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Thread: Seven great lies of organized religion

  1. #1 Seven great lies of organized religion 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    If you look up the title of this thread on the internet you will find Perry Marshall's CoffeehouseTheology.com with a sign up email course in which he will supply what he calls the 7 lies of organized religion 1 per day, with a considerable amount of discussion. The reason he does it this way is obvious, because all though the first four fit the description, when he gets to the last three it becomes quite obvious that Perry is himself a spokesman for organized religion, Christianity in particular.

    Now since I am a Christian also, perhaps I cannot ultimately be anything other than a spokesman for Christianity myself, but since I do guess that I am more independent of the Christian establishment and its traditions, I do think that I can do a better job in any case. I also hope that this honesty up front will at least avoid carrying on a pretense that amounts to a farse.

    I shall leave my detailed criticisms of Perry's "7 lies" out of this post. They can be found at, http://www.astahost.com/seven-great-...on-t16216.html
    Instead I shall simply offer up my own revised list for discussion.

    Lie #1: You can appease God by obeying His commandments and making the proper sacrifices in payment for your transgressions, in order to gain His acceptance and escape the consequences of your misdeeds.

    Lie #2: 'God is huge, distant and unapproachable demanding worship and expecting that men devote themselves utterly to the greater glory of God.'

    Lie #3: 'The truth (the answer to all the important questions) is something that we can give you.'

    Lie #4 'Women are spiritually inferior and must bow to the authority of men.'

    Lie #5 'God is not a God of confusion.'

    Lie #6: 'Holy Scripture interprets itself.'

    Lie #7: 'Everything happens according to some plan.'


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    My list:
    Lie #1: Prayer works.
    Lie #2: God is good to his 'children'.
    Lie #3: The <insert holy book here> is immaculate.
    Lie #4: God is all-merciful.
    Lie #5: God is omnipotent.
    Lie #6: "Religious science". For example Christian Science
    Lie #7: Success comes after accepting <their> God.


    Whence comes this logic: no evidence = false?

    http://www.atheistthinktank.net/thinktank/index.php

    Theists welcome.
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    mitchellmckain, what does 'Holy Scripture interprets itself.' mean ?
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    mitchellmckain, what does 'Holy Scripture interprets itself.' mean ?
    Sounds nuts doesn't it? Yet look at this definition of the Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura found in Wikipedia:

    Sola scriptura (Latin ablative, "by scripture alone") is the assertion that the Bible as God's written word is self-authenticating, clear (perspicuous) to the rational reader, its own interpreter ("Scripture interprets Scripture"), and sufficient of itself to be the final authority of Christian doctrine.

    Sola scriptura was a foundational doctrinal principle of the Protestant Reformation held by the reformer Martin Luther and is a definitive principle of Protestants today (see Five solas)

    Sola scriptura may be contrasted with Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox teaching, in which the Bible must be interpreted by church teaching, by considering the Bible in the context of Sacred Tradition.
    Basically what they are trying to claim is that the message of Scripture does not depend on how we interpret it, for the all the principles by which it must be interpreted can be found in Scripture itself.

    This is nonsense of course, for although there are passage in scripture that show how Jesus, Paul or someone else interpreted scripture, it is impossible for any text to interpret itself completely.

    The effect is that Protestants hide from themselves the effect that their own tradition has on the way that they interpret scripture. The Catholics are certainly more honest since they recognize the role of their church organization and the early church leaders in interpreting scripture.

    However since I am also a Protestant and do not recognize the authority of the Catholic church to interpret scripture for me, I hold to a different definition of Sola Scriptura: The Bible is the only authority given into the hands of men for the determination of the truth in regards to God, His desire of mankind, and our relationship to Him. But no human being's interpretation of the Bible has any more authority than any other.

    Of course if you are not a Christian you may not recognize the Bible as having any authority whatsoever.
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Of course if you are not a Christian you may not recognize the Bible as having any authority whatsoever.
    i didn't want to be rude by stating the obvious ...
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  7. #6 Re: Seven great lies of organized religion 
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain

    Lie #1: You can appease God by obeying His commandments and making the proper sacrifices in payment for your transgressions, in order to gain His acceptance and escape the consequences of your misdeeds.
    true

    god can only be appeased by pure loving devotional sentiments bereft of any tinge for gain or liberation

    BG 11.54: My dear Arjuna, only by undivided devotional service can I be understood as I am, standing before you, and can thus be seen directly. Only in this way can you enter into the mysteries of My understanding.

    Lie #2: 'God is huge, distant and unapproachable demanding worship and expecting that men devote themselves utterly to the greater glory of God.'
    true

    - god is not "huge distant and unapproachable" as indicated above by quote
    Lie #3: 'The truth (the answer to all the important questions) is something that we can give you.'
    true

    - only god can give one perfect knowledge - others can merely assist in connecting to god through religion

    BG 15.15: I am seated in everyone's heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas, I am to be known. Indeed, I am the compiler of Vedānta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.

    Lie #4 'Women are spiritually inferior and must bow to the authority of men.'
    true

    - god makes himself equally available to anyone, regardless of caste, colour or creed - the only prerequisite is that they take shelter of him (teh same prerequisite for men or anyone else)

    BG 9.32: O son of Pṛthā, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth — women, vaiśyas [merchants] and śūdras [workers] — can attain the supreme destination.



    Lie #5 'God is not a God of confusion.'

    false

    (gee and we were going so well there ....)

    obviously its humans that are confused - it would be interesting to hear of the premises that are called on to state that god is confused

    Lie #6: 'Holy Scripture interprets itself.'




    I got no idea what this is supposed to mean

    -edit - just read your explanation on what it means - scripture can theoretically illuminate anyone on the strength of its own potency, but practically you see that it requires some practitioner (or some person more spiritually advanced than oneself) to present the conclusions of scripture to another - understandably the protestants had a particular issue with this principle (because in a particular time place and circumstance they had the experience that it wasn't being properly applied) ... however it remains that even protestants work with the understanding of the benefits of having scripture in the association of other more elevated practitioners (otherwise what would be the value of the wiki excerpt you offered, as opposed to the green grocer down the road who is also a protestant and has an opinion to go with it?)


    Lie #7: 'Everything happens according to some plan.'
    false

    quite simply because I don't think we would be so bold as to say that we understand the plans of everything given our poor fund of knowledge


    On the whole though, quite an introspective analysis on the nature of proper religious principles distinct from improper ones[/quote]
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  8. #7 Re: Seven great lies of organized religion 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    punarmusiko,

    You have to understand the context of some of these and particularly how they are used in organized religion.

    Quote Originally Posted by punarmusiko
    Lie #5 'God is not a God of confusion.'
    false

    (gee and we were going so well there ....)

    obviously its humans that are confused - it would be interesting to hear of the premises that are called on to state that god is confused
    The words here are not that, "God is confused". The point is that these words, "God is not a God of confusion" are used in organized religion to say that God could only endorse one religion, one denomination, and one understanding of the truth. It is used to say that human diversity is not according to God's will and that all should be united under the correct authority handed down by God. So the Catholics say that they are the only true church and everyone should follow them. So the Mormons say that they are the only true church and their scriptures resolves the contradictions or lack of clarity they see in the Bible.

    But all of this is a lie. God is a creator of confusion. You don't believe me? Read the Bible. It is true. Read Genesis chapter 11. God has always been a creator of incredible diversity. Look at the natural world. And in Genesis chapter 11 we see that God also worked to create diversity in human language and culture as well. The point is that this lie is used as a pretext to advocate the unity of mankind through a uniformity of thought, but that is not God's way and this promises no hope for the future. The unity of mankind is to be found in the tolerance and appreciation of human diversity - it is to be found when we can transcend our differences with love and not by making everyone carbon copies of ourselves.



    Quote Originally Posted by punarmusiko
    Lie #6: 'Holy Scripture interprets itself.'


    I got no idea what this is supposed to mean

    -edit - just read your explanation on what it means - scripture can theoretically illuminate anyone on the strength of its own potency, but practically you see that it requires some practitioner (or some person more spiritually advanced than oneself) to present the conclusions of scripture to another - understandably the protestants had a particular issue with this principle (because in a particular time place and circumstance they had the experience that it wasn't being properly applied) ... however it remains that even protestants work with the understanding of the benefits of having scripture in the association of other more elevated practitioners (otherwise what would be the value of the wiki excerpt you offered, as opposed to the green grocer down the road who is also a protestant and has an opinion to go with it?)
    No this is not correct. I NOT am saying that we require anyone to interpret scripture for us. I repudiate this idea. The point is that this lie #6 is used to elevate one particular human interpretation as more authoritative than the interpretation by other people because they claim (by pure imagination) that their interpretation comes from scripture itself.

    You know often a human author is asked if he/she meant such and such by something they said in one of their books, and I think they often want respond by saying, "If that is what I meant then that is what I would have said." Authors do not always want to be clear, because sometimes they want the reader to think many different things at the same time. And I think this applies in case of scripture to a far greater degree. If scripture is the word of God, then surely it says what God means it to say and God does not need anyone to tell us what it means.

    To put it another way, let me ask you this, is scripture flawed or is God incapable of seeing how people would interpret scripture in different ways? Or is it possible that scripture says exactly what God wishes to say and that a diversity of understandings is EXACTLY what God desires?



    Quote Originally Posted by punarmusiko
    Lie #7: 'Everything happens according to some plan.'
    false

    quite simply because I don't think we would be so bold as to say that we understand the plans of everything given our poor fund of knowledge

    On the whole though, quite an introspective analysis on the nature of proper religious principles distinct from improper ones
    Some serial killers think of themselves as the hand of God, doing God's work to bring God's blessing and love to their victims. Perhaps you agree with them, but I do not, because I repudiate the idea that what they do is according to the plan of God. I repudiate the idea that God is the author of both good and evil. It is man who is the author of evil not God. I repudiate the idea that evil is necessary for good or that like light and darkness, evil and goodness cannot exist without each other. God certainly brings goodness out of evil and hope out of despair. But to think that all evil happens according to God's plan for some greater good is a lie.

    The possibility of evil is quite another matter, for being inherent in the nature of life and free will, the possibility of evil is indeed necessary for a greater good, and this is a fact that every parent must face when they have children. They have every hope and expectation that their children will do good things in the world. But all the evil people in the world were children at one time, so the possibility of evil always exists in the creation of new life.


    P.S. I am not a student of the BG. I do not endorse or recognize it as scripture. It does not speak to me and I do not hear the voice of God in its words. Being ignorant of it I say nothing about it whatsoever.
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  9. #8 Re: Seven great lies of organized religion 
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    punarmusiko,

    You have to understand the context of some of these and particularly how they are used in organized religion.

    Quote Originally Posted by punarmusiko
    Lie #5 'God is not a God of confusion.'
    false

    (gee and we were going so well there ....)

    obviously its humans that are confused - it would be interesting to hear of the premises that are called on to state that god is confused
    The words here are not that, "God is confused". The point is that these words, "God is not a God of confusion" are used in organized religion to say that God could only endorse one religion, one denomination, and one understanding of the truth. It is used to say that human diversity is not according to God's will and that all should be united under the correct authority handed down by God. So the Catholics say that they are the only true church and everyone should follow them. So the Mormons say that they are the only true church and their scriptures resolves the contradictions or lack of clarity they see in the Bible.
    there is the alternative notion that the material world is saturated to a greater or lesser extent with ignorance (of god's singular aspect) and that varieties of religious practices represent differing degrees of ignorance (just like newtons theories of moving through time and space is more or less okay, however einsteins were more refined)
    But all of this is a lie. God is a creator of confusion. You don't believe me? Read the Bible. It is true. Read Genesis chapter 11. God has always been a creator of incredible diversity.
    diversity is not a problem when it is not aligned in singular desire - for instance a country with a dozen states runs into chaos not because it has a dozen states but when it has a dozen states that are not socially/economically/politically aligned under a singular authority (ie a president)

    Look at the natural world. And in Genesis chapter 11 we see that God also worked to create diversity in human language and culture as well. The point is that this lie is used as a pretext to advocate the unity of mankind through a uniformity of thought, but that is not God's way and this promises no hope for the future. The unity of mankind is to be found in the tolerance and appreciation of human diversity - it is to be found when we can transcend our differences with love and not by making everyone carbon copies of ourselves.
    or alternatively it is not "our way" (ie the way of life predominant for the materially conditioned soul)


    Quote Originally Posted by punarmusiko
    Lie #6: 'Holy Scripture interprets itself.'


    I got no idea what this is supposed to mean

    -edit - just read your explanation on what it means - scripture can theoretically illuminate anyone on the strength of its own potency, but practically you see that it requires some practitioner (or some person more spiritually advanced than oneself) to present the conclusions of scripture to another - understandably the protestants had a particular issue with this principle (because in a particular time place and circumstance they had the experience that it wasn't being properly applied) ... however it remains that even protestants work with the understanding of the benefits of having scripture in the association of other more elevated practitioners (otherwise what would be the value of the wiki excerpt you offered, as opposed to the green grocer down the road who is also a protestant and has an opinion to go with it?)
    No this is not correct. I NOT am saying that we require anyone to interpret scripture for us. I repudiate this idea. The point is that this lie #6 is used to elevate one particular human interpretation as more authoritative than the interpretation by other people because they claim (by pure imagination) that their interpretation comes from scripture itself.

    You know often a human author is asked if he/she meant such and such by something they said in one of their books, and I think they often want respond by saying, "If that is what I meant then that is what I would have said." Authors do not always want to be clear, because sometimes they want the reader to think many different things at the same time. And I think this applies in case of scripture to a far greater degree. If scripture is the word of God, then surely it says what God means it to say and God does not need anyone to tell us what it means.

    To put it another way, let me ask you this, is scripture flawed or is God incapable of seeing how people would interpret scripture in different ways? Or is it possible that scripture says exactly what God wishes to say and that a diversity of understandings is EXACTLY what God desires?
    god gives instruction through scripture - scripture can be subject to human misunderstanding - usually through the corruption of language - therefore it is seen that it is the eternal duty of god to re-establish religious principles in a world that "thinks it knows better"

    BG 4.8 To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, millennium after millennium.

    Obviously the most qualified saintly person is one who can speak (and act) according to scripture (much like the most qualified scientist is one who can speak and act according to established scientific theories) - the tendency, both in science and religion however, is for persons to bring the established body of knowledge down to their present level of existence for the sake of personal gain - that says something more about human nature rather than the fields of knowledge that they appear in


    Quote Originally Posted by punarmusiko
    Lie #7: 'Everything happens according to some plan.'
    false

    quite simply because I don't think we would be so bold as to say that we understand the plans of everything given our poor fund of knowledge

    On the whole though, quite an introspective analysis on the nature of proper religious principles distinct from improper ones
    Some serial killers think of themselves as the hand of God, doing God's work to bring God's blessing and love to their victims. Perhaps you agree with them, but I do not, because I repudiate the idea that what they do is according to the plan of God. I repudiate the idea that God is the author of both good and evil. It is man who is the author of evil not God. I repudiate the idea that evil is necessary for good or that like light and darkness, evil and goodness cannot exist without each other. God certainly brings goodness out of evil and hope out of despair. But to think that all evil happens according to God's plan for some greater good is a lie.

    The possibility of evil is quite another matter, for being inherent in the nature of life and free will, the possibility of evil is indeed necessary for a greater good, and this is a fact that every parent must face when they have children. They have every hope and expectation that their children will do good things in the world. But all the evil people in the world were children at one time, so the possibility of evil always exists in the creation of new life.
    to make this statement with confidence requires omniscience


    P.S. I am not a student of the BG. I do not endorse or recognize it as scripture. It does not speak to me and I do not hear the voice of God in its words. Being ignorant of it I say nothing about it whatsoever.
    its the standard for theistic discussion that one's statements should be backed up by convincing scriptural statements - otherwise one runs the risk of applying the same general principle of serial killers who say "it was god's plan"[/quote]
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  10. #9  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    punarmusiko,

    Just to let you know, I have read your post, but don't really have anything to say in response that would not just be a repetion. As I perceive it, you have not really address the points raised by my last post so I believe we are talking past each other rather than communicating to any significant degree.

    One can always say about any issue of theology that "only God knows". This is a pointless discussion stopper. The point of rational theology as I see it, is to examine the premises that makes different people come to different conclusions. Everone one is free to choose which premises they are willing to accept as a basis for rational theism, and proof has very little to do with theology, science or life in general.

    Good luck on your own journey of discovery.

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    Not sure anyone has captured what "scripture interprets scripture" means.

    For example, most often when Jesus refers to himself, He calls himself, "The Son of Man." One can only determine what He meant by that term by studying how it is used in the Bible. You will not find the significance of that term other than in the Bible or Christian writings attempting to explain it in relation to the Bible.

    In the same way, one would not pick up one's sociology text book to explain the Pythagoreum Theory. Nor would one look in a botany book to learn about details of the American Revolution.

    Much of the Bible is understood through plain language meanings. But some terms in the Bible have their own internal significance. Almost any school of study has its own terms of significance which have a special significance to that school of study. The term "norm" has slightly different significances to sociologists and psychologists and statisticians.

    If you want to know what it means in sociology, you go to a sociologist or a sociology text book. If you want to know what a special term of the Bible means, you go to a person of Judo-Christian faith or the textbook referred to as the Bible.
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  12. #11  
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    greetings daytonturner,

    I have missed your contributions to this forum for some time. And in this last post you have made my wait worthwhile.

    When I first read the Wikipedia explanation of Sola Scriptura,
    Quote Originally Posted by Wikipedia
    Sola scriptura (Latin ablative, "by scripture alone") is the assertion that the Bible as God's written word is self-authenticating, clear (perspicuous) to the rational reader, its own interpreter ("Scripture interprets Scripture"), and sufficient of itself to be the final authority of Christian doctrine.
    I found myself disagreeing with most of it, but I fear that I may have taken some things the wrong way. I thought the idea of the Bible being self authenticating absurd when considering the fact that many read it with out seeing any value or truth in it. But now I realize that the real point here is that there is no need of authentication by any human authority, and it is by its own words and the work of God in us that the we come to recognize that the Bible has authority. Ultimately all real authority comes from those over whom the authority is exercised and so the Bible has authority over Christian thinking because Christians give the Bible that authority. So what the descriptor "self-authenticating" is really getting at is what motivates the Christian to give the Bible such authority over us and the answer is not some divinely appointed church authority but God alone in the words he has written and in the work of Grace in our lives.

    Of all of them I thought this idea of scripture interpreting itself was the worst for I perceive in it the worst abuses. I reaffirm what I said about the way Protestants use it to hide the influence of tradition in how they understand scripture. I think it is used to replace the text with a human interpretation. And yet from daytonturner's post I realize that I have perhaps missed what was originally meant, which is again that there is no need for any divinely appointed interpreter, to interpret the text we have all that we need in the text itself and the personal relationship that we have with our Lord Jesus.

    I think we can in fact summarize it all in a careful consideration of the word "sufficient", which is another descriptor which I objected to and misunderstood. This was meant to only to exclude things of the human world and never to claim that the Bible was sufficient without the work of God. The work of God is everything and the Bible is but a tool in His hands for His work. People can use the Bible for all sorts of perversity and evil. The Bible only truly fulfills its task when God Himself makes use of it.
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    Thank you, Mitchell, for your kind words.

    Sometimes I just get totally frustrated at some of the posts here such that I have to take a vacation.

    Mostly it is frustrating when people who are not Christians expound on Christian concepts about which they have little or no knowledge. (Sort of like people commenting on math which they know very little about. LOL.) They then seem to think they have found some fantastic new insight in their flawed misunderstandings.

    Another concept which I find misunderstood and rejected by both atheists and Christians is the (Calvinist?) idea of total depravity. This could easily have been on the list of seven perceived lies.

    The popular misunderstanding of this concept is that it means men are utterly, 100 per cent, totally corrupt and cannot under any circumstances accomplish anything good. Then we look around and see all sorts of people doing good deeds and tremendous acts of kindness and self sacrifice and determine the concept of total depravity is baloney.

    Total depravity merely means that no part of the person is immune from sin – body, mind, soul and heart are all impacted. It has nothing to do directly with the merits of one’s actions as being good or bad.

    This is the reason the Bible says we are all sinners – not because we are dirty, rotten, immoral, perverted beings, but because we cannot escape the influence of sin. While we can do good deeds and good works (which the Bible insists we should), even the very best of our good works are not ever quite the result of pure and righteous and holy motivations.

    So the concept of total depravity does not mean that humankind are the instigators of evil, but rather, that we are the victims of an evil which we can neither escape nor avoid.
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    Yes, even though I have rejected all 5 points of Calvinism, I sometimes confuse people because I do like to use this term, "total depravity" for I see in this term the way we make the truth inaccessible by the way we lie to ourselves. I certainly do not accept the idea that human beings are incapable of any good thought or any good action without the intervention of God. But my usual explanation is that this is because I believe only in the ultimate depravity of man and NOT the universal depravity of man. For I believe that we are all born innocent and that, however inevitable it may be, sin is something we choose, but the consequence is the creation of habits of thought and action which relentlessly erodes our free will and our potential for good.

    Ok so that may not jibe with your reference to the Biblical passage that all have sinned and no one is righteous (like Rom 3:10-12), but without clarification, it turns the whole idea of what sin is all about upside down and backwards to make sin something we inherit in our blood rather than something which we are personally responsible for. And so let me point you to the following passage.

    1John 1:8-10 "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us...If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us."

    I would say that this is more precise, because by the time we can make declaration of whether we have sinned or not, by the time we have learned to speak, it is inevitable that we have sinned. The question concerning why this is the case is an interesting question, but one which I shall leave for another post.

    But by saying that man is not universally totally depraved, I am also saying that people are not all the same. Some have sinned greatly and some have hardly sinned at all. What is the same in us all is where following our hearts will eventually lead us because sin is a degenerative disease that breaks down our will and integrity bit by bit until we all end up in the same place. And this is why we ALL need the help of God without exception.
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    OK, so what about the other 45 or 50 points of Calvinism???!!! (LOL)

    I understand your objection to the idea of total depravity, but I think it is based on the misconception which I identified – that total depravity reflects on the character of man, which it does not. It describes the effect of sin on man –that no part of man is immune from sin.

    I also was repulsed by the idea that man is totally depraved in character and I think that is what most people (including most Calvinists) think it means – that it means men are dirty rotten scoundrels incapable of doing good even when they do good. I currently attend an allegedly Calvinist church, but I can tell very few people who attend there have much (if any) understanding of what Calvinism actually teaches.

    Most of them would probably give intellectual ascent to the points of Calvinism while in practicality rejecting almost every aspect of Calvinism except the idea of “eternal security” where they erroneously find a comfort which is not really afforded by that concept. Eternal security is not an after-the-fact overlooking of sin by God, but rather a before-the-fact incentive to live better lives.

    I think the sad part of this is that if we, as Christians, do not really understand our beliefs, how can we hope to convey them to people who are inclined to not want to believe and who deftly use the confusions and misunderstandings of believers as the basis of their non-belief?

    Even those Christians who have a pretty good self-understanding of what they believe have difficulty in conveying their beliefs because they are so broad and pervasive as to defy short, simple explanations. It just takes too long and too many words to get into the depths and all the nooks and crannies of any system of theology.

    Perhaps that is why there are entire books attempting to explain just one of any of five main points of Calvinism.
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    Well I can understand that if one felt some loyalty to Calvinism in some way, one might understand in a different light. I have stated my position with some clarity so I think you can draw your own conclusions concerning where I stand with regards to Calvinism as you see it. But I can only go by those desciptions of Calvism that I have seen.

    Lets look for example at http://www.calvinistcorner.com/tulip.htm
    and at http://www.bible.ca/calvinism.htm

    Total depravity: I am hard pressed to find a single statement that I agree with because I do not believe in the universal depravity of man. I do not think that man's basic inability is really about sin at all, but that it is due to the fact that we were never meant to live our lives without the guidance of God. This same inability was in Adam before he sinned.

    Unconditional Election: My problem with this one is the identification of election with salvation. I can agree that both election and salvation are unconditional. God elects people for roles in his providential work including the call to ministry and this is unconditional for this has more to do with God working in us than any ability of ours. But salvation is a different matter altogether. Salvation is unconditional because God's love is unconditional and the salvation of all is His desire. But the direct logical consequence of this must be that God work of salvation is made for everyone equally. God elects people for roles in His providential work but this is NOT the same as salvation. Sometimes those He elects are not saved at all and I believe that John the Baptist is a good example of this.

    Limited atonement: This is the crux of the matter, and it should be clear by now that my rejection of this is without hesitation. "Unconditional" and "limited" applied to salvation together equals arbitrary salvation and along with all the arbitrary gods of the Greeks and Romans I reject such a God utterly.

    Irresistable Grace: This is a key part of my rejection of Calvinism. I believe that, by divine intervention, God liberates our free will in an act of Grace and then requires us to accept His intervention in our lives. God's first intervention of Grace to liberate our free will is unconditional but God requires accent. He has no desire for controlling us like puppets on a string but for us to be responsible for ourselves starting with one small step in accepting His gift of salvation.

    Perseverence of the Saints: I came closest to accepting this one and in fact thought it correct for a while. The logic of the arguements for this seem sound but in the end I concluded that the morality and pragmatism of it is flawed. It is blasphemous. It is the essence of the proper fear of God that we can never take our salvation for granted. God is beyond our ability to manipulate or bind with contracts or promises. Judgement remains His perogative alone ALWAYS and we must tremble before Him, loving Him in spite of the fact that He can always spit us out. Salvation is a matter of putting our faith in Him and leaving our fate in His hands, surrendering ourself to His will utterly without condition or expectation.
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    I understand your rejection of Calvinism, Mitchell. I, too, use to be absolutely repulsed by these concepts. However, one paragraph is hardly sufficient to either adequately describe or refute the 5 main points.

    I am not sure that a site which attempts to refute anything is a good source to seek out a rational explanation of that thing. Such a source will by nature be prone to misstate and misrepresent the thing it is attempting to refute. Of course, a site which is attempting to promote that same idea may gloss over some of the criticisms.

    Still, I would never expect to find a reasonable explanation of Calvinism on an Arminian web site or atheistic web site. Nor would I expect a Calvinist web site to paint an accurate picture of Arminianism.

    My experience, having attended both Arminian and Calvinist churches is this: No one is better able to misrepresent Arminianism than Calvinists and no one is better at misrepresenting Calvinism than Arminians. Also, it seems to me that few people who claim to subscribe to either of these basic doctrines actually does so. Most of us tend to be Calminians or Arminalvists, adopting various aspects of one or the other of these basic systems of belief, mixing and matching to suit our own pleasure.

    I think the Calvinist point that use to tick me off the most was the doctrine of the elect. I had this picture of God sitting up in heaven pulling petals off a daisy with our names on the petals and saying, “One for me, one for Satan; two for me, one for Satan, one for me, three for Satan,” and so on through a whole bouquet of daisies. Then Jesus brings Him another bouquet and the process starts over for a new generation of man. I still struggle with this concept because no one has come up with any kind of reasonable explanation of the basis of God’s election – that is why and how does He pick this one and reject that one. (I surely would not have picked me!)

    However, if one accepts this (Luther’s basis of the reformation) idea that salvation is the work of God’s grace and that only, then only God has the authority or the right to decide who is saved and who is not saved. If man has any role in salvation, it ceases to be a work of God’s grace. It is from that basic premise that Calvinism develops into a system of theology.

    While both Arminians and Calvinists seem to rely heavily on Paul’s claim in Ephesians 2:8-9 (For by grace are ye saved through faith: It is the gift of God: Not of works, let any man should boast.), I think Calvinism does a better job of making the practical application. Even so, most Calvinist churches will still issue an invitation for you to accept Christ, an impossible feat, since it is God who chooses the person and performs all the work of salvation.

    For the most part, it seems to me, a person’s personal theology will depend greatly on where that person starts and what attributes of God he most strongly emphasizes. Calvinism, it seems to me, emphasizes the absolute sovereignty of God while Arminianism has a tendency to downplay sovereignty.

    One’s salvation, in my opinion, is not dependent upon which school of theology he subscribes to.
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    But I am not Arminian either. On some issues I am more Calvinist than Arminian and on other issues Arminianism is too close to Calvinism from my perspective.

    Lets look at a few descriptions of Arminianism.

    http://www.the-highway.com/compare.html

    1. Free Will or human ability: But I do not agree that the sinner has free will, because sin destroys free will and he often requires the intervention of God to enable him to freely accept the gift of salvation of his own free will. I agree with Calvinism that faith is not something that contributes to salvation but whether it is a gift of God or something we find in ourselves, its primary role is a means to knowledge of our salvation, it is the only assurance we can have.

    2. Conditional Election: Absolutely not. This is a case where I reject both Arminian and Calvinist positions completely. I reject the equivalence of election with salvation. Election is unconditional but election is not salvation. I reject the idea of God's foreknowledge of what human beings will choose and am basically an open theist on this issue. Salvation is offered unconditionally to all, but we are made free to accept it or to reject it.

    3. Universal Redemption or General Atonement: Ok on this one I agree with Arminianism. Christ opened up the path of salvation and it is for us to choose whether to follow it or not. But it is not a matter of pardon or being conditional upon belief. It is merely a matter of accepting or rejecting God's interference in our lives.

    4. The Holy Spirit can be resited: Absolutely not. What God wills is most certainly irresistable and the question therefore is, what is it that God wills. What God wills is for us to declare ourselves and to give Him permission to do what need to be done, surrendering our will and our autonomous guidance of our own lives to His interference according to what God thinks is best. But although this is necessary, God's ultimate goal is to teach us to be responsible and to cultivate within us a will to righteousness of our own.

    5. Falling from grace: This is a difficult one. For I believe that this is an answer to an improper and blasphemous question. It is not proper to think either that salvation cannot be lost, or that salvation can be lost. Both are looking to manipulate God for our own purpose when we should simply have surrendered all of this to God once and for all. God's will shall be done, the question is only whether you rejoice in this or not?
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    Having read The Highway explanations of those topics, I have to suggest that I have questions as to whether they adequately represent the positions of those two schools on those topics. I also note, there are no scriptural justifications or refutations included.

    As I suggested before, it is very difficult to take such topics and reduce them to the simplicity required in a one (even long) paragraph.

    I suspect it might be sort of similar to attempting to reduce the Theories of Relativity to one paragraph each. While what one said in one paragraph might represent which ever theory it was describing, it would hardly provide the information necessary to see consistencies or incongruities.

    I can say that when I first became a Christian I was adamantly Arminian. As time went along I became uncomforable with some aspects of Arminianism and began to find some sense in some Calvinist positions, becoming something of an Arminalvist. As time as moved on, I have determined that much of Calvinism agrees with scripture more than Arminianism, taking me more to a position of Calminianism. Slowly, the Arminian positions are being eroded away.
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  20. #19  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    Well since you have avoided actually discussing anything in your last post, I must go to your previous post to continue the discussion.

    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    I understand your rejection of Calvinism, Mitchell. I, too, use to be absolutely repulsed by these concepts. However, one paragraph is hardly sufficient to either adequately describe or refute the 5 main points.
    So is a refusal to discuss it?


    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    I am not sure that a site which attempts to refute anything is a good source to seek out a rational explanation of that thing. Such a source will by nature be prone to misstate and misrepresent the thing it is attempting to refute. Of course, a site which is attempting to promote that same idea may gloss over some of the criticisms.

    Still, I would never expect to find a reasonable explanation of Calvinism on an Arminian web site or atheistic web site. Nor would I expect a Calvinist web site to paint an accurate picture of Arminianism.
    So are you saying that this kind of site is what I found? All I did was do a search on the topic, that is all. If you have a suggestion then make it. Vague references to better explanation somewhere is not helpful. Either come up with a reference yourself or (better yet) explain it yourself, or we are left with the conclusion that you do not wish to pursue the discussion.


    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    My experience, having attended both Arminian and Calvinist churches is this: No one is better able to misrepresent Arminianism than Calvinists and no one is better at misrepresenting Calvinism than Arminians. Also, it seems to me that few people who claim to subscribe to either of these basic doctrines actually does so. Most of us tend to be Calminians or Arminalvists, adopting various aspects of one or the other of these basic systems of belief, mixing and matching to suit our own pleasure.
    Ok so I am some kind of open theist Calminian (though I doubt I shall adopt such an identification), but what we call it is hardly important. I have given the details of where I stand. Are you simply undecided on these issues at this point?


    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    I think the Calvinist point that use to tick me off the most was the doctrine of the elect. I had this picture of God sitting up in heaven pulling petals off a daisy with our names on the petals and saying, "One for me, one for Satan; two for me, one for Satan, one for me, three for Satan," and so on through a whole bouquet of daisies. Then Jesus brings Him another bouquet and the process starts over for a new generation of man. I still struggle with this concept because no one has come up with any kind of reasonable explanation of the basis of God’s election - that is why and how does He pick this one and reject that one. (I surely would not have picked me!)
    Yes I even read something by Augustine to the effect that salvation consisted of God picking replacements for the angels which had fallen. That you had such an image is no coincidence. It is the logical conclusion of what the Calvinists believe. Unconditional + limited + irresistable = arbitrary. If you look for a basis of God's election then you are throwing out the "unconditional" part. Unconditional means that it has nothing to do with what kind of person we are or what we have done. Either God loves all of us unconditionally or He does not. So which do you say? Yes or no?

    If not, then with the unconditional and limited thrown into the equation you have a God that arbitrarily loves some of us and hates others. Any person whether they call themselves God or not, who arbitrarily decides to hate people is not a person I can look up to or have any regard for. This is a conception of God that was created by putting knowledge and power above everthing else. I do not and will not worship a God of knowledge and power. I will not capitulate to a terrorist God just because He is holding a cosmic gun of judgement to my head. Instead I will give my heart and soul to a God of love and goodness, seeking nothing in return. And so I worship a God of goodness and love who does not abitrarily decide to hate people. I see salvation as unconditional because I worship a God who unconditionally loves all human beings. And that means that salvation is offered to ALL, but not against our will. It is the only possible conclusion if you worship a God of love and goodness, that if some are not saved, the fault lies not with a perfect God but with sinful men.

    Ok so the Calvinist and Augustinian argues that any sinful human being given such a choice would invariably choose to reject salvation. This I can understand. I can 100% appreciate the idea that if salvation depended in any part upon sinful human beings then it would fail. But I do not find this sufficient cause for embracing the terrorist God of knowledge and power. I have therefore come up with a different solution. My God of love and goodness requires us to choose and by an act of intervention and Grace frees us momentarily from sin to make that choice. It is like being returned to the state of Adam, to make his choice all over again, except that unlike Adam we do not make that choice in ignorace, but with personal knowledge of what sin is like. Sin enslaves us, making our will helpless to even desire anything different, BUT that doesn't mean that we are happy with the life that it gives us. Some take to the delights of sin with relish, enjoying the pain and suffering they cause to others, while others are appalled by what sin makes them do. And so it is, that when God liberates us from our sin to give us a choice, some choose life (even though they must be good) and others choose sin (even though they must die).


    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    However, if one accepts this (Luther’s basis of the reformation) idea that salvation is the work of God’s grace and that only, then only God has the authority or the right to decide who is saved and who is not saved. If man has any role in salvation, it ceases to be a work of God’s grace. It is from that basic premise that Calvinism develops into a system of theology.
    Is surgery a cooperative work between patient and surgeon, just because the patient must give consent? During surgery, the patient is usually unconscious and so obviously the answer is no. What we have is the case where the doctor must revive the patient to the point where the patient can give that consent, but the saving work of surgery is all the work of the surgeon, not the patient. It seems a little absurd to talk about the patient boasting of the fact that he gave the surgeon his consent to save his life.

    By our consent the surgeon, using general anesthetic to "turn out lights", takes our lives into his capable hands. Likewise, given our consent to fulfill the requirement of our free will, God will take whatever control is needed, putting our eternal life in His capable hands. We call this "justification". The born again Christian says that He is "saved" because he is now in the hands of God. But that is where the similarity to surgery begins to end, because we must be conscious during the operation and it continues for a long long time. The operation is what we call "sanctification". We must be conscious because salvation is about a change of character from evil, irresponsible weakness and unlove to that of goodness, responsibility, strenth of character and love. While we are helpless to change ourselves and respond correctly, God is the one who knows how to bring out the required response. How fast we change does depend on our response, but bringing out that response is the work of God, and God is perstistent and does not give up in His work. Even though the change is in us and the response is ours, it is important to understand that this operation is a work of God, for it will not do for the patient to get up in the middle of the operation and proclaim that he is healthy just because he already gave his consent or because half of the work is done. And so it is necessary for us to surrender ourself to the will of God, indefinitely.


    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    For the most part, it seems to me, a person’s personal theology will depend greatly on where that person starts and what attributes of God he most strongly emphasizes. Calvinism, it seems to me, emphasizes the absolute sovereignty of God while Arminianism has a tendency to downplay sovereignty.
    It also depends on their personal experience of salvation, because I have heard testimony of it. I think some people (like Augustine) have a greater experience of God dragging them against their will, and this is a common experience of those who have indulged rather heavily in sin. No they did not choose to get dragged out of the middle of their sin to be confronted with Jesus on the cross, and I have no doubt that they then experienced God taking control of their life from then afterwards. But I still believe that regardless of how passive it was or how little they understood their decision, their choice was involved, and consent was given.

    I can understand how such a person with this experience might come to emphasize God's sovereignty to the exclusion of all else. But this is wrong. They are mistaken! God is love NOT knowledge. God is goodness NOT power. Yes God is omniscient and ompotent, but knowledge and power do not define God. God's will is a will to love and goodness NOT a will to knowledge and power. Therefore God is not driven to absolute knowledge and control. There is no salvation in power and knowledge! Salvation is found in love and goodness. If you emphasize power and knowledge then you cannot tell the difference between God and the devil. The devil is the one with a will to power and knowledge. The devil is the one who is driven to absolute knowlege and control. But love and goodness is greater and will prevail.
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    You are correct, Mitchell. I do not feel comforable discussing these kinds of issues in the cursory manner they must be dealt with in a forum such as this. Nor do I feel qualified to discuss them at length, especially in view of the fact that there are considerable materials and commentaries on them by people who are far more qualified than I.

    If God is upset because someone is an Arminian or Calvinist or somewhere in between or somewhere without, He will certainly have ample opportunity to set them straight in eternity.

    If I thought your trip to eternity was being hindered by your stand on the Arminian/Calvinist issues, I would be more inclined to argue them with you -- but I would not choose an atheist dominated forum as the milieu.
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    You are correct, Mitchell. I do not feel comforable discussing these kinds of issues in the cursory manner they must be dealt with in a forum such as this. Nor do I feel qualified to discuss them at length, especially in view of the fact that there are considerable materials and commentaries on them by people who are far more qualified than I.

    If God is upset because someone is an Arminian or Calvinist or somewhere in between or somewhere without, He will certainly have ample opportunity to set them straight in eternity.

    If I thought your trip to eternity was being hindered by your stand on the Arminian/Calvinist issues, I would be more inclined to argue them with you -- but I would not choose an atheist dominated forum as the milieu.
    Well amen and amen....

    Perhaps Jesus should have said, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle that a theologian to get into heaven." We humans do get stuck on things that are kind of beside the point don't we. If it was necessary for us to be absolutely correct on such matters then no doubt God would have made them considerably clearer in the Bible.
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