Bah humbug! Atheists celebrate anti-Christmas

THE American Atheists organization has posted anti-Christmas billboards in Memphis, Nashville, Milwaukee, St. Louis and Arkansas encouraging closeted atheists to shun the festive holiday season

Every Christmas now comes with the inevitable atheist war on Christmas. But Christmas is still coming. Billboards don’t cancel Christmas

The mean-spirited atheist act reminded one local in Milwaukee, Wisconsin of what happened when a town put up a nativity scene in front of it’s town hall.

An atheist group petitioned the town for their own display. The town board met and voted to let them put up their display.

Two days later the atheist’s display was stolen.

Someone put up a sign where the display was stating: “Thou shalt not steal.”

Someone else put a sign below it stating: “Says who?”

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89 thoughts on “Bah humbug! Atheists celebrate anti-Christmas

  1. Clever little shot at the end there. But it doesnt really carry much weight you know.

    Thou shalt not steal is an English Biblical equivalent version of a law that just has to have been in force in the Justice systems of every culture of the world. So let’s not get too carried away with it.

    I’m racking my brains trying to determine if there was anything mean-spirited about the atheists in this case wanting to put up their own display. Now if the Town Council had refused them, then a court case could readily have ensued, that would have likely tumbled the decision to have the Christian display in the first place. All to do with the principle of no special favours or privileges to be given by secular authorities to any religious group.

    Rian.

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    • Neither can I see the mean spirit in an atheist display. Many have suggested the separation of the religious festival, (including a joyous exchange of gifts) with the traditional Yuletide festivities, though they have long lost their links with Father Time, the returning of the sun in midwinter, etc.But perhaps it’s a ‘good thing’ that for so many people they remain joined?

      Meanness might account for the stealing of their display. As single or joint festivals, the message is gratitude and goodwill.

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  2. Sorry to be a humbug but having a Christian celebration on a Sun God festival and moving worship to the day that the Sun was worshipped was a huge victory for Constantine who wanted to blend Paganism and Christianity together to unite Rome under one religion. Giving presents originated from the emperors forcing the most despised of the citizens to bring offerings and gifts. Christmas tree being the pine tree was seen to have special qualities because during winter it would stay green, Pagans brought it into their house in winter to receive the blessings from this.

    There needs to be a revival where pagans influences in Christianity needs to be removed such as Christmas and worship on Sunday. Do what Jesus did not what the pagans did. Jesus said, that the gate is small and the road narrow to heaven, it will not easy but it needs to be done to move back towards the narrow road.

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    • Be that as it may Dom,

      I cannot imagine living in a society that does not celebrate Christmas. Even with all the pagan roots of this celebration, and despite all the commercialism, this is the time of the year where my thoughts and love for Jesus and others only intensify and deepen. Through all the busyness of this time, my heart is filled with love (for the most part anyway), and I know from where that love originates.

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      • In regards to specific time and or location “Bah humbug!”
        The is no place or time within this universe of any greater value .
        As for ceremonies and paraphernalia they all arise from way way back in time way past twenty thousand years.
        Developing and changing from a requirement to divide people .

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  3. THE SEASON FOR GRINCHES
    By Matt B. Redmond

    Is Christmas just for happy people? I think we have it backwards!

    Excitement and expectation colour the season but there is no hiding the fact that Christmas is difficult for many people. The story of Scrooge and The Grinch’s – ahem – problems with this season are no longer anecdotal. It is now par for the course. Maybe it always has been. Maybe the joy of the season has always been a thorn in the side of those who can scarcely imagine joy.

    For many, Christmas feels impossible to enjoy because it is clouded with the pain of heartbreak, loneliness and loss.

    I get it. I mean, it makes sense on the level of Christmas being a time in which there is a lot of heavily concentrated family time. The holidays can be tense in even the best of circumstances. Manoeuvring through the landmines of various personalities can be hard even if there is no cancer, divorce, or empty seat at the table. What makes it the most wonderful time of the year is also what makes it the most brutal time of the year. My own family has not been immune to this phenomenon.

    But allow me to push back against this idea a little. Gently. I think we have it all backwards. We have it sunk deep into our collective cultural consciousness that Christmas is for the happy people. You know, those with idyllic family situations enjoyed around stocking-strewn hearth dreams. Christmas is for healthy people who laugh easily, right? The successful and the beautiful, who live in suburban bliss, can easily enjoy the holidays. They are beaming after watching a Christmas classic curled up on the couch as a family in front of their big flat-screen TV. We live and act as if these are the people who should be enjoying Christmas.

    But this is backwards. Christmas – the great story of Jesus come in human form to rescue mankind from the consequences of rebellion – is for everyone, especially those who need a rescue. Jesus was born as a baby to know the pain and sympathise with our weaknesses. Jesus was made to be like us so that in His resurrection we can be made like Him; free from the fear of death and the pain of loss. Jesus’ first recorded worshippers were not of the beautiful class. They were poor, ugly shepherds, beat down by life and labour. They had been looked down on over many a nose.

    Jesus came for those who look in the mirror and see ugliness. Jesus came for daughters whose fathers never told them they were beautiful. Jesus came for those whose lives have been wrecked by cancer, and the thought of another Christmas seems like an impossible dream.

    Christmas is for those who would be nothing but lonely if not for social media. Christmas is for those whose marriages have careened against the retaining wall and are threatening to flip over the edge.

    Christmas is for the son whose father keeps giving him sporting gear when he wants art materials. Christmas is for smokers who cannot quit even in the face of a death sentence.

    Christmas is for prostitutes, adulterers, and porn stars who long for love in every wrong place.

    Christmas is for college students who are sitting in the midst of the family and already cannot wait to get out for another drink. Christmas is for those who traffic in failed dreams. Christmas is for those who have squandered the family name and fortune – they want “home” but cannot imagine a gracious reception. Christmas is for parents watching their children’s marriage fall into disarray.

    Christmas is really about God’s undeserved kindness for sinners: that Jesus opened the way for God’s complete forgiveness and for eternal life with Him. Because of all that Jesus Christ did on the cross, the manger becomes the most hopeful place in a universe darkened with hopelessness.

    In the irony of all ironies, the Christmas-time celebration of the coming of the Saviour of mankind is especially for those who will find it the hardest to enjoy. Christmas really is for those who hate it most.

    Challenge Good News Paper—375 December 2014

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    • Hi Mon,
      Well, I’m left more than a little befuddled. My good friend David, a Catholic convert has written for me a beautiful panegyric to the Virgin Mary. In a passage he composed, of devotion that would just about do justice to a poet or a saint, he had described to me the deepest blessings that one may gain if we pay adoration to Mary. He is just totally convinced about the truths that the Catholic Church has safeguarded in its Mariology.

      And then I think of our good mate Dom on this blog. There he is as a faithful follower of the Islamic religion. He shows considerable knowledge about what he is speaking about, and is just totally convinced about its truths; and I am always impressed by his sincerity and goodness.

      And now you have given me a similar article of devotion within the Evangelical tradition of Christianity. And you are firmly endorsing what this good lawyer is proclaiming. But he has no Virgin Mary. He has no Allah and no Prophet. He is expressing absolute conviction over what he is talking about.

      Do you see my problem in all this? Each group as exemplified by these three or four thoroughly good folk, each totally convinced of what he/she has found. Interesting. My own discoveries and convictions have taken another turn altogether, and I can share with none of them.
      Love, Rian.

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      • Hip-hip-hooray for diversity Rian!

        We are all on different paths; paths that we each believe point to the truth, and that is as it should be. Ultimately, death comes to all. Then we will know (for sure) whether we were on the right path.

        I have faith enough to believe that mine is the right path because what I have seen and heard and experienced was real, and a profound blessing to not only me, but to all who shared the experience of being in God’s presence with me. And no-one can ever take that certainty away from me.

        We can debate till the cows come home, but mine is not just head knowledge. No, on the contrary, I speak as a witness to the veracity of Jesus Christ’s resurrection power. He lives!

        Love, Mon.

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      • Hi Rian,

        A Hindu taxi driver I got a lift with once had his God sitting on his dashboard. I asked him why does he have that God there when his ancient scripture states there is only one God the creator. His reply was I know he is God, he looks after me. His reply was emotional rather than addressing his scripture.

        In your belief you need to take out emotions, it is misleading.What God wants does not change with time, God does not make errors and does not inspire people to make errors. You start on those premises.

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      • “Do you see my problem in all this? Each group as exemplified by these three or four thoroughly good folk, each totally convinced of what he/she has found. Interesting. My own discoveries and convictions have taken another turn altogether, and I can share with none of them.”

        There is no problem. The Bible says:

        “There is a way that seems right to a man but its way ends in death” Prov. 14:12.

        Which is why one needs to get past the personal conviction and emotional side of an issue and search for God’s take on any particular matter.

        And how about this one?

        “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9.

        These verses and other like it imply that we cannot, we dare not trust our feelings and convictions when these are in opposition to God’s word on a matter.

        What’s worse with Rian’s posting is he now laments that he finds other people’s feelings and personal convictions unreliable. How can other people’s feelings and convictions on any matter be any test of reliability when God says that without Him we can do nothing, our own feelings and convictions will betray us when they are in opposition to Him?

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      • hi davinci,
        Nah, I dont lament not being able to see through other people’s diversities. For me it just illustrates how we all differ, as Monica put it.

        Rian.

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  4. NATIVITY STABLE: MORE THAN A FABLE
    By David Limbaugh

    A virgin birth, angels and a bright star…
    It is a great story but surely Jesus never even existed?

    IT HAS become cliché to hear people say that the Bible is just a book of fables with nice moral lessons. Yet did you know there is more abundant and accurate manuscript evidence for the Bible’s New Testament than any other book from antiquity? Look it up.

    Moreover, the number of witnesses to Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection, as well as the nature of their testimony, is strong evidence of the reliability of the scriptural accounts. The New Testament mentions over 500 people saw Jesus alive on a single occasion (1 Corinthians 15:4), which rules out a mass hallucination. Corroborating irreligious sources like historians Tacitus and Josephus, Roman politician Pliny the Younger, Greek satirist Lucian, and Roman philosopher Celsus with archaeological evidence only strengthens this case.

    Okay, so maybe there is proof that Jesus was a real historical figure but surely He did not do all the miracles the Bible claims He did?

    Consider this, the New Testament writers had every temporal motive to deny Jesus’ resurrection occurred. Why would they fabricate and stand by a story that would lead to their being beaten, tortured and murdered?

    During Jesus’ life on earth, He fulfilled over 300 Old Testament prophecies, all written hundreds of years before his birth.

    Main prophesies included the fact that He was born of a virgin, in Bethlehem, in the line of Abraham and David; He was rejected by His own people; His hands, feet and side were pierced, but no bones were broken; and He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven.

    What about those who believe that Jesus was powerful but was still just an angel or a prophet?

    Jesus claimed to be able to forgive sins, He claimed to be God. At one point He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to God the Father except through Me. If you know Me, you will also know My Father…The one who has seen Me has seen God the Father” (John 14:6-8).

    While standing trial Jesus later confirmed His deity to the high priest, knowing this would lead to His crucifixion (see Mark 14:62).

    Jesus did not just say these things, He backed up His words with actions. He healed the sick and the disabled and performed many miraculous signs that caused people to flock to Him and the religious leaders of the time to hate Him.

    Jesus claimed honour that is only due God, even the angels refused to be worshipped (see Revelation 22:8-9).

    He raised people from the dead, saying He would give us things that only God can give. “For just as God the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom He is pleased to give it” (see John 5:21).

    Jesus told us not just to follow His teaching but also to follow Him (see Matthew 10:38).

    The biggest miracle of all – proof beyond doubt – was Jesus’ own resurrection, which He predicted beforehand (see John 2:19, 21).

    In short, Jesus turned the world upside down and it has never been the same since.

    You may still have doubts or questions and that is okay but do not hold to the clichés, find answers for yourself.

    There is more to it than you might think.

    David Limbargh is author of Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel.

    Challenge Good News Paper—375 December 2014

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    • One of many problems I have with the good lawyer’s testimony is to do with the oft repeated claim that the writers of the NT and the Disciples generally as well were beaten, tortured and murdered.

      The Scripture itself records the death of (the otherwise unknown) Stephen, and of James. The fates of the others are only described in tradition and in discarded apocryphal books.

      Sure, there are some beatings described in the NT, and Paul even claims to have been stoned. For heavens sake, how on earth did he manage to survive such an attack? It was a punishment designed specifically to kill a person, and yet he seemed to come good and indeed, incredibly was left with no distinctive or disabling injuries. He doesnt even claim it to have been any sort of miracle. I find it exceptionally difficult to believe a lot of Paul’s claims especially when they are not confirmed or detailed by anyone else. He does seem to brag an awful lot.

      Rian.

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      • Rian,
        It is not as important how the disciples died as how they lived. What is important is the fact that they were all willing to die for their faith. The fact that all of the apostles were willing to die horrible deaths, refusing to renounce their faith in Christ, is tremendous evidence that they had truly witnessed the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

        Persecution was a major theme in the early days of the Christian communities.

        The first Christians were not social philosophers or theologians – they were witnesses to historical events.
        Less concerned with social and moral issues, they risked their lives to tell the world they had seen an innocent man die and then miraculously walk among them three days later.
        According to accepted legend, only two of the disciples died peaceful deaths.
        Thomas the doubter, had a long life as a missionary before dying in a suburb of Madras in India, and Matthew, the former tax collector, died peacefully in Italy after a long ministry in Ethiopia, Persia and Macedonia.
        He is supposedly buried in the Salerno Cathedral, near Pompei.
        Simon Peter, clearly the leader of the new Christian church, and recognised by the Catholic church as its first pope, died a martyr’s death in Nero’s Colosseum, in Rome, about 67AD.
        He was apparently crucified upside down and his bones are sealed in a Vatican tomb..
        James the Less, thought by some to be Jesus’ blood brother, was thrown from a cliff-top and then beaten to death.
        His body is believed to remain buried at the Mount of Olives.
        Bartholomew spread the word in Turkey before being skinned alive by a band of heathen bandits.
        John, author of the gospel bearing his name and the disciple most loved by Jesus, is believed to have been executed, alongside his brother and fellow disciple James, by Herod Agrippa about 40AD.
        The disciple Andrew survived three days on the cross and apparently preached the word until he died.
        Philip lived his final years in Greece and was also crucified as an old man.
        Jude was a missionary in Syria and Persia where he was shot to death by arrows.
        His bone fragments are buried with Peter’s in the Vatican.
        Simon the Zealot, preached in Africa, France and Britain where he was arrested and crucified after verbally attacking the Roman culture.
        Matthias, chosen to replace Judas as a disciple, is believed to have been stoned to death.

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      • Rian,
        If you want to split hairs, Luke records the stoning of Paul at Lystra in Acts 14 so it is not Paul making the claim, but a witness to the incident. In this incident it is recorded that Paul lost consciousness after being stoned which implies that those who stoned him must have thought he was dead already. That is how he survived a stoning.

        My country which was the Roman Province of Thrace contains many ancient stories of Romans fighting Dacian tribes across the Danube assisted by Dalmatian/Thracian auxiliaries. Dacian stone slingers feature in some of these stories which describe dacian slingers as incapacitating roman soldiers by rendering them unconscious/brain damaged but not actually killing them.

        Perhaps you should research your beliefs more thoroughly before casting doubt on matters you know nothing about.

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      • Ah davinci old mate,
        Thanks for that interesting bit of information re stoning, and the reference in Acts that had slipped my notice. Though, having read gory details of how the Jews of old used to go about it, I still wonder at just how Paul managed to avoid any really significant damage to his body. AND of course my opinion about Paul’s character remains unaltered.

        Never let it be said that I am unable to express some degree of graciousness when corrected on something to do with fact or history. I think this is the second occasion on which I have acknowledged (very promptly) some bit of information you have passed on, which contradicted an item that I had quoted. But I have noticed that there have been many occasions when you have very obviously and pointedly refrained from answering questions or correcting things that I’ve put to you.

        Sadly over these two and a half years I have been contributing to this blog, I’ve only ever observed one of the resident Christians being prepared to acknowledge a mistake or a misunderstanding, – and that of course is our beloved Monica who as far as I am concerned, for all her passionate loyalty to Christ, still shows great humility.

        Honestly at times I almost get the impression that in their preparation, Evangelical Christians are told that under no circumstances must they ever allow that an atheist or other dissenter had made a legitimate point. Rather sad I feel. As far as I’m concerned, life is all about learning, even if the lesson is painful or even humiliating. Been there and done that, old mate.

        Cheers, Rian.

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      • Bryan,
        Yes I still have filed away the same listing of disciple martyrdoms that you gave many months back on the blog.

        I dont fail to admire persons who are willing to die for their faith. But I notice you are acknowledging exactly what I said, – that the individual stories listed are specifically legend. Roman persecutions of course didnt start for quite a longish time, and were then only spasmodic; and historians assure us now that the numbers of Christians martyred like that was relatively small. Tradition lists hundreds of thousands over those early years; while the true numbers appear to be no more than a few thousand.

        Oh, and just for the record there is actually NO record existing of any Christians ever dying in the Colliseum. Sure, in numbers of other arenas, but not that one. Check it out.

        cheers, Rian.

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      • Bryan,
        I certainly can admire the courage of those who were prepared to die for their faith; but I cant say that I really see it as necessary or valuable to actually do the dying. Then again, it is a fact that some few unique people who are well schooled in mental control as in Yoga, are capable of dying without distress. If any doubts this, just recall those Buddhist monks who have been reported as self-immolating while maintaining the Lotus posture. It is well established that several hundred years back in Southern France, certain of the Gnostic Perfecti were observed to die in the Inquisitions flames peacefully. Christians are not the only martyrs, you know!

        We are assured that in those early Christian days, that very small group of martyrs represented a great lesson and inspiration to the many. But the vast majority backed down, – bought out their certificates of exemption from the authorities, fled the danger, simply made the necessary pinch of incense as a sacrifice to the Emperor’s Genius, etc. And then there was tremendous argument on whether these folk could be forgiven and allowed back in the Church.

        The account of Ignatius’ martyrdom suggests that the ‘Saint’ had something of a death wish. He instructed his friends not to plead on his behalf and described in rather gloating fashion how he looked forward to being ripped apart and eaten by beasts etc. A century or so later, such an ambition got to be treated as pathological, and the Church authorities condemned such approaches. And we are told in the records that certain of the Roman authorities too got heartily sick of would be Christian Martyrs who came forward for execution in the arena. They were told to go away and get a rope, or jump off a cliff, – just dont bother them.

        I wont embarrass anyone on this blog by inquiring of them if they believe that they would be prepared to be martyrs for the faith.

        Cheers, Rian.

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      • Rian,
        The reason I don’t respond to many of your questions that you pose, is because they are stupid. They reflect the type of stupidity one descends into after they have rejected God’s Word.

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      • “Rian,
        The reason I don’t respond to many of your questions that you pose, is because they are stupid. They reflect the type of stupidity one descends into after they have rejected God’s Word.”

        Then lets just call you out on single minded religious arrogance davinci:

        “Which brings us back to the topic of whether God is a Catholic God or not. According to the Bible, the Holy Spirit is the only one who can be entitled Vicarius Christi or Vicar of Christ.

        For the pope to give himself this title, means not only that God is Catholic, but God is under the control and subject to the pope as the term Vicarius Christi is made by the pope not God.”

        The mind that weaves this ‘little gem’ must look down on all of us as “stupid”!!

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      • Davinci,
        I endeavour to answer any and all queries and complaints addressed to me on this blog with the maximum politeness. I can only assume that your failure to answer me in kind is because your answers would appear rather silly.

        Just again as I asked a day or two back. Since you proclaimed that as an ex-Christian (from my upbringing) I am therefore a Traitor to Christianity, I think it is only a perfectly fair question to ask if such a definitive logic applies both ways.

        So again I ask, is an individual who converts from Islam to Christianity, thereby to be described as a Traitor to Islam? I seem to recall that you started out as an atheist. Does that mean that in your conversion, you became a traitor to atheism? Very simple question and not at all stupid, peurile, or whatever. I suspect that you dont want to answer that because you dont want the definition to apply in both directions.
        Rian.

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      • Gee Bryan,
        I’d just love to know what it is that I am supposed to believe. I’m only repeating what I get from my research. Look at my list. You show your contrasting list.
        Rian.

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      • Rian. there isn’t much more I can or wish to say. You presuppose the truth of your system of thought and expect me to work within the framework of that system, all the while denying the historical evidence. It’s not scholarly. It’s blinkered.

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      • Rian,
        When I was an atheist, I was a traitor to God. When I became a Christian, I became a traitor to atheism. What does Jesus say? Him who is not with me is against me. There is no neutral ground.

        Having said this, there are areas of common ground between Christians and Muslims, Christians and pagans, Christians and atheists, nay even Christians and Satanists. This common ground is on issues that do not lead to one side or the other having to compromise their core beliefs in any way.

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      • Michael,
        The word “vicar” comes from Latin where it is defined as substitute; the type of substitute that works on someone else’s behalf. It is understood in English as well as Serbian that when someone lives vicariously, s/he has a substitute working in their own stead as if this person was themselves. This has serious implications for the Christian. When anyone defines himself as the vicar of Christ, that person makes the claim that s/he is acting in Christ’s stead in the same way that Jesus said the Holy Spirit would act in His stead when He went to heaven.

        This sort of vicar of Christ office and role was aptly illustrated in the humiliation of Canossa, where an emperor had to seek forgiveness from the pope, who not only excommunicated him but also the said emperor’s subjects (whether they were guilty and deserved excommunication or not). Only someone who claims to be equal with God can actually excommunicate a community without due process in determining whether the ones excommunicated are guilty or not. Yet this is what the pope did in the Canossa incident.

        For the pope to claim that he is the Vicar of Christ, only describes what the apostle Paul prophesied about the man of sin in 2 Thessalonians 2:3:

        “2that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.…”

        Verse 4 above describes exactly what is implied in the word “Vicar of Christ”. And the Roman Catholic church doesn’t like this passage because it unmasks the fact that the Pope is behaving in exactly the same way when it uses the name Vicar of Christ. I won’t even go into all the persecutions, crusades, murders, etc that have been instigated at the behest of the popes throughout history, because the pope thought he was acting in Christ’s stead.

        A little bit of research, would have made this clear Michael. So yes, I am religiously arrogant if you want.

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      • Davinci,
        The religious arrogance I accuse you of is entirely due to your contemptible reply to Rian. I’m sure Rian is more than capable of defending herself, but sometimes I find a certain attitudes particularly galling and feel a need to comment.
        So why is it that the bibles prophecies are any better than other of the many religious texts or that of Nostradamus even?
        Almost all religions, except the Jainism, have decided to take it upon themselves to claim God’s authority and carry out many reprehensible act in His name – they have been delusional at best. This research is nothing more than reading the words of others from ancient barbaric times and trying to use it to substantiate/justify a CHOSEN belief.
        Research in these matters can never offer any actual evidence or proof, if it did then it would be fact and not faith.

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      • Michael,
        You touched on a subject that confirms the Bible as genuine, in comparison with the holy books of other religions, when you made the comment about the prophetic books of the Bible being no different than Nostradamus.

        The simple fact is that many Biblical prophecies have been verified historically as having been fulfilled. The writings of Nostradamus have not.

        Actually, fulfilment of prophecy is only a matter of fact after they have been fulfilled. Before their fulfilment, they are a matter of faith. The typical example of how prophecies are a matter of faith before their fulfilment is the one that Jesus made about the destruction of the temple. It was inconceivable that the temple would be destroyed in 70 AD. Even the Roman general who destroyed it, didn’t want it destroyed. Yet for 40 odd years, the Christian believers lived with the faith that Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed and planned their actions accordingly when the event took place.

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      • The Bible has been shown to be chronologically inaccurate time and again, Thomas Paine “The Age of Reason” for one, if you could bear to be challenged academically.
        Written prophecies are read by many not just the adherents of the texts that contain them. It is often speculated that these prophecies are fulfilled to make them fulfilled by zealots. IS is attempting this in the Middle East with Koranic prophecy right now. But of course, Davinci, they’re not nearly as noble and righteous as you Christians who would never have attempted to prove themselves right at any cost. Of course I would never suggest that what you say is in anyway speculative either, because you did your ‘research’ of the facts….as they were written by…..men…..of various backgrounds……and education…..sheep herders, tax collectors, fishermen, confidence men……..
        My point of Nostradamus is that the prophecies were so cryptic and ambiguous that you could make of them as you wished before and after the fact as is the case of Revelations.

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      • Michael,
        Thanks for that. For a time I suspected that I scarcely had a friend on this forum. Oh I must except the lovely Monica. (Hi Mon)

        Anyway, I’d better inform you that actually I’m an ‘im, not an ‘er. Though being mistaken for a female doesnt unduly trouble me. I fell into that trap a couple of times two years back myself, when in this forum, I mistook a guy’s name for a gal’s name.

        Tell you a secret. Dont mention it to anyone else on the blog, but my first name starts with R and my second name is Ian, so I put them together and what did I get? Bibbety Boppety Boo. Sorry, I got carried away there. Just remembering my Disneyfilms. So therefore Rian.

        Just to fill you in, some Christians on this blog sorta cant quite get around me. I’m a 79yr old guy in country Victoria. Brought up old fashioned Methodist, and in my 30s/40s I was a clergyman in a Gnostic church. Have been a spiritual freethinker now for upwards of 30 odd years. In the last quarter of my working life I was a professional Actor. My passions are Art, History, Christianity, books, Lecturing and theatrical entertaining. Oh yes, and Cats!

        As you can see, they just hate apostates round here. Such folk as me, are far far worse than atheists.

        Cheers, good to have you on board these days.
        Rian.

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      • Apologies for the Gender confusion…..does sound a bit like a female name. 🙂 WOW! Professional actor, TV, Theatre or both?

        Bryan has stated that this is a blog designed to stimulate discussion and debate. On his Gravatar brief he says “Feel free to comment but avoid personal abuse. “, Suggesting someone is ‘Stupid’ for not conforming to personal viewpoint is arrogant and surely hitting on the border of personal abuse.

        An apostate, now that’s just a despicable word used by religious bigots. It denies an individual’s right to freedom of belief and freedom of thought based on Birth, Baptism or both. I was born into a Catholic family but in no way practice or adhere to the catholic religion, or any other for that. I guess for some that makes me an apostate, my view is that if someone has a problem with it then THEY have a problem not me. I think any Christian that uses this word should go back and have a better look at the teachings of their Messiah Jesus and look at the types of people he welcomed into his life and loved. They are supposed to be following his example aren’t they?

        I too am a spiritual freethinker and will pretty much read anything to do with spiritual matters and even look into some religious texts. I particularly like the Hindu attitude/belief “that there are many paths leading to the One God or the Source, whatever one chooses to call that ultimate Truth.”

        Being a free thinker I have currently been working my way through Sam Harris’ books. I haven’t gotten to “Waking Up” yet, I wanted to read his previous books to see where he is ‘coming from’ first, he shows that Atheists are not in any way amoral and hols a high ethical standard. He is, by definition, an Atheist through his conclusions that “there is no God” or the “Universe can’t be the result of Intelligent Design”. While I fully concur with his problems with religious belief systems, his conclusions are based on choice not ‘evidence’. Atheism seems every bit as speculative in terms of creation as belief, personally I refuse to label myself anything, I just want to keep my mind as wide open as possible and see what else I can find out.

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      • Michael,
        You accuse me of arrogance, yet the best you can do is comment that the prophecies of the Bible should not be believed because “It is often speculated that these prophecies are fulfilled to make them fulfilled by zealots.”

        Speculations Michael? So you exchange solid research into something for speculations? Can you see how stupid your remark actually looks?

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      • Ah Davinci….Should I feel flattered than you graced me with a response? Must be difficult to hear all the way up there on top of that mountain of “solid research”.

        you seem to be confused about what was being spoken about when:

        The Arrogance I referred to was to do with the contempt you show for anyone that doesn’t agree with you, as if your opinion is infallible or something and it is, after all, nothing more than an opinion. I liked what Dr Phil said to one of his guests one day: ” I don’t want to call you arrogant or something……..but lets just say your mighty proud of the way you turned out!” Though you do seem “mighty proud” of that solid research of yours.

        On the quite separate issue of my ‘remark’/opinion ……speculation on what zealots will do, which we are seeing the living example of today with IS, no I don’t see it as “stupid”. I assume that word means not up to your lofty standard of solid research. Now unless you managed to borrow Mr Wells’ time machine or something, your research is on written words that you have chosen to believe from a single religious text. There are billions that believe that the second coming will be Mohamed and Jesus will appear by his side and convert to Islam, of course what is believed that comes after that is quite horrifying for Non-Muslims. Atheists believe the end of the world will be brought about by religious zealots that get there hands on WMD’s, No second coming, no rapture, no stairway to heaven or rewards for those that got lucky enough to adhere to the right scripture, just destruction and death. Their research is based on human behaviour and trending events, quite solid and frightening research really.
        So Davinci, why is your opinion any less “stupid” these or any other opinions? What makes your single minded research so infallible? I can tell you what makes it fallible though – single mindedness.

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      • Oh Bryan,
        I know darned well that I’m not personally ‘hated’. But here as most places in the Christian community, no thing or condition appears to be quite so deeply despised as apostasy. Thus the pagan Emperor Julian was considered more diabolical than any of the regular pagan Emperors, however nasty, who had never been Christian. That worthy (or UNworthy?) gentleman apparently used to get great entertainment for himself by collecting a few Christians of varying degrees of orthodoxy and heresy together, and watching and listening to them fighting. There’s a delightful old painting of such a scene that you can call up on the Internet. It is by the British artist Armitage.

        As good old davinci said, I’m simply a traitor to Christianity. By the way, davinci, if you are listening, thanks for actually answering my question re the same. I make no bones however, in being eternally grateful that I did get the Christian education and background that was provided for me.

        But you have to admit Bryan, that I’ve been called more unsavoury names and given more ‘orrible’ titles than anyone else here over these two and a half years of my tenancy. Never disturbed me at all of course; but such things do trigger off a very powerful urge to launch into debate. And then of course I make use of weird history books and similar resources to make my points, as well as (shock/horror) the Internet. It continues to be fun.

        Cheers Rian.

        Like

      • Good on you Rian. But I think I’ve been called more unsavoury names in the 18 years I wrote the Faithworks column for Rupert Murdoch’s papers and then on this blog. Not that it’s a competition or anything. And not that I mind all that much. It comes with the territory.

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      • davinci,
        I seem to recall that Jesus also said that ‘he who is not against me is with me.’
        Rian

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      • Michael,
        I hope you catch this. I was most interested to see your brave comment that your beliefs are essentially ‘crap’, since all those beliefs are not immediately verifiable.

        You probably have never seen it, but there is a book I value, written by the famous ‘lateral thinking’ expert, Edward de Bono. It is called ‘The Happiness Purpose’. And I commend to you his exposition of what is a very significant principle concerning belief and certainty etc, that he terms as the ‘Proto-Truth’.

        I’ve been faced by your sort of approach, but I do fall back on de Bono’s idea in the long run now.

        It is quite on the cards that the book is right out of print, and not available new. At one time I think it was published by Penguin. I recommend that you chase it up if you can. It can be a bit long-windedly rational, but there is something just very sensible for the pragmatic free-thinker that may appeal to you.

        Some time if you see fit, I’d be interested to correspond with you off-line. We just need to get Bryan’s okay to swap email addresses. Any interest?

        cheers, Rian.

        Like

      • Hi Rian,
        Now there’s a coincidence for you – Back in the 80’s I worked for an office equipment company called Olivetti and they used Edward de Bono in their advertising, they had him do a meet and greet in the Sydney offices , but as usual poor old Melbourne was left out so I didn’t get the opportunity to meet him. What’s more, as IBM’s motto was ‘Think’, Olivetti’s was ‘The Lateral Thinkers’ – just a motto not actually used as a work concept or anything. I did however get to shake hands with Professor Sumner Miller not too long before he died, he was doing a book signing at Collin’s Bookstore in the CBD so I went to see him, just a celebrity thing for me really, I love thinkers, they boldly explore “outside of the box”. 🙂

        I don’t actually contend that beliefs are essentially “crap” because they are not ‘immediately verifiable’. My contention is that personal beliefs can’t and shouldn’t be held as Absolute Truth. There have been so many horrible things done throughout History , and presently, ‘in the name of God’, but really they’re just done in the name of personal belief. They are always carried out by those that hold their personal beliefs as the absolute truth of God, the worst of them appear to have a preoccupation with Prophecy and Heavenly reward. These people can’t seem to see the absurdity of what they say, on the one hand they speak of a God that is perfect Love, an all forgiving God, BUT, if you don’t………or if you do…….. He will condemn you to eternal suffering. Excuse me, did someone say ‘all forgiving’ as in we can make the odd mistake or twenty, as is only Human. According to these people End of days(if there is such a thing) sounds a lot like a day at ‘The Track’, did I pick a winner? Did I adhere the right “One True Word of God”? Will I be sentenced to ‘Eternal Damnation’ because I didn’t know any better? What of the still isolated tribes, untouched by ‘civilization’, will they be condemned or spared and just who on Earth thinks they determine this? From my reading they seem to have contentment I could only dream of, what a pity if they were ‘punished for this.

        Yes I am happy enough to exchange email addresses with you. Though I hope you understand that I won’t always be able to respond in a ‘timely manner’ or maybe with great detail, I’m hoping that I will get busy with a small business I have gotten off the ground. If you become a nuisance I will just add you to the spam blocker. 🙂

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      • P.S.
        The next time someone calls you an Apostate, smile and say: “Yes! Thank you, I am a free thinker.” 🙂 Be proud.

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      • Bryan,
        Since Michael has given his okay, you may at your pleasure either give him my email address, or me his email address.

        Merci beaucoups Rian.

        (just love showing off the limited bits of memory I have from my French class at school. (Maffra and Mt Gambier in the late 40s/early 50s.)

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  5. Ceremonies and paraphernalia they all arise from way way back in time way past twenty thousand years.
    Developing and changing from a requirement to divide people .
    They are the principal way to illustrate groupings in essence “TRIBALISM”

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      • Do you feel left out when viewing images of NEW GUINEA Highland tribes men , Men getting themselves nailed to crosses or kloging themselves even to the extent of blood running down their bodies .
        MMMMMMM .
        Conformity is the name of the game !
        Did you ever smoke a cigarette ,drink some poison liquid then continue even when you know what the taste is.
        Place money into a one armed bandit know full well you are in the end going to lose.
        Yes Dom my new name is much more accurate “Crushing Bones”

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      • CB, a rock feels no pain and an island never cries. Not the best way to go though. Standing on the outside observing what is happening around you.

        You are highlighting extremes of people who have lost the way. The Christian of Philippines who nail themselves to the cross, they have lost the plot. I know of no other Christians that do this. The Shia flogging themselves in mourning of Hussein death have also lost the plot.

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      • OK call me slow:

        “Yes Dom my new name is much more accurate “Crushing Bones”

        So therefore “Crushing Bones” = “Atheist Thinking”?
        I mean I have the same trouble understanding exactly what is being said. O.o

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  6. bryanpattersonfaithworks
    on December 8, 2014 at 08:33 said:
    It wasn’t an insult. It was an observation on how and humankind.

    negatively you view the world :-
    A sphere of primarily silicon around a molten core of heavy metals all created within a super nova more than six billion years ago.
    That sphere orbits a star that increases output and will do so turning this sphere into plasma .
    How could you claim that is negatively ?
    Aaah you associate the world as man,s world .
    The dogma this place was created for that select group of judaism, christian man excluding all humans pre judaism, christian or not judaism, christian

    and human”kind”. that should be “humanEGO”
    Only those who claim to know the truth

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      • “There’s really no point debating them.”

        Yes, sadly, I totally agree Bryan.

        Impenetrable fortresses of the mind that only God can destroy, if their hearts are open—“Not by power or by might, but by my Spirit, say’s the Lord.”

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    • Bryan,
      I’m trying to get my head around your dismissive comment there. Do you actually maintain that the sole significant reason this world and the universe was made by the God, essentially for man? what weird Christian and philosophical books you read.
      Rian.

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      • The Roman persecution of Christians began during the reign of Nero and persisted until Christianity was recognized as a legitimate religion by the Emperor Constantine 249 years later. Maybe that fact doesn’t appear in YOUR history book but it’s a fact nevertheless.

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      • Oh come on Bryan,

        Of course there were Christians persecuted by the Romans. But are you prepared to swear that the Romans persecuted Christians non-stop for those 249 years, or even for half of that time? – That ALL or most of the Emperors persecuted Christians? Do you actually know precisely WHY there were such persecutions – just why Christians were unpopular? Do you guarantee that there were huge multitudes of Christians killed, tortured, prosecuted etc?

        I recall reading one Evangelical claiming that the Romans martyred some six million Christians during the period. I somehow suspect that he was confounding the Jewish holocaust with the ancient situation. As I indicated the other day, there are very good reasons to be suspicious of the passage in Tacitus. None of the Church Fathers ever associated any persecution with the Great Fire under Nero, and they lived very close to the time.

        I dont think you have updated your knowledge of it all since your conversion. Again I challenge you to do some research and point me to some reputable historians who back you up. point me to genuine historians and NOT just to Christian apologists of the old school who just repeat the old legends.
        Rian.

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      • Okay Bryan,
        let me tell you. It was some 8 or so years back that I was debating the Martyrs under Rome with my Catholic Convert friend. He was maintaining that there were hundreds of thousands of Christians killed by Rome. i promptly went into research mode. looked up historians and encyclopaedias, as well as the Internet. And all my research provided me with exactly the conclusions that I am telling you here and now. The real stats were apparently down to around a few thousand only. And far more fellow Christians were murdered in later centuries for their heretical beliefs than were killed by the Romans. When my mate checked my figures, he lamely backed down and stated that ‘anyway, several thousand martyrs is still a great tribute to their faith.’

        I am maintaining that there were very few official edicts of persecution against the Christians that came from Rome or from its Emperors. Many spasmodic local outbreaks of hatred rose in places round the Empire like Carthage. Christians were not killed in large numbers in the arenas. As was normal in Roman law, Citizens if found guilty were either exiled, or executed with the sword. If slaves or of low degree then they might be sent into the arenas against Gladiators or lions etc. No actual martyrdoms are officially recorded as ever having taken place in the Colliseum itself. (Nor did Christians ‘hide’ in the Catacombs for safety!)

        The main persecutions like that under Decius and that under Diocletian lasted for no more than three to five years each. The Romans WERE a very tolerant lot when it came to religious beliefs, and simply didnt like to prosecute these people for the most part. In their trials those who were interrogated were often given days on end to reconsider their decisions to stick with their faith. It is a common story that at least one magistrate got sick of loads of enthusiastic heaven seeking Christians who came to him demanding martyrdom. He turned them away, as I related, advising them to take ropes or jump over cliffs.

        On particularly amusing situation arose when the (shock horror) Apostate Emperor Julian came to the ‘throne’ shortly after Constantine. Certain of the Christian authorities were bracing themselves for horrible persecution from this diabolical gentleman, and some indeed were hoping for martyrdom under him. As it happened, Julian carried out no acts of persecution whatsoever. And we are assured that some of these enthusiastic Christians were bitterly disappointed that he hadnt given them the opportunity!

        In a couple of the persecutions that did take place, it was only the leaders and ‘priests’ who were put on trial. The essential reasons for the official moves against Christians throughout, were political and moral, NOT religious. Some Christians refused to serve in the army. All were suspect for their secret ‘love feasts’ etc and the rumours of eating ‘flesh’. They were accused of subverting the Roman state and the Pax Romana, because they would not revere the Emperor or the various traditional gods and ceremonies that were believed to protect the state. When the other day, I detailed the new theory about the Tacitus account of persecution under Nero, I made sure that it was described as a likely and more logical explanation. No-one has yet given any reasons why it is not likely.

        One particular Christian, the great theologian Origen, who was himself tortured and died as a martyr, quoted during the 2nd century that it was very few who actually got killed by the Romans.

        If you Bryan, are just too busy or scared to do some up to date research for yourself on the matter, then I challenge any Christians on this blog to do the necessary research, and the FIRST ONE to demonstrate that I’m wrong, may claim from me $50 that I will donate to any charity they mention. But you must do your checking among modern authorities, and NOT just from ancient Church sayings and legends. Look up the Internet and modern history books on it, and demonstrate that the things I quote above are overall incorrect. In my own library I have loads of books on Roman and early Christian history. This is one of my pet topics of research, as well as the study of the Catacombs and their art.

        Go on, show me that I’m wrong. I dare you.
        Cheers, Rian.

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      • Early non-Christian sources confirm the persecution accounts of the early Church.

        Tacitus described the persecution of Christians in Rome (c. 64-68AD) within 30 years of Jesus’ crucifixion. “Nero falsely accused and executed with the most exquisite punishments those people called Christians.” According to Tacitus, some Christians “were seized who admitted their faith, and then, using the information they provided, a vast multitude were convicted, not so much for the crime of burning the city, but for hatred of the human race.” These early Christians were brutally executed, “and perishing they were additionally made into sports: they were killed by dogs by having the hides of beasts attached to them, or they were nailed to crosses or set aflame, and, when the daylight passed away, they were used as nighttime lamps.” (Annals)

        Suetonius (69-122AD) also described the persecution of the early Christians. He said Emperor Claudius (41-54 AD) “expelled them from Rome,” (The Lives of the Twelve Caesars;Claudius 25)and reported that, under Nero, “punishment was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition” (The Lives of the Twelve Caesars;Nero 16)

        Pliny the Younger (Governor of Pontus / Bithynia) confirmed the persecution of Christians in his letter to Emperor Trajan (c. 112AD). He asked the Emperor “whether pardon is to be granted for repentance, or, if a man has once been a Christian, it does him no good to have ceased to be one; whether the name itself, even without offenses, or only the offenses associated with the name are to be punished.” Pliny told Trajan, “I interrogated these as to whether they were Christians; those who confessed I interrogated a second and a third time, threatening them with punishment; those who persisted I ordered executed.” Pliny excused those who rejected Christ and proved their allegiance to the Roman gods: “Those who denied that they were or had been Christians, when they invoked the gods in words dictated by me, offered prayer with incense and wine to your image, which I had ordered to be brought for this purpose together with statues of the gods, and moreover cursed Christ–none of which those who are really Christians, it is said, can be forced to do–these I thought should be discharged. Others named by the informer declared that they were Christians, but then denied it, asserting that they had been but had ceased to be, some three years before, others many years, some as much as twenty-five years. They all worshipped your image and the statues of the gods, and cursed Christ.” Trajan, in his response to Pliny, confirms the means by which early Christians could avoid persecution: “If they are denounced and proved guilty, they are to be punished, with this reservation, that whoever denies that he is a Christian and really proves it, that is, by worshiping our gods, even though he was under suspicion in the past, shall obtain pardon through repentance.”

        The Persecution of 1st and 2nd Century Christians Was Described by Ancient Christians
        Early Christian leaders wrote about the ongoing persecution of believers

        Justin Martyr (100-164AD) described the continuous persecution of the Christian community in a letter to Emperor Augustus Caesar. He wrote, “You can kill us, but cannot do us any real harm” (The First Apology of Justin Martyr)

        Tertullian (160-225 AD) described the suffering of the early Christians as he wrote to Roman governors in an attempt to stem the persecution of Christians in his era (Apologeticus)

        Even the most skeptical critics of Christian history typically accept the 3rd and 4th Century records of large scale persecution of Christians under Emperor Decius (c. 250’s AD), Valerian (c. 260’s AD), Diocletian (c. 280’s AD) and Galerius (early 300’s AD). These four emperors persecuted Christians vigorously

        You can send the $50 to Save The Children thanks Rian

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      • Hi Rian,

        It sounds like you’ve been reading ‘The Rejection of Pascal’s Wager’ A Skeptic’s Guide to the Bible and the historical Jesus. 😉

        Christian Catacombs of Rome

        “The Christian religion developed rapidly in Rome and all over the world since the 1st century, owing to its being original and suitable for all mankind; but this was also due to the testimony of fervour, of brotherly love and of charity shown by the Christians towards everybody.

        The Roman authorities were at first indifferent to the new religion, yet very soon, incited also by the people showed themselves hostile to it, because the Christians refused to worship the ancient pagan deities of Rome, as well as the emperor. The Christians were accused of disloyalty to their fatherland, of atheism, of hatred towards mankind, of hidden crimes, such as incest, infanticide and ritual cannibalism; likewise they were held responsible for all natural calamities, such as plagues, floods, famines, etc.

        The Christian religion was proclaimed “strana et illicita – strange and unlawful” (Senatorial decree of the year 35); “exitialis – deadly”(Tacitus); “prava et immodica – wicked and unbridled” (Plinius); “nova et malefica – new and harmful” (Svetonius); “tenebrosa et lucifuga – mysterious and opposed to light” (from “Octavius” by Minucius); “detestabilis- hateful” (Tacitus); therefore it was outlawed and persecuted, because it was considered the most dangerous enemy of the power of Rome, which was based upon the ancient national religion and on the emperor’s worship.

        The first three centuries constitute the age of Martyrs, which ended in 313 with the edict of Milan, by which the emperors Constantine and Licinius gave freedom to the Church. The persecution was not always continuous and universal, nor equally cruel and bloody. Periods of persecution were followed by periods of relative peace.

        Christians faced persecution with courage, a very large percentage with heroism, but they did not submit to it without opposition. They defended themselves with great strength by confuting the accusations of those crimes as being false and groundless and by producing the contents of their faith ( What we believe) and describing their identity (What we are).

        In the “Apologies” (“defences”), prepared by the Christian writers of the time, and often addressed to the emperors, the Christians protested vigorously against their being condemned unjustly, without being known and without being convicted. According to the Apologies, the principle of the senatorial law “Non licet vos esse- you have no right to exist” is unjustifiable and unlawful, because Christians are honest citizens, respectful of laws, loyal to the emperor, hard-working and exemplary both in their private and public life.

        In the catacombs we can check the evidence of the wonderful life of Christians, as it is described by the Apologists.

        An entire Roman Legion was Martyred for Christ

        Down through the years it fell into the hands of Mauritius (Saint Maurice), the head of a 3rd century garrison of Roman soldiers called the Theban legion.

        The Theban Legion was a Christian legion of soldiers during the reign of Diocletian. A legion of men consisting of 6,600 (some say: 6,666) soldiers were all Christian:

        http://www.bibleprobe.com/holy_lance.htm

        I don’t know how reliable the authors behind ‘Bible Probe’ are, as apparently they have no credentials; not ‘historians’, but it’s an interesting read, nonetheless.

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      • William,
        I will still require you to confirm the huge numbers of Christians that are supposed to have been martyred. Also look at the other points i make in my letter.

        There is simply no way that there were the ‘immense multitude’ of Christians in Rome at the time of the Great Fire and Nero. Think about it.

        Check out the brief lengths of time that the major real Persecutions took place. Expelling Christians from Rome was hardly any sort of a persecution you know.

        what about Origen and his 2nd century statement that very few Christians died under Roman persecution. Comment please on the numbers of Christians who backed out when faced with the questioning. lots more for you to research.
        Rian.

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      • William, It’s clear that Rian will only accept evidence that fits his premise. There’s really not much point trying to claim the $50. He’ll always find a way to ignore the facts.

        Persecution in the early church occurred sporadically almost since the beginning, but it was first sanctioned by the government under Nero. In 64 AD, a great fire ravaged Rome. Nero took the opportunity provided by the destruction to rebuild the city in the Greek style and begin building a large palace for himself. People began speculating that Nero had set the fire himself in order to indulge his aesthetic tastes in the reconstruction so, according to Tacitus’ Annals and Suetonius’ Nero, the eccentric emperor blamed the Christians for the fire in an effort to divert attention from himself. Nero was quite insane, and is reported to have tortured Christians with great cruelties for his own enjoyment. According to the Roman historian Tacitus: Besides being put to death they [the Christians] were made to serve as objects of amusement; they were clad in the hides of beast and torn to death by dogs; others were crucified, others set on fire to serve to illuminate the night when daylight failed. Nero had thrown open his grounds for the display, and was putting on a show in the circus, where he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or drove about in his chariot.

        Christianity was punishable by death during this era, yet pardon was available to those willing to renounce their religion by offering sacrifice to the emperor or Roman gods. The offering of sacrifices became a particularly contentious issue and a kind of religious litmus test. Honouring Rome’s gods and goddesses was considered a civic obligation and, at times, a law.

        But many Christians refused to break with their faith. They were often executed.

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      • The total number of Christians who lost their lives because of these persecutions is unknown, but early church historian Eusebius, whose works are the only source for many of these events, speaks of “great multitudes” having perished,

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      • Edward Gibbon wrote:
        “By embracing the faith of the Gospel the Christians incurred the supposed guilt of an unnatural and unpardonable offence. They dissolved the sacred ties of custom and education, violated the religious institutions of their country, and presumptuously despised whatever their fathers had believed as true, or had reverenced as sacred

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      • Between 109 and 111 CE, Pliny the Younger was sent by the emperor Trajan (r. 98-117) to the province of Bithynia as governor. During his tenure of office, Pliny encountered Christians, and he wrote to the emperor about them. The governor indicated that he had ordered the execution of several Christians, “for I held no question that whatever it was they admitted, in any case obstinancy and unbending perversity deserve to be punished.”

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      • interesting coverage, Mon,
        But there are problems with lots of the points raised there. The historians of today tell a very different story, as I have pointed out. Do notice that extended periods of peace are mentioned in between the troubles. Official condemnation by the Emperors was very seldom applied, and then only for brief times.

        As the historians tell us, the Christians were for some time a very small group who were hardly noticed. As I indicated to William below, anyone who wants to claim the $50 for their favourite charity will need to demonstrate that modern historical research supports huge numbers of Christian Martyrs over those first centuries.

        It has to be said that it was far bigger numbers by far, that backed out of martyrdom. Some by making the required sacrifice of reverence to the Emperor, some by purchasing the certificate of exemption, and some by getting to hell out of it. If I recall rightly without immediately checking, I think it was the Bishop Cyprian who advised Christians in any danger to flee the city.

        I’d suggest that anyone wanting an immediate idea of the matter to just key in on the internet ‘Numbers of Christian persecutions under Rome’. You will soon see the scope of it. Anyway, before I put out my long posting and challenge, I went through several of the books in my library to refresh my memory. I’ve material there from many historians and researchers. So it’s not just vague internet information.

        Cheers and love, Rian.

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      • Is there anything about this in your vast library Rian???

        When Rome first became aware of Christianity around A.D. 30, it did nothing to stop it. Thinking this sect might weaken the always bothersome Jewish religion, Emperor Tiberius asked the Senate to legalize the Christian faith and declare Christ a Roman god. But the Senate refused. Instead, it pronounced Christianity to be an “illegal superstition,” a crime under Roman law.

        Although Christianity was now officially illegal, Tiberius still hoped this new religious sect would further his goal of pacifying the empire. As a result, he ordered Roman officials not to interfere with the new religion, a policy that lasted about 30 years until the time of Nero.

        Under Nero, Christians made an easy target for scapegoating. The common people of Rome believed rumors about Christians. Some thought Christians practiced cannibalism because the sacrament of the Eucharist called for believers to symbolically eat the flesh and blood of Christ. Others believed that Christians practiced incest because they preached loving their brothers and sisters. Many believed Christians hated humanity because they kept secrets and withdrew from normal social life. Many pagans feared that the gods would become angry and punish the Roman people since Christians refused to participate in the old religious rituals. These fears and rumors helped Nero shift public opinion to blaming the Christians rather than him for the great fire.

        Since the Christian religion was still illegal, it was easy to order mass arrests, trials, and executions. The Christian martyrs suffered horrible deaths. Roman historian Tacitus described Nero’s methods of execution:

        Dressed in wild animal skins, they were torn to pieces by dogs, or crucified, or made into torches to be ignited after dark as substitutes for daylight. Nero provided his Gardens for the spectacle, and exhibited displays in the Circus, at which he mingled with the crowd—or stood in a chariot dressed as a charioteer.

        For many years, Christians lived with the uncertainty that another persecution could erupt at any time. In 110, Emperor Trajan attempted to reach a compromise between the growing Christian minority and Roman pagans who demanded that the illegal religious sect be destroyed. Although Trajan authorized arresting Christians, he prohibited general searches to seek them out and ordered Roman officials not to actively interfere with Christian gatherings.

        For more than 100 years, Christians preached and practiced their faith openly with little obstruction from Roman officials anywhere in the empire. Rome’s excellent system of roads helped Christians spread the gospel throughout the empire. And the Christians’ openness to people from all groups and classes helped them gain many converts.

        But in 250, Emperor Decius attempted to revive the Roman pagan religion and persecute Christians. Many Christians perished, but when Gallienus became emperor, he halted the persecution. Gallienus then went one step further by recognizing Christianity as a legal religion for the first time. By stopping the oppression of this minority religion, Gallienus hoped to bring religious peace to the empire.

        For almost 40 years, the legalized Christian Church flourished in the Roman empire. Then, in 297, Emperor Diocletian initiated one last terrible Christian persecution.

        Diocletian had come to power at a time of crisis. Prices of goods were climbing rapidly, German tribes threatened the western part of the empire, and the Persian empire was attacking in the east.

        Diocletian moved boldly. He set price controls. He doubled the size of the army. To govern the empire more easily, he broke it into two parts—the Greek-speaking east and the Latin-speaking west.

        Suspicious of the loyalty of Christians to the Roman state, Diocletian started persecuting them. He demanded that all Christian soldiers resign from the Roman army. He forbade gatherings for Christian worship and ordered the destruction of churches and sacred writings. Christian members of the government were tortured and executed.

        Other edicts followed when Christian uprisings took place in the eastern parts of the empire where Christianity was strongest. Bishops and priests were arrested, tortured, and martyred. In 304, Rome decreed that all Christians sacrifice to the pagan gods or face death.

        Following Diocletian’s retirement in 305, a civil war broke out to determine his successor. It raged on for almost a decade. Even so, the persecution of Christians continued. Galerius, Diocletian’s handpicked successor, hated Christians and organized a war of extermination against them in the eastern empire. Christians were mutilated, burned alive, and crucified. Hundreds of Christian men, women, and children were forced to labor in government mines. Crowds in Roman arenas shouted, “Let there be no Christians!”

        Galerius grew disheartened when he saw that his efforts had failed to stamp out the Christian religion. Dying of cancer that was literally rotting his body, Galerius suspended the persecution in 311. He then pleaded for Christians to pray for his health. But he died, and the oppression resumed.

        http://www.crf-usa.org/bill-of-rights-in-action/bria-13-4-b-religious-tolerance-and-persecution-in-the-roman-empire

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      • Interesting Bryan to find you quoting from Gibbon,
        Just looking through his coverage on the persecutions, I find that he expresses considerable doubt about the Tacitus account, and makes it very plain that the great multitude of martyrs is most unlikely. His assessment is very much like my own actually.

        As far as Eusebius is concerned, only diehard traditionalists still maintain that his word is to be relied on. Again Bryan, my challenge is more than anything, for you or anyone else here to find credible and authorative historical testimony to prove that there were large numbers of Christians killed under Roman law.

        Keep in mind too, as I stated that many of the killings occurred in far of Roman provinces, when local people rioted against the Christians. Just as the Romans stuck their noses in, when Paul’s influence was causing riots. Incidentally, if the Christians were really so much despised and hated in the mid first century, why were the Roman authorities so kind to Paul?

        My comments on the clemency of Roman magistrates remain too. Also the insane way that Christians wanted to be martyred. Where have I gone wrong in any of this? I say again, look it all up and see what the modern historians say and what is stated on the Internet.

        cheers Rian.

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      • Interesting Rian that you ignore the writings of Pliny the Younger, the laws of Tiberius making Christianity illegal, the deadly actions of Nero. the massacres of Diocletian and Galerius etc etc etc.
        But as I said before, believe what you will. That doesn’t change the facts.

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      • Reading about what was done to our Christian kin is heartbreaking Bryan,

        But what’s even more heartbreaking is that it’s still happening now in our so-called enlightened world, both in word and deed. We will always have the ‘haters’ to contend with, even if they don’t know that they rage against the One True God.

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      • “William, It’s clear that Rian will only accept evidence that fits his premise.”

        I’m glad I didn’t download the Irony Meter App, or I’d be looking for a new iPad! You probably won’t want to tell us why Bart Ehrman is good source when he supports your conclusions, and “poor scholarship” when he doesn’t.

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      • No Bryan,
        I havent ignored Pliny and the others. I think I listed comments about most of them in my first post the other day. If the Christians were so infamous, then why the heck does Pliny not know much about them? When I refer you to the real numbers of martyrs, I am of course counting the ones under those nasty Emperors.

        Since you poke fun at the history books I’ve studied, let me list those directly from my library that are relevant. Many are written by Professors and CHristian researchers.– You produce your authorities!

        Histories of Christianity, various by Davidson, Walsh, Welburn, Loisy, Vermes, Hoffman, Woodhead.
        Christianity a Global History by Chidester; The Christians by Gascoyne.
        7 Vol set a People’s History of Christianity…. vol 1 Christian Origins; Vol 2 Late Ancient Christianity.
        Two Thousand Years. First Millenium. Birth of Christianity; by Partner; The Christian World ed by Barraclough;
        Crucible of Christianity.. ed by Toynbee; Pagans and Christians.. By Robin Lane Fox;
        Death of Classical Paganism, by Smith; World full of Gods (Pagans and Christians in Roman Empire). by Hopkins
        Constantine the Unconquered Emperor. By Victor; Great Fire of Rome by Dando-Collins;
        The Catacombs by Stevenson; The Roman Catacombs by Hertling and Kirschbaum.
        Also Innumerable articles off the Internet; and Encyclopaedia Britannica.. article on Martyrs. (1995 edition. gives good accurate coverage.)

        I want to get from you the authorities for those huge numbers of martyrs that you and everyone are claiming And I need more than just a list of Emperors who issued edicts. Just keep in mind that Eusebius is not highly respected for his history and accuracy. It is fully acknowledged in the Vatican nowadays that the greater number of martyrs death accounts are false, and romantic fictions.

        cheers Rian.

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  7. bryanpattersonfaithworks
    on December 9, 2014 at 10:42 said:
    “Believe” what you will Rian. It doesn’t change the facts.

    “Believe” what you will those who think they will gain immortality It doesn’t change the
    facts about this universe .

    Like

    • [“Believe” what you will those who think they will gain immortality It doesn’t change the
      facts about this universe .]

      It certainly won’t change your belief, Crushing Bones, that you know the facts of this universe!

      Like

      • “It certainly won’t change your belief, Crushing Bones, that you know the facts of this universe!”

        😆 “You tell ’em love!” Well said.

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    • [1] This universe is finite in it,s resources .
      [2] This universe until now after 13,700,000,000 years has had nothing entering it . With the void of space having a ambient temperature of about 2.4 degrees above absolute zero .The only way to measure that temp is having a background temp of ZERO KELVIN .
      Thus either outside this universe is Absolute zero or nothing can enter this universe and probably nothing can exit.
      A totally contained system that is using it,s limited resources on a downward spiral of entropy.
      [3] The universe is massive but not limitless.
      No matter how big it is not being limitless has the end result of existence ending .
      [4]
      Those who are after something will never be reliable to have any critical judgement .

      Like

    • So Bryan,
      I believe it’s all a ‘giant conspiracy’, do I? Heck, I’ve never denied the Pliny correspondence etc. Interesting, looking up the question of Tiberius, what I read is that he actually wrote to the Senate asking them to legitimatize Christianity. They refused. (second century documentation only) Claudius is not reported as expelling the Christians. But he did expel the Jews. (second century doc.)

      I stated in my original notes to this blog that there are NO First Century references to the word Christian in any Roman document or Inscription. All details about Rome and its dealings with the Christians come from Second and later Century writings. No-one here has contradicted that statement. Notice that Suetonius gets shot down by other Roman authors, so his comments are rather dubious, being known for gross exaggeration.

      Of course I have read over and over the details of the various persecutions under the various Roman Emperors, and I’ve never denied them. So please retract that statement and be honest about it. The details I’ve quoted about reluctant Roman Magistrates are there in the record for all to see however, and it is well documented that many fanatical Christians wanted to be martyred.

      The major issue I’ve tossed in is the consensus of modern scholars and historians that the total number of martyrs under Rome during those first three centuries was actually very small. No hundreds of thousands killed. No-one on this blog has contradicted what I quoted about the Origen reference.

      I did come up with a very logical contention by the respected historian of the Roman world, Dando-Collins. It is a new idea about the Tacitus quote, sure, but has some strong argument and is, I admit speculation. No-one has demonstrated from any source that there was an immense multitude of Christians in Rome in the 60s, Neither Paul nor Acts suggests that there were. Neither does Acts or Paul make any suggestion that Christianity was regarded in Rome as abominable or immoral. That latter accusation belongs very clearly according to all scholarship, to the 2nd and 3rd centuries.

      Anyway, can you or anyone on this blog give me up to date references that demonstrate the contrary to my various contentions above? It does you no credit, Bryan, to just dismiss the books and authorities that I quoted. Neither you nor anyone else has come up with a comparable and contrary list. Anyone who knows the early popular circulating literature of Christianity, knows full well that it represented a real industry forging lives of the Saints and Martyrs.

      Is it really some sort of diabolical slur on Christianity if it is proven that the Romans did not martyr anywhere near so many? If you study just what I have written in this matter, you will notice that I’ve said NOTHING WHATSOEVER against Christianity in it. If neither you or anyone else on the blog can come up with contrary scholarly opinion, then it does not bespeak well of you. I expect better. I wait to award the $50, with NO wriggling round it.
      Cheers Rian.

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      • Rian. As I said before there isn’t much more I can or wish to say. You presuppose the truth of your system of thought and expect me to work within the framework of that system, all the while denying the historical evidence.

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      • Bryan,
        You have failed to produce any of the evidence, other than the same listing of persecutions that I have. Darned if I know just what my system of thought or limited world view can be. You have simply refused to offer your evidence, or to quote your up to date authorities.
        Sad, very sad.

        I wonder if any of our resident Christian apologists would care to do some research and demonstrate whether I am right or wrong? But if so, pull-ease do get some authorities and modern scholarship behind you.
        Cheers, Rian

        Like

  8. Martyrdom is honoured also in Islam, Judaism, Sikhism and Hinduism. Even Bahais honour those who sacrifice their lives serving humanity in the name of God., although Bahá’u’lláh discouraged the literal meaning of sacrificing one’s life. Instead, he explained that martyrdom is devoting oneself to service to humanity.

    It is not unusual to choose to die for your faith, whether spiritual or otherwise.

    In modern China, revolutionaries who died fighting against the Qing dynasty in the Xinhai Revolution and throughout the Republic of China period, furthering the cause of the revolution, were recognized as martyrs. Revolutionary martyrs were also in Vietnam, North Korea.and India.

    The Tolpuddle Martyrs were a group of 19th century agricultural labourers in Dorset, England, who were arrested for and convicted of swearing a secret oath as members of the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers, so politics play a part sometimes too.

    This is without going back to look at the willingness of sacrificial victims in ancient times. Of course Christians were prepared to die for their faith

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    • It’s sacred, isn’t it?

      “Though beheaded, and crucified, and thrown to wild beasts, and chains, and fire, and all other kinds of torture, we do not give up our confession; but, the more such things happen, the more do others in larger numbers become faithful.” — Justin Martyr {25}

      “In the face of persecution, many Christians chose to die before they would deny their Lord. Those who did so came to be called martyrs, which means “witnesses.” The second-century theologian Tertullian had converted to Christianity based in part on his wonder at Christians’ faithfulness in the face of martyrdom and it clearly had a similar effect on others as well. It was Tertullian who famously declared, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

      25 Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, 110.

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