Email from a Baptist Preacher

I guess you’re really getting peoples attention when not only do you get the standard hate mail from the fundamental believers but a Baptist Preacher takes the time out of his day to email you.  This was a new experience for me simply because the people who usually email me and want to argue or save my soul are more times then not non-denominational.  Either they attend a non-denominational church or they have abandoned traditional Religion for the idea that it’s a ‘Relationship’ not a Religion.   Which really means I can’t find anyone who is doing the way I like so I’m just going to make it up myself .   I’m sure Paul had the best of intentions, and I may have been a bit hard on him in my reply.  However I tend to get a little hot and bothered when people imply that I’m ignorant of scripture or Christianity in general and then offer their interpretation of some section they feel applies to the conversation.  So for the record I pride myself on my knowledge of the Christian Scripture and its history.  Those who know me well can attest to my knowledge.   If Paul happens to read this I would like to extend an invitation to him to attend our upcoming picnic, who knows, he just might learn a thing or two about atheists.

 

Picnic information can be found here.

Michael;
I am not an atheist but a Baptist Preacher. I have followed your group for about a year. I was raised in Mansfield and now live in Crestline. The Church that God gave me is in Bucyrus. I have kept silent till I was encouraged through prayer to write to you. Not all Christians are as you have depicted as hating Athiest and Homosexuals or just anyone that disagrees with us. I encourage dialog with those that see God differently than I do. We should be able as human beings agree to disagree. Here is one point though that I disagree with you. All the examples in the article Biblical Abominations are in the Old Testament. You are right, man could not keep all these rules and laws. Today the Jew is still under what we call the Law of Moses. It is however by their choice. About 1982 years ago Christ came to fullfill the law. So since then we (all mankind) are under Grace. There are just 2 commandments that we are to follow. 1) Love God with all your heart, mind and spirit. 2) Love one another as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39. But: here is the rub for most people, I am commanded to love you but not to condone your actions.Today tolerance means I have to accept what the world does and say that is okay with me. I still believe that tolerance means you have the right to live your life as you see fit. When it comes to my attention or effects me or the Church I have the right to refute that life style biblicaly.
I am not here to offend you(that sometimes happens)but start a dialog that is, what I believe to be biblical. It is up to you and your Group.
God Bless
Pastor Paul

 

My long winded reply–

 

 

Paul,

First I take no offense, but usually by the time I’m done with my reply people are pretty offended, mostly because I’m well prepared to challenge the claims you made.  I’m pretty aware of what qualifies as Baptist Doctrine if not what you and your Church specifically accept.  I’m also aware that there are as many different kinds of Christians as there are shades of gray, and that the area between liberal accepting Christianity and fervent fundamental Christianity has been greatly explored over the last several generations.

 

I have never pretended that all Christians are fundamentalists, however to ignore the fundamentalists is to give them a pass.  Why you are quick to point out that you do not hate atheists I have yet to see any liberal forward thinking Christians or Preachers jump to our defense when just a few months ago there were opinion letters each week about how evil and wrong the atheists are were published in the News Journal.  I do not see moderate Christians or the Baptists Church speaking out about the erosion of Church State Separation or civil corollary as the Baptist Church refers to it.  As I understand Baptist Doctrine the Four Freedoms are supposed to be rather important with the individual free to choose whether to practice the Baptists religion, another religion, or no religion.  I suggest a poll of your congregation.  Ask them what they think of people with no Religion.  I’m going to say the majority would not site the forth of the four freedoms, in fact you may find that many of your members will think unkindly of nonbelievers with no direct knowledge, reason, or interaction.

 

As for the Old Testament v. New Testament or Old Covenant v. New Covenant.  Well the ideas on what still apply are just as varied.  I’m sure you have faith that your interpretation of what your God wants and your reading of the Bible is correct.  My question is how do I know that?  You’re suggesting Dispensationalism or maybe New Covenant theology.. However many of the fore fathers of the Christian Church disagree with that idea.  In fact your ideas are in contradiction to Lutheran, Anglican, Calvinist, Theonomy, Torah Submission, or Roman Catholic Covenant Theology.  Thomas Aquinas the Roman Catholic theologian as an example explained that there are three types of biblical precepts: moral, ceremonial, and judicial. He holds that moral precepts are permanent, having held even before the Law was given, since they are part of the law of nature, ceremonial precepts, which deal with forms of worshipping God and ritual cleanness; and judicial precepts (such as those in Exodus 21) came into existence only with the Law of Moses, and were only temporary. The ceremonial commands were “ordained to the Divine worship for that particular time and to the foreshadowing of Christ.”  Would you have me believe you are more informed on the desires of your god then Thomas Aquinas?  I’m also sure I don’t have to quote the scripture that disagrees with your position, but Leviticus 23:14,21,31- Matthew 5:18-19- and 1 Chronicles 16:15 off the top of my head.

 

You said “When it comes to my attention or effects me or the Church I have the right to refute that life style biblicaly.”  My question is why should I care what your Bible says if I do not believe it or accept it as anything more than a book written by bronze age man?  I understand you find it very important. I understand you have chosen to live your life by it.  That’s fine. If any Church wants to dictate what their members can and can’t do, I am perfectly fine with that.  I am fine with them telling their Church members they can’t have abortions, use contraception, or be gay. Where I differ is when they attempt to make laws governing my life based on their Religion.  The only exceptions I would make to my previous statement would be in the cases of children, such as the ritual circumcision of the female clitoris or forgoing medical assistance for the power of prayer when a child is sick.  Not to mention that telling a child that if they believe incorrectly or doubt they will burn and suffer forever, seems like psychological abuse to me.   In those cases Religion should not free someone from prosecution when there is abuse or neglect.

 

Believers have the tendency to think that Atheists are either ignorant or misinformed when it comes to religion.  I am neither ignorant of Christianity nor misinformed of the various doctrine.  My atheism is a direct result of a search for knowledge in and truth of Christianity.  When I was growing up it was important to me that I be correct in my belief.   I was concerned, do I have to be baptized or not, do I have to confess my sins, what did god really want.  As I began to read the Bible for the first time and study the various interpretations of what the Christian God wanted I realized that many denominations were not just in disagreement but diametrically opposed.  At last count there were roughly 350,000 different denominations of Christianity and an ever growing number non-denominational Churches.  Many disenfranchised Christians taking up the idea that its a “Relationship, not a Religion”.  This allows them to determine for themselves exactly what their God wants but it doesn’t often stop them from expecting everyone has to agree with them.

 

What I’ve found maddening from the beginning is it always seems like God agrees with the person making the interpretation of scripture.  If the believer dislikes homosexuals, then God dislikes homosexuals, if the believer is pro-life then God is pro-life.  You never hear someone say “I don’t like homosexuals, but Gods ok with them so I am too.”  It would seem that scripture is only used to justify someone’s own dislike of a group, action, or idea.  When I understood that these ‘Christian’ interpretations of scripture couldn’t all be right, I soon figured out they could all be wrong..

 

The thing that has always bothered me the most about Christianity is that this creator of everything that the Christian Religion has envisioned has placed belief in it over everything else.  I can’t accept that.  I can’t accept that if there were a being with the traits of this all powerful God that he would place belief above actions, thoughts, knowledge, and deeds.  I’m more than happy to live my life, do good, attempt to improve the world for my son, and teach him to do good for goodness sake.  I have spent my entire life helping other people, Military, Medical field, and my current field of Law Enforcement.  My wife has been in the Medical field for the last 12 years.  We both have spent our entire lives dedicated to helping people, and making this world better.  Yet if my wife and I remain unconvinced in the existence of your Deity because he has yet to provide adequate proof to us then we are destined for hell and eternal torment.  Which I have to be honest with you is kind of a dick move if your God exists.  Let’s put all the cards on the table, heaven if it truly exists is likely filled with a certain amount of Murders, Rapists, and Child molesters who were baptized Christian and on their death beds were truly sorry for their sins, accepted Christ and repented.  These people who led horrible, immoral, and evil lives will lounge in paradise for eternity while my wife and I will suffer torment forever for the simple doubt?

 

While I hate to flog a dead horse you mentioned in your letter ” Not all Christians are as you have depicted as hating Atheist and Homosexuals or just anyone that disagrees with us.”  I touched on this earlier in my letter in reference to atheists but I notice on your website that your Church is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention, in which case if it is your position that Homosexuality is ok then you differ from your parent organization already, as it says in their position statement on sexuality.

“We affirm God’s plan for marriage and sexual intimacy – one man, and one woman, for life. Homosexuality is not a “valid alternative lifestyle.” The Bible condemns it as sin. It is not, however, unforgivable sin. The same redemption available to all sinners is available to homosexuals. They, too, may become new creations in Christ.”

So it would seem that the SBC sees all Homosexuals as sinners, you of course think they are wrong, if you stand by your last statement.  In which case one of you are wrong and one of you are right.  This is where I already see an issue with the- or possibly your Baptist Church.  You said in your letter that the laws of the Old Testament were no longer valid.  That would be, I can only assume the laws against Homosexuality as well.  So how does the SBC come up with the idea that homosexuality is a sin? None of the four gospels mentions the subject. This means that, so far as we know, Jesus never spoke about homosexuality, and we simply have no way of determining what his attitude toward it might have been. Moreover, there is nothing about homosexuality in the Book of Acts, in Hebrews, in Revelation, or in the letters attributed to James, Peter, John, and Jude. Further, homosexuality is not mentioned in ten of the thirteen letters attributed to Paul. It is only in Romans 1:26–27, 1 Corinthians 6:9–10, and 1 Timothy 1:8–11 that there may be references to homosexuality. The paucity of references to homosexuality in the New Testament suggests that it was not a matter of major concern either for Jesus or for the early Christian movement. Maybe it is the mention of sodomites?  However most theologians that I have read do not believe that ‘sodamite’ refers to a homosexual and it was never mentioned that the sin of Sodom was homosexuality in fact the evidence suggests that the sin of Sodom was worship of the Canaanite fertility goddess. So which is it, are they misreading the New Testament or carefully selecting parts of the old they wish to hold on to?

In closing I appreciate your attempt to “start a dialog”.  However I’m  not sure what your desired outcome would be. I assure you that there is nothing you can say that I have not heard so your chances of convincing me that a deity exists and you’ve picked the correct one and are worshipping him the correct way borders on the nearly impossible.

-Michael

 

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2 Responses to Email from a Baptist Preacher

  1. lol mahmood says:

    Good letter!

  2. Jess says:

    I like your reply Michael. You kept it respectful and smart without being overly smug. Well played.