Saturday, January 10, 2015

Ship in a Bottle

Many years ago, atheist Bernard Williams wrote a celebrated essay on the tedium of immortality. He argued that immortality would be an interminable bore.

No doubt some Christians wonder the same thing. We take it on faith that eternal life won't become a crashing bore, but it's hard to imagine how we'll pass the time. 

I'll discuss this from an apologetic standpoint. Admittedly, what I say will be speculative, but the objection is speculative. Moreover, Christian metaphysics has nearly limitless metaphysical resources. There's almost nothing an omnipotent God can't do. And God's imagination is immeasurably vaster than ours. So, if anything, the danger is to underestimate the live possibilities, not overestimate the live possibilities.

i) In this life we only skim the surface. There are lots of places it would be interesting to see, but due to the brevity of life, we only get to see a tiny sampling.

There is, moreover, a difference between visiting a place and staying there long enough to really get the feel of the place. 

ii) In addition, there are many fascinating sites and events in the past that we never had a chance to see because we didn't live at that particular time. In this life, human existence is severely restricted by time as well as space.

Some natural wonders exist in the past, but not the present. Take a supernova. Or a spectacular waterfall which, due to erosion, no longer exists. 

I'm not suggesting that in the world to come, the saints could physically travel back in time. But God could enable us to experience the past. An immersive experience. As if we were actually there.

iii) Same thing for space exploration. 

iv) Same thing for possible worlds. 

In principle, there are literally an infinite number of interesting things which the saints could do. Things to keep you occupied forever. 

v) However, let's approach this issue from the opposite perspective. One of the regrets we experience in life is that we can't repeat the past. We can never experience the same event  more than once. 

For instance, there are parents who lament the fact that their children grew up too fast. Likewise, there may be particular days we fondly remember. It would be fun to repeat them. 

Even if we can repeatedly do that kind of thing, we can never repeat that exact experience. And even if we can repeat that kind of thing, the element of surprise is lost. It's no longer a discovery. 

As you age, there are fewer pleasant surprises. You know what to expect. 

That can be good in a different way. We look forward to some things precisely because they're familiar. Predictable. Expectation and surprise can both be distinctive goods, but they are mutually exclusive. 

There's a paradox about hearing your favorite musical numbers. Because these are your favorites, you'd like to hear them more often, but the more often you hear them, the less you enjoy them. We get tired of hearing the same piece of music. The charm wears off. So we have to space it out.

There's an episode in Millennium ("A Room with No View") where captives are subjected to the very same song. "Love is blue" plays on a loop-tape. As soon as it ends, it starts right over again–ever few minutes–hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month.

That alone is enough to drive you bonkers. Even if you made your escape, you'd still hear it in your head. Any silence would be filled by that tune playing in your head. You'd have to play other music to counter it. 

In his old age, my great-grandfather moved in with my dad's parents. My grandmother used to bring him books from the library. I think they were murder mysteries. Maybe by the same author.

Problem is, the local library had a very limited supply of murder mysteries. So her solution was to rotate the same dozen books. He'd read through the same dozen books in the same order, then start over again.

Because he was forgetful at that age, he never quite caught onto the fact that he had done this before. For him, rereading the same murder mystery for the fifth time was just like reading it for the very first time. Just as intriguing. Just as surprising. 

vi) Apropos (v), suppose, for the sake of argument, that you'd find the first 500 years of the afterlife sheer bliss, but after that it would begin to pall. It would't be possible to sustain the same level of interest indefinitely.

In that event, suppose that God gave you a blissful 500-year experience which he repeated every 500 years. At the end of 500 years, you went to bed, forgot it all, and woke up the next morning 500 years earlier. Even if you did it a billion times, it would be new to you because you didn't remember having done it before. 

I'm reminded of an episode in Star Trek: TNG ("Ship in a Bottle"):

TROI: You mean he never knew he hadn't left the holodeck?
PICARD: In fact, the programme is continuing even now inside that cube.
CRUSHER: A miniature holodeck?
DATA: In a way, Doctor. However, there is no physicality. The programme is continuous but only within the computer's circuitry.
BARCLAY: As far as Moriarty and the Countess know, they're half way to Meles Two by now. This enhancement module contains enough active memory to provide them experiences for a lifetime.
PICARD: They will live their lives and never know any difference.
TROI: In a sense, you did give Moriarty what he wanted.
PICARD: In a sense. But who knows? Our reality may be very much like theirs. All this might be just be an elaborate simulation running inside a little device sitting on someone's table.
In principle, you could push the rewind button, and they'd experience the same thing all over again, never knowing the difference. 

Gregg Allison on Roman Catholicism: The Heart of the Matter

After the brief introductory materials that I described, Gregg Allison starts right into the meat of his work,“Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment”.

“Chapter 2” is the largest and most important chapter; it’s here where he picks up responding to Leonard De Chirico’s lament that Evangelical perspectives on post-Vatican II Roman Catholicism “must be judged to be deficient in theological insight, especially as far as the recognition of the systemic nature of Roman Catholicism and the theological core of the problem between Roman Catholicism and Evangelicalism are concerned”. (De Chirico, 303).
My assessment of Roman Catholic theology and practice will be on the basis of both Scripture and evangelical theology, so this chapter will begin with a brief explanation of Scripture and its interpretation and will then concentrate on a presentation of evangelical doctrine (pg. 31.)
There may be a number of objections to this approach.

With this assessment being “on the basis of both Scripture and evangelical theology”, someone like Bryan Cross (who has already begun yipping at Allison) will immediately say “that’s begging the question in the dialectical sense”. But that objection fails because Allison clearly defines his primary audience as “evangelicals who desire to become familiar with Catholic theology” and “evangelicals who wish to know better their own evangelical theology as compared to and contrasted with Catholic theology”. So for his two primary audiences, this is a legitimate comparison. It is educational, not polemical.

I’ll go further, and say that Allison’s stated purpose is not to dissuade erstwhile evangelicals from becoming Roman Catholic. The final chapter of his book is devoted to “Evangelical Ministry with Catholics”. That is, “the clear and pointed critique of the doctrines and practices on which Catholic theology disagrees with evangelical theology has not given me any joy. However, this criticism of such divergences, as burdensome as it has been, is necessary for several reasons”:
Evangelical readers of this book know many Catholics and want to understand what they believe and why. Additionally, Catholic readers of this book know many evangelicals and want to understand what they believe and why, and also what their assessment of Catholic theology is. Moreover, dialogue between Catholics and evangelicals will move ahead constructively only if both theological perspectives thoroughly understand each other, both their commonalities and divergences. Finally, Catholics who are journeying toward evangelicalism, and evangelicals who are journeying toward Catholicism, need to know what they are getting themselves into.
He notes rightly that while most people make the journey from one place to another because of “the counsel of a spiritual guide or mentor from the faith toward which the person is traveling”, such journeys frequently are such that “the doctrinal and practical issues that are the focus of this book may not play the key role in the decision-making process”.

As well, Roman Catholics may object because the notion of a unified “evangelical theology”. But Allison paints in broad strokes – he paints “evangelical theology” with a broad brush, and as well, he talks about Roman Catholic “theology and practice”. He does not dive into “Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma”.

What Allison seeks to do, rather, is to recognize the “systematic nature” of Roman Catholicism, its “theological core”, in such a way that evangelicals today can recognize the differences that exist between Protestants and Catholics, and trace them to these differences. These differences have been profound differences since Rome anathematized the Gospel at Trent. And, in my opinion, Rome, while trying to put a pretty face on things at Vatican II, has only worked to solidify and exacerbate the differences.

A friend of mine has said, “the older we become, the more like ourselves we become”. That statement is true of the Roman Catholic religion. It is becoming less and less Christian, as the truly Christian elements within it become hidden further and further in the Roman morass.

So Allison focuses not on “fundamentals” and the minute differences, say, between the de fide definitia and the fides ecclesiastica. He approaches, again with a broad brush, what Roman Catholics believe and practice, specifically as it has been outlined in the most recent “symbol” or “official pronouncement”, the 1992/4 “Catechism of the Catholic Church”.

In doing so, as I’ve said, he picks up where De Chirico has left off:
Additionally, it will propose for the purpose of understanding and assessment an approach that considers Catholic theology as a coherent, all-encompassing system with two major features: the nature-grace interdependence, that is, a strong continuity between nature and grace; and the Christ-Church interconnection, that is, an ecclesiology (a doctrine of the church) that views the Catholic Church as the ongoing incarnation of Jesus Christ. These axioms will also be assessed.
Allison again provides “broad brush” treatments of these two “core” elements: “the nature-grace interdependence” and “the Christ-Church” interconnection.

My hope over the course of the next several blog posts on this topic will be to look at what Allison says about these two items (which he has condensed from the writings of De Chirico), and I’ll expand upon them in the context of some of the larger historical discussions and theologies.

The next several elements in order will include:

·        Scripture and Its Interpretation
·        An Evangelical Vision of Life with God and Human Flourishing
·        Catholic Theology as an All-Encompassing System
o   The Nature-Grace Interdependence
o   An Evangelical Assessment of the Nature-Grace Interdependence
o   The Christ-Church Interconnection

o   An Evangelical Assessment of the Christ-Church Interconnection

Throughout the book, I’ve found that Allison’s presentations of Roman Catholicism are honest, in that he works with great diligence to describe what Roman Catholicism actually teaches (although, as we have seen, on the “Catholics-in-the-pews” side, there is a great deal of unwillingness to actually believe all of that**), and his “Evangelical Assessments” are very thorough (within the “broad brush” method that he uses), and they go very far to explain why I am not, cannot be, and refuse to be, Roman Catholic.

** Maggie Gallagher, writing in National Review, notes, “When large chunks of Mass-going traditional Catholics don’t believe in basic doctrines of the Church, something is going very wrong at the most basic level.” She suggests that “My guess from 30 years of Mass-going is that they seldom or never hear what the Church teaches”, but in that case, what good is the “infallible Church” if “the infallible Church” hierarchy doesn’t actually teach “what the Church teaches”? It’s completely useless. But Roman Catholics want to maintain that there is some form of “pristine Church doctrine”, even though the hierarchy, which is supposed to define, protect, and proclaim that “doctrine”, and it is, in fact, the only source in the world from which we can receive it.

The futility of atheist outrage

Keith Parsons is mad:

I am angry. Very angry. We know that Islamic fanatics are mad dogs whose very humanity has been consumed by their devotion to a rabid religion. We have seen them massacre whole communities of innocent people for no reason other than religious bigotry. We have seen them kidnap hundreds of girls and young women then sneeringly taunt the loved ones of their victims. We have seen them murder and mutilate other girls for the crime of seeking an education.

Now, I happen to agree with him. But Parsons has a problem. He's a militant atheist. There is no eschatological judgment. Terrorists never get their comeuppance. Death is the great leveler. Both good guys and bad guys share a common oblivion. Irreparable harms or wrongs in this life are never rectified, for there is no afterlife, no heaven or hell. 

Even for the handful of terrorists who are captured and punished, their crimes are so far in excess of what human justice can requite that it's pitiful. 

Friday, January 09, 2015

White LGBT rights trump black civil rights

In the pecking order of minority rights, white LGBT rights outrank black civil rights:

Craig and Habermas on miracles

A Fudgesicle's chance in hell

I'm going to comment on an interview with Edward Fudge, the influential annihilationist:

Conditionalists begin with the premise that only God is inherently immortal.First Timothy 6:16 says that only God has immortality in himself. Humans are not naturally immortal. Every moment of our existence is a gift from God. 
How is that a conditionalist distinctive? How does that stand in contrast to what proponents of everlasting punishment believe? Everlasting punishment isn't predicated on the inherent immortality of the soul, as if the soul is indestructible even for God. All creaturely existence is contingent on divine conservation. 
The notion of immortal souls is a pagan Greek myth, brought by converted philosophers into the early Christian church. 
i) Even if that's true of the church fathers, modern proponents of everlasting punishment don't have the same background.
ii) Many Christians espouse the immortality of the soul based on biblical prooftexts for the intermediate state.
iii) We could just as well say that the notion of a mortalism was brought in by pagan philosophy, viz. atomism, Aristotelianism, Stoicism.
iv) I'd add that unitarians accuse Trinitarians of being overly influence by pagan Greek philosophy, too.
If by "strongest" you mean the argument from whose clutches those bound by it find it most difficult to escape, it is not a scriptural argument at all. It is the argument that says: "The church has always taught unending conscious torment and therefore it must be right." Aside from the fact that the assertion itself is false, the sweeping change of mind on this subject is driven most of all by a close reading and examination of the Bible. If someone puts ecclesiastical tradition ahead of biblical teaching, that person is rarely motivated to consider change.
That's scurrilous hasty generalization. It's true that some Christians simply default to ecclesiastical tradition. But what about Adventists who espouse annihilationism because that's what their church has always taught? Likewise, Fudge is a Churches of God minister. But that's a denomination with its own entrenched doctrinal traditions.  
When John 3:16 says the options are eternal life or perish, conditionalists say that means just what it seems to say.
And when Jn 3:36 says "Whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him," is that synonymous with annihilation? 
Even if we knew none of the above, it would not be proper to interpret dozens of clear statements throughout the Bible to fit one or two symbolic passages in the Book of Revelation. It is a well-established rule of interpretation that one should read symbolic or unclear texts in the light of texts that are non-symbolic and clear, not the other way around.Nor is it appropriate to choose an opinion supported by a handful of texts at best and to discard an alternate view that has the support of many multiples more of scripture passages from Genesis to Revelation. The preponderance of evidence favors the latter, and this principle justifies our accepting the conditionalist case even if we have a few unanswered questions remaining.
i) That's methodologically fallacious. If his prooftexts all say the same kind of thing, if they all use the same type of imagery, then it comes down to one interpretation. These aren't different ways of expressing the same ideas, as if each passages makes an independent contribution to the cumulative evidence. Rather, if most of them are all of a kind, then it's a question of how you interpret that kind of imagery. Take fiery images. In each instance, you will offer the same interpretation. You think they mean the same thing. So the strength of the claim is contingent, not on how many prooftexts you can marshall, but on a common interpretation. It's only as good as your singular interpretation of multiple texts. 
ii) Moreover, Fudge says:
The Old Testament uses at least fifty verbs and seventy metaphors or similes to picture the final end of sinners. They will be like:chaff blown away,a snail that melts, grass cut down, wax that melts, andsmoke that vanishes. 
But in that event, it's false to contrast "dozens of clear statements" which allegedly support annihilatioism with a few "symbolic" passages. For by his own admission, his prooftexts employ metaphor and similes. But in that case, we're comparing and contrasting different symbolic representations. It's not dozens of literal statements compared to a few figurative statements. For he concedes that his own prooftexts are figurative as well. 
Suppose you have a 100 Bible passages that describe eschatological "destruction" in terms of burning. But unless you think God literally annihilates the damned by incinerating them, the reductive process is a reductive metaphor. Figurative destruction.

Likewise, unless you think maggots literally consume the damned, then that's picture language. Are the souls of the damned are edible?

What makes it "destructive" is the chosen metaphor. But unless you think the souls of the damned are made of wood, burning them isn't an indication that they are literally destroyed.
When the Old Testament talks about the final end of the wicked, it uses language that sounds like total extinction.
Does this sound like total extinction?
And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt (Dan 12:2).
Is shame and everlasting contempt conceptually equivalent to oblivion? 
Sodom was reduced to ashes and became an example of what awaits the wicked. Jude says that Sodom (which was destroyed forever) provides an example of eternal fire.
The book of Isaiah closes with a scene of the redeemed in the New Jerusalem. God has killed the wicked, whose corpses are being consumed by gnawing maggots and smoldering fire (Isa. 66:24). Malachi foretells a time when the wicked will be set ablaze and burn until nothing is left except ashes under the soles of the feet of the righteous (Mal. 4:1-3).John the Baptist -- He introduces Jesus as the End Time judge who will separate between "wheat" and "chaff," and who will "burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire" (Matt. 3:12).
Does he think the fiery imagery is literal or figurative? Does he think God annihilates the damned by setting them on fire? 
There are two eternal destinies according to Jesus: eternal life and eternal punishment (Matt. 25:46). Both are eternal because they belong to the Age to Come, and also because they do not have an end. 
i) That's a fence-straddling interpretation. Does the adjective really mean both "the age to come" and "never-ending"? 
In principle, if it just means belonging to the age to come, what if the age to come is temporary? Just another epoch? 
ii) Additionally, if the damned cease to exist, then their punishment comes to an end. 
iii) And how, moreover, can nonentities weep and grind their teeth? 
We know what "life" means, but what is the form of this "punishment"?  It is the destruction of both soul and body (Matt. 10:28), a destruction that is eternal (2 Thes. 1:9). It is eternal, total, capital punishment that will never be reversed.
i) Does this mean Fudge is a dualist? Does he affirm an immaterial soul? If so, how does physical fire consume an immaterial soul? 
ii) If the soul doesn't survive the death of the body, then by killing a man you zap him out of existence. A human assailant has the power to destroy both body and soul by murdering the victim. But that weakens or erases the contrast between human persecutors and the divine judge. 
iii) How, moreover, does fire literally annihilate evil spirits?
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Mt 25:41).
Does Fudge think angels are combustible? Are angels composed of flammable material? If not, then this is figurative imagery. 
iv) Furthermore, how is annihilationism consistent with passages which say eschatological punishment is worse than oblivion?
The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born (Mt 26:24). 
28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? (Heb 10:28-29).
If the damned pass out of existence, then it's as if they never existed in the first place. 
The wicked city "Babylon," is pictured as a woman. In Chapter 18, her judgment is "torment and grief," which turns out to be death, mourning, and famine, and she is consumed by fire. It is not unthinkable, therefore, to understand "torment" of the devil, beast and false prophet as death and consumption by fire which is never reversed.Interestingly, there are no people in this verse--only the devil, beast and false prophet. The latter two are symbolic personifications of anti-Christian institutions: ungodly government (the Roman state) and antichrist religion (the emperor cult).
i) To begin with, many Christians think the Bible teaches a personal Antichrist.
ii) In addition, assuming that the beast and the false prophet are personifications, the "whore of Babylon" is undoubtedly a personification. How can Fudge say, on the one hand, that the fate of the beast and the false prophet don't indicate the fate of the damned inasmuch as these are personifications, but on the other hand,  the fate of the whore of Babylon does indicate the fate of the damned, even though that's surely a personification?
By the time the vision reaches the point described in Revelation 20:10, all human followers of the beast and false prophet already have been killed, either by sword in the first diabolical mustering of troops against the Rider on the White Horse (Rev. 19:21), or by fire from heaven in the second such adventure a thousand years later (Rev. 20:9).
i) How is that inconsistent with the opposing position? Proponents of everlasting punishment don't deny that God's enemies sometimes suffer physical death. So that observation misses the point. 
ii) Moreover, what about statements in Revelation which indicate the continued existence of the damned after the dust settles: 
27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life (Rev 21:27). 
14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood (Rev 22:14).
You have two groups: the saints who dwell in the New Jerusalem, and the damned who are barred from the New Jerusalem.
The story of the Rich Man and Lazarus says nothing about the nature of hell or what happens to those who finally go there. ..At most, this story might say something about an intermediate state for unfaithful Jews at some time before Jesus died and rose from the dead. However, neither the context nor the punch-line is about any intermediate state of the dead, so we need not think that this parable teaches even that.
i) It's more accurate to say the parable doesn't bother to distinguish between the intermediate state and the final state.
ii) The parable classically illustrates the reversal of fortunes. The righteous who suffer in this life will prosper in the afterlife while the wicked who prosper in this life will suffer in the afterlife. But annihilationism destroys the antithetical parallelism. 

iii) Notice that in this parable, fire represents punitive pain and suffering (e.g. thirst) rather than destruction. Fudge constantly assumes that fire signifies destruction. He ignores the symbolic range of fire. 
Take a passage that's quite similar to annihilationist prooftexts: Mt 7:24-27. The theme of total loss. Total destruction.

Yet it would be silly to say that describes the annihilation of the lost. Rather, it describes the total destruction or total loss of everything they live for, everything they acquire. Even though this passage ultimately refers to the eschatological judgment that awaits those who build on a sandy foundation, it doesn't imply the total destruction of the unbeliever, but rather, the total loss of his cumulative achievements, of everything he aspired to. At the end, he is bereft.

A contemporary analogue would be a shady business man (e.g. Bernie Madoff) who suffers utter ruin when he's caught and convicted.

What makes it punitive is that he exists to experience the consequences of his folly.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Moving Forward in the Current Israeli Conflict

Sam Harris's scientific credentials

Cussing Christians

In this post I'm going to venture some comments on the touchy subject of whether it's ever morally permissible for Christians to use obscene language. This isn't the most elevated topic to discuss, but it is a practical and unavoidable question. After all, most Christians talk to other people many times a day. 
Before assessing specific verses, I'd like to make some preliminary observations:
i) At one extreme are Christians who think it's always wrong. They cite commands like Eph 4:28 & Col 3:8. And I agree with them that such passages represent the default position on Christian discourse. But whether that ever allows for obscenity is the very question at issue. There are other passages of Scripture to consider.
At the other end of the spectrum are professing Christians whose use obscenity as freely and frequently as unbelievers. For instance, I've encountered this among Lutherans.
When I say "extreme," I'm not using that as a pejorative adjective. Rather, these simply represent opposite ends of the spectrum. One extreme could be right, or both could be wrong.
ii) It's striking that the KJV is somewhat earthier than the NIV. 
iii) The concepts of obscenity and indecency overlap. In terms of social mores (not to be confused with objective morality), what's considered indecent or not depends in part on how much physical privacy is available for bathing, excreting, or copulating. In a modern home where everyone has their own bedroom and bathroom, that physical privacy fosters a sense of decency that isn't practical in settings which lack those accommodations. 
On a related note, back when many people lived on farms and ranches with barnyards and outhouses, when people rode horses everywhere, when urban dwellings didn't have indoor plumbing, human life was a lot earthier. Our Lord's indecorous explanation in Mk 7:19 is a case in point. 
Likewise, before the invention of swimwear, swimming in the nude was more socially acceptable–in some settings. 
At the same time, the fact that modern homes have more privacy also reflects a popular demand for more privacy. So there may well have been a percentage of the population that was always uncomfortable with lack of privacy, but conditions at that time and place made it unavoidable. 
iv) Another example of variable social mores concerns religious sensibilities. For instance, semi-public nudity (e.g. a locker room) is taboo in Islam in a way that's not the case in Western society generally–or Christianity, for that matter.
v) As a rule, a good English translation should render Greek and Hebrew into idiomatic equivalents. If a Bible character was speaking in idiomatic English, what words would he use? 
vi) The English language has a variety of words and phrases for excretion, copulation, and related anatomy. This ranges from medical nomenclature through neutral lay language to obscene slang.
Although these are synonymous, we need to distinguish between denotations and connotations. Two words can have the same meaning, but one is obscene and the other is not. They share the same denotation but have different connotations. 
Obscene language depends on connotations as well as denotations. A word with a particular affect. 
vii) In terms of ancient languages, I doubt that we can usually tell which words were obscene. I doubt we can tell from the written word if particular words were obscene. I suspect that requires experience with hearing how the spoken language is used in daily situations. There may be some exceptions, like ancient graffiti.
viii) It's possible to compose an obscene word-picture without using obscene words. What makes it obscene is the verbal imagery. 
ix) To my knowledge, Biblical Greek and Biblical Hebrew don't contain the same range of synonyms (for excretion, copulation, and related anatomy) that we have in English. Therefore, it would be harder for a modern reader to determine if a Bible writer is using a word with a specialized obscene connotation. 
However, that might still be evident based on context, rather than lexical semantics. 
Ancient Hebrew, and especially ancient Greek, might well have many obscene words which never made it into the Bible. So we don't have the same frame of reference as we have for English usage. 
Likewise, we need to be cautious about construing Biblical usage based on types of literature which it's unlikely that Bible writers read. For instance, it's unlikely that a pious Jew like St. Paul ever read X-rated Greek plays–much less attended such performances. 
To the extent that Paul was familiar with Greek obscenities, that would be street Greek. Something which, like it or not, he picked up through cultural osmosis. 
x) Years ago I was reading a book by linguist Charles Berlitz. As I recall, he mentioned that certain Chinese cities have names which are homophones for obscene English words. The "obscenity" is purely adventitious. A linguistic coincidence. 
Now let's shift to some specific candidates:
xi) Phil 3:8. Here Paul uses a word which in English can mean excrement or garbage. It sometimes has the specific connotation of scraps that dogs eat.
Scholars differ on what denotation Paul intends. O'Brien thinks it means "excrement," but doesn't explain why he favors that denotation. BDAG (932b) agrees with O'Brien. As does Hansen. 
Silva thinks it's a double entendre. It plays on the connotations of excrement as well as folk etymology involving dog scraps. 
However, Bockmuehl thinks the etymology is anachronistic. Fee thinks it's a canine pun directed at the Judaizers. He argument doesn't depend on folk etymology. 
Although he and Silva don't spell that out, I assume that would trade on the fact that dogs were ritually impure–because they were scavengers. So that would be quite a slap at the Judaizers. 
So it's quite possible that this is a play on words. But even if it means "excrement," that's not necessarily the same thing as scatological language in the obscene sense. For instance, "excrement" and "mature" are neutral terms. 
Spicq glosses the phrase as "It's all crap." However, that's an English translation of a French rendering of a Greek word! 
So unless the word was a specialized synonym, I think this verse is inconclusive.
xii) 1 Cor 6:9. According to Gordon Fee, in his revised commentary on 1 Corinthians:
There is no question as to the meaning of the koitai part of the word; it is a vulgar slang for "intercourse" (269). 
[Boswell] himself points out the vulgarity of the word by offering the English equivalent; what Boswell seemed to have missed is that for a long period this English equivalent was also seldom found in literature of the kind preserved for posterity for the same reason the Greek one was avoided–it would ordinarily have offended good taste. Paul apparently is not above the use of such if it will make its proper impact (269n245).
This suggests that Paul used the equivalent of the F-bomb. However, I'm dubious about the analysis:
a) Boswell is an unreliable source. He was a homosexual apologist who died of AIDS. 
b) Was Paul conversant with the same profane literary usage? Did he move in those social circles? 
c) I think it's a semantic fallacy to construe koitai in isolation. Paul uses that in a compound word, based on Lev 18:22 & 20:13. Therefore, the denotation and connotation derive from the OT counterpart, not from contemporary Koine Greek.
So I think these two Pauline candidates are inconclusive, although I could be mistaken. 
xiii) 1 Kgs 18:27. That's a taunt, using bathroom humor. Less than obscene, but intentionally crude.
xiv) Judgs 3:19-26. exploits bathroom humor. This may fall into the genre of slave writing, where the oppressed describe their overlords in humiliating situations.
It's scatological humor without using scatological slang. 
xv) 2 Kgs 18:27. This is a taunt or threat by a pagan soldier. If he was speaking in idiomatic English, he'd use vulgar slang. 
It's not so much the specific terminology, but the context, that makes it intentionally vulgar. 
This is a case of the narrator quoting a character. 2 Chron 10:10 is similar.

Same with 1 Sam 20:30. But the idiomatic English equivalent of Saul's expletive has become so conventional that it's lost much of its string. 
xvi) Judgs 5:30. This is essentially a boastful speech put in the mouth of conquering soldiers who claim women as booty. 
Although it literally speaks of "wombs," that's a bit euphemistic in context. If they were bragging in idiomatic English, they'd use obscene slang.
xvii) Ezk 16 & 23. In his commentary, Bock says:
They present serious problems for the commentator, who must clarify the author's intention, and even more so for the modern translator, who feels constrained to tone down the language in respect for sensitivities of the target audience…For the translator whose aim is equivalent impact, the line between appropriate shock and offensive lack of taste is extremely fine. I have tried to respect this distinction by rendering these expressions euphemistically in the translation, and leaving the literal interpretation for the commentary (1:467).
I don't know if Ezekiel uses obscene language, but he does draw obscene word-pictures in chaps. 16 & 23 for shock value, to reach his hardened audience. 
This is quite exceptional in Scripture. But it does indicate what's morally permissible in principle, under analogous circumstances.

xviii) Ezk 6:4. As two major commentators explain:
Modern sensitivities prevent translators from rendering this expression as Ezekiel intended it to be heard, but had he been preaching today, he would probably have identified these idos with a four-letter word for excrement. D. Block, The Book of Ezekiel: Chapters 1-24 (Eerdmans 1997), 226. 
Most English translations avoid conveying the actual sense of the term so as not to offend modern readers, but the scatological term was chosen deliberately to be offensive. This commentary usually translates it as "fecal deities" to convey the sense…If anything, our translation is still a bit "sanitized." H. Hummel, Ezekiel 1-20 (Concordia 2005), 193. 
xix) Obscenity is hardly a neglected feature of the pop culture. Very explicit about heterosexual activity, but ironically prudish about homosexual activity.
As a rule, I think Christians should avoid obscenity. But that's not a moral absolute. Based on Scripture, I think some Christians should be more inhibited in that respect while some other Christians should be less inhibited in that respect.

Stratfor analysis of the “Religion of Peace”

Paris Attack Underscores Malaise:
Wednesday's deadly attack against a French satirical publication has the potential to upset relations between European states and their Muslim citizenries. The strategic intent behind such attacks is precisely to sow this kind of crisis, as well as to influence French policy and recruit more jihadists. Even though Islamist extremism is, at its core, an intra-Muslim conflict, such incidents will draw in non-Muslims, exacerbating matters.

Anglicanism: It’s not what you think it is

The Gospel Coalition has a very good overview article. Here are some things you may not know about Anglicanism:

1. Since the arrival of Christianity in Britain in the 3rd century, British Christianity has had a distinct flavor and independence of spirit, and was frequently in tension with Roman Catholicism.

2. The break with Rome in the 16th century had political causes, but also saw the emergence of an evangelical theology.

3. Anglicanism is Reformed.

4. Scripture is the supreme authority in Anglicanism.

5. Justification by faith alone is at the heart of Anglican soteriology.

6. In Anglican thought, the sacraments are "effectual signs" received by faith.

7. The Anglican liturgy—best encapsulated in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer—is designed to soak the congregation in the Scriptures, and to remind them of the priority of grace in the Christian life.

8. Anglicanism is a missionary faith, and has sponsored global missions since the 18th century.

9. Global Anglicanism is more African and Asian than it is English and American.

Read the entire article here for more details.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Is homosexual sin no worse than any other sin?

Typology and allegory

There is in fact a significant difference between allegory, in Philo's sense of the term, and typology. Allegory postulates a parallel, correspondence, or resonance between two sets of ideas; typology (broadly speaking) postulates a parallel or correspondence between two sets of events or persons. 
James Smart expresses this contrast in theological terms. "Typology is distinguished from allegory by the fact that it fastens onto the historical reality of the event, where allegory disregards the historical reality and draws out a contemporary meaning that has nothing to do with the original event."A. Thiselton, Hermeneutics: An Introduction (Eerdmans 2009), 84.

Madonna, It’s Time To Act Your Age

Although I don't agree with all of this, which is a bit too careerist, it's generally on-target:

Teen wolf

Some LGBT activists think Christian parents should be prosecuted if they seek Christian counseling for a teen who suffers from gender dysphoria. If your son says he's really a girl or your daughter says she's really a boy, you should affirm their self-identification.
Do they apply the same logic to anorexia? What happens when other people see a gaunt teenage girl and think to themselves, "She's awfully thin. She's downright emaciated"–but when the gaunt teenage girl looks at herself the mirror, she thinks to herself, "I'm fat! I need to diet!" 
Should her parents say, "Yes, honey, you need to starve yourself." 
What about someone who suffers from species dysphoria. Take lycanthropy. He self-identifies as a wolf.
Should we let him run around naked in the woods in sub-zero temperatures, looking for raw muskrat meat to consume? Should we let him die of hypothermia or malnourishment? Or does he require a medical intervention?

What about people who self-identify as Christian?

On the one hand, LGBT activists lobby to outlaw Christian counseling for underage teenagers who suffer from gender dysphoria. If a teenager self-identifies as transgender, we should respect their self-identification.
Indeed, LGBT activists lobby to ban therapy for adults who consent to counseling for homosexuality or gender dysphoria. 
On the other hand, here's a prominent atheist who believes people who self-identify as Christian should be involuntarily committed to undergo psychiatric treatment: 
There is perhaps no greater contribution one could make to contain and perhaps even cure faith than removing the exemption that prohibits classifying religious delusions as mental illness. The removal of religious exemptions from the DSM would enable academicians and clinicians to bring considerable resources to bear on the problem of treating faith, as well as on the ethical issues surrounding faith-based interventions. In the long term, once these treatments and this body of research is refined, results could then be used to inform public health policies designed to contain and ultimately eradicate faith. Peter Boghossian A Manual for Creating Atheists (Kindle Locations 3551-3555).

A Reformed Perspective on Natural Beauty

Stephen Wolfe has written a blog post entitled “A Reformed Perspective on Natural Beauty”. How does God reveal himself in nature? “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.”

I admit that my attempt to describe the perception of eschatological beauty lacks clarity. But I’m in good company, because I find no place in Calvin where he made the attempt. He says, counterintuitively, that “faith is…looking at things that are invisible” (emphasis mine). How can one look at the invisible? “Looking,” of course, is used metaphorically for a form of perception. But that illustrates the problem: all descriptor are metaphors. It is difficult to get to the literal. I do not have a satisfactory answer to this problem. I will simply say, with Calvin, that the future glory can be perceived by faith.

This post is groundwork for what I hope becomes a discussion among Reformed Christians on the subject of beauty, especially on the perception of eschatological beauty. I welcome the reader’s thoughts.

Read more here.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

The tipsy philosopher

Having lost the argument with Jason Engwer on the Synoptic nativity accounts, Jonathan Pearce has shifted to the Resurrection. He emptied his six-shooter, but had nothing left to reload it with. 

I also see that Jayman is patiently trying to talk some sense into the village atheists. Jayman is a rarity among Catholic bloggers: he reads scholarly commentaries (Catholic, Protestant, Jewish) on the Bible.

Dan Savage

Dan Savage has been attacking the parents of Josh Alcorn. That's not surprising. No one is more bitter than an aging homosexual. Take the late Gore Vidal. Or Truman Capote. Surely that's one reason why Savage is so vicious and angry. He isn't getting any younger. 

Rewriting history

One stock objection to Bible history is that it's one-sided. We only have that "biased" version of events. For instance, we don't have Egyptians sources which record the Ten Plagues.

One of the ironic things about this objection is how trusting it is with regard to extrabiblical accounts. As if Scripture is biased, but Roman, Assyrian, Neo-Babylonian, or Egyptian accounts would be objective.

Let's take some comparisons. Several years ago, Hillary Clinton published her memoirs: Living HIstory. Dick Morris, long time confidant and advisor to the Clintons, published a counter version of events: Rewriting History.

Now, I admit that I haven't read either one. But it's safe to say that these two accounts present mutually unrecognizable versions of the same person. Yet they can't both be right.

Or consider the conflicting accounts of Bill Clinton by Sidney Blumenthal and Christopher Hitchens. 

Likewise, take the Bush 43 administration. On the one hand, Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld have all published memories of their time in office.

If, however, you compare that to NYT coverage of the Bush administration, these are mutually unrecognizable versions of the same administration. Or consider different versions of a police shooting. 

What reason is there to think that Roman, Assyrian, Neo-Babylonian, or Egyptian accounts wouldn't be just as partisan, just as skewed–especially if this involves a humiliating defeat? 

Moreover, look at how the liberal media reports on Christians? The blinding ignorance. Compare and contrast that with what we really know to be the case, from firsthand experience. 

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine

People have different ways of grieving. This can be affected by one's worldview and culture.
1. In Buddhism, all good things come to an end because everything is temporary. So practice detachment. 
2. New Age psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross famously presented a five-stage model of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. 
i) But she herself later admitted that this is too schematic. 
ii) We also need to distinguish between how people grieve, and how they ought to grieve. Even assuming her model is empirically accurate in many cases, that doesn't mean this is how people are supposed to grieve.  
iii) In addition, her scheme is rather simplistic and confused. Normally, the concept of grief has reference to surviving loved ones, and not the decedent. We don't typically think of a terminally ill patient as "grieving." To conflate the two muddles the analysis. Grieving typically occurs after death, not beforehand. 
In cases where there's a terminal prognosis, both the patient and her loved ones will often experience emotional turmoil. But we need to distinguish between dread and mourning. The bereaved aren't typically in denial about the death of their loved one. And at that point, bargaining is moot. There's a difference between resignation in the face of death and resignation to life without a loved one–after their passing. 
3. More generically, grieving is often treated as a process. Supposedly, it's normal to pass through certain stages. One you complete the grieving process, you're able to "put that behind" you and "move on." That's part of the emotional "healing" process. Otherwise, you "prolong" the grieving process. "Unresolved" grief creates further problems. So you need to "accept" the loss. One secular source tells us that unresolved grief is characterized by  "intense longing and yearning for the deceased," "intrusive thoughts or images of your loved one," "feeling that life is empty or meaningless," and "wishing you had died with your loved one." Another secular source tells us that "healing can begin once the loss becomes integrated into our set of life experiences."
4. Atheist Daniel Dennett says:
Whenever an animal treats something as an agent, with beliefs and desires (with knowledge and goals), I say that it is adopting the intentional stance or treating that thing as an intentional system.
So powerful is our innate urge to adopt the intentional stance that we have real difficulty turning it off when it is no longer appropriate. When somebody we love or even just know well dies, we suddenly are confronted with a major task of cognitive updating: revising all our habits of thought to fit a world with one less familiar intentional system in it…A considerable portion of the pain and confusion we suffer when confronting a death is caused by the frequent, even obsessive, reminders that our intentional-stance habits throw up at us like annoying pop-up ads but much, much worse. We can't just delete the file in our memory banks, we wouldn't want to be able to do so. What keeps many habits in place is the pleasure we take from indulging in them. And so we dwell on them, drawn to them like a moth to a candle. We preserve relics and other reminders of the deceased persons, and make images of them, and tell stories about them, to prolong these habits of mind even as they start to fade. D. Dennett, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (Penguin 2006), 110, 112.

5. So what's the Christian perspective?

i) It's often said that the bereaved need to have regular contact with friends and family. But I wonder if that equally applicable to extroverts and introverts. I imagine that introverts, who are already emotionally drained by grief, would find it exhausting to entertain comforters and well-wishers. I expect introverts would like some time alone to process their feelings. Perhaps in their case it's more a question of being available to them and letting them initiate contact. Minimally, I suspect introverts prefer a select few friends or family members to contact or have around. 

Grief is a very private affair: a world within a world. The world can't see the grieving heart. 

ii) How people grieve should depend in part on how close they were to the decedent. How important that person was to them. And that calls for some prioritization. In a modern mobile, urban society, thousands of people pass through our lives. People we knew for a few weeks or months. A barber. A cashier. Classmates. School teachers. 

People come and go throughout our lives. The core relationships are few.

I think one danger of social media is confusing friends with causal acquaintances. Or becoming emotionally invested in perfect strangers, because their death made the headlines. 

As a rule, the death of a pet shouldn't hit as hard as the death of a friend or member of your immediate family. An exception might be elderly widows whose dog is their only companion. 

iii) Coping depends on part on what compensatory relationships the bereaved may have. A childless widower may be in a very different position than a widower with grown children. But even in the latter case, grown children frequently live out of state. They only see their parents for an annual holiday trip back home. 

iv) How people should grieve also depends on the time of life. Take a man who loses his wife to cancer in his mid-fifties or sixties. He's at that awkward time of life when it's too soon to die but too late to start over again. Telling him to "let go," say "good-bye," and "move on" is cruel. He has no life to go back to. He made his life with her. He can't just pick up where he left off at 20. He's beyond the point at life where he can turn over a new leaf. The lifecycle has unrepeatable, irreversible stages. 

On a related note: years ago I saw a TV special about a mother whose grown daughter had been murdered. The killer was caught and convicted. She was screwing up her courage to confront him in prison.

Her daughter was the apple of her eye. She was countering on having that daughter to comfort her in old age. There was no gluing the pieces back together, for the key piece was missing. Her daughter was the one person she could not afford to lose, yet she lost her anyway. She can't put her daughter's death behind her, for everyday she must face the effect of her death. She was left behind. A present blessing becomes an accursèd absence.

There are people we live for. They aren't just bridges on the journey of life. 

v) Many mourners continue to have social obligations. They can't allow themselves to be paralyzed by grief. They may have dependents. People who need them. 

vi) It's true that we need to "accept" the death of a loved one. They're not coming back. Not physically, at least. (There are credible claims of apparitions, butven that's temporary.) 

But when secularists say that, they mean something more radical. They're referring to the "finality" of death. Whatever you had with that person is now forever in the past. You will never see them again. They aren't waiting for you. All you have are pictures and memories. 

As a result, secularists think you have a duty to "let go" and put that phase of your life behind you. Yearning for the deceased is futile. They are long gone, period. This world is all there is. "Prolonging" the process is pointless. You can never have them back. The prospect of reunion is delusional. 

There's an ineluctable element of cruelty to secular grief-counseling. From their standpoint, that's really merciful, because it's better for you not to cling to false hope. Ultimately, your loved one was just a stepping stone on the journey of life. Don't look back. 

It's a worldview in which everyone is dispensable and disposable. Get used to it.  Machines wear out. You need to be tough-minded and face the facts. 

Clearly the Christian outlook is fundamentally different. In that respect, grief isn't necessarily a process. It's not like putting pictures in a box, putting the box on a shelf in the closet, and making a fresh start. Rather, it's something you may carry around with you, like a picture in a locket, until you rejoin them in the world to come (assuming  both of you are saved).

An Argument That Baptismal Regeneration Isn't In The Earlier Fathers

In a recent thread, Ken Temple asked me what I think of Timothy Kauffman's argument that most of the church fathers of the earlier centuries didn't advocate baptismal regeneration. You can read my response in that other thread. And here's a page at Kauffman's blog that links all six parts of his series. Though I disagree with Kauffman's primary argument, he makes some good points and cites a lot of significant material.

Inventing the next Matthew Shepard

LGBT propagandists are laboring to make Josh Alcorn the next Matthew Shepard, so that Alcorn will be to the transgender cause what Shepard was to the homosexual cause. And in the process, his parents are being vilified and threatened. I'd like to make a few related observations:

i) In his suicide note, he said:

I’m never going to find a man who loves me.

Let's take that at face value. By his own admission, he was sexually attracted to other men. And physically (i.e. genetically, morphologically) he himself was a young man.

Is that how you define transgender? If a man is sexually attracted to other men, that's homosexual, not transgender. 

ii) Apropos (i), it's not uncommon for homosexual liaisons to be a travesty of heterosexual liaisons. By that I mean, one homosexual partner assumes the stereotypical role of the husband. The dominant party. While the other homosexual partner assumes the stereotypical role of the wife. The receptive party. 

Isn't that exactly the role Josh was casting himself in? The wifely role in a homosexual liaison? 

iii) His parents are being vilified for allegedly precipitating his suicide because they didn't affirm his true identity. If only they had, he'd have enjoyed a normal healthy lifespan. So goes the contention.

If, however, he was homosexual (see above), then by affirming his homosexual proclivities, they'd be affirming his pursuit of a homosexual lifestyle. But in that event, he'd fall prey to all the many life-threatening diseases and medical complications associated with sexually active sodomites. 

So the alternative to their taking a Christian position would not have been to steer him into a long, healthy life. Rather, that would have confirmed him in a dangerous and disease-ridden lifestyle. 

iv) Of course, the choice between suicide and sodomy is a false dichotomy. There is a third alternative. 

Monday, January 05, 2015

It's broke

I'm reposting some remarks I made at Denny Burk's blog, in response to a couple of commenters, on the suicide of Josh Alcorn:

steve hays January 3, 2015 at 10:04 pm #

“Stop loving people as you wish to love them. Just don’t do it. Love them as they ask.”
What if somebody’s a masochist. What if they suffer from deep self-loathing, and feel they deserve to be hurt. Would you “love” them as they ask (by whipping them)? Or would you treat they as they ought to be loved, despite their request to be brutalized?
steve hays January 3, 2015 at 10:23 pm #
If you think there aren’t real people who suffer from self-loathing and feel they deserve to be hurt, you don’t know as much about the human condition as you presume to. The fact that you think I’m kidding speaks volumes about your provincial understanding of the real world. You need to learn more and moralize less.
steve hays January 3, 2015 at 10:38 pm #
We got to it because I’m answering you on your own terms. You framed the issue in terms of “loving” people as they ask rather than how we wish to love them. You need to keep track of your own argument. Does your reaction mean you’re retracting your original claim? Do you now admit that it is wrong to treat people the way they ask if, in fact, what they ask is harmful to them?
steve hays January 3, 2015 at 11:59 pm #
So, by your own admission, you suffer from a persecution complex.
Actually, the bullies are the gay and trans lobbyists who put elderly florists out of business.
steve hays January 3, 2015 at 10:51 pm #
BTW, if a person suffers from xenomelia, should we “love them as they ask” by consenting to their surgical mutilation? How, if at all, do you consider xenomelia to differ from gender dysphoria? Is dismembering them upon request the right and loving thing to do?
steve hays January 3, 2015 at 11:55 pm #
So you're ducking the question. Why is that?
This is called an argument from analogy. You make a claim, I give a counterexample. It’s a test of your consistency–or lack thereof.
Amputation is to xenomelia as a sex-change operation is to gender dysphoria. That’s the comparison.
You said we should love people as they ask, not as we wish to love them. Very well then. How should someone with xenomelia be treated? Should we grant their request to be dismembered? That would be doing what they ask. Do you have a consistent principle? Or do you make ad hoc exceptions depending on your personal proclivities?
steve hays January 4, 2015 at 12:25 am #

“I’m not hiring you as my surgeon.”
You seems to have difficulty following your own argument. Let’s try again. Your stated principle is that we should love people as they ask, not as we wish to love them.
So the question is how you think we should treat people who suffer from xenomelia. Is it loving to dismember them upon request?
“you are describing a surgery that removes key body parts.”
How is excising arms or legs the removal of key body parts, but excising sex organs not the removal of key body parts? The body can survive in either case.
Which is what makes people who suffer from xenomelia analogous to people who suffer from gender dysphoria.
“If you were to start driving people with the condition of xenomelia into killing themselves by telling them their identities are worthless or wrong, then we’d have an actual analogy on our hands.”
What if their “identity” is a mental illness? Should no one be diagnosed as having a mental illness?
steve hays January 4, 2015 at 12:48 pm #

“if people can’t even respect someone enough to call them by THEIR name and gender”
That’s why I, for one, refer to Alcorn by his real name and gender. He real name was Josh (not Leelah) and his real gender was male.
It’s a pity that transgender lobbyists disrespect his true identity. They care more about their ideology than they do about people.
“I stand by my statements that the overwhelming ignorance and hatred here is not fitting of adults and especially not adults who consider themselves to be pious Christians.”
What’s truly hateful is people who condemn folks like Josh Alcorn to an unnatural, self-destructive identity and lifestyle, by refusing to offer them hope of possible restoration in this life or the next.
steve hays January 4, 2015 at 8:30 pm #

“You can’t fix it if it ain’t broke.”
Ironically, it’s not Christians who say people like Josh Alcorn are broken; rather, it’s people like you and he who implicitly say that about yourselves. You said: “THE ISSUE IS WHETHER OR NOT YOU KNOW WHO PEOPLE ARE BETTER THAN THEY KNOW THEMSELVES.”
Well, the people in question claim that their psychological identity contradicts their physical (i.e. genetic, morphological) identity. That’s radically “broken.”
Likewise, if you think people in that condition are entitled to undergo sex-change operations and/or hormone therapy, then they are desperately trying to fix what they themselves perceive as broken.
steve hays January 5, 2015 at 1:05 am #
It’s demeaning for you to refer to a 17 year old as a “child,” which you do repeatedly in your comment. Many people are 17 when they graduate from high school. 17-year-olds can marry. 17-year-olds can join the armed services (with parental consent).
To the extent that other people drove him over the edge, that would be LGBTQIA propagandists who filled his head with dangerous illusions.
steve hays January 5, 2015 at 12:41 pm #
And, Travis, what we’re getting from “people like you” is a purely emotive, unreasoning response. The fact that your antagonism towards Christians and Christianity is so thoughtless is hardly an indictment of Christians or Christianity.
Fact is, had Alcorn’s parents “accepted” his imagined gender, he would in all likelihood have died of AIDS, colon cancer, or some other LGBT related/aggravated disease.
steve hays January 5, 2015 at 12:54 pm #
Once again, that’s another comment from you with zero intellectual merit.
steve hays January 5, 2015 at 1:16 pm #
You haven’t demonstrated that the Bible is a book of myths. Moreover, you haven’t shown that secular ethics can ground objective moral norms or human rights.