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Old 05-18-2004, 12:22 PM   #16
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I don't know if the Gnostic gospels pre-date Matthew, but some of the Dead Sea Scrolls were written around the time of Jesus, and they mention him.

There's a copy of an encyclopedia on the Scrolls in my school's library, and it, it says there was a Jewish sect that lived not too far from where Jesus was preaching, and he is mentioned in the Scrolls as someone who actually lived.
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Old 05-18-2004, 03:21 PM   #17
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I'm reading the Gnostic Gospels at the moment and the book dates some traditions to predate and others as early as the gospels of the New Testament.

Example the Gospel of Thomas was compiled in c.140 but much was written earlier.
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Old 05-21-2004, 02:23 AM   #18
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The dead sea scrolls, were mostly written by a sect of Jews who kept to themselves, felt other Jews were not living as pure as they should, and had their own super-pious colony, called the Essenes I think. They also copied a lot of the what is called the Old Testament of the Bible. Dated before Jesus was on earth.

When compared to what were thought to be the oldest copies of the Bible writings, parts of the Psalms and Isaiah, they were 99% the same. Very insignificant difference, and the difference didnt' change the meaning.

hehe thanks, you're making me remember this, I'm going to do quite well on my Bible final for university.

Pliny the younger, Tacitus, roman historians, who make mention of Jesus, or Christos.
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Old 05-21-2004, 07:21 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by deep
Jesus' teachings, however they originated, are more important than if he existed or not.

(i write this having just left a service at St. A. P. Church)
I disagree.

1 Corinthians 15:12-19:

Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

Paul addresses this passage to those who doubt the resurrection of Christ; the comments seem to be equally valid if Christ never existed.

I'm not sure what to say in response to the claims that the message of Christianity is true even without Christ...what is this message? Love God (if he exists), and love thy neighbor? Don't we already know that we're supposed to do these things? Why is there a need to invent another religion that teaches these things?
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Old 05-21-2004, 09:38 AM   #20
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Wasn't it "love your enemy" that he said?

That's pretty radical. I don't think most people "knew" that.

No one is inventing a new religion, Christianity takes on many forms.
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Old 05-21-2004, 10:46 AM   #21
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I am not sure why people are so concerned about things that is 2000 yrs old.
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Old 05-21-2004, 12:58 PM   #22
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I agree with Speedracer 110%.
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Old 05-21-2004, 02:43 PM   #23
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I think they're both right in different ways.
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Old 05-21-2004, 04:04 PM   #24
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Denying the divinity and humanity of Christ turns Christianity into just another self-help program.
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Old 05-21-2004, 04:24 PM   #25
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Originally posted by nbcrusader
Denying the divinity and humanity of Christ turns Christianity into just another self-help program.
This I don't get.

Christianity is already a self help program for many who believe whole-heartedly in the divinity of Christ.
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Old 05-21-2004, 06:05 PM   #26
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Originally posted by iacrobat


This I don't get.

Christianity is already a self help program for many who believe whole-heartedly in the divinity of Christ.
Self-help programs teach us that we can overcome our imperfections through our own power and perhaps the power of positive thinking, meditation techniques, or whatever.

Christianity teaches that we are fundamentally sinful and broken and can only be made whole through Christ.
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Old 05-21-2004, 07:29 PM   #27
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Thanks for clearing that up speedracer, because I was a little unsure.

Self-improvement is self-improvement no matter which way you slice it. Whether its "God" telling you "his plan for your life" or Tony Robbins. Either way, people feel happier and more successful, or whatever.
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Old 05-21-2004, 11:07 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally posted by iacrobat
Thanks for clearing that up speedracer, because I was a little unsure.

Self-improvement is self-improvement no matter which way you slice it. Whether its "God" telling you "his plan for your life" or Tony Robbins. Either way, people feel happier and more successful, or whatever.
So what is God's plan for your life?

I'm surely violating all manner of copyright law by posting this, but here are the last three paragraphs of C. S. Lewis's essay "Man or Rabbit?", from his book "God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics."

---

But still -- for intellectual honor has sunk very low in our age -- I hear someone whimpering on with this question, "Will it help me? Will it make me happy? Do you really think I'd be better if I became a Christian?" Well, if you must have it, my answer is "Yes." But I don't like giving an answer at all at this stage. Here is a door, behind which, according to some people, the secret of the universe is waiting for you. Either that's true, or it isn't. And if it isn't, then what the door really conceals is simply the greatest fraud, the most colossal "sell" on record. Isn't it obviously the job of every man (that is a man and not a rabbit) to try to find out which, and then to devote his full energies either to serving this tremendous secret or to exposing and destroying this giant humbug? Faced with such an issue, can you really remain wholly absorbed in your own blessed "moral development"?

All right, Christianity will do you good -- a great deal more good than you ever wanted or expected. And the first bit of good it will do you is to hammer into your head (you won't enjoy that!) the fact that what you have hitherto called "good" -- all that about "leading a decent life" and "being kind" -- isn't quite the magnificent and all-important affair you supposed. It will teach you that you can't be "good" (not for twenty-four hours) on your own moral efforts. And then it will teach you that even if you were, you still wouldn't have achieved the purpose for which you were created. Mere morality is not the end of life. You were made for something quite different. J. S. Mill and Confucius (Socrates was much nearer the reality) simply didn't know what life was about. The people who keep asking if they can't lead a decent life without Christ, don't know what life is about; if they did then they would know that "a decent life" is mere machinery compared with the thing we men are really made for. Morality is indispensable; but the Divine Life, which gives itself to us and calls us to be gods, intends for us something in which morality will be swallowed up. We are to be re-made. All the rabbit in us is to disappear -- the worried, conscientious, ethical rabbit as well as the cowardly and sensual rabbit. We shall bleed and squeal as the handfuls of fur come out; and then, surprisingly, we shall find underneath it all a thing we have never yet imagined: a real Man, an ageless god, a son of God, strong, radiant, wise, beautiful, and drenched in joy.

"When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." The idea of reaching "a good life" without Christ is based on a double error. Firstly, we cannot do it; and secondly, in setting up "a good life" as our final goal, we have missed the very point of our existence. Morality is a mountain which we cannot climb by our own efforts; and if we could we should only perish in the ice and unbreathable air of the summit, lacking those wings with which the rest of the journey has to be accomplished. For it is from there that the real ascent begins. The ropes and axes are "done away" and the rest is a matter of flying.
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Old 05-22-2004, 09:09 AM   #29
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Thats all fine and dandy, but it doesn't really relate to what I said.

The "good life" is the final goal of some Christians.

And I don't like the implication that people aren't moral without Christ.
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Old 05-22-2004, 10:53 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally posted by iacrobat
Thats all fine and dandy, but it doesn't really relate to what I said.
I think it does, because I think that you fundamentally misunderstand what Christianity is.

Quote:

The "good life" is the final goal of some Christians.

And I don't like the implication that people aren't moral without Christ.
I can reply to this last statement in one of two ways:

1. If "moral" means "morally perfect", then people aren't moral with Christ, either (at least not in this earthly life).

2. If "moral" means "capable of doing morally good things", then yes, it is true that people aren't moral without Christ. When you do any good thing, it is Christ working in your heart that enables you to do it, whether or not you recognize him.

But that last statement isn't the point that Lewis was trying to make. The point he was trying to make was that if the "good life" is your final goal, then you're basically spending your life chasing your tail, whether or not you're a Christian. Whatever your successes are, they'll always be outweighed by your failures.

You said in a previous post that Christianity is one of a number of self-help programs that help people feel happier and more successful. Fine, the teachings of Christ and the Bible have helped me become a more moral person, but still I continue to fall and stumble, and I'll continue to do so until the day I die. Time and again I come back to the fundamental truth of Christianity -- that I am a fundamentally sinful and broken being, but Jesus loves me and thought that I was worth redeeming. So much so, in fact, that he died so that I could be made whole again.

Of course it's important to do good -- to be merciful, to seek justice for the oppressed, to be honest and upright. Jesus himself speaks about the importance of feeding the hungry and healing the sick in Matthew 25. But our constant moral struggles during this earthly life are just the first step towards our ultimate destiny: an eternity in heaven, made anew, free from the bondage of sin, in the presence of God forever.
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