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Old 01-06-2007, 05:19 PM   #1
Dagobahn Eagle
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Thumbs down The "Eternal Forces" game - and the Left Behind franchise in general

I was visiting the American Atheists Web site for the first time today, and its front page Press Release caught my eye.

Quote:
Originally Posted by American Atheists Press Release
"A new video game targeting conservative Christians promotes intolerance and demonizes Atheists and other nonbelievers, gays, and even members of minority religious groups", an Atheist civil rights organization warned today.
It turns out their target is the latest spawn of the Left Behind franchise. This time, a video game.

For those who aren't familiar with the Left Behind franchise, it originally started as a book idea which according to the author was intended to scare people into joining the Christian faith. Since its birth, the Left Behind franchise has grown significantly. It has spawned a board game, a series of children's books, and a full-lenght movie.

The latest installment, Left Behind: Eternal Forces takes place during the Rapture and has you lead a Christian militia in the fight against a terrorist organization based on the United Nations. Your goal is to convert nonbelievers, and if you come out negative score-wise, unintentional collateral damage can be forgiven if you spend a minute praying to God.

The game received plenty of negative reviews (such as its 3.4 out of 10 from GameSpot, which states that "[a]nother good thing about the Rapture is that it will take you away from disastrous, buggy games like Left Behind: Eternal Forces"). In addition to taking flak for its allegedly bad gameplay ("allegedly" as I haven't played it yet and don't know), t's also been accused of racism, sexism, promotion of religious war, and skewing of religious messages.

Personally, I find all this rather disconcerting, namely the concept of scaring people into joining Christianity and sticking with it. I believe that using fear as a motivator is an immoral, irrational way of getting a point across. I also hold a grudge against the whole Rapture/End Times/Apocalypse belief in the first place. Not only would the end of the world and the subsequent billions of deaths be a bad thing, but the belief that such an event is imminent can impossibly do anything good for anyone. In fact, it's actively causing certain fundamentalists to act in destructive ways, such as by endorsing natural catastrophes in the belief that they are prerequisites for the End of the World.

I'm downloading the demo of the game as I write this, to see if I can make up my own opinion on the title. But if I am to believe GameSpot's review, I'm not in for anything good.

More references:
Game's Web site
IGN Review
Game Revolution Review (I love this one!)
BBC reports on controversy
Wired's take on the game


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Old 01-06-2007, 05:37 PM   #2
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Unfortunetly there are such sections of the Bible where they take this viewpoint, or the current American policy of "join us or die." Whichever way you justify it I consider it the opposite extreme of hardcore Atheism. In my mind this is not Christian religion any more than Al Qaeda believes in Islam. Honestly, isn't religion meant to promote tolerance? It's a great disservice to the religion when people start spouting this crap.
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Old 01-06-2007, 08:37 PM   #3
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Honestly, isn't religion meant to promote tolerance?
lol


Anyway, this game sounds like it sucks ass in all ways possible. If anyone actually goes out and forms their own militia to fight heathens after playing this game, it's because they're retarded, not because of the game. Meh.
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Old 01-06-2007, 08:54 PM   #4
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I had a go at the demo and it wasn't as bad as I expected it to be. The theme music and background movie were the best part (yes, that says something about the demo).

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Old 01-06-2007, 09:22 PM   #5
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Games for Windows did a segment on this last issue, rated very poorly and still had enough energy to make jokes about gunning down those who won't convert. Is the demo "funny" enough to warrant playing?

EDIT: Oh noes. Big Huge signed a deal with them for a sequel.

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Old 01-07-2007, 12:39 AM   #6
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It looks like the Army of God is trying to recruit soldiers.
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Old 01-07-2007, 09:24 AM   #7
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It's pretty crazy, actually. Several reviews call it an "unintentional parody" of fundamentalist Christianity.

"Beware the evil musicians!" is my favorite line so far. See, heavy metal musicians are of the Devil, and
Quote:
While bullets do fly, more important is “spirit” - the saved have it, everyone else doesn’t. As your units pray and sing, glowy spirit balls fly around between them. The evil rock musicians and nurses can counter with their own glowy balls of, uh, anti-spirit I guess, by playing the guitar or swearing (although you never actually hear any bad words). According to the game, every time you swear, a Christian loses faith. No ****ing ****. Two down!


Quote:
Honestly, isn't religion meant to promote tolerance?
One of the principles of Christianity is to "Love thine neighbor like yourself". Another is to stone to death whoever tries to get you to worship other gods.

So it's more like tolerance of those who agree with you. Unless you take the "love the Sinner"-doctrine into account.

Quote:
It's a great disservice to the religion when people start spouting this crap.
I don't know about that. Left Behind is an incredibly popular book series, although probably the vast majority of its readers are Christians. I wouldn't be surprised if it hasn't converted quite a few people.

Edit: Oh, and did I mention that the game is full of misleading lies about evolution and science?


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Old 01-07-2007, 01:49 PM   #8
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Hilarious stuff. I think I shall buy the game just for the irony value of the act.

Normally, I would say "if one is irrational enough to allow such a blatantly stupid game to affect one in any way, one is necessarily damaged goods to begin with." But in this case, this seems to be less of a game and more of a propaganda document, which bludgeons the player over the head with judaistic dogma presented as fact. So it might well be more effective at changing the opinions of the impressionable than your average game.

Still, I think it might make more people laugh at fundamentalist Christianity because of its sheer ludicrousness, which would be a good thing of course. So it could backfire on the fundies.

Quote:
Originally posted by Dagobahn Eagle:

One of the principles of Christianity is to "Love thine neighbor like yourself". Another is to stone to death whoever tries to get you to worship other gods.

So it's more like tolerance of those who agree with you. Unless you take the "love the Sinner"-doctrine into account.
Yep. In point of fact, it's one of the great tragedies in the history of dissident philosophy that stories about an activist trying to point out the immorality of judaistic dogma (Jesus) should be pervertedly lumped in with the barbaric old testament, to form the bible.

I mean, the broadly philosophical teachings of the character of Jesus (whether he was real or merely a fictional amalgamation) have no place alongside the morally bankrupt old testament. And to link the vindictive weather-god of the old testament with the much more new-agey concept of a forgiveness-based-divinity... is quite possibly the greatest PR coup ever staged by the intolerant fundie set.

Now old-testamenteers get to hide their bigotry behind a shield of apparent morality... because they get to call themselves "Christians".

It's similar in a way to the debasement of theravada buddhism (essentially based on a philosophical treatise) into the theistic form of mahayana. The main difference between mahayana and other irrational theistic beliefs is that mahayana hasn't been responsible for many atrocities worldwide. Which is admittedly a considerable saving grace.


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Old 01-07-2007, 02:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dagobahn Eagle
One of the principles of Christianity is to "Love thine neighbor like yourself". Another is to stone to death whoever tries to get you to worship other gods.
I always thought Deuteronomy was a funny chapter.
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Old 01-12-2007, 08:04 PM   #10
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Really dumb game period.

The 'Left Behind' series is fiction. I don't think Jenkins ever intended for it to be a literal version of Revelation. It's meant to entertain, and does so well enough to sell a lot of copies. A lot of people like the 'Good triumphs over Evil in the End' theme in novels, Jenkins delivers it.


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Old 01-12-2007, 08:46 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
The 'Left Behind' series is fiction. I don't think Jenkins ever intended for it to be a literal version of Revelation. It's meant to entertain
The bible is also fiction, but that doesn't stop unscrupulous people from using it to influence others. And according to Lahaye and Jenkins, (the authors of "Left Behind") to exercise this literary influence WAS one of their goals:

"Right away [before the first book was written] Dr. LaHaye told Jenkins he wanted to try to reach both the believer and the unbeliever."

"... As difficult as that was, it proved to be a stroke of genius on his (Dr. LaHaye's) part … (because) we have ultimately reached both audiences—believers and unbelievers! What's even more exciting," Jenkins continues, "is that many people have come to know Christ. That's been the dynamic from the very beginning."

"In fact, one of the hallmarks of the Left Behind series has become the inclusion in each book of at least one event described by Dr. LaHaye as 'a believable conversion that's reproducible in the heart of the reader.'"


And judging by the indoctrinatory industry that has sprung up around the "Left Behind" series of propaganda documents, I'd suggest that whatever the intensity of their desire to "entertain", it is far less important than their desire to indoctrinate, or the fact that the "novels" are currently being directly used to further evils.

References: LeftBehind.com Yuck.

PS: I actually forced myself to read some extracts from the novel before posting this. The main character in the original is called "Rayford Steele". I poop you not. It's not only immoral propaganda, it's a crime against literature!


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Old 01-12-2007, 08:51 PM   #12
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Indeed:
Left Behind Games: When we started Left Behind Games 5 years ago, we had a dream. It was a noble dream, to build the most successful “inspirational and family” video game publishing company in the world. Everyone knows that the entertainment industry, especially video game publishers, create dark content…and the idea to create games with positive morals and values is an aspiration almost everyone can get behind.
Left Behind may very well be entertaining to read, but it's nonetheless created for the purpose of converting non-believers and strengthen the standings of those already recruited.

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Old 01-12-2007, 09:18 PM   #13
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Meh. It's all just preaching to the converted IMHO. Aside from Homer Simpson, I doubt too many people who are that impressionable are going to want to buy the game or the books if they're not already down with the themes they bash you over the head with. Besides, as a fan of games like Manhunt and the GTA series which come from a lot less morally defensible standpoints, I really don't have that much of a problem with the Left Behind crowd having their say. If it's not a good game in and of itself, it'll drop like a brick into the bargain bins anyway.


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Old 02-17-2007, 12:40 PM   #14
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Meh. It's all just preaching to the converted IMHO.
I can all too easily see it pushed on RTS-hungry kids, though.

It also fuels the Creationist/theist side of the evolution and theology debates with "articles" which, if they're all like the one below, are nothing short of garbage:

Big picture warning


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Old 02-17-2007, 01:10 PM   #15
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In response to Spider AL, the reason the Old Testament is lumped in with the teachings of Jesus is that the prophecies that told of his coming were in there. They were like the prelogue, the backstory so to speak. You saw that Jesus fulfilled all those prophecies and you saw the kind of world he was coming into.

When Jesus was cruxified, and rose on the third day (note: this is often the time where I start to get flamed when I make this post. This is assuming Cathlolic dogma to be true), he made a new covenant. All the stuff of the old testament didn't fly out the window exactly, but it was replaced by the New Covenant of Jesus.

http://www.wcg.org/lit/law/otl/otl04.htm
A choice quote from that website...

"Comment: Christians have a relationship with God, and that relationship is on the basis of the new covenant, not the old. In the new covenant, God gives some commands and makes some promises, and those promises have already begun to be fulfilled. The Holy Spirit is given to us not only to transform our hearts but also as a down payment of greater blessings to come (2 Cor. 1:22). Just as the old covenant was made before all the promises were delivered, so also the new covenant has been established before all its promises are completely given.

The new covenant was ratified through the blood of Jesus Christ. Not only did his death pay for our sins, it also ended the old covenant and began the new. When we drink the wine in commemoration of Jesus' death, we show our acceptance of the new covenant, including the forgiveness that is given because of his shed blood."

So, Fundamentalist Christians are technically going against their own religion when they preach the Old Testament and deny the pacifistic teachings of Jesus in the New Testament. Fundamentalist Christians (the hardcore ones) make up probably less than 1% of the entire Christian Religion. A lot less than one percent I'm guessing (just a guess, I don't know any statistics on this). They are much like the followers of Radical Islam...spinoffs from the main stream school of thought who hold radically different and often hateful beliefs. Don't think for a minute that the Hardcore Atheists are much different. They see their belief as 100% in the right and are hostile to others in the same manner that Fundies are hostile to people who don't share their beliefs.

One last choice quote from the website above...

"When Jesus established the new covenant, did he set aside the first covenant? Heb. 8:13. Is the old covenant declared obsolete? Same verse.

Comment: Here we see the reason that Christians are not required to keep some of God's laws -- because God has declared some of them obsolete. Since God has grouped his laws into covenants, it is essential that we understand the covenants if we want to understand why some Old Testament laws no longer need to be kept. Much of the Old Testament is built on the old covenant, and much of the New Testament is about the new covenant. Although a covenant is not exactly the same as a testament, the concepts are so closely related that a single Greek word is used for both."


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Old 02-18-2007, 08:03 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by Fish.Stapler:

In response to Spider AL, the reason the Old Testament is lumped in with the teachings of Jesus is that the prophecies that told of his coming were in there. They were like the prelogue, the backstory so to speak. You saw that Jesus fulfilled all those prophecies and you saw the kind of world he was coming into.
Firstly Fish, I must laud the detail contained within your response. (Detail... that's something which is often sadly lacking in posts on this forum, and on many other forums.)

Secondly however, I must point out that my original statement was: "it's one of the great tragedies in the history of dissident philosophy that stories about an activist trying to point out the immorality of judaistic dogma (Jesus) should be pervertedly lumped in with the barbaric old testament, to form the bible."

And your response- basically a regurgitation of one of the church's possible excuses for that amalgamation of the two- doesn't address my statement at all... And in fact isn't relevant to my statement. My statement was and is correct, it IS a tragedy that Jesus' essentially dissident philosophical ramblings were subsumed by a pre-existing barbaric theistic doctrine like Judaism. If they hadn't been, then the peaceful teachings attributed to the character of Jesus might not have been so totally debased by idiotic fanatics over the centuries.

In fact, theological so called "reasons" for the lumping of the Judaistic old testament in with the moral teaching of Jesus are essentially meaningless. They're more excuses than reasons, they're overly involved, clearly doctrinally self-serving and frankly... they rely on religious dogma, so they're automatically irrelevant in all senses. In other words "reason" has little or nothing to do with it. Let's face it, the old testament and the new testament describe two different gods. Not one god who was a little cranky in the morning... but two different gods. One is a petulant, violent, murderous, fascist, racist, jealous mysoginist... and the other is supposed to be love personified. Those concepts don't mesh, Fish.

Call me uncharitable to the christian church if you like, but it seems fairly likely to me that the official amalgamation of the old and new testaments occurred because the church wanted to be a truly dominant world power. And one doesn't control people with messages of morality, love and freedom. Nope, what you need is a mixture of a good bit of fire and brimstone to keep the people in line, and a veneer of universal love and filial charity to give the whole thing a facade of moral authority. And when you want to encourage people to get along with each other, you can refer to some new testament guff, and when you want them to kill each other, you can reel off some old-testament barbarism! Worked pretty well for a couple of millennia, to be honest.

Oh, and Eagle, that image- though highly amusing- is stretching my window out of all proportion! Spare a thought for those of us with more modest resolutions why don'tcha!


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Old 02-18-2007, 08:41 PM   #17
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Oh, and Eagle, that image- though highly amusing- is stretching my window out of all proportion! Spare a thought for those of us with more modest resolutions why don'tcha!
Righty.

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Old 02-18-2007, 09:48 PM   #18
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I totally agree with you Spider. Though Catholic, I don't actively practice the religion. I suppose I mislabeled it, I just wanted to throw that out there for everyone to see. The primary point I was trying to make with my post was this...

"So, Fundamentalist Christians are technically going against their own religion when they preach the Old Testament and deny the pacifistic teachings of Jesus in the New Testament."

I also find it a great tragedy that the Old Testament had to be contained with the New Testament. I don't even know where my Bible actually is, but I have two copies of the New Testament because I greatly admire the pacifistic teachings of Jesus and I consciously try to emulate his example. The primary reason it is included though, is that it was demonstrating that Jesus is the Messiah. There were MANY people who claimed to be the Messiah over the years, but Jesus is the only one who fulfilled ALL the prophecies and thus, he is the only one who can be truly considered the Messiah. To me, that is the only justifiable reason actually, so we can know who was lying and who is real.


And, I'm going to agree with you once again on the "concepts not meshing". To me, the Old Testament god was kind of like the boogeyman..."LISTEN TO HIM OR HE RIPS YOUR EYES OUT AND DAMNS YOU TO THE FIRES!". Supposedly, Jesus and God are really one in the same (as well as the holy spirit, hence the Holy Trinity). Doesn't seem to make sense to me, and that's one of the reasons I'm amazed Christians don't try to downplay the Old Testament. I mean, you get a savior who comes along and dies so he can change the barbaric ways of murdering people who disagree with you, and yet...you still preach the gospel of hate? What? I don't get that. Jesus died so he could erase all that, and change your methods to pacifism. That's the kind of religion I want to follow. The "turn the other cheek", "love thy neighbor" and not the "STONE THE INFIDEL". That is one of the reasons Fundies are so rejected by everyone, including many other Christian groups. Many Christians do practice tolerant behaviors. The reason you don't hear about those is that they aren't raising their voice to lambast every "homosexual" or "infidel" that crosses their path. You really only hear about the hateful morons who seek to bash everyone who crosses their path. I find it a shame for all Christians everywhere, especially because morons like the Fundies have managed to drive so many people away and make countless others angry not just at the fundies, but at everyone who practicies religion.


And, I probably missed something I should address...English was not my first language and I still struggle decoding these forum posts . Suppose that's what I get for coming to an intelligent debate forum .



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Old 02-18-2007, 10:04 PM   #19
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I agree with you when you say that fundamentalists go against the teachings of Jesus specifically, Fish, and must note that I too like to read the moral philosophy of Jesus on occasion... WITHOUT material from the old testament intruding into it.

I view the character of Jesus as a fairly Buddha-like figure, who came out with much that was laudable in the way of proto-moralist philosophy.

Also, your English is excellent. More than adequate for this forum, in my opinion.


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Old 02-19-2007, 02:21 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dagobahn Eagle
One of the principles of Christianity is to "Love thine neighbor like yourself". Another is to stone to death whoever tries to get you to worship other gods.

So it's more like tolerance of those who agree with you. Unless you take the "love the Sinner"-doctrine into account.
No, in true Christianity there are no conditionals so there is no "Love your neighbor as yourself only if... ," it simply states "Love your neighbor as yourself." This is evidenced by Jesus saving a either a harlot or an adultress from being stoned when the old regulations required her to be. To understand why the Old Testament rules no longer apply you would have to read a lot of the books in the New Testament.


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Old 02-19-2007, 09:18 PM   #21
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Actually Tinny, you are describing an excuse for the contradiction between the old and new testaments, not a valid reason. You're citing a theological cop-out.

The actual REASON that the bible contradicts itself would seem to be that the teachings of Jesus- a proto-moralist philosopher- have no place alongside the blood and gore of theistic judaistic dogmatism, whether found in the old testament or the new.

The fact is that the old testament is broadly speaking a selection of borderline insane ramblings about a perpetually disgruntled and extremely vindictive judaistic weather-god... and the bulk of the new testament concerns descriptions of the life and times of a peace-loving dissident who may or may not have actually existed. (But wasn't a divinity.)

The two do not belong together in philosophical terms. So frankly, save your intra-christian theological excuses for your debates with the fundamentalists!

It is sufficient for we atheists to note that there are some christians like yourself who believe that the new testament teachings of Jesus override the extremely objectionable mosaic law... but there are plenty more christians who swear by the old testament and all its fire and brimstone! Especially in the US. All those evangelical cultists.... ugh.

You might claim that your point of view represents "true" christianity, and I might agree with you in some philosophical sense... but that doesn't change the fact that a great many people who call themselves christians still consider old-testament guff to be valid. And this belief contributes to the character of the organised religion we know of as "christianity". End of story.


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Old 02-19-2007, 10:10 PM   #22
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The fact that many Christians still cling to the fire and brimstone mentality of the Old Testament is a tragedy on par with the Old Testament standing alongside the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus.

As Tinny stated, the old Testament rules do indeed no longer apply. I personally regard the Christians still clinging to them (read: Fundies and Evangelicals...as well as others) as insane. One of the reasons I and many others became disillusioned with organized religion is the rigid adherence (conservatism...bad in things other than politics it seems) to old customs, like the Old Testament.

So basically, the Christians who still persecute others are "wrong" in a sense...whether that matters to them or not is unknown, but it seems they'll keep on trucking with that mentality 'till the end of time. (edit - no cheesy religious pun intended )


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Old 02-19-2007, 11:06 PM   #23
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Having worked with Christians and been taught Christian teachings (prodestent) the Old Testement is important but by sending Jesus that is swept away. It's not discarded completely, as evidenced with the tale of Annanias and Sapphira, but by and large forgiving those who do evil has a much greater amount of importance than punishing those who do evil. Example? You want an example? Okay, Jesus standing before the mob set to stone a harlot to death wrote on the ground "He who is without sin cast the first stone." Even the purest of the pure have what is known as 'original sin', when Adam and Eve went against God in the Garden of Edan, if you believe in that sort of thing. In fact the whole story of Jesus dieing on the cross for our sins is the point of casting aside the old ways and bring about the new ways. That is why Christians no longer bjurn livestock for guilt offerings, there is no ark for the Ten Commandments carried around, ect.
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