Friday, May 06, 2011

Are Atheits Immune to the Gosepl?

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Bill Moyers once did a special about the song Amazing Grace. He included on that special (PBS) an interview with Judy Collins. In 1971 she did the album Whales and Nightingales which included her rendition of "Amazing Grace," it was a big hit at the time and over the years has become a classic. Her version still defines the song for a lot of people, it's near Iconic status. It really made Collin's career even though she was very popular and had many hits before. Not to take away form her subsequent triumphs such as her version of "send in the clowns." Collins is my favorite singer (or is it Joan Baez?). Amazing grace is my favorite religious song. When I saw Moyers' interview on You tube Collins came across to me as sharp, deep, insightful, compassionate and a survivor of a hard life. I moved moved by the interview and wanted others to hear it.

Two most powerful concepts in Christianity are redemption and transformation. I don't know Collin's spiritual ideas. I have no idea if she thinks of herself as a Christian or not. She is a profound thinker and things she in this interview are great, they are just what I wish I could get across of all of you. It's not specific to Christianity but it touches exactly on the heart of the Gospel.

I asked the atheists on CARM to listen and think about it. She talks about the life transformation thing too. that's why made me think to put it up here. I put this up becuase I like the way she talks about these concepts. It's not specifically Christian and I don't know if she is a Christian. I pointed these things out.


Interview part 1

part 2


Original recording by Collins of Amazing Grace
from Whales an Nightingales album (1971)


Here was the atheist reaction:

Harry C

Yes, once they have you convinced that there is something fundamentally wrong with you, that you are a “wretch” and you need to be “saved” to be “transformed” then they have caught you hook line & sinker. Then you are easily separated from your cash for the snake oil to cure the imaginary problem.

That’s the “good news” of Atheism. You aren’t lost. You don’t need to be saved, or redeemed, or transformed or any such nonsense. There is nothing really wrong with you, even if Judy says there is.

Madmax

I reserve my anger for arrogant, assuming theists who insist on including me in their insecurities and pet fears. You want to believe your a wretch? Have at it, but speak for yourself and don't presume to speak for anyone else. You theists just look foolish when you try.


Originally Posted by Metacrock View Post
atheist hate themselves. that's proved by studies. that's the motivation of atheism.
What a load of crap. I am living proof that this is entirely false, I do not hate myself, and I'll wager there are many atheists like me who don't hate themselves and don't have any such motivations.

So the idea that God loves them makes then angry...
Another false pile of crap. Such an idea would not in any way make me angry, I simply don't don't believe it's true.

We are all ok we also all wrecked. Its' the anger of the self heating one who can't admit he's wretched.




the more rational Sun of my Soul

I think you are missing the point of his post meta (my humble apologies if i am wrong)
his post was not in anyway an attack on you.

But rather on the idea that Christianity teaches and instructs that we are all evil...(regardless of what we do or do not) just because we are born...
(and this is a necessary teaching in order for the necessary salvic atonement belief..one is hingent upon the other)

Now I don't think we are all okay....but i do think some of us are.
Christianity doesn't allow for this....for someone to be....okay, sane, healthy and happy, productive and good....
atheism does.
Moving beyond CARM

Austine Cline: "myth: atheists and atheists world view don't
allow for forgiveness."
About.com

If anything, it might be argued that the concept of forgiveness has much more significance for atheists than for some religious theists and some Christians. After all, Christians ultimately only need to be forgiven by their god — and according to them, their god will forgive absolutely anything with just a single requirement, which is to accept Jesus Christ. Christians also believe that, in the end, their mistakes will be fixed or made up for by their god. There is nothing they can do which would thwart their god's plan for humanity and the universe, and that's what's ultimately important.


For atheists, though, there are no gods to seek forgiveness from and certainly no gods who will fix any mistakes. For atheists, the only forgiveness that can exist must come from the people around us and from ourselves. Atheists can't presume that if some god forgives them, then it doesn't matter what others around them think because we humans are all that really count in the end. Penn probably put it best:


Debating Christianity message board
Dr. Phyiscs Jan 9, 2011

"is the Victorious Redemption of Jesus Moral?"



(lets assume the the crucifixion happened as the christians say it does for this thread)

the crucifixion of jesus christ was brutal and bloody. if i were present i would feel the need to STOP the bloody human sacrifice. this act of vicarious redemption is equivalent to scapegoating. is this not immoral and barbaric?

"you can serve my sentence in jail, but you cant take away my responsibility... after looking at the offer (of jesus' sacrifice) and considering it, i would rather decline the offer of this lamb's blood, but thanks anyways...... - whats that? if i dont accept this offer you will KILL ME?! and send me to hell for eternity? is that a THREAT?" (Christopher Hitchens)

This Christian god IF he exists does NOT give me or you a choice, but rather is blackmailing us into following him. The christian idea of god is a "supernatural dictatorship in whose court you have no repeal, with a leader you can not overthrow, and whose supervision you could never escape." (hitch)

i either must worship this being which i think is IMMORAL for performing and/or participating in human sacrifices (among other atrocities) OR burn in hell for eternity.. this is not an offer of a moral creator.[/b]

This array of atheist views gives a clear indication that at least one segment of their community is so bitter and cynical about religious belief they can't even hear a great song with coming unglued with anger. They can't accept what every single culture and ever major writer in history has said. It's so universally recognized that there's a problem with being human we have a standard phrase for it, "the human condition." Yet these guys are livid about denying that there is a human condition. We all ok, just do what you do. They are prefect they can't even admit they make mistakes. To me that says self hatred, it screams self hatred. They can't accept themselves, therefore they can't accept their maker. This is what studies show. (for part 2 see here).

A friend of mine insists that it's the fundies. The Churches have made them this way by failing to communicate the love of God. While I think that's true, it's also the case, and my friend doesn't deal with atheists so she doesn't know, atheists gear a great deal of their socialization to nursing their anger and building further hatred. A huge portion of their time and energy consists of railing about the evils of religion. Atheists build up the anger and feelings of rejection, in fact their socialization process thrives on finding boarder line people who feel lonely and rejected by the chruch then ridiculing them into submission. That ploy could not work if they had the chruch to fall back on. Since they feel they don't, in a sense is the fault of the chruch. It' also the fault of the people who purposely design to "deconvert others." I feel that most Chrsitians don't understand that this is a major focus of the atheist movement. A lot of the problem comes from inadequate proclamation of the Gospel

Sun of my Soul expresses the idea that "we are all born evil." That was her understanding of the Gospel when she was a Christian? She is a recently "deconverted." Or did she just get brain washed to believe it. I know she would claim that was her understanding. I've seen this happen before. A Christian one week says "no we are not taught that we are all evil we are made in the image of God." then next week after becoming an atheist says "we are all taught that we are born evil." All the good answers she gave one week forgotten the next. It's enough to make you wonder if they are growing giant pods with people in them. I think the truth of it is we are taught both. The Gospel does affirmed "no one is righteous, no not one" and "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." A rejected loner who is on the edge of faith and feels alone may be countering that sense of self loathing with the counter balancing doctrine of the image of God. We are so made. Then when she goes off the edge she apt to lean to the "we are taught we are evil" side of it.

The idea of letting go of the guilt and accepting self loathing is so great that it appears to be a release but it doesn't lead to transformation because they studies show that those with mystical experience have the transformation more so than those who don't. I have in the past given a little test of my own devising to atheist who claim to have been "strong Christians." They never turn out to be as strong as they claim. I think boarder line people who have a poor sense of self esteem and blame God for being as they are and no strong support in the chruch and feel they don't have a support group of Christians to turn to are apt to fall away and they to emphasize the side they secretly feared rather than using the counter balance that is in the Gospel. In other words they gravitate to the "the Bible says we are all evil" side of the dilemma.

Cline argues above that forgiveness is more real for atheists becuase Christians believe they have to forgive or be forgiven to get into heaven but atheists do it because it's good not to get anything. Yet Cline is an active professional missionary for atheism. He's sowing seeds to extract the borderline lonely people from the faith. He's not interested in understanding what the Gospel really has to say. His argument is stupid on face value. He's really saying forgiveness is better if you have to earn it. Since you can't earn it, it can only be an aspect of God's grace.

Cline's statement is indicative of someone who doesn't understand what forgiveness is. Forigivenss cannot be earned, it's not a matter of brownie points. Its' a matter of love. Atheists don't like love, they don't believe in it. If you don't feel God's love (which you are not going to when your waking hour is about how deeply you hate people who believe in God) then you can't understand the nature of something like forgiveness that is essentially an act of love. Of cousre it's not a true description of all atheists, but all atheists don't believe that forgiveness must be earned. I suspect that the atheist fundamentalist, the "Dawkies" or the "Hitchenistas" understand niether love nor forgiveness.

Are they immune to the Gospel? Atheists come in all varieties, some may be. Even Charles Finney had his burned out areas where his message couldn't get through. He was such a strong evangelist that people who would drop to their knees and start begging God to save them just becasue Finney came to look at their factory. Ah yes but remember Madmax expresses distaste for the idea of begging God. Of course that's the misunderstanding. People beg God becuase they don't understand God's love. They don't understand God wants to help us. They think they have to beg God and the great distaste for that shows us two things. One thing it shows us is that they don't understand love, they don't know God. The other is that they are engaged in a battle of will. They refuse to accept that there could anything greater than their egos that has a claim on their lives. This is probably the self esteem issue at work again.

The only thing we can do is to make sure that we, the chruch, communicate the Gospel clearly, accurately and show them God's love. They will mock and ridicule and kick us in the teeth, and I am the worst about showing love. This is, nevertheless, what the chruch must face. We have done a stinky job of doing this and it needs doing more than ever.

9 comments:

Metacrock said...

this comment from from Mike but due to my bungeling it wound up on the wrong thing. So I am re-posting it for him.


Mike:

ents:

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Ahh, the woman who inspired Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.

Musically, I love Amazing Grace, when sung well it can be quite beautiful.

It is not only your atheists who dislike the word "wretch" in that song. Many Christians dislike it too. Countless Christians do not buy into the "T" in Calvin's TULIP.

Are you really suggesting we distill "the human condition" down to wretchedness? I know I do not see wretchedness when I see a newborn baby. Are humans perfect? Of course not, nowhere near it, but wretched?

In regards to atheists being immune to the Gospel: The phrasing of that question makes it sound like the Gospel is some incantation that can change minds, I'm fairly certain you didn't mean it that way. Atheists are immune to the Gospel in the the same way they are immune to God arguments. If one reads the Gospel and doesn't believe it's characters are real, then how could it possible convince them?

Metacrock said...

Wretched just means miserable. The human condition is definitely pretty miserable. People have read into the notion the idea of worthlessness I don't think that's really part of the word. That's what comes of not communicating the love of God to people.

Mike says:
"In regards to atheists being immune to the Gospel: The phrasing of that question makes it sound like the Gospel is some incantation that can change minds, I'm fairly certain you didn't mean it that way. Atheists are immune to the Gospel in the the same way they are immune to God arguments. If one reads the Gospel and doesn't believe it's characters are real, then how could it possible convince them?"

I left it open ended on purpose and the original question makes it sound that way on a purpose. Both are tricks of rhetoric designed to make the reader say "no, wait, it's really, X" for Christians X should be "we are not communicating in love."

Aristotelian method known as "enthameme" where the audience is goaded into answering the open ended question but in such a way that they come to the conclusion you want them to come to. They seem to be coming to it themselves but they have been guided by certain apparent flaws in the piece left there to herd them in the right direction.

supposed to be the most effective kind of argument rhetorically.

Metacrock said...

"If one reads the Gospel and doesn't believe it's characters are real, then how could it possible convince them?"

If you sense the love and presence of God then you know they are real..

Miles said...

Doesn't the orthodox church take a more mixed view of these things. Yes we have original sin, but that we are not totally depraved.So in fact "evil" is not the appropriate word for them, more like flawed.

Kristen said...

Thanks for the link to the lovely interview, Metacrock. That moved me, too.

The atheists you quote don't seem to understand the Christian position on many things. Jesus never taught that as long as God forgives you, you don't have to care about the people you hurt. Just the opposite, in fact. But what does an atheist do if (s)he asks someone to forgive and tries to make recompense, but they won't forgive? Christians at least have the comfort of knowing that God forgives them anyway.

Similarly, with this:

"Christianity doesn't allow for this....for someone to be....okay, sane, healthy and happy, productive and good...."

But what if you're not, and know that you're not? What if you've really hurt someone? What if you know you're not emotionally healthy, productive and good? You can get therapy, and that will help. But one thing that helps more than anything is knowing that it's ok, in the deepest sense, that you're a "wretch," because your Maker loves you as you are but also wants to help you get well.

All I can say is, don't knock it if you haven't tried it. . .

(PS. I agree that this doctrine that we're all "evil" is only the doctrine of one section of one branch of Christianity-- not representative of all Christian thought.)

holly said...

hi meta,
why not notify those you decide to "carry on the conversation" without?

I would like to clarify "evil".
"for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of god" .
i do not know any denomination that does not agree that ALL are worthy of death (for by one man sin entered the world) and that all deserve nothing but death....and that it is nothing be an undeserved unwarranted graceful gift of god to grant salvation. That there is nothing man can do to earn his salvation, nothing.

do you believe this is still off? if so i would be glad to discuss what and why...that is if you are really interested in discussing those conversations you snag, with those they have been snagged from?
soms/sunofmysoul

Metacrock said...

hi meta,
why not notify those you decide to "carry on the conversation" without?

you gotta follow the blog

I would like to clarify "evil".
"for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of god" .
i do not know any denomination that does not agree that ALL are worthy of death (for by one man sin entered the world) and that all deserve nothing but death....and that it is nothing be an undeserved unwarranted graceful gift of god to grant salvation. That there is nothing man can do to earn his salvation, nothing.

do you believe this is still off? if so i would be glad to discuss what and why...that is if you are really interested in discussing those conversations you snag, with those they have been snagged from?
soms/sunofmysoul

I don't get your allusions to "snagging."

What's the sense in asking if I agree that all have sinned and deserve death? What does that mean? The first thing to do is ask what it really means? The skeptic of cousre ill say things like "why is adultaroy worthy of death if on one get's hurt?

that's a good question is betrays a kind of naivety about the whole thing. I mean your expectation seems to be that the passage means all sin is horrible people must be killed for little picky stuff like spitting on the side walk and that allows you to play the "ant it awful" card on the Bible.

I think the passage is a comparison. Comprised to the perfection of God we are all sinful and deserve death. We can't earn salvation on our own goodness, that much is true. That is not to say that God is really so mean that he would kill people for spitting on the side walk. It's a ll barometer so we know what we have to shoot for and how badly we fail. that doesn't mean that God punishes unfairly.

holly said...

my comments on snagging, were regarding taking a conversation from a different discussion board, (and not responding back to a post directed to you there leaving the person wondering if you are ignoring them, or just lost interest) and instead posting it here or on your own discussion board, with their comments, and not inviting them to defend/correct/amend/respond to what you quoted/quotemined/ replied back etc. I believe if one was vested in intellectual honesty one would let the other poster know they were being quoted and talked about and given the opportunity to respond...but...what do i know.

Metacrock said...

my comments on snagging, were regarding taking a conversation from a different discussion board, (and not responding back to a post directed to you there leaving the person wondering if you are ignoring them, or just lost interest) and instead posting it here or on your own discussion board, with their comments, and not inviting them to defend/correct/amend/respond to what you quoted/quotemined/ replied back etc. I believe if one was vested in intellectual honesty one would let the other poster know they were being quoted and talked about and given the opportunity to respond...but...what do i know.

It serves as an example of some aspect of Dawkamentalism that I'm documenting. It's documentation.

you guys are upset that I do that because it puts you on the spot, but it should. you need to be on the spot. you just sit over there on carm and say all manner of silly irresponsible things that one can never make you have to fess up to not knowing because you ave so many to take up for you. Present company excepted, you not so much. But some of them a lot.