Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Everyone's to blame but me!

John W. Loftus said:

“Have you ever seen the programs on TV where some guy or gal marries a person just to kill them and take their money? While Linda wasn't that bad, she was of the same type personality. I don't expect you to understand. It hasn't ever happened to you.”

i) Are there sexy women who pursue rich men for their money? Sure. But you’re not The Donald. So that explanation doesn’t apply to your bank account.

ii) But since you choose to use that illustration, what about it? Yes, we’ve all seen young, bombshell blonds with rich old geezers. She marries him for money, and he marries her for sex. They are using each other—by mutual consent. Each has something the other wants.

Is such a woman acting sinfully? Yes. But it’s a sin which is predicated on a reciprocal sin. Supply and demand. Unless there was a male market for these “services,” there would be no prostitution, pornography, or strip clubs.

So, sorry, but I as a man can’t blame a woman for making a living by trying to please a man. So even if her motives are depraved, it is a male appetite, run amok, which is feeding this industry.

This is something that men need to own up to. That men need to take the lead on.

“But it absolutely devestated me to the core. I see no Christian compassion here at all, as expected, and as I experienced in my own Christian community. You just don't understand. I'm just guilty. That's all you care about.”

i) What comes across in your account is impenitence rather than contrition. Christian forgiveness is not unconditional. Rather, it’s contingent on repentance.

ii) I’d add that you have a very me-centered notion of compassion. In this account, you are not very compassionate towards Linda or your ex-wife or your fellow ministers.

Is it compassionate for you to publicize your marital woes with you ex-wife and imply that she was a frigid woman, which is why you “succumbed” to Linda?

And what about Linda? Why does a woman become a stripper? A true spirit of compassion would ask why Linda turned to such a lifestyle in the first place.

What you’ve done, instead, is to concoct a misogynistic scenario in which Linda becomes a mythological, whip-wielding dominatrix who preys upon hapless, helpless ministers.

Sorry, John, but this is pathetic, and no self-respecting man who cast himself in such an obsequious role.

Stop whining and start acting like a real man, for God’s sake!

“I'm not excusing myself here. But I dare say that the temptation was just beyond me. That you won't understand either. If a pretty woman wants you and is clever, very clever, she could probably get you.”

i) None of the contributors or commenters at T-blog is a stranger to sexual temptation.

i) A pretty woman doesn’t have to be very clever to seduce a man. All it takes is a pretty woman and a willing man.

ii) Is sexual temptation resistible? It depends.

It’s resistible if you keep a certain distance. If you take certain precautions.

Where it becomes irresistible is if you take it to the point where you no longer want to resist.

iii) But the further point is what we do in case we do give into temptation. Do we repent, or do we start pointing fingers at everyone else?

“That you won't understand either. I'm just guilty, and I do bear the blame.”

Except that you don’t accept responsibility for your actions. What you’ve done is to accept a little bit of the blame, but then to dilute your admission by spreading the blame around.

“There are a lot of books available where people confess to having sex with Elvis and the like. I was just honest here in revealing what changed my life.”

Since I don’t read books about Presley’s former lovers, I couldn’t say.

“Now think about this. I knew people would object to this incident but I included it anyway. Why? Because I'm dishonest? No! Because I was trying to be as honest as I could.”

Actually, I think this incident was a play for the sympathy vote. But it backfires because your self-image, along with the exculpatory interpretation of your role in this affair, is quite different from how it looks to an outsider.

“My book is a sincere attempt to explain why I changed. You cannot dispute that anymore, since I write about the good the bad and the ugly.”

And that’s why, by your own admission, this is relevant. You are using your deconversion story to justify your apostasy. And you are using this incident as a key step in the process of deconversion.

“ Listen up. You treat me as if I'm not a person. You treat me as if I'm an alien or something.”

i) I treat you as a morally responsible agent.

ii) I also make allowance for the fact that I’m only getting your side of the story. That you demonize Linda, as if she overpowered you through trickery.

Let’s get real, here. No man was ever seduced against his will. To blame the woman is simply unmanly.

“YOU tell me this, what do YOU do whenever you're caught in sin? That's exactly what I did. And there are mitigating factors to all sins too.”

Ah, yes, “mitigating factors.” That’s your escape clause. That’s why you remain impenitent.

You say you don’t excuse yourself, but then you immediately negate that admission by drawing attention to a number of extenuating circumstances—as you view them.

“But that you will refuse to acknowledge since it's me.”

John, your idea of charity begins and ends with you. You were quite uncharitable towards everyone else whom you tried to implicate in this sordid affair.

“ I'm the one who signs my real name to what I write.”

And I sign my real name to what I write as well.

“I'm the one revealing myself here, in all sincerity in the honest attempt to explain myself. Most of you are simply gutless pricks.”

One of the problems with this excuse is your perverted notion of what honesty demands. A tell-all novel or trashy, talk show is not my idea of honesty.

Why do you think that we need to know about your sex life?

And when you choose to write a kiss-and-tell bio, you immediately violate the privacy of everyone else concerned. For example, it never occurs to you that it might be a breach of confidence to inform the world that your ex-wife, whom you specify by name, was no fun in bed—which is why you turned to a stripper.

One has to be morally blind to a monumental degree not to see what is wrong with this kind of “honesty.”

“ Your turn. Tell me the things you've done wrong in your life. Go ahead. Post it with your real name too. Then let me tear you a new [explicative deleted].”

1.You’re the one who chose to publicize your sex life. But when I repeat what you say, word-for-word, you fly into a rage.

You’re the one who is using you sex life, and the ensuing consequences thereof, to justify your apostasy. God let you down. The church let you down.

This is how you chose to frame the issue. And I agree with you that this episode sheds a very revealing light on your road to apostasy.

2.Since, however, I have never attempted to use my private life, whatever that may be, to prove what you use your private life to prove, I’m under no obligation to parallel your practice. I don’t measure my witness by your X-rated yardstick.

3.There are Christian converts who speak in general terms about how God delivered them from addiction or gambling or pornography or other suchlike. That’s great.

But that’s not the same thing as naming names, and thereby exposing the private lives of others we know—of using “honesty” as a pretext to settle old scores and give a defamatory, one-sided account of who’s to blame.

Jay Adams once described group therapy as group slander, in which people sit around and publicly badmouth their parents, or spouse, or whomever else they want to incriminate in order to shift blame for their own failings.

In Christian ethics there’s a big difference between confession to God and malicious gossip.

“YOU are the reason I will never return to the sludge pit of the Christian faith. The more you treat me with disrespect the more it confirms what a bankrupt way of life Christianity really is.”

Welcome to the true face of apostasy. When we unmask the apostate, when we wipe away the make-up, it’s personal and emotional.

Forget about John’s “cumulative case.” That’s just so much eyewash.

This is his real reason. Pride. Rage. Resentment. Immorality. Self-denial. Self-justification.

45 comments:

  1. I still want to know what John's answer is to the fact that he admits his house was in disorder yet he still stayed in the ministry and built other people houses?

    You're right Steve, it's all so "me" centered. John liked the laudatory praises of men, no matter if his own house was in ruins.

    The more we learn of Loftus the more we learn how unChristian of a Christian he really was.

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  2. epicurus' aunt10/11/2006 8:48 PM

    Forget about John’s “cumulative case.” That’s just so much eyewash.

    I am rather disappointed in the way he framed his admission. I was not aware of it.

    Whether or not John did aside, not all of us apostates gave up on the idea of faith due to sin. Whether you think our arguments are worthy or not, some of us truly were unable to maintain faith in the face of them. Just keep that in mind.

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  3. Steve, I have to wonder if you understand how you come across through your keyboard. Callous, uncaring, and always reflexively rude to the skeptic. You know, you don't have to display zero sympathy. You don't have to assume that John is wrong in everything he did and in everything he says. If he said "I woke up at 7 am this morning" you'd say

    i)You woke up three minutes after 7 am
    ii)Waking up is a process with no definitive time. You've committed the ad baculum contra hominem fallacy
    iii)Why don't you quit blaming everyone else for your many sins through the night and just admit that you hate God and goodness

    Every statement he makes is a statement you feel you must reflexively oppose. If you are going to read his book, why not just read it and try to allow it to improve your understanding of another fellow human. Maybe even empathize a little. Skeptics are humans, Steve. "Made in the image of God" if you like. Turn off your "apologetic mode" button and just try and read and understand and keep quiet for once.

    Your commentaries on John's personal experiences really provide nothing constructive at all. Why are you claiming that John is in the wrong in every situation and that his motivations and actions are always immoral? How do you know that this Linda is really less in the wrong than John is? You are completely clueless on this subject as am I, so you are in no position to make attempts to absolve Linda and entirely blame John. Talk about his arguments against Christianity if you want, but your critiques of his experiences and his thoughts about those experiences are really completely useless.

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  4. Jon,

    Ummmm, Steve *did* talk about John's arguments but it was *John* who wanted Steve to expand on what he reviewed.

    John should have kept his mouth shut and addressed Steve's critiques. Steve spent his time critiquing Loftus' book only to have Loftus complain that Steve never dealt with the "crisis of faith" which caused Loftus to deconvert.

    Steve then addresses this request, and then get's slammed for doing so.

    Indeed, why is *everything* Steve does wrong?" Why do you always have to tell him he's wrong. if he wants to talk about Loftus sordid affair, he shouldn't. If he wants to critique Loftus' argument, he should talk about his sordid affair.

    I mean, if he posts on *anything* he gets a "::YAWN::" from someone.

    So, why do you continue to debunk yourself.

    John requested this and now he's compaining that Steve did what John asked. You're too funny!

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  5. Hey guys at Triablogue. I was wondering if you could comment on this article by Time, "When Not Seeing is Believing": http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1541466-1,00.html

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  6. *Yawn*

    Another atheist exposed as leaving the "faith" - not because of the overwhelmning evidence against the faith, but because of wanting to create his own standard to justify his moral failings.

    *Yawn*

    Fred

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  7. :::YAWN!!!::: (get it right, Paul!)

    Steve, your Holy Spirit is showing through in your words. Such a powerful witness.

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  8. anonymous,

    the fact that you think you're an overdevloped ape is shining through

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  9. Its "overdeveloped," and I don't think that. Nice try though, Paulie.

    Looser.

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  10. Wow! I guess the t-bloggers et. al. are as as sex obsessed as the objects of their derision. This is an unprecedented moment for this blog: I don't think I've ever seen so many "sincere" Christians weigh in on any topic as prolifically as this one.

    For those of us anonymous observers of this blog who wish to exemplify the compassion and charity of Jesus (thank you Hireath for bucking the trend), the invective that issues from the mouths of the kool-aid drinking t-blogger sycophants is heart breaking.

    I value the theological/philosophical/exegetical topics so often addressed here, but NOT the intellectual/moral arrogance, which, unfortunately, is just as abundant. Do those of you who make a cottage industry of hurling condemnations at God’s children (and that includes John Loftus) really believe Christ would approve?

    I get the decided sense that too many who choose to pontificate here have forgotten that they have received the ultimate gift, and their mandate is to share it with the lost, not beat them over the head with it.

    I find it highly unlikely that John Loftus will be brought back into the fold by the draconian self righteousness displayed here.

    There must be a better way than this.

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  11. On this issue, I would note that the root of apostasy is pride:

    "Let he who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."

    Whether it was John, who thought he was immune from adultery because he was a smart man, or the man who found himself unable to answer other arguments of the devil.

    If we humble ourselves and return to the Lord, He will restore us. But if we hide from his presence in our shame, one day we shall find that there is no-where we can hide.

    Again, this is not designed as a condemnation of Loftus, but as a general 'think' piece. I have said all I mean to say on the specifics of Loftus' ruin. Suffice it to say that prayer and understanding (in the right sense) go a long way.

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  12. Jon Curry said:

    "You don't have to assume that John is wrong in everything he did and in everything he says. If he said 'I woke up at 7 am this morning' you'd say...Every statement he makes is a statement you feel you must reflexively oppose. If you are going to read his book, why not just read it and try to allow it to improve your understanding of another fellow human. Maybe even empathize a little."

    This is the same Jon Curry who calls himself "consistent" when he rejects what a source like Irenaeus said on subject B because of an error Irenaeus made on subject A. Since Irenaeus erred on the age of Jesus, Jon cites that error as a justification for rejecting his testimony on the authorship of the fourth gospel. Yet, in this thread Jon criticizes Steve for supposedly assuming that John Loftus must be wrong on subject B because of an error on subject A. Why doesn't Jon Curry apply his logic in this thread to Christians like Irenaeus?

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  13. Yet, in this thread Jon criticizes Steve for supposedly assuming that John Loftus must be wrong on subject B because of an error on subject A.

    Where did I say Steve assumes that John is wrong on subject B because he is wrong on subject A? Where are you getting this?

    Further, even if I had sad that (which I didn't) it still wouldn't be the logic I use with regards to Irenaeus. I don't say that Irenaeus must be wrong about B because he is wrong about A. I say he is untrustworthy when he claims to relay apostolic traditions. This doesn't mean he is wrong. He could be right about the authorship of John. But he could just as easily be wrong. His claims are not positive evidence for the authorship of John because we see that he makes up apostolic traditions. Papias talks about Judas' head expansion and other fabulous tails. He could still be right about the authorship of Mark (if he's talking about the same Mark we are, which I think he isn't) but he is not trustworthy on this point.

    Is Loftus untrustworthy with regards to his claims of his own life experiences? Show us the evidence for that. This still wouldn't make him wrong in his claims about Linda. We would simply have to admit that we didn't trust his claims about Linda and thus we would have to have no opinion one way or the other.

    So what we have here Jason is you start by falsely asserting I made this argument against Steve. You then falsely assert I make the same argument against Irenaeus. This is just after you falsely asserted that I accept some claims from Irenaeus (Pauline authorship) and reject others. This is what I mean when I talk about the misrepresentations and my unwillingness to continue to beat the dead horse. I await your misreprentations of my point here, which I may or may not reply to.

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  14. hostus twinkius10/12/2006 11:06 AM

    It is very interesting that some people want to lament the sterness with which John Loftus' sin has been met with here. However, consider what the apostle Paul said of an unrepentant member of the Corinthian church that was engaged in sexual immorality, "I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." (1 Cor. 5:5) I guess Paul was being harsh and unloving. Well, if you don't consider his goal (the restoration of the offender's soul) it may seem that way. John has remained impenitant (in spite of his objections otherwise) and he is a purposeful enemy of Christ. Our language should perhaps be toned down, and some of us have crossed a line I think, but if your expression of compassion towards John is such that you don't properly consider the circumstances, you're doing John a disservice and not showing biblical compassion. Just my .02

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  15. Hostus,

    I agree, but would also add that probably no matter how compassionate the language is, exposing someone's sin for what it is never interpreted as being compassionate, is it? That's why biblical Christianity is always an offense unless the Spirit works in one's heart. True Christianity involves facing up to the fact that even our righteousness, never mind our sin, is like filthy rags.

    Not having read John's book, before this series of blogs I was always under the impression his deconversion was due entirely to philosophical arguments. This does shed a whole new light in his story for me.

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  16. "I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." (1 Cor. 5:5)

    Stone that joker.

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  17. It has always been apparent that John Loftus' "deconversion" was based on something other than "philosophical" objections to the Christian faith. One clue has been the fact that someone of the educational level that Loftus claims to have would consider high-school sophomore arguments for atheism as carrying any weight. The other has been his own repeated references to a "personal crisis", a dark night of the soul, if you will, in which he discovered that God was not there.

    Evidently it did not occur to Loftus that people lacking his self-absorption might not see the incident in quite the same terms. So now we have from his own pen the evidence that destroys his attempt to cultivate an image as a cool, dispassionate, "scholarly" critic of Christianity. He is not, in fact, an unbiased "outsider", but has a heavy emotional investment in denying there is a divine law which convicts him of sin.

    The true face of apostasy, indeed.

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  18. clang, clang, clang, clang.....

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  19. Hostus,

    I’d say there is an important distinction to make between delivering one to Satan and doing Satan’s work ourselves.

    I’d also make a distinction between the way that sin is handled when dealing with those inside the fold versus those outside. After all, aren’t the lost are already in Satan’s hands?

    Penitence isn’t what we should be angling for, regeneration is. Why even expect the former from John if the latter has yet to take place.

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  20. Let it never be said that I am afraid of the truth, since I laid it all out on the table. And let it never be said that I'm insincere either, since I knew this is the treatment I'd receive for telling the truth. My doubts are sincere, just as I laid it all out on the table. Anyone who actually reads my book will see the sincerity in it. There's an old Indian proverb that you should not criticize a man if you won't walk in his moccasins, or something like that. What people fail to realize here is that as a Christian I did repent. But I was also duped. One day you'll meet up with an effective con-artist, and depending what he or she wants from you, you will feel devestated too. This does not exonorate me from my part, of course. But I am not the only Christain who has ever had an affair either. The point in telling the truth was in the devestation of it all; why God didn't keep me from harm? You we're there. You don't know what happened. Cackle all you want to. Play the Pharisee. And this isn't what sent me away from Christianity either, but it did start it all. So why did God decree that I should become an atheist? And even though I tell the truth about it all, you still have to deal with my arguments, or else I could write your beliefs off as the result of your own experiences too.

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  21. John W. Loftus said:
    So why did God decree that I should become an atheist?

    Romans 9:22-23

    22 What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath (read: John W. Loftus)—prepared for destruction?

    23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy (read: Andrew Wheatley), whom he prepared in advance for glory—

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  22. "Let it never be said that I am afraid of the truth..."

    Dude, you are afraid of the truth, Bareback Loftus. You continue to refuse to take full responsibility and blame that you did the deed. I wouldn't trust anybody's wife with someone like you. I recall the way you talked about Paul's wife: "She must be the silent type, the agreeable type, the humble/submissive type, and the the (sic) doting wife." You said this without even meeting her and knowing anything about her! But I think you're projecting, Bareback Loftus. Maybe that is what you want your women to be like (makes me wonder how your wife is like). That way you have a better way of seducing them.

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  23. hostus twinkius10/12/2006 3:48 PM

    To the Anonymous that addressed me.....

    I was no where asserting that we as Christians should do Satan's work ourselves. I don't know where you got that, and no one here is doing that.

    John was inside the fold when he fell into this grievous sin. He was apparently unregenerate, but professed to be in the household of God as a Christian. So was the person the apostle was referring to 1 Corinthians (and praise God he repented if 2 Cor. is referring to this same person). So there certainly is a distinction between those inside the church and those outside (and I was making this distinction. You put John out, but he was in).

    Your third point had reference to his regeneration. Does not the call to repent from sin and come to Christ have to do with regeneration whether unbeliever or apostate?

    John,

    I don't think you're insincere. You know that temptation is part of the Christian life. Whose fault is this sin? Do you accept full responsibility for it? Perhaps God allowed you to fall into this sin to show you the state of your own heart, to awaken you out of a false sense of security, to show you that you weren't putting your full trust in Him. Did not this incident expose the truth about your Christian profession? If you were really a Christian would you not have clung to Christ instead of becoming an enemy of the cross? I'm not intending to be harsh here, I'm dealing with the reality of the situation. If a bad experience severed you from Christ, were you ever really in union with Him in the first place? You thought you were, He showed you otherwise, and you didn't seek Him until you found Him afterward....that's the sad truth

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  24. Go ahead and be the first to cast the stones.....

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  25. Frank Walton,

    Listen brother, your comments in these threads sound more like personal dislike toward John Loftus than geniune Christian concern. Not to mention the somewhat vulgar slang you wrap them in. So, as a brother in Christ please look inward and consider your motives. If John's repentence is your goal this kind of stuff isn't helpful in my opinion...

    Peace,
    S&BL

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  26. hostus twinkius10/12/2006 4:15 PM

    John--

    I'm not casting stones. If it were not for God's grace I would fall away too. It is God that keeps us. This is not about falling, it's about getting up and going back to Christ. No Christian will accept the excuse, "God ordained me to be an atheist". They will exhibit the repentence of David, who fell into adultery, but humbled himself before God and turned away from his sin. You know this John, stop using a theological excuse for your unbelief and run to Christ. I would truly love for that to happen...

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  27. Listen up twinkie. I use my real name. I own up to what I write. You don't. And now you try to appear as if you care. Bullshit!

    If it were not for God's grace I would fall away too. It is God that keeps us.

    Then why didn't he keep me?

    Besides, I did not fall away from Christ because of the affair that seems to preoccupy everyone here (who, if they were as honest as I am about their owns sins could be worse than any I might have done). It may have opened the door to doubt. But it was the information that I learned and the subsequent people in the church who would not forgive me even though I repented. You are all treating me as if I didn't repent just as David did. I did.

    It's just that now I don't give a shit. Besides, it's happening all over again, as expected, from Christians.

    Guaranteed. I will never come back to Christianity, especially when I see such judgmentalism coming from Christians beginning with Hayes, and with most (not all) of the rest of you. Each jibe becomes another nail in the coffin of the death of my former faith. Now, on the other hand, a reasoned discussion is different...much different...because then I know you respect me as the sincere and honest person that everyone who personally knows me, knows about me.

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  28. hostus twinkius10/12/2006 5:01 PM

    John,

    So now you're going to make fun of my Latin name? I won't take it personally. Seriously though, I do care as much as I would care about any other human being. I already explained why it may have been that God allowed you to fall into sin, but you are still responsible for your sin. If you had David's repentence then you would have David's faith--and you don't John. Would you dispute this? So I'm not just blowing smoke. I'm not trying to tick you off John, really....

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  29. Yikes. I fear the combox on this post may be getting out of hand (e.g. Loftus' recent profanity-laden comment). Insofar as I can tell, it's already violated at least one of the Rules of Engagement. Not sure if anyone else agrees, but I thought it'd be worth noting anyway.

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  30. Twinkie: If you had David's repentence then you would have David's faith--and you don't John. Would you dispute this?

    If David's faith was truly that great then neither do you have David's repentence, and neither do you have David's purported faith.

    I used to cry out in repentance every morning, noon and night, for my sins were viewed by me as significant to God. Although I knew it was by grace I had been saved, I still struggled to obey God in every detail, especially the mind, but I failed so miserably every day. One snide remark, one angered thought, one wasteful minute, one prideful thought, etc, etc. I think that the closer one wants to get to the Christian God (assuming he exists and the Christian is correct) then the guiltier he feels for being unworthy of his love. And this stands to reason, if God is as pure as you believe, the closer we feel to him the more unworthy we feel to be closer to him.

    So don't tell me about repentance. I did it daily...hourly.

    I just reject that God now, and it's whole guilt trip. But at the time I was devestated, as I said, about it ALL! My sin, the circumstances, the Christian people who wouldn't forgive, the abuse, the charge of rape and God not seeming to care about his wayward soldier.

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  31. Patrick, I think Triablogue knows that the one thing I cannot stand and which brings out these invectives is when someone attacks my integrity. Since they did it anyway, I'm supposing they let my words stand as an exception to the general rules.

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  32. See, even Loftus's cussing is someone else's fault.

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  33. I've responded to Jon Curry at:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/10/is-testimony-of-irenaeus-not-positive.html

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  34. hostus twinkius10/12/2006 10:36 PM

    John,

    I'm sorry all that stuff happened to you, it must have been very difficult. It sounds like your church did not respond biblically to the situation. I'm sure they were hurt and felt betrayed, but they still should have forgiven you upon your confession of sin and you bearing the fruits of that repentance. Regarding what you said about God's holiness and our unworthiness and sinfulness before Him, that is why we rest in Christ. Remember Christ's invitation in the Temple during the Passover feast, "all who are weary (trying to establish their own righteousness by obeying God's law) and heavy laden, come to Me and I will give you rest". The more we know our holy God, the more we adore His perfections and the more we value Christ. May God impress this upon your straying heart.......

    --the twinkie

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  35. bobby g. ingersoll10/13/2006 2:07 PM

    Guaranteed. I will never come back to Christianity, especially when I see such judgmentalism coming from Christians beginning with Hayes, and with most (not all) of the rest of you. Each jibe becomes another nail in the coffin of the death of my former faith. Now, on the other hand, a reasoned discussion is different...much different...because then I know you respect me as the sincere and honest person that everyone who personally knows me, knows about me.

    John, it's disappointing to hear you say such things. Is your worldview really hinged upon what others make of you and how they treat you?

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  36. Some thoughts on Joseph. John mentions his example, and how he thought he would be strong as that holy patriarch. But shall we actually see what Joseph did? It occurred to me, as I was on my way to work this morning, that too many young evangelicals talk about Joseph without thinking. So, shall we try to tease out a few principles?

    1. Flee from temptation: 'his master's wife cast his eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. But he refused [...].' Joseph refused point blank. More...

    2. Keep ou of its way: 'and it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her.' Too many modern evangelicals play with fire. Go to the bar, but have a soft drink. Keep being about the woman even though you are attracted to her, and she is attracted to you. Joseph DID NOT DO THIS. He did not say, 'I need do nothing, God will protect me.'

    And finally:

    3. When crisis point arrived: 'And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me; and he left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth.' Joseph got out sharpish, with no thought for his dignity.

    Too often, we kick out temptation, but ask for her 'phone number as she leaves. We can be sure Jospeh didn't play out alternative scenarios with the alluring Mrs Potiphar in his quarters at night. But too often, that is exactly what we do. We allow ourselves to be thrilled, titillated by temptation. We flee only a short distance, then watch temptation as she takes a bath from our housetop.

    No, we MUST flee temptation! I speak from experience, and not in judgement. John slipped up big time, and I pray that no-one here ever follows in that path.

    And if we do sin, 'we have an advocate with the father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins.' When we repent, we must do the fleeing that we ought to have done. Flee from the mire of our sin to the cross of Christ.

    But what does that mean practically? Practically, we should stop re-living our past fallings. We DO NOT live in the past. If our sins are carried away in Christ, then we should forget them. The past is dead in Christ's death, but our future lives in His resurrection. Christians should not live in the past. We live for the future.

    We should not wallow in our sins, or guilt. Christianity is not about 'guilt trips', whether they make us feel good or bad. Christianity is about my guilt having been taken away, about my having been freed "to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways to." [1662 Book Of Common Prayer]

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  37. Just a comment on intellectual versus personal reasons for converting or deconverting (directed to no one in particular):

    Many people who leave Christianity do so for a variety of reasons, some intellectual and some personal. The same thing can be said of many of those who become Christians. John Loftus left the faith in the midst of a personal crisis. Charles Colson converted during a personal crisis. If we say that the "real" reason why someone leaves the faith is the personal one, then there is no reason why we cannot also say that the "real" reason for converting is the personal one. So, as far as explaining either conversion or deconversion, if this is used as a tactic for circumventing argument about the merits for or against faith, it is a non-starter.

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  38. Dave, of course the real reason for conversion, humanly speaking, is personal. One can neither argue a person out of the kingdom or into it.

    And in my experience, many people have been converted in moments of crisis, moments wich forced them to face things as they truly are. To choose Baal or Jehovah.

    That is not to say that there are not intellectual arguments, but that such arguments are at best partial. We are people, emotional creatures, not creatures of blind logic, thus we should expect emotional reasons to exist for conversion and apostasy. That is not an argument against atheism, but a statement of fact.

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  39. Anonymous said:



    Hey guys at Triablogue. I was wondering if you could comment on this article by Time, "When Not Seeing is Believing": http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1541466-1,00.html

    ***********************************************

    The basic problem with Sullivan's argument is that he tries to play both sides of relativistic fence.

    He talks about uncertainty and doubt, but he's a homosexual activist, and he's quite the moral absolutist when it comes to queer rights as other liberal values.

    So he's a selective and one-sided relativist:

    His own values are indubitable while the values of his opponents are dubious.

    Absolutism for me--relativism for you!

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  40. Dave,

    I think that was a sensible comment.

    In my own experience as a Christian, times of crisis are particularly seized upon by Evangelicals intend on conversion. They smell the weakness of human spirit, and it is a natural transition to, "I am nothing, God is everything."

    Of course, atheism from Christianity is often a long and convoluted process, rather than a "conversion moment"; Christian conversion is just a moment, but the long and convoluted process of figuring out what it means and being sanctified comes later...

    So there is definitely asymmetry there.

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  41. Hiraeth-

    Emotional components exist for any sort of change of mind. No one can deny the presence of some self-interest in our decisions. If it weren't present, we would turn our attention to something else. Nevertheless, if the real or primary reason for converting to any particular viewpoint is not intellectual, then truth takes a back seat to desire, and that's a dangerous thing. It's better to believe something primarily because of evidence and argument. Difficult as that may be, it can and should be done, for society's sake as well as our own.

    I recall reading that C.S. Lewis called himself a reluctant convert. He did not want to become a Christian, but he came to believe that it was true, so he did what he thought was the right thing, the rational thing, and converted. He's a model, in that sense, for all of us. He placed truth above desire, and followed it where he thought it led. Whether you agree with him or not, you've got to be impressed.

    Dave

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  42. Anonymous-

    I think I understand where you are coming from, but I think that popular revivalist evangelicalism, thanks to men like Charles Finney, is responsible for a false picture of conversion which emphasizes sudden momentous conversions, which were, I believe, not really the paradigm throughout the whole history of Christianity. I've read stories about conversion to Christianity which involved a long process of decisions and realizations. C.S. Lewis' own story is one which sticks out in my mind. More common is the life-long believer who was raised in a Christian home, or the believer who spent a great deal of time thinking and agonizing before coming to faith.

    I wouldn't be surprised if the typical conversion or deconversion involves a series of "epiphanies" or mini-conversions which lead gradually to belief or unbelief. Something happens which leads a man to reconsider some belief he holds. That brick is removed from the structure, but it is not enough to weaken the whole structure. Over time, more beliefs are challenged, and more bricks are removed. Eventually, if the process continues, enough bricks are removed to cause the building to topple and something else takes its place.

    Dave

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  43. Dave, if I may make a few observations:

    There must be both emotional and physical components in equal measure. Some persons will come to faith emotionally and then acquire the intellectual components of the faith. Others will be convinced intellectually and then, like Lewis, 'Surprised by Joy.'

    The final act of closing with Christ must be the act of the whole man, emotional and intellectual. Without an emotionally well-disposed nature, a person, however convinced of the truth of Christianity, will never become a Christian. They may say with Julian, 'Thou hast conquered, Galilean,' as they cast their blood to the sky, or they may decided, like Matthew Green, if they are convinced of the truth of Christianity, to destroy themselves.

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  44. Dave,

    I think I understand where you are coming from, but I think that popular revivalist evangelicalism, thanks to men like Charles Finney, is responsible for a false picture of conversion which emphasizes sudden momentous conversions, which were, I believe, not really the paradigm throughout the whole history of Christianity.

    Fishing is not a real "process" -- you put out the bait (the Gospel) and wait for a bite, and reel it in (conversion). Fishers of men?

    Jesus didn't give the disciples extended lectures, did he? It seems he said, "Follow me..." And these people (supposedly) left behind family and careers before once seeing solid doctrinal proof that they were following the fulfillment of the OT.

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  45. Hiraeth-

    I don't think there is any proper ratio of components, but there is a psychological priority. Non-intellectual elements will be involved, but if they are in their proper place they follow from intellectual acceptance. I doubt very much that someone will be able to convert to what he does not intellectually believe. If he does, he is doing something irrational, and that's a very shaky position to be in.

    Emotions follow from beliefs. We love the things that we feel are lovely or are good for us, and we hate the opposite things. If you love God, it's because you believe that he is good and is good to you. Your actions follow suit.

    Anonymous-

    Those new testament pictures are clearly unusual, but what are we to make of them? Are we to assume that the change was immediate or sudden, or that there was some sort of background that we don't know about? I don't know, and we are not told. As for Christianity as it exists today, I know that immediate conversions are unusual, and I doubt that even the bible treats them as paradigmatic.

    Regards,

    Dave

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