So what is the process from damnation to Christian salvation?

January 7, 2008 at 12:24 am 9 comments

I think it is fair to say that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from his own death, is the key historical event on which Christianity rests. I know many Christians who if in their heart of hearts came to the conclusion that Jesus had never turned water to wine or made blind men see, would still hold on to their faith as long as they were convinced of the resurrection. I also think that there are few people who truly believe the resurrection happened or that Jesus was the son of god yet do not consider themselves Christian. Conversely, people who don’t believe in the deity and resurrection of Jesus don’t really fall into the category or believer with which I am interested.

So what is the process from damnation to Christian salvation?

Discussions with believers tend to follow a consistent path. If I say that having read the gospels, I am unconvinced that they represent proof or even good evidence of the resurrection, they will argue sometimes very intelligently as to why the proof is good and why I am wrong to disbelieve. If I am honest with them and say that I remain unconvinced they say that I need to open my mind and let the spirit in… let Jesus do the work, he’s knocking at the door just let him in. Or something along those lines.

As I stated earlier in a previous blog, this leaves me in a quandary. Either I am not intelligent enough to understand how the gospels are reliable or my level of evidence requirement is too high. If it’s the former then it stands to reason that everyone who has accepted the evidence of the gospels is smarter and/or better informed than me. I don’t think that many of my Christian friends would accept that the loving creator god has built into the salvation narrative an intellectual filter to keep the idiots out of heaven.

Therefore what it must require is a lowering of the standard of evidence, opening my mind as it were, letting the holy spirit in. If nothing happens should I pretend that it has, or should I lower the bar some more until any old myth becomes plausible? The problem with this is what happens if Hari Krishna or Mohammad or Tom Cruise jumps in instead now that the bar has been lowered? Or for that mater, all kinds of new age hoo haa, myths and legends. Isn’t it a strange co-incidence that depending on their family and culture, a different faith’s ‘holy spirit’ tends to reveal itself when they ‘open their mind’. Surely I need to have read and accepted the gospels to know that when Krishna comes knocking on my heart that he’s actually a myth.

There may well be another route which I’m missing but most of what we consider goodness and progress in the world has come from the application of reason, intellect and clear-headedness – it shouldn’t be abandoned or compromised lightly.

– QuestionMonkey

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You might be a Fundy if… Joel Osteen upgrades God to God version 2.0

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. JustCant  |  January 7, 2008 at 12:45 am

    QM, thank you for the great post and clear thoughts. They’ve helped me.

    You use the phrase “open my mind” and I find that interesting. I’ve been pursued heavily by my spouse and her fundamentalist Christian teacher for the past two months. It has been a trial dealing with two people who think they need to knock you down by insulting you in order to make you hit rock bottom and convert.

    The phrase this teacher uses is “Close your mind.” I couldn’t actually believe someone could think such a thing.

    He says my mind is so open that the devil has driven a transport truck right through my house, and I’ve allowed it (not because of horrible debauchery on my part, I just refuse to believe the ID perspective and do not agree with his fundamentalism or his saviour. I need to stop thinking, close my mind, and stop using reason. Look at one thing — that’s all I’ll need, he says.

    It is interesting the conversion techniques used can sometimes be opposite of one another to reach the same end. Surely they both can’t be right — a mind is either open or closed but not both. I wonder which side is going to hell?

  • 2. No Tags  |  January 7, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    I have a belief system but I resent being labled as anything in partiular,so I just say I’m an unbeliever. Because I am a deconverted christian doesn’t mean I have lost all belief! I am a much more spiritual person since I left christianity behind. I find I have abilities that were frowned upon in any church, as works of the devil, in fact I have even been told I am doing the devils work for him! That would be fine I suppose if I still adhered to a belief in the devil, but as I don’t the accusation doesn’t bother me! My idea is that we are all things we choose to be, that we are both god and the devil and we make choices about who we want to be. Non of us is perfect, so when we are “bad” we could be said to be devilish. When we are good we could be said to be godlike. It is all a matter of degree’s. Some choose for reasons beyond comprehension to be totally evil, others live their lives with kindness and compassion and love, hardly ever choosing to do a wrong act. Yet the evil could choose to be godlike in the twinkling of an eye and the reverse could happen with the good. As the christians believe in a schicsophrenic god it is quite understandable, why his followers take such delight in telling of the horrific punishments this god of love will dole out simply for not believing in him. I could not handle the evil things this supposedly good god was supposed to have done and would do, this made him no better than the mortals he was dealing with.
    most of us cannot imagine not needing or wanting something in this life. I think the reason for this is that we have been indoctrinated with the idea that god has wants and needs. If those who believe in a god cannot even imagine a god without wants and needs, how can we possibly not have wants and needs too? What could god possibly want or need that he hasn’t got access to already? This is the trap into which we willingly fall, this is the idea that ensnares us in the noose of it’s absurdity! We form our many ideas about god from our ideas about ourselves and visa versa, so the circle goes on unbroken until we realise that god neither wants or needs anything from us, that he has given us everything and that by endowing us with “free will”, the same will that makes god, god, we can choose exactly what we want to be and have. God is wantingless and needless therefore we can be too!
    Here endeth the lesson from
    No Tags!

  • 3. karen  |  January 8, 2008 at 12:16 am

    Because I am a deconverted christian doesn’t mean I have lost all belief!

    I know what you mean. I don’t like to call myself an “unbeliever” because that sounds so bleak, like I don’t believe in the power of love, or family, or democracy or something else that I actually cherish.

    I also object when people ask how I “lost my faith.” I still have faith in lots of things, I tell them, just not religious claims that have no evidence. All I did was reject a religious claim, not lose all my faith or hope or optimism.

  • 4. Richard  |  January 8, 2008 at 2:20 am

    QM- Excellent post! (And I promise I wont take part in tangential debates this time….) 😉

    I think the basic idea, from the apologetics that Ive read, has to do with what is sometimes called the “noetic” effects of sin. Noetic means “of, relating to, or based on the intellect” and what its saying is that, because of human corruption (sin) our very ability to reason is compromised, so we frequently make errors, such as not seeing the clear and obviousness of the way that apologists arguments are “really” convincing!

    Nice, eh? And it gets better. SInce the proper relationship of creature to Creator is one of submission of the will (this is assumed, never argued), and since our reason can lead us astray anyway, what we are supposed to do is just believe. If you trust your reason and the results of your reason, then you are placing that in a higher position than “God’s Word.” I.e., that is precisely sin, in that you are making yourself (or an aspect of yourself) your “God” rather than God.

    I think this is such a deliciously, dastardly piece of rhetoric because it attacks the very foundation by which one might conceivably leave the faith — i.e., by reasoning carefully about the dogmas. It teaches, not that reason itself is sin (because many Christians use reason everyday quite happily and do not call it sin) but that trusting reason above the teachings of the faith and the Bible is sin. I.e., if there is a conflict between the two, the Bible should win. So it doesnt matter what your reason tells you, you should just have faith.

    The Achilles heel of this argument is that it never (and cant) addresses the issue of how to pick a revelation to adhere to in the first place. I.e., one must apply reason in order to pick a “bible” to then believe unquestioningly. (Of course, most people dont apply reason to pick the Bible, they inherit it from the culture, which doesnt help their argument either).

    So as a Christian one can almost feel the flames licking at one’s toes as one starts to ask hard questions about the Bible…


  • 5. qmonkey  |  January 8, 2008 at 5:12 am

    thanks richard, good comment

    you’ll have noticed that this post is quite simalar to my last one (boringly so you might say). This is because although it got lots of comments no one really got to the core of this issue… i think you might just have.

    Reason can fail us – we used to think the world was flat

    therefore we should just accept the bible

    but, as you point out.. what do we use to initialy decide that the bible is worth just beliving. Reason.

  • 6. synapse  |  August 6, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    [The problem with this is what happens if Hari Krishna or Mohammad or Tom Cruise jumps in instead now that the bar has been lowered?]

    One of my complaints about practicing christianity is the gullibility it seems to engender toward other things; health food claims, government conspiracy claims, bizarre bible interpretations. Two components to that, people prone to lower their standard of evidence bar who entered the faith for that reason, and/or people who have forced themselves to lower that bar in order to believe.

    [I think this is such a deliciously, dastardly piece of rhetoric because it attacks the very foundation by which one might conceivably leave the faith]

    Ahhh, my personal torment, caught like a fly in a trap!!! ;^)

  • 7. silentj  |  August 6, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    Martin Luther was wise enough to know that reason would destroy faith. Two that are very telling:

    “Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense, and understanding. ”

    “Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has.”

    Clearly the mind and heart were distinct modes of knowing. I’m guessing that to Luther the heart, intuitive and sensing, was the direct link to the divine, and thus superior, understanding. Where as, the mind perceived the world and corrupted, a tradition that has roots in Platonic form, but I have no idea what the transition would be from a Platonic world view to Luther’s.

    One has to wonder if Luther didn’t have his own doubts in the mind and simply considered it the work of the devil. Otherwise, why denounce the mind so, even while reasoning his own ideas about faith? (Why not have faith that the Pope and the Catholic church were right? Were his objections simply “felt”?)

  • 8. Larry T  |  August 6, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    3. Relationship to Philosophy

    Given Luther’s critique of philosophy and his famous phrase that philosophy is the “devil’s whore.” It would be easy to assume that Luther had only contempt for philosophy and reason. Nothing could be further from the truth. Luther believed, rather, that philosophy and reason had important roles to play in our lives and in the life of the community. However, he also felt that it was important to remember what those roles were and not to confuse the proper use of philosophy with an improper one.

    Properly understood and used, philosophy and reason are a great aid to individuals and society. Improperly used, they become a great threat to both. Likewise, revelation and the gospel when used properly are an aid to society, but when misused also have sad and profound implications.

    The proper role of philosophy is organizational and as an aid in governance. When Cardinal Cajetan first demanded Luther’s recantation of the Ninety-Five Theses, Luther appealed to scripture and right reason. Reason can be an aid to faith in that it helps to clarify and organize, but it is always second-order discourse. It is, following St. Anselm, fides quarenes intellectum (faith seeking understanding) and never the reverse. Philosophy tells us that God is omnipotent and impassible; revelation tells us that Jesus Christ died for humanity’s sin. The two cannot be reconciled. Reason is the devil’s whore precisely because asks the wrong questions and looks in the wrong direction for answers. Revelation is the only proper place for theology to begin. Reason must always take a back-seat.

    Reason does play a primary role in governance and in most human interaction. Reason, Luther argued, is necessary for a good and just society. In fact, unlike most of his contemporaries, Luther did not believe that a ruler had to be Christian, only reasonable. Here, opposite to his discussion of theology, it is revelation that is improper. Trying to govern using the gospel as one’s model would either corrupt the government or corrupt the gospel. The gospel’s fundamental message is forgiveness, government must maintain justice. To confuse the two here is just as troubling as confusing them when discussing theology. If forgiveness becomes the dominant model in government, people being sinful, chaos will increase. If however, the government claims the gospel but acts on the basis of justice, then people will be misled as to the proper nature of the gospel.

    Luther was self-consciously trying to carve out proper realms for revelation and philosophy or reason. Each had a proper role that enables humanity to thrive. Chaos only became a problem when the two got confused.One cannot understand Luther’s relationship to philosophy and his discussions of philosophy without understanding that key concept.

    more at

  • 9. silentj  |  August 6, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    In his language he seems to have contempt for reason though, even if he did find it for valuable and certain aspects of life. That’s my question: why the harsh language? Why must faith “trample under foot all reason, sense, and understanding?”

    Also, why not apply reason to faith unless reason vanquished faith?

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