Faith and Religion Discussions: Truth and Baptism?

     Lately I’ve been thinking; why is it that so many people let religion get the better of faith? Why is it that certain religious groups think that they have the monopoly on God? What makes THEM more right than others? Why is it that some pastors, preachers, reverends and ministers feel the need to manufacture facts to support their own conclusions? Two cases in point: 

     Early this year, I decided to attend church services at the church where my father serves as a board member. Pastor Tim McGraw, a man whose knowledge and counsel I had come to value, was giving a message that day entitled “Living In The Days of Daniel”. During this message (commonly referred to as a “sermon”), he brought up the then-prevalent news item regarding Charlie Sheen. Pastor McGraw mentioned that a great number (the number he stated was somewhere in the hundreds of thousands) of people follow Charlie Sheen on Twitter. He went on to state that the people that follow Sheen on Twitter share and espouse the SAME moral (or IMmoral) values that Sheen does. Later that day, I got to thinking about this statement, and became rather disgusted that McGraw had engaged in a blatant politically-natured tactic: manufacturing facts to support his own conclusions.

     Now, there were a lot of solid, bible-based references to support his assertion that we are indeed living in times where traditional values and morality are on a MAJOR decline. He cannot however, even hope to qualify the statement he made regarding Charlie Sheen’s Twitter readers. Now, I’m not discounting the entire sermon (bath water and the baby) based upon this introduction of falsehood, simply because I can INDEPENDENTLY support it’s conclusions based upon current events and social mores. What I AM saying, if I’m saying anything, is that I should NOT have to carry a mental BS filter with me when I attend church.

     Late last year, I ran into two Latter Day Saints elders down in the parking lot of our apartment complex. We got to talking, and they asked if I’d ever been baptised. I answered them in the affirmative, telling them that I was baptised in the Lutheran faith as a small child, and then as a reaffirmation of my faith, was baptised as an adult by a pastor in the Assemblies of God churches. A few minutes later, one of them asked me that, if I was that enthusiastic and serious about my faith, why don’t I get baptised? (What he meant and explained was why don’t I get baptised in the MORMON church.) What, so when I was baptised, I wasn’t baptised? So again I ask; WHY do the Mormons think THEY are more right, have the ONLY authority to baptise, and have more a monopoly on God than anyone ELSE? If you ask me, that’s pretty damned ARROGANT.

     Let me conclude by saying this: I believe in God. I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe in the Holy Spirit. Yes, I believe in the Trinity. I also believe, as C.S. Lewis did, that there may be more than one road that leads to the same destination, and that no one road is decidedly better for everyone than another. Each of us must find our own way to salvation, IN our own way and time. I also believe that the truth can be found all around us. The KEY is learning how to separate the “wheat from the chaff”, the truth from the cruft.


7 comments on “Faith and Religion Discussions: Truth and Baptism?

  1. truelibertarian says:

    To be frank, hope without reason is useless. I can personally Hope for things to happen to me, which is simply an unexpressed yet apparent desire. But I prefer to base my “hope” from actual predictions based on probability and my understanding of the world. For example, if I had a job interview, I would hope I got the job. That hope can exist independent of faith. And I could also have faith I got the job without hoping for it. They’re not mutually inclusive at all.

    And I think you missed my point. The question, “How are we here if there is no God?” is based upon a stipulation that we’re here. Otherwise, it’s a moot point. The unproven assumption I was referring to is that we need a creator to be here. Which is a fallacious assumption.

    And by the way, family values may have died a bit here, but they’re still going strong all over the world:

    Besides, I reject the notion that the nuclear family is necessary.

    And as for the quote, I have any number of which to choose from. But I pick “Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.” -Bertrand Russell

    • I love this! Suffice it to say that we’re going to have to “agree to disagree” on some things, but we can also “disagree agreeably” on some, and there ARE those that I am totally with ya on.

      Could we be here without the intervention of a “creator” of some shape or form? That depends on the school of thought that you subscribe to, and who you ask. Personally, I would say no. Everything I have seen in this world (and in my lifetime, I’ve seen a lot!), everything I understand about our existence, and every fiber of my being tells me that there is a God. There are things that happen which science has no explanation for. Try as one might, no one will ever convince me otherwise. Besides, if I live my life along this track and with the values that it (is supposed to!) espouse(s), then at the end of my life, what have I lost? If I’m right, then I have the guarantee of a life after death, and one even more awesome than this! If you’re right, then I’ve lost nothing…

      The “nuclear family” as you refer to it is NOT absolutely necessary, however it can definitely be beneficial in furthering solid values.

      (Inserted afterthought!) Truelibertarian, keep in mind that I am a U.S. Army veteran, who served during Just Cause, Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. I’ve been in the unenviable position of facing my own mortality. I can tell you for a fact that when you’re faced with the possibility of dying in the service of your country, you start believing in God really quick. (Or at least entertaining the possibility…)

      I found the Bertrand Russell quote VERY applicable and true, and I would even hazard to say that, along those lines, the grounds for my belief (my personal belief) are good ones, as I see them. 😀

      • truelibertarian says:

        As you’ve expressed cogent thoughts, I can disagree agreeably.

        However, your perspective is phenomenologist. You’re basing a rule off nothing more than assumptions, and you already know quantum mechanics works outside the laws of physics.

        And as long as you admit that your belief is emotional rather than rational, belief can be perfectly logically respectable. You’re not saying you can rationally explain how he exists, you’re saying that you absolutely feel as if he does, and nobody can discount personal feelings. But nobody can validate them either.

        Pascal’s Wager has been proven worthless. Since there is no real belief, as it’s based upon probability, calculation, and taking a chance, it doesn’t really count.

        I don’t accept the term “there are no atheists in a foxhole” to be valid. The vast majority of all people are religious, and the majority of non-religious people are simply not religious, not atheist.

  2. truelibertarian says:

    Before I get into your post, I must ask you: if you acknowledge that there’s no evidence that one religion is more “true” than another, why are you a Christian, and why do you believe in Jesus? I’m genuinely curious.

    As for your post, I take issue with your usage of “traditional morality.” I find it to be a meaningless term. If you mean the patriarchal ideals, then I’d have to say that I’m glad it’s declining. If by “decline” you mean the global liberalization of ethical systems, then I’d have to say I think it’s an improvement.

    • One’s “evidence” is another’s bunk. It’s all subjective, depending on which direction you’re approaching it from. I am a “believer”, in the sense that I don’t agree with (and quite honestly find distasteful!) a lot of the things that modern-day “Christians” do in the name of God. (Oh yes, I know. We could get into that whole “things done in God’s name over the past millenia” discussion, but that’s for another post! 😀 ) I believe in God, Christ, the Trinity and salvation because it makes sense to me. When I look at things like the Big Bang and Alan Guth’s theory of hyper-inflation, it serves to show me HOW God did what he did in creating this vast expanse and everything in it. I don’t hold to the belief that the Earth is factually only 6k years old. Bull. Geological evidence contradicts that soundly. (KT boundary fossil finds and all….)

      I believe the exact words that I used were “traditional values and morality”. So are you telling me that you’re actually glad to see things like rampant gang activity? I may write a separate blog entry regarding the disintegration of traditional family values and the home at some point, but suffice it to say that we have seen better days. In fact, I’m old enough to remember those days…

      • truelibertarian says:

        I don’t want to get into what religion has done to the world, because it’s been rehashed so many times, and I can tell you understand the implications.

        And by evidence, I mean factual evidence, not emotional evidence.

        Having read a substantial amount of philosophy about ontology and specifically whether or not god exists, I’ve learned a lot. One of the more shocking ideas I read that I’d never even considered before was that cause and effect is a purely human, subjective phenomenon. We observe the world, and we see certain things occurring, and then other events occurring directly afterward. But we invented the concept of cause and effect. The question, “How are we here if there is no god?” is a question based on a premise that is unproven.

        Take quantum mechanics for example. There’s a chance, however infinitesimal, that the next time you reach for the spacebar, your entire hand wil go through your computer. This may never have actually occurred, and it probably never will. But there’s a chance. That shows that the laws of physics as we understand them are no more than general observations that hold true most of the time.

        And yeah, I’m not happy about the gangs. But there has always been crime, and there always will be crime. I was referring to something more along the lines of this:

        • If you ask me what “factual evidence” there is that God exists, then I’d have to say….none. There are some things that must be taken on faith. (I have a feeling I know what’s coming in response to that…) If we don’t have faith, then what basis do we have for Hope? I don’t know about you, but I’d like to believe that there is still hope in this world…

          “How are we here if there is no God?” is a question based upon the premise that we are indeed here. If you were sitting right here in my office, I could definitely reach over and pat you on the shoulder or shake your hand. I’d say it’s safe to assume that we exist. Consider for a moment the premise in Physics that order cannot come from chaos, only the other way around. So…

          Granted there has always been crime, some even perpetrated by churches. (yep, it’s a sore spot with me. It’s not “people doing God’s will”, it’s people doing THEIR will in his name.) When looking at the types of crime, especially over the past 30 years or so, one gets a better idea of how the degradation of traditional family values and the changing household dynamic has impacted society.

          In closing, I’d like to throw a shout out to one of my favorite philosophic minds, Sir Francis Bacon, who once said: “A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, But depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion.” I rather think that it should be “…depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to faith.”

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