Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Re: George Washington -- Christian or Deist?

This blog post has moved! It's now on my own website, here:

Re: George Washington -- Christian or Deist?

19 Comments:

Jonathan said...

Glad to give you a comment.

On the Circular to the States, I should have been clearer: I didn't mean to insinuate it was a fraud like GW's prayerbook. The Circular clearly is an authentic Washington document. I meant to point out that since it wasn't written in his hand, the sentiments could have been those of a more devout aid. But since he signed it, I'm willing to concede on that one.

Regarding the prayer book however, there can be no debate: It's inauthentic. Frank Grizzard, a historian who specializes in the life of George Washington and editor of the Washington collection at the University of Virginia, in his book showed handwriting samples demonstrating the handwriting in the journal not to match Washington's at all.

Rupert Hughes debunked the authenticity of the prayer book back in the 1920s. And the Smithsonian specifically rejected it as inauthentic.

Regarding communion, no credible evidence shows that GW communed from the time of the Revolution till his death. There is specific testimony that he didn't commune in his Anglican/Episcopal Churches during that time period (because Nelly Custis, Rev. Dr. Abercrombie, Bishop White all testify that he didn't commune). And the evidence that he communed in other non-Anglican-Espiscopal Churches is 2nd, 3rd, or worse-hand hearsay accounts.

This doesn't make him a deist but does suggest that he disbelieved in what communion represents: Christ's Atonement.

Regarding his writings, two things. One I concede that they unquestionably show GW believed in an active personal God. And if that disqualifies one from being a "Deist" (because Deists believe in a distant non-intervening God) then GW wasn't a Deist.

However, in his public speeches/writings, Washington was recorded as uttering the words Jesus Christ only once in a speech given to Delaware Indians. And he mentioned the person of JC, not by name only once in the aforementioned Circular. (And neither of those documents were written in GW's hand.) Nowhere in his private writings did he write the name or refer to the person of Jesus Christ. But he talked about God or "Providence" quite a bit.

In over 20,000 pages of known writings, there is something strange about his lack of discussing his personal faith in Christ or otherwise speaking in overtly Trinitarian language, instead choosing exclusively generic philosophical God-words.

That, plus his refusal to take communion, plus other things we could (or not) get into is highly suggestive that Washington was not a Christian in the orthodox Trinitarian sense.

As Paul F. Boller put it in his magnificent study on the matter:

"[I]f to believe in the divinity and resurrection of Christ and his atonement for the sins of man and to participate in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper are requisites for the Christian faith, then Washington, on the evidence which we have examined, can hardly be considered a Christian, except in the most nominal sense."

Mrs Mecomber said...

I have been a very devout Christian for over 20 years, and I don't take communion. And I am no "nominal" Christian, either-- Jesus Christ is #1 in my life. I can't stand it when non-believers or others criticize Washington in this way. JUST because he didn't take communion does NOT mean he was not a Christian! Get over it! Communion DOES NOT represent Christ's atonement-- before folks throw out theological implications of other's actions, I suggest these folks get their theology right, and open up their minds to a world outside their own puny religious thinking.

And by the way, I don't mention Jesus Christ in any of my public speeches, so does that mean I am not a Christian? Arguments like these are full of holes. It's like: "To prove GW was a Christian he HAD to have done such-and-such." Ridiculous. GW's own adopted granddaughter said it was as silly to questions GW's Christianity as it was to question his patriotism.

It sounds like some people are looking for any excuse to cover the embarrassing shame (to them, anyway) that GW was a Christian, even though the evidence is so plain it hits any other open-minded person in the face.

Mrs Mecomber said...

And by the way-- I heard that George Washington didn't have an bumper sticker with a Christian fish on it. I'll bet he wasn't a Christian then!

I also heard he didn't listen to Christian music! That must PROOVE he was a deist, right??

He also never, ever read his Bible or prayed every morning-- oh, wait, he DID do those.. well, he must have STILL been a deist because he didn't go to CHURCH and sing SAPPY PSALMS every Sunday! Yes, a deist! I knew it!! Yesssss!

Jonathan said...

"He also never, ever read his Bible or prayed every morning-- oh, wait, he DID do those."

Uh, no. There is no evidence he did those either. I'm sure GW had read the Bible; there is no evidence, however, for the proposition that every morning for an hour he religiously had his nose in the Bible, as I've heard claimed.

As far as communion is concerned, I don't know how your church views it, but this is what Washington's own minister Dr. Abercrombie had to say on the matter:

"I cannot consider any man as a real Christian who uniformly disregards an ordinance so solemnly enjoined by the divine Author of our holy religion, and considered as a channel of divine grace."

Jonathan said...

"I can't stand it when non-believers or others criticize Washington in this way."

I find this to be very insulting. How do you know that I am not 100% Christian like you? I've got news for you: Nothing about the Christian religion requires you to believe the Founders were Christians like you (though Mormons do have to believe the FF were proto-Mormons) and some of the most distinghished conservative evangelical and Catholic scholars of the Founding don't believe Washington or the other key Founders were orthodox Christians who intended to "found" a "Christian Nation."

There's a whole world beyond D. James Kennedy and David Barton. And that's the world of real scholarship.

If you want my advise on where to begin with a real scholar who can't possibly be accused of being a secularist or a non-believer, I'd suggest Dr. Gary Scott Smith, chair of the history dept. at Grove City College and his new book on faith of the Presidents.

Hercules Mulligan said...

In order to explore Washington's faith some real digging needs to be done, because he was reserved and private about his beliefs and convictions in general. I must most emphatically state that not every strong Christian takes the communion. The true Christian believes (apart from Catholic and Anglican tradition, which was largely perverted by ancient Roman and Babylonian paganism) that the
communion is not the embodiment of the Atonement of Christ, but rather in the pure and sanctified life and character of the born-again believer. Perhaps Washington put more stress on the God-fearing character of the Christian (see his General Orders for July 9, 1776) and not on a ritual or an appearance of religiousness.

Washington may have not taken the communion for several reasons. Washington was warmly opposed to the notion that people were closer to God in certain denominations than in others. At this time in America, the Episcopalian denomination (of which Washington was formally a part) was at bitter odds with other denominations, and these other denominations were at bitter odds and disagreements with each other. In those days, when one
was a communicant in a church, he was professing to be incorporated into a particular denomination, and was considered a communicant of that DENOMINATION, not necessarily a communicant in the Christian religion in general. Washington's letters on denominations and to different churches reveals this non-denominational position of his, so it is very likely that this is the reason he did not commune in church. So, especially in his case, it is only highly speculative (and quite ridiculous) to say that Washington was not a Christian because he didn't take the communion.

Hercules Mulligan said...

BTW ...

About the communion and Bishop Abercrombie's opinion.

(A)Just because a bishop said something doesn't make it a part of Christian doctrine, and

(B) Washington most probably believed point A.

I know that there is another world beyond David Barton and D. James Kennedy, but it is not the world of "real" scholarship. I have examined , cross-examined, and double-checked the work of both men, and I am more impressed with their work (they quote the original writings and oldest surviving accounts, not the golden opinions of recent "historians") than I am with the work of contemporary historians and modern biographers. Real scholarship does not base itself upon the latest historian's commentary; it is based upon good evidence and historical logic. I am not interested in reading works of modern "scholarship," no matter how unbiased the person is. I am interested in reading the Founders' WRITINGS on the matter of Christianity and our government.

Jonathan said...

Herc,

I've read virtually everything GW had to say on religion (and published nationally on the matter, see Liberty Magazine, Dec. 2006) and can tell you there is no "smoking gun" for either side which proves GW was or not a "real" orthodox Trinitarian Christian. Just a number of clues.

As you pointed out Anglicans/Episcopalians, like Roman Catholics, take communion quite seriously which already shows GW was formally a member of a Christian Church whose teachings in part he didn't believe in.

While the evidence clearly shows GW believed in a warm-benevolent Providence (so, I might add, did Jefferson and Franklin) he didn't talk like an orthodox Trinitarian Christian, nor did he claim to be one. In the thousands letters he wrote, Peter Lillback can find only one where he claimed to be a Christian. He used generic philosophical words for God.

For instance, Washington never used the term Redeemer either. The closest Lillback can find is his reproducing Congress' words to his troops in his general orders.

He didn't use the word "savior" either. And never talked of the "Father," "Son" and "Holy Spirit."

Similarly, there's no evidence of GW ever having a "born-again" experience.

Unless we see such things, claiming he was a devout orthodox Christian is as unwarranted as claiming he was a Deist.

Jonathan said...

Herc,

I agree you should be concerned first and foremost with what the Founders said, not with what someone else said. And I too have examined Barton's and Kennedy's work in detail and have seen them peddling myths and facts made up out of whole cloth. Ever read Barton's article, "Unconfirmed Quotations"?

Hercules Mulligan said...

250 years after I am dead (suppose I become famous), historians search and search for my writings. They research all aspects of my life, and find that I am quite a religious individual. But they don't think I am a Trinitarian Christian. Why? Because the Trinity itself is never mentioned in my writings. Or if it is, I never made any blatant statement professing I believed in it. I just used generic terms for God (btw, the clergy of Washington's time used the same names Washington did).

I guess I must not have been a Trinitarian and a born-again Christian, because I failed to use the words that the historians were looking for.

Jonathan said...

Herc,

"Why? Because the Trinity itself is never mentioned in my writings. Or if it is, I never made any blatant statement professing I believed in it. I just used generic terms for God"

I seriously doubt that. But in any event, let's do what GW never did. Let's set the record straight. What are your views on the Trinity?

"(btw, the clergy of Washington's time used the same names Washington did)."

So did Jefferson and Franklin. That's why I called them "generic," meaning consistent with a variety of monotheistic creeds. The clergy also spoke in explicit Trinitarian language, something Washington did not do.

Jonathan said...

"[T]he clergy of Washington's time used the same names Washington did.

You must have Peter Lillback's book. This is an argument he constructs. I'm probably one of the few places on the Internet that regularly blogs about his book; I hope to critically review it one day in a scholarly publication like I did with Michael and Jana Novak's book.

I'm still fully investigating this claim. Besides noting that orthodox Christian clergy also used Trinitarian words for God (which GW didn't), I'd note a few other things. One, GW might have actually influenced the clergy not the other way around. They may have seen his speeches full of philosophical words for God and thinking him to be a "real Christian" adopted his language which was not authentically Christian. (Though I do concede his words like "Providence" were generic, meaning a word virtually any monotheist could use.)

Two, "infidelity" was so widespread among distinguished citizens during the Founding era that many notable preachers preached what orthodox Christians considered "infidel principles" from the pulpit.

These folks generally didn't consider themselves "infidels" (I don't think anyone in that era, even Thomas Paine, desired that label). But the orthodox Trinitarian Christians did consider any devations from orthodoxy to be heresy at best, infidelity at worst.

Some of these preachers actually thought their "infidel" principles represented genuine uncorrupted Christianity. So just because someone (like for instance Jefferson and Adams) embraced the label Christian doesn't tell you whether they were a real Christian in the orthodox Trinitarian sense.

The "infidel" principles that our key Founding Fathers (Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, & Franklin) embraced was not strict deism, like what Paine and Allen believed in, but something softer. Their system was theologically unitarian and universalist and its adherents still believed in things like prayer, an active personal God, and often called themselves "Christian," not deist.

Some of the most notable New England pro-Revolutionary preachers in fact believed in these unitarian doctrines, not orthodox Trinitarian Christianity. They include Jonathan Mayhew, Charles Chauncy, Samuel West, and Simeon Howard. They denied things like the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, and the infallibility of the Bible, while elevating man's reason over biblical revelation as the ultimate arbiter of Truth. This system is somewhere between strict deism and orthodox Christianity, but believes man's reason is the trumping element if a conflict between reason and revelation should occur.

Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin without question believed this; Washington and Madison likely did. Though, because of their reticence to put their religious cards on the table, there will always be room to doubt with those two.

I also believe this was Hamilton's creed before his end of life conversion (after 1800) to orthodox Trinitarian Christianity.

At you know where I am coming from in this debate. You won't see me arguing the key Founders were "deists." Of the notable Founders, I use that label to describe Paine and Allen only.

Hercules Mulligan said...

As to Barton's article "Unconfirmed Quotations," yes, I have read it. But may I turn the question around: "Have YOU read it? Or have you just read the accusations of historians who said that Barton was making an admittance of making up these quotes himself?"

Early on in his ministry, Barton did use some of these unconfirmed quotations (but most of his information rested on solid documentation: the volumes of the Founders' writings), but he never made them up, and he never says that he made them up in the article in question. I had researched the backgrounds of some of these quotes years back, and they originated in some books that never substantiated the source of these quotes, and no original sources have been discovered for them.

Barton apparently researched these quotes years ago, and found them to be unsubstantiated. He still writes books and articles, using quotes from the Founders' own writings (I have examined his footnotes and bibliographies), and his theme has never changed. Nor have modern "scholars" ever been able to disprove his material or his assertions; they just attack his credentials, because after all, he didn't attend THEIR universities, get the same degrees THEY did. But their credentials on telling the truth or presenting substantiated evidence are pitiful. For instance, at the end of the book "The Godless Constitution," Isaac Kramnick and R. Lawrence Moore wrote that they didn't need to put footnotes at the end of their book, since the material they presented was "common knowledge." What a bunch of arrogant buffoons!

As to the Trinitarian belief of Washington:
You know that he was a member of the Episcopalian church. There are records which substantiate that Washington became a vestryman of his church, and therefore had to swear an oath that he believed in the Trinity. He held vestryman-ship during the colonial era, and probably because after he became a patriot, he no longer could be under the "head" of the Church of England: King George III, but Washington was still under the King of kings. Either Washington was a hypocrite or he swore to believe something that he didn't know to be true. There is more evidence that Washington was a Christian than there is evidence that he wasn't.

As to the Founders you mentioned being "moderate deists," I don't think that John Adams or Alexander Hamilton qualify as deists at all. Adams once wrote accusing David Hume, a secular philosopher of the Enlightenment, as being "an atheist, deist, and libertine." So I don't think Adams believed himself to be a deist. Now I agree with you that just because someone calls himself a Christian does not mean that he definitly is, but Adams seems to have rejected the "rationalistic" notion embraced by all deists, radical or moderate. Adams said:

"The improvement, the exaltation of the human character, the perfectibility of man, and the perfection of the human faculties are the divine objects which her [Mary Wollstonecraft's] ethusiasm beholds, in the beautiful vision. Alass, how airy and baseless a fabric!"

And as to Hamilton:

I would like to know why you believe that his conversion was in 1800, and I would like to know why you believe he held the "rationalistic" notion that the deists did, too. Hamilton also never considered himself a deist. When he was young, he experienced a conversion during a horrible hurricane in 1772, and became an ardent believer in Christianity. One of his college friends recounted how Hamilton prayed fervently morning and evening, and how Hamilton defended oppositions to his belief in revealed religion (which is the main tenet the deists oppose). Hamilton supposedly became a deist during or after the Revolution, but Hamilton never thought such a change occured in his belief system. You probably know that Hamilton was a chief founder of the NY Manumission Society in 1785. He was one of the first to sign its founding document, which declared:
"It is our duty, therefore, as Free Citizens and CHRISTIANS, ... to endeavor, by lawful Ways and Means, to enable them [blacks, especially freed slaves] to Share, equally with us, in that civil and religious Liberty, with which an indulgent Providence has blessed these States; and to which these, our Brethren, are by Nature, as much entitled as ourselves." If Hamilton became a deist, then why did he become one of the first to sign a document that said that the subscribers to that document were Christians?

Another statement of Hamilton's also implies that he believed himself to be a believer in the Gospel, and not a "rationalist." The following quote is taken from an undated document, but the subject and Hamilton's intense manner powerfully suggests that it was written during the mid-1790s or thereabouts, during the time when the French Revolution was a subject of heated debate and much controversy in this country. Hamilton wrote:

"Opinions, for a long time, have been gradually gaining ground, which threaten the foundations of religion, morality, and society. An attack was first made upon the Christian revelation, for which natural religion was offered as the substitute. The Gospel was to be discarded as a gross imposture, but the being and attributes of GOD, the obligations of piety, even the doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments, were to be retained and cherished." (Hamilton then went on to express his shock at the sudden popularity of atheism, which Hamilton said was practically the established religion of France, and which influence he observed was migrating to America.)

Here, Hamilton, in his reference to "natural religion" (his given definition of which lines up perfectly with deism and rationalism in all their "theistic" forms), was a threat to "religion, morality, and society." Hamilton obviously did not see himself as a deist or rationalist. Many, many of his other writings can be presented, but I have a blog called the Alexander Hamilton Patriot which documents it all: www.ahpatriot.blogspot.com.

Jonathan said...

Out of Adams, Hamilton, and Washington, there is no debating what Adams believed. He believed exactly as Jefferson and Franklin did and his writings, over and over again, show this. Call it unitarianism, (or the term I prefer -- "theistic rationalism") that's what he believed.

Adams made it clear in no uncertain terms that he disbelieved in the Trinity, the Incarnation and the Atonement and could be quite harsh when attacking those doctrine (harsher than Franklin ever was).

"The Trinity was carried in a general council by one vote against a quaternity; the Virgin Mary lost an equality with the Father, Son, and Spirit only by a single suffrage."

-- John Adams to Benjamin Rush, June 12, 1812.

"An incarnate God!!! An eternal, self-existent, omnipresent omniscient Author of this stupendous Universe, suffering on a Cross!!! My Soul starts with horror, at the Idea, and it has stupified the Christian World. It has been the Source of almost all of the Corruptions of Christianity."

-- John Adams to John Quincy Adams, March 28, 1816

Adams elevated man's reason so far over revelation that he stated even if God Himself revealed the Trinity to him on Mt. Sinai with Moses, he still wouldn't believe it because 1+1+1 = 3, not 1.

"This revelation had made it certain that two and one make three, and that one is not three nor can three be one. We can never be so certain of any prophecy, or the fulfillment of any prophecy, or of any miracle, or the design of any miracle, as we are from the revelation of nature, that is, nature’s God, that two and two are equal to four. Miracles or prophecies might frighten us out of our wits, might scare us to death, might induce us to lie, to say that we believe that two and two make five, but we should not believe it; we should know the contrary."

"Had you and I been forty days with Moses on Mount Sinai, and admitted to behold the divine glory, and there been told that one was three and three one, we might not have had the courage to deny it, but we could not have believed it."

-- John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, Sept. 14, 1813

For more on Adams' heterodoxy, see this post:

http://positiveliberty.com/2005/10/john-adams-unitarian-universalist-seeker-of-the-truth.html

If you don't believe my quotations get the Adams/Jefferson correspondence, Cappon edition, or James H. Hutson's book of quotations and check for yourself.

And like Jefferson, Adams called himself a "Christian" and a "Unitarian" (his Congregation officially preached Unitarianism as of 175), not a "Deist." Adams term for his creed was "liberal unitarian Christianity."

Jonathan said...

Should say "as of 1750."

Here is Adams' own testimony:

"I thank you for your favour of the 10th and the pamphlet enclosed, 'American Unitarianism.' I have turned over its leaves and have found nothing that was not familiarly known to me.

"In the preface Unitarianism is represented as only thirty years old in New England. I can testify as a Witness to its old age. Sixty five years ago my own minister the Reverend Samuel Bryant, Dr. Johnathan Mayhew of the west Church in Boston, the Reverend Mr. Shute of Hingham, the Reverend John Brown of Cohasset & perhaps equal to all if not above all the Reverend Mr. Gay of Hingham were Unitarians. Among the Laity how many could I name, Lawyers, Physicians, Tradesman, farmers!"

-- John Adams to Jedidiah Morse, May 15, 1815. Adams Papers (microfilm), reel 122, Library of Congress.

"We Unitarians, one of whom I have had the Honour to be, for more than sixty Years, do not indulge our Malignity in profane Cursing and Swearing, against you Calvinists; one of whom I know not how long you have been. You and I, once saw Calvin and Arius, on the Plafond of the Cathedral of St. John the Second in Spain roasting in the Flames of Hell. We Unitarians do not delight in thinking that Plato and Cicero, Tacitus Quintilian Plyny and even Diderot, are sweltering under the scalding drops of divine Vengeance, for all Eternity."

-- John Adams to John Quincy Adams, March 28, 1816, Ibid, reel 430.

Those last two are in James Hutson's book of quotations, pp. 220-221. He's someone whose work is quite friendly to religious conservatives. But he's a good scholar with a Ph.D. in history. He has much more to offer than Barton or Kennedy.

Jellsbury said...

Mrs. Mecomber, you talk about open-mindedness, but I can think of no religion more closed-minded than Christianity. Islam is trying their best, but they have a long way to go before they approach the savagery of the Crusades. Before you spout lies that Christians are tolerant, consider this: the Gospels trace Jesus' lineage through Joseph (who he wasn't related to - so much for being the seed of David), while modern Judaism traces lineage through the mother. Know why? Because when pious Crusaders passed through Jewish towns on their way to Israel, they raped Jewish girls with such frequency that tracing lineage through the father was impossible. Yet according to your mythology, the rapists are in Heaven (probably raping angels) because they accepted a convicted felon who was crucified for sedition into their hearts, while the helpless, internally-bleeding victims burn in Hell for not believing as you do. If that's God's justice, I'll cast my lot with Satan, cuz he's bound to be better than that.

Hercules Mulligan said...

Jellsbury,

I am sorry, but your misunderstanding of the Christian religion is tremendous. Allow me to address your statements one by one, which, I trust, you made in ignorance:

"I can think of no religion more closed-minded by Christianity."

OK, this depends on how you define "close-minded." If you mean, by this term, that Christianity only recognizes itself as being true, that is not necessarily wrong. If there are absolutes, than something must be absolutely true. Now, if Christianity has no claim to be true, and there is affirmative evidence against it (after all my reading and studying, I have found none), than it's probably true to call it "closed-minded."

But if you mean that Christianity is "closed-minded" because it requires one to believe in it in spite of evidence, than you are wrong about Christianity. The Bible commands us to be "fully assured" that what we believe is true. God does not want us to be presumptuous about our beliefs. Faith is a conviction based upon rational conclusions, and a rational trust of God. It is not a blind leap into unintelligible fantasy.

"Islam is trying their best, but they have a long way to go before they approach the savagery of the Crusades."

?!?!?!? This is the first time I have ever had any impression that Islam was trying its best to be tolerant! I subscribe to the monthly magazine of a ministry that works among nations around the world, including the Middle East and other nations dominated by Islam. These issues are replete with photographs, victim interviews, and eyewitness testimonies of the brutalities that Muslim jihadists, following the instructions of the Koran and their religious leaders, are zealously exercising against non-Muslims, in particular, Christian converts. I think that Muslims have done a good job surpassing the atrocities of the Crusades. And by the way, I would suggest that you do some good reading and catch up on your history, and see why the Crusades were fought. I might recommend The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Islam and the Crusades by Robert Spencer.

Do I think the Crusades were right? No, I don't think that they accorded with biblical principles, and certainly not with the principles of Christ. Were the Crusaders Christians? I don't know about each and every one of them, but seriously, I doubt it. Unlike you presuppose in your comment above, God does not allow people into Heaven because they "believed in Jesus" (who was not a convicted felon; He was falsely accused before both the High Priest and Pontius Pilate, and his trial before the Priest was conducted in an illegal manner). God allows people to go to Heaven because they have allowed Jesus Christ to transform their lives, because they have repented of their sin (which includes all the atrocities you mentioned), and followed His commandments. Of course that implies believing in certain things, but mentally assenting to those things does not make one "saved" by default. The Crusaders did terrible things in the name of God and Christianity. But they were rebelling against the teaching of Christ, which says to "do to others as you would have others do unto you." Furthermore, the Crusaders brought a disgrace to true Christianity (explained in the Bible), and upon that, God's judgment comes. Read Romans chapter 2 for an idea how seriously God takes this.

"If that's God's justice, I'll cast my lot with Satan, cuz he's bound to be better than that."

As I explained above, the Crusades were NOT God's justice. They were anything but that. So you are wrong there. Second, you say you would cast your lot with Satan if that were the case. That is like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. It is because man listens to Satan, and does not obey God's commandments, that men commit horrific atrocities! Satan is the progenitor of all that! God is the one who not only punishes such wrong-doing, but forgives those who truly repent from it, and gives them the power to live and act justly.

Historically, Christians have always tolerated those of other beliefs. Those who have pretended to be Christians (like many of the Catholic leaders during the Dark Ages) are the ones who have used the name of God to advance their own political ends. The Bible makes it clear that God judges them far greater than he judges the ignorant unbelievers whom they abused. So God is just, then. Christians have always allowed themselves to be tortured and killed (from the very beginning, this includes Christ Himself, His disciples and apostles, and up to today), rather than avenge their tormentors. Why? Because we know that God does not allow us, in His Word, to take vengeance into our own hands. Rather, He instructs us to "love our enemies" and "pray for those who persecute us and curse us."

If you retain your bias against Christianity, that is your decision. But a rational person would know that the stakes are high, and that he better not be presumptuous about his eternal destiny. Much of your aversion to Christianity, Jellsbury, seems to come from your impressions of it, and not from serious study. I would encourage you to study the Bible, and the evidence for th truth of Christianity. Books like "The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict" by Josh McDowell, "The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel, and "Why I Believe" by Dr. James Kennedy may be helpful to you. You can find these volumes on Amazon and elsewhere.

Hercules Mulligan said...

OH, and the website of that magazine I mentioned is:

www.persecution.com

The Canadian branch of this ministry hosts a website called "Persecution Report," which features video and audio reports of Christian persecution around the globe. This website is updated monthly:

www.persecution.tv

Mike Kirby said...

@Hercules Mulligan:

"This is the first time I have ever had any impression that Islam was trying its best to be tolerant!"

I believe Jellsbury's point was that Islam is trying it's best to outdo the awfulness of the Crusades, not to be tolerant.

"Faith is a conviction based upon rational conclusions, and a rational trust of God. It is not a blind leap into unintelligible fantasy."

This is the first I have heard of this. I have no doubt that there are people such as yourself who subscribe to this brand of rationalism; I also know that it all my years of interest, and discussions with devout Christians about their beliefs, this is the first time I've heard this sentiment. As a devout man who went on to dedicate his life to being a missionary explained to me: "You're not going to get me into a rational argument about my beliefs. They are not rational. They are faith. I have faith that they are true." The very definition of faith is belief without evidence. I conjecture that you are deluding yourself in order to maintain beliefs which, if you are like many others I've spoken to, are an enormous comfort to you, in the face of your own sense of rationality. Any Christian who valued fundamentally truth, and did not put up blinders to those things which do not conform his or her beliefs, would not remain a Christian for long. And that opinion is formed from firsthand, in-depth conversations with many Christians over the last 20 years, and reading of Christian books (C.S. Lewis's apologetics works are a particular favorite.)

"the Crusades were NOT God's justice. They were anything but that. So you are wrong there. Second, you say you would cast your lot with Satan if that were the case. That is like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. It is because man listens to Satan, and does not obey God's commandments, that men commit horrific atrocities! Satan is the progenitor of all that! God is the one who not only punishes such wrong-doing, but forgives those who truly repent from it, and gives them the power to live and act justly."

If that is the case, it is interesting to me to note how Satan commits so many of his atrocities through men of faith and the institutions of the Church, apparently with little interference from God.

"a rational person would know that the stakes are high, and that he better not be presumptuous about his eternal destiny."

The stakes are indeed very high, and eternal. Buddha makes it clear that if you go on worshipping myths such as Christianity, you are condemning yourself to a eternity of Samsara (the Cycle Of Suffering,) forever lost in illusion, forever unable to attain the eternal peace of enlightenment. (Also worth mentioning, you're cruising to be condemned eternally to the icy wastes of Niflheim, and not earn a place in Valhalla, according to Odin.) I'm glad you understand what serious consequences people risk by choosing to put their faith in Christianity.