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Author Topic:   Discussion With An Adventist Pastor: Raphael and Phat Only (for now)
Phat
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 1 of 16 (886633)
05-28-2021 2:30 PM


I wanted to formally propose a Great Debate between myself and our Seminary student Raphael. Technically I don't see this as a debate so much as a discussion, though he and I may find points of contention.

In the end, I believe that mutual respect and thoughtful responses will be the norm. I wanted to start by asking Raph about 7th Day Adventism and how it is similar to and differs from the beliefs that I have grown up with and the charismatic beliefs which I now embrace. (Though I am perennially a work in progress.)

For the rest of you, please comment in the peanut gallery thread.Message 164

Percy can you formally give me the go-ahead to promote this?

Edited by AdminPhat, : No reason given.

Edited by AdminPhat, : added request for Percys approval

Edited by AdminPhat, : No reason given.


Replies to this message:
 Message 2 by Raphael, posted 05-29-2021 3:24 AM Phat has responded

  
Raphael
Member
Posts: 171
From: Southern California, United States
Joined: 09-29-2007


Message 2 of 16 (886643)
05-29-2021 3:24 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Phat
05-28-2021 2:30 PM


Hola Phat, my friend! What an honor it is!

This is unexpected, so much pomp and circumstance! Haha. Though I am always down for a conversation. Let's do it. Seventh-day Adventism is my tribe, though I would never claim to speak for it in a worldwide sense. I also may not be the best person to ask, as many in my faith family would probably consider me considerably left of center . All that said, let's chat.

Where would you like to start?

- Raph


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Phat, posted 05-28-2021 2:30 PM Phat has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by Phat, posted 05-31-2021 5:01 PM Raphael has responded

  
Phat
Inactive Member


Message 3 of 16 (886698)
05-31-2021 5:01 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by Raphael
05-29-2021 3:24 AM


Opening Statements

Let's start with your perception of Christianity in general, Secularism and Humanism next, and finally how you are anchored to your tribal roots and what it means for you in a Big Picture context within this life we all lead. (Can't believe I just said that! Am I making sense or am I jabberwocky?)

After you start, I will tell you of my roots and my tribe and belief statement as of this fine Spring day in 2021.
You first, though.

Edited by Phat, : No reason given.


"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." ~Mark Twain "
***
“…far from science having buried God, not only do the results of science point towards his existence, but the scientific enterprise itself is validated by his existence.”- Dr.John Lennox

“The whole war between the atheist and the theist comes down to this: the atheist believes a 'what' created the universe; the theist believes a 'who' created the universe.”
- Criss Jami, Killo

“The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him.” — Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God is Within You
(1894).


This message is a reply to:
 Message 2 by Raphael, posted 05-29-2021 3:24 AM Raphael has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by Raphael, posted 05-31-2021 8:04 PM Phat has responded
 Message 5 by Raphael, posted 05-31-2021 10:06 PM Phat has responded

  
Raphael
Member
Posts: 171
From: Southern California, United States
Joined: 09-29-2007


Message 4 of 16 (886704)
05-31-2021 8:04 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by Phat
05-31-2021 5:01 PM


Re: Opening Statements
Let's start with your perception of Christianity in general, Secularism and Humanism next, and finally how you are anchored to your tribal roots and what it means for you in a Big Picture context within this life we all lead. (Can't believe I just said that! Am I making sense or am I jabberwocky?)

Oh my. Haha, you are making sense man. Well, then, this looks to be the makings of a considerable conversation. I imagine that, since you know I am an Adventist, there are certain perceptions you probably have of me; things you assume are my perceptions of these things. It makes sense, considering we appear as an odd group to some. I am not offended by this. In fact I hope you feel free to ask anything my friend! As I said I don't think I am the best Adventist representative haha, in fact as we discuss you will probably conclude that I am not even an Adventist at all but I will do my best. All love.

That said, let me break apart your question into some more workable bits and we can dive right in!

Here's an outline:

1. Perception of Christianity: Story, Way, Gospel

2. Thoughts on Humanism & Secularism

3. Tribal Anchors

4. The Big Picture (Some Personal Conclusions)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1. STORY, WAY, GOSPEL

The word "Christianity" is an interesting one in 2021. Perhaps one of the most interesting English words around. It is odd to have a word that evokes such strong emotions (and strong non-emotions). Ask any person and the answers may be considerably different. Your average American irreligious man might use the word "Christian" to speak of Paula White's prayer for "Angels from Africa" to come help Trump win the election, something that means nothing to him personally. Some western European man might associate the word with a great number of large Cathedrals from time immemorial. Some of my queer friends in Southern California would probably talk about the oppressive patriarchy and the abuse they have experienced from church leaders. A woman in western Kenya might talk about the humanitarian aid, well -building, and medical assistance any one of hundreds of church groups have provided for her community. Or a child with cancer at Johns Hopkins might speak about the chaplain that came everyday to listen and pray with him. All this to say, the word "Christian" is an interesting one indeed.

For me, then, it is in some ways both the easiest and most difficult word to try and define. Easy, because the definition should be fairly simple. One who follows Christ. But difficult, because of all the damage, history, good work, and perceptions that surround it. Regardless, it is definitely worth an attempt for this conversation.

All that said, if I were to attempt to try and synthesize down what Christianity is, at its core, I would probably start with the word story. Christians are those that believe a story. We believe the story of the middle-eastern man, Jesus (ישוע‎ ), a man who taught many things, a wise man. A man who claimed Oneness with the Divine. A man who was betrayed, tried in a corrupt trial, and executed by the Roman government around 33 AD. And a man who defied death, verifying all the things he said about himself.

After the word story, I would probably use the word way. Christians are not only those who believe the story is true, but order their lives after the way of life Jesus spoke about and demonstrated. We take Jesus seriously when he talked about how the Kingdom of Heaven is breaking into the world. We believe we are conduits of that. Loving enemies. Care for the poor, oppressed and marginalized. Practicing surprising generosity and hospitality. Prayer and aid for those suffering, addicted, trapped. In summary, holding love as the highest ethic for life.

Finally, one more word I would use is probably gospel. This Greek word, εὐαγγέλιον, is a word that was used when Roman (and Greek before) armies would win a battle, or a new ruler was appointed. In this sense, Christians believe that Jesus' death and resurrection was an announcement of His rulership of the world, a rulership He has always had, and that this rulership benefits all people. The gospel is the announcement that we have been found, that the home we've been searching for was Christ the entire time, that there is enough room at the table for all people, that God has healed a relational rift humans put between Him and us. To use the Apostle Paul's words from his letter to the Corinthians, that God was,

quote:
"reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them." - 2 Cor 5:18

And so, really, Phat, my view of Christianity is pretty much simply that. Haha. Christians are those that believe the story of the risen Christ, live in the way of the risen Christ, and announce the good news (gospel) of the risen Christ.

2. THOUGHTS ON HUMANISM & SECULARISM

If we were in person, or on the phone I would probably ask you to clarify this one for me. Haha. I would probably say "...say more." There are many ways to approach this question. I am unsure whether or not you want my "academic analysis" or honest feelings. But, since we do not have that luxury here, I'll go with a mix of both and probably ramble a little bit .

I find both Humanism and Secularism pretty fascinating, in different ways. I have friends in both camps. While I do not consider myself to be a scholar in any way in these fields, I can give my personal thoughts and feelings if you'd like.

Addressing Humanism,

If you were to ask me for a definition, I'd probably talk about the belief in human agency, progression, and autonomy. Even deeper, the belief that the human is the starting point for any serious philosophical or moral discussion. In response to these things, I both see the value of parts of these beliefs, and oppose other parts. This is pretty much the way I see many things, haha. I think humanism was a critical part of human intellectual history. Case and point, Petrarch (1304-1374) coming along as the first philosopher to call the dark ages "dark" was a really important part of us recognizing the abuse and oppression the Roman Catholic church perpetuated for those years. What's more, we mostly have the humanist movement during the renaissance to thank for the study of the humanities in higher education at all. All this to say, I tend to see movements, even those that fundamentally differ from my own for the value they offer us, and try and approach all perspectives with a degree of openness as a learner.

In a more personal sense, I find humanism and those who would claim to be humanists interesting, and seek to learn from them. I mainly see it as a helpful view but also an optimistic one, in light of all the terrible things humans seem capable of. I do not know if we can forge our own destiny in a positive direction without an outside force. The amount of human blood we shed, the systems of oppression and violence that never seem to get solved, moments like the Holocaust, Rwandan Genocide and Stalin's Reign of Terror come to mind. These are things all people can find reason to hate. Non-religious humans rights atrocities abound just as often as religious ones do. We seem to be becoming more tribalized in 2021, more polarized, and more radicalized. It seems to me, no matter how much progress we achieve, the human heart is still sick and in need of transformation. Love seems like a more realistic and frankly, better ideal. Anyway. These are my thoughts haha.

Addressing Secularism,

If you were to ask me for a definition, I'd probably talk about the idea that humans ought to think about the world and conduct common life around only non-religious, naturalist considerations. I see this view in a pretty similar way to humanism. There are parts I think are pretty valuable, and others I think are optimistic and even dishonest. But I am also one to see dishonest and optimistic views in mainstream fundamentalist Christianity as well .

On the valuable side, I think countries like the United States (where I live) benefit greatly from a secular approach to government, and the separation of church and state. Any Christian who knows history knows that the merging of Christianity with political power is the short road to all sorts of oppression for other people. Jesus did not seek political clout but rather abdicated it because His kingdom was about giving up power as a servant, rather than amassing it. Case and point, Trump-ian Evangelicalism. His brand of American Political Religion, and the figures who surround him (Franklin Graham looking at you), is exactly what happens when Christianity sells itself out for power and I fundamentally oppose everything about it.

All the above to say, I really value secular thinking that has safeguarded our country from becoming a religious abomination, and support all efforts to keep church and state separate (this is an Adventist value, as well ). I don't believe government should mandate Christian-centric views on its citizens, like prohibiting the marriage of LGBT+ folks (something not even conclusive or representative among Christians), banning abortion, or forcing prayer in schools. I thank the secularists for this, dearly, and stand with them in their opposition of state religion.

On the optimistic/dishonest side, really where I see this is on the ethical plane. Take George Holyoake's 1896 publication English Secularism, for example.

quote:
Secularism is a code of duty pertaining to this life, founded on considerations purely human, and intended mainly for those who find theology indefinite or inadequate, unreliable or unbelievable. Its essential principles are three: (1) The improvement of this life by material means. (2) That science is the available Providence of man. (3) That it is good to do good. Whether there be other good or not, the good of the present life is good, and it is good to seek that good

While secularism has evolved a great deal since 1986 lol, many secular folks who I speak to still retain these views for the most part. The first two of Holyoake's points notwithstanding, I find the third to be pretty optimistic and a bit dishonest. My questions for Holyoake would be

- Do humans naturally only yearn for material-based improvement? What objective source told you this?
- Since nobody is actually objective, how do we determine what is good to pursue or even what "good" means?
- From which only naturalistic principles do we discern that it is good to do good?
- Aren't you simply borrowing from a theistic moral framework and detaching theism from it?
- Are things in the world unjust? How do you know?
- If so, why ought we pursue justice when naturalism suggests it is beneficial (at the least, normal for the species to weed out weak members?

He clarifies that whether or not "good" exists, the good of the present life is good, and therefore it is good to seek that good. But how can he say this without first distinguishing how he can even discern what "good" is or means? haha.

I pose these questions to him to demonstrate my feelings; I think when it comes to ethics, the secularist is often (not always) a theist in disguise. Many who I speak to (and love as friends) care deeply about the modern human sex trafficking epidemic, or female circumcision, or LGBT+ rights, but at the core of secularism there is no real reason to. We might be able to observe some things as in general, negative or positive for the human race, but to claim that we ought to take action to rectify injustice in the world requires for things to be objectively unjust.

Anyway, I rambled. I have many secular friends, I hang with them often because I love them and believe the God of the scriptures cares about justice for the oppressed far more and far earlier in history than they did, and is inviting us to partner with Him in his plan to restore the world.

Gonna pause here, and do a second post for the other questions!

All love,
- Raph

Edited by Raphael, : cleanup baby

Edited by Raphael, : one more


This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by Phat, posted 05-31-2021 5:01 PM Phat has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by Phat, posted 06-04-2021 1:16 PM Raphael has responded

  
Raphael
Member
Posts: 171
From: Southern California, United States
Joined: 09-29-2007


Message 5 of 16 (886705)
05-31-2021 10:06 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by Phat
05-31-2021 5:01 PM


Roots & Pictures
Part 2!

Phat writes:

...and finally how you are anchored to your tribal roots and what it means for you in a Big Picture context within this life we all lead.

In this second post we will cover questions #2 and form some conclusions.

OUTLINE

3. Tribal Anchors

4. The Big Picture (Some Personal Conclusions)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

3. TRIBAL ANCHORS

This is a good question! As I mentioned at the start, I find myself to be a stranger/outsider within my own denomination at times. For this reason I do not think I am a good example of what a classical more fundamentalist or conservative Adventist might say to this question. At the risk of quoting myself (but I'll do it anyway ) Adventism is an example of a faith family with a lot of hermeneutical diversity and an absolutely massive range of interpretation amongst "normal people believers" (my term for non-pastors/theologians ). You will find Adventists that believe drinking coffee/alcohol, eating meat, and wearing jewelry are sins punishable by hell in some places in the world. Among the more conservative places such as these are many other interesting beliefs. Some believe we can hasten the return of Christ by perfectionism (perfect moral behavior), others that only Saturday-Sabbath keepers will be saved, and still others believe they are a "Remnant" of faithful Christians, the only ones who will be saved. And you will find others that do not believe any of these things, and eat bacon, drink alcohol, and welcome LGBT+ folks to their churches. All that to say, there is a large range, and while I definitely find myself on the far left in most things, in others I do not know that I identify with the mainstream Adventist position at all in any way. In some things I am the loudest critique of my own tribe's theology and interpretive work. In this sense I find myself with my own faith feeling similar things that I feel about all others; It has some really valuable things to share with the Christian movement and world, but also some pretty wack, toxic things as well .

Anyway, all that said, here below are a few things that I do see as "tribal anchors," things from my faith family I find valuable and believe.

- Sola, Tota, Prima Scriptura

Deep in the Adventist perspective is a hunger and commitment to the scriptures. As Tangle briefly mentioned in the other thread, the Adventist movement was born out of The Millerite Movement and The Great Disappointment in 1844. After this disappointment, the Millerite movement large dissipated, as you would assume. Many of those who did not leave, however, some of whom would later become Adventist founders, returned to the text, and spent a long time trying to understand what they got wrong. This came with a renewed sense in Martin Luther's sola scriptura, the belief that scripture alone - not tradition or the church - is able to disseminate truth with any authority.

Over the years, this evolved to the more expanded phrase; sola, tota, and prima scriptura. What this means to us is a commitment to believing the Bible alone, (sola), all parts of the Bible (tota) and the bible above all other forms of divine revelation (prima). So, in this sense, we see ourselves as incredibly protestant, in a long line of Christians (Like Martin Luther, or the Anabaptists, to name a couple) who dissented from the mainstream Church to follow the text, no matter the cost.

Personally, I see this view as an "anchor" that ties me to my tribe. What this means for me is, while I find tradition extremely interesting and enjoy learning the traditions of other Christians, I hold the text over tradition or the Church authority (even my own) as the guide for what Christianity should be. I find a certain level of "punk-rock" spirit about this (Fun fact, I have been in a number of punk/metal bands, so that's probably why it appeals to me haha.). The question I want to ask it not "what is our tradition? Or, what does the church authority say? Or, "what has the church taught for hundreds of years?" But, rather, "what does the text itself actually say? And then do/believe those things.

YOU ARE A SOUL, AND THE SHABBAT

This second "anchor" connects us nicely to the first. In, then, the spirit of sola, tota, and prima scriptura, I have found two unique (though not as unique anymore!) Adventist views to be really life-giving and true to the text. The first is the concept that you are a soul. The second is the belief and practice of the Seventh-day Shabbat.

- You Are A Soul

To keep this short, I'll try to be as succinct as possible (yeah right, Raph! ) Essentially, this is the belief that rather than having a soul, some sort of ethereal, spiritual thing somewhere in your essence, humans are a soul. We believe this because, well, it's what the ancient Hebrews believed. The Hebrew word for "soul," נֶ֫פֶשׁ‎ (nephesh) literally means "neck, life." The ancient Hebrew mind was not dualistic, it was wholistic. This means they viewed the idea of "soul" as a unification of all life, rather than some separate part of you. The idea of a soul separate from the body was a Platonic view that merged with Christianity in the centuries after the death of Christ; it is not actually a Christian or Hebrew idea. Anyway, this is one view that I also see as an "anchor" of sorts in my faith journey. It also has absolutely massive ramifications when it comes to the ideas of hell, eternal punishment, and the character of God, which I discuss below.

- The Shabbat

The Shabbat, or how we would say, "Sabbath" in english, is another thing I would consider an anchor. Essentially this is the idea that the seventh-day Sabbath is an timeless principle about the way the earth works (at least for now.), and a resource for human flourishing. We believe the Sabbath was given at creation and written into the way the world works; humans need rest. In practicing this, Adventists (mostly) abstain from work on Saturdays (just like Jews), and try and extend that rest to those in our families, we employ, and all others. We do this to fight the power production holds over all people in the world. We take the Hebrew view that humans are more than only producers; we are whole beings, in need of time for rest (נֶ֫פֶשׁ‎ ) and shalom/peace (נֶ֫פֶשׁ‎). I find this belief to be extremely life-giving in my life personally, and so it is also something from my tribe I find as an anchor to hold on to.

THE CHARACTER OF GOD

All these views sort of coalesce into the final one. We believe when we actually take the time to listen to the text, we learn a great deal about who YHWH, the God of the scriptures is, what His character is like.

From the truth that we are a soul, rather than having one, we learn some pretty significant things. We learn that God created humans as whole beings, not dualistic or split into parts. We learn that since there is no "spiritual soul," there can therefore not be a place called "hell." Adventists do not believe hell exists, and we also reject the idea that God burns people for all of eternity. How could such a thing be possible, when an immortal soul doesn't exist? To explain this one would take a great deal more time haha but that's the cliff notes version.

This view in particular is pretty fringe within Christianity, but it has massive ramifications about who God is. We see from the text that the God of the scriptures does not need to keep humans alive, burning them forever to achieve justice. We see this view as one of the greatest deceptions/corruptions of actual Hebrew thought in the history of Christianity. Nowhere does the Bible teach this, Jesus did not teach this.

From the truth of the Sabbath, we see that God values his creation. We see that He has written into the earth a pattern of rest that doesn't change, and is beneficial for us. I could spend a lot of time here, but throughout the Torah we also see God extend this vision of rest to animals, criminals, those who have debt, and even nature and the land itself. The land must rest.

Anyway, there's a lot more I could say, haha, but those are definitely some anchors I retain and value from my faith tribe.

4. THE BIG PICTURE (PERSONAL CONCLUSIONS).

In conclusion to this all, I am really grateful to have come from the Adventist perspective and tribe. There was a long time in my life where I not only did not identify as an Adventist, but actively was really angry at it and opposed almost everything about it. There are parts of our faith family and certain history that has been really damaging to people. However, in more recent years I have sort of "settled into" my own faith tradition and been able to call the good for what it is, and the bad for what it is.

I grew up in a really conservative, borderline fundamentalist home and community that did not leave room for a lot of the questions I naturally had. I have always been a very skeptical, dare I say naturally cynical person, with a lot of questions and easily seeing through (excuse the language) religious bullshit. But over the years I sought out places to ask those questions, to be challenged and formed my own opinions. EvC was one of those places all those years ago that was crucial for my development in this way.

While I grew up feeling arrogant and was taught we had all the answers, in my adult life I have been able to learn how little I know. I was taught that my faith was correct, while others were wrong. Nowadays I try and live as if I were the one who does not have all the answers. I am far more interested in listening to the stories of others these days, than providing answers. Even if I disagree, I'm not really as interested in dying on every hill or convincing everyone about my views. I've learned to have an openness about being totally wrong about everything, and resting in that openness, that strange mystery that none of us really know anything.

All throughout, I cling to the story that cannot be proven, the story you and I will be called lunatics for believing. I cling to the cross of Christ because it saved my life (literally). I cling to the cross of Christ because if Christ is risen, nothing else matters more, and darkness has been defeated. I cling to the cross of Christ because the stakes are too high.

All love,
- Raph

Edited by Raphael, : cleanup baby


This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by Phat, posted 05-31-2021 5:01 PM Phat has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 6 by Phat, posted 06-01-2021 1:18 AM Raphael has not yet responded

  
Phat
Inactive Member


Message 6 of 16 (886707)
06-01-2021 1:18 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Raphael
05-31-2021 10:06 PM


Re: Roots & Pictures
There are many worse ways that we could feed our internet addictions apart from this conversation, but I am optimistic that my attempts at communion via blogging and debating/discussing will eventually produce some fruit.
FYI, Tangle mentioned you as my "new guru" and inferred that I was being obsequious towards you. I do respect you and how far you have come since High School, but let the record show that I am in no way obsequious nor worshipful towards Raphael and consider him a brother in Christ and nothing more. Tangle has some rather odd view of me based on my conversations with Pastor ICANT in this thread: Message 1

He is in his eighties and is quite conservative. You being more liberal will provide a nice contrast, hopefully.

Edited by Phat, : No reason given.

Edited by Phat, : tidied it up


"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." ~Mark Twain "
***
“…far from science having buried God, not only do the results of science point towards his existence, but the scientific enterprise itself is validated by his existence.”- Dr.John Lennox

“The whole war between the atheist and the theist comes down to this: the atheist believes a 'what' created the universe; the theist believes a 'who' created the universe.”
- Criss Jami, Killo

“The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him.” — Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God is Within You
(1894).


This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by Raphael, posted 05-31-2021 10:06 PM Raphael has not yet responded

  
Phat
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 7 of 16 (886748)
06-04-2021 1:16 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Raphael
05-31-2021 8:04 PM


Re: Opening Statements

Here we go! EvC can be an addiction, but I consider it as therapeutic, also. A shoutout to Percy for providing such a platform for evolving versus creative discussions! Seriously...thanks, Percy.

So let me follow your outline, Raph.

1. STORY, WAY, GOSPEL (Phats Response)
I like how you broke it down, and agree with this statement:

Raphael writes:

Christians are those that believe a story. We believe the story of the middle-eastern man, Jesus (ישוע‎ ), a man who taught many things, a wise man. A man who claimed Oneness with the Divine. A man who was betrayed, tried in a corrupt trial, and executed by the Roman government around 33 AD. And a man who defied death, verifying all the things he said about himself.

I grew up in a "Leave It To Beaver" suburb in a house that my father built. He was a homebuilder by trade, having come out of the US Navy, (Japanese theatre, from a Destroyer Escort), and before that he grew up poor in rural Missouri. He and Mom married and came west. Settling in Denver, they raised my sister(b 1950) and myself (b 1959), and through Dads hard work was able to send her to college and me to a private High School. Growing up, I attended a Methodist Church and found it to be basically a social club for my parents and their friends of similar economic status celebrating Gods providence over America (since WWII) and showing each other the fruits of their labor (namely us kids and the car they drove as symbols of being in the club of prosperity. A God-Given right, mind you.

Nothing stood out about God to me. I saw Him as the cartoons see him. A bearded old man in the sky.


As for Jesus, we were taught the basic schpiel.

dwise1 and you had a series of enlightening conversations recently. I've grown to like and respect dwise1, and his stories and analogies add to the richness and depth of our debates and discussions here at EvC.

dwise1 responding to Raphael writes:

From what I have seen of fellow atheists (and looking within myself ... which is all too often the basic defense used to theists to support their position), the mere existence of any god is immaterial. Rather, most atheists and (most especially) anti-theists concern themselves far more with the religions that have been created and built up around those gods. Whether any of those gods actually exist is moot or otherwise immaterial (as per the necessity of agnosticism, a god could exist but bear no resemblance to the god of those religions and definitely have no bearing on those religions ... though I doubt that many atheists have thought that one through yet), but rather the problems are with the religions centered on those gods.

So then, most of the discussion and statements we see from the atheists deal much more with the religions and the detrimental effects that they can have and have had on individual members and on society. "God" has almost nothing to do with it.

In stark contrast, Christians tend to fixate solely on the very question of the existence of their god and never go anywhere close to their religion or theology.

Most encounters atheists have with theists are in terms of (often hostile) "challenges" to our atheism put in terms of "WHY DON'T YOU BELIEVE IN GOD, YOU (vitriolic pejorative term -- let your imagination run wild here and it will still fall completely short from what I've heard/read over so many decades?)?" Not "Why are you raising those questions and objections to the operations of Christianity?", but rather it's always only about their god.

Almost every time we try to talk with Christians, they never want to talk about anything interesting. Instead, they keep harping on nonsense like "Why do you hate God so much?" or "You keep fighting so hard against God; just surrender to His Love for you!" or "Your belief that God does not exist is just that, a belief that requires as much faith as our own belief in God and is far more arrogant than our faith is!" (basically, the argument that I recall you having started off with). Or "You are only pretending that God doesn't exist so that you can sin without guilt!" -- that one usually from Christians who want to use that legalistic loophole in their own impoverished concepts of morality or had used that loophole themselves (eg, local YEC activist whose autobiography describes him doing exactly that so now he insists that "having been an atheist himself" (demonstrably false, by his own admission, but then he has always been an outrageous liar) he "knows full well" that atheists just want to get away with sinning and escaping responsibility for their actions).

Keeping in mind the caution about actual mileage: But none of that has anything to do with what atheists actually think. All of it just comes across as yet more ignorant nonsense. This is made all the worse by those same steadfast Christians' refusal to even listen to our corrections and explanations, which makes them willfully ignorant.

Generally, when atheists reject Christianity, it is Christianity itself, the religion itself, and the adverse effects it has on individuals and on society (especially when religions gain political and police powers). When atheists get together and talk with each other, what do you think we discuss? Do you think we just sit around and share how much we do not believe in the gods? Of course not, that would be so boring and useless! Instead, we discuss a wide range of topics, including science, politics, current events, and popular culture. Regarding religion, the discussion is mainly about religion's attempts to interfere with politics and with our rights, or which COVID-denier pastors of large churches have most recently died of COVID (we can never get too much irony in our diet). We might examine the doctrine or history of particular religions. As for as the gods go, we might discuss the mythology of the various gods, including where and how they most likely got borrowed from other cultures' gods (very few of the gods were ever created ex nihilo, but rather were borrowings and/or amalgamations of other gods).

So why do theists misunderstand atheists so much? Asking them directly hasn't seemed to work, so we have to try to analyze our observations. First, there's what they are taught about atheists, which they're never clear on. I suspect that a lot of what they are taught about atheists comes from their doctrine. For example, if their doctrine teaches that everybody believes that God exists, but many are wilfully defiant, so that is what they think that atheists are doing. If their doctrine teaches that morality is based on being personally responsible to God, then they assume that atheists are trying to avoid personal responsible since without God there's nobody to be answerable to (how wrong that is!).

And then there's that fascination with the existence of "God". I think that they are projecting that onto us. That their god's existence is very important to them and they give that far more thought and attention than they do to their religion and doctrine. For them, their god is all-important and the religion part basically just comes along for the ride.

Beautiful! He is right, you know. I have spent a lot of my time defending GOD and Jesus as I understand Him. (I'm a Trinitarian, by and large. So far, anyway. It makes basic sense to me.)

So getting back to my story.

I never became self-aware of being a "believer" until I got saved at age 34.(give or take...I think I was 34) There was an internal catharsis...a heightened awareness of the possibility that God was alive and actually came into my soul as a Spirit and related to me. I can elaborate on that if you want. It might be an entertaining part of our dialogue...but keep in mind that here at EvC I am an egoist and all topics revolve around Phat. Please pray for that character flaw! More later.

Edited by Phat, : added GD topic warning


"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." ~Mark Twain "
***
“…far from science having buried God, not only do the results of science point towards his existence, but the scientific enterprise itself is validated by his existence.”- Dr.John Lennox

“The whole war between the atheist and the theist comes down to this: the atheist believes a 'what' created the universe; the theist believes a 'who' created the universe.”
- Criss Jami, Killo

“The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him.” — Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God is Within You
(1894).


This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by Raphael, posted 05-31-2021 8:04 PM Raphael has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by Raphael, posted 06-07-2021 9:42 PM Phat has responded

  
Raphael
Member
Posts: 171
From: Southern California, United States
Joined: 09-29-2007


Message 8 of 16 (886791)
06-07-2021 9:42 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Phat
06-04-2021 1:16 PM


Re: Opening Statements
There are many worse ways that we could feed our internet addictions apart from this conversation, but I am optimistic that my attempts at communion via blogging and debating/discussing will eventually produce some fruit.

Haha, true! Many of my "real life" friends think it is hilarious I debate/discuss on a forum like this I just say, hey, there are so many other worse things I could be doing on the internet lol.

FYI, Tangle mentioned you as my "new guru" and inferred that I was being obsequious towards you. I do respect you and how far you have come since High School, but let the record show that I am in no way obsequious nor worshipful towards Raphael and consider him a brother in Christ

Haha. That is funny he would perceive such. I do not know quite what to say, except to say, honestly, I don't really think of myself as someone who "has answers" to things lol. It is easy to project an image of yourself on the internet that you "know things" or are superior to other people. I have accused others here of intellectual arrogance, but I have probably done the same. We all probably fall prey to this at some level..it is fun to type smart sounding things! But in the real world...im nobody special haha. I'm fairly certain I have been the youngest member of EvC since I joined and I still have a lot to learn!

~~~~~~

Great to hear your personal story btw, thanks for sharing man! Sounds to me like you had a really similar experience to many Christians growing up around that similar time. Though I am a youngster so that could be just a guess haha.

Growing up, I attended a Methodist Church and found it to be basically a social club for my parents and their friends of similar economic status celebrating Gods providence over America (since WWII) and showing each other the fruits of their labor (namely us kids and the car they drove as symbols of being in the club of prosperity. A God-Given right, mind you.

This is definitely familiar...I have seen (and participated in) many churches like this. Been there haha!

Nothing stood out about God to me. I saw Him as the cartoons see him. A bearded old man in the sky.

Haha. I think a lot of people see Him that way! I mean it makes sense, when that is the common portrayal pretty much everywhere in the West.

Beautiful! He is right, you know. I have spent a lot of my time defending GOD and Jesus as I understand Him. (I'm a Trinitarian, by and large. So far, anyway. It makes basic sense to me.)

I also enjoyed reading dwise1's responses, and really appreciated his perspective. I did not respond with this, but after reading I mused to myself that perhaps it makes sense that an atheist who grew up in the faith (such as myself) would become an atheist for different reasons than an atheist who did not. At any rate, I really appreciated him breaking down on a nuanced level his thoughts on atheism. Though I was an atheist for awhile, I havent been so for almost a decade now haha, so I am definitely disconnected from it.

I never became self-aware of being a "believer" until I got saved at age 34.(give or take...I think I was 34) There was an internal catharsis...a heightened awareness of the possibility that God was alive and actually came into my soul as a Spirit and related to me. I can elaborate on that if you want

Yes for sure feel free to elaborate! I definitely resonate with your spiritual experience. It is a hard thing to explain, but your words are relatable! The sense that the divine is near without prompting and you are fully seen and valued. Appreciate you sharing this.

- Raph


This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by Phat, posted 06-04-2021 1:16 PM Phat has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 9 by Phat, posted 06-08-2021 9:34 AM Raphael has responded

  
Phat
Inactive Member


Message 9 of 16 (886792)
06-08-2021 9:34 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by Raphael
06-07-2021 9:42 PM


Re: Opening Statements

Raphael writes:

I don't really think of myself as someone who "has answers" to things lol. It is easy to project an image of yourself on the internet that you "know things" or are superior to other people. I have accused others here of intellectual arrogance, but I have probably done the same. We all probably fall prey to this at some level..it is fun to type smart-sounding things! But in the real world...I'm nobody special haha. I'm fairly certain I have been the youngest member of EvC since I joined and I still have a lot to learn!

I was unknowingly quite arrogant once I got saved. It is said that the basic characteristics of individuals within a growing church body mirror that of their Pastor/Leader. We (the saved bunch) had a charismatic leader in Paul Schell. Our church imagined itself as just a bit more enlightened than the average church of the evangelical garden variety. We cast out demons. We spoke in tongues. They were still stuck back with Kenneth Copeland....trying to claim a prosperity Gospel while *we* knew that the world was about to end and that we would be the great end time army of the remnant left after the Rapture.

It was in this attitude that I first came to EvC in 2003. I knew I was saved, I knew about demons, and I was itching for a fight. Which is when I ran into jar. And so began a series of debates in which I was challenged and my beliefs torn to pieces. It has been annoying, even frustrating, and the evidence shows that I have changed little in the past 17+ years at this Forum. The archives speak for themselves.

I will say, however, that I have met some very interesting people here at EvC Forum. But let's continue with your outlined format, shall we?

Raphaels Outline writes:

Here's an outline:

1. Perception of Christianity: Story, Way, Gospel

2. Thoughts on Humanism & Secularism

3. Tribal Anchors

4. The Big Picture (Some Personal Conclusions)

1. STORY, WAY, GOSPEL (Phats Response, continued) I began to volunteer at the State Youth Detention Centers around 1995 all the way up through 2010 or so. I was under the ministry of Denver Area Youth For Christ, and had several wonderful mentors within that organization. I've got some stories from that timeframe that would make you cry. As a youth-oriented Pastor in training, I'm sure that you could entertain us with stories of your own, Raphael...and as this topic unwinds, perhaps we both will have an opportunity to share.

Denver YFC had a way of teaching us Three Story Evangelism. The basic premise was to share your own story, LISTEN as the youth shared THEIR story, and concluded by tying in the Story of Jesus Christ and His redemptive mission and invitation to meet Him.

YFC Leadership Development writes:

3Story® is about relationships. It is a way of seeing how the relationships we have with other people and with God can connect and grow. When we abide in Jesus every relationship is impacted.

3Story® is not an evangelism tool or method; it is who we want to be and how we want to live. In YFC, 3Story® is our living operating system, it is our DNA. Knowing that if we seek to abide deeply with Jesus every day and stay saturated in His word, we will be ready and aware of the opportunities He gives us in a lost world. We focus on being with Jesus. All of our doing flows from our being with Jesus.

It seemed to work, as long as I put in my pew time and prayer time. To this day I believe that God works best through willing vessels.

I used to teach that there were three levels.
1) Knowing About God. (Quite Generic. God could be the wind, the still small voice, or the presence of the force, aka Star Wars.)
2) Meeting God. (The salvation "Born Again" experience. Billy Graham's basic invitation.)
3) A day-to-day relationship with the Lord. Which is basically where I am at now...though some days I forget about my duties and go off on a rant about entitlement or fairness, or apologetics. I am a rebel at heart, though I likely would never throw God away, as has been suggested by critical thinkers here at the forums who want me to break out of my preconceived and ill-taught notions.

*pauses and takes a sip of tea*

Edited by Phat, : fixed quotes

Edited by Phat, : No reason given.


"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." ~Mark Twain "
***
“…far from science having buried God, not only do the results of science point towards his existence, but the scientific enterprise itself is validated by his existence.”- Dr.John Lennox

“The whole war between the atheist and the theist comes down to this: the atheist believes a 'what' created the universe; the theist believes a 'who' created the universe.”
- Criss Jami, Killo

“The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him.” — Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God is Within You
(1894).


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by Raphael, posted 06-07-2021 9:42 PM Raphael has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 11 by Raphael, posted 06-14-2021 8:57 PM Phat has acknowledged this reply

  
Phat
Inactive Member


Message 10 of 16 (886858)
06-13-2021 3:38 AM


Perception of Christianity: Story, Way, Gospel

My chief critic and teacher-at-large, jar from deep south Texas, always challenged me on how I knew that the Holy Spirit was God, or how I knew that a particular theme of my professed beliefs was of God or was God speaking. Jar always claimed to be a believer,(Episcopalian since middle school) but pointed out that there was no objective evidence for any of the claims made. He had some unique perspectives on scripture that I had rarely heard elsewhere. One example is the idea that "the God" lied and the snake(serpent) told the truth. No apologist nor teacher had ever taught me that before, and to this day I am uncomfortable with it.

Ringo takes it a step further. He basically believes that the message is more important than the messenger, even if the messenger was (and is) Jesus Christ. If I try and challenge him, he will point out that I don't even do what Jesus told me I should do. He uses only what is written to speak on behalf of Jesus, however. I'm not sure what to do with his arguments. But it's 135 am and I simply must get some sleep. I hope you respond before too long, or i will end up with a monologue rather than a dialogue.

Edited by Phat, : spell-o-rama


"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." ~Mark Twain "
***
“…far from science having buried God, not only do the results of science point towards his existence, but the scientific enterprise itself is validated by his existence.”- Dr.John Lennox

“The whole war between the atheist and the theist comes down to this: the atheist believes a 'what' created the universe; the theist believes a 'who' created the universe.”
- Criss Jami, Killo

“The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him.” — Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God is Within You
(1894).


Replies to this message:
 Message 12 by Raphael, posted 06-14-2021 9:23 PM Phat has responded

  
Raphael
Member
Posts: 171
From: Southern California, United States
Joined: 09-29-2007


Message 11 of 16 (886890)
06-14-2021 8:57 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by Phat
06-08-2021 9:34 AM


Re: Opening Statements
I was unknowingly quite arrogant once I got saved. It is said that the basic characteristics of individuals within a growing church body mirror that of their Pastor/Leader.

That makes sense! I feel like this is definitely common, even more so for those of us who grew up in it. Its easy to be arrogant when you are told (and feel as if) you have the "Truth" that others do not have. It was the same for me on my spiritual journey. The irony is, letting go of that belief has been such a gift in my life. Admitting I don't have all the answers....and growing a curiosity for the beliefs of others has benefited me greatly, just as it sounds like it has for you!

I've got some stories from that timeframe that would make you cry. As a youth-oriented Pastor in training, I'm sure that you could entertain us with stories of your own

I'm sure! Sounds like you were a part of something really meaningful man. Working with young people has been some of the most heart wrenching, beautiful stuff of my life as a minister and person. I definitely also have stories that could be shared...

Not to go fully into everything, but I recently got a tattoo to remember one young girl who was killed in a horrible head on collision years ago. Her friends were drinking and driving. She was only 14...

Denver YFC had a way of teaching us Three Story Evangelism.

I'm familiar with Three Story! Not personally my approach but I can see how it is effective!

I used to teach that there were three levels.
1) Knowing About God. (Quite Generic. God could be the wind, the still small voice, or the presence of the force, aka Star Wars.)
2) Meeting God. (The salvation "Born Again" experience. Billy Graham's basic invitation.)
3) A day-to-day relationship with the Lord. Which is basically where I am at now...though some days I forget about my duties and go off on a rant about entitlement or fairness, or apologetics.

I like it man! The whole thing is a journey we are on....none of us are perfect and I am grateful we don't have to be! Thank God He calls us family and found.

Raph


This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by Phat, posted 06-08-2021 9:34 AM Phat has acknowledged this reply

  
Raphael
Member
Posts: 171
From: Southern California, United States
Joined: 09-29-2007


(1)
Message 12 of 16 (886891)
06-14-2021 9:23 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Phat
06-13-2021 3:38 AM


Re: Perception of Christianity: Story, Way, Gospel
My chief critic and teacher-at-large, jar from deep south Texas, always challenged me on how I knew that the Holy Spirit was God, or how I knew that a particular theme of my professed beliefs was of God or was God speaking. Jar always claimed to be a believer,(Episcopalian since middle school) but pointed out that there was no objective evidence for any of the claims made. He had some unique perspectives on scripture that I had rarely heard elsewhere. One example is the idea that "the God" lied and the snake(serpent) told the truth. No apologist nor teacher had ever taught me that before, and to this day I am uncomfortable with it.

Jar is good at making those challenging arguments haha. I felt the same way back in the high school days when I originally came to EvC, met him and ringo and debated with them. And that definitely is an uncomfortable idea! I think its definitely crucial to consider challenging ideas like that one. Asking the hard questions, even ones that could potentially ruin my whole faith has been a really valuable part of getting to where I'm at these days.

Ringo takes it a step further. He basically believes that the message is more important than the messenger, even if the messenger was (and is) Jesus Christ.

I can see it from that perspective. Because, really, its the idea of loving enemies, or the metaphor of resurrection that can be really valuable for humanity. We don't even really need a "real" person to have resurrected for the concept of resurrection/transformation/metamorphosis to be valuable to us.

To me, though, I see it from the opposite direction. If Jesus wasn't who He said He was, then, in the words of the Apostle Paul, we are to be pitied above all others for being deluded all this time. In that case, it wouldn't matter at all if someone real named Jesus existed or even said the things we attribute to him, simply the ideas would suffice.

But, on the other hand, if He was what He said He was, if Jesus was God, and conquered death, and now commands all authority in the universe and is worthy of all honor and glory then really, it's the only thing that actually matters at all in all of human history. Everything else is secondary. And its such good news, because Jesus wants my (and your, and everyones!) joy and flourishing more than even I want those things for me. If He is God, then that is the only logical direction to go, anything else would be insanity, searching dry cisterns for water that will never satisfy.

If I try and challenge him, he will point out that I don't even do what Jesus told me I should do. He uses only what is written to speak on behalf of Jesus, however. I'm not sure what to do with his arguments. But it's 135 am and I simply must get some sleep. I hope you respond before too long, or i will end up with a monologue rather than a dialogue

I think I've seen ringo say this before, . I would probably need a specific example to talk about it, but Biblically it makes sense that we have a hard time following Jesus. It's hard! Our hearts are sick with sin! To actually get to the point where we want and desire what Jesus wants for us takes a lifetime of discipleship in my view.

- Raph

Edited by Raphael, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by Phat, posted 06-13-2021 3:38 AM Phat has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 13 by Phat, posted 06-17-2021 8:04 AM Raphael has responded

  
Phat
Inactive Member


Message 13 of 16 (886902)
06-17-2021 8:04 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by Raphael
06-14-2021 9:23 PM


Re: Perception of Christianity: Personal Notes

Raphael writes:

if Jesus was God, and conquered death, and now commands all authority in the universe and is worthy of all honor and glory then really, it's the only thing that actually matters at all in all of human history. Everything else is secondary. And its such good news, because Jesus wants my (and your, and everyone's!) joy and flourishing more than even I want those things for me. If He is God, then that is the only logical direction to go, anything else would be insanity, searching dry cisterns for water that will never satisfy.

You may note that nearly every secular humanist/atheist/unitarian at this Forum is in the agreement of the sanctity of "the message", the irrelevance of whether Jesus ever actually existed, and the argument that I am a hypocrite for not giving "it all" away!

First of all, Pastor how dare they? They don't even believe that Jesus is/was ever real and yet they call me out on my (human-centric) hypocrasy? I would like to hear your honest take on it all.

Edited by Phat, : No reason given.


"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." ~Mark Twain "
***
“…far from science having buried God, not only do the results of science point towards his existence, but the scientific enterprise itself is validated by his existence.”- Dr.John Lennox

“The whole war between the atheist and the theist comes down to this: the atheist believes a 'what' created the universe; the theist believes a 'who' created the universe.”
- Criss Jami, Killo

“The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him.” — Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God is Within You
(1894).


This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by Raphael, posted 06-14-2021 9:23 PM Raphael has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 14 by Raphael, posted 06-21-2021 6:36 PM Phat has responded

  
Raphael
Member
Posts: 171
From: Southern California, United States
Joined: 09-29-2007


Message 14 of 16 (886962)
06-21-2021 6:36 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by Phat
06-17-2021 8:04 AM


Re: Perception of Christianity: Personal Notes
You may note that nearly every secular humanist/atheist/unitarian at this Forum is in the agreement of the sanctity of "the message", the irrelevance of whether Jesus ever actually existed, and the argument that I am a hypocrite for not giving "it all" away!

Haha that is true, they do all seem to be in agreement there. The hypocrite part is interesting though!

First of all, Pastor how dare they? They don't even believe that Jesus is/was ever real and yet they call me out on my (human-centric) hypocrisy? I would like to hear your honest take on it all.

That is pretty interesting. I think I would need a little more context...what do you mean they "call you out on your human-centric hypocrisy?" Do you mean they say you are a hypocrite for now following their perceived teachings of Jesus? Or am I off base?

- Raph


This message is a reply to:
 Message 13 by Phat, posted 06-17-2021 8:04 AM Phat has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 15 by Phat, posted 06-28-2021 8:24 AM Raphael has not yet responded

  
Phat
Inactive Member


Message 15 of 16 (887011)
06-28-2021 8:24 AM
Reply to: Message 14 by Raphael
06-21-2021 6:36 PM


Re: Perception of Christianity: Personal Notes

Raphael writes:

I think I would need a little more context...what do you mean they "call you out on your human-centric hypocrisy?" Do you mean they say you are a hypocrite for not following their perceived teachings of Jesus? Or am I off base?

No sir you are spot on! Hey, they are right...but let he who is without sin among you throw that first rock! But of course, they have humanized the message and dismissed the authority behind it. I, on the other hand, do not fully listen to Jesus(the authority behind the message) and am honest about it yet uncomfortable at the same time. In my defense, I feel as if I am a work in progress. Now if only He agrees with my self-assessment, we still have a ball game!

Edited by Phat, : added Closed Topic Announcement


"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." ~Mark Twain "
***
“…far from science having buried God, not only do the results of science point towards his existence, but the scientific enterprise itself is validated by his existence.”- Dr.John Lennox

“The whole war between the atheist and the theist comes down to this: the atheist believes a 'what' created the universe; the theist believes a 'who' created the universe.”
- Criss Jami, Killo

“The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him.” — Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God is Within You
(1894).


This message is a reply to:
 Message 14 by Raphael, posted 06-21-2021 6:36 PM Raphael has not yet responded

  
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