For the sake of this argument, the premise is that the atheists are right. God does not exist, and all religions are mistaken about any type of higher power, intelligent design, etc. I want to examine for a moment the pragmatic effects of having Christians in the world.
I know that from time to time Christians do really dumb things. No one is perfect, regardless of religious affiliation. Christians and Buddhists, atheists and believers: we all have skeletons in our closets. So before I even begin, I’m going to give you the Crusades. The whole of Europe was deprived of education, even the ability to read and write. That would include the Bible. So you had thousands of very hot headed religious devotees, that had no clue what to do in the name of Christ. Most of them were wiped out by the bubonic plague, so that worked itself out I think. The Puritans burned some innocent people as witches, and the Protestant Reformation resulted in many Catholics and Protestants killing each other. So yes, by all accounts much blood has been shed and harm done in the name of Christianity over the centuries. These arguments already being conceded, I want to point out the difference Christians make in the world today, regardless of whether they are correct or not in their belief of a deity.
For those Christians who do a good job studying the New Testament Bible and living the Christian life, they make a positive difference in the world. Where are the atheist hospitals? A God-fearing Christian (one can live in fear of God, regardless of His state of existence) is going to be generous, humble, compassionate, truthful, and helpful to his fellow man. What are the qualities of a good employee? We want people working for us that show up on time, do their job to the best of their ability, and are an asset to the company. A good Christian does all those things. What are looking for in an employer? Someone that is fair and honest, even when correction is needed. Also a person that is forgiving and understanding, perhaps even after the time to forgiving is past. A Christian employer is instructed in the Bible to be that way. What qualities make one a good spouse? A teacher? A parent? An administrator? A leader? A servant? If a Christian is reading the New Testament and following the examples given by Jesus, he or she would naturally posses the characteristics sought in each of those positions. Christians also give of their time, money and talent to help the community, and those around them that suffer. Good Christians (and not all are, admittedly) do for others without seeking acknowledgment, compensation, or recognition. They rebuild homes after hurricanes. They give out water, blankets and food to those in need. They staff homeless shelters, volunteer in food pantries, and take the elderly to the doctor.
The world we live in is a messed up place. We’re it not for Christians, whether their faith in God is misplaced or not, the world would be even more heartless and cruel than it is now. So Mr. Atheist: Go on not believing in God. But be warned: if you discourage others to abandon faith, you’re making the world a more miserable place to live in, even for yourself. Christians are busting their butts expecting to be rewarded in the life to come; why do you care if they’re wrong? They make this life better for everyone living in it.
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They make life better for some, but more difficult for others. If you have ever been a
you probably know what I’m talking about.
Robert: No, I haven’t ever been a slave. But the Bible instructs slave owners to treat their subjects with dignity and without cruelty. Slaves are told to obey their masters, and owners are strictly charged with seeing no harm come to their slaves. The slavery of the United States, pre-1863, was absolutely unChristian in every way. Good leaders like Abraham Lincoln and the Rev. Martin Luther King help to right those wrongs in our society.
Woman probably come out better in the Bible than most people realize. Mary is highly exalted in Roman Catholicism. Husbands are instructed in the New Testament to love their wives like their own bodies; and like Christ loved the church, so much that he gave himself for it.
Jesus Christ was a Jew. All the first century Christians in Jerusalem were Jews. During the Holocaust, the United States took in more Jewish refugees than any other country in the world. Christianity is rooted in Judaism.
Homosexuality is a sexual sin; but all people are sinners made in God’s image. Remember that I referenced true believers, “good Christians” in the original article. You may know an idiot Christian that says stuff like “God hates fags,” but that isn’t true.
And, finally, I wrote this article not to make life difficult for a few atheists, just to make atheism a little more difficult for some. Your argument is weak and poorly premised. I declare myself the winner.
Clark 1, Other people 0.
Haha, and just for everyone’s information, I was saying, “Well said” to the original post.
Clark, you wrote:
Right! Because only if the slaveowners had treated their slaves in the proper Christian way, “with dignity and without cruelty,” it all would have been perfectly acceptable!
Sure, as long as they know their proper place:
Timothy 1 2:11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
Timothy 1 2:12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority
over the man, but to be in silence.
Timothy 1 2:13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
Timothy 1 2:14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived
was in the transgression.
The early Christian church fathers took a fairly dim view of women, to put it mildly. Here is Tertullian (c160-c225):
“Do you not realize that Eve is you? The curse God pronounced on your sex weighs still on the world. Guilty, you must bear its hardships. You are the devil’s gateway, you desecrated that fatal tree, you first betrayed the law of God, you who softened up with your cajoling words the man against whom the devil could not prevail by force. The image of God, the man Adam, you broke him, it was child’s play to you. You deserved death, and it was the son of God who had to die!”
Tertullian may be unknown to you, but certainly you’ve heard of Augustine. He wondered, “”Why was woman created at all?” He could not come up with a good answer:
“I don’t see what sort of help woman was created to provide man with, if one excludes procreation. If woman is not given to man for help in bearing children, for what help could she be? To till the earth together? If help were needed for that, man would have been a better help for man. The same goes for comfort in solitude. How much more pleasure is it for life and conversation when two friends live together than when a man and a woman cohabitate?”
I could go on, but you get the point.
Well, that’s just patently false. Read Paul’s epistles.
While other Christian countries gleefully helped Germany send Jews to concentration camps.
I see no denial that Christianity has made life more difficult for homosexuals. At least the Christian bile towards woman has cooled off, but it remains as strong as ever toward these people.
Declaration is basically the only substance of your article, so why should we be surprised?
All the first century Christians in Jerusalem WERE Jews. They still met at the temple during the sabbath, and were not called Christians, but The Way. The Romans believed they were a Jewish sect, not a separate religion. Until the seventh or eight chapter of Acts is where we first see them called Christians.
“While other Christian countries gleefully helped Germany send Jews to concentration camps.” Obviously you haven’t been paying attention to what Clark has been saying. He has made the point before that some who claim to be Christians don’t exemplify Christ at all. The “Christians” you talk about would fit in this category. But please don’t generalize simply because other people said and did something.
Furthermore, the verses you quoted about women are true. but like a good atheist (I’m not sure if you are or aren’t) you take them out of context. Paul was writing this in the context of women in the church setting. This was a cultural thing at the time as well. Women can still lead and participate in the church, it’s just that the Bible says women are not to be in leadership over the church.
Your view of Christianity is based off of taking verses and quotes out of context, and making general assumptions about people.
Thanks Ricky. I was teaching class during the 10 o’clock hour this morning.
Robert is well versed in scripture. I’m sure he’s read the genealogy of Christ in Matthew chp. 1 where in verse 5 Rahab the harlot is mentioned, and in verse 7 the “wife of Uriah,” as in Bathsheba. Two woman are intentionally included in the genealogy of Jesus Christ, when typically a Hebrew genealogy contained only men’s names. Also consider the analogy Jesus gives when weeping over Jerusalem. He asks how many times he would have taken them under his wings like a mother hen. All of Robert’s citations about women are found in Timothy. Has he perhaps not read Corinthians? All the members of that church are believed to be women. But Paul doesn’t tell them to pack up and go home, he instructs them how to run a church in a way that pleases God. And if anyone is in doubt about my own position on women, you could either look up Red Head Rev on my blog roll, or ask my wife of 10 years if “living in submission” has harmed her in any way.
Now, in reference to the original article posted: It is the Christians in our world today who build hospitals, serve as doctors and nurses without pay in 3rd world countries, rebuild homes for hurricane victims, and provide food and shelter for the homeless and starving. Any response to my claim that believers and unbelievers alike benefit from those selfless acts?
As it says in James 1:27, “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
In that respect your claim is exactly right.
Actually, it was the Jews who believed Jesus was the Messiah who called themselves “Followers of the Way”. Outsiders called them “Nazarenes”. They were but one first-century sect. But Paul believed that the message of Christ was not limited to Jews, but to Gentiles as well. So he proselytized to them, instructed them, and settled disagreements between them and the Jewish believers. This is why I suggested reading his epistles. Recall the hullabaloo about circumcision in Galatians, for example. Read Acts 11:1-2, then tell me all the Christians were Jews.
It cannot be claimed that ANY Christian exemplifies Christ, since all are sinners, whereas Christ was (we are told) sinless. Doing evil is a hallmark of everyone, including Christians. This cannot be a factor in differentiating Christians from “Christians”, else no one is a Christian.
Hmm…let’s see if I have this straight. For centuries, the church’s most renowned theologians–those, you know, who developed much of what you believe today–took those verses (and others like them) “out of context”. But it’s strange that only after the notion of women’s rights gained sufficient traction over the past hundred years—a notion strongly opposed by most Christian sects—that we were told such verses were actually taken out of context. In other words, for most of its life, Christianity had gotten it wrong about women, and only relatively recently has it gotten it correct. (Well, not entirely. There are some Christians who still hold to the view that women should be subservient to men.)
Makes you wonder, what other verses does Christianity currently take “out of context” or only apply to a long-past era.
Your point about Christians exemplifying Christ is pointless, because while you are right that all people including Christians are sinners, you forget the fact that there are those who are doing a better job than others. I never said that there are some who exemplify Christ and are sinless.
And with my point about women, you again took MY point out of context, and didn’t even quote the whole thing. The verse that you quoted talks about women IN the church specifically. It is not talking about outside the church, or family life, etc.
Consider this passage in Proverbs 31:
10 A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
This woman appears to be quite respected, happy, adored, loved, cared for, diligent, prosperous, etc. Do you see my point? In a religious setting, Paul believed that women should not lead the church. It doesn’t mean they cannot teach others, or lead people in a religious setting.
Look at things in the context of when, why, and where they were written.
Ricky – not only is the Proverbs 31 woman all the things you listed, but she seems to be buying and selling property, something we’ve been taught that woman didn’t do. Obviously woman had legal rights we were not aware of, even in this ancient culture, or she wouldn’t be described as doing those things. Here is a woman trusted by her husband and family to take care of them.
Robert – You quoted Ricky correctly “All the first century Christians in Jerusalem were Jews,” then either immediately forgot what he said OR NEVER READ IT CAREFULLY in the first place. The Christian believers IN JERUSALEM were Jews first that then put their faith in Christ. Paul’s epistles were written to churches in Italy and Greece, where Gentiles became Christian believers without first being Jewish. If Hebrews was written by Paul, then that’s his letter to believers that were Jewish: but it’s the only one. So, to reiterate: THE CHURCH IN JERUSALEM WERE JEWS. I don’t even remember what the point of that statement was, but do listen to the other half of a conversation, or just wait for your turn?
Clark Bunch wrote,
I never disputed the notion that believers and unbelievers alike benefit from those selfless acts. Muslims–even the terrorist sects like Hamas–do the same thing.
Your claim was that the world would be worse off without God-fearing people, who are expecting to be rewarded, doing these things. I pointed out in reply that while Christians and other religious people may help some, they hurt others. I’ve not seen this refuted. Any response?
Please recall what you previously wrote:
Oh bugger, sorry about the mishap with the blockquote tag
The very first thing I said was that sometimes Christians really screw things up. I thought we could avoid pointing fingers at every mistake the church or individuals ever made. In this day and age, I believe the Christians of the world make it a better place to live. I think it might be extreme to that for centuries women were treated like dogs and viewed as worse. If a Christian reads everything the New Testament has to say about 1) how to treat all people, and 2) how husbands and wives are to treat each other, then noone gets treated like a dog. Men and women are respected in the marital relationship. The two roles are different, but both very important to having a happy home. I DO NOT believe “happily married” is an oxymoran. Partly because my wife and I spent a lot of time BEFORE getting married making sure we agreed on the Biblical precepts of marriage, and what was expected of each partner.
Clark Bunch wrote,
Well, that’s a bit of a retreat from your earlier claim:
This, I think, is a highly dubious claim. Sure, anyone can point to good things their religion does; even Hamas run charities, hospitals, food banks, etc.
The real question is, after consideration of both the good and evil done by Christians, can it be claimed that Christianity has had a net positive benefit for humankind?
A few centuries ago, what you understood these Biblical precepts to be with regards to marriage would look VERY different than what they do now. Women have had to fight tooth and nail–very often in the face of opposition from the Christian church–in order to achieve the measure of equality they enjoy today. Christians today interpret Biblical precepts in light of these changed attitudes–attitudes which they had opposed in the first place.
I agree with Clark and I’m thankful for the Christians who are making this a better place. The stereotype of the bible-thumping, critical Christian is nothing more than a stereotype. Here in Korea, where I live, the Christians are doing many wonderful things — I only know of two vegetarian restaurants in Seoul, and their Christian owned. The Buddhists don’t do much charity wise.
I’m an agnostic, Buddhist pracititioner. (I revere Jesus, but haven’t been convinced of the truth of his claims.)