We receive many interesting, unsolicited E-mails from visitors to our web site.
In the past, we had only published short passages excerpted from their E-mails with our comments.
We have decided to publish the full text of some of the
more interesting incoming E-mails, with our responses.
Almost all of the essays on our web site attempt to describe all points of view on a given topic.
This section is an exception.
Only one of our staff members, working alone, replies to each visitor's questions. Thus, the responses consist of one person's viewpoint. They
may not reflect those of the rest of our group.
Incoming comment: I am sorry your website is failing, but as the Bible
says: [Acts 5:34-39 quoted from the New International Version)] "...For
if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from
God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves
fighting against God." So I wonder if your material is from God or man?
Our response: I would suggest that our web site is largely of human origin.
Our essays explain all sides to each topic. On biblically related topics, this
often means that we explain very liberal beliefs, very conservative beliefs,
Roman Catholic beliefs, and often the beliefs of some of the 1st century Christian movements. These viewpoints often differ significantly from each other.
Only one of these can be "from God." Perhaps none are. The rest is
certain to be "from man." So, as a minimum, perhaps 75% of our web site's
contents will be "from man."
I think that a case can be made that large portions of the Bible are "from
man" as well. Its authors wrote in neutral or positive terms about human
slavery, of genocides against the Canaanites, of the murder of an entire family
for the sins of the father, of the execution of non-virgin brides, of the
execution of gays, of the execution of a man for collecting wood on a Saturday
so that his family would not freeze, of the near genocide of the entire human race during the flood of Noah, of the torture of prisoners, of male
supremacy, of the raping and forced marriages of female prisoners of war..... I
could go on with many other stories in the Bible. I cannot imagine that these
stories represent the will of God. So I assume that these stories all came "from
Incoming comment: I have been looking at your website and there is a lot
of false information. In some places it says that Wicca is fifty years old;
others say it is the oldest religion in time. You guys really need to get
organized and get with the picture because being so dismembered is really
getting to some sensitive Witches.
Our response: I agree with you that the age and roots of Wicca is a
sensitive topic. But I think that we are organized on this subject.
The search engine www.google.com reports
that about 750,000 web sites contain the word "Wicca." Of these, there
are probably about 400,000 web sites managed by Wiccans. If you sample a bunch of them, you
will find that some webmasters say that Wicca is a new religion; Others say that
it is an old religion which goes back to about 800 BCE. Now, our task at ReligiousTolerance.org is
to reflect reality. So we explain that these two beliefs exist and explain why
they exist. If you go to our Wiccan menu, it suggests that you read the introduction essay first. It says:
Depending upon how you look at Wicca, it is either one of the newest or one of
the oldest religions in the world:
Wicca is a recently created, Neopagan religion. The various branches of Wicca
can be traced back to Gardnerian Witchcraft which was founded in the UK during
the late 1940s.
Wicca is based on the symbols, seasonal days of celebration, beliefs and deities
of ancient Celtic society. Added to this material were Masonic and ceremonial
magickal components from recent centuries. In this respect, it is a religion
whose roots go back almost three millennia to the formation of Celtic society
circa 800 BCE.
Sorry, but that is reality. There is no absolute answer to the question of the
age of Wicca. Since our job at ReligiousTolerance.org is to reflect reality, we explain both beliefs,
and don't take sides. Perhaps Wiccans will reach a near-consensus on this matter
in the future. Currently we occasionally receive slightly irate E-mails from Wiccans who have
Your essay on Jesus sinlessness is petty
Incoming comment: I just read your detailed description explaining why
Jesus Christ was actually a sinner....I have never encountered anything so
petty and small-minded in my life. ...It's hilarious that you feel the need to
focus your time and energy on something so ridiculous as this....Yes, you have indeed taken
pettiness to the point of absolute absurdity....you should definitely consider
a career in comedy. P.S. Speak of what you know, not of what you don't.
Our response: We are pleased that you found so much joy reading one of
our essays. However, you make a number of accusations: that our essay is
petty; we are fools; our writings contain lies; we are writing in ignorance.
He was disrespectful to his mother on a number of occasions.
a racist insult at a non-Jew,
He committed aggravated assault in the Temple.
He conspired with others to steal an animal.
The matter is not silly to everyone. It is
of serious concern to those Christians who believe that Jesus could only
forgive sin if he had led a sinless life. Many of them believe that if Jesus
had sinned, then his death on the cross could not have created a route to salvation for the entire human population through
the atonement. Using www.google.com with the search string jesus sinless locates about two million web sites
which deal with this topic. It is not a trivial matter.
About our lack of intelligence, our essay
containing lies, and our ignorance: I think that you misunderstand the
nature of our web site. We try to explain all sides to each question. With
one minor exception related to one popular belief in the criteria of salvation, I don't believe that we have ever
created an original theological thought anywhere in our 7,200 essays.
not theologians; we are religious reporters. Our purpose is to report the
full range of beliefs held by others. This is important because most
religious web sites promote only a single belief system -- the one held by
the webmaster or by the web site's sponsor. If the level of religious knowledge is to be raised in North
America, people are going to have to be exposed to the full range of
religious beliefs. In this essay, some of our site visitors will believe
that Jesus was sinless; others will believe that he sinned; others don't
care. Still others will think like you do: that the question is silly; it is
a 21st century variation on the Middle Ages debate on how many angels can
dance on the head of a pin. Many visitors will hold strong opinions on the
matter. They will consider their personal belief to be true and look upon
the other beliefs that we explain as lies, or as meaningless verbal refuse
written by persons of low intelligence, or as meaningless text written by
uninformed people. Ours is a lose-lose situation. We get complaints from both religious conservatives and
liberals because we list beliefs that the other side holds. We are
chronic victims of the "shoot the messenger while you attack the message"
syndrome. It is only a small leap from the position that a belief not shared
by the reader is stupid, a lie, and ignorant, to the position that we,
as authors, are stupid, liars and ignorant.
If you have a specific concern about an item in this or any
other of our essays, please write back and describe it. We will have a look.