ABOUT PROPER DECORUM

freedomconscienceFrom time-to-time I hear someone complain about censorship. I get some complaint or see some complaint on another blog that looks like this.

The exchange between Mr. Z and our Insanitybytes seems spirited and engaging. I don’t see any real deviation from the standards of politeness that define the spectrum of the blog world. They each appear to do a good job with their positions.

As to the moderation barriers you have set up: the word “Z….” causes your blog to throw up walls? How very strange. How very fearful. How very contrary to the exchange of ideas. How silly and unnecessary. I suspect my views on these subjects are much closer to yours, Tom, than to Z’s. But it’s difficult to engage ideas related to Z’s positions if you have fortified your site against the mere mention of his name. (from here)

The writer of that remark is novascout. I had observed John Zande is impolite, to say the least. novascout disagreed. Then he complained about my judgement.

Here is my reply to and others who have made similar complaints of censorship.

I have a post on why I banned Zande, WHY I BANNED TWO TROLLS FROM CITIZEN TOM. I see nothing to gain by discussing that aspect of the matter further.

Some, such as , have no discomfort with the way Zande observes the rules of decorum. That is a different subject, and that I will address here. I did not ban Zande from my blog because he is impolite, and I do not know if I would have done so. In retrospect, however, I think it would have been appropriate.

What makes the issue of “politeness” a more difficult judgement? I suppose it is the fact that Zande meticulously observes today’s rules of decorum. In this day and age, deliberate and calculated blasphemy does not violate the rules of decorum. Nevertheless, blasphemy violates the spirit of decorum, especially when it is delivered with mischievous glee.

Because a lawful society is by definition rule-bound, required to give everyone the due process of law (which the devious insist upon making ever more cumbersome), we find it difficult to use the government to control/sanction the behavior of those who know how to disobey (or evade) the spirit of the law without breaking the rule of the law. Need proof of that? Look at what our leaders have done. Look at what they are doing in our nation’s capital.

In our private lives, we can and must take care to distinguish between those who obey the “standards”of good behavior and those who comply with the spirit from which those standards were derived. Just because our government won’t do anything, do we have to personally condone vile behavior? Don’t we know that a thief who knows how to avoid being caught is still a thief? Is not a liar who knows how to avoid charges of slander, libel, or perjury is still a liar?

Yet what is happening? Our society has become so rule-bound — so dominated by a huge and still burgeoning government — that it abounds with clever thieves and liars.

Consider the significance of the Democratic Party’s leading presidential contender. It is open secret she violated the law. She had a server, a private email server, with government secrets on it. If any ordinary civil servant or government contractor had been caught doing such a thing, they would already be in jail. And that very likely is the least of her misdeeds.

Think of the questions we should be asking.

  • How can substantial numbers of Americans reconcile their support for the candidacy of a known scoundrel?
  • What do the supporters of that scoundrel expect to gain?

Back to the subject. What about who we allow to post on our blogs? For the time being, our blogs still remain private affairs. Our government has yet to take them over. We still don’t have reams of Federal regulations designed to paralyze debate. On a blog, we are still not required to give everyone “equal time” or the due process of the law before we ban them. Therefore, the spirit of one’s conduct still matters. Where we generally see that most evidenced is in the truth of an old aphorism.

Birds of a feather flock together. (from here)

Is it inappropriate for those of like mind to seek each other’s company? Yes and no. It is true we should try to try to understand those who differ from us. Nevertheless, would it not be foolish to do something or tacitly condone something evil just to understand the behavior of those who habitually do evil?

In fact, we must as much as possible call attention to the difference between good and evil.

Luke 6:43-45 New King James Version (NKJV)

A Tree Is Known by Its Fruit

43 “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. 45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

As Christians — believers in the salvation offered by Jesus Christ — we must bear fruit. We have an obligation to protect the treasure that pours forth when we strive to understand, preach, and obey the Word of God. Therefore, when someone wants to mix blasphemies into our blog, we have a responsibility to say no.

MUST THERE BE CHOICE BETWEEN GOD AND GOVERNMENT? — PART 5

Christ washing the Feet of the Disciples by Tintoretto (1518–1594)
Christ washing the Feet of the Disciples by
Tintoretto (1518–1594) (from here)

Here we have the last of a five-part series. In MUST THERE BE CHOICE BETWEEN GOD AND GOVERNMENT? — PART 4, we considered the role of the church and our role within the church. Here we consider why we are failing.

Why All Our Songs Are Laments

Amos 8:9-10 New King James Version (NKJV)

“And it shall come to pass in that day,” says the Lord God,
“That I will make the sun go down at noon,
And I will darken the earth in broad daylight;
10 I will turn your feasts into mourning,
And all your songs into lamentation;
I will bring sackcloth on every waist,
And baldness on every head;
I will make it like mourning for an only son,
And its end like a bitter day.

It seems an absurdity. Our songs are all laments? Yet it has happened before, and it is happening to our country now. Have you ever stopped to think about why we play the songs we play? Have you considered the top songs and wondered why the are not joyous?

  • Number one this week is “Lean On.” It is a guy remembering.
  • Number two this week is “Where Are U Now.” It is a guy wishing.
  • Number three this week is “Hey Mama.” It is just dumb.
  • Number four this week is “You Know You Like It.” Here the artist whines: “I just wanna have some fun.” Can you guess what kind of fun? Do you imagine he is willing to take any responsibility?
  • Number five this week is “Omen.” It is about a guy ruing his mistake.

Why are the lyrics so shallow? Why is it all about some guy demanding and complaining when he cannot get what he wants?  What have we forgotten?

Have we forgotten the key to happiness? Have we forgotten the example set by Jesus Christ? Have we forgotten how to be servants of Christ?

Imagine praying this prayer suggested by BJ.

God, give me focus. Help me to stop being distracted by the trivialities of this life. I want more and more to become lost in You that You might be found in me. I surrender my needs, my wants, my dreams, and my ambitions to Your will. Through my life be glorified. In my life be everything. (from here)

Instead of thinking about what he wants all the time, wants to serve as Jesus’ hands and feet. Why?

Rob Barkman observes we do have a choice.

Did you know that we are all servants of Christ?  Saved or Lost; Physical Jew or Gentile; those of the Christian, Jewish, Buddist, or Muslim faith; Democrat or Republican; Master or Slave; King or Pauper; all of us are under the authority of Christ and held responsible to serve Him. In that sense, we are all His servants and given the responsibility to fulfill His will.

So what is the difference between these differing groups?  Some are blessed servants who are found willfully serving Christ at His coming… others are evil servants who refuse to submit to His authority and disobey His will for their lives. (from here)

What does it mean to serve Jesus, to obey His command? Can you imagine that God just wants us to love each other?

John 15:12 New King James Version (NKJV)

12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

Don Merritt provides examples of people who chose to serve others from the Book of Ruth. Consider Ruth herself.

Whole books have been written on Ruth’s character, so I’ll keep it short; Ruth had the heart of a servant. She was loyal to the family of her husband, she was humble, she worked hard and without complaint, and she was submissive to her elders. In all of this, Ruth shows us what it means to deal with self, for there is no “self” on display in her story.  To top it off, let us not forget the fact that Ruth made a conscious choice to follow the God of Israel. How different she was from the way we are today, and great was her reward. (from here)

In Servant Leadership And Servant Leaders,lafayetteangel explains that even leaders can be servants. Consider this extract.

This kind of leadership doesn’t have the attitude of a snake and the smell of a skunk. It is a leadership as soft as a kitten and bold as a lion. It is the type of leadership that has a compassion for people. It seems to be a leadership that is easy to do but hard. It takes a lot of work to be a servant and yet not be a push over. It takes a life time to learn, to accomplish and yet rewarding.

Ronald Reagan had some of the qualities of  a servant leader. He stood up to the evil empire and won. It wasn’t by combat but standing his ground. He called communism what it was evil. His speeches encouraged and made one laugh. (from here)

If we want leaders who will serve us, then we must each treat each other the way we want to be treated. Instead taking we must give. Instead, crying over our own hurts, we must consider how we have hurt others. Instead of using our government to get what we want, we must strive to use our government to protect our neighbors rights. Instead of using government to force others to be “charitable” or treat “us” the way we want to be treated, we must take it upon our self to be charitable and treat others the way we want to be treated.

If we want good leaders, we have to set a good example for our leaders. Our leaders cannot make us better people. The opposite is true. Or have we forgotten? Christianity is a movement that first spread among slaves, not the royalty of the Roman Empire. The slaves reformed their masters, not the other way around.

1 Peter 2:13-17 New King James Version (NKJV)

Submission to Government

13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— 16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.

JESUS NEVER GAVE THEM WHAT THEY WANTED — PART 5A

 

The Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew (from here)  Historical Accounts Differ, but tradition says Bartholomew met his death by being flayed or skinned alive, and then beheaded.
The Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew (from here)
Historical accounts differ, but tradition says Bartholomew met his death by being flayed or skinned alive, and then beheaded.

This is the fifth, but it is not quite the final post in a series of posts that proposes to answer the following question.

Can you name a single thing Jesus said which was genuinely new, original, or useful?

We had The Presentation Of The Question in part 1. If you wish to understand why we are considering this question and how we intend to answer it, please visit part 1.

With respect to the question above, here we will examine the following.

Why Is The Result Important?

Of Death And A Second Chance

Eternity or Just Today?

Is this life all there is? What if God came down one day and told us that this life was God’s greatest gift, and there is no Heaven or Hell, would it still be good to be Christian and follow the same belief system?  Well, without the promise of eternal life, Christianity is not the same belief system. Being a Christian would be futile.

1 Corinthians 15:12-19 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

12 Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.15 Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless;you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

To understand the difference, it helps to read an old story, Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh was a warrior king who became friends with a wild man, Enkidu, created by the gods. When Gilgamesh and Enkidu became too brash in the behavior (at least from the viewpoint of the gods), the gods killed Enkidu, and that frightened Gilgamesh.

In the second half of the epic, Gilgamesh’s distress at Enkidu’s death causes him to undertake a long and perilous journey to discover the secret of eternal life. He eventually learns that “Life, which you look for, you will never find. For when the gods created man, they let death be his share, and life withheld in their own hands”. However, because of his great building projects, his account of Siduri‘s advice, and what the immortal man Utnapishtim told him about the Great Flood, Gilgamesh’s fame survived his death. His story has been translated into many languages, and in recent years has featured in works of popular fiction. (from here)

When we are young and healthy, when we have not lost someone close to us, we can make light of danger and death. We know too little to understand the prospect of oblivion, that all is vanity (Ecclesiastes 1:1-11), is more than most can take. So it is that Gilgamesh and his people had to learn the “wisdom” of living fatalistically, accepting death as their inevitable, unavoidable fate.

Even Gilgamesh‘s name is now a fading memory, for what the great have done and built is in time forgotten (see Ozymandias by BY PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY). That’s why we call fame cheap immortality.

To Be Born Again

Fortunately, God gives those who love him eternal life. Unfortunately, we also have the possibility of hell, and because of our sinfulness, we have earned hell. So we need to be saved.

What does it mean to be “saved”?

‘Saved’ in its most basic definition is simply ‘safe from hell,’ and ‘set for heaven.’ I haven’t lost any readers yet, for all would agree, but the contentions arise when we speak of the terms. (from here)

Because we want to believe we have something to do with our salvation, because we don’t want to believe in hell, because we have trouble understanding what is hell and what is heaven, for innumerable reasons we make this matter of salvation complicated. So, yes, there is contention. Nonetheless, we can have salvation.

Salvation is in three tenses: past, present, and future. ‘Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures.’ How then in the counsels of heaven, could any person of sane spiritual mind ever think they could come into judgement for their sins?

Alas they cannot, and thank God that they have been taken away, and the burial and the approval of resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ attest that God is satisfied. This is the message of grace and the message of the gospel. This is simply the good news, that the vilest of humanity can be clothed with the righteousness of God, made whole and pronounced ‘clean.’ (from here)

Yet the question remains: how can I be saved?

This simple, yet profound, question is the most important question that can be asked.“How can I be saved?”deals with where we will spend eternity after our lives in this world are over. There is no more important issue than our eternal destiny. Thankfully, the Bible is abundantly clear on how a person can be saved. The Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). Paul and Silas responded, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). (from here)

That sounds simple, but in practice it is not. To put our trust in another, even God, is actually quite difficult. Further, we have to obey Jesus’ commands, and He wants us to love each other as we love ourselves. Jesus calls upon us to love sacrificially (John 13:34), but most of us find it far easier to love ourselves. To change so much, we must be born again of water and the Spirit (John 3:1-21).

To be continued. Part 5B will include the following:

  • What does it means to be a Christian? This section will also address the issue Matthew raised here.
  • What does the Bible say about life after death?

A FEEBLE MIND AT WORK

Mosaic of St. Justin Martyr, Mount of the Beatitudes
Mosaic of St. Justin Martyr, Mount of the Beatitudes

Here of late this blog has been getting unintentionally flattering reviews from kcchief1, the author of The Divine Spark Within. I say unintentional, because it is obvious that  has no intention of praising Citizen Tom. Nevertheless, when I read ‘s posts I am hard put to find anything I would have said differently. Well, that is not entirely true. I do wish some of the quotes were not taken out of context.

 began his assault on Citizen Tom by posting a comment on JESUS NEVER GAVE THEM WHAT THEY WANTED — PART 4.

kcchief1
March 24, 2015 at 4:59 pm

First of all, I am NOT an Atheist, but a Deist. I have exchanged many comments with John Zande and have found him to be courteous especially during the times we have disagreed. I am curious why you felt the need to band him from commenting on your blog ?

Thank you for allowing my comment here.

That led to another comment to correct a spelling error, “band” was supposed to be “ban”.

I gave  a link to the post where I explained why I banned Zande and Arkenaten, WHY I BANNED TWO TROLLS FROM CITIZEN TOM. After that  compared my banning of Zande to the persecution that Jesus and His disciples had suffered. Since I don’t consider Christianity an excuse for allowing non-Christians to burden Christians with meaningless guilt, I decided to ignore . Nevertheless, the few replies I gave  resulted in three posts at The Divine Spark Within. Since  had not posted anything since January 20th, I thought that remarkable.

Then  decided to pester one of my commenters with his inane comments and do a blog post on that. Since one of  ‘s comments contains an absurdly incorrect citation, I decided to post a correction.

Matthew says:
March 27, 2015 at 10:06 am
Anyone watching O’Reilly’s “Killing Jesus” this Sunday? From my understanding, O’Reilly examines the historical view of Jesus, not the theological view, which, in my opinion, is deficient because one cannot truly understand Jesus without the theological view. Without the theological knowledge, Jesus becomes another “historical figure.” There is no doubt — owing to vast written testimony — concerning Jesus’ historicity, but why is or what makes Jesus different from others? Who is Jesus? Sadly, that question and answer is lacking in O’Reilly’s book, and will be lacking in his movie. Pity.

kcchief1 says:
March 27, 2015 at 10:38 am

“From my understanding, O’Reilly examines the historical view of Jesus, not the theological view, which, in my opinion, is deficient because one cannot truly understand Jesus without the theological view.”

Here are 2 theological views among many, I doubt you would want O’Reilly to mention. Maybe it’s better that he just presents his historical view.

Church Theologian, Justin Martyr, “And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter” (Chapter XXI.—Analogies to the history of Christ.)

Geza Vermes, wiki says, “He was a noted authority on the Dead Sea Scrolls and ancient works in Aramaic such as the Targums, and on the life and religion of Jesus. He was one of the most important voices in contemporary Jesus research,[1] and he has been described as the greatest Jesus scholar of his time” Vermes described Jesus as a 1st-century Jewish holy man, a commonplace view in academia but novel to the public when Vermes began publishing.[4] Contrary to certain other scholars (such as E. P. Sanders[17]), Vermes concludes that Jesus did not reach out to non-Jews. For example, he attributes positive references to Samaritans in the gospels not to Jesus himself but to early Christian editing. He suggests that, properly understood, the historical Jesus is a figure that Jews should find familiar and attractive. This historical Jesus, however, is so different from the Christ of faith that Christians, says Vermes, may well want to rethink the fundamentals of their faith” (wiki)

What are the errors in ‘s reply to Matthew?  either lifted or copied someone who had lifted a quote from Justin Martyr totally out of context. This article, Justin Martyr, Defender of the “true philosophy”, provides some background on Justin Martyr. Justin is surnamed Martyr because he died as a martyr for the Christian faith.

Justin Martyr wrote The First Apology. He wrote it to Emperor Titus Ælius Adrianus Antoninus Pius Augustus Cæsar in defense of the Christian faith. Here is the complete version of Chapter XXI.—Analogies to the history of Christ. If you want to understand just how much ‘s citation of Justin Martyr reeks, please read Chapter XXI from beginning to end.

Chapter XXI.—Analogies to the history of Christ.

And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter. For you know how many sons your esteemed writers ascribed to Jupiter: Mercury, the interpreting word and teacher of all; Æsculapius, who, though he was a great physician, was struck by a thunderbolt, and so ascended to heaven; and Bacchus too, after he had been torn limb from limb; and Hercules, when he had committed himself to the flames to escape his toils; and the sons of Leda, and Dioscuri; and Perseus, son of Danae; and Bellerophon, who, though sprung from mortals, rose to heaven on the horse Pegasus. For what shall I say of Ariadne, and those who, like her, have been declared to be set among the stars? And what of the emperors who die among yourselves, whom you deem worthy of deification, and in whose behalf you produce some one who swears he has seen the burning Cæsar rise to heaven from the funeral pyre? And what kind of deeds are recorded of each of these reputed sons of Jupiter, it is needless to tell to those who already know. This only shall be said, that they are written for the advantage and encouragement of youthful scholars; for all reckon it an honourable thing to imitate the gods. But far be such a thought concerning the gods from every well-conditioned soul, as to believe that Jupiter himself, the governor and creator of all things, was both a parricide and the son of a parricide, and that being overcome by the love of base and shameful pleasures, he came in to Ganymede and those many women whom he had violated and that his sons did like actions. But, as we said above, wicked devils perpetrated these things. And we have learned that those only are deified who have lived near to God in holiness and virtue; and we believe that those who live wickedly and do not repent are punished in everlasting fire. (from here)

The reference to Geza Vermes’ work is relatively accurate. The mistake here is that Geza Vermes did exactly what  complained about.  Vermes’ tried to reduce Jesus from the Son of God to a historical figure.

But Mr Vermes’s real fame came from his contention that the historical Jesus, whatever his followers came to believe later, was first and foremost a Jewish holy man, one of many such itinerant preachers and wonder-workers. When his book “Jesus the Jew” came out in 1973, that approach seemed revolutionary. In many respects, the two faiths were in a state of mutual ignorance. Jewish scholarship and piety shunned the Christian scriptures: what could be gained by studying a self-proclaimed messiah and his mistaken followers? For their part Christians all but ignored Jesus’s Jewishness. Mr Vermes, somewhat combatively, highlighted the neglected common ground. (from here)

Vermes is a Jew who became a priest and then a Jew again. Since Vermes still experienced antisemitic persecution after he had become priest, we probably should not be surprised Vermes wanted to remind Christians that Jesus was a Jew. In that respect, Vermes did something useful.

It is also likely that Vermes conversion to Christianity never was sincere.

He was born in Makó, Hungary, to assimilated Jewish parents. His mother, Terézia, was a schoolteacher, and his father, Erno, a journalist and poet who associated with leading Hungarian intellectuals. When the family moved to Gyula, Vermes was enrolled in a Catholic primary school, and the family converted to Catholicism – “to give me a better chance”, as he wrote in his autobiography. That may have been his father’s intention, but his mother took the conversion seriously and became a devout Catholic. Vermes also seems to have taken it seriously enough to consider becoming a priest, when he graduated from the Catholic gymnasium. It was 1942 and life was becoming increasingly difficult for Hungarian Jews. The family’s baptismal certificates proved useless to protect them. Vermes was desperate to further his education but saw little chance, as a Jew, of gaining a place at university. Entering the priesthood offered a way forward. (from here)

The point is that Vermes is a Jew. So we have no reason to be surprised that a Jew doesn’t think Jesus was the Messiah. We would be surprised only if it was otherwise.

Anyway, I don’t have the time rebut nonsense. I don’t have to agree with the conclusions of the people who post here, but I will not permit obvious falsehoods. When people comment here, I expect what they post to be at least factually correct. And no, I don’t permit quotes deliberately taken out of context. The quote from Justin Martyr’s work was reprehensible.

Therefore, if a commenter like  wants to post anti-Christian drivel (garbage that is not even factually correct), he will have to do it on his own blog. Otherwise,  will have to do a little research first.

Note: If you wish to understand why I titled this post as I did, pleased check out   ‘s comment here.