Thursday, September 29, 2005


What follows is a dialog between myself (aka chamblee 54, free lance human being) and a church in Murietta CA (aka FIDE-O). Since the exchange was split up among four posts, with numerous comments, on two separate blogs, I thought I would assemble it here in one piece. Of course, over a billion Muslims think we are both wrong.
I have edited the posts and comments, removing the portions that are not relevant to this conversation.
As a result, the number of comments shown at the end of the post may not match the number of comments that I have shown. If you want to see the rest of the posts/comments, you know how to find them.
This exchange centers on two issues:
Is the bible the word of god?
Did I say that FIDE-O was mean?

As for the first question, that is in the eye of the beholder. The only way you can accept that premise is through cannot be proven or disproven.
My contention is that it is not. This does not mean that the bible is without value, for it is full of lessons, poetry, history, and insights into the nature of god and man. These lessons are best learned when the book is read with a grain of salt, and thought given to some of the possible interpretations. You are not doing the bible any favors by making extravagant claims of inerrancy, and arguments along those lines distract from benefits to be derived.
When you claim the bible as the book of god, you are putting faith in a text...written by man...that you should be putting in god. This is the crux of my statement that labeling the bible as the word of god is a violation of the first commandment.
A few years ago, I found a good book with a bad title..."How to Choose a Guru". There were a few paragraphs on page 116, which speak to this issue:
Every major religion has its scriptures. These basic writings are always taken very seriously, and for good reason, for they usually contain the spiritual guidelines and instructions of a Perfect Master or a World Teacher. Yet it almost invariably happens that, over the years after the death of the Teacher,his scriptures are in some way tampered with—they are edited, or parts are deleted or added or elaborated on by the "learned men" who come after the Master. The resulting hodgepodge often makes it difficult if not impossible to tell what that Perfect Man actually did say and do. Myth and legend become gradually intertwined with fact. And since such a Person is in fact the most unusual and unique of all individuals, it is hard to tell in retrospect what reasonably might have happened in his life, because almost anything could have happened.
Besides these problems, students of esoteric
wisdom know that all spiritual writings have their "season," a fixed time during which they carry the charge and inspiration of the Master. His messages have their special baraka, or energy, which makes the teachings vital for a certain period.
On the face of it, all scriptures from the great traditions continue to offer their tuneless truths—the intellectual meaning of their words is instructive and meaningful at any time in history—but after a period of generations or in some cases centuries, they no longer carry the esoteric "punch" which helps a seeker to find and follow the spiritual path. Given enough time, even the greatest teachings become simply rallying points for dogmatic, perpetual-motion
religious movements, devoid of the power they once had actually to enliven the spirit of the aspirant.
There is no substitute for a fresh restatement of the Truth by a contemporary, fully enlightened Guide. A scholar may prefer the classics, but a hungry man needs fresh, substantial food. Profound as they may be, according to one of the greatest Masters the scriptures of the past compare to the writings of a present-day Perfect Master just about the way that dust compares to honey.
Of course, the erudite bloggistas at FIDE-O had answers to many of these points, which leads to the next point; did Chamblee54 say that FIDE-O was mean?
The answer is no, but maybe I should have. You can read the back and forth below and decide for yourself. The offending passage was in "How it started", and is underlined.
Of course, if I were to say FIDE-O was mean, I would have company.
Before I get to the retelling of the story, I have a side note about Rick Warren and synchronicity.
Now, as you may have figured out by now, I am not a jesus worshipper. I also do not keep up with the latest superstars of jesus worship, and until a few weeks ago had never heard of Rick Warren.
I have also been unemployed. When I got laid off in April, one of the things I did to save money was to quit buying magazines. When I was, briefly, employed at the start of this month, one of my indulgences was to buy a copy of New Yorker magazine. The issue I bought had a feature on Rick Warren, which I read. The man has a good press agent. The article mentioned a lady in Gwinnett County who used one of Mr. Warren's books to get a serious criminal to turn himself in.
It is by coincidence that I know who Rick Warren is. That is one reason I included the comment about him. And, it should be noted, the writer of that comment felt that FIDE-O was mean.
On with the controversy. Enjoy!
1- Rick Chapman, How to Choose a Guru ( New York: Harper & row,1973), pp. 116-117.
A note about spell check.
The suggested spelling for blog is blob.
The suggested spelling for inerrancy is ignorance.
That is more truth than poetry.
I once worked with a Muslim named John Ali.
He sold Mean Bean Pies.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Not Stuck on Stupid
I often get angry about the indulgence of Christian publishers in the "dumbing down" our generation. Either that or they think Christians are already dumb. May I remind you of . . .
Eight Fallacies About Bible Readers
1. Contemporary Bible readers have low intellectual and linguistic abilities.#2. The Bible is read mainly by people unfamiliar with it.#3. Bible readers cannot handle theological and technical terminology.#4. Figurative language is beyond the grasp of Bible readers.#5. Modern readers require short sentences.#6. Bible readers cannot be educated beyond their present level of ability.#7. The Bible is more difficult for modern readers than for the original readers.#8. Readers, not authors, determine meaning.[We] expect the same standards from Bible readers that we expect of readers in other contexts of life, to lend at least the same authority to the biblical authors and their texts that we expect of our own utterances, and to let the writers of the Bible (an ultimately God) say what they said. This is tantamount to saying that the antidote to the fallacies I have outlined . . . is to educate and expect English readers to understand what they read and hear preached.
posted by Jason Robertson at 10:47 am

chamblee54 said...
The first commandment says " Thou shalt have no other gods before me". This would seem to prohibit worshipping a text as " The word of god".
1:00 PM
Tony Langdon said...
Chamblee54 - The "Bible" is not what we worship. That's a common misrepresentation of those of us who take the Bible on it's own claims. The God who has revealed Himself through His word, of which the Bible is the only offered source, has instructed us to value Scripture as holy writ. The Bible is the only means He used to preserve His holy and altogether perfect word."All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Tim 3:16What alternative do you suggest we take?
2:56 PM

Church Dog said...
I guess this makes sense then...Wed Sep 21, 7:21 AM ETSpeedy but spiritual: British cleric unveils '100-Minute Bible' Business folk are used to reading executive summaries of important documents, and now would-be Christians are to have the same privilege, in the form of a chopped-down Bible that can be read in under two hours.A Church of England vicar was on Wednesday unveiling his self-styled "100-Minute Bible", an ultra-condensed edition of the Christian holy book which claims to neatly summarise every teaching from the Creation to the Revelation.The Reverend Michael Hinton was launching his work at Canterbury Cathedral in southern England, the headquarters of the Anglican Church.Publishers the 100-Minute Press say the book has been written for those who want to know more about Christianity but who do not have the time to read the original in full."This is a book for adults and has been written in a style to encourage readers to keep turning the pages, but without resorting to any literary gimmicks," said Len Budd from the publishing firm."As the bible itself, the 100-Minute Bible should be a bestseller."
5:02 PM
chamblee54 said...
1- In order to post my comment earlier today, I was required to register with blogger, and , in effect, start a blog. I had been considering a blog for a while, and had been gathering material to use . Now, the fateful first step has been taken.2- My great uncle once had a dog named phaedoux.3- I seem to have upset at least one person with my contention that labeling the bible "the word of god" might not be a very good idea. While I would not want to tell someone what to believe, I do think the concept of god in a book should be examined with a bit of skepticism. Too many people accept the notion of the bible as the word of god without any question, when in fact this is a highly debateable idea. The only way you can accept this is to through faith...and is faith in a book consistent with the first commandment? I , for one, do not think so.
7:50 PM

One Salient Oversight said...
Chamblee,Have you seen the film "The Big Lebowski?" If so then let me warn you that you "are entering a world of pain"!Before any of the Fideos begin to bite you, let me try to address some of the issues.You are essentially linking the idea that the Bible as the Word of God as being synonymous with "God in a book", and that "faith in a book" is idolatry.I'll try and simplify what "Sola Scriptura" is on about:1 - God communicates with us.2 - He communicates with us whenever we read the Bible.3 - God speaks to us in scripture in a mainly objective sense, rather than purely subjective.4 - The Holy Spirit works in the heart of the reader as the Bible is read.5 - Apart from the Bible, the Holy Spirit (and thus God the father) does not communicate to us.6 - When the Bible is not read, God and the Holy Spirit are not communicating.7 - The Bible only becomes the Word of God when it is read.Yes it is obviously through faith that we accept the Bible as God's word - but our faith is not in a book, but upon God and what he says through it.I remember an old Bible that I had once. It had ripped pages and it was missing the front cover. I realised that I would not use it any more so I threw it in the bin and bought another one. My throwing away this old Bible is not some form of blasphemy, as though somehow I was throwing God away.
11:13 PM
One Salient Oversight said...
"God and the Holy Spirit are not communicating"Burn me for that one!!I meant to say God the Father and God the Holy Spirit!
11:15 PM
unhingedsquare† said...
*Gets the stake, wood and asks someone else to bring the matches.
4:48 AM
Tony Langdon said...
1. Archeologists continue to unearth verification of Biblical accounts.2. The historical accuracy and internal consistency from a collection of writings spanning 3 continents, 1400 years, by 40 different authors ranging from simple sheperds to kings, continue to amaze its disectors.3. The fulfilled prophesy, of which over 300 were fulfilled by Jesus alone, are evidence of supernatural authorship.4. The authority that this Book speaks with on all matters of the human experience have demanded the respect of the greatest philosophers and thinkers. 5. All events must eventually be "known" through some form of record. Prior to the invention of audio/video technology, the written and oral accounts were the only means available. Therefore , although faith does play a role in the Christian's acceptance of the Bible as the revelation of God, it is not a "leap of faith". God has given us good reason to, "take Him at His word"
9:14 AM

Scott Hill said...
Chamblee, when I read your first post I thought. That's funny this guy is kidding. Then I realized you weren't kidding, but it was still funny. Funny like punching someone in the face and watching them lie on the ground crying and asking for mercy.The one thing I have to give you credit for is this. You have definitly come up with something I have never heard before. That is why I love blogging so much.
2:08 PM

Scott Hill said...
Chamblee exactly what would you call the bible? And if you were going to label yourself what camp would you put yourself in. Please don't say "my own camp" because someone out there agrees with you.
2:10 PM
chamblee54 said...
1-I am amused by the name of your town. There is a town near here called Marietta, and some of the old timers say that Muretta. I had seen Murietta CA before, and am pleased to meet people who live there.2-I call the bible....the bible. It is a book written, edited, translated, and (endlessly) interpreted by man. While it may be divinely inspired, and is of some value, it is NOT the word of god. God does not write books.3-I am reluctant to put a label on myself. I am a human being, which means that god lives in my heart. I was raised in the southern baptist tradition, and have had flirtations with Buddhism and "moonieism", in addition to a lot of reading and thinking. I am appalled at much of what I see of bible/jesus worship, and feel that the negativity I have experienced there far outweighs any benefits I could derive. Spell check suggested "moonbeams" as a replacement for "moonieism".
6:51 PM

Jason Robertson said...
Chamblee, you need to research how many times the Bible refers to itself as the Word of God (or an equivalent name).You say that it is not the word of God. Either you are right or the Bible is right. Which do you think is right?
8:22 PM
chamblee54 said...
This brings us back to faith. Muslims make this claim for the Quaran. Other traditions have their sacred texts, although I not sure that the concept of "word of god" really applies.Also, just because a book says " i am the word of god" ....does that make it so? Anybody can make that claim. While I am not a bible scholar (duh), I would be curious as to the exact references the bible makes to being "the word of god". I imagine they would be open to interpretation.....what books to they apply to, is the apocrypha included, is it old or new testament. Also, we have to depend on the scholars who interpret these texts, since I do not speak ancient greek or hebrew ,and translation mischief is always a possibility. Also, since these texts were probably copied by scribes, probably several times before the council of nicea, it is possible that the scribes made some errors.Archeological and historic evidence are open to interpretation. Even if it does corroborate the texts in question, does this indicate that a text is "the word of god""The historical accuracy and internal consistency from a collection of writings spanning 3 continents, 1400 years, by 40 different authors ranging from simple shepherds to kings, continue to amaze its dissectors....The fulfilled prophesy, of which over 300 were fulfilled by Jesus alone, are evidence of supernatural authorship."This could also be caused by clever editing. Since we do not have access to the original texts, we just have to trust what we have been givenThis brings us back to faith
9:24 PM

Jason Robertson said...
chamblee has stated on his own blog that we have gotten "personal and mean" with him. Really? Anyway, chamblee's unbelief and attacks against the authority of God's Word deserves a post. And I'm sure chamblee will get offended . . . but I could think of nothing I would rather do that to defend the Word of God.
1:21 PM

Scott Hill said...
Mean! I can't believe I was accused of being mean. Well there is a first time for everything. Especially since I am the nice pastor.
1:45 PM
chamblee54 said...
I was not specifically referring to the fide-o crowd as "personal and mean"....although, "Gets the stake, wood and asks someone else to bring the matches." does come awfull close. I have lived around jesus worshippers a long time, and yes, they do get personal and mean when you disagree with them. Ad hominem attacks are the order of the day, and messengers are killed routinely.I also note that you have not really answered any of my objections to labelling the bible "the word of god". All I see is faith in a book written by man.Hey , I still like the name of your town.
3:05 PM
Thursday, September 22, 2005
How it started
It all started when I saw a post I wanted to reply to.The post was a commentary on bible readers, and I decided to add the following comment:The first commandment says, " Thou shalt have no other gods before me". This would seem to prohibit worshipping a text as " The word of god".To add this comment, I had to register with Blogger, and, in effect, start a blog. This is something I had been considering for a while, and had been saving material to be used.This also had the effect of stirring up some bible worshippers. I suppose this was to be expected. Bible/jesus worship is a religion based on converting the non-believer to their way of thinking, and debate is a part of this process. When you say anything that a bjw does not agree with, you can expect a reply. You can also expect the reply to get personal and mean, and to create ill will for jesus.I may further develop my ideas about god, jesus, the bible, and life after death….the four subjects…in future posts. I have thought that if I put my thoughts into hard copy prose that it would force me to think about what I do "believe"…and even if belief is the correct word to use for these ideas.Then again, I may not. At this point, "Chamblee54" is a tabula rasa; a newborn critter with the potential to do anything it wants. There is so much to write about, so many pictures to post, and so many things to learn and to teach. I would hate to get bogged down in semantic quarrels about god.I will close with two thoughts about semantic quarrels about god. First, much of what I see in disagreements about religion is semantic in nature. Clearly, what I mean when I say god is different from what others mean when they say the same word. Could this be a consequence of declaring a text…i.e. the bible…to be "the word of god"? Words and languages are inventions of man, and when you label a text the word of god you tend to see god in terms of that text.Second, these rhetoric filled discussions cause much ill will between people. Is it possible that a discussion about god, which causes ill will, is a violation of the third commandment…"Thou shalt not take the name of the lord thy god in vain; for the lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain".

posted by chamblee54 at 1:46 PM

FIDE-O said...
Chamblee, I want to point out that nobody got "personal and mean" at Fide-O when you shared your unbelief in the Bible as God's Word. Be careful not to paint a broad brush when speaking of Christians or "Jesus worshippers" as you call us. We have strongly held convictions, as do you. We have a right and a desire to share these beliefs with others, as do you. You replied to our post and we appreciate that. We replied to your reply and you cry "foul" . . . debate, debate. Come on now, is that very open-minded. But if you are open to discussions about matters as serious as eternity then we are game. Hope to see you again at Fide-O.
4:13 PM
Monday, September 26, 2005

The Wish List
As I go into the second week of blogging, the momentum is not what it was at first.I was making a list of things to discuss last week, and I was dismayed to see how many of them are about religion. While that little"discussion"with the fide-o crowd was lots of fun … and I did get the last word … there is so much more to life than arcane discussions about god. Besides, an argument about god is a violation of the third commandment.
posted by chamblee54 at 1:46 p.m.
Scott Hill said...
We get several hundred hits a day. I assume you get 3 or 4. Do you really think you are going to get the last word?By the way at no point in the Word of God discussion did we get mean. But you should know we are not beyond that.
1:05 AM
Monday, September 26, 2005

The Dawgs have been busy, so Fide-o hasn’t blog spotted in a few weeks. Something had to give so we chose to write great blog commentary and forego blogspotting until we could catch up. We have gotten some great comments and links in the last few weeks and would like to recognize those who felt us worthy of clicking the link button.So many people have linked to ""15 Things I Learned At Saddleback and the follow up posts that it was hard to keep up. Thanks to all those who linked and blogged on this article.Special thanks to Tim Challies who has one of the best blogs out there. He spent lots of bandwidth defending us and himself against Rick Warren's self professed defender of all things Saddleback, Richard Abanes. In case you didn't know, Richard wrote a book, and has a blog, and a website and everything. In case you forgot, just find one of his comments and he will be glad to remind you how famous he is.Once again some of us at Fide-O have been accused of being mean I personally have decided that if I am going to receive this accusation then I may start actually being mean. In our defense Chamblee, you did post a heretical comment on a site that has a Rottwieler for a mascot. Did you not see the spiked collar logo?.posted by Scott Hill at 1:35 AM
chamblee54 said...
AsI mentioned before, I was not specifically referring to Fide-0 when I said ."You can also expect the reply to get personal and mean, and to create ill will for jesus."I also note that you are focused on the "mean" part. You may want to consider the last part of the sentence, about creating ill will for jesus.
5:57 AM
rabanes said...
SCOTT: Special thanks to Tim Challies who has one of the best blogs out there. RA: true. he has become a sort of long-distance, internet friend of mine. we disagree on a number of issues, but he is a good guy.SCOTT: He spent lots of bandwidth defending us and himself against Rick Warren's self professed defender of all things Saddleback, Richard Abanes. RA: 1. Actually, in teh link you provided, Challies, from what I can see spends little time "defending" you. He basically posted your views, just as he posted his own views, and my viees. And he certainly hasn't needed to defned himself against me. The "Tim" you see posted so often at the link you gave is Tim Wirth. 2. I am not the "defender of all things Saddleback." In fact, I have posted my own criticisms and concerns about Warren and disagreements with him. I am, what you would call, balanced. Oh . . . nevermind. :-SCOTT: In case you forgot, just find one of his comments and he will be glad to remind you how famous he is.
RA: And this, I believe is what you would call ad hominem. Besides, you may not ealize this, but the Internet has countless websites of authors, musicians, journalists, publicists, and business whose website includes what is normally called a bio or resume for interested people. Odd that suddenly a very common thing has been exalted to a sign of worldliness, pride, and carnality. Odd, very odd indeed. Oh, you migt as well throw inn a few snide remarks about the pictures up on my website, too. Of course, again, we have countless websites where pictures of performers and others also appear. It's part of what makes the Internet fun, enlightening, informative, and . . . oh never mind again.SCOTT: Once again some of us at Fide-O have been accused of being mean. I personally have decided that if I am going to receive this accusation then I may start actually being mean.RA: Good for you. At least you're being honest now. And the above points you make are a great beginning. :-)But seriously, I really see no reason why you and others need to be so, well, in truth, rude about this whole Rick Warren thing. I would hope that you do not treat Mormons this way, or agnostics, or occultists, or any one else you may be witnessing to or tryingg to correct doctrinally. I offer for your consideration, 2 Tim 2:25-26 as well as the oft-repeated verse about speaking the truth in love.And the truth, my friend, is that you and others do tend to be terrifically harsh and very mocking in your tone, accusations, and attitude regarding Warren. I am not sure why, but I am indeed quote sure that it is not Christ-honoring or biblical.I undertsand mild sarcasm here or there. I even think some of the Warren parody news stories on the internet are quite amusing. I even resort to mild parody, sarcasm and humor myself. But all of that is quite different from what you and man others are displaying. My friend, honor Christ. Lighten up. Be kind. I am on Christ's side in this battle we are all facing against the world. My savior and Lord is Jesus, God the Son, second person of the Trinity, who died for me on the cross, and by whose shed blood I have been redeemed. Thank God, by grace alone through faith alone in Him, my eternal destiny will be in the presence of my Creator, glorifying and serving him for eternity, having been rescued from the penalty of hell, justified by him, apart from anything I could have done.peace,r. Abanes
7:52 AM
Scott Hill said...
Richard, you read way more into that than was ever intended. Don't assume intentions, just go by what they wrote. It will make you comments a lot shorter. And are you Chamblee? Because your response to his comment seemed to come out of left field. I have never been mean about Rick Warren. You confuse my sarcasm with cruelty.
1:04 PM
chamblee54 said...
I barely know who Rick Warren is, and would not be concerned about what you say about him.While I can understand how you might have gotten the impression that I said you were mean, that was not the case. Of course, after seeing some more of the postings of the "nice pastor", I am beginning to wonder.Also, is "nice pastor" an oxymoron?My comment about you creating ill will for jesus has not been answered. I know I do not feel goodwill towards jesus after this exchange. I would say I think less of jesus after all this, but then, after my experience with jesus and jesus worshippers, I wonder it is possible for me to be more alienated than i already am.One more is suggesting that people should obey the first commandment heretical?
2:45 PM
Scott Hill said...
The "nice pastor" comment is an inside joke. As far as "ill will towards Jesus" I think I will just do a blog post on that. It will make for good reading so stay tuned.Also Chamlee, please keep coming to Fide-o. You are giving us some great ideas for blogs entries.And last, but not least, One more is suggesting that people should obey the first commandment heretical?If that was you actual suggestion then I would have never in a million years called you heretical. What you suggested was the bible is NOT the Word of God and that to call it that is to worship the book. Don't try and paint you comment in a different light or play dumb. You knew what you were doing when you posted your original commentThe fact that now you all of the sudden want to cry foul doesn't diminish your early condemnation about the bible.
3:07 PM
chamblee54 said...
When you label the bible the word of god you are worshipping it. YOu can deny that, but i know what i say to may to, i say to mah to.I am not condemning the bible. There are many wise and beautiful passages. I quote the bible in my blog, which does not sound like condemnation.However, there is a difference between a book about god and "the word of god". Angry arguments about "inerrancy" do not help, and only serve to alienate those who don't scream as loud. And , since 99% of the people who make these claims are jesus worshippers, it does not speak well of jesus.
6:25 PM
Scott Hill said...
Chamblee thanks for making my point.
8:09 PM


Blogger CSB said...

Let me agree with you. The guys at Fide-o are mean.

10:58 AM  
Blogger chamblee54 said...

Thank you Rev. It is a struck dog that howls.

12:34 PM  

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