Is fundamentalism destroying Christianity?

The great liberal Biblical Scholar James McGrath just wrote a nice post about this troubling question.

 

Biblical Literalism’s Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

David Hayward’s cartoon above illustrates the reason why I consider Biblical literalism to be an attack on Christianity, rather than an expression of faithfulness to it. No matter how much they insist otherwise, no one actually takes the Bible literally – not even all the bits that are “clearly” non-poetic.

But that doesn’t stop preachers from telling people they have a stark choice: either accept everything the Bible says, or toss the entire thing aside along with any faith, beliefs, and values they associate with it.

If that were indeed the choice that confronts us, then there would be no alternative to walking away, other than increasingly feigning faithfulness and consistency while hiding one’s hypocrisy.

Both options are detrimental to a healthy spiritual life.

But they aren’t the only options. Christianity flourished before it had a Bible, and when the collections of texts that Christians had could not be read by most of them. And even among those who could study and interpret the texts in question, what we see them doing with those texts is anything but literalism.

It is time to make clear to the world that the situation is not one of faithful Biblical literalists and then others who are compromising “sort of” Christians. If anything, the situation is one of progressives who are seeking to continue the dynamic interplay between tradition and novelty to which the Bible and the entire history of religion (not just Christianity) bears witness, and people who deceive the gullible into first believing, and then pretending, that they are being faithful in ways that they aren’t, at least not consistently.

But the above two options are not the only ones. There is an enormous range of others in between them and beyond them. While there are choices we sometimes need to make between two options, rarely are those two options the only ones.

Despite what fundamentalist preachers will tell you.

 

You can read my response just below.

Dear James,

words almost fail me to express my deep admiration for this wonderful post who expresses so many profound truths at the same time and in a seamless manner 🙂

I am convinced that fundamentalism (and more generally Conservative Evangelicalism) are destroying Christianity by leaving us no other choice than sacrificing our intellectual honesty or giving up our faith in Jesus altogether.

fundamentalist-Bible-david-hayward

I started blogging in order to contribute to show that this is a false dichotomy , that one can be an enlightened religious believer hoping in the God revealed in Jesus of Nazareth.

Conservative Evangelicals (CE) keep saying that progressive Christians pick and choose from the Bible in an irrational manner.

But as I have (hopefully) made it clear, THEY are the very ones who are guilty of this inconsistency.

There is nothing wrong about selectively approving good parts of a book you don’t view as inerrant, everyone (atheists, deists, pantheitst, Marxists…) do that all the time.

On the other hand, Conservative Evangelicals are constantly PLAYING DOWN the conflicting character of the different voices in the Bible and they themselves decide

– which texts they properly interpret
– which texts they necessarily have to distort because they contradict the former ones.

And they delude themselves into thinking that extraordinarily implausible harmonizations are acceptable if they are just logically possible.

I don’t hate or despise Conservative Evangelicals but think it is my duty to strongly oppose their positions, because they are really destroying our faith and are building a house of cards which is all too ready to collapse.

It is certainly no coincidence that a great number of militant atheist in America are former fundies who have never given up their bigoted mindset.

They have kept (to an important extent) the habit of thinking of the Bible as having ONLY ONE VOICE on moral issues, as the following dialogue with an anti-theist illustrates.

I think that the best apologetic strategy an enlightened Christian should take is :

recognizing that there really are Biblical atrocities attributed to God
showing that the Bible does NOT speak with one voice on most issues
– pointing out that the central message of Jesus was progressive .

I’m really looking forward to reading similar posts of yours 🙂

 

 

Von Luther, Hitler, und religiöser Verwirrung

English version.  Feel free to comment there!

Richard Weikart hat für Empörung gesorgt, nachdem er sein Buch “Von Darwin zu Hitler” veröffentlicht hat, wo er argumentiert, dass das darwinistische Konzept der natürlichen Selektion eine wichtige Rolle innerhalb der nationalsozialistischen Ideologie gespielt hat.

In dem gnadenlosen nordamerikanischen Kulturkrieg hat das zu zahlreichen hitzigen Debatten geführt, mit Menschen, die behaupten, dass der Nazismus eine natürliche Konsequenz von Darwis Ideen wäre, während andere Menschen behaupten, dass die Nazis den Darwinismus ablehnten und Heiden oder sogar Christen waren.

Ich glaube, dass die Wahrheit irgendwo zwischen diesen beiden Extremen liegt, aber dies wird das Thema eines zukünftigen Artikels sein.

Der mutmassliche darwinistische Ursprung der Holocaust gibt vielen konservativen Evangelikalen das Gefühl, dass sie im richtigen Lager sind, und dass die von ihnen bekämpften gottlosen Liberalen das Ende der Welt einbringen werden.

Dennoch werfen sie sehr selten einen Blick auf die Rolle des Gründers des Protestantismus in der Entwicklung des Antisemitismus.

Zurzeit von Luther hatte die römische katholische Kirche wirklich eine missbräuchliche Theologie in vielen Hinsichten und Luther dachte, dass er sehr hart zu arbeiten hatte, um seine Erlösung zu bekommen.

Ich glaube, dass seine Erfahrung von bedingungsloser Gnade und göttlicher Liebe echt war, aber dies führte ihn auch dazu, an die Lehre der Vorherbestimmung zu glauben, dass also Gott manche Menschen gewählt hat, an ihn zu glauben und gerettet zu werden, während er alle anderen zu einem Abstieg in die Hölle vorherbestimmt hat.

Luther hat versucht, die Juden zu bekehren und wurde ständig frustrierter, zu sehen, dass alle seine Bemühungen scheinbar umsonst waren.

Dies führte zu einem realen Hass, der in seinem Kunstwerk “Von den Juden und Ihren Lügen” zusammengefasst wurde.

Hier wurden aus der englischen Wikipedia die sieben Gesetze niedergeschrieben, die er ins Deutschland und vielleicht sogar anderswo einführen wollte:

  1. Jüdische Synagogen und Schulen sollten niedergebrannt werden, und die Ruinen sollten außer jeder Sichtweite weg gegraben werden.
  2. Von Juden besessene Häuser sollten auf die selbe Weise niedergerissen werden, während die Besitzer erzwungen werden sollten, in landwirtschaftlichen Gebäuden zu leben.
  3. Ihre religiöse Schriften sollten ihnen beschlag genommen werden.
  4. Rabbis sollte es untersagt sein, zu predigen, die Ungehorsam sollte mit einer Hinrichtung bestraft werden.
  5. Ein sicheres Verhalten auf den Strassen sollte für Juden abgeschafft werden.
  6. Wuchern sollte verboten werden, und all das jüdische Silber und Gold sollte entnommen werden und beiseite gespeichert.
  7. Die jüdische Bevölkerung sollte landwirtschaftlich versklavt werden.

In 1923 preiste Hitler Luther für seine Ideen, und nannte ihn den größten Geist, der “die Juden sah, wie wir heutzutage anfangen, sie zu sehen.”

Solche Schriften offenbaren uns viel über Luthers Herz. Es ist unmöglich, dies durch die Behauptung wegzueklären, er war “ein Mann seiner Zeit”.

Die Täufer lehnten die Gewalt völlig ab, und als sie grausame Verfolgungen eingingen haben sie am meisten darauf mit Liebe reagiert. Und mehr als tausend Jahre zuvor, war der Apostel Paulus auch frustriert, seine volksverwandten Juden nicht bekehrt zu haben, aber anstatt sie zu verfluchen, hat er Gott darum gebeten, er wäre selber verdammt, sodass sie errettet werden!

Kann man nun daraus schliessen, dass Luther wahrscheinlich kein Mann Gottes war, dass seine Erfahrungen und Glauben Betrügereien waren?

Ich denke es nicht.
Es ist wahr, dass der Hauptaspekt der Reformation  „Sola Scriptura“ anscheinend selbstwidersprüchlich ist.
Gott spricht autoritativ nur durch die Schriften, mit der Ausnahme des Tages wo die frühe Kirche sich entschloss, welche Bücher zum Kanon gehören und welche nicht.

Die Lehre von vielen progressiven römischen Katholiken, dass Gott zu uns durch die Tradition der Gläubiger über Jahrhunderte spricht, und dass die Bibel selbst eine solche Tradition ist, ist zumindest frei von Widersprüchen.

Aber ich denke, dass während dieser Period der Geschichte, ein großer Teil der Kirch eine missbräuchliche Theologie hatte, die Menschen dazu geführt hat, ihre Erlösung zu verdienen oder sogar zu kaufen. Ich glaube, dass nach seiner verzweifelten Einsicht, es war zu schwer  für ihn, Luther wirklich die Gnade und Liebe Gottes erfuhr.

Aber er hat dann frei gewählt, dem Hass und der Dunkelheit die Herrschaft über andere Teile seines Herzens zu geben.
Seine Doktrin, dass Gott manche Menschen zum Höllenfeuer vorherbestimmt hat, war zweifelsohne ein Gebiet, wo seine Gedanken völlig verdunkelt waren.

Aber dies wirft ein Problem auf: warum erlaubt Gott Menschen, Sachen über Ihn zu begreifen, während sie auch an gotteslästerischen Unsinne glaubten?

Ich begegne oft dem selben Problem in der Bibel, mit dem Buch der Psalmen, wo die Güte und Liebe auf eine wundervolle Weise gepriesen werden, aber wo Psalmisten auch Gott darum gebeten haben, die Köpfe der Kinder seines Feinds zu zerschmettern.

Und ich sehe das selbe Problem in meinem Leben: manchmal werde ich von der Liebe Gottes überwältigt, die ich auf meine Mitmenschen weiter giessen will, aber ich werde auch immer noch von meiner Selbstsucht und tiefsitzenden Befürchtungen angetrieben.

Ich glaube, dass Gott einem riesigen Risiko eingegangen ist, uns Freiheit zu geben, und dass eine totale Offenbarung von Ihm diese Freiheit erheblich verringern würde.

Ich glaube echt, dass Gott völlig fähig ist, für das dadurch verursachte Übel in der kommenden Welt zu kompensieren.

 

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Tribalism, love and God’s shameless ploy: a response to Cyngus and Valdobiade

A fellow called “Cyngus“ took me to task for having pointing out that influential evolutionary psychologists like Joshua Greene think, from an atheistic standpoint, that any objective morality is an illusion.

His response was very emotional and confused and I reproduced it here:

Dear Lothar,

Glad you mention Joshua Greene, he is a very smart guy and he discovered that the human brain is evolved for tribal life. The morals of a tribe applies inside the tribe, outside the tribe you can lie, kill and rape. Read your Bible, God condoned lack of morality of his chosen tribe, the Israelites, when it came to deal with other tribes.

God’s “objective morality” told his people to hate his enemies, then there came his beloved son “Jesus” who put his foot in the mouth of his father by saying: “love your enemies”. Isn’t that cute? But don’t fall for this trick, it is used to make the whole humanity be like one tribe under the same old crappy God. Don’t want to be in the “tribe” of God, then burn in hell.

Think about that: “Love your enemies”. In order to have enemies you have to hate, be hated or both. If you stop hating your enemies by saying that you love them, you have a chance to make them drop the guard. With their guard down you give them your love, if they don’t accept it, you send them in hell. Such a mischievous plan of “Jesus is love” could be thought only by the “tribe” of Christians.

Try to use your brains when you read the Bible. You quote a lot from Bible in your blog, but you don’t think, you just interpret it to serve your own Christian “denominated” tribe. You have no morals if your morals are to serve an immoral God.”

Since the whole comment reeks of rudeness, lack of respect and incoherence in thinking, I wanted to utterly ignore it.

But then another blogger called „Valdobiade„ came along and urged me to write a response, saying that:

I found the comment rough too, but the idea that seems true in the comment is that “love”, in Christian sense, is used to “divide and conquer”.

Many Christians denominations are understanding “love” in such a way that are put at odds with each other. You can even say that some Christians are enemies and they will love their “enemies” with the condition of the “love” as they interpret by their Christian denomination.

Another idea I found true, is that up to Jesus, God did not say to love the enemies but destroy them. However, even if Jesus said to love enemies, it did not change the fact that we become “enemies” by ignoring the “love”, thus those who don’t accept the “love” will be destroyed.

I don’t find this “love” being fair. Please make new post about this kind of “love”. I’d like to read your opinion.

Thanks.

There are many things I could go into here.

Glad you mention Joshua Greene, he is a very smart guy and he discovered that the human brain is evolved for tribal life. The morals of a tribe applies inside the tribe, outside the tribe you can lie, kill and rape.“

This is only one part of the story. Whilst it is clear that the inner demands of morality are stronger within our own tribe or in-group, we also dispose of a strong sense of empathy wich allows us to feel and understand the pain of all other human beings or for that matter sentient animals.

Read your Bible, God condoned lack of morality of his chosen tribe, the Israelites, when it came to deal with other tribes.“

Here Cyngus speaks like of a fundamentalist of THE whole Bible where God is consistently portrayed as a tribal deity and an evil monster.

But that’s demonstrably false. I view the Bible as a collection of human thoughts about God reflecting the worldview, fears and hopes of people at that time and I see there contradictory views on God’s morality, tribalism, exclusivism, forgiveness, sin and so on and so forth, as well documented by Thom Stark in his book „The Human Faces of God“.

Seeing the Old Testament as a consistent book containing only evil things is exactly the way Nazi theologians interpreted it during the Third Reich.

.

God’s “objective morality” told his people to hate his enemies, then there came his beloved son “Jesus” who put his foot in the mouth of his father by saying: “love your enemies”. Isn’t that cute? But don’t fall for this trick, it is used to make the whole humanity be like one tribe under the same old crappy God.“

This emotional outburst is certainly very efficient rhetorically, but rationally I fear it rings rather hollow. Actually, it’s even hard to understand what the argument is supposed to be.

“ When God teaches us to love our enemies, it is a shameless ploy so that he will impose His dictatorship upon all of us.“

Really? Would he need to teach us love in order to become our absolute tyrant? Is it not a much more likely explanation that Jesus was moved by genuine compassion transcending tribalism as he taught that?

At the very least Cyngus and his fellow antitheists have the burden of proof to show why Jesus was being manipulative as he uttered such statements.

Don’t want to be in the “tribe” of God, then burn in hell.“

I completely reject hell as being a place of eternal suffering.

That said, I believe that God created us as free beings and that he won’t force anyone to get to heaven if she does not truly desires Him and even believes that live is more meaningful if it is limited in time.

Think about that: “Love your enemies”. In order to have enemies you have to hate, be hated or both. If you stop hating your enemies by saying that you love them, you have a chance to make them drop the guard. With their guard down you give them your love, if they don’t accept it, you send them in hell. Such a mischievous plan of “Jesus is love” could be thought only by the “tribe” of Christians.“

Given my conception of hell, I don’t feel threatened at all by this new outburst.

Try to use your brains when you read the Bible. You quote a lot from Bible in your blog, but you don’t think, you just interpret it to serve your own Christian “denominated” tribe.“

I view the Bible as a collection of religious texts, similar in its nature to books from many religious traditions. I analyse it critically and see both truths and errors within its pages and I quote it in the same way I quote Christian authors such as C.S Lewis or John Wesley or even Muslim authors.

Cyngus has just written an unproven assertion about my person.

Since he knows almost nothing about me, this leads to the strong suscpicion I think of himeself as possesing some extra-sensory perceptions (I should probably contact the CSICOP to investigate his case.)

You have no morals if your morals are to serve an immoral God.”

I agree there are many religious persons who do that and I constantly criticize them on my blog for that sin. I will quote C.S. Lewis here:

„The ultimate question is whether the doctrine of the goodness of God or that of the inerrancy of Scriptures is to prevail when they conflict. I think the doctrine of the goodness of God is the more certain of the two. Indeed, only that doctrine renders this worship of Him obligatory or even permissible. „

Frankly speaking there are quite a few atheists I love to read and feel challenged by, but Cyngus and all bullying village antitheists don’t belong to them.

Now back to „ Valdobiade“

I found the comment rough too, but the idea that seems true in the comment is that “love”, in Christian sense, is used to “divide and conquer”.

Many Christians denominations are understanding “love” in such a way that are put at odds with each other. You can even say that some Christians are enemies and they will love their “enemies” with the condition of the “love” as they interpret by their Christian denomination.“

Actually almost all modern Christian denominations agree that you not only have to love (in an intutively human sense) the people in other Christian groups but in non-Christian movements as well.

Another idea I found true, is that up to Jesus, God did not say to love the enemies but destroy them.“

No, as mentioned above you will find both conflicting trends within the pages of the OT, and of other Near-Eastern religious texts, or about Zeus in the Greek mythology for that matter.

However, even if Jesus said to love enemies, it did not change the fact that we become “enemies” by ignoring the “love”, thus those who don’t accept the “love” will be destroyed.

I don’t find this “love” being fair. Please make new post about this kind of “love”. I’d like to read your opinion.

Thanks.“

https://i2.wp.com/patrickwanis.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2007/09/Why-people-reject-love1-199x300.jpg

I don’t want to give the impression this is an easy question for any Christian. According to my view, hell is not a place of eternal torment but the utter disappearance of persons not desiring to live eternally with God. God does want them to be saved, but if they refuse He is not going to violate their will. God’s Love always respects the decision of its object but wishes to offer him or her eternal bliss.

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Moral Indignation and Divine Genocides

Deutsche Version: Moralische Entrüstung und göttliche Genozide.

armenian-genocide-02-jpg

I had an interesting email exchange with Andy, a confessing atheist from Northrhine-Westphalia.

We’ve mainly discussed about metaethic but in this post I want to go into specific things he wrote about the genocides mentioned in the Bible.

“If you look at some of the justifications for the genocides within the Old Testament, like those from fundamentalist Christians like Paul Copan, then you find exactly the same justifications as those that the Nazis had.

Copan says that the foes of the Israelites were completely wicked, that not even one of them was not wicked, that the Israelites *had to* kill them because otherwise they would be killed etc.

 And exactly like the Nazis lied about the Jews, I am sure that the Old Testament lies about the Canaanites. It is easy to show this for the Nazi lies but it is harder to demonstrate it for the Old Testament because we have no other source than that of the perpetrators (try to figure out the situation if the Nazis had won World War 2, we would read everywhere that the Nazis had helped the world because the Jews are completely wicked and would have planted the seeds of our destruction and so on and so forth.)

I am extremely thankful to Andy for having given me his opinion in such a way for it raises many interesting questions.

Atrocities in the book of Joshua

In the books of Joshua and Samuel it is reported that God ordered  Israelite soldiers to annihilate an entire people whereby it was expressively said that women, children and old men should also be killed.

039_Land_Of_Canaan1

Now there are several possibilities:

1) the literal interpretation of our European Bibles is correct and historical and

1.a) God has really organized a bloodshed

1.b) God didn’t want that at all. Actually the ancient Israelites projected their murderous nationalism on Him.

2)  the literal interpretation of our European Bibles is wrong, we should view the extermination order as a complete military defeat of the enemies

3) the conquest of Canaan and the related genocides actually never occurred. The books attributed to Moses and Joshua were written only much later on by several unknown authors

3.a) the authors really thought that the genocides happened and approved of them. However they employed many false data and oral traditions.

3.b) the authors wanted to write down a mythological or symbolic history of their origins and had absolutely not the intention to be careful historians

There are probably also other possibilities I did not envisage.

Strategies of conservative Evangelicals and fundamentalists

I would not describe Paul Copan as a fundamentalist but as a conservative Evangelical who wants to defend the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy. He told me that he views such commands as not good but terrible, but that they had to be carried out owing to the dire circumstances.

Since he also doesn’t want to give up his faith in the goodness of God he has mainly tried in his book to defend 2).

I think he is right that the reported extermination orders in the Ancient Near East could be sometimes hyperbolic or symbolic. That said, there are many cases where we can assume that they were meant seriously, as Thom Stark described in his book.

In this context, I find it really remarkable that Copan’s response only included 4 pages whereas Stark’s book includes several hundreds of pages and that he no longer interacted with him and his book after that.

I strongly doubt that this only lies in the aggressive and disrespectful tone of Thom Stark in the first version of his book. Afterwards he apologized for his rudeness.

Since Copan is aware that 2) could be dubious, he also wrote that a divinely ordered genocide could have been actually justified.

The most popular Evangelical apologist William Lane Craig has also tried several times to whitewash the genocides and I went into his last attempt.

But now one must also consider the fact that the conquest of Canaan is actually historically extremely unlikely and that the massacres written in the Bible never occurred.

Frankly speaking, I don’t know if 3a) or 3b) is true. Maybe the authors truly wanted to document the historical origins of their people but were mistaken.

But it is also possible that the authors intended to write a symbolic tale which was later misinterpreted as being historical.

In both cases I believe these are human and culturally conditioned thoughts about God and I see the canonical Biblical books in the same way I see books outside the Canon.

And Biblical authors can be wrong in the same manner that modern Christian writers make mistakes.

The foundation of my faith is God’s perfection which should always be the norm according to which each religious text has to be evaluated.

And now I want to describe how a healthy moral indignation concerning such texts should look like.

Evangelicals have a strong tendency to only consider the nice pages of the Bible whereas they ignore or explain away the odious texts.

And they then say: the Bible depicts us in a consistent way God as being perfectly good.

This is undoubtedly a kind of self-deception.

But militant atheists make the very same mistake when they assert that the Bible depicts us in a consistent manner a God who is a moral monster.

As Thom Stark described in his book “The Human Faces of God“, the different Biblical authors had not by any mean the same conception of God with respect to his moral nature.

If 1a) or 3a) are true,  then there is a great contrast between the order not to spare any living thing in Canaanite cities and the preaching of the prophet Ezechiel that children are never punished for the sins of their parents.

Now I have the following advice for intellectually honest atheists:

instead of asserting that “the God of the Old Testament is a psychopathic monster” it would be better to say what follows:

“The Old Testament shows us contradictory portraits of God. In some passages he is described as being compassionate and loving whereas in other texts he is depicted as being a psychopathic monster.

This shows us that Judaism, Christianity and Islam cannot be revealed religions for one cannot deduce a portrait of God free of contradictions out of them. “

This would be much more honest and efficacious than the assertion that the whole Old Testament is wicked for this can be easily refuted.

 

 

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On Luther, Hitler and Religious Confusion

Deutsche Version

Richard Weikart created quite a stir after he published his book „From Darwin to Hitler“ where he argued that the Darwinian concept of natural selection played an important role in the national socialist ideology.

In the raging north American culture war, this gave rise to countless heated debates, with people saying at one extreme that Nazism was a natural consequence of Darwin’s ideas and other people asserting that Nazis rejected Darwinism and were heatens or even Christians.

I believe that the truth lies somewhere between these two extremes, but this will be the subject of a future article.

The (alleged) Darwinian origins of the Holocaust gives quite a few conservative Evangelicals the feeling that they’re in the right camp, and that the godless liberals they’re opposing will bring the word to oblivion.

However, they very seldom take a closer look at the role the founder of Protestantism played in the developement of antisemitism.

At the time of Luther, the Roman Catholic Church had really an abusive theology in many respects, and Luther thought he had to work very hard to earn his salvation.

I believe that his experience of unconditional grace and divine love was a genuine one, but this also led him to believe in the doctrine of predetermination (Vorherbestimmung), that God chose certain people to believe in Him and get saved while predetermining the others to head to hell.

Luther tried to convert the Jews and became increasingly frustrated all his efforts were apparently vain.

This leads to a real hatred which is summed up in his infamous book „On the Jews and their Lies.“

Here I’ve copied the good English summary of the seven laws he wanted to introduce in Germany and perhaps even elsewhere:

    1. for Jewish synagogues and schools to be burned to the ground, and the remnants buried out of sight;
    2. for houses owned by Jews to be likewise razed, and the owners made to live in agricultural outbuildings;
    3. for their religious writings to be taken away;
    4. for rabbis to be forbidden to preach, and to be executed if they do;
    5. for safe conduct on the roads to be abolished for Jews;
    6. for usury to be prohibited, and for all silver and gold to be removed and “put aside for safekeeping”;
    7.  for the Jewish population to be put to work as agricultural slave laborers.[4]

In 1923 Hitler praised Luther for his ideas, and called him the greatest German mind, who “saw the Jew as we today are starting to see him.”

Such writings reveals us quite a bit about Luther’s heart. It is impossible to explain this away by just saying he was a „man of his time“. The Anabaptist utterly rejected violence, and as they underwent gruesome persecutions they most often reacted with love. And more than one thousand years ago, the Apostle Paul was also frustrated not to have converted his fellow Jews  but instead of cursing them, he prayed to God he would be damned so that they would be saved!

Can we conclude that Luther wasn’t probably a man of God, that his experiences and faith were fake?

I don’t think so. It is true that the main aspect of the reformation „Sola Scriptura“ doesn’t seem to be coherent. God only speaks authoratively through Scripture, except the day the early Church decided which books belong to the Canon and which not.
The doctrine of many progressive Roman Catholics that God speaks to us through the tradition of believers over the centuries, and the Bible itself is such a tradition, is at the very least self-consistent.

But I do think that during this period in history, a great part of the Church had an abusive theology leading people to earn or even buy their salvation. I believe that after his desperate realization he was not up to the task, Luther really experienced the grace and love of God.

But he freely chose to let hatred and darkness dominate other parts of his heart. His teaching that God predetermined certain persons to be hell-bound was certainly one area where his thoughts were completely darkened.

But this raises a problem: why does God allow people to get things right about him while also believing blasphemous non-senses?

I often encounter the same problem in the Bible, with the book of the Psalms where the goodness and bounty of God are praised in a wonderful way, but where psalmists also prayed God to crush the head of their enemy’s children against rocks.

And I see the same problem in my life: sometimes I am overwhelmed by the love of God which I try to pour on my fellow humans, but I am also still driven by my selfishness and deep-seated fears.

I believe that God took an enormous risk by granting us freedom, and that a total revelation of Himself would considerably reduce this liberty.

I do believe that God is completely  able to compensate for the evil caused by this in the world to come.

 

 

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