Ernst Roets, AfriForum’s Head of Policy and Action, took to Twitter late last week to draw his followers’ attention to a vigorous debate on the Daily Friend arising from arguments advanced by Ivo Vegter on Tuesday and Friday, and claimed that, in sum, the IRR ‘values ideology over religion, or Liberalism over Christ’.

This immediately struck us at the Daily Friend as an excellent opportunity to deepen the debate about what South Africans believe and what they argue for. I wrote to Roets on Friday evening to invite him to contribute a piece for publication on ‘what you think, and why’, guaranteeing that we would use his contribution ‘as is’, and hoping that he would ‘give this invitation the serious consideration we have given to extending it’.

Roets responded early on Sunday. Though he declined the invitation, he explained why at some length.

I wrote back immediately to thank him for his ‘considered and detailed response’, promising that, while I would ‘respond more fully … [I wished] to convey my appreciation to you for setting out your position as you have done’.

A few minutes later, Roets posted his lengthy email on his Facebook page – an encouraging indication of his willingness to engage publicly.

What follows is the fuller response I’d promised him (contained in a reply to Roets last evening), with the paragraphs from Roets’ email of Sunday morning in bold.

Dear Ernst

Thanks, again, for responding at length. I think the debate in general, and your response in particular, raise several cardinal issues that cut to the heart of liberalism, and indeed the cultural wars you refer to.

I have attempted to address your various concerns point by point.

Dear Michael, I am sincerely grateful that you have taken the effort to write to me and also to invite me to participate in the discussion by writing for the Daily Friend.

  • There is however a serious underlying issue here – and the crux of the matter as far as I am concerned – with regard to which my good friends at the IRR who have spoken about this issue have not yet illustrated comprehension. My issue is not with the IRR’s right to publish the ridiculing of God, Jesus, Christians, other religions and other religious people, but with the IRR’s decision to do so – on its own accord and on its own platform. The editorial in which this decision is defended goes to the core of my concern. If I might paraphrase into slightly less diplomatic language, the IRR’s line seems to be the following: Many of us are Christians – believing that the Bible is the Word of God and everything that goes with it. Many of us aren’t Christian, but religious in other ways. However, we are also liberals. That is why we have decided to ridicule God and mock his believers (including ourselves) on our own platform. We might not agree with what we publish, but we are liberals and that is why it is imperative that we make a mockery of God – you know… to allow for debate and discussion… because debate is very important.

MM: The Daily Friend didn’t think twice about publishing Ivo Vegter’s argument, as it developed a rationalist’s perspective on a topic of broad significance to South Africans; the ‘importation’ of Christianity into the region, its evolution, and its effects. It was considered and forthright. As Vegter was candid in his appraisal, it was obvious that many Christians and perhaps even members of other faiths would object. You are no doubt not alone in seeing it as an instance of ‘ridicule’ and ‘mockery’. But we are not convinced that a difference of opinion about religion – any more than about Marxism, climate change, Critical Race Theory, or BEE – is ridiculing or mocking to the extent that it raises fundamental questions. The truer mockery would have been declining the piece on the grounds that Christian detractors would be offended – because the only possible grounds for such a decision would have been our certainty that detractors would be unable to advance a defence, and that rather than give them the opportunity to prove otherwise, we would devalue the integrity of their faith by denying it.

Reason, like respect, is always best served in practice.

A text I often call on – I referred to it in my own piece on the Daily Friend on Sunday – is poet John Milton’s monumental defence of free speech, the Areopagitica of 1644. Here, he writes: ‘I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat.’

Subjecting every human notion to scrutiny is in itself a token of confidence in a pursuit of truth that has no pre-ordained or preferred outcome. But rendering discussion of certain ideas impermissible has the effect of suggesting they might be lacking, or need protection against reason, or that, were they exposed to argument, they would be the loser.

The notion that any idea must rely on special protection against scrutiny risks seeming not only an admission that it is vulnerable to inquiry, but a confession of its weakness.

This is why we argue that the worst mockery might lie in suggesting that the validity of one or another truth depends on its being shielded from scrutiny.

(Incidentally, Milton – whose thinking is by no means entirely secular – makes this telling point, too: ‘Yet if all cannot be of one mind, as who looks they should be? this doubtless is more wholesome, more prudent, and more Christian that many be tolerated, rather than all compell’d.’)

  • See the problem here? This is to say that the Christians and other theists at the IRR value their political ideology over their belief in God. It is to say that upholding the importance of debate is more important than the sanctity of God.

MM: It is false to suggest there is a choice between upholding liberal principles – less an ideological canon than a way of thinking predicated on the liberty of the individual and equality before the law – and asserting one or another kind of religious faith. Only the former determines membership of the liberal community, and the freedom of individuals to believe what they wish flows from their liberty as individuals.

  • From the publication of these articles, it appears to me that the IRR doesn’t truly comprehend that we are being attacked in a culture war; a culture war in which the core of Western identity, Western history and Western beliefs are the target. The IRR has declared itself to be on the side of Western and Christian values in the recent past, yet the IRR is now ridiculing the values it claims to defend, and celebrating it!

MM: In fact, it is precisely because the ideals of freedom are everywhere contested that the freest argument is so pressing, worth defending and worth celebrating. I often think of the cautionary wisdom of Cushrow Irani, the long-time editor of India’s leading The Statesman newspaper, who warned Indira Gandhi over her determination to impose press censorship in the name of the national interest in the 1970s: ‘There are no freedoms so dangerous as those that are not exercised.’ As so many in the world seem willing to retreat from freedom into the closed world of a misguided ‘cancel culture’ moralism, boldly exercising freedom rather than prevaricating in the face of controversy is the surest counter.

  • Even more startling, the IRR’s defence of Ivo Vegter’s mockery of God, Christians and religion in general, seen within the context of the IRR’s firing of David Bullard because his tweets about racism was “at odds with the principles of the IRR and the Daily Friend” leaves one flabbergasted. The IRR seems to believe that ridiculing God, Christians and religious people in general is not at odds with its principles, while ridiculing people on the basis of race is. The IRR is effectively claiming that offending people on the basis of race is unacceptable, but offending Christ, Christians and religious people in general is worth celebrating, because [of] liberalism.

MM: A few points. First, the IRR does not relish offensiveness of any kind – but that is ultimately a question of good manners, and the success or otherwise of advancing the cause of reason. On principle, the IRR cleaves to the conviction that there can be no right not to be offended in a free society – and essentially on the grounds spelled out under point 3, above.

Second, David Bullard: This is a subject on which we have been widely misunderstood. There is a distinction between our defending everyone’s right of free speech (and the record shows we have done so in the case of, well, David Bullard, but also Julius Malema and Andile Mngxitama), whether we agree with it or not, and our choosing to associate with speech that aligns with our values. Severing a relationship with an associate whose speech we reject because it does not align with our values is not a repudiation of the associate’s right to speak. Defending free speech is not the issue.

A fundamental liberal principle is that people are individuals, not classifiable by race. The fight for non-racialism is too important; you cannot claim to advance a liberal argument if you rely on an illiberal classification of people, which is what Bullard managed to do in exploiting the popular understanding of ‘K word’ (he claims he meant something else – but the fact is he didn’t say so). For this reason, offensiveness did not enter into the decision to sever his relationship with the Daily Friend.

Third, it is flawed to dismiss as offensive a challenge to one’s own truth on the grounds that the absence of unanimity is unbearably discomforting. On the contrary, tolerating offence is the necessary condition of celebrating liberalism’s conviction in the rights of individuals to believe, think and speak as they wish.

  • I am all for public debate. I am also all for publicly engaging in the discussion on religion and debating with atheists. I am however not going to participate on the IRR’s platform on such discussion. The IRR is supposed to be on the right side of the history, but positioning itself as a platform and a voice for anti-Christianity and anti-religion is exactly the opposite. The response that the IRR also published a pro-religion article, or that we ought to remember that the IRR isn’t a religious institution “is neither here nor there”. Publishing a pro-religion article in response doesn’t “put the genie back in the bottle”. This just goes back to my core concern, which is that the IRR seems to value political ideology above faith in God; that the IRR decision makers seemingly believe in God only as far as God complies with the strict demands of their ideology. The ridiculing of God on an IRR platform “is so serious that only an unconditional retraction could suffice”.

MM: It is a liberal article of faith that, should there be any matter that could be thought of as a genie in a bottle, far better that it be let out and confronted. Belief in God is a matter for individuals whose liberty the IRR prizes above all else. It follows that there is no contradiction; conversely, it would be a contradiction to argue that free people should be compelled to choose.

  • There is a larger debate to be had about how liberalism, despite its good intentions, has become the root of Western civilizational self-destruction – precisely through decisions such as these, but perhaps that is a debate for another day and another platform.

MM: Freedom is always difficult because it is always, by definition, a risk. Free people do not always make the best decisions, but the alternative is unfree people being denied the opportunity to make any. Making the case for individual liberty means having the courage of conviction and stamina of reason to address error, to persuade, to reflect, and be always willing to test the verities which, from time to time, sway whole masses of people to the point that they cede their choices to those who would rule or mislead them.

  • The IRR is on the wrong side of the issue and on those grounds alone, a public response on a platform other than that of the IRR is justified.

MM: As I have hoped to explain, the IRR does not consider itself to be on one side or the other on this subject. But if there’s a risk, here, of seeming to be playing with words, this is not the rhetorical ducking of the issue it might seem to be. We have no reason not to entertain the claim that we have erred; other detractors have made similar claims in recent days. It is the argument itself that matters; shutting down the argument, on the other hand, would place the IRR squarely on the wrong side. To the no small extent that your contribution has provided the opportunity to deepen and widen the argument, I thank you for it.

Best wishes

Michael

[Picture: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay]

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95 COMMENTS

  1. Ernst you never argue with a liberal because they are always right and in my humble opinion the most intolerant people on the planet. I have also yet to see (I would gladly be corrected) a liberal apologise for anything. I still do not see an apology to the many Christians for offending them but I do see their protest in the name of debate vigorously defended.
    The fact remains – I and many others have been offended.
    So dear liberal IRR open your debate and let us debate, but if in the process you do offend somebody then have the manners (grace) to apologise.

    • Maureen, I agree with you in that when you ‘unwittingly’ offend someone apologise. I have found that that works in every relationship – especially marriage.

    • It’s not just liberals who may be intolerant and averse to challenge. Anybody who adheres strongly to certain views, like religion (any), climate change, politics, economics, gardening, whatever, is difficult to argue against. None of them apologises.. What I find the height of arrogance is that the followers of all religions seem to think that their religion is sacrosanct, or that religion is sacrosanct in general, and that they seem to think they have acquired some sort of right to take offence when they are challenged. This is similar to the often used retort of racism when arguments are not going their way. Certainly and obviously no apology is at all due for simply challenging religion. Why should there be? Must I apologise for challenging the ANC or DA?

        • Hardly! Please read properly, I did not say all followers of religion I said those who adhere strongly.

          • And there you have been challenged but respond in the same manner you were criticizing. I quote you: “What I find the height of arrogance is that the followers of all religions seem to think that their religion is sacrosanct”

          • I adhere strongly to Christianity and I love to hear people’s arguments against it. I could most probably reason you to the faith.

    • “It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more… than a whine. ‘I find that offensive.’ It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that.’ Well, so fucking what.”

      [I saw hate in a graveyard — Stephen Fry, The Guardian, 5 June 2005]”

    • Maureen, how about re-writing your comment with the words “Christian” and “Liberal” interchanged? It would hold together just as well.

    • A great debate continues, but it does amuse me somewhat how it has veered well away from the one which has often shown itself very dangerous when ridiculed, intentionally or otherwise, proving that Christianity continues to be a soft target for atheists.

  2. Second article I read this morning that is total mainstream media in a thin disguise.
    Thank you Mr Roets for standing up against the likes of these people, but they clearly have their own warped agenda.
    This was it. I am cancelling my membership and support of the IRR.

  3. I agree that people should be free to express their opinion even if it is ridiculing Christianity. I will believe the commitment of the IRR to that principle if they publish an article critical of other religions as well. Looking forward to the article about the negative impact of Islam in Africa soon. Or an article about the persecution of Christianity in secular countries. I am in your corner

    • Anton, I to look forward to an IRR article “about the negative impact of Islam in Africa soon.” But I fear that hell will first freeze over. Christ-followers are ‘easy meat’ because they try to ‘turn the other cheek’.

    • Well said Anton. I also wait for one in anticipation but I really dont expect any of the cowardly commentators on this platform to oblige.

      • I think there’s a misunderstanding. *You* are welcome to write such an article, and, by the arguments put forward in this article, DF should agree to publish it here.

        The freedom to criticize doesn’t mean that you must criticize all parties equally.

        • I agree. But I would argue that the criticism of Islam is not commensurate with its impact. If one uses that as your yardstick, all actions that warrant criticism are Christian.

  4. Mr Morris,

    You are probably the only writer on this site to identify the true aim of the so so called liberals who continue to waffle mainly about nothing, presumably to obfuscate & hide their true intent of destabilisation & intent to destroy the Western beliefs & values.
    Many of those liberal commentators carry out the vilification of western standards without fully understanding what they wish for. Others who are actually in he minority, surprisingly are able to hide among the “useful idiots”! These are the dangerous ones, who keep feeding the “useful idiots”
    the destabilising propaganda. I believe Mr Vegter to be one of those “useful idiots” who appear to be lost souls in search of a socialist Nirvana.

    Thank you Mr Morris for your part in putting the record straight.

  5. Liberalism is like HIV, it destroys the ability of a society to defend itself against forces that seeks to destroy it, all in the name of freedom. Western culture and value systems that embraced such noble liberal ideas such as freedom of religion speech etc are finding that those cultures and value systems that despise these values are using those very same values to undermine the culture that embraced them. To top it all the liberalist virtue signal all the time that they are the only value system that stands for freedom etc etc.

      • that liberalism espouses are being used to undermine them by those who do not share them. My liberal values spring from my experience of the Spirit so are not undermined by others words.

    • Which kind of liberalism are you referring to? Classical liberalism (like what the IRR stands for), or neo-liberalism (socialism)? Are you perhaps conflating the two?

      From recent history it is clear that classical liberals have failed to foresee how their ideology could be pushed beyond its limits to its extreme, and then turned on themselves, as we’re seeing in many parts of the Western world today with things like BLM and critical race theory. Or at the very least failed to prevent the perversion of their ideals. However that doesn’t make the entire ideology untenable.

      Classical liberalism isn’t fated to destroy itself, but does allow itself to be destroyed. It’s up to the society that practices it to use that freedom responsibly, or lose it. That is the lesson the West is learning. The worst part is that much (most?) of society is rejoicing in that loss.

  6. Ernst Roets echoes my sentiments when he says that he does not oppose the right of the IRR to put this debate out there, put that he was taken aback at their decision to do so. There are other, trashy publications that can exercise that right.
    The IRR, in the words of Michael himself, does not see any difference between this topic and debating Marxism and BEE among others. There is, however, a massive difference. You cannot lump the God of heaven and earth in with these worldly issues and expect believing Christians to applaud your decision to do so.
    I am not conceited enough to think that my measly monthly contribution to the IRR is of much consequence to their financial welfare, but I will withdraw it anyway.

    • How petty; a cornerstone of Liberalism is debate over ideas, perhaps you might increase your contribution to give greater effect to this.

  7. i am a Quaker and that says my knowledge of the spiritual realm is based on my inner experience of it, refreshed in regular collective silent meetings for worship, but accessible in other contexts as well.

    So my Christian faith is founded on my own experience not on a belief in other people’s experiences recorded in texts. Those texts can and do inform my faith but only if they confirm my own experience. If they don’t confirm my experience I’m not overly bothered and see them as matter for discussion and debate.

  8. I have not read the article which offended, nor am I familiar with the IRR. Nevertheless, I feel there is one thing I can say based on the foregoing debate: the so-called liberal is too often seen to expect heroic tolerance from those who suffer under its cold, dead hand. From the sublime height of its self-righteous pursuit of the Truth it always seems amazingly capable of remaining blind to the damage it does. In this case I would point to the unfortunate effect that their ridicule ( and yes, it IS interesting how other religions get a pass) feeds the fevered imaginings of certain people whose thirst for revenge and restitution is not slaked by any amount of blood. The alleged evils of Christianity are instantly fastened-on as further evidence of why those who adhere to this belief are themselves evil, guilty of every imaginable sin and deserving of whatever punishment can be meted-out. Thus, the offence felt by Christians and other sensitive folk is regrettable but pales to insignificance beside the other dreadful consequences of this sort of ‘liberal’ diatribe.

    • I expect the IRR would be delighted to receive your critical contributions on Islam or animism. Give it a shot.

    • Well put, but “seasoned” Christians are not bothered by such people and their desire for “self pedastalling” (yes, possibly a new addition to the English language!!) The fight is not against flesh and blood, so these debates are fruitless to the eternal purposes of God and his followers. The wisdom of man is the foolishness of God, so let them praise their inner self worth of intellectualism and fine use of language and argument, it means absolutely squat diddley is the greater scheme of this thing called life. Once upon a time all believers were at enmity with God, but by His grace alone we are reconciled to Him, not by fancy ideologies, or intelligent argument, “lest any man should boast”

      Gratefully saved and gracefully tolerant of the blind we should remain.

  9. Accusing the IRR of launching a “liberal attack” on Western values is ridiculous. One of the core principles of Western values is “seperation of church and state” and religious freedom.

    Furthermore, when Ernst Roets questions whether “upholding the importance of debate is more important than the sanctity of God” the answer is a simple yes. One only needs to look at multiple Middle Eastern countries to to see what happens when one reverses that statement.

  10. This seems to have devolved into an overzealous defensiveness of the sanctity of Christianity which is nothing to do with Vegter’s original argument at all. I saw no attempt to offend or ridicule in what he posited but then I’m secular so am probably callous, blind and equally offensive to Christians.

    • The conversation completely derailed from Vegter’s original article.

      It is interesting how secularists/atheists offend many Christians more than believers of other religions (eg. violent and oppressive radical Islamic fundamentalism)

      • You obviously forget how people in Europe and elsewhere have been killed for ridiculing Islam. Ivo Vegter’s wife would have been a widow by now had he had the guts to say about Islam and it’s prophet what he had to say about God and Christianity. Christians don’t go about killing non-believers or ridiculers of their faith but we feel every bit as offended, it touches the very being of our soul because Jesus Christ is our all in all.

        • Well said, Sonia. We hold to these convictions as we seek to debate right and wrong, just and unjust in our society.

    • Die Weste het sy gat gesien die oomblik toe hy die Christelike godsdiens vir humanisme verruil het. Die sogenaamde ‘seperation of church and state’ is irrasioneel. Al wat daarmee bereik word is dat die ander gelowe dit gebruik om die Weste te vernietig. Jy kan nie in God glo en dan jou staatsbestel buite dit bedryf nie, dit werk nie. Kyk hoe lyk jou Westerse wereld vandag, oppad afgrond toe

  11. While I fully understnd where Daily friend comes from, I nevertheless take exception to the viewpoints expressed by both Ivo Vegter and Ernst Roets. Religion is basically man made rules defined by religious leaders supposedly explaining Biblical principles. No wonder Christ had little time for the religious leaders of His day, calling them “tombs that have been whitewashed” (Matt 23:27). All the while we need to reflect on the destruction these man-made rules have caused to our society and especially the Afrikaner and I would advise Mr. Roets to reflect very carefully on this. The larger part of the Afrikaner is bound by his Calvinistic religious beliefs which in itself makes a mockery of Biblical principals and simply for the following reasons;
    i) It replaces Biblical repentance with Calvinistic pre-destination. The Afrikaner is pre-destined to go to heaven
    ii) It replaces Biblical sanctification with Calvinistic Good Deeds. As long as you do good deeds you will be OK
    iii) It replaces Biblical baptism with Calvinistic circumcision. Your baptism as a baby ensures your acceptance as part of God’s “people” i the same way that circumcision was a prerequisite to be part of the Israelites.
    iv) It replaces Biblical Holiness with Apartheid in the same way Israel had was prohibited to mix with the surrounding nations to remain holy.
    And this false religion gave the National Party the moral justification for its apartheid policies.

    • Good heavens, you are one confused person Where do you get these wacko ideasPre-destination vs repentance, biblical sanctification vs good deeds, biblical baptism vs Calinistic circumcision, biblical holiness vs apartheid. It always ends in apartheid, the ace of trumps. I reject your whole rant, none of it is correct. You have been brainwashed by the Liberals and now sit with a huge guilt complex.

      • Re-read Jack, you’ve got Deons’ argument completely wrong. He is exposing incorrect Calvanist belief system to which the traditional Afrikaner church subscribes to.

    • You have clearly never read John Calvin’s Reflections on Christianity. If you did, you would not be writing this utterly false rubbish.

    • Deon, your criticism would have been valid had you wrote the truth about what calvinism teaches. Unfortunately you are just one more theological Don Quichote charging at the ferocious giant, who is actually merely a windmill. Wherever you got these ridiculous 4 statements from, it is without a doubt not from a source that knows even the first thing about calvinism. It is like the statement I heard years ago that “with his doctrine of predestination, Calvin layed the basis for herrenvolkism”.
      So please, by all means criticise the established churches, including calvinist ones. They do deserve it in a great many respects. But at least do it on the basis of some real facts, not a parroting of ridiculous fake teachings.

    • Deon,
      You are a very confused soul. You do not know the Christians, Afrikaner or any other.
      You do not know Calvinism. I do not have words.

  12. “Second, David Bullard: This is a subject on which we have been widely misunderstood”.

    On the contrary, I think you’ve been understood only too well. Last year in London a whack-job called Kelly-Jo Bluen called the IRR a white supremacist hate group. That obviously hurt so when an opportunity came along to virtue signal your woke credentials you grabbed it. My tweet had nothing to do with the IRR since it wasn’t published by the Daily Friend. In fact, it was none of your business. If you were too dumb to know what the tweet was getting at or too lazy to wait for the appearance of the word ‘kleptocrat’ once the righteous indignation of the woke mob had been fired up then that’s hardly my fault is it? Bottom line is that you panicked and behaved like complete shits. Hardly surprising the IRR’s credibility has taken a massive knock and you seem to be continuing the downward trajectory with Vegter’s anti Christian diatribes.

    • Well said David . I for one enjoyed your little tweet and saw it for what it was . Thank you for that . I’m still smirking about that . The IRR are not misunderstood . They were just virtue signalling like they are doing now .
      The correct course af action for them to take now would be to sort things out with you and then to get Vegter to do a little article on the misfortune radical Muslims has caused Africa .
      But they won’t I’m sure . Many excuses yes but that’s it .

    • I do agree with David here, Vegter dumped an “anit-Christian diatribe”. He did not state a rational position of atheism in modern society, I would have respected that, but he rather attempted a concocted “exorcism” of Christianity from the liberal mind. It was a patronizing attack on Christian beliefs, NOT a rational debate about faith in society, that’s where IRR has faltered. It needs to ensure the debating space is kept clean and respectable.

      • Sadly it’s very fashionable for woke leftist columnists and academics to sneer at those who hold religious beliefs. They are depicted as gullible fools who probably also believe in the tooth fairy or Father Christmas. It must be hugely insulting to have your faith questioned by someone who smugly claims to have inside information that God cannot possibly exist.

        • This is generalising. I am aware of many atheists who are far from left wing. They certainly do not sneer at religion. They only question it. They ardently say that you are entitled to your beliefs and in many cases like Voltaire, they will defend your right to that faith. I know of absolutely no one who claims to have inside information that god does not exist let alone goes about insulting religious people while claiming to have this information. Do you? Atheists/agnostics are quite openminded about this. If credible proof arrives that god exists they they will accept it, but until then…. But why is it insulting to question religion? Man questions everything else? You certainly do. David, you write very well and I enjoy your articles but what you say above seems very out of character.

          • I think you need to put your reading glasses on Henry. Referring to ‘woke leftist columnists and academics’ is pretty specific and certainly not generalising as far as I am concerned. As an agnostic (thank God) I greatly respect those who have faith and often wish I could also feel that spiritual release.

  13. Now lets try something critical and insulting directed at Islam – since you aren’t afraid of controversy.

    Hope you don’t loose your head, apologies, I mean heart (resolve).

    • Interesting point. Didn’t go too well for the folk at Charlie Hebdo nor Samuel Patty did it. I wonder if some radical Christians existed – like those radical Islamists – would Ivo have written his articles and the DF published them? All hypothetical so we’ll never know.

    • Why do religious people insist that questioning or debating and even criticising their religion is insulting? People within their religions do it all the time. But if you are outside, the no, no, no. As long as one is civil, not personal, vindictive, demeaning, or vitriolic etc, then what is wrong?

  14. Dear IRR,

    You are completely wrong if you think Ivo’s peace was from a rationalist school of through that. It is patently from the scientific materialist school of the atheist kind (…consult Friedrich Nietzsche’s writings to understand the actual endpoint of scientific materialism, then read 20th-century history to find the actual devastation of all aspects of human dignity caused by scientific materialism). That is what you have to account for allowing on your platform.

    Everything you stand for is in the balance if you cannot make that proper distinction. Scientific materialism of the atheist kind has never redeemed itself to be conducive to any of the known liberal ideals you profess to stand for. However, it has proven its pathological ability to destroy freedoms.

    The IRR cannot play ignorant of pathologically destructive ideologies like scientific materialism, that have no credentials other than the destruction of human freedoms. Genetic determinism, methodological naturalism, utilitarianism, scientific racism, moral relativism, centralized economic planning, marxism are just some of its most influential scientific materialist ideas. But the overarching problem is that it promotes nothing that even closely aligns with any transcendent human value, and has been actively proven to destroy freedoms.

    Why do you protect it? How do you get there, please enlighten me of the values of scientific materialism of the atheist kind, I have searched and found nothing to convince me of a situation other than the one Nietzsche paints?

    I don’t agree with the IRR not taking action to prevent this pathological world view to be promoted with impunity, especially when you have impugned other views that falls in the same category.

    • Your contribution here, Michael – along with all the others – is an illustration of precisely what we mean. Discomforting or harmful ideas are not neutralised or disarmed by pretending they don’t exist; more importantly, pretending they don’t places them beyond challenge.

      • Thank you, I agree because I think I made the same point with a previous example (*see below) of a human (moral) immune system that paints exactly this point you are making. However, it seems as if you fail to see that liberalism is not about having an acquired (moral)immune deficiency syndrome – that is the dilemma liberalism is facing and you seem to be ignorant – I care about this kind of ignorance. It is in the open and you have an opportunity to act, but you are walking towards future immune deficiencies and festering pathogens that can and should be handled in the name of your liberal cause.

        *

        • from previous post…

          *The nature of something as transcendent as human freedom in a world that more and more ignore our metaphysical human properties in favour of some amoral mechanistic survival utility, ask that we do more than just put human freedom in some undefined sphere of freedoms, because it can be lost at any moment, in fact it is being lost and gained at any particular moment. But like a body that is always exposed to pathogens, but thanks to an amazing working immune system, the body can actually be healthy and thriving, I believe humanity needs a “moral immune system” able to assist our wellbeing and our freedoms. Maybe this unfortunate situation with Ivo’s views is exactly the situation where a moral immune system is supposed to become aware of a pathogen and acts on it. High fever might be the result of the immune response but a healthy body usually is the endpoint.

        • And we do. We vigorously contest anything that threatens the liberty of the person – but the objective is really the means of advancing towards it. Denying liberty as a means, nullifies it as an end.

          • You cannot see that anything I said even implied that I want to silence people that promote really dangerous ideas. I just say that any liberal person should ensure that those dangerous ideas are actually challenged and not give it normative publicity without impunity, i.e. allow it to be aired as a well-formulated debate, should show the necessary openness to dangerous ideas. That article did not associate the IRR with liberalism, it associated you with an abrasive disrespectful form of scientific materialism of the atheist kind.

          • You are right; there are many wrong-headed, and, indeed, dangerous ideas out there. Contesting and, if we are fortunate, defeating them will only reliably occur if we confront them openly, and credibly. The credibility of the enterprise (and the success of defeating dangerous ideas) depends on our being able to demonstrate that we are fair, unafraid and respectful, universally, in putting our confidence in people to make up their own minds. Personally, the most important element of the response to Ernst Roets is the very simple idea that the most respect you can show for someone else’s idea or concept of truth lies in providing the opportunity for it to be aired, defended or contested. The only – profoundly disrespectful – alternative is imagining in advance that no defence is possible, and that the validity of the idea for those who subscribe to it can only be preserved by shielding it from inquiry. The same, of course, is true for liberalism itself, which is why we value the opportunity this page provides for others to criticise arguments (or decisions to publish, or not publish, material) we ourselves have made.

  15. Michael. You state in your piece above that ‘… so many in the world seem willing to retreat from freedom into the closed world of a misguided ‘cancel culture’ moralism, ..’ Can it not be argued that David Bullard was ‘cancelled’ from DF simply because he was perceived to be a member of the ‘white male patriarchy’ by the ‘woke thought terrorists’. I suspect Roets may have a point here. But I guess that’s a different debate.

    • Except that I am sure I rank as a member of the ‘white male patriarchy’ by the ‘woke thought terrorists’. So it doesn’t automatically follow.

      • Most media appear to be terrified of the ‘woke cult’ so disassociation would be an expected response to signal that ‘I’m not one of those’? Disassociation by cancellation maybe? Could Roets actually be correct?

        • Very true, and I think Ernst Roets is correct to highlight the costs or consequences of submitting to ‘cancel culture’ by shutting down one or another topic of discussion – but that, of course, is the argument I am advancing against him. (In the case of David Bullard and his teasing K-word tweet [to be kind about it], the IRR’s decision does not – nor was intended to – in any way hound him out of the public debate, as his comments on this site today, and in the past, indicate.)

  16. This debate leads to nowhere. You cannot really be a true believer in Jesus Christ and a liberalist in the true sense of the word at the same time. The responses in defense of the Christian stance in the debate sparked by Ivo Vegter’s obvious attack on God and the Bible do not really come out strongly against this attack (having been subjective and prejudiced, as Vegter’s article started with a statement that was clearly meant to offend, viz. “Jesus kills” – presumably alluding to the fact that the government gave churches the permission under the lockdown rules to congregate, and this led to superspread of the virus).

    The problem is: You cannot really defend the tenets of liberalism and those of the gospel because they are essentially contradictory. Liberalism has its origin in humanism, which believes that man is inherently good, that all men are brothers, and that every individual is free to think, believe, act, according to their own volition. God doesn’t have a place in this this, for God restricts the free will of man to do as he likes, by “prescribing” how he should morally live.

    Liberalists, although some will deny this, cannot accept that man was created by God, who then set the boundaries to what he was allowed to do and what not. A true liberalist cannot accept restrictions by a Creator, but wants to be free from ANY yoke. Absolute authority by monarchs to rule their subjects autocratically, had to be overthrown in the quest for “liberty, equality, fraternity”, the slogan for the French Revolution. No moral accountability to anyone, less so a god or God.

    In essence the French revolution was the forerunner of the socialist-communist revolutions of our time, where the tenets of humanism took a step further, viz. based on the philosophies of atheist philosophers, esp. scientific dialectic materialism, culminated in bloody revolutions to create new societies where all were supposed to be equal and (NOTE) “free”, and the state was their god, to lead them into Utopia. Al, this was a lie. Instead, the masses were deprived of their “right” to worship according to their consciences and beliefs and were made slaves of a cruel dictatorship of the proletariat which was ironically termed a “democracy”. “Religion is the opium of the masses”, their cruel masters a la the prophetic “Animal Farm” and “1984” declared.

    To support this, the ideology (or religion if you will), of Darwinism, and evolution, aided their ideologies, as there was now proof (in fact unsubstantiated theories which form the foundation of many sciences today) that there wasn’t a creator and that man is just an animal who evolved to a higher level. In order to erase a God who is Creator and has the right to expect his creation to be subject to his will, it followed that everything had to come into being by chance, there had to be a so-called Big Bang, for everything had to start somewhere. Everything but a God, for to acknowledge that, was to lose your rights and freedoms, including to criticize, attack, and revile in your writings whatever interferes with your “religion” to believe there is no supernatural God or Being to whom you may be expected to be accountable for your deeds.

    Humanism cum liberalism cum socialism cum communism (Marxism, Leninism) are bedfellows, and what do they have in common? That humankind doesn’t need a God, that humans can do their own thing themselves. Guess where liberalism and atheism fit in? Would it be wrong to say that liberalism is an antichristian religion?

    Ironically liberalists don’t realise that they are in fact bedfellows of the socialism and communism they reject, and enemies of the true faith in Jesus Christ, whom they decry. If there wasn’t any antagonism towards Christians and their God, Ivo Vegter would not have written an unnuanced article on this topic, about which he clearly wasn’t on top of.

    Granted, there is a case to make out against religion or religiosity, and what religion of all kinds have perpetrated in the name of God or their gods. Whatever the cause for Vegter’s rejection of God and the Bible when he was a youth, the vehement denunciation of the “Christian religion”, and that it should be “decolonised” (meaning in essence abolished like the other colonial legacies in SA), bears proof that he bears deep seated grudges against God and the Bible, not so much against e.g. Islam.

    The question whether Ivo and for that matter the IRR would have openly and severely criticised Islam in the way that it had been done by Charlie Hepdo in France, should there have been more militant adherents of this religion in SA, remains to be answered.

    • “You cannot really be a true believer in Jesus Christ and a liberalist in the true sense of the word at the same time”. To quote Theo. I would take it a little further and say that you cannot be a true believer in any religion for the simple reason that religions tell you what to say, think and do. This quite goes against liberalism. There have been suggestions that liberalism is a bedfellow of things like communism et al. How can this possibly be? Communism, certainly as practised worldwide, is more akin to Nazism. Both serve(ed) to curtail free thought and it would seem that communism is a more a bedfellow of religion in this regard insofar as they both curtail free thought – yet they both could not cohabit in the USSR. I suspect in this case religion was a challenge of the same type to the capturing of the minds and souls of the people by communism. One or the other. Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Buddism etc – each would like, to differing degrees, that one can only belong to one faith.
      Having been brought up in an Anglican family and school I took the opportunity that my 9 month spell in the army presented in its Friday afternoon ‘Kerk Parades” . The representatives (chaplains, pastors etc) of all religions were allowed ‘on site’ to administer to their respective ‘flocks’. I decided to see what the other faiths were all about and for about six Friday’s in succession I attended different faiths. Someone must have picked this up and informed on me and I was summoned before the staff sergeant. I explained that I was only trying to decide which faith was the best for me as so far in my life I had only been exposed to one. I was ordered by next Friday to make my choice and stick to it. That was my first step towards deism, followed by agnosticism and atheism.

      • What a sad, sad story. And how sad that your world view is based on such a fleeting experience. Maybe you should give God himself a chance because it definitely wasn’t God who uttered that order – Jesus would have handled you way, way differently. And He will handle you way, way differently if you gave Him the chance today.

    • There was nothing in Vegter’s article that hadn’t already been well rehearsed by Hitchens and the other Horsemen, apart from a more pointed local flavour. What is interesting is the indignant response in replies and comments. In my view, it simply shows that South Africans can be thin-skinned and aggressive at the slightest point of provocation, which we all know to be true in so many facets of SA life. In the readily viewable Hitchens and others’ debates on Youtube (give them a look), you never hear the plea to “give other religions a bashing” as a winning argument. Because that feeble effort merely is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

  17. I need to clarify something in my first paragraph above: “The responses in defense of the Christian stance” meaning responses by the writers of the IRR to Vegter’s article and the comments of those in defense of his article.

  18. In case my arguments re liberalism are misunderstood in my above comments, I referred to the freedom to live your life as you seem fit, and express yourself as you like, without any restrictions. Obviously I am not against freedom per se, for then we would be under a dictatorship, which stifles all opinion. Opinions are o.k if they respect other people and their opinions and beliefs. If freedom can be expressed with mutual respect and within the limits of common decency, I am for it. With that I do not necessarily endorse liberalism as an ideology. That is why I have subscribed to and read The Daily Friend, for some contributions do expose the threats and wrongdoings in our society and the government of the day doesn’t like these exposures. If it is about the exposure of unfairness, unrighteousness, double talk, hypocrisy, the right to criticise wrongdoing, I am all for it.

  19. Well said Theo! I can write something much shorter now. I like most of Ivo Vegter’s writings and used to look forward to his pieces on DM as someone who really did understand a lot of the false arguments advanced by the woke. I gather he was censored from there and I was pleased to find he was platformed here. I have to say that I also thoroughly enjoy David Bullard, I have been at events where he was a speaker, and he also has an incisive mind, a ready wit and wonderful turn of phrase. I was not aware that IRR had deplatformed him, and I suggest that is an error. We need writers like him.

    I will admit that I was surprised and more than a little upset at the tone of Ivo’s attack on Cristianity, because I had not realised that he was so strongly atheist with an axe to grind with the organised church. I am Christian, indeed I may be capable of characterisation as an extremist, because I really do believe that the person we call Jesus Christ walked this earth as both God and Son of Man and still lives today. I have found that he has little need of me to protect Him though. As for organized religion, especially some of the traditional churches, I remember spending time with a “very rev”, the Dean of Umtali (as it was) who shared that he had been an Anglican priest for 18 years before he met Jesus. Of course, once you meet this being who is both man and God, it changes everything.

    I identify a bit with Ivo and other followers of atheism, because there was a time in my university days that I also indulged in a bit of Christian baiting having become somewhat hostile through my experiences with some ministers. I also struggled with seeing parts of the Old Testament in fundamentalist’s terms given the considerable oddities some of the old testament stories contain. Indeed, there was a time I read a lot of atheist writers and had my doubts that my experiences with the person of Jesus were real or the product of delusion, as they would have it. I had to admit the possibility. I suspect Saul was in the like position at a stage, before he had his unmistakable meeting on the road to Damascus.

    I would liken it to knowing personally someone who is known in the news. You think you know something about them because you have read about them and what other people have said about them, but it is always someone else’s experience and you have a lot of information of varying veracity, but no actual knowledge of that person. I spent quite a lot of time with a retired person who had been extremely famous (I will not name drop) and it was a revelation to me how different the real person was to the image.

    When I finally did meet Jesus Christ, I wasn’t sure it was Him, couldn’t believe it was, but He did something for me that was unmistakable and which rules out the “imaginary friend” hypothesis. Again I won’t share it here, this is not about me. So, I will continue to read IRR although I am disappointed both in it and Ivo for trying to demean something they do not understand, simply because it is so very fashionable. I will pray for both of you, just as those in the early church prayed for Saul, that you too will have the meeting.

    • Thank you Ron – your story is very much like mine! And this is where true Christianity is different: in stead of retaliating negatively, we pray for those who belittle us because we realise they need a change of attitude, or mind as it were – just imagine a world where we all had the mind of Christ! You and I, and many millions of true believers in Christ have exactly that to look forward to when the new heavens and the new earth arrive!

  20. It is futile to try and intellectualise discussion about religion and whether comments automatically label people as liberals or other. Any discussion about religion inevitably triggers defensive responses from those who believe strongly in god/s and, because those beliefs are based on faith, the responses cannot have any factual or evidence basis to them. Some believers feel “honour bound” by their religion to respond to any challenges to it and perhaps that is what motivated Mr Roets to criticise the IRR for allowing a journalist to stimulate a discussion about colonisation and religion. Instead of countering the challenges to the beliefs themselves, it is thought to be acceptable to attack the platform on which the discussion is being held?

    • The hollow clanking sound you make when you denigrate religious people’s arguments as if it by definition is not based on reason or evidence does really contribute to the problem at hand. If you think that type of religion bashing noise in your mind makes you look intelligent then enjoy your delusion. Like Ron so eloquently ended his comment above, I will also pray for you and the class of haters you represent to also have a meeting with Jesus, the Risen King of all Creation.

      Just to humour your thrust for facts and reason, maybe read:
      The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution Audible Logo
      James Hannam (Author)
      https://www.amazon.com/Genesis-Science-Christian-Scientific-Revolution/dp/B00BI39RRK

      • And may I add Richard Baker that I believe Ernst Roets has so much on his plate at Afriforum that the fact that he felt the need to take up this matter with IRR must mean more to him than you give him credit for. You have a nasty attitude by looking down your nose at others.

  21. I thought you first post in this debate was by far the most thoughtful and beautifully written. This entry, is a very good defense of liberalism. The kind I can get behind. That said:

    (1) I think the last week underscores how fragile liberalism really is in South Africa. That the IRR and other liberals should have a far more realistic appraisal and expectation of liberalism in South Africa. Most South Africans are conservative and religious. I have been consistent over the last couple of years in pointing out that we should be careful to assume support for the DA – translates into support for classic liberalism in principle. Dare I say for platforms like the DF and even the IRR if it offends deeply held believes, traditions and aspects of identity.

    I still hold DA support is explained by different political pull factors to do with identity, minority status and making sense of especially white South Africans’ place and future in South Africa. In that sense – classic liberalism – continues to be a fig leave for more primordial and base motivations. Not entirely instrumentalist either, because people see some merit in classic liberalism as a political framework as well. (constructivism probably being the sweet spot to explain liberalism and minorities).

    Ditto the IRR’s much favored survey questions and answers on race – I am more skeptical…Many will be happy to align themselves with liberalism – until it offends their religion. Race – theory and practice is two different things…

    I think what you see here is also part of the consequences of South Africa’s own culture wars and identity politics. Often clumsily imported from the US by our PodBros and Twitterati. Part of the danger here, is how we are encouraging binaries and echo chambers. I think classic liberalism and the IRR risks being pulled into this and in the process find it very hard to extract themselves or maintain their liberal principles. (Part of aligning yourself with say for a lack of a better word the alternative media / RSA’s IDW platforms is that is a whole bunch of people grouped together because of the binary nature of the culture wars. Does it make everyone aligned and at what cost?)

    Ask yourself how much of the “criticism” here is aimed at the actual merit of the argument, versus the notion that you are criticizing the victims in the culture wars? (Again, the right is becoming increasingly like the left as they continue to play the same game)

    I think this has already happened to the DA – which I think is strategically misguided in aligning themselves along similiar lines and will get a similiar backlash when their “liberal principles” clashes with a culture wars / identity politics issues. The MM lesson was better balance and re-calibration. Not embracing the other extreme. It is trying very hard to be associated with a corner – but they need to think equally hard about how compatible it is in the long run. (They might claim they are fighting identity politics – but I am sorry their actions, behavior and temperament suggest they have simply aligned themselves with a corner)

    (2) On a more philosophical level. Ernst’s best point is his 2nd last. I have moved on personally from libertarianism, free market fundamentalism and the sort of hyper rational humanism that some classic liberals hold in South Africa – to a more agnostic position. This article of faith – that more liberty is always good or that it is always a risk worth taking – is no longer convincing. It is simply not true that most humans value liberty – many if not most will choose security and belonging over liberty. Indeed classic liberalism properly understood – would recognizes that it never took root in the abstract and divorced from organic links back to society. It is because people had a shared sense of belonging and security that they could extent liberties. Liberty doesn’t guarantee we will root out bad mistakes or that it is even worth the risk – look again at history. The post-liberal critique of liberalism has a lot of merit – individual freedom and economic liberalism – has come at a cost and one modern liberalism increasingly cannot contain. Hence so may classic liberals want to go back to classic liberalism but their own ideology cannot talk about the genie that needs to be put back in the bottle / how to do so because it means restricting liberty / taking conservative view of politics… People are most content when they can live meaningful lives and that is often done within a framework of values and virtues that are fairly consistent. The more freedom there is to question everything the more there is doubt – which in turn reinforces attempts to reassert truth by abstract totalitarian means. If rational liberalism has destroyed much of tradition, religion and civil society it has given us the state, atomistic individuals, technocratic liberalism and social justice in return. Freedom’s biggest threat is anarchy – at its most destructive when it is between rival faiths (western culture wars). Humans want meaning and purpose over freedom. To not have to live in doubt.

    • Thanks, Helgard. We have long valued your thoughtful and discerning – and, of course, critical – contributions to debate on this site. I think you are quite right – here, and in other posts – to test the scope or the limits, as you see it, of the arguments we make. It is important to be reminded that the credibility of the liberal project depends on steeling ourselves to address the risk of overlooking what might be a gap between idea and actuality. I would like to give more thought to some of the points you raise here, but, in the meantime, thanks for engaging in this way.

      • Sad what people who call themselves journalists can come up with to fill lines on a website. Dailyfriend is so unbelievable insignificant in the bigger scheme of things. I can barely waste these 45sec to write this reply.

    • You would find Acemoglu’s & Robinson’s latest book, The Narrow Corridor, very useful given your ‘retreat from Western Liberalism’ (Edward Luce). To quote from the back cover : “Liberalism is hardly the ‘natural’ order of things”…..”There is also a happy Western myth that where freedom exists, it’s a steady state, arrived at by enlightenment…..rather, the corridor to liberty is narrow and stays open only through a self-reinforcing struggle between state and society – between elites and citizens.”

      • Yeah – thanks Gavin. Big fan of their last book about institutions as the focus for why nations fail. I am aware of Luce, but have not read anything comprehensive. A big part of my type of political program is encouraging and building the sort of institutions that help mediate this struggle between state and society. The post-liberal critique being that hyper modern liberalism have destroyed most of these mediating institutions of the middle or turn them / replaced them with liberal right-think/speak courts removed from organic links back to society (politics of negotiation, compromise and tolerance). Hence the populist backlash…

  22. Try critising the most hateful of all Abrahamic desert religions, Judaism and see what happens.
    Deplatforming likely loss of employment and appearances in court will follow.

  23. Ernst, as much as I think Igo’s piece is drivel, I will defend the right for him to write drivel. It is called freedom of speech. If you don’t like that, please write something so I can assess your mind.

  24. As DF and MM and few others seem to conclude that to ridicule Christianity is only being “liberal” , then please write the same stuff on Islam or Judaism. Then as we see heads rolling we can start the debate again.

  25. Liberalism and communism… two extreme poles of the same planet. And in the middle somewhere we hide from it’s cold and uninhabitable thoughts, seeking some some sunlight to energize our hearts.

  26. Humans are biologically programmed to have faith. It is what we are. We need it to make sense of the world, to deal with our mortality, the brevity of our presence and the great “why”.

    Religions will always be with us and you could even categorise atheism as a religion!

    Be that as it may, the central issue here is the Bullard question. I’m sorry IRR but as much as I support much of what you do, your turn on Bullard was utterly hypocritical and cost you credibility in this debate. The best thing you could have done was the following:

    “Bullard writes for us in his professional capacity. Whatever pranks he may get up to in his personal time is none of our business. That said, and while we may disagree with his methods, we can see his aim was expose the hypocritical racism of the woke left.”

    Had you done that and simply carried on with Bullard, you would have street cred in the “freedom of expression” battle. Your position as the IRR and your position on free speech places a different onus on you which you completely fail to appreciate.

    If you are going to allege you are a bastion of free speech then live it. Firing an author because he is a naughty boy torpedoes the reputation of the IRR.

    Bullard was a spectacular own-goal. You are going to have to drop the arrogance and admit you were wrong and should have taken a different tack to get your hard-earned reputation back.

    In these times this is absolutely critical. Almost all of corporate SA has become beholden to the woke left and the ANC through cadre deployment and BEE. Many purport to be on the side of freedom, only to compromise and betray the people when the left shoe pinches.

    The people are extremely sensitive to betrayal, and vastly more now after the great C-19 heist of what little was left of our freedoms and liberties. Our pensions are all but gone and the pension funds have betrayed us for 30 pieces of silver.

    And that is why your Bullard move was perhaps the gravest error you have made in the last number of years. It critically undermined you when your supporters and those on the fence were watching intently – will you live your principles or not?

    You failed, dismally.

    Publishing Vegter’s article on religion is a cheap shot. Its an argument we’ve heard for decades – yawn.

    Your credibility was tested on Bullard and that’s where you failed.

    You have a lot of work to do but you will have to face up to your failure to your supporters at least.

    PS: Frans Cronje – Trump is going to win

  27. Christians are easy pickings, soft targets because we turn the other cheek. I have yet to see ‘brave’ liberals attack the Islamic faith as they do Christianity. You are all cowards. God hates cowardice.
    Nevertheless, as a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ the only way to Abba Father in heaven, I forgive you. May you come to know Jesus Christ, the lover of your soul.🩸✝️💜⚘🕊
    ♡•~•♡•~•♡•~•♡•~•♡•~•♡•~•♡
    “And you will be hated by all for My [Jesus’] name’s sake…”
    Matthew 10:22

    “But I [Jesus] say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
    Matthew 5:44‭-‬45

    “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;”
    I Peter 2:21‭-‬23

    • Well said Amanda! We do not apologise for what we believe and Who we believe in. God is God and whoever thinks he is wiser than God will soon enough find out his or her folly. Being Christians however, we pray that Godly wisdom, when asked for it is given by God liberally, ungrudgingly and without reproach, will open the unbelievers’ eyes to bring them out of spiritual darkness to the Light. When we “feel “honour bound” by their religion to respond to any challenges to it” as it is put by one Richard Baker, it is because we know what we have in Jesus Christ our Lord – that which could never be experienced by an unbeliever – and our sincere desire for everyone to have what we have.

  28. Nordic religion = true religion. (Asgard)
    2nd-closest religion = Christian religion. (Midgard)
    3rd: Other things.

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