Sunday, 24 January 2010

Perfectly Logical Atheistic Thinking

During a discussion Here, I posted the following comment, seeking clarification on an atheist poster's thinking about standards of right and wrong. As I have posted elsewhere, (see my various posts on atheism or atheists) it is logically clear, to any person who analyses the matter sufficiently, that the atheist has no logical basis for assuming any objective standards of right and wrong, as opposed to standards dictated merely by subjective personal opinion, or by society, which is, after all, nothing more than the sum of the subjective personal opinions of a number of individuals.
My comment:
May we take it then that you believe that slavery, for instance, as practised a couple of centuries ago, was not wrong? That kidnapping African men and women, loading them into the holds of ships)where many died in passage), and forcing them into forced labour, was right because individuals and society agreed it was? Would the same go for any war, human or child sacrifice, genocide or mass slaughter in history was not wrong if the consensus of society was in favour?

Are you saying that child rape, for instance, is only wrong because society considers it wrong? In a society that considered child abuse acceptable, would it then be so?

If you agree, then, yes, at least your thinking is consistent.

The reply:
Well isn’t it? Every society has it’s own individual standards(consensus), for deciding what is right and what is wrong. It is different all over the world and has changed through out the times.

In each of those societies different things are seen as evil or good according to there cultural consensus. The second world war for japan is seen much differently than we in the west see it.

We as a society we create the objective standard for right and wrong. All the imaginary gods you come up with will never change it, just because you do not accept it, is not going to change it. Refusing to see reality as it is doesn’t make it invalid. it just makes you blind to it.

This commenter did rather avoid giving a direct answer, but ended up admitting exactly my point: that her/his thinking led directly to the conclusion that whatever was acceptable to a particular society at a particular time in history, was what was right.

So I suppose, if the thinking is completely logical, this commenter would approve of things like the holocaust, or any murder of any group by any religious majority, as long as it was considered acceptable by the majority at the time.

The logic is to be pitied, but it is entirely consistent.

Take Care

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Calling the Righteous to Repentance?

After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. "Follow me," Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"
Jesus answered them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Luke 5:27-32)

I had another of my off-the-wall ideas about this passage. I have always thought (when I thought about it at all) that when Jesus said that he had not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance, what he meant was that he had not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. But now I've been thinking ;). I don't think that's the case at all. Because it seems to me that it leads to rather a possible contradiction within Scripture.

After all, Jesus would have known more than anyone that "There is no one righteous, not even one..." (Romans 3:10b, Psalm 14:3b,Eccl 7:20). Or was he under the mistaken illusion that there might actually be someone righteous somewhere? Of couerse not. So if Jesus knew no one was righteous, why did he say what he said?

Well, Jesus wasn't talking to us. Or to his followers. He was not talking to those who realized their need. He was talking to the Pharisees, who obviously thought of themselves as righteous. They had a holier-than-thou attitude towards the tax collector and 'sinners' with whom Jesus was associating. And so I think Jesus here was speaking with a healthy dose of sarcasm towards those who arrogantly thought themselves so good that God Himself must be impressed with them.

He said that it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but could just as easily have added, to paraphrase the very Scriptures (of which he was the author), "There is no one healthy, not even one..." But the Pharisees wouldn't have believed him, even thought they had the same Scriptures to enlighten them. They saw themselves as needing no spiritual help at all. And so I think he said, in a sense, loaded with sarcasm, "You guys obviously don't need my help, so I'm ministering to those who realize they do."

Just my thoughts,
Take Care

Monday, 11 January 2010

What Exactly is the, 'Baptismal Covenant?'

I have seen and heard liberal Anglicans raising what they call their, "baptismal covenant" to justify all sorts of far out ideas, from the social gospel to inclusiveness of all sorts of sin, usually sexual, as now somehow acceptable.

The latest edition of the Anglican Network in Canada Newsletter refers the reader to This story out of St James Cathedral in Toronto:

Diocese of Toronto to host Bishop Gene Robinson
Mr Robinson actually preached yesterday, January 10, a rather unremarkable sermon except for the assertion that Jesus was taken by the Spirit into the desert so that he could "figure out" what his baptism or his ministry, "meant to him."

But I couldn't help but notice that on the church's website, as part of their vision statement, is this:
"To fulfil the baptismal covenant that declares that all people are full and equal members of the Body of Christ"

"All people?" What baptismal covenant are they talking about? After seeing it, I read the entire baptismal service in the BAS and for the life of me, I can't see where they get this from. "All people" are full and equal members? Does that mean atheists? Moslems? Buddhists? Homophobes ;)?

What I can see for sure in the baptism service is this: after repeating what is basically the Apostle's Creed, a very early (2nd century) baptismal creed, adults and older children are asked, among other things, "Will you continue in the apostles' teaching..." (which I assume means the apostles' teaching on sexual immorality, among other things.)
To which the candidate answers, "I will, with God's help."
Then, "Will you persevere in resisting evil (which again, I assume would include various immoralities as understood by 1st or 2nd century Christians)and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?
Again the response, "I will with God's help."

Somehow, this part of the baptismal covenant is forgotten or omitted by certain members of the liberal church. Instead, quite in opposition to the aforementioned apostle's teaching, now, "all people," apparently regardless of faith or lack thereof in Christ, have become members of his Body.

This is really a different teaching -- a different gospel. Indeed, a different Jesus. (Galatians 1:8)(2 Corinthians 11:4)

Take Care

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Do Not Store Up Treasures?

I had a new insight, at least new for me, this morning in our adult Sunday School class.

Is there anyone out there who attends such a class? Is there anyone who doesn't? I would heartily recommend it for anyone. I have been blessed many times just through sharing the Scriptures with other adult believers and having my eyes opened to fresh insights in ways I had never seen or thought before. Such a time was this morning.

The passage was Matthew 6:19-21
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

I had often considered that the emphasis here was on, "not storing up treasures", and I must say it led to some conflicting thoughts. Are we not to have material possessions? Are we not to have bank accounts or RRSP's? There were a number of people in the class, from the poorest of the poor (as our society would count them) to the fairly well off. Where is the line to be drawn? I have heard it said, and would have interpreted it this way myself, if pressed, that we should not store up in the sense that we begin to rely on our possessions rather than God. In other words, not to put our faith in our things, rather than in God. And indeed, that can be inferred from the text, but it is not stated as such explicitly. But again, where is the line to be drawn? How much stuff is too much? One person's convenience is another's extravagance.

And then my eyes were opened to something new. I concentrated on the first few words, and it struck me that when we read Scripture, we need to see every word, leaving nothing out. Often, I think, we have understood a certain passage in a certain way for so long that we just don't question whether it could actually be seen in a different way. Now this may not be what you would call a completely new revelation, but to me, I saw things in a whole new light.

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth..."

I had always focused on the first four words, "Do not store up...", and thought that that was where the emphasis was... on storing up. And this was what led to such conflicting feelings, as to whether I should worry about a retirement fund, for instance.

But then my eyes fell on the next two words; "for yourselves..." and I felt I had found some kind of key. Jesus was not being critical of storing up, but for whom we are storing. The key is not to store up, "for ourselves." We are not to store selfishly. As Christians, everything we own (and that may be much or little) should be at God's disposal. That includes all our possessions, whether we consider them necessities, such as a home, or luxuries, such as cars or televisions or DVD players. And yes, even our retirement incomes. It should always, all, be available to God, for Him to use at His discretion.

It's not that we shouldn't have these things, but are are we sure they are completely at God's disposal, all the time?

Take Care