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Trevor Blake: Worshiping the One True Scotsman

Part of a debate between Trevor Blake of OVO and Free Northerner.

TEST ALL THINGS; HOLD FAST TO THAT WHICH IS GOOD.
Poor form indeed to open with an admission of error, but here are a few words on my mistakes in the debate thus far, in the hope I can do better next time. I could not find a satisfactory structure online for conducting a written debate. I roughly made one up based on bits of stage debates and my own ideas. This structure has served well enough, but it would have been more beneficial to others who might want to use that structure if I’d filled it out more. Perhaps some other time I will write out in greater detail my idea of what an online debate should include. A few spelling errors crept into my work. I did try and exclude them, but there they are anyway. Next time I will try that tiny bit harder to root them out. I am content with the arguments I made, but I can think of one or two supporting links that would have made them stronger still. I have written notes to myself to remember to include those links if I take part in another debate. Fortunately I am infinitely infused with humility and a timid countenance on top of being inherently in the right. Therefore these trifling errors in no way detract from my sole claim to the champion’s belt in this debate.

AND ALSO THE STRENGTH OF ISRAEL WILL NOT LIE OR REPENT: FOR HE IS NOT A MAN, THAT HE SHOULD REPENT.
The 3M company has been making adhesive tape for a long time. Their tape has been used for many purposes, such as paint trimming. In 1925 a representative from 3M met with an automotive paint trimmer and asked how the tape might be improved. The painter said there wasn’t adhesive on the full surface of the tape. ‘Go back to your Scotch bosses and put on more adhesive’ the painter said, invoking the stereotype of Scottish people as thrifty to the point of miserliness. The executives at 3M were tickled by the racist slur and the name Scotch Tape has been used ever since. It’s remarkable what people will accept if it’s repeated often enough. And never so remarkable as in the case of religion. If the faithful make a truth-statement, it is a truth-statement because the faithful made it. Hey presto!

Free Northerner worships a True Scotsman in the sky. If God does something it’s good, begorrah, because God doesn’t do anything bad. And if something bad happens, it’s not God’s doing, saints be praised. Don’t you know, laddie, that it doesn’t matter how one worships the Great Fairy in the sky as long as one does so in exactly the right way.

AND FOR THIS CAUSE GOD SHALL SEND THEM STRONG DELUSION, THAT THEY SHOULD BELIEVE A LIE.
Free Northerner does note that figuring out how to worship God is both mandatory and impossible to explain.

Of course, any truth will be interpreted differently and incorrectly.

As one would expect there to be disagreement on canon as those who can only see the shadows may disagree.

We can’t know how to do it, but we better get it right the first time. The King of Kings wears no clothes and explaining religion is difficult because explaining isn’t something one does in religion. One believes. And if one belief gets in the way of another belief, you wave your hands around and hope nobody notices. God will tell some people lies but He isn’t a liar, God is merciful but He’s also just, no need to select one or the other when faith allows you to hold both at the same time and in the same way.

I don’t mind what’s on the mind of others. I don’t get overly worked up when people believe things I don’t, even if they believe them with vigor. I might enjoy poking holes in flawed arguments proposed out of that vigorous belief, but in no way do I want them to be forbidden from their sincere, traditional, vigorous and stoo-pit beliefs. I have my own, gentle reader.

Now if a person says their beliefs might lead them to killing people, I might in turn poke at them a little harder…

When a person confuses the concepts of belief and understanding, what is agreed upon is said to be true because it is agreed upon. This is when all sorts of rationalizations sprout to convey why the stated conclusions do not match the claims that build toward the stated conclusion. The old switcharoo, eh? I would bet my front teeth that I am far, far more familiar with the Bible than Free Northerner. The evidence for my Bible scholarship in this debate is that I have quoted the Bible more often, more completely, with more accurate and detailed citations than Free Northerner has done. His reply? I did it wrong, because I didn’t read the verses “in their immediate context and in the context of scripture as a whole.” He’s got me coming and going, since I can never be specific enough or general enough. When I quote a specific, I need to go general. When quote a few specifics to make a general statement, I need to go with some specifics but not others. Some Christians (and all Muslims) go one step further in saying what I really need to do is really read the magic spell books in their real original languages to really (really) really REALLY understand them. And by the way, if I don’t believe them I must not understand them, so keep reading until you belunderstand them.

How do you reply when someone contradicts himself from one sentence to the next? Is the Bible “not very explicit” or is the Bible “clear?” Do those who never heard of Jesus due to the circumstance of their birth deserve to go to Hell or not? Here’s Free Northerner:

As for those unreached by the Gospel, the Bible is mostly silent and not very explicit. The Bible is clear: Man is a sinner and damns himself to the punishment he rightly deserves.

Again, when you are talking about made up being who live in made up places then you can go ahead and keep making up what they can and can’t do, you don’t have to stop with the traditional stories. Unless you do.

Free Northerner: “Trevor then enters into Trinitarianism, where he argues that God does not exist because we can’t understand Him.” I do not claim that what we do not understand does not exist. I do claim that what we do not understand, we do not understand. There are some unkind words for those who talk authoritatively about that which they know not, but I’m not an unkind enough man to repeat those words. Instead, a suggestion from Ludwig Wittgenstein: “What we cannot speak about, we must pass over in silence.”

A few times Free Northerner does pass over in silence. “As for the prophecies of the end times, they only fail if you define such phrases ‘shortly’ and ‘at hand’ in a particular manner. Not dipping into eschatology here either.” Yes, when it comes down to Free Northerner telling us what it means to be a Christian… nope, not gonna do it. You just gotta believe. Believe what? You know, believe!

IF RIGHTEOUSNESS COME BY THE LAW, THEN CHRIST IS DEAD IN VAIN.

Free Northerner and I have a deeper disagreement than what it means to be a Christian. It’s a disagreement so deep that he cannot imagine that I’m not on his side.

Trevor then makes the common (among atheists) mistake of judging morality by his own human moral compass. By what right does he decide slavery is immoral? How can someone who believes man is literally the accidental arrangement of carbon, water, and electricity (to grossly oversimplify) by chaotic forces impute any moral value to the actions of said sacks of carbon?

Free Northerner believes in rights. Free Northerner believes in natural rights, natural laws, divine rights, all sorts of specters.

Even among those who may not have heard of Christ by name, if they seek Him and follow the natural law written in their heart, they will find Him.

Like all believers in natural rights and natural laws, Free Northerner holds that these phantoms are universal (but not universal) and known (but unknown). They are whatever they need to be.

Here Trevor once again condemns God as monstrous by his own standards of morality. Does not God have the right to harden the heart of His own creation when His own creation rejects Him? By what right does Trevor deny God this right?

Natural law is the card up the sleeve of every theologian and philosopher who wants to tell himself he wins without actually having to play.

As for babes, have they followed the natural law written into their own hearts, and is not God a God of mercy?

I didn’t believe in natural rights when I made this poster in 1986. I didn’t believe in natural rights when I wrote a review of L. A. Rollin’s book The Myth of Natural Rights in 2010. I didn’t believe in natural rights when I wrote about them in my book Confessions of a Failed Egoist in 2014. I didn’t believe in natural rights when I replied to a criticism by the Ludwig Von Mises institute of Canada, also in 2014. And today, right this moment, I don’t believe in natural rights. I believe men do what they do, then use rationality to rationalize what they did.

VENGEANCE IS MINE.

Free Northerner and I agree on what it means to be a Christian. We both say that being a Christian means whatever a Christian says it means. I have said so in my opening statement and in my follow-up, and Free Northerner says the same:

If Christ does not require specific theological knowledge and views to save, who am I to demand that a Christian hold to such particular views?

Free Northern says the specifics aren’t needed to be a Christian, only the basics do. Or does he mean that the basics aren’t needed, only the specifics? What are the basics and what are the specifics? Well, you know… whatever… Free Northerner had an unlimited word count and two previous posts to give us the answers. Christianity has had two thousand years. Both have failed us. From the beginning until today, to be a Christian means whatever a Christian says it means.

- Trevor Blake is the author of
Confessions of a Failed Egoist and Other Essays
(Baltimore: Underworld Amusements 2014)

Trevor Blake: Your Faith is Futile and You Are Still in Your Sins

Pirates riding Christians, Yo Ho Ho!

Part of a debate between Trevor Blake of OVO and Free Northerner.

Free Northerner has quoted the Nicene Creed and several selections from the Bible in his opening statement on what it means to be a Christian.

Free Northerner cites the Nicene Creed (325) but quotes the First Council of Constantinople (381).  It’s hard to know what parts of the Bible to cite and what non-Biblical source to trust. Do we trust the Nicene / Nicene-Constantinople Creed, which was unaware of the Gospel of Thomas (discovered in 1945), or do we trust the Gospel of Thomas, written three hundred years before the Creed? To be a Christian one must clearly make such choices, although how such choices are to be made is not clear.

Free Northerner quotes 1 Corinthians 13. This is a lovely chapter, and includes a verse (1 Corinthians 13:11) that is meaningful to me “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Fine advice, and I am confident Free Northerner would agree. I do not know what Free Northerner thinks of 1 Corinthians 13:8, in which God tells us that prophecies shall fail. Does that make God a liar, or does that make the prophets liars? Why not both, as 2 Chronicles 18:22 tells us “the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets” and Jeremiah 4:10 confirms “Ah, Lord GOD! surely thou hast greatly deceived this people.” Free Northerner says that the sinner chooses sin, but when God hardens a man’s heart and tells him lies I would not call that a choice. God seems to my mortal morality to be a mite monstrous to condemn those who lived before Christ, those who lived in isolation during and after the life of Christ and pre-linguistic babies to eternal Hell for a salvation they had no chance to learn of.

Free Northerner quote 1 Corinthians 15. The books of the Old Testament are considered necessary to the books of the New Testament, because they include the prophecies that Jesus is said to have fulfilled. But when the Old Testament contradicts the New Testament, no resolution is at hand other than the faithful believing selectively what they want to believe and quoting selectively what they want to quote. 1 Corinthians 15:20 claims that Jesus was the first to rise from the dead. That is supported in the Bible, as long as one ignores 1 Samuel 28:11 & 14 and 1 Kings 17:22 and 2 Kings 4:32-35 and 2 Kings 13:21. Jesus Himself was the necromancer in Matthew 9:23-25, Matthew 27:52-53, Luke 7:12-15, Luke 9:30 and John 11:43. Perhaps Jesus and His followers forgot that they’d reanimated the dead only a short time earlier.  It’s easy to overlook such things as corpses walking down the street.  “Many” of the dead walked all the way from the graveyard to Jerusalem and were seen by “many” but aside from Matthew 27:52-53 there’s no record anywhere else of this singular event.  To see the dead walk the earth is strange, not make note of it is more strange.  But to be a Christian makes zombie-time no big deal, except that one time when it happened, then it’s a big deal.  1 Corinthians 15:28 is one of those verses where the explanation is “it’s a mystery!” as if that were any sort of explanation at all. “And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.”  To untangle that, we must turn to John.  John 10:30 quotes Jesus saying “I and my Father are one.” John 14:28 quotes Jesus saying “My Father is greater than I.” Here, then, is what Jesus is saying…

I = Father
I < Father

Go on, wrap your head around that. God wants all things to be subdued to God, and that includes the Son of God, who is also God, who therefore is God subdued to God and God subdued by God at the same time and in the same way. To be a Christian is to abandon the logic necessary to explain even to ones-self how to be a Christian. You just gotta believe!

Free Northerner quotes John 13. This is where we learn (John 13:2) that God loved Judas so much that He made a devil that overpowered Judas and caused him to betray Christ. Something to keep in mind when a Christian speaks of our free will ability to choose to be sinful or righteous. All of God’s creatures are free, but some are more free than others. We also learn here (John 13:3-5) that ritual nudity was practiced by the first Christians, another way to be a Christian that was good enough for Christ but not good enough for today’s Christians. Free Northerner doesn’t address any of this, but he does quote the genuinely good bit of advice found in John 13:34 – “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” That’s good advice, but not something a Christian should say or do. Deuteronomy 4:2 forbids new commandments. So does Deuteronomy 12:32. So does Revelation 22:19. Jesus said (Matthew 5:17-19) He came not to destroy the law but to fulfill the law, and that not one jot or tittle was to change. Except the part He changed. Which He could not change. Which He changed. Which… if you want to be a Christian, you just have to live with the knowledge that you can never know how to be a Christian.

Free Northerner quotes John 14:23-24. That is a surgically precise selective quote on how to be a Christian. Not ten verses earlier we learn something a bit more remarkable about Christians. “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:13-14) Wait, anything? Even things Jesus did, and things more amazing than what Jesus did? “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father.” (John 14:12) If all Christians can do everything Jesus did, and more, it isn’t clear why He’s still so special as to say He, alone, is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Jesus is very special and not very special at all, at the same time and in the same way, and you have to believe in both at once to be a Christian. But once you hold both thoughts in your head you’ll have magic powers just like He did. Powers of transubstantiation, levitation, controlling animals, raising the dead, prophecy and most of all damning people to eternal torture. Jesus said to be a Christian is to be better than Christ.

Free Northerner quotes Luke 10:27. That’s another fine verse, in which Christ ignores His own commandment against making new commandments by way of encouraging people to care for their neighbors. And by neighbors, Jesus means strangers as well as the familiar. Jesus says He will enable those who love their neighbors to do so without hindrance just a few verses earlier in Luke 10:19: “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” Yay! Somebody get news to Asia Bibi right away, because the serpents and scorpions are closing in. And a few verses before that, in Luke 10:9, Jesus says again that His followers will have a 1+ healing spell and can cure any sickness just by asking Him. Paging Dr. Christ, paging Dr. Christ, ebola and HIV and my knee hurts when it rains. No? No, my lack of faith must be the thing that holds back Christ from keeping His promise all these hundreds of thousands of years. Let’s just get to the heart of the tenth chapter of Luke, where (Luke 10:23) Jesus makes it plain what it means to be a Christian. “All things are delivered to Me of My Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him.” Get it? You just know, you just have a special feeling in your tummy-tum that the same God that monitors the electron paths of every atom in every molecule in all the physical universe has taken a break and given you the secret of how to be a Christian.

The early Christians were not unaware that Jesus Christ said not once and not twice but thirty times that He would return two thousand years ago. Christians today are also not unaware of these thirty failed prophecies but to bring that up just muddies the waters so shhhh, shush now.  Free Northerner says that the death of Christ on the cross, baptism and the difference / lack of difference between God and Jesus are central to what it means to be a Christian… but that he will not get into them. I say that to be a Christian means anything that anyone says it means. Not being able to explain otherwise aside from ‘you know… be good and stuff… believe the right things, whatever they are… ‘ suggests Free Northerner also thinks to be a Christian means anything that anyone says it means. There’s a multi-thousand year old church (or two), and being a member might be the means to be a Christian. But maybe not. There’s the Bible, and following what the Bible says (here but not there) might be the means to be a Christian. But maybe not. Don’t get all caught up in the details, just make sure that you attend to all the details. To be a Christian is just… you know…

There are men who memorize sports scores.  Other men can recite lengthy sections of dialog from Shakespeare, or Three’s Company. And there are even men who can quote the Torah, or the Bible, or the Quran as if it these books were open before them. I myself know a thing or two about the Bible, and about Shakespeare and Three’s Company and plenty more. What makes me different from some of these men is that I don’t think any of these facts and figures and quotes and chapters and verses are magical spells transcribed from the voice of an invisible monster that lives in the sky. Should that voice that nobody else can hear say he should kill somebody, well, Free Northerner would.  Religions are the creation of men. To be a Christian is to forget that while many things are wonderful, no thing is sacred.

- Trevor Blake is the author of
Confessions of a Failed Egoist and Other Essays
(Baltimore: Underworld Amusements 2014)

Are We There Yet? Gavin McInnes Edition

Are We There Yet? is a series about changed minds.

I was walking through the Fox News building a while ago and a producer introduced me to a young black man by saying, “This is the engineer you’ll be working with tonight.” We shook hands and the engineer said, “I know who you are. Look, I want you to know, I don’t agree with all your beliefs but I respect you for speaking your mind.” I said “Thanks” because we were in a hurry but what I really wanted to say was, “What beliefs? I’m not a Scientologist. I don’t really have ‘beliefs.’ I have opinions based on the information provided. If you have data that contradicts that opinion, well, let’s get busy as a stump-tailed cow in fly time!”

I’d love to change my mind about something. That’s called learning. My views aren’t radical. They’re benign. I just want people to be happy and free and live full lives that are liberated from bullshit. [...]

The only thing I refuse to believe is that anyone should be deprived of the right to have his own opinions. It took a lot of blood and guts to get us to this level of freedom, and shutting down discussions or having an unshakable belief system about politics is downright un-American. The facts don’t change. It’s the teams who change and today’s liberals look a lot like yesterday’s fascists. The villains we assume are out to get us are often just the ones who are brave enough to do what’s right even when it looks wrong. Sometimes good guys don’t wear white.

Read the rest.

Trevor Blake: To Be a Christian

The Alexamenos Graffito.

To be a Christian can be many things. To explain what it means to be a Christian it might be easier to begin by exclusion, casting out what is not Christianity and reducing the subject to a manageable size. For example… Jesus wasn’t an optical illusion. Jesus was not born a man who adopted God-hood when He was baptized. Jesus wasn’t a mindless ghost. Jesus wasn’t a special after-the-fact creation of God. Jesus did not come to Earth to overthrow the God who created the world and replace Him with a new God. None of these claims about Jesus are part of Christianity and they sound strange to us. It is true that these claims were every bit as believed and every bit as popular as any other claim about Jesus in the first few hundred years of the Common Era. But these are the claims of early Christians whose theology did not stand the test of time. Generally they did not stand the test of time because other Christians with other claims suppressed them. To be a Christian might be many things, but it is not these things.

The earliest Christians did not refer to themselves as Catholics, but what call Catholicism today has the earliest claims to Christianity. Among the Catholics are the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Catholics claim a lineage of authority from Jesus Christ to St. Peter and onward to the Popes (plural) of today. Having two (or more) heads to the one body of the Church might seem monstrous, but set that aside for now. Within the Roman Catholic Church alone there are any number of super-numerous anti-popes. Clement VII and Urban VI were both elected as Pope, both by the same college of Cardinals, and both served at the same time. Sometimes there was more than one Pope, and sometimes there was no pope at all. And then there’s that whole international clerical child rape ring business.  To be a Christian might be to be a Catholic, but the authority of that lineage is questionable.

Christianity doesn’t have the market cornered on Christ. Jesus Christ is considered a prophet in the rival religion Islam. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (aka The Mormons) have Jesus making an appearance in North America. Scientology honors Jesus as one of many good teachers. The Raelians describe Jesus as a UFO pilot who is still alive on His home planet. These, too, are ways to be a Christian.

In 1517 the Catholic theologian Martin Luther published Disputatio pro declaratione virtutis indulgentiarum, a criticism of the Roman Catholic Church. While the Roman Catholics claimed divine authority through apostolic succession, Luther said that the Bible was the only divine authority. This brought about the Protestant revolution, and Protestantism is another way of being a Christian. It is not a valid form of argument to criticize a man’s position on one topic by criticizing his position on another topic… but it can be mean-spirited fun. In that spirit, a few words that may reveal something of the character of Luther: “What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews? [Set] fire to their synagogues or schools and [...] bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. [...] I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. [...] I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them. Fourth, I advise that their Rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. [...] I advise that safe conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews.” You get the idea. Martin Luther showed one way to be a Christian.

Jesus Christ did not leave any written records. The Catholic Churches rely on tradition and (ahem) “revelation” rather than the Bible. It is in Protestant theology that reliance on the Bible is the way to be a Christian. When I (and likely you) speak of the Bible, I do not mean the grab-bag of texts put together by Constantine in 322. Nor the pick-a-pack jumble of texts put together by Pope Damasus I in 382. Nor the hodge-podge of texts put together by the Council of Carthage in 418. And I don’t mean the dozens if not hundreds of accounts of Jesus Christ that were excluded from the Bible. No, I (and likely you) mean the canon Bible, the Protestant Bible, perhaps even the King James Only Bible. When divine authority is placed in a book from which nothing can be taken and to which nothing can be added, every jot and tittle has a meaning. All those earlier compilations of Christian texts were wrong, all those excluded Christian texts are wrong, but this time – this time! – just the right Christian texts have been compiled. To millions, following the Bible is the way to be a Christian.

In the Bible, five equals eight and pi is a rational number. In the Bible there are unicorns and dragons that gambol across the surface of a flat earth. In the Bible we are allowed to keep slaves but forbidden to cook a goat in goat’s milk. The bibliodoxy of Protestant Christianity demands that to be a Christian one must believe in all this and more. These are not suggestions for a long-past age, but infallible and eternal commandments from an unerring God to be carried out today. We know these are infallible and eternal commandments because God told us this in the Old Testament (“For I am the Lord, I change not.” – Malachi 3:6) and Jesus told us this in the New Testament (“Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or tittle shall nowise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:18-19).

The Bible makes claims about what is good. If someone advocates a different religion, kill them. If you want to be happy, smash a baby’s head with a rock. If you know someone who is homosexual, kill him. If a woman doesn’t yell loud enough when raped, kill her. If you want to show God how much you love Him, kill your daughter. By one estimate there are between two and twenty-five million put to death by God’s hand or God’s orders in the Bible. God gives us statutes that are not good and judgments whereby we should not live. God hardens our hearts so that we cannot hark to the miracles God sends. God uses His powers of miracles to make it impossible for some of us to convert to Christianity. And when God doesn’t use a miracle, He uses delusions and lies to make sure some people will never worship Him. Why? Because Jesus wants some people to suffer eternal damnation.

Free Northerner is a Christian. Here is FN on what it means to be a Christian.

First, we must remember that God is good and God is good. Good is defined in relation to God, He is the absolute measure of good apart from which good becomes meaningless, so whatever God does or orders is good. To try and judge God or His works is arrogance, nothing more. To try to hold judgment over His commands is error. To try to explain away, minimize, or apologize for His works and His orders is to attack God’s righteousness. To think that God’s commands present a problem is not a problem of God, but rather a deficiency in your own understanding and own morality. – Genocidal Mercy.

The claim is not that murder is okay. The claim is (or in fairness, if this was a criticism of someone else, my claim is) and was specifically ‘Murder is unlawful killing and God’s law is the highest law. If God orders a killing, it is by definition lawful, and is therefore, by definition, not murder.’ [...] If after a period of prayer, fasting, consultation with trusted Christian leaders, and testing the spirits I understood the spirits were those of the Lord I would obey. Depending on the ‘level of wrongness’ (for lack of a better term springing to mind), this period would be longer and more intense. I might also try to bargain with God as per Abraham. – Responses to Genocidal Mercy.

Through fire and sword he whispers His love and His desire for reconciliation. Through temporal discipline, he displays His eternal love for His own. [...] Blessed be the Lord our God. – The Holocaust: God Loves the Jews.

Throughout this essay I have described what Christians have thought and said and done for hundreds of years. Some of this sounds strange to us because they were not the strains of Christianity that came to be dominant. Here then, in plain speech, are the mainstream claims of Christianity. Jesus Christ was the decedent of David, being both the 28th and the 43rd in his line. Three prophecies [one] [two] [three] demand that Jesus be a decedent of David to be the Son of God, although twice [one] [two] the mother of Jesus, Mary, is instead listed as a decedent of Levi. Twice the Bible says Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem at the birth of Christ [one] [two], twice the Bible says Mary and Joseph were in Nazareth [one] [two] twice the Bible says Mary and Joseph were in Galilee [one] [two]. Christ always followed the law, except regarding food, washing His hands, honoring the Sabbath, fasting, adultery, divorce, lying and stealing. Christ told His followers that He would be beheaded. Instead, Christ was crucified. When the women went to Jesus’ tomb it was open and it was closed. After Christ returned from the dead one could not touch Him and one could touch Him. The resurrected Christ stayed on Earth for only one day and also for only eight days and also for over forty days. After this, Christ rose to the Heavens from atop the Mount of Olives and also from Jerusalem and also from Bethany. To be a Christian one must be saved. Faith in Christ is what will save you. Except, of course, that it’s not faith but good works that will save you. Which is to say it’s not good works, it’s God’s grace that will save you. Wait a moment, what I really meant was all men are automatically saved. Strike that, we’re all predestined and nothing will save us. God is one person and also three. God is all-knowing and thus cannot be surprised, thus God does not know what it feels like to be surprised and thus God is not all-knowing. God is everywhere, thus God cannot move from one place to another. God is all-powerful, thus God can hold Himself back, thus God is not all-powerful. God is always just, punishing humanity exactly as humanity deserves, and God is always merciful, punishing humanity less than humanity deserves. And when you can’t find any historical precedent, when you can’t find a verse in the Bible, when you can’t cite tradition, you can always say you have a ‘personal relationship with Christ.’ These are the beliefs required of anyone who wants to be a Christian.

What does it mean to be a Christian? It means what the believer wants it to mean. It’s a self-serve cafeteria faith where the believer is at liberty to select from two thousand years of sometimes compulsory, sometimes forbidden but always contradictory and cruel dictates. Christianity is a Frankenstein’s monster assembled from a grave robber’s bounty. When you think you have absolute truth on your side, all things are justified. The invisible monster that lives in the sky will forgive all.

Trevor Blake and Free Northerner: To Be a Christian

A debate between Trevor Blake of OVO and Free Northerner.

Links:

Schedule:

  1. Introduction.
  2. Trevor Blake: Opening Statement (due within five days of Introduction).
  3. Free Northerner: Opening Statement (due within five days of phase two).
  4. Trevor Blake: Second Statement (due within five days of phase three).
  5. Free Northerner: Second Statement (due within five days of phase four).
  6. Trevor Blake: Closing Statement (due within five days of phase five).
  7. Free Northerner: Closing Statement (due within five days of phase six).
  8. Free Northerner, Trevor Blake and any reader inspired to do so donate to a charitable organization (due same day as Free Northerner’s Closing Statement).

Goal:
In September 2014 Free Northerner (FN) wrote he is trying to work on his rhetoric. Trevor Blake (TB) suggested a debate.

The debate “To Be a Christian” has three goals. First, the debate will improve the rhetorical skills of the participants. The debate itself will test the rhetorical skills of FN and TB. Second, the debate will raise funds for a charitable organization. Both FN and TB have donated to a charitable organization, so that at minimum some concrete good in the world has hopefully occurred because of the debate. Third, the debate may inspire the reading audience. If the reading audience is inspired to profitable reflection, or to likewise donate to a charitable organization, all the better. FN chose the charitable organization, TB chose the topic, and the debate was agreed upon.

The topic is “To Be a Christian.” This debate can include the following… What is required to be a Christian? What is forbidden? What is the result of being a Christian? What is the result of not being a Christian?

Format
The debate is designed to distinguish it from an online disagreement. By agreed-upon time limits and limits of content, FN and TB are spurred to thoughtfulness and boldness and discouraged from laziness or victory by attrition.

There is no word count limit to an individual post. There is no editing of a post is allowed once it has been made. There is no limits to links. There is no limit to consulting any source, including other people. Aside from quotes from the debate itself, the posts should be in our the words of FN and TB. FN and TB will post at their respective sites, each linking to the other as appropriate.

In the closing statements, FN and TB should comment on how the debate might have gone better (longer / shorter time periods, more / fewer quotations, etc.).