Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church Replies

Here's the reply from the pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church.
Hey Robert,
Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me. I enjoy reading about your perceptions and appreciate you taking the time to email them to me. You made some good points, and I can honestly say you are the most "positive" atheist I have met. Although, I still believe technically you're agnostic, but that's beside the point.

I had wondered what steered you away from biblical Christianity, now I know. I agree with you that the OT laws seemed harsh and to us "immoral", however, you must understand that the command to stone was not for an outburst of anger, not cleaning their room, or saying a swear word. It was reserved only for the young person who had become slave to their sensual appetites, with a hardened heart, calloused conscience and wreaking havoc with their rebellion. The institution of the family is foundational to all societies, and to preserve this God commands order. Also, children were the inheritance and "retirement" for their parents that were worthy of honor. God created the society, God creates the rules to govern His society.

I want to address the "us against them" mentality. The battle is not against flesh and blood but against spiritual darkness in the world. I think you would agree that one must decide what they believe, either in creation or evolution, trusting in God or random chance. There are only 2 choices for people to make, belief or unbelief, and Jesus said in Matthew 12:30 and Luke 11:23 that you are either for me or against me. We both have faith systems, Robert, because neither you nor I can prove scientifically God's existence or lack thereof. Science means knowledge and nobody was there to scientifically observe creation to "prove" anything, you must take it by faith. So our belief system is in place and we seek to promote our beliefs and
get others to accept them.

I appreciate your honesty with "not believing", and I will be sensitive to that person that might be in the congregation. However, Robert, I cannot tell them that it's OK to persist in unbelief because the Bible repeatedly says otherwise. I must be true to the Bible and my convictions. And like I told you last summer, it's all
about Jesus and if you reject who Jesus is and what He did for you (and the whole world) you will be ruined forever. Jesus said His message would offend people and that the way was narrow. He makes the rules, not me.

It is refreshing to converse with someone like yourself who pleasantly presents their views, unlike many of your "free-thinkers". I'm also proud to be superstitious-free because Jesus said that if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (Jn. 8.36) I once was a slave to a legalistic religion that did seek to control me by fear, but then God saved me by losing me religion and giving me a
relationship.I'm sorry to hear about your turmoil in your family, you made some valid points concerning that issue and if anything they should reach out to you more by demonstrating the love of Christ. However, it is easier to shun and try to disgrace someone. But they realize the importance of your decision and understand the implications. I will pray that they would not deprive you of their visits to you.I hope this helps clarify me viewpoint.
Thanks for reading,
Heath
I'm going to reply to him privately. However, let me know what you think of his reply.

15 comments:

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

I think he put a lot of thought into his response and, to me, that says a lot about his character.

Of course, I have problems with his worldview, but the overall tone of his letter was much better than I hoped, given his church signs.

"I cannot tell them that it's OK to persist in unbelief because the Bible repeatedly says otherwise."

It's not about it being ok or not ok, it's about honesty. How cruel is it to say that he understands disbelief, but condemns it at the same time?

GCT said...

Personally, I think his response is logically fallacious (in many spots, like the false dichotomy between faith and random chance) and that he doesn't repudiate the "us against them" at all. In fact, he seems to revel in it by quoting Jesus.

Also, it's not that Jesus's message "offends" people. That's a common tactic by apologists - to try to devalue the arguments against their faith by claiming that it's just someone taking offense or someone is complaining or some other such thing. This is highly disrespectful IMO, although I don't think it was intended to be that way.

I also object to the swipes at other "free-thinkers." When confronted with a "free-thinker" that does not hold up to his stereotype, he simply claims that you are one of them (in the first paragraph) and then confirms to himself that "free-thinkers" are rude, evil, etc.

GCT said...

Oops...

In my last paragraph I meant to say that confronted with a "free-thinker" that does not conform to his stereotype, he claims that you are NOT one of them (insisting that you are agnostic instead).

Lorena said...

"Also, children were the inheritance and "retirement" for their parents that were worthy of honor."

Oh, how noble of God.

Since it doesn't look you are a good prospect to support the folks in their old age, we are going to have you stoned to dead!

The Christian God should send fire from heaven every time His followers defend Him so inadequately.

The battle is not against flesh and blood but against spiritual darkness in the world.

I have to agree here. Much darkness is distributed in the world by Christians threatening non-followers with eternal death in hell--now, that's dark.

There are only 2 choices for people to make, belief or unbelief, and Jesus said in Matthew 12:30 and Luke 11:23 that you are either for me or against me.

Frankly, I am proud to stand against Jesus. It is much more humane and loving.

if you reject who Jesus is and what He did for you (and the whole world) you will be ruined forever.

Ah yes, the old trick about he loves you, he died for you, but if you don't like him he is going to slowly roast you in hell forever. Now, that's dark. No wonder Christianity is such a dark force in the world.

I'm also proud to be superstitious-free because Jesus said that if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed

Sure, Jesus isn't superstition. Not at all! He walked on water and nobody other than his disciples believed it, so it didn't get written down by an independent source. But hey, he isn't superstition.

Robert Madewell said...

GCT said, "... he claims that you are NOT one of them (insisting that you are agnostic instead)."

The funny thing is that I have met several other atheists and I doubt that very many of them would conform to Heath's stereotype of them. All of the attendees at my free-thought meetings are super-nice, thoughtful, considerate, and never dismissive. I doubt that he'd think of them as "Athiests" either.

He's probably more familiar with the more militant atheists that have blogs with blasphemous names like, "Why I Hate Jesus". (Just kidding, I couldn't help myself!)

GCT said...

Arghhh, I've been found out.

Darrel said...

PASTOR:
I agree with you that the OT laws seemed harsh and to us "immoral"

DAR
I agree with the pastor that the Hebrew scriptures "seemed harsh and to us immoral" but only to the extent that (god endorsed) slavery, polygamy, human sacrifice, rape, genocide and cannibalism not only "seem harsh" but are indeed immoral.

Funny how to Christian adjusted morals these things "seem harsh" and immoral yet "to us" godless secularists they actually are immoral. And we can even say this without the weasel words!

PASTOR:
you must understand that the command to stone was not for an outburst of anger, not cleaning their room, or saying a swear word. It was reserved only for...

DAR
It's important to point out that all of these "conditions" are inventions from the good pastors bottom. There are no verses to support any of it. He has imported modern secular values to the book and made these things up, completely. That is the job his congregation hires him for. He even went to school for it (apparently not a very good one).

PASTOR: The institution of the family is foundational to all societies, and to preserve this God commands order.

DAR
Yeah right. God cares about families. I had a friend once address this claim with this question:

"Regarding Family Values in the Bible: "Perhaps you could tell us a model family in the Bible that I can take as a guide? One husband, just one wife, a few children, born by natural means, no murder, no incest, no polygamy."

Point being, there isn't one. Also observe how Jesus treated his family, especially his mother.

more in a bit,

Darrel.

Darrel said...

PASTOR
Jesus said in Matthew 12:30 and Luke 11:23 that you are either for me or against me.


DAR
And at Mark 9:40 Jesus flatly contradicted himself and said the opposite. This was perhaps the first Bible contradiction I found (as a child). My mother had me call the pastor after church to ask for an explanation. Suffice to say, his explanation didn't suffice.

Here is a good proper set up and roast of Jesus' contradictory claims here, written by a fellow on Farrell Till's Bible errancy list:

***
"(A) MT 12:30 Jesus says "He who is not for me is against me"

(B) MK 9:40 Jesus says "Whoever is not against us is for us"

There can only be three general positions someone can hold concerning Jesus. They are (1)For, (2)Against, and (3)Indifferent.

It should be obvious that who is for you is for you, and who is against you is against you.

That leaves the indifferent party left to be discussed.

We shall explore the fate of the indifferent party (3) in case (A) "He who is not for me is against me"

Here, the indifferent party (3) is not for Jesus. (3) is not Against
Jesus either. But, since (3) is NOT FOR Jesus, (3) becomes AGAINST Jesus according to (A). Thus, (3)=(2) according to (A).

Now, we shall examine the fate of the indifferent party (3) in (B)
"Whoever is not against us is for us"

Here, the indifferent party (3) is not for Jesus. (3) is not Against
Jesus either. But, since (3) is NOT AGAINST Jesus, (3) becomes FOR Jesus according to (B). Thus, (3)=(1) according to (B).

Thus, we have (3)=(2) AND (3)=(1) according to (A) and (B), respectively.

Equating the expressions using the identity (3)=(3), we have

(3)=(2)=(3)=(1)

Which gives us

(2) = (1)

or

Against = For

This is CLEARLY a contradiction. The indifferent party cannot be on both sides at the same time." --RJV

Darrel said...

PASTOR: Science means knowledge...

DAR
Actually, it doesn't. The word refers to a method of discerning knowledge, or facts, about the material world. And when we use this method called science it gives us good, accurate, testable knowledge about the world around us, including the fact that the Bible is wrong, almost without exception, about what it says about the world around us.

PASTOR: I'm also proud to be superstitious-free because Jesus said that if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

DAR
Apparently the good pastor doesn't know what the word "superstition" means either. And yet he's made an entire career out of peddling it!

Consider the irony of someone believing the following claims are literally true while at the same time claiming to be "superstition-free."

I'll limit myself to 19 examples:

***
Asses can speak (Num 22:27),

frogs covered an entire country (Exod 8:6-7);

iron ax floats (2Kings 6:5-7);

languages originated at Babel (Gen 11:7)

millions of species were husbanded on a small ark (Gen 7:4);

monsters with multiple heads exist (Ezek 1:5-11);

the mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds (Matt 13:31-2);

patterns seen by mother influence appearance of offspring (Gen 30:37-9);

people are able to safely handle deadly snakes and drink poison (Mark 16:17-8);

person turns into a pillar of salt (Gen 19:26);

rabbits chew the cud (Lev 11:6);

rainbow created long after sun and rain (Gen 9:13);

resurrections are a dime a dozen (1 Kings 17:21-3,...);

snakes can talk (Gen 3:1-5);

stars can fall to earth (Rev 6:13, Mark 13:25);

sticks turn into snakes and vice-versa (Exod 4:2-4);

sun stands still (Josh 10:13, Hab 3:11, Job 9:7);

sun goes "backwards" (Isaiah 38:8);

humans can walk on water (Matt 14:25, Mark 6:48, John 6:19);

etc.

Robert Madewell said...

Thanks for the break down, Darrel.

I find it interesting that while Heath obviously has modern morals, he is forced to defend that passage because of his stand that the Bible must be 100% correct. I don't take that stand, so I can use Occam's Razor to determine that the Bible is wrong, since that explaination is the simplest.

It just proves that most christians (I think Heath and my dad are in this category) do not take every verse of the Bible literally. Heath, like most christians, preach the good parts and ignore the obviously bad parts. You'll just never get him to admit it. I really don't understand why they must take the view that the Bible is inerrant. It obviously is not. If it was, they could open the Bible at a random place and find something good to preach on. Trust me, you're more likely to find either horrible crap or boring stuff than actual good advice if you do that.

Robert Madewell said...

"We both have faith systems, Robert, because neither you nor I can prove scientifically God's existence or lack thereof."

I think I should point out something here. I have in the past pointed out to this minister that atheism and agnosticism are not mutually exclusive. You can actually be agnostic and atheistic at the same time. You can also be agnostic and theistic at the same time as well. I think the admission by Heath that he can't prove that God exists scientifically should be considered an admission of agnosticism. That makes him an Agnostic Theist.

Anonymous said...

I'll post here what I posted on the FFForums, and I'll add a bit:

I always find it insulting that religious Joe Schmoes (or is that Joe Schmucks?) think that they can take at all that we tell them about our thought processes and considerations in support of our atheistic beliefs, look at them fleetingly through their rose-tinted glasses, and conclude that they understand our beliefs better than we do. But really, it's just more of the same type of absurdity that keeps them from abandoning their ridiculous beliefs.

Plus:
Even beside the false dichotomy fallacy, somebody should call him on the "random chance" canard. Anybody who isn't an idiot regarding evolution knows that "random chance" is only part of the equation.

Robert might be the most "positive" atheist this guy has ever met because he (the pastor) locks himself in his own little fantasy world where the only atheists he "meets" are those that people of his ilk always ignorantly bash. Why, when I joined Robert just to watch him chat online with some fundies local to him, my intent was to shut up and watch him do his thing. I think that my experiences have left me more jaded, and I quickly jumped in because the fundies were continuously passively insulting beliefs that weren't theirs.
(I say this with no intent of portraying Robert as anything but entirely positive; in watching him deal with the cuckoos, he certainly was extremely polite and positive.)

--SAV

Robert Madewell said...

Thanks Sav,

It's my custom to "kill'em with kindness." They always expect atheists to be loud, obnoxious, and dismissive. The truth is that I have met far more theists that fit that description than atheists. Of course my data may be biased because I have met far more theists than atheists, but I still think it says something.

I still haven't replied to him. I sat down to write a letter yesterday and when I read it aloud to myself, I didn't like the tone, so I deleted it. I'll start all over. Maybe, I can write a good letter and still keep the tone mild. I'll most certainly mention the false dichotomies (there's 2 or 3 there). I'd also like to mention his obligation to defend a biblical atrocity, based soley on his doctrine of inerrancy.

Anonymous said...

I find it absurd that he would defend (and tacitly approve) the idea of stoning one's child to death in any circumstance. While even today he would probably preach a message of love, understanding, and forgiveness, even when dealing with those who are "slaves to their sensual appetites", that was too good for them thousands of years ago.

Unfortunately, this is a double standard with many Xtians. "Well, that's OT, not NT. We believe NT." But, according to Jesus himself, God's laws will persist until the end of time (Matthew 5:18). So it quite possibly may be more appropriate to stone drug addicts to death than aid in their recovery.

Anonymous said...

I think how interesting that Heath goes from god to Jesus for backup to his apologetic logic.
Also your relatives should let you see their children but they do have you in their best interest.
They do not want you to go to hell for rejecting biblical fact.
He is talking down to you but trying to be civil, he has after all the word of god on his side.
Nothing new in his letter, the same old story line for the last two thousand years.
ibex