Thursday, May 24, 2012

FacePalm of the Day - Debunking Christianity: In Defense of the Non-Ethics of Christianity

It's always gratifying when someone who disagrees with you decides to continue the conversation. This is in response to a follow-up article responding to my criticisms. Good. Let's see if there is improvement. 

In this post, I am going to build upon one of my previous posts, namely, The Non-Ethics of Christianity, in order to further illustrate how the Pauline version of Christianity that has been adopted by the majority of Christians in our society (and many non-Christians as well) leads to moral laxity. I will use two examples of Christians who purport to undermine my case, but who in fact, support my case, and illustrate why the Pauline version of Christianity leads to moral laxity.

In case, it wasn't clear before, it cannot be shown that Paul's teaching contradicted Jesus' in the slightest. Paul said very clearly that he would never agree that we should ever be morally lax. 

In my previous post, I cited the fulfillment passages of Matt. 5:17-20, to show that according to Jesus, believers are suppose to follow all of the laws and that they are to do the right thing.

Hmmm...where does Paul say that we shouldn't do the right thing? Further, what does Paul believe the right thing is?

Marcus McElhaney of the "What had happen' was.... blog responded:
Take some time and really reflect on what Jesus said. Is Jesus talking about dietary laws? What about the law about picking up sticks on the sabbath? Or what about the ceremonial laws no one can follow now that there is no Temple nor Tabernacle? No, no, and no. Jesus tells us what he's referring to and what does it mean to be more righteous that the Pharisees and the teachers of the law in verses 21-48. See how everything He talks about can be traced to the words in the law but Jesus takes them a step farther so it's not just about doing the right thing. It is also about desiring and thinking the right things.
So far, Marcus seems to be in agreement with me in that all of the laws apply. He even goes further and claims that it is not just about doing the right thing, but one is to even desire and think the right thing too. So far, we are in agreement.

Well no, I don't think we agree. I don't think so because there is no indication that the writer believes that all the ceremonial laws apply today or not. Which is it? If they do, then we have Jesus contradicting himself when he declared all foods clean. I don't accept that at all. Jesus made a distinction between the ceremonial laws and moral laws.Why wouldn't you?

18 “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? 19 For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)
20 He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. - Mark 7:18-20

So, no I would not say that all 600+ laws found in the Torah is for us today. The moral law is. Don't forget the persecution the Jewish religious leaders used to try to lie on Jesus because they didn't think he obeyed the Sabbath laws because he had the audacity to heal people  on the Sabbath and improve their lives. The nerve of him.

Next, he quotes me:

"The belief that Christians do not have to follow the laws came from Paul. According to Paul, Christians are in essence, "lawless." This makes "sin" something of a paradox because a sin is defined as a transgression against God's laws--but there are no laws!"

Marcus responds, with a corresponding Bible passage:
Paul never said that. Funny how in the 21st Century the same charge is being brought up as was tried against him when he was alive.  
7 Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” 8 Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is just! 9 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. - Romans 3:7-9 
Now, we are coming to where I and Christians like Marcus split ways. I argued that according to Jesus you are not free from the law, i.e., not free to do anything, and it is possible to be perfect.

Jesus did not teach that we can be perfect (I'm assuming that "perfect" here mean "sinless"). In Matthew 5:17-20 does not refer to sinless perfection. Does anyone think that if people could be sinless that Jesus would need to be crucified to atone for our sin? If we weren't so hopelessly enslaved to sin, we would not have needed a propitiatory sacrifice. I wonder why there isn't any refutation on the way I explained what the passage above says. Oh well, If you didn't like what Paul wrote, you will like what Jesus said even less. 

24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.” - John 8:24

However, Marcus, following Paul, adopts the opposite view. Paul claims you can do anything and that you are under the power of sin and so will do anything, good or bad; but you ought not do bad things because not everything will be good for you; but then again you are under the power of sin and so can not help yourself;....--the great Christian paradox and dilemma begins!

Romans 7 and 8 lays this out much clearer. Paul is making the case for why Jesus is essential and why we need Jesus. I disagree that Paul teaches that you should control yourself because not everything is good for us. No, we do good because we Love God and that the reason Jesus redeemed us was so that we can do the good works that God has set up for us to do! 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. - Ephesians 2:8-10

Marcus continues:
"Who really thinks they are perfect in their choices and they do make the right choices. Most people don't make the wrong choices on purpose. They do what they think is best for them. The problem is that we don't know better than God does about what is best for us. We are flawed. Broken. That's not saying that we never do anything good. But when we do, that was God, even if we don't know it or recognize it coming from Him. We are responsible for our sin because that is what we want to do. It's hard to accept that we are so messed up it took so much to redeem us, but that is the good news: God loves us that much. So how do we sum up ethical Christianity: 
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. - Galatians 5:13,14" 
Well, Jesus thought you could be perfect and make right choices and that it is possible to do so.

Really? Where did Jesus say that? We have no hope of doing so 100% apart from Him. Remember that if you break one law, you break them all. All of us deserve hell. Jesus came to save us from that.

Jesus said nothing about being flawed and broken and therefore unable to be perfect and make right choices! To paraphrase Marcus, If a man tortures a child and then he is sorry for it, I mean, REALLY sorry for it, then as long as he agrees/believes in God/Jesus, "hell is off the table." (As he notes later on in his post.)

Hell is off the table because Jesus took the punishment for all of our sin. If you die in your sin you will be in hell right along with the man who tortured a child and never repented.  It's not just being sorry and I pointed this out in the post - you must repent - that means stop and do good instead.  We are all sinners and no better than the "man who tortures children". Jesus said no one comes to the God except through Him. Why?

11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. - Matthew 9:11-13

Who is good?

According to Mark 10:17-19, Jesus said no one. That means no one is righteous either. Which is why we need a savior!

Now note, Marcus goes on to say that:
"...then you do all you can to never do it again - trusting God to forgive you.
Meaning, its NOT that believers DON'T do it again--only that they TRY not to. Why, there are probably sexual molesters and serial killers that feel real remorse for their crimes, and they try not to do it again--and in the Christian system, as long as they are sorry and they truly mean it, and TRY to be good--that's all that matters. THIS, according to Paul's perversion of the text.

How can Paul pervert a text he wrote?  But leaving that aside, this is where you can't understand what Christianity is without God. The Holy Spirit helps you to stop sinning. The article's author seems focus on big sins like the crimes people  are going to jail for or executed for.Those are not things you can do by accident. Can you accidentally murder someone? No. If you have to try not to murder people or try not to molest people then you have not been born again.

According Jesus however, believers are not free to do whatever they want.

True believers in Jesus don't do what we want. We do what Jesus wants. 

According to Jesus, they are to follow all the laws and and the prophets and you are subject to judgement according to the laws. Jesus commands: "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matt 5:48

The Greek "perfect" does not mean sinless. I means mature, perfect, and complete. 

How did Jesus tell us to be fulfill the Law and the Prophets?

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[f] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[g] There is no commandment greater than these.”
32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.- Mark 12:28-34

Marcus makes reference to Matt 5:21-48. But now note how MARCUS PROVES MY POST, as he illustrates the Christian confusion and dilemma. He states that:
"'s not just about doing the right thing. It is also about desiring and thinking the right things."
But then he goes on to tell us that believers CANNOT do the right things, as you are not "perfect," you are flawed and broken!

Actually I said that everyone - all humanity is broken.

But it is even worse than that. Marcus has already alluded to another problem within Christianity. As Marcus said above:
"That's not saying that we never do anything good. But when we do, that was God."
In other words, God determines who is good and who is bad--God is responsible. God even decides who believes and who does not believe!

But we are accountable.

In my previous post I said:

"Unfortunately, today we live in a society full of these "born sinners"--people who believe they were born bad, and cannot help but to do bad things--which explains the chaos. However, if Christians cannot help but to sin, do they really have "free will??" Not according to the Bible--but that is for another post."

Marcus goes on to say in response to me:
I have to ask...who said you have free-will? It's not just Christians who cannot help but sin - everyone does. Romans 8:5-8 lays out the fact that we are unable to be anything but hostile to God on our own and cannot choose to do differently. IF you truly had free will then you would be able to choose to never sin and always do the right thing 100% of the time in all circumstances - without God. Good luck with that. In the following Socratic dialogue, is where the article truly goes off the rails.

So, according to Marcus, not only is humanity incapable of following the laws and doing right, but no one, including Christians, cannot help BUT to sin, because as he stated, we have "no free will." Believers are "god's robots" according to Marcus, doing evil things because, well, as the bible tells us, "...EVERY decision is from the Lord." (Proverbs 16:33)

I thought I was clear, but I'll say it again: apart from the power of God in our lives we are not capable of following the law 100 percent of the time. That's not an excuse because we still accountable to the standard God has set.  You are a slave to sin and Jesus is the only way out.  But again if you had free will, why do you still sin?

  If they cannot choose to do differently, then it is YAHWEH'S fault that they do evil things. This is further supported by the Bible, as Isaiah 45:7 tells us that Yahweh created evil.  Therefore, according to Marcus, believers cannot do the right things, as they are not "perfect" and worse yet, believers have no free will to do so!--it is all up to God!

14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses,
“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
    and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”[f]
16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”[g] 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” 20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”[h] 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?
22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory — 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? - Romans 9:14-24
This is inconsistent however, with the last statement Jesus made in the passages Marcus cited from Matthew 5:21-48, for in 48, Jesus commands followers to "be perfect!!" i.e., believers CAN do right and keep the laws and they are to do so!

Jesus referred to the moral law not the ceremonial law.  

Lastly, Marcus cites Paul, where Paul claims that believers are FREE FROM THE LAW and that all the laws are condensed into Loving their neighbors as themselves!
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. - Galatians 5:13,14
But note, these passage are also inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus. For how does "love your neighbor as yourself" cover keeping the 613 laws and the teachings of the Prophets? It doesn't.

Oh so now Jesus' words is not good enough.  Jesus said that it did fulfill the Law and the Prophets.

Let's put it to the test.

MURDER--anyone who murders will be subject to judgment
KOSHER FOOD LAWS--take the kosher food laws according to Jesus, then, anyone who breaks the kosher food laws will be subject to judgment.
ORGIES--how does love your neighbor as yourself prevent you from having an orgy? Hmmmm--lol. It actually seems to support orgies if you and your neighbors love each other! Let's say two married couples who are neighbors had an orgy together. Love your neighbor as yourself does not rule this out! But now note, such orgies would violate the Old Testament laws concerning adultery.

If you murder a person you have failed to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus declared all foods clean. And as for orgies, Matthew 19 covers that and "Love" is not the kind of "love" that leads to orgies. Jesus quoted the Old Testament so in no way is there a contradiction The kind of Love is agape that Jesus referred to. Erotic love is what gets you orgies. People should really stop mixing categories!!!

“‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. - Leviticus 19:18

According to Jesus, not only would such an orgy be ruled out, but these people participating in such activities would have to yank their eyes out and so forth, if they even thought about it.

That really distorts what Jesus said.

So according to Jesus, believers are not free from the law, they are still under "judgement" by the law, and Jesus said they need to be "perfect" as their father in heaven is perfect. i.e, This means they cannot sin, repent, sin, repent, and repeat when necessary. Jesus' supposed sacrifice was a ONE TIME ONLY deal, and Hebrews 10:26-27 confirms this when it states that if believers sin "willfully" after having the "laws written on their hearts" there is no more sacrifice for sins--only the burning fires of hell. No repentance.

No Believer woulds say that you can or should willfully sin. Therefore it shows that Christianity cannot lead to an ethical lax. Don't sell the scope of Jesus' sacrifice too short. It covers everyone who believes in what God had given them who ever has lived, now lives, or ever will lives. Abraham is just as saved as I am because He believed God although he did not have as full a picture of what God was doing as we do today.

Paul, however, was literally saying that the laws no longer apply. This led to debauchery, orgies, and general chaos. This is also why Christians do not follow the majority of the 613 laws or the teachings of the prophets.

Again where did Jesus say we had to keep the dietary laws and the ceremonial laws? Debauchery, orgies, and general chaos came from people's sinful hearts and arguments like "how does love your neighbor as yourself prevent you from having an orgy?"

When I stated that:" ....even if there were "laws" to break, they would be redundant anyway, when anything can be forgiven as long as a believer sincerely "repents. ...making "sins" virtually meaningless."

Marcus responded by stating that:
Let's apply some honesty here. The Bible is very clear that God punishes sin. Saying "I'm sorry" is neither repentance nor a Free-Get-Out-of-Hell-Free card. Anyone who thinks this way does not understand what Biblical Christianity is. True Repentance means agreeing with God that He is right and We are wrong. It means doing a 180 degree turn away from the offending thought and practice we are sorry for. We are sorry for what what we did and not just sorry about being caught doing it. If you truly repent then you do all you can to never do it again - trusting God to forgive you. That's not saying that there are no consequences or repercussions - only that hell is off the table as one of them. God may choose to give you mercy so that don't suffer here and now but there is no guarantee of that. The guarantee is that God will be with you
To paraphrase Marcus, If a man tortures a child and then he is sorry for it, I mean REALLY sorry for it, then as long as he believes in Jesus, "hell is off the table" Now note, that Marcus goes on to say that:
"...then you do all you can to never do it again - trusting God to forgive you.
Meaning it's Not that believers DON'T do it again--only that they TRY not to. Why, many many sexual molesters and serial killers feel real remorse for their crimes, and they try not to do it again--and in the Christian system, as long as they are sorry and they truly mean it, and TRY to be good--that's all that matters. THIS, according to Paul's perversion of the text. So Marcus McElhaney is not following Jesus, he is following Paul's perverted Christianity which claims you can only try to be good, you can't really be good--but it doesn't matter, because as long as you say "sorry" to Jesus, you still get to go to heaven, as hell, as he says, is, "taken off the table! And if hell is "taken off the table, then Marcus is being disingenuous when he stated that "God punishes sin." If "hell is off the table," then there are no consequences for sin.

No God does punish sin. Something all who deny God will understand the full measure of that that means. What is being forgotten is that when God saves you, you are made new. You change. But it's a process. Somethings you immediately stop in your sinning and you know it's not all you. But there are somethings that take time. For some people its acting cruelly to others out of angry - breaking the law to love others. For some people it's esteeming other higher than yourself. I'm following Jesus, because Paul followed Jesus. A believer doesn't go to heaven because of his/her own righteous but because of Jesus. He makes your righteousness exceed that of the Pharisees.

But it is even worse than that. Marcus would have us think that Jesus must be a fool, since Jesus said to follow the laws and to "be perfect", so Jesus must be a fool according to Marcus since Marcus is following Paul's perverted version of Christianity that states you are under the power of sin and have no free will. Even the great Christian philosopher Pelagius understood Paul's version of Christianity led to "moral laxity." It is my guess that Jesus would NOT be pleased.

Jesus is Lord and Master. If you have Jesus, if you are born-again then you are free of sin and death. That is what Jesus taught. That is what Paul taught. Pelagius was a heretic. I wouldn't base any arguments on him.  The confusion is that I didn't say we have no will of our own. We do  but it's just inclined to do evil. And without Jesus we can do no better. You will die in your sins and in hell you will lift up your eyes.

To illustrate how deep this perversion runs, another Christian posted this comment on this same post. I claimed in my post, and maintain that we CAN do what is right. Keeping in line with Marcus and the Pauline version of Christianity, the following Christian commenter wrote :
" I'm sure it's a nice thought to take responsibility for your own actions, but whether you live like a saint or a devil it won't matter in the slightest."
This illustrates the fact, that as a Christian, doing good or doing bad has NO RELEVANCE--for as the commenter said, that "doesn't matter" I guess because since they believe in Jesus they believe you will be rewarded with heaven, or, as Marcus stated, hell is "taken off the table" anyway, and thus, whether Christians are a saints or a devils, it makes no difference!

It has no relevance from the stand point of getting you into right standing with God. On our best day our righteousness is no better use than a used tampon. If you want to please God it makes a difference on where you put your faith - in your own good works or on Jesus. That's all I and the commentator are saying - not that you should go and do bad because it doesn't matter. Honesty please. 

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. - Isaiah 64:6

Both Marcus and the Christian commenter above represent the Christian position I set out in my post, and as I argued, it is this Christian position that leads to "moral laxity" Now, the difference between me and them is that I take being a "saint" as opposed to being a "devil" as VERY serious. Which is why I live a "saintly" life. And by saintly, I mean I do not commit adultery, murder, torture young children, and so forth--I take responsibility for my actions, and I am not looking for some loophole or reward for any bad behavior.

You can't be a saint without Jesus. I don't  "commit adultery, murder, torture young children, and so forth--I take responsibility for my actions". Never have.  Neither would any born-again Christians live like that. Takes more than that to be a saint.  But you are still a sinner - deserving hell (as do all of us). So what's the difference? Simple. Jesus isn't a loop hole. He is the only answer.

 "What does it matter whether you are a saint or a devil?" Christians should ask that question to all the little girls, boys, and young women who are abused and exploited by "devils" in our society. What a silly and absurd position Christians hold--a silly position that leads people to do EVIL things.

Jesus doesn't just command you to be a saint. He says that he will never leave us or forsake us and if we trust in Him we will never fail. That is the position not the one the author of this post misconstrues.

Hey Even the comments were amusing.
  • I have debated Marcus before. He is not very well versed in philosophy, but will happily quote the bible to you to... prove the bible. Stubborn, yes; logical, no. As a Calvinist who adheres to Original Sin he is frustrating in his inability to listen or understand philosophical points. And that is being kind

    This whole post hinges on what the Bible says and the author I have been responding to fails to accurately and careful address what the Bible actually says. You are really so stubborn to just understand the Bible in context. Real sad. I told you I'm not a Calvinist. I'm not an Arminian either. As for the Philosophical faceplants you kept raising, I don't have accept your silly premises or supposition. And if you haven't seen this meme, you should take this to heart in a tongue-in-cheek way. 

  • A is for Atheist, I am a professor of religion and philosophy.
    By what I had read on his blog, I would tend to agree with you.  I wanted to put this out anyway, just so others would have a better understanding of the arguments, and to see by example how literally stupid Christian philosophy is. I really do enjoy dialectical process.  Jesus however, if he had a grave, would be turning in it right

    Jesus is Alive. And ready to give you life and free you from your imprisonment.And before you dismiss Christian philosophy, you should at least get it corr
  • andreas schueler
    So Marcus McElhaney is not following Jesus, he is following Paul's
    perverted Christianity

    => I have to remember this one... "You follower of Paul´s perverted Christianity!"  :-D 
      In the NIV the word “evil” does not even appear: “I
    form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create desaster; I,
    the LORD, have created it.” A charitable reading of this passage certainly
    doesn’t arrive at the conclusion that the author wanted to express the idea
    that God is an evil being. 
    => Really ? "creating disaster" is not evil  ?
    It doesn´t really matter which translation is the most accurate one (almost complete list here: )
    all translations describe Yahweh as a moral monster. 

    You'd have to first prove that Paul perverted Jesus' message and that has not been done here.

Debunking Christianity: In Defense of the Non-Ethics of Christianity

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