November 25, 2014

Welcome To This World

A video has been making the rounds on the Internet these days that begs a response. Before I make my comments, take time to watch this for yourself.

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Rwioe1SGkQ’]

Here is my point-by-point counter-narrative.

*   Welcome to this world. You have so much value that your creator would sacrifice himself for your sake.

*   Though we Christians are fond of employing the hyperbole, it is unbiblical and inconsistent with God’s character to say any person (created in God’s likeness) is worthless. Indeed, your very creator gave his own human life for you before you were ever born, just so you could choose to relate to him or not. Because that’s what gives life meaning—choice. Without choice, your existence would be meaningless.

*   When some want to insist you were born a “sinner,” that simply means you were born independent of God, the source of all life. That is why there are any such “wages” as death. And that condition was your parents’ own doing, as it will be yours if you do not choose to be in relationship with God. It’s like light and darkness—if you choose to be independent of light, then you can only have darkness with all of its consequences. The problem, though, is the absence of light, not the consequences of darkness.

*   Any forgiveness you seek must be for your own actions, which are merely consequences of your state of being independent from God (as if you were thrashing about in darkness, damaging others in the process). That state of being independent from God is the reason you will be cruel and hurtful and mean—animalistic, even—toward other people who are likewise God’s children. You, like everyone else, will inflict suffering upon others to greater or lesser degrees. History bears this out—there is only one exception . . . when God himself became a human (and he, of course, was not independent from God and therefore not in darkness, as he is himself the light.)

*   But do not believe the lie that you murdered Jesus. He gave himself of his own volition—your creator loved you enough that he would be hurt for you before you ever were born, just so that you could choose to love him back . . . or not. But you are not guilty of killing your creator. Your guilt is for the things you do because of your separation from God. It’s the separation he wants to heal, and then you needn’t hurt others.

*   For example, God wants you to be a generous person, giving of what you have for the wellbeing of others, rather than only your own interests. He knows that the more you give of yourself to other people, the more you will love other people and him. God also does not want you to give anything if you don’t want to . . . that would be meaningless. After all, who wants to receive a gift from anyone who resents giving the gift?

*   Billions of people throughout history have known God personally and have known him to be real in their lives, though they’ve not seen him. They cannot see the wind either, but they can see its effects and experience its impact upon themselves personally. They have known there is far more to reality than what you can see with your mere eyeballs. They know they have minds, not merely brains. They know the whole of what they themselves are is greater than the sum of their own parts.

*   And then there is that Bible. God has revealed himself in various ways throughout human history, and he reasonably ensured the events and communications were variously and honestly recorded over centuries by dozens and dozens of different authors, from the context of their own culture and worldviews (always remember—choice is meaning). The anthology of those writings remarkably has survived like no other ancient writings to this day. Just as we can learn so much about human nature by studying ancient history and literature, we can learn so much about God’s nature by studying these writings from and about his engagement in human history. May you never be so myopic as to believe only contemporary thought can convey truth to you—if anything, it tends to be the opposite. God speaks in many ways to people, but always listen especially carefully to the ancient voices that for good reason have survived the test of time.

*   Christians believe like the one whom they follow (God incarnate, Jesus Christ) that the message of their creator becoming human so as to set them free from the tyranny of self-centered independence from God, is good news. They benevolently want to share the good news that is obviously as universal as any truth could be. If your creator actually did become human like you so as to redeem a relationship with you and free you from your natural inclinations to hurt and be hurt, then that is something you and everyone else should want to know. Though some twist this into a tool for domination, as if they could force people to believe as they do (meaningless anti-choice), they are themselves acting independently of God . . . because God himself would never do such. God will never force you to believe in or as him.

*   But know this—heaven is no mere reward. That is like saying sex is the reward of getting married. Heaven is simply being with those whom you love—including (and especially) God, who is certainly the greatest person to be with. But that existence is not merely going to be about singing praises for all of eternity. It is going to rather be all that this life is, but without the separation from God . . . without the cruelty, war, disease, suffering. All of the adventure and exploration and growth and depth without the pain and futility of this world. And it won’t be merely seen by the dead. Rather, it will be seen only by living people—some who have always dwelt there, others who will have new bodily forms that are incorruptible. It’s the ultimate evolution. Heaven will be what every person deep inside senses should be in this reality—it will finally be as good as it gets.

*   The writings called the Bible do occasionally describe an alternative to the greatest adventure known as heaven. Some will tragically choose to remain separated in relationship to God, and that must be the truly miserable existence. It will likely be more miserable than the hell people go through on this earth, but it certainly is consistent with what so many are likewise suffering right now, and all because of general human independence from the creator (i.e., all that humanity has suffered is hell on earth, of our collective own doing). So many people suffer profoundly because we all are in control, rather than God. There are terrible pictures of what is popularly called “hell” in the Bible; but they hardly even represent the misery that is here in this world, let alone in any place called “eternity.” God’s love extends to redeem people from all hell; but he will not force any to accept the only solution to darkness—light. Those who will resist love can only know misery on their own.

*   Resist the simplistic and foolish inclination to believe there is nothing more to reality than what you can see or touch. Science itself does not bear this out. It is the myopia of the empiricist (a distinct minority among the vast majority of humanity). Nature and logic reasonably lead you to know there must be a designer of the designed, and that matter and order do not come out of nothing and chaos. More so, your ability to think and discern meaning comes from a source that has meaning . . . for you know deep in your soul (and you do have one) that there is such a thing as meaning—there is love. Love is real, and there must be a source that loves.

*   For millennia billions of people have been communicating to their children, generation upon generation, that there is such a thing as love—that truth is real and personal. And that they are authentically loved, because their creator first loved them before they ever came into existence. Some have taught the alternative to their respective children—that love and truth are meaningless, and that you are little more than a sophisticated animal, and self-preservation is supreme . . . that you are worthless unless you can survive, and at others’ expense. That your own interests, or those of your pack, should transcend all else. But never listen to those voices. Creature though you are, you are more—you are a person who can love and choose, because you were created by the person who defines love and choice.

*   From those of us who know God, welcome to this world. Your creator wants so much to welcome you to his.

 

 

Comments

  1. Isaac (the poster occasionally still known as Obed) says:

    You were a lot more winsome in your answer than I would have been :)

    • Cedric Klein says:

      Yeah, my gut impulse is to smack the Smug right out of everyone involved with this monstrosity. As if Atheistic Materialism or Insubstantial Spirituality can’t have just as contrived Straw Men constructed for them.

      Alas, there are more than enough Christians who enable the makers of this. I just hope that baby grows up to be a faithful Biblical Christian who reads a lot of Michael Spencer & then throws it all in the face of the adults who used him/her for this.

  2. Ok…. So… make your own video and post it to youtube?

    AHHH! My faith! What happened to it? It’s gone!
    :P I think I could vaguely recognize the religion being portrayed there.
    You know, I don’t believe there was a single line in the entire video referencing the content of the Apostles creed. Yet this is somehow the impression the authors received from Christianity somewhere….

    Bottom line: Grossly misinformed, but a just critique.

  3. Straw man.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Then why does it match what I first heard from the first Christians I encountered back in the Seventies?

      • The same reason it sounds nothing like the Christianity others have professed for their entire lives. I frankly cannot see these arguments gaining traction in parts of the world where it’s believed that ancestors still hold pull over the world (the east), God may still speak in an audible voice in a Dream (Middle East), or that you cannot believe anything you cannot see (anywhere expect North America and Western Europe). This, like those fundamentalist Baptist arguments, is so slathered in Western rationalism that it is ignorant of the rest of the world’s beliefs — including how other Christians might show a diversity of opinion.

        It’s videos like this that put the infamous “Bananas” video into perspective: anyone can make a bad argument, but those who claim a position of intelligence over the viewer are usually the most embarrassing.

      • Plus, those hippie new converts in the 70’s hadn’t quite gotten all the drugs out of their systems. And they didn’t bother submitting to proven spiritual leadership and being mentored by older, wiser, more experienced believers. They went off and started their own denominations instead. This video IS aimed at them.

        • Miguel, some of us in the ’70s actually did try to “submit to proven spiritual leadership” and sought mentoring by “older, wiser, more experienced believers”. Because of various theological and church-cultural factors, what came from that was something called the “Shepherding Movement”. Some of us got out of it before it did us much damage, but it did many people a great deal of damage.

          I can smile at your “hippie new convert” characterization, because I lived through that time and knew some like that. But most of us were trying to seriously follow the Lord. This led a lot of people down some strange paths, and certainly to starting their own denominations. But it was not necessarily because of lack of clear thought. A lot of the tendency to go down those aberrant paths was due to the particular interpretation of scripture this video pokes at, because as HUG says, that’s exactly what was being taught at the time by fundamentalists and many Evangelicals.

          Dana

          • Wow. Thanks for the story. Always good to get it straight from someone who was there. I guess the Shepherding Movement didn’t really last, since I’ve never even heard of it.

            With the “hippie” remark, I suppose I was going after a select few, namely the Calvary Chapel bunch. This was the tradition I was raised in. By “older, wiser believers” I hope I’m not endorsing any psychologically damaging fundagelical accountability system or anything. I also know that many of the older churches were not accepting towards the new converts. I suppose it’s just tough to find a good church no matter what generation you’re in. I think, though, that the best way to find a good church is by finding one that has been around for centuries. Those who burn people and run them out seem to not last as long. Those who have successfully passed the faith through many generations are likely to have a sustainable pattern of spirituality that does more help than harm. In theory.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            I guess the Shepherding Movement didn’t really last, since I’ve never even heard of it.

            I think it’s still out there. Maybe under another name and maybe not as high-profile, but it’s still got to be out there. When it messed me up in the mid-Seventies, it was called “Discipling (TM)” instead of Shepherding (TM))”.

            Whatever the name, it is basically a control freak’s wet dream. New converts are Discipled/Shepherded by higher-ranking Shepherds (TM) who exercise extreme control over them and everything they do or think — EVERYTHING. This is all justified as the Shepherd (TM) being God’s Anointed under pain of the Sin of Rebellion Against GOD. Control-freaking taken to the point of Divine Right and Cosmic Justification. Long Live Big Brother.

          • aka the Discipling Movement? It’s huge.

      • Robin Cranford says:

        I agree HUG. I thought the first minute was for real. Then I realized it probably was an atheist group. It ended up being a bit ridiculous and seems to be a mockery of what you get out of some forms of evangelcalism

      • I wasn’t there, and did not hear what your Christian friends in the 70’s told you, and of course I’m not privy to what they were thinking. If I were to venture a guess, I would say that their understanding of Jesus and his gospel had a lot of straw mixed in.
        Happens all the time. I am just as guilty of it as anyone. We are all inveterate straw mixers. That’s why the root of the gospel is not that I must understand rightly, but the Jesus has done it completely.
        So…even if it is exactly what your loving Christian brothers and sisters told you, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a straw man. They just used it to a different purpose.

  4. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Click on the YouTube logo in the embed to get to its YouTube page and take a look at the comments. Most of the rebuttals I saw on the first page are in fluent Christianese jargon, duckspeaking typical Evangelical buzzwords and phrases.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      P.S. Funny thing is, the video accurately describes the Christianity I first experienced in the Seventies. All that’s missing is Young Earth Creationism Uber Alles and The World Ends Tomorrow (at the latest).

      • Same here. It’s not far different from a Jack T. Chick tract.

        Which is why I object so much to those lousy tracts.

        • They made comedy films out of those things! They’re called “Hot Chicks,” and some of them are viewable on You-Tube. (Better add the name of JTC to the search, otherwise you’ll get pics of nekkid women and such.)

        • K.W., you’re right, it’s a lot like a Chick tract, but Chick was more anti-Roman Catholic.

    • We are so “talented” at “giving a defense” and so prone to forgetting “with gentleness and respect.” If we could merely get that last part going, a heck of a lot more people would be willing to listen.

  5. About a minute into the video and I was thinking “Somebody’s going to hell.”

    How many people that have been in church their whole lives are watching this and thinking the interpretation of Christianity is about right? I had my own point/counterpoint narrative going throughout the video, and Dave is certainly right about the straw man being built. It’s a shame that so many people see only the “religion” of Christianity and miss the Gospel. An even greater shame is the countless souls that could be mislead by watching this one single film. How many will refuse the Gospel, even if presented well, because they saw this first?

    I literally feel a little sick at my stomach.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      What about the “countless souls” whose churches’ teachings pretty much agreed with the video? When I heard that taught, it wasn’t from a “thinking atheist” video, it was from Evangelical Christians. Worm theology (“You Are Worthless”), Penal Substitutionary Atonement (“YOU Killed Christ! YOUR Sins Killed Christ!”), Hellfire or Praise Bots in Heaven.

      THIS VIDEO WOULD NOT HAVE THE IMPACT IT DID UNLESS THERE WERE CHRISTIANS TEACHING PRETTY MUCH THE SAME! WHY DO YOU THINK THE POST-EVANGELICAL WILDERNESS IS HERE IN THE FIRST PLACE?

      • Agreed HUG…some of what the video says is what I was taught. Its why I don’t have a faith today…

      • Aidan Clevinger says:

        I understand your frustration with the *methods* used to spread this message, but I’m fairly certain that Hell, the atonement, and total depravity are biblical doctrines. Granted, they must be seen from the lens of God’s incredible grace, but they’re true nonetheless.

        • Heaven, Hell, Death & Judgment, yeah. Total depravity? Not so much. That’s a doctrine of only one part of the Christian family.

      • H.U. Guy, I am with you on what many chruches are teaching. Their followers are the ones most likely to think this video makes a valid point. This version of Chrsitianity – more about the church than the faith – is not the true body of Christ. If we teach and live out the Gospel, it will stand in stark contrast to what is being presented here.

  6. Tim Becker says:

    The vid is spot on as to what most of Christianity teaches, as well as the Bible. As I read through the scripture, I don’t see so much the “nicer” version that Craig rebutes with. But that could be because I read it through eyes conditioned by a lifetime of hearing fundamentalist Baptist sermons.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      But that could be because I read it through eyes conditioned by a lifetime of hearing fundamentalist Baptist sermons.

      That’s probably it. In a now-lost essay on the Net, “Once you’ve been Assimilated into the First Church of Borg, it takes a long time to get back. Just ask Seven of Nine.”

  7. Ocean Poem

    “You say you don’t need me anymore?” Asked one of the waves from Ocean
    “You say, there, on the sandy shore
    ‘Her waves hit hard me too hard…’

    Did you see the children playing and joy-laughing?
    Did you see the elder couple, resting and smiling?
    Did you see the young and the old jumping and running and walking?

    Did you listen?
    Did you see the sparkles on the waters from the sumshine?
    Did you see the rainbow?

    I helped — it’s His sign — His covenant —
    Rainbow — the right rightness

    Did you see?

    You say you don’t need me anymore, dreamer?

    Did you see the sky-blue
    Did you see the ocean-blue
    Did you see the contrast in colors?

    Blue.

    You say you don’t need me anymore?”

    “Who’ll tend to your island of garbage, oh man?
    Who has endured?

    Who’ll allow you to dig in under the waters —
    Into the depths for more… oil?

    Who has endured?

    Who’ll gift you fresh water from the clouds to your land?
    Who has, who will, who’s choice?”

    Ocean Song
    Water fall dance
    Wind Song
    Wind dance

    “All creation waits with great expectation…
    To hear her song, ”

    “Who me?
    Before I pass away?”

    “They don’t believe a reason to repent…”

    “But not all are they, LORD.”

    Dance a voice Ocean…

    Maybe they don’t need me…
    But I need Him.

    His feet walk on land and sea
    His feet have always been precious to me.

    tears matter

    When Ocean can’t…
    He can, for her…

  8. i’ve been having a conversation with an atheist in my town who is President of the Secular Student Alliance at the community college and it sounds a lot like this video. this is the caricature of Christianity he puts forward. i’ve been reflecting on how impersonal and external his comments are. there is never any admission that he has personally been hurt by Christianity, but that somehow the world is in danger of Christians because of past evils committed in Christ’s name.

    i think that’s what has bothered me the most. i wish we could all share our stories and see that there is a God who wants to heal us and heal the brokenness in the world. but when junk like this is out there in response to junk taught in churches, it ends the conversation and gets in the way of sharing our stories and coming to an understanding.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      this is the caricature of Christianity he puts forward.

      If it’s a caricature, IT’S A CARICATURE SHARED BY A *LOT* OF CHRISTIANS.

  9. Well the video makes some good points…at least from my perspective. I need to head to bed but here are a few.

    1. Many Christians do look at people as being worthless. Look at how evangelicals treat Catholics. Look at how some Christians treat gays, people of other faiths, those suffering from AIDS, etc.. Many Christians do look upon people as being worhless becuase they deny them the respect they deserve. Maybe God loves them…but many Christians sure as hell do not.

    2. According to Adam and the definition of Original Sin all Christians are responsible for Jesus’s death. From Chaplin Mike, Martha of Ireland, etc.. the stain of sin as I was taught was passed down. I’ve known Christians who have felt guilty for Jesus death. I think that’s one of the nerves that Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ” touched on.

    3. I do like the comment about sex being the reward for marriage. For many fundgelicals it is…of course its also followed by high divorce rates which are worse than atheists and agnostics.

    4. When it comes to God and communicating correct me if I am wrong but you largely have the Bible alone. It was taught to me that the Bible was what God communicated exclusively through. Hence that’s why those that don’t know the Bible becuase they wore born in Wuhan, China in 200 BCE are out of luck. But that’s evangelicalism for you!! 8-O

    I need to get to bed I’ll write more tomorrow. The video is actually part of the Thinking Atheist Channel…but this is my favorite video. Its the Story of Suzie.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vM5n8jESUEk&feature=channel_video_title

    I love the part about Hurricanes. You know there’s a video on Youtube that I discovered of an old friend from Campus Crusade..eh Cru ;-) in New Orleans thanking God for Hurricane Katrina and that it will open up people’s mind to God and that they would see God’s had in Katrina. Isn’t Christinaity lovely? Maybe he’s Pat Robertson’s replacement though he’s running a CCC chapter out west.

    • Divorce rates are lower among Christians who regularly attend church. It’s still a lot higher than it should be, but it’s not quite as bad as both pastors and secularists often say.

      Speaking more generally, the rate of 50% for the general population is misleading:
      – First of all, it’s counted by the number of new marriages each year versus the number of divorces filed that year. The obvious problem with this is that many of these divorces will be from older marriages from previous years!
      – Also, second marriages are much more likely to end in divorce than first marriages, and third marriages are even more likely. Someone who’s “been married so many times she’s got rice marks all over her forehead” (Tom Waits :)) is going to be counted repeatedly in the divorce rate. The rate for first marriages is better. Still too high, but better.

      • Divorce rates are lower among Christians who regularly attend church. It’s still a lot higher than it should be, but it’s not quite as bad as both pastors and secularists often say.

        Absolutely correct Joel,

        Here are the statistics:

        “Active conservative Protestants” who regularly attend church are 35 percent less likely to divorce compared to those who have no affiliation. Nominally attending conservative Protestants are 20 percent more likely to divorce, compared to secular Americans”

        – W. Bradford Wilcox and Elizabeth Williamson, “The Cultural Contradictions of Mainline Family Ideology and Practice,” in American Religions and the Family, edited by Don S. Browning and David A. Clairmont (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007) p. 50.

        • By the way, these numbers may be skewed, because if you get divorced you may be less likely to attend church. For example I know couples who both attended church before they got divorced, but only one attended after they got divorced.

        • I suppose we should also mention that one of the strongest effects on divorce statistics is the age of marriage. Conservative states and areas with very high evangelical populations often also have less educated populations who marry a lot younger, and in our society, older you are, the more likely your marriage is to survive. I don’t know if that has to do with maturity, or if its a socio-economic thing. But it’s a factor.

          I do not remember the nitty-gritty specifics, or exactly where I read this. But I think a related discussion can be found in “Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture”.

      • Joel-

        The US Census Bureau just released a report about divorces in teh west and south of the United Sttaes.
        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/25/united-states-divorce-rat_n_935938.html

        That’s the latest that I am drawing from…if I am mistaken I’ll take back my words.

    • What are the divorce rates for agnostics and atheists?

    • As the song goes, “It was my sin that held Him there, until it was accomplished…”
      In reference to point number 2, while it is preached too often, I don’t believe this is the message of scripture. Jesus was by no means obligated or forced to redeem us. Our OWN death is the result of our sin. The death of Christ is the result of God’s compassion and mercy, providing a way for our death to be overcome in His resurrection.

      To impute the guilt of Jesus death on all people is to actually reverse the message of the cross. This is usually done in a manipulative attempt for conversions, as in revivalistic pietism.
      In the cross, we see the visible image of the invisible God offering forgiveness to those who want him dead. His death accomplished the removal of ALL our guilt, not the piling on of one more offense. The Law says we are sinners, the Gospel says God freely forgives all for Jesus sake. The cross, which is the symbol of the Gospel, it too often wielded as the hammer of the Judge. When you hear this, you see Christians missing the point of their entire faith.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Then there’s a LOT of them out there “missing the point of their entire faith”.

        Eagle took a severe burn job from the kind of Christian parodied in the video. I took a less severe burn job some 30+ years ago. There’s a reason a lot of us at IMonk are wandering the Post-Evangelical Wilderness, the reason the original IMonk wrote of “The Coming Evangelical Collapse”.

        Recently I read a Thomas Merton essay called “Moral Theology of The Devil”, and I was amazed how many points of contemporary American Evangelicals (“Christian” without a modifier) it seems to touch upon.

        • That’s from “New Seeds of Contemplation,” right? I have a copy and been trying to get to it.
          Maybe perhaps it wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all if Michael Spencer was right about the CEC. Maybe its what Christianity in general needs to move forwards into greater effectiveness and stronger reflection of Christ.

      • Miguel, Be careful learning your theology from songs.

        • You may have missed something… My point was that the song exemplifies a typical error in the understanding of the cross. The song preaches we killed Christ, but I believe nobody kills God. He lays down his life voluntarily.

    • Okay follow up points.

      I know Craig talked about how God wants our generousity. There are many churches that would bed otherwise. They push and hammer titihing and giving. Sometiems I think some churches are like county od state govenrments in the moths before they new budget kicks in. You know…when the police force steps up their ticketing to raise money. I feel many fundgelcials do the exact same thing. And the more you give the holier you are in some of the places I have been in.

      If Christians really want to share the good news. Its not hard!! All they have to do is love! And yet that is the one thing many Christians don’t or can’t do. Often times the Bible is sued as a hammer to be the crap out of you. That is claled evangelism and much of evangelism today is unnessary. If Christians could love would tghere be a need for evangelism. No!!

      Our creator wants ot welcome people to this world? What the heck? Look at what James Dobson did to Richard Czisk when he raised envrirnmnetal concenrs. I guess there arn’t enough strip mining operations in third world nations, and it’s God’s will that Christians run this earth into the ground.

      • “Its not hard!! All they have to do is love!”
        I’m not sure I can think of a harder thing to do in the world. It worked out really well for Jesus, now, didn’t it? I think maybe its just a bit easier to argue with and blame people than to love them. And its a hell of a lot safer, too. As long as the problem is outside of us, the cross is off our back. “My burden is light…” What was Jesus thinking?

    • i don’t see it
      i don’t look at it
      i don’t know it

      not in the same way as you.
      i can’t…

      sometimes i can’t see the LORD
      or hear Him in it…

      once my finger was twitching…
      i watched it twitch all by itself.
      i laughed, thinking, “What is this, finger?
      As though it has a mind of its own?”

      It moved side to side.
      And then it stopped
      and now… now it participates in making typOs.

      regarding listening…

      listening comes with sincere
      as soon as they make a thing or manupulate words —
      like on vacation travel pamplets, you know?
      and say… like giving meaning to an event — particularly after it happens
      i don’t know what that is.

      a million voices and stories and opinions —
      either it’s Christ or it’s a need for Him

      i can’t understand the teachings from those who need Him
      Saying, about him…
      i can understand it on a personal note.
      but not as a mass-teaching…

      but re: big waves
      people, after, go to help ————
      they make friends
      speak, live, help… live near and next.

      and then, what is said, Eagle…
      sometimes, then, it is true
      but, it may not be true for the person who said it.

      also, you talk about when you lost your faith, a lot, Eagle…
      it takes some faith to write on this sight, don’t you think?
      faith to say you lost faith?

      most of them are friends, Eagle.
      it’s okay —
      not everyone can be a best friend…

    • “Roman Catholicism both suffer from trying to see everything as a governed by a set of finely-tuned laws.”

      Not so much. Catholicism admits that there are many areas we do not understand, including who goes to heaven according to what they know. They are called mysteries. There is a lot of area for different interpretations regarding time, place, person, etc., so, no, RC has thought about everything but only those things specifically understood are prescribed.

      BTW, Eagle, RC teaches there are more ways to hear from God than the Bible. For example, Natural Law?

  10. The video does a great job of pointing out the bankruptcy of a certain kind of Protestantism (namely Evangelicals who believe in hell). The only part that I thought was unfair was the line about being punished for killing Christ. (Isn’t that only the Jews? I mean, according to anti-Semitic literature that hardly anybody will admit to believing today?)

    I find Craig Bubeck’s response above disingenius.

    *The notion that God had to kill his son (except he survived) as a sacrifice is profoundly irrational–what impresses is not God’s supposed “love,” but the bloodthirstiness of the whole cosmology.

    *Talk of “choice” is meaningless if the choice is uninformed (as the video points out, God does not deign to talk to us, except perhaps in very roundabout ways), and if the wrong decision results in eternal hellfire.

    *Any number of Christians (or Hindus) may think they have seen God, but there is no good reason to believe such claims, any more than we believe the claims of those who claim that Elvis is alive and living in Tibet.

    *The antiquity, complexity, depth, and fame the Bible do not mean that we should take it at face value, any more than we do for the works of Plato or Herodotus.

    *The choice between belief in (a) Christianity thus described, or (b) “nothing that we cannot see or touch,” is as false as the claim that love is exclusive to Christianity.

    I could go on and on, but this should suffice. Strangely, theologians are well aware of the falacious nature of such arguments, yet we keep on hearing them for some reason.

    • Craig Bubeck says:

      Blake:

      //The notion that God had to kill his son (except he survived) as a sacrifice is profoundly irrational–what impresses is not God’s supposed “love,” but the bloodthirstiness of the whole cosmology. //

      I agree, actually—the notion that God had to kill his son is indeed irrationally simplistic . . . and its connotation is also unbiblical. The far better, theologically consistent understanding is that God himself became a human and died (i.e., the necessity of God’s triune nature—God the Son is fully Creator God). Read John 1—the “Word” that became flesh was the Creator of the Universe himself, the one who was both with God and was God. God didn’t send some child to do a man’s work (as it were). The Christian story is that the Creator sacrificed himself. As to the supposed bloodthirstiness of it all, that’s humanity’s own doing, and that’s what God himself stepped into and submitted himself to. Death is what you get when you’re separated from the source of all life. And God’s condescending throughout the OT by using “bloodthirsty” language was for the purpose of communicating meaningfully to bloodthirsty people. God is not bloodthirsty . . . we are. But our God is willing to get blood spattered on his own clothes—to get messy by dealing with people who, like other animals, fight to survive and thrive by the shedding of others’ blood. A theist’s god would have washed his hands of the whole bloody mess and left humanity to self-destruct in its self-inflicted blood bath. The Christian God takes on flesh and blood himself, and then allows his own life-blood to be shed. He participates in our death and allows HIMSELF to become a victim. The reason the cosmology is bloodthirsty is because humanity has reduced itself in its pursuit of being its own god to being beings not created in God’s likeness, and therein mere animals, wherein death and shedding of blood is meaningless anyway.

      //Talk of “choice” is meaningless if the choice is uninformed (as the video points out, God does not deign to talk to us, except perhaps in very roundabout ways), and if the wrong decision results in eternal hellfire. //

      But choice to believe in a creator of the universe, and particularly of beings who can transcendently think and reason and love, is innate and universal. It occurs to everyone (somehow) that there is moral choice, and that such is unique to the human species. (Animals are never held to the same moral standards, and they do not hold each other to such.) Even the smallest child knows to ask where do we come from and wonder why we are unique from all of the rest of nature. There is good reason why we have been creating religions and theologies for as long as human history has been around. We all know innately that there is transcendence—that there is more than the empiricist wants to see. There is choice because there is something to choose to believe in, or not. That question of choice alone begs the question . . . how could you know there is something to choose if there never was any such thing? God does deign to talk to us in various ways. But he won’t dominate the conversation (which . . . come on—a supreme being could not help but do if he were to step in overtly to any conversation you’d want). He is so big on humility that he insists upon not being the elephant in virtually every room that could ever exist. Instead, he insists upon allowing people to come to him. That’s the gist of why Jesus could say, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” God wants you to exercise your own will and choice that much. Though it could be for your own good (and who would know better), the Christian God will not heavy-handedly force you to him.

      As to hellfire . . . I think I already addressed how that is a distracting and biblically rare image in these discussions. It seems telling that you disregarded what I argued was more the point of any hell.

      //Any number of Christians (or Hindus) may think they have seen God, but there is no good reason to believe such claims, any more than we believe the claims of those who claim that Elvis is alive and living in Tibet.//

      If you have any remotely comparable documented evidence from hundreds of eye-witness, historically codified accounts of Elvis in Tibet (or of dragons, or unicorns . . . you name it), I’d certainly be glad to consider them. But for that matter, I don’t know of any Christians who claim to have seen God with their eyes (as if anyone would be so foolish as to argue that seeing actually is believing). Most of us claim we’ve encountered or experienced God on a personal level, in various circumstances. But as for biblical accounts that span centuries of writings by dozens and dozens of different authors, there is nothing from ancient history that can come even remotely close to the objective historicity of the biblical texts. That doesn’t make their teachings irrefutably fact . . . but they are certainly more observably true than anything else even remotely contemporary to them. (We have far better archaeological and historical evidence to the authenticity of Scriptures than we do of Plato or Socrates, who were far more modern than the Old Testament Scriptures.) The biblical texts are not absolute proof that science seems to demand. But they are far more objectively and observably true than any ancient history ever preserved. They should at least be regarded for the historical artifacts and literary and philosophical masterpieces that they are (certainly all of our best academic, ivy-league institutions do with their dedicated biblical and theological studies departments).

      //The antiquity, complexity, depth, and fame the Bible do not mean that we should take it at face value, any more than we do for the works of Plato or Herodotus. //

      I certainly wasn’t arguing for a simplistic “face value” interpretation of anything. I’m actually a strong advocate of understanding the Bible in the context that it was written, for the audience to whom it was written. You cannot understand the Bible accurately (or as I think God intended it) by looking at it through mere Western American filters, for instance. If for no other reason than it was written in ancient, foreign languages, we cannot just take our modern English translations at simplistic “face value.” But that doesn’t mean we can’t interpret and understand its intended truths, just because we have to work a little harder at it.

      //The choice between belief in (a) Christianity thus described, or (b) “nothing that we cannot see or touch,” is as false as the claim that love is exclusive to Christianity.//

      That was not the choice I invoked. That was the false dichotomy that the video proclaimed. I actually took some pains to specify the myopia of a particular world view (even suggesting it’s a distinct minority view): that of the empiricist. No one from my quarters is arguing those are the only choices.

      //I could go on and on, but this should suffice. Strangely, theologians are well aware of the falacious nature of such arguments, yet we keep on hearing them for some reason.//

      I’m sorry, but the only thing fallacious I see in this discussion so far is the apparent straw man arguments you seem to be invoking here. But please do feel free to go on. I’m glad to exchange more on this important topic. Because my purpose here was actually to challenge Christians to rid themselves of many of the false impressions we can be prone to raise up, causing the very false impressions to which you want to object.

  11. Blake, it is not only Evangelicals who believe in hell….it is present in my Catholic theology as well, but certainly not the way you or this sad little video imply. Hell is not a permanent tortured “time out” for anyone who dares break a minor “rule”, but rather the logical consequence of those who choose to hate or ignore God all of their lives, unto death. If one cannot see God throughout life, then one will not recgonize or choose Him when this life ends and the next begins. Jesus alludes to this with the story of the rich man and Lazarus the beggar…..and the great divide between them after death.

    As to the video….what cult or relgion is it referring to? The God I know of (in such a limited, human and myoptic way) is a God of crazy, passionate LOVE for every human being who ever took at breath! He lowered Himself to become one of us confined and cluless beings so He could show us what love looked like, even unto death…and RISING above the death of this “body” our soul walks around in for now. He can’t help Himself from running to hug and kiss us when we screw up (again) and come back to Him, half-heartedly and looking for a handout. He doesn’t even let us get out our apology first!

    So yeah, you would be an IDIOT to follow the ideas in the video. Glad to know they aren’t talking about Christianity!! :-)

    • The idea that non-Christians go to hell is common (though debated) among Evangelicals. (Jews are a special category, and may be an exception along with babies and those who have never heard the gospel.)

      Catholicism nowadays avoids making dogmatic statements about who will go to hell, and its theologians are quite prepared to consider that Gandhi (for instance) may be saved. So yes, much of the video would simply not apply to Catholicism (or mainline Protestantism). However, just because Catholic theology avoids Protestantism’s animus is not enough to save it from being fundamentally irrational and arbitrary.

      As an aside, if God tortures people for refusing to follow him (as you suggest above–I recognize that this is not a universal Catholic view), then he is a devil.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        As an aside, if God tortures people for refusing to follow him (as you suggest above–I recognize that this is not a universal Catholic view), then he is a devil.

        But the threat of Hellfire has always been a major factor in Altar-Call/Say-the-Magic-Words Salvation.

        “If you can’t love ‘em into The Kingdom, SCARE ‘EM INTO THE KINGDOM!”
        — heard on Christian radio in the mid-Seventies

        • In a similar rant, off-topic and out of control, I once heard a preacher say, “The King James Version is the only authorized version! The others are NOT versions; they are PERVERSIONS!”
          — heard on Christian Radio (TM) in the early-Eighties

          • The off-topic, out-of-control rant I was talking about was mine. But the one by the preacher kinda goes without saying…

      • “…if God tortues people for refusing to follow him, then he is a devil.”

        So the only just God is one that demands we ignore Him? Though He created the universe, He has no right to expect anything of us, not even to function as He intended? Did He owe it to us to create us in the first place, and then to leave us alone? Or, having created us, is He now somehow obligated to serve our will and keep us comfortable?

        • May I torture my child if it ignores my demands, or fails to function as I intended? Many would ascribe to me the duty of keeping it comfortable.

          • Aidan Clevinger says:

            I think a lot of the problem we get into is that we try to create a category called “good” and then fit God’s actions into that category. “Good” is simply whatever God does, no matter how it appears to us.

          • In that case, what is the essential difference between God and the devil? How can I tell them apart? Or should I just bow down to whichever one wins?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Or as JMJ/Christian Monist put it, “An Omnipotent God, but not a Benevolent one.”

            This is the road taken by Mohammed and Calvin’s fanboys. God becomes beyond Good and Evil, and can Will Evil on a whim, only WE are in Rebellion for calling it Evil. God’s Power and Will trump God’s Personality and Nature, and we have no choice except to be His prison bitch singing His praises and begging Him for more. He Loved Big Brother.

          • No, you may not torture your child. If you child insists in doing things that will harm him, is it your obligation to enable him, shield him from consequences, and graduate him into the world sincerely believing that it revolves around him? That would be parenting by Satan. When we ignore God, that is in itself the source of pain and misery, since we were created to live in right relationship with him, receiving his gifts and enjoying his benefits. But God will not force us: If we chose to reject them, he will let us have what we ask for. The orthodox Christian teaching is that sin, not God, is the source of all pain, suffering, and death.

      • You know what is even more offensive about hell…is the concept of thsoe going there who never heard the gospel becuase the gospel didn’t exist at the time!! So that includes members of the Kikuyu tribe in the Rift Valley of Kenya in 200 BCE. Someone in Wuhan, China in 100 BCE. When I was a fundgelical and drank the kool-aide at McLean Bible I heard once that there is no excuse for people to not know God. Can you imagine that? The gospel hasn’t even arrived in the part of the world you live in yet there is no excuse for not knowing God.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          That has been offensive to a lot of Christian thinkers over a long time. Medieval theologians wrestled with it, and came up with the theories of “The Virtuous Pagan” and “Baptism of Desire”, the clearest fictional type example being Emeth the Calormene from Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle.

          However, this idea does present a secondary problem: If such a Virtuous Pagan exists, would preaching the Gospel to him not cause him to lose his salvation of his Baptism of Desire? In such a case, would he not be better off not knowing? Maybe this has been addressed but I just never came across the solution.

          Another adaptation of this idea, specifically addressing the problem of unbaptized infants, was the theory of Limbo. Or the Age of Accountability, below which the infant has no concept of good or evil and is automatically considered Saved.

        • Well, there’s a difference between acknowledging that their is a creator at all and knowing the whole story of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Scripture holds the unreached responsible for the first, but not necessarily the second, with that verse in Romans I’m sure they gave you at McLean.
          It may be worth noting that the gospel has been known about since the fall of man. When God promised to crush the head of the serpent, that is all the gospel Adam needed to be a believer. Even Abraham was justified by faith, just as New Testament believers, many generations before Christ.
          I suppose that going off of HUG’s virtuous Pagan, if we could assume that were true, you might argue that should such a virtuous pagan actually hear the Gospel, he would accept it rather than become condemned by it. Just a theory on a theory. Perhaps Job could be considered an example of this?

        • There have been and continue to be a lot of believers who allow that those who don’t hear the gospel directly can still receive God’s grace and favor. Not too long ago Billy Graham had some comments along these lines about the wideness of God’s mercy. I found this very refreshing to hear and I think he’s right. Of course he got shredded for the comments by people like John MacArthur, but that kind of reaction is so predictable from some quarters that I don’t pay it much attention anymore.

          • What if you were to die tomorrow, and find out that Islam is the true religion? Assuming that you have heard of Islam, but avoided converting, would it be fair for Allah to send you to hell? I find this capricious and unfair, whether done by Allah or Jesus.

      • Not sure how you get “torture” out of this. Hell is the ultimate hindsight of seeing everything you could have been and all the love you should have given and recieved….and knowing it is too late to change your choices or your mind. Hell is built personally by humans, brick by brick, based on their rejection of all that is good and holy.

        Just like I don’t “give” my students grades……I just record what they have achieved. So God doesn’t “send” people to hell, they make the choice and have to live with results. The analogy breaks down there, though, since I don’t follow my students home, begging to do their work for them, and forgiving all poor grades if they just ask me to.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I would like to remind people that the image Jesus uses in talking about Hell — Gehenna — originally referred to the Jerusalem City Dump. His imagery seemed more of a Cosmic Discard Pile than a never-ending torture party — “Don’t end up in God’s Discard Pile!”

        • To make the analogy fit, you have to imagine grading your students according to criteria that have not been communicated to them very well (handwriting, perhaps). Perhaps different groups of students were told different things about how they would be graded, and not all of them believe that they are even in a class at all, since you, the teacher, are never around.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        However, just because Catholic theology avoids Protestantism’s animus is not enough to save it from being fundamentally irrational and arbitrary.

        I think most of the “fundamentally irrational and arbitrary” comes from having to pin down legal definitions for a natural reality that contains a grey area or no firm dividing line. Like how many facial hairs define a beard. Or what constitutes a “species” in biology. Legal precedent means it has to be defined at some point. Like when a dispute hinges on the definition and the authorities either Spiritual or Temporal have to make a decision which then becomes legal precedent. You have to define it to settle the dispute du jour, and then live with the side effects and secondary corollaries of that decision.

        It comes down to Legal definitions havnig to be much more precise (and often arbitrary) than the reality they’re trying to discern.

        • That is an interesting observation. I have sometimes wondered if Protestantism and Roman Catholicism both suffer from trying to see everything as a governed by a set of finely-tuned laws. Maybe we wind up with an approximation that is generally true, but rather absurd if you begin pressing the topic down to its finest points? I am not sure what the solution is to this — perhaps Eastern Orthodoxy can save us on this one.

          • topic = logic

          • Eastern Orthodoxy certainly has a mystical dimension which can be quite attractive, at least in theory, but this is bound up with a rather severe authoritarianism (political as well as theological). Pick any Orthodox country, and make note of the church’s political influence (which in some cases includes mass graves).

        • If the answer to “who is saved, and why?” is said to be incomprehensible, is that really an improvement over “legalism”?

      • Craig Bubeck says:

        Blake: as I addressed earlier, and as you can see from my original argument, so-called hell in the place of eternity is perhaps only by degree more severe than what goes on right now in the hell-on-earth that is the existence of so many people globally, and throughout history. The question of hell after death is meaningless if you do not consider this is our lot already in this existence, independent of God. You may be able to go about your daily routine blithe of the attrocities and brutalities and torture that millions are suffering around the globe . . . at this very moment. But why one should insist there can be no hell option in eternity when there is such here in this reality is beyond logic or reason. There simply must be choice to be independent from God, and that alternative must be hell. You cannot choose the alternative to life and have other than death. You cannot choose the alternative to light and have other than darkness. You cannot choose the alternative to love and have other than misery, suffering, and brutality.

        God could no more remove choice from volitional beings to love him on his side of eternity than he could on this side of it. To do so would be to deny our personhood–our volition, our choice. It would mean removing what makes us like God in the first place.

        There can be no such thing as love if there is no alternative choice but to love.

    • Songs for... says:

      :)

  12. Robin Vestal says:

    I certainly don’t believe that but it sounds an awful lot like some versions of Christianity that are out there. Last week heard a clip from a famous Reformed Pastor insisting that God Hates People. The teaching that God created everything and only selects some people (though no action of their own) to save and condemns everyone else to eternal torment (no choice here) and this is a good God …..sounds like this. Certainly no good news in this message.
    Luckily we hear from Jesus that we are loved and our only task is to love others as we have been loved. I don’t think people can hear that enough.

    • It’s not uncommon to hear Reformed pastors say that God the Father hates you or wants to kill you. Heck, I heard John Piper say that Jesus was holding back the Father from killing us all. It’s like they envision a good cop/bad cop scenario being played out within the Godhead. For the life of me, I can’t understand why people are attracted to that sort of theology.

      • This is my weekly John Piper rant. Can you imagine going to Bethlehem Baptist when the I-35 Bridge in Minneapolis collapsed and being personally touched by the tragedy. You have a loved one who died in the tragedy. Can you just imagine dealing with the grief…when you then HEAR YOUR pastor say God allowed this to happen to teach people to fear him? If that’s not a major WTF I don’t know what is. I can’t tell you how ashamed I am to state that I used to read and swallow muhc of his material. Jesus…I still feel sick.

        • Its okay if you go outside and throw up.
          We will understand.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          An I-35 Bridge incident actually cited in the Gospels:

          What about those who died when that tower collapsed in Siloam?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I certainly don’t believe that but it sounds an awful lot like some versions of Christianity that are out there.

      That’s what gives this video traction.

  13. Fascinating video! If we talk about the “T” in TULIP as a theological statement, most all reformed would agree with it. But, place it in a video, and it shocks people. I love the difference between seeing a statement as a detached theological statement and a dramatic video.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I love the difference between seeing a statement as a detached theological statement and a dramatic video.

      Just like Eugenics and Master Race Theory was in respectable mainstream science during the Twenties and Thirties — until the NSDAP actually did more than make a dramatic video carrying it through.

    • The video does NOT describe the T in TULIP whatsoever. Neither the doctrine of original sin nor total depravity teach that man, since he is sinful, is worthless. It is often implied by the mannerism in which it is preached, but as image bearers of God, men are infinitely valuable, sinners or not. The fall did not remove all worth from us, it just brought brokenness into the beauty of God’s creation. If the Mona Lisa had a hole poked through it, would it suddenly become no more valuable than toilet paper? I think not.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        The video does NOT describe the T in TULIP whatsoever. Neither the doctrine of original sin nor total depravity teach that man, since he is sinful, is worthless.

        BS. I’ve been on the receiving end of Worm Theology — it was very popular with BABBECs in the Seventies, and the scars are still there.

        * Convincing the mark that he is Worthless (with Hellfire as frosting on the cake) makes the perfect setup for going to The Altar Call and Saying The Magic Words. Like any sort of forced indoctrination, you have to break down the recruit to rebuild him in your image.

        * “WHEN YOU SEE A CUTE LITTLE BABY, GOD SEES A TOTALLY DEPRAVED *SINNER*!!!” — actual radio preacher I heard in the Seventies. (NOT J Vernon Magee, but the guy had a similar accent.)

        • I’m not arguing that you were never told that, but simply that it neither consistent with the writings of Scripture OR the confessional documents of institutional churches. Find me that in the Augsburg, Westminster, or Belgic confessions, the letters of Paul, or the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It’s not there, it’s added by manipulative preachers.
          Worm theology is popular in practice, but just because some preachers in the 70’s did a lot of damage with it, doesn’t mean it becomes the normative view for all Christian teaching on sin or depravity.

          • The normative, though, is meaningless for a lot of Christians who profess to be Calvinists. I’ve heard some very popular teachers who are Reformed articulate a view that pretty much leads one to the conclusion that in our unregenerate state we are worms, or we are useless.

            I think it’s important for us to evaluate the effects of theology on the ground level, not simply what it means to the academics who can articulate it in its pristine state. After all, if it can only work in theory, but not in practice, what good is it?

          • “The normative, though, is meaningless for a lot of Christians…”

            Might I suggest that therein lies the problem. And by no means limited to Calvinists. The “you are worthless unless you repent” schtick was actually popularized by revivalists seeking higher conversion rates, usually in the tradition of Wesley more than Calvin.

            The theology does work in practice. It just doesn’t attract glamorous celebrities and limelight. It is possible for a Christian community to base their faith and practice on their theology as it appears “on paper.” It just isn’t incredibly popular right now, because it is hard to sell to a consumer oriented culture.

          • I agree with Miguel on this. I went to a seminary (Trinity) where almost all the professors (and certainly all of the theology professors) were reformed. Nowhere was there any hint that original sin made us less valuable. If my daughter sins that affects her in many ways, but it does not remove her value in my eyes.

          • RC theology does NOT teach the doctrine of Total Depravity. That is Calvinism.

          • No, you’re right, Anne. However, I would like to point out that the consistent teaching of the RCC on original sin does not paint man as worthless either, as the video suggests. So neither RCC or reformed theology are truly guilty of the accusation made in the video.

        • Can you imagine how horriffic this neo-Calvinism theology is on people being worthless. I’d like to know…have their been Christians who were suicidal or dealing with depression, etc.. who hear this cancerous theological teaching. Does it contribute to their mental illness and has it played a role in suicide? I mean if you feel worthless and CJ Mahaney or John Piper are saying that are…why bother living?

          • Songs for... says:

            if a man heard and knew God to speak, “Choose Life” when he was near death
            And the man heard, and testified that he chose life…

            would you consider it to have been a choice of the man
            or a response to a command from the voice of the LORD?

          • “have their been Christians who were suicidal or dealing with depression, etc.. who hear this cancerous theological teaching. Does it contribute to their mental illness and has it played a role in suicide?”

            Yes

        • HUG, by worm theology do you mean Psalm 22, “I am a worm and not a man.”? But if that’s in reference to the crucified messiah, the sin analogy might not work.

          And what’s BABBEC?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            I think that’s where Worm Theology got its name.

            BABBEC = “Born-Again Bible-Believing Evangelical Christians”, a composite mouthful gleaned from self-descriptions.

      • I think that sort of teaching is around because people start the story with Genesis 3, and end with personal salvation. Rather than starting with a good Creation (that’s us).

      • The doctrine of total depravity is misunderstood. It does not mean that we’re all as bad as we could be or that we are all morally equivalent to Hitler (though it does mean we are capable of becoming that bad). It means that we are fully incapable of coming to God on our own.

        Still, it does seem to lend itself to caricatures. One of the reasons I’m not a Calvinist is that many of them put so much emphasis on the fall and crucifixion that creation is often neglected (even if they insist on a literal interpretation of Genesis 1), and so are the incarnation and the resurrection to a lesser extent. This isn’t universal though – Karl Barth had a very robust theology of creation, though you might say he was a “little-c calvinist.” :) So did Jonathan Edwards, suprisingly (there’s more to him than hardcore TULIP and Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God!).

        I would say that I basically believe in a modified sort of total depravity, though I’d add a few wrinkles and call it something different – really, couldn’t Dordt have come up with a different name?

  14. Sensationalism does capture the attention, but once you delve in, you discover a serious lack of depth and understanding. I had a good rapport a few years back with an atheist about Richard Dawkins’ book “The God Delusion”, and had very little success in convincing him that God was real. What we did leave the conversation with was a mutual agreement that Dawkins was little more than a huckster, picking and choosing scriptures and historical quotes completely out of context in order to provoke public interest and sell his books…kind of the same way a Christian would use a book title like “Your Best Life Now” to capture your attention, you know?

    The thing that made Dawkins lose credibility in this fellow’s eyes, ultimately, was when I had him look at Dawkins’ website. At the time, Dawkins was offering a “holiday gift package” of his books, promoting them as the “perfect gift for Christmas”. Now, we both understood that Dawkins was doing this in his own snarky little way, but the marketing technique, so often used by Christian authors, really helped us both to realize that Dawkins was not writing academic tomes, but really just wanted to put a buck in his pocket…in my words to this guy, “He’s selling snake oil.” His response to me was, “Well, maybe I like the snake oil…but that doesn’t mean I have to like the salesman.”

    I don’t like sensationalist promotions from either a Christian or atheist perspective…for every video like this on youtube, there’s 20 more about hellfire; judgement houses where teens get scared into believing, lectures by atheist “scholars” (A degree in science doesn’t qualify one as an expert on religion anymore than a seminary degree qualifies one as an expert on science) on college campuses (at $20 a ticket), they all smack of the same of the same insincerity, lack of credibility, and lack of depth.

    I recently encouraged a friend who struggles with faith issues, searching and wanting to believe in God, to ignore what was going on in the world around him for a bit, ignore the loudest voices, ignore the people in the media, quit searching for answers from people, and find God in silence and solitude. Sometimes we have to get out of Vegas and into the desert in order to find out what’s plastic, and what’s real.

  15. This song from B. McLaren seems to respond well to this video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSm0VyHGH40

    Peace, Brian

  16. Outside of the grace and mercy of Christ Jesus…God might as well be the devil.

  17. It kind of brings home the point that our theology does actually matter. I too have heard many Christians claim the ideas that the video talks about, and they do it unapologetically. So, yeah, while this might be a caricature to some, I think it’s pretty accurate in its description of other Christians.

    The problem with videos like this, at least in my opinion, is that it doesn’t offer any viable alternative either. So is the child just supposed to grow up to be a nihilist? I fail to see how that isn’t really the only viable philosophy in an atheistic worldview. The actual good news of the Gospel (not what this video is describing) is that history matters, Creation is good, people are priceless to God, and that Jesus is reconciling all things to Himself is a story I can get excited about.

    • One of the more solid viewpoints that is shared by many non-believers is secular humanism. It generally entails the belief that one does not need god to be good. Or, as Kurt Vonnegut Jr. put it “Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

    • Songs for... says:

      okay —

      “little help”

      girl walks into a shoppe and sees beautiful colorful fabircs
      the woman in the shoppe sees the girl and says to her face, words…
      “You’ve walked into a place of beautiful colors and fabrics — please,
      take your time and look around…”

      The woman circles around the fabrics and pulls one, and then the other
      to show the bright colorful prints… then she motions to herself showing
      that yes, she is wearing the fabrics.

      “We give lessons on how to wear these fabrics — look here, there are
      a number of ways to wear the colorful fabrics…” and she shows a… blue print (if you will)
      “…colorful, hu?” she says to the girl. “And, we’re having a sale. if you buy two, you get the third
      one free.”

      the girl considers and remembers. she thinks, “there’s a lot of inventory — they’ve got to
      move the fabric… and the only “color” the woman is really interested in today is
      the green on the paper with the numbers, faces and symbols on it… the girl thinks about
      those who made the fabrics and the workers… she wonders if they wear the colorful
      fabrics they make, she wonders if they have enough green paper with numbers and faces
      and symbols on it. she things about color and is thankful for the show, and in her minds eye
      sees the colors around the workers making the fabric and wonders, “is it enough to live a
      quiet life and work with your hands…” she wonders about the crowd, the people…

      she wonders…

      if the woman did not sell the fabrics to those who had the green paper with numbers
      and faces and symbols on it… then how many people would not have jobs?

      there, at the shoppe, she thought about what she heard — 5000 children in the area near — near the very place
      that was selling the fancy colorful cloth — did not know where their next meal would come from.

      she thought…

      she wondered why the imported fruit…
      “all fruits and vegetables grow here — and there are many colors here…
      why, if fruit grows here are 5000 children hungry?”

      she turns and hears a man say to his wife, “Oh darling, this is a very beautiful cloth
      you would look so lovely wearing it.” and she smiles.

      she looks again at the colors of the cloths and prays…
      “Father, you make beautiful colors…”

      and she thinks of the children.
      and she wonders if that man who had a lot of green paper with numbers and faces and symbols on it,
      and his wife… who he said would look very fine in such fabric, would consider…

      and then she remembers that a lot of people want to “choose”
      and she wonders if real choice in life has to do with…

      the green paper with numbers and faces and symbols on it…
      she wonders if it buys colors

      she turns from the shoppe and looks to the hills
      and she sees so many colors

      “So well dressed…”

      “Yes.”

      She walks out of the shoppe, and she looks to the sky…
      “Thank-you for color and design in all you’ve created, LORD.”

      For her, for the girl, I mean, it has been restored…
      But some say, the way it is… it’s not good, not fair, not right…
      and more say, the way it is… it’s so the people will have something to do
      so they might get some of the green paper with numbers and faces and symbols on it.

      so… restored takes faith
      because maybe the lady who’s husband said, “you would look so lovely in that colorful cloth”
      might have to be…. lovely without it?

  18. Am I the first person who read this and assumed it was made by a Christian organization? (Granted, I didn’t watch the whole thing). It’s so pitch perfect as to what most evangelicals believe. Aside from the early “worthless” comment, which is a bit over the top, they could show this as part of a worship service and nobody would bat an eye. It perfectly reflects (a bit too perfectly) a certain strain of Reformed thought in the “God doesn’t speak to you” bit. Also, the bit about tithing/giving; it’s not really a harder sell than most places I’ve been put on their own congregants. And the bit about the Great Commission is genius (granted, that’s where I stopped watching). “I believe strongly in my belief in a mechanized belief system that brings me no comfort but demands I share it with everyone, so I’m going to…” It reminds me of those videos of Kirk Cameron ambushing people on the street and getting them to admit they’re sinners; same sick sensation.

    • Through the first minute or so, I assumed it was put out by a Christian group, too.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      You’re not the first. I had to wait to the closing credits to be sure.

      They didn’t even have to hold a funhouse mirror up to us. A regular flat mirror was enough.

      • Sadly true, from what I am hearing here from those raised or immersed in some of these “Fire and Brimstone” denominations or churches.

        I don’t know whether to feel guilty or grateful that I was spared this type of message in MY journey….

    • brilliantvapor says:

      It took me a good minute, too, to figure out if this was an evangelical or atheistic production. And I’m really not certain if the “worthless” comment is that over the top; like HUG, I’ve heard similar things from preachers talking about infants.

      • I guess infants are kind of like those who never heard the gospel in China in 100BCE. How can you make a faith decision if your age prevents that from happening? Are babies also condemned to hell. I’ve heard some fundgelicals say so. And it seems like the issue is getting worse with the resurgence of Calvinism.

      • We once had a family in our church that practiced corporal punishment on their infant because they believed her crying, etc. was the first signs of sin in her and that she was aware she was sinning. They’d been in a fundamentalist church before ours and that’s what was taught.

        • David Cornwell says:

          We have a relative (deceased) that attempted to cast a demon out of my 5 year old granddaughter who was always on the hyper side and couldn’t be still. My daughter walked out of the room in tears with her. This relative never understood, or would admit that she did a single thing wrong.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I’ve read horror stories like Vera’s. Can’t remember the name, but there’s some Christian Authority whose name is associated with that sort of attitude — and quarter-inch plumbing supply line (wielded so as not to leave marks).

          The most extreme of these end up with a dead kid. All in the name of Godly Parenting.

        • I still know people like that. It makes me sick.

        • “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”

    • I had to fast-forward to the end just to be sure it wasn’t a Christian production.

    • I did think it might be “one of ours” for the first minute or so, but certainly not through to the credits!

    • Craig Bubeck says:

      exactly . . . which is why I thought we’d do well to consider it.

  19. Interesting video. I think it is the view of a person who basically understands the Christian message, but hates and scorns it. I think she hates is the idea of Hell (whether that be an eternity of bad rashes, acne, and PeeWee Herman, or one of swimming in boiling lava). I think what she hates even more is the idea that this is what people deserve. The Bible gives a grim description of mankind, using words like helpless, without hope, sinful, unrighteous, unholy, ungodly, foolish, depraved, hypocrital, evil, wicked, useless (translated “worthless” by some versions), enemies of God, dead in sin . . . and many more. Pick any man on the street and tell him that he is these things, and I promise you that he will not like it. I don’t think that there is any way to say it pleasantly, try though we may. Before the Good News can be appreciated, the bad news must be comprehended. She has comprehended the bad news, and she does not like it.

    She does not like the atonement. “The responsibility is yours . . . ” has a ring of truth to it. (I am quick to agree with Craig that Jesus died of His own volition, and would add Isaiah’s words that “the Lord was pleased to crush Him” to show that God was the chief mover behind the atonement) She definitley understands that it is the sin of mankind that made all of this necessary. Instead of being grateful for the love, mercy, and grace of God shown in Christ Jesus, she is offended that the cross of Christ is necessary for her rescue.

    She might be more offended at the thought that bearing her sin, our sin, was the only difficult thing God ever did (that we know of). God is said to have simply spoken the worlds into existence. He defeats the “man of sin” with the mere breath of His mouth. The new Heaven, the new earth, the new Jerusalem, seem no more difficult to create. We shall all be changed in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet (does not sound very difficult for God). But when the Son of God took on the problem of her sin, our sin, He agonized in prayer in the garden, sweating blood, being deeply grieved and distressed. He begged the Father repeatedly to “let this cup pass from Me, if it is possible.” In other words, “if there is another way, please do it.” But there was not, and He submitted to His Father’s will. Bearing our sin was the only difficult thing that an all-powerful, all-knowing God ever did. That thought alone speaks volumes of the depth and gravity of our sin, and the amazing love of God that He would ever be mindful to the needs of His enemies. Is anyone really surprised that she is actually offended? I’m a believer, and sometimes I find myself offended!!!

    Paul said ” . . . we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness.” Her reaction is not unusual, as Paul said by the Spirit long ago. I believe we should be gracious to her and her kind, as the Lord is gracious to us. That would make us Christlike, and it would probably be the last thing she would expect.

    • Actually, the particular view of penal subsitutionary atonement you’re describing is very particular to a certain place and time, and it is actually a stumbling block for many people; but it’s not for the right reasons, in my opinion. First of all, it’s based on the assumption that the nature is God is closer to something of a feudal king whose number on priority is protecting his honor or making sure he gets what is coming to him. I just don’t see how that squares with the God of the Bible.

      The cross is scandalous, and it is offensive, but it’s primarily not these things to “sinners”. No, it’s scandalous to people who think they are good with God – the religious, the moralists and legalists. We’ve tried to make it so the cross offends everyone but us. At it’s heart though, the cross should still be scandalous to us. We should be aghast at the people the Father invites to the banquet. Recovering the Scandal of the Cross by Joel Green and Mark Baker is good book about this.

  20. David Cornwell says:

    This video may turn a lot of people off at the very beginning just for the fact that the “voice” is brimming with the same kind of piety that I’ve heard so many use in their “God talk. ” One earful and one is ready to punch in another station.

    The video does hit some sore spots though. And it makes us defensive. So we need to take notice and decide in our own minds what we think about the accusations. However, in the end, an argumentatively logical Christianity probably won’t win many people over. Only living with Christ in the power of the resurrection day by day has a chance. Then people will take notice. And try to leave the piety out of your voice.

    • You mean my dogged logic and sheer brilliance won’t convert people to Christianity??? How could you even SAY such a thing?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      This video may turn a lot of people off at the very beginning just for the fact that the “voice” is brimming with the same kind of piety that I’ve heard so many use in their “God talk. ”

      In other words, they got the Christianese delivery and tone down pat.

      • You are on a role HUG ;-)

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Remember the intelligence warfare principle of Disinformation?

          A good forgery can turn the mark against the genuine article. A good enough lie can inoculate against subsequent truth.

          • David Cornwell says:

            I love spy novels and movies.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            And a lot of “Spiritual Warfare” bears much more resemblance to Intelligence & Propaganda Warfare than the more widespread “Ooga Booga — DEMONS!” presentation. Hearts & Minds, Disinformation, agents & delayed payoffs.

          • HUG when you talk about demons I almost wish this could be animated and the Church Lady from Saturday Night Live would pop up, and say, “demons, demons…” :-P

          • Are you suggesting that this video is evidence of the truth of Christianity? :D Other religions are having similar discussions about their belief-claims, although the details are obviously going to differ considerably.

      • HUG, I am always and totally offended by the phrase “down Pat” ! :-)

  21. I think we need to recognize the fluid nature of theology and discipleship before we can be truly honest with a video like this. The fact is, Jesus treated people differently depending upon their own character and where they needed to be. Even as Jesus healed the sick and gave hope to the poor and confused and depressed, he also gave damnation and brimstone to the proud and oppressive. From this perspective there are many seeds of truth in this video. However, where it is dishonest is in its method. It takes only a single perspective on given issues, and cobbles them together in a way determined to make Christianity look as absurd and/or barbaric as possible. I admit that to anyone with even an “internet education” in theology this video looks amateur and ridiculous, but I think there is a good lesson for believers here. We can all fall into the trap of one-sided theology.

    • David Cornwell says:

      Dogmatic theology can be a very dangerous club. What you are saying, John, makes a lot of common sense.

  22. Craig,
    your response is indeed winsome. I like very much that it’s not argumentative and full of proof-texting.

    Friends, it’s all about hermeneutics; there is a line of interpretation that has led to where we are today. And secondarily, it’s about the disintegration of the doctrine of the Trinity (which many Evangelicals are noticing and pointing out), ultimately resulting in people having to get saved *from* God the Father. Two big reasons I headed East.

    I think S. McKnight’s new book is a ticking time bomb set under much of the theology of those Christians at whom this video is poking; of course, those who need it most are not likely to read it.

    Dana

  23. Listening to it made me think it was done by someone brought up in a Calvinist tradition who was turned off.
    The only thing they forgot was to tell the kid he was predestined for it.

    I think the thing to ask ourselves is could someone legitimately arrive at those conclusions?
    Is that the unvarnished message that some of us send out?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Listening to it made me think it was done by someone brought up in a Calvinist tradition who was turned off.

      Very plausible. You often find the greatest knee-jerk hostility in a former insider who “was turned off” and flipped one-eighty in the opposite direction while maintaining full intensity. Communism begets Objectivism.

  24. Aidan Clevinger says:

    Guys,

    I love this site, and I love the insight that the authors have, but for the past few months I can’t help but feel that the comments section has turned into as “let’s bash everything about evangelical Christianity” section. With all due respect, I don’t see much constructive criticism here. I don’t see much real effort to try and find a *biblical* solution to the problems raised by this video. I see a lot of personal venom being spewed, and a lot of quasi-pious condemnation of orthodox Christianity.

    I fully understand that the methods of contemporary Evangelicalism are faulty and sometimes dangerous. I agree wholeheartedly that we need to be proactively finding ways to combat this. But does that mean we have to doubt and criticize the faith itself? For that matter, I thought the Evangelicals were our brothers? I do not see evidence of that here. I see a depth of condemnation that is equal to the most Pharisaical Southern Baptist, all hidden beneath a veil of enlightenment. Granted, there is a place for polemics. The prophets were experts at this, and I don’t deny that rhetorical tools such as sarcasm can be quite useful in our defense of the truth. But we, like our Father, should only hurt in order to heal, should only tear down in order to build. Our end goal should be a deeper faith in Christ and His Word, and our motivation should be a genuine concern for the wellfare of everyone – even those who are spreading false teachings. I fear that in our zeal to be “different” we have acquired the same self-righteous contempt that we so despise in the Evangelical world.

    Shouldn’t we, before condemning others, first search our *own* hearts? Shouldn’t we first confess our *own* sins and proclivities? And when we do rebuke our brothers, shouldn’t we do so with love? I know I’m not part of the regular IMonk posting crowd, and I respect those who are. But I have to confess that I’m very uncomfortable with the things that I see in the comments these days. I think we all have need of repentance, particularly for embodying the same qualities that we elsewhere attack.

    Love,

    Aidan

    • David Cornwell says:

      ” does that mean we have to doubt and criticize the faith itself?’

      Most of the criticism here is not of “the faith itself” as depicted in the creeds. It’s criticism of how the faith has been twisted, turned, and distorted. These things hurt those in the church as well as turn away those on the outside. But, you are correct. We all stand in need of repentance and should be very careful about what we say, and how we say it. You will find this to be true, not only here, but everyplace Christians gather.

    • alvin_tsf says:

      amen. thank you for the reminder Aidan…

    • Dana Ames says:

      Yes, it’s true we tend to attack those characteristics in others which are the ones that afflict us. A good reminder.

      I think an excellent “biblical” corrective is S. McKnight’s new book, “The King Jesus Gospel”. Very thought-provoking.

      Dana

    • Aidan:
      You are right that one should examine his/her own heart 1st.

      I have learned to take some comments as being where some people are coming from.

      I may be wrong, but I do not assume that everyone here is coming from any one position. Some are hostile to Christianity, some are questioning, some are hurt, others strong evangelicals, some are Catholic, some are Anglican, some are Orthodox. But many are passionate.

      The problem is that civil religion in America in the form of some of Evangelicalism gets up to some pretty silly stuff that makes for a big target (I say that being critical of my own, I am 38 years an Evangelical). So someone new appears here and finds it is an atmosphere where it is safe to vent. It is my hope that they feel safe to do so, because some certainly cannot do it in their church.

      In the meantime, we trudge on, knowing that we will brush against one anothers buttons, and that is how it is in life. Some of what is said here bothers me, but like eating fish, take the good and throw away the bones.

      My honest to goodness hope is that after a while, each of us will arrive right where you have stated ‘looking at our own heart first’

      Thanks for your observations.

      • David Cornwell says:

        Like!

      • Also Like…..and please understand how badly hurt many I-Monks have been by lousy, hurtful theology, especially as it has come from smaller independent “Bible Beleiving” churches. They HAVE been taught the Gospel just like in this video, and it has damned near destroyed their souls.

        I do not have a dog in this fight, as I was rasied and remanin RC (with its own set of challenges and errors)…but I hurt for and with my brothers and sisters who are suffering from being told they have to earn God’s love and approval….and by the way, since they are sinners, they will ALWAYS fail in avoiding sin. It is a perversion of the Good News.

        And finally, I share my adopted hometown with Jerry Falwell’s Megachurch, School, and University, and one cannot turn around in this city without seeing, hearing, or reading of this organization’s philosophy and political agenda. It has made me shudder at times to see a good idea, presented often by good, decent people, go on to seemingly encourage legalism, a “happy-clappy” facade, and a message that indicated that prosperity=God’s love, and that all personal sins and failing are from people not TRYING hard enough. It is a foreign language to me…..I believe in a God of love who shares our suffering and holds us through it.

        So please don’t confuse correcting our brother’s errors with hate. But we must address theology and ideas that come from man or worship of the Bible alone, instead of God Himself.

    • Aidan, this is a nice sentiment, but it’s so far from the reality of this comment thread, I wonder if you bothered to actually read them.

      This site has indeed given birth to some venomous mudslinging, but this is simply not the case here for the vast majority of it. I really wish people who wanted to scold everyone for verbalizing disagreement knew the difference between “let’s bash everything” attitude and genuine, unvarnished opinions on real issues. People are actually struggling with this here, not simply trashing another’s point of view.

      Just one question- do you really see anyone “doubting and criticizing the faith itself?” Again, I don’t think you’re reading, just rushing to a conclusion. (For the Biblical solution you’re looking for, see Dana Ames’ comment about 2 comments above yours.)

      • I read every comment above and don’t think Aidan is so far off the mark. Clearly, there’s room for disagreement, and rather than suggest that people like Aidan & me just don’t get it, it might be more charitable to figure that our reaction simply springs from a different life experience, one also deserving of respect.

        Can’t speak for Aidan, of course, but when I come to iMonk to read the interesting and provocative articles, I bring with me no background of church abuse to overcome. My problem is almost the reverse, in that I suffer from a boatload of guilt for the way that my new post-evangelical perspective separates me from a local church community that, whatever I now believe its theological & liturgical inadequacies to be, has never shown me anything but love-Love-LOVE (so much so that I have not been able to break with them, and thus “inauthenticity” my current by-word). So when *I* read phrases like “drink the Kool-aid” and words like “fundagelical” (one person’s coinage, a legitimate reflection of his own experience, but now picked up and used by many others here), I will confess that I feel slapped in the face.

        Irrational? You betcha. No one who uses those words could possibly mean me or my home congregation any disrespect. And, I appreciate that the fightin’ words employed in the comments here represent real people’s real struggles with real issues. But we can be a tough crowd, and maybe not always in the 100% most positive sense.

        IMO, YMMV, *insert disclaimer here*

        • Of course you and Aidan have had your own experiences, and they deserve respect. No one is writing you off, just taking issue with it! Admittedly, people push the envelope further than usual here, and if you’re not used to it, it could be mistaken for personal attack. But when you accuse an entire comment thread of venom, not loving evangelicals (!), and throwing out the faith itself because of…I still can’t figure it out. Sarcasm? Intellectual critique? Sharp disagreement? I’m aware some have a different life experience, and you’re entitled to your reaction. It’s kind of self-centered to step in and tell everyone else to change, though.

          • Aidan– for whom I shall now stop pretending to speak, since I wouldn’t have piped up if his remarks hadn’t resonated with things *I’ve* been thinking for a while– implies that it’s not this comments thread by itself, but the cumulative effect of weeks’ worth of them which prompted him to weigh in. Maybe I’m squeamish, but I’ve also felt the “evangelical-bashing” vibe– not always, but at times– in the IM comments. And, I love this site, too, or I reckon I wouldn’t be bothered..

            To the extent that all criticism is a wish that something would change, I’ll cop; but I don’t see why that’s necessarily self-centered (of me or any other critic).

            This is why I generally lurk. :-)

          • Aidan Clevinger says:

            By “here” I was referring to comments in general, not necessarily to this specific thread (though I find elements of it here). I apologize for my generalization. Though I have to raise an eyebrow at the “step in and tell everyone else to change” remark. I wouldn’t dream of suggesting that people aren’t allowed to be hurt by negative experiences. One of my favorite things about IMonk is that it isn’t afraid to be real, that there are pieces about suffering from the self-righteousness of the American evangelical church. But I agree with Camillofan – seeing expressions like the ones mentioned just doesn’t seem right.

          • Aidan Clevinger says:

            I think I’ll let you speak for me a little while longer, Camillofan. :)

            The whole thing is similar to my experience with Fearsome Pirate’s blog. I absolutely adored it – he had a way of making theology accessible and real for me. But there were still times when I was uncomfortable with what he said. It’s the same idea here.

      • Ok, well I thought you were referring to this particular thread, which I read through and found mostly pretty interesting and balanced, though critical. I hear you, my tolerance is probably higher, but it can certainly swing in the over-critical direction, esp. on certain issues.

    • Matt Purdum says:

      It’s that I’m passionately committed to planting seeds, loving others, and drawing people to Christ, it’s all that matters, and evangelical Christianity has presented to the world this picture of Christianity that we see in this video, and the waters are so muddied, and it is so incredibly difficult to show others what Christ is really like and what Christianity really is, because evangelicalism has really presented a FALSE Christianity of legalism and politics and prosperity and hostility to others. I really believe we need to just tear down all the churches — and TV networks, radio stations, publishing houses — and start from scratch. A whole lot of people out there are convinced that all of us who are Christians have an inner-Fred Phelps within us. I just want other Christians to help me spread God’s love and stop scapegoating others and lusting for wealth and power.

    • “But does that mean we have to doubt and criticize the faith itself?”

      Why shouldn’t we be able to doubt and criticize the faith itself? What possible good would come of making this kind of doubt off limits?

  25. Well, I was very glad to see that it was produced by “Thinking Atheist” and not some Christian group. As I listened, I was quite sure that was going to be the case.

    I read a letter to the editor in my local paper today and he was comparing a Christian way of seeing the world as opposed to the Humanistic way of seeing the world and the way it was written, the Humanistic way seemed to be much more the way of Jesus to me. One example: “Christianity: Human beings are inherently worthless. They are born with original sin, and only by surrendering their intellect, desires, and will to said God can they attain worth and values. Willful disobedience to said God will result in ostracism and eternal damnation. Humanism: Human beings are inherently worthy of respect . Period.” That was just one of five points that the writer made.

    There are many days I want no part of the whole Christian “thing.” But Jesus keeps me within this often mixed-up, often-smug Christian gang. He has many ways of reminding me that I am no better than anyone else and in greater need than many. It’s just that there is so much “bath water” to throw out. Keep the baby. I haven’t been making it to Mass lately and even my quiet prayer time is less. That’s never a good thing. Pray for me, my dear friends.

    • Wow. I really hope the letter you quoted was a parody or a troll.

      • PS regarding humanism…from a website describing what Humanism is, I read, “Humanists are concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views. We work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society and maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature’s integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner.”

        Can I be a Christian Humanist? I know the answer to that…no. But I want to be a Christian who lives life in such a way that a Humanist may think I am one of them! I hope Jesus will understand. :-)

        • There is much that is good in what some humanists say. The 1st humanists were Christian.

          The only wrinkle I see is history. Human history is full of lots of bad stuff. And it has not abated!

          In our memory (or at least our grandparents) WWI, WWII, Pol Pot in Cambodia, more recently Rawanda and some of what goes on today in Africa (and for that matter individual crimes in USA and Canada).

          This speaks to there being a duality of man, yes, capable of greatness, and yes, equally capable of atrocities.

          The humanist only seems to see the greatness of man and believes that getting rid of religion will help (although it did NOT help with communism). Some of the Christians that rail on incessantly about total depravity and man being sinful/worthless don’t see the good.

          I tend to see that both are guilty of self-inflicted intentional blindness.

        • Humanism can of course mean many different things. In the Renaissance it basically meant “someone who likes classical Greek/Latin literature.”

          • I think you are right, the meaning has changed.

            In the vernacular today it really means that man is the sum total and answerable to no one else.
            Man is god.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Can I be a Christian Humanist?

          As I understand it, HUMANISM BEGAN AS A CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT in the Late Medieval or Renaissance period. It was a reaction to Docetism, Platonic Dualism, and other ideas/memes of the time which exalted Christ as God to the point they were forgetting His humanity. And elevated the Spiritual and Eternal over the Physical Cosmos, Heaven at the expense of Earth.

        • Joanie…John Piper has embraced Christian humanism. That one’s of the things he teaches I believe…

          • Thanks for your responses, Dan, Ken, Joel, HUG, Eagle.

            As I read further on the internet about Humanism, I did run across “religious humanism.” And that is interesting, Eagle, that Piper has embraced Christian humanism. I am not really a John Piper “fan;” I am more in the Roger Olson group. But perhaps Piper and I could have the Christian humanism in common, depending upon what Piper means by that.

            I just landed on a blog called christianhumanist.org and on 10-3-11 the writer (Nathan Gilmour) is saying you can download Piper’s book called Think for free, if anyone is interested. I also read there that they consider themselves: “Unapologetically confessional. We believe that denominations, creeds, and doctrine are important and that the differences between Christian groups are nearly as important as the beliefs that tie us all together. Additionally, we believe in the truth of the historical Christian message over and against the doctrines of other religions and philosophies. Unabashedly intellectual. We believe that Christianity has nothing to fear from sustained inquiry and that the truth will always survive whatever attacks it undergoes in the Marketplace of Ideas.” The three writers of the blog often differ in beliefs from one another, but they find it interesting and challenging to continue talking with one another and learning from one another. I like that.

          • You have it confused with his “Christian hedonism”, actually.

    • JoanieD,

      To me sometimes Mass is like going to the gym – sometimes you just don’t want to go but you go anyway – kind of like a place holder so you don’t get out of practice. Because sometimes its just getting in the door and feeling that peace, even if its only for a few minutes that may pull us out of that dry place….

      I know sometimes we all pile on to the negatives of Christianity. But to me there are just too many positives.

      Yes – right now the world paints us as intolerant, mean cruel and non-inclusive. I just don’t see it that way. I am to love my neighbor, not segregate myself to be with like people. I am to plant seeds but not beat people with the Word. I expect to fail but work on doing better the next time (and not justify my bad behavior which has probably caused someone else grief). I agree there are forms of christianity that are segregationists and very judgemental – but then that’s what happens when you let individuals decide where to go…

      But the humanist way of thinking makes everything relative, no right and wrong and eventually that just causes individuals to become too inward focused on their own needs – and then the love of neighbor goes away. It seems the benefits of Chrisitanity is obscured when most live comfortable, materialistic lives.

      Hang in there JoannieD, and go to Mass!

  26. One more Mike says:

    Honestly and truly, until the end of the video, I thought it could have been produced by either an atheist organization or “grace to you” or its ilk. I wouldn’t have been suprised either way.

  27. creepy. appropriate for Halloween though. the contrived drama, tone of voice, setting is used successfully in SciFi/Fantasy movies (e.g. The Golden Compass) where the tone of the voice of the protagonists are meant to be eerie & mechanical & simply eeeeevil…

    funny though all the effort+energy goes into the anti-religious propaganda. i would think atheists simply unmoved by any religious or mythical anything. if they are so enlightened & the joke is on the rest of the world, shouldn’t the by the most accepting, patient, respectful of others???

    but then i am also reminded of other ‘camps’ that really do believe they do have the ultimate truth & all other belief systems are merely elaborate deceptions and/or silly notions. they treat others with contempt/indifference & pride themselves in being enlightened…

    guess all camps, peoples, belief systems subject to that pesky characteristic of pride… :(

    • And I really do NOT understand,why militant atheists spend SOOOO much time and energy trashing something that does not exist! (..”the lady doth protesteth overmuch…”)

      I mean, for example, I do not believe that aliens visited the Aztecs in prehistoric times and taught them astology before zipping back to the planet Zogg. But, I could not care less if someone else wants to think or believe this. I don’t, and it is no skin off my nose if someone else does. I don’t fell compelled to write anti-Zogg books, debate hwho are sure Zogg visited earth, or make anti-Zogg visit videos.

      Soooo, there must be much more to militant Judeo-Christian atheists and their motivation. They NEED others to agree with them, and I have not a clue why.

      • Perhaps because they live in societies where Christian groups enjoy a considerable political power, and go around trying to convert people. Very likely, they are angry at having been raised to believe such things.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        And I really do NOT understand,why militant atheists spend SOOOO much time and energy trashing something that does not exist! (..”the lady doth protesteth overmuch…”)

        Some of it is what I said above — you get obsessive hostility like that in someone who was once an insider, got burned, and flipped one-eighty from total blind adoration into total blind hatred. I have seen this dynamic in Furry Fandom regarding a lot of Pathological Furry-Haters. You end up with someone just as “fundamentalist” but in the opposite direction. Communism begets Objectivism.

        • i can see this response then if those that once believed & have been deprogrammed now are on a crusade to expose the sinister cult/plot/brainwashing they had either subjected themselves to, or were raised in it without choice…

          then they start a blog/web site with the obivious “X” this or Ex that with testimonials & horror stories & all the bad stuff that happens without being in the usual media spotlight…

          so, yeah, i can see why their new found cause is in response to a past they feel robbed them or fooled them or took advantage of them mentally, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, & they are now on a crusade to storm the castle walls & make sure everyone unaware of the sinister mind games now can think for themselves without outside influence…well, like theirs anyway… ;)

      • donalbain says:

        Are schools trying to teach about planet zogg? Are there major political figures who say that only people who believe in zogg are protected by the constitution? Is it impossible to get elected to high office if you do not believe in zogg? Are non believers in zogg widely mistrusted by believers who make up the majority of society? Are people trying to pass laws based on their understanding of what zoggians would want?

  28. I think many atheist think that christians, or at least evangelical christians believe what Jonathan Edwards preached, back in the 18th century. Edwards, famous for “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” and the quote that “the road to hell is paved with the skulls of unbaptized infants” is someone who it is easy to remember. The transactional theology seems to jive well with modern television preachers (remember that very few atheists will spend a Sunday in church services to see what theology is like from people who aren’t blowhards), so while this may look like a caricature, of christianity and a bad one at that, this is not far from the face of Christianity that many atheists see.

    • Jason, I was thinking of Edwards’ sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” too, but had decided not to open it. But now that you have…

      Nowhere in that sermon is the phrase, “The road to hell is paved with the skulls of unbaptized infants.” Or even anything like it. I did a word search of the sermon (click Ctrl-F) and the words “skull” and “unbaptized” aren’t even used. I know the search works, because the word “hell” lights up the page like a field of fireflies. Oh yeah; he was dead serious about hell. Pardon the pun.

      In a google search, the phrase is everywhere “attributed” to Jonathan Edwards, but nowhere does it give a reference. I looked at several sites, most of which are message boards or blogs that keep repeating that Edwards said it. And, in a paper that looked otherwise scholarly, it didn’t give the reference either. It also appears in an AP US History flashcard site, attributing it to “Sinners in the Hands of…” even thought it ain’t to be found there.

      It may be that Edwards has got a bum rap on this one.

      And although you’ve quoted the exact words that are all over the internet, I’ve always thought that the quote that begins with “The road to hell is paved with…” is capped with “…good intentions.”

      I found on a few sites that the quote comes from John Calvin, or from Dante’s Inferno.

      Another version has it that St. John Chrysostom said, “The road to hell is paved with the skulls of erring priests, with bishops as their signposts.”

      Now that we’re getting into Catholic saints and Dante, this is beyond me. MARTHA? Are you there?

      Anyway, not to let Edwards off the hook (or perhaps to put it into perspective and GET him off the hook), the sermon can be found here:
      http://www.jonathan-edwards.org/Sinners.html

      • St Athanasius said, “The floor of hell is paved with the skulls of bishops.” He said that at the Council of Nicea where the Divinity of Christ was being contested by the Arians, led by Arius. The statement in the Nicean Creed “Consubstantial with the Father” or “One in Being with the Father” regarding Jesus’ nature came about because of Athanasius’ commitment to the True Doctrine of the Holy Trinity.
        St John Chrysostom, (“goldenthroat”) is also credited with that statement. He was noted for being a powerful preacher.
        The writings of both of these Fathers of the Church are easily available on the internet and well worth reading. Amazing, engaging, challenging and inspiring. Make some popular writers that I’ve read (John McArthur, Piper, I could go on) seem like weak tea in comparison.

        • This may be a conflating of Athanasius’ (my favorite saint) quote with a purported quote of Calvin’s “We may rest assured that God would never have suffered any infants to be slain except those who were already damned and predestined for eternal death.” The source of that quote is Blasphemy: verbal offense against the sacred, from Moses to Salman Rushdie by Leonard Williams Levy, which was pulled from John Calvin, the Man and His Ethics by Georgia Harkness. Unfortunately, I cannot find a copy of the bibliography of the Harkness quote to check the source there. So it may simply be an attribution like Edwards’.

          • Jason, this sort of thing is supposed to be more common in journalism than in history, and there’s no good excuse for it in journalism. But once it’s out there (and the recent Mark Driscoll incident demonstrates it) it’s impossible to retract because good and reliable people start to quote the error.

            Email and FaceBook have accelerated the problem, with rumors and urban legends and “what Muslims believe and how they’re trying to destroy our freedoms” being recycled ad infinitum.

            So thanks for fighting the good fight against it.

      • You may be right. I’ve been searching through his various sermons and haven’t found the quote. I stand corrected. Thank you.

  29. Nick Carter says:

    Craig,

    I love this response for the most part, but I have a question: are you saying that we are not under judgment for Adam’s breach of the first covenant, only our own sins?

    Nick