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Posts Tagged ‘John W. Loftus’

Interview with John W. Loftus and Robert M. Price (Video)

Posted by Andy D. on August 17, 2008

It was a great pleasure to speak with two ex-ministers about a wide range of secular topics on Episodes 11 and 12 of “The Enlightenment Show.” They both have  preaching backgrounds and are still preaching but their message has changed.

Robert M. Price is author of “Top Secret: The Truth Behind Today’s Pop Mysticisms.” He is a Fellow at The Jesus Seminar and professor of Theology and Scriptural Studies at the Johnnie Coleman Theological Seminary. He is the author of many other books. See his website.

John W. Loftus is author of “Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity.” He is the founder of the blog Debunking Christianity. John grew up in Fort Wayne and formerly preached in Angola, IN.

Part 1 (29 min)[blip.tv ?posts_id=1185080&dest=-1]

Part 2 (30 min)[blip.tv ?posts_id=1185102&dest=-1]

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Robert M. Price article mentioned on the Enlightenment Show about moral trends

Posted by Andy D. on August 12, 2008

During The Enlightenment Show round table interview with John W. Loftus and Dr. Robert M. Price, John pointed out the following article that I included below which Robert wrote last year. We were talking about the lack of “family values” of Jesus and the bible. (I will have the shows posted in about a week.) The morality of the religious is really no better or worse than the population as a whole and Price in this article thinks this will slow evangelicalism.

Just today I ran across an article about marriage not necessary being great for health. Like everything, a huge general inference such as being married makes you live longer is very complicated and not clear cut. The family drum has been beaten hard by all the Christian right wing “family institutes” to disguise their religious bigotry in secular terms. For the record, I am not against the family at all and think all marriage contracts should be taken very seriously and divorce should only be used when absolutely necessary. Yes, I am ok with homosexuals forming marriages. I don’t know how those Christian right wingers infer that good stuff from family living won’t apply to homosexuals. I think those families would be stronger due to social pressures against them. Maybe the Christian Right will use this study from the article on machines like us?

I wish Price included the specific stats in his article below, but I think he is right with the trend. I don’t think religious nuttiness and policing will end but they will become less significant.

Here is Robert M . Price’s article:

It used to be the Evangelicals and Fundamentalists would never darken the door of movie theatres, even if Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place was showing (I kid you not!). Now that’s moot, especially in the wake of home theatre technology. They wouldn’t dance, because it was supposedly arousing, essentially mating behavior-which it obviously is! But now they’ve skipped the preliminaries (keep reading).

More significantly, they were very much against divorce and had a low incidence of it. But that, too, has changed. Evangelical churchmen and seminary professors found they just could not thunder against divorce any more once their own grown children were getting divorced. Same with women working outside the home. Economic realities dictated theology just as sure as the Feds’ threats to the Mormon Church miraculously prompted new LDS revelations to abandon, first, polygamy, then racial discrimination in the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Homosexuality is next on the list. More and more educated Evangelicals seem to feel they must find a compromise between the inherited party line and their liberal social conscience. This is especially true with seminarians and young ministers. And such theological accommodations are not hard to find. It doesn’t take as much text-twisting as slave-abolition or feminism, that’s for sure. And it was secular feminism challenging the church that led, more than anything else, to the great inerrancy crisis among Evangelicals in the 1970s. Prayer changes things? Things change prayer.

Recent surveys indicate that more and more Evangelicals are questioning or rejecting the doctrine of an eternal hell as well as the idea that non-Christians will not be saved in the afterlife. You can see where this is headed: they are making their way toward being one more tolerant, live-and-let-live mainstream denomination. Nor am I complaining. I doubt many of us are really that vexed by the particular beliefs any fundamentalist happens to hold. No, what we find obnoxious is the pugnacious and obnoxious attitudes that so often accompany their beliefs. But what if they drop that attitude? Why would they?

It was for the sake of feeling uniquely indwelt and transformed by the Holy Ghost that they have erected attitudinal walls against non-co-religionists. It was a mind game to protect their cherished in-group and their firmly-cemented membership in it. But the more you become like the mainstream, the less separates you from everybody else, well, the more difficult it becomes to feel special, uniquely connected to God and sanctified by Jesus. It’s not like they ever wanted to relegate everybody else to the Lake of Fire. It just seemed necessary in order for them to rejoice in not being relegated there themselves. And now feeling so different is no longer the priority. Attitudes affect doctrines which affect attitudes.

But the thing that will sooner or later bring the Evangelical Wailing Wall down is sex. More and more, Middle School, High School, and College Evangelicals admit to having sex in the same casual way as their “unsaved” contemporaries. That is, pre-marital, recreational sex. Having been so long Apollonian, they are itching to yield to Dionysus. But the gospel teaching of Jesus happens to be far more Apollonian than Dionysian. (Give ’em time, though, to discover the Q Source Jesus of Leif Vaage, Jesus as a “first-century party animal,” and they’ll be boasting of their biblical fidelity again.)

From the standpoint of sect-maintenance, this shift is fatal for two reasons. First, and most obviously, if this fundamental plank of the Evangelical platform rots and snaps, you can find little of similar magnitude to point to as the signal difference between the saved and the unsaved. I admit, there are a few more that would be similarly fatal, such as a casual permissiveness re drugs and alcohol.

Again, I admit that there are matters of graver moral content. A Christian ought to be able to say, e.g., “Jesus saved me from lying, from being insensitive, from being self-centered, cowardly, evasive, materialistic,” etc., and those things might be more important. I’d say they are. But you see, everybody accepts and admires those values. They don’t give Evangelicals special bragging rights like the sexual and other behavioral codes used to do.

Second, relaxing the sexual code is symbolically significant. Any group’s mores concerning food and sex are symbolic of their social boundaries and the shape of their self-identity. A group does not necessarily have both indices. One will do, though usually there are both. Old Testament Israelites were separated from rival cults/cultures by upholding inflexible restrictions on permissible food and on possible intermarriage partners. Sexual fidelity had a lot to do with guaranteeing that one’s true heirs inherited one’s land and name. Jewish Christians were alarmed at Paul being willing to abolish Jewish dietary and other ceremonial scruples to make it easier for Gentiles to join Christianity. They could see instantly that such a move would result in Jews being squeezed to the margins of the new religion-and it did. Jewish identity within Christianity was lost. Similarly, among American Jews today it is not bigotry when Orthodox rabbis discourage mixed marriages with non-Jews. Allow that, and you can say the big goodbye to Judaism in America. It will be only a matter of time before intermarriage with well-meaning and good-hearted non-Jews will completely erode American Judaism. The hybrid “Chrismika” is only a stop along the one-way track. Maybe there will be an Orthodox farm next to the Amish farm.

Well, when the sex barrier falls, the same fate is in store for Evangelical Christianity. (There never was a consistent Evangelical food boundary; even the Reformed drank alcohol.) And when the new generations are none too sure that non-believers are headed for hell, it becomes inevitable that American Evangelicalism will ease into the acid bath of American Pluralism. And it may happen sooner than you think. And then all those mega-churches will be up for sale. Unless of course they find a new product to sell. TV preacher Joel Osteen has done just that. His Evangelical belief is merely vestigial; he has converted to New Thought. It is no coincidence that he fills that stadium. Others may not be so lucky.

This was published by Robert Price in his monthly opinion email, Zarathustra Speaks. See his home page to subscribe. The newsletter notes: Copyright © 2007 Robert M. Price. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to reproduce, copy or distribute this newsletter if accompanied with this copyright notice.

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Thank you Dr. Price and John W. Loftus

Posted by Eye4Cards on August 8, 2008

I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Price for speaking for our group last night. I found it interesting and amusing, just like I do all of his stuff. I also wanted to thank John Loftus for taping a few episodes of our Enlightenment Show with Dr. Price. It is our best stuff yet. They are both setting the bar really high for us to try to keep getting fascinating and wonderful people to talk to our group. But hey, that’s what this group’s all about. I mean, when I think of what it is that would make me want to join a group like this, or even contribute to it myself, I think about the things I would want out of it.

I want engaging speakers that make us think about a myriad of things. So far, I’ve met two men and their lovely counterparts that I’ve already felt I’ve known a little from their books and blogs, and podcasts. I couldn’t ask for more and I’m looking forward to what’s in store for later.

I want local friends that I feel at ease with almost immediately. This isn’t normally an easy thing for me to find. This is probably my fault more than anything else. But I’ve never felt so completely at ease in such a large group of people before and it is refreshing. I told my wife after the meeting and pub last night about how therapeutic this whole experience has been for me. I look forward to reading our blog every day and am probably responsible for 2000 of the over 10,000(!) visits to our site to date. Alright, maybe not quite 2000, but it sure feels like it!

I also wanted to thank everybody that was able to make it last night. You all helped make it our biggest function to date, and I’m starting to sense a kind of group identity with our many varied and intriguing members. I felt bad because every time we have one of our meetings I can’t spend enough time with everybody and my attention goes in 10 different directions trying to take it all in. I guess that’s what the blog is for though. I had such a fun time last night that I ended up having a great roaming discussion with a couple of first timers I know well until almost 4:30 in the morning! It made my 11 hour work day go a little slower today, but it was worth it!

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Thanks, John, For A Great Meeting

Posted by mikebftw on May 16, 2008

I have to admit I was reluctant to even attend John W. Loftus’ presentation last Wednesday, especially after the unexpected press we received. (I had someone in my office – whom I would never expect to have heard about us – ask “Did you hear there’s a former preacher that’s gonna teach people how to be atheists at the library?”) As of about 5:30 Wednesday evening, I still wasn’t sure. I’m very glad I decided to go.

We owe some thanks to everyone – and I do mean everyone – who showed up Wednesday night. Most of the people who disagreed with John’s presentation were very polite – especially the respectful younger guys in the front row. However, we also need to thank the “attorney,” who showed up halfway through the presentation, immediately spent the next 15-20 minutes on his laptop visiting the Drudge Report (Where to begin?), left, came back, and launched a weak and pathetic attempt at grandstanding on a point that, had he been there at the beginning, would have already been explained more-than-sufficiently by John. We need to thank him because his presence demonstrated that not only does being a Christian not automatically make you a good person, it also doesn’t automatically save you from being an ill-behaved mannerless bag of douche.

But I digress.

When I first walked into the meeting room, I saw a number of faces I didn’t recognize. I braced for the worst – but was relieved to find that most of the attendees were not opponents, but freethinkers we hadn’t yet met. I hope these new folks make their way to the blog and the message board. As one of the (I presume) Christians at the meeting pointed out, it’s easier to critique or tear down than to create or build up. I couldn’t agree more. We are building a great organization, not of opposition, but of promotion – of science, reason, and logic. All of these contribute fundamentally to the betterment of humanity. While our first real speaker might be perceived as “anti-Christian” rather than “pro-science/reason/logic” due to the title of his book, I hope everyone in attendance realized that we are thoughtful, compassionate people that have much to offer this city.

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