The Finest Argument Against Christianity

If I were an atheist, and wanted to land a right hook on the chin of Christianity, I would aim first at its disunity. If one took serious inventory of the differences between Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Reformists, Pentecostals and the endless myriad of non-denominational churches (some estimate such churches to be numbered in the 10,000 range worldwide) one would find more disagreement in thought and practice than in nearly any other “ism” on the planet (granted, its “Christianity” and not “Christianism,” but you get the point).

One will find that the average Christian who engages in debates with atheists will often lack concern for such things. Those on the outside can’t help but see the overwhelming disunity among Christians; but often, those on the inside never see it, or they see it but simply don’t care. Regardless, it is a serious problem. The early Christian apologists hung their hats on the fact that there was one unified Church; for Justin Martyr and Ignatius of Antioch, Church unity was the ultimate apologetic trump card for Christianity among the pagan religions of the day. Today the situation is exactly reverse, Church disunity is the ultimate trump card for atheists against the faith.

Very simply put, Christ promised that He would build His Church and the gates of hell would never prevail against it. Christ also said, “A house divided cannot stand.” Popular modern day Christianity is the epitome of a house divided.

Many in the various Protestant faiths would openly and proudly proclaim that the apostolic faith ceased from the earth soon after the death of the Apostles and was miraculously revived when their particular establishment was created. For example, the Pentecostal movement could not be more proud of the fact that authentic, Spirit-filled Christianity was revived in a tiny mission on Azusa Street in Los Angeles at the turn of the 20th century. In other words, the gates of hell had apparently prevailed against Christ’s Church for nearly 1800 years. And the irony of ironies is that this authentic movement of the Holy Spirit—the same Spirit which united the Church at Pentecost as recorded in the book of Acts—resulted in literally 1000’s of schismatic splits within its first hundred years.

But the same could be said for Protestantism in general. According to the Protestant worldview, the early Roman Catholic Church was a fraudulent Church that had been corrupting the faith for who knows how long (the precise period in which the Church had been corrupted is a matter of opinion depending on which Protestant you happen to be talking to). The true faith was finally restored by Martin Luther and the Reformers in the 16th century, which makes the gates of hell victor over the Church for, potentially, more than a thousand years. Remarkable!

If I were an atheist there would be no need for me to attack Christianity head on with topics such as evolution, or what have you. Christianity has done a fine job of attacking itself for generations. I would feel under qualified to attack the faith when it had so many internal experts attacking it for me. My job would rest in simply reminding Christians of their schismatic track record in the West for the last 500 years and counting. If they cannot agree with each other, why should society at large agree with any of them on anything?

So, why am I still a Christian?

Indeed, if anyone should be convinced that Christianity is a sham it should be someone who is writing an article to give atheists tips for debating Christians. In truth, a few years ago I was on the edge in my relationship with modern, popular Christianity. I was ready to declare the whole thing a fraud. The fact that there was not a Church, in the sense described in Scripture and in the Nicene Creed, present in the world (or at least in my little world) was enough to finally push me to the brink after almost 20 years of participating in the independent, Evangelical movement. Then, during my studies in a private Evangelical seminary, I found the Church that was there and had been there since the day of Pentecost right in front of my nose. After some time of inquiry and prayerful soul searching, my wife and I were baptized into the Orthodox Church on Easter of 2010.

Someone once said that if counterfeit coins are discovered in circulation, it does not follow that authentic coins do not exist. The same is true with the myriad of churches within Christianity. Their incredible disunity is not, for me, a sign that the whole thing is a gigantic parlor trick played on society for two millennium. If I went shopping and while unpacking my groceries I discovered orange peels in every bag I would not resolve that because I did not find a full orange that an orange did not exist. It would be just the opposite. The abundance of evidence that an orange did exist would be found in the fact that it’s peels were everywhere. The true Church does exist, and the evidence is contained in the fact that there are so many copycats. But I digress.

I guess what I’m saying is, this argument will work on “almost” all Christians.

Good luck, and thanks for reading.

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71 thoughts on “The Finest Argument Against Christianity

  1. Very true, Mark, but all analogies fail at some level. However, chasing the analogy for a moment, the historic Christian faith does not claim that the Church is wholly divine. Rather, it claims that it is a mysterious collaboration of both the divine and the human, similar to the mystery of the incarnation of Christ.

  2. From a logical point of view, disjoint opinions or set of beliefs are not necessarily all false. One being true will automatically render all others as false. They could, of course, all be false, but there’s no way to say that a priori. Many atheists fall for this.

    And since all religions, not only christian denominations, are systems of beliefs, there’s no way of telling objectively which one is true and which one is not. It’s faith because it involves our entire being, not just the mind or the heart, the intuition or reason. And atheism, with its affirmative metaphysical statements, also falls into this ‘faith’ category.

  3. However many zillions of doctrinal differences on mostly side-ish issues, basically all christian churches adhere to the early creeds, particularly the apostle’s and nicene as foundational doctrinal points.

    But I agree, evangelicalism itself is awash with disunity at the moment. I can understand the peacefulness of a continuous stream of tradition would be a balm for some of these issues.

    However, when it comes to issues about women in ministry (for example) I would love to know whether any wrestling goes on in Orthodox circles..? Anyway, that is a whole other blog I suppose…

    Take care, I do enjoy reading your insights from your fairly extreme spiritual journey!!

  4. Lisa, its true that most churches of all stripes adhere to the creeds, specifically the Nicene (minus that pesky line about there being only “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church”). However, the application of the creeds in practice are incredibly diverse. If one even samples the various teachings on something as rudimentary as salvation among all the sects the disunity is amazing, never mind the different treatments of the sacraments, authority, anthropology, Christology, etc. Crazy.

    To your question about women’s place in ministry in the Orthodox Church, traditionally there have always been deaconesses, just like you read about in Scripture. Priests are also able to be married and their wives typically take on the title and ministry of “Presbytera”. They will sometimes operate as something similar to a Confessor for women (a priest is a “confessor” meaning he hears confessions from his congregants).

    Also, and probably most important, Mary the Mother of God (Theotokos) is considered the epitome of a saint and what all Orthodox strive to emulate. She is the most revered saint in the Orthodox Church. I think that says a lot about the Orthodox view of women.

  5. How do you deal with the rational argument that your place of birth pretty much determined your religion or branch of religion (at least before mass transport and mass communication)?

    Also if a meteor should wipe out 99% of the population and ALL religious texts and memory, the surviving humans would not reinvent Christianity (or whatever).

    They might start celebrating or even worshiping the sun, moon stars, spirit of fire and so on because these things exist and are wonderful aspects of our world. But they are not going to be worshipping any of the gods or prophets of the previous age because they simply won’t exist.

    Surely that is a decent rational argument against the existence of all organised religions as anything other than an arbitrary human constructs?

  6. “How do you deal with the rational argument that your place of birth pretty much determined your religion or branch of religion (at least before mass transport and mass communication)?”

    To be honest, I’ve never been much challenged by the notion. The truth is, people are more likely to rebel, if even just inwardly, at the religion they are raised in. Even back in the day, Roman paganism was just as customary as Christianity is today, i.e. treated with the same sort of,”we just do this because its our culture, not cause we believe it,” thing. Look at the Jewish nation. Historically, they were every bit as opposed to their religion as any other nation was opposed to it, and the same is true today. Are people determined to be atheist if they are born to atheist parents in Massachusetts? Not any more than the poor soul who grows up “born again” in Oklahoma. That’s my experience at least.

    “Also if a meteor should wipe out 99% of the population and ALL religious texts and memory, the surviving humans would not reinvent Christianity (or whatever).”

    I highly doubt they would. Christianity was not man-made to begin with, hence it would be miraculous if they invented it the second time around. They would be far more likely, as you said, to worship the sun or moon. That is a natural leaning for mankind. Christianity is not. Do you see where I’m going with this? Your reasoning is the very reasoning I would use to buttress Christianity, not attack it.

  7. Yes but that wasn’t really my point.

    Suppose there are two remote islands in the Pacific next to each other but due to the rough seas there’s no cross communication between the islanders.

    Now imagine one island gets invaded by missionaries who force Christianity onto the islanders. The other island is left alone.

    Now imagine a few decades later you are born on one of the islands. Depending on which island you are born on you will either be a Christian full of belief in God or you won’t have the faintest idea about Christianity or God.

    And if one of the other islanders should manage to swim across to your island and try to convert everyone he will be outnumbered and you will all say he is talking nonsense. He won’t be able to force you, nor can he bribe you with new technologies or fancy clothes or food or medicine or books or science or money.

    So my point is that adopting the Christian belief system (or any other religion) has never occurred *except* through social interaction – and usually social pressure of some kind (often extreme brutality or indoctrination). This makes it 100% man made.

    Cultures on different sides of the planet can develop astronomy, or medicine or music independently – but they have never discovered the same religion or the same god(s) independently (except for those based around natural phenomena like the sun and moon).

    This is the rational, evidence based, conclusion: organised religion is a social construct.

    I am happy for people to believe it is more than that (although I do wish they would stop all the murderous religious wars), but that belief has to be in the realm of an irrational and evidence free *belief*, and outside in the realm of reason or evidence….

    Although organised religion is not my thing, to my mind the sheer irrational nature of it would be, for me, the best thing about it!

    Love and affection can be totally irrational, and frankly ridiculous, at times – such as continuing a long distant relationship for years despite living on different continents…. or maintaining some old banger of a car which is expensive to run (but you love it dearly).

    I can’t for the life of me work out why believers in religions want to justify or ‘legitimise’ their irrational beliefs in terms of reason and evidence.

    *Express* you belief, sure (singing, helping the poor, being full of love etc) ….but justifying it or explaining it in rational, factual or even scientific terms seems totally inappropriate to me.

    Hope that makes sense 🙂

  8. Abandon, I couldn’t agree more with the second half of your post. Though I think a certain amount of “evidence’ pointing is fine, if one relies on religious evidence to make their case for God its usually a good sign that they are trying to convince themselves of its truths, not those they happen to be arguing with.

    Your analogy is good, accept the idea that if one was born on the island that did not have Christianity he would not believe in God. This is the Achilles heel of your argument. The fact is, if you had two such islands, you may have one that believed in Christianity due to missionary activities, but you would not have atheism on the other island. Religious belief in the supernatural is one of the baseline attributes of mankind. Throughout the ages every society one can think of had a consciousness of “god.” For your analogy to be correct you’d have to place both Christianity and atheism in the same boat – ideas that don’t occur to people outside of social “pressure of some kind.”

    But, historic Christianity does not claim to be an individual sport. It is a community – the Church. Hence, it is a tenet of the faith, “unless one is sent to preach the Gospel, how will they hear?” Christianity is fine with being a divinely given “social construct” because the Church is a divine social construct, but don’t be bewitched by language. “Social construct” does not equal “untrue.” Human beings are “social constructs” if you want to get right down to it.

  9. Thank you Eric. I’m very glad to see you featured on “Freshly Pressed” because now I have the opportunity to read your thoughts. I often feel that Atheists often choose arguments that seem rather lame to me.The truth about Christianity is that we do have much to answer for, but often not what we are accused of. I’m always happy when a fellow Christian leads the charge for revision. I believe it is “revision” and not “reform” that is needed. There is nothing wrong with our fundamentals…just fundamentalists who misunderstand what those fundamentals entail. Keep up the good work.

  10. Very wise words! 🙂 I’m glad to see another Catholic blog and you definitely give some food for thought! And as far as disunity goes, we can mainly push that on protestants which WAS man made! 🙂 Roman and Orthodox Catholics are growing steadily together, or so I’ve heard. There are few differences between them, and is the reason why I will remain in my faith, despite the finger pointers out in the world. You know, beside it being the faith that Christ founded when he was last here in the flesh. Cheers! And you earned another follower!

  11. Hi again .
    Regarding the coin analogy – I think it can perhaps be applied to many if not most of the ‘isms’. In that, there is often a touch of gold in the ‘isms’ which get covered by layers of our silly, (sometimes harmful), nonsense egos. But there are people in them who are genuine seekers of good, but rather lost and confused by leaders who manipulate the truth, like those in biblical times. I think there could be ‘innocents’ among the led, and God will be able to read their hearts where we are unable. Perhaps wrong, but I think it is highly likely, however one may interpret biblical words. No doubt you could do that, to show me where your Orthodox belief would see my understanding as erroneous, or correct, Eric?

  12. The Orthodox Church has an good phrase that sums up their understanding of the matter, something like this: “We know where the Church is, but we do not know where the Church isn’t.”

    Meaning, we know where the physical manifestation of the Church is, it is one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church which has been in the earth since Pentecost and it is that Church which was founded by the Apostles which Christ said the gates of hell will never prevail against. That Church, we believe, is the historic Orthodox Church. Where we do not know where the Church is is in its invisible aspect, that is – there are plenty of believers whom will be found in Christ that never stepped foot in an Orthodox Church and many that are baptized Orthodox who have never known Christ and are not known by Him. This goes back to the fact that God is merciful and can save anyone in any physical circumstance according to his great love for mankind.

    The Orthodox Church is where the fullness of the Apostolic faith is found. It provides the very presence of the Holy Trinity here on earth and all believers in Christ are encouraged to come home to it.

  13. The journey OUT for me began when I combined the historical basis of the Bible with that of the teachings that God was Love. I read the Old Testament many times without missing a thing and it dawned on me that I was a VERY VERY good father to my kids. I have never been jealous of others and I certainly have house rules but I am not willing to kill my offspring just because they experience periods of teen angst and rebelliousness. Anger management is something I have never had to contemplate. As a matter of fact the more I read the Bible the more I did not want anything to do with religion period. Jesus said that He did not come to bring peace but division. Isaiah: I am the Lord your God I have created peace, I have created evil, I the Lord your God have created these things. that kind of did it for me and the Job story is another clincher. The devil made God do that to Job it says right there in Job 2:3. God says “The devil made me do it”. Pretty lame excuse, don’t you think?

  14. This post is very good. Just because other churches are not unified and true, does not mean that we are not true. We all have free will. God wants hearts of flesh that worship Him, not robots with metallic hearts, and who can not make decisions for themselves. When one finds out the truth on their own, it is a much more exciting discovery. And almost all cultures have believed in some form of the Divine.

    It is further proof that God does exist: we all look for Him in our own way. It is simply not natural for a human being to be an atheist, since it goes against our nature. We were meant to be more than just an accident, and there is a reason for life, and for why we were created, since we were made in God’s Image and Likeness.

    Let us pray that more people will realize that, and then come to the most truthful witness of all, the Eastern Orthodox Church.

  15. Sorry I am late to the party on this one. This issue is actually sort of easy to overcome if you have had any dealings at all with atheists. While they pull ranks when faced with speaking to Christians, if you engage them in a group setting and start to ask them things like: “do we have free will or is everything determined?” or “what meaning can we get from existence and why?”, you will start to see the facade of unity vanish and they will start to argue among themselves. They are just as disjointed and adversarial when it comes to alternate ideas within their own worldview as Christians. The only thing that truly separates us is we believe something that transcends the natural and they do not. They are already in the minority and will most likely continue to be so. I will admit that this is a tu quoque approach; but you can always use it after simply showing that we agree on the essentials and those who stray from that idea are shucked off as cults.

  16. But atheists do not claim from the beginning that they have a single true ecclesia whereas Christ Himself says Christians do and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Without the belief in “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church” atheists have most Christians over a barrel on this point, and its a pretty big point. It means that either the Holy Spirit never really constituted the Church or that He did constitute it but abandoned it.

  17. Job 2:3 NIV ” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”

    Nowhere does it say, the Devil made me do it. God defeated Satan and he will do so again. Sure God didn’t have to ruin Job to prove a point, but God was right; no matter what happened to Job he would always praise God. In this world of uncertainties God is the only thing we can ever count on. He is forever. Nothing else is.

    As for God not being “The God of Love,” I think the Old testament demonstrates that he is a merciful God beautifully. Think about it…Not once did God ever destroy a sinful civilization when someone entreated upon their behalf with HIM. God allowed Lot and his family to leave Sodom before he destroyed it, just as Abraham asked. When Moses returned to the Israelites to find them worshipping a golden calf, God said he was going to destroy all the false worshippers. Moses asked God to be merciful, and God spared all the people who repented from their sin. God sent Jonah to warn all of Ninevah that God was going to destroy them if they didn’t stop their evilness and they heeded God’s warning and God gave them repreve. God could have easily wiped humanity from the face of the earth with the flood, but he saw that Noah was good and so he saved him and his entire family from the coming deluge. All these stories show us that God is a merciful God. Yes, he disciplines his children, but he loves us enough to be merciful. There are lots of horrible things in the Old Testament. However, if you look at it as a whole there is no doubt of God’s mercy and love for us. Read it with an open heart and an open mind to see the true message.

  18. Disunion? I thought everyone was an Episcopalian … there’s nothing like an Episcopalian, High-Church wedding (I’m just saying).

  19. I’m afraid I have to disagree with you Eric, the best argument against Christianity are the many blatant contradictions which not only constitute the best argument but prove logically that the belief cannot possibly be true. The problem with Christianity is that they believe God is love and then project a God of anything but. If the belief was that God is a tyrant demanding they seek forgiveness for that which they were created incapable of avoiding then it would be much harder to dispel.

  20. Quote form Openobserver -‘The problem with Christianity is that they believe God is love and then project a God of anything but’. This quo
    te from Openobserver would be right BUT this describes only Christians who do not fully understand and interpret the God of the OT incorrectly. ignorantly acting as a sheep in wolves clothing. Anyone (like Openobexerver ) who interprets ALL Christians under the same umbrella is ignorant of the ‘Christianity’ of the Christians who can properly interpret the OT. In doing so Openoserver and the like are ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’. (No doubt that’s all they’ve experienced -the bathwater).NB. NEVER generalise. ‘They’ is not ‘All’. We often do not have experience of ALL, but only those, and the things we have met. That’s the problem with partial knowledge.

  21. Openobserver, the “many blatant contradictions” you speak of are a mystery to me so I will consider your example to be the epitome of said contradictions. The reason why your argument is not formidable against Christianity is because it only addresses a very ignorant, though popular, idea of what the faith teaches. The “best” argument against Christianity must be one that meets Christianity on its actual ground and is able to defeat it. Defeating its shadow is a waste of time. That is why I chose the one I did which is not vulnerable to such misunderstandings as it stands as objective fact.

  22. Well let me see if I can clear up some of the mystery for you. You seem to steer around the obvious point, that being that according to Christianity man is incapable of living perfect or sinless yet he must ask for forgiveness for that which he is incapable of avoiding.

  23. Please, just humor me. I’ll show you the point later and it will help you begin down the road of understanding Orthodox Christianity if you care to.

  24. I understand Christianity quite well, having been raised in a devout Christian home and spending the first half of my life there until I finally opened it to sincere questioning and found it so full of contradiction and inconsistency that it cannot possibly be true unless one can swallow total absurdity.

    Why not show me the point now? And as far as helping me understand Orthodox Christianity or any other version for that matter, been there, done that, moved on to a much more reasonable concept of what God is all about.

  25. Eric, please feel free to delete all my posts from your blog and carry on. I won’t post anymore unless you wish to discuss further. It is not my desire to make anyone uncomfortable.

  26. Haha, not uncomfortable at all, Openobserver. It seems you are the one a little hot under the collar. I’ve asked you a simple question. If you can’t answer it feel free to move on,.

  27. Come on dude. Let’s get real. Scroll up and find this: “Give me an example of a sin that a person is incapable of avoiding.”

    Go.

  28. I answered that question, me giving you an example is beside the point. Here you go, dodging those potholes again. The point is, that the belief is that man is incapable of living sinless and is condemned for that incapability. It is completely beside the point which sin.

    And speaking of unanswered questions, am still waiting on your reply to how one is guilty of that which he is incapable of avoiding.

  29. Its’ far from beside the point, its your entire point. You’ve dodged your own argument.

    “And speaking of unanswered questions, am still waiting on your reply to how one is guilty of that which he is incapable of avoiding.”

    Oh what a fun game. I ask you what is unavoidable and you don’t know. Apparently we both believe that man is not guilty of any sin that is unavoidable. Unless you can show otherwise.

    Think about it and get back to me.

  30. Eric, get real will you? For Pete’s sake man, the belief is that man is condemned because he has sinned, it’s not a matter of any particular sin, but any sin. Man must be capable of avoiding all sins. You are cornered and not man enough to admit it and are presenting shallow beside the point questions in a desperate attempt at damage control. I don’t believe you are helping your case one bit by such maneuvering. Most are quite capable of seeing through such. Let me rephrase the question one more time for you, how is it that man is guilty of that which he is incapable of avoiding? (sin in general)

  31. Haha, man is not guilty of sin in general but sin in specific. This is why I’m asking you for an example of a single sin that is unavoidable. See, you’ve fallen into the Augustinian trap of doctrine of Original Guilt, which claims that all are guilty in Adam’s sin. This is the confusion that your form of Protestantism in which you participated (Baptist) suffers from, and yes, it is truly illogical.

    So, please, do your best to answer the simple question or call it a night.

  32. “Haha, man is not guilty of sin in general but sin in specific.”
    Absolutely false, and absolutely not what I said, according to the belief, man is guilty of sin in general. Eric, you keep avoiding the original question with all your diversion tactics. If you’re really that dense, there is no point in my continuing. If you are able to answer the original question I would be interested in hearing it. However, I know you cannot because it is a blatant contradiction of the belief. But yes, I refuse to further indulge in such stupidity. So have the last word, my friend and consider that you won the argument. As I said, I believe most will see through your damage control tactics. You are obviously incapable of answering the question. I thought you were more of a man than to indulge in such shallowness.

  33. Openobserver, You may be right, perhaps Eric’s method has not yet managed to answer your question (I haven’t caught up with your latest correspondence with him, so i cannot be sure), but, this doesn’t mean that he won’t if you persevere (do you remember you’ve left and returned by the back door on several occasions). or. that someone else can’t answer it for you. Neither of you has ‘won’ the argument yet (whoever has the last word). A man does not give up on things so easily as you. So, unless you allow Eric, or me, or others (here or elsewhere), to continue the ‘battle’ you will never ‘win’ it or allow others to ‘win’ it either, so, what exactly are you afraid of? Becoming a man?

  34. And round we go. Okay Closedobserver, let’s do this one last time. I cannot answer your question since it has no relevance to the historic Orthodox faith. Your ignorance of Church history, theology, and Scripture has manufactured a question about a reality that simply doesn’t exist. You may as well ask me to defend why God put the Smurfs in the same forest with the ever-evil Gargamel and his cat.

    What you don’t get, because you choose not to get it, is that man is not guilty of anyone else’s sin except his own and there is no sin in which he is not capable of resisting (hence why you could not honestly think of one). Man’s problem in which he is born with is death, not sin. Sin becomes his problem due to his own choice to engage it, but it is not his problem originally (hence why babies do not go to hell when they die in infancy). Man is created in God’s likeness and image. When Adam sinned he died – first spiritually in the sense that grace had left him (in losing his “likeness” to God), and only later physically. Adam’s condition of death is what the human race has inherited, not Adam’s guilt. Thus, death is our enemy, and thus Christ trampled down death by death in his own death and resurrection. His death was for the healing of man, not the appeasing of His Father.

    Stay with me….

    God does not create mankind guilty of sin; however, “when Adam sinned his body became mortal and he received many natural shortcomings” to use the words of St. John Chrysostom. These shortcomings make it easier for man to sin, but does not require him to do so. The Holy Theotokos (Mary) lived sinless yet she still needed rescuing from death. Any bend we have towards sin and any committing of sin is of our own doing, not God’s.

    This is why your question is ridiculous because it begins with the assumption that man is guilty of some general sense of sin which he is not. He is guilty of the specific sins he willingly commits.

    “Ah, ah, ah” you will say, “but man has shortcomings which cause him to sin, you said it yourself.” No, no, no. My sin is on me no matter the inherent mortality-based-shortcoming, and your sin is on you. Christians do not have the Calvinist-like cop-out of blaming predestination and divine fiat for their sin. You must take responsibility for your own sin, Closedobserver, or you will never be free of death. Repentance is “turning back to God” whereas sin is “turning away from God.” The only reason one must repent is because he first turned away. Do we all need to turn back to God through repentance? Only if you’ve turned away.

    Have you turned away? Repent.

    Much more could be said, novels worth. If you care to hear feel free to inquire. Cheers.

  35. Thanks muchly for that exposition Eric. I. for one, find it brilliant even though I basically understood it before. I do hope Openobserver will eventually (via whatever means), become more open that he currently thinks he is.
    One word I love which covers much of this is ‘ignorance’ as it stems from the meaning to turn away from something. Our brains combined with our egos do a brilliant job of keeping us ignorant, in the dark.

  36. As usual you present a lengthy dissertation to avoid a question you cannot answer. You say I manufactured a question that does not exist. How absurd! The very basic Biblical teaching is that God condemns man because of sin and at the same time teaches that man is incapable of living sinless. So no, you have not resolved the basic contradiction I presented.

    Furthermore, you are simply way off base in your very limited understanding of spirituality. Man’s problem is not death, in fact “there ain’t no dead people”, there are only dead bodies or physical objects. We are not bodies but spirit. Bodies come and go in a physical universe but Consciousness does not. Bodes are buried but who ever buried Consciousness or can attest to its demise as well? My friend, you like all your religious friends are focused on physicality which is completely insignificant in the greater reality.

    But it’s rather obvious that we are at completely different levels of spiritual understanding and consequently are not going to be able to resolve anything between us. In other words we are completely wasting each others time.

    So, let’s just say, to each his own and here’s wishing you a happy journey until greater understanding knocks on your door.
    Bon Voyage

  37. Well Eric, Engaging has been enlightening, not just for me but, for anyone with ‘eyes to see’ and ‘ears to hear’, because, it is undeniable that Oo ‘knocked’ on your door and has not brought ‘greater understanding’ with him! He has some valid points but is definitely not bringing a holistic view which ‘greater understanding’ will eventually ‘win’ over us all. Who got there first is totally irrelevant but, hopefully, (as he now considers it all a ‘waste of time’), Oo will learn not to bother others of a different view again, unless he truly wishes to learn with an ‘open’ ‘observation’ rather than just to preach or ‘win’, which, ones manner will always make evident, as his has indeed.

  38. Eric I know openobserver had a good point and much correspondence ensued around it, but, did not forge a final link with him.
    As a result of my own seeking I have come across what represents the missing link. If you miss the point it contains in its short explanation you cannot see the link. I see it and do not know if you or anyone else will. It is here in the next paragraph (and by way of explaining follows):

    This is the good news of the gospel…Jesus’ death and resurrection is not to make bad people good, but rather to make dead spirits live. This just means that a dead spirit that once caused us to be separated from a relationship with God has now been made alive. Jesus’ great sacrifice and the value it placed on us, added to our acceptance of it ie., his example of Love divine, (once we can give it), causes us to exchange our nature for His, bringing us (each in his own time), back into an intimate relationship with God.

    You see Eric, this incorporates both ideas to those who see it because it points out that acceptance of the LOVE Jesus gave (not our praise of Jesus), is THE ‘way’ back to God. Once we have accepted this we are there with the LOVE of God (and Jesus and all like minded/spirited people/souls), Jesus has served his earthly purpose in our personal life on earth – he is no longer necessary as our personal conduit, so we do not need to keep thanking him we are with him with God (albeit still living on earth for a jot of a second or longer). The thanks come implicitly with the acceptance of his giving of Love and we PERSONALLY for our own saving, have no more need of his earthly role – we are with him and the source. Now the source can work DIRECTLY with us.

    Of course, this means that there can be other conduits (of Love),which take us DIRECTLY to the ultimate, absolute, one God by a Jesus by-pass). I have heard that many Christians do accept this. If you do not, i would add that when Jesus said ‘I am the way, the life, and the truth’, and, ‘No-one comes to the father except through me’. I believe that the ‘me’ he is referring to his Love; the self-sacrificing sort – exactly what he is AN example of. Love by various forms of self-sacrifice (which Jesus has shown us in his example) is the ONE way and Jesus is a conduit to that Love. If we accept this, we understand what openobserver was trying to say. It does not though,stop us using Jesus as icon, a symbol, an EXAMPLE of The Way (ie Love), for others to use (if they will), as he is A perfect example. We merely must recognise him as an EXAMPLE can work in as a conduit for many. Some can do it intinctively for themselves, without denying the EXAMPLE provided by Jesus.

    I think I may have repeated myself somewhere along the thread, but, for some, that works good, so I’ll not check it for you. Please feel free to test me if you will.

  39. Dichasium, you seemed to be on the right path in your second paragraph and then suddenly jumped the rails. Christians do not accept your idea of Jesus being merely one of many “conduits” of love by which we come to the Father for the reason that Jesus is not merely an “example” of the love of God but is THE very God from which comes life saving love. Jesus is not an icon, symbol or example of the way, He literally is love, is life, and is the way. The Person of Jesus – the 2nd Person of the Trinity – is not merely a teacher, like a Socrates whose message is what is necessary rather than the messenger, Jesus is His very message. His message is nothing without His Person. Once cannot say this about any other teacher of love. What Closedobserver believes, and what you seem dangerously close to, is the denial of Christ having come in the flesh (which is the doctrine of anti-Christ). To dismiss Christ’s flesh is to dismiss Christ. We are saved because God became flesh, our flesh becomes His flesh – this is the doctrine of theosis or deification.

  40. Thanks Eric. I think I was coming from the thought that if someone had not been a Christian and was suddenly provoked by love to give up his life for another (as Jesus did), would he not at that moment have known the love of God directly by his own spirit of love, (‘greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for his brother’), and thereby be acceptable to God in the same way as those who had not yet understood the Christian mind? I know the verse on ‘not by works’ but can’t get why giving one’s life for another (the greatest love) is inadequate. Any of your simplified help available please? (I’ll will, anyway, check out the doctrine and ask the Christian teacher who has begun to assist me with the OT)..

  41. God is merciful, I’m sure He’s able to save whom He will, but my critique of your last post was not about this issue but about seeing Jesus’ life as a mere example to follow, and such.

    Love is not some sort of depersonalized force. Love is God, whom Christ was in the flesh. Love is not a force that Jesus happened to be in-sync with.

  42. Eric thanks, but, may I try a different angle – Once we have accepted Jesus’ purpose and place, what is the purpose of us needing to pray ‘THROUGH Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen’, bearing in mind that he Is God?
    PS. If needed, should I continue in the ‘Ask a Question’ section?

  43. “what is the purpose of us needing to pray ‘THROUGH Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen’,”

    I’m familiar with this wording of prayer from my time in various Evangelical churches but it is not something typically prayed in an Orthodox Church. Prayers to the Holy Trinity abound. We end most all prayers with “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Or “Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, unto ages of ages, amen.”

    One of the most popular prayers among the Orthodox and especially among our monastics is the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”

    You see the prayers are directed to Christ rather than through Him. However, I think it can become a needless game of nuance policing if one isn’t careful. “Through Jesus” and “In Jesus” can be very similar depending on the usage. If the “through” is causing a person to imagine a Christ as some sort of force then by all means stop it.

  44. Eric, It would only be nuance policing if it had no real value & I’ve never gone down that road yet. I don’t believe you will with me. We have kept faith and respected each other always with good manners.
    In the case of prayer, I think prayer is a form of begging and, I see no purpose for it if one keeps faith for, then, what do we lack?

    Interestingly, this current conversation has not dealt with the question raised by another blogger previously, but it has helped me with trying, gradually, to unravel it, so thanks. I’ll leave it there for now.

  45. Hi Eric, to reply to both your comments. First, re another blogger’s question – i used the term another blogger because i kept to the name of his choice and you altered it to your liking. i did not want to use you name for him (as i felt it was offensive!), neither did i want to appear to be directly opposing you (as this would be offensive), so, i chose an indifferent term of address. i began this partcular line of discussion, referring to the point Openobserver was apparently making. Hence, my reference to another person’s question (which I’m sure you see as more than a question because you are looking at the person. I am looking at the thought because these such things are less clear in my mind than yours) – get it now? 🙂

    Second question of yours re. prayer – I’d like to start with, what’s yours?, but maybe I’ll answer you frist. Sorry, I’ve not got the C.&v. to hand, but, i’m sure Jesus say ‘if you must pray’, amongst other such direct comments. I have considered the role of prayer and since, i do have faith in everything working for the good of God, and that i try to the best of my ability, i have no anxiety, and hence no need for prayer that i’m aware of. Combine this with confirmation from JC. and I feel even confident. But, always being an open observer and wanting to help others in this, i am always keen to hear other opinions and discuss them with a view to good ends. so, now you’ve my thoguht on parayer , perhars you’ll enlighten me on yours. BTW, I do see prayer may help to sustain those with inadequate faith (those who are not yet assured), but, it remains a bt of a fib (white lie),even when used for this purpose. I think this is why Jesus Christ left the loop-hole of Our Lord’s Prayer if we ‘must’ pray ie., if we are feeling a little less secure in our faith (assurance). Please. may, i now understand why this created a hiccup in you?

  46. To refer to the other blogger as “open” is an offense against reality, but to refer to him as “closed” is an offense against irony. It’s a lose lose.

    I found that the other blogger was trying desperately to justify his decision to leave Christianity by developing an argument against it that only works against a false perception of it, namely, his supposed contradiction. The contradiction works for the sect he hailed from, Baptists, but does not work against historic Orthodoxy. He was so “closed” minded that he was unable to see his post-decision bias was making it impossible for him be “open” to the reality of the faith.

    As far as prayer: prayer is communion with God. Does it involve “begging”, sure if by that you mean repentance and begging for direction, humility, patience, healing, etc. The Bible reveals a Jesus who prayed constantly, throughout the night, so much so that He wearied his own disciples with His discipline of prayer. If you believe He is your “example” then I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t follow His example of prayer. Without prayer – talking and listening to God – it is not possible that one could have faith in God.

    Does that help explain the “hiccup” in me?

  47. Yes, thank-you Eric it does help to explain the hiccup.
    On the name of the other blogger, I merely think that he has the right to call himself as he chooses and our right to correct this is the lesser of the two rights. I see no loss in this.

    On prayer, I refer to Matt6:5-9. Jesus says this is how to pray and provides the very words. That is enough for me and is indeed what i follow. (Having checked the source again, i see it is not a loop-hole, but, I always have prayed this by choice, since becoming a Christian, anyway). What Jesus tells me to do is all I need to know, beyond that is not needed, and, we therefore are wasting our breath and asking God to do what we want or wish for, rather than ‘Your will be done’. It is contravening the words of Jesus and shows our misunderstanding of his words, of God, and of our place. We are then only acting from anxiety in my opinion, an anxiety which is not there if we have full faith in Jesus, God and the Holy Ghost. (If Jesus personally had more to say to God, it will be purely because of his exalted position and not relevant to us).
    What say you? I’m still open to you.

  48. Well, seems we’ve landed at an unexpected place. You originally said that you don’t pray because you are already in faith and that prayer is essentially begging God, but here you say you actually do pray, you pray the Lord’s prayer which, incidentally, is full of begging-petitioning: “Give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our sins as we forgive others, lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”

    This prayer should be enough to show that God would have us not only pray for His will but then commune with that will by praying stuff that He already desires to do for us. Beyond that it is evidence from the life of Christ and the apostles that prayer is perhaps the single most important aspect of a believer’s life. It is not something one does when she is not in faith but just the reverse – when she is in faith. It is an act of faith. It is an act of relationship. You are Christ’s bride, He is your groom. Brides and Grooms talk to each other. It’s how they stay in relationship. 🙂

  49. Eric, why are you in an ‘unexpected’ place. I turn to you for your help. I never seek to impress my thoughts upon you. So, you’ll only be in an ‘unexpected’ place with me if you forget who I am – a mature learner who doesn’t want to fall back on childish ways. Stay with me, as far as you are able, and we will produce some good.

    What I said, which you seem to have overlooked, is that I have no need of prayer AS FAR AS I’m aware. So now we are in the position of looking at the statement ‘AS FAR AS’. The prayer I was referring to is the sort of supplication for particular painful events in life to get better NOW. We know God is going to make all things right in His due course. The Lord’s prayer always appealed to me because it is, in my mind, of a different nature and, thereby, acceptable pleading, and, ias stated, Jesus speaks of His payer being the prayer to make.

    Now we may come to the issue I’ve had. Remember Eric, I have had virtually my whole life living without a community of other Christians, I am a novice. When, over my decades of persistent searching, I’ve heard many such prayers they’ve been on issues I felt were most certainly in God’s good hands and our pleading would not change the circumstances one iota. We, I felt, needed to have faith and, therefore, ALL patience with God. It was a bit like asking will you hurry up please God! Does where I’m coming from get any clearer for you Eric?

    This morning I woke thinking of the words ‘where two or more are gathered together in my name’. It made me think what I may be missing. I checked the bible and Matt18:19. Apparently, if two agree on earth as touching any thing they ask, God will do it. And at v.20, if two or three are gathered together in Jesus’ name he is in their midst. I still can’t reconcile this with any efficacy of prayer. It’s not necessarily referring to prayer and Jesus’ words about the Lord’s Prayer being the way to pray still ring loud in my ears. I do think perhaps it is strengthening for some people, but in effect, this would be depending on people rather than on God and Jesus’ words about the Lord’s Prayer. Tell me please Eric, is it that this is a controversial subject amongst religious people and perhaps even Christians, and, that you are merely providing your group understanding?

  50. “Eric, why are you in an ‘unexpected’ place. I turn to you for your help.”

    Haha, I only meant to say that when we began discussing prayer you understood it only as begging and claimed you didn’t pray because you didn’t need to beg, you were in faith. But, as it turns out, not only do you pray (the Lords Prayer) but you pray a prayer seething with petitions. That’s all. I was only hoping to help you see that its okay to pray in this fashion – Christ taught us to – and that you are already doing it anyway.

    Then this: ” I checked the bible and Matt18:19. Apparently, if two agree on earth as touching any thing they ask, God will do it. And at v.20, if two or three are gathered together in Jesus’ name he is in their midst. I still can’t reconcile this with any efficacy of prayer.”

    I’m not sure I follow you, as in, why are the two in conflict – praying together and the Lord being in their midst?

    You’re married, right? Do you talk to your husband or is being in his presence do the talking for you? Sure, your husband can’t read your mind and God can, but its an issue of relation – communication. Why is communicating with the one in whose presence you’re in a bad thing, particularly when we’re talking about God? Prayer is the greatest gift – direct communication with your Creator!

  51. Eric – No! I must now clarify ALL in order to move on.

    1st – you say ‘I only meant’ – well, I know what you meant, I was correcting your use of the word, not what you meant!
    Unfortunately though, you have still not understood what I said.

    As I explained, I did not understand it ALL entirely as begging that’s why I thought The Lord’s Prayer offered us an exception, and, that Jesus has told us this is the way to pray, SUGGESTING to me that no more is required and my thinking has offered me some substantiation (but I’m trying you to test it with me). That part I clarifed before. Also, it has never been a ‘claim’ of mine – I’m still not there, I’m still on the journey, not within reach of a ‘claim’ (‘meant’ and ‘claim’ both wrong, so now, may I please remind you of Alice in Wonderland). Furthermore, you came to your ‘unexpected’ place purely because you misunderstood my motive as claiming rather than asking you about this, (this hints at your own thinking), and you thought I was also there (‘we’). These three errors of yours, being in public print, imply (to yourself and any others around), that I too am confused and this isentirely wrong, as explained. We will indeed get fed up if we have to correct each other’s false colouring too often. Perhaps we’re done with this now and can move forward? I am quite confident that your motive towards me is good and patient, but….?

    As a consequence of your mistakes you now ask a silly question -‘Why is communicating with the one in who’s presence you’re in a bad thing?’ This error is merely a consequence of your first, so providing you have a good grip on the facts now, it can be scrubbed.

    You have, also, twice tried explaining the meaning of communication and now yet again. I understand the benefit of communication, but when I referred to marriage I was referring to something greater than that so this pointer of yours was never actually pertinent. If I go back there to explain what I was actually referring to we’ll get in a maze. So back to the main issue of prayer:

    So, moving on ..1. You haven’t picked up on my question asking if this is a known controversial debate.
    2. You also don’t respond to my repeated attempts to refer to Jesus telling us to pray with the prayer he gave us, The Lord’s Prayer.
    Is there any chance you could please so we can move on to seeking the root cause of this matter? (MOST certainly not asked with sarcasm).

  52. 1. I did pass over your question about whether there is a controversy over the Lords prayer and the verse about when 2 or 3 are gathered. Honestly I don’t understand your question. What controversy or conflict are you referring. I don’t see it.

    2. What do you mean with this one? I haven’t responded to your “repeated attempts to refer to Jesus telling us to pray with the prayer he gave us, the Lord’s Prayer”? What are you looking for here? I’ve responded, perhaps not in the way you expected.

    And what is the “root cause” of the matter? Are we looking for a cause? I’m completely lost in this discussion. If you want to “move on” you’ll have to help me out. I’ve got a lot going on right now so try to make it simple for me.

  53. Thanks Eric, don’t worry, this is THE END of it. I do appreciate you fitting me in. I think that to do best, I’d better, first of all, unravel your last question on ‘root cause’ so, firstly:

    As a result of earlier conversation, you asked me if I really thought prayer may be a waste of time, and, show a kind of begging, stemming from a weaker faith. I explained why I see prayer this way, and, that I have reason to see the Lord’s Prayer as something MORE than this, and that Jesus’ words substantiate this for me. Then we got into a rut of you explaining the purpose of prayer per se, trying again, ending by stating the obvious and now getting completely lost in the rut. The root cause which caused us to go astray with you ending up lost is that the initial comment of mine was about prayer and it only later came out that I exclude the Lord’s Prayer. Unfortunately, the wrong ball and got rolling and continued to roll till now. I never got to explain what the difference is between The Lord’s and our prayer.
    Now, it is evident that because you do not see the difference I see you’ve not only stated the obvious, you cannot see what it is that you have not responded to, or what possible controversy I could be asking about the existence of! It’s quite funny really now I see it!

    I wanted you to see what’s happened here so you don’t go off shaking your head twice!! If we finish now you may understand what’s led to you being lost even though you still won’t understand what it was about! I’m sorry but it has made me see the funny side of it all! I think we would have got somewhere but the initial confusion has caused more to follow, along the way.

    As it stands Eric, it suggests that it may well be time to stop. You are not likely to be able to provide an answer when you don’t even see the difference in question. I think, It is not for me to proceed to explain the the question I’ve posed, (though I could!), and in any case, you’ve got too much on at the moment, (your moment does not coincide with mine). You’ve made me welcome and so I may well enter any future discussion but only to give what I am more confident over rather than to present you with my questions. You’ll be glad of that I rather think. Thank you so much for all your help. We are surely on the same road.

  54. Hate to disappoint you Eric, but, it’s not! But just the final one to come as it is THE answer! 🙂 I do love you, me old mucker! You’re great in my eyes. You kept patient and polite and persevered with me – a true friend. so now, for the last:

    I frequently hear religious people praying for many different things in life usually relating to health and the things money can buy, i.e. their physical and mental health. Jesus said ‘Physician, heal thyself’. These prayers are even lengthy at times, but short or lengthy they abound!
    The Lord’s Prayer is different because everything we need is in it. This is why Jesus said ‘When you pray, pray like this’. (And after the address to God we begin with ‘Give us this day’, so, the appropriate time to give this prayer is in the morning).

    My point being that Jesus knows that we need not go about everywhere at each and every opportunity praying for this, that, and the other. We need only one prayer – His. It contains everything we need and everything we need to acknowledge.

    From this point on life will be as it will be ‘Che sera, sera’. We are meant to be content with what we get, we must suffer it with decorum and learn how to become love as set by Jesus’ example to us. This part is our own responsibility as this is why Jesus says ‘Physician heal thyself’. (In my opinion, Jesus’ words are not to be seen in isolation. If we do this we miss much and thereby confuse much. We even get to argue, and even murder. Just the opposite of what we’re told).

    Eric, I have perfect reason to know, (not a word I often use), I have thrown you a speck of light. It will be a pity if you turn away from it as I’ve found that it provides light to go further with and to join others already there. This is not the time for me to elaborate. You will do as you will at your own pace. We will meet again. Later!(with celebrations). Thank you so much for supporting me while I grew up. Very best wishes, nay, love to you and yours.

    PS. Because I see your position I may be back on site to try to help others, (if you’ll allow me), but, if I do, I’ll stick within your boundaries, I respect them, always have, and always will. (I expect you’re shaking that head again 🙂 ).

  55. Eric, Just an after-thought – I didn’t mean those ‘already’ further than you. I mean further than you could take me with my train of thought. Glad I thought of that as it is important to clarify/qualify.

  56. Thanks Dichasium. Two thoughts: Jesus didn’t say “physician heal thyself.” It was a prophesy that those who mudered him would say it, and they did. Second, the Lord did not give the Lord’s Prayer as an end all be all of prayer, he gave it to teach His disciples “how” to pray at their request. The Psalms are a good place to start if one desires to see what prayer looks like in the practice of a true prophet of God. Just a thought. This is my last reply here. 🙂

  57. Sorry Eric I’ve just seen your reply. I note you won’t be replying which is in accord with my own suggestion as you were totally lost on my question about the Lord’s Prayer (you cannot help me to clarify something you don’t even see!). However, I must reply to you to at least let you know I’m still seeking to clarify as, this, your last reply on the matter, is still open for me. I wish to justify myself, so I’ll say this. Apparently Jesus did refer to the maxim as an accepted proverb, as indeed proverbs are. Therefore it was acceptable to him too. But, as he went on to say, not when in ones home town as, there, such apparent miracle would never be acknowledged (it would therefore be ‘casting ones pearls to the swine’). Therefore he did not deny the truth of it and backs this concept up in many places like the fact that the kingdom of God (health and peace) is within. Back to the Lord’s Prayer – you said it – Jesus said this is HOW to pray. I know there are many prayers elsewhere but to me I hear Jesus as having said this is how to pray. Period (or full stop as we say here). To me it’s most certainly not given as a template but the way to pray. I also see the absolute sense in there being absolutely no need for any more and the logic for this is that not only does it cover ALL our needs, it draws a line as prayer could otherwise, and (and frequently does), go on and on and on, like the wailing wall. Jesus’ words, to me, stand out a mile just as they are. He speaks directly to my ears. I keep my mind open but will need much more convincing argument. I have no objection whatsoever if others need more. Mine is never an argument, it began as a question/suggestion and I still believe it to be true. That’s why on this subject, at least, we currently differ. I keep integrity with my open mind till something moves it and you will do the same. Thanks ever so much for trying. You are kind.Always welcome here in mid-Wales 🙂

  58. Eric has said he is not replying to any more posts here but anyone following may be interested to see the apparent connection between Eric’s and many other Chrisitan views and that of openobserver’s earlier apparent message. I do strongly believe this is it:

    The consciousness of the living entity, although qualitatively one with the supreme consciousness, is not supreme because the consciousness of one particular body does not share that of another body. But the Supersoul, which is situated in all bodies as the friend of the individual soul, is conscious of all bodies. That is the difference between supreme consciousness and individual consciousness.

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