Short History of Christian Intolerance
The Bible on Tolerance
The Bible on Tolerance—A Reply
Short History of
and large, Christianity has been an intolerant religion. This
proposition may seem rather extraordinary, perhaps even offensive.
Therefore, I will qualify this statement by saying that I believe the
vast majority of Christians are decent people, for clearly many lead
exemplary lives just as non-Christians do. Nor do I mean to imply that
all varieties of the Christian faith are dangerous. This essay is not
aimed at those Christians who reject violence, embrace the concept of
tolerance and acknowledge the vital necessity of human rights.
criticism is aimed at Christianity in its traditional form — a religion
that has been largely intolerant, dogmatic and violent towards those
who hold views different from the orthodox opinions of the age. In
other words what I am about is criticizing fundamentalism, which may be
broadly defined as a mindset that views the Scriptures as the
infallible word of God, and that all human activity and thought must be
subordinate to the alleged Word of God.
said this I do not mean to imply that every fundamentalist is a blood
crazed fanatic — most are not. However, there does appear to be a
minority who are, and these individuals have the potential to stir up
people's hatreds, prejudices and fears and lead them down the path to
violence, and it is this dangerous minority that must be opposed by all
decent minded people.
addition I realize that traditional Christianity has no doubt helped
many people by giving them a sense of meaning to their lives, and
offering comfort in times of trouble. Nonetheless, I have arrived at
the conclusion that this version of the religion has played a part,
along with other social and political factors in hindering the
emergence of a rational and humane society, and that this is a
justifiable conclusion based upon historical evidence, as I shall
attempt to show.
166, 2016 January)
War Against Religious Tolerance
a world as ours with such diverse faiths that embrace suppositions that
are unproven and possibly incapable of proof, the idea and practice of
religious tolerance is, in my opinion, one area of paramount
importance, especially today when we possess weapons of mass
destruction that could fall into the hands of violent extremists.
when we examine the history of most monotheistic faiths, what we find
is a litany of persecutions and atrocities committed in the name of
their respective beliefs. Christianity, in particular, has a
we examine the New Testament, we find that from the very beginning the
church believed those who disagreed with its doctrines were evil merely
because they held contrary views:
many deceivers have gone out into the world, men who will not
acknowledge the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh; such a one is a
deceiver and an antichrist. (2 John 7)
course, it's a small step from believing those who hold different
opinions from one's own are evil to the next level of actively
persecuting them. Unfortunately, history shows this is exactly what
happened when the church gained sufficient power to eliminate
the first four centuries of Christianity, Christians sent one another
to hell purely with words. This was really only because there was no
existing power structure to reinforce those words with actions. As soon
as the emperors Theodosius and Gratian, however, raised the numerically
strongest community of Christians, the Catholics, to the status of a
state church, by edict of the 28 February 380, 'heresy' at once became
a crime against the state. (1)
list all the cruelties committed in the name of Christianity would
require an entire book. However, an example of the terrible barbarity
that religious intolerance can give birth to is illustrated by the
atrocities committed during the period of the Crusades (11th-14th
centuries), when Christians declared 'holy war' (a misnomer if ever
there was one) against Jews and Muslims, murdering both by the
the way to the Middle East, they [the Crusaders] decided that only one
of their goals was to wrest control of Jerusalem from the Muslims. A
secondary task was to rid the world of as many non-Christians as
possible — both Muslims and Jews. The Crusaders gave the Jews two
choices in their slogan: "Christ killers, embrace the Cross or die!"
12,000 Jews in the Rhine Valley alone were killed as the first Crusade
passed through. Some Jewish writers refer to these events as the "first
holocaust. Once the army reached Jerusalem and broke through the city
walls, they slaughtered all the inhabitants that they could find (men,
women, children, newborns). After locating about 6,000 Jews holed up in
the synagogue, they set the building on fire; the Jews were burned
alive. The Crusaders found that about 30,000 Muslims had fled to the al
Aqsa Mosque. The Muslims were also slaughtered without mercy. (2)
Christians not only killed Jews and Muslims, but also turned on each
other when nonconforming sects branched off from the mother church.
Some examples of those persecuted are as follows:
Albigenses. In 1208, Pope Innocent III ordered their
extermination. Thousands were slaughtered, with many being tortured
before being killed.
Apostolic Brethren. In 1300 most were killed by troops of the
bishop of Milan.
Waldensians. In 1487, Pope Innocent VIII ordered their
extermination. Again, atrocities were committed.
Protestants. In 1542 Pope Paul III attempted eliminate Protestant
influences in Italy. This persecution became a reign of terror under
Pope Paul IV. Many were killed on mere suspicion of being heretics.
Inquisition, which was instituted by Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) in
Rome and then established by Gregory IX in 1233 for the discovery and
suppression of heresy, and its Spanish counterpart (established in
1478) were instrumental in persecuting heretics, Jews and those
suspected of being witches. The Inquisition can be divided into the
following three phases (1) The medieval persecution of heretics (2) the
Spanish Inquisition, (3) The Roman Inquisition that began after the
Reformation. Precise figures of the number of people killed as a result
of the activities of the Inquisition in its various phases remains
unknown due to the paucity of historical records.
Carcel estimates that the total number processed by the Inquisition
throughout its history was approximately 150,000; applying the
percentages of executions that appeared in the trials of 1500-1700 —
about 2% — the approximate total would be about 3,000 put to death.
Nevertheless, it is likely that the toll was higher, keeping in mind
the data provided by Dedieu and Garcia Carcel for the tribunals of
Toledo and Valencia, respectively. It is likely that between 3,000 and
5,000 were executed.
historians have begun to study the documentary records of the
Inquisition. The archives of the Suprema, today held by the National
Historical Archive of Spain (Archivo Historico Nacional), conserves the
annual relations of all processes between 1540 and 1700. This material
provides information on about 44,674 judgements; the latter studied by
Gustav Henningsen and Jaime Contreras. These 44,674 cases include 826
executions in persona and 778 in effigie. This material, however, is
far from being complete-for example, the tribunal of Cuenca is entirely
omitted, because no relaciones de causas from this tribunal have been
found, and significant gaps concern some other tribunals (e.g.,
Valladolid). Many more cases not reported to the Suprema are known from
the other sources (i.e., no relaciones de causas from Cuenca have been
found, but its original records have been preserved), but were not
included in Contreras-Henningsen's statistics for the methodological
reasons. William Monter estimates 1000 executions between 1530 and 1630
and 250 between 1630 and 1730.
archives of the Suprema only provide information surrounding the
processes prior to 1560. To study the processes themselves, it is
necessary to examine the archives of the local tribunals; however, the
majority have been lost to the devastation of war, the ravages of time
or other events. Jean-Pierre Dedieu has studied those of Toledo, where
12,000 were judged for offences related to heresy. Ricardo Garcia
Carcel has analyzed those of the tribunal of Valencia. These authors'
investigations find that the Inquisition was most active in the period
between 1480 and 1530, and that during this period the percentage
condemned to death was much more significant than in the years studied
by Henningsen and Contreras. Henry Kamen gives the number of about
2,000 executions in persona in the whole of Spain up to 1530. (3)
can be seen, persecutions and atrocities were both regular and
widespread throughout the history of Christianity. This apocalypse of
persecution is probably best exemplified by the bloody and barbarous
conflict in Europe between Catholics and Protestants, a state of
affairs that culminated in the Thirty Year's War (1618 - 1648):
Thirty Year's War was a human catastrophe. It settled nothing, and
killed uncountable multitudes. One estimate says Germany's population
dropped from 18 million to 4 million. Hunger and deprivation followed.
Too few people remained to plant fields, rebuild cities, or conduct
education or commerce.
list all the atrocities committed by both sides is beyond the scope of
this work, so I shall confine my example to the outbreak of a wave of
terror in Ireland, 1642, when Irish Papists wrecked their savage and
bloody vengeance on English Protestants:
disaster helped break the historic entwinement of Christianity and
politics. The concluding Peace of Westphalia prescribed an end to the
Pope's control over civil governments. (4)
hung up women who were big with child, ripped open their bellies so the
infants dropped out, throwing these living babies to wild dogs. They
took the twelve-year-old child of one, Thomas Stratton, and boiled him
in a cauldron; while another youngster had his backbone broken and was
left in the fields to die slowly. (5)
course the fanatics, knowingly or unknowingly, were following the
example of their Bible, which contains accounts of entire cities, men,
women and even children being slaughtered at the Lord's command:
says the Lord of hosts, "I will punish what Amalek did to Israel in
opposing them on the way, when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and
smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare
them, but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling ox and sheep,
camel and ass." (1 Samuel 15:2-3)
for ripping unborn babies from their mother's womb — unfortunately,
this atrocity also has a Biblical precedent:
shall bear her guilt, because she rebelled against her God [by
worshipping other gods]; they shall fall by the sword, their little
ones shall be dashed in pieces, and their pregnant women ripped open.
the enemies of God, the sinful and those who decide to worship other
gods (even their children) deserve nothing but destruction by the
cruelest and most horrible means that can be devised. Clearly, there
are parts of the Bible that extremists can refer to in an attempt to
justify atrocities — if it's okay to kill the people of Amalek and
Samaria then it is okay to kill others whom they feel God is telling
them are just as deserving of death.
Enlightenment and the Humanization of Religion
decline of religious persecution in Europe began during The
Enlightenment, a period roughly corresponding with the middle of the
18th century, a period that was characterized by a flowering of
intellectual thought, particularly in France, whose aim was the
critical examination of accepted principles and authorities in the
field of politics, science and religion:
among the French Freethinkers was Voltaire, whose campaigns against
religious cruelty and injustice gave such cases international
notoriety. His tireless efforts, along with those of the other
Freethinkers proved highly influential, and their ideas helped to set
Western civilization on a more humane, tolerant, and rational path.
Christian Extremism and its Causes
Christian extremists still exist today, and would commit human rights
abuses if they had the chance. The focus of their hatred may have
shifted slightly, but the underlying sentiment remains the same, as
this quotation clearly shows:
enlightenment spiritualized the principle of religious authority,
humanized theological systems, and emancipated individuals from
physical coercion. It was the Enlightenment, not the Reformation or the
Renaissance that dislodged the ecclesiastical establishment from
central control of cultural and intellectual life. By emancipating
science from the trammels of theological tradition the Enlightenment
rendered possible the autonomous evolution of modem culture. Diderot
said, if you forbid me to speak on religion and government, I have
nothing to say. Hence natural science occupied the front of the stage.
of the philosophers wrote on natural science. To Diderot, d'Holbach and
the encyclopaedists all religious dogma was absurd and obscure.
LeMettrie and d'Holbach were consistent determinists. Voltaire
disagreed with them and said they had a dogmatism of their own. Diderot
too insisted on the free play of reason. But he was an unashamed pagan
and believed in a kind of pantheism or pan-psychisrn, not pure atheism
or materialism. He was humanistic, secular, modern and scientific. He
expected from his method a regeneration of mankind.
deism, however, was more pervasive in the Enlightenment. It emphasized
an impersonal deity, natural religion and the common morality of all
human beings. Deism was a logical outgrowth of scientific inquiry,
rational faith in humanity, and the study of comparative religion. All
religions could be reduced to worship God and a commonsense moral code.
There was a universal natural religion. (6)
the hardest core of the Religious Right are those who embrace
"reconstructionism," which advocates imposing a radically
fundamentalist interpretation of "Biblical law" onto American society.
On the September 4, 1998 Armstrong Williams talk show, Colorado
talk-radio personality Bob Enyard called for the death penalty for gays
and adulterers. Last year, a Christian radio talk-show host in Costa
Mesa, California said, "Lesbian love, sodomy are viewed by God as being
detestable and abominable. Civil magistrates are to put people to death
who practice these things." The announcer urged listeners to contact
legislators and ask that they enact capital punishment for
homosexuality. The station manager called the program "an honest
dialogue concerning Christian beliefs." Congressional candidate Randall
Terry, former head of Operation Rescue, extends this view of "Biblical
law" to include "Biblical slavery" and capital punishment for
rebellious teenagers. (7)
again, the Bible sets the tone, which the extremists unquestioningly
a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an
abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.
(Leviticus 20: 13)
who among my readers would care to live in a society ruled by fanatics
who believe it is acceptable to kill people just because of their
sexuality? How many of my readers, if they had a son or daughter who
was gay, would approve of them being put to death?
why are the fanatics so fanatical? Christianity in its traditional form
tends to focus on the concept of sin, the unworthiness of humanity and
the powerlessness of the human condition. Such beliefs can engender a
sense of low self esteem and dependency which, in turn, creates a need
in the believer to belong or identify with something greater than the
self in order to gain feelings of self worth (God loves me) and
empowerment (God is with me).
speaking, the monotheistic nature of Christianity fulfils the above
desires through an exclusivist theology — the belief that there is only
one god — a God above all others. Unfortunately, this concept of
exclusiveness, although fulfilling the individual's psychological needs
by belonging to a group perceived as special (the Elect, or chosen
few), can have negative consequences. This arises when religion becomes
central to the concept of self, for anything that is perceived as
threatening cherished beliefs threatens the self, and therefore can
engender a violent response.
addition, individuals who feel they, and they alone possess the Truth,
can have their judgment clouded by an attitude of disrespect, perhaps
even contempt, for beliefs different from their own. This in itself is
bad enough, but when it is combined with the idea that an invisible war
is raging between the forces of good and evil (personified by God and
the Devil); then the situation can become explosive.
given the dualistic nature of Christianity and the prominent position
of Satan in the religion's traditional theodicy, it is almost
inevitable that non-Christians and heretics come to be seen as the
enemies of God, an idea exacerbated by the concept of Hell:
monotheistic religions have historically taught that God will judge
people after death and send them either to Heaven or Hell. Many,
perhaps most people believe that they and their fellow believers will
end up in Heaven, and that most or all followers of other religions
will go to Hell. That is, God has such a low opinion of other religions
that he will have their followers tortured for all eternity without
hope of mercy or relief. If God hates followers of other religions so
intensely, then it may well be difficult for true believers to love and
value them. A variant of this mindset involves the Rapture: that
Christians who are saved will rise through the air to meet Jesus Christ
in the sky. The unsaved will remain on earth to experience the mass
slaughter — the largest genocide the world will have ever seen — during
the Tribulation. (8)
intolerance can arise through viewing the Bible as both literal and
inerrant: To fundamentalists the Truth has been revealed — Scripture is
the infallible Word of God, and for them that is the end of the debate.
They, the True Believers, are the chosen few, the divinely blessed, and
everyone else is wrong — simply mistaken at best, or at worst in league
with the Devil. Needless to say there can be little, if any reasoning
with people who have this attitude.
a literal interpretation of the Bible is a contributing factor in
religious intolerance, then what can be done? Perhaps the answer lies
in encouraging people who need religion to cultivate the following
of belief system, an individual IS no longer a "fundamentalist" when
unconditional self-esteem and (usually in consequence) an unconditional
love of others.
tolerance — even enjoyment — of ambiguity and diverse beliefs. One can
cheerfully live with the fact that one's neighbor on one side believes
that his little blue pickup truck is God and one's neighbor on the
other side doesn't believe in God at all, and feel no compulsion to
convert either of them. One is not frightened to question one's faith
or explore alternatives.
social and intellectual interaction with others, beyond — or even
without — evangelism.
trust that one can "figure things out," along with a willingness to
learn from others and to change one's mind.
faith that whatever the fluctuations in life and society, things can
and will get better.
feeling of personal responsibility and resolve to make it so.
sense of humor. (9)
the Bible is examined in the light of the above quotation, it becomes
clear that the authors of Scripture were, by and large, fundamentalists
at heart, and that later Christians, believing their opinions to be the
Word of God, adopted attitudes that hindered the emergence of the idea
in view of those massacres I have outlined it is impossible to claim
that passages of Scripture such as 1 Samuel 15:2-3 exemplify tolerance
and unconditional love for others. Secondly, social interaction with
those of different beliefs is actively discouraged:
not be mismated with unbelievers. For what partnership have
righteousness and iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
(2 Corinthians 6:14)
can be seen, all unbelievers are stereotyped as being evil purely on
the basis that they are non-Christians, which is hardly fair to any
reasonable minded person. Thirdly, learning form others together with
considering the possibility that one's own beliefs could be wrong are
completely rejected because the True Believer knows it all:
the anointing which you received from him abides in you, and you have
no need that anyone should teach you; as his anointing teaches you
about everything, and is true, and is no lie, just as it has taught
you, abide in him. (1 John 2:27)
efforts to make society a better place are negated by an emphasis on
slavish submission to injustice:
be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to the kind
and gentle but also to the overbearing. (l Peter 2:18)
submissive is all very well, but not to the point where people accept
injustice and inequality. If people hadn't fought against slavery this
dreadful institution would still be with us today.
very nature of traditional Christianity can engender intolerance in its
adherents. The religion's monotheistic and exclusivist theology,
combined with the idea of a vindictive deity who is at war with the
powers of darkness, tends to breed fear and hatred of other beliefs,
with those who follow them being seen as the enemies of God.
tolerance came about not through the rediscovery of pacifist principles
in Christianity, but through the efforts of the philosophers of the
Enlightenment and a grudging realization (after hundreds of years of
brutal conflict) by the various creeds that they couldn't exterminate
each other, and that the price of such attempts was far too high for
we consider the hindering effect traditional Christianity has had on
the progress of society towards tolerance, it is clear that all forms
of religion must be separated entirely from the sphere of education,
politics and science. The fanatics may rail against secular society,
but what they don't seem to realize is that it's secular society that
keeps the various creeds from each other's throats, and that's a good
thing for everybody.
what the fanatics need is a good dose of humility. None of them have
stood before God and looked upon his or her face, and when they do (if
there is a God and an afterlife) they might be in for a terrible
Kahl, Joachim page 63 in The Misery of Christianity, Penguin Books Ltd,
Christian Apology for the Crusades
Haught, James A. page 107 in Holy Horrors, Prometheus Books, New York,
Scott, George Riley page 94 in A History of Torture, Studio Editions
Ltd, London, 1995
Age of the Enlightenment
Anti-Gay Politics and the Religious Right:
Causes of Religious Intolerance
Freeman, Anita A Psychological Analysis of Fundamentalism
Kenneth Co., London, 1946 A Century for Freedom, Watts & Co.,
Bible (Revised Standard Version)
BIBLE ON TOLERANCE
Bible's advocacy of tolerance is easily demonstrated:
167, 2016 March)
"At a time when many societies interpreted physical disabilities
as divine punishments and even ostracized sufferers Jesus taught: "Go
out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the
poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame."" (Investigator #165)
himself is tolerant because: "God … has endured [or tolerated] with
much patience the objects of wrath that are made for destruction."
When slavery, nationalism and racism were the norm the New
Testament taught: "In that renewal [when Jesus is followed] there is no
longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian,
Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all." (Colossians
When Samaritans were despised Jesus associated with them and
included a "good" Samaritan in a parable. (John 4; Luke 10:29-37)
When Jews suffered from racism and oppression the Bible taught
"Salvation is from the Jews" and included Jews as "servants of our
God". (John 4:22; Romans 3:1-2; Revelation 7:3-5)
When upper classes got almost all the recognition Christianity
welcomed the poor. (James 2:1-9; Galatians 2:10)
When vengeance was normal the Bible introduced the God who
forgives and commanded, "Be imitators of God…" (Mark 11:25; Ephesians
When all nations warred and oppressed each other the Bible taught
that they all actually belong to the one, same big family. (Acts
Straughen (Investigator #166) claims, "from the very beginning the
church believed those who disagreed with its doctrines were evil merely
because they held contrary views."
the Bible teaches that all
people are morally defective because all
born that way. (Romans 3:9-20) This doctrine facilitates humility,
tolerance, and restraint. (Matthew 7:1-5)
biblical criterion for regarding people as "evil" is conduct not
"views". The Bible teaches that people will be judged by "what they
have done" (Revelation 20:13) not "by what they believed". Christ's
sacrifice for people's salvation covers non-Christians if they on their
own accord obey essential ethics. Paul says they may be "excused".
(Romans 2:15-16) It's a teaching that promotes tolerance.
calls John's warning (II John 7-11) against accepting "deceivers" and
anti-Christs into one's home "intolerant" and claims it leads to "the
next level" i.e. persecution.
modern countries face enemies that plot their destruction, they
suppress enemy propaganda. Baraniuk (2015) reports:
approach being used to tackle radicalization is the removal of web
content that promotes ISIS's message … more than 90,000 pieces of
terrorist-related material have been scrubbed off the web since 2011.
today not only exclude ISIS representatives from schools and homes but
scrub their propaganda off the Web!
and anti-Christs worked to destroy Christianity. And II John was
written after Emperor Nero had hundreds of Christians executed, many
burned to death. The exclusion of opposers from one's "home" without
further action against them is the epitome of tolerance, especially
since the following also applied:
that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to
one another and to all. (I Thessalonians 5:15)
implied claim that the vulnerable and oppressed should take no
precautions would be acceptable only to tyrants and criminals.
next introduces the "atrocities during the Crusades".
first point to make is that biblical Christians become such by personal
response to Christ and accepting biblical teaching. Many other
"Christians" are merely so-called and made no commitment:
so, many will follow their licentious ways, and because of these
teachers the way of truth will be maligned. (II Peter 2:2; Matthew
7:21-23; Jude 3-13)
one answer is to attribute atrocities to the pseudo Christians.
however, don't have a similar distinction. They don't teach that
atheists are good and evil atheists are pseudo atheists. Therefore,
when 20th-century atheistic regimes impoverished whole nations and
killed over 100 million people, much of the blame goes to their
ideology. Furthermore, crimes reported daily in newspapers — assaults,
drug use, rapes, burglaries, etc — are by people without respect for
God or biblical standards. Criminals live by the atheistic assumption
that if they can escape the law there is no retribution.
Bible teaches: "The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch
on the evil and the good." (Proverbs 15:3; 5:21) Psychological research
confirms that such a belief makes a difference. Marks (2013), for
example, reports that police are starting to use body-warn video
cameras because, "People in a brawl often calm down suddenly when told
they are being videoed…" Knowing that one is watched alters conduct,
helps suppress temptation.
second point regarding the Crusades is the Medieval world had very few
rules of war; the "Christians" merely did what others did:
rule of medieval war was "To the victor go the spoils." Loot and booty
were major motivating factors, especially for the common soldiers of
all armies. Hence, surrender agreements with cities usually provided
for very substantial settlements, which then were shared out. But when
cities were taken by storm, the spoils were obtained by looting. (Stark
2009, p. 158)
third point is that the Crusades responded to 400 years of Muslim
aggression that had conquered half the Christian world. Land not
conquered suffered perpetual slave raids so that many coastal areas of
Europe were abandoned. Statistics for that period are lacking but in
the 16th to 19th centuries European slaves numbered millions. In 1535
when Charles V of Spain invaded Tunis, he freed 20,000 Christian slaves
— 20,000 in just one city! (Stark 2004) At the apocalyptic naval battle
of Lepanto (1571) 15,000 Christian slaves of the Ottomans drowned but
another 15,000 were freed.
1786 when Thomas Jefferson negotiated with Tripoli's ambassador on
ending attacks on American ships the ambassador replied:
was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged
the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the
faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain
in this warfare was sure to go to paradise.
points apply to Catholic-Protestant conflicts — the perpetrators did
not follow the Bible or represent its ethics.
said "Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their
ancestors did to the false prophets." (Luke 6:26) The implication is
that when "Christians" are popular it will be because they have become
like the world around them, therefore followers of Christ in name but
not in conduct.
during the Medieval European wars the majority of people lived quiet
lives, worked their farms or trades, and raised their families.
Straughen's logic we should judge Australia by focusing on murderers,
rapists, torturers, plunderers, corrupt administrators, thieves and
pedophiles and argue: "Unfortunately, Australians not only killed
Aborigines and Japanese but also turned on each other…"
sort of logic repeats the error of Christopher Hitchens whom I answered
in #129 as follows:
his book God is Not Great
(2007) Hitchens argues that religion "poisons
everything", and to make this case he catalogues crimes and stupidities
of people professing to follow a religion…
we should also allow for the sort of world that dragged Medieval
Christianity down: In 793 Vikings raided the island of Lindisfarne off
NE England, destroyed the monastery, and murdered the monks. In the
following century Viking slave raids and pillage devastated villages
and towns from Ireland to Russia.
raiders came from Central Europe, invasion after invasion. After that
came the Mongols of whom White (2014) writes: "An estimated 40 million
people were killed under Khan's rule." That's 15% of the human race —
an era many times more violent, relatively speaking, than 1914 to 1945!
Plundering armies, recurring famines, disease epidemics, the
unavailability of Bibles, and almost universal illiteracy meant minimal
knowledge of the Scriptures.
world has thousands of Christian ministries that heal, educate, fight
poverty, and improve living standards. I have mentioned a few such
ministries (#118 pp 43-44, #126 p. 64, and #128 p. 6) but Hitchens
mentions none of them…
cataloguing game can be played using any category of people one chooses
— such as students, TV viewers, scientists, females, politicians,
doctors, car drivers, psychologists, etc — and then catalogue all the
bad and ignore all the good of that group…
book … is nonsense because his procedure can be used to demonize any
category of people whatsoever.
mentions Irish Papists ripping women's bellies open and claims:
course the fanatics … were following the example of their Bible, which
contains accounts of entire cities, men, women and children being
slaughtered at the Lord's command.
we read about men who kidnapped women and tortured and murdered them in
Australia we don't argue:
course the fanatics were following the example of Australia's military
which slaughtered and mutilated people in France, Africa, New Guinea
and other wars.
wars were not fought as examples to show how Australians should treat
each other; nor do historians write history to encourage more fighting.
Similarly, Old Testament history is not written to encourage warfare,
rather to discourage it.
what about the Amalakites whom "the LORD" ordered destroyed? (I Samuel
15:2-3) The Amalakites were the first to make unprovoked attacks on the
Israelites after the Exodus from Egypt. (Exodus 17:8-16; Deuteronomy
25:17-19) Amalakite attacks and pillage recurred for centuries and
eventually produced retaliation. Israelite warfare by the Law of Moses
was consistent with the rules of war at the time except that it avoided
rape, deliberate mutilation of captives, castration of males, and
working captives to death.
applicable today from the Amalakite events are:
The tolerance required to delay retribution for 4 centuries;
God won't tolerate evil forever, eventually time runs out.
argues: "As for ripping unborn babies form their mother's womb —
unfortunately, this atrocity also has a biblical precedent." He cites
the prophecy in Hosea 13:16 of what would happen to Samaria i.e. the
northern kingdom of Israel and claims "Distressingly, the enemies of
God … deserve nothing but destruction by the cruelest most horrible
means that can be devised."
13:16 was a prophecy of what the Assyrians would do. It was a
prediction and statement of fact — it was not a command.
there is a warning for today's world in what Assyria did to Israel,
which is that the long-term rejection of God has terrible consequences
which God has no obligation to prevent.
in his zeal to demonize the Bible, makes an error six-year-olds usually
avoid – he confuses statements of fact with imperatives (commands).
Consider: When historians describe how atheists killed 20% of
Cambodia's population in the 1970s do the historians intend such
information to be a "precedent" for other atheists to imitate? Are
historians distressingly teaching that, "Cambodians deserve nothing but
destruction by the cruelest most horrible means"?
misrepresentation by Straughen after 20 years of evidence on the
Bible's accuracy and its benevolent impact indicates he is in a dark
attributes the decline of religious persecution to "Freethinkers" who
"helped to set Western civilization on a more humane, tolerant and
whatever humane principles such men advocated were already in the Bible
and taught in thousands of churches because Genesis 18:18 foretold
"blessing to all the nations of the earth" to come through the
descendants of Abraham i.e. Jesus and Christianity. (Acts 3:25-26)
back cover of The Victory of Reason
Stark advances … that Christianity and its related institutions are
directly responsible for the most significant, political, scientific,
and economic breakthroughs of the past millennium. Christian theology,
Stark asserts, is the very font of reason. Among the world's great
monotheistic traditions, Christianity alone embraced logic and
deductive thinking as the path toward enlightenment, freedom and
back cover of What If Jesus Had
Never Been Born (1994) says:
and Newcombe … irrefutably demonstrate how Jesus' life has helped
reshape the world for good.
back cover of The Book That Made
Your World (2011) says:
there is one book that has shaped Europe's art, architecture, commerce,
education, ethics, family life, freedom, government, healthcare, law,
language, literature, music, politics, science, social reform, and much
more, it is the Bible.
cites certain American extremists and writes:
again, the Bible sets the tone, which the extremists unquestioningly
a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an
abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them."
asks "But who … would care to live in a society ruled by fanatics who
believe it is acceptable to kill people just because of their
it wasn't their sexuality, rather homosexual sexual activity as part of
Canaanite religious ritual. Furthermore, Leviticus 20 was part of the
Law of Moses limited to Israelites and Israel. At Jesus' death the
whole world became God's people and this new situation required new
laws. The New Testament excludes homosexuals who lack self-control from
fellowship (I Corinthians 5:13) and otherwise requires Christians to
set them a good example. That's amazingly tolerant!
topic deserves further analysis but for now remember that AIDS,
initially spread by homosexuals, brought national economies to the
brink of ruin and made millions of children fatherless! Christian
charities, not atheist charities, acted to help the orphans.
next claims that the Christian "exclusivity" of belief in "one God" and
the focus on sin produces "low self esteem".
to rationally demonstrate from scientific discoveries that one Almighty
God exists is not easy. Can Straughen prove the real existence of the
other supernatural gods that he implies people should believe in?
the Bible focuses on sin to reduce its power and help people replace
sin with "good works" — and that produces high self esteem. And it is
"inclusivity" not "exclusivity" because everyone is invited.
Straughen really think that people who cave in to practicing
immorality, racism, gambling, lying speech, pedophilia, cowardice,
selfishness, laziness, hatred, illegal drug-use, drunkenness and other
sins have great self esteem?
claims "all unbelievers are stereotyped as being evil purely on the
basis that they are non-Christians, which is hardly fair..." He cites
II Corinthians 6:14
not be mismated with unbelievers. For what partnership have
righteousness and iniquity? Or What fellowship has light with darkness"
not just unbelievers but everyone has evil tendencies by birth and,
"All have sinned and fall short…" (Romans 3:9-23; 5:12)
Bible counsels Christians to limit their social interaction with
non-believers because it is difficult to give up ingrained evils and
rise to the standards of God. But once achieved, it is easy to fall
back down. It is easier to gamble if surrounded by gamblers, easier to
rob if a member of a gang, easier to practice homosexuality if
surrounded by homosexuals, and easier to take illegal drugs if one's
are morally distractible but biblical counsel counteracts this
weakness. Countless psychological studies on peer pressure and
interpersonal influence confirm the following:
not be deceived; Bad
company ruins good morals. (I Corinthians 15:33)
cites The Misery of Christianity
which says: "During the first four
centuries of Christianity, Christians sent one another to hell purely
during the first four centuries it was idol-worshippers who "sent
people to hell" with horrors that Christians, relying on the
Scriptures, opposed — such as infanticide, mutilation of infants,
slavery that worked people to death, "sacred" sex, crucifixions,
torture, forced fighting in amphitheatres, and more. In Roman arenas
millions died — in the Colosseum alone 700,000 — until Christians got
the practice banned.
meanwhile, introduced an early equivalent of the age-pension (I Timothy
5:9-10), they purchased the freedom of Christian slaves, and in the 4th
century organized hospitals, orphanages and even a home for blind
1619 a Dutch ship brought 20 Negroes to North America:
colonists needed those slaves and at first treated them more as bond
servants with a chance to gain freedom by working off their
"indentures" in the same way as white bond servants… (Demaris 1971)
Negro numbers grew: "They were no longer looked upon as indentured
servants but as slaves for life." (ibid)
institutionalization of slavery ignored the Bible which teaches that
great evils have small beginnings. Eventually millions of Negroes were
enslaved, deprived of education, often sexually abused, and hanged or
whipped if they rebelled — finally requiring a Civil War with 600,000
deaths to free them.
I'll consider a paradox:
the intolerant are tolerated, they may prevail and make an end to
toleration. But if they are not tolerated, one has already made an end
to toleration. (Dictionary of Philosophy 2005)
Bible's solution distinguishes major sins from misjudgments with less
serious consequences. The former should be opposed, and the latter
forgiven. The dividing line is not clear-cut and depends on individual
ability to forgive or be "long–suffering".
Christian ideal is to be intolerant of evil in oneself and work for its
reduction in society, but tolerant of others' moral weaknesses.
Straughen, however, wants tolerance for its own sake without
distinguishing whether what is tolerated is destructive or productive.
Slavery deserves intolerance.
accuses the Bible of "slavish submission to injustice" because it says
"servants be submissive to your masters". That was answered in
Investigator's slavery debate
#76-#84. Runaway slaves in the Roman
Empire could be crucified whereas outstanding service often led to
innumerable slaves were freed for good service. Masters in Rome
constantly spurred on their slaves to work hard by offers of bonuses
with which they could buy their freedom… Roman slaves were often able
to secure that they were well treated. Many had hours of recreation
during the afternoon, and might have found the week of forty hours in
the twentieth century irksome. (Thomas 1981)
19th century abolitionists were Bible believers.
Britain William Wilberforce (1759-1833) worked for the abolition of the
slave trade in Britain, achieved in 1807. He authored A Practical View
of Christianity (1797).
Stephen (1794–1879) worked to abolish slavery throughout the British
Empire (achieved in 1833) and authored A Life of Christ.
America influential abolitionists included:
John Rankin (1793-1886): Presbyterian minister.
Samuel Gridley Howe (1801-1876): A lifelong Unitarian who besides
abolition of slavery worked for prison and school reform, Greek and
Armenian foreign relief, and founded Perkins School for the Blind.
Charles Sumner (1811-1874): Episcopalian Senator from
Massachusetts who wanted "a society where knowledge virtue and religion
took precedence". (Wikipedia)
Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887: Congregational minister.
Angelina Emily Grimké Weld (1805-1879): Wikipedia says:
"Drawing her views from natural rights theory … the Constitution,
Christian beliefs in the Bible, and her own experience of slavery and
racism in the South, she argued for the injustice of denying freedom to
any man or woman..."
Julia Ward Howe (1819–1910): Author of The Battle Hymn of the
Republic (1862) which inspired Union troops during the Civil War
includes the words: "As He died to make men holy, let us live to make
men free." An article titled "Christianity and Reform" which Julia Howe
wrote for Friends' Intelligencer
(Volume 27, 1870, No. 22) reveals her
respect for the Bible.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865): Signed the Proclamation of
Emancipation that freed the slaves. Lincoln was a believer:
I am not a member of any Christian Church, is true; but I have never
denied the truth of the Scriptures…"
Christianity still leads the way. "Anti Slavery International" founded
by Thomas Clarkson and Thomas Buxton in 1839 is still active. Newcomers
are the "Walk Free Foundation" (Andrew & Nicola Forrest) and
"Global Freedom Network".
1846 Handbill Replying to Charges of Infidelity)
the good the Saviour gave to the world was communicated through this
book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most
desirable for man's welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found
portrayed in it."
1864 Spoken when presented a Bible)
Bible emphasizes knowledge — Proverbs 1:7, 22, 29; 2:6-11; 3:19-20;
15:2, 14. Fittingly, therefore, books and free education for the poor
were Christian initiatives.
[early Christians] were to an unusual extent a book-buying and
book-reading people. They were also a translating and publishing
people… [In 140 C.E.) Christian publishers … resorted to the leaf-book
form, the codex, and found it so practical … and convenient that it
became their characteristic book form.
the Great (1849-900) "established a school at court to teach the
children of the nobility alongside his own children and poorer children
who showed great promise." (Phillips 2015) Alfred "initiated a
programme of education far ahead of its time." (Jones 1989)
1382 Bishop William Wykeham founded Winchester College and in 1384
Katherine Berkeley founded Wotton grammar school. Both offered free
education to boys. By the 19th century schools numbered hundreds and
included girl-only schools. (Orme 2010)
and the "leaf-book form" became a "blessing to all the nations of the
began in Christianity in the 13th century. (Haskins 1957)
University of Adelaide, "ranked among the top one per cent of
universities worldwide", which I attended, began with a ₤20,000
donation in 1872 by a Presbyterian Christian, Walter Watson Hughes
(1803-1887). He was influenced in his donation by his minister Rev.
James Lyall (1827-1905) as well as Rev. James Jefferis (a
scientists have a university education and modern science itself began
in Christianity. Two scientists among many were:
Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727): A Unitarian and the "father of
Gregor Mendel (1822-1884): A Catholic monk who laid the
foundations of genetics which transformed 20th century medicine and
science came modern technology. Cyrus Hall McCormick (1809-1884)
invented the mechanical reaper, an idea he attributed to God. With 6000
sold in 1861 his reapers supplied the nation with wheat when millions
of farm-workers transferred to the army.
science has gone worldwide and the proportional Christian contribution
is reduced but still occurs. Francis S. Collins, author of The Language
of God (2008), was the director of the Human Genome Project.
the Great (1849-900) revised English law, basing his law code partly on
the Bible. Phillips (2015) writes that Alfred's law code took:
"measures to protect the weak against corruption and oppression."
law developed further, eventually took effect throughout the British
Empire, and promoted the humanization of the human race — a "blessing
to all the nations."
WORK AND CHARITY
Clarissa Barton (1821–1912): Opened a free school for 600
children, worked on Civil War battlefields as an independent nurse,
founded the Office of Missing Soldiers, and founded the American Red
Cross and the National First Aid Society. Barton's parents were of the
Universalist Church and she identified as a Universalist.
Reverend John Flynn (1880-1951): Started the Royal Flying Doctor
Service in Australia in 1928.
Edward Chad Varah (1911-2007): British Anglican priest who
founded the Samaritans in 1953, the world's first crisis hotline
Eileen Lodge: A British Christian nurse who established the Nepal
Leprosy Trust in 1972. The NLT''s largest venture is Lalgadh Services
Centre which sees 65,000 patients yearly.
In Australia the Anglican Church introduced marriage guidance by
trained counsellors after WWII. Originally based on the "sanctity of
marriage" the idea soon went secular. ("Compass" TV documentary, 14
millions of Christian ministries improve lives worldwide. On a webpage
listing organized faith-based "Children's Charities" in Zimbabwe I
ministries that are household words include World Vision, Christian
Blind Mission International, Mercy Ships, Cure International,
Christians Against Poverty, Global Mission Partners, and Frontier
small local efforts I asked at several churches: One person helps
organize social get-togethers for the intellectually handicapped. Two
conduct their "Kerbside Ministry", collecting bicycles householders
throw out, repair them, and ship them to Africa. Another organizes
monthly lunch meetings and visiting speaker for retired men. Others
help 1,000 Cambodians whom the government forced to relocate, to build
"all have sinned and fall short" Bible critics are often motivated by
personal sins, which become their idols, their substitutes for God,
which they tolerate when intolerance would be better.
Ignore that their high living standards originated because
Christians followed the Bible;
Misrepresent Scripture to create prejudice against it;
Look at lapsed Christians for excuses.
the prophecy is fulfilled:
who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky and those who
lead many to righteousness, like the stars… (Daniel 12:3; Philippians
C. Anti-recruitment drive, New
Scientist, 27 June, 2015, 18-19
O. 1971 America The Violent,
E. 1940 Christianity Goes to Press,
C.H. 1957 The Rise of Universities,
Cornell University Press
B. 1989 The Macmillan Dictionary of
Biography, Third Edition, Macmillan
J. & Newcombe, J. 1994 What If
Jesus Had Never Been Born? Word
V. 2011 The Book That Made Your World,
P. Police, camera, action, New
Scientist, 26 October 2013, p. 21
T. 2005 Dictionary of Philosophy,
N. The First Free Schools, BBC
History, Christmas 2010, 47-49
C. 2015 50 Leaders Who Changed
History, Quantum Books
R. 2004 For The Glory Of God,
R. 2005 The Victory of Reason,
R. 2009 God's Battalions The Case
For The Crusades, Harper-Collins
H. 1981 An Unfinished History of the
World, Pan Books, 109-110
F. Lord of War Khan, All About
History, 2014, No. 17, 50-59
Bible on Tolerance — A Reply
Investigator No 167 Anonymous responds to my article in the previous
issue and outlines his defence of the Bible. Because of the
wide range of subjects covered by him my reply must necessarily
be brief, and will examine only a limited number of points.
page 25 Anonymous appears to be claiming that deceivers and
antichrists who work to destroy Christianity were meant to be
merely excluded from Christian society rather than actively persecuted.
consider 2 John 1:7: "For many deceivers have gone out into
the world, men who will not acknowledge the coming of Jesus
Christ in the flesh; such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist."
who deny Jesus by this definition are antichrists, and are therefore
either knowingly or unknowingly in league with the devil
— the enemy of God.
168, 2016 May)
The Jews have experienced the brunt of
Christian intolerance and persecution primarily because they do
not believe that Jesus is, the Son of God — the True Messiah. Here
is a brief list of the persecutions they were subjected to because
of their unbelief:
Synod of Elvira (306): prohibited intermarriage and sexual
intercourse between Christians and Jews, and prohibited
them from eating together.
Councils of Orleans (533-541): prohibited marriages between
Christians and Jews and forbade the conversion
to Judaism by Christians.
Trulanic Synod (692): prohibited Christians from being treated
by Jewish doctors.
Synod of Narbonne (1050): prohibited Christians from living
in Jewish homes.
Synod of Gerona (1078): required Jews to pay taxes to support
Third Lateran Council (1179): prohibited certain medical care to
be provided by Christians to Jews.
Fourth Lateran Council (1215): required Jews to wear special
clothing to distinguish them from Christians.
Council of Basel (1431-1443): forbade Jews to attend universities,
from acting as agents in the conclusion of contracts
between Christians, and required that they attend
church sermons. (1)
goes on to claim that people are judged as evil by what
they' have done rather than their views. However, consider
John 3:18 — "He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not
believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name
of the only Son of God."
your view is that Jesus is not the Son of God then you will be condemned.
Again, consider Matthew 5:28 — "But I say to you that
everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed
adultery with her in his heart." So, we can see that a person doesn't
have to do anything physically to be considered evil. A mental act,
whether it is to deny the divinity of Jesus or to have lustful thoughts
is sinful and therefore evil, and in Psalm 5:5 it says of God: "Thou
hatest all evildoers."
don't think Anonymous' reference to Nero helps his argument with regard
to 2 John 7. Nero's name isn't mentioned, nor specifically the
persecution. The statement is unqualified and applies to all
regard to Anonymous' comments on the atrocities committed
by the Crusaders: He appears to be saying that those
who committed such crimes weren't true Christians (pseudo
Christians, as he calls them], and it seems to me that this
is a version of the No True Scotsman argument, which can
defined as follows:
a universal ("all", "every", etc.) claim is refuted, rather than
conceding the point or meaningfully revising the claim, the
claim is altered by going from universal to specific, and failing
to give any objective criteria for the specificity
Members of the UbaTuba White Men's Club are upstanding
citizens of the community.
is a very common form of this fallacy that has many variations.
Every time one group member denounces another
group member for doing or saying something that they don't approve of,
usually by the phrase, "he is not really a true [insert membership
here]", this fallacy is committed.
universal claim here is that no UbaTuba White Men's Club
will ever (universal) go to jail. Marvin points out how, clearly this
is counterfactual as there are many UbaTuba White Men's Club members in
of conceding or meaningfully revising the claim, the implication that
no "UbaTuba White Men's Club" is changed to "no true UbaTuba White
Men's Club members", which is not meaningful because John's definition
of a "true UbaTuba White Men's Club member", apparently can only be
demonstrated in the negative if an UbaTuba White Men's Club member goes
to jail. This results in the questionable cause
fallacy as it is also an unfalsifiable, and of course, it commits
the no true Scotsman fallacy. (2)
the persecution and atrocities committed against Jews, 'Muslims
and heretics weren't committed by Christians, then who
committed these crimes — Martians, perhaps? No, I'm not being
sarcastic, I'm merely pointing out these crimes were committed by
Christians — not the type of Christians Anonymous
or I would care to shake hands with, but Christians nonetheless.
goes on to state that the Christian knights committed
atrocities because this was standard military procedure,
so to speak. However, there are also similar atrocities
in the Bible as I have pointed out, so we can also say they were
following the Bible. The Bible reflects the age in which it was
written, true. However, I don't think these crimes and attitudes are in
any way excusable just because they were typical of the times.
page 33 Anonymous denies that fundamentalist Christianity's
focus on sin has detrimental consequences for believers.
The idea of sin is a control mechanism that fundamentalist
religious leaders use to manipulate the faithful. Former
fundamentalists have an insight into this process as shown
Then why are there so many of these members in Jail?
They were never true UbaTuba White Men's Club members.
What's a true UbaTuba White Men's Club member?
Those who don't go to jail.
fundamentalism, there are those who believe a doctrine
of "once saved, always saved," also called "eternal security."
This means that once you are born again, you are permanently
a part of God's family...
anxiety of this doctrine is determining whether you were
ever truly saved. Especially for those whom did not have
a dramatic experience of rebirth, this belief is not much comfort.
Believers work hard at making salvation "take" and blame
themselves for not believing enough or not being humble
enough to be accepted...
other side of this doctrinal issue is the "holiness" camp. These
groups believe that a believer must be faithful. One's place
among the saved can be lost. The idea is that salvation is
a continuous process, based on the Apostle Paul's admonition
to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling"
(Philippians 2:12). They say that God wants loyalty;
sending Jesus to die on the cross was an immense gift.
So believers cannot simply do whatever they like, dishonour
God, and expect to walk into heaven.
can be expected, fundamentalists in this camp experience anxiety about
their daily lives. Thoughts and behaviours must be acceptable at all
times because there is the ever-present danger of going past the line
into damnation. They still believe God will forgive sin, so regular
repentance is important. However, the rules are fuzzy; no one knows
where the line is. Furthermore, many believe it is not enough just to
not sin; you must be "on fire" for God. In Revelation
3:16 Jesus is quoted as saying "Because you are lukewarm,
and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my
mouth." So believers worry about not having enough enthusiasm.
Yet no one knows what "lukewarm" really means.
can be seen in fundamentalist Christianity the concept of sin and
the fear of divine punishment can have a damaging effect on
on page 39 Anonymous closes his reply with the following
claim: "Such critics [of the Bible] are often motivated by
personal sins the Bible condemns, which have been their substitutes
for God, which they tolerate when intolerance would
ask my readers to consider the following paraphrase of the above:
"Critics of the Koran are often motivated by personal sins
the Koran condemns, which have been their substitutes for Allah, which
they tolerate when intolerance would be better."
someone criticises the Koran, can we dismiss their criticisms as
shown above? In my opinion the idea that criticism of a holy book
is motivated by the sins of the critic is simply a defensive
Page 65 - 66 in Winell, M. Leaving
the Fold, New Harbinger
Publications, Oakland, 1993.
Bible (Revised Standard Version)
Investigator #167 I showed
that the Bible teaches tolerance and has
made the whole world more tolerant.
Straughen (Investigator #168) poses some more objections.
170, 2016 September)
JEWS AND COUNCILS
(#168) supplies a list of prohibitions imposed on Jews by various
Church synods and councils from 305 CE to 1443 CE and suggests they
followed II John 7: "For
many deceivers have gone out into the world, men who will not
acknowledge the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh; such a one is the
deceiver and the antichrist."
does not mean "Jews" but refers to men who went "out into the world" by
deserting Christianity and then try to subvert the faith of others. (I
purpose for warning against antichrists is not to persecute them but to
put Christians "on your guard": "Be
on your guard, so that you do not lose what we have worked for, but may
receive a full reward." (II John 8)
warning to be "on guard" against traitors and deceivers who seek
converts to their cause is hardly "intolerance". Compare Government
response to ISIS propaganda regarding which Baraniuk (2015) writes:
"Another approach being used to tackle radicalization is the removal of
web content that promotes ISIS's message..."
make the Bible appear to teach intolerance Straughen has widened the
concept and made self-protection against threat equivalent to
quote my previous comment (#167) regarding Jews:
Jews suffered racism and oppression the Bible taught "Salvation is from
the Jews" and included Jews as "servants of our God. (John 4:22; Romans
3:1-2; Revelation 7:3-5)
various Church councils did right or wrong in imposing restrictions
would depend on the circumstances.
Jesus foretold that real Christians and imitations would "grow
together" (Matthew 13:30) it is possible that some Church councils or
members thereof were "imitations" and acted contrary to biblical
I do is investigate the ethical and scientific accuracy of the Bible
but do not defend all who claim to be Christians. This is comparable to
someone who praises Australia's high living standards and fair laws but
is not obligated to defend every Australian criminal.
persecution Jews suffered from supposed "Christians" centuries ago was
exceeded by non-Christians in the 1940s. During the 1940s some
Christians assisted Jews and some even suffered the death penalty for
continues to look at the "mud" for excuses rather than the "stars" for
inspiration. (Daniel 12:3)
Bible is clear that people will be judged by their actions, by "what
they have done":
all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each
may receive recompense for what he has done in the body, whether good
or evil. (II Corinthians 5:10).
claims that belief alone condemns a person and cites John 3:18 — "He
who believes in him [Christ] is not condemned; he who does not believe
is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the
only Son of God."
3:18 agrees with the doctrine that "all are sinners" and God's
arrangement to save people from the consequences is Jesus. John 3:18 is
not about beliefs in general but about whether or not we accept the
method for our rescue. If we don't accept we're in a condition of
condemnation or "condemned".
were judged according to what they had done. (Revelation 20:13)
Straughen may appreciate the point better
if we apply words similar to John 3:18 to a sinking ship and lifeboat
who believes in the lifeboat is not condemned because the lifeboat can
save him, but he who does not believe is condemned already because he
does not believe in the method of escape.
already" expresses the certainty of dire consequences. It is not a
command to persecute non-believers but a reason to share the truth that
could rescue them.
also thinks Matthew 5:28 — "I [Jesus] say to you that
everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed
adultery with her in his heart" — disagrees with biblical teaching that
people will be judged "by what they have done".
and adultery are behaviours many people "have done". In Mathew 5:28
Jesus is teaching how to avoid lust and adultery, which they can do by
thinking about something else. Avoid wrong thoughts and wrong conduct
claims that to argue that not all Christians are genuine Christians is
"a version of the No True Scotsman argument":
a universal claim is refuted, rather than conceding the point or
meaningfully revising the claim, the claim is altered by going from
universal to specific, and failing to give any objective criteria for
is unclear what "universal claim" Straughen thinks is being revised.
That not all who profess to follower Jesus are genuine has been obvious
since Judas Iscariot and is predicted in the New Testament. (Matthew
7:21-23; Acts 20:29-30)
than judge other people's motivations — something only God can do
accurately — individuals should monitor themselves:
do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log
in your own eye? (Matthew 7:1-5)
in a situation where I simply must decide which "Christians" are
genuine I would provisionally pick people who:
if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive
themselves. All must test their own work… (Galatians 6:3-5)
Profess to believe the Bible;
Profess to accept Jesus as God's means for salvation;
Have a record of "good works" that benefit others;
Are not associated with "false prophets";
Avoid committing "sins" that exclude from "God's Kingdom" —
Revelation 21:8; I Corinthians 5:9-13; 6:9-10.
claims that the Crusaders committed similar atrocities as in the Old
Testament and were merely following the Old Testament. This has two
There is no biblical command to re-enact Old Testament wars since
orders addressed to troops during wartime do not apply after the war is
over. In WWI Australian troops killed thousands of Germans but any
Australian who treats these past events as commands to kill Germans
today would be imprisoned.
the Crusades: The First Crusade (1095 CE) was not a war of conquest but
responded to an appeal by Emperor Alexius of Byzantium to the Pope to
save Byzantium from Muslim aggression.
(2012) says the First Crusade was, "a last-ditch effort to save the
The Crusades were not based on Israel's wars with Canaanites —
Straughen needs re-read our discussion on Canaan in #132-135.
to the Old Testament God's long term agenda is to "bless all the
nations of the Earth" and elevate them to the situation of power and
prosperity where "nothing will be impossible". Idol worshipping
Canaanites who went on slave raids, practiced human sacrifice, added
sexual rituals to their idol worship and wanted to exterminate
monotheism could never "bless all the nations". The destruction of
Sodom and Gomorrah demonstrated the asteroid threat the world faces.
Nations that worshipped idols made no progress toward thwarting such
threat, but the line from Abraham, to Christ, to Christianity and
science may soon be able to! This indicates planning 4000 years ahead,
by the God the Bible calls "Yahweh". That's the broad context of
Israel's wars with Canaanites — world prosperity and human survival.
The Crusades delayed Byzantium's collapse by three
centuries with the unforeseen but happy consequence that Byzantine
scholarship and manuscripts permeated Europe and boosted the beginning
of modern science and technology. Without any Crusades Byzantium would
have fallen earlier and Europe suffered centuries of forced
conversions, beheadings, crucifixions, protection tax (i.e. extortion),
kidnapping, slavery and "Sharia" law — as happened in Spain. And we
wouldn't have modern science.
wants to judge Christian tolerance or otherwise by entering broad
topics of history. However, the objective way to judge is by:
Biblical commands that apply today;
Christians who do their best to follow Christ's example;
The benefits from Christianity including modern science and
medicine, and millions of Christian charities and ministries.
quotes "former Fundamentalists" who claim that Fundamentalists are
anxious about their salvation, because the boundaries of acceptable
conduct are unclear and they may prove unworthy, and therefore, says
Straughen, "the concept of sin … can have a damaging effect on the
legal systems also have unclear boundaries — which is why innumerable
conflicts must be settled in courts. The alternative is to describe all
imaginable circumstances and define the conduct that is right in every
I explained in #167, p. 33 the Bible focuses on sin to reduce its power
and help people replace sin with "good" works. To progressively remove
from one's conduct immorality, racism, gambling, cowardice,
selfishness, laziness, hatred, illegal drugs, drunkenness and
dishonesty produces self-esteem not "damage".
Straughen labels as "defensive rationalization" my claim that "critics
of the Bible are often motivated by personal sins".
claim is not "rationalization" but true by observation and "cognitive
Psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort
experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory
beliefs, ideas or values, performs an action that is contradictory to
one or more beliefs, ideas, or values, or is confronted by new
information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.
Leon Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance focuses on how humans
strive for internal consistency.
person who has character defects criticized in the Bible but thinks
himself good will experience "dissonance" when confronted with biblical
standards. If unwilling to undergo self-improvement, he will either
strive to refute the Bible, or turn away, to maintain his "internal
consistency". Jesus explained:
all who do evil hate the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed.
But those who do what is true come to the light… (John 3:20-21)
"critics of the Bible are often motivated by personal sins".
C. Anti-recruitment drive, New
Scientist, 27 June, 2015, 18-19
P. The View from the East, History
Today, September 2012, 38-45
has contributed articles to Investigator
His agenda is evidently to prove the Bible true, and it's all on this