Wednesday, March 09, 2011

1 Chron 12:32 report, 69: Escape and recovery from life dominating sins in New Sodom

[HEADS UP UPDATE, Sept 30: I believe this and related posts are under hostile scrutiny, given posts I put up over the past few days here and here; in the contexts of:
(i) a recent outrageous attempt to threaten a Christian Coffee house in the UK for displaying on a TV a video deemed "offensive" to homosexuals under the Public Order Act, namely, a Bible reading video

(ii) the imposition of the Montserrat Constitution Order 2010 which unwisely enshrines "sexual orientation" -- dangerously vague -- as a protected right, 

(iii) the just announced recent publication of a peer reviewed study [more details here] on spiritually motivated changes in sexual orientation that underscores that moral-spiritual effort can and does in a significant proportion of cases, as a matter of credible fact, actually change sexual orientation and behaviour.  
I therefore draw attention to key resources here and here [Warning, not for the faint of heart or stomach], for those wanting a fresh and well informed view on the subject not controlled by the unfortunate ideologisation of psychological science that has been ongoing since the 1970's. KF 11:09:30]

 _______

In one of the adverse comments on a previous post in the capacity-building focus series for this blog, J observed (anecdotally) as follows on two homosexuals in churches:
I certainly know of at least a couple of gay friends who were members of the church, and certainly had suicidal tendencies, not only because of the perceived severity of their "sin", but the complete lack of efficacy in treatment (one went regularly for "exorcism" which as you might imagine made no difference).


In both these cases the people eventually left their respective churches and are now in long-term relationships and are psychologically thriving and productive people.
 Now, of course the immediate suggestion is that spiritual support is ineffective in changing homosexual habituation, and contributes to a tendency to suicidal depression. The proposed solution is to encourage the homosexuals in their behaviour; never mind that the evidence is that such behaviours are associated with a pattern of unstable relationships and the loss of 20+ years of life expectancy, and that there is a serious moral cloud hanging over the behaviour pattern.

In addition, as was pointed out in my response to this comment, the balance of evidence is that the dramatically higher suicide rate is directly connected to the instability of homosexual relationships -- indeed, those "long-term [homosexual] relationships" tend to be very open to third party involvements and short term flings and by that openness, will tend to be unstable -- and it therefore occurs in very supportive environments as well as "unsupportive" ones:
In the OP, I started with a link to remarks on the pornography plague. In the next post on it, I put a link to a memorial on deaths in that industry. Deaths that largely come from a poisonous nexus of bizarre sexual behaviour, drugs, drink, violence, depression and suicide.


But,our age is so depraved that porn "stars" are not seen for the victims they are, and producers are not prosecuted as abusers and rapists for profit.


With that comparison point in hand, it is unsurprising to see that there is a parallel pattern to the homosexual sub culture, one that is actually seen -- cf. here and here -- as independent of whether societies are strongly supportive of homosexuals or not.


What is driving the high suicide rate pattern? The first linked, remarks:
>>Saghir and Robins (1978) examined reasons for suicide attempts among homosexuals and found that if the reasons for the attempt were connected with homosexuality, about 2/3 were due to breakups of relationships --not outside pressures from society.


Bell and Weinberg (1981) also found the major reason for suicide attempts was the breakup of relationships. In second place, they said, was the inability to accept oneself. Since homosexuals have greater numbers of partners and breakups, compared with heterosexuals, and since longterm gay male relationships are rarely monagamous, it is hardly surprising if suicide attempts are proportionally greater. The median number of partners for homosexuals is four times higher than for heterosexuals (Whitehead and Whitehead 1999, calculated from Laumann et al 1994).


A good general rule of thumb is that suicide attempts are about three times higher for homosexuals. Could there be a connection between those two percentages?


Another factor in suicide attempts would be the compulsive or addictive elements in homosexuality (Pincu, 1989 ) which could lead to feelings of depression when the lifestyle is out of control (Seligman 1975).>>
Surprise. Not.


(Indeed, the articles show that pattern holds as well in countries that are strongly supportive of homosexuals. In short, homosexuality is deeply intertwined with several destructive pathologies, and arguably is itself a pathology. If we really care we will try to rescue these people.)
However, the issue is, how can we build capacity in the church to support people in turning away from destructive patterns of behaviour like homosexual involvement, pornography, promiscuity, drink and drugs? [All of which, by the way tend to be strongly associated and are mutually reinforcing.]

1 --> A key first step is to recall Jesus' remark on the limitations of exorcism, in the further context of a wicked, adulterous generation that demanded signs from God on their own terms:
 Matt 12:38 . . .  some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.”


 39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one[e] greater than Jonah is here. 42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.
   43 “When an evil[f] spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.” [NIV]

2 --> Immediately, if we are to have resurrection, transforming power in our lives, ministries and service, we must first recognise the sign of Jonah, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, with 500+ witnesses. In the first aspect, this is because that is the only authorised offer of proof for the gospel; indeed, it is the key warranting argument for the truth and power of the Christian faith. Two  helpful (and eye-opening) audio/video sequences begin here:


 

and here:


 Also this Habermas-Flew debate on the resurrection:

 

3 --> It is also the pivot for confident faith in God's promises and power that opens us up to the transforming power of the gospel that fills and transforms our lives:
Eph 1: 15 . . .  ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[f] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.[NIV]
4 --> By contrast, Jesus tells us that if one simply stops at being set free for the moment from demonic bondage, when the binding spirit returns, if it finds its place unoccupied, it will return, with more force than ever. Exorcism -- as many thousands of successfully transformed lives confirm --  is not enough; we have to replace the former habits, occupations and patterns with new ones that fill our lives, minds and souls with a new Spirit.

5 --> And, we must fortify ourselves for the return visit of the former spiritual oppressors, so that they will find a house not only cleaned up and occupied, but strongly garrisoned and vigilant; with on-call "fireman" spiritual support.

6 --> Indeed, that is exactly what the much maligned (and now astonishingly hard to find) Robert Spitzer study presented to the APA in 2001, and published in 2003 confirms. In effect, through a process of some years of effort [note below, how Spitzer notes that the pivotal point with especially thought patterns takes about two years of diligent effort], significant change is possible, especially through spiritual transformation in a supportive environment. As Dr Spitzer said in a 2004 interview with Throckmorton:
it was a study of 200 people who had been homosexually oriented. In
order to get into the study, they had to have had at least five years of a change, where they had previously been predominately homosexual, now are predominately heterosexual. What we learned was that the changes that were recorded were not just in behavior, but were in their feelings, their fantasies, what attracted them, and how they performed sexually. So it was a very meaningful change for the great majority . . . . it was not a study of how often they can make that change, but it was a study of whether there are some people who can make a change in more than just how they view themselves, but also in their fantasies, in their arousal. I developed a very systematic structured interview which I think is much more methodologically sound tha[n] in previous studies . . . What we found was that there were some significant changes. We also sent questionnaires to many of the people who were married, and we also had questionnaires on marital adjustment to their spouses. And they, by and large, reported quite good functioning . . . .


Now the real issue, or one of the major issues is can you believe these people?


And the study has been criticized on the grounds of, well, these are people who had a particular viewpoint and what they're doing is justifying their claims that they have made, either lied or deceived themselves. So one of the major criticisms is that, well, ok, these have said something, but do we know it's actually true? And there's no easy answer to that. When I listened to them, I have a kind of clinical feeling that these people were telling me the truth. While there may be some who were exaggerating, but that's not true with all who reported change. And there were some who reported change, some not very much, many disappointed that they had not changed more.So why do I think that it's believable? One is that they didn't report absolutely total change, which I think if, you know, if you're going to exaggerate, you're going to exaggerate more. In addition, the marital adjustment that the spouses told, mainly women; what they said about their marriage, what the individuals said about their marriage is from a marital adjustment scale, where we had norms, what a community sample generally reports. Now you would think that if these were people who wanted to give a good story that they would report better than normal, or better that usual, better than average, sexual functioning. And they didn't, they reported just about the same.


And I think that, what, also makes me think, in addition is that when they talked about the therapy what went on in the therapy, for a small number, it was very religious, uh, dramatically religious experiences. I remember one woman said that, in the middle of having sex with her lesbian partner, and all of the sudden, she heard Jesus say, "What are you doing?!" but that was relatively rare. Most of the changes seemed to be associated with the usual things that one hears about in psychotherapy. People talking about their background, their family, how they saw masculinity, femininity, so it seemed believable to me . . . .


I've asked two of the more well known practitioners of this kind of therapy how often are they successful, and they say, well it depends on the way you define success, but if you define success in terms of a change in behavior, and in feelings, there's about 30 percent or something like that. Now I suspect it's much lower, but I could be wrong. So whether it's 2 %, 10%, or 15%, but what I am sure is that it's not 0%. And that's what this study was about, whether it's actually 0 percent.


. . . . many had been so depressed they were suicidal. And a few had made
actual attempts. So, I mean they reported a very unhappy state of mind before they changed. The other thing is that the change was not quick… another reason why I believe in credibility; you would think that, if you want to present the best way of presenting therapy, you would say that it started to work pretty soon. You wouldn't say that it was on average two years before there was really much change, which was the case. Many said it took several years before they actually noticed change, and on average it was two years. The people were in some kind of therapy for an average of 7 years. But, often that was still being in some group experience they would keep going to a support group for several years.

7 --> Sobering, but realistic: recovery is possible, but will take some time, will normally be at various points on a spectrum, and will not work to the desired "complete" degree in all cases. In short, about what one would expect on a common-sense basis for victims of a life-dominating destructive habit. Similarly, Waller and Nocolosi observe:

Is reorientation therapy harmful? For the participants in our study, Spitzer notes, there was no evidence of harm. "To the contrary," he says, "they reported that it was helpful in a variety of ways beyond changing sexual orientation itself." And because his study found considerable benefit and no harm, Spitzer said, the American Psychiatric Association should stop applying a double standard in its discouragement of reorientation therapy, while actively encouraging gay-affirmative therapy to confirm and solidify a gay identity.


Furthermore, Spitzer wrote in his conclusion, "the mental health professionals should stop moving in the direction of banning therapy that has, as a goal, a change in sexual orientation. Many patients, provided with informed consent about the possibility that they will be disappointed if the therapy does not succeed, can make a rational choice to work toward developing their heterosexual potential and minimizing their unwanted homosexual attractions."


Is reorientation therapy chosen only by clients who are driven by guilt--that is, what's popularly known as "homophobia"? To the contrary, Spitzer concludes. In fact, "the ability to make such a choice should be considered fundamental to client autonomy and self-determination."

8 --> In short, there is hope, but not without difficulties, and people should know that the road to recovery is not easy or simple. Such findings can be expressed in familiar terms through the well-known twelve step recovery programmes first pioneered for alcoholism (which, BTW, is strongly believed to have genetic influence-- as opposed to determining, irresistible "cause").

9 --> A useful summary is the inadvertent admission against interest in Wikipedia (which is predictably strongly secularist and evolutionary materialistic):
A twelve-step program is a set of guiding principles outlining a course of action for recovery from addiction, compulsion, or other behavioral problems . . . .


These are the original Twelve Steps as published by Alcoholics Anonymous:[10]
  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
12 --> In short, all along, there has been a well-known, established, proven effective process for addressing life-dominating compulsive, out-of control destructive -- I daresay, even "demonised" -- behaviours through moral-spiritual transformation. One that is known to work in a great many cases, but not in all, and this especially because of the challenge of learning how to walk with God in the fellowship of other recovering sinners.

13 --> Or, putting this another way, discipleship works, even though backsliding is always a possibility and challenge. (And it is worth noting that the actual image in view in this colourful OT term, is of a heifer that is foolishly resisting being led to a new pasture, and so stubbornly digs in her heels, fighting tooth and nail.)

14 --> It is also clear that it is a lot easier to avoid biting on a baited hook, than to get off the hook once one has bitten. So, prevention/purity training is a key component of effective discipleship in "a wicked and adulterous generation."

15 --> That training can be aptly summed up in the words of Paul to Titus:
Titus 2:1 You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine . . . . 7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad [and by implication, truthful] to say about us . . . .


11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.


 15 These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.

16 --> More subtly, we also have to expose and resist deceptive re-labelling by promoters of evil ways, whereby harmful, destructive, perverse and perverted, sinful behaviours and habits are now promoted as though they were beneficial or genetically programmed and irresistible.

17 --> In particular, once we see that even if alcoholism has a genetic component, it is still both destructive and not irresistible, that has a transforming impact on our view.

18 --> Namely, genetic influences (real or imagined) do not remove moral responsibility, nor do they inevitably lock us into a destructive pattern, once we are determined to get out and are willing to pay the price to get out and keep out.

19 --> Similarly, sexuality in general does have an obvious in-built genetically based component, which drives maleness and femaleness, and which inclines us towards genital expression of our sexuality, especially once puberty hits. But that does not excuse us from being under moral government, nor does it justify wrongful or destructive behaviour and habits.

20 --> When it therefore comes to the question of claimed genetic influences inclining some to homosexual habituation, it is fair comment to say that the claimed and headlined proofs of gay genes have consistently not panned out.

21 --> And, the evidence of the possibility of prevention and recovery shows that a determined effort to walk in the right by the grace and power of God in the company of the similarly committed recovering sinners of all kinds, shows that -- regardless of how such a "gay gene" debate comes out -- genetic or nurturing influence is not genetic or nurturing determination that removes our responsibility for our behaviour.
_________________________ 

The issues here are sobering, and in some respects they give us a grim warning about just how destructively addictive sinful habits are.

So, our priority must be on prevention, and then we must be willing to engage the tough challenge of recovery with those who were on the hook, but by God's grace have got off it, even though they may well have been scarred and further hurt in so doing.

But, even at painful cost, it is better to be off the hook than to be headed to the frying pan.

Perhaps, that need for utter and unflinching determination to turn to the right and walk away from evil is the underlying reality behind one of Jesus' hardest teachings:
 Mark 9:42. . . whoever causes one of these little ones (these believers) who [r]acknowledge and cleave to Me to stumble and sin, it would be better (more profitable and wholesome) for him if a [huge] millstone were hung about his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.
    43And if your hand puts a stumbling block before you and causes you to sin, cut it off! It is more profitable and wholesome for you to go into life [[s]that is really worthwhile] maimed than with two hands to go to hell (Gehenna), into the fire that cannot be put out.[t]
    45And if your foot is a cause of stumbling and sin to you, cut it off! It is more profitable and wholesome for you to enter into life [that is really worthwhile] crippled than, having two feet, to be cast into hell (Gehenna)[u].
    47And if your eye causes you to stumble and sin, pluck it out! It is more profitable and wholesome for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell (Gehenna) [AMP]
In short, do what it takes, however painful and even potentially crippling (though there is doubtless a measure of hyperbole to make a point; Jesus, beyond reasonable doubt,  is not teaching literal self-mutilation as spiritual discipline). 

Gal 6 therefore has a sobering, balanced counsel that is an apt conclusion:
Gal 6:1BRETHREN, IF any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also.
    2Bear (endure, carry) one another's burdens and [a]troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ (the Messiah) and complete [b]what is lacking [in your obedience to it].
    3For if any person thinks himself to be somebody [too important to condescend to shoulder another's load] when he is nobody [of superiority except in his own estimation], he deceives and deludes and cheats himself.
    4But let every person carefully scrutinize and examine and test his own conduct and his own work. He can then have the personal satisfaction and joy of doing something commendable [[c]in itself alone] without [resorting to] boastful comparison with his neighbor.
    5For every person will have to bear ([d]be equal to understanding and calmly receive) his own [[e]little] load [f][of oppressive faults]. [AMP]

And so, let us return to the Mordecai challenge: Why not now, why not here, why not us? END

___________ 
ADDED, Mar 17: Some useful references that will give perspective and insight:

1: Spitzer in Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2001, on two orthodoxies regarding homosexuality, in light of his study on possibilities for desired change in same sex attraction.

2: Harren's Homosexuality 101 "what we need to know" primer.

3: Satinover on the state of scientific evidence vs. official and clinical positions in mental health professions.

4: Austriaco on the status of "gay gene" research and the evidence.

5: Whitehead and Whitehead online book, My Genes Made Me do it. (The discussion on the Sambia of New Guinea is particularly significant. Cf also here.)

6: Gagnon on implications of and agendas behind gender identity hate crime laws.

7: Mohler on the attempted homosexualisation of Christian theology

20 comments:

Janfeld said...

Hello KF again!

Looks like my comments have been featured again in one of your posts. I'm honored, but sorry you think I"m "adverse" simply because I don't agree with you (you don't like unbelievers very much do you? good job you're not an evangelist I suppose!) But it's another impressive tome; you must have lots of time on your hands.

Yes, part of my comment was anecdotal. But the evidence is out there, and as I've said before I question the quality of some of the sources you quote. We've already seen an example where you uncritically take a source without properly examining it. But my friends stories are not the only ones; there are plenty more here: www.beyondexgay.com.

I doubt though if you will check it out because given the nature of your a priori belief system, it is unlikely you will seek out disconfirming evidence. Having a dogma where you have an answer for everything must be very comforting. I was there once too.

And to be honest? At the end of the day I put more weight on the testimony of my good friends over your supercilious ramblings. And I trust the American Psychological Association more when they say reparative theory is dangerous over your self-righteous amateur social science rants.

I guess you didn't take up my suggestions on communication style. Oh well. But remember now - less is more! For good writing you should try Christopher Hitchins - I know you won't agree with most of what he says, but as a writer he is superb - erudite, intellectual, witty, funny, and often controversial, but he grabs your attention. and he does it all without bullets! Fancy that!

GEM of The Kairos Initiative said...

Onlookers:

Sadly, we here see the same pattern of projection and turnabouts.

Let us note on the takeoff point, by citing AmHD:

>> ad·verse (d-vûrs, dvûrs)
adj. 1. Acting or serving to oppose; antagonistic: adverse criticism.
2. Contrary to one's interests or welfare; harmful or unfavorable . . . >>

So, my usage was precisely correct.

J then goes to the inference and projection that to accurately describe an opposed claim as opposed, is to be hostile to people as people for disagreeing.

This is atmosphere poisoning; to correct is to hate.

"The evidence" he alludes to is that there are cases of people who try to leave the homosexual lifestyle who fail. This, I of course have said both before and above; going so far as to note from one of Jesus' hard teachings on how extreme the struggle to overcome a life-dominating sin can be.

What is material is that Spitzer and St Paul are both right: it is possible to leave that pattern of behaviour and to by God's grace be transformed in one's affections. And, I have it on very good authority, that one who sincerely and persistently tries to walk in the path of the right, however stumblingly, will be welcomed by our Eternal Father. Alas, the same cannot be said for those who willfully "reject the truth and follow evil."

J then proceeds to a further accusation, of closed mindedness.

However, given my direct statements in the OP above, we have very positive evidence that J is the one who is being closed minded; that is, this is a further false, turnaround accusation.

He also talks as though it is proved that I take tainted, inaccurate sources uncritically, to fit into a closed-minded dogmatism. But in fact I spent considerable effort in making quite plain that the balance on the merits is as I pointed out, cf here. So, J is again projecting a strawman caricature.

We could go on and on, but the above is enough to show the pattern of red herrings, strawmen and ad hominems. One hopes J will do better in future.

GEM of TKI

GEM of The Kairos Initiative said...

F/N: We should also note that the moral status of homosexual behaviour is a key issue, and that in part the question of taking a principled Christian position on such a matter hinges on what J is plainly unwilling to engage, despite opportunity: the key warranting point of the gospel.

GEM of The Kairos Initiative said...

F/N 2: In the belief that in part J has commented without adequately and fairly reading, I draw attention to comment points 12 - 14 above, which in any case bear emphasis:

>> 12 --> In short, all along, there has been [the 12 step programme] a well-known, established, proven effective process for addressing life-dominating compulsive, out-of control destructive -- I daresay, even "demonised" -- behaviours through moral-spiritual transformation. One that is known to work in a great many cases, but not in all, and this especially because of the challenge of learning how to walk with God in the fellowship of other recovering sinners.

13 --> Or, putting this another way, discipleship works, even though backsliding is always a possibility and challenge. (And it is worth noting that the actual image in view in this colourful OT term, is of a heifer that is foolishly resisting being led to a new pasture, and so stubbornly digs in her heels, fighting tooth and nail.)

14 --> It is also clear that it is a lot easier to avoid biting on a baited hook, than to get off the hook once one has bitten. So, prevention/purity training is a key component of effective discipleship in "a wicked and adulterous generation." . . . >>

Janfeld said...

He? Aren't women allowed or capable of commenting on blogs too?

KF: "We should also note that the moral status of homosexual behaviour is a key issue"

Agreed, I do not see homosexuality as immoral since I do not share your worldview (anymore).

KF: "...on such a matter hinges on what J is plainly unwilling to engage, despite opportunity: the key warranting point of the gospel."

Actually I have engaged with the gospel, and in a very serious and committed way. I was a born-again fundamentalist Christian for 15 years. But life has turned out differently for me, for which I'm glad.

Well, Mr. KF, I guess our little chat has come to an end, since it's clear we're not going to agree on anything (or even really connect at all...). But it was interesting to see your perspective on things.

Best wishes!

Ms J

GEM of The Kairos Initiative said...

F/N 3, overnight: Much of the above boils down to "whose report will you believe, why?"

I believe the report of the 1 Cor 15:1 - 11 text, on the strength of 500+ eyewitnesses and millions since who have had living, transforming encounters with God in the face of the risen, exalted Lord Jesus the Christ. Indeed, I am one of the millions who so testifies. And, I personally know and have worked with hundreds of others like me.

A living relationship with God in Christ gives me a tremendous confidence in the resurrection power unleashed that fateful first Easter Sunday. Nor does the imposing challenge of addictive, compulsive behaviours daunt me. For, we need a resurrection when we are dead.

I therefore trust the known life transforming power of the gospel, over the claims and assertions of ideologised psychological institutions, slanted and flawed research and the underlying amoral evolutionary materialism. This last, though it likes to drape itself in a lab coat, is an a priori, question-begging imposition on science, and is in fact inescapably self-referentially incoherent and self-refuting, as well as utterly reducing itself to repulsive absurdity by being inescapably amoral.

Similarly, once I can see the direct parallels between homosexual habituation and other forms of self and/or socially destructive compulsive and entangling, addictive behaviour patterns, I can draw on the proven effective solutions of 12 step- type programmes [as a practical form of discipleship], with a clear understanding of God. Indeed, this programme is a modern expression of spiritual counsels on life transformation that literally go back thousands of years in the scriptures.

In taking such a strong and confident stance, I am confident that Spitzer's report that there are in fact many who have broken free of homosexual habituation, has about it the ring of truth.

Indeed, I further believe the report of psychiatric medical practitioner and Christian author John Whitehead, who wrote the key books Eros Defiled and Eros Redeemed. This man, as a pre-teen, was seduced into homosexuality by a camp counsellor [with the complicity of the counsellor's wife!]. He found the way out in the gospel and discipleship, and that is entirely consistent with the above mentioned reports.

So, to those caught up in homosexual habituation and homosexualist ideology, I hold out the thought, that in the gospel, there is hope.

GEM of The Kairos Initiative said...

J:

Pardon a direct word: our problem is not intellectual, it is plainly spiritual at the root.

Please, think again.

____

Onlookers,

With the last comment by J, all becomes sadly clear (and as I was beginning to suspect).

The first issue in hand then is to pray that God will open eyes and stir hearts to repentance and restoration. (A reading and study of 2 Peter will be helpful; with particular reference to 2 Pet 1:1 - 12.)

Observe carefully, as well that for all the dismissive remarks we have seen, there has not ever been any serious engagement by J of:

1 --> The first principles of right reason and associated warranted credible truths that form the framework for any sound worldview.

2 --> The associated foundations and warrant for a generic theistic worldview, on the implication of the radical contingency and finetuning of the cosmos, that it is best explained as the product of a necessary (thus, eternal), powerful, knowledgeable, skilled being, i.e. what we traditionally term God.

3 --> The onward resurrection-anchored foundation of and warrant for a specifically Bible-based, Christian worldview and life commitment.

4 --> The further onward resurrection power, life and community transforming potential of radical discipleship.

G

Janfeld said...

KF: "Pardon a direct word: our problem is not intellectual, it is plainly spiritual at the root.

Please, think again."

I think actually it's both an intellectual and spiritual matter. For me my departure from Christianity wasn't just intellectual, but a spiritual one too. Like so many others, I no longer found it spiritually fulfilling (or that it has any real efficacy in daily life). In the end one has to make a personal decision - is one following your faith because you always have, is one trying to believe when you know that in the end it really isn't fulfilling your spiritual hunger?


KF: "Observe carefully, as well that for all the dismissive remarks we have seen, there has not ever been any serious engagement by J of:..."

It is not your place to say whether or not I have had serious engagement on these matters. That's hubris on your part. You don't know me or my life circumstances, what I have examined or read. Based on my own studies and my own experiences I have formed my own conclusions; but I do remain open to be persuaded (I wouldn't be here if that wasn't the case).

Talking of which, I did try and read some of your "warrant" links (particularly the one "On the Fallacy of Selective Hyperskepticism...."). I'm not sure though who your audience for this article is - it's extremely scholarly and technical. I suspect few people are going to read it all the way through (like your blog). Perhaps that is your intent. But it would be interesting for you to try and write a more accessible and popular version of this (which of course is much harder to do!).

But in the end, such intellectual machinations, interesting and fascinating they may be, are not sufficient if experientially one finds faith wanting and spiritually unfulfilling. That's the real test isn't it? Does it work as a faith or are we deluding ourselves into thinking it works? (and it appears the brain is quite capable of such tricks).

Given the large number of mutually exclusively faiths in the world, it's a given that somebody, somewhere is deluding themselves, even very smart people.

GEM of The Kairos Initiative said...

J (and onlookers):

The comment just above underscores the spiritual root of the intellectual and moral problems.

For 2,000 years, the resurrection power of God in the face of Christ, acting through the gospel, the Spirit, the scriptures and the church [imperfect as the churches inevitably will be] has been a positively transforming personal, familial, community and civilisational force.

There are literally millions of cases in point. "I are one . . ." and I personally know hundreds of others.

Going beyond that, the warrant for the core gospel claims, as the cluster of videos and links above shows, stands up in any reasonable forum.

Selective hyperskepticism, or "the error of the skeptic," as founding father of the modern theory of evidence Simon Greenleaf of Harvard termed it, is the real problem when it comes to rejection of the warrant for the gospel: exerting a question-begging double standard in degree of warrant demanded for what one is inclined to reject, even while one accepted similarly warranted things that are not so threatening to one's preferences and views.

This is especially common on matters of science, history, record, and worldviews. In that context, I again note that we see above a dismissal and a non-engagement of actual warrant.

However, the admission that the remarks on hyperskepticism -- a reference study in a reference site -- are interesting, is a point for hope. There are some serious issues on worldviews, epistemology and actual evidence to be thought through, that cut sharply across commonly held skeptical views in our day. (Cf here on what we can -- in this context of lapsed evangelicals -- call "Ehrmanism.")

I believe that the issues on hyperskepticism, if seriously worked through, will rebalance the credibility of worldview foundations.

And, the issues in the OP over life-dominating sins and compulsions, the radical commitment and action steps of discipleship, and the resurrection power thereby unleashed, will prove not only relevant and satisfying but personally -- and supernaturally -- transformational.

G

GEM of The Kairos Initiative said...

F/N: I have added to my Google Docs collection, an introductory survey on Epistemology from NWE [CCA], with a prefatory note on the warranted credible truths approach to knowledge and worldviews. Cf also here on how I have used this to ground the Christian worldview, first addressing evolutionary materialistic scientism and next grounding the basic principles of right reason, then going on to grounding theism and then biblical theism. (NB: This comes from a work in progress systematic theology survey course. A broader critical survey of the evolutionary materialist paradigm and worldview is here, the IOSE course.)

The specific claims of and warrant for the gospel, proper, are discussed here.

GEM of The Kairos Initiative said...

F/N 2: on matters experientially spiritual, I have already linked the Why not Now online collection of articles on repentance, renewal of heart mind and life, revival -- as the Spirit is poured out in power -- and reformation as the revival spreads across the community and beyond.

This article is a good break-in point, as it engages the recovery of a "fallen" woman, and the contrast between Jesus and Simon, who fell into the "holier than thou" trap.

Radical, full-bore New Testament discipleship works, is very satisfying, and is life-transforming. With literally millions of cases around the world across 2,000 years. It also has the extremely important warrant of being well grounded as truth.

I add to that a significant historical case, Mathematician-scientist, Blaise Pascal:

Article on Pascal

A presentation of his night of fire vision.

In addition, I think you will find C S Lewis' Mere Christianity refreshing reading, and his Surprised by Joy too, though that is a bit heavier ploughing.

(NB: We should take warning that while it is healthy to want to personally experience spiritual power in positively life-transforming ways, not all manifested spiritual power is pure or positive; hence the central importance of truth and right as discussed above, in the context of the gospel. The incident with the slave girl fortuneteller in Philippi in Ac 16 -- recall, Luke is a tested, reliable and excellent historian -- should give a good point of departure for understanding that. Spiritual power confrontation is real, and sometimes pretty ugly, as I have seen far more up close and personal than I would discuss in a blog like this. But, that is part of setting people free to be what they were meant to be under God. However, one so set free must go on -- through the gospel of the crucified and Risen One and grace of God communicated thereby -- to fill his or her life with a very different, and far more Holy and Wholesome Spirit!)

Janfeld said...

Hello again Mr. KF,

KF: There are literally millions of cases in point. "I are one . . ." and I personally know hundreds of others"

I've know hundreds too over the years - in various churches of all kinds of different denominations, on two continents. My experience has been different - I saw very little examples of "transforming" power; indeed, it often seemed to be the case that rather than standing out as exemplary models of well-being to non-Christian neighbors, many Christians I knew struggled with making it through the day. I observed that things that non-Christians just got on and dealt with, were matters that Christians couldn't cope with.

I saw "knew" because since my departure from Christianity, few people have opted to stay in touch because I'm now an evil "backslider" (and even recently my efforts to reconnect with old friends has been rebuffed. )

But maybe where you live with all that sunshine it's different for you. If so, I'm glad! But in the end my experience is my experience and that's what I have to go on.

KF: "F/N: I have added to my Google Docs collection, an introductory survey on Epistemology from NWE [CCA],"

I took a look at it. I guess if your audience is the probably select set of Philosophy of Theology Professors around the world (what, a few dozen?), then it's probably very good. It seems awfully clever. But for the lay reader such as myself, frankly, I find it unreadable. As I said before about your other article, yes it's "interesting" in that the topics you cover are all relevant - and I yes I think there are probably some good insights there. But your convoluted (and frankly, grandiose) style detracts from any real message you're trying to convey.

It's rather ironic that in your latest blog you hold up Steve Jobs as an example of a good communicator. His presentations are known for succinctness, clarity, and brevity (4 points instead of 89!). Obviously the fact you mention him means you understand the value of communications.

But don't take my word for it (which of course is unlikely to happen since you can barely look me in the eye, so to speak), send your work to a professional writer, or a publisher and ask for feedback. If you were to put your articles in a book, they would need serious surgery.

P.S. Lighten up. Get a sense of humor, it'll make you and your message more winsome (rather than coming across as a dry 18th century academic). Get down from your high horse too and let people know you're actually a human being. Although I wonder - if we opened you up, would we find, instead of a beating heart, would we instead find the Trivium and a thesaurus? :-)

GEM of The Kairos Initiative said...

J:

First there is a difference between the rhetorical and the dialectic. The central issue is warrant, not persuasion.

Second, you are again proposing that because some Christians of your acquaintance struggle, and some non-Christians of your acquaintance cope better [as judged by whom on what terms? e.g. the struggle to move to virtue is a challenge, but to walk away from it is not to actually cope . . . ], the Christian faith is to be disregarded as spiritually impotent.

This is a fallacy of the first order [cf a classic discussion here -- a challenge to all who are morally sensitive in a morally governed world of finite, fallible, morally struggling creatures . . . ], and it is why I have taken time to point out that you are giving an unrepresentative cross section. I trust you will take a moment and read the story of a woman who may well be Mary of Bethany/Magdalene. Redemptive transformation is real, and it is actually fairly common; across 2,000 years and across the globe.

I cannot speak to the specific circumstances of your particular experience with particular groups [cf my response to a group that unfortunately does behave like you described, here . . . ], but my own observation is that there are many, many Christians who are exactly not as you describe. (And, I must gently ask on the evidence of several threads whether you are strawmannising a bit, and maybe doing a bit of projecting. You have said a few things about me that were unwarranted, and (pardon the direct words) off-putting -- even hostile to the point of slander.)

As to the point of the contrast between a Jobs motivational sales talk and a run-up to a survey of epistemology, the diverse contexts should help us see the need for very different foci. Jobs is selling multimedia sizzle -- and, hopefully, steak to back up sizzle. I am dealing with the worldview level warrant for positions, in light of first principles of right reason and warranted, credible truths. The latter is going to be a lot more conceptually challenging to address, and will require a step by step working though that would be familiar to anyone who has had to do say a first serious College course in Maths.

As a first step try out Josiah Royce's "error exists."

Try to deny it. Do you not see that, immediately and palpably, you imply that an error must exist?

In short, this is an undeniable, self-evident, warranted truth. It implies as well that truth exists, knowable truth exists, and knowledge exists.

All of which are hotly denied in some quarters today. All of which are foundational. Especially to one who is needing to make a decision between worldviews on evidence. (We are not here dealing with a Sunday school class full of grade schoolers. Unweaving the damaging consequences of 300 years of hyperskeptical thought is not simple.)

Similarly, we can go on to the basic laws of logic, and the audio here on the law of non-contradiction is quite relevant to and cuts clean across commonly held views today.

The seven WCTs, as a group actually cut a wide swath across much of current thought, clearing the ground of rubble so we can begin again on a sounder footing. So, if you are interested to think accurately and soundly, I commend them to you.

G

GEM of The Kairos Initiative said...

J:

to co0me at5 this fromteh experiential angle, I suggest two Google Book snippets:

1: Chuck Colson's Born Again

2: Sharon Gallagher's Finding Faith.

(If you can get it Colson's The Body in whatever new edition is a great read.)

G

Janfeld said...

KF: "Second, you are again proposing that because some Christians of your acquaintance struggle, and some non-Christians of your acquaintance cope better [as judged by whom on what terms? e.g. the struggle to move to virtue is a challenge, but to walk away from it is not to actually cope . . . ], the Christian faith is to be disregarded as spiritually impotent."

I was merely addressing your point that Christianity has "transforming" power. You made the claim not I. So does it or does it not? My own experiences suggest that it doesn't. Of course it is all rather subjective and relies much on self-reports. It would be interesting to see how many Christians, despite claims of transformation in their lives, often seek the help of professional mental health practitioners (often secular ones too). That was certainly the case in the churches I attended (we even had a few attempted suicides, despite much help and counselling from the "elders" of the church, in the end they had to hand over to secular professionals for help).

And I didn't walk away from Christianity purely for that reason either.

Oddly, Christians often tout their own personal experiences as evidence for their faith. But it seems the opposite is not true - when others point out that either their own experiences or those observed in others do not substantiate that evidence, it's dismissed as fallacious thinking.

But well done, your reply didn't have a single bullet ;-) Better, huh?

GEM of The Kairos Initiative said...

J:

I have given you cases in point of spiritual transformation ranging from a fallen woman at Simon's banquet, to Saul of Tarsus [with Peter tossed in for good measure], through millions across 20 centuries, including say and Augustine or a Pascal and a Colson, and not overlooking even me and hundreds of my direct acquaintance.

Look, the simple fact that I am alive, that I have breath to move around and type, and the back to sit up and do so are all due to miracles in answer to prayer in the name of Jesus.

If you take a moment to look up Colson's The Body, you will see dozens of specific cases, up to and including Pastor Tokes of Timosara Romania, whose story triggered a revolution twenty years ago.

The story of the Wesley brothers -- Aldersgatge Street and all that -- is pivotal to British, Commonwealth and American history.

That of Wilberforce is crucial to the reformation of Britain and the ending of the slave trade. Buxton is the one who saw through abolition.

There was George Liele who should have been acknowledged a national hero of Jamaica. Same for William Knibb.

Such a list can be multiplied almost without limit.

From your Bible to your history book to people who you can meet in just about any city, town or village.

In short, there is no shortage of cases in point of powerful transformations of lives, communities and civilisations through the living encounter with God in the face of Christ; and these are not delusional changes -- delusions are disintegrative of persons and lives, we are dealing with just the opposite of delusional changes, up to the level of cases pivotal to the course of history. Even, the famous 12-step programme for recovery from addictions and compulsions, is an eloquent illustration of the power of living encounter with God. With many, many thousands of cases in point. For that matter, why not look up the Teen Challenge addiction recovery programme?

Same story, again. And again.

That you seem to want to doubt and dismiss such, is what needs to be explained, not whether such happens or is accessible. The reality of transformation through the gospel is as well substantiated a fact as any FACT of human existence can be.

So, you need to look, again at whether you are allowing a bit of selective hyperskepticism in the back door of your mind.

Please, think again.

G

Janfeld said...

KF: "The reality of transformation through the gospel is as well substantiated a fact as any FACT of human existence can be.

So, you need to look, again at whether you are allowing a bit of selective hyperskepticism in the back door of your mind.

Please, think again."

Alright, I will. I think challenging one's own preconceptions is always a healthy thing to do, so I don't mind accepting such a challenge. I think it would be particularly interesting to examine the evidence for/against transformation. I've always been fascinated too by churches that exhbibit "gifts of the spirit" - it would be interesting to hear your take on that.

GEM of The Kairos Initiative said...

J:

We are dealing first with history, some of it central to the course of our civilisation, or key countries in it. For instance, you will see that I called a list of names connected to the history of my homeland, Jamaica.

It's not just a few oddball folks off in a corner somewhere mutually reinforcing each other in a delusion.

As for manifestations of the Spirit, they simply never have stopped, never mind some misguided claims to the contrary. People are saved, healed, delivered, transformed, guided, empowered etc. every day all around us.

Been going on for 2,000 years.

(You might, just as an exercise, want to look at the life of Joan of Arc, heroine of France, who was -- as usual -- betrayed by corrupt pols and put to death by worse judges. Pardon, if my cynicism about the corrupting influences of unaccountable, unchecked power shows. I saw entirely too much of that growing up, and lived through a low grade civil war, whose effects yet linger.)

G

GEM of The Kairos Initiative said...

F/N: I think the Unshackled radio testimonies produced by Pacific Garden Mission -- over 3,000 as at 2008 -- may be a helpful trove of real life experiences of transformation by the power of the gospel. (Cf a trove of transcripts here.)

GEM of The Kairos Initiative said...

F/N: A key survey of what is known about SSA, OSA, roots, cultural manifestations and variations across culture and time -- The Sambia of New Guinea are an eye-opener -- as well as prospects for change and therapy (with a side-light on the politicisation of the two APA's since the 70's)is well worth the reading, here.