Monday, August 25, 2008

Joseph Coveney

Paster Wardle's blog offered a link to a video by a young minister named Rob Wegner. The video takes place in a cemetery and starts with Rob near the monument of Joseph Coveney, a notable free thinker of the mid to late 1800's. After some comments, Rob then moves over to the grave of Del Fehsenfeld, in the same cemetery.

I remember Del. Though I never met him, back in the early 1980's, when I was a church go-er, his Life Action Singers came to my church and performed their musical. Del died back in the late 1980's at a young age.

The differences - Joseph Coveney was an atheist. Del Fehsenfeld was a Christian.

In a nut shell, what Rob Wegner does in his video is point out how much more attractive it is to believe in eternity after death, as apposed to believing that, at death, that is it, no afterlife.

Now, in case you are wondering, especially if you haven't watched the video, no, Rob offers absolutely no evidence that there is an afterlife. Perhaps this video is just to wet our appetite, and perhaps the evidence will follow in subsequent videos, though that is highly doubtful.

Joseph Coveney was a self made man, worked hard, built a fortune, generously supported his community, and lived his entire adult life as an atheist and died at a very old age for his time, 92.
His monument, which was more a monument to free thought than to himself, was defaced by vandals, at least one of whom was the son of a local minister.

One particular comment of Rob"s I take exception with - He says that the news paper of the time described the inscriptions on Josephs monument as "slanderous inscriptions against Christianity", he continues "Now-a-days, slanderous inscriptions against Christianity end up on the New York Times Bestseller List."
I am assuming he is referring to the recent publication of best selling books by the likes of Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens.
I have to wonder what it is about those books that Rob finds slanderous?
I think this is very revealing. Rob considers any intellectual oral or written attack on Christianity as slander. Just as most informed Christians today would. Those who speak ill of the faith of a person is almost guaranteed to receive sarcasm or lies in the form of an holy rebuke.

Rob moves on the the headstone of Del Fehsenfeld, the Christian. On the headstone it reads:


Fine. This is what Del believed. But for all that he did, as attested to by the inscription on his headstone, there is not one single shred of evidence that his cause, his God, is real. And while I have no doubt that he truly believed in God, and no doubt that he influenced many more people in his short life than Joseph did in his long life, to what end? Propagating a myth?

I realize that Robs video and Pastor Wardle's blog are intended for one audience, Christians. But they have to expect that non Christians (since we have access to their thoughts on the web) will read, listen, and watch from time to time, just to see what those who consign us heathens to the ash heap they call hell, are saying.

Anyway, here is a tidbit on Joseph Coveney.

The story of the Coveney family in America begins with Joseph, who arrived in New York at the age of 20 in 1825. He seems to have been destitute and without financial assistance from anyone, because his name appears on the Bond Registers for the New York City Almshouse, for June 18, 1825, about a month after his arrival. Joseph Coveney may have lacked money and friendship in his early days in America, but he certainly did not lack ambition. He learned and later mastered the carpentry trade. It was also during his early life in America that he was reading newspaper articles by Thomas Paine, which would later influence his views on religion.
When the California Gold Rush occurred, Joseph went west and earned good money working as a carpenter there. When living in Buchanan, Michigan, he bought a good deal of real estate and became a prosperous farmer. He was well-known and respected in Buchanan for his generosity in providing additional financial support to the public school, but he was most known for his freethinking ideals.

In Ireland Joseph had been an Episcopalian, but he became an atheist after reading the works of Paine and Voltaire. He openly expressed his views to anyone at anytime and his tombstone in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Buchanan is a tribute to his freethinking ideals. The ornate tombstone has become something of a tourist attraction because of its bold and irreverent statements. A few examples are as follows: “Nature is the true God. Science the true religion. The more religion, the more lying. The more Saints, The more Hypocrites.” There was even an article on his death in the New York Times with the headline “Death of an Infidel: Last Words of Joseph Coveney of Michigan were ‘Die as I lived.’”

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Are Christians saved?

Over at The Reformed Gadfly, Tim Brown attempts to explain why us "former Christians" now turned non believers, don't really exist. In other words it's the tired mantra of once saved always saved = not saved now, never was saved then.

In his post Once a Christian, Mr. Brown explains, using his reformed theology (surprise!!!) that "Becoming a Christian isn't a matter of saying a few words and asking Jesus to become part of your life." Well Mr. Brown, I, as a former Christian, agree completely with that statement. And I think that the vast majority of Christians will agree also. Why? Because the vast majority of them actually believe that Jesus died to save them from their sins. They do not think that you can simply mouth the words and that makes you a Christian. You have to actually agree with the words you are uttering. It's not rocket science Timbo.

Now, does Tim tell us exactly how to become a Christian?




Answer - NO.

You would think that a post explaining why those of us who claim to be former Christians were never actually Christians in the first place, would perhaps sneak in a little instruction on how one actually becomes a Christian. Nothing. All he does is explain why we never were.

What is so apparent from reading his comments is this: He is actually glad that we were never "saved". If you are among those that left the faith, and are actually glad you made it out, and have the nerve to vocalize your joy, Tim Brown is happy that you will spend eternity in hell with your father the devil. Yep, he is. That my friend, is the hallmark of the "Reformed Christian". Just read his post, hell, read his entire blog and you will soon realize that Tim is angry at you for being so unashamed of your unbelief that he can hardly wait to look down from heaven and see the flames begin to lick around your naked, blistering body. Is it any surprise that he holds to the Calvinistic mindset?

I have gotten pretty good at discerning the religious leanings of believers before they even mention their denomination. Baptist, Pentecostals, Church of Christ, and Reformed almost have their key beliefs stamped on their foreheads.

"To know a person's religion we need not listen to his profession of faith but must find his brand of intolerance."
~Eric Hoffer

Tim became a Christian 10 years ago. In 1998 I was nearing the end of my 25 year journey as a Christian. Feel free to read my first post in this blog and tell me what is in it that would give you any indication that I was never a (here goes...we have heard it before) "True Christian". I can tell you in a sentence what Tim will answer - he will simply say "You were not a Christian then because you are not a Christian now.", and he will use bible verses to back up his accusation. Imagine that - using the bible to tell a former bible believer that he didn't believe the bible. My head hurts. It is comical and frightning at the same time. Christians get to decide who is a Christian.

Let me see if I can explain it to him: Tim, being a Christian means one thing, and one thing only - a Christian believes in the Jesus of the bible. That is it. It doesn't matter to what degree they follow the teachings of the bible. They could be a murder, child rapist, embezzler, racist. The only thing that makes a person a Christian is if they believe they are a Christian. If a person, when asked what religion they are, honestly answers "Christian", they are in fact a Christian. You can point your knobby finger at them as you scream from the pulpit, frothing at the mouth as you try to yell your theology into them, but they will still be Christians as long as they believe they are Christians.
Did I believe this when I was a Christian? Absolutely not. You may be able to see from my initial post that I was, (even though not completely sure) of the "once saved always saved" mindset.

Let me reiterate; A Christian, a "True Christian", is a person who honestly considers themselves to be a Christian.

How hard is that? Well, very hard in the mind if the reformed believer. There is a very long hoop you have to jump through. This hoop is the size of your entire life. And while floating through this hoop, you are expected to be virtually "sinless" and always looking toward the end of the hoop.

I won't bore you with all of Tim's explanations and bible quotes. Suffice it to say, his explanation (accusation?) is just his religious belief. It is his belief based on what he has been taught from the bible. And when it comes to ones religious beliefs, every ones belief is correct except the other guys.

I will now offer a not so profound thought. This is my conclusion, after many years of experiencing Christians, both from inside the club and now from without - Christians, every one of them, are Christians. But Christians, just like non Christians, are not "saved". Why? Because there is no such thing. There is no biblical salvation. There is no "sins" to be saved from, no hell to avoid, no heaven to attain.

So, when a person, any person honestly claims to be a Christian, they are in fact a Christian. Tim Brown is a Christian. Jerry Falwell, Benny Hinn, they are Christians. My elderly next door neighbor lady who smokes like a chimney is a Christian. My girlfriends aunt who will not vote for Obama because he is black, is a Christian. I was a Christian. All you have to do to be a Christian is believe in what Christians believe in, namely Jesus Christ.

The world is full of Christians who will tell other Christians, (or at least think it and keep it to them selves) that they are not "True Christians" because of something they have done or neglected to do. As long as we have Christians, there will always be Tim Browns.

You know, what is so funny is that there are Christians who actually think Tim Brown is not a Christian. Wow! Does that blow your mind or what?