Revenge Is The Lord’s

I’m continuing to read the Bible in the mornings before work. I started with 1 Thessalonians and have moved on to the “sequel”. I ran across this verse:

2 Thessalonians 1:6-9
New International Version (NIV)
6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.

This is a picture of Jesus that I’m not particularly taken with. I’m not very interested in him paying back the trouble others have caused me.

25 Comments »

  • David Ihnen says:

    I think you’re supposed to be a vindictive nihilist to be okay with that.

    • spiritualtramp says:

      I’m not one of those at all. :D

      • David Ihnen says:

        You might want to reevaluate your base reasons for believing that the bible contains anything uniquely valuable or even true, then.

        • spiritualtramp says:

          I think it contains plenty of truths.

          • David Ihnen says:

            Perhaps you mis-parsed my comment. More specifically, you might want to reevaluate your base reasons for believing that the bible contains anything uniquely valuable or uniquely true. That is, my judgement is that it does not have a corner on valuable or true pieces of information, therefore should not be given any more credence than any other random book. To proceed without a legitimate logical and reasonable fundamental base reason for believing that it DOES have anything more valuable than some random book, the effort to study it in detail is at risk of being wasteful.

          • spiritualtramp says:

            I agree that many of the truths in the Bible aren’t “unique”. That doesn’t mean that it’s as valuable as any other “random” book. Many books contain nothing worthwhile.

            I believe in a supreme being. The truths about humanity and the world as revealed in the Bible line up with my view of the world. Therefore (and this is simplifying the whole thing to a great deal), I find more value in the Bible and the view of the supreme being revealed therein than I do of any other religious text I’ve read.

            I don’t believe that the version of the Bible as we have it is perfect, by any means. It’s close enough for me.

          • David Ihnen says:

            The belief in a supreme being doesn’t endorse the truth of anything, much less the validity of the bible (truth doesn’t come from wishing it so), nor does your personal value alignment indicate that the bible is in alignment with anything other you.

            I suggest that the reason it aligns in any meaningful way is not due to the correctness or trueness of anything therein, but merely the fact that the culture in which you were raised and gained your values paid attention to the book, thus imbuing you with some of the values it contains. That logically makes alignment with personal values a circular reasoning, which is meaningless and invalid.

            Even IF we accepted the existence of a supreme being with no hard evidence whatsoever, you appear to be suggesting that the bible is indeed meaningful in relationship to the traits of that supreme being. I’m sure you have reasons for the assertion that there is a supreme being. I will set that aside for now, though I’m interested in your reasons.

            Allow me to assert ‘the bible consists of fictional assertions about a fictional supreme being that is almost but not entirely completely different than the truth of the actual supreme being’, and further elaborate that the differences between reality and the assertions therein make the bible an entirely useless reference for acquiring information about the actual characteristics of the true supreme being.

            Were my assertion (bible is bs) to be true, it would not prevent your assertion (there is supreme being) from being true. This demonstrates logically that the validity of the bible is an entirely independent matter from whether or not a supreme being exists.

            With that framework established, the question I ask is: what leads you to believe the bible’s information is accurate regarding anything without evidence, such as the characteristics of a supreme being?

          • spiritualtramp says:

            “I suggest that the reason it aligns in any meaningful way … circular reasoning, which is meaningless and invalid.”

            In the bigger picture the culture in which I was raised certainly “paid attention” to the book, though in a way that don’t reflect my values. The parts of the south that I grew up in were very legalistic. I don’t have those sort of values. I value social justice, loving my neighbor sacrificially, and repenting for the wrongs I’ve done to others. Those are values that are in the book and not ones that I learned from my culture or my family.

            “Allow me to assert ‘the bible consists of fictional assertions about a fictional supreme being that is almost but not entirely completely different than the truth of the actual supreme being’,”

            Assert whatever you like. ;-) I know it doesn’t invalidate anything really since it’s just an assertion.

            Regarding evidence, my experience of humanity and its nature and the universe and how I perceive it through the lens of science point me towards the Bible’s accuracy. I don’t think that sort of evidence will sway you. I think that since it’s accurate about the things I can perceive (given the limitations of the culture that brought it forth), then it’s accurate about the things I can’t (given my own limitations of understanding)..

          • David Ihnen says:

            Buh… this is a logical fallacy – its called composition – allow me to state it in slightly different terms than you did above:

            Parts of the bible have characteristics that appear accurate to spiritualtramp’s perception

            Therefore the whole bible must be accurate even about the things of which spiritualtamp has no perception

            This is astonishing to me. So…

            Can you explain why you think using composition to apply credibility to these matters is sound reasoning?

          • spiritualtramp says:

            It’s an article of faith.

          • David Ihnen says:

            Faith is an unreliable and irrational basis for determining the truth of anything.

          • spiritualtramp says:

            Yup.

          • David Ihnen says:

            Why would you choose an unreliable much less irrational basis to determine the truth of something?

          • spiritualtramp says:

            Possibly because I’m not entirely rational?

          • David Ihnen says:

            Most people aren’t entirely rational, that’s nothing new. Its when irrationality is harmful to ones self or others that it is insanity. Until there is actually harm, its just risky. The problem is things shift from risk to harm at unexpected times in unexpected ways.

            One of those risks-into-harm that I have encountered is the composition fallacy indicating that homosexuality is immoral or wrong, merely because the bible (or specific sect’s religious doctrine interpretation thereof) is considered to be correct on that matter. Until I, as a son, was perceived as homosexual by my parents it was only a risk. Once I was, the implied understanding that homosexuality is wrong suddenly caused deep harm to my relationship with my parents. I am sure they never decided back when they learned of this position on homosexuality and ‘believed’ in it that they were going to harm their relationship with their son with it. They believed it on faith as part of the composition of their religion’s dogmatic set – some elements of which resonated with them – the rest which were inserted and came on the ride through the composition fallacy. Now over time, they seem to have changed opinion and placed the homosexual prohibition on the same class as such biblical position on the matter of rape, on the matter of stoning disrespectful children, slavery, the wearing mixed fabrics, consuming pork and other prohibited foods, and the various other set of biblical decrees that – were what was done and specified in the bible a definition of moral code and appropriate behavior – would be in such strong conflict with modern society’s current idea of morals that you’d be put in prison permanently. Its obvious there is something not true about the prohibition that one should not eak pork, though I have serious doubts that its a mistake or imperfection in the book. Logically this would indicate that in large part, people are not composing ‘the bible is true’ to mean ‘the history it lists is frequently immoral and should not be repeated’, nor ‘every commandment in this book applies to me’. I’m not saying there aren’t biblical literalists out there, but by modern society’s definitions they’re insanely immoral bastards.

            My deepest worry about the risk is that when taken in full knowledge that doing so is irrational, you’re just as guilty of hurting the people that may be harmed by your irrational beliefs that comes along for the ride hitched in composition with a bible as you would be criminally to the people hurt by you taking the risk of driving excessively fast down the road and killing somebody.

            And yes, I think its potentially that dangerous to let any ideas go unquestioned, to take any matter on faith. Too many people have been hurt, too many have committed suicide, too many have been deprived over such things. Its morally reprehensible to enable the hurting of people that way. Much of it wouldn’t happen if the irrational composition path was never wandered down.

          • RobAC says:

            I think it interesting that you brought up the issue of eating pork. In the time that it was written, it makes perfect sense because of trichinosis. In our modern times, we have identified this parasite and, with the advent of freezing most of our foods, is not a viable problem. There was a rational basis for the banning of pork which was a very real vector for this parasite.

            As far as your homosexuality, if you are homosexual, I do not know of any true Christian body that would exclude you from membership. I have been a pastor of several congregations who probably would not have been happy with you as a member because of your homosexuality, if that were known to be so, but I think they would have accepted you. While I may think homosexuality is a sin, I would not say that the person who so identifies is not a Christian, I would accept him or her as a brother or sister in Christ. God does, after all, seem to accept those of us who are gluttons, etc.

            The whole issue of faith is not a question rationality. Atheism entails its own irrationality. All faith systems, whether a belief in a supreme being or no supreme being is irrational at some level. One can pretend that all they do is because it is rational, but it is only rational in relation to the presuppositions one brings to the table.

            People have been hurt by irresponsible people at all times and all places. That does not mean that one’s belief in the Bible and the truths that it espouses and the God it illuminates is any more irresponsible for the hurts of society than any other belief system that exists.

          • David Ihnen says:

            where do we get the arbitrary nature of the issue of eating pork being a sin is any different whatsoever from the arbitrary nature of the issue of having sex with a man being a sin? Isn’t it as reasonable and logical to say that the reason for homosexuality being a sin is as easily dismissed by modern science’s understanding of human psychology, disease and behavior as the reason for eating pork is dismissed by modern science’s understanding of the problem with pork containing trichinosis? Seriously, you have a fundamental assumption being made here that the eating of pork is sinful *BECAUSE* of trichinosis which is not upheld by biblical passage. If the bible statements regarding what is a sin is true, it fails to assert that eating trichinosis infected pork is a sin, but only that ALL eating pork is a sin. Are you double-guessing god, assuming that trichinosis WAS the problem? While willfully not making the same assumption that there was some matter of ignorance, superstition, culture, or of cleanliness that was worth classing homosexuality a sin? Or any of the other abominations mentioned anywhere in the book?

            Justify this dichotomy.

            I’m going to quote a short article from About.com as it states the matter of atheism/belief quite more clearly than I’m able to, BEGIN QUOTE:

            Atheism is not a belief, but it is common for religious believers to claim that atheism is a belief. It’s not clear why so many assume or insist that atheism must be a belief, though one reason may be that theism is a belief so people assume there is a direct parallel between atheism and theism: if theism is a belief, then atheism must also be a belief. This analogy is not valid; just because theism is a belief doesn’t make atheism a belief

            The truth is that atheism is the absence of the belief that is theism. Theism is the belief that at least one god of some sort exists; a-theism is the absence of a belief that some sort of god exists. In standard English the prefix “a” is defined as “without, absence, privation, lacking.” Thus atheism, or a-theism, has to be defined defined as without, the absence of, the privation of, or lacking a belief in at least one god of some sort.

            Of course this doesn’t mean that atheists have no beliefs whatsoever; on the contrary like any human being of course atheists have beliefs. Some of those beliefs are also related to atheism, theism, religion, and gods. Just because a person doesn’t believe in the existence of any gods doesn’t mean that they don’t have any beliefs whatsoever related to the subject.

            Put most simply, the absence of belief in gods is no more a belief itself than the absence of political beliefs (a-political) is itself a political position or the absence of synchronicity (a-synchronous) is itself a way of being synchronous.

            :END QUOTE

            The absence of faith is not a faith based system.

            God accepts people? If you have evidence of this, do present it. I’d say the evidence I’ve seen and heard about so far indicates he does absolutely nothing for anybody, glutton or saint, ever.

            The god ‘illuminated’ by the bible dictates rules of slavery. Does that mean its was not sinful THEN to have it *not* be sinful to keep slaves? But it is now? The bible never said “okay, having slaves is sinful now but wasn’t then”.

            Its all about danger. When you don’t use the best information you have, you put yourself in a dangerous situation. If I declare to you that there is a glass bridge so transparent you can’t see it right over the canyon, and you take on faith that it must be so, when you attempt to walk on it you will fall into the canyon to your injury or death. It is highly dangerous to use faith to model the reality around you in the case of the invisible bridge, because your death or injury can result. The harm that is caused by the use of faith based modeling for interpersonal relationships is much more subtle – but the harm it causes is no less real. How many teenagers commit suicide because faith-based modeling of appropriate behavior doesn’t compensate for the reality of the developing mind and sexuality of humans?

            No, using faith to model what is appropriate is highly arbitrary and dangerous. The harm travels beyond the individual to those they influence.

          • RobAC says:

            Atheism is a belief. You believe that there is no god. That is as much a belief as believing in a god. You can’t prove a negative, therefore, you cannot prove that there is no God, therefore it is a belief and not a fact that can be proven. What the hell! Go for it.

            Actually, the examples that you cited from the about.com article are not really valid either. Being apolitical, which I am in a big way, does not mean that what I espouse is not a political position, it most definitely is. And the a-synchronicity argument is really a physical argument for the most part and really doesn’t apply to moral discourse.

            I think from what you have written, that you have been deeply hurt by your family and their inability to accept your homosexuality. I feel for you. If any of my children declare themselves to be homosexual, and at this point that is a real possibility, I will still love them and accept them. I may not approve of their lifestyle based upon my religious convictions, but he will still be my son. I will strive to get along with his partner, whomever it may be.

            I don’t think that your problem is with God. God loves you (and me) in our sins, whatever they may be. The God of the Bible seems to indicate that homosexuality is a sin. So be it. The sin closer to my heart because I have a tendency to indulge it is gluttony. In spite of that God loves and accepts me. God can do the same for you if you are willing to believe. And trust me, whether you declare yourself an atheist, agnostic, believer in whatever god, you are a believer and have a faith based lifestyle.

          • David Ihnen says:

            Saying apolitical is political has no justification. The dictionary disagrees with you. You have provided no evidence of argument that shows in any way that the fragment from about.com is in any way less than entirely valid. In the absence of any such evidence or reasoning I reject your assertion to the contrary and allow it to stand.

            You did not justify the dichotomy between the ‘sins’ of pork and homosexuality. I have a suspicion you have no reasonable answer to it, therefore are trying to subvert the conversation into something you feel you have grounds on. Shame.

            You’re right, I don’t have a problem with an evidence-less myth, the very concept is absurd. How COULD I have a problem with nothing?

            My problem is with PEOPLE – who are obsessed with fantastical stories they were told in their youth or tricked into via hijacking of a normal psychotic episode (yes, everybody has at least mild ones from time to time especially under stress), crowd-emotion behavior (feeling euphoric in crowds is not limited to religious situations), or meditative technique (yes, you CAN get yourself to feel particular ways with deliberate thought), or oxygen deprivation (nothing like low brain oxygen to induce some consistent types of hallucinations and sensations). Yes – in case you weren’t aware (as the religions are not generally the sort to inform people on this detail) – there are legitimate scientifically demonstrated ways of inducing these sensations and feelings in people’s minds, there is no requirement for a spirit or a god to make it happen. Its natural that historically humans have made up stories to explain these not easily understood phenomena, but we know better now. We have scientific method, double blind studies, information sharing. We never needed these stories, but now they are not the only available explanation any more. We can go with the more simple, logical and observable explanations, because they are much, much, much more likely than supernatural assertions.

            I have no reason to trust you. You make assertions without even stating reasons – much less evidence. What is to trust? There has been is no evidence with a simpler or more likely explanation than there is a god, therefore it remains in my judgement exceedingly unlikely. So unlikely, in fact, that I judge it does not justify any action on my part. That is why I am A-Theist. Without belief.

  • David J. Avila says:

    If you take into context, Ephesians 6:12-18. It is very easy to believe who it is that gets the spanking.

    • spiritualtramp says:

      I don’t want any spankings though.

      • leighroche says:

        God gives spankings to his children, (believers who sin and are in need of discipline) not the people that hurt us. Eternal damnation can’t be compared to a spanking. Scriptures are clear that God cannot accept sin. It’s not that he is vindictive in the sense that we get vindictive. Vindication is founded on the assumption that that the vindicated are in the right and the other person in the wrong. Our assumptions are often faulty. But, God is the ultimate right. Scott, if you get any spankings it is only because you need them. :-)

  • Kansas Bob says:

    Retribution was a common theme for justice back then. It was hard for some to imagine justice any other way. I like the way that these verses paint justice:

    “Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow”. (Isaiah 1:17)

    “This is what the LORD says: “`Administer justice every morning; rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed” (Jeremiah 21:12)

    “This is what the LORD Almighty says: `Administer true justice: show mercy and compassion to one another. (Zechariah 7:9)

    “Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice”.( Isaiah 30:18)

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