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Old 12-03-2001, 01:24 PM   #21
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Melon and Bubba,

I don't know if you fine gentlemen are aware of this or not but they have actually found fragments of manuscripts that date from the time that Christ walked the Earth. The manuscripts contain two sayings of Jesus.

Perhaps this is the "Q" that many scholars speak about, or perhaps it could be the Apostle Matthew's very own notes (as a Roman Tax Collector he would have known a certain style of shorthand that would have allowed him to take notes as he walked through the Judean countryside with Jesus.) Whatever the case may be, there is now evidence that it didn't take 40 years before the sayings of Jesus were first recorded.
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Old 12-03-2001, 01:44 PM   #22
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I always knew that there was probably tonnes worth of information that the Vatican could have used and were probably more relevant to the question of faith, but in all honesty, I don't think the Vatican will review or modify anything.

Yes, they will be 'prompted' to make changes, but its more than likely that they will miss their cue, because the Vatican is one of the most pig-headed and arrogant institutions in the entire world. Time after time after time they have always shown how arrogant they are in their conviction that 'The Holy Church of God' does not make mistakes. What nonsense.

Not only do they make mistakes, but, as the posts on this thread have proven, there are quite a few distinctions in translations, validity of texts and contradictions. And yes, I do think Christ calling to God 'Why hast thou foresaken me?' does constitute as a contradiction. At the end of the day, Jesus was human (and the New Testament does not only acknolwedge it, it flaunts it) and humans always make mistakes and contradict themselves, it is puerile to think that Jesus was infallible in some way or area of divine expertise.

This is the reason why I do not take the Bible as Gospel. Alterations do and should continue to exist, and the text is constantly evolving; why take any of it as gospel?

I notice that many of the defenders of the Bible and Literal interpreters of the Bible haven't posted anything on this thread yet (no names, ), either because they do not recognise this thread as valid (if so, why don't they say so?) or because this thread raises too many fundamental questions on their interpretation of the Bible within theirselves, to which I add; are their convictions so weak that they can not be questioned?

I am not conducting an attack on those who have a different approach to the Bible and Catholicism (I, for one, don't believe in the miracles mentioned in the New Testament, I don't believe that the Virgin Mary was a virgin - as the Maquis de Sade said 'an entire religion based on an oxymoron' - and I don't believe in all those other miracles mentioned in the Old testament either. Don't believe in Genesis, Noah's Ark or the Ten Commandments - they are mere symbolic representations made up by learned Hebrew gentlemen. In fact, I don't believe in anything except that Jesus was very wise in most respects, and this made him the important Icon he is today), all I am saying is that the fact that new and improved texts that pop up all the time should be reviewed and accepted as other concepts of the truth, making the Bible not so much as THE last word on the Truth, but a worthwhile text book on it that opens the door to it.

The person who believes that everything is set in stone, including the truth, should be prepared to see his or her convictions questioned; I for one don't believe that the Truth can be found within the hollow of ancient scriptures.

The Vatican will denounce these scriptures and will once again prove how misguded and arrogant they are, and anyone else who follows such thinking should ask themselves why they do so.

Ant.

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Old 12-03-2001, 02:15 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba:
Melon,

I thought my post was quite civil - as was your reply. There's really no need to preempt the outbreak of an argument by asking me to keep this civil.
It was civil. I am hoping that it will stay that way.

Quote:
Moving on, I think I'll first address the point most salient to the current discussion, namely mistranslation and contradiction.

While it is indeed possible that the Bible can be mistranslated (perhaps inevitable, given the large chasms of differences among English translations), I see mistranslation and contradiction as two completely different things.

The example you cited appears to be two translations of the same verse, and it raises the discussion of mistranslation - of whether one translation is substantially closer to the author's intended meaning. It is not a case in which "Jesus does contradict Himself on divorce in the KJV" - at least, if one translation suggests that he contradicts Himself, you do not provide substantial evidence.

Essentially, the evidence that is needed for contradiction is this: two different verses within the same more-or-less accepted translation, verses concerning Christ's words or behavior that indicate hypocrisy - saying two things that are utterly irreconcilable or saying one thing and doing another.

Until such evidence is provided, the subject that we are discussing will remain one of mistranslation, not one of Christ contradicting Himself.

And, as a serious aside, you were not quoting the King James Version of the Holy Bible. Matthew 5:23, KJV, is as follows:

"But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery."
Well, that only adds to the mess. Maybe "unchastity" came from the NIV? Ask DebbieSG...that's where I got the quote from. "Unchastity" and "fornication" are both incorrect translations of porneia, which is a reference to incest.

Quote:
On to the subject of miracles.

I suggested that the fact that Jesus spoke on the cross isn't so amazing, given His track record of miracles performed. You responded by questioning that track record!

To be honest, I'm a bit astounded. While your reply does appear to be one of the few ways to hold your ground on the unliklihood of last words, it seems to be a position very few Christians would seriously take.
These are the Catholic official positions. You would also be interested to know that Catholicism doesn't believe in the archetypical heaven or hell, with the clouds and the fire. But, considering that you are Protestant, it does not bother me that we disagree on this. What does bother me is that Catholics don't know this either. The Pope is seemingly concerned with politics lately.

Quote:
Further, it seems quite odd that, while you are very skeptical about most of the miracles, you cling to the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection, the two miracles that make healing the blind seem commonplace, the two miracles that are, for most, the hardest to accept.
Well, the Dead Sea Scrolls might contradict the Virgin birth. If it weren't for the fact that the Christian stoic movement (not to be confused with classical Greek stoicism) exulted virginity to the highest place amongst humanity, it might not bother people that Mary created Jesus sexually. Perhaps Mary and Joseph did create Jesus in body, but the soul--the essence that makes us who we are--was the Son of God. Doesn't shake my faith either way.

As for the Resurrection, without it, what do we have? But it's most interesting that you said that these two are the hardest to accept, and I think that the gospel writers knew this as well. People most surely would have been skeptical just on the basis of Jesus preaching, dying, and resurrecting. They wanted more. While the apostles and next-generation disciples had the convenience of knowing Jesus or knowing people who knew Jesus, this might have been a harder sell for Gentiles outside of Jerusalem. How do you sell it then? Miracles. For an uneducated audience, for those proverbial "doubting Thomas" types, they wanted proof. Sell them on miracles, you can sell them on the tenets of His message.

Quote:
In fact, I can't accept the premise that the Apostles would - after seeing Christ risen from the dead - begin to fabricate other lesser miracles to make "him more of a circus show than He really was". It makes no sense to risk discrediting such an amazing event as a man coming back to life by adding lesser amazing events that, even forty years later, could have been revealed as utter fabrications. And it makes even less sense that a great and good Man mighty enough to raise Himself from the dead could not or would not meet the needs of the hungry, blind, leperous.
I do not believe the apostles did this as much as later disciples. The gospels themselves are not written by any of the apostles, nor is it believed that any of them were written by disciples close to the apostles. In absence of earlier documents than A.D. 70, it is really hard to say. Like the Dead Sea Scrolls, however, I have a feeling that you would find stories expounded or blown up out of proportion in contrast to the earlier accounts. It's kind of like how rumors start: you find out someone had sex with someone. Someone else says that that girl had sex with two people at once. Someone else then adds more gratuitous details, etc. Likewise, it's possible with the miracles as well, which were smaller in scale, but, through the innaccuracy of oral tradition and time, more and more details are added, making it the grandiose scale that they are now.

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No, I see only two reasonable possibilities: either the miracles of Christ are on the whole true, or they are all lies.
A true, essentialist faith. What would you do if the Dead Sea Scrolls proved otherwise? Would your faith crumble on such a foundation?

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(Either way, many people who heard the story believed it so thoroughly that they were willing to die rather than reject it. What's more peculiar is that first-hand witnesses, including Peter and other Apostles, were also willing to die for their beliefs. It seems totally against human nature that men who fabricated these stories would be willing to die slowly and painfully for the same.)
It's not about fabrication of Jesus and His divinity. It isn't that that I question. Human nature is not about fabrication as much as distortion. You remember the games of telephone when you were in grade school. Go down a list of twenty people, and what do you get? A slight remnant of the original message. Like it or not, the gospels, as we have present, were not written by the apostles, and there's no evidence to believe that they were written by anyone close to the apostles. However, what you do have cases of are that Matthew and Luke are taken from the gospel of Mark. The study of the written language has hinted toward that, and, especially in the case of Jesus' crucifixion, Matthew and Mark are identical in places. However, read the entire texts of both and you get ideological bents, additions, omissions, etc. Basically, all four gospels maintain the same basic message, but it's the details that are different.

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It seems to me that the question of Christ's miracles begs the more important question: was Christ merely a man, or also the Son of God?

If He was merely a man (short of being a prophet or a servent of Satan), miracles would be out of His reach.

And if He was the God Incarnate, miracles seem to be necessary - to fulfill prophecy and bring about salvation; to dramatize God's plan of redemption and reign of supreme authority over nature; and to show that He is the ultimate power through which other great servants and miracle workers (Moses especially) acted.
Your question reminds me of the Jews who taunted Jesus to save Himself from the cross if He was truly the Son of God.

What's most noteworthy is not what God or Jesus are capable of. They can do anything. What's most interesting is what they chose not to do.

And you accentuate my point, yet again:

"miracles seem to be necessary - to fulfill prophecy and bring about salvation; to dramatize God's plan of redemption and reign of supreme authority over nature"

The people of 2000 years ago--and perhaps now it seems--were too weak in faith to accept Jesus totally on His message. I don't need miracles--true or untrue--to believe in Jesus.

Quote:
For the sake of argument, let's assume that the miracles did not occur, that Jesus was (as so many thoughtful people like to say) a "great teacher", a man whose message we would like to "handle intellectually."

What then was His message?


Jesus' message was to love God and love one another. St. Paul confirms this:

"Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,' and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this saying, (namely) 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law." (Romans 13:8-10)

Quote:
"Think not that I am come to destory the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destory, but to fulfil." Matthew 4:17.
If you believe this, I hope you follow the entire Mosaic Law, including dietary restrictions, forbidden clothing, and circumcision, because this is what the Church of Jerusalem, one of two of the earliest Christian sects and the writer of Matthew, believed. Modern Christianity is a derivative of the Church of Antioch, although, most interestingly, Christian fundamentalism seems to be a derivative of Gnosticism, which was all but wiped out in the third century A.D.

Quote:
"All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him." Matthew 11:27.

"All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." Matthew 28:18.

"Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of theives." Mark 11:17, referring to the Temple (see also Luke 19:46).

"I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." Mark 14:62, in response to 'Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?'

"Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached." Luke 7:22.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16.

"My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." John 5:18, to which 'the Jews sought to kill him, because he... said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God' (5:19).
Heh...this last quote was one of the favorites of Nazi Germany, and was the source of 2000 years of state-sponsored anti-Semitism.

Quote:
"I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." John 6:35.

I hope I do not go too far in making my point, but I also hope my point is clear: inherent and indivisble from Christ's moral teachings is his assertions of divine power, of being the Son of God and the Son of Man; His claim to the Temple; His working of miracles, and His key role in the salvation of man.

Jesus claims to be God, and miraculous works would certainly materialize en masse as God comes down to His creation and finds so many in need of physical healing, the restoration of hope, and the blessings of forgiveness.
Most of these quotes I have no problem with, although to center one's faith simply on whether miracles occurred or not seems shaky at best. Back to the original intent of this entire topic, what would you do if the Dead Sea Scrolls or any early text contradicted these claims? What if they contradicted the entire Bible, rendering it untrustworthy? Would you still have faith, or would it crumble on such a foundation? To demand all or none is shaky indeed, but what we mostly have here is ideological difference, and it's fallacious to believe that all Christians must think alike. I respect your beliefs, but do not share them 100%. Even early Christianity wasn't in 100% agreement, and the gospels show that in critical analysis.

Quote:
I believe C.S. Lewis said it best, in the closing paragraph to "The Shocking Alternative", a chapter in Mere Christianity:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God." That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
Quoting C.S. Lewis is, honestly, worthless. C.S. Lewis was no closer to God than you or I, and, somehow, because you and many others agree with him, he's somehow more right than others? He is definitely the born-again poster boy, though.

Regardless, what I said does not contradict with what I believe about Jesus, whom I see as 100% man and 100% God at the same time. C.S. Lewis, obviously, trumpeted the God portion of Jesus and was highly essentialist, as was the entire Christian world during when Lewis wrote this book in 1943, so it was very easy for Lewis to say what he did. Lewis is a product of his surroundings.

As for me, I try, at least, to trumpet both. You have the Jesus who boldly confronted the Pharisees and then you have the Jesus who lamented His own impending death in the Garden of Gethsemane. Is it possible to believe in Jesus in an incredibly post-modern world? I think it is, and, even if you think what I write is bad--i.e., you disagree with it--that is the underlying message of my writings. If the Bible was wholly disproven tomorrow, my faith in Jesus would still be there. Can you say the same for yourself?

Melon

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"He had lived through an age when men and women with energy and ruthlessness but without much ability or persistence excelled. And even though most of them had gone under, their ignorance had confused Roy, making him wonder whether the things he had striven to learn, and thought of as 'culture,' were irrelevant. Everything was supposed to be the same: commercials, Beethoven's late quartets, pop records, shopfronts, Freud, multi-coloured hair. Greatness, comparison, value, depth: gone, gone, gone. Anything could give some pleasure; he saw that. But not everything provided the sustenance of a deeper understanding." - Hanif Kureishi, Love in a Blue Time

[This message has been edited by melon (edited 12-03-2001).]
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Old 12-03-2001, 02:43 PM   #24
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Well, Anthony, to be honest, I'm a Southern Baptist - which is not only a Protestant denomination, but one that has historically distanced itself from the Catholic Church. Thus, I for one am not in a position to say too much about the Catholic Church, one way or another.

But on most other points, I have an observation or two.

Most Christian theologians admit that Christ is fully human; otherwise, He could not stand in our place to accept the punishment of sin - to serve as a equivalent substitute. But He is also fully God, the only being who could be perfect enough to serve as the blameless sacrifice - the flawless substitute.

That said, Melon and I were discussing the fact that different Gospels seemingly attributed different "final words" to Christ; we weren't debating the substance of those words. Still, "Why hast thou forsaken me?" is NOT NECESSARILY a contradiction on Christ's part.

According to Christian theology, the punishment of sin *had* to be accepted by *someone* in order for man to be redeemed, and Christ was that blameless sacrifice. He suffered betrayal, abandonment, false witnesses, humiliation, torture, physical death, AND the ULTIMATE punishment for sin - spiritual removal from the presence from God.

Theologians believe (as do I) that Christ cried out "Why hast thou forsaken me?" because God HAD FORSAKEN HIM, in order that He might suffer all the penalties of sin, so that we could be saved from the very same.

It is not puerile to believe that Christ was and is infallible (and I say "is" because we Christians also believe that, having conquered death, He is alive this very moment). If one believes that Christ is God Incarnate, than it follows that Christ can very well be a perfect man. And the question of Christ being God is the question of faith on which all of Christianity hangs.

In response to the question of the infallibility of the Bible itself, I believe that the Bible contains truth without any error. By this, I mean that the original manuscripts were written by people divinely inspired by God in the form of the Holy Spirit; the Bible is not "mere symbolic representations made up by learned
Hebrew gentlemen". The manuscripts from which we have gathered our knowledge may be imperfect or incomplete, and translations may further distance us from the original works. That should compel us to continue looking for older, more complete manuscripts and more accurate, vital translations. But that imperfection of our copies doesn't detract from the divine perfection of the originals (wherever they may be). That doesn't so completely muddle our scriptures to lead us to nothing more than horrible interpretations (after all, the main themes of the Bible are emphasized throughout - including the truth that God actively intervenes in our existence through supernatural miracles). And we cannot ignore the element in the Christian life that makes the Bible so contemporary to our lives - the revelation of truth in the Bible through the work of the Holy Spirit.

The Christian map to God may be an imperfect copy of a flawless original. But no other maps are so close to that original masterpiece of God working through man.

And you were wondering were the fundamentalists were?

To de Sade's comment, I can only say that the Bible is full of seeming contradictions: Murders and adulterers are hand-picked to be God's servants. A virgin gives birth to the Son of God. A man dies only to come back to life three days later. The singular God exists in three persons, all-powerful and yet very personal, just and yet merciful.

Fortunately, we are not asked to understand - only to come "as children" and simply believe.

Finally, I must respond to this statment:

I don't believe in anything except that Jesus was very wise in most respects, and this made him the important Icon he is today

Again, refer to my arguments above, particularly the Lewis quote. I once again assert that you cannot read the Gospel, honestly believe that the man called Jesus at least said (more-or-less) what is written in the Gospels, and call him "very wise".

This Jew who was born 2,000 years ago (long after the creation of the universe) claims to be and speaks with the authority of the sovreign Creator Himself.

He is either God, Satan, or insane. A "wise teacher" is simply not an option.

(I see Melon has replied to my last post; I will get to that when I can. )
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Old 12-03-2001, 04:10 PM   #25
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Let me get this right... A bunch of scholars have been poring over these scrolls for half a century, and we are JUST NOW hearing that the word "virgin" may best be translated "young girl", and that's supposed to shake the validity of the scriptures?
Until 1991, only 7 people on Earth were permitted to view the scrolls.
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Old 12-03-2001, 04:27 PM   #26
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Melon,

Okay, the KJV interpretation may be a bit off from the original manuscripts. I grant that; I still also assert that that fact doesn't demonstrate some contradiction of Christ.


I was not aware that the Catholic Church offically disregards every miracle, save the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection.

In fact, forgive me for being blunt, but I doubt that that is the official position. Why do I doubt? TRANSUBSTANTIATION.

If you can provide a link to online evidence, I'd greatly appreciate it.


There is a deeper issue surrounding the Virgin Birth, namely the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isiah 7:14: "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."


There are also deeper reasons for miracles: to demonstrate the different kingdom Christ was bringing (personal change vs. the cataclysmic miracles of the Old Testament); to show that the kingdom was for all by ministering to the rejects of society; to teach by example the necessity of addressing physical needs in order to successfully address spiritual needs; to parallel and surpass Moses in sovreignty (compare miracles of feeding and miracles involving water - and the ease with which Christ accomplished both); and to demonstrate - as the rest of the Bible does - that God is a Being of actions, not just words.

(And while it may be true that miracles help convince the "hard sell", that could be another reason Christ employed them, instead of a reason early Christians fabricated or exaggerated stories about them. The Gospels seem pretty true to life in their description of the very imperfect disciples - none of them were learned rabbis, some were arrogant hotheads, some were "Doubting Thomas's", most didn't really know who Jesus was up until even the Crucifixion, and all betrayed or abandoned Him in His time of need. Who's to say that they didn't need "miraculous signs and wonders" just as much as the common peasant?)

Either way, here we have four gospel accounts (our four best biographies of Christ), all of which assert that Christ performed miracles. Miracles are not unique in these four books, as they occur also in the Old Testament and Acts (and even the Revelation can be considered a miracle of sorts). The same type of miracles are found in all four accounts, with some specific miracles being referenced in three or four of them (walking on water, feeding of five thousand, the resurrection of the ruler's daughter).

There's every reason to believe that the recounts of at least a great many miracles are accurate, and yet you persist in suggesting that the early Christians are lying or exaggerating.

I find your explanation particularly hard to swallow when it's still easy for those early Christians to check and find out whether so-and-so actually came back to life, and when I imagine it to be quite difficult to exaggerate into a miracle like walking on water. Honestly, how does that rumor get started? Was Christ an above average swimmer?

It makes me wonder why you refuse to genuinely consider the possibility of miracles throughout Christ's ministry.


I honestly don't know how I would respond to the Dead Sea Scrolls "proving" the New Testament wrong.

But academia would have one tough time proving the validity of the scrolls over the New Testament. Any argument you've brought up against the records of miracles could probably be levelled against the scrolls as well.

And, ultimately, I have faith that the Holy Spirit will guide me and inform me on what's true and what's not.


Yes, Christ's message was found in loving your neighbor. But there is more:

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This the first and great commandment." Matthew 12:38-39.

("And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Matthew 12:40-41.)

Those are the greatest commandments, but there's also the message of salvation found in John 3:16. In that message is the implication that Christ is the Son of God. That said, Christ *should* be able to will any number of miracles -- and the gospels make it very clear that Christ did in fact perform many, many miracles.


No, I do not follow Mosaic law, and I will probably never follow it to the letter. But I struggle to follow that law in spirit (namely, love God absolutely and love your neighbor as yourself) - and I believe that is what Christ in part meant by fulfilling the law, as detailed in the Sermon on the Mount.

(It's also why I'm not too worried about the exact wording of every verse and the literal-vs.-figurative nature of the first few chapters of Genesis. I have faith that the Bible as a whole is true, that I know its most basic tenets, and that the Holy Spirit will guide me through the details.)


Heh...this last quote was one of the favorites of Nazi Germany, and was the source of 2000 years of state-sponsored anti-Semitism.

I clearly used that quote to demonstrate the outrageous claims that Christ was making - claims that would have political and religous leaders conspiring against the man making those claims.

Melon, I have no idea how your statement above is relevant to the discussion, and I would appreciate it if you explained why you said it, and what you are implying.


Again, I would trust the Holy Spirit to guide me if there was a legitimate case for contradiction through the Dead Sea Scrolls or some other document.

At this point, I feel no need to answer further, because I don't know how this scenario could possibly come to pass:

What if they contradicted the entire Bible, rendering it untrustworthy?

First of all, many works contradict the entire Bible, including the Egyption Book of the Dead, books on Wicca, and Dianetics. My faith is not shaken.

And if the Dead Sea Scrolls were drastically different than the entire Bible, the question then becomes, why trust the scrolls? We have a large number of manuscripts and fragments - how many? hundreds? thousands? - that more-or-less fit together. Why would this one document overturn two millenia's worth of evidence?

Present a plausible scenario, and I'll address it further.


I didn't quote C.S. Lewis to assert something like, "Lewis said so, so it must be true". I quoted him because to do otherwise would be to present a plageurized, watered-down argument - and I wanted to cite the reference so the curious could the read the passage on their own.

That said, I have always looked past his reputation and past his "existentialist surroundings" and looked at his argument. His argument is this: Christ's statements (both what he said and the authority with which he said it) make it clear that Christ thought he was the Son of God, part of the Holy Trinity that created the entire universe, even His physical form.

Lewis concludes that he was either insane, possessed, or honest, and I see no flaw with his arguments.

I can appreciate that you apparently have very little respect for C.S. Lewis. That's fine; assume that his quote is mine, and please address it on its merits.


Finally, there's this statement:

If the Bible was wholly disproven tomorrow, my faith in Jesus would still be there. Can you say the same for yourself?

I will again reiterate that I do not believe the Bible can be "wholly disproven" (or proven, for that matter).

But, having that said that, I must now say with complete honesty that my faith in Christ would be terribly, perhaps irrevocably shaken if the Bible was *somehow* disproven.

You claim that your faith in Jesus would still be there. As spiritual as that sounds, it begs certain questions:

What faith? What Jesus?

Let's say the Bible was *somehow* disproven, to one of these degrees:

1) Say it can be shown, without a doubt, that while he was a Nazerene crucified around A.D. 30, Jesus was not resurrected. At that point, your faith is in a dead man, an arrogant man who claimed he could beat death but lost, a man who was humiliated, executed and long since decomposed.

If your faith is in his wonderous teachings, than we're talking apples and oranges - your faith that his principles work vs. my faith that Christ lives as my risen Lord and Savior.

If your faith is in Jesus as Lord, Savior, and Son of God, and he is actually dead, than you're just worshipping one of us, and you might as well worship the remains of your ancestors.

2) Let's say that it's proven that Jesus never actually existed. At that point, your faith is either a childish, futile faith in an imaginary being - fairy-tale kin to Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy - or the "idea" of Jesus, which is again far different from my faith in a real and personal Being.

3) Let's finally say that it's been proven that the Bible's Author and central figure, God Himself, does not exist. In that case, your faith is in the imaginary Son of an imaginary God. If you can still keep that faith up, great, but it's still hollow and devoid of meaning.


Jesus loves me, this I know.
For the Bible tells me so.

Faith in the Bible is necessary for any true Christian.


"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1.
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Old 12-03-2001, 04:56 PM   #27
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just a couple of thoughts on the discussion:

Melon, I agree that the miracles Jesus performed (or that the NT claims he performed) are not necessary for him to be God. But I also believe that he was capable of perfoming them. You clearly believe that as well. So I'm curious why you dispute the miracles in the gospels? I'm sure there's a reason beyond the fact that it would have been advantageous for the gospel writers, or that they weren't necessary, but those are the only reasons I can pull from what you've written. I'm not trying to be Mr. Sassypants (have you ever met that guy? What an arse.) but am genuinely curious why you doubt those miracles.

Also, I can understand you being tired of C.S. Lewis quotes. I think the guy was wicked smart, but even I got tired of him for a while there. He was pretty much the patron saint of the college I went to. Anyway, Bubba said "I think C.S. Lewis said it best..." All he was doing was quoting Lewis, because he thought Lewis said what he was trying to say better than Bubba could say it himself. Do you really believe that's worthless? I guess I would disagree. I assume you're not claiming that Kureishi is somehow more right than others. But I think there is some value in quoting someone because you find their words particularly profound, beautiful, or powerful.

**I started this reply and then went into an hour-long meeting, and just finished it, so it's written without seeing Bubba's response.

[This message has been edited by Spiral_Staircase (edited 12-03-2001).]

Crap. I just read Bubba's response, so I guess what I wrote is now totally irrelevant. Please go about your business; there's nothing to see here.....move along...move along....

[This message has been edited by Spiral_Staircase (edited 12-03-2001).]
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Old 12-03-2001, 07:05 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba:
Melon,

Okay, the KJV interpretation may be a bit off from the original manuscripts. I grant that; I still also assert that that fact doesn't demonstrate some contradiction of Christ.
No, it doesn't contradict Christ, and that was never my assertion. My point was that contradictions exist in terms of what He supposedly says, and, as a result, some Christians decide to use these as a basis for their behavior or whatnot. How many people have decided that divorces are okay on the basis of this mistranslated line in Matthew, for instance?

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I was not aware that the Catholic Church offically disregards every miracle, save the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection.
Not exactly. The Church acknowledges the imperfections of the writers of the Bible. They state that, while the miracles exist, they were likely turned into a hyperbole by the gospel writers to accentuate their points.

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In fact, forgive me for being blunt, but I doubt that that is the official position. Why do I doubt? TRANSUBSTANTIATION.
Well, this brings another point. If you read the gospels, Jesus does state that the Bread and the Wine are, indeed, Him. If you are to take the gospels literally, then why do all Protestant sects take the view of Martin Luther that Jesus is only spiritually present in the Bread and the Wine? Is that not a contradiction of the literal word of the gospels?

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If you can provide a link to online evidence, I'd greatly appreciate it.
Much of this does come from my own philosophical exploration, but much of it does have a scholarly basis. Ask something specifically, and I shall try and find somewhere online with evidence. Part of the problem will be that quite a bit of this topic, specifically, comes from my high school religion classes, and I don't have the textbooks anymore.

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There is a deeper issue surrounding the Virgin Birth, namely the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isiah 7:14: "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."

There are also deeper reasons for miracles: to demonstrate the different kingdom Christ was bringing (personal change vs. the cataclysmic miracles of the Old Testament); to show that the kingdom was for all by ministering to the rejects of society; to teach by example the necessity of addressing physical needs in order to successfully address spiritual needs; to parallel and surpass Moses in sovreignty (compare miracles of feeding and miracles involving water - and the ease with which Christ accomplished both); and to demonstrate - as the rest of the Bible does - that God is a Being of actions, not just words.

(And while it may be true that miracles help convince the "hard sell", that could be another reason Christ employed them, instead of a reason early Christians fabricated or exaggerated stories about them. The Gospels seem pretty true to life in their description of the very imperfect disciples - none of them were learned rabbis, some were arrogant hotheads, some were "Doubting Thomas's", most didn't really know who Jesus was up until even the Crucifixion, and all betrayed or abandoned Him in His time of need. Who's to say that they didn't need "miraculous signs and wonders" just as much as the common peasant?)
Well, I must admit, my feelings are not incredibly strong one way or another regarding the miracles. There was once a "How much of a Catholic are you?" quiz, which basically puts you in gradients--traditionalist, neo-traditionalist, liberal, radical, and recovering--and when it came to the miracle questions, I really didn't know what to say. I don't really wholly buy the official argument that they are wholly hyperboles, but I don't wholly buy the argument that they are 100% literally correct either. I can see why they would be probably exaggerated, partly on the basis of the "telephone" argument and the reality that the Dead Sea Scrolls revealed that people would input their own biases/prejudices in later translations.

You did pose the question that I still cannot answer with complete certainty: why would people purposely distort/add things? From a 21st century point-of-view, I cannot fathom such an idea, since we put such high value on accuracy. The reality, however, is that there are distortions/biases put in many of these texts, which the scrolls have just proven, and perhaps the only reason I can justify it was the reality that church-and-state was not a concept people could understand at this time, but the same power-hungry leaders still existed. As average citizens did not actually own a Bible until the time of Martin Luther (off-topic, I think the Reformation, while I'm not Protestant, was necessary), it was fairly simple to add your own personal feelings into a text and no one would be the wiser. King "X" of Israel wants to command his army to kill his surrounding pagan enemies, so, to drum up support, he adds a story of how God commanded Moses or Joshua, heroes the common people would understand, to kill everyone and everything in sight ("The Ban"), and since the divine right of kings, the idea that God placed a certain individual as king on purpose, and, as such, it was his right to do whatever he pleased, was a very popular concept even up to the fall of the Romanov dynasty in Russia in 1917, these leaders would have had no problems, conscience-wise, adding things. As "king," they were a direct messenger of God. Don't believe me? The Pope still claims to be the direct messenger of God, and, even if what he states has no Biblical basis, the Pope believes He is speaking for God. You may laugh, but all facets of royalty believed this for well over 2000 years.

Hence, my mental dilemma is not regarding the existence or the Resurrection of Christ, but some of the minute details that have driven Christians to do extraordinarily evil things, like the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Holocaust. If someone puts a literal trust in the Bible, I get worried for this reason, because the texts before us are not free of post-Biblical human infiltration.

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Either way, here we have four gospel accounts (our four best biographies of Christ), all of which assert that Christ performed miracles. Miracles are not unique in these four books, as they occur also in the Old Testament and Acts (and even the Revelation can be considered a miracle of sorts). The same type of miracles are found in all four accounts, with some specific miracles being referenced in three or four of them (walking on water, feeding of five thousand, the resurrection of the ruler's daughter).
Well, if it's any consolation regarding my mental dilemma, I do believe that Christ can heal people of their ailments even in the present, so, even if I have conflicting emotions in regards to the miracles that happened in the Bible, all we do have is the present.

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There's every reason to believe that the recounts of at least a great many miracles are accurate, and yet you persist in suggesting that the early Christians are lying or exaggerating.

I find your explanation particularly hard to swallow when it's still easy for those early Christians to check and find out whether so-and-so actually came back to life, and when I imagine it to be quite difficult to exaggerate into a miracle like walking on water. Honestly, how does that rumor get started? Was Christ an above average swimmer?
See above for the divine right of kings idea and read my telephone argument. The "divine right of kings" would mean intentional distortion to persuade believers to do things, and since the king believed he was a born messenger of God on Earth, he would have had no moral dilemma regarding changing the Bible. The "telephone" argument would mean unintentional distortion, due to time, due to the reality that humans do not memorize what they are told word-for-word, and that, often, what they don't know in regards to a specific detail, they may make up to create a cohesive story.

A third argument is a combination of both. As, like I said earlier, most commoners had no exposure to the physical Bible texts until Martin Luther, imperial rulers, who did heavily influence the theology of the early Church on the same level as the Papacy now influences Catholicism, may have made pronouncements leaning toward their ideological bents. When it came time for monks to make their hand-written translations (remember: no printing press until the late 1400s) and hit a questionable word, they would likely have gone back to their traditional interpretation that they grew up with. Compound that with the reality that many of the original source texts were lost either physically or in their ability to translate the Hebrew and conversational Greek, many of subsequent Bibles were translated on faulty Latin texts. My point? History has made a mess of the Bible regarding accuracy.

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It makes me wonder why you refuse to genuinely consider the possibility of miracles throughout Christ's ministry.
I hope you can see where I'm coming from now.

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I honestly don't know how I would respond to the Dead Sea Scrolls "proving" the New Testament wrong.

But academia would have one tough time proving the validity of the scrolls over the New Testament. Any argument you've brought up against the records of miracles could probably be levelled against the scrolls as well.
Well, the scrolls are mostly Old Testament texts anyway. My point is that, if the Old Testament was subject to people adding their prejudices and biases in later translations, what makes the New Testament immune?

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And, ultimately, I have faith that the Holy Spirit will guide me and inform me on what's true and what's not.
Excellent! You have my basis for faith: the Holy Spirit and conscience.

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Yes, Christ's message was found in loving your neighbor. But there is more:

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This the first and great commandment." Matthew 12:38-39.

("And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Matthew 12:40-41.)

Those are the greatest commandments, but there's also the message of salvation found in John 3:16. In that message is the implication that Christ is the Son of God. That said, Christ *should* be able to will any number of miracles -- and the gospels make it very clear that Christ did in fact perform many, many miracles.
I do believe in this, but the question, like I said earlier, should not be posed in what Jesus and God *could* do, because they could do anything. Rather, we should ask why Jesus would *not* do something. The Pharisees expected a Messiah that would arise and make Israel the most powerful of all nations...but He chose not to. At Jesus' crucifixion, He was taunted as, if He were truly the Son of God, why He didn't free Himself from the cross...and He didn't free Himself. I sometimes think that some people expect God to always do what they want, even if that's make them happy forever or to make a literal Bible, untainted from the centuries. The reality is that neither exists. Human suffering is still here, and the Bible, although the total message is intact, the details are muddled, and there has been evidence through study of the original texts that such has been the case. Why would God allow such things to happen? I really cannot answer for God.

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No, I do not follow Mosaic law, and I will probably never follow it to the letter. But I struggle to follow that law in spirit (namely, love God absolutely and love your neighbor as yourself) - and I believe that is what Christ in part meant by fulfilling the law, as detailed in the Sermon on the Mount.

(It's also why I'm not too worried about the exact wording of every verse and the literal-vs.-figurative nature of the first few chapters of Genesis. I have faith that the Bible as a whole is true, that I know its most basic tenets, and that the Holy Spirit will guide me through the details.)
Excellent! We are in more agreement. Love and faith are the main points of the Bible. As for the creation of the world, I believe in a God-created evolution. How does that negate the ideas of love and faith? It doesn't, and that's my point.

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Heh...this last quote was one of the favorites of Nazi Germany, and was the source of 2000 years of state-sponsored anti-Semitism.

I clearly used that quote to demonstrate the outrageous claims that Christ was making - claims that would have political and religous leaders conspiring against the man making those claims.

Melon, I have no idea how your statement above is relevant to the discussion, and I would appreciate it if you explained why you said it, and what you are implying.
This goes back to my idea that people put their own commentary in the gospels. Remember: bigotry was very acceptable back then. Knowing Jesus, who stated that there was only one commandment--to love God and to love one another--would He perhaps have put in commentary about the Jews killing Him? The quote, admittedly, is innocent enough, but--and it's reality--that quote was one of a few in the New Testament that culminated in 2000 years of anti-Semitism ending with the Holocaust. It was really a side comment really, and, to make myself explicit this time, I'm neither calling you or your faith allied with Nazism.

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Again, I would trust the Holy Spirit to guide me if there was a legitimate case for contradiction through the Dead Sea Scrolls or some other document.
Excellent. I agree.

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At this point, I feel no need to answer further, because I don't know how this scenario could possibly come to pass:

What if they contradicted the entire Bible, rendering it untrustworthy?

First of all, many works contradict the entire Bible, including the Egyption Book of the Dead, books on Wicca, and Dianetics. My faith is not shaken.

And if the Dead Sea Scrolls were drastically different than the entire Bible, the question then becomes, why trust the scrolls? We have a large number of manuscripts and fragments - how many? hundreds? thousands? - that more-or-less fit together. Why would this one document overturn two millenia's worth of evidence?
Well, did you know that most Old Testaments are translated from the Masoretic (sp?) Bible from around A.D. 1050, which was the oldest existing complete Old Testament up to this point? What makes this more accurate than the Dead Sea Scrolls? The fact that this isn't two millennia of work, but one. Honestly, we are exposed only to the Bibles of the last century, and with obvious good reason. Are we now going to say that the Bibles, outside of our own, are somehow the same as they were throughout the centuries? The physical evidence, as we are collecting more and more ancient texts, is that this is not the case.

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I didn't quote C.S. Lewis to assert something like, "Lewis said so, so it must be true". I quoted him because to do otherwise would be to present a plageurized, watered-down argument - and I wanted to cite the reference so the curious could the read the passage on their own.
Okay. I understand now.

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That said, I have always looked past his reputation and past his "existentialist surroundings" and looked at his argument. His argument is this: Christ's statements (both what he said and the authority with which he said it) make it clear that Christ thought he was the Son of God, part of the Holy Trinity that created the entire universe, even His physical form.
Heh...I didn't know many Protestants believed in the Trinity, the Catholic-originated idea that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit was one in the same. I have heard much opposition to this from Protestantism, so I am giving you a chance to either confirm or deny this.

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Lewis concludes that he was either insane, possessed, or honest, and I see no flaw with his arguments.

I can appreciate that you apparently have very little respect for C.S. Lewis. That's fine; assume that his quote is mine, and please address it on its merits.
Well, likewise, I doubt you, as a Protestant, would put much store in Catholic theologians, so I guess we're equal.

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Finally, there's this statement:

If the Bible was wholly disproven tomorrow, my faith in Jesus would still be there. Can you say the same for yourself?

I will again reiterate that I do not believe the Bible can be "wholly disproven" (or proven, for that matter).

But, having that said that, I must now say with complete honesty that my faith in Christ would be terribly, perhaps irrevocably shaken if the Bible was *somehow* disproven.

You claim that your faith in Jesus would still be there. As spiritual as that sounds, it begs certain questions:

What faith? What Jesus?
I believe in Him simply on, as you stated, the Holy Spirit and my conscience. I feel His presence, so I know He exists and is there. I do not need the Bible to tell me any further.

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Let's say the Bible was *somehow* disproven, to one of these degrees:

1) Say it can be shown, without a doubt, that while he was a Nazerene crucified around A.D. 30, Jesus was not resurrected. At that point, your faith is in a dead man, an arrogant man who claimed he could beat death but lost, a man who was humiliated, executed and long since decomposed.

If your faith is in his wonderous teachings, than we're talking apples and oranges - your faith that his principles work vs. my faith that Christ lives as my risen Lord and Savior.

If your faith is in Jesus as Lord, Savior, and Son of God, and he is actually dead, than you're just worshipping one of us, and you might as well worship the remains of your ancestors.
Well, such a scenario did exist. There is a female scholar who wrote a book (I wish I remember her name) stating that, from the "evidence" she gathered, she believed that Jesus did exist, but was a liberal member of the Essenes who broke away to teach His own message. The miracles, to her, were part of the sacred knowledge of the Essenes that were never intended to be revealed to outsiders. She claims He did not die on the cross, but was poisoned by a deceptive potion. He was buried, but the Essenes, apparently, did not abandon Him and fed Him the antidote. Hence, the Resurrection.

Now I just stated this for argument's sake. I don't believe this myself. There comes a point where faith does make a stand. I do not believe in all the minute details where Jesus seemingly does contradict ("I did not come to negate the Law, but to redeem it"). That is where conscience comes into play, and I do not deny that. I will admit that my hypothetical question poses more questions than answers, and I probably should have crafted it better.

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Faith in the Bible is necessary for any true Christian.
No, it isn't. It's love of God and love of others.

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"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1.
This is an example of obscure word play in the Bible. When there was reference to "the Law," it usually never meant the Mosaic Law, but that Jesus was "the Law"--and "the Law" was to love God and one another. In this case, I think "the Word" is not necessarily a reference to the Bible (John and the New Testament weren't created in a Biblical canon until the A.D. 300s--200 years after this book was created), but that Jesus is the final "Word."

Jesus, to the early Church, was a fulfillment of the Old Testament, and it seriously considered throwing away the Old Testament for the New. Contrary to modern belief, early Christians did not believe in a literal interpretation of the "entire" Bible, and the early Church kept the Old Testament with the belief that the New Testament didn't make sense without giving people the ability to read the basis for it in the Old Testament. It was not expected to be taken as seriously as many modern Christians do presently.

At minimum, I think we agree on the most important basics, and now we are quibbling on the importance of the surrounding details. It's a start, at least!

Melon

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"He had lived through an age when men and women with energy and ruthlessness but without much ability or persistence excelled. And even though most of them had gone under, their ignorance had confused Roy, making him wonder whether the things he had striven to learn, and thought of as 'culture,' were irrelevant. Everything was supposed to be the same: commercials, Beethoven's late quartets, pop records, shopfronts, Freud, multi-coloured hair. Greatness, comparison, value, depth: gone, gone, gone. Anything could give some pleasure; he saw that. But not everything provided the sustenance of a deeper understanding." - Hanif Kureishi, Love in a Blue Time
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Old 12-03-2001, 07:44 PM   #29
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DoctorGonzo,
Thanks for the clarification. I wasn't aware that the scrolls had been off limits. That makes the recent news more reasonable. By the way, who were the seven, and how were they determined? I assume they were probably the discoverers of the scrolls.
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Old 12-03-2001, 08:23 PM   #30
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hmm can't read all that unfortunately. But good or bad, I know an Australian woman Barbara Theirry(if I recall correctly) has devoted much of her life to the scrolls and it hasn't been an easy path for her.She must be quite elderly by now I'd guess.
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Old 12-03-2001, 08:38 PM   #31
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AchtungBubba;

'"Why hast thou forsaken me?" is NOT NECESSARILY a contradiction on Christ's part.'

Maybe not, but I certainly see it as such.


'It is not puerile to believe that Christ was and is infallible (and I say "is" because we Christians also believe that, having conquered death, He is alive this very moment). If one believes that Christ is God Incarnate, than it follows that Christ can very well be a perfect man. And the question of Christ being God is the question of faith on which all of Christianity hangs.'

Yes, as you say, if one believes that Christ is God incarnate, then he is the perfect man, however, I don't believe that Christ IS God incarnate, or atleast, not the way Christian Theology would have it. My belief is that we are all children of God, and hence, we are all capable to be perfect in some way. The right to perfection is not just handed down to The Chosen Ones, and so, since Jesus Christ was human, in my system of belief he was imperfect in some way; whether he achieved nirvana or enlightenment, that information is lost to the pages of history, though it really does seem like it. That is how I fit in the 'wise man' theory, the man seems to have been a genius of some sort, and genius is a form of madness, which fits in with your 'insane' recommendation. Again, I don't believe he was God Incarnate (no more than you or I)and hence the man, as he was prone to strong emotions such as anger and violence had too have some imperfections. No point in me asking you 'what makes him so special?' Because you'll answer back with him being God Incarnate, this is not a valid argument for me because I don't believe in it.

'I believe that the Bible contains truth without any error.'

Oh really? Well, that is yet again another discrepancy between us as Human Beings. I happen to believe that the Bible is one of the most misguided and prejeduiced pieces of literature ever written, not to mention the stale, one-sided and completely third-rate manner in which it is written. The Bible provides interesting articles into Jewish superstition and some accounts of a very wise man who changed the world; nothing more.

I'm sorry, but I've never needed it. Was Jesus under some dizzy spell when he said that the kingdom of God is WITHIN? You will not find it in a page, and you won't find it in a Church, its in the human spirit where it is found, anything else is just miguided and irrelevant. 'The Kingdom of God is Within', this I believe as much.

As for your argument about people being divinely inspired by God, I could tell you that God inspires me everytime I pick up a paintbrush, everytime I write a sentence, everytime I do anything. God inspires everyone, and God works through everyone, where does one draw the line?

As for your comment on the contradictions within the Bible, let me say that that is the one quality I admire within the Bible, it has always been my belief that anything that does not have contradictions isn't worth believing; without darkness there can be no light.

'Fortunately, we are not asked to understand - only to come "as children" and simply believe.'

I am sorry, but believing in something without question is an exceedingly dangerous thing to do. Dangerous for you and dangerous for humanity. I for one will never enter through a doorway without questioning where it takes me to, I can not simply 'believe' without question. It is in my nature to question. It is always better to ask the right questions than to have the wrong answers.

'He is either God, Satan, or insane. A "wise teacher" is simply not an option.'

Well, I have to respond to this according to my system of belief. Who's system of belief am I supposed to use? Yours? I've spent a lot of my life trying to get rid of any form of Christianity (or any other organised religion) and I can respect what you say, but I must disagree. I don't believe in Satan, I believe that God is absolute, that IT is everything Good and Bad. AS for the Insantity bit, it could have been a possibility, he must've been an eccentric. As for the God part, I believe we are all children of God, not just Jesus, putting Jesus on equal footing with the rest of us. The only difference is, Jesus was a lot more wiser and smarter than anybody else around him, hence making him in my system of belief nothing more than a wise man.

Ant.
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Old 12-03-2001, 10:30 PM   #32
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Well, I was one of the thousands (millions) who fell victim to "the great AT&T Outtage of 2K1", but have been quickly reinstated. yippee!

Friday night, while I lay in bed, I was thinking that when I woke up on Saturday, I would post my answer to this, which is this: there are many instance in which Jesus was referred to as being born of a woman who never had relations, including Old Testament prophecies, and even teh words of Mary herself "Lord, how can this be? I am still a virgin". Mary definitely meant "virgin", not just young woman here, because saying "Lord, how can this be since I am still a young woman?" would make no sense, because why would anyone wonder how a girl of 14 can get pregnant. No, in this case, it's very obvious that "virgin" meant "Virgin". There are many such cases which make it clear that the text does indeed report the VIRGIN BIRTH of Christ.
Acthung Bubba, you've made many good points!
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Old 12-03-2001, 10:48 PM   #33
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A very interesting discussion, but I don't have time to comment now...just wanted to say to melon I'm using the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. And I'm a Presbyterian; we believe in the Trinity.
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Old 12-03-2001, 11:03 PM   #34
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I agree with much of what Achtung Bubba has posted in this thread. Yes, the mysteries of faith are part of what makes Christianity "radical" to me. And the teachings are what makes it appealing to me.

And how is it wrong for Achtung Bubba to cite a C.S. Lewis quote on a theological thread, yet people are always posting Michael Moore's so-called political essays and we are supposed to take them as the gospel?

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Old 12-03-2001, 11:33 PM   #35
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No, it doesn't contradict Christ, and that was never my assertion. My point was that contradictions exist in terms of what He supposedly says, and, as a result, some Christians decide to use these as a basis for their behavior or whatnot. How many people have decided that divorces are okay on the basis of this mistranslated line in Matthew, for instance?

If your point was merely to demonstrate contradictions in interpretations, great; I was just lead to believe that you were suggesting Christ Himself was contradictory, particulary from your first post in this thread: "You can see this even within the four existing gospels, which were written to different target audiences, and Jesus does contradict Himself in a few places."

At any rate, when a translation does appear to be contradictory, that is when the Holy Spirit's guidance is most important - and that is when a verse must be compared to the overall message of the Bible and the overarching themes of Christ's ministry.


Not exactly. The Church acknowledges the imperfections of the writers of the Bible. They state that, while the miracles exist, they were likely turned into a hyperbole by the gospel writers to accentuate their points.

(It's first of all amazing that it appears the Catholic church places more trust in the lineage of popes than in the Bible itself; that speaks volumes.)

I can't speak for all Protestants or even all Southern Baptists, but that is (one of many areas) where many Southern Baptists disagree with Catholics: we believe that the original manuscripts are divinely inspired, and are thus without error. It is only with copied manuscripts and translations that we begin to see the possibility of error.

Well, this brings another point. If you read the gospels, Jesus does state that the Bread and the Wine are, indeed, Him. If you are to take the gospels literally, then why do all Protestant sects take the view of Martin Luther that Jesus is only spiritually present in the Bread and the Wine? Is that not a contradiction of the literal word of the gospels?

Two things I think are worth mentioning here:

First, the Protestants aren't exactly homogeneous, theologically speaking. Essentially, Protestantism is a catch-all for all (or almost all) denominations outside of Roman Catholicism and Easter Orthodoxy. We're "non-Catholics", and there are a LOT of ways to be non-Catholics. The Anglicans just split to allow Henry VIII to divorce, so their beliefs are very close to Catholicism. Other denominations (like the Southern Baptists) seemed to have started from scratch to create denominations that keep theology and beuracracy to a bare minimum. Thus, very few beliefs are held by "all Protestant sects".

And we're denominations, not sects.

Second, there are two ways to "literally" translate certain verses of the Bible, such as Matthew 26:26 ("Take, eat; this is my body."):

1) Jesus literally said that, and he meant it literally (hence, transubstantiation).

2) Jesus literally said that, but he meant it figuratively.

I hope that explanation is clear. If not, think of it this way: I believe Christ actually said "I am the way" (John 14:6), but I doubt he meant "I am a paved road." It's a belief that the verse is literally true, but not that Christ's words are to be taken literally.

Note that most theologians agree that Christ wasn't literal about plucking out one's eye or cutting off one's hand (Matthew 5:29-30).

Note also that this distinction can't be made with every verse. It could apply in the revelatory books (Revelation and even Genesis, in which God revealed to Moses what happened "in the beginning"); one could believe that God literally told Moses to write what he wrote and literally showed John those strange visions on Patmos, but that also those descriptions are not necessarily the literal recounting of what happened. But it seems VERY clear that other verses are to be taken QUITE literally, such as descriptions of Jesus' actions and the assertions of His Resurrection.

If the Bible says Christ went to town X and said Y (and if there is no reason to doubt the validity of the transcript or its translation), one should believe that He literally went to town X and said Y - but depending on Y, one should not necessarily believe that Christ literally meant Y.

But enough of that.


Yes, it certainly seems true that the authors of the Bible would have ample opportunity to skew the works in their favor, and human nature suggests that they would have given in to the temptation. The amazing is that they DON'T skew the works to make themselves look good. In fact, it seems that the Bible has one of the most realistic views of humanity of all the ancient texts.

King "X" of Israel wants to command his army to kill his surrounding pagan enemies, so, to drum up support, he adds a story of how God commanded Moses or Joshua, heroes the common people would understand, to kill everyone and everything in sight ("The Ban"), and since the divine right of kings, the idea that God placed a certain individual as king on purpose, and, as such, it was his right to do whatever he pleased, was a very popular concept even up to the fall of the Romanov dynasty in Russia in 1917, these leaders would have had no problems, conscience-wise, adding things.

And yet... one of the lessons of the Bible is that leaders are flawed, that even they aren't outside the law, and that a leader CAN'T "do whatever he pleased".

Moses was an exiled murderer when God first called him, and he was VERY hesitant to serve. He later disobeyed God, and as a punishment, he never entered the promised land. David committed adultery and plotted to kill the cuckolded husband - and, if I recall correctly, he paid dearly for his crimes, losing many of his children and temporarily losing the crown. Peter, the founder of the Catholic Church, denied Christ (as told in all four Gospels, I believe). And Paul harrassed and helped murder Christians before his conversion.

Ultimately, it's a matter of faith, but does that HONESTLY sound like propaganda?


Hence, my mental dilemma is not regarding the existence or the Resurrection of Christ, but some of the minute details that have driven Christians to do extraordinarily evil things, like the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Holocaust. If someone puts a literal trust in the Bible, I get worried for this reason, because the texts before us are not free of post-Biblical human infiltration.

Again, if one temper one's interpretations with the two great commandments (love God, love your neighbor), the context of the verses, the overall message of the Bible, and the influence of the Holy Spirit, one will not stray too far from the will of God.

(And, not to get completely off-topic, I'm not so sure that the Crusades were "extraordinarily evil." Individual acts certainly were so, but at the very least the Crusades began as a defensive war against the Muslims who had pushed into Spain and past Turkey.)


I can see where you're coming from, but your beliefs really call into question the entire Bible. Just as the Holy Spirit tests the validity of interpretations of the Bible, the Bible can test whether what you feel is the will of the Holy Spirit, or one's one selfish ego. And if you can't believe the Bible, you run the tremendous risk of flying blind.


This goes back to my idea that people put their own commentary in the gospels. Remember: bigotry was very acceptable back then. Knowing Jesus, who stated that there was only one commandment--to love God and to love one another--would He perhaps have put in commentary about the Jews killing Him? The quote, admittedly, is innocent enough, but--and it's reality--that quote was one of a few in the New Testament that culminated in 2000 years of anti-Semitism ending with the Holocaust. It was really a side comment really, and, to make myself explicit this time, I'm neither calling you or your faith allied with Nazism.

I'm glad to see that the Nazism comment was a mere aside, but to suggest that the Nazis incorrectly used that verse for their own designs is something ENTIRELY different than suggesting that "people put their own commentary in the gospels." It's the difference between mistranslating and altering the work.

In the specific case above, it seems factual that the Jewish leaders plotted against Jesus. To point to that fact (and the conversation that really spurred the plot against Christ) doesn't seem to be put in there to cause anti-Semitism.


Heh...I didn't know many Protestants believed in the Trinity, the Catholic-originated idea that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit was one in the same. I have heard much opposition to this from Protestantism, so I am giving you a chance to either confirm or deny this.

Again, I don't know about other denominations, but Southern Baptists do generally believe in the Trinity. And, again, generally speaking, Protestants have a very small universal set of beliefs.


I believe in Him simply on, as you stated, the Holy Spirit and my conscience. I feel His presence, so I know He exists and is there. I do not need the Bible to tell me any further.

That seems unusual to say the least, that your entire belief system is based on the Holy Spirit alone and not on the Bible in the least. If you don't mind me asking, how did you come to believe what you do? Does it conflict with the Bible? If it doesn't conflict (at VERY least on the most salient points), should you not believe in the Bible at least partially?


Well, such a scenario did exist. There is a female scholar who wrote a book (I wish I remember her name) stating that, from the "evidence" she gathered, she believed that Jesus did exist, but was a liberal member of the Essenes who broke away to teach His own message. The miracles, to her, were part of the sacred knowledge of the Essenes that were never intended to be revealed to outsiders. She claims He did not die on the cross, but was poisoned by a deceptive potion. He was buried, but the Essenes, apparently, did not abandon Him and fed Him the antidote. Hence, the Resurrection.

That scenario is simply insufficient. You asked this:

"If the Bible was wholly disproven tomorrow, my faith in Jesus would still be there. Can you say the same for yourself?"

What is then demanded is not some book suggesting that the Bible is wrong (which is quite unremarkable), but uncontestable proof to that fact. The above scenario is NO such proof.

In the face of such indisputable evidence, (which I believe does not exist), the existence of the Judeo-Christian God Himself comes to question. And in the face of such evidence, I don't believe anyone can have a worthwhile faith in God or Christ.


In response to my statement, "Faith in the Bible is necessary for any true Christian."...

No, it isn't. It's love of God and love of others.

Again, I disagree. Like many Protestants, I subscribe to justification by faith alone - that man is saved only through his faith in Jesus Christ.

(Buddhist monks could very easily love God and their neighbors. Might that make them obedient servants of God? I like to thingk so. Might that make them Christians? I don't think so.)

At least a limited faith in the Bible (and its gospel of Christ) seems to be an absolutely necessary prerequisite a legitimate faith in the actual man of Christ. One MUST know about His life before one can believe in the man; and, ultimately, the Bible is our only reliable source for knowledge about His life (the Holy Spirit informs that knowledge, but that knowledge initially comes from the Bible).


If "the Word" is *merely* Christ or merely the law, it still remains that one must learn "the Word", and our most consistent, accurate source remains to be the Bible.


Finally, I too am glad to see we agree on a few of the most important points. But I don't think what we're discussing now are trivial details. They may not be *as* important, but they are quite important.

And, honestly, I think what we're doing now is why our faith is so vital, so alive: the free flow of ideas, the open discussion of the important tenets or our religion.
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Old 12-04-2001, 12:21 AM   #36
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Anthony:

It seems to me, actually, that there's not too much to discuss between the two of us: it seems like this situation is merely the irreconcilable differences between a Christian and a non-Christian.

If I may...

I am a Christian. You have "spent a lot of [your] life trying to get rid of any form of Christianity (or any other organised religion)" - though I hope that you are only speaking of your own faith, and not some grand wish to see organized religion obliterated.

I believe Christ is God Incarnate, and that He is thus capable of living a perfect and blameless life. You believe Jesus was merely a man, and thus as infallible as the rest of us.

(As an aside, I believe we're certainly all creations of God, made in his image the way an artist creates a statue or portrait. Jesus is different in that He truly is the Son of God, begotten and not just created, alike to God and not just resembling the Creator. We can all become sons and daughters through Christ, but we must be "adopted" into the family.)

I believe that the Bible is one of God's revelations to man (Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the universe being the other revelations), and you think it's practically worthless, "one of the most misguided and prejeduiced pieces of literature ever written."

And I believe that "Why has thou forsaken me?" is not contradictory, at least, no necessarily so. You simply disagree.

So, most arguments between us will likely lead nowhere. Thus, I don't wish to argue any points, but to my offer my beliefs on points that you raise.

First, I agree that the Kingdom of God is within, more specifically, it is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit - which appears to be attainable only through Christ. So living as a subject of the Kingdom of God isn't "in the Bible", per se. But, similarly, the experience of being at a beach can't be found in a map; but it's difficult to get to the beach without it. The Bible alone doesn't save, but it seems to be a nearly indespensible guide to a relationship with God, making it thus invaluable.

I believe God is a good and creative God, and that His hand is seen in every beautiful thing, in nature and in the artist's studio. But I mean by "the divine inspiration of the Bible" is that God's inspiration was more fully present, and its end was the creation of the most comprehensive and (at least originally) flawless message from God to all of humanity.

I believe I must clarify my observation about the seeming contradictions in the Bible: I do not believe there are actual contradictions within the work God intended us to see - much less a balance between light and dark. I believe that things like the mystery of the Trinity (three personalities in one deity) are not contradictions in reality, just contradictions from our own very limited point of view. I believe if we could truly understand the mysteries and "contradictions" of the Bible, we would find the book to a complete and coherent whole.

I've never suggested believing without questioning, blind faith. After all, faith doesn't save - faith in the one true God does. We should question, and reason, and try to learn everything we can. My point is that wisdom isn't necessary for salvation, and that's a very good thing, as no one would attain. We are to try to understand, but when we hit insurmountable ideas, we are to have faith that the apparent contradictions are consistent in reality - and that everything will be revealed in due time.

Finally, I am a cold, hard objectivist; I believe in a definite good and a definite evil - a force that is a corruption of good, that is separate from good, and that is ultimately weaker than good.

It seems that my belief in separate and opposing forces of good and evil and your belief that good and evil are just two sides of the same coin is the first serious chasm between our belief systems. Under your system, it appears that there can be no sin, thus no need for salvation. Thus, it doesn't much matter who Jesus was, whether He was flawless, or whether His story is accurate.
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Old 12-04-2001, 04:18 AM   #37
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I'm not really knowledgeable enough to contribute to this thread, but I just wanted to let all the contributors know how much I'm enjoying following your discussion.

Oh yes, there's one thing I can add... I'm a member of the (protestant) Danish People's Church, which also believes in the Trinity.
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Old 12-04-2001, 09:53 AM   #38
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As far as I know, the doctrine of the Trinity is widely accepted as orthodoxy by protestant denominations.

Also, I believe the interpretation of "The Word" in John 1:1 as Christ is really the only credible interpretation. See John 1:14 "Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us."

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Old 12-04-2001, 12:57 PM   #39
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'Under your system, it appears that there can be no sin, thus no need for salvation. Thus, it doesn't much matter who Jesus was, whether He was flawless, or whether His story is accurate.'

I must object; my sytem does not exclude the need for salvation, it merely states that the only way of salvation is SELF-salvation. I'm a Humanist, I believe that Man is the measure of all things, hence He is the only one capable of saving his own soul. NOT a religious institution. This has always been my criticism of organised religion; its instituionalised notions forge sin in the minds of its followers. Go to a catholic priest and he will tell you that HIS religion and HIS doctrine is the way to Salvation, go to a Muslim and he will tell you just the same.

Its every single religion with their own individual strings attached, its their own little systems that create manacles within the human brain. Its every single religion that creates their own world of rules, sin and punishment, and how only THEY can save you from it.

Yes, I'm sorry, it is my own faith, but I have always been against it. What I would want more is to have someone on their death bed and tell me truthfully that they have achieved salvation. Unfortunately, for so many religions, salvation is only achieved afterlife; how convenient.

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Old 12-04-2001, 02:01 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally posted by Anthony:
Its every single religion with their own individual strings attached, its their own little systems that create manacles within the human brain. Its every single religion that creates their own world of rules, sin and punishment, and how only THEY can save you from it.
Anthony, what you say is very accurate. To me, the most progressive religious view is held by the Sikhs, who have a "denial that distinctive forms of worship or a separate community identity is imortant to God." Their morning devotions include the line: "there is one Supreme Being, the Eternal Reality. He is the Creator, without fear and devoid of enmity." Furthermore, the first Sikh teacher, Nanak, "repeatedly proclaims the irrelevance of religious communities in the words, "There is no Hindu, there is no Muslim."

I, myself, am a Catholic. But I believe there are multiple paths to salvation. There are people on this board who are Christian, and disagree with me, and insist that if you are to be saved, you must believe in Jesus. I think Mother Teresa put it best, when she said:

There are so many religions and each one has its different ways of following God... I have always said; we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic.

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