The Sharpe Logs

Kathi:Well Rich … I told my friends. Woke up with it on my heart to do it this morning. <smile> Thanks for those articles you sent yesterday …

RichTatum: :-) My pleasure! How'd it go?

Kathi: I sent an email … most of them are not local either due to them being online and that's how I know them, or my move a couple years ago. No replies yet. We'll see what happens. But I feel better, having done it.

RichTatum: :-) Hang in there. How much did you tell them in your email?

Kathi: I am. I'm going to talk to the pastor tonight about "where to go from here" and my son. Want to read it? I can forward it to you.

RichTatum: Excellent! Sure, pass it along, I'd be happy to see it.

Kathi: hang on..what email address do you want me to send it to … rich.tatum (at) tatumweb (dot) com , or something else?

RichTatum: Send it to rich.tatum (at) tatumweb (dot) com or rich I'll get it either way. The first is my personal account, the latter my work account.

Kathi: Just sent it

RichTatum: Groovy.

Kathi: I told them basically everything, but changed the tone quite a bit. I had my buddy Gid edit it … he's one of the ones who thinks I'm crazy, but he's slowly coming to accept what's happening … I think … and I value his opinion, even if I don't always agree with it.

RichTatum: :: Chuckle :: that's clever."Here, edit my testimony! "I like that.

Kathi: <grin> He'd already heard most of it … but I wanted his opinion on how he'd react if I'd sent it to him. He had some valuable insights on how to say things. Besides, we edit each other's work writing all the time … so it wasn't too … unusual … :-) <grin> I had a dream last night that I have to convince my boss that he needs to turn to God … I may send this to him ;-)

RichTatum: Wow, you're a regular John the Revelator with all your dreams! Do you ever sleep?

Kathi: Not in 3 weeks, I haven't … except for between the first two dreams. But I'm not tired, I wake refreshed …

RichTatum: [reading … ] Wow. That was an amazing email. You have a good way with testimonies. I'll be interested in knowing what your friends reactions are ….

Kathi: I'll let you know …

RichTatum: Thanx.

Kathi: I'm expecting the worst and praying for the best.

RichTatum: Can I share this email with a few friends? It's a powerful testimony of a changed life. We're all very proud of you here.

Kathi: My reference to "I'm not John Gibson" … there was a man, years ago, who ran the Pagan forum on AOL (which is what I just resigned from, also mentioned in there). John converted from being Pagan to Catholicism and wreaked havoc by going around telling everyone, to the point of being obnoxious. Of course … Rich, if that email will strengthen one person's faith, or lead someone to God, even if they're not my friend yet … absolutely, tell anyone that will listen.

RichTatum: I appreciate it. Yeah, I figured John Gibson must have been a radical convert that everyone knew about or had been offended by. It's break time — and someone brought ice-cream bars today … !

Kathi: Yes … he was a radical convert. I would like to contact him, but can't find a working email address … to tell him that now, finally, I understand. ;-)ice cream!!! I want some!

RichTatum: Here you go … :: splat ! ::That was pistachio.

Kathi: ROFL :P

RichTatum: By the way, did my advice for Lyris HTML ever really work? :-)

Kathi: Mostly! I'm trying to work out a way to make it simpler for the people who run the lists … a couple of them had never heard of HTML before this <sigh> So telling them to edit it … forget it! LOL! but it DOES work, just like you said.

RichTatum: Boy am I glad. I'd hate to be featured in your testimony as an answer to prayer … but be WRONG !

Kathi: ROFLThat's too funny … I'm sorry, I thought I'd told you and thanked you before I left for vacation!

RichTatum: Well, I guess I just got a little nervous. I needed to be reminded.:: whew! :: … Okay, I'm off for I Scream.

Kathi: {{{{{{{{{{{{{Rich}}}}}}}}}}}}} man o man! I did want to ask you … you can tell me later … why did you answer that letter then? It had been sent a long time before.

RichTatum: Hey, I'm here. Why did I answer that letter when I did? Well, let's see …

Kathi: yeah …. it came out of the blue … ;-) I was curious if you had any idea that God was using you "at that moment".

RichTatum: I get at least 100-200 combined emails every day — both at my personal account and my work account. I'm subscribed to at least 40 listservs, and some of them are discussion lists, some of which can generate 50-100 emails a day by themselves. So, in this situation, here I am with Microsoft Outlook set to filter incoming listserv messages into their own special folders, as they hit my inbox.

Kathi: uh-huh, I can empathize with mail overload <grin>

RichTatum: I'd been neglecting the Lyris Discussion list for about three months because my job responsibilities have changed. I'm still the "point man" for Lyris, but I've delegated the management of our specific lists to other people in-house. And, since we don't yet have a server running in-house, I really didn't need to monitor all the discussion. Besides, I'm not the sysadmin, and a lot of it went over my head anyhow.

Kathi: I wish I could get to that point.

RichTatum: (It took management changing my job responsibilities, and me kicking and screaming, to get me to that point! I don't delegate well.) Anyways, that day I noticed that I had something like 2-3,000 unread pieces of mail in the Lyris Discussion folder.

Kathi: :::blink:::

RichTatum: And, while I'm as lazy as the next guy, I realized that I needed to clean things out. Yeah. ::blink:: So, I sorted everything by discussion thread or subject thread and if the topic or subject line didn't interest me, I blew it away. :: Wham! :: « Blam! » :: Delete All! ::

Kathi: Sounds like me, returning from vacation <g>

RichTatum: :-) Well, your subject line came through very plainly: "HTML question." Which caught my attention, because that I know about. Perl scripts, CGI, environment variables, databases, Fox Pro, yada, yada, yada — I'm ignorant. But HTML, now, that's another story …

Kathi: :::nodding:::

RichTatum: And, as it happened yours was within my grasp. Not only that, I'd actually already answered this exact question previously. On another list.

Kathi: Wild!

RichTatum: And then I saw the tech supports answer to you: "Since this sounds like a problem with AOL, you might try asking them what they recommend for their mac users." Which just p***ed me off, on your behalf..

Kathi: I won't repeat, ever, a single word I said that day :-)

RichTatum: LOL …. I remember thinking that if anybody had answered your question at all, I wasn't going to bother, because I was really busy. So, I flagged your email, and went on deleting uninteresting threads. :: snip :: « delete » … And, so there I was at 4:00 with a nearly empty Lyris Discussion folder and one flagged email with only one reply from a witless Lyris tech. So, I went rooting around in my old email archives … I had answered this same question on 3/24/00. To the very same listserv.

Kathi: Before we bought Lyris, here.

RichTatum: So … it was easy to find, and reformat, and modify slightly to fit your situation, and viola! , five minutes later, I sent my email along. Of course, Lyris waited until 6:30 to pass it along to the list. I don't know which you saw first, the email I sent to the list or the one I CCd to your AOL account. [Note: See also this follow-up email …  — Rich.]

Kathi: I don't remember … I think the one to my AOL account. That's the one I saved … I get everything else as a digest.

RichTatum: Makes sense. Funny thing, the same Lyris tech who couldn't answer your question before (Wendy) wrote: "Would you mind if I put it in our tech-support database so I could refer people to it more easily in the future?"

Kathi: I couldn't live without em for most of my lists. When I'm ready to deal with them, they're all there, organized and in order.

I saw that …

RichTatum: LOL.

Kathi: I had to deal with her to get the site/topic bug fixed. I finally gave up on that issue :-)

RichTatum: Now, as to the other part of your question, I didn't feel unusually compelled to answer your question, except that I knew I had your answer and felt very eager to answer it.

Kathi: hmmmm

RichTatum: And I felt an urgency to put it off no longer because I actually do think I saw your email the first time on June 19, when you originally sent it.
RichTatum: I didn't answer it then, because I was busy, and I remembered it later when I saw it again on 7/25.

Kathi: Well, I'm a firm believer now, that there's no such thing as coincidence.
Kathi: :::nodding:::

RichTatum: I felt very bad, after I realized the huge time lag, that nobody had answered your question, and that I had put it off for so long, but in a way I'm glad I did forget about you for a whole month!

Kathi: You want to know what's funny? If I'd gotten mail from you back then, my first thought would have been, "christianity online … somebody's gonna proselytize at me" … before I even opened it. Seriously.

RichTatum: I can imagine. Weird.

After we IMd that one day, my wife asked me "So, how does all this make you feel?" I told her, "Well, it's weird, because Jesus said 'Some sow, some water, and some reap'" (in reference to the task of witnessing and introducing people to the Lord)."I know I didn't do any sowing today, I think I might've helped water, but I get the feeling Kathi was making an actual decision and commitment through my conversation with her. So, in a sense, I was involved in the 'reaping' part this time."

Kathi: Rich, I honestly don't think I could have made that leap without that talk. I can't express thanks enough … seriously.

RichTatum: "And, I gotta say, given the circumstances I feel very humbled. As much as I want God to use me, I always think it's going to be an intentional thing where God says 'Do this thing,' and I say 'Yes Lord!' Instead, here I am responding to some divine timetable without even knowing it, but unwittingly responding to God's nudges."

Kathi: :::shivers:::

RichTatum: "It's humbling because I realize God's plans are so unknowable, and it's humbling because just a moment's disobedience to God's nudging would've left Kathi out in the cold." And that was kind of scary. I was very glad that I gave in to those compassionate urges to answer your question!

Well, I'm glad I was there to help "midwife" you into a new life!

Kathi: me too :-) So what do folks at your work think of all this? I prolly ought to shut up and let you DO some work <grin> I've been bugging you for days. I'm sorry!

RichTatum: I may update everybody some more at devotions tomorrow, but the two or three that I keep updated on your situation are very excited for you, and very in awe of God's handiwork. :-)

I can't spend a lot of time IMing over many days, but occasionally doesn't hurt.

Kathi: Same here … my work goes in fits and spurts this week, due to launching a major website last week. I fight fire, put it out, wait til the next one.

RichTatum: One of my coworkers has kept your testimony and your letter to your friends to use as sermon fodder some day (he's an ex-youth pastor). He's deeply impressed with how gutsy you are! :-) He read your letter to your friends and said, "Man, she has some guts !"

Stories like yours are very exciting for 2nd and 3rd generation Christians who have no memory of not being a Christian because they grew up in church.

Kathi: Why's he say that? That I'm gutsy …

RichTatum: Because it takes guts to face the fear and speak the truth in love. Meaning, he admires your courage.

Kathi: I hadn't thought of myself that way …

RichTatum: True heroes never do! It's only the cowards who seek fame that think themselves brave. (I could write fortune cookies! Look at me! Wheee!)

Kathi: I have such an inherent sense of "rightness" … does that make sense? …

RichTatum: Yes. Especially since you're a new convert. The contrast between your new life and your new values is very evident against the old background.

Kathi: :::nodding:::

RichTatum: In some ways it's easier to be discerning as a new believer than as you get older.

Kathi: say more?

RichTatum: Someone said once that new believers hear "God's voice" so easily because he practically had to shout to get your attention in the first place. But as you grow older, God speaks to you in a gentler, quieter voice. And you're expected to listen harder. As a case in point, I guess, is my unwitting obedience in answering your email question.

Kathi: ahhhh that makes sense. No more two-by-four needed.

RichTatum: :-) Also, there is a sense in which younger Christians have special needs in terms of "right" and "wrong."the Apostle Paul (remember Saul?) talks in Romans 12 and 13 about "the weaker brother" and many think he's referring to young Christians. Specifically young converts to Christianity from Judaism or paganism. In Paul's time at Rome there were many gods. The Romans worshipped so many gods and were so paranoid about appeasing all the gods that they even set up a temple dedicated to the "unknown" god — just in case.

Kathi: sounds like the Egyptians. I can relate.

RichTatum: Many of their rituals involved sacrifices of meat to these gods to satisfy their hunger, their need for blood and sacrifice. That meat was later sold in the marketplace as food.

Kathi: yes.

RichTatum: Now, for new Christians converted out of that lifestyle and — especially — for previous Jews, the use of that meat as a sacrifice to pagan gods made the meat unclean — and to partake of that meat was thought to be a sin.

Kathi: very different from modern Pagan beliefs …

RichTatum: Paul clearly said that for some, eating meat was a sin but that, for others, it was not. And if it was not a sin for you, that you should refrain from doing so around weaker believers so that their faith would not be challenged and so that they would not "stumble."

Kathi: < — trying to find it

RichTatum: And Paul says that if you are not sure whether something is a sin to do, or not, then don't do it because acting on doubt is a sin. Whereas acting on faith is not.

Trying to find what?

Kathi: what you're talking about, in the Bible. It's at the beginning of Romans 14 … yes?

RichTatum: Yes. Rom. 14. =ROM+14&language=english&version=NIV&showf n=on

And verse 14: "As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean."

"If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died."

Kathi: :::nodding::: got it.

RichTatum: This sums it up: "Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall. So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin."

You'll find, in the Assemblies of God, that there is a strong streak of legalism that will crop up from time to time. For example, I used to work at the Assemblies of God national headquarters (in Springfield, MO). Now, many traditional A/G people believe any form of dancing is a sin.

Kathi: Why?

RichTatum: I'll explain in a moment …. I was told about a job applicant who admitted to enjoying ballroom dancing as a hobby. Human resources told the applicant that if she wanted to maintain an active pursuit of that hobby they couldn't hire her.

Kathi: Wow.

RichTatum: So she removed that "interest" from her application and, essentially, promised not to dance while employed by HQ.

Now, the reason for that is this …. the Assemblies of God, as a denomination, was founded early this century. Around 1914 or so. And a big part of our preachers' messages then was about "holiness."

Kathi: yes, I've read the pamphlet called "our 16 doctrines" that also gives some of the history.

RichTatum: Yes. And what characterized "holiness" in these preachers' theology was being "set apart" from the world and not participating in "worldly" activities. What this boils down to is mostly anything that sinful people did for fun could potentially become "unholy" for Christians to do. If sinners did it, and if we're "holy," we won't do what sinners do. Ergo: dancing was sinful. Pool was sinful. Playing cards was sinful. Going to theaters was sinful.

Kathi: ahhh I remember that thinking and those arguments from my childhood. I got thwapped for asking if we should give up eating and drinking too.

RichTatum: In fact, students at our A/G bible colleges are restricted from going to any rated "R" film. But, they are usually allowed to watch "G" and "PG-13" movies. :-) Oh, yeah. Brings up another one. In the A/G it is widely considered sinful to drink alcohol of any kind. And certainly no smoking. My beliefs have a bit more latitude than that (with regard to alcohol, though I don't drink). Also, I play pool in smoky billiards joints (I'm meeting the brother of one of my wife's coworkers tonight to shoot some pool!).

RichTatum: But I don't dance — primarily because it really would cause others to stumble when I dance. You don't want to see a 6'3" 340 lb guy shaking his booty!

Kathi: Well, I quit smoking a couple years ago. My hubby (at that time, hubby to be) said he wouldn't marry a smoker. But why no drinking at all?

RichTatum: Well, it's not a doctrinal stance in the A/G , and you'll find some who disagree.

Kathi: <grin> actually, I have … my husband's about your size, by the sounds.

RichTatum: :-) I'm losing weight though. Working out every day — it's a good feeling.

Kathi: I need to start doing that. Discipline, discipline … :::shudder:::

RichTatum: You should read what the A/G says about drinking and make up your own mind. They have position papers here: Position papers are not mandated doctrine, just the official position of the A/G leadership. Their position on drinking is here:

Now, I don't agree with everything the A/G has to say about drinking. I think a biblical perspective on alcohol is: 1) Be very careful with alcohol. 2) Whatever you do, don't get drunk, and 3) If drinking causes your brother to stumble, don't drink.

Kathi: :::nodding:::

RichTatum: And, really, number 3 is why the A/G is so dead-set against drinking. American culture is so enamored of the "party" lifestyle (especially younger kids) that in order to counteract that influence, many Christians promote abstinence to bring balance to young Christians.

Kathi: that's in line with what I think anyways about drinking. You know, I don't like this statement, it doesn't sit well with me:

« Drunkenness, according to Scripture, is a sin. But what about such references in the Old Testament as "wine which cheers" (Judges 9:13) and "wine that makes glad" (Psalm 104:15)? We believe such references are accommodations to human weakness and hardness of heart (cf. Matthew 19:8). The spirit and intent of Scripture emphasize the evil consequences of alcohol. »

If alcohol is evil, why did Jesus turn water to wine?

RichTatum: I don't know. And, as I said, I personally don't believe alcohol is evil. I think the A/G stance on this is wrong.

Kathi: I do too.

RichTatum: But, then, I still think being A/G is the best way to be a Christian! I just think the measure of Scripture is the best measure. And the A/G doesn't have to be right all the time. Plus, there are many who think as I do.

Kathi: No human group could be.

RichTatum: You're exactly right.

So, I said all that to lead up to this: Don't be surprised if you get disillusioned with hard-headed lunkheads who see everything in black-and-white and who think everything is a sin. And don't be surprised if you find a wide range of opinions in the A/G newsgroups. For instance, one of the replies to your emails to AGTalk is that you need to fill your head with prophecies. I'm not entirely convinced that's wisdom, but I don't see any reason to argue it. But that's the kind of thing that can turn into a flame war.

Kathi: The church we're going to feels very comfortable for both of us … very different from how we were raised, especially me. Nobody just "goes through the motions".

RichTatum: Good.

Kathi: I didn't understand all of that message … filling my head with prophesies …

RichTatum: Yeah. Sounded kind of kooky to me. I just wanted to caution you that even though you're a new Christian, weigh everything we "older" Christians tell you. Measure everything by what you read in the Bible. This is the beauty of the A/G — technically it is not a denomination. The Assemblies of God is a "voluntary cooperative fellowship of ministers."What this means, in the end, is that the doctrines you hear from any A/G pulpit only have to conform to the "16 Fundamental Truths" statement in order to be considered within the scope of allowable A/G doctrine.

Kathi: I'm doing that, where I can. It's been a long time since I've read the Bible. Think the last time I even looked at one was when I was a teenager. But I gave it a thorough study back then, and a lot of it's coming back … or coming to me. I'm not sure which.

RichTatum: The comments that "alcohol is evil" and that "alcohol is okay" are both allowable in an A/G pulpit because those issues are not addressed in the "16 Fundamental Truths" and are therefore not essential doctrines. (Though most church membership requirements and all ministerial credentialling requirements require tee-totalling abstinence, which is fine with me.)

Yeah. Just take everything with a grain of salt. And feed on what you read, and what a reputable teacher can demonstrate in the Word. If your preacher/pastor is bible-based (which I hope he or she is) then you're very fortunate.

One of the other things about the A/G is that we have some preachers who are not very literature-minded and tend to mis-interpret Scripture. Even my wife, who has no Bible-College or Seminary training (I do, BTW), spots these kooks because she's very literate. Unfortunately, a majority of Americans are functionally illiterate. And the A/G is not exempt from that trend.

Kathi: Hmmmm. Maybe that explains something that I sensed was different about the church here, and the one at the beach … homosexuality is not specifically mentioned in the 16 doctrines, is it?

RichTatum: No, it isn't.

Kathi: Nothing's been specifically "said" about it in either church … but having lots of gay friends, I'm sensitive to the issue. This is true, and it's a terrible thing (functional illiteracy)

RichTatum: But, that's one of those things about which there are widespread unspoken assumptions. I think, and this is sad, that in the A/G there is such rampant homophobia that for many Pentecostals homosexuality may be one of the few "unforgivable sins." There are not many A/G churches that openly minister to homosexuals.

Kathi: One of the friends that I've talked to extensively about all that's happened is gay. He warned me that I shouldn't go to the A/G church at all.

RichTatum: I can imagine. I'm sure he's had bad experiences at the hands of Pentecostals.

Kathi: I'd gathered that, although I've heard the "love the sinner, hate the sin" said also. Yes, he has.

RichTatum: Next to Falwell and his people, we're probably the worst at treating gays with love while not embracing the lifestyle. When you meet with your pastor, you should specifically ask him about this, and probe how his church members will respond when you show up with an unsaved person actively involved in the homosexual lifestyle

Kathi: :::nodding::: I will.

RichTatum: The A/G has a position paper on homosexuality, as well. Note, though, it was written in 1979.

Kathi: I read it … I can't say I agree with it … even if it is biblically correct.

RichTatum: What did you have problems with?

Kathi: The whole thing ;-) I can't conceptualize love between two people as being evil, no matter the gender of either. It's just not in my head or my heart.

RichTatum: LOL. I understand. Is this something you want to talk about? Or do you just want to percolate on it?

Kathi: LOL I don't know. I'm interested in what you think and know on the subject, of course.

RichTatum: Well, your statement « love between two people as being evil … » intrigues me.

Kathi: whyso?

RichTatum: First, what kind of love are we talking about? Love expressed through sexual intimacy, or love expressed through support, adoration, commitment and service — without the sexuality.?

Kathi: Both. I know many gay couples who have been together for years and plan on being together for life. So yes, support, adoration, commitment, service, and sex. Not a lot different, to my thinking, from a commitment between man and woman called marriage.

RichTatum: What's wrong, then, with incestual relationships that are consensual? Or what's wrong with consensual relationships between a man and any underage child?

Kathi: I also know many people, gay and straight, who engage in promiscuity and terrible, destructive relationships. I don't think that the sin (and I called it that before my conversion) is compounded by the gender of those involved.

Children cannot make decisions of consent for themselves. Period, end of question on that issue. I don't know what to think of the subject of incest among adults … never really thought about it before.

RichTatum: Okay, here's my thinking on this. And it goes back to fundamental questions of why we are here, and for what purposes God created Man.

Kathi: :::nodding::: go ahead

RichTatum: I believe God created Mankind for fellowship with him. He created us because he loved his — even before he created us — and wants us to love him.

Kathi: agree …

RichTatum: Now, one of the planks of my argument rests in the archetypal pattern built into mankind — if you accept the Genesis account as being something more than a myth. Our Creator desired fellowship with us, created two of us, man and woman, so that we could fellowship with each other, and so that we could "multiply and replenish the earth."

Kathi: adam and eve vs. adam and steve …

RichTatum: Yeah, I've heard that. Too trite for me … but, yeah.

Kathi: ::nodding:::

RichTatum: So, critical functions of our entire reason for being are: 1) knowing God 2) loving our fellow man (male or female) 3) reproduction within that context.

Kathi: What about homosexual behavior among animals, who God created, and who (least I don't believe) "sin" in the human concept of sin?

RichTatum: Now, beyond that, I have to ask why did God choose that particular patter to begin with? (Okay, I'm about to deal with your question, indirectly.)

I believe that the marriage relationship, male and female, is the best earthly picture we have to conceptualize God's relationship with his people. Throughout the Gospels Jesus refers to the Bride being the church — believers — and the husband being God.

Hosea (in the Old Testament) contains the story of a prophet who was told to marry a known prostitute — against the law of the day. And when she left him to return to prostitution God commanded Hosea the prophet to pursue her anyways. And, in the end, God showed Hosea how his relationship with his wife the prostitute was an image of God's relationship to the Jews at the time. That even though God patiently pursues, waits, and loves us, we are unfaithful, fickle, and wanton.

Kathi: I don't know the story … will have to read it later … but it makes sense …

RichTatum: If marriage truly is an image of God's natural relationship to us, and if the bonding and expression of love and the reproductive functionality of our sexuality is part of that imago dei , then … marriage is truly sacred. And forms of "marriage" which pervert the ideal are, in my way of thinking, sinful. And forms of sexual relationships between individuals which are expressed outside of that kind of archetypal marriage should be discouraged. That's it. Make any kind of sense?

Kathi: It makes sense … on an intellectual level, to an extent.

RichTatum: BTW: Hosea =HOSEA+&language=english&version=NIV&showf n=on

« When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, "Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD." So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. »

Kathi: But what about gay behavior in animals?

RichTatum: Well … Animals also kill each other for food.

Kathi: So we as higher beings … ?

RichTatum: Can we, with any honesty and sanity, point to the animal kingdom and say, with a straight face, that they offer models of behavior for mankind?

Well, if God created man for fellowship, and set Adam in the Garden and told Adam that the entire created world was under his stewardship, then, yeah. I believe men are higher beings. Because there are no other creatures whom God made "in his own image", Imago Dei. Belief in evolutionary theory must, ultimately, take you down the road where "What's good for the goose is good for George and Gina, too."

But I see flaws in evolutionary theories too, and I believe in Creationism.

Kathi: :::nodding::: But … God did make animals, animals do not sin, some animals are gay (about 10%, same as the currently quoted percentage of gay people) … I see flaws in both … but that one's for another day. ;-) I can accept the Genesis version just as easily as I could the Egyptian versions (there were many) or the evolutionary model.

RichTatum: Animals aren't thought of as "sinners" because we don't believe they possess the rational capacity to perform reasoned acts of sin.

Do animals steal? You bet! Ever lost a hamburger to a hungry mutt?

RichTatum: Did the animal who coveted your theoretical burger and stole to enjoy it sin? No! The animal doesn't reason — they are creatures of instinct. That doesn't mean they don't have brains and that some animals seem to posses the ability to communicate — but that doesn't mean they were created in the image of God.

Kathi: <grin> a whole steak. But the puppy didn't think of it as stealing, I'm sure he thought he was the Great Furry Hunter.

I think my question is why an animal would do anything contrary to the way God made it.

RichTatum: LOL! Okay, that's a good question.

God created the world, mankind, Adam and Eve. We can start with this assumption, okay? You with me?

Kathi: Yes.

RichTatum: And we can further add the assumption that what God created, he created perfectly. The world that Adam and Eve knew was presumably perfect — in every respect.

Kathi: :::nodding:::

RichTatum: Now, Christian theology states that since God rested on the seventh day, his act of creation has been completed. Everything that has been made was already created or set in motion on that day. All that exists today was either fabricated, reproduced, descended, or decomposed from that time. With me still?

Kathi: with you.

RichTatum: (With the exceptions of Divine miraculous intervention, as in the case of your hearing.)


Now, what do we do with viruses? What do we do with intestinal parasites that require a human host to complete its life cycle? What do we do with bacterial colonies that are harmful in large amounts, but helpful in small amounts?

Kathi: what do you mean, what do we do with them? kill them, you mean?

RichTatum: I mean this: If the world God created was perfect, and if parasites exist, then Adam and Eve must have been created with every known bacterial infection, viral infection, and parasitic infection ever known to man! Or do we believe that HIV, blood parasites, staphylococci and other such maladies are a divinely intended expression of that perfect world that God set in motion?

Kathi: hmmmm

RichTatum: Here's how I handle that question for myself: When Adam and Eve both chose to disobey God — they sinned. And that is what we call the Original Sin. At that moment, the consequences of their disobedience and the knowledge they gained as a result of it had immediate and far-reaching effects. From that point on, when sin entered the perfectly created universe, sin began its corrupting effect on the world.

Kathi: My "old" viewpoint was that things like HIV and the "new" bacteria are nature's way of compensating for antibiotics killing off bacteria that are helpful … and population control. That doesn't ring true anymore.

RichTatum: According to the biblical records, our ancestors during that time lived far longer lifespans. Well, God did set "nature" in motion. Mutations happen. Viruses adapt. But the question of how all of life became vulnerable to these adaptations, mutations, and etc. has never been answered by evolution.

If you put all your stock in evolution you have to assume that all of life is inherently flawed. And while entropy rules in every other aspect of our existence, if you believe in evolution, you have to believe that somehow order came out of disorder.

Kathi: yes, that is an assumption you have to make. Although most adherents put it "could be better than this", not "flawed".

RichTatum: But if all of life is inherently flawed, how can speciation lead to increasingly organized and flaw-less systems. So, back to the question.

Kathi: <grinning> I'll have to mention THAT argument to my husband … it'll make his head spin.

RichTatum: <grin>And we never even touched on the issues of intelligent design!

Paul (again, that eminent theologian) touched on this briefly in Romans. In Romans 8. He starts out, in verse 18, saying: "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."(deals with the problem of pain, and the state of entropy all creation is in)

And, now, check this out:

« The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itselfwill be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. »

Note that all creation is in "bondage to decay " and that all of creation has been "groaning as in the pains of childbirth " right up till now.

So, you ask me why animals might behave in ways that are not ideal? I tell you that all of creation is behaving in ways that are not ideal. And that doesn't provide us with an excuse to continue corrupting the ideal — especially when we have the rational ability to take charge of our behavior.

Make sense?

Kathi: to an extent, yes.

RichTatum: Take, for example, animals which may sometimes resort to preying on humans. This is a behavioral thing that afflicts only a few animals out of an entire population. And, I understand, it is even an acquired taste. Sharks, some of the great cats, the occasional crocodile, some of the great bears, etc ….

Kathi: yes … I think part of my problem is that I've always viewed "sin" as something that directly causes harm to someone: stealing or murder, adultery, etc.

RichTatum: Does their behavior, while exceptional, somehow imply that because it's "natural" it's justifiable for humans? I believe that this behavior would not have been present in the Garden of Eden shortly after creation.

Kathi: I'd not considered that …

RichTatum: Sin does cause harm, but the "victim" is not always obvious. Sometimes the victim is God. For example: I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt worship no other Gods. What's the harm in that? The victim is yourself and the God you reject.

Kathi: so things like this are natural consequences of that sinful action, is what you're saying? Everything was changed from what it originally was?

RichTatum: Yes, that's what I'm saying.

Kathi: Well, the harm there is obvious … if you're not giving your attention to God, and giving it to someone/something else …

RichTatum: But would you have perceived this as sin during your pagan days? This is the beauty and irony of the Christian faith. At its heart faith in God begins to restore you to the "natural" state that God intended for you. But meanwhile the rest of the world is in an "unatural" state — which is now "normal."

Kathi: In a way, yes … I would not have turned my attention from my own gods to worship others. Hence a huge chunk of my initial hesitancy.

RichTatum: So, being a Christian is an "abnormality" that is "supernormal"--if there is such a word.

Kathi: I think I understand that.

RichTatum: Well — I think I need to slow down on the chatting today … I do need to justify my pay today! :-) And it's time for lunch, and a brief workout.

Kathi: ROFL I'm to the same point … I've been doing boring repetitious Lyris stuff as we talk. Enjoy :-) And thank you :-) again and again.

RichTatum: I don't hope to completely persuade you to my way of thinking on all things — you ultimately need to make up your own mind. But I'm happy to persuade you to think as I do — especially since my opinions are closer to the truth than others! <big grin>

Kathi: :::nodding::: I'll go where God leads me … I'm resolved to that, without question.

Of course! :-)

RichTatum: I know that most of what I believe is unprovable, and I'm happy to admit that much of it requires presumptions that rest on faith, not scientific evidence. But, then, much of science rests on faith (theories) that are simply in a state of not-yet-having-been-dis-proven.

Kathi: I had an interesting conversation on that very issue yesterday with my husband … after I read #2 of the articles you sent. In some ways my rejection of Pagan beliefs was easier on faith, than on intellectual grounds presented in the article.

RichTatum: I can understand that. Most Christians who write about paganism are doing so from the outside — not really understanding paganism.

Kathi: The author of that one article REALLY knew what they were talking about.

RichTatum: For the same reason that most non-Christians who write derogatory things about Christianity are doing so from the outside — never having really experienced it. The two philosophies never really get a chance to dialog.

That's good. I'll have to give it a careful read.

Kathi: You realize that most Pagans believe Paul to have been insane, don't you? It seems strange to me that so much of what I'm learning these days comes from that source.

RichTatum: LOL! Yeah, Paul is seen as the misogynistic, bigoted madman who invented Christianity.

Kathi: :::nodding:::

RichTatum: Paul is widely misunderstood — even among Christians.

Kathi: I'm gathering that.

RichTatum: And because Christians are just as illiterate as the rest of the World, Paul — and the rest of the Bible — gets as widely misinterpreted as any other ancient document.

Kathi: How much misinterpretation comes from translation errors? There are so many translations of the Bible which say slightly different things …

RichTatum: Not so much from "translation errors" as what we call "equivalence" errors.

Kathi: I know that A/G takes the Bible as a Divinely inspired, error-free work.. and I can agree with the original text being considered so. Yeah … as in, some things just don't translate to English well.

RichTatum: Translation, as you know, differs from interpretation and any good translation implies substantial interpretation. Imagine translating the concept "Jesus washes your sins away and makes you as white as snow" to a bunch of tropical island natives who've never seen snow?

Kathi: I can also agree from the point of view that if you don't take the whole thing, how could you possibly know what IS and what ISN'T … hnmmm yes ….

RichTatum: Well, the Bible translator seeking to put Scriptures in their tongue must resort to making an equivalent translation that is, strictly speaking, not a direct word-for-word translation of the Bible. Thus, this is an "error" in the technical sense but the translator is remaining true to the meaning of the text and is not in error.

And we believe that God used men to write scriptures, he didn't pick up the inkpot himself to do this.

Kathi: yes …

RichTatum: And that there may be matters of science or history that are clouded by the human filter.

Kathi: that's refreshing and unexpected :-)

RichTatum: And there's a principle of biblical interpretation that looks at the pattern of how God revealed himself through history. The earlier records in the Old Testament show a more angry and warlike God while the later Old Testament books reveal a god more interested in social justice and matters of the heart.

Kathi: yes.

RichTatum: Many of us believe that this is because as time went on the biblical writers and the Jewish people gained a more accurate and clearer understanding of God's nature and the relationship he truly desired. Does that mean the earlier records were in error?

Kathi: Not necessarily, just that the perspective changed.

RichTatum: They must be interpreted in light of the entire revelation of God---they must be taken in the broad context and not lifted out of the smaller context — leading to misinterpretation.

What you said. :-)

Final thought on this ….

I believe God is sovereign and omnipotent. And I believe that since he was so interested in making his will known to man that he inspired prophets to put quill to paper, and that he sent his son to interact with us, and that he inspired others to record this event and expound on it …. Then, I am therefore compelled to believe, in light of his interest, that God is also interested in preserving and conserving the true nature of his revelation in our collection of sacred scriptures.

I mean, how great a God is that who can do all these things like create the universe and pay the price for mankind's sin … but who couldn't insure that his revealed willis preserved? So … This is another article of faith. But, well-founded, I hope.

Kathi: yes … I agree.

RichTatum: And there is the historical record. I've taken three years of Greek courses, and I've looked at the history of the Canon. And I'm confident that the biblical texts have been preserved with a level of accuracy enjoyed by no other ancient text.

Kathi: That's reassuring … it was another of my unanswered questions.

RichTatum: Which leads me to believe that any preacher worth his salt should be very careful about learning to interpret an ancient text before preaching it. It takes more skill than just reading the latest Dean Koontz novel.

Kathi: absolutely.

RichTatum: :-) Not a lot of pastors throughout the church act this responsibly, I'm afraid. Alas, the church as an institution is fallible and composed of fallible people.

Kathi: that's sad :-(but true.

RichTatum: Sometimes we are all our own worst enemy. Okay. I really gotta go now!

Kathi: I know … you're going to talk yourself out of a lunch hour if you're not careful! …. have a great afternoon!

RichTatum: :-) Okay. You too.

Kathi signed off at 1:32:19 PM.

The Sharpe Logs: email and chat transcripts with Kathi Sharpe, ex-Wiccan
© 2001 by Richard A. Tatum Email
Check out my blog!