Open Thread On Born Again

Our friend Dick Martin posted again, if you follow the recent comments. On an OCF post, he wrote:

“One day we shall joyfully greet him/her again when the love of Christ, which conquers all things, destroys even death itself.” This sounds like something coming in the future. These events have already taken place.

What has yet to take place is the reunion between those who have died and those who are still alive in this world. It is important when people of different beliefs, especially when suspicion abounds (fundamentalists who don’t trust Catholics, conservatives who don’t trust liberals, believers and non-believers, and vice-versa) to carefully attend to the words people use. The care is not really to catch someone in a gotcha! thing. But to understand the other better.

The context is a funeral: when people suffer grief at the separation between loved ones.

Dick proceeds to cite Scriptures that many Christians, including Catholics, have heard quite often. He offers this conclusion:

These scriptures are in reference to Born again believers only. if your IN CHRIST. Born Again and being in Christ means you’ve had a heart change . You are not in God’s sight the same person you were born of physically.

This statement is an interpretation. The interpretation itself is not in the Bible. Romans 8:37, 6:9-11, and John 5:24 do not in themselves use this interpretive language. And while we are still in this life, we continue to sin. As physical beings, we continue to decay as we age. We never quite are free from the shadow of death, even though we might try to stave it off with good diet, exercise, and various health products. Or claim it doesn’t count because we are saved/born again/whatever.

From the beginning, Christians have struggled with sin. Dick has rather avoided my suggestion in the past that this was a huge problem for early Christians and remains so today. Self-professed born-again Christians have committed monstrous sins now and then.

“They weren’t really born again,” one might snipe. But I might say in turn that’s a rather convenient argument. A person is born again if they claim a “changed heart.” But if they committed fraud or adultery or abuse, it was all a big fib. Maybe.

Maybe Christians continue to be sinners, and they can’t help it, avoid it, fix it, or change it.

Bring your discussion over here, Dick. Let’s have at it with anyone who wishes to join it.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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116 Responses to Open Thread On Born Again

  1. Jen says:

    I have to wonder what the evangelicals/fundamentalists hope to gain posting their screeds on Catholic blogs. Do they really think their tactics work and we’ll abandon our popish ways?

  2. Melody says:

    We are all born again in Baptism. This includes what we might call Baptism of desire, which even pagans can have, if they live according to the light they are given. All are saved through Jesus Christ; I believe Pope Benedict discussed this in his encylical, Dominus Iesus. We have a change of heart every time we repent and begin again, the sacrament of Penance helps us do this.

  3. Melody says:

    I might add that there are Catholic fundamentalists, too. All of them suffer from an overly constrained and limited interpretationo of God’s grace.

  4. Atheist Max says:

    “This statement is an interpretation. The interpretation itself is not in the Bible.”

    Then why not disregard the bible entirely?
    If the interpretation must be arrived at without guidance from the Bible but from some other source – why use the Bible for anything?

    • Todd says:

      Why not? Because there are good reasons to consider it. Just because Dick misuses the Bible, it doesn’t follow that everybody does it.

      • Atheist Max says:

        I’m still waiting for someone to explain how the Bible should be used.

        I only seem to hear about why it cannot be used in this way or that way.

        For example:
        Jesus was a fundamentalist. Jesus was not a fundamentalist.

        If you can claim both conclusions by reading the Bible what good is the Bible? What useful information has it provided for you?

        Cigarettes are good for you. Cigarettes are bad for you.

        If neither statement is supposed to be conclusive, again what good is the Bible?
        If both statements can be thought to be true, what help is the Bible?
        If the Bible is not authoritative and conclusive, why call it Authoritative on any matter?
        The Three Little Pigs is not authoritative either – what good is the Bible if it is not authoritative?

        The Bible is an ancient book of tales which, though interesting, are not any truer than the Q’uran, The Torah, The Book of the Dead, The Baghavat Gita or any number of other old tales – or even The Three Little Pigs.

        I don’t question the Bible’s interesting literary qualities where some moral teachings can be discerned. But I question its claim to Authority. I’ve seen much better morals in Aesop’s Fables than those of the Bible – yet Aesop does not demand to be called a god or an Authority.

        I question your claim that the Bible is the word of a god.
        I see no evidence that contradictory claims of the Bible are superior to the contradictory claims of other supposed ‘holy’ texts.

        I see no reason to claim the Bible can be mis-used (as you say) if it cannot be used properly in the first place especially if it is not Authoritative in any case.

  5. Dick Martin says:

    You would like to eliminate the bible from the equation. The bible calls itself the inspired word of God. There are very few scripture quotes that need interpretation. parables have many applications (meanings). Physical death is in the future for man; it is appointed man to die and then the judgment . About spiritual death: I was referring to spiritual death for those who put their faith ( speaking to things that do not exist as tho they do) and trust in
    Hebrews 2:14-15
    Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,
    and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Jesus accomplished work. This does not need interpretation. To be ” Born Again”; is to be ” In Christ ” To be one with.
    1 John 3:4-7
    Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.
    And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.
    Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.
    Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. This may need interpretation because for those who are dead spiritually consider this quote foolishness. Never the less it is true, God inspired it. Spiritual death is past tense.
    Ephesians 2:4-6
    But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
    even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
    and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, God is speaking to those who are under Mercy–Born Again– Not speaking to others who are under Judgment. Made us; have been; have been saved; raised us up; made us to sit in heavenly places; all positional during this lifetime. The scripture is full of past tense for believers. You say this interpretation in not in the bible. Your showing you true colors . From Jesus stating you must be born again to Old man vs. the New man; Old Nature vs. New Nature; the new Creation.
    Romans 8:29-30
    For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
    Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. No interpretation needed.

  6. Melody says:

    Max, if you don’t believe in God in the first place, nothing we can say is going to convince you that the Bible is the word of God. So I’m not going to try. I’m going to reflect a little on what I think it means instead, for what it’s worth. In the first place, it’s not a book. It’s a library. It’s the record of the unfolding of a relationship, and also a connection to those who preceded us in faith. We have Genesis, which deals in archetype and myth, and also some history, God’s effort to connect with His creatures. We have the book of Job, which most scholars agree is a work of fiction, it may have been a play. Nevertheless it shows a man wrestling with the same questions which vex all of us, why is there evil, and why do good people suffer? So in that sense it is nonfiction. We have the Psalms, poetry and prayer, in which all the cries of the human heart are expressed; even the ones we don’t want to admit are there. There is Isaiah and all the other prophets, who bear witness to a reality beyond us. The Old Testament shows humanity; the good, the bad and the ugly, and the faithfulness of God. There is the New Testament, and the Gospels, which are developed theology and give us the core of our beliefs as followers of Christ. Now all the books of this library first existed as an oral tradition before they were set in writing. So we come to the role of the teaching authority of the church. Since few of us are schooled in the ancient languages the books were first written down in, nor is the context and culture clear to us, scholars and theologians have spent years studying and interpreting the Scriptures. The church acts as referee in these discussions, attempting to parse the meaning intended by the Holy Spirit, for we do believe the Scriptures were given us for a reason, and that the Holy Spirit is with us still, guiding our understanding through the church.

  7. Atheist Max says:

    Melody,

    “nothing we can say is going to convince you that the Bible is the word of God….
    The church acts as referee.”

    Thanks but …..according to you there is no Authority to turn to.
    If the Church is “a referee” and the Bible is not Authoritative by itself we are left with contradictions to be resolved by a third party – presumably the Holy spirit.

    Are you saying the Holy Spirit is the Authority?

    • Melody says:

      Well, yes, that is what I believe. But I know as I say it that it is circular logic. But I don’t know that one can get to faith strictly from logic.

      • Atheist Max says:

        Melody,

        Thanks. I appreciate your attempt.
        I guess logic is the wrong word. I’ll try to explain my problem using a cooking analogy.

        Dick Martin has been scolded for using the Bible as his dominant authority and despite his obvious strong faith in God and the Holy Spirit his Fundamentalist conclusions are still rejected.

        This seems to be the recipe:
        Bible + Faith + Holy Spirit + Church as referee = Correct Christian Understanding

        Yet there is no discernible way (and no authority) to determine how much of each ingredient is correct. For example…

        Oats + salt + brown sugar + water = Oatmeal

        But too much or too little of any ingredient will not make Oatmeal.
        You could end up with a box of oats with two grains of salt and a drop of water.
        Or a swimming pool of water with a teaspoon full of oats at the bottom.
        The quantities matter.

        Dick Martin (and other fundamentalists) are being criticized for having too much of one ingredient and not enough of the others.

        It is as if Christians are expected to INTUIT the right balance. Yet they are told to refer back to the ingredients to determine the quantities – “season to taste” – and just pick the Theology they prefer. It appears there is no difference beyond personal taste.

        The Authority then is the chef – and the chef is YOU.
        This is incredibly important to realize.

        I don’t think it is fair for anyone to scold anyone else that they are “doing Christianity wrong” if there is simply no discernible way to “do Christianity Right”.

        Dick Martin is employing his Faith in all the ingredients and arriving at extreme Fundamentalism. Too much Bible? Not enough Holy Spirit? Who is to say?

        There are no checks and balances.
        There is no outside Authority – it is just you and the illusion of authority plucked from the fog of the equation.

        I only wish believers would simply consider how problematic that is.
        There appears to be no way to argue against extremist fundamentalism by using the arguments within the religion.

        Dick Martin, it seems to me, is being inexplicably scolded
        for doing exactly what his priests and religious instructors (unintentionally) taught him to do years ago. Namely – to follow your intuition and make your own religion for your own taste.

        I finish where I started. If we are going to follow our intuition anyway, why go to the Bible to Authorize an intuition which is already within us?

  8. Dick Martin says:

    Faith: Can not be applied without knowing the WILL of God. Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of God. Can’t apply faith from what man thinks about God; only from what God says about Himself. Man made laws and traditions won’t work. It’s impossible to please God without Faith. Faith is believing and applying promises that are found and are truth about God. Speaking to things that can’t be seen as tho they were.
    Hebrews 11:1
    Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Melody; March 7th ” We have a change of heart every time we repent and begin again, the sacrament of Penance helps us do this” We don’t need a change of Heart ; we have been given a New heart and it’s a one time event. Were covered once, for all. forever. No need to confess over and over to a priest because Jesus died for past, present, future Sins. no offering needed .
    Hebrews 10:18(NKJV)
    Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.
    Hebrews 10:12-14
    But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,
    from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.
    For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. We don’t need to begin again.
    Hebrews 10:17
    then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” In the book of Romans states that the Law and Grace can’t exist together. The Law is a work that pays a wage = eternal death. Grace is a free gift– received = Eternal Life. When Jesus came He fulfilled the entire Law Believers are not under the Law. The Law brings Judgment and Eternal death. Grace brings No judgment, No condemnation, only Mercy and Eternal Life.

  9. Atheist Max says:

    Regarding ‘circularity’ (your word):

    I pointed out that Dick Martin is being inexplicably* scolded
    for doing exactly what his religious instructors (unintentionally*) taught him to do.

    *please notice the price of circular logic.
    An instructor who preaches circularity will be just as confused as her pupil who employs it.

  10. Dick Martin says:

    March 11—11:03 The scriptures say what it says. No interpretation needed. You just need to line up your thinking with God’s Facts. Faith is believing God’s word, and believing it no matter if it does not make sense in the Natural. God is a Faith God. He spoke things that were not as tho they were. See in Genesis ; how many times “He said”.– Jesus temptation ” But by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. He called Lazarus out of the tomb with his voice. You can say to the mountain; be thou removed and it will obey you. Our guide book tells us we can speak things into existence. Jesus spoke to a fig tree and it withered. Jesus spoke to the storm and it became calm. All thru the scriptures we are given the same authority to speak. it takes FAITH believing God’s will to overcome the physical realm.

  11. Dick Martin says:

    Max; See March 10 at 11:03 am comment on Faith. With God all things are possible to those that believe.

    • Atheist Max says:

      But how does Faith itself work? To believe in God is to believe in what exactly? If God is unknowable, how can one ‘believe’ in whatever that is?

      The concept of surrendering to something without having any knowledge whatsoever is so antiquated and tricky – it sounds more like a declaration that one will force oneself to not consider alternatives. To shut off the brain.

      How does one “have” faith? Exactly what is one having faith in?
      We have only words and some stories from antiquity – many conflict dramatically: Jesus, Yahweh, God, Mary, etc.

      Step 1 is…?

  12. Dick Martin says:

    Max; This is unending. Have you ever drove across a suspension bridge . Just looking at it you would logically think “No Way”. The engineer that designed the bridge probably know something you don’t. Will you have faith in his ability and trust his ability and drive onto and over it to be able to say to your self “YES” You have to admit at lest to your self that there is a God and He is who He says He is. He’s done what He says He did and He will do what He says he will do. He is knowable. Nancy Palosie said don’t read it ; just approve it and then we’ll find out later what’s in it. Not a good idea. She’s not all there. This is not faith . There is no conflict . Which scriptures address Born again Christians vs. Non believers. even People who call them selves Christians who are not. Jesus said to those who thought they were, “depart from Me I never knew you. I know He exists and He is who He said He was because I asked and He delivered. He lives in me. His Spirit and my Spirit have become ONE.
    1 Corinthians 3:16
    Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

    • Atheist Max says:

      Dick,
      You asked, “Have you ever drove across a suspension bridge”

      Sure. But that is not faith.
      Bridges are real things with real, measurable supports. There is evidence of the bridge – I can put my hands on it – and the fact that other cars cross it without a problem is proof that I am likely to manage such an accomplishment also.

      No faith is involved where evidence is the determining factor.

      “Faith” has nothing to do with a real suspension bridge.
      “Faith” is about driving off a cliff while CLAIMING a suspension bridge is waiting for you – despite the fact that nobody can see a bridge at all.

      If one had to prove his Faith in God by driving onto an invisible bridge I am 100% certain you would not drive onto that invisible bridge.

      So there is a complete contradiction in your answer.
      Every situation where one uses the word ‘faith’ I see every good reason to replace it with “evidence of past performance”.

      Faith, then, is truly pointless. What use does it have?

  13. Dick Martin says:

    With all the evidence that creation provides and you still an atheist. you can’t comprehend my Faith illustration with your P brain. I could have used a parachute or a number of things. The bridge was about Trust in something you’ve never trusted in before.

    • Atheist Max says:

      I’m asking about ‘Faith’, not the things produced with evidence.
      Parachutes, bridges, etc… you don’t trust those things blindly. You have evidence for them.

      Faith is jumping out of a plane without a parachute and ‘trusting’ that god will protect you somehow so you don’t die.

      What use is Faith? I’m open to an explanation but I’m not hearing one.

    • Atheist Max says:

      “With all the evidence that creation provides and you are still an atheist…..”

      Because I no longer understand why it is called ‘creation’ since everything we see in nature appears to have formed entirely naturally in a series of events almost all of which are explainable with basic science.

      • Atheist Max says:

        Example:

        Where did water come from?
        Answer: It is simply one part Hydrogen and two parts Oxygen

        Where did Hydrogen and Oxygen come from?
        Answer: they are basic elements created by stars.

        Where did stars come from?
        Answer: Helium was the first element in the universe and it is the simplest molecule.
        After the big bang, stars were formed as Helium gas clouds – they became heated by the intense friction created their own mass and gravitational pull.

        How did stars create Hydrogen and Oxygen?
        Answer: Earliest stars eventually exploded and formed new molecules through the intense pressure on the atoms. Thus this intense Nuclear energy created all of the elements on the periodic table.

        These atoms and the molecules
        are completely understood. Their formation is understood. Their history is recorded even through the use of telescopes.

        There isn’t anything about it which fits the word “creation”.
        It is simply existence. And it is beautiful enough without calling it creation.

        But if you can point to a creator, good luck. I’m ready to hear about it.

  14. Dick Martin says:

    Max: Faith produces evidence that you can’t see until you believe. It’s God principle; It’s impossible to please God without Faith. Since you don’t believe you can’t have faith, thus you can’t please God. Stars never created anything except havoc. (falling ones). The question is ” Who created the stars? Who created Helium ? Who created gravity? Did History have to have a beginning? All of your theories are star wars creations and comic books written by atheist, trying to prove that God does not exist. Water consists of hydrogen and oxygen . The question is not what it is but where did it originate. There are a lot of scientists who don’t believe in the big bang or evolution since it that theories and speculations . No Facts.

    • Atheist Max says:

      “Faith produces evidence…..All of your theories are star wars creations and comic books…”

      How does ‘Faith’ produce evidence?

    • Atheist Max says:

      Dick,

      Facts don’t care about whether you believe in them or not.
      If believing in things made the come into existence we would have a cure for cancer and no children would ever die.

      Your argument is not sounding remotely rational.

  15. Dick Martin says:

    Jen; you ought to abandoned you Popish way if there in contradiction with Godly ways. We hope to save your eternal life. God’s way is the only way. I believed your way for 36 yrs. then I read and studied God’s Word and found it to be different from Catholic teachings. I had a choice to make. I chose Life. nothing yet has brought me back to the Catholic way. It contradicts God’s Scripture.

  16. Dick Martin says:

    Max; There is a cure for cancer if the medical field would release it. To much money being made. There will be a time of living on the Earth in our New incorruptible bodies united with our spirits for all eternity. No more tears or heartaches; No pain. Faith is not rational. It’s believing in something that you can’t see. If you see something in the natural it doesn’t need faith When you put your faith in God you believe until it becomes SIGHT. God promises the if you believe that Jesus is who He says He is, and agree with His promise to change you from a sinful natured ( not in the family) person, to a Born Again ( God’s Natured) person then you become a Child of the King ( in the Family).

    • Atheist Max says:

      Dick,

      “God promises the if you believe that Jesus is who He says He is…”

      But how does one have faith if one does not believe it? According to you, the first thing you must do is pretend that you believe, then after that the evidence becomes visible.

      This feels like pretending you have one million dollars in the bank, then once you’ve pretended really hard – a million dollars appears even if there is no evidence of it.

    • Atheist Max says:

      Dick,

      “Faith is not rational. It’s believing in something that you can’t see.”

      Don’t you read the things you are saying? I mean, really. Look at that.
      I’m asking WHY believe. And you offer no good reason.

      It is rather stunning.

  17. Dick Martin says:

    Max; Faith won’t work for you since you can’t believe in something you can’t see. Blind people can have faith. I hope you have enough faith in your tire to hold air at 100 miles per hour.

    • Atheist Max says:

      “I hope you have enough faith in your tire to hold air at 100 miles per hour.”

      Again. You are referring to things with a record of results. There is ample evidence that my tires work fine. No faith is required.

      Confidence based on past performance is not Faith.
      ‘Faith’ is a word which means “There is no evidence”

      Blind people don’t have any faith. No blind person would put a foot forward unless they were quite certain of some support. That is why they use canes and seeing eye dogs.
      Faith will get a blind person killed.

      Why is faith good? It seem religious people are convinced Faith is good for some reason.

  18. Dick Martin says:

    Max; you just admitted that you HAVE Faith in your tires because of their past performance record. God and Faith works also by the testimony of past performance. There are multiple death every day of people who put their trust in their tire, so every time you drive you should have security in where your next stop will be. You and me apply Faith several times a day without recognizing it. I could make a long list of things you and I do every day that we put our trust in that they not fail. You use more faith in disproving that God exists than I do that He does exists.
    Romans 1:18-23
    For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
    because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
    For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
    because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
    Professing to be wise, they became fools,
    and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Max; this is God speaking to you directly through His word.—Apply IT.

    • Atheist Max says:

      Where is the record of God’s reliability? I need to see a record of performance before I can have any confidence in it.

      I remind you that the Bible is not going to be included as evidence of God’s performance – if I already believed in those old stories I wouldn’t be looking for performance.
      So I’m not talking about claims in an old book – but real life.

      Where is there any evidence that you can point to – outside of your Bible – that a God ever did anything?

  19. Dick Martin says:

    Christopher Columbus believed the Earth was round at a time when everyone else thought it was flat. He read in the bible that the earth was round and saw that the moon was round and applied Faith in the belief that God knows what He’s talking about and sailed into the unseen and his faith became sight. Another true story : When I was 20 yrs, old and was dating my wife, I was on my way Home from Her House on a county Rd. it was just tar and graveled an my convertible slid on the loose stones . I had to top down and the car went side way and through the front yard of a farm and was heading towards a creek and a big willow tree, I tried to correct to no avail. I put my legs up on the seat and that was the last thing I remembered . when I regained consciousness I was setting 25 ft. and 90 degrees from my car which ended upside down in the creek and had hit the tree. I had no scratches. bruises. broken bones, my hair was not even messed up. I was not wet or grass stained: torn clothes, nothing. Car was totaled. No way this could have happened in the natural. God saved my life. I am convinced. This was 16 Yrs. before I became a Christian. He saw Me 16 yrs. in advance and protected Me. Both incidence was about God’s Mercy and love.

    • Atheist Max says:

      “God saved my life. I am convinced.”

      I don’t know why you attribute it to God. Of course, I cannot deny it. It is your right to say so.
      But I don’t follow your logic.
      Didn’t God also put all the slippery gravel in front of you? Didn’t God let the car flip? Wouldn’t it have been easier for god to stop your car without ever hurting you at all? A concussion can be a life-threatening situation – to me, you sound lucky, not blessed.

      And why does God let Atheists like me survive dozens of harrowing accidents? Seems Christians and Atheists die of the same illnesses and accidents.
      I almost died twice in the last decade after becoming Atheist – yet survived to tell the tale. Shall I use that as proof that God doesn’t exist?

      As for Columbus – there were many sailors just before his era who were beginning to venture further out on the ocean and make longer trips. They were noticing the curvature of the earth on the horizon and began to theorize that the Bible was wrong about the earth being flat.
      Columbus – and other sailors – were testing a theory which was based on evidence. The evidence that the world was probably round could be seen on long sea voyages.

      The people who doubted Columbus were Christians who believed the Bible could not be wrong. Columbus was brave enough to test the theory. But the theory was not based on ‘faith’ – it was based on what appeared to be real evidence that the horizon was a curve.

  20. Dick Martin says:

    Nice assumption– actually the sailors were the ones that believed the Earth was flat. afraid to venture out. Columbus was Jewish and read the bible that says the Earth was ROUND.

  21. Atheist Max says:

    The Bible – with incredible clarity – describes the world as flat.
    Hence the deep fear expressed by the crew of Columbus at it set sail beyond the horizon in the 1490s.

    Though the world has been proven to be round (just ask any airline pilot) the Bible is frozen solid in fossilized declarations long disproved and so forgotten as to be obscure.

    In fact, the vast majority of the Bible has been so thoroughly discredited over the recent centuries
    that the vast tonnage of claims of all chapters must be dismissed entirely as “metaphor” – AT BEST.

    • Todd says:

      “The Bible – with incredible clarity – describes the world as flat.”

      Where would that be?

      “Hence the deep fear expressed by the crew of Columbus …”

      Proof of that? Washington Irving’s hagiography is deeply entwined with the American mythology on this. But his fictionalizations are not quite factual.

      There’s also nothing wrong with metaphor, Max. But as we’ve discussed before, some things in the Bible are metaphors, some symbols, some oral traditions adapted into a written record. I’m going to have to hold your feet to the fire on these points, and suggest you might be taking things on faith–horror of horrors for an atheist, eh?

      • Atheist Max says:

        “…gather together the dispersed of Judah from the FOUR CORNERS OF THE EARTH.” – Isaiah 11:12, (Only a flat, 2 dimensional thing could have exactly four corners)

        “Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him ALL the kingdoms of the world…” – Matthew 4:8 (only if the world were flat would this be possible)

        “I saw four angels standing on FOUR CORNERS OF THE EARTH, holding the four winds of the earth..” – Revelation 7:1 (only a flat, 2 dimensional thing could have exactly four corners)

        Job 38:13
        “That it might take hold of the ENDS OF THE EARTH, that the wicked might be shaken out of it?” (only a flat thing would have ends)

        Jeremiah 16:19
        19 O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ENDS OF THE EARTH, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit. (only a flat thing would have ends)

        Daniel 4:11
        11 The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the ENDS OF ALL THE EARTH: (only a flat thing would have ends)

        so..
        Every reason to believe the world was flat. I don’t know whether Columbus knew or did not know about the Vikings – he may have – in which case he may have had an idea that the world was round.
        He didn’t learn it from the Bible.

        I’ll allow you to call all of those biblical verses “metaphorical” if you’ll call everything else in the Bible metaphorical too. And if you will admit that metaphors are nothing to kill people over – and nothing to send people to hell for.

        A metaphor does not reciprocate love, nor does it dole out blessings.

        If God is a metaphor, then Jesus isn’t really his son and there is no way to talk to it.
        Just as the Wolf in the three little pigs isn’t really something you can talk to – it is a metaphor for trouble of a certain kind – but it is a metaphor to enable discussion about suffering and how to avoid it.

        “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down” – Big Bad Wolf
        “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord” – Yahweh

        I don’t mind looking at the Bible as metaphor. It has many virtues and insights as metaphor. It helps us understand what early civilization was struggling with.

        But I see no reason to believe God can be interacted with any more than one can interact with a Big Bad Wolf.

  22. Todd says:

    lol

    Nope. North, south, east, west. Nice try, Max. You have to find an explicit reference that says the Earth is flat. No metaphors. As for Matthew 4:8, Pablo Picasso could show all angles from one vantage point.

  23. Dick Martin says:

    THE CRICLE OF THE EARTH.
    Isaiah 40:21-22
    Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
    It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.

    • Atheist Max says:

      “circle of the earth”

      This all feels like spaghetti being thrown at the wall to see what sticks.
      From the vantage point of the top of a mountain and looking down all around one does not see four corners. One sees a circle – like a flat 2-dimensional disc.

      But what then of the four corners?
      I don’t know.

      Between a flat dic and a flat square I see nothing that suggests ‘sphere’. And there is a good reason for that.

      The people who wrote the Bible had no more knowledge about reality than whoever penned Aesop’s fables. Was it Aesop? I don’t even know.

  24. Todd says:

    “This all feels like spaghetti being thrown at the wall to see what sticks.”

    Really? Seems like you’re the one who trolled through the Bible–or borrowed the citations from someone who did–to turn four directions into a flat earth. There’s nothing in the Bible to support a definitive religious viewpoint of a flat earth. Just concede the point, Max, and get back to formulating an atheist manifesto.

    • Atheist Max says:

      You are correct. The Bible does not say ‘flat’.

      The Bible says the earth has four corners – like a laptop screen for example, or a napkin.
      But I guess it was crazy of me to think of a flat square or rectangle (clever save with the North South East and West – but I can play that game too: Up, Down, Left and Right)

      By the way, what does the Western corner of the earth look like? I’d like to know.

      It also says the earth is a circle. Hmm. A circle with four corners?
      Let’s find some spaghetti to throw and see what sticks for that metaphor.

      It should be alarming how useless this information is. Especially when the correct shape of the earth is a spherical pear shape. So I say the Bible is wrong regarding the shape of the earth in more ways than imaginable.
      Maybe we can find a way to turn “a circle with four corners” into a pear?
      That would be ‘checkmate atheist’ material for sure. lol.

      But much more serious things are going on in Indiana suddenly
      where religious power is asserting itself – not to claim freedom for itself (a freedom I supported by the way), as it already has plenty freedom to worship and freedom to marry heterosexuals to its heart’s content – but to acquire the ADDITIONAL VETO power to publicly shame whomever it deems sinners and other ‘miscreants’ through denying them accesses and vital services through various businesses!

      It is the full intention of the state of Indiana to shame Lesbians, Homosexuals, Transgendered, Bisexuals (really anyone at all) for not following Jesus Christ’s law TO THE LITERAL LETTER! NO METAPHORICAL interpretation is allowed in Indiana.

      If you are gay somehow the believer never wants to talk about ‘metaphors’.
      If you are the wrong religion somehow the Christian forgets about ‘metaphor.
      If you want contraception, somehow the Christian forgets his talk about metaphors.

      Christians are going to be asked a lot of questions about Indiana. And I see no metaphorical interpretation going on – I see Westboro Baptist fundamentalism getting very comfy in the seat of government.

      Look what we get for not questioning Christian religious claims all these years.

      “In every country and in every age, the preacher has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.”
      -Thomas Jefferson

      • Todd says:

        From the perspective of the ancients in Israel, the western corner was Gibraltar, more or less–the farthest known land at the time. The ancient Egyptians circumnavigated Africa, so Cape Horn would be the southern corner, as it were.

        And yes, I accept your concession on flat and round Earth, and certainly concede that the political situation in Indiana is of concern to many people. How much it has to do with religion: that may be debatable.

    • Atheist Max says:

      Atheist manifesto?

      This is the best I can do:
      “I don’t know if a God exists, but I don’t believe the claims I’ve heard about. I’m open to evidence but until then, keep religion out of secular laws.”

      Not much more to say. But it was better written by others:
      “Government shall make no law establishing religion, nor prohibit the free and fair exercise thereof.”

      How could a Christian complain with either version I don’t know. I have no manifesto – I don’t even know what that could be.

  25. Dick Martin says:

    picky, picky, picky.—The bible say’s God has WINGS; That doesn’t make Him a Chicken.
    Psalms 36:7
    How precious is Your loving kindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.

    • Atheist Max says:

      Dick,

      If God doesn’t have wings why does the Bible bother to say he does?
      Mercury had wings too.

      The Big Bad Wolf is a metaphor for trouble. I would not pray to the Big Bad Wolf.
      If God is just a metaphor, why are you praying to it?

  26. charlesincenca says:

    Todd, your forbearance is remarkable. We’re long passed the beat cop waving us on, “Nothing to see here, folks, move on.”

    • Atheist Max says:

      Charles,

      Atheism is on the rise.
      One would think a religious person would be curious as to why that is happening. I am a former Christian – and I have discovered two incredible things:

      1. I was wrong about Christianity (apparently)
      2. I was wrong about Atheism.

      Atheism just means “I don’t believe this”
      Christianity is a set of strong absolute claims. We know the important claims very well.

      But behold, such things as this are absolutely impossible to explain away:

      “In the name of Jesus..keep away from him!” (2 Thess 3:6)
      “Judge not that ye be not judged..(Matt. 7:1)

      Now we can pretend they do not contradict – that is called ‘having faith’.
      But the moment we have done that, we have validated all the contradictions in all the other religions – and I don’t know how you can live with that.

      I would be fascinated in any explanation of any of this.
      What is the logic I am missing?

      • Todd says:

        What you are missing is a more free and rational perspective. Among other things, you concede an emotional attachment to what appears to be more an anti-Christianity than an actual atheism. If we can believe it, you’ve cited Sandy Hook as a personal breaking point–not at all a rational motivation, to be tipped over by a senseless act of mass violence. A logical atheist would be looking outside him or herself and ragging on the government for better gun laws, or better mental health policies. You profess God as an agent of some kind and overlook human responsibility for the oversight of dangerous personalities.

        I’m convinced you are not really an atheist, but an apostate. You still define yourself in terms of God and Christianity. Hardly a post goes by without your denial of a tradition you claim to have once embraced. You dismiss and snicker at my suggestion that if you really are an atheist that you come up with a positive statement of some kind. That you will not or cannot do this is sound evidence you have not escaped the clutches of belief. You are trying like hell to exorcise yourself of some personal demons. And you are failing–at least as far as your writings here and at CNS are concerned.

        Or this could be a fabrication for your own personal amusement, and you are really some teenager with a hobby. The internet is a seductive mistress, my friend.

  27. charlesincenca says:

    Max, as you addressed your last response to me, I owe you a respectful reply. (I do concur with Todd’s assessment as well.) The demographics of the “rise of atheism” are of no interest to me. Why would you assume they would be? What’s more problematic is why you’re working so hard to sell me, like an insurance agent, to the point of closure and deliverance? Furthermore, despite your appeal to evangelize the universal benefit of abandoning faith and religion, your focus, from my POV, is much more centered inwardly towards your own convictions. Fine.
    You want some sort of logical defense of “faith.” That is illogical. But I can tell you that the tale of the Prodigal Son/Father and the lessons of Mt.25 compel and convict me towards an “imitation” of Christ in my own life and behavior, and in my own manner, thank you. Whether or not there existentially is a personal judgment with goats and sheep being culled I cannot know, but it makes sense to me, just as does forgiveness and reconciliation between fellow travelers.
    So I’ll conduct my affairs and behaviors accordingly and often fail miserably in the process. But I can do no other.

    • Atheist Max says:

      Fair enough.

      My concern is, and has been (for two years)
      dealing with the overwhelming, painful shock of discovering that God is probably not a real thing.

      These are the responsibilities I have had to confront head on. You will see that they are not the problems of an Apostate, but of a true believer whose God vanished:

      1. How did I ever believe God to be real?
      2. What do I do about my non-belief? Does it mean I am a Nihilist? I don’t want that.
      3. What is the meaning of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ (I’ve grappled with that one very well)
      4. What do I do with the emotional attachment I had to my grandmother who was so religious and gave me a Rosary and many Bibles which I still treasure? (Again, I’ve sorted this one out very well also)
      5. What do I do with other Catholics? Should I judge them? (no) Should I pity them? (no) Should I be angry with them perpetuating these beliefs – people who are spreading the very dilemma I am dealing with today? (again, generally speaking, no.)
      6. What about Religion? Should I just be quiet as I watch other Christians setting themselves up for the same painful shock down the road?

      Looking in the rearview mirror I see that religion was incredibly controlling while it pretends to “give us” free will – as if belief is a choice – I’ve learned it isn’t.
      Lots of emotional buttons are pushed to persuade people to stay even once belief is gone. I’m still baffled why this flaw in religion was not more obvious.

      The Sandy Hook Children were slaughtered, I prayed to God and realized it would be immoral for the same god who ignored those children to now respond to my prayer. This was a stunning insight. And 50 years of Christian belief vanished like a sand castle.

      I may not be posting here much longer.
      But I thank you for your help and your responding to my queries.

      I am not afraid of life without God. But religion worries me – I’ve asked questions here because I sometimes genuinely did not know how to proceed and wondered if practicing Catholics might have some insight into these questions. What I have learned is that my Catholic education did not prepare me with good answers for this moment – but based on answers I’ve been told here at Catholic Sensibility – neither has your education been much better than mine. That has been quite a discovery, too.

      The Prodigal Son is a compelling story which I thought about often at one time, but the Sandy Hook insight I referred to has destroyed the idea that I have a ‘father’ to turn to. So I’m on my own, as it were.

      As the shock fades I have delved deeper into philosophy and science. I’m surprised how many good answers I find there.
      And though some of those practical theories may prove to be just as wishy-washy as Catholicism turned out to be, I am at least permitted to test them, to think freely and to keep asking questions – none of which is encouraged in religion.

      Thanks for your responses.
      I HONESTLY was not trying to convert anyone away from belief. I doubt very much that I am capable of doing that anyway. I grew up loving my Catholic family and Priests and churches – I raised my kids in the church and made sure they whole family came to their Baptisms. Catholicism, like any group of like minded people, is a cozy club. It has traditional answers as other clubs do. But when the answers no longer made sense, I had to give it one last exploration.

  28. charlesincenca says:

    Well-thought and good intentioned reply, Max. I don’t believe you are practicing coercion of your POV. You are quite on point when you describe yourself as being on your own. Even though I take no umbrage at your assessment of my life-long catechetical education, the largest portion self-motivated, it occurs to me that if you’ve pondered the parable of the Prodigal, you actually are not at the arrival of the errant son to his father’s home, you are in the quagmire of exhaustion and perhaps despair, caring for swine that demeans your humanity to obliteration. Well, what’s next after that moment of realization? No matter the outcome it is “I will go to my father….” You claim that our Father disintegrated to you after Sandy Hook. I’ll take you at your word and presume you first tried to “go to my father” and not seeing Him, found truly abject despair.
    What I don’t understand, Max, is that “finding the father” is not the end of the journey, but the journey itself, and as I said, one in which must be taken with fellow travelers of like mind and intent.
    As far as the deficiencies and the charge of monolithic group-think inherent in the RCC, I’m sorry but I don’t think you’ve been paying attention to over two millennia’s worth of discourse, and particularly in the last three years of HHF’s pontificate. No other Christian church practices examen as rigorously as does the RCC. Pick up the latest issue of the New Oxford Review. Celebrate the depth and revelation written there, and in so many other contemporary media.

    • Atheist Max says:

      Thanks again.

      “caring for swine that demeans your humanity to obliteration.”
      As a former Christian I don’t take this as insult – the ‘swine’ is supposed to be an external force which somehow invades the good Catholic and subverts his thoughts. Such externality is not something I invited in any way – unless turning to God for a prayer was such an invitation as the children lay dying in Sandy Hook.

      “Even though I take no umbrage at your assessment of my life-long catechetical education, the largest portion self-motivated…”
      Again, I meant nothing insulting by it – perhaps I worded it wrongly. I would say that I have put a lot of effort into my questions so as not too offend and yet to focus on the matters quite specific to my problem – and the answers I have received by Catholics are no better than ones I already am familiar with as a 50-something year old man.

      In closing, I would say that there is of course much wisdom and depth in the Catholic religion. I’m tempted to say the religion is better than the God it appears to worship. It is an institution which means well. It has architectures and arguments promoting compassion and empathy. The religion – the man made interpretations and rituals – are clearly spelled out to serve not so much a God but the people who participate. God appears to be a character – an aspiration, a yearning to not waste this life but to use it for some good purpose.

      But I must add this is true of all religions I have explored.
      In general, I have discovered that religions are much better than their gods. And people are infinitely much better than their religions.

      If a baby falls from a window it matters not a whit whether the man below is Agnostic, Hindu, Jewish, Christian, Muslim or Atheist. The arms will be outstretched to catch that child – it is instinctual in all of us. That is what gives me hope. We humans have it in us.

      Whereas God did not have it in him at Sandy Hook, or anywhere else – We do have those arms. That much I know I can believe in.

      • Liam says:

        Max

        With respect: you’ve only *begun* to unwind and identify your assumptions and pscyho-cognitive biases. You’ve got layers to go. You may find very different perspectives becoming available to you has you go through the layers (though I don’t want to imply it’s a linear process – it’s not).

        For example: “If a baby falls from a window it matters not a whit whether the man below is Agnostic, Hindu, Jewish, Christian, Muslim or Atheist. The arms will be outstretched to catch that child – it is instinctual in all of us. That is what gives me hope. We humans have it in us.” Not consistently, and not reliably. Far from it. All sorts of social structures and habits, in many dimensions, are implied in strengthening and reinforcing it. These are the very same human beings who, in many cultures for aeons, exposed unwanted babies to the elements and predatory creatures.

        My relationship with God is inverse of yours: I can only make sense (not just logically, but rationally in the larger capacity of human reason) of evil in the context of a personal God who created us with the free will that he does not interfere regularly with in such a way as to give us certainty about his existence. Here I would strongly contrast certainty from faith – certainty in relationships encourages people to take the Other for granted, even to objectify them. Faith requires a certainty gap, which, in my experience and that of many writers and thinkers over the ages, turns out to be the necessary oxygen for non-egoistic love. I got here through years upon years of experiencing spiritual dryness and desolation. It took those years for me to grasp, as I aged, how that’s how I actually sense God’s presence. That’s not anything that can be logically syllogised in a blog combox.

        Peace, and patience. I don’t pretend to know *better* than you do. I can, however, share my experience, such as it is.

  29. charlesincenca says:

    “I’m tempted to say the religion is better than the God it appears to worship. It is an institution which means well. It has architectures and arguments promoting compassion and empathy. The religion – the man made interpretations and rituals – are clearly spelled out to serve not so much a God but the people who participate. God appears to be a character – an aspiration, a yearning to not waste this life but to use it for some good purpose. ”

    Bonhoeffer couldn’t have said that better. And yet he faced the same passion as did Maximillian Kolbe, Edith Stein and countless souls consigned to the ever-enigmatic suffering “allowed” by the omnibenevolent God (flash forward to Cambodia, Serbia, Somalia, Mosul and India), and yet they held fast, we hear and listen, learn and emulate because “goodness” and “nobility” and “discipline” aren’t oppressive words, but clarion calls.

    I might offer that you (re) visit the aptly named popular scientist/astronomer Carl Sagan, and consider how he tempered his “unknowing” as regards faith with his immutable trust in science as portrayed in “Cosmos.” Tyson’s agenda in the remake is patently, blatantly disrespectful of “faith” needlessly, as his scientific and PR genius are obviously the equal of Sagan’s. So what’s changed since Carl’s demise? The nature of dialogue.

    • Atheist Max says:

      Charles Incenca,

      “Bonhoeffer couldn’t have said that better.”

      I embrace the possibility of a God, like most Atheists I’ve come to know. I haven’t ruled it out.

      But I find all my troubles in this claim:
      “God absolutely exists. We know it. And what he wants of Me and You is abundantly and irrefutably clear and there are authorities and theologians who can confirm this revelation is true – just have faith.”

      Despite losing God, I’m still just as aware of the aspirational, the numinous, the awe inspiring. The yearnings have not gone away in the least, I am simply more wary of committing absolute claims about them.

      You said,
      “…..and yet they held fast, we hear and listen, learn and emulate because “goodness” and “nobility” and “discipline” aren’t oppressive words, but clarion calls.”

      On this, I agree with you 100%.
      You are describing the very things I live for.
      I aspire to “goodness” and “nobility”, etc and especially Integrity – and and am aware of my personal responsibility for those connected to me and to those I can help whenever possible.

      It is why I have donated to the National Institute for Mental Health after Sandy Hook each year, to help people with mental problems get help so they don’t repeat such awful acts.
      It motivates me to donate heavily to Doctors Without Borders working on the front lines in war zones even in Syria. I read books to at the local Elementary school since my own kids have grown and moved away – I am spreading some goodness.

      I am “holding fast” and will not let go of those aspirations. They are with me every day.

      Many Christians tell me my good deeds are worthless because I do not do them for God – I could argue, referring to what Jesus said about clothing the sick and so on – but they can counter with other scriptures or theology to refute. It is a wild goose chase.

      I would rather point out to them that goodness seems to be prevalent in most people regardless of religion. And failure is often inevitable – not because of sin (as far as I can tell), but because life is hard and random. Terrible difficulties happen to everyone.

      I believe helping others makes us happy. There is evidence for that.
      I believe most people are very good and want to do good. There is evidence for that.
      The world appears to be just people carrying on as best they can.
      And it seems, from my gentle observation, that a real God is not actually participating in any way.

  30. Dick Martin says:

    Where are we going with this? Dead men ( Atheist) giving advice to other dead men. Mythology speaking to ” the God of Creation”. Everyone adjusting the pictures on the wall while the Titanic is sinking instead of leading others to Jesus. There is a need to go into all the world with the Good news and it starts over the back fence; neighbors just waiting for an invitation to share a personal encounter with the living, loving Savior.

    • Jen says:

      Max is at least arguing and debating in good faith. If your religion were the only other option, I’d rather have no faith.

      • Atheist Max says:

        Jen,

        “Debating in good faith”

        Funny to read that.
        I would say I am debating in good confidence that somewhere in Dick, and perhaps someone else out there, is a person who gets tired of pat answers – and questions why religion keeps making so many claims over all of humanity without providing any evidence for its supposed ‘truth’.

  31. Dick Martin says:

    What Good is Good Faith? Max has already said He doesn’t have any Faith, so He can’t argue or debate Faith… You probably don’t have any faith either. if you say you would rather not. “YOUR RELIGION” ????? My Religion doesn’t have any option. Jesus is God. He says He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one gets in to Heaven except Through Him. It’s your chose to believe in Atheist statements or Quotes from the Bible . ( God’s Word). My advice Choose Life.

    • Atheist Max says:

      Dick,

      “Max has already said He doesn’t have any Faith, so He can’t argue or debate Faith..”

      Of course I can.
      I don’t have a Rolls Royce, but if you had one you could explain all sorts of things about it.

      I do not have faith in anything. I DO have CONFIDENCE in past results.
      I therefore have good REASON to believe in many, many things.

      Faith: “I have NO good reason to believe – but I just gotta believe anyway.”
      I’m asking why? Why is it good to use such an unworkable method of inquiry? What wisdom could possibly come out of it?

      Yes it is very awkward to face for the first time that life appears to have no gods.
      But, it also leads to a much more explainable world – and a world full of solutions to many problems heretofore unconsidered because religion is a way of thinking which keeps them hidden.

      I see much more as an Atheist than I ever saw as a Christian.

  32. Dick Martin says:

    As an Athiest you will see one thing more than I will; guess what that will be? As a Christian I will see most everything; can’t list everything there to many to; except you know what. Faith produces things that are unseen and brings them into existence.

  33. Dick Martin says:

    Faith is not believing in something that already exists. It’s believing in who created it in the first place. You can’t apply faith where the wil of God is NOT known. since you don’t believe in God’s existance; that leaves you with the problem.

    • Atheist Max says:

      “It’s believing in who created it in the first place.”

      What evidence do you have that a God created anything?
      If I make a salad, it is I who makes the salad.
      If I grow the vegetables, it is I who waters the lettuce.
      If I plant the seeds, it is I who initiates the process.

      I did not create the seed or the process which makes the seed grow – but I can see each step scientifically and there appears no part of the process which is particularly mysterious where a God would play a role.

      Though I cannot answer where the first seed came from – I know all of the science, the photosynthesis, how the young plant creates its own food by the transfer of sun’s energy into sugars – and how the skin of the seed is softened by Hydrogen and Oxygen molecules.

      We can manipulate every single part of the process. Though I cannot create life – I see no reason to believe SPECIFICALLY in the PARTICULAR IDEA that YAHWEH GOD is the only answer. There is no justification for that conclusion – it is coming out of nowhere.

    • Atheist Max says:

      “Faith”

      The Bible tells us God loves slave owners more than he loves slaves:

      “Slaves, be subject to your masters with all reverence, not only to those who are good and equitable but also to those who are perverse.” (1 Peter 2:18)

      How can I praise or worship a creator who can’t make a commitment against slavery?
      And If God does not prefer the slave master, why does he make a command which if violated sends the slave to HELL but not the slave master?

      • Atheist Max says:

        In other words, if the slave runs to freedom he is violating God’s command – he will therefore go to Hell as all who violate God’s laws.
        But the slave owner does not go to Hell and has done nothing wrong!

  34. Dick Martin says:

    You don’t have a clue Max; This quote is in reference to giving honor to a master of a business of which you are a servant ;not a slave. Slave is a title you inserted. There were slaves back in those days. They were owned by the Master and they still should give honor and respect. Even Servant and slaves were spoken of in the New testament. In reference to wanting to be a Servant or a Slave to God. Owned by and being obedient to. Max; You are a slave to your master. In the Spirit world there are Two forces at work; God whom you have to seek after and Satan who seeks after you without invitation. Unknowingly you are doing the work of your Master.

    • Atheist Max says:

      Dick Martin,

      According to your answer, everyone is a slave. And also according to you we are obliged by God not to run away from our masters.

      If Satan is Perverse, and if Satan is my master, does Jesus want me to run away from Satan? According to you, Jesus wants me to stay with Satan no matter what:

      “Slaves, be subject to your masters with all reverence, not only to those who are good and equitable but also to those who are perverse.” (1 Peter 2:18)

      Is that what you are saying? Jesus wants me to stay with Satan?

  35. Dick Martin says:

    You already belong to Satan . you can’t serve two masters. Before you die physically you can choose which Master too serve. God’s will is for you to choose Him in the person of Jesus. You and I were born into this world with a Satanic Nature and as long as you keep it that way you can’t enter Heaven. This is what being born again means ; you have your nature changed into God’s nature. Then you belong to your Father God. You become a member of the Family. you recieve the benefits of sonship.

    • Atheist Max says:

      Dick,

      “you can choose which Master too serve”

      Not according to your religion – I cannot leave my master:

      “Slaves be subject to your masters….even to those who are Perverse” – (1 Peter 2:18)

      According to your Bible I must stay with Satan (assuming you are correct about him being my master).
      Of course, I don’t believe in Satan either – it is entirely your claim. But in order to follow the Bible my first assignment from Christianity is to trust the WORD OF GOD. Right?

      So I have no choice.
      I must stay committed to my master Satan – If I am to listen to St. Peter and follow his instructions.

      If I try to leave Satan I immediately break St. Peter’s command. That just sends me back to Hell to be with Satan.

  36. Dick Martin says:

    Stinkin Thinkin MAX. I told you; you can choose to get out of your dilemma. stop ignoring my instructions. sounds like you have made up your mind who you want to follow. you have been decieved about St. Peter. He’s not God and He didn’t inspire the scripture; He just wrote down what God told Him too.

    • Atheist Max says:

      “He just wrote down what God told Him to.”

      Did Peter make a mistake and write the wrong rule?
      Or did God make the mistake and Peter wrote it correctly?

      I have to remind you that you have claimed the Bible to have authority on these matters.

      When you say “He just wrote down what God told him to” that sums up everything in the Bible – it was all just written by men who apparently make mistakes.
      So how do you figure out which things are mistakes and which things are not?

      Peter is clear: “Stay with your Slave Master even if he is perverse.” (1 Peter 2:18)

      If Satan is my Master, I’m stuck.

  37. Dick Martin says:

    Max: How many times and you still don’t get it.
    1 Peter 2:18
    Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. This quote is the accurate meaning, ( SERVANT). This could even be; ” Employees submit to your employer with all honor for he is in charge, no matter if He asks you to do something you don’t want to do. this was to apply to a secular meaning. It could have a spiritual meaning also. Servants recieve a wage (have value) for what they do. Slaves do not.

    • Atheist Max says:

      Dick Martin,

      You are being unfair.
      The entire Southern Baptist Church was founded by southern plantation owners on the New Testament Slavery Doctrine- these Bible passages mean “Slave” as in owned servitude.

      It is not fair to change the word Servant into “A Paid person” as the Bible explicitly says MASTER – NOT “EMPLOYER”.

      Just as Ephesians repeats:
      “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.” (Ephesians 6:5)

      AND TIMOTHY:
      “All who are under the yoke of SLAVERY should grant their masters full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered.” (1 Timothy 6:1)

      “You who are SLAVES must accept the authority of your masters with all respect. Do what they tell you–not only if they are reasonable, but even if they are perverse.”
      – 1 PETER 2:18
      (New Living Translation) (New International Translation) (Christian Bible Translation) (NET BIBLE) Etc…

      I do not blame you for sharing my disgust at the idea that God endorses and supports the MOST VICIOUS kinds of slavery – but the proper response is to be disgusted. Not to pretend the words mean something else.

      Now getting back to your claim:
      As God demands all slaves submit to their masters – AND IF I am a slave of Satan who is perverse…what is my recourse without violating God’s law?

  38. Dick Martin says:

    Violating God’s Law is the reason He Made the Law. How else could you become a sinner, unless you violated it. The Law was made so you would offend it. you would recognize you a sinner . in recognizing your a sinner you try to save yourself by attending Mass, going to confession, keeping the sacraments, all are dead works. You can’t save yourself. Dilemma… Only way out = Jesus was the perfect sacrifice. Only Jesus. His death was the exchange between your sin and his perfect Right-standing. This is the Good News that real Christians preach about. Nothing you say can change that. The Law has a purpose but keeping it was not the reason. Offending it is it’s goal.

    • Atheist Max says:

      “Violating God’s Law is the reason He Made the Law.”

      But I thought he made the Law so we could follow it and be saved?
      He wants us to break his laws? Then why did he bother to tell us the Laws? A person is guaranteed to break the law if he doesn’t even know there is a law.

      If God want’s me to violate his laws then I am doing better than you because I am ignoring his entire Bible.
      But if I follow this Laws then I must stay with my Master who (you say) is Satan.

      My dilemma is not resolved through your recommendations. I think it is important to point that out. God is incoherent.

  39. Dick Martin says:

    You thought is your problem. God made the Law so you would offend it and be condemned. The Law came through Moses. Grace and Mercy came through Jesus. You can’t keep the Law; it makes you a sinner. since you can’t save yourself you need a Savior. Enters Jesus. He’s the only one available.

  40. Dick Martin says:

    If your born again you are not under the law. The Law was made for Sinners only. Where there is no Law there’s no offence. That is why God made the Law so you would recognize your lost.
    Galatians 3:24-25
    Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
    But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. Max – read this and believe it. Don’t reason it away.

    • Atheist Max says:

      Dick,

      Faith is not Belief.
      Faith is the belief in “The Goodness” of a particular Belief.

      That is why I need you to explain where the goodness is. Why is it Good? It is precisely the “Goodness of the belief” which i cannot see.

      Muslims believe it is “good to believe” all the claims about Allah. They don’t necessarily believe in Allah – they believe “in the belief” of the claims.

      Why is it good to believe in the claims about Jesus?

  41. Dick Martin says:

    It’s good to have faith in Jesus; believing what He’s accomplished for us. He promised many things as heirs of the Kingdom. He brought us ” All good gifts come from above”. love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, self-control. Muslims believe it is good to believe all claims about allah. NOT. Foretold about ancestry of Ishmael in Genesis 16: 11,12.
    And the Angel of the Lord said to her: “Behold, you are with child, And you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, Because the Lord has heard your affliction.
    He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man, And every man’s hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” The proof is in the fruit that the tree produces. —Marrying children, immoral sex, beheadings, amputations, lying and cheating for gain. etc. it is the nature of the Fathers ; handed down through the ages. Mixing Religion with Government. Ruling by Fear and threats. Max: your statements have no foundation.

  42. Dick Martin says:

    Max: Why is atheism Good? Nothing Good. Don’t read anything into something that isn’t there. Foretold or Prophetic. It’s God’s statement I trust; Not yours.

    • Atheist Max says:

      Atheism is not good all by itself.
      Atheism only means “lack of belief in a God.”
      I am not telling you god does not exist – maybe he exists – I simply do not believe it.

      When someone stops believing in Palm Reading they don’t become a different person. Same for Santa Claus – I don’t become a different person just because I stop thinking Santa is real.

      Lack of belief in gods doesn’t change a person one way or the other.
      It is merely a discovery that many things attributed to gods seem to function fine without gods.

      Now please get back to your example of Genesis 16:11 – That is an injunction by God to judge the race of ISHMAEL as different from other people for their birth.

      I cannot let you off that hook which you put yourself on.
      You cannot tell me God is the father of morality in one tone of voice, then tell me it is okay for him to be immoral in another tone of voice.

      God is demanding his believers be Racist.
      How is racism good?

  43. Dick Martin says:

    My comment was not racist nor is God racist. God who you don’t believe in, Knows all things in the future. Ishmael and his mother was given a free will to chose his own Destiny. When God speaks about the future it’s called Prophesy. God saw His Choses Which lead to the Nature of muslims Today. Genisis16: 11,12.

    • Atheist Max says:

      Dick,

      “Ishmael and his mother was given a free will to chose”

      These are important things:
      1. I notice that you agree with me that Racism is not good.
      2. I notice that you don’t want to see God as racist – you reject it.
      3. This is not about the wrong things ISHMAEL and his mother have done – they went to Hell according to your own religion. Have you no dead family members gone to Hell? Should that mean all of your offspring must go? Even those not yet born?

      Why is it good to condemn the entire race of Ishmael – even those not yet born – as God did? What is the good?

  44. Dick Martin says:

    The Bible says the God sent His only begotten Son because He LOVED THE WHOLE WORLD. Jesus is God and He left Heaven and became a man who Died for the Whole world’s sins. People ever since have accepted or rejected His Gift of salvation. We all are born outside the kingdom and we all have to be Born Again to receive the Nature of our Father God. If you don’t make that decision you remain in your trespasses and sins. Jesus is available to everyone; even Muslims.

  45. Dick Martin says:

    To be racist God would have to favor one over another. The bible says that God is not a respecter of persons. God loves all people; but each individual has to choose to be on His Side. It’s in your ballpark–It’s your move. God says in His instructions to Choose LIFE or choose DEATH. Then if you have a problem choosing, God helps you -He says choose Life. Each family member has to choose for them self. God deals with individuals not groups or Nations or denominations . With the ones who choose Life, they receive Grace , Righteousness and Mercy. To those who choose Death receive Justice = HELL. You don’t have to go there. you can receive a FREE GO PASS. Thank you Jesus

    • Atheist Max says:

      Dick,

      “God loves all people; but each individual has to choose to be on His Side.”

      If God favors one group over the children of Ishmael that is not fair. He is putting unborn children at a disposition and in a worse situation.

      Why is that racism good?

  46. Dick Martin says:

    There will always be a generation of unsaved Groups of people. they all have the opportunity to find the true God. Even today there are multiple thousands of Muslims and Hindus, every day, finding their Messiah Jesus. God never puts the unborn in any situation where they later can’t hear the Good News. Even the aborted babies are covered by God’s mercy. Once the child reaches the age, where they are able to understand the plan, already paid for them, then they are accountable.

  47. Dick Martin says:

    In Romans 10 it says that in order to be born Again you have to believe who Jesus is and what He accomplished and then Choose the PLAN and then testify or confess your testimony to someone. Are still born or aborted babies able to comprehend or Believe ? At what age are children able to believe ? Iv’e seen children accept Jesus at age 4 or 5 and can tell you the reason back to you with clarity. The older a person is the less likely their going to believe because it takes child like faith. They say that older people become more child like in their Faith. The Bible says ” Train up a child in the way He should go and when he’s old – older, He will not depart from it”. Everyone has the opportunity to be saved. They hear the truth but choose not to receive.
    Romans 1:18-23
    For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
    because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
    For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
    because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
    Professing to be wise, they became fools,
    and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

    • Atheist Max says:

      Dick,
      You asked:
      “Are still born or aborted babies able to comprehend or Believe ?”

      No. So why do they get a free pass into Heaven simply because they never popped out of a vagina?

      And why should other children who make it out of the birth canal and survive be doomed to Hell just for being born? That is according to YOUR claims you made about sin and Jesus. You say if one does not choose Jesus one is doomed to Hell – so birth, then, was a curse.

      Christianity appears to be a bundle of riddles whose incoherence and disconnections are glossed over as ‘mystery’.

      If we are born doomed to eternal Hell – with only Jesus to save us – God has done a terrible thing.

      According to Christianity:
      God has placed us on His firing range at birth where He is shooting at us for our entire lives – but we get to live on in eternity if we ask Jesus to take the bullet for us.

      Why do Christians accept this preposterous theory?

  48. Dick Martin says:

    You will find out about this preposterous theory shortly Max. Unless you apply for the FREE GIFT.

    • Atheist Max says:

      Dick,

      “Unless you apply for the Free Gift.”

      I did once apply (as you put it) – I was a Christian for decades but I’m Atheist now.

      What exactly is the Gift?
      Is it a sense of certainty?
      A sense that you are protected?
      A sense that you will be safe after death?

      Why is it important everyone should chase it – without even knowing what it is?

  49. Todd says:

    “Free gift” sounds too much like cheap grace to me. Christians bear certain responsibilities, and Jesus indeed advised his disciples there would be a cross to carry and a path to follow.

    • Atheist Max says:

      “Jesus indeed advised his disciples there would be a cross to carry”

      Why?

      • Todd says:

        The nature of things, Max. Following Jesus does not guarantee a life devoid of obstacles, challenges, or problems. The key is not freedom from sadness or troubles, but the aspiration to holiness and virtue through following the Lord.

        I might say your own situation illustrates this. By your own testimony you were handed a significant cross. You certainly recognized it, and felt it. From what I see, your response was not to delve deeper into the mystery of compassion for people who suffered great loss, but to become an internet gadfly and attempt to convert other people into bailing out of religion.

      • Atheist Max says:

        Todd,

        “you were handed a significant cross. You certainly recognized it, and felt it….”

        So God decided I was too empathetic and wept too much for those dead children and so he cursed me?

      • Todd says:

        I thought you didn’t believe in God? If you feel cursed, perhaps you have brought it on yourself. The cross, the burden of life, if you will, has been part of human existence from the very beginning. Some people reap the sad consequences of their own behavior. Some are oppressed by the choices of others. Sometimes the innocent suffer. It is not fair, but life is not a first-grade classroom governed by an eagle-eye teacher who will set all wrongs right.

        I have yet to see how your brand of atheism transcends any of this. From what I can tell, you didn’t lose a loved one in Sandy Hook. What makes you so special so as to preach to others? Why should you lament senseless death and feel self-pity when others were much closer, when others had a much deeper and more profound lament? And there is your online propensity to leap onto other people’s sorrow as a platform for your brand of anti-religion. You’ve become like an automaton. Fewer and fewer people engage you–because you have so little to offer.

      • Atheist Max says:

        “feel cursed…I thought you didn’t believe in god.”

        Oh, no. I don’t feel the least bit cursed at all.
        I’m only trying to follow your theology and your argument. It is your claim that I am rejecting my cross – not mine.

        And you are correct – I don’t believe in God – I see no reason to think of God is a real thing.

        You said I ‘certainly felt’ the Cross, but then you infer that I must have abandoned it, (or rejected it). Accordingly, I would therefor be cursed:
        “If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed!..” (1 Corinthians 16:22)

        If I am so cursed, so be it.
        All I did was get to a breaking point where God clearly refused to help (the fact I did not know any of those children is mean of you. Sorry to hear you don’t cry for those you don’t know.)

        I certainly don’t love that which is either non-existent or evil.
        I had to come to a decision:

        1. God refused to help those children at Sandy Hook
        2. God gave in to the killer’s plan of cruel, bloody execution of sweet innocents.
        3. God exists but does not intercede in any relevant way.
        4. God’s existence is entirely irrelevant: regardless of His desires or his power, His intercession, goodness, love and value are either useless or equal to a set of delusions men have invented.

        So god is either deeply immoral, or he doesn’t exist.

        I consider it a matter of the highest order of moral responsibility and human decency
        to question the claims about God and Jesus Christ. These fables are dangerous and harmful.
        The God you are promoting is, by your standards of morality, an evil character – with power but refusing to intercede. This means religion is a bungled philosophy; a lie.

        It is a moral responsibility of everyone – especially clerics – to be particularly aware of what they are doing as the promote these theories of reality.

        If you have and answer to these challenges – fine.
        Where is it? I would like the TRUTH this time.

        Why talk about “my cross” when the Cross is on you, and your claims, to explain how all this is supposed to add up?

  50. Dick Martin says:

    Todd; Someone had to pay for your sin ; since you can’t pay for your own sin–Jesus did and it was not cheap. To recieve that grace for you it’s cheap because it’s FREE. and once you recieve Jesus; who is Grace then there is no more offering for sin because it was totally paid for.

    • Todd says:

      Ah yes: more Catholic/Evangelical misunderstanding. I wasn’t talking about being saved. I was speaking of the cost of discipleship. I thought I was clear about the context. Of course, not every evangelical Christian thinks I’m saved, or that I’m an authentic believer or disciple, so somehow I must be talking about the unsaved state. I wasn’t.

      I was referring to Mark 10:29-30: people who follow Jesus indeed freely make sacrifices because of their standing in the Reign of God. Max may well have once been one of them.

      “Free gift” sounds a little too much like junk mail or cable tv to me. The call to grace is a bit more serious than that.

    • Atheist Max says:

      Dick,

      “Someone had to pay for your sin…”

      I’m happy to believe this – if you can explain it.
      Why am I guilty for being born?
      And forget Adam and Eve – it is immoral to blame children for the sins of the parents. If my father cheats on my mother that doesn’t mean I’m guilty of cheating on my mother also by just being a little boy!

      Your argument cannot be connected to Adam and Eve. That is an immoral, mistaken connection.

      So why did someone need to get slaughtered 2000 years ago for ‘my sins’? And why is it moral to call it ‘free’ if someone was slaughtered?

  51. Dick Martin says:

    It’s not the sin of Adam and Eve that we inherit; it’ the sinful Nature that we are born with. Even in the natural we all inherit color of eye’s, height, weight, temper,different diseases,and spiritual conditions. It is unfair but God provided a way out. Jesus the perfect sacrifice. What greater motivation could have been provided to us to love God after we ( Human Race)with a free will to disobey;and have no way ot of our dilemma; to provide Jesus ( There is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood). It makes absolute perfect provision for our need. it is our fault; we can’t fix it ourselves. It’s God’s plan.

    • Atheist Max says:

      Dick,

      ” There is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood…”

      I’m trying to cooperate with you. I’m trying very hard.

      But please explain – in any way which makes sense to you – why the shedding of blood does something.
      I really mean it. I am eager to hear your explanation. Please help me understand.

      When blood spills out of Jesus what changes – and how does it change? and what evidence exists which shows the blood spilling on the ground changed anything.

  52. Dick Martin says:

    When the Messiah arrived, high priest of the superior things of this new covenant, he bypassed the old tabernacle and its trappings in this created world and went straight into heaven’s “tabernacle”—the true Holy Place—once and for all.
    He also bypassed the sacrifices consisting of goat and calf blood, instead using his own blood as the price to set us free once and for all.
    If that animal blood and the other rituals of purification were effective in cleaning up certain matters of our religion and behavior,
    think how much more the blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives, inside and out.
    Through the Spirit, Christ offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God.
    Like a will that takes effect when someone dies, the new covenant was put into action at Jesus’ death. His death marked the transition from the old plan to the new one, canceling the old obligations and accompanying sins, and summoning the heirs to receive the eternal inheritance that was promised them. He brought together God and his people in this new way.
    Like a will that takes effect when someone dies, the new covenant was put into action at Jesus’ death. His death marked the transition from the old plan to the new one, canceling the old obligations and accompanying sins, and summoning the heirs to receive the eternal inheritance that was promised them. He brought together God and his people in this new way.

    • Atheist Max says:

      Dick,

      I still don’t understand the blood. Why blood?

      “canceling the old obligations and accompanying sins…”

      But those obligations were not cancelled – Jesus said the Exodus laws (the commandments”) and most of Leviticus (“defraud not”, “execute disobedient children”, etc..) and Deuteronomy (“do not test the Lord”) still had to be followed – according to Jesus.
      So the new covenant is just additional stuff (albeit amazingly contradictory) – not a replacement for the old covenant.
      “Do not think I have come to abolish – I have not!” – JESUS (matthew)

      Please explain the blood.
      Why did jesus need to bleed? Why did the blood need to hit the ground?
      Why could he not just die without bleeding?

  53. Dick Martin says:

    Do not think I have come to Abolish The LAW – I Have not To abolish but to fulfill the Law. Moses brought the Law; but Grace came through Jesus. The law ended when people become BORN AGAIN. Those Who are not BORN AGAIN are still under the Law.
    Daniel 9:24
    “Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy. This is a prophesy given almost 530 bc. a prediction to the exact day Jesus was crucified. His Death ended sin because He fulfilled the Law. He finished the transgression, made reconciliation, brought in everlasting Righteousness, etc. Jesus lived during Old Testament Times. New Testament began at His Death when He said it is finished.

  54. I believe they are going to be nice for traveling.
    Very lightweight and straightforward to put on.

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