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White House, State Department condemn Iran on pastor's execution orders
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani shown in an Iranian prison.
February 23rd, 2012
07:59 PM ET

White House, State Department condemn Iran on pastor's execution orders

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) - Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, an Iranian Christian charged with leaving Islam, has received a local trial courts final verdict, according to sources close to his legal team, and may now be executed for leaving Islam.

Jodran Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice, said he was informed on Monday by the pastor's legal team that the final execution order had been issued. At this point, said Sekulow, the pastor could be executed without the legal team's knowledge.

The White House issued a pointed statement on Thursday, strongly condemning the reports and renewed calls for Iranian authorities to release the pastor.

"This action is yet another shocking breach of Iran's international obligations, its own constitution, and stated religious values," stated a release by the White House. "The United States stands in solidarity with Pastor Nadarkhani, his family, and all those who seek to practice their religion without fear of persecution-a fundamental and universal human right. "

Mark Toner, spokesperson at the U.S. Department of State, released a similar statement on Thursday.

"We stand with religious and political leaders from around the world in condemning Youcef Nadarkhani's conviction and call for his immediate release," read the statement.

Nadarkhani, the leader of a network of house churches in Iran, was first convicted of apostasy in November 2010, a charge he subsequently appealed all the way to the Iranian Supreme Court. In an appeals trial in September 2011 at a lower court in Gilan province, Nadarkhani refused to recant his beliefs and later refused to recognize Muhammad as his savior.

Mohammad Dadkhah, attorney for Nadarkhani, told CNN in October that the court has asked Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khameni, the highest religious leader in Iran, for his input. At the time, the move was seen as unusual by the pastor's legal team.

Nadarkhani's case has become the cause célèbre for a number of Christian and legal organizations, including the ACLJ. From small churches to large organizations, Nadarkhani's case has galvanized American Christians.

Voice of the Martyrs, an organization that monitors and attempts to assist with persecuted and minority churches around the world, issued a statement on Thursday that they have seen posts for Nadarkhani to the groups Facebook page grow over the last few days.

But the issue has not been solely spearheaded by Christian organization - Muslim organizations have also been vocal about condemning Iran.

"These types of cases, especially around apostasy, are too frequent occurrences in the Muslim world and as a Muslim, I am appalled," said Harris Zafar, national spokesman for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. "To do this in the name of Islam, I know that this isn't Islam. It is a violation of human rights and it is a violation of Islam."

Zafar, whose organization is considered more liberal than other Islamic communities, cited scripture to make his point. "Whosoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, let him disbelieve," reads the Quran 18:29.

The ACLJ was asked by the pastor's lawyers in 2011 to help publicize Nadarkhani's case, according to Sekulow. Since that time, Sekulow has been in somewhat regular contact with the pastor's legal team and the ACLJ have organized a Twitter campaign called "Tweet for Youcef."

Eighty-nine members of Congress signed a letter condemning Iran for their treatment of Nadarkhani and one congressman, Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pennsylvania, issued a House resolution that if passed would stand as a condemnation from the entire House of Representatives.

Citing the Iranian constitution, the resolution "condemns the Government of Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of religious minorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran and its continued violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."

Among the seven co-sponsors of the resolution is Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota, the first Muslim in Congress.

Though Sekulow said it was a strong sign that the White House and State Department have issued statements, he did tread cautiously when speaking about the future for this case and the volatility in Iran right now.

According to Sekulow, Nadarkhani's attorney's last confirmed their client was alive on Tuesday and are currently working to see if they are able to appeal any further.

"Based on all of the work (Nadarkhani's lawyers) have ever done before, they really felt this execution order is really serious," said Sekulow."His legal team is still trying to figure out if there are any legal routes left, but execution orders being issued is basically when people end up disappearing."

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Christianity • Iran

soundoff (519 Responses)
  1. momoya

    You know, it really sucks to write for fifteen minutes and then the stupid thing won't post. What the f cnn?

    February 25, 2012 at 1:12 am |
    • Bizarre

      momoya,

      It's a shame that one of your posts was lost. I hope that you saved it on a Word doc. or something. There has just got to be one of those forbidden word fragments hiding in it somewhere. Do you need a copy of the list?

      Excellent, excellent discussion between you and Russ. Thank you so much - both of you.

      February 25, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • momoya

      It's weird. I can copy and past the same thing, but it won't post. The only fix I have found so far is to just start over. Yeah, I think it's probably a letter combination thing, but I don't usually see a problem. Oh well.

      February 25, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Bizarre

      Here's a copy of that list - for you or anyone else who needs it:

      Bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN automatic filter:
      Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
      You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters to modify the "offending" letter combinations.
      ---
      ar-se.....as in ar-senic.
      co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, etc.
      co-on.....as in rac-oon, coc-oon, etc.
      cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
      cu-nt.....as in Scu-ntthorpe, a city in the UK famous for having problems with filters...!
      ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
      ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, drift-wood, etc.
      ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, etc.
      ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
      hu-mp… as in th-ump, th-umper, th-umping
      jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
      ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
      koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
      nip-ple
      o-rgy….as in po-rgy, zo-rgy, etc.
      pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
      p-orn… as in p-ornography
      pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
      que-er
      ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
      se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
      sl-ut
      sn-atch
      sp-ic.....as in desp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
      sp-oon
      sp-ook… as in sp-ooky, sp-ooked
      strip-per
      ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
      tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, etc.
      va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
      who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!
      wt-f....also!!!!!!!

      February 25, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Russ

      @ momoya: I'm working today, but I've enjoyed the conversation & see your further responses below. Hopefully we can pick up here tomorrow.

      February 25, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • momoya

      Back atcha, Russ. Just so you know, I do not ever advocate that any believer try to deconvert. You don't choose what you believe; you are compelled to believe as you do. My goal is never to convince a person to drop their faith, and I do not claim that some form of "atheist perspective" is necessarily a better condition than a "believer perspective." I just don't have that desire at all–just to be very clear on the matter.

      February 25, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  2. momoya

    @ Russ
    .
    .
    You said:
    momoya: Xnty is ridiculous, but that does not preclude it being true."

    No, it might be true, but that would mean that god is ridiculous, and that doesn't make any sense at all. If the god of the bible exists he is disgustingly cruel and prone to whims of stupidity. I don't see how christians can trust a god who changes his mind so much and makes so many stupid decisions.
    .
    .
    You said:
    "Archeologically, it continues to prove itself true – even when for centuries it may have been called into question. See, for example, the pool of Bethesda (& how it impacts the dating of John) or the Hitt'ite nation."
    .
    No, certain historical places are shown to have existed. Archeology has not proven any of the bible's stories. Just because we know Greece exists does not mean that their gods existed.
    .
    .
    You said:
    "You repeatedly refer to Christianity as a myth, but it cannot be a myth. It may be a pack of lies, but it cannot be a myth. CS Lewis, a foremost expert in the last century on myths, wrote a famous essay on this problem: "Fern Seeds & Elephants." One major point: no one who reads myths professionally will mistake this for a myth. no ancient myth had such details. you never read Homer saying "Odysseus left the Cyclops' cave around 3:30pm & rowed 3 or 3.5 miles out to sea." but that's exactly the kind of detail you find in the Gospel accounts. it presents itself as factual reportage & claims to bring eyewitness detail."
    .
    The bible is a collection of myths that was compiled over millennia. Don't be so silly as to suggest that other myths have weird details; they do. Interesting details do not make a myth true.
    .
    .
    You said:
    "so the reader is left with one of two conclusions: either this is reportage of events or it is simply lies. but it cannot be a myth. that is claiming that the Gospel writers created a genre with no known antecedent for 1700 years. there's a scientific improbability. the claims are ridiculous, but that's exactly why the accounts report them so carefully as fact with detail. again, unlike any known myth. either history or lies, but not a myth or legend."
    ,
    Your logic is extremely faulty, there. The bible is a collection of stories, some only included AFTER the message was decided on. Some of the stories are probably quite accurate, some not at all, and everywhere in between the two extremes. The stories line up nicely with the myths of the surrounding cultures–that's why god changes his personality so much!

    February 25, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • Russ

      @ momoya:
      1) you said "no, archeological places are shown to have existed & have not proven any of the Bible's stories."
      you can't have it both ways. the criticism you are levying is that the authors were much later accretions w/o knowledge of the original events. the knowledge John displays in John 5 of the pool of Bethesda (which was destroyed in AD 70) was unique to that time period and had to be firsthand. that is part of the story: knowledge of the actual time frame that a later writer could not have known.

      2) "interesting details do not make a myth true."
      no, details don't make myth true – but they do make that literature *NOT a myth!* it's a simple, literary fact. myths don't have such detail. this is a different genre. again, either a firsthand factual account or a lie. it cannot be a myth. actually read CS Lewis' essay. you'll understand why that is in detail. the logic is not faulty. here's an expert on myths telling you this cannot be a myth. as he says: "the reader who says this simply has not learned to read."

      the fuller quote from "Fern Seed & Elephants":
      "Either this is reportage... pretty close up to the facts; nearly as close as Boswell. Or else, some unknown writer in the second century, without known predecessors, or successors, suddenly anticipated the whole technique of modern, novelistic, realistic narrative. If it is untrue, it must be narrative of that kind. The reader who doesn't see this has simply not learned to read. I would recommend him to read Auerbach."

      February 25, 2012 at 12:46 am |
    • momoya

      @ momoya:

      1. No, I've been quite clear. The bible is a COLLECTION of stories, many of them infused with myth from the first telling or somewhere along the line. You know of outlandishly untrue stories that have gained traction in just a few hours, don't you? Gossip? Actual events are mixed up within the myth. Myths need historical anchors and you should be surprised that they exist and claim them as evidence of "truth."

      2.I can't believe how wrong you are. Of course a myth can contain true facts. I think most or all do.

      3 That was one of the dumbest quotes I've read in my life, russ, and I've read some doozies. Please, please, please do some real research on the matter. Narrative naturally occurs whenever humans record events, and narratives evolve according to well-established and inherent rules. It's a function of our human brain; we continually tell ourselves the same story over and over in different forms. As long as you only consider statements that support your opinion you won't get a grasp of good reasoning versus poor reasoning.

      February 25, 2012 at 1:31 am |
    • Russ

      @ momoya: trying to keep some of these treatises shorter today... we'll see...

      1) the Bible is a collection of authors over at least a 1700 year period. there we agree.
      where we disagree: the definition & nature of myth as a literary genre.

      yes, gossip can gain ground – but if they are contemporaneous with actual events, the ancient version of snopes kicks in: correspondence & eyewitnesses debunk a false account. in distinction, myths/legends arise 100s of years after an event, with minimal historical detail. they may actually be based on an historical event, but are so far separated as to have virtually no particular, *realistic* details.

      worthy of note in the Gospels: lots & lots of such "realistic" detail. not just locations or even general actions. the disciples caught 153 fish. the disciples rowed 3 or 3.5 miles out into the sea of Galilee. these sorts of *particular* details are not found in myth. you will not find those kinds of particulars in Homer's writings – which is definitive ancient myth.

      2) in light of that, CS Lewis' argument (which is presented more fully in "Fern Seed & Elephants") is that anyone claiming the Gospels are myth (as a literary genre) has failed to read myth. the hallmarks of that genre of writing do not match the Gospel accounts. the Gospel accounts present themselves as actual reportage of events. as such, they may be lies, but they cannot be myth

      recognizing that fact, Lewis concludes a few things:
      a) anyone claiming this is myth as a genre has not read enough myth. there is no literary genre of fiction with such 'realistic' detail for another 1700 years. so to claim that is the case is not only claiming these writers were geniuses without known antecedent for almost two millennia, but exceedingly scientifically improbably.

      b) those insistent that these accounts are myth solely because they include miraculous events (which the critic considers improbable) have brought that bias to the text. the text itself does not present these events as a-historical. the critic is simply self-projecting.

      February 26, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  3. momoya

    @ Russ
    .
    You said:
    "these are separate disciplines. or are you claiming math answers metaphysical questions? that is moving from subjective human observation (classical science as a discipline) to objective truth claims (scientism as a faith). As Nietzsche famously criticized his fellow atheists: "it is STILL a metaphysical faith that underlies our faith in science."

    I'm saying that the principles of math are obvious and can be used to prove or disprove other concepts in math. God is a horrible communicator because so many people believe so many differing things about who he is and what he wants. You can't do chemistry wrong because it only works one way. God doesn't care to be as obvious as math or chemistry, so either he's fine with the thousands and thousands of different beliefs and forms of worship, or he doesn't care if we believe in him or not. (Or he doesn't exist!)
    .
    .
    You said:
    "in other words, if we appeal to science to bypass religious metaphysical claims, we are guilty of the same thing. science was never intended to do that. it cannot carry such weight. numbers & quant'ities cannot be self-referential – and thereby can never explain themselves. they presume a philosophical underpinning – a metaphysical reality."

    I don't know of anybody using science in such a way. That would be dumb. Science proves a lot of myths wrong in one war or in multiple ways. Current science limits the ways in which the bible can be interpreted. (You can't believe in a young earth and the flood, for example.) Since science shows portions of the bible to be wrong it makes sense to doubt the things that cannot be tested by science. (If the flood didn't happen–even though jesus said it did–you should doubt the rest of it).
    .
    .
    You said:
    "science that subst'itutes for faith is no longer science – it has become a faith (scientism)."

    Duh. Who would do something that stupid? Faith is believing in something without evidence or in spite of evidence to the contrary. Science works on continual doubt. You doubt the whole way until you the facts prove that there's only a few similar solutions or one great solution. If you doubt a particular stage of evolution, science ENCOURAGES you to work with the data and do your experiences and improve on the theory. Of course, just like every scientific theory, once you publish the peer review process DOUBTS your work and seeks to destroy it–if your theory survives that harsh environment, you get to name the process and go claim the awards and such and all future science will use your work to prove or disprove other ideas. –Until one day a scientist who doubts your work and shows how you made an error and improves upon your work.

    Faith is just really sincere belief without reason. There's no work involved and anybody can claim anything they want since nobody can prove anybody else wrong.

    February 24, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • Russ

      @ momoya:
      it is a fallacy to base truth on mere majorities. at one time, scientists thought the earth was flat, that atoms were the smallest things in existence, etc.

      nonetheless, in regard to your objection of Xn disunity, consider this: 2B Xns on the planet (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants) all agree on the Apostles' Creed as a brief summation of the central tenets of our faith as presented in Scripture. Read it. While there may be disagreements on a lot of minor issues, the major issues are covered there. And it is no small thing to get 2B people to agree on something so complex & intricate.

      February 25, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • Russ

      @ momoya: science as you are using it is a faith.

      subjective human observation does not preclude the miraculous. that is something one brings to science.

      you are claiming that science is humble enough to encourage skepticism – but do you extend that same skepticism to the scientific process? in other words (and here is where I – & I think even Nietzsche – call it faith), the scientific process fails its own criteria. It is not scientifically verifiable. When you place such confidence in your own logic while calling all else under a skeptical lens, it is faith. it is inconsistent.

      and for the record, i'm not a young earth guy.

      February 25, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • momoya

      @ Russ

      Yes, truth is not dependent upon majority. Morality isn't truth, it's a fluid social code. Of course you guys agree on the big stuff. That's partially the point. You guys have no way to use the agreed upon stuff to prove the smaller stuff. So you all have wildly different views, religions, and GODS. YEP, you each have a different god because it's a god that always lines up with your own opinion. Since you guys have no method of determining which interpretations are correct, your agreed upon stuff is just that–agreed upon.

      February 25, 2012 at 12:47 am |
    • Russ

      @ momoya:
      much to the contrary – it is the major things which would seem so hard to agree upon: raising the dead? virgin birth? this stuff is preposterous... as you said – ridiculous. not a small thing to have agreement on such things.

      God does not always line up with my opinion. such a god would be merely a self-projection. that is actually part of what makes the Christian God so personal: he gets in my face & challenges the things I would believe that are contrary to what his Word teaches.

      February 25, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • momoya

      @ Russ

      No, you fool. I am not using science as a faith. If you think that you are waaaaaay dumber than I have thought until this point.

      Science isn't humble or proud. Why are you saying such silly things, russ?

      Yes, some branches of science DO question the scientific process, but because the scientific process works so well, all the friggin time, by being USEFUL–you know all that medical equipment and satellite triangulation that is based on quantum physics it tends to cause trust in that process?!? The scientific process is verifiable by the very computer you're using and the method by which we are communicating. Sure, it might all be illusion, but it works. That's how we know the scientific process is correct–it's correct enough for us to build telescopes and all the other cool technology.

      Can faith do any of that? No! Faith only works when you believe it does–and not even then most of the time. Science works whether or not you believe in it. That's why a young-earth-creationist can go get medicine that was developed using the fundamentals of evolution that he doesn't believe in. What can the scientist do with your faith that he doesn't believe in?

      February 25, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • Russ

      @ momoya:
      let's not resort to name-calling. we're having a good conversation from what i can tell.

      science does give great technology – especially as a subjective human discipline of observation. when that subjectivity makes objective claims, it has projected *beyond* the data. it is no longer science.

      for example, if you have a daughter, why do you love your daughter? science cannot address this question, unless attempting to talk about synapses & neurons & evolutionary development of the psyche. But now we are talking about how & not why.

      The 'why' is an inherently metaphysical question. It assumes a purpose – which only metaphysics can give it. Even if one assumes there is no purpose beyond what is tactile & visible, that is a metaphysical conclusion about the nature of reality – and science in & of itself did not give us that conclusion. That is faith.

      February 25, 2012 at 1:02 am |
    • momoya

      @ Russ

      I have no idea what you mean about science projecting "beyond" the data. Where science implies an inference, it's known that it's only inference.

      Love is a philosophical concept. Science does not address philosophy. "Love" is a personal concept, and it doesn't matter whether or not anyone can prove it. When it comes to "why" we can look at various factors, but ultimately it doesn't matter. Mystery is all over the place. Nothing is known fully. There's no "faith" in science, there's hypotheses that we attempt to study until proven or disproven. Reasonable assumptions and inferences are not "faith." Practical assumptions might be a sort of "faith," but they fall under the same rules as faith, too. There's no telling if the "faith" might be correctly placed or not, although prior experience gives us an idea of reasonable assumption.

      February 25, 2012 at 1:19 am |
    • Russ

      @ momoya: yes, science as science is merely subjective human observation. i have no qualms with that, as long as science is honest about its limitations. scientific inferences are not a problem, either, as long as they continue to admit their subjectivity. that's not what I'm talking about, though.

      assuming science as human observation comprehensively and/or accurately represents reality 'as it actually is' (ontologically) is *necessarily* a philosophical / metaphysical enterprise. it requires treating the *subjective* discipline of science as *objective.* now, we are no longer talking about science, but scientism – putting faith in science (as the ultimate authority on the nature of existence). it's an end-run to treating human observation as the greatest authority in existence – which forgets our supposed humility/honesty about being subjective agents.

      i have no qualms with science. i have many qualms with scientism – especially when scientism presents itself as science.

      February 26, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  4. momoya

    @ Russ

    You said:
    .
    "momoya: "who cares about 'the goal of such a sacrifice'"? that's a very shallow appraisal of the situation. certainly the goal is central to this entire debate. even the white house understands that from a political perspective.'
    .
    Maybe you should explain what you mean better. What do you consider to be the "goal of the sacrifice?"
    .
    ,
    You said:
    do you – based upon your moral convictions – believe racism to be evil? should racism always be stopped? or is it simply a function of cultural environment? are there times racism is ok?'
    .
    Morality is a function of culture. We have "theory of mind" which enables us to feel empathy. Because of that, morality is fairly consistent, but not absolutely. There's no absolute morality as the god of the bible demonstrates when he breaks his own commandments and commands others to break his commandments for various reasons.
    .
    .
    You said:
    "without an objective moral anchor, there is no basis upon which to condemn heinous acts of racism, genocide, etc. what right do we have to judge another culture (Nazis, Bosnia, Rwanda, etc.) unless there is a 'higher law' to which we can appeal? i don't think any of us would be on this blog if we didn't want a better world than we've got."

    You're wrong. We constantly judge morality and behavior without an objective moral law. We did it with the Nazis. Unfortunately might makes right, whether you consider the "mightiest" to be the god of the bible or whether you consider it to be the governing body of the land. Because we are deeply thinking animals, we continually question and protest and revolt and assert our "rights." For example, suppose some scientist discovered a way to prolong life indefinitely and fool the brain into thinking the body was in a lake of fire for eternity. Most people and countries would object and treat that scientist like another Hitler.
    .
    .
    You said:
    "the way i feel about the misuse of Scripture in defense of slavery in the Old South is similar to how I imagine a passionate communist feels about Stalin's abuses of power – it is not faithful to the original vision."

    LOL! You missed the point entirely. The issue is one of determination. The pastors who used the bible to argue for slavery were able to do so. Nothing stopped them. There's plenty of scriptures where god encourages or condones various types of slavery, and the pastors were able to use them to bolster their own opinions. What you SHOULD wonder about is why the bible provides no mechanism of determining which translation of a scripture is the correct one. Just think of how wonderful and efficient the bible would be if it included a simple, step by step method to determine which of several interpretations was the more correct? Any competent minister or believer can dig around enough in the scripture to find a way to interpret the bible to support his opinions–and that's exactly what happens.

    February 24, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • Russ

      @ momoya:
      1) if "morality is a function of culture," merely part of the evolutionary development, then who can say what is refuse & what is development? If the next Hitler succeeds, doesn't that make him correct by evolutionary standards? wouldn't that group then be called the fittest? allowing for cultural development & reversal of values requires being open to the possibility that Hitler was just ahead of the evolutionary curve. without an objective basis (the 'God says so' that you disdain), there is no intrinsic value to human life other than as a space holder on evolutionary development.

      2) Jesus gives us the hermeneutical key to Scripture: himself (Lk.24:27, 44). Like any good movie/story/event, the narrative must be understood in light of the climactic moment. He is the revelation that clarifies how all other parts should be understood.

      February 25, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • momoya

      @ Russ

      1. Society, in accordance with the natural resources of that era and geography ultimately say what is "refuse & what is development." Evolution doesn't say what is correct, it says what is and what is probable. The mightiest make the rules until those who are being pushed around band together and become mightier than the rule maker.

      Why do you assume human life has any intrinsic value? Nobody knows if it does or doesn't. Why make stuff up? We are born, we live, we die. That's what we know for sure, so we should do it as best as we can acting with the best behavior we can conceive. We don't know much of anything, but we know how to live with joy and love. That's pretty cool.

      2. That key doesn't work very well. It's certainly no good at determining which interpretation is correct or not. Why can't god communicate his will as clearly as he communicated the rules of chemistry or math?

      February 25, 2012 at 1:40 am |
    • Russ

      @ momoya:
      1) your response surprises me. most people do not find racism, pe'dophilia, ra'pe, etc. as potentially legitimate futures for our evolutionary existence – yet an honest evolutionist must embrace those things. I hear you willing to say "who are we to say that is wrong?" is that accurate? if so, are there any such crimes which would ever be *always* wrong?

      2) the life, death & resurrection of Jesus actually sheds an incredible amount of light on how to interpret all of Scripture. If, as Jesus says, all of Scripture is about him, it leads us to read a lot of difficult passages in light of who he presented himself to be – which was most clearly displayed at the cross.

      for example, the cross tells me two things clearly:
      1) i'm much worse off than i want to admit (i deserve death)
      2) i'm much more loved than i ever imagined (he was willing to die in my place)

      now, taking that as the hermeneutical key for all of Scripture leads to a better understanding of many difficult passages in the OT. Gen.22: the sacrifice of Abraham (which Kierkegaard called the teleological suspension of the ethical) is revealed to be a foreshadowing of God's love rather than simply a random, precarious dangling of ants over the fire.

      as Heb.11 makes clear, all these events of the OT were actually looking forward to Christ. and as Rom.8:32 says: "if God did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also along with him graciously give us all things?"

      The cross is the pinnacle of God's self-revelation – and as such, is the key to understanding the rest of the book. to make a weak analogy, it's like watching the movie Sixth Sense. if you turned it off before the last 10 minutes, you missed the whole movie. but once you see the ending, you want to watch the whole movie over again in light of this clarifying information. you realize that your as'sumptions were incorrect & you need to reinterpret most of what you gleaned in light of a paradigm shifting revelation.

      February 26, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  5. momoya

    @ Russ

    There's not nearly enough evidence for a single "christ" living, although "jesus" was a common name and several hundred or so prophets in jesus' time claimed to work miracles and be the messiah of the jews. The writing of that time period shows that miracles were attributed to every other guy who had some weird mystical message or another, so either miracles were common place or people were just gullible or whatever.

    Just because I exist does not mean that one god or another is responsible. It's okay to say you don't know; you don't have to imagine big human-like deities. If there was "ample evidence" then the whole world would agree on it, just like we agree on math and chemistry. We have so many different gods and belief systems because god chooses to be invisible. That's why there's thousands of believers who claim to have the right interpretation through 'the spirit' but yet they disagree with countless other interpretations by people claiming to be right through 'the spirit.' Just think, you might have been born in the middle east and be fanatical and faithful for Islam, instead; no doubt you'd think of Christianity what you currently think of Islam. You have been brainwashed into thinking that everything is evidence for your god, yet all that same "evidence" is exactly the same that the muslims use as evidence of Allah. It's just confirmation bias (look it up).

    Who cares about "the goal of such a sacrifice?" It's a simple open and shut case. The guy believes and teaches a form of magic that his state doesn't sponsor. It's to be expected that he might be a martyr. And by the way, many Baptist churches in the South used the bible vigorously to defend the practice of slavery with all the verses (even in the NT) that promote slavery as a perfectly viable act and relationship.

    If this pastor becomes a martyr it's a consequence of the laws of his state. He put his life on the line for the myth/magic in which he believes. He decided to take the risk; now he gets to see if he put his faith in the correct myth. Maybe this will go some distance to making his homeland a place where other myths can be worshiped. Either way, he did what he thought was right–it was against the law of the land–he reaps the consequences.

    February 24, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • Russ

      @ momoya: I'm going to separate out some of these threads we have.

      per your comment: 'if you'd been born in the middle east, you'd be a fanatic for Islam'
      Note: this pastor is evidence to the contrary.

      As Alvin Plantinga has rightly noted in response to this objection, this line of thinking is self-refuting:

      "Suppose we concede that if I had been born of Muslim parents in Morocco rather than Christian parents in Michigan, my beliefs would have been quite different. But the same goes for the pluralist... If the pluralist had been born in Morocco he probably wouldn't be a pluralist. Does it follow that he shouldn't be a pluralist or that his pluralist beliefs are produced in him by an unreliable belief-producing process? Self-referential problems loom... the pluralist is hoist by his own petard."

      February 24, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • Russ

      @ momoya: "there's not nearly enough evidence for a single christ..."

      the Bible is the most read, most scrutinized book in history. as such, there is no more doc'umented piece of ancient literature in existence.

      put practically: do you believe there was a Plato? or Herodotus? or just about any other non-political/military individual in ancient history... there is more attestation to Scripture by several orders of magnitude than most any other piece of literature we have in existence from the ancient world.

      for example, most scholars have no doubt that we have the final form of Beowulf. there are roughly 12 extant copies.
      we have 10,000s of papyri, uncials & manuscripts from much closer to the original writers. to doubt that we have the original content is a failure to be consistent in how we read ancient literature.

      maybe more importantly, though (and why people doubt): the Gospel writers & Paul made such astounding claims within a generation of Christ's death that people would have checked the sources. to think they were less skeptical than we are today is simply ethnocentric & historically inaccurate.

      In 1 Cor.15:1-3, Paul says the risen Jesus appeared to over 500 people at once. He's writing within 20 years of Jesus' death. Certainly many of those folks would still be alive. And travel & correspondence were a certainty within the Roman Empire – people would have sought verification. "Did this happen? Are there people who believe they saw this? Are you one of them?"

      Bottom line: Christianity does not get off the ground if Jesus of Nazareth didn't exist.

      February 24, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • momoya

      @ Ross

      It's a probability thing. There's some muslims in america, but the dominant religion of the culture is Christian. _Chances are_ if you were born in Pakistan you'd be a spokesperson for Islam instead of Christianity. The issue is the brainwashing. If you grow up in an area where one religion and god are advocated, you'll likely believe that the universe, life, and such are evidence for the god of your culture.

      All religions claim to be "THE Religion" by using the same evidence that the other religions use to claim the same thing. No religion can put forth any testable evidence, so it all comes down to faith. and faith doesn't prove anything except that you really, really, really believe in ___. It's a function of myths and philosophies. There's not different maths all over the world claiming to be "THE math" because the people of that math really believe it is the "true math." In math you can test an axiom and see if the obviously true and predicating principles of math prove the new equation. (They're actually called "proofs.")

      February 24, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • Russ

      @ momoya: "who cares about 'the goal of such a sacrifice'"? that's a very shallow appraisal of the situation. certainly the goal is central to this entire debate. even the white house understands that from a political perspective.

      do you – based upon your moral convictions – believe racism to be evil? should racism always be stopped? or is it simply a function of cultural environment? are there times racism is ok?

      without an objective moral anchor, there is no basis upon which to condemn heinous acts of racism, genocide, etc. what right do we have to judge another culture (Nazis, Bosnia, Rwanda, etc.) unless there is a 'higher law' to which we can appeal? i don't think any of us would be on this blog if we didn't want a better world than we've got.

      the way i feel about the misuse of Scripture in defense of slavery in the Old South is similar to how I imagine a passionate communist feels about Stalin's abuses of power – it is not faithful to the original vision.

      February 24, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • Russ

      @ momoya: math vs. religion –

      these are separate disciplines. or are you claiming math answers metaphysical questions? that is moving from subjective human observation (classical science as a discipline) to objective truth claims (scientism as a faith). As Nietzsche famously criticized his fellow atheists: "it is STILL a metaphysical faith that underlies our faith in science."

      in other words, if we appeal to science to bypass religious metaphysical claims, we are guilty of the same thing. science was never intended to do that. it cannot carry such weight. numbers & quant'ities cannot be self-referential – and thereby can never explain themselves. they presume a philosophical underpinning – a metaphysical reality.

      science that subst'itutes for faith is no longer science – it has become a faith (scientism).

      February 24, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • momoya

      @Russ

      I doubt that the bible is read more than the Koran, but who cares. For all the scrutiny that has been done on it, it has yet to yield a method that would verify one interpretation of a passage correct or wrong. It's just people arguing that they're right because they have "the spirit."

      And yes, I believe in Plato and those other guys, but it really doesn't matter if they existed or not. They don't claim that I must believe in their words or I am headed to some sort of punishment. I really don't care if Plato existed, because I have the words attributed to him and I use them or discard them at will.

      History is notoriously bad. Even records from a few hundred years ago have been proved wrong by recent archeology. I have no doubt that much in the bible has some sort of basis in history, but no, there's no reason to believe all the miracles actually happened. The magic in Beowulf didn't happen either, by the way. If you would be willing to do the research, you would see how fallible the bible really is, but I don't think you'll do that or listen to me about it, so it's a waste of time to discuss. What we do have is the morals and principles of the bible, and they are untenable. It abounds with contradictions and silliness and it just so happens to line up with the myths of the cultures around Judea at the time of the writing. If you line up the stories in the OT with the myths of the cultures that lived in that area, you find that the Hebrew god suddenly takes on the characteristics of those gods. Fast forward a few hundred years and god changes again to better match with the myths of the peoples most influential at that time period. it's pretty simple research.

      You are simply not correct on the Gospel writers and Paul. I spent almost two decades on Paul's writings versus the rest of the NT, and just by digging into the bible itself you see hundreds of inconsistencies between what the gospels say and what paul insists. If you do some research on the Q author and the writing process in Mark and the other gospels, you will see how slippery the text really is. Lots of other texts from that time period talk about miracles happening–almost to the point of their being every day experiences. But of course, these miracles are attributed to all sorts of non-christian mystics and people of other "faiths." You can't trust the accounts of jesus' resurrection for the same reason you can't trust any of the other texts of other religions who claimed similar magic.

      Christianity does not get off the ground if PAUL does not exist. That's what you mean to say. Most christian doctrine is straight from Paul. The jesus of the gospels may not have existed at all, or maybe it's half a dozen different mystics of that time who "performed miracles" and such. Maybe 20 were named something like "jesus" and maybe none were. It doesn't really matter whether the jesus of the gospels existed or not. What matters is that the myth itself makes no friggin' sense. It's hard to see when you're in it, though. I have had the pleasure of talking to enough former christians to know that we ALL report the exact same thing: Within a very short time of dropping the myth (a day or week or so) you realize how silly it all is. I don't expect you will ever know this, but I have no doubt you'd experience the exact same phenomenon as we. Belief is a compulsion–not a choice. Were you to not have the compulsion to believe, you'd come up with much, much better arguments against christianity than I ever could because you already know what is most ridiculous to YOU. You just refuse to access it at this time. For me, it's god's behavior. He's just so fickle and mean-spirited and stupid. How stupid was that whole flood thing? Other than it is absolutely impossible to have happened. I have no idea what you find ridiculous, but you already know.

      February 24, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
    • Russ

      @ momoya: Xnty is ridiculous, but that does not preclude it being true.

      Archeologically, it continues to prove itself true – even when for centuries it may have been called into question. See, for example, the pool of Bethesda (& how it impacts the dating of John) or the Hitt'ite nation.

      You repeatedly refer to Christianity as a myth, but it cannot be a myth. It may be a pack of lies, but it cannot be a myth. CS Lewis, a foremost expert in the last century on myths, wrote a famous essay on this problem: "Fern Seeds & Elephants." One major point: no one who reads myths professionally will mistake this for a myth. no ancient myth had such details. you never read Homer saying "Odysseus left the Cyclops' cave around 3:30pm & rowed 3 or 3.5 miles out to sea." but that's exactly the kind of detail you find in the Gospel accounts. it presents itself as factual reportage & claims to bring eyewitness detail.

      so the reader is left with one of two conclusions: either this is reportage of events or it is simply lies. but it cannot be a myth. that is claiming that the Gospel writers created a genre with no known antecedent for 1700 years. there's a scientific improbability. the claims are ridiculous, but that's exactly why the accounts report them so carefully as fact with detail. again, unlike any known myth. either history or lies, but not a myth or legend.

      February 24, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • Russ

      @ momoya: I have a post-graduate degree in the field. i'm already acquainted with most of your arguments. i've done the digging – and honestly, i come to completely opposite conclusions.

      for the sake of a brevity (as it's getting late), check out Richard Bauckham's "Jesus & the Eyewitnesses." Also, on many of these discussion topics, Tim Keller's "Reason for God."

      I am not mistaken on Paul. This is not his fabrication – as reading the other accounts makes clear. To make such a claim ignores all the work of the other apostles (Peter & co.). And that is the biggest problem with your timeline here. The preposterous natures of the claims of Christianity are too close to the original events. There is not time for 'myths' to develop. People were still alive who were there.

      And as you rightly noted – Christianity's view of history is uniquely connected to its history. It is not simply a nice myth backing up an ethical system. Jesus was not claiming to bring an ethical system to which he was pointing as a way to 'get right with God'. He claimed to be God – to be the way himself. Not as an example, but as a subst'itute for us. That's why it's *news,* not ethics (advice). To drop what you call 'myth' is to lose the central tenet of the faith – unlike most other religions.

      February 25, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • momoya

      @ Russ

      You said:
      .
      "momoya: I have a post-graduate degree in the field. i'm already acquainted with most of your arguments. i've done the digging – and honestly, i come to completely opposite conclusions."
      .
      It's clear from your arguments that you have not studied much that critiques your position. You should look into some of the sources that discredit your "side." Any debater needs to know the arguments for the opposite side.
      .
      .
      You said:
      .
      "for the sake of a brevity (as it's getting late), check out Richard Bauckham's "Jesus & the Eyewitnesses." Also, on many of these discussion topics, Tim Keller's "Reason for God.""
      .
      I've worked with both texts. They have some pretty obvious holes. Check out some Dan Barker, and Robert Price "Case Against the Case for Christ" There's another brilliant refutation. My own story is quite similar to Barker's.
      .
      .
      You said:
      "I am not mistaken on Paul. This is not his fabrication – as reading the other accounts makes clear. To make such a claim ignores all the work of the other apostles (Peter & co.). And that is the biggest problem with your timeline here. The preposterous natures of the claims of Christianity are too close to the original events. There is not time for 'myths' to develop. People were still alive who were there."
      .
      You have no idea what the true events were, so it's very disingenuous to claim that "the claims of christianity" are close to them. You (and most other christians) assume the bible is correct no matter what, and so your arguments rely on a priori faith. Paul's work conflicts with itself. I've worked with Pauline doctrine and writings for years, and there's all sorts of contradictions. Your claim that "there was no time for myths to develop" is absolutely wrong. We know from recent archeology that much "historical reporting" is wrong from day one. The people who write embellish the story to fit their ends. All one need do is look at the reporting of Columbus and other discoverers of the new world. Much of what has been taught in history classes for 200 years is horribly wrong.

      After leaving my faith it became very, very easy to spot contradictions and doctrinal confusion all over the NT.
      .
      .
      You said:
      "And as you rightly noted – Christianity's view of history is uniquely connected to its history. It is not simply a nice myth backing up an ethical system. Jesus was not claiming to bring an ethical system to which he was pointing as a way to 'get right with God'. He claimed to be God – to be the way himself. Not as an example, but as a subst'itute for us. That's why it's *news,* not ethics (advice). To drop what you call 'myth' is to lose the central tenet of the faith – unlike most other religions."
      .
      There's a "christian view of history?" History is always be refined as we uncover more evidence. Sometimes things in the bible match up, and sometimes they don't. In regards to a world wide flood, we know that that did NOT happen. The words assigned to Jesus in the gospels show him to state the flood as fact. You can't explain that, except to say that Jesus was mistaken; therefore not god. God would have known that no flood occurred. That the bible has some correct history within it does not mean anything about its accuracy. As I've said previously, prophets claiming to be messiahs were very common around Jesus' time. And Jesus was a common name at that time. The claims attributed to him in the bible cannot be verified and there's lots of research out there concerning the huge problems with trusting historical accounts so long after the fact. Eye witness reports are notoriously flawed; witnesses of a car accident contradict each other on very obvious things (color of car involved) and we now know how wrong it is to judge truth or fiction just on eye witness testimony.

      Your last sentence is confusing. All religions insist that the other religions are myth and theirs isn't. Of course is a central tenet of your faith to believe your myth is the only non-myth–that's obvious. And all religions claim to be unique–that's why we call them religions.

      February 25, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Russ

      @ momoya: your first two objections may be a case of simply disagreeing. i'm sorry to hear that you had a similar experience to Dan Barker. but as with many of the so-called new atheists, i do not find their arguments very compelling.

      1) Pauline doctrine – I also have spent a lot of time with Paul's writings. I do not find it contradi'ctory. I find it Christ-centered. But I think we've established that, since I'm a believer.

      per the question of historicity: what do you make of Paul's claim in 1 Cor.15:1-3, that 500 people saw the risen Christ at once? 1 Corinthians is widely regarded (by liberal & conservative scholars alike) as genuinely Pauline – so that's being written within 30 years of Jesus' death (if not 20, but most dating). Do you think no one checked that claim out? Do you think people in those days were simply less skeptical than today?

      2) that quote is a typo. i wrote/meant to write: "Christianity's view of its story/narrative (instead of 'history') is uniquely connected to history (as actual historical events)." of the other major religious founders, their teachings do not require belief in the events surrounding the reception of their ethical system in order for the religion to 'work.' Christianity uniquely is claiming that Jesus' death & resurrection subst'itute for an ethical system. He does what I can't. Every other major religion says: "here are the rules/ethics for existence. Follow these to curry favor with God/Allah/Geist/Spirit/karma/etc."

      In that regard – my last sentence meant this: if you drop the life, death & resurrection of Jesus, the ethical system is not Christianity. to do so is to lose the meaning of the Christian faith.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  6. Russ

    @ momoya: new post was below. we can continue our discussion here if you prefer.

    February 24, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
  7. loupgarous

    Nuke them before they nuke us.

    February 24, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
  8. Lol

    When the Church was able to, they executed countless people for the same thing.

    February 24, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • us

      um...yea like in midevil times...not 20th century..hello?

      February 24, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • momoya

      So actions in the medieval times don't count? It's a shame the people being tortured in unimaginably horrific manners didn't know that bit of information. I wonder if they would have screamed any less or at least with less volume. Posers.

      February 25, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
  9. me

    i agree with a lot of you. islam seems so violent. accept the world as is and know peace.
    islam idolatry shall lead all muslim

    February 24, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  10. me

    hello

    February 24, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  11. Elias

    After almost two thousand years now they still have you brain washed into believing this racist semetic drival. The psycopathic Roman soldiers and the arabs stuffed it down you ancestors throats at the point of torture and death. The Jewish history books are good for their racism but why do you not look at the rich spiritual history of your own people. Study history and archeology an find out for youself, don't believe what other people say. Not neccesssary to pay a proffesional priest to pray for you, the creator is within you closer than your breath. Your soul is part and parcel of the source, seek and you will find.

    February 24, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  12. jimtanker

    Let me get this straight.

    He's Iranian, right?
    In Iran?
    And he broke an Iranian law, right?

    What's the big deal? You break the law you take the punishment. Simple as that.

    February 24, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Al

      How could you say something like this? Have you even read the article? A man is about to be put to death for practicing his religion and you're acting like this is nothing!

      February 24, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • jimtanker

      Guess he shouldnt have done it.

      February 24, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • momoya

      @ Al

      Aren't christians supposed to feel joy when they are caused to suffer as did christ and the apostles? How can you be against his example? Isn't he going to everlasting bliss with his god?

      Oh, and where's your outrage over eternal torture in a pit of fire? Isn't that trillions and trillions of times more horrible than dying?

      February 24, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • David Johnson

      I agree with you 100%. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

      Cheers!

      February 24, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Russ

      @ jimtanker, David Johnson, momoya:
      so you would have stood against the civil rights movement in 1960s America?
      Would you say the same thing to Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her seat?
      Or that Martin Luther King, Jr's dream failed to understand "when in Rome..."?

      February 24, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • momoya

      @ Russ

      So are you going to go toe to toe with your god over his lake of fire where the vast majority of humans are enduring everlasting torment?

      Your god is the one who said to be happy when you are persecuted for him. I think that's pretty silly, but hey, it's your holy book; it's your call to follow it or not.

      February 24, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Russ

      @ momoya: you are presenting a false dilemma. as I said on one of the earlier pages below in response to you:

      yes, following Christ will bring suffering (Mt.16:24-25).
      yes, there is greater joy in the midst of it (Rom.8:18).
      no, it does not mean that the state is always right (Acts 5:29).
      yes, it is good if (not just individuals, but) entire communities & oppressive social structures are changed (Jnh.4).

      February 24, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • momoya

      @ Russ

      You're missing the point. God is the ultimate terrorist who will inflict more pain and horror on humans than anyone can imagine. He tells ya'll to be happy when you are persecuted for your belief in him and/or lay down your life for him.

      If this guy is put to death, he'll go right on to an eternity of bliss. Meanwhile billions and billions are suffering in god's torture chamber forever and ever. You don't get to change the rules because somebody is actually being persecuted as jesus prophesied. Why should I feel sorry for somebody who thinks that the perfect and most holy place for me is never ending torment? The issue here isn't death, it's christian morals. You worship the ultimate terrorist. Enjoy.

      February 24, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • Russ

      @ momoya:
      you've missed an essential piece of Christian teaching in your logic: we did this to ourselves.

      God is not a terrorist. we unplugged ourselves from the only real source of life. we are our own worst terrorist.

      Check out the verse after the most famous verse in the Bible: (Jn.3:17) whoever does not believe *stands condemned already.* In other words, I have condemned myself by what I do & have done. I have earned Hell. God intervenes & saves for those who would trust not in their own accomplishments, but in what Jesus has done. That is rescue. That is the opposite of terrorism.

      February 24, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • momoya

      It doesn't matter if "we did this to ourselves" or not. God didn't have to build a lake of fire; he choose to. Why did god allow such a choice in the first place? When I offer tea and biscuits to a guest in my home, I don't tell them that the alternative to the tea and biscuits is a steak knife in the shin.

      Your guy is getting eternal bliss in heaven. "To live is christ; to die is gain." Why should I feel sorry for a guy who is getting exactly what he wants–heaven? Especially when that guy thinks it's good and right for millions and millions to go to a lake of eternal torment designed and sustained by the guy giving him eternal bliss?

      February 24, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • just sayin

      The lake of fire is for the devil and the fallen angels, it is not a place a human being should want to go.

      February 24, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • momoya

      @ just sayin

      So god isn't god enough to put a special "human extruder device" on the gate or what?

      February 24, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • Russ

      @ momoya: there is more than just one picture of Hell in Scripture. yes, lake of fire is one (Revelation). but so is Gehenna (a burning trash heap outside Jerusalem), weeping & gnashing of teeth, being outside in the dark, being thrown out of the party, refusing to go in to your Father's house because you're angry (Lk.15), & complete abandonment (cross: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?").

      There are certainly more depictions even than that, but the point is this: the primary feature of Hell is separation from God's love / blessing / grace, and only experiencing his wrath. That's what we deserve because of what we did to ourselves.

      To take up your example, this is not a tea & crumpets party. We already murdered God's Son. If anyone has been stabbed in the shin... and yet he makes the very place that demonstrates how screwed up I am (the cross, where I murdered his Son) into the place of my rescue.

      Hell is trusting in my own ability to rescue myself.
      Heaven is trusting in what he has already done.

      It would be right for all of us to go to Hell. It's certainly what we deserve. The real question isn't why more people don't get heaven – that's obvious. we've earned Hell. the real question in light of what we did at the cross is this: it's why would anyone get heaven at all?

      terrorism: taking someone else's life for your own gain.
      the Gospel: Jesus gave up his life for my greatest gain (so he could make a murderer like me into his own family).

      February 24, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Chad

      Good defense Russ, well said

      February 24, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • momoya

      There may be more than one picture of hell. It doesn't matter. God could have chosen somewhere else to stick his enemies, but he doesn't. He doesn't annihilate, he puts his enemies in pain for eternity. We don't deserve that because we don't know what it is. In order for somebody to deserve something, they need to know the options. Since nobody knows what hell is, we don't deserve it.

      I haven't murdered anyone, least of all god's son. If god is offended by me acting like a decent human being, that's his problem. Since your god is as unprovable as any other god, he shouldn't punish me for not believing in him. Heaven, for you, is placing your trust with a being who commanded genocide, r.a.pe, and stealing land from other society. How can you trust a guy like that?

      Stop putting yourself and the whole human race down. Most of us aren't murderers. Nobody is holding christians accountable for the inquisition because that'd be stupid. You don't blame people for something that happened 2,000 years ago. Get a grip. It's interesting that the same people who think all of humanity deserves hell right out of the womb are convinced that they aren't going there.

      February 24, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • Russ

      @ momoya: you're shifting the conversation. We can go there, you're moving away from an objection to Christianity from within to an objection from without.

      For a Christian, the cross says two things clearly:
      1) I am far worse off than I want to admit (he had to die)
      2) I am much more loved than I ever dared imagine (he was willing to do that for me)

      Murdering God/his Son is a daily occurrence for all of us – especially when talking about the essence of murder: living as if He didn't exist. Every middle school girl understands this much: stabbing someone with a knife brings too many consequences. It's much safer to murder their reputation & treat them as if they didn't exist.

      The final form of hatred is apathy. It's the ultimate murder. It's saying to God: "I couldn't care less if you exist. I'm fine without you." We most certainly (Christians included) are murderers on a daily basis.

      February 24, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • Keith

      jimtanker, Are you familiar with what transpired in Mechanicburgistan, PA?

      February 24, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • Keith

      Is there something in the water in PA? Ho-mo's raping 10 year boys in the Penn State locker room and a hall of shame coach turning a blind eye. Now this muslim judge letting his islamic brother to get away with a crime? What the hell is wrong with you people?

      February 24, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • momoya

      @ Russ

      If you reply, just make a new post. That will make the discussion easier to follow.
      .
      .
      You say:
      .
      >>>Murdering God/his Son is a daily occurrence for all of us – especially when talking about the essence of murder: living as if He didn't exist. Every middle school girl understands this much: stabbing someone with a knife brings too many consequences. It's much safer to murder their reputation & treat them as if they didn't exist.<<>>The final form of hatred is apathy. It's the ultimate murder. It's saying to God: "I couldn't care less if you exist. I'm fine without you." We most certainly (Christians included) are murderers on a daily basis.<<<

      That's stupid. Not caring about a person might be wrong and it might not be, it depends on your actions that follow.

      Your argument is that according to your myth you and everybody else are horrible, horrible sinners, so you christians think you need a savior and eternal rewards or punishment. That doesn't make any sense seeing as how there's no way to prove your god and the babble over any other ancient-yet-evolved philosophy/myth. You fellas have to invoke magical body parts (soul) and magical diseases (sin) and magical consequences (heaven/hell in afterlife). But you can't demonstrate any of it. You can't show a soul, sin, or an afterlife. Until you can prove some of these assertions of magic, it makes much more sense to delay any belief in their existence.

      You choose to live in that fantasy world and when it gets you in legal trouble, you have to stick with it. This pastor broke the law for believing in one form of unproven magic over another form of unproven magic, but according to your magic book, it's a consequence where he should be honored to be a martyr and where he gets eternal bliss. You gotta go with it–if you really believe the magic. Your magic book says it's an expected and joyful chain of events. Act like it.

      February 24, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      Momoya once again for someone who claims to have been a Christian minister call out the name of your church. Your doctrines are way off unless that is what you learnt and taught.

      February 24, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • Russ

      @ momoya: in pushing for tangible, historic proof, you ignore two realities to which Christians point:
      1) you exist. you didn't make yourself. this either begs an infinite regression or an objective anchor (God).
      2) Jesus came. God entered history. He lived, died & rose from the dead. Ample evidence.

      I anticipate your rejections to those things, but I'm responding to your statement that there is no evidence. From a Christian perspective, that is evidence. It is News. Not advice, but historic news of a universe-altering event.

      Per your other main objection here: that (I'm paraphrasing) 'we believe in this magic, so live with it. honor martyrs.' I've repeatedly tried to agree with you that we honor martyrs. Our disagreement comes in this: the goal of such a sacrifice.

      Jesus didn't come to set an example of sacrificial death for the sake of sacrificial deaths. He made the sacrificial death that changed the world. So, if Stephen has to die in following Christ, it still honors Christ. But if William Wilberforce can stop the inst'itution of slavery (because of his Christian convictions) without being literally killed, that's a good thing.

      If this pastor dies, I have no doubt that he will know in full the joy he only sees partly now in a jail cell awaiting execution. You accurately diagnosed Php.1:21 there (to live is Christ, to die is gain) – which Paul also wrote from a prison cell. But note what Paul went on to say after: (v.22-26, again paraphrasing) 'it would be better for me to go on to be with the Lord, but for your sake, it would be better if I stay. so I'm torn in my heart to serve you.' This pastor, w/ a family he would be leaving behind, certainly must feel this way. Two young boys will lose their dad – not because he did evil, but because an evil law has been made.

      In Paul's case, he went on to die in Rome as best we know. In this pastor's case, for the sake of his family, I hope he lives. But if not, I have no doubt that God can turn even this evil to good (Gen.50:20) – but that does not make it in & of itself a good to be celebrated.

      February 24, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • Chad

      Momoya claims to have been a Christian minister ????

      no way, how would it be possible to be a Christian minister yet have not even a elementary understanding of basic Christian theology.

      February 24, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
  13. jimtanker

    Deuteronomy 13:6-9 "If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying: Let us go and worship other gods (gods that neither you nor your fathers have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other, or gods of other religions), do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. You must certainly put him to death. Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people."

    Hmmmm, what should we do with all of the apostates in the US?

    February 24, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • just sayin

      Make every effort to see they get the Truth and turn to Jesus for salvation. Without Christ they are spiritually dead where they stand. God's grace allows them opportunity. Otherwise physical death and permanent separation from God, the second death.

      February 24, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • jimtanker

      So you're saying that apostates should be kiIIed?

      February 24, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • just sayin

      Apostates are already dead, I am saying they should take an opportunity for life, before their body joins their soul.

      February 24, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Gary

      Old testament law changed when Jesus brought forgiveness of sin and a new covenant. Now we are to war not against flesh and blood but the evil spiritual realm Eph 6:10-18. Love our enemies as we love ourselves or we're guilty of murder. Matt 5

      February 24, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Lol

      And Jesus's law changed when we realized he was a lying hoaxster.

      February 24, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Chad

      Gary is correct about distinguishing between old and new testament. If you are going to attempt to critique Christianity you need to understand it first.

      You can try to make some kind of a case that different conduct is prescribed under the OT and NT, but you cant take OT prescriptions and attempt to apply them now.

      February 24, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  14. Rainer Braendlein

    Muhammad, God’s enemy

    Introduction: Although I sharply criticize the Islamic doctrine, I love my Muslim neighbours, according to Christ’s command. Christianity is the religion of love. Hate is prohibited. Of course, nevertheless we are allowed to check out the sometimes strange beliefs of our neighbours.

    I have read the whole Koran once, and I am reading it now the second time. I get more and more shocked about the anti-Christian and anti-Jewish character of the Koran.

    First time, when I read the Koran, it became immediately clear that the Koran rejects the Trinity (doctrine of the Trinity is the basic doctrine of Christianity) and the divine sonship of Jesus Christ (also a basic doctrine of Christianity). There is no doubt at all that Muhammad rejects Christianity and Judaism, that is absolutely obvious. Have a look on the following suras of the unholy Koran:

    (Note: “Messiah” means Jesus Christ, “People of the Scripture” are Jews and Christians)

    Sura 4, Verse 171:

    O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not “Three” – Cease! (it is) better for you! – Allah is only One Allah. Far is it removed from His Transcendent Majesty that He should have a son. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is sufficient as Defender.

    Sura 5, Verse 72:

    They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary. The Messiah (himself) said: O Children of Israel, worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. Lo! whoso ascribeth partners unto Allah, for him Allah hath forbidden paradise. His abode is the Fire. For evil-doers there will be no helpers.

    Sura 9, Verse 30:

    And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah. That is their saying with their mouths. They imitate the saying of those who disbelieved of old. Allah (Himself) fighteth against them. How perverse are they!

    Everybody, claiming Islam would be harmless, after he has read the above verses, should undergo a medical check of his head.

    But the three verses above are not the top of Muhammad’s wickedness.

    The crucial malice of Muhammad is his following statement: Jews and Christians are former Moslems, having turned apostate. He even claims that Abraham, Moses and Jesus had been Islamic leaders or teachers, which were highly acknowledged by Allah. The pupils of Abraham, Moses and Jesus were actually Moslems, but because they were not obedient to the teachings of Abraham, Moses and Jesus, God degraded them to Jews and Christians.

    So, that is without limit. Muhammad calls us apostates. Thus, in Muhammad eyes we have no more right to live and in his eyes we are garbage.

    Actually, to understand Muhammad’s crucial malice, you had to read the Koran yourself, because the wicked doctrine is somewhat hidden. Maybe the verses Sura 2, V. 87-91 are a hint:

    Verse 87: And verily We gave unto Moses the Scripture and We caused a train of messengers to follow after him, and We gave unto Jesus, son of Mary, clear proofs (of Allah’s sovereignty), and We supported him with the Holy spirit. Is it ever so, that, when there cometh unto you a messenger (from Allah) with that which ye yourselves desire not, ye grow arrogant, and some ye disbelieve and some ye slay?

    Verse 88: And they say: Our hearts are hardened. Nay, but Allah hath cursed them for their unbelief. Little is that which they believe.

    Verse 89: And when there cometh unto them a scripture from Allah, confirming that in their possession – though before that they were asking for a signal triumph over those who disbelieved – and when there cometh unto them that which they know (to be the truth) they disbelieve therein. The curse of Allah is on disbelievers.

    Verse 90: Evil is that for which they sell their souls: that they should disbelieve in that which Allah hath revealed, grudging that Allah should reveal of His bounty unto whom He will of His slaves. They have incurred anger upon anger. For disbelievers is a shameful doom.

    Verse 91: And when it is said unto them: Believe in that which Allah hath revealed, they say: We believe in that which was revealed unto us. And they disbelieve in that which cometh after it, though it is the truth confirming that which they possess. Say (unto them, O Muhammad): Why then slew ye the prophets of Allah aforetime, if ye are (indeed) believers?

    So, Muhammad made a mistake. He saw that the practical behaviour of Jews and Christians did not always go together with their faith or what they claimed to believe. Of course, it is regretable that we don’t behave perfectly always, but this doesn’t authorise Muhammad to judge us like criminals. Not at all! All people have ever sinned, despite their belief: The Jews, the Christians and the Moslems.

    At the time when Mohammed lived, papacy come into being (yet some time before the Roman bishops had been called popes, but this meant something like daddy, because they were really loveable people, helping their folk. First after Pope Gregory the Great the meaning of the word pope changed and become the name of people, who dared to claim that they would be bishop of all bishops). It is really possible that Mohammed was disturbed by the first wicked popes, besides Phokas was the Byzantine emperor. Phokas was a beast like Nero or Adolf Hitler. He was an ancient Hitler. It is possible that he has commited a lot of crimes in Arabia during Muhammad’s lifetime and Muhammad draw his conclusions about the so-called Christians.

    I will still love my Muslim neighbours, but their faith I must reject.

    Every Muslim should become a Christian right now!

    Addition:

    As I have mentioned above, I am reading the Koran second time. Every now and again I will insert additional malicious statements of Muhammad, which I have encountered in the unholy Koran:

    Firstly, Muhammad daresays, on the cross not Jesus had died, but a person, resembled to Jesus.

    Sura 4: Verse 157:

    And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah’s messenger – they slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain.
    ( سورة النساء , An-Nisa, Chapter #4, Verse #157)

    The crucifixion of Jesus is the center of Christianity. Without Christ’s atonement, there would be not forgiveness and no deliverance. We would be hopeless people.

    Secondly, guess, what is the worst sin in Muhammad eyes? Answer: Incredible, the worst sin in Muhammad eyes is it to believe in Jesus Christ:

    Sura 5: Verse 72:

    They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of mary. The Messiah (himself) said: O Children of Israel, worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. Lo! whoso ascribeth partners unto Allah, for him Allah hath forbidden paradise. His abode is the Fire. For evil-doers there will be no helpers.
    ( سورة المائدة , Al-Maeda, Chapter #5, Verse #72)

    Thirdly, Muhammad claims, the gospel (part of the the New Testament) would command to slay in the way of Allah. This statement of Muhammad is extremly outrageous. The gospel is a message of love and not of hate. Muhammad perverts the gospel. Muhammad, indeed, was an incarnated devil.

    Sura 9: Verse 111:

    Lo! Allah hath bought from the believers their lives and their wealth because the Garden will be theirs: they shall fight in the way of Allah and shall slay and be slain. It is a promise which is binding on Him in the Torah and the gospel and the Qur’an. Who fulfilleth His covenant better than Allah? Rejoice then in your bargain that ye have made, for that is the supreme triumph.
    ( سورة التوبة , At-Taubah, Chapter #9, Verse #111)

    Sura 9: Verse 29:

    Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.
    ( سورة التوبة , At-Taubah, Chapter #9, Verse #29)

    Interpretation of Sura 9: Verse 29:

    “Have been given the Scripture” are Jews and Christians, “believe not in allah nor the Last Day” are Jews and Christians, messenger = Muhammad, “Religion of Truth” = Islam, tribute = tax. Hence, Muhammad commands to conquer Christian and Jewish countries. Muhammad commands aggressive war. At least he is so “merciful” to allow that people pay a tax, instead to convert to Islam.

    Fourthly, Muslims are forbidden to be friends of Jews and Christians.

    Sura 5: Verse 51 of the unholy Koran:

    O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. He among you who taketh them for friends is (one) of them. Lo! Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk.
    ( سورة المائدة , Al-Maeda, Chapter #5, Verse #51)

    Note: “O ye who believe” are Muslims.

    February 24, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  15. Reality

    Only for the newbies:

    READ CAREFULLY:---->>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Dear Muslim sisters and brothers,

    Your imams and ayatollahs have been conning you.

    The real Mohammed:

    Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.

    This agenda continues as shown by the ma-ssacre in Mumbai, the as-sas-sinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, the Ft. Hood follower of the koran, and the Filipino “koranics”.

    And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

    Current crises:

    The global Sunni-Shiite blood feud (e.g. Syria) and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

    And if I uttered those words in Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Afghanistan or Pakistan, I would be executed. And yet my tax money supports four of these five countries.

    Today, the absurdity of Islam significantly overshadows the absurdity of today's other religions.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    February 24, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  16. William Wilberforce

    Sadly, biblical prophecy does not lists America as a key player in this religious war that ha brewing right know, the key players will be the Europans led by the Vatican and the Islamists led no Iran, that means that America at that time will be geopolitically irrelevant .

    February 24, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • momoya

      It depends on which believer you're talking to. Interpreters of biblical prophecy can justify any statement they choose make. You know, this verse over here means to read this one over here like this, and then you add in a few sprinkles of Daniel... you get the idea.

      February 24, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  17. Rainer Braendlein

    The mass media are about to make us completely mad.

    They report that some editions of the "holy" Koran were burned and they say it in a tone of voice as if a second Fukoshima had occured and many people had died again.

    At the same time they report that two soldiers (anyway two human beings, loved by God) had been killed in a tone of voice as if a sack of rice had fallen over in China.

    Sorry, what is worse?

    The burning of a book or the death of two beloved human beings?

    Seemingly the mass media are infected by the Islamic virus of madness: The Muslims love a ridiculous book more than human beings.

    That the Islam legalizes violence and murder in religious connections or matters is a clear evidence for its falseness.

    The Islam cannot be a divine belief, but, I say, it is a product of hell.

    Muhammad rush in history and nobody had expected him. He came directly out of the darkness like a demon. He was a man, which was led by his basest instincts. He spread his religion by using the sword.

    In contrast Jesus Christ was predicted by the prophets of the Old Testament. Jesus wrought plenty of miracles. Jesus doctrine fit together with the doctrine of the Old Testament. Jesus used no violence. Jesus cured people and made them happy, but he did not slay people. Jesus finally resurrected from the dead, which was the greatest miracle of all history. By this was finally proved the divine sonship of Jesus Christ. He is Lord and God for ever and ever (in contrast little Muhammad's body was eaten by dogs).

    The Islam has no roots in Judaism, which was the age-old legitimate religion. The Islam is a distortion of both Judaism and Christianity and thus the Islam is a meaningless fraud.

    In contrast Christianity is the legitimate successor of Judaism. Strictly speaking there was never a difference between true Judaism and Christianity. It was always true that people had to be saved by faith in Christ (also the believers of the Old Testament). Never someone was saved by keeping the law, because nobody can and ever could keep the law by natural strength. Jesus was a Jewish King, a descendant of David, which is a further connection to good old Judaism. Jesus was first sent to the Jews and the first Christians were converted Jews (strictly speaking they had not to convert, but just to accept their Messiah Jesus from Nazareth).

    I don't hate Muslims, but the Islam. Muslims are beloved human beings despite their false belief.

    It is my prayer that the God of Israel and the Christian God may give the real faith to the poor Muslims, which have gone astray.

    February 24, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • Reality

      Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

      February 24, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • W247

      Rainer Braendlein

      Thank you for your wise words! May the Lord give us all the wisdom we so desperately need in this world.

      February 24, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Rainer, The words you wrote are the TRUTH. May the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ be glorified now even through the martyrdom of His beloved saints, as it was glorified throughout all ages! This sorrow is only for a moment, and the glory which follows for those who suffer it is far exceeding the pain of this earthly suffering. This man is not to be pitied. It's the murderous executioners and those who walk in darkness of their demonic religion that need to be pitied. May God open the eyes of many of them and bring them out of their darkness!

      February 24, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
  18. LostNomad

    This is the stupidest thing I've heard in a long time. Clearly, the Iranian court system is a shining beacon of integrity, knowledge and justice. Stay tuned, as next up is a woman on trial for not liking the colour green followed by a donkey that pooped in an obscene and not-at-all-funny manner.

    February 24, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  19. TheRationale

    Why does anyone expect a theocracy, much less an Islamic one, to be moral, ethical, or intelligent?

    Iran has such a backwards and ignorant government. It's stuck in an ideology that's been outdated for centuries.

    February 24, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
  20. A Psalm for the Pastor

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ux509Fgu3ck&w=640&h=390]
    Dear Pastor Youcef,You are in our prayers!

    February 24, 2012 at 10:43 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.