Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Don Johnson: six reasons why people reject Christianity

Here’s a post on practical evangelism by Christian scholar Don Johnson.

His list of reasons why people often reject Christianity:

  1. Christians behaving badly
  2. Disappointment with God
  3. Weak or absent father
  4. Social pressure
  5. Cost of discipleship
  6. Immorality (especially sexual immorality)

And here’s the detail on #6:

Of all the motivations and reasons for skepticism that I encounter, immorality is easily the most common. In particular, sexual sin seems to be the largest single factor driving disbelief in our culture. Brant Hanson calls sex “The Big But” because he so often hears this from unbelievers: “’I like Jesus, BUT…’ and the ‘but’ is usually followed, one way or the other, with an objection about the Bible and… sex. People think something’s deeply messed-up with a belief system that says two consenting, unmarried adults should refrain from sex.” In other words, people simply do not want to follow the Christian teaching that sexual intercourse should take place only between and man and woman who are married, so they throw the whole religion out.

The easiest way to justify sin is to deny that there is a creator to provide reality with a nature, thereby denying that there is any inherent order and purpose in the universe.

Aldous Huxley admitted that this is a common reason for skepticism:

I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently I assumed that it had none and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption…. Those who detect no meaning in the world generally do so because, for one reason or another, it suits their books that the world should be meaningless. …

For myself as, no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was …liberation from … a certain system of morality.  We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom…. There was one admirably simple method in our political and erotic revolt: We could deny that the world had any meaning whatsoever. Similar tactics had been adopted during the eighteenth century and for the same reasons. (Ends and Means, 270-273)

Indeed, similar tactics have been used extensively up to the present day. If you are looking for two great resources that document the extent to which the work of the world’s “great” atheistic thinkers has been “calculated to justify or minimize the shame of their own debauchery,” (Spiegel, 72) I recommend Intellectuals by Paul Johnson and Degenerate Moderns: Modernity as Rationalized Sexual Misbehavior by E. Michael Jones. The bottom line is that these skeptical scholars didn’t reach their conclusions by following the evidence where it led. They didn’t “discover” that the world was meaningless and then proceed to live accordingly. They lived sinful lives (usually involving some type of sexual deviancy) and then produced theories that justified their actions.

It’s important to understand that an atheist is not identical to a Christian, except not religious. There is something else going on in their minds when they reject very obvious evidences like the origin of the universe, the cosmic fine-tuning, the origin of life, the Cambrian explosion, the habitability arguments, etc. The something else that is going on is hinted at when you look at atheist attitudes to abortion. According to a recent survey of atheists, 97% of them were pro-abortion!

What kind of person likes abortion? The kind of person who wants to be sexually active with no consequences, even if it means taking someone else’s life. The desire to do as they please and retreat from obligations to others is the key. Now dispensing with God and his obligations is not an unreasonable view if there is no evidence for God, but it does provide a motive for people to not look for that evidence if happiness is their main goal. When I discuss these issues with atheists, I find that no work has been done to read anything. Not even debates, where there are two sides. They don’t want to hear the case for Christian theism, and they work hard to avoid stumbling across it by accident, too.

God and the cosmic authority problem

Tough Questions Answered has a quote from Christian philosopher Paul Moser that I think is relevant:

It would be a strange, defective God who didn’t pose a serious cosmic authority problem for humans.  Part of the status of being God, after all, is that God has a unique authority, or lordship, over humans.  Since we humans aren’t God, the true God would have authority over us and would seek to correct our profoundly selfish ways.

So we’re not dealing with unbiased truth-seekers here. The goal might not always be sex, but let’s be honest. Who wants to have to spend time reading the Bible, praying, going to church and reading thick books by Stephen C. Meyer, Michael Licona and Hugh Ross so that we can answer questions? No one. Who wants to give up premarital sex so that we can create a stable marriage for children so they can grow up in a safe place where knowing God is natural and easy? No one. We just don’t want to have to do stuff for God, even if it’s good stuff. We don’t want to have build a life that is a testament to God’s existence and character, especially if it means that other people will think that we are weird and maybe even a bit mean. We want to do what we want to do instead, and be liked by other people.

That’s the real challenge of Christianity: setting aside what you wanted to do, and letting God be your customer, instead. You’d be surprised how many Christians aren’t comfortable with the idea of serving God and being viewed in a bad way by non-Christians. They aren’t OK with the self-sacrifice, and they are really not OK with the social disapproval. It’s hard to be chaste, and to be known to be chaste by your peers, for example. Much easier to just give in and do what everyone else is doing.

Let’s illustrate with C.S. Lewis

And here’s a relevant quote from C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters” to illustrate:

You must have often wondered why the enemy [God] does not make more use of his power to be sensibly present to human souls in any degree he chooses and at any moment. But you now see that the irresistible and the indisputable are the two weapons which the very nature of his scheme forbids him to use. Merely to over-ride a human will (as his felt presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for him useless. He cannot ravish. He can only woo. For his ignoble idea is to eat the cake and have it; the creatures are to be one with him, but yet themselves; merely to cancel them, or assimilate them, will not serve…. Sooner or later he withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all supports and incentives. He leaves the creature to stand up on its own legs—to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish…. He cannot “tempt” to virtue as we do to vice. He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away his hand…. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.

— Uncle Screwtape, in The Screwtape Letters

I’m not a big fan of Lewis, but I think he is onto something there. That’s really what the Christian life is like, and no wonder more people don’t choose it. Who wants to do your duty for God, as part of a relationship with him, in a universe that seems so unfair? It’s a tall order, and most people prefer to do their own thing instead of building something nice for God with their lives.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Is the story of the woman being stoned for adultery in John 7-8 authentic?

Here’s the leading conservative New Testament scholar Daniel Wallace to explain.

Excerpt:

One hundred and forty years ago, conservative biblical scholar and Dean of Canterbury, Henry Alford, advocated a new translation to replace the King James Bible. One of his reasons was the inferior textual basis of the KJV. Alford argued that “a translator of Holy Scripture must be…ready to sacrifice the choicest text, and the plainest proof of doctrine, if the words are not those of what he is constrained in his conscience to receive as God’s testimony.” He was speaking about the Trinitarian formula found in the KJV rendering of 1 John 5:7–8. Twenty years later, two Cambridge scholars came to the firm conclusion that John 7:53–8:11 also was not part of the original text of scripture. But Westcott and Hort’s view has not had nearly the impact that Alford’s did.

For a long time, biblical scholars have recognized the poor textual credentials of the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 7:53–8:11). The evidence against its authenticity is overwhelming: The earliest manuscripts with substantial portions of John’s Gospel (P66 and P75) lack these verses. They skip from John 7:52to 8:12. The oldest large codices of the Bible also lack these verses: codex Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, both from the fourth century, are normally considered to be the most important biblical manuscripts of the NT extant today. Neither of them has these verses. Codex Alexandrinus, from the fifth century, lacks several leaves in the middle of John. But because of the consistency of the letter size, width of lines, and lines per page, the evidence is conclusive that this manuscript also lacked the pericope adulterae. Codex Ephraemi Rescriptusalso from the fifth century, apparently lacked these verses as well (it is similar to Alexandrinus in that some leaves are missing). The earliest extant manuscript to have these verses is codex Bezae, an eccentric text once in the possession of Theodore Beza. He gave this manuscript to the University of Cambridge in 1581 as a gift, telling the school that he was confident that the scholars there would be able to figure out its significance. He washed his hands of the document. Bezae is indeed the most eccentric NT manuscript extant today, yet it is the chief representative of the Western text-type (the text-form that became dominant in Rome and the Latin West).

When P66, P75, Sinaiticus, and Vaticanus agree, their combined testimony is overwhelmingly strong that a particular reading is not authentic. But it is not only the early Greek manuscripts that lack this text. The great majority of Greek manuscripts through the first eight centuries lack this pericope. And except for Bezae (or codex D), virtually all of the most important Greek witnesses through the first eight centuries do not have the verses. Of the three most important early versions of the New Testament (Coptic, Latin, Syriac), two of them lack the story in their earliest and best witnesses. The Latin alone has the story in its best early witnesses.

Even patristic writers seemed to overlook this text. Bruce Metzger, arguably the greatest textual critic of the twentieth century, argued that “No Greek Church Father prior to Euthymius Zigabenus (twelfth century) comments on the passage, and Euthymius declares that the accurate copies of the Gospel do not contain it” (Textual Commentary, 2nd ed., loc. cit.).

It is an important point to note that although the story of the woman caught in adultery is found in most of our printed Bibles today, the evidence suggests that the majority of Bibles during the first eight centuries of the Christian faith did not contain the story. Externally, most scholars would say that the evidence for it not being an authentic part of John’s Gospel is rock solid.

But textual criticism is not based on external evidence alone; there is also the internal evidence to consider. This is comprised of two parts: intrinsic evidence has to do with what an author is likely to have written;transcriptional evidence has to do with how and why a scribe would have changed the text.

Intrinsically, the vocabulary, syntax, and style look far more like Luke than they do John. There is almost nothing in these twelve verses that has a Johannine flavor. And transcriptionally, scribes were almost always prone to add material rather than omit it—especially a big block of text such as this, rich in its description of Jesus’ mercy. One of the remarkable things about this passage, in fact, is that it is found in multiple locations. Most manuscripts that have it place it in its now traditional location: between John 7:52 and 8:12. But an entire family of manuscripts has the passage at the end of Luke 21, while another family places it at the end of John’s Gospel. Other manuscripts place it at the end of Luke or in various places in John 7.

The pericope adulterae has all the earmarks of a pericope that was looking for a home. It took up permanent residence, in the ninth century, in the middle of the fourth gospel.

Wallace teaches at the ultra-conservative fundamentalist Dallas Theological Seminary, and is the foremost evangelical manuscript expert in the world.

Why is this important? I think it is important because this story is very prominent for a great many Christians, especially Christian women, who use this to justify a variety of positions that are inconsistent with the rest of the Bible. These Christians do not like the idea of anyone being judged and so they are naturally inclined to blow this disputed passage into an entire theology that repudiates making moral judgments on such things as capital punishment. In fact, in another post, I was accused of being the equivalent of one of the people who wanted to stone the woman taken for adultery because I oppose fornication and single motherhood. That’s how far this has gone, where some Christians, especially Christian feminists, have leveraged this passage to redefine the Bible so that women are no longer responsible to the Bible’s moral rules and can never be blamed for acting irresponsibly.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mitt Romney: Hillary’s Clinton Foundation Uranium One scandal “looks like bribery”

What looks like bribery? Well, read this story from the radically leftist New York Times, of all places. It should be the end of Hillary’s campaign.

Excerpt:

The headline in the website Pravda trumpeted President Vladimir V. Putin’s latest coup, its nationalistic fervor recalling an era when its precursor served as the official mouthpiece of the Kremlin: “Russian Nuclear Energy Conquers the World.”

The article, in January 2013, detailed how the Russian atomic energy agency, Rosatom, had taken over a Canadian company with uranium-mining stakes stretching from Central Asia to the American West. The deal made Rosatom one of the world’s largest uranium producers and brought Mr. Putin closer to his goal of controlling much of the global uranium supply chain.

But the untold story behind that story is one that involves not just the Russian president, but also a former American president and a woman who would like to be the next one.

At the heart of the tale are several men, leaders of the Canadian mining industry, who have been major donors to the charitable endeavors of former President Bill Clinton and his family. Members of that group built, financed and eventually sold off to the Russians a company that would become known as Uranium One.

Beyond mines in Kazakhstan that are among the most lucrative in the world, the sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States. Since uranium is considered a strategic asset, with implications for national security, the deal had to be approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.

And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.

At the time, both Rosatom and the United States government made promises intended to ease concerns about ceding control of the company’s assets to the Russians. Those promises have been repeatedly broken, records show.

[…]The path to a Russian acquisition of American uranium deposits began in 2005 in Kazakhstan, where the Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra orchestrated his first big uranium deal, with Mr. Clinton at his side.

The two men had flown aboard Mr. Giustra’s private jet to Almaty, Kazakhstan, where they dined with the authoritarian president, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev. Mr. Clinton handed the Kazakh president a propaganda coup when he expressed support for Mr. Nazarbayev’s bid to head an international elections monitoring group, undercutting American foreign policy and criticism of Kazakhstan’s poor human rights record by, among others, his wife, then a senator.

Within days of the visit, Mr. Giustra’s fledgling company, UrAsia Energy Ltd., signed a preliminary deal giving it stakes in three uranium mines controlled by the state-run uranium agency Kazatomprom.

[…][T]he company’s story was hardly front-page news in the United States — until early 2008, in the midst of Mrs. Clinton’s failed presidential campaign, when The Times published an article revealing the 2005 trip’s link to Mr. Giustra’s Kazakhstan mining deal. It also reported that several months later, Mr. Giustra had donated $31.3 million to Mr. Clinton’s foundation.

[…][T]he ultimate authority to approve or reject the Russian acquisition rested with the cabinet officials on the foreign investment committee, including Mrs. Clinton — whose husband was collecting millions of dollars in donations from people associated with Uranium One.

Romney, in his interview with Hugh Hewitt, explained that because Bill and Hillary are married, their assets are co-mingled.

So what’s the problem with this deal?

The national security issue at stake in the Uranium One deal was not primarily about nuclear weapons proliferation; the United States and Russia had for years cooperated on that front, with Russia sending enriched fuel from decommissioned warheads to be used in American nuclear power plants in return for raw uranium. Instead, it concerned American dependence on foreign uranium sources. While the United States gets one-fifth of its electrical power from nuclear plants, it produces only around 20 percent of the uranium it needs, and most plants have only 18 to 36 months of reserves, according to Marin Katusa, author of “The Colder War: How the Global Energy Trade Slipped From America’s Grasp.”

“The Russians are easily winning the uranium war, and nobody’s talking about it,” said Mr. Katusa, who explores the implications of the Uranium One deal in his book. “It’s not just a domestic issue but a foreign policy issue, too.”

It’s a national security issue. We shouldn’t be selling uranium companies to countries like Russia who not only invade their neighbors, but also sell long-range missiles to Iran – and a host of other nasty things, too. This country is not friendly to us.

Hillary Clinton: secretive, entitled, hypoctritical

Hillary Clinton: secretive, entitled, hypoctritical

What was Hillary’s response? It’s a distraction invented by the vast right-wing conspiracy:

That’s some vast right-wing conspiracy that makes its way onto the nation’s most respected leftist national newspaper.

So, does this explain why Hillary Clinton deleted tens of thousands of e-mails and then wiped her private e-mail server clean? We’ll never know, because she destroyed all the evidence. But one thing is for sure – there is no reason to vote for this candidate for President, although some people will:

That’s the only “reason” that people will vote for her, because on the merits, she’s a stinker.

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“Dead broke” Hillary Clinton makes more money in an hour than top-paid CEO

$300,000 an hour for a speech

$300,000 an hour for a speech

Astonishing article from the Washington Examiner.

Excerpt:

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is drawing a populist bead on lavish Wall Street pay packages as she revs up her march to the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, but in some respects the fat-per-speech fee she can charge puts her far ahead of the top 10 highest-paid American CEOs.

“I think it’s fair to say that if you look across the country, the deck is stacked in favor of those already at the top. There’s something wrong when CEOs make 300 times more than the American worker…,” Clinton said during her first campaign swing last week at an Iowa community college.

Bashing Wall Streeters is part of Clinton’s strategy of remaking her image to appear more sympathetic to middle class voters, while also appealing to left-wing Democrats who are attracted to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and the even more radical supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont socialist who talks of seeking the 2016 nomination.

Let’s compare the per-hour rate of pay for Hillary compared to the top American CEOs:

On that basis, the CEOs are pikers compared to an hour of Clinton speaking for $300,000. Hammergren, for example, makes only $63,076 for the same hour of labor. Clothing magnate Ralph Lauren, the second best-paid CEO on the Forbes list receives $32,067. Vornado Realty’s Michael Fasitelli, the third-place CEO, gets $30,961 per hour.

Now at least those CEOs are being paid to produce a return – invent new products and services that people are willing to pay for. What does a speech do? Do the people who pay for it get anything in return? What does she talk about?

Here’s a sample from one of her speeches:

I think she is making a pitch there for Soviet-style re-education camps – not sure why this is worth $300,000, comrades.

But she’s not the only hypocrite on the left.

Here’s a crazy racist, pro-abortion MSNBC commentator named Melissa Harris-Perry:

According to the IRS, although she likely makes a substantial living anchoring a weekend MSNBC show and as a professor at Wake Forest University, the left-wing Melissa Harris-Perry does not pay her taxes. The Internal Revenue Service just placed a $70,000 tax lien against Harris-Perry.

She is the second left-wing MSNBC anchor caught not paying her fair share. Al Sharpton reportedly owes Uncle Sam upwards of $3 million.

According to Harris-Perry, a left-wing activist who frequently rails against the wealthy for not paying enough taxes, the tax bill is from 2013, and she and her husband plan to pay the lien off as quickly as possible.

Harris-Perry is most famous for her the terrible things she has said about Mitt Romney’s black grandchild, wearing tampon earrings, and telling parents that their children belong to the community.

Meanwhile, here she is advocating for higher taxes:

Indeed! People on the left often advocate in favor of higher taxes, but you shouldn’t infer from that that they want to pay higher taxes themselves. Studies show that people on the left give far less money to charity as well. They talk about the poor, but when they get the chance to do something about it, they don’t. It’s just a pose, but it works on a lot of stupid people to get them to vote Democrat.

Filed under: News, , , ,

Clinton Foundation continues to take donations from regimes that oppress women

Hillary Clinton: secretive, entitled, hypocritical

Hillary Clinton: secretive, entitled, hypocritical, deceptive

From the Washington Times.

Excerpt:

The board of the Clinton Foundation said Wednesday night that it will continue accepting donations from foreign governments, but only from six nations, a move that appears aimed at insulating Hillary Rodham Clinton from controversies over the charity’s reliance on millions of dollars from abroad as she ramps up her presidential campaign.

Clinton, who resigned from the foundation’s board last week, has faced mounting criticism over the charity’s ties to foreign governments.

The board of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation said that future donations will only be allowed from the governments of Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom – all nations that previously supported the charity’s health, poverty and climate change programs.

While direct contributions from other governments would be halted, those nations could continue participating in the Clinton Global Initiative, a subsidiary program that encourages donors to match contributions from others to tackle international problems without direct donations to the charity.

The foundation also will begin disclosing its donors every quarter instead of annually – an answer to long-standing criticism that the foundation’s once-a-year lists made it difficult to view shifts and trends in the charity’s funding. Former President Bill Clinton and other foundation officials have long defended the charity’s transparency, but the new move signaled sensitivity to those concerns, particularly as his wife begins her race for the White House.

[…]An Associated Press analysis of Clinton Foundation donations between 2001 and 2015 showed governments and agencies from 16 nations previously gave direct grants of between $55 million and $130 million. Those governments include the six nations that will be allowed to continue donating. The remaining 10 are Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Kuwait, Italy, Brunei, Taiwan and the Dominican Republic.

[…]Hillary Clinton had previously agreed with the Obama administration to limit new foreign donations to the foundation while she served as secretary of state, but at least six nations that previously contributed still donated to the charity during her four-year stint. In one case, thefoundation failed to notify the State Department about a donation from the government of Algeria.

One feminist activist has come out and asked Clinton to stop taking donations from countries that oppress women.

The Weekly Standard explains:

A prominent Pakistani-born women’s rights activist is asking presidential candidates, including Hillary Clinton, to pledge not to accept donations from foreign nations that oppress women. Raheel Raza, the Canadian journalist behind the documentary film Honor Diaries, is requesting all the presidential candidates, from both parties and both “men and women,” to sign her pledge.

This week, Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for President,” said Raza in a statement.  “As a woman, I congratulate her, but as a women’s rights advocate, I’m concerned about the $13,000,000-$40,000,000 the Clinton Foundation reportedly took from regimes that persecute women, namely Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and the UAE.”

Raza’s pledge is not limited to presidential campaigns, asking candidates to promise to “never take money from regimes that oppress women, even after I leave public office, including any libraries or foundations in my name.”

“If you’re running for President—and if you want women’s votes—you should sign ‘The Pledge to Women’ and say ‘no’ to money from regimes that forbid women to vote or run for office,” said Raza.

The Clintons’ foundation has said that it will continue to accept donations from a specific set of Western nations, though not from the Middle Eastern regimes that persecute women. The related Clinton Global Initative may, however, still allow participation from those regimes, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Raza is a liberal Muslim who has spoken out against Islamic terrorism as well as so-called honor killings within Muslim communities. She has received death threats for her views.

I don’t think this is going to reach most of her low-information supporters, who will just vote for her because she is a woman regardless, but the independents might care about what they are getting.

We’ve already seen how liberals think with the election and re-election of Barack Obama. Here is how it works, and there really is no more to their thinking than this – at any level. They think “Obama is black, so that means we should vote for him because he will help blacks”. Except that the facts show that black unemployment has recovered the least of any race during his time as President. That’s from the radically leftist Washington Post, by the way. With Hillary, a lot of women will be voting for her thinking, “she’s a woman, she’ll help women”. But the facts clearly show that not only does Hillary pay her women staffers less than men, but that her foundation also pays women less than men. And she takes donations from nations that oppress women. And I don’t mean “no free condoms” when I say oppress women, I mean stuff like “have them killed for not wearing a burkha”.

 

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