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How can I respond to the following Christian “apologetic”......
Posted: 23 September 2013 05:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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That’s funny grin Yeah, I should try that [using feminine gender pronouns for God] grin

Maybe not; because, you might appear needlessly provocative, although it sounds like he’s good for a little theological ribbing. But also, you can hardly claim you think of the Christian God, who you don’t believe in and know is technically beyond gender, as feminine. It woudl sound a bit forced, no?

I’ve always thought Bender the robot was humorously honest; in one episode he swears ‘O your God!’ (Curiously, the robots are given a robot Devil but no robot God.)

We can speak of God, but we speak of “the” Goddess. Very interesting thing to ponder I think.

I hadn’t thought of that. The ‘the’ may just be a quirk of modern English-speaking neo-Goddess worshippers, who tend to have cut their teeth on a lot of mythology a la Robert Graves, who lumped them all together as the Goddess, or the Triple Goddess. To them ‘the Goddess’ *maybe* is more like when we say ‘the lion is a mighty hunter’; it’s a bit of the universal common to each particular lion. ‘Al-lah’ contains the Arabic version of ‘the’, we just typically don’t think of it that way. Ditto for Pacific languages, which also tend to use ‘the’ a lot where English wouldn’t: for example, Fijian *na Kalou*, ‘(the) God’. It doesn’t really pan out as any deep difference in how Christians of the Southwest Pacific think of God, in my experience.

Chris Kirk

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Posted: 23 September 2013 06:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Michelle D. - 23 September 2013 04:21 PM

Anyway, we’re having fun talking.

Michelle

That’s good to hear.

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Posted: 23 September 2013 06:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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Michelle D. - 23 September 2013 05:02 PM

Very true, many of these stories don’t make much sense, like a bad fairytale, as you say. Unfortunately, the discrepancies can be explained away, however vague, and upon these stories stands an entire monument of theology thought through from every angle. The concept of Original Sin, which I believe originated in Augustine, supports more Christian theology than any other idea. (Jews and Muslims though reject it.)

I agree with what you’re saying, the premises are pretty bad, but what’s built on them is hard to argue with, as it is pretty good logic “firmly planted in mid-air”. (I actually got that phrase from a theologian, saying the same about atheism.)

Respectfully, I disagree. People can close their eyes, plug their ears and shout “WA-WA-WA! I’m not listening” but that’s all it amounts to.

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Posted: 24 September 2013 08:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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PLaClair - 23 September 2013 04:45 PM

They’re like bad fairy tales that don’t even make for a good story. The Jesus myth, for example, has holes in it that are miles wide. It makes no sense that a god who “so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son” so that those who believed in him could be saved would then neglect to tell most of the world about it for centuries, having sent a supernatural messenger to tell Mary that she was to be the Mother of God. It’s an absurd story that doesn’t fit together well at all, even if you accept the premise that a loving god would ever have created a hell that he would then have to save people from.

All men throughout time have had access to God’s salvation.  Before Christ, they looked forward to the salvation God had promised.  Since Christ, we look back.  This is made clear in the story of the prophet Jonah.  No, it’s not just about a big fish.  It’s the story of God’s prophet, long before Christ was born into the world, being sent to the Gentile city of Nineveh in the region of Assyria—a brutal enemy of Israel.  Jonah was sent with the message, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.”  The story then says, “The Ninevites believed God.”  At that point they had received God’s forgiveness and salvation.  Jonah was angry and didn’t believe the Ninevites deserved forgiveness, saying to God, “I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.  Now, O LORD, take my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”  God replied, “Nineveh has more than a thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well.  Should I not be concerned about that great city?”

Jesus later teaches, “The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.”  Matthew 12:41

God has not neglected to tell any one of his salvation.  He has set the times and places for each to live and gives every man what he needs to find him and reach out to him.  God is present at every time and in every place man lives.  Man is his creation and he knows each one intimately.  You’re thinking too small.

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Posted: 24 September 2013 08:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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Michelle D. - 23 September 2013 04:33 PM

  Hi Lily, very true. I’m actually very interested in Christian theology, as it is quite a lot of thought going on there. But you’re right, it’s very thought through.

There’s a trend today for many authors to write about how the Bible was changed, how the teaching was taken over, the mindset of the authors and why they said what they said.  In that way they talk past any meaning in the Bible.  The Bible as a whole, however, does have a meaning.  It’s complex and takes study, and people often disagree with each other on various points.  But simply understanding the teaching that’s actually there is fascinating in itself.  It doesn’t mean you have to believe it.  It just means there is a meaning to be found for those who are willing to read what’s there rather than continually explain it away, imo.

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Posted: 28 September 2013 10:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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LilySmith - 24 September 2013 08:23 AM
Michelle D. - 23 September 2013 04:33 PM

  Hi Lily, very true. I’m actually very interested in Christian theology, as it is quite a lot of thought going on there. But you’re right, it’s very thought through.

There’s a trend today for many authors to write about how the Bible was changed, how the teaching was taken over, the mindset of the authors and why they said what they said.  In that way they talk past any meaning in the Bible.  The Bible as a whole, however, does have a meaning.  It’s complex and takes study, and people often disagree with each other on various points.  But simply understanding the teaching that’s actually there is fascinating in itself.  It doesn’t mean you have to believe it.  It just means there is a meaning to be found for those who are willing to read what’s there rather than continually explain it away, imo.

What you call a trend, I would call scholarship. Certainly the discovery of manuscripts in the last century shed some light on where the Bible came from, plus archaeology that has told more about the kingdoms and characters. Don’t you agree? Many of these scholars are good Christians. How do you determine which ones are providing new revelations and which are “explaining away”? If Luke is considered a great historian, why aren’t today’s historians treated with as much reverence?

Much of what has been handed down to churches comes from people hundreds of years removed from the events and languages of the original authors in a time of declining empires and very little education. Are you saying we are less smart that those people? Are you saying all of the work to understand these ancient languages, and trace all of the people who edited the Bible over the centuries is not worth it? How do you know which Bible to read? How do you know the one you have is not one that had some critical words changed, added or deleted?

And please don’t say that you just know. I’m really not interested in what is written on your heart.

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Posted: 28 September 2013 01:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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Lausten - 28 September 2013 10:44 AM

Much of what has been handed down to churches comes from people hundreds of years removed from the events and languages of the original authors in a time of declining empires and very little education.

This is an example of what I’m talking about.  You state that as if it were fact, yet it’s not.  Jesus rose from the dead around 30 AD.  The letters of Paul, Jude, Peter, and John were written shortly after that.  The Gospels were written about the same time—prior to the 2nd century.  The Didache is a document written for the church.  It is said, “Traces of the use of this text, and the high regard it enjoyed, are widespread in the literature of the second and third centuries especially in Syria and Egypt…  Hence a date for the Didache in its present form later than the second century must be considered unlikely, and a date before the end of the first century probable.” http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/didache.html Then came the letters of Clement, Polycarp, Papias and Ignatius in the late 1st to the early 2nd century AD.  Following that comes the writings of Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Hippolytus—all before the 3rd century.  If we have all this, how can the teachings to the churches be “hundreds of years removed from the events?” 

The New Testament writings have more ancient manuscripts than any other writing of the time because everyone was copying and passing on the letters and teachings.  There are relatively little differences among these manuscripts, and none that change the meaning of the texts.  Where there is a difference, it is clearly known and acknowledged in the Bible translations.  My Bible makes a note of every one and tells me which come from the older manuscripts and which from more recent manuscripts.  The Bibles we have are different English translations, but they say the same things.  I’ve compared them.  I read the one in English that’s easiest for me to understand.  If I have a question, I can always look it up in the original Greek or Hebrew.

Now that that’s settled, my point was there is a meaning to what is written in the Bible.  It’s the meaning that’s interesting to me.

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Posted: 28 September 2013 02:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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I use to think that the bible reflected how the people of the time wrote. That writing had not evolved to a state of understandable standards and that you needed a priest or one of the very few people of the time that could read to tell the people about the stories of religion.

Boy was I wrong. People could write contracts and stories three thousand years before the bible was written that were as good as most of us can write today.

So why were so many parts of the bible so poorly written and hard to understand?

I think one should understand the use of footnote bibles and how they were used by the church. Of course death was what you got if you had one of these footnote bibles. It is said the footnotes were used to change the stories so that the religion was accepted by the people.

It is looking to me like the stories were being changed up until the early 300’s.
No different than other stories like Santa Claus. Once the story is reached a level of acceptance the changes stop.

Now you would be a fool if you did not factor in the steps the church would take to have power. Example the church claimed half of Roman Empire using fake documents.

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Posted: 28 September 2013 02:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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LilySmith;
What evidence do you have that “everyone was copying and passing on the letters”? What evidence do you have that more than a few thousand people were doing that? What is the earliest manuscript that you are aware of? Have you actually compared them to later manuscripts, or what source do you have that says there are “relatively little differences”? You can look things up in Greek or Hebrew? You never mentioned you were adept at those languages.

This is not settled. While I was still Christian, I went looking for answers to the above questions and found very different answers than what you report. I found the Trinity is an idea that came much later, that there was a schism over Mary, over what’s in the cracker, and who Jesus really was. I found there was never a time when there was “A” meaning. The arguing begins within the pages of the Bible and continues to this day. What is the New Testament about if not an argument between Jesus and the Jewish leaders?

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Posted: 28 September 2013 05:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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Lausten - 28 September 2013 02:24 PM

What evidence do you have that “everyone was copying and passing on the letters”?

First, Paul wrote to the churches they should share his letters with one another.  Second, my Bible translation explains what was used to make the translation.  For the New Testament, “The Greek text used in translating the New Testament was an eclectic one.  No other piece of ancient literature has such an abundance of manuscript witnesses as does the New Testament.  Where existing manuscripts differ, the translators made their choice of readings according to accepted principles of the New Testament textual criticism.  Footnotes call attention to places where there was uncertainty about what the original text was.  The best current printed texts of the Greek New Testament were used.”  Third, Bible scholars explain how better manuscripts were found and how they can determine their age, “In the 30’s and 60’s of the twentieth century a number of other, very important manuscripts have become available. We owe this to the efforts of two wealthy book collectors, Chester Beatty and Martin Bodmer. These manuscripts are of a special class for two reasons. They are written on papyrus and date from well before the fourth century. The earliest papyrus manuscripts come very close to the time when the New Testament was written. Of course, manuscripts on papyrus were known before, but these dated from a much later period and tended to be rather fragmentary. For almost all New Testament books we now have manuscripts earlier than the fourth century… “[W]e can date papyrus manuscripts, any manuscript for that matter, simply by looking at the way it is written. Handwriting is a product of human culture and as such it is always developing. Differences in handwriting are bound to appear within one generation.” http://library.duke.edu/rubenstein/scriptorium/papyrus/texts/manuscripts.html 

I’m satisfied that the Bible translation I use has in it the message Jesus sent to the ends of the earth through his apostles.  If you aren’t confident in that, that’s up to you.  But to say that the understanding Christians have “comes from people hundreds of years removed from the events and languages” is simply false.  Don’t believe it if you choose, but don’t misrepresent the truth about it.

The Doctrine of the Trinity and the worship of Mary have nothing to do with the Bible texts.  They have to do with men seeking to explain the teaching and, in the case of Mary, make up new traditions.  The Catholic Church gave itself the power to make doctrine, something I as a Protestant reject outright.  The revelation has been made and no man can change it in my view.  Therefore, I reject the man made traditions of the Catholic Church. 

What’s in the cracker is probably wheat.  It’s used to illustrate that just as the cracker nourishes our bodies so that we live, so Christ nourishes our souls to eternal life.  We celebrate the Lord’s Supper until he comes to remember Him and what he did for us.  The New Testament is about the new covenant (testament) that Jesus brought for the forgiveness of sins.  His run ins with the Jewish leaders are because they made God’s law into a burden for the people rather than the blessing God had intended.

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Posted: 28 September 2013 05:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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As you say, “The Doctrine of the Trinity and the worship of Mary have nothing to do with the Bible texts.” And that’s exactly what I meant when I said, ““comes from people hundreds of years removed from the events and languages” Sorry if I wasn’t clear, Occam is always watching and will boop me with his “succinctness” stick.

And, as you say, “His (Jesus) run ins with the Jewish leaders are because they made God’s law into a burden for the people rather than the blessing God had intended.” And I believe many religious leaders today and throughout the centuries have done exactly the same thing. You seem to agree with me when it comes to Catholics, I just happen to agree with absolutely no one who has tried to present a consistent picture of Christ’s teachings. We’ve found plenty of doctrine and application of the gospel that we disagree on, so I’m certainly not going to listen to your version of the message.

Once again I’m impressed with the amount of study that you have done but absolutely flabbergasted that you can come to the conclusions you do.

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Posted: 28 September 2013 07:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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Are you referring to the flood?

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Posted: 28 September 2013 07:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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LilySmith and Lausten, great debate and wonderful wordsmith.

LilySmith,

[The New Testament is about the new covenant (testament) that Jesus brought for the forgiveness of sins.  His run ins with the Jewish leaders are because they made God’s law into a burden for the people rather than the blessing God had intended.]

Bad God, Good God.

The religion groups on the first contract were Abraham and The Children of Abraham religious groups.

On the Children of Abraham’s religious group there is the Jewish branch. And in the Jewish branch there is this new Christian branch that the researchers are still trying to figure out when it started. Some think before Jesus, some after Jesus and some think Jesus was the reason for the Christianity branch. At this time we really do not know.

Let me put what I think you are saying in a timeline.

For first 500 years the religion of Abraham had misrepresented god and for the next 1,000 years the Jews misrepresented god. Then it was time for Judgment Day and god failed to perform and the people were upset.  Then god sent Jesus with a new contract and for the first 300 years they had to explain and put down in writing the new contract and for the last 1,700 years god has been represented correctly.

It took 1,800 years for god to tell the people what he really wanted and the people still to this day disagree about many of the meaning of god’s words.

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Posted: 29 September 2013 03:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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LilySmith - 28 September 2013 01:14 PM

You state that as if it were fact, yet it’s not.  Jesus rose from the dead around 30 AD. . . .

Now that that’s settled, my point was there is a meaning to what is written in the Bible.  It’s the meaning that’s interesting to me.

Good grief, Lausten, do you seriously think that you can have a reasoned or even a rational discussion with this person?

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Posted: 29 September 2013 06:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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PLaClair - 29 September 2013 03:22 AM
LilySmith - 28 September 2013 01:14 PM

You state that as if it were fact, yet it’s not.  Jesus rose from the dead around 30 AD. . . .

Now that that’s settled, my point was there is a meaning to what is written in the Bible.  It’s the meaning that’s interesting to me.

Good grief, Lausten, do you seriously think that you can have a reasoned or even a rational discussion with this person?

When you put it that way. No. The “now that’s settled” statement did raise a smile. As if simply stating things makes them facts. It’s mere curiosity on my part. Finding out what sources she uses to come to her conclusions. On the translations and changes issue, it comes down to choosing one set over another. I’ve never heard anything convincing that one leads a particular “message”. Certainly never heard anything remotely resembling independent confirmation of such a message.

What was most troubling for me during my studies was, the most convincing scholarship indicates that Jesus expected the world to end and had some idea of only certain people benefiting. The rest would be punished in some way. Call it their choice if you want, they weren’t going to get the rewards. So much for grace. When I realized that, I went back to my liberal minister and said I thought the fundamentalist seem to have the best basis for saying what they do. We liberals have to twist the message to say gays are cool and slavery is wrong. He could only answer that he sees it differently. Couldn’t explain why.

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