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Old 08-20-2002, 11:04 PM   #1
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Biblical Trustworthiness (continued)

With Elvis' permission, I wish to continue the discussion with melon first started in "What's the deal?" The recently closed thread was concerned primarily with homosexuality, but my concerns were not directly related with topic. Rather, my concerns were about what the Bible does and does not say, and whether it is to be believed.

So, I shall begin where melon left off.


Melon, it seems to me that you use "sect" and "denomination" interchangeably. Technically, I believe "sect" often refers to a heretical denomination, so I would be very careful in the use of that term.

(I've seen "sect" defined in several places as a Christian cult, where a "cult" is strictly non-Christian. It certainly doesn't appear that you meant it in this way, but I thought I should bring this up.)


You seem to imply that I'm not forthcoming about my denomination. I admit that I do not often mention the fact that I'm Southern Baptist (although I did so here, in a thread in which you yourself posted eight times).

But there are two very simple reasons I don't often mention I'm a Southern Baptist. First, nobody asks. Second, saying I'm a Southern Baptist doesn't actually say much more than I'm an evangelical Protestant.

I will let the official site for the Southern Baptist Convention speak for me, but look how loosely associated Southern Baptist churches actually are:

"Some people feel that denominations are constrictive, and that when you identify with other churches, you suffer compromise.

"Southern Baptists are sympathetic to these concerns and so firmly hold to the principle of church autonomy and self-rule...

"The Convention is an alliance of churches working in friendly cooperation under the heading 'Southern Baptist.' A Southern Baptist church is about as independent as you can get and still be counted as part of a denomination....

"This is not a matter of moral or doctrinal compromise. You cannot believe and do just anything and remain a part of the Southern Baptist fellowship. All Baptist bodies have limits. But within those limits, there is room for significant cooperative diversity.(link)"

"A church technically becomes Southern Baptist by contributing to the mission causes of the Convention. (link)"

"Individuals do not join the Southern Baptist Convention per se. Rather, they become Southern Baptists by joining one of more than 41,500 Southern Baptist churches. (link)"

"Within the Southern Baptist Convention, the licensing and ordination of ministers is a local church matter.

"There is no denominational ordination service. The list of Southern Baptist ministers is simply a compilation from the reports of the churches. The Southern Baptist convention neither frocks nor defrocks ministers. (link)"

Further, the basic beliefs that tie these chuches together are so vague that they summarize a LOT of the unifying beliefs of all evangelical Protestantism. It's not vague to a fault, but it does keep the door open for the beliefs in faith healing, speaking in tongues, restrictions against dancing and musical instruments, AND the opposing beliefs.

If you want know more specifics, I recommend the Baptist Faith and Message, a document which Southern Baptist churches are free to ignore but almost unanimously embrace.

I was in no way attempting to be dishonest or mysterious in not mentioning the denomination to which I belong. Again, no one asked, and I don't think saying I'm Southern Baptist really helps communicate my beliefs (although I'm sure it does bias some people even further against what I say, since the convention has made some egregious PR missteps in the last decade; never mind that it is the individual church that matters, not the convention).


Now, specific quotes:

Quote:
My beliefs on the nature of the Bible were not invented by me, but is a direct reflection of Roman Catholic teaching on the Bible. In the 1930s, way before the liberalization of Vatican II, Pope Pius XII (?) released an encyclical encouraging scholarly and scientific research of the original texts of the Bible, which was reminiscent of the beliefs of medieval Christian philosopher, St. Thomas Aquinas, who believed that the nature of God was revealed in science. To the credit of the Catholic Church of the time, they knew their history and knew that there were many vastly different translations of the Bible over the millennia. The mindset, of course, was in revealing the original words and translate them closely to their original meaning, we would discover the original word of God. This is why I often reduce Biblical passages to their original language, because there are often many awkward phrases (what is "unlawful marriage" supposed to mean?) that are easily twisted to any kind of devious mindset as translated.
I don't think this gets to the crux of the "nature of the Bible." At best, it is a belief system about the "nature of translations of the Bible." Certainly, some translations are better than others, meaning that fallibility in transcription and translation does exist.

(Surely, not every Protestant translation is as horrible as you think it is.)

But what about the original texts? Even if what Paul and the Gospel authors hand-wrote vanished in the mists of history, one can have firm beliefs about what they wrote, whether God Himself had a hand in those documents.

You clearly don't believe in divine inspiration of that nature: THAT seems to be your belief on the nature on the Bible. Whether it's an old idea, supported by some Pope or another, or some Vatican council or another, doesn't matter to me as a Protestant: the belief could very well be wrong.

What I wonder is, do you believe such inspiration impossible, or that the Mosaic books and the Gospels (regardless of the authors) did not benefit from such guidance?

If you believe it impossible, that God could not have interfered with man on that level, how then could you believe in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ - something you MUST believe in as a Christian?

If you believe it simply didn't happen in (for example) the case of the Gospels, how do you even know Jesus Christ taught to love God and your neighbor?

Either way, ruling out divine inspiration of the Bible seems to be a very hard thing for a Christian to honestly believe.


Quote:
What is commonly thrown at me is that the Bible is not in contradiction; that, in fact, it all flows together and proves it is the "true word of God." That, in itself, is an example of willful blindness and is blatantly ignorant of even simple history. The New Testament is in implicit conflict with itself only because the Christian Church was borne of division between the Church of Jerusalem, led by St. Peter and St. James, which believed that all Christians must also follow Jewish laws and customs, and the Church of Antioch, led by St. Paul, which believed that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ had freed us from Jewish laws and customs. As the New Testament is a mixture of Jewish Christian and Gentile Christian texts, to cross-quote these books is sloppy at best.
All of this is true if divine inspiration is not. But if God intervenes, then "simple history" is no longer simple - seemingly conflicting messages can be harmonized.

It's like saying that the Gospels must have been written after the destruction of the Temple, since they predicited the event - or that the Gospels were twisted to demonstrate how Jesus fit the prophecies of Isaiah. If the omnipotent, omniscient God Almighty REALLY, ACTUALLY, HISTORICALLY became the human being named Jesus, then one CANNOT insist that the books about Him obey the normal rules of causality.

Quote:
To complicate this, the Gospel of Matthew, for instance, is an example of a Jewish Christian sect in direct conflict against an invading Gentile Christian sect.

Matthew 5:17 -- "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill."

Matthew 7:12 -- "Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets."

Don't think too hard about these statements, because it is true: they do directly conflict with each other. A textual analysis of the original writing style shows Gentile Christian edits and additions to the original Jewish Christian text of the Gospel of Matthew.
Even if Matthew is the work of multiple authors, it's still not necessarily a contradiction. The question is, does the Golden Rule replace the law and the prophets, or summarize and fulfill their meaning?

I will answer that question with a question: do you like people to lie to you, steal from you, and attempt to kill you? I certainly don't.

What Christ taught does not contradict Mosaic law: THAT would require one to teach "Thou shalt not kill" and the other to teach "Never mind, kill with abandon." Rather, Jesus Christ taught the core principles He used in composing the Mosaic law. The author of the Old Testament has come to earth to explain what He meant.


Quote:
You supposedly quote from James...but where is it? It isn't in the epistle at all. And I have a feeling that I already talked about that mirror passage in Acts. Please read it, because I'm tired of repeating myself to you.
It took a moment, but I realize that somewhere along the line I was misunderstood. I apologize for the confusion. Here's what I said:

You VERY WRONGLY assert that Acts 15:19-20 overturns the Mosaic Law. Rather, James urges to write the Gentiles to KEEP THE MOSAIC LAW - as is clear in verses 19-21, Today's English Version:

"It is my opinion," James went on, "that we should not trouble the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead, we should write a letter telling them not to eat any food that is ritually unclean because it has been offered to idols; to keep themselves from sexual immorality; and not to eat any animal that has been strangled, or any blood. For the Law of Moses has been read for a very long time in the synagogues every Sabbath, and his words are preached in every town."


I wasn't quoting The Epistle of James. I was quoting James AS QUOTED in Acts 15:19-20. Look at Acts 15:13: "And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me..." Acts 15:13b-21 are attributed to James.

I DID read that passage, and I quoted it more in context: James (as quoted in Acts) is urging the others to write to ENCOURAGE the practice of the Mosaic Law.

Quote:
Why don't you quote this little passage from James?

James 2:19-24: "You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble. Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called "the friend of God." See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone."

Here's another nice little contrast between Catholicism and Protestantism: justification through faith alone or faith and good works. James here certainly proves that the Protestant belief is wrong, so why don't you follow this? But that's right. St. Paul directly contradicts that, saying that salvation is all on faith. Note: an obvious conflict between Jewish Christianity and Gentile Christianity.
I disagree that there is such a conflict. James still emphasizes faith as the source of the works ("faith was completed by the works"), thus the ROOT of justification - even according to James - is still faith.

It seems that the gist of this passage is still justification by faith, but the faith must be so genuine that it naturally produces good works.

In his complete commentary, 17th Century minister Matthew Henry gives the following analysis:

1. When Paul says that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law (Rom. 3:28), he plainly speaks of another sort of work than James does, but not of another sort of faith. Paul speaks of works wrought in obedience to the law of Moses, and before men’s embracing the faith of the gospel; and he had to deal with those who valued themselves so highly upon those works that they rejected the gospel (as Rom. 10, at the beginning most expressly declares); but James speaks of works done in obedience to the gospel, and as the proper and necessary effects and fruits of sound believing in Christ Jesus. Both are concerned to magnify the faith of the gospel, as that which alone could save us and justify us; but Paul magnifies it by showing the insufficiency of any works of the law before faith, or in opposition to the doctrine of justification by Jesus Christ; James magnifies the same faith, by showing what are the genuine and necessary products and operations of it.

2. Paul not only speaks of different works from those insisted on by James, but he speaks of a quite different use that was made of good works from what is here urged and intended. Paul had to do with those who depended on the merit of their works in the sight of God, and thus he might well make them of no manner of account. James had to do with those who cried up faith, but would not allow works to be used even as evidence; they depended upon a bare profession, as sufficient to justify them; and with these he might well urge the necessity and vast importance of good works. As we must not break one table of the law, by dashing it against the other, so neither must we break in pieces the law and the gospel, by making them clash with one another: those who cry up the gospel so as to set aside the law, and those who cry up the law so as to set aside the gospel, are both in the wrong; for we must take our work before us; there must be both faith in Jesus Christ and good works the fruit of faith.

3. The justification of which Paul speaks is different from that spoken of by James; the one speaks of our persons being justified before God, the other speaks of our faith being justified before men: "Show me thy faith by thy works,’’ says James, "let thy faith be justified in the eyes of those that behold thee by thy works;’’ but Paul speaks of justification in the sight of God, who justifies those only that believe in Jesus, and purely on account of the redemption that is in him. Thus we see that our persons are justified before God by faith, but our faith is justified before men by works. This is so plainly the scope and design of the apostle James that he is but confirming what Paul, in other places, says of his faith, that it is a laborious faith, and a faith working by love, Gal. 5:6; 1 Th. 1:3; Titus 3:8; and many other places.

4. Paul may be understood as speaking of that justification which is inchoate, James of that which is complete; it is by faith only that we are put into a justified state, but then good works come in for the completing of our justification at the last great day; then, Come you children of my Father—for I was hungry, and you gave me meat, etc.


James "certainly proves that the Protestant belief is wrong"? Hardly.

Quote:
The beliefs of St. Paul and his Church of Antioch won out; by the time Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in A.D. 313 and made it the state religion of the Roman Empire, the Jewish Christian Church of Jerusalem was long extinct. In formulating the New Testament canon and in debate of the Old Testament, the Jewish Christian texts were kept out of reference and completeness. The same holds true for the Old Testament--kept solely for reference, as the New Testament was written with Old Testament references. In no way or capacity did the creators of the New Testament canon ever wish for these texts to be taken so seriously. To them, the Church was the possessor of truth, passed on in inheritance from the theological beliefs of the Church of Antioch. The Gnostics, who were the first Biblical fundamentalists, were destroyed as heretics, done at the hands of the same church that created the New Testament canon. Yes, these historical facts may trouble you, but it is not my job to romanticize history. It is our task to learn from it. Protestantism, while admirable for challenging the autocratic imperialism of the medieval / Renaissance Catholic Church, was heavily guilty of romanticism, giving unwarranted deification to the Bible, some going as far as to ignore the fact that the New Testament was formed in a canon by men and stating that the Bible was written directly by God.
You began your post by saying that this wasn't about Mosaic Law, yet here we are again. Let's say, for the sake of argument, the church DID mean to keep the Old Testament (and epistles from the Jerusalem church, and Matthew, etc.) as reference material.

As I showed earlier, Jesus Christ certainly thought MUCH higher of the Mosaic law, quoting it or directly referencing it over two dozen times across three gospels - and refering to it as if it actually IS the Law.

I tend to side with Christ on this, so I must draw the following conclusions about the Church's decision: they were wrong to marginalize those books, but right to keep them as canon. The Holy Spirit likely moved them to keep those books within Scripture, just as the Spirit moved Reformers to treat the entire book with more respect.

To say that Protestants and Gnostics both defied the Catholic Church is obvious - but you can't then conclude that both groups are wrong to oppose it, or wrong for the same reasons. WHY? BECAUSE THE GROUPS BELIEVE DIFFERENT THINGS. Gnostics think matter is evil, most Protestants do not.

And to say that Protestantism has been occasionally wrong in overemphasizing the influence of God on the Bible (by actually writing the texts Himself, or keeping some certain translation free from error) doesn't mean we're wrong now. Many of us simply believe that God influenced the human writers of these books. God Himself BECAME a human, so why is divine inspiration so hard to swallow when you presumably accept THE INCARNATION?

Quote:
So, no, this isn't willful blindness. I cannot help it if we come from different ends of the Christian spectrum.

-- "The fallen nature of man" is different than the actual theological concept of "original sin"--that is what I was talking about. I implore that you study the differences.

-- "The cult of marriage," if you would have comprehended what I wrote, was in reference to the Catholic Church making marriage a sacrament in A.D. 1100-1200, which is different to earlier concepts of marriage. That does *not* mean that marriage did not exist before then. I implore you to reread what I wrote.
I think I understand what you're saying, but even if these ideas did first appear in the Middle Ages, they were based on MUCH older Scripture: I think that needed to be said.

Ultimately, I WOULD like a response about the fact that Jesus Christ apparently puts so much faith in the Mosaic Law, compared to your assertion that the Mosaic Law was never "condoned by God Himself."

(Again, Christ's commands to love God and your neighbor WERE quotes and paraphrases of the books of Moses.)

It was the single biggest complaint/question I had, and it is the most glaring case - I believe - of willfully misrepresenting Scripture.

Bubba
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Old 08-21-2002, 07:26 AM   #2
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When asked about picking and choosing and twisting...

Quote:
I don't see us suddenly taking upon ourselves to put St. Paul's anti-women writings in legislation.

Melon
For all the debate in these two threads, I think that this, above all else, is a jolly good point.
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Old 08-21-2002, 01:47 PM   #3
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I'm more than willing to discuss the "anti-women" verses in the Pauline Epistles - on the understanding that I still hope melon elaborates on his claim that God never condoned the Mosaic Law.

The question is, should we as Christians follow Paul's anti-women teachings?

My answer is, no such teachings exist. This is a case of misunderstanding Paul's teachings - just as one can misunderstand Acts 15:19-20 and Galatians 3:10-14 to somehow overturn Mosaic Law.

(If someone can confuse "fulfilling and explaining the Law" with "condemning it," I have little hope that the same person will see how the "anti-women" verses are misunderstood. But I will give it a shot.)

No one, unfortunately, mentioned any specific verses in which Paul bashes women, so I'll mention a few contenders myself. If I missed a few, feel free to bring them up.


1 Corinthians 11:3-9

(3) But I want you to understand that Christ is supreme over every man, the husband is supreme over his wife, and God is supreme over Christ. (4) So a man who prays or proclaims God's message in public worship with his head covered disgraces Christ. (5) And any woman who prays or proclaims God's message in public worship with nothing on her head disgraces her husband; there is no difference between her and a woman whose head has been shaved. (6) If the woman does not cover her head, she might as well cut her hair. And since it is a shameful thing for a woman to shave her head or cut her hair, she should cover her head. (7) A man has no need to cover his head, because he reflects the image and glory of God. But woman reflects the glory of man; (8) for man was not created from woman, but woman from man. (9) Nor was man created for woman's sake, but woman was created for man's sake.

1 Corinthians 14:34-35

(34) Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. (35) And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

Ephesians 5:22-24

(22) Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. (23) For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. (24) Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

1 Timothy 2:11-15

(11) Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. (12) But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. (13) For Adam was first formed, then Eve. (14) And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. (15) Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

2 Timothy 3:6-7

(6) For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, (7) Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.


These passages can be divided into three subjects: the moral weakness of women, the position of women within the church, the position of women within the family.


First, on the moral weakness of women, as seen in 2 Timothy 3:6-7. Paul says that men are also succeptible to temptation, in the verses directly preceding the passage:

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. - 2 Timothy 3:1-5

It is, I believe, a common mistake of those looking for women-bashing in the Bible to ignore the context, context that says things equally harsh about men.


Now, to the position of women in the church (1 Corinthians 14:34-35, 1 Timothy 2:11-15). I believe that 1 Corinthians 14 does NOT proscribe a general rule, that women are not to speak up in church. I believe it's teaching that women should not speak up in church WHEN IT IS A SIGN OF REBELLION against the family structure Paul teaches elsewhere:

"It may be that even this prohibition was due to the circumstances that existed in Ephesus, where Timothy was, and in Corinth, and would not apply everywhere. If so, it applies wherever similar circumstances exist, but not elsewhere. Both were Greek churches. Among the Greeks public women were disreputable. For a woman to speak in public would cause the remark that she was shameless. Virtuous women were secluded. Hence it would be a shame for women to speak in the church assembly. It is noteworthy that there is no hint of such a prohibition to any churches except Grecian. Wherever it would be shameful, women ought not to speak." (People's New Testament commentary)

Now, I believe 1 Timothy 2 teaches that women are to be silent, not subject to MEN, but to GOD, since Paul also teaches here that "I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting (2:8)." Both men and women are to be subject to the authority of God.

Further, it does seem to teach a church structure in which only men are "to teach" in church, but that's likely just a restriction on the pastor who leads the large assembly, not teachers within Sunday School and small group Bible studies. And such a structure is not anti-women; it just suggests that while men and women are equal in the eyes of God, our roles in the church are probably different.

Many parts, one body (1 Corinthians 12:12-26).

Ultimately, the modern church should probably ignore the LETTER of Paul's teachings about women speaking in church, etc., and obey its SPIRIT - as the church's conscience is convicted and guided by the Holy Spirit.

While we are here, I know many will point out the reference to Eve sinning first, but Paul ALSO lifts up women and their role in childbirth - likely alluding to reproduction in general AND the redemption of man through Jesus Christ, born of the woman Mary.

(Also worth noting is Paul referencing and putting at least some faith in the validity of the Mosaic Law, as Jesus often did.)


Finally, the most difficult subject: the position of the woman within the family - that is, the position of the wife within a marriage, as taught in 1 Corinthians 11 and Ephesians 5. (The role as a daughter and as a mother, treated elsewhere, is usually not quite so difficult.)

I believe the Bible teaches the following: there is a structure of authority within the family: God is the head of the family, the husband is subject to Him, the wife is subject to the husband.

This is TERRIBLY controversial, but it's not anti-women. If it IS "anti-women" to suggest the wife is subject to another authority, it is equally "anti-men" to suggest the husband is subject to the authority of Christ. That's silly.

Controversial as it is, I think what Paul teaches makes sense. In an ideal world, the husband and wife will always be of one mind - and it won't matter who has final say. But what about when the two disagree? Majority rule doesn't work, since every vote will end in a 1-1 tie. Thus, ONE must have final vote. It makes sense that the family have a structure where one is subject to the other.

It begs the question, why the man? I HONESTLY DON'T HAVE AN ANSWER TO THAT. C.S. Lewis seems to think it's because the man may be more capable of considering the needs of other families while the woman is more concerned about her family alone; he asks, if you accidentally ran over their dog, would you rather tell the husband or the wife? (He seems to think most would choose the husband.)

At any rate, I believe that male and female are made differently, not only physically, but mentally. For whatever reason, I believe God made us that way so that each member in a family would be best equipped for their roles.

FURTHER, the wife is not absolutely subject to the husband. She is subject to him insofar as HE is subject to the Lord:

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. - Ephesians 5:25.

This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. - Ephesians 5:32-33 (emphasis mine).

If the husband truly loves his wife as much as the Bible teaches - puts HER needs above his - and if the wife submits to her husband as the Bible teaches, then the family will be in good shape. But both sides of the coin must apply equally.

This is, I believe, just a specific example of what the Bible does: its teachings, properly understood and fully applied, not only redeems the individual (its primary concern) but also guides the individual, the family, the church, and the society in how to operate smoothly.

(Note also that Paul is actually praising women here, comparing them to Christ's church. Saying that woman was created for man doesn't trivialize her, but emphasizes her importance.)

(Note also that Paul AGAIN references the creation of man and woman as given in the books of Moses.)


The bottom line is this: man and woman are equal under God, but our Biblical roles are different.

We're one, but we're not the same.


I welcome your responses (and other verses I may have missed), but - again - I want to ultimately return to the subject of Christ condoning the Mosaic Law.

Bubba
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Old 08-21-2002, 05:12 PM   #4
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It appears that, since my name is used directly, I really have no choice but to respond to this thread. Unfortunately, I am going to have to make a stand, whereas I must admit that my life is terribly hectic. I am in the process of moving to Boston, needless to say. I will respond to this thread, but I cannot respond to this thread with the frequency as I have with other threads. So, if it appears that I am ignoring someone at a later date in regards to this thread or other threads, this is the reason.

In seeing this thread, I have no problem with it *at this point.* My fear, though, is that the history of Bubba and I shall repeat itself. This surely isn't the first time we've tried to be civil to each other. Again, I guess I have no choice but to try and give this another sporting chance...which I earnestly wish to do. My biggest fear, of course, is that this will degenerate into personal attacks, which infuriates the intellectual side of me. This is why I will continue to respond to this thread on two conditions:

1) It stands *firmly* in the issues. I will flat out stop responding and continue the old consent decree of mutual silence the minute this turns personal.

2) It *never* returns to the gay issue like the other thread. I will request this thread's closure at that point.

So far, so good with this thread...and let's keep it that way.

...

Quote:
I've seen "sect" defined in several places as a Christian cult, where a "cult" is strictly non-Christian. It certainly doesn't appear that you meant it in this way, but I thought I should bring this up.
I was not familiar with this semantical distinction. And, as expected, I certainly didn't mean it to refer to a "Christian cult." I assure you, if I really wish to refer to a cult, Christian or non-Christian, I will use the word "cult."

Quote:
I will let the official site for the Southern Baptist Convention speak for me, but look how loosely associated Southern Baptist churches actually are
With all due respect, I find these descriptions somewhat chilling. These descriptions are reminiscent of the traditional Southern Baptist philosophy, which I actually respect. In fact, for matter of comparison, it was the traditional Baptist philosophy which propagated the separation of church and state. What shifted was, starting around 1968 and continuing into the 1970s, the fundamentalist wing of the SBC decided to dominate and take over the entire convention, virtually ousting liberal and moderate Southern Baptists. The convention, itself, is hypocritical to the traditional Baptist idea of decentralized authority; and, in contrast, has become little more than a conservative Republican PAC, which seems to wish to speak for all of its "independent" churches.

Of course, I am willing to separate you from the institution, and if you truly believe in these ideals, then that's good.

Quote:
(Surely, not every Protestant translation is as horrible as you think it is.)
Well, I would say the same thing for Catholic Bibles had they not been open to objective scholarship in the last three to four decades. In fact, the Catholic Church also seems to be the only Christian sect who is currently actively correcting its Bible to reflect the Dead Sea Scrolls, which showed that the previous OT translations, mostly stemming from the circa A.D. 1050 Masoretic Bible, were not only not faithfully translated, but many additions and biases were thrown in it when stacked against the Dead Sea Scrolls. So much for "divine inspiration."

My issues with Protestant translations stems from the KJV itself, which was a terrible translation. Of course, I cannot blame the people of the early 1600s, because they didn't have the resources that we have today. In fact, the Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible of the same era is equally riddled with mistranslations. But, as I have read more modern translations of Protestant Bibles, such as the NIV, I find that, not only have they not corrected the KJV mistranslations, they have made them worse. It claims "99.9% accuracy," but all I see are traditional interpretations expounded and cemented. My main issue with Protestant Bibles is that I see a sheer lack of objective scholarship, mostly to suit their ideological agendas.

Quote:
What I wonder is, do you believe such inspiration impossible, or that the Mosaic books and the Gospels (regardless of the authors) did not benefit from such guidance?

If you believe it impossible, that God could not have interfered with man on that level, how then could you believe in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ - something you MUST believe in as a Christian?

If you believe it simply didn't happen in (for example) the case of the Gospels, how do you even know Jesus Christ taught to love God and your neighbor?

Either way, ruling out divine inspiration of the Bible seems to be a very hard thing for a Christian to honestly believe.
Indeed, we spend so much time squabbling over the most offensive parts of the Bible that I rarely have a chance to explain my nature on the Bible as a whole.

The official Catholic doctrine, which I believe in, states that, while there is divine inspiration, it is a book written by humans, and, as such, is not infallible. In other words, there is truth on the nature of God, but that not all passages reflect this nature. Some passages, indeed, are more reflective of human fears and human hatred than God's actual nature.

My trouble with the Bible is that it corresponds perfectly to popular philosophy of the time. The early Old Testament is vindictive, corresponding to ancient beliefs that gods are angry individuals who will, without full compliance to every last law, kill you. The later Old Testament reflects post-exilic infusion of Persian Zoroastrian beliefs, which makes sense, considering that, at this time, they were part of the Persian Empire. It is just too much of a coincidence that, suddenly, we would believe in a loving God, Satan (in Zorastrianism, it is "Ahriman" or "Shaitan"), angels, and a distinct heaven and hell, all of which originated from the non-Christian religion, Zoroastrianism, which still exists today. The New Testament, in addition, reflects popular Greek philosophy. If God is somehow timeless and supposedly created the Bible, then why does it reflect humanity perfectly?

So, the question is posed, do I believe that God interferes with man? Of course. I believe in God, and I believe that Jesus is the Son of God. I also believe that the true nature of God is a mystery, but His love is not a secret. However, when it comes down to semantical distinctions, like if God really did command the murder of 100,000 people for looking at Him wrong in the OT, I don't think this is God. This, of course, is the stuff I question. I do believe that the true God out there loves us so much that He works through imperfect religion to reveal Himself.

For example, I know you don't believe in apparitions necessarily (even though, assuming it is the end times, the book of Revelations states that people will have visions), but I have informally studied the nature of these phenomena. Mary has appeared all around the world, but, in each time, she appears to these people looking exactly as their culture depicts her, which all paint her as having different skin colors and different garments. In all actuality, I doubt that Mary ever looked like any of these artistic depictions, but she appears in a recognizable form. Now if God were interested in concrete facts, Mary should appear exactly as she really looked when she lived on Earth.

Certainly, I don't exactly have the most conventional beliefs, but I strive every day to learn more of the nature of God. So far--and I can't explain why--I feel as if I'm getting closer every day.

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It's like saying that the Gospels must have been written after the destruction of the Temple, since they predicited the event - or that the Gospels were twisted to demonstrate how Jesus fit the prophecies of Isaiah. If the omnipotent, omniscient God Almighty REALLY, ACTUALLY, HISTORICALLY became the human being named Jesus, then one CANNOT insist that the books about Him obey the normal rules of causality.
Well, I hate to break it to you, but the Gospels *were* written after the destruction of the Temple. That is, of course, not to say that there weren't earlier gospel texts that these four we have derived from. In fact, it is believed that there is a lost text, simply referred to as "Q," that was a book of written quotes of Jesus. The fact of the matter remains that the texts that we currently have cannot be taken word for word as "truth." Indeed, there are some universal truths in all of them that are undeniable, such as Jesus being the Son of God and His love for us; but, again, I am fighting the semantical distinctions, especially when dealing with the nature of Mosaic Law, which was a major conflict back then (and seemingly is now).

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I will answer that question with a question: do you like people to lie to you, steal from you, and attempt to kill you? I certainly don't.

What Christ taught does not contradict Mosaic law: THAT would require one to teach "Thou shalt not kill" and the other to teach "Never mind, kill with abandon." Rather, Jesus Christ taught the core principles He used in composing the Mosaic Law. The author of the Old Testament has come to earth to explain what He meant.
You, and many others, completely miss my point. Is my concept of love really that much of an overly intellectual concept? Of course, that is often a criticism of Catholicism, but I digress...

What Christ taught does not contradict *some* of the Mosaic Law. When I say, "Love God and love one another," what does that mean to you? To me, this simple statement not only covers all parts of the Mosaic Law that Jesus meant for us to follow, but it added an extra burden to love our enemies, which the Mosaic Law had advocated the opposite. Now, tell me, what does "Never mind, kill with abandon" or stealing/lying to someone do to Jesus' law, "Love God and love one another"? It completely shatters it, as killing/robbing/lying to your neighbors is not loving them. The Mosaic Law allowed for divorce, but Jesus pronounced against it. Do you really know why? "Divorce" is an offense against love. But let's look at the shellfish, pork, and multi-fibered clothing "abominations" in Leviticus. Ask yourself, "What does eating shellfish and pork, while wearing a cotton/polyester blend shirt do to my love of God and my neighbor?" Flat out nothing. My diet and choice in wardrobe does not affect my love of God, and that's why they were summarily discarded. I don't need hundreds of pages of laws and commandments when I have one that I can easily memorize and apply to every action I make.

Is this really a difficult concept to understand?

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I disagree that there is such a conflict. James still emphasizes faith as the source of the works ("faith was completed by the works"), thus the ROOT of justification - even according to James - is still faith.
James 2:24 - "See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone."

Now this is willful blindness.

I did read the commentary by the 17th century minister, but it is circular reasoning using cross-quoting. This would be like making a critique of a novel written by Bill Clinton, while using a novel written by Newt Gingrich to justify it--that's not how it works. There are certainly a lot of quotes described where St. Paul describes faith only for justification, and of course he's going to find a lot of those quotes, because that was what St. Paul believed. However, as the Bible was not written whole, you must take these books separately, as the epistle of James was not written for the expressed purpose of being in a compilation of texts we call the Bible.

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To say that Protestants and Gnostics both defied the Catholic Church is obvious - but you can't then conclude that both groups are wrong to oppose it, or wrong for the same reasons. WHY? BECAUSE THE GROUPS BELIEVE DIFFERENT THINGS. Gnostics think matter is evil, most Protestants do not.
Perhaps. My point was that the same Church fathers who assembled the canon were the same ones who ordered the destruction of the fundamentalist Gnostics. Most admirably about the Catholic Church has been its document collection, and they have kept most of the documents surrounding even the discussion in the formation of the New Testament. To say that this was a simple endeavour done noblely is an oversimplification. There was a lot of squabbling, and, more notably, one of the fathers, Origen, wished for the omission of the book of Hebrews, stating that "only God knows who wrote it." The canon was closed hastily, with many people flat out dissatisfied. Do I believe that it is within God's power to assemble a book divinely? Sure, just as much as it is in God's power to make the sky rain with jellybeans or to make pigs fly or to have prevented the Holocaust...but there are certain powers that God doesn't exercise for unknown reasons.

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I think I understand what you're saying, but even if these ideas did first appear in the Middle Ages, they were based on MUCH older Scripture: I think that needed to be said.
Of course, but there is such a thing as taking scripture too far what it was originally intended to mean. Stating the "fallen nature of man" admits our inherent imperfection. "Original sin" states that we are evil from birth. Similar, but much different.

Someone did mockingly criticize me for "picking and choosing" in the Bible, which amused me for one reason: we all do it. The Bible is well over 1000 pages, and in every point of history, some people have grasped onto different passages for their own selfish purposes. Examples:

--Medieval Christianity was obsessed with passages like the "fallen nature of man." They used the Bible to create theology that effectively stated that man was evil and that all of our emotions and desires, from happiness to sadness to sexual attraction, were all evidence of our defective nature. An ideal Christian was male, celibate, unemotional, and consumed in work--the "stoic."

--To support American slavery, slaveowners quoted from the Mosaic Law, which prescribed how to keep slaves. They believed it to still be applicable, because it didn't involve dietary restrictions, etc. They also quoted from St. Paul's epistles, taken way out of context. Most interestingly, while believing their slaves to be subhuman, they made sure to make them all Christian.

--To support keeping women as second class citizens, people quoted from St. Paul's epistles, which clearly commanded keeping women subordinate to their husbands and to keep them from ever instructing over a man.

Quite bluntly, the Bible is so full of every human emotion, you can flat out justify it to support anything: war, genocide (i.e, Joshua's use of "the Ban," as "commanded by God," to conquer Canaan), intolerance, servitude, supremacism, etc. The question comes, if we are supposedly not to "pick and choose," where do we draw the line? "Love God and love one another." "Love is the fulfillment of the law." LOVE. Such a simple concept that seems to have been forgotten in the pursuit of self-righteousness and legalism in the club of Christianity, and I find it flat out abhorrent that it requires me to write pages and pages of these long posts to accent such a simple message. LOVE! I don't have to concern myself about justification on faith and/or good works, whether the Mosaic Law is applicable or not, or whether "love summed up the law" is more important than "love is the fulfillment of the law," because true love of God and one another encompasses all. It's so simple, and yet, everyone makes it so difficult!

I await my post to be picked apart with semantical arguments.

Melon
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Old 08-21-2002, 08:53 PM   #5
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All that for one little reply?
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Old 08-21-2002, 09:56 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon


You, and many others, completely miss my point. Is my concept of love really that much of an overly intellectual concept? Of course, that is often a criticism of Catholicism, but I digress...

What Christ taught does not contradict *some* of the Mosaic Law. When I say, "Love God and love one another," what does that mean to you? To me, this simple statement not only covers all parts of the Mosaic Law that Jesus meant for us to follow, but it added an extra burden to love our enemies, which the Mosaic Law had advocated the opposite. Now, tell me, what does "Never mind, kill with abandon" or stealing/lying to someone do to Jesus' law, "Love God and love one another"? It completely shatters it, as killing/robbing/lying to your neighbors is not loving them. The Mosaic Law allowed for divorce, but Jesus pronounced against it. Do you really know why? "Divorce" is an offense against love. But let's look at the shellfish, pork, and multi-fibered clothing "abominations" in Leviticus. Ask yourself, "What does eating shellfish and pork, while wearing a cotton/polyester blend shirt do to my love of God and my neighbor?" Flat out nothing. My diet and choice in wardrobe does not affect my love of God, and that's why they were summarily discarded. I don't need hundreds of pages of laws and commandments when I have one that I can easily memorize and apply to every action I make.

Is this really a difficult concept to understand?

Um, yes. "Love God and love thy neighbor" is hard for us to understand.

We're humans. We're ignorant and rebellious.

Children don't know the difference between right and wrong and have to be taught.

Jesus commanded us (not just clergy) to preach the Gospel to everyone. Especially in these times, this isn't an obvious corollary of "Love God and love thy neighbor."

Any extra guidance or detailed instruction we can get helps.

Of course rules and commandments can be used for evil ends, if people use them to enslave others and feed their power fixes. But the rules and commandments God has given us are a good thing, and we should follow them. And I do believe that at least portions of the OT law fall within this category. (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17)

I don't think that God will punish us for violating his commands out of ignorance; ignorance will punish itself. But we should still strive to understand God's commandments as well as we can, and obey them.

Following God's rules and commandments won't save us, because it's part of a contract that we don't live up to; only Jesus can save us. But following God's commandments is still right and good.
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Old 08-22-2002, 03:06 AM   #7
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Melon,

You act like semantical arguments are a bad thing! That surprises me: semantics is the study of language, and since our arguments are nothing more than the written word, semantical arguments seem to be the most reasonable way to go. (Would you prefer name-calling?) Furthermore, many of your arguments have been semantical - particularly your mention of the word "porneia."

Anyway, thanks for replying, and thanks for letting me know that your replies may be intermittent. (Good luck on the move to Boston; I'm sure you'll enjoy it there.)

I too want this to be civil: I have no intention of making this personal, nor do I intend to argue what the Bible says about homosexuality.

(I WILL, however, mention our opposing stands on the issue later in this post. I think my points are better served by doing so, but - again - I have no intention arguing who's right.)

Now, as we return to the central discussion, I believe you when you say you meant no disrespect with the use of the word "sect." I thought so from the begining, as its use throughout your post made clear what you meant by it. I was just bringing the alternate meaning to your attention as a kind of FYI.

Quote:
Originally posted by melon
With all due respect, I find these descriptions somewhat chilling. These descriptions are reminiscent of the traditional Southern Baptist philosophy, which I actually respect. In fact, for matter of comparison, it was the traditional Baptist philosophy which propagated the separation of church and state. What shifted was, starting around 1968 and continuing into the 1970s, the fundamentalist wing of the SBC decided to dominate and take over the entire convention, virtually ousting liberal and moderate Southern Baptists. The convention, itself, is hypocritical to the traditional Baptist idea of decentralized authority; and, in contrast, has become little more than a conservative Republican PAC, which seems to wish to speak for all of its "independent" churches.
I'm not exactly sure what's so "chilling" about those descriptions, nor I am aware that any "fundamentalist" wing kicked liberal and moderate Southern Baptist churches (or how that was achieved in such a decentralized denomination): as far as I know, the convention has always leaned towards conservative Christianity. I'm sure you doubt me, so I refer you to a comparison of the Baptist Faith and Message from 1928, 1963, and 2000 and the words of early SBC leaders. Little has changed over the decades, including an emphasis on the infallibility of the Bible - a CLEARLY conservative idea.

(On a personal level, it irks me to find you telling me about the history of Southern Baptists. It's one thing for you to tell me about Catholicism, quite another for you to tell me about my denomination.)

Finally, I don't see what's hypocritical about the existence of the convention. Again, it has very little real power over the individual churches. Certainly, its proclamations (such as an urging to boycott Disney) have been controversial and, to a degree, embarassing, but the convention does not become hypocritical so long as it does not try to coerce churches to agree.

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Well, I would say the same thing for Catholic Bibles had they not been open to objective scholarship in the last three to four decades. In fact, the Catholic Church also seems to be the only Christian sect who is currently actively correcting its Bible to reflect the Dead Sea Scrolls, which showed that the previous OT translations, mostly stemming from the circa A.D. 1050 Masoretic Bible, were not only not faithfully translated, but many additions and biases were thrown in it when stacked against the Dead Sea Scrolls. So much for "divine inspiration."
I think you fall far short of disproving "divine inspiration" - that you're too quick to claim victory, at least on this topic.

At a minimum, divine inspiration means that the authors of the ORIGINAL documents were guided by the hand of God. It may allow for the copies of those documents to be altered through mistakes and intentional rewrites - though one hopes that God would intervene and keep that to a minimum.

To emphasize this point, and to address the Dead Sea Scrolls, I refer to Herschel Hobbs' commentary on the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message (not available online).

(To give you an idea about Hobbs' beliefs, he emphasizes that the Bible is the truth, "without any mixture of error.")

("Truth without error"), of course, refers to the original manuscripts of its component parts. In St. Louis in 1980 someone objected that he had never seen the original manuscripts. Another replied, "I have never seen Jesus Christ, but I believe in Him." I thought it was a good answer. Serious students of the Scriptures know that, through the years, copyists' errors were made. The Holy Spirit does not guard copyists from such any more than He does typesetters. It should be noted, however, that none of these errors affect the spiritual contents of the Scriptures.

But with the discovery of thousands of manuscripts of the New Testament, most of these errors have been traced to their source and eliminated. Students of the classics are fortunate to have as many as ten or fifteen manuscripts of any given work. Think how fortunate are those who make a critical study of the Scriptures! In textual criticism it is an axiom that an older manuscript is more accurate than a newer one. Some New Testament manuscripts date as far back as the fourth century. It can be safely said that in a comparative study of these documents, scholars probably have been able to determine the exact text of the originals.

In the caves near the Dead Sea have been found the most ancient copies of the Old Testament possessed by modern man. Prior to that discovery, the oldest and most complete Hebrew copies of the Old Testament dated as late as the ninth century. Now portions of the Hebrew text are in hand dating in the first or second centuries B.C. By 1956, about 90 manuscripts of Old Testament books had been identified. These included 13 copies of Deuteronomy, twelve of Isaiah, ten of Psalms, seven of part or all of the twelve prophets, and five of books of the Pentateuch (five books of Moses). Every book of the Hebrew Old Testament is represented except Esther. These Hebrew texts are closely akin to the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament).

This within itself has served to substantiate the accuracy of the Septuagint, the version used by most of the New Testament writers. And it has solved a problem in Scripture harmony. Stephen quotes from the Old Testament that seventy-five people went with Jacob into Egypt (Acts 7:14). The Hebrew text which has been followed by English translations states that seventy people went with him (Ex. 1:5). But the Hebrew manuscripts found at Qumran, dating about two centuries before Christ, read seventy-five, the same as the Septuagint used by Stephen. So Stephen (and Luke in Acts) was correct.

The story could be almost endless. One of the most thrilling stories in modern Bible study has been the effects of archaeology in authenticating the Scriptures. There are still problems to be solved. But where seeming discrepancies exist one may rest in faith that they rest upon man's incomplete knowledge, not upon errors in the original manuscripts of the Bible.


So, Protestants know full well that the Dead Sea Scrolls add to our knowledge of God's word.

You say that "the Catholic Church also seems to be the only Christian sect who is currently actively correcting its Bible to reflect the Dead Sea Scrolls." My reply is, so what? The Catholic Church is one of the few denominations that acutally HAS its own Bible to correct. The idea of soul competency, "the accountability of each person before God," extends to the Bible: within many Protestant denominations, the individual chooses which translation to read. That fact means that it will take a bit longer for the Dead Sea Scrolls to affect the translations used by Protestants. Patience is still a virtue.

Quote:
My issues with Protestant translations stems from the KJV itself, which was a terrible translation. Of course, I cannot blame the people of the early 1600s, because they didn't have the resources that we have today. In fact, the Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible of the same era is equally riddled with mistranslations. But, as I have read more modern translations of Protestant Bibles, such as the NIV, I find that, not only have they not corrected the KJV mistranslations, they have made them worse. It claims "99.9% accuracy," but all I see are traditional interpretations expounded and cemented. My main issue with Protestant Bibles is that I see a sheer lack of objective scholarship, mostly to suit their ideological agendas.
I stand by my assertion that Protestant translations aren't as bad as you seem to believe. After all, I've used a variety of Protestant translations in the Biblical discussions on this forum, and you rarely have a problem with those passages ("porneia" passages aside). You occasionally question the KJV verses; it is admittedly not the best translation (though its language is beautifully crafted, and its phrases are a part of our common heritage). Even so, the footnotes within my own copy of the KJV address most of those objections.

Beyond that, we use many of the same manuscripts as the Roman Catholic Church. Our pastors and ministers are required by our seminaries to learn Greek and Hebrew and study these manuscripts. If the translations butchered the manuscripts, it would not go unnoticed - unless, of course, you want to suggest some vast conspiracy of your fellow Christians - tens of thousands who believe they have been called by the Holy Spirit to teach the truth about God.

Ultimately, you seem to think that the translators of Protestant Bibles - because of their "idealogical agendas" - are throwing scholarship and their principles out the window to form what they think the Bible SHOULD say.

Think that all you want, but I don't see the use in constantly bringing it up. Rather, like you did with the verses using "porneia," I suggest limiting yourself to just debating translations as the debates occur.

After all, you say, "I see a sheer lack of objective scholarship, mostly to suit their ideological agendas." The SAME could be said about you and your interpretation of the Bible, an interpretation that conveniently condones homosexuality.

(Again, I'm not debating which interpretation is right.)

I'm sure you wouldn't appreciate anyone saying that you're tailoring the Bible to fit your agenda; please quit accusing those who disagree with you of the same thing.

Quote:
Indeed, we spend so much time squabbling over the most offensive parts of the Bible that I rarely have a chance to explain my nature on the Bible as a whole.

The official Catholic doctrine, which I believe in, states that, while there is divine inspiration, it is a book written by humans, and, as such, is not infallible. In other words, there is truth on the nature of God, but that not all passages reflect this nature. Some passages, indeed, are more reflective of human fears and human hatred than God's actual nature.
Thanks for the clarification. I try to not separate your paragraphs TOO much, but I believe I must do so at this point.

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My trouble with the Bible is that it corresponds perfectly to popular philosophy of the time. The early Old Testament is vindictive, corresponding to ancient beliefs that gods are angry individuals who will, without full compliance to every last law, kill you.
Actually, it doesn't PERFECTLY correspond to human history. It does correspond to a degree (there's a reason, I believe, and I'll give that reason momentarily), but there are notable exceptions and occasions where the Bible precedes the surrounding culture.

Before I get to the early Old Testament - the time of Moses, the judges, and the first kings - I must mention, that you earlier seem to suggest that the EARLY Old Testament was also written after the exile:

Quite honestly, these books were written to reassert authority over a Jewish population that has never known Jewish authority. The bombastic language of Leviticus is evident. There are constant assertions that "I am the LORD your God" and whatnot in these texts. There is even hard evidence of historical revisionism. In terms of Jewish slavery in Egypt, as depicted in Exodus, there is flat out no physical evidence to even back this story up, even with all the very ancient artifacts dug out of ancient Egypt, which is older than the Bible by many thousand years. Considering the post-exilic audience that felt enslaved, this story of "conquer in the face of adversity" would likely have been very popular.

Now, you seem to suggest it was written around the time of the Exodus, when "gods are angry individuals who will, without full compliance to every last law, kill you."

I'm going to assert, as I have always believed, that the books of Moses are the product of God's personal revelation to Moses, at least 1500 years before Christ.

I concede that the God of Abraham and Moses seemed as "vindictive" as the pagan gods of that time, but notice the differences.

With the Pentateuch, we have moved from arbitrary polytheism to deliberate monotheism. Jehovah is THE God, the Creator and Sovereign of everything else, rather than just another god among many; and in blessing the righteous Abraham and smiting the wicked Sodom, He shows His ways to be just rather than random.

And I wouldn't say that He was not also a God of love even then: after all, He put man in paradise and gave him a companion. He blessed Abraham and promised to give him a legacy that would bless all other nations. And He brought the nation of Israel out of Egyptian slavery, feeding them as they went.

Quote:
The later Old Testament reflects post-exilic infusion of Persian Zoroastrian beliefs, which makes sense, considering that, at this time, they were part of the Persian Empire. It is just too much of a coincidence that, suddenly, we would believe in a loving God, Satan (in Zorastrianism, it is "Ahriman" or "Shaitan"), angels, and a distinct heaven and hell, all of which originated from the non-Christian religion, Zoroastrianism, which still exists today.
As I just demonstrated, a loving God can be found in the early Old Testament, too. Satan can be found in Genesis (as the serpent) and in Job, both of which I believe predate Zoroastrian beliefs. Jacob met angels (and perhaps wrestled with one) in Genesis 32. Heaven (God's dwelling place) is mentioned in Deuteronomy 26:15.

Hell isn't found in the early Old Testament, but that doesn't mean that the idea was stolen from the Zoroastrians. After all, Jesus spoke about separating the wheat from the chaff; if the Gospels are to be believed (I think they are), then Heaven and Hell do exist, and exist distinctly.

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The New Testament, in addition, reflects popular Greek philosophy. If God is somehow timeless and supposedly created the Bible, then why does it reflect humanity perfectly?
It parallels much of Greek philosophy, but it also introduces new ideas. While the Greeks essentially believed in "do no harm," Christ introduced the command to do good - a positive Golden Rule rather than a negative one.

Further, the parallelism may be due to the fact that the Greeks may have had the right idea naturally. Romans 2:14-16 teaches that God's law is natural to this universe, not foreign to it. It's very likely that the Greek philosophers simply got quite close to the truth on their own.

(And, just as God can be loving in the OT, so too can He be angry in the NT, as Christ proved by overturning the moneychangers' tables and His message in Matthew 10:34 of bringing "a sword" rather than peace.)

At any rate, you ask why would a timeless God seem so different in different books of the Bible. The conclusion you seem to draw is that He wouldn't; thus, we see the writer's fallible influence in these books. There is an alternative possibility.

The other option is this: that the ever-lasting, never-changing God chose to reveal Himself to us in different ways - not because He changed, but because WE changed.

Consider how you differently you would treat a dog, a two-year-old child, a fifteen-year-old, and someone your own age. You're still the same, but the person with whom you interacted is not.

Or, consider raising a child, and covering a hairy issue like sex, morality, particle physics, or football strategies. You would use much more simple words and ideas with a six-year-old than a sixteen-year-old. And there would be SOME concepts (contraception, the sin of lust, quantum uncertainty, and the flea-flicker) that wouldn't come up at all in talking to the six-year-old.

The same could have applied with God. Rather than give us a literal explanation about how He created the universe, He may have just given us a "fairy-tale" picture. And rather than give Moses EVERY idea about Himself, He may have chosen to reveal things slowly as we slowly became culturally mature enough to understand them.

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So, the question is posed, do I believe that God interferes with man? Of course. I believe in God, and I believe that Jesus is the Son of God. I also believe that the true nature of God is a mystery, but His love is not a secret. However, when it comes down to semantical distinctions, like if God really did command the murder of 100,000 people for looking at Him wrong in the OT, I don't think this is God. This, of course, is the stuff I question. I do believe that the true God out there loves us so much that He works through imperfect religion to reveal Himself.
I will return to the OT command to destroy other nations, but note that He's not commanding murder, but war - something that, like capital punishment, might actually be morally permissible.

Quote:
For example, I know you don't believe in apparitions necessarily (even though, assuming it is the end times, the book of Revelations states that people will have visions), but I have informally studied the nature of these phenomena. Mary has appeared all around the world, but, in each time, she appears to these people looking exactly as their culture depicts her, which all paint her as having different skin colors and different garments. In all actuality, I doubt that Mary ever looked like any of these artistic depictions, but she appears in a recognizable form. Now if God were interested in concrete facts, Mary should appear exactly as she really looked when she lived on Earth.
I do believe in apparitions, but I'm more skeptical about individual cases than I am the Bible. I see no problem with Mary appearing in a way that can be understood by the local culture: I AGREE that God is often more interested in truth rather than facts - that early Genesis and most of Revelation is probably metaphor divinely revealed to the writers.

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Well, I hate to break it to you, but the Gospels *were* written after the destruction of the Temple. That is, of course, not to say that there weren't earlier gospel texts that these four we have derived from. In fact, it is believed that there is a lost text, simply referred to as "Q," that was a book of written quotes of Jesus.
You misunderstand me: certainly, we can't date the Gospels to before the destruction of the Temple, but that doesn't prove that the destruction of the Temple came first.

What I'm saying is that you can't use the Temple's destruction as PROOF that the prophecy of its destruction came afterwards. If Jesus Christ really IS God, then He could have correctly predicted the event before it happened, and that prediction could have been remembered by the early church before the event.

Quote:
The fact of the matter remains that the texts that we currently have cannot be taken word for word as "truth." Indeed, there are some universal truths in all of them that are undeniable, such as Jesus being the Son of God and His love for us; but, again, I am fighting the semantical distinctions, especially when dealing with the nature of Mosaic Law, which was a major conflict back then (and seemingly is now).
Again, I agree that the copies of manuscripts can't be taken as verbatim truth, but I believe that they are very, VERY close. At the very least, I think they're FAR closer than you're willing to believe.

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You, and many others, completely miss my point. Is my concept of love really that much of an overly intellectual concept? Of course, that is often a criticism of Catholicism, but I digress...

What Christ taught does not contradict *some* of the Mosaic Law. When I say, "Love God and love one another," what does that mean to you? To me, this simple statement not only covers all parts of the Mosaic Law that Jesus meant for us to follow, but it added an extra burden to love our enemies, which the Mosaic Law had advocated the opposite. Now, tell me, what does "Never mind, kill with abandon" or stealing/lying to someone do to Jesus' law, "Love God and love one another"? It completely shatters it, as killing/robbing/lying to your neighbors is not loving them. The Mosaic Law allowed for divorce, but Jesus pronounced against it. Do you really know why? "Divorce" is an offense against love. But let's look at the shellfish, pork, and multi-fibered clothing "abominations" in Leviticus. Ask yourself, "What does eating shellfish and pork, while wearing a cotton/polyester blend shirt do to my love of God and my neighbor?" Flat out nothing. My diet and choice in wardrobe does not affect my love of God, and that's why they were summarily discarded. I don't need hundreds of pages of laws and commandments when I have one that I can easily memorize and apply to every action I make.

Is this really a difficult concept to understand?
I agree that the Christ's two great commandments cover every moral precept the individual Christian must follow, but that entails A LOT more than you seem willing to admit.

We both agree that the prohibitions of murder and theft are covered by "Love God and your neighbor." We both agree that dietary and clothing restrictions are not - though I agree with the New Testament that it does matter if your eating of sacrificial meat causes another Christian to stumble.

What about the issue of homosexuality? I would be willing to bet that, even if you conceded that it was prohibited in the Old Testament, you think it no longer applies. I disagree, and here's how:

We're not only to love our neighbor, but to love God - to obey His will and honor His institutions. One could believe (from the Gospels) that it is God's will for men and women to abstain from sexual relations with the one exception of heterosexual monogamous marriage - an institution He ordained.

(You could use the same argument to say that one must obey a government's laws as long as they don't create a conflict of moral interests: the Old Testament teaches that govenment is instituted by God, so honoring that institution would be showing love for Him and respect for His wishes.)

(And, back to the issue of clothing and diet, couldn't "because God says so, and I love God," be reason enough?)

Again, I'm not arguing the issue of homosexuality: I'm just pointing out that the commands of "love God and your neighbor" can cover a LOT.

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James 2:24 - "See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone."

Now this is willful blindness.

I did read the commentary by the 17th century minister, but it is circular reasoning using cross-quoting. This would be like making a critique of a novel written by Bill Clinton, while using a novel written by Newt Gingrich to justify it--that's not how it works. There are certainly a lot of quotes described where St. Paul describes faith only for justification, and of course he's going to find a lot of those quotes, because that was what St. Paul believed. However, as the Bible was not written whole, you must take these books separately, as the epistle of James was not written for the expressed purpose of being in a compilation of texts we call the Bible.
I'm not JUST cross-quoting. I AM able to defend my interpretation on James alone - as I have already done, by quoting your translation of 19-24 (emphasis mine):

You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble. Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called "the friend of God." See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.

"Faith was completed by the works." Or, the works completed the faith, or, the works RESULTED from the faith. Justification by faith alone - assuming the faith results in works - is simply a way to restate what James said.

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Perhaps. My point was that the same Church fathers who assembled the canon were the same ones who ordered the destruction of the fundamentalist Gnostics. Most admirably about the Catholic Church has been its document collection, and they have kept most of the documents surrounding even the discussion in the formation of the New Testament. To say that this was a simple endeavour done noblely is an oversimplification. There was a lot of squabbling, and, more notably, one of the fathers, Origen, wished for the omission of the book of Hebrews, stating that "only God knows who wrote it." The canon was closed hastily, with many people flat out dissatisfied. Do I believe that it is within God's power to assemble a book divinely? Sure, just as much as it is in God's power to make the sky rain with jellybeans or to make pigs fly or to have prevented the Holocaust...but there are certain powers that God doesn't exercise for unknown reasons.
Let's assume, for a moment, that the books of the Bible are divinely inspired documents concerning God in human form. It seems we both believe that, to different degrees. What I'm suggesting is that God may have intervened (in something as simple as convicting people through the Holy Spirit) to keep as canon THOSE books, rejecting all others.

What I don't understand here is why that suggestion is as ridiculous as jellybean rain, rather than as reasonable as the Incarnation - or almost a natural progression from the Incarnation.

On the subject of "picking and choosing," we DON'T all do it - at least, not in the same way. One can determine what's canon and isn't, as you seem to be doing. Or one can assume (more-or-less) complete canon and determine the meaning of that canon.

BIG difference, namely the assumption that there IS a meaning to be found in every verse, that you can't simply discard a verse you don't like.

This brings us (finally) to my main point:

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Quite bluntly, the Bible is so full of every human emotion, you can flat out justify it to support anything: war, genocide (i.e, Joshua's use of "the Ban," as "commanded by God," to conquer Canaan), intolerance, servitude, supremacism, etc. The question comes, if we are supposedly not to "pick and choose," where do we draw the line? "Love God and love one another." "Love is the fulfillment of the law." LOVE. Such a simple concept that seems to have been forgotten in the pursuit of self-righteousness and legalism in the club of Christianity, and I find it flat out abhorrent that it requires me to write pages and pages of these long posts to accent such a simple message. LOVE! I don't have to concern myself about justification on faith and/or good works, whether the Mosaic Law is applicable or not, or whether "love summed up the law" is more important than "love is the fulfillment of the law," because true love of God and one another encompasses all. It's so simple, and yet, everyone makes it so difficult!
Simple, but incomplete.

As I've previously shown, things like an objection to homosexuality may not necessarily be the result of legalism. Rather, they may be the result of attempting to love God and what people believe are His will and His institutions.

More importantly, the point of the Bible is not love, but grace - the REDEMPTION of man.

For redemption to be necessary, man must be in trouble. There must be a law (the LAW could be as simple as "Love."), the law must have been broken, and the Creator and Enforcer of the law must actually care about it being broken.

God MUST be a God not only of love, but of the law. He must be both merciful AND just.

Otherwise, if God didn't really care about the fact that we've all EGREGIOUSLY broken His law, then there's no need for Him to become a man, humble Himself absolutely, and allow Himself to be tortured and executed for the sins of mankind.

If God is ONLY a God of love, we'd have this situation: we broke God's law, God still loves us and doesn't really care about our transgressions, and we all end up in paradise.

But God is a God of love AND justice. Hence, we broke God's law, God both REALLY loves us and REALLY cares about the law, so He Himself paid the price to get us back in good standing.

God, being a just God, CAN thus command the destruction of utterly wicked nations. He CAN thus bring a sword in the Incarnation. And He CAN and WILL judge all mankind at the end of time.

Justice without mercy literally damns us all, but mercy is utterly unnecessary without justice.

Our God is a God of both.

Bubba
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