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Old 12-04-2001, 05:38 PM   #41
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Ant,

Pardon me, then, for assuming too much from your last post about sin and salvation.

Again, there is a core disagreement between our two systems of belief: I believe (as do most Christians, I think) that man cannot ultimately save himself - ironically from his own ego. God has a good and perfect plan for our lives (one that allows for a great deal of freedom and joy), and man invariably rebels and becomes self-centered, many times for the sake of rebellion itself. Without a Higher urging of some form or another, most would be unwilling to change - and without serious
help from above, such change would be impossible.

That view extends throughout the Bible, and I think that view is realistic: we are nothing and can do nothing without God. Anything we do "on our own" is done with the gifts He gave us.

As a clarification, the idea that the church can dispense salvation is not a Christian one - one that may have been used by Christian churches in the past, but an idea that is contrary to the gospel. Salvation is through Christ; the church is just a structure to facilitate the relationship with Him.

And on the point that only Christians are saved, I'm honestly not sure. I do believe that man is only saved through Christ, but I'm not sure whether that also means that Buddhists can be saved through Christ by following His teachings and yet not knowing or believing the biography found in the New Testament. Ultimately, I won't complain if Heaven is heavily populated by God-fearing men and women of all faiths; but as for me, the only way to salvation is through a personal relationship with Jesus.

And I must point out two things about the last paragraph:

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.

First, many Christians (myself included) believe in salvation as three things:

1) The decision of putting your faith in Christ; from that point on, you're marked as redeemed.

2) The process of growth and development through which we (should) resemble Christ and find joy in Him more each day.

3) The final culmination of salvation, eternal life with God in Heaven.

The second meaning is what makes salvation a life-long process.

Finally, ask any honest Christian (including Paul, through his letters) and you'll find no explanation of how salvation was "achieved". We believe that it is freely given to us while we are UTTERLY undeserving of it.

(And even many Christians have a problem with deathbed conversions. The response is found in Matthew 20:1-16, which basically says that God is sovreign in His giving, that one is not to judge what He gives to those who are late to the field if He gives you what He promised.)
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Old 12-04-2001, 06:23 PM   #42
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As you say, ActungBubba, we will never agree because it all depends on core differences between our systems of belief. The more you respond to my responses, the deeper you root my convictions, and I imagine the opposite if also true.

1) The decision of putting your faith in Christ; from that point on, you're marked as redeemed.

Oh really? So anyone who puts their faith in Jesus Christ will be redeemed? That's very neat for someone who will continue to sin until the day he dies. You accused my system of not having sin and the need for redemption, but it seems to me that any doctrine that will automatically absolve someone of sin and grant redemption at the drop of a hat is equally as morally ambiguous. Going to confession is another ridiculous theme; confessing one's sins, having them absolved all so that they can be free to commit them again, and they do.
Bernard Shaw stated; 'Beware of the man who's God dwells in the sky.'
This is my main criticism of Christianity, salvation comes at the drop of the hat. Sins are absolved during confession, people take the body and blood of Christ every Sunday at Mass, believing themselves to be Pure, God-Fearing people, all so that they continue to sin.

2) The process of growth and development through which we (should) resemble Christ and find joy in Him more each day.

So, salvation comes when we put Christ before actual fellow human beings?

3) The final culmination of salvation, eternal life with God in Heaven.

I take it that you believe that if someone isn't saved, they are doomed for eternal life in Hell?

Ant.
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Old 12-04-2001, 06:57 PM   #43
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Quote:
Originally posted by Anthony:

1) The decision of putting your faith in Christ; from that point on, you're marked as redeemed.

Oh really? So anyone who puts their faith in Jesus Christ will be redeemed? That's very neat for someone who will continue to sin until the day he dies. You accused my system of not having sin and the need for redemption, but it seems to me that any doctrine that will automatically absolve someone of sin and grant redemption at the drop of a hat is equally as morally ambiguous. Going to confession is another ridiculous theme; confessing one's sins, having them absolved all so that they can be free to commit them again, and they do.
Bernard Shaw stated; 'Beware of the man who's God dwells in the sky.'
This is my main criticism of Christianity, salvation comes at the drop of the hat. Sins are absolved during confession, people take the body and blood of Christ every Sunday at Mass, believing themselves to be Pure, God-Fearing people, all so that they continue to sin.


3) The final culmination of salvation, eternal life with God in Heaven.

I take it that you believe that if someone isn't saved, they are doomed for eternal life in Hell?
Ant.
1)Yes, people will continue to sin after receiving salvation, but that's teh whole point of God's grace. God grants us salvation through his grace - it is a totally free gift, because we can't obtain it. We can not be perfect. So, man will continue to sin after salvation. But here's the difference. A person who has truly committed to God wants to do what God wants him/her to, not to sin. The Bible says that we are to seek his will and renew our minds daily. The Christian will want to do the right thing, and will not want to sin. I would doubt that the person who doesn't care if he's sinning or not is truly saved, because when we become Christians, the Holy Spirit takes us residence in us. That spirit influences our desires.

As for Heaven and Hell, the Bible says that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to eternal life with Him. God has provided the way out of hell - it is his love for man that caused him to devise the rescue plan.

If you were drowning and someone threw you a life jacket but you didn't put it on, whose fault is that? Yours.
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Old 12-04-2001, 07:40 PM   #44
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'If you were drowning and someone threw you a life jacket but you didn't put it on, whose fault is that? Yours.'

So are you saying that the forces of Hell are as equal in Power to those of Heaven? Who is subordinate to who? If God is more powerful, than how come It has had to deivse this 'rescue plan' without rescuing Everyone himself?

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Old 12-04-2001, 09:23 PM   #45
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Quote:
Originally posted by Anthony:

So are you saying that the forces of Hell are as equal in Power to those of Heaven? Who is subordinate to who? If God is more powerful, than how come It has had to deivse this 'rescue plan' without rescuing Everyone himself?
Ant.
No, the powers of hell aren't as powerful as God. God IS the rescue plan. Jesus Christ is God, he is the rescue plan. By dying on the cross and resurrecting, he defeated the power of death and hell, and invites everyone to share in the victory with Him. So you see, God did rescue everyone himself. All we have to do is accept it.
Here's teh thing about Heaven. Imperfection cannot reside in Heaven. God cannot abide in the presence of sin, for, as the Bible says, darkness and light cannot abide together. Heaven would be a pretty lonely place if not for the blood of Christ - only God and his angels would be there. And that's not God being "mean" - that's God being who He is - perfection. But Christ's blood does for us what we can never do for ourselves - it covers our sin. Therefore, when God looks at a Christian, he doesn't see sin, he see the covering of the blood of Jesus (a perfect Old Testamnet pre-cursor of this is when the Jews put the blood of a lamb around their door, and when the angel of death visited Egypt, the angel saw and teh Jews were spared). That blood washes away our sin, and our spirits are made perfect. Not our flesh, mind you. We will still give in to Satan's temptations, but our spirits are perfect. And that is how we will be able to enter Heaven someday - only because of the grace of God. That is why salvation is a great gift - God is offering us a chance to escape what is the spiritual order of things - death as a result of unforgiven sin. What a mighty and merciful God I serve!
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Old 12-04-2001, 09:28 PM   #46
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Anthony:

Yeah it is clear that our discussion won't pursuade either of us to change our minds, but it is useful in clarifying our beliefs. At very least, it seems that you have a few quite reasonable misconceptions about Christianity (misconceptions that many, including other Christians, run into).

Actually, you bring up one of the great debates within Christianity itself, one that has not been resolved, and will probably not be resolved until the end of time as we know it.

The position of many Christians is that one is saved through his faith, and the obvious response (the one you bring up) is, well, can't a person just go on sinning then?

The answer to that question isn't clear, but one reasonable answer is this: if your life is unchanged by your conversion experience, you might not have had true in faith in Christ to begin with.

That's not to say that you've lost your salvation, it's perhaps to say that you never recieved salvation to begin with.

It brings the question of salvation full circle: the Catholic Church suggested salvation through good works; the Protestants objected and believed salvation through faith; and ultimately it seems clear that true faith will produce good works.

Works aren't necessary to salvation, but it does seem that a changed life is the logical and expected result of true faith.

"A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them [false prophets].

"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. " Matthew 7:18-23.


So, salvation comes when we put Christ before actual fellow human beings?

In a word, yes.

Assuming one believes that Christ is God Incarnate, it's not unreasonable to put Him first. He's fully human, so you are indeed putting Him over other humans. But He's also fully God.

Two passages worth noting:

"If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:26.

Just as most theologians don't take literally Christ's commandment to pluck out your eye and cut off your hand (Matthew 5:29-30), most don't take this verse literally either. It's to be taken to mean that we should be willing to forsake all others (including one's self) to follow Christ.

"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. 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." Luke 22:37-40.

Here, we are commanded to love our neighbors, but the "first and great commandment" is to love God absolutely. Our relationship to God should be our top priority.

(It seems to me your concern is that one could ignore others in our pursuit of God - to be "so heavenly minded as to be of no earthly good". That risk is there, but any reasonable examination of what God expects of us, including the commandments I listed above, includes taking care of others. We can and should serve others in obedience to God's will.)


I take it that you believe that if someone isn't saved, they are doomed for eternal life in Hell?

To be honest, yes, I believe that there are those who will spend eternity separated from God. Truthfully, I'm not sure who that does and doesn't entail. I suspect that young children and the seriously mentally ill, those who cannot understand the difference between right and wrong, are absolved. I'm honestly not sure about those who had no chance to hear the gospel and those of other faiths who practice charity, kindness, etc.

(Again, if I find Buddhists in Heaven, I'll celebrate. The more, the merrier.)

(At the same time, Christians believe that the only road to God is through Christ, and many of us may believe that several roads lead to Christ. But we cannot be sure. Our safest bet, and Christ's last commandment to us before His Ascension, is to bring as many to Him as possible.)

Without the sacrifice made on the cross, we would all be doomed to our fates of our own devices, eternal separation from God resulting from a constant effort to place ourselves first.

Let me elaborate and respond to your later post:

So are you saying that the forces of Hell are as equal in Power to those of Heaven? Who is subordinate to who? If God is more powerful, than how come It has had to deivse this 'rescue plan' without rescuing Everyone himself?

No, God is not subordinate to the forces of Hell, but He must be consistent with His own personality, and He demands justice.

(It seems to an odd thing to say that "God must do or be thus-and-thus", but not really. It seems reasonable to assume that God cannot be contradictory. And the Christian image of God is further constrained: according to our beliefs, He MUST be all-knowing, all-powerful, unchanging, and good.)

God gave us free will. If we choose to follow His good will, we become His sons and daughters - far more than mere creations; if we choose to follow our own evil path, we warrant the severe penalty of spiritual death. God's sense of justice must be satisfied, so either we must suffer, or He (in His infinite love) had to suffer on our behalf. Free will must still be intact, so He didn't shove the gift down our throats; He gave us the opportunity to accept (and to still reject) the gift.

"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23.

Basically, God couldn't wave a magic wand and make our sins and their necessary punishment disappear. His only options in making us humans sinless were to remove any real free will - or to suffer for us and offer salvation as a free and undeserved gift.

(And I didn't mention it before, but thanks for your input, 80sU2.)
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Old 12-05-2001, 02:37 AM   #47
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon:
Jesus does contradict Himself in a few places.


Minor correction - Jesus did not contradict himself - those who wrote about him did. And there is probably a good reason for that.


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Old 12-05-2001, 03:18 AM   #48
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Quote:
Originally posted by Anthony:
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.
That's not how it is for teh Christian. The Bible says this on the subject:
1)That the way to salvation was provided for at the cross.
2)When you become a Christian, you receive salvation. It is not something you will receive upon death.


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Old 12-05-2001, 10:39 AM   #49
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Originally posted by Thermopylae:
Minor correction - Jesus did not contradict himself - those who wrote about him did. And there is probably a good reason for that.
excellent distinction, and is what i intended to mean.

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Old 12-05-2001, 02:08 PM   #50
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Originally posted by Bathtime Fun Whortense:
excellent distinction, and is what i intended to mean.
Then, by implication, all we have heard about Jesus could be a concoction of contradictions, blurred messages and mere interpretations.

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Old 12-05-2001, 02:14 PM   #51
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Originally posted by Anthony:
Then, by implication, all we have heard about Jesus could be a concoction of contradictions, blurred messages and mere interpretations.
yup. that's a probable scenario as well, although, in life, are things ever at one extreme--literal truth--or the other extreme--complete lies? for some reason, things generally settle somewhere in the middle. where in the middle should be the debate.

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[This message has been edited by Bathtime Fun Whortense (edited 12-05-2001).]
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Old 12-05-2001, 02:22 PM   #52
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Thank you ActungBubba for clarifying those items, however, you forget; I didn't just drop Christianity (Catholicism, to be precise) at the drop of a hat - it happened for a reason, and it happened after five very long years of analysing myself and the religion itself.

The experience made me look into new religions besides my own, new theologies and new ideas; none of them filled me. As a result, I became to know that no Religion would suffice, so I abandoned them. That is why I don't really agree with you when you accuse me of having 'misconceptions' about the religion; I was born into Catholicism and I followed Catholicism, I think I know what it entails. With all due respect, I think neither of us are qualified to attack the other by calling their opinions
'misconceptions', how are you so certain that YOU don't have misconceptions about your own religion, or indeed, about life? I would never deign to call your opinions 'misconceptions' (though I don't agree with them), I would request you extend the same courteousy.

The topic of faith and validity of religion was not my reason for posting originally, indeed, as both of us have discovered, that topic is not particularly open for argument. My intention was merely to state that the Bible, although not wrong, could do with improving, but The Vatican, arrogantly believing itself to be perfect, will not do so. THAT, I admit, is open to discussion.

As to the question of faith and religion, I believe my convictions are right and follow them, while you do the same. I guess we will both know the Truth when we see each other in the afterlife, perhaps you can drop me a note in hell while you enjoy Salvation in Heaven? It would be much appreciated, as I will apparently be spending much of the rest of Eternity there.

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Old 12-05-2001, 02:25 PM   #53
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Quote:
Originally posted by Bathtime Fun Whortense:
yup. that's a probable scenario as well, although, in life, are things ever at one extreme--literal truth--or the other extreme--complete lies? for some reason, things generally settle somewhere in the middle. where in the middle should be the debate.
So, by implication, we DON'T know what Jesus said, we don't even know what is right or wrong in his eyes as he saw them, and here we all are, millenia later, basing an entire religion on misconceptions.

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Old 12-05-2001, 05:33 PM   #54
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I like Jesus.
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Old 12-05-2001, 06:52 PM   #55
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Anthony:

I meant no offense by suggesting you have had "misconceptions" about Christianity. As I said, there are many, many people - including other Christians - that have the same misconceptions.

What misconceptions? Well, it appears that you believe that Christian salvation can be "achieved" (that is, earned), and it only comes after death. It also appears that you believe Christian salvation entails automatic absolution - that a man can become a Christian and keep on sinning.

Again, quite a few people - including many Christians - believe the exact same things, but ANY serious study of the Bible (the only concrete source for Christian theology) reveals that the beliefs stated above are not part of true Christianity.

Granted, I too probably have misconceptions; I try to have well-informed beliefs about most parts of my faith, and surely I am wrong here and there. But I do not believe I am wrong about the following three tenets of Christian faith:

1. Christianity holds that salvation is the free and undeserved gift of God.

2. Christianity holds that the salvation experience begins at the moment of conversion, and is a process of growth that culminates in the afterlife.

3. Christianity holds that salvation, which comes through faith in Christ, must come through a true, life-changing faith.

To think Christianity means something else is, I believe, to have the wrong ideas about Christianity.

Note, also, that I'm not asserting whether Christianity is true. I'm not saying that your misconceptions result from not believing; it could very well be that Christianity is completely wrong about the state of the universe. I'm simply saying what Christianity *is*.

As a final note on the subject, I would suggest that while it may be true that "no Religion would suffice", I believe it is true that a religion may serve as an aid in building a personal relationship with God, a relationship that would be more fulfilling than any other experience one can have.


Concerning the original topic of discussion, I agree it is counterproductive for the Catholic Chruch to stall efforts to investigate and make the Bible as accurate as possible.


Again, I have no notion where the line of salvation will be drawn - who will be saved and who won't. My hope is that we meet in Paradise.


Finally, your response to Whotense is a completely valid point: if one comes to the conclusion that the Bible may be fraught with errors, than you cannot draw many conclusions from the work. Thus, a prerequisite for faith in the Bible is faith that it is somehow accurate (with only a handful of possible errors, the sum total of which doesn't drastically affect the work). You can do so partially on the work's consistency, and partially on the work's attention to detail.

Ultimately, though, it's a matter of faith.
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Old 12-05-2001, 07:50 PM   #56
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AchtungBubba;

We may not have agreed on many things, but I am proud to say that I completely agree with you on your belief that THE most important thing or relationship one will ever hold in this life, is a relationship with God.

Believe me when I say that a relationship with God is what I desire the most, a relation on It's terms and It's will, whatever it maybe, and hopefully, a relationship that I can understand with my limited capability. Yes sir, a life with God, a union with God, is what I desire most in this world, only then will I ever 'find what I'm looking for'.

Thank you for your comments, they were helpful.

Ant.
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