President Barack Obama delivers a statement on Ukraine in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, March 6, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama delivering a statement in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, March 6, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Unlike the previous posts in this series, here we will consider a technique instead of the abuse of a particular word. Here we will consider how loaded words divide us. We will begin by defining the expression, “loaded words”.  Then we will discuss some examples of how loaded words are being used. Finally, we will consider how some people are dividing us by so corrupting the language that every word we use is becoming loaded.

Defining The Expression

Let’s begin by defining the expression “loaded words”. Here is a straightforward definition from Yahoo! Answers.

What are “Loaded Words”?

Loaded words are words (or phrases) which have strong emotional overtones or connotations and which evoke strongly positive (or negative) reactions beyond their literal meaning.

Unloaded Loaded
Plant Weed
Animal Beast

While few words have no evaluative overtones, “plant” is a primarily descriptive term. “Weed”, in contrast, has essentially the same descriptive meaning as “plant”, but a negative evaluative meaning, as well. A weed is a plant of which we disapprove.

The Fallacy Files provides examples of fallacious reasoning.  That includes the post Loaded Words. Here is the crux of it.

Loaded language is a subfallacy of Begging the Question, because to use loaded language fallaciously is to assume an evaluation that has not been proved, thereby failing to fulfill the burden of proof. For this reason, Jeremy Bentham dubbed this fallacy “Question-Begging Epithets”.

In other words, with loaded words we give our judgement of a person, a place, an animal, a vegetable or a thing. If we use a loaded word just to concisely state an opinion (Crabgrass is a weed.), that is an appropriate usage. On the other hand, if we use a loaded word to “win” an argument, that’s not logical. Sometimes it is utterly comical.

Peacock_terms (from here)
Peacock_terms (from here)

Arguments With And Over Words

Politics, sales, and life itself revolves around persuading others to accept our judgement. If we can get the other to accept and to adopt our language — to use the same loaded words we use — logical or not we win the argument. Hence the importance of loaded words.

Here is a clear and unambiguous example, Does it matter if Obama uses the term ‘Islamic terrorism’? The expression “Islamic terrorism” suggests that Islam is part of the problem the problem of terrorism. Hence Donald Trump, who endorses the phrase, wants to stop immigration from Islamic nations, and Barack Obama, who will not concede that Islam is part of the problem, refuses to use the phrase “Islamic terrorism”.

So it is that when we debate issues, we carefully use loaded words. That includes labeling ourselves and each other. In addition, we label our work and the things we produce. Consider.

  • Trying to associate themselves with our nation’s founders, Democrats use to call themselves Liberal. Then, after they had fouled term “Liberal”, they started calling themselves “Progressives”. What’s next? This article, Democratic voters increasingly embrace the ‘liberal’ label – especially whites, Millennials and postgrads, demonstrates how short our memories can be.
  • Some Atheists try to associate themselves with the word “reason”.  Hence some Atheists rallied under the banner of Reason.
  • This one is kind of funny.  RationalWiki.org has a prominent post that defines Loaded language. Given the title of their website, they should know.
  • Here in Loaded Words we have a discussion of how we should label Dylann Storm Roof, the man who walked into a church in Charleston, South Carolina and murdered nine black parishioners.
  • Here in Loaded Words we have a discussion of the problems scientists have naming a new biotechnology or biomedical process.

    The terms that scientists and researchers select to name a new biotechnology or biomedical process can impact the public’s perception of the advance and willingness to consider its potential clinical utility. Terms such as “cloning” or “gene editing” are not ethically neutral. In fact, while the use of these terms may be provocative and increase readership of news stories and even articles in peer-reviewed journals, such value-laden names may directly impact the ethical acceptability of new technologies as well as government policies related to these innovations. (continued here)

Identity Politics

In a free society, we each have the right to do as we wish so long as we do not infringe upon the rights of others. That is, if it is not illegal, you and I can do it. Thus, in a free country we can pursue our own definition of happiness, but we cannot force others either to participate in or to condone our actions. In fact, others have the right to disapprove of our behavior. Therefore, if we defy social conventions or customs, those who disapprove can subject us to various forms of censure including ostracism and shaming. Generally, the people of a healthy community discourage antisocial behavior primarily by enforcing local customs. Because it is costly and inflexible, legal action is usually the last resort.

Unfortunately, communities sometimes abuse their social powers. Therefore, the Federal Government has stepped in to “fix things”. So our once relatively healthy society is suffering an epidemic of identity politics. That is, instead of treating all people equally before the law, government leaders now think it is their job to provide  “special” constituencies “special” protection.  How does that involve loaded words?

  • We regularly hear our leaders using a slew of loaded words we associate with identity politics: discrimination, bigotry, profiling, hate crime, favoritism, civil rights, affirmative action, equal treatment, harassment, and so forth.
  • We regularly hear our leaders glorify identity politics with loaded words: diversity, multiculturalism, tolerance, rainbow, social justice, healing, and so forth.
  • Nobody wants to be seen as intolerant.
  • Everyone, especially businesses, are afraid of being sued.
  • We make a Federal case out of everything.
  • We have way too many lawyers and numerous other people using identity politics as their cash cow.
  • We cannot think objectively, especially when our identity is involved.

So it is that in the name of diversity, we do some strange things. Here is a personal example. Years ago I wrote Reviling Christian Fundamentalism. What that post explains is how and why I discriminated against Christians.  Thanks to indoctrination with the load words “Jesus freak”, I had bigoted opinion of Christians Fundamentalists.

Here is something more recent (what inspired this post). This past week I watched an exchange between two female bloggers. First LeeLee wrote Of Course Women Are Objects, and insanitybytes22 responded with “Women as Objects?” Trying to explain herself,  then wrote Aftercare. In comments on each others blogs, and debated fiercely, but — why?

Neither nor argued women should be treated as sex objects. Instead, they argued over whether people are objects. Since resolving their dispute is not germane to this post, I have no interest in taking sides. What I want my readers to observe is that the loaded words “sex object” are so powerful that these loaded words prevented the ladies from participating in a worthwhile discussion.

Some call our era the Information Age, but Propaganda Age seems more accurate. Thanks to a proliferation of twisted words, we have more and more trouble understanding each other.

Relief For The Disconnected: Conclusion

What do loaded words like “Jesus freak” and “sex object” do? Either they push us apart, or they express just how disconnected we are.

Dictionary.com defines people as objects. Even my 1956 edition of Funk & Wagnalls’ New Practical Standard Dictionary of the English Language suggests human beings are objects. Yet as objects we each stand alone. As objects we see only from our own point of view. As objects we know only of our own needs.

In this Propaganda Age, words storm and rage. Words toss us about. We drift apart and collide violently. Our flesh is too weak; it has no power to resist.

John 6:63 New King James Version (NKJV)

63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

The Bible, the Word of God, speaks to our spirit, the spirit within our flesh. Thus, the Bible anchors us. When storms of words disquiet our souls, we need to turn to our Lord and His Word.


For more posts in this series please see OF TWISTED WORDS => FEMINISM.


  1. Very thoughtful brother. The appeal to our unity in God inspires. It’s only incidentally humerous that you cite Jeremy Bentham, the father of Utilitarianism, or basically the ideology behind Socialism, but that is neither here nor there.

    However, what does it really mean to use loaded words and propaganda to elicit such a subliminal judgement that emotionally divides, ostracizes, shames, condemn and excludes? Is only one side guilty of this?

    In his homily today at the Mass at Our Lady of Grace in Chelsea, MA, the father said something that perhaps puts in a more revealing light our use of hate filled and prejudiced loaded words and dog whistles. The priest said that we have no right to exclude others based on culture or race or religion or sexual identity. It is not our church. It is God’s church. And God welcomes and embraces all, especially the sinful, with infinite mercy and love.

    Can we, as fellow followers of Jesus, be truly virtuous enough to begin our every conflict of culture, of theology or of ideology with the grace of God’s love and thus with openness and understanding, mercy and forgiveness rather jumping immediately to judgement and condemnation? Is our conceit such that we honestly believe that our particular culture, our individual theological beliefs and our personal revelation of an infinite God has really reached such a zenith of unity with an infinite God in one holy church that we can actually jump to judgements of others?

    I don’t claim to know, but I think that the answer, infinitely unfamthomable to us, begins and ends somehow with God’s love. God is the end that like a magnet causes and draws into some perfect and mysterious unity all the right beginnings, the beginnings that launch out with love and compassion for all, even for our enemies. The end and the beginning are a unity of the same one God. God is calling us to love on our own journey from Him to Him.

    I think what the good father at Mass today was saying is that we get to that unity of God by being open, by opening the doors to His church. It’s not our church, it’s God’s church, just as it is not our minds, and we don’t have the right to close the doors to either of them. Perhaps that is what you are trying to say in your own way as well.


  2. @Tony

    Hello. I hope you are enjoying this 4th of July weekend. Thank you for your comment.

    If you look up the post I cited where Jeremy Bentham’s name, there is no link to Bentham’s bio. I looked up Jeremy Bentham. In the same paragraph, I also added the link to the post on “Begging the Question”. That uses a paragraph advocating the pro-life position as an example.

    So why did I cite “The Fallacy Files”? I try to be an advocate, not a mere propagandist. Do you want to read posts where the author refuses to admit there is another side to the argument? Your second paragraph suggests otherwise.

    Is only one side guilty of “this”? Does only one side emotionally divide, ostracize, shame, condemn and exclude? Of course not. Sometimes ostracism, shame, condemnation and exclusion is even appropriate. Why do you think we have prisons?

    However, the issue this post focuses on is the connection between loaded words and identity politics. In this country, identity politics is quite clearly the business of the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is an organization devoted to dividing us. The Democratic Party is an organization devoted to the acquisition of power. After all, the Constitution does not give the Democratic Party enough power to implement Socialism, and the power that Socialism would give it is what the Democratic Party craves.

    What about what the father said at that Catholic Church in Chelsea, MA? Given your own words, he was talking about the Catholic Church. Every Christian Church is supposed to be filled with sinners. Until we realize we are sinners, it does not do any good to go to church. Hence even repentant thieves, fornicators, rapists, murderers, blasphemers, and so forth belong in a church. The sincerely repentant, regardless of the sin, should ALL BE WELCOMED in a Christian church.

    So what is the point of your comment? My guess is that you are trying to justify identity politics, but that is a fool’s errand. To provide “special” protections for “special” constituencies just corrupts our government.

    Our government exists to protect our God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To do that, our government has to treat us all the same, give us equal justice, not “special” justice.

    So what about the answer this question?

    Can we, as fellow followers of Jesus, be truly virtuous enough to begin our every conflict of culture, of theology or of ideology with the grace of God’s love and thus with openness and understanding, mercy and forgiveness rather jumping immediately to judgement and condemnation? Is our conceit such that we honestly believe that our particular culture, our individual theological beliefs and our personal revelation of an infinite God has really reached such a zenith of unity with an infinite God in one holy church that we can actually jump to judgements of others?

    In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told us to judge others as would be judged. When we recite The Lord’s Prayer, we ask the Father to forgive us of our sins as we forgive others. We don’t ignore sin; we abhor sin. Yet just as Jesus was we strive to be full of grace and truth.

    Are the teachings in the Bible what God would have us believe? The Book of Hebrews repeatedly tells us that Jesus is better, and it explains why. If we believe the Bible is the Word of God, then it is no conceit to believe Jesus Chris is our savior, that we must follow His example.

    If we believe the Bible, then it is silly to argue in favor of identity politics. The Bible says repeatedly that showing such partiality is not good.
    (FYI: Since you are a Catholic, I updated the link to a version of the Bible that contains the extra books that Catholics added.)


  3. Given the scriptural readings of the Mass today, and given the underlying unifying meaning of his homily, I took it that the father was referring to “the church” not as any particular Christian Church, such as the Catholic Church, but as the “Body of Christ” in the most ecumenically inclusive sense of that profound and loaded-with-meaning phase. Put differently, the priest might just as well have been saying that I should not ostracize and exclude others from our common Christian fellowship and love based on those other’s race, religion, culture or custom because it is not “my” Christianity – it is Christ’s Christianity, not “my” Body of Christ (although I try to be one with that sacred Body) but Jesus’ Body of Christ.

    As for your critique of “Identity Politics”, if by that you mean the politics which divide us into armed camps based on culture, ideology, race, religion, etc., then I took it that that kind of dividing rhetoric is sort of the opposite of the unifying love and understanding that the good father was advocating at Mass in Chelsea today. If your position is that we should not use loaded words or race, culture and religion baiting phrases to needlessly divide “us against them,” then it does not sound like yours and the reverend father’s positions on this are that very different, are they?

    As for Democrats being inherently more or less culpable of such identity politics than the Republicans, or as for Obama being more or less guilty than Trump of using loaded words to foment such disunity, well the minute that we begin such an argument then haven’t we ourselves taken the bait and fallen into the trap that you and the good father seem to both be lamenting?

    Wouldn’t it be nice if our default reaction were to find where we agree rather than searching for disagreement? Couldn’t we begin with the humility that no one of us has a perfect understanding of God’s infinitely profound unity of purpose and love, but that we can all of us from all cultures and religions love each other and learn from each other? It always seems that it is so much easier to see someone else’s sins, some other religion’s heresies, some other culture’s fatal flaws, some other political party’s ideological fallacies, than it is to see our common humanity, which includes the banality of common sins, a shared imperfection of sacred revelatory interpretations, nearly identical forms of moral cultural rot and mirror images of party political demagogues and demagogueries. Instead of what we hate about “the other” which is often just the a strawman for what we hate in ourselves, why don’t we instead begin with the love we share with one another and with the universal love of a merciful God?

    Happy 4th to you too brother.


    1. @Tony

      Happy 4th to you and yours too!

      I have already addressed the content of your first paragraph. We are all sinners. Repentant sinners should be welcomed in any Christian church. You have a problem with the word repentant? Who doesn’t?

      You don’t understand the meaning of identity politics? Dictionary.com actually has a decent definition.

      identity politics, noun, ( used with a singular or plural verb)

      political activity or movements based on or catering to the cultural, ethnic, gender, racial, religious, or social interests that characterize a group identity. (from => http://www.dictionary.com/browse/identity-politics?s=t)

      When Democrats engage in identity politics, their object is to use government power to cater to certain interest groups. When Democrats cater to specific interest groups, our nation as a whole loses out. Just as Jesus did, we are to point out and condemn such behavior.

      Are Democrats more or less guilty of identity politics than the Republicans? Why do you think the subject is getting under your skin?

      Is complaining about the evil that people do wrong? If you see a thief stealing, a man abusing child, catch an associate embezzling from the company, and so forth; what are you going to do, ignore it for the fear you might use loaded words? Are you kidding?

      The problem with identity politics is that Democrats set out to divide people. They are not trying to end racism, for example. They are trying to keep the black vote by perpetuating racism into eternity.

      Wouldn’t it be nice if our default reaction were to find where we agree rather than searching for disagreement?

      Agreement is not the objective. The object is to know the Truth.

      So that we each might discover the Truth for ourselves, we have the rights to the life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Big Government — the Identity Politics and the Socialism peddled by politicians such as those who make up the Democratic Party — threatens our rights. More and more our leaders, even those in the Republican Party, make no pretense their oath to uphold the Constitution is sacred to them. Instead, they have their pens and their phones.


  4. “Some call our era the Information Age, but Propaganda Age seems more accurate.” Oh my goodness do we live in an age of propaganda, eh? It’s always been there with “yellow journalism” and such but the quickness of getting our news or even the ability to create it ourselves has of course drastically increased this.

    Good and important post here Citizen Tom. I guess the solution starts with ourselves in being more mindful on the messages we want to convert and the words we use to do it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Tricia

      There are plenty of people who think their most important right is the right to vote for a candidate for high office. So they vote for the president, and they are done with all their civic responsibilities. Well, as strange as it may seem I think our civic duties begin as you suggest, “with ourselves in being more mindful on the messages we want to convert and the words we use to do it.”

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Tom,

    Something that you wrote in your earlier comment seemed to get to the crux of your and it seems other Christian’s misunderstanding of what the good father in Chelsea was appealing to, and, for that matter, what Pope Francis has been preachimg lately:

    “What about what the father said at that Catholic Church in Chelsea, MA? Given your own words, he was talking about the Catholic Church. Every Christian Church is supposed to be filled with sinners. Until we realize we are sinners, it does not do any good to go to church. Hence even repentant thieves, fornicators, rapists, murderers, blasphemers, and so forth belong in a church. The sincerely repentant, regardless of the sin, should ALL BE WELCOMED in a Christian church.”

    This, as you allude, begs the meaning of what it means for a given individual or group to be “repentant” enough to be welcomed into a Christian fellowship. Because “repentant” implies a preceeding sin, or an ongoing sinfulness, and sin itself is a very individual thing between that person and God, that also requires a certain amount of knowledge and intent, who gets to judge if someone else’s actions, thoughts or beliefs are indeed sin? You? The Church? God? Obviously, someone’s actions may be harmful, illegal or just repugnant to us personally, and, in order to protect ourselves and society, we may also need to punish and separate that person from society (which is not at all the same the as separation from the Church), but who gets to judge another person’s sins such that that person should be ostracized from our Christian fellowship? Who among us is so without sin that we get to cast stones?

    Secondly, assuming somehow we know there is a sin against us or against God, when are we required to forgive? Jesus asked God from the cross to forgive even his crucifiers because they did not understand what they were doing was perhaps the worst sin ever. How do we know those that we disagree with (especially on a nebulous political level) understand that they are sinning, and regardless, shouldn’t we still forgive them, if not for their sake, then for ours?

    Finally, even if we could somehow judge that another person, such as President Obama or Mr. Trump, has sinned against God, who gets to decide if they are sufficiently “repentant” of their actions and opinions to be afforded God’s infinite loving mercy so that we as Christians can once again welcome them into “God’s Church”? You? A given Church’s leadership?

    How much is the Christian required to be loving, welcoming and understanding of even the most obviously unrepentant sinners in an effort to redeem that person or that group to God’s loving grace?

    You are confused if you think that the appeal to openness here means that we all don’t have a responsibility to have an opinion about what is sin and what is repentance, and to debate that theological opinion with vehement Christian affection for those who we hope to be redeemed by God. However, what has been emphasized by Pope Francis is that we do not let our own dogmatic pride turn us to such a tempest of hate and exclusion that it overwhelms the welcoming message of good news, of love, and of joy, that it is to turn to God. As the song goes, “they will know we are Christians by our love.”


    1. @Tony

      Well, thank you for another comment.

      If someone sins without any desire for repentance — if they even encourage others to sin — why would they want to be in a church? It may be that they want to be justified in their sin by the church, or that they want to undermine the church. In either event, their presence in the church is more hurtful than helpful. If you read 1-3 John, then you may have observed what the Apostle John had to say about apostates. We are to have nothing to do with supporting their work.

      Matthew 28:16-20 describes the mission of the Christian Church. We are to go out and win souls for Jesus Christ. When we include apostates and advocates for practices the Bible prohibits among our ranks, we make our mission unnecessarily difficult. Because we behave as hypocrites, we court failure instead of success.

      Matthew 7:1-6 provides what Jesus had to say about judging others. Jesus warned us against judging others, explaining that we will be judged as we judge others. Thus, we must set aside our pride. We can only judge the behavior (not the souls) of others, and we must judge (for our own sake) with grace and mercy.

      Nevertheless, sometimes we must judge; we must separate ourselves from dogs and swine.

      John 8 contains a passage about an adulteress “caught in the act” that may be confusing you. The passage is very odd. Few read it without puzzlement, and I am no exception. So I will quote from Matthew Henry’s Commentary.

      At last he put them all to shame and silence with one word: He lifted up himself, awaking as one out of sleep (Ps. 78:65), and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

      First, Here Christ avoided the snare which they had laid for him, and effectually saved his own reputation. He neither reflected upon the law nor excused the prisoner’s guilt, nor did he on the other hand encourage the prosecution or countenance their heat; see the good effect of consideration. When we cannot make our point by steering a direct course, it is good to fetch a compass.

      Secondly, In the net which they spread is their own foot taken. They came with design to accuse him, but they were forced to accuse themselves. Christ owns it was fit the prisoner should be prosecuted, but appeals to their consciences whether they were fit to be the prosecutors.

      a. He here refers to that rule which the law of Moses prescribed in the execution of criminals, that the hand of the witnesses must be first upon them (Deut. 17:7), as in the stoning of Stephen, Acts 7:58. The scribes and Pharisees were the witnesses against this woman. Now Christ puts it to them whether, according to their own law, they would dare to be the executioners. Durst they take away that life with their hands which they were now taking away with their tongues? would not their own consciences fly in their faces if they did.

      Note that the scribes and Pharisees caught the woman in the act. Yet where was the man?

      So how are we to deal with unrepentant sinners. In 1 Corinthians 5, the Apostle Paul gave instructions to the church in Corinth as to how they should separate themselves from a man who was having sex with his father’s wife. Latter, when the man repented, Paul instructed the church in Corinth to allow the man back into their company. If you wish to know how it is done, please consider those chapters.

      The goal, Tony, is to save souls, not to hate or to punish anyone. Therefore, we discourage behavior that grieves the Holy Spirit. Because we love our Lord, we hate and avoid sin. To please our Lord, we strive for words and deeds full of love, grace, and mercy.

      Do we forgive? Whether the sinner repents or not, we forgive. We forgive so that the hatred of another human being does not ensnare us. We forgive for our own benefit. Vengeance is of the Lord. He will judge. He alone has the right to judge the souls of men.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The following two paragraphs is a beautiful quote from a commentary on a homily that Pope France delivered at Mass which specifically addressed John (8:1-11):

    “How many of us would deserve to be condemned! And it would even be just. Yet he forgives!”. How?, the Pope asked. “With this mercy”, which “does not eliminate sin: it is God’s forgiveness that eliminates it”, whereas “mercy goes goes beyond”. Pope Francis then compared God’s mercy to the sun: “we look at the sky, the many stars, but when the morning sun comes, we don’t see the stars. Such is the mercy of God: it is a great light of love, of tenderness”. For “God doesn’t forgive with a decree but with a caress”. He forgives by “caressing the wounds caused by our sins, because he is involved in forgiveness, is involved in our salvation”.

    This is Jesus’ style as a confessor, the Pope said. He does not humiliate the adulterous woman. “He does not say to her: what did you do, when did you do it, how did you do it and with whom did you do it!”. Instead, he tells her “to go and sin no more: God’s mercy is great, God’s mercy is great: forgiving us by caressing us”.

    The rest of the commentary is found here: http://m.vatican.va/content/francescomobile/en/cotidie/2014/documents/papa-francesco-cotidie_20140407_forgiveness-caress.html

    Throughout the Bible, Jesus appears as the material imbodiment of God’s radiant redeeming love and mercy. Do you think that only those sinners who first repented were allowed into Jesus’ presence, or instead, were sinners drawn to be repentant, and thus redeemed, because those sinners entered directly into the overwhelming presence of the “great light” of God’s infinite love made perfectly manifest in Jesus? This begs a further question: If only repentant sinners were welcomed into Jesus’ presence or were allowed the hear Him speak, would those sinners then (and we sinners now) have ever known the power of Jesus’ message, His Living Spirit, of God’s redemptive mercy and love that, once revealed to those sinners then and to us sinners now, inspires a return toward God, or in other words, towards that repentance? And further to the topic at hand, if the Church, “The Body of Christ”, does not, as Jesus demonstrates in the Bible, admit the unrepentant into the radiance of His presence, His Body, how will those sinners be drawn to the merciful light of God’s love that inspires such repentance and redemption?

    We are all sinners, repentant or not. We will all of us sin again despite our heartfelt repentance of our previous sins. This alone should give us pause in judging who to exclude, who to condemn, and who and what of other people’s sins to hate, or especially, in judging whether someone else’s repentance is sincere enough, or, for that matter even required by God. However, there is also a logical flaw to the whole concept of excluding people who are shivering in darkness from coming into Jesus’ warming light of redemptive love unless of course we somehow determine that they are already there. If the Pope is to be believed, then taking conflicting scriptural excerpts out of context with Jesus’ welcoming, understanding, loving redemptive divine nature is a misinterpretation of the overarching thematic biblical revelation of a loving and infinitely merciful God that consummates in Jesus Christ.


    1. @Tony

      I am taking entire passages and chapters of out context? The Jews and the Romans crucified Jesus. We probably would do the same today. Would they have crucified, would we crucify, the Jesus you want to believe in?

      Jesus endorsed the Old Testament. He endorsed a God who punishes sin. He died on a cross for our sins. He prayed at a garden in Gethsemane that He might not have to die, but it seems no other sacrifice was sufficient to redeem us.

      Jesus spoke harshly to the scribes and the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Like the Pope and other religious leaders, the scribes and the Pharisees and the Sadducees were religious leaders. Yet Jesus was unhappy with the scribes and the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and he repeatedly let them know it. They were legalistic and hypocritical. So Matthew 23 is scary. Revelation is scary too, and that punishment that Revelation describes is for all who refuse to believe in Him, not just a warning to legalistic and hypocritical religious leaders.

      You want an interesting study? Search the Gospels and see how often the word believe appears.

      We are justified by faith, by our belief in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We don’t have to do anything, but we must believe.

      The Book of James is a short, but very practical book. James observed.

      James 2:14-17 New King James Version (NKJV)

      14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

      If we believe, then our life will show it. If we don’t, it won’t.

      The church is supposed to represent the body of Christ (Colossians 1:24). We are suppose to spread the Gospel to the unsaved, even apostates and the unrepentant. We are suppose to help each other to grow in faith.

      The church is supposed to represent the body of Christ. When a church is filled with apostates and sinners known to be unrepentant, how can that church be the Body of Christ?

      Instead of quoting the Pope, why don’t you try reading the Bible? See if Pope is describing the Jesus of the Bible. See if the Truth matters more to God than love. See why love must be in Truth.


    1. @Tony

      I do not believe in love. God is love, but love is not God. I believe in God. I put my faith in God.

      I love because God is Holy. God loves us as His children. He loves us even though we are sinners.

      God is Holy. God is perfect. We are only sinners. Yet God is full of grace and mercy. Because we are sinners, and God just, we could not be His. So He redeemed us. He paid the price for our sins.

      God loved us enough to give His Son for our sake. Therefore, in gratitude I strive to do what God created us to do. I strive to love Him with all my heart, strength, mind, and soul, and I strive to love my neighbor as I love myself.

      Still, I do not believe in love. I believe in the One who is love.


      1. Citizen Tom wrote:Still, I do not believe in love. I believe in the One who is love.

        I know that one can semantically argue about what “believe in” means, but I confess that this comment saddened me.

        Despite my being a non-theist, my Lady and I shared three decades of the most wondrous love. As long as my mind functions, that can never be taken from me. That love was worth believing in, and the phrase does not always require that the subject be a faith or a divinity.

        ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

        Liked by 1 person

        1. @Keith

          I wish I was a better writer. I did not intend to denigrate the virtue of love. I intended to point to the One who created and gave us our capacity to love.

          One of the fundamental precepts taught by the Bible is the First Commandment.

          Exodus 20:3 New King James Version (NKJV)

          3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.

          If we worship any idol, even “Love”, we abuse the love and concern of the One who created us.

          Love is a precious gift, His gift to us. You loved your lady intensely? Then you have just a glimmer of understanding of how much He loves us.

          You are a creator. You put all your energy into your work. In time you understand every detail of what you craft. How it works. What it can do. Its virtues. The imperfections that gnaw at you. We are God’s creations.

          You have children. You made a home for them. With your lady you nurtured them, and you shared your love for them. You taught them virtue. You taught them how to love. We are our Maker’s children.

          When we love each other, and when we love our children, we begin to understand how God feels about us.

          Liked by 1 person

      1. Forgive me if I feel the need to continue this good natured discussion a little farther. Given all that is happening in the world, especially in the name of God, the truth about love is worthy of lively and affectionate discussion to determine where we can agree.

        If the point of a discussion is to dialectic discovery to arrive at some final agreed upon truth, then such a discussion much first agree on a commonality of terms and rules and premises. If one correspondent thinks that she is playing chess, but knows nothing about the game of poker, and the other correspondent believes that he is playing poker, but knows nothing about the game of chess, then the former calling “checkmate” is just a confusing exercise in futility. So where do we agree here?

        1. We are theists. And although the multiplicity of theological disagreements of what it means to be one continues to fracture geometrically since the Reformation, we are also Christians.

        Unfortunately, we should have much more to agree with each other in this regard than we have to disagree, but we often stumble constantly over the same complex disagreements so as not to reach (or return to) the more profound and elegantly simple agreements. In his wonderful book, “After Virtue”, Alasdair Macintyre, characterizes as “emotivism” this modern tendency to lack a common theological foundation and to atomize to the point where each individual, untethered from a shared understanding of revelation and theological philosophy, simply feels the need to do his own thing. This is such that our central political debate has devolved down to something both without any foundation or resolution. Macintyre characterizes it this way:

        “Those debates are often staged in terms of a supposed opposition between individualism and collectivism, each appearing in a variety of doctrinal forms. On the one side there appear the self-defined protagonists of individual liberty, on the other side the self-defined protagonists of planning and regulation, of the goods that are available through bureaucratic organization. But in fact what is crucial is that on which the contending parties agree, namely that there are only two alternative modes of social life open to us, one in which the free and arbitrary choices of individuals are sovereign and one in which the bureaucracy is sovereign, precisely so that it may limit the free and arbitrary choices of individuals. Given this deep cultural agreement, it is unsurprising that the politics of modern societies oscillate between a freedom which is nothing but a lack of regulation of individual behavior and forms of collectivist control designed only to limit the anarchy of self-interest. The consequences of a victory by one side or the other are often of the highest immediate importance; but, as Solzhenitzen has understood so well, both ways of life are in the long run intolerable. Thus the society in which we live is one in which bureaucracy and individualism are partners as well as antagonists. And it is in the cultural climate of this bureaucratic individualism that the emotivist self is naturally at home.”

        Because of their mutual agreement that it is the only argument, ironically the two sides constantly switch depending on the situation with one side arguing that certain social behaviors should be bureaucratically and collectively regulated while proclaiming certain economic behaviors should be freed to feral individualism, and the other side makes a similar ideological flip. Lacking, or as Macintyre would argue “having lost” centuries ago, common agreed upon universal foundational premises for ethics that can be situationally applied, we keep agreeing to have the same inane and unreconcilable argument, playing one side or the other depending on the issue. Given that common reasonable people don’t really want government to devolve into the hell-scrape that clear victory by one side of the arguemeant would bring, it would seem that it is time to change the argument and go back to things we agree upon, such as love and compassion, courage, honor, integrity and common decency.

        2. We share a common understanding that reason and logic leads to truth. Reason has its limitations, however, and it is this failure to understand reason’s logical limitations, both among theists and non-theists, that tends to lead atheists to irrationally creat their own God out of reason (requiring its own leap of faith beyond all logic) and that causes theists to seek to literalize and concretize sacred symbol and metaphor through the use of reason.

        The Christian theological heritage in Europe is such that reason was applied to Christian revelation through the rediscovery of pagan Greek philosophy (particularly Aristotle) during the high Middle Ages when translations and Muslim interpretations, such as the Avorist interpretation, became available. To paraphrase the most famous of those Muslim interpreters from which the Avorists derived their name, truth is truth, and where a scriptural interpretation defies reason, then it must be interpreted allegorically.

        Out of this revival of the Aristotle, Aquinas developed the brilliant rational that it is essentially the love of unmoved mover, the uncaused cause, the pure combined essence and existence that is God of all things that engenders and continuously sustains the universe. Aquinas did not define the undefinable, nor did he pretend to. Aquinas assumed God, and then said that, if such a being does exist then He must rationally have certain attributes given the empirical state of the universe. Because of its inherent limitations, contributions of philosophic reasoning to religion is theoretical rather than dogmatic, but it is highly illuminating to truth.

        Furthermore, applying hate to God would seem to be a rational non sequitur. Whereas the concept of God’s engendering and sustaining love is universal and not bound to the temporal, or in other words necessarily present in all times and places, else we would not even be here, hate implies the anthopromorphic application to a God who exists within and without time of an emotional attitude about something at a given time and place such that that time and place would then be unsustainable. That simple makes no rational sense under any rational concept of God.

        3. We believe that God has revealed Himself to humans through humans in the writings of Scripture. God has not revealed himself completely. That would be impossible. That revelation has also not been sudden or even linear, but teleological in nature. Finally, limitations of the symbology of language means that we get that revelation second, third or fourth hand, to the point of it being difficult for us today even to recognize and prioritize the importance of the revelation in a given passage.

        Although several translations and interpretive authorities are available, surely there should be one authority, for reasons of divine grace, that is accepted as closer to explaining the truth of a passage better than the others. Furthermore, the true revalotory importance of a given passage must also be measured by how it fits into total theological context and theme, and once again, it should not define reason.

        Can one simply read the Bible therefore, chose the interpretation that we like, and then, in keeping with today’s individualistic emotivism that Macintyre bemoans, come up with our own each scheme of interpretion and revelation, which constantly leads to a disunity and fragmentation of the Body of Christ, or should there be, along with a constant, understanding and accepting lively debate, also some acceptance that some authorities should be bowed to with some humility, and that some things cannot be known, so that an open and loving contrite heart is what is required?

        Thanks for your understanding.


        1. @Tony

          Thank you for another thoughtful comment.

          It seems you left the last letter off your email address. I added it so you could get your gravatar back.

          I am somewhat confused by your comment. Your last question suggests that you defer to some higher authority’s interpretation the Bible. Whose?

          I do not feel obligated to adopt another man’s interpretation sacred scripture. I don’t see any indication that God has given any man authority to serve as the final arbiter of His Word. Are some suppose to serve as Bible translators, theologians, and teachers? Yes, but we each have an obligation to study sacred scripture carefully and to compare notes. In our debates our task is to let the Bible itself serve as the final arbiter, to let the Bible explain itself. We should strive to put ourselves in the shoes of the men who wrote it. We should listen as those who first heard its words read aloud. We should beg God for understanding. We should not let another man with his own multitude of biases tell us what to believe and to think.

          Will we always come away in agreement? No, but that is just the way it is.

          1. The Bible is the Word of God. The Bible provides words of wisdom. Not all wish to be wise. Some will always cherry pick the Bible for the words they want to hear, and many will just ignore it.

          2. The Bible says different things to different people. Whenever we hear the words of another, what we understand their words to mean depends upon our own background and experience. Sometimes that is a good thing. Sometimes we are at a point in our lives when a passage in the Bible takes on a new meaning. Can a child understand the Bible the way his elders do? Often it is a bad thing. Our secular education and upbringing makes it difficult to take the Bible seriously, and many of us never recover from that.

          3. Except for God, there is no higher authority on the Bible. One of us? The Bible says we are in rebellion against God. Those who come to the Cross believe on Jesus and His Word. Those who come to the Cross submit to God’s authority. Those who come to the Cross beg forgiveness from their Creator. That is what I think it means to be a Christian. Yet until His Second Coming Jesus will not stand among us and rule over our disputes. Until His Second Coming, we can only choose as individuals to give our hearts over Christ.

          Hope you and yours are well.
          Love you brother.


  7. Sorry about the typos and misspellings. My excuse is that I wrote it on an IPad, but I should still probably proof a little better.


  8. I thought that avatar looked a little strange. Thanks.

    None of us get to read the Bible exactly how it was written by the men who wrote it and with a clear linguistic understanding of how that language has evolved over time, just as English has evolved from Latin and Celtic languages to the Old English of Chaucer to the Middle English of Sheakspere now. By “higher authority” I meant only something similar to what your are saying here, that every translation of every passage of the Bible attempts to interpret the symbology of the words of one very different language at a very different time to another. Also, every commentary on a given passage depends both on the expertise of the theologian and scholar, not only as to his technical and theological expertise, but also as to his or her own personal revelation of the Word of God, and quite frankly, sometimes people can’t help but have their own, or their own denomination’s, theological agendas.

    To some extent, we each get our personal revelation of the Word therefore, not directly, but through a mulitude of hands. I am not saying that God’s profound revelation of Himself in the Bible is not capapable coming through loud and clear to each of us, I’m just stating the obvious, that it does come to us necessarily through many other’s words and thoughts, that, unless we are theological experts graced with the perfect personal revelation, we bow to those authorities for understanding. Christianity did not happen yesterday. We don’t each of us have to completely reinvent that wheel.

    I’m not being critical of other denominations here by saying that as a Catholic who was raised as a Catholic, I seek understanding at the feet of more than 2000 years of sages and saints, as well as the theologians who exist today who have dedicated their lives to God. As you know, every Catholic Mass, with the exception of the interpretation of that scripture given in the Homily, is completely scripture. Just being there is a study and participation in scripture.


  9. It is odd sometimes how revelation of God in scripture works. After writing the post to you above, I hurried off to attend 11:00 Mass at “Our Lady of Sorrows” in Kansas City, Missouri. (Because my occupation puts me on the road most weekends, I end up attending Mass all over). The scriptural readings at Catholic Mass today were Deuteronomy 30:10-14 and Colossians 1:15-20. The Responsorial Psalms were from 69:14,17, 30-31, 36-37. And this culminated in the Gospel reading from Luke 10:25-37. The theme of the Mass today seemed to almost magically exemplify everything that I have so poorly been trying to convey to you here about how God wants us to love with welcomimg compassion and understanding, regardless of faith, culture or ethnicity.

    The entire set of readings are of course thematic. In Luke, Jesus’ responded to the one who wanted to catch Jesus in a trap by being “legalistic” about the law. Jesus’ socratian style response was both a culmination of the revelation of God from the Old Testament, but also a new revelation that is the “spirit” of the law revealed by the new covenant of love through Jesus that gives the old law life and relevant meaning, rather than legalistic rule oriented legalistic meaning. And in particular it is God’s universal sustaining love that Jesus is explaining as the living spirit of the law of love.

    I’m not qualified to explain this as well as it can be, so after looking at the readings, I look to an interpretation through 2000 years of Christian theology and revelation that is the Church, but the message seems clear to me: love. Love God with all your being and your neighbor with a compassionate, open, understanding and contrite heart, just as you would hope to be loved. This way of loving alone should help us avoid the trap of dismissing our neighbor by attacking him with judgemental, legalistic interpretations of scripture.

    I do not ask you to take my word for this for I am neither a theologian nor a saint. In fact I am very far from either. I am only, incompetently, repeating what I think better shepards in this journey of love than I have said. I’m not good at humility, but I’m trying to be able to let someone else smarter and more holy than me show me the way in the hope that God’s grace will eventually be revealed to me. Like I said, we don’t need, and perhaps can’t adequately reinvent this wheel ourselves, but we don’t have to. We have the Body of Christ present in the Church here to shepard us, if we can only be humble enough to do.


  10. @Tony

    Scripture seems to work that way. I am still astonished by the number of times I have heard a preacher talk about or found myself reading a passage in Bible study relevant to a subject I was already contemplating.

    Anyway, we can take anything to an absurd extreme. As an English major, you may find this post helpful in explaining how it works. => https://irtfyblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/29/grammar-lesson-as-and-and/

    I will take a look at the passages you quote, but there isn’t anything unusual or extreme about the way I have interpreted the Bible. What is peculiar is making love the focal point of the Bible instead of God.

    The Bible is the story of our redemption. Is John 3:16 important? Yes, but that verse is most significant because it contains the word “God”. Without God, that God who so loved the world, we would all be going to Hell.

    Read https://citizentom.com/2016/07/09/love-is-it-our-chief-idol-or-our-most-prized-virtue/

    If that post doesn’t make enough sense, perhaps part 2 will do the trick.


  11. Perhaps you misunderstand and are trying to make this a strawman for some other point that you wish to make, however, I really can’t remember saying or quoting any authority that says that love should come before God. That would be kind of absurd. It would be making a statement of untruth if for no other reason than because it emphasises the predicate which derives all its power and authority from the sublime subject. The true and arguable most important thematic statement of Bible is “God loves” and so should we love God and each other, not just some stand alone “loves” – that is not only silly, but also it’s unintelligible.

    The scriptural passages referred to state that love is God’s central commandment, arguably, as you have said elsewhere, the one commandment from which all other virtues derive their authority. Love, full stop, does not sustain the universe – God engenders and continuously sustains the universe through His love, by loving. This is why I have no response to your recent article.

    I find the study of virtue in this regard interesting however. Did you ever think about the fact that most, if not all virtues are not so much about rules of conduct as such, but instead about balancing our conduct so that it falls precariously somewhere at the median between two vices. For example, being courageous means neither running headlong into danger nor does it mean running cowardly away. It is a balance and that is why, as many people have pointed out, if one is not really scared, then it is not really courage.

    Therefore, if we focus all our attention on determining legalistic rules from scripture, and trying to judge whether we ourselves or others are scrupulously following those rules, then are we really being virtuous or are we just acting like those critics of Jesus who knew the letter of the law, the legalistic rules, but they didn’t understand the spirit of the law, or, in other words, what it means to try to find that impossible perfect balance between vices that it means to act virtuously?


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