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The Bible Is Not A Smorgasbord

by D. E. Carson (writer), , November 06, 2008

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God is not a God of convenience. You can't pick and choose.

 

Christians believe in the Bible.  America, whether you like it or not, was founded on Judeo-Christian principles.  But there is something non-Christians need to know about the Bible before you start using it to contradict that for which we stand.

The Bible is an all or nothing proposition.

Either you believe everything that is in it, or you believe none of it. You have to take all of it.  You cannot pick and choose parts of the Bible to guide your life and then leave the rest alone.  And that decision has some very, very serious consequences.

Anti-Christians love to carry around the Golden Rule and pull it out and whack Christians over the head with it – especially when anti-Christians want their way.  Anti-Christians love to run around and say or do whatever they want and then justify their actions when rebuked by saying, “But Jesus says to love one another.”

The most recent case in point here is the recent amendment to the California, Arizona and Florida state constitutions, all of which place the institution of marriage squarely in the heterosexual column.  Opponents of California’s Proposition 8 call it all sorts of vile and evil things.  It’s a case of the pot calling the kettle black.  Homosexuals want to be treated as equals and they want their lifestyle accepted as normal.  They love using the Bible as justification for their viewpoint thinking that if they pull some passage out of context they can make their case and Christians will just go along with it because, “it’s says so in the Bible.”

It doesn’t work that way.

God does not hate homosexuals; contrary to the teachings of Fred Phelps of the Topeka, Kansas Westboro Baptist Church (I won’t even give that man the courtesy of calling him “reverend”).  God loves every man, woman and child on this earth.  God loves everyone whom He created.  What He doesn’t love are the evil, wicked things people on this earth do to themselves and each other.

The basic tenet of Christianity rests on the foundation that we are free to do whatever we want in this life.  If we choose to love and serve God, there is a reward for that.  If we choose to hate and revile God, there is a consequence to that as well.  I used to hang around wiccans.  I considered some to be friends of mine.  But one thing that one of them said to me still rings in my ears today.  She said to me, “The concept of hell was invented by parents just to make their kids behave.”

I don’t believe that for a minute.  I’ve seen too many things in my life that convince me that evil is real and hell is real.  In my studies of the Bible since that conversation, I have come to realize that hell is not a place, it is a destination and contrary to conventional wisdom, it is not a place where the condemned will live forever in torment.  It is a temporary place where the condemned will be consumed by the fire until they are no more.  Just like when you throw a log on a fire, the fire consumes the log until there is nothing but ash, hell is a fire where the evil and wicked of this world will be cast and like that log, they will be consumed by the fire until there is nothing left of them.  This is not meant to scare you.  I’m simply reporting.  You are free to do with it as you choose.

But getting back to the issue of Proposition 8, I was watching the late LA news last night and saw the Prop 8 protesters meandering around WeHo between Santa Monica/San Vicente Boulevards and the Hollywood and Highland district.  I saw signs accusing supporters of Proposition 8 of hatred and discrimination.  As I wrote in my previous article, Proposition 8 was about the rights of the people versus ideological judges legislating from the bench.  But the opponents of Proposition 8 are too blind with their own hate and contempt to see that.

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,  backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” Romans 1:28-32 (NKJV – ©1982 Thomas Nelson Publishers) [1].

Or as another, more modern translations puts it:

“Since these people refused even to think about God, he let their useless minds rule over them. That's why they do all sorts of indecent things.  They are evil, wicked, and greedy, as well as mean in every possible way. They want what others have, and they murder, argue, cheat, and are hard to get along with. They gossip, say cruel things about others, and hate God. They are proud, conceited, and boastful, always thinking up new ways to do evil.  These people don't respect their parents. They are stupid, unreliable, and don't have any love or pity for others. They know God has said that anyone who acts this way deserves to die. But they keep on doing evil things, and they even encourage others to do them.” Romans 1:28-32 (Contemporary English Version – ©1995 American Bible Society) [2].

The last line of both of those passages is a condemnation on anyone who practices evil and on anyone who condones the practice of evil.  I condemn no one who reads this article.  Condemnation comes from God.  That’s His job.  I’m only the messenger, so don’t shoot me.  Additionally, you’re free to express your opinion.  Those of you who disagree with me on this article will probably want to use every epithet in the book on me.  Go ahead.  I don’t care.  As I said, I’m only the messenger here.  Those of you who know me, know that I will argue until I am blue in the face about politics.  You can show me facts and if they contradict my opinion, I will change that.  When it comes to my religion, I let God speak for Himself.  This is one topic you cannot change my mind on.

[1] http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%201:28-32;&version=50;

[2] http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%201:28-32;&version=46;



About the Writer

D. E. Carson is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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19 comments on The Bible Is Not A Smorgasbord

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By Sharlene Hardin on November 06, 2008 at 02:08 pm
Romans 13 Submit to Government

 1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.

***The only sticking point for me is that the initial bill was passed by the California Supreme Court which if God did not approve of Same Sex marriages being added to the States Constitution, then it wouldn't have made it.  I agree we are to follow the entire bible and not just cherry pick the parts that suit us.***    Titus 3
8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men. 
Avoid Dissension   
9 But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless.
  ***So basically my understanding (as we all understand things differently) is that God's bibical principles are those of training and nurturing each other in positive ways because dissension is useless." 
***Sorry I don't mean for this to be all in bold but I can't figure out how to turn it off.
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By Sharlene Hardin on November 06, 2008 at 02:14 pm

Isn't all really about understanding anyway? 

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By TCBlair on November 06, 2008 at 02:33 pm

I use Yahweh instead of God as it is the Hebrew name of God.

Excellent article D.

Sharlene, Yahweh does not want us to dissent from Him or any of His teachings/lessons.  But you can't honestly believe he detests dissension from things that are not of Him.  We are told to go out and preach to the masses about His love and mercy, that is dissenting from people's beliefs of what and who He is.  If we always roll over when evil decides it wants to do something simply because we will try to avoid dissension evil will run amuck and consume all that is good.  Yahshua (hebrew name of Jesus) took a whip to people as an example of righteous anger.  It is ok to dissent if evil is attacking and the ratification of homosexuality is an attack.

"The only sticking point for me is that the initial bill was passed by the California Supreme Court which if God did not approve of Same Sex marriages being added to the States Constitution, then it wouldn't have made it."

Again, exactly what D said, our decisions are left up to us; we are not robots but beloved creatures who either decide to follow His word or not.  The judge chose not to follow His word but the people of these 3 states did choose to obey it.  If you agree with the philosophy of free will than you can't say Yahweh wanted it to happen and that is why the judge ratified it.  It goes against the philosophy of free will because that would mean the judge did not have free will.  If you believe in predestination and that Yahweh makes us do everything we do than how to do answer the fact that He made the judge ok it and then the people say no?  If He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow that doesn't fit.  So, it still comes down to people making their own choices.  Yahweh does not want homosexuality to exist but, as story after biblical story tells us, if we are stubborn and hard hearted enough He will allow it to happen.  What is good about that is that it usually leads us back to Him in the end as we really don't want evil to be as rampant as we say we do.  It would all be much easier if we just chose to follow His words and then maybe we could avoid the 40 years in the wilderness.

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By Sharlene Hardin on November 06, 2008 at 03:06 pm

Nope not the point I'm making, which is about arguing the bible with others and accepting that God/Yahweh does not like it when we argue with each other especially when it comes to God's/Yahweh's teachings.

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By Sharlene Hardin on November 06, 2008 at 03:08 pm

Again it's about understanding that each of us (in our ability to practice our own faith and beliefs) also have our own levels of comprehension and understanding of said beliefs. 

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By D. E. Carson on November 06, 2008 at 04:33 pm

Sharlene:

You quoted the Apostle Paul with your clip from Romans (as did I).  I agree that we should respect authority, but remember the original ban on gay marriage came from the people and in America, the government is "of the people, by the people and for the people."  The people are the government, not the judges, not the Congress (or state legislature in this case) and not the President/governor.  In this instance, the original Proposition 22 was established by the governed.  It was tossed out on the whim of progressive, radical judges who do not share the moral compass of the people.  The people then turned around and again demanded that their will be upheld in spite of the actions of those who "practice such things" and by those who "approve of those who practice them".  What Paul was saying in the passages I quoted is that God disapproves of the acts listed but he also disapproves of the act of approving them.  If man puts his stamp of approval on something, then he is just as guilty of that act as if he had perpetrated it himself.

Frankly, the institution of marriage was established by God himself as being between a man and a woman.  Genesis 1:26-28 "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.  And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." (KJV).  Then again the issue is addressed in Genesis 2:21-24 "And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." (KJV).  So if it was established by God, what gives us the right to change it?

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By D. E. Carson on November 06, 2008 at 04:45 pm

Bill Friday:

Thank you for your review.  You're right, this is quite a turn around from an ex-prisoner...er...I mean Catholic School student.  But, it is because I chose to read and study the Bible myself and not let some dictatorial priest tell me what was in it that I am far more interested in it than I once was.

As for the temporal nature of hell, that's actually right out of the book of Revelation itself.  Think about this for a moment.  If hell burns forever and is burning right now, then that means that the people who are in hell right now get to live forever.  But Paul wrote to the Romans "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23 (KJV).  When God condemns all who sinned against him to hell, they will be forced to die permanently.  This means never to live again.  Also, look at this for a moment from the perspective of someone in Heaven.  How would you feel knowing that someone you loved dearly had been condemned to hell and was alive being tormented forever?  God loves everyone, true, but those who sin must be punished and even God could not tolerate eternal life in torment for someone condemned to hell.  Where is the justice in that?  Supposing the worst thing you ever did was steal some candy from a store.  Where is the justice in making you live forever being tormented for stealing when someone next to you is being tormented forever for killing hundreds of people, raping, etc?

I have really come a long way from my days in prison ... er... Catholic School, and my belief in God has been changed a lot.

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By Lady D on November 06, 2008 at 06:00 pm

My problem with those who preach that the bible or any book is the word of "God"(however you precieve "God") is that they don't seem to take into consideration that humans where involved in the writing or rewriting or translation (we all know how vunerable and corrupt humans can be.) So I personally am suspect as to the truth of such writings.

Also most people (myself included) know little about the history of religion (christian or otherwise) or history at all.

So for me I am willing to say, "I don't know the truth."  As Buddha said (he never said he was a god)  Just because I said it or it is written or someone else says it, do not believe it, check it out for yourself.

If more people would do that maybe we would have more people living well and less people telling others how they should live.

That being said the article was well written, even though I diagree with the message.

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By Sharlene Hardin on November 06, 2008 at 06:33 pm

DE, I understand.  I do. 

Of course it's difficult to convey one's level of comprehension in a public forum of comments. 

So I will leave it simply as this, I do understand, but do you understand that what I understand differs from you?

Your article is about accepting the whole bible not just part of it, part of what I am saying is that everyone's comprehension varies so what you may seem to perceive as others inability to understand could skewed by ones level of comprehension.

I respect that you have a very strong sense of conviction so I mean no disrespect whatsoever.  I am just commenting in the hope that others see that we all have differing levels of comprehension and we shouldn't be outraged by it but accepting.

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By Sharlene Hardin on November 06, 2008 at 06:48 pm

Lady D, I understand as well.  To me these spiritual principles and philsophies are up to the individual to understand in search of finding their own personal truths. 

I also understand what you mean about focusing on living well rather than dwelling to tell others how they should live. 

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By D. E. Carson on November 07, 2008 at 02:54 am

Hey Deano:

You're more than welcome to believe what you may but I can find just as many quotes that actually support the claim that Amerika was founded on Judeo-Christian values.  I never said that Amerika was a Judeo-Christian nation, but your "Thou shalt not lie" can get one into a lot of trouble under Amerikan law.  How about "Thou shall not kill."  Might find a few people that would disagree with you there.  Then of course there is "Thou shall not kill"  Hmmm...still haven't left the Ten Commandments and I'm still finding laws on books in all 50 states about this one.  Here's one that just absolutely cracks me up.  "Remember to keep holy the Lord's Day".  Now why is it that so many businesses close up shop on Sunday?  Why not make the weekend Friday and Saturday?  Why are we so adamant that we have businesses that are closed on Sunday?  Now it's not a law that these places be closed on ANY day of the week, but find me a government office that's open on a Sunday.  What about laws against patricide and matricide?  Oh, and lest we forget that in the immortal words of Thomas Jefferson, whom you like to throw around:  "...that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights..."  Now if only I can remember exactly where I read those words...I know I know this, it's on the tip of my tongue.  I can't seem to remember where I read them, but I'm almost certain that it was Jefferson himself who wrote them.  All you did was prove that double-speak isn't a new concept just recently thought up by Barack and the boys.

And just why was it again that Congress put the words "under God" into the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954?  Oh, yes, it was to emphasize Amerika's reliance on God and to differentiate us from the athiest-communists of the USSR.  Oh, and why is it that we have "In God We Trust" as our national motto?  I guess it's because we're a "secular" nation.

Yeah, right.  Get over yourself Deano.  For every one of your wise ass points, I can find a counter.

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By D. E. Carson on November 07, 2008 at 02:56 am

Aw, geez, I just spotted my typo above.  I meant to say, "Then of course there is 'Thou shall not steal'  Hmmm...still haven't left the Ten Commandments and I'm still finding laws on books in all 50 states about this one."

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By D. E. Carson on November 07, 2008 at 12:17 pm

Deano:  Whatever...

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By D. E. Carson on November 08, 2008 at 12:38 am

JG: Actually, it's OT.  As is the old sacrifical system.  If Christians were still living under the sacrifical system, we would be slaughtering lambs every so often.  You see, Deano is making an ass of himself because he does not understand the Bible.  Of course, he will no doubt, further illustrate his lack of understanding when he reads this by continuing to push his obnoxious comments.  When I said to him "Whatever", I was effectively saying that my conversation with him is over because he clearly has no understanding and that any further attempt to explain the Bible to him is like trying to teach a pig to sing.

You, JG seem to have some understanding.  You're right, there is no place in Christianity for slavery, nor is there any place for the sacrificial system.  When Jesus died on the cross, the sacrificial system and all of the tenets that went along with it were declared null and void as symbolized by the tearing of the great curtain in the temple.  They remain in the Bible to remind future generations of God's plan.  Everything in the OT was a lead up to the crucifixion of Christ.  BUT, and this is a very important but, that did not mean that God says things are now okay that once weren't okay.  To take Deano's example, is slavery morally wrong?  Sure, but God never said he condemned the slaves.  His own people (the Jews) were slaves many times over throughout the history of the Bible.  God doesn't approve of slavery, but he also commands the slave to remain in service to his master unless and until the master decides to release the slave.  God will not fault the slave for the slavery, but he will hold the slave master accountable.  Sadly, there were those who used the Bible to justify slavery.  Those people were misguided.  But honestly, the Bible is very clear that ALL forms of sexual immorality are wrong.  There is no misreading that at all.

Now for one final point of clarification.  There were tenets of the OT that were required before a Jew could visit the temple.  The person had to be "cleansed" before he could go to the temple.  Many things were considered acts of uncleanliness and would prevent a person from going to temple.  These things were put into place as a means of ensuring that the person going to temple was of a pure heart.  God made those people go through those rituals and rules so that they would remember that in order to appeal to God, they needed to be ready.  When Jesus died on the cross the old sacrifical system was eliminated.  The tearing of the massive curtain in the temple signified two things: 1) God was no longer set apart from man, that a permanent liaison had been established in Jesus so man could come to God through Jesus without the cleansing process and 2) the tearing of the curtain was a symbol of great and tragic loss in the Jewish community.  When a father lost his son, he would tear his own clothing as a sign of mourning.  The tearing of the great curtain was God tearing an article of clothing as a sign of mourning the death of Jesus.  As a result of the end of the sacrificial system, old rules about women on their periods, not eating certains kinds of meat among others (these temple rules) were negated.  So most of the ranting and raving Deano is doing is stuff that was part of the old temple rules and since Jesus died, those rules no longer apply.  Those rules were different from God's morality laws.  The destruction of Soddom and Gomorrah had nothing to do with temple rules -- in fact that happened before there were the temple rules OR the Ten Commandments -- but it had everything to do with the immorality of mankind.  Same for Noah and the Ark.  Happened before the temple rules and the Ten Commandments, but were a direct result of the immorality of the world -- go ahead Deano, it's in the book of Genesis, look it up.  The temple rules were for God's people to show themselves as separate from the rest of the world.  The negating of the temple rules shows God's approval of the commandments given by Jesus and to establish Jesus' authority as the high priest for all mankind.

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By D. E. Carson on November 08, 2008 at 06:58 pm

Hey Deano: try reading 2 Corinthians Chapter 3 S-L-O-W-L-Y.  My point about the Bible is spelled out right there in the words of the Apostle Paul.  It was Paul, not me, who spelled out those things that are null and void and why.  I'm just paraphrasing.  You, on the other hand are the one who is misinterpreting everything.

But then you come from a Southern Baptist mentality.  That alone explained so much of your bloviating.  Therefore, don't be surprised if I don't respond to you any more on this topic.  Say what you want, but I have 2 Corinthians 3 to back me up.

Enjoy talking to yourself!

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By D. E. Carson on November 08, 2008 at 07:19 pm

JG:  It was indeed Paul who expanded Christianity to the Gentiles, however, in the Book of Acts, there is the one scene where Peter has the vision of the great sheet being lowered from heaven.  In that sheet are all the animals of the earth and Peter is commanded to "kill and eat".  Many fundamentalists like to preach that this was a message to Peter that he was to spread the gospel to all people, Jewish or not.  Jesus had instructed his disciples to go to all nations, but many of them wouldn't even leave Jerusalem!  It took some serious persecution to scare them out of Jerusalem to get them to start going elsewhere.  Even Paul (as Saul) was used to push the disciples out of their comfort zone.  Then when the time was right, Jesus met Saul on the road to Damascus.  Saul had his conversion, changed his name to Paul and he began preaching to everyone, Jewish or not.  The Pauline letters of the Bible are a very interesting expose on what Christianity is supposed to be.  It is Chapter Three of Paul's second letter to the church at Corinth that backs up what I was saying to Category Five about the old and new covenants.  It explains that what was written in the old covenant (testament) with God that was established through Moses had faded away and the new covenant with God was established through Jesus.  You are also correct in your assessment that the OT was kept around to establish the validity of Jesus' authority and proper title as Messiah.  In turn, it is the OT that validates the NT even as the NT superscedes the OT.

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By D. E. Carson on November 08, 2008 at 07:43 pm

I just can't let this one get by without a rebuttal.  Nevermind that I give absolutely NO credibility to the Catholic Church -- the only Christian denomination whose name actually originates from the same word from which we get "community" but that denies anyone who isn't Catholic the opportunity to take communion in their church.  The same denomination that does not allow its members to have Bibles in the church itself because the only Bible allowed in a Catholic Church is the one sitting on the altar -- at least when I was imprisoned in Catholic School back in the 70's that was the case.  I have had no reason to ever darken the threshhold of a Catholic Church since I escaped after 6th grade so if they've changed that little rule, I'm actually shocked.

"I heard, on NPR, a Catholic scholar talking about how the New Testament verse on homosexuality was added to the Bible some 500 years after Jesus' death. I'd have to look that one up to prove it, but, that is what I heard."

Yeah, Deano, you'd better go and go quickly...the NT passage about homosexuality was written in the book of Romans by Paul around the year 57 A.D.  Another one was written, again by Paul, to Timothy.  The passage 1 Timothy 1:9-10 "knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine." was written about seven years later in 64 A.D.

Yeah, I think your NPR preacher friend is a hack.  There's quite a bit of time difference between 57 & 64 A.D. and "500 years after Jesus' death".  And yes, as a matter of fact I AM questioning the authority of someone who calls himself a Catholic scholar -- but if and only if he really said that.  If what you say is true, then he's an idiot and he's given me further reason not to trust anything that comes out of the Catholic Church.  If you misunderstood him then you've just made an ass out of yourself again.  Laugh all you want.  This really will be my last response to you on this topic.

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By D. E. Carson on November 08, 2008 at 08:02 pm

JG: not a problem. I see that you wrote your response while I was finishing up my last words to Category Five.  In that post I actually point out two statements about homosexuality that appear in the NT.  They were made about seven years apart by Paul.  One is in Romans 2:28-32 and the other is 1 Timothy 1:9-10.

You are right, though, Jesus himself never specifically addresses homosexuality.  The closest is his commentary on commiting adultery, but there he only talks about men having lust in their heart for women to whom they are not married is the same as going all the way -- Matthew 5:27-28.  Some could construe that to imply that Jesus forbade homosexuality completely because he specifically says, "but I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has alrady committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matt 5:28, emphasis added).  I make no such conclusions.  But that Jesus didn't specifically address the issue doesn't mean he condones it either.

I suppose, JG, that you are right that if no concensus has been reached in a thousand years, none can be reached here.  But that should not stop us from having an intelligent discussion, which I believe you and I have had.  I thank you for the discussion.  It has been quite refreshing to be able to explain myself without having to worry if I'm offending someone.  I appreciate your open mind to our discussion.

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By D. E. Carson on November 08, 2008 at 08:18 pm

HEY!  What happened to Julian's post to me that sparked my last response?  It was just here and now it's gone -- completely gone.  Not just voted down into oblivion, I mean like it was completely removed from the site.  That's not fair to Julian!!!  He made a very valid point and now it has gone missing.

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