Be careful if you reject the idea of an earthquake as God’s judgment for sin

God in Judgment Yesterday’s Strib has a letter to the editor by Northfielder and frequent LoGroNo commenter, John George, on “how earthquakes can be God’s judgment for sin.” (See full text below.) I’m hoping John will chime in here with a longer explanation. 

As an atheist, it makes no sense to me, of course, and I last blogged about God’s role in natural disasters back in 2007.

But for those of you who do believe in God and who might quickly dismiss John’s assertions, consider how often you pray or participate in prayers that ask God to intercede in some way in your physical world or the physical world of others. 

Praying to God to get you a job, to keep your child safe, or to heal a friend’s cancer assumes that God has fantastic power to reach inside and manipulate the economy, a potential attacker’s damaged emotions/brain, or the diseased cells of someone’s body. This is really no different than believing that God can reach inside the earth to manipulate its tectonic plates.

I’m guessing that most of Northfield’s ministers and members of their congregations would reject John’s assertion that the Haiti earthquake had anything to do with sins of Haitian or Americans. Yet I’m guessing that most regularly engage in  intercessory or petitionary prayers.

And as I wrote in another 2007 blog post, I think that’s a bastardization of what Jesus meant when he said, “Ask and you shall receive.”

John’s letter to the editor:

Update 6:37 am: I’ve added the scriptural references that John says were edited out of his original letter:

There have been several comments submitted about the Rev. Pat Robertson’s seemingly calloused opinion that this earthquake in Haiti was a result of sin. I read a CNN report this week in which their reporters visited some Haitian churches. The sermon topic in each church was about how earthquakes can be God’s judgment for sin. Hmmm. Do these local pastors have the courage to say something we refuse to admit?

There is a passage in Luke 13, NAS:Luke {13:4} "Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem?”

{13:5} "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." 2002 (C) Bible.

The thing we Americans refuse to recognize is that our sin contributed to this disaster. How about it, Americans? When are we going to repent?



  1. john george said:

    Griff- Can you check your spam filter for my comment? I must have an offending link format in it. If it isn’t there, then I’ll try to reassemble it. Thanks.

    January 21, 2010
  2. Griff Wigley said:

    Alas, John, I don’t see it anywhere. Can you try again? Apologies!

    January 21, 2010
  3. William Siemers said:

    John…in the strib letter you wrote:

    “I read a CNN report this week in which their reporters visited some Haitian churches. The sermon topic in each church was about how earthquakes can be God’s judgment for sin. Hmmm. Do these local pastors have the courage to say something we refuse to admit?”

    I think the pastors, local and otherwise, who say disaster is visited on humanity because of sin are self-serving religous thugs. Their job is to keep the fear of God in their congregations. In doing so they insure that they will remain the keepers of the key to salvation from God’s wrath. And while doing so collect plenty of cash in the process. This isn’t religion, it’s a protection racket.

    January 21, 2010
  4. Griff Wigley said:

    I’ve added the scriptural references to John’s original letter that he says were edited out by the Strib.

    January 21, 2010
  5. Griff Wigley said:

    William, it doesn’t help to use phrases like “religious thugs” here. I know you weren’t directing it at John but it sets a harsh tone and would likely prevent any said pastors from participating.

    January 21, 2010
  6. john george said:

    Griff- Thanks for checking. I have no idea what I did wrong to lose it. I’ll see if I have time today to reconstruct it. Thanks for adding the scripture reference. At least I don’t have to do that.

    William- Your comment about pastors, “…Their job is to keep the fear of God in their congregations,” well, yes, that is their job, but not for the motivations you suggest. Salvation is a simple, free gift.

    January 21, 2010
  7. David Ludescher said:

    Griff: Now that the Biblical reference has been added, do you want to change the post?

    January 21, 2010
  8. Paul Zorn said:


    I’m sorry your comment got lost, as I’d like to understand what you’re actually saying in your Strib letter — with or without the Biblical quotation.

    In particular, what do you think of the Rev Robertson’s views? And do you believe that the Haiti quake is a form of divine punishment? If so, for whose offense(s)? If we’re all culpable, why should the Haitians take the rap?

    January 21, 2010
  9. Griff Wigley said:

    David, do you mean that my use of “Be careful” in the headline infers that some here may be likewise smitten?

    January 21, 2010
  10. john george said:

    It is always interesting to me how writers comments printed in the Strib compare to what was actually submitted. My contribution is a case in point. Without the scripture reference, the conclusion I draw doesn’t make a lot of sense, so I appreciate the opportunity to expand upon it here on LGN.

    There is an interesting commentary I have linked here:

    It sums up pretty much my interpretation of this passage of scripture and the tragic events in Haiti. A couple of excerpts I resonate with:

    “In Luke 13:1-5, Jesus took advantage of two local tragedies to make the point that, in a major way, all sins and all sinners are equal. The incident of the collapsed tower was in all likelihood a time-and-chance accident. However, Jesus alluded to those who died as being sinners, and He implied that those in His audience were also sinners who deserved to die—and would, unless they repented.

    Jesus’ point is that, while it is not our responsibility to judge the degree of sinfulness of those who die suddenly and violently, it presents us with a golden opportunity to meditate on the state of our character and standing before God. We may be in just as much danger as those we regard as being very wicked!”

    Just to point out, also, the Greek word that the KJV tramnslates as “sinner” actually translates “culprit,” as in the NASV I quoted. The assumption the KJV writers interjected is that we are all born under the curse of Adam’s transgression, as the commentator espresses above.

    January 21, 2010
  11. john george said:

    Paul Z.- You raise some very good points, as always. As far as what I think of Rev. Robertson’s comments, I would defer to the commentary I quoted in post #7. Even though his comments may have some credibility in the spiritual realm, I don’t think they were well rendered. There is a general effect that the fall of man has had on creation best summed up in Romans 8:22, “For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.” Because we live in a fallen world, we will suffer the effects this has had on creation.

    In regards to Haiti, specifically, when you build cities on a seismically active part of the Earth’s surface, it shouldn’t be surprising that an earthquake will hit. The point the commentary made is that you need to be prepared, and I agree.

    Ecclesiates 7: 2 & 4 has some wisdom for us in our own response to this tragedy.
    V. 2:It is better to go to a house of mourningThan to go to a house of feasting,Because that is the end of every man,And the living takes it to heart.
    V. 4:The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning,While the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure.
    These are a couple reasons I asked the questions I did in the last paragraph of my editorial comment.

    January 21, 2010
  12. john george said:

    Griff- I don’t think you need to change anything in the post. You pegged the main focus of Robertson’s comments and the public reaction to them. Good job.

    January 21, 2010
  13. Anthony Pierre said:

    the biggest sinners in the world are the most well off… how do you reconcile that.

    January 21, 2010
  14. Jane McWilliams said:

    Leaving theological considerations aside, John, when you say “The thing we Americans refuse to recognize is that our sin contributed to this disaster. How about it, Americans? When are we going to repent?”, are you referring to the history of our policies in Haiti? Could the word “sin” be replaced by “our historical political and economic policies”?

    January 21, 2010
  15. David Henson said:

    John, your Strib posting is far more dogmatic than your further explanation here. Initially you say sin was ‘causal’ in the earthquake (of course, you would have to be really close to God to know this) and then later you say the earthquake is ’cause for reflection’ on sin. Which is your real opinion? I would tread carefully on stepping into the role of God yourself and explaining his actions … He frowns upon men speaking as if they have ubiquitous powers and knowledge.

    January 21, 2010
  16. William Siemers said:

    John… Priests, shamans, witch doctors, etc., have explained disasters (mass or personal) as God’s punishment for thousands of years. But the fact is they do not know if God is punishing people or not. Preaching that this punishment exists and taking material reward for selling a cure for it, is, to me, a protection racket.

    I think I understand the two verses: Bad things happen; repent or perish. Ok fine…that’s more of a positive message. But are you suggesting that God sent the earthquake so I’d take the hint and repent?

    January 21, 2010
  17. john george said:

    William- You express a common misconception regarding disasters- that God “sends” then in response to a specific transgression. As I said to Paul Z., if a person builds cities in a seismically active area, I think they should expect earthquakes. I stand by my point that we do not know when our time is up, and since it is written in Hebrews 9:27, “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,” then I think it is prudent to be prepared as much as we can.

    January 21, 2010
  18. john george said:

    Jane- A person can apply historical events to present day conditions however they are applicable, but that is not the meaning I am intending here. I am simply saying what Jesus said in Luke 13:5. We need to be aware of our own fallen condition and how continuing in that brings us under the same judgement.

    January 21, 2010
  19. john george said:

    David H.- I don’t think you are quite connecting with my statement, “…Rev. Pat Robertson’s seemingly calloused opinion that this earthquake in Haiti was a result of sin.” In his comments, he said specifically that the earthquake was a response to their commitment to animism and the worship of the creation rather than the Creator. That is his position, not mine. I was trying to differentiate between that opinion and the general effect that the original sin has on creation. That is a little hard to accomplish in a short, concise letter that the Strib would actually print. That is why I treasure the opportunity to expand upon it here.

    January 21, 2010
  20. Patrick Enders said:

    That seems to suggest that the bad events aren’t precipitated by the perceived sins, after all.

    January 21, 2010
  21. Amy Hollerung said:

    I have only commented on LG once before, and I can’t remember on what topic I’m sure it was very important to me at the time. This post struck me with the need to speak up and share what I believe. I am a christian and believe the Bible is God’s guide to us and take it as literal truth and fact.

    Yes God does have the power to cause earthquakes, fire, death, flood destroy anything, but God said he would not destroy the earth again so he won’t. As for people praying for healing, jobs, etc we can ask for anything but God will only gives us what we need. We may not like his decision but it is divine and he has a greater good plan.

    We are all going to be judged and punished for our own sin, believer or nonbeliever. My sin will not bring judgement or punishment onto another I am accountable for my own sins. Once Jesus died on the cross the practices of the old Testament were over we now have the ability the ask for forgiveness, receive it, and change without punishment.

    As for comments like Anthony’s “the biggest sinners in the world are the most well off” Since we have been talking about God’s punishment on us for sin we need to understand how he views sin and know what his terms and measures are. God views all sin as equal there is no scale one is not worse than another. In addition once you have truly asked for forgiveness that sin is gone and leaves no mark on you in Gods eyes. We cannot say he is more sinful than me because he is a murder and I just cheated a little on my taxes, it is all the same to God and will bring the judgement of his choosing. I believe God puts a lot of measure on ones heart not the sinful action itself.

    January 21, 2010
  22. Obie Holmen said:

    Deep, deep issues of theodicy (the problem of evil and injustice) and omnipotence (an all powerful deity) and difficult to discuss in a blog forum, but let me wade in.

    I’m not a pastor, but I’m pretty involved at Bethel Lutheran and with the ELCA clergy of Northfield/Faribault. I’m sure that not a one of these would suggest that God caused the hurricane, much less as a response to human sin either in Haiti or the US. John George and Pat Robertson represent a significantly different brand of Christianity that assumes a divine being causes any and all events, even catastrophes, and must have a reason for doing so. To other Christians, it ain’t that simple.

    For the participants of the Blue Monday theology table today (a gathering of ELCA clergy), God was not in the hurricane but in the response of volunteers, donors, and the tears of a saddened humanity.
    .-= (Obie Holmen is a blogger. See a recent post titled A Wretched Man novel: 3rd Review is in) =-.

    January 21, 2010
  23. Anthony Pierre said:

    I blame this shitty weather on this threads sins

    January 21, 2010
  24. john george said:

    Patrick- That is my take on it.

    January 21, 2010
  25. john george said:

    Obie- Why do you lump me in with Pat Robertson when I specifically said I did not agree with his theological application?

    January 21, 2010
  26. john george said:

    Amy- Thanks for stepping out again. Very good comments.

    January 21, 2010
  27. Obie Holmen said:


    I apologize. As soon as I pushed the submit button, I wished I could take it back and remove your name. Sorry.
    .-= (Obie Holmen is a blogger. See a recent post titled A Wretched Man novel: 3rd Review is in) =-.

    January 21, 2010
  28. john george said:

    Obie- No offense taken. I fall into the same trap many times myself. I know you and I differ on many interpretaions of scripture, but I do appreciate engaging your ideas. As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

    January 21, 2010
  29. Elizabeth Schott said:

    I have always felt that the best explanation for God’s role in disasters or misfortune is that He gives believers the strength to deal with their struggles and not that He deliberatelly causes those events. I believe that to think that he dips into everyday life to fiddle with peoples’ lives is a childlike view of Biblical teachings.

    January 21, 2010
  30. Griff Wigley said:

    Obie, how many of the Northfield clergy gathered at GBM with you this morning believe in intercessory and petionary prayers, as I described in my post?

    I’m guessing they ALL do.

    And therefore, that’s really no different than asserting that God causes/controls hurricanes and earthquakes.

    January 21, 2010
  31. So far as I can tell, Luke 13:1-5 pretty much completely rejects the “people are being punished for sin” model of disasters. It seems mostly to serve to help Pat Robertson feel smug (and no one, I think, should be surprised to see Robertson ignoring something Jesus said).

    So there is, at least within my religion, a pretty definite assertion that, no, disasters are not punishments for sin. There are similar statements elsewhere.

    January 21, 2010
  32. Obie Holmen said:


    Prayer. Another deep subject not amenable to explanation or exploration by sound bite or the blog format. I think you probably oversimplify the views of the “theology table”, and you probably overestimate the degree of consensus of this group about prayer–or other theological matters.

    I’ll drop by your morning office one day and try to share what I think, which isn’t necessarily what the others think. I hasten to add that there is a heavy dose of agnosticism in my views, which is to say that I don’t know. I wonder. I hope. I doubt.

    Allow me to quote myself from my forthcoming novel. The speaker is a fictionalized character, a Hebrew rabbi named Eli the sage who says the following to his young protege (the one who would become Paul the apostle):

    “Self doubt is the blossom of wisdom. Nurture it with awe and wonder. We must all pursue the same question, but we err if we believe we have discovered the answer. As soon as we name the one whose name is unknown, we create the one who created us.”

    See you soon.
    .-= (Obie Holmen is a blogger. See a recent post titled Prop 8 trial reveals abuses of reparative therapy) =-.

    January 21, 2010
  33. john george said:

    Holly- I submitted this to the Strib in response to a couple letters lambasting Robertson as being insensitive and out to lunch.

    January 21, 2010
  34. Holly Cairns said:

    John, a better message than the one Robertson is using is: God is Love.

    “God is Smite” doesn’t sit well with me. Robertson’s timing was cruel. I saw mass graves on today (seriously, scratch my eyes out!). Those people weren’t any worse than you, Pat, or me. Or I. Is it I?
    .-= (Holly Cairns is a blogger. See a recent post titled Democrats: Please don’t use the word “TEABAGGER”) =-.

    January 21, 2010
  35. David Ludescher said:

    John: I’m still a little confused. When you say, “… our sin contributed to this disaster…” are you saying that original sin causes us to understand evil? What is “our sin” and “this disaster”.

    January 21, 2010
  36. David Ludescher said:

    Griff: If you really want to understand religious prayer, I think you are going to have to entertain the possibility that God exists. “E pluribus unum” is just nonsense if you don’t believe that Latin exists.

    January 21, 2010
  37. john george said:

    Holly- Uh, I’m sorry, but I’m not following your thought here. What is your reasoning to say I’m part of the “…’I’m better than you’ club?”

    January 21, 2010
  38. john george said:

    David L.- I’m not sure I completely understand your question, but I will take a stab at an answer. When I refer to “original sin”, I am encompasing the fallen nature of man. The disobedience of Adam has become a legacy for us. We inherit the predisposition to sin, so our sin is added into the effects of the original disobedience. When the scripture says that Jesus died and rose for the sin of the whole world, that is a collective term including my sin. I am using that concept to say that my sin has as much responsibility as those of the rest of the world for the tragedy in Haiti. Did I get close to what you were asking?

    January 21, 2010
  39. Holly Cairns said:

    what happened to my comment? I’ll try again. Maybe if you change the url associated with your name the comment grinch comes and intervenes.

    You are sweet, John, so I hope this goes well as I try to explain myself.

    John said The thing we Americans refuse to recognize is that our sin contributed to this disaster. How about it, Americans? When are we going to repent?

    Did YOU already repent? If you did, that’s when you joined the “I’m better than you” club, of which Robertson seems to head when he tells crying and dying Haitians that their sin and ours caused the disaster.

    January 21, 2010
  40. john george said:

    Holly- I’m not defending Robertson’s gaff, but I don’t think we should miss the intent of the scripture in this case. Luke 13:5, “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” 2002 (C) Bible. It is still an apt admonition for us today. One concern I have is that we do not slide into what I call “slopp’e agap’e.” (I render it that way since “sloppy” does not rhyme with the Greek pronunciation of “agape.”) The philosophy of “I’m OK. You’re OK.” is not a Christian concept. “I’m a sinner. You’re a sinner.” is. It just takes some courage to stand on that. It is no more loving to allow a person to perish in his sins out of some fear of offending him than it is to condemn him in his sin and offer no help. See James 5:20.

    January 21, 2010
  41. Holly Cairns said:

    John, first, Luke 13:4-5 is about innocent people dying and being no worse than other sinners. Really, it is! 🙂

    Second, I am surprised you don’t happen to think Jesus made a difference re: sin and restitution.

    January 21, 2010
  42. john george said:

    Holly- The club I joined when I repented is headed by the Apostle Paul, who referred to himself as “the worst” of sinners (see 1st Tim. 1:15). I view salvation as a process which begins at the point in our life that we recognize how badly we have failed God, acknowledge that, and receive His forgiveness and cleansing (see 1st. John 1:9). That puts us positionally complete before the Father, but from there we begin the process of sanctification best described in James. Faith without works is dead.

    January 21, 2010
  43. john george said:

    Holly- Yes, I agree with you. Where did I say differently?

    January 21, 2010
  44. Holly Cairns said:

    Well, the problem we’re having is that the “Repent or Perish” doesn’t really go with the Tower story. Two completely different messages?

    On the one hand, the author asserts Jesus says we’re all are equal and so that’s NOT why bad things happened to them. The very next line says “Repent or Perish” which seems to indicate we’d better repent or bad things will happen.

    The author was probably intending a different meaning, such as “Don’t go do bad things, now, just because the tower won’t fall on you if you’re bad.”

    You think?

    And if we take the repent or perish seriously, how often do we have to repent? If you’re in the Paul repenter group, does that make you better than someone else who repented yesterday? Maybe the earthquake started because YOU didn’t repent ENOUGH! :-0 Or me, either. I didn’t repent enough.
    .-= (Holly Cairns is a blogger. See a recent post titled Democrats: Please don’t use the word “TEABAGGER”) =-.

    January 21, 2010
  45. john george said:

    Holly- I had a whole answer put together for you, and since I started in on my lap-top under my wife’s sign-in, I lost the whole thing. The computer did not automatically bring up my name and log-in. I just can’t face putting that together again, so I will try to give you a summary.

    If you look at the Greek text, v.5 relates back to v. 4 and would not make any sense standing alone. I don’t mean to be antagonistic, but your comment,
    “The author was probably intending a different meaning, such as “Don’t go do bad things, now, just because the tower won’t fall on you if you’re bad.”
    sounds more like speculation that good translation. The translation of judgement without repentance is clear in the Greek.

    Also, there are two perspectives on sin that we need to look at. One is the providential effect set in motion at the fall of man. The other is the individual way we each miss the mark through our actions. Jesus is refering to both concepts in this passage. Those questioning Him were looking for the personal shortcomings that earned these victims their fates. Jesus is refering to the providential effect that we all need deliverance from through the provision of Jesus’ death and resurection.

    January 21, 2010
  46. Holly Cairns said:

    Hi John,

    Yes, we could look at sin, and the meaning of sin. It might mean to think of ourselves instead of others, for instance. Or it could mean Adam messing things up for us, etc.

    It just so happens that Marcus Borg talks about repentance on page 219 of Jesus (my read just now). At the time the Gospels were written,

    “to repent” meant “to return” or “to return from exile.” This it intrinsically belongs to the same linguistic family as “the way”: “the way” is the path of repentance, the path of returning to God through a deep centering in God..

    Borg goes on to say:
    The Greek roots of “repent” mean “to go beyond the mind you have.”

    Any way we look at this, it would have been better for Rat Robertson to call for people to give, and love, and help, each other.

    PS, our sin (you eluded to in your letter, and now in context with what you have written just now) makes sense if you are referring to America as a greedy nation that doesn’t help it’s neighbors… and perhaps abuses relationships. Is that what you meant?

    January 22, 2010
  47. Alec Irwin said:

    I can’t help but think it would be so much more effective for God to actually make himself clear rather than some ambiguous action such as an earthquake. Isn’t that a little emotionally immature? I would never attempt to teach my boys something in that manner. “You didn’t clean your room so I am going to beat you up?” But not even make the message clear? Just beat them up and expect them to extrapolate that they got the punishment because. You don’t treat dogs that horribly.

    Does that say that he doesn’t really understand his creation, that he would communicate in such an ineffective manner? Shouldn’t he understands what motivates us? Wouldn’t it make sense for him to poke his head out from behind the clouds like some kind of Monty Python skit and make his message clear in no uncertain terms. He is all powerful and all why not take over the TV airwaves or something.

    And what exactly doesn’t he like in Haiti? Wouldn’t it be better to send this kind of message to the folks in Hollywood or some wealthy area, that could better afford his communication style, and then have the means to better pass the message on? Hati is a bad, mean spirited target. I think I would be more moved if he were to show some kindness there, like all of a sudden the entire island was solid cheese, and the rivers flowed with beer. I’d be like “whoa! God is Good”, “there isn’t any natural explanation for that”.

    Fact of the matter is, there is no God playing games with us. It is Geology. The tectonic plates are moving.

    January 22, 2010
  48. Alec Irwin said:

    Have you see the billboard currently up by McStop on 35?

    It says:

    God is the God of the Twin Towers, Hurricanes, & Bridges
    God is talking… but few are listening.
    Read the bible.

    Makes it seem like God is some sort of terrorist to me. I think homeland security should be called. Good luck finding him. oooh “just read the bible”.

    I have a good picture I can send you.

    January 22, 2010
  49. Kiffi Summa said:

    ****The existence of faith REQUIRES the existence of doubt;otherwise ‘faith’ would be belief.****

    It annoys the ‘bejesus’ out of me that the Renewal Lutheran churches, who preach the Great Commitment to the Great Commandment, ignore the last half of that cultural guideline…

    Look it up folks…

    January 22, 2010
  50. john george said:

    Holly- Re. your statement-

    “PS, our sin (you eluded to in your letter, and now in context with what you have written just now) makes sense if you are referring to America as a greedy nation that doesn’t help it’s neighbors… and perhaps abuses relationships. Is that what you meant?”

    doesn’t really line up with the hard figures out there. I found a chart comparing foreign aid extended by countries worldwide. The US, at that point in time, was giving $23.5 billion in foreign aid. The next country in dollar amount was the United Kingdom, with $12.46 billion. The figures just don’t support your allegation, IMO.

    As far as what we give to Haiti specifically, I found this data, whaich is a few years old, but I think demonstrates the real problem we are facing there.

    “The USA is the largest foreign source of relief aid to Haiti from the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

    Between 1999 and 2004, no new foreign aid to Haiti was sent because political instability made it unlikely that aid would be distributed properly. According to a World Bank report published in 2004, Haiti requires more than US$1.3 billion in aid for 2005 and 2006. In July 2004, a donors’ conference awarded Haïti more than US$1 billion in pledged aid for 2005 and 2006. The United States pledged US$230 million in aid through fiscal year 2006.”

    There are some specifics regarding the current aid going on in the wake of the earthquake disaster on this link (hope it gets through Griff’s spam filter)-

    I’m sure you have heard the old addage about pouring money down a rat hole. As long as there is corruption on the receiving end of the aid, we could give them half our GDP and the average Haitian citizen would still be in the same straits.

    January 23, 2010
  51. Patrick Enders said:

    I’ve seen that billboard and meant to take a picture, but never got around to it…

    The “wrath of God” point of view does seem to be held by a non-zero number of MN Christians.

    January 23, 2010
  52. john george said:

    Pat & Alec- I think it is advisable to keep in mind that there are ramifications to our choices. God extends His love to us in that while we were still sinners, He sent His Son to die for us. If we reject that provision, there are consequences. I know that my Father really loves me and desires for me to spend eternity with Him. If I chose to reject that love, it is not His fault if I spend eternity away from His presence. The thing we have been discussing here is whether God destroys people on a seeming whim just because they have rejected Him. In my understanding of scripture, that is not an accurate exigesis. The scripture I quoted out of Hebrews, if you remeber, says we die ONCE, THEN comes judgement. God will do everything in His power to try to get our attention while we still have life and the ability to respond to Him. 1st. Timothy 2:4 says, “..who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”(NAS) It is still our choice to unwrap the gift.

    January 23, 2010
  53. Kiffi Summa said:

    Calculate the costs of paying for that billboard as opposed to spending that Money … a ‘huge’ amount, I’m sure… spending that money on alleviating any ‘suffering’ of their choice.

    The apocalyptic viewpoint expressed by the writers of that billboard message is nothing but self- serving;an expression of their need to be in charge of other people’s thinking.

    It is an appalling waste, couched in a (false?) religious lecture.

    January 23, 2010
  54. Patrick Enders said:

    If there is a god, and if that god is like the one you describe, then you might be correct. I haven’t seen testable evidence supporting either of those things being true.

    January 23, 2010
  55. john george said:

    Patrick- I accuratly described my God from the Scripture and from my own experience. It remiinds me a little of a saying I heard years ago:

    “To live above with the saints we love,
    That will truly be Glory.
    But to live below with the saints we know,
    Well, that’s a different story.”

    James writes that we all stumble in many ways. I only have a problem with those people who walk in denial of that fact.

    January 23, 2010
  56. Holly Cairns said:

    Okay John, back to me trying to figure out what you mean by sin, then. And you didn’t reply on the idea that repent might mean to return from exile, or come closer to God, etc.

    January 23, 2010
  57. john george said:

    Holly- Here is the whole of Webster’s definition:

    Main Entry: 1re·pent
    Pronunciation: \ri-?pent\
    Function: verb
    Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French repentir, from Medieval Latin repoenit?re, from Latin re- + Late Latin poenit?re to feel regret, alteration of Latin paenit?re — more at penitent
    Date: 14th century
    intransitive verb
    1 : to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life
    2 a : to feel regret or contrition b : to change one’s mind
    transitive verb
    1 : to cause to feel regret or contrition
    2 : to feel sorrow, regret, or contrition for

    — re·pent·er noun

    That seems pretty clear to me. Regarding your idea-

    “…repent might mean to return from exile, or come closer to God, etc.”

    what are you actually saying in this?. It sounds more like the result of the action (repentance) rather than a definition. I found this translation of the Greek word, metanoeo-

    “to change one’s mind, i.e. to repent
    to change one’s mind for better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins”

    I have a problem with diluting the seriousness of the sin nature and the importance of turning from it. I have heard this dilution expressed something like this, “God loves you, so you must not really be bad or He wouldn’t love you. You have to be careful not to offend anyone or make them feel unloved by saying they are living sinfully.” If that is what you are suggesting, then it is the antithesis of what I am talking about.

    January 23, 2010
  58. Griff Wigley said:

    Commentary in today’s NY Times: Between God and a Hard Place by James Wood. “Earthquakes have inspired preachers, leaders and victims to use religious reasoning and theological language to cope with the events around them.”

    In his speech after the catastrophe, President Obama movingly invoked “our common humanity,” and said that “we stand in solidarity with our neighbors to the south, knowing that but for the grace of God, there we go.” And there was God once again. Awkwardly, the literal meaning of Mr. Obama’s phrase is not so far from Pat Robertson’s hatefulness.

    The president was merely uttering an idiomatic version of the kind of thing you hear from survivors whenever a disaster strikes: “God must have been watching out for me; it’s a miracle I survived,” whereby those who died were presumably not being “watched out for.” That President Obama did not really mean this — he clearly did not — is telling, insofar as it suggests how the theological language of punishment and mercy lives on unconsciously, well after the actual theology has been discarded.

    Or has it? If the president simply meant that most of us have been — so far — luckier than Haitians, why didn’t he say that? Perhaps because, as a Christian, he does not want to believe that he subscribes to such a nonprovidential category as luck, or to the turn of fate’s wheel, which is really a pagan notion. Besides, to talk of luck, or fortune, in the face of a disaster seems flippant, and belittling to those who have been savaged by such bad luck. A toothache is bad luck; an earthquake is somehow theological.

    January 24, 2010
  59. Kiffi Summa said:

    John: Because you cite the god you “know” from your “own experience” does not in any way prove validity, any more than one of NF’s foremost residents own account of his experience with a ghost proves the existence of such.

    Faith substitutes for fact.

    January 24, 2010
  60. john george said:

    Griff- Wood’s article is a reasonable read, but I think it reveals a common penchant of mankind- we have to have a reason for everything that happens. We even have to define a reason WHY people say or do the things they do. There is this verse in Proverbs that describes that penchant:

    25: It is the glory of God to (B)conceal a matter,
    But the glory of (C)kings is to search out a matter.

    There is another reference in Ecclesiastes 9 that I think is reasonable:

    11I again saw under the sun that the (D)race is not to the swift and the (E)battle is not to the warriors, and neither is bread to the wise nor (F)wealth to the discerning nor favor to men of ability; for time and (G)chance overtake them all.

    12Moreover, man does not (H)know his time: like fish caught in a treacherous net and (I)birds trapped in a snare, so the sons of men are (J)ensnared at an evil time when it (K)suddenly falls on them.

    It appears the writer here, supposedly Solomon, recognized that some things that happen on this Earth defy any explanation or logic. For some reason, it seems that if we can explain why something happens, it should give the survivors of a calamity reason to have hope. I think that motivation may have merit, but our explanations often time don’t produce the hope we intended.

    There is a passage in Romans 12 that I think provides a better direction:

    14(A)Bless those who persecute [a]you; bless and do not curse.

    15(B)Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

    16(C)Be of the same mind toward one another; (D)do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly (E)Do not be wise in your own estimation.

    Verse 15 I think has merit. What most of us want in our lives is understanding and empathy, especially when some difficulty or tragedy strikes. I think this type of response expresses love in a way that is more easily received by the hearer.

    There is another passsage in Luke 17 that goes along the lines of the what I have been presenting:

    33″(A)Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.
    34″I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left.
    35″(B)There will be two women grinding at the same place; one will be taken and the other will be left.

    Here, Jesus is presenting the same thread of thinking I addressed above in Luke 13. It is an admonishment to be prepared, for we do not know what the next minute, let alone tomorrow, will bring. Our lives are very precious, even though they are hardly a breath in the scope of eternity. What we do with them is our choice.

    January 24, 2010
  61. john george said:

    Griff- Back in 13.4, you raised the question about how intercessory prayer fits into all this. There is a reference in James 5:16-18 that gives me hope to pray-

    16Therefore, (A)confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be (B)healed (C)The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

    17Elijah was (D)a man with a nature like ours, and (E)he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for (F)three years and six months.

    18Then he (G)prayed again, and (H)the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.

    There are many ideas out there about how we can or should interract with God. I adhere to the one that proposes that God is active, not passive, and desires to be involved in my life. To say there is nothing but fate only is to remove hope of at least asking. This whole discussion has produced volumes of books, so, as Obie said, it cannot be definitively addressed in this blog setting. I at least wanted you to know that I have been thinking about your question, because it is valid.

    January 24, 2010
  62. Kiffi Summa said:

    John: I have a question… do you know the Bible so thoroughly that you can summon up these citations… or… do you have a subject oriented reference link?

    January 25, 2010
  63. Jeff Gunn said:

    My difficulty in this argument is that we have no empirical basis in a knowledge of direct will of God. Why does God explains the natural world. How can God make anything happen?

    Earthquakes happen everyday. Scientist have collected data on thousands of earthquakes all over the world. These are repeatable events, that have a natural explanation, which scientist clearly understand. If, after all this data has been collected and we find no data to support a miraculous origin, we can safely say it is a natural event. No divine intervention is necessary.

    Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing?
    Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing?
    Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him God?

    -Epicurus, 341 BC, Samos – 270 BC, Athens

    January 25, 2010
  64. Obie Holmen said:

    While researching and writing a blogpost about the American evangelical connection to the Uganda anti-gay movement that supports capital punishment for gays, I came across a group called the International Transformation Network (INT). This “prosperity gospel” movement promotes a prayer ministry collaboration between government, business, and Christianity. A pro-business theocracy if you will. Turns out the Ugandan prime minister and especially his first lady are front and center of the movement as is the member of Parliament that wrote the draconian “kill the gays” legislation. The Ugandan first lady is affectionately referred to as “Mama Janet” by the INT.

    Puts a little different take on Griff’s original question about petitionary and intercessory prayer.

    Here’s the local kicker; Rejoice Church has connections to the INT.
    .-= (Obie Holmen is a blogger. See a recent post titled Are American evangelicals complicit in the Uganda anti-gay movement?) =-.

    January 25, 2010
  65. john george said:

    Kiffi- Yes.

    January 25, 2010
  66. john george said:

    Kiffi- Let me expand a little bit on my answer to your question above. I have followed God and immersed myself in studying the Bible for about 38 years. I have been involved in ministry and have taught Biblical principles in the churches I have been involved in, to college students, and have traveled to Siberia three times to teach in churches there. I know the word pretty well, but I don’t profess to know everything about it. I am by no means a walking concordance. I know a verse is in the Bible, but I can’t necessarily recite it and give the reference. My son, however, can, and I covet his youthful memory. I am also painfully aware of the admonition in James 3:1 “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.” When I present an idea here, I really try to research it in the scriptures to verify its accuracy.

    January 25, 2010
  67. john george said:

    I should add “from memory” to this sentence, “I know a verse is in the Bible, but I can’t necessarily recite it and give the reference.”

    January 25, 2010
  68. Kiffi Summa said:

    Here’s exactly where I have ‘the problem’… “transformation”…
    Transform yourselves but keep your transformations off those who do NOT wish to be ‘transformed’, I say.
    I wish someone from Rejoice would explain what it is they are working to transform about Northfield…

    January 25, 2010
  69. Kiffi Summa said:

    Here’s another place I have a problem, John..
    You said: “when I present an idea here, I really try to research it in the scriptures to verify its accuracy”.
    Researching it in the scriptures does not IMHO, “verify its accuracy”; it verifies that a related link to that IDEA is in the scriptures. Maybe I’m just being too specific about language, I don’t think I am; I think you have made it clear that you take the Bible as the actual word of God, and therefor the actual truth, or in some cases a fact/
    That takes a leap of faith, and please recall that ‘faith’ must include doubt.

    January 25, 2010
  70. john george said:

    Jeff- Your reference above just demonstrates how men have rationalized their own actions and disobedience to God for centuries. Epicurus’ line of reasoning is the same as many posted here on this thread. It reminds me of an observation by Jesus in Luke 10- “21(B)At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, ‘I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.'”

    January 25, 2010
  71. Griff Wigley said:

    I’m guessing that the vast majority of Northfield churchgoers have prayed for the safe return of our troops… and more to the point, that most of you who are arguing with John George have done so.

    Why do you believe that God could intercede in the life/death outcome of a member of the military but not intercede with tectonic plates?

    Isn’t praying “Keep our troops safe” the flip side of the same coin that says “Sin contributed to the disaster in Haiti”?

    January 26, 2010
  72. Alec Irwin said:

    I think that what Pat Robertson is really saying is: don’t feel bad that we live with lavish abundance while the people in Haiti suffer with abject poverty, they deserve it, God is punishing them.

    Pat might not admit that when put that way and People of Northfield or elsewhere may not really feel that way, but it is what he is saying between the lines. He is saying it is ok to look the other way. We wouldn’t want to have our followers look and see just how absolutely absent God really is. Keep praying for that bowling score however, cause God will reach down and keep your ball out of the gutter.

    If prayer is so effective then where is the evidence of it. Show me the properly-conducted double-blind studies. Some story or 2000 year old book with no collaborating evidence isn’t going to do it for me.

    January 26, 2010
  73. Alec Irwin said:

    Pehaps the Haitians aren’t hungry enough yet?

    “That’s really where this battle will be won — on our knees in prayer and fasting,” “Remember: faith without works is dead. So we’re asking you to do all of it: pray, fast, believe, trust the Lord, but also act.” Michelle Bachmann.

    Is fasting really an Act? Seems to me “not eating” is not an action, eating is an act. Got it backwards there, Michelle. I would think whirling and spinning in circles would be a good act for Michelle to try, that would show lots of action.

    The US with it’s high obesity rates must be doing the ‘act’ part right, look how blessed we are. Lets compare the obesity factor to disasters, I bet we might discover that God loves fat people most. We need to set up some fast food and Dunkin Donuts shops in Haiti ASAP!

    January 26, 2010
  74. David Ludescher said:

    Griff: No. Even if God does not exist, praying to keep our troops safe can have all kinds of unanticipated side benefits, including causing us to reflect upon what a just war is, why war is necessary, and focusing our mission in just wars. One who doesn’t believe in God wouldn’t do the same kind of praying, and hence, wouldn’t get the same kind of benefit.

    January 26, 2010
  75. Jane Moline said:

    Hey Griff: I don’t believe in God but I believe in the power of prayer.

    January 26, 2010
  76. john george said:

    Kiffi- I am only presenting a Scriptural perspective here. As I said before in another thread, I don’t look to science to verify my faith, and I don’t expect scientists to look to my faith to verify their science. I don’t think you are being too specific about the language. You are understanding what and why I am presenting an IDEA on this thread. (Remember, I have a Biblical world view.) Faith is the substance (or conviction) of things not seen, as the writer of Hebrews stated in 11:1. If I could see it, then I wouldn’t need faith, because it would be evident to my (and everyone else’s) senses.

    January 26, 2010
  77. Anthony Pierre said:

    Now it is such a bizarrely impossible coincidence that anything so mind-bogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the nonexistence of God. The arguement goes something like this:
    “I refuse to prove that I exist,” says God, “for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.”
    “But,” say Man, “the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don’t. QED.”
    “Oh dear,” says God, “I hadn’t though of that” and promply vanishes in a puff of logic.

    January 26, 2010
  78. Patrick Enders said:

    “That was easy, said Man – and went on to prove that black was white, and got killed on the next zebra crossing.”

    January 26, 2010
  79. john george said:

    Romans 1:18-20, Unbelief and Its Consequences
    18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
    19because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
    20For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

    25:For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

    1 Corinthians 1:25& 26
    25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
    26For consider your calling, brethren, that there were
    not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble;

    I remember my good friend Nancy Amerman spoke at the Northfield prayer breakfast a couple years ago. She was asked to share her testimony about her family’s life after Jeff’s sudden death. She openly spoke of their struggles and their triumphs over the couple years before. At the end, she said this, and it has one of the most poignant expressions of truth I have ever heard. “I was asked to share my testimony this morning. You tell me, what is my testimony?”

    January 26, 2010
  80. john george said:

    Patrick- Is that what it means to earn your stripes?

    January 26, 2010
  81. Anthony Pierre said:

    warm your throwing arm up, john, you got lots of stonin’ to do.

    January 26, 2010
  82. john george said:

    Oh? How is that?

    January 26, 2010
  83. Anthony Pierre said:

    If there be found among you … that … hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them … Then shalt thou … tone them with stones, till they die. Deuteronomy 17:2-5
    If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers … thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die. Deuteronomy 13:5-10

    January 26, 2010
  84. Alec Irwin said:

    While I am certain that praying does nothing supernatural for the military, it could have a benefit psychologically on those going into danger. If the mental attitude stays upbeat and positive it may effect someones decisions in a critical moment. Having a positive attitude can effect a whole range of chemistry in a persons body, leading to better health, alertness, and ability to deal with pain. Knowing that friends and family are feeling comforted by a deluded belief an imaginary sky god can free the mind to worry about other things. It is a mechanism to let go of distracting thoughts.

    We could find other/better ways to do this, however the God and Prayer thing is probably simplest. A person can just know this is going on for instance and circumvent the whole God & Prayer dog and pony show. There have been plenty of times in my life where I have been scared, I have comforted my self by thinking I had magic socks on or that my lucky pocket knife would keep me safe. I think that the lucky socks work best as they keep my feet warm as a side benefit. I know it is just as delusional as believing in a God. (A big difference is that my socks are not institutionalized, I can’t put “in socks we trust” on US currency.)

    The belief in ‘prayer’ in the “keep our troops safe” sense could be different than believing there is connection between sin and catastrophe. I believe in family and community, positive affirming support and communication. That is what I can see as the ‘prayer power’ in that case. It ain’t God, it is humans.

    Letting ourselves think that we should feel no guilt for our footprint on the back of the third world because “God” is somehow getting back at them for his hurt ego, is a definition of delusional evil.

    January 26, 2010
  85. Alec Irwin said:

    The modern christian way is to quote Romans 1:18-20, and scare them into believing. We only want gullible superstitious followers (preferably with money). You don’t get your hands dirty like the good ole days.

    The only logic is completely circular logic.

    January 26, 2010
  86. john george said:

    John 8:7-
    “But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, ” He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

    Matthew 7:2-4-
    2″For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.

    3″Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

    4″Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?

    James 5:16-
    “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”

    January 26, 2010
  87. Kiffi Summa said:

    Oh for “god’s” sake… dueling quotations… Can you put an end to this foolishness, Obie?

    January 26, 2010
  88. Anthony Pierre said:

    are you saying your infallible book contradicts itself?

    January 26, 2010
  89. john george said:

    1 Cprinthians 2:14-
    “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”

    January 26, 2010
  90. Anthony Pierre said:

    I don’t know how you can say im not as spiritual as you. have you ever run barefoot early morning in the spring when the dew is still on the grass? That’s spiritual.

    January 26, 2010
  91. john george said:

    Anthony- I come from a stance that a person has to consider the whole counsel of God. 1 John 1:8-
    “7but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
    “8If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
    As I said to William S. above, since we do not know when our time is up, I think it behoves us to be prepared. Judgement is not mine to mete out, but I submit myself to the Him who has the power to destroy both my body and my soul (Matthew 10:28).

    January 26, 2010
  92. john george said:

    Nor do I.

    January 26, 2010
  93. Alec Irwin said:

    Sorry the whole blood of Jesus thing does not make any sense at all.

    God – You see it was necessary for me to sacrifice myself to myself in order to allow myself to change a rule that I myself, created… What’s not to get?

    Russell – And what exactly are you saving us from?

    God – me sending you to Hell.. it all ties in!


    January 26, 2010
  94. Patrick Enders said:

    No; my quote is just the continuation of Anthony’s (famous in some circles) quote from a science fiction novel.

    The thing about faith and quoting from the Bible is the circularity of it. Your quote regarding the need for faith (or the threat of facing divine wrath for those who lack faith) is probably very powerful for those who have faith that the Bible is the true word of a one true god.

    For those who do not share that belief, quoting the bible as proof that one must accept the truth of the bible just seems like a tautology.

    January 26, 2010
  95. john george said:

    Patrick- You are exactly correct. That is why we have this exhortation-
    1 Thessalonians 1:5
    “…for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.”
    I believe there is a level of demonstrable power like what is written about in Acts that is available to we believers today. There are two keys to unlocking it, I believe- holiness and obedience. I’m not convinced that the contemporary church, especially in America, is walking in either well enough to see this released. It is the desire of my heart, and those I am in relationship with, to see that level of holiness be represented in our own lives, at least.

    January 26, 2010
  96. Kiffi Summa said:

    Griff: where does # 47 originate from?
    When you link to it, you come on to the same sort of anonymously created ranting that refers to LG as “Locally Bought and Paid For”… the same sort of anonymous rant in the NFNews comments that appears with that referral to LG…
    I know you don’t want me to even discuss it, but this sort of anonymous BS is dangerous in a community that is already feeling unsettled.

    You can’t ignore it.. it is insidious, and the definition of that word is: “proceeding inconspicuously but with grave effect”.

    January 27, 2010
  97. Anthony Pierre said:

    swine flu isn’t evidence of evolution?

    January 27, 2010
  98. Griff Wigley said:

    Kiffi, the pingback is from the blog authored by Kevin Budig, candidate for Northfield School Board last year. He mostly uses the pseudonym ‘Maddmedic’ but it’s fairly well-known who he is. Regardless, I should have noted that when I approved the pingback. Thanks for the alert.

    January 27, 2010
  99. Anthony Pierre said:

    and also, I don’t think I evolved from

    Michael Nesmith
    Davy Jones
    Micky Dolenz
    Peter Tork

    January 27, 2010
  100. Alec Irwin said:

    If you are having trouble understanding how evolution works watch “Climbing Mount Improbable”

    It is both entertaining and educational. Anyone that makes a statement like that really needs to at least learn what the basics are.

    January 27, 2010
  101. Anthony Pierre said:

    what an act of courage, making the blog password protected.

    January 27, 2010
  102. Patrick Enders said:

    Anthony wrote:

    swine flu isn’t evidence of evolution?

    Either that, or it was a special gift from God, handcrafted especially for us. Take your pick.

    Given the fact that we know how the genetic reassortment of influenza works, and can predict in advance that these kind on new virulent strains will periodically be produced by this process, I’d say “yes – evolution.”

    January 27, 2010
  103. Patrick Enders said:

    Anthony you wrote:

    what an act of courage, making the blog password protected.

    Kinda runs counter to the whole point of blogging, yes.

    January 27, 2010
  104. john george said:

    Patrick & Anthony- Are you saying that mutations are evolution? Is this where we get the concept of imutable rights?

    January 27, 2010
  105. Patrick Enders said:

    Actually, influenza strains most commonly evolve into new strains due to reassortment, not mutation.

    January 27, 2010
  106. Patrick Enders said:

    (Or rather, new pandemic strains like the 2009 Novel H1N1 tend to evolve by reassortment. Smaller, year-to-year changes in influenza strains are more likely to be due to mutation.)

    January 27, 2010
  107. john george said:

    Patrick- This “reassortment” of a flu virus always produces some new type of FLU virus. Almost sounds like asexual reproduction. If this “reassortment” produces something different than another virus, say an amoeba, then I might be inclined to believe the application of evolution as I have heard it stated in opinions posted here. If evolution is used to describe this changing of one virus into a different but similar virus, then I have no problem with embracing that. The claim that this micro-process applies on a macro scale is where you lose me.

    January 27, 2010
  108. Patrick Enders said:

    If a single mutation in a virus created an amoeba, that wouldn’t be evolution – that would be a miracle. They’re that different, and a _lot_ of time was required for that to happen in the real world.

    However, here are a couple examples from one list of some observed speciation events:

    Example two:

    Evidence that a species of fireweed formed by doubling of the chromosome count, from the original stock. (Note that polyploids are generally considered to be a separate “race” of the same species as the original stock, but they do meet the criteria which you suggested.)

    (Test for speciation: cannot produce offspring with the original stock.)

    Mosquin, T., 1967. “Evidence for autopolyploidy in Epilobium angustifolium (Onaagraceae)”, Evolution 21:713-719

    Example three:

    Rapid speciation of the Faeroe Island house mouse, which occurred in less than 250 years after man brought the creature to the island.

    (Test for speciation in this case is based on morphology. It is unlikely that forced breeding experiments have been performed with the parent stock.)

    Stanley, S., 1979. Macroevolution: Pattern and Process, San Francisco, W.H. Freeman and Company. p. 41

    January 27, 2010
  109. Patrick Enders said:

    …To be clear, Amoebas did not evolve from viruses. But they do probably share a (very distant) common ancestor.

    January 27, 2010
  110. john george said:

    Patrick- I read a study sometime over the last year that found that men and earthworms share something like 80% of the same DNA (I think I got my terms correct. I’m keeping up with this between clients and not taking time to research the articles). Just because that is so, I have a hard time equaling a singular lineage from that data.

    January 27, 2010
  111. Anthony Pierre said:

    why do you have a hard time with this?

    January 27, 2010
  112. john george said:

    Paul Z.- That is definitly a good read.

    January 27, 2010
  113. john george said:

    Anthony- Is this something that happened by natural selection or is this attributable to a common designer? And why?

    January 27, 2010
  114. Patrick Enders said:

    That fact (that there are shared DNA sequences, not any particular measure of that similarity) is compatible with evolution, but is not in and of itself a strong case for evolution. Indeed, the Theory of evolution was proposed something close to a century before anyone discovered DNA.

    January 27, 2010
  115. john george said:

    Patrick- That’s what I thought. If this could be resolved, that WOULD be earthshattering news! Another earthquake? Caused by agreement rather than sin? Now, that is earthshattering, also! (Sorry- couldn’t resist interjecting a little fun, if you might call it that!)

    January 27, 2010
  116. Anthony Pierre said:

    lol @ fun puns

    January 27, 2010
  117. Griff Wigley said:

    Kevin Budig linked here twice in two days but then made his  blog private, requiring a username and password. 

    Here are the two blog posts in which he linked to us, first the screencaptures, then the text with links: lg post capture 1.27.10 lg post capture 1.26.10

    Oh my…Now this is interesting!
    January 27, 2010

    Someone’s been looking at my quaint little page here it appears!

    A whole bunch of someone’s!

    Coming from here! Locally Owned!

    Oh here also!

    Betcha the parties there are in an uproar!!! Well I’ll be remiss and just read the hate mail I am getting. Actually going to Locall Bought and Paid for will just raise my BP.  I bet some are offended! Well tough. There is some pretty “offensive” crap there also!

    You know for someone whom gave 12 years of his life answering the brrrrp of the pager or tones over the portables, at all hours in all types of weather, working 24 and 48 hour shifts in the beginning, taking care of the citizens of Northfield, dealing with the sick and injured, young and old, the drunken college kids, the elderly at the two wonderful care centers we have here(in spite of the State’s best efforts to screw them up!), transporting them to the hospital, you would think I cared a little bit about Northfield.

    Well I do. The Northfield Police and Fire folks I worked with, EMS and friends I’ve made through Church, NYBA (although thats another story!!), Church League Softball. All good people.

    But thats all folks!! Don’t even ask me about the School system!! You won’t like what I say at all!


    Evolution, Religion, Creationism.
    January 26, 2010

    I believe we were created by God. This world is to magnificent/complex/diversified to be “by chance” I do not believe my ancestors were monkeys. Now there are many whom do believe that! Crawled from the sludge into the trees then down again. Yeah, right!

    My question is. If we evolved from monkees, why did the monkeys quit evolving? We still have monkeys, but I do not recall anyone ever seeing  a monkey  evolve or a man walk from monkey country proclaiming he just evolved from said monkey? I do recall about somebody a monkey and then AIDS appeared!!

    But I suppose it is possible that some people did evolve from monkeys and or green slime. You can find the proof here, at Locally Bought and Paid For! It appears they live in Northfield, Mn!! A great number of them!

    January 28, 2010
  118. Anthony Pierre said:

    I think he’s confusing hilarity with offense

    January 28, 2010
  119. john george said:

    If it’s good enough for Jesus, its good enough for me- Matthew 4:5-7

    “5Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple,

    6and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written,

    7Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.'”

    The only advantage to having a weapon is knowing how to use it.

    January 28, 2010
  120. Alec Irwin said:

    John, I’m the real god! It’s the other ten thousand gods who are fakes! If you don’t believe me just test the other Gods. Start with Mirtha he has a good story.

    Oh and by the way “YOU SHALL NOT TEST ME (the real one)!!”

    Matthew 7 has got to be one of the lamest quotes and proof of quackery in the whole of the bible. It is like saying “I am only going to save people that believe things without evidence.” Or only people that believe that the ex prime minister of Nigeria wants to send them $100000000. What has God got against a little reassurance of his reality? Clearly it is called for. I could have grown up in India where everyone around me said the same thing about another God.

    “Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blind-folded fear.” – Tom Jefferson

    January 28, 2010
  121. Patrick Enders said:

    I’m glad to know that Kevin is praying for Obama… to die soon.


    (See the top of his “Maddmedic” blog.)

    January 28, 2010
  122. Alec Irwin said:

    Did someone write something slamming his service to or commitment to the community? I missed that, all I saw was disagreement due to his complete lack of understanding of evolution.

    I sure wasn’t aware that we weren’t allowed to be offended by, or disagree with someone who has had a job helping others. Well especially when he asks for it by linking to his blog. Yeah cause that’s good, I might try that next time someone disagrees with me on an unrelated topic.

    January 28, 2010
  123. john george said:

    Alec- Wow!

    January 28, 2010
  124. Alec,

    He flamed my humor blog a couple years ago basically taking the same tack… because he’s worked saving lives his opinions on essentially-unrelated matters are somehow more valuable. Granted, I did have the temerity to write an obviously-parodic piece called “Abortion Is Awesome!”

    January 28, 2010
  125. john george said:

    Alec- Brace yourself! Here comes another scripture, but I think you’ll see what I mean.

    Hebrews 12:15 “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;”

    I think it was Andy Rooney who said something like we do not have the right to not be offended. I don’t know Kevin, but I don’t agree with the tone of his blog posts. Dying to oneself is never easy, and the old flesh puts up quite a fight.

    January 28, 2010
  126. Alec Irwin said:

    Brendon, That is an incredibly funny post. Your back and forth with Kevin make it all that much better.

    John, there are lots of scripture that is wise and good, even for someone that will never believe in the whole Jesus thing. I will call you on the silly ones pointing out why I don’t believe it, and I hope you don’t take offense. I will try to be nice, even to Kevin.

    January 28, 2010
  127. john george said:

    Alec- No offense taken, I assure you. We each will give account in that day. I know there are things in the scripture that I do not completely understand, but, like many others in the past, I know that I will understand them in the right time. My lack of understanding of some things does not prevent me from following those things I know to be true, or have experienced.

    January 28, 2010
  128. Mike Zenner said:


    Got to get your camera up to northbound I35 before County 70 exit in Lakeville. Noticed billboard sign this morning on the way to work that reads(I can’t remember it all exactly):

    ” God is talking to us, Twin Towers, hurricanes and ??, is anyone listening to him?”

    Maybe the sign has been there for a long time and I have not noticed til now. Thought it kind of ties into the discussion here. I don’t know who paid to have it put up.

    January 29, 2010
  129. john george said:

    You no lissina my Bible, I no lissina your global warmin’!

    January 29, 2010
  130. Patrick Enders said:

    It went up a couple of weeks ago.

    January 29, 2010
  131. Kiffi Summa said:

    So here’s A question… the maddmedic website uses a headline of a scripture quote about failure and numbered days to refer to President Obama. The previous site linked to by Griff… the one now closed to public perusal, gave information about a “Ultimate Adventure Cruise” offering for $5200 a person, double occupancy, a cruise to the international waters off Somalia to hunt pirates; All manner of guns available on board for rental (ak47 for $25.00), as well as markmanship training, etc.

    ***Now do you understand this… An “ultimate adventure cruise” for people to hunt people!***

    I do not approve of the ‘pirates’ and their actions in the shipping channels off Somalia; I do NOT approve of people hunting people , AND it should not have to be necessary for that to even be an issue to be discussed in this community.

    I might also note that Mr. Budig’s website links his affirmation of guns, with home invasion, and threatening “scareware” software which implies that he knows who is looking at his site and can take any action he pleases… as it says” ….I don’t play well with others”

    We have every right to free speech, and we have every right to react to the threatening speech of others, whether “protected ” by scripture or not.

    ***Here’s the question: Since Mr. Budig links to his church, which is then revealed as Rejoice, does the ministry, and congregation of Rejoice approve and support the writings of their avowed member?***
    I would hope not, for the good of Northfield.

    *** Here’s a second question: Since Mr. Budig has been an EMT, teaches EMT, and uses a headline which hopes the days of the President of the United States are numbered, and expresses that hope through scripture… what can we imagine would be his reaction if President Obama was speaking at Carleton, and required the assistance of NF Paramedics? ***

    Remember that a now deceased NF resident was jailed for three days, by the FBI, when he uttered his dissatisfaction with President Clinton , before a speech at Carleton.

    January 31, 2010
  132. David Ludescher said:

    Paul: Interesting article. It’s hard for me to believe that a man as smart as Dawkins could have such an intellectually stunted view of Christianity.

    February 1, 2010
  133. Obie Holmen said:

    The gentleman has a new blog entitled Interned in Northfield. Most of his posts are merely links to other conservative blogs, but he has attacked several of us there including Holly C, “Locally bought and paid for”, myself, and perhaps others.
    .-= (Obie Holmen is a blogger. See a recent post titled One Lutheran congregation votes to send withheld funds to ELCA) =-.

    February 1, 2010
  134. john george said:

    Obie- What is the actual link for “Interned in Northfield?” I Googled it, and got several referenced articles, but it wasn’t clear to me that I was on the actaul blog site. Thanks in advance.

    February 1, 2010
  135. john george said:

    Obie- Thanks again for the link. I haven’t been through everything on it yet, but your assessment seems correct- it is a bunch of links to conservative web sites. These seem quite common these days, both conservative and liberal. They aren’t a good source for objectively substantiating a position, IMO.

    February 1, 2010
  136. Kiffi Summa said:

    I think an important component of this discussion is the evaluating the difference in what a person says in one venue, as opposed to what they say in another.

    Example: a letter writer to the NFNews expresses a decidedly conservative, but not excessive response to a previous letter; then expresses a, IMO, excessively extreme, including incitement to violence, position on one of their blogs.

    What position is the ‘core’ belief? How are we to assess those two oppositional views… one within the realm of reality and the other, again IMO, outside of societal acceptability?

    Looking for some philosophical, ethically reasoned answers… not off -the-top-of-the-head rhetoric.
    Think about it…

    February 2, 2010
  137. Anthony Pierre said:

    usually what you do in a more private venue is what you really believe.

    February 2, 2010
  138. john george said:

    Anthony- Great observation. I agree. I heard a definition of humility one time. Humility is being willing to be known for who you are. This is covers both strengths and weaknesses. The person who is secure in his convictions can be the same in public or privacy. Another quip I heard is that the real test of a person’s character is what they do when they think no one is looking.

    February 2, 2010
  139. Kiffi Summa said:

    I can’t help but wonder what God thinks about Focus on the Family (organization) spending THREE MILLION DOLLARS on an anti-abortion commercial for the Superbowl…

    Will there be an earthquake if God concludes that there was a more helpful way to spend THREE MILLION DOLLARS focussing on helping families in need…

    Like maybe in Haiti?

    February 4, 2010
  140. Anthony Pierre said:

    it would be also neat of FotH would have said

    we are glad tebows mom had a choice.

    February 4, 2010
  141. john george said:

    What perhaps should be a greater concern is the billions of dollars spent over the last 3 decades killing babies out of convenience rather than necessity. Ps. 139:16 says, “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me,When as yet there was not one of them.” Murder is still murder (premeditated taking of a life for your OWN purposes), even if you call it choice.

    February 4, 2010
  142. Kiffi Summa said:

    John: you have repeatedly said that you respect differing opinions… but here you go again: “killing babies out of convenience rather than necessity” and “Murder is still murder…”
    When you phrase your opinions in that summary and accusatory manner, you are assuming you can walk in someone else’s moccasins, as the saying goes.
    This goes back to my comment , # 51…
    So no matter how often you say you are respectful of the opinions of others, I don’t see that respect borne out in your comments.

    February 4, 2010
  143. john george said:

    Kiffi- Respecting a person’s right to have and to express an opposing opinion is different than not using terms that offend. Neither of us has the right not to be offended by an opinion or the words used to express that opinion, as long as they are not libelous. Did you know that your use of “choice” to justify abortion is offensive to me and many others? You have the freedom to call it choice. I have the freedom to call it murder. I cannot control the words you use any more than you can control the words I use. I can only control my reaction to those words. And, I am not changing my vocabulary according to the venue I happen to be in. What you see is what you get.

    February 4, 2010
  144. David Ludescher said:

    Kiffi: Why don’t you ask him?

    February 4, 2010
  145. Kiffi Summa said:

    OK, Andy Rooney!

    February 4, 2010
  146. Kiffi Summa said:

    Will we see a billboard of the same nature, as has been discussed here, in Northfield?

    Would a billboard have more impact than the attendance of the “prayer ladies” at the City Council, and now , for the past two meetings, at the EDA?

    I understand completely the idea of praying for “good outcomes for the city of Northfield”… good outcomes in whose opinion?

    I would hope that any prayers for “good outcomes” for the EDA would get on task with getting the majority voters of that organization to focus on complying with the state statutes that must guide their process.

    February 11, 2010
  147. Obie Holmen said:


    I find the practice of the “prayer ladies” to be less an open ended appeal for undefined “good outcomes” than an attempt to influence the outcomes: manipulative, confrontational, and not just a little intimidating.

    And also unbiblical: “whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others…whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. Matt 6:5-6
    .-= (Obie Holmen is a blogger. See a recent post titled A Wretched Man novel release date set) =-.

    February 11, 2010
  148. David Ludescher said:

    Obie: Explain “manipulative, confrontational, and not just a little intimidating.” Who are they manipulating, confronting and intimidating?

    February 11, 2010
  149. Obie Holmen said:


    Interpret the words according to their plain and ordinary meaning.

    Those present to conduct business who are the object of the prayers.
    .-= (Obie Holmen is a blogger. See a recent post titled A Wretched Man novel release date set) =-.

    February 11, 2010
  150. Kiffi Summa said:

    It is already stated on the NFnews site, two hours after I made my comment #55, that Kiffi Summa “doesn’t want the prayer ladies at the EDA meetings any more”.

    Let me perfectly clear: I do not give a diddly d*** whether or not the prayer ladies want to get up for a 7:30 AM EDA meeting .
    I welcome as many people as can seeing the out-of- compliance -with -statutes EDA process, which is being enacted by the majority voting group.

    However, I would like them to be forthright enough to comment about what they consider “good outcomes”; that is still a ‘mystery'( and not a religious mystery) to most since they would not comment except in platitudes (“good outcomes”) during the whole “prayer lady” ‘controversy’.

    February 11, 2010
  151. Kiffi Summa said:

    Griff: maybe you can resuscitate a blended EDA and “PrayerLadies” thread that might be a more tightly associated subject than here with God and sin and natural disasters ?

    February 11, 2010
  152. Patrick Enders said:

    God, sin, natural disasters… and Prayer Ladies and EDA meetings.

    I tend to be more of a lumper than a splitter, but that grouping does make some sense to me.

    February 11, 2010
  153. Paul Zorn said:


    Does being a lumper and a regular, down-to-earth kind of guy make you a member of the lumpingproletariat?

    Seriously, I agree it’s time for a topic split. Like ’em or not, it’s hard to see the prayer ladies as a natural disaster.

    February 11, 2010
  154. Patrick Enders said:

    I thought the natural disaster part was the EDA meetings. I’d subcategorize the Ladies under the God part.

    February 11, 2010
  155. Patrick Enders said:

    “Marx refers to the lumpenproletariat as the ‘refuse of all classes,’ including ‘swindlers, confidence tricksters, brothel-keepers, rag-and-bone merchants, beggars, and other flotsam of society.'”

    Yes, I feel right at home.

    February 11, 2010
  156. Paul Zorn said:

    Count me in, too. Sounds like my kind of crowd, apart from those rag-and-bone merchants.

    February 11, 2010
  157. Kiffi Summa said:

    I will leave it to the king of the sandbox, i.e. Griff. to deal with the lumpenproletariat as he will…

    February 11, 2010
  158. john george said:

    “Good outcomes?” Whose term is that, and from what context or article are you quoting it? Your animosity toward any open intercession for the city governance puzzles me. If God is as distant, inert, and universally loving as you seem to portray Him, what fear do you have of someone intreating Him for favor in the city governance? I know I am treading out on thin ice here, in light of other discussions I have had with you, but my curiosity got the best of me.

    February 11, 2010
  159. john george said:

    Opps. I meant that post to be a continuance of the discussion in #60. Kiffi, I was addressing you with those questions. Sorry about the discontinuity.

    February 11, 2010
  160. john george said:

    Paul & Patrick- Lumpingproletariat? I’d feel down right honored to be considered in this group, also. Can I join?

    February 11, 2010
  161. john george said:

    Obie & Kiffi- The context of Matthew 6:5&6 speaks to the motivation of the hypocrites, “to be seen by men.” If you remeber correctly, the prayer ladies started out in a private place, but because of the outcry of some people, they were forced out into the open meetings. They have every right to be there, and, as far as I know, have never created a disturbance, unlike others I have heard of.

    Regarding your sense of intimidation by someone praying in secret but in a public meeting, I would suggest you look at this scripture-

    John 18:20
    “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret.”

    Also, the Great Commission says to go into all the world. The city governance organization I think fits that discription. These meetings are not being carried out on Mars. Christianity was never meant to be a hidden religion. It was meant to be a changed lifestyle lived openly in public, no matter what is said about it. Matthew 5:11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.”

    February 12, 2010
  162. Holly Cairns said:

    I made a mistake when I checked the box “notify me of the followup comments via e-mail.” can you fix it for me, Griff? No more comments via e-mail, thanks!

    Happy Friday, everyone. 🙂

    February 12, 2010
  163. Obie Holmen said:


    Certainly, the prayer ladies have the right to do what they do, but having a right doesn’t make it right.

    You are correct that the Matthew pericope criticizes public prayer as hypocritical and boastful. My point exactly. “Look at us, see how holy we are!”

    The preaching and evangelizing verses you cite are inapplicable to public prayer, or are you saying the purpose of the public spectacle of the prayer ladies is evangelization? If so, it is rather “in your face” and likely to be received as offensive and counterproductive. Do you seriously equate Jesus’ preaching and teaching in synagogues and the temple with the prayer ladies? Public meetings of secular bodies is hardly the same setting as a synagogue or the ancient Jerusalem temple.

    Since I’m new to Northfield and unaware of prior prayer ladies discussions, I cannot speak to your assertion that they were somehow forced out of private prayer into public. Yet, it strikes me as odd and raises questions of motivation that the ladies choose to become a public spectacle. Is God less likely to heed their prayers if done without public pomp and circumstance? The Matthew text suggests otherwise. Thus, the motivation behind the public spectacle must be suspect as boastful, manipulative, or ill-mannered and misguided evangelism.
    .-= (Obie Holmen is a blogger. See a recent post titled A Wretched Man novel release date set) =-.

    February 12, 2010
  164. Holly Cairns said:

    I’m still getting e-mails. No. More. E-mails. about church ladies and literalists and finger pointers and nice guys who really aren’t nice after all, but secretly condemning. It still is fun to read Locallygrown, though.
    .-= (Holly Cairns is a blogger. See a recent post titled John Marty Takes Rice County in Caucus Straw Poll) =-.

    February 12, 2010
  165. Kiffi Summa said:

    John: the literature from Transformation Northfield speaks of bringing” the sacred into the secular”.
    Fine, if that is the goal of the ‘public prayer sessions’ in city meetings. .. But you must understand that although you have a right to do that, it is considered to be an infraction of the INTENT of the separation of church and state.
    We must all live under that separation; it IS the law of the land.
    And it is disturbing to see the tactic spread.
    And given the Harvard University study on MegaChurches, and the focus described on the economics of a community, it is more disturbing to see it spread from the Council to the EDA.

    I FULLY support the right to be there; I also fully support the right to ‘call it out’ to public notice… and if you could bring yourself to be as fair as you profess to be… you would acknowledge my right to do just that.

    And there is no criticism implied in asking about wished for outcomes, or goals; I am curious about why that cannot be asked without being perceived to be an implied religious criticism? If it is a genuine hope, with no religiously framed intentions, then what is the problem with explaining what the transformative goals are?

    I think this is why Obie Holmen describes these actions as “manipulative, confrontational, and not just a little intimidating”.#55.1

    Herein lies the basic problem: when religious views creep into public policy and are called out, the hue and cry is always that someone’s religious views are being criticized.
    If you take your “sacred” views into the “secular” realm, as is stated on the homepage of Transformation Northfield, then you must also allow the ‘notice’ of that action.

    February 12, 2010
  166. john george said:

    Obie- What do you mean by this statement?

    “…but having a right doesn’t make it right.”

    Does this only apply to somone who would attend a public meeting to observe and privately pray about the proceedings? How does this differ from someone who chooses to sit at the front of the bus rather than the back?

    As far as the history behind the prayer ladies, there is a lengthy discussion on this blog from a couple years ago. Just cross reference it in the search engine.

    Also, your terms you use in this sentence

    “Thus, the motivation behind the public spectacle must be suspect as boastful, manipulative, or ill-mannered and misguided evangelism.”

    just simply do not fit the facts. Have you been to a meeting where they attend? If so, what have you observed to justify pronouncing this type of judgement upon their behavior?

    (Sorry about the quotation format. I still haven’t figured out how to do a block quote)

    February 12, 2010
  167. Obie Holmen said:


    I think the words speak for themselves and are oft-expressed in one form or another. Just because someone may have a legal right to perform a certain act doesn’t excuse bad behavior. Flatulence in a crowded elevator, for instance.

    What is their motivation? Why must they make a public spectacle of their prayer? What do they hope to accomplish by making it public rather than private?

    Do the prayer ladies have the right to do what they do? Of course, and all I’m saying is that I find their motivation suspect and their behavior noxious. Don’t begrudge my right to hold my nose.
    .-= (Obie Holmen is a blogger. See a recent post titled A Wretched Man novel release date set) =-.

    February 12, 2010
  168. john george said:

    Obie- You can hold your nose all you want. As to the motivations, why don’t you ask the ladies for yourself. They are very approachable and gracious. I would still like to know why you use the terms you use to describe their behavior in the meetings they attend. Those terms just are not accurate. Perhaps you are reacting on someone else’s opinion?

    February 12, 2010
  169. john george said:

    Kiffi- I really don’t want to take this up with you, but the INTENT of the opinion of the separation of church and state, voiced by Thomas Jefferson, was to assure a contemporary pastor that the new government would not come in and shut down his church because of what he preached. It was not to separate religion FROM the public domain. I think those who wield that sword of “separation” now have got the original intent twisted.

    February 12, 2010
  170. Obie Holmen said:


    I’m not sure how I be any clearer. The fact that the ladies choose to make a public spectacle of their prayer raises questions about their motivations. I say again, what do they hope to accomplish in public that they could not in private?

    Opinions expressed are solely mine. I’ve said my piece. I’m done.
    .-= (Obie Holmen is a blogger. See a recent post titled A Wretched Man novel release date set) =-.

    February 12, 2010
  171. john george said:

    Obie- Perhaps I am not understanding your terms. When you say they “…make a public spectacle of their prayer…”, that conjurs up images of of a ring of people sitting around beating a drum, or someone standing up with a mega-phone. How you would even know they are praying at all is not evident in their demeanor or actions. I feel your comments are more prejudicial opinions than actual observations. You are certainly entitled to those and to express them, but I reserve the right to call you on them, also.

    February 12, 2010
  172. Griff Wigley said:

    Holly, any blog post comment thread you’ve subscribed to via email has this phrase under the reply/comment box:

    You are the author of this entry. Manage subscriptions.

    Clicking on that “Manage subscriptions” link allows you to remove yourself.

    I’ve removed your email address from two posts for you.

    February 12, 2010
  173. Kiffi Summa said:

    John: If you don’t want to, what compels you to do so?
    and by the way , you did not answer any of my other questions… which of course I cannot compel you to do…
    Additionally, do you have a ‘channel’ to Thomas Jefferson and what he was anticipating in “contemporary” pastors and their possible problems with proselytizing?

    February 12, 2010
  174. john george said:

    Kiffi- Ok, I’ll try to answer your other questions. This first question,

    “If you don’t want to, what compels you to do so?”

    I guess I still have some hope that you have a desire to understand where I am coming from. My past experiences trying to discuss these issues with you have not been fruitful toward those ends. My feeling in some of our interactions is that you are more intent on belittling me and my beliefs than to try to understand. I know that may sound harsh, but that has been my perception. I still am looking for some indication that my perception is incorrect. In other words, I haven’t just written you off as some termagant.

    This one I am simply not understanding what you are asking.

    “…I am curious about why that cannot be asked without being perceived to be an implied religious criticism?”

    I’m sorry to be so dense, but I just don’t understand the question, and what exactly you are refering to. My perception of your reaction to the ladies praying in the meetings is two fold. First, it doesn’t appear the ladies fit your understanding of the scriptures. I have no problem with that. If we all had the same understanding of scriptures, there would not be the numerous denominations represented. My other perception is that I feel you are condemning the ladies for even attending the meetings to pray. You seem to insist that this is a violation of the separation clause. I just do not understand why you would interpret their actions this way unless you think they are on some diabolical mission to overthrow the city government. Both things seem to elicict emotional reactions and accusations of wrongdoing from you rather than any desire to tolerate our position. Just seems strange to me.

    I think this is the other question you are refering to-

    “what is the problem with explaining what the transformative goals are?”

    I guess it seems pretty clear to me what the goals are. Our desire is best expressed in I Timothy 2:3&4,

    “3This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
    4who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

    When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, one line says, “May Your Kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We insert “Northfield” where He said “earth”. Our desire is to see the Kingdom of God come in our own lives, our families and our city. The only ones who need be afraid of that transformation are those who have sided with the enemies of God, IMO. The question is not whether God is for us or against us. The question is, are we for God? Beyond that, I don’t know how to explain it. If I’m using terms in ways you do not understand, please let me know.

    As far as taking the Sacred into the secular, I’m glad you noticed. The Spirit of God must be at work.

    February 12, 2010
  175. john george said:

    Oops- I see one other question I missed, Kiffi,

    “…do you have a ‘channel’ to Thomas Jefferson…”?

    Actually, I do. It is called historical writings. They are readily available to read on the internet and at the library.

    February 12, 2010
  176. Kiffi Summa said:

    John: do you know the meaning of “termagant””???
    And are you ready to apologize?

    February 12, 2010
  177. Griff Wigley said:

    Dorothea Hrossowyc has a letter to the editor in today’s Nfld News:

    This seems to be the same philosophy as Pat Robertson, ie, earthquakes as God’s (Mother Earth’s) punishment for our lack of compassion:

    These times are calling to us to turn our hearts toward compassion. Twenty-five years ago I heard a Hopi elder teach that we human beings must turn our hearts toward compassion and beauty, that if we do not, the earth would see floods, storms, tornados, earthquakes, etc. to cleanse itself from our pollution, and to open human hearts toward that compassion and care. We have been lax in those directions of paying attention to the pollution of the earth, and the human suffering of the children, but we can listen and heed this indigenous intelligence.

    February 13, 2010
  178. john george said:

    Kiffi- I’m very aware of the meaning of termagant, and I have still not written you off as one. I don’t see that I have anything to appologize for.

    February 13, 2010
  179. john george said:

    Griff- That’s really interesting. Seems that the concept of judgement for destructive behavior is not just a Judeo-Christian concept. Maybe Paul knew what he was talking about in Romans 1:18-20

    18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
    19because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
    20For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

    February 13, 2010
  180. Kiffi Summa said:

    I hope everyone has read John’s comment, #61.5, in which he explains the Transformation Northfield initiative/goals.

    John: you say that in the words of the Bible, where it says: ” …your will be done on earth…”, TF substitutes “Northfield”.

    So you, who often state that you believe the Bible to be the literal word of God, feel free to take that word, and particularize it for yourself and yours. I.E., you have taken the wish for God’s beneficence for the earth, and asked that it be focussed on your ‘special’ community.
    I call that arrogance, if not greed.

    Then you say; “only ones who need to be afraid of that are the ones who have sided with the enemies of God”.
    Who would those enemies be identified as? Anyone who does not believe as you do? Other religions, those who have other deities or belief systems?
    I call that judgmental, if not threatening.
    Well, actually, I DO call that threatening.

    You say it is your duty to follow the Great Commission; but as I have pointed out to you before, you have forsaken the last half of the Great Commandment, which is the focus of what is to be spread by the Great Commission… and that is to ” …love thy neighbor as thyself”.

    So.. once again you have particularized the word of God to your own special use, and narrowed the benefaction of the message.

    P.S. would it also be possible for you to put a ‘penance’ on yourself, and speak from your own mind, rather than the references of your concordance, for , oh, … let’s say 30 days?

    February 14, 2010
  181. Paul Zorn said:

    John G:


    … the concept of judgement for destructive behavior is not just a Judeo-Christian concept. Maybe Paul knew what he was talking about in Romans 1:18-20 …

    Well, yes — the concept of judgement and retribution is part of every broad religious tradition I’ve ever heard of, from Hinduism to the Hopi teaching Dorothea H references.

    The idea that bad actions (environmental, societal, …) can have bad consequences is not, to my knowledge, controversial, and it’s certainly not what this discussion thread has tried to address. The live questions here, I think, are (i) whether bad events, like earthquakes, are in any useful sense brought on themselves by those afflicted; and (ii) whether God (or gods) have any role in causing or triggering such bad events, retributive or not.

    February 14, 2010
  182. john george said:

    Kiffi- First of all, personalizing the Scriptures accomplishes what is written in I John 2:14,

    “I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.”

    Note this phrase, “… the word of God abides in you…” When I say that I have a Biblical world view, I mean exactly that. As far as calling this “arrogance and greed,” that only shows your ignorance of any experience with God. What qualifies you to pronounce this type of judgement when you have no personal understanding or experience of God? This verse in James 2:19 fits right in with this concept,

    “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.”

    This exchange in Acts 19:15

    “And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” ”

    gives us some insight into the spirit world. I don’t have to go looking for those who are the enemies of God. They know about me.

    Regarding judgement, I Cor. 6:2 speaks into this,

    “Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts?”

    Also Heb 5:14 speaks into this,

    “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.”

    I don’t understand your charge against me of not loving my neighbor. You do not know what things I do demonstrating love for my neighbor, but my neighbors know. And you never will, unless they chose to tell you, because I adhere to the adminition to not let my right hand know what my left hand is doing when giving alms.

    Regarding your PS, the answer is NO! The reason is what I quoted above in I John 2:14. Aside from Him, I can do nothing.

    February 14, 2010
  183. john george said:

    Paul Z.- I think your statements of the original questions

    “…i) whether bad events, like earthquakes, are in any useful sense brought on themselves by those afflicted; and (ii) whether God (or gods) have any role in causing or triggering such bad events, retributive or not.”

    have been well discussed above. I still go back to the the verses in Luke 13:3-5 to gain some insight. I don’t think we have to know one way or the other whether God has any role in triggering these events to benefit from repenting of those wrongs we know we do. I don’t believe it is a magic tallisman, but it certainly improves our lives and those who have to live around us.

    This current discussion between Kiffi and I really needs to be over in the EDA thread, but I have no idea how to move it there. Griff?

    February 14, 2010
  184. Kiffi Summa said:

    Griff: I frankly think that the statements that John Made in 65.1 are far worse, far more insulting, than any sarcasm could possibly be.

    John: You have got one hell of a nerve saying I have no personal experience or understanding of God, and that I am ignorant of any religious experience. I was baptized, brought up, and confirmed in the Methodist Church; how I choose to express my religion now is none of your business to judge.
    You have shown yourself to be at the height of bigotry and arrogance; you should be ashamed to call yourself a man of religion.

    If you are so thickheaded as to think “love thy neighbor” is actually referring to thy explicit ‘neighbor’, rather than the whole of humanity.. well , John… I finally understand why you are so dependent on that concordance of yours.

    February 14, 2010
  185. john george said:

    Kiffi- I think your statement,

    “…how I choose to express my religion now is none of your business to judge.”

    speaks for itself.

    February 14, 2010
  186. john george said:

    Oh, and I think this discussion is ended.

    February 14, 2010
  187. Phil Poyner said:

    Well….so much for “Minnesota Nice”.

    February 14, 2010
  188. Griff Wigley said:

    I guess it’s best to halt this discussion until I get a chance to review it.

    February 14, 2010
  189. john george said:

    Griff- I didn’t think you had. No problem waiting for you. Take your time.

    February 19, 2010
  190. kiffi summa said:

    Take your time , Griff… Having just come from seeing Michael Haneke’s extraordinary film “the White Ribbon” and just having finished Hilary Mantel’s stunning novel of Thomas Cromwell, “Wolf Hall”, I have all the time in the world for the Renewal churches to drag down the Idea of the goodness of God , encompassing all his ‘children’ of the world, rather than any specific population… to drag down the Idea of the goodness of a God, to a meanness against a perceived minority, or indeed any group or singular person whose perception of ‘life’ may differ , and whose beliefs may pursue that question.

    February 21, 2010
  191. john george said:

    My comment in 61.5 still stands-

    “My feeling in some of our interactions is that you are more intent on belittling me and my beliefs than to try to understand.”

    February 21, 2010
  192. john george said:

    For those of you looking for God’s purposes in Haiti, take a look at this video clip and read the account.

    Two scriptures come to mind- when God moves, no one can prevent Him; and God works all things together for good for those who love Him and keep His commandments. Also, a third- God is not slack as some count slackness, but is longsuffering, not willing for any to perish but for all to come to repentence and the knowledge of the truth.

    And, for those of you who might be concerned, I don’t have to use my references for those scriptures. They are a part of me.

    March 2, 2010
  193. kiffi summa said:

    For those of you looking for God’s purposes in Haiti, please consider looking at some scientific truths rather than “supernatural truth”… i.e. the extremely rapid movement of the submerged oceanic plates both immediately above and below the equator…

    March 2, 2010
  194. john george said:

    Thanks for supporting Romans 8:28.

    March 3, 2010
  195. kiffi summa said:

    I think your concordance has failed you, John… You keep quoting verses that speak to exclusion, not inclusion , because of how YOU define god’s interest in people.
    I personally think you do your god a disservice by this misinterpretation…

    March 4, 2010
  196. kiffi summa said:

    Might we have somewhat of an “earthquake” in Northfield, or at least a minor tempest…

    I am wondering how “God” would respond to the idea of this: I heard a rumor that Rejoice Renewal Lutheran Church, which has bought the historic site of the Holy Cross Church in Dundas, is wanting to move the cemetery, because it does not suit them for those graves to be there…

    Is that possibly true?

    I thought that Church was a designated historic site. I thought that graveyards were respected sacred sites.

    I hope this is an unfounded piece of speculation, rather than fact.
    Can anyone from Dundas speak to this?

    March 4, 2010
  197. john george said:

    Christianity is NOT and never has been a universalist inclusive religion. Just as Islam, it is mutually exclusive to those who do not believe its tenets. If you believe, you are in. If you do not believe, you are not in. Just as Jesus said, many are called, but few are chosen. Also, narrow is the gate that leads to eternal life, but wide is the gate and broad is the path that leads to destruction. That balances out His desire that all men come to repentance and the knowledge of the truth. It is the difference between His desire and the reality of each individual’s choice. That is not my definition. It is His.

    And, my concordance serves me very well, but it is the prompting of the Holy Spirit that brings these verses to rememberance.

    March 4, 2010
  198. kiffi summa said:

    But John, you have said that not all who call themselves Christians are; that only those who are of a “renewal” frame of mind are, and you have stated what is required by YOU to be included in the Christian part of the world… and you have set YOUR rules as to who is a believer.

    Even the US government (re: the Census) allows self definition; as a matter of fact it is the ONLY definition they allow, by law.

    March 5, 2010
  199. David Ludescher said:

    John: I’m going to disagree. I think Paul says that Christ is for Jew and Gentile, master and slave, man and woman, etc.

    In the Catholic faith, creed is only one part of the faith. There are also sacramental, moral, and prayerful elements that compromise the pillars of faith. I think it is the Gospel of Matthew that says that the righteous will be separated from the wicked by how they have acted, not how they have believed, and that theifs and whores will make it to heaven before some others claiming to be faithful and pious.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church now even provides that atheists may have eternal salvation. So, I would say that proclamation is quite universalist.

    March 5, 2010
  200. Catholic means “universal”, does it not? When I grew up I was taught that we are all God’s children and that Jesus was like our brother, no matter what. And it’s just like here…if you don’t want to see the miracle of life you are, if you want to suck mud so to speak, you can, but you won’t see the morning sun, even if it is right before your eyes. Same with heaven. If you don’t claim it, then you can go elsewhere, but wherever you are God is there. So, no big deal about who can get in.

    It’s about what you want to do. God gives us free will. That’s what’s so nice about God. Not many people will allow you absolute free will once they know you exist.

    Now I can see if my new photo has followed me here and wave hello to my neighbors Griff and Robbie whom I have not seen for a long time!

    March 5, 2010
  201. john george said:

    David- This “proclamation” is Catholic, not necessarily scriptural. It does appear to be universalist. You can use the Catholic catacism as a standard to judge what things fit into the Catholic faith, but that is a relatively small percentage of the total Christian Church. I use the scripture as it is written to judge various philosophies, sects, etc. We each have to answer for how we each apply the scripture to our daily lives. That is why I refer to Christianity as a relationship with God. Take a look at John 1:12, Luke 8:12 and I Corinthians 1:21 for a few examples of how “believing” relates to “being saved.”.

    March 5, 2010
  202. john george said:

    Kiffi- See Matthew 7:20-23. I didn’t make the rules. He did. I choose to believe Him rather than men.

    March 6, 2010
  203. john george said:

    Bright- This is how Noah Webster defines “catholic”:

    catholic definition catho·lic (kat?h?? lik, kat?h?lik)


    1.of general scope or value; all-inclusive; universal
    2.broad in sympathies, tastes, or understanding; liberal
    3.of the Christian church as a whole; specif., of the ancient, undivided Christian church
    4.of the Christian church headed by the pope; Roman Catholic
    5.of any of the orthodox Christian churches, including the Roman, Greek Orthodox, Anglo-Catholic, etc., as distinguished from the Reformed or Protestant churches
    Etymology: ME catholik < L catholicus, universal, general (in LL(Ec) & ML, orthodox, Catholic) < Gr katholikos < kata-, down, completely + holos, whole: see holo-

    1.a member of the universal Christian church
    2.a member of any of the Catholic churches; esp., a Roman Catholic

    March 6, 2010
  204. kiffi summa said:

    John: re: your 69.1.4…. you are such a strict literal constructionist; If I were you, I’d be worrying… BIG TIME… about the word “iniquity” in your recommended Matthew 7:23.

    March 6, 2010
  205. john george said:

    If a person says he has no sin, he deceives himself and the truth is not in him.

    March 6, 2010
  206. kiffi summa said:

    So… does anyone care to respond to the ‘destruction’ of a historic site, Holy Cross Church in Dundas, and the possible moving of its cemetery?

    Is it true that memorial tablets in the sanctuary , purchased by families in memory of their family members, have been removed by the new owners of the property?

    March 6, 2010
  207. john george said:

    Kiffi- Are you a member of the former church or a member of Rejoice! that would put you in a position to affect what the new owners do with the property?

    March 6, 2010
  208. kiffi summa said:

    John : of course I cannot AFFECT what the “owners” do with the property…

    I think all owners of historic properties should be respectful of those properties that have a community history; I think that’s an INclusive, as opposed to EXclusive, precept of owning a historic property.

    As usual, IMO, you are dismissive of other’s history, as well as everything else about ‘others’.

    If there is a rational rationale for dismantling the history of that property, let’s hear it…

    March 6, 2010
  209. john george said:

    Kiffi- The church building is registered as a historic property. Any changes will go through the proper channels. That is what they are there for.

    March 6, 2010
  210. John, Who is Noah Webster? But really, I believe that a location is completely and absolutely to be preserved for historical purposes for future generations. Every religion, every martial art, every native peoples subscribe to the idea that the energy and vibration grow and become more powerful over time as energy of the same sort is put into it.

    If you are making a stew and use all the right ingredients, at the end of the cooking time, you are going to get one heck of a meal. But if you keep moving that pot around to all the neighbors’ and relatives’ houses, and put too many odd experimental food stuffs in there, you will get a bunch of people pushing their chairs away from the table and high tailing it over to KFC.

    I’m all for progress but not at the expense of blowing away the past, exclusive of the past where the culture is ready for all people to move away from oppression and hunger.

    Can I get a witness?

    March 6, 2010
  211. john george said:

    Bright- Noah was that little know brother of Mirriam’s who actually did most of the research on the dictionary, but went into obscurity without ever getting any credit. Actually, Noah was a late night typo from my overtired brain. Sorry.

    I’m not convinced of your stew analogy, aside from too many cooks ruining it. Christianity is not a part of a sum of total spiritual influences associated with a local.

    March 6, 2010
  212. Sorry, John and everyone, I somehow got myself on the wrong thread no. 75. I was talking about the church in Dundas, except for the reference to the terms universal and catholic.

    So far as this question is concerned, I don’t think that death is a punishment and I don’t think that injury is anything more than a chance to learn and experience life under different circumstances. Be like the dog.

    March 7, 2010
  213. Paul Zorn said:

    This thread has lain dormant for a while. Would that volcanoes and other natural and unnatural disasters had done the same.

    But the natural-disaster-as-God’s-punishment theme just won’t stay dead. An article in today’s Washington Post

    collects a variety of novel religious theories about the Eyjafjallajokull eruption, which has been linked to iniquities ranging from gay rights in Europe to (thanks, Rush L) health care law in America to British ads for tourism in Palestine to immodest female dress.

    No word yet on God’s role in the Louisiana coastal oil spill. (Rush Limbaugh seems to suspect headline-seeking environmentalists.)

    May 1, 2010
  214. William Siemers said:

    Paul…For the sake of focus, maybe we should stop calling this disaster an oil ‘spill’. It is a huge gushing underwater hydrant that can not be turned off. Latest estimate: 5000 barrels a day. But nobody really knows. It could be releasing much more oil. The Ixtoc 1 well spewed 30,000 barrels a day (for months) into the southern gulf when it blew. It is considered the second biggest ‘spill’ of all time (just under the gulf war. The BP well is much bigger, deeper, and harder to stop. And only 50 miles from our coast.

    This will be a catastrophe for the gulf coast and the entire nation. Locally Grown impact? The environmental impact effects us all. Some economic impact: lower prices for crops if ‘the river’ and other gulf ports are closed; higher prices for energy (and other goods) that can not be unloaded/refined at those same ports; right down to my wife’s son and her three nieces who will have to cancel their trip to our house on the alabama coast. That beach there will be covered with oil within days.

    Frankly I’m amazed that Obama is hosting the playful white house coorespondents dinner last night, while what could be the worst environmental disaster in the country’s history is developing right before our eyes…

    May 2, 2010
  215. john george said:

    Paul- Concerning the oil well rupture, I was reminded of this scripture in I Kings 8:32: “…condemning the wicked by bringing his way on his own head…” Now, it is not wicked to drill an oil well, by any means, but to not have some contingency plan for this type of event is whistling past the graveyard. IMO, this is a case where man’s own actions have caused his own judgement. God just sits back and watches. Now, if we could see some divine intervention in stopping this rupture…

    May 4, 2010
  216. kiffi summa said:

    Maybe the “Transformation” movement should take on the oil industry … as seen, a lot more destructive than Nf’s City Council or EDA …

    May 8, 2010
  217. john george said:

    Kiffi- I think we will stay with our original directions:

    ” Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.” Jer. 29:7

    May 8, 2010

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