Logical Gerrymandering

I have been using the term "logical gerrymandering" for a few years now to describe what some Christians do in unfairly "redistricting" what people like me say out-of-context, in order to gain an unfair intellectual advantage, or to ridicule us.

I also use this phrase to describe what Christians do when caught in a logical inconsistency. Calvinists, for instance, claim God decrees (or ordains) everything we desire to do and everything we do, yet they want to describe God as good, and blame us alone for everything bad we do. With a flood of words they logically gerrymander around this logical inconsistency. [See this article on gerrymandering for what the term means politically].

The first person I know of to use this term outside of political spheres is Walter Kaufmann, in his 1958 book, Critique of Religion and Philosophy, although he merely calls it "gerrymandering." He claimed that "many theologians are masters of this art. Theologians do not just do this incidentally: this is theology. Doing theology is like doing a jigsaw puzzle in which the verses of Scripture are the pieces: the finished picture is prescribed by each denomination, with a certain latitude allowed. What makes the game so pointless is that you do not have to use all the pieces, and that pieces which do not fit may be reshaped after prounouncing the words 'this means.' That is called exegesis."

Sam Harris calls this same approach to exegesis, "cherry-picking," because Christians will cherry-pick the good out of the Good Book, and reinterpret or ignore what they don't like in it. Harris argued, and I agree, that Christians decide what is good in the Good Book.

In his 1961 book Faith of a Heretic, Kaufmann wrote about how Christians view Jesus in the New Testament: "Most Christians gerrymander the Gospels and carve an idealized self-portrait out of the texts: Passen's Jesus is a socialist, Fosdick's is a liberal, while the ethic of Reinhold Niebuhr's Jesus agrees, not surprising, with Niebuhr's own."

Anyway, Kaufmann knew in advance there would be theologians who would gerrymander the words in his book. He said: "This Critique is exceptionally vulnerable to slander by quotation and critics cursed with short breath, structure blindness, and myopia will be all but bound to gerrymander it."

Kaufmann said:

"Quotations can slander
if you gerrymander."

[Pages 219-220].

Of course, The Principle of Intellectual Charity is pretty much the exact opposite way to deal with intellectual opponents, and is akin to what Christians themselves believe they should do with people in general (I Corinthians 13). If we followed this principle when dealing with our opponents, we will be less likely to commit the informal fallacy of attacking a strawman, and thereby less likely to make a fool of ourselves.


Anonymous said...

By the way, quite a few Christians, including me, don't pick and choose what I want from the bible, that is wrong. But rather I except and study all of it.

And also I think it's the Athiests who call Christians "idiots" and "retarded" for believing in such a "notion." As for me, I just feel sorry for Athiests who deny there is a God.

Anonymous said...

You can find people who insult others among any group. I think its fruitless to debate whether one side or the other does it more. Rather, let us deal with the individuals before us.

For that matter, most of us skeptics were former believers in christianity so it would be rather self-insulting for me to call a christian "retarded"---since I believed the same things for quite a long time.

Anonymous said...

By the way, quite a few Christians, including me, don't pick and choose what I want from the bible, that is wrong. But rather I accept and study all of it.

The problem is.....even if true, this doesn't do much to recommend your position.....it almost inevitably means you are forced to be one of those christians we skeptics so frequently encounter who come up with justifications for the barbarities of the bible (and the diety it depicts). Justifications that all to often are horrifying in their cruelty and baseness.

I rather prefer the cherry-pickers perspective, to be honest. At least the reason they are cherry-picking the bible is usually because so much of it is so offensive to their sense of decency and charity.

Anonymous said...

The cherry pickers choose what best fits for themselves and what sounds best for them. That is why I disagree with cherry pickers. It's not about yourself, but rather about God.

On the other hand, barbarities?
I believe you are talking about the old testament but I wouldn't call it barbaric, rather far from it, if you read it through. Also, God made a new covenant, through Jesus Christ, and in the New Testament is how we live today.

Anonymous said...

The cherry pickers choose what best fits for themselves and what sounds best for them. That is why I disagree with cherry pickers. It's not about yourself, but rather about God.

Much of what is rejected is done so as a matter of conscience---and rightly so.

On the other hand, barbarities?
I believe you are talking about the old testament but I wouldn't call it barbaric, rather far from it, if you read it through.

Actually I find much that is repellent in both OT and NT. And I've read it through many times.....it doesnt get any less repellent after "reading it through".

Also, God made a new covenant, through Jesus Christ, and in the New Testament is how we live today.

Thats another common justification that seems strange to me. Even if the NT lacked offenses to conscience (would that it were so---after all, among other things, it retains the concept of hell---the most sadistic and depraved concept ever invented by the human, yes, human, imagination), that doesn't make the fact that the OT contains such problematic material any less a difficulty when people claim it is the inspired word of a morally perfect God.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Actually, David, Christians did not 'carry over' the idea of Hell from the OT. It was not in 'classical Judaism' -- and is not accepted by most believing Jews today. Judaism holds that you should obey The Law out of love of God, gratitude, and responsibility, NOT out of fear. This is another concept that 'drifted in' from the Persians (Zoroastrianism). And it took the particularly warped minds of the Church Fathers to imagine an eternal hell. The Persian idea was of a painful time of torment, but one which would be ended when the coming of the 'Son of God' ended the influence of Ahriman (the true ancestor of the Christian devil) and began a 'new world.'

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

I am not mocking you by asking these questions. I am seriously curious to hear your response. How do you interpret the following passages:
a) Genesis 38 (the WHOLE chapter, not just the sectiion on Onan, though I'd like to hear your comments on that part as well
b) The three passages Genesis 14 (the first appearance of Sodom); Genesis 18-19 (the 'classic story' including the various comments about Lot's daughters) and Judges 19 (the 'parallel story')
c) Acts 5 (the story of Ananias)

The maiden said...

Thanks for your blog. I'm glad I discovered it. I'm definitely linking! Peace.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Prup, this is just a quick comment and I will be busy the rest of the day. I'll try to answer your questions in the next couple of days.

True I do live in the fear of God, rather than in the fear of men. But the fear of God is kind of like how you fear your mother, in that you fear to disobey her, to upset her, to make her ashamed of you. This is how I fear God because I want to please him, I want to live my life for him. Not because of hell. The purpose of hell was for justice and it should be a place to fear, but it wasn't made to keep people on their toes.

I'll be gone so try to restrain in asking a flood of questions. (Besides Prups) :-)

Anonymous said...

I too have noticed the habit of cherry picking of scripture before and I felt offended because, often, the cherries that were picked were thrown at those deemed inferior. However, scriptures aside, I do believe it is good to use discernment in choosing those things in life that will, well, bring life. So, it seems to me, while cherry picking can be used to condemn and justify pride, it can also be used to minister to a broken soul. Just as a good doctor uses the appropriate medication to treat an illness, so too, does a good minister use scripture sensitively and with discernment to heal and set people free. The scriptures, if not used with love, can be easily corrupted (just like other aspects of life). When I was under compulsion, I used to resent people's freedom of choice, but now I know that it was their use of their freedom that was offensive and rightly so - it was destructive to both them and others.

I believe, if anyone is versed in scripture, that Jesus said we should live by a spirit of God's love, which, can of course, include bible study. (but not everyone can be trusted with a bible).

Thanks once again!

Anonymous said...

Yes grace I'm going to have to agree. I'm going to have to go back to my original Reformation beliefs. Here's what I see is going on. We have adopted the world's concept of love that places human beings at the center. We have adopted a system of thought that makes man center instead of God's glory. When we think we deserve God's love it distorts God's grace. God's love for us isn't mainly Him making much of us but it is Him giving us His grace to enjoy making much of Him forever. It's time we return to the reformation and the doctrines of grace including the doctrine of hell. It is time that we return to a God who is HOLY and forget about Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny. We need to keep God's glory center. It does hurt me sometimes to say the things that I say. But I must take every thought captive to the word of God.
There's been many times in my life when I wanted to kill myself. But I never did because I believed that if I did I would go to hell. So hell is one of those things that has kept me alive.

Anonymous said...

Actually, David, Christians did not 'carry over' the idea of Hell from the OT. It was not in 'classical Judaism' -- and is not accepted by most believing Jews today.

I know. I mentioned it only in reference to the NT

Anonymous said...

Calvin, in this case, I'm grateful that Hell has kept you alive!

Sometimes it's difficult to assert God's superiority over our own. We are tempted to use morality as a tool to provoke power struggles amongst people and assert a sense of our own superiority - a very real temptation. It is clear from Jesus's life that we don't need to get involved in activities that cause us to perish. Hard to do, but rewarding.

As far as fearing God over fearing men, I know for myself, that it is difficult at times to place value and importance on the words of God and His promise of steadfast love when the world offers confusing and compelling evidence to the contrary. For me, fearing God means that I value His word over that of people who could care less about me.

Anon 1035

Anonymous said...

The Fear of the Lord a continuum


That's the way I see it

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

A couple of quick comments for now, then to finally finish my first post in my series on ethics.

First to live-n-grace:I am lucky in that I can say I never feared my mothers, except to fear that they would think I had not done my best in a particular situation -- and if they felt it, so would I. My fear of my own conscience and pride -- and for me pride is always a virtue -- was what 'kept me in line.'
They did not, ever, seek to install fear in me. Rather they -- wisely -- brought me to understand why they told me not to do something. And if I understood, I would, in most cases agree with them and not do it. (Sometimes their argument was simply 'c'mon, you are better than someone who would do that,' and it would work. Sometimes they'd point to someone in the neighborhood "Do you want to be like him?" But mostly they'd simply explain why something was wrong. They knew they could trust my own conscience to do the rest.)
They also taught me never to be afraid to tell them anything, never to lie to duck responsibility, and never to be afraid to disagree with them. And because I learned these lessons -- and was somewhat precocious -- I don't hinestly recall them ever punishing me, or needing to. If I did do something wrong -- as of course I did, but rarely -- they'd discuss it with me so that I'd understand what I'd done, and not do it again.
(I knew -- and there's a story I may find a way to tell here someday that illustrates this -- that if I had a dispute with a teacher, or a priest, or whoever, they would hear both sides, and not automatically come down on the teacher's side, or on my side, but on the side of who they thought was right.)

(Did I say 'short' comments? Oh, well...)

And now to Calvin, and our other Calvinist types. When I hear you discuss God, and your ideas, such as when you say "When we think we deserve God's love it distorts God's grace. God's love for us isn't mainly Him making much of us but it is Him giving us His grace to enjoy making much of Him forever. It's time we return to the reformation and the doctrines of grace including the doctrine of hell." I find myself drifting back to a quote from the Baltimore Catechism, one I can quote by heart even though it is over 50 years since I learned it.
Of course I do not believe in any God at all, but in the highly unlikely event that the Christian God exists, isn't it far more likely that this -- the second answer in the Catechism -- defines him and his attitude towards man, instead of your Roman Emperor/Despotic King wrote large:
"Why did God make us?"

"He made us to know, love, and serve him in this world, and to be happy with him in the next."

Nothing about majesty, nothing about him showing his justice by condemning the vast majority to hell, and his grace by permitting some of us into heaven. Catholics believe in original sin and hell, yes, but also -- strictly speaking, not like some fifth-grade teachers or 'political Catholics' would have you believe -- that you have to work pretty hard to deserve hell, that you have to deliberately defy God. For them, the sacrifice of Jesus really was efficacious, and sin is a deliberate act of the will. And that repentance IS always possible.
That portrait of God didn't just strike me as more 'pleasant' than the dour Calvinist one, but as far more reasonable.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

And I wrote the above before Calvin's later comments, his list, had appeared. Why would a God need terror when he could inspire love? Why would God need to force respect out of fear? Why would we need fear to bring us to worship a God? And how could we love, or willingly, serve such a God? Can we ever trust someone we treat with fear and astonishment?

And perhaps most important of all, if we know he is good, and know we are good, why would we need to fear him? (And it is the answer you will give to that, the denial that we are, or can be, good, that is the saddest and most horrible part of your picture of man, and of your God.)

Anonymous said...

Hi All!

Calvin, I think you are describing the process of salvation in the continuum of fearing God - coming to know and trust God. I actually agree with it because having come from a worldly indoctrination of relationship, at first appearance, my vision was "planked" so God did seem terrifying to me, but He's not. So the continuum describes the progression and formation of my faith in getting to know God. It seems as though it is just like that with some people who at first, seem scary but upon getting to know them, are actually sweethearts.

Prup, I love to read your insights and all the wisdom you have to offer. You said that your moms would point to someone in the neighborhood and ask if you wanted to end up like them. I confess, I have done this very same thing until just recently when I realized that Jesus said not to do that - and I got to thinking - I would feel really demoralized if someone were pointing to me as the "Don't do this" example - ouch! Sometimes those attitudes are emotionally palpable to me and I can always use moral support rather than judgements. I am retiring from doing that.


Anon 1035

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Anon 1035:
Thank you for the kind words. While Billie and Claire rarely used the technique you mentioned, I think it was a good one to use, for a couple of reasons. First, it helped my pride in myself (or call it 'self-respect' if pride is a 'bad word' for you) as well as the responsibility that should come with that. If you have both a strong mind and a strong conscience, you have a responsibility to use them both and not 'let things slide.'

Maybe more importantly, it helped me avoid the Great Myth that 'the smart thing' or the 'cool thing' is to break the rules. (In fact, ethical behavior isn't just 'right,' it is usually the smart way to act.) By using Paul S. and Tommy N. as the 'bad examples,' two locals who weren't the brightest residents of Skyline Lakes, they highlighted this. I didn't just want to keep from acting like them because they were 'bad,' but because they were also jerks.
And yes, I wouldn't want to have someone point to me as the 'bad example.' But that only made me more determined not to BE the bad example -- unless I felt that 'being the bad example' meant acting right, not wrong.
One minor point, by encouraging me to think for myself, and using tactics like this, it kept me from being vulnerable to 'peer pressure.' (I think that is overrated anyway, but that's for another time.)

I'd like, btw, to ask 'permission' from people on both sides to put up a post that is relevant to who I am, even though it is, technically, 'off topic.' (In fact, it very definitely touches on the question of religion, ethics, and behavior, though it isn't directly about Christianity.) But I won't unless I get encouragement from a couple of you. (And it won't delay the series on ethics. The first post on that will be up before the evening, and the rest will come faster now that I have a good way to get started.)

Anonymous said...

Hi again, Prup! I understand what you mean about the pride - I acknowledge that there is pride that strengthens and edifies what is good and territorial pride that creates enmity and promotes power struggles.

I have been like your moms as well - somehow, it can make me feel better if I see someone who is worse off than me and can motivate me to avoid being worse off but, more and more, I am growing to feel more sensitive about comparing one person to another - it is a big change for me to simply acknowledge each others' brokenness and practice mutual mercy and edification and encouragement.

If you are willing and courageous for it, I would like hearing more about your personal life and who you are.

Don't get me wrong, Prup, I really do enjoy yours and others company here and I really do not want any of you to bypass God's invitation to His banquet so I will be doing my best to show you that He really loves you guys, even if you have to go through some more atheism, skepticism, freethinking, agnosticism, etc. etc.

Thanks, Prup!

Anon 1035

Anonymous said...

Yes I think I would have to agree. People who are Christians do see Christ as sweet and lovely. Edwards understood the nature of God's holiness. He preached about God's holiness not out of a sadistic delight in frightening people but out of compassion. He loved them enough to warn people of the dreadful consequences of facing the wrath of God. If you consider the wrath of God as a primitive or obscene concept and hell is an insult to you it is clear that your God is not Holy. If you hate the wrath of God then you hate God Himself. If you protest to what I'm saying you only show your hostility towards God. A loving God who has no wrath is no God at all. He is an idol of your own making.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the words, Calvin - I appreciate your thoughts. I was blinded by the "god of this age" (which happened to be a false deity of a highly functional alcoholic parent) and had to let go of the angry, distant deity image in order to see Jesus. It was pretty tough since most humans do approach one another with some degree of territorialism rather than a motive-free invitation to enjoy each other's company. Thanks once again for expressing your thoughts - I will definitely consider all that you have said.

Anon 1035

Anonymous said...

I wanted to add a note about the cherry picking approach to scripture. How I embrace scripture is to notice the truth of what I do or feel first. For instance, I do cherry pick, but I think it is good to do that, while others approach that concept as though it is reprimandible or deniable. After I realize, "Yes, I honestly do cherry pick", then I'll go to the Bible and sure enough, right in red letters is Jesus talking about that very subject - "Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the Kingdom of Heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old."

I want to pick cherries so I can make a cherry pie and invite people to enjoy it with God. Okay. Enough.

Anon 1035

Anonymous said...


The way I let go of my anger and bitterness is by faith in God's promises. If someone offends me I look to the cross or trust in God's promises to avenge the wrongs done to me. God says that vengeance is mine I will repay. Instead we are to forgive and be like Christ. When we behold and adore the image of Christ we are transformed into His image. So my God isn't the God of this age it's the God of the Bible. When Jesus was being beat and whipped on the cross God the Father looked pretty damn angry.

Anonymous said...

live-n-grace said:

By the way, quite a few Christians, including me, don't pick and choose what I want from the bible, that is wrong. But rather I except and study all of it.

So is salvation by faith alone (Romans 10:9) or is it faith and works (Matthew 16:27) Should you judge others (Leviticus 19:15) or not (Matthew 7:1) You say you fear god, but that is wrong according to 2 Timothy 1:7 and 1 John 4:18. In order to use the Bible as some kind of guidebook you have have no choice but to pick and choose what parts you want to follow.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

When I read your comments, I wonder what you think 'forgiveness' means. I could only see a comic strip of two kids in a schoolyard, both showing the aftereffects of a fight. The teacher is saying "Okay, Calvin, now you tell him you forgive him."
And the boy nods, "Oh, yes, I forgive you." But you see a thought balloon over his head as he imagines his big brother waiting outside the schoolyard to beat the other kid up.

It is funny, and perhaps I'm not being honest with myself, but I've never felt a desire for vengeance, mostly because I've never understood how any other person's pain benefitted me. Let me tell two quick stories.

I was stabbed in the chest once. Fortunately it wasn't serious, but if it had been an inch the other way, who knows. It happened during a particularly broke period in my life when I was living in a men's shelter, and as we were waiting for the ambulance, the administrator asked me if I was going to press charges, for some reason I had to decide then. I hesitated and told him I had to think it over.
"You CAN'T intellectualize at a time like this!"
I responded that this was the only type of situation where I HAD to 'intellectualize,' had to respond with my mind and not my emotions. (I decided to go ahead and press charges, but I really was more angry at the guy's stupidity -- he had a false but believable 'excuse' he could have used instead of simply denying it when there were witnesses -- than I was at what he had done to me. My reasoning was that if he wasn't shown he couldn't get away with this, he'd go on doing such things, and if I didn't press charges, I'd be putting other people at risk. But I couldn't undo what had happened, so I couldn't change it by pressing or not pressing charges.

And the only person in my life I was never able to forgive was a priest -- prominent enough to later be appointed to a Presidential commission -- who slandered me. (This was years after I had left the church, btw, so it wasn't a factor in that.) I had invited him to a college radio show I had, and when he heard another guest who was to appear on the show, he went ballistic trying to argue that the person should not be given a public forum. (I happened to agree with the guest more than with the priest, but I argued that what I was douing was giving the priest a chance to make his case and refure the other person's position.)
The priest refused to appear, I went out to dinner, and when I came back to the station, I discovered the priest had called up the head of Columbia College -- who was so detached he barely knew we HAD a radio station -- and accused me of being rude to him. I hadn't been, rudeness is rarely a trait of mine, but it was difficult to prove it. Fortunately, the next day, when I was sent to a Dean -- with the idea being that I would be either suspended or expelled, the Dean believed me enough that we both got the priest on the phone, and after about ten minutes the priest admitted that, no I hadn't been rude, that he just didn't want the program to go on.
A year later I was living near where the priest operated from, and I decided I wanted to meet the man who had done this particularly irresponsible act and just ask for an apology. I did get to meet him, and attempted to get this, but I realized after a few minutes that the priest thought I had come to apologize to HIM for the show, and I walked out.
The mention of the man's name still sets off buttons in my head (it was Fr. Harold Hill, btw, the head of what was then Operation Yorkville, an anti-pornography group that later became "Morality in Media," and he was a dissenting member of the Presidential Comittee on Pornography), and I have never been able to FORGIVE what he did to me. But were I to be summoned as a witness at his Divine Judgment, all i would have asked was for him to be given the self-understanding to realize how irresponsibly he had acted and how he could have ruined a life out of his fanaticism. But if I would have been given the choice as to his 'ultimate destination,' I could not have wished him in hell, or even in purgatory. Again, purely selfishly. What benefit of any type could I have gotten from knowing he was being punished?

Anonymous said...

The differnce between you and me is that I am focused on God and you are focused on yourself.

Anonymous said...

I trust in God's pardon and His promises of future grace. I live by faith in Him.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Thank you for the compliment. (Actually I like to think I am focused on 'people in general' one of which I happen to be, but maybe I flatter myself.)

Anonymous said...

Christians will rejoice in seeing justice executed. It happened at the cross or it will happen in hell. What this means is I have no right in harboring bitterness towards anybody. The judicial predicament has been broken. My faith is in God.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Why would "Christians ... rejoice in seeing justice executed ... in hell." Do you read in Matthew "forgive those who trespass against you, but have faith that my father will punish them eternally?" Or do you read
(Matthew 18:21-22)"21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"
22Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." (or 'seventy times seven" the readings differ.)
or Matthew 6:14-15
"14For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."

And I see no passages that says Christians should rejoice over the torments of the sinner. Instead, I see in Luke 15:7
"7I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent." I don't see any addendum that says the rejoicing is coming at the sight of the sinner repenting as he is immersed in the 'lake of fire.'

Anonymous said...

If Christians had any evidence to corroborate their claims "logical gerrymandering" wouldn't be necessary, since the evidence would speak for itself. However there is no such evidence, so we see these various techniques constantly in use, along with the need to invoke fear and/or guilt, in order to perpetuate the religion. If Christianity (or any religion) were true then a rational examination of the facts would be sufficient to see the "truth," but instead religion always has to appeal to emotion and require the suspension of reason and critical thinking.

Anonymous said...

Prup said:

And I see no passages that says Christians should rejoice over the torments of the sinner

Prup, like everything else related to Christianity, it depends on which Bible verse you like. Psalm 58:10 says: The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked, but Proverbs 24:17 says: Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth.

Anonymous said...

I encourage, in fact I want everybody to watch this clip. It's not quite as good as the whole thing but this dvd will answer a lot of the basic questions of the gospel, but mainly for those who are blind to the gospel. If you can, try to find the whole sermon somewhere because it is good. It's based on 2 Corinthians 4 and I also urge everyone to read that scripture.


Anonymous said...


2 Thes. 1:6-8 It is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you.

Judgement against those who afflict the saints is a form of grace towards believers

Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgement for you against her. (Rev. 18:20)

Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God: because His judgements are true and righteous: for He has judged the great harlet who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of His servents on her. (Rev. 19:1-2)

Christians don't rejoice in having their revenge glutted, but in seeing justice executed and in seeing the love and tenderness of God towards them. God's future justice is future Grace toward His children.

Romans 12:19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay. But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing so you will heap burning coals upon his head.

If a non-Christian offends me I am to leave the matter with Him and live in the freedom of love toward my enemy. I am not bound to trust an enemy; but I am bound to forgive him. All wrongs done to me done by believers were avenged at the cross.

Anonymous said...

calvin said

Christians don't rejoice in having their revenge glutted...

Unless they are into Psalms:

35:6 Let their way be dark and slippery: and let the angel of the LORD persecute them.

52:6 The righteous also shall see, and fear, and shall laugh at him

58:6 Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth: break out the great teeth of the young lions, O LORD.

59:10 The God of my mercy shall prevent me: God shall let me see my desire upon mine enemies.

79:12 And render unto our neighbours sevenfold into their bosom their reproach, wherewith they have reproached thee, O Lord

109:8 Let his days be few; and let another take his office.
109:9 Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow. etc etc

If a non-Christian offends me I am to leave the matter with Him

Or you can follow 1 Timothy 5:

5:20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

Again, it all depends on what parts of the Bible you want to follow.

Anonymous said...

This is the air I breathe
This is the air I breathe

Your Holy presence
Living in me

This is my daily bread
You are my daily bread

Your very word
Spoken to me

And I, I'm desperate for you
And I, I'm lost without you

Einzige said...


You have yet to answer my question in the prior blog entry, which is also relevant to this discusson:

Why do you feel that no one deserves to be ridiculed forever--"Not even Cho"--and yet, you don't have a problem with eternal torment in hell?

How do you reconcile those two positions?

Anonymous said...


I was looking at things from the other point of view when I said that. I've changed my mind back to my previous beliefs. When you sin against a being that is infinite in value and worth there's infinite consequences. That's the position I'm going to stick with.

Einzige said...

Well, there's something to be said for consistency, I suppose.

When do you plan on joining up with Fred Phelps and his ilk?

They seem right up your alley (or sewer drain, perhaps).

Anonymous said...

If you would read what I wrote in the above comment I said that I was going to go back to my original Reformation beliefs. I said that we need to keep the doctrine of hell. When I made that comment about Cho I was talking about hell. I was saying that Cho didn't deserve to go to hell. I've change my mind.

Anonymous said...


You must understand that I use to be indoctrinated with secular psychological beliefs. I also use to go to AA. It's not hard for me to see something from another point of view. I got to thinking about all that stuff and it started bothering me. If you have ever been to hell it's not very pleasent. Not for me anyway.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

einzige: I probably disagree with Calvin as strongly as anyone here, but comparing him to Fred Phelps was one of the stupidest insults I have seen made here from any side of the discussion. I believe you owe the man an apology, and I would VERY MUCH appreciate it if you ceased from this sort of idiotic name-calling.
(Btw, Calvin is, obviously a Calvinist. The Phelps Family Cult claims to be Baptists. If you don't know the difference, what are you doing here?)

Einzige said...

Why was it a "stupid" insult?

Why am I not allowed to "be here" if I can't explain the difference between a Calvinist and a Baptist?

The idea that anyone deserves eternal torment for any reason strikes me as utterly reprehensible--and just as kooky coming from a Baptist who hates gays as from a Calvinist who, for a moment, anyway, empathized with Cho.

I'm willing to apologize, but I'm not yet convinced that I was out of line.

Anonymous said...

The Westboro Baptist Church adheres to the tenets of Calvinism. Sickened as I am to even link to their page, the evidence is here: http://www.godhatesamerica.com/pdf/pubs/tulip.pdf

Phelps is just Calvinism taken to its logical conclusions. Read his sermons: they're perfectly orthodox in terms of their theology.

- Jim

Anonymous said...

Calvinists believe that God has a Holy hatred towards the reprobate. We don't know who God's children are so we take the Gospel message to everybody. There is what is called Hyper-Calvinism which is heresy and Reformed Calvinism which is people like R.C. Sproul, and John Piper. I've never heard of these Phelps people.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

To einzige, "Jim" and Calvin:
what makes Phelps so hateful is not his preaching of hell, like it or not, this appears in almost any form of Christianity. (Calvin, if you have read the news, you have probably come across him, you just might not remember the name. He's the one who pickets everything, but most obnoxiously the funerals of soldiers returning from Iraq, to claim that God caused their deaths to punish America for 'tolerating' homosexuality.)
It is this idea -- and I have no idea if it is within mainstrean Calvinism -- that God causes disasters to punish a society for 'immorality' and punishes the innocent -- innocent in relation to the 'given sin' -- to bring the society into line, that people find so hateful. As well, of course, as the inappropriateness of turning a funeral into a place for making religious/political points.

Certainly the first is Biblically authorized. The 'first-born' of the Egyptians were not complicit in Pharaoh's 'sins' and recalcitrance. But most ethical systems have developed past that, even religious ones.

Anonymous said...

We believe that Christian Churches should reach out in love and truth to minister to people touched by homosexuality and that those who contend Biblically against their own sexual temptation should be patiently assisted in their battle not ostracized or disdained. However, the more prominent a leadership role or modeling role a person holds in a church or institution of the conference, the higher will be the expectations for God's ideal of sexual obedience and wholeness. We affirm that both heterosexual and homosexual persons should find help in the church to engage in the Biblical battle against all improper sexual behaviors.

We believe that hateful, fearful unconcerned harassment of persons with a homosexual orientation should be repudiated.

John Piper

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Then you have nothing in common with the Phelps Family Cult. Interestingly enough, I do not remember them specifically harassing gay people. Rather they harass straight people who do not, in their eyes, sufficiently harass gay people. (There is a pretty solid suspicion that in fact they are a 'con game,' that is deliberately provocative to the point of getting themselves assaulted and thewn suing those who assault them.)

Einzige, I repeat my call for an apology to Calvin, and apologize to you for my own unwarranted 'what are you doing here?' remark.

Anonymous said...

Hi Prup!

I have an issue with what you said here:

Why would a God need terror when he could inspire love? Why would God need to force respect out of fear? Why would we need fear to bring us to worship a God? And how could we love, or willingly, serve such a God? Can we ever trust someone we treat with fear and astonishment?

Would you say that Moses, Abraham, Enoch, or David (to name a few), if they were real in your estimation, would have been inspired by these things?

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

One Wave:
I'm trying to figure out where I said something you could interpret as this? I was quoting -- to dispute -- the Calvinist idea of God.
In fact, I specifically asked Calvin:
"Why would a God need terror when he could inspire love? Why would God need to force respect out of fear? Why would we need fear to bring us to worship a God? And how could we love, or willingly, serve such a God? Can we ever trust someone we treat with fear and astonishment?

And perhaps most important of all, if we know he is good, and know we are good, why would we need to fear him?" (See one of my posts from the morning of April 22.)
Glad to see you back here, btw.

Anonymous said...

Psalms 115:11 You who fear the lord, trust in the Lord; He is their help and their shield. If fear is not mingled with trust it will not be pleasing to the Lord. The obedience that comes from fearing God without faith in His future grace will not be free but servile. When Israel saw the great power which the Lord had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord (Exodus 14:31). Fear and faith happen together in response to God's mighty power and His promise of future grace. To fear the Lord is to tremble at the awareness of what a terrible insult it is to a holy God if we do not have faith in His future grace after all the signs and wonders He has performed to win our obedient trust. It is faith in future grace that channels the power of God into obedience. The key to faith's power is that it embraces the future grace promised by God, and is more satisfied with this than with the pleasures promised by sin - even if it costs us our lives. If the heart is satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus, the power of sin to lure us away from the will of Christ is broken, and the beauty of God's path of love is compelling. The glory of Christ is magnified when we are more satisfied with His future grace than we are with the promises of sin. The power of the promises of fleeting pleasures sin is broken by faith and is defeated with superior pleasure. God works all things together for good for those that love Him.

Anonymous said...

The Bible teaches that God is sovereign. God is the Creator and therefore He is King over all that He has made. Those who love their King find His sovereignty a great delight. Those who are in rebellion against Him fight against this divine truth. As Genesis 50:20 states refering back to the betrayal of Joseph: "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. One sinful action. Joseph's brothers meant their actions for evil. But in direct parallel, God meant the same action for good. Because of the intentions of the hearts of Joseph's brothers, the action in the human realm was evil. The same action on God's part in permitting it was good, for by it God brought about His purpose and plan. One action two intentions. Another example is found in God's use of Assyria as an instrument of judgement on Israel. We have God's Holy intention of judging His people through Assyria and then God turning arround and judging Assyria for their evil intentions. As God removed His positive influence from the hearts of evil man they murdered His Son at the cross. Man acted according to His own evil desires. Sinful on the part of the intentions of man but good on the part of God's intentions. One act two intentions. Man is held resposible for his evil intentions. God is glorified for His good intentions.

Anonymous said...

Pride does not like the Sovereignty of God. Therefore, pride does not like the existence of God, because God is Sovereign. When you take all three categories to self-relience - wisdom, might, and riches - they form a powerful inducement toward the ultimate form of pride, namely, atheism. Pride is a form of unbelief and doesn't like to trust in future grace. Every turning from God - for anything presumes a kind of autonomy or independence that is the essence of pride. When we boast in our wisdom we show that we have turned from God to trust in ourselves. We disclose that our satisfaction is not first in God's infinite, primary wisdom, but in our derivative, secondary capacities. It is a failure of faith in future grace - the promise of God to use His infinite wisdom to keep on managing the universe for the good of all who hope in Him. Fearing God isn't a negative experience for those who love God but a kind of deeply satisfying trembling, and sweet humility and submission that rises in the presence of the absolute power and holiness of God.

Einzige said...

Calvin, I apologize for comparing you with Fred Phelps.

I do, however, continue to find your beliefs disgusting. I'm sure the feeling is mutual.