I’ve been having a little exchange with the super-spiritual Don Camp over on Debunking Christianity. Don is convinced that the Holy Spirit speaks to him directly. He argues that all true Christians™ can hear the Spirit inside their heads, and seems to think this direct contact is as important as, possibly more important than, what it says in God’s Holy Word®.
There are, of course, many Christians who disagree with him, who think hearing voices in your head is flirting with demonic deception and apostasy (Yes, we’re in pot and kettle territory, but isn’t this what internecine squabbling is all about?) Don says he knows it’s the Spirit who talks to him, however, because what it has to say is in keeping with ‘the tenor’ of the New Testament. Here’s how the discussion went, with my contribution in italics:
Don’s opening salvo: Actually, if you ask people who do have God speak or if you look through the Bible and read the experiences of those to whom God spoke, it is rarely that the Spirit speaks what we want to hear. Do you think Paul want to hear that Jesus was lord? Do you think Abraham wanted to hear God tell him to sacrifice his son? Do you think Moses wanted to hear God tell him to return to Egypt? Do you think Jeremiah wanted to hear God’s message of destruction for Jerusalem? Or Jonah that he was to go to Nineveh? Or Isaiah that he musty preach, but no one would listen?
That in fact is one of the tests. If the “voice” tells you what you want to hear, be careful.
Me: Just reading over on Friendly Atheist of the guy who said the Lord told him to behead his partner because she didn’t repent. It doesn’t say whether he ‘wanted’ to hear this or not, but he went ahead anyway. Luckily for him (though not his partner) there were some bible verses that confirmed what the Lord had told him direct.
This the kind of thing you’re talking about, Don?
Don (below): Nope (a good solid argument! John Loftus threatened at this point to ban Don from Debunking Christianity as he’s had enough of his proselytising and lack of argument. Consequently, after another question from me, Don answered more fully.)
Me: Why not? Why is the voice in your head the real deal while this other nutjob’s isn’t? How can you possibly distinguish? He had bible verses to support what he thought the Lord was telling him, just like you do.
You see, Don, there is no way to distinguish between the two because, like yours, the Lord whispering in this guy’s cerebral cortex is exactly the same as the one whispering in yours. They’re both the product of brains suffering from a surfeit of religiosity.
Don: ‘How can you possibly distinguish?’
Pretty much everyone can identify self-talk. No Christian mistakes the Spirit speaking with self-talk.
‘He had bible verses to support what he thought the Lord was telling him, just like you do.’
It is not simply a matter of finding a verse somewhere and yanking it out of context so that it can mean whatever you wish. That is superstitious and dishonest to the Bible. The question is whether what you feel the Spirit saying to you is is in conformity to the general tenor and tone of Scripture and in particular with the general tenor and tone of the New Testament. I say that because the general tone and tenor is incomplete until we come to the New Testament.
In the case you refer to, I cannot find anything in the New Testament that would allow beheading anyone for any reason. Rather I find a lot that tells us to love our enemy and to love the sinner, repentance or not.
Find me one place where Jesus said anything that would allow one of his followers to take another person’s life. What he said was love others, love the sinner, treat with kindness those who disrespect and even purposefully misuse you.
Find me one place where Paul said anything that would allow a Christian apart from acting under the authority of the state to take another’s life.
Both he and Jesus allow that an unrepentant person who claims to be a follower of Jesus might be excluded from the fellowship of Christians. But nowhere is there any warrant for beheading anyone anywhere.
The person who finds such warrant is misreading and misusing the Scripture
Me: ‘Pretty much everyone can identify self-talk. No Christian mistakes the Spirit speaking with self-talk.’ Though not, apparently, the guy who decapitated his partner. How about the preacher (Steven Anderson) who says the Spirit tells him LGBT people should be executed? Or those who say this self-same Spirit tells them to welcome gay people? Why does the same ‘Spirit of Truth’ provide such contradictory messages?
I feel the Spirit telling me right now, Don, that the voices in your head are nothing more than self-generated delusions.
As for New Testament verses (why you suddenly excluding the blood-soaked Old Testament?) that advocate violence, how about Matthew 10.34-36 where Jesus says he came to bring not peace but a sword? Or Matt 3.10-12 where he says that those who bear bad fruit will be ‘cut down’ and burned ‘with unquenchable fire.’? Or Matt 5.25-30 where he advocates cutting off hands and gouging out eyes when they ‘offend’? There are many more such verses attributed to Jesus; violence is easily justified with the words of your ‘peace-loving’ fraud, Don.
As for Paul, how about Romans 1.31-32 or 1 Thessalonians 1.10? Do you ever read this damnable book for yourself, Don, or do you just rely on hearing voices in your head telling you what you want to hear?
Don: ‘How about the preacher (Steven Anderson) who says the Spirit tells him LGBT people should be executed?’
He is wrong. And everyone I know
‘how about Matthew 10.34-36 where Jesus says he came to bring not peace but a sword?’
The sword would be that which would be directed against them – as it was of Jesus.
‘Or Matt 3.10-12 where he says that those who bear bad fruit will be ‘cut down’ and burned ‘with unquenchable fire.’?’
It is not Christians who will do this. This is God’s final judgment. The King who has that authority will judge.
‘Or Matt 5.25-30 where he advocates cutting off hands and gouging out eyes when they ‘offend’?’
This is a metaphor. It is neither your hands or eye that offends. Evil comes from the heart (the inner person).
‘As for Paul, how about Romans 1.31-32′
It is not Christians who will judge the sins listed here. This is God’s judgment.
‘or 1 Thessalonians 1.10?’
This also is God’s judgment.
I said, if you recall, that Christians are never called to behead anyone anywhere, that they are to love their enemies and to do good to them rather than harm. There will be no “voice in the head” from God that tells a Christian to do harm – except as the agent of a government, which does have the God-given right to enforce justice.
Christians are called to follow Jesus. And he picked up no stone or sword to do violence to anyone.
But I did not say that God would not judge evil. That is his right and prerogative. He will certainly do so.
Me: All neatly side-stepped with the usual ‘he didn’t really mean what he clearly says.’ (Your response to the sword quote is particularly ludicrous: Jesus has just told the disciples to bring their swords to the garden in anticipation of his arrest; Peter actually uses his!)
I guess this kind of self-deception – you’re fooling no-one else – is why you can suggest Steven Anderson ‘and everyone I know’ is wrong. Only you are right, Don; the voice in your head says so.
Don: ‘You can suggest Steven Anderson ‘and everyone I know’ is wrong. Only you are right, Don’;
Sorry. The failure to complete the sentence was a fault of not proof reading. It should read “everyone I know” agrees. (I knew this really.)
So let me say this carefully. I personally know of no Christian who condones Anderson’s act of beheading his partner. We all find it totally out of step with the words and character of Jesus. In a word, Anderson is a nut job on the order of a terrorist or atheist who walked into a Texas church and shot 20 plus people. They are all carried along by some passion that the rest of us would find far over the edge.
Me: Well, as you say it carefully that you and your buddies know personally that these other guys are wrong, I guess I’m convinced.
Unfortunately, the other fruitloops I’ve mentioned are as convinced as you are that the Lord (of Murder and Genocide) is really speaking to them. You see how subjective it all is, Don?
Btw, Steven Anderson isn’t the Christian who decapitated his partner; Anderson is your brother in the Lord – a preacher no less – who says the Holy Spirit has told him that gay people deserve death (because the bible says so.)
Don: ‘the other fruitloops I’ve mentioned are as convinced as you are that the Lord (of Murder and Genocide) is really speaking to them. You see how subjective it all is, Don?’
Self-talk, whether positive or negative, is subjective. No one else hears your internal talking to yourself. BTW there is nothing wrong with self-talk. We all do it.
Schizophrenia delusions (see https://www.aristada.com/wh… are also subjective. In this case almost everyone who is not schizophrenic can identify the unreality of the messages and hallucinations of a schizophrenic.
My own experience with schizophrenics is that they rarely if ever act in positive ways. They are fearful and troubled and riven people. Far more often their delusions cause them to act in anti-social and even violent ways. I would say that the person who beheaded his partner seems schizophrenic. I wonder if many of the mass shooters are not schizophrenic. We certainly know that some have been.
Schizophrenics can mix religious talk into their delusions. But we should not imagine that these are meaningful any more than the delusions they see.
Neither self-talk nor schizophrenic delusions describe the kind of God-speaking believers experience. They are different in kind not merely in degree.
‘Anderson . . . says the Holy Spirit has told him that gay people deserve death (because the bible says so.)’
The Bible says that we all deserve death. I deserve death. You deserve death. Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
But that fact is not a mandate for any follower of Jesus to kill another person.
I do not know what Anderson did with his word from the Lord. If he organized a lynch mob, he is violating the word and tenor of the New Testament. If he argued that gay people should be denied their civil rights or in any way treated as enemies of Christians (yes, this what Anderson advocates, as well as the state execution of gay people), he is violating the word and tenor of the New Testament. If I remember right, Jesus was a friend of sinners not their executioner. And I do not know of any instance in which Jesus made a distinction between me as a heterosexual sinner and any homosexual sinner. We are all the same.
Jesus message to every sinner – and that was everyone he met – was repent and and seek the kingdom of God.
Me: This is the last time I’m going to respond to this nonsense. I have a godless life to be getting on with.
So, let me see if I’ve got this right: anyone who hears a different voice from yours, or receives a message from the Lord that’s at odds with your highly selective, rose-colored perspective of the bible, is schizophrenic.
You sure you’re not in two minds about this, Don?
Which all just goes to show how pointless it is arguing with someone in whom the Delusion is very strong.
I want to return to Jesus’ advocacy of violence and self-harm soon. These parts of his inspirational teaching are so overlooked, don’t you think?