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134 Responses

  1. Linnea says:

    Wow…no one out there in PP land?

  2. Dan from Georgia says:

    I like CM’s last statement over on the Abuse of Faith II post…

    “If the church does not clean up its own act, God will use the state do so…..”

  3. Michael says:

    “Amidst the vast scene of the world’s problems and tragedies you may feel that your own ministry and witness seems so small, so insignificant, so concerned with the trivial. But consider – the glory of Christianity is its claim that small things really matter, and that the small group, the very few, the one man or woman or child are of infinite worth to God. Let that be your inspiration. Consider our Lord himself. Amidst a vast world with its vast empires and events and tragedies, our Lord devoted himself to a small country, to small things and to individual men and women, often giving hours of time to the few, or to the one man or woman. For the infinite worth of the one person is the key to the Christian understanding of the many. You will never be nearer to Christ than in caring for the one man, the one woman, the one child. His authority will be given to you as you do this, and his joy will be yours as well.”

    + Michael Ramsey

  4. CM says:

    Another observation:

    Much like God using Assyria as a tool of his judgement against the Judah and Israel (as described in Isaiah Chapter 9 and 10), God may very well use the godless state as a tool of his judgement for the church in America for all the abuse, greed, and corruption in the SBC, RCC, etc.

    The news of the abuse in the SBC, the James MacDonald scandals, and the like are just the tip of the iceberg. The Spotlight will only get bigger….

  5. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    CM, I hope if God is going to intervene using the state to punish the church he doesn’t limit his action to the abuse spoken of here.
    If this were to take place, I would hope he would include those churches that have false and blasphemous teaching at their core – such as the ELCA, ECUSA, and the UCC.

    However, I doubt God pays attention to my personal preferences and requests. 🙂

  6. Reuben Mills says:

    “godless state”

    False statement. Assyria had plenty of god’s, they just weren’t yours. Christian historical revisionism to fit one’s apologetic does not change that either.

  7. Reuben Mills says:

    Come to think of it, didn’t they start to lean towards a more monotheistic state religion before their demise? No bother, it was not your god, thus godless?

  8. Michael says:

    Reuben,

    As you know, as Christians we believe the Assyrian gods to be false gods…not really gods at all.
    You also know that this was a brutal people.
    Whether you agree with the historical narrative or not, I’m sure you must appreciate the point that some of us believe the church has made a mess that puts it at risk of governmental intervention…

  9. Reuben Mills says:

    On the subject of the state, The United States exists under the bedrock foundation of authoritarianism and dictatorship under the banner of christian theocracy. It is quickly growing, identical in method as others in history, and before anyone lies to themselves and my face about Stalin or other such nonsense, Christian historical revisionism gets nowhere with me, and serves your reality zero purpose. The public of this nation desires punishment and legal oversight/structure to churches equal to any other capitalist venture, but the government (see above description) will protect the state religion, and for good reason, it holds greater power over the masses than Trump or Pence ever could. Already convinced that god is in the Oval Office, Christians (specifically and darned near exclusively) have accepted outright lies, and behaviors contrary to their claimed beliefs, so the state religion gets a turbo boost of sorts, waving in the face of the greater population that the church and the government don’t give a damn what we think. Onward Christian Soldier…

  10. Em says:

    “However I doubt that God pays attention to my personal preferences and requests.” . .. Oh, yes He does. So?
    Psalm 19:14

  11. Em says:

    “Onward Christian Soldiers”… as a young child (i was not a Christian child) my grandparents would visit the church on the corner and take me with them… The congregation (United Brethren?) would begin their Sunday service by rising to their feet and belting out that song. I was small, lost in a sea of, ahem, rears, didn’t know the words so i’d sing as loud as i could every bad word i knew: poop, darn, phooey… One time the man in front of me turned around and smiled….
    Think i’ve related my outburst at Aimee Semple M. You took me out in public at your own risk… Hopefully, i’ve improved … Hopefully… 🙆

  12. Em says:

    Christian theocracy… Hmmm
    There is one God – worship Him or not
    Don’t steal
    Don’t lie under oath
    Don’t be untrue to your spouse (this one gets overlooked increasingly)
    Don’t abuse or kill your offspring (ditto the above)
    Render unto Caesar your fair share
    Don’t commit murder, i.e. kill
    Be loving and charitable … ? Yep, bad, bad national standard.
    Say what? 😳

  13. Reuben Mills says:

    And this old argument gets older every time I hear it, that somehow without god, no, not any god, that one specific god, there would just be nothing but rape and murder all the time. If the one true god, that god over there, the really really real one, had not invented any basis for morals, nobody would have them. We would all be injecting heroin in pools of whiskey whilst having a mass orgy, and drowning babies in the blood of dead animals, likely worshiping Satan because you know, his religion was worse, he is after all a false god, thus no god at all. (Yeah, that friendly jab was pointed at someone else).

    I lost my ability to keep my mouth shut about the rank of some gods. I figured I could do it right up till I forgot, or another blinky thing grabbed my attention.

    Your national standard is unbeknownst to millions and millions of your own kind, who could not recite the Ten Commandments if it were so required, present company included.

    The Assyrian gods were bad. This made Assyrians bad. I contend the same for Christians, and would hope that I never give favoritism to one or two gods over another one or two gods, that would be very un-anti-theist of an anti-theist.

    Now Mesopotamia is dead and gone, along with a whole list of rather unspectacular kingdoms, cultures, empires, destroyed no less by yet another religion, who believes in another god, but not that god, the really really really real one true god. Or are they the same god? In my book, yes, but Christians and Muslims will eventually kill each other over that one too, because that’s what religions do.

    But at no point do Christians get to claim moral superiority over Islam, Assyria, all of Mesopotamia in any of it’s states, any of the Asian empires, any of the Czars, or a whole long bad list of religions and empires, because in cost of life alone, Christianity is UNPARALLELED.

    National standard? You can keep it. I am more moral than any Evangelical Christian, and I rank zero on the scale of loud and proud anti-theists, a mere noob.

  14. Em says:

    The focus on the word ‘god’ is a bit diverting as the question every single human who ever lived must answer for himself is not how would i define a god worthy of my respect, perhaps of my worship. It is two other words ‘absolute’ and ‘holy.’ We don’t, can’t really define either. But they define the I Am.

    On a dark starry night the laws of physics keep those stars on course, not god. those lawd are a good thing. Are the laws of physics an accidental dynamic? Hmmm… By them we’ve avoided a terrible crash all these milleniums… Perhaps god’s name, then is good luck? 🙏. 🙆

  15. What is the point about cost of life? Every single person born dies.

  16. Jerod says:

    Reubenoobie,

    “I am more moral than any Evangelical Christian”
    I hope you take the time to respond explicitly, because I am “curiouser and curiouser”…

    What is God, then, and how do you protest it?

    What is your problem with it (him/her/zhe)? Existence of evil? But that would require a theistic morality or another definition of it… ?

    What is your standard of morality in light of the God(s) that is superior to any monotheist (I assume this is your stand)? Is your game not having any game, to quote Singles? Total libertarianism?

  17. Jerod says:

    As far as UNPARALLELED
    I think you could agree there are historical lists as long as my left arm that we could all drum up.

    Yes there were 1200 years of Holy Roman abuse, there was Zwingli and Calvin
    But Stalin, Hitler et al accomplished in under one hundred years collectively what Christendom and Old Testament Judaism took eons to accomplish.

    Now, if you actually consider that life begins at conception that’s a different and more measurable conversation as to “badness”, or what being a Christian means, and the difference between Christendom and Christianity (the fruit of the tree vs the birds that nest in its branches).

    Otherwise it’s pretty relative.

  18. Reuben Mills says:

    I am not doing the Stalin/Hitler thing. Number one, because Russian Orthodox/Catholic. Number two, because I said I won’t have people lying to themselves and lying to me. You are subscribing to Christian historical revisionism. I don’t play that game.

    Hey all, is Hell real? Argument closed.

    My standard of morality is I don’t have to be told to love my neighbor as I love myself, Jerod. I don’t have to be threatened with eternal torture to do it. I do it because I love humanity, and don’t consider anyone lesser. I was rather unfortunately “born into Christianity”, and did not have a choice in the matter. It was a way of life, grafted into everything I did on a daily basis. Example, I did not eat without praying first.

    Your definition of morals is built by your religion, so I would not expect you to understand anything else. God is the one who makes those rules for you. The rest of my argument I already made.

    By the way, love your neighbor, do unto others, virgin birth, some form of commandments, etc… predates Christianity by a long time. Again, those were probably all false gods, so you know the rest…

    Since Jerod wanted this all to be a game that rests on some political position, yet another Christian distinctive… and before it gets buried in BS news, please note that Marx’ grave was spray painted recently. Among the things written, “Architect of genocide, terror, oppression and mass murder, Memorial to Bolshevik Holocaust, 66,000,000 dead.” Anyone who has read the communist manifesto, let alone when it was written, might have a couple million problems with that accusation. Historical illiteracy will kill us all, and blaming Atheism for the Holocaust is just about on par with that level of Ignorance.

  19. I’m assuming no one is allowed to counter complete nonsense, as long as complete nonsense is spewed by a certain commenter, so I’ll go back into hiding.

  20. Michael says:

    Josh,

    I haven’t published any edicts that say no one can respond to Reuben.
    He knows that I’m not going to agree with him and that most people here are not going to agree with him.
    I let him say his piece because I am one of the few that know the pain the church caused him and created this response.
    The larger problem to me is that the number of people who the church has morphed from Christians to anti- Christian by its abuse are staggering.
    Calvary Chapel created Reuben.
    The SBC scandals have created many Reubens.
    James MacDonald will fill his quota.
    The Roman Catholic church will dwarf everyone else in breaking human souls.
    We won’t want to hear their rage personally so they’ll take to social media and tell the whole world.
    The bottom line for me is that I loved the kid when he was reading all my J.I. Packer books and I love him now.
    There is no need for you to go, but I understand if you do.

  21. I’m always reprimanded when I respond, so I get the picture and I will not.

    Is there any point where an individual must take responsibility for his own jerkiness, or can one always just point to wounding from others?

  22. Duane Arnold says:

    Josh

    It is not a reprimand. I don’t respond to this either, as there is very little to say. Christopher Hitchens took a similar position while his brother is a believer after having been an atheist. Families, like social media threads, are sometimes complicated…

  23. Michael says:

    Josh,

    We are all composites of our environment and relationships and life experiences.
    Reuben has taken positions that we deem offensive or”jerky”.
    I will tell you that he is always respectful and kind to me despite our differences.
    After what he’s been through,I’m just glad he’s alive.
    I saw it happen in real time…and others can discount those experiences,but I’m not sure I would have made it through myself.
    We only want these people to hurt or act out of their hurt for so long, then we demand they return to the fold politely.
    More and more of them refuse.
    I can’t blame them and if my faith is real I will love them in the midst of it all.
    I do understand that it’s easier for me because I have a relationship with him…a good one that I won’t let go of.

  24. Yeah, but complete delusional falsehoods are only allowed to stand if delivered by certain family members.

    I guess I prefer the Lutheran Inquisition to the God hating / revisionist inquisition?

  25. Michael says:

    Josh,

    Again, I have issued no edicts against people responding to Reuben.
    I don’t bother because I’m not going to change his mind today.
    Yes, he does have a much longer rope than a stranger would…I completely affirm that.
    Yes, I consider him family…and that means something to me.

  26. I understand and appreciate the sentiment, but that will be why I am not around.

    Maybe I read a different bible than others. All the people of faith that I read about suffer immensely, even moreso than certain people here, but they come through with faith intact. In fact, we even see God working through the suffering, not in spite of it.

    Maybe some of us bought a false gospel that says if I suffer God is mean.

  27. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I will speak and see how it is received.
    Reuben is not 100% victim – in fact he played his role as the abuser – abusing his family in his role to pick up and move them across the country to join Chad’s church, followed by his role as an abuser at that church until, and this is important, the abuse turned on him.
    We need to be honest here as some of us have a clear memory and not the washed over version.

    However, if Reuben wants to hold a non God or anti God worldview that is fine with me – he has joined a large group and he is free to say what he wants (I rather enjoy listening to him go on about what rumbles through his head) – but victim hood is not one that can be used in his defense.

  28. Kevin H says:

    Josh,

    Speaking as one who has at various times been the target of Reuben’s ire, I know it’s difficult to know how and when and if to respond. I have felt that much of his ire has been unwarranted and many wrongful things have been said about me. There are many things I would have liked to have said in response, but have chosen to hold most back as I just didn’t see the opportunity for anything constructive to come about. Reuben already knows the message of the Gospel better than probably most Christians but chooses to reject it and even actively fight against it. To at least some degree, I understand why Reuben has ended up where he is, even as I strongly disagree with his world view and much of the way he chooses to speak. I just don’t know what much to say or any good my words would serve.

    At the same time, I do understand the concerns of having such strongly anti-God words spoken on a Christian forum that many read without some kind of rebuke of them. Who knows what kind of effects those words may have on the many different people who read here and in their own thoughts, circumstances, and struggles. It’s not easy to know what is best to do.

  29. Michael says:

    “All the people of faith that I read about suffer immensely, even moreso than certain people here, but they come through with faith intact.”

    I do not judge a persons journey by where they are now…especially when they have been a victim of or witnessed horrific spiritual abuse by the church.
    I think my job is to love them to the next step in hopes that God will reveal himself to them in a fresh way…or just because I’m told by God to do so not knowing where they will end up.
    I do not and will not expect anyone in my care to end end up in the Hebrews 11 hall of fame.

    I barely keep my own head above water…and I do mean barely.
    I would say more but too many think me close to a heathen already.

  30. Michael says:

    Think about the scandals that have been uncovered in the last few weeks alone and think about the thousands who have been broken by them.
    They can either come to “Christian” places and lament or they can can be cut off because their pain is expressed in ways that make us uncomfortable.

    You all can make your own decisions on how you deal with the issue…my calling defines mine.
    I love Josh too…

  31. There are aspects of God’s redemptive work that can be accomplished only through suffering.
    – Henry Blackaby

    We win people to a false gospel, they will certainly fall away when that gospel fails to deliver.

  32. Michael says:

    Josh,

    You do not understand the impact of being betrayed by those who speak for God in the house of God.
    I believe someday you will and you will be broken by it all.

    I know the Bible as well as you do…but some things that have happened in the last week alone have left me barely functional and wondering what to believe…I hold on to Christ and He holds on to me but the grip feels tenuous.

    I do agree that we do not teach enough about suffering…

  33. Xenia says:

    Remember the lurkers.

  34. “You do not understand the impact of being betrayed by those who speak for God in the house of God.”

    I don’t?!?! Why did I end up at this site?

    “I believe someday you will and you will be broken by it all.”

    This is where I’ll check out. Either Jesus is real or He is not. I have found him to be real and will live the rest of my life accordingly. I have no plan B, there will be no turning back.

  35. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    I am considering the lurkers.
    All the articles we publish are overtly Christian and theologically orthodox.
    Many, if not most of the lurkers will be people who are questioning their relationship to the church…I hope that we embrace their questions while feeding people who are secure in their beliefs as well.

  36. Michael says:

    Josh,

    I believe Jesus is real or there’s no way I would deal with all of this.
    I live my life accordingly…and that’s why I don’t reject those He died for because they make me uncomfortable.

  37. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Why are we scandalized by sin in the church? We may all be a fellowship of believers but we are also pilgrims passing through this existence and we all carry and drag our sin along with us. (forget just sin – we carry and drag our own evil with us)
    To give up on Christ and his Church is the real scandal.

  38. Michael says:

    I believe that the heart of the Gospel is the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ.
    I believe in following Him that we will live in that sacrificial love and demonstrate it.
    It’s easy to love those who love us back…

  39. Em says:

    i like Rueben as i like people who are not hypocrites, who are truthful as to their viewpoint, i just know that his thinking is twisted by his experience that he identifies as Christianity in action… it might have been some twisted Christians, it might have been some wolves in sheep’s clothing, cowardly Christians who won’t stand even when they know there is abuse in their midst… i have no idea… but i do want Rueben to know what a beautiful Person the Great I Am truly is, what a profound thing Rueben’s life is to Him…
    Rueben’s criticisms and observations should be taken seriously by us all as we must ask, “Is that what people see when they look at the Church among them today?”
    or so it seems to me … again

  40. Michael says:

    Em,

    Yes.
    Thank you.

  41. Mud Man says:

    There are many people like Reuben and there will be many more. One that comes to my mind is John Dominic Crossan. A man raised in a very fundamental environment and when he entered “real world” he found problems in the context he was raised in.

    The main differences I sense in reading Reuben here compared to John C is the amount of bitterness that emanates from Reuben’s writing. However, in his (Reuben’s) defense, I too have difficulties with many traditional “Christian” doctrines and practices.

    I can only read Reuben’s writings (BTW I find nothing new or convincing in his arguments and points) and wonder what in his circle and personality has led him down the path he has chosen. We all wear shaded lenses and hearing aids in some form or another.

    Michael thank you for restraint and patience in this thread.

  42. Believe it or not, in 20+ years of church work, I have been through some very rough times. Yes, I have been betrayed by church leaders and my faith has been strained at every point. More trials will come. The Lord is currently preparing me for such. I have chosen my path. All of my eggs are in the “Jesus” basket, and broken or whole, I’m sticking with Jesus.

    That being said, others are free to choose whichever path suits them. If I am involved in a public forum proclaiming such paths, I am coerced to answer. Despite the objections of such today, when I have answered in the past, I have been sternly rebuked.

  43. Jean says:

    “All of my eggs are in the “Jesus” basket, and broken or whole, I’m sticking with Jesus.”

    Where else would we go? To whom else would we trust?

  44. Michael says:

    Josh,

    I have tried assure you that no rebuke would be forthcoming.
    You are loved and valued here.

  45. London says:

    Hey Reuben-
    For what it’s worth, I don’t think Jerod was playing games. I think he had legit questions.
    May be take a look at his post again and see what you think. Maybe try to read it without being defensive which I do honestly realize is hard to do on here sometimes.

    I would be interested on your take to his questions too.

    Ta

  46. Michael says:

    I’m out for a few hours…be kind.

  47. Reuben Mills says:

    Guys, I apologize, work has me up to my eyeballs today. I will be back. Josh, man, blow a cork, it’s not perceived by me as an insult. What is insulting is not engaging, but I get that too, so even that doesn’t hurt the feels all that much. Fire away. Know this, all the folks from PHXP of old know my entire story, what I was, what I believed, so much so that the only honest place I could ever flesh this stuff out is literally right here. You all watched me abandoning Evangelicals entirely, and commented on every step of my path to Anglicanism, you watched me leave the faith entirely. You and grumpy old Taurus guy MLD, Dread, Xenia, Noelle, Em, the list just goes and goes. You all godfull peeps are kinda like the only family I have on this Journey. Church abuse still consumes me post faith. I also know that I am received much the same as I would have received me 10 years ago. Duane friended me on FB! Haha! This place is kinda all I have, unless I want to yell with Atheists all day, which I don’t. Some of them have gone loony toons 10 times over, and I am simply not an Atheist. Somehow I must convey that I rage because I care. You are welcome to do the same. The SBC situation is about to go to tornado in a trailer park mode, and I dig it for reasons one might not expect. It means people might wake up and run, just as Michael told my dumb ass to do years ago. He didn’t tell me to run from god, btw, he told me to run from my situation. I did. Who knows how wise that was? Time has proven that it was probably the best advice I ever heeded.

    Hitchens (since Duane brought up my hero) said numerous times that religion was, “humanities favorite toy, and they can play with that toy, bring others over to play with that toy together, and even have Holliday’s and events where all the people play collectively with their toys, but they are never to make me play with the toy.”

    Hitchens was easier on religion than I am in that respect. I truly desire to see people delivered from it, but he always believed it would never go away, so his arguments all tended to sprout from that simple foundation. I hope I can be like that some day.

  48. Xenia says:

    Reuben, I think the happiest time I’ve had online with you was your Anglican Interlude, when you posted tenets of the Anglican faith and we talked about it every week. Then the next thing I knew, you weren’t part of that Anglican church anymore. I never found out what happened there… If it isn’t too personal or distasteful to discuss, I can’t help but being curious as to what went wrong.

  49. Duane Arnold says:

    Reuben

    Have to say it… Peter Hitchens read the same NT passage at Christopher’s funeral that Christopher had read at his father’s funeral. I never got the sense that CH was embittered in any way…

  50. Reuben Mills says:

    Xenia, those were happy times. I am glad I got to have them here. Running to Orthodoxy, even in the British sense, was such a cathartic thing for me. The church blew up because families wanted children programs, and the already danged near destitute priest to take a pay cut, among other garbage. Church did what church does, and I could not take one more minute of it. I was already washing away my sorrows with Jack Daniels at that point. It was too much to watch again, as a lay-leader who actually had more power than the priest. I thought I found an almost perfect church, and it ceased to exist. I know it sounds silly, like I am a pansy about things, but I had just watched first hand an Acts 29 church fold over the dumbest stuff, the pastor used to post here too, you might remember Mr. Potato Head, and it ruined people who invested everything into that startup, and in almost no time, I was watching another implosion. I couldn’t do it anymore. My solution then was to drink even more, and be a Lone Ranger (you know, me and my bible) but I was not ever dealing with the pain of another failed church for reasons that almost never get brought up here, like young guns walking in on a small Anglican Church and expecting it to be a 90 option buffet by the end of the week. I couldn’t watch the priest end this way, I couldn’t beat the hell out of the franchise minded lunatics who think everything should be handed to them because they produced a litter of children that need to be on taylor made programs, and include Rob Bell or we quit tithing, and we tithe a ton… you get the point. Bad time for me. Couldn’t have happened at a worse time “spiritually” either, looking 2020 hindsight.

  51. Xenia says:

    Thanks for the explanation, Reuben. I appreciate it.

  52. Xenia says:

    Jack Daniels and Pink Floyd, if I remember correctly.

    Alcohol doesn’t agree with me (old lady innards) but I enjoy Pink Floyd.

  53. Reuben Mills says:

    Duane, I watched that service. A few times, haha! Was in love with Lawrence Krauss at the time that I found it, as Hitch died long before my time as a Hitch fanatic. Did you ever watch the Hitchens/Hitchens debate?

    Read Hitch 22 sometime, as if you don’t have anything else to read. It explains quite a bit about what shaped his views, and why he never really was quite as extreme as people would have liked him to be. Im a nice guy, I will send it to you.

  54. Reuben Mills says:

    Pink Floyd is still an addiction I will not be support grouped or therapy whipped out of.

  55. Duane Arnold says:

    Reuben

    Read it… mainly for the (Oxford) Clinton details! Yes, saw the debate. For some reason it made me rather melancholy… such a deep divide, not just intellectually but emotionally.

  56. Reuben Mills says:

    Oh holy night, I hope you are not dissing the wrong side of the intellectual divide in that debate.

    There was a lot of pain in that debate, shrouded in the English way.

    Would love to chat with you about it some day.

  57. Xenia says:

    like young guns walking in on a small Anglican Church and expecting it to be a 90 option buffet by the end of the week.<<<

    I've known quite a few situations that sound a bit like yours. Families would spring (pounce) upon a church and suddenly, it's all about them and their large number of kids. They volunteer for everything and give a lot of money. They are the pastor's new best friend and they buy him stuff, babysit, etc. They are the best of people, it seems. They become indispensable after a very short amount of time. How'd we ever get along without them, people wonder. Then they start wanting stuff. Look at all we do, we deserve some consideration. We want some changes made here. They have the pastor's ear, they made sure they had his ear. They begin to spread discontent. People take sides and the church is in an uproar. The pastor wakes up to the fact that he's been hornswaggled and tries to regain control of his congregation. The people flounce off to the next church breathing out rage and gossip about the old one. They claim they were abused.* You can find these people across all denominations. I can see why you weren't in the mood for this.

    *Pastors do abuse people. People abuse pastors, too.

  58. Reuben Mills says:

    Xenia,

    100%

  59. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Reuben – I miss that Taurus – best car I’ve had. Totaled it 4 yrs ago.

  60. I appreciate the words there Reuben. As much as I disagree with you at times, I wouldn’t want to alienate you from this place. So, sorry for my passive-aggression earlier.

    I have been saying the SBC stuff is God’s work. He is bringing the shameful deed’s to light.

  61. Reuben Mills says:

    Josh, as I said, I know exactly how I would respond to me 10 years ago. No worries.

    Back to, “complete delusional falsehood”

  62. For the record, the delusion is that you claimed moral superiority. I don’t object tot he rest. You can believe what you want.

  63. I forget about the not-so-passive aggression 🙂

  64. Reuben Mills says:

    I claim I am more moral than A Christian because nobody had to tell me to be moral… to be moral. I understand this is delusional to you.

    This goes back to when I was a Christian, and I saw abuses, and I could not believe what I was seeing. Even before I thought of being a pastor, way back in my Vineyard days, talking pre-Chuck, post James Ryle. The spiritual poof bang pow there was exponentially above and beyond what we gripe about these days. In fact, it was what Vineyard was known for. An anointed man of god could tell you to run in front of a bus, and if you did not, you were an unbeliever, and if you died, you were an unbeliever. I believe a person or two can validate that Vineyard was really that thick into the madness back then. I stood up against quite a bit even in my idealistic youth, still popping pimples while imagining I would be a great worship leader some day, like David Ruis or Kevin Prosch, literally having the ability to strum my guitar and people would fall under the power of “the spirit” like wheat in a field against the wind. Imagine the mind rape it takes to get someone to that point and then tell someone that god done split the temple. I watched people literally die over that madness, and I knew it was wrong back then when I was right in the middle of it. We would be deaf to all the stuff reported now if social media existed back then. Churches would get chained shut by government authorities on the grounds that churches are an actual national emergency! So take heart, the SBC will get demolished for essentially being somewhat better at abuse than the dead giants that came before. Or is Vineyard still around…? Dunno.

    Hope that sheds light. Obviously I could write for a few hours on this…

  65. Reuben Mills says:

    Bad line up there. “god done split the temple” was a funny from way back, meaning god has left the person. Kinda a silly way of putting it, but I always thought it was funny, having that dual purpose meaning…

  66. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Hey Reuben – ready for some Rockies baseball? They should be a comfortable 2nd 🙂

  67. I get why you said said you were morally superior, I just don’t buy it. I don’t really think you do either. It comes off as macho bluster. “I don’t need God, I’m a good person by myself”, except I know you’re a mess and you know you are a mess. So who are you fooling? And why do you feel the need to? The people that I would see as being morally upright have never once had to tell me so. It all just seems like an act.

  68. Reuben Mills says:

    MLD,

    I appreciate the fact that I provide some entertainment value.

    I can’t argue with your opinion of me. You get to be the pigeon strutting across the chess board in your accusations.

    I will say this, my love for Michael is profound in the sense that he might be the only person I have ever known to see the scale and scope of the evils of Christianity to the degree that I have. I have no doubt he has seen it more, and worse than I have. That he is around to tell the tales and still be one of the last remaining voices of reason in your entire churchy culture astounds me, and demands my respect without question. I lost at his war. I openly admit it. I told god to screw off long before he probably ever even considered it.

    Michael, Packer, Cory Henry, and The Mississippi Mass Choir will make me stand at attention any time of the day, and in that order.

    What I have done to my family is inexcusable. It is my greatest shame. My second greatest shame is what I taught people. I have only begun to start to face any of this. And that is probably the third greatest shame.

  69. But I do understand what you mean about the charismatic manipulation. I chased that stuff hard for several years. Was heart-breaking to finally see the man behind the curtain.

  70. “the scale and scope of the evils of Christianity to the degree that I have. ”

    Honestly, all that talk is delusional too. There are tons of people who’ve had worse church experiences than you. I think that’s part of the problem. We find these little internet echo chambers where we suddenly become the one expert on a certain subject because we obsess online over it 24-7…but there’s a real world out there too…and there are tons of people who seen the same stuff online that you’ve seen.

  71. Reuben Mills says:

    Josh, totally tracking with you on your view.

    Moral uprightness is a construct fed to you, so how you view it is how you were taught to view it. Religion poisons EVERYTHING.

    I will not argue against me being a total mess! Haha! Dumpster Fire! My therapist asks me why I feel the need to throw myself under the bus, and I continue to respond with, “Because I am guilty!” She keeps asking anyway.

    Don’t worry, it does not mean for a second that I am back to looking for Jesus in a crowd so that I can meet him again. So maybe it is an act?

  72. Reuben Mills says:

    Mud Man, “bitterness” is the ultimate christian write-off.

  73. That’s the thing, conversation is tough when there is all this baloney that has to be dealt with out of the gate. You have this image of yourself that you want project (online, at least) but it just seems really phony. And like, in order to engage I have to first accept all this delusional stuff. You are morally superior, you’ve seen more abuse than anyone else…it’s exhausting. Just be real. Hate god if you hate god, but be real.

  74. “Moral uprightness is a construct fed to you,”

    Again, we both know this isn’t true. If it was, you’d have nothing to be upset about. There would be no such thing as abuse. We know there are inherent rights and wrongs, we may disagree about where those concepts come from, but we know that some things are terribly wrong…just because they are. No one fed to you that church abuse is wrong. It just is.

  75. Reuben Mills says:

    Josh, I should have been more specific, in that moral uprightness is a construct fed to you by your belief system, and thus poisoned you. You have to believe that moral uprightness is found in those who you can’t remember their names, and they do off the map stuff like pray over the box of cereal in the grocery store. They have 10 dollars to their name, but they spent 5 dollars on Gospel For Asia anyway.

    I don’t know what is disingenuous about that, but I also don’t know what is disingenuous about me either. Is your motive here some new new brand new way of witnessing since Kiwi bombed on his last method of telling people they are trash and need Jesus? Is Michael Seaver on to a better way of thrashing the unsuspecting about so they cry harder this time?

    You are right, church abuse is just wrong. God didn’t need to tell you that either. Now you too can cast off the notion that without god, we would all be bathing in whiskey and eating babies.

  76. I have no clue what any of that even was. I’m sure it makes sense for the character you are playing, but in the real world…it’s out there.

    I’m just trying to have a conversation but you’ve just got this phony script you have to go through. Seriously, ask yourself what of that you just said had anything to do with anything I’ve said?

    Except you last sentence. You came back to reality for a short moment, but still not long enough to make sense. Because if church abuse is just wrong (and I agree it is) then we can aside the notion that moral uprightness is something that is fed to you. Of course I haven’t said that atheists eat babies or whatever, but it goes with your script, I suppose.

  77. Reuben says:

    Em, way back there at 10:25 today, thanks for that.

  78. Reuben says:

    Josh, condensing all that to this: what is “be real ” to you right now? Help me get your point.

  79. Reuben says:

    Is the point that I am insane? A liar? Multiple Personality Disorder? What?

  80. Any or all of those may contribute, but if I am being real, I would just say you are full of crap. Like you attributed to me something about an old woman praying over a box of cereal. You didn’t get that from me, it’s this facade that you are trying to present and you have to make sure you get all that stuff from the script in, even if it doesn’t fit the conversation. I’d just say, man cut the crap and let’s talk for real, ya know? What have I ever said about praying over a box of cereal? Nothing? Where did that come from? It’s this mound of crap you’ve built up for your new online identity.

    Any closer? Like I know how you want to be seen, you’ve made that clear. But is there a part of you that isn’t caught up in that charade?

  81. Reuben says:

    Nah, I genuinely think of what moral uprightness was to me in Christian speak back in the good old days, and HIS name was Gabe. He prayed over cereal in the grocery store. We have all known someone like that. Maybe your Gabe was an old lady. My Gabe was one of the wonders of the Christian world. Morally upright in every way according to the Bible.

    So your problem with me is the new online persona. Got it.

    Not being real for me is being nice in some of the things I have said. I will offer that. I do it for my friend here.

    Here is what I want to say. You have a concept of what morality looks like that smacks of a narcissistic sociopath you call god. He poisons your mind to believe it has to be someone who does his tremendous acts of selflessness to a tyrannical god in his closet, because the only people who can be upright in their morality are the ones who don’t let their left hand know what their right hand is doing, or some such raging insanity. This from a god who made you to physically work one way, but expects you to operate outside those parameters in order to not burn for ever. You witness me tossing that notion to the bin where it belongs with all of god’s other evil expectations of you, and get pissed because someone was allowed to say it without you being able to rage against me, for reasons that have apparently not even been established. Not a wise person, but rather a foolish one who shows how deeply the poison has infected your ability to function as a human, thus making yourself into the alien that god needs you to be. That is completely beyond rational, or even sane. It’s being sick, and I blame your god, your system, and your Bible for it. I will burn eternally before I bow the knee to the filthy scum that made you this sick.

    “Let the women be silent” – Paul (Threw that one in there because screw Paul. You can call it charade, and feel good about your accomplishment here.) Back to civility. Here are some kittens.

    https://youtu.be/x7rHflPnRx4

  82. Jerod says:

    Reuben… (I gather you are finished with the name game 🙁 )

    I wasn’t playing games with you. I should have thought better about responding to your “unparalleled” comment. It wasn’t important to mention. Apologies.

    I truly am interested in what I asked you way up yonder.

    FWIW, many of us have seen A LOT of awful things done to people by the church. I sense most resist the temptation to unpack it all. For me, doing so would only serve to feel like a rendition of “Gee, Officer Krupke!” Michael does really well at what God has given him to do, as well as the lot of us! 🙂 It is a wonder any of us are around – hence, as Josh pointed out, it’s why we ended up here.

    also FWIW, writing a paper ranking worldviews. Had the Holy Spirit not intervened, I’d be an atheist, or possibly an antitheist, or both. I lived the born and raised in the church game for almost 40 years, 14 in Calvary Chapel (CCA).

    They say there are no atheists (or antitheists) in a fox hole – sometimes they are preferable.

  83. That’s all the same nonsense you’ve been saying over and over. I’m not raging. Have you perceived me as raging? I’m calm as a cuc, just trying to cut though that piles and piles of bullcrap, but it never ends. And I guess that is the limitation of online communication. You have a persona to keep up, so anything off that script isn’t going to work for you. OK. My initial issue was your delusional idea that you were morally superior, and you have agreed that that is not true.

    So do you want to post another couple paragraphs of the same old “your god made you sick” stuff? It’s not shocking, or particularly interesting, but go ahead. Yeah, your new online persona is a real drag.

  84. Mud Man says:

    Reuben

    What else can I call it when I continue to read such random ramblings that seem to be nothing more than repetitive helter skelter. Besides which you rapidly place labels on people you know nothing about.

    It’s never all about us, is it?

    As far as morals go, religion doesn’t determine or give you morals, it only measures it against a standard. So in the end you seemed to have determined what your standards are.

    May you live well and in good health.

  85. Reuben says:

    Jerry, ( 😀 )

    No apologies necessary. I get launched the Stalin/Hitler thing all the time. It is I who should apologize, because I have developed an attitude about that one liner that gets tossed at me repeatedly, and I seem to have lost interest in explaining why. It is an important question, and I used to be all about answering it until I found out it must have hit a best seller book at some point, because dang, everybody asks it. Maybe I will make a cut and paste template to save time for the future, and actually answer the question as people requested rather than just shutting it down. Also, apologies for failing to answer your questions from earlier.

    “I hope you take the time to respond explicitly, because I am “curiouser and curiouser”…

    What is God, then, and how do you protest it?”

    God is evil, and I protest it the way Josh has decided is just my new online persona, by showing people the evil. See, the common thread of church abuse has fired up again with the SBC and James MacDonald exposures. If there is one thing I wish I could convey is that your god created this mess, and you are left to fix it with every fibre of your being saying it is outside your pay grade. You are left hopeless, and the problems just compound. Nothing gets done, nothing changes. It turns into this machine that eventually willingly accepts the evil with the perceived good, because… I don’t know why actually. The furniture gets rearranged. Thoughts and Prayers. Silence.

    “What is your problem with it (him/her/zhe)? Existence of evil? But that would require a theistic morality or another definition of it… ?”

    God is evil personified in my dumpster fire of a mind, so the existence of it, throughout generations of god fearing people, it just gets bigger and bigger, brought out in more and more destructive, deceptive, and divisive ways. As Josh and I were just discussing, nobody needs a god to see this evil.

    “What is your standard of morality in light of the God(s) that is superior to any monotheist (I assume this is your stand)? Is your game not having any game, to quote Singles? Total libertarianism?”

    Again, my standard rests on the fact that I don’t need a god to tell me what is right and what is wrong. Example: lying obviously does no good. Taking your neighbors stuff seems kinda dumb. Blowing someones brains out because they cut you off in traffic is really out there. Taking care of humanity for humanities sake seems a noble cause. Pretty easy, right? This obfuscation Christianity does with the “how would anyone know church abuse is bad unless god told them so… blah blah blah” is something that I believe Josh and I have moved past. My superiority in morality comes from not having to be told to not blow a guys brains out because he cut me off in traffic. Seriously, if you have to be told, “thou shalt not kill”, what kind of toilet rings does god think we are? It’s the arrogance of a god sustained to tell me to not lie, because if he didn’t tell me that, I would be just fibbing my way through life. That gets me in the hatred feels. It only gets worse when I am forced the proposition of either death to myself, or dying for eternity in fire for a problem I didn’t even create. That’s when the cork pops.

    Im always interested in papers. I would love to read yours!

  86. Mud Man says:

    Reuben

    As I read your stuff, I’m not a prophet or anything related, but what I observe is your difficulties with church and leadership appear to have little to do with religion.

    I think your ghosts follow or possibly lead you in whatever path you take. Choice makes a difference in us all.

  87. Em says:

    I’m an old woman. Did i miss something? Where in Scripture does it tell me to pray over cereal boxes in the grocery? I’ve been praying over the rice – Uncke Ben’s converted…. 😸

  88. Jerod says:

    Isaiah 45
    6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.

    7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

    Sorry to be so pedantic. I was reminded of that verse reading your posts.
    Is your standard based on the measurement God set for himself? I’m assuming that you believe God is spirit and the rest, but as far as it concerns you he can take an eternal walk off a temporal universe, correct?

    He seems to have owned the bad already.

    If you call it evil so be it, but you’re measuring God’s morality using God’s intellectual instruments, since you were created in his image.

    So the evil God is being is being scolded by an evil image of him – like for like.

    Only the smaller *(r)eality* is trying to cope with the entire *(R)EALITY*

    What is good to God you call evil. Everything God calls good is from God.

    You’re statement that you are morally superior to biblical morality, if indeed you are correct, would be the height of evil because you were created in his image, and he said it is good.

    You’re evil because you’re from God – so God created something more evil than himself?

    If you are evil (your “moral”) and only can do evil more evilly (your “superior morality”)than the sick psychotic creator-god you protest, why are you protesting? Isn’t that hypocritical?

    With you in the place of God, what am I supposed to be freed from, then?

    You’ve been abused by those pretending to represent him and like a jilted, suicidal soul you jump into hell to mar the image he created out of protest because you got your nose bloodied.

    Is there the slightest possibility you are protesting poor images of a God you never met?

  89. Jerod says:

    Ruby-dooby
    “With you in the place of God, what am I supposed to be freed from, then?”

    meant to correct that

    With your standards in place of God’s…

  90. Kevin H says:

    Reuben,

    I know you have had a bunch of people talking to you and it’s probably hard to keep up with everyone/everything. But as I have just caught up on this thread, I did have some thoughts I wanted to share. They are mainly based off of the conversation you had with Josh.

    I do not think your are projecting a fake persona. I think you are asserting your real thoughts and beliefs. But I do also think that the abuse and hurt you have experienced and the resultant anger you carry causes you to be intensely mistaken.

    I’m not going to argue God with you as I don’t think that will get us anywhere. But I will contend that your sharp focus on the wrongs, real and/or perceived, that happen within Christianity causes you to erroneously over-ascribe these wrongs and it also blinds you to the much good that has been done in the name of Jesus Christ for the past 2000 years.

    I speak this with having been the subject of your wrath several times over the past few years. What usually happens is that I write something that angers you and in turn you let me know about it. But it is far more than telling me your anger about what I have written. Accompanying your anger are often many accusations of saying things that I didn’t actually say and assigning thoughts and beliefs to me that I haven’t stated nor have I even ever held. In similar ways you rant about things and assign to others absurd stuff like praying over a box of cereal in the grocery store when the reality is that 99.9% of Christians don’t do stuff like that nor do they even find such a thing to be spiritually or morally relevant and probably just plain silly. Making false accusations and wrongly ascribing motives, thoughts, and beliefs is far from demonstrating moral superiority.

    This is why I have often been minimal and restrained in my responses to you. When somebody makes their main argument by ascribing false accusations, beliefs, and motives and keeps insisting on them when I know them to be unequivocally untrue, I just don’t see the point in significantly engaging in such madness. Especially doing so on the internet.

    With all that said, I truly do not wish to be your adversary and do not seek to be so. I do not know nearly all the details of the wrongs you have gone through at the hands of the church and Christian leaders and I do not claim to know anywhere near the fullness of hurt and pain they have caused. I only wish that you wouldn’t have had to suffer such and hope that someday you can experience relief from those feelings.

  91. Reuben says:

    Jeraldine,

    The “How do you get something from nothing” argument is is as old as Christian Apologetics, revived now and then by apologists who think this one even makes sense. Usually after reading your passage, or others Isaiah brought out to make us tremble with awe. “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” “I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.”

    My argument when I was in your shoes in the good old days was a bit more science oriented… I guess? It went like this. Space-Time can not be created from the confines of Space-Time. So to even have Space-Time, there is a cause. One God claims the rights to creating the construct of Space-Time, and He does so from the Infinite.

    I left a back door open on that one, larger than the front door in fact, but I was pretty proud of it.

    What caused me to rethink that position was two things, a man by the name of Lawrence Krauss who wrote a book called “A Universe From Nothing”, and a thing called The Large Hadron Collider. The two don’t have an awful lot to do with each other, but both propose that we have answers to questions that are age old, like my argument about Space-Time. With the discovery that the universe is expanding, and accelerating in it’s expansion at that, science was behind the scenes working out what this means, and the results were things like the Higgs Boson, and the erratic “laws” that seem to work in the universe of the ultra small. We now know that in what we call nothing, there is something. There is no true vacuum in the sense that we believed. Between object A and object B flying through Space-Time, there are “invisible” forces, laws, events, and even the seemingly unreal appearance and disappearance of particles going into and out of existence for seemingly no reason at all.

    What I have learned is that with every question we ask, we eventually find an answer. But the funny thing is that throughout history, there have always been those who say that god is the answer, and look upon the scientific as a heresy intended to defile the god. I am sure you are familiar enough with history to know that very recently in church history, we have seen the RCC apologize for condemning scientists of this sort, and killing them.

    All that to say, I don’t lay awake at night wondering if there is a god responsible for all that we know and see, because at some point, the argument became fruitless. We will have an answer at some point, and religion will respond with the next big question, which they have, like who caused this Big Bang, and why is the universe expanding, and then revert back to the notion that only a god could have set this all in motion.

    I understand your frustration with the presumed arrogant of my claim, and that I must be diabolical to elevate myself above god. I think I would have seen me the same way, however, that observation would have been made from the foundation of, “I am the LORD, and there is none else.” I am not required to believe that, so the “rules” change.

    And it is unfortunate that we have to go back to this argument of the creation of evil. We were born evil according to your god, not mine, and I am not god either. I can’t control the next emergency call that is going to come in today with which I have to shuffle my entire board of guys in the field to get the emergency tended to. I say that jokingly (sort of) because it just happened in a data center that dropped the entire building management system shutting of 1200 tons of cooling, and I can not even bring the BMS up to see what happened because it’s web portal died too. Three guys just had to drop what they were doing in the dead of winter to run a doomsday cooling call for a transaction site, and it is not even 9:00 a.m. in snowy Colorado yet. No gods here.

    Further, I don’t believe you realize how condescending it is to make the accusation that I was never a Christian to begin with. You are welcome to make that accusation, but I was not a pew pigeon by any stretch of the imagination. I served 12 years as a teacher of god’s word, after having been raised by a pastoral couple, a vocation I am not proud of. I dedicated my life to understanding god and his word to present it as clearly and correctly to the people I was trusted to teach as I could. Yeah, a bunch of it was Chuck, but towards the end, I trusted damned near anyone but Chuck, and tried to fill my mind with any reputable theologian I possibly could, and Michael helped me in that process tremendously.

  92. I agree with all that Kevin said, except that I do not ascribe Reuben’s rantings to madness. I assume he is putting on a false front for the internet. I doubt his conversations go this way in real life.

  93. Reuben says:

    Kevin, I will leave you to your conclusions. I offer one apology, I was often drunk in my rage against you and your outlandish christian worldview superseding reality, seemingly poisoning even your views on Collin Kaepernick. Doing such protests under the influence of about half a gallon of Jack Daniels is more than slightly disrespectful to the commonly accepted laws of debate.

    Josh, do I need to go get character witnesses to disassemble your gripe? Really?

  94. “Further, I don’t believe you realize how condescending it is to make the accusation that I was never a Christian to begin with.”

    I understand why you would take offense, but imagine it from my point of view. I know and serve a loving, patient, kind and gracious God. You describe a God that you used to serve, and He is nothing like the God that I serve. How could I believe that we are talking about the same God?

  95. “Josh, do I need to go get character witnesses to disassemble your gripe? Really?”

    Do you prefer Kevin’s assessment? That your rants are due to madness?

  96. Michael says:

    I’m calling the end of this discussion.
    I think you all handled it relatively well,but it has no potential for resolution.
    My heart toward all the participants remains unchanged.

  97. Touch not the annointed…

    Or Closed Blogging…

    Or anytime that Josh is engaged in discussion, make sure to shut him up.

  98. Michael says:

    Josh,

    First, you said I would rebuke you.
    I have not rebuked you.
    Now you claim I am stifling you personally.
    How long do you think it appropriate to leave a thread open where it’s obvious that there is no real resolution possible and that more conflict is likely?

  99. Babylon's Dread says:

    Whoa!

    I missed the food fight.

  100. Michael says:

    Josh,

    If you feel there is something else you need to say then the floor is yours.
    I’ve not only let you say whatever you wanted , I have not commented on anything in 24 hours.
    I do not believe I have been unfair despite your accusations.
    I simply did not want this thread or the relationships involved to degenerate any further.

  101. Kevin H says:

    Michael,

    If it is okay with you, I also did have one more response that I was working on and would like to post. I promise it would be my last on the topic. 🙂

  102. Michael says:

    Kevin H,

    Go ahead…

  103. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    This can be summed up easily. We are all wicked and evil to some degree – this does not mean that we can’t all do some good and entertain good thoughts.
    Now Team Reuben thinks God is the problem and Team Jesus thinks that God is the solution. This gap will never be bridged.

    To the latter part of the conversation, I think, in his defense, Reuben could be the poster boy for my position that no believer can have his faith / salvation taken away, but through hard work can walk away from their faith. I have no problem with the idea that at one time Reuben was a faithful follower of Jesus Christ our Lord — and has walked away on his own.

  104. Reuben says:

    MLD, I hugely appreciate that assessment. Thanks. Seriously.

    Sorry Michael, had to shake hands on that kindness.

  105. Kevin H says:

    Reuben,

    Thank you for your apology. I do understand and even suspected at those times that alcohol could have been contributing to the situation.

    One last thing I wanted to point out was to give an illustration of how you view/portray me even as to your last given example about Colin Kaepernick. I am going to copy what I believe is the only time I ever wrote of significance on the NFL protests. In it I do not even address Kaepernick by name, but obviously he is engrained in the topic. I would ask that you read it and re-consider how my “outlandish christian worldview superseding reality” poisoned even my view on Colin Kaepernick. I would hold that a clear-eyed reading would make it difficult to find many things that are so poisoned and outlandish and superseding reality. Again, I offer this for consideration of my conclusions that you over-ascribe thoughts, beliefs, and motives.

    “Our Facebook feeds sure have been filled with much anger and animosity these past few days. This, of course, has been in reaction to NFL players and organizations ratcheting up their protests and demonstrations this past weekend during the playing of the national anthem.
    When the protests first started last year, I did not like them because I thought they came across as hurtful and disrespectful to too many people. I was not personally offended as I understood the protestors explanations that they were not meaning to disrespect those who have served and sacrificed and fought for our freedoms, but rather were using the freedom that has been secured to them by those brave men and women who have served by calling attention to the racial injustices that still exist in our country. Nonetheless, I thought there should be better ways to do this than to protest during the anthem and display of the flag which means much to many, most especially those who have served and sacrificed to protect our country.

    However, with the excessive hatred and vitriol and character assassination that is being displayed against the protestors and demonstrators, I am now wondering if these protests and demonstrations may actually be necessary. Seemingly, there is very little effort or concern by many who are offended to even try to understand what the protestors are doing. There is next to no concern expressed for the causes the protestors are trying to bring attention to. Rather, there is ostensibly a need to verbally beat down and defame the protestors and assign spurious motives and intentions to them. There is so much effort being made to make them the enemy, rather than effort to express disagreement while at the same time trying to appreciate their concerns and figuring out how we can best address them together as fellow Americans.

    And, of course, our President has only joined in to inflame division and hard feelings rather than finding a way to rise above the fray in which he still gives his opinion but does so in a manner that also shows consideration and seeks healing and unity. The large majority of the demonstrations this weekend by the NFL were done in reaction to his divisive and inflammatory words. Note that even some of the demonstrators and/or those who expressed difficulty with Trump’s words have been friends and supporters of the President.

    Now, some of the protestors and those who support them are similarly guilty in not trying to understand the concerns of the “other side” and how the protests at the anthem and flag can come across as hurtful and disrespectful. And also not everyone who has spoken out against the protestors/demonstrators has been guilty of refusing to understand the other side or in having a hateful and vilifying approach. But the substantial amount who have displayed overwhelming interests in defeating and demeaning the protestors with little to no consideration for the injustices the protestors are concerned about, lead me towards seriously considering that the protests are necessary to bring attention to serious issues that many have shown by their actions they are unable or unwilling to fairly or honestly acknowledge or recognize.

    Lastly, for those of us who are Christians, just a thought…… While recognizing that we should always strive to be considerate and respectful of others, how much does Jesus and the Scriptures tell us about the importance of being loyal to a nation and showing respect for national symbols and how much does Jesus and the Scriptures speak to the importance of showing concern for the poor and disadvantaged and injustice? Maybe thinking on these things would help us in setting our priorities.”

  106. Michael says:

    This thread has created a great deal of pain and conflict in my own soul.
    I know Reuben better than any of you…and I know that he was committed to the faith.
    Too committed.
    When he saw people being ruined he cared too much and that caring damn near destroyed him.
    I don’t like the way he found to survive, but I celebrate his survival, indeed.
    I’ll pop open a vein here and let you all take your shots.
    My doctors have told me that the result of 17 years of writing about church abuse have resulted in clinical depression and PTSD.
    My cardiologist affirms all that and worse.
    My personal life has been ravaged by it.
    My mind and spirit have been torn over and over again by over a hundred thousand emails and thousands of phone calls telling of peoples pain and grief.
    Child abuse, molestations,wicked abuse of power and even one case I believe is murder that will never, ever, be solved.
    I have lost all hope of earthly comfort, but those who have shattered the faith of thousands remain virtually unscathed.
    Very few of the victims have ever been acknowledged or had their pain affirmed.
    If you think that I don’t have questions about the goodness of God and His commitment to justice and protection of His people at times…you’re nuts.
    It seems to me that the only solution is to ask the questions and live within the paradox.
    That’s how I survive.
    I worship a God who suffered with and for his people and says He will set it aright someday.
    I choose to hang on to that with little evidence, just faith.
    I wish I could just stand on the “infallible, inerrant word” and by God, let nothing challenge a word of it.
    Especially devastated people.
    I can’t.
    My experiences challenge certainty…but affirm the Christ.
    In fact, I think Him more loving than most because I believe He’ll carry all the wounds, doubts, and rejection of the Reuben’s and Michael’s of the world to a place where they are healed and reconciled to God.
    I don’t believe He will hold it against people who have had the faith beat out of them.
    Your mileage may vary.
    I don’t care much anymore.

  107. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    “I don’t care much anymore.”

    Actually, you probably care too much… but that’s not a vice, it’s a virtue.

  108. Jean says:

    I think Reuben is providing a very good service here and teaching the rest of us to fear the Lord, and hopefully to repent. In my tradition, faith is a gift that is an ongoing passive reception of grace. We never own it like a thing, but we receive it from the finger of God continually.

    Reuben seems entirely credible to me, when I read his history of service to his church and study of God’s Word. He was most likely at one time as devoted to Jesus as any of the rest of us. Why him and not any of the others of us? That is the mystery of faith. Thus, there is no room IMO for presumption; only fear and repentence.

    Of course, it is incredibly sad what has happened to Reuben, but I for one do not think we’ve read the last chapter of Reuben’s life. The very fact that he hangs out here informs my judgment. Yes, it is hard if the room is swept clean, but God is mightier than ten thousand devils. And I do believe that His will will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

  109. Em says:

    Is it a characteristic of mankind to be clannish? For most, i think it is and religion provides an easy entrance into a clan. Humans, for the most part, aren’t smart enough to judge hearts. We certainly are no match for evil (we have to pray to be delivered from it).
    By now it is an old assertion that the new birth (most here don’t ascribe to that evangelical term) is not a religion. I think that the parables of the seeds – where they germinate – teaches us how one can test the Faith without developing life sustaining roots. To walk into almost any church expecting all there to be children of the Triune God is a mistake … sadly … so very sad…
    Has Reuben’s main circuit breaker been tripped by an overload of evil? (Iknow, groan) Will there be a moment when it is reset?? I pray it will and if it is, look out you hypocrites, cuz he’s got your number.

  110. Babylon's Dread says:

    I understand theologically how MLD parses the matter of Rueben’s faith as I do exactly the same. My uncertainty is what becomes of Michael’s Calvinism in such cases. I know Michael, you have nuanced your views in some ways since embracing Anglicanism but I am uncertain as to the extent or to the matter of genuine apostasy.

    Comment or not as you wish. The issue here is raised by a personal case but for me it is the issue not the case.

  111. Michael says:

    BD,

    I fled to Anglicanism to escape the systematic restraints of all the other “ism’s”.
    I think the bible paradoxically teaches both perseverance and apostasy.
    Choosing one side of the paradox determines which “ism” you subscribe to.
    I embrace the paradox while taking Jesus at his word that He will lose none and recover any lost.
    I also suspect that people like Reuben and I will be the “illegal immigrants” of the new heavens and earth with many wondering how the hell we got in and wishing for a wall…

  112. Michael says:

    I don’t think the paradox can be resolved…we have to affirm both, which is illogical, but consistent with biblical mystery.
    We parse it according to our personalities…just like we pick our “ism’s”…

  113. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Of course as a Lutheran we work the paradox through the proper distinction of law & gospel. If Reuben were in this agitated state and was fearful of losing his salvation, I would speak the gospel’s assurance to him – that God saves.
    However, if Reuben were in this agitated state because he was spitting in God’s eye (which he is) and defying God’s goodness (which he does), then I would preach to him law’s wrath and the consequence of apostasy — which I do and he accepts. God’s word always works.
    I don’t look at paradox being determined by a coin toss.

  114. Michael says:

    MLD,

    Calvinists have a system too…we all do.
    It’s not a coin flip, it’s simply acknowledging the mystery and figuring out what you can live with.

  115. Michael says:

    I have always found it disturbing that it’s always the victims of abuse that are in danger of being apostates…abusers have a special dispensation because they “believe the Word’…

  116. Jean says:

    Wolf and apostate are not the same thing, but they go to the same place.

    In fact there are special passages for church leaders, including the following:

    “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account.”

  117. Babylon's Dread says:

    “I also suspect that people like Reuben and I will be the “illegal immigrants” of the new heavens and earth with many wondering how the hell we got in and wishing for a wall…”

    THAT left me screaming especially since I have had so many quote the walls dimensions from the apocalypse. That’s a great line.

    I frankly also enjoy the thought of those who thought they left finding the hook in their jaw dragged them through the pearlies.

    “I have always found it disturbing that it’s always the victims of abuse that are in danger of being apostates…abusers have a special dispensation because they “believe the Word’…”

    That was another ‘gem’

    So glad we have lutherans to parse the matter finely.

    All that aside your 9:26 keeps types like me around.

  118. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Where does anyone say that abusers get a special dispensation – at all? I read the Bible stating just the opposite, that the abuser gets a one way non stop trip to hell – with no appeals process.

    In Reuben’s case, I did not threaten him with apostasy, in fact I gave him permission to go his own way — well, not really permission, but I acknowledged his free choice to walk away. I think I acted very much like Jesus in John 6 when the followers left him and Jesus said, “don’t let the door hit you in the butt on your way out.” (my paraphrase) – and Reuben thanked me.

  119. Babylon's Dread says:

    MLD,

    Michael made his point and it was not about you rather those of us who condemn others righteously vs the self-condemned by apostate actions

  120. London says:

    FWIW-
    I think Ruben, Josh, Kevin etc were doing a very good job describing their positions and speaking respectfully to each other. I don’t think any of them were anywhere near escalating anything and perhaps they were coming to a better understanding of each other. I was certainly getting a better understanding of Ruben, in particular, thought process.

    Since Ruben brought up his drinking, I’m going to throw out this question, for him. Have you done any 12 step work, and if so, how do you define your “higher power” If you believe you are morally superior to God and to other people.

    Obviously, you don’t need to answer if you don’t want to. It’s none of my business, but I am curious.

  121. Jean says:

    If salvation and access to God and His Bride during this life has value, then aside from someone’s ultimate destiny in the age to come, there are tremendous benefits from remaining in the faith during this life, regardless of your view of perseverance.

    For many Christians, justification is more than forensic; it is freedom and inner peace and joy, and friendship with the living God, even contrary to physical experience.

  122. Michael says:

    London,
    It’s never easy to know when to call these threads or if they need called at all.
    I felt that it was going to escalate…Josh objected and the thread is still open.

  123. London says:

    I understand Michael.

    My question to Ruben remains.

  124. Reuben Mills says:

    I took the shutdown seriously, am I allowed to respond?

  125. Michael says:

    Reuben,

    Of course.
    If things stay between the lines I’ll let this proceed…

  126. Em says:

    Re Michael @ 10:51… Doesn’t the mention of gates indicate that there already is a barrier of some kind? BTW is St. Peter really the gatekeeper?

  127. Jerod says:

    Mr. Reuboto

    I hear you. That’s like Sartre’s “something has to exist before something that is even self-existent”.

    Norman Geisler says it like “[Atheists – not anti-theists – hold that] All theistic arguments are based on the ontological argument. But this argument is invalid because it assumes (wrongly) that existence is a predicate or perfection which adds some thing to the concept of the subject…”

    All I’m saying that even if God is evil, all you can do is emulate God’s evilness since you were created by God in God’s image (self-conciousness, capacity for reason, a body, an eternal spirit, and mind).

    Btw, no offense meant, but your experience or lack of experience of conversion is a question that you’ve had to at least broach, and not on the basis of your upbringing or effort.

    Based on the work of the Holy Spirit in your life. Seems like a massive conundrum to me. But I’m JustSomeGuy.

    See ya around here hopefully.

    You remind me of Solomon, or Manasseh. There’s nothing diabolical about you. Sorry :-/

    Have a great day, Reuben. I’d say you’re in my prayers, but, uh, I don’t want to freak you out 😉

  128. Reuben says:

    Thanks Michael, and Josh and I summed up understandings elsewhere, and all is kittens.

    London,

    Good question. After my 30 day inpatient rehab which required nightly meetings except on the weekends, I committed (despite my frustration with AA and NA) to the unwritten rule of 30 days. AA basically claims that after 30 days, you will be hooked for life, get a sponsor, eventually become a sponsor, and be drink free for the rest of your life.

    The problem I had with AA/NA in rehab was the perpetual focus on step 3, “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”

    I would be willing to bet anyone at this point could understand the problem I have with that, and maybe even get a chuckle from it. I sure did the first time I was exposed to it. I could meander around the rest until step 11, “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”

    By then I was out of control in my personal war with the entire program.

    Yet, upon my graduation from 30 day inpatient, I committed to do the thirty days, and see if anything plays out.

    In rehab, it was interesting, and heart breaking to listen to people talk about what led up to heroin or drinking, and probably about the time I left rehab, I was starting to notice that everyone was fixated on step three, and the meetings (some as large as 300 people) turned into testimony night for pastors at Calvary Chapel who would seemingly compete over who had the worst history as a sinner, and be judged by who got the largest standing ovation at the end of the tearful testimony.

    When I got out of rehab, I attended some of the big ones to hang with my new friends (all heroin addicts, coolest people ever) who were still in the rehab program, but eventually stopped to attend a local AA/NA meeting that was much smaller, but very active. My best heroin addict rehab friend and I attended that one for as much of the thirty day commitment we could. He is a Nihilist, I am a Marxist, we both hate the entire concept of god, so imagine as you will what fun we had in those meetings that were small enough to require us to speak every day.

    Two things that became impossible for me, I won’t speak for him.

    First, all anyone talked about was higher power once they discovered they had an Atheist and an Anti-Theist in the room. We called each other our higher power to basically laugh at the entire concept. He and I would sit next to each other and he would say I am his higher power, and I would say he is my higher power. It was not amusing to the group, many of whom had been at this particular meeting upwards of 20 years. I decided I would ask for a sponsor, and the man who volunteered immediately was a pastor. He then sought to daily save me. Back the next day after a chat with the sponsor to come to Jesus, and every person in the room would explain that the godless would not achieve sobriety. We wound up spending our circle time explaining why god was not going to do us any good, and the rest would spend their time explaining that without god, they would be dead. This went on for quite a while.

    Second, AA/NA is so geared towards not getting drunk or high that you are literally required to spend your days worried about not getting drunk or high. This was starting to become counterproductive as every meeting made me want to get wasted to deaden the sheer frustration of listening to people tell us perpetually that Jesus fixes everything or we die in a gutter with 2 gallons of Jack Daniels in our wretched guts. I expressed this in my last meeting there, and it was like the gates of hell opened, and it literally became a “Come to Jesus” moment right then and there. I guess you can’t say in AA/NA that perpetually dwelling on the addiction does not seem helpful to some with the addiction thing. Plus, Jesus is the ONLY answer to that addiction, so it was like getting run out of a church for heresy at that point.

    I have not attended since, although I have offered to visit a meeting or two with others I friended in rehab.

    Months later, I ran into an attendee of that last meeting, and he apologized for the constant barrage of higher power nonsense, and that he had been an atheist his entire life, and he still gets a lot from the 12 steps. I asked him what his higher power was, and he said, “Me!” I don’t agree that I am my own higher power, because as we have established, I am a dumpster fire.

    So that was AA/NA/12 Steps for me.

    I am glad you asked, London. It’s kind of a hilarious story.

    I tried Smart and one other one I forget the name of that claimed it was atheist friendly. There is an obvious divide between some format that can be whatever people want it to be, as those two other programs were in reality, and something as monolithic as AA which dies on the hill of structure. I actually had a greater fondness for AA/NA as a thing than the alternatives.

    I do not currently attend any weekly meetings. I don’t think most days about drinking, and am more focused on my new business. Focus was what I needed, my therapists agreed with that unanimously in rehab, and so I made focus and started a company that is taking on some massive accounts in such a short period of time that it has already surpassed my third year projections in 4 months. I am already looking for full time office staff, and stealing people I have worked with in the past from everywhere I can steal them from. At this rate, I will be the biggest Commercial HVAC company in Boulder and surrounding Counties by the end of 2019, and I don’t even have a website up yet! Haha!

    http://touchstonecbs.com

  129. Reuben says:

    Josephus,

    I have contemplated the question, was I ever saved to begin with…? You almost have to after saturating yourself with soteriology for half your life. The answer is I don’t know. Saved or not is your “in house” debate, and while it bothers me a bit, it does not bother me as much as say… god nuking Sodom because of his overt obsession with sex and jealousy. Obviously I don’t believe god created me evil, it is the very assertion that I protest.

    Good chatting with you Jeraldo, hope we get to do it more.

  130. Reuben says:

    Michael, I had to move myself to the restroom to cry a bit after reading your response. I truly feel you are the only person in my life who “gets it”. It breaks my heart too. I am going to be trying EMDR. I will of course let you know how it goes. The claims that it fixes people in 30 minutes are bologna according to my therapist and psychologist, and that it could take months of sessions, but they all believe it has done wonders for extreme PTSD cases.

  131. Jerod says:

    Oh, the names get better and better…

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