A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum

So I’m saved now.

Saved? From what?

My sins.

Your sins. Right. How’d this happen then?

My friend Marcus told me about a new Saviour.

And how did Marcus know about a new Saviour?

Gaius told him.

And Gaius?

His neighbour Livia told him.

And where’d she hear it?

She said she was told it by a travelling preacher.

Well, travelling preachers are always reliable, so sure.

Paûlos I think she said he was called. Anyway, Livia heard him talking about the new Saviour in the forum and she told Gaius, Gaius told Marcus and he told me.

Right. So what did this Paûlos say?

That he’d had a vision or something and had seen this new Saviour in his vision. I think he said he was called Iesous. Something like that.

So a Jewish Saviour then. I take it this Paûlos was Jewish?

I don’t think Livia said.

So what’s a Jewish Saviour to you? Or Livia and Gaius and Marcus for that matter?

Well, that’s the great thing. Marcus said that Gaius said that Livia said that Paûlos said that this particular Jewish Saviour is for everyone, not just Jews.

And Paûlos worked this out from his vision, did he?

Yes. Iesous told him all about it.

In his vision.

Yeah. He told Paûlos that anyone who wanted to could ask him to save them from their sins. So Livia did, and then when she told Gaius, he did too, and then Marcus.

So, Paûlos. He ever meet this Iesous? In the flesh, I mean.

Oh, I don’t think so. Paûlos didn’t need to, you see. Iesous talked to him from Heaven. He didn’t need to meet him.

He say whether he’d met anyone who had actually met him?

No. He knew of some fellas who’d seen Iesous same as him, in marvellous visions, but he said he didn’t need to meet them either. Like I said, Iesous the Saviour spoke to Paûlos direct. You don’t need any more than that. I’m hoping he’ll speak direct to me before long.

So, how’d you know this Iesous existed if nobody knows anyone who’s seen him in the flesh?

I told you, Paûlos saw him right there in his head and Iesous told him all he needed to know. The Saviour said that when he comes down from the sky, which he will real soon, those of us he’s saved will live with him forever, right here on Earth.

Live forever, you say?

Sure. And there’s free wine while we wait.

Free wine? Why didn’t you say? Where do I sign up?



86 thoughts on “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum

    • Thanks, Nan. Everything the new convert in the post says Paulos said is actually from Paul’s letters. How barmy it all sounds in the context of his original preaching. However did it catch on?


  1. This is good!
    And, as don camp and other xtians say, “they had an oral tradition that was perfect, and repeated everything Iesous said, perfectly word for word, so we know that the gospels are true, as they passed the stories around. Nothing was changed!”
    An excellent example of what probably took place…

    Liked by 1 person

      • He’s back!

        I’d say, Don, that it is rather up to you to show that the meaning didn’t change.

        However, here’s a little example to show that it did:
        ‘for whoever is not against us is for us’ (Mark 9:20) and
        ‘Whoever is not with me is against me’ (Matthew 12:30)

        These rather pointless observations, purportedly of Jesus’, actually mean the exact opposite of each other. Somewhere along the line someone altered whichever saying came first.

        (Cue long-winded explanation of how they are both really poetic/metaphorical/not really relevant/fully compatible.)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never thought of them as opposite or incompatible. Mark 9:40 MEANS, in the context of a man casting out demons **in Jesus’ name ** but not following Jesus as the disciples were, that he was not working against Jesus but was actually doing what Jesus had been doing, thus was “for him.” Jesus did not limit those “for him” to only the disciples.

    Matthew 12:30 MEANS, in the context of those who were saying that Jesus cast out demons by the power of Beelzebul, that **these Pharisees and religious leaders who were accusing him of this** were obviously not “with him” but despite their being religious leaders were against him.

    I know, Neil, you are tired of my taking us back to the context, but without the context the statements Jesus made can be taken any way you want and can be made to sound contradictory. The context brings us back to what Jesus meant.


    • Ho hum.

      So he doesn’t draw a general principle from each of these scenarios, designed to be applicable outside of their respective contexts? Sure he does, a snappy little aphorism in each case, unfortunately each diametrically opposed. (I don’t believe you can’t see they say the opposite of each other.)

      Of course the chance Jesus came up with either comment is remarkably low. They and their contexts sound much more like the conclusions of paranoid cultists.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think you suggested they two MEAN the same thing. That is different from APPLICATION. (You know that application may differ with the circumstances, right?)

        So, if I meet someone preaching Jesus on the street in Tacoma, and he isn’t part of my church, maybe even a charismatic group while I am a Baptist, I should not condemn him for doing that. He is after all preaching Jesus. He is not against Jesus but for the same thing I am for. Mark 9:40.

        But if one of my fellow Baptists comes out with a really anti-Jesus sort of idea (Christian nationalism, for example) and begins to preach that and condemn any Christian who doesn’t agree with his spin on things, I should avoid him or even expose his error. He is not with Jesus but against him. Matthew 12:30

        Those are two shoe leather on the street APPLICATIONS.


      • So we’re applying a 21st context now are we? What happened to reading the text as a first-century Christian?

        Where do I say both aphorisms MEAN the same? I don’t; I clearly say the opposite, that the two conflict. Jesus is made to issue two general principles that are in opposition. Their contexts don’t alter the fact that somewhere along the line, one has been changed into the other.

        You try to wheedle your way out of this by shifting from ‘meaning’, which is what we were discussing (you introduced the term), to what you call their APPLICATION. In practice, this seems to mean shunning those whose doctrine you disagree with.

        It won’t do. When it suits you, you avoid any real world APPLICATION of many (most?) of Jesus’ other commands. You insist they’re metaphorical. It’s a disingenuous sleight of hand to appeal now to some ill-defined APPLICATION.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It seemed like I requested something I didn’t? What’s that about reading carefully and not making stupid mistakes?

        In context, two different cultists, one more paranoid than the other either invented, adapted or distorted a saying attributed to Jesus to suit their own level of paranoia. One assures his sect that those who are not actively opposed to them are really supporters. The other warns that the opposite is true: those who are not actively supportive are actually opposed to the sect.

        You really need to learn how to read these things in context, Don.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, Neil. If I tell the bank I make $200,000 a year (in order to get a loan) and I tell the IRS I make $75,000 a year (in order to lower my taxes) there is no conflict. It’s just different context. I don’t understand why you can’t understand context.

        Liked by 1 person

      • They do have somewhat limited applications. If the aphorisms were common in the culture, and I don’t know that, they don’t contradict as Jesus used them. And actually they don’t contradict even logically.

        If you are for me , you are not against me.
        If you are for me you aren’t against me.

        Is it that hard?


      • I’ve told you want it says several times now. Once again; Mark says if others are not against the cult, then they’re for it (which in itself is nonsense) while Matthew says unless others are actively in favour of the cult they’re against it (which again doesn’t follow.) The two sayings are completely different and in opposition to each other. You don’t need to read Greek to see the disparity.

        You are being deliberately obtuse, Don. There is no point in continuing this or any discussion when you don’t read other people’s responses and obstinately stick to your own unjustifiable position.


      • Here’ my check-in. I did read your response, though it was not as I requested, an application of the principle. But never mind.

        No need to read Greek to understand these two statements.

        I continue to see both commands as the same, just one expressed in reverse of the other. But we have spent far too much time quibbling.


      • There is no ‘application’ of the principle. Firstly because there isn’t a ‘principle’ there’s two, as I’ve explained several times. Secondly, both notions are tosh.

        Those who came up with the sayings were extremists, unable to see the possibility of a middle ground; most people then, as now, would neither be for nor against yet another wacky cult. They would be as indifferent as many are today about the proliferating number of Christian sects and sundry other nonsensical belief systems.


      • They’re not important. You asked for an example of changes that had occurred in the ‘oral tradition’. You appeared to believe this hypothetical tradition preserved Jesus’ words reasonably accurately for the 40 years between his death and Mark’s gospel.

        I provided an example of a changed saying. Other commenters provided others. You’ve now declared these changes, which you originally claimed didn’t exist, might exist after all but are unimportant. So which is it?


      • There are differences in the Gospels even when it comes to the quotes of Jesus’ teaching. Everyone recognizes that. And I have always said that. Just compare any of the places where the same episode or teaching is found in two or more of the Gospels. That, by the way, is good evidence the Gospel writers did not copy from one another, at least not verbatim.

        I believe the differences are because there were a number of different oral traditions arising from the oral gospel taught by the Apostles.

        But are there differences in meaning? The several ‘contradictions’ you and others have pointed to, when they are examined closely, say no. The meanings and messages are the same.

        For a long time, Christians in the pews and some Bible teachers have thought the biblical text was somehow downloaded directly from God and that there could not be any errors or mistakes. That seems to be the idea you picked up. But that is simply on the surface of things not so.

        In addition, the process of hand copying the original manuscripts and then the copies over and over again was bound to be imprecise. And textual critics are well aware of that. The whole goal of textual criticism is to restore as much as possible the original text. And I think they have done a good job, Bart Ehrman notwithstanding.

        Despite all that, when I look at the scripture and the various passages you all find problematic, I find the meanings and the messages are the same. And so far, you have not provided evidence otherwise. https://biblicalmusing.blogspot.com/2022/12/insight-into-inspiration.html


      • I have not provided good evidence of what? The fact that the gospels particularly in this passage about the walking sticks pr not copies of one in particular? (I don’t want to be answering a question you are not asking.)

        If that is the question, these three accounts of the same episode are different in about every way possible. They include different details. They are different in grammatical style. They are in different places in the larger narrative. So, why would you think one copied from another? It is far likelier that they all come from the oral gospel that had been preached by the various Apostles and others for thirty years or more.


      • So you concede there are differences in Jesus’ teaching, across the gospels. We could all have been saved a lot of pain if you’d done this earlier.

        Where did the differences come from? I’ve suggested it’s because the gospel writers cribbed from each other and altered sayings to suit their agendas. There’s considerable evidence, both internal and external, that this is what they did (see previous posts). You, however, say not, and attribute the differences to variant oral traditions, which nonetheless accurately preserve not only Jesus’ teaching but the details of his life.

        You seem happy with this paradox, because, you say, the alterations don’t actually change the underlying meaning of his words and deeds. You’ve dismissed the examples we’ve supplied hitherto, both in the comments and in my posts, and now demand more, presumably so you can dismiss these too or argue them away.

        So how about these:

        To this generation no sign shall be given (Mark 12:4).

        To this generation no sign shall be given except for the sign of the prophet Jonah (Matt 12:39 & 16:4).

        Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him (John 12:37).


        Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt 5:20).

        Blessed are you who are poor for yours is the Kingdom of God (Luke 6:20).

        This ‘tradition’, written in sophisticated literary Greek was certainly not delivered by Jesus in this form. It is entirely unknown to Mark.


        Why do you call me good? None but God is good (Luke 18:19).

        I am the Good Shepherd (John 10:11).


        The first to see the risen Jesus:

        Cephas (Paul in 1 Corinthians).

        The unnamed disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24).

        Mary (John 20).


        There are more but I’ve already wasted enough time on this. So, to the conclusion:

        If you’re going to insist that these discrepancies are the result of variations in oral traditions then you’re conceding that such traditions were highly unreliable. Far more likely, as most scholars agree, that Matthew and Luke plagiarised Mark’s gospel and altered it to suit their purposes (as I’ve demonstrated in a series of recent posts). There is also evidence Luke knew Matthew’s gospel and used parts of it in his own story. John created his idiosyncratic fantasy with a Jesus that bears only a superficial resemblance to earlier versions. Unless of course John’s gospel emanates from yet another ‘oral tradition’ that the other three had never heard of…

        Liked by 1 person

      • There are differences in the reporting of what he said. Does that surprise you. Any two people hearing a teaching or seeing an event will remember them slightly differently. That does not mean one was wrong only that they are different.

        Re: the signs. Why did Jesus say these things and to whom? The interaction of Jesus with the Pharisees as well as the common people changed over the three years or so that he taught and performed signs. As for the Pharisees it became increasingly strained. To the point where Jesus would not provide the evidence they demanded because they had dismissed the evidence he had already provided. They had reached the point of no return.

        None of the teaching of Jesus was done in Greek. The Hebrew idioms indicate that. So, everything we have in the Gospels is translated, and by a translator who was more fluent in Greek than Peter, who is the narrator of the core of the Gospel of Mark. Peter’s narrative is marked by simple sentences and Hebrew idioms. Mark himself was quite fluent in Greek and the parts of the Gospel he wrote demonstrate that. He wrote complex sentences and with no Hebrew idioms. But neither were the translators of Jesus. That person was both capable in Hebrew in Greek. He was careful to maintain the Hebrew flavor of Jesus’ idiom, perhaps out of great respect of the words of Jesus. We are grateful for that. The similarity of Jesus’ idiom across the three synoptics suggest that the same translator provided the narratives of his life and teaching. I think that may have been Matthew. He is the only one of the Apostles capable of that. (Jesus’ idiom is translated a bit more smoothly by John, and that is the most easily seen difference between the synoptics and John.)

        I don’t think you or the scholars you refer to have actually demonstrated copying to any significant degree. But even so, far the greater portion of Matthew and Luke does not come from Mark because it is not found in Mark. It is evidence of another source. And on that almost all scholars agree. (For Matthew and Luke to maintain the distinctive idiom of Jesus in newly created episodes is highly unlikely, though Luke does somewhat detune that Hebrew idiom for his Gentile readers.) Because the ‘non-Markan’ portions that are narratives of Jesus’ teaching or miracles are linguistically the same as the narratives in Mark, the reasonable conclusion is that there was an original source that was not Mark, Matthew, or Luke. Some have speculated that source was written and call it Q. I think the linguistic evidence points to an oral source. A written source would maintain greater similarity in the copies.

        Since Mark is basically Peter’s teaching and memories of Jesus, he is a good example of that oral gospel.


      • Don: I continue to see both commands as the same, just one expressed in reverse of the other.

        Let’s look at the two statements by Jesus again:

        “Whoever is not with me is against me, …” (Matthew 12:30 NIV)

        “for whoever is not against us is for us.” (Mark 9:40 NIV)

        These two short statements seem to be too much for you to parse. So let’s simplify them a bit. Let’s suppose Bob is against me/us. We substitute Bob for “whoever is against me (us):

        “Bob is against me/us.”

        “Bob is for me/us.”

        Can you see the contradiction now?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Let me do this a bit differently so the clauses match.

        “Whoever is not with me is against me, …” (Matthew 12:30 NIV)

        Bob is against me =s Bob is not with me. (I reversed the clauses so they match in order.)

        “for whoever is not against us is for us.” (Mark 9:40 NIV)

        Bob is not against me =s Bob is for me.

        Both statements are true. Neither contradicts the other. The only difference is that the clauses are reversed in order.


      • Read them yourself, Nan. As far as your questions, we have only the text to go on. So, the context in the text is where we derive the meaning of the sentence.


      • … the text is where we derive the meaning of the sentence.. Again … it depends on who you ask as to that “meaning.” There’s just no getting around it, Don. There simply are NO hard and fast rules, no matter how much you would like it to be so.

        Liked by 1 person

      • There are no hard and fast rules, but there are stupid mistakes in reading. Reading any piece modern or ancient in total disregard of the context and how the sentence was used in the context is one of the stupid mistakes. That is learned in American English classes from at least the fifth grade on up.


    • This is too easy:

      Matt 10:9-10: don’t take stuff…”nor a staff”
      Luke 9:3-5: don’t take stuff…”no staff”
      Mark 6:8: take nothing “except a staff”

      The meaning has changed!

      You’re one of the worst I’ve seen at retconning scriptures! Do you know how I know what you’re doing?
      Because I used to do the same thing when I was a xtian!!

      Nan and Neil are right…whose context?
      Not that of a person living in the first century.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Do you have the tools and skills to dig into the Greek texts? Do you know where to do that research online?

        My preliminary observations are that the three passages – Mark 6:6: Matthew 10:10; and Luke 9:3 – are similar but not the same in sentence, phrase, nor the number of the word for staff: ραβδον. (tTe 1550 Stephanus New Testament Greek text and other texts of the Eastern text family have it as a plural.

        That there are differences is not a big surprise, many parallel passages in the Gospels are not verbatim copies of one another. Either they owe their particular construction to different sources or the authors took liberty with them to paraphrase rather than quote precisely.

        But it is an interesting puzzle, and I love the detective work in solving textual puzzles. So, because my analysis is going to be longer than is reasonable in a comment box, I’ll post it on my blog. I’ll let you know when and where.


      • One of the interesting things about the various translations is that The KJV translates Luke and Matthew as “staves” (plural) reflecting the dependence of the KJV on the Textus Receptus, a late Byzantine text, which is of the Eastern text family. The KJV, however, translates “staff” as singular. Interesting, don’t you think?

        Some commentators made a big thing about singular or plural. (I suppose you’ve read that.) They think that what Jesus was saying was don’t take two saves. Walking without a staff at all would not have been reasonable and would have had nothing to do with relying on the supply of the local people. That would in some ways solve the issue of differences, but I am not persuaded. We’ll see what I find.


      • Yup! You’re probably correct. Most believers could care less about the several and many blips in “the Word” because what’s REALLY important is that “He lives in my heart.”


      • You are probably right. They are interested in meat.

        You may have enjoyed a Mexican favorite called a tamale. It is cornmeal and meat wrapped in a corn husk. Christians – I hope – are interested in the edible and healthy part rather than in the husk. (metaphorically speaking) Almost all of the objections you and other atheists fuss about are the husk. These so-called contradictions are husks.

        Not that the husk is unimportant. Don’t misunderstand me or misquote me here. The husk keeps the meat together. So, I do interact with you about the husks. But we in so doing entirely miss the point. Fussing about walking sticks and whether the copies of copies got that tiny detail right, is fussing about the husks. The point was DEPEND ON GOD TO SUPPLY. And the point is not that difficult to determine.

        Your obsession with errors also misses the point. There are differences and minor errors in the texts. Everyone knows that. Textual critics work to minimize those and they do a good job. But the meat is still the message not the medium. (I don’t know if you are acquainted with Marshall McLuhan or not, but when it comes to the Bible, the medium is not the message. The message is the message.)


      • However, Don, the thing is … if “GOD” were an actual being who masterminded the scriptures so folks would know about “him” and worship “him,” doesn’t it seem reasonable and logical that there would be no blips of dates/comments/events in “the message” so that ALL people would immediately recognize and accept “his” existence?

        Somehow, to the logical mind, it just doesn’t seem coherent that such a supreme being would be so careless. But then, as has been abundantly proved, believers tend to ignore logic.


      • I think God has made his existence clear to everyone in every place and speaking any language. But accepting his existence is another thing.

        Up to very recently, peasants and scientists looked around them – and scientists look very carefully – and concluded that there is a God. The evidence was sufficient.

        That is not to say that there were no atheists throughout history, but they were few and made very little headway against the evidence everyone saw right before their eyes. But things changed.

        So, what happened after about 1850? Nothing happened with the evidence. If anything, it has become stronger. So, you tell me why Atheism has become so vocal.


      • There were harsh measures in the past to suppress deviation from the orthodox doctrine of the church. But that kind of severe treatment of those who deviated from the norm or posed a threat, real or imagined, to the order of the king or lord of the manor was common during the Middle Ages. It was a harsh age.

        Today we do something very similar to those who deviate from what is politically correct. Maybe not in civilized England but in the wild west of America. We castigate those who use the politically ‘improper’ words to describe race or sexual orientation. Professors and teachers can lose their jobs over words.

        Professors can lose their jobs if they question evolution or include in their class any reference to creation. In fact, any discussion of Christianity in a favorable light is frowned on in many secular classrooms. I took a class in in philosophy in a secular university some years ago where the professor made it a practice to pick on any student who even admitted to being a Christian. So, don’t tell me about ‘past’ suppression of ideas. It is happening right now.


      • Back when I was a university tutor, I would often mark essays on, say, ‘The Use of Phonics in the Teaching of Reading’ in which the student wrote at length about a reading scheme they’d discovered that used a different method of developing reading. Alternatively, they’d come up with 4,000 words on the importance of cursive writing. Both kinds of essays, however well argued and cogent they might have been, had to be to be failed. Why? Because they didn’t address the point or answer the question.

        So many of your responses are like this, the present one included. It has nothing to do with the point you originally raised, nor my reply.

        It’s another fail, Don.


      • Yes, Don. I’ll agree. There have been various peasants and scientists who have concluded there is a god. In fact, history has shown us that there have been MULTIPLE gods (AND goddesses)!

        Of course the difference is … YOU want to claim YOUR god is the only one that matters … yet there is absolutely NO proof that this is valid reasoning. It is only through a consensus of individuals that the Christian god as been “chosen” to be the “true” god.

        As to why atheism has become so vocal? Perhaps because of the atrocities that occur every single day that are directly related to belief in “God” … Christian or otherwise.


      • The issues are really separate. The only overlap is that however many gods one might believe exist or what those gods are like, there is still the belief that a God or gods exist. And that belief, if you asked anyone in whatever system of belief, they would give you reasons for believing that a God or gods do exist.

        “Absolutely no proof” is too high a bar for almost everything anyone believes about anything. If that is your criterion, you would have believed nothing your teachers taught you in school. If that is your criterion, you would be paralyzed from acting. You would be unlikely to believe what scientists write in research papers. There is simply no absolutely except death and taxes.

        Everyone collects information and evidence for what they believe, and when they think it is sufficient they trust the evidence. Whether the evidence is sufficient is a matter of personal decision. What is sufficient for me may not be for you.

        As for atrocities, atheists have committed enough in the last few centuries to make atheism untenable as well. But we both know that this criterion is also a little crazy. We don’t choose what is true on the basis of how that truth may be misused.


  3. Don:
    “Do you have the tools and skills to dig into the Greek texts? Do you know where to do that research online?”

    Let’s see:
    I am an Elementary Public School Teacher with 20 years experience…My degrees are in Fine Arts and English with a double minor in Spanish and Latin. I have taken 2 years of NT Greek, as I was preparing to become a preacher.
    I am a certified Bilingual Teacher, teaching in two languages all day…I teach all subjects, including English Language Arts, and the Writing Process, meaning parts of speech, figurative language, and composition. I use the internet all day for research and communication.

    What do you think?


      • I’m not going to analyze anything you’ve written…
        I’ve already wasted enough time analyzing the “scriptures “…conclusion:
        It’s all bullshit!
        You’re arguing Santa Clausology…how many elves are there? What is Rudolph’s favorite treat?

        Prove Santa exists before I engage with you!

        Now allow me to do a little analysis of you:
        You continuously visit and argue on many atheist blogs…
        You come here and argue in support of the death penalty for homosexuals.
        In the post entitled “Miracles Made to Order”, you said,” I find it Interesting that the most vehement reaction to the bible often comes from gay people “.
        You directly attacked Neil with this comment which had nothing to do with the discussion.
        Now, you attack me with your condescending comment about my skills and abilities to research.

        Analysis of Don Camp:
        You are committing several sins:

        Enmity: the state of being actively opposed or hostile to someone.
        Strife: angry or bitter disagreement over fundamental issues.
        To revile: criticize in an abusive or insulting manner.

        According to your apostle Paul, in Gal. 5:19-20, those who commit these sins will not inherit the kingdom of god!

        We’ll, how about that, Don…you’re not saved, and are doomed to hell!

        How does it feel to be one of those Jesus was talking about in Matthew 7:21-23…he never knew you!


      • Don appears erudite and reasonable but like most who self-identify as intellectual Christians (an oxymoron surely?), he invariably resorts to condescension, sly ad hominem attacks and ignoratio elenchi. He does this not just here but, as you say, on every site where he feels compelled to take Jesus.

        Liked by 1 person

      • What you believe about a given topic changes by the minute. Here you are in December saying:

        ‘There is nothing wrong with being gay. But acting on it in an intimate sexual relationship is not the order of creation God intended. It is for that reason the union of two men or two women in a sexual relationship is wrong.’

        There is ‘nothing wrong with being gay’ at the start of your paragraph yet, by the end of it, it is wrong! Being gay is ‘acting on it in an intimate sexual relationship’ and in other ways too.

        In another comment from the same time you reference Jewish law which calls for the death penalty for various sexual transgressions, including same-sex sex. So, not wrong, but nevertheless worthy of the death penalty.

        Today, however, homosexuality is, once again, not wrong. Which is it, Don? Why can’t you make your mind up? I’ll tell you why: because your more liberal values are in conflict with the Bible, which you feel compelled to defend at every turn. It’s called cognitive dissonance and it’s time you resolved it.


      • “Same-sex sex” is wrong. It is just as wrong as heterosexual promiscuity or adultery. All of those **behaviors** violate the order of creation, God’s design for sexual relationships. I have not changed in regard to that.

        But what we are, whether heterosexual or homosexual, is not wrong.


      • I’ll respond more fully to this in a post.

        Of course you’ve not changed. You derive most of your views from a text created by scientifically illiterate people two thousand and more years ago. That isn’t going to change so why should you? (Except some of your values are modern and liberal. How’d you account for that?)


      • Well, somethings don’t change. God for example. And his design for life, which I have found in practice and observation to still be as good as it ever was.

        I have a young friend (compared to me) who recently lost his gay partner. They had been living the gay culture and having a high time, according to my friend. But the reality is their lives were train wrecks. They were doing hard drugs including fentanyl, both were living on the money they got from disability and family.

        My friend had grown up in a ‘family’ where he was seriously sexually abused by his father for much of his early years. His mother pretty much just turned her head. His father is now gone. His mother has pretty much disassociated herself from my friend. My friend is way overweight, unemployed and unemployable and just simply lost. He is one step from living on the street – where he could not survive.

        He says he is a woman in a man’s body. I think that is the result of unbelievable chaos and pain as a child.

        In every way he lived in a family that was not living according to God’s design. He is not living according to God’s design. His whole subculture is not living according to God’s design. And I don’t mean just sexually. I mean as a family, in society, and morally. He will die young if he does not change. His only hope to live past 30 is to radically change and live God’s way. And he can, but it will be very hard.


      • So what’s your point here, Don?
        That your young friend is gay because he was abused?
        That he has addiction problems because he’s gay?
        That his life is a mess because he’s gay?
        That all gay people are gay because they’ve been abused as children?
        That gay people have addiction problems and make a mess of their lives because they’re gay?

        Neither I nor Dennis nor anyone we know follows your stereotype of a gay person. We weren’t abused, we don’t and have never done drugs and our lives are happy and fulfilling, all without God.

        I could, however, tell you of straight people who’ve made a mess of life, some who were abused and have also had addiction problems. How do you account for people like this, with no gay to blame?

        I doubt God is the answer to your friend’s problems. Someone to genuinely love and support him would be far more helpful.

        Liked by 1 person

      • My point was simple: living by God’s design avoids a lot of problems.

        It does not change homosexuality. But there is no crime or sin or shame in that. It does change the mess people have made of their lives by allowing their homosexuality to become the one great truth. It does the same for heterosexuals who have allowed their sexuality to become the one great truth.


      • Why thank you, Don. Good to know I can be gay so long as I’m not gay (in practice.) So generously condescending of you to say there’d be no sin or shame in that. Despite your astoundingly arrogant assumption, my homosexuality is not my ‘one great truth’, though I admit, it has been something I’ve wrestled with most of my life, thanks to Christianity.

        As I’ve put it to you before, would this sort of conditional tolerance be acceptable to you; that you could be a Christian just so long as you didn’t practise in any way?

        I was going to add, rather cynically, that this evidently wouldn’t be a problem for you, but of course it would be. You would regard yourself as persecuted, stifled, at best tolerated, at worst controlled. Yet this is how you think gay people should live according to the fantasy that is ‘God’s design’.

        Liked by 1 person

      • How would I feel? If I had no inclination to follow God’s design I would feel all that you feel. If I did wish to live in a way that pleased God…

        Well, you can figure that out. Many people have done so, But, you know that.


      • I’m not sure this answers the question, but that’s what I’ve come to expect from you. ‘Shifty’ we call it on this side of the pond.

        You still haven’t said what motivates you to defend the Bible so vociferously.

        Liked by 1 person

      • In the “Miracles Made to Order post, Dec. 21, I said “Explain why homosexuals should be killed!”.

        You immediately replied with an explanation of why homosexuals should be killed:

        “And why should a rebellious son be killed? Or a person who violates the Sabbath? Or a person who rapes a woman or a couple who commit adultery? Or premeditated murder?

        The reason is found in the context of the laws. They were given to Israel as national laws. They were intended to maintain order and create a ‘seemly’ looking people who reflected the holiness of God. (The scripture would say a hoy people.)”

        Then you talk some nonsense about context, and then you conclude with:

        “That is not to say the laws would not bring order to the nations. They surely would. And as a matter of fact, many of the laws have become part of our national laws. Do not commit murder and do not steal, for example.”

        And, killing homosexuals!
        Because those instructions are FOUND IN THE LAWS OF GOD!

        YOU ARE LYING!
        I said before, you’re not saved, and are doomed for hell!

        This is exactly what xtian nationalists want!
        You want to portray yourself as a xtian liberal of some kind, but you’re just another Calvinist SOB!

        I detest you all and what you’re trying to do to the US…
        Think of this, Don…if they reinstated the death penalty for homosexuals, you’d be first in line to throw the first stone to execute them!

        Sound familiar?

        You’re stuck with defending the indefensible!


      • I will give you a civil answer, but if you can’t control your anger and be civil, this will be the end of it.

        The laws given to Moses, other than the ten commandments, were the laws that would govern Israel as a nation. They were laws that would bring order in a disordered time and they would result, if followed, in a people who represented a holy God. (That is the context.)

        No other nations has ever carried that responsibility. So, killing someone for being a homosexual or for adultery or for worshipping other gods or for disobedience to parents or for picking up sticks on the Sabbath or for witchcraft are not and should not become the law of the land.

        That does not mean modern so called civilized nations should not find wisdom in making murder and theft a crime. That makes sense. But the nations and their governments are responsible for that. So, talk to your congressman.

        Whether or not the government makes the law, Christians must follow their conscience regarding their own conduct, and especially so when a law requires THEM to violate God’s moral law. But that has to do with me and does not require that I require anyone else live by those laws. And nowhere does the scripture allow us to throw the first stone to execute homosexuals. Neither will I get in line to execute murders or those who violate the Sabbath. I will not get in line to execute anyone. So, I guess you can sleep easy tonight.

        BTW many of my Calvinist friends have serious questions about my being a Calvinist. I am really more of an Arminian.


  4. According to god’s design then, Lev: 20:13, your friend should be put to death, correct?
    That’s the solution according to the Bible!

    Would you be willing to honor god’s
    Perfect Law by killing your friend personally?
    I think he’d appreciate it coming from a friend rather than someone he didn’t know.

    And then, you’d be in the same position as Abraham…think of the glory you would win in heaven!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Reminds me of the American Civil War in which brother fought brother. In some cases, it was very literally brother fighting brother. What a terrible situation to find oneself in. Yet the causse demanded it. The cause was bigger than friend or brother.

      I imagine that has happened many times over the centuries. The scenario you suggest has been at times brutally real. But the cause was bigger than friend or brother. In the end, the cause was salvation (whole person health) for all who would receive it, made possible by the forgiveness and healing of God made available in Christ Jesus. Yes, the cause was bigger than brother or friend.


      • Don sez: Reminds me of the American Civil War in which brother fought brother. … What a terrible situation to find oneself in. Yet the causse demanded it.

        That’s right. The Bible teaches us that slavery is right and just. “Slaves obey your masters!” Trying to destroy God’s own order of things was an abomination! What greater causse than preserving God’s divine order of slavery?

        Or… Wait… Maybe you’re saying it was time, after 1800 years of Christian sanctioned, God approved slavery, to put the Bible’s teachings on slavery aside and finally do what was morally correct and end it? Are you saying, Don, that when the Bible is morally wrong we should disregard it?


  5. Wow! I can’t believe you just admitted you would do that!

    Yes, and the cause was wrong in the Civil War too!! You’re defending slavery now?

    Can you not see how you have sacrificed your humanity over ancient, bronze-age writings that were written in a time when societies were totally different than today, due to their misunderstanding of the world around them?
    When slavery was accepted…
    When they didn’t know where the sun went at night…
    When most people were illiterate…
    When they had no scientific method…

    You’ve just admitted that you will abandon all current moral understanding of how to live and interact with others, and revert to barbarism!
    You’re no better than the Taliban!


    • The cause of the Civil War was the preservation of the Union and secondarily the freedom of slaves or on the part of the South the preservation of states rights. How you get to my defending slavery is a puzzle.

      No scientific method? You’re kidding again. The scientific method is hypothesis, observation, and testing. Even a child does that. We only call it ‘scientific’ because we’ve defined it.

      What is moral in society is a moving target. So, which morality do you mean? Russia’s? The US where almost everything goes if you can get away with and where there is all manner of ‘immoral’ activity on our streets? Islamic morality where you could get your hand cut off for stealing? Slavery as it was in the South? Who’s right?

      What is moral according to the God is what I consider moral.

      So here are some examples: mercy, kindness, loving others, justice and not revenge for those who break the law, patience with others who disagree with you, Justice for the disenfranchised, turning the other cheek when your enemy harms you, etc.

      Beyond that there is the prerogative of God who is the Creator and to whom we all belong. When justice is required or punishment for wrongdoing is necessary or correction of wrongs, he has the final word.


      • “What is moral according to the God is what I consider moral.”

        Whatever god decrees is moral, correct?
        God says execute homosexuals…Lev: 20:13
        God says buy slaves…Lev:44-45

        God said it…who are you to deny the scriptures?
        It doesn’t matter when he said it, it has to be moral because he decreed it. As you say, these are tough words…can you not accept them?

        Liked by 1 person

      • It matters a lot when God said it and to whom. The situation God was speaking to changed over time. And with that change the point of God’s instructions became moot.

        In the early passages, slavery was most often a social safety net for destitute Jews and captives of war. When that changed and other institutions existed to care for the destitute the importance of slavery as an institution went away. We have ways to care for people that does not require slavery.

        The same is true of the command to suppress homosexual behavior. The history of homosexual behavior if you read about in it the histories was especially gross. Nothing was forbidden. Anything was acceptable in the nations surrounding Israel. (That was true of other sexual behaviors as well.) So, for the sake of protecting Israel from those aberrant and distasteful and harmful behaviors, God made homosexual behavior a capital offense. His goal was that his people be holy and clean. (That is also reflected in the regulations of clothing and eating. Eating spiders was simply gross.) That standard of acceptable and unacceptable behavior is made clear in a number of passages in Exodus and Leviticus.

        Today, no nation is like Israel was. The possible exception is modern Israel. No other nation represents God and his holiness in the way Israel did. For that reason, the laws that were designed to set Israel apart as holy, do not apply to modern nations. If they apply at all it is to the people of God who are the church. But we the church are not a nation in the same way nations are. We make no laws. We certainly impose no laws on others. We are personally responsible to God for our behavior, but we have no authority over others.

        If there is responsibility for your behavior, it is not to us. It is to God.


      • I’m curious, Don. Why do you say certain issues/instructions in the bible changed but others (that you support) remain stagnant? Don’t you get it? The entire “story” is nothing more than a plethora of thoughts and ideas put forth by a chorus of individuals who (apparently) liked to write.

        To constantly be jumping through hoops to justify one thing and condemn another seems like such a waste of time!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nan: “Why do you say certain issues/instructions in the bible changed but others (that you support) remain stagnant?”

        Don: Fair question. In some cases, the Bible declares that things have changed or that the law is temporary.

        Jesus is his well-known sermon on the law, implies that when all things are accomplished the law would end. (Matt. 5:18)

        In other cases, the circumstances the law addressed changed and the law became moot. If the circumstances were to occur again, the law that addressed them would also be in force.

        Re: slavery. The law was addressed to Israel and not to other nations. It was given to regulate slavery which for Israel was largely slavery of people who were destitute and in debt or enemy captives. That made sense and was a necessary social safety net. It prevented people from starving and provided a new beginning after seven years. In the case of enemy captives, it provided a way to protect Israel from continued aggression without killing the captives. In the case of women captives, it provided a way for them to survive and be protected and to find a way back to normal life in Israel: They became the wives of their masters.

        In the case of homosexuality, the laws protected Israel from becoming like the surrounding nations in their unholy practices.

        Neither situation exists today. There are social safety nets in most countries that don’t require slavery, and enemy captives are delt with by the government by imprisonment and eventual repatriation. (They are not set free to foment further rebellion.) Regarding homosexuality, the law applied only to Israel. If Israel ever actually recovers their status as a nation representing God, those laws may be reinstated. But no other nations has that status, so those laws are moot.

        Other laws are universal and not limited by circumstances. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself” has no conditions attached.


      • “The US where almost everything goes if you can get away with and where there is all manner of ‘immoral’ activity on our streets?”

        What is your definition of immoral here?

        Examples please.


      • “In the early passages, slavery was most often a social safety net for destitute Jews and captives of war. When that changed and other institutions existed to care for the destitute the importance of slavery as an institution went away. We have ways to care for people that does not require slavery. “

        Where in the Bible is slavery ended?
        Let’s look at the NT:

        1 Peter 2:18: slaves be subject to your masters with all reverence, not only to those who are good and equitable but also to those who are perverse.

        And your homophobia:
        “ The history of homosexual behavior if you read about in it the histories was especially gross…So, for the sake of protecting Israel from those aberrant and distasteful and harmful behaviors, God made homosexual behavior a capital offense.”

        Wow! Project much?
        How is homosexual behavior distasteful, Don? What about it disgusts you so much?
        THIS is why I’m angry, Don!
        THIS bullshit right here…some condescending little old man condemning people for having sex because his holy book written 2 thousand years ago says so.

        Jesus was gay!
        You’re not saved!


  6. Don sez: In the early passages, slavery was most often a social safety net for destitute Jews and captives of war.

    So, Don and his god are moral relativists? Right and wrong change with time and culture? Okay.

    Don sez: In the early passages, slavery was most often a social safety net for destitute Jews and captives of war.

    This is a great example of how Christians lie. Don omits the third type of slavery in ancient Israel/Judea. By doing this, he presents it as a kinder, gentler slavery than what we’re familiar with.

    44 Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

    Leviticus 25:44-46 (NIV)

    This sets up a slavery based on ethnicity – you can enslave non-Israelites this way, but not Israelites. These slaves are slaves for life and can be inherited. These slaves can be ruled over ruthlessly while Israelite indentured servants may not.

    So, in addition to Don’s indentured servants and captives of war, we have a slave trade. Why would Don omit that? His phrase, “In the early passages,” implies he’s deliberately leaving this information out of his description. But how do you justify saying Exodus is earlier than Leviticus (if you accept the traditional origin story)?

    But what about captives of war? You know what you do with them, Don? I’ll tell you. When the war is done, you make a new treaty between the parties. You decide who has grazing rights where, who owns which water sources, etc. All the reasons that compelled the conflict are hashed out and a new agreement is made. Then you know what you do? You release the captives to return home to tend their flocks and provide for their families. You do NOT keep them as slave or their women as “wives” (a woman forced to wed is not a wife, they are a sex slave, no matter what the Bible says). An all-knowing, all-kind deity could have explained that in the Bible. Could have put that in instead of the slavery stuff. But the ancient Israelites didn’t have an all-knowing, all-kind deity. They had a war god created in their own image, after their likeness. A brutal, barbaric god.

    As to indentured servitude of fellow Israelites, it kind of shows they weren’t honoring the requirement to forgive all debts every seven years. Taking out loans you can’t pay off in 7 years? Providing loans to people they can’t pay off in 7 years? Sounds not so much like an escape hatch for people who get in over their heads but like a slave- and indentured-based economy. Again, an all-knowing god could have, would have, done better.

    Lastly, the slave laws in the Tanakh are a heavily edited mishmash. Scholars have really only been able to make sense out of them by comparing them to similar laws in the surrounding cultures. But that process has also shown Israel basically copied earlier civilizations. Why does God have to have to copy these laws from the heathen countries? Why did he not give more civilized, moral laws? It’s almost as if the Israelite culture just grew and evolved from those earlier cultures and no god was dictating these rules at all.


  7. Don sez: Jesus is his well-known sermon on the law, implies that when all things are accomplished the law would end. (Matt. 5:18)

    i.e. At the end of the world, the end of time.

    Don sez: In other cases, the circumstances the law addressed changed and the law became moot. If the circumstances were to occur again, the law that addressed them would also be in force.

    This is just stupid. If we have a month with no murders in my little town (we can actually go years between them), we don’t take murder off the books until the next murder happens.

    Don sez: Re: slavery. The law was addressed to Israel and not to other nations.

    As were all the laws, commandments and friendly suggestion in the Tanakh. Nothing in Jewish law was meant for non-Jews. Late (in the scripture) came the idea that a messiah would come and conquer the world and all people would become Jewish. At that point the law would apply to all – because they’d be Jewish. But until then, Judaism is decidedly non-proselytizing. Even in those prophecies, their is to proselytizing – the world (after being conquered) comes to the Jews to learn about Jewish god.

    I’ve covered you limited view of Jewish slavery earlier. I won’t repeat myself here except to repeat that women forced into relationships as booty from conquest are not “wives,” they are sex slaves.

    Don sez: enemy captives are delt with by … eventual repatriation. (They are not set free to foment further rebellion.)

    Do you even read what you write, Don? “Eventual repatriation” means exactly that they are set free – that includes “to foment further rebellion.” It is up to the leaders to ensure the terms of the new treaty are complied with. An “enemy combatant” who violates grazing or water rights of the treaty should be dealt with by his leaders, who will then deal with the other tribe to offer compensation to avoid another war. But the god of the Bible isn’t a great thinker and had no way of ruling except by barbarism and brutality.

    Don sez: Regarding homosexuality, the law applied only to Israel. If Israel ever actually recovers their status as a nation representing God, those laws may be reinstated. But no other nations has that status, so those laws are moot.

    You get it almost half right. The laws are moot except in ancient Israel/Judea. Just as U.S. law is moot anywhere else in the world. But, of course, Jewish god wasn’t clear on how this works and many American Christians want to re-establish ancient Jewish barbarism here in modern U.S.A. I so wish Jewish god would have learned basic communication skills before adopting a special people to call his own.

    Don sez: Other laws are universal and not limited by circumstances. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself” has no conditions attached.

    Wrong. All Jewish laws, including this one, were for the Jews/Israelites alone. Even Jesus, when he repeated this law, wasn’t taking it to non-Jews. Jesus was suffering from Jerusalem syndrome. He was going to gather in the scattered tribes, conquer the Romans (the world), be installed as king, and the world would come to him begging to become Jews. There was no extending the law to non-Jews in any of it. Become Jewish (or die, as Jesus teaches in that one parable in Luke), and the law will apply to you.


    • Wow. Yes, I typed “there is to proselytizing” when I was thinking “there is no proselytizing.” Maybe I need a nap. Or another cup of coffee.


    • “ruthlessly’. The harshness here refers back to the conditions of slavery for foreigners. They would be slaves for life. Hebrew slaves could not be. They could be bought or sold. Hebrew slaves could not be. It does not mean foreign slaves can be treated harshly as in abused or mistreated. There were other rules that protected them. In fact, every rule in the Old Testament law about the just treatment of others applied to slaves as well.

      Killing a slave was a capital crime just as if one killed a free man. Harming a slave carried the same penalties as harming a free man. In fact, only in the case of length of slavery and in the fact that a foreign slave could be bought or sold was there a difference. This applied to captives of war as well.

      So, in fact, a foreign slave purchased from a foreigner lived in a far better and more protected circumstance than he had before. He lived in a place where the law protected him.

      We who live in a country where freedom is king think of slavery wherever and whenever as a terrible evil. That is more than a little myopic. Slavery in the past even in the Roman Empire was not necessarily harsh. Slaves often had important roles in the family and were treated well. That was true in Hebrew culture as well. They resembled a family member though not in every feature. Abraham had a servant/slave who he would have made the heir of his property if he did not have a son. In that sense he was treated as a son. But we, despite history, have a tendency to read back into history the experience of slavery in the Americas. That is a terrible way to treat history.


    • You might recall some of the famous Enlightenment spokesmen of our past. I think of Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. Though Jefferson believed all men are created equal, he lived otherwise owning numerous slaves himself and engaged in what Kos would call sex-slavery. He was not alone. It should be said that many Christians in the South were entangled with slavery as well, if not owning slaves they depended upon them.

      How could that be? Well primarily, real life is more complicated than the black and white world (no pun intended) Kos lives in. When we eventually made slavery illegal, it was not an easy thing to accomplish in reality. We are not even yet free of it. We continue to live in dependence on slavery, economic slavery at least, when we buy Nike shoes and eat products from Vietnam. Kos does not of course. He may be the one and only true anti-slavery man alive.

      But we have made progress. And much of that has come by the personal involvement of anti-slavery Christians like the Quakers in America and those like Harriet Tubman, who without any political power went ahead and saved slaves from slavery. It is that kind of grassroots anti-slavery life that really mattered. And that is the kind of life God expects of us.


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