Beliefs Culture

ANALYSIS: Fred Phelps’ hateful legacy may be the opposite of all he intended

Shirley Phelps-Roper and other members of the Westboro Baptist Church picket in front of the Mizzou Athletic Training Complex on Saturday, February 15, 2014. The church protested after football player Michael Sam, an All-American defensive lineman for the University of Missouri and the Associated Press' SEC Defensive Player of the Year, announced that he was gay. Sam could possibly become the first openly gay player in the history of the NFL. Photo by Shane Epping
Fred Phelps, the 84-year-old founder of Westboro Baptist Church and media-master of hate speech campaigns, died Thursday (March 20) after devoting decades to damning Americans for tolerating homosexuality.

Photo courtesy of Rudolf 1922 via Wikimedia Commons

Fred Phelps, the 84-year-old founder of Westboro Baptist Church and media-master of hate speech campaigns, died Thursday (March 20) after devoting decades to damning Americans for tolerating homosexuality.

WASHINGTON (RNS) Fred Phelps, the 84-year-old founder of Westboro Baptist Church and media-master of hate speech campaigns, died near midnight Wednesday (March 19) after devoting decades to damning Americans for tolerating homosexuality.

“God Hates Fags” was the Westboro philosophy, detailed in vile slogans on signs that a tiny band of relatives toted to 40 sites a week around the country. All told, the church in Topeka, Kan., claims to have staged some 53,000 protests.

Whenever there was a newsworthy death — be it Matthew Shepard, the gay teen murdered in 1998, or a soldier killed in action, a movie star, or an innocent child victim in a mass murder — Westboro would add it to the church’s picketing calendar.

But by the time of his death, Phelps had lived long enough to see American public opinion soar in exactly the opposite direction — in favor of gay rights, including marriage.

The message he spread across the country never took root, and in fact helped galvanize the gay rights movement and put other Christians on the defensive. The image of Christianity he painted was a hateful, judgmental collection of rabble-rousers — an image that, paradoxically, did more to help his targets than it advanced his message.

Followers of Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church protest on the University of Missouri campus in Columbia, Mo. following football player Michael Sam's announcement that he is gay. RNS photo by Shane Epping

Shirley Phelps-Roper and other members of the Westboro Baptist Church picket in front of the Mizzou Athletic Training Complex on February 15, 2014. The church protested after football player Michael Sam, an All-American defensive lineman for the University of Missouri and the Associated Press’ SEC Defensive Player of the Year, announced that he was gay. Sam could possibly become the first openly gay player in the history of the NFL. Photo by Shane Epping.

Experts say Phelps’ ultimate legal and social impact on the American religious landscape will be a footnote. Religious leaders lament the damage they say he did to Christians who preach God’s love and mercy.

Free speech icon

Born on Nov. 13, 1929, in Meridian, Miss., Phelps reportedly quit West Point to study at Bob Jones University and became an ordained Southern Baptist minister in 1947. But he left the SBC for a more fundamentalist theology and launched the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka in 1955. While once considered a champion of civil rights, Phelps turned to focus lifelong enmity toward gay rights and began his notorious picketing campaign in 1991.

In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that Westboro’s picketing was “free speech however hateful,” said Steven Shapiro, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Association, which filed a friend of the court brief on Westboro’s behalf. Free-speech advocates uncomfortably embraced Phelps’ cause, if not his message.

“That’s how protest buffer zones and picket pens” came about, said Shapiro. They allow for free speech so long as protesters do not impede the event or harass the mourners. Phelps’ lasting legal impact may be the 2006 Fallen Heroes Act and similar laws in 20 states that drastically limit where, when and how people can protest at military funerals.

Protesters from Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas rallied outside the U.S. Supreme Court as justices debated how far Phelps' free speech rights go. RNS photo by Jena Lowe

Protesters from Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, rallied outside the U.S. Supreme Court as justices debated how far Phelps’ free speech rights go. RNS photo by Jena Lowe

Kansas acted years earlier. In 1991, Westboro began daily picketing at a city park that was reportedly a hot spot for gay meet-ups. In 1992, state legislators passed laws against funeral picketing and banned stalking and outlawed telephone and fax harassment — early tactics of the church, said Mark Potok, senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups.

Phelps and his congregation of “mini-me people just as vicious as he was” claimed to picket 40 sites a week. But it was the 1998 Westboro presence at the funeral of Shepard that brought the church to the national spotlight, said Potok.

The cascade of outrage stories continued in 2001 when Phelps said the 3,000 victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks deserved to die. He called a co-pilot of one of the planes hijacked on 9/11 the “filthy face of fag evil.”

“He specialized in being impossible to ignore in the modern media climate,” Potok said. “No one could pretend if he was ignored he would go away, not when they showed up at funerals of little girls killed in a school bus crash.

“Still, I think his lasting impact was on the other side of the debate. He turned people off from the far right to the far left.”

A skewed gospel

A Westboro Baptist Church sign holder, left, and gay marriage supporter spread their messages outside the Supreme Court on March 26, 2013. Throngs of supporters and opponents gathered outside the high court as it considered cases about same-sex marriage. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

A Westboro Baptist Church sign holder, left, and gay marriage supporter spread their messages outside the Supreme Court on March 26, 2013. Throngs of supporters and opponents gathered outside the high court as it considered cases about same-sex marriage. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

Yet Phelps drew no new followers to Westboro’s ways and he lost generations of children and grandchildren. According to The Topeka Capital-Journal, Phelps had 13 adult children, nine of whom remain in the church and four of whom left, along with about 20 of his grandchildren. His son Nathan, who first told news media last weekend that Phelps was dying, became an outspoken atheist.

Ties of Christian faith were no stronger than family ties for Phelps as fellow Christian faithful — mainline, evangelical or Catholic — faced his wrath.

Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, made a souvenir of the time Westboro picketed Lifeway’s Nashville offices. His desk nameplate is taken from a sign calling Stetzer a “Lying whore false Prophet.”

On Thursday, Stetzer called for people to do “the opposite of Fred Phelps and love the people that we don’t like — and tell them (or better yet, show them) God loves them too.”

The Rev. Ann Fontaine, a retired Episcopal priest and an editor and writer at Episcopal Cafe website, recalled that delegates to her church’s General Conventions “would have to walk through a gantlet of his people on the way to our meetings. And yet, he did more to move Episcopalians towards gay rights and rites than many. People were sure they did not want to be Freds.”

Ed Stetzer's desk sign reads, "Lying Whore False Prophet. - Westboro Baptist Church." Photo courtesy of LifeWay Research

Ed Stetzer’s desk sign reads, “Lying Whore False Prophet. – Westboro Baptist Church.” Photo courtesy of LifeWay Research

When the Episcopal Church voted in 2003 to accept its first openly gay bishop, “no one wanted to be seen as agreeing with his views. People who were on the fence about marriage equality and gay priests realized they had to make a decision and many moved on the spectrum toward support,” she said.

When openly gay Bishop V. Gene Robinson was formally installed, Phelps’ band of picketers came out in force, and Robinson wore a bulletproof vest beneath his vestments.

The Rev. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and a leading evangelical voice, said, “Phelps was so engaged in denouncing sin that  the good news, the grace and mercy of God in Christ, was never made clear in his message.”

By making religion appear hateful and intolerant, Phelps actually served as “an effective agent for the normalization of homosexuality,” Mohler said. In fact, LifeWay Research found that Americans who called homosexual behavior “sinful” slid from 48 percent in 2008 to 37 percent by 2012.

The Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. Photo courtesy of Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr.

The Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr. is president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. Photo courtesy of Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr.

“He made it easy for people to point to him and say theological opposition to homosexual behavior was rooted in nothing more than animus and hatred,” Mohler said. “He will be held accountable for a massive misrepresentation of the Christian faith, the Christian church and the gospel of Christ. He single-handedly committed incalculable damage by presenting an enormous obstacle to the faithful teaching of the gospel.”

Predicting the future for the Phelps franchise is complicated, said University of Kansas religious studies professor Tim Miller, who has tracked Westboro through the years.

“They have one terrible problem in succession. The one very capable, smart, educated, technologically adept person to take over is a woman. Shirley Phelps-Roper is a very effective and capable leader but she told me their theology teaches that women can’t be ministers,” said Miller.

Earlier this year, Phelps-Roper, who represented the church along with her sister, Margie, in the Supreme Court arguments, was reportedly exiled from a leadership role by current Westboro church elders. A church spokesman, Steve Drain, told The Topeka Capital-Journal, “We don’t discuss our internal church dealings with anybody.”


About the author

Cathy Lynn Grossman

Cathy Lynn Grossman specializes in stories drawn from research and statistics on religion, spirituality and ethics. She also writes frequently on biomedical ethics and end-of-life-issues


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  • Thank You, Cathy,

    “Mohler said, ‘He will be held accountable for a massive misrepresentation of the Christian faith.”

    But I wish Christians would examine these theologies more closely. Fred Phelps was just following orders as all ‘servants of the Lord’ are supposed to:

    “[Homosexuals] shall surely be put to death” (Leviticus 20:13)

    It is clear God hates homosexuality regardless of which testament you read. And when you couple that with certain things Jesus said, “…bring to me those enemies who would not have me as their KING and EXECUTE THEM in front of me.” – Jesus (luke 19:27)
    it is clear that Jesus has no patience with sinners either, even in the context of a parable. The point is Jesus is in favor of execution for that sort of enemy.

    Though Jesus clearly states that we are to “love your enemies” he is unfortunately very clear that you must not love the LORD’s “enemies”.

    That puts the Christian in an impossible position;
    Love your enemies but HATE the Lord’s enemies.

    It is a deceptive and frightening injunction Jesus hands us.
    Because no sooner do you forgive one enemy you will discover that he may be an enemy of the Lord – that leads to mass murder.

    Just ask the Catholic killers who wiped out 850,000 people in Rwanda 20 years ago. Religion is the dry tinder waiting for a fuse.

  • In other words, we can be good without God.
    Gay rights do not exist in Holy Books.

    And those who rejected Phelps were actually rejecting their Bibles.
    The result was a better world.

  • Gosh, Max, you wouldn’t be indulging in a little bit of that good ole “HATE” yourself, would you? Does it feel good to hate on them Christians?

  • I don’t hate Christians. I was a Christian for 44 years.
    But I do hate the ‘Jesus affliction’. I’m here to tell you it is curable 😉

  • You was a Christian for 44 years, but now you’re an ATHEIST?

    Cmon now, there ain’t nary no more excuse for that particular switch, than there was for Fred Phelps to switch from “God Loves” to “God Hates.”

    So spill the beans dude: what happened to YOU?

  • Cathy that was an amazing and thoughtful analysis. You are dead on and I hadd never considered the story in that way. You truly made a positive out of a negative. Thank you. I would love to hear what you thin about my colum (head up, its not as good as yours). “Fred Phelps is Dead. Now What?”

  • Max, I don’t want to get too deeply into this here, because your post boils down to effectively just one of the lazier critiques of religion promoted by the New Atheists.

    Suffice to say:
    – The mandates that you imply here are problematic only for those who interpret scripture as literal and inerrant. Other traditions encounter these very differently.
    – The Luke 19 passage is a rough one, no doubt, but it’s also contradicted in other parts of the Gospels, and it’s not remotely clear that Jesus is drawing this line between your enemies and “the Lord’s enemies.” That’s an interpretation I haven’t heard and is a pretty hard circle to square in the context of the other gospels.
    – Blaming the Rwandan genocide on Catholics is a colossally bizarre interpretation of the events there. I never know whether to be annoyed or amused by the New Atheists read of religion as the source of all problems — even in societies where religion was actively repressed, Christopher Hitchens would dig and dig until he found some corrupt leaders who were compromised and participated in whatever evil was perpetrated. It’s as if religion was some sort of atheist version of Original Sin — if humanity could only rid itself of it, we would all be saved, but oddly according to folks like Hitchens no one has ever been able to do it. (A much simpler explanation is that the bulk of humanity is generally a bunch of thoughtless jerks, but that doesn’t fit the new humanist philosophy well…)

    From the very beginning of this struggle, there have been folks of deep Christian persuasion on both sides of the issue. Christian institutions have, by and large, shamed themselves by holding to the uncompassionate way, largely because they had become heavily invested in the status quo of society. It sounds like your experience of Christianity was not a good one. While I hope you’ve found a system of thought that works for you, I’ll only note that all of us should realize that the church is a far broader, more diverse, more varied, and frankly weirder agglomeration than any one of our own experiences with it. If you argue against Christianity, keep in mind that you’re largely arguing against your own experience of it, which is legitimate but not all-encompassing.

  • Apologies, I meant to remove the word “lazier” in this, as it was a bit uncivil, but forgot. I generally get annoyed at New Atheist arguments, but that’s no reason to be nasty about it…

  • @DOC,

    Briefly; I grew up in a close Christian family, loved praying, I was very close to my grandmother who taught me prayers I can still recite. I married a Christian, baptized our kids, I even taught some Sunday school. Loved the church community, etc. Wept for joy upon receiving my communion on Sundays. The way the atheism happens to most of us is you hit a wall or have a moment when you realize something is terribly wrong.

    I began to have doubts after 9/11. I figured God could not be blamed, but certainly ‘faith’ COULD be blamed. The idea of unquestioned faith is what brought down the towers. That gnawed at me. For 11 more years I went to church believing that God would help me through my doubt – truly practicing my faith.

    Then came Newtown, Ct. 2012. Those children prayed to not die – yet…I can’t bear to ponder it.

    The dawning awareness came at me….Whose prayers ARE answered? And worse – who among us has a right to claim they ARE while such dear and worthy children’s prayers are ignored? I could no longer believe that anyone I knew, certainly not me, deserved to even ask for a prayer to be answered ever again. If God can ignore these children – well I must have been mistaken completely somehow. “God is mysterious” never sounded more hollow – “God is useless” made more sense.

    After that crushing moment (it was as if a bell rang) the only people who could console me were Atheists, former believers. They completely understood. They wept with me.

    And when I heard a Christian say of the dead children, “At least they will be in heaven with Jesus for Christmas” I vomited. I realized this was perfectly insane – maybe the cruelest thing I had ever heard. Yet it is what I might have said only a decade earlier!

    That is when I knew I had also become an Atheist – it had been coming since 9/11. It was as if the cathedrals of faith in my mind disappeared like sand castles with an ocean wave. And I remember wondering if I should try to rebuild something there – where Jesus had been. But I just didn’t know how.

    Most Atheists are like me, former believers. Most of us struggled at first. I did. We realize that a God may exist but that the current explanations aren’t working at all – and are full of delusions from ancient worlds lost to us.

    The journey since has been much better, much happier and much richer. I only wish I had found this freedom earlier.
    I am not alone by any means – there are more of us everyday.
    Sorry this was longer than I meant.

  • Please read my reply to Doc Anthony. I wept as I wrote it.
    And I meant every word.
    Take me or leave me. But don’t call me lazy.

  • Thanks for the very personal reply — it’s a far better critique of Christianity than random asides about Rwanda. As I said, “lazy” was a poor choice of words and I would have edited it out if I could. Again, I apologize.

    I was out of the church for a good 10 years before going back, rather reluctantly, and still carry extensive doubts, so I’m not unfamiliar with a disillusionment with God. I don’t like to take people’s words of comfort from them, but the whole notion of “God will not give you more than you can handle” is one I find to ring particularly false. As you referenced, how do you understand the kids at Newtown?

    But it’s also not a new theological question, and it’s also not as if Americans are the first Christians to have their beliefs tested by tragedy. I don’t have faith — held in tension with doubt — in God because I think God will answer every request I have or keep me safe from all tragedy. I’m there because the alternatives are worse — the belief that cruelty wins in the end, or that life is nothing but a game of propagating genes, or that humanity represents our best source of hope for good in the world. And I’m there because I find resonance in the millennia of tradition and human lives and struggles that helps me through my days.

    It sounds like you have found peace apart from the church — for your sake I have no desire to drag you back if you do not want to come. I simply must protest that there is more, much more to Christianity than a God that answers prayers as a bellhop answers a bell; more about how to cope in the face of tragedy than simple answers as to why it won’t happen; more wrestling with doubt and faith in conversation with one another than faith conquering doubt; and yes, more in scripture than a do’s and don’ts list for life and and illustration of the enemies of God.

    As an aside: you declare that there are no gay rights in holy books. If we can agree that three thousand year old texts are going to need to be understood in their historical contexts, that’s not quite true. The biggest negatives in the Bible against explicit sexual activity between two people of the same sex are, the scholars tell me, best understood in the context of violence and dominance — perhaps best to understand it as prison rape. If we look beyond the strictly sexual to look for examples of two people of the same gender binding their lives together, declaring their love for each other higher than for all other persons, and for the element of simple tenderness that we celebrate in heterosexual marriage, there are actually two examples at hand — David and Jonathan, and Naomi and Ruth. There is nothing recorded about sexual activity between them, but as gay marriage activists have been insisting for years, marriage is far more about love than it is about sex, although the two are ideally intertwined.

  • Max,
    1.It’s hard to believe you used that verse in Luke so out of context and without proper punctuation.
    2. I’m sorry that you thought you were a believer, but from your “testimony” it’s clear you never were a Christian.

  • @Vicki,

    People told Fred Phelps he took things out of context. He supposedly cared about Biblical truth and yet no amount of reference to other chapters and verses seemed to matter.

    If Jesus didn’t know his words would be used for such violence, how can you say he was ‘God’?
    If Jesus is God then he did know his words would be used this way – so who is to say they have been misinterpreted?

    The Bible does not help us answer these questions. And prayer did not give Fred Phelps loving guidance either.

    You can be a Soldier for Christ or a Peacenik for Christ – and the decision has very little to do with Christ. I submit that he probably does not exist which is why he can take no side on the matter.

  • “You never were a believer”

    Yes. I hear that all the time.
    If I was not a believer then nobody is, Even Fred Phelps.

    There is more likely explanation.
    ‘God’ is a delusional state of mind. And for me, the delusion went away.

  • At least quote Jesus correctly (Luke 19:27). Jesus is telling a story and quoting what a King (not Jesus) will do to those who don’t want him to be king.

  • Thank you for voicing your opinion with respect to others. I agree with majority of what was written. My husband & I went through the same thing. Yet I still struggle with the beliefs I was taught as a child.

  • @Max:Thank you for voicing your opinion with respect to others. I agree with majority of what was written. My husband & I went through the same thing. Yet I still struggle with the beliefs I was taught as a child.

  • There is very little in Fred Phelps behavior that looked like Jesus. I give him the benefit of the doubt that somewhere, somehow he sometimes looked like Christ. I pray for his soul.

    Its hard to pull a positive out of his life but at least one of them is that we know what a fundamental, legalistic, pharisaical person actually looks like.

  • Of course you would. Phelps said out loud and in public everything that you write under the cloak of internet anonymity. The body isn’t even cold yet and you and other conservative christians are engaging in revisionism. How typical. Never let the truth ever get in the way of your religious ideas.

  • Its about the only way to “polish the turd” that WBC represents. Here we have a church saying out loud and in a public manner what many were saying in more hushed tones or in political speech.

    The hate was obvious and barely anybody from the Christian communities raised a finger to do anything about it. If people don’t scramble to make it sound like some good came of it, their own culpability in encouraging him becomes more apparent.

  • “Barely anybody” is a bit of a disservice to the millions of Christians who have been working their fingers to the bone to make the church more open and welcoming. You are right, it wasn’t the majority, but “barely anybody” is far from accurate.

  • C’mon man, isn’t it obvious: he looked into the light and saw there was nothing there. I’m not an atheist because I believe atheism is as much a matter of faith as any religion, but in my absence of knowledge, I can’t see there’s any rational or irrational reason for a god.

  • Your exegetical skills are very poor Max. More important is your contradictory atheist critique of Christian morality. You are speaking like a moral realist. Suppose we make the wild step of accepting your claims about Jesus’ evil moral views. Whether Jesus be God or just man, on what basis do you judge his morality?

    If he were mere man, wouldn’t he be asserting his subjective, culturally conditioned belief. How can you, a subjective, culturally conditioned man make this judgement and expect us to think that you are not just telling us what you happen to prefer. An equivalent statement to ‘I hate asparagus’.

    I can tell you have grown up in a Christian home. So many who do, and then fall away can’t leave their belief in an objective and binding moral law behind. Like the policeman who retires but won’t turn in his weapons. Be consistent and stop moralising like your the pope. Remember, according to your new religion, morality is just a cultural device that has in the past aided us in producing a greater number of viable offspring.

    If this is something you cannot accept. Then, it’s time to ask the only sure ground of morality and the creator of your life for help.

  • Also, Fred Phelps made prophecies, such as the date of the death of Billy Graham that turned out to be false. He should have been humble enough to realise that he was wrong about being a prophet and probably wrong about all sorts of things. It’s hard to maintain that he was honestly deluded.

  • @Julian,
    You are saying that you ‘believe’ that ‘believing’ is ITSELF a good thing.
    That is what I can no longer do.
    That is ‘faith’ and there is no reason to think this is a good thing.

    ‘faith’ is a reflex which we are taught by our parents. We do it instinctively and without thought when we are confronted by miracle stories and other such ideas.

    But ‘faith’ is just pretending that you believe something when you really don’t. I Maybe someday you will understand.

  • Max, I just wrote a lengthy response but it got wiped. So I’ll make it brief.

    I’ll not now try to explain why, but we must presuppose many things in order to begin to think reasonably. Things like the laws of logic, the existence of an actual world external to our mind. You are believing many things by faith all the time without realising it.

    Even if it were true that we get our faith from our parents, that doesn’t say anything about whether it is true or false. All explanations that you have been told by your atheistic friends of the origins of religion in order to invalidate it are actually examples of the genetic fallacy. This fallacy is an faulty style of arguing where on tries to argue that an idea is true or false by trying to explain where it came from. For example, “you only believe the world is round because you grew up in the 21st century.”

    If you want to talk about some of these things or others email me: [email protected]. Otherwise look on to get an intelligent explanation of Christian theism before making up your mind. Based on your comments I don’t think that you have looked into the issue adequately to make up your mind yet. Besides, I suspect that you wished you could believe but haven’t been given adequate answers to your questions.

  • You are right.

    The problem is there are not enough people like you and they seem to have virtually no voice in our media and politics. The problem is almost nobody hears of Christians like yourself unless they are acting defensively about not being lumped in with the fundamentalist nabobs. There is not enough affirmative steps being taken to get the message out that you are different from them.

    For the most part Christianity is represented in public through its most obnoxious, anti-democratic and loudmouthed form. Those Christians made an alliance with conservative politics back in the late 60’s. All in order to obtain a level of power and influence far outstripping their population and actual level of acceptance within American Christendom.

    Christians like yourself, need to do better PR. If you don’t speak up when it is relevant, someone else does it for you.

    I am an atheist like Max. But I don’t make the same arguments against all religious faith. I came to my ideas from a different approach and background than he did. I am more willing to cut religious believers a break when it is deserved and don’t advocate abolishing all religion. But I also know that if I don’t make my views known when they differ from Max’s, people are going to get the impression that all atheists are like him.

  • The man picketed the funeral of Fred Rogers aka beloved children’s television icon “Mr. Rogers” in 2003. That was pretty much the point when any notion of forgiveness and grace is just not possible. He could not sink any lower if he had shot Bambi’s mom or given Old Yeller rabies. 🙂

    Rogers, a devout Christian, an ordained Presbyterian minister, beloved by children and parents alike for his televised messages of compassion, humanity and dignity for 33 years. He never made his religious belief a reason to separate himself from the rest of humanity. Never advocated compelling people to his beliefs or expected others to do so. He simply let his words and actions speak for themselves.

    Fred Rogers left the world a better place for his existence. Every monument devoted to the guy was earned by a lifetime of humanity. If I ever had reason to go to Pittsburgh, I would leave flowers or a candle at his statue or gravesite.

    I wouldn’teven waste the energy to whiz on Fred Phelp’s grave. We are all better off without him. Good riddance.

  • The idea that Christian views of morality are objective or even moral is more PR and myth than reality.

    There is no objective standards to Christian notions of morality. Any act can be excused as long as you claim you are doing it on behalf of God and Jesus. One can justify malice, cruelty, greed and selfish behavior as long as you can claim God is on your side. Many Christians frequently do so. Somehow there are a million excuses under the sun why one should not “Love thy Neighbor”.

    Outsourcing moral ideas to unquestioned authority without personal reflection or empathy is not morality. It being a psychopath on a leash. Morality always comes from within and is always a function of one’s connection to the rest of humanity. One acts morally because they understand and connect with the existence of other people. Reciprocity (the Golden Rule) is just part of it. The other part is that one does not harm others because one understands and empathizes with them. We know what it is like to be harmed and do not wish it to others. One doesn’t need faith for that. Just being a normal human being with feelings and compassion.

  • Atheist Max good for you for speaking up honestly. I am an Atheist NOT because I was convinced of Atheist arguments BUT because the Christian ones were too unvonvincing. Even those by some posters on this website. One other thing that I find curious is how another, this is Christian apologetics at work, claims that you were never a REAL Christian to begin with. Many folks just can’t accept that others have examined seriously and thoughtfully their beliefs and have chosen to reject them.

  • One other short comment Max. Faith is hope where there is no proof of truth. I prefer to place my hope in and on things that are more substantial–where there is some proof of truth.

  • You make a VERY good point. I have been appalled at the silence of moderate Christians in my area. IF any of them would ever speak up and say ‘No, that isn’t what we in our church believe. We respect ALL people and welcome homosexuals in our church.’ they would have attracted new members. Instead their silence is complicity. I think some are beginning to realize that they need to speak up if for no other reason than their right to be moderate is being threatened by the extremists. My argument has been that it isn’t religion that is the problem, it is fanatacism and extremism that is the problem. Phelps represents fanatacism and extremism at or almost at its worst. He may have hoped for a holy war but he didn’t actually start one!

  • @Julian,
    Thanks for the thoughtful response.
    Your point is well taken. God may exist.
    The presupposition argument might work for some people and perhaps it would get some to believe in ‘A God’ of some sort. Not me, yet.

    I do not rule out that ‘A God’ may exist. So I am Agnostic on the question of God (as in I do not ‘know’) and I am also and Atheist (as in I do not believe.)

    I do not CLAIM that a God does not exist. Atheism is just the response to the claim that he does.

    Just as I do not claim that the LOCH NESS monster does NOT exist – I only respond to that claim by saying “I do not know and I do not believe” so I am therefore an “A-Lochnessian” on that question.

    Here is a claim:
    “Prayer works.” Jesus says at least 11 times that your prayer will be heard AND directly answered – “God intercedes and intervenes” on YOUR behalf if you ask him to.

    If you read the story of the children at Newtown you know this is not a true claim. The next question which must come to you is:
    Have I missed something about the claim?
    Was their faith in Jesus not strong enough?
    Is the claim misunderstood across society?

    At some point – with 17 million such children dying of starvation every year – you must admit the CLAIMS Jesus makes about prayer cannot possibly be true. It Cannot be true.

    I am not telling you that God is impossible. But I am telling you that the CLAIMS about Christian prayer are impossible to BELIEVE.
    If God exists, I have seen no scenario which demonstrates convincingly that He intercedes on anyone’s behalf.

    That is just one example of why I think Atheism (lack of belief) is the only honest approach these claims. If morality is about honesty at all – Atheism is honest. I can’t fake it til I make it anymore. And what sort of God would want us to ‘fake’ it anyway?

    It did hurt terribly to discover my Christian religion was unbelievable after 44 years. But I’m over that.

    Discovering you are an Atheist is like discovering Santa isn’t real only about 10 times worse.

    I feel very close the the Atheist Ex-Pastors all of whom fought their dawning awareness also – wonderful people like Jerry DeWitt.
    His book “Hope after Faith” is how a Southern preacher found the courage to be honest.

  • Yes – I have plenty of Hope – much more than when I was a Christian.
    But my understanding of hope is not based on ‘life after death’ of ‘something bigger than ourselves’ as it once was.

    Where I once looked to religion I now look at philosophy.
    Where I once looked to faith, I now look at honesty,
    Where I once looked to God, I now look to literature, landscape, music, art and culture.

    All of these things become clearer and more functional without God claims polluting them:
    Honesty, Compassion, Integrity, Empathy, Confidence (not faith) in the scientific method, and Confidence (not faith) in people’s abilities to face difficult truths.

    The future will be brighter when more people abandon all unsupportable claims and their dictatorial defenders.

  • What does “Moderate” mean?
    If encouraging homosexuals into the church, fully embracing their desire to get married, etc.. is a ‘moderate’ thing then what can the word mean?

    Moderate must mean to be ‘in defiance’ of scripture (leviticus, etc)
    Moderate must also mean to be a ‘humanist’ despite scripture.. (inclusive, etc.)

    If you know what is right without scripture, why bother with it?
    To be a ‘moderate’ is to be without scripture.

  • Max,
    There is not the space to discuss these important questions here and to do them any justice. You, and the rest of the world has my email address now, why not have an extended discussion about this in a private correspondence? (we are moving to more important topics than Phelps).

    It suffices to say that philosophy and science have thrived in the western world, which has had a Christian basis. Many philosophers and scientist are Christians. The claim that Christianity cannot be squared with these things is modern propaganda. Indeed, science relies on the pressumption of the uniformity of nature and science and philosophy rely on reason. Reason relies on trusting our cognitive faculties as well as a belief in non determined choice. All of these things fit well with theism and poorly with most, if not all forms of atheism.
    All this, “Christians do bad things” level of argument around here will get nowhere.
    And Larry, the golden rule, most notably expressed by Jesus, without a basis in moral realism is just a useful guide. Nobody has to obey it and besides they wouldn’t be doing anything wrong to massacre people as long as they turn the gun on themselves or allow the police to shoot them at the end of their rampage.

  • A moderate Max is a dirty word to some, as you seem to think. You seem to think that Scripture, is an all or nothing affair, you have to accept all of it word for word, literally or it is meaningless. A moderate reads the Bible thoughtfully and critically and doesn’t buy into the concept that it has to be read literally. A moderate can look at the teachings of other world religions and accept the wisdom found within and even see similarities between Biblical teachings and what other religions teach. The moderate doesn’t claim that being a Christian or a Buddhist or anything else means that you can’t find truth or wisdom wherever it may be found. For a moderate you can say this is right for me and I can accept that you find something else right for you. A moderate doesn’t declare it is my way or no way, the moderate can see that there are many ways. Do I need to continue? Or can you get my drift?

  • Actually I think the Golden Rule was most notably expressed by others, NOT by Jesus. Confucius stated it as “Do not do to others what you would not like them to do to you.” That shows a greater and more subtle understanding of the concept than Jesus “do unto others”. I disagree that reason fits well with Theism. Theism strikes me as being self-contradictory which is very unreasonable! The whole idea that God is a Perfect being is a Catch22, the Theists achilles hill and that is anything but reason at work!

  • I checked out the website and that really isn’t a very good site to use to support your case. All arguments are only as good as their initial assumptions and Craig makes some faulty initial assumptions with his “Fine Tuning of the universe” argument.

  • “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is a clear advancement on confusius’ “do not do to others what you would not have them do to you”. Jesus’ principle takes into account sins of omission and sins of commission. It lays the burden on us to actively seek to find those who need help rather than to do whatever we want so long as we don’t hurt anyone. I suspect many prefer confusius’ formulation because it is easier.

    The ‘golden rule’ was understood in the west before the ordinary person even knew anything of confusius’ teaching. All attempts to causally relate the origin of the principle in our culture to other teachers is anachronistic.

    Having said this, the moral principle has been intuited separately and independently throughout the world. Jesus higher teaching is an improvement on all these formulations: “love one another as I have loved you”, “love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you “. If His first command (the golden rule) was impractical, what about this. Indeed , impossible for man. You could call it supernatural love.

    How is it that people of all faiths have accepted the moral power of the sermon on the mount (read Ghandi on the topic), but those living in hurt reaction to Christianity can only spew bile at Jesus teaching. I remember a lecturer saying that it is his belief that nobody who has left a religion can ever make a proper study of comparative religion. This is because they will always want to put the boot into the religion they have left.

    If it helps restore objectivity, try this mental experiment suggested by G.K. Chesterton. Imagine Jesus, the apostles and his followers were an obscure ancient Chinese band of men and woman. Try it and see if you can see what others, who are seeing them for the first time, can see.

    I can’t see how the idea of a ‘Perfect Being’ is a catch 22. You’ll have to provide some sort of an argument. This site is inconvenient for me to use, if anyone wants to talk more, I have provided an email address in an earlier comment. Adieu and God Bless.

  • @Susan,
    A Religious ‘moderate’:

    GOD’S AUTHORITY is removed from the equation. The religious person becomes a picker of nice cherries in a tree of mostly bland and rotten cherries.

    The moderate is therefore not a servant of the Lord since there is no Lord other than the Moderate Himself who decides what to do.

    Given two conflicting ideas:
    Love your enemies = perhaps a nice cherry
    Kill the Lord’s enemies (Luke 19:27) = a rotten cherry

    The moderate chooses the more humane cherry.
    He ends up with a humanitarian philosophy that does not include any marching orders from GOD.

    But because he falsely credits God for HIS OWN DECISION TO PICK THE GOOD CHERRY in the first place,
    he leaves the rotten cherry standing for the extremist killers to play with.

    The moderate is an unwitting an enabler of the ‘extremist’.

  • Julian sorry to burst your bubble of illusion, disappoint you but you are wrong on many counts. The “Ethic of Reciprocity’ first appeared with the Pagan Greeks, at least the earliest recorded concepts appeared there. It also appeared with Confucius and in the Tao teh Ching, areas that at that point in time were still isolated from western ideas. Hinting at different parts of the world developing a similar concept on their own. The wording from Jesus isn’t an improvement, it encourages people to act in ORDER to get something in return and encourages manipulation, also called bribery. You see this quite clearly with children who expect rewards for their good behavior. A seriously flawed way to promote the idea!

  • I have never been a Christian so your argument about those living in “hurt reaction” is a tad bit senseless and juvenile. Me thinks it is your “objectivity” that is in doubt here. Why do people from different religions appreciate the Sermon on the Mount, because it is a beautiful piece that echoes many of their independently developed values. Eccelsiastes is another that contains sentiments that other religions developed independently, a very similar piece is in the Tao teh Ching. One reason Christians aren’t aware of the beauty and power of the Gita or the Tao teh Ching is that refuse to read pieces from other religions whereas followers of other religions are far more open to accepting words of wisdom wherever they are found.

  • Now about the idea of Perfection being a Catch22. A Catch22 for those that aren’t familiar is a situation where in order to be that thing you’d actually have to not be or it would be such that you couldn’t be that thing.I wrote an essay for the Religious Tolerance website about this, you can read the full essay at The Catch 22 part is in the third part of that 3 part essay. PERFECTION would require God to be as some have put it “the unmoved mover”, at perfect tranquility and peace with himself and the world, no fear, no hatred, no emotions that mile stir the passions, no love for one over another, but the same feeling of quiet contentment for ALL. Now ask yourself– the problem of Theodicy, how can anyone not be moved by the suffering of children? Such a person would be a monster NOT a PEFFECT God. But to be moved by suffering is to disturb your inner tranquility, Nirvana is what Buddhists would call it! A PERFECT God can’t interact in the world because to do so would be to show favortism, which is an imperfection, to show displeasure or anger is to show you aren’t in PERFECT control of your emotions. I could continue but you can read my full essay for yourself.

  • Susan,
    I am aware that this principle of reciprocity has been discovered and formulated at different times. That is why I said so in my last comment. The principle in the west comes from Jesus. Remember that most of the teaching of the Greeks wasn’t rediscovered until the late medieval, early renaissance. I imagine the Romans had similar ideas, personal justice, at least was one of the cardinal virtues emphasised by the stoics. The ‘do unto others’ formulation, which is the ‘golden rule’ is a direct quote from Jesus. It is stretching credulity to deny that this concept did not come to the west (formally Christendom) through Jesus since it is a direct quote from him.

    Your generalisation that most Christians don’t familiarise themselves with the teachings of other religions is equivalent to my generalisation that many militant atheists are ex-Christians who have a hard time seeing Christianity from ‘the outside’. I think both are probably fair, though we now know that neither of them apply to you or I. Though, just as I read these teachers knowing I have a creed and therefore with a bias, you seem to read Jesus with a bias.

    I think you are interpreting ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ as ‘ others will do unto you as you do unto them’. Can you see the difference? One is a principle of action, the other is just a false claim, and not what Jesus said.

    Your idea of perfection is an old Greek view and not a Hebrew view. The Greeks argued that God must be apathetic because then he would be moved by his creation and not the first cause in that instance.

    This view of perfection is unjustified. First, God made the creation, so to be ‘moved’ by the object that God had originated is not a problem, it’s a relationship. Second, How is it that perfection implies immovability? Is a rock more perfect than a child?

    Christians have struggled with the idea that God is thoroughly sovereign but allows free will to humans. This is a mystery, but a good one, because free will enables us to love one another and God (it also enables us to do tremendous evil). I have my own answers to this seeming contradiction, but it is at least a genuine potential incoherency. I don’t see that the perfection one is, because it depends on a doubtful definition of perfection.

  • Thanks for what you said, and yes people say you were never a christian, but you were! Its sounds like you were the loving type, and not the unloving type life felps. The bible is not clear what type you should be, and you have to choose which side of the same coin you want to be? The other side is always there! So. its best to throw it away.And felps was only qmuoting the bible ,so not only the bible is not gods word, if there is such a thing, felps was a nasty person using god to hide behind while spitting venomos hate,im pleased you are out, its not an easy journey.

  • @Larry – I am a very caring person. I am a good example of positive Atheism.

    When Atheists don’t speak up
    companies like The Hobby Lobby crush our rights and states like South Dakota pass laws permitting the murder of doctors.

    Religious people think this is their country only.

    Though the VAST MAJORITY of Christians mean to do good, they are supporting and financing an institution which bent on destroying the Constitutional freedoms we have.

    Religion is a terrible thing. Not just when you look back as an Ex-Christian, but when you see how it is used to destroy freedom everywhere in the world.

  • David,
    “The other side is always there…so best to throw it away.”

    Exactly. I think of religion as a really comfortable couch full of bed bugs. No matter how nice it feels at first, it is too full of pestilence to save.
    Tossing it was the best thing I ever did.

    And thanks.

  • Sorry Julian it isn’t my idea of perfection, that idea goes back to St. Anselm and has been the position of Theism ever since. AND i might point out since you don’t seem to grasp, (or is that being patronizing on my part) this concept of Perfection combined with the idea of God intervening in the affairs of men is why Deists became Deists. No need to be patronizing, from either of us, that is unworthy. And yes your comment “do I understand the difference” is a patronizing comment. Now I fully admit that many Christians twist the golden rule so that it is more like “do unto others before they do unto you”. My point showed the difference in expectation, that you don’t seem to think I understodd, yet I pointed it out, and it isn’t what I expect, it is what many Christians expect and as I pointed out it is what we see childre doing. It is a flawed wording of the concept, precisely because people twist the meaning! So thanks for proving my point! Free Will also enables us to reject religious teachings as unfounded but our free Will doesn’t come from a God that I have shown can’t exist. There is only one definition of Perfection (faultlessness, highest excellence, flawless) so your argument about the definition being doubtful is lame at best. You will have to do better than that. Oh and rocks don’t “move” as people are “moved”. Perhaps you might want to check out the various definitions of “moved” before you make such foolish statements. You seem to have trouble with metaphorical concepts.

  • Sorry for butting into the conversation here. I’m a little confused by your reasoning. Of course, I’m sure Jesus was aware that people would misinterpret was he was saying. In fact, today when a politician, actor, religious leader, anyone famous, makes a bold statement or speech, I’m sure they are aware that there are people out there who will misinterpret their words whether intentionally or unintentionally. You don’t have to be God to figure that out.
    So, your question is, “If Jesus is God, then he did know his words would be used this way – so who is to say that they have been misinterpreted?”

    I would say we would figure that out the same way we would analyze anything else anyone else said in history. We would look at the context, lifestyle and character, anything from history to give us clues and then deduce from the evidence given which interpretation is the most plausibly true? Clearly, there are interpretations that are easily demonstrably false or at the very least incredibly unlikely. We go with what is the most credible interpretation given the information we have. You could pose your same question towards any character in history who has said anything. The methods would be the same.

  • Thanks for trying to avoid patronising language Susan. Though you’re not always completely successful ;). I don’t mind so much as long as you can overlook some of my lapses. A thick skin is a virtue, in my opinion.

    I’ll leave behind the ‘do unto others…’ theme, since I think we can see what each other are saying. I like it because it is a noble formulation of reciprocity, you dislike it because it may be prone to misinterpretation. It may be a matter of personal experience, I have rarely, seen a Christian misinterpret it.

    Your argument against theism based on the inconcruity of perfection is interesting. I first heard it about a 25 years ago and have not taken it seriously for various reasons. Mostly because it seems unlikely that the Hebrew people from whom we derive the concept of God’s perfection would have thought of perfection. Even the Greek work telos seems to suggest maturity and moral completeness.

    I can imagine that if God were to have his will made subject the His creation against that will, then His status as neccessary or non-contingent and therefore perfect would be questionable. So tell me. How is it the same, if the prime mover WILLFULLY* responded to His creation in His actions? (*Capitals for emphasis, I’m not shouting)

    None of this is much of a problem for some versions of Christianity such as Calvinism, which denies all will but God’s will.

    Anyhow, I’m just thinking aloud. I’ll go and read up on the topic, though my question was a genuine one.

  • @Theist Tiffany,
    Though you are correct that words are open to interpretation from the mouths of any other character in History, only Jesus claims to be the personal, all-knowing and all-powerful God.

    Could a true, all-knowing, all powerful God say words knowing they would be misinterpreted …and still be a good God?
    Would He not have the power to see to it that his words were not misinterpreted? Then he could not be all-powerful.

    If He could have ensured it, but didn’t – he isn’t good.
    Or he isn’t all powerful, or he isn’t all knowing.

    So Jesus cannot be who he is claimed to be.

  • And to avoid being pounced on, I mean the ‘the Hebrew people from whom we derive the [Judeo-Christian] view of God’s perfection.

  • Wait a minute Julian you tripped all over yourself, “it seems unlikely that the Hebrew people from whom we derive the concept of God’s perfection would have thought of perfection. ” How can we have gotten the idea of perfection from them if they never thought of it? Now you might want to say that what they considered as perfection isn’t what we today consider perfection, which is what I think you meant to say! AND that is a problem many modern Christians have with words that have been inaccurately translated from Hebrew to Greek to Latin to English. Something as they say get’s lost in translation. When modern Christians read and think perfection they aren’t thinking about Telos. You might also want to rework the paragraph with your question. You left out something, it doesn’t make sense. I’ll be happy to address your question if you make it clear exactly what your point is and what you are asking.

  • You are right Susan, I did stumble, though I’ll take the “all over yourself” part as a rhetorical exaggeration.
    For some reason I didn’t finish the sentence with the words “…the Hebrews didn’t think of perfection [in this (philosophical) way”].

    You did me the justice of guessing my meaning anyway. Jesus said “be perfect (telos) as your father in heaven is perfect”. I doubt he was asking us to be a necessary beings or the prime movers. More likely he meant complete or mature.

    It seems then we are arguing whether Anselm’s view of perfection is coherent. I’ll restate the question by putting three options.

    1) the Calvinist view, where only God has free will and therefore nothing that we can do can effect God’s actions, or that anything we do is actually the result of God’s will and not ours. Anselm’s view of God’s perfection does not seem incoherent under this scheme.

    2) the view that God is bound to act in a certain way in response to our free will. This would seem inconsistent with Anselm’s idea of God’s perfection, and would also contradict all Christian teaching.

    3) The orthodox notion that God is the only necessary being and mankind are contingent or dependant on Him. God has free will by nature, and we have been gifted with free will by God. His freedom can impinge on ours in certain cases but ours cannot likewise effect His.

    My question is about (3) the orthodox Christian idea. How is it that this is inconsistent with Anselm’s view of God’s perfection? God does not have to respond to us, he chooses to. If God is concerned by human suffering or free acts of will, it is His choice and He doesn’t have to do anything in response. If he does, his sovereignty or status as a necessary being is not jeopardised.

    Please continue to be generous with typos and strange ellipses in my writing. I am using an iphone and can hardly see more than a sentence at a time in this format, and can’t edit once I have posted a comment.

  • I think you intentionally misssed the point I made Julian, my point had nothing to do with our actions,(other than to point out our description of God as a Perfect Being , the Theistic concept, is totally inconsistant with what we say God does or doesn’t do or like) the argument about God’s perfection is solely about what he/she does or doesn’t do or is able to do or not to do. The Catch 22 is A PERFECT God can not exist. Can’t say it any simpler. I am not surprised at you’re failure to address that point. You didn’t read my essay that I referred you to, did you?

  • If it is the essay you wrote on the nature of God, I have.
    I think what I have asked above gets to the philosophical problem of a perfect God choosing to be effected by the world and not having his perfection jeopardised or second guessed. It is relevant.

    Your essay seems to be largely addressing the emotional point that we feel as though a perfect God ought to have certain moral qualities that conflict with an apathetic unmoved mover.

    You’ll be glad to hear that Christians overwhelmingly (but not all) agree in rejecting the Aristotelean idea of God’s apathy. It is true that we talk of God as changeless, but this refers to His moral qualities and attributes. It is unjustified to claim that all changes are detrimental or enhancing to perfection. If I know that it is 7:30 and then a minute later that it is 7:31, that change in my mind has made brought me no nearer or farther to perfection.

    Anyhow, I feel justified in maintaining that God is perfect and that He is moved by the suffering, joys and requests of human beings and in maintaining that this has been the mainstay belief of Christians. If Anselm went a little far down the Aristotelean road in his concept of perfection, it doesn’t change much. I’ll bet it made little practical difference in his life, though I can only guess this.

  • @Julian,

    “we talk of God as changeless, but this refers to His moral qualities and attributes”

    Nonsense! Which moral qualities of Yahweh below are ‘changeless’? :

    “Thus says the Lord: ‘I will bring evil upon you out of your own house. I will take your wives [plural] while you live to see it, and will give them to your neighbor. He shall LIE WITH YOUR WIVES [rape] in broad daylight. You have done this deed in secret, but I will bring it about in the presence of all Israel, and with the sun looking down.’ ” (2 Samuel 12:11)
    Rape neighbors wives in broad daylight.
    What perfect morality is being preached here?

    “My angel will go before you and bring you to the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites; and I will wipe them out.” (Exodus 23:23)

    “Then the LORD said to me, ‘Even if Moses and Samuel stood before me pleading for these people, I wouldn’t help them. Away with them! Get them out of my sight!” (JEREMIAH 15:1-7)

    “Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer… Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts…they shall bear no fruit: yea though they bring forth, YET WILL I SLAY even the beloved fruit of their womb.” (Hosea 9:11-16)

    The Lord said, “if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ then his master must take him…to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.” (EXODUS 21:5)

    “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.”
    (Isaiah, 45:7)
    Jesus said, “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment..” – (Matthew, 25:46)

    Yahweh is an immoral monster. And his son?

    Jesus said, “But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them–bring them here and KILL THEM IN FRONT OF ME.'” (Luke 19:27)

    Religion is entirely manmade. And it shows.

  • So Julian you are a Deist instead of a Theist. That is fine. BUT your claim that Deism has been the “mainstay belief of Christianity” is simply not true. Deists have been the minor group not the main group. Theists and Deists both believe that God “is perfect and that He is moved by the suffering, joys and requests of human beings” but the Theist claims that God interferes (answers some of those requests) when he feels moved to do so. The Deist position is that God for some reason they don’t explain, can’t or chooses not to interfere in the affairs of men. My argument was primarily aimed at the Theistic concept as the clearly pointed out several times. BUT in my essay I pointed out the problem for Deists, with still trying to claim that God is perfect. If you and I walk down the street and see a house on fire and do nothing we would be considered to have a serious character flaw. The least we could do is scream HELP, FIRE. Or we could go to a neighbors house and tell them a house is in fire and ask them to call 911. OR we could pull out our cell phone a dial 911. SO I ask, how can a PERFECT God not do something when he sees children suffering? The least he could do is scream NO MORE, a pox on all your houses, stop it! IF that is He is as PERFECT as the Deist claims that He is!

  • No Susan, I am a theist, I believe in a God who intervenes. I just don’t see how this is incompatible with divine perfection.

    Max, there is a context to your quotes, but say that these are awful passages, unworthy of God, why not deny biblical innerancy, and retain your faith, or at least be a theist of a generic stripe. I have no idea whether belief in God is of any interest to you anymore. From where do you derive the moral standard by which you judge these texts?

  • You have eyes that cannot see and ears that cannot hear Julian. But that is okay with me. I never thought I would convince you of my arguments. BUT you gave me the opportunity to get these arguments out there AND that is what my purpose is. To get people to start thinking. Some will read what i wrote and it will click. Some like you will try to argue against what I wrote BUT when you and they least I expect it something I said will pop into your head and you will THINK about all of this. AND that is a step in the right direction!

  • @JULIAN,

    I never believed the Bible was inerrant to begin with. I was Catholic. But I did believe the general claims of the Bible – that there was something ‘deeply true’ about the Bible; that Jesus was a sign (Good News) that God was real and life was eternal. Thomas put his hands in Jesus’ side. Jesus must have been real.

    I also know that LOVE is the closest thing to joy and perfection that we can experience in this life – it feels eternal when you experience it – therefore something amazing is happening with ‘love’ and the Bible seemed to convey this appreciation as well as to explain it.

    Love is indeed amazing and vital to happiness – but I cannot believe the claims of the Bible have anything at all to do with it. Nor do I believe that morality comes from a God of any kind.

    You ask where morals come from, where I find morality to judge the Bible?
    Well Morality has been studied and we know a lot about it.

    There is a lot of evidence that our moral compass is something we are born with – it is a sense of ‘fairness’ and almost all mammals and many bird species have shown this instinct. The people born without this sense of fairness are called psychopaths – and no religion has ever done them any good. It is a terrible sickness afflicting a very small percentage of the population of the world.

    There is absolutely no evidence that would suggest God is real.
    Nor is there any evidence to show that Faith is good for people. Nor is there any evidence that we ‘need’ a god of any kind.

    Love and curiosity is all we need. Philosophy begins where religion ends.
    Religion is very primitive and generally it is not good for people.
    And some aspects, practiced even by moderates, are extremely dangerous.

  • @Julian,

    In order to ‘retain’ faith one must have a reason to do so. I looked for reasons and found none remained.
    The claims that “God is Love” or that “Jesus is Lord” are completely baseless.

    It is a curious thing I have noticed (since becoming a non-believer) how people seem to believe NOT IN GOD, per se, but in the ‘BELIEF in God’.
    It is as if everyone knows God is not probably real, but for some reason it is important to CLAIM that he MUST be real.

    It is one of the most bizarre discoveries I have made in my journey to Atheism and why I feel so much more honest today – and more hopeful! – than I ever did as a Christian. This faith stuff is nonsense.

  • Your comments have been thoughtful Max. I think you are right I also think people believe in the Belief of God and that is an important distinction to make. Although I doubt it is a distinction that someone like Julian will comprehend. It reminds me of the cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz, wringing his tail and saying “I do believe in spooks, I do, I do, I do”! I think one reason folks try to believe is Pascal’s Wager, afraid of what will happen if they don’t, but never think that an omniscient God could see right through them–whether they are sincere or not!

  • Max
    Needless to say, I disagree with most of what you have written here. There is a lot to respond too but I’m not sure that there is any point, since you seem exceedingly happy with your decision.

    I will multiply the questions instead.

    If their is a moral realm what is it made of? Is it material or immaterial? If we have a free will, which we can use for good or ill, is it natural or supernatural?
    And if we don’t have genuinely free will, why do we bother thinking about these things as we won’t have the freedom to accept good reason if we met it?

    If philosophy begins where religion leaves off, why the drive of the irreligious to superceed philosophy with scientism?

    If the case for cosmic design is so weak, why are those who deny it bound to postulate the existence of an infinite number of unobservable universes for that purpose?

    If the case for the resurrection so poor, why do so many scholars who deny it feel they have to believe that masses of people had vivid hallucinations that they met Jesus alive after his crucifixion?

    And yes, why were atheist so disappointed to find out that the universe had a beginning in the Big Bang,
    many now inclined to believe that universes just pop into existence uncaused from nothing?

    You ought to have ready answers to these questions, since you have bet your soul on the whole question.

  • Julian you really are having trouble here. You post questions as though there are only two answers, the one you prefer and one other. That is a sign of desperation. Atheists haven’t been disappointed to find out the universe had a beginning in the Big Bang, they have accepted Big Bang theory for a very long time. We still don’t know what set off the Bang, but we certainly know that it wasn’t done by your concept of God.As to those who met Jesus alvie after the crucifixion were they hallucinating OR were others simply telling good stories, fabricating their “evidence”? Cosmic design theory is weak on many counts, one being that this universe is actually not designed for life, only our planet is fit for life. BUT that doesn’t mean it was designed for life, most likely life designed itself (evolved) to fit the planet. Perhaps you should do some honest research. Scientism? Honestly is that the ONLY alternative to belief in God? A moral realm? Is that where you think morality comes from IF it doesn’t come from God? Free Will natural or supernatural? You will have to explain how it could even be supernatural for anyone sensible person to address that question. But perhaps you simply mean does it come from God or is it part and parcel of being human, it comes with the package? It comes with the package. We can choose to use it wisely or squander it.

  • Susan,
    If you want to respond meaningfully to these questions for Max you’ll have to respond to the questions as worded. You seem to be assuming that they are written as dichotomies, when they are questions about tenets that many non-theists feel compelled to accept in order to deny premises in various theistic arguments. Some non theists deny the other premises in these arguments, I was choosing the premise that I perceive as most commonly denied. For example: take the Kalaam cosmological argument

    1) Everything which begins to exist has a cause for its existence.
    2) The universe began to exist.

    Therefore, the universe has a cause for its existence.

    I find most non-theists accept premise 2, and therefore reject premise 1 lest they be forced to accept the conclusion.
    That is why I asked: “[why are] many now inclined to believe that universes pop into existence uncaused from nothing?”.

    Likewise the hallucination theory seems to be the favoured theory for non- theistic biblical scholars. Conscious conspiracy amongst the disciples is deemed unlikely by many scholars for various reasons that you can look into if you are interested.

    The only question that doesn’t seem to involve a mis-reading of my wording is about how free will could be supernatural. The answer is:

    1) the natural world behaves according to physical regularities of cause and effect or inherently random motions (as in Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle) (though this principle of inherent randomness is not thoroughly established).

    2) Genuine free will cannot be the necessary and unavoidable result of the natural chain of causation or of completely random motions, or a combination of the two.

    Therefore, genuine free actions , if they exist, cannot be natural phenomena, and therefore are extra-natural or supernatural.

    Note that this doesn’t imply that all or even many human actions are free acts of will or that any act is an act of pure will.

    And Susan, I’d appreciate a little less personal or ad hominem commentary on my mental state or motivations, it doesn’t add anything to the discussion. Though, you are a free person, and I’m not overly offended.

  • Besides anything, I am not here trying to prove theism but am asking why, if it is so irrational, are so many of it’s critics prepared to believe these other things in order to deny it? My question is fallacious, only if it is not true that many of the critics of theism hold these beliefs.

    For example, you might think that the alleged chance coincidence in this universe of the various cosmological constants and quantities, such as the strength of gravity, the strong and weak nuclear force and entropy do not need the multiverse hypothesis. Many non-theist who have researched the topic do.

  • Julian you didn’t ask in your first set of questions “why many believe universes pop into existence uncaused by anything.” Perhaps if you had your question would have made more sense. The claim that Atheists believe something comes from nothing is erroneous, MOST don’t believe that, that is a lie created by Christian apologetics argument, used to prove God exists as the cause of everything. IF you want to make statements about what Atheists believe you need to read their arguments not arguments from Christians. As I pointed out Most Atheists have accepted Big Bang theory for a very long time, they just don’t claim that God lit the fuse that set off the Big Bang! Free Will has nothing to do with the randomness in the Universe, only about what decisions we make or do not make. Human cognition is a complex mechanism and we as in Psychologists and Scientists don’t fully understand how it works. BUT that doesn’t mean they think that it is nothing more than the random firing of electrical signals releasing chemical signals unrelated to anything else that is happening. Researchers can predict which stimulit will light up which areas of the brain in most people. That shows that what is happening isn’t random. Most non-Biblical scholars accept that the Bible is a collection of stories and they fully understand the nature of stories. Now there are some Atheists who aren’t as intelligent as some of us and they might use the hallucinogenic theory but that is a fools argument, since it would assume that the Bible is either TRUTH or LIES. Something that is a story, is neither truth nor lies, it is simply make believe! THAT by the way, assuming there are only two choices, is one of the biggest mistakes made by the uneducated or those not prone to critical thinking and analysis. I’m sure you would apprectiate NOT having my side comments as to your mental state and abilities BUT honestly you make too many errors in your arguments and make foolish and unsubstantiated claims about Atheists. Sometimes the ONLY way to push someone past their complacency (to get them to address the flaws in their arguments), is to prod them where it hurts the most! You can quit responding anytime my comments get too annoying for you.

  • Multiverse theories have nothing to do with proving or disproving the existence of a Theistic God! They add more problems for Theists. But that is just speculating about speculations which proves nothing!

  • I’m a bit busy today, I’ll get back later. I will say, that this conversation is good because there is a good proportion of relevant to irrelevant responses, so there is, at least the hope of understanding one another.

  • I’m very familiar with the arguments of the more outspoken atheist philosophers and popularisers, not from second hand sources but from their own writings and words.

    When I characterise what many atheists are prepared to accept, I am not talking about the garden variety sort but the highly rational philosopher sort (this doesn’t include dabblers like Dawkins).

    For example few that I have read or heard on the subject of the Kalaam cosmological argument would accept the first premise (out of a sample of 20 or so atheist philosophers and physicists). This is because, being logically trained, philosophers know that if you accept the premises in a structurally sound argument, then you must accept the conclusion. So to believe that the universe has a cause of its existence is to falsify materialism, since all of the matter of this universe began at the Big Bang then the cause of the universe must be immaterial. I don’t know what the everyday atheist thinks about this, but it probably doesn’t concern them much. It does concern rational atheists and philosophical materialist in general because it weakens atheism and falsifies materialism.

    I encouraged you to look back at the wording of my earlier statement. I asked why WERE atheist disappointed to find that the universe had a beginning in the Big Bang. This is an historical claim. Up until the Big Bang discovery it was thought that the universe had always existed so premise 2 of the Kalaam argument could more easily be denied. I am not talking about modern atheists here.

    Your response to the free will question is based on a misunderstanding of my argument. I’m not claiming that free will comes from randomness, I am saying, on the contrary, that it can neither come from randomness nor immutable physical law, (i.e. the natural world).

    The hallucination theory is very commonly held by non Christian biblical scholars. Once again, I’m not talking about your average atheist down the street but those who study in the field (whom I would guess from my conversations seem to prefer to think of the resurrection accounts as myths developed by gullible ancient people. Probably because they are somewhere between 30 to 100 years behind the academic debate).

    The multiverse is postulated because of the incredible unlikelyhood of the cosmological constants and quantities being such that our universe could even produce atoms. If there are an infinite number of universes this explains naturalistically why we would have a universe with these constants and quantities without the need to posit design. I accept that those who suggest it are not trying to disprove design but are generally scientist rightly assuming methodological naturalism and at this stage it is the best they can do to provide a naturalistic explanation, which doesn’t bode well for naturalistic accounts of the seeming design at this level.

    As for the politeness question. You ought to consider that my view of your intellect may be equal to or even worse than yours of mine (I’m not saying that this is the case). If my view were such, it would be rude and pointless of me to say so, it wouldn’t further my case but, it would make me look silly and obnoxious. As I suggested, I don’t mind when it is useful to your argument, but I think that it’s best kept to a minimum. Then again, it’s your right to write what you like. If the conversation gets padded out with unsolicited psychoanalysis I’ll probably just drop it.

    My message to Max was not an attempt to prove theism but to deny his insinuation that it is grossly unreasonable, this is an absurd claim, for the reasons mentioned (amongst others).

  • Julian the more popular “Atheist” writers and philosophers don’t speak for All Atheists any more than more extremist Christians (TV pastors and hate mongers like Fred Phelps) speak for all Christians. You need to learn to separate out the “loud mouths” from the average Joe or Jane on the street.

  • Julian Ex-Christians, in my experience, are often more antagonistic in their views about Christianity than folks like me that were never Christians. Get over it. The “militant Atheists” often resort, in my experience, to straw dog arguments, they speculate about speculations, having no more PROOF of their positions than the Theist they are arguing against has about his position. Multiverse theory is speculation about speculation, nothing more. It neither proves nor disproves the possibility that a God of some kind existed at one time (maybe God is dead , is what went “bang” in the Big Bang and ceased existing) or that a God of some kind currently exists. We can however discuss, doctrines and dogmas, claims Theists make about God and the Bible (Theology) and whether such Theology is sensible or unsensible, rational or irrational (and by whose standards or determination of what makes sense, what is rational?) and whether such doctrines/dogmas should guide public policies that affect the lives of ALL people. Other arguments end up being pissing contests, and nothing more.

  • Fair enough Susan. Though, being democratically and classically liberally minded, I recognise that these public policy decisions will ideally express the wishes of the general public of a given country. What I think doesn’t seem to matter too much and nor should it. So long as a minority opinion isn’t forced by any means on the public, then the various customs, traditions, good or bad sense and moral values of the public will express themselves in the public sphere (for better or worse). This kind of discussions could be had in a different forum. It’s been interesting chatting anyhow, it might be time to let our musings rest in some data vault somewhere.

  • @Julian,

    Some of your questions do have answers:

    “If there is a moral realm what is it made of? Is it material or immaterial?”

    Realm? I don’t see a reason to think that morality is a ‘realm’.
    Morality is a decision.
    All I know is that if you hurt someone for no good reason you have acted in an immoral way. Most atheists understand that this is the best moral lesson – Do unto others as you would have done unto you (The Golden Rule).
    This requires no god and is the most ancient moral code – it predates Jesus by millennia.
    If you teach the Golden Rule to your children that does not make you a God, it only means you are teaching an ancient and effective morality which still works today.

    “If we have a free will, which we can use for good or ill, is it natural or supernatural?”

    Whatever free will is, I see no reason to believe it is ‘super’ natural. It is a philosophical question open to debate. God is not necessary for the question or the answer.

    “And if we don’t have genuinely free will, why do we bother thinking about these things as we won’t have the freedom to accept good reason if we met it?”

    Serious philosophers struggle with that question. But I don’t see a reason for a God to be connected to the question.

    “If philosophy begins where religion leaves off, why the drive of the irreligious to superceed philosophy with scientism?”

    Not sure what Scientism is unless you mean the ‘scientific method’ which is the application of critical thought and empirical evidence.
    Atheism only means one thing: Non belief in any Gods.
    Irreligious people may decide to connect to all sorts of other philosophies.

    “If the case for cosmic design is so weak, why are those who deny it bound to postulate the existence of an infinite number of unobservable universes for that purpose?”

    Interesting question. God may exist – I don’t ‘deny’ that it is possible. But there is no way for me to believe in it and no reason to believe in it. My lack of knowledge does not reflexively mean God must be behind all the Cosmos. I simply don’t know.
    But as i said – I do NOT believe in a God and I see no harm in rejecting that theory until further evidence emerges. I have seen no description of a god that explains anything.

    “If the case for the resurrection so poor, why do so many scholars who deny it feel they have to believe that masses of people had vivid hallucinations that they met Jesus alive after his crucifixion?”

    The Resurrection is a compelling story and nobody knows what really happened – the four versions in the Bible are very suspicious. I understand why people love the idea of it. When I was Christian the Resurrections was very holy to me.
    But many of Jesus’ teachings are very flawed and unhealthy.
    If I said to you that 5+5 = 42 you would have to dismiss my math skills completely. You would reject my math.
    Suppose I then said, “Wait, I rose from the dead so therefore I am right and YOU are Wrong,” would that change the math? would that change the value of my argument? of course not.
    Many things attributed to Jesus have been devastating to humanity and could not have been the work of an ‘omniscient’ being. It is impossible for example for a loving God to have uttered this sentence knowing it would lead to mass extermination of many peoples over the millennia:
    “Bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their king, and execute them in front of me.” – Jesus (Luke 19:27)
    No matter what the ‘correct’ context, Jesus clearly didn’t know that he was causing more trouble than he was solving with such a sentence.

    “And yes, why were atheists so disappointed to find out that the universe had a beginning in the Big Bang, many now inclined to believe that universes just pop into existence uncaused from nothing?”

    The origin of the Universe is a mystery to everyone. Not just Atheists or Religious people. Scientists are studying these things and learning more every day. I don’t see how you can claim that “Atheists were disappointed” in the Big Bang – it is a scientific discovery which has shed light on how the universe was formed but it is full of its own mysteries.

    “you have bet your soul on the whole question.”

    If God exists, and if God is good he will value honesty.
    I simply see no evidence, or reason, to believe in any God (there are thousands of religions) He will either forgive me for my honesty or he is an evil God not worthy of worship.
    No matter which is the true God most of the world is not believing in that God today – and God doesn’t seem to mind that everyone is so confused. And it seems clear that it doesn’t matter in the least.

  • Max,
    I have mentioned above that I put these questions to indicate that the question of God is not so open and shut as you imply.

    Scientism is a kind of epistemology that claims that we should only accept as true things that have been scientifically verified. It was proposed back in the early part of the C20th century and had a short first life. It was recognised to fail its own test and was therefore self refuting. It has reared its head again in this far more philosophically ignorant and specialised age. This is partly because philosophical materialism is riddled with philosophical problems and would like to rebrand itself as. ‘Science’.

    If you are up for a civil discussion on some of these issues, maybe you could look back to my syllogism on free will which is a bit further back in the thread. It seems that this one is key, since reason itself may depend on its answer. Show me the problem with the premises or the structure of the argument. It was hastily worded but I largely stand by it.

    It really gets to the issue of whether a materialist (someone who believes there is only a natural and no supernatural world) can consistently hold to the doctrine of the freedom of the will. If they can’t, this is devastating for that philosophy. It doesn’t prove theism but undermines the favourite rival philosophy of atheists, which in turn makes theism look comparatively strong.

    This argument is a good one to focus on because the others are well covered on the internet. If you are interested in them, there are some podcasts on the reasonable faith website that cover these other arguments. If you listen to those podcasts, you can find countless debates between William Lane Craig and prominent atheists where they debate these arguments, and then there are websites dedicated to refuting the arguments. If you find a problem with those arguments, you can write an email to Craig on his website.

    Alternatively, if you email me I’ll send you some summaries of these arguments that I wrote for my brother. In the meantime, I’d be interested in hearing your response to that free will objection to materialism.

  • @Julian,

    I don’t worry about Free Will.
    If free will is ‘GIVEN’ by a creator then it is not free will, as we would have no choices in the matter.

    Alternately, if free will was NOT GIVEN by the creator then we cannot have it yet again: our fate between heaven and hell is foreordained and God knew it all along – sin therefore does not exist.

    So on the question of whether God is real – which is the only question I care about – free will does not help answer the question. The God YAHWEH is particularly implausible because of His unique absurdity.

    The name of this absurdity is Original Sin….

    A sin without volition is a slap at morality and an insolent contradiction in terms: that which is outside the possibility of choice is outside the province of morality. If man is evil by birth, he has no will, no power to change; if he has no will, he can be neither good nor evil; a robot is amoral.

    To hold, as man’s sin, a fact not open to his choice is a mockery of morality. To hold man’s nature as his sin is a mockery of nature. To punish him for a crime he committed before he was born is a mockery of justice. To hold him guilty in a matter where no innocence exists is a mockery of reason.

    To destroy morality, nature, justice and reason by means of a single concept is a feat of evil hardly to be matched.

    Yet that is the root of Yahweh, Christ and Allah. It is nonsense (as in ‘it makes no sense).

  • Whoa, jumping ahead a bit there. I wasn’t trying to prove the Christian God but to – far more modestly- highlight a problem with a major contending philosophy, materialism.

    Since you don’t seem interested in the details, I’ll leave this question alone.

    You seem to have a pretty specific church background with its attendant doctrines.

    So what system of thought or world view have you taken on? Is it atheism as your pseudonym suggests or is it agnosticism. If it is atheism and one which seems indignant at the concept of a moral realm (which, by the way doesn’t refer to a place where morals live but an objective moral reality) then where did you get the high horse from? Doesn’t everything live to produce viable offspring? Cooperation may be useful to that end but it’s not binding.

    It seems like you feel certain things are really wrong but your world view can’t mesh with or justify your feelings.

  • @Julian,

    The time to believe in something is when there is evidence for it.

    As for Morality…. it appears to be something we are born with. God beliefs are clearly irrelevant to moral behavior. People tend to want to do good, to be compassionate and helpful and to aspire to work together most of the time. We are also selfish but compassion and empathy can be motivated by selfish impulses. This is well-understood. Psychopaths are the rare exception and religion doesn’t help them anyway.

    World view?
    I agree with this:

    “Skepticism is my nature
    Free thought is my methodology
    Agnosticism is my conclusion
    Atheism is my opinion
    Humanism is my motivation.”
    – Jerry DeWitt (former preacher turned Atheist)

    I think there is no meaning TO life.
    But there is a lot of meaning IN life.

    Joy can come from helping others and there are plenty of people in need of help. Plenty of worthwhile problems to solve.
    Joy OF life is valuable enough – culture, literature, music, art – there is joy in being with friends and sharing life together. I see no benefit in lying to ourselves that we need more than that.

    Human rights, human dignity and honest civilizations are only possible with the ultimate abandonment of religions.

    Notice that Atheism is a non-belief in a God – not a claim that God is not in existence.

    God may exist, but it is completely irrelevant to my life as I see no place where God intercedes or directs or matters. He does not answer prayers and he does not solve problems. God shows no ability to intercede either.

    But if God exists he must not mind being ignored. There are thousands of religions. If one of those religions is true then all the others are not true. So most of humanity already does not believe in the one true God!

    If God doesn’t care, why should I?

  • Dang, I’ve had it with this interface, it just wiped everything that I had written. I’m not going to rewrite it. The upshot was you are dignifying your taste and the taste of the majority of your peers by calling it morality.

    Actual morality must be objective in the sense that it wouldn’t matter if culture changed to condone the holocaust, it would be wrong regardless of what people thought of it.

    Likewise our culture has shifted to accept the killing of unborn children but this does not change the moral status of the act. Presumably your and your peer’s taste doesn’t disagree with this change.

    I’m not saying here that the bible is our guide to morality. I am saying that for their to be anything like objective morality an objective and external mind is needed to perceive and retain it. If somebody instantly destroyed the earth and everything on it including himself he wouldn’t have done anything wrong since there would be nobody to know it was wrong. Or would there?

    Anyhow, I’ve just about had it with this interface. It keeps on wiping the dialogue box. It’s quite annoying.

  • And I very much dislike not being able to edit typos or things autocorrect has done like confusing ‘there’ with ‘their’.

  • @Julian,

    I don’t believe in objective morality. That is a fantasy of purity.
    For example, it is not always wrong to kill, to lie or to steal.

    Certainly no religion on earth is helpful finding objective reality in any case – as they are all man-made. And man is imperfect.

    Generally it is immoral to do unnecessary harm. So I am against abortion but I recognize that the state cannot force women to bear children. Life is simply not fair and it is not perfect and no philosophy can fix that.

  • I hear this kind of stuff all the time. ‘I don’t believe in objective morality, but I still believe in morality’. ‘Objective’ means observer independant. It is tantamount to saying ‘I don’t believe in an actual right or wrong, I just call my personal preference morality’. The fact is anyone who doesn’t believe that something is right or wrong irrespective of their taste doesn’t believe in morality.

    You betray this tendency to absolutise your taste by saying harm is wrong. You mean really wrong independant of what the whole world thinks?

    I’m not trying to define what constitutes a moral or immoral act but to discuss whether such things can actually exist without an objective observer who is fit to judge and know. You might here want to go on about different religions and their different views. This would be irrelevant to what I am saying, since that would be relevant to defining what is good and not establishing the preliminary question of whether there is such thing as ‘good’ to define.

    I repeat, I am talking about whether actual morality exists sans God. I am not talking about what we think is right and wrong. These eventually become entwined but it is clumsy to go on calling your taste ‘morality’.

    On a completely different topic, I’m glad that you find babies being killed in utero distasteful. Do you think a mother ought to be held to account by the state for starving her baby to death by denying breast milk?

    Funny how we think that sex is a toy that shouldn’t be bound to marriage because it is a victimless act. We now have 50 million victims.

  • … You realise that the passage you gave, Luke 19:27, is Jesus speaking as a character in a parable, right?

    Try Luke 6:28 on for size.

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