The rainbow flag is a highly recognized symbol for the LGBTQ community. Photo by Ludovic Bertron/Creative Commons

Most evangelical college students appreciate LGBT people even if trustees don't

(RNS) — In September 2018, when Azusa Pacific University removed a clause from its student standards of conduct prohibiting romantic same-sex relationships, it appeared that a new day was on the horizon for LGBT people at evangelical colleges and universities.

That hope was short-lived.

A few weeks later, the school reversed course, saying the university's trustees had not approved the changes.

“We pledge to boldly uphold biblical values and not waver in our Christ-centered mission,” the trustees said in a statement. “We will examine how we live up to these high ideals and enact measures that prevent us from swaying from that sure footing.”

Though the reversal was striking, what happened at Azusa Pacific was just the latest chapter in a growing tension between trustees at evangelical institutions and students who are embracing progressive values in greater numbers.

Sophomore Hannah McElfresh told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune after the reversal, “We can only dream to love like Jesus did, and I think I’m just recently starting to say that I’m 100 percent OK with being Christian and part of LGBTQ community because I’ve been loved, especially by people at APU who may not even know I’m a part of this.”

Disputes like the one at Azusa are unlikely to go away, according to a new analysis of data from the Interfaith Diversity Experiences and Attitudes Longitudinal Study, an ongoing nationally representative study we are heading up, tracking a cohort of students from 122 colleges and universities from fall 2015 to spring 2019.

Our research teams at the Ohio State University and North Carolina State University work in partnership with Interfaith Youth Core, a national collegiate organization striving to make interfaith cooperation a social norm. At the beginning of their first year in 2015, 20,436 students took the survey; 7,194 of those same students took the survey again at the conclusion of their first year, in spring 2016.

The same cohort will be surveyed again at the end of the students' fourth year this spring, 2019. The students represent four-year colleges and universities that are both public and private, faith-based and not faith-based, small and large, from every region of the United States.

A new analysis of data from the study reveals that, at the outset of their first year of college in 2015, 51 percent of students attending evangelical institutions agreed that lesbian, gay and bisexual people make positive contributions to society. This number grew to 66 percent when these students were surveyed again a year later.

“Appreciative attitudes toward LBG people increased between Fall and Spring for first-year students at Evangelical Colleges and Universities.” Graphic courtesy of Kevin Singer

 This image is available for web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

A similar pattern was discovered in evangelical college and university students’ attitudes toward transgender people; 42 percent of students affirmed the positive societal contributions of transgender individuals in 2015, a figure that increased substantially to 64 percent in 2016.

“Appreciative attitudes toward transgender people increased between Fall and Spring for first-year students at Evangelical Colleges and Universities.” Graphic courtesy of Kevin Singer

 This image is available for web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

When asked whether LGBT people are ethical, whether they have things in common with LGBT people and whether they have a positive attitude toward LGBT people, over the course of the first years, their answers shifted in the range of 5 to 14 percentage points.

Sixty-seven percent of students “agree” their campus is a welcoming place for gay, lesbian and bisexual people. A slightly smaller share of students — 62 percent — feel their campus is welcoming to transgender people.

Still, other types of institutions in the U.S., religious and nonsectarian alike, are some 20 percentage points ahead when it comes to welcoming the LGBT community. Eighty-seven percent of students attending private nonsectarian institutions say their campuses are welcoming places for lesbian, gay and bisexual people (and 78 percent say their campus welcomes transgender people).

Large numbers of students attending public and mainline Protestant institutions also agree their campuses welcome the LGBT community. Differences in LGBT inclusivity by institutional religious affiliation have been noted in other national assessments as well.

“Evangelical campuses are least welcoming to LGB and Transgender students compared to other types of campuses.” Graphic courtesy of Kevin Singer

 This image is available for web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

But if trustees are under the impression that incoming students aren’t expecting that their campus will be welcoming toward LGBT people, this simply isn't the case.

IDEALS data reveals that a whopping 85 percent of incoming students to evangelical colleges and universities find it at least moderately important that their campuses are welcoming toward LGBT people, with 44 percent finding it very important. That only 67 percent of these students actually perceive their campuses to be welcoming toward LGB people and 62 percent toward trans people, however, suggests that students’ expectations of an inclusive campus are not being met.

Could this explain the uptick in clashes between trustees and students over the last few years?

If they want to meet students' expectations, trustees will first need to come to terms with their changing campuses and how their position as trustees might prevent them from fully seeing or appreciating their students’ changing values regarding LGBT issues.

These changing values may also be held by their staff and faculty, which could explain why students’ attitudes toward LGBT people have improved after one year in college.

Trustees may have to become proactive, rather than reactive, toward supporting the well-being of LGBT students on campus.

Too often, evangelical institutions have taken a defensive posture toward LGBT issues or not gone far enough to make students feel LGBT students are welcome. Some have removed overtly discriminatory language from their policy statements without moving to acknowledge the presence of LGBT students or clarify their value-add to campus.

This increasingly common maneuver is thought to protect institutions from compromising their eligibility for federal aid. But it can backfire, as we can surmise from Azusa Pacific University's snafu.

Finally, trustees should seek meaningful common ground with their students on LGBT issues. As IDEALS has shown, a majority of their students agree that LGBT people are ethical and make positive contributions to society; the students also say they have things in common with LGBT people and have a positive attitude toward them. We see no reason to believe that trustees at evangelical schools cannot also assent to these statements without forfeiting their beliefs and values, unless those beliefs and values are inherently slanted against LGBT people.

We hope that trustees at evangelical colleges and universities recognize the opportunity to help create the welcoming campus for LGBT people that their students are expecting but not necessarily perceiving right now.

Furthermore, we hope that they would begin to see their students’ growing appreciation for LGBT people as an asset to be celebrated rather than a threat that they must defend themselves against.

(Kevin Singer is a doctoral student in higher education at North Carolina State University, where Alyssa N. Rockenbach is a professor of higher education. Laura Dahl is a doctoral candidate in the Ohio State University's higher education and student affairs program. Matthew J. Mayhew is the William Ray and Marie Adamson Flesher professor of educational administration at the Ohio State University. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily represent those of Religion News Service.)


  1. “We pledge to boldly uphold biblical values and not waver in our Christ-centered mission”

    In typical fashion, the trustees are being highly selective in what they choose to regard as “biblical values,” which also include polygamy, slave-holding, women remaining silent in church, and not eating pork, shellfish, or cheeseburgers. Meanwhile, Christ, who is supposedly at the center of their mission, said absolutely nothing about homosexuality. As usual, the kids have it right and the old geezers who are hanging on to their old-time religion for dear life, have it wrong.

  2. Jesus, a healthy man of 30, had never been married (very unusual for the time) when he took up with running around with a bunch of young men, telling everyone to love each other. It is possible that Jesus was gay. If we found new information that confirmed this, do you think half the world would throw away their faith in Jesus?

  3. Indeed. Perhaps there’s a reason the Bible mentions the apostle John as “the ONE whom Jesus loved.” If Jesus loved all his disciples in a brotherly way why is John singled out In a special manner? Maybe the truth has been hiding in plain sight for two thousand years.

  4. The problem is that the Gospels were written decades after his death, not written in Jesus time, nor in his town, nor in the semitic language that he would have used to speak to his people. The Gospel writers had no way to document these stories, starting with Mary being a virgin at the time of Jesus birth.

  5. Oral tradition is all anyone had back then. Written tradition lagged far behind since so few people knew how to write. But I thought of another line from the Bible that adds to my suspicion that Jesus was gay: some of his very last words on earth spoken as he hung from the cross:

    “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son. Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.” (John 19:26-27)

  6. Of course it is “possible” that Jesus was gay. If this happened to be the case, and happened to be confirmable (which is unlikely), the only people who would throw away their faith in Jesus would be those who now say they have it while they don’t really anyway.

  7. It’s more probable that someone who writes “Of course it is ‘possible’ that Jesus was gay.” has a couple of bolts loose.

  8. Apparently someone along the line has failed to communicate to these students what the word “love” means.

  9. You can bet that Trustees who balk (or retreat) on this are either swimming personally in the Trumpian mindset or responding to people yelling in their ears who are swimming in the Trumpian mindset. Any such person is not really a trusty Trustee.

  10. Honestly, it all comes down to your opening quotation there.

    If you, or your church, or your college, or your charitable agency, publicly identifies as “Christian”, then obey your state and national Truth-In-Advertising laws. Do the quotation and do it right, or call the cops and have the

  11. Oh (synonym for Hades) No!! Wot kind o’ mess is this??

    (And people wonder why the so-called “Gay Theology” never got any real traction in America. Gotta do better.)

  12. John he Baptist never married.

    Jesus never married.

    Paul never married.

    Jesus and Paul both spoke highly of celibacy.

    Sounds like they were promoting the disciplined ascetic/spiritual life styel long espoused by Christianity, rather than homosexuality.

  13. According to the Bible, Christians are not required to abstain from eating “pork, shellfish, or cheeseburgers”, nor are they required to never cut their hair, nor are they required to practice polygamy. Get a clue, already!

    But yes, Jesus said absolutely nothing approving of same sex congress. The only sex He is known to approve of was heterosexual marriage, though He also spoke highly of celibacy.

  14. Luke had a very reliable way of knowing that Mary was a virgin – he actually spoke to her.

  15. More likely they just are following the Bible and traditional Christian teachings, as Christians have done for the past 2000 years.

  16. And of the rich young man, it is said that “Jesus looked at him and loved him”. (Mark 10:21).

    So, does that mean that Jesus was two-timing John?

    Or does it mean that people then did not equate “love” with “having sex”, as do so many degenerate moderns, who must sexualize everything?

  17. When will these people-pleaser wannabees surveying the students or writing this article ever learn? LGBT Evangelicals don’t care to be “welcomed” and “appreciated” by Non-LGBT Evangelicals. All they want is to be “affirmed” and “validated”. Which is impossible. But even if it’s possible, either way, there are only two outcomes from it, and they’re irreconcilable to each other: Either these LGBT Evangelicals end up leaving Azusa Pacific University because LGBT-ization of the campus will never be “affirmed” and “validated” there. Or these Non-LGBT Evangelicals end up leaving Azusa Pacific University because LGBT-ization of the campus is finally going to be “affirmed” and “validated” there.


  18. “he latest chapter in a growing tension between trustees at evangelical institutions and students who are embracing progressive values in greater numbers.” Once was, one went to school to learn.

    “that I’m 100 percent OK with being Christian and part of LGBTQ community ” Homosexuals are not Christian

    “2015, 51 percent of students attending evangelical institutions agreed that lesbian, gay and bisexual people make positive contributions to society.” I’m sure they are able to, but that will not get them into a relationship with Jesus

    “If they want to meet students’ expectations, trustees will first need to come to terms with their changing campuses and how their position as trustees might prevent them from fully seeing or appreciating their students’ changing values regarding LGBT issues.” Makes no difference, if the student wants to learn at their school, suck it up until you leave, or go elsewhere.

    “Trustees may have to become proactive, rather than reactive, toward supporting the well-being of LGBT students on campus.” Supporting the “well being” does not mean the same as approving of their sin

    “Finally, trustees should seek meaningful common ground with their students on LGBT issues. ” So when pedophilia or murder, or adultery become “socially acceptable” to the younger people, trustees should seek common ground?

  19. The Little FriendlyGoat

    Evangelical they told me
    Pa trump pum trump trump

    To hear that makes me pee
    Pa trump pum trump trump

    My finest wrath I bring
    Pa trump pum trump trump

    And call him ding-a-ling
    Pa trump pum trump trump

    Da trump pum trump trump
    Da trump pum trump trump

  20. What it shows is that the homosexual advocates cannot differentiate between love and sex.

  21. Surely you have to be joking. Luke said that he talked to Mary, and she told him the she was a virgin at the time of Jesus birth. Is that what you call that verifiable documentation. Today, DNA would be verifiable documentation. You would not believe your own mother if she told that she was a virgin, but you are willing to believe the fantasy in ancient text is absolute and indisputable. I would not want you sorting out facts from fiction on jury duty.

  22. If you take this in conjunction with the fact that there is no woman in Jesus life that he spent the first 30 years as a carpenter with his earthly father, and have no intentions of marrying or starting a family. The point is that we just do not know very much about Jesus.

  23. Huh?
    Sounds like the good son who wanted his Mom cared for after his death.
    You make many crazy statements; but this is one of your better ones.

  24. We know very little about Jesus because he never wrote anything in his life time, as far as anyone knows. And no one else ever wrote anything about him in his life time. For thirty years, Jesus did not live a spiritual lifestyle, he simply never pursued a woman as far as we know.

    Jesus was just an everyday Jew until he was 30. Marriage took place at a young age for the ancient Jews. Most rabbis proposed 18 as the most appropriate age for men to be married, but it wasn’t uncommon for them to be younger, especially in times of peace. Young women were married almost as soon as they were physically ready, approximately age 13.

  25. Christians DO NOT bash, diss, persecute, discriminate against or marginalize other people. Biblical Literalists do, apparently, but real Christians don’t. This is at the heart of whether a Trustee at a church school is trusty or not. Any of them at a college level who base anything whatsoever on their claims that Genesis is real are flat-out liars and they know it. The only reason this nonsense is still going on is a political environment that encourages theological lying to citizens as a form of hypnotism.

  26. I don’t mean to burst anyone’s bubble, but we need to be honest here. The Bible doesn’t call John “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” it is the Gospel of John that refers to John, I think 6 times, as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” So if you ascribe to the Apostle John as the author of the Gospel of John, then that is John’s description alone of his own relationship to Jesus. A bit self-serving.

  27. There is a whole group of conspiracy theorists who tie Jesus with Mary of Magdala. Personally, I don’t think that he was gay, nor that he was married. I think as many Jewish men of his time, he earned a living as a carpenter and also studied the Torah and other Jewish texts available in order to become a knowledgable and respected teacher.

  28. Jesus did not live a spiritual lifestyle

    That’s a guess on your part and I think that you’re wrong. He was obviously learned in the Torah and was skilled in teaching, as his parables attest. I think that he lived a very religious and spiritual lifestyle.

  29. I think that you are confused. Paul, not Jesus, spoke highly of celibacy. And he did so because he believed that the current age was fast coming to an end and his concept of the Realm of God was at hand. We are 2K years down the road from Paul’s time and we’ve obviously reevaluated celibacy for the general population since then.

  30. I don’t think that pedophilia or murder will ever be socially acceptable, to folks of any age. As to sex, most young folks don’t care to dictate the privacy of other folks bedrooms, whether it’s pre-marital, extra-marital or a combination of the two.

  31. Please give up attempts at poetry. Even elementary poetry escapes your grasp.

  32. “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – : Theodore Roosevelt,”Citizenship in a Republic,” Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

    Take that, you cold and timid soul.

  33. No one believed same sex marriage would ever arrive, either.

    These are students at evangelical colleges, not a random sample of the population.

  34. They are working on pedophilia as we speak, David. Murder is what they do to little babies in the womb. As to sex, you’re right, you don’t think.
    NAMBLA marched in several “pride” parades. Harry Hay wore an “I’m with NAMBLA” t-shirt
    The chairman of the HRC – co founder – tried to buy a 15 year old that he and his homosexual lover were charged with assaulting.
    The courts wouldn’t allow him to turn the assault into a trick.
    Another 20 year member of the HRC was charged with child porn. It won’t be long before they reunite. Immorality is immorality
    Smell the coffee

  35. “Once was, one went to school to learn”

    According to the survey some learned tolerance.

    Equating LGBT with pedophilia and murder is shameful.

  36. There is a difference between tolerating someone’s choice of immorality and needing to uphold it in the new idea of what “tolerance” is.

  37. ‘Yo Kevin, Alyssa, Laura & Matthew – start your make-believe revolution without me!

    (Too busy still trying to figure out how many Millennials it takes to change a light bulb.)

  38. Not true. And this isn’t the first time or nation to embrace same sex marriage. It’s disgusting that you compare same sex marriage to pedophilia or murder.

    I realize who they are. But unlike their parents’ generation, they don’t feel a need to be peeking in everyone else’s dormrooms to check on if they are having sex!

  39. Isolated insidents and individuals, not an entire community. Suffice it to say: sex with minors is wrong. It’s a crime and anyone caught, charged and convicted of such a crime I hope go away for a long, long time, gay or straight.

    Heterosexuals are caught, charged and convicted of sex crimes every day. I don’t view them as a trend or an agenda by straight folks. I just mark it up to bad folks everywhere.

  40. Same sex marriage in the United States was rejected in most states where it was voted upon. Alternatives such as civil unions was the preferred accommodation.

    It was not embraced, it was ordered by courts.

    The discussion is not about peeking anywhere.

  41. It is a fair guess, because if Jesus could read and write, then why is it that he never wrote anything? Jesus spent his first 30 years as a carpenter with his earthly father in the very small town of Nazareth. Again, my guess is that, other than never having a wife, he lived like the rest of his tiny Jewish town.

    Luke indicates that Jesus Christ ventured beyond this village at least once, when he was twelve years old to travel with his parents, family, and friends to the Holy City of Jerusalem (Luke 2:42-51). More than fifteen years pass before the next event recorded about his life is mentioned (Luke 3:23). It was at the time that John preached in the wilderness of Judea and baptized at the Jordan River, and Jesus was baptized. The Greek noun baptismos is a term for ritual washing in Greek language texts of Judaism during the Second Temple period, such as the Septuagint. Both of these nouns are derived from the verb baptizō, “I wash” transitive verb), which is used in Jewish texts for ritual washing.

    Baptism or Tvilah, a Jewish purification ritual of immersing in water, which is required for, among other things, conversion to Judaism. It did not make Jesus more of less special.

  42. What other texts were there to study in the tiny town of Nazareth 2000 years ago? All Jewish religious texts were written in Hebrew, a semitic language. Why were all the gospels written in Greek and none in a semitic language that Jesus would have used to speak to his people. especially the Jews of the tiny town of Nazareth???

    You believe that Jesus studied the Torah. Rabbinic writings indicate that the Oral Torah was given to Moses at Mount Sinai or 1200 years earlier, and later written down by multiple authors of fiction, like the world and everything in it was created in six earth days. That Adam and Eve were the first two humans, which is blatantly false, etc.

  43. According to Papias – a direct disciple of the Apostle John – the Gospel of Matthew was originally written in Hebrew. Papias also tells us that Mark served as Peter’s interpreter, and gathered Peter’s testimony about Jesus into the Gospel of Mark (in Greek). Greek was the lingua franca of that time, which is why the Gospels – even when originally in Hebrew like Matthew – were preserved in Greek, which had a much wider audience.

    Further, not all Jewish religious texts were written in Hebrew. Some – such as the Wisdom of Solomon – were written in Greek, and even those that were written in Hebrew were translated into Greek (The Septuagint Bible), since a large number of Jews at that time were no longer fluent in Hebrew.

  44. Only 20% of Americans approved of interracial marriage in 1967 when the Supreme Court ruled in “Loving v. Virginia,” the case that finally allowed interracial marriage in all fifty states.

    Enough said.

  45. Tolerance is a start. Many find that gays are regular people and that changes attitudes. Higher education causes some to question previously held ideas. Society is changing and younger Christians are part of that change – even some Evangelicals.

  46. Irrelevant, there is no comparison between inter racial marriage and same sex marriage.

  47. The gospels were written in the life times of the eyewitnesses. Matthew and John were disciples of Christ, Mark wrote down what Peter told him and Luke interviewed the eyewitnesses.
    There is nothing like this for anyone from the ancient world.

  48. What??? So the ancients would need DNA tests to prove that their children were theirs?

  49. The best answer that I have read is that this peculiar argument that Matthew was originally written in Hebrew, was the language in which Matthew originally composed his Gospel was first raised in the 16th century by the Dutch theologian and patristics scholar Desiderius Erasmus. He reasoned that, since there is no (as in zero) evidence of an Aramaic or Hebrew original of Matthew’s Gospel, it is futile to argue that the work originally appeared in Aramaic or Hebrew .

    However the same argument can be used that there is no evidence that of the original Gospel in Greek, because the earliest manuscripts that we have of any of the books of the New Testament are in Greek, yet not a single manuscript is an original. They’re all re-writes. There is really no way to document what you believe to be the true words of God or Jesus.

  50. How so? The apostle John wrote his gospel. That means he was an eyewitness to Christ in what He said and did.

  51. There are no original works from the ancient world. All we have are copies.
    The New Testament is so well copied that scholars are confident we have 99.999% of the originals.

  52. I suspect a lot of homosexuals are so fixated on their homosexuality that they think everyone who is single is homosexual. They read back into historical documents their homosexual views.

  53. Tolerance in the sense that you’re using it means living civilly in civil society.

    That does not include changing religious beliefs, ceasing to proclaim those beliefs in the public square, or ceasing to oppose laws which would alter society in ways inimical to those beliefs.

    Demanding that would be prim facie intolerance.

  54. Drawing an analogy and equating are two different things.

  55. If they are Evangelicals, Christ will teach them what He wants them to think – school or no school

  56. Yes, an entire community. There was some lesbian group supporting Hay and his friends.
    ‘Careful studies indicate that cases of paedophilia occur with more frequency amongst same-sex couples than heterosexual couples. Although the homosexual community comprises a tiny minority of the population, this minority is responsible for one-third of all cases of child molestation in the US.[26] According to a Senior Fellow for cultural studies at the Family Research Council, Dr. Timothy J. Dailey, ‘the evidence indicates that both homosexuality and paedophilia are intersecting categories that include many different kinds of sexual behaviour’”.[27]

  57. “There are no original works from the ancient world” Without samples of the originals, how could anyone know if they were 99.999%? Please think before you post. Repeating your indoctrination is not helpful.

  58. Absolutely, as people have been sneaking into the tent of others since the beginning of time.

    Every child has just one biological father. But sometimes you need a paternity test to identify the real father. And certain legal situations involving custody and child support require PROOF of fatherhood.

    Later in life, an adult may become curious about his biological roots and need to verify his birth father.

  59. Would that be a complete game changer for you? Everything that happened to Jesus was supposed to have been God’s will, from his birth to his torturous death. Who are you to argue with God’s will. You should actually be happy that Jesus suffered and died in this manner as it was God’s divine plan.

  60. You do not know that, as in your words– “There are no original works from the ancient world” –Where are the written testimonies of the eye witnesses? I would love to have you in a Court of law.

    God spoke to Moses when he was alone, and he spoke to Jesus when he was alone, and spoke to Muhammad when he was alone. No eye witnesses! I guess you can throw the Adam and Eve story out the window for lack of eye witnesses.

  61. It sounds like it would be best if the evangelical boards of most of theikr institutions shut those institutions down if they want to be true to their vision of Christ’s life and teachings.

  62. Papias was a disciple of the Apostle John himself, and recorded what he had learned from that Apostle and others of the earliest Christians. He is a surer guide than the guesswork of a Dutchman 15 centuries later.

    You expect to find original autographed copies of ancient texts?


  63. Ouch! “Teach them what he wants them to think”? As opposed to thinking for yourself?

    Doesn’t mean they will listen. Remember the parable of the sower and the seed?

  64. “That does not include changing religious beliefs, ceasing to proclaim those beliefs in the public square, or ceasing to oppose laws which would alter society in ways inimical to those beliefs.”

    The First Ammendment guarantees you those rights.

  65. 1. Paul himself realized that celibacy was not for “general population”. That didn’t change his high estimation of it.

    2. Jesus has the same attitude to celibacy as the Apostle Paul: “The one who can accept this should accept it”. (Mathew 19:12)

  66. What are you basing that on? Many scholars believe all of the canonical gospels were written anonymously and only given names in the 2nd century.

  67. The facts though support the facts that the gospels were written in the 1st century. No facts prove otherwise.

  68. In case you didn’t know, when one becomes a Christian, we follow Jesus. Hope that helps you

  69. We do know that the gospel accounts are eyewitness accounts. People saw and heard what Christ said and did.
    To deny this, you would have to deny all of ancient history.

    As for the gospels holding up in a court of law consider:
    Testimony of the Evangelists by Simon Greenleaf (1783-1853)
    “Greenleaf, one of the principle founders of the Harvard Law School, originally set out to disprove the biblical testimony concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He was certain that a careful examination of the internal witness of the Gospels would dispel all the myths at the heart of Christianity. But this legal scholar came to the conclusion that the witnesses were reliable, and that the resurrection did in fact happen. “

  70. They didn’t have access to DNA back then. So I guess they didn’t know who their kids were.

  71. Scholars can take the copies and determine what the original was with about 99% accuracy. Don’t be foolish and try to speak of things you are ignorant of.

  72. Some ideas as so stupid that don’t deserve any discussion. That is one of them.

  73. Christians believe that the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) were written by those whose names appear in the title of the books. Most also believe that they were written in the same order as they appear in the Bible.

    The truth is, all of the author’s names are sheer guesswork, or pious fraud. The titles “According to Matthew,” etc., were not added until late in the second century. All four Gospels were originally anonymous, none claim to be written by eyewitnesses, and all contain giveaways that they were written generations later, by well-educated Greek-speaking theologians, and not Aramaic speakers. If you have any contradictory evidence, please post it.

  74. In your mind no, in the minds of the majority, yes.

  75. Peeking in bedrooms is the concept of trying to dictate sexual morality.


  76. Nope.

    Peeking into bedrooms went adios with Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003).

    Marriage is whole other kettle of fish. While it may suggest the individuals will engage in physical congress, it does not mandate it.

    It is pretty clear that the states had the authority to regulate marriage, so Kennedy had to invent a new right – the right to be happy.

    Fortunately he did not go so far as to invent the right to be deliriously happy. Who knows what that would have led to?

  77. You don’t prove something is true with an unknown negative. We have no idea if Jesus ever wrote or didn’t write anything. If he did, we just don’t have it, which isn’t proof of anything. However, we know that he could read the scriptures, as he is recorded as having publicly read from Isiah in Luke 4.

    Luke also records that Jesus was a very learned child as his parents found him on that trip to Jerusalem speaking and holding his own with the fpolks in the Temple.

    I’m not sure why you’re going off on a tangent about baptism, it has nothing to do with Jesus being educated.

  78. I don’t you’ll be able to support that one.

  79. Your suspisions are wrong, we know that we are a minority and that just because someone is single has nothing to do with whether they are gay. This stupid specualation is how falsehoods against us are perpetuated.

  80. Christians believe that the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) were written by those whose names appear in the title of the books. Most also believe that they were written in the same order as they appear in the Bible.

    Some Christians believe that, perhaps even a majority, but not all Christians believe that, especially in the US & Europe. Stop making false blanket statements about a topic of which you appear ignorant.

    Why do I need to post any evidense, you haven’t, you’ve just made silly statements about what you believe to be true without any proof.

  81. Even if they had a few hundred followers, which I doubt, the ideas of the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis 70 years ago are not embraced by the majority of the world-wide LGBTQ community today.

    As to your Dr Daily, PhD in Religion, he seems to be an expert in so many things well outside his education. He pontificates about LGBTQ folks making to claims with no basis in science or research to Big Foot and other sci-fi fictitious ideas.

    I would trust “research” from the hate groups Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council as far as I could wad up their papers and throw them.

    Moving on. Ciao, Sandi in HELL.

  82. You are the one going on about marriage. You’ve sidetracked the discussion. The article is about college students accepting their LGBTQ peers and not caring what the statements of faith or morality they are required to sign to attend most of these schools dictate. That morality requirement is the peeking into dorm rooms.

    You need to go find another conversation to interject your marriage boilerplate. You make this arguement about the Obergefell decision every chance you get to cut & paste it in.

  83. Same stupid retort every time you have nothing realistic to say.

    You seem to think that you can read minds every time that you make blanket statements of fake fact about us and our community.

  84. Most of your comments are pointed at you thinking you read minds. I know you don’t, but you have yet to learn that.

  85. As you get crankier, you get zanier.

    You say the article is about college students accepting their peers, but you inserted peeking in bedrooms.

    No, a morality requirement is NOT peeking into dorm rooms.

    It is a statement of religious and/or moral belief.

    If your school has one, and you violate it, you suffer the consequences.

    Anything else before you got to bed or hang upside down in your cave?

    The Obergefell decision, like Roe v Wade, was an unvoted seismic in American life. It cuts across a lot of discussions.

  86. This is “good news”, the Gospel in action. One can only hope the younger generations do not imbibe the homophobia of their elders.

  87. Rick beat you with this by 4 hours!

    Jesus said it once in answer to a question, Paul said it multiple times to no ones question.

    Moving on!

  88. He certainly won’t. It isn’t something provable.

  89. If only we had Jesus’ DNA, but traditional belief and lack of scientific evidence present us an impossible task. I embrace the traditional belief of Mary’s virginity because of its importance to Catholic doctrine. That said, I’m reminded of ancient Christian doctrine that human bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, a belief that might offer a new perspective on Jesus’ divinity.

  90. You get more senseless and idiotic the more you keep at it.

    Sandi in HELL is confused, it’s you who thinks that he reads minds.

    Just shut up. Call it quits. It’s boring responding to your zaniness. You are now in ignore mode.

  91. “Scholars can take the copies and determine what the original was with about 99% accuracy.” What is your source for that claim? Please be specific

    I asked a question and you dodged it by saying “Don’t be foolish. Again, the question is: Without samples of the originals, how could anyone know if they were 99.999% correct? Please be specific

  92. Out of his orifice, because he has no historical or scientific documentation, or he would have posted it.

  93. In some cases, like to day, they did not know without a paternity test.

  94. You embrace the traditional belief because it was implanted in your identity since birth, like others of different religious philosophies —

    Buddhist Sacred Texts: The Sutras

    Christian Sacred Texts: The Bible

    Hindu Sacred Texts: The Vedas or “Books of Knowledge”

    Islamic Sacred Texts: The Quran and Hadith

    Jewish Sacred Texts: The Tanach, Mishnah, Talmud and Midrash

  95. “What it shows is that the homosexual advocates cannot differentiate between love and sex.”

    Pure bunkum.

  96. And we know them thar “homo-sex-u-alls” don’t sacrifice to help others, huh?

    (sarcasm alert)

  97. Yes, Catholicism is the Christian faith tradition in which I was raised.

  98. So if the others above do not accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, they are not getting into heaven??

    What do you believe from the Old Testament??

  99. Random Stop Check. Pull over. Answer this simple question: That word you used just now appears almost 100 times in the bible, but what does “gospel” mean according to all these scriptures? Stay there until you produce the only 1 right answer. Your time’s up in 48 hours. GO.

  100. Because we do not have the originals, so how would you know very much about the facts? There is no guarantee the original were documented facts.

  101. Hey David – you do realize you’re dealing with the Evangelical contingent of “God Hats Fags!” on RNS, right? They have nothing but deep-seated rage for gay people. You can’t reason with them – they’re blinded by their hate and they will pronounce the judgement of their God on you and damn you to hell for challenging them. You are wasting your time.

  102. I am not proving anything, because we just don’t know enough, I am just asking logical questions and making some assumptions based on biblical text, which you couch as “going off on a tangent” in an attempt to minimize my response.

    Jesus taking a Jewish ritual cleansing with John the Baptist is a second hand account of when Jesus may have felt some kind of calling. Prior to that we have very little.

  103. So was Hitler, and during WWII Europe, when tens of millions of Catholics were killing each other and Priests were routinely executed, the Vatican remained neutral. How did this impact your faith, or the thousands of Priest that have been indicted over the last few decades for sexually targeting the innocent? Or the suppression of science for hundreds of years: New York Times–ROME, Oct. 30, 1992— More than 350 years after the Roman Catholic Church condemned Galileo, Pope John Paul II is poised to rectify one of the Church’s most infamous wrongs — the persecution of the Italian astronomer and physicist for proving the Earth moves around the Sun.

    7 November 1992 Vatican admits Galileo was right
    Galileo before the Holy Office —Joseph-Nicolas Robert-Fleury
    In 1633, the Inquisition of the Roman Catholic Church forced Galileo Galilei, one of the founders of modern science, to recant his theory that the Earth moves around the Sun. Under threat of torture, Galileo – seen facing his inquisitors – recanted. But as he left the courtroom, he is said to have muttered, ‘all the same, it moves’.

    Last week, 359 years later, the Church finally agreed. At a ceremony in Rome, before the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Pope John Paul II officially declared that Galileo was right. The formal rehabilitation was based on the findings of a committee of the Academy the Pope set up in 1979, soon after taking office.

    What other factual information has the Vatican tried to suppress or omit from ancient texts over the centuries?????

  104. Here is one of many ways we know that gospel writers got the facts right:
    Classical scholar and historian Colin Hemer chronicles Luke’s accuracy in the book of Acts verse by verse. With painstaking detail, Hemer identifies 84 facts in the last 16 chapters of Acts that have been confirmed by historical and archaeological research.
    As you read these 10 of the 84 historical details, keep in mind that Luke did not have access to modern-day maps or nautical charts. Luke accurately records:
    1. the natural crossing between correctly named ports (Acts 13:4-5)
    2. the proper port (Perga) along the direct destination of a ship crossing from Cyprus (13:13)
    3. the proper location of Lycaonia (14:6)
    4. the unusual but correct declension of the name Lystra (14:6)
    5. the correct language spoken in Lystra—Lycaonian (14:11)
    6. two gods known to be so associated—Zeus and Hermes (14:12)
    7. the proper port, Attalia, which returning travelers would use (14:25)
    8. the correct order of approach to Derbe and then Lystra from the Cilician Gates (16:1; cf. 15:41)
    9. the proper form of the name Troas (16:8)
    10. the place of a conspicuous sailors’ landmark, Samothrace (16:11)

  105. Keep in mind that there are no originals of any ancient documents from the ancient world. All we have are copies of copies. The earliest copy we have of Plato’s works is 1000 years after he died. Yet scholars are confident they have a good idea what he wrote by it. The NT on the hand has more copies than all the ancient world combined. We have a fragment of the gospel of John that is about 120.
    When copies of documents are similar scholars and they can date these copies they can have a very good idea what the originals said by comparing these manuscripts.

  106. Locations are real, but the words spoken and the fantasy stories are just guesswork and fabrications.

  107. We have no idea what was added or what was omitted. We do not even know the date of Jesus birth. Plato;s works are great works whether he wrote them or not.

  108. Leviticus 18:21-22–” …I am the Lord. Thou shalt NOT lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” This scripture is for all of you perves on here who try to justify your sins. Remember Sodom and Gomorrah. Elagabalus and peepsgueek top the list, as they both lied about Jesus Christ the Savior and Redeemer of this corrupt world. “Surely I come quickly…Amen” Rev. 22:20… Burn, perves, burn!!!

  109. Where do you get these facts? There aren’t any documents from the ancient world for instance. What is your source and how do you define documents. We still have Egyptian hieroglyphs, ancient artwork, etc. Also, what is your point that the NT has been reproduced more than all ancient documents combined and how do you even know that? Do we really have that many ancient copies of the NT books in comparison to other ancient documents? It seems like you are throwing out some exaggerated claims.

  110. Yes, aside from thinking you are psychic, senseless double talk is what we get from you.

  111. Praise the Lord and pass the propane! I can feel the hate you have.

  112. Politics is how you live your life, not who you vote for.

  113. “Leviticus 18:21-22–” …I am the Lord. Thou shalt NOT lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” This scripture is for all of you perves on here who try to justify your sins. This Biblical Sophistry (BS) is needed by all of you bigots on here to justify your sinister autocratic nature.

  114. …or not!! Biblical TRUTH is a beautiful thing!!

  115. HATE the sin, love the sinner. The problem is when the sinner doesn’t repent, and commits sin for too long, he becomes the sin, and belongs to Satan. He has crossed the line, and Jesus cannot save him. BELIEVE IT–!

  116. Lots of fairy tales are “beautiful things” (including some in the Bible), but the fairy tales you referred to as “Biblical TRUTH” are not among them.

  117. I distinguish belief from historical facts such as you’ve mentioned. The latter do not affect my Christian faith rooted in the Gospel. To borrow from the late Catholic theologian Richard McBrien, my faith is reasonable, not rational.

  118. I embrace the doctrine of universal salvation, which has never been condemned by the Church of Rome. I base my conviction on my belief that God’s love is unconditional, “no strings attached”.

  119. To what assertion are you referring — (a) that LGBTQ persons cannot distinguish between love and sex, OR (b) that such persons are incapable of sacrificing to help others in need?

  120. “Jesus cannot save him”???????????


    The name “Jesus” means “God saves”, not “God saves if…”

    Shame on you.

  121. “Gospel” = “Good News” (of our salvation).

    We have already been saved.

  122. ” If Jesus loved all his disciples in a brotherly way why is John singled out In a special manner? Maybe the truth has been hiding in plain sight for over two thousand years.” Homosexual advocates cannot tell the difference between love and sex

  123. SORRY to burst your bubble, but HELL is full of unrepentant sinners. Jesus cannot and will not save anyone in their sins. HIS sacrifice and death are only for those who have repented and sin no more. Did you think you could be a bad boy all your life and go to heaven? That is HERESY, shame on you.

  124. The theologian is entitled to make a mistake. It is not even reasonable to believe every word of the Gospel, because the Gospel is deeply flawed and re-written too many times. It does not even make sense. We do not even know the date of Jesus birth. If the gospel writers actually knew Jesus that well, the would have documented his birthday instead of commenting about Mary being a virgin at the time of his birth. The faith is not even reasonable .

  125. Your words: God’s love is unconditional, “no strings attached”.

    Matthew 25:41
    “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

    Matthew 25:46
    “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

  126. McBrien, au contraire, did not “make a mistake”. I don’t rely on “every word of the Gospel” to embrace the Christian faith in the Catholic tradition. I am not a literalist. My faith is reasonable.

  127. I embrace the doctrine of universal salvation based on relevant teachings about God in the Gospel.

    To your second question, I believe in God.

  128. Peruse the Linns’ GOOD GOATS: HEALING OUR IMAGE OF GOD that addresses the idea of God as Punisher.

  129. I’ve never heard of the term “homosexual advocates”. I’m unaware of anyone “advocat[ing]” that people become homosexual. On the other hand, I’m well aware of “advocates” encouraging LGBTQs to somehow become heterosexual, or deny their God-given sexual orientation, or refrain from intimate sexual relations.

    With respect to Jesus and John, you claim, “Homosexual advocates cannot tell the difference between love and sex.” Apparently, neither can you.

  130. “Christ will teach them what He wants them to think – school or no school.”

    Are you differentiating “thinking” from “believing”. They are not the same.

  131. Becoming a Christian does not eliminate a person’s right to think.

  132. Well Joe – smell the coffee – homosexual “advocates” would be those who advocate homosexuality – a person who publicly supports, upholds, backs.
    God would not make someone in a manner He intended to let them die in Hell as a result. My God loves homosexuals and wants them to repent

  133. “…but HELL is full of unrepentant sinners.”

    And you know your view to be true — HOW? Been there? Saw the damned? Felt the heat? Recognized anyone? Bring back any souvenirs?

    “Jesus cannot and will not save anyone in their sins.” Again, HERESY. The name of Jesus means “God saves”. Period. It does not mean — as you’d prefer — “God saves if…” In Luke, we learn it is God who searches for sinners, forgives and celebrates their having been “found” and restored to life, and thus heals them, thereby enabling sinners to repent. In Matthew, we learn that God is generous to sinners and saints alike. We learn of God’s wish that we initiate unlimited forgiveness, no strings attached. Yet, despite Jesus’ teaching about unconditional divine love, there are some folks who *believe* — but cannot “know” — that hell “is full of unrepentant sinners.” In this warped view, God turns out to be a hypocrite: Do as I the Lord tell you to do, not as I the Lord will do to you.

    “Did you think you could be a bad boy all your life and go to heaven?”

    Nope, not at one time. I subscribed to the idea of God being two-faced: please Me and go to heaven; upset Me and go to hell. Then I studied the Gospel, i.e., the heart of all Christian scripture. I learned otherwise: God makes my repentance possible. If I repeatedly sin, God will repeatedly forgive me. Being “lost” in sin, I cannot find my way back to God. It is God who exercises the initiative to find me, bring me home (in this life, as well), forgive me, and heal me. Being imperfect, I’m bound to sin again. Being perfect, God is without limit in finding and forgiving me. I no longer hold resentment toward God as I did earlier in life. Love cannot be grounded in FEAR. If I must FEAR God, I most certainly will resent God for telling me to forgive, without any corresponding behavior on God’s part. Jesus’ name, meaning “God saves”, will be a lie.

    Your belief limits God’s love. It makes a hypocrite of Jesus.

    “That is HERESY, shame on you.”

  134. Says a FEAR-based non-believer in God’s unconditional love.

    “JESUS” means “God saves.” Period. No qualifications.

  135. Thanks for your clarification. That said, the term ‘advocate’ in this context should not be construed as recommending or promoting homosexuality — anymore than it should be construed as recommending or promoting heterosexuality.

    “God would not make someone in a manner He intended to let them die in Hell as a result.” I fully agree. God is the ultimate Author of different sexual orientations. Thus, it is inconceivable that God would allow a LGBTQ person to “die in Hell”. God is Love. Human love has physical and psychological limits. Divine love has no limits. From the Gospel, we learn that God does not condemn and will not allow sinners to condemn themselves. We learn that God is not a hypocrite. What God tells us to do, God will also do.

    My God loves everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, and makes it possible for *all* sinners to repent. How? By God’s initiative to find and reconcile sinners otherwise “lost” in their sins.

  136. Again, WRONG ANSWER.

    But alright, let’s go for Best of Five next. Careful: that means 3 WRONG ANSWERS and you’re out! OUT as in:

    (1) “The sons of the kingdom will be cast OUT into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”!

    (2) “In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrown out.”

    Source: (1) Matthew 8:12. (2) Luke 13:28.

  137. By golly, you’re a hard person to convince about God’s unconditional love.

    RE: your quotes — (a) hyperbole, (b) hyperbole.

    You cannot love God, despite any protestations of yours to the contrary. You cannot love somebody who says one thing (love your enemies; forgive them, etc.) but will do just the opposite to you as an enemy.

    You’re not demonstrating FAITH.

    You’re demonstrating FEAR.

    Not healthy.

  138. Jesus’ words to the woman caught in adultery were: “Go, and sin no more…” (John 8:11) What Jesus meant was that “you committed adultery but I do not condemn you, BUT DO NOT do it again.” (meaning if you do it again, you condemn yourself, and I cannot save you…)

    Joseph, you excuse your sins by saying that you are imperfect, and bound to sin again. God does NOT find you nor forgive you in your sins. You have to find Him and seek his forgiveness, in your sins, through serious repenting.

    Serious repenting means that HE may forgive you, but you DO NOT keep repeating the sin. To do so makes YOU the hypocrite, (and shameful heretic) NOT Jesus, nor myself.

  139. God is just a concept, and you can make this concept into anything that you want to believe, hence the hundreds of religious beliefs around the world.

  140. “God is just a concept..”

    We disagree. See my past exchanges on other threads about the matter.

  141. you made the first point, not me
    No, Christ taught that homosexuals would not see the kingdom of Heaven
    ” From the Gospel, we learn that God does not condemn and will not allow sinners to condemn themselves” You’ve never read the Book of Revelation?

  142. no one said it did, but we “signed on” to follow Jesus

  143. On what basis do you disagree? Please provide “specific” contradictory and “irrefutable” evidence.

  144. I going to burn in the everlasting hellfire because I disagree?

  145. Your interpretation of John 8:11, i.e., “I cannot save you”, smacks of heresy since Christianity embraces Jesus as “the Savior”. The condemnation in John pertains to stoning, in this case by males conveniently overlooking their own moral failures. If there is any *earthly* condemnation, it most certainly is in Mt 23:27-28 where Jesus condemns the hypocritical behavior of the religious leaders who teach their people by word and example, including the propriety of stoning sinners. You are contradicting Jesus’ teaching about unconditional love and forgiveness, an attribute of divine mercy (eternal forgiveness) in Mt 5:43-48 and 18:21-22. Genuine mercy, i.e., divine mercy, imposes no conditions.

    Of course, I’m “imperfect”. Are you, Mr. Warren? When you assert that “God does NOT find [us] nor forgive [us] in [our] sins,” you are precisely contradicting Jesus’ summation of divine forgiveness in Luke 15:32. Throughout the chapter, it is God who goes forth to “find” us sinners (sheep, coin, prodigal) and to bring us home and celebrate reconciliation, thereby healing us and enabling our repentance in the first place. By scriptural definition, a sinner is “lost” in his or her sin. One who is “lost” cannot find the way back home. Only God can reconcile (find and restore to life). Your repentance is made possible by God, not by you. No earthly or demonic power can overpower God. God continues to forgive without limit or any initiative on our part.

    You are correct in that one condemns oneself. This is the mystery of evil, but God conquers it throughout our lives because Jesus, Son of God, is “the Savior” throughout and at the end.

  146. Where is God’s love to be found in condemnation? Even the oldest Western Christian church upholds one’s God-given right to follow one’s conscience. CCC-1782 is especially relevant here: “Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. ‘He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters.'”

  147. They are getting into heaven. One can be “lost” because of sin (cf. Lk 15) or because of different conviction. God is Love. Divine love, per the Gospel=”Good News”, does not condemn (cf. John 8:11), nor will divine love let us condemn ourselves (cf. Lk 15:32). (My citations are ones that stand out in terms of divine love and mercy.)

    God is, and God is Love.

  148. My faith does not ultimately depend on rational evidence. Thus, our use of the word “faith” as in “I take it on faith”. Again, see my past comments on the subject with another blogger (or was that blogger you???).

  149. My “first point” is that the Bible does not recommend or promote any particular sexual orientation. (I was refuting your attempt to argue otherwise.)

    Christ taught no such thing about LGBTQ persons “would not see the kingdom of Heaven.”

    I’ve perused the Book of Revelation, but I rely on the Gospels because they “are the heart of all the Scriptures [in that] ‘they are our principal source for the life and teaching of the Incarnate Word, our Savior.'”

    Do you not accept the supremacy of the Gospel over all other Judeo-Christian scripture?

  150. You contradict yourself:

    + I wrote earlier, “Becoming a Christian does not eliminate a person’s right to think.”

    + You then reply, “[N]o one said it did, but we ‘signed on’ to follow Jesus.”

    In other words, you agree that “a Christian” has the right to think “but…”

    As Dr. Phil has occasionally observed, “When someone says ‘I agree, but…’, that person is saying ‘I disagree’.”

    If you disagree that God gives us the capacity (hence, the right) to think, so be it. In any event, Jesus illustrates our God-given right to think, i.e., use common sense, in Luke 14:1-6 and Mark 2:23-28. Addressing real human need trumps observance of divine obligation at times.

  151. What is the basis of your faith? Was it just religious indoctrination or did Jesus actually walk up and talk to you? Please give an honest answer.

  152. It was indoctrination that made sense. It was reasonable. Later in life, it was even appealing because I finally learned that God really is Love itself and, as such, cannot condemn or let us condemn ourselves.

    Even Vatican II taught that God is present in mysterious ways among all people of good will.

  153. I know it was indoctrination, but I have this same love and do not need ancient texts to convince me Jesus or God to convince me what love is. Why do you need an ancient concept to tell you what it is?

  154. Again, God is just concept of a being, and every religion has a different concept.

  155. Yes, different religions, i.e., faiths, have different understandings of the Ultimate Uncaused Cause. Unlike you, I believe God is real, not “just concept”.

  156. Why do I “need ancient texts to convince me Jesus or God” is love? Because scripture reinforces what I might have concluded otherwise — even I were not a Jew, Christian, or Muslim. Scripture makes sense, and its portrayal of God is appealing. If, as I believe, God is Love, then — based on my own experience and the observations of others — people cannot help but gravitate toward (if not to) God. For non-believers, I often refer to Vatican II’s NOSTRA AETATE-2.2, to wit: “The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions [“Hinduism…Buddhism…other religions”]. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men.”

  157. Religious indoctrination — basic and adult — along with reflection on what I concluded made sense and was appealing (I like Love).

  158. You have formed a final conclusion without any real basis other than the mostly fantasy and fictional characterization in ancient text written and re-written numerous times. I would hate to have you on jury duty.

    Psychology Today: “Gut instinct, while useful, can also form a threshold diagnosis that becomes an immovable anchor, thwarting full analysis.”

    “I came across the website of J. Scott Hornoff, who’d once been convicted of murder. He spent more than six years in prison before being exonerated, and he’s writing a book about his ordeal. What’s unique about his tale is that he was a detective himself. Like his fellow officers, he’d once trusted his gut. But then he discovered that his accusers’ gut instinct about him had been dead wrong.”

  159. “The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy” ——We have all seen what 2,000 years of Christian love looked like in Europe, with all the wars, pogroms, genocides, inquisitions, slave trading, and all the conquers of the New World flew the flag of Catholic Kings while decimating that native tribes, all with the approval and blessing of the of the Church.

    “The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy” ——

    New York Times–ROME, Oct. 30, 1992— More than 350 years after the Roman Catholic Church condemned Galileo, Pope John Paul II is poised to rectify one of the Church’s most infamous wrongs — the persecution of the Italian astronomer and physicist for proving the Earth moves around the Sun.

    7 November 1992 Vatican admits Galileo was right
    Galileo before the Holy Office —Joseph-Nicolas Robert-Fleury
    In 1633, the Inquisition of the Roman Catholic Church forced Galileo Galilei, one of the founders of modern science, to recant his theory that the Earth moves around the Sun. Under threat of torture, Galileo – seen facing his inquisitors – recanted. But as he left the courtroom, he is said to have muttered, ‘all the same, it moves’.

    Last week, 359 years later, the Church finally agreed. At a ceremony in Rome, before the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Pope John Paul II officially declared that Galileo was right. The formal rehabilitation was based on the findings of a committee of the Academy the Pope set up in 1979, soon after taking office

  160. My belief has nothing to do with “gut instinct” or scientific/rational method.

  161. Human history doesn’t always reflect Jesus’ teaching to love one’s neighbor, does it? The problem/mystery is human evil, not divine teaching. Failure to live up to a teaching does not per se render said teaching wrong, does it?

    Regarding the Galileo affair, the Church did eventually “rectify” a wrong. So, do we judge the Church on the basis of what happened 350 years ago or what occurred in 1992?

  162. The Church has a long and brutal history and we judge the Church by its history and how slow it is to come around to any fact that might conflict with the Church’s teaching. And if the Church was not still dealing in evil, you would not have so many pedophile Priests being defended in Court with Church money and so many victims being paid off, while teaching that sex outside of marriage is some kind of sin, especially with innocent children. I would probably be within the facts if I said that most priests and nuns are having some kind of sexual relations during their career.

  163. Baptism doesn’t make people decent. Belief is by faith, not by baptism. Baptism is preceded by faith. Baptism admits one to a church community. We are all sinners in one way or other. This fact does not invalidate Jesus’ teaching to love God and neighbor. We fall short of the mark, some more so than others. God forgives.

  164. Again, God is just concept. If you got lost in the jungle, no one up above cares if you eat the animals or the animals eat you, because everything has got to eat. If a poison snake bites you, do you want me to take you to a church or to a hospital? Man makes his own moral rules, with or without the concept of God.

    I love all my neighbors, and I do not need ancient text to tell me to do that.

  165. I *believe* your capacity to love all your neighbors is a gift from God.

  166. I “understand” your concept, I do not buy any of it. It is a behavior my parents taught me through example. The thugs down the block had a different example growing up.

  167. If you don’t “buy any of it”, so be it. Example is certainly important and not to be denied or downplayed. That said, non-believers have “embraced religion” in ways that can only be attributed to the example of others or to divine mystery. I have heard it said that faith is a gift and that a relationship with God requires two parties, namely, God and the person (any relationship, of course, requires the participation of both parties). As far as I’m concerned, the Good Lord loves you, regardless. You’ve already been “saved”.

  168. Then you admit that is it all just learned behavior, and that God is just a concept. Muslims pray to God five times a day for favor and guidance. How much of Islam are you buying? For them, the concept of God and what God expects of them, is something very different.

  169. No, I don’t think belief in God is “learned behavior” as used in psychology. Furthermore, when I use the phrase “learned behavior” in this context (as a courtesy to you), I think of religious doctrine reinforcing and giving greater context to what can be seen in everyday life: the kindness of others, the beauty of the natural world, etc. In other words, human experience provides the basis for acknowledging the “good” in creation; religion can add reasonable meaning and hope to the picture.

    I know from observation that there is good in Islam as there is in other world religions. I also know there is human evil in them. Because I am not a student of Islam, I cannot elaborate on this religion. That said, I see no inherent conflict between the Judeo-Christian portrayal of God and the Muslim portrayal (see, for example, the “Names of God” at You claim, “For [Muslims], the concept of God and what God expects of them, is something very different.” I disagree, and let’s leave it at that.

  170. “I don’t think belief in God is “learned behavior” ” Then you are in denial. It is that simple!

    “I see no inherent conflict between the Judeo-Christian portrayal of God and the Muslim portrayal”
    Key word “portrayal” — Definition: a depiction of someone or something in a work of art or literature.
    –God is just a concept of an almighty being.

    To others concept of God is– “arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

  171. “The 9 Times MLB Teams Came Back From 0-2 Deficits In Best-Of-5 Series”, CBS New York, October 11, 2017:

    “Here is a look at all nine times that teams pulled off the improbable feat: … [1] 1981 NLDS, Dodgers Over Astros … [2] 1982 ALCS, Brewers Over Angels … [3] 1984 NLCS, Padres Over Cubs … [4] 1995 ALDS, Mariners Over Yankees … [5] 1999 ALDS, Red Sox Over Indians … [6] 2001 ALDS, Yankees Over A’s … [7] 2003 ALDS, Red Sox Over A’s … [8] 2012 NLDS, Giants Over Reds … [9] 2015 ALDS, Blue Jays Over Rangers”.

    Yours, however, is a Gospel-less, 0-3 Deficit!


  172. “It is that simple.”

    You’re entitled to your opinion with which I disagree.

    “Key word ‘portrayal’ — Definition: a depiction of someone or something in a work of art or literature.”

    Your definition supports my earlier assertion. Thanks.

    “To others concept of God is — ‘…'”

    If you prefer to understand God as depicted by the negative portrayals quoted, so be it. I’ll go with the definition/description of God in 1 John 4:8, to wit, “God is love.”

    Hang in there. God loves you. Always.

  173. JOSEPH JAGLOWICZ: “Off your meds?”

    HpO: “Off the kingdom of heaven?”

    (Source: Matthew 23:13. Apparently “scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, [have] shut off the kingdom of heaven from you; nor do [they] allow [you] who are entering to go in.”)

  174. How ever you want to depict the concept of God, Santa Claus, Hercules, is fine with me. Love is another concept that we haggle over– from tough love to spoiling the child by giving them to many material things to show your love.

    And you are wrong again, as I have been to war (love of Country) and never once saw a sample of God’s love. The same concept of God even devised a divine plan to have his own son brutally murdered for your sins. Is that something that looks good on the resume’ of the Almighty, who created us in His image???????

  175. “Love is another concept that we haggle over…” Sadly, you are correct. The Linns’ GOOD GOATS: HEALING OUR IMAGE OF GOD delves into this matter.

    If you “never once saw a sample of God’s love” in war, I suspect there are other veterans who did see love in war, and I’m not referring to “love of Country” here. I hope you find peace.

    I reject the erroneous notion that “God even devised a divine plan to have his own son brutally murdered for [our] sins.” This idea was not held by the earliest believers but would enter Christian doctrine soon enough, regrettably. I recommend Jaroslav Pelikan’s THE CHRISTIAN TRADITION: A HISTORY OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF DOCTRINE, Vol. 1: THE EMERGENCE OF THE CATHOLIC TRADITION (100 – 600).

  176. The followers of this body of work are sorely lacking in first hand knowledge and evidence of the doctrines of Jesus. Just more well written opinions and analysis on someone that we know very little about, which is the life of Jesus of Nazareth. All second hand information from his virgin birth going forward.

  177. True, “we know,” as you assert, “very little about…the life of Jesus of Nazareth.” That said, Christians know enough about his ministry stressing the importance of loving God and neighbor. The canonical gospels were not composed and massaged by different storytellers and later writers to serve as authoritative biographies of the man. They were composed over time to convey divine teaching from a figure whom Christians believe to be the second person of the Trinity. To reemphasize a point you conveniently overlook, we are stressing *faith*, not (in this instance) biography.

    You write, “Jesus [sic] own people, the Jewish scholars, are not buying these stories.” To which I respond, “And?” If Jews including “Jewish scholars” do not embrace Christian doctrine, that is their God-given right, a right finally acknowledged at Vatican II. If, in following your conscience, you cannot believe in God or are skeptical about God’s existence, the oldest Western Christian church recognizes your right to be an atheist or agnostic. God works in mysterious ways. Speaking of Buddhists and Hindus, Vatican II taught, “The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens *all men* (Nostra Aetate-2, emphasis added). “Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. ‘He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters'” (CCC-1782, quoting in part Dignitatis Humanae-3).

    I’m familiar with the basic history of Islam’s spread throughout the Near and MIddle East. You note that “a Christian Arab cannot even gain citizenship in Saudi Arabia.” Years ago, I dated a Catholic Arab woman born and raised in Bethlehem, part of the State of Israel. I learned about discrimination faced by Arab people in what was supposedly their own country. In this part of the world, there’s a lot of blame to be shared by all, whether Muslim, Jew, or Christian.

    “Is their faith stronger than yours?”

    I could care less. I embrace the Christian faith and acknowledge others’ right to embrace their respective faiths.

  178. What you are saying is that we have no free will. Is this what you believe?

  179. We’re discussing different meanings of FEAR. You demonstrate not grasping this difference. I’m referring to good ol’ fashioned FEAR, the kind that can scare someone into “caving in” to a bully, the kind that prompts someone to give excuses for another person’s behavior in order to “keep the peace in the family.” I’m not referring to the biblical meaning of the term.

    Good try, anonymouse, but no cigar.

  180. I do not accept the so-called “traditional” understanding of “free will”. A person is truly “free” when s/he is living in a way pleasing to God. A person is “lost” (and not “free”) when s/he is caught up in sin. Luke 15’s three parables from Jesus demonstrate this point. One who is “lost” and, therefore, not “free” cannot extricate him/herself from the wilderness of sin. God, not the sinner, exercises the initiative to find and reconcile him/her (v. 32). It is only then that a sinner can express repentance.

  181. Yes, I agree with that, but that is not what I meant.

    I am asking about your beliefs which seem to indicate God would save us whether we wanted to be saved or not.

  182. Help me understand where you are coming from, because I don’t recognize your Christology.

    Are you a member of the Catholic Church?

  183. I left the Catholic Church just over 12 years ago because I did not want to support/fund the direction set for it by Pope Benedict. I am age 70, soon to be 71. I’ve been a churchgoer all my life, have 16 years of Catholic schooling. I strongly endorse the teaching and direction of Vatican II. I am moderate in the grand scheme of things, but — after much study, time, and reflection — I have come to support women’s ordination, abortion only to save a woman’s life, and same-sex marriage. My father was Catholic, my mother Protestant. On my Catholic side, I had three ordained clergy, all of whom taught in seminary and one of whom (a great uncle) became head of his religious congregation in Rome. I remain a Christian and an unaffiliated Catholic. I would be willing to return to the Church of Rome someday if I were to see it move forward in its doctrine and discipline. I support ecumenical relations among Christian churches and communities, and I endorse the development of positive interfaith relations between Christianity and other faiths.

  184. I think God will save everyone, regardless, because God is Love itself. I’ve finally concluded (based on scripture) that God will neither condemn anyone nor let anyone condemn themselves. For me, Luke 15 and other passages about God’s generosity toward saints and sinners alike, as well as Jesus’ instruction to initiate unlimited forgiveness toward “enemies” et al, inform us that the doctrine of universal salvation is truly Christian in its orthodoxy. It stands to reason, then, that one who is a sinner or unbeliever is “lost”, albeit in different ways. The Gospel (“good news”) was meant to be shared. I cannot see our Creator=Love condemning somebody because the person did not believe (for whatever reason) or could not believe (out of ignorance). I distinguish between the doctrines of universal salvation, which has never been condemned by Rome, and apokatastasis, which has been criticized/condemned in various quarters of Christianity (as I understand it, the latter doctrine holds that God must save the fallen angels as well as all humanity).

  185. Do think Christ could or would save someone against their will?

  186. Where do you get this notion of forward meaning materialism? From modernism? Liberalism? It’s not a Christian notion.

  187. I don’t think anyone encountering God=Love would reject salvation. I think your question is moot.

  188. It’s not moot. You are avoiding it. The truth is, he is a gentlemen. He knocks, he invites, he doesn’t bust the door down, or force you to attend the feast. This is why he pled with us. Our free will was a gift. It is the only soil love can grow in.

    Some people do not want God’s love, and have set themselves against it and Him. Perhaps you are one of them.

  189. What I mean is, why does forward = materialism to you. This notion is not anywhere in the faith.

  190. Yes, it is moot. Luke 15 is metaphor that demonstrates God pursuing folks who are (in this instance) “lost” in sin. The greater lesson is God seeking, finding, and saving all “lost” souls., i.e., those who do not know the Judeo-Christian-Muslim God, the “One True God”.

    You claim, “Our free will was a gift.” As traditionally understood by you and others, it cannot be a “gift”. The traditional meaning of “free will” does not support the doctrine that “God is Love”. If God is Love, God would not “gift” us with the capability to sin and, thus, condemn ourselves unilaterally to damnation or be condemned by God to damnation.

    Some people do not accept the view that God’s love is unconditional. Perhaps you are one of them. Sad.

  191. Your theology is very strange, and not Orthodox at all. Love requires free will, there is no other way around it.

    Unconditional love alone does not save us. It requires relationship which requires our participation. Love requires voluntary participation.

    Is this why you left the faith?

  192. Which one? Materialism?


    Definition of materialism
    1a : a theory that physical matter is the only or fundamental reality and that all being and processes and phenomena can be explained as manifestations or results of matter (see MATTER entry 1 sense 2)
    scientific materialism
    b : a doctrine that the only or the highest values or objectives lie in material well-being and in the furtherance of material progress
    c : a doctrine that economic or social change is materially caused
    2 : a preoccupation with or stress upon material rather than intellectual or spiritual things
    materialism, hedonism, and the overriding quest for personal gratification
    — A. M. Schlesinger, Jr.

  193. My theology is quite “orthodox” (lower case). It may or may not be “Orthodox” (upper case); I am not a member of the Orthodox Christian communion.

    You assert, “Love requires free will…” For me, love (upper or lower case) is self-sacrifice, which is initiated by the lover toward the loved. This understanding is supported by the Gospel.

    You contend, “Unconditional love alone does not save us.” We disagree. You have contradicted yourself. If divine love is unconditional, there is no precondition on our part to be saved. The name “Jesus”, as I’ve noted on various threads, means “God saves”. It does not mean “God saves if…”

    You continue, “[Unconditional love] requires relationship which requires our [“voluntary”] participation.” Yes, all love requires voluntary participation. In Luke 15’s three metaphorical stories, there is no relationship when the sheep leaves the flock, the coin is misplaced, the prodigal son goes off to a life of debauchery. These parables demonstrate God’s unconditional love because it is God who *initiates* restoring relationship with sinners.

    You ask, “Is this why you left the faith?” I’ve never left the faith, i.e., Christianity. I left the Church of Rome. Be careful — and respectful — in your comments. OK?

  194. “Which one? Materialism?”

    No, “forward meaning materialism”, the term you introduced earlier.

  195. That’s not a term.

    I will try again.

    The question is:

    Where did you get the notion that “forward” = materialism?

    (“Forward” was the term you introduced.)

  196. You introduced the phrase “forward meaning materialism”. I introduced the term ‘forward’, to wit, “I would be willing to return to the Church of Rome someday if I were to see it move forward in its doctrine and discipline.” My statement has nothing to do with “materialism”. It relates, instead, to my hope that the Church of Rome will progress to a more Gospel-centered understanding and application of God’s unconditional love. This direction would influence various aspects of church doctrine and discipline.

  197. I can love my son unconditionally. That doesn’t mean he will love me back, and if he doesn’t, then we are not in loving relationship, no matter how much I love him.

    He may still look like me, but through a series of his own free decisions, he may choose to become nothing like me. He may still walk around with my image, but act nothing like me.

    Salvation requires our participation. Just like the Eucharist requires our participation.

    It sounds to me like you have your own personal theology. I don’t recognize this from either of the ancient churches.

    What then does salvation mean to you? I don’t understand.

  198. Progressivism, then? Materialism? Modernism?

    That is what moving forward means to you?

  199. One thing I’ve learned over recent years is that various “isms” have different meanings to different people. That said, the term ‘progressivism’ in the Church of Rome is associated with Vatican II’s primary theme of ecclesial renewal, a goal I thoroughly support.

  200. I think words are fine, it’s the left who corrupts them, necessarily, otherwise they could never make a play for God’s throne.

  201. If your son doesn’t love you back, your son is “lost” in some way and, as you’ve noted, there is no relationship. If, however, you love your son unconditionally, you are engaging in self-sacrifice, i.e., expending yourself to reach through to the person loved, i.e., your son. Whether a parent is actually capable of loving unconditionally is debatable. If worst comes to worst, I suspect most parents’ love for their children could conceivably take its toll, leaving the parents totally exhausted and unable to do anything more. Love, whether “unconditional” or otherwise, involves self-sacrifice to a greater or lesser extent. Divine love has no limits and no conditions.

    If you are a good person and your son becomes unlike you in this respect, was your son truly “free” in his negative behavior? Borrowing from Luke 15’s third parable, was the prodigal son “free” while in the state of sin? “But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found” (Lk 15:32). Who restored to life from moral/spiritual death? Who found the “lost” son? It was not the son. The Father did not give up; the Father could not give up. Divine love has no limits and no conditions. It is relentless in reconciling. It always forgives. If Jesus instructed his listeners to *initiate* forgiveness without condition (in three of four passages), will God not do the same?

    Historical theologian Jaroslav Pelikan has described how post-primitive Christian apologists began to incorporate Jewish terminology in their defense and promotion of Christianity — “priest”, “altar”, “sacrifice”, “victim”. These terms related to the idea that the Father sacrificed the Son to effect our salvation. God’s love was conditioned on Jesus’ passion, crucifixion, and death to placate a God fed up with human sin. And this toxic (“orthotoxic”) theology increasingly gained ascendance in Christianity. For a brief reflection on this point, see James Mackey’s “Turning punishment into instrument of love” at

    Salvation means that I will someday enjoy eternal bliss with God, regardless of my moral and other shortcomings in this life.

  202. Frustrated with my replies? Seems to be the case.

  203. Your beliefs are more along the lines saved by grace alone, and you do not believe in Theosis.

  204. I am concerned because you are leading people astray. This is not The Way, and you seem to know that. There is something diabolical in your spirit. I get no sense of holiness from you. It shouldn’t be that way.

  205. There is no basis for this idea you have of God’s love being unconditional.

  206. There most certainly is the basis for believing God’s love is unconditional. I’ve cited relevant Gospel passages in support of this belief.

    On the other hand, do you love God? Do you believe God loves you?

  207. “I am concerned because you are leading people astray.” I suspect not a few Jewish religious leaders said the same thing to their followers. about Jesus.

    “There is something diabolical in your spirit.” Believe as you will. If you’re correct (and you are not at all correct), then Jesus was wrong for instructing his followers to initiate unlimited forgiveness toward their enemies/sinners, for pointing out that the Father lets sun shine and rain fall on good and bad people alike, and for teaching that it is God, not the sinner, who effects reconciliation.

    “I get no sense of holiness from you.” And I get no sense of your being open to the love of God reflected in the Gospel. Sad.

  208. I think we are ultimately saved by God’s love, which is unconditional. I accept the Church of Rome’s general understanding of theosis, a term much debated, admittedly, among different Christian churches and communities. In any event, one cannot somehow *earn* one’s salvation. I’ve shared a bit of historical information with you about how early Christian apologists effectively changed earliest Christian doctrine about the significance of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. To date, you’ve shared very little, nothing at all about your personal and religious background, but plenty of indirect ad hominems. So be it. Your problem, not mine.

  209. There is much supporting scripture to tell us that abiding in God’s love (in relationship) is not unconditional.

    Jesus to Peter – Do you love me? Then feed my sheep.

    I.e., if you want to show me you love me, then you must do this.

    There are a whole lot of ifs in the scriptures.

    God cannot comfort us if we do not allow Him to.

    O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!

    This is our will He is describing, and the enduring pain He feels when we say no to him. He has no control over that by His own choice, because that is love, to allow others to be free to choose to love you, or to reject you. God is a gentleman.

    While God’s love for us may be unconditional , an abiding relationship with God is not unconditional. It is quite conditional, like all relationships, and much love we can hope to enjoy from him is merited, as he indicates over and over.

    To imagine that God hopes for nothing in return from us by his giving us His gift of love is just not true. We can, by our own will, remove ourselves from God’s love permanently. This is an option he gave us. He hopes we will not, but He, in His great love, allows it.

    This is hell: a place – wherever we are, and a state – separation from the love of God. Hell begins in this world. The harder the heart becomes, the harder it is to reverse. We can, with this hardening, permanently separate ourselves from the love of God.

    Our sin separates us from the love of God. Repeated sin hardens the heart. For you to teach people it does not is wrong.

    Sin brings death, physical and spiritual.

  210. You can forgive someone and they can refuse your forgiveness. They can refuse to even acknowledge they have trespassed or that they need forgiveness. Extending it to them when they think they do not need it can make them very angry indeed.

    The forgiveness in the end is for your salvation. It is not always or even often fruitful for the other’s salvation. Of course we can hope, and God wants us to, and He hopes, too, but this is not the only reason we do it. We do it to primarily save our relationship with God, which saves us.

    To live apart from God’s love is hell.

  211. That doesn’t make any sense. The book of Acts shows us clearly how the early Church understood the faith.

    You haven’t asked anything about my personal or religious background.

  212. I would rhetorically ask you, why be careful and respectful in my comments if your love is unconditional?

  213. I’ve relied on liturgical and other church historians for my information. They have, in turn, relied on canonical and other early Christian writings. They “make sense”.

    You haven’t volunteered any information. I have.

  214. By paragraph:

    The “other” who has sinned against me does not need to know I have forgiven him/her. God knows.

    “The forgiveness you offer others is in the end is for your own salvation.” The Lord’s Prayer suggests the truth of your observation. Yet Jesus has also taught how God initiates forgiveness even without the “lost” sinner (lamb, coin, prodigal) asking for forgiveness. We cannot “save our relationship with God.” Ultimately, it is God’s unconditional love that has already saved us. We, in turn, can offer thanks (“eucharist”) to God for blessings received.

    “To live apart from God’s love is hell.” JPII once opined that hell is a state of being: we make our own hells. God always loves us; God — being Love itself — cannot do otherwise. Love, whether divine or human, is self-sacrifice. Unlike human love/self-sacrifice, divine love has no limits. It endures.

    “We are vulnerable in relationships.” True, if “relationship” is understood as a “two-way street”. God, however, has informed us (by way of Mt 25) to help the “stranger” who, by definition, is not in a relationship with us although an encounter can result in a relationship. Even in the absence of a relationship, God wants us to love “the other”, regardless, because God — not being hypocritical — does so. What God asks of us, God also does.

    “Intimate relationship with God requires much from us.” True, for a relationship as described above. God loves us, however, even in the absence of a (“intimate”) relationship.

    “Being loved by someone and being in relationship with someone are two entirely different realities.” True. God always loves sinners, a category that includes all of us at one time or other throughout life. One is not always in a relationship (as described earlier) with God.

    God’s love is unconditional (Luke 15, etc.). Human love is not, however holy one may be.

  215. Your scriptural quotes demonstrate my point that God’s love is unconditional — always — even when one is not in relationship with God. The “lost” sheep and the “lost” coin cannot love God, cannot be in relationship with God, yet God initiates searching for them to bring them back to where they belong — with God! The prodigal son, upon being welcomed home by the Father, cannot express genuine repentance. His words are empty because he had to *rehearse* them beforehand; he is motivated by FEAR. The Father, however, ignores the lad’s “repentance” by ordering preparations for a feast (the son cannot even say the second half of his spiel before he is interrupted by his Father).

    “God is a gentleman.” More than that, God is Love itself. God love sinners, always and regardless.

    “While God’s love for us may be unconditional , an abiding relationship with God is not unconditional. It is quite conditional, like all relationships, and much love we can hope to enjoy from him is merited…” So you acknowledge God’s love is unconditional. OK. I agree that an “abiding relationship with God is not unconditional” as long as the term “relationship” is understood as I mentioned above. A relationship requires two parties. God’s love, on the other hand, requires only one party, to wit, God.

    “[M]uch love we can hope to enjoy from [God] is merited.” No, God’s love endures. We do not “merit” divine love. It is pure gift as Jesus has taught.

    “We can, by our own will, remove ourselves from God’s love permanently. This is an option he gave us. He hopes we will not, but He, in His great love, allows it.” I disagree for reasons I’ve already noted.

    “This is hell: a place – wherever we are, and a state – separation from the love of God.” I can accept hell as a place or a state although I lean toward the latter understanding. You have contradicted your earlier assertion, to wit, “While God’s love for us may be unconditional…” God does not require relationship with sinners; God wants relationship; sinners cannot ultimately reject divine relationship; they will want relationship in God’s presence.

    “Our sin separates us from the love of God.” No, it does not. You admitted as much yourself earlier when you acknowledged divine love is “unconditional”.

    “Repeated sin hardens the heart.” True.

    “For you to teach people it does not is wrong.” I have taught no such thing. Of course, repeated sin hardens the heart — until God takes the initiative to forgive the sinner, thereby healing him/her and enabling the former sinner to express repentance. God, not the sinner, makes repentance possible.

    “Sin brings death, physical and spiritual.” Sin *can* bring physical death — but not necessarily. Sin is spiritual death, and God restores the sinner to life again and again, and again…(cf. Matthew 18:21-22 and Luke 15:32). God will forgive as God asks us to forgive.

  216. It’s about relationship, because the Holy Trinity is about relationship. Salvation requires our participation. It’s an ongoing process. No one is “saved” – but we are, when in relationship with God, being saved. Of course, it’s not our party, but we have to accept the invitation to attend, and good manners and gratitude are expected when we arrive.

    These are just a couple of God’s conditions for a relationship.

    Many will not accept the invitation, will show up late, or will leave early. Just like in life.

    We have to work out our own salvation even though the opportunity is made possible by God’s love.

    The Prodigal son had to rise and come to himself. He had to do his part. Much is required of us. To face ourselves is a difficult task. We were commanded to do charity for this reason.

  217. If we are not in relationship to God, then God’s love cannot save us. It requires our consent. Otherwise it would be rape. God does not rape.

  218. The Church Fathers all disagree with you. Have you read the Philokalia?

  219. Again, God’s love cannot save us if we reject it. That’s the deal, as He reminds us again and again. Being able to receive God’s love requires an acknowledgment of our sins and repentance. God’s love cannot reach us without our consent and while we are committed to filth.

    That is why encouraging other people to sin will lead to their perdition.

    You should not do this if you love people.

  220. That’s a very alien interpretation of the Prodigal Son.

    He ‘came to himself’. It was not fear, but metanoia, which God acknowledged, received, celebrated and rewarded. It was not in spite of his repentance God received him, but because of.

    The conditions were met, in that he realized he must abide in God’s love.

    To whom much is given, much will be required.

  221. Relationship is a two way street. It requires the consent of both people.

    God is a person with a face.

    He can turn away from us anytime He chooses and He does so as the Psalms illustrate.

    We must respect that.

  222. Agree with first line.

    In orthodox Christianity, God is not a person. God is the Trinity.

    It is precisely because God’s love is unconditional that God, contrary to your belief, cannot “turn away from us anytime.”

  223. There is nothing “alien” about my interpretation of the Prodigal Son. What I’ve shared is consistent with the very content of Luke 15:11-32. There is, in fact, parallel meaning among the three parables of Luke 15.

    Verse 17 (He “came to himself”) reflects his realization that he might be able to live a better life, compared to his present circumstances, if he asks forgiveness. His motivation is survival, not apology (he must rehearse his spiel; genuine apology does not require rehearsal but comes from a heart unburdened by FEAR). There was no metanoia at this point. God celebrated the lad being back home *in spite of* his sinful behavior, not because of any words of “apology”. Just as the “lost” sheep and coin cannot express remorse, the lad cannot do so, either. Christianity refers to Jesus as “physician”. It should also refer to him as “psychologist” in that Jesus can read the human heart. Metanoia is not motivated by FEAR but by thanksgiving for having been healed by God. We know from Matthew 18:21-22, etc. that God wants us to forgive, period. What God asks of us, God also does. It is a truism in psychology that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, yet the Son of God tells us to forgive always, regardless. Luke 15’s three parables show no (true) repentance but merely God searching for, finding, and reconciling sinners. That’s all.

    Whether the “lost” son “realized he must abide in God’s love” remains to be seen. The parable doesn’t address this matter.

    “To whom much is given, much will be required” (Luke 12:48). True. As one writer has noted, “We have been given much, and God desires us to use what He has given to further His Kingdom and proclaim His glory. It’s what we were created to do” ( ” “This is simply responsible stewardship.” In light of Luke 15, one who does not use his/her gifts to advance the Kingdom is “lost”. The upshot? Luke 12 speaks of punishment; Luke 15 speaks of forgiveness. In the greater scheme of things, which lesson prevails? The term ‘Gospel’ means “good news”. What is this “good news”? It is that we have been saved already by Jesus whose name is derived from “God saves”, not “God saves if”. I suggest we punish ourselves by sinning; we make our own hells. Because God, our Creator, knows this truth of human nature, God pursues sinners and reconciles them.

  224. “God’s love cannot save us if we reject it.” We cannot reject God’s love; it is irresistible. I disagree with your remaining comments. (And I do not, as you prefer to believe, encourage other people to sin. Shame on you.)

  225. If the Church Fathers disagree with me, then they disagree with my sources who are respected church historians who have studied the Fathers. I have not read the Philokalia.

  226. “If we are not in relationship to God, then God’s love cannot save us. It requires our consent.” One cannot ultimately refuse God=Love. The name “Jesus” means “God saves”, not “God saves if…”

  227. Yes, the Trinity is relationship. I believe God wants relationship with us. This is why God pursues sinners, as one source put it, to the Nth degree. God will not give up on God’s children. Salvation is an ongoing process, as you’ve noted. I would merely add it is primarily God continuously reaching out to us, not vice versa. If one refuses the “invitation” from God, that person is “lost”, and God will initiate pursuing, finding, and reconciling him/her (Luke 15).

    Your phrase “work out our own salvation” is ambiguous. We cannot save ourselves (cf. “Jesus”). God cannot make possible our doing what is reserved to God alone, i.e., our salvation.

    “The Prodigal son had to rise and come to himself. He had to do his part.” He “came to himself” only in terms of FEAR of starving to death. It was his Father who *found* him and *restored him to life* (v. 32). The Father interrupted the lad’s spiel (vv. 21-22). “Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.” The Father *knew* his son to be the jackass he was. The Father didn’t care. He ordered a feast to celebrate his son being back home. This acceptance of a lad who remained a prodigal son was the Father’s act of charity, a charity that God asks of us. (Verse 20’s reference to the son “being a long way off”, according to one writer, refers to the emotional distance that the son has placed between himself and his Father.)

  228. That’s a very cynical view of the story. I have never heard such a cynical interpretation. That’s quite unorthodox.

  229. Certainly one can. People refuse love all the time, even God’s love.

  230. One cannot understand the gospel historically. One has to get behind the cross.

  231. That’s good to know you don’t encourage others to sin. Of course we can reject God’s love.

  232. The Good News is there is a way back. But we have to rise and walk. We have to pick up our crosses. Many are called, but few are chosen. You asked if I love God. If I loved God I would keep His commandments. I am a sinner. The obvious answer is no. I love myself more. However, the Church exists for me to practice loving God. I hope to get better. But it requires effort. To descend into the heart requires extraordinary, heroic effort. Prayer requires effort.

  233. Correct The Godhead is three persons. God turns away from us whenever He feels like it or has good reason. He’s a separate person. Granted we are fallen, but our lives and relationships here on earth are not completely alien to His ways and being. He created the world to help us.

  234. It’s not unconditional. We were given life, but in order to keep it, much is required of us.

  235. We disagree. Regarding contradictory statements of Jesus in the Gospel, we are faced with two contradictory understandings of the so-called “good news”:

    + God will save us without any condition on our part;

    + God will save us only if…..

    I see no “good news” of our salvation in Jesus’ name with the latter understanding. I do see the former understanding as being consistent with Jesus’ name (“God saves”, no conditions) and Jesus ‘ teaching to initiate forgiveness without limit.

  236. “God turns away from us whenever He feels like it or has good reason.” We disagree. God never turns away from us.

    “He’s a separate person.” No, God is three persons in one Being.

    “Granted we are fallen, but our lives and relationships here on earth are not completely alien to His ways and being.” Agree. Evil is a mystery.

  237. We apparently disagree on the implication of your understanding of the Good News. So be it.

    “But we have to rise and walk. We have to pick up our crosses.” Sinners cannot “rise and walk”, i.e., on their own, to carry their crosses. This is one of the lessons in Luke 15. It is also a lesson, I’d suggest, in the metaphorical interpretation of Jesus healing persons who are, so to speak, disabled by sin. We cannot save ourselves. Again, I remind you of the meaning of Jesus’ name, which includes no preconditions to be satisfied by us. God exercises the initiative.

    “If I loved God I would keep His commandments. I am a sinner.” Agree, but, as sinners, we don’t always demonstrate our love for God. Actions speak louder than words. When we sin, we are not loving God. As you’ve noted, “I love myself more.” We can fail, have failed, and will continue to fail to love God at times throughout our lives. If God wants our love as I believe God wants, and if God knows beforehand we will fail at times, why would God create us as we are? Mystery of evil.

  238. To clarify an important point: I know we can fail to love God in this mortal life. In God’s direct and divine presence, however, I believe no one can reject God’s love. It is overpowering. God loves us that much. This understanding reinforces my belief in universal salvation (so does the name of Jesus = “God saves”).

  239. “One cannot understand the gospel historically.” I don’t recall making any statement on this point. I think (as opposed to “believe”) the canonical gospels contain information to a greater or lesser extent about Jesus’ earthly ministry — as retold orally over several generations and eventually put into writing and later subject to copyists’ editing. I am convinced Jesus existed and showed a so-called “preferential option” for people in need.

    One can *try* to “get behind the cross.” We fail at times. God loves us despite our sins. This is why God’s love is unconditional.

  240. “Certainly one can.” See my earlier clarification, to wit, that no one can ultimately refuse divine love. I distinguish between (a) God’s unconditional love for us and (b) our human failure to reciprocate God’s love, thus temporarily rupturing our relationship with God. It is God, not the sinner, who makes possible the restoration of relationship until we sin again. God initiates; we cannot help but respond positively.

  241. We disagree. I would rephrase your response thus, “That’s a very realistic view of the story.” Why? Because all three parables illustrate God, so to speak, doing the “heavy lifting” of our salvation. God, not the sinner, makes salvation the ultimate result. “That’s quite unorthodox.” We disagree.

  242. Obviously he does the heavy lifting, but it is not possible for Him to lift up our souls without our participation. It’s a gift, but a gift has to be received. We are the receivers, or we are not. Christ is a gift, not a band aid. He is a gift that we must unwrap.

  243. Lot’s of people respond negatively. Judas responded negatively.

  244. He is offered for all men and for all eternity. It’s an invitation. Some will go their own way and say, no, thank you. Some will curse His invitation. Some will come early, some will come late. What you are teaching is not enough to save a man. We are all in need. Some recognize this about themselves, some do not. He calls to all of us, but only those who have ears to hear, will hear.

  245. I work, but I do not take every job I am asked to do. I am not inclined to work for those who work against me and trample on my work, or for those who don’t ask me. What then do you make of this: “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” It seems to me your belief just changes the game. If scripture is read with the understanding of universal reconciliation, it changes the meaning, and hell then is for those who do not hold your understanding. But it is still hell nonetheless.

  246. Well, you have effectively done away with the horror of it with your doctrine. I can understand wanting to, because for a believer the truth about evil is mortifying and unfathomable. Evil is pure malice. I don’t believe it is something those of us raised or steeped in Christ can fully comprehend. That’s why it is so baffling to try to understand why someone would choose it. There is no good in the devil, though God may use him for our good. But, on a positive note, God cares about the evil in us, i.e., our sin, because of what it does to us, not because of what it does to Him. It is possible the things we do when we sin, have no reality – (perhaps God finds it unfathomable to look upon our evil as well, and He looks away, He does not see it; thus, it would have no reality; God’s Love is the only reality) – and, so, they are not written in the Book of Life. Then, one might consider, the more we sin, the less reality we as beings have and are able to enter into, and we slowly disappear into nothingness as our sin consumes us. It would then be fair to say our sin leads us to our own destruction. In effect, God will not remember us. That’s why we say in the Church, when someone dies, “May his/her memory be eternal with God.” We hope that they not be blotted out of the Book of Life.

  247. Yes, I know, I am referring to the person of God the Father. Evil is pure malice. It is not a mystery; what is a mystery is why anyone would choose it. Even those who don’t know the Gospel have a hard time choosing it. It is not in our created nature. It’s only in our fallen nature .

  248. Of course, we should do that, but there is no guarantee the other will accept our grace, or that it will save them, just like there is no guarantee we will accept God’s grace, and be saved, but He offers us Christ anyway. It will, however, work toward our own salvation to forgive others. “And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you.” The Good News is that He offered us a chance, a way back.

  249. “Judas responded negatively.”

    Yes, but only to a certain point in time. We don’t have any information about his ultimate fate, but the Gospel strongly indicates he has been saved.

  250. “…and you do not believe in Theosis.”

    I accept the Catholic understanding of the doctrine.

  251. “What you are teaching is not enough to save a man.”

    The Gospel disagrees with your understanding. I encourage you to reread Professor James Mackey’s “Turning Punishment into Instrument of Love” to which I linked above. I have more information on the earliest Christian beliefs about God’s love but have not the time to go into more detail.

  252. “[Evil] is not a mystery…[It] is only a problem.”

    Evil is a “problem” for human beings, but Christian doctrine teaches that Jesus overcame evil on the cross once for all. Christianity is a resurrection faith and, thus, the most important day on the church calendar. This observance marks not only the Savior conquering physical death but also spiritual death, i.e., sin.

    Evil is very much a mystery. Theologians and philosophers continue to debate the simple question, “Why evil?” There is no consensus. All we know today is that evil simply is a reality of human existence.

  253. “I do not take every job I am asked to do. I am not inclined to work for those who work against me and trample on my work, or for those who don’t ask me.”

    You’re not God in Luke 15 or Matthew 18:21-22 or 5:43-48, etc. We are not Love; God is.

    As for your scriptural quote (Mt 7:21), it is another of what I regard among the “contrarian” passages in the Gospel. However, if we consider the Gospel to be the “good news” of our salvation, then we must look at the Gospel message as a whole. People in this instance, for example, who teach falsehood or engage in hypocrisy are “lost”. For human beings who are by nature inclined to sin and fail, what kind of god (lower case) would create people only to know beforehand that they will fail god and be damned to hell forever.

    Perhaps it comes down to this: What kind of God/god do you believe in? Can we love a God/god who is ready, willing, and able to condemn us to hell or let us condemn ourselves to hell? Do we have the power/capacity/etc. to save ourselves?

  254. We are not to cast pearls to swine. Jesus does not cast pearls to swine. That is why He spoke in parables. Yes, God is love and Jesus shows us and tells us what love is. He is the measure of love. What kind of God would create us free? A God who loves us and respects us. God is free, Jesus is free, the Holy Spirit is free. That’s what makes their love for us meaningful. Loving while free is the measure. I believe in the God who is, who showed us who He is in the face of Jesus Christ. I do not get to decide who he is. He has shown me that in Christ He is far wiser and more loving than me. Again, we participate and cooperate with God in our own salvation, which He, being masculine, initiates. But He will not rape us.

  255. No, the Church’s teaching is that evil was defeated but not yet destroyed. That is yet to come. Evil does not deserve the designation of mystery. That is reserved for Christ in the Eucharist. Evil is very simple to defeat. All that is needed is humility, and it will flee from you. We need not ever focus on it. All we need to focus on is Christ. If evil is overcoming us, it means we are not focused on Christ.

  256. The Parable of the Sheep and Goats in the Gospel tells us exactly how it going to be. We must listen to Christ’s teachings and be obedient if we want to enjoy salvation.

  257. This is true that we don’t know, but there is no indication in the Gospel this is the case. There is more evidence to the contrary. To assume he was saved is to create your own gospel.

  258. There is no discrepancy in the teaching that hell is the consequence of our decision to live separate from God, and that God does not inflict this punishment, we choose it. It is not possible to save someone who does not want to be saved and who prefers pure malice. They have chosen what delights them. We have all seen these people who are being destroyed. They rail against God. But they will not change their path. Indeed they ask that God would change. They know who He is, and that He exists, and that He is Love, but they reject Him. To rail against God’s essence is like telling a person you will not love them until they change their essence. It’s not possible, and it’s not good. God has given us full personhood. Some do not want this responsibility. They do not want to participate in the energies of the Holy Trinity. They want to be their own gods.

  259. We damn ourselves. What part of this do you not understand? Thus the urgency of Christ. If we twist the Gospel, it is because we want to sin, and not be held accountable. That is, we do not want full personhood or to participate in the sharing of energies of the Holy Trinity, or to die to ourselves so that we can enjoy this full personhood. Someone who does not want love experiences love as burning. Thus the fires of hell. God is ever present everywhere. God’s seeking love is experienced here and after our deaths as fire for those who have chosen to reject Him. It is because of our created nature that rejection of God feels like this to us. We were created in love. It feels wrong to us to reject God’s love. That’s how we know we are not living in accordance with Him. But people do it, prideful stubborn rebels who think they know better than God what love is.

  260. “To assume he was saved is to create your own gospel.”

    No. It is to see the “good news” of the Gospel in its greater context.

  261. I lean toward the view that hell is a state of being and that people make their own hells. On the other hand, I do not accept your view that “[i]t is not possible to save someone who does not want to be saved and who prefers pure malice.” God saves such people because God is Love itself. In your comment, you have done a great job describing someone who is “lost”. Thank you.

  262. The Linns GOOD GOATS: HEALING OUR IMAGE OF GOD addresses your interpretation of the parable. Suffice to say the authors do not share your conclusion (and confusion).

  263. Yes, Jesus destroyed evil in the greater, i.e., ultimate, scheme of things. However, evil still exists in nature including human life.

    “All we need to focus on is Christ. If evil is overcoming us, it means we are not focused on Christ.” True, and this failure is seen throughout church history. Yet, Jesus instructs his followers to forgive unconditionally, doesn’t he? (ANSWER: Yes.) As I’ve noted more than once for your benefit, what God instructs people to do, God will also do.

  264. “We damn ourselves.”

    Only for a point in mortal time. God rescues us.

    The “fires of hell” is metaphor. God has already saved us.

    “We were created in love.” If we were created in love, we will not be damned by love.

    “If we weren’t free to choose…”

    I’ve addressed this mistaken notion previously. In a nutshell, one is not “free” in choosing evil. That’s the lesson in Luke 15.

  265. “We are not to cast pearls to swine. Jesus does not cast pearls to swine.”

    “Dogs and swine were Jewish terms of contempt for Gentiles. This saying may originally have derived from a Jewish Christian community opposed to preaching the gospel (what is holy, pearls) to Gentiles. In the light of Mt 28:19 that can hardly be Matthew’s meaning. He may have taken the saying as applying to a Christian dealing with an obstinately impenitent fellow Christian (Mt 18:17).”

    USCCB commentary on Mt 7:6

    Jesus likely knew he had a limited time for earthly ministry. Thus, he advised his disciples to make the best use of *their* time, as well. The metaphorical term “swine” refers in this case to people who are “lost”. Again, Luke 15, etc. come into play.

  266. Ridiculous how you must twist the gospel to make it mean what you want. This is of course, heresy.

  267. No, this is merely the New Origenism. It’s still heresy.

  268. Again, God will not force anyone to accept His forgiveness. You have adopted heresy. Your heart and mind are closed to correction. Regarding the heretic: “You are the first born of Satan.” – St Iraneus. You have separated yourself from the Church. Heresy is division and leads many astray. I cannot have anything more to do with you, however I am happy that whoever comes across our posts will have an opportunity to see it pointed out that Origenism is still heresy. There is nothing new under the sun.

  269. Sheep will follow goats but they are not as agile and cannot extricate themselves from the treacherous places the goats lead them. To misunderstand this parable is to have no knowledge of sheep and goats ( I live among shepherds), and to reject 2000 years of the Church’s understanding. You are in heresy and will lead many to their destruction. You will be anathema unless you come to yourself.

  270. Then you are a Gnostic and the grips of more than one heresy. You have left the Church. I have nothing more to do with you.

  271. “I have nothing more to do with you,” says a smug, self-righteous Krishtun.

    Realizing your closed-mindedness, I nonetheless recommend two easy-to-read books published by a Catholic publishing house and containing information and insights from Catholic and other writers:



    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to present orthodox Christian teaching about God’s unconditional love.

  272. Peruse the Linns’ GOOD GOATS: HEALING OUR IMAGE OF GOD at my Amazon link above. Then you will understand this parable in its larger context of God’s unconditional love. In the meantime, you come across as a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.

  273. “You have adopted heresy.” You do not know how to apply the term. I pity you.

    “Origenism is still heresy.” Thanks for sharing your opinion. However, the late Henry Chadwick, one of the most respected church historians of the 20th century (d. 2008), has suggested that judging Origen’s orhodoxy is not so simple. Theologians disagree, and we don’t have all his writings. What writings we do have do not necessarily give us a fair look at his thinking.

    You’re quick to judge others.

    Not recommended.

  274. Origen apparently taught that God will/must save all creatures including the fallen angels. This doctrine is known as apokatastasis, which, so far as I know, has never been embraced by the Church of Rome. On the other hand, a similar doctrine — universal salvation — has never been condemned by the Church of Rome and is supported by the Gospel’s “good news” of our salvation. Rome, which claims to use its authority to proclaim souls in heaven, has never — I repeat, never — used this same authority to proclaim souls in hell. I recommend the two books referenced above.

  275. “This is apostasy.”

    You can’t even use the term ‘apostasy’ correctly.

    Thank you for confirming my suspicions that your beliefs are unfounded in key areas of the Christian faith.

  276. “Your heart and mind are closed to correction.”

    And you’re a cuckoo.

  277. We disagree on much of what you’ve written. So be it.

    orthodox Christian

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