Friday, May 11, 2012

Fighting Words

Page from a Gutenberg Bible (1454)
This week I stopped at the downtown public library and saw an exhibition of rare religious texts. With permission, I photographed some of the treasures they had on display. The images you see here are presented in the order of the document’s dating, oldest first.

Witness to the Generations

I meditated on these centuries-old relics for quite a while, considering the many human lifetimes that have passed since the words were pressed and penned onto their pages. Even back then, the sources of those words were already ancient. Most of the books were Bibles, their text copied or translated from a succession of painstakingly hand-copied manuscripts whose original sources have been almost entirely lost in antiquity.

Two columns of clean, bold type stared out at me from the page of a Gutenberg Bible, 558 years after the ink went dry. So much history has passed since then, so many generations born into lives that were “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” (Thomas Hobbes, 1651). The black and red of the letters seemed not to have faded at all, unlike the colors of whoever pressed the type onto the page in Mainz, Germany–and his child, and that child, and so on. At least twenty generations of lives blooming and fading: a succession of pink-faced infancy transforming into the gray of old age and death, or worse, a dark red death on the endless battlefields of crusade and conquest.



There was a completely intact, beautiful old book, handwritten in 1475: The Sentences by Peter Lombard. It is a manuscript copy of the original writing from over two centuries earlier.
Manuscript copy (1475) of Lombard’s Sentences (c. 1225)

Some nameless monk put the flourishes on his red-inked initial letters a little more than a decade before the birth of Martin Luther, a man who would himself become a monk and spend hours poring over these Sentences in a volume such as this. Then, as Luther left the monastery–as he married and spawned a half-dozen new human lives with Katherine Von Bora, as he split the medieval Church in two–these pages would lie there, with their earnest and endless discussions about such matters as whether the Trinity required that
God begot God. For if God begot God, it seems that either He begot Himself God, or an other. However if He begot an other God, there is not only one God; moreover if He begot His very self God, some thing begot its very self. [Book 1, Distinction 4, Ch. 1]
Bound securely together between pigskin-covered wooden boards and passed on from one conservator to another, they would endure centuries of disputation and savagery in the name of the faith of which they spoke. Thomas More (1478-1535) would burn heretics, and then have the axe of righteous indignation fall on his own neck. A peasant uprising would be violently crushed (1525) with the approval of that same Luther (Against the Murderous, Thieving Hordes of Peasants) whose theological attacks on ecclesiastical authority a decade earlier had inspired them, but considered their secular rebellion deserving of “death in body and soul.” Toward the end of the 1500s, France would suffer eight wars between Catholics and Protestants (Loftus 2010, Kindle loc. 2452). Then, from 1618-1648, a whole generation of adherents of those two versions of Christianity would slaughter each other in the Thirty Years’ War,
one of the most destructive wars in European history that pitted Christians against each other. This war was fought primarily in Germany, but other countries got involved as well. . . . So great was the loss of life from this war that estimates show one-third of the entire population of the Germany was killed. W├╝rttemberg lost three-quarters of its entire population. Brandenburg suffered the loss of half of its population, as did Marburg and Augsburg, while Magdeburg was reduced to rubble. Outside of Germany nearly one-third of the Czech population died as well. [Kindle loc. 2455-59]
The Geneva Bible was first published in 1560. This 1612 reprint was just a few years old when the Thirty Years’ War began. It was already an antique when religious fanaticism came to the New World with the Salem Witch Trials (1692-1693).
Geneva Bible (1612)

Witch Hunting

By the time Conservative Laestadians experienced their own mass hysteria in the 1970s and 1980s (§4.6.4, §4.10.2), the churchmen had no physical penalties available for driving out the devil from their midst. But spiritual condemnation remained very much in force; the Salem trial of Satan had morphed into a “caretaking meeting” of “false spirits,” conducted with every bit as much pious zeal in AALC churches and SRK meeting halls across North America and Finland.

German Bible (1736). The passage is God’s
guarantee of evangelical futility in Isaiah 6.
Over and over, spirit-possessed unfortunates were “bound” after failing to provide an acceptable confession, to be anathematized “as an heathen man and a publican” (Mt 18:17). The “Church Law of Christ” of Matthew 18 was the mechanism for removal:
Sin affects sore spots in the members of Christ’s Body. Speedy care is always necessary, so that a member [of the congregation] doesn’t need to be cut off. The instructions for care have been given by the Holy Spirit. Sickness is to be avoided but in care of sicknesses the help comes by way of individuals or at the center for care aided by the congregation of God. First the brother is to be reproved by one. Then with two or three witnesses present if the brother is not obedient to this reproof. Last of all the congregation decides the matter of the brother. The Church Law of Christ is particularly necessary at the end times. [Voice of Zion, May 1974]
Keeping the camp of the saints free of dissenters and sinners has always been a priority. The author of 1 Cor 5:13, for example, reminds his readers:
I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? Do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
From thin pages of mass-produced Bibles that lay on the folding tables where the spiritually suspect sat before the congregation, the words still cried out for removal of the heathen from the midst of the faithful. They did so with as much force as they had coming from heavy leaves of the old relics now locked away in museums and collections. True, the physical horrors were no longer being inflicted as they had centuries earlier, by people who might well have read some of the very same pages I saw at the library exhibit. But the change to a mere spiritual sentence of “binding” was not imposed by the Holy Word or its interpreters. Rather, it was the result of a gradually emerging secular sanity that had finally dawned on civilized humankind.

Sacred Savagery

The Salem inquisitors’ imperative, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Exodus 22:18), is actually one of the tamer passages between the covers of these Bibles. The New Testament God has a vicious threat to keep his worshipers in line–an eternity of unspeakable torment–but at least no actual blood is being shed. In the Old Testament portion of “God’s Word,” however, the divine atrocities are all too real, and sickening to contemplate.

One example is enough to make the point. (You can read about many more in §6 of my book.) Ezekiel 8 tells us that God got pissed about “abominations” being committed against him: seventy “men of the ancients of the house of Israel” burning incense and surrounded by carvings on the walls of his sanctuary of “creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel” (8:10-11), some women weeping for a Babylonian fertility god (8:14), and 25 men prostrating themselves toward the sun and “putting the branch to their nose” (8:16-17).

God’s response makes the Spanish Inquisition look like small claims court. He called for the executioners of the city to draw near, each “with his destroying weapon in his hand” (Ezekiel 9:1). He commanded that the men of Jerusalem who disapproved of the aforementioned abominations be marked on their foreheads. Then, he directed,
Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house. And he said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. [Ezekiel 9:5-7]
It didn’t matter that the women and innocent children had no way to take sides and avoid God’s wrath. When the bodies piled up, theirs lay right alongside those of the men.

Bibliolatry

The LLC’s official defenders of these ancient writings lament that we now “live in a time in which the authority, holiness, and inerrancy of the Holy Bible has been placed under doubt and suspicion by those who challenge it as a divine revelation of God’s will toward men.” We are told that “by faith” we must “accept the Holy Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, as the divinely inspired and revealed Word of God” (Voice of Zion, March 2007). Slavery, slaughter, sexual assault–it’s not for us to criticize or exercise any discretion about because “the Holy Scriptures are the highest authority and standard by which matters of soul and doctrines of salvation are judged” (Id.).

It is impossible to convey in a blog posting just how much savagery, inhumanity, historical and scientific error, and contradiction there is contained in the pages of this supposed “highest authority.” During the months of 2009 I spent reading the Bible from cover to cover, I was repeatedly shocked at the awful stuff I was encountering for the first time (§4.3.3). Just as disturbing to me were the excuses I heard when mentioning it to Laestadian friends whose duties in the church, if not their personal convictions, required them to defend the Bible at all costs. One memorable line I remember hearing, after complaining about the conquest narratives of Joshua: “You’re talking about human life. This life means nothing to God!” So much for a pro-life God, then. And, as Thom Stark eloquently points out,
to say that God is good when God does precisely what God has told us is evil is to render the language of good and evil meaningless. If God commanded genocide, then to say that God is good is to render “good” utterly unintelligible. [Stark 2011, 137]
It’s not just that the explanations were utterly unconvincing. As Ken Daniels discovered from his own experience with such empty talk regarding the massacre and rape of the Midanites in Numbers 31, the
attempt to explain it away only lowered my respect for the apologists doing the explaining. Why would anyone, particularly mothers who love their daughters and daughters who value their dignity, even want to try to defend passages like these? The very inclination to justify such barbarism revealed to me the unyielding grip of an absolute faith upon its adherents. [Daniels 2010, 46]
Voice of Zion, June 1977
Robert M. Price asks the apologist for these texts how dangerous it would be if Christians nowadays were to actually heed and obey the commands of God that they read in them. “Can we really believe the true and existing God told the ancient shaman and his client warlord to exterminate every single Amalekite baby? Hold on! Wait a minute, my friend, before you begin to defend the gruesome act as an act of God, lest you utter some cold-blooded enormity you otherwise would never entertain” (Price 2006, 128).

The fact is that we are better than that, and the most pious among us knows it. No matter how much the party line insists on acceptance of the “Holy” text in its entirety, none of us really believes it is morally defensible to own slaves and beat them to within an inch of their lives because they are mere property (Exodus 21). Most of the people I know in the LLC are either blissfully ignorant of these and hundreds of other biblical outrages, are profoundly troubled by them, or simply let the preachers have their say while cheerfully keeping their opinions to themselves. They may find encouragement in Stark’s rousing call for Christians to free themselves from the construct of an infallible book:
Freedom from this construct, freedom to examine the scriptures, freedom to subject them to critique–that is the freedom to engage in moral struggle, the freedom to commit oneself to the struggle to find God, to find the truth, to find justice, even if that means struggling against some of our own traditions and sacred texts. It is not a rejection of God, but the freedom to choose not to take the shortcuts that the powerbrokers of the past have concocted to keep the rabble in line and the so-called heretics disempowered. [Stark 2011, 69]
Humanity has suffered enough from its centuries of oppression and bloodshed under these ancient, misguided, and barbaric words. Let the old books sit in their display cases and vaults, witnesses to our fearful and ignorant past. Yes, it’s hard to part with a familiar and once unquestioned source of authority, as evidenced by the defensive tone of an article (see image above) in the June 1977 Voice of Zion about the supposed evils of a new wave of humanism. But the situational ethics and lying that “is acceptable under some circumstances” is actually the burden of those who persist in defending these indefensible texts. The article defines humanism, with implied criticism, as “a mode of thought based on human interests and ideals rather than traditional or religious principles.” You know what? At this point, that sounds pretty good to me.

Further Reading

  • Daniels, Kenneth W. 2010. Why I Believed: Reflections of a Former Missionary. (kwdaniels.com).
  • Loftus, John, ed. 2010. The Christian Delusion. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.
  • Price, Robert M. 2006. The Reason-Driven Life. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.
  • Stark, Thom. 2011. The Human Faces of God. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock.
  • Suominen, Edwin A. 2012. An Examination of the Pearl. (ExaminationOfThePearl.org). All “§” citations refer to sections of this book with links to the HTML version.
  • Wells, Steve. 2010. Drunk With Blood: God’s Killings in the Bible. Giordano Press (DrunkWithBlood.com).

21 comments:

  1. Ed. Why lower your respect for those of us who haven't had the time to do all the research that you have had? Especially given the context of Laestadianism, where one is taught in such a way to not question. And kept away from people who don't believe the same, and so on...there are lots of different belief systems on the planet, and you could probably pick apart every single one. Ironically, Ed, as I recall you saying, you are the product of your parents repentance. I don't understand the need to bash the religion you were born into. Perhaps you should try to appreciate the positives and move on. Wherever your journey takes you, it will be more lightly traveled if you let go. I say this as one who hasn't left, but is curious enough to wonder and dared to read your entire book. THank you for doing all that tiresome research, what you have written definately hasn't been helpful as a 'believer', and certainly very eye opening in many regards. But, what remains is the fact that leaving is a very difficult thing to do, and the question is still 'Where would I go?'
    -NW Ponderer

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  2. NW Ponderer, you make some good points. Thank you! I’ve just updated the posting to be a little more sensitive to the fact that few people in the LLC are really prepared or even willing to defend the indefensible texts of the Bible.

    I certainly understand how difficult it is to leave, and the plight of those who face that question of “Where would I go?” Been there, done that. The “bashing” comes from seeing how that very question has been used as a tool to keep people in line by the organization: Toe the line, or else. I’ve had some friends stuck between the mental pain of dealing with all the issues of the church and the social pain of being honest about those issues. For my own part, I’ve moved on in a pretty public way, but many of them haven’t, and they are still hurting. And “moving on” still entails quite a bit of pain–“social suicide,” as one fellow apostate friend put it, as well as the emotional difficulties of readjusting one’s worldview after a lifetime of indoctrination.

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  3. Perhaps it would be easier if we did just appreciate the positives, as you say, and go away quietly. However, I think part of the moving on process involves examining and re-examining your own beliefs. We need to do that for closure, and to clearly define those things that caused so much dissonance for us when we were in the church. I think this is sometimes interpreted as bashing by those still in the faith because it is picking away at the foundation of their beliefs.

    There was not a way that people could discuss disagreements and different perspectives within the church that I remember. You could discuss doubts, but only in the context of asking for forgiveness for having those doubts. For example, if you seriously think birth control is okay, and you are willing to discuss that openly, there will be a committee of people to tell you how many ways you are wrong about it. There was no "you think your way, and I'll think mine." You had to toe the mark or you were toast.

    I think this logical critique process also stirs people up because if a believer for one minute considered that something other than what they have believed their whole life could be true, it would upend their familiar way of life, perhaps beyond repair. This can cause some anxiety...I get that. I've been there.

    And the question of where you would go is valid, since a believer's social life, entire life really, is wrapped up in the activities of the church and the everyday lives of other believers. It's intimidating to leave that behind and try to start from scratch as an adult. It was difficult for me, but looking at back at the process now, I can say it was worth it.

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  4. Daisy's comment:
    "Like"
    -Eyeswideopen

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  5. Great dialogue. This discussion will be felt completely different depending on whether you are in the church or out.

    And it is my opinion, unless you have walked out of a cult like religion and seen the world with new eyes, you can't begin to know the subtle and not so subtle ways your life wasn't your own.

    Part of healing is to gain your own freedom of self.

    It is like being raised in captivity and talking to us about freedom. Impossible. You can't know what it is like outside the cage, until you step out.

    And inside of the cage, oftentimes, is your whole life.

    Religion wasn't the biggest hurdle in my life, but abuse. Abuse was the cage that I escaped from. Religion was just part of what kept abuse going, by blessing away the sins.

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  6. EOP, Your zeal for searching the scriptures after having been raised as you (and I) were (I'm former FALC) is notable and commendable. My heart breaks though at (and boy, I hope you don't take offense, not my intention) what appears to me a desire to discredit God's Word (and I will wholeheartedly attribute that to sin and the devil trying to keep you in a dark place and away from the freeing and peaceful Glory of God's Word which grants the peace and joy of everlasting salvation to ALL believers, while you're in a vulnerable place of questioning), due to the pain that twisting of his Word played in much of your life.

    I mean, even the Ken Daniels reference pretty much does what the FALC does, take an instance and make it serve his theory without delving into the surrounding scripture that serves to fully explain that one chapter (not by any means a full defense, but a little sleuthing turned this up; death for adultery was common law back then, the Midanite women were seducing the Israelites and bringing them into the fold of worshipping Baal, much of the story is similar to that of the Golden Calf situation, and at that time, before salvation was given through the death of His Son, God's anger at this spreading sinful behavior caused the wrath of thousands, yet it saved tens of thousands more...sexual diseases were spreading, men were getting tumors, etc. The virginal girls that were saved were considered clean, not adulterers, and therefore not likely to have sexual diseases and could easily be assimilated into the Israelite tribe after the war, there is no reference to rape. Yes, people were killed as has happened since the exit of Eden, but many more were saved and allowed to flourish.

    I continue to pray for you and those unknown to me that struggle with the pain affiliated to leaving and being in those congregations and to find God's Peace in YOU (for the life of me I have no idea why an apostolic can not wish the Peace of God on people they consider "unbelievers?" Wouldn't they want the Peace of God to be with an "unbeliever?" Personally, I believe they don't even consider what "God's Peace" means during their greetings, it's more like a code saying "we're in the secret club of the saved."

    With Warm Regards,
    JP

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  7. JP, what you are trying to defend is a passage where God commands (through his Old Testament right-hand man Moses) the following:

    "Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves" (Numbers 31:17-18).

    Your attempt to excuse this disgusting barbarity, just because you have been told it is part of "God's Word," provides an excellent example of what I am criticizing: devotion to a collection of ancient words to the point where it has itself become an object of worship.

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  8. I can see dialogue will not be fruitful and am so sorry for all you've been through. What a destructive group of people you've had the good fortune and strength to leave. I will continue to pray for you and others who have left, to come to peace with the past and hopefully reconnect with the true Gospel of salvation for ALL who believe in the death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

    JP

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  9. It's not uncommon for people in these types of groups to lose faith in God altogether when they leave. Its one of the reasons they are so destructive. They have been taught all thier lives to beileve in an organization rather than God. They have been oppressed their entire lives through a bunch or arbitrary rules that have no foundation. They have been unable to make decisions for themselves. The experience, especially upon leaving is usually traumatizing. Although there are many commonalities in how we experience it, every person has their own journey.
    -Eyeswideopen

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  10. No, JP, any dialogue that involves defenses of genocide will not be fruitful with me. Thanks for the kind thoughts otherwise, though.

    I'm plenty critical of the Bible and doctrines that enslave people to it, but I would hesitate to call any of the branches of Laestadianism a “destructive group of people.” The LLC is full of wonderful, caring, thoughtful people, and that’s probably true of the other groups as well. For example, I certainly enjoyed my lunchtime visit at an OALC congregation and saw a lot of just plain people who were enjoying each other’s company. Their beliefs were just what they had been taught from childhood, just as my own were.

    I don’t really blame individuals for professing beliefs I have found false or disturbing, e.g., the unquestioned holiness of a text that calls for genocide, especially when those individuals don’t have the intellectual freedom to dissent from the party line. Rather, I criticize the institutions that perpetuate themselves by the propagation of these beliefs. And for all that, even the LLC as an institution has positive aspects. For many of its members (the ones who will never read this blog or my book), it provides so much in terms of social structure and personal security that leaving it would not only be unthinkable, but devastating. Following the “bunch of arbitrary rules,” as Eyeswideopen puts it, is a small price to pay for what they receive in return. Of course, there is also the ultimate carrot and stick of heaven and hell.

    You both mentioned how common it is for people to lose faith in God along with faith in their particular Laestadian group, and I agree with that observation. For my own part, I undertook a year of full-time research as a sincere effort to understand the faith in which I was raised, to answer troubling questions that have never been adequately addressed by anyone in the LLC. Instead of finding satisfactory answers, I just found more questions–hundreds of them. But it became apparent very quickly that those issues are not just limited to Laestadianism (the LLC variety or otherwise), but also Lutheranism, Christianity, the Bible, and the many conflicting and changing attributes that mere men have assigned to God throughout history.

    Yes, I certainly do criticize the Bible and Christian faith itself. Why should it be any more immune to question than Laestadianism? I was raised with the belief that Conservative Laestadianism is the only authentic form of Christianity. The assumption that is placed in our minds from earliest childhood as Laestadians (at least the SRK/LLC, OALC, FALC, and IALC varieties) is that everything else is dead faith, that the sincere, God-fearing Christians around us in society are believing in a mere delusion, an empty, dead faith. It's not a surprise that someone who discovers the many flaws with his or her own particular sect goes on to investigate “the Christian faith itself” with a great deal of skepticism.

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  11. Yeah, "destructive group of people" didn't sit well with me either when I hurriedly wrote it this afternoon. I am still acquainted to some very kind souls from the FALC and agree that many of the individuals themselves are not destructive. I guess I was more referencing the entities as a whole and it's warping of whom the chosen ones/"believers" are and how to behave on earth to be one of them. Be well and God's Peace be unto you.

    JP

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  12. Same to you, JP. Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

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  13. I wondered how this post would be received by the community here in general, as I’ve noticed that many still profess to be Christians. The irony of course is that, judging by comments on this thread and elsewhere, these “Christians” are espousing the very same attitudes they angrily reject from their Laestadian/ALC church of origin. They dismiss their “we’re the only ones that are saved” rhetoric as hostile/exclusionary/etc., but follow it up with more pablum about Salvation for the Believers of God’s Word that might as well be from the FALC or LLC itself.
    The painful (at least at first) truth is that any truly honest and objective study of the Bible can only result in the admission that it is filled with historical inaccuracies, blatant falsehoods and contradictions, and a vengeful, bloodthirsty and sadistic God, especially in (but not limited to) the Old Testament. Once the realization hits that this object of veneration is not the “inerrant Word of God” but merely the work of a series of human scribes trying to create (and convert others to believe in) their version of a creator, the entire house of cards falls down mighty quickly.
    Are there good messages in the Bible? Yes. And Jesus’ repeated espousal of love for your neighbor is especially poignant. But for nearly two thousand years and still even today, “Christians” have used the numerous passages of condemnation of the “other” (read: unbelievers, homosexuals, rival tribes or other Satan-afflicted wretches) to sow negativity and destruction. This is largely a book of mythology, and a confusing, contradictory and wickedly violent one at that, and again I salute Ed for the intellectually honest and painstaking endeavor he undertook to continue its exposition.
    For the record, I believe in a Creator. It just bears no resemblance to the very human-like Father Figure of the Bible. I also believe Jesus most likely existed and insofar as the veracity of the Gospels can be trusted, was a sage rabbi. But the truth is that the “story” of Christ is a blatant plagiarism of previous and well-known Savior stories (virgin birth, etc.), with a dash of outright “making stuff up” designed to “fulfill” Old Testament prophecies (Joseph and Mary traveling to Bethlehem for the Census, Jesus simultaneously riding a colt and a donkey into Jerusalem, miracles, etc.).
    Fun fact: despite Jesus supposedly having ministered to tens of thousands of people, there are NO contemporary records of his existence until Paul’s writings 25 years or so after his death. None. And there are numerous recorded histories written from that time in that region, but not one mentions the amazing Jewish miracle worker with the legion of followers.

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  14. anono-
    It's been recommended here before and I recommend again the book Leaving the Fold by Marge Winnell for the person who doesn't know where he would go...

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  15. Freethinker, while I agree with your take on the Bible and the story of Jesus, your tone sounds as strident and non-accepting as those you decry.

    Everyone is on a path, including you and me. We believe what our eyes and ears permit us to see and hear.

    Jesus's strongest message was to love one another and he did not specify that we all had to believe the same things! So I cut my fellow travelers some slack and try to love them as I love myself. SISU

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  16. One of my strongest personality traits is a love of debate, and from time to time I have been accused of being too caustic. I'd apologize for it, but it is what it is (God made me this way, as it were).

    It strikes me as irksome that the vast majority of those who criticize Ed and his work don't bother refuting any of his conclusions or arguments based on evidence. Rather, they tend to reproach him from a "I'm worried for your soul because you've fallen victim to Satan" standpoint. Again, it's intellectually dishonest, and for those of us who believe Satan is as real as Hades, laughable.

    It's the old "it's in the Bible so it's true because it's in the Bible" canard. You can twist yourself into a series of knots trying to follow that bit of circular reasoning.

    Having said that, I will take your bit of advice to heart, SISU, and try to remember to cut my fellow travelers some slack and love them as Jesus himself did. (For all my gripes about Christianity, his message is one I largely admire and try to adhere to. There's a reason it resonates even today).

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  17. EX FALC says:

    Freethinker, I am pretty much on the same page with you as far as my views on religion. Nothing on the bible can be proven and we can't read other people's minds, so I will be the last person to go around judging someone's soul salvation. I have a much more open mind when it comes to religion and the older I get the wider my mind opens. I also enjoy debating, and tend to get along better with people who stand for something, instead of those who are "doormats" who don't think for themselves.

    Now pondering SISU's comment:
    "Jesus's strongest message was to love one another and he did not specify that we all had to believe the same things! So I cut my fellow travelers some slack and try to love them as I love myself."

    When you take a look at the history of the the Laestadian movement and all the different splits, and all the people hurt in the process, I believe the majority of this would have been prevented if they put their focus on loving others, instead of judging someone else's faith and beliefs.

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  18. The dark side of the Bible came up in an LLC sermon recently. The preacher said, “God’s word did not give slaves of that time permission to flee their masters. They were possessions, human possessions of people, and so by fleeing you were transgressing the law and the will of your master.”

    I get a little tired of being the unofficial wet blanket for Conservative Laestadianism in North America, but there was no way I was going to just sit quietly while something like that was being preached in a church where I still have loved ones spending their lives. The hypocrisy of using the Bible—with all of its horrors and nonsense—as a basis for preaching about morality is just too much, especially for a church that seems to focus its moral concerns on ridiculous non-issues like school sports and earrings.

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  19. I've always been so curious about the actual rules of the LLC. From the outside (FALC rumor mill mostly) they always seem to be changing. One of my co-workers mentioned yesterday that his Laestadian friends seemed to only be able to golf for 45 minutes on Sundays. This just cracked me up, I pictured God looking at a stopwatch saying "Times up, or you're going to hell." Anyone know if this is true?

    Plymouth

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  20. Why do people find fault with the Bible? Do you all of a sudden think you know more then God? Don't let your Sisu get the best of you. No wonder the Ladstadian movement is wacko.

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    1. Well, I can't really speak for anyone else, but it's because I looked at it objectively instead of with faith blinders on. Which makes your second sentence nonsensical -- no I don't suddenly think I know more than God. I don't have enough evidence to believe he exists, at least in Biblical form.

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