Right Guilty of “Grand Theft Jesus”

“Be sure to tell everyone that there is only one way to heaven, and Jesus is the Way,” some of … Continued

“Be sure to tell everyone that there is only one way to heaven, and Jesus is the Way,” some of our self-identified Christian friends told my wife and me before we left on an interfaith trip to Turkey two years ago.

I’m sure that message would have gone over well with our Muslim hosts! We chose not to deliver it. Now it appears that most American Christians wouldn’t have delivered it, either.

The surprising findings of a survey announced this week by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life show that those who push an exclusive brand of religion do not speak for a majority of American Christians. Fully 70 percent of Americans with a religious affiliation said they believe many religions can lead to eternal life, and, despite common knowledge to the contrary, 57 percent of those who attend evangelical churches agreed that theirs is not the only way to heaven.

These results are refreshing. We can hope they will convince the media to stop lionizing such people as Pat Robertson, James Dobson, and the late Jerry Falwell as representatives of American Christianity.

These leaders are no longer as influential as they have advertised themselves to be, and perhaps they never were. But the intolerant voices on the “Christian Right” are forceful, and they remain a power to be reckoned with and a danger to free society. Their leaders resent people who threaten their position by thinking differently; fearing pluralism, they embrace its opposite: singularism. “It’s my way to the high place, or the highways to hell” is the one thing upon which singularist adherents to various religions agree.

Roger Williams, the theologian and co-founder of Rhode Island, identified the problem with this approach in 1670: “forc’t Worshpp stincks in Gods nostrils.”

The Pew survey indicates that most people accept that there are many routes to heaven, and many road maps to follow, and that reaching the divine destination depends less on which road is chosen than on how one drives along the way. The reckless drivers on their separate one-way roads to heaven, blinders on and pedal to the metal, inevitably crash into others at each intersection with another heavenly highway.

Many genuine Jesus Followers, along with pluralists in other faiths, are working to build bridges between the different routes, but the singularists in Christianity and Islam continue their plots to blow them up.

Christian evangelism should seek to spread the teachings of Jesus, which are universal in their lessons of love and patience, rather than the stories and rituals particular to Christianity. Even as the monotheistic religions posit that God is Singular, they should accept that there are plural ways by which He/She can be believed in and worshipped. God is a pluralist.

A wonderful, inclusive religious declaration was made by Sly Stone forty years ago:

Makes no difference what group I’m in . . .

Different strokes for different folks . . .

At last, it appears that most American Christians are accepting this wisdom. They realize that, as Sly says, sometimes I can be wrong and we have to live together.

My favorite image of the relationship of various religions to the Ultimate Truth is a wagon wheel with the Truth as the hub at the center and the different religions as the spokes on the wheel, each looking towards the same Divine Truth, but approaching it from different directions.

Different spokes for different folks.

Robert S. McElvaine is Elizabeth Chisholm Professor of Arts & Letters at Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss. Read an excerpt from his latest book, “Grand Theft Jesus: The Hijacking of Religion in America” (Crown).

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  • goldie

    As I read the Bible and I am sure you don’t, the ministers he mentioned are correct, Jesus said that the only way to Heaven is thru Him. And I will take His word over yours any time. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell realize they are telling the truth and if anybody realy reads the Lords word that is the truth. Most people think they will go to Heaven, all I can say, the truth will out when we die and see how it happens.

  • Angela

    Dear Mr. Robert S. McElvaine,I believe wholeheartedly what you’ve stated about the attitudes ofmost “professing Christians”. However, it also shows the state of Christianity. It’s in a sad state as most professing Christians may not even be saved. All I can say is we truly need to pray for the Church. I’ll stick w/James Dobson and the Bible for doctrinal truth not mere “loving, tolerant, make up doctrine as I go Christians”.May the Lord have mercy on HIS church and especially those who are leading the flock.

  • James R. Pool

    Right On ….and about time.

  • James R. Pool

    Right On ….and about time.

  • Roy

    goldie said:As I read the Bible and I am sure you don’t, the ministers he mentioned are correct, Jesus said that the only way to Heaven is thru Him. And I will take His word over yours any time. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell realize they are telling the truth and if anybody realy reads the Lords word that is the truth. Most people think they will go to Heaven, all I can say, the truth will out when we die and see how it happens.My idea of hell would be spending eternity with the hateful, closed minded likes of her and her Pharisees Robertson, Falwell and Dobson. America has had enough of neochristian bullies who took over in 2000 with their wedge politics of race and fear and the rest of their false crap. You gotta’ feel sorry for Jesus for what these people do and say in his name.

  • Doug

    In most of the recent books by the Four Horsemen of atheism, they say something to the effect that the problem with moderate religion is that it helps to empower extremist religion by treating having a religion as ‘per se’ a good thing.If Christians like you would start spreading the word that honest and helpful atheists are being truer to the words of Christ than the Dobsons, Falwells and Robertsons, we might start getting somewhere.

  • Brambleton

    I suspect that the whole “everyone is going to Heaven” theory has been gaining momentum for quite some time. I remember when actor John Ritter passed away and some talking head made a comment like “i’m sure he’s in heaven right now, looking down on us, smiling and laughing.” Why is he in Heaven? Did he have a loving relationship with Christ? Did he turn his life over to Jesus? Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t.If you want to experience Heaven, then give your life to Christ. Period. If you want to experience Heaven because that’s where everybody should go, and we’re all just really good people, then you might be in for a really rude awakening.It would be great if it were easy. But it’s not. It’s hard. It’s difficult. But it’s the hard that makes it good.

  • ghostbuster

    But the intolerant voices on the “Christian Right” are forceful, and they remain a power to be reckoned with and a danger to free society.But the intolerant voices on the “Liberal Left” are forceful, and the remain a power to be reckoned with and a danger to free society.So let’s just throw anyone who isn’t a pluralist into an internment camp and forcefeed them some diversity training.Dude has no clue about “freedom”.

  • Della Welemirov

    Exactly how do you define Chritianity?

  • Ed

    In response to Goldie:You may read the bible but it appears that you don’t understand it.Jesus said the way to heaven is through him, not through worship of him. What he meant was to follow his teachings. And what were those teachings? Love, tolerance, acceptance and helping each other along the way.Jesus NEVER said you should judge others and shun those you don’t agree with.

  • outlawtorn103

    Regardless of who’s going to heaven and who’s going to hell — where ever Robertson, Dobson and Falwell et al end up is the exact place I want to avoid.I’d prefer not to have to put up some notion as silly as the afterlife, but if it’s inevitable and all the self-righteous bible worshipers go to heaven, I think I’ll have a pretty good time in hell.

  • HUSSEIN ELSHIBINI

    Before writing my comment on the plurality of God I would like to state that I am an elderly retired university professor , born of a Muslim Egyptian father and a catholic Italian mother , but reason and personal experience make me think of myself as a pantheist firmly believing in the identity of God and nature . Since the vast majority of western readers are not supposed to know the relation between Islam on one side and Judaism and Christianity on the other , I believe the following few points could broadly illustrate it , reminding that these three religions are oriental ones .

  • Brambleton

    Ed,Actually, if you study Matthew, you will see that Jesus did in fact say that we should both judge and discern (greek word krino). However, He is very clear that judgment should be made to rescue and not rebuke.”Judge not lest ye be judged” and “Wives submit to your husbands” are probably two of the biggest misunderstood verses in the Bible among non-Christians.

  • Jonathan Shaffer

    “Heaven” and “eternal life” are vagaries that can be attributed to any religion, whether it is true or false. However, as Christians, we cannot advocate the teachings of Jesus without advocating His teaching that He IS the only way by which one may come to God. Peace and patience aside, Jesus also taught that faith in Him alone is the only way to be spared God’s wrath at the end of the age. He also taught that He came not only to bring peace but a sword that would divide even family social structures among those who accepted Him and those who denied Him (Matt. 10:34-36). That does not allow us to use Jesus’ teaching as club to beat other faiths up with, nor does it give us the right to impose our beliefs on others; but to say that one may inherit eternal life, as taught by Jesus in the Holy Scriptures, apart from placing saving faith solely in Him is to reject the full scope of His teachings and apply them in a syncretic hodge-podge of misleading religious beliefs.

  • Anonymous

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  • SISL

    That all sounds nice and warm but the whole purpose of religion is to declare through their different dogmas, rituals or adherences to rules and regulations, that their way is the only truth. If what you mentioned was real then religions themselves would not exist because their whole reason for being is that they are all exclusive of each other. I will call your pluralistic view an oxymoron or wishfull thinking at best. Well, that is all summarized in one equation “religion = oxymoron = wishfull thinking”.

  • faithfulservant3

    Many of the things in the Holy Bible that are supposed to be taken literally, far too many evangelical Christians take symbolically; many of the things which are symbolic they swear are to be taken literally. Of the many faults I find with conservative mainstream Christian doctrine most lie in the area of the end times, the book of Revelations, and what happens to us when we die.Most Christians, if they bother to think about it at all, believe that when we die that we will “sleep” until the Second Coming of Christ and the rapture. But, what about what Jesus said to the criminal on the cross who showed faith–He said, TODAY you will be with me in paridise. What about Enoch? What about Elijah? And why did Jesus refute the Saducees about resurrection by implying that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were alive? And, what was all that business about Moses anf his body? I believe our passage to heaven is probably immediate.Most of us think what we’re told. We don’t bother to read for ourselves, and think for ourselves under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.Most of us are taught that those who don’t believe in Christ “die.” But what about the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31; see also John 5:28-29)? What about the spirit of the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 28:7-20)? And how is it that if you go to hell you “suffer” as is described so many times in the New Testament (e.g. Mark 9:43-50)? How do you suffer if you “die”?The death that is discussed is most likely a “spiritual” death–the pain and suffering caused by being out of the presence of the love of God. And is punishment in hell permanent? It could just as easily be that the pain is so great that it just SEEMS that it lasts eternally. Is there biblical support for this? Yes. Why would Jesus preach to the “prisoners” (presumably in hell or sheol) if you cannot redeem yourself even after judgment (1 Peter 3:18-20)? He wouldn’t.We are taught about the dichotomy of heaven and hell, but Scripture teaches that our Father’s Kingdom is much more dynamic than that. There are classes or levels in the afterlife (See Mathew 25:21, John 14:2). Otherwise, why would man judge the other angels in heaven (1 Corinthians 6:2-3). That’s right, the gospels say that when we die that we will be “like” the angels. If you’re unclear how the word “like” is used here see Hebrews 12:22-24. Not onvinced about the levels of heaven? Ask yourself why when preachers give sermons on Hebrews chapter 11 they usually skip the part about a “better resurrection” for those who have sacrificed the most for God (verse 35). And, what about the Old Testament phrases: the Most High Heaven, the Heaven of Heaven, and the Highest Heaven?The truth is that all will be resurrected (Psalm 22:29, John 5:28), and all will be redeemed (2 Peter 3:9–look up the original Greek if you’re not sure what “willing” means); for Jesus Christ has “abolished” death (2 Timothy 1:10). Jesus gave Himself a “ransom for ALL” (1 Timothy 2:6; see also 2 Timothy 2:11-13). Indeed, scripture tells us that EVERY tongue will confess His name and EVERY knee will bow before Him, eventually (Philippians 2:10-11).This is just the tip of the iceberg. We are instructed to focus on elections, abortion and homosexuality; when Jesus teaches love, forgiveness, peace and sacrificing oneself for the poor. We are taught to fear God’s wrath, but the New Testament brought us a new way. Just as the law of Moses was our “tutor” to get us to Christ, so to other religions are stepping stones to Christ (Acts 17:26-28). We are taught to ignore that Romans teaches us that all will be judged according to whether they fulfilled the law whether they have received it or not (Romans 2:11-16). Yes, Jesus can make even non-Christians righteous. And scripture also implies that judgment is harshest for those who know the law (Mathew 11:21-24). In other words, far from the wrath that’s usually preached, the Lord will go easy on those who never heard the Gospel.Instead of forcing the gospel down the throats of non-believers Jesus wants us to serve them, give to them, and share what our faiths and cultures have in common. It may be that the seed of love that’s planted will bear fruit in the children or grandchildren of those non-believers, according to God’s pre-ordained plan.Many have concluded that those who sincerely seek God may be saved (Hebrews 11:6). Indeed, it could be that those who are not Christians will have the opportunity to be taught about Jesus after they leave their mortal lives. Indeed, we have already been “perfected” by Jesus’ sacrifice (Hebrews 10:14), but those of us in Christ also will probably receive more instruction in His ways upon our natural deaths before we are allowed to dwell even closer to His glory. The process of sanctification, difficult as it is on earth, will likely continue.This is not “universalism,” as it is usually pejoratively dismissed by evangelicals. The suffering in the afterlife for those far away from God’s presence is real. But, these interpretations leave room for a Lord who does not exchange His grace as if it’s being bought. Resurrection is a “free gift,” but being in His presence must be earned.And I don’t even want to get into the overemphasis on the free will of man. Suffice it to say that Ephesians chapter one and Romans chapter 9, on predestination, essentially obliterate that doctrine. After all, scripture teaches that no one can come to Jesus unless and until the Father wills it (Mathew 11:27). If He’s loving, righteous and just why would he create so many simply to destroy so many of them? He wouldn’t.So, for Dobson to criticize Obama is ridiculous. We should focus on agreeing on a few simple absolutes so that we can be of one accord.It’s true that liberal Christians downplay the bible to their detriment; but conservatives want to jam it into some narrow peg. They say they know ” for sure,” but they don’t. The truth is that we don’t know all that God wants us to know, and we won’t, until we get to heaven. There’s nothing wrong with saying you’re not sure what certain scriptural passages stand for as long as you’ve studied it and prayed about it. More will be revealed.

  • MM

    Soon after the very popular “I am the way and the truth…” quote, Jesus goes on to say to the disciple Philip:”Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me, but if you do not believe me, believe because of the miraculous deeds themselves.”Jesus sees that Philip is not capable of believing just by hearing the words. But Jesus doesn’t do what Dobson and Robertson seem to do–he doesn’t say, get out of here Philip, you’re lost, you’re hopeless. On the contrary, he seems to say: look carefully at my actions, at how I am going to sacrifice my own life for yours–THAT is how to safe yourself, by giving up yourself for others. That’s the teaching, that’s the point. Other traditions do teach that teaching, as well. That is a fact.So, we can cast stones, and argue about words; or we can try the more difficult path of opening our minds, the path of being fearless and honest, the path that Christ is pointing to.

  • Beatrice Portinari

    Apparently Jesus Christ seems to disagree with your quoted profound and highly thoughtful pop icon, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” – John 14:6Same divine truth? This statement from Christ is in profound disagreement with both Isalmic and Hindu claims regarding the path to eternity. There is a huge difference between acknowledging the possibillity for error and respecting other faiths through acts of love and charity (which is a central tennant of Christianity) and placing a wheel of Faith as the central tennant of one’s religion. That wheel is ultimatly a faulty/shallow metaphor, and an insult to the rich and full nature of differing belief sytems, including where they disagree.

  • Doug

    To Marie: “See Robert McElvaine’s book Grand Theft Jesus, chapter 3, in a section titled “Some of the Best Christians I Know Are Jews and Atheists” where he says exactly that.”Thanks for the cite. I’ll look that up next time I don’t to read John Shelby Spong repeat himself again.

  • Beatrice Portinari

    Apparently Jesus Christ seems to disagree with your quoted profound and highly thoughtful pop icon, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” – John 14:6Same divine truth? This statement from Christ is in profound disagreement with both Isalmic and Hindu claims regarding the path to eternity. There is a huge difference between acknowledging the possibillity for error and respecting other faiths through acts of love and charity (which is a central tennant of Christianity) and placing a wheel of Faith as the central tennant of one’s religion. That wheel is ultimatly a faulty/shallow metaphor, and an insult to the rich and full nature of differing belief sytems, including where they disagree.

  • Robin

    Wow! Where do you get your doctrine. Certainly not from the Bible.When are we going to stop trying to create faiths that fit our lifestyles when we should be giving our lives in faith to Him.I’ll just have to add you to my prayers.

  • Beatrice Portinari

    Apparently Jesus Christ seems to disagree with your quoted profound and highly thoughtful pop icon, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” – John 14:6Same divine truth? This statement from Christ is in profound disagreement with both Isalmic and Hindu claims regarding the path to eternity. There is a huge difference between acknowledging the possibillity for error and respecting other faiths through acts of love and charity (which is a central tennant of Christianity) and placing a wheel of Faith as the central tennant of one’s religion. That wheel is ultimatly a faulty/shallow metaphor, and an insult to the rich and full nature of differing belief sytems, including where they disagree.

  • Newark

    How christian is it to wan to destroy the Vatican? The vatican doesn’t want to destroy you.

  • DoTheRightThing

    Forced worship DOES stink in God’s nostrils. But forced worship is NOT what Dr. Dobson is promoting – or do you equate a person obeying a secular law against murder to that person being forced to attend a synagogue or Christian worship service? Clear thinking will get you everywhere!!!

  • Anonymous

    Beatrice:McElvaine isn’t saying that the wheel should be the central tenet of anyone’s faith practice. What he’s saying is that there ARE various traditions with long, rich histories; but, at the same time, there can only be one reality. Each tradition represents centuries of thought on the big-picture issues that face us as human beings. They agree on certain points and disagree on others. But these are human differences on how best to explain things.So, the wheel metaphor is neither shallow nor faulty, it is merely a way of explaining, very simply, the reality of our present situation (multiple faiths, one truth of existence).

  • casual observer

    shouldn’t people be able to tell who you follow by your actions and then have their curiosity piqued by that instead of this constant rant about condemning everyone else to hell

  • Steven

    Robin says:”When are we going to stop trying to create faiths that fit our lifestyles…” I think this is a valid, reasonable question.In the same vein, I’d ask: if a “faith” is necessary and somehow considered a virtue, at what point do people actually consider how ridiculous it sounds to suggest that just any kind of belief will suffice? (ie, if you don’t believe what I believe, just believe what you will, that’s your merit, and the path to “eternal life!”)However, I’d go one step further and ask, what faith wasn’t begun by precisely this scenario: the creation of gods to model and reflect the values of a culture?

  • Hamilton

    YOu write the following:For years I’ve been wishing that theologians at major, mainstream seminaries would speak out on television–or in ways that would attract television coverage–against fundamentalist crackpots like Dobson, Robertson, and Falwell. A press conference of educated theologians from old, established seminaries–the equivalent of our first U.S. colleges–would have attracted the attention of the press. I don’t think the media “lionizes” the crackpot right; I think it televises those who grab the spotlight. Why not grab it? If mainstream, educated theologians had spoken out decades ago, we might not be in the political and social mess we are in now.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    A synopsis for Dobson’s eyes only. (you have to start someplace in deprogramming his Three B Syndrome i.e. Bred, Born and Brainwashed in orthodox Christianity)Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/ simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a mamzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). Analyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, On Faith panelists) via the NT and related documents have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus’ sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects. The 30% of the NT that is “authentic Jesus” like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus’ case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hittites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics. earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html For added “pizzazz”, Catholic/Christian theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the “pew people” to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the “filicider”. Luther, Calvin, Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley et al, founders of Christian-based religions, also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of “pretty wingie thingie” visits and “prophecies” for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immaculate conceptions).

  • Hamilton

    Angela writes to you: “It’s in a sad state as most professing Christians may not even be saved. All I can say is we truly need to pray for the Church. I’ll stick w/James Dobson and the Bible for doctrinal truth not mere “loving, tolerant, make up doctrine as I go Christians.’ “Note her use of “mere.” Yet wouldn’t the world be better off if the people who governed it were “loving and tolerant” rather than concerned with being “saved” in an afterlife? Personally, I wish that “Christians” like Angela would abandon their authoritarian, backward-gazing, rigid, intolerant attitudes in favor of the Golden Rule and the most beneficient views of Jesus of Nazareth. I wish they’d scrap the Old Testament, the harsher views of Jesus, and all the misogynist views of Paul. If they would then adopt some of the views of the Buddha, and those of the ethical humanists, the world would be a better place to live in. However, as long as people are brainwashed at an early age into a narrow set of unquestionable beliefs, and as long as they are never exposed, (via a fine system of education) to the modern debunking of ancient superstitions and shiboleths, we are going to have people like Dobson, Falwell, Robertson, and Angela–basically medieval peasants unable to read Latin and at the mercy of the loudest voice and biggest stick among them. Re: my previous post–what if theologians like you and other contributors to the Post offered to debate, on television, the leaders of the fundamentalist Right? That would win you the spotlight and be your chance to “save”–in this world–the nation.

  • Mr Mark

    Dear Brambleton -I have a question for you: if you were to die today, and were Jesus to consider you worthy to join him in heaven, would you be in heaven today, ie: June 26, 2008?Thanks for your answer.

  • Hamilton

    Angela writes to you: “It’s in a sad state as most professing Christians may not even be saved. All I can say is we truly need to pray for the Church. I’ll stick w/James Dobson and the Bible for doctrinal truth not mere “loving, tolerant, make up doctrine as I go Christians.’ “Note her use of “mere.” Yet wouldn’t the world be better off if the people who governed it were “loving and tolerant” rather than exclusively concerned with being “saved” in an afterlife? Personally, I wish that “Christians” like Angela would abandon their authoritarian, backward-gazing, rigid, intolerant attitudes in favor of the Golden Rule and the most beneficient views of Jesus of Nazareth. I wish they’d scrap the Old Testament, the harsher views of Jesus, and all the misogynist views of Paul. If they would then adopt some of the views of the Buddha, and those of the ethical humanists, the world would be a better place to live in. However, as long as people are brainwashed at an early age into a narrow set of unquestionable beliefs, and as long as they are never exposed, (via a fine system of education) to the modern debunking of ancient superstitions and shiboleths, we are going to have people like Dobson, Falwell, Robertson, and Angela–basically medieval peasants unable to read Latin and at the mercy of the loudest voice and biggest stick among them. Re: my previous post–what if theologians like you and other contributors to the Post offered to debate, on television, the leaders of the fundamentalist Right? That would win you the spotlight and be your chance to “save”–in this world–the nation.

  • Arminius

    Hamilton, you said,”Personally, I wish that “Christians” like Angela would abandon their authoritarian, backward-gazing, rigid, intolerant attitudes in favor of the Golden Rule and the most beneficient views of Jesus of Nazareth. I wish they’d scrap the Old Testament, the harsher views of Jesus, and all the misogynist views of Paul. If they would then adopt some of the views of the Buddha, and those of the ethical humanists, the world would be a better place to live in.”My reply: Well said! Angela and her ‘Christian’ buddies are determined, apparently, to establish a Taliban-like rule, based on hatred, not the love taught by Jesus. I wonder what she thinks of Ann Colter, who is on public record as advocating the forced conversion of all Muslims everywhere?The best way to teach Christianity is to live by example, loving your neighbor, not standing on the street corner spewing hatred.

  • gary

    read the red lettering in your bible bob, if you don’t believe what He said then why waste your time making up your own rules?

  • Brambleton

    Mr. Mark,Great question. One that I’m afraid most Christians miss the point on.The answer to your question is no, I would not be in Heaven. I would be in the same place as all departed Christians, in a place N.T. Wright termed “restful happiness.” A state in which I would be “held firmly within the conscious love of God and the conscious presence of Jesus Christ” until the day God’s kingdom returns to Earth.

  • Reasonable not hateful

    Mr Mark-I’ll respond to it also.IMO, since God resides outside of time(there is no time where he is, only in our dimension) from the perspective of us- when we die, we sleep, but its like instantaneous to us that we are in heaven on that day. Since there are no earthly days in that dimension, its a question that is pointless as we won’t realize it once we are there.Paul says to realize heaven and its reality, we “see through a glass darkly”. It is what I have been saying to you all along- you can’t know everything, and not all truth can be proven as fact. This is why God gives us faith.

  • Wilson

    My favorite image of the relationship of various religions to the Ultimate Truth is a wagon wheel with the Truth as the hub at the center and the different religions as the spokes on the wheel, each looking towards the same Divine Truth, but approaching it from different directions.This is not an accurate analogy for sharing truth. If it is truth then all these religions can not be pointing to the same truth, because they all have different standards for which to judge the truth. Jesus said I am the way the truth and the life no man comes to the Father but by me. No other religion can or will agree with.Christians point to JesusThese spokes are going in all kinds of directions.

  • bill

    Dr. McElvaine:

  • Richard

    God is NOT a pluralist. Psalm 96: Christians call ‘the nations’ to worship the ONE true God, instead of the idols/false gods of other faiths. Scripture is clear on that, and in fact it is a WORRY to hear that so many self-professed Christians don’t understand it.

  • Anonymous

    Turks are Crypto Jews. They believe the only way to heaven is by worshiping their father: Mustafa Kemal. The Ataturk was a crypto jew, a descendant of Shabbati Zvi of Salonica.

  • Anonymous

    Well!!! Now I have had my thinking corrected. For all too many years I have faithfully believed Jesus’ words but Sly Stone certainly trumps Christ

  • spiderman2

    Robert S. McElvaine is absolutely “correct”. But don’t forget to see his WHEEL. It’s not circular. IT’S SQUARE. If you try to run his wheel, it will break into small pieces. That is where this world is going to if this person and his kind continue to preach their twisted kind of “christianity”.

  • GeorgiaSon

    “We can hope they will convince the media to stop lionizing such people as Pat Robertson, James Dobson, and the late Jerry Falwell as representatives of American Christianity.”This statement is every bit as important–maybe even more so–that McElvaine’s main thesis. The fact that Dobson is getting major media play has nothing to do with any objective reality of who he is, what he represents, or the strength of his followers. James Dobson is on TV solely because the media decision-makers have decided he should be there. He is to spokesman for Christians what Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are to spokesmen for African Americans. All three are nothing but charlatans who appoint themselves spokesmen and then are taken seriously by a blind and self-serving media looking for sound bites.To put it more concisely, James Dobson is to Christianity what Paris Hilton is to the entertainment industry. Famous for being famous.

  • Fred

    Sorry, Mr. McElvaine, but you’ve got some other religion in mind if you think you can be a Christian and not teach that Jesus is the only way to heaven. Don’t use the word “Christian” if you are not following Christ. Maybe you can call your religion frisbeetarianism like the late Geroge Carlin, but don’t go around talking as if you know Christ if you don’t.

  • Christian

    For those who believe there are multiple ways to heaven but claim to be Christians, I ask this question. Do you beleve Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose again? And if so, why did He do this if there were other ways to save you?

  • Griffin

    ** Right Guilty of “Grand Theft Jesus” ** – 6/26/08Thanks for waiting until 2008, when the power of those ‘Jesus Thieves’ is waning to point that out. It was probably to much to ask for ‘most Christians’ to stand up and say “You don’t speak for me” back in 2000 and 2004 when our Constitution was being assaulted. I’m so glad you have the courage to stand up for your beliefs when it seems ‘safe’ but were ready to go along with people who would pervert *your* religion for political gains back when it would have been dangerous or difficult to do so.Christians talk a big game about being better than everybody else, but in the end the ‘better’ Christians are exactly like everybody else and the ‘bad’ Christians are so much worse.

  • Dwight

    ” Such empathy and “connection” to immigrants from the subcontinent is only one part of Obama’s plural multi-ethnic background and wide-ranging eclectic education (American, African, even part-Asian) that makes him arguably the most unusual and exciting presidential candidate in US history — more universalist than American. In his first book, Dreams from My Father, written nearly a decade ago even before he came to Washington DC as a senator, Obama recalls the wanderlust of his mother (a white woman from Kansas who married a Kenyan exchange student) that took her to marketplaces as far apart as Marrakesh and New Delhi. He recounts his own experiences in Kenya and Indonesia, home of his biological father and stepfather respectively, including the turbulent politics of these boiling Third World countries he saw during his visits. His worldview even in those days was imbued with travels and exposures to such Third World hotspots, a clear departure from the more Atlanticist upbringing of his white contemporaries. To this day, he carries on his person, among other things, a small metal figure of Hanuman, having become familiar with the Ramayana during his days in Indonesia.”since when does a christian worship the monkey GOD…the source for this was the times of india…

  • Brambleton

    Joe,In response to your Gandhi/slave owner comments, it doesn’t matter what a person says or does. It is completely what is in their heart that counts. A slave owner can tell me he’s a Christian until he’s blue in the face, but it is God alone who knows what’s in his heart. He is the ultimate decision maker.Saying you’re a Christian, when in your heart you have not given your life to Christ, is meaningless.

  • Allen

    This is a refreshing column to read.It restores my faith that a kind of common sense is to be found among a fair number of Christians. And that most don’t actually accept the notion that there is only one bundle of teachings (which are really a bundle of human attitudes, opinions and interpretations) that is correct.I’m not a Christian but have read the Bible and I’ve concluded that with an open mind anyone can profit from its study.To me, the words and tales in the Bible reflect the highest and lowest states of human consciousness. Every human carries the capacity for all the behaviors found in the book (though we may at this moment not all be acting on all of these capacities). And the spectrum of behavior found on the planet reflects the fact.Everyone of us has the capacity to live its highest teachings (live honorably and ethically, to love, to be kind, friendly and respectful, to show acceptance, patience, tolerance and forgiveness…) and the capacity to be anything from jealous, petty, selfish, greedy, unreasonable and disagreeable to a controlling tyrant in some form; to steal, enslave, pre-judge, inflict cruelty, pain and even murder or wage war supposedly in God’s name.All of these topics and examples of human behavior are there. It seems each of us is invited to discern with reason and intuition which teachings resonate as most meaningful and helpful for us at the moment, at this place we’re at on our own spiritual journey.And for those that need faith in the love, justice and mercy of a God or higher authority (and I believe we all do at some point), you of course can find inspiration for that too.This is a day I think to celebrate that there is more tolerance and acceptance than some of us might have thought among people of different faiths and beliefs, and that’s a great thing.

  • Joel Vaughan

    Mr. McElvaine presents an admirable attempt to build bridges and foster mutual understanding between faiths – but only to a point. Any professed Christian (by definition one who believes that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and confesses Him as their personal Lord and Savior) also must believe Jesus’ teachings, a centerpiece of which is John 14:6: I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father (God) except by Me.”

  • faithfulservant3

    I find it troubling when some people begin to preach on the book of Revelations. Symbolically speaking, the text clearly describes the future victory in the universe of good over evil. God’s total reconciliation with the world–a resolution, if you will. There can be no doubt, based on this and other Holy Scripture, that the Lord Jesus Christ will return and rule here.The problem I have is with those of faith who insist that Revelations provides a chronological schedule or set of milestones regarding the exact nature of these events and their timing. Clearly much of what is described will happen, however between the initial letters to the churches and the final description of the city of New Jerusalem much is symbolism.Even if you disagree with this characterization these biblical facts are incontrovertible. In Genesis, when Joseph dreams about the sheaves bowing to him the average reader would have no idea what these dreams meant absent the text illuminating them. Likewise, with the subsequent interpretation of Pharoah’s dreams. In similar fashion, when Daniel interprets Nebudchadnezer’s dreams it’s the text itself that describes their meaning–not a theologian or a pastor.The New Testament is the same. Except where Jesus describes the exact meaning of the parables (such as The Sower) the reader is at a loss to know the the complete import of His words. Not only the modern reader, but the disciples themselves. Indeed, Jesus explains that the average person is not meant to know the complete revelation. The NT quotes the OT and informs us that it’s God who has kept us blind, deaf and with uncaring hearts for what purpose we cannot fully know (Isiah 6:9). The later indwelling of the Holy Spirit does NOT fully alter this dynamic.As we see, when Peter in the book of Acts has his dream that leads him to acknowledge the faith of the Gentiles and their receipt of the Holy Spirit (chapter 10) the average reader would have no clue what this weird vision portends but for the text telling us.So how is it that without any interpretaion from Scripture by the Apostles so many people take the bulk of the book of Revelations as literal on its face?Were the theologians and Middle Age leaders of the church who designed mainstream Christian thought as Holy and pure as those who, inpired by the Spirit, first set down the Holy Bible? In some cases, this is doubtful.

  • spiderman2

    Dr. RP wrote “You claim that the earth could shrink and grow “Grow but not shrink. Fate wrote “But please tell me where man has been able to turn energy into matter”It can be demonstrated in particle accelerators.Fate wrote “Is the sun’s energy being turned into rock?”I told you , creation is a very complex matter. We have lots of things to learn and yet we see evolutionist scientists speak as if they saw creation right before their eyes. The point is we don’t judge the Bible as erroneous if we ourselves don’t exactly know how it happened or how it’s happening.

  • FRIEND

    If god is not a plurist, and the definition of god is the cause that we are here, why are there so many different types of people in the world?I think ordinary people, which is everyone, I suppose, want to feel extraordinary, to have keen insight to their destiny, to feel that they are special, and in doing so become elitist.I do suffer from this. I hope not so much. My pride of the good things I have done trample over my shortcomings to say, “Look at how great I am, how extraordinary I am”.But the lie is to myself.Do to others, as you would want them to do to you.I have my beliefs, and I respect yours.

  • thishowiseeit

    The findings of the survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life to me indicate that more people recently have carefully read the books of Robert McNair Price, such as: Deconstructing Jesus

  • E Favorite

    I am always happy to hear from broadminded Christians who have a bully pulpit. What specifically concerns me are supposedly broadminded Christians, Chris Hedges in particular, who express deep concerns about both fundamentalist Christians and a group he calls “fundamentalist atheists” as being hugely dangerous to society because they want to control it. – (See his recent books “American Fascists – the Christian Right and the War on America” and “I Don’t Believe in Atheists.” According to Hedges, fundamentalist Christians want everyone to live in a Christian theocracy and “fundamentalist” (which he sees as a strong and dangerous group) atheists want a godless “utopia.” Problem is, I’ve read all the same new atheist books that Hedges has and see no mention of this, nor have I heard anything even approaching this from any of the atheists I’m acquainted with or atheist/humanist organizations I’m associated with. In other words, Hedges is presenting a completely misleading point of view – presenting it as a threat as real as the Christian fundamentalists we see all around us and engendering a false fear of atheists. For what? To make liberal Christianity look like the only sensible alternative? I don’t know, but I can’t think of any other reason (besides selling books). He writes both these books in the same sensationalist style – i.e., Beware these dangerous extremists intent on controlling your lives and ruining American democracy. Mr. McElvaine – Do you have any influence on people like Hedges? If so, please consider contacting him and tell him that he is not helping the cause of liberal Christianity to paint atheists with the same brush as fundamentalist Christians.

  • FRIEND

    Hi E Favorite, I would say that the thing that bothered me about the new books on athiesm that have come out, and correct me if I’m wrong about what is being said, because I haven’t read them but have read long excerpts and have had endless discussions about them with my friends who define themselves as athiests, but I have read Carl Sagan’s “The Deamon-Haunted World” which I think is similar and I love, is that they are calling moderate Christians as child abusers and enabling the more fundemental uncomprimising Christians to exist. Also, even on this forum, the immediate calls of ignorance to moderate religious people.I think the extreme language such as this is elitist and wrong, and is similar to the people telling us we are going to hell.

  • Paganplace

    Well, Friend:”is that they are calling moderate Christians as child abusers and enabling the more fundemental uncomprimising Christians to exist. “Well, you know, not an atheist personally, but I think it *is* abusive, …the Biblical story, in fact, is the very model of an abusive situation. It’s just so widespread that it’s considered normality to teach kids they might be arbitrarily judged on their obedience to things and people which say they are essentially bad, …lest they suffer eternally..If anyone *else* wanted to teach a similar narrative about the world in public schools, while trying to confuse their science education so they can say that narrative is literally real, the PTA would personally *string them up.* Not that you guys don’t have your good qualities, or anything, but I wouldn’t want my kids raised to believe that, especially against their will, and that doesn’t mean anyone’s looking to ban Christianity. “I think the extreme language such as this is elitist and wrong, and is similar to the people telling us we are going to hell.”Tell you one thing, when it comes to *my* kids, I’d take all the ‘elite’ I could get. You’d think after what the ‘faith-based’ vote has given us the past eight years, we’d be *ready* for a little ‘elite.’ Only thing elite about Bush is his daddy’s bank account.

  • E Favorite

    Hi, Friend – you are somewhat misinformed. The words that follow are cut and pasted from the response I recently made to this same issue in another “on faith” thread. >> In his book “The God Delusion, ” Richard Dawkins discusses religious INDOCTRINATION as a form of child abuse – that is, being forced to learn only one religion and being forced to believe in it. Dawkins actually espouses religious EDUCATION for children – meaning learning ABOUT various religions in an objective way, just as you would learn history or any other school subject. For a full treatment of his views on this, I urge you to read Chapter 9 “Childhood, Abuse and the Escape from Religion” pages 309 – 344. You could leaf through it at a book store. It’s in or near the religion section. It’s now in paperback and I think it has a silver cover – just like the hardback.I believe it was Sam Harris who calls liberal/moderate Christians enablers, because they do not stand up enough for the reason-based view of the world that most of them have. I agree with this. So, apparently does Chris Hedges. In the first chapter of “American Fascists,” he does not hesitate to present the academic and moderate Christian understanding of the bible as written by humans, not the word of God, incorrect on many issues of simple science, primitive in terms of human relations and misinterpreted to frighten people into an end-times mentality. On page 6 he says, “And the steady refusal by churches to challenge the canonical authority of these passages means these churches share some of the blame. He then quotes theologian Richard Fenn: “Unless the churches, protestant and catholic alike, come together on this, they will continue to make it legitimate to believe in the end as a time when there will be no non-Christians or infidels. Silent complicity with apocalyptic rhetoric soon becomes collusion with plans for religiously inspired genocide.”Then in his next book, he demonizes New Atheists. Go figure.

  • FRIEND

    Thank you, E Favorite and Paganplace.Then, if an athiest parent doesn’t educate their children on other belief systems, that would be child abuse. I am now very interested in reading that chapter in Dawkins book.By elite, I mean saying that you are better than another who thinks differently. I’ve read your entries before, Paganplace, and I know you don’t think that way, at least I don’t think you do.

  • E Favorite

    Friend, Your welcome. You say, “Then, if an atheist parent doesn’t educate their children on other belief systems, that would be child abuse.”No, I think that would be more like child neglect (exaggerating some) – that is, choosing not to provide a full education – like not teaching kids about sex, perhaps. And, just to clarify, it’s not about “other” belief systems, because atheism is not a belief system – it’s a lack of belief in supernatural beings and events. I’d say it depends – not better, per se, but using my faculties more effectively – e.g. determining that astronomy provides better information about the stars than astrology. or determining that based on the evidence, evolution is much better than Intelligent Design.

  • E Favorite

    Hey PaganPlace – Great minds think alike!

  • FRIEND

    So it’s not child abuse for a family not to provide a child information on different belief systems, but neglect. And maybe because of ignorance. What about a family that is wise and not intelligent? This family only has limited interest in science, in their world view, religion, pseudo-science, and science are mixed. Yet, they lead a calm, happy, nuturing, centered, content life, providing for self, family, community, country, and world, being tolerant of others not only personally, but politically. They follow a philosophy of life that uses symbolic images and narritives metaphorical of the human and cultural possibilities to explain not the physical functioning of the world, but adise on how to live a good life in this world.Would it be child abuse or neglect not offer this philosophy to an athiest child?

  • N Dennis

    “Christian evangelism should seek to spread the teachings of Jesus, which are universal in their lessons of love and patience, rather than the stories and rituals particular to Christianity.”That’s funny, I read that Jesus told his disciples, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). He did not merely point out a road to God. He himself claimed to be the only road to the Father and the source of eternal truth and life.

  • Paganplace

    “So it’s not child abuse for a family not to provide a child information on different belief systems, but neglect. “Child neglect is a serious matter, please don’t trivialize it, folks, …we’re talking about it being a big gap in education to not teach about other worldviews a kid might have to live among, but ‘neglect’ is a strong term.Now, as far as people having their beliefs, that’s one thing, but that doesn’t make their beliefs science or a substitute for it in the educational system. (Frankly, you might be talking about a lot of Pagans, there, in your depiction, but a lot of Christians feel it’s perfectly justifiable to call it ‘child abuse’ *not* to indoctrinate them with fears of hells and demons and a passive helplessness in the face of the universe. Still, we don’t mix our drinks about calling myth and story a ‘rival science,’ in that literalistic way. )’Intelligent Design’ and Christian dogma simply are *not* science, and it’s deceitful to present it as such. Diversity education is one thing, indoctrination with one worldview is something else entirely. Even if you phrase it as ‘offering’ something.

  • FRIEND

    Most moderate Christians don’t believe what you describe. They don’t believe that everyone gets throw in hell who doesn’t believe like they do, I was just reading about some national poll done on this. Most may not know the finer points of the philosopy of science, but they have varying degrees of knowledge of science. Certainly, there are evangelical christians in the technical field I work in that are highly respected for their knowledge. And one I know would tell you, “You have to find your own way”.There have been things I’ve read in this forum like the following.Someone will say, it is written that you need to have this knowledge and accept this knowledge to live a life in heaven and if you don’t have it, well, you’re fried in agony … or something like that. And then I read something written which says if you follow religion, then you are ignorant and believe in fairies that fly in the forest, whatever it is, it’s ridiculus, you’re really dumb. Why believe or follow something that is not true?The word elitist is wrong, yes, but I think those opinions are similar in that the adherents believe they have the best, right world view where they damn and ridicule non-believers.

  • Paganplace

    Well, there’s a lot of factors that play into this sort of issue, not all of which really actually bear on what’s good or OK for kids to learn. The people pushing their beliefs don’t tend to be the ‘live and let live’ types, for instance. I *don’t* think, obviously, that spirituality and science are inherently in conflict, mind you, or at least they don’t *have* to be, if religion doesn’t try and put itself in that position. Science and not happening to believe in a God are not a ‘rival religion,’ as some monotheists try and portray things… that false equivalency doesn’t serve kids’ education, or civility, either.

  • E Favorite

    Friend – Atheist author Richard Dawkins (and I) would say there’s no such thing as an atheist child – or a Christian child. They are children of atheist or Christian parents. He points out that we don’t call a child Democrat or Republican even if they’re strongly influenced by their parents’ political beliefs – because those terms are reserved for people who have gained enough maturity to know their feelings and views. He feels the same should go for religion.I was raised in a very loose (liberal?) Catholic family. We really didn’t talk about religion at home. But at Sunday school, I was indoctrinated into the catholic faith. We learned that protestants were not as good as we were and that it was a mortal sin to go into a protestant church. We were taught that the priest turned a piece of bread into the body and blood of Jesus and that if we put it in our pocket instead of swallowing it, blood would run down our legs. We were taught a lot of other things that are simple indoctrination and simply not true. I don’t think that’s healthy for any child. It didn’t “take” much on me, perhaps because my parents didn’t reinforce it at home.As an adult, I believed vaguely in the supernatural for a long time while leading a rich intellectual life. I haven’t gotten any smarter now that I’m an atheist. I am more knowledgeable though. It may seem insulting to have God or a resurrected/ascended Jesus put on a par with fairies, but when you think about it, they have one very basic attribute in common that makes them stand apart from any other beings – they’re invisible. I think it’s worth thinking about in the 21st century that we ascribe great value to certain invisible beings, while dismissing all other invisible beings as silly (fairies) or outmoded (Thor and Zeus). I think it’s worth discussing openly even if sometimes it comes across as disrespectful.

  • E Favorite

    Friend: “They follow a philosophy of life that uses symbolic images and narritives metaphorical of the human and cultural possibilities to explain not the physical functioning of the world, but adise on how to live a good life in this world.”Mostly, that sounds fine – Philosophy, symbols, metaphors, etc.I want more details, though. Does this philosophy require its adherents to believe that invisible supernatural beings actually exist? If so why? How does this enhance living a good life? Couldn’t the same philosophy exist without the supernatural beings. What do they add?

  • E Favorite

    Paganplace – I’m aware your gods aren’t “Tinkerbell” – that they’re internal and personal. I’m aware of that, in part, because of what you’ve told me about paganism.The fairies I was referring to – and I think Friend too – are of the Tinkerbell type. They’re the fairies in children’s stories that children stop believing in when they grow up.I’ve never heard pagans referring to their gods as fairies. Do they?

  • Steven

    I watched a “TED Talks” video of Michael Shermer yesterday, where he described that the average IQ of people in general is increasing by about 3 percentage points each 10 years.I wonder then, when I look at You-Tube videos of sermons or televised segments of the Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and James Dobson programs (and I’d add Tammy and Jim Bakker,) if we’ve simply outgrown their usefulness (even in the Christian world) and are growing out of that level of understanding–that worldview going the way of platform shoes and bell-bottomed pants and disco music. Of course we now have the Rick Warrens and the Crystal Cathedral feel-good inspirational you-can-do-it-too-in-the-name-of-Jesus speakers. (I do confess I admire Warren’s philanthropy.)I wonder if we more collectively see the older televangelists, particularly in light of the last 8 GWB years, as divisive, unyieldingly naive, and potentially harmful in regard to the simple fact that we are more and more citizens of the world, and not just citizens of our churches and towns and states and immediate surroundings. I wonder if we’re learning that our actions and beliefs have re-percussions across the globe, and it’s not always, anymore, just about “us.”Maybe it’s an irony, but it seems to me that the Robertson/Dobson/Falwell types, the view blocked by the trees of the forest, come across as being very self-centered and self-righteous, despite the message of “love” they would have me hear. I’m more inspired by the plans and interviews of Bill Gates and his and Melinda Gates’ foundational goals.Of the three, I’m ashamed to admit that I really have begun to loath Robertson, that failed “predictor” of gloom and doom and terrorism, that prophet of fear–all the while pocketing millions from his flock.Nothing new here, I just agree with Mr. McElvaine in many ways.

  • Lou Williams

    In naming those who pose as spokesMEN (note that there are rarely women recognized in this stance) for American Christians, please don’t forget John Hagee, whom even Sen. McCain so hastily “unhanded” after Hagee’s endorsement of McCain followed by the publicizing of some of Hagee’s most vitriolic teachings against Catholics and Jews. While spewing forth this encouragement for Christians to hate these and others whose view differs from his, he has led the movement for our government and private donors to give millions of dollars to Israel in order to support full-scale war with Palestinians and other Islamists and fulfill his shallow understanding of conditions necessary for the second coming of Jesus Christ.

  • Fred

    So, I see a lot of you like to read Richard Dawkins. Now there’s a true scientist, right? Full of logic and reason and all that? Guess where Dawkins thinks life originated from?ALIENS!And you think he’s more scientific than the Bible?

  • Christian

    Hey, just to let you know. Christianity isn’t something that can be passed on to children. It’s a personal faith in Jesus Christ.I was “indoctrinated” in anti-biblical teachings in public school and have parents who are still non-Christians, yet as a teen I chose Christ.

  • Christian

    Friend, you wrote that a Christian friend of yours whom you greatly admire once said each person has to “find his own way,” that there is not just one way to heaven.That’s unfortunate. That’s like having a building on fire with only one safe path out of the building and you just let someone “find his own way” out of the building rather than showing him the one safe way out. You think that’s kinder than leading him to safety?That’s what Christianity is all about. It’s not hateful, it’s not elitest, it’s caring enough for others to show them the one safe way out of this world. So why many of you become agitated about the Christian message, I don’t understand. If you choose to “find your own way,” fine, but remember that the Christian is only trying to show you love. You can reject that love, just as you can reject Christ. That’s your free choice.

  • E Favorite

    Christian – Would you describe some of the anti-Christian indoctrination you received in public school?Regarding the burning building – another possibility is that the person urging someone to take that one exit is sincerely trying to be helpful, but simply doesn’t see the other exits that the person on the inside sees.

  • FRIEND

    Jesus is one of my great hero’s and no agitation here. I accept all love.My friend at work was talking about Jesus, and I was saying my interpretation is different than his. I thought his response was ‘right on’. What a compassionate, knowledgable person I think. Both he and I have to make our own decisions, without saying the other is just not understanding how lead to better life or the ‘right’ life.I could say the same thing to you, to him, to everyone who doesn’t believe exactly like me, “You’re just not getting it”, I could say. That’s rude and I personally am embarrassed when I behave like that.I used the word elite wrong, and I take back calling some Christians and some athiest elite.

  • christian

    E-Favorite,You asked what anti-Christian indoctrination I received in public school.In science and biology classes, I was taught that we are products of evolution. We were not taught that there was any possiblity other than evolution. In fact, kids who brought up God in class were ridiculed.In literature class I was taught that the Bible is merely a book of myths.Of course, God is all powerful and despite what I was taught, I did become a Christian.

  • Paganplace

    “You asked what anti-Christian indoctrination I received in public school.”In science and biology classes, I was taught that we are products of evolution. We were not taught that there was any possiblity other than evolution. In fact, kids who brought up God in class were ridiculed.”It’s not ‘Anti-Christian indoctrination to *not* indoctrinate people in Christianity. In science and biology class, especially. Whatever you think of your Bible, it’s simply not correct on either of these things.

  • E Favorite

    Paganplace – it came across – thanks. It’s complex, though, too, so I might have further questions.Christian – Sounds like your teachers were just keeping religion out of biology class. Mine did the same. Religion never came up. Neither did a lot of other subjects, unrelated to biology.Now that literature class you took that taught the Bible as myth – was that in High school?? Pretty progressive, if so. I’m surprised a public school would touch something like that. It sounds more like a college course. I know a college literature prof – a church goer, who says the bible is written like myth that she teaches.

  • Anonymous

    There ARE anti-theists who believe everyone should give up their religious belief, because they have. They deny in principle the right of other persons to derive their meaning in life from religion. There are several examples of such anti-theists posting on this forum. One has only to take sufficient time to read the discussions. The numbers have reduced drastically since the forum began. So earlier discussions are more revealing of such anti-theism.

  • E Favorite

    Another ominous anonymous announcement.Somewhat muddled too:Beware – the anti-theists’ obviously evil intentions.Be of great cheer – their numbers are dwindling.

  • Gerry

    Nobody has ever come up with a definition of who or where is “God” except for human projections on a non-entity. Still, they are fighting and killing each other over how exactly to fervently “seek” him, or “miss” him and therefore be awarded with heaven or be punished with hell etc. Incredible nonsense Angela and spiderman et alii are coughing up.Judging from the fight over different methods spread around here on how to find or ignore an INDESCRIBABLE entity, with people brandishing all sorts of despicable human traits like portentousness, hatred, scorn, threat – one is inclined to stay an atheist if only to not get one’s hands all dirty with such “holy” mud (Dobson etc.). If I see that white is white, I am a hell-bound atheist, but if I “believe” white is black, I go to heaven. Perverted perception pure.God is a proxy concept of all the things we don’t know, which is a lot, therefore God is so great.

  • Paganplace

    “Ye, in FACT, are mostly “Not-Straights” (Vile 1/2 Humans)”That’s what the Nazis said, JJ, when they herded us into death camps, hoping to ‘destroy us all.’ Interesting to see you’ve gone there, given your own origins. I’m certainly not ashamed to *not believe what you say about humanity.*

  • BGone

    It would appear that 57%, a slight majority of “Americans of faith” are unsure of their faith. The other 43% are sure their faith is the only way to heaven. The other statistic of interest is how many believe faith is absolutely necessary to get to heaven, believe those with no faith in what they faith are headed somewhere else.They’re so busy worrying about getting to heaven through faith they’re overlooking the most obvious, what their faith is in. How many of the 100% are aware the Bible is a proved hoax? How many have actually read Exodus themselves and concluded that IT was really God in the burning bush? How many have asked the obvious question – why did God with the power to create need help from Moses and trickery so Moses would be successful to get what God wanted, “His chosen people” out of Egypt?Religion is the oldest con game. It requires faith by victims who never ask or demand an answer to the most obvious of questions. Faith is the necessary ingredient of the con. The victim states faith in one thing while actually exercising faith in another. 57% is a very large number of the disillusioned. What will they do when they finally realize all that faith they claim to have in God is actually in their minister’s interpretation of a hoax?The Bible is not a hoax? Then it must be the word of Devil for God gets everything God wants with no help whatsoever from people by simply willing it. Surely that would include spreading God’s word. Good idea to not mention that when among Muslims else you’ll become one of those God no longer wants to live but is powerless to kill you without help from His faithful. They like Moses are Johnny on the spot helping God get what God wants. Must not be God if IT needs help from people of faith in IT to get what IT wants? If IT is not God then IT must be________?Remember the Alamo. Remember the Main. Remember Pearl Harbor. Remember 9-11-2001. Remember the burning bush.

  • Christian

    Paganplace, you wrote:It’s not ‘Anti-Christian indoctrination to *not* indoctrinate people in Christianity. In science and biology class, especially. But what you’re not considering is that if a teacher tells you that the Bible is a book of myths, it is indeed “anti-Christian” because according to Christian doctrine, the Bible is the word of God.As for saying the Bible is “wrong” on both accounts — science and biology — who says? Do you have proof for that statement?Finally, please realize that by eliminating anything of Christian teaching from the schools and replacing it with humanistic teaching, the schools are still indoctrinating children.

  • Christian

    Paganplace,You say the libraries are full of proof that the Bible is wrong on science?Hmm. Interesting. I didn’t know anyone disproved God.Have you also found the missing link and solved the question of where life originated from?

  • Christian

    Oh, and by the way, Paganplace, since I have my dictionary handy I thought I’d look up the meaning of the word “myth” and here’s what I found.myth – any fictitious story, or unscientific account, theory, belief, etc. Any imaginary person or thing spoken of as though existing.Not a dirty word, but it definitely is “anti-Christian” to call the Bible a myth.

  • Paganplace

    “myth – any fictitious story, or unscientific account, theory, belief, etc. Any imaginary person or thing spoken of as though existing.”Not a dirty word, but it definitely is “anti-Christian” to call the Bible a myth.”No, it’s not. Maybe in certain kinds of Christian belief it is, but the Bible is not a scientific account. It’s not even internally-consistent.

  • Anonymous

    Christian:Sorry for eves dropping but you wrote, “Finally, please realize that by eliminating anything of Christian teaching from the schools and replacing it with humanistic teaching, the schools are still indoctrinating children.”Do you mean that teaching the children math, 2+2=4 for example is indoctrinating them like teaching them the “Little Red Riding Hood” is factual history?How about teaching the children how babies get started? Is that indoctrination like teaching them there was a woman who had a baby without sex? While they’re still too young to know what a virgin is?Isn’t indoctrination about teaching doctrine, installing presumed facts in the minds of the doctored? Is the teaching of math, biology, chemistry, physics to name a few things taught really indoctrinating the children? If it is then those things must be doctrines.All science is taught with the warning, “this could be wrong. It’s up to you to verify it’s so in the laboratory.” Is any religion taught that way? Does any preacher say he could be wrong, warn his flock the Bible might not be real history or the word of God? Any preacher ever raise a question about the being in the burning bush really being God or wonder why God didn’t just will the his chosen people to the promised land?

  • Paganplace

    “All science is taught with the warning, “this could be wrong. It’s up to you to verify it’s so in the laboratory.” Is any religion taught that way?”*laugh.* *sheepishly waving hand.* Actually, a lot of Wicca is, albeit not with the words ‘Wrong’ and ‘Laboratory’ involved, that wouldn’t be appropriate. 🙂

  • E Favorite

    Christian says, “The Bible, however, tells us that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. It then goes on to give us a genealogical history of man from the beginning up to Jesus Christ.”The thing is, Christian, the Bible isn’t a science book, it’s a religion book. The bible makes statements about how the world was created and about all sorts of things without providing any evidence. That’s how stories are written, but that’s not how science is done. Plus there are many creation stories, so if there were a course on world religions taught in public schools, i.e. – not indoctrination, but education, it would include various creation stories. Most religions have them.

  • Paganplace

    “Are Ye Equating that Ye lost Ye HOMO-SEXUAL Realtives in Germany too? (non-Straights, aka 1/2 Humans folks)?”No, JJ, I was saying that by calling homosexuals half-human, what you say here sounds like those very Nazis that did your grandparent in. In fact, you’ve been sounding more and more Nazi, yourself, lately, just less coherent.

  • E Favorite

    To me, this “please pagans” screed is 100 times worse than supposed Christians gleefully telling atheists that we’re going to hell, because this condemning and insulting people here in the real world. This is hate speech.I’ve reported it and hope others will too.

  • Paganplace

    Oh, he passed the ‘Hate Speech’ line a long time ago, Efave, particularly with the ‘We will destroy you all’ rants. But, maybe he helps show up just how *ugly* some of the things said in more polite/defensive phrasings really are. Sad, really. Maybe he should go to an ‘On Psychosis’ blog.

  • Anonymous

    I was there along with 11 other reliable witnesses when God said, “let there be light.”When Joseph Smith had his chitchat with the angle mormoni we were there too. Absolutely so.I’m happy to see pagans do the laboratory. Now if we could only get christian scientists on board. Send a monster out to do the work of an evil christian scientist and get a monster of a job done. Explains all.Paganplace, what are you doing blogging? You’re missing the big celebration and parade in San Francisco. That’s out there in Coulifornia in case you don’t know the whereabouts of San Francisco. I hear the ones that aren’t bald wear flowers in their hair.JJ is probably a closet homosexual and a ministers to boot. He just hates herself for being what they are.

  • Gerry

    Humans claim God exists.I claim I exist and I can prove it. Why hasn’t God ever proved that he exists (if he exists) except through HUMAN claims? Has anyone ever heard of any consequence an atheist has experienced for believing there is no such thing as a god except by HUMAN atrocities? (Skipping Hagee’s and other nitwits’s Katrina idiocy etc.)If God existed, he would do something about the atheists’ notion that he doesn’t. And I am not talking about polls, lol!

  • Ibrahim Mahfouz

    McElvaine says:There maybe some singularists in Christianity but in Islam “singularity” is a core tenant. This is from where absolutism and fanaticism emanates.

  • E Favorite

    Gerry: “If God existed, he would do something about the atheists’ notion that he doesn’t.”Not necessarily, and certainly not because atheists demand a sign. Believers like signs from God, but don’t require them. Faith sees them though. At any rate, who are you to know the mind of God? I’ve heard he works in mysterious ways.Paganplace – I usually skip over JJ’s posts – I couldn’t miss his “Please pagans” moniker, though, so I read on. Won’t do it again!

  • Paganplace

    “Note: The International Non-Straight Movement hath ‘Hijacked” the Straight Mon’s Word ‘GAY” for Non-Straight Activities! “Actually, JJ, the word’s one of those that people like you used as a *slur* against *people,* that got adopted as a badge of pride, like ‘Queer’ and the like. Like the pink or black triangle, that’s what they put on you instead of a yellow Star of David in the concentration camps. (People. Remember, those you said yesterday the Nazis were ‘right to kill for being subhuman?’ )

  • Gerry

    E. FAVORITE, you are right, faith sees signs. As a matter of fact, faith can see everything as a sign. But it is not God’s faith, it is, again, the faith of humans.”God works in mysterious ways”. With this joker in mind, there is nothing that can NOT be ascribed to god, including 2+2=5! (lol!) The notion of “impossible” has ceased to exist!(Entre nous: I don’t demand a sign!)As to JJ: It amuses me how he adds a “th” to every other word far from any old English grammatical reason to maketh it soundeth a little holier, poor guy. God musteth have sneezedeth when he createdeth him…

  • Paganplace

    Heh, Gerry. Not that we *Pagans* aren’t fond of an archaism now and again, but he ought to at least learn the old grammar. 🙂