Tuesday, February 07, 2006

If You Think You Are Not Brainwashed, Think Again

1984. I have never read the book, but I have heard about it. It is on my mental "to read" list. But from what I gather, the gist of the book is this. Written in 1948 about the future year of 1984. The author envisioned a time when the government "big brother" was basically watching your every move and constantly feeding you propaganda so as to control your mind. Every where you go, through the news, the radio, and all other modes of communication, everyone is constantly being subjected to whichever doctrines the powers that be see fit to use to indoctrinate the masses. The people are essentially made to be intellectual slaves of the government. Bucking the system is to invite quick and decisive punishment. From the cradle to the grave, the government institutionalizes everything about your life - sucking you dry of your very personhood and exploiting you for whatever profits they can get. Essentially, every citizen is a slave of the state. And there is no guarantee whatsoever that the state will look out for your best interests.

The current year is not 1984, but the current situation is remarkably similar to the book. Wait, I already here the objections of those who have been institutionalized. "I'm not a slave of the state. I'm free. I'm an American."

Hmmm...

Have you ever noticed that CNN is being aired everywhere all the time? Go into a bank - there is CNN. Go into a hotel lobby, there is a good chance that CNN is on. Constant Negative News. Or the Communist News Network. CNN is aggressively and systematically holding millions of people bondage in psychological slavery.

"But wait," you say. You don't have to watch CNN, you can watch Fox News or MSNBC. Well, for those who buy cable, you might be able to watch Fox News. It is very interesting that CNN is available to whoever, but Fox News is available (in my neck of the woods) only to those who are willing to pay for cable.

But this isn't even the point. The goal is not to give equal time to all viewpoints. Hitler's viewpoint that Jews are somehow subhuman should not be given any time. Networks that might portray Osama bin Laden in a positive light should not get any time.

What matters is justice. There are facts in ancient history and modern history that can and should be reported. There are facts in the recent news that can and should be reported. But we are utterly dependent on God to understand which of the facts should be reported. Also, we are dependent on God to keep from being deceived and brainwashed. Everything that is not of faith is sin.

Now facts are not neutral. Facts lead to the acquittal of the innocent and the condemnation of the guilty. For this reason, those who are caught up in postmodernism hate facts and truth - unless they are facts that lead to a conclusion that they would prefer. But we were never expecting them to be consistent, were we?

Furthermore, there are so many billions upon billions of facts. How do you teach history justly? How do you report the news justly? Neglecting to emphasize certain facts would not be just. Overemphasizing other facts also would not be just. So, how do we establish justice?

We need wisdom and faith. And in all of this, we should return to orthodoxy. The facts (and lies) taught in the public school system are all being used to advance the American Civil Religion of Postmodern Secular Humanism - whose grip on society is very tight. Big brother is forcefully advancing his doctrines and dogmas. If you speak out against it, expect persecution, because big brother is watching! Blasphemy laws (hate crime legislation) are in place and they will become more and more aggressive about this. The Civil Religion must not be blasphemed!

We must courageously and persistently fight the powers that be. But not in reactionary mode. We must recognize God for who He is. When the glory of God is revealed to us, we will have a story that is greater than any other story ever told. The gospel will then go forth, and justice will be established. Gospel, after all, means good news! It is imperative that the good news is advanced.

"The just shall live by faith." - Romans 1:17

58 Comments:

Blogger Hannah said...

Dan, you should read Brian McLaren's "A Generous Orthodoxy" and tell me what you think about it. I think you would enjoy it.

7:41 AM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

I think CNN is cable only too-- "Cable News Network", and people have just as much access to it as Fox, I think.

I think Fox News is a very revolutionary idea that, as much as my liberal buddies hate it, represents something very very good happening in the world. Once upon a time, there were so few television stations that we couldn't let each viewpoint couldn't have their own television station. Instead, the 3-5 networks had to promise the government to work very hard to try to give equal time to all views-- it was the only fair way.

But now that it's the dawn of the Information Age, we can have more and more stations than ever! And so we can afford to have a "Republican News Networks" and a "Christian News Networks" and soon even a "Southern Fundamentalist Anabaptist News Network".

Some stations, like CNN, will probably stick to the concept of journalistic neutrality-- or trying their best to do so, as they do now.

The unabashedly liberal/libertarian news network hasn't quite come out yet and so me and my leftist agnostic commie-sympathizing treehugging gay-marrying military-hating abortion-promoting friends will have to make due with the Daily Show for now-- but liberal news newtork will come out sooner or later too.

(Now, I know you're going to say that CNN isn't neutral, they're liberal. But I really believe they're 'trying' to be fairish. In the end, they may have a bias, but they're trying not to have one. As opposed to Fox, which is biased, is proud that it's biased, works hard to be biased, and which I don't think even pretends to actually be neutral anymore-- and if so, they're not fooling anyone. But it's okay that they're biased-- because there's always room for an editorial page, and there's always room for people who aren't shy about expressing their opinions. It's the dawn of true free speech, baby, and even Bill O'Reilly can't stop me from loving it!)

-----

I strongly second your concerns about hate crime legislation. Ultimately, this is a modern incarnation of 1984's infamous "thought crimes".

All violent crimes are hate crimes. The only different between a normal crime and a hate crime is a thought-- and criminalizing thoughts is, in my view, absolutely wrong. The most important right is the right to think and believe what you want-- even if you believe in racism or sexism or homophobia.

Ahhh-- but are you really against such "thoughtcrime" laws, or just against those laws criminalizing thoughts against racial minorities or homosexuals? For example-- how do you vote on the the proposed constitutional amendment banning flag burning? Do you support the right to publish unflattering cartoons of religious figures?

11:10 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

As a said before, so I shall say again. FACTS ARE NOT NEUTRAL! CNN is extremely biased. Being just does not mean being unbiased. Being just means that your bias lines up with true justice. More later....

2:28 PM  
Blogger elvisfromeurope said...

Real Islam is against alot of things; any image of god ( and a person for that matter), any music, anything that is not pure worship of god. The real jews are against any word that refers to god which would include any kind of thought of god. If you add Isalm and jewish, god becomes something you can't even conceive of, or talk about or even represent in any way not even in your mind not even indirectly. The mind is too dirty for god to be present in in. I guess the goals of these religions is the complete elimintion of god altoghether. They probably really just want to be pure atheists.

4:28 AM  
Blogger elvisfromeurope said...

TO THE UNKNOWN GOD:

Some time back Dan said that if you are not worshiping God you are worshiping something else. True. Usual these are the worldy things the idolatries etc. There is a common thread in the ABRAHAMIC religions that emphasize this aspect. So if we try to be as precise as possible, we would have to worship something that has no image, no word and no concept. That would be pure nothing and would resemble a state of pure transcendental meditation, something the TAO or ZEN religions talk about. Or maybe to really eliminate all the worldly and idolatries we would have to almost be unconcious or just dead, in the secular sense. Very interesting, HIS WAYS ARE MYSTERIOUS....

5:00 AM  
Blogger elvisfromeurope said...

Dan,

You may find this interesting:

http://newdemocracyworld.org/Revolution/Worshiping.Strange.God.htm

5:41 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

In CNN's zeal to be "unbiased" and "neutral," they have actually become very dogmatic and narrow in the worldview they present. They have no room for that which lies outside of their "bottom line." Every organization has some sort of bottom line. The powers that be of that organization are dogmatic and insistent about the bottom line being met.

I simply recognize this philosophical truth. It is not bad to have a bottom line - as long as the bottom line lines up with God's bottom line - which is to establish justice in the world.

But people are bullied into selling out to the organization for whom they work. The global economy is bullying all of us into exalting the bottom line - even though that very often involves treating people as a means to an end, rather than sacred individuals created in the image of God.

7:55 AM  
Blogger elvisfromeurope said...

Islam teaches: GOD HAS NO IMAGE.

8:53 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Joe,

I have no confirmation whatsoever that Islam teaches that God has no image. Furthermore, it matters not, because any creed which is in contradiction to Christianity is false.

The Bible teaches that man is created in the image of God. Also, the Bible has several passages which describe God's image.

Do you really believe that there is no God whatsoever? Do you really think that all the matter of the universe somehow spontaneously exploded and that, by random chance, order and life evolved without the guidance of any Higher Intelligence? Do you think that our emotions, our capability for love and joy, our sexuality, our human relationships are all simply manifestations of globs of chemicals that have somehow morphed together in an incredibly organized and sophisticated way by random chance?

The facts are that human beings are incredibly complicated and sophisticated organisms - much more complicated than the most complex computers. If we were just a little bit further away or a little bit closer to the sun, we could not exist. There is a cycle of seasons - which stays reasonably consistent and ordered year to year.

How are you so sure that Christianity is false?

1:05 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

I personally have no idea that there is no God-- but I'm pretty sure orthodox christianity wrong.

When someone tells me that the square root of 36 is 20, I can know, apriori, they're wrong, because their argument is logically inconsistent.

When someone tells me a Just God wants them to crash a plane in to a building-- I can know they're wrong.

When someone tells me a Just God wants them to blow up an abortion clinic, I can know they're wrong.

When someone tells me a Just God wants blacks and whites not to marry, I can know they're wrong.

When somoene tells me an unbaptized baby is going to go to hell, I can know they're wrong.

When someone tells me that a kind, loving grandmother in Asia is going to go to hell because she's Buddhist, I can know they're wrong.

When someone tells me that a good kind-hearted man is going to go to hell for being attracted to men instead of women, I can know they're wrong.

When people come to me and each claim to know with 100% certainty exactly how God feels about something, and yet those people don't agree with each other about lots of things. I can know that they're wrong.

When someone tells me, based on the old testament, that a Just God commits wholesale genocide, I can know they're wrong.

But let me be clear-- when someone tells me there's a God... I can't know anything.

6:58 PM  
Blogger elvisfromeurope said...

Dan,

No, I don't know if there is a God and I have no idea which one it is, Allah or God or the jewish one etc. I was just presenting some very interesting common thread the 3 major ABRAHAMIC religions have regarding the representation or conception of God. It is as if we can't even start to contain him in our mind. Do you draw pictures of God ? Do you know that some muslims have been shot in the muslim world because the image of god cannot be drawn ? People die for these things, for small drawings. You may not know, but Islam is very close to your religion because they also start off with the old testament and they consider themselves to be a continuation of christianity, christianity corrected since there prophet was visited by archangel gabriel and the holy spirit to continue writing new scriptures.

Man and universe is very complex, this is a great mystery, science knows some things, but we may never know the whole story. Is God present in every electron of the universe or does he move each electron or is he exactly each electron and photon ?
The photon is the elementary quantum of light and is the closest thing to nothing that exists.

2:11 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Marco, on your objections, I stipulate to a to a certain point.

As for babies who die in infancy, I know this: God is good. God is merciful. God is just. Now, that baby is a sinner - by nature. So, he/she would only be saved by the blood of Christ. God is the judge. He knows all things.

Anyone who lives her whole life always being kind and loving and in all ways good will not go to hell. However, such a person does not exist. We are all sinners. We can only be saved by God's grace. In His mercy, God sent His son to die in our place, the just for the unjust. To say that there is another way to get to heaven outside of Jesus Christ is to reduce Christ's sacrifice down to vanity. It is also an arrogant notion. People who think that they can somehow earn salvation are guilty of the sin of arrogance. Salvation is through the blood of Christ. Period. There is no other way for sinners to be saved.

Homosexuality is an abomination. However, one can be a Christian and be tempted by homosexual temptation. I am a Christian, but I have all kinds of immoral heterosexual temptations.

When people of faith preach to you conflicting doctrines, you can know that both can't be right, but it is a fallacy to say that they are both wrong. In fact, I am telling you the truth. ;)

God is a god of just wrath. He has poured out his wrath justly on wretched,rebellious sinners. His wrath, terrible as it is, is just. This shows how utterly sinful people are. God demands fierce loyalty. He will pour out His wrath on those who refuse Him.

Joe, I am well aware that the false prophet Mohammed was a descendent of Abraham. However, Muslims deny that Jesus is the Son of God. Therefore, Islam is a heretical religion.

Joe/Marco, do you regard the gospels as historical documents? I know that right now, both of you resist the idea of the gospels being the word of God. But what about a historical text? I would say that until the past century or so, most people in the west the previous 1900 years have regarded the gospels as history. Anyone who studies Western Civilization from the time of Christ to the the present necessarily also studies church history. The two are intertwined. And if you don't believe the gospels historically, do you believe anything about ancient Rome and Greece? Do you believe anything about Charlegmane? Do you believe anything about St. Augustine and Pope Gregory? Or about Luther? Do you believe anything about William Wallace or Henry VIII? It seems that people pretty much believe what they read in history books, but when it comes to the gospels, all of a sudden, people say that they are not trustworthy. Meanwhile they continue to believe all these other events of history.

7:21 AM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

Dan,

I've spent a lot of time thinking and reading about the historical accuracy of the bible.

Obviously, I don't believe in some of the more miraculous events described in the gospels-- there are thousands of stories, in every culture, of virgin births, miraculous healers, and resurrections. So, no, the gospels don't prove Jesus's divinity any more than the many greek mythology texts prove Perseus was the son of a virgin and a god.

We have no real firsthand accounts of Jesus. The first gospel (Mark) wasn't written until some fourty years after Jesus's death, and it's author, who never tells us his name, never claims to have had any direct encounters with Jesus.

If we're deciding our religion based on historical documents-- Muhammad and Buddha are far better documented than Jesus. Jesus was such a nobody (outside of his movement) that no contemporaries recorded much about him. But of course-- spirituality isn't a popularity contest.

That said, I think we can safely say, based on how many documents in the 1st century refer to the Christian movement, that there really was a Jesus and he really did say some of the thing that were attributed to him in the gospels.

When you look at the oldest writings about Jesus, the picture they paint is pretty different some of the much later writings. Consider the Gospel of Thomas, which may be as early as 40 AD, and was lost for centuries until it was rediscovered in 1945. Many of the sayings in the synoptic gospels are found in Thomas-- the earliest known copy of them.

Thomas is interesting in that it doesn't bother mentioning the trial, it doesn't mention the crucifiction, it doesn't mention the resurrection. The earliest copies of Mark don't have a resurrection.

Now is it conceivable that anyone would write a Jesus story and not metion the resurrection story? Clearly, the authors of Thomas and Mark either didn't know, or didn't believe, that Jesus was resurrected. The author of Mark also doesn't seem to know about the virgin birth.

The Gospel of Thomas is something I'd recommend to every christian: http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/gth_pat_rob.htm

It is the oldest known gospel, and it's just a collection of sayings attributed to Jesus. About half of those sayings were later included in the synoptic gospels. No mention of the death or execution. No mention of the virgin birth or resurrection. 100% Jesus teaching.

Most interesting to me-- The editor / complier doesn't seem to know what to make of some of these sayings, but thought they should include them anyway. It's interesting to read a book written by an early christian that hasn't exactly figured out everything of who or what Jesus was or what he was trying to say. The Jesus in it is a more of a philosopher than a superhero.

Part of the reason I like it so much is that it was written before Paul and some of his interpretations.
Modern orthodoxy holds that the most important thing Jesus ever did was die. Heretic that I am, I tend to think Jesus himself regarded his death as the least important thing he ever did.

Everybody dies. Jesus's death wasn't even particularly spetacular. As far as crucifixions go, Jesus had pretty much the easiest crucifixion in Roman history-- he died within just a few hours. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people throughout history have had far worse deaths than Jesus. That Jesus's death was the most important human death in history just doesn't ring true to me. I personally bet that Jesus regarded his teachings as far more important than this death.

Supposedly Jesus's death is important because he was completely innocent and utterly without sin. But infants (or embryos if you prefer) are killed all the time, and they haven't sinned.

Original sin doesn't make any sense either. What my ancestors did has no moral bearing on me. And if all humans are inherently sinful, such that any human being that exists is guaranteed to sin-- doesn't that make God sinful for creating them? And if God is omnipotent, he makes the rules-- why did he want Jesus to have to die before he'd regard the original sin debt as paid?



Historically speaking, I'm inclined to believe that Jesus was someone who had some sort of spiritual experience, may have known something the rest of us didn't, tried his best to teach about it, and got killed for pissing off the authorities who disagreed with his teachings.

The virgin birth, the resurrection, the "dying for our sins", being the one and only son of god-- my reading is these were all added much later, by people decades after the fact. If Jesus were alive today, I doubt he'd recognize Christianity.

9:49 PM  
Blogger elvisfromeurope said...

Marco/Dan,

The original sin is knowledge. So what you should really do is forget all the knowledge you have, and not seek to know anything. As you see this religion thrives on contradiction, since reading the bible is also knowledge, and how am I supposed to know whether even this knowledge is a sin or not ? Since the bible says contrasting things like this, you are left with 3 alternatives:

1) accept the fact that the religion is too deep, hard or uncomprehensible and so you be lead by your local priest-pastor of your local denomination, whichever that may be;

2) acept contradictory logic as valid and sustain anything and the opposite of anything just as some extreme christian denominations did ("children of god" had orgies etc.)

3) be willing to always loose any debate against religion because the god of religion is not LOGIC - NON CONTRADICTION but the exact opposite; a contradictory item is always true because if it is false it is true, if it is true it is false.

"I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

7:03 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Joe,

There is knowledge, and then there is knowledge.

We should seek to acquire certain kinds of knowledge, but not other kinds of knowledge.

The knowledge gained my Adam and Eve in Genesis is the kind of kind of knowledge that alawys accompanies a loss of innocence. A twelve year old girl who has sex with five different boys gains a certain amount of knowledge. This kind of knowledge was gained through a loss of innocence. This knowledge does not lead to wisdom; it is not the knowledge of God.

Likewise, someone who gets his life messed up on all kinds of drugs gains a certain amount of a certain kind of knowledge. But this is not the knowledge of God.

The knowledge of God leads to wisdom. This is a different kind of knowledge. Having God reveal His glory to us makes us knowledgeable. This knowledge is good, true, right, and pure.

Make no mistake. Any time people give up purity, they gain knowledge. When people open Pandora's Box, they gain knowledge. But this also causes their souls to be defiled.

My pastor spoke yesterday about the joy of being devoted to one woman - his wife. He was making a Valentine for her, and as he was, he thought, "This is fun! I love being devoted to this beautiful woman." The thought also occurred to him how terrible it would be if he had a mistress or if he was into viewing pornography. Doing these kinds of things would increase his knowledge, but it would defile his soul and destroy his marriage. Being singularly devoted to his wife, he is able to take great joy in making his wife a Valentine.

There is no contradiction here; you just have to think a little bit deeper.

The good news is that there is hope and forgivness offered to us who have sinned - who have defiled ourselves, who have opened Pandora's Box and have our lives and our relationships spiritually destroyed. God offers forgiveness in Christ to the worst of sinners. He came and died so that we can be redeemed. Praise be to God.

11:12 AM  
Blogger elvisfromeurope said...

Dan,

"15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."

Actually the bible and religion is self-eliminating. The tree of knowledge that we
cannot eat from is the knowledge of "good and bad". This is a perfect description of exactly the bible and other holy books (koran etc.). It doesn't say the tree of knowledge of "solid state physics" for example. So what god is saying here is that we should ignore, if not outright burn, all holy books like the bible and koran else we commit once again the original sin, which is why humanity is always guilty of always this same crime. So god is also tricky because by putting this in the bible it is like stating a sentence "do not read this", that by the time you read the sentence you also committed the crime. But this shows how tricky and false the bible is as an example of god's booby traps. But his ways are mysterious so actually the atheists and all those who do not follow any organized religion will go in heaven and all the believers are really lost forever. Seems like god is telling us to ignore and refuse all organized religion and even his own existence.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

That is a gross misinterpretation of the Holy Scriptures.

It is necessary to have wisdom and be led by the Spirit of God to correctly observe and interpret the Scriptures.

1:05 PM  
Blogger elvisfromeurope said...

God created man with childlike innocence. When man ate the fruit he did not know who was god and who was the devil. In fact for this very reason he wanted to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of "GOOD AND EVIL" so that he would know how to distinguish and know what was good and what was evil so as not to mistake. But god tricked man and confused him with the snake and man fell. God was the snake and the snake was god telling man to learn the difference. But man is now forever foresaken and now knows he must never read the holy books again as they are evil and of the devil.

The real sin of knowledge is SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY since it is here that man wants to become like god, wants to manipulate genetics, wants to create computers in his (man's) own image just as smart as himself; in short man wants to become like god and then substitute him. This is the real sin of knowledge. The sin of knowledge is man inventing the atom bomb and other weapons so as to kill his fellow man. Man must becom like little children who know nothing, like the ones jesus talks to.

4:29 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

The fact that God, in Genesis, does not want humans to obtain knowledge is something really interesting-- it's such a unique idea, that God somehow didn't want humans to be moral creatures at first.

The Garden of Eden story had a whole different meaning to the gnostic christians (which were quite popular until the 6th century-- thought not as popular as the group that ended up becoming the orthodox).

They figured that the physical universe, with all its pains, must have been created by something other than a good, allpowerful God. Instead, they figured there was sort of "demigod" that wasn't all-good who must of been responsible for making a universe with diseases and natural disasters. They figured the old testament Yahweh fit the bill, and had created this universe and imprisoned humans within it.

Fortunately, there was a true god, higher than Yahweh, who was all-loving (but not omnipotent). And this loving god is trying to rescue us from the world of pain created by Yahweh. And therefore, this loving Logos god took the form of Jesus in order to try to teach us how to escape the painful universe.

So, with this worldview, when they looked at the Garden of Eden story, they thought that the serpent wasn't Satan. They thought it was God/Jesus/Holy Spirit/Logos.

Of course, to the original audience of Genesis, the serpent wasn't Jesus and the serpent wasn't Satan-- the serpent was just a mischevious talking serpent (with legs).

--

I wonder what the world would have been like if that group had won out and become the most popular. (Or one of the many other now-heretical christianites there were in the first few centuries AD had won out, for that matter)

6:18 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

As to why someone would think that, consider:

God tells the humans that the fruit is poisonous and will be fatal. The serpent, however, tells the humans that the fruit isn't really poisonous-- it will just make humans more like God (i.e. having moral knowledge).

God (in this story) is a liar-- the fruit doesn't kill them. The serpent, in the story, tells only the truth.

6:44 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Genesis 2:15-17 - The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."

These verses talk nothing about poison. That is a fabrication.

Furthermore, "when" is an interesting word. Does when mean at that instant? Does when mean that day? By day, do I mean the Hebrew word "yowm?" Does day mean that particular 24 hour period? Does yowm mean "era" or "time?"

I do not know Hebrew, so I do not know. Perhaps this means that when they eat of the tree they would die "spiritually." I think they did die spiritually. Before they ate the fruit, they were innocent. But when they ate the fruit, their eyes were opened; they realized their nakedness; and they were ashamed. For the first time in history, people loved by God, fell into sin and experienced shame.

We are so used to experienceing various degrees of shame, and our hearts have become so calloused, that without God's spirit illuminating His word, we can't begin to appreciate what it was like for Adam to experience shame.

It could also mean that man was to die physically. It is my conviction that Adam and Eve would have never died, had they never ate the fruit. But they did, and they did.

Satan spoke some truth. Satan will do that often. He will speak something that is 99% true, and then throw in one little lie. That is his nature. Satan is very intelligent, and knows the Scriptures. Satan even used the Scriptures when he tempted Jesus.

But Satan's true colors come out in Genesis 3:1, "Did God really say...." Here we see the first manifestation of secular humanism. Satan lies: "You will not surely die." LIE! Mixed with some truth. Eve gave up her innocence and rebelled against God, as did Adam. And by doing so, they gained some knowledge, and they lost their innocence, and they became ashamed. In their shame, they hid from God.

Joe, to a degree, you are right. Unless people repent and become like little innocent children, they will never enter the kingdom of Heaven. I highly encourage the both of you and all people to spend some good time with young children. We can all learn a lot from children. God is in the habit of concealing His glory from the wise and the learned, while revealing himself to little innocent children, according to His good pleasure. Hang with children. Learn from their innocence.

Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."

Beware of the sin of pride. God hates pride. Modern man is very prideful. Modern man abhors the idea of being utterly dependent on God. Modern man wants power and wealth and independence. Modernity and postmodernity are actually not new ideas at all. As I suggested before, secular humanism got its start in the Garden of Eden. "Did God really say..." In other words, Satan is saying, "Be your own boss. You don't have to bow to anyone except yourself. You are in charge of your life. How pathetic! To trust in God?! Do you think God will really save you? Do you think that God really exists? Be your own God! God has not really spoken. God doesn't really exist anyway. Don't bow to God; that is abhorrent. How humiliating! To bow to God! You are god! People should bow to you!" Lies, lies, lies.

God will punish all who do not obey the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Humble yourselves under God's mighty hand, that He might lift you up in good time.

As surely as you are breathing, you can know this. One day, every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord. Now and later, every single person will do that. Do not put it off until it is too late.

9:13 PM  
Blogger elvisfromeurope said...

Dan,

That is a gross misinterpretation of the Holy Scriptures.

It is necessary to have wisdom and be led by the Spirit of God to correctly observe and interpret the Scriptures.

Eve was so innocent that she didn't even notice how strange it was for a serpent to talk to her. Even a 3 year old child today would run off terrified if an animal talked, let alone eat the fruit of the tree suggested, but they were innocent to the extreme. They couldn't even conceive of any bad, and did not even know there was good and bad, let alone lies and obedience and rebellion and all these much more complex cynical and evil concepts you think they had, but in fact the bible endorses. How could they have possibly distinguished half truths and all the sophisticated lies of the snake ? So god punishes extreme innocence to make man become evil and cynical. And in fact the bible is the tree of knowledge of good and bad and destroys our childlike innocence, hence they are evil books and god really wants us to not read, endorse or follow them along with the koran and all other evil books.

2:10 AM  
Blogger elvisfromeurope said...

Dan,

By the way you state "Be your own boss. You don't have to bow to anyone except yourself. etc ... " This is a fabrication. Evangelicals teach to read the bible LITERALY, so you are adding false scripture as a false church would do. Also in the adam/eve passage, the snake does not lie and god does lie since adam and eve do not die. If you interpret die in a symbolical or abstract way or make it mean something else, you are no longer following a literal interpretation of the bible but adding your own convenient fabrications. Anyone can do this and anyone can add anything they want and make the bible say anything they want. You may belong to an anti-christ false church......

3:25 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Joe,

I was not adding to the Scriptures. I was giving my view of the kind of thing that Satan does, not just in Genesis, but throughout the Bible and throughout the ages. The words I wrote are not Scripture. The words I wrote describe Satan accurately, and those words do not contradict the Scriptures.

Even so, you are right to say that I should be very careful about the manner in which I interpret Scripture. However, it seems to me that you are trying to "catch" me in something false, because you want to win an argument more than you want to show kindness toward me. That's not kind.

I'm still praying for you Joe. I hope your family is doing well. What do they think of all this? I'd especially like to get Elisa's take.

The Bible does not destroy childlike innocence. The Bible restores childlike innocence. It is religious people like the Pharisees who destroy childlike innocence. But they know neither the Scriptures, nor the power of God.

On one end of the spectrum, you have the godless modern secular humanists. On the other end, you have self-righteous religious folk. Both are sinful. Both are in need of a Savior.

As I said previously, I repeat. We could all learn something from hanging out with little children. For only those who have faith like children will enter the kingdom of heaven.

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."

6:03 AM  
Blogger elvisfromeurope said...

Dan,

Sorry, didn't want to seem unkind. Your views are actually very interesting because they let me see right through the bible for what it is. I can agree that knowledge, any knowledge will not lead to anything. That it is indeed better to be void of ALL knowledge, especially the knowledge of holy books, bible koran, which god explicitly forbids. That it is better to be just like the most innocent child (almost as innocent as EVE). But even this sentence is self contradictory, since it contains knowledge. So there you go again; "knowledge is evil", but after reading this sentence you acquired some further knowledge. By the time you read the sentence the crime has already been comitted. The bible is a total mental trap.

7:43 AM  
Blogger elvisfromeurope said...

Dan,

Sorry, didn't want to seem unkind. Your views are actually very interesting because they let me see right through the bible for what it is. I can agree that knowledge, any knowledge will not lead to anything. That it is indeed better to be void of ALL knowledge, especially the knowledge of holy books, bible koran, which god explicitly forbids. That it is better to be just like the most innocent child (almost as innocent as EVE). But even this sentence is self contradictory, since it contains knowledge. So there you go again; "knowledge is evil", but after reading this sentence you acquired some further knowledge. By the time you read the sentence the crime has already been comitted. The bible is a total mental trap.

7:47 AM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

I think it's fine to say that the death God refers to isn't a literal "immediate physical death" but refers instead to a spiritual death or a far off death 930 years later.

But-- you can't have it both ways: if "this fruit will kill you" doesn't really mean "you will die, immediately, of eating poisonous fruit" then who can evolution is false, or say the sin of the sodomites is homosexuality (rather than rape).

The point is-- no matter how you swing it, certainty regarding the god and bible is a myth. No one knows for certain what the deal is with the universe, god,

The difference is-- the agnostic will admit his igorance, while a follower of Islam, Christianity, or Judaism won't (stereotypically) admit this incertainty.

8:28 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Marco,
I specifically said (I think) that I am not sure what the meaning of some of these words/passages are. What I am saying is that God meant something when He spoke. I don't have it all figured out. But His truth (whatever that may be) is absolute. What the word "when" and "die" means in Genesis 2 is something that I don't quite have figured out yet. It would be nice to learn Hebrew. I have heard that to read the Bible in Hebrew is like seeing the movie in color, but to read it in English is like seeing it in black and white.

10:45 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Joe,
Is your concern that I am in the anti-Christ false church real? Or is it simply a tool you are using, because you know that I have concerns about the existence and popularity of the anti-Christ leading an unholy apostate "church?"

If your concern is real, then you have already let the cat out of the bag - in a sense. By being concerned about the influence of the anti-Christ, you are suggesting that there is such a thing as the anti-Christ. If there is an anti-Christ, then there is also a Christ.

So, you might object to me saying that I am being led by the anti-Christ. Whether or not that is the case is a serious matter, but not the matter which I would want to address at the time. The point is this: If you think the anti-Christ is real, then you think that the real Christ is real as well.

It is my contention that there is no neutral ground in the universe. There is a constant state of spiritual war being wage in the spiritual realm - each side contending for the hearts and minds of men.

So, if you think that my church serves the anti-Christ, don't go to a church like mine. But, I would challenge you to dedicate yourself to God in your heart to the real Christ. Serve Him fully. Serve Him only. Serve Him with an undivided heart. And find others who are doing the same thing.

If anyone does not know Christ, then he is lost. But all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God, for God has given us hope in our hearts. By His Spirit, we cry, "Abba, Father!" His Spirit testifies to His children that they are children of God. Innocence is restored to those who call on the Lord in humility and faith.

Wisdom that comes from God is pure. "If any man lacks wisdom, He should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." (James 1)

1:11 PM  
Blogger elvisfromeurope said...

Dan,

No, anti-christ was just a theatrical way to express a doubt. We are all atheists and believers. No one knows for sure if god exists, which one exists or if he doesn't exist at all. You are an atheist just as I am a beliver because we all don't know for sure. Religion has some good effects to it:

1) they are the only ones who care when the rest of the world has abandoned you; they actually give a damn for you (or at least pretend);

2) jesus or allah or photon will always love you, no matter what; so you are never really completely abandoned;

3) charity and many people with messed up lives (drugs, depression etc) have found a way out with religion.

That said, there are many testimonies on the interent of people who have become atheists from a position of evangelical beliefs and vice-versa. So this argument is very complex, messed up, impossible to really understand in the end.

2:23 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

On Giving a Damn...
It was the love of Christ that really impacted me when I was a teenager. I saw the love of God in many evangelical believers. I went to a Christian camp up in the Adirondacks of New York State and saw the glory of God in the beautiful creation and in the campers and counselors there. It was there, on a Sunday night in 1994, when I was 16 years old that I gave my heart and my life to Jesus Christ.

I found this on-fire Pentecostal church in Pepperell, MA about 6 months later. I had never seen a church like it. People were joyful! People were singing and dancing and shouting praise to God. They embraced me (literally) and told me that they loved me. They were strange, but very sincere.

That human beings have capacity for such great love in a world so full of evil, bitterness, and unbelief was a testimony to the truth of the gospel.

The greatest of all the commandments are these: That we love God and that we love one another. And Jesus Christ showed us true love. "Greater love has no one than this, that he would lay down his life for his friends."

That is exactly what Jesus did for us sinners.

How then shall we live?

On photons...
Photons are cool Joe. But c'mon. Photons don't love us... or hate us... or care one way or another about us. Photons just do what photons do.

2:53 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

Dan,

I hear ya about wishing I could read Hebrew. Or Coptic and Greek for that matter.
---
I certainly don't mean for my comments about Christian's lack of uncertainty to be confused with saying they have some some sort of egotistical "know-it-all"-ness. You are NOTHING like that at all-- there's way too much humility and compassion in you. :)


I guess the thing I find so puzzling is that christians have such a curious mixture of uncertainty and certainty.

On the one hand, they admit God is unfathomable. "The lord works in mysterious ways", and God is infinite, and no one knows what his plan is, etc. The Bible can be cryptic, and the true meaning of its prophesies are hard to divine. One of my favorite lines of the catholic mass is "Let us proclaim the mystery of faith".

But on the other hand, despite this acknowledgement of God as mysterious, infinite, and unknowable, there's so much certainty. My teachers used to talk about which classes of people (and which specific people in particular) were going to go to hell with as much certaintly as what they had for breakfast that morning. Unbaptised babies, non-catholics, non-christians, etc.

It's frustrating for me, because whenever I have a question about God or the Bible or spirituality that's unanswerable, I'm met with replies like "I don't have all the answers. Only God knows these answers. The Lord works in mysterious ways. The mind of God is not just unknown-- it's unknowable".

When I ask why God implied the fruit was fatal, God is unknowable. When I ask why God appears to condon genocide and rape, the historical situation is complex and God's will is ambigious. When I ask why a Good God allows us to be in such pain in his universe, he's working in mysterious ways.

But yet-- when talk turns to gay rights, suddenly: "Homosexuality is an abomination and it is against the will of God". Gone are any traces of uncertainty or mystery. Suddenly, on this issue, people know God's will with perfect clarity.

How can Gen 3 (Garden of Eden) be so mysterious, but Gen 19 (Soddom & Gomorrah) be so clear?

How can we know that 90% of Leviticus's intensely-detailed obsessive-complusive rules and regulations are (for the modern Christian) nonsense that can safely be ignored, but at the same time be so sure that it's solitary sentence about gayness is still in-effect?

I mean, seriously, God devotes probably 30 times more space to hair styles and garment fabrics than he does to homosexuality. No one really has any certainty about why God says in Lev 19 my 50% cotton/50% polyester t-shirt is a sin because it's a blend of two different types of fiber, but I've never met a Christian who lost any sleep over it. But at the very same time, no one has any doubt that God "REALLY MEANS IT" when he tells me in Lev 18 that homosexual sex is a sin.

How can you be so sure?

------

The only answer I can come up with is this:

My Grandfather things it's a sin to wear a hat indoors. He seriously thinks it's a horrible evil and immoral thing to do. The minute he walks into a house, he whips his hat off like it's on fire. I've seen him with his hands full of groceries, struggling to hold the screen door open with his body, but he always raises a hand to his hat to carry it in his hands before he'll set foot in the house.

But most people my age and younger don't know about this tradition. We wear hats indoor as well as outdoors. Hats are fashion statements for us. To us, taking off a hat inside makes as much sense as taking off our wristwatch whenever we enter a house. We don't generally take off our hats--- it's not that we're trying to offend, it's just not something that occurs to us.

The funny thing is-- my grandfather can lose his temper over someone wearing at hat in his house. A hat-wearer? The way he'd react, you'd think tha someone came into his house, took down his paintings, and lit them on fire. Anyone who would dare wear a hat in his house is a rude, evil person with no respect for the laws of society. I can see him, as he watches someone in the house not take off a hat, and his face just gets redder, and redder, and his pulse beats faster and faster.

Now, I grant you that among older folks, taking off hats is a sign of respect. And I can theorize that among that culture, the conscious decision to NOT remove your hat might, conceivable, be some way to insult someone you didn't like.

But this isn't my grandfather's thinking. It's not the THOUGHT behind wearing the hat indoors that matters to him. It's the actual act of wearing the hat that's sinful. He is well-aware that the person wasn't trying to be rude by wearing the hat indoors-- but he still is furious at the act itself.

There's no getting around it, my grandfather thinks and acts as if wearing a hat indoors is a immoral, sinful act.

I can see how silly it is for him to be getting so upset over something so small. There's no reason hats shouldn't be worn indoors. Maybe the custom got started when people wore hats in the rain, when hats got wet and stinky? I dunno. But it's just silly that he gets so upset about it now. It's irrational, it makes no sense, and worst of all, he's just getting himself all worked up and all upset over absolutely nothing.

But it's not his fault, not really. He was taught over and over and over for seventy years that indoor-hats are wrong. Everyone he ever knew told him that. His parents told him that, his friends, his career, his bosses, his co-workers, everyone. He was told it ten bazillion times, in a thousand nonverbal ways.

Now he can't help himself. He can't even fathom that maybe indoor hats aren't bad. He can't even ask the question "Are indoor hats really wrong?" because for him, the answer is so ingrained that the question has ceased to exist. In his gut, he "knows" wearing a hat indoors is the wrong thing to do.

Fortunately for me and the other rationalists who don't see anything wrong with indoor hats, the time of that culture is coming to a close. People, slowly, are asking "is there anything wrong with wearing a hat indoors"-- they've found the answer to be "No!", and within several decades, there won't be anyone left who even remembers that wearing hat was ever wrong.
--

So, how can people be so sure that dietary laws don't apply but homosexuality laws do?

My best (most hopeful) guess is that homosexuality is like wearing hats indoors. They've always been taught that homosexuality was wrong. Their whole lives, whenever they've heard about homosexuality, it's been closely associated with the word abomination. The second the word "gay" is mentioned, everyone they've ever known lowers their voice, says derrogatory things. Some have said it hatefully, others just shake their head and say it sadly. And after hearting this over and over your whole life, they just feel deep down in their gut that homosexuality IS wrong.

So when they look at dietary laws-- those just don't "feel" truly wrong, after all, our parents didn't obey those laws, our friends didn't obey them, and they were all good, kind people.

But when they look at homosexuality laws-- they do "feel" horribly wrong-- after all, our parents and our friends seemed to feel homosexuality was wrong.

---

My hope is I'm right about that. Just as inter-racial relationships "felt" wrong to our grandparents, so homosexual relationships "feel" wrong to some of us. But just as my generation can see that "indoor hat wearing" isn't REALLY wrong, so too will our children come to see that homosexuality isn't REALY wrong.

----

But maybe my "homosexuality = hat wearing" theory is all wrong. There's a much darker, more-cynical interpretation to the different emotional reactions christians have to dietary laws vs homosexual laws.

Maybe humans just have a need to hate people who are different. Maybe it's in our nature to hate people who aren't in our group.

The whites hate the blacks and the blacks hate the whites. The muslims hate the jews, the jews hate the muslims. The christians hate the jews, the jews hate the christians. The catholics hate the baptists, the baptists hate the mormons, and the mormons hate the catholics. And the only thing that all these diverse groups can seem to agree on is they all hate the homosexuals.

Most won't admit to the word "hate". "Hate" might be too strong a word in some cases. "Love the sinner, hate the sin", they always say.

So maybe some people resist the urge to hate, and water it down to "strongly and utterly disapprove of and have disdain for". Maybe calling someone's identity an abomination doesn't mean you HATE them, but it's certainly something very negative towards them.

Maybe it's just part of human nature to say "This is our group, these are our ways, and you will either conform to our standards, or you don't get to be part of our group or our society. If you're not just like us in all the ways we think matter, then we don't like you, and we will never like you until you change".

If this theory is right, then I get very depressed about humanity. If this is true, then I don't see what hope there is. Sure-- the regulations about what qualifies someone for scorn will change. Race isn't okay to hate someone over anymore. Soon, sexual orientation won't be okay-to-hate-over either. But other categories will replace them. If this theory is right, new socially acceptable hate-categories will pop up as soon as old ones disappear. We won't hate black anymore, we'll hate palestinians. We won't hate Russians anymore, we'll hate illegal immigrants. on and on and on, until eventually two opposing hate groups manage to get their hands on powerful enough weapons to kill the whole planet in the process.

6:04 PM  
Blogger elvisfromeurope said...

Marco,

Very well said!

Dan,

On photons; what is your take on the relationship between matter and god? Is matter a neutral item, is he exactly all matter or is it just some irrelevant independent substrate he created, since morality is all that counts ? I know you can always respond that it is a mystery, his ways are mysterious, but since you studied science, I would like to know how you view god's relationship with matter.

5:44 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Marco,

First of all, the book of Leviticus is not the only place in the Bible where homosexuality is condemned. There are other places, including the book of Romans.

Romans 1:26-27 says, "Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way, the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion."

The "this" to which Paul refers is found in the previous verse. "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator - who is forever praised. Amen.

Also, it is worth noting that homosexuality is only one of the things to which God "gives people over." He also "gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done." He lists all kinds of evil to which God gives people over: envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice, gossip, slander, hating God, insolence, malice, arrogance, senselessness, faithlessness, heartlessness, ruthlessness, disobedience to parents, etc.

So, it is not as though homosexuality is somehow worse or better then these other sins. Sin is sin. I am just as opposed to envy, arrogance, and slander as I am opposed to homosexuality. Love the sinner; hate the sin.

As for the Book of Leviticus ... this is where I get on somewhat of a slippery slope.

The book of Leviticus was written specifically to the newly formed Israelite nation - a theocracy. The Levites were the priests of the new nation (even in a theocracy, there was a separation between the priests and the rest of the governing authorities). As Israel formed as a nation, God gave them the law (10 commandments and other decrees) and instructions on how to build the tabernacle, by which God would reveal His Presence to Israel. There were very specific and strict instructions that God gave. By this, He was showing the Israelites what kind of God He was and how sinful people could approach and worship a Holy God.

But the Law and the Tabernacle is not what brings life. Indeed, the law brings death! Law exposes sin. No one can stand before God and say, "Look at me; I obeyed your laws." No. Law exposes sin and demonstrates God's righteousness and exposes our need for a Savior.

Likewise, the Tabernacle was a shadow of the things to come. In the Tabernacle, you had the outer courts, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies (i.e. Most Holy Place). Only the priests could come into the Holy Place, and then he had to do it in a particular way to fulfill specific instructions - all of which were being used by God to teach the children of Israel how to worship. But only the High Priest of Israel could enter the Most Holy Place, and that only once a year. And if He entered that place with an improper attitude, He would die.

There was a curtain that seperated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.

The temple that Solomon built followed the model of the Tabernacle. When Jesus died on the cross, the curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place in the temple was torn in two! The Pharisees were completely distressed when this happened. But, the point is this. Jesus, the lamb of God, was slain for the sins of the whole world, so that the way is now open for any sinner to approach the throne of grace with freedom and confidence! That is the significance of the curtain being torn in two. We now have access to enter the Holy of Holies - not by our own righteousness - but by the blood of the Lamb.

Hebrews 9 explains this very well. I encourage you to read it. It says is verses 12-14, "He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!"

It also says in Hebrews 8:13, "By calling this covenant 'new,' he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear."

Christians believe that in Christ, we have a new covenant with God. This covenant is based on grace. The old covenant was used by God to reveal His glory and to point toward Christ. It is amazing how the law, the tabernacle, Jewish holidays all point toward Christ.

But because we are now "under grace and not under the law," we serve God by living by the Spirit, and not by the written code.

Now, some "Christians" whose thinking is backward think, "Sweet! So, I can live it up and disregard the law because I'm not under law, but under grace." They change the grace of God for a liscense for immorality. I question the salvation of any and all who do this.

But, it is true that the law is not the point. The law simply exposes sin and our need for a Savior. We must be led by the Spirit, and by the Spirit, put to death those acts which lead to death.

I don't think this is an adequate reply to your objections, but it is a start. The Book of Leviticus is God's word. It is important to read all the Scriptures in light of all the other Scriptures, so as to make sure that we are reading everything in their proper context. It is also necessary to pray and ask God for wisdom and revelation, for without Him we will never understand that truth. It is against our nature to hear, to understand, to accept truth.

But, thanks be to God. We have a wonderful Savior, the precious Holy Spirit, and a gracious Heavenly Father who loves us and leads us on into all truth.

9:56 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Joe,

Matter was created by God. Matter is "good" as far as it goes. God said repeatedly in Genesis 1 that His creation was good.

We are under a curse though. Because of the fall of man, God has cursed the ground, so that it would by "by the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." Genesis 3:19.

Matter is not God - as some religions teach. It is not as though everything is a part of God.

God became man. Jesus was fully human. His body was made up of matter. He lived and died as a human being. But He is also fully God. This is a profound mystery which I will never comprehend.

Matter can be used for good or evil. Any tool is just that - a tool. Tools can be used to build things or to tear things down. Guns can be used to hunt, to shoot at targets for sport, to murder other people out of hatred, or to kill evildoers in order to establish justice. It all depends on who has the guns and what is in that person's heart.

So, guns don't kill people; I kill people. Well, I haven't yet directly, but by my vote, I say that murderers, evil tyrants and despots should be put to death. Some see this as cruel and heartless. But I see those who oppose the death penalty as backwards in their thinking, because they are not being vigiliant about defending and protecting the innocent and the just.

It is amazing to me how people have so little compassion for Jerry Falwell, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and George W. Bush, but have so much compassion for violent criminals who have sadistically taken the lives of innocents. Howard Dean has spoken out about making sure that bin Laden gets a trial, but meanwhile, he hurls mean-spirited accusations at President Bush without sufficient evidence of wrong-doing.

But I digress.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Cutting through the smokescreens...

Do you guys acknowledge, that whatever the case may be about the entire truth of God, that one truth that you can count on is that God desires that sinners would repent of their sin?

1:39 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

Sadly, I can't. If there is a God, I don't know what his motives are. But I doubt that his PRIMARY motive concerns sin. His world just has way too much sin in it.

The old testament seems to depict God's primary desire as being worshppped and obeyed. The protestant God's primary goal seems to be "to be believed in".

I certainly can imagine Gods that want people to repent of their sins, but I also can imagine Gods that don't care about sins.

I'm not even sure that sin even exists, truth be told. There's pain, to be sure. There are actions that cause pain. But "sin" seems to imply something more that. Sin seems to imply free will, which I'm not sure we have. And who is to say what actions ARE sinful and not?

I know you'll say sin is whatever God says it is. But who made him king? Just because you created the universe, that doesn't make you the ulitmate judge-- even if you have the power to punish people you disapprove of, that doesn't make you right.

9:20 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

You said, "I know you'll say sin is whatever God says it is. But who made him king? Just because you created the universe, that doesn't make you the ulitmate judge-- even if you have the power to punish people you disapprove of, that doesn't make you right."

If you were talking about a snot-nosed, bratty, self-righteous kid, then these words would make sense, and might even be appropriate. As it is, you are talking about the Omnipotent, Righteous, Merciful, Jealous Jehova. You, on the other hand, are a wretched sinner who deserves God's just wrath. Your sin is offensive to God. He is a powerful and angry God. He will kill you if you do not repent.

Yet, the LORD longs to be compassionate toward you. He is merciful. He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Turn, therefore, and receive God's salvation by faith.

God loves you. I'm praying for you.

11:12 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

"You, on the other hand, are a wretched sinner who deserves God's just wrath. Your sin is offensive to God. He is a powerful and angry God. He will kill you if you do not repent."

You make my point for me perfectly. In many depictions of God, he's a very much "not-a-nice-guy". The mentality of "Worship me, or I will kill you" is that of a god who is a divine tyrant-- more of a satanic figure, than a jesus figure. What's more-- supposedly God isn't going to just have me killed, he's going to have me sent to a torturer, where I will exist in agony for all eternity.

And why? because in my heart I have doubts about things? Because, like a child, I demand to know WHY blended fabrics and gay marriages are wrong, and won't just accept "Because I said so" from God? Should I take actions to hurt the lives of my gay friends, against my own concept of morality, merely because God threatens me with eternal violence if I do not obey?

This angry, jealous, wrathful, punative depiction of God is not a good person, he is evil. This kind of a god isn't a savior, he's a tyrant and a bully. I therefore argue (and hope) he is false.
--

The good news is, most people agree with me. Christainity became popular because of Jesus's depiction of an all-loving god-- not because of the old testament or revelation's depiction of an angry one. Angry thunder-wielding gods were a dime a dozen in 4 BC, but Jesus's god was revolutionary, and took the world by storm.

To many christians Judas Iscariot, the man who betrayed Jesus, winds up in heaven. I read somewhere about a sect of Christianity that believes even satan will ultimately be enlightened, see the error of his ways, and go to heaven. I like these stories. They feel more like the kind of order that would be created by a purely good god.

Goodness is a virtue, pure obedience is not.

3:40 AM  
Blogger elvisfromeurope said...

Dan,

Ok, lets get the record staight: the truth is that most people are quite good, most do no harm to anyone, most people in the world have suffered much pain for pure bad luck, economic reasons etc. Your god and the bible-koran other holy books (also very well known as THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL) tries to brainwash people into thinking they have committed atrocious crimes, even thought crimes, even simply doubting the existence of god is sufficient to burn forever.
God is not a mathematician, it is not one crime one punishment, but even a mustard seed of crime, just a slight thought of god's non existence you get eternal punishment. So religion is simply based on fear. Now to truly have faith and believe in god and be 100% sure you are saved, you would have to not have even the slightest fear of punishment. You would not need to pray, go to church, control all your thoughts since they are such horrible crimes etc. But christians do just this, so in reality they are really never sure they are saved, they really don't believe in their god, they really constantly have mustard seed of doubts of god and by doing this they once again commit the very crime of doubting god. God gets angry at these christians because he thinks that by now they should trust in him and not have to pray, read the bible, control every thought they have. So it ends up being a positive feedback loop. Fear of punishment->forced belief in god->god sees you are forcing yourself and you really don't believe with all your heart->god is angry->you know this->you try harder but it will never be enough->you know you will be punished->fear of god; the loop goes on forever is self sustaining. The only way out is to completely deny this religion, god's existence and all religions. And this is exactly what god wants. He wants people to remain innocent like EVE and not eat the poisoned fruit of the bible-religion.

I know you will respond the only way out of the loop is through christ, but in that case you still have to believe (in christ), or force yourself to believe, or convince yourself that somehow you are choosen by grace, but you are never sure, there is a fine line between grace and being saved through works and they get confused, purposely, to confuse the poor believer: do works reflect the fact you are saved or are they the way to being saved ? and how much "works" are enough to be (or reflect being) saved ? especially since god is not a mathematician, he may expect "10 trillion works", hence you will never be able to abide, who knows.

Hence the constant pray, chruch going, preaching to oneselves and others (which are works, by the way) etc. But then again maybe your "works" are not sufficient, then again fear and you enter the loop once again. This religion is a TRUE MENTAL TRAP.

6:34 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Marco,

I believe my previous post is most likely as harsh as I will get.

I think you are confused about the New Testament and the Old Testament. First of all, from everything we see in the gospels, Jesus' view of the Old Testament Scriptures is extremely high. He endorsed all the prophets (who preached wrath and damnation). He himself said, "Unless you repent, you will perish." He said not to fear man who can only kill you, but fear God who can kill you and then throw your soul into hell.

Yes, Jesus preached about love and demonstrated love through His actions. He forgave the adulteress woman. He demonstrated what grace really is. That is why I love Him.

Also, the Old Testament testifies to a compassionate and gracious God. There was a time when God revealed Himself to Moses declaring,"The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in love." And there are many other places throughout the Old Testament where God's love is evident.

You can not hold to a high view of Jesus and a low view of the Old Testament - not consistently. Unless of course, you pick and choose which parts of the Gospels you like and believe that Jesus said and which parts you do not like and believe. But if you are impartial, and you think that Jesus did proclaim this whole gospel of love and grace, then it stands to reason that He also endorsed the Old Testament.

John 1 starts out, "In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning." Later on... "And the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us."

Later, Jesus said, "Before Abraham, I AM!" So, Jesus identified Himself as the same Person as the Person who revealed Himself to Moses at the burning bush.

So, Jesus (the second person in the trinity) is the Logos. But Jesus is also Jehovah (Jehovah is the triune God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). This is a profound mystery. Jesus is Jehovah. But He is only one of the three Persons which constitute Jehovah.

The Old Testament prophecied about the Messiah. The Messiah of the Gospels endorsed and fulfilled the Old Testament Law and prophecies.

If you reject Jesus altogether, this argument doesn't matter. But if you want to accept the loving, grace side of Jesus, then you pretty much have to accept the totality of Jehovah - unless you want to start a new cult. Actually, the cult has already started: Modernity mixed with some choice parts of Jesus' message picked out in a haphazard manner, all to make sure that one can have God without doing this uncomfortable thing called repentance.

7:02 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

That said, you do need to be intellectually honest. You can not fake repentance and conversion. If you do not think that homosexuality is sin, then you can not call it sin. But you are still in sin for believing that it is not sin. God must reveal His truth to you. You must receive it.

7:04 AM  
Blogger elvisfromeurope said...

Dan,

On homosexuals you are wrong. These are people that are trapped in the wrong body and your god knows this. It is a result of bad design on his part, he messed up a bit on the genetics, but that is ok, he is not great in science and in math especially. These people should be called "man trapped unfortunately in a woman's body" or vice versa. So as you see there is no sin, no reference to this very important detail, and you have completely misinterpreted the bible. You should also love them more than yourself and never talk or be unkind to them in any way possible, and try to please them as much as possible in all possible manners. That means you are not to tell them that what they do you think is a sin, since this is your personal view and not god's. Otherwise you are guilty of the sin of self righteousness, pride, boasting you are superior because you were not born with such an unfortuante condition etc. God will be very angry with you and pour out his just wrath upon you if you do not repent and change your ways on this subject.

"Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination."

Now if the man is a woman trapped in a man's body, then the man is in reality a woman and therefore the case is not present.

10:04 AM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

Dan,

No worries. I've been called a sinner by far less kind-hearted people than you :). And strictly speaking, I do have grave doubts about whether i'm a good person, and I do have a long list of things I wish I'd done differently, things that keep me up, late at night, when the demons of my mind come. So I do have guilt, and there are many human beings I would ask forgiveness from, and I'd gladly welcome the forgiveness of whatever gods may be.

BUT-- I'm supremely confident that my views on homosexuality are NOT something I should feel guilty about.

I just get so hung up on the homosexuality thing, because it's an issue where an otherwise loving religion can suddenly turn so hateful, discriminatory, and creepy. And I just can't fathom it. Why are two people in love so upsetting to everyone? Is it just general homophobia being recast in religious terms?

Sure, the Jerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons and Bob Jones Universities say INCREDIBLY horrible things about gays, but it's unfair of me to bring them up, because any movements going to have outspoken fundamentalists who say dumb things.

It's not them that worry me. It's the fact that almost every christian I've ever met treats gay people like there's something horribly wrong with them. In college, I knew the nicest woman who was the epitome of christian kindness to everyone-- except homosexuals. She wouldn't take classes from gay professors, she wouldn't go to a gay doctor, she wouldn't knowingly sit at the same lunch table as a gay student. She wasn't a mean person-- she was an incredibly NICE person. She never called the an abomination to their face, but she also silently made sure they knew she strongly disproved of them.

For all you know, _I_'m gay, yet you'd call me an abomination "to my face". If you were the Ayatollah Khomeini, I could shrug it off, but you're not-- you're a nice guy.

Everyones entitled to their beliefs, to be sure, but Christians should be aware that their quiet disapproval of homosexuality kills. Homosexuals are 13 times as likely to kill themselves as heterosexuals. In the 80s, lots of christians opposed funding AIDS research on the grounds that it was either "God's Plague", "God's cure for homosexuality", or just "Promiscuous people getting what they deserved".

Now, I guess if you really think God wants you to shake your head and look down on every homosexual, if it's really your job to communicate your disapproval to every homosexual you meet, well.. what can you do? I guess you have to do it then.

But, I'd break out that bible and read every modernly-ignored law in Leviticus before you do. I'd think long and hard about it-- squint and see if there's ANY way you might possibly be wrong on your intepretation of this. Reread Soddom and Gammorrah a hundred times, and be real sure that their sin was being gay. Double-check Ezekiel 16:49 which says their sin was refusing to help the poor and needy. Look closely at Matt 10:14 and entertain the possibility that maybe Sodom was destroyed for violating the laws of hospitality.

I beg every christian to do that. Because your stance on this IS killing people, and destroying the mental health of even more. The blood of their suicides is, at least a little bit, on your hands. So the next time you hear a sermon that mentions the evils of homosexuality, look around at the rest of the audience, particularly the children who are quietly taking mental notes.

Because one out of every twenty of us Americans are actively gay. One out of twenty of the children in the audience are probably going to grow up to be actively gay. And those one out of twenty people generally DO NOT FEEL they have any free will or choice in the matter any more than most heterosexuals feel they had a choice to be heterosexual. They won't interpret "homosexuality is an abomination" as saying "your behavior is unwise or naughty", they're going to interpret it as "You are an abomination, and you are disgusting to everyone".

(Admittedly, it's only a minority that feel they have no choice. A much larger majority of the population, some 70%ish, are 'a little gay', but do feel they have a choice. They'll have a few gay thoughts at some point in their lives, choose to never act on them, and go on to lead happy, healthy normal lives, and never think twice about it. Such people aren't a rarity, they're a majority)

I just can't fathom why Christians are doing this. In college I had a gay roommate, and when his mother and family invoked Christ for refusing to talk to him ever again. I had to go to the hospital bed of a woman who tried to kill herself and console her-- her family wouldn't talk to her, even in the hospital, because she was gay. I knew two dozen more whose family didn't cut off all contact, but instead grudingly criticized and disapprove d and belittled them at every instance. And even more than that whose family tried to accept them, but always made sure that no one outside the immmediate family ever found out their horrible family secret.

And for what? Why all this pain? It doesn't have to be like this.

----

I'm sincerely curious. I'm not just trying to be contraian. You notice I never bring up abortion. I "get" the ant-abortion movement. I don't necessarily agree with it, but I can't condemn it. I don't know what the right answer is-- I tend to err on the side of freedom, but some people prefer to err on the side of the preservation of life. I respect that, I get it.

You don't seem me arguing about euthanizing brain dead people like Terri Schiavo. I think brain dead means "she" is dead, but maybe I'm wrong. And really, what's the harm of leaving her body alive? Why the rush to kill it? So what if it stays in a hospital bed for a few decades before it dies of natural causes. We're a rich country, surely we can spare some resources for the one-in-a-gazillion chance she's just going to wake up some day. I understand the christians, I get it.

I can even understand the death penalty advocates, even though I strongly disagree with them. Isn't death the only way to be completely sure the criminal won't get out on the streets ever again? Won't the victim's families feel better if he's killed? I don't agree, but I understand, I get it.

But.. Homosexuality is evil? I don't understand. I just don't get it. It jus doesn't make any sense to me.

----------------------------

One postscript I should add: I've asked this question to a thousand different christians, and only once have I ever heard an answer that even approached making sense to me.

I used to regularly go and meet and talk with the leaders of all kinds of various faiths. Once, when I was meeting with a catholic priest, I asked him about homosexuality, and he told me this:

"Homosexuality is only sinful because it can never result in procreation. Any sex of any kind that can't result in procreation is sinful. Having sex without intending to procreate is always wrong. So being gay is no more or less sinful than being on birth control-- it's exactly the same sin."

Now, I think that's kinda crazy, but there is a certain logical consistency it to it, I suppose.

11:46 AM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

"You can not hold to a high view of Jesus and a low view of the Old Testament - not consistently. Unless of course, you pick and choose which parts of the Gospels you like and believe that Jesus said and which parts you do not like and believe."

I actually giggled a little outloud when I read this, because you're totally right, you've really pegged me with this quite. This is EXACTLY what I do. And upon contemplation, I can certainly understand that being a tad frustrating for anyone who talks to me.

--

But hold on-- there's a certain logic my actions. What if someone was supposed to be the greatest mathematician in history, but he didn't write any textbooks, so all we have are third-hand copies of notes his students took during his lectures. Whenever I come across an error in the math, I have to decide whether his students made a mistake when they were taking notes, or whether the great mathematician himself made those errors.

To complicate the matter, when I look over the notes, I can see some really brilliant ideas in the equations-- so I know there MUST have been SOMEBODY who was really briliant in math that somehow contributed to the notes that I have. So therefore, whenever I find an error, I tend to assume that it was made by the note-takers, not the mathematician. But, I could be wrong.

----

In my defense, the authors of the gospels did the same thing. We know they had a whole collection of sayings that were supposedly spoken by Jesus and it was up to them to try to figure out which ones were accurate and which ones weren't, based on their own estimation of which were 'true'. You already know the ones they decided WERE Jesus, but I'm fond of some of the ones which they didn't include, too. Such as:

Jesus said, "The person old in days won't hesitate to ask a little child seven days old about the place of life, and that person will live."

Jesus said, "Do not be concerned from morning until evening and from evening until morning about what you will wear."

His disciples said to Him, "Is circumcision beneficial or not?" He said to them, "If it were beneficial, their father would beget them already circumcised from their mother."

Jesus said, "If the flesh came into being because of spirit, it is a wonder. But if spirit came into being because of the body, it is a wonder of wonders. Indeed, I am amazed at how this great wealth has made its home in this poverty."

Jesus said, "Woe to the flesh that depends on the soul; woe to the soul that depends on the flesh."

Jesus said, "Whoever has come to understand the world has found only a corpse, and whoever has found a corpse is superior to the world."

Jesus said, "Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished, and he will rule over the All."

Jesus said, "If those who lead you say, 'See, the Kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the Kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living Father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty."
---------------

Now I have no way of knowing how accurate they are. But don't those SOUND like Jesus? Maybe he didn't say them, but they sure sound like his stuff.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Marco,

Say for a second that the Gospels are not completely ipso facto - the inspired, infallible, authoritative word of God - but merely, historical accounts of the life, teachings, death, burial, (and apparently) resurrection of Jesus.

A good historian gets all the sources he can and triangulates the evidence. (Are you impressed by the word triangulate? My wife is a history grad student; I pick up some words like triangulate once in a while). Primary sources are generally much more valuable than secondary sources; although, my wife contends that there are certain times when good secondary sources can be better than primary sources.

John was a Jew and a disciple of Jesus. He wrote the Gospel of John. Apparently, he was the only one of the 12 who was not martyred (according to tradition). He also wrote the books of 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Revelation. He was with Jesus for that 3 years. Apparently, his life was dramatically altered as a result of these three years with Jesus. So, take the Book of John for what it is worth.

Luke was a doctor - I believe a Gentile. It has been a while since I studied this; but I think he was around Jesus. I believe he saw Him and heard Him speak and teach. He also wrote the Book of Acts in which we see the history of the early church - Paul's conversion and missionary journeys. Apparently, Luke went with Paul on at least one if not more than one of these missionary journeys.

Matthew was a tax collector - one of the twelve. I can't remember right now if he was a Jew or a Gentile - but as a tax collector he was not much liked by the Jews. (I really should know if he was a Jew or Gentile). However much he was not liked, Jesus ate with him - which really irritated teh religious folk. Matthew's life was dramatically changed by Jesus.

John Mark (or simply Mark) had gone on missionary journeys with Paul, but apparently, Paul was not very satisfied with Mark. Barnabus and Paul got into a pretty hot dispute over John Mark. Their disagreement was so sharp that they parted company. Paul and Silas went one way, and Barnabus and Mark went another way. Later (I believe), Mark wrote the gospel of Mark.

The early church fathers (in the 2nd century) apparently had a very high view of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

So, from a historical point of view, the best theory we can form about Jesus seems to be from these accounts. Read all the accounts. Compare them. Triangulate the evidence. Try to find other sources (if there are any available). And be disciplined in triangulation. But, do not haphazardly pick and choose. Do not project what you want Jesus to have done and said onto what these histories say he did and said. That is reckless.

3:48 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

The gospels are facinating source documents, but they are not primary sources. There's no historical reason to believe the authors of the gospels were named Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. These are second-century "rough guesses" by some turkish bishop-- the authors never identify themselves, they never report to personally have met Jesus, or personally have witnessed any of the events they describe. The gospels were never called "The Gospel of Mark/Matthew/Luke/John" until long after the authors had died. Their names could be anything.

Mark was written first, between 70-73 AD, by someone who thought the world was going to end within the next few years. We don't know who wrote it, but we know that whoever DID write it, they didn't have the first clue about the geography of Israel obviously didn't have access to a good map. There's all sorts of examples where Mark says things like "On my way from New York to Texas, they stopped off in California." or "As they were walking from San Francisco to Los Angeles, they rested in mexico". No one who had ever met Jesus personally would have ever made that mistake. Whoever did write Mark, they weren't taking dictation from an apostle.

The Gospels of Matthew and Luke come next. They were written in the 80-90s, by people who had already had copies of the Mark work, but weren't completely satisfied with it. Neither of them clame to be firsthand witnesses, and they were written at a time when the generation that knew Jesus would definitely had died out. Luke may have been written by a woman or else just a very woman-friendly man. The Gospel of Luke explicitly mentions being a secondary source, and its author emphasizes NOT being an eyewitness to any of the events.


Gospel of John the rebel, it was written last, it seems-- with it's radically different theology than the synoptics. This author goes out of his way to make sure his name is never metioned. And whoever did write the gospel of john, he wasn't John of Patmos, the author of Revelation. That person, who actually DOES sign his work, actually WAS named John, but has such a different theology.

The point is-- it's tempting to look at gospels as four different primary sources that mostly validate each other. Unfortunately, the evidence strongly suggests that they're all much-later secondary sources, and that the similarities between them come from the authors all having access to the same two written sources ("Mark" and a lost one called "Q").

The thing is-- the bible never says otherwise. The bible never says who wrote the gospels. The bible never says the gospels are eyewitness accounts. Those are all things we imagine to bible to say, but when you actually read it-- the bible never says that. That's the thing about the bible-- a lot of what "everyone knows is in the bible" isn't ACTUALLY in there.

So, if the gospels AREN'T flawless-divine-inspired, not only CAN we pick and choose which parts to believe are true, we absolutely MUST! Just like we would for any other historical documents.

THere's a really interesting program call the Jesus Seminar, which is a group of scholars that all get together and try to decide which of the reputed Jesus sayings were actually said by Jesus. Now, these are historians that don't believe in the divinity of the bible (or probably of Jesus either, for that matter), so it might not be so interesting to you, but I find it really fascinating to see which ones they DO all agree one, and which one's they do all agree are fabrications.

4:56 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Marco,

Without going into many details, I will simply say this. It is never a good idea to pick and choose at random when attempting to find out the facts of history. Even if the gospels are not primary sources (which I do not concede - since I believe they were divinely inspired), to read the gospels, pick and choose what you like (20 centuries later), reject what you don't like, and then suggest that you can present a reliable account of what might have happened (as in - more reliable than the gospels itself) is reckless.

As for the theology of the Gospel of John verse the theology of 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Revelation, it is simply false to suggest that there are significant differences. John may be emphasizing something different in his gospel than he did in his letters and in the recording of the Revelation he had, but I see absolutely no contradictions.

It is interesting that John starts his letters and Revelation by revealing his name, whereas he starts the gospel with, "In the beginning was the Word...." But perhaps this is due to the fact that he wanted the gospel to be focused completely on Christ and not himself. Whereas in his later letters (1, 2, 3 John), since they were only about a page long and written to specific people, it would have been very natural for him to sign his name.

This is pretty much as far as I can intelligently debate you on the historical accuracy of the gospels. If I ever go to seminary, then maybe I'll get back to you on some of your other historical arguments about the gospels.

That said, even if you are right (which I do not concede), and the gospels are fallible, can't we assume as historians that we can learn quite a bit about Jesus' life and teachings from reading the gospels?

How do you know that Charlegmagne ever existed, or what he did and said? How do you know about the events of Alexander the Great or the Pelopennesian Wars or the Crusades? Is it not by reading that which has been written by fallible and biased (not to mention sinful) human beings? What do you say about the Book of Acts? Is it fiction? How then do you explain the explosion of the church and the spread of the gospel throughout the Roman Empire?

If you do trust in the Book of Acts as a history, it seems reasonable to trust in the Gospel of Luke as a history - since it apparently was written by the same author.

Now, I don't surrender the doctrine of inerrancy, but for your sake, I would challenge you. The gospels and the book of Acts are historical.

To take a history and pick and choose what to believe and reject haphazardly will not give you an accurate idea of what happened.

It seems that this guy, Jesus, did exist. He apparently was wise and good and had miraculous powers. He apparently claimed to be sent from God - and not just as another prophet. It appears that He was the Son of God. He pissed of the religious Jews. They accused him of blasphemy. This led to his trial and crucifixion. It is entirely believable then that he told the Jews, "Before Abraham, I AM!"

Now, what do you do with that? If Jesus did not claim to be the great I AM; if he did not claim to be the Son of God; then the Jews wouldn't have had such a vandetta against Him.

You can argue that Jesus was just a good man who called the Pharisees on their self-righteousness and that is what pissed them off, but does that ring true? How did he have such a dramatic impact on the world? And then you also have the C.S. Lewis argument. Jesus was either Lord, Liar, or Lunatic. To suggest something other than that just doesn't make sense in light of the claims of Christ and in light of the events of history.

5:21 PM  
Blogger elvisfromeurope said...

Check this out

http://www.tentmaker.org/
tracts/DoesForeverS.html

the web address all on one line.
(maybe like below)

http://www.tentmaker.org/tracts/DoesForeverS.html

4:38 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Joe,

Interesting. It would obviously help if I knew Greek.

The doctrine of inerrancy is applicable to the original manuscripts, not the copies and translations. Having said that, the copies and translations are pretty good, just as a yard stick is pretty good even though it may be off by a fraction of a millimeter from the standard (which has been defined in terms of the speed of light).

Even if eon of eons does not necessarily mean eternity, but an indeterminate period of time, that indeterminate period of time could be an eternal period of time.

However, whether it is an eternity or not, it is going to take a systematic theological proof to prove that salvation is for the majority of people. Jesus clearly said that the way is straight and narrow and only a few find it, while the road to death is wide.

It is also true that there has been much injustice done by the church the past 1600 years as the church was corrupted with politics. The "true" church has always been a minority voice, but that voice has not espoused that most people would be saved. To conclude that most people would be saved because of a possible mistranslation of aeion can only be accomplished via a sleight of hand. This is exactly what Mr. Amirault does.

6:33 AM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

To be sure-- if you want to learn about the history of Jesus and early christian church, the Gospels, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles are definitely a good place to start.

But it's important to remember that the authors of these works are not historians, nor are they trying to be historians. The works are religious works intended to either convert non-christians to christianity, or else to convert some christians to a different "type" of christianity. To take them at face value is a definite mistake-- any more than reading a scientology book and taking it at face value is a mistake. Neither L. Ron Hubbard nor the authors of the gospels are trying to fairly and accurately depict history-- rather, they all have a purpose, and they present a sort of "essay" that's a mixture of history, folklore, myth, and philosophy. That isn't to say they're wrong (okay, Scientology is wrong.. even I can't pretend otherwise lol). Rather, they authors are trying to convey Truth-- not facts. If the authors have to choose between a version of the story that is historically accurate but confusing and one that sorta 'fudges' the historical details but conveys a spiritual truth, the gospel authors would invariably pick the one that conveys the spiritual truth, as they saw it.

But if you want to get to the actual history of what the historical jesus actually said, you have to try to "subtract out the bias", or "cut through the spin" that the four gospels authors. Alternatively, you can look at every possible source you can find, not just the four that came to be approved. Instead, look at every possible 1st century source you can find, and then see what parts are common to ALL sources.

Put simply-- if two christians in 60 AD couldn't agree on whether or not Jesus said or did something, there's no reason we should be certain that he did.

So, to use a simple example: Only in John do we hear anything about the Jesus = Logos thing. None of the earlier gospels seem to be aware of it. Therefore, it's likely that Jesus himself probably never said anything like that, but that that was John's philosophical/spiritual interpretation, not Jesus's.

A few others off the top of my head:

Nobody can quite agree what Jesus's last words were. Therefore, it's likely that we simply can never know what his last words were, and the one he's reported to say are just "potential things he might have said as last words".

For example, many of the earliest gospels, including Mark, do not seem to be aware of a ressurrection. Therefore, it's likely that part didn't really happen.

In John, Jesus has a favorite "beloved disciple"-- but none of the other gospels agree about this. It's likely, therefore, that such a special favorite didn't exist.

Only Matthew and Luke seem to think Jesus came from Bethlehem, and their versions disagree on the details. Mark and John don't know anything about this. Likely, then, Jesus wasn't really born in Bethlehem.

Matt. and Luke tell us that Mary directly interacted with angels and knew Jesus was the messiah. In Mark, Jesus's mother and siblings are explicitly mentioned as NOT being christians-- they think Jesus is "out of his mind". It seems unlikely, therefore, that Mary believed Jesus was the son of god (especially at the start of his ministry).

Similarly, Mark knows nothing about Jesus being a divinely conceived "Son of God". Either Jesus was a bad teacher, never bothers to mention this, or else Jesus himself never said that he was divinely conceived.

Now, when we also include all the other writings and all the other things that many many christians in the first and second century believed, even less becomes certain.

So, try out this trilemma.

Some of Jesus's students seem to have no idea about major portions of christian doctrine. These students (like the authors of the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel Thomas) seem to have no clue that Jesus was divinely conceived, for example. Now, how can we explain some of Jesus's most important students being so utterly clueless.

The way I see it, there are only three options: Jesus was a lousy teacher, absentminded, or misquoted. Let's consider each option:

1. Jesus was a lousy teacher. He was confusing people all the time, and when he tried to explain certain simple concepts (like "Joseph isn't my real dad", "My mom was a virgin"), he screwed it up, and his students (Mark, Thomas) couldn't figure out what he was trying to say, so when they (or their students) wrote those Gospels, they didn't include the virgin birth, because Jesus hadn't done a good enough job explaining it.

2. Jesus was absent-minded. Even though he was divinely conceived, he forget to mention that part to authors of Mark and Thomas. It just slipped his mind to mention that his mother was a virgin. Therefore, no matter how important it would be to later christians, some early christians had never heard about the virgin birth because Jesus forgot to tell them.

3. Jesus was mis-quoted. Mark and Thomas don't mention Jesus's virgin birth because Jesus didn't have a virgin birth-- decades later, someone else came up with that story. Later authors HAD heard the virgin birth story, and so they included it in their gospels, but earlier authors couldn't include that story in their gospels because that story hadn't been invented yet.

Now, let's consider which of these three options might be true: The one thing everyone seems to agree on is that Jesus was a great teacher. We also have many reports that he was brilliant, well-versed in the torah, and insightful-- it's not likely that he was absent-minded. Therefore, it seems easy to conclude that the discrepancies in the five gospels aren't because of any fault on Jesus's part, but instead, reflect errors made by the authors of the gospels.

12:03 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

So, when I add up all the Gospels, what do I really believe?

- Jesus probably did exist, was probably born more or less around 4 BC, give or take a decade, and probably died in the late 20s or early 30s. .
- Jesus was introduced to spirituality by the populist revival movement that was led by John the Baptist.
- After John's death, Jesus became an itenerant Rabbi, and went around teaching.
- Jesus probably did say things like "Turn the other cheek", "Love your enemies". He probably urged charity and kindness.
- Jesus offended either the Pharisees, the Romans, or both and was crucified for it. What exactly he did, I don't think can be known, but my guess is that they felt he was going to be another John the Baptist.
- Jesus wasn't divinely conceived, didn't perform miracles, and didn't resurrect.


I'm pretty certain, but not positive, about the following:

-Jesus probably never told anyone he was the messiah. As the term was used in 30 AD, the Messiah was more of a political leader than a spiritual one. If Jesus told people he was the messiah, they would have thought he meant "I'm going to stage a revolt and become the literal King of Israel"-- something jesus had no intention of doing. It's therefore unlikely he told anyone he was the messiah-- to tell a 30 AD audience he was the messiah would have bordered on a lie.

- Jesus PROBABLY didn't think he and he alone was the fulfillment of prophecies.

- Jesus probably didn't think he was the "one and only" son of god. He just doesn't strike me as the egotistical type.

- Jesus probably didn't preach about a future end-of-the-world, or a literal coming-of-heaven-on-earth. He probably preached a more internal, spiritual, individualized version of heaven.
--

And then things I have know clue what to think about:

- Did Jesus attempt miraculous healings? We know that such power-of-suggestion healings ARE possible, because there are tons of healers of every religion modernly but we don't think they're supernatural.

- Did Jesus actually know something I don't about the supernatural? Or was he just a very good man whose heart was in ther right place, but still believed in mythological gods and deities-- not unlike socrates or plato or apollonius or buddha?

---------

So, that's ultimately what I think. Of course, I guess that's what makes me a non-christian.

But, I think the above is what you get when you take a very neutral historian-based approach. That doesn't mean the neutralish historian-ish approach is TRUE-- but it's is the result of an honest, logical, rational attempt of a person who has no direct "relationship with god" and no access to any kind of spiritual experience.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Short response. I do not have time to address all your arguments right now.

Mark and John do not mention the virgin birth. That does not mean that it did not happen. They did not record it. That is all it means. Mark's gospel is the shortest gospel. He did not mention several things that the other three gospels do mention.

As for Jesus' last words, I would say that all that he said on the cross were his last words. Then you can compile a list of last words that Jesus spoke. So, when one account says one thing and another account says another, it does not mean that there is a contradiction. They work together perfectly in stereo.

Also, Mark does record Jesus' resurrection (yes - even the verses before chapter 16 verse 9 show that Jesus had risen).

Mark 16:6 - "'Don't be alarmed,' he said. 'You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him."

An angel testifying to a resurrection and an empty tomb. Mark records the resurrection.

The same is true about Jesus being the Logos. John records it. None of the other authors did. But none of the other authors say anything contrary to that either.

The idea that the authors of the gospels fudged the history in order to make theological points is just that - an idea. I do not believe that for a second.

2:59 PM  
Blogger elvisfromeurope said...

You all forgot the most plausable possibility: The Christ was an alien from outer space. There is far more reason to believe this then any other idea since we have firsthand experience of technological-scientific evolution. Just look at the evolution of technology in the last 100 years, now imagine an alien race having evolved to our level some few million years ago and continued to advance technically. They would be truly god like compared to us, therefore all the biblical events could have been encounters with aliens. Who created the aliens ? maybe a universe with much simpler laws of physics that allow high speed natural evolution, or maybe a hierarchy of gods, or maybe all the universes are in a computer simulation or maybe in metaphysical minds or maybe we have gods in a vat etc. Some modern christian churches (in europe) have designs similar to flying saucers.

The whole idea of being rewarded or punished by god goes against the very essence of christianity. People should love their enemies (even the worst of sinners) unconditionally only for the value of the act within itself, with no accountability to god involved, with no reward expected, even expecting punishment for it. Now that is true unconditional love. That message, which is the deepest christianity presents, still today is completely revolutionary and supernatural.

"But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil."

5:29 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:03 AM  
Blogger elvisfromeurope said...

Christianity is a case of very low signal to noise ratio. If the principal message is love, and many would say that, it implies unconditional love. Now if we can love our enemy unconditionally and not expect nothing in return we become gods. In this context I would say that the whole point of debating the existence of supernatural gods, the afterlife, heaven, hell, punishment is simply noise. It is totally irrelevant. Why do we debate this ? exactly because we are "selfish" and are more concerned with ourselves than with others. We are self obsorbed so to say, thinking only of what everything means to ourselves. Christianity is right when it implies the complete loss of the self, complete submission, but that is submission to love, to others. And actually all the supernatural problems become meaningless in this case. God exists only when we become him by pure unconditional love towards others and especially the worst sinners. In this case, if one could become like this, which is a very tall order, we could care less if god exists or doesn't, if we are to be punished or not, these problems would disappear completely. In a way the bible then doesn't even imply a supernatural god or afterlife. It is important only to the selfish who are worried only of themselves.

12:14 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Joe,

The most plausible possibility? C'mon. You make completely crazy assumptions without providing any proof whatsoever that your assumptions have any truth in them. You proceed to go forth from those assumptions with a great deal of creativity. And you call that plausible?

You would probably be a great author of science fiction. Really. You should write some science fiction, I would enjoy reading it.

But to call your science fiction the most plausible possibility is beyond ludicrous. I can make all kinds of things up and say that the probability of my assertions is somewhere between 0 and 1. But that does not make my assertions the most plausible possibility.

You do know that there is a probabibility greater than 0 that all the oxygen in the room in which I am sitting could rush to one corner of the room for about five minutes, and that I would die for lack of oxygen. There is a real probability that this may happen. The probability is probably somewhere around 0.00000000000000000000000000000001. So, I have not went out to buy an emergency oxygen kit.

I wonder whether or not I am even being wise in responding to your ideas. It is abundantly obvious that you are not attempting to truly figure out the historical facts concerning the famous man from Galilee.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Marco,

You may want to check this website out. Inasmuch as I feel inadequate to fully answer your questions (not to mention too busy with life to answer all your questions), I have turned to a friend of mine who is an apologist. He pointed me to this website. I glanced through it and understood a very small portion of it, but if you have time, you may find this enlightening.

http://www.bible-researcher.com/endmark.html#dissent

3:14 PM  

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