Saturday, November 25, 2006

False teachers

***QUOTE***

ANONYMOUS SAID:
Great attack on a fellow christian there Steve. This is because apparently, you answer questions like "explain this real old spear ancient used by your defenseless ancient man" with a four page pablum laden post that basically boils down to "what is time"?

He calls you on it, and you spew hate.

He chews up your arguments, and you spew ad hominems.

Great show!

ANONYMOUS SAID:
Steve,

Easy buddy, you sound as if you are about to blow your top! It's hard standing up for something (6 literal day creation or YEC) when even the majority of conservative Reformed seminaries aren't even teaching it anymore. You are truly a dying bread, Steve, but your demeanor is what really worries me.

TOUCHSTONE SAID:

So, is this how you [Paul Manata] would teach your kids to respond in discussion? I've had my 12year old son, who's just learning apologetics and debate, read some of the messages here, and I end up having to warn him away from the tone and attitude of the... Christians here more than anybody else.

I don't wanna call you names. I'd just like you stop arguing against the teaching of Christ by your tone and language, even as you profess to proclaim it with your arguments.

***END-QUOTE***

1.There are some people who are typecast to react in a certain way. They get hysterical at the drop of a hat, and the project their own overwrought emotions onto the blogger.

They react to the very last thing they read, rather than taking into account everything leading up to the last thing they read.

They never actually register everything that was said by both sides. Instead, they have their antennae twitching to pick out certain words or phrases which set them into a frenzy of sputtering indignation.

They react to tone rather than substance, and even then they are conspicuously lop-sided in what they find offensive.

2.They also operate with Hallmark card version of Christ and Christian ethics, decorated with fawns and bunny rabbits and bare-bottomed cherubs.

They like to quote Mt 5, but they don’t like to quote Mt 23. They forget that Jesus is also a warrior-king (Rev 19).

They carry around their Hallmark card notion of how professing Christians are supposed to treat other professing Christians. They never attempt to check this against the detailed practice of the NT.

3.But one of the leading themes of the NT is a running indictment of false teachers. From false prophets (Mt 7; 24), to Antichrist figures (Mt 24; 2 Thes 2; 1 Jn 2; Rev 13), to Judaizers (Galatians), to false apostles (2 Cor), to Docetic antinomians (1 John), to Nicolaitans (Rev 2:15), to hyperpreterists (2 Tim 2:17), to false teachers generally (Jude, 2 Peter).

Now, what a lot of critics overlook is that all these false teachers were (or will be) professing Christians.

The fact that someone calls himself a Christian doesn’t prevent the NT from attacking his theology if his theology is aberrant. Not only attacking his theology, but attacking his character. And the NT is very public in its denunciations.

So, the popular idea that just because someone calls himself a Christian, it is unchristian for us to “attack” his theology or theological method is, itself, unchristian.

Some people try to counter this by quoting what the Apostle John has to say about loving the brethren in 1 John.

But to quote that as if it forbade us from critiquing false theology is to quote it out of context. As D. A. Carson, in his WTJ article entitled “Reflections on Christian Assurance,” pointed out, this is the polar opposite of what John had in mind.

In 1 John, the Apostle is attacking false teachers. And he is attacking them because they are undermining the faith of the faithful.

When he talks about loving the brethren, he isn’t talking about false teachers. To the contrary, the false teachers are unloving by the way they undermine the faith of the faithful. And, for that very reason, St. John opposes the false teachers in no uncertain terms.

4.I’d also note that the Evangelutionist has been quite harsh in his characterization of YECs.

***QUOTE***

The YEC view is only viable as an exercise in mysticism. It’s a “flat earth” or geocentric astronomy equivalent. So my rationale for higher criticism doesn’t stem at all from a desire to diminish the truth or authority of the Bible, but rather to uphold it, because the YEC literalist view just isn’t a serious view of scripture. It scoffs at God’s Word as something that is really true in the real world. I only need to have you read Steve’s recent replies to me as powerful evidence of this. The unbelievers see YEC theology, then think about what they know about God’s creation, even not knowing or admitting who created it all, and they see YEC theology as a powerful argument that Christianity is cynical hoax, the Gospel a lie. It’s only true if you can mysticalize yourself and tie yourself in horrible philosophical meta-scientific existential knots.

So my rationale for my “higher criticism” is this: YEC theology is cyanide for the spread of the Gospel. It’s Dawkins most powerful asset. He’s got nothing, nothing close to the powerful argument he has in merely pointing reasonable, honest folk at guys like Steve, and you, from what you’ve said here.

Is that good enough? Is the fact that your brittle, anachronistic, reductionist interpretive frameworks produce absurdities, logical contradictions and cascading conundra that drive people who think *away* from Christ a good enough reason to wonder if maybe you’ve got things off a bit?

***END-QUOTE***

So don’t rewrite the history of the thread and cast the Evangelutionist in the role of the lamblike victim of an unprovoked attack. He initiated the attack on YEC.

There was nothing in my original post on “Adam and evolution” that couldn’t be written by an OEC.

He chose to turn this into a debate over YEC, and he uses a number of choice words to characterize the ramifications of that position: “It’s a ‘flat earth’ or geocentric astronomy equivalent”; “It scoffs at God’s Word”; “cyanide…a cynical hoax…and a lie.”

5.Let us also remind ourselves of what is at stake. This is how he himself has cast the issue:

***QUOTE***

You're apparently unhappy with science's epistemic foundation of methodological materialism, the same epistemic that flourished from the time of Newton and so many other God-fearing men of science. It's precisely this axiom of MM that keeps science right in its box where it belongs. MM restricts science from wandering into areas where it has no foundation.

These are mythic elements, the talking serpent, the trees with supernatural capabilities. They are perfectly true in that convey a real history – the fall of man from the commission of sin. But the device used is figurative, and symbolic. If you were to pick up a text that you were told was “true”, but contained the account of trees with supernatural, cosmic powers, and a talking serpent along with a pair of humans, would you suppose that the truth was *scientific* in its telling, or moral/figurative?

Does Wise identify Genesis as similar in form to other, competing cosmogonies of that time? Would he find similarities for the book of Nehemiah in Babylonian mythology as exist between Genesis and Enuma Elish, or the Gilgamesh epic? Those are manifestly mythic texts, and I can’t see that Wise would be unfamiliar with those comparisons.

I’m undecided if Adam was a real individual or not. I’m inclined to think he was, but only tentatively. And I don’t see that it matters, theologically, morally or spiritually one way or another.

I’m amazed you feel comfortable saying “perfectly”, though. I can anticipate your saying: “it’s not obviously non-historical” or something like that (which I would still take issue with), but “perfectly”? You don’t see trees with cosmic magical trees and a talking snake in a story about the spiritual fate of all mankind to be even *somewhat* of a bell going off in your head about the natural historical claims the text is making? I’m incredulous.

When it reads like myth, fable, or dream, or something quite apart from a historical account, even a historical account with miracles, it’s time to consider a different interpretation. For instance, do you suppose the serpent was just a serpent, albeit a more clever one than the other herpetological creatures all around? Or is the serpent a symbol? Is it a real serpent *and* a symbol of the Devil? Or maybe just a symbol for the devil, allegorical language for an actual eve’s temptation inside her head?

***END-QUOTE***

1.Methodological naturalism

2.Genesis as mythology, including:

i) The ahistoricity of Adam

ii) The ahistoricity of the Fall

So he’s gone far beyond a repudiation of YEC chronology, but let’s begin with that.

1.I posted a long, meticulously reasoned article by Gerhard Hasel defending the literal chronology of Gen 1.

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/11/days-of-creation.html

Now, you may disagree with Hasel, but you can’t be serious about Biblical if you dismiss his exegetical arguments out of hand.

2.I also posted some excerpts of a lecture by James Barr on Biblical chronology. This is, to some extent, an abbreviated version of a much longer article of his which I’ve also referenced.

In this course of this material, Barr, an ultra liberal OT scholar and world-renowned Hebraist, makes several points:

i) He documents the fact that what we now classify as YEC chronology represents the traditional Judeo-Christian interpretation up until modern times.

ii) He walks the reader through the process by which that chronology is derived.

iii) He points out that this chronology is not a side issue, but reflects the historical consciousness of the Bible writers, and that efforts on the part of modern theologians to devalue Bible chronology is a rearguard action that fails to identify with the narrative viewpoint of the Bible writers themselves.

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/11/biblical-chronology.html

Once again, you can try to take issue with Barr’s analysis, but to act as if YEC chronology is absolutely intolerable, and proceed to demonize it as a “hoax,” a “lie,” or “cyanide,” is hardly a Bible-honoring attitude.

3. But that’s not the only issue. What about the classification of Genesis 1-11 as mythology?

What about the attempt to dehistoricize Adam and the Fall?

4.Then, to top it off, is the whole matter of methodological naturalism, which is simply a euphemism for methodological atheism.

It is nothing short of blasphemous for a professing Christian historian or Christian scientist to operate as if God did not exist—as if all historical or prehistorical events can be and should explained on a purely naturalistic basis, so that God’s existence or nonexistence is empirically equivalent.

24 comments:

  1. Hole

    getting

    deeper


    Just go ahead and jump in, Steve. You cannot rewrite what occured, which was Touchstone attacked your argument, and you continually attack him.

    How very calvanistic of you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. So now he is a blasphemer because he doesn't share your views?

    Good thing you don't have the power of law behind you, or he may go the way of Michael Servitius.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Steve,

    A couple of observations...

    A. You're going to make up your mind. Am I a "fawns and bunny rabbits" kind of guy or not? On the one hand, it looks like you believe I am. But then you proceed to complain about my savaging of YEC theology. Are these two compatible? If they are, maybe I *am* a "fawns and bunny" rabbits Christian.

    I see no problem with speaking frankly and clearly about the problems of YEC theology, and making efforts to resist cheap and cynical personal jabs. I think the theology you espouse is quite a problem, a continuing impetus draining the vitality out the church's witness to a lost world, a hastening toward a post-Christian America. That's my earnest assessment of the impact of your beliefs, so far as you espouse them.

    But I don't see that theology as cause for supposing you are two faced, or dishonest, or insincere in your beliefs. I believe you *are* sincere in what you say.

    I'm very direct about about my assesments of theology, philosophy and science. Those are things we entertain, that we believe, but they are not us as an identity. Before I became a Christian, I held one set of views. I traded them in for the Gospel, a distorted and immature view of it, but the saving Gospel no less. When the people that helped bring me to that position talked to me, the were able to do two things simultaneously:

    1. Forcefully argue that I needed a new paradigm, a better way of thinking as means to a better life, but here, and eternally.

    2. A tone and style that while uncompromising about the problems in my current ideology, was also generous, charitable, honest, and benevolent.

    I find those two feature of engage other people to be highly compatible with the witness of Jesus Christ. When Jesus talked to the woman caught in adultery in John 8, he didn't countenance her immorality. He told her to "go, and sin no more." Be he said this in the midst of showing kindness, and mercy, and justice, and grace. My guess is that the grace and mercy He showed her were compelling, life transforming effects, and that she resolved to change her ways, her life.

    In any case, I think Christians are bound by an honor code that reflects that; clarity on the issues of principle and spirit, charity and goodwill right along with it, as a means of reflect our good will to all men, the love of the savior we follow.

    I'm sure I can do better than I have. Reading your quotes here though, I will say that reading them again has me confirming them. I bear you no ill will personally, and hope to commend Christ to you and anyone reading with my words. That said, I do remain convinced that the theology proclaimed on this blog is every bit as bad for the church and witness of the Gospel as I'd claimed before. If anything, I've not spoken strongly enough in that regard.

    B. You said:

    So, the popular idea that just because someone calls himself a Christian, it is unchristian for us to “attack” his theology or theological method is, itself, unchristian.


    You are welcome to attack or otherwise critique my theology. I have nothing to hide or be ashamed of. I'll discuss whatever area people think is important. You're even free to attack me personally, if that's what you want to do. I promise I won't be offended. You'll note that I've not objected to your various characterizations of me thus far.

    See, I may not agree with those characterizations, but even if I don't, I try to keep something in mind that has been beaten into me over years of debate and discussion: such talk isn't just petty and counterproductive to my overall goals, it's really boring. Do you suppose that *anyone* on the whole Internet is interested in clever personal attacks as substitute for a real, honest exhange of ideas? I don't.

    I'm one of a handful of bloggers for a large tech company I work for. So I have been blogging as part of my job for some time. That's about network technologies and emerging Internet marketplace trends, but there, as here, opportunities come up to get personal and vicious. Having indulged myself in that many more times than I'd like to admit, I can say with confidence that not only is it small of me engage of that, it's just bad blogging. It drives intelligent people away from your thoughts, and attracts the kinds of people you'd rather not have as constituents.

    So it isn't that I agree with all the stuff you're putting out about me, I just don't see interesting substance to attach to, so I move on. It's self correcting, so I don't have to stress about fixing anything. In this ecosystem, bloggers who assume the style and demeanor that you entertain on this blog just don't end up having very many interesting conversations.

    Exapologist is a good, clear example. Paul had the makings of some good points, but was so intent on indulging himself in his aggression and self-congratulation that Exapologist, a very capable and thoughtful writer, just gave up on him. Paul just insisted on playing little league ball, and Exapologist just couldn't be bothered.

    I think you are much more committed to the "little league" part than the "ball" part, to extend the metaphor. Debate and apologetics seems to me to be just a venue to vent your spleen, and to demonstrate how righteous and smart you really are. I may be wrong, but having read a bunch of your posts now, I think I could assemble an absolutely tragic ensemble of quotes from your past posts that would make a compelling argument for my hypothesis to any disinterested observers who wanted to analyze it.

    In any case, as someone who struggles with pride issues as we all do, I have full empathy for the way you present yourself. It takes a lot of discipline and a lot of focus-shifting away from self to keep discussions like this up to the highest standards.

    Just remember that people can and do read here that never weigh in to comment, they just simply move on, turned off by the indulgences you and Paul take for yourselves. It's a trade off. You gain the cathartic satisfaction of indulging your venomous feelings, and others get turned off, if only in just some small way, to the Gospel of Christ when they see it. I know this is true, because I've had the painful fortune to have many of these people eventual "bump into me", and call me to account for cases where I've indulged myself like you do here. It's a hard lesson to learn that one has been driving others away from the cause one is advancing.

    C. Just to set the record straight, I affirm the full historicity of Adam and the Fall. It's as real and historical and event as ever was, but it's related to us through symbols and allegory in Genesis, according to my reading.

    Glad I could clear that up.

    -Touchstone

    ReplyDelete
  4. "Exapologist is a good, clear example. Paul had the makings of some good points, but was so intent on indulging himself in his aggression and self-congratulation that Exapologist, a very capable and thoughtful writer, just gave up on him. Paul just insisted on playing little league ball, and Exapologist just couldn't be bothered."

    Care to substantiate this, touchstone?

    You'll find that his only argument was ONE sentence.

    I responded in full, and there was MUCH for him to respond to.

    He chose not to. He got in over his head.

    I responded in detail to every one of his questions, took the time to show how my position worked. He never bothered to respond by rather called names and said my position was ad hoc (with out argument, mind you).

    He didn't get "fed up." He was in over his head. He showed his hand (borrowing Craig), bluffed, got called, and then couldn't do anything.

    ~Paul

    ReplyDelete
  5. watchingtheschoolyard11/25/2006 3:36 PM

    Steve: "1.There are some people who are typecast to react in a certain way. They get hysterical at the drop of a hat, and the project their own overwrought emotions onto the blogger."

    Lets play the triablogue's juvenile game, and see how it plays out..


    There are some people who are typecast to blog in a certain way. they get hysterical at the drop of a hat, and the(y) project their own overwrought emotions on the reader.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The Principal11/25/2006 4:05 PM

    "There are some people who are typecast to blog in a certain way. they get hysterical at the drop of a hat, and the(y) project their own overwrought emotions on the reader."

    Yep, that's Triablogue alright.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Besides from Steve and Paul I don't see the same hate mongering with other, more thoughtful, team members at Triablogue.

    You guys just don't get it. The same hermeneutics you use to interpret and apply the Bible in dealing with false teachers, was also used to justify southern slavery. Get and read William Swartley's book, Slavery, Sabbath, War & Women (Herald Press, 1984). This Christian book is really about hermeneutics. Its main thesis is that there are two different ways of interpreting the Bible with regard to these four different issues. On the one hand you have the literalists, and on the other hand you have those who stress Biblical principles over some of the literal statements. And guess what? The literalists defended southern slavery, while those who stressed Biblical principles, like Galatians 3:28, were against it.

    The problem here is that you argue in the same manner as those who defended southern slavery when you think you can treat false teachers the same way Jesus treated them. Others, like Touchstone, stress Biblical principles like loving the way the Good Samaritan did, who was considered an outcast, a half-bread, and a worshipper at a false temple.

    I think Christians on both sides of the fence can defend their views here, because there are Biblical stories and verses that support both sides, just as Christians disagree about the relationship of the church to the culture (See H. Richard Niebuhr's classic book, Christ and Culture).

    But I maintain that the side that a Christian takes with regard to how to treat false teachers is more likely to be based upon his or her own personality. Hateful, self-righteous, know-it-all, competitive, arrogant and angry people will simply have the strong tendency to interpret the Bible the way Steve and Paul do. For this reason, I think Steve and Paul ought to question their own views on the matter, since other Christians disagree, and they seem to have a propensity by their personality to want to adopt this position, anyway. Just search your hearts next time you pray and ask God if what this atheist just said is true! ;-)

    But on they go. They are right about everything. Everyone else, even many other Christians, are wrong, which is another personality induced my-way-or-the-highway type interpretation of what an apologist is supposed to do.

    They will refuse to see it as it is, especially since it comes from me. They wouldn't believe me if I told one of them their fly was down! ;-) Ease up. I can be right once-in-a-while.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Just to set the record straight, I affirm the full historicity of Adam and the Fall. It's as real and historical and event as ever was, but it's related to us through symbols and allegory in Genesis, according to my reading.

    In regard to this, as discussed and debated in the various posts and comboxes here on Triablogue, Touchstone has yet to explain some inconsistencies in his argumentation.

    For the sake of the lurkers and others, although we've been over this ground before, I'd like to repeat one line of argument that Touchstone has attempted to employ, and point out its inconsistencies.

    It might begin with the question, how does Touchstone reconcile his belief in a literal and historical Adam and Eve with his belief in theistic evolution? And by phrases such as "the full historicity" and "real and historical and [sic] event as ever was," Touchstone does not mean what Steve means when he thinks of Adam and Eve. That is, when Touchstone talks about Adam and Eve, what he really means is Adam and Eve evolved from a proto-human or an ape-man since he believes in human evolution. So getting back to the question, how does Touchstone reconcile his belief in evolution and his belief in the Bible? By contending that God selected at least one male and one female proto-human (ape-man) and gave them a soul or spirit.

    One problem with this is that the Bible itself does not teach this. It is just Touchstone importing his beliefs into the text. For example, the Bible teaches in Gen. 2:7, "then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature."

    Thus, if we are to believe Gen. 2:7, man was formed directly from the ground. There was no proto-human already in existence whom God selected and gave a soul.

    But Touchstone evades this by saying that the Genesis account should be read as allegory. (Or myth.) That the Gen. 2:7 verse should be taken to mean something like "the Lord God formed proto-human or ape-man of dust from the ground, and after several million years, took proto-human, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and proto-human became what we would today know as man."

    There are several problems with this. For one, there is no time lapse between when God took man from the ground and breathed into him the breath of life in Gen. 2:7. The time lapse must be read into the text. Which presumably is what Touchstone does. But it would be much simpler and much clearer -- and much more in line with reading it as an ancient Israelite would read it -- to read the text as stating God created man from the ground, breathed life into him, and man became alive, that is, a living creature.

    Also, the verse states that the selfsame man which God formed from the ground, after God breathed into him the breath of life, became a living creature. It was not a proto-human who by virtue of God's breath of life somehow became a man.

    Again, Touchstone's fallback position is that the Genesis account should be read as allegory. No differently than, say, a Babylonian creation myth. But on what grounds does Touchstone believe the Genesis creation account is analagous to, say, a Babylonian creation myth in the first place?

    Moreover, Touchstone has stated that to not read the Genesis account is to read Genesis as "a science textbook." But the one doesn't necessarily imply the other. To not read Genesis as allegory is not then automatically reading it as "a science textbook." Also, no YEC or OEC that I know of merely assumes that Genesis should be read as "a science textbook" without other considerations.

    In any case, Touchstone has to import his ideas into the text of Genesis rather than reading Genesis on its own terms. Touchstone is reading theistic evolution into these verses. Furthermore he's assuming without argument that Genesis is no different than a Babylonian creation myth. He has yet to back up his contention why Genesis should be read as allegory or myth.

    I should also point out that Touchstone recently attempted to shift the burden of proof onto us. Since it's his contention that the first few chapters of Genesis should be read as allegory, isn't the onus on him to argue for this position? Of course it is. But as I pointed out in the post, it's like he has accused me of murder and also asked me to prove that I committed the murder. Sorry to butcher Shakespeare, but it seems to me something is rotten in the state of Touchstone's argumentation here.

    What's more, as you can see in the same post I link to in the above paragraph, Touchstone had been working with a mistaken understanding of allegory and symbolism. Originally, he thought the two were the same, viz. symbolism and allegory were interchangeable terms. As I point out in the post, they are not necessarily the same. I mention this because it may be an indication of a lack of familiarity of literary genres on his part. I hope I'll stand corrected, but again the onus is on him to make a sound argument for his position.

    At this point, however, and as Gene Bridges has astutely pointed out, and again this is not at all a personal attack but an observation based on his words thus far, Touchstone appears "ignorant of Biblical criticism."

    ReplyDelete
  9. Paul,

    You said:
    Care to substantiate this, touchstone?

    and:

    He didn't get "fed up." He was in over his head. He showed his hand (borrowing Craig), bluffed, got called, and then couldn't do anything.

    I don't think Exapologist found anything in the scripture quotes intimidating -- one supposes he's probably seen them before. What I was referring to with the "fed up" part was this from you:

    I'd stick to critiquing Plantinga's free will argument if I were you. Theology and eschatology and Bible knowledge are obviously not your strong suits, but I've come to expect as much from apostates. It's always so much easier to find "problems" in what you've never bothered to really study.

    In other words:

    Exapologist, you are stupid.

    Exapologist, remember you will burn in hell, and I will be in heaven.

    Exapologist, you are so pathetic you didn't even try.


    I don't know Exapologist, but from what I understand he is a PhD candidate in philosophy some where. Reading his arguments, it's quite clear to me he's both familiar with the scriptural texts and the relevant schools of thought about it on this issue. I don't agree with his conclusions, but it would be quite obnoxious to say the things you've said, given his background, and his words here.

    Reading some of his previous posts reveal that he's got a good grasp of a lot of subtle issues, and can communicate well. That doesn't mean he's right, but honesty and honor demand that we give him his due for the skills and virtues he does bring to the table.

    So, I'd wager that he got fed up right there, and realized what he was dealing with in debating this with you: bad will, and a kind of triumphal narcissism that put you out of reach of productive exchange.

    Here, you've given your analysis that poor Exapologist was simply outclassed by your, undermatched to your exquisite skills and righteousness. It fairly confirms locally what was signaled in your reply to Exapologist: you're inclined to see yourself as triumphant victor, come what may, and no one can *prove* otherwise.

    No how.

    Debate is very much about honor, and I think it is on this plane that Exapologist found continuing with you futile.

    -Touchstone

    ReplyDelete
  10. TOUCHSTONE SAID:

    “You're going to make up your mind. Am I a ‘fawns and bunny rabbits’ kind of guy or not? On the one hand, it looks like you believe I am. But then you proceed to complain about my savaging of YEC theology. Are these two compatible? If they are, maybe I *am* a ‘fawns and bunny’ rabbits Christian.”

    Simple. You have one standard for yourself and another standard for your opponents.

    “I find those two feature of engage other people to be highly compatible with the witness of Jesus Christ. When Jesus talked to the woman caught in adultery in John 8, he didn't countenance her immorality. He told her to ‘go, and sin no more.’ Be he said this in the midst of showing kindness, and mercy, and justice, and grace. My guess is that the grace and mercy He showed her were compelling, life transforming effects, and that she resolved to change her ways, her life.”

    If your best prooftext is a noncanonical interpolation, then you’re running on empty.

    “Debate and apologetics seems to me to be just a venue to vent your spleen, and to demonstrate how righteous and smart you really are. I may be wrong, but having read a bunch of your posts now, I think I could assemble an absolutely tragic ensemble of quotes from your past posts that would make a compelling argument for my hypothesis to any disinterested observers who wanted to analyze it…You gain the cathartic satisfaction of indulging your venomous feelings, and others get turned off.”

    Notice that Touchstone is every bit as judgmental as he thinks we are.

    “Just remember that people can and do read here that never weigh in to comment, they just simply move on, turned off by the indulgences you and Paul take for yourselves.”

    The weekly traffic report I receive on T-blog belies your armchair assertions.

    “Just to set the record straight, I affirm the full historicity of Adam and the Fall. It's as real and historical and event as ever was, but it's related to us through symbols and allegory in Genesis, according to my reading.”

    No, you don’t affirm the historicity of Adam or the Fall. This is a semantic shell-game of yours.

    What you affirm, rather, is that *something* happened involving *someone* or another, but we can’t know what *really* happened, to whom, or by whom, since our only record of this event is an allegorical myth or mythical allegory. What you affirm, then, is a blank to be penciled in by evolution.

    You affirm *that* something happened, but you can’t affirm *what* happened.

    You affirm a real event involving real agents, but you deny that we have a realistic account of the event, so we’re completely in the dark regarding the actual identity of the participants or the actual nature of the event.

    So your affirmation rings completely hollow once we strip away the equivocations.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Touchstone, while you and I disagree with each other much more than you do with Steve or Paul. It's futile to argue with them.

    Go bang your head against a wall. It's the same thing.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Touchstone,

    You said,

    " Paul had the makings of some good points, but was so intent on indulging himself in his aggression and self-congratulation that Exapologist, a very capable and thoughtful writer, just gave up on him."

    And you example was when I said,

    "I'd stick to critiquing Plantinga's free will argument if I were you. Theology and eschatology and Bible knowledge are obviously not your strong suits, but I've come to expect as much from apostates. It's always so much easier to find "problems" in what you've never bothered to really study."

    and then you said,

    "So, I'd wager that he got fed up right there, and realized what he was dealing with in debating this with you:"


    Hmmmm, well:

    1) You cited something I said in MY FIRST POST and he continued on with me. So, obviously he didn't get fed up "right there" now did he?

    2) Secondly, he's the one who made the claim that Christianity was "pretty clearly false." He acted arrogant and needed to be brought back down to earth.

    3) My paragraph you quoted was AFTER what went on in his combox. I gave perfectly calm responses to his post and he totally failed to interact with me. All he did was to site a paragraph by Bill Craig (which disagreed with HIS OWN POSITION) and hope that Craig carried all the weight for him. But, I pointed out where Craig had misunderstood and misrepresented partial-preterism.

    He STILL DIDN'T INTERACT and with his endorsment of Craig he showed that he didn't understand my position.

    Actually, my position on the matter totally defeated his argument (no two ways around it).

    At this point I rightly pointed out that he needed to keep his nose in his own business.

    In fact, I recognozed his filed of expertise! I just let him know his limitations.

    4) Really, was what I said all that bad? You've said just as much as what I said to him in your discussions with Steve.

    C'mon, telling the guy to stick to reading Plantinga. Give me a break. How delicate you are.

    5) He IS an apostate. He knwos this. I simply called him what he is, by definition. And you say that that's mean??

    6) There was 98% substance in my post. Focusing on my claim, as you and he has, is a handy way to get out of having to deal with the SUBTANCE of my post.

    7) The bottom line, exapologist talked the talk but couldn't walk the walk.

    He's arrogant and thinks he has "clear arguments" against the turth of Christianity.

    Wehn he gets called on the carpet, and can't support his claim, and doesn't get worshipped because he's getting a Ph.D., then he throws a temper tantrum

    8) Further, both I and Jasosn showed his myriad misinterpretations with biblical texts. And so i was correct that he seemed ignorant of the bible. Such is the case with almost every apostate I run into.

    9) If the above is the ONLY thing you can point out to show that I was a big ole meany, then I think it's pretty obvious that you're grasping at straws.

    10) The atheists we've dealt with here have lost the intellectual war. Now they result to character assasination.

    It allows them to sleep at night to not have to think about the *arguments* and just focus on how we told them to go read a book.

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  13. Furthermore, touchstone, exapologist said he'd let people judge the merits of the case.

    This implied that he thought he won *substantively.*

    So, what do you think? Put aside your emotions and do the great Ph.D. student a favor and judge his arguments and mine.

    Why focus on emotion.

    It's funny that all you guys who act like you just want to focus on the fact, always end up focusing on emotion.

    Why not drop it and only respond to the subatnce?

    How come over 95% of my posts are pure argumentation, and about 5% is sarcastic rhetoric, but the responses to me are almost always 99% sarcastic rhetoric and 1% substance.

    Why is that?

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  14. What is a wall?

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  15. Paul,

    I've gone farther than I ought in supposing what Exapologist was thinking, so I'll say it this way:

    My read on the exchange was that there wasn't anything novel being covered at that point. My sense was that you were talking quite past each other, to frame it without prejudice to either side, and so it appeared that Exapologist had decided he'd played his best cards, and nothing remained except reiteration.

    When that happens, I just take a look to size up the substance of what was offered. Not as to whether I agree with it or not, but whether it represents a good faith effort to address the problem. Exapologist made follow up posts that drove at what *I* see also as the crux of the issue, even as a tentative partial preterist myself:

    Exapologist said:
    However, I don't see a principled basis for thinking that the distinction applies to the passages. If we go to the "little apocalypse" of Mk. and its parallels in Matt. and Lk., we have Jesus giving us a sequence of events that matches the sequence that Paul mentions in 1 Thessalonians:

    1. The Lord (or Son of Man in the Gospel passages) descends with the trump of an angel.

    2. The gathering of the elect.

    On a natural interpretation, the sequence that Jesus lists in the Gospel passages and the sequence that Paul lists in 1 Thess. refer to the same event. But in the Gospels, this occurs with the destruction of Jerusalem. Therefore, since it's natural to read them as the same event, we should take the coming of the Lord described in them to involve the general resurrection.


    I think that's a pretty thoughtful encapsulation of the problem. And there's no denying that this is a pretty sticky problem for Christian theology. It's not a stretch I don't think to say there is an "ad-hoc" nature to the response splitting these. I think it's the somewhat unnatural "price" to be paid to get things to cohere.

    Exapologist makes a good point, and pushes right on a seam that isn't particularly strong for partial preterists. Does that mean I grant his denial that they *were* distinct? No, but for me there's an integrity issue in being generous here. Rather than "outclassing" Exapologist I would admit that my natural reading without other demands would agree with his, or I'd at least it would occur to me for consideration.

    When the other guy makes a good point, it's the right thing to do to admit the difficulty. And it *is* a difficulty, a *surmountable* for me, and apparently an insurmountable one for him.

    But, it seems you fail to even see the difficulty here. You said later something to the effect that "similar does not equate to identity", which signaled to me a retreat into lawyerly defenses rather than a clear-eyed view of the problem.

    It's a tough problem to address as a partial preterist, and while that's how I lean, I don't emerge triumphantly, declaring victory and supremacy as a rhetorical demi-urge when the problem is pointed out. I'm not completely comfortable with the "naturalness" of that reading that I've put on it, and understand Exapologists point. But I have problems with all the other alternative "mills" that I've been over too.

    Eschatology is problematic for Christianity. Does that diminish it's truth? Not in the least. I have faith that the answer and resolution is in there somewhere, but I realize I will probably not come near to the certainty you seem to have on this issue. I don't have all the answers. All I can do is explain things as far as I understand them, and claim that my faith in God's ultimate answer will have to suffice for the rest.

    I've spent time in the past being quite certain about this issue, but I now consider that over-reaching, claiming knowledge I really didn't have, due to a perception that if I was a good defender of the faith that I *must* have it, and have it with certainty, such that I can run circles around anyone who thinks differently.

    Anyway, my sense at the time was that Exapologist understood this to be a bit of an epistemic seam in Christian theology, and if he couldn't even reach a point where you understood that this was a touchy bit of exegesis no matter which way you sliced it -- Craig's way, the (partial) preterist way, or one of the other known methods for slicing it, it produced difficulties.

    Your stance seemed like a determined effort to deny there was even a difficulty here, which really dims the forecast for an interesting discussion about how it might be resolved.

    -Touchstone

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  16. Touchstone,

    Actually, I gave avery full and robust defense of my position.

    The similarity and idenity was ONE point out of how many, TWENTY.

    I spend amny words on his numer one and number two.

    Anyway, it appears that you would have LIKED me to take my time saying, "Oh, what a good point and insightful problem."

    Sorry I don't do things the way YOU want me to.

    I didn't think it was a tough problem. Maybe I should lie?
    SO, now we've seen that you haven't bothered to even TAKE INBTO ACCOUNT my full response and resolution of the problem.

    You made no effort to comment on my RESPONSE to his "insightful" point.

    You paint the picture as me JUST saying "similarity does not imply identiity" but then you fail to mention that I made 19 OTHER POINTS about the matter.

    Why did you do that?

    Why are you misleading people?

    That's not very "Christian" of you.

    Shoe's on the other foot?

    Basically, your critique of me boils down to this:

    I didn't think there was as big of a problem there as do you and exapologist.

    Well sue me. next time I'll lie. Not my fault that when one looks at the passage for more than a few minutes the difficulty disolves.

    I pointed out that the trumpet event COULD NOT BE the same.

    I pointed out that "gathering the lect" COULD NOT BE the same.

    It is OBVIOUS to me that they are not.

    I've done my homework on the matter.

    Sorry for being confident in my view.

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  17. Touchstone,

    In case you didn't read my entire post, here was my reponse to exapologist.

    Remember, he calls the below "ad hoc."




    Hi EA,

    So now your case is that because similar language is used that implies identical events? How's that argument go? Similarity implies identity?

    So the question is, does the Bible use similar language to refer to different events in other cases? Yes, Christ cleansed the temple twice, but in different ways. There is a spiritual resurrection, and a bodily one. &c.

    Now, let's look at your specific case (though my points above are enough to throw the burden off myself and back on to you, I'll still proceed):

    Let's quote 1 Thess 4:



    13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.


    And let's quote the relevant portion in Matt. 24:



    29 "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.


    And so Exapologist says that these two events:

    "1. The Lord (or Son of Man in the Gospel passages) descends with the trump of an angel.

    2. The gathering of the elect. "

    imply that the exact same thing is being referred to. I don’t think so. Here’s his argument for why they’re the same:

    “On a natural interpretation, the sequence that Jesus lists in the Gospel passages and the sequence that Paul lists in 1 Thess. refer to the same event.”

    I obviously don’t find that terribly compelling, for some odd reason.

    Anyway, here’s my argument for why they’re not the same:

    THE TRUMPET BLAST

    1) I already showed that “heavenly body” language (e.g., stars, moons) is used over and over in the Old Testament to refer to a shift or a destruction of authority.

    2) The shift in authority is that Jesus now reigns. He’s the King. This is the ending of the Old Covenant people of God. The unfaithful, whore bride, Israel. Jesus ushers in the last days.

    3) I argued that “coming on the clouds” is Old Testament judgment language.

    4) None of this has been dealt with.

    5) Notice that some events are different, or non-existent. So why doesn’t this count against exapologist’s reading? He seems a bit arbitrary, picking and choosing.

    6) Notice that the language is roughly similar, but it’s not the same:

    a) The Lord descends with a loud trumpet in 1 Thess, but he sends out the messengers with a loud trumpet in Matt 24.

    b) Matt 24 does not say “gathering the elect,” and so why does he assume these are the same events?

    7) Thus exapologist’s argument is similar, but not identical, to Swiss Cheese.

    8) Since I showed differences between the trumpet soundings in both passages, here’s my view of the trumpet sounding in Matt 24:

    What’s going on here is that Christ sends his “messengers” (aggeloi should be translated messenger, as it is elsewhere) to preach the gospel, gathering in the elect. Chilton states,

    “The word angels simply means messengers (cf. James 2:25), regardless of whether their origin is heavenly or earthly; it is the context which determines whether these are heavenly creatures being spoken of. The word often means preachers of the gospel (see Matt. 11:10; Luke 7:24; 9:52; Rev. 1-3). In context, there is every reason to assume that Jesus is speaking of the worldwide evangelism and conversion of the nations which will follow upon the destruction of Israel.”

    “The trumpet portrays the ultimate Jubilee of Salvation, decorated with imagery from Leviticus 25. …Christ’s messengers will go forth powerfully trumpeting the gospel of salvific liberation (Luke 4:16-21, Isa. 61:1-3; Lev. 25. 9-10)” -Ken Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, p.362.


    9) In 1 Thessalonians 4, the trumpet is used to announce Jesus descending. In Matt 24 it is used in reference to the sending out of messengers.

    10) Once a little work is put into it we see that his reading isn’t “the natural” reading. It’s the lazy one.

    THE GATHERING OF THE ELECT.

    11) Exapologist’s other move is to say the events are the same because of “the gathering of the elect.”

    12) Much of the same points made above can be made here:

    a) Similarity does not imply identity.

    b) The accounts are not even similar.

    13) In my view the “gathering of the elect” in Matthew 24 is nicely summarized by David Chilton in Paradise Restored:

    “Christ's use of the word gather is significant in this regard. The word, literally, is a verb meaning to synagogue; the meaning is that with the destruction of the Temple and of the Old Covenant system, the Lord sends out His messengers to gather His elect people into His New Synagogue. Jesus is actually quoting from Moses, who had promised: "If your outcasts are at the ends of heaven, from there the LORD your God will synagogue you, and from there he will take you" (Deut. 30:4, Septuagint). Neither text has anything to do with the Rapture; both are concerned with the restoration and establishment of God's House, the organized congregation of His covenant people. This becomes even more pointed when we remember what Jesus had said just before this discourse:

    O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to synagogue your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your House is being left to you desolate! (Matt. 23:37-38).

    Because Jerusalem apostatised and refused to be synagogued under Christ, her Temple would be destroyed, and a New Synagogue and Temple would be formed: the Church. The New Temple was created, of course, on the Day of Pentecost, when the Spirit came to indwell the Church. But the fact of the new Temple's existence would only be made obvious when the scaffolding of the Old Temple and the Old Covenant system was taken away. The Christian congregations immediately began calling themselves "synagogues" (that is the word used in James 2:2), while calling the Jewish gatherings "synagogues of Satan" (Rev. 2:9; 3:9). Yet they lived in anticipation of the Day of Judgment upon Jerusalem and the Old Temple, when the Church would be revealed as the true Temple and Synagogue of God. Because the Old Covenant system was "obsolete" and "ready to disappear" (Heb. 8:13), the writer to the Hebrews urged them to have hope, "not forsaking the synagoguing of ourselves together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the Day approaching" (Heb. 10:25; cf. 2nd Thess. 2:1-2).

    The Old Testament promise that God would "synagogue" His people undergoes one major change in the New Testament. Instead of the simple form of the word, the term used by Jesus has the Greek preposition epi prefixed to it. This is a favorite New Covenant expression, which intensifies the original word. What Jesus is saying, therefore, is that the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70 will reveal Himself as having come with clouds to receive His Kingdom; and it will display His Church before the world as the full, the true, the super-Synagogue.”

    14) There’s no talk of those dead and those alive “in Christ” in Matt 24.

    15) There’s no talk of “the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” in 1 Thess. 4.

    16) What does the four winds mean?

    a) Usually over the earth, or known land: Jeremiah 49:36 I will bring against Elam the four winds from the four quarters of the heavens; I will scatter them to the four winds, and there will not be a nation where Elam's exiles do not go.

    b) Likewise, “from one end of heaven to the other” implies the same.

    c) Does the Bible use “whole world” language to imply known world? Put differently, does the Bible assume that the gospel has been preached to the “four winds” or “whole earth” in the sense Matt. 24 means it? I think a good case can be made:

    Colossians 1:5-6 because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth;

    Colossians 1:23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

    Romans 1:8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.


    Romans 16:25-26 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began 26 but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith;

    So, the Bible frequently means “known world” by “whole world.” Or, sometimes it means “Roman Empire.” Etc.

    17) Matt 24 says nothing about being “caught up in the air with the Lord.”

    18) Matt 24 is talking about Christ’s judgment upon Jerusalem, as well as the accompanying prophecies which occurred in the first century, 1 Thess. 4 is talking about the second advent. Believers will actually be with Jesus.

    19) There are some big differences between Matt. 24 and 1 Thess. 4 The similarity = identity hermeneutic employed by Exapologist is flawed and fallacious. There are no time texts in 1 Thess. 4. The resurrection is mentioned in 1 Thess. 4, not in Matt 24. The resurrection comes at the end, after Jesus has put all His enemies under his feet (this has not happened yet).

    20) Exapologist’s fine brash argument has died the death of a thousand assumptions and assertions. What started out as an argument against Christianity turns out to be an argument for Christianity. Jesus promised that not one stone would be left upon another. Because of rumors that gold may have been hidden in the stonework of the Temple, the Roman soldiers completely tore apart the Temple, fulfilling Jesus prophecy that not one stone would be left upon another.

    This was a huge prophecy, yet no one in the New Testament mentions it? One would think that if the NT writers had “invented” the prophecy, and they wrote the NT after 70 AD, then they would have noted that Jesus fulfilled his prophecy. But there’s nary a word. Silence. And in my view that’s because the temple was still standing when the writers of the NT wrote their letters.

    Jesus predicted it, it happened.

    Kiss the Son lest ye parish in the way.

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  18. Oh, and Toushstone, let's be honest,

    Exapologist isn't doing what you tell me to do.

    He's taking something and saying that it CLEARLY shows Christianity to be false.

    That sounds like he's just as "arrogant" as me.

    So, why does exapologist get off the hook and I don't? Is that because he's goig for his Ph.D?

    I mean, I pointed out how I don't think there's a problem and somehow I'm an ass.

    But exapologist says that his argument shows CLEARLY how Christianity is false, and he's the nicest blogger on the web.

    Touchstone, your boases are coming out load and clear.

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  19. Paul,

    You are such a spaz...

    And yes, that is a technical description.

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  20. Anonymous,

    Better watch out or I'll tell touchstone on you.

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  21. Paul,

    I'm not sure how to put this more clearly. I don't think the problem is a slamdunk as much as you do, but I've no problem with you presenting your case as if it's a slam dunk. My read on what Exapologist said was that he did not see you even identifying the problem, hence loggerheads in the discussion. It may be just one point, but if that's the *central* point, it's the central point.

    But I don't have any trouble with you stating your case clearly and forcefully, even if it's not an argument I endorse. As I said, I don't buy subscribe to Exapologist's conclusions overall on this matter. Generally, I think you were pointed in the right direction if over-reaching a bit.

    But that really isn't a problem for me. I can and do get along famously with all manner of arguments, from KJV-Onlyists to cynical atheists. I don't accept a lot of them as true or even compelling, but I can recognize and honor good will in any man, I hope.

    I've pointed out the objections about tone in the original exchange. A strong indicator of a problem in my experience is triumphalism. As a rule of thumb, one's tendency to pronounce oneself the victor is inversely related to their quality as a discussion partner.

    It's empirically a very strong correlation. And you have a high rate of declaring yourself the victor.

    -Touchstone

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  22. Touchstone,

    I did identify the problem since I quoted him and then spent the rest of my somewhat long post dealing with the only two points he brought up.

    I'm confused with your argument. it appears as if you just want to win.

    Look, exapologists the guy who called my position "absurd" and said Christianity was "clearly" false.

    Looks like he is "triumphalistic." Look like he "declared himself the winner."

    So why pick on me?

    This just appears to be your personal agenda because when Elijah, Jesus, Paul, and exapologist do the same things I do you don't rail on them.

    You've cited NOTHING wrong with my posts to him except an off-handed remark at the END of my post. That remark wasn't half as bad as things you've said here, or he said.

    So, I think there's something else driving your complaints against me.

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  23. Paul,

    Clearly[sic], a post title like "Pretty Clearly, Christianity is False" is over the top. I hadn't ever read a post by Exapologist prior to the "Pretty clearly" one.

    But there's an asymmetry at work here, and it's important. I don't hold Exapologist to the same standards I hold myself, and you to. He's not representing Jesus Christ. He doesn't proclaim his name. Exapologists self-indulgences don't discredit the Gospel when he takes a cheap shot, or uses wicked sarcasm. I've no higher standard to hold him to (at least that I know of). His problems and venomous words simply underscore the need for a savior, to the extent he engages in that.

    But for you and I, things are different. We are ambassadors for Christ, all the time, in every little thing we do, like it or not. So you have a Christian blog with scripture in your logo, and you operate this blog under the banner of Christ.

    That puts a very high standard in front of you. And me.

    If Exapologist makes a fool of himself, what do I care? But if you do, the Gospel is shamed and disgraced. The credibility and potency of Jesus' transforming love and grace is undercut.

    So, yes, I have a double standard. I don't expect the same from unbelievers as I expect from you. I don't have to agree with you theologically, in large or in small, but all believers are bound to the cause of representing Christ. Not just in their "points", but in the small things: gestures, words, hints, attitudes, all of it.

    People get a read on people eventually, and tone says much more than you think it does.

    -Touchstone

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  24. Problem is that if he didn't then it's not *necessarily* the case that I did.

    The bigger problem is that standard you hold is that satndard YOU hold.

    When we look at the Bible, we see men who you "would expect more from" mocking unbelievers, being triumphalistic, calling them names, etc.

    So, again, the problem with your argument is that it proves too much.

    Paul knew enough to say "where is the debater of this age"? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?"

    I assume if you lived back then and read his letter, you'd write him a letter and tell him he's not acting regenerate.

    I'll bet you'd chastise Elijah for resorting to bathroom humor, potty jokes.

    You see Touchstone, here's my motto:

    I try my hardest to maked sure I'm not trying to be more holy than Jesus

    Exapologist calls my arguments "absurd" and coems with the dogma that "Christianity is clearly false," well he needs to be embarrassed for that.

    The conversation was going just fine until he simply mocked it and hoped his Ph.D. aspirations would allow him to make dogmatic assertions. That I'd cower in fear.

    He gives off the impression that he thinks Christianity is irrational and Christians are so dumb that they believe things which are "clearly false." We're like flat-earthers.

    Well, he had a too-big-for-his-britches moment.

    I have a method. Some people don't like it.

    Look, I don't get in the way of those who god uses to bring some gentle words to someone, don;t get in my way.

    Sometimes God uses an ass to get a job done.

    Sometimes he uses a dove.

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