Are We Losing the Propaganda War in Our Schools?

There is a disturbing trend of favoritism towards Islam on our educational system.  From Tom Claughlin and Family Security Matters.

“Imagine a public school teacher telling his/her students, “For the next few weeks, you’re all going to become Christians.” Imagine that students had to wear crosses, memorize Christian prayers and recite them, memorize Christian concepts of the Eucharist and celebrate them, fast during Lent and chant “Jesus is the Messiah!” How long would it take for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to file a lawsuit? A week? A day? A minute? As we’ve seen many times, it would be immediate and very expensive for the school district, which, when it lost, would be forced to pay huge legal fees to the ACLU.

In 2000, a seventh grade teacher in California’s Byron Union School District (about fifty miles east of San Francisco) forced her seventh-grade students to become Muslims for three weeks. Students had to wear a star and crescent, memorize Muslim prayers, verses and the five pillars of faith, fast during lunch period as if it were Ramadan, chant “Allah Akbar!” and play a dice game called “jihad,” which was defined for students as a “struggle against oppression.” What did the ACLU have to say about this? Nothing. Not a peep. Christian parents were outraged and filed a lawsuit in federal court against the school with the assistance of the Thomas More Law Center.

I had a chance to interview Richard Thompson, president and general counsel for the Thomas More Law Center last week. The lawsuit against Byron Union School District was one of the earliest to call attention to increasing Muslim influence in our public schools. He said, “[T]he judge dismissed the case saying, well this was a typical educational program. The activities were not overtly religious, that would raise any ‘establishment clause’ concerns. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that dismissal in a non-published opinion.”  

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13 Responses to Are We Losing the Propaganda War in Our Schools?

  1. mjackson75 says:

    While I agree with you that the “project” this teacher had the students participate in was very inappropriate, hopefully it also lays out the reasoning why school-sponsored prayer, from any religion, is inappropriate in the public school classroom. I do not despise religion, however I do believe that school-sponsored prayer and any sort of evangelization in schools is inappropriate. I think religion is extremely important in the studies of history, social studies, and others. However, it should be refrained to looking at religion in historical contexts, what the beliefs are, and the role that they currently play in society.
    I think the Christian parents were rightly upset about this teacher’s project, however, Christians will hopefully recognize why it’s important to keep the separation between church and state.

  2. Chris says:

    mjackson75,

    Thank you for your comments. I believe in freedom of religion and not freedom from religion. Many try to use “seperation of church and state” to expunge all religion from the public schools. That is all religions except for the religion of secular humanism, which is the prominent religion espoused in public schools. By the way in what way do you mean the “separation of church and state”? This is a phrase badly misused by some these days.

    Also, I noticed that you are a deist? Please explain your religion?

    Thank you

  3. mjackson75 says:

    Chris,

    Many people do bring up the expression “separation of church and state,” just like many people bring up “freedom of religion not freedom from religion” as a response. First off, I understand that “separation between church and state” is not written in the Constitution. It was a phrase adopted from a letter from Thomas Jefferson to (? don’t remember). However, the IDEA of the separation is found in the constitution. I’m not trying to be disrespectful, I promise, but the only way I can think to compare it off the top of my head is like the concept of the “trinity” in the New Testament. Nowhere is “trinity” written, however it is a concept that has been extrapolated from the text.

    Secular humanism is always brought up when it comes to public schools. I’m curious what you would define as secular humanism? In actuality, I believe that humanism is necessary to be taught in schools as we are humans. I also noted in my reply that I thought religion should be taught to a point in schools. The beliefs, the history, and the rold of that religion in the world. My argument is that teachers and schools need to stay away from proselytizing and leading students in prayer. I have no problem with students who want to pray together or alone, or even carry their bibles and Koran’s to school with them, however, the school has no place in this. I’m not looking to expunge religion from schools, I want them taught to an extent.
    It has been my experience that when Christians or any other group talk about “kicking God out of schools,” “freedom of religion not freedom from religion,” and prayer in schools, they are really talking about their own faith. If prayer were allowed in schools, what would Christians say when it was a muslim child’s turn to pray?

    As far as deism goes, it would be best to check my post titled “why I am a Deist” to really get into that. I don’t really consider Deism a religion as much as I do a philosophy. In short, I believe in a creator of some sort, although I can’t know who it is or what it’s like. I don’t believe in the bible as revelation. To me, it is nothing more than hearsay, as the bible was “revealed” to only a few individuals. I believe in the reasoning abilities of mankind, and that, should we decide one day to use those abilities for the betterment of humanity, we can achieve anything. I believe that knowledge of the creator comes from our reasoning, science, and nature. Nature reveals a primary cause, I believe, but I can’t go along with any of the “religions” today.

    Some will say that because my belief is in a creator, then it is a religion. I don’t see it that way. Belief or faith is personal, within. However, I believe that religion is the outward expression of that faith and belief, in other words, the actions associated. My beliefs in the creator lead to no worship and no prayer, they just exist. That’s why I consider it a philosophy.

  4. Chris says:

    Thank you for the reply. It is nice to comment back and forth with you. If you want to further understand how the phrase “separation of church and state” came to be then you can read my previous post on this topic which I pasted below. I will answer your other questions separately.

    In his book entitled, The Ever-Loving Truth, Dr. Voddie Baucham writes the following:

    “The frequency with which the term is used causes some to marvel when they discover that the phrase “separation of church and state” cannot be found in the Constitution. That’s right, it’s not there! Thomas Jefferson coined the phrase in a letter he wrote to the Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut, in an effort to assure them that rumors they had heard about the establishment of a state church were false. His letter reads as follows:

    Gentleman,
    The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me on behalf of the Danbury Baptist Association give me the highest satisfaction….Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God; that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship; that the legislative powers of government reach actions only and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties. I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing of the common Father and Creator of man, and tender you for yourselves and your religious association assurances of my high respect and esteem.

    Jefferson’s sentiments become clearer when viewed in light of his many remarks and writings on the subject. In his second inaugural address, for example, he stated that in matters of religion, “its free exercise is placed by the constitution independent of the powers of the general [federal] government.” David Barton, a leading advocate for the appropriate rendering of the First Amendment as it relates to Christianity in American culture, believes that “Jefferson had committed himself as President to pursuing the purpose of the First Amendment; preventing the ‘establishment of a particular form of Christianity’ by the Episcopalians, Congregationalists, or any other denomination.

    The First Amendment, which many cite as the source of the doctrine of the separation of church and state, reads in part, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” These simple words are a far cry from the interpretation often expressed and discussed today. Due to a simple misreading or misapplication of the words of Thomas Jefferson written in a private letter, this issue has reached a point of crisis, Barton’s conclusion puts a fine enough point on the matter”

    Therefore, if Jefferson’s letter is to be used today, let its context be clearly given – as in previous years. Furthermore, earlier courts had always viewed Jefferson’s Danbury letter for just what it was: a personal, private letter to a specific group. There is probably no other instance in America’s history where words spoken by a single individual in a private letter – words clearly divorced from their context – have become sole authorization for a national policy. Finally, Jefferson’s Danbury letter should never be invoked as a stand-alone document. A proper analysis of Jefferson’s views must include his numerous other statements on the First Amendment.

    Jefferson’s own words, encapsulated on the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., summarize his thought: “I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” Jefferson’s goal was not to keep religion out of the halls of government; he wanted to keep government out of the halls of religion.”

  5. Chris says:

    Webster’s Dictionary defines secular humanism in the following way:

    “humanistic philosophy viewed as a nontheistic religion antagonistic to traditional religion”

    I know that secular humanists define their belief system in many different ways so how do you define it? When you say humanism should be taught in public schools than what exactly do you mean? I agree that religion should be taught in public schools. I also agree that teachers and schools should not force a particular religion on students.

    What sort of Creator do you believe in? Why do you not believe in the Bible as divine revelation? The Bible was not revealed to only a few people. It was written by over 40 authors or witnesses to the events that took place at the time of other eyewitnesses (so you have corroboration) from all walks of life over a period of approximately 1600 years. There is a tremendous amount of evidence for the historicity, reliability and veracity of the Bible. What do you mean by nature reveals a primary cause? Why can you not go along with any religions? What is blocking you?

    Take Care, Chris

  6. mjackson75 says:

    Chris,

    Thanks for clearing up the letter for me. I couldn’t remember to whom the letter was addressed. Unfortunately, my writing about the letter I think was misinterpreted. I didn’t mean to imply that because Jefferson said it, then we should accept that private correspondence as national policy. However, I do think it shows an intent other than that which you are arguing. Jefferson was certainly not a Christian. When examining his other works and quotes, it is quite plain that he was not a Christian. He denied the deity of Christ and also denied the revelation of scripture. However, he was certainly a believer in a creator (god).

    David Barton’s analysis that the first amendment was “…preventing the establishment of a particular form of Christianity…” seems way off-base when considering the writings of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson didn’t hold to any religious system, he was, in fact, considered a Deist. Since we are talking private letters 🙂 Here is another:

    In a letter to Benjamin Rush dated April 21, 1803 Jefferson wrote, “To the corruptions of Christianity I am, indeed, opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; and believing he never claimed any other.”

    I don’t want to get into a conversation just examining the beliefs of one individual. But I do think that they are important concerning he was an author of the Constitution. The idea of the establishment clause is that Government shall not establish (read endorse or declare) any religion. They also cannot infringe upon the rights of individuals to practice…however, when talking about prayer in schools, schools are a government institution (public ones anyway). My argument is not for religion to be kicked out of schools, it is for honest study of the religions and their roles in the world. However, there should not be any attempts at evangelization or conversion by school staff.

    I think the founding fathers were well aware of the dangers of living in a theocracy. When considering their influences (Voltaire, Locke, Hume etc…) they were interested in the rights and freedoms of individuals to live their lives. They were well entrenched in the ideals of the enlightenment. Religion was viewed as a private matter between man and his god, it was not to have a place in the government institution just as government shouldn’t have a role in religious institutions. People of one faith or another should be actively engaged in politics, but they shouldn’t be actively engaged in order to proclaim their faith. Their politics should be based on their values and reasoning, not just because “the bible says…).

  7. Chris says:

    Thanks for the reply. I think we both agree that religions should be taught in public schools. However, schools and teachers should not force any particular religion on the students. Although, there are a LOT of gray areas to this.

    I think Dr. James Kennedy provides a good analysis of Thomas Jefferson on this particular issue.

    “While Jefferson has been lionized by those who seek to drive religion from public life, the true Thomas Jefferson is anything but their friend. He was anything but irreligious, anything but an enemy to Christian faith. Our nation’s third president was, in fact, a student of Scripture who attended church regularly, and was an active member of the Anglican Church, where he served on his local vestry. He was married in church, sent his children and a nephew to a Christian school, and gave his money to support many different congregations and Christian causes.

    Moreover, his “Notes on Religion,” nine documents Jefferson wrote in 1776, are “very orthodox statements about the inspiration of Scripture and Jesus as the Christ,” according to Mark Beliles, a Providence Foundation scholar and author of an enlightening essay on Jefferson’s religious life.

    So what about the Jefferson Bible, that miracles-free version of the Scriptures? That, too, is a myth. It is not a Bible, but an abridgement of the Gospels created by Jefferson in 1804 for the benefit of the Indians. Jefferson’s “Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth Extracted From the New Testament for the Use of the Indians” was a tool to evangelize and educate American Indians. There is no evidence that it was an expression of his skepticism.

    Jefferson, who gave his money to assist missionary work among the Indians, believed his “abridgement of the New Testament for the use of the Indians” would help civilize and educate America’s aboriginal inhabitants. Nor did Jefferson cut all miracles from his work, as Beliles points out. While the original manuscript no longer exists, the Table of Texts that survives includes several accounts of Christ’s healings.

    But didn’t Jefferson believe in the complete separation of church and state? After all, Jefferson’s 1802 letter to the Baptists in Danbury, Conn., in which he cited the First Amendment’s creation of a “wall of separation” between church and state, is an ACLU proof-text for its claim that the First Amendment makes the public square a religion-free zone. But if the ACLU is right, why, just two days after he sent his letter to the Danbury Baptists did President Jefferson attend public worship services in the U.S. Capitol building, something he did throughout his two terms in office? And why did he authorize the use of the War Office and the Treasury building for church services in Washington, D.C.?

    Jefferson’s outlook on religion and government is more fully revealed in another 1802 letter in which he wrote that he did not want his administration to be a “government without religion,” but one that would “strengthen … religious freedom.”

    Jefferson was a true friend of the Christian faith. But was he a true Christian? A nominal Christian – as demonstrated by his lifelong practice of attending worship services, reading the Bible, and following the moral principles of Christ – Jefferson was not, in my opinion, a genuine Christian. In 1813, after his public career was over, Jefferson rejected the deity of Christ. Like so many millions of church members today, he was outwardly religious, but never experienced the new birth that Jesus told Nicodemus was necessary to enter the kingdom of Heaven.

    Nonetheless, Jefferson’s presidential acts would, if done today, send the ACLU marching into court. He signed legislation that gave land to Indian missionaries, put chaplains on the government payroll, and provided for the punishment of irreverent soldiers. He also sent Congress an Indian treaty that set aside money for a priest’s salary and for the construction of a church.

    Most intriguing is the manner in which Jefferson dated an official document. Instead of “in the year of our Lord,” Jefferson used the phrase “in the year of our Lord Christ.” Christian historian David Barton has the proof – the original document signed by Jefferson on the “eighteenth day of October in the year of our Lord Christ, 1804.”

    The Supreme Court ruled in 1947 that Jefferson’s wall of separation between church and state “must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.” Judging from the record, it looks like the wall some say Tom built is, in fact, the wall Tom breached.”

  8. mjackson75 says:

    Hey Chris,

    As far as humanism goes, I consider humanism to really be humanistic studies, or the liberal arts. In other words, Philosophy, Religion, Politics, Sociology, Anthropology, etc… Basically, for me humanism has to do with the human condition, how we live, what is our purpose, and studying man’s attempts to come to conclusions. Unfortunately, when Humanism is brought up, it is immediately associated with “Secular” Humanism, which just has a bad connotation with it. To me, it has nothing to do with secular or sacred, it is just man’s attempts to study him or herself.

    As far as the Bible goes, I am well aware of the accuracy with which the New Testament especially has been handed down. I know about the similarities and VERY FEW differences between what we have today in the Old Testament and the Masoretic texts as well. I am well aware of the 5000 plus parchments (some whole, some pieces) of the New Testament. I am also well aware of the accuracy rate of the New Testament being so much higher than say the Iliad, Odyssey, or even Shakespeare’s plays. It is not the accuracy of the documents now compared to then, instead, for me, it is a matter of the message.

    The story of Christianity makes absolutely no sense to me. Unfortunately, there is too much to go into in a comment section, but I will at least tell you some of it.

    First: The problem with Hell. The Jews of the Old Testament had no concept of Hell. While I believe Sheol was mentioned, this word has been translated as hell, when really it means “grave.” It would appear that the Jews had no belief in Hell per say, but instead “oblivion.” Hell came along in the New Testament and the Valley of Gehenna.

    2. Even if Hell were real, the idea that we would “earn” our way to hell by not having faith is ludicrous to me. To me, the creator did make itself known through nature, however, I can’t believe in a God who decides to come to earth in the form of 2 other beings (Jesus and Holy Spirit), sacrifice himself to himself because he lived the perfect life and became sin, so humanity could continue in the same ways they always have and yet be able to claim Jesus as Lord and Saviour and therefore claim eternal life. There have been believers that have done horrible things, and non-believers that have done great things, yet the believers would go to heaven simply because they believed Jesus as their saviour. (I know about no salvation by works, I’m just using this as an example)

    3. Accuracy of the Bible: As stated earlier, I know it’s very accurate. However, that doesn’t affect the message for me. I don’t care about the contradictions (yes I do believe there are some), instead, I care about the message sent and the way it was sent. I don’t believe in the resurrection. While Christians claim that the Gospels were written during the lifetimes of people who would have been able to disprove their accounts, I don’t really believe there was the opportunity. Reason being, that while the Gospel of Mark (considered the earliest) was written within probably35-40 years (a very short amount of time), how widely distributed would it have been. Consider that there was no printing press, and the illiteracy rate among the common people (who would have been members of the house churches) was extremely high. While Mark was written soon after the events, it would have taken years for it to be widely distributed and heard by the majority of people.

    4. I can accept some variances in the gospels, however, one would think that the immaculate conception would be a central tenant in every Gospel. I understand that the authors were writing for different audiences and for different reasons, however, the idea of the virgin birth seems like a pretty important thing to write down. Yet, it’s missing in some of the Gospels and disregarded by the apostles. This isn’t “proof” of anything, just an observation.

    5. Faith and works: Numerous biblical passages can be cited and taken in and out of context to argue either way. We know that there are none righteous, with the exceptions of the ones that are…Joseph, Cornelius, John the Baptist, Noah, Abraham, and Job are all declared as “just” or righteous, without the saving sacrifice of Christ. Why were they righteous? Was Joseph righteous because of his faith as a Jew? What about all of the other Jews.

    I’m not expecting an item by item refutation. These are not written as slams against Christianity, they are just a sampling of the problems I have in dealing with it. There are many other reasons as well.

    Regards.

  9. Chris says:

    Thank you very much for the reply. It is good to hear from you. I certainly do not take your email as slams on Christianity. As a matter of fact I have a lot of respect for your obviously spending some time studying Christianity and the Bible even though you are not a Christian. I am amazed how many people dismiss Christianity and the Bible without even studying this very important matter.

    I would like to discuss this further if you are open to that. We can do it on this blog or you can email me at familyactionorganization@gmail.com.

    As far as your being a humanist – what do you believe about how mankind came to be? What went wrong with us (all the evil)? How can we fix what is wrong with us? Where do we get our morals from? What is our purpose?

    1) If this is true I am not sure why it would be a roadblock for your believing in Christianity?
    2) We do not “earn our way to hell by not having faith”. We use our free will to reject God thus being separated from him for eternity. It is a choice we all make. God knows our hearts so if someone claims to be a believer and is a serial killer than obviously they are really not a believer. God is just and we will all be judged.
    3) You agree that the accuracy of the Bible is very high yet you reject the message. That does not seem very rational does it? The Bible was written by eyewitnesses at the time of other eyewitnesses. I don’t understand your assertion that the Gospel of Mark would be written by the author and everyone else around was illiterate so they could not read the Gospel of Mark to disagree with what is written. Where is your evidence of that? And how can you not believe in the resurrection? There is ample evidence from the Bible and from non-biblical sources. Have you read Dr. Gary Habermas’ book The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus? (http://www.garyhabermas.com/index.htm). It is quite compelling.
    4) I understand you think the immaculate conception should be the centerpiece of every gospel but as you stated that doesn’t affect anything.
    5) This is just more of you having some questions about certain aspects of the Bible. We all have questions.

    The only issue you brought up that has real implications I the resurrection. I would challenge you to read Dr.Habermas book with an open mind and go where the evidence takes you. It is nice to dialogue with you.

    Take care,
    Chris

  10. mjackson75 says:

    In the interest of continuing our discussion, I think this is probably the best way to do it.

    As for the five points I made regarding some of my problems with Christianity:

    1. Hell- the roadblock here for me is that if hell was not a part of the theology of the Old Testament, and didn’t come along until the New Testament, then there is something wrong here. Much of Christianity’s focus is on saving souls from hell. Please understand, I’m generalizing with the recognition that there are always exceptions, but it would seem that many people convert to religions not necessarily out of the love of the creator but in order to escape eternity in hell. The idea that God would even have hell as an option in eternity because of a decision made in a brief lifetime on earth seems rather ridiculous.

    2. Free-will and hell: I understand the idea of the serial killer not being a true believer. However, what about the Dalai-Lama (sp?) who preaches love and good works? It’s not just that a person doing bad things can go to hell, it’s also that a person that is upright, loving, and good (I know, we’re all sinners…but you know what I mean) will spend an eternity in hell. I realize that this has turned into a works position…but again, we were given the power of reason, yet should our reasoning lead us in a direction other than Christ, we are punished for following it…for eternity. That’s a long time for one decision, or lack thereof.

    3. Bible Accuracy- I believe in the accuracy of the transmission of the text, not the message. I don’t see it as unreasonable. I’m afraid that I didn’t explain my “Mark” position very well. What I mean, is that when you consider that Mark, the generally accepted earliest gospel, was written 35-40 years after the events took place, which I acknowledge is a short amount of time, there are some things to consider:

    a. 35-40 years could be a lifetime for many of the witnesses;
    b. the book would have to be hand-copied and sent out to various recipients;
    c. Illiteracy would have been high among the regular people (Romans were occupiers, but they weren’t educators for the masses of the conquered peoples), therefore, the message would have to be transmitted orally to many;
    d. It would in fact take years for this message, along with Matthew and Luke (considered to use Mark as a reference) to get out to the masses.

    I’m not saying that this in itself is reason to disregard, I’m saying that this is an issue when using the accounts of eyewitnesses as corroberation.

    4. Immaculate conception- It’s not even that I think it should be the centerpiece, it’s that I think it’s a very important detail when asserting the divinity of Jesus. The fact that some gospels and the apostles seemed to ignore this is troublesome. Also, as I’m sure you’re aware, the idea of Immaculate Conception was around long before the birth of Jesus. This also, I admit, does not make the Christian version “not true,” but it is another issue that raises legitimate questions.

    5. Faith/Works- this I agree with you on. It is just another area of questioning.

    Here’s the deal, as you can tell, I’m not anti-Christian. I remember a statement a pastor said in a sermon one time when he was preaching on the inerrancy of scripture. I really do respect him and his knowledge, he said “You can’t prove or disprove the Bible.” I think this is so true. I’m not out to try to destroy people’s faith by pointing out all the problems with the bible and prove it’s inauthenticy (is that a word?). Instead, I’ve been using my blog as a way of questioning what I believe. I spent 10 + years as a bible believing Christian, but when I really started questioning, I couldn’t make sense of a lot of issues.

    As of this point, I do consider myself a humanist/deist. Meaning, that I do believe in a creator of some sort. I guess I’m agnostic in a way that I’m not sure that we can “know” this creator. I do believe that creation screams a creator. You asked what I think went wrong with mankind…well, to tell you the truth, I don’t think anything went wrong. I think that mankind overall is good, yet we sometimes do bad things. I think mankind behaves, overall, in his or her own interest. Meaning, that we live by a moral code of general respect of others lives and property. Mankind also, being fallible, screws up. However, I don’t have the belief that mankind is locked into evil deeds because of the fall of Adam. Mankind has adopted differing moral codes, religions, and customs which leads to war and atrocities. However, the average person, non-extremist, is basically a good person trying to get through their day as best they can.

    As far as our purpose goes: I don’t know that there is a divine purpose for us. I think that we each determine our purpose by determining how we would like to live our lives. I want to be a fantastic father for my son, and a fantastic husband to my wife. My own father fell in both those areas, so I would like to make sure I achieve those. My purpose is to be a decent, well-read, constantly learning, and loving father, husband, and friend. I want to question, because I believe that’s how we learn best.

    I think Humanism has been given a bad name because of extremists. Many of the humanist organizations are socialist and atheistic in nature. However, I don’t belong to any such group. As a matter of fact, I am politically very conservative (with a few exceptions- gay marriage for instance- but even my opposition to the amendment is a constitutional issue rather than a moral one). I was a republican until the republicans went soft. I believe in capitalism and the ability of mankind to achieve. I am a humanist, but not one that people tend to automatically think of.

  11. Chris says:

    Thank you very much for the reply. I appreciate you sharing your views with me.

    1. I am sorry but I still do not understand the point you are trying to make regarding the significance of when the word “hell” is used in the Bible. If someone says “yeah, I’m a Christian” because they are hedging their bets and they do not truly except Jesus atonement for our sins, do not turn from their sins, do not do their best to follow Christ, etc. then don’t you think a just and righteous God will judge them appropriately? When God reveals himself through his Word, nature, etc. to his creation and they make the decision to completely reject him and he is a just and righteous God than how could he accept them?

    As you know everyone struggles with understanding certain aspects of the Bible. No one has all of the answers. You have to take a look at all of the evidence and decide whether it points to the probability that theism is true.
    2. Same as #1 above.
    3. There are several things I want to point out here.
    i. The Gospels were written by two of Jesus’ twelve closest followers (Matthew and John), a third man (Mark) who closely followed the memoirs of Peter, the leader of the Twelve, and a fourth (Luke) who carefully interviewed eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life as well as consulting previously written sources (Luke 1:1)
    ii. Scholars typically date Matthew, Mark and Luke to the 60s and John to the 90s. Compare these last two points with the typical situation for other ancient histories and biographies. The detailed life of Alexander the Great, however, which most historians believe can be reconstructed with a fair amount of accuracy, depends on Arrian and Plutarch’s late first and early second-century biographies of a man who died in 323 B.C.
    iii. There is no doubt that a passionate commitment to a certain ideology can lead some writers to play fast and loose with history, but certain kinds of ideologies actually require greater loyalty to the facts. Jews after World War II, for example, for precisely the reason that they were passionately committed to preventing a Holocaust such as they had experienced under the Nazis from ever happening again, objectively chronicled in detail the atrocities they had suffered. It was less committed people who produced the appalling revisionism that substantially minimized the extent of the Holocaust or even denied it altogether. Because Christian faith depended on Jesus having lived, died and been resurrected according to the biblical claims (1 Cor. 15), the Gospels’ authors would have good reason to tell the story straight.
    iv. Thirty years after historical events, memories can grow dim and distorted. But first-century Judaism was an oral culture, steeped in the educational practice of memorization. Some rabbis had the entire Hebrew Scriptures (the Christian Old Testament) committed to memory. Memorizing and preserving intact the amount of information contained in one Gospel would not have been hard for someone raised in this kind of culture who valued the memories of Jesus’ life and teaching as sacred.
    v. A dozen or so non-Christian writers or texts confirm a remarkable number of details in the Gospels about Jesus’ life-that he was a Jew living in the first third of the first century, born out of wedlock, a self-styled teacher who became very popular, selected certain men as his inner core of disciples, disregarded Jewish dietary laws and ate with the despised, enraged certain Jewish leaders, even though believed to be the Messiah by others, was crucified by Pontius Pilate but believed to have been raised from the dead by some of his followers who began a fledgling religion that never died out. Some might argue that this does not seem like a lot of detail but in a world in which almost all historical and biographical writing focused on kings, emperors, military generals, people in institutional positions of religious power, famous philosophers whose “schools” had long outlived them, and, more generally, the well-to-do and influential, it is remarkable that Jesus gets mentioned at all by first-through-third century non-Christian writers. Before the legalization of Christianity in the fourth century, who would have expected this obscure, crucified rabbi to produce a following that would one day become the religion adopted by the greatest percentage of people on earth?
    vi. Archaeology confirms a whole raft of details susceptible to artifactual or epigraphic corroboration-the existence of the pools of Siloam and Bethesda in Jerusalem, the latter with five porticoes just as John 5:2 describes, Pontius Pilate as prefect of Judea, Roman crucifixion by driving nails through the ankle bones, fishing boats large enough to hold 13 people (like Jesus and his 12 disciples), the tomb of Caiaphas, the probable ossuary (bone-box) of James, brother of Jesus, and so on. And all of these details in the Gospels were once doubted before the archaeological confirmation came forth.
    vii. Finally, other Christian testimony confirms a whole host of details in the Gospels. Second-century Christian writers refer back to and even quote a considerable portion of the Gospel accounts with approval. More significantly, the letter of James, Peter and Paul, all concurrent with but primarily prior to the written form of the Gospels, contain numerous allusions to and occasional quotations of Jesus’ sayings which show that they must have been circulating by word of mouth in carefully preserved form. Perhaps most telling of all, testimony to Christ’s bodily resurrection was phrased in catechetical language as that which would be received and passed on by oral tradition and thus probably formed part of what Paul was taught at his conversion, a scant two years after the death of Jesus (1 Cor. 15:1-3). These are no late Hellenistic legends that evolved long after the life of Jesus, the simple Jewish rabbi. These were the revolutionary claims being made by his followers from the very beginning.
    4. If by the immaculate conception you mean that Mary was sinless than thank you will need to talk to a catholic about that. As far as issues with the immaculate conception not being the centerpiece of the gospels there are a million reasons we can get into on that if this is a major roadblock for you.
    5. I disagree that you cannot prove or disprove the Bible. The Bible makes certain truth claims that can be tested. Either the truth claims are true or they are false. Do you not believe that we can know the truth? Are you sure you were a Bible believing Christian or were you someone who studied the Bible and decided you did not believe it? I think you see my point. Evidently you were not Bible believing because when you actually studied the Bible you did not believe.

    You are correct that a Creation screams a Creator. What about moral laws? Don’t they scream a moral law giver? If theism is not true then are their absolute moral standards? How do we know right from wrong? How did we “adopt these moral codes” as you stated?

    You don’t think anything went wrong with mankind? There is nothing wrong with this world? Do you read the paper? This is a fallen world. The depravity is gut wrenching.

    So, are you saying that purpose is relative? You have your purpose and I have my purpose?

    As far as being a deist – do you believe God can perform miracles? Why do you not believe in the resurrection?

    Do you believe that homosexual acts are a sin according to the Bible?

    Also, you call yourself a deist, agnostic, humanist and capitalist. Some of those are contradictory are they not? What exactly is your belief system? And why are you a conservative and why did the GOP go soft?

    Thanks again. Nice to dialogue with you. Have a good night. Chris

  12. mjackson75 says:

    Chris,

    There are a zillion points here, there is no way for me to respond to all of them. However, as far as your numerous points as to the reliability of the bible’s transmission, remember, I don’t argue with that. I know that there are various non-christian references to Jesus, such as Josephus, Pliny the Younger, and Tacitus. However, I would never argue that Jesus was not a real person. I have no problem with that whatsoever. I do believe, however, that there is a difference in believing the reliable transmission of the gospels and believing everything they say. Do we necessarily believe everything said about Alexander the Great? Of course not. Some believed him to be a deity, I certainly wouldn’t.

    I also never mentioned Mary being sinless…for in the Bible, none are without sin. However, many of those sinners that were led in relationship with God before the sacrifice of Jesus were described as good, faithful, or righteous. Since we are all fallen and sinful, and none good or righteous, it’s kind of strange that some were (Moses, Noah, Abraham etc…)

    As far as word of mouth goes, I know that they were an oral culture. However, the people that were trained in this memorization were just that, trained. I don’t believe that the average person had this kind of schooling. When we talk oral culture, we need to remember who it is and what it is that’s being transmitted. No doubt the story of Jesus was transmitted orally, however, considering the large number of people, the cultural implications are extraordinary. What happened to Christianity when Constantine adopted it as the official religion of Rome? The hellenistic influences on Paul were astounding, when compared to Peter, James, and John.

    Moral Laws: I don’t believe that religion has a central hold on Moral laws. What is morality? Some would argue right and wrong, however, I would add to that. I would argue morality as right and wrong with regards to other people. If you or I were alone on this earth, would there be a morality? When Adam and Eve were alone on the earth, did they break a set moral law, or did they go against the wishes of another (God)? I would argue that the moral code, as Christianity is concerned, is man’s following or not following God’s laws.

    As far as what I think? I think that our moral code is based on experience in living with other people on this earth. If I want to do well in life (selfishness), I need to know how to get along with others, and even be helpful to them. We all learn to reign in our selfish tendencies.

    Do I think anything went wrong with mankind? No, I don’t. You are assigning your belief that humanity was created perfect on me. Remember, I don’t hold to the biblical account of creation. I don’t believe in Adam and Eve, or the fall. Instead, I believe that we were created. That’s it. We are not perfect. We screw up, some of us completely fall off the turnip truck and become rapists and mass murderers. That, I do not see as related to original sin. I see it as humans not looking out for the betterment of others and their societies.

    Is purpose relative? What purpose? Life purpose? If that’s what you mean, then yes. My purpose is to be the best father and husband I can be. I want to be there for my family through thick and thin, and be a help and positive influence on others. Is there a better way to live?

    Miracles? Do I believe God can perform miracles? Sure. I just don’t believe he does. Most events that are miraculous I believe can be defined at some point. Maybe we don’t know how today, that’s why they’re miracles. However, I do believe that we can figure it out eventually. The real miracle for me is creation.

    Are homosexual acts a sin according to the Bible? It would sure appear that way. However, many people have different interpretations on the homosexual issues in the bible. Some would argue for context in which they were written (What was Paul really addressing in Romans?) As for me, I really don’t care. I think that homosexuality should be a major non-issue. I don’t care what some do in their bedrooms. I do believe that everybody should be treated equally. Why is it that I, as a non-Christian, can get married, but a homosexual can’t? Aren’t we both sinners?

    Deist, Agnostic, Humanist, and Capitalist- Are these necessarily contradictory? I suppose if each is taken to an extreme.

    I am a Deist because I believe in a creator, although I don’t believe that it imposes itself on me or my world. I am a humanist in the sense that I believe in the goodness of man (in general), and believe in our reasoning abilities (in conjunction with Deism). I didn’t really say I was an Agnostic, I said that I suppose I could be classified as an Agnostic Deist, meaning, that I believe in a creator, however I don’t believe I can know him or her (read personal relationship). Instead, I believe the best we can know the creator is through the creation. I am a capitalist also, which I don’t see why it would be contradictory to any of the above. I believe in the abilities of man, and I believe in the responsibility of man. We succeed or fall by our own devices, or sometimes the devices of others as others’ actions affect us.

    I am a conservative because I believe in capitalism and life. My conservatism is not religiously based. Instead, I believe that each of us has a duty to pull our own weight and help others through our own works, not the government’s. I believe in the value of human life, no matter what age. I believe that the elements of life begin with conception, and to abort that is to kill a being that should be protected. Many will disagree with me on this, but I won’t be changed on this. How has the GOP gone soft? I think they are caving in to the middle, turning left. I think that they are falling short of the conservative principles of Reagan, both economically and socially.

  13. Chris says:

    Thanks for the reply. I hope you had a good weekend.

    1) We agree that Jesus was a real person. What are your beliefs regarding who Jesus was? We have evidence supporting Jesus deity. We do not have evidence supporting Alexander the Great’s deity. Why do you not believe in Jesus deity? By the way have you studied the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection? Why do you not believe in Jesus’ resurrection?
    2) I thought you were using the term “immaculate conception” to allude to the Virgin Mary as sinless as is the case in Catholicism. Do you believe Abraham, Noah and Moses were sinless?
    3) Unfortunately, I don’t have the time today to type out all the evidence to refute this point so I will point you to a website that covers this. Let me know if this does not clear things up for you. It is a pretty solid rigorous treatment of the subject.
    http://www.tektonics.org/ntdocdef/orality01.html
    4) Moral laws are objective laws revealed to us by God through his Word. If you and I were alone on this earth there still would be objective moral laws. For example, it would be wrong for me to kill you. Don’t you agree?
    5) How can moral law be based on “experience in living with other people on this earth”? That would mean moral laws are subjective. We know moral laws are objective so this is illogical. Are you a relativist? Please explain further how moral laws came to be.
    You do not think anything went wrong with mankind? You think that humans not looking out for the betterment of others and their societies are what is wrong? Without objective moral standards from God who is to say what is right and wrong?
    I would point you to the website below for further explanation of God and objective truths. I would be very interested in your thoughts on this article if you have time. It is a fairly long read but well worth it.
    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5344

    If you do not believe in the Biblical account of creation than what is your account of creation? Why were we created?
    6) If life’s purpose is relative than why are you trying to be “the best father and husband I can be. I want to be there for my family through thick and thin, and be a help and positive influence on others”? If life’s purpose is relative than there is no objective true purpose for all people – everyone’s individual purpose is true for them. So, the serial killer’s purpose of killing as many people as he can to satisfy his bloodlust is just as true as your purpose and we cannot condemn him for it?
    7) You said “Do I believe God can perform miracles? Sure. I just don’t
    believe he does.” And then you said “The real miracle for me is creation.”

    This is the problem with your deist worldview. The worldview begins with a stupendous supernatural event – the creation of the world out of nothing. Yet if it took a miracle to give the world existence, then the objection to God’s doing miracles loses all credibility. If God can perform the miracle of creation, there is no good reason why He cannot do other miracles.

    Thus deism has an inconsistency at its core. Two affirmations are at the heart of deism:
    i) God performed the miracle of creation; and
    ii) God does not perform miracles.
    If you are a deist you must believe both of them, and yet these affirmations cannot both be true. Therefore, deism is not a believeable worldview. It founders on the criterion of inconsistency.

    8) The Bible clearly states that homosexuality is a sin no matter who wants to re-write it. I am amazed at how many people want to twist/revise/change the words of the Bible to fit their agendas. We are all sinners. The difference is most homosexuals do not admit they are sinning, ask God’s forgiveness and turn from their sin. There is a huge difference in the relationship between a man and woman and a homosexual relationship. How about man and woman being created by God and having the ability to procreate for example. Homosexuality is an immoral choice made by individuals. There is absolutely no evidence of homosexuality being biological. It is an immoral alternative lifestyle. And if immoral alternative lifestyles should be able to marry than why not a father and his daughter? Why not those who practice bestiality? It is because this is not part of the natural order that God created. I think a great article that addresses how Christians should respond compassionately to those involved in immmoral homosexual activity is below. I would be interested in your thoughts on this.
    http://www.battlefortruth.org/ArticlesDetail.asp?id=178
    10) You say that you are anti-abortion. How can you be anti-abortion when you stated “I think that our moral code is based on experience in living with other people on this earth.” Some people have come to the opposite conclusion you have so why are they wrong? Why are you right?

    Good to hear from you. Thanks for the dialogue.

    Take care,
    Chris

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