March 18, 2005

Christian Witnessing

Back in high school, the local Methodist Church was the focus for a fair amount of my socialization. In other words, I spent a fair amount of time there, and am quite conversant with the theology of various Christian subgroups.

During college, I attempted to continue that, and joined Campus Crusade for Christ. I became more comfortable with group prayer, and memorized some Bible passages. It became clearer and clearer that my beliefs and the group's beliefs were not the same, and I dropped out after a year or two. Part of the problem was, I felt the pure obnoxiousness of some of the proselytizing was significantly more likely to drive off unbelievers than help them to become Christian. Much later, Steven den Beste helped me understand why things worked like that, in an essay in which he mentions that the Mormon mission year might help convert some people, but more importantly helps the missionary understand and strengthen his belief.

Someone has posted a couple of comments under the name Probity Rules. No email tag, no web site. [If I've done something to my comments to make this not possible, please let me know]. The first time it happened, I thought it was kind of odd, googled the name [in case it was the name of a blog], and didn't get anywhere.

My first post was a mention of a humorous web essay describing how to destroy the earth, for those over-ambitious evil overlords [basically, taking over the earth, or even wiping out all life on earth, is significantly easier than destroying the planet completely]. The essay also has a listing of methods that won't destroy the earth, and specifically mentions the Biblical Armageddon - not only is the earth not destroyed, but a remnant of the human population lives, so it's not even close. The last method mentioned is 2 words : Gay Marriage. This made me chuckle, since it is ridiculous compared to the scholarly nature of the rest of the article.

But Probity Rules manages to take it seriously, saying:

Although gay marriage might cause a Biblical Armageddon: Leviticus 18:22, 28. Well not quite. But land vomiting up people won't be a pretty sight either.
For those of us who don't have the Bible completely memorized, The Bible Gateway seems to be a reasonable site, including 7 slightly different English translations. Leviticus 18 is mostly getting the laws about who a man cannot have sex with, and includes his mother, cousin, niece, daughter-in-law, brother's wife, wife's sister, and neighbor's wife. It includes some more general prohibitions: don't have sex with an animal, don't have sex with a woman while she's menstruating, and don't sacrifice your child to Molech. And it includes Leviticus 18:22: "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable." [New International Version].

One might note other passages in Leviticus: Chapter 19: 26 Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it. Do not practice divination or sorcery. 27 Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard. 28 Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD . Leviticus chapter 20: 9 If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother, and his blood will be on his own head. 10 If a man commits adultery with another man's wife-with the wife of his neighbor-both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death. ... 13 If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

My second post links to Corsair the Rational Pirate, a proclaimed atheist. He often points out people making public religious statements.

Probity Rules' comment is this:

Here is a small excerpt of what a former Jew said about the differing axioms: "God's message to men does not make sense to those who are dying, but his message is his power for those of us who are being rescued from death. God already said, 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and frustrate the intelligence of the intelligent.' Where is the intelligent man, the scholar, the philosopher of this era? Hasn't God made the world's wisdom into nonsense? By God's wisdom, those who are dying cannot find life through intelligence. Rather, this is how God decided to do it: what seems to be nonsense to the dying is what will bring them life if they simply believe that it is true. Jews thought miracles would bring life. The Greeks thought it to be wisdom. But here is life - the crucifixion of Christ. This trips up the Jews and it sounds like pure nonsense to the rest of the world. But for us -- the living, Jews or otherwise -- it is God's power and wisdom. This is the reason: God's foolishness is more intelligent than humanity's intelligence and his weakness is stronger than our strength."

The quote comes from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 1, verse 18-25, although I don't know which translation. For example, the King James version:

18For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

This is getting too long, and I want to think about it some more. Continued in second post.

Posted by Owlish at March 18, 2005 07:49 AM | TrackBack
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