CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

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Atheists such as Dawkins often argue that a complex creation such as the universe (or the Multiverse) requires a complex creator. If the creator is complex, these clever people think, then the odds of "him" existing are much less and so God is improbable. It would hysterical to hear what Kierkegaard would say, probably something like, "sure God is improbable, there's no better proof he's real." Aside from the ridiculous idea of attaching a probability to the likelihood of the basis of all that is existing, the atheist's point is to counter the design argument. Of course to make the argument they must assume God is like a big man in the sky rather than the ground of being.

Tillich argues that this big man in the sky is behind much atheism. It is an anecdotal observation that now seems to be backed up by some emerging data. It is certainly the case that atheists are embroiled in a struggle against the superego-like God whom they think of as a “big man in the sky.” Nothing is clearer for that than Dawkin’s approach to the reverse design arguments. In answering God arguments Dawkins takes God as totally a being alongside other beings and in fact seems to think he is perfectly, 1x1, analogous to a biological organism.[1] Dawkins spells it out in no uncertain terms. “why there almost certainly is no God.” Why? Because, a big man in the sky would have to be more complex than the universe he creates. Of course this is based upon the assumption that whatever reality entails has to reflect accurately and be limited to the information we glean from our little dust mote, from which we have never journeyed far.[2]

Dawkins is working against what he takes to be the most popular pro God arguments (one of the weakest) the monkey’s-writing-Shakespeare-by-accident argument. He couches it in terms of assembling a 747 from a scrap yard by means of a hurricane. [3] The creationist, whose argument this revises, couches his argument in terms of finding some living creature who is too improbable to be assumabled by accident. Improbability means complexity. The more complex something is the less likely it is to be assembled by accident. The creationist equates improbability with design. Dawkins points out that it’s not the Darwinians who are trying to get “something for nothing,” so to speak, in assuming that complexity could come about undersigned, but the creationists are seeking the “free lunch,” simply because they don’t recognize that “however statistically improbable the entity you seek to explain by evoking a designer, the designer himself has got to be at least as improbable. God is the ultimate Boeing 747.”[4] Dawkins takes this assumption through the entire book. The view of God that he’s attacking is obviously that of a big man. It may be couched as “big mind” or even “universal mind” but it’s still an entity, a thing, something that has to consciously calculate or deliberate about what it’s doing. Never does he stop to consider that he might have the wrong idea of God. He spends long pages droning on and on about consciousness raising and implying that creationists are stupid and feminists are smarter,[5] never does it occur to him that he just might be dealing with the wrong concept of God.

On the other hand, we can’t understand God as impersonal force like the electro-magnetic or the strong force that would reduce God to being “a thing.” That would place God under the regime of being rather than understanding God as the foundation of being. There are a couple of good reasons not to do that. The depth of being is certainly one such reason. We know that being has depth then the basis of being can’t be just another thing like an impersonal force. The complexity argument is stupid, because it equates complexity with probability. The ground of being can’t be merely probable, either there’s a ground of being or there is not. If not then there can’t be any depth of being either. If there is depth there is a ground, and if there is a ground it can’t be just another thing. There has to be alternative to the stark contrast between “personal” in the sense of human consciousness and impersonal in the sense of dead matter. The stark choice between being en soir and por soir[6] is really limited. There has to be some other aspect of being that is either both or neither, or perhaps both and neither. To find the solution to the personal problem we probably have to venture away from the confines of Tillich’s theology, since he never considers the need to understand God as personal. Perhaps the major reason, however, to understand God as “personal” is because most mystics experience God in this way. The sense of the numinous is the most profound mystical experience next to the undifferentiated unity and is certainly as prevalent if not more so. This experience, the sense of the numinous is a deep all pervasive sense of love emanating form everything and love for everything, and most especially love for people. Love itself demands the personal.

Mystical experiences can be divided into two types, the introvertive and the extrovertive. Researchers are divided as to which of these two experiences is the most advanced. Introvertive is impersonal; all sense of differentiation in reality is lost. This state is supposed to be beyond word, thought or image. The extrovertive experience transfers the unity to nature. One distinguishes between different objects but an underlying sense of unity pervades all. In contrast to these two experiences, which are perhaps different stages of the same thing, there is also another kind of mystical experience called ‘the numinous.” This experience is derived from the work of Rudolph Otto and his sense of the holy.[7] The numinous is an experience of personal dimension in the divine. It is a sense of all pervasive presence, usually a presence of love. In this experience one usually sees God as personal and loving. Both of these experiences are properly mystical. “Although it is possible to separate the numinous and mystical as two poles of religious experience, they are ultimately united, mystical experiences of unity (variously expressed) can be numinous as well.”[8] One could proceed on the assumption that the personal is the illusion and fades away when the mystic gains more advancement. That doesn’t really seem to be what the research shows. It seems more like a matter of which aspect one emphasizes they are actually two poles of the same thing.

Thus we can separate the numinous and the mystical for conceptual purposes, depending upon whether the personal or impersonal aspects of foundational reality are emphasized. Mysticism tends toward the impersonal and numinous tends toward the personal. As we shall shortly note measurement studies can identify both numinous and mystical experiences, based upon whether one experiences a sense of presence (numinous experience) or a sense of unity (mystical experience)…that both components are properly mystical has been briefly noted above and extensively argued by Hood…their importance is that from a social psychological perspective they are part of what religions defend as the experience of the sacred.[9]

In other words we can’t write off the personal dimension as the illusory any more than we can the other pole of the unity. They are both intrinsic to the foundational nature of religious belief.

Mystical experience is seen by many as the actual basis of religion and the ground of the mature end of Christian experience. Religion is more than merely “jumped up” ethics, or primitive failed science. There is a core to all religious belief that is rooted in the sense of the numinous, the idea that something special, something “holy” is set apart from the mundane world. That in itself introduces an experiential dimension into the concept of the religious. That differs markedly from the "big sky guy," who is merely amplified humanity. The atheist makes the analogy to humanity based upon this well wore cliche of God probably becuase it's most people are introduced to. That's a necessary hazard of human thought, in seeking to illustrate God's love it's only natural to compare God tot he most loving things we know, mother and father. Then when we do that we also open our God images up to the most negative and frustrating relationships we know, for those of us not had blessed with a loving postoperative home. Moreover, all people have friction with parents and problems with super-ego, so that just equates God with problems. There's really no other way around it, we just have to keep in mind that the "father image" is a metaphor.


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Analogical language automatically carries a negative side. Since God's father-likeness is analogical it is also automatically connected to a "not-likeness." God is like a father in some ways, and therefore, not like like a father in other ways. Since God is not really a big man, or a biological organism, the terms "simple" and "complex" don't fit. How can the basis for all that is be compared to anything? What else would exist alongside God prior to creation of anything to which God might be compared? God's state of being is the basis of what being is, sense "being itself" how can one compare the nature of being in it's primordial essence to anything? Another argument is that complexity is based upon parts. These people think of God as made up of parts like the human body is made of parts. Since God is not made of parts the comparison to complexity falls apart. Some atheists try to deny that the argument turns on parts.

CARM 2/20/11, no 10 in thread

Originally Posted by HRG View Post
But the argument is algorithmic, not biological. "Complex" means able to plan and store a large amount of information. In any case, if you are not composed of parts, you cannot store information. Each bit needs a specific part where it goes, and different bits need different parts.
That would only be true if you limited to biological or physical nature. He's still trying to compare God to things in the world. God would have to be complex to plan, that's only true if you are a big man not if you are the ground of being. Is it true that God actually plans? No more so than it is that God actaully calculates. Why would "he" need to do either? I think part of the problem with athesits is that they just have no imagination. They just can't conceive of something that challenges their scientific learning.

HRG:

P.S. The author of the answer you quoted does not understand Dawkins' argument and present just the often rebutted fallacies of Scholastic theology.
doesn't matter. there's no comparison to the ground of being so there' no point in using the term. "complex" in relation to what?
I'll quote the source he refers to in a movement. This is truly a lame response. He doesn't understand: crank up the irony meter. The arrogant Austrian mathematician goes on his way really believing he's socked to my argument by reinforcing a inept comparison and not understanding the concept of ground of being.

My understanding of scinece is complex compared to my one year old great niece's understanding. My understanding is, according to HRG, simple compared to his understanding. What if I was the only human being ever to do scinece in a thousand years, would my understanding be complex or simple? you can't even say it without comparing it to something. One cannot say "it would be complex" without thinking "compared to the lack of any scientific thinking for a thousand years."


the source to which he refers is a blog that ceased publication in 2007, unfortunately because it was by someone I don't know but someone who understand the basic concepts of the Christian God, rooted in the history of the chruch; extremely rare.

Deeper Waters




Dawkins should know that in Christian thought, God in his nature is immaterial. What parts does he think he can speak of then? Do such questions even occur to him? One cannot know because Dawkins simply does not interact with his opponents. Evolutionists prefer to not argue when all their opponents simply get their arguments only from YEC materials. Fair enough. (To those who are YEC, I do recommend reading all materials so you can have an idea of what your opponents believe and why. I have met a number of YECs who unfortunately think being YEC means denying inerrancy and a literal Adam and Eve.) However, Dawkins seems to get all his information secondhand, as if he was reading it off of Wikipedia, which would make a lot of sense.

What do I mean however by God being simple then? I dare not simply say Dawkins has it wrong without entering my own information in. I mean that God is not made up of parts. There is no combination in him. For instance, I as a human being possess a human nature that is tied to this material that I dwell in. Both of these also have existence. They do not existence necessarily but have a derived existence.

An angel is different. Now to my atheist friends, even if you do not believe in angels, Aquinas does. His argument does not depend on their existence, but it shows his way of thinking and it does not refute his point to say “There are no angels.” An angel is an immaterial being, but it does not have necessary existence. It too has derived existence. Angels are not separated by matter seeing as they’re immaterial, so they differ by essence. Each angel is his own essence. Therefore, an angel has an essence with no matter. It is purely essence plus the existence it receives. In this, it’s essence is simple as it has no parts, but it is not absolutely simple in that it has essence plus existence.

However, God has his essence AS his existence. What it means to be is God. God is being without limitations. Of course, Aquinas works this out further, but it means there is no combination in God. It also means His existence is not caused as what can cause existence? Something outside of existence? Then this non-existing thing is acting to cause existence, which is absurd. Is it another existing thing? There cannot be two such beings for there is nothing they would differ by and if two things differ by nothing, they are the same.

Anyone who has studied Aquinas briefly would know that Dawkins fumbled entirely on this one, and the shame is that these are the first arguments Dawkins attempts to refute. Even if one is an atheist, one should accept that Aquinas was a brilliant mind and that he reasoned out his arguments well. That does not mean they’re right, but that does mean one should take them seriously and not write them off hastily.

If any atheist uses this kind of argument, you can rest assured you are talking to a neophyte in the area of theology who does not understand the concepts he argues against. It is the shoddy research of the new atheists in this manner that further to me realize the bankruptcy of their position. It is simply outrage against a belief system they have not taken the time to understand. Sadly, this comes from the people who are supposedly the beacons of reason.

I urge the reader to read the entire piece as it is worth reading. Here is a summary of my answers to the issue:



(1) the argument that the cause of a complex effect must be complex is still a violation of evolution. By "violation" I mean a contradiction.

(2) Ditto contradicts unified field.

(3) there is sense in using terms like "complex" or simple of God because there's nothing to compare God to other than his creation. This may mean Aquinas is wrong to call God "simple" but I think not because he's speaking in a certain sense. ie God is not made of parts.

(4) "Complex" in relation to biology means parts. God is not made of parts.


Sure God is antisocially complex but that is not the sense in which Dawkins et al assume







[1] Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, op cit (chapter 1 fn 5) on line page 138. all of these references are on line page numbers.

[2] Ibid, 138

[3] Ibid. he attributes the scrap yard image to Fred Hoyle.

[4] Ibid, 138

[5] 189-140

[6] en soir = “being in itself.” Por Soir = being for itself. These are terms used by Jean-Paul Sartre in his Being and Nothingness. The “being in itself” refers to inanimate objects and being for itself refers to conscious being. Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness, New York:Hazel E Barnes Philosophical Library, 1948m 1943

[7] Ralph Hood, Spilka et al, op cit 292

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid, 293


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young Paul Tillich (right) at Science
Conference with Einstine
(second from left
back row)

Atheists are always bad mouthing theology, but the vast Majority of them have never read a single page of real theology. They have no concept of what a real theology is about, they probably think it's like Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell. They know nothing about it but they are so sure it's stupid. The bad mouthing began with Dawkins trying to overcome his deficit in theology without having to learn any. People who criticize his swill with the attack "he knows nothing about theology" which means his books are worthless when they attack theology. So he came up with the extremely inane response that "theology is stupid so I don't have to know about it to know its' stupid." Obviously if he doesn't know about it then he can't know it's stupid. I've seen atheist say "well it's about God so that's how I know it's stupid," That proves someone is stupid. Can you say "circular reasoning?" The attitude toward bad mouthing theology is no where more prevalent than on CARM the atheist boards.

Originally Posted by Rainydays View Post

LinkThis is no debate club, and there is no need to enter an arm's race. Let the maker of the positive claim come up with a serious case. I'm not even talking about this forum. If there was a good case, it would already be all over academic literature. I agree that a firm ''no'' is not always wise. I stick to the academic principle. If there are no positive results, a hypothesis cannot be accepted. This doesn't say a whole lot. It just means we will continue ''as if nothing happened'' until something changes.


ahahah My friend. I don't want to insult you. I really don't. Please don't take this the wrong way but you really need more exposure to the academic. IT is all over the academic world! First of all I think he actually got that line from me. I'm always saying "if you had an argument to disprove my position you would make it rather than just call the position names." The statement he makes there is so absurdly silly becuase there are many many dynamite cases for the existence of God and the validity of the Bible made all over the internet all the time. I have 42 of them myself. That's right, I got 42 so I could say this: The answer to God the universe and everything is these God arguemnts.

Do you not realize that every major university on earth has a theology department? Harvard, Yale. Tubingen, Northwestern, Georgetown, Oxford, Cambridge, Paris, McGill University in Montreal, ect ect. Even state schools in America can't have theology they have religious studies and philosophy of religion or even Bible chairs.

the vast majority of great writers and thinkers have been believers in God. The list of believers in God in the academic world reads like a list of the greatest thinkers in history it's like ten times longer than the atheist.

Numerous professors at every school I was at told me that theology is respected theologians are respected. you are getting your opinions from atheist web sties. If you Google people like Paul Tillich it will say he's considered one of the most Brilliant men of the 20th century. It will never sy "stupid theologian who didn't know nothing." My Greek professor whose earned his Ph.D. from Yale told me "you would be surprised where one finds Christians around academia, they are in all fields and all levels of academia." Another professor in graduate work, who taught Heidegger and Hermeneutics, said that the philosophers at Tubingen follow with great interest what Jurgen Moltmann does. They are not snidely ignoring theology becuase they think it's stupid.

Many major scientists have been Christians, some even theologians as well (Polikinghorne quite science to become a priest).

Fritz Shafer, nominated for Nobel Prize in Chemistry, University of Georgia, himself a Christian: "it is very rare that a physical scientists is truly an atheist."
Martin Rees at Cambridge: "The possibility of life as we know it depends upon a few basic values which are constants. And it is in some aspect remarkably sensitive to their heir numerical values. Nature does exhibit remarkable coincidences."
Arthur Schewhow, Nobel prize winner from Stanford, identifies himself as a Christian. "We are fortunate to have the Bible which tells us so much about God in widely accessible terms."
Charlie Towns Nobel prize winner: "The question of science seems to be unanswered if we explore from science alone. Thus I believe there is a need for some metaphysical or religious explanation. I believe in the concept of God an in his existence."
John Pokingham, theoretical physicist at Cambridge, left physics to become a minister. "I believe that God exists and has made himself known in Jesus Christ."
Allan Sandage, The world's greatest observational cosmologist , Caregie observatories won a prize given by Swedish parliament equivalent to Nobel prize (there is no Nobel prize for cosmology) became a Christian after being a scientist, "The nature of God is not found in any part of science, for that we must turn to the scriptures."

That list originally came from an article by Firtz Schaffer years ago on Leadership University. Martian Rees is not a Christian but he recently won the Templeton award for creating understanding between religoius thinkers and scinece. He is well known for respecting religion.
www.shamash.org/
Drawing from Judaism's sacred texts as well as great thinkers such as Mordecai Kaplan, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Paul Tillich, Gillman traces his ...

www.irishexaminer.com/.../seanad-should-respect-irelands-diversity-...
Mar 2, 2012 – Seanad should respect Ireland's diversity ... who hold an attentiveness to the "beyond in our midst" as the great thinker Paul Tillich put it, as well .

www.suite101.com › Mind & Soul
Great Thinkers, Page: 3. ... Paul Tillich, Alfred North Whitehead, and Hans Jonas point to a God whose being is linked with our own. Jul 28, 2011 – John .

www.rickross.com/reference/general/general679.html
Sep 5, 2004 – ... attracting some of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century: Historian Arnold Toynbee, theologian Paul Tillich and two-time Nobel ... that would eventually influence the nation: a respect for mind-body connections, holistic ...
www.answers.com › LibraryLiterature & Language
He (Tillich) became respected for his lucid preaching and his Systematic Theology, 3 vol. ... Together with thinkers such as Karl Barth and Rudolf Bultmann, Paul Tillich ... The best known of these, translated into English as The Religious Situation ...
Whitehead invented Process theology, Toynbee was a Christian, Tillich, Barth, Bultmann all liberal theologians in the Christian tradition. Sorry but it is the case that the major figures theology are respected as great thinkers.


what you are refusing to take seriously is the idea that most academics now that ultimate answers are not easy to come by.Most scientist don't buy into the fortress of facts. Carl Popper says scinece is not about proving things. Science can't prove things but atheists are always implying that their world view is backed by a huge pile of facts while religious belief is backed by no facts. this is what from true. I've researched a vast body of empirical research that shows that religious experience is the product of any kind of pathology and has dramatic transformation effects upon the experience.

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Once upon a time I wrote an article called "cracking the Jesus Myther's Phony Scholarship code." It was about things like the Jesus project which appears to be a true scholarly endeavor but is just a front for Jesus myth propaganda. Another good example of that is Religious tolerance.com. It poses as a sight about religious tolerance but is really about how evil Christianity is.

This will be like a fourth "Quest for the Historical Jesus" (or fifth or sixth, depending on how you count), with two major differences that shall define the Project:
  1. It will exclude all theological and dogmatic bias--conservative or liberal (none attending were sympathetic to either the Jesus Seminar or conservative apologetics). It will instead attempt to develop objective methods (which won't inherently favor any pet theory) and establish the facts independently of theory before moving forward. All the scholars present agreed every past Quest had (and has) consistently failed to do either.

  2. It won't rule out anything just because someone attending thinks it's fringe. They will hear all the Dohertys, Tabors, Eisenmans, MacDonalds, Q-deniers, the lot. Hoffmann is intent on maintaining a wide and critical diversity of scholars in the Project. As his press release says, "Participants represent a wide variety of perspectives, ranging from Tabor's argument that there is substantial evidence that the tomb of the family of Jesus has been located, to the view that the evidence for the existence of Jesus as an historical figure is not persuasive." What we will require is an objective methodology from anyone who intends to argue anything to the group. It won't be a soapbox society. You will either explain how your conclusions can be proved to everyone's satisfaction, or you'll be shown the door.

In other words, Jesus myth propaganda. They "project" is ran form the stand point of convincing the world that Jesus didn't exist and selling that book. I'm sure the faitful wont see it that way. they are good honest secular minded God haters trying to spread the truth.

They mention Tabor who was attacked assiduously by the Jesus myth crowd. Even though he had a thesis that claimed to prove that Jesus was not divine and that Jesus' mission was just to put his family in power, he at least did seem to prove that Jesus existed as a man in history so they had to oppose it. This was so obviously a special collequy called for the pupose of putting Jesus mythism on a par with the Jesus seminar. That would give it a pretense of scholarship it has failed to obtain even today. Jesus mythers are more at war with scholarship.

When I wrote that old article there were an atheist who mocked and ridiculed me saying "He’s obsessed with linking the Jesus Project to Skeptical Inquirer magazine, a magazine..." We find that there is an organization called "the center for Inquiry." They run a blog called "The Jesus Project." Under "advocacy" they list:

The Center for Inquiry advocates for science, reason, freedom of inquiry and humanist values through the following specialized policy and political programs:

The Office of Public Policy

The Office of Public Policy (OPP) works on three levels:

  • At the grassroots level, the OPP works with CFI Centers and Communities on policy within the state and at the state level on federal issues. The OPP trains Friends of the Center to influence state and local level legislation, take part in political campaigns, and run for office.
  • At the federal level, the OPP lobbies the U.S. Congress and the Administration in three areas: science and reason; secularism, and humanist ethics. The OPP also cooperates with powerful coalitions to influence legislators through individual and group communications.
  • At the international level, the OPP supports the work of CFI at the United Nations by lobbying Congress and the State Department on UN-related issues.

CFI at the United Nations

The Center for Inquiry is a non-governmental organization (NGO) with special consultative status under the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It maintains official representation at UN headquarters in New York and UN offices in Geneva and Vienna, where it works to defend the secular, scientific outlook in the international community.

Legal Department

The Legal Department files amicus briefs in cases involving First Amendment rights, reproductive freedom, assistance in dying and other issues of importance CFI and its supporters. Where appropriate, the Center or one of its affiliates, such as the Council for Secular Humanism, may file its own lawsuit. In addition, the Legal Department will also consider offering free legal assistance to individuals who believe that their constitutional rights are in jeopardy or that they have experienced discrimination because they are not religious.

Legal departments hire lawyers that takes money. It takes money to do all of this and money is indicative of organization. While they try to laugh off the connections to Organized propaganda it's quite obvious have have a have a huge moneyed propaganda machine. Follow the records on any one of their publicans and you can see they have all kinds of things, a huge structure. Look what it says about the "federal level" They have lobbyist! you think that doesn't take money?


under outreach they say:

The Center for Inquiry isn't just a think tank—we're a world-wide movement of humanists, skeptics, freethinkers, and atheists, all working together at the grassroots level to advance scientific and secular values where we live.

From social events to educational lectures, community volunteering to national advocacy, CFI members are living proof that there are good, ethical alternatives to religious and paranormal worldviews.


How many atheists have told me it's not a movement? Atheist always say 'it's not a movement." But here they say it's a world wide movement. Well that doesn't prove they are athiest, these are "Free thinkers." Look what they say then:

Whether we identify as atheists, freethinkers, humanists, secularists, or skeptics, we all share basic values rooted in inquiry, naturalism, and the scientific method—values that urgently need to be demonstrated and advanced in the broader culture.

There must be a system that can unite all of our voices when success requires our voice to be strong. That system is the new CFI Network.

Not only is it a movement but they are seeking to organize it and control for their agenda. They include atheists in their identification.

their announced goals include:

Fostering a secular society requires attention to many specific goals, but three goals in particular represent the focus of our activities:

  1. an end to the influence that religion and pseudoscience have on public policy
  2. an end to the privileged position that religion and pseudoscience continue to enjoy in many societies
  3. an end to the stigma attached to being a nonbeliever, whether the nonbeliever describes her/himself as an atheist, agnostic, humanist, freethinker or skeptic.



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excavation in 1999

December of 2010 I did a piece updating a controversy from the early days (late 90s) of my apologetical life: the Nazareth as Inhabited at the Time of Jesus. This was on Atheist Watch, and the comment below was sent to Atheist Watch. That piece I did on atheist watch was in 2 parts. part 2 is here. Of cousre the mythers say no. The Pfan excavation, which they had been sighting as documentation for their view (it was going around big time, every message board had posts on the mythers using Pfan excavation. I'm the one who actually got hold of the guy to find his findings and who read his article to see if they were misquoting him. Now a new gang is saying his findings were no good (now that they know he doesn't back them).



I recieved a comment (on Atheist Watch) to that old post from 2010:

Anne Carly Abad says:

I read this article about Nazareth: http://www.nazarethmyth.info/naz3article.html

And the author debunks the dating of some of Pfann's findings, claiming "It consists of eleven small pieces of pottery—shards to which the NVF scholars assign an early date but which the standard textbook dates as late as the second century CE. In other words, the NVF scholars were choosing arbitrarily early dates for a few objects, and resting their Jesus-case on what amounts to mere preference. Significantly, in my book I show that the rest of the material from the Nazareth basin dates after the time of Jesus. So, an early dating for the NVF objects in question is not consistent with the evidentiary profile for the area."

What is your take on this?
When we go to that source we see this:

an article entitaled "Nazareth, Faith, and the dark option an update:"

By René Salm

American Atheist has always championed the no-nonsense view of religion, and readers may note with a certain pride that this magazine has now emerged as a leading—if not the leading—advocate for the wholesale revision of Christian beginnings. Atheists have never shirked the challenge to take on the goliath of establishment Christianity, and today that challenge must include the controversial archaeology of Nazareth, which Frank Zindler has called “the Achilles’ heel of a popular god.” Readers will recall two articles in previous American Atheist issues on this topic [1], articles which preview and alert readers to my recent book, The Myth of Nazareth: The Invented Town of Jesus (American Atheist Press, March 2008). The opposition has now responded with the literary equivalent of a scream, and I’d like readers to know that the popular Christian god is in a heap of trouble and may be teetering.

How is that for strident? There's no question these guys are in a war, they fighting an evil enemy, they are the good guys (or course) they have the truth. It's pretty clear from their article that their real arguments revolves around commercial interest who seek to make money off of the "Jesus home town" thing. That has nothing to do with Pfan's excavation. If you look at the history of this site these same guys have been spewing the same propaganda for years. they have produced a mounds of lies about it. Most of the Google picks are from these sites, the same people the same lies. They are all basically filling in the data for the two major atheist authors, Rene Salm, The Myth of Nazareth And Frank Zindler. Zindler is is currently the editor of American Atheist Magazine and Director of American Atheist Press. A member of scientific organizations such as New York Academy of Science. No indication he has any degree in Archeology. I am not able to find any credentials for Salm. The best article I've found defending the idea of habitation in the time of Christ, and arguing specifically against the original work of Zindler and Salm is an article on an apologetic site by a Kyle Butt. I'll come back to him latter in this article. The guy that wrote the article and runs the magazine is the guy who wrote the book. So the source that uses the book for documentation is the author of the book. He's obviously going to have a pretty biased take on things.

They always ignore the previous findings, they never reveal that they first used Pfan as their own before they understood him. They pretend the pot shards are the only pro Naz evidence and totally ignore the terraces, the houses, the first two excavations that are just written off because they were done by Franciscans. In the day (1930s--50s) Franciscan archaeologists were authoritative scholars. This was before the new atheist refused to believe anything a religious person says. These are the same guys and the same Orwellian movement that run around going "we don't to know what theolgoians we know they are stupid."


This is hardly scholar stuff. So who is the alleged scholar making the statements about Pfan's findings? You don't just look in a text book to determine the dating of pot shards. I no longer have the original stuff I used to use on Nazareth, nor the article on Pfan's work but as I recall there's a lot more to it than just some pottery. There were prior excavations to his that arleady determined Nazareth was inhabited. Some of my research can still be seen on my old site Doxa. From that article:

First of all it's important to realize that Nazareth was only four miles from a major metropolis. It's hard to believe it wasn't inhabited until so late being that close to a major city.

There two mentions in Antiquity:

"Despite the Hellenization of the general region and the probability that Greek was known to many people it seems likely that Nazareth remained a conservative Jewish village. After the Jewish war with the Romans from AD 66-70 it was necessary to re-settle Jewish priests and their families. Such groups would only settle in unmixed towns, that is towns without Gentile inhabitants. According to an inscription discovered in 1962 in Caesarea Maritima the priests of the order of Elkalir made their home in Nazareth. This, by the way, is the sole known reference to Nazareth in antiquity, apart from written Christian sources... (next paragraph) Some scholars had even believed that Nazareth was a fictitious invention of the early Christians; the inscription from Caesarea Maritima proves otherwise." Paul Barnett[BSNT], Behind the Scenes of the New Testament, IVP:1990, p.42:

Also from my original article:

occupied since 7th century BC

"Despite Nazareth's obscurity (which had led some critics to suggest that it was a relatively recent foundation), archeology indicates that the village has been occupied since the 7th century B.C., although it may have experienced a 'refounding' in the 2d century b.c. " ([MJ]A Marginal Jew--Rethinking the Historical Jesus, (vol 1), p.300-301)...cites Meyers and Strange, Archeology, the Rabbis, and Early Christianity, Abingdon:1981. pp.56-57

Galyaah Cornfeld, Archaeology of The Bible Book by Book .(NY: Harper and Row 1976) p. 284 "What concretely about first century Nazereth? In the first two centuries AD it was a modest village built on Rocky soil in a valley far from the main trade routes [this was before Sarapis was discovered]...Two excavations, one led by Fther P. Viaud the other by Bagatti led to the discovery of the traditional site of the annunciation to Mary and the place which Jesus frequented as a growing lad...excavations of inscriptions there bear witness to a Jewish Christian cult of Mary from the very earliest times..." Some of those inscriptions also go back to the middle of the first century and identfy the place as the that of Jesus' boyhood home!

Excavations of Naz
Nazaraeth The Village of Jessu, Mary and Joseph

Franciscan cyerspot

http://christusrex.org/www1/ofm/san/TSnzarc2.html

The church of the Annunciation stands over the extreme southern end of the ancient village. Having examined the site occupied by the church of 1730, the outline of the Crusader church became clearer. In the northern nave the Crusaders had left the rocky elevation of the grotto and between two pilasters had made a stairway to the shrine. The excavations of 1955 unveiled the plan of the Byzantine church. Orientated as that of the Crusaders, it had 3 naves, with a convent to the S and an atrium to the W. It was 40 m. in length. Delving under the Byzantine construction the franciscan archaeologists found plastered stones with signs and inscriptions, which certainly formed part of a preexisting building on the site.


Excavations of the church led the pre Pfan archaeologist to conclude the place was already inhabited since pre Christian times. There's a lot about Pfan's work on that site too. I suggest the reader read the original article.


The mythers have been so angered they have over the years published a huge amount of Bull about this topic. most of what you find on Goggling it is their propaganda. For example the site "Nazareth the town that theology built' is nothing but pure hog wash. The arguments on that site are so contradictory that he starts out making arguments from sensible 'the gospels don't tell us much about Nazareth" as though that disproves it's existence. then he also says the Gospels don't mention the major city it's near, Sepphoris, as though that somehow disproves its existence! Not mentioning Nazareth disproves Nazareth and not mentioning a place we know for a fact did exist also disproves Nazareth?

A source so unlikely it can't possibly be confused with Christian apologetic, the left leaning Guardian publishes an article about the discovery of Roman Baths at Nazareth, implying it was a Garrison town.

The American excavators are convinced that what Shama has exposed is an almost perfectly preserved Roman bathhouse from 2,000 years ago - the time of Christ, and in the town where he was raised. In a piece of marketing that is soon likely to be echoing around the world, Shama says he has stumbled across the "bathhouse of Jesus". The effects on Holy Land tourism are likely be profound, with Nazareth becoming a challenger to Jerusalem and Bethlehem as the world's most popular site of Christian pilgrimage.

Professor Richard Freund, an academic behind important Holy Land digs at the ancient city of Bethsaida, near Tiberias, and Qumran in the Jordan Valley, says the significance of the find cannot be overstated. Over the summer he put aside other excavation projects to concentrate on the Nazareth site. "I am sure that what we have here is a bathhouse from the time of Jesus," he says, "and the consequences of that for archaeology, and for our knowledge of the life of Jesus, are enormous."



Kyle Butt M.A.
(Yes I see it, it's no joke)

The town of Nazareth is “located in the southern end of the hills of Lower Galilee at about 1200 feet above sea level” (McRay, 1991, p. 157). Nazareth is about four miles southwest of Sepphoris. During the time of Christ, Sepphoris was the capital of Galilee, a major center of political and economical activity, and home of Herod Antipas (DeVries, 1997, p. 318). Primary research was done on the city in the mid-1950s by Bellarmino Bagatti. He discovered that the village during the time of Jesus was “an agricultural settlement with numerous winepresses, olive presses, caves for storing grain, and cisterns for water and wine” (1969, p. 25). McRay noted that pottery found in Nazareth dates “from Iron Age II (900-600 B.C.) to the Byzantine period (330-640), including Roman pieces from the time of Christ” (p. 158). Bagatti stated:

The entire village of Nazareth has very many subterranean cavities, some used as
The Church of the Annuciation in Nazareth
stores, some used as tombs. The earliest documentation is indicated both by their form and the ceramics found therein. The latter put us in the presence of tombs already existing in the Middle Bronze Period, and silos already in use in the Iron Period (1969, p. 25).














So it was inhabited before Christ, the people went away, then came back after the time of Christ? For the atheist propaganda to be true that would have to be the case. In fact this is the theory proposed by the atheist propagandist Rene Salm, the Myth of Nazareth. He bases that on his asserton that no artifacts are found between 700bc t0 50 AD. His argument is argument from silence and it's disproved not only by Pfan but all three excavations found evidence of first century habitation. In 2009 achaeolgoical evidence of a house was found at the site.

In December of 2009, Nazareth made worldwide headlines. Archaeologist Yardena Alexandre and her colleagues uncovered a small structure that they dated to the time of Christ (Hadid, 2009). The Israel Antiquities Authority official press release hailed this discovery as the first of its kind in which a residential structure was uncovered. The announcement noted the importance of the discovery, and quoted Yardena:
The discovery is of utmost importance since it reveals for the very first time a house from the Jewish village of Nazareth and thereby sheds light on the way of life at the time of Jesus. The building that we found is small and modest and it is most likely typical of the dwellings in Nazareth in that period. From the few written sources that there are, we know that in the first century CE Nazareth was a small Jewish village, located inside a valley. Until now a number of tombs from the time of Jesus were found in Nazareth; however, no settlement remains have been discovered that are attributed to this period (as quoted in “Residential Building...,” 2009). (ibid)
Salm's book was in 2006 so he didn't know about the data. Now the problem is this data was done by pottery too but there's no reason to think Yerdena's Pottery dates are wrong.

The dating method used by Yardena and her team, of matching pottery from the site to other pottery in an attempt to properly identify the time frame of the dig, is one of the most frequently used dating methods in archaeology. McRay mentioned this dating method as one of the most effective:
The potters of antiquity were careful imitators but reluctant innovators.... At any rate style did seem to change from period to period, slowly but decisively, and we are now able to observe those changes in style and from them establish a chronology. The methodology is not exact, but within reasonable limitations it does provide a workable typology upon which to construct a fairly reliable chronology (1991, p. 32). (ibid)


This means a whole different set of pottery and a different team of archaeologists analyzing them. These are not Christians so it's not likely there's a bias to interpret them wrong, if we should accept that notion about Pfan's excavation. If his group messed up its not likely these other guys did so as well.

Another major dating method is lamps. Salm plays fast and loose with the lamp evidence. He adopts the date range that does his theory the most good and ignores that fact that a lot of evidence exists to date the lamps at the earlier range which would put habitation in Nazareth as late as 37 bc that would destroy his theory that they went away and came back. As Butt points out, even we accept the latter range as does Salm that still implies habitation in the time of Christ.

The incipience of a village is not equivalent to the arrival of the first settlers at the site. No village springs up overnight. It requires a certain amount of time—perhaps a generation or two—to come into existence.... The presence of tombs [in Nazareth] indicates both permanence and population, and it is strongly suggestive of a “village.” Thus, the earliest tomb at Nazareth is a significant clue regarding the existence of a village. Determining its date will be an important goal of these pages. The period of tomb use can be revealed by dating funerary artefacts found in situ (pp. 156-157, italics in orig.).
There are lamps found in the tombs. These are the bow spouted lamps that indexed in dating from their use in Jerusalem.

Thus, according to Salm’s reasoning, tombs show the presence of a village, and settlers in the area could/would have been in the area possibly two generations before that village came into existence. Using Salm’s personally concocted date of A.D. 25 for the earliest date of the lamps, that means that the earliest tomb could possibly date to A.D. 25. And, if settlers were in the area two generations before that (using 40 years as a generation), that would put people in the area in about 55 B.C. Taking that into account, there is absolutely no way that Salm can prove that Nazareth was not inhabited during the time of Christ. The most he can do is suggest that, if his arbitrarily chosen dates are adopted, it seems improbable. Yet even this “improbability” does not accord well with the ranges of dates that are often adopted for such artifacts as the “Herodian” lamps. (Butt article)
Archaeologist Craig Evans, author of Jesus and His world: the Archaeological Evidence argues against the myther assertions.

Craig A. Evans is Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Acadia Divinity College, Acadia University, in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada. The author or editor of more than fifty books and hundreds of articles, Evans is a regular guest on many national media outlets, including Dateline NBC, The History Channel, The Discovery Channel, and BBC. He is an internationally distinguished authority and lecturer on the historical Jesus. For more information, visit craigaevans.com.
Evens is the only real scholar of academic ranking unlike Salm whose credentials aren't listed, and Zindler who is not an archaeologist. His book is highly authoritative but written to be accessible tot he layman. The publisher's blurb:

In this provocative work, world-renowned scholar Craig A. Evans presents the most important archaeological discoveries that shed light on the world of Jesus of Nazareth. Evans takes on many sensational claims that have been proposed in recent books and peddled in the media, and uses actual archaeological findings to uncover the truth about several key pieces of Jesus' world. For example, what was the village of Nazareth actually like in the time of Jesus? Did synagogues really exist, as the Gospels say? What does archaeology tell us about the ruling priests who condemned Jesus to death? Has the tomb of Jesus really been found, as has been claimed? Evans's engaging prose enables readers to understand and critique the latest theories--both the sober and the sensational--about who Jesus was and what he lived and died for.

Evans writes a Huff post article in which he defends the standard thesis of Jesus really existing and growing up in Nazareth.

Evans article in Huff Post
Posted: 03/26/2012 7:30 am
The archaeological evidence shows that Jesus grew up in a small village, Nazareth, about four miles from Sepphoris, a prominent city in the early first century C.E. This city had a Greco-Roman look, complete with paved, columned street, but its inhabitants were observant Jews. The evidence further shows that Nazareth was linked to a network of roads that accommodated travel and commerce. The quaint notion that Jesus grew up in rustic isolation has been laid to rest. The youthful Jesus may well have visited Sepphoris, whose theatre may have been the inspiration for his later mockery of religious hypocrites as play-actors.

The evidence for the existence of synagogue buildings in the time of Jesus is now quite strong. Archaeologists have identified at least seven such buildings that date before the year 70. It is in the context of the synagogue that Jesus would have matured in the religious tradition of Israel and heard Scripture read and interpreted. Although some historians think rates of literacy in the first-century Roman Empire were quite low, archaeological finds, such as the tablets found in Vindolanda, England, near Hadrian's Wall, or the thousands of graffiti etched on the scorched walls of Pompeii and Herculaneum, suggest that at least a crude literacy was widespread and reached all levels of society. This evidence, along with the Gospels' portrait of a Jesus who debates scribes and ruling priests, asking them if they had ever read this or that passage of Scripture, suggests that Jesus, founder of a movement that produced and collected literature, was himself literate.
The presence of churches before AD 70 is very significant because that's prior to the fall of the temple and its' prior to the circulation of the Gospels on a wide scale. They didn't grow up over night. A bunch of believer's would not say 'let's go out in the desert and pick a spot, say it was Nazareth and build a bunch of churches. There had to be a group of people living there already and the spot had to already be identified with Jesus. It would take time for a community to spring up.

For that matter why would Gospel writing creating a fictional character make up that he was from a fictional place no one had ever heard of when his birth and life were suppossed to be related to given prophesies that tied him to places like Bethlehem? Why make up that he also was born in Bethlehem and then went to fictional Nazareth when they could say he grew up in Bethlehem? It couldn't be fear that his family would be traced and not found there, becuase according to the Jesus mythers the Gospels were all like second century. There would be ample room to argue his family had been forgotten. Or better yet just make up they were known! How could it be checked? Would ancinet world Jim Rockford's or Fran Cannon's go out to the desert to prove Jesus didn't exist? So why stick him with a fictional origin then try to tie his birth to a real place?

The mythers are stuck with trying to tie Jesus to a fictional puzzle that doesn't have all the pieces.

Here's where you can find my old original piece on Doxa. Link
there's a lot there about Pfan's excavation, and some about the earlier one's.

another one I did on this blog, probably a lot of overlap.



For the first time in a long time, I had the opportunity to update the CADRE links on Biblical Archaeology on the Christian History page. Here is the list of websites now listed on that site:

Archaeology Sites

  • Amazing Discoveries in Bible Archaeology
    A link page to various sites on Biblical Archaeology.
  • Archaeology and the Bible
    The Associates for Biblical Research monitors new archeological discoveries of the ancient Biblical world, and in fact produces many of these new discoveries through its own staff of professional archaeologists. Source of the Radio Program "Stones Cry Out".
  • Associates for Biblical Research
    To provide information to the Christian community and the general public by the most effective means available on the subject of Biblical archaeology and the creation/evolution issues. This information is to be obtained from original research and fieldwork, and the research and fieldwork done by others outside the organization.
  • B.A.S.E Institute
    The Bible Archaeology, Search & Exploration (B.A.S.E.) Institute is dedicated to the quest for archaeological evidence to help validate to the world that the Bible is true, and that it represents an accurate, non-fictional account of God’s will to bring the people of this world back into relationship with Him. This website contains fascinating information on Noah's Ark, Mount Sinai, the Ark of the Covenant, and Paul's Shipwreck.
  • BIBARCH™ — The Premier Biblical Archaeology Website
    This website remains unique in biblical archaeology since its focus is upon the whole field of biblical archaeology in its quest to learn more about the culture of biblical peoples. Includes articles on Golgotha, Artaxerxes, the last seder and the Mosaic Covenant.
  • The Biblical and American Archaeologist
    The BAA exists to help people learn about archaeology as it relates to the Old and New Testament for the purpose of gaining a deeper understanding of the Scriptures. It serves to demonstrate the incredible accuracy of the Bible as an ancient document, and to create a base of fellowship for people with these interests.
  • Bible and Interpretation
    Bible and Interpretation is designed to appeal to a significant public and scholarly audience who are interested in the most current news and interpretations on the Bible. It endeavors to bring the latest news and information in the field of biblical studies to a wide readership and to contact scholars for comment and analysis. As the site matures and grows, it will elicit articles from individuals representing the best scholarship available for the general public and students.
  • Bible Archaeology - from Christian Broadcast Network
    A page of links to articles, videos and 3-D tours related to Biblical Archaeology from CBN.
  • Bible Archaeology - What Do We Know?
    This Bible Study Resource reconstructs the world of the Old and New Testaments --- from Abraham to Ziggurats.
  • Biblical Archaeology
    WF Albright School of Biblical Archaeology — Totally Free Biblical Archaeology News/Courses.
  • The Biblical Archaeology Foundation
    The FBA is a private, non-profit organization established to Promote Biblical Archaeology as a Discipline by Raising Funds for Excavation, Publication, Research and Education. Articles include information on an ancient amulet with the Tetragrammaton from Sepphoris, Hezekiah's Reforms and Crucifixion.
  • Biblical Archaeology News from Bible History Online
    Recent archaeological discoveries as well as comparative historical research and philological studies, along with an analysis and interpretation of the Old Testament text have made possible a fuller and more reliable picture of Biblical history than in previous eras. With the advent of the computer and Internet age, the Lord has allowed the study of the Bible to be greatly enhanced, bringing the images of the past as well as the work of devoted teachers and scholars right into our homes. Bible History Online hopes to assist and encourage all those who humbly pursue and correctly handle the word of truth. (2 Tim 2:15).
  • Biblical Archaeological Review
    BAR connects academic study of the Bible to a broad general audience. Covering both the Old and New Testaments, BAR presents the latests discoveries and controversies in Biblical Archaeology.
  • Biblical Archaeology Society
    Publishers of the Biblical Archaeology Review, Bible Review and Archeology Odyssey. BAS educates the public about archaeology and the Bible through magazines, books, visual materials and seminars. BAS serves as an important authority and as an invaluable source of reliable information.
  • Bible History Online
    The focus at Bible History Online is history and the Bible. The Bible is about God's activities in history. It deals with actual people in an actual geographical area during actual specified historical times who had contact with other actual peoples and empires whom we know of from sources outside the Bible. Knowledge of the historical background of the Bible is essential to any serious student of the Scriptures. This site am trying to focus more on factual historical information within the sites that I list, and gear it toward people who are more equipped to discern truth from error. Be sure to visit Biblical Archaeology News from Bible History Online where recent archaeological discoveries as well as comparative historical research and philological studies, along with an analysis and interpretation of the Old Testament text have made possible a fuller and more reliable picture of Biblical history than in previous eras. With the advent of the computer and Internet age, the Lord has allowed the study of the Bible to be greatly enhanced, bringing the images of the past as well as the work of devoted teachers and scholars right into our homes. Bible History Online hopes to assist and encourage all those who humbly pursue and correctly handle the word of truth. (2 Tim 2:15).
  • BiblicalStudies.org's Archaeology Page
    An outstanding British site maintained by Robert I Bradshaw providing several articles on Biblical archaeology.
  • CenturyOne Foundation
    COF's goals are to fund in whole and/or in part archaeological projects, historical and biblical research, lectures and symposiums, publications and education on subjects pertaining to the time of the first century C.E./A.D. Good bookstore.
  • God and Science's Page on Archaeology and the Bible
    A series of articles on recent discoveries in Biblical Archaeology maintained by CADRE member Richard Deem.
  • Institute for Biblical and Scientific Studies
    The Institute for Biblical and Scientific Studies is a non-profit tax-exempt organization interested in the areas of Bible and science. The goals of the Institute are to educate people about Bible and science and to do research in Bible and science. Some articles are specific to archaeology.

Today, I discovered a post on Confident Christian entitled The Best Argument Against Christianity. The article makes a really good point that the best argument is not one of the arguments that atheists will often make on debate boards. I mean, who among those of us who are apologetics veterans have not heard debated to death the Argument from Evil or the scientific case against Christianity? Obviously, if there were no answers to these arguments most Christians would give up being Christians because (contrary to the arguments made by certain atheists) Christianity is a trust system and it is nearly impossible to trust what you cannot rationally accept. (Actually, that is an interesting post for another day.)

So, what does the post point out is the best argument against Christianity? It is, as my very Christian father-in-law used to proclaim: "The best argument against Christianity is Christians."

The article points out that many people view Christians (especially Evangelicals) negatively, and that negative association has a negative effect on their willingness to accept Christianity. The blog post notes that there are three things about Christians that are viewed negatively by the public at large according to the book Unchristian by Barna Research Group President David Kinneman. Unchristian pointed to three major things that Christians do that reflect badly upon Christianity.

First, unbelievers responded negatively to what they termed the Christian "swagger" – how Christians’ lives don’t match up to Christ's, and the bark and bite that unbelievers say they see in Christians' demeanor and actions. 
Second, respondents said that the charity and compassion of Jesus’ teaching in the Gospels have been dismissed by Christians in favor of combative and judgmental actions against what they believe to be threats against their moral positions. In other words, as Christians, we have become famous for what we oppose and stand against rather than for what we are in favor of and champion. 
*** 
The third most cited characteristic of Christianity ... is the one that supports my position that Christians are the faith’s biggest anti-apologetic. A full eighty-five percent (85%) of Kinnaman’s surveyed group said that Christians are best known for a hypocritical lifestyle. How depressing is that? Kinnaman’s finding echoes Gandhi’s famous statement, "I like your Christ, but I don’t like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."
All three of these arguments point to one thing: some people are rejecting Christianity because of the way in which Christians live out their lives.

Now, some of this hatred cannot be avoided if one is to actually preach the Gospel. As the series of recent posts on this blog by JD Waters has pointed out, Christianity necessarily involves the idea that there is a moral lawgiver. Thus, while there are disagreements among Christians on the boundaries of the moral law, the idea that God has a standard of right and wrong which must be followed will always be seen by those who reject God as judgmental. Certainly, there are many of us in the Christian church who believe that Jesus meant exactly what he said when he said, "No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) Thus, when Christians proclaim that Jesus is the way to salvation, it is seen as combative and perhaps judgmental. The blog's author, Robin Schumaher, agrees:

Now, let’s pause a moment for a quick reality check. In regard to being judgmental, while ‘Church Lady’ personas certainly do exist in Christendom that damage the faith’s image, it should be noted that history has shown that the world and humanity’s fallen nature will never take kindly to Biblical pronouncements against the sin it cherishes and wants to practice. The one Scripture verse every unbeliever can quote is “Judge not less ye be judged” (Matt. 7:1), but they fail to understand (1) the statement itself is a judgment, and (2) Jesus commanded His followers to judge with a righteous judgment, but first make sure their own house is in order before they go about instructing others.

However, there is certainly no doubt that Christians need to do better than we have in how we live our lives. Both the first and the third points raised by the book relate to the way the Christians are seen as hypocrites. Looking at the divorce rate between Christians and non-Christians (as an example) points out that the difference between Christians who have had divorces and non-Christians how have had divorces is statistically insignificant. (32% of Christians have had divorces while 33% of non-Christians have had divorces. To be fair, when Christians are broken down into evangelicals versus non-evangelicals, the evangelical divorce rate is much lower -- 26% -- but still much too high.) If Christians are indistinguishable from the world while we regularly preach against the world (or the flesh) then it is understandable the non-Christians would see us as hypocrites.

Moreover, it is not enough to say (as Christians regularly do) that we are not claiming to be perfect -- only saved. Even Paul proclaimed in Romans 7:15, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." But to the non-Christian that is tantamount to admitting that we are hypocrites. We need to do better. After all, Christians are ambassadors for Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:20) To many non-Christians, we are the only example of Christ that that person will ever witness. And if our witness is tainted because we outwardly engage in activity that is unlike Christ, what is that other person supposed to conclude about Christ? They will conclude that either Christ is not who we say he is or that we are hypocrites.

So, how do we change? How do Christians become better imitators of Christ. The blog post on Confident Christian makes some observations on what will improve our ability to be better imitators of Christ. However, the most important step that one can do to become a better follower of Christ is to heed the Words of Jesus: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Mark 8:34) In other words, as long as we seek our own ends and do not listen to the Spirit of God that has been given to all believers who truly repent and seek reconciliation with the Father we will never be able to accomplish the goal of being Christ-like. Instead, it is only those who trust and obey the Spirit of God who will have the strength and ability to be able to live each day more and more in the image of Jesus.

As Robin Shumaher says at the end of the Confident Christian post:

Paul succinctly states both a challenge to and a goal of all Christians when he says, "Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ" (1 Cor 11:1). It might cause you to wince a bit, but ask yourself: could you make such a statement to others and feel good about the claim that when a person is mimicking you, they are imitating Jesus?
My prayer is that we can all answer ‘yes’ soon, because the fact is that an authentic Christian life is the only thing that defeats the best argument against Christianity.
My response: let it be so.

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