Blog Archives

Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask, Sidebar on 1 Corinthians

The first of today’s posts on DaGoodS’s (DGS) questions will come a bit later, as I wanted to examine a side issue that was raised. The discussion revolves around a specific interpretation of 1 Corinthians 1:20-21. DGS thinks it supports a rejection of all worldly wisdom. However, I believe that in its proper context, it is trying to argue something far different. Read the rest of this entry

Slavery in the Bible Revisited

In the previous post, I quoted 1 Corinthians 7:17-24 in order to make a point that the Bible doesn’t endorse church-hopping. That passage has Paul urging Christians to stay in the situation in which they were called. Most often, candidates to enter seminary for full-time ministry are told to reflect on that passage.

As much as Christendom (both Roman Catholics and Protestants) needs preachers, we are loathe to have people enter the ministry who are needed elsewhere. God doesn’t call everyone to be ministers in the sense of being in the full-time employ of a local church. Consider 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. Paul specifically tells us that everyone receives different spiritual gifts, and each is therefore called to different duties within the church.

However, the passage from 1 Corinthians 7 I quoted in the previous article contains an extensive discussion of slavery, urging slaves to remain under their masters (unless they gain an opportunity to be freed). Any mention of slavery in the Bible disgusts and outrages critics of Christianity, and unless I deal with the potential objection now it will be raised. I will probably be accused of being pro-slavery unless I deal with it now.

Slavery in the Bible is seriously misunderstood. Check Glenn Miller’s contextualization of ANE slavery here. Slavery in the Bible was closer in nature to the modern employer-employee relationship. There were significant areas of difference that would make slavery far less desirable than a modern at-will employment contract, don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that no differences exist. Skeptics normally think of the African Slave Trade when faced with passages about slavery in the Bible, but that’s not what the Bible means by “slavery.”

This is another example of the skeptic’s outright refusal to understand the Bible on its own terms. They are reading a modern idea into an ancient document. The writers of the Bible knew nothing of the brutality of the African Slave Trade, which involved the kidnapping and forcible transplanting of an indigenous people–a practice that is forbidden in Mosaic Law.

Slavery was first eliminated in the Roman Empire and beyond in the early part of the first millennium by Christians because they saw it as a moral evil and an abomination in the sight of God.

Slavery was resurrected over strenuous papal opposition with the African Slave Trade of the 1700 and 1800s. This would not have been endorsed by the Bible. The end of the African Slave Trade in the mid-1800s marked the second time slavery was abolished from the world–and it was also accomplished by Christians. Atheists have made every effort to cast non-Christians as the key players in abolition, and often cite sermons of leading pastors that endorse slavery. They do everything to isolate Christian abolitionists from Christianity. But the fact remains that abolition was a Christian movement.

For a document that endorses slavery as much as skeptics claim, the Bible was somehow used twice to denounce and eliminate it. Funny, that.

Continuing Discussion With Doug Crews

I did a podcast a while back (part 1 | part 2) where I answered some tough questions for Christians proposed by Doug Crews. My comment policy has comments closed after 30 days, since I’m trying to spend time coming up with new material and normally after that time additional comments tend to rate higher on the ignorance scale than comments left in a more timely fashion.

However, Doug’s discussion is an exception to the rule. I can’t re-open comments on that thread without reopening comments across the board, so I’m going to open this new thread.

And so, the discussion continues: Read the rest of this entry

Arrest the Pope?

The atheist blogosphere has been positively buzzing as of late with calls to arrest Pope Benedict XVI. I’m no fan of the Catholic Church, but I have seen evidence that the media reports half-truths and pulls things out of context to make the Catholic Church look worse than it has to. The case of Father Lawrence Murphy is a great example.

The leader of the charge is the always pit bull-like Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens wants the Pope charged with aiding and abetting the scandal–or perhaps more serious charges, such as accessory to rape.

The problem is that the Holy See, of which the Pope is head, is treated as a state for the purposes of international relations. As head of that state, the Pope enjoys sovereign immunity, the controversial concept that the government can’t be the subject of a lawsuit or a criminal proceeding.

Sovereign immunity can be waived by the owner, and it’s very doubtful that either the Pope or the Catholic Church will do that. Or, courts can strike it down as inapplicable in the current case, as was done by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati in November of 2008. A case against the Vatican was allowed to proceed because sovereign immunity doesn’t apply to tort law, according to the Fedeal Sovereign Immunities Act.

Sovereign immunity doesn’t apply to international tribunals, either. The Pope could still be charged in the International Criminal Court for patterns of human rights violations perpetrated by the Vatican under the previous two pontiffs.

It will be interesting to see if this actually comes to pass. I doubt that it will, but we shall see.

Media Sensationalism and the New Pedophile Priest Scandals

Maureen Dowd wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times about the Catholic pedophile priest scandals that seem to be a dime a dozen now. This piece first came to my attention via Atheist Revolution, writing:

A priest molested 200 deaf boys and was ignored by Ratzinger. 200 deaf boys. Just when I think this sick enterprise cannot possibly get any worse, we learn not only that this happened but that the victims have spent 30 years of their lives trying to get the church to pay attention to them!

Then Cardinal Ratzinger was informed about this abuse and chose to look the other way. How can anyone reconcile this with the whole infallibility thing?

Regular readers know that I’m not apt to defend the Catholic Church. I am deeply sickened by moving priests who molest little boys from diocese to diocese, hoping no one will actually catch on. I’m sympathetic to the missions of SNAP and I think that something needs to change.

That said, I also believe in correctly representing those that you criticize. Dowd isn’t doing that at all. Neither is Vjack.

But should it surprise me? Nope. I’ve proven Vjack wrong before, and he keeps repeating the same mistakes. I’m thinking that he’s not going to take the correction here, either.

With regards to “the whole infallibility thing,” papal infallibility should be properly defined.

Papal infallibility is the dogma in Roman Catholic theology that, by action of the Holy Spirit, the Pope is preserved from even the possibility of error when he solemnly declares or promulgates to the universal Church a dogmatic teaching on faith or morals as being contained in divine revelation, or at least being intimately connected to divine revelation.

And it goes on:

This dogma, however, does not state either that the Pope cannot sin in his own personal life or that he is necessarily free of error, even when speaking in his official capacity, outside the specific contexts in which the dogma applies.

Not to mention that the actions which Vjack wishes to contrast with papal infallibility occured when Benedict was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, before he was Pope. This is not a valid comparison. Even so, no one has ever claimed that the Pope is free of sin, only that he cannot teach error (though I should remind everyone that I disagree with that position vehemently).

But, Catholic theology aside, what about the fact that the future Pope looked the other way when faced with this case? Thing is, he probably didn’t. This is being misrepresented by the media. Grossly. Jimmy Akin has analyzed the available documents and presents a more accurate version of events here.

Again, I’m no fan of the Catholic Church. It seems to me that some of the criticisms in the Father Murphy case are unwarranted. But, let’s not lose sight of the fact that this man did molest boys by his own admission. He still deserved more punishment than just being moved to another diocese, though since he had to live with his mother some may argue that may have been punishment enough.

Both the civil authorities and the Catholic Church are to blame here. The police knew about the case and had investigated, but nothing ever came of it. And the Church should have done much more than just move Murphy to another diocese and call it a day.

Was it really necessary to open a trial with the purpose of defrocking an ill and frail old man who is a threat to no one some 30 years after the offenses took place? If civil authorites built a case against a murderer who had killed someone 30 years ago and recently suffered a second stroke leaving him in poor health, no one would bat an eyelash if the authorities elected to not prosecute the offender. Why is this different? (I’m really looking forward to your answers.)

Why I’m Not Roman Catholic

This post’s traffic numbers were up 33% for the week of July 15th.  Then it flatlined for two weeks.  This week, it’s up 495% in views thanks to this thread at the CARM forums.

The problem is that I no longer agree with a substantial amount of the content found in it.  (See comments below.)

Therefore, I have removed it and I’ve left this placeholder.  Fret not, however; I have an updated version of this post right here.

If you’d like to read more on why I’m not a Roman Catholic, please view these far more even-handed posts: