(with apologies to Supernaut)

I’m currently trying to put a blog together on the way that christians often seem to want to have it both ways. What started me thinking about this was reading several comments on the net from christians, stating something like:

A ‘true’ christian wouldn’t do that….

Often in response to someone pointing out that christians had killed in the name of god.

The christian people doing the killing were claiming they were doing it in accordance with their religious text, but their christian opponents were claiming the text doesn’t authorise that.

They can’t both be right, can they?

Anyway it got me thinking, and I’ve started writing a more in-depth look at this and other aspects of the duality of christian thinking, but it could take me a while. So I thought I’d just write this quick starter and perhaps get a few replies to help me along the way.

So, please send comments, from either side of the debate.

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17 Comments to “I Like It Both Ways”

  1. dogbarber says:

    Not all hristians are Christians…especially those who willingly and chronically live outside the way we are called to live. They are christians by profession, not by conviction nor new birth.

    There is a bible verse that says, “Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, didn’t we drive out demons and heal in your name? To which He will say, Depart from me, I never knew you.”

    I’m willing to talk with you anytime or input in any way I can, as long as it is respectful. You can find me at thefoolishgalatian.wordpress.com/ or thefoolishgalatian at gmail dot com

    And yes….there are true Christians, and there are false christians and one day the wheat will be separated from the tares. Anyone who kills in or Lords name is not His disciple any more than Judas was. He was by sight to the onlooking world, but not by the rebirth of his heart.

  2. Those christians that are doing the killing are just reading the bible the wrong way – apparently. Or maybe they are just reading the old testament which has been superceded by the teachings od Jesus, oh but hang on there is the bit about taking a a scurge(sp?) to moneylenders, hmmm.

    Christianity from the very beginning has been used to control the populace, to be used for both peace and war, probably why it has endured.

  3. Mathew Chapter 10 Verse 34

    Jesus says ” Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword”.

    What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. The bible is so appallingly written and edited that it is open to both good and bad usage. The liklihood that what is written is the words of Jesus is also highly dubious.

    True Christians, really, to be a true Christian and live up to everything presented in Scripture you would have to be schizophrenic, or you’d end up going that way trying.

    Dogbarber ,

    I am intrested in what you consider to be a true Christian, but be warned I will not respect that which does not deserve it. I will be couteous but If I smell bullshit I’ll call it.

  4. dogbarber says:

    Jesus was not speaking of a literal sword…he was saying He would bring division…even among households. It is metaphorical language and needs to be understood as such where context allows it. As with anything, you must read scripture in its full context. Ripping one text out of a million with no context has started wars and formed cults.
    Here is the context:

    34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

    When one comes to faith in the Lord, it WILL divide. An unbelieving person in a marriage or family of believers will create stresses and division…my own family being a case. Many new believers are essentially put out of their families because of their faith.

    We are not called to observe every jot and tiddle in the scripture as if it were some law or do this or you go to hell…we do it because we love our Master. If we fail and are truly broken and contrite when we due, He is just to forgive us if we confess it to Him alone. It is not a license to sin.

    A true Christian, to answer your question, is one born of the Spirit…made alive in Christ as Saul (later Paul) was converted on the way to Demascus. Roman Catholicism will teach you you are saved by the Cross plus works plus sacraments, plus baptism, plus on and on and on.

    But I affirm, as does scripture, that we are saved by grace, through faith alone.

    Eph 2:4 But [2] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

    I will be happy to converse with you anytime. I too was once an atheist no less than 6 years ago this April until my “road to Demascus” as it were.

    …and if you want to throw rocks from your side of the fence with course language, then I will call it and walk away.

    You have an open mic with me.

  5. Yes I am aware that it is metaphorical. One must then ask, why be metaphorical when you can be direct and not obscure you mean.

    Jesus was talking to his disciples(assuming that these were the words of Jesus), one possibility was that saying that he was coming to destory families to gather followers regardless of the costs to the family, to established ties, because he was the messiah. Of course we are recieving this message third hand translated through a couple of languages, an written down from oral tradition, then manipulated by unscroupulous or ignorant scribes so who really knows.

    The language is deliberately violent and obscure and your interpetation is no more correct than those who would use it as an example of the hardship of faith or as a justification for war. You can construct Jesus however you want, it is nice to know though that at least you have a peaceful concept in mind.

    On good old Saint Paul, I don’t have a high opinion of this character. A self hating oportunist. That exported his hate to the rest of Christendom.

    In terms of True Christians are you saying that you must have “damascus moment” to recieve the spirit as it were. That it does not matter what works you perform?

    On stone throwing, toughen up buddy, your saviour supposedly endured crucifiction , if you are going to give up when criticised or when I throw a few harsh words your way then maybe you need to ask if this Christianity gig is really for you.

    I too once was a christian until I woke up to the contradictions, and the mental contortions, the self deception, but hey horses for courses.

  6. dogbarber says:

    I would argue you never were a Christian. christian, yes. Christian, no.

    Jesus spoke in parables/metaphors to cloak His language to only those who were given ears to hear it. His words were not for everyone, despite what you may think. Only for those chosen before the foundations of the world. In His high priestly prayer, He prays “not for the world, but for those given Him by the Father.”

    Have you ever seen some the existing manuscripts from Biblical times? If you do some research, or if you are willing to, you can access them. You will find the original Greek and Hebrew texts are still there and still match todays translations. A concordance can help….if you are willing to pick one up.

    Works come after faith, not the other way around. We are saved by faith to do good works. We are not judged on whether or not we did a ton of good stuff. That’s Roman Catholicism. Our righteousness is alien to us. It is His righteousness that is imputed to us when we believe on Him and Him alone for our salvation.

    And no, He didn’t endure crucification. He ultimately died and was raised on teh third day.

    Curious….how do you define the gospel? Judging by your wording of Paul as saint (capital S), you sound as if you were raised Roman Catholic. Yes???? So if that is the case, you were “born into it” and were forced through until your teenage years. THAT religion will do enough to screw up anyone and has sent more people to damnation than anything else.

    Harsh language isn’t how I usually deal with an intelligent person wanting to have an intelligent discussion. I’ve read you posts and you are a very intelligent, well thought man. That language does not become you….but hey. It’s your blog. I’m just visiting.

    Damascus road moment? Yes. It’s not a physical falling of scales as it was in Pauls instance. It’s a “falling of scales from the heart” of a man when He is justified the moment he believes. It is all of Grace.

  7. I guess by your definition I was never a real christian, that’s your perogative, but just because you say it does not make it so. It’s is beside the point though because it does not matter to me.

    So Jesus did come to save just anyone, just those selected before the creation of the world. What absolute nonsense (wanted to use a swear word here, but being good). So True Christians are a chosen people, stole that idea from the Jews. Despicable in fact. Walks periously close to being a spiritual superior race.

    What do you consider biblical times? 1st century AD? 3rd Century? Translations match? Translations never match, there is always interpretation in the translation and here is where error can and did come in (note the controversy over the translation of “virgin”). Do you speak/read Hebrew, Ancient Greek?

    If you decide that you do good work by the grace of god so be it at least you do it. I do good work, simply because it is good to do it.

    On the crucifiction, he endured the crucifiction and died and rose on the Third day just like the God Mithras (also born of a virgin) only if memory serves correct about 1000 years before Jesus.

    Yes was raised Catholic, Saint Paul just conventional usage – here saint paul.
    Yeah Catholicism is an evil institution its works for good overwhelmed by the evil that it promotes and supports, that being said you owe them a debt for without them Christianity would have died a long time ago. On a side note, my religious upbrining was hardly forced, indeed I did more religious study after leaving the church.

    Harsh language , intelligence? The wonder that is a good curse? I use harsh language for emphasis or when I am lazy – it is a blog and rather informal. Sometimes I find it refreshing to be straight up, so if you prefer incoherent,self contradictory nonsense to bullshit so be it, can’t promise anything though.

    By the way this is Ozatheists blog not mine (hint, hint Ozatheist).

    I do think we are too divergent in ideas to really have a serious discussion. You beliefs/articles of faith are just so ridiculous to my thinking, understanding of the world , that I can not take you seriously as a rational, critically thinking individual and I say this genuinely and without malice.

    To get to the original question of Ozatheist, scripture is obscure and contrdictory which is why it can be used/twisted to malignant ends, why christians (note not True Christians) can have it both ways.

  8. Matthew says:

    I do think we are too divergent in ideas to really have a serious discussion. You beliefs/articles of faith are just so ridiculous to my thinking, understanding of the world , that I can not take you seriously as a rational, critically thinking individual and I say this genuinely and without malice.

    …then my e-mail and door are always open to you. Be well.

  9. Poodles says:

    If someone could ever actually PROVE that this god is real…

    The ark of God was placed on a new cart and taken away from the house of Abinadab on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab guided the cart, with Ahio walking before it, while David and all the Israelites made merry before the Lord with all their strength, with singing and with citharas, harps, tambourines, sistrums, and cymbals.

    When they came to the threshing floor of Nodan, Uzzah reached out his hand to the ark of God to steady it, for the oxen were making it tip. But the Lord was angry with Uzzah; God struck him on that spot, and he died there before God. (2 Samuel 6:3-7 NAB)

    I sure as crap wouldn’t worship such a jerk.

  10. Poodles says:

    Oh and please, tell me how that is metaphor for something besides douche.

  11. Russ says:

    Since there are more than 30,000 distinct “True Christian” denominations worldwide with their beliefs running from atheists harboring no supernatural beliefs whatsoever to thousands of distinct conceptions of a deity – gods that send people to hell and gods that don’t; gods that revel in the numerous massacres portrayed in the various bibles and gods that don’t; gods that hate non-christians and gods that don’t; gods that hate homosexuals and gods that don’t; gods that send people to burn forever for denying the “holy spirit” and gods that don’t; gods that demand that people not consume alcohol and gods that don’t; gods that would burn their own children throughout eternity for daring to have sex before being properly married and gods that don’t. It is in fact the case that the numerous christian sects define their gods with such distinct powers, characteristics and capabilities that christianity is actually polytheistic. It is obvious that a god that sends persons to hell is very different from one that doesn’t and, yet, both of those types of gods, as well as no gods, have followers in christianities all over the world. Christianity is not one religion; christianity does not worship one god; there is not one single point of doctrine that is common among the vast oceans of christianities – not a belief in any specific god or conception of god, not a belief in the divinity of J, not a belief in resurrections or virgin births.

    Just like Joseph Smith did with Moronism (oops, I did, of course, mean Mormonism) and just as Mary Baker Eddy did with Christian Science, anyone at all can simply fabricate their own version of what it means to be a true christian.

    If you mull over these few tidbits, you will likely arrive at the conclusion that not only is there no “true christianity” but that the rubric of “christian” itself is totally meaningless since it is whatever the bearer of the moniker decides it to be.

  12. stacy says:

    I don’t know if this is anything near what you’re looking for, but I’ll give it a shot anyway. I had a conversation today with one of the most devout Christians I know. He is also a very intelligent science-minded person. A freak of nature, if you will.

    When discussing the nature of God, he brought up that I had posted on my blog that I hate the character of the Christian God, and asked why. I told him because the Christian God is a tyrant who is a crappy “teacher” (providing no concrete answers “Himself”).

    He asked just exactly where I learned about this tyrannical God and I told him from the Bible. This is where it the conversation starts to get swimmy…

    He said God isn’t a tyrant, that is just what my personal judgment tells me about Him, and ultimately my judgment is based upon the fact that I don’t “have” the “Holy Spirit” guiding me in my study of the Bible.

    Now I’ve studied the Bible, both as a believer earlier in life, and with my atheist colored glasses. I guess the “Holy Spirit” has ignored me and left me to my puny and undeserving human judgment my whole life. (By the way, apparently your judgment isnt’ actually YOURS, because death can take it away. Isn’t that special?)

    One thing that I asked him was about “doubting Thomas.” The story of Thomas poking his finger into the rib hole of Jesus…is it not proof that Jesus/God have the ability to literally show themselves to doubters, and is it not proof that Jesus/God WANTED to do so? Is it not proof that I have reason to either be skeptical when Jesus doesn’t come to my house/work/bar/appear in my car on the way to work/etc. and let me poke MY finger in his rib hole or feel completely abandoned by God? I mean, if God made me and knows me, he knows I doubt, and he knows I’m a tactile person who needs to be bashed over the head with a rib hole to believe……why was Thomas good enough, and I’m not?

    If that’s an unoriginal thought, I apologize. It came out of my own rib hole, er, I mean, brain head.

  13. ozatheist says:

    Well said Stacy.

    Like you I’ve studied the Bible (well small amounts of it, though probably more than most ‘religious’ people) from both sides and obviously I have that same judgment problem. Strange that there are millions of others like us.

    I like your take on ‘doubting Thomas’, that’s a new one to me. I’ve been wondering how to attack the doubting Thomas argument, if you don’t mind I’ll incorporate some of your idea.

  14. saintlewis says:

    This is why understanding a texts/passages literary and historical context is of the utmost importance. Of those who truly believe the Bible, and understand it’s authors original intended meanings – ie,: solid academic evangelicals – you will find great agreement on their understanding of the Scriptures, and little penchant for radical violent silliness. The violence often stems from fundamentalists (who believe, but don’t understand – simple minded folk that sadly can’t think out there own cultural mindset) or liberals (such as much of the larger church in Germany, who bought into Hitler’s scam – who himself was actually a pagan according to his personal diaries – because they DIDN’T actually believe the Bible but in a ‘progressive idea’ of man, for whom Christ was an example, not a savior). Again, among solid scholarly Evangelicals, I’ve seen little of the radical stuff folks like Dawkins accuse the religious of.

  15. Millyonair says:

    This is a fascinating discourse, however sad it makes me. In the past I have also participated in the rationalization of scripture; picking it apart to look for things I didn’t understand. I too have read stories from the Old Testament, and thought, “Wow, God is a douche!” But the problem was that I wasn’t earnestly seeking the truth, I was looking for reasons to disbelieve, because that was easier (requiring no faith), and it made me feel “smart” to have disproved the validity of something I saw as merely a device for establishing an obedient and moderately “moral” populace (or as a spiritual security blanket for the intellectually lazy). I was looking for a way to justify my own intelligence and my own self-sufficient spirituality. The ability to think critically and abstractly is sometimes a blessing and sometimes a curse. Needing to know why, needing empirical evidence is part of my nature. But I have found that faith requires more of me than the most acute rationalization or intellectual endeavors. It continues to challenge me.

    This happened after I (finally) approached God, and earnestly asked Him to reveal Himself to me, to help me to understand His nature. It didn’t come all at once, but God is faithful to answer prayer. And He respects-nay, delights in- the earnest desire to understand and know Him. So take heart, fellow “doubting Thomases,” God adores you, and He really does want to show Himself to you. Ask Him- and keep an open mind- chances are He won’t look at all like you think He does. And you will have a peace you have not yet known.

    Regarding Scripture: I come across Scriptures all the time that I don’t understand. I accept that much of the meaning of the Bible has been obscured in translation, that the original words may have been in reference to something or making analogies that were relevant to the time and the culture in which they were written. When I ask God to reveal the meaning to me, He invariably does. This sometimes happens quickly, and sometimes the lesson takes more time. The amazing thing is that God is so big, and powerful and capable that He can overcome those cultural and translational discrepancies. God is bigger than the Bible, and He’s bigger than its misuses.

    Because there is evil in the world, there will be people who will justify their worldly endeavors with scripture. There will be churches and people within a church that will behave wrongly or hurtfully. No one, not even a “True Christian,” is perfect, and the devil is exceedingly clever. And while the Bible is an extraordinary tool packed with wisdom, it can be terrifically complicated and requires earnest study to understand. In my own life, it is important to remember that the only rules Jesus really cared for us to follow were: 1.)Love God and 2.) Love each other. It sounds simple, and it is. But it’s also enough to keep our minds and our spirits very busy indeed.

  16. Millyonair,

    It sounds like you switched from wanting to disbelieve to wanting to believe. All of us(humans) have an inbuilt propensity to filter out that which does not support our hypothesis. Thereby what we believe, or think to be true can and does radically effect our perceptions and interpretation of evidence.

    The scientific method is the best method for helping to filter out the confrimation biases and even then this is not perfect.

    So that’s my reading of your story you simply jumped the fence and now you see God’s hand when you ask to see it – more power to you if that encourages you to good and live a good life.

    When I step back and survey the evidence at hand I don’t see any entity.

    How terrible and useless is this word God, as a descriptor it can be taken to mean something very specific or an ocean of possibilities. From God is Yaweh the vengeful storm god of the israelites, to god being everything/existance, reality. Whatever is most comforting to the person constructing it, him, her.

    The bible requies, probaly above average reading ability, and some moderate critical thinking to be understood. Packed with wisdom is a bit of a stretch, there are some good bits, but nothing that has not arisen elsewhere in other cultures out of the human experience.

    Overall I find your post a little condescending, boiling down to:

    1. I was once prideful and conceited like you are?
    2. That using reason and evidence is not as hard as faith?
    3. That god loves you my children and he will be ready when you have finished rebelling – cough “prodigal son” cough.
    4. That god personally interacts with me (argument from personal experience) and is true and real.
    5. God is big,
    6. We should love one another

    With point 6 being the only one with any merit.

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