A STRANGE DEBATE

Let’s Enslave The Heathen is to say the least a strange post. John Branyan apparently enjoys tormenting the heathen. So he followed up with Let’s Enslave Anyone Who Can’t Answer. What was the question?

Theist: “Give me a reason to release you, Slave!” (from here)

Of course, the heathen (atheists in particular) cannot give a straightforward answer. That’s the point I sought to make in HOW SHOULD WE DECIDE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHAT IS RIGHT AND WHAT IS WRONG? — UPDATED. Without God setting the measure, the difference between right and wrong does not amount to much. When we set the measure, what the difference between right and wrong comes down for us is our feelings.

So what did violetwisp do when she tried to respond to on her blog? In christians run scared on slavery, cites Bible verses that supposedly show that God approves of slavery. That, somehow, is the answer.

The answer for the most frightened Christians out there is simple: DIVERSION!! Join the ranks of the terrified John Branyan by pretending you don’t understand simple explanations about co-operation, empathy and the logical evaluation of the outcomes of actions. Ignore what you see in the world around you, ignore what goes on throughout the animal kingdom and start claiming that without an invisible god’s morality stick, atheists want slaves! (from here)

Of course atheists want slaves. Doesn’t everyone? Not exactly. Managed properly, slaves can be a lot of work. So it is that mrsmcmommy responded to a comment on slavery with this post: The Slavery Post.

So, if the topic of slavery has been covered well by others, what else do I have to contribute?

Well, I still need to put my signature spin on it. I still need to do something surprising and a maybe a little half-baked–like suggesting that the biblical version of slavery is a lot like parenthood. (from here)

What observes is that some people, like children, need someone to be in charge of them. We often forget just how difficult it was just to survive during ancient times. Some people needed help, and during ancient times slavery provided the only health, education, and welfare systems available to the poor. Nevertheless, the slave master relationship is rife with the potential for abuse. So what the Bible did was regulate slavery so as to prevent abuse.

Do the rules in the Bible mean God approves of slavery? No, but the Bible provides the rules for us, not God, and God is merciful and patient with us. He gives us time to allow our hearts to soften. Here is example. When the Pharisees asked about divorce, Jesus explained why, even though God hates divorce, the Old Testament provides rules for it.

Matthew 19:7-8 New King James Version (NKJV)

They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?”

He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.

Slavery has been the norm throughout most of human history. If Christians had not decided to abolish slavery, slavery would be much more common than it is today. That’s right! In spite of logic and empathy, some people still make slaves of other people.

The notion that we would have stopped making slaves out of each other just because of logic and empathy is in fact arrogant. It implies the ancients were not just as capable of logic and empathy, but none of their idols, gods of their own making, condemned slavery.

Slavery ended only because Jesus commanded us to obey the Golden Rule, and there is no place in that rule for slavery, not when God has told you that every man, woman and child (born and unborn) is your neighbor. Not when you know that every man is made in the image of God.

HOW SHOULD WE DECIDE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHAT IS RIGHT AND WHAT IS WRONG? — UPDATED

The Temptation of Christ
Ary Scheffer, 1854 (from here)

UPDATE:  violetwisp continued our debate here.

I visited The Lions Den today, and I read Thought for the day. Here ColorStorm put up a very simple proposition.

It does not require the mind of an Einstein, a Tesla, a molecular biologist, a heart surgeon,  a carpenter, or a lawyer, to know there is a God.

All one needs is to be alive.

Then again, ask any two year old, as the divine code is imprinted on the conscience. It’s too bad the so-called scientists hide their knowledge of this between their sandwiches of theory and endless detours, which provides no nutrition, for the bread of unbelief is quite stale.

Audacious, don’t you think? Then I looked at the comments. I don’t know why, but violetwisp was the only person to take issue with ‘s post. Usually, he attracts a small horde of doubters.

  • violetwisp says:

    So what you are saying here is that only stupid people believe in your god? But that scientists, who are aware your god exists, are telling people lies about two-year-olds who all really follow your god? It’s kind of confusing ….

So I asked a question.

  •   Citizen Tom says:

    @violetwisp

    You seem very concerned about proper behavior. Why? How do you know what is “socially acceptable”? How do you define what is “socially acceptable”? Is it right makes might, or is it might makes right? If it is right makes might, then what is the difference between right and wrong? Who or what decides the issue? Why should a little child ever bother to care?

Unfortunately, did not bother with a reply. Why? Think about that long and hard.

Supposedly, we can form a rigorous ethical system without believing in God, but I am not familiar with one. Instead, what I have seen is that most Americans, including atheists and agnostics, tend to adopt a subset of Christian ethics? Why only a subset? Well, all of us find it very difficult to give up our own preferred sins. What sins should other people give up? Well, if they give up our preferred sins we will most definitely feel slighted.

So why didn’t reply? Well, it is much easier to attack what others believe than it is to defend our own beliefs.  The Bible is out there. Anyone can read it, and the Bible has numerous detractors.  So it is not difficult to become familiar with what the critics have said and rail against the Bible, and that is something many atheists and agnostics enjoy doing.  What we don’t often see, however, is Christians attacking what atheists and agnostics believe. Why do most Christians have so little interest in the subject?

Consider.  Google the following

What is there to attack? Is there anything of substance or just speculation?

Have atheists and agnostics undermined your belief in the God of the Bible? Have you asked them what they believe?  Have you looked up what some of them say they believe? Are you comfortable they know what they are talking about?

Before you give up on Christianity, please read the Bible carefully. That includes reviewing some good commentaries and participating in a Bible study with other Christians. Does that seem to much to ask? Then consider.

  • Have you watched a child grow? Have you visited the country, gotten far away from the city and looked into the night sky on a clear night? We live in a world — in a universe — that only God could have made. Creation is evidence that God exists.
  • Have you ever been wronged? When you were a child? How did you know what had been done to you was wrong? When you wronged another, did your conscious complain? Each of us have a moral compass. That too is evidence of God.
  • If the Bible is true, have you considered what you are giving up by not reading it? Even if you seriously doubt the Bible, don’t you want to understand why so many believe? Don’t you want to understand why America, a land founded by people who did believe the Bible, is so unique?

The Bible exists as only one of the proofs of God’s existence.  If you doubt God exists, then study the matter carefully. You may very well be surprised to find that there many gifted and intelligent Christian philosophers.  These men and women have carefully examined the issue. Because they thought so carefully about whether the God of the Bible exist, they believe. God sent these men and women to help us understand so we can believe too.

Hebrews 11:1-3 New King James Version (NKJV)

11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.

By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

We base our faith on evidence, not just what we want to believe.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A COLLECTIVE AND A COMMUNITY?

Charity without love is not charitable.

More than we know we do combat with words.  Consider the etymology of these ideological words. Consider what happens when the words “collective” and “community” become wrapped into isms.

Collectivism has strong associations with communism.

collectivism (n.)Look up collectivism at Dictionary.com
1880, in socialist theory, from collective + -ism. Related: Collectivist (1882 as both noun and adjective); collectivization (1890).

It seems that some would have us believe that the mere act of organizing people into a group with a common interest is communistic.

The word “community” has multiple associations with isms.

Like communism, communitarianism also emphasizes the community over the individual.

communitarian (n.) Look up communitarian at Dictionary.com
1841, “member of a commune,” from community + ending from utilitarian, etc. The adjective is attested from 1909.

Communitarianism is not the same as communism, but it does emphasize the interests of the community over the individual.

Like Communitarianism, communism is related to community via the word “commune“.

communism (n.) Look up communism at Dictionary.com
“social system based on collective ownership,” 1843, from French communisme (c. 1840) from commun (Old French comun; see common (adj.)) + -isme (see -ism). Originally a theory of society; as name of a political system, 1850, a translation of German Kommunismus (itself from French), in Marx and Engels’ “Manifesto of the Communist Party.” Compare communist. In some cases in early and mid-20c., a term of abuse implying anti-social criminality without regard to political theory.

Each [i.e. socialism, communism, anarchism] stands for a state of things, or a striving after it, that differs much from that which we know; & for many of us, especially those who are comfortably at home in the world as it is, they have consequently come to be the positive, comparative, & superlative, distinguished not in kind but in degree only, of the terms of abuse applicable to those who would disturb our peace. [Fowler]

We even have something called communalism which is similar to communitarianism. Instead of a strong central government, however, both communitarianism and communalism emphasize creating a federation of communes, just not for the same reasons.

communalism (n.) Look up communalism at Dictionary.com
1871 (in reference to Paris), from communal + -ism.

Thanks to all these mushy isms, it is a little difficult to speak of the difference between a collective and a community.  Nevertheless, people form collectives deliberately for a specific purpose. Whereas people form communities by living together and forming strong ties with each other.

Therefore, only when we speak of a community does it make sense to apply this verse.

John 13:35 New King James Version (NKJV)

35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

When we form charitable organizations, because there is a personal relationship it makes sense to provide charity at the community level.  Unfortunately, our political leaders have created new and improved charities.  They have used the state, especially that great collective we call the Federal Government, to give away our tax dollars using expensive health, education, and welfare programs.  Hence we have politicians spending other people’s money on people they don’t even know. The result has been phenomenal fraud, waste and abuse.

Ideally, because the personal relationship between those who give and those who receive charity is so important (It is about love, after all.), charity should only be the function of local, private organizations. Only when we have no other alternative should we involve government, and that should be local government. Only when we have no other alternative should we involve either the state or the Federal Government.

What is the big issue of the moment in Washington DC? It is Obamacare.  What is Obamacare? It is about whether the average American will be able to make his or her health choices without overriding interference from nameless bureaucrats. It about disconnecting the desires of people who pay the bills from the people who provide health care services. It is about giving politicians power just because they want it. It about turning our whole healthcare system into a wasteful and inefficient government-run charity rife with fraud, waste, and abuse.

Please let your senators and congressman know you want Obamacare repealed. You want them to do the same thing they did when they knew Obama would veto their repeal bill. Then you want them to replace Obamacare with laws that allow us to use our own money to make our own decisions. Do we really need their help to provide charity for our neighbors, the people in our communities. No. Not if we actually care about each other. If we don’t, there is nothing they can do anyway. If we don’t care, they won’t either.

 

 

WHAT HOLDS THE BODY TOGETHER?

The Vitruvian Man (c. 1485) Accademia, Venice (from here)
The Vitruvian Man (c. 1485) Accademia, Venice (from here)

1 Corinthians 12 is a fascinating chapter in the Bible.  Here the great Apostle Paul describes how God equips us to spread the Gospel, what Christians must do when they come together and work in unity for the cause of Christ.

First the apostle gives us a sampling of the gifts God gives us through the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:7-10 New King James Version (NKJV)

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

Then using the human body as an analogy, Paul describes our unity in the cause of Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:12-14 New King James Version (NKJV)

12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.

But what holds the body together? In the 1 Corinthians 13, Paul describes the greatest gift God gives us through the Holy Spirit, the gift of love. Love is what hold people — what bonds people — together in unity.

The Bible has much to say about love. Because it is so beautifully written, 1 Corinthians 13 is perhaps the most well known chapter in the Bible, and this chapter, following 1 Corinthians 12 , speaks of love, the love that holds together the body of Christ.  In this Age of Apostasy however, I fear we need to reflect upon of another passage.

Not enough of us strive to bring up our children in the Christian faith. Not enough Christians work to strengthen each others faith. We do not devote ourselves to the spread of the Gospel. We spend too little time in prayer and in the study of God’s Word. Have we forgotten that God is love, that He demands that we love each other?

1 John 4:7-21 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

God Is Love

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.

15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19 We love, because He first loved us. 20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

What hold the body together? Love. For God is love, and His love is the greatest of His gifts to us. Because He loves us, He demands that we love each other for love is also the greatest gift we can give to each other.