Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Tony Blair’s PC Political Christianity

Perhaps it is inevitable.

One moulds one’s faith to conform to one’s character, one’s proclivities, one’s idiosyncrasies, sometimes so much so that God ends up reflecting one’s own likeness to such an extent that He appears to have no function but to affirm one’s prejudices and to do one’s bidding; permitting what one admits and prohibiting what one rejects. There are those who would say that this is the very foundation of the Church of England. There is a Christ for every personality; a christology for every narrative.

Christians, of course, are exhorted to change their characters into the likeness of the One who redeemed them; to be transformed into His likeness.

But since Tony Blair converted to Roman Catholicism, he has been doing God an awful lot and doing his damnedest to transform Rome into his likeness: to infect the Papacy with New Labourisms; to make a Blairite of the Pope; to put a postmodern spin on the ancient creeds; to transform the Vatican into a branch of the ecumenical, multi-faith Tony Blair Faith Foundation.

Cherie Blair has been getting in on the act as well.

Humility does not appear to be among the Blairs’ nurtured fruits of the Spirit.

Ruth Gledhill has commented briefly on Tony Blair’s latest sermon, noting his reference to the ‘dark side’ of religion. She conveniently provides a link to the whole speech HERE.

It is illuminating for a number of reasons, not least of which is his admission that he has gained greater insight into the Israel-Palestine issue since being out of political office, which ought to concern those Israelis and Palestinians who pin their hopes on Barack Obama or Gordon Brown (if any should be so deluded as to do so). The reality is that one cannot grasp the political complexities of this conflict without a sincere appreciation of the theological roots and the spiritual forces at work. And there really is only one man equipped for the task.

Clearly, Tony Blair has had his sixth sense activated. Of course, much of what he says is tedious pantheistic waffle. But there are a few gems of insight which are worthy of reflection, and one or two religio-political truths which David Cameron and the Conservative Party must grasp if they are engage with the new context at the deepest level.

Mr Blair says: ‘Faith matters. It matters, in fact, whether you are religious or not, or even anti-religious. It matters because it inspires people to act. That can be for ill, as we see when extremism captures parts of the faith community. Or it can be for good, as with “Making Poverty History”. But the point is, to ignore the role of faith is to be blind to a dimension of the world that plays a part in the thinking and attitudes of billions of people.’

When politicians grasp this, they will not only have a deeper appreciation of human motivation, but a potential key to the resolution of a myriad of intractable global problems. While theocracy must be discouraged, England has shown that there may be a benign expression in public doctrine which enhances democracy.

He continues: ‘Yet it also clearly presents dilemmas and can cause feelings of mistrust and opposition. This can be because of positions of some religious people on issues such as gender equality (especially in relation to issues like maternal mortality on which DFID is rightly running a big campaign), sexuality or contraception. It can also be because some think that people of faith have always some ulterior motive to their “good work,” through evangelising or proselytising or even conversion.’

This swipe at his own adopted religion is unsurprising, though it reveals a profound ignorance of its traditions and perceived raison d’être. And one is left wondering why he converted to Rome at all when his former spiritual home was far more conducive to his religio-political priorities. The Church of England has embraced gender equality to the extent of ordaining women priests and admitting them to the episcopate; it actively encourages gay marriage (or ‘blessing’) and has endorsed mass contraception since its invention.

If these are Tony Blair’s religio-political priorities, why did he depart from the church which accords with such obsessions?

The speech, from a Roman Catholic, is quite remarkable for not mentioning Jesus once, or even quoting from the Bible. Yet there is a quotation from what he refers to as ‘the Holy Qu’ran’ in relation to ‘vying with each other in good works’.

One wonders why he did not quote from the Holy Bible the words of the Lord or St Paul on this very theme.

And then he wanders to ‘the dark side of strong belief’, noting ‘People who hold deep convictions about life and its purpose necessarily can be prone to holding those views to excess or to the point of prejudice’.

Quite so.

And the same may be said of political ideology. But Mr Blair has transfirgured: he is no longer concerned with temporal matters. He has become a Lord Spiritual, imbued with great enlightenment. He reveals that ‘in recent years, most mainstream religious faiths have been prey to the influence of extremist groups who see faith as a badge of identity in opposition to those of a different faith’.

Really?

While ‘extremist’ is relative, one has to wonder at a convert to Roman Catholicism who asserts that it is somehow unacceptable to ‘see faith as a badge of identity in opposition to those of a different faith’.

Faith is intrinsic to identity, and conversion is an ‘extreme’ manifestation of religious identity as it involves the repudiation of one ‘badge’ and the adoption of another. Conversion is offensive. There are those who might assert that Mr Blair has himself become an extremist – an apologist for his particular brand of Catholicism, a zealot for inter-religiosity and a prophet of climate change.

There is much to commend in this speech, not least because it is essentially an exhortation to love one’s neighbour. But it is irritating that the Light is hidden under a bushel of flattery towards Islam. No Muslim would have been offended if Tony Blair had quoted from the Bible the words of Jesus, not least because ‘The Book’ and Isa constitute part of the history of Islam and its canon of scripture.

Towards the end of his speech, he reveals: ‘When I began my Foundation, I would from time to time say we needed it to promote greater tolerance between those of different faiths. I now don’t use the word “tolerance” in this context. We shouldn’t “tolerate” those of a different faith. We should be humble enough to accept that we cannot either circumscribe or define adequately God’s will. So though we may disagree with those of another faith, though we hold true to our own faith we should not have the arrogance merely to tolerate a person whose faith is different; but instead respect them as an equal.’

While it is wholly right to treat people of all faiths as equal, this is to be distinguished from treating all faiths as equal.

When Tony Blair has found the courage to articulate this truth, of which his own conversion is the very incarnation, he might just understand that God’s will is most adequately revealed in the Holy Bible, from which it is no sin for the Christian to quote.

76 Comments:

Anonymous Maturecheese said...

You Grace, I take it this means the spin machine is going to expand from No 10 to the pulpit. New Labour New Christianity Brave New World.

9 September 2009 at 09:07  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blair = Nu Labour = marxism + islamism

And as we know, marxism and islamism encourage you to lie/spin to unbelievers. Blair is no more Roman Catholic than I am a saint. The Pope isn’t a fool, though why he tolerates this recent false convert is anyone’s guess.

9 September 2009 at 09:22  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Tony Blair is as religious as something squeezed out of my dog's bottom but nowhere near as honest.

Sorry to be so crude, Your Grace, but the man is an absolute Cnut.

9 September 2009 at 09:34  
Anonymous Kwelos said...

Islam is not a religion.

9 September 2009 at 09:36  
Blogger Sir Watkin said...

"The Church of England [...] actively encourages gay marriage (or ‘blessing’)"

Are you sure about this? All the official pronouncements would seem actively to discourage gay marriages/blessings. Such things do happen, but as a matter of private enterprise and without official sanction.

"has endorsed mass contraception since its invention"

What precisely is "mass contraception"?

Be that as it may, the Anglican Communion historically held to the traditional view on contraception. Thus the 1920 Lambeth Conference uttered "an emphatic warning against the use of unnatural means for the avoidance of conception".

The 1930 Conference allowed the use of contraceptives, but only in limited circumstances. This remains the official Anglican position. It is by no means an unqualified endorsement of contraception. To quote Lambeth 1930, the "primary and obvious method is complete abstinence from intercourse."

9 September 2009 at 10:28  
Blogger True Belle said...

Dare I comment on Mr Blair- is he trying to tell us something about his failings or is he moralising?

Cardinal sin

any of the sins, usually numbering seven, dating back to the early history of Christian monasticism; they were grouped together as early as the 6th century by St. Gregory the Great. A sin was classified as deadly not merely because it was a serious offense morally but because "it gives rise to others, especially in the manner of a final cause" or motivation (St. Thomas Aquinas). The traditional catalog of the seven deadly sins is: (1) vainglory, or pride; (2) covetousness; (3) lust, understood as inordinate or illicit sexual desire; (4) envy; (5) gluttony, which usually included drunkenness; (6) anger; and (7) sloth. The classical discussion of the subject is in the Summa Theologica, by the 13th-century theologian St. Thomas Aquinas. The deadly sins were a popular theme in the morality plays and art of the European Middle Ages

9 September 2009 at 10:40  
Blogger Preacher said...

Blair's 'conversion' has nothing to do with faith or belief, While he was PM he didn't have the guts to make any proclamation of belief, yet now he presumes to speak like a prophet to the rest of us unenlightened ones. His Narcissus complex & lust for power is all he believes in & his move to Rome was simply a means to an end that he thinks will further his ambitions.

9 September 2009 at 10:47  
Blogger Arden Forester said...

I would think PC here stands for Problematic Catholic, because Tony Blair seems to be very much what you say he is. His "conversion" is rather odd considering how others do it. The Episcopalian nuns who converted last week had seven years of "instruction" (as if they were oblivious of Catholic doctrine!), but Blair got about seven seconds - and he is oblivious of Catholic doctrine.

Left to Tony Blair, the One Holy Catholic Church would become like the Pick'N Mix at Woolworths!

9 September 2009 at 11:04  
Anonymous Kwelos said...

Isn't that verse in the Koran about ‘vying with each other in good works’ one of the abrogated verses which was replaced by 'kill the ubelievers wherever you find them'?

9 September 2009 at 11:25  
Anonymous sydneysider said...

Blair's bogus conversion is a reflection on the hypocrisy of the Catholic church.He publically espouses heresies which others have been excommunicated for saying the same or less.The Church is even more diminished by not gagging or excommunicating him

9 September 2009 at 11:31  
Anonymous Knighthawk said...

Tony Blair goes on about the Faith Community as if it was an organised confederation. He discourages any deep religious belief because such people are fundamentally convinced of the truth of their religion and therefore 'prejudiced' against all others. He seems to want people to have vague or superficial spirituality, pliability that will buckle under pressure and can be conveniently moulded into shape for a politically correct, nebulous, don't upset anybody pantheism.

From a Christian perspective it seems that Tony is in danger of wandering off down the broad road that leads to destruction and not heading up the narrow way which leads to life. (Matthew 7:13-14)
Getting people of different religions to work together for the good of mankind is only laudable if one can do it without compromising fidelity to the truth.

It was Jesus Christ who said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
There is no wriggle room here, no refuge in neutrality, we're talking Fundamentalism with a capital F. Either Jesus Christ is the truth or he's a fraud. So which is it to be Tony? Are you for Christ or antichrist? Do spin us an answer.

9 September 2009 at 11:45  
Blogger Nick Gulliford said...

"Christians, of course, are exhorted to change their characters into the likeness of the One who redeemed them; to be transformed into His likeness".

In so far as you interpret this to mean that each of us should be transformed into our unique, authentic and fully developed - or individuated - Self, then I agree.

But some Christians make the mistake that to mimic Jesus is what is required.

As for Tony Blair, for someone who spent so many years being all things to all men, it would seem to be a tall order for him suddenly to become integrated and authentic.

9 September 2009 at 11:45  
Blogger Sir Watkin said...

"There is no wriggle room here, no refuge in neutrality [...]. Either Jesus Christ is the truth or he's a fraud." (Knighthawk)

Sadly it's not as simple as this. There are other logical possibilities, e.g.:
- This is not an accurate record of Jesus' words.
- This is an accurate record, but you're interpreting it wrongly.

9 September 2009 at 11:58  
Blogger Botogol said...

His Grace is at his best, an exquisite dissection on St Tony's 'faith'

9 September 2009 at 12:05  
Anonymous jeremy hyatt said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9 September 2009 at 12:52  
Blogger Gnostic said...

jeremy hyatt - well at least you apparently agree with the first part of my statement - the man is a dishonest piece of excrement.

Cnut or c*nt; who gives a fcuk?

And just because I call the ABC "Beardy" doesn't mean that any following comment is less relevant. When he begins to act like a real prelate instead of chief gob-piece of the religious wing of the Provisional NLA (New Labour Arseholes), I'll give him his just title. Until then I'll stick to Beardy, thanks. ;)

9 September 2009 at 13:53  
Anonymous sydneysider said...

I find jeremy hyatt's low level discourse offensive and inappropriate. His Grace must be asleep at the wheel for allowing the desecration of this once interesting and witty site.

9 September 2009 at 13:56  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

I sometimes wonder what kind of TB is worse for the world.

I often find myself thinking that I would rather take my chances with the bacterial kind.

9 September 2009 at 14:02  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

A superb analysis of the implications of Blair's thought.

Gedhill mentions that the Blair Foundation is supported by the Department for International Development and Islamic Relief - is that a new government depratment in the wake of the release of the Libyan mass murderer?

Could anyone please enlighten me further?

9 September 2009 at 14:11  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Sydneysider,

His Grace is not sleeping well at all at the moment for he has run out of Temazepam.

9 September 2009 at 14:11  
Anonymous perdix said...

I would venture to suggest that, in many parts of the world,the motivations to action by Muslims arise more from tribalism than sincere belief.

9 September 2009 at 14:33  
Anonymous jeremy hyatt said...

sydneysider said...
'I find jeremy hyatt's low level discourse offensive and inappropriate'

I'm distraught for you. I see the whited sepuchre factor is - well - as per usual.

9 September 2009 at 14:51  
Blogger Jim Bartlet said...

Very Good post YG. I am in someone else's house and have no time to read all the links, but this will give me something to do this evening. New Motorbike today, so I am being distracted. You don't have any of those temazies going spare do you? I sacked my psychiatrist yesterday and am now out on a limb so to speak. A leap of faith.

9 September 2009 at 15:38  
Anonymous sydneysider said...

Verbal viagra becomes you Mr.Hyam

9 September 2009 at 16:02  
Anonymous jeremy hyatt said...

You've lost me there old chap.

It's Hyatt by the way.

9 September 2009 at 16:12  
Blogger Gnostic said...

If Blair is really interested in equality and fairness let's see him deal with this little problem:

outrageous refusal of service

9 September 2009 at 18:10  
Anonymous len said...

T B seems to be presenting a god made in the image of man, or more precisely made in the image of what T B would like his personal god to be like.
T B`s arrogance or naivety is unbelievable.

9 September 2009 at 18:58  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

Mr Blair in his speech of 7th September 2009 said that faith:

‘…can be for good, as with "Making Poverty History." But the point is, to ignore the role of faith is to be blind to a dimension of the world that plays a part in the thinking and attitudes of billions of people.’

Yet this is the man along with the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, who have led this country into ever closer union with the new imperial power, the European Union.

The EU erects high tariffs to frustrate the importation of agricultural products from the Third World whilst growing mountains of agricultural products such as sugar within the EU.

The EU then dumps its sugar on the world markets depressing the price of sugar for Third World farmers.

That ensures that the history of the Third World remains one of poverty.

Now, gentlemen, a round of applause for Blair, Brown and their socialist best friends in the EU.

9 September 2009 at 19:38  
Anonymous Anguished Soul said...

Wish I could share your enthusiasm for the pope, Your Grace. I can't think of anyone worse to preside over Jerusalem. There is only one man fit for that job and that is one whose throne will be there. Can't wait for His return.

The pope meanwhile, might be exposed for who he really is.

9 September 2009 at 20:19  
Anonymous len said...

Amen.

9 September 2009 at 22:51  
Anonymous Bob said...

who cares - as you say in your article, religion is shaped into our own prejudices, always has been - it simply changes the rules when required to justify its existence - just look at the differing messages the Catholic church gives in Britain compared to South America

take the article to it's logical conclusion - you can take pretty much anything from the bible

in that respect Blair is no different to any other christian

10 September 2009 at 03:02  
Anonymous Voyager said...

So though we may disagree with those of another faith, though we hold true to our own faith we should not have the arrogance merely to tolerate a person whose faith is different; but instead respect them as an equal.’

Even if that is destructive of the very faith professed. Ergo, there can be no belief that is absolute but every belief must be negotiable to the point of rendering it incoherent......that has been my political philosophy said Mr Blair and is why Nick Griffin and I get along so well; and why Saddam was no real threat....you see we both believed in using military force to suit our personal agendas and leveraging State assets for private gain.....in fact I see Ghadaffi as a man with a son on the make just like myself, and I cannot see why any rules or regulations should impede a narcissist like myself from maximising my personal welfare

10 September 2009 at 05:16  
Blogger andrew holden said...

"Getting people of different religions to work together for the good of mankind is only laudable if one can do it without compromising fidelity to the truth."

Well of course - but the FAQ of the TB Faith Foundation make this clear that no-one is being asked to compromise truth claims.

"It was Jesus Christ who said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)"

Which can easily mean that lots of people from other faiths will get to the Father through an honest faith in their own religion but will find when they get to heaven that actually it has only been possible because of Jesus. You see Jesus doesn't say that you have to become a 'born-again' believer, or an RC , or whatever, to get to the Father. Take a look at Karl Rahner (RC Theologian) and his treatment of 'anonymous Christians'. Maybe Blair has read some of his theology.

10 September 2009 at 08:30  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Which can easily mean that lots of people from other faiths will get to the Father through an honest faith in their own religion but will find when they get to heaven that actually it has only been possible because of Jesus

Denying The Resurrection seems to inhibt Faith in Jesus as The son of God

10 September 2009 at 10:36  
Anonymous Knighthawk said...

Karl Rahners “Anonymous Christian” idea has been highly criticized because it is uncomfortably close to Universalism. It has been denounced by conservative scholars as unbiblical and by liberal theologians as presumptuous and paternalistic.
If sincere believers of other faiths could get to the Father through Jesus then why not honest atheists?
I doubt that devout followers of some other religions would be too flattered at the suggestion that they might be anonymous Christians. I wonder what the Taliban would make of it.

10 September 2009 at 10:53  
Blogger john in cheshire said...

It is my opinion that Mr Blair is dysfunctional. All the time he was Prime Minister, he strutted the world stage, leaving domestic matters the the one-eyed idiot. He tried to speak as a statesman, while allowing wicked men like Alistair Campbell and Peter Mandelson to weave their wicked webs of lies and deceit. Mr Blair is like the mafia don who purports to be a god-fearing man of integrity, while plotting evil against his detractors. I wish I could be alive in 50 years or so to see what history makes of this evil man.

10 September 2009 at 18:10  
Anonymous len said...

Andrew Holden,
"jesus didn`t say you have to be a born again believer"( end of quote)
Which bible do you read! in the Bible To Have Eternal life Jesus said in

John 3:3 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be BORN AGAIN, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Jesus again repeated it to Nicodemus

John 3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be BORN AGAIN.

10 September 2009 at 18:55  
Anonymous len said...

Your faith if placed anywhere but in Jesus Christ will not produce eternal life because, 1 John 5:11-12 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

10 September 2009 at 18:59  
Blogger Terry Hamblin said...

Alistair Campbell was right in saying that TB doesn't do God. He does the Devil instead.

10 September 2009 at 23:30  
Blogger Macca said...

Tony Blair converted to Catholicism because his wife is a Catholic. That's up to him, and the Catholics who agreed to have him. I don't suppose anyone in the C of E would be anxious to get him back.

11 September 2009 at 01:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As for Anthony Blair, I don't really want to waste my time writing about him, or have him brought to mind at all. An ignorant, puffed-up man, with a displaced vision and excessively high opinion of his own value.

11 September 2009 at 11:03  
Blogger andrew holden said...

"len said...
Andrew Holden,
"jesus didn`t say you have to be a born again believer"( end of quote)
Which bible do you read! "

Same as you chum. Actually we were discussing a different verse!

John 3:3 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be BORN AGAIN, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Indeed - but then you have to know whatit means. Every single verse in the Bible has to be read and understood. This verse does NOT say that only so called 'born-agains' will get to the Father. It does not say that RCs are not born again - nor indeed that Muslims, Jews, etc, etc are not. So maybe its perfectly possible to faithfully follow another religion and the light you have been shown and be judged by it. Maybe Muslims, etc, 'believe God' (in so far as he has revelead himself to them) and are therefore, like Abraham, 'reckoned as righteous'.

So you are still left with the original problem. Is Jesus (if he did actually say these things) being exclusive or inclusive?

"The Spirit that comes into the world enlightens every man...."

11 September 2009 at 15:29  
Blogger andrew holden said...

Ien: "Your faith if placed anywhere but in Jesus Christ will not produce eternal life because, 1 John 5:11-12 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."

Is it possible to have faith in God but not to know that that faith actually has its focus in Jesus Christ? In other words a person's very real faith is indeed 'in Christ' even though they don't know it. Hence there is only 'one way' even if people don't know which way they are actually travelling along.

As Jesus said, "no-one gets to the Father except by me."

CS Lewis in 'The Last Battle' used the idea of people serving Tash but actually they were serving Aslan. That's the kind of thought here.

11 September 2009 at 15:36  
Blogger andrew holden said...

KnightHawk: "If sincere believers of other faiths could get to the Father through Jesus then why not honest atheists?"

Well why not?

As for the Taliban, well by their deeds.....

11 September 2009 at 15:40  
Blogger ZZMike said...

andrew: "KnightHawk: "If sincere believers of other faiths could get to the Father through Jesus then why not honest atheists?"
Well why not?"

Because by definition, atheists are not "sincere believers". If they are, it is only that there is no God.

Personally, my hope is that "honest atheists" (i.e., not those like Pol Pot, Joe Stalin &c) will get to heaven, and be pleasantly surprised.

I doubt that God would arbitrarily condemn trillions of souls to hell, merely because they've never heard of Him. (Calvinists may disagree.)

11 September 2009 at 16:24  
Anonymous len said...

Andrew Holden,
I think you have missed my point.
Eternal Life is IN Jesus Christ.
If we are joined to the Lord in one Spirit that is how we come by eternal life.

How would one ( Muslim, atheist,someone who rejects Christ) be joined in one Spirit to someone he rejects?

Your views totally negate Jesus Christ as being necessary for salvation which I believe is totally in keeping with New age doctrine.

12 September 2009 at 00:23  
Anonymous Adrian Peirson said...

The Pope is very Dodgy to have accepted Blair.

12 September 2009 at 04:13  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

I wouldn't bother trying to take your disagreement any further with len.

Put simply he is always right and anyone who disagrees with him are heading down when they die.

14 September 2009 at 14:07  
Blogger andrew holden said...

Ien said: "Andrew Holden,
I think you have missed my point.
Eternal Life is IN Jesus Christ.
If we are joined to the Lord in one Spirit that is how we come by eternal life."

I agree.

"How would one ( Muslim, atheist,someone who rejects Christ) be joined in one Spirit to someone he rejects?"

That's not for me to say, or for you. What we do need to do is draw people to the certain ground of faith in Christ. That doesn't mean denying what the Spirit has already done intheir lives - and btw Muslims, at least, don't 'reject Jesus' they need to come to a more complete understanding of who he is and what he has done. As for the others, well I think one has to see and understand Jesus before one can accept or reject him. Many people have not seen anything of Christ, let alone understood fully who he is, and the fault for that is as much ours as theirs.

"Your views totally negate Jesus Christ as being necessary for salvation which I believe is totally in keeping with New age doctrine."

Nonsense. Without Jesus there is no salvation at all. I simply find your views far too exclusive and limiting the scope of that salvation. So far as I am able to understand it 'New Age' doesn't have doctrine at all - so that doesn't stick here.

16 September 2009 at 09:30  
Blogger D. Singh said...

The issue is not whether Len's views are exclusive or inclusive.

The issue is a simple one: either Jesus is the way, the truth and the life to the eternal Father or He is not.

Of course there is another way to the eternal Father only for those who have not heard the good news about what Jesus has done for each one of us. They will be judged by their community's moral values. For example, the the 8th Century BC Chinese peasant who had not heard the good news.

But before anyone makes a decision to follow Jesus - think long and hard. There is much pain and hardship as well as oases of great joy and peace to refresh us on the journey homeward bound.

16 September 2009 at 10:08  
Blogger andrew holden said...

D Singh: "The issue is a simple one: either Jesus is the way, the truth and the life to the eternal Father or He is not."

And my simple answer is yes of course he is.

But simple questions and simple answers are all capable of quite complex unpacking.

Is Jesus only the way the truth and the life to those who are signed up to a particular understanding of the Christian Faith? How tightly do you wish to define that and in an exclusive or inclusive way?

I know that the way to the Father is through Jesus Christ - there is no other way. Yet if there can be some who find themselves excluded despite their calling out 'Lord, Lord', will there be some who find themselves included despite not actually hearing about Jesus or understanding who he is and what he has done? If there are, and I suspect there will be many, then even these only come to the Father through Jesus - whether they have explicitly known him or not.

None of us are saved by good works - all by faith. Some may not know (like Abraham) Jesus but know their need of God's grace which finds its ultimate expression in Christ. Any who 'believe God' will have righteousness 'reckoned to them' through their faith.

17 September 2009 at 07:41  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Andrew Holden

Broadly agree with you.

I expect to converse with Plato when I get Home.

However, show me your faith without works. For if such can be demonstrated then that man's faith does not exist.

Truly it is by faith we must act.

17 September 2009 at 08:01  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

"The issue is a simple one: either Jesus is the way, the truth and the life to the eternal Father or He is not."

That isn't a simple issue whatsoever as it first makes the assumption that god is real (or eternal father or whatever poetic nonsense you want to use to represent your beliefs).

A simple question would be is there a god.

You may well say yes, but you have no proof for it therefore although I can't refute your statement it makes no sense to go on thinking about it as all available lack of evidence backs up the fact that there isn't rather than there is.

17 September 2009 at 13:26  
Blogger D. Singh said...

The reason why you can't refute should be obvious to you.

The tools of science measure that which is in space and time.

God by definition is infinite.

17 September 2009 at 13:31  
Blogger andrew holden said...

TheGlovner: "A simple question would be is there a god."

It's a simple question with a simple answer from me. Yes.

Of course it then depends on how you unpack it. Many non-believers are thinking about this in the wrong context and therefore looking for the wrong sort of proof.

Proof and evidence are appropriate categories for things which exist in this world. God is not a thing and in this sense does not exist.

That doesn't mean that outside of this space and time frame you won't have to reckon with him. In order to facilitate this relationship God (outside of space and time) became incarnate in the person of Jesus (very much a man of this space and time - but also much more).

All poetic nonsense, of course - but where did you get the notion that poetry can't express reality?

17 September 2009 at 13:50  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Holden

You may have already studied it - but can I recommend to you Victor Reppert's work: C.S.Lewis's Dangerous Idea?

You know, it seems to me, that the more knowledge one has the more sorrow it causes.

I wish I had just said 'Yes'.

17 September 2009 at 14:25  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

The tools of science measure that which is in space and time.

God by definition is infinite.

And how convienent that is for your stance.

Can I refer you to Carl Sagan's story about the invisible dragon, it gives a good outline as to why your stance is just ridiculous.

17 September 2009 at 22:34  
Blogger D. Singh said...

No.

18 September 2009 at 07:44  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Fine, be closed minded, and we can see at the end of our lives who is the enlightened one.

18 September 2009 at 08:53  
Blogger D. Singh said...

No – and I should add to that. It is inconvenient.

I am commanded to stop lying; cheating, stealing; defrauding; fornicating; committing adultery; committing murder; being violent; looking at pornography etc.

I am commanded to be faithful when the evidence suggests that no miracle is likely to occur; to love when all I feel is anger; to reflect upon noble things; to turn the other cheek when someone slams his fist into mine; to continue praying even when one is broken and down on one’s knees; to be brave against impossible odds; to go forward in the faith even when hard pressed on all sides.

How much easier it would be just to do what every body else does.

How inconvenient.

18 September 2009 at 08:56  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Really?

I choose not to lie; cheat, steal; defraud; fornication (anymore anyway, since I am now happily married); commit adultery; commit murder; be violent; look pornography etc.

I choose to use my mind in all it's wondrous glory and examine all evidence and decide the truth for myself; to love when all I feel is anger; to reflect upon noble things; to turn the other cheek when someone slams his fist into mine; to continue living, thinking and learning even when one is broken and down on one’s knees; to be brave against impossible odds; all because this is the one life we have and I want to get the best out of it.

So you are commanded and I choose. You do it through fear and subservience and I make a conscious decision.

Who is the better person really? Who do you think your god would admit in to your heaven with open arms? The closed minded slave or the open minded scholar?

At the end of this life when the final evidence is presented then I will be able to make a choice based on all the evidence I have. I can change my mind based logic, can you? What if your final day comes and it's Allah or Buddah standing up there, will you bow down to your new lord then?

18 September 2009 at 14:00  
Blogger D. Singh said...

So you choose not to lie; cheat, steal; defraud and fornicate anymore.

Why?

How do you know it is the one life you have?

We do not obey through ‘fear’ and ‘subservience’ but through love.

‘At the end of this life when the final evidence is presented then I will be able to make a choice based on all the evidence I have.’

How do you know that tonight your very life might be required? If that were the case would you have gathered all the evidence ‘at the end of your life’ to make that decision?

And even if you had all the evidence, upon what standard of belief would you make your judgment? Civil? Criminal? Scientific?

18 September 2009 at 14:20  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Avoiding the question I see?

Why?

No real reason other than it is the right decision to make for my circumstances based on the logical outcomes of not applying these morals.

So you follow your commands out of love? Sounds like the relationship of a dog and it's master.

If my life ended tonight and I was then presented with proof of an afterlife I would have new evidence to add to come up with an outcome. I could then change my stance based on the available evidence. If I wasn't presented with an afterlife then I guess I was right.

The third possibility? If I was presented with an afterlife that didn't fit in with your truth? I could still accept it based on the available evidence.

As has been said many times:

I am 99% there is no god, so I can change my mind to the facts.

You are 100% sure there is a god and it is the one that you all believe in. Turns out you are wrong, well if you will pardon the phrase, thats you pretty much up shit creek without a paddle.

18 September 2009 at 19:04  
Blogger andrew holden said...

@ The Glovner

If he's wrong he will only be up the same creek as you .......!

If you are wrong will you have a paddle, or even a boat?

Pascal's wager, I think. Though I'm no fan of it.

When it comes to choosing how to live one's life we are all in the same boat. A Christian may claim that he obeys God - well why does he do that? Because he considers that it is the right thing to do - not because God is some kind of moral despot.

Both of you are using your reason to chose how to live - the Christian just has a little shorthand in the parentheses saying 'God (or the Bible) said ....'

Nothing is self-evident.

19 September 2009 at 13:24  
Blogger andrew holden said...

@The Glovner

"So you follow your commands out of love? Sounds like the relationship of a dog and it's master."

What an interesting comment! So you don't rate love as a laudable motivation at all? I agree it's not sufficient on its own and that rationality must also play a part but I think that love is one of the best and purest human emotions.

BTW I don't just mean romantic love. I mean love in its deepest sense as selfless desire for the good of the other.

19 September 2009 at 14:13  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

If it's pascal's wager at all then it is pascal's wager in reverse.

I have no belief whatsoever in god, the only difference is that I cannot completely disprove the theory by the use of emperical evidence since you can't disprove something very easily until you know everything.

If I am wrong, well [shrug] you win some you lose some, I think it's highly unlikely I will be, but once again, I can't prove it 100% because I am not dead.

So I am at the 99% that all logical atheists sit at.

So I would disagree with you on saying it is pascal's wager, it's just using logic which I live by I cannot prove 100% that god doesn't exist, that's not hedging my bets (like pascal's wager) but just the logical conclusion for the available evidence. At the end of the day if I am wrong, according to the religious, I am damned to spend eternity rotting in the firey pits of hell, well that's a risk i'm willing to take.

The religious on the other hand know 100% that everything they say is true even with a complete lack of evidence and can't provide one single shred of it to back up their story.

All I am saying is that if in the completely unlikely event that there is a god, they don't know it's the one they worship and because of the closemindedness of their position they cannot open themselves to any other possibility.

"So you don't rate love as a laudable motivation at all?"

Where on earth in my statement did you get that from? Talk about putting words in my mouth.

Of love is a fantastic emotion, something I would term to be a true miraculous feeling (not bestowed by some imaginary supreme being mind). I'm thankful every day for the love I get and give between my wife, family and friends.

However to carry out somebodys commands because of love, which is not given back in any way (and before the religious jump on that statment, you can provide some proof that it isn't just voice in your head that make it all better) is not a relationship of love, but it is like that of a subservient loving slave and his master, or for want of a better analogy a dog and it's master.

21 September 2009 at 09:05  
Blogger D. Singh said...

'I cannot completely disprove the theory by the use of emperical evidence since you can't disprove something very easily until you know everything.'

What a daft 'scientific' method. Upon that basis it is difficult to see how science in the west would have advanced.

Perhaps his method is more Islamic than he cares to admit (for scince in Islam probably came to a halt for a similar reason).

21 September 2009 at 09:10  
Blogger andrew holden said...

The Glovner: "Of love is a fantastic emotion, something I would term to be a true miraculous feeling (not bestowed by some imaginary supreme being mind). I'm thankful every day for the love I get and give between my wife, family and friends."

That's good and I'm not trying to belittle that but by your own criteria how do you know that this isn't just some trick played by your brain?

You don't know this for sure any more than a believer knows that God loves him/her (which is the ground for his/her love and obedience - "we love because He(God) first loved us!")

As for your other suggestion:

"The religious on the other hand know 100% that everything they say is true even with a complete lack of evidence and can't provide one single shred of it to back up their story."

Well that may be true for some religious people but not for the majority that I know. First, most of us acknowledge that we only see the world from within our brains which could be mistaken or deceived. We have a belief in a God of truth which encourages us to believe that this isn't the case - which is more that the materialist has for his belief that his senses are giving him a reliable picture of how the world really is.

Second, for this very reason, evidence is overrated. It can take you so far but in the end we all need to have faith, whether in God, or in the supposed reliability of our perceptions of the universe. However, most religious people believe because of their experience of God. You may discount this but if you have not had such an experience yourself how can you really know?

21 September 2009 at 09:32  
Blogger andrew holden said...

The Glovner:

" "So you don't rate love as a laudable motivation at all?"

Where on earth in my statement did you get that from? Talk about putting words in my mouth. "

You will note that I put a question mark at the end of my comment in order to further understand what you had written.

Clearly you don't rate religious devotion - but I think you should not discount what you don't understand. A dog, by the way, gives us a good illustration of unconditional love. If anything the dog's love is a model of God's love (strange that reversal!) - it is our love, like that of some dog owners, which is calculating and unreliable.

21 September 2009 at 09:40  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

@ D Singh.

So what sort of scientific method would you propose is worthwile?

Clearly one where proof is not requried and everything can be put down to an unprovable god seems to be what you are advocating, which would have the result of us learning nothing.

It is that sort of scientific method that seen Islamic science stutter and come to a halt. Before they became so fundamentally religious they were one of the most advanced people on the planet at that time. The made massive progression, while Europe sat in the dark ages.

@ Andrew Holden

Apologies if I originally came across as a tad rash, but trying to have any sort of conversation where assumptions are not made is made a little more difficult after having to reply to the likes of len or d.singh.

"That's good and I'm not trying to belittle that but by your own criteria how do you know that this isn't just some trick played by your brain?"

Short answer is I don't. To be honest it probably is in a way, it's a specific chemical balance that makes me feel good. I don't think anything needs to be taken away from it just because it was not bestowed upon us by a god. If it has a positive effect then why does it matter what causes it.

"First, most of us acknowledge that we only see the world from within our brains which could be mistaken or deceived. We have a belief in a God of truth which encourages us to believe that this isn't the case - which is more that the materialist has for his belief that his senses are giving him a reliable picture of how the world really is."

By the same token, how do the religious not know for sure that belief in god is their brain mistaking them. I feel we are predisposed (be it because of te wiring of our brains or because of the environment we grow up in where religion is everywhere in many different colours throughout peoples lives) not to be comfortable with not having the answers to questions, believing allows us to provide an answer (albeit with a rather large leap of faith minus any supporting evidence) to questions we are not capable of answering yet. I don't understand why instead of this leap of faith the typical human can't just be happy to say "I don't know, yet. I'm happy t wait until we have the answers though.".

22 September 2009 at 07:41  
Blogger D. Singh said...

‘Clearly one where proof is not requried and everything can be put down to an unprovable god seems to be what you are advocating, which would have the result of us learning nothing.’

It has been suggested you by several posters that you will need a different paradigm other than the scientific one for you to get to know God – if you desire to do so.

Of course, Jesus did enter space and time – but I would suggest that you gather the historical evidence, decide on which standard of belief you propose to use and draw reasonably consistent conclusions to your findings.

You may wish to consult Tacitus’s The Annals of Imperial Rome as a non-Christian source and of course the evidence contained within the Bible (as well as other sources).

In the mean time I can pray for your poor soul?

22 September 2009 at 08:19  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Holden:

"That's good and I'm not trying to belittle that but by your own criteria how do you know that this isn't just some trick played by your brain?"

Glovener:

‘Short answer is I don't. To be honest it probably is in a way, it's a specific chemical balance that makes me feel good. I don't think anything needs to be taken away from it just because it was not bestowed upon us by a god. If it has a positive effect then why does it matter what causes it.’

1. Glovener, doe not know – he lacks a valid epistemological method. He appears to have discounted even the scientific method: he confesses he doesn’t know.
2. He says he is honest and uses the balance of probabilities test and suggests that his brain is playing tricks on him possibly through a chemical imbalance that may make him laugh.
3. He doesn’t want to be cured of that chemical imbalance and therefore the tricks that he suggests his brain is playing on him.
4. He suggests that if it has a positive effect; then the confusion it causes does not matter (to him).

That’s all very well for him but what is the reader to make of his posts? Are they now to be classified under the status of mutterings?

The creature, presumably, enjoys his independence from the Creator. Will he be consistent and argue for the ‘right’ of robots to be free and independent from their human creators?


Indeed, what right or even duty (such a duty or right cannot be accepted on the basis of a chemical imbalance)does he now have for criticising Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot and all the other mass murderers?

22 September 2009 at 08:47  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

You have some of the most flawed logic I have ever had the distaste to encounter.

You also still have that extra "e" in there when quoting my name.

22 September 2009 at 09:02  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Glovner,

My sincere and unreserved apology for placing an 'e' where it shoul not be.

22 September 2009 at 09:09  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Quite alright old bean, everyone makes mistakes.

22 September 2009 at 11:58  
Anonymous Swedish Viking said...

Nick Gulliford writes:

[we] should be transformed into our unique, authentic and fully developed - or individuated - Self...

and

...some Christians make the mistake that to mimic Jesus is what is required...

A mistake? Quite on the contrary, I thought what the NT teaches us is that, in order to be saved, each of us must die from our self precisely by means of imitating Christ.

True, it is only in and through Christ that will we find our true identity.

The crucial question is whether Christ 'inflates' our natural, fallen ego or, rather, if He creates a brand new identity, a 'new man'. I happen to believe the latter to be the case. And this transformation can only become a reality through a recurrent change of mindset. I must change my attitudes, habits - everything! And this change can only take place through a constant awareness of Christ in prayer and by imitation - that is, action.

24 September 2009 at 15:09  

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