Would we know if it is God’s will?

There will be some people who read my last post about women who do not want equality and they will say, “Maybe it is God’ s will that women don’t have equality in our churches.  God is not allowing it to happen because it is His will. Because equality in church is wrong, and not the way God intended it to be from the beginning of time.  Because feminists keep trying to usurp God’s will and demand that God do it their way.  Maybe this is God  showing them that His way is for women to let men have authority over them.”

Bah, humbug!

Man has always done evil things and claimed that it was God’s will, and God did not intervene to stop man from his evil deeds.

The Medieval Inquisition led to other inquisitions and over a period of 700 years, evil reigned throughout Christendom.  Innocent people were tried, put in jail, had their property confiscated, murdered, and burned at the stake by those who claimed to be doing the will of God.

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) was formed because Baptists in the North did not want slavery, and the southern Baptists did, so they split and the Southern Baptist Convention was born.  We know slavery wasn’t right, but it was right in their minds.  There were individual Baptists who spoke out against slavery, and some people in the associations, and state conventions spoke out against it.  But the powerful leadership had their way, and would not listen to reason.  They would not listen to scripture that said to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  They had no love for their fellowman. And God allowed them grow and prosper.  The denomination is no longer growing and prospering.

Does God find favor in these Southern Baptists today who say that women must be under the authority of a male? Does God find favor in the writings of Wayne Grudem *when he sets out to explain the limited service positions that a woman can hold in a church?

Can we judge by the fact that many people are under their influence and are teaching and preaching the Danvers Statement and its restrictions on women? 

Sorry, fellas.  God does not always set right man’s evil ways.  He allows you to make bad decisions and to cause great harm to others.  Not because it is His will that men and women are tortured, jailed, or burned at the stake.  But because He has given free will to man.  And evil can be born of that free will.

It is a sin to deny women full equality before God.  There is no way you can say that women were created in the image of God, equal before God as persons  Danvers Statement Affirmations #1) and then deny them the privilege of serving God as He calls.

Women have not won yet, but that does not mean that God is pleased with the way women are treated.

* Thanks to Mabel who pointed me to this atrocity by Wayne Grudem.

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About bwebaptistwomenforequality

Shirley Taylor writes with humor and common sense, challenging the church body to reclaim equality for Christian women.
This entry was posted in Equality for women in Southern Baptist churches, The Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Biblical Womanhood and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

87 Responses to Would we know if it is God’s will?

  1. Robert says:

    Hello. I found your question extremely intriguing as I’ve pondered it often myself. Unfortunately, you didn’t appear to answer it, as far as I can tell. Or if you did, you answered it in the negative.

    That would be my conclusion too. There currently is no method to know what is God’s will, and what is not. Biblically speaking, you pretty much have to assume everything that transpires is God’s will, given His omniscience and the Divine Plan. Psalm 139:16 also furthers this view.

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    • Welcome!

      We know what God has told us to do, and we take our clues from that. We know that we are to love God. We know that we are to treat our fellow man as we would want to be treated. When we do those things, we can feel that we ourselves are doing God’s will. Even people in a bad society (the inquisitions, slavery) had an individual decision to make, and I believe that God holds us responsible for our individual decisions.

      I believe that God will hold us responsible for how we treat women. Even though our churches and society may not treat women fairly, we have a responsibility to do so.

      Thank you for joining our conversation. I write a new post Monday, Wednesay and Friday. Please stop by frequently. We welcome a good discussion.

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      • Robert says:

        We know what God has told us to do, and we take our clues from that.

        I presume those Christians with whom you contend do that very thing, so how would they ever know they’re in error? Or how would you know you’re in error?

        Christian slaveholders regarded themselves as perfectly in compliance with God’s will.

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      • They probably did think they were doing God’s will – except they overlooked Jesus’ most important command – to love their neighbor as themselves.

        They did not treat people as they would want to be treated. For centuries they lost sight of Jesus’ words. Cruelty is never God’s will. The holocaust, slavery, medievial inquisitions, and the way women were treated by the laws that were made, along with the physical abuse of women.

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  2. Mabel says:

    I need help. If ever I see Wayne Grudem in person, what should I say to him?Seriously, it is on my mind. I disagree with him so violently that I do think about how I would react if ever I see him face to face. It is hard for me to accept him as a brother, it really is. Please read his long laundry list of things women should and should not do, all involving the degree of authority in such ministries. Is he for real? Please help by giving me ideas.

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  3. Lydia says:

    The Joel Prophecy was God’s Will.

    Mabel, Don’t even bother with Grudem if you meet him. Run. The arrogance is stifling. You see, they are not wrong and your sex makes you suspect since you are easily deceived in the first place. And his ST is studied more than the Word at many seminaries. He is an idol to many pastors today.

    Remember, this is a man who said he “submitted” to his wife by giving up his brilliant career to move out West for her health. He took a job at a not so prestigious institution.

    We are all to bow down to his humility and greatness because he did what any loving husband would do but most would not brag about it publicly.

    Also remember that when he and Piper were roundly refuted by even comp scholars over Junia they tried to backtrack. They never admit they are wrong.

    Grudem ADDS to the Word what is not there. I don’t want to be anywhere around him when J-Day comes.

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  4. Mabel says:

    Thank you, Lydia. You can tell me more about WG any day.

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  5. Lydia says:

    That is the problem, Mabel, I have met many of these guys. People forget they have a gravy train speaking business, too. And I used to be in Christian marketing circles. (what an oxymoron!)

    You would not believe the sycophants that line up to touch their hands. They are practically worshiped by young men. (They would never admit that but it is so obvious). Tell me, how can someone live like that for years and it not affect them? They can’t.

    This is going to sound really mean but we must remember that Jesus told us the Pharisees were getting their “reward here”. That is what I think of when I see these men teaching human hierarchy instead of the indwelling Christ. We cannot serve both God and man.

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  6. Kristen says:

    Right. If you ever have an opportunity to meet Grudem, he’ll be so surrounded by hero-worshippers that you won’t need to get anywhere near him if you don’t want to.
    He wouldn’t have time to talk to you. He’s a superstar. Never mind that Jesus said “not so among you.”

    Part of this is simple human nature. But those in these positions ought to at least try not to buy into it. I can’t judge him in this regard; I don’t know his record. But I do know that an opportunity to actually speak to him and be heard, as a person, is almost outside the realm of possibility.

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    • OK. So Mabel is not going to get to meet Grudem to find out what she will do! Now is the BIG question. Since Mabel can’t meet Grudem, and by inference, WE can’t, what impact do you think we can have? Against Grudem’s Lordship?

      Ideas, anyone?

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  7. Lydia says:

    “OK. So Mabel is not going to get to meet Grudem to find out what she will do! Now is the BIG question. Since Mabel can’t meet Grudem, and by inference, WE can’t, what impact do you think we can have? Against Grudem’s Lordship?”

    Exactly what you are doing. Encouraging folks to be Bereans instead of believing everything they are taught from pulpits, books, conferences. And not to be impressed with titles. Jesus sent us the Best Teacher: The Holy Spirit.

    Believe me, the blogosphere has really made a diference in the last 10 years. People are questioning these B doctrines like never before.

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  8. Lydia says:

    Go read this:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=NHPxcYNV0BwC&pg=PA104&lpg=PA104&dq=Wayne+Grudem+God+submits+to+us+when+he+helps+us&source=bl&ots=ysQ-qlbAA9&sig=Ztbjkom1VNczhT_xib7hir9P0Ak&hl=en&ei=URCiTeHpFNCgtweuxNGMAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&sqi=2&ved=0CBcQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

    Now, here is the big problem I have with Grudem, false teacher. In this book, he implies that “God submits to us when He helps us”. He implies this to sell his theory of what “helper” means in Gen 3:16. (“help
    comparable” is the better translation)

    Nevermind that many men in the OT are named after Ezer and God is called an Ezer which is why Grudem has to stretch this to mean something it does not)

    God submits to us when He helps us? All these so called educated theologians go along with something so ridiculous? It boggles the mind.

    He also implies that Jesus is not fully God. This is because they sell the belief that Jesus did not empty Himself and give up His Glory to come to earth as a human (Phil 2) but that Jesus was only following orders from God. And all of this is the heresy of Eternal Subordination of the Son which is all over the place in Evangelical circles to sell their pet false doctrine of authorities in the Body and in marriage.

    What fleshly young man would not love this as it is sold as “virtue”. Seriously, they are selling sinful fleshly desires as virtue.

    Grudem is a false teacher. Jesus Christ, eternity past and future is God. The Triune God does not have a pecking order.

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  9. Mabel says:

    Lydia, R U trying to kill me by having me click on that link and read that garbage masquerading as theology? My blood pressure was rising and I have to run for my life. “the fact that a line of authority exists from one person to another in both slavery and marriage, and, for that matter, in the Holy Trinity……”? He sounds like a mentally deranged man to me.

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  10. Mabel says:

    Guys, knowing that I will not find myself in the uncomfortable situation of meeting Grudem face to face does eliminate all my previous anxiety! Thank you all!!!

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  11. Mabel says:

    Shirley, I was thinking, could I find myself sitting next to him in an airplane? It is possible, unless he does not fly economy. Joel and Victoria Osteen do not fly economy.

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  12. Mabel says:

    I don’t know what His Ordained Highness Most Reverend Lord Doctor Professor Overseer Bishop Grudem King of Manhood flies in, but me Royal Priest (1Peter2:9) Mabel flies economy 🙂

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  13. Lydia says:

    “Lydia, R U trying to kill me by having me click on that link and read that garbage masquerading as theology?

    What? You did not buy the part where he says he “subordinates” himself to his children when he helps them with their homework? :o)

    He MUST believe this or his “Eve as Ezer” cannot mean that she is a perpetual Jr. Assistant to Adam. So, he must redefine God in the meantime: God is called an Ezer so it must mean that God submits to us when He helps us.

    He starts with a wrong premise and ends up with God as subordinate to us when He helps us. Heresy and Blasphemy.

    Because the false premise is that an Ezer MUST be subordinate. Otherwise, they have NO foundation for male authority in marriage. So, they make up a false one and throw in creation order which means animals are higher on the food chain than Eve.

    My friend, Cindy Kunsman makes an excellent point about these guys. They introduce a ton of red herrings to keep people from thinking deeply about what they are really saying and connecting the twisted dots. When one analyzes it, it is absurd.

    All so they can have authority and preeminance. It is worldly masquerading as doctrine. And in the meantime, they insult a Sovereign God.

    This is the guy who is an idol to many young pastors and seminarians. They read his book more than the bible.

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  14. Mara says:

    Okay, I was looking for pictures of ol’ Wayne to get an idea of his stature and stumbled on this.

    http://thebluefish.org/2008/02/my-karaoke-heroes-aka-south-west-relay.html

    Don’t click on it, Mabel, if you haven’t recovered from the other links. I like you and don’t want to kill you. Not for just more evidence of the worship of the man, little wayne.

    Like

  15. Mabel says:

    I was going to risk my life and watch that video. I make sure I watch it B4 I eat lunch. (barf) But I can’t open the video. Supernatural intervention. Phew! I did read the rap adoration of their hero and how he said he quite enjoyed it.

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  16. Robert says:

    They probably did think they were doing God’s will – except they overlooked Jesus’ most important command – to love their neighbor as themselves.

    There are of course caveats to this command. Jesus also said, “Do not allow a sorceress to live.” (Ex. 22:18). He also commanded the genocide of several nations. In the NT, whenever the question of slavery arose, it wasn’t answered with the above “most important” command to slaveowners, but with the advice to slaves to essentially grin and bear it (1 Peter 2:18) – an implicit sanctioning of slavery.

    Some of Christianity’s most celebrated theologians – Luther, Augustine – saw no inherent conflict with Jesus’s commands and the view that violence against Jews and heretics was wholly justified.

    Do you oppose gay marriage? Why? Shouldn’t you “love your neighbor as yourself”?

    Like

    • Mara says:

      I’m going to let someone else answer intellegently your question about gay marriage. And I’m going to be nice to you and give you the benefit of the doubt concerning your intentions.

      But to be quite honest, I get very, very, very (x100) tired of every time women just ask for basic human consideration, to be allowed to be all that they can be, just as men are allowed to be all that they can be within the church,… every time women ask for this someone brings up gay marriage.

      These things have NOTHING to do with each other. The CBMW spin doctors have made this false connection to muddy the waters and confuse the issue.
      Gay marriage is wrong. It is a sin. Being a woman is not wrong, nor is it a sin. Being a woman who feels called to be in the ministry and serving people and teaching people is not wrong, nor is it a sin. Myself being a female, I get tired of having to defend my right to love God and serve Him in the manner I feel called and have to continually making the distiction between gay marriage (condemned by the Bible) and being a female leader/prophet/apostle/elder/deacon/or teacher for God (as demonstrated by very many Old and New Testament examples).

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      • Robert says:

        Mara, thank you for confirming my basic point – there are caveats to Jesus’s command “to love your neighbor as yourself”. Many, many caveats. The command thus cannot be the trump for doing God’s will as Shirley had earlier suggested.

        We’re still left with the basic problem “Would we know if it is God’s will?” In your view, women should be on equal footing with men in terms of administering the Gospel, and you cite various NT and OT examples. Other Christians vehemenently disagree, citing the Corinthians and Timothy epistles.

        What is God’s will on this question? It seems less than clear, to put it mildly. And this is but one question among a vast multitude.

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  17. Mabel says:

    Mara, great answer!
    Robert, Jesus loves sinners, but he did not sin. Love does not mean condoning sinful behavior. However, we are to love as God loves regardless of race, social standing, looks, and gender. There is no condoning sinful behavior in this formula. I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt that you are not equating being a woman with being homosexual. Like Mara, I am quite sick of people who equate women with homosexuals.

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    • Robert says:

      Mabel, in the antebellum South, disobeying the slavemaster was considered sinful, as well as refusing to return a runaway slave.

      Up until relatively recently, interracial marriage was regarded as sinful.

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  18. Lydia says:

    ” In the NT, whenever the question of slavery arose, it wasn’t answered with the above “most important” command to slaveowners, but with the advice to slaves to essentially grin and bear it (1 Peter 2:18) – an implicit sanctioning of slavery.”

    Robert, To answer the first part of your comment: We are under a New Covenant.

    Secondly, as to above Paul wrote:
    21 Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. 22 For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings. 24 Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.

    So, gain your freedom if you can. Then we have the book of Philemon that is pretty radical in that culture: Treat your slave as a brother in Christ.

    Because in Christ…in the Body…there is no slave or free.

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    • Robert says:

      Robert, To answer the first part of your comment: We are under a New Covenant.

      The writer of 1 Peter apparently did not get that memo. For most of its history, the Christian church regarded slavery as ordained by God. Why did it take so long for the church to realize slavery was not God’s will (if it truly isn’t)?

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      • Lydia says:

        No Robert, the “Church” throughout the ages did not get the “memo”. Just like they did not get the memo about transbustantiation, state church, and many other ridiculous man made “traditions” and interpretations.

        1 Peter is about living as believers around unbelievers. Jesus Christ did not change culture. He changes HEARTS. Obviously many did not really change who claimed Him. So, they twisted scripture to fit their flesh. A divine king over a state church? Really?

        Peter is not condoning slavery. Paul wrote that they should get free if they can. If they cannot they should be content. They are FREE and equal in the Body…See Galatians.

        I guess you ignored his advice to Philemon? Pretty radical since Phil had legal cause to put Oni to death for running away. Instead, Paul tells him to treat Oni as a brother in Christ.

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  19. Lydia says:

    “Some of Christianity’s most celebrated theologians – Luther, Augustine – saw no inherent conflict with Jesus’s commands and the view that violence against Jews and heretics was wholly justified.”

    There is the problem. these HUMANS are celebrated. That is the whole point…we are not to follow man but Christ.

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    • Robert says:

      Lydia, if you read Luther and Augustine, you’ll see the regard themselves as following Christ. Here’s an example from Luther’s On the Jews and Their Lies:

      “[Jesus] did not call them Abraham’s children, but a “brood of vipers” [Matt. 3:7]. Oh, that was too insulting for the noble blood and race of Israel, and they declared, “He has a demon’ [Matt 11:18]. Our Lord also calls them a “brood of vipers”; furthermore in John 8 [:39,44] he states: “If you were Abraham’s children ye would do what Abraham did…. You are of your father the devil. It was intolerable to them to hear that they were not Abraham’s but the devil’s children, nor can they bear to hear this today.”

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      • Lydia says:

        Robert, I fail to see what it matters what they think. They are historical figures. They are not the Holy Spirit who is the BEST teacher.

        I am not understanding your point. Are you saying that because they claim to be Christians we must follow their example?

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  20. Lydia says:

    “Do you oppose gay marriage? Why? Shouldn’t you “love your neighbor as yourself”?”

    Paul counseled the Corinthians in chapter 5 about what to do with one who professes Christ and was flaunting his sexually immorality. That advice was from LOVE. So this person could be saved.

    Jude says we must love people enough to try and “snatch them from the fire”.

    And my friends here have done well to remind us that being a woman is not a sin. Homosexuality is.

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  21. Mabel says:

    Thank you, Lydia.

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  22. Mabel says:

    Robert, before Jesus died, He told the disciples that he will send the Holy Spirit, which will lead them into the truth. In order for anyone to ever hope to understanding the truth, that person needs to admit he is a sinner, repent of his sins, accept Jesus’ Christ death of the cross as atonement for his sins, and turn away from sin. He also has to revere God as the one and only God. If you have an attitude that you know more than God, that there is no God, or everything Christians stand for are false, then you will never understand, nor find Truth. Until you give up your atheism, God is not likely to reveal Himself to the proud. I did not understand where you came from until I clicked on your name and realized that you are an atheist. You are very welcome to dialog with us though.

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    • Well, how about that. Thank you Mabel. I had no idea. Thank you for this information and for sharing the gospel with Robert.

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    • Robert says:

      In order for anyone to ever hope to understanding the truth, that person needs to admit he is a sinner, repent of his sins, accept Jesus’ Christ death of the cross as atonement for his sins, and turn away from sin. He also has to revere God as the one and only God.

      Pardon me, I’m sometimes obtuse. It sounds as if your saying that in order to understand Gospel truth, you have to accept it as truth in the first place. That seems question begging, a fallacy.

      It’s like a Muslim saying that once you accept that there is no god but Allah, and Muhammed is his prophet, only then will you understand that there is no god but Allah, and Muhammed is his prophet.

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  23. Lydia says:

    “What is God’s will on this question? It seems less than clear, to put it mildly. And this is but one question among a vast multitude.”

    Then God is arbitrary and confusing. He had Mary M deliever the Good News first to MEN. He also gave us the Joel Prophecy for the church age. And since there is NO prohibition to women teaching men in the OT, I find it curious He would add a new on in the New Covenant. Obviously, there is a problem interpreting a few proof text concerning women.

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  24. Lydia says:

    Robert, God’s will is a red herring. His will is clear in scripture: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, repent of your sins and you will be saved.

    Please do not confuse what is “descriptive” in scripture from what is “prescriptive”. In fact, we know from scripture that God was very angry that the Jews wanted a king like the pagans had. God was their king. Yet, He gave them one anyway. That is descriptive. Not prescriptive.

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  25. Paula says:

    Hello Robert,

    You raise a question that is very common: if we have the Spirit and the Word, yet so many extreme differences on interpretation, does this not mean that our claims of how to determine Truth are baseless?

    One way I respond to this is with the illustration of a transmitter and receivers. Back in my pre-teen and teen years (in the Stone Age before internet or CDs), I’d try to pick up the “underground” radio station about 60 miles away. My little radio tried its best but I could only pick up a snippet of a song here and there with much static between. The problem wasn’t the transmitter, it was the distance that weakened the signal, and my little radio couldn’t overcome it. Yet I knew the station was there, and others with better radios or who were nearer to it affirmed it was always broadcasting clearly.

    God is the transmitter, the station. His signal is clear and strong. But as one strays farther away or uses an inferior method of “listening” (other or no religions, or the kind of apostasy and willful blindness described so aptly by others here), it becomes distorted and drowned out. And none of us is a perfect “receiver”; we’re all little transistor radios with short antennae. 🙂 It’s a recipe for disagreement. But the fault is not God’s, nor the Bible’s, nor the Spirit’s, but solely ours. Even if I knew no one else with a better radio or living a shorter distance to the station, I should be able to figure out that there really is one and that my reception is the problem. Likewise, God has given us plenty of evidence, not the least of which is the legal case for the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

    Jesus told us that the way is narrow and few find it, but made it incredibly easy to find. Paul and Peter warned that as soon as they died there would be ‘”vicious wolves” arising from among believers and the flock would be scattered. That’s exactly what happened, yet we are surprised. The confusion and disagreement we see is just what we should have expected. But just as surely, we should also expect that a few in each generation would seek God, and scripture tells us that God makes sure such people find Him.

    Here you are. 😉

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    • Robert says:

      Hi Paula, I liked your analogy, but I see a flaw. We are like “receivers,” you said, but which are imperfectly tuned to the “clear and strong” signal. The result is, in your words, disagreement.

      Yet who is responsible for this situation? Why, the designer of the receivers! If I build a radio that I know does not adequately pick up the signal I transmit, do I blame the radio? Of course not. The fault rightly belongs with me.

      I explore this problem more in depth with my blog “The Holy Spirit is worse than useless“, in which I wrote:

      “The central conundrum…is that the feeling of the inner witness of the Holy Spirit – as a completely subjective experience, but one held to be authoritative – offers no means for authentication. It is indistinguishable from that of a fraudulent or delusional feeling. Consequently, even if there is a single Truth, it will constantly be obscured by error, which will compound itself as error begets error begets error ad nauseum. This partly explains the permanent mutation of the Christian religion (or any religion for that matter which propounds such feelings as evidence of its truth). Therefore, the method the Christian god is alleged to impart truth among his followers is not simply ineffective but detrimental. “

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      • Paula says:

        Robert,

        To borrow a line from ST2, The Wrath of Kahn, “You proceed from a false assumption”: that unless God through the Holy Spirit gives the complete solution to the puzzles of life to each and every individual, He is, in your words, “worse than useless”. You don’t seem to have considered the possibility that God has more goals for us than simple knowledge, that He might also want us to learn and grow, including learning how to cooperate. We are also supposed to develop character, and this seems to happen at least as well when we have disagreements instead of only agreements. How we disagree might possibly be more important than whether we agree. This leads to the issue of faith; do we trust God when our limited understanding fails us? Do we love others even when we think they’re way off base?

        I don’t know if you have children, but a good parent doesn’t simply spoon-feed their children all their knowledge. The best guide or teacher will try and get the children to think for themselves, to explore. If God is a good “parent”, then why should He be expected to spoon-feed us? It’s the journey that matters, not just the destination. And a good parent also recognizes that each child is unique.

        The Holy Spirit is not like a subliminal recording we put under our pillows at night and hope we absorb knowledge by some kind of osmosis or magic. He is a teacher who doesn’t shout when we goof up but lets us make our own mistakes. Neither does He expect all to grow at the same rate or force us to all march lockstep on the same path. He is also called a “seal” or “deposit” that guarantees our “inheritance” as “children of God”, a sign to the spirit world that we belong to Jesus and our souls are off-limits. In other words, there is much more going on here than most people realize.

        People can violate their consciences to the point where it disappears; nobody disputes this. But it’s also possible for Christians to squelch or grieve or suppress the voice of the Holy Spirit till they don’t hear Him anymore. This is an individual choice, not something God imposes. On the other extreme are people who so love God and immerse themselves in the scriptures that they hear the Spirit better than most. Between these two extremes are the majority, who sincerely desire to please God but have not applied themselves to the discipline inherent in the word “disciple”. So we have a wide range of independent souls, on various paths and at various paces.

        Robert, you have stuffed God and people into tiny, airless boxes, viewing each as a speciment in a Petri dish instead of a living, active being. Your premises are oversimplified and you have set yourself up as the judge and jury against God, mocking His alleged failings which are really your own, thus burning a cosmic straw man. The god you would invent would merely have created robots or puppets for his divine amusement. Yet in spite of what you demand of the real God, you would never allow your creatures to defy you, judge you, or leave you, much less to provide a way to reconcile should they change their minds.

        Whatever faults you deem God to be guilty of, the fact remains that Jesus came down to our level, lived the perfect life we couldn’t, died for our sins while we were still His enemies, rose from the dead, and promised to return when the time was right. For all that He only asks us to trust Him. I don’t think that’s a lot to ask or a difficult puzzle to solve. But as Jesus put it, people often won’t believe even if someone rises from the dead. Many atheists say they’d believe if God showed Himself to them, but they never can say what exactly that would be since everything could be dismissed as a hallucination. They want God to draw a square circle and then jump throught it– which is to say, they are irrational fools.

        Don’t be one of those, Robert. Please.

        Like

  26. Mabel says:

    Thank you Paula for your apt analogy in answering a very common question. I love it.

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  27. Mabel says:

    Eric, that picture is probably more than 10 years old. Here is another picture:
    http://strivetoenter.com/wim/2009/07/04/wayne-grudems-an-open-letter-to-egalitarians/

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  28. TL says:

    ”Mara, thank you for confirming my basic point – there are caveats to Jesus’s command “to love your neighbor as yourself”.”

    Robert, godly love covers a lot of ground. Even when a person makes a concerted effort to love in what they might consider a holy, unselfish, and non self serving way, they may not get it fully right. But it is an aim that those who love God need to make in order to have any hope of loving people the way that God loves us all.

    Your questions about the way life was in the Old Testament times versus the way it is today are reasonable but you do not take into consideration the differences. 1) life was primitive in comparison to modern times 2) the Messiah, who came to save ALL who would believe in Him had not yet arrived. Thus, God would give different guidelines to those who did not have the benefit of the Holy Spirit’s guidance in a wild world ruled by machismo.

    God’s view on the world and life are different than ours. God is timeless and lives outside of time. God accomplishes things by events. Each event in human history allowed God to build upon it. After Jesus was born, lived, died and was resurrected, all history was changed. And the way God deals with humanity was changed as well. In the example of Christ’s life we have a view of how to love as God loves.

    Like

    • Robert says:

      TL, you wrote,

      Your questions about the way life was in the Old Testament times versus the way it is today are reasonable but you do not take into consideration the differences.

      I think the answer to this claim is very simple: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

      Notice the words “all scripture”. If God has not wanted the OT to guide your life now, He would not have included it in His word, right?

      Like

  29. Kristen says:

    Agreed. None of us can fully grasp or express the love of God. Luther and Augustine thought they had it right, but their view of love was conditioned by their own understandings. And so is ours today. Christians throughout history have disagreed on how to “love one another,” “love our neighbor” and “love our enemies,” but we all agree that Jesus said to love all of them. It is Jesus whom we follow, not a system called “Christianity.” I’m falling short, as we all are– but we can all agree on that.

    Like

    • Robert says:

      Kristen, who is say that you’re falling less short than, say, Luther, Augustine, or our infamous Wayne Grudem?

      Like

      • Kristen says:

        Robert, I may very well be falling as short as they. All I can do is the same thing you do– the best I can, with what knowledge I have. 🙂

        Like

  30. Robert says:

    Thank you all for your thoughtful responses! For parsimony’s sake, I’ll devote a single reply to each individual’s responses. Lydia is first.

    Robert, I fail to see what it matters what they think. They are historical figures. They are not the Holy Spirit who is the BEST teacher.

    I highlight this quote because I think it illuminates your dilemma. These figures undoubtedly believed they were following the Holy Spirit, i.e., God’s will. You seem to be suggesting that they –and other Christians you regard as in error — expressed the things they did in spite of the Holy Spirit’s teaching, and in full knowledge of that fact. To me, this is simply an inexplicable view and no where in evidence.

    I must admit, the following statements of yours have me a tad confused:

    “Then God is arbitrary and confusing…Obviously, there is a problem interpreting a few proof text concerning women.”

    “God’s will is a red herring. His will is clear in scripture…”

    Perhaps you could clarify what you mean here, for they seem to be contradictory not just between themselves, but with Christian theology (1 Cor. 14:33).

    Like

  31. Lydia says:

    “I highlight this quote because I think it illuminates your dilemma. These figures undoubtedly believed they were following the Holy Spirit, i.e., God’s will. You seem to be suggesting that they –and other Christians you regard as in error — expressed the things they did in spite of the Holy Spirit’s teaching, and in full knowledge of that fact. To me, this is simply an inexplicable view and no where in evidence.”

    Robert, the second I start looking to another human for spiritual truth, I am in trouble. I teach this concept of spiritual belief to my 10 year old. It is MY responsibility to seek the Lord Jesus Christ. It is MY responsibility to study, pray, worship, etc. I read lots of stuff but because I have been a Berean for so long now, I recognize error a lot sooner. Of course, the more I study, the more I realize how much I still do not know. And unlike Luther or Augustine, I have incredible resources at my fingertips for free. For example, I can access an interlinear for free. I can look at how the Greeks interpreted certain words in their secular literature, etc.

    Jesus sent us the BEST Counselor and Teacher: The Holy Spirit. He told us that we are all now in the “priesthood”. There is NO such thing as “laity” in the NT. If saved, we are all “ministers”. I admit that man has gotten this very wrong for several thousand years now. It only proves to me how fleshly and worldly we really are. At one time, people even believed in Divine Kings. Go figure.

    “Perhaps you could clarify what you mean here, for they seem to be contradictory not just between themselves, but with Christian theology (1 Cor. 14:33).”

    33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.

    Paul is specifically responding to questions about the assembly meetings. In fact, if you look at his advice on meetings earlier in that chapter, they sound much more chaotic than what we do now! Several speaking…others judging what they say, etc. How many churches do that on Sunday morning? Even most SS classes have ONE teacher.

    Yet Paul thinks this method of the Body operating can be “peaceful” and not chaotic. A far cry from what we are doing today. In fact, he explains in other areas of Corinthians that everyone in the Body functions.

    I am not sure how this relates to God’s will being a red herring. I can say at first I thought you were disagreeing with women in ministry so I responded wrongly on the woman question. Those who disagree with women teaching men ignore the Joel prophecy and the fact that there is no prohibition in the OT on women teaching men as we see with Deborah and Huldah, etc. That is why I said that about arbitrary and confusing. God isn’t. His commands and promises are always clear. The problem is when people try to say certain things are His commands when they aren’t.

    Like

  32. Robert says:

    Robert, the second I start looking to another human for spiritual truth, I am in trouble.

    Lydia, I apologize if I was less than clear. I did not suggest you should look to another human for spiritual truth (though, you do this when reading the Bible, which was, after all, written by humans); rather, that these humans also felt they were following the Holy Spirit, and yet have come to wildly different conclusions than you. And if Christians have gotten it wrong for thousands of years, what assurance do we have that you’ve suddenly gotten it right?

    Those who disagree with women teaching men ignore the Joel prophecy and the fact that there is no prohibition in the OT on women teaching men as we see with Deborah and Huldah, etc.

    I’d like to quote something TL stated above,

    “After Jesus was born, lived, died and was resurrected, all history was changed. And the way God deals with humanity was changed as well. In the example of Christ’s life we have a view of how to love as God loves.” (emphasis mine)

    So either we can draw inspiration from the OT, or we should ignore it for the most part, because the way God deals with humanity, including the way His word was to be taught, was changed after Jesus was born.

    Like

  33. TL says:

    “So either we can draw inspiration from the OT, or we should ignore it for the most part, because the way God deals with humanity, including the way His word was to be taught, was changed after Jesus was born.”

    Ahhh. cut and paste again, eh? 🙂

    Of course we must draw inspiration from the OT. Yet, because Christ fulfilled the legal requirements of the OT, the Law is no longer even temporarily sufficient to claim righteousness from. Much has changed. Yet, all the past contains good lessons for life.

    It appears you just like the mental gymnastics of argument. 🙂

    Like

    • Robert says:

      TL, if you can prove to your fellow Christians what has changed from the OT and what remains valid, you’ll do a tremendous service. This is a perenniel disagreement that has never been resolved in Church history.

      I’m sure once you say you were guided by the Holy Spirit, all objections will fall away, right 😉

      For the record, I enjoy discussion, and yes, argument. It helps me understand the viewpoints of others and to make sense of this wonderful world I find myself in.

      Like

  34. TL says:

    “Kristen, who is say that you’re falling less short than, say, Luther, Augustine, or our infamous Wayne Grudem?”

    Not easy to ‘fall’ less short than Grudem. Is he even 5ft? 🙂

    Like

  35. Robert says:

    Paula, you wrote,

    “You proceed from a false assumption”: that unless God through the Holy Spirit gives the complete solution to the puzzles of life to each and every individual, He is, in your words, “worse than useless”.

    This was not my contention or argument at all.

    Rather, I examined the Christian claim that something called the Holy Spirit confirms the truth to Christians. In my blog, I even cited the relevant Biblical scriptures (1 John 5:6, John 14:17). Lydia, Mabel, and TL repeated this claim in various forms. I quoted my central argument above.

    We are also supposed to develop character, and this seems to happen at least as well when we have disagreements instead of only agreements.

    Perhaps, but the result has been immense suffering, even for Christians. I’m thinking foremost of the sectarian wars that punctuated much of Christian history over these disagreements. While, thankfully, such wars are a rarity nowadays, Christians suffer still. Shirley Taylor’s fight against inequality in the Christian church is exhibit number 1.

    What’s behind these disagreements? It’s invariably the same thing: Christians regarding themselves as defenders of what the Holy Spirit has taught or led them to. You write that “it’s also possible for Christians to squelch or grieve or suppress the voice of the Holy Spirit till they don’t hear Him anymore.” Naturally, you believe neither yourself or Shirley falls into this category, but perhaps you do? How do you know Grudem does? As I wrote, there is no means to determine which of you is mistaken when both sides unshakably believe themselves in possession of Spirit-confirmed Truth.

    Many atheists say they’d believe if God showed Himself to them, but they never can say what exactly that would be since everything could be dismissed as a hallucination. They want God to draw a square circle and then jump throught it– which is to say, they are irrational fools.

    I think this is caricature and more straw-man. Nonetheless, may I request we stick to the topic at-hand?

    Like

    • Paula says:

      Robert,

      You still proceed from a false assumption. You still dismiss the human factor, the growth and matters of character I talked about, because the Holy Spirit does not force or operate people like puppets. Just as we say “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”, so also the HS can “lead us into all truth” but will not force us to see or obey it. (BTW, neither of the verses you mentioned support your argument. They say who/what the Spirit is, not the interaction between Him and us.)

      You also presume that a good God would never allow suffering, or at least not more than you deem acceptable. You continue to ignore free will and the mercy of God in allowing anything GOOD to happen in a world that has for the most part told God to take a hike. Again, the issue is faith and character, which are all too easy to display when things are going well. Evil is a choice people make, and of course we have an adversary called Satan who fans the flames. I wrote a book explaining all this: http://books.fether.net/index.php?theBook=3 . So my assessment of your argument as much too narrow in scope still stands.

      Then you proceed to judge Christians as bad (whatever that could possibly mean to an atheist) because they have the audacity to keep opinions and convictions you don’t share. Who are you to be the judge of Christians? What possible basis is there for your alleged right to tell us how we should act? And why are atheists apparently so obsessed with theism at all? I wouldn’t think of going out of my way to argue continually with people who believe in, say, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but atheist “zealots” can’t seem to leave Christians alone. Many of them even write books about God and Christianity, launch ad campaigns against theistic faiths, or even file lawsuits to keep theism out of public discourse. Were Christians doing things like that, we’d be accused of psychosis.

      Further, you then show a double standard in your continual inference that your perceptions, values, beliefs, and behavior are superior to ours, and you thereby commit the same “sin” you accuse myself and Shirley of. By what right to you point fingers at us for allegedly feeling “holier than thou” while you have done the same thing in every comment so far? You are here to judge and condemn us by your own arbitrary standards while taking issue with us for allegedly doing the same thing.

      You are capable of examining the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection, and what you do with that evidence is your own responsbility. But do not presume to lecture people of faith on spiritual matters. Your questions re. Grudem are in the same category as ones I might ask about atheist scientists who vehemently disagree with each other; how am I supposed to figure out who is right? Are they both wrong? By your standards I should just declare science itself to be a hoax and a joke, since according to you there are no objective standards.

      We have the Bible, and we are humans doing our best to follow what we understand and please the God we worship. God will judge us all fairly for what we did with what we were given. We are Christians because we are convinced that Jesus rose from the dead. We don’t have every detail nailed down because we are not God. But apparently atheists think they are perfect and divine, having all answers and standing as judges over all people and their gods, even going “house to house” (blog to blog) to do so.

      Finally, do not lecture me on staying on topic; I have not left it and this is not your blog. You accuse me of caricature but I speak from experience and not one atheist has ever been able to say what could falsify their claim that no God exists. So your objection is nothing but a red herring since you cannot answer the question. You keep demanding that Christians explain themselves to you, but when one of us puts you under your own spotlight you cry “straw man”. So until you say what would constitute irrefutable proof of God’s existence, I will not respond to you further. I’m only holding you to your own rules here, just as you have been trying to do to us.

      Like

      • Robert says:

        Paula, you wrote,

        Just as we say “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”, so also the HS can “lead us into all truth” but will not force us to see or obey it.

        As I’ve consistently maintained, Christians who disagree with one another all regard themselves as having been led to the truth by the HS. It’s never been my claim that the HS “forces” people to act or believe in a certain way. Rather, they positively know that the HS has testified to the truth of their beliefs, in the way that Christian apologist William Lane Craig describes it:

        “the witness, or testimony, of the Holy Spirit is its own proof; it is unmistakable; it does not need other proofs to back it up; it is self-evident and attests to its own truth.”

        As I understand your argument, you appear to be suggesting that the HS parcels out pieces of truth so that Christians may “learn and grow, including learning how to cooperate.” Yet, if true, this has caused devastating consequences for not only Christians but humanity. Hundreds of millions have suffered and died as a result of Christians’ errors in understanding or disagreements of what exactly is the truth. Your claim could be true, but the implications are pretty horendous.

        Then you proceed to judge Christians as bad (whatever that could possibly mean to an atheist) because they have the audacity to keep opinions and convictions you don’t share…you then show a double standard…apparently atheists think they are perfect and divine…

        More caricature, which I regard is outside the bounds of the blog topic. I’ll be happy to answer your polemic on your site should you choose to post a blog supporting these accusations.

        Finally, do not lecture me on staying on topic.

        I asked, “may I request we stick to the topic at-hand?” This constitutes a lecture? I suggest the only lecture here is bulk of your comments above.

        So until you say what would constitute irrefutable proof of God’s existence, I will not respond to you further.

        1 Peter 3:15

        Like

  36. TL says:

    Robert,

    ”I’m sure once you say you were guided by the Holy Spirit, all objections will fall away, right “

    There are Christians who use the concept that the Holy Spirit guides us as a sort of rubber stamp on whatever seems good to them, much the same way that others use the concept of personal insight and logic as a rubber stamp on truth. There is a relevant not-eternal truth. There are principles of truth from which we can derive right actions. There is also eternal truths which are more spiritual rather than earthly minded.

    Figuring out the truth one needs at the moment from all those possibilities is not an easy task. Hearing God’s voice in one’s person is also a learning process, which we are promised we can learn. Those who are Christ’s hear the Shepherd’s voice. Those who do not belong to Christ, do not hear His voice and consider the idea ridiculous. Sometimes, Christians are mistaken when they claim that “God told them”. In order to rightly claim such, what is claimed must not be against what Scripture says because we do know that Scripture holds truth. Even within those guidelines, it is not easy because often people simply want to see what they want to see. Sin blinds the mind.

    Applying that to the covenantal laws of the OT is a matter of understanding the differences of the New Testament covenant in The Messiah and the OT covenant in the Law. Christ fulfilled the Law and nailed it to the cross of His sacrifice. Thus, now we are righteous in Him and not through perfectly obeying The Law which only Christ was able to do anyway. This does not mean that The Law and the rest of the OT books are of no use. They are filled with godly principles that we should apply, as well as insights into what righteous and unrighteous behavior looks like. These things are evident. The question then becomes simpler when we ask God what He wants us personally to follow. God knows each individual heart and knows what insights we need to mature into better people. That’s where the Holy Spirit comes in to help us see our needs and the steps to maturity.

    I’m sure you’ll have more questions about that. It’s not really a subject one can address in a few sentences or paragraphs.

    Like

  37. Lydia says:

    Robert, Perhaps you have never met a real Christian. They are rare. They do not want preeminance. They would give up their life for another. They put others before themselves, they are not culture warriors, etc. They look a lot like Matthew 5. Jesus even said in Matthew 7, ‘Many will say, Lord, Lord, and I will say, I never knew you’. He then goes on to tell us the way is narrow and few find it.

    I can talk about the Holy Spirit all day, but if I bear no fruit of salvation, they are only words and are meaningless.

    Even the OT, God says several times He is only saving a remnant. I think the problem is that many claim Christ and are of two types of camps: Legalism or Cheap Grace. Neither one is of Christ.

    Like

  38. Lydia says:

    Robert, About Augustine and Luther….

    Augustine was into Manichaeism and Plotonius. He simply merged much of that philosophy with his later Theology. Had he not been somewhat successful in Carthage and Milan in his early years, I doubt we would have ever heard of him. He had already made a name of himself in certain circles.

    Luther wanted to “Reform” the Catholic Church. He still believed in the sacraments as a means to Grace. He believed in mandatory church attendance, too. That means the village drunk had to be in church on Sunday or face the magistrate. Why Luther thought that was NT, I cannot imagine.

    He wrote horrible things about Jews and women. Still, he was right about the Catholic church and the corruption but he still got lots wrong. If you read his 95 Thesis, it is mostly about the Pope and indulgences.

    Why people elevate these folks is beyond me. Of course, we have a ton more resources than they ever did for study.

    Like

  39. Paula says:

    Robert, I’ll humor you this last time but then don’t expect me to keep playing your games.

    The reference to leading a horse to water made the point that the HS will not force people to listen or obey. That explains why it isn’t the fault of the HS, whom you described as “worthless”, but of the people and the exercise of their free will. I did NOT say you said he forces people, but was countering your claim that the HS is “worthless”. So you are trying to “move the goal posts” in the middle of the game by changing the claim I was actually responding to. But as I said, no atheist or non-Christian has anything to say on this matter, as it is a spiritual one. You are still treating all this as a dead specimen in a Petri dish instead of a living thing.

    You continue also to merely repeat your assertion that it is the HS instead of the people whose exercise of free will has “devastating consequences” as you allege. The claim that either the HS or the people for “hundreds of millions” suffering and dying is ludicrous on its face; ever heard of Stalin or Pol Pot? They were ATHEISTS. Millions died because of DIRECT ACTIONS by those atheists. I defy your claim that Christian teachings come anywhere close. What’s “horrendous” is your repeated slandering of millions of Christians and God Himself.

    You keep saying “caricature” but use it in a way indicating you don’t understand the meaning of that word. I simply held up a mirror to your own behavior and arguments; if you don’t like what you see, don’t blame me. And yes, you are LECTURING when you try to play moderator or admin in someone else’s board. You are being evasive and still have not told us how God is supposed to prove himself to you, a very reasonable demand in light of your continued slander of Christians and defaming the Holy Spirit of God. You keep demanding answers of us but refuse to return the favor.

    As for your ref. to 1 Peter 3:15, you are not ASKING us anything but JUDGING and SLANDERING. You are no “seeker” but a wolf attacking the sheep, and a good shepherd not only can tell the difference but does not “dialog” with wolves.

    Now tell us (a) what God would have to do to prove his existence to you personally, and (b) why you atheists are so obsessed with Christianity that you invade our online homes and trash our beliefs. No more evasions or excuses or trying to quote scriptures you skimmed or pasted from infidels.org.

    Like

  40. Robert says:

    Paula, I hope you had a wonderful Easter!

    The reference to leading a horse to water made the point that the HS will not force people to listen or obey. That explains why it isn’t the fault of the HS, whom you described as “worthless”, but of the people and the exercise of their free will.

    I understand your point, but it’s irrelevant to my argument. Recall that my claim is “Christians who disagree with one another all regard themselves as having been led to the truth by the HS.” This is because, as I wrote on my blog, “…the feeling of the inner witness of the Holy Spirit – as a completely subjective experience, but one held to be authoritative – offers no means for authentication. It is indistinguishable from that of a fraudulent or delusional feeling.”

    Free will is not contended here. Many Christians are mistaken. Some may not be. However, all believe their views are guided by the HS. They’re acting on the belief, often in direct opposition to each other.

    This is why I said the HS is “worse than useless”. You’ve yet to address this problem.

    You continue also to merely repeat your assertion that it is the HS instead of the people whose exercise of free will has “devastating consequences” as you allege.

    False. I asserted no such thing. My claim is that the devastating consequences result because an authentic guidance of the HS is indistinguishable from a fraudulent or delusional feeling, from the perspective of the believer. When Augustine wrote that heresy justified the death penalty, do you really believe he knew the HS was telling him otherwise, but decided to publish his views anyway?

    They were ATHEISTS. Millions died because of DIRECT ACTIONS by those atheists.

    They were also MEN. Millions died because of DIRECT ACTIONS by those men.

    They also READ BOOKS. Millions died because of DIRECT ACTIONS by those book readers.

    In other words, your linkage is ludicrous. Please demonstrate how atheism (a lack of belief in gods), was the basis of Stalin or Pol Pot’s murderous rampages. It’s been debunked countless times. I, for one, have probably the most thorough refutation on the internet. As someone with a graduate degree in Soviet studies, I can speak to the topic with some authority.

    On the other hand, I most certainly can show how Christian theology was the direct basis for much suffering and death. Communist ideology, which undergirded Stalin and Pol Pot’s ideology, was significantly influenced by Christian theology.

    You are being evasive and still have not told us how God is supposed to prove himself to you.

    Well, he could start by giving us as much evidence as there is for evolution. That is, multiple lines of evidence from a vast variety of scientific fields pointing to the same conclusion. I would regard that as proof.

    You keep demanding answers of us but refuse to return the favor.

    What? I’ve been in constant dialogue with many of you here for more than two weeks…

    why you atheists are so obsessed with Christianity that you invade our online homes and trash our beliefs.

    LOL!

    I suppose if I don’t answer why atheists are “so obsessed” with Christianity that we “invade your online homes”, I’ll be accused of being evasive.

    Short answer: many – and not just atheists – regard organized religions like Christianity as, on balance, harmful to humanity. If you’re going to put your views, claims, and doctrines into the public sphere – as this blog does – why you react indignantly when they’re challenged is beyond me.

    Like

    • Paula says:

      Robert, you’re still ignoring my questions, still trying to move the goalposts, still repeating yourself. As for logic, let’s take a look at yours: I made the point abut atheists who cause millions of deaths NOT AS A SYLLOGISM but to contrast YOUR CLAIM that Christian teachings cause the death of millions. Christianity is thus at least no worse than atheism; that is the point. This is the fallacy of equivocation, one you employ continually. It reminds me of the old skits in Mad Magazine where they’d carve up a story and deliberately mismatch sentence parts into a completely different story. You, Robert, are the “ludicrous” one, esp. in trying to somehow make the horrible evil of Pol Pot the fault of Christianity! Do you ever READ the New Testament yourself and find such teachings for Christians? Here you are again with your ridiculous syllogisms:

      P1: Bad guy read the Bible
      P2: Bad guy did evil
      C: The Bible is to blame

      As for your claim to be in dialog, repeating one’s assertions and ignoring the questions others ask is not dialog. You chose instead to mock (LOL) the very asking of such questions and try to make the demand for a two-way street into something outrageous. Atheists have blogs too, but you don’t see us taking up residence in them.

      Now since it’s so very clear that you are not here for any other purpose than to flame Christians (because, apparently unlike Islam, we’re so dangerous), you are in no position to demand anything, and I will not respond to any more of your comments.

      Like

  41. Robert says:

    TL, you wrote,

    Sometimes, Christians are mistaken when they claim that “God told them”. In order to rightly claim such, what is claimed must not be against what Scripture says because we do know that Scripture holds truth. Even within those guidelines, it is not easy because often people simply want to see what they want to see. Sin blinds the mind.

    Yet, in the entire history of Christianity, there has never been agreement on what that truth is. The issue of women preaching – one which you all are very interested in – is but one in a long string of examples. Both sides in this debate each say the other is contradicting Scripture. Both sides believe they’re being guided by the HS. If the constantly rising number of Christian denominations is any indication, the disagreements are only getting worse.

    Do you think you see what you want to see? Has sin blinded your mind? I know you sincerely believe what you believe, but how would you know you’re mistaken?

    This does not mean that The Law and the rest of the OT books are of no use. They are filled with godly principles that we should apply, as well as insights into what righteous and unrighteous behavior looks like.

    Is killing of witches a godly, righteous behavior? (Ex. 22:18) These Christians seem to think so.

    Principles indicate “should” rather than “ought”. Are the Ten Commandments, in your view, merely principles that should be followed?

    Like

  42. TL says:

    “However, all believe their views are guided by the HS.”

    Actually, the majority of Christians do not think like that. Most do not worry whether or not the Holy Spirit is authenticating their beliefs. Most humans consider logic the high standard, just as you do. Unfortunately, what is logical to one may not be logical or good thinking to another.

    Being guided by the Holy Spirit is a learned skill that takes time to learn. And even as one learns to hear that still small voice of God’s, and learns to recognize checks in his spirit, and learns to sense an urgency of the Spirit and directions of the Spirit, it is seldom ever rock solid clear. Often surety doesn’t come until after the fact where we can see where we were and were not following God’s leading.

    Thus, to think that God is going to just tell one what to think without life object lessons would be really not understanding the point of the Bible, of Life in general and of the purpose of the Holy Spirit. And I’ve no idea whether or not the HS guided me to say that but it seems logical to me, appears to fit what I read in Scripture, and to my life experiences. So, you’re welcome to disagree. 🙂

    Like

    • Robert says:

      Actually, the majority of Christians do not think like that. Most do not worry whether or not the Holy Spirit is authenticating their beliefs.

      I’m not so sure. At least on matters of importance to them, Christians do regard themselves as following the guidance of the HS. The HS wouldn’t necessarily be contrary to logic or reason. Some Christian apologists regard Christianity as the most logical belief system there is, which the HS authenticates.

      Often surety doesn’t come until after the fact where we can see where we were and were not following God’s leading.

      Which can have pretty devastating consequences for yourself and others. I mean, you could be doing something right now you think is in accord with the direction of the Spirit, but later find it’s not. I would think this would introduce a significant degree of doubt in believers’ minds, but the very opposite appears to be the case.

      Like

  43. Robert says:

    Lydia, you wrote,

    [Luther] believed in mandatory church attendance, too…Why Luther thought that was NT, I cannot imagine.

    Probably for the same reasons that many contemporary Christians believe in mandatory displays of Christian symbols in schools and other public places – as a way to inculcate morality. After all, if you believe that God has created laws for us to follow, then why they should NOT be mandatory on everyone is difficult to argue. Isn’t this attitude behind the so-called defense of traditional marriage, that EVERYONE must follow the Christian understanding of marriage?

    Why people elevate these folks is beyond me. Of course, we have a ton more resources than they ever did for study.

    Was it beyond God’s power or ability to provide the “ton of resources” to Luther and others so they would produce correct theological understandings, rather than wait centuries while their misunderstandings produced misery for countless Jews and women?

    Like

  44. TL says:

    Robert, you ask some good questions.

    ”Yet, in the entire history of Christianity, there has never been agreement on what that truth is.”

    That would be an incorrect statement. If Christians did not have a core belief system on which we all agreed, there would not be Christianity. The fact that there are a lot of things that Christians disagree on does not erase the fact that there is much more we do agree upon. Christianity is a relationship with God and people must believe in Him in order to have a relationship with Him. That is the area of our agreement. However, we come as we are, bringing all our problems with us. That is the area and influence of all our disagreements.

    In the area of our disagreements most Christians recognize the authority of Scripture and use their logic in claiming certain portions of Scripture to legitimize their beliefs. Of course, this is a hotbed of divisiveness because not many really know how to study Scripture properly.

    ”Is killing of witches a godly, righteous behavior? (Ex. 22:18) These Christians seem to think so.”

    Horrible things are happening in Africa and similarly poor countries. Today, a true witch can be healed and set free of the evil spirits that use them. This is because of The Messiah. When Jesus came He facilitated the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon all believers. The Holy Spirit heals, delivers and sets one free. This did not happen yet in Old Testament times.

    In the Old Testament, they were looking forward to when the Messiah would come, though they did not understand fully what He would do. The Law was given to cover and protect those who obeyed it, and to guide them toward a legal righteousness. The Law did not make one perfect simply because no one could obey it perfectly. The Messiah obeyed and fulfilled the Law perfectly, thus nailing it to the cross with Him when He died. In the Messiah we have a new testament or new covenant with God. The old covenant is filled with truths that we should still obey and because of the new covenant we are more able to achieve righteous behavior with the help of the Holy Spirit. But it is a growth process. No one is thrown out because of a lack in attaining righteousness. When they repent and seek to turn away from their unrighteousness when they see it, then Jesus The Messiah brings forgiveness and cleanses and heals them of the effects of their sin. It takes a life time.

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  45. Kristen says:

    Robert, I’m going to address just one issue here: the issue that makes you want to “evangelize” us into atheism. As you put it:

    “Many – and not just atheists – regard organized religions like Christianity as, on balance, harmful to humanity. ”

    There are other belief systems which contain atheism which can be harmful to humanity. Some of the recent violence in countries like Greece has been perpetrated by anarchists. What a person believes or disbelieves about the existence of God is only one piece of any one person’s belief systems. Just as simply not believing in God cannot result in harm to humanity, neither can a simple belief in God. Harm is caused when a belief system devalues the human individual and considers her/him expendable for the sake of something valued over and above the individual, and to which the individual is subordinated. It is my understanding that Stalinism considered the collective, as represented by the state, to trump the value of the individual. It is this that caused the harm– not lack of belief in God, even as you say.

    Similarly, the tenet in certain forms of religion that causes the harm is not belief in a diety. It is when the individual is considered expendable for the sake of a higher value. This tenet, however, is not a necessary tenet of all religions (in other words, the religion does not cease to be recognizable as itself if this tenet is abandoned). It is certainly not a necessary tenet of Christianity; in fact, I believe it is the result of a twisted understanding of Jesus’ teachings. Jesus placed great value on the individual. While he did speak often in terms of voluntary self-sacrifice when necessary, his teachings include absolutely no justification for any group or person to sacrifice another individual or to consider the individual expendable for the sake of any cause– not even the advancement of the “kingdom” he preached. That people have used the name of God or the name of Jesus to justify their devaluing of any individual or group of individuals, is not Jesus’ fault. Jesus who attacked prejudice with the parable of the Good Samaritan, would never have agreed with Christian persecution of Jews.

    When any form of Christianity as a belief system includes the placement of high value on the individual, the result is Martin Luther King, Jr., not Martin Luther. It is Abolitionism, not the Ku Klux Klan. It is Mother Theresa, not Pope Pius XII.

    In short, Christianity, in and of itself, is not harmful to humanity. It is those expressions of it which degrade and subordinate the individual to causes of Christian domination, which are the problem. You would be spending your time much more productively if you sought out and engaged those groups, and let those of us who are fighting for the rights of women as fully human individuals, alone.

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  46. Robert says:

    TL, you wrote,

    Robert, you ask some good questions.

    Thank you. I appreciate your rising to the challenge to answer them, with patience and honesty. I think this is in keeping with 1 Peter 3:15.

    If Christians did not have a core belief system on which we all agreed, there would not be Christianity.

    I would argue there has never been a Christianity, but Christianities. Bart Ehrman’s book Lost Christianities describes a number of early Christian communities with a wide divergence of beliefs. That variety of belief may or may not be as pronounced today, but it remains pretty spectacular. Just consider the differences between Calvinism and Arminianism, for example. Or Mormonism. Or Liberation Theology. Yes, while Christians agree on some core concepts (e.g., the Trinity), I think overall disagreement exceeds agreement.

    Of course, this is a hotbed of divisiveness because not many really know how to study Scripture properly.

    Who, in your opinion, knows how to study Scripture properly?

    If “not many really know”, this seems to be a pretty severe indictment of Scripture as it currently stands. It seems an omnipotent, omniscient god could have easy arrived at a better method to impart gospel knowledge.

    Horrible things are happening in Africa and similarly poor countries. Today, a true witch can be healed and set free of the evil spirits that use them.

    Yes, but this doesn’t really answer my question: “Is killing of witches a godly, righteous behavior? (Ex. 22:18)”. I understand the part about the OT, the Law, new covenant, etc. but you had said earlier that “This does not mean that The Law and the rest of the OT books are of no use. They are filled with godly principles that we should apply, as well as insights into what righteous and unrighteous behavior looks like.” Similarly, are we still bound by the Ten Commandments?

    Like

  47. TL says:

    TL wrote: ”Often surety doesn’t come until after the fact where we can see where we were and were not following God’s leading.”
    Robert Responded:”Which can have pretty devastating consequences for yourself and others. I mean, you could be doing something right now you think is in accord with the direction of the Spirit, but later find it’s not.”

    If that were all there is to the story, that would be troubling. However, Jesus said that His sheep hear His voice. And we know that the Holy Spirit brings God’s words to us. So, as I think I noted, it is a process. Not everything we think about is going to be a matter of hearing God’s voice or the manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Most of our thought life is our own thoughts. And in addition not all that we think is logical is really good logic.

    We are supposed to be maturing into people who have learned and are learning certain principals in life. We are to love one another. We are to love, honor and praise God. The bible records many instructions on how to do those things. We are learners. No one is going to be perfect about everything all the time. But in all of the many principals of righteous living nothing is said about being able to perfectly describe God or understand God (other than what is written already), in what we call theological reasoning. IOW that isn’t required in order to be a good Christian.

    Atheism OTOH serves no real purpose for life. It’s all about human theories, making humanity its own god, arguing, debating, dividing and seems to rejoice in things most would consider harmful.

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  48. TL says:

    ” I understand the part about the OT, the Law, new covenant, etc. but you had said earlier that “This does not mean that The Law and the rest of the OT books are of no use. They are filled with godly principles that we should apply, as well as insights into what righteous and unrighteous behavior looks like.” Similarly, are we still bound by the Ten Commandments?

    We are not bound by anything. All is there for our profit and instruction, to help us become more godly, more humane and more mature human beings. All of the Scriptures are there for us to glean direction from for our lives and for our relationships with God.

    Like

  49. Robert says:

    Robert, you’re still ignoring my questions, still trying to move the goalposts, still repeating yourself.

    Of these three charges, perhaps only the last is true. I’m repeating myself because you’re evading my central point. If you would kindly highlight any questions I’ve not answered, I’ll do my best to answer them, but I think I’ve answered them all.

    I made the point abut atheists who cause millions of deaths NOT AS A SYLLOGISM but to contrast YOUR CLAIM that Christian teachings cause the death of millions. Christianity is thus at least no worse than atheism; that is the point. This is the fallacy of equivocation, one you employ continually.

    Your understanding of the fallacy is incorrect. According to Wikipedia, “It is the misleading use of a term with more than one meaning or sense (by glossing over which meaning is intended at a particular time).” Maybe you meant the fallacy of false equivalence? I don’t know. If so, that’s what you’re committing.

    What atheist teaching causes millions of deaths? For that matter, what are atheist teachings? That’s the relevant question you can’t seem to answer. On the other hand, I can point to volumes of Christian teaching that directly resulted in immense suffering and death.

    You, Robert, are the “ludicrous” one, esp. in trying to somehow make the horrible evil of Pol Pot the fault of Christianity! Do you ever READ the New Testament yourself and find such teachings for Christians?

    My claim is not that Christianity was responsible for Pol Pot’s evils, but that some elements of Pol Pot’s ideology can be traced back to Christian theology. My blog on the topic pointed out where. As for reading the NT, yes, I have, as well as the OT (have you?), as did Luther, Augustine and whole numbers of Church theologians whose writings justifed murder and violence. “Thou shall not suffer a witch to live.” (Ex.
    22:18). I’d say Jesus didn’t leave much room for doubt there.

    P1: Bad guy read the Bible
    P2: Bad guy did evil
    C: The Bible is to blame

    Next time I hear a Christian blame the Qu’ran for inciting Muslims to violence, I’ll just point out their false syllogism:

    P1: Bad guy read the Qu’ran
    P2: Bad guy did evil
    C: The Qu’ran is to blame

    Of course, if the Qu’ran says, “Thou shall not suffer the infidel to live”, and if Mulsim Imams say jihad is the sure path to heaven, then still the Qu’ran can have nothing do with the evil. Right? Right?

    You chose instead to mock (LOL) the very asking of such questions and try to make the demand for a two-way street into something outrageous.

    I’m sorry, but your charges really did make me laugh out loud. Atheists are “invading our online homes”! – you know, our homes which we happen to put smack down on the information superhighway, with doors wide open! The horror!

    I will not respond to any more of your comments.

    Hmm..yeah, where have I heard that before?

    Like

  50. Kristen says:

    Robert, you haven’t responded to my comment, but you have continued to say things like this:

    “For that matter, what are atheist teachings? That’s the relevant question you can’t seem to answer. On the other hand, I can point to volumes of Christian teaching that directly resulted in immense suffering and death.”

    You need to start comparing apples with apples. You are comparing “atheism” to “Christianity,” when you ought to compare “atheism” to “theism” — or alternatively you could compare “secular humanism,” or “materialist utopianism,” or even “communism” to “Christianity.” There are many different combinations of belief systems that include atheism. Which is yours?

    But “theism” alone never caused any of the negative effects you are trying to pin on us, either. Should we start claiming that all we have is a simple belief in a diety, and therefore you are barking up the wrong tree? If we did, we would be merely playing your game.

    By comparing atheism to Christianity, you can escape any of the negative teachings or effects of certain belief systems that contain atheism, by maintaining that all atheism is, is a lack of belief in God. But your own belief system includes more than this, doesn’t it? So does mine. Mine includes “humanism” as one of its tenets, just as yours apparently does. We both place great value on the individual and on groups of individuals and are against devaluation of the individual, and against any way of counting any group of individuals as lesser or expendable. Since we have this in common, what is your problem with what I believe? Are we not on the same side regarding what this website is about– the full equality of women?

    And should my belief system– Christian humanism– be held responsible for every wrong ever done by anti-humanistic Christian belief systems? If so, then you need to stop trying to slip out of responsibility for the wrongs of belief systems which include atheism, just because you don’t agree with all their tenets.

    I ask again– why are you trying to evangelize us to your beliefs? Perhaps you should simply mind your own business?

    Like

  51. Robert says:

    Kristen wrote,

    the issue that makes you want to “evangelize” us into atheism.

    That’s not my intent. If anything, I want to “evangelize” you into critical, evidence-based thinking. If you would cite specificially where I gave the impression I wanted to evanagelize you into atheism, I would appreciate it. It wasn’t me, after all, who even raised the topic.

    There are other belief systems which contain atheism which can be harmful to humanity. Some of the recent violence in countries like Greece has been perpetrated by anarchists.

    Are you sure they weren’t Christian anarchists?

    I’d wager a number of these belief systems also contain a-unicornism, which, I suppose, is also harmful to humanity?

    What a person believes or disbelieves about the existence of God is only one piece of any one person’s belief systems.

    I agree!

    Similarly, the tenet in certain forms of religion that causes the harm is not belief in a diety. It is when the individual is considered expendable for the sake of a higher value. This tenet…is certainly not a necessary tenet of Christianity; in fact, I believe it is the result of a twisted understanding of Jesus’ teachings. Jesus placed great value on the individual.

    Here’s where we fundamentally disagree. Christian scripture and history demonstrate “God’s will” is the highest value, with individual worth subsumed under that principle. The Bible is replete with outright commands to kill. Christian apologists down to the present are unapologetic about God’s (and, sometimes, Christians’) right to obliterate human life, justified typically under “God’s sovereignity” or “moral sufficiency”. In fact, the only way a Christian can resolve the problem of evil is to regard senseless individual suffering and death as serving a higher value.

    Jesus who attacked prejudice with the parable of the Good Samaritan, would never have agreed with Christian persecution of Jews.

    It’s hard to say what a god whose “ways are not our ways” would agree or disagree with. What’s undisputable, if Christianity is to be believed, is that Jesus committed and ordered genocide on multiple occassions. Moreoever, Jesus, being omnipotent, foresaw Christian anti-semitism and never said not to persecute Jews. His words, in fact, gave such the opposite impression, they led some of Christianity’s most celebrated theologians to regard anti-Semitism as a Christian duty.

    In short, Christianity, in and of itself, is not harmful to humanity. It is those expressions of it which degrade and subordinate the individual to causes of Christian domination, which are the problem.

    The root of the problem is the same. All of you regard your morality to be god-given, but there is no means to distinguish between who’s right and who’s mistaken. (I explore this idea more fully in my blog “Theistic absolute morality + invisible god = horrible relative morality”). When either party believes they’re following God’s will, nothing will dissuade them, not even reason or logic.

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  52. Robert says:

    Kristen wrote,

    You need to start comparing apples with apples. You are comparing “atheism” to “Christianity,” when you ought to compare “atheism” to “theism”

    I agree with you completely! It’s the comparison between atheism and Christianity, notably by Paula, that I argue against. Why do you think I asked, “What are atheist teachings?” I’m trying to get people like Paula to recognize there are none.

    There are many different combinations of belief systems that include atheism. Which is yours?

    The very top line of the “About…” page of my site identifies me as “a rational skeptic who espouses secular humanist values”.

    But “theism” alone never caused any of the negative effects you are trying to pin on us, either.

    Never did I cite theism alone as causing the negative effects I’ve cited. Theism is a result of and contributor to a larger belief problem known as credulism.

    By comparing atheism to Christianity, you can escape any of the negative teachings or effects of certain belief systems that contain atheism, by maintaining that all atheism is, is a lack of belief in God.

    This is a bit incoherent. Perhaps you can clarify by explaining atheism’s role in certain other belief systems. Do you agree or disagree that atheism is the lack of belief in god(s)?

    Mine includes “humanism” as one of its tenets, just as yours apparently does. We both place great value on the individual and on groups of individuals and are against devaluation of the individual, and against any way of counting any group of individuals as lesser or expendable.

    That’s admirable, but I think to the extent you accept humanism, you reject Christianity – or at least the majority of Christianities in the world today. When it comes down to it, a typical Christian will devalue human life and dignity if he regards it necessitated by God’s will. For a contemporary example, look no further than the Catholic pope’s campaign against condom use in Africa.

    I ask again– why are you trying to evangelize us to your beliefs? Perhaps you should simply mind your own business?

    The blog owner asked a question to which I responded. I saw nothing to indicate non-believers are unwelcome to comment. Did someone force you to respond to me?

    Can you never dialogue with someone with whom you disagree?

    Like

  53. Lydia says:

    “Can you never dialogue with someone with whom you disagree?”

    Not when the disagreements are foundational. It becomes a circular conversation. There is enough disagreement in Christianity on B issues and that is the point of this blog.

    Like

  54. Kristen says:

    Robert, you said:

    “If anything, I want to “evangelize” you into critical, evidence-based thinking.”

    That seems disingenuous to me, when everything you have said makes it clear that the only way you would believe I was using critical, evidence-based thinking was if I turned away from theism, which you called “a result of and contributor to a larger belief problem known as credulism.”

    You said:

    “Are you sure they weren’t Christian anarchists?”

    Yes, I’m sure.

    You said:

    “I’d wager a number of these belief systems also contain a-unicornism, which, I suppose, is also harmful to humanity?”

    Now you’re mocking me. Not appreciated.

    You said:

    “I think to the extent you accept humanism, you reject Christianity – or at least the majority of Christianities in the world today. When it comes down to it, a typical Christian will devalue human life and dignity if he regards it necessitated by God’s will.”

    It seems a bit rich for you to come onto a website whose purpose is to promote female equality in Christianity, and start “man-splaining” to us what Christianity is about. I do understand my own faith and am fairly well educated in its history and various branches– well enough to not have to have you tell me I’m rejecting what you’ve decided is “real” Christianity.

    Given that, I really would prefer if the dialogue ended here, and here is why:

    You said:

    “The blog owner asked a question to which I responded. I saw nothing to indicate non-believers are unwelcome to comment. Did someone force you to respond to me? Can you never dialogue with someone with whom you disagree?”

    I have no problem discussing atheism vs. theism– on blogs or forums that are dedicated to that purpose. The purpose of this blog is for women’s rights in Christianity. You have not indicated any desire to discuss the topic to which this blog is dedicated, and your posts are a distraction from what we’re trying to do here. I for one am sick and tired of men thinking they can come in to a discussion, commandeer it and tell the women what’s what. I am certain that was not your intention– but it is, in fact, the end result of your posts here. I would be happy to talk with you about the topics you want to discuss, should we meet sometime on a blog or forum that is appropriate for that discussion. But I really do wish you would let us get on with what we’re here for.

    No one forced me to respond to you, no. But that doesn’t mean this is the right place for this discussion. You should probably either start contributing to the topic of how to promote female equality in Chrstianity, or go find something else to do. Thanks for your consideration, and I wish you well.

    Like

    • Robert says:

      I respect your wishes to end the dialogue. Truth be told, it’s become clear to me that the question brought me here in the first place is incapable of being answered.

      If this site is only for discussion of promoting female equality in Christianity, it might be worthwhile to prominently advertise that as such. The vast majority of blogs welcome and encourage discussion among those with differing viewpoints. On my own, I’m currently engaged in a very interesting discussion with a Christian now.

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      • Robert, you have been welcome to comment and engage in discussion on my blog. Thank you for stopping by.

        I think the blog does prominently advertise the purpose of the blog by its very name bWe Baptist Women for Equality, and by its tagline: Claiming our equality. I don’t know how it could be made clearer.

        As an atheist, you don’t have a dog in the hunt. We are dealing with Biblical matters, and as such, it shouldn’t matter to you, and on those grounds you are excluded.

        But I have enjoyed having you visit. You added a lot to this discussion and allowed us to put our feelings and scriptural basis in a very concrete way. Frankly, these ladies are good at what they do, and I am amazed at their knowledge. So, Goodbye.

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  55. TL says:

    Robert, there is dialogue that is genuine and there is dialogue that is less than genuine. Those who wish to argue for the sake of mental exercise are generally less than genuine. That type of dialogue is usually considered a waste of time.

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