Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Oxford elevates atheists to the pulpit while removing chaplains

Oxford University takes its Christian foundations very seriously. Despite multi-faith multiculturalism, its higher degrees are still bestowed upon graduands Ad honorem Domini nostri Jesu Christi, et ad profectum Sarosanctae Matris Ecclesiae. As they kneel before the Vice-Chancellor, he touches each one upon the head with a Testament, admitting them in nomine Domini, Patris, Filii et Spirutus Sancti.

But on the morning of Sunday 20th February, the preacher in the University Church of St Mary's was the notable atheist Philip Pullman. What glory to God that sermon must have brought. This, in the very church in which His Grace preached his final sermon, the stones still reverberating to the truth of his witness.

As if that were not bad enough, here below are the revised statutes from 13th January for the University's Hertford College:
The Committee on Statutes before the Privy Council, acting under authority delegated to it by Council, is minded to give consent on behalf of the University to the amendment to the Statutes of Hertford College, in so far as such consent is required by Section 7(2) of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge Act, 1923. The consent of the committee to the amendment to the Statutes will be effective eleven days after publication of this notice unless written notice of a resolution, signed by at least twenty members of Congregation, calling upon Council to withhold that consent, has been given to the Registrar by noon on Monday, 24 January.
The amendments relate to the following:
(i) compliance with Charity Commission requirements relating to articulation of charitable objects and the responsibilities of trustees;
(ii) simplification of the statutes to address core governance issues and removal of other items better treated in bye-laws or other ways;
(iii) Statute X on employment law provisions relating to academic staff has been moved to an appendix of the statutes. Minimal amendments have been made to better reflect current employment law but without altering any of the substantive terms set out in the Statute, as agreed with the University;
(iv) the term of office of the Principal is limited to a fixed term of five years in the first instance, which may be extended by the Governing Body. This replaces the current statute in which a Principal is appointed until his/her 67th birthday;
(v) removal of the Visitor's right to annul bye-laws or decisions of Governing Body he/she judges to be repugnant to the statutes;
(vi) removal of the requirement for the College to appoint a Chaplain or for the Chaplain to perform divine service according to the liturgy of the Church of England during term time.

So, chaplains are no longer required. And those that are maintained are no longer required to perform divine service according to the liturgy of the Church of England.

What other liturgy do they have in mind?


Blogger MFH said...

Until The CoE, and Christians in general, take the bible seriously, they cant expect to be taken seriously, and this sort of thing will continue to happen.

Forget complaining about the symptoms- deal with the cause of the illness.

We all need to stand up what ever the cost, and assert our faith in God.

5 April 2011 at 10:31  
Blogger The Gray Monk said...

We have allowed the Fabians, Atheists and Humanists to take over our Educational Institutions and to entrench themselves. Christians no longer defend their faith, indeed many in church do not even begin to grasp what it is any longer. As MFH says we have allowed these false prophets to infest these institutions and indoctrinate their students with their ministry of hate for all Christian teaching and Faith and their special hatred for Jews and the Scriptures.

As for Pullman in the pulpit, what was the Dean thinking? The man is on record stating he wishes to 'destroy Christianity' and uses his writing and children's stories to do it.

Sadly, this is but the outcome of our allowing the government to change employment law some time ago - which allowed another Oxford College to appoint a well known Atheist to its Chair of Divinity. It is time for every Christian to wake up, learn what they actually believe in, read the Bible for themselves and challenge these teachers of falsehood and lies to expose the deceit they practice.

5 April 2011 at 10:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(If you are not familiar with Holy Scripture, find a Bible and look up
I Samuel, Chapter 4, verse 21.)

5 April 2011 at 10:56  
Blogger Kilsally said...

Agree with the to comments above - the Church of England is entirely unconvincing in its defence and application of the Bible and total lack of exegesis and discussion of Bible topics. Any non churchgoer that walks into a service gets a load of liturgy that means absolutely nothing to them and there is no explanation of any of it.

5 April 2011 at 10:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace,

firstly, it's only Hertford (joke).

secondly, I'd remind you that this is eactly the sort of thing that Pusey House was set up for - to address a belief in the late 19th Century that the days of the college chapel were numbered and that there needed to be a bulwark of strong doctrinal preaching in Oxford for members of soon to be "Godless" colleges.

Thankfully, it's still there, and not exactly woolly or liberal...


5 April 2011 at 11:06  
Anonymous MrJ said...

In our lifetime, the University of Cambridge (where historic Cranmer graduated) was well ahead of this. Remember Don Cupitt (appointed Dean at Emmanuel College, Cambridge in 1965 and to a University teaching post in the Philosophy of Religion 1968-1996) who describes himself as "Christian non-realist" following certain spiritual practices and attempting to live by ethical standards traditionally associated with Christianity but without believing in the actual existence of the underlying metaphysical entities (such as "Christ" and "God")?

At the time when he began publicising his views while continuing as a clergyman, it seemed that there could scarcely be a more flagrant example of double-think, or apostasy?

Which recalls John Keble's sermon on National Apostasy preached all those years ago at St. Mary's, Oxford, July 14, 1833.

Philip Pullman, who he? Oh yes, google has information.

5 April 2011 at 11:10  
Blogger LobotomySpoon82 said...

Atheists/agnostics do like their Universities though don't they, with their titles and their robes, and their rituals. A lot of which are ecclesiastical at heart.

5 April 2011 at 11:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace

It is written in the alternative.


‘[R]emoval of the requirement for the College to appoint a Chaplain


‘for the Chaplain to perform divine service according to the liturgy of the Church of England during term time’.

I suppose it can be read in a number of ways.

Either Hertford College can refuse to appoint a Chaplain; or retain a Chaplain to perform divine service according to the liturgy of the Church of England during term time.

To better reflect employment law they should have used the conjunction ‘and’ rather than ‘or’.

5 April 2011 at 11:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace

So when it is amended, to better reflect employment law, the correct reading of it will be:

‘Hertford College is no longer required to appoint a Chaplain and a Chaplain is not required to perform divine service according to the liturgy of the Church of England during term time’ (or words to that effect).

This would be in accord with current employment law (Equality Act 2010 based on European Union directives).

On that basis an Atheist ‘Chaplain’ could be appointed.

Or for that matter a Jedi ‘Chaplain’. For Jediism to qualify as a philosophical belief:

1. The belief must be genuinely held;
2. it must be a belief and not an opinion or viewpoint based on current information;
3. it must be a belief as to weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour;
4. it must attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance;
5. it must be worthy of respect in a democratic society, not be incompatible with human dignity, and not conflict with the fundamental rights of others.

Slowly, but surely, we are entering a period in which many will not know the difference between right and wrong; between up and down; to where the earth ends and the horizon is located.

True ‘God is dead’ said Nietzsche (1844-1900) in the parable of the ‘Mad Man’.

But I wonder if God is saying: ‘I am fine; but Man is dead.’

5 April 2011 at 13:14  
Blogger Elwin Daniels said...

Interesting. Of course, C S Lewis preached his famous 'The Weight of Glory' sermon from that very same pulpit in the university church of St Mary. Coincidence?

Pullman sees himself as the anti-C S Lewis, having written his nasty 'Dark Materials' trilogy more or less in opposition to the Narnia stories, which he is on record as despising. I laughed like a drain when I heard that he film of the first book lost money so the others won't be filmed. Who says God doesn't answer prayer?

Hmm. Writing stories to try to turn children into atheists. Millstone necklace, anyone?

Urendi Maleldil

5 April 2011 at 13:45  
Blogger Maturecheese said...

And so it continues.......

5 April 2011 at 14:20  
Anonymous SecularAdvocate said...

Ha ha! Christianity is toast, and good riddance to it and all the other stupid spooky superstitions humanity is miserably afflicted with. There is no god. Get over it and stop wasting your one and only chance of existence suckling on a lot of iron age snake oil.

5 April 2011 at 14:33  
Anonymous Preacher said...

So Stop worrying about the CofE & Preach the gospel! God has more in His arsenal than the CofE & there are still some excellent & eminent men in it.
Bretheren we must stop wringing our hands & navel gazing & get on with the job in hand.
If the likes of SecularAdvocate is all we have to contend with, we can't lose.

5 April 2011 at 14:56  
Anonymous richard said...

Mr Singh - your definition of belief is interesting. If something which is believed is not verifiable by logic, reason and evidence then it is not true, and the belief is false. I know the difference between right and wrong, as do the majority of people who are not bereft of conscience. Lack of which is generally speaking a manifestation of psychopathy which is detectable by a scan of the brain. To my mind the Bible would be vastly improved if the Book of Ecclesiastes was carefully removed, kept, and studied, and the rest thrown away, but that's beside the point. However I cannot argue with the implication of His Grace's argument, which is that Christianity is obviously under attack. I suspect that the good points of this religion (which are many, it must be acknowledged) are inconvenient to those in charge, who seem to be of a totalitarian bent.

5 April 2011 at 15:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Richard

'Mr Singh - your definition of belief is interesting. If something which is believed is not verifiable by logic, reason and evidence then it is not true, and the belief is false'.

The criteria are not mine. I have gleaned them from case law.

5 April 2011 at 15:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Their titles and role playing is also incorporeal imagery.

Yet flesh is nothing without the vibrant spirit to animate it.

I don't believe their titles and roles exist, I believe they are just lumps of lifeless flesh that should be fed to the dogs.

5 April 2011 at 15:41  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Religion, which is after all simply primitive superstition, dressed up as something else, should have no place in one of the foremost seats of learning, chaplains who needs them?

5 April 2011 at 16:02  
Anonymous Paul said...

It is just another effort to demean Christianity and add insult to injury. Pure and simple shenanigans by Atheists and anti-Christians. They can do their worst-Jesus' message lives !!

5 April 2011 at 16:46  
Anonymous wannabeanglican said...

Pullman in the pulpit of St. Mary's?!?

If you heard a roaring angry eruption from the direction of Texas, that was me.

5 April 2011 at 17:26  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

Elwin: "I laughed like a drain when I heard that he film of the first book lost money so the others won't be filmed. Who says God doesn't answer prayer?"

Perhaps he only answers the prayers in God's own country of America? The film did pretty well internationally as gross profits go, though not for the film company I suppose.

5 April 2011 at 17:29  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

D Singh: "On that basis an Atheist ‘Chaplain’ could be appointed."

One of the local universities around here had an Anglican clergyman and Sea of Faith chaplain who said, if I recall correctly, that one didn't need to believe in god to be a Christian. I used to laugh about that ... though after today I think he might have been onto something there. :)

5 April 2011 at 17:39  
Anonymous not a machine said...

I might add mature cheese , I dont recall voting for that.

5 April 2011 at 17:43  
Anonymous Old Grumpy said...

@SecularAdvocate 14:33

Many thanks for you kind comments.

It's easy to state them here on Grace's platform which is based on tolerance and free speech. Anyone can go for the soft targets, even the Inland Revenue works on that basis.

Now for the tough number, and we'll see your metal:

I cordially invite you to repeat your comments about God in your frendly local mosque, and we will all stand outside to see whether you emerge alive

Please advise your favourite flowers

Old Grumpy

5 April 2011 at 17:51  
Anonymous Rhys said...

Mr Davis:

Outside of the great choral foundations, much of a College Chaplain's work seems often to revolve around being effectively a glorified counsellor to the students. They make themselves available to students of all faiths and none, to talk about any problems.

I'd hate the task of having to listen to undergraduates and their petty little moans. But Oxbridge colleges have little pastoral support - students won't exactly turn to their tutors with a problem, but if they want someone who is normally around College rather than visiting the university-wide counselling service, often the Chaplain is the best person to turn to.

5 April 2011 at 17:55  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

I've just noticed the header picture for the article. Very good. :)

5 April 2011 at 18:23  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

"... stop wasting your one and only chance of existence suckling on a lot of iron age snake oil..." says Secular Advocate.
To be a good advocate you need to be persuasive.

5 April 2011 at 18:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In addition to what Rhys said, I know from experience that even atheist Fellows are very glad to have the Chaplain around in times of crisis (such as the death of a student).

(Posted anonymously to protect the privacy of the College in question).

5 April 2011 at 18:40  
Anonymous Two pints of lager and a packet of crisps said...

Danjo- there is a difference in believing that God exists and worshiping him. TEven the devil believes that God exists (as he does from time to time chat to him-see Book of Job) but I don't think the devil worships him.

5 April 2011 at 18:46  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

Not getting the relevance of that I'm afraid, Two Pints.

5 April 2011 at 18:58  
Anonymous len said...

Jesus warned the Churches in The Revelation what would happen if they didn`t repent and get their House in order!

5 April 2011 at 19:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a Christian and Oxford student and have no objection to Philip Pullman preaching in the University Church or college chapels. I don't feel that it's necessary to be so insecure about one's faith as to be scared of anyone with contrary views being given a platform. The Atheist Society are gracious enough to allow theists a platform (e.g. Richard Swinburne) - why not the other way round?

As for the removal of chaplains, however - that would be a grave error. The point raised above about welfare is incredibly valid. They fulfil an important role in the spiritual and pastoral side of college life. Without it colleges become solely, instead of predominantly, concerned with academia.

5 April 2011 at 21:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are many platforms Philip Pullman can and does use to spread his beliefs, not least his books. Any church can invite him to address them and defend his beliefs. To invite him to preach at a University Service is quite another thing. How can an athiest preach the Gospel - surely that is the point of a preacher?

5 April 2011 at 22:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm curious to know why inviting him to a service at the UC rather than an ordinary church is quite another thing?

5 April 2011 at 22:45  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Mr D Singh @ 13:14 quoted 'God is Dead' per Nietsche.

The late cartoonist William Rushton, whose work did so much for the early Private Eye, once depicted a sandwichman. On the front board, 'God is Dead' Nietsche. On the back board, 'Nietsche is Dead' God.

I'm still laughing. Silly, really.

6 April 2011 at 00:02  
Blogger Ernst, Tiddles and the case of the Traitorous PM said...

Your Grace

Old Ernst knows he digresses but;


Is this the person CCHQ deem is fit to lead both party and Country as Leader and PM...BAH!

He appears to make Blair sound like a man of deep integrity and Brown appear as a true statesman.

Dissing this nation whilst abroad, in Pakistan of all places. The man is a Buffoon.

No one EVER doubted Mrs T's pride in our nation and Ernst is apolitical but if this man believes he has once ounce of love or respect for our nation, he is truly deluded.

As we are such a terrible nation, why not put the whole of Pakistan on incapacity benefit, courtesy of Mugg UK, as we have obviously been to blame for the last 60 years of trouble there and it would be a form of financial penance from us, to help them get over it and back on their feet.

Traitor is too kind a label to give this chancer as a moniker.

There are more 3rd rate politicians in Parliament than you can shake a stick at, yet these bunch of losers are going to get us out of the quagmire of financial indebtedness we find ourselves in. Humbug!

Furious Ernst.

6 April 2011 at 01:14  
Anonymous Voyager said...

St Catherine's Oxford was the first College built without a chapel, a polytechnic looking structure without architectural merit.

Hertford College is a joke. I did not realise it had a chapel, its most notable feature being The Bridge - otherwise I had always thought it was a Faculty Building.

Hertford used to be Hertford Hall didn't it, like St. Edmund's and St. Peter's, not quite a College.

Still, Hertford probably has wacko dons and the University is not what it was now it is a degree mill for rich foreigners and a franchise business. Oxford, like most British institutions has rotted from the inside

6 April 2011 at 05:07  
Anonymous MrJ said...

Before Pastor Cranmer moves loiterers along to the next topic, I would like to express agreement with the comment at 6 April 2011 01:14 (believed to be Blofeld by another name). Every time you thought it wouldn't get worse, it did; and now everyone is asking How long can this go on?

6 April 2011 at 08:40  
Blogger Ernst, Tiddles and the case of the Traitorous PM said...

MrJ said 6 April 2011 08:40

Ernst is getting more scared and furious by the day at what is unfolding.

He sees the nation hurtling headlong towards the Abyss, with the foot off the brakes and hard down on the throttle, Old boy.

God help us, please hear our prayer.


6 April 2011 at 11:17  
Anonymous richard said...

Mr Singh - "The criteria are not mine. I have gleaned them from case law."

Maybe so, but the Law has no interest in what people believe. It requires proof, ie you can't be convicted on what people believe. If the alleged belief is demonstrably true via evidence then it's no longer a belief but a fact.

6 April 2011 at 17:03  
Anonymous DeclineAndFall said...

Voyager, you idiot, what do you call Somerville, built without a chapel in 1879 (the current building is a 1920s addition)? Oh, and as the University originally consisted entirely of Halls most of the older colleges claim descent from one - the first college is some 100-150 years newer than the university.

7 April 2011 at 01:31  
Blogger Lakester91 said...


Mr Singh does not believe in those requirements for a religion. He is simply mocking the methods that the law uses by creating a reductio ad absurdum. Read the post again.

7 April 2011 at 02:22  
Anonymous richard said...

Thanks for that, and apologies to Mr Singh. I see it now, but too late. I tend to take things literally. Ah well.

7 April 2011 at 03:27  
Blogger The Gray Monk said...

Further to my earlier comment, Your Grace may wish to know that I have contacted Hertford College and received the following explanation from their Chaplain. It is extremely reassuring. -

Dear Mr TGM

Thank you for your email.

Hertford College is not abolishing its Chaplaincy nor the post of Chaplain. As you rightly note, the College statutes have recently been amended and many previous obligations are now by-laws, which require a two-thirds majority of the Governing Body to remove or amend. The Chaplaincy was made into a by-law along with many other posts previously required by the statutes.

For your information, the College recently completed a review of the Chapel and the Chaplaincy, and there was overwhelming agreement to retain the status quo (ie a full-time Anglican Chaplain and, of course, the Chapel itself). The Governing Body of the College is committed to appointing another Anglican Chaplain when I leave this post.

In my experience, blogs are often inaccurate and this proves no exception. What is your particular interest in this - are you an old member of Hertford? Regardless, I hope the above has gone some way to putting your mind at rest. I have copied our Principal, who is also the Ordinary of the Chapel and the Chair of the Chapel Committee, into this email, both of whom have been unfailing supportive of my ministry within the College.

Yours sincerely
********** Chaplain.

I have taken the liberty of removing the names the email contained as is, I believe, right and proper. Anyone interested, can, of course, find them on the College's website.

7 April 2011 at 08:15  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

Radio 4 on the Today programme fielded some guy from Oxford University this morning to talk about the latest Templeton Prize. Refreshing to hear someone other than Dawkins talk about it.


7 April 2011 at 09:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Richard

‘Mr Singh - "The criteria are not mine. I have gleaned them from case law."

‘Maybe so, but the Law has no interest in what people believe. It requires proof, ie you can't be convicted on what people believe. If the alleged belief is demonstrably true via evidence then it's no longer a belief but a fact’.

‘Maybe so, but the Law has no interest in what people believe’.

Not so.

And what do you mean by ‘fact’? That which is in the dimensions of space and time?

For example, it is raining outside.

And what standard of belief do you apply to find ‘fact’?


On the balance of probabilities?

Beyond reasonable doubt?

The scientific standard?

7 April 2011 at 10:57  
Anonymous John Thomas said...

D. Singh: "1. The belief must be genuinely held;
2. it must be a belief and not an opinion or viewpoint based on current information" Presumably, to satisfy 1 and 2, it must be capable of definition. How is Jedi-ism defined, I wonder, or who decides on the definition which all Jedi-ists would need to suibscribe to, in order for the word to have any meaning? Actually, dogma - defined, stated, beliefs - frees people.

7 April 2011 at 15:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr John Thomas

‘2, it must be capable of definition. How is Jedi-ism defined, I wonder, or who decides on the definition which all Jedi-ists would need to suibscribe to, in order for the word to have any meaning?’

1. A deist religion based on the Star Wars series.
2. It has, like Christianity, many denominations.
3. It is for the judiciary to decide whether it is a religion or belief.

It is submitted that it is protected by Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights:

Article 9 – Freedom of thought, conscience and religion

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, and to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

2. Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

7 April 2011 at 15:25  
Anonymous MrJ said...

D.Singh and any others who may be concerned: Given the criteria of the ECHR, how would this apply to the Trial before Pilate (as narrated in the NT)? Would that be a suitable study for a law degree (Bachelor, Master, Doctor) in any of the universities of the UK or of any other EU territory? Or for a degree in Theology or Sociology or any other school or academic department?

Should it be within the scope of any study which includes Jurisprudence and/or the Civil Code of Justinian.

Under the EU regime would this now be considered off limits? Or does it depend on the source of funding?

7 April 2011 at 16:13  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

Well, with the Jedi religion we at least know it is based on fiction, and the galaxy in the story is far, far away which we cannot even reach at the moment, and so associated beliefs are undermined in some important way.

Obviously with a religion like Christianity it is at least based in our galaxy even if the associated stories sound like fantasy if you haven't been brought up with them from childhood. Moreover, it has a long, long history so the writers of the story are all dead and cannot be made to admit writing it as fiction or whatever.

Of course, we also have revisionist versions like the Mormon one which builds on the earlier version and has the special quality of divine revelation which seems to be a bonus in these things. It also helps that Mr Smith is dead so can't be leaned on and the main supporting proof has gone missing.

In fact, there are a relatively small number of things that really help define a religion: it needs a significant numbers of supporters, the main supports must not be provable, a religious text makes a huge difference, and age seems to increase the quality because it gives everyone more chance to come up with excu^h^h^h theological explanations for all questions and occasions.

So, it seems unlikely that Jedi-ism will be making much of an impact in this area at the moment.

All that said, I could envisage a post-apocalypse world where details of Jedi-ism are found after a number of generations have gone by and people see the Force as a good explanation of why we are here. No doubt the apocalypse will be seen as divine justice for sin, like the Christchurch quake for some, and people will be exhorted to try harder. The saviour will probably be remembered as OhDearieMe because language has moved on and no-one really knows how ObiWan was actually pronounced.

7 April 2011 at 16:16  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

More seriously, conscientous objectors managed to avoid fighting in the first and second world wars if they could convince a military service tribunal that they had proper issues of conscience and for all sorts of reasons. And all that was before the UDHR and ECHR.

7 April 2011 at 16:22  
Blogger LobotomySpoon82 said...

If I can enlarge upon a few thing you just said DanJ0:

Leaving your comments about the apostolic accounts being fiction aside (for obvious reasons), there are some simple criteria which can be applied to any belief system to help in ascertaining its truth or otherwise, such as 'In the matter of anything curious ask yourself, whom does it benefit?'

When such criteria are applied to Islam, Mormonism, and the JW's, the beneficiaries of these systems are glaringly obvious - their founders.

Mormonism built itself on a number of conflicting accounts with regards some 'visions', the so-called golden plates and the special spectacles etc., lol. Then the supposed 'hieroglyphics' which were denounced as fakes right from the beginning but uneducated farmers and so on allowed themselves to be taken in despite being warned not to as Joseph Smith was simply after their money. The book of Mormon itself is a plagiaristic hodge podge put together and rewritten numerous times over the past century. Then there were the sexual shenanigans with teenage girls as recounted by one of his wives. The so called ancient artefacts (supposedly about fifteen hundred years old) turned out, in the 1980's, to have been made in the 19th century using 19th century materials. Absolutely no archaeological evidence has turned up which in any way whatsoever supports anything at all from the Book of Mormon, despite more than fifty years of very aggressive archaeological excavation work. And then of course there is the genetic evidence. Smith claimed the Native Americans were descended from the Hebrews but the genetic evidence has proven that they could not possibly have done so.

Taize Russell was known, and proven, as a liar and a fraud even before he found the JW's and his own very peculiar brand of Gnosticism, which immediately thrown any claims of his into deep deep suspicion, suspicion which turns out to be wholly justified.

Old Mo, well I needn't go into any detail here as I am pretty sure most of us know exactly what that character got up to and how he benefited.

Incidentally, I remember hearing Prof Dawkins stating on TV that we cannot prove the Spaghetti Flying Monster isn't real. Rubbish, of course.

7 April 2011 at 16:47  
Blogger LobotomySpoon82 said...


"which immediately throws...", not thrown.

7 April 2011 at 16:50  
Anonymous MrJ said...

DanJ0 (7 April16:22) ... "conscientious objectors .. before the UDHR and ECHR..."_ but so far Sean MacBride's proposal to add (to the rights expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) 'The Right to Refuse to Kill' remains lying on a side-table. (His Nobel lecture 1974, http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1974/macbride-lecture.html)

7 April 2011 at 17:02  
Blogger Ernst, Tiddles and the case of the Traitorous PM said...

LobotomySpoon82 said 7 April 2011 16:47

"Old Mo, well I needn't go into any detail here as I am pretty sure most of us know exactly what that character got up to and how he benefited."

Ernst has it on knowledge that Mormons or JCCLDS, are obliged to give 10% tithe on gross not net income. LOL.

Nothing like money to concentrate the minds of the religious leaders, is there.


7 April 2011 at 17:07  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

The interesting thing about the JWs and the Mormons, at least all the ones I have talked to, is that they fervently believe they're right and that the Holy Spirit is present in their lives too.

Either lots of people are telling porkies, or lots of people are misinterpreting something as spiritual which isn't, or something spiritual and very powerful is encroaching on something else spiritual and very powerful, or the one spiritual something doesn't really care about the details. Perhaps there are more options too but that's enough.

Obviously, as an atheist I'm going for option 2 there. But hey.

7 April 2011 at 17:52  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

I think the last two Mormons who called at my property had a finely tuned gaydar as well as a spiritual receiver. They seemed quite keen to get away in the end despite my protestations. The fact that they were two handsome men in their early 20s may have had something to do with it. Sadly, the JWs are a very, very poor substitute, at least in my area.

7 April 2011 at 17:58  
Anonymous len said...

As I have said (once or twice)True Christianity lays buried under heaps of rubbish deposited by unscrupulous and some times misguided men.
Therefore you have to dig(if you are to get anywhere near the Truth)
Any religion loosely based on Christianity but does not have Christ as the figure head (but rather points to a 'special revelation' given to some 'prophet' should be treated with suspicion.

7 April 2011 at 18:29  
Blogger LobotomySpoon82 said...

Some people obviously use the Christian message for unscrupulous ends, and there is no doubt about that, both today and in the past. Some people are just bad, end of story.

But even if you feel that the Christian message has been interpreted as spiritual when it isn't, there is no doubt about the fact that Jesus' words contain some of the most profound statements ever made. And someone said them, as they didn't suddenly appear by magic, lol. From a historical/archaeological perspective they are very reliable, possibly the most reliable documents from antiquity in our possession. It is the miraculous aspect that gives a lot of people problems (as they cannot be verified today without a time machine), which is a fair point.

But it is also fair to say that there was no attempted fraud on the apostles part as it is clear from their lives and so on that they honestly believed what they were teaching was the truth. Unlike the three examples cited above who were clearly and provably in it for themselves.

To me it's very easy you see, black and white. When people lie to you it is difficult to regain trust, and if they can be shown to deliberately lie, then I throw everything they teach in the bin, all of it. If it can be demonstrated that they sincerely believed what they taught, then I listen, most especially considering the content of the teaching. Who ever said those words had something deeply profound to teach us. Even if you don't perceive the spiritual aspect (in the sense of eternity and heaven etc.) the teachings themselves (e.g. Mark's and John's Gospels) are wonderful to take in.

As Len says, true Christianity lies under the detritus of centuries, which is why I always try to read the texts within context, the time and customs and culture within which they were written. I wish more people did that, as there would be far less conflict with interdenominational strife etc. as there is currently. Strict rules and regulations determined by men who set themselves up claiming to speak for God and so on. And none of us has the right to tell anyone that they are going to hell. That is not our decision, He sets the criteria and His are probably different than ours. He is actually a lot more forgiving than many people realise, and is not waiting round the corner to smack people over the head with a big stick the minute they do something wrong. So I am not one of those 'hellfire and damnation' people either.

Although I am an Anglican still (thanks in large part to Cranmer), I am more what you would call a free believer, as in the book titled 'The Misunderstood God'.

There is something about the way JW's dress that always depresses me, but I never have a problem getting rid of them. Slamming the door in their faces usually works for me, lol. Mormons are another matter usually, unfortunately.

7 April 2011 at 19:00  
Blogger LobotomySpoon82 said...

Also got to be remembered is the fact that Judaism has never denied His existence nor His teachings. And I am sure they would have if it was so, having a vested interest. They largely just denied His, and His apostles, claims about Himself. (I don't think I am wrong on this score but anyone please let me know if I am.)

7 April 2011 at 19:08  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

Of course, the main point in all I've said, and say periodically, is that various people claim various stuff about the divine, they often appear to believe it with all their heart, and none of it can be objectively (i.e. publicly) verified.

People like me don't really give a rat's ass about the beliefs themselves, JW, Mormon, Anglican, Catholic, Muslim, Unitarian or whatever, as long as they have very limited reach beyond the believer.

Unfortunately, they usually claim a universal reach and therefore it's fundamentally a matter of politics even if it is also a matter of religion. And in politics everything is, and ought to be, fair game.

7 April 2011 at 19:22  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

We do seem to put great store on personal conscience though. That's hardly surprising I suppose as it's quite key to one's identity and well-being. Hence, personal belief even in areas outside of religion hold some sway as the conscientious objector thing shows. Who's to say then that the very worldly beliefs of a devoted ethical-vegan are less important than the other-worldly beliefs of a Christian? And should either affect (say) one's employment prospects if they don't actually have an impact on job performance?

7 April 2011 at 19:29  
Blogger LobotomySpoon82 said...

I guess then that you and I simply have differing objectives. Being who I am I have always been in pursuit of truth, through reason and logic. To me, how I feel about things is, and always has been, at the most secondary to any other matter.

So if I find a belief that matches the criteria historically, archaeologically, scientifically, and empirically, then for me that is enough, and I adopt it. It isn't really a question of 'publicly' verified, although if the texts are as reliable as historians confirm they are then it is safe to say that public proof was given in abundance. Again Jewish records refer to Him performing miracles, which they refused to believe were such, but they didn't have a clue how He did it so simply put it down to sorcery.

If I had been told a number of years ago that I could alter the behaviour of something that was inanimate simply by observing it, I wouldn't have believed them. However, we now know this to be true as a result of the study of quantum physics.

You don't believe, whilst I do. We both seek different things in life.

7 April 2011 at 21:37  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr J

To subject the trial of Jesus to modern standards would not be suitable. The trial needs to be understood in the context of the law that applied then.

Someone has sent me the below and I think it gives an exciting insight into understanding the trial.


"The Jewish law prohibited any part of legal proceedings by night. (Dupin in, "Jesus
Devant Caiphe et Pilate.")

Even before Jesus' trial began the law was broken because His arrest was illegal. The Jewish law prohibited any part of a legal proceeding in capital offenses to take place at night, and Jesus was arrested at night.

"A capital offense must be tried during the day and suspended at night" (Mishna in
"Sanhedrin" Vol.1)

"Criminal cases can be actd upon by the vaarious courts during the day time only."
(Mendelsohn in "Criminal Jurisprudence of Ancient Hebrews" p. 112).


Jesus before Caiaphas was illegal because the Law stated, "Be not a sole judge, for
there is no sole judge but One." (Mishna, in "Pirke Aboth" IV 8)

"An accused man must never be subjected to private or secret examination, lest in his perplexity, he furnish damaging testimony against himself." (Salvado in, "Institutions de Moise" pp. 365-366). The high priest's private examination of Jesus was illegal.

That Jesus was privately examined before His regular trial by the Sanhedrin is clear.
Whether the examiner was Annas or Caiaphas is not certainly known. John alone records the private interrogation, testifying: "The high priest then asked Jesus of His disciples and of His doctrine." This interrogation, by whom- ever, was illegal because it took place at night and was by a sole judge.


The indictment against Jesus was illegal because the Law stated, "The entire criminal procedure of the Mosaic Code rest upon four rules: certainty in the indictment; publicity in the discussion; full freedom granted to the accused; and assurance against all danger of errors of testimony" (Salvador in, "Institutions de Moise" p.365) "The Sanhedrin could not originate charges; it could only investigate those brought before it" (Edersheim in, "Life and times of The illegal trial of Jesus 3 Jesus the Messiah" Vol. I. p.309)

8 April 2011 at 07:52  
Anonymous MrJ said...

D. Singh_Thanks for this: 8 April 07:52, which is relevant to the question;

but with regard to the Trial before Pilate (as the appointed magistrate for the Roman Senate/ Princeps) the special significance of the washing of the hands needs to be considered (with much else) in connection with Psalm 26, in the course the whole (complex but terse) narrative from the Last Supper to the Crucifixion. (Compare the Last Words in connection with the Psalms.)

In large part the jurisprudence of all treaty organisations and institutions today, and of their constituent states, is traceable to Justinian's Code, which derives from the previous centuries of Rome dominion and the Principate. The Gospels make evident the interplay with the Greek and Judaic traditions by making clear that the label which Pilate caused to be attached to the One being crucified was written in the three languages.

8 April 2011 at 09:49  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr J

Thank you. You have added to my store of knowledge.

8 April 2011 at 10:31  
Anonymous richard said...

Mr Singh, thanks for the question. I feel that I'm out of my depth here amongst commenters who are intellectual. I would rely - yes - upon scientific standards. Something is either true (a "fact" as I understand it) or it isn't. For example, it's taught as a "fact" that Hitler was a very bad man - but we would have been taught the same "facts" - by our new German masters - about Churchill and no doubt the alleged menace of the Jews had the war been lost. So the facts about an individual head of state who loses a war is not a fact in the same way that hot air rises is a fact - ie one is a victor's opinion and one is a fact. There is, of course, the "fact" that murder and warfare is bad from an ethical viewpoint but the winner in a war has by definition done more of it than his opponent.
Re the Law, it may be believed by a Constable that someone was standing outside a house to commit a burglary, but the court doesn't care. There has to be evidence, ie tools, witnesses, posession of stolen goods etc. Plus they have to know the defendant's name, they can't just believe they have the right man in the dock.
If I look out of the window on a cloudy day and see rain, it's raining.

8 April 2011 at 16:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Richard

'If I look out of the window on a cloudy day and see rain, it's raining.'

And as the Bible says that Jesus Christ came 'in the flesh' - would you accept that as a fact?

11 April 2011 at 12:11  
Anonymous richard said...

I'm not sure what you mean by that, Mr Singh.

11 April 2011 at 15:23  
Blogger Weekend Yachtsman said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11 April 2011 at 16:00  
Blogger Weekend Yachtsman said...

Hmm, fixed-term for the Principal, too, so the person appointed will be constantly looking over their shoulder to see who they need to kowtow to in hope of getting another term.

Bye-bye independence, hello rule by the bureaucrats.

11 April 2011 at 16:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Richard

It is written:

'For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.'

Do you accept that Jesus Christ came into our space and time?

12 April 2011 at 07:19  
Anonymous richard said...

Mr Singh, I've never understood what John meant by the Word made flesh. Didn't Jesus pray to God and instruct people in that respect? Could not the Logos therefore be considered an emanation from the Deity, and not equal or co-eternal with Him? Maybe Arius was right and the Roman docrine of the trinity is false. I'd rather follow an ethical path than worry about the nature of religious concepts so abstruse that - with respect and in the spirit of friendship and enquiry - when I asked for an explanation I got a quote. Who knows what St. John meant? The early Christians certainly disagreed about this subject.

12 April 2011 at 12:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Richard

With respect you got more than a quote:

'Do you accept that Jesus Christ came into our space and time?'

12 April 2011 at 15:32  
Anonymous richard said...

Jesus of Nazareth existed in a particular time and space. The implication in your question seems to me to imply prior existence, but any such existence is irrelevant to what He said, as well as being theological speculation. We got what we saw. To go back to the example of rainfall, the rain I see may have existed as sea-water prior to evaporation and condensing in the air, or river-water running to the sea, or all the way back to the formation of hydrogen and oxygen but the rainfall OF THE MOMENT is what ends a drought, makes a rainbow etc etc. There was no rain before it rained, and there is no rain when it stops, although we (to make an analogy) can certainly collect and use the water to beneficial effect.
So I'm not a believer in the Lord, more of an admirer.

12 April 2011 at 16:07  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Richard

‘The implication in your question seems to me to imply prior existence, but any such existence is irrelevant to what He said, as well as being theological speculation.’

It does indeed ‘imply prior existence’.

That is not the only difficulty. What are we to make of the evidence of His existence, post existence? His resurrection?

Certainly the documentary evidence records what His enemies were up to:

‘And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, and said, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’ “And if this should come to the governor’s ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble.” And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day.’

Now why would His enemies want to suppress the fact that He rose from the dead?

Is that every dictator’s nightmare?

If the material universe is all there is; why bribe troopers to keep their mouths shut?

But if the material universe (space and time) is all there is, then we can all relax; we can do what we want; we can liquidate 20 million Russians; six million Jews; 200,000 babies each year.

Man would then be nothing.

13 April 2011 at 07:58  
Anonymous richard said...

Mr Singh, our viewpoints are at variance, and I suspect that further discu8ssion will profit neither of us. Your last paragraph implies that without interference from the supernatural (or spiritual, if you will) then mankind would be bereft of a moral compass. This statement is false. Firstly, even if there was something outside the material universe (which can never be proved) then evil people would still do evil, and would be more likely to do so in fact, because of the Devil. Secondly, a man of no religious persuasion (like me) would be unable to see the horror in the events you describe, whereas I can, especially the latter example; I'm not fooled by family planning when it's population control via eugenics, and cheapens life to boot.
Thirdly, it has to be possible that Jesus survived the crucifixion and was patched up by a bribed Roman surgeon. They fixed battle wounds in excess of a jab to the abdomen. Eg a cataract removal kit was found in the Thames, dated 2000 years ago. It's arguably within living memory that our skills in surgery at last surpassed the Romans'. I will not introduce the supernatural to this scenario (or any other) unless it's demonstrably impossible otherwise. Nor will I confuse a creature with the Creator, if it turns out that there is one.
Best regards.

13 April 2011 at 14:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1 Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.

3 He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.

6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.

7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.

8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

9 His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

10 But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

11 As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.

Isaiah 53 – written and predicted centuries before He came in the flesh.

Kind regards


15 April 2011 at 14:51  
Anonymous richard said...

"The satyr shall cry to his fellow"

17 April 2011 at 15:42  

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