Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Ray Comfort is...Evil...?

My own opinion of Ray is mostly that he's kind of a lame apologist, but that he seems like a decent enough guy. If the rumors that he has a robot monkey are true then his stock goes up accordingly. On the other hand, some guy named David J. Stewart thinks that Ray is actually leading people to their eternal torment in hell. Stewart runs Jesus-is-Savior.com, and he's concerned that Ray is emphasizing acts over faith, thus guaranteeing that Jesus is going to stomp a mudhole in Ray and all of his followers after the time comes.

Granted, this whole acts vs. faith thing (Phrased simply: Do you get into heaven by way of good deeds, pure faith in Jesus, or both?) is among the most boring non-schisms in modern Christianity, but Stewart has banged out several pages about it, including two articles about Ray. (Here and here.) To my way of thinking, it's akin to asking if a Lawful Good fighter can equip a Holy Avenger +5 sword even though he isn't a paladin*, but apparently some Christian thinkers are incredibly interested in this topic. I suppose it is meant to be a matter of heaven vs. eternal doom, but jeeze.

By the way, don't mistake me for agreeing with Stewart here. Jesus-Is-Savior.com is a fiery quasi-Protestant site that reiterates, more shrilly and largely without cartoons, most of the positions that Ray himself takes. I'm just interested to see how one sanctimonious guy paints another sanctimonious guy from the same religion as leading people headlong into hell. I've not seen Ray talk about Stewart at all, though I have every reason to believe that he's aware of him, since I mentioned him on Ray's blog this morning (though that post seems not to have made it through the moderation process for some reason...)

Anyway, it seemed worth a giggle to me. I'd love to see a response from Ray, but I doubt one is forthcoming.

*The answer is yes, but he only gets a +2 bonus on attack and damage and doesn't radiate Protection From Evil.

14 comments:

Jason said...

Someone did mention this to Ray a while ago, and Ray, in his usual dismissive manner, responded (read: shrugged it off).

Dave said:
"Hi Mr Comfort, congrat for all your work, but i think you have to read the text about you, i think maybe he got right about some stuff, maybe you did not know. So here the link, and i give you my adress, because i need an answer,because i'm a bit confuse about all your teaching, thank you to take the time to answer me.

Jesus our Savor

here the link:
http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Wolves/ray_comfort.htm"

Ray said:

"Dave...The brother is very confused. Repentance is not works. It is a gift from God (Acts 11:18, 2 Timothy 2:25). Without repentance there is no salvation. He maintains all a sinner need do is "believe." Then by his definition "belief" is works. Hope this helps."

And that's that, as far as I know.

Skippy said...

That's actually more of a position than he usually takes.

Heck, I've been asking him about Francis Collins for months and as far as I can tell he refuses to believe that the man exists.

Susan said...

There are many verses in the New Testiment that tells us to repent or we will perish and that we should forsake our sins or turn from them. I don't know what this guys problem is. Ray does not believe that salvation comes from only from repentance, but through repentance and faith together, which is biblical.

BTW-I'm glad that you read Ray's blog, Skippy, maybe you'll receive salvation one of these days. Just repent and believe(faith). That is my prayer for you.

And Ray is a decent guy. He is the real deal and not a fake. I have been out to his ministry and have supported his ministry because I know he is not a fake.

JAK said...

Skippy, this is the No True Scotsman fallacy writ large. What you've got here is each one pointing at the other saying, effectively, "No true Christian would do/say/think this!"

This points out a number of issues, but the overarching one is this:
There are literally thousands of strains of self-described Christian in the world, each one claiming that their strain is the true strain (or, at a minimum, more true than the others). What's the discriminator? (Commenter Susan brushed up against this one when she stated that she "knows" that Ray is not a fake. Not to pick on Susan, but how do you know?)

A related issue is that there are hundreds of different Bible translations out there, ranging from academic translations compiled from extant Hebrew and Greek mss to paraphrased self-help style translations like The Message. Which one is the true one? How do you know? Comparing any two will give you significant differences in wording, and significant differences in doctrinally significant areas.

The point here is that there isn't The Bible or The Christian Faith - there are, rather, many versions of each, and to claim one over the other is, at best, misguided.

(As an aside, I concur with you, Skippy, that Ray isn't much of an apologist. However, his failings in that area pale beside his failure to understand evolution.)

Skippy said...

I never accused Ray of being a fake, just making sucktastic arguments. I think he honestly believes most, if not all, of the weird things he spouts, but that doesn't make him right, it just makes him more heartfelt in his wrongness.

His Christian compassion is overwhelming too...even as I type this I'm reading his post about how all of the Jewish Holocaust victims went to hell for not worshiping the same God as him the right way. What a great guy...

JAK, I've noticed an awful lot of goal post moving about just what exactly counts as a Christian. It seems the definition is very broad when it comes to good things that have happened, but that it narrows considerably when attempts are made to hold the faith responsible for any of history's ills.

Garret said...

"even as I type this I'm reading his post about how all of the Jewish Holocaust victims went to hell for not worshiping the same God as him the right way. What a great guy..."

Its the God of the bible you hate, not Ray, He is just telling it as he (me too) sees it according to the bible. I don't see anyway around it- a person who rejects Jesus does not spend an eternity in Gods presence. John 3:16, John 14:6, John 10:9, Acts 4:11-12, Romans 10:9, 1 Timothy 2:5, 1 John 2:23, Acts 16:30-31, Luke 10:16, John 8:23-24.

Ray is just being true to the gospel, as he should.

"JAK, I've noticed an awful lot of goal post moving about just what exactly counts as a Christian. It seems the definition is very broad when it comes to good things that have happened, but that it narrows considerably when attempts are made to hold the faith responsible for any of history's ills."

Technically, you will have noticed, I myself always frame it carefully- a lot of evil has been done in the name of God, and in the name of Jesus- I have said this on your blog a few times. Ray and others mean the same thing as I do when I ascribe those evil actions as not being part of Christianity, but rather a human thing- where afterall in the bible are we believers told to go out and kill? You compared it to goal posts- well goal posts are established based on rules, BUT the goal posts you are talking about are not even in the game according to the rule book itself (the bible). of course the old covenant with its theocratic civil codes and regional conquering as judgement and delivery of the promised land are no longer valid, the bible is explicit in that.

Garret said...

Jak...
"What you've got here is each one pointing at the other saying, effectively, "No true Christian would do/say/think this!"

These positions can and should be biblically justified when talking about actions people who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. Btw, nobody can know what others are thinking.

"There are literally thousands of strains of self-described Christian in the world, each one claiming that their strain is the true strain (or, at a minimum, more true than the others). What's the discriminator? (Commenter Susan brushed up against this one when she stated that she "knows" that Ray is not a fake. Not to pick on Susan, but how do you know?)"

Most of the differences are based on VERY subtle differences- I can go portions of my life in a Baptist or Evangelical Covenant or four square church and never notice any real difference- they all preach the same gospel, but are different organizations. Biblical justification for beliefs is the discriminator- if you don't understand this Jak, then it is no wonder you are confused. It is the book of ultimate truths, but some concepts are very vague and debateable- the nature of freedom, how the end times are going to happen, tithes, the nature and method of baptism.

"Hebrew and Greek mss to paraphrased self-help style translations like The Message. Which one is the true one? How do you know? Comparing any two will give you significant differences in wording, and significant differences in doctrinally significant areas."

I use four in my bible study- your last sentence is incorrect, unless you are talking about Mormon, or JW bibles.
There are different types of translations-
Formal Equivalence, the most literal- NASB KJV NKJV RSV ESV
Functional Equivalence-
NIV TNIV NAB NJB
and heavily paraphrased
GNB NLT
Bible study should be done from formal equivalence translations, supplimented with functional and paraphrased.
This issue is not troubling in the least, pick three from the list one from each catagory and have at it. I don't recommend KJV unless you are an expert in old english- it is far too confusing.

" to claim one over the other is, at best, misguided."

A red car is a red car, to call it blue is absurd. To determine what bible is true and what church is true is not THAT simple, but it is not very HARD either. You seem to think that it is irrecoverably obscure- this is foolish. Just face it- you don't believe any of it, and that should be good enough for you. To try to claim that others can't determine these things is what is misguided.

They print the bibles in the original languages by the way, these languages can be learned and studied. The manuscripts are there to see also, so a person can see each variation with his own eyes. A person can study textual criticism, so they can be confident with the texts that we do have and their accuracy. And finally, multiple translations should be studied, and commentaries referred to in order to draw the meaning out of the text. Exegesis, hermanuetics need to be studied as well. A persons words and actions can be compared to the biblical text and found righteous or wanting to determine whether they are in line with what followers of Jesus Christ should be doing. If a person is having an affair with his neighbors wife, this is not Christian behavior- Jesus did not teach him that, but the opposite. If a man cusses up a storm and steals from his job, this is not Christian behavior-Jesus did not teach him that.
Do I need to do this with each example, or do you get the idea?
Those people can be saved, they can be followers of Jesus, though they are NOT living it out, and need to repent, i.e. to change their ways. It is not legitimate to say that the things they are doing (affair, stealing, cussing) is Christian behavior, BECAUSE Jesus did NOT tell them to do those things- they are being bad ambassadors of Christ.

JAK said...

Garret -

I'm not confused in the least, and I'm fairly well versed in the issues that you brought up.

Rather than hijack our host Skippy's blog, I'd like invite you over to IIDB (iidb.infidels.org) to participate there. The Biblical Criticism & History and General Religious Discussion forums have some very relevant ongoing discussions about matters like this, and new voices are always welcome.

By the way - I'm not an Atheist - I'm Catholic. Very liberal Catholic, bordering on Agnostic. Careful with those assumptions - you made several in your posts and really none of them were correct.

Garret said...

Hi Jak
okay I will check out the blog you mentioned, and sorry about any assumptions I have made.
Peace,
Garret

JAK said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Skippy said...

One quick note here - I never accused Ray of being theologically wrong about the Anne Frank in hell thing either. Frankly I think that, if anything, it bolsters my position if he's right.

That is to say, it's rather damaging to the claims of an omni-benevolent, loving God to say that he's also willing to gleefully deliver posthumous torture to, say, a 3 year-old Somalian child born with severe brain damage due to fetal malnutrition and who then died of cholera because of a lack of basic sanitation, all because he never "accepted Jesus as his lord and savior".

Again, that may be a biblically correct accounting of things, but it's also the work of a malevolent deity, not a kindly one. There's a reason most folks would recoil from Ray's statements about the Holocaust dead being cast into hell - they realize, without always articulating it, that he's describing a god worthy of fear rather than praise. If those are Christian values at work, you can have them all to yourself.

Garret said...

Hey Skippy!
"
That is to say, it's rather damaging to the claims of an omni-benevolent, loving God to say that he's also willing to gleefully deliver posthumous torture to, say, a 3 year-old Somalian child born with severe brain damage due to fetal malnutrition and who then died of cholera because of a lack of basic sanitation, all because he never "accepted Jesus as his lord and savior".

It is not that one does not have Jesus as one's savior, its the sins that one commits. The three year old is not mature enough to really know what he or she is doing is good or bad, so I tend to doubt that God would do anything other than show mercy there. It is very telling to me though that you portray God this way- pretty typical to frame it as a "so if I never hear the name Jesus and accept him I am going to hell" comment- wrong hearted- no- rather, you are going to heaven IF you never have commited any sins OR if you are a sinner, you are forgiven your sins if you accept Jesus as your savior and repent of your sins...

God should be feared as well, no doubt.


Have a safe and good trip Skippy- bag a sasquatch or a mothman and become famous!

Skippy said...

"It is not that one does not have Jesus as one's savior, its the sins that one commits. The three year old is not mature enough to really know what he or she is doing is good or bad, so I tend to doubt that God would do anything other than show mercy there."

What about original sin? Ray, among countless others, preaches that we're all hosed from the get-go unless we're born again and whatnot. Ergo, even a stillborn child would go to hell because he was never "saved". It's not any sin you committed, it's the big one that you supposedly inherited. (Maybe we should note that the empty-headedness and unpalatability of original sin when it comes to such things is what led the Catholics to make up Limbo.)

Garret said...

Hi Skippy...
Re your comment-"What about original sin? Ray, among countless others, preaches that we're all hosed from the get-go unless we're born again and whatnot."

That's correct, but I covered that with the end of what you quoted from me-"so I tend to doubt that God would do anything other than show mercy there."

The whole concept of redemption is one of mercy and grace. For a little child or a baby, the only form of mercy or grace to be shown is not one based on choices of the infant or child in their brief lives, but purely on God's mercy- why should I or anyone assume that mercy will not be shown to an infant who died? I don't see a biblical reason to assume the following- infant or child dies-off to hell or limbo. Between the child dieing and judgment stands God, and He alone is righteous to judge. I could not expect the same grace or mercy, as on top of original sin I have broken every one of the commandments at least in spirit, if not in action. Therefore, I need the work of the cross to cover my sins.
On original sin- the curse transformed mans nature- the WIKI article does a fairly good job of explaining that, though I only read the top several paragraphs. I tend to believe, and Ray would probably agree, that it is the sins we commit here that have us standing condemned rather than the fact ALONE that we have "original sin". Notice Rays ministry is based on using the ten commandments to show a person that they are sinners, rather than taking them to Genesis 3 and showing the fall of man and banishment from paradise. That is important to the understanding of our sin nature, but the true sense of our guilt comes from our own actions.

Thanks Skippy- Peace and Love!