Maybe you heard about Meriam Yahia Ibrahim. She is sitting in prison in Sudan for apostasy from Islam, though she has been a Christian for all her life. With her in the prison are her 20 months old son and the baby she’s currently pregnant with. She is not allowed to receive medical aid or have visitors. You can read about the story here, here and here.
There is also a form where you can write to the Sudanese embassy. Visit:
I like God’s Politics Blog a lot, and read their articles from time to time. It gives me insight to what’s going on in American Christianity and more specifically, the American Christianity we don’t hear much about in the media here, because God’s Politics Blog belongs rather to the Christian Left than the Christian Right and the Christian Left is something you wouldn’t know about here unless you sought for the term on google, I guess.
But there is one thing I don’t like at all about God’s Politics Blog. And that is the comment function. I like commenting and I like being able to do so without keeping a number of accounts on several social networks just to be able to log in to a certain site. They used to have Disqus, which was also getting on my nerves, but just a bit, as I could use it to log in by my OpenID.
Meanwhile, they switched to a comment form that allows Facebook, Yahoo, AOL or hotmail. I have neither account, and I am not willing opening one up to be able to comment there. But as I have written a longer comment on the article about Bishop Carey’s claim that within a generation the Church of England would cease to exist and (implicitly) that because of that they’d have to „attract“ young people and turn the church into an „exciting place to meet new people“ which I don’t want to just delete again, I’ll post it here:
How would one attract people? By giving them a place to meet new people? I think that’s not the church’s business. There are bars, cafes and Facebook for that. And prophetic words? Great, if they are heard in church, but you can’t do this yourself, unless God speaks to people in church, which is His to decide when and where.
I think the bishop has the wrong focus: It’s not about attracting people, the church is no business that needs good marketing, because the church has nothing to market. The church has the gospel, and it’s the business of the church to preach it. Not sell it, preach it. And to administer sacraments.
In doing this there can be groups that emerge out of these actions, which themselves are then situated within the church’s organisation. And there can be a place to meet people. Not in order to meet people, but while doing what preaching and sacraments made one do. And this can also attract other people, who would then also listen to the gospel and grow a need to receive the sacraments. But first things first, because if we focus too much on these possibly attractive groups, we will loose our center. And without that, all the rest will break down too in the end.
So maybe the church isn’t attractive at the moment, and maybe too many people don’t want to hear the gospel, which makes the church shrink in places like England and Wales. But as faith is a gift from God, and nothing we can decide about ourselves or that others could generate in us, we can’t do anything about it but pray and see that our sermons do really preach the gospel. So what we need is good theology and the faith, that God will turn all things to a good end.
It’s been a couple of days since I came across Bruce Gerencser’s Blog „The Way Forward“. From all what I have understood, Bruce used to be a minister for years, before he became atheist. On his blog, there is a „start here“ series with posts to understand his journey. In order to understand – why woud I be reading anything at all if not to gain further understanding on God knows what – I started reading those posts (I haven’t come far yet, but I shall).
I don’t know Bruce very well and I dislike categorizing people (though I do it – and I hate that fact), so I want to make clear that this post here is neither to question his decision to leave the church or anything else that has to do with his person. I just want to answer to this very post about unconditional love. Not more, not less.
I know that Bruce knows the bible much better than I do. Somewhere I read, he had been studying the bible for 50 years (Bruce, if you read this, corretc me if I’m wrong) and I am far from even being 50 years old. Nonetheless I have at least some knowledge of the bible and theology, so I dare to throw a big No at the said pot of Bruce’s. And I invite you all, no, I ask you, I beg you to point me to the flaws in what I write. After all, I could only win from being shown my mistakes. Finally: English is not my mother tungue, so you might find that I use some starnge or unclear language. I still hope it’s good enough for you to follow. If not, tell me and I’l try to explain what I meant.
Now to Bruce’s post:
He starts with examples for non-unconditional love in our daly life. He writes that even though we might say we love our wives unconditionally, we would quickly stop doing so once they started to behave in a way we could not bear. He claims we would then stop loving them.
This seems pretty right. And really, many people do stop loving their spouses when they cheat on them and such (Bruce also mentions child molestation). But does the love stop because of unmet conditions? I wouldn’t say so. I even would question love stopping the very moment we hear such things about our spouses. Why else would we suffer from the cheating, if there was no more love there at that very point? I’d say we suffer, because we love and because we realize that the person in question does not meet the conditios we set up for them to deserve our love. Sometimes we stop loving quickly after such a crisis, sometimes the love does not stop at all though we would under no condition want to meet that person again.
Let’s look at the thing from a different perspective: Not from the en of love, but from the beginning. Do we set certain conditions that have to be met in order to love someone. Did you ever walk down the street and decide all of a sudden to love a certain person? I’d say, and I’d be interested in people with a different experience to tell me about it, that love i something that happens to us, without us putting up conditions. So from that point of view I’d say: Yes, love is unconditional. That doesn’t mean it will last forever or anything, but we do not control it. As well as we don’t control the end of love, as much as we sometimes would like to be able to just cease loving some persons who just hurt us.
For me as a Christian, love is a gift from God that He gives and takes as He pleases. I cannot do anything about it. Neither can my wife.
I also want to say something about love relationships. Becaue Bruce writes that there are conditions when we enter such relationships. Yes, there are, I agree absolutely. But there are love relationships without love (but a whole big lot of lust and desire eihter for the body or for the money or… you name it) and plenty of love that does not end in a love relationship.
So I would say: Love is basically unconditional, even between humans, because whenever it is not unconditional, it makes the other one an object and is not love anymore, but desire or whatever you will call it.
So do we love unconditionally? I’d say seldomly if ever. We are human, so we fail. And yes, this is a religous conviction, but I am religious. Your convictions might differ, but they are convictions nonetheless, just as mine.
Now to God. Bruce writes:
God drowned millions of people in the flood. Men, Women, children, the unborn. His love was not unconditional.
I’d be hesitant to connect the Flood with love. But I’d also be as hesitant to connect it with the lack of love. I am deeply convinced that you can love a person and still harm them. I’d agree if Bruce wrote: God’s present of life, and of good life even more, is not unconditional. God takes lives. And as I believe He has his reasons to do so, it is conditional. But I do believe God can take lives and still love. God was, according to the bible, in strong detest of how the people were living in Noah’s times. So there is a reason why he took lives. But then again, He’ll take all of our lives one day or another. So this way of thinking would lead to us saying God would not love any person at all, because all die. If we look at the live of the saints and martyrs, there is death and suffering everywhere. But no Christian in his right mind would say God didn’t love them.
Finally Bruce writes about the condition that we have to believe in order for God to love us and safe us from eternal hell. I know this kind of teaching well, and yes, it is a form of christian teaching. In the United States this might even be the majority opinion among Christians. But there is more to Christianity than the United States, and there are more denominations than the fundamentalist ones. Saying the Christian God wouldn’t love unconditionally is only true for a very small group of Christians. So you’d have to call quite some Christians not „true“ Christians in order to make that sentence, that the Christian God wouldn’t love unconditionally, true. You might know that this is the „no true scotsmen“ argument basically.
Yes, I might be classified as close to universalism. I think it’s the closest to what I read in the bible, but I also know that there are problems. Actually I don’t mind too much, because even in Calvinism as a believer, I’d be going to heaven anyway. And I am not Roman Catholic or Evangelical enogh to think works (including the work of faith) gets me there. That’s the problem with all those theologies that focus too much on hell: They have to say who’s gonna go there, so in order to find somebody to put there, they put up all kind of rules what you have to do or not.
So as close to universalism (though I wouldn’t deny hell, but I’m not sure if it is eternal or just something like the Roman Catholic purgatory, that only cleanses people from their sins) I would say: Yes, God loves unconditionally and in the end we’ll all go to heaven. And yes, all would mean: Including Mao, Hitler and all the other people that could be considered evil. But all of them will be cleansed. The Hitler of heaven would have repented, would have seen the evil of his ways ad would have changed. He‘ be abe to love Jews like anybody else. And heaven’s Stalin woud be friends with them as they’d be friends with anybody else in heaven. And the lion wil lie with the lamb and the child will play with the snake.
One word on Calvinism: The Problem with Calvinists is, they don’t read Calvin. He wasn’t too focused on those who are lost, he was only interested to point out that those with faith in God ar saved no matter what. Unconditionally, because of the (unconditional) love of God. And as for Arminians: I don’t know. There are hardly any here in Germany. Seems they all go either burned or they went to the New World. You deal with them 😉
So shortly said, the video is about a woman who wants to buy a car. But the seller never shows her the car. All he does is present „evidence“ in the form of manual and other paper work, and the fact that he the seller himself is in the office although he lives 7 miles away. He claims he could not be present if he hadn’t come there by this car.
He also claims to have a personal relationship to the car, as do his collegues, but they cannot agree on the type and colour of the car. The woman who liked to buy the car then also finds out that the manual seems to be put together by excerpts of manuals of different cars.
Nonetheless, the seller demands $15,000 from the woman to sell her the car, without showing it to her. He speaks of a chance that the car might reveal itself to her.
In the end of the video, darkmatter put the folowing lines:
Theists:if you can understand why I wouldn’t buy a car from these people, you can also understand why I won’t buy God from you.
Well, I am a theist and I understand very well. In fact, I wouldn’t buy God from these people either. While I understand all the points he is trying to make with this video, he’s getting close to fighting strawmen. I say „close to“, because there are indeed Christians who would behave just like the car sellers there. (If you, dear reader, are one of those Christians: Please, stop doing it.) But it is naive to think and misleading to claim that all Christians were like this.
My first point against the whole plot of the story is: You can’t sell God. God is not a thing you posess in any way or can sell to other people at certain prices. He’s not thing at all. This is a really hard nut or us to crack, because for us humans, most if not everything around us can or will be seen and treated as things that can be controlled. Sadly we tend to think so even of fellow humans.
While we can treat humans that way – we can make them slaves and use them, if we have the means (i.e. power) to do so, this doesn’t work with God. He won’t follow any of our attempts to control Him – ever! So we won’t sell Him. Sometimes people „sell“ certain moral codes or codes of behaving or whatever you will call it, and connect the whole thing to God. This is a whole different thing (and would also need some further discussion, because there’s enough to critisise there, but this is not the issue we deal with here).
My second point would be very close to the first point: You cannot use God. Ever! He is not a tool (so why buy Him in the first place?). The analogy with the car just doesn’t work. Because a car is a thing we can own and which we can use. It’s the whole purpose of a car to be used, if it was useless, there wouldn’t be any cars. Try to say the same about people, and you might understand the problem here: You cannot (or rather should not) speak thus abut people. People are not to be classified by their possible uses, this would be inhumane (and I think atheists would agree on that). The same applies to God. He is not our slave, is no tool is not just a thing.
So if you tried to sell me a tool that was useless or even nonexistant, I wouldnt buy it. And rightly so. Keep your invisible cars to yourself, whatever the colour.
But, as said, with God it is a whole different thing. He is not a thing, He is a counterpart. I don’t try to sell Him anyone. But I do tell people about my relationship to Him, because yes, as He is a counterpart as any human, I can also have a relationship with Him as with any human. The relationship part appears in that video, too, and just appears to be ridiculous. How can you have a relationship to a thing such as a car? (and how would a thing such as a car reveal itself, anyway?)
Relationships make only sense if we speak of counterparts. There is no way I can prove God to any of you. And this is not my job to do so. It is also not my job to tell you you’d go to hel if you did not believe in God. How can you believe in someone you don’t believe in? So yes, I have my fair share of critizism for those fellow Christians who do so (or try to). Don’t get me wrong here, I will still tell of the joy I have from my faith, but it’s not my job to make you have this faith too. It’s God’s job to reveal Himself to you.
While I critisise Christians for trying to sell God, I also critisise people who misrepresent Christianity or even theism as a whole, by claiming that we’d all be like one certin group. We are not, and if you are really open to reason and scientific thinking, you already know that.
I’ve been writing about atheistcriticismofreligionor christianity recently, which could lead to the conclsion that I consider anything that comes from nonblelievers wrong, and anything that comes from believers right. Which is not so. I just ran across „Satan’s 10 commandments to the homosexual lobby“ (via). And I think this is a good opportunity, that I critisise bullshit, no matter where from. Note that this criticism comes from a fellow christian. Yes, I do believe in Christ, no less than you, and I still strongly disagree with the whole anti-gay movement, which in my opinion just hijacked religion to better fulfill their agenda. And it’s a pity that people (strong believing christians I might add) don’t read their bibles enough to see what bullshit they bought into. For a foreigner like me it is shocking to see what’s going on with a great part of christianity in the USA. But enough about that, let’s turn to the „commandments“, I’ll comment them one by one:
1) Always see your sexual opponent (anyone who rejects homosexual acts) as the enemy. Project what they see as your sexual disorder onto them by repetitiously calling them „homophobes“;
Now this appears to be just name calling back and forth. Both sides consider the other as the enemy as far as I can see. So it’s hard to decide whom to believe that the other had a sexual disorder. I wonder though how christians can take part in such name calling. Love thy neighbour anyone? And even start an article on the issue with such name calling. Love conquers all, but hate will be defeated!
2) Separate the act of sex from its natural purpose of procreation by referring to all homosexual relationships as expressions of „love“ rather than „lust“;
I wonder. If sex has the purpose of procreation, then homosexual sex isn’t sex, because no matter how har you try, you won’t procreate. So what is all the fuss about? And another question: What does all this love and lust have to do with it? Is lust evil and love okay? So it would be for homos and heteros alike, wouldn’t it? „God is no respecter of persons“ (Acts 10,34 – yeah, it’s fun tossing bible verses at fundamentalists, like defeating atheists with science;)). But then loveful homo(sexual) relationships would be okay, too. What about a married heterosexual couple being in bed together doing al but the one thing that leads to procreation. You know, tenderness and all that, because they love one another. Sin or not? And now what is different if it was a homosexual couple?
3) Fight to deny those who oppose homosexual acts their right to free of speech.
Okay, this must be an insider for US Americans. I don’t know what is referred here.
At the same time enforce your own right to free speech on others by copiously using the liberal media and other outlets to label your opponents every unsavory thing from „bigot“ to „idiot.“
I could be missing another point, but in how far is this different from using conservative media and other outlets to label opponents every unsavory thing from pervert to disgust?
Use the words „equality“ and „hate“ often and unrelentingly as if only you – the homosexual – understand their meaning.
Yeah, right. But only the fundamentalist right knows God’s will and how to read the bible…
If anyone objects, accuse them of discrimination.
Somehow reminds me on the deny of free speech part above…
Keep in mind that politicians and judges are your friends.
Who could forget that the liberals hold the majority in the house and the supreme court. Now, wait…
Many of them are openly practicing homosexuals and the rest, swayed by power and the almighty dollar, will do anything for your vote.
Like there was no practising fundamentalist among politicians and the GOP had never used the fundamentalist right to get their vote…
Remember, too, that in today’s politically correct and morally relativistic society there is no objective moral order and that it often takes only one civil judge to side in your favor for you to achieve your ends;
Okay, I know too little about the juridical system of the states to undertsand what that is supposed to mean…
4) Use the „race card“ unceasingly against your enemy by equating homosexual behaviour (which can change) with a person’s color (which, by one’s will alone, cannot). Most people don’t know the difference;
It’s right that colour don’t change, while everybody can refrain from sexual deeds of any form. But talking about the race card: Colour wasn’t the problem. If the „niggers“ had stayed in the place the racist society had for them, all would have been fine. Well, at least the whites. The problem with racism was that the black people wouldn’t refrain from complaining about their place in society, about all the lynchings that were bound to this very place in society, and about risking your life when speaking your mind. So, the problem about racism was all about changeable deeds as well. So if the gay people won’t just shut up and behave the way you want them to, they are not too far from the black people back then. By the way: In both cases their opponents used the bible to justify their racism/homophobia, didn’t they?
5) Build yourself up in the eyes of the indifferent masses – who are mere sheep – by claiming to be a modern person of tolerance and peace – one who is accepting of all. The people will believe you because in today’s materialistic word people are focused primarily on themselves and their own gain.
So this is accusing the people, right? Not the homosexuals. I wonder, if you think thus of the people, in how far you can support all those ideas of liberty and freedom in the US constitution (I heard there is at least some of it in there). If the peope are mere sheep and only focused on themselves, wouldn’t it be better to take the greater part of civil freedoms from them. Like speaking their egoistic sheep mind and such? And why let them vote anyways? Doesn’t this necessarily lead to decadence, chaos and decline? I really wonder how fundamentalists can support all those freedoms for the materialistic sheep masses. If they were consequent, they’d support dictatorship. Or at least some form of fundamentalist controlled oligarchy. What does it tell us about the honesty of fundamentalists when they pretend support of democracy while at the same time considering the people incapable of meeting the right decisions. By the way: Who has the majority in the house…?
Ridicule and undermine the intelligence of your more worthy opponents by resorting to ambiguity and sarcasm. Never resist a chance to claim that they are living in the „Dark Ages“;
Yes, this talk of the dark ages just does no justice – to the middle ages. I do consider all this fundamentalism a rather modern phenomenon. And it isn’t only there in christianity, you have it everywhere. But I agree that doing sarcasm is just unfair. Because you need some sense of humour for it, which most opponents of homosexuality just plain lack.
6) Act and speak as if homosexuals have a corner on the truth and that they alone – not their opponents – can demand of society what is right and wrong.
Okay, okay. Now I get it. The whole text is satire. It’s aimed against the fundamentalists themselves. Why else would they write down this while their fellow homophobes wave bibles and do tell society that only their way to read the bible will tell what’s right and wrong? Either it’s a satire, or they don’t listen to their own words. But well, the high priest of Jerusalem was prophetising about Jesus and not realizsing what he was saying, too. God works in mysterious ways sometimes…
Use every form of deceit imaginable including the use of straw man arguments and false scientific studies – anything that will appeal to the simpleton. Lie, deceive, put on a false front.
Anyone else thinking „Fox News“ now?
Pretend you are a friend. Talk of peace and brotherhood. Make pledges of co-operation and mutual assistance. In short, destroy your opponent with a kiss;
Love the sinner, hate the sin. Oh, wait…
7) Confuse the distinction between „hating the sin“ and „loving the sinner.“ This is an absolute must since everyone – especially parents – know the time-honored value of disciple and „tough love.“
Isn’t it more confusing when this love for the sinner is expressed by attacking them all the time for their sexualities, by not looking at them personally, but reducing them to this one part of their personality, what they do in bed? Is this the way you love the sinners in former administrations, who lied (God hates lies!) about weapons of mass destruction, which led to the death of thousands? Why those double standards? I mean, we are talking about love, right? Should there not be just one standard?
This can be effectively achieved by introducing special „anti-bullying“ laws into schools that aim at protecting homosexuals from the enemy. If you find that someone suspects your true motives and resists on the grounds that homosexuals should not be given special status in this regard or that such laws are merely an attempt to normalize homosexuality in society, use both the „equality“ and the „separation of church and state“ card against them;
Yeah, right, if homosexuals are being bullied, they do not deserve a special status, but if „christians“ are bullied, it’s at least christian persecution and the end of the world as we know it. I don’t know what’s wrong about equality. And speaking of the seperation of church and state over there: You have this law, like it or not. So before you complain, why not try to tear the wall of seperation down? Ah, right, because you don’t want the state to interfere in your religious groups. Well, tough luck.
8) Never lose sight of the fact that God is your ultimate enemy. Attack God and all religion as something oppressive, hypocritical and evil. This is easily done by take biblical quotes out of context to suit your own purpose and meaning. At the same time avoid all talk of the murderous regimes of atheists like Hitler and Stalin;
Hitler was baptised and never left the church. Just for the records. I wonder anyhow who is the enemy of God really. Because there is a reason why people consider God and religion as oppressive, hypocritical and evil. Maybe it’s because that’s the way His believers behave all day long? Talking about bible quotes out of context: The homosexual lobby, as you call it, does not use Leviticus to justify their homophobia. So who’s taking bible quotes out of context now. And yes, same applies to Romans.
9) Assure everyone that no religion will be made to suffer from societies‘ acceptance of homosexuality. Speak always and often of equality and co-existence. Claim, as a sham, snare, and illusion, that tradition marriage and homosexual marriage can live side-by-side in complete harmony.
I don’t see how this could not be possible. Oh, now I get it. I already hear Peter saying to Paul: „Darling, look at those heteros over there.“ – „Ew, they’re kissing, how disgusting!“ – „Perverts, I wouldn’t wonder they are doing it all the time.“ – „Someone has to call the cops…“
No really, I don’t see why this would not be possible. Actually it is reality in many countries already.
Dismiss as silly and unviable any attempt to show that the „Pill“ – which was introduced to separate and tear asunder the act of sex from the gift of life – has led to the disintegrated of the family.
Like all was harmony before the pill was introduced. Me weren’t beating their wifes and children, there was no cheating and all children were honouring their parents to no end.
At the same time, and wherever possible, work diligently behind the scenes to drag your religious opponent into court whenever his moral values even begin to clash with yours. Test and try every court until you find a judge who is your friend.
So there were no lawsuits about homosexual marriage, the pill and abortions? As I said, I’m not too deep into the US juridical system, but I am deeply impressed, if no one ever sued to stop abortion laws and the like.
Especially work on religious adoption agencies and church ministers who lecture on the evils of homosexuality and same-sex marriage in their sermons. Where this is not possible infiltrate the priesthood so as to corrupt religion from within,
Yes, there is a real problem with unercover ministers, who preach of hellfires nstead of the love of God… oh, wait…
10) Redefine joyful and well-established words and symbols like „marriage,“ „spouse,“ „gay“ and „rainbow“ and attach them to homosexual acts in order to give sin an innocent, natural and pleasing appeal.
Got some news for you: language is changing. Always. Awful one meant „full of wonder“, a demagogue was a „popular leader“ and a „guy“ was once a „chap“ or a „fellow“. Again: Homosexual acts are not sinful, the bible never says so. There are two verses referring to something we can’t translate properly nowadays, maybe anal intercourse between men is meant, maybe something else. This refers to the act and not the relationship, so if homosexuals practise their love (or lust if you so will) in another way, the verses don’t apply. Then there’s Paul in Romans 1, where he doesn’t write about homosexuality in the first place, but about sinfulness in the world, while he uses homosexuality (which was disapproved of in Rome, unlike Greece) as an example. Now if we follow Paul in his examples, there should also be no long haired men. So, Samson was a sinner like the homosexuals or what? And what about Jesus? Isn’t He depicted with long hair as well?
So, when the author writes in the beginning:
The Bible tells us that Satan has the ability to „appear as an angel of light.“
I’m not sure whom he is really talking about. There is still no one who could point out one harm of homosexuality to anyone. There is no one who could point out one clear bible verse on the issue. All I hear is cultural prejudice: „It’s always been this way, it cannot be different.“ Is that what Jesus preached to the poor and downtrodden?
Euthanasia is bad, but Jesus dying on the cross is good. This is the starting point for this comic. Mo draws a line from assisted suicide to Jesus knowingly going into death through people „helping“ him to do so for his own purposes. So he can claim that Christianity would be based on assisted suicide.
The mistake Mo is making here is that Jesus is God and not just any human being. And many Christians do believe that God is the only one who has the right to take life, as He is the one who gives life in the first place. So if He commits suicide Himself, this’d be no problem, as He is Lord. This isn’t just a pious saying.
There’s another mistake, but it is not made by Mo but by Jesus himself: The Jesus of the bible led a just life and was finally brought to death by the powers of His time. His death was not someting He was seeking. He did not buy a one way ticket to Jerusalem. His death was a consequence of the way he lived, a consequence of challenging the authorities.
A Jesus of our time would not just buy a ticket to Zürich, where assisted suicide is legal. He’d be sent to Zürich by those who want to see Him dead. He wouldn’t want to die, like the Jesus of the bible didn’t want to die, which you can read in the synoptic gospels:
And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. (Mt 26:39)
And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. (Mk 14:36)
Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. (Lk 22:42)
A Jesus of our days wouldn’t commit suicide as the original Jesus didn’t. He was murdered, altthough seeing it coming. Today, maybe the authorities would maybe try to send Jesus to Zürich, but then again murder is illegal even in Zürich, and Jesus would have to consent, which He woudn’t do, as we have seen. On the other hand, today’s authorities would not take the effort of buying a ticket to any place, they’d try to get rid of him then and there, as the authorities did back then. Of course they wouldn’t succeed in getting rid of Him, like they didn’t back then. 😉