For Evangelical Christians, Abortion Trumps All

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I am extremely dismayed watching the Trump impeachment trial.  To me, Donald Trump’s blatant attempt to involve a foreign power in an American election and his complete stone-walling of Congress is a grave threat to our democracy.  But what is even more disheartening and frightening, is the iron-clad support Trump continues to receive from his evangelical Christian base, regardless of the massive quantity of damning evidence presented against him.  Would these “devout” followers of Jesus of Nazareth tolerate the same behavior in a Democratic president?  No way.  They would be outraged by his (or her) outrageous, systematic dismantling of the democratic institutions and norms of our republic.

By the standards of their own holy book, the Bible, Trump is the most immoral, dishonest, unethical, despicable president in our nation’s history.  Yet, evangelical Christians overwhelmingly support him and shower him with praise.

Why?

I believe there is one answer:  the issue of abortion.  Evangelical Christians support Trump primarily due to his opposition to abortion and his willingness to consistently appoint anti-abortion conservative judges to the highest courts of our land.

I truly believe that the majority of evangelical Christians would support a fascist candidate, from an unabashed fascist party; a candidate who promises to declare an emergency suspension of the Constitution upon his election and the imposition of martial law based on “Christian morality”—including the abolition of abortion—if his Democratic opponent supports upholding Roe vs. Wade.

The abolition of abortion is all that matters to these people.

Our democracy is at grave risk, folks.  This is why educating people regarding the dangers and irrationality of belief in the supernatural is so very important.  A five day old embryo does not have a “soul”.  Fundamentalist religious beliefs are a danger to democracy!

 

 

End of post.

Where is Jesus’ Body? Christians Don’t Know!

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Below is a hypothetical conservation between myself and a typical conservative Christian.  I have included the most common Christian responses, received over the years from Christians when asked for the evidence for their supernatural belief system.  As you can see, their arguments are frequently circular:

 

Gary:  Where is Jesus’ resurrected body at this very moment?

Christian:  Jesus, in his resurrected body, is sitting at the right hand of God.

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Gary:  Where is God?

Christian:  God is in heaven.

Gary:  Where is heaven?

Christian:  Heaven exists outside of this universe, possibly within another dimension.

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Gary:  What evidence do you have that a place called “heaven” exists outside our universe or in another dimension?

Christian:  The Bible says so.

Gary:  How do you know that the Bible is correct on this issue?

Christian:  The Bible quotes Jesus.  Jesus told his disciples that he was going to heaven to prepare a place for them.

Gary:  How do you know that Jesus said this?

Christian:  The authors of the Gospels says so.

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Gary:  How do you know that Jesus was correctly quoted in the Bible?  Maybe this statement was a theological invention (fictional story) or even a legend which the authors of the Gospels sincerely believed to be true but was not?

Christian:  The Gospels were written by eyewitnesses.  Would eyewitnesses be willing to die for a lie?

Gary:  The claim that eyewitnesses wrote the Gospels is contested among the experts.  Therefore, your claim that Jesus, in his resurrected body, is in heaven at the right hand of God, is based on the highly disputed evidence regarding the authorship of the Gospels?  Is disputed evidence good evidence??

Christian:  I have extensively studied the Bible and historical records and I believe that the evidence that Jesus is the resurrected Son of God, Creator of the universe, is strong and even overwhelming.

Gary:  That may be your very sincere opinion, but your non-expert opinion on this issue doesn’t count for much among most modern, educated people.  Can you give us any better evidence than your opinion?

Christian:  I can refer you to many books written by highly educated scholars, historians, and theologians which all support the bodily resurrection of Jesus as a true, literal, historical event.

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Gary:  And I can refer you to numerous books by highly educated skeptics, some of whom are scholars, historians, and former theologians, who all doubt the resurrection of Jesus.  But what’s more, even if Jesus was seen alive again after his execution by some of his disciples, that in no way is evidence that he is currently alive and living in another dimension.  What evidence do you have that the bodily resurrected Jesus is alive and living in another dimension or outside the borders of the universe??

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Christian:  Well, if the evidence found in the Bible and the research of Christian scholars is not sufficient for you, the Holy Spirit is another source of evidence for the truth claims of the Bible.  The Holy Spirit testifies to each and every true believer that Jesus is resurrected and that He is alive and active in the world.

Gary:  Who is the Holy Spirit?

Christian:  The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity.

Gary:  Where is the Holy Spirit?

Christian:  The Holy Spirit is everywhere and He resides within each Christian.

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Gary:  But if the Holy Spirit is everywhere, then he resides within everyone, even within atheists like me.

Christian:  The Holy Spirit permeates all, but He does not take up residence within the soul of the unbeliever.

Gary:  So then…he is not everywhere, is he?

Christian:  He is everywhere, but He is not in your soul.  It may seem contradictory to you, but the ways of God are a mystery.  If you do not believe in Jesus as your Savior, the Holy Spirit, who testifies to the truth of the claims of the Bible, does not dwell within your soul.

Gary:  Wait.  Don’t Christians believe that Jesus “dwells within” their soul?

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Christian:  The Holy Spirit is Jesus’ replacement, his representative here on earth, since Jesus ascended to heaven at the Ascension.

Gary:  So Jesus does not dwell within you, only the Holy Spirit??

Christian:  Jesus and the Holy Spirit (and the Father) are one.

Gary:  So three invisible spirits or beings “dwell” inside Christians??  Sounds crowded!  If these three beings are one and the same, why bother using three different names?

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Christian:  They have different functions.  They are each God, with different functions, and all of them together are God.  Three distinct persons but one God.

Gary:  Hmm.  That makes no sense at all.  It sounds like something a clever but devious person would make up to pull the wool of the eyes of gullible people in order to manipulate them.  It sounds like a sophisticated-sounding con job:  sophisticated nonsense concocted for the purpose of bewildering and silencing gullible people…kind of like what the Emperor’s tailors did with their “invisible cloth”.  But, let’s get back to the resurrected body of Jesus.  Where is it?  Give me a straight answer.

Christian:  Like I said, the resurrected body of Jesus is in heaven, and heaven is in another dimension.  I can’t be any more specific than that.

Gary:  So let me get this straight:  You’re not sure where heaven is, but where ever it is, that is where we will find the body of Jesus.  Why don’t you just admit that you have no idea where the body of Jesus is!

Christian:  These are complex metaphysical concepts.  You do not understand them because you have not read enough books by scholars on the subject.  In addition, as an unbeliever you naturally resist the work of the Holy Spirit.  If you would be receptive to the Holy Spirit, and would believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then He would open your eyes to see the truth of what I am saying.  The evidence for the truth claims of the Bible is truly overwhelming, but sin prevents you from seeing it.

Gary:  So I must believe this fantastical story first, and then I will see that it is true???  That sounds like something a cult would say!

Christian:  Jesus said, “Blessed are those who believe without seeing.”

Gary:  Yea.  Blind faith.  That doesn’t sound smart to me.  I suggest we use our brains.  You don’t appear to know much about the concept of critical thinking, do you, Christian?  I suggest that you investigate this very important tool for evaluating truth claims, my friend.  It will make you a much more intelligent, discerning person and may very well change your life!  Check this out:

 

 

 

End of post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is the Evidence for Christianity “Overwhelming” if Historians Can’t Agree on the Facts?

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“Reasonable Conservative”, a Christian reader of this blog:

The evidence presented in the Bible is overwhelming, but primarily its focus on SIN, and its subsequent salvation through Jesus. Those that have received Him on HIS terms have discovered its truthfulness. Those that haven’t, haven’t. Sufficiency is in the eye of the receiver, and those who are FORSAKING their sins in honor and obedience to Jesus show the reality of all of His words and result. It is EVIDENCE that Jesus truly saves.

For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.
1 Peter 2:15 KJV

 

Gary:  The evidence may be “overwhelming” to you, RC, but evidence is not classified as “strong” or “weak” based on one person’s opinion. The fact is that most of the claims related to Jesus’, in particular his alleged resurrection, are disputed by the experts. Even the empty tomb is disputed. You are certainly welcome to believe that the evidence is overwhelming, but your opinion is not of much value to educated people. Educated people want to know the consensus of experts. And there is no consensus of experts regarding the alleged resurrection of Jesus (or his other alleged miraculous deeds). The resurrection of Jesus is a highly contentious historical claim. For instance, we have zero uncontested eyewitness testimony of anyone seeing and talking with a resurrected body. This is why you won’t find the resurrection of Jesus listed as an historical fact in public university world history textbooks.

The bodily resurrection of Jesus MAY have happened, but the evidence for this alleged event is no better than the evidence for the supernatural claims of many other religions. It is very weak.

 

 

 

End of post.

No, Evangelical Christian: You Cannot Have a Relationship with a Mute Invisible Being

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Evangelical Christian pastor:   I am heavily invested in a real, live relationship with a real, live Savior, something you have clearly never experienced, so you are incapable of fathoming such, any more than a man born blind could understand a sunset. Just because he cannot see one doesn’t negate the fact they exist. And he can regard all reports, ancient and modern, describing sunsets as superstitious nonsense and personal opinion but his lack of perception has no bearing whatsoever upon reality.

Gary:  Here is the truth, my Christian friend: You have no more evidence for the existence of your imaginary friend than does the emotionally disturbed child who has invented his imaginary friend.

Until you can provide better evidence than warm fuzzy feelings and personal perceptions of miracles (magic), no one should take your claim seriously that you have a “relationship” with the reanimated (resurrected) corpse of an executed first century peasant.

 

 

 

 

End of post.

Evidence Against Luke the Physician as the Author of Acts: Does God Overlook the Sins of Pagans? Paul in Acts Says Yes. Paul in Romans Says No.

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Paul preaching in the Areopagus

Bart Ehrman, on his blog:

Almost all of Paul’s evangelistic sermons mentioned in Acts are addressed to Jewish audiences. This itself should strike us as odd, given Paul’s own repeated claim that his mission was to the Gentiles. In any event, the most famous exception is his speech to a group of philosophers on the Areopagus in Athens (chapter 17). Here Paul explains that the Jewish God is in fact the God of all, pagan and Jew alike, even though the pagans have been ignorant of him. Paul’s understanding of pagan polytheism is reasonably clear here: pagans have simply not known that there is only One God, the creator of all, and can thus not be held accountable for failing to worship the one whom they have not known. That is to say, since they have been ignorant of the true God, rather than willfully disobedient to him, he has overlooked their false religions until now. With the coming of Jesus, though, he is calling all people to repent in preparation for the coming judgment (Acts 17:23-31).

A lot of people (naturally) assume that Paul really said what the Book of Acts says he said.  But did he?

This perspective contrasts sharply with the views about pagan idolatry that Paul sets forth in his own letters.  In the letter to the Romans, for example, Paul claims that pagan idolaters are *not* ignorant of the one true God, that all along they have known of his existence and power by seeing the things that he has made.  Here the worship of idols is said to be a willful act of disobedience, in which the pagans have rejected their knowledge of the one true God, the maker of all, choosing of their own free will to worship the creation rather than the creator.  As a result of their rejection of God, he has punished them in his wrath (Rom 1:18-32).

These passages appear to be at odds with one another on a number of points.  Do pagans know that there is only one God? (Acts: no; Romans: yes.)  Have they acted in ignorance or disobedience? (Acts: ignorance; Romans: disobedience.)  Does God overlook their error or punish it? (Acts: overlooks; Romans: punishes.)

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View of the Areopagus today

Some scholars think that the two passages can be reconciled by considering the different *audiences* that are being addressed: in Acts Paul is trying to win converts and so wouldn’t want to be overly offensive, whereas in Romans he is addressing the converted, so that he doesn’t mind saying what he really thinks.  This is, to be sure, a possibility, that Paul would say the opposite of what he believed in order to convert people, a white lie intended to bring about a greater good.  But another explanation is that Luke, rather than Paul, is the author of the speech on the Areopagus, just as he is the author of all the other speeches in his account, as we saw in Chapter 9.  This goes a long way toward explaining why so many of the speeches in Acts sound so similar to one another, regardless of who the speaker is — why, that is, Paul sounds like Peter and Peter sounds like Paul (compare the speeches of Acts 2 and 13, for example).  Rather than embodying *Paul’s* view of the pagan religions, then, the Areopagus speech may embody *Luke’s* view, representing the kind of evangelistic address that he imagines would have been appropriate to the occasion.

What then are we left with?  The book of Acts appears to contain a number of discrepancies with the writings of Paul himself, with respect both to the events of his life and the nature of his teachings.  If this is so, then it cannot be accepted uncritically as representing a historically accurate portrayal of Paul, any more than the Gospel of Luke can be accepted uncritically as representing a historically accurate portrayal of Jesus.

For the purposes of my current thread, what this probably means is that the “we-passages” were not written (nor was the rest of Acts, and therefore neither was Luke) by a traveling companion of Paul, who surely would have had a much better idea what Paul did, when, and where and *especially* a better idea of what Paul preached, believed, and stood for. Whoever the author of Luke was, it was probably not Luke the gentile physician who allegedly accompanied Paul on his travels.

 

 

 

End of post.

According to Luke, Paul was Accused of Instructing Jews to Abandon the Law. Why Did Paul Never Deny It?

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Paul and James

When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers and sisters received us warmly. 18 The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. 19 Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.

20 When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. 21 They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. 22 What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, 23 so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. 24 Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law. 25 As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.”

26 The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them.

–Acts 21

 

According to the author of Acts (who for convenience we will call “Luke”) there was a rumor going around that Paul was telling Jews that they could abandon the Law of Moses upon becoming members of the Jesus is the Messiah Movement (Christianity).  That is a very serious accusation to make against a devout Jew!

I’m curious.  If Paul was a devout, Torah-observant Jew, why did he never address this issue in any of his epistles in which he frequently discusses the relationship between the Gospel and the Law (or did Luke invent this story??).  Yes, his silence is not evidence of his guilt, but it certainly is an odd silence.

What is also odd is the failure of the author of Acts to mention a denial by Paul to this accusation against him.  The text only mentions that Paul obediently (and silently?) complied with James’ command to offer a sacrifice in the Temple to prove he was a good Jew.  Was this a sign that Paul was a devout, Torah-observant Jew who would never tell another Jew to violate the Law…or was this another case of Paul being…“all things to all people”?

How would we describe someone today who repeatedly changes his behavior and his positions on issues to please each particular crowd he addresses?

A con man??

 

 

 

 

End of post.