Monday, March 30, 2015

Billy Graham: King Jesus

Q: Why didn't Jesus flee once He knew His enemies were out to get Him, instead of openly appearing in public and almost daring them to arrest Him? This has always puzzled me. — S.B.
Perhaps Jesus appeared in public if you are relying on the Bible as your guide. But if we look at history, there's no proof that Jesus actually existed, so perhaps its a moot question. Why does the story go the way it does though? Most likely to fit the narrative the authors wanted to create.
A: Almost from the beginning of His public ministry Jesus encountered opposition, and eventually it led to His death.
Citation needed.
However, during those years He did evade His enemies, because He knew it wasn't God's time for Him to die. On one occasion, He told His disciples, "My time has not yet fully come" (John 7:8).
But only according to an old and terribly inaccurate book...  What could be more reliable than that?!
Why, then, didn't He flee during those final days? The reason is simple: He knew the time had come for Him to die.
Um... But if we go by the Bible as Billy wishes, the story doesn't go as he's suggesting. Mr Graham makes it sound like Jesus knew his time had come and faced it head on without apprehension. but just take a look at Mark 14:32-42...
And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
Here we have a Jesus that is 'deathly sorrowful' and begs God three times that the responsibility of being a sacrifice be removed from him. He may not have run, but he still asked if he could bail on the plan.
You see, only one thing separates us from God, and that is our sin. Our greatest need, therefore, is to have our sins forgiven and cleansed, but how is this possible?
Easy. He could just, I don't know... Forgive.
The only way is for God to do it, and He made this possible by sending His Son into the world to die for us.
1) If God is omnipotent, there is no 'only way'.
2) A human sacrifice is arbitrary and unnecessary for forgiveness, or the honoring of any contract.
3) Ritual human sacrifice is barbaric, and requiring people to accept one as a gift is immoral.
4) Requiring something for forgiveness doesn't make it true forgiveness. That's more like blackmail.

-Brain Hulk

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Billy Graham: Being Critical

Q: Our aunt takes great delight in criticizing others — and not just people she knows (probably including us), but also those she doesn't know (like politicians and celebrities). It gets tiresome listening to her, but what can we do? She's always been like this. — Mrs. D.Y.
What can Mrs DY do? She could try talking to her about it. She could return the favor to let her see how she likes it. She could try changing the topic. There are many things that could be tried or done. I will agree that it can get old when someone acts like a broken record about something. Depending on what it is and how pervasive it is, you may be able to brush it off and think "That's Aunt Suzie..." But other times there might not be much other choice but to ay something in order to get to the root of it.
A: No one likes to listen to someone who constantly criticizes others or endlessly complains about someone or something. The Bible is clear: "Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure" (Philippians 2:14-15).
Well this smells like it's about to get super ironic...
Why is your aunt like this? Often, I've found, people who constantly cut others down do so because it makes them feel superior. Others do it because they want to draw attention to themselves, showing how clever or intelligent they are. Still others think it gives them the right to tell others how to run their lives (although it doesn't). But whatever the reason, a critical, complaining spirit is wrong in the eyes of God.
But wait... Billy weekly tells people how to live their life. In the USA Christians regularly try to legislate their faith so that they may impose their religion on others. They want to tell people they can't have an abortion. They want to force religion into government. They want to dictate what students are and aren't taught in school. They want to criminalize homosexuality, or at least strip them of equal rights and talk of them like they are less than human. A politician that is local to me makes no secret of judging transgendered individuals and sought legal challenge against their rights. The Christians that constantly tell everyone else that they have to live by their Bible, and proselytize door-to-door. Billy recently supported the notion of forcing children to go to church whether they wanted to or not. The irony here is almost too deep to take!

Many of these things are things that Billy and many other Christians support. Yet here he is saying that people shouldn't tell people how to run their lives, and that God himself is apparently against such action. So I have only one question for Billy... How would you like that egg on your face cooked?

-Brain Hulk

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Billy Graham: Time to Change?

DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: I go to church regularly, but I’m very shy so I never talk to anyone or try to make friends. I wish I wasn’t this way. Why didn’t God make me friendly and outgoing, like other people? — L.J.
I can relate with being shy. I've always been rather introverted and guarded. That said, I don't think that one is necessarily not friendly even though they aren't outgoing. I'd consider myself friendly, and when I'm comfortable with someone I'm just like anyone else. I start out shy (even more predominantly in the past), and if you're interesting enough that I want to get to know you, I will. Shyness isn't about not wanting to 'get out there'. It's more about not feeling able to for whatever reason.

Sure, being shy can lead to awkward small talk. But it also means that the relationships you do have will be much closer and meaningful to you than most of the other relationships that more outgoing people have. But be warned. That closeness can hurt much deeper should things go south.
DEAR L.J.: We’re all different — from different faces to different personalities — and as I’ve sometimes said, the world would certainly be boring if we were all exactly alike! I don’t know why God made us this way, but he did, and he loves us in spite of our differences.
So basically, "God made you that way, and he knows what he was doing so you better embrace it"? That's not exactly the way I would have worded that sentiment, but I can go with the general idea. I feel that far too many people are hung up on being like someone else. So much so that we may lose sight of what makes us uniquely special. That's not to say that change should be avoided though. Sometimes change can be quite good.
Instead of spending all your energy wishing you were someone else, ask God to help you become the person he wants you to be. To put it another way, God doesn’t want you to remain withdrawn and friendless; not only will you hurt yourself, but you’ll also hurt others by never reaching out to help and encourage them.

Read more here:
Instead, he wants to help you, little by little, to overcome your shyness and enjoy the company of others.

Read more here:
Wait, wait wait! First he said that God made LJ just how he intended him to be, then he tells him to ask God to help him become who God wants him to be... Well, which is it!? Did God make him how he's supposed to be, or didn't he? I realize asking this question of a person who follows a book that is flowing deep in contradictions is a folly of a task, but ask I must. So which is it Billy?

-Brain Hulk

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Billy Graham: Repeat Prisoner

Q: I've just been released from prison for about the fifth time. Every time, I've said I'd change and not fall back into my old ways, but I always do. What's wrong with me? I know you'll probably say I need God, and maybe I do, but what difference would that make? — M.R.
Change can be hard, even if doing so is in our best interest. It sounds to me that MR does need to make some life changes. Though that is impossible to say with certainty how serious these changes need to be without knowing what he's  been repeatedly jailed for.  Does he need God? If he's writing Billy Graham for advice, my guess is that he probably already believes to some degree. But will God help with his problem? Statistics would suggest that God wouldn't be a help at all...
A: Yes, you do need God, because without him you have little hope of ever changing your life. You've tried without success to stay out of trouble on your own, so why do you think the future will be any different?
It never ceases to amaze me how quick Billy is to openly belittle people and underestimate their own abilities. It's quite sad really.
What difference will God make? First, he'll give you a new purpose in life. Right now, your life revolves around one person: you. But when we come to Christ, we're no longer the most important person in the world to us. Christ is. 
So Christians in jail should be a rarity if that is the case. But that's not the case. In the USA, Christians actually make up the majority of the prison population (over 50% of prisoners, in fact).  And what about atheists? According to Billy we must be filling prisons with our evil ways. Yet we find that only 0.07% of the prison population are non-believers.

It's even more interesting when you look at the general population vs the prison population. When you compare the percentage of atheists in the general population to the percentage of atheists serving time, the ratio is almost 10 to 1. This means that there is a wide disparity between the two populations. A disparity that shows that the overall atheist population percentage is just about ten times the prison population percentage. So we are well under represented in prison.

For comparison's sake, most Christian groups showed a ratio close to or exactly 1:1. Meaning that their law-breaking population mirrors the ratio of the general population.

Now some have told me that the Christian numbers are only high because these people found faith while in prison. But that argument fails when you look at the recidivism rate in the USA. The Five year recidivism rate for various offenses was recently found to be as follows:

Property Offenders = 82%
Drug Offenders = 77%
Public Order Offenders = 74%
Violent Offenders = 71%

So if these 'prison converted Christians' found Christ, it still doesn't help the religious claim of moral superiority, since the majority wind up right back in jail again. So God didn't do anything to make them any better people after all.

The truth is that religion doesn't automatically make you an any better or more moral person. That comes down to the individual. And if the stats are telling us anything, lack of faith stacks up pretty favorably in the lawful department.

-Brain Hulk

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Billy Graham: Blind to Faults

Dear Rev. Graham: My boyfriend and I are talking about marriage, but he worries me sometimes because he'll never admit he's wrong — even when he clearly is. He always blames someone else for his problems, and never admits they might be his fault. Should I be concerned? — K.H.
KH should be very concerned. If this relationship is to progress to marriage, it is almost a guarantee that her boyfriend will eventually start blaming KH for things, if he hasn't already. This can be very damaging to a relationship, and if they should marry I fear that it would end up either being unhappy or a short lived once the blame game starts. If they are serious about marriage, they need to talk about this. It is entirely possible that KH's boyfriend is unaware that he even deflects blame as he does. It could be a learned behavior or coping mechanism that he now does purely instinctively. If that's the case, there is a possibility of change. But if he does it knowingly, then the likelihood of a healthy marriage swiftly dwindles.
Rev. Graham: Yes, you should be concerned, and one reason is because if you do get married, he'll probably end up blaming you whenever he thinks anything is wrong.
Good advice. But now time for some more good advice for this particular situation, but is also quite ironic...
But I suspect other problems are involved here, too. Someone who's blind to his or her faults is driven by pride, and may even get angry or upset when others disagree with them.
Like many of the believers I've encountered in my debates?
They also resist changing their ways, even when it would be in their best interest.
Like every believer that has been adamant that they can't be wrong, and would never consider that they could be wrong?
Instead of accepting personal responsibility for their decisions and actions, they stubbornly insist that their way is always best, even when it obviously isn't.
Like all the believers that ignore or deny any evidence that is layed out before them? That refuse to consider examples of the terrible flaws in Biblical morality and the benefits of  man-made morality?

Yes, it's important that KH gets to the bottom of her boyfriend shifting blame. But Billy must also look inward and take the same stance the next time a Christian group claims that a natural disaster or other terrible act was either the fault of homosexuality, or the tolerating thereof. That they are shifting blame too, when an atheist group wants preaching Christianity taken out of a public school.

The group is not to blame for wanting the law upheld. The blame is with whoever put the preaching where it didn't belong in the first place, and those that fight to continue the violation of the law.

So don't try and shift blame. Own your mistakes and learn from them. That goes for everyone. Including Christianity...

-Brain Hulk

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Billy Graham: Love the Unlovable

DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: I’ve heard that the Bible tells us to love others, but everyone in our family agrees that one of our cousins is impossible to love. He’s obnoxious and conceited, and no one likes being around him. How can you love someone you don’t like? — C.B.
The simple fact is that 'like' and 'love' are two different emotions. A parent could have a super-brat for a child. They may be so bad that they are impossible to deal with. While they may probably admit that they don't like the child, or that they failed somehow, they will also likely say that they still love them. Of course there is also the interesting fact that the Bible also contradicts the aforementioned call to love others...
DEAR C.B.: Yes, the Bible certainly tells us to love others, even if they aren’t very lovable. When Jesus was asked which were the most important of God’s laws, he summarized them in two commands: to love God and to love others (see Mark 12:28-34).
But that's not the whole story now is it... Jesus is on record in the Bible as saying, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even their own life--such a person cannot be my disciple."

So if we are to do as Billy suggests and follow Jesus, that puts hating this cousin on the table.

The Bible also says that Jesus said, "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law--a man's enemies will be the members of his own household."

So considering that, is it now arguable that not liking this cousin could be one way of following Jesus. He came to divide families after-all. So divide away!

Seriously though... The real answers are in why this person isn't liked. Is there a misunderstanding? Is it a mask they are hiding behind in order to conceal some kind of pain or sadness? Talk to this person and let them know you care. In fact, the question that is being asked was answered just by being asked. CB obviously cares about this cousin at least to some degree, otherwise they wouldn't be asking this question. So yes, one can love someone who doesn't appear likable.
God loves us not because we’re perfect or even likable, because we aren’t... And unlike our love for others, his love means he always wants what’s best for us, although we don’t deserve it.
Please explain to me why believers often claim that atheism is the world-view full of despair and meaningless? Here we have a very well known Christian saying that every person ever in all of history has been 'unlikeable' and 'undeserving of love'... Please explain to me how a religion that
starts from the premise that we are all unlikeable and unlovable, and worst still, don't deserve love is a positive force.

To me, it makes Christianity sound very depressing. If this was the view of only a single person, we'd say they have self-esteem and depression issues. We'd suggest medication, counseling, and maybe consider them a suicide threat. But then again... The whole Jesus deal does kind of make it a suicide cult, so maybe it does make sense in a way.

-Brain Hulk

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Billy Graham: Christly Business

Q: A prominent businessman in our town makes a big show of being an active Christian, but over the years many people in the community have learned not to trust him. Does the Bible say anything about people like this? — Mrs. M.K.G.
What does the Bible say? That despite this man not actually being trustworthy, he will go to Heaven as his reward... No matter how many he's hurt (to whatever degree) with his untrustworthy ways. And quite frankly, that should be worrisome.
A: I’m always saddened whenever I hear of someone who claims to follow Jesus but has a bad reputation because of the way they live. It’s not limited to those in business, of course; anyone can bring shame to the name of Christ by their moral or ethical failures.
But hey, he believes in Jesus as his lord and savior, which is the requirement Christianity places on admittance to eternity in Heaven, so what's the problem? The real problem is that Billy is blind to the fact that the true failure is the Christian reward/punishment system.
Some of Jesus’ strongest words were directed at those who claimed to believe in God and follow His law, and yet denied Him by the way they lived. On the surface, they may have appeared good and righteous, but in their hearts they were selfish and unconcerned about others, and it showed in their actions. Jesus condemned them for their hypocrisy, and warned us not to be like them. He said, “You hypocrites!... You have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy and faithfulness” (Matthew 23:23).

Don’t let this one person’s failures keep you from Christ, and don’t use someone’s apparent hypocrisy as an excuse to turn your back on Him... Make it your goal, therefore, with God’s help, to become a consistent and compassionate follower of Jesus.
There's a huge problem at play here... Billy often says that God expects no less than perfection. He also says that we must also follow God's laws. The cruel irony is that there are rules in the Bible that directly contradict each other. So following the Bible faithfully and still remaining perfect (by its standard) is an impossibility.

The Bible says that it is wrong to lend money with interest, and to lend money without interest. It demands that you answer, and not answer fools. You are supposed to love your enemies, but also
destroy them. It calls not to judge, and also includes instruction on judging. Believers are instructed to argue as well as not argue with non-believers. It's a book that says not to kill, and to kill. The Bible even says that it is both possible and impossible to keep the law! There are many more where those came from, but I believe that point is made...

But the bigger issue is that Christianity offers no incentive for self improvement, since belief is all that ultimately matters. Even with all this businessman's apparent flaws and 'sin' he gets to go to Heaven just because he believes. Yet everyone who gets to know me has typically opined that I am both kind and trustworthy. But that doesn't matter to God. I don't believe, so I go to Hell. In no way is that approaching justice.

-Brain Hulk

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