CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

The title of this essay asks a good question. Does Christianity need to be defended? If Christianity is so readily believable, as Christians maintain, why defend it? As we will establish, it is not for our sakes or even for Christianity's sake that we defend our faith in Christ. The ministry of apologetics is a service to the unbeliever and not an actual defence of that which truly needs no defense. See also, If Christianity is true, why does it need so much defending? at Christian-Thinktank.com. This same site also provides a good essay giving eight reasons for apologetics. And a really good essay about the Church's failure to realize the importance of apologetics can be found here at Tektonics.org.

First, what is apologetics?

The short answer is: It's the branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines. A much more detailed answer is here at Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry ; a very fine site.

Do we need to defend Christianity?

C. S. Lewis writes:

"We who defend Christianity find ourselves constantly opposed not by the irreligion of our hearers but by their real religion. Speak about beauty, truth and goodness, or about a God who is simply the indwelling principle of these three, speak about a great spiritual force pervading all things, a common mind of which we are all parts, a pool of generalized spirituality to which we can all flow, and you command friendly interest.

But the temperature drops as soon as you mention a God who has purposes and performs particular actions, who does one thing and not another, a concrete, choosing, commanding, prohibiting God with a determinate character. People become embarrassed or angry. Such a conception seems to them primitive and crude and even irreverent. The popular ‘religion’ excludes miracles because it excludes the ‘living God’ of Christianity and believes instead in a kind of God who obviously would not do miracles, or indeed anything else." [1]

When we get to the heart of most skeptics' stubborness, we find they aren't necessarily opposed to belief in God per se. They actually oppose what they suspect He stands for. Specifically, they oppose His authority over mankind. And, in many cases, they oppose their personal, twisted caricature of what Christianity truly is.

Ask the average skeptic or anti-theist to tell you of the god he/she doesn't believe in and you will most likely not believe in that god either. The heart of their problem is the problem with their heart. They are so set on not being ruled by God, they haven't bothered to truly find out who the God of the Bible is. I posit that, whether it's disbelief or misbelief we find, it's a worthwhile ministry to help people to understand the truth about Jehovah God!

An atheist's heart is exposed

I was once asked a question. The questioner was a particularly profane and blasphemous atheist, who didn't really want an answer, but sought only to heckle a defender of Christianity. He asked me why I bothered to defend Christianity. He went on to state that Christianity wouldn't need defenders if it weren't such an evil institution.

I found this question quite engaging. It did not engage me in the way our atheist friend meant for it to, but it did provoke reflection. I reflected upon why he ‘felt' that Christianity was an evil institution. Subsequent colloquy revealed his fractured reasoning. He cut loose with the usual profane venting about the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, and the allegations that Hitler was a Christian. See articles here and here for answers to that allegation.

What did this exchange produce? Well, it led to our atheist friend answering his own question. As I see it, all his snarling accusations demonstrated precisely why Christianity should be defended. It must defended for the sake of those who disbelieve and misbelieve. In essence, Christian apologists are defending unbelievers from themselves.

In Hebrews 5:1,2 we read: "For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity."

Verses like these should be reflected upon by any apologist who is considering hanging up his/her arguments. A minister/servant of God is called to intercede on behalf of those who sin and try to draw them to Christ. This is the reason I don't like to engage in heated, petty debates where personal attacks are launched. This activity is not Christ-like and it doesn't win anyone to Him.

So, how are we to approach this problem?

The greater weight born in Christian apologetics is not carried by the scholarly defense of Biblical text. And it's also not carried by the efforts of those who present scientific data to support theism's assertions that we don't live in an accidental universe or that Earth's life forms didn't create and develop themselves.

Neither does successful Christian apologetics ride upon the back of the complex philosophical wrestling matches between us and proponents of other religions. The heart and soul of Christian apologetics exists in getting people to see their need for a Savior. I posit that, if you can get a stiff necked unbeliever to see their lostness, you have all but won the battle.

Unbelievers hide from God behind their criticisms of Christianity

There is a satanic smoke screen used by those who don't want to see the truth about right and wrong. Secular Humanism, Moral Relativism, and plain liberal licentiousness are at the heart of this soul damning problem. Non-Christians are either grossly misinformed or deliberately ignorant regarding the things of God. Just like our aforementioned friend, so many deliberately define Christianity by its abuses and its abusers.

They don't care to hear about or acknowledge the many charitable efforts that Christians are engaged in worldwide. No, and they are even less interested in the boundless testimonial evidence of lives saved from the brink of destruction by Christ's love and power.

They callously ignore stories of Christians' loving attendance when disaster strikes in the lives of individuals or even entire nations. Again, they'd rather focus upon only those instances where Christendom received the proverbial ‘black eye' because of the failures of one or more persons who are only ostensibly Christian.

Are we saying here that no genuine Christian ever fails? No. The fact that all men still possess a certain propensity for failure only shows how much we all need Christ's oversight. Besides this, what sense does it make to throw out a baby with the bath water? Why turn your back on Christ because of the intermittent failures of His people?

Why is it seemingly impossible to get skeptics to divorce bad human behavior from perfectly good theology? Apologists and evangelists try ardently to get unbelievers to look at Christ and not fallen mankind. However, their efforts are often in vain. One hates to leave people to their own destruction, but we have no alternative once we've done all we can do. Even God Himself doesn't "make" anyone accept the truth of the Gospel.

Many are those who follow the broad path to perdition. They look prejudicially at world history and ferret out instances where villains have done horrible things under a malevolent banner of some twisted form of pseudo-Christianity. Though one may try time and again to point out that these characters were actually motivated by money and political power, unbelieving critics won't hear of it. Their minds are made up and they adamantly refuse to give credit where it's due.

They launch screaming invectives and mordant mumbles at every one who dares to name the name of Christ. Look at any internet discussion forum and you will see "reasonably" intelligent people acting as if they live to punish people for their beliefs. This is the type of stereotyping that our modern, politically correct society allegedly abhors.

Yet, the same multi-cultural secularists, who preach about acceptance, callously deride believers and seek to eradicate all mention of Christ from the world. Where is the politically correct openness and acceptance in this? And to think that it's Christians who are called intolerant bigots.

Why doth the heathen rage?

If unbelievers truly think Christianity is some fantasy religion, why does the mention of Christ's name anger unbelievers so? One may try and dissuade a person from believing that the moon is made of green cheese, but it doesn't make sense to hate them for believing it. So, why would any "intelligent" person fight against others simply because they believe in Jehovah God? The reason lies in the injurious realm of carnal thinking. The moral and ethical precepts of true Christianity are hateful and binding to the secular mind.

Rom. 8:7 says, "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." This, in a nutshell, explains the innate, anti-Christian hostility of atheistic and liberal thinkers. As long as people of God proliferate the world, they know that their secular political agendas are going to be opposed. Are there any anti-theists who will admit this? Yes.

Aldous Huxley, son of Thomas Huxley, writes:

"I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; and consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics. He is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do. For myself, as no doubt for most of my friends, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom. The supporters of this system claimed that it embodied the meaning - the Christian meaning, they insisted - of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and justifying ourselves in our erotic revolt: we would deny that the world had any meaning whatever." [2]

Here, Huxley openly admits that his aversion to Christianity was part of a particular agenda. It was not that he couldn't believe in Christ, but that he didn't want to. He openly states that he saw Christian morality as an impediment to erotic whimsy. So, Huxley remained deliberately ignorant of what serving Christ would do to change his life. Having said that, isn't it ironic that he also made the following statement?

"Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We don't know because we don't want to know. It is our will that decides how and upon what subjects we shall use our intelligence... No philosophy is completely disinterested. The pure love of truth is always mingled to some extent with the need, conciously or unconciously felt by even the noblest and the most intelligent philosophers" [3]

-- Aldous Huxley

Ironically, Huxley speaks of willful ignorance when his own thinking epitomized what it meant to be willfully ignorant. By the way, Huxley is wrong here. Willful ignorance is the most in-vincible ignorance of all! People who don't want to know something will not know it. There are none so blind . . .

I humbly adjure all skeptics and atheists alike to consider the following point closely. No matter what you've experienced in your life, no matter what you've seen other humans do, never stop looking for the truth. Don't let outrage and disillusionment dissuade you from finding what true Christians have already found. A true Christian isn't out to gather people to himself, but to Christ. We seek to gather people to Christ for Christ's sake and theirs.

In fact, let the following scripture speak for us regarding pure intentions. In 2 Corinthians 4:3-5 we read, "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake."

C. David Ragland, Jr.


Footnotes:

[1] C. S. Lewis, "Miracles: A preliminary study"
[2] Aldous Huxley, "Ends and Means, 1937"
[3] Aldous Huxley, "Ends and Means, 1937 pg. 270-272"

33 comments:

David said...This is the reason I don't like to engage in heated, petty debates where personal attacks are launched. This activity is not Christ-like and it doesn't win anyone to Him.

There are two good reasons for treating those who disagree politely: 1) People will listen to you, which is the goal, isn't it?; 2) You might learn something in the interchange of these ideas, since no one has a corner on the truth.

What do you think is the reason so many Christians do not follow your advice here? Frank Walton’s tactics are obvious, Paul Manata’s position can be found here, and JP Holding’s position (whom you link to) is to be found here.

Hello John,

I have read your question and do appreciate your thoughtful and polite response, John. So, I will answer in kind. By the way, I wish to let anyone and everyone else know something before I begin answering Mr. Loftus. I am not in the habit of being angry at any human being who is not out to harm any other human being in any way.

I am not an angry person, as I once was, and wish to lead a peaceful life. Additionally, I do not wish to exchange intellectual insults with anyone and do not seek to have the conversations generated by my blog contributions turn into a flamefest. {L}

Moreover, I do not bother myself to respond to angry, bare assertions or any other type of comment that appears to do nothing more than deliver a poorly expressed ad homonem attack. For those not familiar with the term, I rarely EVER respond to comments which are designed to be nothing more than an attack on a person’s character rather than an answer to the ideas and contentions expressed.

Thanks so much for enduring the digression. {s}

Christians, as a subset of humanity, are prone to sometimes lose their cool just like anyone else. I “TRY” to avoid such and be as logical and calm as I can, but that’s me. Also, while a main objective in following Christ is to 'be like Him', it doesn't mean that all of His followers will follow perfectly.

However, I realize that you are not talking specifically about the occasional misbehavior, right? Your question seeks to address someone developing and maintaining a particular style of discourse that is well . . . less than amiable. That's a fair enough question.

Well, again there are different types of 'humans' in Christendom just like there are different types of 'humans' in all walks of life on Earth. I don’t wish to allow myself to be lured into a discussion about the motives and attitude of other apologists. I can only speak for C. David Ragland, Jr. We all have our own particular style in handling these debates and not all of us agree on how we should disagree.

And by the way, let’s be totally fair here, John. Can you say that everyone in your camp is a paragon of gentleness and humility? No, you can’t. {s} Can I not fairly ask you the same questions regarding those who agree with your particular worldview?

I think it’s important that we all look logically at the subjects to be dealt with and avoid trying to punish someone for disagreeing with us or getting in our way politically. Let’s not let our passions take us to places we don’t need to be as intelligent beings.

In closing, let’s consider the message of the following quote:

“As we point people to the truth, the need for apologetics is inescapable. We learn how to make arguments for the existence of God, for the truth of the Scriptures, for the deity and resurrection of Christ, and for countless other nonnegotiables of the faith. As we build these arguments on sound logic, evidence, and scholarship, we must not divorce them from the message of the Gospel: Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief. When we falter in our own example, we can offer people a redeemer-our Redeemer.” – Betsy Childs,

By the way, Betsy Childs is correspondence assistant at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and you can view her article “The Apologetic of Humility” @ http://www.rzim.org/resources/jttran.php?seqid=94.

I wouldn’t get caught up in looking solely at the attitudes of people on either side in these debates, John. Look at the ideas being expressed and judge the merit of them separately from the animus that may exist. More importantly, continue to look at Jesus’ assertions above those of all others. True apologetics, in my humble opinion, is the job of clearing the philosophical bushes away so people can see Him.

Laterness . . .
C. David Ragland, Jr.

And by the way, let’s be totally fair here, John. Can you say that everyone in your camp is a paragon of gentleness and humility? No, you can’t. {s} Can I not fairly ask you the same questions regarding those who agree with your particular worldview?

Yes, you are correct here about fairness, no doubt. People are people and they come in all shapes and sizes. However, you have a problem that skeptics don't have, since skeptics don't claim to have a revelation from God telling them how to deal with skeptics.

In the OT people who led the faithful astray to serve other gods were to be killed. Aquinas argued for this on the basis that leading someone astray was the most grievious sin of all because deceived people end up in eternal punishment. Such an argument based in the Bible in an era where the church followed the OT law as a guide for a Christian nation led to the Inquisition.

I'll take it that since you can only speak for C. David Ragland, jr, that you disagree with the particular interpretations that Walton, Manata and Holding argue for based upon the the relevant Biblical texts on how to treat unbelievers, skeptics, and apostates.

Thank you. With you I can have a reasonable discussion of the ideas.

Next question. To what do you attribute their incorrect interpretations of the relvant Biblical texts? Is it that when they look into those texts that it serves as a mirror for their own personality types? That they see what they want to see in the Bible based upon their own personalities? If not, could you please explain why God was not clear about how to argue on behald of the Christian faith? I mean, really, all Jesus, Elijah or Paul had to do was to make a disclaimer to the effect that "we can do this but you cannot."

There are of course, may other much more serious questions God could've cleared up, like heretic killings as I mentioned, but those questions can be set aside for now.

Cheers.

This is a good post. I've also concluded that willful ignorance is the most invincible kind. How would a Christian apologist get past that? I know that usually one ought to leave such a person alone but what if it is someone that you really care about like a family member? Since real agape love requires us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, I think that just ignoring such people is the cruelest thing you can do. However, since I tend to be quite shy and softspoken I find myself doing just that.

I know Farnk a little and he isn't that bad of a person, but he does allow himself to go too far sometimes.

The problem I see is not so much with Christians regarding their attitudes, but with the skeptics. Skeptics seem to consider it a virtue to mock and ridicule believers (because it's warranted), but Christians aren't allowed to play that game.

Personally, the only times where I have become offensive is when I can't take the negative behavior anymore. It seems to me, sometimes, that the only way people will actually listen is when their own venom is thrown back at them.

I'm still trying to stop with that sort of reaction, but it's difficult. I can take it when other Christians say I may go to hell (they actually show a sign of care when the majority say that), but when a skeptic treats me like I'm subuman, in need of medication, or worse...it really gets to the point where I can't take that crap anymore and I explode.

John,

I will try 2 get back to you on your new comments and questions when I get back from Texas on Monday night.

Laterness . . .
David

Ron,

Thanks for the comments. This is my second time answering your comments. {s} The first time did not publish for some reason and I lost the answer. Grrr.

Anyway, apologetics is a fine tool, but not as powerful as prayer, Ron. email me: humbled@i-55.com. I would like to discuss this with you further , okay?

God bless,
David

Hello M,

You said, "It really gets to the point where I can't take that crap anymore and I explode."

I have two main points to make with regard to this matter. First, don’t let em see you sweat! I believe that taking criticism personally from people who don’t even know you is nothing more than playing into Satan’s hands. In short, this is precisely what he wants you to do. So, why give contentious misanthropes the satisfaction of knowing they’ve succeeded in riling you?

The second point is more complex. I believe that a key to success lies in learning to have a ‘healthy’ response to criticism. First, criticism and insults are not really about you personally. A person who doesn’t really know you, is actually lashing out at what you stand for.

More often than not, their ranting is spawned in a place of utter ignorance about what you’re seeking to accomplish with your assertions. Also, when people launch seemingly inexplicable invectives, it's a tell-tale sign of their own inner struggles. That is, if they weren’t talking smack to you, it would be someone else. It doesn’t matter to them, they just need a punching bag.

And let’s not forget our Bible here:

John 7:7 - The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.

Luke 6:22 - Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.

John 15:18 - If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

1 John 3:13 - Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.

Now, let’s look at what makes a person gorge themselves on haterade. {s} What are some of the causes of harsh criticism? I would say that one is good ol’ ego. Some people criticize others so they can feel better about their own miserable lives. In other words, if I can make you feel lower than a snakes belly, I may convince myself to feel better about ME. This is truly evil, but people do it. “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do (Lk 23:24)”.

Another reason people intentionally insult others is because of their lack of patience. Many folks are not capable of being courteous during debates/discussions because, they cannot patiently deal with someone disagreeing with them. This lack of maturity is their problem so, don’t allow it to become yours. {s}

Now, let’s consider the person’s upbringing and childhood traumas. We all carry baggage, don’t we? Sure. So, we mustn’t ever lose sight of the fact that a person who acts this way may have come by the tendency honestly. They may have grown up in a home where EVERYONE verbally bashed each other to pieces. These people are not necessarily our enemies. Try and look at them as patients, who need tender mercy and kindness.

And I must say that I have learned from being criticized. It’s best we learn to separate the wheat from the chaff. While some criticism may be unduly harsh and exaggerated, shouldn’t I look for a hidden grain of truth? In other words, does my critic have a point to be considered? Am I wise to ignore anything and everything some ranter says because, I don’t like his/her delivery?

M, please don’t allow anyone to impede your work. These attacks are nothing more than tests of your resolve, if you stop and think about it. Don’t let negative feedback cause you to waste time, in other words. Spend more time conversing with those who agree with you, if critics get on your nerves. "Often we have no time for our friends but all the time in the world for our enemies."

Finally how are we instructed to respond to wrath in the biblical text?

We are to give a soft answer when faced with uncontrolled anger or even deliberate attempts at ‘cage rattling’. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Pr. 15:1). Both the content and the tone of our answers to critics and those who seek to dissuade us are important. “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Pr. 12:18). You must answer in such a way as to subdue the anger of your detractors. It’s not easy, but, in the long run, you’ll be glad you let the ‘other guy’ look like a ranting prig while you observed the parameters of Christ-like decorum.

Laterness . . .
C. David Ragland, Jr.

Excellent David!

I'd add that it seems to me that the more educated a person is the less likely she will think people are stupid, ignorant, and evil simply because others disagree with her. You can see this reflected on the web and in some major debates by top notch scholars. They are respectful of one another precisely because educated people understand each others arguments.

Cheers.

C. David Ragland, Jr,

Interesting post. Couple of comments

the heart of most skeptics' stubborness, we find ... they oppose His authority over mankind
It seems that you don't fully understand non-believers. I think you should meet non-believers and try to understand them better. Of course there are couple of hecklers (sorry about the incident), but most of them are nice people...

satanic smoke screen used by those ... [~] Secular Humanism
This seems a bit odd... You could have at least linked to secular humaist web site, instead of an Christian web site, which gives slightly one sided view...

Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades ... Christian apologists are defending unbelievers from themselves.
You lost me here. Spanish Inquisition (~apologists) killed unbelievers...

The moral and ethical precepts of true Christianity are hateful and binding to the secular mind.
Hateful seems to be a bit strong description. I been talking with JRP about ethics. What is you take why god ordered to kill baby boy Midianites and what is the moral of the story? Secular mind does ponder about this too.

-Peter

Thanks, David. I really appreciate it. I need to be told these things sometimes. I'm always around non-believers so much that I forget these verses half the time.

And Peter...to answer one of your questions, the Inquisition actually killed more Christians than it did non-believers.

I'd add that it seems to me that the more educated a person is the less likely she will think people are stupid, ignorant, and evil simply because others disagree with her. You can see this reflected on the web and in some major debates by top notch scholars. They are respectful of one another precisely because educated people understand each others arguments.

I agree, Mr. Loftus.

m,

Absolutely, but the most horrendous acts were reserved for non-believers. If you confessed and accepted Jesus you were strangled to death before you were burned. Non-believers were burned alive after the standard torture...

-Peter

Thanks, david. I'll email you sometime soon.

Wow, this is a day or two old now so I'm not sure if anyone is going to check back on the comments. Just in case I would like to say that David described my thoughts exactly. I know the vast majority of people who profess to be nonbelievers have good intentions; but the things people have said to me simply because of my belief have been ridiculous. I've heard death threats, people saying that I'm the scum of the world (ironic, as Christ teaches love above all so I never understood that one), of course the typical ones like "only a moron believes in god", your so ignorant, you want to take us back to the stone age, etc. One person's avatar on a message board I'm a member of reads "Killing Christians."

Of course, I always think of the verses (as David mentioned above)where Christ says that the world hating us is normal, and then wonder if these people who spew hate-speech realize that they are inadvertantly bringing the words of Christ to fruition.

Sincerely, PC.

What was written initially here is an admission that a Christian will always think of an atheist as motivated by evil (e.g. "wilfully ignorant"). And then there are thoughts raised about the best way to dialogue with atheists.

But it is impossible to have a true dialogue with someone if you believe he is motivated at some level by evil. How can one avoid condescension or paternalism at some level, or avoid using dialogue as a tool to convert the other?

That approach is very often setting the Christian up for failure. It means that if the atheist really does have legitimate and honest arguments for not believing, they will not or cannnot be recognized as such by the Christian. Those arguments will only be interpreted as a smokescreen for an evil or self-deceptive attitude.

If the atheist fails to be ultimately convinced by the best available Christian arguments presented in the best possible manner, than the Christian cannot admit to true honesty on the atheist's part, but only to a negative attitude.

It seems to me that the problem here is the Christian's approach, which really can only be described as "arrogant" by all normal standards of social discourse. The Christian can only deny this by rejecting all normal judgements and claiming biblical licence for his or her judgmentalism against those who do not think the same as them in this respect.

Fortunately not all Christians take the bible literally and not all fall into this trap.

(It is quite odd reading on Cadre about the bad attitudes of atheists when my experience of discussions here with Christians has been that it is the Christians who resort to insults and put-downs and hypocritical threats.)

Personally, I don't think apologetics is a very good vehicle for informing Christians (I've always perferred professional scholarship)...and I'm not so sure it's very good in terms of informing others either...

The age of the rational defense ended quite awhile ago. Today, we are in the age of the behavioral defense. Faith or its absence doesn't equate with doctrines and belief or having good reasons for those doctrines and belief anymore--it equates with what you do and how you act in concert with the world because of that faith or its absence.

I would posit that one self-proclaimed Christian acting in a certain way--say, for instance, Bono going before governments and raising millions of dollars to help the needy, the poor, the infected, or the disenfranchised and letting it be known where this activity stems from, i.e., his faith--is a greater defense today than any number of apologists speaking anywhere on any topic their whole lives. And that, equally, someone's behavior can undo and destroy any defense for faith as well.

When hurricane Katrina hit us, for example, I instantly wrote a check for $1,000 to a humanitarian organization to help them bring relief to those people...and because of it couldn't afford to eat or drink anything but apple juice and spaghetti for three months. I sacrificed my comforts and luxuries to help those who were grievously afflicted and I did so because of my faith. And I think THAT is a defense that will far exceed anything I could ever argue apologetically.

Today, it is not those who can deliever well articulated or even well reasoned arguments for belief that will make a difference, but those who truly lose their lives so others may have life...as a Jewish said once said...

*Jewish sage*

Neil,

I, as a Christian, agree that we should never take the stance that anyone is evil - thats completely wrong. I'm curious where taking the Bible literally leads to "biblical licence for his or her judgmentalism against those who do not think the same..." Christ says, "Don't judge lest you be judged," as well as many other references to not judging people. I'd like to see where the New Testament states that I should judge people.

Also, in my experiences, it's atheists who take the assumption that religious people are evil. The most outspoken and famous atheist in the world, Dawkins, just released a film titled "The Root of all Evil," which suggests that every form of evil in the world stems directly from religion. I don't doubt that there are some believer's who prejudice others as being evil, but this "New Atheism" movement seems to insist that those who are religious must be viewed as such.

-PC.

PC,

I'd like to see where the New Testament states that I should judge people.
Paul actually rebukes the Corinthians for NOT judging (1 Corinthians 6:1-5). Surely you should make a judgment who is right or wrong, or who is the best political candidate.


it's atheists who take the assumption that religious people are evil. The most outspoken and famous atheist in the world, Dawkins, just released a film titled "The Root of all Evil," which suggests that every form of evil in the world stems directly from religion.
I think you might have your facts wrong here. Dawkins has said in several interviews that he did not want that title, but producers chose the title. Dawkins does not believe that anything can be a root of ALL evil. Dawkins only managed to add "?" to the end, so the title is actually a questions "The Root of all Evil?". Dawkins thinks religious people are deluted NOT evil. I'm happy if want to retract your statement once you investigate the facts again.

-Peter


Paul actually rebukes the Corinthians for NOT judging (1 Corinthians 6:1-5). Surely you should make a judgment who is right or wrong, or who is the best political candidate.


I looked those verses up in the NIV, and it seems to me that Paul is addressing a different type of judgment then the one I was addressing. Paul is addressing judgement in pety affairs that the Church in Corinth was going through; Ex. "Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers?" I was addressing if the New Testament condones judging someone who is not a believer, simply because they are not a believer.

Neil said in his original post that taking the Bible literally leads to "biblical licence for his or her judgmentalism against those who do not think the same..." But Paul, in those verses, was merely suggesting that the Corinthians appoint judges in a law system for themselves to handle their pety disputes.


I think you might have your facts wrong here. Dawkins has said in several interviews that he did not want that title, but producers chose the title. Dawkins does not believe that anything can be a root of ALL evil. Dawkins only managed to add "?" to the end, so the title is actually a questions "The Root of all Evil?". Dawkins thinks religious people are deluted NOT evil. I'm happy if want to retract your statement once you investigate the facts again.


Dawkins may not have wanted his movie to be named that, but I certainly think he hints at it in the movie (from the parts I've seen).

I found this quote from Dawkins on Google in under a minute, "I think a case can be made that faith is one of the world's great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate."
Source: http://www.salon.com/books/int/2006/10/13/dawkins/index_np.html

I additionally remember a direct quote from Christopher Hitches, another leading atheist. He said something to the extent of, "If I could wave a magic wand and remove either rape or religion from the world, I'd chose rape." Now rape is just about the most evil thing conceivable, and to place religion as worse than rape he must view it as extremely evil.

-PC

Whoops, typo.. For the Hitchens quote I meant to say "If I could wave a magic wand and remove either rape or religion from the world, I'd chose religion."

-PC.

PC,

You initially stated:
it's atheists who take the assumption that religious people are evil

Now you have moved to the statement to the quotes of Dawkins and Hitchens:
faith is one of the world's great evils and religion as worse than rape.

Note that neither one attacks religious people but faith and religion. Especially Hitchens has attacked the church as an organistation, but I dont think he has stated that ordinary Christian people are evil. The problem I saw with your statement was that I know a lot of atheist and I can not agree with your statement and I think it is not nice if you propagate a statement you can not back up. I think you should talk to an atheist and I'm pretty sure you'll find out that (s)he does not think you are evil. I'm happy if want to retract your statement once you investigate the facts again.

I as an atheist have been judged and treated as per 2 John 9-11 for example. To me it looks like New Testament provides plenty of example how heretics/non-believers are to be judged and treated.

-Peter

Peter,

I know in the vast majority of cases, atheists, agnostics, etc. don't view religious people as evil (I know several in real-life as well as on the internet). But I can't even begin to tell you how many statements I've heard that are along the lines of, "Religion should be eradicated from the earth," I've even heard extremists make death-threats to any who is religious. Now, to go that far you certainly must view religious people as much more than deluted.

I'll retract my statement in so far as the vast majority of atheists don't label religious people as evil, but I can't completely retract it because I've heard otherwise myself. I guess I was wrong on Dawkins/Hitchens. My faith is the most important thing in my life, and to view that faith / religious practice as evil, I feel as though that basically defines me as evil, since im very entwined in it. I'll take your word for it though that that is not their intention.

Those verses in 2 John seem to indicate to me that John was referring to those who have the teachings of Christ, but have perverted them or stopped caring for them (verse 9) and yet are still trying to teach them (verse 10). I think the vast majority of verses such as that are talking about avoiding contact with someone refer to fellow believers who are hypocritical or have perverted Christs' teachings (1 Cor. 5:11, for example). Likewise, I could point to a number of Christs' teachings that teach love for one's "enemies" - the Good Samaritan, for example (Jews and Samaritans were fiercely opposed to one another, especially around this time).

I hope your having a good day.

-PC.

PC, you express an opinion about a film that you obviously have not even seen -- Dawkins plainly says in it that religion is NOT the root of all evil.

I think you guys need to be honest with yourselves and admit you are only interested in "proving" with pat arguments (mostly circular) that "secular humanists" etc are wrong and yourselves right.

You guys have no concept of true dialogue, and think everyone who disagrees with the foundations of your belief does so out of a bad nature or mindset of some sort.

Everything I see you guys accuse atheists and humanists of is plain-as-day to an outsider what you guys are guilty of.

Just to say you don't believe in judging others because the bible says "don't judge", yet go on to judge your opponents in both main articles and in follow up posts is simply being in denial.

Neil,

I admitted in my post that I have not seen all of Dawkins' film, but I HAVE seen parts of it. The title "The Root of all Evil?" made me obviously suspect that Dawkins was trying to imply religion as being the root of all evil - I've already admitted that I was wrong there.

Neil you said "think everyone who disagrees with the foundations of your belief does so out of a bad nature or mindset of some sort"

I KNOW that most people genuinely simply choose not to accept religion based on their reasoning and aren't trying to be malicious. I'll say this for the third time, I've been called something along the lines of stupid, moronic, idiotic, etc. for simply expressing belief in my religion - nothing more. That is why I took that assumption, but even in my original post I clearly stated the "vast majority of nonbelievers are not like that." I also KNOW that believers can be far from moral, and don't hesitate to judge others, unfortunately.

This is the only thread I've participated in at CADRE so far and I'd like for you to point out where I have judged anybody. If any of my statements have come across as condescending/judgmental it certainly was not my intention, and I'm not trying to project a "holier-than-thou" attitude - I know full-well that I am extremely, extremely far from living how I'd like to in terms of not judging others and following Christs' other commands and that I'll never get there. I also don't doubt for a second that my train of thought can be hypocritical. I sin all the time, and I know that I can only judge myself. I brought up in my original post the names I've been called because it's been pretty disturbing to me (I wasn't trying to libel atheists) and the poster "m" had already mentioned it so I thought I'd add my 2 cents.

-PC.

PC, the whole starting premise of fundamentalism is the rightness of its cause and its mere use of the appearance of scholarly dialogue as a tool to "convict" others of their wrong way of thinking. That is a paternalistic and judgmental approach from the very outset. One does not approach true dialogue in that way. One must be able to embrace doubts and ambiguities and tentativeness and shifts in understanding. The bipolar black and white thinking of fundamentalism stands in contrast to the possibility of true dialogue. It insists on right and wrong, with itself always or at least ultimately right. The only place it can find historical roots for this thinking is, as many openly admit, pre-eighteenth century times.

The tactics give the game away. Whenever pushed on one point that the fundamentalist cannot sustain with logic or consistency, he/she simply sidesteps to another point and says one needs to see "the whole picture". But it is the whole picture we are attempting to put under a microscope bit by bit. If the bits crumble, there is no whole picture left standing. Other tactics are circular reasoning, resort to non-sequiturs in abundance, insult and attack, and even simply disdainfully walking away when pushed on any of these points of circularity of logic or the exposing of non-sequiturs.

Dialogue between a closed system of thought (we know we are right because we are of God, etc) and an open system of thought is simply an impossibility.

Neil,

I think your confusing me as a fundamentalist, I don't think of myself as one.

"One must be able to embrace doubts and ambiguities and tentativeness and shifts in understanding."

I believe strongly that I have done so. Just about every class at my university takes an agnostic stance on any matters pertaining to religion, several of my professors openly try to counter religious claims. My first year these points and tactics flying at me from what felt like all directions rattled my cage to say the least. I questioned my faith in just about every aspect. I bought books, I read scholarly works, I broswed and participated in forums all over the internet (such as this one).

My point isn't to give you my lifestory, its to illustrate that I have, and do, question my faith (granted, as of late I feel very secure in it). I have no problem for the course of discussion to take on or discuss topics that question my belief system, I don't know what else I could do to open up "true dialogue". Contrary to what you may think my goal in debate is not to convert you, it is merely to investigate your claims and have someone challenge my own.

In terms of the logical fallacy tactics you mention, if I use such tactics it is certainly not consciously, the same goes for the others.

"Dialogue between a closed system of thought (we know we are right because we are of God, etc) and an open system of thought is simply an impossibility."

Does a "closed system of thought" simply mean that someone is so sure in their belief that it is therefore impossible for them to have a discussion? Thats the impression I take, and it seems rather unfair. Just because I believe my way is correct does not mean that I'm blind to criticisms or think of myself as invincible. As much as you will deny this, I'm sure theres people in your camp who are so dead-set on their beliefs that they are in a "closed system of thought". Those tactics you mentioned, especially "insult and attack" have been used against me a number of times.

-PC

John W. Loftus said... "Excellent David!"

Apologies for being so late in responding. This have been a bear of a week. I'll spare you the sordid details.

Now:

I would say that an educated mind is a disciplined mind. Not all of us with mental discipline have degrees. Some are self educated until an avenue is available for formal ed. That being said, jumping to conclusion is often a matter of maturity and character. I would most likely be hesitant to assume it was directly related to a person being particularly erudite until I saw some statistical data backing that up. I say this mainly because, I have seen some really learned individuals behave in a very recalcitrant and obtuse manner.

John W. Loftus said...

“Yes, you are correct here about fairness, no doubt. People are people and they come in all shapes and sizes. However, you have a problem that skeptics don't have, since skeptics don't claim to have a revelation from God telling them how to deal with skeptics.”

The revelation I have is from I Peter 3:15 and I don’t see it as a problem.

John W. Loftus said...

John W. Loftus said... “In the OT people who led the faithful astray to serve other gods were to be killed. Aquinas argued for this on the basis that leading someone astray was the most grievious sin of all because deceived people end up in eternal punishment. Such an argument based in the Bible in an era where the church followed the OT law as a guide for a Christian nation led to the Inquisition.”

I don’t have a problem with what was said in the OT either. And, as far as what led to the inquisition, don’t you think that government, greed and power lust had just a little to do with that?

John W. Loftus said... “I'll take it that since you can only speak for C. David Ragland, jr, that you disagree with the particular interpretations that Walton, Manata and Holding argue for based upon the the relevant Biblical texts on how to treat unbelievers, skeptics, and apostates.”

As I have said, I am no more prone to help you attack my fellows as you are prone to help me attack Carrier, Til or any of their ilk. You should see my position expressed in my manner. You know a tree by . . . you get the pic.

John W. Loftus said... “Thank you. With you I can have a reasonable discussion of the ideas.”

UR welcome. Perhaps. My time is limited. Extremely limited, but I do occasionally see points worthy of reply. For example, you’ve not been entirely discouraging with regard to my chances of finding an amiable apostate with whom to converse.

John W. Loftus said... “Next question. To what do you attribute their incorrect interpretations of the relvant Biblical texts?”

Not everyone is guilty of such. Some engage in exegesis, other in eigesis.

John W. Loftus said... “Is it that when they look into those texts that it serves as a mirror for their own personality types? That they see what they want to see in the Bible based upon their own personalities?”

I think that Calvin may have done a little of this. In fact, I am convinced of it.

John W. Loftus said... “If not, could you please explain why God was not clear about how to argue on behald of the Christian faith? I mean, really, all Jesus, Elijah or Paul had to do was to make a disclaimer to the effect that "we can do this but you cannot.”

Can I explain why WHO was not clear? {big gotcha grin} I Pet. 3:15 is pretty clear. As far as imitating the others mentioned, I think we are expected to be spirit led regarding righteous rants. I would agree that there is a time when EVERYONE, atheist included, are understandably allowed a moment to wax bombastic and get someone’s attention. Some folks seem to never ever turn the volume down, however. This is the quickest way to lost my attention entirely.

John W. Loftus said... “There are of course, may other much more serious questions God could've cleared up, like heretic killings as I mentioned, but those questions can be set aside for now.”

You speak of God as if He actually exists. I like that. And you are right, the Biblical text does NOT address every question. I wonder how much it would weigh if it did. {s} Besides, were you yourself not one of those who answered challenging questions? How did you answer for the faith you once had, John?

David Ragland

David, regarding I Peter 3:15 Holding thinks
you are wrong.

Is he? Why? how do you account for the fact that you differ with him on this?

Hello John, :-)

John W. Loftus said...

David, regarding I Peter 3:15 Holding thinks you are wrong. http://www.tektonics.org/lp/madmad.html


Here is a quote from the article you have referenced, which can be found @ http://www.tektonics.org/lp/madmad.html
. "The aim of satire is not so much to convert the opponent, but rather, to silence him, and that was indeed the case before the Pharisees, and before the opponents of the Fathers. Its occurrence is consequent upon a love of the Faith, and a desire to rebuke those who arrogantly voice an opinion contrawise."

The two, who are writing the article, are referring to satire. You and I (so I thought) are talking about invectives (strongly abusive or critical language.)

I see the value in lighthearted jibes, but I do not think it wise to lambaste a person who disagrees with you. That's my position.

Laterness . . .
C. David Ragland

Anonymous said... "Neil, I, as a Christian, agree that we should never take the stance that anyone is evil - thats completely wrong."

Matthew 7 is a warning against hypocrisy, not a literal prohibition against identifying a spade as a spade. Was Adolf Hitler and his confederates evil? I think so. Want a contemporary example? What Larry Flint does to women is evil! He is an evildoer and therefore an evil person. Am I wrong to say so?

Let’s move on . . .

The average, contemporary usage (erm, misusage!) of Matthew 7:1 is one of the worst and most common examples of scripture twisting, I’ve come to know and loath. {s} Unfortunately, the vast majority of folks have the unscholarly tendency of making assertions based upon biblical text before looking at said text and the various contexts (literary, historical, cultural, syntactical, lexical, etc.) with a commitment to sound exegesis.

And, with proper regard to Matthew 7, they commonly fail to consider what the Bible says in many other areas about judging and assessing persons and things. Therefore, people read or hear this verse and wrongfully infer, “You cannot ever, ever, ever judge; no matter what!”

Why do people do this? I’m pretty sure that the same type of thinking that generates left-wing political correctness doctrine, is at work in many (not all) of the misunderstandings and misuses of Matthew 7:1. Another reason is the fact that so many folks stop reading this chapter ‘at’ Matt. 7:1. {L} While there may some positive things to be said for a naive heart, which yearns for perfect, peace engendering tolerance in this evil world, it’s unrealistic to expect those who preach/teach righteousness to ‘always’ avoid calling someone or some action evil.

Besides this, just because we are not to set ourselves up as magistrates of our brethren, it does not logically follow that we mustn’t reprove (admonish) others. In fact, this is an actual duty which can and does save souls from death. Not to mention, it is also a means of saving our souls from sharing in their guilt. How do you tell someone they are lost and need Jesus without making a judgement?

By the way, evil can be defined as: 1.) deeply immoral and malevolent. 2.) embodying or associated with the devil. 3.) extreme wickedness and depravity, especially when regarded as a supernatural force. 4.) something harmful or undesirable. I mention these definitions of the word parenthetically to suggest that one may want to ask a person what they mean by evil before getting in a snit over their usage of the word.

Now, let’s examine one of the many actions that a person can be guilty of, which would lead us to consider them an evil person. Is it correct to see false teaching as evil? What if the false teacher is doing this deliberately? Does is not follow that an evildoer is an evil person? Would Jesus call someone evil? In the eleventh verse of very chapter in question, He does so. Matt. 7:11 - If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Let’s take a look at Acts 20:28-30 and get back on false teaching as an example of evil deeds. 28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

Verse 28 is a call to “take heed” or, “pay attention” to the job of watching over one’s flock of believers. Verse 29, in giving good reason and support for this proclaimed necessity, names false teachers (outsiders with an agenda in this case), as “grievous wolves”. Since when are grievous wolves, as a symbol, consider to be anything but evil? Verse 30 goes on to declare that this type of evil will affect the minds of present members of the flock too. That is, those who are overcome with pride and a lust to be followed will deliberately cause a schism to draw others away from the body. This is evil, period. Those who do this are evil, period. {s}

I have a question for everyone, who takes exception to what they perceive as a judgmental attitude, to consider. Is it at all realistic to think that we can build a society where no one claims that another’s actions are wrong? Is this what Lord Jesus wants us to do? Besides, failure to size a person up can lead to folly. For example, if I see a guy with an ax and a murderous look in his eye, I'd much rather judge him to be an ax murderer and take appropriate action, than be his next politically correct victim. {lol}

One thing that I’ve noticed about those who clamor for total tolerance is this. They are quite in-tolerant when they judge someone else as being judgmental. My, aren’t we being just a little inconsistent? Such inconsistent philosophy leads people to behave as if they think all antipathy and judgmental conclusions are wrong except their own. {wry smile}

Let’s get a technical a second. The transliterated Greek work for judge is krino (Phonetic: kree'-no) Strong’s defines it this way: properly, to distinguish, i.e. decide (mentally or judicially); by implication, to try, condemn, punish: --avenge, conclude, condemn, damn, decree, determine, esteem, judge, go to (sue at the) law, ordain, call in question, sentence to, think.

We see here that the Greek word for judging is just as multifaceted as the English. So, we have to get to the bottom of how the word is being used in the text. And all we need do is keep reading! In verse 3, Jesus identifies the type of judging He is referring too. He is speaking against hypocrisy, not beneficial reproof. By the way, how can I reprove that which I’ve never determined (judged) as being wrong?

Here is an example of what I’m talking about. Paul ‘rightfully judged’ and subsequently withstood Peter because of his behavior. (see Gal. 2:11-14) He saw that Peter was doing something wrong and even hypocritical. Then he confronted him on the issue. Paul was right to do so. However, if he’d been eager to mete out a rebuke, but not eager to examine himself, he would be guilty of the hypocrisy Jesus is referring to in Matt. 7:3. So, if we are not equally diligent in calling ourselves to account, then we have a self-righteous, judgmental attitude.

Anonymous said...

“I'm curious where taking the Bible literally leads to "biblical licence for his or her judgmentalism against those who do not think the same..." Christ says, "Don't judge lest you be judged," as well as many other references to not judging people. I'd like to see where the New Testament states that I should judge people.”

Well, if we read even more of Matthew 7, we see Jesus telling us to judge the fruit of others so that we can know them for who they are (Matt. 7:16-20). If we fail to use “judgement”, how can we avoid false prophets? If we fail to call them on their falseness and openly declare what we see, how can we save others from become their victims?

Next, I’d like to point out that Jesus was talking about our judgment of the ‘brethren’. Who are our brethren? (See Matt 12:50) This is very commonly overlooked by unbelievers when trying to erroneously use this verse as a weapon/shield when someone points out the folly of unbelief.

To speak to this point, here is some work I’ve done recently on guarding against unbelief.

Make no mistake, an unbelieving heart is evil. In fact, Revelation 21:8 declares that unbelievers will have a part in the Lake of Fire. In that verse we read, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

It may seem harsh to call someone evil because, they have trouble believing Christian doctrines, but the Bible makes it clear that unbelief is always a deliberate choice. There is no excuse for not having faith in God because, He has shown us all we need to see in His creation (Rom. 1:17-22). The light of God’s truth is more than bright enough for those who will see. Nevertheless, there are also enough shadows for those who will not see to hide in. Yet, nothing will hide the unbeliever from God’s judgment.

We all have our doubts that are brought forth by misunderstandings and simple ignorance of the mysteries of God. Yes, we all have our questions. However, our faith in God is damaged when we allow honest questions to become challenges in our heart to God’s authority. Likewise, doubts can develop into evil thinking and cause us to deny that God even loves us or that He even exists! In the case of the backsliding Christian, doubt and unbelief has revisited their hearts after they have claimed to believe in Christ Jesus.

We mustn’t ever forget that we have a very real enemy (Satan) speaking lies to us constantly. Just as he did in the Garden of Eden, Satan, being most subtle (crafty), can and will present us with powerful suggestions to oppose our belief in God’s promises. Once this happens, once we’ve taken the bait, we end up turning from God to seek ‘some other way’ to satisfy our souls. Eve once believed that what God said was true, but the moment she felt that some good thing was being withheld, she doubted God’s care for her. See, once we allow God to be diminished in our hearts, forbidden fruit (sin) becomes irresistible to us.

We read in Hebrews 3:12 -14, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;”

Paraphrase of Heb. 3:12-14: Pay attention, Brothers! So that none of you will have an evil, unbelieving heart that will turn you away from the living God. Console and help each other every day, so that none of you will be deceived and hardened by sin. We are declared partners in Christianity, only if we keep the faith we had in the beginning to the end.

Supporting verses: ( Please read: Matt. 24:13, Mk. 13:13, I Cor. 1:8, Heb. 3:6, Heb. 6:11, Rev. 2:26)

These verses speak a warning to us to us all. Even Christians can have problems with unbelief. So, we must guard our hearts at all times because there is an evil, unbelieving heart behind all sin and turning from God.

The first step to out and out apostasy (rejection of God) is the development of an evil, unbelieving heart. We need to hear this caution clearly and take it seriously. Those who fail to pay attention to history are doomed to repeat it. That is, take a look at those who fell into unbelief in the Biblical record.

King Saul turned from God and sought a medium. He did this because, he no longer believed in and trusted God. He met with destruction because of this and we should pay close attention to our heart so that we don’t suffer the same fate.

Events like these are recorded in the Bible and presented to us as examples, and they were written down as a warning for us (1 Cor. 10:11). If we dare to think we are in no danger of falling we’d had better be careful. Remember the words of 1 Cor. 10:12 where we read, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”

There is strength in numbers

In Heb. 3:13, we are counseled wisely. We should not wait until tomorrow to console, counsel, and and encourage our Brothers and Sisters in Christ. Tomorrow is not ours yet. So, we should encourage each other daily. Today is the day to act because, this is our preventive medicine. For this reason alone, we cannot turn our backs on the practice of assembling ourselves together (Heb. 10:25). Just like bananas, when we are taken from the bunch, we get peeled! Just like hot coals, when we are taken from the pile, we quickly grow cold!

The deceitfulness of sin

Sin hardens our soul. When we let one sin enter into our lives, it makes room for yet another and another. Like a snow ball rolling down a mountain, sin gains weight and momentum in our lives. It catches us unaware when we don’t give it the proper corrective attention. Sin is a hideous thing, with a life of its own and the ability to multiply its number and force. One day, it’s a fleeting glance at a pornographic magazine, the next day, it’s a full blown sexual affair with a married person. One day, it’s a a tiny draw from a marijuana cigarette, the next day, it’s a cocaine habit that is out of control.

However, there is good news for those who will hear it. Sin is never our master unless we want it to be. We can always say, “no!” So, we only need to yield our will and our heart to God, resist Satan’s enticements, and he will run away. James 4:7 - Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

God will always comfort and strengthen those who, not only start out well, but maintain their integrity (moral soundness). Our confidence in Christ must last. Our faith in God must not diminish because our heads are turned by sinful lures. As Saints, we are given many privileges. God’s grace is upon our lives.

We are given great power, to do great things and are to be salt and light to the world. We should be steadfastly interested in all things that concern Christ and never look to the right or the left. What a shame it would be to lose all we have because we allow unbelief to creep into our hearts. What a shame is would for us to turn our backs on the most precious truths men have ever come to know.

So, we are given cautious counsel here to maintain holiness and resolve ourselves to be humble before God. It is a good thing to begin our Christian walk with powerful affections and set our feet to a walk of uncontaminated purity. However, our last steps must be made as the first, without looking back (Luke 9:62). Lifelong perseverance (persistence) in the things of God is our best evidence of a sincere profession of faith.


Laterness . . .
CDR

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