Friday, October 14, 2011

Hope Springs Eternal

From William Lane Craig's calendar. 


Tuesday 25th October 2011
7.30pm Lecture "Is God a Delusion?" A Critique of Dawkins' The God Delusion
[or a debate with Richard Dawkins if he should accept the invitation]
Sheldonian Theatre, Broad Street, Oxford, OX1 3AZ

63 comments:

John W. Loftus said...

Hey check thisd out, and also this. Maybe I should do the same thing in Atlanta, GA.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

John,

If you held a similar level of influence as Dawkins, perhaps you'd have a sufficient reason to request a debate with WLC. I suppose the other possible qualification is if you had a PhD in philosophy.

It's telling that you turned this into a thread about yourself.

Anonymous said...

Uhhhh.

If William Lane Craig had to choose between debating the top ten internet atheists, would John even make the list?

John will say that his arguments have deconverted people. So? There's no shortage of internet atheists. Just like there's no shortage of internet theists.

WLC won't debate Loftus for the same reason Dawkins won't debate Wintery Knight: They're comparative nobodies, and are likely to remain that way.

Cold hard truth there, Johnny. I hope you aren't planning to get rich doing this anymore!

finney said...

I'm sorry, but if I were an atheist, I wouldn't debate WLC. It's impossible to reply all 5 parts of his super-attack with enough time to make a single positive argument.

Victor Reppert said...

He should debate you. But I think he would win the debate.

Anonymous said...

Of course he'd win the debate. But the fact remains that on a list of the top ten internet atheists for WLC to debate, Loftus wouldn't even make the list.

John W. Loftus said...

Vic, thanks. Most people cannot understand his stated reasons for not doing so.

Anonymous said...

Have you thought that perhaps he is trying to be polite, John? The best reasons for WLC not to debate you have to do with the quality of your character, the quality of your intellect, the quality of your reputation and the quality of your presence.

One of the best reasons for Craig not to debate you... is that there are no good reasons for him to debate you.

TsM said...

Hi John,
you are my idol. Like you, I want to become a blogger with self-published books who acts as if world-famous philosophers are scared to debate me. I intend to include a caricature of Quentin Smith into my act. Can you help me come up with a way to lampoon his name? Should I try to find out if he has a blog where I can claim to be the one top apologists for my side in the world? Can you teach me how to photoshop his face on a cat (get it, because he's scared?) if he tells me that he thinks that he has a busy scedule and doesn't want to waste his time with people who don't even have doctorates? Also, I realize it's a secret of the trade, but can you let me in on the subtleties of quote-mining negative reviews to make the reviewer sound as if he endorses my books? Primarily, I always feel like I should feel ashamaed of myself when I do so - how did you manage to overcome this?

I hope you respond soon because people wont stop making fun of me.

Sincerely,
a fan

Anonymous said...

John,

I'm surprised you don't understand WLC's reasons for not debating you. As he said, he doesn't think it's the best thing for you. You clearly got burnt by your Christian friends and now you are trying to 'fight back' against them in order to restore some sense of self-worth.

But I think Craig thinks that underneath all that posturing there is still someone who knows that Christianity is true, and who is fighting against that. So rather than engage with the 'outer man' - the sort of man you try to present yourself as - Craig has the spiritual discernment to focus on the inner man, and not help reinforce the outer 'atheist'.

I hope you understand this.

Anonymous said...

Also, you probably haven't committed the unforgivable sin - you can't attribute Jesus' power to Satan if you don't believe he had any miraculous power.

Price and Avalos are different because they clearly aren't hurting or smarting in the way you are.

Frankly John, what you need to do is man up, drop this atheism nonsense, and get back to that church you left; say you are sorry, and that you want them to accept you into membership again. You will be unhappy until you do this.

Anonymous said...

One last reason WLC thinks it would be better for you not to debate him: it is just going to feed your (already disproportionately big) ego.

cipher said...

Frankly John, what you need to do is man up, drop this atheism nonsense, and get back to that church you left; say you are sorry, and that you want them to accept you into membership again.

But I think Craig thinks that underneath all that posturing there is still someone who knows that Christianity is true, and who is fighting against that.

Have you thought that perhaps he is trying to be polite, John? The best reasons for WLC not to debate you have to do with the quality of your character, the quality of your intellect, the quality of your reputation and the quality of your presence.

Childish and typical.

And I've never understood why so many Christians post as "Anonymous". Is it that hard to pick a pseudonym? If it's a security issue, what are you so afraid of? Doesn't Jesus have your back?

And really, Dr. Reppert - why do you allow it? A lot of bloggers no longer do. I certainly wouldn't.

"Man up", indeed. Here's a suggestion, anonymous Christian - "man up" and pick a name.

Morrison said...

Loftus, you are a manipulator and a liar, by your own admission.

You ban other atheists, delete and alter your posts, and then whine.

You call Bill Craig a friend, and then you post ridiculing pictures of him and call him names.

Your own cousins did not trust you, because they knew your history of theft, assault, sexual licence, and all the rest. (
As you have admitted in your book.)

You were white trash then, Loftus, and you are white trash now.

Craig should not give you any credibility by debating you, and I think the above are the reasons he does not want to give you any credibility.

Anonymous said...

"And I've never understood why so many Christians post as "Anonymous"."

But you understand why atheists would, right, "cipher"?

BenYachov said...

Loftus what about Jesse's dismemberment of your OTF argument?

Jesse's an Atheist.

Stephen Law is an Atheist and a Philosopher. So he is better qualified to debate Craig then you.

That's just life.

BenYachov said...

Of course Dawkins isn't professionally fit to debate Craig either. He is just high profile and easy prey because of his philosophical incompetence.

Craig vs Dawkins on God would be the equivalent of Dawkins vs Ray Comfort on Evolution.

Except Dawkins is the equivalent of Comfort when he faces Craig.


When Gnu's learn to give up their fanatical anti-Philosophy fundamentalism they will more likely be taken more seriously.

When they learn not to recycle the excesses of popular religious apologetics into their Atheist apologetics they will likely be taken more seriously.

Till then Gnu's are fundies without god-belief.

Papalinton said...

Anonymous
"WLC won't debate Loftus for the same reason Dawkins won't debate Wintery Knight: They're comparative nobodies, and are likely to remain that way."

I think you're right. Dawkins won't debate WLC because he is a comparative nobody.

Anonymous said...

I think you're right. Dawkins won't debate WLC because he is a comparative nobody.

Ahahahahahahaha!

He actually believes this! Papalinton believes this!

unkleE said...

"So rather than engage with the 'outer man' - the sort of man you try to present yourself as - Craig has the spiritual discernment to focus on the inner man, and not help reinforce the outer 'atheist'."

If this is true (and for all I know it might be), then why do not the apparent christians (and for all I know they may or may not be) commenting on this blog take a leaf out of his book and also treat John with sensitivity and discernment?

John: I think you and your tactics are tragically wrong, but I want to apologise for the behaviour of other so-called christians here. Your ethics are your own concern, not mine, but we christians should know better. We should be treating you with love, and if we don't have the maturity to do that, we should refrain from comment.

Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

"If this is true (and for all I know it might be), then why do not the apparent christians (and for all I know they may or may not be) commenting on this blog take a leaf out of his book and also treat John with sensitivity and discernment?"

So we should lie and pretend Loftus is really a very major player in atheist apologetics?

We should not point out, when Loftus demands to know why Craig won't debate him, his track record? His lies? His performance? The frailty of his arguments?

You say "Your ethics are your own concern, not mine, but we christians should know better." But is that really right? Especially when we're discussing why he isn't as worthy of debate as he thinks he is?

Is the sorry state of "his ethics" a reason for WLC not to debate him? Is his tactics being "tragically wrong" a reason for WLC not to debate him?

Morrison went over the line with the namecalling and family references. But everything else has been on target.

cipher said...

But you understand why atheists would, right, "cipher"?

My God, are you really that bloody dense?

Anonymous said...

"My God, are you really that bloody dense?"

Crikey, mate, ah reckon ya for a drongo. lol.

Anonymoose said...

"And I've never understood why so many Christians post as "Anonymous"."


Absolutely right. If such Christians want to be exculpated from the charge of seedy cowardice, then they ought to post under sobriquets like "cipher," "neo," "morpheus," and "trinity." After all, such monikers absolutely exude courage, in addition to telling the world a lot about yourself.

Victor Reppert said...

For the record, I really don't think the outcome of debates amounts to much. It does help us spell issues out.

Anonymous said...

"For the record, I really don't think the outcome of debates amounts to much. It does help us spell issues out."

Do you think Loftus wants to debate WLC in order to spell issues out? Honestly? You really don't think this is about Loftus looking for some way, any way, to get out of the internet ghetto he's dug himself into?

Morrison said...

If Loftus debates Craig, he will probably lose.

And then he will make excuses and say debates don't matter.

Look, Loftus is an admitted liar, whose own family did not trust him...he whines about that in his book.

They knew his history of crime and deception, which he talks about in his book, and they...who knew him best...did not think he was the real deal.

Craig knows it too.

He does not want to give Loftus the Publicity...Publicity which Loftus desperatley needs.

He knows he missed the "new atheist" wave, and whines about how the big boy atheists ignore him.

Of course, apparently he forgot that he put blurbs on the back of his books like "forget Dawkins" and the like.

Now he needs a stunt to get him out of his rut.

Craig, whose coatails he has been RIDING FOR YEARS, is just what he needs.

I hope Bill continues to ignore this guy, and that Johnny continues to devolve into self pitying tantrum throwing.

Papalinton said...

Morrison
Loftus has really got up your nose, hasn't he? And there is nothing you can do about it. You actions are impotent. It must be an awful and galling feeling of dread when realization dawns that even before whatever you do, your attempt has already been characterized as ineffectual, inadequate, weak, feeble, and despairingly useless.

Not much hope springing eternally there for you, I'm afraid.

cipher said...

Absolutely right. If such Christians want to be exculpated from the charge of seedy cowardice, then they ought to post under sobriquets like "cipher," "neo," "morpheus," and "trinity." After all, such monikers absolutely exude courage, in addition to telling the world a lot about yourself.

And, once again - you simply don't get it.

BenYachov said...

>Loftus has really got up your nose, hasn't he?

You are one to talk Paps when one remembers your reaction to Jesse's take down of the OTF.

I for one got the impression you believed somehow "god"(whatever Theistic Personalist idol you once believe in) would be made to exist for you if the OTF failed as an argument.

BenYachov said...

cipher,

The only problem I see with Anon monkers is one can't tell the Atheist Trolls from the Theistic ones vs those who are neither but don't want to get into an argument.

It's confusing.

I have no problem with a passing comments or valid point made by an Anon poster of any stripe.

But the personal attacks are a bit off. I have no problem attacking a person's alleged bad character as long as it is done face to face.

BenYachov said...

BTW Ciper,

>"Man up", indeed. Here's a suggestion, anonymous Christian - "man up" and pick a name.\

If you directed that toward all anonymous trolls regardless of their personal metaphysics that would sound more credible.

Just saying....

Carry on.

Morrison said...

On the contrary, Paps, I have done a great deal.

I have gotten to you. You are so mad you can taste it! If I hadn't, you wouldn't even been responding with a rant.

And you are an old man...in 40 years I will still be younger than you are now.

You are a has been.

Time is on my side.

cipher said...

"If you directed that toward all anonymous trolls regardless of their personal metaphysics that would sound more credible."

That was my meaning.

cipher said...

"And you are an old man...in 40 years I will still be younger than you are now.

You are a has been.

Time is on my side."

Ladies and gentlemen... the future.

Makes me glad we haven't much time left.

unkleE said...

Anonymous aid: "So we should lie and pretend Loftus is really a very major player in atheist apologetics?"
No, who suggested that? But the Bibles says to speak the truth in LOVE. Jesus said to remove the beams from our own eyes before we remove sawdust from someone else's.

"We should not point out, when Loftus demands to know why Craig won't debate him, his track record? His lies? His performance? The frailty of his arguments?"
This avoids the issue I raised. You can point out weaknesses of arguments in love. But some of the the so-called christians here show John what looks like hatred to me. And it spills out to others also.

Have you and other 'christians' considered the possibility that the non-believers goad you to nasty responses to damage the christian cause? And in your zeal, which lacks wisdom and love, you fall right in?

Please consider.

unkleE said...

Morrison said: "I have gotten to you. You are so mad you can taste it! If I hadn't, you wouldn't even been responding with a rant. .... You are a has been. "

Morrison, you say you are a student activist, so I presume you are young and politically motivated. I remember when I was a young christian and thought rude argument was OK, so I can understand your zeal. But zeal must be mixed with wisdom and love. Other people are not our enemies; God loves even the hardest-hearted, and so should we.

May I suggest that if you wish to represent the christian cause, making other people mad is not the way? We are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), to speak words that build up, not tear down (Eph 4:29), to speak with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15-16). Our aim is to win others over (not just your 'opponents' here, but others who are reading and noting your unloving and nasty words).

Please consider.

Anonymoose said...

Well, in spite of his banal, nihilistic ejaculations, at least cipher the Pessimist is a more realistic atheist than his unscrupulously optimistic, godless brethren. (cf. Loftus and Papalinton)


-Anonymoose

Anonymous said...

"This avoids the issue I raised. You can point out weaknesses of arguments in love. But some of the the so-called christians here show John what looks like hatred to me. And it spills out to others also."

UnkleE, I already said that some of what was said here went over the line. But this is not about the "weaknesses of arguments". This is about track record, personality, honesty, and behavior. You're criticizing some of that with some supposed Christians here. Please recognize that these are also failings of Loftus, and they need to be addressed.

This is not just about the weaknesses of his arguments. This is about very real, very valid personal failings. It is not unloving to point them out. I agree that namecalling and bringing up family goes over the line (On the other hand, Loftus brings up his family to make points. Maybe that makes their testimony fair game.) I disagree that we must ignore the very real failings of Loftus.

Christ did not exclusively soft-speak about people's failings. He could be quite direct.

unkleE said...

Anonymous said: "This is about track record, personality, honesty, and behavior. .... Please recognize that these are also failings of Loftus, and they need to be addressed.
I agree that people's failings need to be addressed. But who needs to do it? I need to address mine, you need to address yours, neither of us need to remind John of our opinions on his. And certainly not without love. Beams and motes again.

"Christ did not exclusively soft-speak about people's failings. He could be quite direct."
Yes he could. And he could also be very tender. Do you feel you have his authority to speak judgment on his behalf? Has he given you, or the others, that authority? If not, let us get on with the task of addressing our own failings and loving those who are not yet in the kingdom, in the hope that their hearts may be softened.

Do you really think this scurrilous nastiness is going to soften John's heart? Or are you trying to harden it?

Anonymous said...

"I agree that people's failings need to be addressed. But who needs to do it? I need to address mine, you need to address yours, neither of us need to remind John of our opinions on his. And certainly not without love. Beams and motes again."

Sorry, UnkleE, that's just not right. Apparently you think that if Loftus has a track record of lying, of faking reviews of his books, of misrepresenting people, of mocking people who won't debate him, of being dishonest... a known track record, even a documented one... we should act as if never happened. If Loftus starts saying "Why won't this famous apologist debate me one on one? He's a coward! He's afraid of me! Why wouldn't he debate me otherwise?" what do you think Christ would say? "Clearly, John, it's because you're so handsome and smart."? What purpose would it serve?

"Yes he could. And he could also be very tender. Do you feel you have his authority to speak judgment on his behalf?"

Apparently you do. You feel totally at home with judging everyone else and telling them that Christ would not approve, even when the criticisms are true and relevant, just blunt. You're the only person here presuming to speak with Christ's personal authority. I'm speaking merely as a man who strives to be a Christian. You, meanwhile, are suggesting that if someone is a known and unrepentant liar, it's horrible to point that out even when it's relevant.

I've agreed with you that some of these criticisms of John were over the line. Not all of them. And some of your behavior here is, frankly, sanctimonious.

"Do you really think this scurrilous nastiness is going to soften John's heart? Or are you trying to harden it?"

First off, it's not "scurrilous nastiness". Some comments went too far. Pointing out that John isn't even in WLC's league, that he has an honesty problem, that he's been personally insulting the man and that, frankly, he's more concerned with pursuing notoriety and fame than working out issues is not "nasty". It is, in this case, true. You don't need to enjoy the truth for it to be worth hearing, and important to say.

And I'm not trying to do either. I'm pointing out valid and relevant points about his behavior and his track record, while criticizing others for going too far. I don't know what would soften OR harden John's heart. Neither do you.

Sometimes an alcoholic needs to be told, "You're an alcoholic." Sometimes the guy who goes "Tsk, tsk, tsk... You shouldn't say such things. Beams and motes, beams and motes..." ends up being responsible for a DUI.

unkleE said...

G'day Anonymous, thanks for responding courteously.

" Apparently you think that if Loftus has a track record of lying, of faking reviews of his books, of misrepresenting people, of mocking people who won't debate him, of being dishonest... a known track record, even a documented one... we should act as if never happened."
Your 'apparently' is not in fact correct. If there is a need to keep bringing up these accusations, which I'm sure John already knows about, if there is in fact a constructive reason to do so, then by all means do so, but "do it with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15). But I must say I can't see much of a reason to do so. What purpose does it actually serve?

"I've agreed with you that some of these criticisms of John were over the line. Not all of them."
Read through the discussion again, and count up the number of comments that had a constructive purpose, and the number that had a derogatory purpose.

"And some of your behavior here is, frankly, sanctimonious."
I'm truly sorry about that. But I wonder why you think so? All I've done is suggest that we christians should behave more like Jesus and Paul asked us to do. Is that sanctimonious?

"You feel totally at home with judging everyone else and telling them that Christ would not approve, even when the criticisms are true and relevant, just blunt. You're the only person here presuming to speak with Christ's personal authority."
An interesting accusation Anon. If you check, I have not criticised anyone personally, only the behaviour of some people who I didn't identify. And when I wrote to Morrison, I identified with how he felt. And I don't take on Jesus' authority, just quote him and allow his authority to speak for itself. But when you justify rude behaviour by saying Jesus sometimes was direct, you are claiming to be able to do the same thing. Do you see what a tangle you get into trying to justify this?

"Sometimes an alcoholic needs to be told"
So I challenge you, (1) to state what value you see in these derogatory comments and how they will help John avoid the spiritual equivalent of a DUI, (2) go through the comments and see how many reasonably serve this purpose, and (3) write to WL Craig explaining why his attitude to John is incorrect and he should be more derogatory.

I'm sorry, I know it isn't pleasant to have these things said to you (they are not directed at you personally, I don't know one Anon from another), but we christians need to stop seeing people as enemies - Ephesians 6 makes very clear who our enemies are.

Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

"But I must say I can't see much of a reason to do so. What purpose does it actually serve?"

That John may actually start to accept the reality and react to it, rather than keep on denying it? That others may dig deeper into John's track record and adjust their opinions of him accordingly?

Some people learn best by rote.

"Read through the discussion again, and count up the number of comments that had a constructive purpose, and the number that had a derogatory purpose."

The constructive outnumbers the derogatory.

"I'm truly sorry about that. But I wonder why you think so? All I've done is suggest that we christians should behave more like Jesus and Paul asked us to do. Is that sanctimonious?"

I said you were partly sanctimonious, not wholly. But no, what you did was say the Christians in this thread were being Bad Christians that Christ would not approve of because we were noting John's record. I already admitted some of these comments were over the line. If you were focusing on those comments, I'd be here agreeing with you. You took it upon yourself to apologize for all of us, because you think Christ teaches that when a man lies, harasses, harangues, manipulates, among other faults, the Christian thing to do is to say nothing he doesn't want to hear.

"If you check, I have not criticised anyone personally, only the behaviour of some people who I didn't identify."

And when it was pointed out that some comments went too far and others didn't, you stuck to your accusations. If you think some of the criticisms were valid, now's the time to say as much. If you think none of them were valid, why play this game?

"And I don't take on Jesus' authority, just quote him and allow his authority to speak for itself."

No, you don't. Otherwise you wouldn't be apologizing to John for other "so-called Christians". That's not speaking for itself.

"But when you justify rude behaviour by saying Jesus sometimes was direct, you are claiming to be able to do the same thing. Do you see what a tangle you get into trying to justify this?"

Directly pointing out someone's failings, even in a public forum, is sometimes appropriate. This is not a tangle. Maybe you feel uncomfortable with it, wrongly.

One more time: I think namecalling and bringing up family (with the caveat I said) is over the line. Not nearly most of the criticisms crossed that line.

As for your challenge. 1: If he finally accepts what everyone else can plainly see, it may well take him off the path he's on. If others can accept this, it may take them off a similar path. 2: The majority. 3: Invalid. Craig is doing what he should do: Ignoring John. But John is not within internet earshot of WLC every week. We are.

I don't see John as an enemy in that way. Maybe the problem is that you think telling someone the truth is treating them as an enemy. Not everyone who says "you're an alcoholic" is doing it with the thought "this is my enemy, who I must destroy".

Anonymous said...

Hi John,
you are my role model. Like you, I want to become a blogger with self-published books who acts as if world-famous philosophers are scared to debate me. I intend to include a caricature of J. J. C. Smart into my act. Can you help me come up with a way to lampoon his name? Should I try to find out if he has a blog where I can claim to be the one top apologists for my side in the world? Can you teach me how to photoshop his face on a cat (get it, because he's scared?) if he tells me that he thinks that he just wants to relax and doesn't want to waste his time with people who don't even have doctorates? Also, I realize it's a secret of the trade, but can you let me in on the subtleties of quote-mining negative reviews to make the reviewer sound as if he endorses my books? Primarily, I always feel like I should feel ashamaed of myself when I do so - how did you manage to overcome this?

I hope you respond soon because people wont stop making fun of me.

Sincerely,
a fan

unkleE said...

OK, it is clear we are not going to get anywhere, we obviously have different ideas about what God wants us to communicate to non-believers, and about what is constructive and what is derogatary. So I'll leave it at that. Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

UnkleE,

It was nice talking to you.

Papalinton said...

So who speaks for christianity? UnkleE or Anonymous?
Anyone?

Jake Elwood XVI said...

So who speaks for Atheism? Blue Devil Knight or Papalinton?
Anyone?

I guess both do, but unfortunately only one does it winsomely and effectively.

Anonymous said...

Who speaks for cosmology? Hawking or Penrose?

Who speaks for biology? Gould or Dawkins?

Who speaks for history? Who speaks for philosophy? Who speaks for naturalism? Who speaks for theism?

Behold, the nightmare of the atheist: The complicated world of grey.

Anonymous said...

"But the Bibles says to speak the truth in LOVE. Jesus said to remove the beams from our own eyes before we remove sawdust from someone else's."

"We are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), to speak words that build up, not tear down (Eph 4:29), to speak with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15-16)."

1) The loving thing to do often involves harsh words. If a friend of mine was contemplating doing something depraved I would be harsh with him. Wouldn't you?

2) Eph 4:15 speaks of how we should treat other believers. I do think it has application to our relation with unbelievers though - but don't we have to help tear down Satan's fortress before Christ can become a solid foundation?

3) I don't think gentleness in 1 Peter means what you think it does. It doesn't mean being nice to people. (If it did, it would contradict the command to love, since loving often involves doing things which aren't very nice.) I would read it as a command not to be harsher than is necessary.

4) Finally, respect can't inconsistent with harsh words either - after all, respect is one of the big arguments for the death penalty: if I refuse to put someone to death for a sufficiently serious crime, then I am not respecting him qua person.

John W. Loftus said...

Look who has gotten off topic now!

I've stepped in-between Christians on how to treat people who disagree.

Check it out.

B. Prokop said...

Glad to see you back, John. I was worried something bad had happened to you!

unkleE said...

"The loving thing to do often involves harsh words. If a friend of mine was contemplating doing something depraved I would be harsh with him. Wouldn't you?"
Dear Anonymous, I don't know if you are the same Anonymous as the one I have just concluded a discussion with, but I presume not. But I don't want to repeat myself.

1. If we were addressing a friend, we might speak harsh truth, but it would be in love (Eph 4:15) and the love should be apparent, so that it builds up and doesn't tear down (Eph 4:29). Do you see any love here? It isn't clear to me, and I doubt John feels any of it.

2. I think the justifications are a cop out. I don't see a great deal of concern for a friend in what has been said here, I see ridicule and put-down. I see continual dwelling on someone else's sins. I don't think any of us would treat a friend that way, would you?

3. I wonder whether anyone here ever prays for John, or the other non-believers they are so scornful of? I wonder whether anyone ever asks God if their behaviour is pleasing to him? This is supposed to be a spiritual battle, and for that we don't use the weapons of the world (2 Cor 10:4) but the weapons the Spirit gives (Eph 6:10-20), which includes the gospel of PEACE and prayer.

4. Most people seem to see these discussions as a personal battle, where they seek to get the better of their opponent by whatever means, often snide and belittling, certainly not building up. Do you ever think of this as a gospel opportunity where we have opportunity to help someone we believe is "lost" to come closer to God, and our behaviour might be a factor in turning them away?

5. In the end, all rationalisations founder on the clear commands of scripture, the passages I've already quoted plus:

1 Peter 3:15-16: "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander."

There may indeed be times when something less than "nice" is required, but gentleness and respect, love and building up should be the default.

Forgive me for being direct and 'sanctimonious', I mean you no disrespect. But these things need to be considered. Thanks, and best wishes.

Anonymous said...

unkleE,

I am a different anon, sry.

I assume we both agree that to LOVE someone isn't to give them what they want or what would make them happy, it is to give them what is GOOD for them.

So, what is GOOD for a proud and egotistical to receive? What would be best for them? Surely it is humiliation. They need to be brought low – then they will lose the vices of pride and self-absorption. This is what the harsh talk is meant to achieve.

Frankly, Loftus is a joke, and he doesn't realize this. But it is in his best interests to realize this!

Now perhaps you are worried that people are attacking Loftus not in an attempt to remove his vices, but just because they have hatred and malice in their hearts and here is someone they can attack. In that case, I agree with you that what they do is bad.

I think the best way to test if your motives are pure is as follows: suppose John came out with the following statement tomorrow on his blog:

"Everyone, I'm sorry. I have been setting myself up as something I'm not. I'm not a good scholar, and I'm not a good debater. I have been proud and self-obsessed. I have been more interested in destroying people's faith rather than following the argument wherever it leads. Etc."

Would you still want to attack John then? I wouldn't, since then it would be apparent that what I aimed to achieve by my attacks had happened.

If this happened, John would be closer to restoration with God. He won't get closer if you encourage him in his delusions of grandeur.

So this explains why harsh words to John are both i) building him up in the virtuous life (or attempting to at least) and ii) done out of love.

"There may indeed be times when something less than "nice" is required, but gentleness and respect, love and building up should be the default."

I agree, but we are discussing John's case here, and I can't see that you have made anything approaching a good case that harsh words to John are inconsistent with Christian duty.

unkleE said...

Anon (2) said: "So, what is GOOD for a proud and egotistical to receive? What would be best for them? Surely it is humiliation. They need to be brought low – then they will lose the vices of pride and self-absorption. This is what the harsh talk is meant to achieve."

Anon, thanks for your reply. I think I have said everything I want to say, so I will confine myself to asking you a few questions about the above statement. I hope that's OK.

I have already pointed out a number of NT passages which lead to the view I am presenting, and which you and others are criticising. The full list is at Atheist vs christian internet wars, and I will draw your attention to this one which seems relevant:

"What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?” 1 Corinthians 5:12.

Now the questions:

1. In the light of the 9 passages I quote, do you have any clear NT teachings to support your view, or any reason not to follow the teachings in these nine? Or do you not regard the NT as being important in determining our behaviour?

2. Do you have any leading from the Holy Spirit to take upon yourself the ministry of humiliating John?

3. Do you exercise this ministry of humiliation face-to-face, with your family or work colleagues, or is it just on the internet?

4. Can you give us examples of where this humiliation has indeed led to non-believers losing their vices? Has it further led to them choosing to follow Jesus? Have you seen any sign that it is working with John?

5. Do you have any expert counselling or psychiatric opinion (in addition to the Bible verses I asked for in #1) to support this approach of winning people over by humiliating them? (My experience is that such behaviour further alienates.)

6. Do you regularly pray for John, and for God's wisdom in how you approach him?

I would genuinely be interested in your answers. Thanks, and best wishes.

AnonFundy said...

Morrison called someone a has been. Reminds me of this song. What have you done Morrison, Mr Never Was....

AnonFundy

Anonymous said...

Hi unklee,

I'll say at the outset that I think none of the biblical passages you quote show what you think they show. I hope I can make you see why.

Here are my paraphrases of the verses. My challenge to you is to derive the inappropriateness of strong words to John from these interpretations. If you can't, then you must hold that my interpretation has gone wrong. But if you can't make a case for that, then your complaint is unwarranted.

1 Cor 15:12: "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?”

Paraphrase: "Why should I be overly concerned with the wickedness of those outside the church? Wouldn't it be much better to focus on the wickedness of those in the church?"

(It cannot be a straightforward condemnation of judging because without judging the gospel cannot spread. If you don't tell someone they are a sinner, they aren't going to repent.

Secondly, Loftus is probably read by many believers, so he is having an effect "in the church".)

1 Peter 3:15-16 "But do this with gentleness and respect"

Paraph: "But do this without being harsher than you need to be, and while valuing them qua persons."

Ephesians 4:15 & 29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

No need to paraphrase this one. But it should of course be noted that building someone up in the virtuous life will of course involve knocking them down in other areas (sinful habits, dispositions, etc.).

"unwholesome talk" I read as malicious or dirty talk.

Colossians 4:5-6: "full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

"full of grace" I read as something like "full of an unconditional concern for them".

Titus 3:2: “to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.”

Paraph: "to speak malicious falsehoods of no-one, to value peace, and always to refrain from treating anyone harsher than they need to be."

Notice that to value peace isn't to value it absolutely. Sometimes you go to war out of a desire for peace.

Heb 12:14 “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”

Paraph: "Pursue peace with all"

Again, the value placed on peace is not absolute - one should pursue peace all things being equal. If someone wrongs you and refuses to apologize, I view it as appropriate to cut off ties with that person, to give one example.

Philippians 4:5: “Let your gentleness be evident to all.”

Again, gentleness is refraining from being harsher than is required, not never being harsh.

Colossians 3:12: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

Paraph: "Therefore, as God's chosen, holy and beloved, put on feelings of compassion (genuine concern for them), kindness (a sensitivity to their needs and a disposition to satisfy them when it is good for them), humility, meekness and longsuffering."

But how is this incompatible with harsh words? It is precisely because I am concerned for John that I said he has a disproportionately large ego. I am sensitive to his needs: he needs some humility!

You mentioned some purported justifications on your blog. I thought the first, third and sixth justifications are good ones, I don't know why you dismiss them.

Anonymous said...

Continued...

But the biggest problem with your approach is that you completely ignore the evidence going the other way: the imprecatory psalms, Jesus' often insulting conduct, Elijah mocking the priests of Baal, etc. The Christian position should be derived from an assessment of the total evidence, not the evidence you prefer to focus on.

Now to your questions!

1) I have explained my take on the NT teachings you give, but I believe in the OT too. But as far as the NT goes: Matt 23? Jesus' behavior in general I suppose. Paul also isn't very 'nice' at points.

2) Yes, although my view of being "led by the Spirit" might be a bit different from yours.

3) Yes, it is my attitude to all - try to give them what is good for them, not what they want. If humiliation, then humiliation, if comfort, then comfort.

4) Oscar Wilde. Have you read De Profundis? But its just an obvious fact that this is what humiliation does: it removes cockiness and arogance. Pride goeth before a fall and all that.

5) None, except my own experience. Fellow Christians have humiliated me in the past. At the time I strongly resented it, though now I realize that I deserved what I got, and it was for my long-term good. I wouldn't want to undo what they did.

6) No, because I usually forget about him as soon as I'm off the internet. But maybe I should.

Heb. 12:11 "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."

AnonFundy said...

Yes, it is my attitude to all - try to give them what is good for them, not what they want.

And when in doubt, err on the side of being a jerk? Or in the other direction? You are not Jesus.

unkleE said...

Anon(2): Thanks for your detailed reply. I think I will leave it there. Best wishes.

Steven Carr said...

Dawkins explains why he will not be debating Craig anytime soon.

It appears that Dawkins now knows what Craig believes, which has for some unaccountable reason turned Dawkins stomach.

BenYachov said...

What Dawkins' view on Partial Birth Abortion I wonder? I think we all know.

Gotta love New Atheist Hypocrites who cry over Canaanite children but care nothing for modern children who are painfully executed everyday.

Anonymous said...

"It appears that Dawkins now knows what Craig believes, which has for some unaccountable reason turned Dawkins stomach."

LOL.

No one believes this, not even atheists. :)