I havent been on here a while but I feel now is the time to unload. So I unfortunately ended up in an argument with my brother the other day about religion (bad move I know). All of my family are catholics apart from my brothers who have been brainwashed by my future sister in law and are now Pentecostal....for now anyway, they change a lot.
So my husband found the 'good news' magazine next to my brothers bed the other day with an article about Darwin and how his theory of evolution has caused cataclysmic devestation in the world, eg the nazis using this theory etc.
My husband felt sick reading it and I was absolutely devistated. To think my so called 'intelligent' brother who also studied philosophy, is reading this BS!!!
I have never felt so isolated from my family as I am now and my relationship with my brothers is now so uncomfortable, I do feel very judged and alone. I know there is no point trying to reason with them as I feel they are too far gone so to speak.
Has anyone else been through something similar? what were your experiences? any advice? did your story turn out good or not?
what about the Darwin theory? has anyone ever challenged you on this or you challenged them?
Any input back would be a great help and a great shoulder to cry on guys.
thanks very much in advance as I know you hear this kind of shit a lot.
Some books I would recommend, that really lay out the strong genetic evidence for human evolution: two books by Daniel Fairbanks: (1) RELICS OF EDEN: THE POWERFUL EVIDENCE OF EVOLUTION IN HUMAN DNA; and (2) EVOLVING: THE HUMAN EFFECT AND WHY IT MATTERS. Also an excellent book by Neil Shuben called YOUR INNER FISH. Not that diehard religionists are persuaded by any scientific evidence, however powerful, but it's still good to know this stuff oneself.
Are you talking about http://goodnewsmag.org/ or http://www.ucg.org/good-news-magazine/?source=direct?
Let me know which one, and I'll have some research for you in the next day or so :)
Well, I just learned a lot about United Methodists and Free Will magazine. Before I get to some specifics in this case, I'd like to share a few general thoughts.
In general, my approach to discussions with believers is to simply try and understand their position. His beliefs confuse you. You'd like to understand, and so quite naturally you're curious about his beliefs.
Lately my thoughts are that monotheism is primarily based on human fear of the unknown in general, with the Christian New Testament taking it to a whole new level by unveiling their latest invention, eternal suffering postmortem (when you have good news, share it, right?).
Also, don't let him use the modifier 'the' when referring to a Bible. There are more versions of the Bible than perhaps any other book. I propose you refer to his particular edition as this Bible, as that Bible, or as his Bible, but never as the Bible.
My last general point is that United Methodism was created right after the American revolution, since Christian American relations with King George Frederick (Head the Church of England) had just become really awkward (not unlike Protestantism being whipped up because the Pope wouldn't give a divorce to Henry VIII, a widely held view of Christianity's history).
1) Gay Marriage and United Methodists in the News!
Good News formally associates with the United Methodists. Just last week, the United Methodists stopped forbidding same sex marriage rituals. Rev. Dr. Thomas W. Ogletree was supposed to face a church trial for performing gay marriage ceremonies, but the United Methodists decided just last week to stop doing so.
Fortunately for us, you're in a position to ask your brother about his stance on gay marriage, Ogletree's averted trial, and of course about his church's infallibility in general. Oh, and Good News magazine states on their website "We are particularly troubled by Bishop Martin McLee’s decision to cease holding any church trials for New York clergy accused of performing same-sex weddings." His church is deeply divided on the issue. See also Bishop Talbert of Nashville, TN, performer of gay marriages, despite being directly forbidden to do so.
Ask your brother which is right, the UM doctrine, or their high clergy's decision to stop punishing disobedient lower clergy? While their internal penal system is admittedly the work of man and not God, these men espouse infallibility. Since 1972, the Book of Discipline has said all people are of sacred worth but “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”
Good News is officially with UM's preachings on this, but clearly against their higher clergy who have gone against their own doctrine regarding the performance of gay marriage. See also Good News' November article on the Rev. Frank Schaefer.
2) Good News President and Publisher, Rob Renfroe
As president and publisher of Good News, Mr. Renfroe wrote in the February edition of his magazine, "... the truth is the status quo of United Methodism is a declining church that will continue to diminish to the point of irrelevancy unless our leaders act to right the ship and steer a new course." (Just to get this out of the way, I immediately thought of what the Lorax told the Once-ler. “Unless”)
There's a lot here. Renfroe is upset about the recent changes in UM. He is disappointed in UM's upper management. Notice how he does not call for the way things used to be, he instead calls for some unidentified “new” course. This begs the question about his thoughts on the old direction. He identifies no new course. For a publisher, he's awfully stingy with information about any thoughts on the new course.
Too easily, you point out to your brother that Renfroe manages in all of his vagarities to still have a confused message. The old way or a new way? Renfroe's disappointment has likely been building for years due to their rapidly declining membership (10 million American followers in 42,000 congregations in 1975, down to 8 million and 34,000 respectively in 2005).
Announcing his church's problems without furnishing solutions (or any optimism for that matter) is pretty bad leadership in my opinion. I think this is a song and dance man who is out of both tune and step. He may need a new title for his magazine.
I was recently referred by someone on this site of a handy compilation of 194 contradictions in the New Testament alone. (my apologies for not citing the member). Here is a great summary which cites chapters and verse of the outright contradictions
To pluck a couple from the list, here are two:
Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Acts 2:21; Rom.10:13.
Not everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Mt.7:21.
Only those whom the Lord chooses will be saved. Acts 2:39.
The last recorded words of Jesus were:
Version 1: “Eli, Eli …My God, My God why have you forsaken me” Mt.27:46.
Version 2: “Eloi, Eloi…My God, My God why have you forsaken me” Mk.15:34.
Version 3: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”. Lk.23:46.
Version 4: “It is finished”. Jn.19:30.
I may caution you against the 'free will' question you're sure to get in reply. Deluded or deceptive people learn to conflate or change the subject when cognitive dissonance surfaces in the mind. God knows all that will happen or he doesn't. Period. If your brother was simply a deist this wouldn't work, but since Good News and United Methodists agree that God is all knowing, your brother must therefore believe that all human suffering can be attributed to God, in this life and beyond. Did God create a world with sin, did God create the devil and eternal suffering? No? Not him? Does God know what you will do next? If so, there is no free will. If he doesn't know, he's isn't omniscient.
He is likely to raise the 'God works in mysterious ways' argument, which is known as a thought terminating cliché in logic and discourse. This is a favorite among believers because you announce that you are incapable of any more thought on the matter, a form of surrender you might say. You might try asking him to verify that he worships that which he does not understand.
It's your brother's cognitive dissonance here, so I suggest being gentle. He, like most of us are all at different stages of recovery from the childhood trauma of celestial boogeyman teachings, and removing this mental malware is not for the feint of heart.
Lastly, you both may benefit from identifying your common ground, on anything. Despite your marked dissension on this particular matter, I'm sure you have many shared interests with him, and these are always worth cultivating.