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March 20, 2012

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I’ve never been able to get too excited about organizing around agreement on controversial issues and publicly high-fiving each other for being king of the rational hill, regardless of whether this is done by Christians or atheists, both of which are known to be regular offenders. It strikes me as self-indulgent and narcissistic to eagerly remind others of how exceedingly rational one’s own sect is for holding the beliefs they do about highly uncertain and disputable items. I guess we’d all like to write our own reviews.

Malebranche,

Obviously atheists such as the ones at Reason Rally don't believe their beliefs are "highly uncertain and disputable" and neither would the Christians such as those linked to in the blog.

Isn't it a bit myopic to assume the atheists and Christians must agree with your own assessment of the strength of the data?

And when our youth are constantly lied to and told by history-writers, media star and even their schools that their faith is irrational then it is perfectly appropriate and not a matter of slapping palms to point out the rationality of belief.

The rally is in D.C.and the Atheists have been determined to be there. :-)

It strikes me as self-indulgent and narcissistic to eagerly remind others of how exceedingly rational one’s own sect is for holding the beliefs they do about highly uncertain and disputable items.

Hmmmm.

The organizers give some of their goals here .Read Why are we doing this? and Are we just going to use this opportunity to trash religion? and What do you hope to achieve from this Rally?


RonH

I'm kinda with Malebranche on this one; you see, we can reason and debate all we want, but the fact of the matter is that "the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing" (1 Cor. 1:18). Ultimately, no matter how hard we argue and reason, there are always going to be those who regard the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ as irrational (i.e., foolishness). I think that in itself points up the notion that these are ultimately heart-issues involving individuals and not head-issues involving different camps.

That's why I'm not a fan of these "one-upmanship" rallies or conferences or what have you; it smacks too much with the political attitude of "keeping up with the Jones".

I am NOT saying that we should not be engaged in positive, forceful, convicting debate and reasoning; obviously there are tons of people who have come to Christ as a result of logical, persuasive reasoning.

I AM saying that we shouldn't depend on this as our human effort to "right the world"; we are enabled to use this as a tool and depend on God's Spirit to produce a work in individuals' lives as a result of hearing the Word. When I see rallies, etc., that give the appearance that "we gotta represent just because the other side is having their own rally", then I attribute that more to human effort than proclaiming the logical and reasonable Gospel of Christ.

Maybe if they hadn't specifically invited Westboro Baptist to come, I'd be less cynical.

or conflate "non-theism" with "secularism" with "reason".

Trent,

What source do you have that Westboro Baptist was specifically invited?

RonH

It was in another blog. I'll have to search around and find it.

Check out Richarddawkins.net.

The claim is that they were invited by Jim Klawon, Deputy Vice President of Adminstration of the National Atheist Party by a letter sent to Pastor Fred Phelps, perhaps because Phelps' estranged son is scheduled to speak.

They have a link to a picture of the letter inviting them to attend, and announcing many celebrities and even Richard Dawkins will be there and he may sign one of his books for them.

Here you go, Ron: The Reason Rally and the Westboro Invitation.

Here's the actual invitation.

perhaps because Phelps' estranged son is scheduled to speak.

I think it was a tactical move. They'll get all the attention and make all the Christians who were going there to talk to people look bad. You can see how they're using the Westboro people here.

You can read more about the background to all of this here.

Another group was specifically told they were not welcome, because they do not want to dialogue with people believe rediculous things. Sounds like the Westboro folks are being invited so they can be penned in a little zoo for atheists to gawk at.

http://www.thinkingchristian.net/2012/03/reason-rally-organizer-says-no-dialogue/

Exactly. The Westboro people are there to confirm the atheists' view of Christians, to publicize that negative view via the press, and to make the atheists feel good about themselves. (I suspect it's also to neutralize the organized plans by Christians to talk to the atheists there one-on-one.)

I think they mention that would be an unlicensed counter-protest and that they would have extra security to deal with that.

This is abot as reasonable as a Jewish group inviting the Aryan Nation to a rally, as an example of an average gentile.

"Spreading out among the crowd is not a substitute for a permit. Indeed, I will be meeting with the Parks Commission on Thursday to discuss how to handle your infiltrative permitless counter-protest." - David Silverman, president of American Atheists.

I really admire the gumption of those who would argue with stiff-necked atheists.

But I'm sure how profitable it is.

Personally, I just like to find people who are really being had by this world and who are at or near the end of their rope...and then tell them about what Christ has done about it. Tell them of the promises of Christ, to love and forgive them and give them new again, when they'll need it. And let it go at that. Leave the rest up to the Lord.

But that's just me.

Thanks.

I mean be wrong, but this sounds like a losing proposition for Believers. Rather than give the atheists fuel for their fire, it might be interesting for Christians who are there to be SERVING in some capacity other than debate. Maybe serving refreshments or voluntarily directing traffic to the event! I haven't thought this through a lot, but it's not as tongue-in-cheek as it sounds! Just a thought!

Amy,

Those who made the 'invitation' give their reasons here:

1) publicity
2) 'to show who we are not' (in other words: publicity)

The priority is to get as many non-believers to the rally as possible and to make those who can't be there at least aware that the event happened.

Note also that the people who made the 'invitation' apparently got some heat for it from others in the community.

The WBC seems to be an orthodox Christian church yet you seem to want to avoid any association. I assume the demonstrations etc. have something to do with that and I don't blame you. But how do the demonstrations justify it? What do they do that takes them out of Christianity? If a member of your church joined them in their activities would that member be kicked out?

RonH

RonH,

In fact, WBC doesn't seem anything like an orthodox Christian church. This should be obvious from the fact that you only know about this "church" because it is so unorthodox.

Hey RonH,
You're pretty handy with the Google.
Why did you need others to show you that the invite issued to WBC was legit?
Why did you think it was not legit and why have you shifted to defending the invite?

Notice that in justifying this stunt the National Atheist says that WBC has quite a following. They do generate media attention, of course, as the media is quite eager to see Christians behaving badly, but how is a 40-person congregation supposed to be substantial, or representative?

Steve Martin, my natural instinct is much the same. one problem I haven't settled with this approach is that it can easily lead to an ambassadorship that only reaches the open and interested while inviting the allegation-and-hurdle that "Christianity is only for the weak and therefore is probably wanting as well." Would love your thoughts.

While everybody's entitled to their opinion, I'm not sure showing up in force at their rally to shout them down is really going to do anything to help disprove their allegations of Christian oppression. Indeed, I can't see how many wouldn't see it as proof.

Hey Marc,
Who is planning on shouting or oppressing?

I think the point here is not that they want to party on thir own. No problem there.

I think the point is that in the name of reason, they have invited a particular group of christians for the purpose of mocking them (locking them in a pen when they arrive and having a speaker explain why he wants nothing to do with them) and have explicitly told other groups to stay away because they don't want christians there.

The point is that they want Chrisitians to ignore their views when it comes to politics and act reasonably (ie agree with them), and this is their example of the acceptable way of acting reasonable. Inviting those of different opinions over to talk, and then locking them in a zoo as a display.

Why do I get the mental picture of Ape City from the original Planet of the Apes?

Jonathan,

They are unorthodox in the sense that their demonstrations are unusual (to say the least). But I'm referring to religious beliefs. It's a different meaning of orthodox.

RonH

RonH,

Their actions are a product of their beliefs. Thus, their unorthodox actions are a product of their unorthodox beliefs.

The link you gave doesn't substantiate calling them orthodox.

RonH saw what I posted above.

Jonathan,

Do you mean that no true Christian would do the things they do?

RonH

Daron,

Why did you need others to show you that the invite issued to WBC was legit?

I didn't find anything on the 'invitation' on my initial search. More searching was going to delay my bike ride. (Not good.) So I just asked Trent. It felt like asking for directions. ;)

Why did you think it was not legit[?]

I knew Nate Phelps was going to speak. He's the estranged son of Fred and an atheist. It seemed pretty odd that Nate and the WBC would both be invited. In fact, I couldn't think of a reason to invite WBC with or without Nate. (It's probably good that I'm not in PR or advertising.) I thought maybe Trent read something about Nate appearing and maybe Trent thought Nate was still in WBC. I also thought Trend might have seen an actual WBC invitation even though my quick search missed it.

[W]hy have you shifted to defending the invite?

Actually, I have mixed feelings about the WBC 'invite' so I'm not defending it. I definitely do think it makes sense to read what the people who made the 'invitation' have to say before you decide what their motivation is.

I think the publicity may be good for our movement and it may be good 'to show who we are not'. But there's clearly a risk. Another downside is the thought that this is gift of publicity to WBC.


RonH

Thanks, RonH.
That's a well-composed answer.

Speaking of "Westboro" and "invitation".
Here's what search of those two words yielded me.

Google.

Ron,

I don't really see the relevance of your question unless you think orthodox=Christian. But I'm not sure why you would think that (and thus why you ask the question). One can be unorthodox and Christian, I think. One can also be a Christian who is guilty of serious sin. And one can be a Christian who is guilty of a sin and unrepentant such that they should be excommunicated from the church.

Whether the members of WBC are Christian or not, I would say I have good reasons to think they are not, but I could be wrong.

I really haven't paid much attention to them as they just a handful of people who have been almost universally condemned by Christians and non-Christians (even the KKK, as I just learned by skimming their Wikipedia page). No one seems to take them seriously, and rightfully so from what I've heard, so I haven't felt it necessary to do so either. I met a bum a few months ago when I was down town. It was around the time of the DC earthquake. He was saying similar stuff to the WBC people, only directing it towards all white people. I thought this was pretty funny, since he was white. Maybe the atheists would like to invite this guy too? If they are going to waste time with the WBC people why not him.

Jonathan,

You are familiar with the idea of essential beliefs of Christianity, right? I'm under the impression that if you share those beliefs - things like the Trinity, and the divinity of Jesus - you are Christian and saved.

I'm hear some Christians who are very reluctant to actually say someone is not saved - especially if that person claims to be Christian. Then, there are others who are not so very reluctant.

... to be continued..

RonH

...

Actually, yes, I do think orthodox=Christian - for a certain sense of orthodox. Maybe I'm wrong but...

If you belief the orthodox things, then you are Christian.

And, if you are Christian, then you believe the orthodox things.

I'm not sure about how getting kicked out of a church fits in here. Maybe you are kicked out without anything being said about whether you are Christian.

RonH

Ron,

You're simply misinformed about Christianity and what constitutes a Christian. A person can believe in things like the Trinity and not be saved. I believe Satan believes in the Trinity, but is not saved.

You say, "Actually, yes, I do think orthodox=Christian - for a certain sense of orthodox. Maybe I'm wrong but..."

Yes, you're wrong. See above.

Jonathan,

You have a point regarding Satan: besides believing all the essentials, you have to accept salvation.

I don't claim to be well informed on this. That's why I asked my original question.

The WBC people claim to believe. How does one justify not counting them among Christians?

Normally, the standard is high for rejecting such a claim.

Normally the standard is very low for accepting someones claim that they ARE a Christian.

How are these bars set?

How have these been applied to WBC?

RonH

Ron,

Why persons would not count them as Christians seems obvious enough (John 13:34-35, etc). Surely whatever little you know you know that much about it.

As Amy pointed out a while ago, associating WBC with Christians (or Christians in general) is just a tactical move. In this thread you've just been trying to execute the tactic. Or testing the waters, so to speak, to see what you might get away with. I don't think it's worthy of serious consideration. I've said enough on it already, the tactic has failed (at least here). I'm moving going to move on now.

Till next time...

Christ said there would be some who claimed to be Christians that he will deny having any association with.

When the URL for a purported church's website is so obscene it can't be said in polite company, I think it's fair to say that just putting up the Nicene Creed on their bulletin isn't going to cut it when they stand before CNN, much less God Himself, and claim to represent Christ.

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