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otseng
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 9:45 pm  Christians are Revolting - Sean Lauren Reply with quote

This thread will debate the book Christians are Revolting: An Infidel's Progress, by Sean Lauren.

We will go through the book one chapter at a time and discuss the contents of each chapter. I anticipate we'll spend several days on each chapter and then move on to the next one. Please avoid jumping ahead, but you're free to discuss previous chapters (for those that join late). We'll end the debate with each person giving a general overview of the book. The thread will then be closed.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 141: Sun Jan 20, 2019 10:37 am
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Re: Ch. 10 - A twisted path

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[Replying to post 140 by otseng]

I think you're hitting my point exactly, actually. As you said, the RCC is set up in such a way as to cause pedophilia. There is no similar atheistic institution that is set up in such a way as to cause this. I forget the context of when I said "often" atheists are more moral, but I don't think I intended to say "on average". The point is that Christianity, as you said, does not seem to be an indicator of morality. Christians and atheists alike are perhaps about as ethical on average. Still, I think Christianity has a few setbacks that cause more of certain sins such as pedophelia and oppression of women even though atheists also do such things. So this does not necessarily add a predictive ability, but if we add up the numbers, Christianity might very well be slightly above the average in some ways and probably lower in others. If we take an atheist and make them "as moral as one could be" given their beliefs and take a Christian and do likewise, I think a perfect Christian would be less moral than the perfect atheist. Christians would remain discriminatory to homosexuals and perhaps continue to assume women are subservient to men. Of course, from a Christian perspective, this is perfectly moral and from an atheistic perspective it is just the opposite. If we correct and revert to the "original" teachings of Jesus to love and ditch the religiosity, I think Christians can continue being Christian and become on equal footing with the "perfect" moral atheist and "perfect" moral Christian analogy.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 142: Sun Jan 27, 2019 5:17 pm
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Peace to you,

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There are also many Christians taking advantage of the poor and sick by encouraging them to give tithes as a demonstration of their faith in order to obtain healing or financial freedom. Such pastors run their churches as pure money-making businesses. One might even say that these Christian leaders “devour widows houses” in the same way as the Pharisees whom Jesus condemned in Mark 12:40.

Lauren, Sean. Christians Are Revolting: An Infidel's Progress . Fool's Errand Development. Kindle Edition.



Other than changing "many Christians" to "many who profess to be Christian", I have to agree with this.


In fact, you can find religions (and the men in them) that LITERALLY rob orphans of their rightful inheritance; that literally devour widow's houses. Because there are religions that "suggest" that a person donate their estate to the religion, upon that person's death (as well as any money/savings/life insurance policies, etc, that they have).

The religion (and the men in it) are thereby robbing children (orphans) of their rightful inheritance.



Peace to you!

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 143: Sun Jan 27, 2019 5:38 pm
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[Replying to post 142 by tam]

Tam, how do we know which people merely "profess" Christianity vs those who truly are? That was one of my main problems within the book is that most every Christian I ever met fell into the category of "professed" in my eyes with no true Christians in sight.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 144: Sun Jan 27, 2019 8:43 pm
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Ch. 11 - To Atheist and Back Again

Like this post (1): ElCodeMonkey
Chapter 11.

"Still hoping that a non-existent God could prove true, I scoured forums looking for answers and I started taking part in one forum called Debating Christianity and Religion (DCR)."

As far as I know, this book is the only publication that has made a reference to this forum!

"In only three or four years, I went from spouting the awesome graces of God as I faithfully rejected a material world in exchange for a spiritual one, to being thrown in jail for beating my own wife."

I'm impressed with how transparent you are in the book! And it's an interesting situation of how this lead you back to the faith. I think rarely do intellectual discussions (such as the one on this forum) convert people, but traumatic experiences such as this results more often in conversions (or deconversions).

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 145: Mon Jan 28, 2019 6:55 am
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Re: Ch. 11 - To Atheist and Back Again

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otseng wrote:
I think rarely do intellectual discussions (such as the one on this forum) convert people, but traumatic experiences such as this results more often in conversions (or deconversions).

I think this is a strong argument against reasonable faith. It's not generally based upon reason but an emotional need looking for an emotional outlet. That, or you're just born with it (i.e. parents). The emotional jump to God is just one of the many ways we've adapted to press on despite what bothers us. One of the best placebos for pain, perhaps. I forget which book it was, but it talked about how people tend to reasonably come out of Christianity but emotionally enter it. Few people emotionally leave Christianity. It does happen if, say, a loved one dies and someone gets mad at God for allowing it, but it's far more rare than the other way around and I think we'd be super hard-pressed to find an atheist coming to Christianity by slowly noting all the logical reasons to believe over time.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 146: Tue Jan 29, 2019 8:55 pm
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Peace to you!

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[quote="ElCodeMonkey"]
[Replying to post 142 by tam]

Tam, how do we know which people merely "profess" Christianity vs those who truly are? That was one of my main problems within the book is that most every Christian I ever met fell into the category of "professed" in my eyes with no true Christians in sight.



A Christian is one who is anointed with holy spirit. A person who professes to be Christian (not to be confused with professing "Christianity"), may or may not be Christian.


I tend to focus more upon the words that a person speaks - and test those against my Lord and His words. (my Lord taught me to test the inspired expression) If they are speaking true, then what problem would I have with them; if they are speaking false, then how can their words be from Christ?

(Of course, they could just have misunderstood something, and I could share the truth with them as I have received from my Lord.)


As to deeds, some things should be obvious. No one conducting the inquisition or burning people at the stake were listening to Christ; certainly those who ordered such things were not Christian. And how were they (or the religions that ordered/ approved these things) - displaying the fruits of the Spirit (peace, joy, gentleness, love, mercy, etc.)?

But one cannot tell who is a Christian (or not) by the music that they listen to, or by the physical food that they eat, or by the movies that they watch, or whether they drink or smoke, etc.


Personally, I do not concern myself too much with it. I am to keep my eyes upon my Lord, bear witness to Him, share as He has given me, and the rest is not up to me.


**

(Just as a side note, a disciple of Christ is not necessarily yet a Christian, since one is a disciple first, before being anointed with holy spirit. Many disciples left Christ before He breathed holy spirit upon them, and even the apostles were not Christian until after they received holy spirit).




Peace again to you,
your servant and a slave of Christ,
tammy

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 147: Tue Jan 29, 2019 11:03 pm
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[Replying to post 146 by tam]

Tam, my point was to indicate that Christianity was harmful or causing harm. By saying they are only "professed" Christians rather than "real" ones because of the very harm they're committing, it takes away the possibility of ever having a coherent argument that Christianity is harmful. Any harm is thus not Christianity. This is a common fallacy called "Moving the Goalpost." I can never say anything bad about Christianity because, by definition, it could only be good. So instead, I'm lumping even these "professed" Christians in the same category as "real" ones because there is no meaningful distinction by which we can know.

tam wrote:
I tend to focus more upon the words that a person speaks - and test those against my Lord and His words. (my Lord taught me to test the inspired expression) If they are speaking true, then what problem would I have with them; if they are speaking false, then how can their words be from Christ?

The problem with this is that you'd have to know everything yourself. You can't know if someone is speaking truth unless you know what truth is yourself. In short, you're basically saying that people must agree with you or else they're not Christians. Or, at the very least, you know which things you don't truly know and you know for absolute certainty that those things you believe you know are indeed true. Either way, you need some form of absolute knowledge. And yet, you cannot even know any better than I if we are simply computer programs in an elaborate machine. It's simply impossible to have such surety of anything to know if someone speaks truth. I lost a lot of friends due to people thinking I spoke lies simply because I disagreed and had a differing opinion.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 148: Wed Jan 30, 2019 1:11 am
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Peace to you ECM,

ElCodeMonkey wrote:

[Replying to post 146 by tam]

Tam, my point was to indicate that Christianity was harmful or causing harm. By saying they are only "professed" Christians rather than "real" ones because of the very harm they're committing, it takes away the possibility of ever having a coherent argument that Christianity is harmful. Any harm is thus not Christianity. This is a common fallacy called "Moving the Goalpost." I can never say anything bad about Christianity because, by definition, it could only be good. So instead, I'm lumping even these "professed" Christians in the same category as "real" ones because there is no meaningful distinction by which we can know.



But I never said that Christianity (the organized religion) is not harmful.


In post 141, I agreed with your specific point (which I quoted) and I even added an example in support of your point.

I just also added for clarification: Other than changing "many Christians" to "many who profess to be Christian", I have to agree with this.

I did not add this because I was attempting to move the goalposts. I was not being defensive or feeling attacked or annoyed or anything like that. But I was agreeing with your quote, so I had to clarify what part I agreed with (since part of that quote was not accurate).

It was a simple clarification for the sake of accuracy. I did not even expect us to be discussing it.

But now that we are, lol... you mentioned the harms of Christianity, right? Well, falsehood contributes to confusion, to obscuring the truth and misleading people, and therefore causes harm.



Quote:
tam wrote:
I tend to focus more upon the words that a person speaks - and test those against my Lord and His words. (my Lord taught me to test the inspired expression) If they are speaking true, then what problem would I have with them; if they are speaking false, then how can their words be from Christ?

The problem with this is that you'd have to know everything yourself. You can't know if someone is speaking truth unless you know what truth is yourself. In short, you're basically saying that people must agree with you or else they're not Christians.


So I am just going to clarify something (and this is just a part of what I said).

I did not say that someone who speaks in error is not Christian because of their error. I meant only that someone who said something false would not have received that falsehood from Christ.




Peace again to you!

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 149: Sat Feb 02, 2019 4:48 pm
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Re: Christians are Revolting - Sean Lauren

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[Replying to post 1 by otseng]
I could have sworn I posted a link to my review earlier, but I can't seem to find the post. Let me try again.

My review of Sean's book: https://www.gerizimpublishing.com/christians-are-revolting

'It's hard to know just where to begin a review of Sean Lauren's fast-moving and lucid autobiographical exploration of Christianity, Christians Are Revolting: An Infidel's Progress. So I will start with the title.

Nearing the end of the book, having surveyed some of the uglier aspects of Christian doctrine and history, Mr. Lauren says, "I no longer saw Christians as revolting against God – instead, I could now see them as revolting in general." In other words, whereas at one time he had seen popular Christianity as a rather harmless aberration of what Jesus had lived and taught, he gradually came to see it as active tool of oppression, hence a source of revulsion. This devolution of the modern Christian ideal in the author's mind – from the highest expression of truth and love, to a well-meaning misapplication of the teachings of Jesus, to an actual force for evil – seems to be the book's overriding theme.

With a style that is remarkably fluid, informal, self-effacing, sometimes bitterly sarcastic and other times simply hilarious, Mr. Lauren sketches out his experiences in and of Christianity that led finally to his atheistic break with religious faith altogether. Along the way various other themes repeatedly emerge: the human tendency toward confirmation bias; hypocrisy among Christians; what it means for God to have a plan for individuals; the need for reform in the church; eschatology and the kingdom of God; the nature of faith and righteousness; and perhaps most of all, love. Being a former Christian and current atheist he hopes, he says, to serve as a "mediator" between Christians and atheists. At the same time he remains open to the possibility of a re-conversion, but on a condition: "If Christians wholeheartedly began to actually follow Jesus..." Despite his atheism he thus writes not as an embittered apostate and enemy of the church, but with the stated purpose of seeing Christianity restored.

To this reviewer Lauren writes with refreshing candor. He openly discusses his own failures, biases, unfounded assumptions, instances of self-righteousness, misunderstandings and misinterpretations. At one point he describes what he had learned about himself one summer: "I was passionate, knowledgeable, insecure, committed, and entirely impatient with others." An engineer and once-active member of Mensa, Mr. Lauren is clearly an intelligent as well as honest observer, however, and therefore his observations should be taken seriously. To a surprising extent his story resonated with me, as a Christian who at one time likewise ran afoul of certain questionable doctrines and had painful conflicts with leadership on issues of structure and government. As it turns out, he and I have shared a number of strikingly similar and, yes, faith-discouraging experiences. One begins to wonder how many others there might be with similar stories.

Beginning with his childhood upbringing and tracing his experiences through adulthood, Lauren takes frequent pauses to comment with the wisdom of hindsight. He describes the naively optimistic sincerity of his initial conversion to Christianity, the seeming futility of his prayers, his determination to be a "true follower of Jesus," and then the various disappointments that indeed seem to often plague the lives of even sincere and prayerful believers. Throughout his adventures, he runs into pastors and ministry leaders who appear indifferent, even hostile, to the biblical call to obedience, usually because they consider it an affront to the Reformed idea of righteousness that comes only by faith. He recounts involvement with church groups where it was normal "to think only of one's own career, relationships, and entertainment," and time spent learning the "prosperity gospel," by which preachers unashamedly made themselves rich at the expense of their poor and struggling church members. He recalls encounters with emotional manipulators passed off as miracle healers.

At various points the narrative raises serious questions for Christian believers. If we are ultimately "the product of our environment and our genes," as a certain reading of natural science might suggest, can we rightly be blamed for our behavior? If a life spent for God appears to achieve nothing but poverty and frustration, was Pascal really right to say there is "nothing to lose" in choosing faith over unbelief? If every religion claims itself to be true and the others false, is it likely that just one of them really is true? And finally: if everything that happens, no matter how evidently unfair or horrific, can be worked into a theology that defends God's goodness, is that theology any longer meaningful?

As a Christian apologist, I am confident that there are satisfactory, rational answers to these questions. Nonetheless, Lauren's manner of introducing those questions, in the context of some deeply painful and confusing real-life circumstances, gives them an emotional force that may not be felt in the reading of, say, an article in a philosophy journal outlining the problem of evil. Too often, apologetics comes across as a means of shielding believers from difficult questions, rather than the process of answering those questions only after facing them squarely. I can add as a believer that questions like these tend to arise out of hurt and disappointment and not simply from a detached intellect. In that case we have another example of a great need calling for the kind of heartfelt pastoral care that is, as Mr. Lauren takes pains to point out, frequently lacking in the churches.

Despite its atheistic theme, I really appreciate this book. If I had to summarize it with just a phrase, I might be tempted to simply draw upon two cultural references, a comedy movie starring Simon Pegg, and a classic treatise on Christian theology and praxis by a brilliant theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: "Sean of the Dead" meets The Cost of Discipleship. That's not to say it has no flaws. In some places the problems and attitudes described in the church appear overblown, while the author writes at times as if his opinion were the final word on complex issues like intense suffering: "God could easily stop anything at all but instead he watches it and personally knows the pain and yet does nothing." Heartfelt and understandable as that sentiment may be, it suggests nothing about exactly what God should do to prevent all sin and suffering, nor does it explain how evil in the world should even be recognized in the first place given a naturalistic or atheistic view of the world.

While I think Mr. Lauren is right to argue that per the New Testament the kingdom of God has already arrived on earth in Jesus, who calls us to a life of active obedience, this is not sufficient evidence to conclude that the message of Christ is not "salvation from hell and eternity in heaven through the blood sacrifice of Jesus." According to most New Testament scholars, for example, the eschatology of the kingdom is best described as both "already" and "not yet;" the kingdom has been inaugurated in the ministry of Jesus but awaits its fulfillment in the consummation of all things at the end of time. The fact that many churches underemphasize the "already," then, hardly means that there is no basis for also embracing the "not yet." That leads to Lauren's thesis that virtually all the problems in Christianity can be traced to what he calls "the three lies": "that the Bible is the Word of God, that Jesus died for our sins, and that Jesus is God." Lauren is correct to note that in themselves and by themselves these doctrines do not encourage responsible actions or righteous conduct. At the same time, these are still foundational truths that appear to be backed solidly by the apostles and by Christ himself. Believing those truths does not contradict or prevent actively loving others as commanded elsewhere by Christ and the apostles, and many theologians would argue that apart from the grace of God genuine love is humanly impossible.

All things considered, though, this was a fascinating, enjoyable and yet provocative true-life tale – at times funny, other times heart-rendingly sad, and mostly a cause for self-reflection and repentance. By the most unlikely of methods, namely a prodding and irreverent atheistic critique of "the Christian life," Christians are Revolting somehow manages to effectively call the church to much-needed renewal.'

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 150: Tue Feb 05, 2019 9:14 pm
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Ch. 12 - Churchification

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Ch. 12 - Churchification

"I posted it to the Debating Christianity forum, but I did not get much of a response as it had been immediately transferred to the random ramblings category for lack of any substance of which to debate."

Well, now you have the power to move topics to Random Ramblings!

"Thinking people and witty people were no laughing matter. They promoted disunity and questioning which is damaging to the business of a church."

"I began to give up on churches again."

I can sympathize with your frustration with churches. It's hard to find a place in typical churches for critical thinkers. Pastors are afraid of controversial topics. It might cause people to leave the church. However, it's quite unlike Jesus. Jesus often said controversial statements and never worried about amassing a huge following.

"Jesus said to them, "Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you." John 6:53

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