Chopped Bible Salad #5: Gender-Specific Study Bibles

chopped salad

Perhaps it is not as ubiquitous as it once was, but there was a time where one could rarely attend a sporting event, or even view it on television, for that matter, without seeing someone in the crowd with a sign that simply said “John 3:16.”  No, this is not a proposition for a date or a reference to someone with a numerical last name, but it is a reference to a specific verse in the Bible, one that is as familiar as the Pledge of Allegiance:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

There is something very interesting about this verse: “the world.”  That suggests that we are talking about quite a few people.  Interesting that it did not say “women” or “children” or “men.”  Curious that there would be such a broad scope of God’s love.

Forgive my impertinence, but I really thought that the Bible was not gender specific.

Apparently I was wrong, because the Bible-chefs have been hard at work and have chopped up a few more additions to the menu.  According to the acclaimed group, Promise Keepers, the Bible has some very specific news for men.  Let us set aside this idea of the ecumenical nature of God’s love and instead let us grope for specific moral codes that God had bestowed on men.

Oh, and let us not leave out the ladies!  God has some timeless truths for the women of our world to help them feel more empowered even though the Bible was written in a patriarchal society that largely disregarded the value of women except for procreation.

Here’s the problem: focus on the specific word for one gender we miss the most important part of the whole work.  If the main purpose of the book is to differentiate, then we miss the good news, that Christ has died for us all.  Besides, when we are talking about matters of faith Paul makes a very interesting statement:

26You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:26-29

Praise the Lord, who does not show favoritism!  Thank God for His everlasting grace to us all!

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

59 responses to “Chopped Bible Salad #5: Gender-Specific Study Bibles

  • Jonathan "Sigs" Sigmon

    Amen! I can’t agree more. Did you see that Zondervan recently yanked their gender neutral Bible (TNIV)? Such is life I guess. It is incredible to me that we’ve said half of humanity should not be able to teach in church or do any of the like b/c of a cultural idea in one letter to Timothy. Anyways, I’m not going to go on a rant or try to change this to a women in leadership debate, but I appreciated your thoughts.

    Thanks Aaron.

  • TitforTat

    Forgive my impertinence, but I really thought that the Bible was not gender specific.(Aaron)

    This was a joke, right?

  • Boz

    “Forgive my impertinence, but I really thought that the Bible was not gender specific.”

    .

    some c/p

    Genesis 19 The story of Lot offerring his virgin daughters to an angry mob to rape.

    Leviticus 12: If a male child is born, the mother is unclean for 7 days. If a female child is born, the mother is unclean for 14 days.

    Proverbs 6,24 and 7,5 and 22,14 and 23,27 and 23,33 Watch out for evil, strange, and whorish women.

    Proverbs 7 A woman that seduces a man is evil — the man is just an innocent victim.

    Isiah 3,12 Isiah’s people are in such a terrible state that even women rule over them.

    Jeremiah 3.1 A divorced woman is polluted when she remarries. A man is not.

    Ezekiel 23 Two sisters were guilty of “committing whoredoms” by pressing their breasts and bruising “the teats of their virginity.” As a punishment, one sister’s nakedness was discovered, her children were taken from her, and she was killed by the sword. And the fate of the surviving sister was even worse: Her nose and ears were cut off, she was made to “pluck off” her own breasts, and then after being raped and mutilated, she is stoned to death.

    Luke 2:23 Males are holy. Females not mentioned.

    Matthew 24,19 and Mark 13,17 Pregnant and breastfeeding women are going to have a hard time inthe last days

    Romans 1,27 The natural use of a woman is as a sexual object

    1Corintians 7,3 Women are subordinate to men

    1Corintians 14,34 Women must be silent in church

    Ephesians 5,22 and 5,33 and Colossians 3,18 and 1Peter 3,1 and 1Peter 3,7 Wives must submit to their husbands

  • Aaron

    Okay, okay… so this was not my most well constructed post!

    My intention was not to say that the Bible says NOTHING about men versus women, or that it does not have specific statements for one or the other.

    When you emphasize something that was not intended to be emphasized simply by the way that is was laid out in the text, then you run the risk of changing the meaning of what was said.

    Also, the main thrust of the biblical message is not for either men or women, but for both. If the differences are emphasized then the heart of the message can easily be lost. While the Bible does contain moral codes (and many of Boz’s reverences are to these sections), the overall statement of the Bible as a whole is that of the atoning work of Christ that is for all people.

  • Sabio Lantz

    Christians have a long history of focusing on specific aspect of their canon and ignoring others. In fact they culled their canon and edited it to keep those aspects uncontested. That is Orthodoxy.

    The bible has many writers, who each have their own opinions and who are not guided by any spirit. Their use to be many more books in Christian canon but they were declared heretical even though they were the daily food of many of your ancient church fathers.

    Finding your favorite part of the bible is a Christian tradition. How dare you mock it !

  • Aaron

    Uh, if this was about finding only the favorite parts, I think there is quite a bit that I would have thrown out a long time ago.

    Cannon was indeed culled, because many of those other writings directly contradict the teachings of the cannon. Had they been left in then we would have had a very different conversation about how I could put my faith in a work that is so contradictory (and even as it stands many try to level those claims).

    And just because people got their “daily food” from certain writings does not mean that they were true. Many people are comforted by thinking that all they have to do is believe in themselves and they can do anything. If that were the case why are there still homeless? Do they not want to have a place to live? Or perhaps they are not believing hard enough?

    You’ve been reading too much Dan Brown and Bret Ehrman.

  • Sabio Lantz

    There are many contradictions now. They couldn’t cover them all up.
    So you faith is in the Bible or in Jesus ?

    See this for evidence:

    Contractions

    Oh wait, here are the answers:
    Wheew, apologetics saves us”

  • Aaron

    Very amusing… I think it is quite interesting that there is a note that admits that these may not acutally be contradictions and the introduction gives an incomplete list of explanations about about the contradictions. And he obviously is not aware of in-house criticisms that challenge what we call “proof texting,” pulling out isolated verses to make a point.

    Another interesting point is that both lists leave out my favorite contradiction: Proverbs 26:4-5… one verse after the other that stand together as the most obvious “contradition” of all.

    I love teeing people off by sharing biblical contradictions… I will definitely have to spread these around 🙂

  • Sabio Lantz

    Remember, Muslims feel your canon is corrupt.
    Here are Muslims pointing at bible contradictions.

    Meanwhile, the Scripture Project is a good starting place for people looking for a skeptic perspective — it will be interesting as it develops and accounts for the apologists most common rationalizations.

  • Aaron

    Of course they feel that our cannon is corrupt! They do not believe that Jesus was any more than a good teacher… as many who are not Christian or Muslim believe.

    Their denial of the Christian cannon is essential to the survival of Islam. That is no argument against validity of the Bible.

    As for the Scripture Project… thanks for the link. I will have to explore that further when I have more time.

  • Sabio Lantz

    Slow down Aaron, the Muslim stuff was for your entertainment since you spoke of passing around the other stuff, I thought you’d like to compare.

    But since you mentioned Jesus being a good teacher.
    (actually I do not respect MANY of his “teachings”, not that we know what he said and what later writers made him say).

    Certainly Christians make a big deal of his teachings (mishmash that they are — but due to much sanitizing editing).
    And then they make a big deal of his atoning death.

    So, if it was all about a death, a sacrificed baby god could have been enough.

    But we have to have his teachings — but if teachings so important, why not plain teachings and recorded — answer, he didn’t come to teach.

    What really happened was a cult leader died before he expected to.
    IMHO — and now he is an incomplete teacher and yet another surprised inglorious failed messiah.

  • Aaron

    That’ll “learn me”… seriously I am at work and have been commenting between tasks. Well, definitely taught me a lesson 🙂

    btw, all that “baby god” and “cult leader” stuff… cute.

    And most of Jesus’ teaching was not original to him…

    You say these things as if they are new to me. If the accounts of Jesus were written 30 years after the fact, of course some of the details would be different. But that is certainly not the point, is it?

    Any way, you will have to wait for my real thoughts… still at work and not gonna make the same mistake this quickly 😉

  • Sabio Lantz

    Aaron,

    If you assume a spirit possessed all the men who wrote the texts in your bible in such a way as to make it a consistent story, then the bible is strange. But if you assume a bunch of different men wrote it, with their own opinions, it is not so strange.

    No, I don’t write this as if it is all new to you. Maybe that is the funny thing about blogs. I guess your audience is suppose to be Christians. In which case I should speak as if I crashed a party. But your blog is public — and I keep forgetting it is suppose to be private.

    So when you write an article like this, which is clearly directed at those who already believe your presuppositions, I should be more …. hmmm, well, more something .

    You said, “Curious that there would be such a broad scope of God’s love”. Boz rightly points out the female hating, oppressive nature of many of the writers of your cherished documents. Yeah, sure, every none hated women back then, but remember, Aaron assumes his god inspired those words. So, surprising in Aaron’s world, not surprising in mine. And inconsistent with Aaron’s hope to have the god that John wrote about equal the god of the Torah.

    Christian universalists have your god loving the whole world, you have him only loving those who believe his story of atonement. The atonement wasn’t for all, but just for those that hear it and say, “Wow, killing a god because a woman at a forbidden fruit gets me to heaven. Sure , I buy that.”

    So when people pick and choose a Woman’s study bible I find it no more surprising than you picking and choosing to make your biblical model work. That was all. I don’t worship the bible like you do. Oooops, I mean, I don’t hold the bible as the unique writings of people (all men, I think) that one spirit used to tell his message. You hold that to be true without evidence except the sort that trusts because other people believed it.

    So anyway, I see your school of theology as pickin’ and choosin’ from the get go, so you don’t want others pickin’ and choosin’ differently than you do. I get that.

  • Sabio Lantz

    Aaron, my family is going to visit friends in Ashville, NC this weekend and I heard that a good Baptist Church there is following your bible’s example and holding a good ole book burning !! HALLELUJAH !
    Perhaps they will burn the unsanctioned books you listed above.
    I hope to stop in and let my kids see what good Christian folks do !
    See the article here.
    Thought it would warm your heart.

  • Jonathan "Sigs" Sigmon

    Sabio,

    To point towards ridiculous Christians doing stupid things is not a helpful thing to point at. Aaron is not going around advocating for these ridiculous things and neither are most (sane) Christians. There are a lot of things that crazy atheists or Muslims do, but Aaron is not calling them all out as “terrorists”. Us Christians definitely have some rough things in our past and you have brought that out, and for that I apologize. However, Aaron is advocating here that God does not show favoritism based on gender, social status, etc. God has love for women, and God has love for you, even if you disagree with our faith expression.

    For a quick fact check, the Bible was not written by all men. God’s atonement is for the entire world (the verse that Aaron quotes in John 3:16 says this). As for the quote, “Wow, killing a god because a woman at a forbidden fruit gets me to heaven. Sure , I buy that.” – I don’t know what that means, so I cannot respond.

    I think it is important to remember to remain civil in these types of conversations online and try to point people towards truth. Now, we might disagree on what truth is (or if there even is truth), but either way we need to be pointing towards good. To just challenge someone knowing that there is no good that will come from it is a waste of time all around.

    Anyways, I hope you guys have a good weekend. Challenging conversations help us all grow.

  • Sabio Lantz

    @ Jonathan:
    Are you calling the early church believers “ridiculous”?

    “And many that believed, came and confessed and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts, brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.”
    Acts 19:18-20

    So, Jonathan, you can see, I am trying to point towards truth. I am keeping with the theme of this post. If you believe your bible, you can do ridiculous things — better to pick and choose — better yet, best to understand the truth about the bible.

    Yes, we disagree about the truth in the bible, but I am using internal logic to make my point.

  • Boz

    Jonathan said:”God’s atonement is for the entire world.”

    Revelation 7,4 only 144,000 jews will go to heaven

    Revelation 22,15 Galatians 5,10-21 dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, will not go to heaven

    1John 2,22 and 4,3Those that deny Jesus is Christ, and deny the Father and Son are liars and the antichrist

    1John 5,19 Christians are of God, non-christians are wicked.

    Hebrews 11,6 without faith it is impossible to please God

    hebrews 3,12 Unbelievers have an evil heart

    Joshua 24,20 If you do not serve God, he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you

    Matthew 12,31-32 Mark 3,29 Luke 12,10 Whoever speaks against the Holy Ghost, will not be forgiven.

  • Jonathan "Sigs" Sigmon

    God’s atonement is indeed for every person, but that does not mean that there are not standards. God’s standard, again, is the same overused verse that Aaron quotes, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that WHOEVER believes in Him will not die, but have everlasting life.” (emphasis added by me).

    I am quite passionate about social justice issues. I look at things like sex slavery that has a market of $32 billion dollars per year (estimated by the U.N.) and that 2 CHILDREN are sold every minute. This is the sickest of the sick. I think we can all agree that we are repulsed by this behavior.

    So what? Is this the end? Is there no justice? The thing that I love about the way that G-d has set it up is that there IS justice for the wicked. I do not have to be the one who judges people’s hearts, that is G-d’s job. It is comforting that situations like these will be taken care of by a G-d that is both merciful and forgiving, as well as just.

    And I know you don’t agree with that viewpoint and that is ok, but to pick and choose out individual Scripture passages and wonder how I am going to respond is not going to get us far. Revelation is the biggest mystery of the Bible, but I will say that I believe it is written allegorically. As for these people who do these “horrible sins” or deny Christ will indeed not inherit the Kingdom of God. However, that does not mean they can not turn to G-d at any point and receive His ridiculous amounts of grace for us. I’m sure Aaron is a good guy comparatively, but he has not lived up to G-d’s standard, just like none of us have. But, Aaron has accepted G-d’s grace into his life and is covered by Jesus on the cross (this being the foundational Christian message I’m sure you are aware of).

    So yes, I do believe that without faith it is impossible to please God, like the writer of Hebrews says. That is the story at the end of the day – we all have to have faith in something.

    I will also add that I personally believe that the personalities of the Bible are ALL OVER Scriptures. That is why we as Christians have to do the really hard work of deciphering what is God’s revelation and what is just written by the authors. Many Christians would disagree with my interpretation right there, but that is where I end up standing.

    Anyways, I hope that this dialogue is helpful and that I am not trying to simply convert you to my belief. I would never try to say that your beliefs are stupid, but a civil conversation where we can try and challenge one another is a good thing. Thanks.

  • Sabio Lantz

    @ Jonathan
    Here is a link to a former believer talking about your the
    Penal Substitutionary Death theology which you buy into.
    I am not sure you have time to read it, but other readers may like it.
    This article shows you the subtle issues involved that you may not yet be aware of.

    PS- Hope you can see the link — very hard to see in this template of Aaron’s

  • Jonathan "Sigs" Sigmon

    @Sabio

    When did I say that I believed in a Penal Substitutionary View of Atonement? I said that Jesus died for all, not the elect (which unleashes a whole lot more questions that you could raise in Romans, etc. but is how I interpret the whole of Scripture). I think the Penal Sub. View does damage to a lot of people and I am definitely no advocate for John Piper…

  • TitforTat

    Jonathon

    Just curious. When does “all” mean “all”??

    John 12:32 (King James Version)

    32And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me

    John 12:32 (English Standard Version)

    32And I,(A) when I am lifted up from the earth,(B) will draw(C) all people to myself.”

  • Sabio Lantz

    All will be lifted up and then some of us will be tossed back down !
    Ouch.

  • Sabio Lantz

    @ Jonathan
    So what is your atonement view? Hard to keep track of all the various theological schemes out there? What Christian sect do you belong to?

  • Aaron

    Indeed, “God so loved the world” and that prompted Him to give his Son. However, Sigs is confusing the sufficiency of grace and in so doing is taking a step toward universalism. It is clear from Scripture that not all will be saved, but the atoning sacrifice of Christ is capable of saving everyone.

    @ Sabio

    How often does something have to happen before it becomes “part of your tradition?” The context of that book burning in Acts was converts taking documents that they believed had power over them in their lives and publicly broke with that power by destroying the documents themselves. It was a show of commitment. Not sure that the NC book-burning meets that criteria, but interesting observation. I actually heard about it before you posted it via several Christian bloggers who criticized it and used the same Acts passage for context.

  • Sabio Lantz

    @ Aaron

    (1) Book burning is a huge Christian tradition — you know it. I am proud that you knew it before I said it. Good job. Yes, the wonderful Christians are publicly saying “These evil things can harm us. We will burn them, just like our god will burn infidels. That which is not of us will be burned !” Come on Aaron, you don’t see it ?

    (2) You said, “It is clear from Scripture” … that your particular form of atonement — Limited Penal Substitution — is correct. Wrong ! It is not clear from scripture. Christians have wrestled with the doctrine of atonement for millennium and major schools evolved. Even in the “orthodox” sects, there is huge debate still of contradictory models. (and before you say it, yes, I know you have a bible degree)
    See here:

    1) Penal Substitutionary Theory: There are several different variatons of PST. All of them growing out of Anselm’s Satisfaction Theory. – John Clavin, J.I. Packer.

    a) Limited
    b) Universal

    2) Ransom Theory–Gustav Aulen, Christus Victor, is the major book on this position. Gregory of Nyssa in the 300’s a.d. Variation called “Christus Victor” Theory.

    3) Governmental Theory–Hugo Grotius,

    (4) Participatory Theory of Atonement is relatively new–B. S. Childs, Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments.

    (5) Moral Influence Theory: Pierre Abelard, Paul Tillich

    (6) Scapegoating

  • Sabio Lantz

    @ Aaron

    Gee, the more I think of it, the more I am outraged by your reflexive defense of the book burning Christians. They are your brothers and sisters and your allegiance to that is much strong than to truth and justice. Certainly, you would spin wonderful stories of understanding before you would want to appear supporting an objection of a hell-bound atheist.

    Aaron, Christian theology is full of burning. Christians burned heretics. Christians burn books.

    With all your talk about a finding the real Christianity, I think you would have the bravery to admit the ugliness here — to acknowledge the dangerous symbolism, the inflammatory imagery. This is why Atheist generalize against ALL Christians. Because they do not speak out about child raping priests, money hording pastors, fake healing ministries, book burning and all that crap !
    If you don’t speak out, you nurture it !
    Don’t be afraid that your fellow Christians will stop visiting your website.
    It is time to say “Enough !”

  • Renier

    Sabio: “Don’t be afraid that your fellow Christians will stop visiting your website.
    It is time to say “Enough !”

    Hmmm. Aaron, this is said in sincerity. Often I am amazed at your honesty and what you write, considering you are a Christian. This might sound like a hidden generalisation (or condescending), but it is not. You are one of the more rational Christians I have met regarding topics and issues about the Christian faith.

    And yet, sometimes, it is like I can see you get a glazed look over your eyes and it appears you fail to see the object right in front of you. I have given this considerable thought but have no explanation for it.

  • Sabio Lantz

    Well put Renier. Agreeing, this is sort of a compliment, Aaron. Not that compliments from Satan’s lot should have any weight — and perhaps should come as warnings.

  • Renier

    Sabio: “and perhaps should come as warnings.”

    As Harris states, in all of this, one side of people on this debate is wrong, and one side is right. Either the Christian God exists, or he does not. Is what we agree to accept as evidence perhaps the only difference? My perception is, though perhaps flawed, that Aaron agrees with “us” concerning what is evidence. And yet he draws a different conclusion, time and time again.

    I was thinking the other day about the “salvation by faith” that was brought up on this blog a couple of times since I have been a reader. One cannot choose what to believe. The only moral way (go SG) to change a person’s mind is to provide evidence.

    Sabio, do you think it possible that you could now believe in the Christian god? I cannot, in all honesty I cannot, just like I cannot believe in purple pixie Jim nor Osiris. The only logical conclusion, should I accept the “salvation by faith” doctrine, is that it is despicable in that it condemns the honest with the liars. This conclusion once again affirms my rejection of the “Good News”.

  • Aaron

    First on book burning… and burning in general:
    This is certainly a topic related to the dark days of the faith. “Witches” being burned at the stake as well as other heretics in the Inquisitions is an appalling practice. I certainly did not mean to condone the practice, but only to point out the distinct difference. In the NC book burning as well as the burning of humans was based on pushing beliefs on others. The Acts passage that you cited is about a person’s on conviction, based on the power that those books had over them, and they made a stand together to burn them, not in protest, but to eliminate temptation to return to their superstition. Perhaps I have generalized too much with this explanation, but hopefully I have helped to make my point here.

    When I said that atonement is “clear from Scripture” I meant that it is clear that atonement is made. It is very true that the debate still rages on the particulars of the nature of that atonement (ransom, penal, etc.).

    No doubt Christianity both historically and in our contemporary society is guilty of many atrocities. I just do not feel compelled to address all of them. My posts have consistently been offensive to others who claim the faith, and I have lost readers because of that. Sabio and Renier, thank you for your kinds words of encouragement. As always my aim is not conversion or coercion, but for conversation.

  • Boz

    Renier said: “One cannot choose what to believe. The only moral way (go SG) to change a person’s mind is to provide evidence.”

    I disagree regarding changing opinions. Take for example a group of credulous people. One member honestly beleives that there is a connection between the MMR vaccinationand autism. (Note, this is a false belief). This person tells the group, using emotive language and many logical fallacies. The group, being credulous, changes their mind to agree with this new claim. Is this person acting immorally? I don’t think so. Do you?

    Afaik, the only possible way to change a rational person’s mind is with evidence.

  • Renier

    Boz: “Is this person acting immorally? I don’t think so. Do you?”

    I “sort of” do. I see it as every person’s responsibility to make sure the information they pass on is correct or, if not sure, state it clearly as hear-say or speculation. But that’s just me.

    Boz: “Afaik, the only possible way to change a rational person’s mind is with evidence.”

    I get the point :-). but then, what moral way to change the mind of the irrational, according to you?

    ps: The quote was from one of the stargate movies. I liked it quote a bit. I quote:

    Alteran 1: “The only moral way to change someone’s mind, make them see the truth, as you put it, is to present evidence.”

    Alteran 3 (key speech): “We believe in the systematic understanding of the physical world through observation and experimentation, through argument and debate, but most of all freedom of will. I will not compromise the fundamental tenets of my devotion in order to preserve it.”

  • Sabio Lantz

    @ Renier

    You asked, “Sabio, do you think it possible that you could now believe in the Christian god?”

    Sure I could. But as you said, I would need very, very different evidence than I did when I first became a Christian. When I first excepted Jesus into my heart and surrendered unto Christ with gratitude, the only evidence I needed for that leap of faith was:

    1. Good friends who said it was true
    2. A church with loving community to make my home
    3. Insecurity answered by systematic answers
    4. A direction and compass for life
    5. Lots of books that agreed with the above
    6. Lots of names I knew of believers who I respected

    So, those ingredients worked when I was younger. But now, after gaining a more secure mind, life and heart, and after realizing that there are many ways to anchor a good reflective light, and after seeing all the weirdness, contradictions and outright lies in the bible, and never experiencing the miracles promised. I would need real fulfillment of all the promises of miracles listed in the Bible to even start to reconsider squinting and praying to someone who never talks back.

    Hope that answers your question.

  • Renier

    Sabio.

    Yes, indeed. I could just as well have written your post above as if it was my own.

    But now, with things you now know and the way things are now, would you be able to just, I dunno, “decide” to become a truthful Christian again?

    The point I am trying to make, is that in my opinion, honest belief as the Christians claim is required (faith, thus no evidence) is not possible for me. If this is true for many people, and I think it is, then the conclusion I have to draw is that it is not possible for some people to be saved by faith, even if they wanted to. Agreed?

    Oh yes. Sabio, I fixed the URL linked to my name. The post concerning the rectification got lost somewhere, so no, it was not deliberate dishonesty :-p

  • Sabio Lantz

    @ Renier

    I think the word “faith” is misused on both the atheist side and the Christian side. I think that Christians believe with evidence. For example, anecdotal evidence, albeit one of the lowest forms of evidence, is evidence nonetheless. “Trust” of the reports of others you know is a form of evidence which we all depend on and use daily. Christians do not blindly have faith. Sure, maybe a few beliefs they accept without evidence (in the beginning) but even that “leap of faith” is only made based on the many other forms of trust (“faith”) and pieces of evidence such as a thriving community, secure and healthy friends, happiness among believers and such.

    So, imagine as I get older, I meet much suffering and my only support is a Christian community, my only hope for love and care comes from Christians. Childhood images of Jesus flood my mind as my mind gets weak with age. Sure, I could use all that and again have honest belief. One never knows. But if I move back to Asia and my support and care comes from Buddhists or Muslims, perhaps that would sway this withering life.

    Logic is rarely the final victor.

  • Renier

    Sabio, I understand what you are saying. But what I am asking, at this moment, can you have belief in the Christian doctrine if you you so wished?

    Don’t think I am asking my question in a clear way.

  • Boz

    “can you have belief in the Christian doctrine if you you so wished?”

    Almost all skeptics, including myself, would say no. Their(my) beliefs are changed by evidence, not by their(my) wishes.

    Personally, if I attempted self-deception like this, I expect that I would fail.

  • Aaron

    Sabio, could you expound on your statement: “Logic is rarely the final victor”?

  • Sabio Lantz

    @ Aaron

    Laughing ! You know, when I wrote that, I debated writing in parenthesis after the sentence “(here is a perfect phrase for you to misquote or latch on to)”. So it is good to see my intuitions were correct.

    But I will tell ya what, Aaron, you let me know what you think of the other stuff and then what you think I meant by that phrase, and then I will qualify.

    Meanwhile, I have a half-composed reply to both Boz and Renier on their final question because it looks like I never answered his question, OR never got him to understand my point. It may be because of my rather unique understanding of self and belief. We’ll see.

    Meanwhile, I wait for your impressions, Aaron, to see if any of that made any impression or caused reflection or if it is just generic for you.

  • Aaron

    @ Sabio

    Well, I latched on to it because I don’t think it is true! And I was surprised that you would.

    I suppose that there is something to the dialogue of culture and where it intersects with religion, but if a religion is worthwhile, one would expect it would hold across those lines.

    And if you forgive me, but your six-point list is indeed rather weak. I mean they may be part of drawing a person toward a belief, but they are hardly reasons to adopt a religion or a way of thinking… something that I attempted to challenge Melanie with on “How Stuck on God Are You?” I frankly find myself holding theological positions that are very contradictory to what I have been taught growing up and therefore also stand in the face of the beliefs of many I love and care about. Perhaps that sounds familiar?

  • Sabio Lantz

    @ Aaron
    — OK, list the reasons you think you converted.

    For fun, let me guess. You felt that no matter how hard you tried, you could not be perfect. Believing in Jesus meant you were forgiven of this imperfection and then you get a promised spirit (Holy Spirit) to help you be at least a little better — oh yeah, and eternal life. Plus, you get guidance on how to truly serve others.

    Is that part of yours?

  • Renier

    Sabio: “Meanwhile, I have a half-composed reply to both Boz and Renier on their final question because it looks like I never answered his question, OR never got him to understand my point.”

    I think I understood. If there was evidence, now, you would believe. Since there is not, you cannot? Oh yes, and your criteria for belief has changed over the years as you have grown?

  • Aaron

    @ Sabio

    To summerize you are asking if I am a Christian because I believe the message of the Gospel? Of course!

    Now, did I come to that belief because someone told it to me and I thought that it felt good to not have to be perfect? It does sound a bit too much like a fairy tale, doesn’t it?

    I know you are going to jump on this, but this is the best way I can think to describe it: I came to believe before I wanted to believe. Belief caught me and I struggled against it. I fought with Christianity and what I have been taught by the church for years. It was not until I spent time sifting through the Scriptures myself, learning about their history, and reading interesting takes on possible scientific explanations for the miracles in the Bible that I began to feel grounded in that belief.

    Granted some of your 6 points above were definitely in play, but that is why I struggled against it. If I was to stake my life on something, then I needed to know it was true, beyond a loving community, a stack of books, and people I respected. Frankly, it was that list of things that nearly drove me away… yet because belief preceeded being comfortable with it… well, let’s just say that it trapped me.

  • Boz

    “and reading interesting takes on possible scientific explanations for the miracles in the Bible”

    Possibly a tangent, but this is interesting to me. One of my major disagreements with christianity is that, from an objective perspective, miracles like water-to-wine and walk-on-water didn’t happen. Can you give links discussing these possible scientific explanations ?

  • Aaron

    @ Boz

    I will have to do some digging for the title and author of an excellent book, which is a Jewish commentary on Exodus that has some excellent research on the Ten Plagues, scientific presidence for them, as well as a reference to an account where Napleon also crossed the Red Sea. There is an excellent book by a Christian author, Michael Grant, where he sheds some interesting light on the miracles of Jesus: Jesus: An Historian’s Review of the Gospels.

  • Sabio Lantz

    This is actually interesting. I was thinking about moving it to my blog but we should do it here. Maybe you should start a new post called, “Why I Converted” or something like that.
    or “Explaining my Conversion to Non-believers”
    Seriously, it could be interesting!
    So, yeah, I don’t want to sidetrack with Boz’s question but heck, on the new post could — since we are so off the post track already.

    Anyway, I have a couple more questions but first , a principle.

    You are doing good already, but you are usually good at this: It is best to stay away from believer jargon when telling the story. When telling our past, it is best to try and tell the story with out retro-interpretation — make it raw and simple. (I, for example, tried to do that when I tell “My Supernatural Experiences” (see link)).

    Now, to some questions:

    (1) I may actually get what you mean by “Belief caught me and I struggled against it”. Mind you, I understand it with my understanding of how our minds work. For instance, if you read my de-conversion story (especially when I said I shivered), you will see a similar example. So, my question, when you say, “I came to believe before I wanted to believe,” or “Belief caught me” what do you mean? Have you felt that in other things in life. Let me give my bias — I think that happens to people all the time — their brain beliefs something before their rationalizations catch up. That happens when falling in love, hating, desiring, being repulsed and loosing interest or gaining interest. What it exposes is how the brain works.
    But, are you alluding to a Calvinistic “being chosen by your god”? Of being one of the elect? Or, skipping the “elect” stuff, are you thinking it was a supernatural coercion of your mind — a working of a (holy) spirit?

    (2) Explain why you fought it? If everything around you supported it, then only your rational mind fought, so you needed to convince your rational mind? So I guess that takes us back to question 1.

    (3) How old were you when this happened? How long did you “sift through scripture”? etc…

    (4) How did you cement the conversion — was it one day, one act …?

    It sounds like all the normal things drew you in and surprised you because your rational mind had too many arguments, so you needed time to seek out rationalizations and were successful at sacrificing rationality with good-enough explanations so as to get all those other things your brain wanted. <– again, I am just laying out my cards to help you in replying.

    (5) You said, "If I was to stake my life on something" — it didn't sound like you risked anything. Since without religion you die and that is it, but with it you could still die and be only dust but you get the possibility of being right and gaining heaven. So it sounds like only win-win — via Pascal's wager. Unless you felt all the other offers of heaven by all the other religions deserved consideration. So my question: At that time, had you considered Mahayana tantric Buddhist salvation solutions, or the solution of Mormons or Jehovah Witnesses or Islam (did you read the Koran), or the Taoist solutions … You get my point. I guess you could only "RISK YOUR LIFE" if those other religions threatened you of hell if you are wrong — Taoism and Buddhism don't do that, so I guess you didn't have to consider them. But how about Mormonism, Islam, Zoroastrianism, or the few other faiths (no many do) that threaten non-believers with eternal damnation. Or were you being mellow dramatic about "staking your life"?

    That ought to keep you busy — you can see why this could be another post, eh? {at the risk of being pesteringly persistent — lots of us would love it if you changed templates to make your blog easier on the eye and easier to find links. — can't blame me for trying. Smile)

  • Sabio Lantz

    @ Boz
    May I suggest that if miracle rationalization stories are interesting for you, that you do us all a big favor and start building an “Index Post” which lists the various books that Christians recommend to explain why they think reason backs miracles. Then you link each book to a review post you do on the books as you slowly read through them and do analysis. You might even get Luke at Common Sense Atheism to help you. Just a thought !

  • Aaron

    Yeah, well… I don’t put much stock in too many of them myself… it is way too often that people get caught up in some sort of sensationalism and accept the “evidence” too quickly. We all remember the whole “Shroud of Turin” debacle.

    And case in point, the Jesus book that I recommended is decidedly off the Christian map because of the statements that it makes about the life of Christ. I have read some things online about the author that suggest that he is an atheist, but he is explicit in the book that he is a believer.

    As for the whole “conversion” thing… indeed it looks like it may require its own post. I will get to cracking on that 🙂

  • Sabio Lantz

    You are a good man, Aaron, I don’t care what those damned Atheist say !
    😉

  • Aaron

    Honestly not trying to resurrect a dead thread, but kept forgetting to add a comment about an earlier part of this discussion.

    Some have said that the Bible blames the woman for original sin. While it was Eve who was the first in the story to eat the forbidden fruit, it is clear from chapter 5 of Romans that “sin came into the world through one man,” Adam.

    Of course, that means that the action of Eve was not significant enough to bring sin into the world, so either way you all will have problems with it 😉

  • Sabio Lantz

    It is a myth, people, a myth. Geeeeez !

  • renier

    Aaron. Do you believe in a literal Adam and Eve in a nice garden with a talking snake?

  • Aaron

    Does it matter?

    And I am asking that as an honest question, not rhetorical.

  • renier

    Yes, it does. If you do not believe in a literal Adam and Eve in a garden with a talking snake, then it raises theological issues such as:
    1) Original sin
    2) Jesus as the second Adam
    3) Humans were never perfect to begin with, therefore why hold them accountable for imperfection?
    4) If you say it is symbolic, then did Jesus die for a symbolic sin? Was his death perhaps just symbolic. Perhaps the idea of Jesus is just symbolic? Is salvation just symbolic? Is Heaven and hell just symbolic. Was Noah’s flood just symbolic? Was the Exodus symbolic etc.

    So yes, I would say it matters a great deal.

  • Sabio Lantz

    Does it matter?

    See, Aaron, case in point, as I mentioned in the other post, about avoiding questions.

    @ Renier — I guess you could keep the Eden story all symbolic for REAL sin and thus Jesus’ supposed sacrifice was not symbolic.
    Aaron has not given us a tab listing his doctrinal stances. He has confessed, I think, to the Atonement theology of PST.
    Anyway, I think you could keep it symbolic and still hold Christian soteriological stances. But arguing over the details of the myth to prove minor points is pretty funny to me. That is why I asked.

  • Boz

    Aaron, your belief in a literal adam and eve matters to me, so that I can tailor my writing to your stance. I would write differently to a literalist than to a liberal.

  • Renier

    Aaron must know the creation myth was probably borrowed from the Babylonians. Just like the Noah flood thing with the boat came from the much older Sumerian myths.

    But yes Aaron, please clarify what you believe. It does matter even if for the simple purpose of establishing the amount of reason you employ while studying your hole book or application of modern knowledge in the interpretation of what the desert nomad goat herders knew.

  • Aaron

    Sabio, you know what they say about people who live in glass houses.

    For the purposes of talking about gender roles taught in the Bible, I don’t really think it does matter if the story of Adam and Eve was literally true. Either way, the story has influenced gender roles for millennia. Yet stepping back 2,000 years it looks like there was a strong teaching about original sin that put the blame squarely on Adam’s shoulders… so whether it is a myth or not it was influential in establishing those roles.

    When approaching this type of conundrum, I think it is more important what the author believed then what I beleive about what was written. No doubt that there is some sort of trued that is being communicated in this passage at the beginning of Genesis, but the question is whether it was ever intended to be literal or scientific truth. There are similiar accounts that are comtemporary to when this was written, and talking snakes sound a bit too much like Aesop to be conincidential.

    Could it be that evolution is true? Could it be that at some point modern man stepped on the scene, was conscious and therefore could interact with God in much the same way of the account of Adam? And could it be that this man chose to turn against God? Perhaps the story is not point for point true, but it may be that the story is true nontheless.

    But what do I know? The author may have actually intended to tell a literal story in every sense of the word, and fully intended it to be taken just that way. Other Christians will definitely argue with me about this, but it is hard for me to see that this really changes the story of the Bible, the cannonical position of the first chapters in Genesis, or the meaning that this story has in explaining original sin and the fallen state of humanity.

    What do I believe? Frankly, I am not sure what *to* believe. I am fully comfortable with holding both of these views with a big question mark. Recent conversations have helped me to see the value in the teaching of creation; that God created the world in a perfect state and that it was the choice of humanity to rebell against God which caused mankind from being in a perfect relationship with God. But is this in reality what happened or is it a convienient truth to help explain some of Christian doctrine? Well, convienience is not a good argument for belief.

    Does that help to answer the question regarding my position or does Sabio want to accuse me again?

  • Ruby Leigh

    Aaron – unrelated to this post, but fits the theme of “Bible Chopped Salad” check this link out – http://conservapedia.com/Conservative_Bible_Project

%d bloggers like this: