Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Atheists are like snowmen that don’t believe in the sun. Good luck.

THAT IS THE IMPORT OF DOUGLAS WILSON'S upcoming work, Heaven Misplaced: Christ's Kingdom on Earth (Canon, 2008). I do not like it. It is not very likeable. (Though I like the snowman implication, even if it is not his image). And yet I think it speaks the Truth; for, honestly, before reading it I vehemently disagreed with his side of the debate, and after reading it I vehemently disagreed with his side of the debate. And then time passed, my Christian life went on as before, and at numerous moments I found his case - at times very sloppily argued here - plainly made much greater sense of Holy Scripture, and much less of an ass out of the reader of Holy Scripture, and contributed much greater glory to the Lord of Hosts that I have quite unconsciously and unzealously, but I think irrevocably, adopted it. (Though not quite to the fullest extent). That said, this book does remain at times infuriating, and may not be the best method of introducing it to others.

The debate is apocalyptic. It is about how the world will end. Atheists are like snowmen that don’t believe in the sun, because Christ - argues Wilson - will do exactly what we celebrate he will do at Christmas-time, with all that talk and carolling of epochal change, hope consummated, peace on Earth and goodwill amongst Men. “[T]he gospel will continue to grow and flourish throughout the world, more and more individuals will be converted, the nations will stream to Christ, and the Great Commission will finally be successfully completed … And then the end will come”. The sun, as he has elsewhere put it, has risen - because the Son has risen - and as it climbs the sky, whilst at first near-imperceptible dawn, it will at last become undeniable noon. It will get harder and harder to not believe, as the Holy Spirit goes to work, and the sinful world is subdued to serve the risen Lord.

Beneath the "fold" of this post, if you will, lies a serious review of the book, so I warn all those who hated my previous posts on this man and his work to acquire a handful of clothes pegs and suitably attach them to their face in advance; and gratify you by reiterating the fact that this is of course the third and last, and much delayed, such meditation.


AS WILSON POINTS OUT, this is not exactly the majority view amongst the faithful. For most, “the world is God’s Vietnam, and the return of Christ consists of the few lucky ones [getting] helicoptered off a roof during the fall of Saigon”. Some of his arguments, however, are better than others at attempting to persuade said faithful to switch sides. And that Vietnam remark - which made me chuckle at first (for it’s fairly accurate) - will come back to haunt him.

It is perhaps fairest to put his best ones forward first.

1) It is promised. The scriptures he arranges and explicates for this are many, and heart-warming, but can be summed up with the famous greatness of Isaiah 11:6-10.

6The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

7And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

8And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den.

9They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

10And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.


Matthew 28:18 and 1 Corinthians 15:25-26 are great reinforcements too. He quite rightly points out that all these seem “so over the top that most Christians just relegate [them] to some time after the Lord comes again. That is the only way they can see that a fulfilment could ever be possible”. But scripture does not allow us to do that. The irresistible fact is, for instance, that St Paul quotes that Isaiah passage in his epistle to the Romans, “as a justification for his preaching to the Gentiles”. (See Romans 15:12)

That is, now is the time of fulfilment! The Christian era - with its pastors, apostles, evangelists - is pre-eminently the slow achievement of this Isaiah prophecy, all thanks to the surpassing grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Father of Mercies and the work of the Holy Ghost. Slow, perhaps, maybe achingly at times, and with reversals - and from our time now, where it is surely not more than half-done, difficult to think of how it might practically be achieved - but steadily advancing - and it will at last have the most glorious promised victory. Here is some wind for our sails, and oil for our lamps!

Either we believe this or we don’t. I couldn’t at first. It is natural, perhaps - for utopian (not to say Christian socialist) bunk about the reformation of human nature, the establishing of heaven on earth in five years’ time, etc, etc, belongs squarely in the gutter of history, whence valiant men have spent numerous centuries punching it. But these are pagan aspirations and should not of a right bar us from thoughts that only at first sound similar; just as we surely do not think the greasy hypocritical Televangelist denies the possibility of true earnest faithful men.

We should remember how much better things have been before, when Christianity was much more widely diffused in our country. The nation was not righteous and religious in all things by fiat and theocrat, but by inclination. Church spires rose everywhere; novelists like Trollope did all they could to “bring every thought” of their public “captive into obedience with Christ” (just read his justifications in that resplendent Autobiography to see what I mean); and men wrote in the floor of the Houses of Parliament that “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” (Psalm 127:1, AV). So I think a quiet faith, sensible of this hope, and modestly acknowledging that it will take many generations before it is accomplished - and we are perchance still, in the long run, the early church - is quite consistent and normal with a clear-eyed conservative view of the facts of fallen mankind. It will come by the hand of God, not man. The fact of a small band of Jewish ‘heretics’ spreading their faith the wide world o’er, conquering the hearts of every kind of nation and people … in but two millennia, and it still being the largest faith, and the fastest growing, is supportive evidence enough for me. It is in the hands of the Lord. The rest coming true is no less improbable than what has happened so far. Soli Deo Gloria. And such Gloria!

2) It is lovely. He includes a basic gospel exposition spread over numerous chapters, rejoicing warmly in the well-known elements, but adding this perspective and so rejoicing even more warmly; repeating what we know, and adding what we have not seen, thereby in many respects putting the ‘good’ back in ‘good news’. I would have liked this to be more organised and explicit about what it is doing (because it is unannounced, and leaves the main thread hanging, it feels slightly awkward). But it is all very good.

3) He also excellently tidies up both Christ’s promise that he would return before “this generation passes away”, and the Book of Revelations. For the former, he notes, it must refer to an act of God, involving his Son, that happened before that generation passed away. He marshals a superb case for AD70 and the destruction of the Temple, with the establishing of the Church as New Jerusalem, fitting the bill; and does so in a way which ineluctably glorifies the Lord, for it was a major prophecy, made by him, and majorly fulfilled.

As for the latter, long the site of bewildering, appalling exegeses, he calmly and logically explains its various tropes as being met both in the gospel story itself and the first century. This does not deny it can be read in terms of what may happen in the future. It is not scripturally fallow and spent, having been fulfilled (though hatefully Wilson does not help the reader avoid that idea, which comes naturally). History, being the sum of the paths of men and the will of God, will repeat in many ways. Its principles hold. Revelations is a vivid kind of allegory of the gospel conquest; and so of course must have many future applications, as well as comforting properties, and all thankfully shorn of the trembling jowls and panic of the would-be prophet, seeing helicopters in scorpions or writing badly-written heresy.

ALL OF THESE ARGUMENTS, and the whole book itself, have the immense value of imparting a key and overdue change in the general Christian posture. It is a cause for standing up straight, when many are crabbed and crouched.

Many modern Christians suffer from a strange weakness of belief. In our portion of the globe Christendom is in disarray; you might even be tempted to think the Cross totters (but it stands forever); and there comes upon the mind of men a strange disposal to thinking, whether consciously or not, of God as small and troubled (or else big and a kind of pimp for prosperity; that is, in fact, equally small). Both such wild diversions have the same thing in common: lack of a long-term perspective in which Christ's victory is a victory of the kind he talks of, and like all real victories, one in which we get to enjoy some true peace (of the kind he talks of). One believes the peace will come in some vague sense which is so vague it is as much as saying 'not at all'; the other believes it must have come already, and therefore must mean something like free Ferraris. And there are simply too many people, too, who, shorn of this perspective, look about and believe that Satan is the ruler of this world still; are more willing to ascribe omnipresence, omniscience and infinity to him, in warning us of his demoniac ways, than they are to bless the name of God; but “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out" (John 12:31, AV). The world, the flesh, and the devil are thorns in our sides - and we sometimes seem to live in a landscape comprised entirely of cacti - but to magnify such thorns, and not the fruits of that fateful thorn, the spear slung in the side of Christ, whence “blood and water” sprang, and all that means, is utterly and everlastingly perverse.

This mistake affects everything from our childish liturgy and worship, to our measly preaching and enervated evangelism. It is no wonder that the best we can do, for a God whose infinite sovereignty, victory and glory - and explicit Word - we profoundly (sometimes unawares) doubt, is pathetic and half-hearted. We are the most tentative fishers of men known in history; and think that, to catch a man, a few tables of interesting literature, perhaps a fantasy novel full of whizz-bang allegory, maybe 'living a life that provokes questions' (zzzz) will do the trick; but we forget that we follow in the stead of a man who made such a catch of fish the nets overflowed. The expectations are different - or ought to be. The methods are, as with the fish, as with the men, His Word.

The new posture, argues Wilson, (without admittedly stating the kind of opinions above) is the old posture and message of Paul: one that
“topples the princes of this world, and everything that previously had been under their jurisdiction, and this mean[s] the arts, politics, education, scientific investigation, building fences, cooking, and anything else that men might do. Rightly understood, preaching Christ and Him crucified is as broad as the world … In thinking about the greatness of the Great Commission, you do not ever have to worry about overdoing it”
. My cynicism rebelled at this at first; maybe yours will too; but it strikes me now that to not have faith in this, when men have had much fruitful faith in it in the past, is tragic and unnecessary.

NOW THE BAD THINGS.

The first problem is that he doesn’t elaborate his arguments against probable objections. He expresses a wish in his introduction to make it congenial and sympathetic to us, by presenting it simply and straightforwardly; but he really should have done some defensive work as he went. Misunderstandings and unnecessary opposition are provoked on nearly every page in a work like this - that is, one attempting to supplant another devoutly held view. Most Christians don’t just simply believe something else; along with that, they are naturally suspicious of opposing claims. As it happens, Wilson’s opposing claim has many historical antecedents to comfort the sceptic (I think Jonathan Edwards, for instance, would have been very sympathetic). But it is only through serious patience and charity not of my own resources that I have not simply set fire to the manuscript at times. In his introduction he tries to wriggle out of this important job by saying skeptics should relax and just try and imaginatively appreciate his vision. This is all well and good: by the imagination has an opinion too; it's why novels have morals.

Along with this goes his propensity for slaying straw-men. He slaughters whole armies of scarecrows in defence of his arguments, but does not allay genuine concerns. Why, for instance, detect and destroy the notion in opponents that “human history is basically all the same … Things go on pretty much as they have always done … the resurrection being a completely anomalous event in an otherwise unchanged world”. This from the writer who, a paragraph previously, wrote that the “resurrection was one small, tiny part of the general resurrection to come”. Who is it truly with a warped sense of the resurrection’s importance? Surely if it is numerically a tiny part of the general resurrection, it still remains vast and central; the first fruits and so the very seeds of all the rest.

It would be boring to go through all the rest in as much detail; the worst though must be put down. And God's Vietnam is probably the worst. For he rightly - but belatedly, in a brief passage, by-the-by, almost at the end - stresses that if this view is not like the more popular view in thinking of this world as being God's Vietnam, it is only really the ending they disagree over. There will still be suffering for Christ; there will still be death for Christ; the road, as he puts it, lies through the cross. It will be a heavy task, and there lies in many veins saintly blood that must be spilled to win it. It is no easy thing. This is quite right. This is terribly important, especially to keep the reader from mistakenly thinking he is preaching anything contrary to the tribulation, suffering, labour - and weight of glory - that is at the heart of orthodox Christianity. But for the amount of words and passion he expends on this, it sounds about as troubling as a mosquito bite.

The last problem is a great deal of muddled obscurity in the writing. The whole thing feels hazy at times; some of it makes a very infuriating semi-sense, and has to be very generously interpreted to be anything other than idiotic or meaningless. He begins vigorously enough, but soon is wibbling and digressing and floating free. It is most un-Wilson-like.

E.g. after much diversion from his central matter, he states that Christ as judge “is the resurrected victim of a judicially-rigged murder. Christ is returning, and He is returning with deliverance from the old ways of death disguised as ‘justice’”. Right. What? This I can only take to mean a deliverance from the Law - in which we were dead, with the semblance or ambition of righteousness or “justice”, and into Grace, where it truly is found and accomplished. In other words, but a classic point of the New Testament… But it comes across as a random disquisition against capital punishment. Time would fail me to tell of the idiocy of such lines as “Salvation of the world doesn’t mean salvation of each and every person. But it does mean salvation of the world.” At one point he says that America needs a saviour, and Christ is a saviour, "therefore the nation will be saved". That seems to me one of the largest non sequiturs ever committed to the page. And it is lousy stuff to say we must let NT writers tell us how to treat OT texts, and then reverse this a few chapters later (i.e. don't make rather arbitrary rules, only to contradict them). Similar sillinesses abound. I am not sure why. It does not meet Wilson’s usual standards. It is gravely disappointing.

Heaven Misplaced also has a rather digressive, disorganised, torrential organisation - chapters leaking every which way, making irrelevant points, or too many points, or impertinent points - which makes me suspect, alongside all these issues, that it is a touched-up transcript of a talk or lecture series. There is nothing wrong with this. But they haven’t been touched up enough.

ANYWAY. It makes its points. And they are agreeable. They are not at all essential. He does not make them irresistible. I can think of many points where his interpretation of scripture need not be the only one. But it is the more convincing one. And, as I said, the picture, when you have internalised it, fits so smartly, glorifies so largely, and inspires so lastingly, that I am strongly inclined towards it. This is not a very good basis for belief if it is merely (as he unadvisedly says it can be) simply because it is excellent if true. It fits smartly. That’s important.



And at the heart, I feel, of this instinctive opposition to his arguing it will all literally, specifically, in human history come true, is the fact that at our historical moment it seems so unlikely. Yet I dare not say it is impossible. It warms the heart. The Holy Spirit can do all things; has done so much already; in less than half a century he has, for instance, called more than 100 million Chinese out of darkness and into his everlasting light. This is a miracle of astonishing proportions. So to the men and women of far futurity, faithful once more, the glory of the Lord abiding in their hearts, and the Lord ever glorified in their lands, able to read this from Google v. 509, I bid you a hello from a true Dark Age!

Heaven Misplaced is due for release on December 16th, and shall be available from CanonPress.org

36 comments:

David Byers said...

What a load of garbage! Firstly he labels people into one group and then uses the ideas from a book (The Bible) written by men who thought the world was flat, and was the centre of the universe, to back up his "arguments".

Humanity is far too divers to be pigeon-holed is this simplistic way. Where is his empirical evidence to back up that the Bible is true? Does he even know that there are many religions that pre-date Christianity that had a man who was the son of God, who was put to death and then went to Heaven etc. One of these ancient religions that bears many striking similarities to Christianity still exist in Iran “Zoroastrianism”.

But even putting all that aside we return to the bottom line question for these types “Where is his empirical evidence to back up that the Bible is true?”

Sir Walter Scott said...

The empirical evidence is in the Bible. Read it. Spend as much time considering it as you do dismissing it, and you will not fail (I certainly hope not) to be moved by its own internal evidence, and so touched by its own spirit, depth, wisdom, love and passion, as to find it impossible to believe otherwise than that it is imparted by the very Spirit of God Himself.

I have read many hundreds of books, perchance thousands. Not one - not the finest poem - not the finest novel - not the best Dickens - worthiest Shakespeare - cleverest philosophy - or precise and delightful naturalism - so stirs the heart, convicts the soul and lifts the spirit.

I admit I fear you won't read it, but will simply reply (or someone else will) with some easy, baseless cavil about contradictions, error, or whatever, with either no example or an example so insultingly misused as to drag the dialogue of this already edgy comments thread into even more Australian depths.

Haha.

David Byers said...

Scott, firstly I have read lots of the Bible particularly the New Testament. I think you fail to understand the meaning of empirical evidence.

Anyway where is the evidence that a character called Jesus was physically raised from the dead? Look things like “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is great, live by that but remember it comes from Buddhism and Confucianism and who know where they got it.

There is so much information out there in the world, if you chose to look at it. Archaeologist over the last 200 years have unearthed so much about the history of the many religions that the only rational conclusion one can come to is the one religion influences the next one man makes up.

The reason that man has made up all the religions of the world is that there is a greater reality, it was just that man did not process the knowledge he does now, or the scientific method he does now, to understand it in a rational way.

Religion is strange when you think about it; they all claim they have the absolute true and there is so many of them. I would hope most modern people could see through that. There are many in the Anglican Church that know it is not literal and just push the good message of Love and that is at least an improvement.

Sir Walter Scott said...

Love is meaningless if you deny the single greatest act of love in the Bible (which would be the Son of God's crucifixion for all our sins).

I see what your saying, but only someone who hasn't truly experienced Christianity from the inside could say it and believe it. To me it's laughable. Once you have known the surpassing Grace of the "Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world", your fine theories might as well be spoken in Esperanto for all the sense they make.

The Christian religion is much more than some fumbling articulation of the numinous. I'd say that all other religions are fumbling articulations of it.

Sir Walter Scott said...

That should be "what you're saying".

Adrian Kidney said...

Firstly, what the blazes is this litany of religious promotion doing on a blog which is about monarchy? Surely religious people and atheists should be uniting over this issue to repel the mistaken opinions and stances of republicans?

This is damaging the cause by dividing monarchists.

Secondly, the analogy, much like Pascal's Wager, is flawed. Which god? For what benefit?

And also, the Sun is undeniable as it's visible, falsifiable, and it makes people melt and freeze with its presence and absence. I've known atheists (including myself) who are perfectly upstanding citizens who do their best for their friends and nation; I've also met self-professed religious people who are to be pitied for their self-obsession and bigotry.

In any case, I would strongly suggest this greatly divisive and off-topic subject be stricken and relocated to a religious blog.

David Byers said...

Adrian Kidney, you make some good points. Stick to your guns and don't back down. Suporting the Constitutional Monarchy should not be linked to religion.

David Byers said...

Scott, if you see something in Christianity then fine but do not expect others to see what you do. Keep to promoting the Crown here.

Adrian Kidney said...

Thanks David.

I've already said in an earlier post that while I am myself an atheist, I am sufficiently comfortable in that belief that I do not feel threatened by the religious decorations, customs, history and officialdom of our monarchy; on the contrary, I gobble it up with glee.

I also don't feel the need to preach my atheism to my neighbour, but let them get on with it quite happily, whatever faith they may be.

Sir Walter, I am sure your faith in the Christian God is firm and a wonderful thing to have, but it is not something I share.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much!

Of course I'll add your lynk
Keep commenting

God Bless Monarchism

F. Campos

Sir Walter Scott said...

Dear, dear, dear. We are to eliminate religion from the Monarchist blog are we? But I was fairly sure the French Revolution never got as far as England. How unfortunate.

Anonymous said...

AK: Hear, hear.

SWS: You ask "We are to eliminate religion from the Monarchist blog are we?" Yes. Yes we are. You claim that the Bible is true and anyone reading the thing will see it so- a statement ignorant of the many works disproving the various claims of the Bible. The Bible is demonstrably flawed. If you wish to indulge in the worship of a supposed entity who writes or inspires writings that are untrue, that is your business. However, please, have the good taste to keep from promoting such lack of intelligence to others.

Sir Walter Scott said...

Vive la revolution! Liberty, faternity, equality! Quick... let us storm to the html barricades, wipe Christ from the masthead and links, and erect us a temple of reason! How reasonable!

It is odd, is it not, that atheists, who claim to be set free from silly tyrannies that only made men bad and intolerant, turn out to be, er, bad and intolerant; and much more so than any religious believer I know; certainly more so than anyone religious connected with this site, reader or writer.

I am not overly concerned if you don't like this kind of article. I think it curious that you wish to stand by monarchy - that most vivid and literal links with men of the English past - and yet cannot even allow the presence near you of a piece of writing that discusses unironically what men of the English past would universally hold to be the most essential fact of all: the Great God Himself.

I also warned you that you didn't need to read it. Just there before the fold. Perhaps I should have warned you that you didn't need to comment either.

Adrian Kidney said...

Sir Walter, what little respect I had remaining for you is now depleted.

Did I not say I don't feel threatened by religion? Did I not say I have no problem with you believing what you believe, and that I love the fact I live in a Christian-focussed kingdom with a state church? Did I not say this is a divisive issue and irrelevent to the subject of this blog?

You represent the absolute very worst of the religious. You despise all those different from you. You are no monarchist - you're a fanatic.

I am friendly to the religious and hope the Kings of England remain Christian to the end of the world, but all your doing is dividing the very people you should be courting, and showing what an utter bigot you are.

Thankyou and goodnight.

Sir Walter Scott said...

You, sir, are a model of civility and wit. Some might say the "Thankyou and goodnight" savours rather of a campy stage performance. I would never impugn your post that way.

Can we assume that you were 'anonymous' - i.e. the one I responded to in my last post - after all? I think perhaps it would be better not to have written in applauding your alter ego a post or two before that. It sort of looks stupid.

The idea that the Christian religion - and a true faith in its most noble, comforting, inspirational elements - should be subtracted from a website about the English Monarchy (whose principal job, the Coronation Oath and the 1688 revolution make clear, is to defend the Protestant religion of this realm), is interesting but rather lunatic.

You like Christianity emptied of all belief and life; perhaps it is more polite that way; *but that is also the fastest way to make it absolutely the pasteboard, hollow, childish nonsense atheists lambast the true faith for being*.

In other words: no sell.

David Byers said...

You see this is the problem with religionist; they make very big claims e.g. “true faith” or “a virgin gave birth to a baby that was somehow also God” yet when ask for empirical evidence to back up these wild statements they can not offer any.
If someone came out today saying they were God on earth born of a virgin, you would laugh at them – so why can’t they tell us why it happen 2000 years ago? Why can’t they explain all the other religions that pre-date Christianity that have many of the same stories to them?
The good things like “love thy neighbour” “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” etc. are fine, they are reasonable. The rest is just too silly. By the way even if one believes in a God why does it have to be in the context of a religion?

Sir Walter Scott said...

Haha!

David, you are a small-minded man, and worse - a small-hearted one. Atheists all have an idea of themselves as vast supermen, correcting silly dwarfish religious ignoramuses. But they are quite otherwise.

Can I prove God with a reasonable argument? Many have come close. But I'd first like to see you prove that you exist, using a reasonable argument. Then we'll get on to the bigger things. I'd like, by the way, to see you try.

No Christian in the past 2000 years has ever denied that one must walk across the bridge of faith. But nor has any Christian stopped glorying in the rich pastures, deep, pure wells and splendid horizons that are met there; nor the glorious shepherd that greets us, whose name and title is Christ.

The instructions to do good are no use if we have no faithful relationship with the only Being who can forgive us for our failure, and speed us in our success at such deeds; and can receive the glory of them, thus denying us the sickness of pride.

Anyway. Much as atheists etc find it hard to control themselves, and are largely the internet equivalent of drunkards gatecrashing a dinner party to lecture the astonished guests on their pet theories and conspiracies, I do think in such a civilised House as this one, we might call quits on your nonsense. This thread is not about God's existence, but about Wilson's book. If you have nothing to say about it, you ought to say - nothing.

David Byers said...

Scott, me a “small-minded man” I’m not the one following a book written by people who believed in a flat earth and that that earth was the centre of the universe! I’m not the one making outrages claims like saying that a virgin gave birth to God etc.
I have never labelled myself as an Atheist, call me a free thinker. I’ve heard about all the arguments put forward by religionist and none of them are up to much. I even followed religion myself once and used some of those old arguments until I became honest enough to see that there is much more to the world then religion.
Interesting to hear that you can only be good if you have a religion, makes me wonder what you might do with out it? Here is something interesting to think about; if there was no religion good people would do good and evil people would do evil – but for a good person to do evil it takes religion. Think about it.

Adrian Kidney said...

Sir Walter,

I say again, you're undermining the monarchist cause with this. Religion *can* be an ingredient for a success monarchy, but it's not essential. You're also arguing from the viewpoint of a very devout Christian - but I myself favour monarchies worldwide, not just our Anglo-Saxon one in the Commonwealth. What of Shinto Japan? Or Muslim Arabia?

It's a debate which contributes nothing to the debate on monarchy, as it's a separate debate in and of itself. I'm a monarchist without being religious. That's evidence enough for me.

Anyway, that's all I'm going to contribute to this discussion now. You're a vile little man who hates and fears what he doesn't understand.

Sir Walter Scott said...

What of Shinto Japan? Or Muslim Arabia? I would not waste a minute of my time, or a drop of blood, for the royal houses of either.

"You're a vile little man who hates and fears what he doesn't understand."

Says a man being - well - thoroughly vile; and, er, wanting to expunge entirely all religion from a blog he does not write for, and of which he is only 1/200,000th of its readership, all because he dislikes it.

Your slings and arrows are sweet music to my ears. When atheists are complaining, you know you're doing something right.

David Byers said...

"Sir Walter" is there any reason you can't put your own name to what you write?

It’s funny because had you been born in a Muslim country you would have been a fanatic Muslim, had you been born in Japan you would have been a fanatic Buddhist. It all comes down to where you were born and your personality traits. You’re clearly a blind follower of religion. Yet this simply basic thought, about how ones place of birth and personality influences a person, would never have even entered you head.

I wonder if your also a short man?

Sir Walter Scott said...

"It’s funny because had you been born in a Muslim country you would have been a fanatic Muslim, had you been born in Japan you would have been a fanatic Buddhist."

Perhaps; but then that hardly matters when we believe in an infinite, omniscient, omnipresent Providence, who, amongst many things, of course orders where, when and to whom we are born. That said, you don't believe in the Holy God of Gods, and so are on doubly thin ice.

Why? Well, because in fact Britain, Australia and the Western world is not fanatically Christian, or even particularly Christian, for now, at all. (Thus being born in it in no way explains my faith). But it is fanatically godless, just like you. So I might say that it's all very well stinking up the place with your heathenism, but we all know you can't help it, are but its slave and creature; merely a child of the circumstances and times around you (there not being an infinite, omniscient, omnipresent atheist-god to order where, when and to whom you are born).

The blind automatic faith shoe fits you, not me. Dear, dear.

David Byers said...

Scott, can you please point out when and where I said I do not believe in God? I have stated that I do not believe in religion and their God that sends prophets and acts in time. Think about this, if your God knows everything and is all-powerful than surely he knows everyone who is ever going to be born and everything that happens to them – therefore he would have made people he knew full well he was sending to Hell, what is the point of that?
Can God have a thought he did not know he was going to have? If one answers yes, than God is not all knowing. If one answers no, that God does not have free will. Therefore not all powerful or all-knowing. Now this is simply thinking about God and it is healthy to question.
Maybe you should think more?

Adrian Kidney said...

Sir Walter, your black and white thinking is all too clear. You're an intolerant bigot.

I have made it abundantly clear that I have no issue with religion in the constitution of my great country. I like to call a spade a spade, and I consider Christianity to have contributed a great positive deal to the history and culture of our mutual monarchical heritage. I am quite happy to be surrounded by religious paraphernalia and even quite eagerly pronounce 'God save the Queen' when the occasion calls for it.

I would love for you to point out exactly where I've 'infected' atheist thoughts around. I am *secular* in my reasoning. I try not to let me belief in the absence of God get in the way.

But that's not enough for you it seems. You want me to submit without question to your cancerous, dictatorial beliefs, simply because you want me to. You're not the kind of person who deserves to live under a benign, liberal, and tolerant Christian democracy. You belong in Jesusland, USA.

David Byers said...

Adrian Kidney, don't worry about the one who calls himself Scott, unlike you and I he cannot even put his name to his views.

Sir Walter Scott said...

"I do not believe in religion and their God that sends prophets and acts in time".

Not *much* of a god, then, is he? (And of course, still but being a faithful slave to the atmosphere of the age).

It is healthy to question; however, the most questioning person in the world is the madman, who cannot help doubting everything including reality.

Taken to its logical end, your principle is an absurdity. For I question the merit of questioning. And thus the whole thing collapses.

Anonymous said...

adrian kidney said...
You belong in Jesusland, USA.

That is to the point, isn't it? This 'Scott' character is more in line with William Buckley or American 'neoconservatives'. Facile belief with flowery argument. A disservice to Monarchists.

David Byers said...

Scott, all we get from you is more word play and no substance.

Science will tell us more about God (if there is a God) than religion.

As I have pointed out in other earlier post on different subjects, I accept the evidence of an Afterlife base on research that has been ongoing since the 1870's. This very vast subject if far too big to talk about here. However if anyone has other scientific research to disagree with me than fine, I don't have a big sky God that will send them to Hell for having a different opinion.

Maybe God is a conscious universe and we are an integral part of it, who knows.

As I said before: if “there was no religion good people would do good and evil people would do evil – but for a good person to do evil it takes religion”

Sir Walter Scott said...

"Maybe God is a conscious universe and we are an integral part of it, who knows."

Funny how your serious, reasonable, careful opinions - like R. Dawkins' idea that it's possible the original units of life on Earth were deposited by aliens - merely turn out to be several thousand times more absurd than the much-ridiculed old Christian verities.

I will take the beliefs that have been thought true by more people than anything else in all history - and which have comforted more people, saved more people, changed more people - over individual idiocy, no matter how entertaining.

It's something of a tragedy to turn your back upon the Ancient of Days, and to follow the opinion of this morning. I may "play with words" (another way of saying I am winning the debate), but it is better than playing with myself. Atheism is nothing less. It is rarely anything more.

P.S. I do like the lunatics who are so brilliantly ignorant as to equate Bill Buckley with Jesusland USA, and then think it an insult to compare me with such a gentleman.

David Byers said...

I think the difference between you and I Scott, is that I do not pretend to know it all. I’m open minded enough to weigh things up for myself and consider. You on the other hand claim to know absolutes because you believe in a book written by ancient people who did not have our understanding of the universe. Look at how many people have been murdered in the name of your religion and think!
It is not the good things I object to e.g. “Love thy neighbour” or “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, it is the dogma and absurdities that I don’t swallow. If you want to live in the middle ages that’s your problem don’t burden the rest of us with it.

Sir Walter Scott said...

"I’m open minded enough to weigh things up for myself and consider."

He says - before dismissing the world's (and history's) number one religion as murderous, antiquated and absurd.

This is pointless. The Bible advises us that there are some special fools that are so foolish it is pointless to argue with them. If you *will* march into that everlasting fire, I suppose you will, though of course I pray that in the end you won't.

The trouble is, your position utterly *excludes* the possibility of absolute truth. It isn't neutral at all. Given the obvious importance of absolute truth, should it exist, this strikes me as not at all wise or cautious, whether you believe or not. You claim not to have taken sides; but you have; and tragically, you urge caution, cynicism and unbelief on the *only* thing which truly demands, and is worth, love, faith and glory. You don't even offer it a chance.

Ye are altogether dead in your sins! And such death.

David Byers said...

Listen to yourself “dead in your sins” and a Muslim would probably say the same of you and it would be just as silly. I have offered rational reasons as to why I do not believe in an ancient religion that has noting original to say and lots of silliness, I have shown the things that I believe are valid and how they come from earlier belief systems anyway, yet you still bang the religious drum like all closed minded fanatics.


You have shown no proof that a virgin gave birth to a man who was somehow also God, is it something you REALLY believe?! Why should others just take such a wild claim on faith?!


The universe operates on cause and effect not on some sky daddy who sends people to hell for ever (even though by knowing everything he would then have made such people for that event, as pointless as that is).


Do you also believe in the Tooth Fairy, I mean there is no proof of her existence either so it might just suit you down to the ground? Anyway I’ll let you have the last word as it seems so important to you types

Sir Walter Scott said...

See?

ropata said...

@SWS
Thanks for the very interesting book review. It is a shame that many of your fellows appear unable to respect the faith that historically succoured Britain through many dark trials.

Christianity was embraced by the ancient pagans because it offered freedom from the tyranny of their violent deities. Some historians maintain that the First Great Awakening so altered the course of English history that it probably saved England from the kind of revolution that took place in France. Winston Churchill advised the nation to pray, and the Miracle of Dunkirk is a matter of historical record.

Though many of the great figures of the past also doubted Christianity, they weren't so crass as to castigate or discourage believers, when it was obvious that the churches were of great help to the desperate and needy. These anti-Christian, Voltaire/Rousseau-like diatribes are the sort of thing one expects from from lurid tabloid rags, not from monarchists who supposedly love authority and tradition.

Anonymous said...

Is it a requirement to be a believer in God and the supernatural in order to be a monarchist? That leaves me out. I'm an atheist and have been all my adult life. I'm a snowman that doesn't believe in the sun, eh? I didn't think snowmen, as inanimate objects, were capable of belief in anything. And I thought it was a tenet of Christian faith that one had free will in the matter of one's personal beliefs and that if one does not believe in God and the Christian theology and story (in contrast to the Christian message of ethical principles and right conduct) then that is a matter for that person. Evidently not, we as atheists are abused by Christians (and Moslems) for our positive belief in science and practical human reason. As for 'Christian verities', such as Creationism and the like, they are verities only to Christians, and to no-one else.

Anonymous said...

Is it a requirement to be a believer in God and the supernatural in order to be a monarchist? That leaves me out. I'm an atheist and have been all my adult life. I'm a snowman that doesn't believe in the sun, eh? I didn't think snowmen, as inanimate objects, were capable of belief in anything. And I thought it was a tenet of Christian faith that one had free will in the matter of one's personal beliefs and that if one does not believe in God and the Christian theology and story (in contrast to the Christian message of ethical principles and right conduct) then that is a matter for that person. Evidently not, we as atheists are abused by Christians (and Moslems) for our positive belief in science and practical human reason. As for 'Christian verities', such as Creationism and the like, they are verities only to Christians, and to no-one else.