U-Haul Memoirs #4

The U-Haul is packed up and we’re somewhere between Grottoes, VA and Greenville, NC. I won’t have time to post for the next few days during the move, so I’ve prepared some posts ahead of time about the lessons I’ve learned during our nine years in VA.

Reflection #4:  Major in the Majors… or You’ll Pay a Major Price

It’s easy to get caught up in the minor details of life.  It’s especially true in church planting.  In the moment, not having anything come through the monitors during a sound check seems like a big deal.  It isn’t.  Not being able to play a video that clearly hammers home your main point in your message (and you only have time for one point… not six, not three, not two… but that’s for another post) seems like a big deal.  It isn’t.  When the security guard shows up 45 minutes late to unlock the building you’re renting, it really puts the crunch on your set-up time.  Guess what, chicken butt?  It’s not a big deal.

Telling people they need to spend regular time with God when you haven’t cracked the Bible for yourself in three months is a big deal.

Telling people to pray when you haven’t spent more than 45 seconds a day praying (and that was for your food) is a big deal.

Neglecting your children and your spouse because of “church work” is a REALLY big deal.

I’ve gone through all of these things.  I’ve had to work really hard to take time with God regularly (it still isn’t where I want it to be).  I learned a long time ago that what doesn’t get done by 5:00 PM will still be there tomorrow.  Have their been times when I’ve had to put in extra hours during the day and had super crazy weeks?  Sure.  But they aren’t normal.  They are the exception.  As I get used to a new routine, I’m going to have to make even more adjustments to make sure that my priorities stay in the right order.

My priorities are this:

  1. My relationship with Jesus.
  2. My relationship with my wife.
  3. My relationship with my kids.
  4. My church.
  5. My job.

#4 and 5 used to be one and the same.  They no longer are (even though I see my job as an extension of my church).  Do not assume that if you get #1 right, the rest will just fall into place.  A lot of guys spend loads of time in the Bible and in prayer, but their marriages are suffering because the church comes first (and thus, their relationship with God really isn’t the priority).  Each takes work, and it takes work to keep them in order.

Would you step down from your position in your church if your spouse asked you to?  Would you get out of professional ministry if your spouse asked you to?  That was how God first put the bug in my ear that we were supposed to move to Greenville–my wife essentially asked me to replace myself and move (it had nothing to do with the church or my job, but in asking me to move, she asked me to do these thing).  I resisted for a few minutes, but the Spirit moved and I soon realized what was up–I was to move our family to Greenville, NC, get out of “professional ministry”, and tentmake while starting a new network of microchurches.  And I’m completely cool with that. 

Too many guys are paying a major price by majoring in minor things.  We must work hard to make sure our priorities are truly in place, or we’ll start majoring in the minors… and paying a heavy price.

Have you majored in the minors?  What did you learn from the experience?

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About Aaron

Aaron is a follower of Jesus. He's married to his smokin' hot wife Laura and is the father of three adorable girls. He enjoys a robust cigar, a complex root beer, a good movie, writing, football, thought-provoking books, and rousing discussions about subjects you're not supposed to talk about (like theology and politics). Religious people irritate him (because he once was one). He's on a quest to find the perfect dry rub and sauce for ribs.
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21 Responses to U-Haul Memoirs #4

  1. Doug Talley says:

    Good stuff Aaron!

  2. Larry says:

    Aaron, this is in no way meant to be “combative”, but it has always intrigued and baffled me as to how a belief that is taken solely by faith alone (since it cant be taken on evidence), that cant be proven or seen can have priority over things that can be proven and seen (like wives, children, etc..) This is why Im agnostic. Im simply honest with myself. Christians arent honest with themselves because if they were, they’d be agnostic too. To live a life treating something as though it is there when in reality there is no evidence of it there or have ever being there is very very dangerous to me. Its almost a Manson-esque lunacy. He believed he is Christ—-who’s to say he’s wrong? Since there is no way to prove the real Christ lived (or prove the Bible for that matter), how can we say someone is NOT a person that cant be proved? There is a film out called “The God Who Wasnt There” which is not a bad film. It was made by a guy who used to be a Christian and I think he’s now an athiest (not even agnostic) and not only does he cover things in the film like the fact that the Jesus story (resurrection, virgin birth, 12 disciples, etc…) are actually carbon copies of the characteristics of gods that predated Christianity by 600–1300 years, but he goes back to his old school at the end of the film (where he became a Christian) and talks to the principal of the school and completely annihilates him with logic—to the point where the Principal wants to “talk to him off camera” and when the guy refuses, the Principal ends the interview because the Principal claims the guy ambushed him. The Principal said to the guy “you said you was going to talk to me about the childrens education” (which he did), not this stuff. My question is this: If the Bible is true and the truth was on the side of the Principal of the school, what did it matter even if the guy DID ambush him? Wouldnt the Principal be able to answer any question put to him even if he felt he was being ambushed? I would think SO. The Principal obviously ended the interview because he wasnt making any sense and he was contradicting himself. You should watch it. Its on google video.

    • Aaron says:

      Hey Larry,

      I’m on the latter end of the out-of-state move (as this series of posts hints at), so there’s stuff all over our new place, so this won’t be as thorough as I (or you) would like (hopefully I’ll be able to revisit it soon). We obviously disagree on what evidence is. For example, everyone believes that Socrates existed, but we have no actual evidence of it–only what Plato said about him (I think I have the right guys there–I’m going off of memory). Nothing that he wrote, only what one of his well-known students wrote… and we only have a few surviving copies of that, the earliest being at least 1,000 years after he wrote it. Jesus is well attested, both in the Bible and outside the Bible in secular sources (Josephus, Tacitus, etc.), and most of these guys had no reason to be pro-Jesus. There’s way more evidence for Jesus’ existence that Socrates… yet Jesus gets hammered.

      Like I’ve stated elsewhere, faith isn’t incompatible with reason. Christianity presents a reasonable faith. I don’t buy into some of the things you mention–the so-called “carbon copies” (but we’ve already gotten into that in the past).

      Here’s my thing about agnosticism. Agnostics claim they cannot know if there is a God (whatever god that may be). So… they live like one does not exist. I’m not saying that all agnostics are sex-crazed drug users (many that I know aren’t anything like that–they care about humanity and want to see good in the world). Why don’t agnostics live like their might be a god or higher power (I have yet to meet one who does).

      Lastly… why does it matter? I’m not using this as an argument against agnosticism or atheism, it’s just simply a statement of a conclusion I’ve come to as I’ve thought through the positions of atheism and agnosticism. If god does not exist, or if we can’t be sure if a god exists, then why does it all matter? Why should we spend time helping the poor, or working for peace in war-torn regions, or working so hard to try to convice people of faith to give it up, or espousing arguments about 9/11? If we’re truly all alone, if we’re all there is in this big, dark universe, why does it matter? Honestly, it doesn’t matter at all. If we’re something puked up by the universe, the result of random chance, then nothing matters at all. Eat, drink, and be merry (and even that doesn’t matter). If it is simply a matter of surviving… big deal. It still doesn’t matter. If (like at the end of The Matrix Revolutions when Neo responds to Agent Smith’s question as to why he continues to fight) all that matters is that we choose to matter… it still… doesn’t… matter. In 100 years, we’ll all be gone, and there’ll be all new people, and 99%+ of us will be totally forgotten, not even fit for the footnotes of history.

      That’s all I’ve got time for for right now. Feel free to respond, and as always, keep it clean with no hits below the belt.

  3. Larry says:

    Let me respond to your question about ‘why do things matter?’ by asking you one: Let’s say God does not exist at all. Lets say we now have absolute certainty God does not exist and its not debatable. With no God at all in the picture, would you still hack up your own family or shoot up a K-Mart? Im assuming (and hoping), even in my ‘no God’ scenario, your answer is still “no”. And if “no”, then, why? Why wouldnt you do those things? My answer, as to why I AM not doing those things even in my agnostic mind, is that they are not humane. Are you suggesting that it takes the existence of a god or a higher power in order for people to be humane to others?

    What I find interesting in your post is how you imply that those who believe in God are the only ones who act as if life on this earth matters because there is some kind of afterlife, while those who are athiest or agnostic live in greater sin because they live as if nothing matters because they either believe there is no afterlife or not sure there is one. The reason why this is so baffling is because how many horrible crimes against humanity do you hear about in the news committed by athiests or agnostics? The answer is NOT MANY. Not even close to the crimes committed by religious people. Rapes, child molestation, shootings, people beat to death, child porn—the list goes on and on—-committed by religious people–many of these cases very recent.

    I did a story about this on my blog a few weeks ago after that female sunday school teacher killed an 8 year old girl and stuffed her body in a suitcase. The womans grandfather was even a minister. I know what youre thinking….these are freak examples…1 in a million, right? If religion was so powerful, woul there even be ONE crime committed by any religious people? The bottom line is, religion doesnt change anyone. People change themselves. What makes me (an agnostic) NOT murder an 8 year old girl and a sunday school teacher (who taught God is there and real) to do it? What makes a President (Bush) claim that “God told him to attack Iraq” in order to murder over 1 million Iraqi citizens and close to 5,000 troops (and yes, it IS murder as prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi says quite clearly)? What makes the “religious” support war so much…even illegal war? What makes the “religious” (Bush and his adminsitration) torture people, despite the fact that the Convention Against Torture treaty was signed by the U.S. agreeing we would NOT torture? Why do the “religious” love death, destruction, torture and crimes against humanity more than the athiests and agnostics?

    There isnt just one or two examples of this Aaron. I could think of many many more. What makes Pat Roberston say terroristic things like wanting the State Department nuked, and people like me (an agnostic) NOT say that? Heres the link:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_Robertson_controversies#Political_statements

    Religion doesnt change anyone. People who do good things in the name of religion would have been good people anyway, its just that they claim they are now doing it for a cause. ‘Religious’ people who molest kids, rape people and go on shooting sprees are people who ‘tried’ religion and may have wanted to be religious, but it didnt work because they are just inhumane, corrupt people.

    By the way, I dont live like no god exists. I live like I dont know if God exists—and guess what, you dont know either, because if you KNEW, faith would be a pointless exercise. Faith and certainty are complete opposites—-that’s not refutable.

    Dont forget to answer the question I asked at the start of my post.

    • Aaron says:

      Hey Larry,

      Your original question about faith not really existing or taking faith or tangible things…

      Many define faith as belief in something or someone without or in spite of other evidence. That’s not biblical faith. Biblical faith is based on revelation from God, and is always accompanied by action. Hebrews 11 illustrates this point very well.

      I take the Bible as revelation from God, specifically about Jesus (who the Bible says is also revelation from God). My faith is based on that revelation from God. You, being agnostic, and thus likely believing that there is no revelation from any god, are left with nothing but reason and looking for 100% testable, provable, visible, tangible evidence. Since God can’t be tested in a lab, then we must assume that we can’t know for sure He’s really around. Not buying it at all.

      I’m also not going to argue about religious people doing crazy, evil things… because it has happened and continues to happen. Sin is deeply rooted (a great majority of Christians, especially in America, take it way too lightly), and religion isn’t a “poof” cure. That’s what the process of sanctification (becoming holy–putting off sin) is all about… and its a life-long process. The Bible tells us that Christians aren’t zapped by God and made perfect. They are given new natures to battle with sin–and there will be failures… but that’s what the grace of God through Jesus is all about (but, being a former believer, you know this already).

      Yes, we hear about many people who do evil things in the name of their religion. But history is also stained with massive atrocities committed by atheists (some, like Hitler, who used religion to advance their causes, but who had no personal belief themselves). Guys like Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot (just to name a few) killed millions upon millions of people. Yes, people have done evil things in the name of religion, but so have people with no belief in a god.

      Finally, I’m not saying that people with no belief automatically become sex-crazed, drunken, serial killers. Again, I know several atheists/agnostics that are moral people. I do, however, think that if God did not exist (and we still did) that our world would be a much more violent place than it is now (but I don’t think we’d really know it). Part of being created in the image of God is having a general sense of right and wrong–which can be dulled and even “killed” through sin. I do think the existence of God is needed for there to be a real standard of right and wrong. The argument that humans and societies have chosen what is right and wrong because it is best for survival (I’ve heard this from several sources, but the actual sources escape me right now), or Neitzche’s Superman concept just don’t fly with me. What if the best thing for our world is for mankind to be destroyed (if you believe half the stuff that is said about global warming, etc., you might be tempted to think that)?

      In the end, the whole “does it matter” question really is, to me, very relevant. If we’re simply something the universe puked up by chance, it honestly doesn’t matter if we chose to shoot up a K-mart or live at peace with people. Neither are right and wrong. Neither really matter. The ability to choose is hardly something to find meaning in. I, like you, don’t buy into the “well, lets all sleep with each other, stay drunk 24/7, and blow up stuff if God really doesn’t exist” argument. Some choose to do so. Many do not. In the end… it really doesn’t matter. We’re just… goo.

      But, as you know, I believe we’re far more than goo.

  4. Larry says:

    Aaron, you really didnt directly address several key areas I eluded to in my previous post. Your post (above) was just an extension of your own previous post while touching very briefly on things I said. Let me just point out right off the bat that Hitler was NOT an athiest. He had distorted views of orthodox Christianity and other religions but overall he tolerated many different religious views. Many members of his cabinet were atheists, but theres no evidence Hitler was one. Was he a Christian? Well, obviously not. He had many different views on many religions, but in many of his quotes recognized a creator—–maybe a distorted, insane creator, but even a belief in a crazed creator is not atheism. Read this article:

    http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=library&page=murphy_19_2

    You didnt answer my question I asked at the very beginning of my post and even after I reminded you to not forget to answer it, you still didnt. Intentional avoidance or ??? Aaron, you can spin and twist terminology all you want about what “Biblical” faith is, but it all boils down to you NOT KNOWING FOR SURE. (not yelling…emphasizing) You are an agnostic, because you cant KNOW if God is there, nor can you prove it…..that’s agnosticism! You are using circular reasoning to attempt to prove God to me when you said:

    “Biblical faith is based on revelation from God, and is always accompanied by action. Hebrews 11 illustrates this point very well.”

    If I dont believe the Bible is true and I think its just an astrotheological literary hybrid of hundreds of stories of ancient gods that predated Christianity by hundreds/thousands of years morphed into the supposed “new” story of Christ, then how would you convince me anything in it was true? Why do Christians use the Bible to prove the Bible? I could write a book called “God is a Giant Frog” and write 200 pages on why I believe God is a big green frog and when someone tells me Im insane for believing that—would it make sense for me to say “Of course God is a frog, it says right here on page 126 (of my book) that he is”. That would be insanity. That’s the same insanity Christians display by saying the Bible is true because the Bible says it is.

    You also said:

    “Sin is deeply rooted (a great majority of Christians, especially in America, take it way too lightly), and religion isn’t a “poof” cure. That’s what the process of sanctification (becoming holy–putting off sin) is all about… and its a life-long process. The Bible tells us that Christians aren’t zapped by God and made perfect. They are given new natures to battle with sin–and there will be failures..”

    So, in other words. If a believer is living a near-perfect Christian life…then God is great and gets credit for being so powerful in that person’s life—BUT if a believer is struggling and is showing many signs of their “old man”, then it’s a “process” and God “is working” in them? In other words, God never gets discredited, does he? It’s always the devils fault when bad things happen or when nothing happens at all, but when good things happen, then all praise to God, right?

    It must be a wonderful thing to be God. All powerful, can defeat the devil ANYTIME he chooses, can put an end to evil ANYTIME he chooses, can show himself physically ANYTIME he chooses, can rid the world of evil, death, sin, destruction, murder, war, natural disasters, horrible atrocities done to innocent children and evil people ANYTIME he wants—but if he chooses NOT to ever do any of that—it’s A-OK…he’s God—–we dont question him, he’s all powerful. We are supposed to continually praise him for all the good things we have. BUT, if evil takes place, it’s the devil’s fault—HE’s the culprit—blame the devil–he’s the evil one—despite the fact that he’s supposedly not ALL powerful—God is, yet the devil still wins over and over and over and over and over. Why doesnt God just extinguish the devil in 2 seconds? Ahhhh, that’s right…..he will…in his own time.

    You can believe these fairy tales all you want, but the day I start believing them (again) I will commit myself to the nut farm. Oh and by the way, Global Warming is a big hoax—-dont believe one word of it. Its all a hoax in order to create a new global carbon tax. Isnt it scary how Global Warming is just accepted as if it’s established proven fact and any opposition to it is met with persecution, ridicule and names like “nutball” and “kook”? Yet the founder of the Weather Channel, John Coleman says its a big hoax too. I know two other big things that are just accepted as unchallenged fact and any opposition is met with ridicule and ad hominem attacks———–the official 9-11 account and …..the Bible. Scary huh?

    Hope you answer the question I asked at the beginning of my previous post.

    • Aaron says:

      Hey Larry,

      I stand by what I said in previous posts. For some reason, atheists/agnostics demand that Christians abandon revelation and “prove” the existence of God in a tangible, so-called rational way with 100% proof. I’ve never thought that Scripture would convince you of anything–you’ve rejected it. That’s abundantly clear. I do think God has left us with clues (I call it evidence) of his existence. I simply referenced it because it summarizes my belief/worldview. I look around all the time at nature (the same stuff that Darwinists look at), see its complexity, and conclude that someone really smart and really powerful designed it. Can I conclude its the God of the Bible? No–just something or someone really smart or powerful designed it. I’m guessing you reject the argument for a designer from nature’s complexity–that’s fine. Whatever. The point is that without what the smart dudes call special revelation (the Bible, Jesus), all I would conclude is that there’s someone much bigger than me and much smarter and more powerful than me. Scripture, however, shows me who that big someone is. You’ve rejected it. Fine. That’s your choice… and, to me, the crux of this discussion.

      God could have, if he wanted to, chose to create this universe in such a way that it would show, undeniably, that he exists. Instead, he chose to leave us hints. He gave us the ability to choose. Many choose to reject those clues. Some accept them. The problem of suffering is complex and deep. I don’t deny that at all. But it doesn’t throw me like it has thrown you. Do I know everything about why God allows these things? Of course not. Do I know with 100% certainty that God exists? No (you might want to read that again). However, based on the evidence–nature, Scripture, the historical records of the Bible about Jesus (and those outside the Bible), combined with Jesus’ resurrection (and I’m a sceptic–dudes who’ve been brutally executed and who’ve been dead for days don’t come back to life… but Jesus did), among a few other things, have lead me to conclude that God indeed does exist, and thus I have faith in him. It’s far from this so-called agnosticism you claim I (and every other Christian) has. Is my faith based on what I hope for and what I can’t see? Yes. But it is reasonable. You’ve chosen to take another route. God allows people to do that. It pains him greatly, but it’s the only way for people to truly choose to love him.

      I’m sure you’ll have some things to say about this post, so go to it. I’ve gotta check out until Monday. Hope you have a good weekend.

  5. Larry says:

    Aaron—this is why it is hard to have debates/discussions with religious people. They purposely AVOID answering questions. I asked a question two posts ago and even reminded you at the end of that post and even in the last one, and you STILL ignored it! Good grief. After ignoring it once, it can be passed off as accidetal, but twice? Gotta be intentional avoidance. Here’s the question again incase you ‘forgot’.:

    “Are you suggesting that it takes the existence of a god or a higher power in order for people to be humane to others?”

    I really hope you can somehow muster an answer for that. I wont ask it or address it after this, because ignoring it a third time will be bold-faced proof that you do NOT want to answer the question. Anyway, to address some things you said:

    First of all, I have never, ever said to you, or to Willis or anyone that I have a problem with having faith in God. As long as it ended there. But with most religious people, it does NOT end there. They go out and “witness” to people to get them to join them and even tell others that God is real and he exists and that they KNOW he does, like you did in your post above. That’s what I have issue with. Youre lying to yourself, you DONT know he exists, and even if you really found a way to KNOW, you still dont KNOW it’s the same exact God of the Bible.

    I have no problem with the concept of a creator. In fact, it makes more sense that this planet/universe was created than if it just appeared one day from nothing—-but there’s no evidence that God has been around since then. Scripture does not “prove” God’s existence or Jesus’ existence anymore than if I had lived in the year 35 A.D. and wrote stories about a man named Jesus who may have been around a few years prior.

    You said: “Scripture, however, shows me who that big someone is.” There you go again, using circular reasoning. Trying to prove the Bible’s validity using the Bible itself. Do you ignore reading giant chunks of my posts? You’ve done that on several occasions now—repeated saying things that I criticize.

    You said this: “God could have, if he wanted to, chose to create this universe in such a way that it would show, undeniably, that he exists. Instead, he chose to leave us hints.” OK, so let me get this straight Aaron. God chooses NOT to let us all know that he undeniably exists, but instead leaves us “hints”. But (without this evidence) if we choose to reject his existence, based on the whole “no evidence” thing, we get eternally condemned to HELL?? He leaves us HINTS that he exists without actually showing us plainly he’s there and if we reject that, we BURN FOREVER? And you call that a God of love? You’re joking right? Please tell me you’re kidding. I cant even imagine the devil doing something as cruel as that.

    Im glad you brought up the issue of mankind “choosing” to accept God’s existence, because that is another very interesting topic. The Bible teaches that God gave us free will right? Im guessing you believe that, because that is what I was always taught as well. OK, if we have free will, then why (if we do NOT choose God or the Bible) do we get punished eternally for NOT choosing God? How would it be considered “free will” if there is a consequence for one decision we make and reward for the other?? To me, that’s no different than saying you really only have ONE choice, because who would choose to be in hell forever? No one. So, really, it’s no choice, thus NO free will. Dont write back to me and give me an analogy using the “You give your kids choices, they choose bad they get punished/they choose good they get rewarded” crap, because that is not how I run things with my child. My child has no free will under my roof. My house is not a democracy, it’s a dictatorship. My child only has one choice—do good, that’s it.

    You also said this: “You’ve chosen to take another route. God allows people to do that. It pains him greatly, but it’s the only way for people to truly choose to love him.” It pains him? Really? The why doesnt he show us all he exists? Showing mankind his existence would not destroy mankind’s faith. Arent there many stories in the Bible when people physically SAW God and still rejected him? My point is proven. God showing up and saying “here I am” would not shatter faith or make faith invalid—even if it did, God can change the rules, cant he? He would still know who REALLY has faith and who doesnt.

    Just wanted to leave you with a contradiction in your post. You said this: “Do I know with 100% certainty that God exists? No…” Then you said: “However, based on the evidence–nature, Scripture, the historical records of the Bible about Jesus (and those outside the Bible), combined with Jesus’ resurrection (and I’m a sceptic–dudes who’ve been brutally executed and who’ve been dead for days don’t come back to life… but Jesus did), among a few other things, have lead me to conclude that God indeed does exist”.

    You cant say in one sentence “No, I dont have 100% certainty” and then in the next say, “…God indeed does exist”. They are complete opposites. Cant you see that? You can say you have FAITH he exists based on the things you listed all year long and that would be valid, but that is NOT what you said. You said “Im not 100% sure” then said “Im sure”. Complete contradiction. In my opinion, the only way you can be sure is if it was 100%—-anything less than that is not completely sure.

    I firmly believe that it takes a very cruel god to punish a person who is desperately seeking the 100%, irrefutable, unequivocal TRUTH about whether he exists or not if that person concludes that he has NOT found the 100% truth about him. God knows the heart right? How can God toss someone in the fiery lake FOREVER if they were being 100% honest with themselves and concluding that there is no unequivocal evidence that his book “The Bible” is true or not?

    Especially when you take into account the hundreds of other gods who were written about hundreds/thousands of years BEFORE Christ who have the EXACT same Jesus story? Are you telling me that was the devil’s doing? The devil made sure that Mithra, Horus, Dionysius and a score of other gods had the EXACT same characteristics of Christ 600—1300 years BEFORE Christianity and the devil had the power to get God to have his own son born with the EXACT SAME story and characteristics as the other ancient gods?? God and the devil teamed up as part of a big conspiracy so that the REAL God could see how many people would still believe in the Jesus story even after it was a carbon copy of hundreds of other ancient gods? Wow! What immense love God has for us that he would play such a game with the souls of those who he claims he loves!! That’s giving the devil ALOT of power and limiting God’s power immensely! I tell you one thing Aaron….you must have ALOT of faith because believing in all this requires it!

    • Aaron says:

      Hey Larry,

      I got off work a little early, so I’ve got a little time.

      First, my apologies. I thought you meant something in your first comment (namely the faith issue). I read it wrong. My bad. So, sorry to burst your bubble, but I’m not dodging anything at all. So here’s your question:

      “Are you suggesting that it takes the existence of a god or a higher power in order for people to be humane to others?”

      No. Plenty of people reject God’s existence or claim to not know, and are what you and I both would consider to be moral. But I do think, based on what the Bible says (it’s the basis of my worldview… can’t help it… gonna refer to it) about humans being created in the image of God, I do think there would be far fewer people being “humane” to others if God did not exist. My worldview says that mankind knows what “humane” is because God wired them that way, but He did not make us robots. We’ve all chosen sin over obedience, which corrupts our nature. In God’s view, all people are sinful and deserving of His judgment. From our point of view, some people are more evil than others (that’s a topic for another post).

      However, if God did not exist, then people wouldn’t be created in His image, and thus not have an ingrained sense of what is humane. Would some people choose to do “good” over “evil”? Probably. But I think we’d be much more… carnal, animalistic, choose whatever adjective you like. Being created in the image of God has allowed us to define, rather broadly (with some disagreement from some individuals and groups), what “humane” is. Without that, humane may be survival of the fittest, no matter what the cost–Hitler trying to create a master race may have been considered humane without God’s existence (by the way, I don’t believe Hitler was humane at all–just an example).

      What I am suggesting is that the reason you and I define “humane” in very similar terms is that God created us that way, but with the ability to choose to override that wiring.

      There’s my answer to your question. I can’t get to any more of your ever-lengthening comments right now because of time (the hell issue is an interesting one). Will have to wait until Monday.

  6. Larry says:

    I only had time now to read your recent post. I have to run as well. Since you cant reply until Monday, I wont bring up anything new. Im too interested in hearing your thoughts on my last post. Whether we agree or disagree, it’s a good mental exercise discussing this with you. At least you dont cower and run like Dave Willis does. Believe it or not, I am not trying to be a thorn in your side or be combative–although it may appear that way sometimes. I am simply trying to have an intelligent exchange of opinions. I’ve heard just about 90% of what you say all before, but it’s still good mental exercise. I would love to actually have an open debate with someone sometime like we’re doing here. I am not really seeking answers as much as Im convinced there are no answers. See ya Monday.

    • Aaron says:

      Hey Larry,

      That’s totally cool–and I appreciate this reply. It is a good mental exercise. See you next week.

  7. Larry says:

    Thought you wasnt coming back on til Monday? You posted something new—why couldnt you address my May 8, 1:41pm post?

    • Aaron says:

      In due time, buddy. My weekend post (and if you look back, you see that I rarely post on weekends) was something brand new I’ve started that may become habit. Doesn’t mean I’ll be responding to comments all weekend. I’ve got other things to do other than that.

      As to that post, I’ll go one issue at a time (as that’s all I’ve got time for in the AM). I’ll start at the end of the post, about the so-called contradiction you pointed out. I’m really not seeing that as a contradiction. My wording wasn’t “I’m 100% positive that God exists.” Maybe I should have added “reasonably sure.” Yet, for me that’s not strong enough. No one can have absolute, 100% certainty about anything. But, to me, that doesn’t mean we have to toss out absolutely everything or just walk around in a state of total confusion. It is certainly a possiblity that God doesn’t exist. But based on what we have–namely, for me, the resurrection of Jesus as recorded in history–I have to conclude with reasonable certainty (I would stick it in the 99.99% realm) that God does indeed exist. Not 100%, but it sure is close. And that, in no way shape or form, is agnosticism.

      The resurrection is also the reason I reject every other religion in the world. And, as we’ve gone over before, I don’t buy into these so-called carbon copies that you talk about. I’ve looked them up. I’ve researched them. There are hard-core atheists who reject those so-called parallels. The comparisons are way over-blown and exaggerated. But I won’t go into it again. Feel free to dig through our last discussion and find the site I gave you (Joyce Meyer ads or not…).

      So, I don’t see the contradiction between saying we can’t know with 100% certainty and saying that I’m reasonably sure based on the evidence.

      OK. That’s it for today. Tomorrow, I’ll look at the hell issue. You might find my views on hell interesting. Have a good Monday.

  8. Larry says:

    Ill be waiting on the hell response. You have to pick your words very carefully with me Aaron. I am very particular about specific language used because I am also an analytical thinker—which is the whole reason I reject alot of the Bible. Agnosticism deals mainly with knowledge whereas theism deals with belief. This is why when certain people like to lump agnostics with athiests, it is incorrect because atheism deals with belief as well, not knowledge. In my opinion, it is silly to change ones entire life around a BELIEF, because a belief could be wrong. It is OK to have a belief, but to change ones life, throw away old records, books, disassociate with certain people, do all the biblical rituals and make this huge committment over simply a BELIEF? That’s very extreme. Why would a god play games with people’s souls and say “you must have FAITH in me to enter heaven”——isnt having the KNOWLEDGE that he exists and THEN changing your life to live the way he wants ENOUGH? Apparently not.

    • Aaron says:

      Hey Larry,

      First, I saw “The Wrestler” last night. Really good film (and definitely not one for the kids). Mickey Rourke was definitely robbed.

      Second, you’re correct–living out faith is extreme. That’s the problem with many Christians (in my opinion)–they don’t live out their belief. The only thing that changes in their life is what they do for 90 minutes on a Sunday. I do disagree with your division of faith/belief and knowledge, but I understand your position. The Bible speaks a lot about knowledge and growing in knowledge, specifically of Jesus (I’m reading through the letter to the Colossians now, which deals a lot with this subject).

      Now, as to the issue of hell. I no longer believe in the predominately accepted doctrine of hell–that hell is a place that God uses fire and brimstone to torture people forever like a kid tortures ants with a magnifying glass on a sunny day just because he gets a kick out of it. This fire/brimstone view may be correct, but as I’ve looked and studied it, I no longer think it is.

      A lot of folks insist that Christians must read all of the Bible either literally or figuratively. That’s not the case–it must be read either literally or figuratively, depending on the type of literature you’re reading. I do not deny that there are some sections of Scripture that are tougher to decide if their literal or figurative. There are some tough sections in that book. But when I look at what the Bible says about hell, I think much of what is said is more figurative than literally.

      You may already be familiar with this, but I’ll quickly spell it out anyway (just in case). A great deal of the imagery for hell comes from a location outside of Jerusalem called the Hinnom Valley, specifically a place called Topheth. Topheth is mentioned most often in the OT book of Jeremiah. At Topheth, children were placed into a scalding hot oven and burned to death as sacrifice to the pagan gods of Canaan. The Israelites had fallen into this practice, and it was one of the reasons for the Babylonian captivity. After Topheth was destroyed, the valley it was located in–the Valley of Hinnom–became the trash dump of Jerusalem. Human waste, the carcasses of animal sacrifices, and city trash were all dumped here. It burned continually. As you can imagine, it smelled awful. This is the image Jesus used when he spoke of hell (the word being derived from the word for the valley of Hinnom).

      As I read Jesus’ statements on hell, they read more figuratively than literally. Hell will be like an eternal fire. It will be like torture. Literal fire? I don’t think so… but here is what I have concluded about hell based on what I’ve studied from Scripture.

      First, I do still believe that hell is a real place. It is a place God has created specifically for Satan and his demons. It will also be the eternal place for those who have rejected Him and rejected Jesus.

      Second, it will be an existence completely separate from God. This is the essense of hell–being completely cut off from God. I do not think our present existence is cut off from God. But in hell, those who are there will be completely cut off from him, and they will realize how bad this truly is. It will be like fire. It will be like torture. It will be an eternity filled with regrets, what-ifs, and even self-delusion. It is a place where God essentially says, “If you want to live without me, you get your wish.” And, for eternity, those who are in hell will forever regret their decision to live without God. To me, that’s much more horrifying than burning forever. Is it still judgment? Certainly. Is it still pain? Yes, but maybe not in the form that we’ve associated hell with. I think it will be worse. Hell–the trash dump of the universe.

      That’s my current belief on hell (it could be wrong, and I could change).

      You can find a more detailed explanation of this view in “The Reason for God” by Tim Kellar.

      Alright. Gotta run off to work.

  9. Larry says:

    Aaron, Aaron, Aaron—first of all, let me say that I DO appreciate your responses. But I MUST start off by replying to you saying this:

    “This fire/brimstone view may be correct, but as I’ve looked and studied it, I no longer think it is.”

    To me, that is ABSURD. How can you study something that you have to be DEAD in order to prove? How can you STUDY the afterlife (heaven or hell)?? ABSURD!

    You said this:

    “…hell is a real place. It is a place God has created specifically for Satan and his demons. It will also be the eternal place for those who have rejected Him and rejected Jesus.”

    I reject this belief. Who’s to say whose religion is right and whose is wrong? If religions are all based on BELIEF and not KNOWLEGDE, that anyone in any particular religion cannot KNOW their religion is the one true one…you can only BELIEVE it is, therefore, you cannot go around witnessing to people, sharing your faith with others and telling them that you KNOW Jesus is the path to the one true religion. Where am I wrong on that?

    You also said this:

    “But in hell, those who are there will be completely cut off from him, and they will realize how bad this truly is. It will be like fire. It will be like torture. It will be an eternity filled with regrets, what-ifs, and even self-delusion. It is a place where God essentially says, “If you want to live without me, you get your wish.” And, for eternity, those who are in hell will forever regret their decision to live without God.”

    I’ve always believed that Hell is more of a seperation than a “fire” thing, IF there is a hell at all. My issue with your statement here is when you say that God says, “If you WANT to live without me, you get your wish”. I cannot speak for all agnostics, but for me personally, it’s not about WANTING to live without God, it’s about having NO clue if he’s even there and there being no proof of it. How can I live WITH him if I dont know he’s there? How can you believe in a god who DEMANDS his creation to accept something without proof or evidence? I cant believe in a god who requires people to be willfully robotic and simply just accept everything that is spoon fed to them without any dissent, any questions, any rational thought, any doubts, etc..

    Christians often claim that THEY are the ones who are truly humble because they have confessed to god their sins and have realized that there is something much greater than them. I disagree with that. Who’s more humble than those who DOUBT? Doubt basically says “I dont know”. How can you be any more humble than that? Christians who claim they are SURE that there is a god are NOT being humble. They are being very arrogant. They love to feel like THEY know the REAL truth and everyone else are just shameful, sinful pagans who are going to hell in a handbasket because THEY (those sinful heathens) have not accepted what WE (the Christians) have accepted!

    You said those in hell have made a “decision to live without God”. To me, that is an arrogant statement. I have NOT made a “decision to live without God”, my decision was refusing to believe in something I cannot see or prove the existence of—and I have a VERY HARD TIME believing that an all loving and merciful God would DEMAND that people accept his existence based on NO EVIDENCE and that people should accept the words of 40 different authors of one book when there is NO evidence whatsoever that ANY of these people were writing about real events. The apostle Paul only talks about THREE specific events in Jesus’ life. His death, resurrection and his coming again (which hasnt happened so you can really only say its TWO events). Every other event in Jesus’ life, his birth, miracles, etc… Paul doesnt SPECIFICALLY talk about. They are only mentioned in a general sense as if he was just writing about Jesus based on old wives tales.

    What does divine inspiration mean anyway? Does it mean these Bible writers didnt have brains of their own and they just sat and wrote stuff down as they were being completely controlled by outside forces? Why did God need PEOPLE to write things down anyway? He can create the galaxies, the planets and the sun but when it came to words being jotted down, he needed our help? You REALLY believe this stuff? You ARE smarter than this arent you? God created the SUN but he couldnt guide a writing instrument without the help of a human hand? How did Noah build the ark? How did he cut wood without saws? How did the wood stay in place without nails? Can you explain this???? Why did it take 120 years? Why didnt God just provide a giant pile of wood? Better yet, why didnt God provide an already intact ark???? I would believe in the Easter bunny before I believed in this crap!

    • Aaron says:

      Hey Larry,

      Tell me how you really feel 😉

      Looks like we’re starting to go in circles, because everything is coming back to your belief and knowledge thing (which doesn’t surprise me). We’re both looking at the same stuff–nature, creation, the Bible, etc. I’ve concluded it is evidence for the existence of God, and thus I’ve chosen to live my life based on my faith. You call it extreme. I agree. I wish more people were this kind of extreme. You, looking at the same stuff, have decided to reject it. The Bible talks about those who have deluded themselves, and that every person is without excuse for having faith in God (but you know this already… if “know” is the right word).

      My system for belief is revelation in the form of the Bible, and I’ve accepted it as so. You’ve decided not to (and God didn’t need human authors–that’s simply how He chose to communicate with us… but I’ll get to your “divine inspiration” thing tomorrow). In my view, that revelation provides us with specific knowledge about God, the purpose for life, the afterlife, etc. You’ve decided not to accept it.

      You say that those who have faith in Jesus are arrogant. I would make the same statement about you (just based on our digital comment exchange–I’ve never met you in person). “Who’s more humble than those who DOUBT?” is just as arrogant a statement. You can’t claim humility and be humble. It’s like saying, “I’m the most humble person I know.”

      I think we’re just going to keep going ’round and ’round on this… but tomorrow I’ll address your last paragraph. Hope you have a good Thursday.

  10. Larry says:

    There you go again, trying to prove the Bible WITH the Bible when you say:

    “The Bible talks about those who have deluded themselves, and that every person is without excuse for having faith in God.”

    Aaron, I could write a 300 page book tomorrow and talk about invisible things, spirits and other things I cant prove and say “And those who do not accept this are lost.” How does that PROVE the people Im referring to are lost??

    You’re completely spinning the whole concept of humility and the statement I made, and what’s worse is, I think you KNOW youre spinning and you decided to do it anyway. When I said, “Who’s more humble than those who DOUBT?”, I was simply talking about the concept of Christians thinking they KNOW something to be true that they cannot PROVE to be true and walking the Earth with this complex that THEY are the “chosen” ones who are going to heaven and those other “sinners” are NOT. People who doubt dont do that. We dont judge people, because we DO NOT KNOW what the real truth is about god or IF there’s a god. So, we dont walk around with that “I’m better than you” God-complex that MANY MANY MANY Christians have. I know first hand they do Aaron, I went to Roanoke Bible College for 5 years…Ive seen it, witnessed it, lived with it. People who DOUBT are not even able to judge others—-I think that is TRUE humility. I am not saying that in an arrogant sense, I am simply just telling you my view of the real definition of humility.

    REAL humility is not looking down on others because they dont believe what you believe. REAL humility is not judging Muslims, homosexuals, criminals, rock stars, porn stars, etc…. which is what Christians do ALL THE TIME, every single day. Christians SAY they dont judge but they DO—-and I dont blme them, know why? Because like I said before, religion doesnt CHANGE who you are inside. You WANT to change and you think you CAN change, but religion doesnt change anyone. This is why lifelong ministers and church members rape and murder 8 year old girls and stuff them in suitcases and other grotesque things that would make a Satan worshipper gasp in disbelief. People who ARE good Christians would have been that good ANYWAY. They simply give Jesus the credit for it in order to validate what they already believe in.

    At the end of the film “Religulous”, Bill Maher makes a GREAT point when he says this:

    “Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking. It’s nothing to brag about. And those who preach faith, and enable and elevate it, are intellectual slaveholders, keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense that has spawned and justified so much lunacy and destruction.

    Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings who don’t have all the answers to think that they do. Most people would think it’s wonderful when someone says, “I’m willing Lord. I’ll do whatever you want me to do.” Except that since there are no gods actually talking to us, that void is filled in by people with their own corruptions and limitations and agendas.

    And anyone who tells you they know, they just know what happens when you die, I promise you you don’t. How can I be so sure? Because I don’t know, and you do not possess mental powers that I do not. The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions is not the arrogant certitude that is the hallmark of religion, but doubt. Doubt is humble, and that’s what man needs to be, considering that human history is a litany of getting shit dead wrong.

    This is why rational people, anti-religionists must end their timidity and come out of the closet and assert themselves. And those who consider themselves only moderately religious really need to look in the mirror and realize that the solace and comfort that religion brings you actually comes at a terrible price.

    If you belong to a political party or a social club that was tied to as much bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, violence and sheer ignorance as religion is, you’d resign in protest. To do otherwise is to be an enabler, a mafia wife for the true devils of extremism that draw their legitimacy from the billions of their fellow travelers.”

    • Aaron says:

      Hey Larry,

      Bill Maher? Seriously?

      I enjoyed “Religulous.” Thought it was a good, thought-provoking film. But humility is more than saying, “I doubt” or “I believe.” Bill Maher is one of the cockiest, most self-assured, arrogant people in the public eye, and one of the reasons is that he is so absolutely sure of his doubt (which is so ironic its almost laughable). I don’t disagree with you when you say that many Christians do “judge”–they look down on others. I know because I used to be one of them. Dude, during my first 2 1/2 years at RBC, I was a Pharisee of Pharisees… and I’m totally not proud of that fact. It sucked big time. But I also know many Christians who are among the most humble people on earth–they realize their own sin and their own faults, they put themselves down on their priority lists in order to do what’s best for others, and they care about those who don’t know God enough to share Jesus with them. I don’t have the exact study in front of me, but one has been done recently that shows religous people to be way more likely to do acts of kindness and be more generous than agnostics and atheists. Sometimes, the ones who shout the loudest are the ones doing the least…

      Which brings me to this point… you said this in a previous post:

      “First of all, I have never, ever said to you, or to Willis or anyone that I have a problem with having faith in God. As long as it ended there. But with most religious people, it does NOT end there. They go out and “witness” to people to get them to join them and even tell others that God is real and he exists and that they KNOW he does, like you did in your post above. That’s what I have issue with. Youre lying to yourself, you DONT know he exists, and even if you really found a way to KNOW, you still dont KNOW it’s the same exact God of the Bible.”

      You say that faith is fine, if you keep it to yourself, right? If I can’t know for certain, then I should keep it to myself. So why is it OK for you to not keep your doubt to yourself? Why do you and Bill Maher and other neo-agnostics and neo-atheists feel the need to “assert yourselves” and even go as far to try and “convert” (if I may use such a word) those who are religious (moderately so or extreme)? As I think through this whole doubt is humble thing, the only way I can see a person who doubts as you do being humble is to simply say, “I doubt. I don’t know.” and leave it there–and not go squawking at religious people for their belief because you don’t know. We Christians may be wrong… but we may just be right. You may be confident in your assertion that no one can truly know about God (which, obviously, I disagree with), but if you truly claim to not know, then you need to leave it there. Live and let live, dude. Because you don’t know, because you doubt, you should (as I’ve thought this through) be content to leave it at that and let others live as they wish. Keep your thoughts about religion and how horrible it is to yourself… because you don’t know for certain. You can’t stick others in a box you yourself aren’t willing to get into… and dude, I don’t think you’re willing to get into the box that you want to stick me and others like me into.

      Looking forward to your response (and by the way… no Bible in this one, buddy). Will look for it on Monday. Hope you have a great weekend.

  11. Larry says:

    First of all, where on Earth did you get the thought in your head that I am “converting” people with doubt? Looking at your blog and simply commenting on ONE post you wrote is the agnostic equivalent to spreading my doubt to the four corners of the Earth, going to another country to be a missionary of doubt or going door to door with my message of doubt? On what basis did you make the statement:

    “So why is it OK for you to not keep your doubt to yourself? Why do you and Bill Maher and other neo-agnostics and neo-atheists feel the need to “assert yourselves” and even go as far to try and “convert” (if I may use such a word) those who are religious (moderately so or extreme)?”

    Who am I SPREADING my doubt to? Am I a part of some congregation who is told that I must go out and share my doubt with every single person I come in contact with? Am I in another country working as a missionary of doubt? Am I going door to door handing out doubt tracts, asking people to join my church of doubt? Because I responded to ONE post on ONE blog, I am a doubt missionary? Where on Earth did that come from? Bill Maher doesnt attempt to “convert” either. He did a documentary in which he simply just examined why religious people believe the way they do. Not ONE scene in the movie did he even ATTEMPT to “convert” anyone?

    More Bill O’Reilly-style spin on your part Aaron. I kno the trick very well. Because I called Christians out on something that IS historical fact (that they go convert people…which you cant deny), the only thing you have left in your arsenal to use against me in response is just to simply say that agnostics try to convert too—despite the fact that you have ZERO evidence of that.

    Even on your blog right now as I speak I am not attempting to “convert” you to doubt like I do, because I know, as well as you know, you wouldnt anyway even if I WAS trying to and I never even IMPLIED that you should. Me calling your statements “absurd” or saying that I believe youre “extreme” and believe fairy tales is NOT an attempt to “convert”, it is simply me sharing my views and telling you how I feel. I believe (unless you’re braindead) that you already KNEW that, but since I criticized Christians for taking their faith further and not keeping it to themselves, you, naturally needed something to jab me back with, so you decided that you would just go with the unsubstantiated allegation that people like me and Maher try to convert too. Kinda like when two 5 year olds are picking on each other and one of them hits the other one and when the one who got hit tells on his attacker, the one who hit first says (falsely) “well, uhhh….he hit ME too!” That’s EXACTLY what you just did to me, and you KNOW it. I can tell you watch FOX News.

    It’s interesting that you said:

    “I also know many Christians who are among the most humble people on earth–they realize their own sin and their own faults, they put themselves down on their priority lists in order to do what’s best for others, and they care about those who don’t know God enough to share Jesus with them.”

    Aaron—-they were humble people BEFORE becoming a Christian. Ive said about 5 times now, religion does NOT change anyone. If you give Christianity credit for one being humble and doing good for their fellow man, then you also have to blame Christianity (or the lack of its influence) when a Christian hacks up their family with an axe.

    You also said this:

    “I don’t have the exact study in front of me, but one has been done recently that shows religous people to be way more likely to do acts of kindness and be more generous than agnostics and atheists.”

    What part of that study PROVES that it was the RELIGION that was the origin of the acts of kindness? Who was polled in this study? The religious person themselves? When asked if they do good, what are they SUPPOSED to say? “Uhhh, well, no, I dont do good to others…in fact, I grab walking canes out of the hands of old people every day…and I occasionally rob a bank too.”??? And if others were polled ABOUT the religious person, how would the person who is polled KNOW if the religious person did anything bad since the religious person would attempt to HIDE his immoral behavior because they KNOW they must be seen as “religious”? How would the person who is polled about a religious person’s good deeds know if that person snuck out at night and cheated on their wives? How would they know if they snuck out and went to a strip club? How would they know if they drove 100 miles away and snorted some cocaine with some friends???? Polls like that can EVER EVER be accurate—-so even using it as a defense is hilarious. How many agnostics and atheists do you hear about on the news that have molested little boys? But you hear about it ALL THE TIME with priests and even people in regular churches. Religious people just dont do horrible things to others, they commit the most vile and horrendous acts. Things that would make an atheist gasp with disbelief. What I find hilarious is when religious people, in defense of what I just said, say, “Well..it’s not ALL religious people who do that”. My response: “Should it even be ONE?”

    You’re only critique of “Religulous” is ad hominem attacks against Bill Maher? Saying he’s “one of the cockiest, most self-assured, arrogant people in the public eye, and one of the reasons is that he is so absolutely sure of his doubt (which is so ironic its almost laughable)” is your review of the film? If all you can do is attack the messenger, then his message must have been right on the money. What did you think of the FILM? Besides, since it is your belief that non-believers are sinful, corrupt people, then even IF Maher was the things you just called him, that would be expected of a non-believer, right? So, why do you say that with such shock and amazement? You’re complaining that a non-believer didnt act “Christian”? Most CHRISTIANS dont act Christian (Pat Roberston, George W Bush, Jimmy Swaggrt, Jim Bakker, James Dobson…the list goes on and on) so why dont you attack them?

    Looking forward to your response.

  12. Larry says:

    Obviously I meant to say “Polls like that CANT ever ever be accurate…” My keys skip sometimes. If you ever see a missing letter, my keys are skipping.

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