A Rant

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233 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    I’ll be hiding in Chester’s bush if anyone needs me…

  2. Bam!

    Just getting this would do more for church than a thousand GOTV rallies for G-D and country.

  3. Michael says:

    Thank you, Warren… indeed it would.

  4. Paige says:

    Fabulous truth. Amen. Thank you…..

  5. Al says:

    Amen. You are a wise man and good man. Keep ranting.

  6. Al says:

    Warren, I don’t idolize men/women/humans….but I do have a Hall of Fame. You and Michael Newnham are in the Hall and it’s a very short list.

    Keep up doing what you do. I know you don’t make money from it like Greg Laurie or Franklin Graham who make MILLIONS of dollars selling Jesus and the Gospel….but keep doing what you do b/c it’s right. It is needed.

    You as well Michael. You guys are an inspiration.

  7. Michael says:

    Thank you Paige, thanks, Alex… had to get this one out… 🙂

  8. Jean says:

    I assume that the vast majority of the folks you’re hearing “America must repent” from are also peddling Mr. Pivot for President.

  9. Michael says:

    Jean,

    Some are…but the bigger problem is that we have repeated this cliche so often and with so much fervor that we think it’s biblical truth.
    It’s not.

    The biblical model for the people of God is a people in exile, not in power.

    Our job is to plant gardens and pray for the welfare of the place where we dwell…

  10. Dallas says:

    Thanks Michael, it’s absolutely a much needed message, and in my experience is one of the better idol detectors out there.

  11. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I will rant — America cannot be a Christian nation because it has not been baptized. However aside from that what about the claims that America has been blessed by God?

    What is the blessing? Yes we may live better than some other countries, but why is that a blessing? – is a little less suffering a blessing? – “I am going to bless you – only 50% of you will live in misery, depression, poverty, being infirmed etc.

    Look at our record with war and the massive death and injury tolls we suffer. Is America blessed? I’m going to go out and get tacos while you discuss this.

  12. Michael says:

    I think I listed the definitions of biblical blessing…

    Having said that, I try to believe that I’m blessed regardless of my circumstances…and our founding documents were genius.

    It’s a very good question…

  13. Judy says:

    Michael: You are so right. Thanks for the rant. Lots of people don’t like this kind of rant because it’s an anti-rant. Anything that tells the church to act like the church is an anti-rant and they are not well received by people with a personal agenda to keep the church acting like the world. Men who are building their own empires need causes and things to impassion and inflame their sheep.

    You’re such an agitator! LOL.

  14. Al says:

    America is not an Old Testament Theocracy, never was.

    The Founding Fathers were largely very liberal theologically, many were Deists and Secular Humanists. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find one Christian Fundamentalist in the mold of today’s Christian Fundamentalist.

    These men were well-educated, Pro-Science, Pro-Reason, they questioned the deity of Jesus, they questioned the “inerrancy, perfect accuracy” of the bible, etc etc.

    America was full of sinners then, as it is now. They drank, took drugs, had sex, some owned slaves (Thomas Jefferson), they abused kids, they cheated people, they did all the same things humans have done throughout human history just not as in-the-open as today.

    America is a great construct. The Constitutional Republic is the best form of Human Govt. in history to date. It helps keep sinners in check. Helps keep Powers in check. It does not remove the sin from the sinners.

    If we want to ‘repent’ of anything in America, we need to repent of the Republican Party going Big Government during the two Bush dynasty presidencies that brought us more Federal Government over-reach than any two presidents in US History. Let’s start by repenting there…..

  15. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    A whole lot of tension between Christians left and right could be ameliorated if, in addition to remembering that we live in exile, we also remember that if we’re reading the book of Revelation with some sense of history, the easiest way to understand the role of the United States is as Babylon the Great.

  16. Michael says:

    Judy,

    The Bible calls us to be “peculiar”.
    I qualify.
    Thanks for hearing me and amen…

  17. Al says:

    “the easiest way to understand the role of the United States is as Babylon the Great.”

    Babylon the Great, if there is any truth to Revelation, is the Global Economic SYSTEM…not one particular nation or country.

  18. Michael says:

    Wenatchee…you nailed it.
    I thought I was already pushing my luck, though… 🙂

  19. Michael says:

    Alex,

    I think Babylon represents what the Bible calls a “beast empire”.
    Empires always become beasts…

  20. Al says:

    Babylon the Great, as the Global Economic monetary SYSTEM we have today….will “Fall”.

    The World is collectively in over $100 Trillion in Debt and counting. Our Current System is one giant Ponzi Scheme of Debt and Credit that can never be repaid. We crossed the Rubicon in 2008/2009 to forestall a Systemic Collapse.

    The Powers that Be solved the last Debt Crisis by over DOUBLING the World Debt in 7 short years. It will blow up in time. My prediction is that by 2025 we’ll see the collapse of the Current Economic System.

    http://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/employment-and-growth/debt-and-not-much-deleveraging

  21. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael,
    “Having said that, I try to believe that I’m blessed regardless of my circumstances…”

    Kind of my point – are not the people in the Sudan equally blessed … regardless of their circumstances?

  22. Al says:

    America is not Babylon. America cannot “fall” on its own w/o taking to the entire Global System with it.

    That is thanks to Globalization and Global Economic Accords called the Post-Bretton Woods monetary system and era and the Banking Agreements that allow for Global Trade, Currency agreements, etc.

    Bank of International Settlements (B.I.S.) is the entity that facilitates this with Central Banks from all nations “cooperating” so we can exchange currency and buy and sell globally etc.

    It’s how our System works.

    If America “falls” …..the Global System collapses, dead on arrival.

    If China “falls”….the Global System collapses. Same for Japan, same for any of the European nations, same for any major nation that is part of the Economic System except for a Venezuela b/c Venezuela intentionally eschewed being part of the System so they can “fail” and not take down the rest of the World.

    Greece? Even a piddly country like Greece cannot “fail” or it takes the System down…b/c Greece is a part of the System. That’s why we keep bailing out Greece and never make them repay their debt. Greece knows they are “Too Big to Fail”

  23. Michael says:

    MLD,

    I’ll go ahead and stay in Oregon, if that’s ok… 🙂

    You do make an excellent point…

  24. Al says:

    IF there is any truth to Revelation as a prophetic word for real events to come:

    The Great Dragon is China.

    Babylon is the Global Economic System we have today (the Post-Bretton Woods economic accords and System that started Post World War II and then the Globalization that was agreed to in the 70’s, that went nuclear in the 80’s, 90’s and on steroids today).

    The Anti-Christ would likely be a Political Leader that emerges after a Systemic Economic Collapse who proposes the New Economic System and ushers in the next Global Accord and next World Economic System, likely in the form of a World Central Bank schema already being proposed by the IMF and World Bank (I read the minutes, they publish papers on this stuff, it is real, these are real discussions being had by Economists and players inside the IMF community…aka The International Monetary Fund).

  25. Xenia says:

    Great rant, Michael. Keep ’em coming!

  26. Al says:

    But Revelation is likely the drug-induced hallucinations of John of Patmos and while it contains some spiritual “truths”…it is likely not a Science Book or History Book or literal.

    However, the specific prophecy of “you cannot buy or sell if you do not take the mark” is pretty darn specific….and is Plausible after the Current Economic System we have today collapses….and New System is necessary to resurrect the Global Economy from the ashes.

  27. Al says:

    Good rant Michael, gone for the day. Don’t want to dominate.

  28. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    Babylon can easily be both a system and any nation that articulates the system. The U.S. embodies both the system and the military power to incinerate all life on the planet. So, yes, the United States is absolutely Babylon the Great both in terms of embodying the systems that govern the world and the greatest military empire currently on the market. The battles between the red state and blue state civic religions do not question the greatness of the American empire, only how best to restore the fortunes of that empire and how the power of that empire should be deployed.

  29. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    1 Peter 5:13 shows us the code word Babylon wasn’t just in Revelation. Thanks to that Jonathan Menn book Michael recommended years ago (which I recently finished reading) the use of esoteric codes and allusions is one of the tropes of apocalyptic literature (like Ezekiel’s subversive reappropriation of the literature of cultic veneration of Marduk in the Gog and Magog oracle, but that’s from another book). Thanks to a ton of research on ancient near eastern divination literature it helps us have a sense that Jewish prophets and priests who knew they couldn’t afford to write explicitly dissident literature “could” start doing weird esoteric rants that reappropriated aspects of pagan imperial propagandas as a way to criticize the empires they lived in in ways that could be mistaken for pagan influence.

    So while it might be appealing to Americans today to imagine John of Patmos was inspired by `shrooms, there are other ways of understanding how such an esoteric book came about. 🙂

  30. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    Al, I was considering proposing that we get the face-of-Babylon-role for now but that China might get it next.

  31. Bill says:

    This is exceedingly well stated. I couldn’t agree more, and with your permission, I will pass it on! Have a great day…in the bushes. 🤓

  32. Michael says:

    Bill…feel free and thank you!

  33. Kevin H says:

    “Christians can play a part in this… basically by acting like Christians.”

    Yes.

    If Christians consistently acted as Christians should, it likely would have a positive effect on themselves, those around them, and ultimately fan out to effect the country positively as a general whole. In a cultural and political sense, it could even make it more likely that people would support righteous norms and measures.

    But it would be a result of how people, individually and collectively, carried themselves. Not because some political entity repented or got right with God or decreed His righteousness.

    Or it is possible that if Christians in this country more consistently acted as Christians should and more consistently stood for and carried out righteousness, that they become even more despised and discriminated against by the culture-at-large. That they become a people in exile to even a greater degree.

  34. Em ... again says:

    when i was a child i lived in a big house and i went upstairs alone at night where it was dark and empty – i turned on the radio and listened to “the Green Hornet” and “the Mysterious Traveler” and “Love a Mystery” and “The Fat Man” and “Red Skelton” and my mother would say that i was going to warp my mind… maybe it did 🙂

    but nowadays there is no way that i will warp my mind by following social media … all that i know i learn from Michael’s peeps here

    Michael, to quote my mother, “you are going to warp your mind” lol

  35. Steve Wright says:

    The blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity….If one does not think liberty to be a great blessing, one should get out more.

    The nations of the world that are premised on our rights coming from God and not man is a very short list.

  36. Em ... again says:

    forgot to say that i was sent upstairs to go to bed and go to sleep … i wasn’t sneaking up there to listen to the radio … it was scary up there alone in the dark at bedtime

  37. The Dude says:

    Good rant.Thanks for a much needed reminder.

  38. Owen says:

    Kevin @ #34…..

    Your last paragraph , I think, relates directly back to the end of Michael’s post…..

    “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you”

    …..and I think there are a great many Western Christians who are too afraid of this.

  39. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Steve,
    “The blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity….If one does not think liberty to be a great blessing, one should get out more.”

    I do think these are blessing – from our founding fathers and their insight. Do you advocate that these are actual blessings from God? The reason I ask is that I do not see liberty in the Bible, let alone that God has said that it will be one of his blessings.

    Don’t get me wrong – I would rather have liberty than not — now my neighbors I would rather see them with a little less liberty because I find them annoying in the way they use their liberty. 🙂

  40. Ms, ODM says:

    Just watching the news brings a sense of doom and gloom. Only putting the bad and scary news reports into a biblical perspective gives one the security in the fact that God is sovereign and in control – He’s not asleep behind the wheel. Prophecy watchers don’t make up the dire conditions of the world — they interpret them. The promise of the rapture, Paul says, is how we comfort one another before we get thrown to the lions.

  41. Michael says:

    “Prophecy watchers” have to be inherently and unfailingly negative in order to embrace the narrative that things are getting worse and worse and worse than that.

    It’s simply an awful, unbiblical way to live.

  42. Dan from Georgia says:

    Skipped the previous 41 comments, so my apologies if this has already been mentioned.

    Michael PLEASE KEEP IT UP (in consideration of your health, though).

    I too am sick and tired of people like Franklin Graham and Anne Graham Lotz and others that keep saying ‘Murica is going to fall unless we repent as a nation (how can we as a nation repent when many/most are not able to repent due to unbelief?). Furthermore, what makes ‘Murcia so special? Keep up the good work and writings Michael!

  43. Michael says:

    “The reason I ask is that I do not see liberty in the Bible, let alone that God has said that it will be one of his blessings.”

    Thank you.
    This is not a popular statement,but true,none the less.

  44. Michael says:

    Thank you, Dan…I’m pacing myself pretty well and thankfully getting lots of help here.
    The last few weeks have been some of the best this blog has ever had,in my opinion.

    You’ve been part of that best,so thank you for that as well.

  45. Josh the Baptist says:

    Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

    2 Cor. 3:17

  46. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Ms ODM – “Prophecy watchers don’t make up the dire conditions of the world ”

    I didn’t realize that dire world conditions were the rapture trip wire. I thought it was something like “in the days of Noah” – you know when everyone was fat and happy – eating, drinking and marrying etc.

    Once again you show that ‘Prophecy Watchers’ are watching in the wrong direction.

  47. Michael says:

    Josh,

    If that is speaking of political freedom, then most Christians through most of history would be very confused…

  48. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh – I must say I have never seen a passage like that taken as support for our Constitution and the Bill of Rights – except perhaps a David Barton. Have you gone over to his side?

  49. Josh the Baptist says:

    Well, one would think if the Spirit of the Lord inhabited enough people, then there would even be political freedom.

    But my point is that there is some promise of liberty given to those who believe.

  50. Dan from Georgia says:

    MLD #47…that comment was golden!

    Michael #45..thank you. I don’t have Fakebook so I can’t suffer the stupid political opinions out there, but I have been tempted to get a twitter account just so I can blow off steam and tear some people a new one. But then I thought that that would make me no different than those I want to go after.

  51. Michael says:

    What sort of liberty is promised?
    My guess would be freedom from the bondage of sin…not Democrats… 🙂

  52. Josh the Baptist says:

    So funny. I just posted a verse of scripture. Didn’t use it for any purpose.

    I know very little of David Barton. I’ve only heard of him through his harshest critics. We usually don’t just blindly accept what they say.

  53. Josh the Baptist says:

    “My guess would be freedom from the bondage of sin…not Democrats…”

    I would agree, but when the Gospel is set loose it has a way of running through all the world systems. Because I am free, I want others to be free. It becomes contagious and affects individuals, families, communities, and nations.

  54. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    To even think that the verse could be preached in a socio / political way is serious Bible abuse.

  55. Josh the Baptist says:

    Far be it for a guy to post a single verse on a christian blog, with no commentary whatsoever.

    It’s Bible abuse!!!

    Burn the heretic!!!

  56. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh – If you were in our discussion about liberty, then the context was already set. Your comment was not some random ‘no context’ comment. You even said later you were supporting the fact that the Bible spoke of liberty – in context, political liberty – otherwise it had no place in the conversation.

    But to clear the air – do you see liberty in our nation as Steve presented it supported by the internal evidence of the Bible? and do you see political liberty promised as a blessing as Steve presents?

  57. Disillusioned says:

    The freedom Jesus talked about, “the truth shall set you free,” seems to me freedom of the mind and spirit, not necessarily physical.
    Our old CC had/has a very warped view of current events and, yes, everything that could be interpreted as “end times” was ramped up to ridiculous proportions. One guy actually told my teenaged son to not prepare for his future because he wouldn’t have one. Another guy got rid of his Christmas decorations because he was convinced Jesus was coming back before then.

    Neither of these guys acted like the church when we left.

    That, to me, is the main point here – how about instead of getting their undies in a bundle over politics, etc., the leadership of the church actually goes out into the world and loves people??
    Radical, right?

  58. Em ... again says:

    it may have been a bubble, but there never was a better time and place to live your life as a Christian, no matter the denomination, than the previous 200 years on the North American Continent … our ideals were the gold standard for conduct – i say ‘ideals’ because that is how the rest of the nation saw our Faith and it was respected … what nation has that view today? how long it will take for the apostasy to reach its conclusion, i don’t know – could we enter into a period of peace and prosperity worldwide?
    well… “in such a time as ye think not the Son of Man cometh” so maybe…
    Matt 24:42-51 are certainly good words for all of us… today the church economy is riddled with what is described

  59. Al (#6) – Thanks appreciate the encouragement…

  60. nathan says:

    ….Now if only my people who are called after Amerigo Vespucci, would just humble themselves and pray…

  61. Al says:

    Wenatchee, good stuff, I don’t disagree with what you stated and am familiar with those angles as well and have considered them.

    China would be next, except the collapse of the Current Economic System likely happens before China’s emergence as the new World Power.

    We’re so dang Globalized now that there really is no singular World Power any longer and we are so interconnected that if one major nation goes down, we all go down.

    Remember “Too Big to Fail”? Those were singular Banks/Corporations. A Nation in the Global System we have today is “Too Bigger to Fail” b/c of the Systems Derivatives and Bonds and Debt it issues. If one even small Nation defaults, the System is in jeopardy.

    We have to keep providing more and more debt to keep the Ponzi scheme going. That is the reality of our System now.

    That is why Babylon can no longer be a singular National entity if the Babylon Prophecy is not simply a metaphor or archetype but rather a literal “thing” to come, a literal entity to “fall”.

  62. Al says:

    “If” and big if here, b/c I really don’t know for sure and no one does other than God/Jesus himself/themselves….the End Times prophecies are yet to literally play out in a manner as described….

    and if what Ms. ODM says is the heart of the End Times crowd….that they are reading the news and interpreting it in light of God’s prophecies so as to comfort folks that it’s all part of God’s plan….

    Well, the End Times crowd needs new leadership then and new prophets to follow b/c every single one of your prophets sucks at being a prophet and is always wrong. Not “sometimes” wrong….always wrong. Even sports prognosticators are right half the time sometimes. The End Times gurus really suck at Guru’ing. Their record is laughable.

    Here’s what is plausible if you want to read Tea Leaves:

    1. The Global Economic System collapses in 10 years or less. I have high-powered well-connected friends in the Biz who claim sooner. I say it’ll take another 10 years to fully play out. Some say “NO problem! It’s a new paradigm! Things are different now!” I say b.s. and have been predicting this since 2008 after diving into Self-study of Macro-Economics and how our System works and how it came to be in its current form. The Powers-that-be likely run out of road to kick the can down in 10 years. They have a penchant for keeping the Ponzi Scheme going longer than you think they can and they still have a few tricks up their sleeves….but the End Is truly Near in that regard. Great Recession? Great Depression? It’ll be worse than the Great Depression when this iteration of Bubbles finally pop.

    2. The World will be DESPERATE for a New System and a Leadership to fix the Global Economic System. DESPERATE and scared. It’ll be a scary Crisis when credit cards stop working and the Stock Markets all crash etc.

    3. A new Leader or Leadership will emerge and convene the G20 Nations and a New System will be unveiled.

    4. The New System will likely be a Global Central Bank System and NEW Monetary Agreement with a World Trade Currency administered and regulated and monetary policy set by this Global Governing Body with G20 or similar Big Economy member nations with a Seat at that World Central Bank table voting on policy.

    5. All National currencies will be “reset” to this new Global Trade Currency which will effectively wipe out all National debts….but will hit consumers as “Instant Inflation” if the currency you hold (like a US Dollar) is devalued overnight to pay off the US Debt. Basically your Dollar will buy about 30% to 40% less overnight aka, Instant Inflation…but that wipes out the US Debt in one move….and same for the other National Currencies all which are backed by mountains of Debt and no real equity.

    6. You will not be able to “buy or sell” if you don’t participate in this new System. You either get on board, or you are outside the System.

    7. This “could” provide a singular Leader who some would view as the “Anti-Christ” or the “Anti-Christ” could be a Body of Leaders. Dunno.

    And, of course, this could all happen above and NOT be the Revelation prophecies at all. But the stuff above will likely happen.

  63. Michael says:

    We’re about to hit 110 degrees here…thankful that I live in the end times when God gave air conditioners…

  64. Al says:

    …and I’ve been consistent in those predictions above since 2008. I’ve gotten some stock market specific trades/calls right and wrong, but my Macro-Economic predictions not related to the price of the stock market have been spot on to date.

    My track record on Macro-Econ in terms of Trend and Policy Responses etc has been 100% and continues to be such.

    Still hard to guess how the stock market reacts to those things, it seems to eschew logic and reason and is very much based on emotions and not sound economics which is why it is so hard to predict. The stock market is like a paranoid schizophrenic with bi-polar and multi-personality disorder and a meth addiction. It is f’ing cray cray and not very predictable based on what it “should” do LOL

  65. Al says:

    “We’re about to hit 110 degrees here…thankful that I live in the end times when God gave air conditioners…”

    Hahahahahaha! Medford sounds like Visalia/Fresno. Yikes! I don’t tell people to go to “hell”…I tell them to “go to Visalia/Fresno/Medford in August!”

  66. Michael says:

    Yesterday was 108…the cats were in the bathroom shaving each other.

  67. Jean says:

    In the article, Michael wrote:

    “Every day, all day long, I read on social media that “America’s only hope is to repent”… or “America’s only hope is to turn back to God”.”

    Okay, I’m all for repenting; I repent every day. But as others have commented above, only human beings can repent, not political bodies.

    So, when I hear someone say “America must turn back to God”, I see a person who wants to blame others and get others to do something. What I would ask that person is: What are you going to repent of?

    America has a lot of challenges because, as a collective, we are all a bunch of sinners. Pagans don’t understand very much about sin and their morality can be relativistic. But Christians should at least know God’s Commandments on how to live. If America is going south and our country considers itself majority Christian, then Christians individually have a lot of repenting to do.

    So, anyone here who believes that America needs to turn back to God, take a look in the mirror and ask yourself, how your sin has contributed to America’s state and what are you going to repent of?

    You can’t make someone turn to God. You can turn to God. You can share God’s Law and Gospel with your neighbor, but God alone changes hearts.

    So, let’s repent of blaming the fictional “America” for our problems and lets repent of our sin. Then, let’s be good spouses, parents, children and neighbors. Let’s serve in our churches and in our communities, while repenting every time we screw up.

  68. Em ... again says:

    #63-pretty good synopsis of what we’re on the threshold of and fits prophesy, too – now if we see upheavals in nature such as 110 degrees in southwestern oregon, droughts, people all over the nation losing their homes to wildfires and floods, viruses that cannot be suppressed, and an earthquake that turns the Olympic Peninsula into an island and the power grid goes down…. and all our leaders are hiding under rocks (now there’s an idea) will it be a return to the dark ages or the end of the ages? dunno 🙂 dunno
    so many possibilities, so little time … err something like that

    any temperature above 98.6 is too hot … hope the nights cool down for everyone

  69. Em ... again says:

    “If America is going south and our country considers itself majority Christian, then Christians individually have a lot of repenting to do.” worth repeating… but
    most folk i know that want to see America “turn back to God” are really pretty good, honest souls; they’re just not well grounded in Scripture and scared – but i don’t follow social media so i dunno – again

  70. Jean says:

    So, what’s easier for Pastors to preach, from the pulpit and in social media):

    1) To my congregation, repent of your sin, your drug and alcohol addictions, your spouse abuse, your fornication, your slandering your neighbors and government officials, your lying and dishonesty at work, your failure to give generously to your church, your failure to serve, and your failure to bring your children up in the faith and help them with their school work; or

    2) America is going into the sh*tter, because of the queers and transgenders, liberals and government who are trying to take away your guns?

  71. Dan from Georgia says:

    Jean (71)…that’s easy…number 2…that is what I hear on Fox News, the Christian Post, etc all the time.

  72. Jean says:

    I think that if somehow America could deport all the queers and illegal immigrants, we would then see some definite signs of the end times, such as:

    (1) The shoe departments, hair salons and make up departments all across America would be totally boring. Who could endure it?

    (2) Landscaping in neighborhoods all across America would be totally unkempt. Who would stand for it?

    If you see these signs in malls and backyards across this nation, pack your stuff for the rapture.

  73. David H says:

    Good rant, Michael.

    I have, over the past several years, developed the ability to generally ignore the gloom and doomers. The sad part is, there are so many who are falling hook, line, and sinker for it.

    After spending way to long listening to the “end of the worlders,” I’m much better off for realizing that, for the most part they have no idea what they are talking about.

    The likes of Franklin Graham, even Gregg Laurie, and others, have created a state of paranoia amongst Evangelicals. And, I really mean, paranoia. Sure the world is a mess, but it’s been a mess for centuries. People have been slaughtering each other for centuries, “nothing new here, move along.”

    Why do people think its OK to turn over their minds to folks who’s only claim to credibility is a domain name, and clever web page. These so-called Christian, in many cases, turned over their brains to people who actually have no idea of what they speak or write. If David Barton is a historian, Daffy Duck is a genius. We (I use the term generically) have turned ourselves over to people who lack the qualifications to write comic books. Anti-intellectualism, which comes out of old school fundamentalism, has virtually destroyed Christian credibility. It’s like Evangelicals have set themselves to self-destruct, and are gleefully waiting for the end.

    When people like Jerry Falwell sold us out to the Republican party, we were in a world of trouble. To me, the new reality is that politics trumps faith, today. Many have sold themselves to a politics of expediency. There is a certain list of causes, and if a candidate claims to support those causes, no matter how unsavory, they get their vote.

    Now, to be fair, I’ve been around Phoenix Preacher since 2004, and count Michael as a friend. Michael has proven himself to be an able, and qualified commentator.

    I like where my faith is now. We are in a church that really reaches out to the community. We feed the poor, we provide clothing to the poor, we make sure that poor kids have school supplies. We try to live the Gospel message, and take care of people. It is wondrous to sit in a church where the kid next to me can come in and feel free to wear a “Slayer” tee shirt and not be invited to leave. Amazing things happen when God’s people do God’s work without preconceived false norms.

    My rant over.

    Thanks for letting me vent.

  74. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Why does it need to be one or the other? Why can’t a pastor address his congregation in both kingdoms if he felt the need?

    The conservative churches are capable of preaching both gospel and vocation.

    The liberal churches are not – almost all liberal churches have given up the biblical gospel totally and preach only your part in the civil kingdom,

    Why is the country going into the sh*tter according to the liberal? Donald Trump, guns, melting ice caps, guns, 2nd hand smoke, guns, Fox News, guns, Newt Gingrich, guns, not being able to abort up to the day of delivery, guns.

    You are all suckers if you continue to play this game. It does not matter who the next president is – the conservatives survived 2 terms of Clinton even though they predicted doom from day one – the liberals survived Bush / Cheney for 8 years even through all of their prognosticating doom and gloom – and now look, the conservatives have survived 8 years of Obama.

    Just go out on election day – vote for whoever you think best and when it’s over, pray and support the winner — even if they do not hold your position on guns.

  75. Michael says:

    Great stuff, David H.

    I think the thing that keeps me from going too far off the rails is having a comment section with such diversity.

    Those other guys live in a echo chamber…and that’s a fast track to lose your way.

  76. Michael says:

    Jean,

    Half of our world famous pear crop here will rot on the ground this year…not enough workers.
    It may not be the end of the world, but to may be the end of the orchard business for some…

  77. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    David H – “When people like Jerry Falwell sold us out to the Republican party,”

    Can you elaborate how you were sold out to the Republican party by a one church Baptist preacher in Virginia?

  78. Jean says:

    Michael, good point and addition.

    Which Citizens are lining up for the opportunity to work the orchards?

  79. David H says:

    Thanks, Michael.

  80. Michael says:

    Jean,

    That would be none.
    Picking pears actually is a skill set that takes time to develop…along with the strength to employ that skill carrying at least 50 pounds in 110 degree weather.

  81. David H says:

    MLD,

    What I meant was a generalization of Falwell, Reed, and the so-called Moral Majority. That voting block was huge until recently. They could, in reality, sway major elections in certain regions of the US. And, I’ll stick by the fact that folks were sold a bill of goods. Falwell’s big mouth was far more significant than his church at the time. When Falwell was at his prime I was not, even a Christian, I was in fact a well trained Marxist graduate student. But even back in the Eighties it was clear that Falwell was having a dramatic impact on the political climate. Hit his hot button issues his way and a politician was gold for him.

  82. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Pay them $20 an hour and I bet the citizens would show up.

  83. Jean says:

    Michael,, I notice the same thing in restaurants and dry cleaning.

    Who will starch your shirt and cook your dim sum?

  84. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    David H – I don’t ceny that but perhaps he was was swept in to be the leader of an already massive group of fed up Americans and he took the call to lead.

    But my question, were you forced to follow him later on or did you do it voluntarily?
    Liberal churches and their members were not swayed by him one bit. Why weren’t they “sold” the bill of goods?

  85. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    So Michael and Jean support slave like labor in order that you don’t have to starch your own shirts? Here, I will give you a 😉 so it does not shut down the conversation.

    Screw it, be willing to pay $3 for a pear at market and let someone make a living wage and not import brown skinned slaves.

  86. Michael says:

    “Pay them $20 an hour and I bet the citizens would show up.”
    If they could keep up they might get that…but if you don’t know what you’re doing it’s not worth paying for.

    By the way…these are not minimum wage jobs…the shortage of migrants has the wage somewhere around $15 an hour .

    One of the orchard guys here told me the average time of employment for a local in the orchards is an hour and a half…

  87. Em ... again says:

    FWIW – my kids (along with a bus load of other kids) earned summer money picking strawberries and cucumbers and it was hard work and that wasn’t very long ago as history unfolds – 40 years?
    where are the kids to pick those pears today – too dangerous to let them climb the ladders?
    there would be less poor kids needing free supplies to start school, if they’d let them work…
    back in the olden days – when we waded thru waist deep snow for 2 miles to get to school in May – we needed a 3 hole canvas ring binder and lined paper, a #2 pencil, a cheap, compass, ruler and protractor for math, a ballpoint pen (optional); the school provided the books and we carried them to and from stacked on our notebooks; oh and gym clothes in junior high and high school – nothing, but our lunches in grammar school, so i have to keep asking myself why do kids need a backpack and a calculator and their own laptop (?) and whatever else they put in there to go to school and to learn?
    i have grandchildren who are whizzes at math and science, but can’t write cursive or is it cursively 🙂 it is strange to think that will soon be a forgotten skill …

    that’s my after dinner rant to close out my day

  88. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Em, watch out – I can’t write cursive (or cursively)
    When I lived in France (1960 – 63) I had to write cursive with a pen that you dipped in ink and had to make the bold edges in the proper place.
    When I cam back to America, I thought it would be cool to write in all capital block letters – and no teacher stopped me – it is the way I write today.

    The kids do need calculator (you should remember the slide rule) and computers – we put away all the buggy whips years ago.

    But the part of working is true – all throughout high school I worked unloading trucks – I was probably as slow and out of shape as a white pear picker in Oregon – but after a while you got used to it — for $1.72 and hour.

  89. Em ... again says:

    aw come on … up here they pick those pears pretty green, so they’re not a very delicate fruit at harvest – who says white people can’t learn to pick pears? give the pickers pruning shears or something and put wagons in the rows, don’t make them lug the stuff …
    i don’t know what a bucket full of cucumbers weighs, but they weren’t light and the kids got paid by the bucket load – we had some bruised shins and all the kids were glad when the harvest was over

    i know OSHA won’t let us take chances, but sore muscles, bruises and sweat are good for the soul

  90. Michael says:

    The difference between a truck and pear orchard is that pears have to be picked quickly and with little damage…especially here.
    We grow regular pears…but we also grow the premium stuff you buy through places like Harry and David.
    Harry and David planted some of these orchards…

  91. Michael says:

    The positive is that every food bank in town will be loaded with fresh pears…they’re giving them to all those agencies if the volunteers will come pick them.

  92. Em ... again says:

    #89 – i’m having a contrary old lady attack tonight…
    well calculators are cheap these days and the schools ought to be able to get a deal on uncool desktop computers… it just seems like we’re wrong headed now…
    aah yes, the inkwell and the wooden pen with nibs – that was a right of passage from 3rd to 4th grade when i was in school … do you know that there was no such thing as a ball point pen until about 1947?

  93. Michael says:

    Trey’s school has Chromebooks or has the kids use their phones…yes, their phones.

  94. Xenia says:

    Em, I had a summer job picking strawberries, too.

  95. Jean says:

    I think some of you codgers (that’s you MLD) are so divorced from reality that arguing with your is probably pointless. But, before I drift off to bed, I will make one last observation:

    In most areas I’ve lived in the past 20 years, which have been more than a couple, kids don’t ride their bikes to school, don’t walk more than a block and adults deliver newspapers.

    As a nation, we the multi-generation citizenship is generally soft. I don’t care if you pay $20 per hour, here in the Midwest, you won’t find many multi-generation citizens willing to work in the meat packs. You could say the same thing about the fruit pickers, landscapers, cooks, dishwashers, dry cleaners, housekeepers, etc. Have you been to a hotel lately? Who is cleaning the rooms and carrying the luggage?

    It isn’t slavery. A lot of these workers bust their balls to give their kids a shot at college. Those kids bust their balls and get good grades and into programs that lift them up. Meanwhile, the multi-generational citizens are sitting around bitching and moaning.

  96. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Em, from what I can see with my grandkids, there are no books – the books are on the computers and many of the lessons are on web sites. The older kids (probably 5th-6ht grade up)need laptops or as my grandkids have, tablets to carry home.

  97. Em ... again says:

    #92-can’t think of a better outcome, but i don’t want the orchardists to lose their income – there is crop insurance where weather is concerned, why not insurance for picker droughts? 🙂

    i’ve been watching those huge bins full of the fruit loaded on trailers zipping around the orchards up here – it seems we’ve got somebody picking… Hispanics pretty much run the show in this neck of the woods

  98. Em ... again says:

    #s 94 & 97 i know that’s how they learn today, but it’s just not right 🙁

  99. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Jean, see you are turning into a codger also – “and adults deliver newspapers. ”

    What’s a newspaper? 😉

    I know what you are speaking of – when I lived in Riverside 30 – 40 yrs ago I hired a Mexican gardener (or is it an Hispanic landscaper now). The guy was good so I got my brother to hire him for both his house and his business and later my other brother.

    After I left the area 20 yrs ago, my brother kept him on all these years. He put all three of his boys through Standford law (OK, that’s a setback that they are attorney’s 😉 ) – but it was quite impressive on his part.

  100. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    You can tell I’m a state college guy – I can’t even spell Stanford. 🙂

  101. Jean says:

    MLD,

    From all appearances, folks around here are more concerned about financing a new F-150 than sending their kids to Stanford.

    But that’s a good thing, because Stanford is one of those liberal universities where Satan teaches. They are turning out evil geologists, astronomers, geneticists and the like, like there’s no tomorrow. I’ve heard that some of them are even teaching man made climate change.

  102. JTK says:

    Michael,

    Have you ever seen the movie “A Day Without A Mexican?”

    You’d get enough amusement out of it that it would be worth it.

    It’s lead to a couple of conversations around me.

  103. CostcoCal says:

    In my limited point of view on Dacebook, I’d find it enthralling if someone finally had the guts to proclaim that our culture needs to repent. It’d be fascinating and even refreshing.

  104. CostcoCal says:

    Or….Facebook

  105. Michael says:

    JTK,

    I’ll look it up…

  106. Michael says:

    CostcoCal,

    Another pious cliche that needs to go away.
    How can a “culture” repent?
    It can’t…

    We can individually repent, specific groups can engage in corporate repentance, (though even that is a stretch) but a amorphous thing we refer to as culture cannot repent.

  107. Erunner says:

    I can’t keep up with everything as the world is so fluid with things changing constantly. It saddens me to see what we all are capable of.

    I’ve had a lot to repent for in my life and I will need God’s grace in the future. I’m at a point now where I desire for myself to allow God’s will to be done in my life. That has been a huge stumbling block for me as I’ve consciously avoided things because I didn’t trust Him.

    I surrender all is a phrase I desire to see happen in my life and it’s a scary thing.

    If I get too caught up in politics and endless discussions they’ll hinder what it is God is seeking to do in and through me.

    As I read Michael’s article I realized the above is the application I would like to see God make. God bless each of you.

  108. CostcoCal says:

    Turning back to the Lord; be it a city, a family, a church, or a nation, it is valid and I shall pray for it.

  109. Julie Anne says:

    Michael, friend . . . Dude, what other rant are you hiding? This was so good!!

  110. Michael says:

    Julie Anne,

    Thank you, my friend… 🙂

  111. Michael says:

    Erunner,

    God bless you too, my friend.

  112. Michael says:

    Costco,

    Have at it.

    Far be it from me to tell someone else what to do with their prayer time.

  113. CostcoCal says:

    Michael….I’ll also pray the Niners win the NFC and not the Vikings. 🙂

  114. Duane Arnold says:

    Not so interested in the Anti-Christ… more interested in Christ.

    Not so interested in “Babylon”… more interested in discipleship.

    Thanks Michael… all truth.

  115. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Which lord do we turn back to? Probably a third of our nation does not believe in our lord – the Asians, the Jews, the Muslims, the Native Americans. the Santerias, etc. How do we force them to turn back to OUR LORD?

    This is the same reason I am against organized prayer in school – I don’t want some Muslim, Jew or Taoist leading my grand kids in a prayer to their god.

    I think we perhaps need to redefine what it means to be an American and perhaps try to achieve that.

  116. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane,
    “Not so interested in the Anti-Christ… more interested in Christ.”

    You wouldn’t go very far with the rapture theology crowd. 🙂

  117. Reuben says:

    Wow! I don’t come here much any more because I am going to see “Christian speak” and lose my mind, but wow!

    Even Alex and MLD are being rational!

    When “under god” was added to the pledge of allegiance, it placed god in control of our discourse, making it virtually impossible for the christian god to not take sides in all matters of domestic policy, and foreign relations. With god on our side, we have launched the middle east into outright war with us, and themselves. How is god removed from those actions, when god is the spine of those actions? Now we have two gods squaring off, ready to shed as much blood as possible, but god is on who’s side?

    As an anti-theist who hates your god, this thread is one of the most astonishing things I have seen come from christians in a very long time!

    Michael, bravo!

  118. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I love the guy who hates what he thinks does not exist. 🙂

    “I don’t believe a god exists and I hate him” is the battle cry of the atheist / the anti theist

    But Reuben – your point is well taken.

  119. Reuben says:

    Oh, there are tons of gods. I take the title anti-theist for a very specific reason. What gods do is my concern. So if the god of the Bible, the god of the Quran, and the god of the Torah is real or not is irrelevance. They exact evil on humanity, and this thread is a rather profound acknowledgement of that. When Christians can face what god has been used for to this degree, it is a spectacular step towards changing the power of religion.

    Reading some of these comments is so exciting, I want to cry!

  120. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “Oh, there are tons of gods.”
    How do you weigh a god? 😉

  121. Dallas says:

    Michael #7, I think our impulse so often is to go fire up the backhoe and start changing the landscape. Occasionally God does that, but the change we are more often called to its more like the drip drip drip that is coming from the hole in my gutter that I need to fix. Those little interactions that we have in our communities every day that add up to a change in the landscape (it’s slowly eating away at my retaining wall).

    We might be called to move mountains, but a lot of the time we are just called to smile, wave and say hello to our neighbor. The latter is far less sexy, and frankly for me often just as hard, but I trust that those little things can lead to change.

  122. Dallas says:

    How do you weigh a god? I’m thinking, in most cases, with your thumb on the scale.

  123. Em ... again says:

    wasn’t it President Eisenhower who added “under God” to the pledge of allegiance? i have no doubt that he intended the pledge to affirm the God of the Bible as the Being we could trust to keep the nation “one nation”… at the time i seem to recall there was a bit of a dust up among those citizens who didn’t believe in that God…
    “words, idle words, i know not what they mean”

  124. CAROLYN says:

    Great article

  125. Dallas says:

    Em, I thought that I had read somewhere that the “under God” in the pledge was a way of strengthening the ties between and obedience to God and promoting nationalism, trust and obedience to country.

  126. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I have read 4 biographies on Eisenhower – he was not much of a believer.
    Adding God to the pledge was strictly a play against communism.

    We don’t realize the lengths the US went through in a non existent fight against communism. When I was a kid the baseball team from Cincinnati was the Redlegs. I thought they were always the Redlegs – but I came to find out, no, they were always the Reds as they are today, but because of the ‘Red Scare’ they had to change the name.

  127. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Reuben, a question back to you – you said “When Christians can face what god has been used for to this degree…”

    Since when is the abuse of something a reason to reject it. Many things are good in and of themselves but get abused by people.
    There are several medicines that are wonderful and help people survive and gain great quality to their lives. Because some people abuse these meds and perhaps in ways get others addicted and crime ridden, do you stop taking the meds if you need them?

    Is there anything else in life that is real and good in itself, but if it gets abused you reject it out of hand totally? Or is it just God?

  128. Reuben says:

    MLD, I will be back.

  129. Thankful says:

    Denying a Nation or City can repent discounts examples such as Israel and especially Ninevah. As a nation, we may not be in covenant with God (e.g. Ninevah), but He does recognize nations and deal with them not as a collection of individuals, but through their leaders. So, we may repent individually, but that is by being related to God in covenant as a member of His Church. As a nation, city, etc., it would be up to the leadership to repent before God on behalf of their constituency and He would expect our compliance/obedience with them.

    God trends toward hierarchy, which is why ‘despises of authority’ are explicitly mentioned as not good. We (the people) would have two choices if the leadership repented, either agree or rebel. The leaders would be blameless as they followed righteousness, but if the people rebelled, they would be rejecting God collectively. If the leadership refuses repentance, the nation will have rejected God given authority, but individuals could still repent before Him thorough the Church (i.e. as a remnant) and obey their governing authorities.

    The concept of the Church Invisible as divisible from the Church Visible has kind of found itself in people thinking we can have a nation invisible divided from the nation visible. It doesn’t work that way; there is one Nation just as there is one Church, although wheat and tares can/do exist (though must not be pulled up/harvested early!).

    Think of the churches in Revelation; they were guilty before Christ of sins while there was simultaneously a recognized remnant that was blameless, but couldn’t repent for that church; the church as a whole, thorough their leadership had to repent. Same with the sheep and the goats; are they individuals or nations? Nations that practice righteousness will enter, but Christians in evil nations won’t be condemned because their Nation practiced evil and was rejected.

    What we can’t have, and where the confusion has come to the American church, is thinking that as the nation goes, so goes the church, or vice versa. There is the World and the Church, but a nation can honor God apart from the church by obeying His statutes.

    If a nation makes a vow before him (covenant), He can hold them accountable to that. The leaders are in the office of Authority. Ecclessiastes, better not to vow than vow and not pay. Whether our country as currently constituted has done that is open for debate, but the Puritans certainly did.

    As MLD says, there may (I posit there is) currently be a redefinition of what it means to be an American; whether we can ascribe to the new paradigm as a Christian remains to be seen (although being more counter cultural will most likely be the result for an Orthodox/Committed Christian, as the new definition is already miles apart from basic righteousness/holiness).

  130. Jim says:

    Obviously a good post, but this-“Every day, all day long, I read on social media…”

    Big problem, Houston.

  131. Michael says:

    Our Constitution was expressly written to oppose such a scenario.
    There is freedom of religion in this country irregardless of what the leaders believe or disbelieve.
    Which branch of Christianity do you want the leaders to belong to?
    Roman Catholic?
    Reformed?
    Lutherans?
    Free Will Baptists?
    Historically, when a city/state-nation/state “repents” it also belongs to one sect.
    Again, there is no NT model for any of this…people and churches are called to repentance, Rome is not.
    Israel was a theocracy, a nation directly created and ruled by God.
    America is not.
    We are… according to the Scriptures… a people in exile…and that is the single most important concept I want to get across in pieces like this.

  132. Michael says:

    Jim,

    Good to see you again! 🙂

  133. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Thankful – don’t you think it would be more critical that the Church repent? Why would a nation full of unbelievers want to repent if the Church refuses to?

    Your use of Revelation is to my point – Jesus was pissed at some of those churches who did not repent – lost their first love – joined in with the culture. He did not scold the culture – but he did the churches.

    Let’s first have the churches tun back to God and see if perhaps the culture will follow. However, I have a two word summary – Fat Chance

  134. Michael says:

    Our cultural Christianity is a blend of Scriptures and the the doctrines of Manifest Destiny and American exceptionalism.

    The latter two have nothing to do with the biblical witness…

  135. Michael says:

    Thankful,

    That was a cogent defense of the position, but I find it untenable both scripturally and in light of our form of government..
    The closest thing I can find in more recent history that approximates what some Christians want is Geneva…it failed long term and I don’t think most of us would have wanted to live there when it “worked”.

  136. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    how Americans handled manifest destiny with respect to Native Americans (part of my lineage) was part of why I rejected postmillennialism, aggressively, once I got a clear sense of what that doctrine is and how Americans have used it. It’s been too easy for some people to blame Manifest Destiny on Calvinism but you can find Methodists who endorsed it, too. I would say the larger problem was the American use of postmillennialism in general. Jeffrey Burton Russell’s little volume on order and dissent in the middle ages was a good sketch of how millenarianists tended to use their eschatological views as the basis for bids for empire. So, yeah, agreeing with your comments at 134

  137. Michael says:

    I think MLD has hit the sweet spot.
    We need a developed doctrine of what it means to live in a country you love while also being a people in exile.

    Evidently, plant gardens and pray for the welfare of the place isn’t detailed enough to prevent conflation of the two…

  138. Shy1 says:

    Thank you for saying this! I’ve had this argument with other Christians so many times; it drives me nuts.

  139. Thankful says:

    MLD, I do agree we are in exile and repentance is up to us in the Church which will in turn affect the culture; I am pointing out that as the Church, we can’t repent for the nation/state (i.e. the early church couldn’t repent for Rome, but Rome did eventually have a leader who repented for the nation), but calling on the nation to repent is not necessarily fruitless.

    However, I do see what Michael is trying to get across that our understanding of being pilgrims/exiles is sorely lacking in the current time. The current relativism is what makes any call to the nation fairly useless. I guess I don’t really comprehend the extent to which we have become enamored with the power of the state/politics. I will, however point out Paul’s dealings with various rulers (Fetus, etc.) was always in the context of presenting the gospel and preaching repentance to faith in Christ
    Not having one Church visible is something I’ve kind of been mulling over latley 😕, it does become part of the equation as you point out.

  140. Em ... again says:

    #126-undoubtedly adding the words to the pledge was inspired by “godless” communism… nonetheless it was the God of the Bible that was the focus… we hadn’t yet become a nation of immigrants from the countries whose gods were other than that

    there is a symbiosis between intellectualism and communism in general that i haven’t given much thought to, but i’m thinking that, should i get motivated to do so, i’d find that there have been studies showing their coherence in recent history

    obviously, i don’t hold the title of “intellectual” in high esteem – prefer learned, myself …
    2 Tim 3:1-9 seems fitting, even for those who declare we have been in the last days for over 2,000 years now 🙂

  141. Em ... again says:

    using the directions given to the exiled Israelites while in Babylon is worth some serious thought, it seems to me… worth elaborating on, perhaps? worth a post topic?

  142. Michael says:

    Em,

    I think it may become a theme here…I’ll move the priority of understanding exile way up on the article list.

  143. Reuben says:

    It is just god, if I am completely honest.

    I have injured my back very bad. I take narcotics for half of a month, and non-narcotics for the other half of the month, so I can keep myself from becoming an addict. My father died a methadone addict. I don’t want to wind up in the same mess.

    It is hard to justify saying god is abused. Mark Driscoll may be a relevant example of how abusing god works. However, what religion has done to humanity is mirror the actions of their gods. Wrapped up in benevolent omniscient grace and love, god taught humanity bigotry, hatred, genocide, infanticide, and most importantly fear. Subjecting humanity to this creates entire cultures and nations that justify the same actions with the same excuse of benevolent omniscient grace and love. It becomes a vicious cycle, because all of this is to be blamed on the fall of man. There is no way out of that system without pulling the carpet out from underneath the oppression, and reject god for who or what he/she is, a narcissistic psychopathic tyrant. If that happens, people see that they are capable of good or bad apart from god, so they own their actions, and they do so of their own free will.

    You talked about the Red Scare. Interesting observation that the war on Communism was really a war on nothing. I have been studying systems like that and found that I am very agreeable with Marxism. I was raised to fear and hate those things, and I never really knew why. It’s just what I was taught. I was to be a republican, because that is the christian thing to be. My mind was made up for me. This was all facilitated under the culturally based religion I was brought up in. Had I been born into a Jewish family, or a Muslim family, my thinking would have been structured accordingly.

    A large number of people in this country are racing for extreme Nationalism. When rational christians wonder why the bulk of those Nationalistic folks are christians, denying the very ministry of Christ, rejecting his very words, they do so with permission from the one true god who saved one nation for himself, and wiped out every ___ites that got in the way.

    Another massive portion of christianity is swinging hard to the left politically, and I believe this is due to rational awakenings. People are looking at what they believe, asking why, and shifting their perceptions of god to fit something that is actually conducive to treasuring humanity. I believe that comes from humans, not gods, and I hope I have explained why.

    Have you ever spent some time listening to what people who want to destroy us actually think of us? It is the same nonsense irrational christians spew about them. How they live, how they dress, their conduct, their beliefs, it is all so foreign to either side, and it is all based in religious upbringings that shaped entire cultures and nations. Nothing is untouched by the gods we are brought up with.

    When we step back and examine, rationally examine what god has done to shape our cultures, we realize that all we really have against Islam or Judaism or Christianity or any number of religions is what our particular “one true god” mandates. Without god, none of this filth permeates every facet of our lives.

    That is not to say there will be no evil. That is not the point.

    The thing Michael said way up there that just blows my mind to hear from even a rational christian is, “If your solution to our problems as members of a political entity is some massive spiritual “awakening” where the mass of the country decides you have the correct beliefs about God, then we are (pardon the expression) utterly screwed.”

    The very British Christopher Hitchens loved America, and became a citizen of it intentionally, because it provided separation of church and state. He wrote on this extensively, debated on it loudly, laced his passion for that separation with profanity to anyone who sought to change it. His premise being “Religion Poisons Everything”.

    I firmly believe if we remove god from this “One Nation”, we alter the motives of the political entity that we are.

    “I dream of a world where truth is what shapes politics, rather than politics shaping what people think is true.”

    Neil DeGrasse Tyson

    “Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it.”

    Christopher Hitchens

    Sorry for the length of that rant.

  144. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Reuben,
    to your first premise, Christians (fill in the blank for all the bad onesyou can think of) do not abuse God – they abuse the use of God.

    Just like you and your narcotics for your back problem – you cannot abuse the narcotic itself – you abuse the ‘use of’ the nacotics — both of these are very different than what you claim.

    then you say “A large number of people in this country are racing for extreme Nationalism. When rational christians wonder why the bulk of those Nationalistic folks are christians,” Well a large bulk of ‘them’ may be Christians – but by far the bulk of Christians are not them.

    Jesse Jackson / Al Sharpton Christians are not them. For the most part the RCC and EO are not them. Mainline denominations are not them etc – there is avery slim slice of Christians who fall into that category — very small — loud perhaps but small.

    But if you got sucked in and suckered by them in a previous relationship with the church, perhaps you are to blame and need to take that responsibility – say to yourself and others – “back then, I Reuben abused the use of God — but I now see the error of my ways and I have repented.” — but you have thrown away the good narcotics 😉 and this is America and you have the right to do that.

  145. Reuben says:

    No. It is god who gave them permission to abuse. I think you would like me to change my point, and I am not really up for that. Not up for a semantics debate either.

    I am well aware of what I did as a pastor. I spent quite a bit of time on the apology tour. I “abuse the use of” whiskey trying to forget.

  146. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Reuben, am not trying to get you to change your mind – I have never had anyone change their mind on any topic from speaking with me.

    I just like people to take responsibility for their own sh*tty lives. It is the one libertarian streak in me. 😉

  147. Em ... again says:

    one thing that i must give Reuben credit for is that he spotted the hypocritical, opportunists who’ve dominated the mainstream face of Christianity… don’t feel any guilt for “what you did as a pastor” – believe it or not, you’ve confessed (here and other places, i assume) and in doing so, you’ve been forgiven for that time spent pastoring 🙂
    you haven’t impacted the true Church

  148. Reuben says:

    MLD, I have said numerous times before, but not in these circles, that when people no longer have god to blame, they must own their own actions. That, in and of itself is a major motivator for humanity to start caring for itself. The problem is, god simply will not go away. As long as religion lives, it will create people who will do horrible things.

  149. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “As long as religion lives, it will create people who will do horrible things.”

    And who creates the people who do horrible things in the nonreligious community?

  150. Reuben says:

    A fairly pointless question for me, but for you, its a critical one. Your god undoubtedly created people who do horrible things. Its ok though, you don’t have to burn forever, just become something else. How does that fit with your libertarian streak?

    “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you would have good people doing good things, and bad people doing bad things, but it takes religion to make good people do bad things.”

    Steven Weinberg

  151. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    This is the point and then we can drop it because it is not fair to single you out – but… by your own testimony you admit that it you that did all the bad acts, that you were the one conning the crowd. By the say words you are saying that it was not God that did the bad, that God did not force any one to do so.

    People are motivated by their own self interest – your interest although not to be an abuser of God was that of power and ranking when you moved back east to work with Chad – total self motivation and then you became what you now reject. But God didn’t make you do it – in fact my guess is that God wept while you did it.

    Now to the people who sat under you and your abuse of God – well they were doing that for thir own self interest – instead of going to a tried and true church that preached the word and administered the sacraments properly chose to go to the cool hip church with the cool pastor and music just like you used to hear on MTV (OK a sign of my age, I don’t know where the music come from today.) – and because self interest was their only motivation, they too were burned.

    End of my rant.

  152. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Steven Weinberg may be a fine theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate in Physics but he is a terrible philosopher.

  153. Reuben says:

    MLD, I would not presume to know what god did regarding my desire to pastor. I know that you and I have quite a bit of personal speculation on the matter.

    Your assessment of Weinberg is to be expected. I stand by it none the less.

    Example: Let me ask you a question, that you don’t have to answer, it is simply to make a point. When your son was born, and you looked at the almost perfect child with delight, experiencing the overwhelming sense of love and protection, imagining his future and beaming with pride, did you also say that you needed to take a knife to his penis in order to make him absolutely perfect?

    This is the sad example of what the entire Christian life is. It is how Judaism and Islam work. It is how countless religions gain control over billions of people, and I am relatively sure that most, if not all of those people mean well. It does indeed take religion to make good people do terrible things. It is why I point to your god, and many other gods for the ultimate source of evil.

    Had there been no god in my life, there would have been no Chad, no Calvary Chapel, no apology tour, no beliefs that I have to challenge in myself to this day. Humanity would own itself, and that seems to be what you would like to say. Unless of course they are attending your church, where your one true god resides, and your one true method of worship is conducted, and I have to say, that is not rational.

    I don’t say that out of hatred for you, but rather the mentality you are made by your god sustain. I can absolutely say that because I know how sure I was of my faith, even when it transitioned from this to that at such a rapid pace, I couldn’t remember how to spell my new denomination from week to week…

    “…instead of going to a tried and true church that preached the word and administered the sacraments properly…”

  154. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Reuben – the circumcision of my boys was done strictly as a medical procedure. I was a non believer at the time and nothing came up about religious preferences. Christians don’t circumcise for religious purposes.

    “It is how countless religions gain control over billions of people” – who is this religious hierarchy that holds this control? Is there a ‘religion’ CEO? My pastor has a hard time getting majority votes in business meetings.

    ” It is why I point to your god, and many other gods for the ultimate source of evil. ”
    So, are you committing less evil these days. Can you give me a list of 10 things that the anti theist considers evil and tell me why they are evil? I mean in a world of just random chance and accidental happenings isn’t it just sh*t happens but you really can’t call it evil?

    ” and I have to say, that is not rational. ” You may have a point here. if God were just a smarter man then it does not make sense. But if God is on a higher plane perhaps the old Isaiah passage is correct “My ways are not your ways.”

    But remember, your ‘god’ Neil DeGrasse Tyson has compromised and filled in the gaps with his own irrationality – remember, his claim to fame is we are all nothing but stardust and nothing more.

    Go Rockies? a team of lesser stardust combustion. 😉

  155. Josh the Baptist says:

    Reasoning with Reuben has never been a worthwhile venture; not when he was a fake Christian, and not now that he’s an irrational atheist.

    But just to look at the incredible point that he has presented here, from his Oh-so-brilliant gurus…

    His point is that there is no God, and if it weren’t for the idea of god, people would do good stuff since they couldn’t blame it on god.

    Bur his point collapses on itself, because if God does not exist, then people created the idea of God to have something to blame their bad deeds on, and that in itself would be an evil act, even though people were having to own their own actions before the God invention.

    The point only makes since if one allows himself the strongest level of delusion.

    Besides, in that fantasy world with no God, who decides what is good and bad? Reuben decides, that’s who. If he decides you are bad, you are bad. He is good, regardless of any evidence to contrary. Anyone he doesn’t like is bad, and that’s pretty much it.

    Reuben sounds a lot like the fake god that he hates.

    Now, he’ll play the victim because someone spoke up to him, but he shows up here only to trash everything I love.

    Get saved Reuben. You never were. You were a fake. God is real.

  156. Reuben says:

    You are turning ridiculous, but I will chase one of your silly comments.

    Neil is not my god. He did not coin that phrase, Carl Sagan did. My god, if I am forced to choose one, and it seems I always am, it is Vagina, because it is the source of life, and without it, we do not exist.

    Since we are on the subject of silly pointless jabs, my Bible is Christopher Hitchens book “God is Not Great”, and Bill Burr is my favorite comedian. I am finishing a True Blood marathon right now, and that show is full of nudity and vampires and foul language. I have 5 cats, and I believe they are superior to humans in more ways than I can count out here.

    In seriousness, when you take to task the medical reasoning behind why you cut your son’s genitalia, consider science before you make such foolish decisions, and understand that religion poisoned that decision, as it poisons your desire to fix me even now.

  157. Reuben says:

    And Josh shows his true self…

  158. Josh the Baptist says:

    “as it poisons your desire to fix me even now.”

    Says the guy who is trying fix the world of its God problem. You are seriously delusional, man. You might consider getting help. Not Christian help, Professional, serious help.

  159. Josh the Baptist says:

    Ah, there’s the victim I’ve missed so much.

  160. Michael says:

    Well, we’ve now reached the end of civility, so I’ll call an end to this line of inquiry.

  161. Josh the Baptist says:

    And my colors have always been the same. I’m not particularly nice, and never have been. ( Maybe “m really a good person made bad by God?!?!?) But my colors haven’t changed in the least.

    You’ve changed personalities more times than I can count.

  162. Josh the Baptist says:

    Good grief Michael.

    You allow the posts that call God the ultimate source of evil, but scold anyone who answers. And I wasn’t rough on the poor fragile soul either.

  163. Michael says:

    I said enough.

    I’ve known Reuben longer and better than any of you.
    He’s never been able to fake anything.
    If you’d seen what he has seen in the name of God, you’d have issues too,
    I frankly only still believe by the grace of God.
    I don’t agree with where he’s at, but I will still love him where he’s at.
    This discussion is over.

  164. Josh the Baptist says:

    There is nothing slightly incendiary in what I or MLD said, but you gotta treat the one who trashes God constantly. CONSTANTLY. with kids gloves.

  165. Michael says:

    Josh,

    You called him a fake among other things…which I would call slightly incendiary.
    I’ve known him personally for years…and I don’t stop loving someone because they go a direction I don’t like.
    I care about him and his wife and his boy and that’s offline a real relationship.
    I let everyone respond…I won’t let the whole thread go completely south.

  166. Josh the Baptist says:

    SO he was a true Christian that lost his salvation? Turn in your reformed card Michael.

    And I’ll tell you again, you have no clue what I’ve seen, what struggles I’ve endured.

    And yes, I still love Jesus with everything that is within me.

  167. Jean says:

    Y’all,

    “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

  168. Josh the Baptist says:

    I love my wife. No one talks about her.

    Love my kids. There will be no bad talk about them.

    Love Jesus…trash him all you want, all day long?!?!?

    Nope. I’ll be banned before I sit silently for the god hating garbage.

    I love you Michael, but I won’t sit quietly for that.

  169. Michael says:

    I’m not going to argue with you, Josh.

    You can judge him however you like…I will only note where he is at this stage of the journey.
    I wasn’t talking about what you’ve seen, I was talking about what he’s seen…perhaps you are holier and more full of the Spirit than he and I and better able to weather life storms.

    People respond to trauma in different ways…I’m not going to judge him, I am called to love him.

    Your mileage may vary.

  170. Michael says:

    Josh,

    Then you do what you have to do.

    I’m dealing with a person, not a doctrine.

    Jesus told me I’m doing fine.

    Your mileage, again, may vary.

  171. Dan from Georgia says:

    Good points Michael about the whole Theocracy vs. secular nation differences. I WISH the nation could repent, but as I said before, with so many unbelievers, probably won’t happen. And I do kind of feel nervous when people want to talk about revival and getting back to God. Like you (not trying to earn points here, but this is how I thought about it before discovering this blog), I don’t want to see any certain creed or denomination in the forefront.

    Oh, and I also typed this comment in hopes of getting away from this bickering that’s going on here.

  172. Michael says:

    Dan,

    It cracks me up that the same people who talk about Geneva under Calvin as hell on earth are the same ones who want to baptize the country according to their own creeds…

  173. Michael says:

    The other thing that the cliche leaves without definition is what we are supposed to repent of.

    We’d all amen repenting of abortion.
    When we came to immigrants, Native American issues, and a host of other stuff….good luck with that.

  174. I thought Reuben and I were having a good conversation., Michael

  175. Dan from Georgia says:

    Michael 173…that is a scary thought.

  176. Josh the Baptist says:

    I’m not judging him Michael. He judged himself. He keeps saying he hates God, and he is anti-God. I didn’t say that stuff about him.

    Here’s what you said about what I’ve seen:

    “If you’d seen what he has seen in the name of God, you’d have issues too,”

    I’ve seen plenty, I have issues, but I love Jesus.

    I’m just allowing the guy to be what he says he is; a god hater. Unfortunately for him, God is everything I love. So if he shows up where I hang out, and trashes everything I love, how can there not be conflict? I don’t hate him. I only want good for him. I do want him to know the Lord, and if he has trauma issues, he should get some real help. No shame in that. But his current crusade is the most useless waste of time ever.

  177. Josh the Baptist says:

    It was my fault MLD, when you are a jerk, it is charming.

    When I’m a jerk everyone has to stop talking.

  178. Michael says:

    MLD,

    You were doing ok…Josh doesn’t want to be ok.
    Conversation over.

  179. Josh the Baptist says:

    See.

  180. Michael says:

    Josh,

    It has happened with regularity over the many years here, that people get utterly sick of me and move on.
    I do not fault them for that.

    I do fault those who are utterly sick of me that hang around to let people know how much they are sick of me.

    You seem to be having that queesy feeling about me…and that’s ok.
    Just remember I have a blog to run and only will allow so much conflict.

  181. Josh the Baptist says:

    Why would you say such a thing about me?

  182. Michael says:

    Josh,

    MLD challenged the ideas that were being presented.
    You went straight for Ruebens throat.
    There is a qualitative difference.

  183. Josh the Baptist says:

    I thought I was responding to Reuben?

  184. Michael says:

    So…despite the fact that this article is still being shared all over the place, we will close comments.

    I’m not taking up the weekend with this.

  185. Josh the Baptist says:

    @183 – OK. I’m looking back and considering that point.

    But why do you think I have that queezy feeling about you?

    I am a little miffed with Reuben, but don’t feel like I said anything about you.

  186. Josh the Baptist says:

    Don’t close it Michael, give me a minute to get my head straight.

  187. Josh the Baptist says:

    Reuben, if you pop-in to read, I apologize. I could have refuted your argument without getting personal, but I did, in fact get very personal, and I am sorry for that. It was not with any good intention that I did so. I was hoping to hurt you, and shame you.

    I do things like that because I am a bad person, with a bad temper, and I am not very intelligent to on top of all that. It’s like the perfect storm of badness.

    I hope you recognize my foolishness and allow the words to roll off your back and cause you no stress at all. Those words don’t even deserve the slightest consideration.

    I hope the best for you and your family. I will try to avoid any conversation with you in the future, because I am truly not best for you and your family.

    Michael, my apologies for dragging this fine thread into the toilet. I’m sorry to crap on your work. I will not be offended at all if you delete all my posts on this thread to get it back in line.

  188. Michael says:

    Josh, you humble me. Thank you.

  189. Josh the Baptist says:

    I wish I could exhibit the slightest bit of self-control. Thanks for your patience.

  190. Em ... again says:

    a campfire story about why there just might be a good God after all… (virtual campfire, because no campfires allowed where i am)
    “Suppose that somewhere back there everything was perfection. Suppose that there is a spirit world that our senses really don’t pick up on. A spirit world with one Supreme Being. The First Cause – whatever. I think there is. The older I get, the more sure I am of this.
    “Then suppose back there in pre-history there was a rebellion. Suppose one of these created spirit beings, to whom the Creator was pleased to give fantastic potential, advanced to such a degree that he challenged the Supreme Being. ‘I will be like the Most High God’ as the Bible records it.
    “Now the Supreme Being has a situation on His hands. If He just strikes the creature dead, He will prove His superior power, but not His Holy authority. How does He put a stop to this attempt at usurpation? Maybe, we are His solution.
    “With the rest of the hosts of heaven looking on wondering, ‘What will God do now?’ Maybe God chose to reveal His completeness, absolute holiness and justice against Lucifer’s claims to equality.
    “Maybe, we are the main characters in a drama being played out for the benefit of the unseen spirit world. Maybe He created or recreated a world with a perfect environment for His main players. Adam and Eve – Us.
    “He gave us freewill, but also the benefit of His counsel as He came daily to walk and talk with man. But during most of his day man was left alone, free to do as he pleased with full knowledge that he only had one little item that required unquestioning obedience: Don’t eat from that one tree over there. If you do you will bring death into your environment. Easy, eh?
    “Enter the trickster, that being whose ambition was to elevate himself to the level of co-regent with the Supreme Being. The Bible tells us that the serpent, whatever he was then, was a very beautiful and winning creature. He became the mouthpiece of Satan when he found the female, Eve, if you will, all by herself. And he got her doubting, convincing her that God really was making too big a deal out of this ‘don’t eat’ thing.
    “The trickster/serpent enlightened her: God simply didn’t want to share the magic fruit that would make her as wise as He was. What was the harm?
    “Did she tell herself that God would be pleasantly surprised? When He comes to talk with us we’ll be so much wiser that we can wisely discuss with, instead of just learn from, Him. Such a simple thing. It made sense to her to be smarter than she now was.
    “In her self-absorbed focus, she set aside her respect for and her allegiance to her Creator and she ate that one off-limits item and it was yummy and she told Adam, “here you take a bite.” He did and everything changed from that one test.
    “Maybe then Satan, Lucifer, Son of the Morning, came back to God and said, ‘I got em!! They chose to believe me and disobey You. They are mine, the planet is mine. The Game’s over! I won! Move over, Jehovah.’
    “Maybe then God said to Satan/Lucifer, “No – this is no game and we’re just getting started.”
    makes sense to me, but then i am old

  191. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Don’t miss it – Reuben said there is a god or gods — the just hates him / them because they are evil.

    I think all the materialists he quotes would laugh at him – but that is his stand. Reuben is wise enough to not deny what scripture says – that nature itself testifies to a god.

    I have always said about that verse, we can know 3 things from nature about this god-
    1.) he is there
    2.) he is powerful
    3.) he is pissed off

  192. Michael says:

    This thread is best ended.

  193. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I was just pointing out to those who said Reuben denied god, that he didn’t and that was a false charge. He said there are gods and made the distinction why some are atheists but he is an anti theist.

    But I will stand down.

  194. Reuben says:

    MLD has defended me correctly.

    Amazingly honest.

    I am an anti-theist, and I think I explained why.

  195. covered says:

    Nothing but respect Josh. You handled yourself well throughout your posts. Great example…

  196. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    The Cold War was conducted by two superpowers that, once you strip out the psy-op propaganda efforts of one of them, was technically conducted by two secular states. Anti-theism has some compelling points but if we eradicate theism we won’t eradicate the kinds of political ideologies and pragmatism that inspired people to invent nuclear weapons and actually use them. It just means that there won’t be any need to invoke a religious argument that our currency is backed by proximity to fossil fuels and if keeping that currency stable means engaging in military adventures overseas that’s what we’ll do. That’s not even a far-flung argument to make, it’s the majority stretch of this century discussing U.S. foreign policy.

  197. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    it’s hard to think of anyone more fiercely in favor of Gulf War 2 and the war on terror than Hitchens was, when he was for it anyway. Hitchens demonstrated for us that you don’t need formally religious beliefs to be dogmatically in favor of a pre-emptive war of aggression to defend the interests of an empire. The tragedy of Hitchens was that in this century he became a cheerleader for the kind of pre-emptive ideologically motivated military campaign he found so repugnant in the previous century when the Kennedy administration and Johnson administration began escalating our involvement in Vietnam. Somehow he still managed to find Solzhenitsyn to be one of his heroes, although it’s hard to blame him for his respect for Solzhenitsyn and Orwell.

  198. Reuben says:

    Hatchet,

    The formerly very anti-war Hitchens did indeed support the war in Iraq, among other things, a point every single critic of his grabs for first.

    Nobody but his brother really will ever understand why, and I assume you know clearly why his brother understood.

    As to your point that striping religion from the Cold War would have changed nothing, that is simply not true. Insulating gods from wars is as pointless as trying to figure out why Hitchens wanted Iraq so bad. Watching one of his last debates, with Tony Blair no less, is a tragic thing. One, because he had turned into a frail man, two, because he had more in common with Blair at that stage in his life, regardless of the content of the debate, which was frankly all he was still good at.

    When I (or anyone for that matter) say Carl Marx, the knee jerk reaction of most is to drag out the examples of socialism and communism that don’t seem to work. I have to ask if Marx was ever truly realized, and the conversation seems to end there, unless it is with a hillbilly who has the education of my 8 year old son.

    See, I am not bound to ideals like I was to theology. I also have a far greater tolerance for failures in actualization than I did as a Christian. Hitchens formulated all that exploded in my face when I was “losing my religion”. He has done that for countless millions of people. So for all his faults in political ideology (and I have no problem calling them outright faults) as his years came to an end, what he did for me was put to paper the staggering realizations of my god and my theology. He showed me what religion had done to me.

    I can not tell you how valuable that is, and I say that with trembling hands…

    Along the same lines, I can still respect you for your profound footwork on the excuse for a man Mark Driscoll, and absolutely disagree with your take on religion and the Cold War. I did not have that capacity as a Christian, but I am sure it is not a mutual problem.

  199. Reuben says:

    Josh, don’t worry about it.

  200. Reuben says:

    As to whether or not there is a god, I honestly don’t know. Science explains all that there is better than the christian god does. Dawkins and Krauss have blown my mind on this very subject, and as a good christian would say, those are mere mortals.

    I will say that if there is a god, it is not the one professed here. That god would have wiped us clean off the planet, and maybe the planet too, a long time ago. We all know his tolerance levels, we have debated it till we bled here more than I care to admit.

    I am an anti-theist because any god that has presented itself to me is less moral, less articulate, less tolerant, and less conducive to humanity than I am, and I am a very unstable person. They all seem to have similar goals though, and that makes me wonder if god is not created by very opportunistic men.

  201. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Reuben,

    “When I (or anyone for that matter) say Carl Marx,” – when you say Carl instead of Karl it makes me wonder if you have read actual books or just listen topodcast and don’t know the spelling difference? – OK, chalk that up to snark.

    “I have to ask if Marx was ever truly realized, and the conversation seems to end there,…”
    Have you ever considered the reasons Marxism has never been fully realized. I am going way back to my college days almost 50 yrs ago when this was a big topic because of the Vietnam war – and it was a real topic — not just some philosophical game you play in your head. Not all ideas are worthy to be enacted as they must all get around on important this – the nature of man. I said in a previous post that all actions people take are solely in their own self interest. Marxism could not, cannot and never will be able to overcome this. Christianity has the answer why … Hitchens and Dawkins do not.

    “See, I am not bound to ideals like I was to theology. I also have a far greater tolerance for failures in actualization than I did as a Christian.” This one does make my ears perk up like a sleeping dog when they hear a food wrapper being opened. Were you a Christian? How could you not have complete tolerance reading the words of Jesus? What are you to do if someone has a problem with you – go work it out. How often are you to forgive the brother who sins against you? 70 x 7 – which means an infinite amount to times. You throw up strawmen like no one I have seen do.

    I have read Hitchen’s book and I have read Dawkins’ book twice along with Sam Harris and found them uncompelling to say the least. They both (I will exclude Harris at this time) would have been better suited for this thread as all they do is rant. Hitchesns because the Muslims blew up the twin towers and Dawkins because some teacher touched his pee pee at a religious school when he was 12.

    Let me help you here – read someone else.Try Alister McGrath who has the same science degree from the same university as Dawkins and who also has a Doctorate in Theology. Here is someone who has looked at the issue from both side – not just navel gazing like many but actually doing the work. I do believe he has written much more extensively on these topics as Dawkins.

    OK, that’s enough easy Sunday morning discussion while I drink my coffee. 🙂

  202. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    One more thing that requires clarification – when you say; “I am an anti-theist because any god that has presented itself to me is less moral, less articulate, less tolerant, and less conducive to humanity than I am, and I am a very unstable person.”

    Do you actually mean that these gods have come and presented themselves to you (which is your wording) or that the god’s that have been presented to you by other people. There is a difference. Because if Jesus Christ had ever presented himself to you, I don’t think you would have made that comment.

  203. Reuben says:

    Most of that was a critique of how I wrote, rather than what, so I will chuckle it off save a few things. Hitchsns is typically spelled Hitchens, which makes me wonder if you have read him, or just listened “topodcast”…

    Which book? All three have authored quite a bit more than one.

    McGrath debated Hitchens, it was hilarious. You should youtube it.

  204. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “Most of that was a critique of how I wrote, rather than what,” I quoted exactly what you said and asked for clarification – you offered none

    “McGrath debated Hitchens, it was hilarious. You should youtube it.”

    I have watched them in the past. Hitchens to his credit debates everyone and everyone thinks Hitchens wins his debates because of his wit & humor, which covers for his lack of substance. McGrath on the other hand, although a bit dry goes to content. (and Hitchens has no scientific standing in these discussions)

    “Which book? All three have authored quite a bit more than one. ”
    Dawkins I read The God Delusion – The Blind Watch Maker – The Greatest Show on Earth which is his only book of the 3 that is not a rant.)

    Hitchens – I read only the God is not Great – but used to read him regularly in Vanity Fair – he was a hoot. The thing about Hitchens is he was not hateful. Dawkins, Harris and Dennet are just plain haters … but the make the bucks off it.

    Good discussion. Gotta go worship my false gods for a little bit this morning.

  205. Reuben says:

    It is interesting that twice now, people have questioned my former salvation, or lack thereof. Is that supposed to mean something to me? Sure I contemplate a bit what this means to my former soteriology, but it has no real impact one way or the other.

    Why is it important to you? Do you have to justify the notion that it was impossible for me to have been saved to begin with?

    I’m really curious about this one. What should it prove to me?

  206. Nonnie says:

    Josh,I really respect how you have handled yourself, when it was pointed out you had “crossed a line” in your comments. Well done, sir.

    Reuben, although I can’t agree with some of the conclusions you are currently making, I wish you and your lovely wife and child only the very best. God bless you.

  207. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    reuben, given the polemical components in histories, the more secular the United States become the more the retroactive impact of that process will show us that a secular United States will have to live with the use of the atomic bomb. What leftists who have condemned Hitchens may not appreciate, which Hitchens may have appreciated, is that individual liberty and liberalism can be more readily employed within the context of a stable empire rather than outside of one. It’s one of the miserable paradoxes of Anglo-American nation states–our geographic and political advantages have not been replicable but we’ve embraced ideologies through which we imagine that the ideological/political cart comes before the geographically advantageous horse.

    I wasn’t proposing that stripping religion from the Cold War would have changed nothing, I was proposing that once we factor in the usefulness of religion as part of propaganda in Cold War we’re still looking at a United States that did not have a formally instituted state church. Humans don’t need religions to start wars and religions have generally been catalysts to promote wars that have been about competition over resource scarcity situations. Just because religion has been one of the favorite catalysts for war doesn’t mean that wars stopped being battles over resource access. The more steadily secularist histories highlight how religion was not the prime mover in the Founding Fathers thought the way evangelicals would have it, the more directly the historical conundrum of our being the first nation-state to use nuclear weapons will force us to consider the instrumental pragmatism in our foreign policy approach.

    What I think Hitch may have gotten that left criticism of him may willfully avoid is that individual liberty in Anglo-American contexts may depend upon the stability of empire rather than be a natural result of it. This, in a nutshell, can explain his drastic shift in perspective on war and it’s a shift that won’t make sense to an ideologue of the left or right but it will completely make sense to someone with a capacity for historical study and a willingness to step back from the Cold War polarities that were in play.

    What separated Hitchens from neo-cons who shifted their perceived adversary from communism to Islamic terrorism was that he was obviously able to change his mind. He also was willing to do one of the rarest things to see in public discourse, to change his mind on the record and document that process. That was a useful example to consider as I found myself in the position of having been an advocate for what I believed Mars Hill was trying to do and reaching the conclusion that the whole thing had become a personal empire serving Mark’s interest that needed to reform or collapse.

    While Hitchens didn’t convince me to become an anti-theist (or an atheist) I respect that his approach, fiery as it generally was, hinged on polemics that were ultimately efforts to persuade. He wasn’t setting out to compel people. I took particularly seriously his criticism that one of the reasons the fundamentalists and demagogues cause so much damage within the realm of religion is that the moderates refuse to take them on from within.

  208. Reuben,
    I wasn’t questioning you salvation – you have made it very clear that you have rejected the notion that there ever was any salvation.
    What I was questioning was are you sure you were ever associated with Christians as you say you had no tolerance for people’s faults – and I pointed out that working out problems and forgiving one another are hallmarks of the Christian faith.

  209. Reuben says:

    MLD, that’s not actually at all what I said. “I also have a far greater tolerance for failures in actualization than I did as a Christian.”

  210. Reuben says:

    But I am still seriously curious why that is a question you want answered. What does it prove to me?

  211. Reuben says:

    Hatchet,

    He certainly was way beyond a typical history buff, and I dig your hypothesis.

    “I took particularly seriously his criticism that one of the reasons the fundamentalists and demagogues cause so much damage within the realm of religion is that the moderates refuse to take them on from within.”

    It is something that rare people like Michael have set out to battle numerous times, proving yet again that even the most opposite people in ideology can rationally hammer out things that are obviously counterproductive to the institution as a whole. It is in the best interest of everyone, globally, regardless of the base religion or lack thereof, to eradicate demagoguery from religion.

    Both campaigns here in the United States are fear driven plays on virtually nothing at all. Sort of like the “Red Scare” again… Nobody is going to have their guns taken away. Nobody is going to repeal Roe v. Wade, or cancel gay marriage. The FDA is not going to change the classification of marijuana. The country is not going to deport millions of people. Islam can not be banned in America. There will be no wall. But people are losing their collective s#!t over these things… and I watched both conventions with that lens on, and feel ashamed of our electoral process. It would almost be funny if it was not so sad.

    Excellent thoughts Hatchet. Thank you.

  212. Reuben, what you described as a wicked God who had presented himself to you – the lack of tolerance and forgivness you showed and were shown before your anti theism enlightenment sounds more like you were involved in some bastardized form of Islam than it does Christianity. My question was to help you clarify your confused past.

  213. Reuben says:

    Do you think it would have made a difference? If I was a better Christian, went to your church and took your communion? Would there have been more steps, better ones, things that would have prevented god’s tears over what I did in my life?

    Because that really gets to a fundamental flaw in your religion. We have had this conversation long ago, drawing out what it meant, “I am of Paul, I am Apollos, I am of Christ…”

    It really is a level of arrogance I recall I had, and that you display now, and begs the question, how Christian is that of you? Because your speculation on what I was sounds like you are speaking from some bastardized version of radical Islam.

  214. There is no “how Christian are you.” You either are or your not. So, where you?

  215. Reuben says:

    Thats a question you need to explain to me. I don’t comprehend the value of it. Lets just imagine I was a Christian, get to your point.

    One of the things said here by someone else, and repeated by almost every denomination I have ever been a part of, is this “One True Church” nonsense. And I call it nonsense. Over 2,000 years of debate, everything has changed from epistemology, soteriology, ecclesiology, and even systematic theology, and there are far too many corners of your heaven or hell filled with people who battled out those things to claim that this nebulous one true church is still on the march. What is it? Its arrogance of stature with god.

    Again, is it yours? Would I have been “Christian” had I been at your church, with your liturgy, and your communion?

  216. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Reuben – I never said you weren’t a Christian – I asked you if you were a Christian.
    Believe me, I am one of the few who believe you can be a full on Christian and walk away from the faith.
    My question was by how you defined Christianity – which no Christian in the 2,000 yr history of the faith has eve described it. So based on your description of the god you say presented himself to you as evil (and all the other things we discussed) you have a strange way of stating who you were.

    Look, in the end all you have done is have a change of mood and go from being one kid of theist to another. You were previously a pro theist and today you are an anti theist. What I don’t understand is since you totally reject Christianity, why do you get upset if someone questions what you already acknowledge – you gave up your faith and any salvation attached to it – thousands I am sure do it everyday.

    To answer your question simply – “Again, is it yours? Would I have been “Christian” had I been at your church, with your liturgy, and your communion?.” – No -unbelief is unbelief in any Christian setting.

    But that’s good enough – I am going over to the Weekend Word thread to see what is over there. 😉

  217. Reuben says:

    Ok, now you are making no sense at all. But I am not feeling upset. I don’t think you are either.

    Quite a few people here, including you, know who I was. Since I lived my life in the first person, I am pretty clear on the many things I believed, and the many things that I changed my mind on. I was thoroughly convinced that I had landed in the best place for me when I was catechized into the Anglican faith. I even shared that journey here. You all watched while I slid into a very liberal form of Christianity, adopting some very heretical views, being red letter only, and then some other strange stuff. You liked to chime in on that quite a bit as I recall.

    What I know is this, any region of the faith I ran to, or ran from, was a failure to me, and it took some time to figure out why. I was convinced I could keep Jesus out of that mess, and preserve a sense of attachment to him regardless of where my flailing led. I could not overcome my questions. When it dawned on me that I was a slave to a system that was always going to kick me around some more, I made a conscious decision to question god. That is really all it took.

    I am sure it is not hard to imagine how easy it is from that point going forward to eventually consider that god a tyrant. I need only base that on god’s own “word”. If he is real, he invented and instituted the greatest atrocities on humanity that there have ever been, and ever will be. I find it increasingly difficult to understand why Christians can’t seem to acknowledge that, but it is what it is.

    However, there are what I would call “good Christians”, and as Michael is my witness, he knows I believe him to be one of them. And I thank him for allowing me to rant here for as long as I have.

    Good talk, MLD.

  218. Jean says:

    I would like to take this thread in an entirely different direction, or at least add a different direction which might be more edifying to a larger audience.

    What does everyone think of the proposal that the American Church as gone “post-biblical” or “post-God’s Word”?

    This would be nothing much to consider if I were speaking of the mainline liberal churches, but who I am aiming at is the large number of conservative evangelical type churches, who profess to be following biblical Christianity, but in reality have progressed beyond it into post-biblical Christianity.

    Instead of theological depth based on the historical orthodox doctrines of the faith, this new post-biblical Christianity emphasizes:

    (1) emotional experience through praise music, personal testimonies and charismatic experiences.

    (2) political activism.

    (3) end times eschatology.

    (4) vision casting leaders.

  219. Dan from Georgia says:

    Jean, good question to ponder. I see those four elements in play in today’s church, especially in certain strains of belief, such as Fundamentalism (end times eschatology), Pentacostalism (emotional experience), and Evangelicalism (political activism).

    Care to explain what you mean by “vision casting leaders”? That may apply to a certain strain of faith expression.

  220. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Reuben, just so you know, none of my statements were solely personalized towards you – but you were the only one in the conversation holding that position.

    All I can say is that materialism has its own set of failures and misleadings. The invention of the multiverse being an example.

    But carry on with your journey.

  221. Jean says:

    Dan,
    In the OT paradigm, the Levitical priesthood stood in between God and his people. In the New Covenant, the curtain was broken, giving everyone direct access to worship God in Spirit and Truth.

    But in some of the modern evangelical churches, the vision casting pastor has become the modern “priest.” He has the vision for the church and everyone has to follow him. In this paradigm, the focus becomes the pastor. The church rises and falls on the pastor and people pledge their allegiance, implicitly, to the pastor. Jesus and His Word no longer head these churches in a practical sense.

  222. Reuben says:

    Oh MLD, you must not tease me like that! Haha!

    Multiverse is a theory developed to challenge the standard model. Nothing more. Don’t turn it into a Red Scare! The discovery of the Higgs Boson at the LHC threw a slight wrench into that theory, but people with actual credentials, like Krauss, are working on it.

  223. Dan from Georgia says:

    Jean, I understand your explanation. Thanks. Do you see this in certain denominations and such?

  224. Michael says:

    Jean,

    I’ve already said my piece…if I wasn’t a pastor, I wouldn’t be in church here.

  225. Jean says:

    Dan,

    I find it astonishing that Driscoll had one of the largest (if not the largest) multi-site churches in America, yet when he left, almost immediately the whole church (20,000 per week in worship) closed. How could that happen in a Christ led church?

    I saw a video posted here around a month ago, by a junior pastor at Skip Heitzig’s church. It exemplified the vision casting pastor paradigm. If you haven’t seen it, you might ask Michael for a link.

    What do you think would happen to the ministries of Osteen and Warren if they suddenly stepped down?

    I just think that a large swath of the American church has lost touch with what the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but certainly does not see it “alone” as the power unto salvation.

  226. Dan from Georgia says:

    Jean, good points about those churches. I was kind of thinking along the lines of megachurch and “mega-pastor”…I am glad I have only attended smaller churches in my christian life. Perhaps the biggest one was Hosanna! Lutheran in Lakeville, MN, but I certainly wouldn’t paint them as a megachurch with a “visionary” pastor. I was basically asking because I seemed kind of unfamiliar with being in a church with a huge personality. On the other hand, I did attend Bethlehem Baptist church for a couple of months (John Piper), but was turned off by other stuff there.

  227. Dan from Georgia says:

    You’re right, it wouldn’t happen in a church that is led by the Lord. Funny how we see so-called Christian media continue to follow the likes of Driscoll to Arizona, like he is some kind of mini-god. I would be some people from Mars Hill followed him down there!

    My experience has more been influenced by the evangelical/James Dobson-call your Senator now/Bob Larson lines of thought, so much of what is discussed here about mega churches/pastors and Calvary Chapel is kind of foreign to me.

  228. Dan from Georgia says:

    Ooops, I mean “I would BET some people…” from previous post.

  229. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    an,
    One way to see if a church is pastor centered is to see what / who it is known for. You said it probably unwittingly – ” I did attend Bethlehem Baptist church for a couple of months (John Piper), but was turned off by other stuff there.”

    Notice how you had to insert Piper’s name so we would recognize the church.

    If I were to say (even in town) – I attend Abiding Savior (Tom Rogers) – the insertion of my pastor’s name would help no one better know which church I attend.

  230. Dan from Georgia says:

    MLD, huh. I see. I know there are people out there who worship the ground Piper walks on, or the paper he writes on. Dated a gal once who was kind of like that. Told her I have never been divorced, and her response was something Piper said, not something from Scripture.

  231. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    The same is true anytime some one would say “you must come to my church and hear my pastor teach – he is really good.”

  232. Dan from Georgia says:

    True! More than a few times in my life I’ve heard people talk like it was more about the pastor than the Word.

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