Rob Bell’s Christianity

Rob Bell

The world is changed…

The opening line of the epic films of The Lord of the Rings sounds in my mind.  The world that surrounds us has changed and encapsulated in time is the Church.  While it is easy to be critical of the Church-at-large, there remains an embedded truth in the tradition as it has been transmitted across time.

Within these changes sits the Church as it struggles to speak to people who are changing within our rapidly dynamic culture.  Yet within the heart of these changes and movements, one fact remains: truth of ancient times is still truth of our time.  When that truth is betrayed, what is left is fallacy.

Rob Bell and the Emergent Church

Perceiving a disconnect between the influence of the Church and the current culture, a group of church leaders began to have a conversation.  Through a number of manifestations in a very short period of time, the conversation continued and became to see three men as dominating: Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, and Rob Bell.  At the heart of these conversations was the desire to see the church and the expression of truth that it encapsulates, become a driving force in culture.  Their hope is for a world to be different in response to the truth that has been embedded within Christianity.

In Grand Rapids, Michigan, Rob Bell leads a church which, as even he acknowledges, appeals to Christians who have left other churches with disappointment and discouragement.  Bell’s strategy stands as of taking steps to be relevant to everyday culture in new and challenging ways. However it happened, Rob Bell became synonymous with Christian innovation.  Even locally I have witnessed at least a few congregations whose format, style, and even whose pastor’s appearance have obviously been influenced directly by Rob Bell’s work.

Why would an explosion of innovation and creativity be a problem?  The issue is not the changes to format and style, but the changes to the message itself.  Rob Bell overtly yet most often quite subtly takes dramatic steps away from the message of Jesus Christ and the Christian faith.  This video may be considered to be “The Gospel According to Rob Bell.”

(Though I have had thorough experience with his material, having read his books and watched his tour videos, I have restricted my comments to this video to help give context for discussion.)

The Good

No doubt this is an inspiring message.  There has been much criticism directed at the church-at-large regarding focus on “legalism” (which may defined as “theology apart from its practice”) and need for relevance in our culture.  Rob Bell has taken the step toward relevance, but has also wisely made an excellent observation: the church’s focus on legalism has caused a neglect of Christianity as a lifestyle.  In the video above he says that “the gospel was a whole new way of life…” for the first Christians.

Who does not want the world to be a better place?  For too long Christians have grown into a mentality that if the purpose of salvation is to secure a place in heaven, life becomes less of a mission and more a cosmic waiting room.  In the video Bell says, “Jesus is saving me from my sins… from my indifference to the world around me.”  Rob Bell’s message is that there is more to life than waiting, and instead the message of Christ challenges us to do what good we can with the time we have.  Rightfully Bell’s observation is confirmed by the activity of the early church and the emphasis on being known how they loved one another.

The Bad and the Ugly

However, it is deceitfully simplistic to claim that the gospel only concerns with doing good.  While Rob Bell’s message is challenging and encourages people to move toward positive impact on their world, it threatens not only superficial tenets but also shakes the foundation of Christianity itself.  As a sort of manifesto or culmination of the full meaning of the gospel as it would appear to be, Bell is missing some important points.

Early in the video he says that a group of Jews in the first century “insisted that their rabbi, a man named Jesus… had risen from the dead,” but he never says that this actually happened.  In fact throughout the video he uses words like “claimed” and “they said” rather than asserting that he believes that this is actually literally true.  Further, Bell uses the same language when he speaks about the similar stories of the gods Mithra and Attis.  To solidify the omission of belief in the resurrection, he asserts that “the claims of these first Christians weren’t anything new,” making the implication that he doubts the literal resurrection of Christ.

However, the basic and foundational nature of these missing components call into question the reliability and connection of this message and the message of Christ.  In an article appearing in the November 2004 issue of Christianity Today, Bell seems to have said just that:

This is not just the same old message with new methods. We’re rediscovering Christianity as an Eastern religion, as a way of life. Legal metaphors for faith don’t deliver a way of life. We grew up in churches where people knew the nine verses why we don’t speak in tongues, but had never experienced the overwhelming presence of God.

To supplant the message of the gospel and to avoid commitment to a literal resurrection, Bell uses these Eastern religious connections in forming this statement: “I see the Resurrection all around me.”  Rather than make any sort of claim of a literal resurrection from the dead, Bell uses the figurative resurrection and restates the truth, thus rewriting the core of the gospel message.  The only thing that is lacking to make a full embrace of Eastern faiths is the belief in reincarnation, and I am sure that he would argue for this as an acceptable translation of the Greek word that has been rendered “resurrection.”

As a cap to the entire issue, Rob Bell states definitively at the end of the video: “May you come to see that you are the good news.  You are the Gospel.” It is an entirely different take from the foundational truths of Christianity that states that our lives can be expressions of the power of the gospel.  As Christians, we believe that the Gospel is something which happens outside of us.  The Good News of the atoning sacrifice of Christ for our sins necessitates our living differently.  But Bell’s perspective actually supplants Christ as having any actual role in the faith and sets individual humans as primary expressions of the good news.  Bell then seems to teach that the message of the gospel is simply about being a good humanitarian and little else:

… the universe was in need of repair … future restoration had nothing to do with leaving this world … it was all about restoration … of this world.

This could be argued as simple omission and change of emphasis.  Yet, if we are to take this video as a full testimony of the gospel of Christ, then it is quite disturbing to suggest that its message is all about remaking our world here and now.  Not to suggest that there is anything wrong with reaching out to people in need and with doing good for its own sake.

Humanism Not Christianity

Fortunately, Rob Bell’s message does produce people who are prone to care about others and the environment, rather than drinking poisoned Kool Aid.  However, the issue is that he calls himself a pastor of a Christian church and it is difficult to see that without the above-mentioned foundational truths he is still presenting the gospel message.  What is left instead is a strange amalgamation of a number of different faiths, little of which is Christianity.

Some of his supporters have urged me to consider that this may be my perspective because Bell’s message makes me feel uncomfortable, not because there really is anything wrong with it.  Additionally I have been urged to consider that his change in emphasis is because the salvation story is old news and it is time to be speaking about other aspects of our faith.  No doubt that these observations may be true, at least in part.

However, if I were to eliminate the concern I have for sound doctrine in our churches, then Bell’s message would actually make me all too comfortable.  It feels good to think that what I do and how I spend my life matters.  But what we have and what we cling to in Christianity is that Jesus came to die for my sins and that his resurrection gives me hope of a future with God.  Nothing else matters because there is nothing that I can do to pay God back and there is nothing I can do to erase the fact that I remain a sinner.  It is only by the death and resurrection power of Jesus Christ that I am able to stand in right relationship with God.

Yet, Rob Bell’s message accommodates people who are uncomfortable with the word “sin” and with the concept that there is no value in anything I do, but that I continue to do it as an outpouring of what Christ has done.  It accommodates people are uncomfortable with the claim that through Christ is the only way to have right relationship with God.  Bell’s message accommodates so much that it becomes something entirely different.

_______________
SEE ALSO:

Advertisements

About Aaron Gardner

Aaron is a counselor and student of the Bible, passionate about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. He lives in central Indiana with his wife, one-year-old son and their two dogs. View all posts by Aaron Gardner

97 responses to “Rob Bell’s Christianity

  • Renier

    “there remains an embedded truth in the tradition as it has been transmitted across time.”

    What truth would that be?

    “truth of ancient times is still truth of our time”

    What truth would that be?

    “t the heart of these conversations was the desire to see the church and the expression of truth that it encapsulates, become a driving force in culture.”

    What truth would that be?

    Just wondering…

  • Aaron

    Actually, Renier, you may be very comfortable in Bell’s church. He really avoids anything that would sound vaguely miraculous and elimiates the issues of sin and a belief in a literal Christ. Instead it is more of a weekly motivational talk to encourage people to make the world a better place.

    Again, I am not so concerned about Bell’s message, except that it is not a Christian one, so he really should not call himself a pastor or his organization a church.

  • llanphere

    I like what you’re saying, but I feel like you’re going quite easy on him. Rob Bell is sending directing people to ignore their need for forgiveness from God, their need for repentance, and the ultimate goal of glorifying God. He’s not preaching an altered gospel, he’s preaching a message that will save no one from their sins. Here it comes… (but only because it’s absolutely true)

    Rob Bell is ignorantly sending people to Hell.

  • Aaron

    @ llanphere

    Totally agreed! I wrote this post for many reasons, but specifically for some who I really care about who I fear who would not listen to me if I gave it such a hard angle. I think you are absolutely right! Thank you for saying exactly what I wanted to!

  • Jake Johnson

    Aaron, I sympathize with your frustration with Rob’s frequent lack of definitive statements. The video isn’t loading above, but I’ve seen it before. In that video, what of Rob’s statement, “Jesus is saving the world.” or something to that effect. That could be taken as a affirmation of Rob’s belief in His resurrection (which Rob has affirmed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIKkvmSNUCY )

    I wish he would speak more clearly, more often, but I’m still leery of the chatter that condemns Rob as a heretic. Clearly there is room for correction in his ministry (and in all our ministries for that matter), but I’ve never heard him denounce the things he is saying in the clip I’ve linked.

    Just thoughts for discussion.

  • Scott Wilder

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIKkvmSNUCY – rob bell defends himself and his church mars hill pt.1

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8U9jto2D00 – ob bell defends himself and his church mars hill pt.2

    Just food for thought. I’m not really pro or con Rob Bell.

  • Aaron

    My issue with this response is that it is not until he is attacked that he says that he believes in the gospel and preaches it. Why would he not have said these things in this, his “manifesto”??

    In his own defense (linked above) he is saying that he was taken out of context. But the video above is his own production, and it is missing those cornerstone beliefs. Why would he only share those beliefs from the platform when he is under attack?

    He goes on to say that “the community” at Mars Hill church is being attacked in these kind of exchanges. While I cannot speak for other critics, I am not challenging the community, but am actually saying what I am saying out of concern not only for them but for those who are “Rob Bell fans.”

    Once again: if he believes these tenets to be true, then why wait to bring them up until he is under attack?

  • Jake Johnson

    I wish he would. But that doesn’t make him a heretic. It just makes him ineffective. My beef with most of Rob’s critics is that they don’t correct in love, but call him a heretic instead. I’m not convinced he is.

  • Aaron

    “Ineffective”??? He has thousands in his church, and has published 3 books and sells tons of Nooma videos. Not sure that he would be considered ineffective, at least by capitalism’s standards.

    Seriously, though… I totally hear you on the stance of his critics. As a matter of fact I am having just that conversation with others (some of whom are atheists) and how if they want to be heard they have to change their emotional tactics. “Heretic” is a very strong word, and not one I am willing to use, especially based on this one example of his teaching.

    I hope that he does believe in the basic foundational truths of Christianity. A friend of mine suggested that he just thought that the salvation story was already known and that he wanted to move on to something else. That may be true, or at least I hope that it is. But it still does not answer the question of why he would not be explicit about those beliefs in this video.

  • gayandevangelical

    Bell has dismissed penal substitutionary atonement. He truly has left the realm of biblical Christianity. An entire blog post would have to be penned…or a book. If you want to know what I mean when I say Bell is no longer in the Christian camp, I recommend taking the time to carefully read The Cross of Christ by John Stott, following it quickly with all of Paul’s epistles. 🙂

  • Jake Johnson

    Where is the quote or book in which Bell has dismissed penal substitutionary atonement? I ask this sincerely sincerely.

  • Jake Johnson

    @aaron Good thing effective renditions of the gospel aren’t judged effective by capitalism’s standards, or we’d all be screwed! Keeping Rob Bell in my prayers.

  • Renier

    gayandevangelical wrote: “The truth of the Gospel.”

    Sorry, but a meaningless answer. You might just as well have said “The truth of the Iliad”. Care to back up your claim to “truth” with some evidence? I assume if someone said “the truth of the Elder Eddas” you would have also requested evidence.

    lanphere wrote: “Rob Bell is ignorantly sending people to Hell.”

    I thought it was your god that did that? Fancy accusing Rob Bell of somethingyour god does.

    lanphere wrote: “Here it comes… (but only because it’s absolutely true) Rob Bell is sending directing people to ignore their need for forgiveness from God”

    What forgiveness does people “need”? For being human? For not living up to your god’s standards? In all honesty, I rather think your god needs our forgivenss (if he exists). We can start with the mass murdering of people, even children, to start with. Also, you make a claim of knowledge, of truth, of “absolutely true”. Can you provide evidence for such a statement of knowledge or would you say it is more accurate to describe it as simply your opinion?

    lanphere wrote: “and the ultimate goal of glorifying God”
    It’s all fine and dandy if you choose such a goal for yourself, though I think it severely lacks merit and implies a petty god absorbed in his own “glory”. But saying other people should also seek this “ultimate goal” of stroking your god’s ego is, in my opinion, taking it a bit far and can be argued to be unreasonable.

    Aaron wrote: “Instead it is more of a weekly motivational talk to encourage people to make the world a better place.”

    Not a bad point you make. I can live with that. I’m all for making the world a better place. Though, in earnest, I am not too crazy over the “motivational speakers” as such.

    Aaron wrote: “I hope that he does believe in the basic foundational truths of Christianity.”

    There’s that claim to truth again. Care to back it up?

    gayandevangelical wrote: “If you want to know what I mean when I say Bell is no longer in the Christian camp”

    Very amusing, people who think they have a patent right on Christianity. Any godly stamped documents that makes you god’s spokesman on Earth?

    I am once again astonished. People who think they know anything about god and talks as if they know things about god. Freaks me out a bit when people start baptising their opinions as “truth”.

  • Jason Barr

    The sad and ironic thing is that the very things it appears that Bell tends to de-emphasize, the need for forgiveness and the nature of God’s intervention in history through Christ’s life, miracles, death, and resurrection, not just (though certainly including!) his social teaching, are the very things I think most fundamentally underscore the need and call for Christians to not only be involved, but take a lead role in working for social change. It is precisely because we are initiated into the New Creation through identifying with Christ in being born-again that the church is able to be an agent of meaningful change. To take a page from Aquinas, the natural is not divorced/radically different from the supernatural, but rather the natural flows from it.

    I don’t think Bell is actually as far afield as some people think, but he often speaks in ways that don’t do much to disabuse them of the notion. Ben Witherington reviewed some of his stuff on his blog and had very good things to say about it (I think it was the Nooma series, but it’s been a while so I don’t remember precisely).

    And I have issues with penal substitution myself, not that I discount it entirely but I think it needs to be balanced with other implications of the atonement. I think the core of the meaning of substitutionary atonement is found in the classical theology of recapitulation, perhaps most succinctly stated by Iraneus, who said “Christ became what humankind is, in order that humankind could become what he is.” Not, of course, meaning that humans can become God, but that we can participate in the life of God through Jesus’ incarnation and the fullness of his life, not just one thing he did. But that’s a long and complicated discussion and I’m afraid I may have already done enough to throw this one off-track.

  • Boz

    It sounds like Rob Bell’s group would appeal to those who want to remain christian, but can’t get over their nagging doubts that things like transmutaion (water to wine) and virgin births have never actually occured.

    .
    also
    .

    I have noticed in another post you said that the group promoting the creation museum was not christian (though they claim to be). You say a similar thing here.

    What must a person believe to be appropriately called “christian”?
    Can a person disbelieve a bodily ressurection and still accurately be called christian? Can a person ignore the idea of sin and still be called christian? Can a person believe that there are no gods, and that jesus was a mortal, and still be called a christian?

    I suggest that the answers to my previous three questions are “yes”, based upon the following definition:

    “of, pertaining to, believing in, or belonging to the religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ:”

  • So, the Nooma Dude is a Humanist « Gimme Some Truth!

    […] So, the Nooma Dude is a Humanist 2009 September 9 by Alastair Su Read this (Rob Bell’s Christianity). […]

  • Sabio Lantz

    Aaron, I like this guy for the reason you do and for the reasons you don’t.

    there is nothing that I can do to pay God back

    It is this orthodoxy of yours that strikes me as bizarre, but it is indeed orthodoxy. Looking at the Divine as a judge, the same one who required burnt sacrifices and stuff is so odd, I can barely stay calm talking about it.

    Mind you, as you rightly state, Bell is so outside normal Christianity, I would love to hear him state why he still feels a need to use it. I hope to put a post up shortly on why Non-resurrectionist Christians hang in there.

    Thanks for your post Aaron, you inspired me to put up the same video today. I love how you moderate conversation among such a wide variety of beliefs — you are truly an artist.

  • Scott Wilder

    The bottom line is that only Rob Bell really knows what his theology is. I don’t personally need him to enunciate that theology every time he steps to a microphone. In fact, I know of no pastor that holistically enunciates their doctrinal beliefs at every weekend service.

    I think what so many people have their panties in a bunch over is the Mars Hill missiology. Mars Hill seems to be specifically setup to be inviting and refreshing to people who hate their current church.

    That’s a truly crappy mission for a church.

  • llanphere

    “Can a person disbelieve a bodily ressurection and still accurately be called christian? Can a person ignore the idea of sin and still be called christian? Can a person believe that there are no gods, and that jesus was a mortal, and still be called a christian?”

    My goodness! What is Jesus if not God coming to sacrificially die as a propitiation for sins… if you want a better, happier, more moral life and community, why not become a buddhist?

    Moral, culture-improving religions abound… pick one of those, and leave the historic, Biblical, sin forgiving God of the Bible to people who want and love Him.

    I’m not saying we don’t want you, I’m saying come freely on God’s terms. You don’t get to decide who Jesus is. God told us who he is.

  • Scott Wilder

    Most christians give no thought about bodily resurrection and sin. All they care about is that the elevator will go up instead of down when they die.

    To single Bell out is to ignore the other 96% of christians who do not hold to an entirely bible-based worldview.

  • Sabio Lantz

    Scott, I think you are actually very correct.
    Theologians argue the details whereas the real beliefs of the average believer is a real mish-mash of inconsistency, confusion, contradiction and heresy. And you are right, they really don’t care — the inner heart of the everyday Christian and everyday Hindu really ain’t that different. Theologians would have themselves and then us think otherwise. Because it is their favorite hobby and they can make money off it ! Smile. Gee, was that too cynical?
    Believe is not what people crack it up to be ! That is truth, not cynicism.

  • llanphere

    If you guys call yourselves Christians, we need a new term for those who believe the Bible and have been saved by grace.

    “belief is not what people crack it up to be.”?

    ugh… why put Jesus’ name on those mediocre beliefs. How does Jesus add anything. You’re right about the Hindu comment, so be a Hindu.

    Sure there are a lot of people that call themselves Christians that aren’t changed and don’t care to know God. That’s a problem, but it certainly doesn’t make these unbiblical teachers more acceptable.

  • Sabio Lantz

    llanphere: Many of us aren’t Christians !

  • Tiffany

    Hi Aaron! I’m finally taking a moment to sit down and share my thoughts with you on this. Sorry it has taken so long after I was so excited for you to write the blog!

    First, let me share my experience with Rob Bell and his church. I am from GR, where his church is located. I have both friends and family that attend Mars Hill. When I was visiting family over the summer, I visited the church because I was curious after having watched so many nooma videos. I went straight from Mars Hill to my parents church (name withheld to protect the innocent). Wow, was I shocked with the contrast of the 2 church services. First, Mars Hill is in an old mall building and “the shed” (what they call their sanctuary) is in what was an anchor store. They passed out Bibles to everyone who entered (who didn’t have their own). He spoke on worship, it’s power, and the power of language – both literal and poetic. It gave me greater insight into his use of poetic, figurative language to convey different thoughts, feelings, or angles of any particular topic. I looked around a lot. People were engaged. They were using their Bibles. And particularly during worship, I felt the presence of God. Contrast this with service #2 of that day. The whole feeling was different. I got the feeling that I was sitting with a group of people who were just “doing time.” The worship was… well, it was more a group of people singing than what I would call actual worship. I realize that those statements are pretty harsh criticism for the church that I grew up in and loved. But, that was truly my feeling. I have also had some brief conversations with those I know that attend Bell’s church. For them, it has been life changing. I have only spoken with one about more specific things, but he has the “traditional” beliefs of Jesus and his death & resurrection. He says he loves that he can go and learn what the Bible says without all the other political crap. I haven’t read any of Bell’s books, but I have watched all but a handful of the nooma videos. Now on to my response… 🙂

    I have a different take on the video. I had watched it already. I chose the series to use for our midweek discussion group. I watched it and loved the poetic beauty of the resurrection. To me, that’s what it was… poetic language aimed at inspiring dialogue. We talk about butterflies and how the “show” the resurrection story in children’s church often… same idea… it’s figurative. And that’s what his statement of “the resurrection is all around us” made me think of… how many analogies there are in nature… trees, grass, etc.

    I think it’s making a big assumption that this video is intended to give his take on the gospel story. It’s only one video out of 20something titles in the series. And the series is not intended to impart the “hard facts” of the gospel story. I completely agree that this video does not share the very basic tenants of “chrisitianity”… virgin birth, death & literal resurrection. But, do you know any pastors that share that in each and EVERY sermon? I don’t! Choosing this one video and saying that it encapsulates the entirity of his beliefs is like looking at my profile pic and saying you know every detail of what I look like… that’s not even it’s intention!

    As for his reference to Mithra and Addis… bad research, absolutely. But made up? No. A few minutes on google brings up “research” (albeit lousy) that supports what he said. My take on the “other people made the claims of resurrection” wasn’t that Jesus didn’t, but rather that it wasn’t shocking to people. They will know we are Christians by our love, not they will know we are christians because our Jesus is the one who rose from the dead.

    At the end, when he talks about “we are the gospel”, I again saw it from an entirely different angle. I saw it as meaning that we are a walking, living example of the good news… how it has transformed our lives… how it has caused us to live and love differently. Christians often say “we are God’s hands and feet.” Do those people believe that are truly part of God? I seriously doubt they do.

    Am I to understand that you think how we live our life doesn’t matter? Doesn’t matter to God? Yes, it is ONLY through Christ that we come to the father. But is the ONLY thing that matters that we accept/believe that? That was the understanding of the man who killed 3 women at a gym here… that as long as he believed in God, the virgin birth, Jesus’ death & resurrection, then his actions here on earth did not matter. I believe his actions do matter. They matter because even though he may have believed all of those things, he was not living as Christ calls us to live… loving one another. Our actions our not made in a vacuum. Everything we do effects at least one other life either directly or indirectly. Do those actions get us into heaven? No way. But they matter.

    The penal substitution thing… I don’t know all the theological terms, but I know he believes that hell is not a literal place. (Yes, I heard the words come from his lips). Do I agree? To be very honest, I’m not exactly sure what I think about that. But, I know that to many people, that would be enough to make him a heretic.

    Sorry it’s so long… but I warned you! 🙂 I’m being paged by my 5 year old to come snuggle. Let me know what you think, Aaron!

  • Sabio Lantz

    It is the kind of Christianity spoken of by Tiffany that gives me hope for Christians, while the vast majority of Christians would, in their private conversations, think me hell bound.

  • llanphere

    If there is no Hell, God allowed Jesus to die for NO REASON. Christ’s death is cruel and unnecessary if He wasn’t dying to take the wrath owed to us. You’re trying to make God more loving, but you make Him purely sentimental and arbitrarily cruel.

    We have broken God’s law and deserve to die and go to a literal Hell. We need to be changed, we need to be forgiven, we need God Himself to become a man and take the punishment owed to us. If that hasn’t happened, we have no hope.

    God’s is love, and it’s displayed in amazing grace given to the Hell deserving sinners he forgives and changes.

  • Aaron

    @ Tiffany

    I do very much understand your position… a similar reason that I have been soft on his “theology” for some time. However, he strikes me as being very willing to say what fits the occasion. In this video, whether or not he intended it to be the full gospel message, he comes so close to the brink of really saying something about the role of Christ, but then leads us on with sentimentality of making the world a better place. If that is what the gospel is all about, well, I can find better versions and better ways of expressing it.

    I think that the most poignant statement you made was about not knowing any preachers who share the gospel in every sermon… Well, your church missed out on one ;^) … seriously, if we do not share the gospel each week in our churches, then what do we really have? I think that this is an issue indicative of the mainstream churches in our country. We are so caught up in “what can I do” that we forget that there is nothing that we can do that has not been done for us on the cross. …actually I should probably have just said this all on my blog… and may just copy it there, because it is a good summary of my response. Not to say that every week we have to be explicit about the whole salvation message, but it is the story of our atoning sacrifice that brings us all together and brings all the meaning of what we do to fruition.

    I have called this blog “The Great Work” in reference to the story of Nehemiah. His story is about rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem after his people were in exile. The reason that it was important was not to make the world a better place, or to try to pay God back for his mercy. No, it was to honor God and to do what God required just for the sake of obedience. We have so much more than that: we do what we do because we want to honor Christ. Not to make the world a better place, which I hope we do. It is because in our depravity, while we were yet sinners, Jesus came to make the ultimate sacrifice. Because we have been changed we attempt to show how much we appreciate that gift… knowing all the while that it is dust and ashes in comparison.

    Rob Bell side-steps depravity and makes the gospel about the dust and ashes of the attempt to do something right. Does Romans not teach us that there is no one who is righteous? Are we not still in desperate need of grace and atonement? The gospel is not about God wanting to put the world back together. The gospel is taking a group of sinners, one of whom I am, and sets them in right relationship with Himself, for no effort of our own.

  • Aaron

    @ llanphere

    To clarify: Sabio, Boz, and Renier are atheists/agnostics 🙂

    And on that note, to you three: I have been immensely challenged and encouraged by your comments and our resulting dialogue. No doubt your perspectives are so unique because as knowledgeable you are about Christianity, with your lack of belief you are able to point out things and make challenges in ways that Christians are not prone to entertain. I sincerely hope that you will continue to challenge me and all of us to see where we are in need of repair.

  • Scott Wilder

    And yet Jesus himself so often says things like “obey me” and “follow me”. Not just “believe in me”. Certainly we cannot do anything to earn God’s love and grace. But equally as certain; what we do is very telling of what Jesus’ death on the cross really means to us.

    And once again; most christians I have a personal relationship with have much more concern over Obamacare, home improvement projects and kid’s soccer practice then they do in loving God and one another.

    So while I’m in no rush to give Bell my stamp of approval. I have much more trouble with Joel Osteen’s theology than Bell’s.

  • Aaron

    Wait… you used a phrase there that I am not quite sure I understand: “Joel Osteen’s theology”… is there actually such a thing??? ;^)

  • Cally

    Aaron,

    I would like to know what you think about the way people follow this man? I can see that a great number of people follow him just from observing it on this blog and others. It reminds me of the story in Mark where Jesus casted out the Legion in a man who was bound up for years. When set free the man begged to follow Jesus, but Jesus said, No go to your own home town. I think most preachers now a days would of told this man (the one with the demons), “Oh yes please come follow me and I will show you the way”. What do you think? Thanks.

  • Aaron

    @ Cally

    Honestly, I think that the attraction of the message of Rob Bell and those like him (including Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, and Tony Jones) is that they have come up with this idea that Christianity is about making the world a better place. Again, I hope that I can make the world a better place, but that is not the gospel message. In this sense, Bell gets so close to it, so close to saying that the resurrection actually happened, so close to saying that our good deeds mean nothing, but our attempts to respond to the amazing work that Christ has done before us.

    I think that people who are attracted to Bell’s message are those who have sat in dying churches (which are dying because they lack theology), which did not motivate or empower its people to do something about their faith. There is is this notion of the “social gospel” (very similar to the message of Rob Bell) which suggests that the good news is that people will not have to live in poverty, etc. But did Jesus not say that the poor would always be with us?

    It strikes me of decisive contract what Jesus did NOT do on earth. He did not set up missions to care for the homeless. He did not learn about ancient medicine. He did not join the religious cults of the day. He did not travel to other countries to give humanitarian aid. He did not even instruct his followers to do so. Instead he taught about the Kingdom of God, died, and resurrected. That is it! He got that his own message was his mission to die as our atoning sacrifice! Even Jesus did not attempt to “make the world a better place.”

    Sorry, I ramble sometimes. Just means that it is something that I am very passionate about. I hope that I have answered your question, Cally. 🙂

  • Boz

    llanphere:

    I’m an atheist. Also, you didn’t answer my question about who can be accurately called a christian.

  • llanphere

    Yeah, I didn’t realize you guys weren’t Christians. The gospel is foolishness to the world, so I can’t criticize you for your criticisms. I apologize. Carry on.

    As far as what makes a Christian: The New Testament lays it out clearly. An unbeliver is a slave to sin, a Christian is supernaturally changed, set free from bondage to sin, and becomes a slave to righteousness. A Christian is someone who has, through the power of the Holy Spirit, been born again, believed the gospel, been forgiven of their sins, and repents.

    This “social gospel” stuff is nice, and there are social implications to being a Christian, but that isn’t the Biblical gospel. The Biblical gospel is: believe in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, repent of your ungodliness, and be forgiven, and changed. Thus a Christian is someone who has done, and received those things.

    It’s not a subjective thing, it’s what the Bible tells us. We don’t decide what makes a Christian, the Bible is the source for that information.

  • Sabio Lantz

    Indeed, we are fools. Your “holy scriptures” calls all unbelievers fools.

    The Koran describes nonbelievers in such terms also. Isn’t that surprising !

    Wow, we are also “slaves to sin”. I can feel the chains.

    llanphere: You make the arguments so clear. You are most helpful. You make the atheists arguments almost completely unnecessary.

  • llanphere

    I’m not arguing against atheists. I’m not trying to prove anything to unbelievers in this comment thread. I am, however, trying to say that people who call themselves Christians have an objective source for their definitions, and are foolish to modify them and still claim the title.

    I’m not preaching the gospel to nonbelievers at the moment, I’m addressing heretical teachings. I love you unbelievers and I sympathize. I pray you will know the truth. I do not, however, sympathize with someone redefining the work of the Savior of the world. I pray they will repent.

  • Tiffany

    Aaron… yeah, we did. i still may call you and revisit a previous proposition. hopefully you know what i mean by that. i won’t get into that on here. 🙂

    I understand what you’re saying and don’t disagree. I would so love to sit in the comfy chairs at a national over-priced coffee chain and discuss how our actions beyond the moment of belief/salvation, obedience to his word are balanced with “our righteous acts are nothing more than filthy rags.” If our actions don’t matter, then why try?

  • Aaron

    @ Tiffany

    Let me know the next time you are in town and we will do just that. It concerns me for you that you would be confused about this basic Christian truth. However, it is indicative of the deterioration of solid Christian theology in many churches so not surprised.

    I think that @llanphere said it well: we are slaves of righteousness. Other expressions may be that we are “yoked with Christ” and we are “indentured servants” of Jesus. If you recall an indentured servant is one who is bound to a master in service to pay for his or her necessities. If we see the salvific work of Christ as a necessity and it being of immeasurable value, well that is the reason for our work. We are bound to Christ and we follow in obedience as an expression of what he has done for us. Not that we could ever repay the debt, but we give ourselves to him in this way.

    Try this on for size: http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/The_White_Horse_Inn/archives.asp?bcd=5/24/2009

  • Tiffany

    I get it from one side, but not the other. I do get the why we work… because of our love and immense gratitude for what he did for us. Kinda like I do things for my husband and try to make him happy because I love him… but on a much bigger and deeper scale. I have a hard time with the what if there are no actions. Does that mean the love & gratitude isn’t there? Lack of changed heart and life means lack of salvation? Where is the line? God calls us to obedience in many different ways. So we should. Not because it’s trendy. Not because it’s good social religion. But because we want to live in obedience with his word. But we should still be doing those things… loving God first and our neighbor as ourselves. Perhaps if the church as a whole hadn’t become what it became, this social religion wouldn’t even be an issue. I realize this must read like I’m schizophrenic and a lot of it is vague… it’s just too hard to get my swirling thoughts down in a straight line!

  • llanphere

    “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” -Philippians 2:13

    I think we’ve sentimentalized the incredible truth of being born again. The Bible doesn’t talk about salvation as “turning over a new leaf” or “improving your morals”. The Bible uses incredible imagery like: being made alive, being regenerated, receiving a new heart, made new, buried and resurrected with Christ.

    I think when we see salvation as “making a decision for Jesus” we lose all of it. It’s not about a decision, although we do respond to God. Salvation is of the Lord, and it is a miracle on par with, if not greater than, the creation of the universe.

    He’s taking a child of wrath that is inextricably addicted to his sin nature and remaking him. Genesis was the creation out of nothing… the salvation of man is a recreation of depraved sinners into justified saints.

  • Sabio Hell Bound Lantz

    Us poor slaves to sins need to leave these new creatures alone in their happy world !
    Renier and Boz, I suggest we leave.

  • llanphere

    I’m not trying to push anyone out. I’d personally love to hear your input. Please don’t hear my comments as angry or mean.

    This blog in general, and this post in particular, is about Christianity. Far be it from me not to defend my faith. Yes, my comments are claims of exclusivity. But, contrary to unfortunate preaching, Christianity is exclusive. Not in who’s allowed in, but in who is the way to God. Everyone who wants to be saved from their sins and Hell, come to Christ, he is a perfect savior for anyone who calls on his name.

    I know there are a lot of people in this comment thread that don’t believe that’s true, and I know exactly how you feel. I’m not judging any of you. It’s awesome to see a place that you feel free to speak your mind. Don’t let me ruin your space. Aaron can apparently hold his own.

    I’ll bow out. God bless.

  • Cally

    Oh Dear,

    Lose the whole lot in a hand basket.

    Let’s see what has been going on in mind is I stand before God’s throne and He judges me to hell and for the first time I really do believe God’s judgements are right, true and ok.

    The problem I have as I am walking to hell is my friend is the next one in line and I hear the words, “You too need to go to hell.” And silly me I run back to God and try to convince that I probably said or wrote the wrong thing and actually would try to change God’s mind.

    Now isn’t that crazy, trying to change God’s mind? I think one of the king’s in the OT did that and things did go crazy for him. I’m at a loss sometimes about God’s Word.

    Need to get back to a to-do list, that seems to put things back in order 🙂

  • Boz

    Sabio said:

    Us poor slaves to sins need to leave these new creatures alone in their happy world !
    Renier and Boz, I suggest we leave.

    heh 😛

    llanphere said:

    This blog in general, and this post in particular, is about Christianity. Far be it from me not to defend my faith. Yes, my comments are claims of exclusivity. But, contrary to unfortunate preaching, Christianity is exclusive. Not in who’s allowed in, but in who is the way to God. Everyone who wants to be saved from their sins and Hell, come to Christ, he is a perfect savior for anyone who calls on his name.

    Indeed I would like to avoid Hell. I would also like to avoid Hades, Diyu, Tartarus, Anaon, Uffern, Pelko, Manala, Aralu, Gimokodan, Kalichi, Hetgwauge, Mictlan, Adlivun, Shobari Waka and O le nu’u-o-nonoa.

    I am in quite a predicament, trying to avoid all these places!

  • llanphere

    less of a predicament than you might think…

    The way out of all of those places is really simple, try as hard as humanly possibly to be morally perfect. Yeah there are some exclusive things each might include in their respective precepts, and since they’re already all equally impossible, why not just combine them all.

    So to summarize, you can avoid all those places by simply being perfect. And of course the help from each respective religion can be summarized in, good luck!

    There is another way, though. It’s radically different. It doesn’t require any work on your part. It’s a finished work.

    Someone accomplished all that was required and can give that work to you.

  • Renier

    llanphere wrote: “Sure there are a lot of people that call themselves Christians that aren’t changed and don’t care to know God. That’s a problem, but it certainly doesn’t make these unbiblical teachers more acceptable.”

    What’s that about not judging other people? You have the gall to accuse other people of not being changed, sinners and not knowing god? Did your god give you the gift to know what goes on in other people’s minds and hearts? I need to, once again, point out that *you* do not know anything about god. All you have are your opinions and thinking your opinions on what god is and want is more valid than other people’s opinions is silly. This True Scotsman fallacy is getting tedious. Other people do not worship their god like you do yours so they must be wrong, right?

    llanphere wrote: “If there is no Hell, God allowed Jesus to die for NO REASON.”

    Perhaps god just wanted to take out his cruelty on Jesus? Perhaps Jesus did not die for sin, but because the Romans or the Jews did not like him? Besides, punishing the innocent for the deeds of the guilty is simply not just, nor good, nor loving nor fair. On the other hand, it is claimed that Jesus rose again after less than 3 days dead. I someone dies for my sins, perhaps they should no cheat, and stay dead?

    llanphere wrote: “Christ’s death is cruel and unnecessary if He wasn’t dying to take the wrath owed to us. ”

    You know, perhaps god could have done a humane thing and simply forgive, instead of satisfying his own self-imposed bloodlust and “wrath”? A simple “Okay folks, I realise now that I expected the unreasonable of you and unconditionally forgive you for my mistake, sorry about being so angry and making you suffer”

    llanphere wrote: “You’re trying to make God more loving, but you make Him purely sentimental and arbitrarily cruel.”

    You god does not need anyone’s help to appear that way. He did a good job in the Bible to make it clear what he is like, and it is not good, not just. Many acts attributed to him are cruel, petty and disgusting.

    llanphere wrote: “We have broken God’s law and deserve to die and go to a literal Hell.”

    God should have been smarter than to make laws people could not live up to. Now he wants to take it out on us? That’s hardly being fair, is it? Would you consider me “just” if I made a law requiring people to fly unaided, and then torture them for all eternity if they fail? No? Well, so why worship in your god what you would spurn in humans? Do *you* think people deserve to go to hell, to be tortured and burnt for all eternity?

    llanphere wrote: “We don’t decide what makes a Christian, the Bible is the source for that information.”

    And people interpret it in different ways, right? That’s why there are more than 38 000 Christian denominations and even differences within those denominations about what makes a Christian. Have you ever noted that of the four gospels, only John goes on and on about salvation by faith (just like you) where it is not the central message of the other three gospels? Perhaps you are aware that where salvation by faith is mentioned in the first gospels (not many times, IIRC) it has been argued (convincingly, in my opinion) by some that those passages are interpolations? Why does the first three gospels focus on good deeds, and the Gospel of John, the youngest of the four gospels, written about 100BC, thinks salvation by faith is the way to go? I suggest you read “What Must we do to be Saved” By Robert G. Ingersoll. Willing to educate yourself a bit on this? A quote from him where he answers his critics:

    “I think they dodge the point. The real point is this:
    If salvation by faith is the real doctrine of Christianity, I asked
    on Sunday before last, and I still ask, why didn’t Matthew tell
    it? I still insist that Mark should have remembered it, and I
    shall always believe that Luke ought, at least, to have noticed
    it. I was endeavoring to show that modern Christianity has for
    its basis an interpolation. I think I showed it. The only gospel
    on the orthodox side is that of John, and that was certainly not
    written, or did not appear in its present form, until long after
    the others were written.”

    Furthermore, a quote from wiki: “The vast majority of modern scholars posit that the author was not an eyewitness to Jesus’ ministry.” In short, John did not even write the Gospel that is the basis for your view of what a Christian should be like! So llanphere, I honestly suggest you read the Ingersoll piece and do some research by yourself before you keep on claiming to know what a Christian is supposed to be.

    llanphere wrote: “It’s not a subjective thing, it’s what the Bible tells us.”

    You do realise that *your* interpretation of what is means is subjective, right? Or did your god personally climb down from heaven to explain to you what the Bible means?

    Sabio wrote: “Wow, we are also “slaves to sin”. I can feel the chains.”

    I agree with your revulsion in the judgement that llanphere passed. llanphere, according to your Bible, your god murdered some kids who teased an old man over his bald spot. You are in no position to accuse people who do not believe like you do, of sin, unless you take your god to task first for the murder of innocent children. This self-righteous attitude is not going to win your god any respect, I can assure you that.

    llanphere wrote: “I love you unbelievers and I sympathize. I pray you will know the truth. ”

    Condescending, but I’m guilty too, probably more than you are, so I don’t mind.

    Aaron wrote: ‘I think that @llanphere said it well: we are slaves of righteousness.”

    Geez, not you too! What’s up with all this holier than thou nonsense on this thread?

    llanphere wrote: “I think we’ve sentimentalized the incredible truth of being born again.”

    Truth? Evidence?

    llanphere wrote: “the salvation of man is a recreation of depraved sinners into justified saints.”

    We are “depraved sinners”. Woe is me, the slave to sin!

    llanphere wrote: “Please don’t hear my comments as angry or mean.”

    For goodness sake man! If I accused you of being a slave to sin, a depraved sinner, would you think me mean? You cannot sugar-coat that, it will still stink. Of course I think you are totally nuts and irrational, so I will stop taking offense now. :-p

    llanphere wrote: “Everyone who wants to be saved from their sins and Hell, come to Christ, he is a perfect savior for anyone who calls on his name.”

    Let me ask you simple question llanphere. If your god existed, the way you believe in him, would it be a good thing? Would it be a good thing if your god exists?

    llanphere wrote: “I’m not judging any of you.”

    Yes, and I am not typing and posting on this site, at all.

    llanphere wrote: “I’ll bow out. God bless”.

    No, please address the questions and comments. You do not appear to be the type that runs away.

    llanphere wrote: “Someone accomplished all that was required and can give that work to you.”

    If somebody already has a key out of all the various hells, why does he not share it? Is it not morally wrong to hold it back from anyone, not matter what conditions he attached? And, a condition of: “you must first believe and worship me in order to stay out of hell (that I made)” is simply disgusting and immoral, considering the said person appears to be dead.

  • llanphere

    If you don’t want to admit that there are people who call themselves Christians but don’t live like they claim they should, cool. That makes the argument a whole lot easier, just say Christians are perfect people, and become one. If you do admit that then don’t try to hypocritically say I’m judging people. Christians should bear fruit, and we are supposed to hold each other (Christians) accountable to living up to the name we bear (this I know, because the Bible tells me so).

    Next, The gospels aren’t primarily doctrinal statements, they are accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus. The rest of the new testament is chock full of the Apostles’ doctrinal understanding, and salvation-by-faith is an undeniable main theme. You don’t believe the new testament is God’s word, that’s fine. If you claim that the scripture IS God’s inspired word, and true, then you must believe in the clear teaching of salvation by faith.

    You can say I’m judging you, but I’m not. I’m as much a sinner as anyone, and I can only assume I’m worse than most. I’m not wagging my finger at you, I’m telling you what the Bible says. God judges us, and finds us all guilty, not because I think he does, but because his word says he does.

    Now if you think we’re all these poor, innocent, good people that all deserve a second chance from God, then yeah it’s a cruel story. And if you don’t believe justice should exist on an ultimate level, then God just got mad at us and kicked the dog instead.

    But we are willing sinners. We deny the God who made us, then we treat each other like garbage. We lie, cheat, and steal our way through life, and wonder how a loving God could judge us.

    God is the authority, he is the creator, he is the judge, he is the condition setter, he is the one we’ve offended, he is the one we’ve sinned against. He mercifully took the judgement on himself, and we have the audacity to say it’s not fair.

    I know I’m not speaking your language. I know you don’t like me, because I seem judgmental to you. But I want you to know that I know I’m not better than anyone here morally, intellectually or spiritually. I’m a broken, messed-up sinner who God had mercy on. Now I’m obligated to tell other people, because it’s such good news.

    Countless Christians throughout history haven’t worshiped God because they’re scared or it’s advantageous, it’s because He’s worthy.

  • Boz

    I said:

    Indeed I would like to avoid Hell. I would also like to avoid Hades, Diyu, Tartarus, Anaon, Uffern, Pelko, Manala, Aralu, Gimokodan, Kalichi, Hetgwauge, Mictlan, Adlivun, Shobari Waka and O le nu’u-o-nonoa.

    I am in quite a predicament, trying to avoid all these places!

    Llanphere said:

    The way out of all of those places is really simple, try as hard as humanly possibly to be morally perfect. Yeah there are some exclusive things each might include in their respective precepts, and since they’re already all equally impossible, why not just combine them all.

    Well, there is no way to avoid adlivun, everyone goes there, regardless of their living actions.

    Also beings are not sent to Naraka (not mentioned earlier) as the result of a divine judgment and punishment.

    The only way to avoid Mictlan is to be a warriors and die in battle, die by lightning strike, or die when giving birth (difficult for me).

    Also, there may be other hell-equavelents, all as equally likely to exist as the ones we all know of, which punish cheesecake eaters, or those that wear clothes of mixed fabric, or women, or moneylenders, or Lutherans, or the Swedish.

    So, making appropriate moral decisions is not a way to avoid any of the possible hell equivalents, in the same way that avoiding cheescake will avoid any of the possible hell equivalents – no one knows which actions will avoid any of the hell equivalents that may exist. Anyone that claims to know is guessing or lying.

  • llanphere

    Touche, obviously my point was oversimplified. Put the microscope down for a second, and hear me out.

    My point is that almost all religions are based on completing a set number of precepts, or abstaining from another set… usually both. The end result is a system that either guarantees your failure, or leaves you hopelessly unsure how you’ve faired.

    Christianity is glaringly different, as it acknowledges you can’t do it, and offers one who’s done it for you, to perfectly ensure that a believer will be with God.

    If there is a deity who cares at all about morality and/or ultimate standards, Christianity is our only real hope.

  • Boz

    You are advocating a faith-based entry to your heaven (“to perfectly ensure that a believer will be with God.”), which betrays the falsehood of your last sentence (“If there is a deity who cares at all about morality and/or ultimate standards, Christianity is our only real hope.”).

    If entrance to your heaven is faith-based, then actions are meaningless, and your deity is promoting amorality.

  • Boz

    I am having trouble making a choice. I have a piece of cheescake in front of me. If I eat it, I will go to the hell that punishes eating cheescake. If I don’t eat it, I will go to the hell that punishes not eating cheescake.

    Quite the predicament! :p

  • llanphere

    Actually I’m advocating an entrance into heaven that is based on an imputed perfect morality, accompanied with a miraculous change in a person’s nature, that makes you live a life pleasing to Him. You can not have true faith in Christ without the accompaniment of a changed heart.

    Again, the cheesecake choice doesn’t matter to a Christian because they are literally being moved and shaped by the law giver, who fulfilled the law for them. We can’t go on sinning, because we’re literally not the same people anymore.

  • Sabio Lantz

    @ llanphere
    Could you tell us what sect/denomination of Christianity you belong to.
    Am I right in assuming it emphasizes the “holiness” principle?
    Am I right in assuming that you believe “Real” Christians would be significantly improved by having true faith in Christ? So if we don’t see it in the person, they are not a true Christian?

    Last question, if someone accepts another faith and has huge moral changes, would you say it was your god’s work in one case and human work in the other?
    Thanx

  • Boz

    llanphere, you said:

    We can’t go on sinning, because we’re literally not the same people anymore.

    Does this mean that you are ‘born again’, and that it is impossible for you and others who have been born twice to do a sin ?

    I find this ‘can’t go on sinning’ business to be highly suspicious.

  • Cally

    llanphere,

    I do need to write that a microscope is a good thing to have when exposing those things in darkness.

    I prefer epi fluorescence as it really detects the small things in life.

    Sorry couldn’t help myself….back to work. 🙂

  • Renier

    lanphere said: “If you don’t want to admit that there are people who call themselves Christians but don’t live like they claim they should, cool.”

    That is not the argument we are having, is it? I deny that *you* get to pick who is a Christian or not, especially since you hammered the doctrine and not the works nail. Now you are running around the field with the goal posts towards the “works” side.

    lanphere said: “Christians should bear fruit”

    Bananas, apples or oranges? /joke

    lanphere said: “Next, The gospels aren’t primarily doctrinal statements, they are accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus. The rest of the new testament is chock full of the Apostles’ doctrinal understanding, and salvation-by-faith is an undeniable main theme. ”

    Your whole belief is based on Jesus and what he taught. Now you want to claim that “chock full” – That would be Paul’s writings – are more authoritive than the earliest gospels that make claims to have known what Jesus said? Paul never even met Jesus. So is Paul’s opinion on what Jesus said more important than the words ascribed to Jesus in the eldest gospels? And the other letters you ascribe to the apostles. They wrote them, right? Just like Mathew, Mark and Luke wrote the eldest gospels, right?

    Ianphere wrote:”You don’t believe the new testament is God’s word, that’s fine. If you claim that the scripture IS God’s inspired word, and true, then you must believe in the clear teaching of salvation by faith”

    I don’t think God inspired or had anything to do with your scriptures, just like I do not think Zeus had a hand in the Iliad.

    Ianphere wrote: “You can say I’m judging you, but I’m not. I’m as much a sinner as anyone, and I can only assume I’m worse than most. I’m not wagging my finger at you, I’m telling you what the Bible says. God judges us, and finds us all guilty, not because I think he does, but because his word says he does.”

    What parts? The parts that says good works are the way to go or the part that says blind faith is required?

    Ianphere wrote: “Now if you think we’re all these poor, innocent, good people that all deserve a second chance from God, then yeah it’s a cruel story. And if you don’t believe justice should exist on an ultimate level, then God just got mad at us and kicked the dog instead.”

    It is simple. Really simple. No person deserves an infinite punishment. To go on and say that to not believe in an invisible deity justifies an infinite torture is simply immoral. It is a petty crime considering what humans can get up to and it is in my opinion a petty god that get’s uptight when people fail to believe in him. Even more so when he leaves no evidence of his existence behind. I mean frak man, what type of personality would blame the humans for that? What did he expect?

    Ianphere wrote: “We deny the God who made us”

    And I suggest there is enough evidence to conclude my parents made me, rather than god.

    Ianphere wrote: “then we treat each other like garbage”

    That is sad yes, but we treat each other still infinitely better than a god who plans to torture the vast majority of humans in a lake of fire. In all honesty, I’ll take a cruel serial murderer above your god,

    Ianphere wrote: “We lie, cheat, and steal our way through life, and wonder how a loving God could judge us.”

    Let me try to explain this again. If your children lie, cheat and steal, would you roast them alive? And for ALL ETERNITY? If not, you are better than your god as far as morals and compassion goes. But somehow, and I honestly do not understand this, you have convinced yourself that such a wicked entity is the avatar of loving kindness and deserves your admiration. Would you admire me if I did that to people? But it’s all glory glory hallelujah when your god does it? I honestly cannot reason with you much longer. You are holding up the unreasonable as your idol and it is getting tiresome.

    Ianphere wrote: “God is the authority, he is the creator, he is the judge, he is the condition setter, he is the one we’ve offended, he is the one we’ve sinned against. He mercifully took the judgement on himself, and we have the audacity to say it’s not fair.”

    *sigh*. Let’s try again. God took the punishment on himself, yet people are still going to be punished? So this whole “taking it on himself” is not working out too well, is it? God got “offended”. Well, too bad, even sinners get over offense taken. In addition to this, please notice the myriad of assumptions that you base your belief on.
    Assumption1 : There is a god
    Assumption2 : It is capable of taking offense
    Assumption3 : It takes offense by what humans do.
    Assumption4: You know anything about this god
    Assumption5: He made everything
    Assumption6: He is into judging a lot.
    Assumption7: He likes setting conditions, conditions that cannot be met.
    Assumption8: He can be sinned against (In my opinion, a big deity would not take offense or “be sinned against” in any way. It’s so petty.
    Assumption9: He smote himself because he had (self-imposed) to smote something, but he is okay now, the smote did not stick, yet he still needs to smote some people who refuse to believe in him.

    Even if I agree to all these assumptions (and I don’t), I cannot agree that such a deity is “good”.

    Ianphere wrote: “I know I’m not speaking your language. I know you don’t like me, because I seem judgmental to you.”

    Your indoctrination fuelled utterings I have no respect for. I do not know you as a person, you might just be nice.

    Ianphere: “Now I’m obligated to tell other people, because it’s such good news.”

    It is not. Have you stopped to think about this for a second? I cannot believe in your god, unless there is substantial evidence. I can fake it, but it is not something I can do “in my heart”. You bring a message of wrath and doom and eternal torture for the vast of humanity, and you call this “good news”. I’d say it is terrible news, even if some people are able to actually believe in such an entity. But, I don’t think this god exists, so I’ll be okay :-p

    Boz wrote: “all as equally likely to exist as the ones we all know of, which punish cheesecake eaters”

    Oh frak. What must I do to be saved? I had said unholy thing just two days ago! The cheesecake Satan tempted me! The flesh is so weak.

    Boz wrote: “I find this ‘can’t go on sinning’ business to be highly suspicious.”

    Agreed. Ianphere, since you value the Bible, can you quote the verse that you base this doctrine on? I am not accusing you of lying, and I am sure that you would at least have a bible verse/chapter as evidence handy that this is what the Bible teaches. I would really like to take a look at what “God’s word” says on this.

  • llanphere

    Well I’m done here. Good arguments, guys. I could give some answers for your questions, but I doubt the demeanor is liable to change. It’s all good though, I’m just as biased.

    here’s a section concerning sin vs faith, since you asked. In it Paul demonstrates How we have the freedom to sin, since we’re freed from the law, and explains how we could never do so, as we are changed into ‘slaves of righteousness’. I’ll leave you with that, assuming you’ll read it with no amount of unbias.
    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=romans%206&version=NIV

    Twas fun.

  • Renier

    Goodness, I mispelled your name throughout my post. Apologies.

    “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.”

    Seems like Paul is saying be careful of sin, not that you have lost the capacity to sin, like you appeared to claim. Bit, I see you point, simply because that passage is all muddled with contradictions, perhaps only to the “sinner’s” eye.

  • Aaron

    @ Renier

    I would be interested to know if you were a “Christian” prior to becoming an athiest, like most are. The reason for this curioisity is simply because the problems you have with llansphere’s position and theology is the same that most mainline Christians have with it. (not that I am acusing you of being a “Christian” in disguise 😉 … on the other hand…)

    As the old hymn says, as Christians we are “clothed in [Christ’s] righteousness alone.” We continue to struggle against sin, because that is what defines us as humans. However, the atoning work of Jesus is what we believe is everything that has been done. There is no work that we can do to please God nor to make God not love us. Works are responsive to the new life that we have and in no way earns anything else.

    So many people, including so many Christians in America, are products of capitalism and the competitive spirit that accompanies it. Because of those memes and values we believe that there is something that we must do to keep in God’s good graces. That, however, is not biblical. Getting back to the original post, this is what I have railed against and what other Christians (including Tiffany above) find so difficult to believe.

    We, each of us, are living a life that is imperfect. There is certainly mistakes I make and I do things each and every day that I really do not want to do but I do them anyway. Why would I do this except that sin continues to abide in me. I struggle against it, but know that Jesus has paid the price so that in spite of my humnanity I can be in communion with God again.

    This does not mean that all my prayers are answered the way I want them to be answered. It does not mean that I have to work hard to pay back the price paid for me. It does not mean that anything is required of me. It simply means that I am no longer vulnerable (naked) as I stand before God. It means that Christ’s righteousness hides my vulnerability, makes me one of his own, and clothes me. That is it. The whole thing.

    So when llansphere says that you are sinners, he is including himself. The problem with people like Rob Bell is that he is not comfortable with that and does not want to offend people by saying the word “sin.” He is not comfortable with getting something for nothing, so he rewrites the gospel to make it something that we have to do and earn. This is not what the Bible teaches.

  • Renier

    Well spotted Aaron. Yes, I was a born again tongue talking spirit filled on fire Christian.

    I understand the doctrine that reborn Christians cannot sin, since the blood and forgiveness obtained through Jesus covers it. But, as you would know, people remain human, and pretending they are more than human, all of a sudden unable to sin, is simply wishful thinking and delusion.

    “Rob Bell is that he is not comfortable with that and does not want to offend people by saying the word “sin.”

    Well, for one, it is uncalled for to judge other people by morals when those morals have no relation to reality, such as “belief in god is moral”. It is a very slippery slope when we loose focus of what morality is, the question of happiness and suffering. Belief in a god or the worship of a god or the acceptance of a god has nothing to do with it, unless people redefine morality to what they think it *should* be. If I was to go around saying it is immoral to not believe in the fairy in my garden, you would think it arrogant, even more so when I call you a sinner for disbelieving.

    “so he rewrites the gospel to make it something that we have to do”

    No matter how you look at it, your Bible requires you to do, even if the do is simply to believe in the irrational, a tall order by any account.

  • llanphere

    Just to clarify, I wasn’t saying Christians don’t sin. I sin every day. I’m saying that even though all of our sins are forgiven, we can’t happily sin unrepentantly. The craziness of the gospel is: we’re free to sin as much as we want, and we don’t want to sin at all. We still do sin, but we hate our sin.

  • gayandevangelical

    Interesting discussion, all.

    @Reiner: You said, “No matter how you look at it, your Bible requires you to do, even if the do is simply to believe in the irrational, a tall order by any account.”

    You’re ALMOST right. I grew up in a charismatic background, so I think I get where you’re coming from. Let me propose to you a slight tweaking of your understanding and perhaps some more animated discussion will result. 🙂

    First, the word “faith” gets batted around a lot. In Rob Bell’s book VELVET ELVIS (pg. 18), he writes,

    “People often tell me they could never have faith, that it is just too hard. The idea that some people have faith and others don’t is a popular one. But it is not a true one. Everybody has faith. Everybody is following somebody. What often happens is that people with specific beliefs about God end up backed into a corner, defending their faith against the calm, cool rationality of others. As if they have faith and belief and others don’t.”

    Bell then goes on to say what you’ve probably heard even as a child in your church: the atheist has more faith than the Christian.

    I’m going to submit to you that all of this discussion regarding faith (Bell’s discussion, that is) is built on the errant assumption that “everybody has faith.”

    Now, there’s a sense in which Bell is spot-on. Yes, people follow others…but if we’re going to use biblical terminology, we should allow the Bible to define what faith is, at least as it relates to Christianity, even if we’re not going to let it define anything else.

    Faith, according to Scripture, is trust. This is still slippery for folks from our background because it’s assumed that trust is something WE have in and of ourselves, apart from special gift of God. I could go into WHY we have that assumption historically, but I think it will suffice to say for the moment that Scripture nowhere teaches this idea. This took my by surprise in college after having grown up in Pentecostalism and having attended a large mega-church of the non-denominational variety later.

    Faith, biblically speaking, is a gift of God. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith. And THIS is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). So why did I capitalize “this” in the quotation? Glad you asked.

    Ever wonder what the “this” is pointing to? Well, in the Greek, the THIS points to the three previous components as its object…which means that salvation, grace and faith are all gifts of God. Does everyone have faith? No…faith (at least in the biblical sense) accompanies salvation and grace.

    I realize that anyone can take one verse and mangle it and make it say anything they want it to say. However, If you do still have a good Bible (not the King James where you practically need an English degree to make heads of tails of it) on your shelf, then look at the whole first two chapters of Ephesians (at least) and check my homework and see if my interpretation fits the context. Any good reader or writer knows that it’s all about context, regardless of if we’re talking about the Bible or the Illiad or whatever, right?

    I also realize that I only answered one of your objects and it wasn’t a brief or perhaps a satisfying answer at that. But I figured a long response to one point was better than an exponentially long response to all points which are all equally unsatisfying. So if you want to continue dialoguing, I’m game.

    Until then, have a great day everyone!

  • Renier

    llanphere “We can’t go on sinning, because we’re literally not the same people anymore.” and ” I wasn’t saying Christians don’t sin.”

    You say : “we’re free to sin as much as we want, and we don’t want to sin at all. ”

    Do you think unbelievers wants to murder and steal and cheat? You are not that special to not “want to sin”. Apologies for sounding harsh but it is clear my discussions with you are fruitless.

  • Renier

    gayandevangelical, if faith is a gift from god, why throw those he did not give it to in hell?

  • llanphere

    I assure you, my theology does not include any sinful human stopping sinning. I meant we can not go on sinning like we did before, unrepentant and insensitive to God.

    Sin isn’t just those horrible things, it’s also much more subtle, it’s pride, it’s sexual sin, it’s pleasure seeking, it’s vanity. Yes, I would say unbelievers like these things. It’s the way we are, naturally, and we find pleasure in sin. We love our sin.

    Regeneration and sanctification make us hate sin more and more. I’m prideful, I’m lustful, I’m vain, I seek my own pleasure, but I recognize it as sin, and seek God’s help to change. I can’t go on sinning.

  • gayandevangelical

    @Reiner: Because without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). The only way ANYONE is pleasing to God is if they are found in Christ…that is, God takes them who are by nature sons of disobedience (Eph 2:2), children of wrath (Eph. 2:3), just like the rest of mankind.

    Man is not a morally neutral agent, Biblically speaking. Man is dead in trespasses and sins and are led astray by their own desires. Sin comes from within and we are enticed both by what we want and what we experience (internal and external is what I’m getting at). So we get to verse 4 of Ephesians 2:

    “But God being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us”

    Context check: who is “us”? Well, the letter is addressed to the “saints (believers, the Church, whichever term you prefer).” Some manuscripts say “at Ephesus,” most of the earlier ones do not. “Saints,” however, is not in dispute as being the addressees of this letter. Continuing, verse 5:

    “…even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…”

    So God loved those whom He calls (his Church…that is, the Church Invisible, not simply those who at any snap-shot in time call THEMSELVES a Christian) and showed those who have the gift of faith (let’s call them ‘the elect, since that’s what Paul calls them elsewhere) great love by bringing THEM near by the blood of Christ, Eph. 2:13, going as far as to say that the elect, instead of being at odds with God that our peace through the reconciling act of Christ dying on the cross (Ephesians 2:14-16). Elsewhere, Paul expands that out to say that not only has Christ made peace by His blood for believers to God, but that now God Himself works in those believers “both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

    Did I answer your question?

  • Sabio Lantz

    @llanphere
    You said:

    Just to clarify, I wasn’t saying Christians don’t sin. I sin every day. I’m saying that even though all of our sins are forgiven, we can’t happily sin unrepentantly. The craziness of the gospel is: we’re free to sin as much as we want, and we don’t want to sin at all. We still do sin, but we hate our sin.

    Let’s say that you and a believer in another faith agreed on some important sins. I think you would all say:
    “I can’t happily sin unrepentantly. I am free to sin as much as I want, and I don’t want to sin at all.”

    So, after all, that is very human. So the only different thing is that you feel you got a free ticket to heaven because you believe a jesus-story. Right?

  • llanphere

    Now we’re talking.

    Yes, justification by faith is the difference.

    Our lives are changing BECAUSE we’re justified, they’re working to get justified.

    Our righteousness lies entirely in someone who actually is righteous. Theirs lies in themselves… at best it’s horribly flawed and hopelessly uncertain, like ours would be if it depended on us.

    Yes we can not, by any stretch of the imagination, live up to God’s perfect requirements, so God provided a way for us to share in the righteousness of One who could.

    His purpose isn’t to save as many as possible, or to make moral people. His main purpose is to demonstrate his power and glory. He shows His powerful wrath in punishing sin, and his incredible mercy in pardoning sinners. It’s all about God. He’s the maker, the sustainer, and the savior.

    Since I’m laying it all on the line, and as I set it up to be torn apart, I pray someone actually sees the amazing work God did for us. Anyone reading this can partake in God’s mercy.

    You’re a sinner. You deserve to go to Hell, because you have offended a holy and perfect God. Eternal Hell is the fair penalty for the offense. If you think it’s overkill, you don’t understand the value of your crime. God is holy, and God is angry toward your sin. This is the bad news.

    But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, when we were dead in our trespasses… became a man. He lived the perfect life we could not live, he revealed the mysteries of God, was betrayed, beaten and murdered. The wages of sin is death, but Jesus was innocent of sin. In God’s economy Jesus couldn’t die, but he wasn’t dying for his sins. He was a worthy sacrifice, taking on the wrath owed to sinful men. He rose again from the grave, revealed himself to His disciples and 500 people and ascended into heaven. Now He’s seated at the right hand of the Father interceding for all who believe in Him. He is eternally presenting himself to the Father as the once for all sacrifice for the sins of those believing.

    Now God commands all men to turn from your sins, believe in Jesus, and be saved. You will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, your sins will be forgiven, you will be justified before the Father, and you will receive eternal life.

    The sole purpose of this world is for God to be glorified through those saved by Christ… for God’s power to be displayed in his glorious redemption. Jesus Christ is center-stage in the universe.

    THIS is the gospel. Jesus is the salvation of God. Jesus is our only hope.

  • Sabio Lantz

    Boy, I hope the felt good for you llanphere — it seemed very cathartic, substanceless, but cathartic.
    But then we atheists are fool and it is as if pearls to swine.
    Keep trying though, you throw enough pearls and one swine might turn.

  • Aaron

    Interesting use of Scripture there, Sabio! (Matthew 7:6)

  • Sabio Lantz

    Exactly, I was quoting it intentionally. Such passages abound in every faith’s “scripture”. Every faith has many skillful ways of dismissing those who disagree. They have even more clever way of threatening those who leave the faith. Your faith, Aaron, says people like me are now absolutely hopeless and can never be saved. We have committed the unforgivable sin.

    My choice of scripture (being a former believer) was to intentionally reflect the thinking of believers on this blog. Thank you for recognizing my skill. Remember, even Satan can quote scripture. (Matt 4:5-6)

  • llanphere

    It does feel good to proclaim the gospel, and I’m not trying to impress you Sabio. I’m not sure what you mean by substanceless, but it doesn’t matter to me. Your problem lies with God’s gospel, not me. I’m not coming up with new material here, apparently that’s Rob Bell’s job.

  • Boz

    llanphere, you claim to know a lot about god.

    again, I find this to be quite suspicious.

    .

    Llanphere said:

    Yes we can not, by any stretch of the imagination, live up to God’s perfect requirements, so God provided a way for us to share in the righteousness of One who could.

    His purpose isn’t to save as many as possible, or to make moral people. His main purpose is to demonstrate his power and glory. He shows His powerful wrath in punishing sin, and his incredible mercy in pardoning sinners. It’s all about God. He’s the maker, the sustainer, and the savior.

    God is holy, and God is angry toward your sin

    But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, when we were dead in our trespasses… became a man. He lived the perfect life we could not live, he revealed the mysteries of God, was betrayed, beaten and murdered.

    Now God commands all men to turn from your sins, believe in Jesus, and be saved. You will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, your sins will be forgiven, you will be justified before the Father, and you will receive eternal life.

    The sole purpose of this world is for God to be glorified through those saved by Christ… for God’s power to be displayed in his glorious redemption.

  • Jonathan

    If Rob Bell is wrong in what he speaks, perhaps offering criticisms and telling others he is false should be replaced with our prayers for him. If we the church spent more time praying for our adversaries and less time chatting about them amongst ourselves, we would see Rob Bell, his community and ourselves become closer to the men and women God has called us to be. Perhaps it would be better to love our adversaries instead of exposing them and the best way I know to love someone is to pray for them.

    Do you agree?

  • Aaron

    Thank you, Jonathan. No doubt prayer is very important and I do pray for Rob Bell and others like him. However, we are responsible to challenge others in our faith community who go astray, if for no other reason to point out the problems and save others from being victims of that message.

    Thanks for your comment. I hope you will continue to engage in conversation here!

  • Boz

    Jonathan said:

    If Rob Bell is wrong in what he speaks, perhaps offering criticisms and telling others he is false should be replaced with our prayers for him. If we the church spent more time praying…

    Intercessory prayer has no effect on the target.

  • Aaron

    @ Renier

    It seems that you have completely skipped over gayandevangelical’s response to your direct question. I’m curious about your reaction to his comments.

  • Sabio Lantz

    @ Aaron

    Looking at GAY_&_Evan’s stuff:
    Renier did answer a few times. But let me try answering the gent.

    1) “penal substitutionary atonement” is the assumptions:
    a) We are guilty from birth because Eve at a fruit –>> bizarre
    b) Substitutionary –>> Killing an innocent person for the guilty is OK = bizarre
    This is standard Christian fare and it is one of the most bizarre things about Christianity. A sacrifice hungry god who will condemn people to eternal torture for something they didn’t do, if they don’t believe a story.

    2) “Faith is a gift from God” — Calvinism. Election of the few. Great, good chooses who is damned and saved. Bizarre !

    OK, all this may not be bizarre to you believers, but that is because you have been swimming in it so long, it seems normal. You feel Muslims, Mormons, Hindus, Shintos and many others have bizarre beliefs but only because you were not raised on their myths and your have not swam in their pools.

  • Renier

    gayandevangelical: “Faith, according to Scripture, is trust.” and “Faith, biblically speaking, is a gift of God.” and ” Does everyone have faith? No…faith (at least in the biblical sense) accompanies salvation and grace.”

    I asked: “gayandevangelical, if faith is a gift from god, why throw those he did not give it to in hell?”

    And gayandevangelical answered: “Because without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). The only way ANYONE is pleasing to God is if they are found in Christ.” and (i think concluded) “and showed those who have the gift of faith (let’s call them ‘the elect, since that’s what Paul calls them elsewhere) great love by bringing THEM near by the blood of Christ”

    In all this, the answer appears that god gives faith and salvation to some, and too bad for the rest. So I think my question was answered, although the answer itself appears to paint God as an idiot that would punish people who he has not gifted with faith.

    Sabio pointed out the doctrine of the “chosen ones” are Calvinism. Not everyone agrees with this for the simple reason that a fair god would abstain from such bigotry.

    Of course, gayandevangelical, your interpretation of the Bible is your opinion. And I must admit, it is a bit funny, arguing about what God intended to say in some old writings.

  • Aaron

    Renier, are you whining? “arguing about what God intended to say in some old writings” is a ridiculous argument! It would be the same argument that I am sure some people give about dinosaur bones: what is the point of studying something so old, what can old bones really tell us?

    If you want to debate about faith and theology, fine; I appreciate and welcome the challenge. But saying that an argument is not even worth having because of the age of a document, well that is spurious at best.

  • Cally

    Boz,

    Intercessory prayer has no effect on the target.

    For me this is a really good thought. Thanks.

    People really can only change themselves and to think that my thoughts somehow will change their thoughts is rather silly. Now, if that prayer changes my thoughts of them then maybe the prayer is rather successful.

    Unless you get caught praying so much that the mundane things in life become rather tedious and I usually end up getting caught in an endless cycle of thinking, serotonin levels go way up and the whole world falls apart.

    Then again thinking causes it to come together again when you actually talk to others rather than write and blog, yes I am working on this thought as well. 🙂

    Just got done talking with a scientist who actually thinks bowel movements are related to serotonin levels. Yes it was more scientific something to do with Uroguanylin levels, but bowel movements sounded funnier. And laughter is a good thing for the soul.

  • David

    Cally et al:

    Intercessory prayer is not something which is simply an individual thinking positive thoughts about someone else with an intent to change their aura. Prayer, biblically speaking, is directed at a Sovereign God who has not only created everything, but manages it all.

    You may categorically reject such communication exists, but if you’re going to discredit intercessory prayer, then one must represent it correctly first and discredit it later, rather than turning it into some device of positive thinking a la “The Secret.” This would strike me as a place for intelligent dialogue and debate.

  • Boz

    Aaron said:


    Renier, are you whining? “arguing about what God intended to say in some old writings” is a ridiculous argument! It would be the same argument that I am sure some people give about dinosaur bones: what is the point of studying something so old, what can old bones really tell us?

    If you want to debate about faith and theology, fine; I appreciate and welcome the challenge. But saying that an argument is not even worth having because of the age of a document, well that is spurious at best.

    Renier may correct me, but I don’t think he was suggesting that old things do not warrant consideration.

    I think he was saying that the argument about what God intended to say is pointless without first objectively establishing that God said (wrote) the words.

  • Renier

    Aaron. Perhaps I am missing something, but arguing about what god intended to say is a futile, but amusing activity. How can we determine the truth in this scenario? It is not as though God is going to come down and explain things and until that happens we are arguing about whose opinion on God is more valid.

    To put it in simple terms, we might as well be arguing about what the FSM intended to say in the last pasta dish.

  • Aaron

    Except FSM was created just last week!

    What I think you are missing is the logical and historic roots of the Christian faith. It did not get created last week, and it did not spontaneously get placed in on individual’s hands. Perhaps you forget that the Bible is a library of documents put together by dozens of authors over the course of hundreds of years. While I do not think it is scientific, it is indeed historic.

    Renier, I don’t know if it is out of ignorance or simple omission in this discussion, but you are not fairly assessing the breadth of the origins of biblical documents. Your debate about Zeus and other “gods” is completely unfounded by any archeological evidence, when there are museums packed with evidence to substantiate as much of the biblical account as the evolutionary family tree.

    Intentional omission of logic in regards to Christianity is precisely the same argument that atheists level against creationists in that forum. Perhaps we all need to do some homework?

  • Renier

    Aaron: “Your debate about Zeus and other “gods” is completely unfounded by any archeological evidence, when there are museums packed with evidence to substantiate as much of the biblical account as the evolutionary family tree.”

    Stacked with what archaeological evidence? And considering that there are traced of the Isrealites, though the stories of Dawid’s empire does not match up with archaeological evidence, it (evidence) says nothing about what hand god played in it. Nor does the fact that there was an fairly early Christian church, and those people wrote letters contribute any evidence for a deity, what they deity intended and what the deity did. To take this specualtion further into the realm of what salvation is is and how the deity accomplished it is just further speculation.

    But since you brought it up. Do you want to assess the “breadth of the origins of biblical document”? We already noted the gospels were not even wrote by anyone who knew Jesus never mind the sticky issue that even if Jesus did exist it does not prove he knew anything about god and salvation and sin and hell.

    We also know the gospels lie about certain things, like dates. The Roman cesnus did not take place at the time the gospels claim, and the silly idea that the Romans ordered everyone to their towns of birth is refuted my times over. A fabrication to place Jesus in Bethlehem at the time of birth and this fabrication is the one reason think the human Jesus existed.

    I stand by my point. Theological arguments about what Jesus intended to say, of what god “revealed” through later writers (who never met him) smacks of pure speculation to me.

  • Boz

    “there are museums packed with evidence to substantiate as much of the biblical account as the evolutionary family tree.”

    Really?, I didn’t know that.

    Does the weight of objective evidence support any of the outrageous/fantastic/incredible claims from the bible? If so, what is that evidence?

    (if you have time to reply, you may want to consider only a few claims, e.g. 900+ years old, parting of the red sea, walking on water)

  • Renier

    Boz, you have a blog of your own. Or do you hang out at another blog too?

  • Boz

    I don’t have enough original thoughts to have a blog of my own. I don’t have enough passion about a particular subject to have a blog of my own. I am too lazy to write a blog.

    I sometimes comment on this blog, mainly in the linked thread

    http://givemesometruth.wordpress.com/2009/08/26/how-rafael-benitezs-critics-are-like-atheists/

    Can you suggest any other theist/atheist/apologetic blogs?

  • Sabio Lantz

    Renier: why do you have a fake address for your website?

    You say yours is http://wordoftheblog@wordpress.com

    That is fake — what is up.
    You waste our time by typing that in.

  • Renier

    Boz, My perception is that your style and line of reasoning is very much what I often see at PZ Myer’s blog, so I though you might be from there. I’ll check out the link you provided.

    Sabio’s blog is also quite interesting. 🙂

    Aaron’s doing a good job with this blog.

  • Boz

    here is another article from a funny blog that discusses megachurches

    http://www.stuffchristianculturelikes.com/2008/11/53-making-impact.html

  • Aaron

    Boz, you bring up another important issue with the observation about megachurches. This is a growing epidemic in the church in America. It seems that “pastors” are forsaking the message of Christianity (perhaps unknowingly) and instead preaching in such a way to get people to show up. Not sure that it is fair to say that the success of a church or a religion is how many people show up.

    Hmmm… may warrent its own post…

  • Boz

    I live in australia, and there has recently been a media (beat up?) controversy about Father Bob MacGuire (Catholic), who is a popular small-time media personality, as well as the leader of a church in melbourne. He turned 75 and was asked to retire by his boss, the bishop of his area. It turned out that the reason he was asked to retire was that his church was losing money.

    This suggests to me that the success of a church or a religion is based upon how much money it can acquire. Attendance is important of course, but it takes a back seat to money concerns.

  • Why I Criticize Christian Leaders: Part 2 « A Great Work

    […] I thought was a great sign.  I became inspired by the fresh attitude toward faith of the likes of Rob Bell, who was willing to challenge even the foundations of the Christian faith, and in so doing usher in […]

%d bloggers like this: