Born again‽ No, I'm not. Excuse me for getting it right the first time.
I'm a bit late getting to Bob's latest couple of dribblings, not having noticed he'd posted them. (My own fault. I've been having fun with Thunderbird of late, and in a tidying-up exercise, I deleted the RSS feeds of a few blogs which seem to have deceased; in the course of which I deleted Bob's by mistake.) This is in response to the first of the two, The New Birth.
I'll dispense with his preamble, and get straight into his major points…
1. Why is the New Birth necessary?
It is necessary because we are, in our natural state, dead in trespasses and sins (see Ephesians 2 v 1). This speaks for itself; there is no spiritual life in people who do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. This is why they consider the claims of Christ to be irrelevant and not important enough to give any thought to. Moreover, those who die in that state of spiritual deadness are under God's condemnation for all eternity.
No, Bob, we consider Jesus's claims—or those made on his behalf—to be the son and representative of a god, unevidenced. Until we see extraordinary evidence in support of this highly extraordinary claim, we will, indeed, consider those claims irrelevant. In fact, Bob, you yourself treat, for instance, Mohammed's and the Pope's claims to be the sole Earthly representative of your god in exactly the same fashion, so please don't pretend you don't understand this point.
2. What is the operation of the New Birth?
In other words, how does it happen? It happens when the Holy Spirit of God comes upon people and gives them new life. It cannot be explained, but needs to be experienced (ie. better felt than telt). I experienced this, in my own life, in September 1975 when I got saved. Millions of people all over the world, over the last 2 millenia, [sic] have also experienced the same phenomena. The Bible likens it to a wind which cannot be seen but it's [sic] effects are clearly visible (see John 3 v 8).
People have been experiencing holy transcendence, whether real, imagined, or a mixture of both (the feeling may be, and usually is, real, even if the cause is misattributed) for way longer than two thousand years, Bob. In fact, your own Biblical Abraham underwent such an epiphany, and would (according to answers in genesis' discussion of the literal dating I assume you adhere to) have lived, at the earliest, somewhere around four thousand years ago.
Which, yeah, I know Bob would claim that anyone having such feelings prior to Christ having lived and delivered his message (even Abraham‽) was basically mistaken. And that's my point. Why should I believe your feelings to represent reality, Bob, when you yourself claim that others who've had seemingly identical feelings are mistaken? If you cannot show me a difference between X and Y, then my first and best assumption is going to be that X and Y are, in fact the same thing. Which means I must assume that all gods who such feelings are attributed to are real, or that they're all imaginary. Given the lack of any evidence shown apart from these feelings, and given that these feelings cannot be shown to be attributable to a real, rather than imaginary, god, we're still left with a lack of useful evidence.
If that seemed a bit wordy, here's the simplified version. What actual difference can you show me, Bob, between your feeling of being in touch with a divine being and that you are right about which book describes that being, and the equally sincere belief of a Muslim, a Hindu or a Pagan that they are in touch with the divine and that they are right about who that being is?
3. What is the condition of the New Birth?
The answer is found in 1st John 5 v 1 where we read that "everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God". When we come to the realisation that we are lost sinners, that Jesus died for our sins and rose again, and we truly repent and accept Him, then we are Born Again. God brings us to newness of life. The Bible puts it like this: "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" 2nd Corinthians 5 v 17.
Personally, I think that "original sin" is one of the most abhorrent doctrines I know of. The idea that a person's mere existence warrants punishment and abuse, and needs atoning for, is, after all, the basis of such lovely world-views as racism and misogyny.
Also, I see nothing laudable about a being—if it even exists—who would create us in a state for which they will then punish us, and then make release from that punishment contingent upon believing in their own existence, which they at they same time make no effort to provide believable evidence for, but leave it up to personal faith.
And nor do I believe that another person, be they the son of the Almighty or not, can atone for my actions, whether they endure death by torture on a Roman cross or do two weeks' community service picking up litter. If I do something wrong, then it is I who needs to attempt to put that wrong right. Whether that earns me forgiveness from the person I've wronged is another matter, and is entirely up to the wronged person to decide, but it will quite justifiably be my attempts to atone, not those of a third party, which they will base that decision on. That is a moral standard which, allegedly, your god has instilled in me. If I judge his idea of what constitutes atonement in the light of that standard, he has only himself to blame if I judge him to be a hypocritical, amoral wanker.
4. What is the result of the New Birth? I've already alluded to this in the previous paragraph when mentioning the new life we experience. We are also adopted into God's family; we become His children (see John 1 v 11-13). Many people believe that we are all naturally God's children but this is not the case. We are all, naturally, the devil's children; but when we get saved then, and only then, do we become the children of God through faith in Christ.
This premise is nothing but fantasy, even by Biblical-inerrancy standards. "We are all, naturally, the devil's children"? Give me chapter and verse for that please. Show me where Satan created Adam and Eve. Show me the Christian prayer which begins "Our father, who art in Hell, Cursed be thy name." (And no, anticipating the obvious response, 1 John 3:8 does not imply that we are all children of the devil. It does not say that all who are "born in sin" (Ugh!) are of the devil, but only that those who actively commit sin are of the devil.)
All in all, Bob, you've said little here that you haven't said many times before, you've made no attempt to address objections people have made time and time again to these assertions, and the one new point you've made doesn't even appear to be supported by the scripture you claim to be inerrant. Poor work. Very poor.
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