Patterico's Pontifications


Once Saved, Always Saved

Filed under: General — See Dubya @ 2:16 am

[A post by See Dubya]

Who do you think wrote these words?

Thou art so gentle, true and kind,
So loving, thou dear Saviour of sinners!
Appease my longing,
Let my soul and my thoughts rest in thy love
And remain forever with thee.

Hint: they were originally in German, and it’s not Bach, and it’s not Hitler.
Frederick F’in Nietzsche. I attended several lectures on Nietzsche in college, and wrote a couple of papers on him. I guess I’m not really surprised that this fun factoid about his intense Christian faith at an early age never crept into the collegiate discussion of his works, but I think it should have because it suddenly makes him much more interesting. What happened to this guy along the way between writing poems to Jesus and his raving, syphilitic demise ? I understand losing one’s faith, I understand some people become bitter upon leaving the church, but to say and think the monstrous things he did…

And for him to characterize Christianity as nothing more than the self-righteous passive-aggressive wish for the eternal punishment of your enemies is doubly an insult, because he once knew better.

Strange. Very strange.

–See Dub

18 Responses to “Once Saved, Always Saved”

  1. I believe that N. became incensed with Christianity because Christians stood in the way of knowledge – think Dark Ages. Also, he detested the Christian idea that this world doesn’t matter – it is only the afterlife that does. To him, this was a kind of condemnation of the present world where things could never get better with attitudes like that.

    He also wanted to turn Christian morals (as he understood them to be practiced at the time) on their head. No more being a gentle lamb for him! His message was – Make a difference in the world!

    Psyberian (dd13d6)

  2. Tertiary syphilis often produces profound mental status changes, including paranoia and megalomania, long before general paresis and death. (It is speculated that Henry VIII had syphilis through all six wives along with the infertility that accompanies it.) Even if Nietzsche did not have syphilis, as some claim, his “general paresis” was indisputably a dementia brought about by a physically brain — Alzheimers, mini-strokes, (Huntington’s?), hypothyroidism, etc. In short: “Ecce homo, non compos mentis est”.

    The other problem is that philosophers are out of touch with reality to begin with and they get worse as they get older: “I like philosophy in a young lad; it is thoroughly suitable and a mark of a liberal nature; a lad who neglects philosophy I regard as mean-spirited and never likely to entertain a fine or noble ambition. But when I see an older man still at philosophy and refusing to abandon it, that man seems to me, Socrates, to need a whipping.” (Callicles in Plato’s “Gorgias).

    nk (bfc26a)

  3. Should be “damaged brain” not “physically brain”. Sorry.

    nk (bfc26a)

  4. And for him to characterize Christianity as nothing more than the self-righteous passive-aggressive wish for the eternal punishment of your enemies is doubly an insult, because he once knew better.

    Sorry, Dubya, but as one who also once “knew better,” I have to side with Nietzsche on this one. What else could possess someone to believe that a good, loving deity would punish the objects of his own creation with eternal suffering, just for not belonging to the right clan?

    Xrlq (f52b4f)

  5. Probably a god mischaracterized as you just did.

    sharon (c7018d)

  6. How so? I’m not the one who came up with the idea that God will sentence his own creation to eternal hell if they don’t believe in the right version of God. That’s right out of the Bible.

    Xrlq (f52b4f)

  7. The map is not the terrain.

    Black Jack (d8da01)

  8. X–
    Your objection is not the same as Nietzsche’s. Yours is a question of faith. Nietzsche’s is an attack on the motivations of Christians themselves. Unless you were at a really bizarre and atypical church, I don’t think you could honestly come to the conclusion that Christians are Christians primarily because they enjoy fantasizing about their enemies burning in hell.

    I’m sure there are people like that; but to call that the major attraction of Christianity would be, at best, ignorant. This anecdote about Nietzsche suggests to me that he was not ignorant of Christianity, but knew Christianity and its practioners well, and deliberately distorted the truth about it.

    See Dubya (f3a346)

  9. Fair enough. I’ll grant that while an irrational fear of hell and a rational desire to avoid it are major motivators for many believers to get “saved,” gleefully fantasizing about the results of others NOT being “saved” is not.

    Xrlq (f52b4f)

  10. Right, SeeDub. That must be why Paradisio is so much more well known and widely read than Inferno. 😉

    TNugent (6128b4)

  11. Xrlq: I’ll need a chapter and verse on the eternal hell thing. A lot of what Jesus said sounds a lot like that, but not QUITE.

    Dave Munger (bf6d3b)

  12. Dave, I’m not debating whether eternal hell is a correct or incorrect interpretation of the Xian Bible, I’m merely pointing out that it’s standard doctrine for many Xians, not a libelous invention by their critics.

    Xrlq (65a3e8)

  13. Not to put words in Xrlq’s mouth, but dogma does drown faith. Here’s a joke (maybe):

    Brimstone and hellfire preacher: “… and all the sinners will be cast down into a fiery pit and there will be much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth!”

    Parishioner (timidly): “Parson, what if you don’t have any teeth?”

    Brimstone and hellfire preacher: “Teeth will be provided!”

    nk (138d0e)

  14. The debate of non Christian being saved or not, has been taken further by the Roman Catholic [RC] Church in Vatican II [ 1962-195] . It was a Council attended by 2450 bishops from all over the world, from those entitled to attend, 2908 bishops. It brought the RC to modern day times as compared to Vatican I thinking. The last [Vatican] Council or Vatican I was 1869-1870.

    If we look at the period between these two councils, Vatican I [ 19th century] and Vatican II [20th century], RC priests have gone to four corners of the world, they have interacted with people of other religions, studied other major world religions. Thus one of the documents of Vatican II , namely the Declaration On the Relation to Non-Christian Religions suggests that non Christians are ‘saved’ if they lead a moral life and follow the tenets of their religion. I observed there was some rumbling from some quarters of the RC in Europe who asked, if people from other religion can be saved, then why must they be RC? Thus this document is not so greatly emphasized, and that maybe one of the reasons why it is still the popular idea that Christianity speaks of ‘belief’ and ‘be saved’ and ‘do not believe’ and ‘be damned’. On that note, if a truly principled diligent benevolent well intended considerate conscientious people has no religion, I would think, based on my reasoning, they stand on par, as anyone who leads a moral life according to his or her religion.

    But are people ready for the non exclusive approach? Can understanding of one’s faith stand on reason without the need for this exclusive approach/ implement?

    I have a private thought that the either or approach, ‘belief’ and ‘be saved’ and ‘do not believe’ and ‘be damned’, is a skilful argument tool to persuade one to a wholesome life. For this idea, I draw on the distinction that M Scott Peck draws of people’s different approach to religion or faith, the heart and head approach. Peck thinks majority of the people are wired psychologically for the heart approach and that Christianity is a heart approach. I guess that means you take the leap of faith and jump in, and when you do that, the whole world opens up to you. Your eyes are opened. Then your life as believer begins , which is hard if one wants to follow Christ and be like the salt of the earth and the light of the world [Matthew 5: 13,14].

    It is just like some are not ready for the mythical truth of creation in Genesis and hold onto it as the literal truth. Others are ready to let go of it as literal truth and affirm the mythical truth and the profound insights behind the myth, not a lessening of faith but a deepening of in accord with reason. On this, I gather the RC permits two interpretations of the creation story in Genesis, one as literal truth and the other as mythical truth. In accord with the mythical truth, RC priests who also serve full time as cosmologists and man the RC church astronomical observatories, take full cognizance of recent developments in the science of cosmology. As a Theravada Buddhist, I once enquired from a RC priest, whether there have been any Big Bangs before the Big Bang we know of 15-20 billion years ago. He replied there is no evidence of earlier Big Bangs before the one we know of. I append his reply below. It is from a RC priest in USA. Likewise, when I see liberals trumping the creationists because of today’s New York Times report of the transitional fish, is like a futile act of punching into the air, a useless act, when I just think of the RC advancement and agreement with evolutionary theories to a point, drawing the difference between material perspective and spiritual perspective. [From the Vatican, 22nd October 1996 ] In other words, the marches that science makes in evolution and origin of life, are not faith shattering events any more, but faith affirmation events with reason, a widening and deepening of reason based faith.

    I think one of the gift of life or God’s gift, is reason….

    “I now have a few minutes to answer your questions about cosmology and about multiple Big Bangs. We really do not know if there were other Big Bangs before the one that took place about 15 billion years ago. The reason we do not know, is because there is absolute no possibility of detecting any signals which would give us information about times earlier than the Big Bang from which our observable universe issued. All information about other Big Bangs earlier (if indeed there were any) was wiped out before our Big Bang, and information about possible Big Bangs elsewhere in reality — outside our universe — is simply not accessible.
    Most cosmologists and specialists in this area of science, however, do now feel that it is somewhat unlikely that our observable universe suffered Big Bangs before the one we know happened. This because the entropy density, or measure of disorder, in our observable universe would probably be higher than it actually is, if other Big Bangs had been part of our history; and even more because it now seems that our universe will expand for ever and not collapse. Evidence is emerging that it does not possess enough matter to slow the expansion rate and induce collapse… in fact the expansion may be gently accelerating! That means it is very hard to imagine how there could have been enough matter and energy have earlier Big Bangs and collapses, if there is not enough now. Finally, we really do not know how the Big Bang itself was initiated — it could not have been just a single explosion as we normally think of that, and it could not have occurred within a pre-existing space. It itself generated space and time — and in a sense was a manifold of many events taking place simultaneously.
    From this you can see that there is not likely to be an evidence any time soon for earlier Big Bangs. If there is, it would create a real revolution in cosmology. At present it is very difficult to imagine what evidence would demonstrate this — what to look for.
    From a theoretical point of view, it is easy to see that Big Bangs in completely different observable universes could occur. However, it is clear that if they did, there is no scientific possibility — as we presently understand that — of every detecting them, or detecting the universes in which they occurred.
    What I have given you here is the standard answer most in the cosmological community would give you. I hope it helps a little bit!
    Again, all the very best — and my prayers, especially at the Eucharist!
    In Christ,”

    Yi-Ling (80c56d)

  15. The idea that Christians are saved to avoid Hell, or that they enjoy the idea that those who don’t believe as they do is a Satanic perversion of Christianity. It is as far from a factual assertion as evil is from good.

    Christians are Christians because they recognize that human nature is imperfect since the fall in Eden at the time of Adam and Eve. God formed a Covenant with Abraham, but man did not live up to it. God wants fellowship with man, and cannot have fellowship because man’s sin gets in the way.

    Jesus Christ came to atone for the sin of man. Blood Atonement is required, and a new Covenant was formed between man and God. All that is required for man to have fellowship with God in the new Covenant is that he believe in the deity, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The believer is in a state of Grace that is open to all mankind. There are no exclusions, except that man has free will, and he may choose not to have fellowship with God.

    To a believer, Hell is spiritual separation from God.

    A believer perceives all non-believers as pretty much in Hell already, and we work to spread the gospel to relieve spiritual suffering. Before death, unbelievers have a chance to change their estrangement from God, and if they do not, it is not the evil of God, but the stubborn pride of man. Man may damn himself eternally with his own free will, but he cannot save himself.

    To force your opinion of justice on God that he have mercy on all whether they want it or not – is to deny mankind free will. Some people just don’t want to be saved – God gave them free will and that is their choice. How is it God’s fault if He has sacrificed His only son, sent His messengers, and delivered the message only to have people pervert the message.

    While we enjoy the fellowship of believers, it is the fellowship of God that draws Christians to the faith not the fear of Hell.

    If you don’t believe in Christ and are lost – you damn yourself. Don’t blame God.

    Kathy (c02b80)

  16. The idea that Christians are saved to avoid Hell, or that they enjoy the idea that those who don’t believe as they do is a Satanic perversion of Christianity. It is as far from a factual assertion as evil is from good.

    Really? So when Christians run around bragging about having been “saved,” what exactly are the claiming to have been “saved” from? AIDS? The next tsunami or 9-11 attack? Walter Cronkite? Be specific.

    There are no exclusions, except that man has free will, and he may choose not to have fellowship with God.

    Free will doesn’t enable anybody to know the unknowable. The best a person can do seeking fellowship with God is the methodological equivalent of throwing a dart at a dartboard to guess which version of God to have a series of one-way conversations with. If you land in the Islam area, too bad; by worshipping the wrong version of God you might as well have rejected God altogether. Even if you are lucky enough to have your dart land in the Christ area, that still may not be good enough, as you could end up praying to/through the wrong version of Chrsit, e.g., you may end up a Mormon, a Gnostic, a Jehovah’s Witness, a Christian Scientist, or a Jew still waiting in vain for the “real” Messiah to come. If any of those misfortunes befall you, too bad, so sad – you’re just as screwed as the guy who missed the dartboard completely and became an atheist – or even as screwed as the rare bird who, by accident of birth, knew exactly which version God to seek fellowship with and, acting purely out of spite, willfully chose not to.

    Before death, unbelievers have a chance to change their estrangement from God, and if they do not, it is not the evil of God, but the stubborn pride of man.

    Either that, or a mortal human being’s simple inability to ascertain the metaphysical, coupled with a God who knows all, won’t tell, and instead sentences most of his own creation to eternal suffering for failing to guess correctly. But he loves them, don’t forget that.

    How is it God’s fault if He has sacrificed His only son, sent His messengers, and delivered the message only to have people pervert the message.

    I don’t blame God for making that crap up. I blame the people who made it up millennia ago, and the credulous dupes who parrot it today as though there were any real evidence it was true. Although I will say this: if God (an actual, existing, all-knowing, all-powerful and all-good deity, as opposed to some human concept or abstraction) were actually behind this, and were actually fixin’ to judge the objects of his own creation not according to how good or evil they were in life, but merely according to their ability to guess who he is, dontcha think he might have given us a little more guidance to help us discern which minority of his self-proclaimed spokesmen really do speak for him, and which of them are lying? That doesn’t seem like all that much to ask of a just God. If you’re conceding that God is not just, all bets are off.

    Xrlq (51d90f)

  17. The fun part about these comments is that all the commenters here, although admittedly lacking his superlative wordsmithing and rhetorical skills, are more sane and sensible than the guy who started the discussion. (NO!!! Not See Dubya. I mean Nietzsche.) Not too long ago, Law Professor Kate Litvak commented at Prawfsblawg that the Soviets “treated” unrepetentant religious people as insane in their asylums. But if you consider sanity to be a normative thing (i.e. think like most people do), then you must agree that the irreligious are the ones who are insane. Now, and for all known history, the majority of people do and did embrace one religion or another. Which is the right one? If any? Those questions have nothing to do with religion. Religion is purely belief. Any sincerely held belief is necessarily exclusive and intolerant of all others.

    nk (ca8012)

  18. I read # 16 and my heart feels soft and smiles. I read # 17 and my mind seeks to explain or seek explanation of how we perceive and experience the world. I read # 15 and wonder how far the journey is for the writer to consider RC who reject ID as science, if such a journey should be made. This is in the wake of the several cases whether in court or possibly going to enter court, where the school board introduced Intelligent Design in the high school science syllabus, to have to it declared unconstitutional by the court, in the case from Dover, because, the court decided that ID is not science.

    ID: I must confess I did think ID was or can be considered science till I read this article from this Jesuit priest, head of the Vatican Astronomical Observatory. I do not have the luxury of time to pursue the study of science myself to the degree that I can independently evaluate ID but did consider doing so at one time. Even though I was pleased with the Holy Father’s encyclical of 1996 that there are several theories of evolution, I was also taken aback by the possible steeping back by the new Pope, and the Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schonborn [of Vienna] , and thus am pleased with the recent critic of the said Cardinal’s position. This clear divide between science and religion and asking science to be seen as neutral and not to impose atheistic or theistic implications on science, is fair and reasonable and sensible.

    For example when the experiment of making life like forms from protein is supposedly taught, some teach an ancillary science concept that therefore life did not need God. This is what I consider erroneous and unfair teaching of atheistic implications. I think it should be left to the student to think whether the implications are theistic or atheistic, and maybe, if there are any ancillary science concepts to be drawn, it should be drawn both ways. That then does not undermine the student’s faith.

    While I am a non theist which means I belong to a religion that has no concept of God, that God does not play any role in my religious philosophy, I recognize for many people it does, and am mindful of it, if it meets their needs. I am mindful because having my own faith, and seeing the benefits of it, I realize that other people’s faith can also bring benefits to them, and aid their personal growth and development, and give them direction and comfort and hope, and nurturing their faith, will then aid their development and growth.

    For a child, learning to stretch his intellectual muscles, if his faith as taught at home and in Church, gives him a view of life, that gives meaning to his life and helps him be good and strive to do more for God, than helping him keep his faith in a matured way, without compromising his intellectual development, is a good thing. If more of our children in high school keep their faith, without being challenged by science in such a way as to destroy their faith, before they are able to understand the more matured form of faith, than that is direct impact of a positive type on their growth and development to adulthood.

    If a child grows up as an atheist, and if he likes that and is comfortable with it, then nurturing his atheist faith in accord with science, and the possible atheistic implications of science is good for him. If theism is a belief, so is atheism and so is non theism or deism or poly theism, ….

    Anyway I have side tracked. What I wanted to say is why I would accept the word of the RC priest who says ID is not science. RC has the financial means to fund the science education & science career of its priests to be full time scientists. The RC priest, Father George V. Coyne, director of the Vatican Observatory, is a Jesuit priest, an order known for their scholarship. They have the word S.J. at the end of their name, which stands for Society of Jesus, founded by Ignatius of Loyola. Thus George V. Coyne is written as George V. Coyne S.J. Tel: (520) 795-1918 in Tucson or 39-06-698 85266 in Rome
    E-Mail: .

    One could say that most of the staff in the Vatican Observatory are Jesuits as they have S.J. at the end of their name. So Father Coyne born 1933 would be 73 years old now and he joined priesthood of the Society of Jesus to be a Jesuit priest at the age of 18. So here we have a youth who aspired to be a scholar a scientist for God in RC tradition and went about his scholastic studies for the love of God and to serve God. I do not think his views that ID is not science , is because he is Left or a closet liberal but because he understands science as well as he understands theology and knows that the science can complement theology without compromising it, and that God is better understood and served by recognizing that ID is not science. Anyway, that is my provisional view that ID is not science based on his statement of advice, and when my husband and I get the chance, we will see if we can speak to him or any of his staff to understand the subject better. Life is too full of things to verify everything and with some things, one makes provisional views based on one’s understanding, in this case, the scholastic abilities of Jesuit priests generally, and that of the Jesuit community manning the Vatican Observatory.

    Coyne, born January 19, 1933, in Baltimore, Maryland, completed his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and his licentiate in philosophy at Fordham University, New York City, in 1958. He carried out a spectrophotometric study of the lunar surface for the completion of his doctorate in astronomy at Georgetown University in 1962. He spent the summer of 1963 doing research at Harvard University, the summer of 1964 as a National Science Foundation lecturer at the University of Scranton, and the summer of 1965 as visiting research professor at the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.
    A member of the Society of Jesus since the age of 18, he completed the licentiate in sacred theology at Woodstock College, Woodstock, Maryland, and was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1965. Coyne was visiting assistant professor at the UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) in 1966-67 and 1968-69, and visiting astronomer at the Vatican Observatory in 1967-68. He joined the Vatican Observatory as an astronomer in 1969 and became an assistant professor at the LPL in 1970. In 1976 he became a senior research fellow at the LPL and a lecturer in the UA Department of Astronomy. The following year he served as Director of the UA’s Catalina Observatory and as Associate Director of the LPL.
    Coyne became Director of the Vatican Observatory in 1978, and also Associate Director of the UA Steward Observatory. During 1979-80 he served as Acting Director and Head of the UA Steward Observatory and the Astronomy Department. As Director of the Vatican Observatory he has been a driving force in several new educational and research initiatives. He spends five months of the year in Tucson as adjunct professor in the University of Arizona Astronomy Department. Among his honors has been the naming of a comet after him.
    Coyne’s research interests have been in polarimetric studies of various subjects including the interstellar medium, stars with extended atmospheres and Seyfert galaxies, which are a group of spiral galaxies with very small and unusually bright star like centers. (Polarimetry is the technique of measuring or analyzing the polarization of light. When light rays exhibit different properties in different directions, the light is said to be polarized.) Most recently he has been studying the polarization produced in cataclysmic variables, or interacting binary star systems that give off sudden bursts of intense energy, and dust about young stars. He is an active member of the International Astronomical Union, the American Astronomical Society, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, the American Physical Society and the Optical Society of America.

    Now that I have got this ID out of the way, I think it is important for reason based faith so that it can go further than be shattered, when one comes to intellectually understand stuff that are inherently at conflict with non reason based faith. As to beliefs, the hidden benefits of major world religions, is that they offer an over arching view of life, that has a hidden spring that enables one to weather hard times and circumstances with meaning. I guess with atheism, one has to search for the hidden spring oneself and while it releases a kind of raw energy and no holds barred, to achieve results in this world as this is the only life it requires one to have greater faith in living, and it makes one work harder to find meaning and purpose. Over dinner, I posed a question to my husband what he would do if there were ten men and a chicken on board a boat in open sea and lost and without food and drink. He knew I was asking do we kill the chicken. He said, if he is not attached to the bird, he could kill it for food. He has a bird that is now 25 years old and loves to feed birds. He was feeding pigeons in San Francisco and some sea gulls came and they pushed the pigeons out. He managed to get the sea gulls to wait their turn, from a distance, to be fed and not to push the pigeons away. For me, I guess I would not kill the chicken even if my life depended it, unless I have a child and I need to feed the child because I think the child has his life to lead, but if he is 30+ then I would not kill the chicken either for him. From your point of view it is a belief and an irrational one, but I guess we are all willing to die for some thing whether it is to fight a war to defend the nation, or in self defence of life. But my husband asked me, you are eating chicken now. I had used pressure cook to cook chicken slices and carrots and onions. I said I did not kill the chicken. I said, ideally I would like to be vegetarian, so that I can be more consistent, but that health books say it is good to take fish for the heart and I want to make sure we have fish for health reasons and you say, taking fish too much is not good and so I balance it with chicken and pork. At the end of the day, belief, or not, what matters is what meaning we find in life, and whether we feel or think we are moving towards it, so that when our head touch the pillow on our death bed, we can say, “Well I have really lived this life as I wanted to and hand on my heart, it has been a meaningful journey a purposeful one. I have accomplished what I came to earth for!” But whatever the meaning, just as we mankind discovered fire 700,000 years ago and have come a long way to develop ourselves and understand the world around us, we too should not neglect the science of today and consider ID science because our faith tells us so. We need reason to evaluate that and to fulfill the potential within us.

    Yi-Ling (00ed2f)

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