Some quick thoughts on liberal Christianity and polyamory

Here are some thoughts I just sent to someone I’m corresponding with via email.  The conversation originated from an argument on a polyamory email list about religion and polyamory.  I will not quote any of what anyone else said, as this email group is intended to be private, but I feel comfortable sharing my own thoughts, especially since they are relevant to this blog.

My interlocutor had asked my to clarify a position of mine concerning internal logical consistency and justification when it comes to churches and the acceptance of polyamory.

The issue I was discussing, concerning consistency, has to do with a religious group being consistent to the ideas in the sources of their beliefs.  For Christians, that is the Bible.  The reason is that without that source, they cannot have any basis for knowing (not to mention justifying) the story of Jesus.  If the Bible is not authoritative, then they cannot have any basis for believing that Jesus said anything, resurrected, or even existed in the first place.  There is little to no historical justification for the historical Jesus’ existence outside of scripture, whether canonical or not.

A church that does not accept some of the Bible must admit, in order to be logically respectable, that they must then justify why they accept some of what the scripture says but not all.  And if they say they are just reading it differently, then they need to justify how the institution that is responsible for the very existence of those books to be included in the Bible interpreted them wrongly for so long.  When a group shapes a message and their descendants say that their ancestors got it wrong, my skeptical dander goes up.

A modern church, accepting polyamory, has to justify how they do so while still accepting the Bible which, along with the tradition in which it grew, rejects such ideas and practices.

I’m not expecting a religion to justify itself to my point of view, I’m expecting it to justify itself to it’s own sources, tradition, etc.

I understand that churches promote messages that will bring people in.  It’s called pandering.  The way I see it, liberal churches orient their messages such that they can attract parishioners, so that it can keep pastors employed.  Church growing is a business, in many ways.

The other aspect of this, as I said before, is that the liberal churches have people that really believe they are being truly Christian.  They don’t like the fundamentalist conservative doctrines, but they still are emotionally attached to their relationship with God and like some of the Biblical messages.  So they ignore the rest, explain them away, or claim they are no longer relevant.  AKA cherry-picking

I, personally, respect the consistency of fundamentalists over liberal theology any day of the week (and twice on Sunday–HA!).  While I disagree with both, I at least respect the fundamentalists’ consistency.  In other words, I am more annoyed by liberal and moderate religious people than the conservatives.

I’m glad that churches are willing to accept such things as polyamory and homosexuality, despite what christian tradition and scripture says.  I just think it’s fair to point out that such churches do so despite these things, not because of them.

Gary Gutting on atheism and agnosticism (part 2)

A few weeks ago I posted a correspondence between Dr. Gutting, from the University of Notre Dame, concerning an article he wrote for the New York Times.

The post is here.

In it we exchanged thoughts about the meaning of atheism, the superiority or redundency of agnosticism, etc.

Well, he wrote back.  Unfortunately he wrote back just before DragonCon started, and I was unable to get back to him until after it was over.  When I did write him back I tried to handle his criticisms fairly and respectfully, so that the conversation would not devolve into something unfriendly.  Despite this, he has not written back again (since my reply) for more than two weeks now.  I’m guessing he will not write back.  Iam not sure why, but my guess is that school obligations are keeping him busy.

In any case, here is the beginning of Dr. Gutting’s response to me:

Here’s the situation:  you are presented with the statements “God exists” and “God does not exist”.  With regard to each, you say: there is not sufficient evidence to say that the statement is true.  This means that you hold a view of God that is between the two extremes of  those who say “There is sufficient evidence to say that God exists” and those who say “There is sufficient evidence to say that God does not exist”.  It seems that you, like everyone else, agree that those holding  the first extreme are theists. The question is about the other two positions.  Most people would say that those holding the second extreme are atheists.  You define an atheist as someone who holds that there is not sufficient evidence to say that God exists.  On this definition, those who hold the extreme position are atheists but only because they would agree that there is not sufficient evidence to say that God exists.  But they go further, saying also that there is sufficient evidence to say that God exists.  You could call this “extreme atheism”.  So it seems that instead of the common triad: theism/agnosticism/atheism, you have the triad: theism/atheism/extreme atheism.  But the two triads refer to exactly the same set of views, so there’s no reason to prefer your terminology.

My impression is that what you’re really concerned about is putting the burden of proof on the theist rather than on yourself.  I entirely agree that the theist has the stronger burden (assuming the theist is interesting in proving his claims).  But the atheist has at least the burden of showing that there are no good arguments for theism, which is much less easy to do than many atheists think.  In any case, I think you’d do much better to frame what you want to say in terms of the burden-of-proof issue and forget about your confusing efforts to change standard terminology.  I also think it would help if you acknowledged that you’re arguing for a change in terminology rather than saying that other people don’t understand that terminology.

I’ve inserted below a few comments about specific points.


My response was as follows:

I thank you for your thoughts.  I have been away for several days and have not been able to write back until today.

Your analysis makes it clear that you understand my position, at least mostly, even though you keep shifting the question.  This is the source of our conflict.  I, however, think that the question between “God exists” and “God does not exist” is not the question that I am asking, nor do I find it a pertinent one when talking about atheism, because that question has little to do with the definition of atheism.  That’s what I’m trying to get across here.  Your dichotomy is not interesting at all because it does not address any actual sophisticated positions at all, but rather acts as a lightning rod for straw men.

As I said, this “God exists”/”God does not exist” dichotomy is not an issue that can be answered because nobody knows.  Anyone coming at the question from this point of view will come out an agnostic, if they are honest and fair, but it does not address what they believe per se.  The question is about belief.  The question is “Do you believe a god exists?” And while someone who answers that question by saying “God does not exist” is implying that they don’t believe, they are attempting to say more than they can, and doing it while not technically answering the question at all.

So, do you believe in a god? You can either answer by saying yes (theist), no (atheist), or not answer.  But whether you answer or not, one either actually holds a belief in god currently, or one does not.  There is no possible middle ground on this.  You cannot answer “I don’t know, for how would you not know what you believe.  Perhaps you are currently wavering back and forth due to complex and/or confusing thoughts, but one either holds the belief or they do not at any given time.  Agnosticism is not a middle position here because it should be admitted before the question is proposed that “of course you don’t know for sure, but what do you believe?”

This distinction I draw does not line up with the “God exists”/”God does not exist” dichotomy for what should be obvious reasons; the issue of belief does not seek to make opposed propositions so much as ask what one accepts as true.

You talk of conflicting triads, but there are no triads.  Belief is digital; one either holds a belief or they do not.  If someone believes their are no gods, that is a different belief to have or not have, not the opposite of belief in.

As Dr. Gutting said in his response above, he responded directly to some of the comments I made in my previous email (and thus my previous post).  Below are those comments, with my responses.  For the sake of simplicity, I have blockquoted his comments and left my responses normally formatted.

Here is the rest of our latest correspondence:

You said:

This means that you hold a view of God that is between the two extremes of  those who say “There is sufficient evidence to say that God exists” and those who say “There is sufficient evidence to say that God does not exist”.

No, I I would prefer not even to address this in this way.  Why? because there is NO evidence that god does not exist.  One cannot prove a negative, although the absence of evidence for a god’s existence is telling, and gives justification to withholding belief.  The proper two “extremes” (I don’t like that word in this context) are between the statement “There is sufficient evidence to say that God exists” and those whom respond with “I don’t believe you.” Again, to have them respond that “There is sufficient evidence to say that God does not exist” is absurd, and an atheist (qua atheism) does not say this.

And yes, I do have the burden of proof in mind.  The simple fact is that the atheist (qua atheism) NEVER EVER EVER has the burden of proof.  An atheist CANNOT logically have the burden of proof because an atheist is not claiming anything at all.  An atheist is simply saying that they do not accept the claim.  And it is true that to show that the claims of theists are not sufficient is hard.  Actually, the act itself is relatively easy, but getting the theist to see that is the hard part.

About changing terminology:

For centuries the use of ‘atheist’ has not been determined by atheists but by religious institutions and people for the most part, and thus many uses exist.  Thus, the term has often been used for centuries in a way that makes no sense and which describes nobody who is fair and educated on the question of belief and gods.  So when people who don’t believe in gods start talking publicly, the first thing they are going to do is raise their hand and say “Oh, by the way, this definition of atheism you guys have been using does not seem to cohere with any actual people, and we would like you to be aware that it does not address what we actually think.”

I’m saying that people don’t understand the terminology that actual atheists use, (including some atheists who refuse to use the term because they have not thought about the implications of some traditional uses of it), and that we are trying to shift use of the term towards what coheres with what atheists actually think.  The theist/agnostic/atheist “triad” you mention simply does not cohere with a logically sensible state of positions, nor does it cohere to actual people.  Being aware of that, atheists seek to point this out so that we don’t keep hearing that we are making the same level of absurd claim as the theist by making a claim when we are not.

So yes, this is an attempt to change terminology, but to change it towards a sensible system rather than one that has no actual citizens within its gates. Your triad does not address anything real, but rather some idealized system that falls apart upon closer investigation.  Your point in the original article was right in pointing out that agnosticism is the sensible position, but only when book-ended with two positions which are nonsense, and which no sophisticated thinker actually holds to.

Your comments:

To reserve judgment on God’s existence is to say neither “God exists” nor “God does not exist”.  So,if you do not reserve judgment on God’s existence, you either say “God exists” or “God does not exist”.  Since you also do not say “God does not exist”, it follows logically that you say that God does exist.  So there’s some mistake in your formulation here.

This is clearly a false dichotomy.  My judgment is that the evidence for god is lacking, thus I lack belief even though this lack of evidence is not evidence of lack.  I am rejecting your dichotomy here.  Again, the issue is not “God exists”/”God does not exist” but rather whether one actually holds a belief in any gods.  The mistake is not in my formulation, it is with your insistence that the question is about “God exists”/”God does not exist” when it is not.  You are spelling out a simplistic dichotomy that cannot be answered; both choices are absurd to hold to.  This dichotomy needs to be thrown out completely, because no fair and sophisticated person can choose either.

A sophisticated theologian does not say god exists, they say that they believe god exists and enumerates reasons why.  An atheist does not say that god does not exist, they say they don’t accept such a being and enumerates why not.  In short-hand people may say the words “god exists” but when pressed they will have to admit that this is a statement of belief, which I think you are doing.  The problem, as I tried to point out before, is that this is sloppy when being precise.  The atheist’s position is not “God does not exist” (even though many will say this) but rather “I don’t believe the theist’s claim.”

As you said in your article, both sides are extremes and one should stick with the middle position of agnosticism.  I agree that one should be agnostic, but not that it is a middle position here.  Rather, agnosticism is the position one resolves to when they realize that the dichotomy you propose has no citizens, and that everyone is in a position of not being able to choose either rationally, which makes them redundantly agnostic.  They cannot be anything except agnostic, in fact.  Everyone is an agnostic.  Nobody can say “god exists” or “god does not exist” and be justified in saying so, whether a theist or an atheist.

Here you’re saying that atheists assert two things: (1)There is not sufficient proof to conclude that God exists; (2) There is not a high level of certainty for the claim that God does not exist.  This means that you are not an atheist in, say, Dawkins’ sense of saying “There almost certainly is no God”.  Since Dawkins is the most prominent popular representative of atheism, I would think you should not call yourself an atheist when your position contradicts his.

Actually, I’m a 6 on the Dawkins scale, just like he is.  Someone who said that their was a high level of certainty that god does not exist would be a 7 (or perhaps a 6.9).  My view is in line with Dawkins.  I know this because I have talked with him about it. Also, I am assuming that you refer to the London bus ads that had that phrase.  Dawkins did not write that phrase, but he does agree with it.  Further, even if Dawkins did disagree with me, there is no doctrine of atheism to create a conflict.  Many atheists disagree about terminology, and this is an argument I’ve had with other atheists as well.  My view is that those atheists have not thought this through carefully.  But in this case you are incorrect because Dawkin’s position is the same as mine, even if we may use different words now and then.

How do you justify the move from “The evidence is insufficient to believe that God exists” to “I should act as if God does not exist”?

I don’t.  I didn’t say that I SHOULD, I say that I do.  By all means, worry about things which you don’t find sufficient evidence for, if you like.  I am simply saying that because the evidence is insufficient, I will act as if the proposed being does not exist.  Similarly, the evidence for the Loch Ness monster is lacking, so I’m assuming you go about your day as if it does not exist.  Now, if you were swimming in Loch Ness, you might think about it, but I’d bet you would not be worried about being eaten by the monster.  Similarly, I don’t go around worrying about such things as sin, Hell, etc.

Again, I thank you for your thoughts.  Finally, to address what you said early on:

It seems that you, like everyone else, agree that those holding  the first extreme are theists. The question is about the other two positions.  Most people would say that those holding the second extreme are atheists.

Sure.  Those people are incorrect and unsophisticated, because this use does not stand up to logical scrutiny.  An analogy would be to say that a Communist is not a Capitalist, but a socialist or some other economist might raise their hand and say “um, actually, I’m just saying I’m not a Capitalist, I never said I was a Communist.”  It is true that the Communist agrees with them that they are both not Capitalists, but one goes a step further and makes a claim, while the other does not.

I’m not a theist.  When someone says that there is a god, I say I don’t believe them.  I might also point out that this is their belief, and not knowledge (they often still insist that they know, but this is unsophisticated thinking).  I never said I thought that there was no god, but for some reason people keep thrusting that on me because I call myself an atheist.  This is because the term has come to be used by unsophisticated people in a way that does not describe actual unbelievers, and we are trying to use it in a way that makes actual sense.

A-gnostic; without knowledge.  A-moral; without morality.  A-theist.  A-, without.  Theist, one who believes in a god.  Atheism; without theism or without belief in god.  atheist, not a theist.  Get it?  If I ever argue that a god does not exist, this does imply that I also don’t believe in a god, but it is something else.

And so I do sometimes argue thusly in order to flex my intellectual muscles.  Vic Stenger does too, in God, The Failed Hypothesis.  And while people who make such arguments have a lot of good points, many of which I agree with, I ultimately recognize that I cannot say with a high degree of certainty that no gods exist, despite the fact that the vast majority of the evidence leans towards gods being unparsimonious.

But as far as I am an atheist, I simply do not believe.  I’m open to be convinced, but so far have not been.

I’m an agnostic atheist.

Such was our correspondence, now left for public scrutiny.

Quotes From Bizarro World: part 3

This is a continuation of a series of quotations from, and commentary of, my reading of John Frame’s book, Salvation Belongs to the Lord, which I am reading for a class about faith in Christian life.  I will be under-cover, so shhhhh…..

Part 1

Part 2

So, what shall we speak of today?

The Trinity.

Oh, joy! That’s an easy one that can be covered in a blog post, right? Well, no.  I would just like to quote Frame from the chapter entitled God, Three in One and makes a few observations.

Remember, though, that Scripture gives us only a glimpse, not a treatise…. Much that the Bible teaches about the Trinity is very mysterious, and we must bow in humility as we enter into this holy realm

(page 30)

So, in other words the Bible is vague about this doctrine, but we are going to humble ourselves before it anyway?  OK, I thought that the Bible was the ultimate source of truth, and so where it is vague we will simply humble ourselves to a view that was attained through latter interpretation of vague verses?  I’m getting ahead of myself….

Frame then lists 5 assertions (his term), which I will simplify into a list.

5 assertions

  1. God is One
  2. God is Three
  3. The three persons are all each fully God
  4. Each person is distinct from each-other
  5. They are related eternally as Father, Son, Holy Spirit

Ok, let’s start with #1.  I don’t believe it, but I understand.  How about #2? I don’t believe it but I understand…that is until my memory reminds me that #1 said something which flatly contradicts #2.

So, after I pick up the pieces of my exploded brain, I take a deep breath and try to move onto #3.  I can’t.  My brain is still experiencing some sort of stop error, and I cannot move on.  The first two assertions are purely contradictory.  But this is supposed to be a mystery.  And besides, my mind, intellect, etc are fallen, sinful, and broken.  I am not supposed to understand, but just accept.

Except that the Bible is vague on this point….


Let’s move on. Frame says that there have been “debates over the deity of Christ.”  Not just in modern times, but in ancient times.  During the 3rd and 4th centuries, many views of Jesus conflicted among the early Christians, even though Frame does say later (in chapter 10 entitled Who is Jesus Christ?) that there is no debate in the NT about this issue.  One wonders how now-heretical views could have formed without Scriptural basis?  Probably it has something to do with the fact that the canonical books that became the Bible had not been declared canon until after 325 AD.  Before then there were other texts being considered as authoritative by many people.  Many of these books are gone, some have been subsequently found.

Still, continues Frame,

But the conclusion of the Christian church since its inception, and the conclusion of the Bible itself, is that Father, Son, and Spirit are each fully God.

(page 32)

Sure, the Bible as voted one by councils in the 4th century (starting with Nicaea).  The letters, gospels, etc that created a theological problem for this view were considered heretical, and often destroyed.  So, while the scriptures that became canonical were vague at best, other writings made this issue even less clear when considered.  Modern readers often do not know about these non-canonical texts, and so they are out of mind.  Still the Bible we have is vague about this doctrine, but this idea is central to most Christian theology almost without question.

Yeah, that makes sense….

Frame adds this;

The work of theology is not just reading through the Scriptures but applying the Scriptures to the questions people ask, applying it to their needs.

(page 35)

Seems innocuous enough.  Then you start to think about it.  Theology is an attempt to categorize what is written.  It is an attempt to make sense out of the Scripture in terms of what matters to us in our lives, right? Why would the Trinity be necessary for this?

Let’s follow the trail and see where Frame leads us.  At the end of the chapter, Frame tells us that

If Jesus the Son of God is only a creature, [Athanasius] said, then we are guilty of idolatry….[Jesus] is worthy of worship only if he is equal to the Father….”

and then further down the page,

If the Arians were right…then we are hoping to be saved from sin through a mere creature.  Only if Jesus is fully God, a member of the ontological Trinity, can he save us from our sins.

(page 41)

Ah! I see now.  The Trinity becomes a doctrine to explain how Jesus, his so-called sacrifice, is able to have theological import.  The Trinity is a solution to a problem of getting to where theologians want to get; salvation.  It’s a puzzle-solution, not a philosophical methodology for figuring out what is true, lines up with reality, or anything like that.  (Heresy!).

If you read the New Testament, you will not find a clear treatise on the Trinity.  Jesus does not say he is equal to the Father and the Spirit, that they are all 3 persons of the same substance, or anything like that.

But Jesus is supposed to have said something things that would have been heretical to the Jewish establishment and which identified him as at least similar to God.  The whole “Son of Man” thing, the doing of miracles, etc.  So, by taking these puzzle pieces and structuring them into the Trinitarian formula, Athanasius and the early church along with him put together a coherent whole that, while not sensible, seeks to harmonize the claims of the gospels, Paul’s writings, etc. It’s a matter of creating the appearance of coherence in God’s Word, not in making sense of reality based on logic, rational enquiry, or (gods! no!) any proto-scientific method.

This seems to me to be a strange, backwards, way to figure out a mystery.  Philosophical methodology might ask you to figure out what is logically possible then try to apply that to what is found.  Here, logical possibility is thrown out as a criteria because we are broken, body and mind.  The Word is the authority, our minds are broken.

We cannot trust ourselves, our minds, or rational thought.

Well, all there is to do under those conditions is believe, right?


Don’t think about that too hard.

The Christian Story: class redux

Well, so I have now attended the first two classes at a local church entitled The Christian Story: How Christian Theology Affects Everyday Life.

I have not written much, so far, about the class itself, although I have talked a little about the book we are using (John Frame’s Salvation Belogs to the Lord) and will continue to quote and comment soon.  I have not commented on the class because there has not been much to comment on.

In my opinion the class runs too short.  For any real discussion more time is necessary.  The problem is that the class tends to thin out as people leave to go to the 10:45 service.  I do not attend the service, because I feel no need to do so and because I have already seen it once at this church.  The sermons are not sufficiently enticing to sit through the singing to Jesus and so forth.

Really, nothing is worse than Christianed-up rock chords put to words of praise to super-Jew.

The first class drew around 20, the second about 15.  Mostly people in their 20’s-30’s, some married (with or without their partners), and  few single people.  Don’t worry, I’m not planning on currupting any nice young Christian women with my wily ways.  Although there is a certain appeal to the idea.

Really, I’m not evil.

3 classes remain.  I’m hoping that we will have a chance to dig into this stuff more, because while some interesting questions have been raised, and then subsequently glossed over, I feel like there is potential for actual discussion to get going.  Likely, it will get going as the class nears its end.  And I don’t want to give myself away and distract the purpose of the class by asking too many questions myself.


But the book’s view is so conservative, so absurdly literalistic, that it really does seem (as one other class member stated) that the Bible says it, and then it’s rigfht because the Bible says it “30 times.”  You know, argument by assertion.

He still made sure that, in saying this, he was clear that he still believed, despite bringing up the issue of justification for belief.  No, not Justification (wherein God decalres us righteous, in a legal sense–see, I’m learning!), but epistemological justification of why to accept points of theology at all.  That is hardly brought up at all, except to say that the Bible is God’s Word.

Sorry, I need more than that.

3 more weeks….

Quotes from Bizarro World (2)

This is a continuation of a series of quotations from, and commentary of, my reading of John Frame’s book, Salvation Belongs to the Lord, which I am reading for a class about faith in Christian life.  I will be under-cover, so shhhhh…..

See Part1

“as believers in Christ we don’t get what we deserve.  We deserve death, but God has placed that punishment of death on his Son.  In Jesus’ death he gets what we deserve….”

(page 23)

Now, this quotation brings up nothing new to me, but I think it is more valid to quote what an actual Christian says than to try and summarize based upon generalities.  This way, no straw-men are hurt in the writing of this post.

This common theme, that we are all sinners worthy of death, is disturbing to me.  It is not disturbing in the way that Frame, and other Christians, may expect it to be disturbing; I am not worried about the death that I deserve.  I’m disturbed because this view seeks to distract us from this world, a world of this magical and mythological thing called ‘sin’ which supposedly pervades our very being.

Christian theology seeks, fundamentally, to make us feel broken.  It is a great marketing technique to make the customer feel like they lack something, then to present them with a product to fill that gap.  The fact that religion tends to use this method quite frequently explains that it’s success has to do with how our brains work and are manipulated much more than religious messages being true.

But what are they selling?  Belief in Jesus, right?  Well, yes, but it is done through this substitutional atonement; Jesus suffered for your sins.  This makes no sense at all, but it seems sweet of him to try.  This substitutional framework is mirrored on the idea that Adam, who represents us in his fall from the “covenant of works” (by which humanity was tested to see if they could obey God’s laws and failed in the eating of the fruit of the tree…you know the story).  Adam failed, Adam represents us.  Jesus succeeded, and Jesus seeks to represent us if we would only believe….

There is something in the mind that catches at this.  It is a subtle psychological method going on here.  There is a subtle manipulation, one that I have never succumbed to, but I feel it.  I don’t feel it in a desirous way, I feel it in a way similar to that feeling I get when I hear a good sales pitch.  I subtly think yeah, that makes a kind of sense…I should buy that! but am then returned to reality where I don’t need a George Foreman grill.

(I’m waiting for some Christians to tell me that this feeling is God trying to reach out, but my hardened heart refuses to accept the free gift…you now the drill.)

And so God gave his only begotten Son and all that, right? We should feel thankful, shouldn’t we?  Well, I have addressed Jesus’ ‘sacrifice‘ before, and I don’t think much of it.  I know the whole “fully God, fully man” thing is supposed to make it possible for Jesus to suffer and make the crucifixion meaningful, but I don’t buy that either.  I guess that makes me a heretic for not accepting the Chalcedonian Declaration.  Whether Nestorian, Monophysite, or mythicist, I am certainly a heretic of some sort.

People, we are not sinners.  There is no reason to believe a literal and historical Fall occurred.  There is no reason to accept that a mythological Fall occurred, or that we are inherently sinful or broken in any spiritual way.   In fact, there is no reason to accept the existence of a non-metaphorical ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’ in the first place.

Any imperfections in our being are due to the blind forces that formed us over millions of years of evolution–not some moral failing due to lack of obedience to some megalomaniacal  bully of a god.  We have the ability to educate ourselves, improve ourselves, and we don’t need a savior from any fairy-tale sins.

There is nothing to save us from.

Quotes from Bizarro World

This is the first in a series of quotations, and very likely commentary, from my reading of John Frame’s book, Salvation Belongs to the Lord, which I am reading for a class about faith in Christian life.  I will be under-cover, so shhhhh…..

Secularists usually try to argue that the personal reduces to the impersonal…[they] are ultimately just matter, motion, space, time, and chance.  But the Bible teaches the opposite; the impersonal reduces to the personal.  Matter, motion, space, time, and chance are, ultimately, tools used by one great Person to organize and run the universe he has made.

(page 7)

This is the first glimpse within this screed that we are not dealing with someone that is going to justify any argument in any other way than the Bible says so.  In fact, it is clear, as I read on, that we are dealing with a person that believes that the Bible is as authoritative as the words directly from God’s mouth.  In fact, he says pretty much just that in chapter 5.

The Bible, argues Frame, is infallible (even if it is not always precise), especially in regards to salvation.

So, when we see Frame addressing secularists, we should not expect a rational response.  After all, the intellect (along with will and emotions) are part of our sinful nature.  We must trust God’s word completely, especially over our own senses, judgments, and reason because these things are fallen.  Rather than tell us why the impersonal reduces to the personal, we are told that Scripture says so, and the authority of Scripture is absolute.

No room for argument.

How stifling!  How backwards!  How sickening!  And, granted, this form of Christian faith is not the only one out there, but it is a pervasive one among many churches.  This type of Reformed theology, Calvinist in perspective and literalist in interpretation, is quite common.  Even if most church-goers don’t take it so seriously as to actually live their life completely according to the implications of this worldview, it acts as a backdrop to our views about education, sexuality, and so on.

It can’t make the anti-intellectual culture we live in any better, because intellect is sinful.  And I, my dear reader, am merely lost.  But God created me to be lost, so I guess he won’t complain or punish me or anything….

I need a shower…

Slavation Belongs to the Lord

OK, I need to take a break.

I really can’t take any more of this right now….

OK, context! Yes, dear reader, you need context to such a statement.

Very well.

I am planning on taking a class at a local church about faith in everyday life. Part of the class involves reading a book, an introduction to systematic theology, by a very conservative theologian by the name of John M. Frame. It is called Salvation belongs to the Lord. and I have been reading it in preparation for the class.

Why am I taking this class? Well, partly because I am interested in learning about theology from an insider’s perspective.  But I also want to sit in and hear discussions among Christians and hear what they have to say, so that I am better informed about what people think about such things.

I intend to say little, and I will not lie about my views but will not offer them, at least at first.  If I am asked directly, I have decided not to hide who I am and why I am there, but otherwise I intend to listen a lot.

So, why am I so frustrated? Because this book proposes a literalitic and conservative view of the Bible that is so absurd, so constraining, and so repressive that I can only take it small bits at a time.

We must, argues Frame, submit our will, intellect, and emotions to God’s will.  There is no ability to think for ourselves, especially if we are to question anything the Bible says.

We did not evolve.  He spent about 3/4 of a page discussing evolution and merely dismissed it on the basis that it is not in accordance with Scripture.

I could go on.  I won’t.  In the coming weeks I will discuss this class, our discussions within, and perhaps sections of the book.  for now, I just wanted to rant for a moment before I tore the book in half and ran screaming into the night.

Salvation Belongs to not reading this crap anymore…

Yet I will persevere.