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My view, for years, is that either/or is due to our inborn narcissism -- things are either all-good, or all-bad.

By the way, I've decided to keep blogging

Yay!

MP,
I have to say this Wilson person is not #1 on my list of admirable people.
re: a couple of Wilson's remarks -
>Marxism is very similar to fundamentalist Protestantism: they know the truth; they don't care how many people they have to kill till they get their "truth" established.....
You'll find most religions that are based on the yes-no thing have a distinct tendency to go to war whenever they get the opportunity....<

I'd like to make one thing perfectly clear (said in my best Nixon voice) although some fundamentalist Protestants (including some Baptist denominations) are yes/no denominations, the Southern Baptist denomination is NOT.
We believe CERTAIN things are yes/no "things" (Wilson's vocabulary is even worse than mine), basically the same rules or laws that people agree on throughout the world and certainly in America, i.e. "Thou shalt not steal".
Many other beliefs gleaned from the Scriptures are personal and NOT yes or no things to everyone. I'm well aware a lot of people joke about Christians believeing we have a personal relationship with God. One of the most important doctrines of Southern Baptists is that each Christian is spiritually linked with the Spirit of God and He speaks to each of us PERSONALLY and convicts each individual on these certain issues for what is right or wrong to that specific person. IOW, complete legalistic religion is not a good thing. For example one person may feel convicted that he/she should abstain from alcohol. Another person may feel that God has laid it on his/her heart that it's fine for him or her to drink within reason. We feel God knows us best, maybe a person who is convicted NOT to drink has a genetic weakness and would otherwise be in danger of becoming an alcoholic. Maybe a person who feels no conviction to abstain from alcohol consumption has a heart condition that moderate drinking actually helps. It WOULD be a definite no thing for either to become intoxicated for many reasons but this is so long already I won't go into that.
From Websters -
*Fundamental: of or forming a foundation or basis; basic; essential - a principle, theory, law, etc. serving as a basis
*Fundamentalism: religious beliefs based on a literal interpretation of the Bible.
While we do have a literal interpretation of the Bible generally, there are many portions that are obvious parables and symbolic lessons that we interpret in the way they were meant to teach. However we are known as "fundamentalists" and think of ourselves as such. Similar to "family values" - values=fundamentals, we believe in God's values or fundamentals.
Anyway, you get the idea what I mean about our beliefs?
Southern Baptist missionaries, called by God full-time as career missions and volunteer missionaries all over the world put themselves in danger to serve God and their fellow human beings, many times at extreme risk to themselves. MP, I think I sent you the news article of the Southern Baptist missionaries who were murdered in Iraq last year, didn't I? One or more Southern Baptist missionaries serving in the foreign field are murdered almost each year. We don't get as much press as Catholics, but we really are out there :)
Southern Baptists DON'T "have a distinct tendency to go to war whenever they [we] get the opportunity". We firmly believe in peace when at all possible. As for "they don't care how many people they have to kill till they get their "truth" established"...?
I must have known hundreds if not thousands of Southern Baptists in my lifetime and I've never known a single one who killed anyone with the exception of Southern Baptists who served in the American military during times of war.
I felt called to serve as Missions Director and also to teach various mission classes to different age groups for many years. We organized mission programs when and where we saw the need and supported our home and foreign missionaries, both finanially (Southern Missionary Baptists support our own missionaries & the mission work itself, we don't do outside fundraising or ask for donations) and communicating to them how much we cared about their work, the people they were working for and the sacrifices they were making, and how we were praying for them. One thing we did was join another church in adopting a remote village in India, helping the people help themselves by installing a system they could get fresh clean water to use and we bought them some land that the village could grow crops on and sell to help support themselves. The leader of the village was the also the most educated man in the village and a Christian who had been holding services in the open so we helped them build a church to worship in. He was the person who had the idea of the village purchasing cropland to support itself and bring them out of poverty. He was very young and devoted to God and his people and worked so hard his health suffered but he never stopped. I worked here at home on helping to assist the missionaries and villagers who had plans and asked for help. I desperately wanted to go to India to visit the village and meet the people in person but I wasn't able to at that time, but 2 of my friends did. I'm still pen pals with one of the young ladies of the village, one of the very few Christians, most were Hindu. I'm not saying this to pat myself on the back but to give an example of someone like me, just an ordinary Southern Baptist member aka fundamentalist Protestant, feeling it's our honor and duty to do whatever we can do, we really don't want to leap into war or kill people to prove our truth :) What we love doing is what God leads us to do and to do it as quietly as we can, something God plainly states.
Having said all that, none of the other Baptist denominations I know are eager to kill, etc. either. That wacko so-called Baptist group in Kansas is NOT affiliated with any Baptist denomination, they're just an inbred family-cult that sounds like something from the X-Files. I keep hoping they would be legally made to remove "Baptist" from their name. I really can't think of any Christian denomination at all who would fit what Wilson's saying.
What Wilson calls the maybe thing is pretty much common sense and basic. The fact that he has such atrocious language skills (his continuous vague use of the word "thing" and "things", and "locking them up for life or something like that" detracts from his believability IMO. "OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT?!?"
Sorry this is so lengthy, but my faith is the most important thing to me and to see a quote that we kill anyone who disagrees with us and jump into wars over the least thing is a bit upsetting. I want people to know that's not true at all.

Just because I quote something doesn't mean I agree with all of it. I have a more positive outlook on Christianity than Wilson does.

But there are certainly some historical examples that support what Wilson is saying. Wars have been fought over fine points of Christian doctrine like transubstantiation. Heretics have been tortured and killed. Indigenous peoples have been forcibly converted or exterminated. When the Puritans came to power in England, they imposed a dictatorship. When Christianity won the status of Rome's official religion, the first thing the newly empowered Christians did was to begin persecuting the pagans (who had previously persecuted them). They also destroyed vast numbers of pagan manuscripts and artworks, just as Christian missionaries in other places have often done their best to extirpate any traces of the indigenous culture.

Even today there are some Christian sects that believe the unbaptized are doomed to hell. Some apparently believe that anyone outside their congregation is fit only for hellfire. Traditiona Christian doctrine, as I understand it, holds that all non-Christians will be barred from paradise, which means that the majority of people on the planet are going to hell or purgatory.

I think that Christianity's positive contributions to Western culture outweigh these negatives. (For my reasons, see here.) But the negatives aren't trivial.

Traditional Christian doctrine, as I understand it, holds that all non-Christians will be barred from paradise, which means that the majority of people on the planet are going to hell or purgatory.

Yes, this is my problem with exclusivist interpretations of Christianity.

God as the monster sadist who burns his own children alive in hell because they joined the wrong religion.

Yecch.

MP,
*Another lengthy reply, sorry! I couldn't make it any more brief, in order to respond to all of the points both you guys made.*
I should have made myself clear that I was responding to Wilson's statements. You have always shown my religious beliefs and faith nothing but respect. In fact I did say that in my rough draft but neglected to keep it in my final post. My purpose in posting was to show an alternative view than Wilson's to all the readers of your blog, from a person who is a Fundamentalist Protestant.
All of the examples you gave are historical, I'll have to check to be exact but the Southern Baptist denomination is fairly young, less than 100 years.
Transubstantiation is an Eastern Orthodox doctrine. They aren't Protestant. >"Heretics have been tortured and killed."< By Fundamentalist Protestants? By Southern Baptists? >Indigenous peoples have been forcibly converted or exterminated.< I believe the majority who were responsible for that were Catholic. Some Protestant missionaries (not Southern Baptists however) sent from England most likely did have this done and though they were sometimes ordered to do it for political reasons, it doesn't justify the fact that it was done. I agree with you, it was wrong. >When the Puritans came to power in England, they imposed a dictatorship.< That threw me for a loop for a second...I was thinking Puritans in England? I don't remember that, geez I've got to brush up on my history, then I realized you mean NEW England :) I'm not sure a dictatorship necessarily="a tendency to go to war at every opportunity" or not caring "how many people they have to kill till they get their "truth" established". >When Christianity won the status of Rome's official religion, the first thing the newly empowered Christians did was to begin persecuting the pagans (who had previously persecuted them). They also destroyed vast numbers of pagan manuscripts and artworks, just as Christian missionaries in other places have often done their best to extirpate any traces of the indigenous culture.< Christians certainly don't always do the right thing and I've often thought how sad and disappointed God feels when we do. I'm glad that you pointed out "the pagans" (who had previously persecuted them {Christians])", I rarely hear anyone mention that, usually it's just about how Christians persecuted pagans. Nevertheless, 2 wrongs don't make a right. I don't know offhand about Christians extirpating all traces of the indigenous culture of other places but I do know why they destroyed some of the artwork. Pagans and many other cults and religions actually worship certain "art" - statues, "graven images", and all kinds of inanimate objects, also drawings and paintings of their gods/goddesses or animal whatever they worship, sometimes in a frenzied violent manner. This type "art" was destroyed in part to prevent encouraging violent uprisings. All of those examples are historical.
>Even today there are some Christian sects that believe the unbaptized are doomed to hell. Some apparently believe that anyone outside their congregation is fit only for hellfire. Traditiona Christian doctrine, as I understand it, holds that all non-Christians will be barred from paradise, which means that the majority of people on the planet are going to hell or purgatory. (MP)<
>Yes, this is my problem with exclusivist interpretations of Christianity.
God as the monster sadist who burns his own children alive in hell because they joined the wrong religion.
Yecch. (Matthew Cromer)<
MP, Baptism is only a symbolic gesture that a person has made a commitment to Christ but as far as I know no Protestants feel it's a requirement for salvation.
MP & Matthew, Yes, I think this infuriates more people than anything else about Christianity. Here goes...Christians believe God created humankind. He loved them so much He wanted them to have free will and gave them that option. God had told the first man and woman they would not be allowed to live if they willingly sought out evil. But they did and their son, the first person born on earth murdered his own brother - the second person born on this earth. It was still God's desire for us to have free will but this time each person had to have a personal commitment with Him. He would send His Son, a Savior to serve as a sacrifice to cleanse the evil that mankind does. All He asked is that we make a commitment, admitting and asking forgiveness and accepting Him. Accepting Him means you are part of Him and want to be with him (when one dies, that would mean going to Him in spirit - "paradise" as you call it). If a person rejects Him, they are in essence saying: I don't believe in you, My choice is to embrace evil (either in the earthly realm or the afterlife), I reject you and have no desire to be with you in spirit (earthly realm or afterlife).
Matthew- It has nothing to do with "God the monster sadist who burns his children alive in hell". People who reject Christ aren't his children, nor do they want to be, they don't even believe he exists. God's not a monster sadist. But humankind can be.
Okay, I'm finished. You guys don't beat me up too bad, will ya? ;)

>I was thinking Puritans in England? I don't remember that, geez I've got to brush up on my history, then I realized you mean NEW England :)

No, I meant England. See here. However, the Puritans in New England have some bad things to answer for, as well.

>All He asked is that we make a commitment, admitting and asking forgiveness and accepting Him.

What about a Hindu who lives a good life in India but never makes a commitment to Christ because Christianity isn't part of his culture? Or someone in the Amazon rain forest who's never even heard of Christianity? Or an American Indian who lived before any Christians arrived on this continent? Or a pagan who lived before A.D. 30? Are they all going to hell because they had the misfortune to be born into non-Christian environments?

MP,
It seems my responding posts on Protestantism and Christianity might be making you a little angry and that's not my intention. My intention was to refute Wilson's overgeneralizations of the religious beliefs that I share with many others. This will be my last post on this topic. I think the subject has been exhausted in any case.
>I was thinking Puritans in England? I don't remember that, geez I've got to brush up on my history, then I realized you mean NEW England :) < (Suzie)
>No, I meant England. See here. However, the Puritans in New England have some bad things to answer for, as well.< (MP)
My mistake, I was right the first time, I DO need to brush up on my history. Thanks for the link! I'll look it over. Agreed, the Puritans in New Eng. have some bad things to answer for. All Christians, including Fundamentalist Protestants have some bad things to answer for. *I* have some bad things to answer for. Killing people and looking for every opportunity to go to war are not on my list of bad deeds and I'm not sure why Mr. Wilson is particularly stereotyping Fundamentalist Protestants as his target.

To answer your other questions:
You've often said you believe in God. Needless to say God has no physical limitations, hence the Christian term "Holy Spirit". Since he's a spirit he communicates spiritually most of the time.
MP, the majority of your blog is about spiritualism/spirits who communicate. If you believe mere humans who die can spiritually communicate, doesn't logic dictate that God, the Holy Spirit can spiritually communicate with us? If he was so powerless and unloving that he couldn't or wouldn't touch every single person and give them the choice of joining him in spirit and eternal peace, there wouldn't be much sense in his creation of the earth or the creation of people. If you believe in God at all, doesn't it stand to reason he would want as many people as would not reject him to be with him throughout eternity? After all he created us in his own image, he didn't even have to create people at all, he could have just enjoyed the beauty of the land and animals for himself alone.
Again, he gives each person the free will to accept or reject him, he communicates his love and allows us to choose. If he was a sadistic monster, he certainly would use the power he has to force everyone to join him. To those who have rejected him, THAT would be Hell that they would resent and hate. But there won't be resentment or hatred when we join God, or pain or hurt, no suffering of any kind. We believe he communicates to every person through their spirits in every era of time, in every country and culture, in any and every environment, to every person of any and all religions, cults, etc. Some people close their minds and spirits and won't listen or hear. But nobody has the misfortune to miss God's spiritual touch.

Okay, I'm asking for trouble with this one, but in light of the RAW quote (and mention of totalitarian governments and the tendency to go to war), how do we interpret this sentence?

"You're either with us, or against us".

Certainly not a statement that has ever agreed with me.

Kind regards,
Greg

>It seems my responding posts on Protestantism and Christianity might be making you a little angry and that's not my intention.

I'm not angry. Just trying to get my point across.

Regarding God's ability to communicate, I don't doubt it - but couldn't he communicate to people in different ways, which would give rise to different religions? And couldn't those different religions be valid ways to get to God?

Yet, traditionally, Christianity has held that it is the one true religion, the one and only way to get to God, and that all other religions are mistaken and misleading. This probably is based on a very literal reading of Jesus' statement "No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).

MP,
I know I said I wouldn't post on this topic anymore but I am.
>Regarding God's ability to communicate, I don't doubt it - but couldn't he communicate to people in different ways, which would give rise to different religions? And couldn't those different religions be valid ways to get to God?<
Yes, he can communicate to people in different ways. I gave an example and tried to explain that in one of my posts. It could and does give rise to different denominations but not different religions. No, any religions that reject Christ (the Son) are not valid ways to get to God because they reject God (the Father).
I hear people asking these questions quite often and I realize the beliefs that Christians have about them displease very much. The New Age belief that is so popular: "All gods/goddesses are one god and one god is all gods/goddesses" is sweet-sounding and it is easier to embrace any and all entities that one hears of than making a serious commitment with one God and having a personal relationship with him. Many other religions and cults are very similar. Many of the villagers we became close to in India were eager to accept Christ.....as a new entity to add to the oodles of others they worshipped.
But even if someone worships a single god, if the god is not a god at all, but just a mortal who people began worshipping (like that episode on Gilligan's Island), that doesn't make him/her a true god anymore than if people started worshipping you or me. We couldn't do anything such as healing for anybody, we'd just be frauds taking advantage of people who need the real God. One of my fave movies is 'The Mummy', I just saw it again last night. One of the funniest scenes is when Imhotep comes face to face with the little scared wimpy guy. The guy is wearing all kinds of necklaces with different religious symbols and he holds each one up to Imhotep in hopes one will ward him off. Some people will try any god but it doesn't work that way.
Okay, to quote Forrest Gump, "And that's all I have to say about that". If you want to discuss it further please email me :)
Suzie

Suzie,

God created humanity, therefore humanity are children of God.

I would never throw my children nor allow them to be tossed into "the outer darkness, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth" forever and ever. A God who would do so does not deserve worship but rather rejection. To reject such a vision of God is a meritorious act, particularly if one believes himself or herself to be risking his or her own soul for so doing.

Matthew,
>God created humanity, therefore humanity are children of God.<
That's kind of like one of Wilson's yes/no things.
God created Satan but he is not a child of God. God created Hitler but I doubt many people would refer to him as a child of God.
>A God who would do so does not deserve worship but rather rejection. To reject such a vision of God is a meritorious act, particularly if one believes himself or herself to be risking his or her own soul for so doing.<
You certainly have the right to make the choice to reject God.
Basically I was using the term "children of God" as meaning those who have accepted him and have a spiritual link with him.
You state that "God created humanity", so I conclude you believe in God and creation?

God created Satan but he is not a child of God.

Satan is a metaphor for the self-centered ego rebelling against God's order.

God created Hitler but I doubt many people would refer to him as a child of God.

Yes, some would reject Hitler and claim that he is unredeemable and damned forever. Of course the darkness within him is the same as the darkness we all have within our own ego, just more out of control, powerful, and unchecked.

You certainly have the right to make the choice to reject God.

I reject the punitive, unmerciful God who burns up souls forever in hellfire.

You reject the merciful, omnipresent God that all things belong to, that is the source and destination of all things.

Basically I was using the term "children of God" as meaning those who have accepted him and have a spiritual link with him.

Nothing can exist separate from God. The spiritual link is always present for all beings, the distance from God is imagined. Separation is a dream.

You state that "God created humanity", so I conclude you believe in God and creation?

Creation is continuous and ongoing. The world and all of the imagined "individuals" are in reality just a dream of separation. There is nothing apart from God, not in reality. This can be seen in young children, who have not yet fallen into the slumber of the imagined ego. They are awake and aware, but a belief in separation from life has not yet arisen.

Think about it this way. Does God know what it is like to be Suzie? To know what Suzie knows, feel what Suzie feels, her fears, loves, thoughts, deepest desires? Does God know what it is like to be Suzie as a seemingly separate person, to feel limited in time and space, to be subject to ageing and death?

The first possibility is "no". God does not in fact know what it is like to be Suzie in all of her fullness and limitation.

If the answer is "yes", then there are two additional possibilities. The second possibility is that there is God, and all of God's knowledge of Suzie's life, and all of her experiences, and what it is like to be Suzie, and a separate Suzie with all the same feelings and experiences. Two separate entities who have both gone through exactly the same experiences, only one of them is the separate Suzie and the other is God, knowing exactly what Suzie has gone through. But there is another possibility.

The third possibility is that there is God, knowing exactly what it is like to be Suzie, having lived and experienced being Suzie, limited in time and space. And that there is in fact no separate Suzie at all. Only the experience of God dreaming the life of Suzie, experiencing being a limited creature in space and time, for a while.

This is in fact what mystics of every religion proclaim. That there is no reality other than God, that all imagined otherness and separation is simply a dream story playing itself out within awareness.

Matthew,
>"Satan is a metaphor..."<
Yes, that's a very popular belief of those who also believe in a metaphorical God.
Some basic deductive logic...
1) The If-Then Transitive Property: A statement whose basic form is "If p, then q." Statement p is the hypothesis and statement q is the conclusion.
2) Productive reasoning consists of logical assertions from known facts: a conditional.
3) A biconditional is conditional where the condition and the conclusion imply one another. A biconditional starts with the words "if and only if." For example, "If and only if p, then q" means both that p implies q and q implies p.
Using #1 for the particular case we're discussing:
"If one believes God exists in reality, then Satan exists in reality."
Using #3: "If and only if one believes God exists in reality, then Satan exists in reality."

>"I reject the punitive, unmerciful God who burns up souls forever in hellfire.
You reject the merciful, omnipresent God that all things belong to, that is the source and destination of all things."<
I would also reject a punitive, unmerciful god who burns up souls forever in hellfire. The God I know touches everyone with love and desires everyone to join him. Because of the bitterness and hatred that Satan has for God, he enjoys luring as many people as he can convince to join him in "hellfire" and enjoys punishing and torturing throughout eternity.
I embrace the merciful, omnipresent God and love him with all my heart and soul.
>"Nothing can exist separate from God. The spiritual link is always present for all beings, the distance from God is imagined. Separation is a dream."<
Satan and evil exist separate from God. People who embrace Satan, have a spiritual link with him, not God.
>"You state that "God created humanity", so I conclude you believe in God and creation?"<
Yes.
>"The world and all of the imagined "individuals" are in reality just a dream of separation."<
Sounds kind of like The Matrix and some other movies I've seen :) Needless to say, "imagined individuals" and that's not one of the beliefs of Christianity.
>"Does God know what it is like to be Suzie? To know what Suzie knows, feel what Suzie feels, her fears, loves, thoughts, deepest desires? Does God know what it is like to be Suzie as a seemingly separate person, to feel limited in time and space, to be subject to ageing and death?"<
Most definitely! Otherwise I couldn't very well be spiritually linked with him or have a personal relationship with him. The whole point and importance of faith would be moot and Christianity wouldn't exist. Here's just one simple verse that illustrates the principle that God knows us very well:
"But the very hairs of your head are all numbered" (ironically from the book of Matthew lol) - Matthew 10:30
If he knows and cares about something as minor as my hair, he certainly knows "what Suzie knows, feel what Suzie feels, her fears, loves, thoughts, deepest desires", etc.

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