Note: the young (23) reader I speak about below wrote public comments and several emails to me, daring me to refute them while boldly proclaiming her superior maturity, understanding and intellectual prowess. Once I responded publicly to the public comments (over a half dozen comments and another dozen emails), the reader made lame threats to take legal action against me because I didn’t ask permission to respond to the comments and email publicly (if this reader knew ANYTHING about the 1st Amendment journalism laws, she would know it’s a comical threat and an embarrassment to her superior intellect). However, as I original wrote, my intention is to teach, not to embarrass an individual. While this young arrogant mind of liberal mush will think her threats made me remove her name, my readers will know I simply did it because I don’t use my forums to bully readers. She became childish in her emails and responses to me. A shame… she could have learned something.
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Our electronic, soundbite-driven, passive-entertainment culture has robbed most people of one of the most important skills you should have: critical thinking.
That’s not the ability to criticize… we are TOO good at that. Critical thinking is the ability dissect communication logically, see past emotional rhetoric, and recognize straw man or irrelevant arguments. I often receive comments and emails full of the typical soft, baseless, emotion-filled reasoning that has become the norm today when discussing issues.
My new friend [the Commenter] (and I do consider her a friend because she was polite and respectful with her disagreement, though with a tad bit of youthful haughtiness) sent a comment yesterday that is an example of what I consider to be a prime example of the emotional, unexamined and uncritical thinking that has captured our much of our society, Christians included. As I respond here, it is not my intent to embarrass [the Commenter], or make it a “me versus her” publicly. She wrote a public comment, and I am responding publicly; hopefully with the same spirit of honest opinion in which she communicated.
She did write me several times and was fairly direct in her criticism, daring me to refute anything she said (as if my lack of refutation to that point was a sign that I was incapable of it… chalk that up to her 23 yr old age). I do give her points for being civil and having the courage to put her name to her comments unlike the typical coward named “Anonymous”.
I like to have reasons for why I write. I get no joy simply trying to prove I’m right, arguing or rebuking someone. My reason for posting this response is 1) to generally teach people to examine, evaluate and answer common cultural views (critical thinking), and 2) I hope [the Commenter] will take an honest look at what I have to say and come to realize that her points are built on very shaky and in some cases non-existent foundations.
[the Commenter] sounds like a reasonable, sincere person seeking the truth. I’m hoping maybe she’ll consider my additional thoughts with an open mind to see that they are indeed build on a solid, demonstrable foundation… not emotion or simply beliefs I’ve just conjured up that work for me personally.
Her first note in its entirety… then I’ll comment on each thought.
I don’t mean to be rude or attack your beliefs at all, but you do realize that the Bible isn’t necessarily accurate as to what God meant for it to say, don’t you? Sinful, fallible men transcribed the Bible while God told them what to write and they could have easily made a mistake or added their own words into it. Not to mention that it’s been revised and translated dozens of times through the years, also by sinful, fallible men who could have easily made mistakes. Do you think God took away those men’s Free Will, which would be an unBiblical idea in and of itself, since God gave us Free Will for a reason? Or can you see why many Christians (including myself, Haggard, and Boltz) take the Bible with a grain of salt, and prefer actually talking to God in prayer to blindly trusting an ordinary book?
Are you identifying yourself as homosexual? If yes, I would encourage this: we should not let any sin that God clearly identifies as sin become our reason to doubt His Word. Who do you trust? Sinful men who can change and ignore the Bible at will? Or your Creator who has lovingly informed us what He considers sin?
I struggle with over eating and my weight? Do I ignore Scripture about gluttony and self discipline in order to accommodate the specific sin I struggle with? Of course not. Neither should homosexuals.
I mean, when I want to know whether or not something is sinful, I ask God through prayer. Why not try that, instead of making the huge assumption that the Bible does indeed say what God wanted it to say? In fact, ask God right now if homosexuality is actually a sin. Don’t just expect him to say “yes,” but really listen for his still, small voice to give you a response.
As for the idea that 98% of terrorists are Muslims, I’m curious as to where you got that statistic from. There are thousands of Israeli terrorists who are Jewish, and there are atheistic terrorists (do the names Mao and Stalin ring a bell?), Hindu terrorists, and even Christian terrorists, too. Terrorism is not solely limited to Muslim individuals, nor are all Muslims terrorists. I urge you to do some unbiased research on this topic (which means not just limiting yourself to right-wing websites). Also, keep in mind the phrase “What Would Jesus Do?” I highly doubt Jesus would have promoted hatred and fear towards Muslims like you just did. (And yes, it is hateful to claim that all Muslims are terrorists, especially when you haven’t even met the large majority of Muslims.)
God bless you today and always,
Now my response:
[The Commenter]: I don’t mean to be rude or attack your beliefs at all,
Of course you mean to attack my beliefs. That’s the whole point of your communication to me. We’ve lost the ability to honestly “argue” in this country. We have to preface all our differences with “I’m not saying something negative about your beliefs, but…”
By doing this, we create this air of moral high ground by making sure we clarify that we would NEVER put down someone’s beliefs… right before we begin doing just that. People need to quit being politically correct hyper-sensitive weenies. I don’t think everyone agrees with me. To disagree is not “attacking”, it’s disagreeing… unless of course you are disagreeing with a liberal or Biblically illiterate person. Then you are “attacking” or “bashing” their beliefs or opinion. It’s such a juvenile way to have discourse.
[The Commenter]: but you do realize that the Bible isn’t necessarily accurate as to what God meant for it to say, don’t you?
This is one of those totally baseless comments made in complete ignorance of the facts. The Bible has withstood 2000+ years of skeptics and criticism. Beyond a small number of perfectly explainable textual differences in the original manuscripts (none of which have any bearing on matter of doctrine, harmony of message or accuracy of facts), skeptics have yet (despite relentless effort) to find ANYTHING demonstrably inaccurate about the Bible. The Bible is one of the most (if not THE most) well documented, substantiated and examined texts in all of human history.
It is INDEED the Book God intended us to have, accurately and fully communicating His Will and Plan to us. So [the Commenter], do you realize what you said is 100% wrong? If not, please come forward with your proof that the Bible we have today, the commonly accepted versions, is not “accurate”, and not what God meant to say.
If you manage to do that (as opposed to getting some of the same old unproven, tired and silly “Bible errors” you’ll find posted on equally silly atheistic websites), then you’ll indeed become famous overnight because no one else has done it in a couple of thousand years. In fact, I’ll be your first promoter. Send me irrefutable proof the Bible cannot be trusted to accurately communicate what God meant, and I’ll renounce my Christianity publicly on all my blogs and present your proof to all my readers.
[The Commenter]: Sinful, fallible men transcribed the Bible while God told them what to write and they could have easily made a mistake or added their own words into it.
You envision a very small god [Commenter]. Did God not know men are fallible? Is the omniscient, omnipresent Creator of the Universe incapable of inspiring men to write what He wants? Even through human fallibility, is God incapable of making sure what He wanted compiled into the Bible was indeed what was final?
Is the Almighty Jehovah God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob impotent at the hands of sinful men whom He entrusted to pen His Word under His inspiration? Even taking your premise at face value, the first challenge remains: present your irrefutable proof that sinful men messed up God’s Word so that it now cannot be trusted.
[The Commenter]: Not to mention that it’s been revised and translated dozens of times through the years, also by sinful, fallible men who could have easily made mistakes. Do you think God took away those men’s Free Will, which would be an unBiblical idea in and of itself, since God gave us Free Will for a reason?
You venture into theology that obviously you have a shallow understanding of. Free will does not negate God’s sovereignty, omniscience or perfection. Again, your concept leaves the Creator of Man impotent before the hands of man… an idea which makes your god no God at all.
[The Commenter]: Or can you see why many Christians (including myself, Haggard, and Boltz) take the Bible with a grain of salt, and prefer actually talking to God in prayer to blindly trusting an ordinary book?
And that is exactly the problem. Rather than taking God’s Word as transcendent over man’s, you treat it as a suggestion you can take or leave… or worse, an “inaccuracy” that can’t be trusted.
Given your list, do you identify with the homosexual ideas Haggard and Boltz profess? They are examples of two men who have let a sin they wish to indulge in become more important than obeying God. That God proclaims homosexuality a sin is abundantly and plainly clear to everyone accept those who simply don’t WANT the Bible to say that.
Sin is sin. I struggle with eating too much. I was born that way, right? Therefore, God must want me that way and the verses about gluttony and self discipline don’t really mean what they say.
Boltz and Haggard do a grave disservice to struggling Christians by making them feel like a clearly proclaimed sin is not sin at all but rather just part of their journey to God. God understands and will overlook whatever we choose to do if we are really sincere about it and think we have no choice. God will not overlook indulging in homosexuality any more than He will overlook stealing, rape, gluttony, gossip or child molestation. Or should we now make those non-sins too and claim people are just born that way?
As a side note, there is some truth to”people are born that way”… yep, we are all born SINFUL. We all have particular sins we are predisposed to. Only homosexuals want to claim “being born that way” is a special status that is NOT sinful in God’s eyes.
[The Commenter]: I mean, when I want to know whether or not something is sinful, I ask God through prayer.
So you trust your experience, your intuition, your feelings, your perception of what God is saying directly to you more than you trust His specific Written Word? Who is right then? What if God says to you “homosexuality is okay with me” and I pray and God says “homosexuality is a sin”? Who is right? We can’t both be right because they are polar opposites. This is why God gave us the Bible. We need something that is higher than our opinion, that transcends our feelings, that doesn’t equivocate to our perceptions.
To rely on your own “asking God” as the rule means there are NO standards, NO absolutes, ie. NO SIN. Why? Because feelings, emotions, self-deceit and wickedness clouds our perception and understanding. We can justify, cleanse and excuse ANY sin by relying our own perception of what God is saying to us. That’s why we have an objective, absolute, accurate and reliable standard: The Bible.
[The Commenter]: Why not try that, instead of making the huge assumption that the Bible does indeed say what God wanted it to say?
Because I would rather serve a God who is big enough to deliver His timeless, unchanging Word to me than your god who is so unreliable that we have nothing but our own personal convictions to guide us… just hope for the best even though I can find 99 people out of hundred who come up with different versions of “what God is saying” to them.
[The Commenter]: In fact, ask God right now if homosexuality is actually a sin. Don’t just expect him to say “yes,” but really listen for his still, small voice to give you a response.
To ignore His plainly written laws, command and proclamations about a sin in exchange for a inner “still, small voice” is a recipe for deception which has become true for myriads of people. I don’t need to listen for a small inner voice to contradict something God has plainly stated. Have you ever considered that the still small voice you are hearing could be your very own voice deceiving you, telling you what you want to hear? Or worse, the voice of the Deceiver himself? God’s still small voice NEVER contradicts God’s Written Word. If it does, then it’s not God talking to you.
[The Commenter]: As for the idea that 98% of terrorists are Muslims, I’m curious as to where you got that statistic from. There are thousands of Israeli terrorists who are Jewish, and there are atheistic terrorists (do the names Mao and Stalin ring a bell?), Hindu terrorists, and even Christian terrorists, too.
Yawn. Tired politically-correct liberal soundbites. [The Commenter], search the news today. Find all the wars and conflicts across the globe. Who is in the middle of almost all of them?
Israeli terrorists? While I’m sure there are individual cases of Israeli’s doing bad things, the idea they are just another group of terrorists is absurd. They have made endless concessions to the Palestinians and Muslims only to be met with suicide bombers, rocket attacks and broken promises. Defending yourself is not terrorism. This is one argument I tire of quickly because its NOTHING more than worn out liberal news talking points.
Why don’t you send me all the links and news clippings about genuine Christians who are out there committing terrorist acts today? That’s about enough said on that point.
[The Commenter]: Terrorism is not solely limited to Muslim individuals, nor are all Muslims terrorists. I urge you to do some unbiased research on this topic (which means not just limiting yourself to right-wing websites).
No one, including me, EVER claims all Muslims are terrorists. But almost all terrorists today are Muslims. That’s not even arguable.
I chuckle when folks like you [the Commenter] tell me I need to do some unbiased research following your long string of highly biased liberal talking points.
[The Commenter]: Also, keep in mind the phrase “What Would Jesus Do?” I highly doubt Jesus would have promoted hatred and fear towards Muslims like you just did. (And yes, it is hateful to claim that all Muslims are terrorists, especially when you haven’t even met the large majority of Muslims.)
Once again, you misspeak. I never claimed all Muslims are terrorists. I claimed almost all terrorist today are Muslim. Please refute that fact if it is not true. I haven’t met any actual Muslim terrorists either, have you? In fact, you haven’t met a “large majority of Muslims” either… so how can you declare they are NOT terrorists (just using your logic)?
And please stop being hypocritical. You are inciting hatred against Christians by portraying us people deceived by a untrustworthy book. Very judgmental of you even though the Bible says “don’t judge”, right? That’s not what it says, but I thought I would toss a favorite liberal argument back at you.
[The Commenter]: God bless you today and always,
Thank you but why would I care for the blessing of a god that cannot be trusted and is not powerful enough to even communicate to us something that authentic and trustworthy? I understand the sentiment, and it is kind but the reality is, if your god cannot give me firm and unchangeable answers for life, tell me what he expects, and give me a standard by which to measure that is transcendent of frail and ever-changing humans, what good is it’s blessing?
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[the Commenter] continued to email me with some additional predictable responses:
[The Commenter]: If you can refute what I just said, then why didn’t you even try? I mean, I don’t want to turn this into an argument, but I just don’t see the point in simply saying “I can refute that” and then refusing to actually try to refute it at all.
[The Commenter], you are correct but naive, flavored with a sprinkling of youthful arrogance. Just because someone doesn’t jump right on a refutation doesn’t mean you have them cornered, stymied, unable to respond. Much of your response to me that is not published here was fairly juvenile argument-games. Your communication comes across as “I’ll outsmart you no matter what you say…. nah-nuh-nah-nuh-boo-boo”. You work through my comments with what you apparently believe is a lawyer-like and superior intellect and frankly, it comes across more like adolescent gamesmanship.
[The Commenter]: And what emotional arguments have I used thus far, anyways?
It’s hard to seriously answer that [The Commenter]. Not one single argument or comment you’ve made is not based in personal feeling and emotion. The only way I know how to answer is to ask you to repeat ONE single comment you’ve made thus far that is presented with and because of fact, not emotion.
[The Commenter]: And yes, I am somewhat young (I’m 23 years old, though that seems quite old to me), but that doesn’t discredit what I’m saying. Just because you’re older than I am doesn’t mean that you’re always right and I’m always wrong.
No one said anything of the sort. I don’t discredit youth (the Bible you don’t trust teaches us that). However, youth of today give themselves FAR too much credit while simultaneously discounting age and wisdom. There’s no lack of self esteem in our young adults when it comes to valuing their own wisdom.
I asked your age because it does matter. Only the American youth of today, who place very little or no value on age and wisdom, seem to think that the fact I’m twice your age has little bearing on whether or not I’m smarter, more experienced, more wise, more educated and better able to critically think.
When I was your age, I placed great value on the wisdom of those older, and still do to this day. It has served me well.
That doesn’t mean you are automatically wrong, nor am I automatically right… but a prudent and wise approach for your age would be to cautiously defer and be ready to HEAR (really hear) the wisdom of someone twice your age; someone who has spent 25+ years deeply studying, searching, proving, pondering and forming opinion and belief built on a strong foundation of fact, evidence and experience.
I do not write my opinions and conclusions lightly. You speak to me as if I’m an immature and impulsive baby Christian who spouts rhetoric and emotion without introspection. You are sorely wrong my dear. Disagreement and strong rebuke are not “insults”. Frank rebuttal is not about feelings.
You speak in terms of emotion which is a primary fault of how young adults are taught to think today. It’s all about what you feel, what you think, what you believe… not about presenting strong conclusions and
arguments based on solid foundations that transcend your emotions or the latest cultural soundbites. You sound like you have a good head on your shoulders.
I hope you’ll benefit from our exchanges and approach it from a viewpoint of “maybe I can learn something from this 45 year old, well educated, Biblically sound, father of 7 who has spent a lifetime writing, teaching and counseling others…” Though apparently arrogant dares like “Care to try to refute me?” make me wonder.
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What’s the point?
We need to learn to recognize and respond to the emotional soundbite “truth” that is so prevalent today. Christians are far too intimidated by what amounts to baseless, politically correct accusations and feelings-based rhetoric meant to demonize, confuse and cower us into submission or silence.
We aren’t doing the world, and young people like [The Commenter], any favors by being unable or unwilling to communicate with them in loving but frank truth.