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Quotes from Bizarro World (2) September 11, 2010

Posted by shaunphilly in religion, atheism, polyamory, culture.
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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.

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Quotes from Bizarro World September 10, 2010

Posted by shaunphilly in religion, atheism, polyamory, culture.
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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 September 9, 2010

Posted by shaunphilly in religion, atheism, polyamory, culture.
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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.