From Celosia at firstname.lastname@example.org on 27 March 1999
I found your site rather... 'enlightening'. I feel that some things you said were correct, but you have been misled on some others. Now, I'm not saying your God is better than my Goddess, but I'm not saying He's worse, either. I truly feel that all forms are the same One, and merely different aspects of the same One and so why does it matter what name you use? And can you truly deny a person their beliefs, can you truly deny a person, a fellow human being, what is in their heart? As a great playwright once said, "A rose by any other name, would smell as sweet" I would appreciate a letter back, to continue this, and to hear your response.
Reply from Allan Turner on 27 March 1999
Thank you for your response. The terms “God” and “Goddess” are not names, but concepts. I cannot know whether the Creator was God or Goddess without revelation. The Bible, a revelation I believe to be the true revelation from the Creator, identifies [the Creator] with masculine terms. You say, “I truly feel that all forms are the same One, and merely different aspects of the same One and so why does it matter what name you use?” Yes, this is how you “feel,” but is what you feel really the truth? Unlike you, I do not believe all is One. In other words, I am not a monist. I think this difference is the starting place for this engagement, don't you? But, if you call the Creator a “Goddess,” then this designation appears to “matter” with you. So, I find your “what does it matter” question a bit enigmatic. I'll just have to wait for you to enlighten me as to why it doesn't matter.
What makes you think I am trying to “deny a person their beliefs”? You are entitled to your beliefs and I respect you as a fellow human being. Just because I disagree with you does not mean I am trying to deny you your beliefs. As you know, I am a Christian. Consequently, there is a set of beliefs that come with my religion. I think my beliefs are right, as you do yours, but us thinking ourselves right does not make it so. I have examined wicca, as you know, and found it to be lacking. On the other hand, you have examined it--no doubt much more thoroughly than I have--and found it to be legitimate. Here is where we can begin this discussion.
If, as I believe, the Creator is a personal being, rather than just an impersonal force, then I would think this issue might matter to Him, Her, or Him/Her. If the supreme entity is a Her or a Him/Her, then I would like to think of Her or Her/Him in feminine terms. So, I invite you to show me where I've been “misled.”
I await your reply.
From Celosia on 28 March 1999
I see I miss-spoke. First, I would like to make one small point, one which I apparently did not make clear. I am not Wiccan. I practice another form of Paganism, one which, in it's original form, worships many Gods/Goddesses. I worship a deity known as Artemis, the name may sound familiar from childhood, when studying Greek Mythology in school.
I shall now proceed to answer your questions, and meet your points in the order of which you brought them up.
I was raised, by my mother, to treat the Goddess with respect. That is the way she phrased it, so that is how I came to say it. The Goddess, as I was raised to know Her, was simply the Earth. In all forms of Paganism I have studied, the Earth is referred to as a female. Hence, 'Mother Earth.' So, I simply got accustomed to calling a higher deity by a female name. I truly do not feel it matters much when you use the term God, or I use the term Goddess. We are still both speaking of a higher Being, One who is responsible for our creation, for our world, and for our very life.
I must apologize for saying you deny a person their beliefs. Apparently, I have found a Christian who does allow other beliefs to be there, to be in existence. It is, honestly, quite refreshing. I find your religion quite valid, in all honesty. And as I stated, I do not practice Wicca, but I have examined the religion. I do not find it wholly valid. I selected my religion because when I began studying it, I felt more at peace with myself, and with life, and felt more light-hearted, happier. I know I stated this before, but I cannot deny myself what is in my heart. I must agree with you on one very important point: 'us thinking ourselves right does not make it so.' I feel I am right, but I cannot tell you that you are wrong. No one truly knows, until the afterlife, until we die, and until we 'meet our Maker,' so to say. All any religion really has to go on is belief and faith. After all, that is all we have, isn't it?
There, I believe I have met your points. I await the continuance of our conversation.
Reply from Allan Turner on 30 March 1999
You did not say you were a Wiccan, I assumed it, and I'm sorry. I'll try to be more careful. Admittedly, my understanding of the Goddess has been influenced by adherents of Wicca, therefore, I'm going to have to depend on you to bring me up to speed on your particular beliefs. Even so, I have been exposed to Goddess worship from a biblical perspective (both Old and New Testaments). I have read about Artemis, and I'm familiar with the Dianic tradition, but, again, mainly from the viewpoint of Wiccans. So, I'll do my best to pay close attention to what you have to say about Her from your perspective, and I look forward to your instructions in this regard.
You say: “I selected my religion because when I began studying it, I felt more at peace with myself, and with life, and felt more light-hearted, happier. I know I stated this before, but I cannot deny myself what is in my heart.” Yes, I agree with you, feelings are certainly important and meaningful. In fact, I would never try to get you to act contrary to how you feel. How you feel is connected to your conscience, and the Bible says a person must never violate his or her conscience. This means that even if one were to do what is right, thinking it to be wrong, it would be wrong (cf. (Romans 14:23). In other words, when we violate our integrity, we can never be right. So, I don't want you to violate your conscience, and the feelings associated with it. However, I do want to help you get your conscience properly schooled, because although our consciences are the best guides we possess, when improperly trained, they can do a lousy job of directing our path.
To me, it seems like you are setting forth the “better felt than told” experience that many of my fellow religionists report experiencing. Like them, you believe: “All any religion really has to go on is belief and faith. After all, that is all we have, isn't it?” If, in fact, this is all we have, then your religion is as good as mine, or anyone else's, for that matter. But, instead of the blind, subjective faith you speak of, my religion is based on an objective standard—the Bible—a document that I think presents credible evidence that it is exactly what it says it is. I'll be happy to share this evidence with you if you're interested.
Further, I have learned that what I feel is right is sometimes contrary to what the Bible says is right. Consequently, I am convinced I must allow myself to be schooled by a standard outside of my subjective think-sos. And although I must never violate my own integrity, I believe my conscience must ultimately be brought into line with what the Bible says. This process, although it is, admittedly, extremely authoritarian, actually turns out to be quite liberating. Let me explain.
When I determine to look at the gospel, the “perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25), I can do what is right, no matter how I might subjectively feel at any particular moment. As you well know, our feelings are always changing. On the other hand, lacking the objective standard of God's Word, you are really a constant slave to your subjective think-sos. How you feel today may change tomorrow—i.e., what is right today may be wrong tomorrow. Therefore, your morality is constantly in flux. I think this is why many Pagans embrace the ideology that, in reality, there is no right or wrong. It certainly helps to alleviate the dissonance that is otherwise experienced when there is so much uncertainty in one's life. But, this no right or wrong thing is a lie, and deep within your spirit I think you know it's a lie. In such a state, there can never be a “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding...guarding your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ” (Philippians 4:7). Celosia, I pray you will come to know this truth, so that you, too, can be set free (John 8:32).
Christ says we must become His slaves, and as soon as we obey, He sets us free. Satan promises us the freedom to be our own gods and goddesses, deciding for ourselves what is good and evil (Genesis 3:5), and the moment we accept, we find ourselves being sold on the block of slavery. Paganism promises freedom, but, in the end, it produces nothing but anarchy. Yes, Christianity certainly places us under obligation, but then it sets us free to be all that we can be. And though it sounds incongruent, even own experiences have taught us that there can be no true freedom without responsibility and obligation. I find it ironic that many Pagans claim they embrace Paganism primarily for the freedom it promises. What a pity they do not know Jesus Christ as Lord. For it is only in this relationship that one can really know peace and freedom. Everything else is counterfeit. It may look good, it may look promising, and it may look legitimate, but to those who have handled the real thing, it is nothing more than “fool's gold.”
Knowing that Christianity is rooted in the belief that the Bible is God's revelation to humankind, I am curious to know how valid you think this book is. Do you really think it is what it claims to be? Surely you understand that the Bible, at its core, is anti-Goddess, don't you? Nevertheless, you are a Goddess worshipper who says that you believe my religion is “quite valid.” You're going to have to show me how you can honestly say this. I'll be waiting for your answer.
Celosia, you are the first non-Wiccan Goddess worshipper I've engaged as a result of my web site, and I'm happy to have this discussion. I really do want to know more about what you believe and why you believe it. I appreciate the fine way you have conducted yourself thus far, and look forward to your reply.
From Celosia on 31 March 1999
Many Blessings, Mr. Turner,
I'm not sure if I should drop my usual greeting with you or not. Please do not take that in offense, I just am not sure if I should speak with you as a friend, or as a colleague in life, or as an acquaintance. This conversation we have been having has been a high point of my day.
I will be more than willing to answer any questions of my religious beliefs that you ask. As I stated, I worship the Goddess as Artemis, the Maiden Huntress. In this form, She is portrayed as a strong-willed, untamable, Huntress. "Forever untamed by a Man." Greek Myths do not portray Her quite accurately, so it is difficult to explain in a way that I am sure you will understand. You do have one major advantage over me in this debate, however: the Bible. I have no religious scriptures that I can rely on and that are still in existence. All my information is found by researching every book in every public library in every town I have been in, cross-referencing, and learning from others who have been to the area of the religion I practice. I am currently compiling, for my own use, a collection of the various legends and tales I have been told and I have read.
You said I must become one of Christ's 'slaves' to be set free. The Goddess asks not for service, not for slaves, and not for submission of any type. How you worship Her is your own choice. Also, I know there is a right and there is a wrong, and I abide by the rules of right and wrong. If the ten Commandments were sent by Artemis, I would be breaking not a one. As it is, I only break one. I believe it is the one about placing other Gods before Him. But you see, these rules do not apply to me, and yet I still obey them.
Getting back to the subject of the Bible: I have a few questions.1. Who exactly wrote the Bible?You also say you pity those who do not know Jesus as Lord. Well, I do not know Jesus as Lord, but I know the Goddess has yet to lead me astray. You believe you are right. I believe I am right. We will never get the two of us to agree, but I feel I must allow you to see into the religion a bit more. Pagans are not all as bad as people think. A few bad ones spoil it for the rest of us.
2. Is there any chances of human error?
3. How do we know they truly spoke to God?
4. How many times has the Bible been translated?
As I stated before, you have tremendous advantage over me by having a book to go by. However, I have an advantage over you as well: True Faith. I do not need a book to believe in Her. I do not need Her to tell me to fear Her. I do not need to speak to Her, or to see Her to know She is there. I feel Her, in every tree, in every smile, and in every embrace. Can you truly love a God who is responsible for a religion whose mantra has been "Convert or Die" throughout history? A religion who killed hundreds of thousands of men, women, children, and unborn children simply for a religious difference? Your book says that your God is a loving God, so why does He allow His followers to behave so cruelly?
I hope I have not offended you too greatly. I know anytime religion is debated as in-depth as I debate, someone gets offended. Neither of us truly know what is to happen, who is out there, if anyone, or why we even are born. No one truly knows, no one ever will. It really is only faith. You have faith in your Book, I have faith in my Soul.
Reply from Allan Turner on 1 April 1999
It will be just fine for you to refer to me as Allan, and please consider me your friend. As I've told you, I know some things about the Goddess Artemis already. I have several books in my library that relate to the Goddess in one fashion or another. I should have pointed out in my second response that I'm also familiar with some of the New Age concepts of the Goddess. So far, you haven't provided me with any additional insight as to who or what she is.
I thought by now we'd be discussing monism, pantheism, and polytheism, but you seem to be skirting these issues. These, I suspect, are the real issues on which we disagree, so I'm surprised we're not talking about them, but as I'm following your lead in this discussion, I'll just have to wait until you bring these up. Hopefully, this prodding will encourage you to do so.
I told you I was interested in the standard that allowed you to identify my religion as “valid” and Wicca as not being “wholly valid,” while you practiced something else entirely, but you have been silent on that. I further asked you about the validity of the Bible being what it claims to be, and I take it that your questions about it in your last response indicate that you don't think it is. Therefore, I'll now respond to your questions about the Bible in the order you asked them.
Who exactly wrote the Bible?
The Bible was written by around 40 different writers over a period of 1500 years. These writers were from different parts of the world, and were from different walks of life. They wrote in at least three different languages. They discussed hundreds, if not thousands, of controversial subjects. Nevertheless, in all this diversity there is great unity—an organic unity, a unity of doctrine, and a unity of style unsurpassed in a document written by one person, much less 40 different people. This, to me, points to the uniqueness of the Bible, and is evidence that it is what it claims to be—a revelation, not from 40 different individuals, but from one mind, the mind of the one true God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.
Is there any chance of human error?
Yes, certainly. We are talking about a book that contains seven different kinds of writing: (1) Law—civil, criminal, ethical, religious, and sanitary, (2) Poetry, (3) History, (4) Narrative, (5) Biography, (6) Prophecy, and (7) Apocalyptic—parts of Daniel, Ezekiel, Zechariah, and Revelation. But, and here's what's impressive, within the Bible there is not a false or discordant note in any of the doctrine. What one writer affirms, no later writer denies. Although radical critics sometime point to apparent contradictions within the Bible, these are always resolved on the basis of careful study.
How do we know they truly spoke to God?
The writers of the Bible claimed to be speaking the word of God. The expression, “thus saith the Lord,” or its equivalent, occurs more than 2000 times in the Old Testament alone. If they were lying or deceived, we'd expect to find error and a lack of unity in the book. But, in conveying doctrine, the Bible is error free and, in its totality, it evidences marvelous unity. Therefore, we suspect it is more than a mere product of uninspired men. Further, fulfilled prophecy is one of the strongest evidences that the Bible is a special divine revelation. This can be demonstrated by examining the internal evidence of the prophecy itself, and then comparing this with the external historical evidence. If the Bible said something was going to happen hundreds, even thousands of years before it happened, and if it then happened exactly the way the Bible says it would, this is extremely powerful evidence that the Bible is what it claims to be. This is exactly the case. If you are interested in examining these prophecies for yourself, I'll be happy to send them along at your request. Remember, prophecy is not a guess, a forecast, a calculation, a mere conjecture, a vague generalization, or an educated analysis of a forthcoming event or situation. This means that for Biblical prophecy to be evidence of divine inspiration, it must be completely accurate—i.e., everything that has been predicted must come to pass. If this is not the case, then the Bible is not what it claims to be. But, if it is the case, and it can be demonstrated that it is, then this is powerful evidence that the writers of the Bible were divinely inspired.
How many times has the Bible been translated?
Many times, and there are copyists' errors in some of these translations. In fact, some supposed translations are nothing more than paraphrases, and are, therefore, generally unreliable. But, as far as the various translations go, the mistakes are known precisely because of the many varied copies and translations that are extant. The general consensus of the scholars on the major manuscripts is that there is complete agreement on most words, there is only a thousandth part affected, that no essential teaching is affected and that the original words have been handed down without essential loss. So, even though the Bible has been translated many hundred of times, the fact that its doctrine remains intact is yet another proof that it is what it claims to be.
Where Did You Even Get That Idea?
You asked: “Can you truly love a God who is responsible for a religion whose mantra has been ‘Convert or Die’ throughout history? A religion [that] killed hundreds of thousands of men, women, children, and unborn children simply for a religious difference.” Yes, as Sovereign of the universe, God has killed, and ordered His servants to kill, as well, but I hardly think this happened “simply for religious differences,” as you indicate. The circumstances and events in which this happened were a little more complicated than that. Besides, Artemis, as one manifestation of the Triple-Goddess—Virgin, Mother, and Crone, is associated with killing, is she not? The Spartans called her Artamis, which meant “Cutter,” or “Butcher.” Her huntress aspect was but another form of the destroying Crone, and I don't think I need to remind you of the death and destruction associated with that aspect of the Goddess, an aspect represented by the infamous Kali Ma, do I?
Furthermore, where did you get that “Convert or Die” mantra. Me thinks your Paganism is showing. First, Christians don't use mantras. Second, Christianity does not offer a “Convert or Die” mandate. Those who obey the gospel, must do so from the heart (Romans 6:17), consequently, anyone demanding that one “Convert or Die” is not practicing Christianity. It may interest you to know that I am neither Catholic nor Protestant. I am just a Christian. The church I belong to was started by Christ in A.D. 30-33. On earth, it has no organizational structure larger than a local church. It has no denominational structure. In fact, as a Christian, I eschew denominationalism. So, any killing or conquering a denomination (whether Catholic or Protestant) has done does not meet with my approval, and stands condemned from God's Word, no matter whose name they invoked when doing it.
Jesus, in establishing His church under a New Covenant, did not demand a theocracy, as existed under the Old Testament, but acknowledged there was to be a separation of church and state (Matthew 22:21). Consequently, no man-made government has the right to engage in any so-called “holy war” in the name of Jesus. The state is the state and the church is the church, and any man-made effort to synthesize the two has always met with disaster and untold suffering. So, when you condemn Catholicism and Protestantism for all its ungodly abuses, I assure you that I'm right there along side of you, raising my voice in judgment. Furthermore, I am convinced that if any of these churches controlled our government, they'd persecute me just like they did my forefathers before me.
You close by saying: “It really is only faith. You have faith in your Book, I have faith in my Soul.” Yes, Celosia, it really is only faith. But as I've tried to indicate, it ought to be a faith based on reason—a faith established on evidence. My faith, apparently unlike yours, is in something and someone other than myself. I believe there is objective evidence for such a faith. On the other hand, you offer no evidence for the objective reality of the Goddess, and if you're like many Pagans, you don't even believe She has an objective reality. In fact, it sounds to me like the Goddess may actually be none other than your Soul. As a Christian, I understand God to be other. As a Pagan, you evidently think of Her as your Soul, or “Higher Self,” as the New Agers put it. Consequently, it wouldn't surprise me to hear you repeating Shirley MacLaine's concluding credo from her best-selling book Dancing in the Light, which says: “I know that I exist, therefore I AM. I know the God-source exists. Therefore IT IS. Since I am part of that force, then I AM that I AM.”
What you call “True Faith” is nothing more than a pipe dream. You say: “The Goddess asks not for service, not for slaves, and not for submission of any type. How you worship Her is your own choice.” Sure, the Goddes makes no demands upon you, because the Goddess is you, or your “Soul,” as you put it. Instead of preaching repentance from sin, you preach a reawakening of the Self. Your religion exalts the experience of Self above faith in Christ. Instead of teaching the need for being born again, as does my religion, you teach the rediscovery of the true, inner, and divine Self. In other words, I'm a Christian, and you're a Pagan. But something you said disturbs me. You said: “You believe you are right. I believe I am right. We will never get the two of us to agree....” Why not? Why can't you and I agree? Is there something in our very nature that keeps us from agreeing? Yes, as long as I'm a Christian and you're a Pagan, we'll never agree, but isn't it possible for one or both of us to change? Do you and I not have the power to change our minds? Could I not become a Pagan? Could you not become a Christian? If this is not possible, then you and I are wasting a lot of time talking about things that are quite inconsequential. As you initiated this dialogue, it is hard for me to think that you really believe change is not possible, even when it involves faith. If I am wrong, I would like to think that you could change me. That's what I thought open-mindedness was all about.
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