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His Master's Voice
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Written by: C. W. Booth

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Sodom and Gomorrah as a Type

After Bible study last evening, we were all engaged in small talk about whether this present time is “the last days.” That led to an exchange of ideas on what might constitute signs of the last days, which led to curiosity as to whether God would judge America harshly for wandering from its Puritan/Pilgrim/Calvinist roots.

Finally, someone casually and rhetorically asked, “I wonder why God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah so dramatically but not other notoriously evil cities across history?” As the night passed I thought on that question.

Sodom and Gomorrah were within the boundaries of the land that had just been promised to Abraham and his fledging nation. All the cities in the Promised Land that were occupied by anyone other than worshippers of YHWH were ultimately destined for destruction; this twin city was simply first. Sodom and Gomorrah were “types” of the destructions to come to unbelievers in the Promised Land just over 400 years in their future. A type in theological terms is a repeated pattern in human history which inevitably has a final resolution by showing Jesus as the Christ.

Another thought also came to mind as I thought through all this. When the “angels” went down to Sodom and Gomorrah to investigate the cry of polluting sin they heard coming from the newly promised land, a heinous assault was attempted against them. There is rather substantive reason to believe that one of the angels was the pre-incarnate Christ. If true, the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah tried to attack and harm Christ, and so earned such destruction from God. Again, if true, this is yet another typology, a precursor of when the temple leadership attacked the Christ, had Him executed, and ultimately saw the ruin and desolation of Jerusalem for almost 1900 years.

There is a day yet coming when the unbelieving nations of the world will again attempt to assault Christ when He is physically reigning over the world from a throne on Mount Zion, the temple mount in Jerusalem. As a result of that attempted assault-to-come, the nations will be dissolved, the earth incinerated, and a new Earth created by Christ to replace it--the ultimate manifestation of Jesus as the Christ and the definitive fulfillment of this specific typology begun back in Sodom and Gomorrah.

Jesus is Lord and God. Come quickly Lord Jesus.

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[This essay was originally posted as blog. As a blog it was subject to public review and comments. Only a selection of the cleaner and more salient comments are reprinted below.]

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Booth Posted This Joint Response to a Collection of Comments Made by the Public (public comments not shown)

Outstanding!!!!

Of course you folks are correct, the "last days" began when Jesus became a man in human history.

I spoke somewhat imprecisely about our table talk. Our conversation was not related to when the last days began, but with regard to when the end-times would occur during the last days. As Jesus said, even after all "these signs" take place, it is only the beginning of the end (Matthew 24:8, Mark 13:8). The last days began with Jesus and continue on even now, until the "end of the age."

You folks are sharp. Thanks for the comments. Blessings.






Sunday, July 10, 2011

Dominion of the Earth: By Whom? When? For What Purpose?

In their original sinless state, God blessed Adam and Eve with the task of populating planet earth, domesticating the wild areas (i.e. to subdue it) and protectively manage the entire domain (i.e. to rule it or exercise dominion over it)--see Genesis 1:28-31. Dominion, only when the word is used in its negative sense means to destroy. Every good king exercises wise beneficial dominion to keep the land and people safe, healthy, and prosperous. That was the charge to perfect Adam and perfect Eve.

So the original charge to perfect Adam and perfect Eve was to exercise king-like care over the land while populating it. AFTER they rebelled against God, sinful Adam and sinful Eve were given something different, a curse. The curse said, “be enslaved to till the soil as if you were its servant” (see Genesis 3:17, 23, especially note the Hebrew meaning for “cultivate“ in verse 23).

Dominion, the blessing of being able to exercise king-like care over the planet, ended for Adam and Eve when they sinned. They became virtual slaves to the earth, laboring in suffering and pain to produce food. The kings became slaves of their own domains.

There is no biblical mandate for Christians to take dominion of the world for Christ. We are to serve the governments that do rule (and perhaps serve in those governments as we may be gifted and skilled to do) and strive to live peaceful lives in the sight of men and productive lives in service to Christ. We are obligated to take the gospel to all the places on the earth, and teach those who believe in Christ how to be good disciples of the Lord. We are to do this until the Lord returns.

When the Lord returns He will take dominion of the entire planet, not us. We will serve Him and His administration. Christ will be the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Though some Christians think it is their calling to take dominion of the planet in lieu of Christ, they are mistaken.

The United States is not a model of Christian dominion-ism. It is true that the country was formally founded by Pilgrims/Puritans/Calvinists, and that to some limited extent they experimented with applying the Old Testament Law as the framework for their various colonial civil governments. When that Old Testament framework failed for them, they abandoned it and adopted democratic principles which led to our present form of government. Yet, though they were Christians, the colonial founding fathers did not think they had a mandate to take dominion of all the planet for Christ. They merely wanted to live in colonies governed by Christian principles.

We do err if we think we are perfect Adam and Eve with a dominion mandate. The curse we are under takes us from kings to slaves, laboring on the earth to scratch out a living while being mindful that we must preserve the earth as moral and wise stewards of what God owns. We also err if we think we will take dominion of the planet for Christ in absentia. Christ will take His own dominion.

Our present mandate is to honestly toil for our keep, spread the good news of the gospel, teach converts how to be disciples and children of the King, and to learn to be ever more holy in our personal lives. In so doing we will be good servants of Christ. When He returns He will be ruler and master over all. So we wait expectantly for His return. Come quickly Lord Jesus.






Sunday, July 10, 2011

And another new country is born...

When an infant is born, we are all anxious to see who it most resembles or takes after. And so it is with the newborn nation of Southern Sudan. We are all hopeful that it will grow up to do and be great things in the free world. We all want to see who it emulate as it matures.

In recent decades the world has been privileged to see numerous new countries born, or perhaps re-emerge might be more descriptive. Consider the various new countries that sprang up from the remnants of the Soviet empire, even leading to the reintegration of Germany. We still look to see the outcome for Egypt as it too changes form; will it ultimately become a full-fledged democracy or a theocracy? So many breath-taking changes in the world today!

Happy Birthday Southern Sudan.






Thursday, July 21, 2011

Has Atheism Ever Had a Successful National Human Rights Implementation?

During discussions with those who hold an atheistic philosophy many theories of potential utopias have been advanced in which they contend that if only religion were disposed of throughout the planet living conditions would improve. Well, before we dispense with religion globally, I am curious, has there ever been a real-world implementation of a large-scale atheist community or nation that did not turn out disastrously?

And by disastrously, I mean that in real life atheist-based communities have had a rather notorious record for immediately abandoning human rights and becoming murderously abusive not to mention dictatorial in which many people become virtually or literally enslaved against their wills. For example, some models of atheism we have witnessed in history:

  • The defunct Soviet Union embraced social, personal, political, military, and geographical domination while outlawing the free practice of religion.
  • China maintains population control via forced abortions and is known for its corrupt judicial and political systems.
  • The French Revolution exterminated uncounted multitudes and ultimately failed in the bloodiest possible sense while trying to eradicate deism.
  • Present day North Korea which is not communism so much as it is a simple atheistic dictatorship has little regard for individual human rights much less for maintaining civil relations with its neighbors.

To balance the discussion, it is true that some governments and people groups have used religion to squash human rights in the past and in the present. Yet, if we look narrowly at nations where Christianity is permitted to be freely practiced we seem to find people groups that have learned to strongly embrace human rights resulting in: abolition of slavery (finally!), right for women to vote, reduction of politically endorsed corruption, and the donating of massive amounts of disaster relief going to nations like Haiti and the tsunami-torn Pac-rim.

Moreover, when the Pilgrim/Calvinist/Puritan/Christian colonists settled in what became the Americas, initially a few experimented with a Christian theocracy based on an Old Testament Israel-like model. When they soon found this model to be unfair to those of other faiths (and to those of no faith) they quickly developed and embraced a pluralistic model by which they developed the concept of a secular state. This secular state allowed these Christians to separate church governance from state governance and thus protect the religion (if any) and worship of all. That secular pluralism eventually became the foundational principle of the United States of America. Perhaps that is among the greatest contributions of Christians to the political world: a secular government that protects and vehemently defends pluralism upholding the freedom of religious choice and practice for all its citizens.

It has been wrongly alleged that the US has an atheist government because it is non-religious in structure. The absence of preferred or enforced religion is what defines the American model as secular--the true separation of church governance from state governance. Even though being separate from church governance the secular government recognizes its subjection to deity (“In God We Trust,” “One nation under God,” inalienable rights bestowed by our Creator), that the majority of its people subject themselves to deity, and doggedly defends the right of all to participate in religion if they so choose. An atheist government is one that denies that any deity exists, denies that it is subject to any higher spiritual authority, and forbids its people freedom to worship a deity. The difference between secular and atheistic is the difference between pluralism for all people and the imposition of a single state-mandated philosophy for all the people (for example, atheism). That difference is the very difference between freedom of the heart (state supported pluralism) and enslavement (a single state mandated spiritual philosophy).

Finally, it must be noted that the contributions discussed here are not a matter of contesting individuals, such as one select Christian's value being judged against one specific atheist. Rather, there are exemplary individuals in both camps, and demonstrable disappointments as well. More to the point, it is a matter of objectively examining en masse the documented fruit, the produce, the outcome of the philosophies of atheism and Christianity as they have already exhibited themselves in the creation of state policies and the founding of nations. When Christian philosophy and principles are embedded in charter documents (e.g. The Bill of Rights of the US Constitution) is the observable result a better track record of upholding human rights than when atheistic principles and philosophies are codified into national policies? What does the visible historical evidence reveal?

Having just examined Christianity’s favorable contribution to politics and to human rights (see above), it is fair to put forward this question:

Has atheism ever had an actual successful large-scale community-wide (or nationwide) implementation that was known for genuinely protecting freedom and human rights?

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[This essay was originally posted as blog. As a blog it was subject to public review and comments. Only a selection of the cleaner and more salient comments are reprinted below.]

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Comment 1 Posted by a Reader

The Nordic countries are Highly Non-religious as well as Japan and it can be argued human rights are at their highest in these countries.

Booth Responded to Comment 1 and a Compilation of Other Comments

It was the Soviet leadership who were atheistic, and their brutal attitude toward human rights became official policy. Therefore, yes, the Soviet Union is a valid implementation of an atheistic state model which illustrates the devastating outcomes of constructing an atheistic community.

Also, have you noticed that when atheism becomes the state policy religion is generally no longer tolerated and usually becomes outlawed?

… If I understand you correctly, the atheistic answer may well be yes. In other words, taking the French Revolution and the Soviet Union as exemplary of the methodology, once atheism becomes the literal law of the land, that part of their human communities that remain religious become persecuted and imprisoned, or as you put it, disposed of.

…You wrote, "The Nordic countries are Highly Non-religious as well as Japan and it can be argued human rights are at their highest in these countries."

Having taken numerous trips to Japan for business, I can assure you that Japan is one of the most religious countries on the planet. Most assuredly they are not Christian (only about one half of one percent of their population is Christian) but Japan culture is utterly dependent on its varied spiritual belief systems with ancestor worship being at the core. One cannot pass a cemetary plot and not notice the massive number of prayer boards accumulated there. In past years and centuries worship of the Japanese emperor as a god drove fanatical actions of devotion. Japan is highly religious though the religion is not Christianity.

Some of the Nordic countries are becoming increasingly non-religious or secular. As of yet atheism has not become their official state policy and freedom of religion has not yet been repealed, with a still sizable percentage of the population adhering to various forms of deism (the most predominant by far is Protestantism). When or if any of the Nordic countries become truly atheistic, I doubt it would be long before they fall into the pattern, mode, and model of abuse of the atheistic states which have come before them.

A Reader Comments

I would say Freedom of Religion or non religion is key then. To deny any religion or say One religion is the only way to go is where the problems will arrise.

Booth Replied

I have read a substantial amount of history regarding the founding of the US, particularly the political experiments of the first colonies. They rather quickly discovered that they could not and should not enforce their highly Christian beliefs and practices on everyone they goverened (though they did try at first). Their early efforts at making everything Christian did not lead to what we would consider human rights abuses, though we would consider the practices unfair today. In fact, they soon understood them to be unfair too, which is partly how they came to embrace separation of church and state as official policy (long before there was such a thing as a United States of America or a US constitution).

But separation of church and state did not mean to them non-Christian government or atheistic government, but rather an all inclusive approach that protected freedom to worship and freedom not to worship (though it never meant or advocated anything remotely like a right not to ever be exposed to those who practiced religion in public).

Oddly, there has never been, to my knowledge, an atheist experiment that did not end up banning deism as a matter of violent policy. Why is that?

A Reader Posted This Comment

If your point is Atheism Bad, Christianity Good...I ain't buying it homey. Catholics burned Protestants and Protestants Catholics and this is why many left for the new world. The same was done in the name of Atheism.

Freedom of all religion and tollerance is the way to go. As I said before making any religion dominant or banning any one religion will lead to problems...be it atheism, Xtianity, islam etc...

Booth Responded

You wrote, "If your point is Atheism Bad, Christianity Good...I ain't buying it homey."

:) I have not been called 'homey' in at least 40 years!!!! Thanks!

My point is that every time the philosophy of atheism is implemented practically on a community-wide scale it quickly turns abusive, exclusive, and smashes human rights. I understand that atheism is a personal belief that there is no God, but unlike many other deist belief systems atheism when placed into practical practice in a community engenders the very intolerance and censorship that give rise to human rights abuses.

If atheism were good for the world, by now should we not have seen positive models of it implemented throughout the globe?

Another Reader Commented

Our government is Secular as are the countries I mentioned. These have been implemented and they are decidedly superior to the Christian Governments of Europe prior to our founding with regards to abusiveness, eclusivity (clergy part of governement) and human rights (burning at the stake).

You are making a crap arguement trying to condemn Atheism. I could cite the Crusades, the spanish inquisition, the Dark Ages etc and make the same falicious arguement you are trying to make here.

Booth Replied

You are quite correct, a government that espouses separation of church and state is by definition "secular," for it could be nothing else. The US is therefore secular since it espouses a distancing of church governance and state governance. By way of contrast, a government that espouses and runs a state religion is by definition a theocracy, or something close to it.

But you are not correct in asserting that a government that bans the worship of God and denies that there is a God is not atheistic. What else could it be? If it were a secular government it would not regulate religion at all or make any decrees against it. But a governmnent that bans religion and the free practice of religion is not secular (which means being detached from religion) but is countermanding, usurping, and overthrowing deism, which makes it thoroughly atheistic.

I am curious, if atheism is "good" for the world, why is it that athiests want to disown and distance themselves from where it was actually practiced en masse: atheist Cuba, the atheism of the French Revolution, and the atheistic Soviet empire?

Commenter T Weighed In

lot of those regimes that suppressed religion were only atheistic in the sense that they didn't believe in gods. North Korea, for example, can be classified as "religious" in its reverence and worship of the Kims.

If you're referring to state atheism, then no, I would not say human rights were high in those countries. Most atheists today are secularists; that is, we oppose the idea of state atheism, and we endorse a secular state-one that does not favor or discourage religion.

As to your argument about Christian nations being pro-human rights-I would say that this is not the case. First, you cite the United States, and yet the things you point out as (rightfully so) human rights advances were suppressed throughout much of American history-and the Bible was definitely used as an excuse to justify said oppression. Also, I would not say that all majority Christian countries today are free-far from it. Belarus, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda are all majority Christian nations, and yet unspeakable atrocities and human rights abuses have been committed there. I think you're trying to say that "atheism=suppression of religion and unfree" and "Christianity=freedom of religion; free", which is a very broad and inaccurate assertion. Besides, correlation =/= causation-Stalin had a mustache, and yet we don't blame people with mustaches for his human rights abuses.

Atheism, as it is viewed today, is a fairly new concept. It's only in the last century and a half that science has progressed to the point where atheism was an intellectually justified worldview. Thus we shouldn't expect many examples of atheistic countries even attempted, let alone successful. Communist countries make a religion out of the state itself, which is why they stomp out other religions. However, as TD4W pointed out, there are a great many secular countries that do very well. You criticize the French Revolution as violent atheism, but France after the revolution was FAR ahead of America in abolition of slavery and equal rights for those of African heritage.

Booth Replied to Commenter T

Greetings Thinker.

You wrote, "A lot of those regimes that suppressed religion were only atheistic in the sense that they didn't believe in gods. North Korea, for example, can be classified as 'religious' in its reverence and worship of the Kims."

I whole heartedly agree. Atheism is the denial of spiritual Gods, not an absence of worship. Many atheists are avowed humanists which is arguably, among other things, the virtual worship of oneself or the worship of other humans. One can be both an atheist and still offer worship. Worship (beloved adoration) does not have to be directed toward a spiritual deity, but toward people, statues, money, etc.

You also wrote, "If you're referring to state atheism, then no, I would not say human rights were high in those countries. Most atheists today are secularists; that is, we oppose the idea of state atheism, and we endorse a secular state-one that does not favor or discourage religion."

By this comment I take it that you disagree with the Humanist Manifesto (I and II) which literally labels all deism as "dangerous" and favors deism's global eradication?

You wrote, "As to your argument about Christian nations being pro-human rights-I would say that this is not the case. First, you cite the United States, and yet the things you point out as (rightfully so) human rights advances were suppressed throughout much of American history-and the Bible was definitely used as an excuse to justify said oppression."

Again, quite right. The US is a secular government, not a Christian one. As such, the US has made some poor choices here and there. But historically it has been Christians working within the system that have helped bring about improvements to that government BECAUSE the secular system was established predominantly by Christians who wanted to be free to act on their religious convictions without imposing religion on others. This cannot be said of the regimes mentioned above.

You wrote, "Also, I would not say that all majority Christian countries today are free-far from it. Belarus, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda are all majority Christian nations, and yet unspeakable atrocities and human rights abuses have been committed there."

No argument from me. Read what Paul wrote to Titus, pastor of the church on the island of Crete in the first century, "One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, 'Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.' This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith," (Titus 1:12-13). So such people who call themselves Christians but do not act like it should be severly rebuked and corrected. But is it also not true that on the whole, nations where Christians abound and have sway with their governments create far better human rights environments than those regimes who have been fueled predominantly by atheism?

You wrote, "I think you're trying to say that 'atheism=suppression of religion and unfree' and 'Christianity=freedom of religion; free', which is a very broad and inaccurate assertion. Besides, correlation =/= causation-Stalin had a mustache, and yet we don't blame people with mustaches for his human rights abuses."

Actually, worded another way, my question was, "Where in history do you find a governmental system or an entire community that has upheld and championed human rights where that community was founded on atheism or the atheistic philosophies of its founder?"

Blessings to you Thinker.

Craig

Booth Replied to Commenter G

You wrote, "Atheism, as it is viewed today, is a fairly new concept. It's only in the last century and a half that science has progressed to the point where atheism was an intellectually justified worldview. Thus we shouldn't expect many examples of atheistic countries even attempted, let alone successful."

Ok. That is an interesting comment, but not very enlightening. The Judeo-Christian Scriptures indicate that atheism (the disbelief in God) has been around for the last three thousand years (Psalm 10:4, 14:1, 53:1, Hebrews 11:6). You also wrote, "Communist countries make a religion out of the state itself, which is why they stomp out other religions. However, as TD4W pointed out, there are a great many secular countries that do very well."

Of course secular governments do well, because by definition they have implemented a separation of church governance and state governance. Never have I seen atheistic national founders implement separation of church and state, though there are dozens (hundreds?) of historical examples where people of the Christian faith founded communities and nations embracing that very principle. Especially in the past two centuries Christians have tended to favor the princple of separation of church governance and state governance.

You wrote, "You criticize the French Revolution as violent atheism, but France after the revolution was FAR ahead of America in abolition of slavery and equal rights for those of African heritage."

Yes, ultimately the atheistic aim of the revolution failed in entirely unseating deism and undermining higher education (another target of the revolution). Consequently there was a backlash after the revolt against the heavy handed authoritarianism of mob rule, thus resulting in freedom overall in becoming the winner. That was hardly a triumph of atheism so much as a reaction against it.

While I found your comments interesting they really did not answer the original question. Worded another way, the question on the table was, "Where in history do you find a governmental system or an entire community that has upheld and championed human rights where that community was founded on atheism or the atheistic philosophies of its founder?"

Blessings to you friend.

Craig

Booth Replied to Commenter A (public comment not shown)

You wrote, "You're confusing communism with atheism"

No, I was not discussing fiscal-social ideologies (e.g. communism) but rather how religious views work themselves out practically with regard to upholding human rights within a community.

You also wrote, "in north korea kim jong il and his father are worshipped as deities you shmuck, it's not an atheistic country at all."

I suspect you did not read the conversation as it has progressed in the comments, as this was all addressed previously. And, as stated previously, atheism does not obviate worshipful adoration of people or objects, as it only militates against the worship of supernatural divinities which it maintains do not literally exist.

You wrote, "And if you want a secular nation based on civil liberties and equality - look no further than the united states of america." That discussion has been conducted previously in the comments where it was noted that it was predominantly Christians, not atheists, who intentionally made the nation secular because of their religious convictions regarding protecting the freedom to worship and the freedom not to worship.

You wrote, "Of the top ten most atheistic countries in the world, none are dictatorships." What are those top ten atheistic countries?

You wrote, "Slavery was the explicit justification for the slave trade, and the slave trade was modeled after biblical slavery. Abolitionists were constantly accused of atheism, and many of them were atheists. '[Slavery] was established by decree of Almighty God... it is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to Revelation...it has existed in all ages, has been found among the people of the highest civilization, and in nations of the highest proficiency in the arts.'- Jefferson Davis, President, Confederate States of America"

Commenter A, are you seriously suggesting abolitionists were largely atheists instead of deists? To my knowledge the majority of celebrated abolitionists were believers in God, both in the Americas and in Great Britain.

You may be interested to know that American slavery was not modeled after biblical slavery but after pagan slavery. Biblical slavery required the release of the slave every Jubilee Year and the slave, upon release, was to be given his own self-sustaining flock and share of household goods. Moreover, no slave (except defeated military invaders) could be taken by force; to take a slave by force was the capital crime of kidnapping (Exodus 21:16, Deuteronomy 24:7, 1 Timothy 1:10).

I guess I will ask you the same question as I have asked others who have commented, "Where in history do you find a governmental system or an entire community that has upheld and championed human rights where that community was founded on atheism or the atheistic philosophies of its founder?"

Booth Replied to Another Public Commenter (public comment not shown)

You wrote, "It is a secular state where religious policies are strictly forbidden."

No, a state that regulates against the practice of religion (outlaws religion) is not secular but is enforcing atheism. Secular states tolerate and protect the freedom of belief in God without imposing the necessity of belief in God. That is what makes the USA both "secular" and "pluralistic."

You wrote, "you claim that christianity is responsible not for the policies when it was a colony of a christian theocracy, but when it became a secular state which established separation of church and state."

I said it was Christians who attempted to implement a Christian-based government (call it a theocracy if you like) in some early colonies, and then abadoned that governance model as they saw it failed on two counts (it was unfair to non-Christians and they soon discovered that the theocracy began to look like the Old Covenant of Israel which they recognized was theologically improper since the Old Covenant had become obsolete in Christ). So the Puritan/Calvinist/Pilgrim/Christian founding fathers began building plurality into their governing charters, in other words, separation of church governance and state governance. That approach worked far better and it became codified for the nation when the United States of America was legally formed.

You wrote, "To save your delicate hands from having to google it for two seconds, these are the most atheistic countries by percentage of atheists."

Ah, I see definitions are a problem yet again. By "atheist country" you do not mean that the governments, cultures, or policies were founded on any atheistic principles but rather that some high number of atheists live in those countries. In fact, the countries on your list were all begun (except for Vietnam) by theists. I noticed that the majority of the "top ten" atheist-populated countries have populations where atheists still comprise the minority when compared to theists. I will point out that your top ten list included Vietnam, a communist regime with a very poor human rights record.

Also, I did very much enjoy reading the comments of the atheist from South Korea who is "longing for a day when Christianity will vanish from Korea" because "South Korea is ... plagued with Christianity. True, Christians are only about 29% of the population. But that 29% is second highest in Asia, only next to the Philippines." He goes on to complain, "The survey you quoted says 30-52% of South Koreans are non-religious, but you would not know it if you walk around the streets of Seoul, the capital city of South Korea. It looks as though that, at every corner of the street, you will find those crazy Christians who will try to recruit you to their church. What makes the situation in South Korea more troublesome is that most of the Christians there are much more fanatic fundamentalists than American Evangelists."

The comments from the South Korean atheist made going to the top ten list very much worth my while. Sadly, his anecdotal comments also demonstrate that some (all?) atheists do not appear to desire living in pluralistic secularly governed communities, but desire to see Christianity "vanish" entirely, "I have no doubt that Christianity will eventually vanish from human history but that I am afraid that the human history may remember Korea as THE LAST stronghold of Christianity."

You also wrote, "Why would atheists found a nation based on atheism? Skepticism, logic, scientific inquiry etc maybe, but atheism is not even a belief, it is a lack of one. To make atheism a forced state belief would be just as wicked as to make christianity a forced state religion, which is why with the exception of some communists dictatorships who attacked organized religion because it's political sway posed a threat to their ability to govern, every single predominantly atheist country has avoided doing so."

Why would atheists found a nation based on atheism? It has been tried, but always with disastrous results.

Again I ask, "Where in history do you find a governmental system or an entire community that has upheld and championed human rights where that community was founded on atheism or the atheistic philosophies of its founder?"

Booth Responded to Yet Another Public Commenter (public comment not shown)

I will close up by addressing your comment, "A country like sweden that is comprised of 80% atheists and is secular and pluralistic completely destroys your point, but they don't count as atheists in your view because they're not monsters."

Swedes do not consider themselves to be 80% atheist (atheism being a belief that there is no supernatural god/spirit) but rather only about 23% adopt the atheist label for themselves with a substantial number of those atheists and theists being unwilling to remove themselves from membership in the Lutheran Church (80% of the population of Sweden are still formal members, including atheists). I am unsure why such friendly statistics would "completely destroy [my] points I have made in the blog. "

Despite a high formal membership rate in the Church of Sweden, some studies have found Sweden to be one of the least religious countries in the world, with one of the highest levels of atheism. According to different studies, between 46% and 85% of Swedes do not believe in God.[146] In the Eurostat survey, 23% of Swedish citizens responded that 'they believe there is a God,' whereas 53% answered that 'they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force' and 23% that 'they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force.' Nevertheless, despite a lack of belief in God, these individuals resented the term atheist, and still called themselves Christians, being content with remaining in the Church of Sweden.[147] Other research has shown that religion in Sweden continues to play a role in cultural identity.[148] This is evidenced by the fact that around 80% of adults continue to remain members of the Lutheran Church despite having to pay a church tax; moreover, rates of baptism remain high and church weddings are increasing in Sweden." (source of quotation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweden )

I will continue to await anyone who wishes to actually address the original question: "Where in history do you find a governmental system or an entire community that has upheld and championed human rights where that community was founded on atheism or the atheistic philosophies of its founder?"

Another Public Commenter Posted This Comment

The church of sweden and church of norway are gutted government institutions like the church of england and are chock full of atheist members because you need to be a member in order to get certain government benefits like burial rights - they are left over from the era of state religion, the church of norway might as well be the DMV.

And they are about 80% atheist in the sense of being a non-theist, there is zero moral difference between thinking there is a prime mover or something which does not communicate with humans, reward or punish us or make any demands on us whatsoever, and an atheist who does not think such a thing exists. It is a purely academic difference and is irrelevant to your point.

You are calling atheists fascist and justifying it by only counting the actions of fascist atheists legitimate. This, as I said and you ignored, is like calling all catholics pedophiles and refusing to acknowledge the vast majority of non-pedophile catholics.

You are a bigot, you are trying to rationalize your bigotry. But please do tell, what christian theocracies championed human rights? Because I guess we should only count christian dictators in our equation. Oh, and bear in mind abraham lincoln who freed the slaves, thought your religion was bullshit.

And thomas jefferson who also thought your religion was bullshit tried to free them when he wrote the declaration of independence but all those fine christians overrode his decision and removed the slavery text from the declaration. This confounds your ultra-simplistic view where all christians are great and all non-christians are foolish, evil and incapable of any good. The only way you can maintain such a view is by selective blindness to history.

Booth Offered This Reply

The Top Ten list of countries with large atheist populations contains: Estonia, South Korea, France, Finland, Czech Republic, Japan, Norway, Denmark, Vietnam, and Sweden (as compiled by Atheist Mind: http://www.atheistmind.com/avoid-the-religious-masses-top-10-atheistic-countries).

This list is obviously unofficial and open to questions of how specific countries did or did not make it onto the list. Atheist readers offered their own objections right on the website that hosted the list, noting that North Korea and China were improperly omitted while Vietnam was retained. One reader mused that maybe North Korea and China were left off the list because even though they have 90+% atheist populations (those percentages were his own opinion) their governments do not permit freedom of religion in any meaningful sense, so the true number of theists is not really known. If that were true, why then did Vietnam make the list, as arguably the same political supression of religion is true of Vietnam as is found in North Korea and China?

Another question becomes obvious, Since Vietnam's population is about 80% animist (including ancestor worship, Buddhism, etc.) and Japan's population is 90% animist (including ancestor worship, Buddhism, Shintoism, etc.) why is that they have made the Top Ten List of Most Atheistically Populated Countries? Anyone familiar with Buddhism readily knows it has a pantheon of gods and deities as opposed to atheism which avows that there are no supernatural spirits or gods at all. It is hard to understand how Japan, with 90% of the population adhering to diverse animistic faiths, is in any way atheistic?

Finally, a word to the individual who left nothing but a two line string of profanity against Christians: your comment was deleted and your ability to post has been blocked. Rational debate and even spirited conversation is welcome, but profanity-laced insult-laden comments are not as all they do is promote ill-will and anger, all of which distracts from the geunine points under discussion.

Keep in mind, this post was an invitation for atheists to show how the philosophy of atheism has positively shaped the founding of pro-human rights nations around the globe. So far, no such positive examples have been offered.






Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How Many Steps in Church Discipline?

It has become extremely unpopular in this phase of the church age to take Matthew 18 seriously. It has become repugnant to even consider actually going to someone whom you have observed to be in gross public sin (big time sin, not the petty stuff) and remind them they must turn from their sin and repent to God.

Scripture states that if such a person does not repent when so privately approached, then a couple other people from the church are to approach the sinning church member and confront them again. This is the beginning of the process called Church Discipline. It is a good and godly way to call sinners to repentance quietly and with love.

Some authoritarian denominations are not disposed to find the process repugnant or loving and gentle, but embrace it with such aggressive enthusiasm that they overuse it so as to maintain political control of the congregations. In their zeal they often skip a major step in the process and do not even realize they have done so.

An excellent book I have just finished reading on this subject makes the following point. The process of Church Discipline is NOT:


-1 go in private to correct the sinner, and IF he does not repent,
-2 go with others to correct the sinner, and IF he does not repent,
-4 excommunicate him.

NO! The process is:


-1 go in private to correct the sinner, and IF he does not repent,
-2 go with others to correct the sinner, and IF he does not repent,
-3 go with the entire church,
and only if after the entire church has confronted him,
and only after he has had time to consider what the entire church is telling him,
only THEN if he does not repent after a reasonable time,

-4 conduct formal excommunication service/meeting (distinct in time from step 3).

Imagine the impact it would have on a person if every member of the church came to the sinning member face-to-face and asked them to repent, and then waited for them to actually repent!

And imagine the humbling impact on abusive leadership if a wrongly accused member (who was only charged by the leadership for political purposes) was able to plead their case of innocence to every member of the church! Truly, the biblical process is both loving and just.

-----

Note: The general concept that step 3 is a necessary part of the disciplinary process was made by Wyman Richardson in Walking Together: A Congregational Reflection on Biblical Church Discipline.


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