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August 9th, 2014
06:01 PM ET

Why missionaries put their lives on the line

By Daniel Burke and Ashley Fantz, CNN

(CNN) - It wasn’t as if God's voice boomed through sun-parted clouds, telling Kent Brantly to move his family to Liberia.

Still, the young doctor said, the call was clear.

It echoed through the congregation where he was raised, Southeastern Church of Christ in Indianapolis.

Standing before the church community in July 2013, months before he left for Africa, Brantly said he heard the call in the teachers who urged him to memorize Scripture and the neighbors who funded his first mission trip years ago.

He saw it in the aunts and uncles who spent their vacations running Bible camps, organizing youth groups and serving missions themselves in Africa.

“It may not seem like much,” Brantly said in an emotional address to the Southeastern congregation, “but when you connect the dots you see a grand design that God has used to draw my life in a certain direction.”

For Brantly, that meant serving a two-year medical mission in Liberia with Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian relief organization. But in a grim twist that garnered international headlines, the 33-year-old contracted Ebola while treating patients and was airlifted back to the United States.

Brantly and a fellow missionary, Nancy Writebol, who was serving with SIM, another Christian aid organization, are being treated for the disease at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

After Liberia's outbreak began in March 2013, Writebol volunteered at a hospital in Monrovia, where she disinfected doctors and nurses working with patients stricken by the disease.

Despite their weakened health, their trust in God remains strong, family members said.

“Mom is tired from her travel, but continues to fight the virus and strengthen her faith in her Redeemer, Jesus,” said Jeremy Writebol, Nancy’s son.

On Friday, Brantly said that he felt a spiritual serenity even after learning his diagnosis.

“I remember a deep sense of peace that was beyond all understanding,” he said. “God was reminding me of what he had taught me years ago, that he will give me everything I need to be faithful to him.

Though Brantly's wife and children had been in Liberia with him, they had returned to the United States when he became ill.

In addition to the American missionaries, a nun and a priest from Spain who worked in Liberia also contracted Ebola, two more victims in an outbreak that health officials describe as the largest and most complex in the history of the disease.

As of Saturday, 961 people have died, nearly all in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, where more than 1,770 cases have been reported, according to the World Health Organization.

Heroic or foolish? 

In the United States, much of the attention last week focused on the missionaries, who knowingly put themselves in harm’s way.

Christians have long debated the effectiveness of missions, with some arguing that they can, at times, cause more harm than good – both to missionaries and the people they are trying to help.

But rarely has the debate ranged as far afield of Christian circles or become as bitterly divided as it has since the American missionaries' return to the United States.

Prominent Christians, such as R. Albert Mohler Jr. and Russell Moore, called Brantly and Writebol heroic.

The missionaries knew the risks of contracting Ebola but worked with patients, doctors and nurses to try to contain the outbreak, the evangelicals said.

On the other hand, real estate mogul Donald Trump tweeted that people who travel to foreign countries to help are "great" but “must suffer the consequences” of their actions.

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter was even more unsympathetic, saying Brantley’s health status had been “downgraded to ‘idiotic.’”

“Why did Dr. Brantly have to go to Africa?” Coulter wrote. “The very first ‘risk factor’ listed by the Mayo Clinic for Ebola - an incurable disease with a 90 percent fatality rate - is: ‘Travel to Africa.’”

Nancy Writebol's husband, David, who remains in Liberia, answered the critics on Friday.

Writebol said he knows that some think missionaries like his wife are "foolish, or worse," to "put everybody in danger by going" to places like Liberia.

"But it’s that very calling," he said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "that demonstrates the characteristics, the great things that Christ has done for humanity. He left heaven and he came to a place of suffering and trouble and went about doing good.”

The Great Commission 

Besides the personal pull described by missionaries like Brantly, for centuries Christians have followed a more general call to spread the Gospel through word and deed. Known as the Great Commission, it began when Jesus told the apostles to “go and make disciples of all nations.”

Since then, millions of believers – from Baptists to Mormons to Jehovah’s Witnesses - have stuffed scriptures into suitcases and preached the Gospel in nearly every corner of the globe.

For centuries, serving those missions meant spending decades abroad, learning a culture and its language, and trying, with varying degrees of success, to convert native peoples to Christianity.

But short-term missions - often defined as less than two years - exploded in the 1970s and ‘80s with the advent of cheap and safe travel, scholars say. For evangelicals in particular, mission trips have become almost a rite of passage. In his 33 years, Kent Brantly had already served missions in Haiti, Honduras, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Nicaragua.

In doing so, Brantly is one of an estimated 1.6 million Americans adults who embark on short-term mission trips to foreign countries each year, according to Princeton University sociologist Robert Wuthnow.

If domestic missions and Christians under 18 were included, that number would rise to about 2.4 million, said David Armstrong, executive director of Mission Data International.

It’s an indication of how seriously Christians take Jesus’ call to reach “all nations,” a task to which they bring ever-increasing technical sophistication.

The Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts, for instance, keeps tabs on the precise percentage of the world’s population who have been “evangelized.”

As of mid-2014, about 71% of the world has heard the Gospel through personal preaching, radio, television books or other media, the center says.

But not all missions are about evangelizing.

There are basically three types of missionaries, said Albert W. Hickman, a researcher at the Center for the Study of Global Christianity: those who preach, those who do good works, and those who do both.

SIM, which Nancy Writebol joined in 2013, belongs in the last category.

'Do you mind if I pray with you?'

Originally know as Sudan Interior Ministry, the Christian group has been active in Africa since 1893, when two young Canadians and an American set out to preach the Gospel in sub-Saharan Africa.

Within months, the men contracted malaria. Two died, but one survived and went on to help lay the groundwork for the modern SIM, which now stands for the more general Serving in Mission.

“Even early on, our people were willing to sacrifice or to die for their faith,” said George Salloum, SIM USA’s vice president of finance and operations.

More than 1,600 SIM missionaries now work in 60 countries.

The majority are recruited online, a process that starts with questions for applicants like: Do you share your faith with others? Is prayer a regular part of your life? Are you disciplined, accountable? Have your really thought about how hard being a missionary will be?

The list of missions SIM offers is extensive – from a Bible school teacher in Mongolia to a water engineer in South Sudan. The group also sends medical professionals to mission hospitals and clinics throughout the world.

Before they travel, missionaries go through cross-cultural training, learning, for example, how close should they stand while taking to someone and how different cultures greet strangers.

Missionaries also are also trained in their most critical skill, Salloum said: How to provide practical help while simultaneously spreading the Gospel.

For instance, when a person suffers from an illness or injury, the medical missionary will approach and ask if they can help. “The missionary just shares something ... and then sometimes they’ll say, ‘Do you mind if I pray with you?’”

“People will say, ‘Why are you doing that?’ And we tell them that’s what Christ did,’” Salloum said. “It’s a natural transition – someone who has a physical need then to have a spiritual need.”

That's precisely what Nancy Writebol did in Liberia, said the SIM executive. “She talked to children, she shared the Gospel. She was just available, there for the people. That was her world.”

Writebol and her husband are originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, and have two adult sons, according to SIM.

In Liberia, before the outbreak, Nancy served as a personnel coordinator, guiding new missionaries as they entered the West African country. She also volunteered on the staff of ELWA hospital, where David Writebol worked as a technical services manager of the 100-building complex.

"We aren't going to stop our ministry – we believe we can serve wherever God sends us," David Writebol said on Friday.

Samaritan’s Purse, the Christian relief organization Brantly worked for, declined to speak to CNN.

David Armstrong, from Mission Data International, said the organization, which is headed by Franklin Graham, focuses chiefly on emergency aid, particularly the physical needs of native populations. But they also try to tend to spiritual needs, which means providing Bibles and setting up prayer meetings.

“They are sharing the Gospel, but it’s more of a one-on-one, person-to-person thing,” Armstrong said.

Good works (without preaching the Gospel) 

One of the world's largest faith-based organizations doesn't even like the "missionary" label, according to a spokesman, because of the word's association with proselytizing.

Though Catholic Relief Services says it is motivated by the Gospel to embody Catholic social and moral teaching, it does not preach to the people it helps.

In fact, you don't even have to be Catholic to work for Catholic Relief Services. Among its 4,500 workers are many Muslims, Hindus and members of other religions, said Bill O’Keefe, the organization’s vice president of advocacy.

“We assist people of all backgrounds and religions and we do not attempt to engage in discussions of faith," O’Keefe said. “We’re proud of that. We like to say that we assist everybody because we’re Catholic, we don’t assist people to become Catholic.”

Founded in 1943, CRS has 4,500 workers more than 60 countries, including 250 CRS workers in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria, the West African nations hit hardest by the latest Ebola outbreak.

“The biggest obstacles they’re facing is misinformation,” said CRS spokesman Michael Stulman, who was recently in Sierra Leone. “The people believe that Ebola is a curse or that it’s a lie made up by authorities.”

Meredith Dyson, CRS’s health program manager in Freetown, Sierra Leone, said her job is to get the public to stop believing those myths.

Some Liberians, for instance, believe that a soft drink can cure the disease, or that Ebola is a nefarious plot concocted by nongovernmental organizations and the government.

“People say don’t go to the hospital, you won’t come back because healthcare workers are injecting people and killing them,” she said.

“Every myth is born of some kind of truth – it is partly what they’re seeing – people are going to hospital and not coming home.”

Dyson, 31, studied public health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore where she met people who worked for CRS. Though not Catholic herself, Dyson said the church's teachings on human dignity and social justice resonated deeply with her.

Describing the recent Ebola outbreak, Dyson's voice breaks as she recalls two CRS colleagues - both Africans - who died will trying to help others.

“The people who work in this setting are close knit,” she said. “They become your family. It can be really hard.”

Unexpected places 

Back in the United States, sitting in an isolation room at Emory University hospital, Brantly said he didn’t move to Liberia to fight Ebola, but that it became necessary after the outbreak there.

He said he held the hands of countless patients who died of the disease, and still remembers each of their faces and names.

Brantly's mission may not have been what he imagined when he spoke to Southeastern Church of Christ those many months ago, but his focus remains the same: going wherever God leads.

“One thing I have learned," Brantly said, "is that following God often leads us to unexpected places.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Africa • Catholic Church • Charity • Christianity • Ethics • evangelicals • Faith & Health • Foreign policy • Health • Health care • Liberia • Missionaries

soundoff (2,880 Responses)
  1. wellcomeall

    This story isn't about "missionary" work, it's about "kissing the leper," a uniquely Christian concept. Which is why a suburban dirtbag like Coulter can't embrace it. She occasionally mocks Rand-ites, but this was Ayn Rosenbaum-Rand at her most execrable.

    August 10, 2014 at 10:13 am |
    • igaftr

      "it's about "kissing the leper," a uniquely Christian concept."

      What are you talking abouty "uniquely christian" You don't think that other people, even those who don't believe in your "god", can help the sick, injured?
      How is it unique to christianity?

      August 10, 2014 at 10:51 am |
      • austin929

        Igaftr, hows it going? question, ..beacause you have heard about the resurrection and you see no evidence. but if you had a choice for the resurrection to be true or not true, what would your choice in the matter be?

        August 10, 2014 at 12:34 pm |
        • igaftr

          austin
          With that question you have stumbled onto one of the biggest problems with belief...the tricks you will go through in your mind to justify belief in things there is no evidence for whatsoever.
          By asking that question, you slip from what is real, to what you imagine, so is completely moot.
          I would choose that if there were a "god", that it would not require a leap away from logic and reason to claim a prize.
          I would not make one person suffer punishment for all others, and I would not make people have a choice where "salvation" is purchased by allowing another to take my punishment.
          Whether or not there are gods, it is obvious that christianity is entirely man made.

          August 10, 2014 at 12:50 pm |
        • austin929

          Igaftr. as you can see with the satanin control of Iraq and the suppression of Christianity, it is clear that the Christianity has nothing to do with occupation.

          those people aren't dumb. they have a satanic motive.

          I totally understand that your "feelings" are more moral than God's plan for your soul, but you must choose to first see that God is holy, and this world is evil and full of death. two very obvious statements, and neither should not appeal to logic or reason.

          as your statements go about evidence, I have many times with particular real people, experienced the synchronicity of the spirit. and you have asked "well what if it was satan".

          the fact that God knows the future and Satan does not, is how I know that God is at work when these supernatural things happen. Danny Majon, Shawn his cousin, Sheldon Clay............these are real people who have also experienced these things with me. Tamim ali al Tamimi. Real people who can confirm the transmissions between us that were supernatural.

          your desire you to tell me that I have no evidence is a fascist like , dictorial tyrannical approach to integrity and honesty.

          August 10, 2014 at 1:02 pm |
        • igaftr

          austin
          ""as you can see with the satanin control of Iraq"

          What are you trying to say there?Are you attempting to claim satan is in control of Iraq?
          Where? How do you know that?...oh right, basless beliefs again.

          "those people aren't dumb. they have a satanic motive."
          Which people, and again, how do you know that? Isn't there something in your book about bearing false witness?...and yet here you are doing it.

          "the fact that God knows the future and Satan does not"

          Do you know what the definition of a fact is?
          Your above statement does not even come close to fact, but thanks for an insight into your chosen path of self delusion, self-rationalization. fact? hilarious.

          "Real people who can confirm the transmissions between us that were supernatural"

          Well gosh, since they are real people afterall, they would know...have you considered doing stand-up?
          They "confirmed" nothing supernatural. no one ever has.

          "your desire you to tell me that I have no evidence is a fascist like , dictorial tyrannical approach to integrity and honesty."
          False, simply pointing out that you are blindly atributing some experience to some "god" and not examining all other possibilities. I can't help you if you do not know what a fact is, or what evidence is, and then a cause effect relationship.
          By all means, believe whatever you want, just don't keep acting like your beliefs are true simply because you want them to be.

          It is not "fascist like" to point out the fact that you do not have evidence that can not only exclude all other possibilities, but proves this "god" of your exists.

          August 10, 2014 at 1:31 pm |
        • austin929

          yep satanic igaftr correct. and lying about the Holy Spirit or any other spiritual enti.ty is your choice to make.

          psychological extermination of reality is what you do for a hobby. good luck.

          August 10, 2014 at 2:07 pm |
        • tallulah131

          Religion makes austin feel special. Religion gives austin an excuse to judge and name the motives of others by what he wants them to be, not by what they really are. Austin is an unreliable witness because austin refuses to allow reality to color his judgements.

          August 10, 2014 at 2:38 pm |
        • igaftr

          "yep satanic igaftr correct. and lying about the Holy Spirit or any other spiritual enti.ty is your choice to make."

          So , why do you keep doing it?

          First, show this Satan of yours exists, then show he had something to do with Iraq, as you have claimed.
          Otherwise, you are , in fact, lying, and bearing false witness.

          August 10, 2014 at 3:46 pm |
        • austin929

          "First, show this Satan of yours exists, then show he had something to do with Iraq, as you have claimed.
          Otherwise, you are , in fact, lying, and bearing false witness."

          Igaftr..............since when do I have to show you something, "or I have lied"

          this does not make sense and these are hard to keep patiently responding to.

          @Talullah.......the truth is not something that I feel Talullah, its not an emotion. and most of the time when the truth is persecuted, it is not a " special feeling "

          Talullah, you sound sympathetic to ISIS, and maybe you just don't like my particular terminology, but how do you feel about the subject matter "Isis is killing the yazidis"?

          do you have time to elaborate on why you are combating the Idea that Satan is involved in this type of oppression?

          August 10, 2014 at 3:56 pm |
    • austin929

      anne coulter is a professional mockery.

      August 10, 2014 at 12:36 pm |
  2. cleminga

    Missionaries can do more harm than good. Before cell phones Christians would go to Muslim countries and spread the word of Christ by handing out a tape known as the "Jesus Tape". This was a tape translated into 200+ languages. There have been many instances where Christians have been caught handing out the tape by area officials (militia) and forced to give up the people who accepted the materials they left. I am certain some of these people were reprimanded at best and more likely tortured or worse for simply accepting Christian material. If you ask these Judases/Christians if the consequences these people suffer is worth the risk, they would probably tell you that the ends justify the means.

    August 10, 2014 at 9:59 am |
    • Dalahäst

      Nobody should be punished for accepting a tape, regardless of what the subject is. How often did this happen? Do you have any links that describe this?

      August 10, 2014 at 10:26 am |
      • cleminga

        One instance in 2001, Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer, were arrested in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 3, 2001 by the ruling Taliban regime. They were charged with preaching Christianity in the strict Islamic state. The two were visiting a private home in Kabul when they were arrested. The Taliban, which forbid foreigners from visiting local homes, allege that the two women went beyond their activities with helping the needy and began spreading the Christian gospel, a crime under Taliban law. The women had been showing the Jesus film.

        August 10, 2014 at 10:54 am |
        • Dalahäst

          The ruling Taliban regime was just horrible. Nobody should be punished for visiting a private home and talking about Christianity.

          And this wasn't before cell phones.

          August 10, 2014 at 10:57 am |
      • cleminga

        http://www.nytimes.com/2001/08/26/world/taliban-will-allow-access-to-jailed-christian-aid-workers.html

        Taliban's religious police, the Department for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. Anyone caught watching a video risks six months in prison and a fine of about 10 cents for every meter of tape. The Taliban have also said Afghan's re-distributing Christian material may be subject to the death penalty.

        August 10, 2014 at 11:11 am |
        • cleminga

          Sorry, you are right, I should have been more specific, smart phones, not cell phones. It would have made sharing the film much more discreet as opposed to running it on a VHS player or a laptop. I doubt many Afghans had either in 2001.

          August 10, 2014 at 11:16 am |
        • Dalahäst

          What a bunch of d*ckheads.

          August 10, 2014 at 11:19 am |
        • cleminga

          I don't know that referring to them as "d*ckheads" is accurate. Christian Missionaries enticing Muslims to view Christian material when they know the consequences are so grave for the Muslim individual and their family is reckless and irresponsible.

          August 10, 2014 at 11:39 am |
        • austin929

          cleminga, that comment can be seen as satanic control or fascism of sorts.

          I have a problem with that. When you are denied your freedom of religion or the freedom to worship Christ, that is exactly the time and place for a Christian to lay down his life for his sheep.

          The soul is eternal, and this is why satan kills. He is protecting the lost to be lost and condemned.

          do you see that power at work? that is EXACTLY what we see.

          August 10, 2014 at 12:54 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I really have no sympathy for the Taliban. I'm not sure what is wrong with sharing about Christianity in a private home.

          August 10, 2014 at 12:54 pm |
        • austin929

          if you listen to the blood libel blitzer interview, that rude finger pointing dude, dances circles,and states that they accept Christians and Jews and that they only deny occupation.

          then you have the U.S funding Syrian al "C.I.A.da " and these people are marching around killing people and we have bombed them now.

          ok........... this is all just making me feel like puking. We have absolutely with our CIA enraged the devil and totally screwd up the entire middle east from north Africa, through Syria, and now into Europe

          this is un acceptable . I am a pilgrim.

          August 10, 2014 at 1:08 pm |
        • cleminga

          austin929 I think you are missing the point. Christians aren't martyring themselves over there. Christians knowingly put Muslims in jeopardy by sharing their faith with them. When Christians are caught by the religious police, Christians routinely tell the Taliban which Muslims they met with and what types of religious activities they did. Go ask any missionary organization about how they instruct their people on what to do in the event they are caught by the religious police. If it's not "Cooperate Fully" they are lying.

          August 10, 2014 at 1:47 pm |
        • austin929

          clemina............you seem to me to be a dangerous and freaky individual. that is the point that comes across to me, is the way you see it and rationalize the talibans stance. I am pretty sure that you stand directly against the Lord Jesus Christ and his commands.

          that's about all that matters is the way you rationalize the Taliban. you are a Taliban supporter.

          August 10, 2014 at 2:03 pm |
        • austin929

          and so are Dick Cheney and George Bush

          August 10, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I'm for freedom. Not Taliban control.

          August 10, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
        • tallulah131

          It does not matter what you think, Dala. When missionaries go into lands where their religion is forbidden, they are willfully endangering the lives of the people they wish to convert. The end may justify the means to you, but in reality it simply selfish behavior on the part of the missionaries who don't care who they endanger as long as they look good to their "god".

          August 10, 2014 at 2:42 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          The Taliban are power-mongers with guns who have no right telling others what they can and can't believe or say. Don't be afraid to stand up to their wicked ways. Do it for freedom.

          August 10, 2014 at 2:48 pm |
        • LaBella

          Nobody should die for their beliefs.
          Nobody should put someone else in danger for their beliefs, either.

          August 10, 2014 at 3:06 pm |
        • new-man

          tallulah, => "When missionaries go into lands where their religion is forbidden, they are willfully endangering the lives of the people they wish to convert."

          Common sense would dictate if they're still going despite their religion being forbidden, then they're not going to make converts as you so conveniently think, but rather for compassionate reasons.
          When you can love someone else as Christ loves you, you'll have no problem understanding how this (the above) is done.

          August 10, 2014 at 3:30 pm |
        • tallulah131

          Make all the excuse you want, Newman. When missionaries go into lands to attempt to convert where their religion is forbidden, they are willfully endangering the lives of the people they wish to convert. This is utterly selfish. If they wish to simply bring aid to others, they should leave the religion out of it. If it was honestly about helping others, they wouldn't endanger the people they are claiming to help by trying to convert them.

          August 12, 2014 at 2:56 am |
  3. btdt2x

    I don't have an issue with the calling of these two individuals. It's one of the great freedoms of our nations to be able to travel to the four corners of the world to bring health, food, water, spirituality and comfort to others in a time of need. What I have a problem with, is the fact that having contacted this terrible disease, some idiot thought it should be transported off continent bringing the disease back to a CONTINENT that is free of Ebola. A triage or treatment centre could have been set up in Africa (in whichever country these missionaries where working), minimizing the risk to the rest of the world. It would have provided the international attention that seems to have been warranted and have the benefit of being able to apply the research and treatment results to others suffering, not just the Americans.

    To anyone who thinks that there is no risk ... REALLY? Did we learn nothing from the onset and spread of AIDS? We are being told that the spread of this disease isn't that easy ... REALLY? Then why was it necessary to provide a clear access route for the ambulance transfer in Atlanta, shutting down major highways and streets? Why was it then necessary to send what amounted to a vacuum sealed plane with hazmat suits to pick up the second patient? Why was it necessary to take this awful disease off continent at all?

    August 10, 2014 at 9:31 am |
    • delightfulsimplicity

      Well said. The debate is about not to take the risks that you can't handle, not to risk your life if unprepared to die for the calling (which wouldn't have happened anyways), and fully knowing the risk you are taking beforehand. It is no longer heroism if they expected a guranteed the rescue.

      August 10, 2014 at 9:46 am |
    • igaftr

      Those transfers where they cordon off areas etc, is in response to the panic that uninformed citzens, such as yourself tend to cause.

      August 10, 2014 at 9:50 am |
      • LaBella

        Oh, I posted before I saw this; sorry.

        August 10, 2014 at 1:56 pm |
    • LaBella

      The road closures, etcetera, are due to the nature of the media blowing this all out of proportio; it was done primarily to quell the hysteria that naturally accompanies our hyperbolic media.
      If it were not done, the outrage would have been over why it wasn't done.
      Ebola isn't airborne. Doctors can use the same precautionary measures they do with HIV patients.

      August 10, 2014 at 1:55 pm |
  4. James XCIX

    "Christians have long debated the effectiveness of missions, with some arguing that they can, at times, cause more harm than good"

    Honest questions for any Christians out there who care to answer.

    What do you believe happens to the souls of those who never hear about Jesus? They have never had an occasion to reject him, but will they still be doomed because they never had an occasion to accept him? And if you believe they are not doomed, why then would anyone tell them about him, since there is a high likelihood they will not believe and thus will become doomed to eternal torment?

    August 10, 2014 at 9:11 am |
    • callnews

      "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more." Luke 12:48
      God is equal and requires only of what He's given. But what He's given is His Son to die for the sins you and I have committed. It's free; all any of us has to do is to accept that gift. Of course if we choose not to accept that gift, we choose to pay a debt we cannot afford.
      "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23
      " Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Galatians 6:7
      As far as what man requires, he just wants more, till you're depleted with no remedy. Hasn't history shown us this?

      August 10, 2014 at 9:48 am |
      • igaftr

        "God is equal and requires only of what He's given"

        Do you realize that statement does not make any sense?

        God is whatever you imagine him to be, but no one has ever been able to show "He" is anything more than imagination.
        How do you expect to get into Valhalla if you are nto a warrior, how do you plan on getting a preferred seat near Zeus on Mount Olympus, if you don't devote at least part of your life to him?

        August 10, 2014 at 9:56 am |
        • austin929

          Igaftr There are levitical priests and rabbis who are Jews. They know who they are and how they came about. and they have their book of the prophets. Saying "nobody" and insinuating "nothing but imagination", just shows that you are really desperate to hear from God. I'll pray for you.

          August 10, 2014 at 10:31 am |
        • igaftr

          sorry austin, not a single one who claims to know "god" can show this evidence,( or how they excluded all other possibilities) indicating that it is entirely in the head of the person who BELIEVES they know god. Since this evidence is completley housed within these individuals heads, it is in their imagination, entirely.
          There is no evidence external to the imagination anywhere.

          August 10, 2014 at 10:46 am |
        • Dalahäst

          igaftr

          Maybe that is all in your head?. There are wiser, smarter and more intelligent people that believe in God. And not for the simplistic reasons you list. You do come off as somewhat desperate as you try to demand your opinion is the only valid one.

          August 10, 2014 at 11:01 am |
        • igaftr

          no dala, not my opinion. Not once has anyone ever shown any valid evidence.

          There is a million dollar prize that has gone unclaimed for a very long time if you can provide evidence of the supernatural...it goes unclaimed.

          Just because you have chosen to accept less than evidence and self deluded the rest, does not mean I am wrong, or that it is opinion.
          It is only the seriously self deluded that claim to know. You cannot know as there are too many other possibilities.
          Why have you closed you mind so tightly?

          August 10, 2014 at 11:25 am |
        • Dalahäst

          + no dala, not my opinion. Not once has anyone ever shown any valid evidence.

          That is your opinion.

          + There is a million dollar prize that has gone unclaimed for a very long time if you can provide evidence of the supernatural...it goes unclaimed.

          Haha. That doesn't prove God doesn't exist. Or all the other claims you make about believers.

          + Just because you have chosen to accept less than evidence and self deluded the rest, does not mean I am wrong, or that it is opinion.

          It doesn't mean you are right. Or what you share is a fact, either. Or that I have chosen to accept less than evidence. Or that I'm self deluded. Or that you are not self deluded.

          + It is only the seriously self deluded that claim to know. You cannot know as there are too many other possibilities.

          No, it is not only the self-deluded that claim to know. There are very intelligent, rational and reasonable people that believe in God. I do consider all the possibilities.

          + Why have you closed you mind so tightly?

          Right back at you. Your closed minded-view that all believers in God have chosen to accept less than evidence and are self deluded just isn't the only possibilty. You cannot know yourself as there are too many other possibilities.

          August 10, 2014 at 1:10 pm |
        • igaftr

          dala
          Once again misrepresent the argument.
          "+ There is a million dollar prize that has gone unclaimed for a very long time if you can provide evidence of the supernatural...it goes unclaimed.

          Haha. That doesn't prove God doesn't exist. Or all the other claims you make about believers.

          I never said that it proves god doesn't exist.
          I simply pointed out that there is a standing offer, but you must meet the criteria of evidence and that has not been claimed.
          You claim to have evidence...funny, but by all means prove it and win $1 million.
          Until you do, you "knowing" god, remains squarely in the self delusion catagory.

          There continues to be no ACTUAL evidence...only things that people mistakingly accept as if it was evidence...as you have shown many times.

          Again, posting to you is the same as posting to a wall.
          My mind is open to all possibilities...I haven't simply chosen one and claimed it true as you have.

          August 10, 2014 at 1:18 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Maybe you should open your mind to the possibility that I can be open-minded and believe in God. Maybe I haven't simply chosen one possiblity and claimed it to be true, like you suggest. Maybe you should open your mind to the possiblity that you are wrong about that.

          It is possible that there is evidence for God, but you personally have closed your mind to it. That is a possibility. I've been a victim of that mindset. I used to proclaim there was no ACTUAL evidence for God just like you do.

          August 10, 2014 at 1:56 pm |
        • igaftr

          dala
          "It is possible that there is evidence for God, but you personally have closed your mind to it'
          No...I just can confirm that no evidence has ever been offered.
          I have heard everything around you is evidence...no it isn't
          I have heard, the universe is too complex for it to be naturally occurring, it MUST be ID...no it doesn't
          I have heard many claim they "know" god exists, but not one can actually show any evidence, or how they have excluded other possibilities, so in actuallity, they do not actually know.

          While my mind is open to all possibilities, but as yet have seen no evidence, you claim evidence but refuse to show it. ( or are unable to show your evidence not only that god exists, but also ecludes the other possibilities.

          You yourself say you "know" god exists, but yet you ALSO said you could have been decieved, showing you don't even understand what you believe you "know".

          You really like to run yourself in pointless "logic" circles, but you still do not "know" any gods exist, unless you use one of your dala definitions from the dala dictionary, and then it'll mean whatever you want.

          August 10, 2014 at 2:09 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          What words have I defined, that you disagree with? And what definition would you suggest I use?

          There are just 3 or 4 posters on here that give me a hard time for defining words (which I use an actual dictionary to define), yet they have never answered those questions.

          I know some believers are closed minded, and don't consider other possibilities. I also know some atheists are like that, too. It is possible you are victim of that mindset yourself. It is possible I'm a victim of that mindset.

          Part of the way I found God was being open-minded. It is something I strive for. I've learned that God's ways are not my ways. Being closed minded, it makes it hard to see that truth.

          August 10, 2014 at 2:18 pm |
        • igaftr

          "What words have I defined, that you disagree with? And what definition would you suggest I use?

          There are just 3 or 4 posters on here that give me a hard time for defining words (which I use an actual dictionary to define), yet they have never answered those questions. "

          False. I answered the question and you responded. Do not lie and say it never happened.

          August 10, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Didn't I provide an actual definition for an actual dictionary?

          What word was it? It shouldn't be that hard for you to tell me. Help me out. I'm seriously baffled by what you claim.

          August 10, 2014 at 2:30 pm |
      • James XCIX

        " Of course if we choose not to accept that gift, we choose to pay a debt we cannot afford."

        But my question concerned situations where a choice was never possible because the options were not known.

        August 10, 2014 at 12:55 pm |
    • kevinite

      I do believe that those who already believe are obligated in this life to serve and teach others who are willing to be open to learning about it. Then to those which never got the opprotunity in the first place in this life to learn then they will have the opprotunity to learn and choose whether to accept it or not when they are deceased.

      18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

      19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

      20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
      1 Peter 3:18-20 KJV

      If these spirits were such lost souls, then why was it believed that Jesus preached to these spirits? To me it shows how God does love all of his children and that we will all have the opprotunity to learn and choose whether to accept it or not.

      August 10, 2014 at 9:53 am |
      • James XCIX

        "...they will have the opprotunity to learn and choose whether to accept it or not when they are deceased."

        It seems to me that someone making the choice after death is making the choice with far more evidence than they would have had while alive. In other words, I can't imagine anyone rejecting Jesus if they get to make the choice after death, can you? So it seems wrong to inform them and force a choice while they are alive, without the extra evidence they would get after death.

        August 10, 2014 at 12:38 pm |
        • kevinite

          How would you figure that they would have more convincing evidence after death?

          August 10, 2014 at 6:32 pm |
        • James XCIX

          LaBella is correct–they would have knowledge that there is indeed an afterlife, and that there is some other-wordly method for making a decision about Jesus. This puts them at an advantage over those who don't know about these things.

          August 11, 2014 at 9:01 am |
        • kevinite

          How would it be that their situation was for sure conclusive that there is a Christ, Jesus as opposed to their situation being the result of some other deity or even that their situation was of some other cause altogether than the result of deity?

          August 11, 2014 at 10:55 am |
        • James XCIX

          Well, what will be the mechanism for determining if they accept Jesus in the afterlife? Is someone going to tell them about him, then ask if they accept him, or what? At the very least, finding out their preconceived idea of the afterlife was wrong would be compelling evidence that perhaps one of the other religions was right. In any case, they'd still have much more evidence one way or the other in the afterlife than they did before they died.

          August 11, 2014 at 5:43 pm |
        • kevinite

          What makes you think that even with their state of being spirits was not what they expected would mean that there is more evidence than what they were given in life? To many, the notion that life and nature and the complexity of it and of the universe is proof enough for them that there is a God while for others that is not sufficient evidence. Judging what is true is in the eye of the beholder.

          Just because in that scenario that they are in a state of being that was not what was expected, that does not necessarily mean that they would automatically be more receptive than what would have been to them if they had that chance in life whether to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ.

          August 12, 2014 at 2:30 am |
        • James XCIX

          " Judging what is true is in the eye of the beholder."

          Agreed, but judging what's true usually involves considering the evidence. In their afterlife they will have evidence their prior belief was wrong. In other words, more evidence, plain and simple, so they are at an advantage over those who don't have that evidence.

          August 12, 2014 at 9:43 am |
        • kevinite

          If they don't see it or accept it, it's not more evidence plain and simple. Besides, in your scenario you are assuming one of two things. One, that the deceased individual accepts that they are in fact deceased as opposed to some other state altogether. Two, if they do accept that they are deceased that that in of itself is considered proof that it is the result of the God of Abraham, whoever that may be, as opposed to figuring that it was due to some other deity or force or some unknown result of nature.

          Just because there is the sheer fact in this scenario that there is an afterlife doesn't mean that one necessarily has (which in this case means accepts) further evidence.

          August 12, 2014 at 11:21 am |
        • James XCIX

          Well, you're leaving it pretty va-gue (understandably, since you can't possibly know) as to how someone in the afterlife winds up having an opportunity to accept Jesus or not, so one can't possibly predict how persuaded they would be.

          But he point is not that someone will automatically accept Jesus, or any religion different than the one they believed in their lifetime, upon finding themselves in some sort of afterlife. The point is that in any afterlife they will have evidence of their prior beliefs being correct or not.

          If they were not correct, they will be more open to a change of belief than they would have been while living, when they didn't have the benefit of that evidence.

          Therefore, since they are much more likely to accept a different religion after confirming in an afterlife that their earlier beliefs were wrong, they are put at a disadvantage if they are informed of those ideas while they are alive.

          And since the consequence of rejecting those ideas is supposed to be eternal punishment, it would seem cruel to impose a choice by informing them while they are still living and without all the evidence.

          So, in this sort of scenario, missionaries would seem to be doing much more harm than good.

          Of course, all of the above assumes that they actually will be offered a choice in their afterlife if they didn't know about it beforehand.

          August 12, 2014 at 1:25 pm |
        • kevinite

          Evidence of what? A state of limbo, a dream state, having a visionary experience, ODing on something? Just what irrefutable evidence is there?

          The evidence could be right under your nose, but if you don't know where to look or if you don't know what that evidence is that evidence is not going to do you any good. So how does that make it any more ASSURED evidence that what they recieved in their mortal lives?

          August 12, 2014 at 11:48 pm |
        • James XCIX

          “Then to those which never got the opprotunity in the first place in this life to learn then they will have the opprotunity to learn and choose whether to accept it or not when they are deceased.” (From your original post.)

          “Evidence of what? A state of limbo, a dream state, having a visionary experience, ODing on something? “

          This is your scenario, remember? You’ll have to supply the answer to that question. But you might remember that you said people who didn’t have an opportunity to choose during their lifetime will get an opportunity in their afterlife. Being in a state of limbo, etc, would seem to be at odds with the scenario you originally presented, since presumably they must be in a state of mind (if that even applies to an afterlife existence) that would allow them to correctly process new information and make a reasoned choice.

          “Just what irrefutable evidence is there?”

          I didn’t say there would be irrefutable evidence, just more (and very useful) evidence, which is all it takes to have an advantage.

          August 13, 2014 at 9:05 am |
        • LaBella

          Presumably because they would get convincing evidence that the afterlife exists?

          August 10, 2014 at 6:58 pm |
        • kevinite

          Evidence of an afterlife isn't exactly proof that it is the result of the God of Abraham as opposed to the result of somone or something else?

          August 11, 2014 at 11:00 am |
        • kevinite

          Just like evidence of this life isn't irrefutable proof that the God of Abraham is Abraham is real to a nonbeliever either.

          August 11, 2014 at 11:04 am |
        • hotairace

          This life is evidence that life is possible on Earth and in no way is evidence of any god. There is no actual (physical, verifiable, objective, independent) evidence for any god. None, zip, nada. But go ahead, be the first to prove me wrong.

          August 13, 2014 at 1:01 am |
        • kevinite

          The thing is James is that you are making an assumption; an assumption that really has no solid basis.

          August 13, 2014 at 1:16 pm |
        • James XCIX

          What am I assuming? I thought we were working off your scenario?

          August 13, 2014 at 2:28 pm |
        • kevinite

          I didn't put into the scenario anything about what evidence is presented before them. You were the one who brought in (assuming) that there would for certain be that particular evidence and assuming how one would react to that evidence.

          August 14, 2014 at 11:25 am |
        • James XCIX

          "... they will have the opprotunity to learn and choose whether to accept it or not when they are deceased."

          The opportunity to learn and choose (your scenario) is itself evidence, wouldn't you say?

          And don't you think it's a very reasonable assumption that discovering their previous ideas of the afterlife were wrong will have some impact on their later decision?

          August 14, 2014 at 12:55 pm |
        • kevinite

          If they actually see that that is truly their situation in the first place, and yes that is your assumption that they would just automatically make that conclusion.

          August 20, 2014 at 1:37 pm |
      • LaBella

        ""...they will have the opprotunity to learn and choose whether to accept it or not when they are deceased."
        Assuming there isn't an afterlife PowerPoint show with all of the various gods listed throughout the ages, I took this statement to mean your particular God is going to be the one giving people the chance to convert after death.

        If this isn't what you meant, Kevin, elucidate.

        August 11, 2014 at 11:11 am |
        • kevinite

          That is an assumption that there is no Powerpoint presentation or something of that nature. However, yes I do believe that those who are deceased that didn't get a chance to convert in this life will get that chance after this life.

          August 11, 2014 at 11:55 am |
        • LaBella

          Okay.
          That's what I thought you meant originally.
          Glad you clarified that.

          August 11, 2014 at 11:59 am |
    • Dalahäst

      I don't know what happens to the souls of those who never hear of Jesus. I don't know what will happen to my soul. I do know Jesus showed he loved others, especially those on the other side. I imagine Jesus can show them his love even after death. He conquered death.

      Who says people are doomed to eternal torment? Jesus saves and sets people free in this lifetime. This isn't just about what happens after we die.

      "Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you."

      James 1:27

      August 10, 2014 at 9:59 am |
      • James XCIX

        " This isn't just about what happens after we die."

        But if the afterlife is for eternity, this life is just a blink of the eye in comparison, so in that case I would consider achieving the appropriate afterlife more important than what happens in this life.

        August 10, 2014 at 12:47 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Most of what I learn about in Christianity is about today and the future. Hope. We don't know what exactly happens when we die or if God will raise us into eternity after death.

          August 10, 2014 at 1:12 pm |
        • James XCIX

          Isn't one of the major premises of Christianity that Jesus died for our sins so that we might have the chance to live with him eternally?

          August 10, 2014 at 1:24 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Today in church the pastor talked about God meeting us in our storms, trials and tribulations and helping us get through them together. From what I understand, God comes down to us and meets us where we are at. We don't make our way up to God. He don't have to beg, grovel before God. We don't have to puff ourselves up or make our selves better before God. We just humbly accept our place. He loves us. In return we share that love with others.

          Jesus lives. And He provides us help in this world. Today. Ask Him for help if you need it. I've experienced this to be true in my life.

          August 10, 2014 at 1:35 pm |
        • James XCIX

          That doesn't really answer my question, though. If a major premise of Christianity is that Jesus died for our sins so that we can live with him for eternity, obtaining the desired afterlife would seem to be paramount–after all, that's what he died for, right? Making what happens in this life relatively inconsequential.

          August 10, 2014 at 1:45 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          No. What we do matters. I don't really subscribe to that brand of theology you are describing.

          I think the author of the book of James provides my major premise of Christianity: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

          August 10, 2014 at 1:47 pm |
      • James XCIX

        "Who says people are doomed to eternal torment? "

        I think you must know the answer to your question.

        August 10, 2014 at 1:09 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I've never heard anyone but right-wing fundamentalist TV preachers and online atheists preach that God will eternally torment people.

          God has a plan of salvation for His whole creation. Not just for the select few that listen to the correct preacher man.

          August 10, 2014 at 1:14 pm |
        • James XCIX

          "I've never heard anyone but right-wing fundamentalist TV preachers and online atheists preach that God will eternally torment people."

          Really? I have no numbers at hand for support, but surely you're aware that the prevailing Christian view is that those who do not accept Jesus Christ as their lord and savior will suffer eternal torment?

          August 10, 2014 at 1:22 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Yes. Sure. Some do.

          I've never found any that can support their claims with The Bible or what Jesus taught.

          I've never heard anyone teaching that in the churches I go to.

          August 10, 2014 at 1:28 pm |
        • James XCIX

          "Yes. Sure. Some do."

          I think you're being either disingenuous or out of touch on this topic. Whether or not the idea can be supported biblically or otherwise, it's been my observation that the vast majority of Christians believe that non-believers end up in eternal torment.

          August 10, 2014 at 1:31 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I'm not denying that some believe that. I don't know who teaches that.

          In my experience most don't believe that. Hell is a place that God creates to destroy evil. Not eternally torment it. I think the danger is if one is consumed by evil, they will be destroyed with that evil if they refuse to let go of it.

          August 10, 2014 at 1:39 pm |
        • James XCIX

          OK, thank you for your input. I don't want to pry, but your replies have made me curious if you identify yourself as a follower of any particular denomination or sect of Christianity?

          August 11, 2014 at 8:49 am |
        • Dalahäst

          I belong to a Lutheran church. But also a non-denominational church, too. Both are big on the grace of God.

          August 11, 2014 at 1:44 pm |
    • wmroga

      Christianity's been around for about 2000 years, so a lot of theologians have had a lot of time to think about that issue. The Catholic stance is that people who haven't heard about Jesus can reach salvation by seeking truth and doing the will of God, as they understand it. That stance isn't shared by all churches, but it's the one I embrace.

      August 10, 2014 at 10:28 am |
      • James XCIX

        Interesting... thanks for the reply.

        August 10, 2014 at 12:42 pm |
      • Science Works

        Hey wmroga – the lost soul ?

        http://www.catholic.com/tracts/adam-eve-and-evolution

        August 10, 2014 at 12:44 pm |
        • austin929

          excessive devotion to science = worship. science is o.k. but not when you promote error along with at as you root.

          the devotion to error, is idolatry . idolatry desolates the soul, and when that happens the devil can do a walk in.

          then one can become soul enslaved. This is a satanic victory and triumph over ones soul.

          August 10, 2014 at 12:47 pm |
        • Science Works

          Hey austin – you remind of an old barn cat grandpa had-
          always chasing his tail in a circle.

          Rosetta Probe Reaches Comet To Study Origins Of Life
          Date:
          August 6, 2014
          Source:
          Newsy / Powered by NewsLook.com

          http://www.sciencedaily.com/videos/a015405ab8c0a91e73d54cb252a63772.htm

          August 10, 2014 at 1:29 pm |
    • Lynn

      James:

      "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment." John 5:25-29

      "For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand. He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. John 3:34-36

      Where an individual stands before God is up to them. He speaks of both deeds and faith in regards to where people stand with Him. To hear of Jesus Christ adequately, and then reject Him, does place a person in peril in their standing before God. But this is the same thing as the individual who chooses to never seek out God–a Creator to honor, if they don't have the Word of God–and to respect and do no harm to one's neighbor, in order to honor that Deity. God sees and knows what is in the heart. He judges all people justly. Telling people about the God who loves them, and leading them to His path of faith and righteousness, may be the only way that some people will be saved. The alternative for them, is where they already stand with God by their own choice. We are saved as a gift, by His grace. Salvation brings about a changed heart. Leaving people without the good news of God's love for them, could never be what is in their best interest.

      (I must note, there is a big difference between this, and the American Conservative Christian mission to establish political dominion for their views of Scripture, which has been repulsive and creates a barrier to the gospel. for many, in my view.)

      August 10, 2014 at 10:40 am |
      • James XCIX

        I'm sorry, but your answer is unclear to me. Perhaps I should make my question more clear. Are people who die without ever hearing about Jesus, and therefore never making a choice about him one way or the other, doomed, or not?

        August 10, 2014 at 12:41 pm |
        • Lynn

          My apologies if my answer was unclear. The fact that Jesus spoke about "deeds" in regards to salvation, would address those who have never heard the gospel. The God of Scripture is a just God. If someone dies having never had adequate exposure to His Word, obviously it would be unjust to condemn them for not having believed in His gospel. If they have never heard, but still honor a Creator/Supreme Being (as evidenced in a physical world that cannot lavishly and intelligently create itself), and recognize His law as it is written on the heart (e.g. do no wrong to others)–according to Scripture, they are resurrected unto judgment–not personally knowing the Savior or having yet received forgiveness for their sins–and will stand before Him to be judged. (All people will stand before the judgment seat of Christ.) If the God of the Universe sees fit to save them, they will ultimately be saved. If they committed wicked deeds, including denying Him, it states they will not be saved, and will be separated from God eternally. No one enters into heaven apart from Him. He is the only Savior.

          Some people will die having never heard the gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. They will be judged accordingly, as those who have not heard. The criteria for them is still as Jesus spoke (recognition and giving thanks to a Creator, and deeds, as I said). To hear and reject Him, and die in that state, shows that someone does not belong to Him, and will not be with Him upon death. The same thing would have resulted for them, if they had not heard the gospel. Hearing the gospel is light, and exposes what is there. It doesn't 'create' condemnation. They are already dead in their sin and do not want to know Him.

          Every individual will be judged by what he or she had to work with. God sees and knows what is in the heart. He judges all people justly. His name is glorifed forever.

          August 10, 2014 at 2:39 pm |
        • James XCIX

          "If they have never heard, but still honor a Creator/Supreme Being..."

          Just to be sure I'm clear what you're saying... If someone believes in Brahma (Hindu creator god), lives their life based on a principle of doing no harm to others, but was never told about Jesus, they might be judged worthy of being saved? But another person who does no harm to others but does not believe in any creator will be judged not worthy of being saved?

          August 11, 2014 at 8:57 am |
        • Lynn

          It wouldn't let me post yesterday...I'll try again.

          August 12, 2014 at 11:05 am |
        • Lynn

          Well this bites. I even created a new blog just now, just to post my comment from yesterday which I saved in a text, but it refuses still. Maybe it didn't like the word "d e m o n i c" or something. I was explaining that the belief and worship of many gods is not belief in a Creator, and the one who believes in no god is his own god, so clearly will not do well. The bottom line still, is that God judges the heart justly, and will consider what a person had to work with. It was a fine comment. Second attempts say it is a duplicate. Ridiculous. About 20 hours later, and that hasn't cleared and may not ever. Sorry it will not let me post.

          August 12, 2014 at 11:38 am |
        • James XCIX

          "...the belief and worship of many gods is not belief in a Creator..."

          Well, why not, it one of those gods is the creator god? Can you give me an example of a situation where someone has a different religion than yours but still has an acceptable creator god?

          August 12, 2014 at 3:05 pm |
        • G to the T

          "I was explaining that the belief and worship of many gods is not belief in a Creator, and the one who believes in no god is his own god, so clearly will not do well. "

          No... I am not "my own god". I don't even know what that would entail. I just don't believe any gods have been sufficiently proven for me to believe in them.

          August 12, 2014 at 11:41 am |
        • LaBella

          Lynn,
          You've probably run into the infamous word filter, which will not let you post certain words that may contain a naughty word contained withing the larger word.
          Examples:

          ar-se.....as in ar-senic, coa.rse, etc.
          Ch-ardonnay
          co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, etc.
          co-on.....as in racc-oon, coc-oon, etc.
          crac-ker…
          cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
          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, sopho-more, etc.
          ho-oters…as in sho-oters
          ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
          inf-orms us…
          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..!
          ni-gra…as in deni-grate
          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-oon… as in sp-oon, lamp-oon, harp-oon
          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
          sm-ut…..as in transm-utation
          sn-atch
          sp-ank
          sp-ic.....as in desp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
          sp-ook… as in sp-ooky, sp-ooked
          strip-per
          ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, t-itle, ent-ity, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
          tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, salt-water, 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!!!!!!!
          x-xx…
          There's another phrase that someone found, "wo-nderful us" (have no idea what sets that one off).

          August 12, 2014 at 11:46 am |
        • Lynn

          G to the T what has happened is that the void that God has created inherently in all people, that can only be filled with God adequately, has been covered over, leaving only yourself left in its place.

          "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." 2 Cor.4:3,4

          I believe God requires all people to seek to know Him. He promised in His Word to make Himself known if you seek Him diligently. Ignoring it serves no good purpose for you. This life is only a vapor, the next life is forever.

          LaBella, thanks for the info. I think their system could do a little better to respect the posters, and at least inform you of what has happened there. I don't see anything that could have caused that.

          August 12, 2014 at 7:37 pm |
        • Lynn

          James, I didn't see your comment there yesterday. Let me clarify what my beliefs are.

          The comment that I made about "honoring and giving thanks to a Creator", I am speaking more about the person who has no religion, but instinctively knows in their heart that someone made everything, and that Deity is to be worshiped and feared, hence, also doing no harm to your neighbor. If someone is steeped in a religion that may have been influenced demonically–as there is only one God–if there is a "creator god" in the lot, that is not a response to the living God that we have been created to instinctively understand the existence of. God created us to need Him, not a plethora of false gods that don't exist. Belief in Him is something He is looking at to determine what is in the heart of a person. It is not something that is not available to every soul that He made.

          If someone truly has no other influence than a false religion, it would seem to me, with God being a just God, that He will judge people based on what they did with what they had to work with, including by His own tests that He will devise to know who is who, and where they will spend eternity.

          August 13, 2014 at 11:34 am |
        • James XCIX

          So it sounds like you believe that if someone has a belief in any religion besides Christianity when they die they are doomed whether or not they knew about Jesus–correct?

          August 13, 2014 at 11:41 am |
        • Lynn

          James, I honestly don't know where you see that in my comments. You posted it literally 7 minutes after my post. Maybe you were writing at the same time. Please read the last paragraph of my last post again, and tell me what you think I am saying.

          August 13, 2014 at 12:11 pm |
        • James XCIX

          "If someone truly has no other influence than a false religion,..."

          I assumed you considered all religions besides yours to be false religions... did I assume incorrectly?

          August 13, 2014 at 2:31 pm |
        • James XCIX

          Oh, I think I see what you meant now, although I'm not sure what other influences you might be talking about.

          August 13, 2014 at 2:33 pm |
        • Lynn

          "I assumed you considered all religions besides yours to be false religions... did I assume incorrectly?"

          You didn't assume incorrectly. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and the only way by which anyone will enter heaven. Any religion that denies this is a false religion. But your interpretation of what I have said here, said something much different:

          You said that I am saying that... "if someone has a belief in any religion besides Christianity when they die they are doomed whether or not they knew about Jesus..."

          That isn't what I've said. I am speaking about a God who judges people based on what is written on the heart, and what information they had to work with, not a God who only saves Christians. Have they rejected the light of the gospel? Have they committed wicked deeds? If so, they have placed themselves in peril before the living God. The wicked will not enter into heaven. They will die unforgiven for their sins, and go before God to be judged, not as someone having already known His grace. i.e. the believer in Christ, who is resurrected unto eternal life, rather than judgment. Jesus taught that judgement day is also based on what a person has done in their life. A person was either born-again, or perhaps close to the kingdom, or He did not know them. That will be judged by God.

          So, yes, I believe a person could have a belief in a "false religion", but God may deem them worthy to be saved, as you had questioned earlier.

          Ultimately, no soul will enter into heaven apart from Jesus Christ, who is Lord and will reign forever.

          August 13, 2014 at 7:02 pm |
        • James XCIX

          OK Lynn, I think I understand your position now–thank you for your input.

          August 14, 2014 at 10:17 am |
  5. delightfulsimplicity

    The current divide is NOT about missionaries. It is about the mentally ill-prepared missionaries who later request a rescue at risk of breaching containment. While trying to be a blessing for Africa, they became a perceived threat to America.

    August 10, 2014 at 9:07 am |
    • Ragamuffin

      ..."perceived" being the operative word.

      August 10, 2014 at 9:28 am |
  6. jaydavid666

    Fighting for a losing cause (helping Africans, or US soldiers dying in Afghanistan or Iraq) is foolish, not heroic.

    But it is easy to understand how people living in Posthistory, where Capitalism is the one true religion and Money the one true god, and where the concept of Progress has been replaced by a fervor for innovaction that leave nowhere, feel the need to do something else with their lives.

    August 10, 2014 at 9:06 am |
    • jaydavid666

      "...that LEADS nowhere...

      August 10, 2014 at 9:07 am |
    • callnews

      "Posthistory" a concept propagated by Karl Marx in which he asserts that Communism will replace all of man's socio-economic forms and solutions. Unfortunate for his concept that Communism would be the concept proven failed.

      August 10, 2014 at 9:33 am |
      • cleminga

        Given that many countries practicing Capitalism owe China Trillions of Dollars, one would be mistaken to refer to Communism, as an economic system, a failure.

        August 10, 2014 at 11:25 am |
    • igaftr

      Why are you using capitalization seeminly at random?

      August 10, 2014 at 9:35 am |
      • austin929

        ahahaha. He didn't he must be ComMunist

        August 10, 2014 at 12:41 pm |
    • austin929

      ya, well, they get to retire with a pension at 40 years of age too.

      have you seen the youtube stuff on this guy. Ex CIA chief?

      Ted Gunderson Former FBI Chief – Most Terror Attacks Are Committed By Our CIA And FBI

      August 10, 2014 at 12:44 pm |
  7. andyjupiter

    It's a shame we have to so often rely on the religious to volunteer for jobs like these.... Personally I have much greater respect for secular individuals who put themselves in harms way simply because it's the right thing to do.

    August 10, 2014 at 8:32 am |
    • Ragamuffin

      These missionaries do it for the same reason...they believe it's the right thing to do. Because they believe Christ loved us and came togave his life away for us, that in response to that love we should give our lives away in service to others.

      August 10, 2014 at 8:44 am |
    • ikeabroadcastmonkey

      I find it surprising that the same people who praise the military and send Americans into harms way for American interests and celebrate emergency workers who rush into natural disasters and burning buildings find it so difficult to understand humanitarian aid and the relief of human suffering. Isn't it in the interests of the west to protect the global population from a pandemic of Ebola? There is no known cure. Why is the right thing to do so confusing when there isn't a gun involved?

      August 10, 2014 at 9:00 am |
    • jaydavid666

      Here, here!
      Where is your respect for good, old days when Christians put their lives where their mouths are and died as martyrs?
      These two are a throwback to a better kind of Christian.
      Most "Christians" today where their religion like it is a hat that can take off most of the time. Jesus said rich people would have to ride a camel through the eye of a needle to get to Heaven.
      Today's "Christians" believe he will ride into Heaven in his private jet fighter after blasting the needle to bits and he will take his bank account with him.

      August 10, 2014 at 9:10 am |
    • wmroga

      Apparently a lot of the issues in Liberia have been caused by doctors and nurses abandoning their posts because they're afraid of exposure to Ebola. Thank God (literally or just as an expression, if you don't believe that kind of thing) that there are people motivated to stay and fight. If faith is what gives them strength to stay, then that's good.

      August 10, 2014 at 10:31 am |
  8. fr33d0mhawk

    Anne Coulter once suggested that the USA send our military into Muslim nations and force them to convert to Christianity at gunpoint, sort of like what ISIS does, but when Christians actually follow the teachings of Christ, Coulter insults the REAL Christians. Notice that its Conservatives who are ripping on these brave missionaries. As to whether missionary work helps or not, in some cases it does, sometimes not so well, but at least the morality is in the right place, and its far better to try to help by being a missionary than going to war with a country, torturing and murdering innocent people in order to "help" those people to the tune of trillions of dollars of tax payers money. Most of these missionaries are doing most of their work through donations, very little from taxation and certainly they aren't murdering hundreds of thousands and torturing thousands of innocent people, so cut them some slack. Coulter is some piece of work, uses Christ's name for her own vanity, to make money and spread violence and oppression.

    August 10, 2014 at 8:15 am |
  9. bfberg

    For those who did not realize it, missionaries are the most evil thing imaginable. Trading food, medicine and trinkets in an effort to replace the beliefs of indigenous people with their own. This is an egocentric and ignorant practice. All deities and the stories surrounding them are MYTH, and that includes Jesus, Moses, Mohammed and all the rest. The bible is a book a fairy tales written by the hands of men to satisfy their own needs. Other than making great stew, (missionaries, plus carrots, corn, and onions makes a nice meal) missionaries are an abomination.

    August 10, 2014 at 8:14 am |
    • Ragamuffin

      Scratch an atheist, reveal a fundie.

      August 10, 2014 at 8:29 am |
      • igaftr

        Since there is only one aspect of atheism, the NOT believing in gods thing, there are no fundimentals of atheism, so no fundies.
        Perhaps you can find a more appropriate word for what you meant.

        August 10, 2014 at 8:35 am |
      • Dalahäst

        Yep! For most atheists, no. But for the very vocal minority, like the few that visit this blog, you totally find the same fundie mindset.

        August 10, 2014 at 10:24 am |
    • callnews

      That's a nice little self-contained generalization of billions of people. Nietzsche would be proud of you

      August 10, 2014 at 8:56 am |
    • wmroga

      If all religion is a myth, why do you care if an indigenous group trades one myth for another?

      August 10, 2014 at 10:33 am |
    • workingcopy12

      bfberg...tell us what is more evil. A man who feeds another man with the intent of telling him about salvation. Or a man who does not feed another man (i.e., lets him starve to death), because he doesn't want to intrude on the second man's culture? What have you done today to feed the second man. Where have you gone? How did you get your hands dirty? Get off your couch.

      August 10, 2014 at 10:36 am |
    • Dalahäst

      –One of the world's largest faith-based organizations doesn't even like the "missionary" label, according to a spokesman, because of the word's association with proselytizing.

      Though Catholic Relief Services says it is motivated by the Gospel to embody Catholic social and moral teaching, it does not preach to the people it helps.

      In fact, you don't even have to be Catholic to work for Catholic Relief Services. Among its 4,500 workers are many Muslims, Hindus and members of other religions, said Bill O’Keefe, the organization’s vice president of advocacy.

      “We assist people of all backgrounds and religions and we do not attempt to engage in discussions of faith," O’Keefe said. “We’re proud of that. We like to say that we assist everybody because we’re Catholic, we don’t assist people to become Catholic.”–

      – from the article

      August 10, 2014 at 10:41 am |
  10. Reality

    And once again from my scrapbook of essential information:

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    "The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "

    August 10, 2014 at 8:10 am |
    • rrbb333

      There is no proof for God, only witnesses. See above.

      August 10, 2014 at 8:21 am |
      • igaftr

        and not a single one of those "witnesses" can exclusively say that anything they "witnessed" was in fact any god, their god, their imagination, co-incidenceetc., so no, no actual witnesses either.

        August 10, 2014 at 8:38 am |
    • fr33d0mhawk

      Actually Buddhism is a non-theistic religion, so it shouldn't be lumped in with the Abrahamic religions. Its more of a philosophy.

      August 10, 2014 at 8:32 am |
      • Reality

        Buddhism- "Buddhism began in India about 500 years before the birth of Christ. The people living at that time had become disillusioned with certain beliefs of Hinduism including the caste system, which had grown extremely complex. The number of outcasts (those who did not belong to any particular caste) was continuing to grow."

        "However, in Buddhism, like so many other religions, fanciful stories arose concerning events in the life of the founder, Siddhartha Gautama (fifth century B.C.):"

        Archaeological discoveries have proved, beyond a doubt, his historical character, but apart from the legends we know very little about the circu-mstances of his life. e.g. Buddha by one legend was supposedly talking when he came out of his mother's womb.

        Then there is this:

        " It is true that many exponents of Buddhism, most notably the Dalai Lama, have been remarkably willing to enrich (and even constrain) their view of the world through dialogue with modern science. But the fact that the Dalai Lama regularly meets with Western scientists to discuss the nature of the mind does not mean that Buddhism, or Tibetan Buddhism, or even the Dalai Lama’s own lineage, is uncontaminated by religious dogmatism.

        Indeed, there are ideas within Buddhism that are so incredible as to render the dogma of the vir-gin birth plausible by comparison. No one is served by a mode of discourse that treats such pre-literate notions as integral to our evolving dis-course about the nature of the human mind. Among Western Buddhists, there are college-educated men and women who apparently believe that Guru Rinpoche was actually born from a lotus. This is not the spiritual breakthrough that civilization has been waiting for these many centuries."

        http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/response-to-controversy2

        August 10, 2014 at 10:16 am |
  11. Ragamuffin

    These people are heroes, period, end of story. They went over to use their skills to help people in an area where people with their training and skills are in short supply. It's not glamorous, you don't make much money, you work in relative obscurity 99% of the time, you leave family and friends to go serve other people.

    Only heartless dolts like Trump and Coulter or rabid fundie atheists could manage to find fault with it.

    August 10, 2014 at 8:00 am |
    • chgoodson

      Funny. All the "rabid fun die atheists" I know are infuriated that conservatives were trying to keep these brave people out through ignorance.

      August 10, 2014 at 9:05 am |
  12. wjm980

    "Rarely has the debate...." Spare me. There is no issue in this country that doesn't seemingly have a huge debate over it. There is little to nothing united about the United States anymore, and little to suggest that will change.

    August 10, 2014 at 7:50 am |
  13. live4grace

    Pretty sure there was no Ebola outbreak when they went. People who help the poor are heroes. Trump and Coulter ... are not.

    August 10, 2014 at 7:41 am |
    • btdt2x

      For heavens sake. Drop the religious issues on this subject already. Yes they are heroes. But I question the need to bring these heroes home until they are cleared of a disease contracted (whenever) in countries where there are natural boundaries that would limit the spread to other countries creating yet another global crisis. Drop the whole religious vs atheism slant already people. Ebola isn't going to check to see what religious symbol you are wearing before it takes over a new host. Taking this disease into first world nations that access high speed transportation links rather than the foot path speed (in its simplest form) of the third world nations is the scariest thing I've heard to date.

      August 10, 2014 at 9:42 am |
      • ellabulldog

        and the family flew back as soon as he had ebola, yet how do we know they did not catch it from him? Are there safeguards to check these people before flying back? Blood tests? What if the symptoms are not showing yet?

        August 10, 2014 at 10:27 am |
  14. 19covenant19

    Jesus Christ has already returned

    with BIBLICAL EXCELLENT MIRACLES

    for all the Nations on earth now.

    http://www.19covenant19.com

    August 10, 2014 at 6:45 am |
    • whippstippler7

      Wow!!! Not just miracles, but BIBLICAL EXCELLENT miracles!!!!!!!!
      But do they compare to the TOLKIEN EXCELLENT miracles in Lord of the Rings? Galdalf the Grey returning from death as Gandalf the White, for one.

      August 10, 2014 at 7:31 am |
  15. thesamyaza

    that's right! Join the Mission to day, help us subvert your culture and destroy your heritage, join us in land of poverty were we withhold food to the most needy children until they are indoctrinated in our traditions and values.

    lets put an end to diversity and history together!!!

    August 10, 2014 at 2:17 am |
    • austin929

      oh please. they aren't going around with an offering plate.

      most of the missions trips I have heard of are pretty expensive...called short term missions.

      and you work hard.

      August 10, 2014 at 2:22 am |
      • thesamyaza

        over 50 % of the poor village in India coverts to Christianity so they can eat at a mission, then they kick out the rest to starve in the desert for worshiping other gods.

        non of this is good
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_w95jZdTOQ8

        August 11, 2014 at 7:05 pm |
    • Ragamuffin

      Utterly clueless, Rip Van Winkle. Did you go to sleep in the 1890s and just wake up?

      August 10, 2014 at 7:57 am |
      • James XCIX

        Replacing their religion is replacing a large part of their culture, wouldn't you agree?

        August 10, 2014 at 9:03 am |
      • thesamyaza

        the missionary come in they indoctrinate children to subvert their culture, then the children abandon their parents, because their church teaches their parents worship evil.

        August 11, 2014 at 7:07 pm |
    • wmroga

      Should cultures be preserved for all eternity? Cultures are ever-evolving things. They're constantly dying and re-forming. This happens with or without religious influence. Take the Columbian Exchange for example. Would you believe that the tomato was only introduced to Italy several hundred years ago? The same with Ireland and the potato. And yet these foods are seen as essential parts of their culinary culture now. Change doesn't make culture better or worse, it's just a constant.

      August 10, 2014 at 10:39 am |
      • thesamyaza

        adding to ones culture is different then destroying it entirely, and replacing it with your own.

        August 11, 2014 at 6:52 pm |
  16. kevinite

    It may be that there are different reasons to serve a mission but seems like that the best reason for missionaries to put either their lives on the line or sacrifice in other ways in order to serve is simply out of pure love.

    That love may come about right at the beginning or it came come about down the road in service, but if that pure love is there eventually and then strengthened, that love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance that are described in Galatians as being the fruits of the Spirit, the fruits for both the missionary and to those they serve, that seems to be the best reason to serve as a missionary.
    become a missionary.

    August 10, 2014 at 12:55 am |
  17. realbuckyball

    So much for "god's plan".
    Without SCIENCE, and with ONLY PRAYER, they would both be DEADER than a doornail.

    August 9, 2014 at 11:45 pm |
    • kevinite

      For me it is sure good to have both.

      August 10, 2014 at 12:13 am |
    • Dalahäst

      There was nothing that suggests these people are anti-science, or that they claim ONLY PRAYER will help. Faith without action is dead.

      August 10, 2014 at 12:14 am |
    • rogerthat2014

      I think the point Bucky is making is that it was God's plan that got him into this predicament, but it will take science to get him out.

      August 10, 2014 at 1:29 am |
      • austin929

        does temporarily prolonging life make one permanently independent of God's presence?

        August 10, 2014 at 1:35 am |
        • rogerthat2014

          If you have a rattle snake for a pet, then there is a chance you might get bit sometime. Medical science can save you. You don't have to get rid of your snake, but you may want to be a little more careful next time.

          August 10, 2014 at 1:46 am |
        • austin929

          ahaha. I remember that guy. He's a gonner.

          August 10, 2014 at 2:24 am |
      • Dalahäst

        Science doesn't save anyone. People using science does. And most believers fully embrace science, especially the medical sciences. Why do so many hospitals have names like Providence Medical, Menorah Hospital, and St Lukes? Why do so many doctors testify about God being real?

        August 10, 2014 at 9:54 am |
        • lewcypher

          None of that is evidence for your god

          August 10, 2014 at 10:12 am |
        • Dalahäst

          I didn't say it was evidence for God, Einstein.

          August 10, 2014 at 10:16 am |
        • igaftr

          Why do hospitals have religios affiliated names? Thos ewho donate are believers, and feel the need to glorify god or some such nonsense. Simply baseless belief.
          Why do doctors "witness"? They also are believers, but that does not lend any credibilty to the validity of the belief.

          August 10, 2014 at 10:15 am |
        • Dalahäst

          Or believers actually do things, like build hospitals and provide medical aid for those in need. They do more than just patrol religious message boards looking for people to put down.

          What credibility or validity for the beliefs you share on this blog do you provide? I'm sure you know doctors you trust and respect who happen to believe in God.

          August 10, 2014 at 10:20 am |
        • igaftr

          dala
          Your thinly veiled attacks on me this morning not withstanding, there are plenty of people who aren't superst!tious that do good things too.
          In searching for truth, I find many like you that put forth belief as if it were truth, and have never once had anyone offer any actual proof of any supernatural anything, plus from a psychology standpoint, the self-delusion that must be employed where there is no evidence whatsoever is fascinating.

          August 10, 2014 at 11:03 am |
        • igaftr

          "What credibility or validity for the beliefs you share"

          What beliefs have I shared?

          August 10, 2014 at 11:05 am |
        • Dalahäst

          I know there are many non-believers who do good things. I work with them. I volunteer with them. I have no major problem with atheists, agnostics and non-religious people as a whole. And most have no major problem with me.

          I'm saying I believe you don't do anything but complain and point out the flaws in other people. I wish you would start doing something to help. You aren't qualified to make psychological evaluations on other people. You put forth your beliefs as if they were truth, too. And you offer nothing but opinions for proof.

          August 10, 2014 at 11:08 am |
        • igaftr

          Considering the fact that you are a known liar, have been caught misrepresenting other peoples argument ( including mine AND even your own), your incorrect opinion is noted.

          I simply identify false arguments, false information, incorrect logic. You are guilty of all of those things dala and I have found interaction with you as pointless as talking to a wall.
          By the way, you still do now know if there are any gods. (Unless you decide to simply ignore the infinite other possibilities, which you have proven you have done)

          August 10, 2014 at 11:38 am |
        • austin929

          Satan does not have a sovereign mind. He does not know the future like God does, and Christ, and Spirit.

          Therefore, the prophetic nature of the old testament, as seen time and time and time and time again, as well as Christs fulfillment of the majority of these prophecies, are proof of the sovereign God of Israel.

          Moses was proof in His day of this God. We have been given the truth from God.

          August 10, 2014 at 12:03 pm |
        • austin929

          how bout the fact that Herod was killing the babies?

          August 10, 2014 at 12:04 pm |
        • igaftr

          austin
          Just because you accept that man made book as if was "gods word", but not having any evidence that any gods were involved, does not mean it has any authority at all, and is ABSOLUTELY NOT evidence of any gods.

          Do you understand what evidence is? It is not simply saying it is true, which is all you have done.

          August 10, 2014 at 12:10 pm |
        • austin929

          igaftr...........I do you have evidence? and you are saying no. But I truthfully have evidence of a sovereign God. I am just trying to help you. The reason we are having this conversation is you bud.

          The Lord has a gift for you , and it starts with hearing about it . We know where we are in history. Its time to hear.

          August 10, 2014 at 12:30 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          The book is not evidence...the book is the claim.

          August 10, 2014 at 12:32 pm |
        • igaftr

          austin
          Just because your book says so is not evidence, because there is no evidence that your book is right.

          You have no evidence of any gods. All you have is evidence of people believing in gods, but no evidence of any of the thousands of gods people have claimed are real.

          I don't need "saving" from a threat that does not exist as far as any can show.

          August 10, 2014 at 12:35 pm |
        • igaftr

          austin
          "we know where we are in history"

          No we don't...we are not IN history...history is the past, where we were, where we USED to be.
          Your statement is impossible.

          August 10, 2014 at 12:39 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Ig

          + Considering the fact that you are a known liar, have been caught misrepresenting other peoples argument ( including mine AND even your own), your incorrect opinion is noted.

          What have I lied about?

          Do you never lie?

          Who's arguments have I misrepresented?

          I've had people lie about me. I've had my argument misrepresented, too. It sucks. I don't want to do that to others. Who have I done it to? Why don't you stick up for me when others do that to me? Or does it not bother you when atheists do it? Do you have a double standard for people who share your same viewpoints and excuse their lies?

          + I simply identify false arguments, false information, incorrect logic. You are guilty of all of those things dala and I have found interaction with you as pointless as talking to a wall.

          That is not what you simply do. You often insult people who don't agree with your viewpoints. You provide no credentials as a person who is qualified to determine truth, logic or sound reasoning. To most people you are an anonymous guy who is hostile to any kind of beleif in God. And you seem very irrational about it.

          Look at you – you patrol religious message boards. Anyone can do what you do. It takes no special talent, training or expertise.

          + By the way, you still do now know if there are any gods. (Unless you decide to simply ignore the infinite other possibilities, which you have proven you have done)

          There you go again. I've never denied the infinite possibilities. I've admitted they exist and I do consider them. Of course I consider them.

          August 10, 2014 at 1:25 pm |
        • igaftr

          dala
          I am not going to go through our history once again with you, but if you forget the exchanges from sometime just less than a month ago, perhaps you should see someone about you memory.

          You got called out not just by me, and now you are trying to claim ignorance.
          You read what I said, then claimed I said something different, then you did the same thing with your own statement.
          Many people have caught you lying dala... it surprises me that you are trying to act innocent.

          August 10, 2014 at 1:51 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I got called out by some atheists.

          But some atheists also came to my defense.

          Which ones should I trust? The ones calling me names and acting hostile? Or the ones that are kind and helpful?

          August 10, 2014 at 2:09 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Sorry, dude. I have some very unreasonable people that claim I lied. 1 guy said I misrepresented Bostontola, but that was wrong. I clearly said "I think what Boston is saying...". And that guy blew that comment out of proportion, and actually went on to misrepresent me. Meanwhile Bostontola himself said nothing about it.

          I'm asking you to help me out. Show me these facts that prove I'm a liar and misrepresent people.

          There are some very reasonable, respectful and sound atheists that post on this blog. And I have had some come to my defense – and in fact say I don't lie on here. So prove those guys wrong to me. Show me how I lied. Or how I misrepresented you.

          August 10, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
        • igaftr

          dala
          It was MY argument you falsely represented.

          I said there was no evidence of something, you turned it to mean that I said the thing does not exist.
          You did that twice to me...then you said something, and then said you said something different.

          That is lying and misrepresentation.
          I do not have the specifics, but since it was not long ago, you should remember the exchange if not the specifics.

          So you have lied to me, and misrepresented MY argument and did it to yourself minutes later.
          If you want, by all means, go and find the exchange. You are not worth my doing it, it is there for YOU to examine, I know what transpired, the record is right there in front of you.

          Between the misrepresentation (lying) of others and your own arguments, and the delusional statement that you "know" god exists, but then don't know...you are pointless.

          August 10, 2014 at 2:17 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Oh, you do that same thing to me.

          I'm not surprised you have no specifics to back up your statements. The few others on this blog that call me a liar fail to do that, too.

          I just disagree with you, and I just think you don't like that. It is a possible you are projecting yourself onto me. It could be something within yourself you hate – not me you hate. That is a possibility you should keep your mind open to.

          The only people on this blog who call me a liar are also very hostile to me. And I also see them doing that to others. It is hard to take their critiques seriously when they aren't very kind or even decent to others.

          August 10, 2014 at 2:28 pm |
        • igaftr

          dala
          Just because you have a bad memory does not change the fact that these exchanges happened, and the evidence is right before you, in the history on these pages.

          I have not misrepresented your arguments, simply point out when you are wrong, such as claiming to "know" god.

          It is not something in me I hate, it is people trying to pass off belief as knowledge that I oppose..
          It is the misinformation of religion that is detrimental to the entirety of the human race.

          I simply am seeking truth, but find all religions are nothing but sand, smoke and mirrors, with little or no substance that humanity itself did not already possess, before religions were created.
          I also see all religions as ultimately harmful to humanity because of the baseless roadblocks that arise from nonsensical superst!tions. and roadblocks to finding what really is out there, not just what people imagine and then claim to be real.

          August 10, 2014 at 2:37 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          It is possible it is something in you that I hate. Remember, you have to consider all possibilities. Don't close your mind. It is not fair to judge me for not considering all possibilities, yet not allow them to exist for you, too.

          I remember having exchanges with a few people on here who hate me. They called me a liar. But never showed what I lied about. It kind of boiled down to some thought I was wrong. But that doesn't make me a liar.

          And again, I also remember some of the more reasonable atheists coming to my defense. I appreciated that.

          August 10, 2014 at 2:43 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          **It is possible it is something in me that you hate!

          August 10, 2014 at 2:50 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          And as you would say:

          It is possible all religions aren't what you say they are. It could be just what you imagine in your head and just claiming it to be so.

          You have to consider the possibility that when you lump all religions into one category and stereotype them all as exactly the same – you could be wrong. It is possible you are wrong. And when you dictate to me what I believe, it is possible you aren't doing anything to benefit humanity yourself. It is possible what you do is actually harming humanity.

          August 10, 2014 at 2:58 pm |
        • realbuckyball

          The specialty of physicians is science, not religion. Your argument is the "Ad Vericundiam" fallacy. Gods save no one, ever. A "loving deity" would have revealed penicillin thousands of years ago. The most generous people on the planet now are atheists. Proven. AND, they do so with no hope of a reward. If "god's plan" plan included them getting Ebola, then medicine is basically thwarting that plan. If they die "it's god's will". If they live "It's god's will". Hahaha. Nothing like keeping cognitive dissonance at bay by whatever means necessary.

          August 10, 2014 at 7:57 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Wrong. That is not the point I was trying to make. I'm not sure how you determined that atheists are the most generous people on the planet. Or that the all are being so generous with no hope of a reward. Some atheists have no interest in helping others. Some are completely selfish and self-centered. And will only do something if they get a reward.

          There are some very generous atheists. But I have trouble believing you are one of them.

          I know people who are very generous. Who sacrifice for others. Who are good examples for others to follow. Some happen to be atheist. Some happen to be believers in God.

          August 10, 2014 at 10:34 pm |
  18. Vic

    "Why missionaries put their lives on the line"

    While I don't doubt missionary workers' intentions, and I do believe in true callings and missionary work in general, I believe many people do it because of a sense of guilt and not necessarily out of a divine calling, and that, in many cases, leads to mixing works of the flesh with Grace for Salvation.† Whatever the case may be, I always elect to keep things in perspective and employ precautionary measures as per needed, hence necessary avoidance. That's where statements like Donald Trump's and Ann Coulter's come into play, although I wouldn't elect for such tones.

    I also believe that the "Great Commission" was a command by the Lord Jesus Christ to ONLY His eleven disciples (Matthew 28:16-20 & Acts 1:1-8) whom they were empowered by the Holy Spirit with "special gifts" (Mark 16:17-20, Mark 16:14,15 & Acts 2:1-4 & 3:1-7) right before He ascended to Heaven, and that it was fulfilled during their lifetime (Colossians 1:23 & Romans 16:26.)

    As far as preaching and proselytizing are concerned, I believe in missionary/charity work that is FREE of any and with a strict policy of "NO QUESTIONS ASKED." Of course, I would witness to the Lord Jesus Christ upon inquiry and without imposition.

    As I started reading the article, I was afraid of the inevitable ["Some Liberians, for instance, believe that a soft drink can cure the disease, or that Ebola is a nefarious plot concocted by nongovernmental organizations and the government."] Consequently, I couldn't help but wonder if there is a chance of foul play in the cases of Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol.

    May God heal them both and all the infected. Amen.

    † I just hope it is not out of an attempt at earning Salvation:

    Romans 11:5,6
    "5 In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace." (NASB)

    Ephesians 2:8,9
    "8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." (NASB)

    August 9, 2014 at 10:00 pm |
    • Reality

      Thu-mp, thu-mp, thu-mp went Vic. Your Jesus was a simple Jewish rabbi, this and nothing more. Details previously noted.

      August 9, 2014 at 11:45 pm |
    • austin929

      and you have been called. God bless your service.

      August 10, 2014 at 1:40 am |
    • Vic

      Edited:

      "I also believe that the "Great Commission" was a command by the Lord Jesus Christ to ONLY His eleven disciples (Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:14,15 & Acts 1:1-8) whom they were empowered by the Holy Spirit with "special gifts" (Mark 16:17-20 & Acts 2:1-4 & 3:1-7) right before He ascended to Heaven, and that it was fulfilled during their lifetime (Mark 16:20, Romans 16:26 & Colossians 1:23.)"

      August 18, 2014 at 7:03 am |
  19. Dalahäst

    Blessed to be a blessing to others.

    August 9, 2014 at 8:02 pm |
    • new-man

      Amen.
      As Curry puts it, God's gift to us is His ability; ours to Him is our availability. For the eyes of the Lord roam to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong in behalf of those whose hearts are blameless toward Him.

      God is looking for people through whom He may show Himself, so thanks to these guys for showing up and making themselves available.

      August 9, 2014 at 9:28 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        I've heard testimonies of 2 different local churches doing work in Africa. These 2 churches are a few blocks from each other in my city and didn't know they were both providing help to areas in Kenya – one on the west and one on the east side. Tomorrow the church I belong to will be sharing about their most recent trip. The doctor that went just recently told me they need a lot of help. But they have a strong spirit and love for God. They can help us, too.

        August 9, 2014 at 11:38 pm |
        • new-man

          that's it – there's no shortage of people to help. Also, while we admire those who travel afar to help others, those who help within their own backyards are equally deserving of admiration. The truth is anyone can provide help in whatever sphere they're in.
          Some time ago I used to think I needed to have a lot of resources in order to help; I now know differently – you don't need to help everybody, just someone, and it's amazing how it balloons/multiplies from there. As Andrew says, if you can do it on your own, then it's not God.

          August 10, 2014 at 1:51 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Part of the reason I came to believe in God is I heard about what some people in my community were doing in Africa (and also my community). They testify they couldn't of done it without God's help.

          It makes me want to try something so difficult that without God I will fail.

          August 10, 2014 at 2:07 pm |
        • new-man

          "It makes me want to try something so difficult that without God I will fail. "

          My brother, from your lips to God's ears. When I was reading Dr. Brantley's testimony regarding the peace that surrounded him when his diagnosis was confirmed, I knew he had the Holy Spirit, and I also knew before this they would be okay. I know the carnal mind reading this will say it was the medicine that saved them, neglecting how God works. The manner in which the serum was acquired was miraculous in itself; the fact that it worked and so quickly was the 2nd miracle.
          I would also add – not for your benefit- that medicine doesn't heal or cure anyone.... all it does is provides an environment within the body to enable the body to heal itself.

          With regards to wanting to do something that you know without a doubt is of God, I'll say this to you... first the blade, then the ear, then the corn in the ear. The kingdom of heaven is not about overnight successes, however once you plant that seed (have the desire, begin to nurture it, pray about it) and give it time to grow, you will have to get reapers to help you bring in the harvest.
          God always gives us the desires of our hearts, when we truly seek Him and seek to do His will, so I know you will have the desire of your heart.
          Blessings.

          August 10, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
        • igaftr

          "They testify they couldn't of done it without God's help."

          THAT is what you are accepting as evidence of god? No wonder you are confused.

          How do you know that they DIDN"T do it without god...just because they BELIEVED god helped, does not mena that "He" did. You do understand that , right?
          It is quite probable they did it on their own, and simply atribute it to "god", right?
          so not actually evidence of anything at all, right?

          August 10, 2014 at 2:29 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          new-man

          Amen. I can't describe it, but yes, that peace and serenity God grants is worth more than a million dollars. I had to be humbled to see this. Today I can practice things that encourage that humility in my life. God's will, not my will.

          August 10, 2014 at 2:34 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          igaftr

          I can listen to your testimony – which is often hostile and rude.

          Or their testimony – which is grateful and loving.

          The possibilities are endless. I consider all I can imagine. But I've heard the amazing and beautiful stories these people share. I've questioned and doubted them myself. I've looked them in the eyes and see something more than what you offer as a possibility.

          And then I try it myself. I join them. And I start to see with my own eyes amazing things happening. The possibilities are endless.

          August 10, 2014 at 2:39 pm |
        • new-man

          great response to igaftr.
          I just came across this from Barry Bennett, and felt it fit in precisely to this dialogue and I know you've often spoken of having an open-mind (being teachable). He started out with Ps. 1:1-3 Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly. (So thank God we can listen to but won't be taking any advice from igaftr- meant as a joke).

          An apple tree is an apple tree by nature. From the moment that it begins its journey from a seed until it bears fruit its nature doesn’t change. What changes are the visible, tangible realities of the tree as it grows and matures. Not many would know that the little sapling is an apple tree, but years later everyone would know. Though it was always an apple tree, it didn’t bear fruit for many years.

          In life you only start at the top when you are digging a hole. No one begins as a mature believer with fully developed gifts and great influence. Everyone begins as a ‘seed.’ How can we grow into maturity and bear fruit in this life?

          1. Do what God has placed before you with perseverance and faithfulness. Put your hand to the plow in the field where you find yourself.

          2. Exercise your faith in the little things. Faith is like a muscle. It needs exercise. Learn to walk by faith in every area of your life.

          3. Learn from others. Be teachable.

          4. Serve others. Be a blessing. Sow your life into those around you.

          5. Be prepared to step into new opportunities that stretch you. Expect challenges and opportunities along the way. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone.

          6. You establish the depth. Let God establish the breadth. The deeper you go in your relationship with God, the more He can widen your sphere of influence. Let Him promote you. You won’t need to promote yourself.

          August 10, 2014 at 4:20 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Thanks, Newman.

          August 10, 2014 at 5:07 pm |
  20. Reality

    Such a shame, big heart but bad theology!!!

    August 9, 2014 at 7:47 pm |
    • austin929

      we should all be careful not to misplace our hope.

      August 10, 2014 at 1:37 am |
      • igaftr

        Like in "gods" and "saviors" that there is no evidence for whatsoever?

        August 10, 2014 at 8:33 am |
    • wmroga

      I doubt he would have the heart without the theology.

      August 10, 2014 at 10:41 am |
      • tallulah131

        Maybe he wouldn't have, but there are plenty of other doctors who don't need theology to be willing give their time and efforts to help others.

        August 10, 2014 at 2:34 pm |
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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.