Saturday, December 24, 2011

And there were shepherds abiding in the field

The birth of the Son of God was heralded by the Angel of the Lord, accompanied by the Shekinah, the Glory of God, followed by a multitude of the Heavenly Host singing praises. Hallelujah!

And for whose benefit was this magnificent display?

Kings? Presidents? Politicians? Religious leaders?

No, it was all for a few lowly shepherds – humble, poor, obscure and unnamed rustics of whom nothing more is heard in Scripture thereafter. While today’s puffed-up prelates court the wealthy, famous and influential, so today’s wealthy, famous and powerful seek out the privileged counsel, private chapels and cathedral pulpits of those same prelates for their displays of religiosity.

But not these shepherds. No, the Lord deemed them worthy because they were lowly. They were not body-beautiful celebrities, gifted orators, powerful decision makers or authoritative opinion formers; they were simply ordinary men, and the Lord chose them to be among the first to know that the Christ was born; that the Messiah had entered history; that the Son of God had come to redeem mankind - Immanuel.

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

The real deliverer and the real fulfilment of the needs of humanity is human, one of us, flesh of our flesh. He is born to rule, born to be a king, conceived of the house and lineage of David. His name is Wonderful – a mystery of divinity in humanity; Counsellor – the oracle of wisdom; the mighty God – the Word was not just with God, but was God; the Everlasting Father – not the same person as the Father, but of one substance with the Father; the Prince of Peace – bringing a peace that passes understanding.

His Grace wishes all of his readers and communicants a blessed, joyful and peaceful Christmas.

126 Comments:

Blogger non mouse said...

Thank you, Your Grace.

Your words remind me of my young days, when I thought all our own rulers had learned and understood this message...

And now, having seen so much deteriorating ever further, how I pray that even a hint of the message gets through to some of them.

Wishing you a blessed Christmas, in return.

24 December 2011 at 09:05  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

Whilst you are here, perhaps a supposed expert could explain to me:
Why are the accounts of "Matthew" and "Luke" concerning the date of Yeshua's birth completely incompatible?
And which of them is correct, and which wrong - unlesss they are both wrong, of course .....

24 December 2011 at 09:17  
Blogger Jonathan Hunt said...

G Tingey - an interesting question, but with so much information flying around it would help those who could readily furnish you with an answer if you could explain precisely _where_ you believe the incompatability lies. Otherwise any answer could entirely miss the mark.

24 December 2011 at 09:36  
Blogger English Viking said...

J Hunt,

(not rhyming slang, please?)

Your breath is being wasted even trying with him. He has read all there is to know about spaghetti monsters and is an affirmed acolyte of the vile liar with limited intelligence - Dawkins.

24 December 2011 at 09:44  
Blogger Jonathan Hunt said...

I know that, but I like feeding trolls at festive seasons. And pointing out the silliness of asking questions without proper context.

24 December 2011 at 09:54  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Mr Tingey, you'll be saying next that you don't believe in Santa Clause - Really! - how do you expect people to take you seriously? - Christians wouldn't lie to their children would they? ...

24 December 2011 at 10:14  
Blogger OldSouth said...

A most merry Christmas to you, Your Grace, and to all your crewe of followers and friends.

24 December 2011 at 11:02  
Blogger Dodo the Katholikos Dude said...

“The light of the Christmas star to you,
The warmth of home and hearth to you,
The cheer and good will of friends to you,
The hope of a childlike heart to you,
The joy of a thousand angels to you,
The love of the Son and God’s peace to you.”

Nollaig Shona Dhuit

24 December 2011 at 11:34  
Blogger The Gray Monk said...

A very blessed Christmas to you Your Grace and to all your readers and followers, including the trolls ...

I fear though, that our leaders, like the Kings of the OT, have "turned their backs on God" and the message falls on stoney ground with them in this day and age.

24 December 2011 at 12:20  
Blogger Oswin said...

Merry Christmas to you all. May God bless and keep you.

24 December 2011 at 13:13  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

A 'blessed Christmas'? Surely this is an attempt to exclude Muslims, Jews, atheists, Sikhs, Unlce Tom Cobley and Richard Dawkins - clearly a hate crime. Where are the thought police, that's what I want to know. Is this what people pay taxes for?

24 December 2011 at 16:32  
Blogger non mouse said...

'Twas ever thus.
"And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not" (John I:5).

24 December 2011 at 17:31  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

It is Christmas Day in the Workhouse,
And the cold bare walls are bright
With garlands of green and holly,
And the place is a pleasant sight:
For with clear-washed hands and faces
In a long and hungry line
The paupers sit at the tables,
For this is the hour they dine.

Thanks Banksters and the EU, you’ll see us all there yet – what !

24 December 2011 at 17:51  
Blogger David B said...

Some of us wonder about the Massacre of the Innocents, and the star of Bethlehem.

One might wonder about the historicity of these, since one would think that there would be a certain amount of non biblical conformatory evidence for these, if they in fact happened.

Having said that, a happy Yuletide to one and all.

David B

24 December 2011 at 18:05  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

And empty godless greetings to you David B....

24 December 2011 at 18:09  
Blogger The Bovina Bloviator said...

Your Grace:

Thanks for the pleasure of your blog for lo these many years. A very Merry Christmas!

Yours (no longer a brother Anglican but still a brother in Christ),

BB

24 December 2011 at 18:15  
Blogger Preacher said...

I understand that the Shepherds in question had charge over the Temple flock, whose pastures were in the hills around Bethlehem.
Part of their job was to inspect the new born lambs for any spot or blemish, as these sheep were meant for the sacrifice at passover & had to be perfect. So it's quite fitting that should be summoned to see God's perfect paschal lamb at His birth.
Thirty plus years later, Jesus entered Jerusalem on 'Palm' Sunday through the Sheep gate on the same day that these flocks were due to be herded through the same gate on the way to the temple. That's why all the crowd were gathered there.

Blessings on you all & a special toast to our host for all his hard work & hospitality.
CHEERS Dr Cranmer!.

24 December 2011 at 19:21  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Your Grace and and all of yours,
Blessings for a Christmas full of wonder and Glory.

24 December 2011 at 20:08  
Blogger William said...

Thank you Your Grace and blessings and peace to you and all your communicants.

24 December 2011 at 20:38  
Blogger IanCad said...

God Bless you YG, and all of your varied, opinionated and wonderful flock.
Thanks Mr. Preacher for that insight.

24 December 2011 at 21:35  
Blogger martin sewell said...

A joyfull celebration of the Incarnation to you all.

We gather as a disparate collection, with our own fragilities, needs, hopes and vulnerabilities to wonder at the gift of God's grace and to celebrate the promise of redemption.

In the words of Tiny Tim " God bless us every one!"

25 December 2011 at 08:29  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

Matthew 2.1 says that Herod was alive when Yeshua was born.
But Luke 2.2 says that it all happened when Cyrenius/Quirinius was Governor of Syria.
These events are at a minimum (I think) of ten years apart.
Hence the contradiction.

I was asking for an explanation, that's all.

25 December 2011 at 09:39  
Blogger Ian said...

A Happy and Peaceful Christmas to all who frequent here and especially to our kind host for providing such a wonderful blog!!

25 December 2011 at 10:44  
Blogger English Viking said...

Tingey,

Different Herods. It's real simple.


Is that the best you've got?

PS Merry Christmas.

25 December 2011 at 11:28  
Blogger Ariadne said...

David B

I couldn't agree more about the "Massacre of the Innocents". Josephus does not mention it and there was nothing he liked better than enumerating things. Wasn't the Star of Bethlehem Halley's Comet?

A very happy and peaceful Christmas to all celebrating it and a very big thank you to His Grace for the wondrous blog.

25 December 2011 at 16:58  
Blogger Dodo the Katholikos Dude said...

David B
Why would the murder of a few infants in a small village be recorded by Josephus or other historians? Small by the standards of Herod the Great. Judging from the estimated population of Bethlehem, the Catholic Encyclopedia (1910)suggests that that between six and twenty children were killed in the town, with a dozen or so more in the surrounding areas.

As for the Star of Bethlehem there is astrological evidence suggesting a conjunction of planets at this time lightening the sky.

Tinget
Most serious scholars have concluded Luke, who was not writing history but a theological account of Jesus Christ, may have got his dates and facts wrong. Shock horror! Inerrant scripture with a supposedly factual error! Others do explain away the apparent 'error' in a variety of different ways.

But then you probably know this anyway and you're just being, well, Tingey about it.

25 December 2011 at 19:28  
Blogger happyuk said...

When you talk of "puffed up prelates" I am reminded of George
Fox's initial encounters with church leaders of whom:

"I saw there was none among them all that could speak to my condition"

I think many Quaker beliefs could be effectively used to re-invigorate the dilapidated state of the CoE, namely:

- as long as one experiences a true spiritual conversion, ostentatious rituals and displays of religiosity can be discarded

- The qualification for ministry is given by the Holy Spirit, not by ecclesiastical study or university degree, thus allowing children the right to minister, for example

- religious experience is not confined to external buildings. One can just as soon worship in a field or by the seaside, since God's presence is everywhere

- though the Bible contains many truths, God resides within the faithful, so believers can follow their own inner intuition rather than always rely on strict interpretations of the Scriptures or the word of clerics

25 December 2011 at 19:33  
Blogger Pubcrawler said...

Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly-minded, for with blessings in his hand
Christ our God to earth descendeth
Our full homage to demand.

A happy and holy Christmastide to you Grace and his communicants, bonae voluntatis.

25 December 2011 at 20:26  
Blogger Dodo the Katholikos Dude said...

happyuk
You have got to be kidding, right?
There's already enough of these 'Quaker' principles at work in the Anglican Church! For Heaven's sake, apart from these liberal and unbiblical traditions, Quakers scarsely agree on little else.

25 December 2011 at 23:12  
Blogger David B said...

@Ariadne.

Halley's comet was around in 12 BCE, according to wiki. When was Cyrenius governor of Syria?

@Dodo

Some of us might prefer astronomical evidence to astrological evidence.

What conjunction are you talking about? There are none that would lighten a day to the best of my knowledge, and none that really fit, as far as I can tell, even if they didn't lighten up the day.

David B

26 December 2011 at 00:15  
Blogger happyuk said...

Dodo

No, I'm not kidding. I'm talking about the ORIGINAL 17th Century Quaker principles as espoused by George Fox: integrity in dealings with others, plain dress, plain speech, absence of rituals, honours and hierarchies, truthfulness etc.

I'm not not necessarily talking about what the Society of Fiends stands for today, which I don't know.

For all I know it may well have bought into that left-wing hedonistic nihilism that has done its best to foster schools without Christmas/Easter, or without grades, discipline, prayers, patriotism, morals and so on.

26 December 2011 at 00:17  
Blogger David B said...

The sending people to their places of birth to be taxed seems to be made up to purportedly fulfil some prophesy.

What evidence is there that the Romans ever did sonething so stupid, or indeed had any sort of census census that fits the Cyrenius date, the Herod dates and the supposed planetary conjunction dates?

Any advance on 'none'?

David B

26 December 2011 at 00:27  
Blogger len said...

The Census of Augustus Documented by Romans
"He revived the office of the Censor which had long been disused and whose duty it had formerly been to take an account of the number of people." - Seutonius Roman Historian - Augustus 23 - Lives of the Twelve Caesars

"He took a census of the people three times" - Augustus 27
"He took a census of the Roman people street by street "
- Augustus 40

"Since the consuls caused a law to be passed soon after this that he should govern the provinces jointly with Augustus and hold the census with him" - Seutonius Roman Historian - Tiberias 21- Lives of the Twelve Caesars

"This contained the number of citizens, subject kingdoms and taxes. All these details Augustus had written with his own hand" - Tacitus Annals - Book 1 Roman Historia

26 December 2011 at 10:58  
Blogger Albert said...

David B, Tingey etc.,

If I were wanting to show that the Bible contains historical difficulties, I wouldn't start with the Nativity stories - obviously there are different accounts, and obviously there may be problems when it comes to comparing the NT with other historical sources. That's always going to be the case in the ancient world. After all, in an event as recent and well-documented as WWII we don't even know how many people were killed to the nearest 10 million! Why anyone would think that the lack of mention of the handful of Holy Innocents in Bethlehem 2000 years ago is a problem is beyond me. So it's just very, very weak to argue from such examples.

So these comments just look like rather naive attempts to terrorise Christians, which in turn indicates a sheer lack of grasp of Christian scholarship.

A much better question to ask would be: What is the significance of the fact that there are obvious historical problems with parts of the Bible?

26 December 2011 at 10:59  
Blogger len said...

Augustus (Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus)
born at Rome on September 23 63 B.C.
died at Nola in Campania on August 19 14 A.D. at age 77 from an illness
reigned 41 years, from 27 B.C. to 14 A.D.
Augustus was the first Roman emperor, a grand-nephew of Julius Caesar

26 December 2011 at 11:08  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

David B. What evidence is there that the Romans ever did something so stupid,

Rather think you don’t realise what life was like under Roman occupation in the notoriously difficult Judea. Should think the inhabitants jumped at every command, no matter how ‘stupid’. Probably not even noteworthy for the time. Of course, everybody would have been familiar with the Roman short sword (...there’s a clue...).

26 December 2011 at 11:14  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

David B. and the supposed planetary conjunction dates?

A star going supernova would be visible during the day. Maybe the Chinese recorded it....

26 December 2011 at 11:30  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr David B @ 0.27, there were four Herods, Herod the Great and his three sons Herod Antipas, Herod Archelaus and Herod Phillip. All three brothers were Roman educated and therefore would have been able to work seamlessly with the Roman authorities in the province of Judea. Herod Antipas ruled the Roman client kingdom of Galilee during the whole of Christ's lifetime.

A Roman census was similar to the Domesday survey of England after the Conquest, not so much a head count but more an attempt to analyse the economy and thus calculate the taxable income thereof.

It follows that a Roman census may not have applied to the client kingdom of Galilee although a Galilean census may well have been ratified by Rome. As a consequence, the dates of a Galilean census would not necessarily have aligned with any broadly contemproraneous Roman census.

26 December 2011 at 11:41  
Blogger Preacher said...

happyuk.
You are IMO right in your assertions. For sure, most of the disciples were uneducated men who recieved the Holy Spirit at the feast of Pentecost. The experience changed their lives & empowered them to start the early christian church.
But the Bible is to the believer what the Highway Code is to the driver or the charts are to the Mariner, as well as continuing to be a source of joy & inspiritation.
Mr Fox put his finger on a problem that still exists to some extent, but God uses many things that the religious status quo reject to keep the church alive & on it's toes, i.e the Wesleys & Whitfield were rejected by the CofE, thus the Methodist Church was born. In the same way the Quakers arrived, but over the years these fresh tides become spent & returned to the spiritual sea, only to be replaced by new waves, some good, some bad. But without the Bible to warn us of the rocks of error, we are in mortal peril.

God Bless you. Preacher.

26 December 2011 at 13:13  
Blogger English Viking said...

OoIG,

Maybe it wasn,t even a star?

Shekina Glory?

26 December 2011 at 15:17  
Blogger Albert said...

EV,

Maybe it wasn,t even a star?

Quite, and then there are all the explanations we haven't even thought of yet...

26 December 2011 at 16:33  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Now there’s a thought Viking. Another manifestation of God keeping a provident eye out. Hope not, barely got head round understanding the Trinity you know...

26 December 2011 at 18:55  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

God is so amazing. He can do anything that he wants to. Be it a miracle or the use of nature to create a way of escape.
So if HE made the appearance of a star, so be it. It is much more acceptable that looking for a real star. Likewise, the Children of Abraham when leaving Egypt followed a plume of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night. A volcano eruption in the Mediterranean? Or a rather odd means of communicating? Does it really matter as long as God gets the credit?

26 December 2011 at 21:32  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"God is so amazing. He can do anything that he wants to. Be it a miracle or the use of nature to create a way of escape."

Except give amputees their limbs back. :)

26 December 2011 at 23:21  
Blogger non mouse said...

Yes, Mr. Integrity, et al. Long ago, my RI teacher introduced me to similar thinking about the parting of the Red Sea: even if a 'rational'/'scientific' explanation appears, the miracle remains in the synchronicity and, therefore, in God's Providence.

As Chaucer so often noted, some people put their faith in Chance or Luck-which is not the same thing. I, of course, infer that the Biblical faithful benefitted because they were capable of putting their faith in the right place.

Though perhaps that's one way to view Dawki's acolytes-as gamblers and gamers. Incidentally, I saw somewhere that he's proclaimed his mission of 'destroying Christianity.' Howzatt for a delusion of grandeur! I wonder, does he aspire to be the big "A" himself, or simply Mephistopholes?

26 December 2011 at 23:28  
Blogger David B said...

Inspector said -

'A star going supernova would be visible during the day. Maybe the Chinese recorded it....'

Yes it would, and no they didn't, nor anyome else.

Ever read Shirlock Holmes.

Someitmes absense of evidence is evidence of absense, as when digs don't bark.

David B

27 December 2011 at 00:31  
Blogger David B said...

@ Bluedog

Is there any non Biblical evidence of a census in that area of the world at an appropriate time to hit the other Biblical constraints, and is there any evidence anywhere, by anyone, at any time, of census takers requiring people to return to thir birthplaces?

If so, I would be intersted to see it,

David B

27 December 2011 at 00:39  
Blogger David B said...

@ Inspector.

I refer the hon gentleman to my reply to Bluedog above.

BTW someone I presume to be you has registered at my favourite discussion board.

I have started a wlcome thread for you there.

David B

27 December 2011 at 00:43  
Blogger len said...

Presenting evidence of God`s existence to Atheists is a thankless task and I am not even sure that Christians should attempt it.
By presenting evidence to atheists and appealing to their intellect(or lack of it) allows them to sit in Judgement on God who they then put 'on trial'.
The evidence of God is shown throughout Creation and even Darwin`s Theory is being rejected as unreliable amongst some Atheists.

God chose to reveal Himself through the' foolishness' of the Cross and this is the Power of God unto salvation for all who are able to grasp it.
It is a sad fact that very few will find their way to salvation because of prejudices,preconditions, and pride.

27 December 2011 at 01:00  
Blogger Dodo the Katholikos Dude said...

Albert said ...

"A much better question to ask would be: What is the significance of the fact that there are obvious historical problems with parts of the Bible?"

Actually, as innocent as it sounds, this could be a very controversial question!

Q: Does it really matter if there are areas of historical uncertainty in parts of the Bible?
a: No.

27 December 2011 at 01:13  
Blogger Dodo the Katholikos Dude said...

b: Maybe.
c: Yes.

27 December 2011 at 01:14  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

David: "BTW someone I presume to be you has registered at my favourite discussion board."

That looks like an interesting place, especially with its area of formal debate.

27 December 2011 at 09:19  
Blogger Albert said...

David,

I think you are over-looking two things. Firstly, the difficulties entailed by studying the ancient world. I've already pointed out the problems involved in counting the war dead from 1939-45. These problems - which are enormous - are massively multiplied when dealing with the ancient world. For example, sometimes corroborating evidence of something is found in only one place, and then only when it is mentioned in passing. All you would need is that document to have got lost, never have been written, be destroyed because it fell from favour, or just has missed the aside, and we are left with nothing. But that doesn't show the events never took place. So yes, Someitmes absense of evidence is evidence of absense but absence of corroborating evidence in the ancient world is not the evidence you want. At most this raises a historical doubt: it does not force a conclusion. You have to go a step further and show why it is reasonable to demand such evidence in a particular case. I do not think you have done that yet.

But the second problem for you, is that a failure to demonstrate the historicity of an account in the Bible may not be the difficulty you seem to think it is. We can argue about stars and censuses, but because of the sheer paucity of evidence, it's easy enough frankly to just make up answers which are sufficient to blunt your objection (whether or not the your objection or the answer is sound). If you wish to show that there are historical problems, there are much better texts to appeal to. I don't know much about the Nativity stories, because for theological reasons, I find the kind of question that you are raising, rather dull. I am quite happy to give you the game: some passages in the NT may not be exactly historical. What's the problem?

27 December 2011 at 10:54  
Blogger Albert said...

Dan,

Except give amputees their limbs back

What is your evidence that God cannot give amputees their limbs back if he wants to?

27 December 2011 at 10:55  
Blogger David B said...

@Albert, who said, among other things

'I am quite happy to give you the game: some passages in the NT may not be exactly historical. What's the problem?'

The real problem is biblical inerrantists, particularly in America, who try to impose their views on science curricula in schools.

Further, my understanding is that there are records of astronomical observations, perticularly from China, which are complete enough to pretty much rule out the star of Bethlehem as a real astronomical event, though of course it wouldn't rule out some putative shining angel leading the magi to the nativity, from a few thousand feer up.

That is a bit far-fetched, though, don't you think?

And in your comment to Dan, above, I think you'd need to provide evidence for God before wondering about the limits of his powere.

It does seem, though, that there are many contemporary people claiming that some God works through them to provide miraculous healings, and well attested regrowths of limbs do seem to be conspicuous by their absense.

David B

27 December 2011 at 11:50  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

David: "And in your comment to Dan, above, I think you'd need to provide evidence for God before wondering about the limits of his powere."

I was just being tongue-in-cheek anyway, it wasn't intended as an opening statement for another week-long debate.

27 December 2011 at 12:11  
Blogger Albert said...

David,

The real problem is biblical inerrantists, particularly in America, who try to impose their views on science curricula in schools.

I agree, a serious problem. But you are hardly likely to convince them using your strategy - it's just likely to put their backs up and make them more imaginative in answering objections. For example, the suggestion that the star was miraculous is hardly going to trouble them. In any case, given that the wise men come from the East, perhaps it was simply a non-miraculous astronomical event interpreted in a particular way, by an astrological culture which is now lost. So these kinds of arguments are never going to succeed if your purpose is to stop things like creationism being taught.

I think you'd need to provide evidence for God before wondering about the limits of his powere.

I think before we do that, we would need to agree on what is meant by the word "God". There may be atheists out there that understand what this word names in classical theism, but I have never met one. If I understood "God" as they did, I would be an atheist too, but as it is, I am, I trust, a totally orthodox Catholic.

well attested regrowths of limbs do seem to be conspicuous by their absense.

Do you accept that there are any well-attested miracles?

27 December 2011 at 12:57  
Blogger David B said...

@Albert

I/we have had our successes, though it is true that they are not a high percentage of those we interact with.

There are those who have come to atheist discussion boards to spread the good news, but end up either as, for want of a better word, liberal Christians, and one of my online friends was a convinced Jehovah's Witness when we first met. He now leads an atheist group at his American universtity.

I'm curious to know what you mean by 'God'. I'm well aware that it is a very broad term, and some uses of it - Einstein's for example - seem to me not so much wrong as confusing.

I am not familiar with any miracle that I could call well attested. I sort of follow Hume on the claimed ones I've seen.

Some claimed miracles just annoy me - those who claim that they survived an air crash or hurricane by divine fiat, while others who presumably believed as much and prayed as hard, were killed. Some unlikely things happen by happenstance - statiscally they must.

27 December 2011 at 13:13  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

David B. You atheist chaps demand absolute proof when it comes to belief. Yet so much of what us Christians believe in has been lost to public view or never available in the first place. The Inspector has absolutely no problem with that at all. As to the big question, there are really 2 questions. First, is there a god. ‘Cause and Effect’ says there is. Nothing happens unless something makes it so, nothing at all. Rather common sense that there has to be a ‘being’ that always was, is, and always will be, to trace EVERY event back to. It’s the second question that the Inspector is interested in. Does our God care enough about his human creation (...via evolution from an ape beginning...) that he intends to look after the best of us on our deaths. Why not, we are told we are in His image. He’s our mum and dad rolled into one. And yet, the Inspector remains fearful of Him; good reason too, break his laws and God knows our fate on death...

In all, a simple faith this man has.

Yes – that is the Inspector singed up to ‘Secular Cafe’. With the Archbishop putting his feet up, your man strayed away to see what was happening there. Seems a vast sight, with hits probably measured in numbers per second. As an administrator, perhaps you could inform us of its popularity in figures. Of course, there’s only one ‘Cranmer’ ! No other comes near ! (...have to be careful not to venerate the chap behind it all too highly or some communicants will accuse the Inspector of making a deity out of him. heh heh )

27 December 2011 at 13:18  
Blogger Albert said...

David,

I'm curious to know what you mean by 'God'.

What I mean is that atheists tend to define themselves against the kind of fundamentalists that you deal with. Such fundamentalists tend to see God and science as in competition with each other. It's as if they think of God as somehow a being within the physical universe (giving rise to "Sky Fairy" objections etc.), an agent on a par with other agents in the universe. This is arguably the logical consequence of some elements of Reformation thought. Instead, classical theism, as taught for example by St Thomas Aquinas, does not see God like this. God is the cause of the universe - he cannot be part of it or he would cause himself, which is absurd. He is not just cause in the sense of making the universe begin to exist (assuming it did), he is the reason why it continues to exist. He is thus, a cause entirely unlike any other kind of cause and therefore an agent entirely unlike any other kind of agent. Therefore, far from being in conflict with science, God is the reason why there is any science. He is the reason why the universe exists at all, why it follows what we call "laws" etc.

This means that the denial of God entails that the universe (or multiverse, if this one is within another, and perhaps another etc.) is capable of existing by itself - "it's just there" as Russell put it (thereby contradicting one of the arguments he put against Copleston and contradicting any claim to be based on evidence).

I am not familiar with any miracle that I could call well attested.

In which case, the "Why doesn't God heal amptutees"? objection is pretty pointless. If one doesn't think there are any well-attested miracles, then adding the word "amputee" doesn't really anything (literally - though I recognise that this wasn't raised by you).

I sort of follow Hume on the claimed ones I've seen.

Hume always strikes me as being rather weak on miracles actually. Which bit of Hume are you appealing to?

Some unlikely things happen by happenstance - statiscally they must.

Agreed, but that might mean some aspects of science are less reliable than we might think. How would you overcome that difficulty?

27 December 2011 at 13:42  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Inspector: "Does our God care enough about his human creation (...via evolution from an ape beginning...) that he intends to look after the best of us on our deaths."

It's not necessarily the best of us though, is it? It's mostly the ones who have Christian parents and who carried on with it after socialisation into their religion.

27 December 2011 at 15:21  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

DanJ0. Admittedly having practising Christian parents would be an early introduction into accepting the Christ, but of course not all do. Anyway that’s all that’s needed - just take Jesus on board and live as He would have you live. Now even YOU could manage that !

27 December 2011 at 15:42  
Blogger Preacher said...

An interesting debate, but I'm afraid it will end in a 0-0 draw.
As an ex cynic & agnostic I know that it will take more than debate & reason to convince an atheist or an agnostic that there is a God who cares & loves them.
Equally as a Christian I know without doubt that no argument could make me believe that I am wrong in my belief that God IS & that Jesus came & died to save all who accept Him as Lord & saviour. All I would comment is that all the talk about proof & all the cynicism is as useless as trying to cross the M1 in a blindfold in the hope that vehichles are a figment of the imagination.

God bless you all. Have a happy New Year & keep smiling.

Blessings. Preacher.

27 December 2011 at 16:25  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Inspector: "Anyway that’s all that’s needed - just take Jesus on board and live as He would have you live. Now even YOU could manage that !"

If it were that easy then lots of self-identifying Christians would do it themselves. It'd certainly add to the evidence in favour if they managed to ... but, well, it seems even a personal knowledge of the lord, creator, and sustainer of the universe doesn't seem to influence them enough. Some of them can't even manage to be pleasant people!

27 December 2011 at 16:40  
Blogger David B said...

Albert, Hume said, among other things “No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish”

I agree with this. Further, I am familiar with many cases of downright fraud regarding miracle claims, and not only within the Christian tradition. Clairvoyants, and Indian God-men like Sai Baba, apart from the Benny Hinns of this world.

I'm also familiar with many cases where people are honestly deceived, or deceive themselves - Conan Doyle regarding fairies and spiritualism, many people mistaking sleep paralysis experiences for angelic, demonic or alien encounters. I'm familiar with how the mind/eye combination can deceive. Etc etc.

I don't believe in the supernatural, and it would take a lot to persuade me.

Regarding your point about science, it is true that there may be stastical anomolies in certain objects of science, like carbon dating. Anything dated within, say, 99% probability will produce about 1% of results outside it. The solution - more tests, preferably with different methods.

And consilience.

But back at the main point of your post - I don't see how the sort of idea of God you attribute to Aquinas is consistent with a God who is in any sort of sense active in the world, responding to prayers or not, saving some people from tsunamis or plane crashes or not, any more than I can attribute such attributes to a deistic, or even pantheist God.

David B

27 December 2011 at 17:02  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

DanJ0. At school, the Inspector was taught calculus in the 4th form. It wasn’t until late in the 5th that he ‘finally got it’. You see, no amount of evidence and instructing up to then did the trick. Perhaps it’s the same for those that take an interest in religion. You hope to get it, you hope you might get an understanding it or you’re just there to pour scorn on it. Very much the personal experience.

As for doing as Jesus would do. That of course is the ideal. We are after all flesh and blood in a graceless state on earth. Can’t see Jesus reacting as the Inspector does when Fiona Bruce comes on screen !

Interesting insight in how the godless feel, Preacher. Were you a convert who suddenly found meaning to life. There seems to be an awful lot of unhappiness in the UK from lack of that, unless these people are lucky enough to find a football team to have as their stand in god, giving them a point of existence.

27 December 2011 at 17:18  
Blogger Preacher said...

OIG.
I certainly wasn't searching for Him. Instead He found me! Quite a shock really. But there was no doubt about the reality of the experience or the challenges that faced me. But what's life without a challenge?.
I believe that my faithless time was preparation for me to share the gospel with folks, to love them, understand them & give them the opportunity to find a fresh & new beginning - if they want to!.
Having taken my chance I would not go back to the selfish, souless, hopeless person that I once was. But each person must choose for themselves.

27 December 2011 at 18:07  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Heartening Preacher. Perhaps it will happen to DanJ0 one day. Hope he doesn’t think his homosexuality excludes him...

27 December 2011 at 19:21  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Preacher: "I certainly wasn't searching for Him. Instead He found me!"

I have set up a standing invitation for him/it as I have said a number of times here. I firmly believe a god is quite capable of letting me know beyond doubt it exists. It's not a specifically Christian-oriented invite either, despite my CofE upbringing, I'll accept a visit from Allah etc too. I have an open mind on that point. The invitation has stood for at least 15 years.

27 December 2011 at 20:46  
Blogger Albert said...

Dan,

Is your invitation unconditional? In other words, if God did show himself to you, would you be obedient to him?

27 December 2011 at 21:02  
Blogger Albert said...

David,

I don't see how the sort of idea of God you attribute to Aquinas is consistent with a God who is in any sort of sense active in the world, responding to prayers or not, saving some people from tsunamis or plane crashes or not, any more than I can attribute such attributes to a deistic, or even pantheist God

That's interesting, because I began by saying that I thought most atheists didn't know what theism is and you've immediately moved to suggesting that classical theism, as expounded by the foremost Christian philosopher of all time (representing it must be said, the major Christian thinkers, like St Augustine, St Anselm and St John of Damascus) is inconsistent with core Christian teachings. Something must be wrong there, mustn't it?

“No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish”

Yes, that's the problem. Why think that? I'm reminded of Elizabeth Anscombe's comment that, while Hume's argument

has the fame of a little masterpiece among those of the general public who will have heard of it...if we restrict the title 'wise and learned' [Anscombe's irony here will not be missed] to people who've looked into Hume's arguments strictly, or as philosophers at least, we find that those who like his outlook often appear to be much embarrassed - Antony Flew for example...while a man who appears to be merely dispassionate, CD Broad, simply makes mincemeat of the argument, as unreasonable in itself and as in any case inconsistent with Hume's philosophic position.

The inconsistency with Hume's overall philosophy is glaring and problematic, especially for those who like to use Hume to answer traditional arguments for the existence of God.

Further, I am familiar with many cases of downright fraud regarding miracle claims, and not only within the Christian tradition. Clairvoyants, and Indian God-men like Sai Baba, apart from the Benny Hinns of this world.

A good point, but hardly valid (especially not for a lover of Hume) to infer from that to the conclusion that every testimony to supernatural events is fraudulent. After all, many people are pretty fraudulent in reporting natural events, but that hardly supports the conclusion that we cannot credit any testimony of natural events.

I don't believe in the supernatural, and it would take a lot to persuade me.

What? I wonder.

Regarding your point about science, it is true that there may be stastical anomolies in certain objects of science, like carbon dating. Anything dated within, say, 99% probability will produce about 1% of results outside it. The solution - more tests, preferably with different methods.

Quite - I would use the same method. But I would think it a little odd to think that such a method could be used in relation to a miracle, which is, after all, unique (or if it is repeated will seem not to be a miracle).

And consilience.

Indeed, but when it comes to miracles consilience involves seeing how the event fits with our metaphysics, and, in my experience most atheists don't seem to realise that they hold metaphysical opinions and that these form and shape how they see the world. And that brings us back to your quotation of David Hume and whether it is consistent with the rest of his philosophy.

27 December 2011 at 21:21  
Blogger David B said...

You'd be welcome to exercise your apologetic skills at my board, Albert.

I read a certain amount about Aquinas at a time when I was interested in a bit of local history - the short lived Anglican monastic order on Caldey Ireland. Aelred Carlisle was a neo-Thomist, by his own account.

I don't see Aquinas's proofs to hold up, and weren't they a reformat of Anselm anyway.

Further, I would regard Aquinas as a sort of Christian Talibanista.

One quote from him I find particularly offensive to my secular taste.

'If forgers and malefactors are put to death by the secular power, there is much more reason for excommunicating and even putting to death one convicted of heresy.'

But back to your first point, in which you said

'That's interesting, because I began by saying that I thought most atheists didn't know what theism is and you've immediately moved to suggesting that classical theism, as expounded by the foremost Christian philosopher of all time (representing it must be said, the major Christian thinkers, like St Augustine, St Anselm and St John of Damascus) is inconsistent with core Christian teachings. Something must be wrong there, mustn't it?'

I don't think most Christians have the sort of classical theism you write of.

Furthermore, I still see remaining problems in reconciling such a view wuth a God who is active in the world, is influenced by intercessionary prayer, and other things of that ilk.

If Thomas thought these could be reconciled, my view is that he was simply mistaken.

David B

27 December 2011 at 21:50  
Blogger Albert said...

David,

You'd be welcome to exercise your apologetic skills at my board, Albert.

Thank you, but I really ought to spend less time blogging in 2012 than more!

I don't see Aquinas's proofs to hold up, and weren't they a reformat of Anselm anyway.

I wasn't talking about proofs, I was talking about his doctrine of God, but yes, I don't think many atheists really understand his proofs either.

'If forgers and malefactors are put to death by the secular power, there is much more reason for excommunicating and even putting to death one convicted of heresy.'

I can't really see what that has to do with the truth of theism or atheism. But if you put it in context, you will see that he is saying "on the one hand this... but on the other hand that". And notice the conditional: "if" at the beginning of the quote. But yes, I find Aquinas' views on the death penalty in general difficult, but as I say, that makes no difference at all to the question of whether your average atheist really knows what theism is (and whether therefore, he really is an atheist).

I don't think most Christians have the sort of classical theism you write of.

Of course most Christians don't have an intellectually sophisticated view of God of Thomas Aquinas. Most scientific laymen don't have the intellectually sophisticated view of evolution that Richard Dawkins does. But in the same way as a creationist wanting to rubbish evolution must take on Dawkins and not the evolutionist in the pub, so an atheist wanting to rubbish theism must take on Aquinas and the others and not the sincere, but often confused beliefs of the faithful. If the doesn't do this, he is going to be particularly susceptible to the comment of Anthony Kenny (himself an agnostic):

Many different definitions may be offered of the word 'God'. Given this fact, atheism makes a much stronger claim than theism does. The atheist says that no matter what definition you choose, 'God exists' is always false. The theist only claims that there is some definition which will make 'God exists' true.

You go on:

I still see remaining problems in reconciling such a view wuth a God who is active in the world, is influenced by intercessionary prayer, and other things of that ilk. If Thomas thought these could be reconciled, my view is that he was simply mistaken.

It's the "if" standing at the beginning of the second sentence that's interesting. It gives the impression that you don't know how Aquinas deals with these questions. If so, how can you justify your view "that he was simply mistaken"? But if you do know how Aquinas deals with such questions, how do you answer him?

But we seem to have strayed from the question of whether Hume is a reliable guide to miracles.

27 December 2011 at 22:28  
Blogger Chris said...

Thank you for your Christmas eve message, 'and there were shepherds abiding in the fields'
I found it very encouraging,
Chris,

27 December 2011 at 22:57  
Blogger David B said...

@ Inspector

Our site is a small to medium discussion board, getting 300 - 400 posts per day on an average day.

It has just over 300,000 posts in its less than 3 years of existence, and has discussions on all sorts of things outside religion.

It is a place where the religious and non religious can talk together in comparative civility, and where people, particularly Americans, who feel alienatted from their fundy communities can gain support and fellowship.

Apologists for religion are welcome to subject their ideas to critical examination. Some of our membership are better than I at biblical scholarship, having been immersed in religion for decades of their lives.

Dissenting voices are welcomed by some - me for instance, and tolerated by others, the intolerant are talked to privately.

We do, as I say, have some religious people who are valued contributors to our little community.

David B

27 December 2011 at 23:01  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Thanks David B. Having gone to the trouble of registering, the Inspector is bound to visit again soon. Happy to be informed and share on anything really, not as a ‘religious’ as such, just a brother in humanity who believes.

Be seeing you...

27 December 2011 at 23:19  
Blogger Albert said...

David,

Apologists for religion are welcome to subject their ideas to critical examination.

Is it only a one way street, or are apologists for irreligion welcome to subject their ideas to critical examination?

27 December 2011 at 23:24  
Blogger David B said...

Well, yeah, pretty much it is subjecting apologetics to critical examination.

Will they stand up to it, do you think?

But at leat we won't burn you for heresy, as Aquinas wanted the other way round.

David

28 December 2011 at 00:00  
Blogger Dodo the Katholikos Dude said...

David B

What a complete load of tosh about your blog! I've visited it and its full of 'intellectual' and 'rational' dismissals of 'religion'. Well informed certainly and generally 'very well mannered' in the public school understanding.

You said:
"Apologists for religion are welcome to subject their ideas to critical examination (by experts)."

There's many a way of calling your opponent a simpleton and idiot and tearing his faith apart! No Inspector, I'd avoid it or at the very least not get too drawn into discussions. In days gone bye, it would be on a 'Forbidden List'.

len fancy registering along with the Inspector? Best not, eh?

28 December 2011 at 00:47  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

David: "Apologists for religion are welcome to subject their ideas to critical examination."

Unlike here, which is really for short comments on a topic, the structure of the place is suited to debates. I like the idea of a peanuts gallery for a formal debate too. I still think a usenet-style tree structure is a more suitable format for an informal debate so that sub-themes can be separated and taken to their conclusion.

28 December 2011 at 08:01  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I've probably posted this before but if anyone reading is actually interested in the Summa Theologica then I found this to be very useful at the start.

28 December 2011 at 08:06  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

BTW, the content of that A Kenny quote as it stands is bollocks:

"Given this fact, atheism makes a much stronger claim than theism does. The atheist says that no matter what definition you choose, 'God exists' is always false."

It insists on an atheist being a positive-atheist.

28 December 2011 at 09:52  
Blogger Albert said...

David,

Will they stand up to it, do you think?

It depends on what you mean by "stand up to it". If you mean, "will they convince the sceptic?" then almost certainly not, but they may bemuse him. I find that so few unbelievers actually know what it is that they don't believe in (despite the fact they usually express themselves in strident and patronising ways), that most of the conversation revolves around trying to clarify what is meant by basic terms and pointing out that the unbeliever's "reasonable" arguments perhaps aren't so reasonable, and in any case, under-cut the unbeliever's position also.

It looks therefore that you have set up a kind of bear pit for an apologist to enter and then be attacked on all sides. The sheer number of attackers, multiplied by their collective ignorance (which would need patient unpicking), ensures that even if there are such things as reasonable apologetics, it is impossible to show it.

But you don't seem to be addressing my remarks on miracles and God.

But at leat we won't burn you for heresy, as Aquinas wanted the other way round.

Well, for much of Christian history, the Church was opposed to the death penalty. Aquinas was, unfortunately, writing at a time when it wasn't. There's a limit to how far even the greatest mind can break free of the shackles of his era.

Having said that, from the time of the French Revolution onwards, the history of unbelief/free-thought etc. has been frequently linked with violence on a scale not found in Christian Europe. And then there's the fact that most modern people seem quite content to out do Herod in slaughtering the Holy Innocents - whom we remember today. So what's your view on abortion David?

28 December 2011 at 09:57  
Blogger Preacher said...

Hi Dan.
Sorry to be a bit tardy in my reply, (been Out).
Perhaps God is more informal than most people think. I'm sure that He appreciates your invitation, but is it like inviting Aunty Maude for Christmas, you know the lady, (moustache on top lip) you invite her because you know you should, but secretly hope she won't accept.
It's been said before, but I'll say it again "God stands at the door & knocks" (Unlike a police raid,) "Whoever opens the door, I will come in & we will dine together". N.B the locks are on your side.


Blessings for the New Year. Preacher.

28 December 2011 at 10:03  
Blogger Albert said...

Dan,

The advice you have posted on the Summa is excellent - that's exactly how I read it when I am reading a passage for the first time. For a more serious read there is Concise Translation of the Summa by Timothy McDermott, which is largely made up of the "I answer that" sections, making it readable prose.

the content of that A Kenny quote as it stands is bollocks...It insists on an atheist being a positive-atheist

Well, Kenny is one of our foremost philosophers, to dismiss what he writes as "bollocks" seems a shade hasty. I haven't read Kenny on atheism, but knowing how thorough he is, he will have done away with the kinds of lilly-livered evasions most atheists offer to prevent their position being subject to critical examination.

28 December 2011 at 10:05  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Preacher: "It's been said before, but I'll say it again "God stands at the door & knocks" (Unlike a police raid,) "Whoever opens the door, I will come in & we will dine together". N.B the locks are on your side."

I'm inviting the police raid version then we all know where we stand. It seems to me that I ought to have the same sort of options as angelic beings: the Free Will to turn away from his/its face if I choose. Hiding behind the bushes tapping at my windows and making owl noises to get me jumping at the slightest sound doesn't really seem to be in the spirit of it.

And that's the actual truth of it, isn't it? Creating belief by trying to see messages and nudges in everyday events, reading the Bible or Qur'an or whatever to create a framework for belief, waiting until I'm at a low ebb and desperate for some hope before moving in with the help of another believer, etc. There's no need for all that. Free Will is about choice and the best choices are made with all the facts to hand.

28 December 2011 at 10:40  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I need some emphasising italics by the look of it. "BTW, the content of that A Kenny quote as it stands is bollocks". For the hard of reading, you see. :)

As it stands, it insists on an atheist being a positive-atheist. As often is the case with these things, the argument in it is valid but it is clearly not sound.

28 December 2011 at 10:48  
Blogger Preacher said...

Dan.
Totally agree with you. You have free will. No one has the right to take it from you, & God certainly won't.
God won't hide, He will walk up to your front door & knock. If you don't open it ,He will walk away.
Thats the deal.
I'm not of the school that see's messages etc in everyday events, although there are some people who do,I'm too hard nosed for that & God accepts that, although I do find That He will communicate with me when neccesary (What's the use of a God who can't?, they call them idols where I come from).
Sure I'm not perfect,& I wasn't at a low ebb when I made my choice, far from it & if that's the only reason for accepting Jesus Christ, then I would question the validity of it in any professing believer.
I do not create a belief that fits from the Bible, (I didn't own one for weeks after my experience) it's not what I believe thats important. But Who I believe & trust in.
That's the way that I've found it to be, the rest is up to the individual.
I would say that all of us, whether we believe or not act in faith every day in many ways & mainly without all the facts, simply because none of us can ever have all the facts. Thats why Science still exists & often what was once viewed as fact has to be discarded in the light of later research.
I don't know if any of this helps, but it might at least clear up some misconceptions.

Preacher.

28 December 2011 at 11:42  
Blogger Albert said...

Dan,

As it stands, it insists on an atheist being a positive-atheist

Yes, and I suspect that he has shown that there are only two real positions: positive atheism and agnosticism. There are positive atheists of course, but they tend to have positive reasons for being atheists which have nothing to do with showing there is no God and everything to do with wanting there to be no God. Nietzsche, I think couldn't care less whether the arguments showed God existed or not, he didn't want God to exist, perhaps because he did not want there to be an absolute authority or goodness higher than himself. Freud was even worse. At one point in his life he was even convinced that the arguments for God's existence showed God existed. But he still rejected God. Total fruit-cake if you ask me. And then he spent his life obsessing - as so many unbelievers do - over whether God exists or not, desperately trying to show that he was just some kind of projection. But, as Ana-María Rizzuto points out in Why Did Freud Reject God? A Psychodynamic Interpretation the reasons Freud rejected God were psychological, not intellectual. His own psychological system showed it was simply too painful for him to believe in God.

I suspect that many declared atheists are like this (though perhaps not as dramatic as Freud). They have powerful psychological reasons for not wanting there to be a God, but their reasoning at most supports a kind of agnosticism. (This may explain why so many atheists are so aggressive and patronising towards believers - they have a need to show they are right to be atheists and therefore become abusive when they can't win the argument.) Kenny is perhaps saying that atheists, if they want to be reasonable, shouldn't exceed the limits of their reason and stick with the agnosticism which their reasoning entails (even if they have psychological reasons for finding the uncertainty uncomfortable).

I'm inviting the police raid version then we all know where we stand. It seems to me that I ought to have the same sort of options as angelic beings: the Free Will to turn away from his/its face if I choose.

But that's the problem I think. If God makes his existence overwhelmingly evident to you, you simply don't have the free-will to turn away. That's why I asked whether you would be willing to obey him if he showed himself to you. He's not going to interfere with your free-will, I think. Hence the following, while it may describe some religious experience, isn't the whole story (as Preacher has already rather beautifully pointed out):

And that's the actual truth of it, isn't it? Creating belief by trying to see messages and nudges in everyday events, reading the Bible or Qur'an or whatever to create a framework for belief, waiting until I'm at a low ebb and desperate for some hope before moving in with the help of another believer, etc. There's no need for all that. Free Will is about choice and the best choices are made with all the facts to hand.

28 December 2011 at 12:08  
Blogger Preacher said...

Albert.
Excellent! I feel however that it's important to say that even during the short period following my 'Epiphany' I was acutely aware that all my options were still open & that I still had free will & could reject or accept the offer that was made & that the Lord would accept my decision. But if I did reject it I knew that it would be the worst decision of my life & the chance may never come again, to put it simply, it was like tearing up a winning lottery ticket because you were afraid of the changes it would make to your life.

Be Bessed. Preacher.

28 December 2011 at 12:54  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Preacher: "God won't hide, He will walk up to your front door & knock. If you don't open it ,He will walk away."

Well, he hasn't yet that's for sure. From your description, it sounds like he banged rather hard on your door. I invite him/it to do the same to mine. Until then, I'm using the usual human attributes of reason, emotion, and experience to go on with my life. I don't think a real, human-oriented god would expect me to do otherwise.

Your subjective religious experiences are your own of course (I envy them from afar) but I heard of similar experience from the two Mormons I last chatted to. I obviously need my own subjective experiences since, objectively, there's a significant discrepancy somewhere there.

If I have to make a leap of faith towards one option of the many out there then I'd prefer it to be Jewish, or alternatively CofE, after that ... a long way after that ... probably Muslim, and then Catholic. Afterall, it doesn't seem to matter much once one lands, each one has its fervent, passionate believers.

28 December 2011 at 13:09  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

There's plenty of resources on the net if anyone is interested in the various philosophical stances in atheism, there's no need to bother with all that angry-man cod psychology up there.

28 December 2011 at 13:18  
Blogger Preacher said...

Dan.
Yeah it was loud, but the bell was out of order, (Joke).
I sincerely hope that He does take you up on your offer & that you are in when He calls.
A word of advice though, although I don't think that it's necessary in your case. If you do accept the offer, don't disengage your brain, or abandon your intellect. God wants to use both.
Happy Hunting.

28 December 2011 at 13:45  
Blogger Albert said...

Preacher,

I feel however that it's important to say that even during the short period following my 'Epiphany' I was acutely aware that all my options were still open & that I still had free will & could reject or accept the offer that was made & that the Lord would accept my decision.

Exactly, for theological reasons, I think that religious experiences are unlikely to compel religious belief. They are invitations, they challenge unbelief, but they do not force belief. There is always an element of freedom involved - but this is true even of philosophical reasoning in relation to God.

Bless you too!

28 December 2011 at 13:52  
Blogger Albert said...

Dan,

There's plenty of resources on the net if anyone is interested in the various philosophical stances in atheism, there's no need to bother with all that angry-man cod psychology up there.

Two things here: firstly, are the various characterisations of atheism really adequate? I suspect that, at the material level at least, they are not. But the distinctions appear to serve, for some declared atheists key functions in enabling them to evade objections. My guess is that a philosopher of the quality of Kenny had already done the work you are demanding.

As for the angry man psychology, I make two observations. Firstly, Rizzuto is a pretty serious psychoanalyst who has won awards from American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association for her work in psychology and belief: she cannot be reasonably rejected out of hand, I think. She should be engaged with. I came across her because I decided that Freud could not be rejected out of hand. If one wishes to know the truth, one must study even those who have positions one finds uncomfortable. I needn't have worried with Freud on religion. Despite his popularity, he's got huge problems - and that led me Rizzuto.

Secondly, in speaking of angry atheists, I am not saying that all atheists are angry, but I am speaking from experience. So what's there to be objected to, in what I said?

28 December 2011 at 14:00  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Preacher: "I sincerely hope that He does take you up on your offer & that you are in when He calls."

Just a supplementary question ... and I'm asking it sincerely: Was your revelation definitely from God as Christians understand it i.e. the god of the Bible?

29 December 2011 at 09:04  
Blogger Ariadne said...

David B

I'm sorry to come back so late but here are some links relating to a comet likely to be Halley's, the 12 BC transit and Quirinius who arrived in Judea in 1 AD.

Quirinius

Halley 1

Halley 2 - and Matthew

A very happy New Year to all in case I don't get back before then.

29 December 2011 at 16:42  
Blogger Ariadne said...

OopS! Quirinius arrived in 3 AD and started to organise a census.

29 December 2011 at 16:49  
Blogger Preacher said...

Danjo.
Yes Dan. It was definitely the same Jesus Christ of the Bible.
Without doubt, some people, even Christians may question my claims, but it's unimportant because I know what happened & my life was changed that night.
If people think I'm of my trolley, that's their problem, not mine.
I don't know if other believers all understand it, even I don't to some extent understand it. But I do know it happened. No booze, No drugs, but an amazing meeting with a person who at the time I thought was proof of the old saying "Good guys always come last". He died publicly 2000 years ago but I met Him alive & well in 1977. I know it sounds crazy & I can't do justice to the experience here. all I can say is that it happened.

Blessings. Preacher.

29 December 2011 at 19:59  
Blogger Dodo the Katholikos Dude said...

DanJ0 asked Preacher

"Was your revelation definitely from God as Christians understand it i.e. the god of the Bible?"

Without doubting the sincerity of the experience related by Preacher and the life changing nature of it, it is important to say that not everybody converts in this way. For some it is a slow and developing relationship with Christ as they grow in the knowledge of their faith.

It generally starts with a desire to know God. Some spend many years searching; some are blessed with a sudden and profound unsolicited change. God does work in mysterious ways. And, of course, there is only One God - as revealed in the Old and New Christian Testaments.

30 December 2011 at 01:30  
Blogger Albert said...

I have no difficulty believing Preacher's experience - which I found rather beautiful. I was however going to add a note of caution about this not being the only way of converting. But I see Dodo has got there first.

30 December 2011 at 11:09  
Blogger David B said...

@Albert

This is not, I think, the best format for going deeply into off topic subjects like abortion, or a deep discussion of putative gods and putative miracles.

For what it's worth, though, I think the current British law on abortion is pretty sensible. Abortion is never, I think, a good thing, but can often be the lesser of evils, and, within limits concerning how far the pregnancy has gone, the person making the final choice should be the person carrying the foetus.

@ Ariadne

It seems from posts above that fitting Halley in with Quirinius is not a realistic

David B

30 December 2011 at 12:30  
Blogger Albert said...

David,

This is not, I think, the best format for going deeply into off topic subjects like abortion, or a deep discussion of putative gods and putative miracles

I really don't see why.

Abortion is never, I think, a good thing

It is pretty clear that Aquinas thought the same of executing heretics.

but can often be the lesser of evils

It is therefore, in your view, an evil - an injustice, one presumes committed against an innocent and defenceless member of the human race. However, wrong I think Aquinas was on the execution of heretics, it was his reasoning that was at fault, not his will. But in conceding abortion is an evil, you show the fault lies in your will. No one has the right the commit an evil against another, let alone a mother against the fruit of her womb.

30 December 2011 at 13:44  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Preacher: "Without doubt, some people, even Christians may question my claims, but it's unimportant because I know what happened & my life was changed that night."

A subjective experience like that would probably be enough to satisfy me personally. Claiming one is Napoleon is very much open to question, claiming a personal divine revelation is something different.

I'm pretty sceptical of revelations when one is in extremis or during collective worship and I wouldn't want one like that but a Road To Damascus experience on one's own is in a different ballpark.

30 December 2011 at 15:21  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I'm very sceptical of slowly evolving revelation though. That smacks of convincing oneself through familiarity.

30 December 2011 at 15:22  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

David: "This is not, I think, the best format for going deeply into off topic subjects like abortion"

Indeed. I've done it here two or three times and held my own to my satisfaction but it's too long-winded and it never ends well: Too emotive, and it's usually down to competing propositions in the end.

30 December 2011 at 15:33  
Blogger Preacher said...

Danjo.
I sincerely hope & pray that you will experience a personal touch from the Lord. It might not be the same as mine, but it will be relevant to you, unmistakeable, powerful & personal.

Blessings for the New Year.

Preacher.

30 December 2011 at 17:24  
Blogger Dodo the Katholikos Dude said...

DanJ0 said ...

"I'm very sceptical of slowly evolving revelation though. That smacks of convincing oneself through familiarity."

"I'm pretty sceptical of revelations when one is in extremis or during collective worship and I wouldn't want one like that but a Road To Damascus experience on one's own is in a different ballpark."

Oh, I'm sure God will take your sysyed preferences fully into account should He ever decide to offer you a personal encounter. He wouldn't want to leave you room for ongoing doubt or with a vestige of free will in the matter. That just wouldn't do.

30 December 2011 at 21:07  
Blogger Dodo the Katholikos Dude said...

Ps
And also your preference for Judaism over Anglicanism with Islam and Catholicism next in line.

30 December 2011 at 21:35  
Blogger Ariadne said...

David B

There is no link between Quirinius and Halley's comet.

The article on the Star of Bethlehem makes it likely that the "star" is the one seen by Josephus, the date of which makes it likely to have been Halley's. The author of the article makes a very good case for Matthew's having added to his story an artistic device borrowed from a factual description in Josephus.

30 December 2011 at 22:04  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "He wouldn't want to leave you room for ongoing doubt or with a vestige of free will in the matter."

I expect you have plenty of room for doubt yourself.

30 December 2011 at 23:38  
Blogger Preacher said...

Dodo.
God will definitely know what Danjo needs to convince him of His love for him & He has the resources to provide it.
He does not remove the freewill of any individial, but He does remove any vestige of doubt.
I have faith that when God touches a person, He will bring him or her through the maze to the place that is right for their peace & safety. It may be a perilous journey, but if they follow Him closely they will arrive.
With God it's never a case of 'One size fits all', none of us are the same & our pasts are all varied.
The answer does not lie in any denomination, but in Jesus Christ, & Him alone. Paul makes this quite clear when he speaks of divisions in 1 Corinthians 1:11-31.


New Year Blessings. Preacher.

31 December 2011 at 11:11  
Blogger Albert said...

Preacher,

The answer does not lie in any denomination, but in Jesus Christ, & Him alone

Indeed, but then, Catholicism does not regard itself as a denomination. Denominations indicate versions of much the same thing, as sterling coins are just different amounts of the same currency. But the Church cannot be anything like this, for the very reason you give: We are to rest in Jesus Christ and him alone. Now this happens by being part of the church, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all. Thus, Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour. As the living body cannot be separated from the head of the body, and as the body cannot be divided from itself, so the true Church, if it rests in Christ alone, and genuinely has Christ as its head, must be one with him and one with itself. For the same reason, the church of the living God, [is] the pillar and bulwark of the truth and thus cannot err and has not erred.

Consequently, divisions, to the extent that they exist, are only ever divisions, from this body, the Church. They do not therefore justify division, or indicate any kind of Christian "denomination" is as good as another, rather, in the breach, they testify to the supreme importance of being one, as he is one with his Father:

I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.

31 December 2011 at 12:28  
Blogger Preacher said...

Albert.
The problem that I see is that NO Church sees itself as a denomination. They ALL believe that they are the ONLY ones with the truth & all others are wrong.
Offshoots from the original 'true' Church.
But if carried to extremes we would all be Messianic Jews like Peter, Paul & all the rest of the first Disciples.
Christians were originally known as followers of 'The Way', then it got messy as the old sins of greed & pride slowly took hold & fights & wars broke out between the factions.
The people who were told by the Lord Himself that the World would know them by their love for one another, were busily Killing each other & the Jews from whom their salvation had come.
IMO we are all so busy attaching labels to ourselves that many have lost the love & compassion for the people who need Jesus Christ most & even worse, when the World looks at the 'Church' it doesn't like what it sees.
When it looks at Jesus, it loves Him, it's US that puts them off.
The only answer I can come up with is to start afresh, get rid of all the religious baubles bangles & beads, the precious trinkets that so enchant us.
Repent of all our sinful pride & desire, beg the Lord to wash us anew & when we are clean to fill us with His Holy Spirit, that we may once more gaze upon Him who loves us so much that He submitted himself to the cruelty of a Roman Cross for us.
Perhaps we ALL should just go back to being followers of 'The Way'.
But somehow I can't see it happening.


Blessings in Christ Jesus brother.
And a Happy New Year.


Preacher.

31 December 2011 at 19:50  
Blogger Albert said...

Preacher,

The problem that I see is that NO Church sees itself as a denomination.

I don't think that's true. I gave biblical evidence to show that the Church is visibly one and has not erred for two thousand years. No Protestants can or do, claim that. There's only really other Christian tradition that could, even in principle, and that's the Eastern Christians.

They ALL believe that they are the ONLY ones with the truth & all others are wrong.

That's not true. The CofE regards herself only as "part of the holy Catholic Church". I don't see that the Methodists or the URC claim to be the whole Church either. Some of the Baptists might, but as they are unlikely to claim the Church is visible they are not making the same claim as the Catholics. And so on.

Offshoots from the original 'true' Church.

Protestants might claim to be that. But Catholics do not. We are not an off-shoot of the original true Church. We are the original true Church, that is our claim.

Christians were originally known as followers of 'The Way', then it got messy as the old sins of greed & pride slowly took hold & fights & wars broke out between the factions.

The apostolic Church was in the grip of the greatest sins. It didn't stop it being the Church though.

IMO we are all so busy attaching labels to ourselves that many have lost the love & compassion for the people who need Jesus Christ most & even worse, when the World looks at the 'Church' it doesn't like what it sees.

Quite: the splits are wrong. So come back to the one Church!

The only answer I can come up with is to start afresh

But that is to assume Protestant ecclesiology! It's exactly the biblical validity of Protestant ecclesiology that I've argued against.

Blessings to you too my brother in Christ, and a Happy New Year.

And a happy New Year to everyone else - both those near and those who are afar off.

31 December 2011 at 21:00  
Blogger Dodo the Katholikos Dude said...

aLBERT
Bless you; you are an example to us all.

1 January 2012 at 00:34  
Blogger Preacher said...

Albert.
You make my point admirably,
"Come back to the ONE Church".
I am part of the one Church, the Church of Jesus Christ. I don't consider myself either Protestant or Roman Catholic nor Baptist or Methodist or........?.
You see the R.C church didn't start until hundreds of years after the ascension, the same as all the others. The Jehovahs Witnesses were slow off the mark, not starting until the late 19th century & of course the Mormons slightly pipped them at the post.

The point is they ALL claim to be the ONE true Church.
Confusing for the average man on the Clapham Omnibus or what?.
Anyway it seems that three of us are stuck in the coal cellar so it's time to surface.
As Bob Hoskins once said "It's good to talk".
Blessings. Preacher.

1 January 2012 at 09:56  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Preacher, you're 'len' renamed aren't you? I don't know why I didn't recognise that before. It was the "?." that did it.

1 January 2012 at 10:37  
Blogger Albert said...

Preacher

You see the R.C church didn't start until hundreds of years after the ascension

I wonder if you would care to defend that (un)historical assertion?

I am part of the one Church, the Church of Jesus Christ.

But you seem to saying that the Church is not visibly united. I have given biblical reference to show that it is. If you wish to defend your position, you must attend to that evidence and then supply your own.

BTW, neither JWs nor Mormons are Christians, properly speaking.

1 January 2012 at 10:44  
Blogger Albert said...

Dan,

Preacher, you're 'len' renamed aren't you?

No, I don't think so. Preacher is much more polite. An example even.

1 January 2012 at 10:45  
Blogger len said...

Preacher is definitely not me, there is only one of me.

I do try to be polite but don`t always succeed as Albert has observed.

Must try harder!.

1 January 2012 at 16:16  
Blogger Albert said...

there is only one of me

What would we do with two of you, Len?!

1 January 2012 at 16:59  
Blogger Preacher said...

Danjo & co. ROFL!!!!!
Sorry folks but I think you'll find that one of me is quite enough to deal with.
Albert, I don't wish to be dragged into the religous disputes that many of you folks seem to enjoy.
But the R.C Church Sprang up under Constantine, There's no historical record of Peter being the first Pope, there were once several 'Popes' in different countries warring with each other as to who was the 'real' Pope, & to top it all the Lord tells us to "Call no man Father, for you have one Father who is in Heaven". (Sorry about the quotation marks Dan) yet one of the titles of the Pope is Papa or Holy Father.

Albert. Please don't think I'm putting you or your choice of Church down. I'm an ordinary non conformist Born again believer who calls it as I see it, I can be blunt but I try not to be. God's Love is the most powerful force in the Universe & I Feel the love of God for all mankind & preach the gospel of repentance that leads to salvation through the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made on the Cross of Calvary - Thats it! if anyone asks me to substantiate my beliefs or why I won't join their club I will tell them & be frank, honest & open but hope they will consider what I have said & not be offended.
Len.
Apologies Brother, I certainly wouldn't want to be associated with me if I were you.
Dan.
Sorry for the confusion, nice shot sir but no cigar!.


Blessings on you ALL!.
Can we now move on from Christmas Eve, Pleeeeease!


Preacher.

1 January 2012 at 19:51  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Preacher: "Dan.
Sorry for the confusion, nice shot sir but no cigar!."

I wasn't actually trying to be rude or aggressive, you understand. I just assumed that Len had decided to quietly rebrand himself after receiving some recent, sustained and concerted unpleasantness here. I've been using online forums since the start of usenet and quirky punctuation, such as "!." and "?.", and paragraph formatting attract my attention, that's all really.

1 January 2012 at 22:14  
Blogger Preacher said...

Dan.
No probs & no offence taken.
I can't speak for Len though, fancy being taken for ME!!!!! LOL.


Blessings Brother. Preacher.

2 January 2012 at 16:52  
Blogger Oswin said...

Len used to be polite too; but then he discovered Dodo! As my otherwise religious Mother used to say: ''and that's enough to make a Saint spit!''

4 January 2012 at 02:39  

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