we look at the specific points we have observed in the ‘Content' part
Dr. Martin Luther King. Rather
than consider what generally happens when a person becomes a Christian
(which might have brought about a far more fruitful chapter), the
author focuses initially on the colourful life of Dr. Martin Luther
King. Early on is a simple comment that can usefully act as the catalyst
for consideration: “slavery that…Christian churches
had so warmly approved ….” Now I confess that I don't
know how accurate that is, but I would suggest the following are some
of the considerations to be thought about:
Common Misconception? It
was Scottish philosopher and economist David Hume, who the
author is fond of quoting, who said, “I am apt to suspect the Negroes
to be naturally inferior to the Whites.” It was German philosopher
Immanuel Kant who stated: "The yellow Indians do have a meagre
talent. The Negroes are far below them.” I mention this simply to
point out early in the discussion that the mentality that made out
coloured Africans to be lesser beings, existed just as much outside
the church in philosophical (which were often atheistic) circles,
as inside it.
I am uncertain of the origins of abolition in America, in Britain
the anti-slavery movement was stirred into being primarily by the
Quakers and Clapham Sect, an evangelical Christian group in south
London, and reports indicate such other religious groups such as Swedenborgians,
Quakers, Baptists, Methodists and others were involved. For more detailed
reasonig about slavery please go to Appendix 3. CLICK
In the paragraph here there is a very messed up view expressed in
the following: “The cobbled-together ancient
Jewish books has an ill-tempered and implacable and bloody and provincial
god….” I have been reading these books, studying them and writing
about them for forty years. I suspect I am better qualified than this
author to critique them. Cobbled-together? You are joking!
being described as ill-tempered?
What book has this man been reading? In seven different books of the
Old Testament God is described as “slow to anger”. Any reading of
those and most other of the Old Testament books reveals a God who
is incredibly slow to anger. Ill tempered? Not in a million years!
I had to check
my dictionary to make sure I hadn't completely misunderstood this
word. No, it means “cannot be appeased.” God cannot be appeased? What
is the whole of the sacrificial part of the Law about, if it isn't
about putting God at rest about our failures!
Well if you mean
He destroyed the enemies of Israel
who were out to destroy them
for no other reason than they were God's people, yes, I'll agree bloody.
Look back to the
previous chapter where I cited many verses that show God's concern
for the whole world. Making a silly sentence like this simply exposes
the author for his lack of knowledge of the Old Testament.
don't really have a clue what he is referring to in the following
sentences; it is all too general. It leads on to some indistinct comments
about hell that are so indistinct that, again, it is virtually impossible
to make comment. For those wishing to see just what the Bible does
actually say about heaven and hell, I recommend you go to that section
on this site by CLICKING
Slave Trade & Abolition. There
follows some negatives about Martin Luther King which I haven't a
clue about. Sounds a bit like character assassination to me, but the
point is well made that you don't have to be perfect to be a preacher
– or an author making moral points. Incidentally, I think I ought
to come out with it – I think the author is a hypocrite the way he
keeps referring to us as 'mammals'. This is a put-down which I suppose
he has to say if he can't see anything good in mankind, and yet the
whole of his writing infers that certain people are wrong, confused
or whatever, which implies there is right, there is truth and so on,
otherwise all he says is a waste of time – but he doesn't believe
you want to know why so many people have a down on atheism, it is
because it is so negative and depressing. Without God declaring meaning
for mankind, all evolution leaves us with is a meaningless and purposeless
life - that is the logic of it. It is Christianity that declares that
although we are all sinners, we have tremendous potential to be amazingly
further replies to his ongoing comments about the slave trade, please
see Appendix 3. CLICK HERE
Abraham Lincoln. I'm
afraid my knowledge of Lincoln (like many others if what I read is
true) is sketchy and therefore as much as I'd like to, I think it
better if I say nothing about this section. Apologies.
Slavery again .
Comments here are really covered by Appendix 3. I find no evidence
to support the author's claim that King's actions had little to do
with his theology. It is always possible that King did drift from
his faith to secular activism but the references to the FBI recordings
sound dubious to outsiders, especially in the light of Hoover 's dislike
of him. Not a very helpful section really.
Emancipation of India.
This is really a section
about Hinduism versus Islam and as such I feel beyond the scope of
my comments, which I seek to restrict to matters pertaining to Christianity.
Denial of virtuosity through religion. This
starts with a rambling and then confused suggestion about virtue.
To say that the virtuous behaviour of a believer is no proof for the
truth of his belief, is true in as far that such proofs lie elsewhere.
What is tragic about this whole chapter is that the author uses the
atheist's standard gambit of picking on fallible men or women and
decrying them instead of examining the lives of millions of men and
women who have become Christians and had their lives utterly transformed
for good. He could have also examined the lives of countless
pioneers in medicine, hygeine, health care, education, worker protection
and social care generally, who happened to be Christians and just
happened to be doing what they did because of their faith - but then
that would run counter to his thesis really!
It should be noted, and it is a shame that it needs saying, but there
is no claim of perfection here, but there is a claim of people generally,
as they become Christians, making a purposeful change of direction
and, with the enabling of God, starting a process of change for the
good. Sometimes that is a dramatic change, other times it is less
dramatic. Sometimes it happens very quickly and other times it takes
time. This, we need to repeat, doesn't mean these people are instantly
perfect and they will still have many quirks, foibles etc. that everyone
has, and it will take time for those to be changed for good. Yet,
from the start, their intention is for good.
Many are the accurate stories of alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes
or just common criminals who, having encountered the good news of
Jesus Christ, responded to it and were totally transformed, being
set free from addiction, crime or whatever. There are also increasingly
more numbers of those who were not in such states, but nevertheless
had their lives transformed from aimlessness and even hopelessness,
to purposeful, fulfilled and fruitful lives, benefiting the rest of
mankind when they encountered God through Jesus Christ. Unfortunately
all of these millions of people get totally excluded by the atheist
when they are pontificating about those with especially large feet
This part develops into a rebuttal of the thought that rejection of
faith leads to unbridled immorality. The case of A.J.Ayer and Bishop
Butler is cited and both Ayer and the author completely misunderstand
(purposely?) what Butler
was saying. It can be comprehensively shown that societies that abandon
faith very soon are on shaky moral grounds, as our present societies
in the West reveal with evidence being put forward almost on a daily
basis of the breakdown of society following the abandonment of faith.
It is simple and it is obvious.
one hand the author speaks of us as mere mammals and the next tries
to give us some nobility by denying what the Bible calls sin, that
tendency towards self-centredness and godlessness. The proof of the
pudding is in modern crime rates, and rates of family breakdown and
all the ills that go with that. Yes, there may be people like A.J.Ayer
(and the author?) whose lives stand shallow scrutiny and claim they
are ‘good' but such people don't know themselves.
the way, the author uses another of the atheists' gambits: “When
priests go bad, they go very bad indeed and commit crimes that would
make the average sinner pale.” Now this gambit makes out religious
leaders of a particular brand (‘priests') a potentially worse hazard
to humanity than any others. I believe this is total naivety, and
possibly wilful naivety, that seems to say, a) these are the last
people on earth you would expect this from, and b) because of all
their repressed sexuality there is a greater likelihood of them going
a portrayal denies the thousands of priests, vicars and other church
leaders who are the epitome of integrity, honesty, and purity. There
is within this a failure to realise that such men are still men and
they have the same struggles as any other men. While I do not think
celibacy is a requirement for holiness or consecration and that it
does put burdens on men that were not God imposed, I hope I have the
grace enough to recognise that many of these men are very godly, very
gracious and very good!
the unleashing of restraints by our society (coming as I have previously
asserted with the large abandonment of faith in society), it is no
surprise that child abuse has come to the fore, both within certain
parts of the Church and outside of it – and I challenge the assumption
that it is more inside the church than outside it. It certainly should
be considerably less and the fact that there have been, and probably
will be, cases of abuse coming to light in a part of the Church, simply
acknowledges the humanity of these men, who face the same temptations
as those outside the church. That's not to excuse them but understand
The author next
cites Evelyn Waugh as a person whose “most wicked
elements arose precisely from his faith” and “these
deformities… arose not in spite of his faith, but because of it.”
He cites this writer who happened to be a Catholic and gives a number
of illustrations of his shortcomings. The only thing is that he doesn't
say what Waugh actually believed. He hints at a number of things but
all of them run completely contrary to traditional, historic Christian
belief. A danger within Catholicism, more than any other Christian
grouping I believe, is that it can be, and certainly is in many parts
of the world, more of a cultural thing rather than a set of clearly
defined Biblical beliefs, and I suggest that Waugh's misdoings as
cited, were the outworking of a man who had cultural beliefs with
very little spiritual understanding underpinning them. This is the
atheist's gambit of choosing and pillorying a religious non-Christian.
goodness: To heighten
the sense that religious people go off the rails, the author contrasts
Waugh with Robert Ingersoll, a good atheist. No one is saying that
atheists cannot be good, but if we used the same technique as the
author, we would point out that many of the word's evil men have been
atheists in practice.
Abuses within Africa.
I am not sure the purpose
of what follows in the accounts of happenings in Africa because he
sets up his own defences for the bizarre goings on of those who would
seek to put a Christian or semi-Christian face to their misdoings.
Africa often appears as a continent where Christianity is used and
abused in the most extreme ways possible. Tribal conflicts and cultural
misdeeds have often sought to operate under a religious flag. A genuine
Christian flag it has not been! To balance it, I have a number of
friends who know Africa better than I do, and they maintain that Christianity
has done an incredible amount of good on that continent. Little more
needs be said.
Pope John Paul II and the Church's guilt. The
chapter closes with cynicism. Taking Pope John Paul II as his subject,
the author observes the apologies he made before his death, and observes
that these are proofs of how “the Church” got it wrong and, indeed,
now it has made it right by confessing these things, they are now
free to continue to be infallible all over again! What he fails to
observe is that the apologies concerned “organisational religion”,
specifically that of the Roman Catholic Church, when faith had given
away to politics. This is really THE criticism that can be made
in respect of those who purported to be examples of the Christian
Faith but who managed ‘organisations' and were more concerned with
political or cultural issues rather that the fundamentals of Biblical