Blogalogue

Blogalogue


Jim Wallis: Let’s Agree to Disagree

posted by nsymmonds

The problem with using the Bible as the basis for running a society is that it would always be somebody’s interpretation of the Bible, and a worst case scenario is that it might be your interpretation, Mr. Klinghoffer.
I too have read and studied the Bible all of my life, and I just can’t recognize the Bible in so much of what you have said in our “dialogue.” I really work at finding common ground with people across the political spectrum on moral issues that transcend ideology and politics. But we have been unable to find much common ground in this dialogue. I still find many of the things you have said absolutely astonishing.


I still can’t get over your contention that most of what the Bible says about the poor don’t apply to America because our poor people are so well off here. I replied that most Christian clergy and Jewish rabbis that I know would find that statement incredulous, but got no direct reply from you. In your latest post you say, in an equally unbelievable way, that wealth is the most consistent test of whether a society is righteous in God’s eyes. I read the Hebrew prophets in a totally different way–that the best test of a nation’s righteousness is how it treats the poorest and most vulnerable. That is always how God judges a society. Read Isaiah, Amos, and Micah.
Then you say that war is just a “tool of statecraft.” Really? The Hebrew Scriptures warn against militarism–”not trusting in horses and chariots”–and Jesus calls we Christians to be peacemakers and love our enemies. In fact, you note in your book Christians who believe that:

Quakers, Amish, and Mennonites, among others, can point to the teachings not only of Jesus himself but of ancient and medieval sages – Tertullian, Origen, Francis of Assisi, Menno Simons, down to a twentieth-century figure like Thomas Merton.

It’s interesting that “Jesus himself” and the earliest church fathers were all opposed to war. So, what happened? You say, quite correctly, “With the conversion of the Emperor Constantine (324 C.E.), all that changed.” Indeed, it did. And you then cite such esteemed theologians as Oliver Cromwell and Gen. George S. Patton. When you say in your latest post that war is merely the normal tool of statecraft, does that mean all wars? Every time a nation decides to go to war as an expression of its statecraft is justifiable? What about when one nation with Christians and Jews decides to go to war with another nation with Christians and Jews? Are both nations justified? Is there any religious critique or discrimination possible here? Let me guess, you support all the wars America has fought. I could never get you to tell me what you think about the war in Iraq.
I could go on, issue after issue, but I don’t think that would be productive. We just disagree, profoundly, on what biblical imperatives suggest about society and politics. I am very glad that America has a separation of church and state and that people who would prefer a more theocratic vision of society (as I interpret you to prefer) don’t get to run things they way they would like. We both have to convince our fellow citizens that what we believe is best for the common good. That’s a good thing and I welcome that debate. Thanks for this one.



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Steven Kippel

posted June 27, 2008 at 6:31 pm


For all the times I criticized David for his personal attacks, now it’s time to aim one at Rev. Wallis here.
It’s a shame. I was hoping a real dialog could have taken place. Unfortunately David refused to even acknowledge that a dialog was in fact supposed to be taking place and now Jim has fallen into this quarreling trap himself.
Speaking of war, I think the Bible has something to offer here. James 4:1 “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?”



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J

posted June 28, 2008 at 11:17 am


Let’s have some real discussions. How many people have died over religion? A lot. Wake up. Religion is a step away from reality and truth. It is like studying a picture of a rock to learn more about the rock! This post may not make it because some will view it as not fitting the “Rules of Conduct”. Well shame on whoever edits this post. Let’s have the difficult discussions. We can no longer bury our heads as to what religion has done to this country and our world. Disucssing who god would vote for is like discussing who Fly Spaghetti Monster would vote for. The name of this sites makes in own case that the Flying Spaghetti Monster and God both exist….”Belief”net. Sorry, I’m not buying it and it is time to stand up and take action. Religion hurts people and societies. Get brave, change your “rules of conduct” and let everyone stand up for what they know and stop letting what they “believe” run the world.



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Corey Nathan

posted June 28, 2008 at 1:06 pm


J – Just to give your concerns some credence and perhaps speaking for myself, I’m willing to engage with an intelligent atheist (or cynical agnostic?) about his/her views. I’ve found the work of scholars such as Bertrand Russell to be quite compelling and challenging. However, those of the more contemporary Richard Dawkins are on much less sturdy ground. It appears, at least on the surface, you’re falling into some of the same name-calling traps that he has, receiving the deserved critique of many of his colleagues in atheist scholarship. Just one point to sum up my initial objection: if you’re judging an entire “belief” system only by its abuses, you can be sure you haven’t understood it enough to be taken seriously.



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Jontemplar

posted June 28, 2008 at 1:55 pm


It has been a long time since I posted anything on this site. But I would recommend that everyone understand what is happening around you. The number of NILF has increased by 10 million since 2000. The number of people qualifying for NAFS has also increased 10 million. This is the state of our nation and how poverty and lack of jobs are ignored by the fictitious unemployment rate. The national debt has has nearly doubled in 8 years and we are still swatting at flies in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is what Christians have brought about through the electoral process. This is the face of Christianity the world sees as America’s values. I was on Beliefnet way back when people praised Bush and his Christianity and America and her God given right and support to spread Democracy by any means because the ends justify any means. Not how I read the Bible, not how God speaks to me.
Select Caseload and go to page 14.
cdss.ca.gov/cdssweb/PG1424.htm
usda.gov look up nafs or food stamps
bls.gov/cps/home.htm#pnilf



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Joseph

posted June 28, 2008 at 5:18 pm


Oliver Cromwell for President!!!!



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K

posted June 28, 2008 at 8:41 pm


Mr. Klinghofer’s logic is severely flawed. He argues on one hand that the wealth of a nation is based on its moral character. Then he argues that even America’s poor are wealthy. That would seem to lead to the conclusion that America is a highly moral nation, wouldn’t it? So what do you do with the millions upon millions of abortions in this picture, Mr. Klinghofer? I agree that abortion is a morally heinous act, but with your reasoning, why aren’t we all living under bridges?



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W.J. Oltai

posted June 28, 2008 at 10:38 pm


Ladies and Gentlemen:
The question to ask here is not whether or not God would vote Republican or Democrat, but why educated people would use the Bible or any other religious source for reference when a serious matter, like governing a nation, is the topic of discussion. God has voted already; He [or She] voted for their uniqueness and privacy. Due to its complexity and grandeur, it is reasonable to assume that a uniquely unimaginable Force has created the universe without making any comment or sending any messages that could be proven whatsoever. Dr. Richard Dawkins would readily disband his newly formed association of atheists, if he could only realise that both believers and atheists have fallen into the same trap; one cannot prove the existence of God while the other cannot disclaim it on the same grounds. Emotion is a wonderful component of human nature. Rational thinking is also a great component. Man’s best bet is to cheris and apply both at the right time. History attests to it that, when man is in an emotional state, he can create religious concepts that belong in an imaginary world where proof, verification or empirical evidence are not required. However, in a real world like ours only rational thinking can provide real answers to real problems but never to all problems. The inescapable premise of our existence is that we can only live at each other’s expense because that is the inherent nature of our world order, whis is diversity, and diversity demands that we must have all kinds, shades and degrees. In the meantime, while man is waiting for a truly discernable message from that Unique Force, his best chance is to develope forward-thinking individuals, who would establish a truly new society that WILL BE MORE FAIR TO THE AVERAGE MAN.



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Corey Nathan

posted June 28, 2008 at 11:11 pm


W. J., I’m trying to follow your line of thinking but seem to be getting lost along the way. I see that you start with the possibility that there was an originator of the universe, albeit an inactive one. I discern that you certainly have a problem with “believers” as well as possibly atheists. Should I take it that you view all things theological as creative “religious concepts that belong in an imaginary world”? Should I also take it that you elevate rational thought as the only way to provide real answers? So, if those two points are accurate, you see that the conclusion I would make is that no theology is based on rational thinking, there isn’t such thing as a rational theist/deist, etc. If I’m reading your post inaccurately or unfairly, please provide some guidance. I’m just having trouble finding the rationality in what I’m reading.
You see, I’m not sure if you realize this; but your wish for “forward thinking individuals, who would establish a truly new society that will be more fair to the average man” is a great piece of empirical evidence for the existence and activity of God. Where do you think a wish like that comes from? It comes from your inherent sense of idealism, a built-in sense of right and wrong. The irony is that you probably look around at a bunch of folks who say they believe in God that aren’t acting in line with what you believe is “right”. But where does that belief come from? Where does that inherent sense come from? There was once a great philosopher who said that any statement that can’t hold up to the test of empiricism, that isn’t scientifically verifiable should be cast into the flames, never to be considered again. The only problem with that statement is that it didn’t stand up to its own test. You see the problem there, right? Your sense of right and wrong, as the philosophers assertion, comes from a built-in moral law, which points directly to a moral law giver.
BTW, you might also want to rethink whether it’s prudent to eliminate the possiblity of allowing for empirical, rational evidence supporting the existence of God.



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J

posted June 29, 2008 at 11:48 am


I do think Dawkins has put it quite simply. Until people stop living in a world of delusion, things will not get better. With all the different religions, it is like everyone trying to play the same game (life) with multiple sets of rules. Imagine driving to work each day on a street system where the drivers were all following different rules. Not a perfect analogy, but I hope you get the point.
You all are making this way too hard and complex.
As far as elections go…wow, I’m not sure how this discussion got started. Next thing you know we’ll be wondering which team a god would pick to win the superbowl. I’m not a gambling man, but I’d be listening to Zeus for sports picks.



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Corey Nathan

posted June 29, 2008 at 1:01 pm


You’re making a fair point, J, about trying to play the same game with different sets of rules. But I don’t think your assumptions can be taken for granted. By exhorting people to “stop living in a world of delusion,” you’re explicitly saying the idea of God is merely a delusion, not to mention that the idea of God is at the root of all of our troubles. You’re also inherently saying that all religions, worldviews, philosophies, etc. are fundamentally the same and only superficially different… except, of course, yours.
Two points in order. I repeat the ironic evidence you actually make for the existence of a moral law giver. You clearly have an inherent sense of right and wrong. You have a built-in sense of a moral law. How do you think that got there?
Point two is that if you look more closely at the world’s religions and philosophies, I would say that they are fundamentally different and only superficially the same. But to drive home the point, I assume you’d get on the bus with Dawkins and do away with all religions, yes? You realize we’d had tremendous 20th Century examples of that, don’t you? Stalinist Russia was one – and I don’t think 50 million murdered is a strong piece of evidence of things getting better in a society that does away with religion (or attempts to do so). Hitler’s Germany might be another example of the same principle. Let’s not forget about these and other illustrations that are the necessary manifestations of what you’re implying.
I welcome your thoughts.



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eastcoastlady

posted June 30, 2008 at 1:12 pm


Jim Wallis – just wanted to take a small aside and say thank you for having the respect not to call my Torah “The Old Testament”, but rather, “The Hebrew Scriptures”. I appreciate that.



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B-W

posted June 30, 2008 at 6:18 pm


Was this “blogalogue” always intended to be this short? Was each participator supposed to do a set number of posts? I get the feeling that this was cut short. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. This seems to have been something of a disaster, if actual dialogue was the intention. Neither Wallis (who I generally support) nor Klinghoffer (who I had no knowledge of before this event) really seemed to make that much effort to hear and respond to the other in anything like a charitable way. If we cannot assume charitable motives even in those with whom we disagree, we can never have dialogue. We’ll just keep shouting at each other.
Better luck next time?



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Robbie

posted June 30, 2008 at 8:31 pm


The problem with using the Bible as the basis for running a society is that it would always be somebody’s interpretation of the Bible, and a worst case scenario is that it might be your interpretation, Mr. Klinghoffer.
Klinghoffer makes it clear that yes, “somebody” does have to interpret the Bible. But Klinghoffer, an Orthodox Jew, does not believe that any old “somebody” can pick up the Bible and start interpreting it any old way. For Orthodox Jews, God not only revealed the Written Torah at Mt. Sinai, but God also revealed an Oral Torah, which has since been written down in the Talmud and other rabbinical texts.
I still can’t get over your contention that most of what the Bible says about the poor don’t apply to America because our poor people are so well off here.
Every biblical principle about helping the poor does still apply. The Bible never states that it is up to the government to take money from citizens who have money in order to give that money to citizens who have less money. A 10% tax is equal to slavery, according to an aforementioned biblical passage. Government handouts are not the way the Bible would have us “care” for the poor. The Bible tells ALL of us to give 10% of our earnings to charity, no matter how “poor” we feel. In America it is relatively easy to stay out of poverty: (1)don’t get pregnant before you’re married; (2)stay out of jail; (3)get a job, ANY job, and stick with it.
In your latest post you say, in an equally unbelievable way, that wealth is the most consistent test of whether a society is righteous in God’s eyes. I read the Hebrew prophets in a totally different way–that the best test of a nation’s righteousness is how it treats the poorest and most vulnerable. That is always how God judges a society.
Did the prophets believe that the government bears the primary responsibility for helping the poorest and most vulnerable? The prophet Samuel warns against big government (1 Samuel 8), equating a ten percent tax with slavery!
It’s interesting that “Jesus himself” and the earliest church fathers were all opposed to war.
This is true, but Paul states, in Romans 12, that the government does bear the sword in order to execute wrath on those who do evil. So it seems clear that Paul wasn’t opposed to the use of violent force by the government. And he tells Christians to obey that government. Jesus, Paul, the Apostles, and other church fathers never had to worry about going to war because Christians had no political power when these people were preaching and teaching. Perhaps Christians weren’t meant to have political power. Perhaps the Amish, the Mennonites, the Quakers, and other pacifists do have the proper understanding of true Christian teachings regarding war. Perhaps all Christians should be pacifists, but war can still be a tool of statecraft. Paul may have been a pacifist, but he certainly understood and did not oppose the fact that the government must bear the sword.
When you say in your latest post that war is merely the normal tool of statecraft, does that mean all wars? Every time a nation decides to go to war as an expression of its statecraft is justifiable?
Surely the Reverend Wallis must be familiar with the Christian concept of a Just War. A war must have certain just causes, and a war must be fought by certain means in order to be considered a Just War, according to Christian tradition.
What about when one nation with Christians and Jews decides to go to war with another nation with Christians and Jews? Are both nations justified? Is there any religious critique or discrimination possible here?
Again, has the Reverend Wallis never heard of the idea of the Just War from Christian tradition?



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Andy

posted July 1, 2008 at 10:05 am


Is it just me, or does Jim sound like he’s getting a bit cranky? It’s probably a good idea that the blogalogue ends here–things could get genuinely nasty if it goes on. I will say this, though, that for better or worse, Jim is showing that just because you’re liberal/progressive/whatever-he-is, you’re not necessarily always 100% “nice”.



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JEM

posted July 1, 2008 at 11:33 am


“Surely the Reverend Wallis must be familiar with the Christian concept of a Just War.”
By the standards set by the Just War theory, not many of the wars we have fought in this country would fit. People have thrown that term out a lot, but it seems like they don’t know what it means. Just for a reminder, the criteria are:
Just cause – The reason for going to war needs to be just and can therefore be recapturing things taken or punishing people who have done wrong.
Comparative justice – While there may be rights and wrongs on all sides of a conflict, to override the presumption against the use of force, the injustice suffered by one party must significantly outweigh that suffered by the other.
Legitimate authority – Only duly constituted public authorities may wage war.
Right intention – Force may be used only in a truly just cause and solely for that purpose—correcting a suffered wrong is considered a right intention, while material gain or maintaining economies is not.
Probability of success – Arms may not be used in a futile cause or in a case where disproportionate measures are required to achieve success.
Last resort – Force may be used only after all peaceful and viable alternatives have been seriously tried and exhausted or are clearly not practical.
Proportionality – The anticipated benefits of waging a war must be proportionate to its expected evils or harms.



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Scott

posted July 1, 2008 at 1:20 pm


With all due respect to Mr. Klinghoffer, I must say that you have been severely outclasses in every regard during this debate. Please do our country a favor and never run for political office – you would end up making George W. Bush look like a saint.
Jim, once again, you have shown why you are truly the prophetic voive of this country at a time we so desperately need one. Continue on with the great work, my friend…



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Corey Keplinger

posted July 1, 2008 at 7:08 pm


Is GOD conservative or a liberal? I would say that God the Father is conservative. He said thou shall not kill, which means he is against abortion. God the son (Jesus) is liberal. He believed in giving to the poor. In the new testament he told a rich man to give away all his posessions. In the old he said just 10%. The Holy Spirit is an independant. OH what about the death penalty and war? Thou shall not kill! What about 9/11? Turn the other cheek!



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Eric

posted July 2, 2008 at 3:22 pm


Corey Keplinger wrote: “Is GOD conservative or a liberal? I would say that God the Father is conservative. He said thou shall not kill, which means he is against abortion. God the son (Jesus) is liberal. He believed in giving to the poor. In the new testament he told a rich man to give away all his posessions. In the old he said just 10%. The Holy Spirit is an independant. OH what about the death penalty and war? Thou shall not kill! What about 9/11? Turn the other cheek!”
Do you really think God, if there really is one, wastes His/Her time with things so trivial as political ideologies? He did say “thou shall not kill”, but how can you say that he is against abortion when tens of millions of miscarriages happen every year! He is the biggest source of abortions – it’s God’s way of keepin’ the world from becoming overpopulated, even more so than it already is! Hellaluyah! God is good and understanding, that’s why he made the Chinese government mandate only 1 child per family. He left his land (the U.S) free from such evil behavior because he knows his children here have much higher levels of morality. Look at some of the big Ivy league schools: God put his thoughts into the mind’s of others to help create such prestigious ( and mighty fine,I might add) schools like Harvard. God’s purpose was originally to have Harvard teach and educate preists (those of the highest moral character).
Over time, God wanted “His Word ” to reach a greater audience and thus started expanding the Harvard curriculum. People (crazy ones usually) tried to take the programs to far. The folks at Harvard eventually opened an Indian College to educate Indians. God didn’t like the clown paint they wore and thought they were overly cruel to animals; not to mention they believed in too many – more than one – Gods. He also didn’t like the fact that the Indians were lazy and didn’t want to do anything (e.g. – build) on the land. God made people to move around and be busy, not just sit their with their families, that’s why He created us, in his image, with two legs! Eventually, Harvard, through God’s will, god rid of the college, and, over time, the real American people got rid of most of the Indians from the continental United States.
Poverty is God’s way of getting rid of people while helping the “well to do” (and morally superior) make money. When people are poor, they often have to work crummy jobs and resort to crime to make ends meet. God put these people here for a reason. The book of Duterotomy was designed to help slave owners teach their private property that they would be rewarded in the after life; to forget about this one and, do as told. Take a look at the world now, many have abandoned the one true Word. There are now so many religions, that God couldn’t pick Jesus Christ out of a line-up! What’s going on people!
God invented war so that other country’s radical fundamentalists could be eliminated by ours. God didn’t make us a super power for no reason at all, did he? If the crazys in the middle east win the war, then their God wins. That just doesn’t seem possible though. I hear that Muslims get 70 virgins when they die fightin’ for God; the abstinence-only program taught at my school teaches monogamy and no sex until marriage. Why would a real God have 70 virgins waiting for someone that died in battle? Is it because he knows that 69 other people will soon join him? What could one morally, God-fearing person do with 69 virgins…it just doesn’t make sense unless God believes in religious loopholes.
Whoever the next president is (It should be the Christian and not the Muslim) he needs to stop sending our jobs to other countries where people are paid less to do the same. I also think the next president should be considerate and help me out with gas money from time to time. The prices have gotten so high, that I eat at McDonalds every Wednesday ( I pick two items from the dollar menu) in order to have enough money for gas to make it to and from work until I get paid on Friday. At least President Bush – a good Christian – gave us back some of our money to pay for gas with his stimulus plan. This shows that he has our best intentions in his thoughts.
Poverty and morality are connected; the poor are people with less morals while the rich stand on a moral pedestal that resides somewhere in the stratosphere next to God and His angels.



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lil_dickens_2000

posted July 3, 2008 at 2:13 am


I like to think “GOD” OR YOUR HIGHER POWER IS A GOOD LOVING ONE AND WOULD EMPTY HIS POCKETS TO A STRANGER WHO NEEDED MONEY! OR AT LEAST MAKE HIM A SANDWICH. i DON’T THINK “MY GOD” IS ONE TO BE FEARED HE WALLOWS IN LOVE FOR HUMANITY AND LOVES US ALL AND FORGIVES US OUR SINS IF WE SINCERELY ASK.



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lil_dickens_2000

posted July 3, 2008 at 2:23 am


WELL I HOPE TO GOD THAT YOU CONTINUE TO LIVE ON YOUR HIGH HORSE AND DON’T CLEAN UP AFTER IT. GOD HATES THE POOR?, IS THIS WHY ALL CATHOLIC, AND ALL OTHER CHURCHES PROVIDE FOOD, MONEY FOR SMUD AN ELECTRIC COMPANY,P.G.AND E.
tHIS WHY ST VINCENT DE PAUL GIVES POOR! PEOPLE THINGS THEY NEED SUCH ASBEDS WHICH I HAVE RECEIVED TWICE! YOU TELL MR AM I GOING TO HELL BECAUSE I QUALIFIED FOR WELFARE IN MY LIFE.
WHO ARE YOU TRYING TO FOOL!!!



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Phil

posted July 4, 2008 at 11:00 am


These comments show why we need formal religions and are also symptoms that the religious institutions are failing to convince. The problem is that none of us has all the truth and must depend on the collected revelation and truth discovered by many generations including our own. This is only possible with a formal hierarchal religion with power only to collectively learn, teach, and convince over many generations. Jim Wallis is correct that individually our interpretation of the Bible is prejudiced by our limited perspective but that is not an excuse to ignore it. The Bible certainly should be an anchor along with all that can be learned by God’s created order. Since we cannot understand everything individually just as we must significantly trust in a medical or legal system we will either suffer from our own delusion of universal wisdom or have the humility to put considerable trust in a church that has a high regard for universal truth. My advice is to trust a church that has a long term respect for the wisdom and teaching of the Bible, history, the created order, and most important teaching is centered on the love and grace of Jesus Christ. At least subject yourself or any present day guru to the discipline of comparison with the teaching of this church. There are many official church writings and encyclicals on the nature of man, war, poverty, and how we can relate to each other beneficially politically and economically. They teach among other things that wealth creation is certainly a significant part of the solution to poverty. Defense of the poor and a threatened individual or community is certainly appropriate even if it requires force including Darfur and our America. Contorting our religious understanding to support populist or conservative ideologies may sound good to a supportive constituency but it will be a failure long term increasing spiritual and physical impoverishment. God can use individualists and populists like Jim Wallis but they do not possess universal wisdom so be cautious.



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Eric Seel

posted July 4, 2008 at 10:57 pm


There is no political solution. The only government we need to be aware of is the Government of God through the Apostles and Prophets. Paul saind in Eph. that the foundation of the Church is founded on the Apostles and Prophets with Christ being the Chief Cornerstone. We have fallen away from that government for a very long time. The last true apostle may have died 100 years after Christ. Now we have many teachers who appeal to the itching ears of the flesh. The Apostle Paul also said that a Good soldier does not entangle himself in the affairs of this world. The governments of this world are being lead by the angels of darkness for the outcome of the coming of the Anti-Christ. We have no place in being affiliated with the governments.
We are now heading into the real of the New World Order. But at the same time we are about to see a move of God that will not be what Believers are expecting. God is now restoring His Government of Apostles and Prophets and God will pour out His grace on all men with great power.
Prophet Eric Seel



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Roger

posted July 5, 2008 at 10:28 am


God is still in control, no matter what we do.



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R. J. D.

posted July 8, 2008 at 3:49 am


What makes them think that GOD would (giggle) vote?



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Lisa Venable

posted July 17, 2008 at 9:28 pm


How Would God Vote? Which God? The God of fear or the God of Love? I see the God of fear rampant in the Old Testament from writers who feared God’s wrath, creating laws and rules to control human behavior through punishment. The God of Love emanates from the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament who gave humanity a way out of fear and a path to salvation. Jesus advised us to choose acceptance, compassion and forgiveness. To choose the path of love.
I’ll bet the God of the twenty-first century wants us to step out of our own fear and ego mentality and into love and heart centered guidance. Listening deeply to the loving spirit of God rather than the deception of fear will create far better public policy. For leaders who genuinely listen to love’s guidance do not judge others and always seek the highest good for all.
This God of Love would rally for the candidate with a healthy grasp of compassion and the desire to bring people together. The kind of person that seeks to find balance through collaboration and relationship building. Someone who attempts to understand what people need rather than judge them through punitive policies will better serve society. Our world needs those willing to build up, not destroy.
I think if God were President, we would not even have debates filled with judgmental attacks on people’s viewpoints. We would be invited to listen to one another, go beyond our left and right philosophical minds and seek real solutions beyond our imaginations. As the great poet Rumi once said; “Out beyond ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there.” I think I’ll vote for God.



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leigh

posted July 18, 2008 at 4:22 am


Jesus was against war? Really?Care to outline this from scripture? Loving enemies and turning the other cheek governments defending their territory/citizens ?!



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AnAngelofMidnite

posted August 8, 2008 at 1:46 pm


God is the Alpha and the Omega BUT……the beginning may not be within the grasp of our knowledge. All our understanding is afixed to the BIBLE and, of course, the book is awsome. Yet, it is composed by man and, for the most part, if after the fact. I truly believe in Jesus Christ, a triune God, who presented and sacrificed himself for the sins of humanity. Still, the Old Testament and Revelations are beautifully inspired mythphors.
Our knowledege of this universe is in its infancy. In all probability, our Earth is a mere speck in this universe which is a part of an infinate number of other universes. The fact is: we are not geocentric and we should set aside our egocentricity.
We are not alone and we are not the first in God’s design.



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Deadly Furby

posted August 8, 2008 at 6:10 pm


“The problem with using the Bible as the basis for running a society is that it would always be somebody’s interpretation of the Bible”
Society’s already experienced being under the control of the Bible and its believers. It was called The Dark Ages. If you want a country controlled by religion, move to Iran.



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Paul Maurice Martin

posted September 9, 2008 at 11:38 am


Having only just become aware of your debate, a couple thoughts that may still be relevant:
I’ve questioned JW’s idea of a great awakening. It seems to me that the evidence on humanity’s state of consciousness here and around the world is ambiguous, in line with Tolle’s views.
“The problem with using the Bible as the basis for running a society is that it would always be somebody’s interpretation of the Bible…”
This speaks directly to what I see as a key general point in biblical discussion: everyone’s view of scripture is interpretive. No one knows “the gospel truth” about the gospels, so to speak. The New Testament itself is a faith document written by members of the early Christian church decades after Jesus’ death and represents a theologically interpretive view of Jesus, not historiography.



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Anonymous

posted September 9, 2008 at 4:23 pm


I WOULD LIKE 2 KNOW!!! WHO”" U,,,,R,,,,2,,TELL ME OR ANYBODY,IN THIS WOLD,}}}}{{{{WHAT FAITH,, WE NEED TO BELIEVE IN, THERE IS ONLY 1 FAITH EVER 1 NEED 2KNOW, 1GOD AND 1JUSES THE SON OF GOD,, NOW ABOUT THE DEBATES REMEMBER WHEN THAT 1-KID DID NOT LIKE SAYING THE SCHOOL NATIONAL-AN-THOM ,,SOME TOLD HIM TO GO SITE IN THE HALL HE,&HIS FATHER DID NOT LIKE THAT,, SO GUSS WHO!!! WINS!!!,,, {{{THE BOY}}}} WHO WOUND NOT SAY I PLAUGE-ALEGENT 2 THE FLAG WELL, SORRY ABOUT THE SPEELING UP THERE,BUT U SEE WHAT I,M TRYING IT TOLK 1 TO TAKE IT ALL OUT,,,,,,,,,,,BOOM GONE GOD IS NOT IN R SCHOOL,S ANY MORE,,,U DON,T SEE JESUS PIC. IN THE HALS OF ANY OTHER PLACE TOO,THE PEOPLE, THAT COME 2 THE U S A ,,,,,,,,,,,,, SHOULD LIVE WITH R-GOD,,,,,,,,,,, THERE DON;T BELIEVE IN THE HIGH OF ALL HIGH, GOD,,,,, Y SHOULD WE STOP’ ARE GOOD HEAVENIE BELIEVE,S BECASE OF THEM I SAY NO,,,,,,,,,,,,, EVER 1 THEM PEOPLE IN LANSING WHO TOKE THE WORD OF GOD OUT OF R MOTH,S AND STATS,,, THAY CAME TO US TO BE FREE,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, AND NOW YOU SHOULD LOOK BACK ON ALL THAT THAY STOLED FROM US AND FROM GOD AND HIS SON JESUS ARE LORD,, GIVE US BACK R GOD&HIS SON JESUS,THE OUTER TOWNER,S SHOULD LIVE WITH R BELIEVE,S JUST AS WE LET THEM WITH THERE,, GIVE IT ALL BACK TO THE LORD&HIS FATHER ,,,,,, FROM NO NAME,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,.



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Rob

posted October 23, 2008 at 12:31 am


This is just a quick comment regarding the post entitled “Deadly Furby.” There are great differences between people doing very unbiblical and unChristlike things in the name of religion (as in the Dark Ages) and people treating others in a manner that reflects the teachings of Jesus Christ. We ought to pay careful attention to the contrast. You are correct in expressing grave concerns about powerful people doing things in the name of Christ or Christianity that in no way reflect Him. Not-so-careful examination of the Dark Ages that you mention easily finds a contrast between the way those leaders treated people and the actions that Jesus did and called His followers to do. Please do not judge the person of Jesus by the actions of people who are in no way like Him. There are examples of people who identify themselves as “Christians” who actually do reflect the nature and teaching of Jesus. If you are to be offended by Christianity, be sure that it is really Christianity that you are judging and not a misused title by people who in no way reflect the word to which they so flippantly identify themselves.



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JohnMuirElCid

posted September 3, 2009 at 1:05 pm


Interesting comments. Thank you everyone.
One bottom line for me is what is the difference between Christianity and any barbarian tribe? Modern education, and the scientific method most of all, provides a distinguishing characteristic to maintain a basis for non-violent society and civilization. In John 6, it is written that Jesus said that, God will teach, and those who listen and learn, will arrive in Jesus.
Jim Wallis responds to Klinghoffer on the point about war and Contstantine with an acknowledgement. I think the argument in this case is that modern civilization has developed primarily through modern education, not war. Christians have benefited most from Greek philosophers and scientists, not their wars. Thanks to commercial technology, a university system, and government functioning with a democratic constitution, the US entered WWII.
Militarism of Cold War “Containment policy” substituted military extremism for Christian imperatives of love and truth. John 4, God wants to be worshiped in spirit and truth, and Matthew 23, kindness, justice, and faithfulness, along with the more famous formulations.
Corporate and free market ideologues advocate economic ideas that favor their abuse of power. Both militarists and economic perpetrators disregard Christ’s predominant teachings, and have no reason to change because of this imbalance of power. The rest of us are in a better position to read the signs, and interpret the messages. In spite of the perpetrators’ power, messages from the likes of non-profits like Greenpeace, Oxfam, Human Rights Watch, and Friends of the Earth, and agencies like the IPCC, UNEP, and the World Bank, give us information about the real world beyond advertisements and propaganda.
The US lost VietNam, and has spent hundreds of billions in Iraq, killed and maimed tens and hundreds of thousands there, before the Wall St. crash cost trillions more. The perpetrators’ version is Swiss cheese, so to speak, and full of its inconsistencies. Nevertheless, economic power holds important cards and maintains their infrastructure to continue their depredations. The rest of us have alternative choices. Jesus and other ethical teachers in the Church-based system of modern education give us the clear direction of peaceful, just, sustainable social and environmental, and strong co-existence.



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JohnMuirElCid

posted September 4, 2009 at 10:47 am


Interesting thread. I think Rob’s point about distinguishing Christianity and Christians by doctrines and in reference to the principles of Christ is important.
This is particularly so because Jesus did say many things which are subject to interpretation. Significantly, their material impact over time has actually lead to modern civilization characterized by the availability of democratic constitutional principles and modern education. Recognizing the fundamental role of these thoughts and behaviors I have found to be critical in distinguishing the living role of Christ’s principles and in conceiving entities such as his living body and the Holy Spirit.
For example, the parable of the talents, about the need for investing cash, creates the basis for the doctrines of modern capitalism. Clearly, however, modern education gives us the basis to weigh the balance of his teachings and recognize the preponderance of compassionate values, and the vision of education. John 6, “God will teach, who will listen and learn, arrives in me/Jesus.”
This brings me to my response to the idea that Constantine used war. Klinghoffer seems to use this historical reality to justify righteous war. If I understand Wallis correctly, he implies wryly that the fact is correct, but that he disagrees with the implications.
More explicitly, Christianity had arrived at Constantine’s mother, as I recall, all without war. Constantine’s vision occurred as he was engaging in the tumult of Roman government to battle his former ally Maxentius. Upon victory and installment as emperor, Constantine promoted a vision of tolerance, but essentially continuing as a pagan until his deathbed.
Contrasting war with three interrelated achievements of Christianity, modern education, cooperative businesses, and psychotherapy, we can contrast the behavior of the rich investors in cases like the S & L crisis, Enron, and the recent Subprime Mortgage Derivatives crisis and see that their capitalist visions are not grounded in a compassionate vision like the Good Samaritan or the healing of neighbors through love. Modern education, cooperative business, and psychotherapy are all examples of behaviors that underlie all effective military organization in a constitutional democracy built on Christ’s teachings of love.
Until hawks learn to turn their vision as perhaps Charles Colson the ex-Watergate turned minister might be seen, the atrocious results such as the loss in Vietnam, the hundreds of billions in expenses, corporate irreponsibility, all on top of the loss of life need to be cited. Doves can remain grounded in the ultimate economic expressions that can be created, and nurtured to levels of sufficient power to sway the national tone. Germany and Japan were both humbled after WWII. What will it take to humble militarist hawks? Activist doves can learn the answer, I think.



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