Watch Your Minister, Pastor, or Priest

A reply to the second bonus proof of God is Imaginary.

God is Imaginary states four marks that someone is a true Christian:

  1. They pray quietly (Mt 6:5-8)
  2. They live quietly (1 The 4:11-12)
  3. They do not have wealth (Mt 6:19-21 and 19:21)
  4. They are accompanied by signs and wonders (Mk 16:17-18)

No minister lives by the first three points, nor is accompanied by the appropriate signs and wonders, therefore God is imaginary.

Before examining each of the points discussed above to see if the anonymous critic has even used these verses correctly, it is necessary to define what an ad hominem tu quoque argument is. That type of argument basically uses inconsistency between the professed beliefs of a person and the actions of said person to declare that the beliefs are false. Generally, it is considered a logical fallacy, since the veracity of a person's beliefs is completely independent of the way a person lives his life.

On to the four points. First, Matthew 6:5-8 was discussing praying specifically for show. Earnest prayer, if prayed publicly by a minister, is reasonable to exclude from this proscription. New Testament evidence shows us that congregations were regularly led in prayer by teaching elders and deacons, even in the first century. This is not a conflict with Jesus' teachings at all.

Second, the passage from 1 Thessolonians was addressed to average Joe Christian, not pastors. The pastoral letters of 1 Timothy and Titus contain proscriptions for elders and deacons (pastors are considered teaching elders).

Next, we’ve touched on the wealth issue before. There is no conflict between accumulating wealth and being a Christian; Christ commands us to not depend on that wealth.

Finally, two problems arise with the passage from Mark. Signs and wonders were given only to apostles, not to every Christian. We do not expect Christians, regardless of faith, to be able to drink poison or handle deadly snakes. Also, this portion of the Gospel of Mark is part of the longer ending, which we don't find in earlier versions of this gospel. It is a later addition to the gospel and so its inspiration cannot be certain. That means that the promises made in that final passage are unlikely to have come from Jesus' mouth and therefore no Christian can reliably depend on these promises.

The historical truth of the Resurrection of Jesus is the only thing that is necessary to prove Christianity. The ability of its members to adhere to every letter of the Bible is never part of the truth claims. The fact is, many Christians fall short. This doesn't mean that God is imaginary. It only means that Christians are human, too.