WE ARE ALL PILGRIMS

William Blake: Christian Reading in His Book (Plate 2, 1824–27) (from here)
William Blake: Christian Reading in His Book (Plate 2, 1824–27) (from here)
pilgrim (n.)
c. 1200, pilegrim, from Old French pelerin, peregrin “pilgrim, crusader; foreigner, stranger” (11c., Modern French pèlerin), from Late Latin pelegrinus, dissimilated from Latin peregrinus “foreigner” (source of Italian pellegrino, Spanish peregrino), from peregre (adv.) “from abroad,” from per- “beyond” + agri, locative case of ager “country” (see acre).

Change of first -r- to -l- in most Romance languages by dissimilation; the -m appears to be a Germanic modification. Pilgrim Fathers “English Puritans who founded Plymouth colony” is first found 1799 (they called themselves Pilgrims from c. 1630, in reference to Hebrew xi:13).

I have a difficult and stubborn commenter,Arkenaten, who is perfectly willing to allow his comments to go into moderation. I guess he knows I will read them.

Since I used his “name” on the THE GIFT OF LOVE, I posted one of his comments (from here) with my reply.

Arkenaten

(Arkenaten) likes to amuse him by trying to torment Christian bloggers with questions to which we have no answers. (author’s note: Here Arkenaten quotes a portion of what I said in my post.)

I believe this sentence tells the reader everything they might wish to know about Christianity.
A real gem, this. A keeper in fact.

Citizen Tom

Since I mentioned your name, one comment.

Here is my reply.

We all have questions.

Why am I here?
What is right and wrong?
What brings me meaning
What happens to a human being when I die?

Can we learn the answer to those questions? Yes.

Check out => http://josephelonlillie.com/2016/01/25/road-through-romans-seek-and-find/

Here is how he replied.

Arkenaten

We know what happens to humans when they die. They decompose.
Why do you have a problem with this?

Why did I bother? That’s a topic in the comment thread that follows WHEN LOVE BECOMES AN EXCUSE FOR TYRANNY. For example, this comment.

Necessary and Proper

@Tom and Keith,

Tom’s question to Keith (“That is, how do we persuade people to properly amend the Constitution?”) brought me full circle back to the first interchange I ever had with Keith. It was when you reblogged my first Due Process of Law article on May 25th last year, called “Can a Law Be Unlawful.” I was trying to start a train of thought that would illuminate the fact that, no matter how all the detailed x’s and o’s tactics play out in the daily political arena, the BIGGER picture is that the whole legislative and executive world is now operating in an “extra-Constitutional” manner. An alarming percentage of the federal statutes on the books, and many of the federal government’s overt actions are simply devoid of any Constitutional basis — which I asserted makes them philosophically/morally unlawful. As we’ve gotten to know each other, Keith and I have found we’re both enthusiastic advocates for an Article V Convention to amend our Constitution back towards its original intent.

I would like to reprint a comment I made back then:

[[Keith, I would also observe that it’s clear your (and Citizen Tom’s) greater interest is in “What do we do about it?”, and you’re not necessarily as interested in hearing the case for why it’s morally wrong for the government to pass bad, unconstitutional, improper, wrong, inappropriate, laws. But there are a LOT of people who would never stop to question the behavior of lawmakers like I am doing here. It’s them I am primarily addressing, not you. Why? Because I believe that educating them to question their government’s actions is THE BEST thing within my control to help “do something about it.” Clearly, the impeachment avenue that was provided by the Constitution will never seriously be used, because there’s too much political posturing and media subterfuge in the modern political arena for impeachment to be practical. So influencing moderates, independents, and new voters in their teens and twenties that they should be careful and effective with their voting power is what I’m all about….especially in this series. I’m trying to fight against the spread of moral relativism.]]

– Jeff

Jeff wrote a very thoughtful comment. Nevertheless, he is addressing Keith and myself.

When I started blogging, I focused more on politics than religion. Then I realized that our political system is collapsing because our people no longer uphold an ethical system capable of supporting a constitutional republic. So now I focus far more on the Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ.

When I blog, like Jeff I hope that I will reach some people who have not given either Christianity or politics much thought. However, I don’t seriously expect many of those people to stop by and read my blog. Yet that is most of the electorate.

What has happened? Why is a nation that once seemed so interested in Christianity now so ignorant of it? I think the answer is our education system. We have allowed the public school system to indoctrinate successive generations of children, and that school system has left a void in the hearts of our people. Think of the idiocy. Almost no one trusts politicians, but we have put them in charge of so much that we value, including the indoctrination of our children.

With respect to Christianity, our education system has left the impression that these questions have no serious answers.

Why am I here?
What is right and wrong?
What brings me meaning
What happens to a human being when I die?

Ravi Zacharias (an expert in Christian apologetics) says there are Four Questions To Answer In Life.

Our schools avoid the Bible. When they speak of religion, they speak of religion as a source of controversy and war. Seriously, does anyone truly believe American politicians think of Islam as the religion of peace. Don’t we know that what politicians who call Islam the religion of peace think is that all religions are worthless except their own idols, power and money.

With respect to our duty to be good citizens, our education system has left the impression that all we have to do is listen to the evening news and then vote for the best man.  In fact, for the most part people do nothing. Because they never learn what to do — how they can make a difference — they do what seems easiest and leave it to “the experts.” That is exactly what most corrupt politicians would prefer they do.

So why do I blog? It is my pilgrimage. Putting my thoughts on paper and reading what others have written helps me to better understand the Bible and politics. That’s the primary reason.

For the time being, blogging also seems to be my calling. There are new Conservatives with a poor understanding of Conservatism and new Christians who need to be encouraged to read the Bible. With the help of other Christians and Conservative bloggers, those are the people I hope to reach, and those are the people I hope will talk to their friends and neighbors. If God answers our prayers, those are the people God will call upon to revive His Spirit within our nation. These people will bring the Gospel of Christ to those with ears to hear, and the Holy Spirit — if God so wills — will soften our hearts so that we can each perceive the message of Jesus Christ.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF YOUR VOTE — PART 2

The Worship of Mammon -- 1909 painting by Evelyn De Morgan. (from here)
The Worship of Mammon — 1909 painting by Evelyn De Morgan. (from here)

In the first post this series, Does Planned Parenthood Use Taxpayer Funds To Pay For Abortions?, we considered how Planned Parenthood effectively uses Federal funds to pay for abortions.

Why do the doctors and nurses at Planned Parenthood do abortions? Do people become doctors and nurses to do abortions? Well, most of them don’t.

1 Timothy 6:9-10 New King James Version (NKJV)

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Of course, voting and supporting our favorite candidates goes beyond the subject of abortion. Although many voters use a candidate’s position as a litmus test, government has a larger objective than preventing abortions.

Laws That Conform To The Golden Rule

Even as the abortionists at “Planned Parenthood” profitably deliver dead babies from their mothers, that management of “Planned Parenthood” portrays their organization as people who care about women. Therefore, even as some note the hypocrisy, others defend the hypocrisy. Thus, Steven Hoyt put up a series of comments following the THE PRECIOUS HUMAN LIFE AND THE ABORTION FACTOR argued that before Christians had the right to condemn the practice of abortion, they had to somehow “prove” their own holiness.

Is argument Biblical? What if we generalize ‘s requirement for judging the sins of others? What if before we call any conduct a sin we must first demonstrate our own holiness? Since the Bible says “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10), none of us would be qualified to call anything that someone else did wrong. Therefore, if we are going to follow ‘s suggestions with respect to declaring abortion wrong, we may as well scrap of all our laws.

Given that the Bible itself contains the Mosaic Code or the Mosaic Law, does it make any sense that God wants us to scrap all laws? Is it not more likely that God wants our laws to conform to the Golden Rule.

Matthew 7:12 New King James Version (NKJV)

12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

But What Do Conservative Voters Think?

In Coalition Politics, Necessary and Proper evaluates the Conservatism of the American electorate using various sorts of polling data. Why?  What is the point of  ‘s careful and well presented analysis (That is, even dummies like me can easily follow his logic?)? is trying to figure out which of the Republican presidential candidates deserves the Conservative vote. Here is his conclusion.

For what it’s worth:  The limb I have walked out onto via all this tortured speculation, along with my observation of the two televised debates, convinces me that Marco Rubio is the most conservative Republican candidate who is persuasive and articulate enough to appeal to a 48% span of the general voter population and win the 2016 Presidential election.  You will draw your own conclusion.  My goal was only to get you to think about the consequences of your primary voting strategy. (from here)

Because the American electorate has become so divided, does not think a solid Conservative would win. Therefore, advocates voting for an electable Conservative.

‘s thoughtful post earned a string of comments. Because they have the give and take of thoughtful discussion, these are worth reading.  All the commenters applauded the care took in preparing his analysis, but tannngl challenged his conclusions, preferring to vote for the most consistent Conservative, Senator Ted Cruz. That led to this fascinating defense.

About Ted Cruz, you said “He is my candidate.” In the primaries, each of us should not picking our personal candidate. We’re picking the candidate for others — for millions of voters (greater than 48%).

As I said, the further right a candidate is, the better he/she must be at articulating and persuading. And I don’t mean persuading you — I mean persuading the 10-15% of voters who are uncommitted swing voters and are ideologically quite a distance from the candidate. (from here)

Whereas advocates voting for the best candidate, advocates voting for the best person to be our president.

Which of them is right?

Back To That Preoccupation With Money

Which is right? or ? Before we try to answer that question, let’s consider a bit of conventional wisdom. Because Conservatives don’t want to pay the high taxes for their social programs, Socialists like to call Conservatives selfish and mean. Are Conservatives selfish and mean? Rarely do we closely examine what goes into this Socialist accusation. Unfortunately, most of the news media is of the modern Liberal or so-called Progressive persuasion. So when reporters see a problem, they soon magnify it into a massively dire problem, one that only a massive Federal Government program can fix. Of course, massive Federal Government programs don’t come cheap, and the fact they are generally quite poorly run does not help. After all, isn’t government waste the stuff of legend ( see here, here, and here)?

That being the case, why would we want any massive Federal Government programs, especially when there are other alternatives? That is, how do politicians persuade us to vote for massive Federal Government programs? Well, they use a variety of bait and switch schemes. Their favorite enticement is to offer to make the “rich” pay. This is in fact an age-old practice of demagogues, and it is one the framers of our Constitution specifically designed our system of government to thwart (see THE ADVANTAGE OF A REPUBLIC OVER A DEMOCRACY). Unfortunately, we have failed to heed the framers’ warnings and make the system they created work. We have found the bait too attractive. Each of us sees that big pile of money the Federal Government has at its disposal, and we want some.

Matthew 6:24 New King James Version (NKJV)

You Cannot Serve God and Riches

24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

What should we call trying to use the government to get at other people’s wealth? Isn’t it stealing? We don’t seem to think so. Yet consider several examples.

  • Most of the Federal budget goes into Social Security and Medicare, supposedly guaranteed retirement programs. Self-righteous politicians abused our sympathy with by setting up programs for old people who might not otherwise have enough for old age, and then they “borrowed” money from the programs and spent it. That’s is, the Social Security Trust Fund is empty. There is no money in it. So how does the scheme continue to “work”? Our leaders tax the young to pay for the retirement of the old. Unfortunately, because of Social Security people now want retire when they should be working. So we cannot even raise the retirement age so this stupid Ponzi scheme will continue to “work.” Therefore, our leaders will either have reduce benefits or just print worthless money.
  • David Boaz, in The Divide between Pro-Market and Pro-Business, observes that big business is always going to the government for handouts and special favors of some sort. He cites the bailout of Chrysler Corp. (1979) and that humongous 2008 Wall Street bailout as modern examples, and he points to the Chamber of Commerce as the big backer of such government largess.  Isn’t the Chamber for free enterprise? This clash between pro-market and pro-business is an old one.

    Adam Smith wrote “The Wealth of Nations” to denounce mercantilism, the crony capitalism of his day. Milton Friedman said at a 1998 conference: “There’s a common misconception that people who are in favor of a free market are also in favor of everything that big business does. Nothing could be further from the truth.” (from here)

    Just as some people are greedy for government handouts — Socialism — some greedy businessmen seek the advantages of government cronies —  Crony Capitalism.

  • We pay for schools, welfare programs, highways, sports stadiums, “art,” — we redistribute trillions of dollars of wealth — without blinking an eye. We spend trillions of dollars to finance activities that we use to finance privately. Why? How does government financing make it better? Is it the “fact” that it is somebody else’s money? Easy come. Easy go. And waste by the pork barrel.

Therefore, it seems that both and are right. We should be voting for the best person for the job. Unfortunately, because politicians know how to tempt us with “other people’s money,” unless we settle for a scoundrel of some sort, we cannot get a Republican elected. That’s why we have so much trouble with RINOs.

What Does Bigger Government Mean In Practice?

Rarely do we see a straightforward explanation of what excessive government spending and regulation means in practice. We hear about government debt piling up into the stratosphere, but few can explain what those numbers mean. What is the difference between owing 18-19 trillion dollars and owing over 200 trillion dollars? With complex explanations numbers in both ranges get floated about, but how many of us care? Is somebody going to throw us into jail for not paying this debt?

Therefore, we see the debt and the absurd waste as someone else’s problem, somebody else’s responsibility. Because it is so big it is just numbers, we can ignore that huge debt and the phenomenal waste. Ohhh, we will flippantly say we will never collect Social Security, but what do we do when a politician tries to cut “our” Social Security benefits? Don’t we vote that politician out?

The benefits are here and now. Because we can put them in our pockets, we pay attention to the benefits. The costs, vague and ill-defined, we can put off and ignore.  The costs to our soul, our children and grandchildren we can put off and ignore.

Proverbs 24:13-14 New King James Version (NKJV)

13 My son, eat honey because it is good,
And the honeycomb which is sweet to your taste;
14 So shall the knowledge of wisdom be to your soul;
If you have found it, there is a prospect,
And your hope will not be cut off.

For those who care to look, the costs are already evident. Don’t our schools already stink? Don’t we already vegetate in traffic for hours? Isn’t too much of what we buy made somewhere in China? Are we not suffering a deluge of poor immigrants, foreigners who expect us to speak their language and learn their ways? Is not our president an isolationist, abandoning the world to chaos, unwilling to spend money on anything except bribes: health, education, and welfare programs?

With every cent politicians spend — with every new regulation they create — our leaders steal another bit of our freedom. Increasingly, government controls how we earn our wealth, how we spend our wealth, and who gets our wealth.

  • We “invest” in housing. We give our money to bankers, developers, realtors,…. Shouldn’t we be investing a larger portion of our wealth in making our nation more productive and competitive? Can we all work in service industries?
  • We “invest” ever larger sums in public schools and colleges and give our money to bankers and educrats. Shouldn’t we be spending our money on private schools that actually give us some bang for our buck?
  • We continue to allow our currency to inflate, becoming ever less valuable. At one time it was profitable to track pennies. Now, if we find a penny on the ground, it is not worth the bother to pick it up. What does inflation do to our savings? When everything is made overseas, how will we be able to retire or get a job?

Future generations of Americans — if the government ever allows them learn the truth — will condemn us. In fact, the government may rightly teach them to condemn us. For the sake of spending somebody’s else’s money, future politicians may rightly say we sole ourselves and our children into slavery. Instead living off our own labors and taking responsibility for the education of our own children, we believed scoundrels. We trusted scoundrels who promised us a free education, freeways, inexpensive palatial homes, early retirements, appeased and passive enemies, and so much other rubbish. Future generations may rightly be taught how we let devious politicians con us, that some of those politicians took our money and ran and others put us and our progeny in the chains of debt slavery.

These later politicians will pile upon our children and grandchildren taxes so high and rules so onerous they can never get ahead, but so what? After all, will they not have learned from our example? We cannot be trusted to rule ourselves.

Conclusion

We still have the opportunity to prove the pundits and the politicians wrong. We don’t have to vote for politicians who promise to spend other people’s money on us. We can vote wisely. We don’t have to vote for the best candidate to win the election. We can vote for the best person for the job.

WHAT IS THE LAW OF THE LAND? — PART 4

Paul the Apostle, by Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn c. 1657
Paul the Apostle, by Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn c. 1657 (from here)

In the first post of this series, we took up the task of Defining The Law Of The Land. After that, we considered The Purpose Of The Law Of The Land. The last post focused upon the effect of what we believe. How do we achieve a consensus? What should be The Law Of The Land? That post considered The Means of Persuasion — Ethos, Pathos, and Logos.

Here we will look at our leadership, but first a diversion.

Fun On A Saturday Afternoon

On Saturday afternoon, I attended Delegate Bob Marshall‘s Campaign Kick-Up” Event (Virginians will vote on November 3, 2015.). It was fun, good food, dancing, and politics.  Got to watch Delegate Marshall dance with his lady, Cathy, and Senator Dick Black dance with his lady, Barbara. That obviously made the ladys happy. Now my wife is after me to dance. Oh well….

I was there for the food and the politics. In addition to Delegate Marshall, Congressman Rob Wittman, Senator Black, Supervisor Jeanine Lawson, and Willie Deutsch (candidate for Member School Board – COLES DISTRICT) spoke. Clerk of the Court Michele B. McQuigg also attended. McQuigg surprised Marshall a bit when she declined to speak, but she did had little reason to do so. Wittman and Marshall both spoke glowingly of her, and she obviously supports Marshall. And there were plenty of good speeches.

Strangely, however, what I found most memorable was a speech not given by a politician. Instead, the fellow giving the invocation made the most powerful statement, and his quotes of Charles Finney and Noah Webster formed the core of his speech. I then decided quotations from those two gentleman would form the core of this post.

Why Must We Choose A New Leadership?

Many wise and learned men have written about the problem of finding good leadership for a republic. That includes why we must be careful.

In 1838, Abraham Lincoln gave this address, The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions: Address Before the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois (January 27, 1838). Here is an excerpt.

It is to deny, what the history of the world tells us is true, to suppose that men of ambition and talents will not continue to spring up amongst us. And, when they do, they will as naturally seek the gratification of their ruling passion, as others have so done before them. The question then, is, can that gratification be found in supporting and maintaining an edifice that has been erected by others? Most certainly it cannot. Many great and good men sufficiently qualified for any task they should undertake, may ever be found, whose ambition would inspire to nothing beyond a seat in Congress, a gubernatorial or a presidential chair; but such belong not to the family of the lion, or the tribe of the eagle. What! think you these places would satisfy an Alexander, a Caesar, or a Napoleon?–Never! Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored.–It sees no distinction in adding story to story, upon the monuments of fame, erected to the memory of others. It denies that it is glory enough to serve under any chief. It scorns to tread in the footsteps of any predecessor, however illustrious. It thirsts and burns for distinction; and, if possible, it will have it, whether at the expense of emancipating slaves, or enslaving freemen. Is it unreasonable then to expect, that some man possessed of the loftiest genius, coupled with ambition sufficient to push it to its utmost stretch, will at some time, spring up among us? And when such a one does, it will require the people to be united with each other, attached to the government and laws, and generally intelligent, to successfully frustrate his designs. (from here)

Note that Lincoln speaks of only the chief leader. He predicted that some leaders would be controlled with only the greatest difficulty, and we now have a leader who speaks brazenly of the power of his phone and his pen. Yet what is our real problem? Is President Barack Obama a man possessed of the loftiest genius, or is it that at every level of public office we have elected unscrupulous men and women? Thus, when our president does not fulfill the obligations of his office — when he violates his oath and breaks The Law Of The Land — he finds support. Therefore, we cannot stop him. We cannot even slow him down. And so our leader, the leader of the world’s most powerful nation, has set the whole world in turmoil, and we can only watch the unraveling.

fatter_disaster

What have we failed to do?

Some call Charles Finney the Father of American revivalism. Whether he was such or not, Finney spoke at a time preachers were willing to speak of politics.

The church must take right ground in regard to politics. Do not suppose, now, that I am going to preach a political sermon, or that I wish to have you join and get up a Christian party in politics. No, I do not believe in that. But the time has come that Christians must vote for honest men, and take consistent ground in politics, or the Lord will curse them. They must be honest men themselves, and instead of voting for a man because he belongs to their party, Bank or Anti-Bank, Jackson, or Anti-Jackson, they must find out whether he is honest and upright, and fit to be trusted. They must let the world see that the church will uphold no man in office, who is known to be a knave, or an adulterer, or a Sabbath-breaker, or a gambler. Such is the spread of intelligence and the facility of communication in our country, that every man can know for whom he gives his vote. And if he will give his vote only for honest men, the country will be obliged to have upright rulers. . . . As on the subject of slavery and temperance, so on this subject, the church must act right or the country will be ruined. God cannot sustain this free and blessed country, which we love and pray for, unless the church will take right ground. Politics are a part of religion in such a country as this, and Christians must do their duty to the country as a part of their duty to God. It seems sometimes as if the foundations of the nation were becoming rotten, and Christians seem to act as if they thought God did not see what they do in politics. But I tell you, he does see it, and he will bless or curse this nation, according to the course they take. (from here)

Was Finney right? Is politics part of the religion in a country such as this? All I know is that who we vote for reflects a moral choice. When fail to vote for the welfare of our family, friends, neighbors, and countrymen — when we vote selfishly — God cannot sustain us as a free and blessed country.

Noah Webster is famous as a lexicographer for his commitment to education. He stated our obligation as voters this way.

When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers, “just men who will rule in the fear of God.” The preservation of government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty; if the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made, not for the public good so much as for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizens will be violated or disregarded. If a republican government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws. (from here)

So what should we do? How should we select good leaders? Fortunately for us, the Bible offers us some good advice. A couple of thousand years ago, here is what the Apostle Paul told a young protegé about selecting leaders for the church in Ephesus, which was then a corrupt city.

1 Timothy 3:1-7 Good News Translation (GNT)

Leaders in the Church

This is a true saying: If a man is eager to be a church leader, he desires an excellent work. A church leader must be without fault; he must have only one wife, be sober, self-controlled, and orderly; he must welcome strangers in his home; he must be able to teach; he must not be a drunkard or a violent man, but gentle and peaceful; he must not love money; he must be able to manage his own family well and make his children obey him with all respect. For if a man does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of the church of God? He must be mature in the faith, so that he will not swell up with pride and be condemned, as the Devil was. He should be a man who is respected by the people outside the church, so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the Devil’s trap.

We tend to overlook Paul’s advice and think only of church leaders. Yet our nation’s borders envelope thousands of churches. Our political leaders ensure the morality of our laws. Like it or not, our leaders impose their values upon society. When our leaders are immoral, they endanger our own values and the values of our family, friends and country.

We also may think of Paul’s advice as quaint, not appropriate for today.  For example, when Paul wrote this passage, he wrote to people who would not have seriously considered women as leaders. Paul, however, appointed women to positions of trust, and he readily accepted their help. As 1 Corinthians 9 explains, Paul adapted to the culture of each people he visited. He wanted people to listen to when he preach the Gospel, not argue over side issues.

1 Corinthians 9:22-23 Good News Translation (GNT)

22 Among the weak in faith I become weak like one of them, in order to win them. So I become all things to all people, that I may save some of them by whatever means are possible.

23 All this I do for the gospel’s sake, in order to share in its blessings.

Thanks to a couple of thousand years of such patient Christian teaching, in this country we no longer allow men to select themselves to lead by using the point of their swords. Instead, we vote. Hence, each Christian now has an obligation to demonstrate how a Christian should participate in politics. When we support our candidates, and when we vote, we can put Paul’s words to action. We can back the candidate we would most like to have in charge of our church. If he (or she) is not fit for that job, he probably won’t do a good job as a leader of our county, our city, our state or our country.

Character does matter.

Do people cling to certain religions based on where they were raised? — Reblogged

Aurora, by Guercino, 1621-23: the ceiling fresco in the Casino Ludovisi, Rome, is a classic example of Baroque illusionistic painting (from here)
Aurora, by Guercino, 1621-23: the ceiling fresco in the Casino Ludovisi, Rome, is a classic example of Baroque illusionistic painting (from here)

I started to leave a comment at this post: Do people cling to certain religions based on where they were raised? by The Isaiah 53:5 Project.

An objection to Christianity I hear all the time is one that suggests faith is based less on reason and truth and more on geography, cultural influences, and traditions. In other words, if a person were to grow up in America they would likely be a Christian while a person growing up in Baghdad will likely be a Muslim.

While this argument might seem to have some merit, its true goal is to cast doubt on the truth of Christianity and question the intellectual honesty or intelligence of believers who claim to believe in Christianity based on the truth of its claims. (continued here)

My intent was to reply to this comment.

Ken Thackerey

“Surely, no one can take beliefs that were handed down to them by their parents seriously especially when there are so many religious options, can they?”

You took the words right out of my mouth. I think the vast majority of theists simply absorb the beliefs of their parents and never seriously question them. Those who eventually do question them, usually de-convert.unless coerced and threatened by their “belief system”.

Then, when my reply started to grow, I decided to make a post of it. So here it is.

@The Isaiah 53:5 Project

Great post!

@Ken Thackerey

Surely, no one can take beliefs that were handed down to them by their parents seriously especially when there are so many religious options, can they?

History argues against the notion that people just believe what their parents believe. Contemplate the number of religious movements that have rapidly spread across large nations and even the globe. Sometimes they spread by word of mouth. Sometimes they spread with the aid of brute force, but spread they did and do.

Examples include widely diverse beliefs and ideologies such as Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Communism, Islam, Christianity, and…. Even within Christianity, we had the Protestant Reformation, and suddenly people wanted something different. When Martin Luther spoke of justification by faith, many understood the significance of those words, took them to heart, and struggled to put them into practice.

In the years that proceeded the birth of Jesus Christ, the Roman Empire, a pagan masterpiece, encompassed much of the known world. What is paganism? It was the science of the time, and it was the atheism of the time. When the Romans conquered a country, they adopted that nation’s gods. They add these new gods to their own and congratulated themselves as open-minded. To the minds of the Romans, the gods were tools they could manipulate. They did not really understand their gods, but much like the black boxes we call computers, they had instructions. Follow the instructions, make the proper sacrifices, flatter the gods correctly, and the gods performed.

The Jews? The Jews the Romans regarded as closed minded. Only one God? For similar reasons they detested the Christians. Yet both the Jews and the Christians survived the hatred of the Romans.

Why does Christianity seem to be floundering in our time? We have been taught to judge a thing by how well it works for us. Earlier generations understood God permits no such nonsense. God is our Father, and we are His children. Commonsense demands obey Him. When Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, He freed us to serve (1 Corinthians 7:21-24), not to be God.

God demands we serve Him without reservation, and that sounds scary. Hence, we study the Bible reluctantly, and we send our children to public schools where the Bible is a dreaded and abhorred competitor (Politicians want our hearts, minds, and souls too.). Instead of learning about the Bible and its influence of upon the events of the last two millennia, we allow strangers to teach our children to pretend they know what it is in the Bible and to pretend it does not matter. Thus, we get atheists, open-minded souls who howl about the closed-minded, superstitious Christians. Thus, we get atheists who argue among themselves over the best approach to extinguishing Christianity.

Should be easy to convert everyone to militant atheism, right? Isn’t Atheism the one true faith? Yet for some reason, Christianity stubbornly persists. Why? Atheist converts are not converts to anything. They are still what they were before.When people deconvert from Christianity, it is because they never Christian converts.