I like playing Sorcery Quest more than I like singing in church

I promised a friend of mine that I would go to church today, so I picked a 7 PM evening service and in the meantime, I’ve been playing an online game called Sorcery Quest (but they only give you 20 minutes a day to play! Boo!) and listening to those apologetics lectures that I ordered. Suddenly, it occurred to me that I don’t want to church but would rather stay home and play Sorcery Quest and listen to apologetics lectures instead.

One of those 3 activities is not like the others.

Which one doesn’t belong?

  • Playing Sorcery Quest
  • Listening to apologetics lectures
  • Singing in church

I’ll tell you which one doesn’t belong: singing in church. Because that’s for girls.

That’s right, I said it. Singing is for girls. But Sorcery Quest and apologetics is for boys.

Sorcery Quest

Let’s take a look at the blurb on the Sorcery Quest web site and see what Sorcery Quest is about.

Here’s the web site blurb:

Create a group of adventurers and embark on a fantastic journey where you will fight evil monsters and gain experience, find treasures, gold and fame, create your own guild, and, if you dare, enter the arena and challenge other players!

Here is a promotional video:

Here is the text from the trailer:

  • Ten locations to visit
  • Twenty character classes to choose from
  • Over 60 unique monsters
  • Collect more than 100 items
  • (Fight!) Classic gameplay
  • Turn-based combat
  • Explore a vast world filled with treasures
  • Play today for free

This is what boys like. Adventure!

Christian apologetics

Now I’ll write up a similar blurb for Christian apologetics.

  • Hundreds of universities, workplaces and restaurants to visit
  • Dozens of arguments to choose from across various academic disciplines
  • Hundreds of unique monsters, including university professors, feminists, fascists, Hollywood celebrities, left-wing journalists and village atheists
  • Collect thousands of magical books, debates, and lectures
  • Classic gameplay – gain experience, build your skills and assemble a team of brave adventurers to wage war on evil behind enemy lines
  • Turn-based combat
  • Explore a vast universe filled with powerful, effective scientific and historical evidence
  • Play today for free

I could go on and on about how exciting defending the faith is! Apologetics is something that boys like as much as they like Sorcery Quest or reading the Lord of the Rings. Adventure! In fact, Lee Strobel’s new book is all about public, personal apologetics being adventurous!

The feminized church

Now here’s a similar blurb for the feminized church, which is nothing like either Sorcery Quest, or Christian apologetics. (Note: this is exaggerated for effect)

  • Never learn any of the excellent reasons why the Bible is reliable or trustworthy, or even how to test its claims
  • Believe things without anyone explaining why you should believe them
  • Avoid discussing the evil happening in the world, and don’t make plans to do anything about it
  • Avoid discussing anti-Christian, anti-liberty policies being enacted by Obama
  • Help people to feel comfortable with their lack of engagement by talking about the weather, television shows and movies
  • Avoid hurting people’s feelings by expressing your views, or worse, by disagreeing with them
  • Sit next to screaming babies who need their diapers changed
  • Sing songs about your emotions with a crowd of strangers who will never talk to you about anything interesting
  • Have your aggressive male nature and apologetics knowledge suppressed by stuffy, insecure church pastors
  • After the sermon, hear about everyone else’s home renovations, children’s graduations and vacation plans

And so on… (add yours in the comments). This is just not going to attractive for boys. We want danger! Adventure! Collecting things! Exploring! Fighting! Winning! Scoring points! But all of that is forbidden in the feminized church.

So, this whole feminized church thing no good for boys.

Fortunately, the church I have to go to is far away so it will be a long drive – which is dangerous. I drive a triple-black convertible roadster – which is dangerous. And the friend who asked me to go to church is a wood-elf Princess – so that’s a quest. (She lines in a rural area, and so I can plausibly imagine that she is an elf). And she already has a reward for me, (a book of some sort, autographed), – that’s a treasure. She may also give me some of the magical elven food that she makes.

So, that’s something, at least. With a little imagination, church could be fun for me.

Maybe something exciting will happen to me on the way to church? A dragon could attack me and I could defeat him and steal his treasure. Maybe a magical sphinx will appear and refuse to let me into the church unless I answer 3 riddles? Why can’t church be more adventurous like that? Why can’t I ever disagree with people in church? Why can’t the whole church ever watch a debate? Why can’t I learn something that I can actually use to fight and win over non-Christians? Why can’t we link what the pastor says with the real world?

My visit to church

I’m back! I got there a half-hour early. The minister was a Reformed Baptist (I’m not a Calvinist, though) and he preached on the meaning of the ordinance of eating bread and wine, i.e. – Communion. And it was great because he explained what an ordinance was, and what a sacrament was, and he occasionally compared the Protestant beliefs with the Catholic beliefs about Communion. But he didn’t try to talk about any evidence for who was right, he just said that different people have different opinions – like tastes in food I suppose.

All the songs were about what God has done, nothing about how we feel about him. So that was good. I even sang “Crown him with many crowns” very quietly. (I sat at the back where no one would notice me). Nobody raised their hands during worship. So that was good. Raising your hands and stuff is just weird, because it just is! Weird! So the worship was right on target.

I took tons of notes. He used 1 Corinthians 10 and 11. Everybody knows that 1 Corinthians is one of Paul’s angry letters, like Galatians. Paul seems to take theology and apologetics so seriously, much more seriously than Christians in church today.

It was a communion service. He told us what we should be thinking about when we take communion (the bread and wine) and what we should not think about. He explained why this was a very serious thing to participate in. This part was really awesome! Because it was judgmental.

You guys can e-mail me if you want to know who the pastor was. You’ll recognize his name for certain if I tell you.

I went into the church book store, and they had an apologetics section with old-earth books, intelligent design books, William Lane Craig, J.P. Moreland and Lee Strobel. AND THEY HAD DEBATES ON DVD WITH RICHARD DAWKINS AND CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS!!!!!! I took pictures of them with my cell phone! But the theology section was all filled with Calvinism, of course, but I can’t help that. The book store was huge.

My Dad is also very happy that I went to church. I usually only go about once a quarter these days. Normally I go to a non-Reformed Baptist church.

What I thought of going to church

Now nothing I learned today was useful for engaging non-Christians in public, but I learned lots of other new things. It’s important to compare different beliefs and say who is right and who is wrong, and why. He didn’t explain any of the why – no evidence was discussed for anything he said. But arguments and evidence is what makes Christianity interesting!

I do think that churches need to have the occasional service taught by a scholar on an apologetics topic, once a quarter. I insist that it be to the entire church. If only someone could come in and explain to them about the kalam argument, the fine-tuning, the origin of life, the fossil record, irreducible complexity, the moral argument, consciousness, the problem of suffering, the hiddenness of God, the fate of the unevangelized, postmodernism, and middle knowledge.

And they need to cover the minimal facts case for the resurrection once a quarter in the normal service. And they’ll need to talk about abortion, marriage, persecution of Christians abroad, and other issues like that. If you don’t talk about the evidence pro and con, because you are afraid of upsetting the people who are there to have emotional experiences, then you run the risk that people will begin to believe that religion is divorced from truth. That’s what I mean when I say “the feminized church”. When you don’t link it to the evidence in the real world, people think that it’s not real.

How I would fix the church

I am sponsoring a couple of events next year where Greg Koukl will be speaking and he will be allowed to address the entire congregation in two Sunday services. Also, I am sponsoring another event where he will debate in a church. That’s all I wanted! As long as all the people who attend the church get the idea that Christianity is about the real world, and that it’s OK to ask questions, then I am happy. And I have a plan I am executing to help churches be more focused on truth and apologetics.

Right now, we have a shortage of young people, especially men, attending church. My recommendation is that pastors immediately begin involving apologetics material in their main Sunday sermons. And I do mean EVIDENTIAL apologetics, not pre-suppositionalism. Young people who see evidence from the world being discussed in the main church service will get the message that the claims of Christianity are objective, and testable. Right now, the reason they are dropping out is that they are not seeing that Christianity is objectively true.

Personal preferences and feelings cannot be debated. But truth claims can be debated, and that’s adventurous and dangerous.

Further study

46 thoughts on “I like playing Sorcery Quest more than I like singing in church”

  1. I would not go to church either if I had to attend what goes on in many (not all) evangelical places of worship. Watered down gnosticism or as one PHD from U. of Chicago called it “spiritual masturbation”. If you want to know what I mean then read the book “Against the Protestant Gnostics” by Protestant Canadian Phillip Lee. You need to attend an Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgy sometime. The singing is not sentimental and worship involves the use of your body. It is a worship service involving the cosmic battle with the deceiving dragon. Orthodox spirituality is rigorous and not for wimps.

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  2. Eastern Orthodox/Eastern Catholic/Latin Catholic= WIN.

    As for games, if it’s not Eve Online, it’s not worth playing.

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  3. Too bad William Lane Craig goes to church and sings — what a wimp. Too bad all those apologists you are listening to are probably faithfully attending and connected to their local churches… too bad they don’t stay home and play video games as well. They would be so much more mature if they stayed home!

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    1. And Bill loves singing too! I asked him. He looked at me like I had two heads when I told him I didn’t like singing.

      But to be fair, I do think that it is one thing to chastise me, and I accept it, but it’s something else to deal with the dearth of men in the church who do love to play games. What do you have to say about that? How are you going to make church more like The Lord of the Rings? Let’s hear a plan!

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  4. “All the songs were about what God has done, nothing about how we feel about him. I even sang “Crown him with many crowns” very quietly. (I sat at the back where no one would notice me). Nobody raised their hands during worship.”

    I LOL’d at this and the rest. That’s how I feel at a Latin Mass or at an Eastern Catholic Divine Liturgy.

    You’re obviously not Catholic, but you may want to take a look at a thread over at Neil’s blog, where I’ve discussed (in general) what liturgy should and should not consist of. You might find it thought provoking.

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  5. Wintry,
    Your pretty well read in politics and apologetics but you need to study the subject of liturgy. It’s time for you to go a little deeper in this subject. It will deepen your worldview. Please take my comments as a simple suggestion. I enjoy the blog. Keep up the good work.

    Joseph

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  6. Joseph, evangelical churches definitely exhibit some gnostic tendencies, but Eastern Orthodoxy is almost pure gnosticism. Many of the Orthodox even reject a biblical view of sin (violation of God’s law, and the resulting and objective guilt following that violation) and the doctrine of substitutionary atonement.

    I’m with Wintery Knight about the songs and sermons without substance. But the answer is to engage the Bible more thoroughly, not to become even more mystical. Eastern Orthodoxy would probably be the exact opposite of what Wintery Knight is aiming for. Mysticism is the epitome of femininized religion.

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Drew!

      I really, really, really don’t like mysticism and gnosticism!

      What I like is linking what the Bible says to the real world. Getting to know God as a real person, and then trying to adjust how we live in order to accomplish the things he cares about. And this includes my personal life as well as public policy.

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    2. Drew,

      Huh?

      How about some sources on, well, all of that.

      Further, mysticism is not the epitome of feminized religion. Emotivism is. There is a difference.

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  7. Wintery,

    For someone who professes to value rationality and apologetics, you certainly have some strange ideas about gender stereotypes.

    Do you have any evidence (aside from the number of women vs. men in churches) that men (or as you put it, boys) like “danger! Adventure! Collecting things! Exploring! Fighting! Winning! Scoring points!” any more than women?

    I found that when I freed myself of ideas about how men and women are supposed to be, I was able to be exactly who I am. Maybe I’m aggressive at times or thoughtful; sometimes I like playing video games or running. I like building things; I like singing along with CDs. I cook, and I read, and I hang out with my wife. Just about none of those things has anything to do with my gonads.

    Seriously, where is the evidence to support your characterizations of all men and all women?

    I think when one tries to force one’s personality into a preconceived, narrow interpretation of what one thinks one should be based on archetypal constructs formed when one had a very immature mind, the only possible results are frustration, insecurity, and self-loathing.

    In short, free your mind.

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  8. Oh good grief, Billy, don’t you hang out with women AT ALL? You’ve said you’re married, so I guess you at least have that much going for you! But of the activities you listed, singing along with CDs is about the only one that’s even remotely girly. (Sometimes people consider cooking girly, but that’s just because of the American tradition where the housewife generally stays home and makes supper.)

    As a general rule, men are more *active* than women and more *logical* than women. All you have to do is go to a basketball court to see proof of the former, or look at the college enrollment figures in technical fields to see the latter.

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    1. Drew, I’ve hung out with lots of women. There is no evidence to support an assertion that men are more active nor more logical than women. On average, men have greater muscle mass than women (a direct result of androgens) which gives men advantages in contact sports like basketball. There are lots of socializing influences that probably affect how men versus women participate in pick-up games. There are numerous reasons for disparities in numbers of men and women in certain fields; it is impossible to attribute those differences to a simple difference between men and women.

      There have been some studies that show actual differences between men and women (such as height or muscle mass or even psychological phenomena such as risk-taking,) but even then, there is generally considerable overlap and only minor average difference. I guess what I’m saying is that the default hypothesis should be that all humans are essentially the same instead of assuming a gender difference without any evidence.

      One thing I found troubling about the post was that it’s very easy to substitute “active” and “passive” for “masculine” and “feminine” (respectively) and read the passage the same way. I don’t think this is a judgement-neutral delineation, and it easily can be used to perpetuate gender discrimination. To fall back on scientific-sounding reasoning, like “we all know that men are more aggressive, therefore…” is intellectually lazy because it does not apply the limits of the scientific observations to the implications. I think it is a lot like how some people married scientific information about genetics to prejudices about races to form eugenics – a wholly unscientific pursuit.

      In other words, I think it’s necessary to always check your assumptions. Are they supported by evidence?

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      1. Why don’t we see women playing basketball against each other? You seriously want me to believe that it’s all due to society?

        Liberals try to convince us that the only differences in gender are the physical genitalia. I just don’t think that’s realistic.

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        1. Like I said, I think we should assume that humans are the same unless evidence suggests otherwise.

          You’ve never seen women play basketball together? Or run, ski, play soccer, volleyball? Is there something specific about pickup basketball you are trying to express? Considering that on average, men have more muscle mass and are taller than women, I think it would take a particularly gifted woman to have the confidence to play against a bunch of men, but I’ve seen the occasional woman who plays pickup too – some have even made me look pretty uncoordinated (not that its that much of a stretch.)

          So, how do you figure I’m a liberal?

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        2. I didn’t say you’re a liberal, and I didn’t say women should be playing against *men* either. And of course there will be exceptions, but you know perfectly well what I mean, and that it contradicts your theory of sameness.

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          1. I don’t know what you are saying that contradicts my “theory”. I am saying that the burden of proof should be on the person who holds the “theory” that there is a difference.

            You’ve never seen women play basketball? I’ve seen lots of women play lots of sports. Do you think that on average men are more athletic than women? More competitive? I haven’t seen evidence for either.

            In any case, I think its hard to think of anything particularly feminine about the description of church that Wintry didn’t like and characterized as “feminized”.

            In this country, many churches avoid discussing politics because they receive a tax break for being non-political. Even if a pastor did talk politics, I don’t figure he/she would talk about any “anti-Christian, anti-liberty policies being enacted by Obama” because they just don’t exist. Maybe the churches Wintry has attended just don’t agree with him. I don’t see how that makes them feminine.

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    2. One gender difference I think is supportable is that on average men are much better at quoting movies; whereas, women, on average, find this annoying and tiresome. I haven’t seen this study published yet, but I’m pretty sure its only a matter of time.

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  9. Drew,
    Where are you getting your information about the Orthodox Church? There is a lot of misinformation on the web and in some Protestant pamphlets about the Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church fought gnosticism in the early centuries of the Church and still stands against gnosticism to this day. The Orthodox Church uses the term mysticism differently than is popularly understood. Mystical is just another way of saying the spiritual life. So anyone who believes that man has a spiritual aspect to his life, believes he has a mystical life. Concerning the atonement, there are many different views of the atonement as C.S. Lewis pointed out in his book “Mere Christianity”. The Orthodox Church teaches the doctrine of recapitulation which includes aspects of sustitutionary atonement. The Protestant view of the atonement is built on Anselm of Canturbury so it is unfair to judge the Orthodox position which was established before Anselm came on the scene of history.The Orthodox Church takes the fact of sin very, very seriously but the Orthodox Church does not believe that we are personally guilty for Adam’s sin though we bare the consequences (sin and death) of Adam’s sin. Have you ever attended an Orthodox worship service? Just wondering.

    Roll Tide,
    Joseph

    Hey WK, Drew is off base here. Take a look for yourself. Read the sources. You know better than to believe a Tennessee Vol.

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    1. If you believe in substitutionary atonement, that’s good to hear. I’ve talked to several Orthodox online, however, who deny the doctrine. They teach that sin is not guilt for our misdeeds but rather a “disease.” And whereas Christ can die to pay the penalty for our guilt, he obviously can’t do so for a disease. Subsequently, these people think they have to work their way out of the disease in order to become righteous before God. The Bible, on the other hand, says that we deserve hell because of our violations of God’s law, but that Christ paid the penalty for us. It also teaches that human flesh is *completely* diseased with a sinful tendency — in fact, so diseased that we can *never* fully work our way out of it (See, e.g., Philippians 3:12, 1 Corinthians 15:50-54).

      Anyway, if you believe all that, then good for you. But I’ve dealt with some Orthodox people who denied pretty much 100% of what I just said.

      And yeah, I’ve been to a Russian service once. It was interesting, kind of like a musical sermon.

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      1. Considering I didn’t even mention “original sin” in my post, you have absolutely no idea of knowing whether I misunderstand it.

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      2. I felt my above comment needed just a bit of clarification.

        One thing that tends to shock many life-long Protestants is to discover that the mysteries of the faith can be expressed in ways other than the exact formula that they have been taught. Insisting that the exact formula we have are the only authentic expression of faith would be a tradition of man. From the earliest days the Church has expressed the inexhaustible mysteries of the faith in many ways. We need look no further than the Holy Spirit’s inspiration of 4 Gospels.

        I don’t mean this as a slight to you, Drew, but the mysteries of the faith can be expressed in ways other than the exact formula that you have been taught. Since the mystery is inexhaustible, the ways of expressing it are also inexhaustible.

        If your starting assumption is that you understand theology that is essentially 1800 years old (the Orthodox aren’t big on “new” ideas), originating from a different language a different cultural context and a different way of thinking, and then are going to judge that theology on the standards of this era and this era alone… well, you’re going to find yourself absolutely not understanding the Eastern Orthodox all the while insisting you absolutely understand the Eastern Orthodox.

        Being a westerner you are very formed in the western method of thinking about things (which was largely mediated through the Catholic Church, so on matters of faith we have a cultural habit of being very precise, specific, and detailed). Orthodox theology really has very different fundamental approaches to just about everything. The primary focus of the overall orthodox view is on the Incarnation as the single most important event in history. From there, they will go on to view the Incarnation, Jesus’ life, ministry, death, and Resurrection all as one event, with the Incarnation itself taking on a special and unique role as the first point in the ‘one event.’

        Let’s go to the issue of sin.

        In the west we use the term Original Sin, which mostly has its origins in Augustine as a fully fleshed out theology of man’s sinfulness. It exists in bits and pieces going back to the Scriptures, and to early Church Fathers such as St. Irenaeus of Lyon and even earlier to St. Justin the Martyr. Because of the West’ hyper-focus on logic, considerable ink has been shed on the topic of original sin. Aquinas will give you the best historical overview, and the best explanation of how original sin is passed on.

        In the East they use a terms like “ancestral sin.” Though the origins of the term are sometimes debated, the concept and term are clearly in use by the time of St. John Chrysostom and St. Cyril of Alexandria. They recognize (like was recognized in the west) that sin had been committed in the Garden of Eden, and that man had fallen because of this. Further all humans now suffer because of this, and for this reason terms like disease will be used.

        However, the difference in theology really comes out when we ask the question: are all humans guilty of Adam’s sin as well as their own sins, or merely of their own sins?

        The Eastern Fathers (Cyril especially, though my memory is a bit weak on Greek Fathers) will say “We bear only the guilt for our own sins.” A big concept in Orthodox theology is the concept of “Theosis”, the rising to participation in the Divine Life, which is what all humans are created for. Adam, being the father of all humanity made a choice by his sin, and as the head of the household (so to speak) the entire household suffered from his decision. Therefore, as scripture says, all are now subject to death by his sin and breaking away from participation in the divine life.

        From that point on God is working in history to restore this relationship with humanity (each Covenant in salvation history being a greater pull towards participation in the Divine Life), and finally sends his own Son to be the head of a new household. And we who are baptized now belong to Him. This is, of course, achieve by His death on the cross and His Glorious Resurrection.

        We will share in that Resurrection, and at that point we will fully belong to the New Creation, sharing fully in the Divine Life the way God had always desired. But first the disease must take its course, and we must die (like Christ died) so that we can raise again (like He rose again). He asks nothing of us that He Himself did not undergo.

        This understanding of a sacred Mystery is entirely compatible with scripture. Scripture does not claim that all men are guilty of Adam’s sin, rather, it simply says that all men suffer the effects of Adam’s sin and are guilty of their own sins. As such, we all are subject to death, which is a disease, and what the west calls “disordered desires”, or the propensity to continue sinning even though we have been born again in Christ.

        I hope it is now easier to understand a bit where they are coming from, and even why they seem to place a greater emphasis on the Incarnation. The new King has come, eventually we will all be a part of the new household. The view is not out of a desire to mitigate the sacrifice of the cross, but rather indicates the deep and abiding trust that the Orthodox faith instills in a God who is utterly a mystery.

        As a general rule, I tend to regard the Greek Fathers interpertations of Scriptures in high regard. Many of them fluently spoke the language of Scripture, and were still immersed in essentially the same cultural context. In general, those who were within 3 or 4 generations of the Apostles have pretty solid claims on understanding what was and wasn’t scriptural.

        I hope this helps. Sorry if it seems snarky (it’s not not to be), I’m just channeling some old dry theological writing from years past.

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        1. Now, LCB, please don’t be mad at me. PLEASE, I’m begging. Mysticism is not for me. I believe in the laws of logic and in empirical evidence. I am not intending to be mean, so please don’t be unhappy with me. I’m not judging you, but I am just not into mysteries, mysticism, emotions or anything that defies reason or evidence.

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          1. “And when his disciples, James and John, saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”

            But he turned and rebuked them.”

            I shall not call fire down upon this blog upon the advice of my Lord and Savior.

            :-D

            Seriously though, I think we are using the word “mystery” in different ways, because mystery doesn’t mean involvement with mysticism the way that I use it. What do you mean when you use the word?

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          2. Thank you! I’m sorry to disagree with you.

            By mysticism, I mean things that break the laws of logic or contradict physical evidence or are purely subjective experiences.

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          3. Don’t worry about disagreeing with me, it’s not a big deal.

            Could you tell me more about what you mean by mysticism, perhaps provide examples?

            Also, what do you mean by “mystery”? Just trying to understand your position is all, not setting you up for one of those long word by word takedowns that you’ve read elsewhere ;-)

            Those are reserved for people who need a harsh encounter with the muscular side of Christianity.

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          4. I’m replying to my own comment to apologize for not replying to all your comments.

            However, I found a Bill Craig Sunday school lesson on sacraments and ordinances where he does EXACTLY what the pastor did, but in Sunday school. This is why I liked the sermon because you were getting Sunday school material in the main sermon.

            Here is the MP3 from Bill Craig’s “Defenders” class.

            I am definitely going back to this church. If I can get Sunday school in the main sermon, then I am into it.

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          5. No need to apologize, I get a bit rambly on some topics :-D

            I’m glad you’ve found a church where they take the faith and the duty to teach it seriously.

            As a Catholic well versed in scripture I find it just infuriating when priests or deacons preach wishy-washiness. It’s POSSIBLE that, in the past, I’ve slid a copy of certain sections of Ezekiel under office doors (44:23)

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          6. For example, saying that Jesus “died for our sins” while denying penal substitution would be mystery. But it’s not just the mystery part I object to; it’s the fact that denial of penal substitution almost invariably produces works-salvation.

            I’m with you about original guilt, though, as are more non-Calvinists. I’m not even sure why you brought up that issue.

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          7. “it’s the fact that denial of penal substitution almost invariably produces works-salvation.”

            Theologically, much of Orthodoxy is the same as it was in the era shortly after Nicea. The Orthodox were busy believing what they believed before anyone had come up with the idea of penal substitution. For about a thousand years or so before those debates really became major debates in the West. You talk about penal substitution, they don’t know what it means.

            “I’m not even sure why you brought up that issue.”

            I brought it up because that is the real heart of the this particular debate between East and West. If we accept the Eastern conception, then we regard sin as a disease, with death as both the enemy and part of the disease. Christ’s cross and Resurrection serve as a victory over death and sin (providing us with a way out, and bringing us into life with God), and as such our focus is going to be on:
            1) His initial coming (the Incarnation) and
            2) His victory

            In the west, because we have a different approach on the matter of what type of guilt we have, it leads to a totally different perspective. In the West we give glory to God for the specific act and means of salvation which has allowed us to have friendship with God. In the East they give glory to God because they have salvation and friendship with God.

            Salvation-by-works is a western conception and just has no meaning to the Orthodox because, since Jesus’ life, death, and Resurrection are viewed as one event, it is that one event that brings about salvation. Salvation has occurred (death has been defeated by Christ Victor) in their perspective, and now we begin the process of being saved– which means the process of entering into the Divine Life (Theosis).

            In general, I find that this is a matter that causes some vexation among various Protestant friends. Scripture doesn’t say that we all bear specific guilt for Adam’s sin, yet the whole of Western redemption theology is based around that concept.

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    2. Saban rocks, and Michigan State was lucky to have him. Alabama should be in good shape this year. The only thing I don’t get is are the elephants in the tide?

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  10. James Payton who is professor of history at Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ontario has written a very informative introduction on the Orthodox Church titled “Light From the Christian East:An Introduction to the Orthodox Church”.The book is published by IVP. Payton is not an Orthodox Christian but does a good job of presenting what the Orthodox Church believes. I recommend it to anyone who does not know anything about the Orthodox Church but is curious to know at least some basics.

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  11. Billy,
    For what its worth,
    “The story of how Alabama became associated with “elephant” goes back to the 1930 season when Coach Wallace Wade had assembled a great football team.

    On October 8, 1930, sports writer Everett Strupper of the Atlanta Journal wrote a story of the Alabama-Mississippi game he had witnessed in Tuscaloosa four days earlier. Strupper wrote, “That Alabama team of 1930 is a typical Wade machine, powerful, big, tough, fast, aggressive, well-schooled in fundamentals, and the best blocking team for this early in the season that I have ever seen. When those big brutes hit you I mean you go down and stay down, often for an additional two minutes.

    “Coach Wade started his second team that was plenty big and they went right to their knitting scoring a touchdown in the first quarter against one of the best fighting small lines that I have seen. For Ole Miss was truly battling the big boys for every inch of ground.

    “At the end of the quarter, the earth started to tremble, there was a distant rumble that continued to grow. Some excited fan in the stands bellowed, ‘Hold your horses, the elephants are coming,’ and out stamped this Alabama varsity.

    “It was the first time that I had seen it and the size of the entire eleven nearly knocked me cold, men that I had seen play last year looking like they had nearly doubled in size.”

    Strupper and other writers continued to refer to the Alabama linemen as “Red Elephants,” the color referring to the crimson jerseys.”

    also, The name “Crimson Tide” is supposed to have first been used by Hugh Roberts, former sports editor of the Birmingham Age-Herald. He used “Crimson Tide” in describing an Alabama-Auburn game played in Birmingham in 1907, the last football contest between the two schools until 1948 when the series was resumed. The game was played in a sea of mud and Auburn was a heavy favorite to win. But, evidently, the “Thin Red Line” played a great game in the red mud and held Auburn to a 6-6 tie, thus gaining the name “Crimson Tide.” Zipp Newman, former sports editor of the Birmingham News, probably popularized the name more than any other writer.” From http://drphilgood.tripod.com/tradition-mascot.html

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  12. Okay Wintery! Now my comment is not gonna be as thought provoking or anything like the previous comments. I’ll keep it simple. I know you blogged about the greatest commandment, didnt you? It talks about loving God more than anything or anyone else. Anyway, there’s also a commandment about remembering the Sabbath day and keeping it holy. Even during Jesus’s time, the Pharisees had weird ideas of keeping the Sabbath day holy, yet Christ went ahead and corrected them. He never once avoided going to the Synagogue’s despite people not doing it the way He knew His Father would like. Because, that was His Father’s commandment and to be fair, He tried correcting their misconceived notions.

    Now, in Paul’s letter to Ephesians, it is mentioned that Christ is the groom and we the Church, you and me, are His bride. We as Christians have made a commitment with God of undying love. Now you were saying in another blog post of yours that wives should stick to the commitment made to their husbands in marriage and do certain things, whether it satisfies their personal needs or not, because they are obligated to do them in marriage. You even claimed that was love which I still disagree with. So, as Christ’s bride, aren’t you obligated to do what He requires you to do whether it satisfies your masculine instincts or not? According to your own blog, it doesnt matter whether you like it or not, in marriage you’ll have to compromise and do what is expected of you. So are you disagreeing with yourself now?

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    1. No, no! I woud never, ever make a case that people should not go to church.

      For me, it is an emotional problem. I have had certain experiences being shut down by the church, and seeing other people shut down, when we were trying to improve the church through apologetics. We wanted to invite speakers, arrange debates, show debates and lectures, and generally bring everyone up to a certain minimum level. We were opposed and still face massive opposition. I’ve written about it in those links at the bottom of the post.

      Basically, the church has become feminized, so that there is no room for talking about what is really true by appealing to logic or evidence. You can’t even have disagreements. And this is really bad for the church. In the long run, a church that focuses solely on happiness and feelings will not survive. And that’s what you see today, especially in the liberal and mainline churches where this is even further advanced. Soon, there will be no men at all in the churches. And when there are no men, the women will eventually leave.

      Great argument though.

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      1. Depend upon it Wintery, even if all the men in the world stop going to churches, I’ll still go. I love Christ too much to let mere men’s absence cause me to stop going to church. Having said that, I dont approve of churches focusing solely on individuals’ happiness and feelings either. It totally beats the purpose.

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  13. Drew,

    Gnosticism denied the goodness of matter and so the Incarnation and the Resurrection. Orthodox bishops going back to Ireneaus of Lyon (180 AD) have vigoriously opposed gnosticism. Furthermore, Orthodoxy includes material objects in worship to such an extent as to make any claim of gnosticism laughable.

    I do not know how we can reject the biblical notion of sin since we preserved and canonized the bible itself. I think you mean that we reject what Protestants believe is the biblical notion of sin. What we reject is a retributive and penal view of justice. Our view of more consequential as found in say the Prophet Jeremiah.

    We don’t deny substitutionary atonement since the Christus Victor model is a species of the substitutionary genus. What we reject is the penal model invented at the Reformation. The Christus Victor model was the prevalent view across continents in Christianity for the first thousand years. I suppose you can think the bible is unlcear on the atonement and no one read it correclty in the original languages for a thousand years or more, but I don’t find that plausible.

    As for mysticism, that depends on what you mean by the term. We do not endorse a kind of mysticism which negates reason or the disolving of the self into the abyss of the divine. Such is the view more akin to Buddhism. Rather we affirm that God is incomprehensible in essence, which is a thesis in general that all Christian traditions affirm, we just disagree on how and in what sense God is incomprehensible. We think reason has a limit since a person is not a mind and we know this since Jesus is a divine person with a human soul and intellect. Personhood transcends and undergirds intellect.

    I can’t imagine a more non-feminized religious experience than Orthodoxy with icons of Angels as soldiers, and an all male priesthood. We don’t even permit women altar servers, lay eucharistic ministers or women to even clean up the altar area.

    Sin in the Bible can be used in a wide sense of corruption or in a narrow sense of an act. Sinful acts bring about death. Just a remission of sin will not address the fundamental end of death. Christ can and does go into death (think the Matrix) and conquers it from within in his resurrection, which has a good amount of biblical support.

    Acesis or denial through fasting and other practices are not works done apart from grace. The Orthodox affirm sola gratia, but like Augustine we believe in grace we can increase our standing with God. That is Pelagianism only if Augustine was a Pelagian, which is absurd. The Bible is sufficiently clear that our good works in grace “please” the Lord. Unlike Protestantism which posits a created righteousness as an intermediary between God and man, we believe that we receive God’s eternal righteousness and not a created substitute. God doesn’t need a created intermediary to save his people, unless you advocate Arianism.

    It is quite true that the body is tained with sin in terms of corruption, but so is the soul. The body is not the source of sin in any case. The devil sinned and he had no body whatsoever.

    It is not mysterious to say that Jesus died for our sin and deny penal model of atonement. Plenty of people did it for centuries long before the penal model was invented. All of the fathers who condemned Pelagianism, including its archenemy Augustine didn’t hold to a penal model, but a Christus Victor model and they most certainly didn’t believe in Pelagianism. So your assertion that a denial of the penal model produces works righteousness is absurd on its face I am afraid.

    It would be helpful to treat other positions as you would wish people to treat yours, especially before you condemn it to the flames.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. When I think of feminization of the church, I am thinking of opposition to debate and disagreement.

      So what I am looking for is a focus in the church on engaging in disagreements inside the church and also training to engagement in disagreements outside the church.

      Can you address how this need to write books on apologetics, have public debates and host conferences on topics like intelligent design is addressed in Orthodox or Catholic belief systems?

      The knock on the Orthodox church for me comes from reading Russian literature, such as Dostoyevsky. These seemed to me to be focused on piety, populism, sentimentality, mysticism, and fideism. I could not stand reading The Brothers Karamazov, because I became so infuriated with the “good” characters. I actually believe that if Dostoyevsky’s view is standard for Orthodoxy, then it is no wonder that communism was able to take hold in the Soviet Union. I have never seen more opposition to reason and evidence in an author than in Dostoyevsky. Worse than Charles Dickens!

      For me, a Christian should have a mind like Sherlock Holmes. Thinking things through and solving mysteries using deductive arguments and premises supported by observations and experiments, and not ashamed to do so. That’s religion.

      “There is nothing in which deduction is so necessary as in religion,” said he, leaning with his back against the shutters. “It can be built up as an exact science by the reasoner. Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its color are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.”

      Sherlock Holmes, in “The Adventure of the Naval Treaty”

      Not trying to be mean, just trying to come out with it. Is there an Orthodox Lee Strobel, and what is the Amazon.com rank of his books?

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  14. This post bothered me, and I think I finally know why.

    I’ve been reading your blog for several months now, and while you have discussed at length about apologetics and politics, you have said very little about prayer life and worship.

    I’m not saying that you have no prayer life and do not worship, WK, I’m just saying that it is barely if ever reflected in this blog, as far as I can see.

    Apologetics is important, and I really like your take on it. I think the idea of defending God’s honor from a chivalrous point of view is a unique and valuable way to look at the subject.

    I also think that it is imperative that we as Christians apply our beliefs to the political process.

    However, it is spiritual poverty if one thinks that his whole Christian life revolves around debating atheists and voting for politicians who agree with Michelle Bachman.

    That’s NOT how I think of you, WK, but that is seemingly the focus of most of the posts on this blog. You are certainly allowed the perogative to bring the focus of your own blog to any topic you deem fit, it has become noticeable to me that you SEEM to have little if nothing to say about the prayerful/liturgical/and/or/the communal life of a Christian.

    I don’t think I would have noticed that except for this post wherein you admit that you very nearly skipped Sunday church services to play a video game.

    Plenty of people have piped up in your comments box, suggesting where you ought to go to church. I have a very definite idea where you ought to go to church (the same place I do), but I think that, to start, you need to first begin regular Sunday worship at a specific church.

    Defending God’s honor is important, but so is worshipping Him in a Christian community.

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    1. Thanks for you helpful and gracious comment.

      You’re write about all the good things you mention.
      I think that someone helping me to be accountable would help.
      I would not dispute you at all on the substance of what you said, you’re right.
      I think I could improve on all of the things you mentioned.
      I am taking steps to address that right now!

      It’s funny that you say that I emphasize these other things that you don’t think are important – but I am not even good at those!

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    2. Thanks for you helpful and gracious comment.

      You’re write about all the good things you mention.
      I think that someone helping me to be accountable would help.
      I would not dispute you at all on the substance of what you said, you’re right.
      I think I could improve on all of the things you mentioned.
      I am taking steps to address that right now!

      It’s funny that you say that I emphasize these other things that you don’t think are important – but I am not even good at those!

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