus was God. CS Lewis leaves out this third option: Jesus was neither lying nor a lunatic, but just didn’t say what the Bible says he did. You have to remember, these teachings were not written down for at least a generation or two after Jesus’s death. Many of the original Christian communities were wiped out by Constantine. And the Bible was brought together as one book around, what, year 400? Plenty of time for the message to get altered, and that is what I believe happened, based on historical research.

  • jekylldoc

    So you keep every one of the laws? Tithe mint, and dill, and cumin do you? How’s that working out for you? Helping you understand the needs of others, is it?

  • soter phile

    If the law were designed for self-righteousness, yes, that would be a huge problem. But as Paul said, it was a ‘schoolmaster’ to drive me to see my need of Christ. So it’s working out wonderfully, thank you. And then – the call to sanctification, one that arises not out of self-righteous works, but from grace.

    I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me. (Gal.2:20)

  • soter phile

    1) if you can’t hear a critique from a fellow atheist, from whom will you hear the critique?

    NB: Nietzsche is calling out materialists (like yourself for conflating naturalism with science). Even you ‘defense’ of yourself here only further confirms his critique is accurate.

    And also note: Nietzsche rightly notes that science (when not conflated with the metaphysics of philosophical naturalism) has no ‘direction’, and must derive it from one’s underlying grid. it’s a tool – the tool of human observation – which you’ve elevated to a philosophy (apparently unwittingly)… something it was never intended to be.

    That’s Nietzsche’s critique. And it’s not his alone. Many pointed out the same basic philosophical problems with Hawking’s Grand Design. One can be a genius physicist and still make completely elementary philosophical mistakes.

    2) as a scientist, you may recall early on, when learning the fundamentals of scientific inquiry, that science employs methodological naturalism (i.e., operating ‘as if’ there is nothing but nature, without asserting that is the case) – carefully avoiding philosophical naturalism (which directly asserts the metaphysical claim there is only the material universe, as you do – a notably unprovable scientific claim).

    if you are a scientist only, why are you conflating the two? science very carefully avoids what you are doing here – claiming there is nothing but the material universe. again, science cannot speak to metaphysics, ethics (science cannot define good/evil), or even the miraculous – since all of those categories require asserting metaphysical claims… something science takes great pains to avoid.

    SUM: you have conflated science with naturalism.

  • soter phile

    exactly. that’s naturalism, not science. precisely Nietzsche’s point.

  • soter phile

    you said: The Jesus stories are a part of cultural adaptive evolution.
    This line of argument is self-defeating. For example, that necessarily means one could say your understanding of evolution is merely part of the evolutionary adaptive – meaning it is quite possibly as equally untrue as you perceive religion to be. In other words, as long as it serves the goal of survival, truth is an unnecessary foil (for both scientific perception and religion).

    your desire to explain away religion through this logic equally explains away ALL knowledge.

    as for being defeatist – no, you’ve missed the central point of Jesus’ teaching. the Sermon on the Mount is impossible for anyone willing to try honestly to do it. it exposes our need for a Savior; it’s not a self-help technique (unlike other religious ‘wisdom’).

    it’s only “defeatist” for those under the delusion that they are good enough. yes, Christianity is for those who begin by admitting they need a Savior. victory comes through the defeat of one’s pride that “i can be my own deliverer.”

  • Chuck Johnson

    you said: The Jesus stories are a part of cultural adaptive evolution.
    This line of argument is self-defeating. For example, that necessarily means one could say your understanding of evolution is merely part of the evolutionary adaptive – meaning it is quite possibly as equally untrue as you perceive religion to be.

    Evolution (as scientists understand it) is true by empirical observation.
    Scientists do not merely theorize and debate. We use empirical scientific techniques to discover what is true and what is false.

    When empiricism is employed, we obtain the opinion of the universe, not merely human conjecture. This is one of the reasons that science is so successful in getting results.

    The evolutionary adaptive has shown itself to reveal truth in an ongoing and progressive way. Today’s information and understanding is better than earlier information and understandings.

    Here is Isaac Asimov’s description of the progressive revelation of truth that science achieves:

    https://chem.tufts.edu/answersinscience/relativityofwrong.htm

  • Chuck Johnson

    In other words, as long as it serves the goal of survival, truth is an unnecessary foil (for both scientific perception and religion).

    For temporary or narrowly-defined ad hoc goals, disregarding the truth can be done, and some success can be achieved with lies.

    In the cases of the rape of children by priests, lies, threats and cover-ups were a successful way to deflect shame and maintain the power and respectable appearance of the Catholic church.

    In the short term, in science or religion, lies, ignorance and falsehoods can be used to advantage. In the long run, however, the truth is what produces real and substantial advantages for science, for religion and for the human race.

  • Chuck Johnson

    the Sermon on the Mount is impossible for anyone willing to try honestly to do it. it exposes our need for a Savior; it’s not a self-help technique (unlike other religious ‘wisdom’).

    The sermon On The Mount is full of advice and philosophy.
    Some of this is good advice.

    I can follow this advice, you can and anyone can follow it to some degree.
    No one can follow it perfectly.

    But the fact that no one can follow it perfectly has nothing to do with Jesus, salvation or any other supernatural teaching.

    This is because perfection is a concept that can not be achieved.
    Perfection is an exaggeration.
    This is true for all things, not just true for religious sermons.

    I am a scientist.
    Scientists know that perfection is just a thought, and is not achieved in the real world.

    But perfection is not necessary.
    Improvement without perfection gets the job done.
    Evolution involves making improvements without reaching a state of perfection.

  • Chuck Johnson

    SUM: you have conflated science with naturalism.

    Naturalism
    2.
    the philosophical belief that everything arises from natural properties and causes, and supernatural or spiritual explanations are excluded or discounted.

    An assumption of science is Naturalism, definition 2.

    We scientists discount or exclude supernatural or spiritual explanations as a way for us to understand our universe.

    However, this is not the same as excluding supernatural or spiritual explanations as subjects for scientific exploration.

    By this, I mean, that using the supernatural as a tool to explore phenomena has proven to be useless.

    On the other hand, using science to explore supernatural beliefs is a legitimate and useful way to learn more about human psychology, sociology, politics, etc.

    In other words, supernatural beliefs are a part of our natural world.
    All human thoughts are a part of our natural world.

    However, supernatural phenomena do not exist.
    Supernatural phenomena are ideas only, with no real-world referent.

  • Chuck Johnson

    if you are a scientist only, why are you conflating the two? science very carefully avoids what you are doing here – claiming there is nothing but the material universe. again, science cannot speak to metaphysics, ethics (science cannot define good/evil), or even the miraculous – since all of those categories require asserting metaphysical claims… something science takes great pains to avoid.

    Stephen Jay Gould has said this.
    He called it NOMA

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-overlapping_magisteria

    I consider this an example of Gould’s ignorance and dishonesty.

  • Chuck Johnson

    Many pointed out the same basic philosophical problems with Hawking’s Grand Design. One can be a genius physicist and still make completely elementary philosophical mistakes.

    I haven’t read Hawking’s Grand Design.
    I have seen him on Youtube videos and I have read some of the things that he has written.

    Hawking was a pseudo-scientist.
    He was a successful public entertainer, but his scientific pronouncements are ignorant and dishonest.

    As Hawking got older, his scientific understanding got worse and worse.

  • jekylldoc

    Sure, Jesus also pointed out that violating the law for purposes that make sense, for Godly purposes, makes sense. The sabbath is made for people, not people for the sabbath. I honestly don’t think the average evangelical “submission” to scripture is a good faith effort to do what Jesus would do, but that wasn’t my point at all. My point is that the use of scripture to direct other people is likely to be a matter of self-righteousness even if the wielder thinks it is a word of grace. I am much more concerned about whether I actually convey some of the love of Jesus.

  • soter phile

    Interesting that you don’t seem to think the love of Jesus entails submission to Scripture.

    No one in the Bible has a higher view of the Scriptures. He constantly quoted it – when he was being tempted by Satan (who also used Scripture), and even while dying on the cross.

    Yes, people can be jerks – conservative or progressive. But let’s not invoke anecdotal experiences to avoid Jesus’ call to holiness, which permeates his goal in giving grace.

    The goal of Christ’s grace is not merely rescuing us to remain ‘as we were’, but to utterly transform us, ever increasingly in his likeness (2 Cor.3:18).

    Or to be blunt: it’s not an either/or, but a both/and.
    Love without truth isn’t love. Truth without love isn’t truth.

  • soter phile

    you said: I can follow this advice, you can and anyone can follow it to some degree. No one can follow it perfectly.
    this is self-refuting. you can’t “follow” it while “failing” to follow it.
    And Jesus did follow it perfectly. That’s the whole point. There’s only one hero in the Bible.

    you said: This is because perfection is a concept that can not be achieved. Perfection is an exaggeration. This is true for all things, not just true for religious sermons. I am a scientist.
    a) this is not a scientific thought, but a metaphysical claim
    b) science makes no such claims – and notably cannot make such claims
    c) you are revealing yourself as a naturalist (which is not science, but often make the metaphysical leap to naturalism and calls it science)

    you said: But perfection is not necessary. Improvement without perfection gets the job done.
    these statements actively beg the question.
    unnecessary? by what standard? (cough, cough)
    “gets the job done”? to what goal? what purpose? how would one even define ‘perfection’?

    again, your metaphysical underwear is showing. the fact that you don’t seem to realize you are conflating science with naturalism only further demonstrates my point.

    science is not at odds with my faith. naturalism is. and naturalism is your faith.
    it is not a case of my faith colliding with science, but your faith colliding with mine.
    you have made a leap of faith – a notably unscientific one – while denouncing leaps of faith. again, that is self-refuting.

  • soter phile

    you said: some success can be achieved with lies.
    i don’t know which is more ironic here…
    a) that you read the greatest evils perpetrated by Christians through the lens of your ‘truth is a convenient tool when helpful’ to potentially justify those evils?
    b) that you deny the truth that their own faith directly calls out those things as injustices? and certainly that would not be called a ‘success’ if one merely allows Christianity the integrity of its own claims from within.

    no, truth is not a selectively invoked tool to gain occasional advantages for survival of the fittest.
    but again, since science has no means by which to appraise good & evil… and you (as a naturalist) are placing you faith in science… it’s unsurprising that you seem unable to delineate. would you make the same claims about genocide & other egregious events?

  • soter phile

    you said: Evolution (as scientists understand it) is true by empirical observation.
    Scientists do not merely theorize and debate.

    a) but scientists do theorize and debate. it’s an explicit part of the scientific process.
    b) but above you are appealing to social darwinism – which is NOT proven, especially if one is using empiricism as its basis.

    moreover, when you dismiss religion as a tool of cultural adaptation (making it merely foil for survival), you likewise raise the same problem for scientific inquiry. if truth is irrelevant for survival (as you are claiming for religion), why wouldn’t the same problem be true for scientific inquiry?

    you said: When empiricism is employed, we obtain the opinion of the universe, not merely human conjecture.
    a) again, you are conflating science with naturalism. science purposefully avoids philosophical naturalism; instead employing methodological naturalism (‘as if’ naturalism were true, without asserting that is the case). you make the leap science carefully avoids – and then claim that territory is science. it is not.

    b) the mantra of empiricism is equally problematic. not only is anything contingent on human observation inherently flawed (as humanity is), but the baseline claim of empiricism is overtly self-refuting. it says:
    only that which is empirically verifiable is true.
    note well: that statement itself is not empirically verifiable.

    bottom line:
    science is a tool. you have elevated it to a philosophy – and appear unable to see the difference.

    again, as Nietzsche said: it is still a metaphysical faith that underlies our faith in science.

  • soter phile

    a) every controversial teaching Paul gave can be found on the lips of Jesus.
    you can’t escape Jesus’ teaching by saying “Paul did it!”

    b) all of the parables point to him (they are all about the kingdom… who is the King he’s announcing?). and he directly claims (repeatedly) that the whole OT points to him (Jn.5:39-40; Lk.24:27,44; etc.). he forgives people who haven’t wronged him but others – something the Pharisees note only God could do. He repeatedly claims to be the “I Am” (YHWH). No, the Jesus of the Bible is incredibly megalomaniacal. Any other conception of Jesus is fabricated or self-projected.

    c) your “third option” amounts to another “Paul did it!” you want to blame the disciples. the problem for you: these are clearly the most well-attested, earliest records of Jesus. you have no other record to which you can point to say “see, Jesus wasn’t like that”. You are left instead to your own cultural predilections. As CS Lewis accurately pointed out in his essay “Fern Seeds & Elephants”, if his own critics fail to understand him, despite sharing the same time, culture, experiences, etc… how in the world do critics 2000 years removed think they have a better understanding of Jesus than those who shared so much with him?

    d) you claim these events weren’t written down for “a generation or two.”
    virtually no scholar denies Paul lived within the lifetime of Jesus, and wrote several of his writings within 20 years of his death.
    moreover, Richard Bauckham demonstrates the NT Gospels necessarily were all eyewitness accounts in his 500 page dive into the scholarship, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. if you are going to claim otherwise, you should at least read the evidence you are dismissing.

    e) your last few claims here about Constantine demonstrate a complete lack of awareness of NT studies, especially pre-Constantine. Here’s a list of articles dealing with several of your false assertions:
    https://www.michaeljkruger.com/the-complete-series-ten-basic-facts-about-the-nt-canon-that-every-christian-should-memorize/

    f) even your final statement (i.e., plenty of time for the message to get altered) fails to engage the reality that we actually have manuscripts and fragment from incredibly close to the proverbial horse’s mouth. your timeline is left wanting. the ‘telephone game’ analogy only works if you can’t go back to the originator to get clarification. because we have the manuscripts, we can.
    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/an-interview-with-daniel-b-wallace-on-the-new-testament-manuscripts/

  • soter phile

    Even Bart Ehrman – far and away the singularly most likely NT scholar to agree with your position (a self-proclaimed agnostic with atheistic inclinations) – directly contradicts your claims. Read his forward in Did Jesus Exist?

    To be clear, I disagree with almost everything else he says. I’m giving you someone most likely to agree with you – but who utterly refutes this utterly unfounded ‘internet wisdom’.

    As one lifelong myths expert said (Oxford & Cambridge scholar):

    I have been reading poems, romances, vision-literature, legends, myths all my life. I know what they are like. I know that not one of them is like this. Of this text there are only two possible views. Either this is reportage – though it may no doubt contain errors – pretty close up to the facts; nearly as close as Boswell. Or else, some unknown writer in the second century, without known predecessors, or successors, suddenly anticipated the whole technique of modern, novelistic, realistic narrative. If it is untrue, it must be narrative of that kind. The reader who doesn’t see this has simply not learned to read. I would recommend him to read Auerbach.

    – CS Lewis

  • jekylldoc

    You suggested that I don’t think the love of Jesus entails submission to scripture. That needs a lot of nuance. Mostly the two are not in conflict. Scripture is a rich source of guidance. Submission to it is often a deep spiritual practice. So I understand where people are coming from who treasure that approach. But I have often seen that principle taken too far, as indeed did the Pharisees who carefully tithed herbs.
    When the goal is to live more in holiness, myself, the Holy Spirit can provide a lot of guidance to see that such distortions don’t occur. When the goal is to enforce my ideas of holiness on others, e.g. getting them to stop putting toxic amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere, then that is a misguided effort and the Holy Spirit is likely to be excluded. Of course love needs truth, but truth is not a substitute for genuine loving relationship.

  • Chuck Johnson

    b) but above you are appealing to social Darwinism – which is NOT proven, especially if one is using empiricism as its basis.

    Cultural adaptive evolution is quite well documented and quite obviously true.

  • Chuck Johnson

    moreover, when you dismiss religion as a tool of cultural adaptation (making it merely foil for survival),

    For thousands of years, religion has been a tool of cultural adaptation.
    Tools for cultural adaptation (such as religions) increase the abilities of human societies to survive.

  • Chuck Johnson

    “(‘as if’ naturalism were true, without asserting that is the case). ”

    “As if naturalism is true” is pretty much the same idea as asserting that naturalism is true.

    Scientists are busy accomplishing important things.
    We leave the endless contention over trivialities to the philosophers and the religionists.

    Such endless contention is an entertainment and not a serious business.

  • Chuck Johnson

    only that which is empirically verifiable is true.

    Scientists use empiricism as a test to verify or disprove scientific ideas.

    You do, too as a religionist.
    Everyone uses empiricism to guide their thoughts and actions.
    Science has created many traditions which make the best use of evidence that the universe can provide.

    A religionist, on the other hand, might use an emotion as empirical evidence.
    Or they might use childhood indoctrination, or words written thousands of years ago in a holy book as empirical evidence.

    All of these things and more are the empirical evidence that religionists use to verify that their supernatural beings and events are really true.

    So it’s not a case of empirical science versus non-empirical religions.

    Rather, it’s science with high-quality empirical evidence versus religions with much lower-quality empirical evidence.

    For centuries, science has put put a big effort to learn the best methods of assuring that the evidence that we refer to is the best quality.

  • Chuck Johnson

    “science is a tool. you have elevated it to a philosophy”

    Science is a tool.
    The work of countless scientists over the centuries has elevated it so that it now is both a tool and a philosophy.

  • Chuck Johnson

    it is still a metaphysical faith that underlies our faith in science.

    I am not much impressed by Nietzsche’s confidence or lack of confidence in science.
    Apparently, Nietzsche was not much of a scientist.

    I am a scientist, and I know that in order to understand science, you need to understand science.
    Pretending that you understand science leads to false conclusions.

  • Chuck Johnson

    b) that you deny the truth that their own faith directly calls out those things as injustices? and certainly that would not be called a ‘success’ if one merely allows Christianity the integrity of its own claims from within.

    Yes, their faith and their politics does directly call out those things as injustices.

    And yes, their faith and their politics does lead those same people to trust in lies, coverups, and the threatening of children in order to achieve a continuing successful personal career and the continued success of the church.

    This is called hypocrisy.
    You sound like you have never heard of hypocrisy, Soter.

  • Chuck Johnson

    but again, since science has no means by which to appraise good & evil…

    Science has plenty of means to appraise good and evil.

    Good is furthering the survival and evolution of life on Earth (especially human life).

    Evil is the opposite of that.

  • Chuck Johnson

    this is self-refuting. you can’t “follow” it while “failing” to follow it.

    Here, you are showing yourself to be a philosophical extremist.
    Such philosophies tend to promote ignorance and evil.

    The expectation of perfection is a mark of ignorance and an urge towards hypocrisy.
    This is a shortcoming in many people’s religious philosophies.

  • Chuck Johnson

    You keep telling me all sorts of things concerning science.
    Your words have shown me that you are not a scientist.

    The science that you know is gossip, speculation and philosophizing.
    You would have a lot to learn before you could understand the topics that you pretend to understand.

    Somehow, you got the idea that understanding science is quick and easy.

  • rationalobservations?

    Still no reference to actual, tangible, authentic and original, 1st century originated evidence?

    Claiming that evidence exists or repeating lies of others that evidence exists is NOT the same as presenting evidence and revealing the location in which that authentic and original evidence is conserved and available for inspection.

    Bart Ehrman was a born again Bible-believing Evangelical until he read the original 4th century originated Greek bible texts and noticed all the thousands of discrepancies between the oldest 4th century fabricated bibles and those in circulation today..

    “The Bible we now use can’t be the inerrant word of God”, Ehrman says, “since what we have are the sometimes mistaken words copied by fallible scribes.”

    Ehrman adds: “When people ask me if the Bible is the word of God I answer ‘which Bible?‘”

    The Codex Sinaiticus – and other early manuscripts – omit many mentions of ascension of Jesus into heaven, and key references to the Resurrection, which the Archbishop of Canterbury and other christian leaders have said is essential for Christian belief.

    The codex also includes two whole books that were omitted from later versions and those we know today.

    Bart continues to make a living writing and speaking but has always known and sometimes admitted that there is no authentic and original, 1st century originated evidence of the existence and centuries later written and endlessly re-written exploits of “Jesus”.

    Many religionists are deluded by the C1600 year long mountain of propaganda that has piled up since the 4th century Roman “Jesus” based religion was so very brutally and murderously imposed upon the world.

    Your gullibility and ignorance has been conclusively established long ago. Your inability to justify, validate or excuse your delusions continues.

    Your C S Lewis quote reveals just how ignorant and naive that writer of fairy tales was since there is no major 2nd century text in existence that is entirely similar to the prototype NT bibles that first appeared in the late 4th century after the cult of “Jesus” had been brutally and murderously imposed upon the world earlier in that same 4th century.

    The evidence suggests that the confused and internally contradictory myths and legends of “Jesus” call upon so many earlier mythologies of men fathered by a god who worked miracles, was a savior of some humans and died to “rise again”.

    There is nothing unique or original within the cult of christianity.

  • KontraDiction

    Hi rational! Can you recommend further reading on the history of the earliest manuscripts, especially on the Codex Sinaiticus? I absolutely love this stuff! It’s like an ancient whodunnit mystery, trying to trace back to the source from all the branches. Thank you.

  • Carverelle

    The men you blast happen to hold to quite conventional views on the nature of God’s grace and judgment, views which the church has held to since its origins. If that upsets you then you ain’t seen nothing yet. In fact what these men have to say is comparatively tame. You really need to be looking for those who have gone well beyond what the church has traditionally held to. One happens to be the son of RC Sproul. The odd thing is RC Jr’s views on this have largely escaped criticism, but they really do need exposure. Let me suggest you pick up a copy of RC Sproul Jr’s Almighty Over All. I promise you it will get your blood boiling and you’ll probably want to do a book review of it. In it he says, “I am not accusing God of sinning; I am suggesting that He created sin.” But it get even much worse than that. RC Jr believes that the primary reason God created man is to have an object worthy of the “glory of his wrath.” Here’s some further examples. Sproul Jr’s book is heretical and even blasphemous. Even the most ardent Protestants would find it abhorrent… if they only knew of its contents.

  • Carverelle

    I sent an email to the Spinderella Sproul blog and they took me up on my recommendation to do a book review of Almighty Over All. Great title they chose too. RC Sproul Jr Accuses God Of Creating Sin, Weaponizes Calvinism