Arguing with Fundamentalist Christians
by Bob Peterson
I'm sorry if this comes off as a rant, but it's one of those things that drives me crazy. If you're a fundamentalist Christian, you may want to slowly back away.
After all these years, I should know better than argue with fundamentalist Christians. I guess I brought it on myself. You'd think I'd have learned by now. A guy named Vince posted a meme on Facebook that was divided into four squares. The first had a photo of some marijuana that said "This is not the answer." The second was alcohol and said the same thing. The third was drugs and said the same thing. The last panel showed a man holding a Bible. It said, "This is the answer." Vince posted "Thank you God for taking away my addictions."
I shouldn't have done it, but I took the bait. I responded by saying "You're substituting one addiction for another. But some people need that." After all, we all need different belief systems to get through life. Do what you need to do to get clean, right? Or as John Lennon once said, "Whatever gets you through the night...s'alright." If God or the Bible help you, go for it. I applaud that.
But it's funny how people (including me) cling to their rigid belief systems, and if you point out any little flaw, they will lash out like a wounded animal and even fight you to the death to defend them, rather than admit the truth and give them up. And so our argument started. Vince lashed out by saying:
"All people need that Bob, including yourself. Your addiction to OBEs is something I once had too, and it's against God's will. Put your faith in Christ and repent. You've been deceiving yourself for too long."Apparently Vince took my simple statement as a personal attack on his belief system (it was not meant to be). He responded by attacking my belief system and man, he knew how to push my buttons. He actually had the audacity to assert that OBEs are against God's will, and that I should repent and turn to Christ. As they say, "Them's fightin' words!" First, I politely pointed him to my blog article titled "Are OBEs Against Christianity?" in which I present my case for OBEs being compatible with Christianity. Then I responded with:
"OBEs are not my addiction, they're my passion. There's a difference.Okay, maybe I over-reacted. Maybe I lashed out like he did. I guess I just couldn't resist pushing his buttons the way he pushed mine. But really...He's okay with "John had a really cool OBE 2000 years ago [ref: Book of Revelations]" so now he's "John The Divine" but "John down the street has a really cool OBE, but yesterday" and it's got to be Satan? Really? Vince responded:
And as for Christ, don't get me started. There are too many problems with it. First of all, Christianity has very little to do with Christ or his teachings, because his entire cult (yes, he was a cult leader like all religions begin) was misappropriated by the apostle Paul, who went off into all kinds of idiotic misogynistic rants and teachings. Christ taught us (rightly) to love God above all things. Paul taught us (wrongly) to worship Jesus as a God. I've read the Bible, and the more I learn about Paul, the more I'm convinced he was a lunatic cult leader.
As for Jesus himself, he was the real deal. He had a connection with God, but he was also the most misunderstood man in history.
Besides, what makes you (or anyone) value the misinterpreted, poorly-translated mystical experiences from somebody 2000 years ago, from a completely different culture, who thought the world was flat, as opposed to the modern contemporary mystical experiences (like OBEs) of people who are living today and write about it in your own language, own culture and modern context, with 2000 years of revised scientific knowledge? Just to give an example, I think Jurgen Ziewe's books can teach you (and mankind) more about God and the afterlife than the Bible.
Okay, end of rant. Have a nice day. :)"
"I came from a new age background and practiced astral projection for 15 years. Believe me that I was not delighted when I discovered that it was against God's law. I tried to find a way around it but His word is clear and can't be denied... witchcraft (astral projection has long been a practice of witchcraft) and contact with spirits is against His will, and for good reason. I've had some nasty encounters with deceptive spirits and demonic entities, one that even resulted in a painful physical injury. An involuntary experience initiated and guided by God, as Paul had and speaks of in Corinthians, is much different than willingly entering the spirit realm to satisfy the desires of the ego.Wait. Did he just say that Paul taught exactly what Christ taught? What a ridiculous claim. Jesus taught reasonable things like "Judge not, lest ye be judged." Paul taught "My judgement upon the man who did this thing is already given, as if I were indeed present." (1 Corinthians 5:3) and "It is God's people who are to judge the world; surely you know that." (1 Corinthians 6:2)
You've read the Bible but it seems you haven't understood it. Perhaps you've been under demonic influence for too long to see clearly, an unfortunate side effect of messing around in the spirit world for too long. Paul teaches exactly what Christ did, and yes, Jesus did claim to be God.
"I and the Father are one." (John 10:30)
Here he was clearly claiming to be equal with God, as the Jews responded..
"The Jews answered Him (Jesus), 'For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make yourself out to be God.' ? (John 10:33)
"He who has seen Me has seen the Father." (John 14:9)
Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." (John 8:58)
"You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am." (John 13:13) (The Greek word for "Lord" is Kurios, meaning God supreme in authority).
Jesus received worship as God (Matthew 14:33; 28:9) and sometimes even demanded to be worshipped as God (John 5:23; compare Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 5:8?14).
Nice double standard by the way. My passion is an "addiction" but not yours? The term addiction implies detrimental consequences. My passion leads to eternal life, yours results in death. Thus it's clear who has the addiction."
Paul taught that "As in all congregations of God's people, women should not address the meeting. They have no license to speak, but should keep their place as the laws direct. If there is something they want to know, they can ask their own husbands at home. It is a shocking thing that a woman should address the congregation." (1 Corinthians 14:34) Where exactly did Jesus teach that?
"When you discovered it was against God's law? Where exactly does it say that? Where exactly does it say that astral projection is witchcraft? This is just Christian hysteria and assumptions with no backing. As I wrote in the article, Paul's own words affirm that it is perfectly okay for a Christian man to have out-of-body experiences.Vince said:
As for John 10:30, Jesus had a real connection to God, so he knew that we are *ALL* one with God. Separation is an illusion. So of course he's going to say that. Some have called into question whether this passage is even original or if it was added. Plus there are plenty of quotes to refute that statement. Jesus said Why do you call me good? Only God is good, etc.
As for the Bible, it's way too self-contradictory and messed up to even apply. For example, it condones slavery. Do you condone slavery? It doesn't say slavery is wrong, it says how you should treat your slaves. That's your holy book. Time to wake up.
Paul said that women should be quiet and not teach. Do you stand by that? Is that what Jesus taught? Paul was an misguided cult leader."
"The contradictions you speak of are an indicator that you don't understand the Bible. Context is key. Taking two verses out of context and comparing them is a sure way to misunderstand the text; this applies to anything."In exactly what context can you read "And as for thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, [slaves] whom thou shalt have; of the nations that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondman and bondmaids" (Leviticus 25:44) if slavery is wrong?
In exactly what context can you read that women should be kept quiet and aren't allowed to teach, while still holding modern beliefs that women should be treated the same as men? Does Vince have a wife, and does she agree to this nonsense? Then he told someone else on the thread:
"He gets high on new age occult practices. He actually helped me get started on them myself back when I was a boy when I read his book detailing his out of body experiences. It was around the same time that I lost faith in the one true God of the bible. The connection is not just a coincidence. Thank God that I eventually came to my senses and realized the deception I was involved in. I think he is too invested in the experiences and lifestyle to be open minded enough to realize the deception he is a part of."Well, I'm glad to hear I helped Vince open his eyes for a while, but it looks like he either got scared because he encountered some of the "astral wildlife" or the demons of his own subconscious fear, or something. Too bad he fell asleep. OBEs are not related to the occult, witchcraft, or any other path. Those paths choose to use OBEs to gain knowledge of the afterlife, as any spiritual path is free to do. I responded:
"Astral Projection is not an occult practice (even though some occultists practice it) nor a part of witchcraft (even though some witches practice it), nor a part of Islam or any other religion (even though some of those followers practice it). There's absolutely nothing in the Bible denouncing it, but Paul's note about it confirms it's okay for Christian men to do it. Most OBEs happen to normal average people of all ages, cultures, religions and belief systems. The Bible does denounce consulting with spirits, but you can choose whether or not to interact with spirits inside the body or outside the body; that's a separate issue.And I pointed him to my blog article titled: Meeting Jesus Christ Face To Face.
You still haven't told me whether you condone slavery. You still haven't told me whether women should be allowed to teach.
You want some examples of contradictions? How did Judas die?
You want to think that Jesus was God? John 14:28 "For the Father is greater than I." Luke 18:19 Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone." Read what it says.
Does it make any logical sense to (blindly) believe the religious experiences someone had 2000 years ago, in a completely different culture, in a completely different language, with a completely different set of core beliefs, rather than the religious experiences of someone in your own time, in your own culture, in your own language, in your own core set of beliefs?
I understand the Bible very well. You call me blind, but you don't see the plank in your own eye. Suppose your thirteen-year-old daughter told you she's pregnant. What would be your reaction? What is easier to believe: That she's been having sex or that God magically impregnated her with the Messiah? Guess how old Mary was?
Did you ever stop to consider that with OBEs, you can actually MEET Jesus face to face rather than spirits? Talk to him, listen to him, touch him? Have people done that? Absolutely. Experience trumps faith every time, brother."
He responded with:
"Astral projection is most certainly a practice within the realm of witchcraft, just do a google search and you'll see the majority of witchcraft websites feature astral projection as one of their practices: http://www.witchipedia.com/def:astral-projection
Do a search on occult practices and you'll likewise see astral projection featured in the majority of them. How don't you know this? The very definition of the occult is "supernatural or mystical beliefs and practices" which is exactly what astral projection is. Again, how don't you know this? Are you lying to try to win an argument?
Repeating over and over that Paul affirms that OBEs are okay doesn't make it true. The fact is that he doesn't. You're welcome to post scripture that supports your case.
I have sought out Jesus while out of my body, many times, and have met an individual who responded to my intent who appeared to be him, many times. But there was nothing about these experiences that indicated that it was really him. For all I know it was a deceptive spirit playing dress up, or possibly even a manifestation of my subconscious mind. The fact that he looked like the popular image of Jesus (white, long hair, short beard) is an indicator that it was not the true Jesus, as he looked nothing like this during his life on Earth. It would be foolish to trust these experiences.
For any contradiction you claim within the bible, there is a corresponding answer which explains the context of the verses in question and demonstrates that no contradiction exists when the scripture is properly understood. Trust me, I've already been down this path. I used to make the same claims that you are making now until I put my bias aside and did some honest research, investigating BOTH SIDES of the issue. If you are capable of looking up contradictions from anti-biblical sources, you are also capable of researching answers to these alleged contradictions from a Biblical viewpoint that show there is no contradiction. Are you honest and brave enough to do it?"Okay, so google searches pull more weight than his own holy book, the Bible?
And what exactly does he think is a lie? The words in the Bible that I pointed out? Did he actually say he put aside his bias and actually did honest research? Sounds to me like he talked to some other fanatical Christians who gave him reading material (other than the Bible) that explains it all away as witchcraft.
And is he actually trying to say that Paul doesn't affirm OBEs are okay? Then why exactly did Paul write:
"I know a Christian man who fourteen years ago (whether in the body or out of it, I do not know--God knows) was caught up as far as the third heaven. And I know that this same man (whether in the body or out of it, I do not know--God knows) was caught up into paradise, and heard words so secret that human lips may not repeat them." (2 Corinthians 12:2)?
Suppose instead that Paul was talking about fishing. "I know a Christian man who fourteen years ago (whether fishing or not, I do not know--God knows) was caught up as far as the third heaven. And I know that this same man (whether fishing or not, I do not know--God knows) was caught up into paradise, and heard words so secret that human lips may not repeat them." Doesn't that imply it's okay for a Christian man to go fishing? What exactly is the difference? What Paul meant is "This Christian man may have been having an out-of-body experience." But that doesn't make him any less Christian, nor met with God's disapproval. Like slavery, OBEs were known to the early Christian world, yet Paul does not call it out nor condemn it. He talks about OBEs in a rather matter-of-fact way, like fishing. Doesn't that tell you something?
Then Vince resorted to personal attacks:
"This guy Bob's initial comment says it all. Look where a lifetime of occult practice gets you- a bitter old man putting down people who have overcome a horrible problem simply because he doesn't agree with their religious beliefs. He says "oh well your faith is just an addiction but you weak-minded people need that!" What a joke. You are transparent Bob. Astral projection doesn't make for a kind and loving person. Nor an honest one."Bitter old man? LMAO! He does have an active imagination, I'll give him that. I never "put down" anyone, as I see it. I never called him weak-minded. I applaud people who overcome addiction. People with addictive personality types often do need a substitute, whether it be Christ, Buddha, Mohammad, or any other faith. That's not a judgment. That doesn't mean you're weak, inferior or worse than anyone else. It just means you're human like the rest of us.
After that, I pointed out the logical fallacy of his argument: just because witches or occultists practice astral projection doesn't mean astral projection is witchcraft or occultism. That's as ridiculous as saying, "Macs are computers. Bob uses a computer. Therefore, Bob uses a Mac." No. Wrong. That's the fallacy of generalization. Any grad student who passes "Logic 101" class can tell you that.
I told Vince I've never practiced witchcraft, nor occultism a day in my life. And I asked him specifically: Where exactly in the Bible does it say that astral projection is witchcraft? Where in the Bible does it say that if an OBE is spontaneous it's alright, but if initiate it yourself, it's a sin? Paul's example from 2 Corinthians isn't even that specific. Paul never specified if it was a spontaneous or self-induced OBE.
Maybe you can guess his response.
He deleted my post.
That's right. Like any closed-minded thick-skulled fundamentalist, he covered his eyes and ears like the first two monkeys in the famous trio: "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil."
When the foundations of any faith start to crumble under the unbearable weight of the truth, the closed-minded shore them up anyway they can. It's easier to retreat to your safe zone than actually do the necessary research, deductive reasoning, and soul-searching. I guess some people just can't handle the truth.
I posted again to say something like, "Sure. Just delete my posts and ignore the truth." Naturally, he deleted those replies too.
It was Vince's post, so he has the right to delete my replies. Two thousand years ago, I would have been silenced more harshly. I'd have been tortured and killed without a second thought. That was the primitive mentality of those times. But this is 2018, and I refuse to be silenced, especially when it comes to misinformation about OBEs.
The sad thing is that Vince is still an addict but won't admit it. His addiction to Fundamentalist Christianity is plain to see in how he denies it, defends his actions fiercely, blocks opposing information, and refuses help. Addicts can't be changed from the outside. But I guess it's still better than addiction to drugs or alcohol. It's still a positive step in his spiritual evolution.
God doesn't take away your addictions. I've talked to various addicts and AA people, and they'll tell you upfront: You need to admit you're always an addict. The first thing they say at AA meetings is something like "I'm John, and I'm an alcoholic."
Vince wants to believe that astral projection is against God's law. That's his right, but he hasn't proven his case, nor will he ever. It's just an illogical, unsubstantiated belief he's been spoon-fed by his fanatical Christian handlers.
The truth is: There's nothing in the Bible that says out-of-body experiences are wrong or sinful, and there's nothing in the Bible that equates it with witchcraft. The only reason he (or anyone) has to believe OBEs are "witchcraft" is because some faith-tainted closed-minded ignoramus told him it was, whether it was by mouth, video, book, or website. It's certainly not in the tenants of the religion.
The problem with most fundamentalist Christians (and fundamentalists of all religions) is that they deal in absolutes, in black and white. They claim the Bible is the absolute word of God and that every word of the Bible is true. They insist you cannot "pick and choose" what to believe in the Bible. But then they blatantly ignore it and blind themselves to the numerous laws they themselves break daily and the contradictions, then come up with absurd stories to explain them away, like how Judas died. And almost all of them are content to study passages of the Bible selected by their handlers, but not read the entire Bible, which paints a more complete story. Why? Because reading the Bible is a lot of work. It's a big book. But how can they believe their soul depends on it, but still treat it as not important enough to actually read it?
For the record, Matthew 27:1-10 states that Judas committed suicide by hanging himself. The Acts of the Apostles doesn't mention any suicide, but says he "Fell headlong, burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out." (Acts 1:18) So which is it? Fundamentalists who argue this say that both happened: He hung himself, then his body fell and he became disemboweled. Yeah. Right. Nice story. Reminds me of the guy who committed suicide by shooting himself in the back of the head, twice. Or the guy in the show "Chicago" who "accidentally" ran into his wife's knife--ten times.
What? You want other examples? How about this one: In one place it says that Jesus was tempted by Satan for 40 days (Matthew 4:1), but in another it says that God cannot be tempted (James 1:13). If Jesus is God, how do you reconcile that? There are many examples, but don't take my word for it: Do your own research. Read the Bible, but read the whole thing. Not just bits selected by fanatics. We all pick and choose what wisdom to gather from what sources, as it should be.
If you don't pick and choose, if you believe every word of the Bible is God's truth, you have to accept all of its teachings, right? The Bible does not teach that slavery is wrong. It instructs you on how you should treat your slaves. In other words, it condones slavery. So unless you "pick and choose" what to believe, you need to accept that it's okay to own slaves. The Bible also teaches that women should be quiet and not teach. The Bible forbids getting a tattoo. It also forbids wearing clothes with mixed fabric types. And eating pork. And a lot of things. So put your money where your mouth is or shut up.
I do not have a problem with people practicing Christianity or believing in Jesus as their lord and savior. People should be free to believe what they want to believe. I'd much rather see that than the countless people today who have no respect, no morals, and no conscience, and go around shooting up schools.
What I have a problem with is people imposing their beliefs on others: trying to silence the honest seekers by spreading lies, quashing the truth, discouraging people from finding out for themselves what's really "out there," as Vince tried to do when he deleted my replies. Or trying to scare people into the blind obedience, like telling them OBEs lead to death, damnation, and that you need to repent and turn to Jesus.
In Matthew 6:33 it says "Seek first the kingdom of God" and throughout history, humankind's views of the "kingdom of God" has always been based on someone's personal experiences, mostly their near-death experiences and out-of-body experiences.
If you believe in someone else's mystical experiences, that's secondhand knowledge, which is often fraught with misinterpretation and misinformation. Especially when those experiences are hopelessly removed from your current situation by thousands of years of cultural changes, language translations, editing by various religious authorities, and plain old lack of words they had to describe their experiences (in any language) when it happened.
If you have your own personal experiences, that's firsthand knowledge, and seeing is believing. As I said, knowledge trumps faith every time.
To discourage people from discovering their own truths is just plain old dark-ages thinking. It's caveman thinking. This same kind of "Christian" thinking is why the Catholic church burned Giordano Bruno alive at the stake for teaching that the Earth travels around the sun (as Galileo proposed), even though he was right. It's the kind of idiotic thinking that leads suicide bombers to commit mass murder to get their 72 virgins.
End of rant. Sheesh. I warned him not to get me going. :)
11 December 2018