RED LETTER CHRISTIAN ACTIVISTS?

It seems like Democrats are always trying to find a way to either silence Christian Conservatives — How dare you bring religion into politics? — or turn Christianity into government social program. Nonetheless, it never occurred to me that Democrats would use the red letters in some people’s Bibles as the basis for a political organization.

When I first heard of the expression “red letter Christian”, I discovered it related to the fact some folks only take the words of Jesus (highlighted in red in some Bibles) seriously. Since Jesus Himself told us to take the whole Word of God to heart, I thought that rather odd.

Matthew 5:17-20 Amplified Bible (AMP)

17Do not think that I have come to do away with or undo the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to do away with or undo but to complete and fulfill them.

18For truly I tell you, until the sky and earth pass away and perish, not one smallest letter nor one little hook [identifying certain Hebrew letters] will pass from the Law until all things [it foreshadows] are accomplished.

19Whoever then breaks or does away with or relaxes one of the least [important] of these commandments and teaches men so shall be called least [important] in the kingdom of heaven, but he who practices them and teaches others to do so shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

20For I tell you, unless your righteousness (your uprightness and your right standing with God) is more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Nonetheless, I still did not appreciate the full extent of this oddity. Then I decided to do a little research for this comment from Tony. Because Tony was sounding to me like a Red Letter Christian, I decided I had better acquaint him with the irony of that position. Then I discovered Red Letter Christians had become a political organization. Huh! When will we ever hear any complaints from Democrats about Liberal Christians mixing religion with politics?

Anyway, what I missed others have noted with a bit of queasiness.  In 2007, Christianity Today featured a little debate they titled When Red Is Blue. The first part is Why I am not a Red-Letter Christian by Stan Guthrie. The second part is Tony Campolo’s Response (Campolo is one the founders of Red Letter Christians).

Since I had never before heard of Red Letter Christians, I suppose I should be relieved; they cannot be very effective. Nonetheless, the fact they exist at all is sad. One of Jesus’ names is the Word of God. For examples, see John 1:1 and Revelation 19:13. For the Being that created all things, the Bible is such a small thing. Yet to make God manageable, some would reduce even that to few red letters.

About these ads

About Citizen Tom

I am just an average citizen interested in promoting informed participation in the political process.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to RED LETTER CHRISTIAN ACTIVISTS?

  1. bydesign001 says:

    Progressives are indeed as selective as they are hypocrites in all phases of life. I have never heard of Red Letter Christians either. Must look that up.

  2. Scout says:

    Nice sweeping generality there, bydesign. Hope you don’t do work that depends on analyzing data.

    I didn’t read all the links, but I would say that I have a red-letter Bible (one of many) and I do find it useful. It very quickly takes me, through visual cues, to words that Jesus uttered, according to the authors of the Gospels. Unfortunately, it’s a KJV, which is not my preferred translation.

    As Tom indicates, there’s much more to a Bible than the words that came out of Jesus’s mouth, but those words are important and distinct. I like having the quick visual reference.

  3. Could not agree with you more. After all the 1o commandments are in the Old Testament.
    The only thing that Jesus dismissed was ceremonial law. There are all kinds of laws published in the OT enumerating what is and is not sexual sin for example. Interestingly enough masturbation is not mentioned in them.

    Too many people also want to add to or take away from the bible, which the bible forbids in both in the Old and New Testment. The Catholic church is a prime example of this heresy.

    John Wilder

    • Tony Salmon says:

      “The only thing that Jesus dismissed was ceremonial law. There are all kinds of laws published in the OT enumerating what is and is not sexual sin for example. Interestingly enough masturbation is not mentioned in them.”

      I guess then there is only sacred masturbation for everyong. How oddly ironic that you misinterpret “Onan’s sin” as an exception and then only to come to such a relgiously bigoted conclusion. Ha. I guess all that we can do is pray for such minor heresies.

      I can only hope that you are trying to be funny Mr. Marraigecoach.

      • Hey Tony
        How very catholic of you. Onan was not masturbating. In fact there is no place in the old or new testament that mentions masturbating even though God explains sex with a female animal for men and sex with a male animal for women is sin. He also listed every family combination that could be incest. Given that level of detail, don’t you think that God would have mentioned masturbation if He considered it a sin.

        Onan if you know your history was killed by God because of his defiance of the law in raising up an heir to his deceased brother by having sex with the brother’s wife which was part of the jewish law.

        I am an EX catholic, one of tens of thousands of kids sexually abused by a priest for which the bishops entered into a criminal conspiracy to hide that fact and protect the priests instead of the kids.

        Sadly catholacism is little more than a cult. I know because I went on and got one of my degrees in bible and became a baptist minister. 95% of catholic doctrine is in DIRECT CONTRADICTION to biblical teaching. I can name plenty for you.

        And no, I was not trying to be funny but dead serious.

        John Wilder

  4. Tony Salmon says:

    Tom, good for you for changing the subject to a criticism of me and my theology when you find yourself at a loss on the original issue.

    From our previous discussions on the subject, I know that we two have big theological differences, as do most of us I suppose. There are also vast differences between Christian denominations. I am basically a Catholic, as our mother and father were, but I freely admit that I am a very open minded Catholic. I enjoy the topic and I read a great many books on our and different religions, but I don’t claim to an expert. I accept and enjoy a good deal of our ritualistic traditions without logically understanding them all, but I don’t claim to accept every dogma. On the other hand, despite being raised as a Catholic, (as long as we are making broad generalizations about each others’ religious sentiments), and spending most of your life as an agnostic, you seem to have a few years ago settled on some form of primitive Calvinism. Knowing you as a person of the highest sincerity, I don’t think it is just convenient that your religious views suddenly seem to justify the political views that you have always held. Instead you seem to be uncomfortable with much of ambiguity of life and you need a dogmatic and certain ideological solution to the biggest dilemmas. I don’t say this to be disrespectful, whether unconsciously from our upbringing or consciously through our moral training, we all need an ideological port in the storm of life’s uncertainties, and most of us turn to religion or something like it for some form of foundational refuge.

    Theological debates over which denomination’s foundational principles are right and which are wrong are interesting and can even be enlightening, but they are also not resolvable. Unfortunately, people can also get pretty uncivil about the topic (as the Reformation Wars demonstrate). I hope this discussion doesn’t devolve into that. Only God knows who is right. I pray for grace, but God is vast and I am very small. If your point in this new line is that you are a better, a more scholarly or a more enlightened Christian than me, then I will gladly concede the argument. You can win if you like, and it won’t hurt my feeling one bit if it makes you happy to believe so. On the hand, if you want to use Jesus to support a public policy, then that is another matter. I think you should at least have to prove it, if not by my standards, then at least by yours.

    Let me remind you that you are the one who, in the previous discussion, attempted to justify a public policy, that you basically admit is both culturally xenophobic and cruelly protective, by saying that such a public policy is somehow “Christian”. I don’t have to be a “Red Letter Christian,” or any particular brand of Christian to object to the logical incongruity of such a policy to what Jesus said and did in the Bible. I don’t even have to be a Christian at all to show the pretense (or I could say “hypocrisy” if I wanted to be rude) of a purported follower of Jesus of any flavor claiming scriptural authority to do just the opposite of what Jesus actually repeatedly said to do. I could be a Muslim, a Jew, a Buddhist, or even an atheist and still point out that your rationalization is theologically and logically incompatible with the specific statements, actions and general theme of Jesus in the Bible.

    Knowing that you can’t defend your position as it stands on its own merits, it appears that you now want to deflect by changing the subject into a criticism of the supposed flaws that you see in my theology. Nice try, but I’m not biting.

    The reason that I am not biting is because, although this instance is a more flagrant violation than most, it is part of a broader motif where you and others on the far Christian Right have attempted to cast public policies that are essentially cruel, mean spirited, judgmental and exclusionary, in some sanctimonious veil of self righteousness certainty that obviously denies the message of love and compassion that Jesus represents in the Bible. And you do so by using scriptural “legalism” (that is a word that you like these days isn’t it?) to mine the Bible for any passage that appears to even vaguely support your opinion, and you do so at the expense of ignoring the overriding spirit of Jesus’ message.

    While one may need to be a biblical scholar to combat such scriptural legalism reference by reference and debate each mined passage as either taken out of context or misinterpreted, one only has to have read what Jesus said and did in order to see the basic incongruity.

    Personally, I would just as well debate immigration policy based upon rational practicality. Conservatives claim to be for free trade and open markets. Labor is a market, like any other good or service. Scout makes the usual conservative economic free market argument that, like any other market, immigration should have as little restriction as possible. I agree to a point, but I believe in “fair markets” where, like every other industrial nation in the world that we are competing with, we create a trading policy (including immigrant labor) that both puts us on an equal playing field and makes sure that that field has minimum standards for work rules and safety, pollution control, etc. internalized into the cost of their products just as they are with ours. Given that, I think that Americans, including our immigrants, can outproduce anybody in the areas where we really want to compete, and we can do so while still providing for a strong vibrant middle class with equal opportunity for all, not just here, but world wide.

    But Tom you have chosen to premise your immigration policy, like all your policies, mainly on Christian religious grounds rather than more ration ones. And that is fine as it goes. You have every right to do so. I just think that if you are going to do so, it should actually at least be consistent with what Jesus said and did.

  5. Tony Salmon says:

    ohn, I am very sorry for what happened to you and for the what it has apparently done to you. I speak with some personal sympathy when a tell you that I sincerely hope that you can someday find peace and reconciliation .

    I guess, reading the passage, I always thought that Onan’s sin was ejaculating, and thus wasting, his seed upon the ground, which I suppose could be a euphemism for masturbation, or so it has been said. Although St. Augustine might disagree with your views in that he thought sex (even with consummation) was sinful. I am glad to hear that we get off on a technicality for so many of our youthful indiscretions in this area. Other than that, I really have no strong theological position on masturbation, sexual gratification in any number of other ways, or sex with animals for that matter. Good luck with your Baptist theological pursuits in liberalizing forms of sexual gratification. I’m rooting for you.

  6. Tony
    I have peace but absolutely no reconciliation with these unconvicted felons.
    Onan was not masturbating using his dead brother’s wife’s vagina. He was defiant and jealous
    and at the last minute spilled his seed upon the ground for which God slew him. Has nothing to do with masturbation which is a solitary act.

    Let me give you just one small example of cathalicism violating scripture. In Mathew 6:7 Jesus said: “when you pray, don’t pray as the heathen in vain repetitions because they think that they will be heard for their much speaking” That is exactly what the rosary is: vain repetitions. When I confront catholics with this they invariably tell me why Christ was wrong and why the pope is right.

    There is so much more that I could share with you.
    John

  7. Citizen Tom says:

    John – Thank you for your comments. Sounds like an awful experience you had with the Catholic Church, but it seems to have made you a stronger Christian. Praise be to God!

    Tony – For the most part I do not have axe to grind with Catholics or any other religion. In any event, exterminating others would unChristian. We are suppose to convert others to Christianity, not fight with them.

    When other people are willing to let us live in peace, Christians should return the favor. Because of all the Utopian government programs you want, that you are not willing to do. To support your religious ideals — whatever they are — requires a government that violates religious freedom of others.

    Our nation’s Founders wrote a Constitution that rejects any religious doctrine that imposes itself by force. I support that Constitution, and I have tried to explain that to you, but you won’t hear the explanation. You say you are not biting, but you’ve certainly biten into something toxic. What you are not doing is thinking.

    So I will answer again one more time as concisely as I can.

    • Any nation has the right to protect itself. Any nation that does not enforce its borders gives up its sovereignty and its identity. That is not charity; it’s national suicide.
    • Whether it is the name of religion, the almighty secular state, or an Obama style ego trip, none of us have the right to demand charity from others. Charity is not a right. Charity is an act of voluntary generosity.

    When Jesus — God — made the acceptance of salvation a free willed choice, where do find the gall to repeat over and over the same foolish questions? The Bible? No, and that is something you ought to think about. Read the Bible yourself. Search for the wisdom in it. Try to understand each Book as the people who first heard it understood it.

    With a little concentrated effort, you will see through many of the lies. For example, it is popular to think of the God of Israel as cruel. Do some research. Who were the Canaanites? Why did God want them either killed or driven from the Holy Land?

  8. Tony Salmon says:

    John,

    If find the discussion interesting, but I’ll have to bow to your expertise on such things as scriptural interpretations of masturbation. I’m not so literalistic when I read the Bible. I’m really more concerned with the broad enduring spiritual truths than in finding specific black and white rulings on mundane material or prurient social minutia, especially given how the times have changed since then. It seems to me that Jesus had something to say to the Jewish religious establishment critics of His time when they got too hung up on legal scriptural technicalities and missed the underlying message of truth.

    I’m also simply not qualified to make a cogent scriptural defense in favor of the Catholic Rosary, although, if you are right and it is a sin, given the contemplative reverence of those who chant that mantra, I like to believe that God will be forgiving, if not loving, even if it is technically incorrect. My mother said the rosary almost every day until her death so, please forgive my heresy if it is one, but in my heart I cannot help but believe that those efforts endeared her to the God that she loved and Who she tried to obey.

    Similarly, I won’t be an apologist for the failings of the Catholic Church and for how it failed you. In my youth, I too went through a period of resentment and loathing of the Church for what I perceived as its inconsistencies and the gross (even criminal) hypocrisies, both of the establishment and of many of its clergy. But after a time and much study and soul searching, I decided to open my mind to the aesthetic beauty and spiritual truth of it’s traditions and rituals. I can’t explain it rationally, but I know the truth of it in my heart every time in a similar way that I feel the austere beauty of the Alaskan mountains and glaciers when I fly over them. All in all, however, I don’t claim to be a very good Catholic, or even a particularly good person.

    I hope that you will indeed share more, however, as I find these kinds of discussions fascinating, so long as they remain open minded and civil. In the end, we may not agree, but I know I can learn things. I have already learned something new about scripture from your contributions today..

    • Hey Tony
      King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
      But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
      Mathew 15:9

      You want to defend your mother praying the rosay. I have no desire to condemn her but the catholic church and its leadership misleading good but scritpurally naive people.
      There are times where Jesus meant for us to take His word figuratively like the last supper where the cahtolics take it literally. This would mean that we would have to throw out the whole OT law where we are specifically forbiddent to partake of blood. To take Jesus literally would mean that we had to practice holy cannibalisim to get grace which is a total abomination. Jesus said that it is apppointed to man once to die. By the cahtolic church’s teaching you would have to recrucifyy Christ again and again.

      Then there are times where He expects us to take him literally where he forbade vain repetitons in prayer. This requires no interpretation it was a direct command of Christ.

      Then the catholics teach their people to pray to Mary but Jesus said in John 14:9 that
      “no man comes to the Father except through me”..

      I can go on and on here. The catholics are a cult who distort scripture and violate scripture and it shows in its treatment of children and protecting pedophile felons and the bishops. Jesus said that it would be better for a man to have a millstone tied around his neck and be cast into the sea than to hurt one of these little children who believe in Him. It is a very sick religeon who mislead people into believing that children will go to hell if they are not baptized. And Jesus said “in Heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father”

      Then they teach about Purgatory and Limbo where these concepts are never mentioned in the bible again teaching for doctrines the comnmandments of me.

      From the old testament to the New Testament we are warned not to add to or take away from the Bible, it is the complete book of intructions for our life.

      John

      • Citizen Tom says:

        John – I agree with many of the points you have made, and I concede your expertise. Nonetheless, I ask for your indulgence. I would like to offer some observations. Almost every Christian church in the United States owes its origins to the Catholic Church. Whatever its faults, the Catholic Church preserved the Christian faith through the Dark Ages. Moreover, while it opposed the Protestant Reformation with unjustifiable violence, the Catholic Church has made significant efforts to reform itself, and those reforms continue.

        The warfare that erupted with the Protestant Reformation ended centuries ago. Nothing is to be gained by reviving it. In fact, we would do well to remember that what we share in common with Catholics outweighs our differences.

        As Christians, we need to keep the focus on the Bible. With varying degrees of success, we all form churches to function as the body of Christ, to organize to spread and teach the Good News that is in the Bible. Because of the Bible, we all have the same core message: we have discovered hope for salvation in Christ.

        What we do is a work in progress. Each of us remains a sinner. Christ came to save sinners. The churches we form house repentent sinners seeking the grace to be good. Therefore, bad doctrine is hardly the exclusive domain of any one Christian Church.

        We form competing Christian sects because we sin. Because we still sin, we do not yet see the truth clearly.

        1 Corinthians 13:9-12 American Standard Version (ASV)

        9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part;

        10 but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away.

        11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child: now that I am become a man, I have put away childish things.

        12 For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known.

        The sexual abuse carried out by Catholic priests merited justifiable punishment, and the Catholic clergy recognized that. They had the decency to be ashamed.

  9. Tony Salmon says:

    Tom wrote:

    “So I will answer again one more time as concisely as I can.

    ■Any nation has the right to protect itself. Any nation that does not enforce its borders gives up its sovereignty and its identity. That is not charity; it’s national suicide.
    ■Whether it is the name of religion, the almighty secular state, or an Obama style ego trip, none of us have the right to demand charity from others. Charity is not a right. Charity is an act of voluntary generosity”

    These may be your answers to the issues that you want to deflect to, but they are not even close to being answers to the issue that you have previously raised and piously promoted. The issue that you raised is whether, given that Jesus tells us repeatedly to be open, compassionate, giving and loving to each other, you, as a self proclaimed Christian, can logically use the Bible to promote a public policy that bars and casts out your brothers and sisters solely because they are desperate and poor. Brother, you still have not answered that issue and you must know that you haven’t because you can’t. .

  10. Citizen Tom says:

    Tony – What your interpretation of the Bible leads to is tyranny. With the perspective you offer, no Christian has any rights.

    The last right we have in any society is to say “NO” and mean it. Unless he willing to expend his life for it, the slave has no such right. In your view of Christianity, followers of Jesus entirely give up that right. The meanest, foulest human being can walk off with a Christian’s child, and the Christian has no right to resist. Yet you say you admire Jesus. For what exactly do you admire Him? The ability of some to abuse His teachings to manipulate the gullible?

  11. Tony Salmon says:

    Tom wrote:

    “The last right we have in any society is to say “NO” and mean it. Unless he willing to expend his life for it, the slave has no such right. In your view of Christianity, followers of Jesus entirely give up that right. The meanest, foulest human being can walk off with a Christian’s child, and the Christian has no right to resist. Yet you say you admire Jesus. For what exactly do you admire Him? The ability of some to abuse His teachings to manipulate the gullible?”

    Again, nice try at deflection Tom, but you are talking about extreme hypotheticals that neither you nor I have raised nor supported, and in fact, are exactly the opposite of the issue at hand

    We are not talking about “mean” or “foul” humans. We are talking about the innocent poor and suffering. We are not talking about these brothers and sisters directly harming you or your family. We are talking about you supporting a public policy that would directly harm them and their family simply because they are poor. You are claiming that you can support such persecution of the suffering and poor specifically because they are suffering and poor, and you claim that it is “Christian” when it is the opposite of how Jesus said repeatedly that we should the poor and suffering. And you think that, because they are naturally afraid of these suffering masses and scared because these people are different, that you can “manipulate the gullible” to ignore His teachings.

    I must not be a good person because I am enjoying your squirming on this one.

  12. Citizen Tom says:

    Tony – I have offered proof to substantiate my views. You have never established what you say is true. All you have said is you do not even attempt to live by this belief because it would be impossible for anyone to live that way. Your excuse is pragmatism. Nonetheless, you call yourself a follower of Christ. And you think I am squirming? :?:

    I don’t believe it is impossible to live as Jesus lived. Jesus did it for 33 years. What I understand is that I require His grace to even approach the standard of perfection He achieved.

    What Jesus actually did is hard enough. What you would do is turn God’s definition of good into something wholly absurd. You would define charity as something devoid of either intelligence or wisdom. Generosity is defined by giving until it hurts. Self-destruction is defined by pointlessly giving away all you have, negating any opportunity for survival. It is just malicious to give away what rightfully belongs to someone else. Yet what you would define as the charity of Jesus is both self-destructive and malicious.

  13. Tony Salmon says:

    Would the Jesus of the Bible support of a public policy of barring and casting out the poor specifically because they are poor?

  14. Citizen Tom says:

    Tony – Wrong is wrong. Poverty is not any excuse.

    Proverbs 6:30-31 Amplified Bible (AMP)

    30Men do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy himself when he is hungry;

    31But if he is found out, he must restore seven times [what he stole]; he must give the whole substance of his house [if necessary--to meet his fine].

    You disagee? Then put a sign on your house. Tell anyone who is poor that that can sleep in your bed, eat your food, and steal your property. So long as they are poor you will not bar them or cast them out from your home.

    • Tony Salmon says:

      Irrelevant Tom. You are attributing false hypotheticals to me and trying to excuse the unchristian cruelty of your proposal by demonizing the poor It is you that have proposed to fence out and throw out the innocent poor SPECIFICALLY BECAUSE THEY ARE POOR. By making such a proposal, you have raised this issue:

      Would the Jesus of the Bible support of a public policy of barring and casting out the poor specifically because they are poor?

      A. Yes
      B. No

      If yes, please support with scriptural authority from Jesus, and please explain why He so often in Bible said to do just the opposite.

      This should not be hard to do if what you propose is truly consistent with being a Christian, but as you are continuously proving here, it is impossible to do because it is not.

      • Citizen Tom says:

        When a question includes a false premise, neither a “yes” nor a “no” provides a reasonable reply. The only logical response is to challenge the premise of the question.

        I can only guess basis for your question, but it is nonsense. Because of illegal immigration, it seems that we currently maintain our borders and our rules for crossing those borders just to keep out well-educated, productive people. That’s a good idea?

        Do you decide who comes into your home based upon the level of their poverty. When you visit the doctor, do you give a special preference to poor doctors. Do you prefer witch doctors from the darkest parts of Africa, preferably those who cannot speak English?

        When you make decisions about your friends and business associates, what basis do you use? Would you mind explaining? If you are honest, I suspect the rules you use just might provide the basis for a halfway decent immigration policy.

  15. John Wilder says:

    Hey Tom:
    You are asking me to make nice and just say that it is okay. I can’t do that. Here are some scriptural reasons why:

    This witness is true. For this reason bebuke them sharply that they may be sound in the faith
    Titus 1:13

    Preach the word: Be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction. II tim 4:2

    These are the things that you should teach, encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not
    let anyone despise you. titus 2:15

    I don’t have a problem with catholics per se but the leadership who subvert and pervert the word of God. They also subverted justice and the bishops were guilty of a worldwide cover up instead of reporting the pedophile priests to the police. It is not an isolated incident but pervasive in teh church world wide. Jesus was VERY EXPLICIT in what should happen to these unvonvicted felons.

    John Wilder

  16. Citizen Tom says:

    John – Our opponents are those who have no shame, those who sin against the weak and innocent without any regret — except at the prospect of getting caught.

    During the religious wars in Europe, our Christian forbears fought and killed each other over the silliest things. Contemplate their sin.

    1 John 2:9-11 Amplified Bible (AMP)

    9Whoever says he is in the Light and [yet] hates his brother [Christian, born-again child of God his Father] is in darkness even until now.

    10Whoever loves his brother [believer] abides (lives) in the Light, and in It or in him there is no occasion for stumbling or cause for error or sin.

    11But he who hates (detests, despises) his brother [in Christ] is in darkness and walking (living) in the dark; he is straying and does not perceive or know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

    Even if you do not hate Catholics, should you needlessly risk tempting them to hate you?

    Look again at the things in your list of doctrinal complaints. Are they significant? Yes. Can you find differences between Protestant churches that are just as significant? Yes.

    Let me give you an example of the problem we face. You called the Catholic Church a “cult”. Check these two definitions.
    http://dictionary.die.net/cult
    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cult

    When we are surrounded by folks who consider any Christian church a cult, what is the point of picking on the Catholic Church? Do you have a justifiable personal grievance? Definitely! But these people at least recite and believe in the truth of the Apostle’s Creed, the essential tenets of Christianity. Is that not a huge start?

    What Catholics need to do — what all American Christians need to do — is to once again become students of the Bible. That requires good examples of people who love and live by the Word. That requires encouragement, and that requires people like yourself, people who have studied the Bible, people enthusiastically willing to teach others what they have learned.

    With good examples, good instruction, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, all will have the opportunity to learn proper Christian doctrine.

  17. Tony Salmon says:

    John,

    It seems sort of appropriate to defend the Eucharistic Feast on the day before Thanksgiving, although I am not really very qualified to do so. As I said, I am not a particularly good or reverent Catholic. Therefore I can’t provide a very authoritative description of Catholic doctrine.

    I can only tell you how I personally approach the mystery of what Jesus told us to do at The Last Supper, and that is with a sense of awe and openness to that ritual mystery. I think that God’s grace is the only way that we connect to the infinite divine, and I have found that the connection is hard to make unless it is approached with reverence, openness and humility. When I approach the Eucharistic ritual with that attitude, although it is difficult to describe, I feel that connection.

    Your bitterness toward the Catholic Church is understandable, but there seems to be a vindictiveness here. For example, it is imprecise at best to call the largest Christian denomination in the world, and a confessional faith held by hundreds of millions, a “cult”. At worst it could be seen as a little vindictive. Makes it tough to seriously discuss such sacred things when confronted with such apparent anger. We will have to get past that if we are to have a civil and enlightening talk about the Eucharist or anything else, and I can tell already tell that Tom quite rightly doesn’t want his blog to be a launching pad for Catholic bashing. Perhaps Tom would want to move this discussion to a more appropriate location and we could agree on some ground rules if you really want to continue.

  18. Tony and Tom
    I am not about hating the Catholic church but exposing the fallacy of their doctrine as measured by the bible. We also observe the Lord’s supper with reverence but we don’t practice holy cannibalism nor do we teach such an abomination. The bible does not contradict itself nor does Jesus contradict the bible. We are expressly forbidden to partake of blood so therefore the doctrine of Transubstantion (changing bread to flesh) is wrong, plain and simple.

    I do not preach hate nor do I recommend it. And I don’t encourage people to hate me, but here are some scriptural references to explain it.

    Proverbs 29:27 The righteous detest the dishonest; the wicked detest the upright.
    ________________________________________
    Isaiah 66:5 Hear the word of the LORD, you who tremble at his word: “Your brothers who hate you, and exclude you because of my name, have said, ‘Let the LORD be glorified, that we may see your joy!’ Yet they will be put to shame.
    ________________________________________
    Matthew 10:22 All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
    ________________________________________
    Matthew 24:9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.
    ________________________________________
    John 7:7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil.
    ________________________________________
    John 16:1 “All this I have told you so that you will not go astray.
    ________________________________________
    John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
    ________________________________________
    Acts 14:22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.
    ________________________________________
    1 John 3:1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
    ________________________________________
    1 John 3:13 Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.

  19. Some further thoughts for both of you and any who would read this. I don’t take naming the catholic church a cult lightly or vindictively. I refer to it as a cult as a perjorative, (and yes Tom I did look at your definitions) because a cult is lead by a leader who misleads the naive into false beliefs to their own detriment. I have exposed with scripture fallacies in the catholic doctrine that you do not need to be a scriptural scholar to understand. There is no mention of Purgatory or Limbo mentioned in the bible and yet it is a teaching of the church for example.

  20. Here are some scriptures warning us not to add to the Word nor take away from it and some warnings. The catholic church added limbo and purgatory against the teachings of the bible:

    Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

    2. Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you-by the introduction of any heathen superstition or forms of worship different from those which I have appointed (De 12:32; Nu 15:39; Mt 15:9).

    neither shall ye diminish aught from it-by the neglect or omission of any of the observances, however trivial or irksome, which I have prescribed. The character and provisions of the ancient dispensation were adapted with divine wisdom to the instruction of that infant state of the church. But it was only a temporary economy; and although God here authorizes Moses to command that all its institutions should be honored with unfailing observance, this did not prevent Him from commissioning other prophets to alter or abrogate them when the end of that dispensation was attained.
    Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

    4:1-23 The power and love of God to Israel are here made the ground and reason of a number of cautions and serious warnings; and although there is much reference to their national covenant, yet all may be applied to those who live under the gospel. What are laws made for but to be observed and obeyed? Our obedience as individuals cannot merit salvation; but it is the only evidence that we are partakers of the gift of God, which is eternal life through Jesus Christ, Considering how many temptations we are compassed with, and what corrupt desires we have in our bosoms, we have great need to keep our hearts with all diligence. Those cannot walk aright, who walk carelessly. Moses charges particularly to take heed of the sin of idolatry. He shows how weak the temptation would be to those who thought aright; for these pretended gods, the sun, moon, and stars, were only blessings which the Lord their God had imparted to all nations. It is absurd to worship them; shall we serve those that were made to serve us? Take heed lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God. We must take heed lest at any time we forget our religion. Care, caution, and watchfulness, are helps against a bad memory.

    Revelation 22:18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.Revelation 22:19 And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.Deuteronomy 1:3 In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses proclaimed to the Israelites all that the LORD had commanded him concerning them.Deuteronomy 4:5 See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the LORD my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it.Deuteronomy 4:14 And the LORD directed me at that time to teach you the decrees and laws you are to follow in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess.Deuteronomy 4:40 Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the LORD your God gives you for all time.Deuteronomy 12:32 See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it.Deuteronomy 33:4 the law that Moses gave us, the possession of the assembly of Jacob.Psalm 78:7 Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.Proverbs 30:6 Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.Ecclesiastes 12:13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole [duty] of man.Jeremiah 26:2 “This is what the LORD says: Stand in the courtyard of the LORD’s house and speak to all the people of the towns of Judah who come to worship in the house of the LORD. Tell them everything I command you; do not omit a word.

  21. Citizen Tom says:

    John – Since it took a fair amount of research, I decided to do a post in response to your material. It will pop up on Friday morning.

    No. I don’t want to debate this subject. I am neither a Catholic or an anti-Catholic. What I do want people to realize is that there is no simple answer. Catholics may or may not be right, but which ever they are they do have reasons and a long history for what they believe.

  22. Pingback: TO BASH OR NOT BASH CATHOLICISM | Citizen Tom

  23. Hey Tom
    thanks for your patience and letting me vent my rants against the catholic church. I will bow out now and respect that this is your blog. Yes I did read your answer in the separate blog and while I don’t agree I respect your right to do with your blog as you wish.
    John

  24. Citizen Tom says:

    marriagecoach1 – You are entitled to your opinions, and I hope I did not treat your expression of them as a mere rant. I understand your differences with the Catholic Church are real and well-considered. I don’t even think it is necessarily bad thing to discuss these topics. The discussion of such differences lead to the Protestant Reformation, and, a little later, a reformation of the Catholic Church. What I worry about is (1) my ability to manage the discussion of such a topic and (2) the diversion of my blog from its intended purpose.

    I do hope you continue to visit and comment.

  25. Pingback: Worth Reading « Thinking in Christ

  26. tony salmon says:

    Tom wrote:

    “When a question includes a false premise, neither a “yes” nor a “no” provides a reasonable reply. The only logical response is to challenge the premise of the question.”

    Ah Tom, but you did not challenge the premise of my question. The premise of my question is that Jesus repeatedly and consistently told us in the Bible to be open, generous, loving and compassionate, and that He specifically said we should have this sort of attitude toward the poor and the suffering. The negative of that same premise is that Jesus would not have us be mean, hateful, ungenerous, closed minded, or selfish, and as such, one can deduce that Jesus would not want us to fence out or cast out folks specifically because they are poor. That is the premise of my question, “Would the Jesus of the Bible support a public policy of barring and casting out the poor specifically because they are poor?”, and you have not challenged this premise, but insist on avoiding the question by evading it.

    You want a hypothetical that matches the premise of my question, then here is one. Suppose, for the practical purposes of maintaining and improving the quality of the community, your city ennacted ordinances that made it illegal for anyone who was not originally from that city, and who lacked a certain educational and income level, to be allowed move to, to work in or to reside within boundaries of the city limits. Then let’s imagine that your city set about putting up a fence to keep out poor hard working folks who wanted to move there, and also went about throwing out all the poor and undereducated strangers who had lived and worked in that community for years. Let’s also suppose that, for the sake of argument, such ordinances were absolutely legal and constitutional. Even if we assume that the city law practically made sense in order to improve the community and to save its educational and social services resources for the residents, and even though we assume that it is legal, could such a program of selfishness and exclusion be morally justified as Christian in a community that claimed to be Christian?

    On an even smaller scale, what if a purportedly “Christian” church ennacted such a policy of exclusion of the poor and uneducated from its membership? Certainly, a church has a legal right to do such a thing, and might even have practical excuses for wanting to, but would it be religiously right? Would that really be a church that followed what Christ said?

    I have focussed on your criteria for national imigration exclusion based on poverty and lack of education, but do you really think that Jesus would have people cast out or excluded the from His company simply because they didn’t speak His language yet? Or because they had not seen the light of His message yet? Jesus welcomed the poor, the uneducated, the foreign, even the sinful into the light of His presence. He healed the sick and unclean. He fed the starving masses and He repeatedly asked that His followers to try to do the same. Jesus even said that what we do, whether good or bad to the least of these, we do to Him.

    So Tom, that’s the premise of my question, the compassion and love of Jesus. Either challenge that, answer the question or admit that you cannot justify such selfish and exclusionary public policies as Christian and we can be done with this one, and move on to the next mean spirited right wing policy that you want to claim that Jesus would approve of.

  27. Citizen Tom says:

    Tony- Churches and governments have quite different purposes. Christian churches exist to spread the good news of Chriist. Governments exist to maintain order. Given your secularist bent, I suppose I should not be surprised you don’t see any true difference. However, Jesus clearly did. I presume you are familiar with a certain quote about rendering to God what is God’s and Caesar what is Caesar’s.

    Anyway, you are demanding that my faith requires me to do something foolish, but you have never demonstrated any such thiing. So the ball remains in your court.

  28. tony salmon says:

    It’s good to see that you have become a secularist, and I agree completely that Jesus specifically was not political. Your quote is a good one. Another one is where Jesus tells His accusers that His Kingdom is not of this world. Jesus was definitely saying that He was not a politician and did not want to worry Himself about forms of taxation. These quotes illustrate that Jesus would likely be uninterested in whether a government in this world was socialist, democratic, a religious monarchy, or a despotic empire. He was more interested in what we INDIVIDUALLY do and don’t do TO GOVERN OURSELVES than in the workings and forms of sovereign government.

    I don’t think Jesus was a capitalist, or any kind of materialist, either. An example of that is when He threw the capitalists out of the Temple (His only somewhat violent act that I can think of). Another is the passages where Jesus talks about the difficulties of a rich man getting into Heaven. Jesus was about being spiritual, not material.

    These are all good reasons why it is not really very Christlike to obsessively worry about guarding the wealth produced by society from good intentioned “busy bodies” who would sue forms of government to share that wealth for the public good. I think it most likely, from what He says in the Bible, that Jesus would be ambivalent about such a government use of material goods, He would more likely approve than disapprove of His followers not at least actively condemning anything that helped the poor and suffering toward greater equality and equal opportunity.

    However, although it is related in that it has to do with the personal morality that Jesus might want us to demonstrate in matters concerning material goods and the poor, these are not the specific issues here, and I think it important to stay on the issue that you promoted. You are the one claiming Christian Biblical endorsement for your political support of certain public policies.

    You are the one specifically claiming that you have some Biblical endorsement requiring a follower of Jesus to morally support a public immigration policy of excluding and casting out the immigrant poor specifically because they are poor (and you have also mentioned censuring the innocent suffering because of their education level, religion and language skills, but let’s just stick with the issue of the poor). Even if we assume that fencing out and casting out poor non-citizens is a practical public benefit for current citizens, the issue is whether such a policy runs counter to the personal morality of welcoming the suffering and helping the poor, as if They were Themselves Jesus, such as Jesus told us to do.

    I have asked a simple question.

  29. tony salmon says:

    One other point. You wrote:

    “Anyway, you are demanding that my faith requires me to do something foolish, but you have never demonstrated any such thiing. So the ball remains in your court.”

    I not asserting what your faith requires or does not require with regard to public policy. YOU HAVE.

    You are the one asserting a biblical justification for what is essentially a cold, pragmatic, secular, nationalistic policy of protectionism. I am simply questioning the religious consistency of YOUR assertion of biblical justification of YOUR public policy with YOUR purported religion. So again, please explain how a YOUR biblical justification of using government to exclude and expell the poor because they ar poor is consistent with what Jesus said about doing just the opposite.

  30. Citizen Tom says:

    Tony – Freedom of religion requires that we not use government inappropriately. That is, we should not use government to force what we believe on other people. That suggests a government of limited scope and powers.

    Beyond that, I think this discussion is over as far as I am concerned.

  31. tony salmon says:

    Tom,

    You are preaching to the preacher on this one brother. I am the one who has been warning you all along about treturousness of the task of using the Bible, or any religion’s sacred tenants, as a “How To Manual” for democratic government, especially a secular government that treasures freedom of religion such as we have. (It is impossible enough to use scripture as some sort of “How To” book on how to live daily life). However, if you insist on trying to do so, the public policies that you attempt to give the Christian Biblical Good House Keeping Seal of Approval (or Seal of Condemnation, for that matter) to ought to at least be consistent with what Jesus substantially said and did in the Bible.

    I’m satisfied that you have finally “seen the light” and decided no longer to foist your particular religious interpretation of governmental sovereign power on others, and I will be happy to also end this discussion. Now what those sovereign powers practically are and what they practically should be, and whether they meet the moral consensus of our society, regardless of our various religious beliefs or nonbeliefs, that is another matter altogether.

    Happy Holidays.

  32. tony salmon says:

    That sounded a little more smug than I meant it to. What I should have said is that when we have come full circle to the point where we are making each others’ original points, then perhaps we don’t disagree as much as we just like to argue.

    It’s been fun, and thanks for allowing me the soap box. I’m off to work. Give my love and holiday best wishes to your family.

  33. Citizen Tom says:

    Tony – I wish you would stop trying to put words in my mouth or tell me I should think. Why aren’t you satisfied just to say what you believe?

    Anyway, I hope you enjoyed yourself. Best wishes to you and your family.

Comments are closed.