Is Christianity the only reasonable religion?
Is persuasive reasoning the modus operandi of Christians, and the censor's sword that of all others?
1. The war between Islam, Buddhism, Atheism, evolutionism, psychiatry, and news reporters, on one side, and Christianity on the other: how the two sides fight. 2. Which side gave us, and preserves, Freedom of Speech. 3. The importance of reasoning to God. 4. Though Christian reasonableness is miles ahead of the world, it is still miles behind God's vision for us.
One purpose of this article is to encourage Christians. "The world" calls its favorite thinkers "intellectuals", a crown seldom if ever awarded to any Christian. Christians need to know the opposite is true: "the wisdom of the world" really is foolish, just like 1 Corinthians 3:9 says. We really are the light of the world, just like Matthew 5:14 says. We ought not cower under a bushel, Matthew 5:15, where the world tells us we belong. (Not that we are the light of the world by our own power, any more than a light bulb burns energy which it produces all by itself! Philippians 4:13.)
(A video of part of this article was made by a discussion group for the Uncle Ed. Show first airing Dec 11, 2004 AD. To order a $15 copy, email us.)
1. The war between Islam, Buddhism, Atheism, evolutionism, psychiatry, and news reporters, on one side, and Christianity on the other: how the two sides fight
Atheists in the U.S. are few, but their lawsuits to censor Christian expression are many. Meanwhile, Christians' lawsuits to censor the religious expression of atheism, secular humanism, Islam, Buddhism, or any other religion are zero. It is Christians who promote their faith by reasoning, while nonbelievers protect their non-faith by censorship. (The lawsuits by Christians are to stop censorship.)
"Book burnings." Even the "book burnings", of which Christians are mindlessly accused, are not where Christians burn other people's books, but where Christians have inspired public sentiment to the extent people are willing to burn their own evil books. Acts 19:19 records such a "book burning". That is not censorship. Censorship is where you coercively silence other people's expression. Reasoning is where you persuade others to change what they have to express. Christians reason. Nonbelievers censor. Apparently it is because nonbelievers have so little appreciation for reasoning that they call it "censorship" too.
Censoring library books. Christians are accused of censoring library books which are pornographic and unfit for children, but even then the issue is whether taxpayers should be forced to buy them. Real censorship is where you ban other people from spending their own money to buy the books of their own choosing, not where you choose not to buy certain books for other people with your own money. Apparently it is because nonbelievers have so little appreciation of the freedom of choice that they call it "censorship" too.
Censoring literature in schools. When the libraries are in public schools, the issue is whether parents have any say about exposing their children to immoral material of doubtful educational value, while much greater and more wholesome literature lies unread. Apparently it is because nonbelievers have so little appreciation for parental concern that their children be educated, and not perverted, that they call parental concern "censorship", too.
Boycots. They even cry "censorship" over boycotts -- the free choice of numerous concerned citizens not to trade with businesses whose profits support killing babies, or who sell photos profaning female flesh. Thus they call free choice, which is good, "evil", while they leave no stone unturned to protect the evil trade in those filthy magazines as if they are "good".
Real censorship. Real censorship does not occur much, if at all, in America, because America is a Christian nation (in the sense that America's predominant religion is Christianity). Freedom of speech flowered in America rather than in a non-Christian nation because it is a Biblical principle. Real censorship occurs all the time in non-Christian nations, where censors confiscate other's Bibles and silence others' religious expression with arrest, torture and murder. Censorship is the weapon of non-Christians, not Christians. Being reasonable is the trait of Christians, not non-Christians.
The Difference between Reason and Propaganda. Christians are known for sharing their faith even with strangers, and with nonbelievers who hate to hear even a word of it. By contrast, nonbelievers do not excitedly approach Christians with their "good news" of how God is dead. It is Christians trying to reason with nonbelievers that the world sees: not nonbelievers trying to reason with Christians. Nonbelievers evangelize in a different way than presenting a persuasive case for a clear choice. They speak as if there is no choice but theirs, which has always existed (they revise and censor history to produce this impression), and those who allege there is an alternative view are fanatics.(They find it simpler to label Christianity, than to refute it.)
And their primary targets are those least able to resist their propaganda through reason: children in public schools. Not only is childhood reasoning inferior even to that of unreasonable adults, but any child who rises up to oppose the propaganda can be punished through grades. To keep their shield from having to reason with adults complete, they manipulate young minds in such a way that their parents can't discover it, and they use legal intimidation, including phony child neglect charges, to silence parents who do. If they would do this only to their own children, that would be only the right of parents: Christians acknowledge that God gave parents jurisdiction to raise their own children. But these intellectual cowards do it to other people's children, as often as they can without parental consent or even knowledge.
"Reasoning" is where you present a controversial idea to people fully capable of comprehending it and either accepting it or refuting it. "Propaganda" is where your controversial ideas bombard people without providing them the opportunity to address you, or to resist you. Hammering the minds of other people's children is not reasoning. It is propaganda.
Courts v. God. The courts of early America were full of outstanding reasoning. But today it is typical for a judge's ruling to gloss over the issues raised during trial. For example, the ruling that took prayer out of schools did not cite a single precedent, but instead misused an unofficial letter by Thomas Jefferson in support of an assault on God which would have horrified Thomas Jefferson.
Roe v. Wade legalized abortion even though the justices said they were incompetent to determine "when life begins". The decision admits that when it can be determined that life begins at conception, the decision will fall. Yet today, judges call Roe "settled law" even though every American legal authority which has taken a position on when life began, from Presidents, to governors, to state legislatures beginning in Nebraska, Missouri, and Louisiana, has unanimously declared that life begins at conception. No legal authority has ruled otherwise. Yet when Christians arrested for saving lives appeal to the Necessity Defense, which says it isn't against the law to save lives (because the avoidance of a "greater harm", abortion, justifies a "lesser harm": blocking a door, or even burning it down), state supreme courts ask "how can abortion be legally recognized as a harm, when it is constitutionally protected (translation: it is protected by us)? Never mind that Roe v. Wade treated the question of when life begins as a fact question, not a law question, since it said preachers and doctors were more competent to decide it than judges; never mind that juries are supposed to be "the judges of the facts"; never mind that judges have stopped allowing juries in "rescue" trials to even know the existence of this fact issue; never mind that in most rescue trials, this fact issue -- whether life begins at conception, in which case abortion is the greatest of harms: murder -- is the only contested issue in the trial; never mind that when the judge takes from the jury the only contested issue of the trial, not to mention a fact question, and judges that issue himself, the accused can hardly be said to have had his right to a trial by jury.
Not that there aren't still heroes on a few judicial benches. But respect for the judiciary is no longer treated by them as something they must earn. Having to earn it is beneath many of them today. They may rule as fools, against all precedent, history, and reason, not to mention against God, and gloss over the issues raised at trial, unable to intelligently address the arguments raised, and still demand the adoration of Americans; still expect Americans to be awed by their obscure words and unclear logic, still expect Americans to assume that anything a judge says, which makes no sense to Americans, makes no sense only because of the mental deficiency of Americans. Unfortunately, insecure Americans are willing to humor irrational judges. Americans haven't the stomach to even think of impeaching one, or voting against their retention at the polls (in state courts), or encouraging Congressmen to limit the jurisdiction of federal judges. (The House has finally voted to limit federal court's jurisdiction to review the DOMA act. A tiny first step.)
This judicial arrogance is related to a change in the Canon of Judicial Ethics undertaken in about 1968-1970. The Canons were reduced from 25 to 7. #18 used to read, "...a judge should indicate the reasons for his action in an opinion showing that he has not disregarded or overlooked serious arguments of counsel. He thus shows his full understanding of the case, avoids the suspicion of arbitrary conclusion, promotes confidence in his intellectual integrity and may contribute useful precedent to the growth of the law." This is worth highlighting because it not only well defines the essence of justice, but also the essence of clear reasoning. It is a good definition of "reasonable". A nonbeliever who rejects Christian arguments without addressing them cannot call himself logical. To reject an idea you cannot refute is unreasoning. It is unreasonable. It is irrational. It merits no respect. You may have a great ball team, but if you don't show up at the ball park you "forfeit" the game. Your opponent is declared the winner. It is the same with a controversy. If you are not willing to face the Christians you condemn, in an honest dialogue, you forfeit the debate. God declares them the winner, and so does everybody else who observes you. If anyone is the fool, it is not the Christian whose arguments you decline to address. An opinion about exactly who is the fool, in such cases, is found in Proverbs 18:13,
"He that answereth a matter [pronounces his verdict] before he heareth it [hears all the evidence], it is folly and shame unto him."
But the judges of America saw fit to reduce the former Canons of Judicial Ethics from 25 to 7, and to leave out #18, in an action which seemed to commemorate the close of the Great Age of American Justice. Now the state of American jurisprudence more closely approximates the withering assessment of the world's courts by God, in 1 Corinthians 6. Was what was considered ethical before, now no longer ethical, because judges have ruled they can now be ethical whether or not they violate the older canons? To say it is so, you must kiss your brains good-bye.
Evolution, the general attack on not just the authority of Scripture, but on reason itself. I went out deer hunting last week, and saw some deer tracks. Now if I applied the logic of evolution, I would say, "it would be excessively religious to assume those tracks were caused by a deer. They probably just evolved. I have seen similar tracks which I am able to imagine evolved. Therefore I cannot rely on these tracks to know if a deer has been here. Therefore I really have no way of knowing where deer travel. Therefore I cannot track a deer. Therefore hunting is useless, and I should just go home and allow the TV to erase what's left of my mind."
Can you see how this kind of anti-logic undermines human ability to accomplish any human task? Such absurdity is anti-science, yet those who perpetuate this absurdity actually call themselves "scientists", and as such demand the world's admiration for their great powers of reason. Just like judges do who demonstrate incapacity to address points raised in court, yet expect the world to be intimidated by their superior intelligence. "Science falsely so-called" is nothing new in this century. It was warned against in 1 Timothy 6:20.
A single molecule of water has a lot more complexity than deer tracks. If deer tracks can't evolve, how can water? Even the world recognizes, as a fool, someone who sees a wallet lying on the sidewalk, and concludes it "evolved", and therefore may be claimed without first seeking its human owner. But DNA is a whole lot more complex than a wallet, or a watch, or every invention of human history thrown together. If a simple wallet can't evolve in a few hours, how could our infinitely more complex DNA evolve though our imaginations provide it trillions of trillions of years?
Evolution's attack on reason is well illustrated by what happened after the Kansas State Board of Education voted, on August 11, 1999, to stop teaching evolution as if it were proved beyond doubt, while evidence that the earth could not be much more than 6,000 years old is withheld from students. The Board ended the monopoly of evolution over Kansas classrooms, by allowing local school boards to decide whether to teach (1) evolution only, (2) young earth evidence only, (3) both, or (4) neither. Furthermore, they removed evolution questions from state testing; in other words, not requiring students who don't even believe this garbage, to pass or fail depending on how well they can parrot it back. After all, a majority of Americans still believe God created the earth, and all life on it. The Board distinguished between "microevolution" (transformation within a species) which they continued to mandate, and "macroevolution" (development of entirely distinct species) which now local school boards could decide whether to continue teaching. The Board encouraged continued study of ALL data regarding fossils, geologic tables, and cosmological information. But "standards regarding origins", or in other words, conclusions, or working assumptions about the orgins of all these things, were no longer required to be taught under penatly of the law, as was the case before the Board's vote.
The "scientific" community went ballistic, in effect screaming, "we're talking about science, here! You can't allow the students to learn about the evidence that we might be wrong!" In order to defend their law-enforced monopoly (as if they doubted their ability to defend their monopoly by mere persuasion, or reason, without the heavy hand of the Law to censor dissent) they actually insisted there is no controversy about evolution among scientists! They actually expected the public to believe no scientist who doubts that evolution is fact counts as a real scientist! Not one! They actually made their case in such absolute terms!
And they prevailed! Four of the six board members came up for re-election, and the board changed. So on February 21, 2001, the policy was reversed by the new board..
Observe in what manner this exemplifies evolution's broadside against reason: now, once again, as elsewhere across America, it is not ultimately scientists who decide what evidence to teach, but lawmakers, judges, and the bureaucrats who enforce laws. The Kansas State Board of Education, for one year and one half, made "science" stand on its own two feet and defend itself by persuasive reason. But "scientists" declined, calling this irrational! "Scientists" pulled out every political stop, and pressured politics to restore the power of the government Sword to enforce censorship of their critics, and of all evidence which refutes their doctrine! In this picture, who, really, are the "religious extremists" who trample all evidence in the way of what they want to believe? Who are the genuine scientists, who want to elevate evidence and reason, letting them loose on a level playing field of ideas, instead of a rigged field where armed guards expel opponents regardless of their merit?
Psychology: Government censorship of Biblical parental discipline. Psychiatry is a direct enemy of Christianity, yet our government enforces it while it censors its critics.
How is psychiatry an enemy of God?
(1) Religion. Psychiatry will never tell a patient that his religion is what is making him crazy, because psychiatry sees all religions as alike. (Except for Biblical Christianity, which is a source of "guilt".) By contrast, God says only one religion is true, and living by it matters more than anything else. John 14:6.
(2) The Past. Psychiatry actually perpetuates guilt by dragging patients into their embarrassing past, for which patients are taught to blame others, rather than to be merciful and forgive. God tells us to stop wallowing in the past so you can concentrate on the present. Philippians 3:13. Forgive and forget what others did to you, and the mistakes you ignorantly made. Our time on earth is our last opportunity to do the work that lies here for us. Ecclesiastes 9:10.
(3) Guilt. God says our "conscience" protects us from error, so the worst thing we can do is stop listening to it, which is to "sear" it as "with a hot iron". 1 Timothy 4:2. Psychiatry says our feelings of guilt (the voice of conscience) serve no purpose; there is nothing we need to change, but we just need to feel better about our actions: so the best thing we can do is just stop feeling guilty -- to stop listening to our conscience. The purpose of psychiatry is to "cure" us of having a conscience.
(4) Pride. Just as psychiatry considers guilt a measure of mental illness, it considers pride -- "self esteem" -- (the flip side of guilt) a measure of mental health. Guilt is pronounced "cured" when it is replaced by self esteem. But what psychiatry calls "mental health", God calls an abomination. Proverbs 6:16. Philippians 2:3. Being loved by God, or by anyone, cannot even be appreciated so long as one thinks "it is only what I deserve."
(5) Love. God defines love as sacrificing yourself for others. John 15:12-14. Psychiatry defines love as a feeling of contentment within yoursel.f. To psychiatry, "love" is a kind feeling which makes the lover feel good and "at peace" with the problems of others, without the necessity of actually having to try to personally solve them. (However, it is permissible to vote for other taxpayers to throw money at them. It is not important, in that case, whether the money actually solves anything.)
(6) Eternity. Psychiatry operates completely without reference to any existence beyond death. But God says only a "fool" lays up his "treasures" on earth where nothing lasts. Luke 12:16-34. Talk about depression! What a miserable existence, without the hope of the resurrection! 1 Corinthians 15:12.
(7) Works v. Grace: Earning your own Healing. Psychology is a "religion of works". (In the King James Version, "works" is a term describing working/earning your own way, without God's help, into Heaven.) You can become mentally healthy through your own understanding that your conscience has nothing important to say, and that you can "love" others without "getting involved". You can even pay for your own therapy. (For more details see www.Saltshaker.US/BibleStudies/PsychologyVBible.htm)
Yet when parents "dare to discipline" (the title of James Dobson's book) Biblically, meaning spanking, and a child abuse bureaucrat gets involved, parents are likely to find themselves in a court which slowly wrestles child custody away from them. (Child abuse bureaucrats publicly insist "spanking is not child abuse", so no parent loses his children for spanking. Their critics are making it up, they insist. But that's not what they tell the judge; nor is that what they teach in their mandatory "parenting classes". For much more detail see www.Saltshaker.US/American Issues/Child Abuse/232.htm.)
In other words, where psychiatrists cannot prevail against Biblical discipline on a Level Playing Field for Ideas, they go get the police and drive off their critics, holding children as hostages. Again, Christians advance their agenda by reason: the priests of the religion of Psychiatry advance their agenda by coercive censorship. In those court rooms where they take children away from Christian parents, judges will absolutely censor any Biblical testimony about what God says about spanking. That is "irrelevant", they will chant.
"But psychology is not a religion. It is a science", you say?
That's not what C.G. Jung, the co-founder of psychology with Freud, thought. He recognized psychology as a religion, and confided that Freud wanted to call it "science" only because calling it a "science" gave it more credibility than calling it another religion.
Indeed, even the U.S. Supreme Court refers the world to a book by Karl Popper which carefully explains why the conclusions drawn by psychiatrists about their patients are not scientifically "testable, falsifiable, or refutable", in contrast to Einstein's Theory of Relativity. The case was William Daubert, et ux., etc., et al., Petitioners v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., No. 92-102, 61 LW 4805. The case changed the criteria for the admissibility of "expert testimony". Before, it was whether such information had been published in scientific journals. Daubert replaced that with whether such information is "testable, falsifiable, or refutable". The Court referred the world, for an explanation of these terms, to the book "Conjectures and Refutations" by Karl Popper. In the pages referred to by the Court, Popper uses psychiatry as his example of something which is not scientific, though it appears to be. Here is how Popper explains the difference:
"We all-the small circle of students to which I belonged-were thrilled with the result of Eddington's eclipse observations [In which Eddington photographed the edge of a solar eclipse showing stars behind the sun, proving that the suns gravity was bending the light of the stars, as Einstein predicted] which in 1919 brought the first important confirmation of Einsteinís theory of gravitation. It was a great .experience for us, and one which had a lasting influence on my intellectual development.
The three other theories I have mentioned were also widely discussed among students at that time. I myself happened to come into personal contact with Alfred Adler, and even to co-operate with him in his social work among people in the working-class districts of Vienna where he had established social guidance clinics.
It was during the summer of 1919 that I began to feel more and more dissatisfied with these three theories--the Marxist theory of history, psychoanalysis, and individual psychology; and I begun to feel dubious about their claims to scientific status....Why are they so different from physical theories, from Newton's theory, and especially from the theory of relativity?
....I felt that these other three theories, though posing as sciences, had in fact more in common with primitive myths than with science; that they resembled astrology rather than astronomy.
I found that those of my friends who were admirers of Marx, Freud, and Adler, were impressed by a number of points common to these theories, and especially by their apparent explanatory power. These theories appeared to be able to explain practically everything that happened within the fields to which they referred. The study of any of them seemed to have the effect of an intellectual conversion or revelation, opening your eyes to a new truth bidden from those not yet initiated. Once your eyes were thus opened you saw confirming instances everywhere: the world was full of verifications of the theory. Whatever happened always confirmed it. Thus its truth appeared manifest; and unbelievers were clearly people who did not want to see the manifest truth; who refused to see it, either because it was against their class interest, or because of their repressions which were still "un-analysed" and crying out for treatment.
The most characteristic element in this situation seemed to me the incessant stream of confirmations, of observations which "verified" the theories in question; and this point was constantly emphasized. by their adherents. A Marxist could not open a newspaper without finding on every page confirming evidence for his interpretation of history; not only in the news, but also in its presentation -- which revealed the class bias of the paper -- and especially of course in what the paper did not say. The Freudian analysts emphasized that their theories were constantly verified by their "clinical observations".
So you've "seen it a thousand times"? Did prejudice blind you as much the first time as it does the thousandth?
As for Adler, I was much impressed by a personal experience. Once, in 1919, I reported to him a case which to me did not seem particularly Adlerian, but which he found no difficulty in analysing in terms of his theory of inferiority feelings, although he had not even seen the child. Slightly shocked, I asked him how he could be so sure. "Because of my thousandfold experience", he replied; whereupon I could not help saying: "And with this new case, I suppose, your experience has become thousand-and-one-fold." [I meant] ...that his previous observations may not have been much sounder than this new one; that each in its turn had been interpreted in the light of "previous experience", and at the same time counted as additional confirmation.
What, I asked myself, did it confirm? No more than that a case could be interpreted in the light of the theory. But this meant very little, I reflected, since every conceivable case could be interpreted in the light of Adler's theory, or equally of Freud's.
I may illustrate this by two very different examples of human behaviour: that of a man who pushes a child into the water with the intention of drowning it; and that of a man who sacrifices his life in an attempt to save the child. Each of these two cases can be explained with equal ease in Freudian and in Adlerian terms. According to Freud the first man suffered from repression (say, of some component of his Oedipus complex), while the second man had achieved sublimation. According to Adler the first man suffered from feelings of inferiority (producing perhaps the need to prove to himself that he dared to commit some crime), and so did the second man (whose need was to prove to himself that he dared to rescue the child). I could not think of any human behaviour which could not be interpreted in terms of either theory. It was precisely this fact -- that they always fitted, that they were always confirmed -- which in the eyes of their admirers constituted the strongest argument in favour of these theories. It began to dawn on me that this apparent strength was in fact their weakness.
With Einstein's theory the situation was strikingly different. Take one typical instance -- Einsteinís prediction, just then confirmed by the findings of Eddington's expedition. Einstein's gravitational theory had led to the result that light must be attracted by heavy bodies (such as the sun), precisely as material bodies were attracted. As a consequence it could be calculated that light from a distant fixed star whose apparent position was close to the sun would reach the earth from such a direction that the star would seem to be slightly shifted away from the sun; or, in other words, that stars close to the sun would look as if they had moved a little away from the sun, and from one another. This is a thing which cannot normally be observed since such stars are rendered invisible in daytime by the sun's overwhelming brightness; but during an eclipse it is possible to take photographs of them. If the same constellation is photographed at night one can measure the distances on the two photographs, and check the predicted effect.
Now the impressive thing about this case is the risk involved in a prediction of this kind. If observation shows that the predicted effect is definitely absent. then the theory is simply refuted. The theory is incompatible with certain possible results of observation -- in fact with results which everybody before Einstein would have expected. This is quite different from the situation I have previously described, when it turned out that the theories in question were compatible with the most divergent human behaviour, so that it was impossible to describe an human behaviour that might not be claimed to be a verification of these theories.
These considerations led me in the winter of 1919-20 to conclusions which I may now reformulate as follows.
(1) It is easy to obtain confirmations, or verifications, for nearly every theory -- if we look [uncritically] for confirmations.
(2) Confirmations should count only if they are the result of risky predictions; that is to say, if, unenlightened by the theory in question, we should have expected an event which was incompatible with the theory -- an event which would have refuted the theory.
(3) Every "good" scientific theory is a prohibition: it forbids certain things to happen. [Or, it predicts that certain things cannot happen.] The more a theory forbids, the better it is.
(4) A theory which is not refutable by any conceivable event is nonscientific. Irrefutability is not a virtue of a theory (as people often think) but a vice.
(5) Every genuine test of a theory is an attempt to falsify it, or to refute it. Testability is falsifiability; but there are degrees of testability: some theories are more testable, more exposed to refutation, than others; they take, as it were, greater risks.
(6) Confirming evidence...(or "corroborating evidence")...should not count except when it is the result of a genuine test of the theory; and this means that it can be presented as a serious but unsuccessful attempt to falsify [refute]" the theory.
(7) Some genuinely testable theories, when found to be false, are still upheld by their admirers -- for example by introducing ad hoc [made up for the occasion] some auxiliary assumption, or by re-interpreting the theory ad hoc in such a way that it escapes refutation. Such a procedure is always possible, but it rescues the theory from refutation only at the price of destroying, or at least lowering, its scientific status....
One can sum up all this by saying that the criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability.
The final sentence is the one quoted in the Daubert decision, 1993. These three words are not three separate criteria, but are synonyms. When you test a theory, you attempt to "refute" it, or to prove that it is "false". If it is not testable -- if you cannot think of a way to refute a theory, or to test whether it is false -- then it is simply not a "scientific" theory. (It is either a broad statement so general that its application is not clear, or a statement of matters beyond the ability of science to confirm.)
If a psychiatrist says you are suffering repression because of what your uncle told you when you were three, how can you test that? You can neither prove nor disprove it. It is like the predictions of astrologers which are so general, and the details so undefined, that they are virtually always "true". For example, "something good will happen today." Well, depending on how one defines "good", which usually varies with one's mood, every day has some good in it for someone, somewhere.
Of course, these obstacles do not disturb most believers in either astrology or psychology. Few people care about testing their beliefs. Snake oil will always sell, astrologers will always have a long line of starry-eyed suckers outside their tents, conspiracy theorists will always be able to charge premium prices for their videos, "mainstream reporters" will always get away with massaging their own "conspiracy theories" into stories about public figures they don't like, and for the foreseeable future, county governments will remain willing to break their budgets providing "mental health care" at $300 per hour to truly "insane" people who would be better helped by $10/hour sympathetic but ordinary guards.
"So why, then, does it matter? If psychiatry helped me, isn't that proof enough that it is legitimate? Why should I still be wary of it?"
Listen to an answer to a similar question, from Saiid, from Bangladesh, who studied medical science in India and passed his boards in America to be a doctor, and is working in a pharmacy in Des Moines (2003) while waiting for an opening. I asked him "Are there folk remedies in Bangladesh which might be beneficial here but would not be permitted?" He answered "I don't believe in those remedies. I've studied medical science, and for every drug I dispense, I know the side effects. But at the medicine shows, they have a microphone, and they say something funny, and all the people gather, and they promise wonderful benefits about drugs where no one has studied or recorded the side effects. It may be fine for 100 people, but then a few may become sick or die. It is good to know the side effects."
This is of course reminiscent of the medicine shows that traveled America 100 years ago, with pretty dancing girls and minstrel bands, selling snake oil and wonderful elixirs promising to cure everything from baldness to sadness to scurvy to ugliness. And it is reminiscent of sales today of everything from collodial silver, to picnogenal, to peppermint oil, all with vast claims of miraculous cures and no information about side effects. In fact it is alleged there can be no side effects because they are all "natural". News flash: beer and sugar are "natural".
Are there any "side effects" of psychiatry? Is anyone ever actually harmed by psychiatry? Is harm, caused by psychiatry, ever actually documented?
Why yes, as a matter of fact. It is common knowledge among psychiatrists that thousands of studies have done by psychiatrists to measure their effectiveness. They want to measure how much better their patients get, under their care. So they compare the improvement of patients under their care with a "control group" of patients who receive no care. What have they learned?
These studies have uniformly found that the number of patients who get better, is only a little more than the number of patients who get worse. They have found that the amount of improvement some enjoy is only slightly more than the amount of harm others suffer. They find these results regardless of the psychiatric approach used.
The Christian view is that for those satisfied with such results, after they are informed of them, psychiatry should not be outlawed. But when a treatment has a cure rate of only 51%, and a side effect rate of 49%, that is not successful enough for our police to force people to submit to it, and our courts to order parents to hock their homes to pay for exorbitantly expensive treatments, and then to remove children from parents unwilling to submit to such devastation.
Those are pretty staggering "side effects"! Would Americans tolerate a drug which makes almost half its users almost as sick as it makes the rest of its users well? Why don't these results disturb them? Because, they say, the studies prove they are helping people! If the people they save are a couple more than the people they destroy, then the net result is that they are saving people!
In other words, psychiatry is like chemo therapy, that horrible cancer treatment which is almost as deadly as cancer. Maybe most chemo patients die a horrible death from a combination of the treatment and the disease, but in a few cases patients actually live! Isn't that good enough? Well,
1. It would be helpful if psychiatry patients were informed of the side effects. It would be helpful to our nation if lawmakers understood the side effects, before they hand over coercive police powers to psychiatrists in child abuse and adult involuntary commitment cases, and before they require public schools to hire teams of counselors.
2. When the studies report a slight net improvement from psychiatric treatment, keep in mind that it is psychiatrists who are measuring the improvement, using criteria matching their concept of mental health, a concept not necessarily shared by ordinary Americans, not to mention Christians.
3. No one is forced to take chemo therapy. No one is forced to take any drug, after they read the side effects. No policeman will ever drag you into court for refusing to take a drug that kills almost as many people as it saves. No judge will take every drug advertisement as gospel as he rules whether to stuff it down your throat, except for the side effects which he censors, along with censoring Christian criticism of the drug. But courts subject adults and children to psychiatric care against their will routinely, taking every word of every testifying psychiatrist as "expert witness", with no acknowledgement of any possible "side effect" of even one word of any psychiatrist. Courts weighing child abuse cases censor quotes from the Bible as irrelevant, while allowing any psychiatrist to babble on indefinitely, his every word taken as gospel. Literally.
Mandatory innoculations of public school children are controversial, even though no one alleges they kill even as many as one in one thousand children. Can you imagine how controversial they would be if they made 400 out of 1,000 sick? Yet even the statistically miniscule risk of innoculations are the reason some parents home school. No wonder a greater reason is the much greater risk of harm from psychiatry through public school counselors, and child abuse evaluations!
Popper's criticism of psychoanalysis, that the conclusions of psychiatrists about their patients are untestable, applies only when there are conclusions. There are actually movements in psychiatry where the "analyst" does no analyzing: where he draws no conclusions, but just encourages the patient to draw his own conclusions. One such movement was led by Rogers in the '60's. One of his partners in those early experiments, W.R. Coulson, (his third partner was Maslow) later toured the nation warning of the devasting results. When Rogerian therapy was tried in a Catholic school system in California, he reports, the school system was destroyed when hundreds of nuns turned from Christianity to immorality.
But every time a psychiatrist testifies as an "expert witness" against a parent in court, he draws conclusions about the child, not one detail of which is testable, as Popper explained. (Other than the facts he might have learned in the same way any other human with his access might have learned them.) You cannot prove, or disprove, any detail of his "expert opinion" whether the child has done something, or been hurt by something. We may be interested in his judgment as a human being, but not because of his psychiatric training. Any pretense that his judgments have any more precision to them, because of his training, than the judgments of others, is balderdash. The placing of more faith in his opinion than the facts merit, turns his opinions into a religion.
Therefore there is no way that his judgment about a child can be, in general, as sound as those much closer to the child: the parents. However, his "religious convictions" are imposed upon parents by courts of law ripping their children from their arms, while the same courts prohibit any mention of the Authority of the Word of God. Why? Because reason is the tool only of Christianity. All other religions, including psychiatry, propogate their faith through police power and censorship.
In contrast to the impossibility of testing, or proving, or disproving, any conclusion of psychoanalysis, the Bible has made many "risky predictions". That is, the Bible has recorded many facts which critics have questioned, but which were proved true by investigation. For example, the Bible has described cities forgotten in modern times, which generations of critics gave as evidence of "myths" in the Bible -- until archeologists dug up those cities. Prophets have made many specific "risky predicitions" of what would happen in the future. To this day we can study many of these predictions which we know came true, yet we know the predictions were recorded hundreds of years before they came true. We can compare the 100% "batting average" of Biblical prophecy with the 5% or so batting average of astrologers today, when astrologers dare to make specific predictions.
We cannot directly test some of the most important allegations of the Bible, such as God's description of Heaven and Hell. But just as we test the "credibility" of a witness in court by testing statements we don't care about, in order to gauge the reliability of testimony we do care about which we cannot test directly, we can investigate thousands of testable details in the Bible, and when we prove everything we test and cannot disprove a single verse, we have confidence that we can trust the verses we really care about.
What is like that in psychiatry? What has psychiatry produced, that is testable? It turns out that rather than psychiatry being science and Christianity being religion, Christianity is science mixed with religion, while psychiatry is pure religion. Psychiatry is an enemy of Christianity, prevailing not by reasonable persuasion, (indeed, it is the butt of popular jokes) but by the Sword of the Censor.
News Against God. Mainstream news, meaning the news departments of the major television networks and large daily newspapers, operate on several anti-God doctrines: (1) every scientist agrees life evolved over billions of years; (2) every statement of every psychiatrist is the ultimate authority about human nature; (3) the evidence that sodomy is genetically determined is not only credible but strong, (4) anyone who uses the word "sodomy" is a bigoted right wing extremist, (5) bigoted right wing extremists have a perfect right to their opinion that abortion murders a human being, but they have no right to interfere with "a woman's right to choose", or even insult the sacred right to murder one's own baby by calling it "murder", (6) news reporters never need to correct misinformation in a future story as prominently as the original information was presented, because news reporters are professionals, so they always get it right the first time; and (7) it is highly improper for a news reporter to include Scripture as part of any news article because God is irrelevant to public issues, unless some sodomite has written a Bible study justifying sodomy or some religious professor has written about how Jesus wasn't really born and Christmas was all made up.
When a Christian makes news by taking some stand against some legally protected sin, and the news reporter reports what he did without reporting the Scriptures which motivated him, then even if the reporter gets all the rest of the facts right, which he won't, he makes the Christian look like a fool. Because when you report an unusual action, without reporting the reasons for the action, you make the actor look odd.
It's not Christians who are the censors. The modus operandi of Christians is persuasion through reason. The modus operandi of nonbelievers is to silence all reason, enforcing their censorship with the whole range of tools from rudeness, to intimidation, to insults, to smear campaigns, to legal action.
Christians alone are open minded. Christian nations (nations the majority of whose population is Christian) do not persecute Moslem citizens, or citizens who worship any other faith -- not even witchcraft or Satanism. But in Moslem, Buddhist, and Communist nations, Christianity is a crime. Evangelizing, taking children to church, getting baptized, or even having meetings, are punished to varying degrees from country to country: sometimes by the government, sometimes by the people while the government looks the other way. In most Moslem nations, a Moslem who converts to Christianity will be killed -- by his own family!
Why such a dramatic difference? Is Christianity the only religion content to convert solely by persuasion -- not by force? If so, that puts pressure on its evangelists to present the Gospel so that it sounds reasonable. Religions content to convert at the point of a sword, gaining adherents through fear, exert no pressure to present their tenets so that they sound reasonable. It is much simpler to kill an enemy, than to convert him. It is much simpler to censor a critic, than to refute him. Nonbelievers take the easy road.
Unreasonable religions cannot survive comparison with reasonable religions, so they must "persuade" by censorship. That's why a nonbeliever, whose non-faith cannot be rationally defended, hates a Christian who approaches him begging for a little time to reason with him. Some particularly reasonable, educated, and scientific Christians can't understand why the nonbeliever so adamantly resists hearing even a few words about God, since the Christian only wants to present a little bit of evidence. A little bit of proof. How can anyone stop his ears to irrefutable proof, the Christian wonders? But the nonbeliever turns away and stops his ears, in effect screaming, "proof is the last thing I want to hear! If the Christian were more foolish I wouldn't mind listening to him, because I could have fun mocking him. But if I hear proof that my way of life is wrong, how will I be able to keep justifying it?!"
Doctrines that make Christians reasonable. Christian missionaries go into all the world, especially the places most hostile to their Gospel. Unlike Communists who go armed with guns and lies, or Moslems who send out conquering armies, (the Crusades were Europe's defense against Moslem military penetration as far as Bosnia and Spain),Christians go unarmed, except with a passion to persuade. They consider themselves most successful where they are most persecuted, since a decision made to love and serve God is best confirmed where the decision is very costly. Christians believe we have only one life to live, and our choice freely made (not under duress -- under pressure) is crucially important because it has eternal consequences. Christians also look forward to a Heaven made wonderful by all its Love, a Love so unconditional that it challenges us to love our enemies; and therefore strangers who are unsaved are worth risking our lives for, as we go witness to them.
Moslems, Hindus, and atheists believe none of those things.
Moslems do not believe Allah loves His enemies. Hindus do not believe Brahma has a personality capable of love, but is an impartial, unconscious force, unknowable and incapable of reasoning with man except through those "avatars" who, by their own virtues achieved over thousands of (reincarnated) lifetimes, have managed to make themselves "one" with it. Atheists acknowledge no love beyond their own, and have no motivation to love their enemies.
Moslems do not care if the choice to serve Allah is freely made, without duress. A conversion made at sword-point, and a conversion made by persuasion, are one and the same to a Moslem. Hindus do not believe it matters whether people are converted in this lifetime or a hundred lifetimes later. They believe conversion is inevitable; it's just a matter of time. Lots of it. Karma will administer its discipline like a patient but unstoppable glacier, until all resistance is worn down. Atheists do not care whether Christian's hearts are converted -- they do not care what Christians think -- so long as they shut up and "quit judging" them.
Moslems do not believe there is any sanctity to a human life, unless it is the life of a "believer" (in Allah). The rest are fit only for menial low paying jobs, if not for service as slaves or being tortured to death. Hindus believe life is "sacred" only in the same sense that every animal, bug, plant, rock, molecule, and atom is "sacred": all of them, together, constitute Brahma. There is nothing special about a human to set him apart from the rest. Therefore killing a human is no more serious than killing an animal. (Which of course is serious, too, but often unavoidable.) Atheists do not believe life has any sanctity, because nothing does.
But Christians do believe we have only one life, during which we make a crucial, free choice about unconditional love, which pressures them to become reasonable. No such pressures exist upon believers of other faiths.
The nonbeliever may argue that he has been approached by many a Christian whose Gospel presentation did not seem rational. Well, of course, Christians being humans, the reasonableness of Gospel presentations varies from one individual to another. But we can compare the reasonableness of Christianity with other religions on average, by observing on whose side of the fence censorship is the tool of choice, and on whose side reason is the tool of choice -- regardless of the quality at any single point of either the reasoning or the censorship.
Christians are not open minded because they are unsure. Christians are not reasonable merely because they are unsure of themselves, so they place themselves where critics can help them correct errors in their thinking. The Christian habit of risking scrutiny is what makes Christians so much more sure of themselves than others -- which self assurance is often what gets them so hated. When you articulate your reasoning in front of your most eloquent critics, and they cannot find fault with your reasoning, naturally you develop considerable confidence in it. Jesus provided this example at the age of 12, when he sought out the world's best educated critics of the Gospel He came to share and they could not refute Him, but rather were "astonished". Luke 2:46-47.
The tragic death of the righteous King Josiah teaches Christians to listen with an open mind to everybody, because God is liable to speak through absolutely anyone. King Josiah was the most righteous king in all Israel's history. 2 Kings 23:22, 25. By contrast, Pharaoh-Necho, king of Egypt, represented the other end of the spectrum. 2 Kings 18:21. Yet Pharaoh-Necho advised Josiah to stay out of a neighboring war, and even warned Josiah that he, Pharaoh-Necho, was speaking for God! You and I might think Josiah was wise not to take the warning seriously, but God says he died because he "hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God", 2 Chronicles 35:22!
Even God has a truly open mind as He subjects His plans to human scrutiny! Even God actually changes His mind when humans can offer a compelling reason! God actually changed His mind about obliterating Israel in response to Moses' reasoning, Exodus 32:14. (This is as startling for Christians as for non-Christians, but the KJV plainly says God "repented"; the Hebrew means that God breathed a sigh of sorrow or repentance.) When Jesus explained why He would not heal the daughter of a Canaanite woman, her humble plea changed His attitude towards her, Matthew 15:22-28.
These examples illustrate the dramatic extent to which reasoning is embedded in Christianity. A rational, open mind is no sign of uncertainty, but is the procedure for getting things exactly right. What other religion portrays even God as actually having an open mind to human correction? Obviously not all human Christians can live up to God's example. But many Christians know these stories, and cannot help being inspired by them.
2. Which side gave us, and preserves, Freedom of Speech.
Freedom of Speech was born of Christianity. Freedom of Speech was established in the United States, in a strongly Christian environment. U.S. citizens of other faiths have adopted Freedom of Speech, and like it very much, but not because it is a staple of their faith. It is not, which explains their ability to stand up for it selectively, for themselves, while they protest its availability to Christians. Freedom of Speech is a Christian fundamental. Many other nations have since adopted Freedom of Speech, to varying degrees. But it was born of Christianity, and has a shaky foundation in cultures dominated by other religions. American Christians don't feel they need physical swords -- either their own personal weapons or the heavy hand of government coercion -- to make their faith seem agreeable to new converts. The "sword" of a Christian is "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God." Ephesians 6:17. All Christians want is a level playing field, where they can articulate their faith, and, by the way, where witches, Satanists, Moslems, Hindus, etc. can too. (Freedom to articulate one's faith does not necessarily mean freedom to practice one's faith. It is still a crime for Satanists to sacrifice children. By majority vote, Americans reserve the right to criminalize some actions; however, words, with the exception of things like fraud, are free.)
American Christians don't worry about losing new believers in a forum equally available to their adversaries -- if the playing field is really level. Because their weapon penetrates deeper than any mere physical weapon: "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Hebrews 4:12.
In fact, though such a level playing field enables witches to appeal to a few souls with their sick fantasies, Christians wouldn't change it, because Christianity is all about informed choice. Christians don't want converts who don't understand their choices, so that they are unable to count the cost. Luke 14:28. Well, at least the Bible doesn't value that type of shallow conversion. Mark 4:5.
Is Freedom of Speech a concession? But is the First Amendment, anti-censorship vision of America's Founding Fathers actually Biblical? Or were the Founding Fathers compromising between what they really wanted to do and what they thought they could get away with? What about Deuteronomy 13:6-10, which commands the stoning of anyone who tries to persuade you to turn away to a false religion? What about blasphemy laws in the early days of the United States, before the Constitution? Is Freedom of Speech really inherently Christian, or is it just a balance we enjoy in this generation, as we slide from a Christian nation to a secular nation, and at this point in our slide, the free speech rights are about equal?
Even after the Revolutionary War, some of the states still had laws requiring their citizens to attend, and tithe to, the state church. Is that what Christians would return to today, if they weren't restrained by the ACLU? Is Freedom of Religious Expression, including the right of Moslems, witches, Satanists, and secular humanists to promote their beliefs, really what Christians would put up with, if they had total political power to pattern American government after the Bible? With such power, would Christians remain reasonable, or is their reasonableness only the necessity imposed upon them by their political weakness?
3. The importance of reasoning to God.
The context of Moses' law against promoting a false religion was awesome miracles establishing God's power and love for Israel beyond any reasonable doubt. The frogs, bugs, etc. of the plagues of Egypt had been worshiped as Egyptian "gods", so that each plague was irrefutable evidence of how false (not to mention undesirable in quantity, for those looking forward to going to a Heaven full of unmitigated frogness) were those "gods". To promote another religion, in the face of such powerful evidence that it is false, was not a matter of a sincere belief in another religion. It was deliberate fraud. It was deliberate rebellion against widely known facts. We have laws against fraud today, and we need them. It is one thing to err because the truth is not known. It is another thing to lie. When a lie has devastating consequences, that is fraud. Fraud ought to be prosecuted by governments. (However, a legal defense against fraud, in the United States, is the ability to make a reasonable defense of the statements alleged to be fraudulent, so that a reasonable person, in the face of the facts available to the accused, would find the position taken by the accused to have been reasonable or "credible".)
Even in Moses' laws, there was no physical pressure on any unbeliever to become a believer, as there is throughout Islam. Nor is there any punishment for any sincerely expressed skepticism. God's prophets continually told people things they were slow to believe, for which they were never punished by the police. Hearers of prophecy often questioned the prophets, as the people questioned Jesus. Reasonable questions were never condemned.
The New Testament is completely about persuasion, and never about conversion by coercion. There was excommunication from churches, but in the Bible, as contrasted with a few generations of unfortunate church history, excommunication was never undertaken for expressing sincerely held doubts about God or doctrine. The meaning of "heretic" in the KJV was "divisive", not a believer in unacceptably wrong doctrines as the Catholic church later defined the word. Romans 14 makes clear that even such fundamental doctrines as what day to worship upon, and what meat to eat, was a matter for individual conscience. 2 John 7 targets "deceivers" (or, liars) as those we should avoid. Liars are the ultimate dividers. The duty of pastors was to "refute" error, not censor it, 2 Timothy 4:2. 1 Peter 2:15 says the criticism of the foolish should be "put to silence" not by enforced censorship, but by disproving it: by living a life so virtuous that criticism of it looks foolish. Moslems, by contrast, send out "Fatwahs" against their critics: the blessing of the Imams to murder the critic. They still deal with dissent the way the Roman Catholic church did during the Reformation.
Matthew 18:15-17 gives the procedure for excommunication. Unlike the Catholic hearings against John Huss and Martin Luther, in which they were not allowed to defend themselves, Jesus said the series of hearings should consist of "confuting" or "convincing" the accused, which cannot occur where the accused cannot respond to the charges; and in the second hearing there should even be witnesses to establish the truth. And unlike the Catholic v. Protestant hearings, where excommunication was ordered by the church hierarchy even though Huss and Luther enjoyed immense popularity, Jesus provided that not until every member of the church -- in a day when "church" meant all the Christians in the city -- unanimously decided a member was doing wrong, and the member still refused to change, was a member officially regarded as a nonbeliever ("a heathen and a publican"). In other words, a person had to be so obviously wrong that not one Christian could stand up for him, a standard of proof much higher than in jury trials today where only 12 need to agree. But even then, no one was punished physically, much less executed. In fact Matthew, who wrote this account, was a "publican", yet Jesus called him to become one of the twelve apostles, and later to write what became the first Gospel of the New Testament. Matthew, in other words, was advising us to expect forgiveness and restoration, even after excommunication. Indeed, the only excommunication recorded in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 5, resulted in repentance and restoration, 2 Corinthians 2, not burning at the stake! God is not into judging people unilaterally, without taking every possible measure to reason with them about the judgment process and giving them every opportunity to opt out of it.
1 Corinthians 14 describes the format of a church service, wherein the doctrine of the pastor prevails not by censoring dissent, but by being the most persuasive, in a setting where scrutiny is invited. Paul's "preaching" never consisted of lectures to which no hearer could object, but his custom was to "reason" with nonbelievers, Acts 17:17, 18:4. God judges reasonably, not judging people for their accidents, but only for what they intended to say, do, and think. 1 Corinthians 4:5.
All these facts in Scripture support our First Amendment as completely Biblical; not at all a political concession of Christians restrained by political weakness. The ideal political climate for a Christian, according to the Bible, is a level playing field for ideas, where he may reason with others and the only clear winner is the Truth. That is what our Founding Fathers gave us, and what the ACLU strives to take away.
That is the legacy of Romans 14, 1 Corinthians 14 and most of the rest of the Bible. That is what the Catholic church had taken away at least by the time of John Huss, which the Protestant reformers reclaimed at the cost of their own blood, and which flowered in 1789 as the First Amendment.
Were the ACLU gone, and Christians given all the political power to do anything they pleased, and Christians were still faithful to the Bible as a model for government as well as for how to live, Americans of all faiths would still have Freedom of Religious Expression to articulate any sincerely held belief or question. Christians alone understand that if a sincere question cannot be asked, it cannot be answered.
America began with blasphemy laws, but not against expressing sincerely held and well reasoned convictions: more typically, they were against unreasoned vilification of things generally held to be holy.
While we do not outlaw "blasphemy" today, our courts prosecute almost the same thing, which courts call "fighting words". Examples of "fighting words" are: Yelling "nigger" in a crowd of blacks, burning a cross on a black man's lawn, throwing lard in a mosque. Comparable examples not currently acknowledged by our courts are: forcing Christian employers to hire homosexuals, and forcing prolife protesters to pay fines to abortionists.
But what about the state religions which most of the 13 original colonies used to have, where laws forced citizens to attend, and tithe to, the denomination supported by the state government? They remained for a little while after the First Amendment was created which simply forbade the federal Congress from taking sides with any state against other states, in favoring a denomination. But after our nation observed how well the federal policy worked, all the states adopted the First Amendment into their own constitutions.
Indeed, state religions have little if anything in the Bible to recommend them. Not even Moses' law physically punished anybody for not worshiping God. King Uzziah was punished with leprosy for holding an incense censor in the temple, which violated God's separation of church authority from state authority. King Saul lost his kingdom for the same reason, for sacrificing to God himself rather than waiting for the priest to do it.
A level playing field for ideas: the ideal political environment for Christianity, because Christianity, alone among the world's religions and non-religions, is a religion of reason and persuasion.
Because America is a predominantly Christian nation, Freedom of Speech has rubbed off even on nonbelievers living here. Other religions based in other nations use our freedom of speech to send their missionaries here, because we have made it safe for them, at the same time that our missionaries to their countries are persecuted and slaughtered. Once here, they learn from Christians how to present a reasoned defense of their faith. Christians should regard this as an opportunity: they are stepping out into the arena of ideas.
But when their equivalent of "missionaries" go into hostile regions, they go armed. They may copy some of the reasonable qualities of the Christians with whom they associate, but they cannot become completely reasonable until they become Christians.
No other religion or non-religion even places such a high value on being reasonable.
The Bible is the only Scripture whose laws are alleged to be righteous, not just because God will enforce them and God SAYS they are righteous, but because their fairness is self-evident to men, Deuteronomy 4:8.
God was not content to impose His laws upon Israel by force, but would not proceed as their God until every last Israelite had given their informed consent to submit themselves to the government proposed by God. Exodus 19:8.
God, who wrote the Bible, is the only God alleged to be so reasonable, that He pleads with us for the opportunity to reason with us! Isaiah 1:18.
Allah does not condescend to reason with man.
Hindus seek to become one with Brahma, but they do not imagine Brahma Itself (as opposed to one of the human "avatars" who has by his own virtue managed, without help, to become "one" with Brahma) has the interest or even capacity to reach down to fallen, "unrealized" man, and manifest Himself, through words communicated directly from God to man.
Secular humanists do not even believe anything is objectively "true", much less that anything beyond man has the capacity to communicate anything intelligible.
"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow...." Isaiah 1:18.
4. Though Christian reasonableness is miles ahead of the world, it is still miles behind God's vision for us.
The second purpose of this article is to encourage Christians to return to our heritage of reason. Just because the world calls itself the reasonable side of its dispute with God, and its debaters the "intellectuals" in the debate, and God has taught us to be wary of these labels because Satan has misused them, 1 Corinthians 1:20, that does not change the fact that intellect and reason are gifts of God, 1 Corinthians 12:8.
But we have let the world talk us out of some of our heritage. What we still have still puts us miles ahead of nonbelievers, but we were given much more than we utilize.
For example, we have divided into hundreds of denominations, even though 1 Corinthians 1 ridicules Christians for thinking of splitting up into just four denominations! Why do we split up? Because we fail in the mission God gave us of reasoning with one another. God's model of how all the churches in a city can agree is found in Acts 15: the Council of Jerusalem. Although the Bible speaks of only one "church" in Jerusalem, the church had gained 7,000 members in just two days, not counting everyone else, so they had to meet "house to house", in different buildings, just like we do today. But in what sense were they one church? In the sense that when they had a dispute, they sent elected representatives ("chosen men" in the KJV) to arrive at a resolution to which all could agree. They disputed with each other face to face, where they could respond to each other, unlike today where we articulate what is wrong with Christians not present, in our own buildings, insulated from their scrutiny, crippled in our vision of becoming "of one mind", 2 Corinthians 13:11, Philippians 2:2, 1 Peter 3:8.
Another custom we have today contrary to our Biblical heritage is church services which allow no scrutiny of what is said, so that the only way permitted for a Christian to take a stand against any error in what is said, is to "vote with his feet": to go off and find, or start, another church or denomination. That is not God's way! 1 Corinthians 14 describes a church service format in which Christians reason with one another, and are free to correct one another. God permits us, no, instructs us, to "vote with our words" so that we have no need to "vote with our feet". In fact, where words are free, the sides to a dispute not only have no incentive to leave in order to take their stand, because the most effective way to stand is to remain where they can speak against, and actually resolve, error.
But we blanch at the thought of all that debate, don't we? Why? "Iron sharpeneth iron", Proverbs 27:17, but we don't really enjoy being sharpened, do we? Of course not. Because we have too much of the world in us. We don't relish being corrected any more than they do. We can empathize with their hatred of us for "judging" them, by pondering how much we hate being criticized by each other.
But scrutiny is God's way for us to become strong, and united. Actually it isn't entirely alien to us, since our forefathers built America on the principle. By the way, the sermons of those days were scrutinized not only by the congregation, but were published in newspapers where they received further scrutiny. While we have fallen away from that, we still allow free speech outside church, and we have learned to live with the sharpening that results, and in fact would be horrified at any serious threat to our free speech. In fact, even secular meetings conducted by Robert's Rules of Order (Roberts was a Christian) invite varying degrees of scrutiny, far more than church services. And pastors have learned to discuss their differences during their conventions, although they don't set aside enough time to become unanimous on very much.
So the distance between where we are, and God's best for us, is not beyond reach. Let us be encouraged, to walk confidently towards God's goal.
This web site is part of Uncle Ed.'s search for truth. God didn't make any man able to find the truth by himself. Proverbs 15:22 says only in a "multitude of counsellors" are purposes established. And counsel can come from anybody: 2 Chronicles 35:20-24 says God can speak even through your generation's representative of Antichrist! (Isaiah 30 for perspective.)
So if you see errors here, and you don't warn poor Uncle Ed.,, their continued presence here will be your fault! (Ezekiel 3:18-20) (If you don't want your email address posted when we post your comments or criticism, SAY SO!)
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