Jesus Jihad Part 2

As I expected, Jesus Jihad: Could There Be a Christian Bin Laden? has received a torrent of objections. I want to do deal with them all. After that, I don’t anticipate talking about this again.

1) “Terrorism is not sanctioned in the Bible.”

It’s highly unlikely that a fundamentalist Christian organisation committing acts of what we would call terrorism would call itself “terrorist”, or think of itself in those terms. They would rationalise it in some other way. That does not mean they would not be employing means of terror to further their aims.

2) Some have argued that I am attacking forms of belief which do not exist. I *was* a Christian fundamentalist, and I am talking about what could happen in terms of what I, and my fellow churchgoers, believed about the Bible. You can’t say I’m talking about a straw man. You can say that I’m talking about a minority view, and you would be right. But it only takes an individual to be a terrorist.

3) Others have just said that the “terrorist’s manifesto” I presented, based on Scripture, is a distortion of Biblical belief. Of course it is – that’s the point. I never said this was a “good” interpretation of the Bible. In fact, my argument is essentially “the Bible is open to misinterpretation” which, when you look at it that way, is evidently true and actually quite banal.

4) Some people have argued that anyone could see that these are misinterpretations of the verses in question. I’m not sure that’s the case at all. But let’s suppose that it is. Most Christians would also say the prosperity gospel is also a gross misinterpretation of scripture. Many verses used to support it are clearly not even about money. Yet, according to calculations by UnkleE elsewhere on my blog, it has at least 5-6 million advocates in the USA alone.

5) Some questions have been raised as to whether it is fair to call fundamentalism irrational. I believe I have demonstrated irrationalism adequately with my discussion of the Word of Faith prosperity gospel, Creationism, and paranoid conspiracy theories, elsewhere on this blog. These are all wildly irrational beliefs supported by fundamentalists in substantial numbers.

6) The type of fundamentalism I am discussing insists that the Bible contains no contradictions and is without error. Scholarship is not encouraged. The view is that the Bible can be taken literally and understood by the layperson.

This means that any argument along the lines of “generally understood theology contradicts this position” is irrelevant. I was taught that anyone could understand the Bible at face value from reading it themselves. Who’s going to correct misunderstandings, then? I’d say that, from a surface reading, all the verses linked to in my hypothetical “Christian Terrorist Manifesto” support the overall argument very well.

7) In non-denominational churches, trust in and obedience to authority are emphasised. Anyone can set himself up as a leader, and people do all the time. This culture of almost unquestioning obedience is wide open to abuse. It is this credulousness among believers that cult leaders exploit, and a terrorist Christian leader could exploit too.

8) One valid criticism that has been raised (the only one so far, in my mind), is of this part:

“Of course, evangelicals will distance themselves from this, saying these people “aren’t true Christians.” But that defence doesn’t work. If you insist that all Scripture is equally the Word of God, and that the Bible is 100% consistent…”

There are, of course, evangelicals who are not inerrantists. According the the Evangelical Alliance, 54% of UK evangelicals strongly agree the Bible is inerrant; only 5% strongly agree that the Bible contains errors in its original manuscript. So this section was not as well written as it could have been. This seems to have served as an excuse for some people to dismiss the rest of my argument entirely.

Anyway, my post is a challenge to those who say the Bible is infallible and literal, but who don’t wish to support acts of violence. How do you reconcile those two positions? I accept that for many Christians, it doesn’t pose a challenge to their theology at all.

The most important point

The frustrating thing in all of this is that Christians, perhaps understandably, have taken my post as an attack on the Christian faith as a whole. It doesn’t help that I’m an atheist, of course. But it’s frustrating to see the unwillingness of Christians to criticise extremist tendencies within the church, for fear of disloyalty or promoting church disunity. “They’re my brothers and sisters in Christ,” is the standard defence.

I don’t really think we’re going to see Christian terror attacks in the UK. But we are seeing Christians abusing children en masse in fundamentalist schools, and their fellow Christians should not think that they are doing a service to the faith by defending them.

About jonnyscaramanga

I grew up as a Christian fundamentalist in the UK. Now I am writing a book and blog about what that's like, and what fundamentalists believe.

Posted on June 23, 2012, in Creationism, Faith Schools, Fundamentalism, Word of Faith and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 53 Comments.

  1. Just commenting to subscribe. (WordPress really should provide a ‘subscribe without commenting’ option.)

  2. I wish I could be this coherent, this consistently. I rarely manage to think articulately, let alone for long enough to get anything into writing.

  3. There is now a Texas Congressman who wants to hold a hearing on the radicalism of Christians to keep things fair since they held a hearing on the radicalism of Muslims and found no cause for worry here in the USA. The government is asking the question that is the title of your blog post !

    • Fascinating. I would expect a whitewash if they did have a hearing, but that’s really interesting to hear.

      • I find Texas to be an interesting place. Citizens of Texas inhabit all colors of the rainbow, all slices of the spectrum… no matter what spectrum you are talking about, whether it’s making presidents or killing them; starting wars or calling for an end to them; stifle women’s rights yet give them big breasts (home of the implants); Biggest import is US citizens and biggest exports are oil and illegal aliens; Name any occupation and there is a famous Texas among the best of them. Everything is bigger in Texas is half true, for no matter what Texans do they always seem to go big. I like that.

  4. Here we go. Sadly it seems to have been picked up by Islamophobic sites and twisted out of all recognition, but it seems he wants an already existing panel on religious radicalisation to look at all religions, not just Muslim. As part of a broader study, he may just get away with it.

  5. “1) “Terrorism is not sanctioned in the Bible.””

    Thanks. Now I have cola sprayed all over my monitor.

    Seriously. Terrorism is not sanctioned? Genocide, of course, is. Slavery is. Oh hell, I’m sure you’ve said it all before …

  6. If anyone else gives your grief about christian terrorists, remind them of the Oklahoma City bombing in the US, or the myriad of “white supremacists” who get picked up for inciting violence. Every one of those people are christian– very fundamental christian. McVeigh was a christian, and expected people to rise up and go to war when the Murrah building went down. What about the man who killed Dr. Tiller? Also a christian, and also out to start a war against the things his bible told him were immoral… Kinda hard to argue “oh, they aren’t really christians” then.

    I suppose just point to us Americans as proof of your terrosist hypothesis… we’ve got all kinds here.

    • Many so-called ‘white’ supremacists do not like Christianity, you would know this by browsing some of their sites where they list Christianity as yet another Jewish conspiracy. McVeigh was a lapsed Catholic, even Catholics don’t take someone like him seriously, why do you? To score Internet outrage brownie points? Or perhaps you will be the one to show in detail how biblically one can be a Christian and a terrorist. Now wouldn’t that be grand?

      • Many so-called ‘white’ supremacists do not like Christianity” ≠ “All so-called ‘white’ supremacists do not like Christianity”

        Why the ‘so called’ caveat?

      • The so-called was about their self definition as ‘white’ which is logically absurd as well as the supremacist part. If your ethnic group was the best, you would not need to actively advocate for it. I also know that many != all but that it not the point. Emma seems to think that simply throwing around words and making associations is enough to make a valid point. She has to give their theological beliefs and then find really good ways of explaining why the Bible lets God incarnate himself into a Jewish body when that would make him the king of the ‘mudpeople’ (not to mention multiple NT statements about neither Jew nor Greek, barbarian etc)

    • Yep. My apologies. It was late, I was tired and my reading comprehension failed me. Emma’s statement was indeed rather sweeping.

      As sweeping, we could say, as a statement like “no biblical Christian could be a terrorist.”

      • Perhaps but as I stated above, she does not have a valid point unless she can show it. Burden of proof and all that.

      • “Burden of proof.” You’ve used that phrase a few times, yet your own idea of proof appears to be blind assertion. And let’s not even mention your completely unevidenced, let alone unproven, god, supernatural realms and so forth.

      • The standard burden of proof is on the one who asserts first. In this case, that would be you atheists. I have never argued that god or the supernatural existed, I have argued that the fundies discussed here is a caricature and that the theological interpretations and evidential logic on this blog is also wanting.

      • [The whole existence of gods etc thing is an area where Jonny, I suspect, wouldn’t want us to go. I’m doubly culpable for bringing it up, as I completely agree that it would be an inappropriate, not to mention tactically unsound, discussion, given the focus of his blog. On that score, my apologies (again: I’m making a habit of this!) to both yourself and to Jonny.]

        Your continued, completely unsupported by evidence, assertion and insinuation that Jonny has made any sweeping statement about fundamentalists is rather puzzling. Also, you have asserted that the Bible does not support terrorism. Please show me either: (i) where the Bible actually and unequivocally condemns terrorism, or (ii) where the Bible forbids believers any action which isn’t commanded by the Bible or God.

      • Your continued, completely unsupported by evidence, assertion and insinuation that Jonny has made any sweeping statement about fundamentalists is rather puzzling.

        Perhaps you missed this:

        Fundamentalism offers no bulwark against this kind of thing happening, because it disables the one weapon we have against it: logical reasoning./

        For a rational atheist to assert this and assuming he means only theological issues, Jonny would need to show how the majority of fundy theological beliefs is illogical (not some as he thinks he has done with creationism and conspiracy theories). That would require him to produce an encyclopedic array of analytical material which must include science, the philosophy of science, logic, in-depth theological discussion with analysis of ancient languages (Hebrew, Latin, Aramaic, Greek), cultural anthropology and archaeological evidence at the least. Could you point me to this repository?

        Also, you have asserted that the Bible does not support terrorism.

        No, I said the Bible does not allow a Christian under the NT covenant to be a terrorist. It may support terrorism in the OT under DCT (Divine Command Theory) but for Hebrews alone.

        Please show me either: (i) where the Bible actually and unequivocally condemns terrorism, or (ii) where the Bible forbids believers any action which isn’t commanded by the Bible or God.

        As per (i), the Bible does not explicitly condemn terrorism, that comes from a generic Christian worldview. The Bible does not explicitly condemn many things like eating too much pizza or farting. As for (ii.), the Bible does not forbid any non-mentioned actions, rather it is anti-terrorist in intent with verses such as Romans 12: 16-21 (Amp):

        16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty (snobbish, high-minded, exclusive), but readily adjust yourself to [people, things] and give yourselves to humble tasks. Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits.

        17 Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is honest and proper and noble [aiming to be above reproach] in the sight of everyone.

        18 If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

        19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for [God’s] wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay (requite), says the Lord.

        20 But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.

        21 Do not let yourself be overcome by evil, but overcome (master) evil with good.

        Questions: What NT verses have you read that led you to believe th

      • SMH: See what happens when I try to use quotes? Anyway, the question at the end was: What NT verses have you read that led you to believe that Christians have the right to kill/maim/terrorize non-Christians?

  7. [lol @ quotes. We’ve all done it. Pro-tip: type both tags together like this <blockquote></blockquote>, then paste the quote into the middle.]

    You say here:

    No, I said the Bible does not allow a Christian under the NT covenant to be a terrorist.

    …that the Bible (well, the NT, but I get your OT/NT point) does not allow terrorism by Christians, yet you say that it’s not explicitly condemned. Frankly, your logic seems somewhat obscure.

    Unless there’s a verse somewhere (which I’ve never seen, and you confirm doesn’t exists) that forbids any action not specifically commanded, then the Bible is neutral on any subject, including terrorism, which it doesn’t address.

    You, personally, may feel that the general tone of the NT is disapproving of terrorism. I’d agree with you. But then, the general tone of the NT emphasises charity and compassion, yet groups like the WBC and various prosperity gospel advocates seem to ignore that easily enough. It’s all down to how one interprets the scripture, and plenty of people manage to interpret it in ways that neither you nor I think is reasonable or right. Why should the single issue of terrorism be any different?

    This is why I keep referring to your objections as a No True Scotsman fallacy. It’s not just a cheap jibe, meant to disparage your words; it’s a genuine objection to you claiming to have the Only True Interpretation of the Bible/NT as regards the issue at hand. A Christian is defined as someone who follows the teaching and/or example of Jesus Christ, as reported in the NT, and possibly various non-canonical gospels and such. I can imagine a sect who count only Matthew Mark Luke and John as canonical, and they would still be Christian by definition. You don’t get to define who is and isn’t Christian, provided they meet that basic requirement, merely because you disapprove of their interpretation of scripture.

    [Aside: I can imagine a Christian sect who follow his teachings, but don’t believe that he was divine in nature. Just out of interest, does anyone know of such?]

    • [lol @ quotes. We’ve all done it. Pro-tip: type both tags together like this

      , then paste the quote into the middle.]

      Yeah I missed a forward slash

      Unless there’s a verse somewhere (which I’ve never seen, and you confirm doesn’t exists) that forbids any action not specifically commanded, then the Bible is neutral on any subject, including terrorism, which it doesn’t address.

      Oh, I see what you mean, I was reading that differently. Christians do not require commandments (like in the OT) which would allow a person to sin outside of that which was commanded but also have the ‘witness of the indwelling Holy Spirit’ who allows us to know in most situations what is absolutely wrong or conditionally wrong. Thus 1 Corinthians 10: 23 (Amp):

      All things are legitimate [permissible—and we are free to do anything we please], but not all things are helpful (expedient, profitable, and wholesome). All things are legitimate, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life].

      In other words, something may be good or permissible but in some circumstances, would be wrong. Thus, there is no need for an explicit verse stating you can only follow Bible written commands. Nor does that make that which is not commanded neutral in any sense.

      You, personally, may feel that the general tone of the NT is disapproving of terrorism. I’d agree with you. But then, the general tone of the NT emphasises charity and compassion, yet groups like the WBC and various prosperity gospel advocates seem to ignore that easily enough. It’s all down to how one interprets the scripture, and plenty of people manage to interpret it in ways that neither you nor I think is reasonable or right. Why should the single issue of terrorism be any different?

      Agreed, however, what a group or groups do in many instances do not always invalidate their Christianity. An uncharitable Christian is one who will be judged accordingly by God thus there is no need for you or me to pass judgment, though we may do so. The issue of terrorism is very different from being unkind or uncharitable.

      Divine judgment is predicated on internal structures and not outward actions though the internal often affects the external. A Christian does NOT have to be charitable or even friendly in all circumstances. Here is where there are conditional commands and absolute commands. Being charitable is conditional, being a terrorist is an absolute no go. As for that which is written, think of Christian theology as if it were English law instead of American law. Some things are written and others are done due to tradition. However, both tradition and written Christian law do not approve of terrorism as per Rom 12: 16-21 and early church history.

      This is why I keep referring to your objections as a No True Scotsman fallacy. It’s not just a cheap jibe, meant to disparage your words; it’s a genuine objection to you claiming to have the Only True Interpretation of the Bible/NT as regards the issue at hand. A Christian is defined as someone who follows the teaching and/or example of Jesus Christ, as reported in the NT, and possibly various non-canonical gospels and such. I can imagine a sect who count only Matthew Mark Luke and John as canonical, and they would still be Christian by definition. You don’t get to define who is and isn’t Christian, provided they meet that basic requirement, merely because you disapprove of their interpretation of scripture.

      That’s an interesting point but I don’t think it is valid. Christianity is not a religion like Islam or Hinduism. Christianity is an exclusivist belief system. Thus if one were to commit terrorism, you would automatically stop being Christian assuming that it were possible to slide from Christian to terrorist quite easily. The No True Scotsman fallacy might work for you because your definition of a Christian is not a Christian definition. It is a widely accepted dictionary definition or a simplification. For example, in electrical engineering we often simplify circuits into V = IR but in reality it is better stated as V = IZ where Z = R + j(wL – 1/wC). Even more rigorous people will talk about parasitic impedance so the equation can become quite longer and nauseatingly complex. What you have listed is the simple V = IR but a religion or belief system is at least V = I(R + j(wL – 1/wC)). Thus the No True Scotsman fallacy CAN possibly be applicable to your definition but not mine. If you are atheist, then I would expect you (and you should expect yourself) to not be using simplistic definitions.

  8. The issue of terrorism is very different from being unkind or uncharitable.

    Only in degree (a very large degree, I’ll grant you). You then go on to discuss where and in what circumstances commands about charity and the like are applicable. Fair enough, but there are, at least, commands which can be applied, so the Bible doesn’t take a neutral approach to them. All of which argument says nothing—cannot say anything—about terrorism, as the Bible doesn’t mention it one way or the other. It’s left up to the individual to interpret scripture to work out whether terrorism is acceptable not. (More likely they’ll start with the idea that it is or isn’t, and find ways to bolster that position by cherry-picking, though not necessarily consciously.)

    Thus if one were to commit terrorism, you would automatically stop being Christian assuming that it were possible to slide from Christian to terrorist quite easily.

    And that’s the No True Scotsman fallacy in a nutshell. Your mental image of what constitutes Christianity disallows terrorist acts, so you include a caveat in your definition of Christian which automatically excludes terrorists. But unless you can show me a Biblical quote which explicitly outlaws such behaviour, then you’re relying purely on interpretation, not evidence. Another’s interpretation, therefore, has the same amount of evidential support that yours does (none). (By ‘evidence’ here, I mean scriptural support.)

    I’m puzzled. If I believed in Christ as my saviour and as the son of God, but only followed teachings which are supposed to have been directly uttered by him, rather than later additions and interpretations by Paul et al, what would you define my religion as, if not as Christian? I would be, after all, quite literally a follower of Christ. I fail to see why ‘Follower of Christ’ should not be the basic definition of ‘Christian’. It’s the one thing that’s common to all Christian creeds.

    • And it’s my turn. I mucked up a closing emphasis tag there, after “your”.

    • And that’s the No True Scotsman fallacy in a nutshell. Your mental image of what constitutes Christianity disallows terrorist acts, so you include a caveat in your definition of Christian which automatically excludes terrorists.

      Can you be more specific here? What caveat exactly? (so I don’t talk pass you)

      But unless you can show me a Biblical quote which explicitly outlaws such behaviour, then you’re relying purely on interpretation, not evidence. Another’s interpretation, therefore, has the same amount of evidential support that yours does (none). (By ‘evidence’ here, I mean scriptural support.)

      Well technically yes but that could also be applicable to Jonny’s posts. The philosophy of mathematics (or logic) requires that the interpretation be logical. Thus if someone were to misinterpret scripture, that would not invalidate the scripture itself. That is where you have to look at the original intent and context of the verses which requires knowledge of ancient languages and culture. While Christianity has 2000 years of apologetics, I think it strange that you would invalidate our interpretations based on the possibility that some Christians may misinterpret it. As such, the burden would be on you atheists (assuming you are one) to show logically how a scriptural passage does advocate violence against non-Christians.

      I’m puzzled. If I believed in Christ as my saviour and as the son of God, but only followed teachings which are supposed to have been directly uttered by him, rather than later additions and interpretations by Paul et al, what would you define my religion as, if not as Christian? I would be, after all, quite literally a follower of Christ. I fail to see why ‘Follower of Christ’ should not be the basic definition of ‘Christian’. It’s the one thing that’s common to all Christian creeds.

      The term “Christian” was a sort of slur when it was first applied. It meant an ‘imitator of Christ’ not a follower per se. One could follow Christ for the miracles alone and then abandon him for ancestral or regional gods say. If a person only follows the literal words of Christ they would be a faux-Christian, not the real deal (like a fox in sheep clothing). The words of Christ were situational and culturally (Hebrew) fixated. Thus, they are not fully applicable to someone alive today in a different culture e.g. there is no Caesar alive today to make a literal application of ‘rendering unto Caesar’ possible. Also, Christianity is not a selective deal, you take the whole cow or none of it. You have to take Paul and the rest, there is no midway. A Christian is not simply a ‘follower of Christ’. And this is exactly why I find this site so displeasing, you guys have a figment of what constitutes Christianity and love to beat that figment to death and self praise yourselves as enlightened individuals. That’s poor scholarship and frankly, unbecoming of truly rational atheists.

      • Can you be more specific here? What caveat exactly? (so I don’t talk pass you)

        Well you have repeatedly claimed that no Christian could be a terrorist, in the face of many examples given in this thread of terrorists who were Christian. I cannot see any other way for you to make such a claim, unless you’r definition is ‘holds certain beliefs + non-terrorist = Christian.’

        Thus if someone were to misinterpret scripture, that would not invalidate the scripture itself.

        I haven’t said it does. All I’ve said is that you have no objective standard by which to make the claim that one interpretation is more correct than another.

        Also, Christianity is not a selective deal, you take the whole cow or none of it. You have to take Paul and the rest, there is no midway.

        Again, that’s your definition. There are many definitions of ‘Christianity,’ all of which, in some smaller or larger degree, disagree on what it means to be Christian. The stripped-to-the-bone version that I presented may be an extreme, but it serves as an illustration of the No True Christian fallacy, the logical conclusion of which is that there can only be one true Christian: the person providing the definition.

      • Well you have repeatedly claimed that no Christian could be a terrorist, in the face of many examples given in this thread of terrorists who were Christian. I cannot see any other way for you to make such a claim, unless you’r definition is ‘holds certain beliefs + non-terrorist = Christian.’

        Th definition of a Christian I have given is more rigorous than that which you insist on using. I have taken pain to explain that it is simplistic so that you should not use it. I have even tried insulting your atheistic intelligence, that doesn’t seem to be working. If you desire, I would say that on your incorrect and simplistic definition of a Christian, terrorism would be possible, how’s that?

        I haven’t said it does. All I’ve said is that you have no objective standard by which to make the claim that one interpretation is more correct than another.

        Then you simply don’t understand apologetic methodology which is why you should be reading a Bible with a good commentary. I’m an engineer by training, do you think that we allow non-engineers to claim that their interpretation of engineering data is valid because we don’t have a manual of engineering interpretation? Did I not explain in the post above that we look at original intent as per culture and language usage? What more do you need? I don’t think this argumentative tactic of yours is going to work out for you if you as the atheist haven’t done any in-depth research of your own but expect the Christian to prove everything to you.

        Again, that’s your definition. There are many definitions of ‘Christianity,’ all of which, in some smaller or larger degree, disagree on what it means to be Christian. The stripped-to-the-bone version that I presented may be an extreme, but it serves as an illustration of the No True Christian fallacy, the logical conclusion of which is that there can only be one true Christian: the person providing the definition.

        This seems to be your only argument and a simple one at that. If I understand it correctly, you want some method to distinguish what is a true from what is false in terms of what constitutes Christianity. Well, one can always argue that a definition is irrelevant, simplistic or incorrect. So if you want to define something rigorously, you go to the source material, right? Mark 16: 17-18 (Amp)

        17 And these attesting signs will accompany those who believe: in My name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages;

        18 They will pick up serpents; and [even] if they drink anything deadly, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will get well.

        So you have 4 definers, none of which correlate with your simplistic definition.

        So tell me (and this is a trick question): How do you determine who gets to define atheism?

  9. Lurker who has just discovered the blog, and I wanted to comment on this thread.

    I have to say his (the commenter’s) theology is incoherent on a more fundamental level.

    Given that every Christian in history “sins”, how you claim that “terrorists” are no longer or never Christians? On what grounds? Peaceful Christianity is not the long term history of the faith at all. Is there something unique about the act of terrorism that “removes” salvation or “proves” one is not saved? How does one come to this conclusion, especially given the history of intrareligious warfare in the world? Your argument makes no sense. (Of course, the whole argument about “losing ones salvation” is yet another area in which Christian sects fundamentally disagree…even to the point of violence (The Calvinist regime killed those who rejected its doctrine on this issue).)

    Churches certainly don’t seem to focus on intrasect violence as a salvation-threatening wrong…in fact, the history of the religious wars in pre-renaissance Europe or Northern Ireland, or Nigeria today suggest that churches encourage and foster such violence.

    So…given that an Orangeman Bomber under the umbrella of the “Reverand” Paisley considers himself a good Christian…how can you say he is not a “True Christian”? HIS minister, his doctrines, his interpretations of the Bible…which can be read (ir)rationally to support his view, say that his activities are a holy war justified by his faith.

    You keep asking for examples but completely blow off the answers we give. This is not arguing in good faith.

    Where is the outrage about religious violence* (except when Christians are a minority)? Certainly some of the energy spent bashing queers could be spent attacking problems with more serious impacts, right, like religious violence?

    • Hi Brian,
      Thank you for commenting; it’s always good to have a lurker come out and join the debate.
      One thing that interests me is that although I have provided Scriptures which could be used to support violence, the defenders say such an interpretation is “bad theology.” The point I am making is that fundamentalists constantly say that the Bible can be taken at face value, that even a child can understand it. In that case, theology is not relevant. It’s not at all a certainty from simply reading the text, for example, that Jesus was referring to his death on the cross when he spoke of “all these things being fulfilled.”

    • To save space I’ll stick with commenting after a simple text quote.

      Given that every Christian in history “sins”, how you claim that “terrorists” are no longer or never Christians? – As stated many times before, it is by theological definition.

      On what grounds? Peaceful Christianity is not the long term history of the faith at all. Is there something unique about the act of terrorism that “removes” salvation or “proves” one is not saved? – Again, refer to the definition previously stated.

      How does one come to this conclusion, especially given the history of intrareligious warfare in the world? – Irrelevant

      Your argument makes no sense. – to you

      (Of course, the whole argument about “losing ones salvation” is yet another area in which Christian sects fundamentally disagree…even to the point of violence (The Calvinist regime killed those who rejected its doctrine on this issue).) – Who did the Calvinists kill for theological reasons? Could you provide a source for this?

      Churches certainly don’t seem to focus on intrasect violence as a salvation-threatening wrong… – which intra-sect violence are you referring to?

      in fact, the history of the religious wars in pre-renaissance Europe or Northern Ireland, or Nigeria today suggest that churches encourage and foster such violence. – Yes, they did and what was the nature of the violence in the Reformation?

      So…given that an Orangeman Bomber under the umbrella of the “Reverand” Paisley considers himself a good Christian…how can you say he is not a “True Christian”? – How can you say he IS a Christian? Christianity isn’t Hinduism where one only has to consider themselves Hindu to be Hindu.

      HIS minister, his doctrines, his interpretations of the Bible…which can be read (ir)rationally to support his view, say that his activities are a holy war justified by his faith. – Irrelevant

      You keep asking for examples but completely blow off the answers we give. This is not arguing in good faith. – I justify what examples are incorrect IMO

      Where is the outrage about religious violence* (except when Christians are a minority)? Certainly some of the energy spent bashing queers could be spent attacking problems with more serious impacts, right, like religious violence? – No one in a free society should tell someone where their energies should be channeled. Are you an advocate of some form of totalitarianism?

      • Your whole objection to the idea of a Christian terrorist is summed up in one quote.

        IMO

        You provide no logical reason why your opinion should be seen, by an impartial observer, as any more correct than that of any other self-proclaimed Christian—who would, quite probably, proclaim your opinion to be as wrong as you proclaim theirs to be, with just as much, or as little, scriptural/evidential basis.

      • Is that so? Then how does one determine if 1 + 1 = 2 if everyone can have different opinions about an issue?

  10. Is that so? Then how does one determine if 1 + 1 = 2 if everyone can have different opinions about an issue?

    Whut? You’re now claiming that it’s impossible to interpret the Bible in any way other than the way you interpret it?

    Congratulations. You are the One True Scotsman Christian.™

    • Um, no. I was looking at how you think any question can be resolved holding the view that everyone’s view is equal. So, how do you resolve questions?

      • And here we stray into areas that I’ve reason to believe Jonny might not approve of on this blog, given that he hopes to rouse liberal Christians to his major cause. I’ll risk it though. (Feel free to smack me down on this Jonny.)

        How are questions resolved? By looking at evidence. Unfortunately, the Bible, especially when people cherry-pick half-sentences etc, can be, and has been, interpreted to support both sides of most major moral/social-justice issues, so looking to scripture usually merely takes the form of supporting a pre-existing idea arrived at independent of scripture. As to more solid evidence: the hypothesis that there is a celestial being who commands such-and-such, and makes proclamations on moral issues—there isn’t a scrap of evidence that this being even exists.

        Given the above, all that is left is opinion.

      • Jonny has a problem with discussing epistemology? I doubt that given that he engages in it himself. Anyways, how do YOU ‘look at the evidence’ and ensure no bias creeps into YOUR conclusions? What methods to scholars use?

      • the hypothesis that there is a celestial being who commands such-and-such, – The last time I checked fundies would be the last people to locate God in the physical (x, y, z, t) cosmos

      • Anyways, how do YOU ‘look at the evidence’ and ensure no bias creeps into YOUR conclusions? What methods to scholars use?

        I see all scripture, where it pertains to God’s commands and such, as having no evidential basis. Therefore I have no bias as regards which is ‘the’ correct interpretation, provided (going merely by consistency, not real-world factuality) they aren’t contradicted by a statement made by Jesus.

        (There are interpretations I prefer, from a humanitarian standpoint, but I don’t think them more, or less, factually or scripturally correct than others.)

        The last time I checked fundies would be the last people to locate God in the physical (x, y, z, t) cosmos

        Doesn’t matter where they place it. There’s still no evidence that it exists.

        Let’s turn this around, before we get completely sidetracked into metaphysics.

        On what grounds do you defend your (implied) claim that only your interpretation of the Bible, on any subject which Jesus doesn’t speak to directly, is the correct interpretation?

      • I see all scripture, where it pertains to God’s commands and such, as having no evidential basis. – is this the scholarly method? How did you figure out this was the correct method?

        Therefore I have no bias as regards which is ‘the’ correct interpretation, provided (going merely by consistency, not real-world factuality) they aren’t contradicted by a statement made by Jesus. – so when the Bible says that ‘God created the world’ you don’t see this as scientifically incorrect?

        Doesn’t matter where they place it. There’s still no evidence that it exists. – it does if you are an atheist who is rational and thus should state people’s beliefs correctly

        On what grounds do you defend your (implied) claim that only your interpretation of the Bible, on any subject which Jesus doesn’t speak to directly, is the correct interpretation? – Again, as stated before, on the facts that the definition of a “Christan” on this site is childish and there is no scholarly analysis of the verses that supposedly can be used by a supposed Christian to supposedly become a terrorist, I don’t need to do more that always carp about the definition that you use. While one can always claim that one interpretation is not better than the other, I believe that mine is more logically sound that what is offered here. Thus to resolve everyone claiming a valid opinion and to reach a conclusion, there is the need to discuss epistemology and what is the present scholarly method. Thus, we need to run to metaphysics. Why run from it?

      • I see all scripture, where it pertains to God’s commands and such, as having no evidential basis.

        – is this the scholarly method? How did you figure out this was the correct method?

        For there to be evidential basis, one would first need, in this order, evidence that a god exists, evidence that the Biblical god is that god, evidence that Jesus was the son of that god, and evidence that the Bible correctly reports the words, deeds and commands of both the god and the son. (I’d further add, though it’s not strictly pertinent, that I’d also want evidence that the god in question is worthy of my obedience.)

        – so when the Bible says that ‘God created the world’ you don’t see this as scientifically incorrect?

        Of course it’s scientifically incorrect. I was talking about ‘correct’ interpretations of scripture, and how one is supposed to choose the correct interpretation, when there is no evidential support for any interpretation being correct. We can rule some out as being inconsistent with the book they presume to interpret—for instance an interpretation which directly contradicts an instruction attributed to Jesus—but that’s as far as we can judge the matter.

        Thus, we need to run to metaphysics. Why run from it?

        Because it’s a side-track. What’s under discussion is that you claim that only your interpretation of scripture—which apparently forbids terrorism—is correct. We are comparing interpretations, and you have yet to show any reason why an outside observer should see your personal interpretation as having more scriptural support than any other.

        So far, your argument can be boiled down to:
        “A terrorist cannot be Christian, because my definition of ‘Christian’ excludes terrorists.”
        See the emphasised point in the previous paragraph.

      • Actually, don’t bother replying. The footpath around this mulberry bush has been worn down so far that it’s become a ditch. Your continued evasions and redefinitions, and your continued advancement of assertion in place of evidence, have become tiresome to me.

      • For there to be evidential basis, one would first need, in this order, evidence that a god exists, evidence that the Biblical god is that god, evidence that Jesus was the son of that god, and evidence that the Bible correctly reports the words, deeds and commands of both the god and the son. (I’d further add, though it’s not strictly pertinent, that I’d also want evidence that the god in question is worthy of my obedience.)

        I don’t see how this is relevant to what method you are going to use to interpret its meaning. And once again, you didn’t directly answer the question. So I ask again, is this the scholarly method? How did you figure out this was the correct method?

        Of course it’s scientifically incorrect. I was talking about ‘correct’ interpretations of scripture, and how one is supposed to choose the correct interpretation, when there is no evidential support for any interpretation being correct. We can rule some out as being inconsistent with the book they presume to interpret—for instance an interpretation which directly contradicts an instruction attributed to Jesus—but that’s as far as we can judge the matter.

        So exactly how do you know scientifically (only) that God did not create the world? How do you know that a supposed contradiction cannot be properly understood on looking at the cultural context and/or ancient language usage?

        Because it’s a side-track. What’s under discussion is that you claim that only your interpretation of scripture—which apparently forbids terrorism—is correct. We are comparing interpretations, and you have yet to show any reason why an outside observer should see your personal interpretation as having more scriptural support than any other.

        I really don’t think you read well. I have stated that my interpretation is as valid as any other unless it follows the proper scholarly method which you don’t want to discuss or (I suspect) don’t know in the first place.

        “A terrorist cannot be Christian, because my definition of ‘Christian’ excludes terrorists.”
        See the emphasised point in the previous paragraph.

        Comical, so who should we let define what is a “Christian”? Atheists like you? What if I define all child molesters as atheists. Would that be just another valid interpretation that warrants consideration?

      • Actually, don’t bother replying. The footpath around this mulberry bush has been worn down so far that it’s become a ditch. Your continued evasions and redefinitions, and your continued advancement of assertion in place of evidence, have become tiresome to me.

        I guess we now know why you can’t figure out the proper scholarly method to use to evaluate truth claims

  11. Jesus H Christ on a Yamaha!

    (Yes, I suffer from SIWOTI—I can’t let it lie.)

    So I ask again, is this the scholarly method? How did you figure out this was the correct method?

    The correct method for determining if something is correct is to look for evidence that it is correct. Formalised, we call this ‘science’.

    So exactly how do you know scientifically (only) that God did not create the world?

    I was speaking loosely. If we want to be picky about it; there is no evidence which supports the idea that a god created the universe, the Earth, or life, and nor does the hypothesis have any explanatory power. Therefore there is no reason to advance the god hypothesis.

    I have stated that my interpretation is as valid as any other

    And so have I. What’s under consideration is the obverse proposition: your implicit claim that your interpretation is more valid than any other. Please—either back this claim up, concede, or shut up.

    • I was speaking loosely. If we want to be picky about it; there is no evidence which supports the idea that a god created the universe, the Earth, or life, and nor does the hypothesis have any explanatory power. Therefore there is no reason to advance the god hypothesis.

      Science cannot test the supernatural so there is nothing science can say about the existence or non-existence of God and thus you are left with simple agnosticism. You do not know the limitations of science and cannot use the scientific method thus you cannot even be trusted to think logically about anything biblical.

      And so have I. What’s under consideration is the obverse proposition: your implicit claim that your interpretation is more valid than any other. Please—either back this claim up, concede, or shut up.

      I have already backed up my claims using scripture (Mark 16: 17-18) and listing the necessity to look at the temporal culture and linguistic usage which is available in many apologetic books and free website articles. I will concede that you do not understand the scientific method, Christianity, the definition of the word “definition” and how to read simple sentences. I will shut up when this site uses the proper scholarly method to analyze the bible befitting your “rational” atheism.

  12. Science cannot test the supernatural so there is nothing science can say about the existence or non-existence of God

    1: Please provide a meaningful definition of ‘supernatural’.
    2: The god you believe in interacts with the non-supernatural world. Claims about these interactions most certainly can be tested.

    I have already backed up my claims using scripture

    Yes, by appeals to scripture which other people—in N. Ireland, for instance—have obviously interpreted differently. What makes your claim more valid than theirs?

    If your claim is that a Christian who holds to the same interpretation of scripture that you hold to cannot be a terrorist, then fine. I don’t dispute that at all.

    Your apparent dishonesty-in-debate lies in the fact that you claim that no one who self-describes as Christian can be a terrorist, when a cursory look at the evidence says otherwise.

    You do not have the right to narrow the discussion down to only those you see as ‘true Christians’. If those you see as true Christians would not commit terrorism, then the post wasn’t about them. It was about other people who are Christian, or by your definition merely, even falsely, claim to be Christian, who hold different interpretations from yours.

    • 1: Please provide a meaningful definition of ‘supernatural’.
      2: The god you believe in interacts with the non-supernatural world. Claims about these interactions most certainly can be tested.

      Err, no. You can use a dictionary for yourself. The interaction can be both natural and supernatural. You would not be able to test a supernatural interaction and would also not be able to determine the causation of the natural interaction. So there is failure on both ends. But if you know of some way that I am missing, do state.

      Yes, by appeals to scripture which other people—in N. Ireland, for instance—have obviously interpreted differently. What makes your claim more valid than theirs?

      Must you go around this bush yet again? You want to stick on argumentative validity and seem to be afraid of metaphysical epistemology.

      If your claim is that a Christian who holds to the same interpretation of scripture that you hold to cannot be a terrorist, then fine. I don’t dispute that at all.

      Your apparent dishonesty-in-debate lies in the fact that you claim that no one who self-describes as Christian can be a terrorist, when a cursory look at the evidence says otherwise.

      You do not have the right to narrow the discussion down to only those you see as ‘true Christians’. If those you see as true Christians would not commit terrorism, then the post wasn’t about them. It was about other people who are Christian, or by your definition merely, even falsely, claim to be Christian, who hold different interpretations from yours.

      Someone who “self-describes as Christian” can indeed be a terrorist BUT not a Christian. A Christian (as stated yet again) is not like a Hindu who simply needs to claim affiliation. I also have more right to define Christianity than an atheist. Likewise, an atheist has more right to define what is atheism. By rigorous definition which I supplied previously, no Christian irrespective of theological sectarianism interpretation can be a terrorist unless violence has been explicitly sanctioned like it was in the OT. Since Christians are not Hebrews and are bound by the NT and we don’t have theocratic prophets, priests and kings (and I doubt you would want to), no terrorist is a Christian and conversely, no Christian is a terrorist since the NT states explicitly that God is the only judge (James 4:12). Full stop. However, if you want to describe a simplistic caricature of what constitutes a Christian and say that your lacking theological depth caricature can be a terrorist, fine by me.

      • This mulberry bush is of your own making. All you have to do is show me evidence that your interpretation is more valid than, say, an IRA member’s. The only proviso being that you cannot argue that your own interpretation validates your interpretation; that’s the circle you’ve been stuck in for lo! these many posts.

  13. I now have a headache from reading the comments; specifically, the comments from the True Christian™ who claims that his interpretation is binding on all other Christians.

    I have news for you: it isn’t. Many Christians have interpreted the bible to support terrorism. The thing is, they never defined what they did as ‘terrorism’ but as ‘fighting for freedom’, ‘liberating the underdog’ etc.

    You don’t get to define Christianity for other Christians. Every sect, every Christian has their own definition which to them is more valid than anyone else’s definition. There have been forests of trees sacrificed for the paper on which to write all the possible interpretations so far; there no doubt will be many more.

    Without evidence, humans are reduced to trying to settle differences by how the different options feel to each of them. Not a method that can reliably discover facts or truth (otherwise there would be only one sect of Christianity, one definition, one interpretation of scripture).

  14. Alright, comments are now closed on this thread and the other Jesus Jihad post. While there have been many excellent contributions to the discussion, it now seems that all sides are now simply repeating themselves.

    If you feel I am being unfair, the posts still accept trackbacks and pingbacks, so you are welcome to continue the discussion on your own blogs, and the links will show up here.

    Thank you for the contributions of everyone involved. I’m mightily tempted to weigh in one last time myself, but it seems unfair that I should have the last word and then close comments for everyone else.

    Certainly, I think there’s enough discussion here for readers to make up their own minds. And, without wishing to insult my commenters, whose contributions I value highly, that was probably true about thirty comments ago!

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