Archives for October 2017

Never Discuss Religion With a Unitarian

I’ve never liked to fight with people. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think I’ve thrown a punch in anger since my junior year in high school, more than forty years ago. It isn’t my natural instinct to start an argument.

I’ve only had one formal debate in my entire life, and it wasn’t my idea in the first place. By the same token, I’m not afraid of a challenge, or to defend my personal beliefs.

My opponent on that momentous occasion was a former president of American Atheists, a guy named Ed Buckner. He proposed our debate only a couple of months before my book Counterargument for God was published, so I saw his challenge as an opportunity to test the substance of that argument. Personally, I liked Ed. If he ever wants a rematch, I’d only have two conditions: I don’t want to argue cherrypicked verses from the Bible all night, and a second debate should be held on Ed’s home turf, the normal meeting place for  freethinkers in the Atlanta area. I’ve come to believe there are two kinds of atheists — the kind that hate Christianity and religion in general (anti-theists), versus others who also don’t believe in a supernatural God, but without the latent hostility toward people with religious beliefs.

A handful of my virtual friends on Facebook are the latter variety of atheist, and those are some of the friendships I value the most. Recently one atheist friend took the time to send me this message:

After years of (dogmatically) thinking creationists as ignorant/dogmatic etc. (much like many feel about atheists), you are the one who has taught me otherwise. I’m glad you friended me so that I got a chance to have a better insight of your broader worldview and, importantly, your willingness to challenge your own beliefs and assumptions on complex ideas. You are not what I would’ve assumed and I’m glad to know you. You have broadened my worldview. I just thought you’d like to know that.

My friend was right. I liked, and more importantly needed to hear those words very much. Life is a precious gift, and I’ve often wondered if I’ve been squandering that gift by wasting my time on people who aren’t interested in an honest discussion…which brings us around to my explanation of why you should never discuss religion with a (so-called biblical) Unitarian.

I’m more convinced than ever that I don’t want to spend eternity in Hell, because I’ve already experienced a temporal version: my experience of trying to to have a reasonable conversation with a Unitarian. I happened to be listening to the “Unbelievable” podcast featuring Justin Brierly, as he was interviewing Christian theologian James White as his featured guest that day.

A Unitarian caller managed to get on the air and spent what seemed like an eternity insisting that Jesus was not God, specifically arguing his point, which was the Book of Acts did not explicitly state that the apostles taught Jesus was God. Mr. Brierly and Mr. White were very polite, but after about ten minutes of the conversation going around in circles, they needed to move on to discuss other topics. So they thanked the caller and ended the call. And like a complete idiot, I decided to contact that caller through the Unbelievable Facebook page, to see if I could provide more satisfactory answers to his questions, without the constraints of time that limit what may be accomplished on an internet podcast.

After all, in the Book of Proverbs, the Bible tells us:

Do not give answer to a fool according to his foolishness, lest you also be like him. But speak with a fool according to your wisdom lest he think in his soul that he is wise.

It was possibly the worst mistake I’ve ever made in my entire life. The simple answer is no — it just isn’t possible to answer the questions to that particular caller’s satisfaction, unless you are willing to accept his argument and agree with the Unitarian position that Jesus was not God, and the Trinity is a false doctrine. Naturally, I tried. I even submit that I gave it my best effort. I cited verses like Romans 10:9 and John 14:6, to which my nemesis triumphantly replied, “But the apostles never taught that Jesus was God in the Book of Acts!”

So, I pointed out that the third “person” in the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, literally descended on the apostles on the Day of Pentecost, which was revealed in Acts.

To be brutally honest, his reply was so stupid, I’ve forgotten what it was.

But I hadn’t yet thrown in the towel to concede that logic, reason, and scriptural evidence were never going to put a dent in this person’s conviction that Jesus was not God, because the apostles never taught that to the original church in the Book of Acts. It became a childish mantra.

Finally, I argued that I believed what Jesus had said about himself. He told his followers that He and the Father were one. I pointed out that Jesus claimed to have existed before Abraham, and specifically used the exact same phrase that Yahweh used with Moses, saying “I AM.”

I added that the people who witnessed the miracles of Jesus and heard him teach had accused him of claiming to be God on multiple occasions.

What it all boiled down to was this — according to Unitarian teachings, the apostles never explicitly taught that Jesus was God, and Jesus himself never used the exact words “I am God.”

Under normal circumstances, this would create an impasse. My adversary in the debate and I would have to agree to disagree, and move on with our lives.

However, biblical Unitarians are not normal people. At least, this one guy wasn’t.

For almost two months since that fateful exchange, that same Unitarian lunatic has tagged me practically every day, to imply his argument had been victorious because I lost interest in arguing with him. Even though I have asked this person nicely on numerous occasions to find another way to amuse himself without trying to badger me into continuing our exercise in futility…I’m never going to accept Unitarian teachings because I’m not nearly narrow-minded enough, and I no longer care to try correcting this individual’s woefully mistaken interpretations of the Bible.

Perhaps not every Unitarian acts [pun intended] like this person. It is possible that a vast majority of Unitarians are basically nice, normal people you’d be happy to call a friend. Just to be safe, though, when you do call them, make sure to limit the conversation to the weather, cooking, sports, or basically anything but religion.

Quite frankly, I’ve had more meaningful conversations with brick walls, because the wall at least will echo my words, which typically utilize logic and reason.

In summary, if you’d ever like to experience what it feels like to have an ongoing conversation with a Unitarian about Jesus, simply place your hand flat on a counter or table top, and smash it with a hammer as hard as you can.

You’ll probably break a bone or two, but at least you’ll learn never to repeat that same mistake again.