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Offline Ashvin

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Christians Debate Christianity
« on: June 25, 2012, 09:07:28 AM »
Another rare instance in which I agree with ben... this is stupid... the whole thing. RE, I've said it once and I'll say it again - stop trying to be so much of an Online Gossip Hound and Drama Queen and put more of your effort into discussing REAL issues. My decision to purge K's filth from our forum is not a real issue... and now it's done.

Also, your suggestion that Nicole is a coward for not immediately telling someone exactly what her personal spiritual beliefs are, when that person pops up on an online forum and an article about Shale Gas making hostile insinuations about the site, is ridiculous beyond comprehension. That person doesn't deserve an answer, she deserves to be banned until she can apologize or until me, I or S decide otherwise.

The second, as a point of clarification… yes, Christian values duly inform my worldview. If pressed, I would self identify as a member of the Christian left. I do attend church, I raised my daughter in a church, and she is currently employed as a lifeguard and counselor at a Christian camp. That said, I spent most of my adult life trying to unpack with the early church was like prior to the Council of Nicaea and Constantine. Ultimately, what was it that Jesus actually said?  As fine a mind as Thomas Jefferson's has worked on this subject as well. That said, I question Ashton's analysis of Gnosticism, as there was a gnostic strain throughout early Christianity that was consistent with other thought in the Greek/pagan world. There were many early "heresies," including the Arian heresy. Part of the work of the good bishops of Nicaea was to put an end to that shit at the direction of Constantine, so that the newly anointed state religion would be free of squabbling and easier to administer to control the plebes.

Oh no doubt Gnostic strains existed in the early Christian period, and, in fact, probably well before Christ. During the inter-testamental period (between OT and NT), there were a lot of Jewish scholars asking profound questions of their texts. For instance, why did the texts often refer to TWO different types or forms of YHWH, or why did God speak to the prophets in the first person and then suddenly refer to Himself in the 3rd person in the same passage, or was this character "Wisdom" that supposedly sat at the Right Hand of God in Heaven and was also responsible for Creation? Who is the Angel of God that was with Moses all throughout the Exodus and also present with God at the burning bush? The people then were very familiar with their Torahs and came up with all kinds of different opinions for what was going on there.

Of course, a lot of these questions were suppressed or written off as irrelevant by the Jewish leaders after the birth of Christianity (they had no problem with those questions before), because they didn't want to admit that it may have actually been Christ who was found all throughout the OT. The Gnostic strains, however, took those legitimate areas of dispute and came up with their own Funky answers, which just so happened to make YHWH one of MANY Gods that were above Him and a lot more righteous than He was. Gnosticism as a full-blown system of religion only really appeared a few centuries after Christ, though. It also claimed that Jesus was an "Aeon" God from the Pleroma who is higher and more righteous than the "Archon" YHWH, and was sent here to bring us true knowledge of our origins that was kept from the people of the OT.

Offline Surly1

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Re: Christians Debate Christianity
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2012, 10:22:26 AM »
The second, as a point of clarification… yes, Christian values duly inform my worldview. If pressed, I would self identify as a member of the Christian left. I do attend church, I raised my daughter in a church, and she is currently employed as a lifeguard and counselor at a Christian camp. That said, I spent most of my adult life trying to unpack with the early church was like prior to the Council of Nicaea and Constantine. Ultimately, what was it that Jesus actually said?  As fine a mind as Thomas Jefferson's has worked on this subject as well. That said, I question Ashton's analysis of Gnosticism, as there was a gnostic strain throughout early Christianity that was consistent with other thought in the Greek/pagan world. There were many early "heresies," including the Arian heresy. Part of the work of the good bishops of Nicaea was to put an end to that shit at the direction of Constantine, so that the newly anointed state religion would be free of squabbling and easier to administer to control the plebes.

Oh no doubt Gnostic strains existed in the early Christian period, and, in fact, probably well before Christ. During the inter-testamental period (between OT and NT), there were a lot of Jewish scholars asking profound questions of their texts. For instance, why did the texts often refer to TWO different types or forms of YHWH, or why did God speak to the prophets in the first person and then suddenly refer to Himself in the 3rd person in the same passage, or was this character "Wisdom" that supposedly sat at the Right Hand of God in Heaven and was also responsible for Creation? Who is the Angel of God that was with Moses all throughout the Exodus and also present with God at the burning bush? The people then were very familiar with their Torahs and came up with all kinds of different opinions for what was going on there.

Of course, a lot of these questions were suppressed or written off as irrelevant by the Jewish leaders after the birth of Christianity (they had no problem with those questions before), because they didn't want to admit that it may have actually been Christ who was found all throughout the OT. The Gnostic strains, however, took those legitimate areas of dispute and came up with their own Funky answers, which just so happened to make YHWH one of MANY Gods that were above Him and a lot more righteous than He was. Gnosticism as a full-blown system of religion only really appeared a few centuries after Christ, though. It also claimed that Jesus was an "Aeon" God from the Pleroma who is higher and more righteous than the "Archon" YHWH, and was sent here to bring us true knowledge of our origins that was kept from the people of the OT.

Ashvin,
I'll see you Aeon and raise you an Archon, and then I'm out of tricks. I do not consider myself well enough equipped to discuss the "inside baseball" of early church politics without brushing up on the subject. It's been years, and they actually expect me to do something besides make forum posts where I work...

A point which I failed to make in my original post is that, although I attend my church and am in fact an elder in same, I hold little faith in institutional churches or large denominations. (In fact, my current engagement with religion is due to an actual spiritual event that happened in my life, which doesn't bear recounting here.) All of our institutions are sclerotic, including churches. I often wish that, when I encounter atheists or agnostics among the young Occupiers that I meet, that I could point them toward exemplars of faith that were more meaningful for them. They are few.
And any account of my resume would be incomplete without acknowledging that I am a VERY accomplished sinner with an impressive pedigree.

Some time ago, a year or two, I finished reading  Charles Freeman's "The Closing of the Western Mind," which tells of the rise of Christianity through antiquity and the early middle ages. I will confess that I found this book and freeman's premises to be right on time.

Freeman points an accusing finger at early Christianity with the charge that the authority of the church and its political supporters destroyed "the tradition of rational thought" that was "among the major achievements of the classical world". Sometimes in the fourth or fifth centuries, faith won out over reason. This determined the course of Western culture until Aquinas re-discovered Aristotle and restored the place of scientific research in the 13th century.

He traces the complexities of the "historical Jesus", the composition of the Gospels and the nasty series of doctrinal and political showdowns that are usually sanitized under the name of "Church Councils", how Constantine called together the Council of Nicaea to get the Christian churches to stop the doctrinal squabbling. As I noted earlier, I sometimes wonder when in church how many people understand that the “Nicene creed” we recite is a litany of anti-Arian rhetoric, declaring what we believe (v. what we don’t.)

Freeman's main thesis has two parts. First, that the Greek intellectual tradition did not simply fade away but was actively suppressed by the rise of Christianity, especially in the fourth and fifth centuries. Second, that the main reason this happened was political. The Emperor Constantine and some of his successors thought that by throwing the weight of the state behind Christianity, and institutionalizing it, they could turn it into a weapon of mass distraction: it would act as a unifying force, at a time when the empire was under threat from marauding invaders, and be an effective means of social control. It was, according to Freeman, because the bishops acquired political power, and were given a rich and powerful institution to operate, that dissent and the tradition of free inquiry were crushed.

Freeman spends a lot of time on Constantine.  A serious political operative as an emperor, he used the burgeoning Christian communities as a political tool. Constantine turned a religion of outcasts into one of wealthy insiders. He actually had little knowledge of, or interest in, the Gospels or of the requirements for Christian living. He largely maintained a longstanding and enthusiastic Roman tradition of brutality, observed pagan forms and rituals. What few may know is that there is no evidence that he ever attended a church service. His embrace of Christianity appears to have been mainly a matter of political expediency. (It is interesting to observe how much of Christian ritual and practice has been borrowed from pagan sources.)

The book is also good on the development of the biblical canon: it is always a useful reminder, and not just for fundamentalists, to see how happenstance and politics shaped of what many believe to this day to be immutable holy writ. By the year 1000, all branches of science and most knowledge aside from theology had pretty much lost. Most classical literature was largely unknown (and kept alive by Moslems, in enclaves ranging from Iberia to Damascus.). The best-educated people (all of them monks) knew strikingly less than many Greeks 800 years earlier. It took Aquinas, and later the renaissance to reengage rationalism and rediscover what the ancients already knew. Another interesting and cautionary thought as we contemplate The Great Spin-Down.

It is not easy to make an interesting or even comprehensible subject out of the angry controversies about the Trinity that preoccupied early Christians. But Freeman manages it. Each part of his argument may be questionable, but Freeman tells an entertaining story, and on the way produces an excellent and readable account of the development of Christian doctrine. You might enjoy it.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Ashvin

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Re: Christians Debate Christianity
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2012, 10:58:54 AM »
Quote from: Surly1
Ashvin,
I'll see you Aeon and raise you an Archon, and then I'm out of tricks. I do not consider myself well enough equipped to discuss the "inside baseball" of early church politics without brushing up on the subject. It's been years, and they actually expect me to do something besides make forum posts where I work...

A point which I failed to make in my original post is that, although I attend my church and am in fact an elder in same, I hold little faith in institutional churches or large denominations. (In fact, my current engagement with religion is due to an actual spiritual event that happened in my life, which doesn't bear recounting here.) All of our institutions are sclerotic, including churches. I often wish that, when I encounter atheists or agnostics among the young Occupiers that I meet, that I could point them toward exemplars of faith that were more meaningful for them. They are few.
And any account of my resume would be incomplete without acknowledging that I am a VERY accomplished sinner with an impressive pedigree.

Some time ago, a year or two, I finished reading  Charles Freeman's "The Closing of the Western Mind," which tells of the rise of Christianity through antiquity and the early middle ages. I will confess that I found this book and freeman's premises to be right on time.

Freeman points an accusing finger at early Christianity with the charge that the authority of the church and its political supporters destroyed "the tradition of rational thought" that was "among the major achievements of the classical world". Sometimes in the fourth or fifth centuries, faith won out over reason. This determined the course of Western culture until Aquinas re-discovered Aristotle and restored the place of scientific research in the 13th century.

He traces the complexities of the "historical Jesus", the composition of the Gospels and the nasty series of doctrinal and political showdowns that are usually sanitized under the name of "Church Councils", how Constantine called together the Council of Nicaea to get the Christian churches to stop the doctrinal squabbling. As I noted earlier, I sometimes wonder when in church how many people understand that the “Nicene creed” we recite is a litany of anti-Arian rhetoric, declaring what we believe (v. what we don’t.)

My thoughts on this are probably too simplistic, but generally it seems to me that Arius and his theory was heavily in the minority at the Council, and that the majority position of Early Church doctrine ultimately won out. From what I've read and understood about the original texts, this was the right outcome, because most of the evidence points towards Jesus being co-creator along with the Father. I do agree 100% with all of the other stuff about Constantine and the path of Institutional Christianity after his alleged "conversion", though.

Quote
Freeman's main thesis has two parts. First, that the Greek intellectual tradition did not simply fade away but was actively suppressed by the rise of Christianity, especially in the fourth and fifth centuries. Second, that the main reason this happened was political. The Emperor Constantine and some of his successors thought that by throwing the weight of the state behind Christianity, and institutionalizing it, they could turn it into a weapon of mass distraction: it would act as a unifying force, at a time when the empire was under threat from marauding invaders, and be an effective means of social control. It was, according to Freeman, because the bishops acquired political power, and were given a rich and powerful institution to operate, that dissent and the tradition of free inquiry were crushed.

Freeman spends a lot of time on Constantine.  A serious political operative as an emperor, he used the burgeoning Christian communities as a political tool. Constantine turned a religion of outcasts into one of wealthy insiders. He actually had little knowledge of, or interest in, the Gospels or of the requirements for Christian living. He largely maintained a longstanding and enthusiastic Roman tradition of brutality, observed pagan forms and rituals. What few may know is that there is no evidence that he ever attended a church service. His embrace of Christianity appears to have been mainly a matter of political expediency. (It is interesting to observe how much of Christian ritual and practice has been borrowed from pagan sources.)

Rob Skiba, whose presentation on UFOs I posted on another thread, believes that most if not all Pagan Gods were representations of actual living beings on Earth, usually referred to as Nephilim in the Bible. These were very strong, large and powerful beings that convinced populations that they were Gods, in rebellion against the true God of the Bible. He believed Nimrod acted as a central hub for many of these Gods and the myths surrounding them. In that sense, the acts of Constantine and the Roman Catholic Church and all the various secret societies that came after them were really a form of Devil Worship through what we call "pagan" practices and symbolism. Indeed, the Devil wasted very little time in corrupting the teachings of his ultimate Nemesis that was foreshadowed to him in Genesis - Jesus Christ. A lot of speculation involved on Skiba's part, for sure, but it's a very interesting theory with a good deal of evidence as support and it makes a lot of sense in light of more recent developments in mainstream culture - the Return of Pagan [Satanic] Mythology, if you will.

Quote
The book is also good on the development of the biblical canon: it is always a useful reminder, and not just for fundamentalists, to see how happenstance and politics shaped of what many believe to this day to be immutable holy writ.

I don't really buy the argument that the canonical Gospels have been altered over time by political/nefarious forces. If they had been, then it would extremely easy to prove that they were by comparing the oldest known copies with newer copies, instead of just making claims that they were. Not sure if that's even what you were referring to, though...
« Last Edit: June 25, 2012, 11:02:06 AM by Ashvin »

Offline agelbert

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Re: Christians Debate Christianity
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2012, 01:29:29 PM »
Surly1 wrote:
 
"Many people, including folks at church I attend, think that the Bible is the "divinely inspired word of God.” I tend to think it is the product of committee work.)".

Even though I don't attend any church because I am convinced the MIC uses all mainline "Christianity" in the USA for the purpose of cannon fodder, nationalistic drivel and hate mongering of non-Christians (it's really quite Orwellian), I am basically on the same page as you are as to scripture. I agree with Ashvin that the synoptic gospels and John were probably not word gamed but the gaming of everything before and after that stinks to high heaven of hierarchical, dictatorial propaganda putting the priests, prophets and kings up as the only ones with a hot line to God. Jesus Christ destroyed that edifice of genocide justification and made it rather clear that egalitarian human relationships are not negotiable when his disciples were jockeying for position in the presumed hierarchy. Of course the Catholic Church made sure only a small portion of the gospels and selected portions of scripture (proverbs, psalms and happy stories from the old testament) were actually talked about at Church (most people couldn't read so that was pretty easy to do). And then came the Calvinists using a perverted concept of sin to demonize good works so that "Christians" could be free to embrace greedy and calloused behavior towards the poor, disabled and disenfranchised and Orwellian Anti-Christ "christianity" was born and bestrides the USA today like a giant tick.

I had a very long debate with an atheist on the internet who had once been a "christian". He became an atheist when he discovered to his chagrin (he had been a fundy from Oklahoma) that many of the books in the bible had been gamed. I told him he was right but that Christianity is not immune from human interpretation and use for nefarious purposes. The fundy view that we are supposed to be God robots operated by the Holy Spirit is wrong because it negates free will. But my main point is that anyone that tries to turn the bible into the be-all, end-all source for inspiration and behavior is NOT a true Christian. Why? Simply because, since humans were created until now, 99.9999% of them NEVER LEARNED HOW TO READ! Now consider that from the creator's point of view. He/She/It comes up with all this nifty DNA and incredibly complex particle physics that evolves into myriad life forms including mankind. This super smart God makes us and wants us to be in harmony with the rest of creation and each other so He/She/It communicates with a tiny fraction of them to write rules down for them to follow? I DON"T THINK SO.

You don't create a human organism and then forget to put as an inborn trait the ability to read the operating manual for humans. What you do is hardwire the concepts of right and wrong in their OS (operating system).

The fact that clever and greedy humans want to hog titles, privileges and lord it over the rest of us does not mean that God EVER approved of such evil.

If RE and the rest of you (including Karpatok) are interested, I'll post the rather long screed about my journey from Catholicism to atheism to Evangelical fundy  Christian to true follower of Jesus Christ.

It was quite a journey.


« Last Edit: June 25, 2012, 01:33:38 PM by agelbert »
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Offline Surly1

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Re: Christians Debate Christianity
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2012, 01:46:38 PM »
//If RE and the rest of you (including Karpatok) are interested, I'll post the rather long screed about my journey from Catholicism to atheism to Evangelical fundy  Christian to true follower of Jesus Christ.

It was quite a journey.

Agelbert, have enjoyed reading a number of your posts, both here and at TAE. You write and think well, IMHO. By all means, post up the story of your journey. I'd be interested in it. Would like some direction from RE and Peter here-- would it be better to stand up another thread for this purpose, rather than thread-jacking a thread meant for the censorship issue?

Of course, you can always split it off after the fact. Just wondering...
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Ashvin

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Re: Christians Debate Christianity
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2012, 02:33:49 PM »
Agelbert,

I identify with a lot of what you said, and am certainly interested in hearing about your spiritual journey, but I don't think we should allow our mutual disdain for Institutional [Anti-]Christianity to lead us into endorsing things that can be proven to be false. I have gone over this with RE a little bit before, and, when you think about it, it's exactly what the Anti-Christians would want - start casting doubt on the authenticity or inspiration of Biblical texts, and then it's no longer clear what events/descriptions, teachings and theological messages should be considered a part of the True Theology.


Even though I don't attend any church because I am convinced the MIC uses all mainline "Christianity" in the USA for the purpose of cannon fodder, nationalistic drivel and hate mongering of non-Christians (it's really quite Orwellian), I am basically on the same page as you are as to scripture. I agree with Ashvin that the synoptic gospels and John were probably not word gamed but the gaming of everything before and after that stinks to high heaven of hierarchical, dictatorial propaganda putting the priests, prophets and kings up as the only ones with a hot line to God.

The verbal "gaming" of OT scripture, i.e. the Torah, is even easier to debunk than the gaming of NT Gospels. All one would have to do to prove that OT texts have been manipulated by the Church or other nefarious organizations over time is compare the oldest known fragments (Dead Sea Scrolls) to what is currently included in the Bible, and look for significant differences in meaning. Needless to say, this has been done and there are no big differences.

Now, I am pretty sure you mean "gaming" to mean that the original prophets, i.e. Moses and everyone after him up to Jesus, actually constructed the textual records the way they wanted in order to make it seem like they were special, and were not actually receiving their information and instructions from God. From a Christian POV, I believe this assertion is even more incorrect than the verbal gaming argument, if that is even possible. I think this is something a lot of modern Christians might think because they are never really exposed to the OT that much, but almost all Jewish scholars recognize the theological consistency of the OT texts.

Quote
Jesus Christ destroyed that edifice of genocide justification and made it rather clear that egalitarian human relationships are not negotiable when his disciples were jockeying for position in the presumed hierarchy. Of course the Catholic Church made sure only a small portion of the gospels and selected portions of scripture (proverbs, psalms and happy stories from the old testament) were actually talked about at Church (most people couldn't read so that was pretty easy to do). And then came the Calvinists using a perverted concept of sin to demonize good works so that "Christians" could be free to embrace greedy and calloused behavior towards the poor, disabled and disenfranchised and Orwellian Anti-Christ "christianity" was born and bestrides the USA today like a giant tick

I agree with most of what you say here, except the implication that the OT served as "genocide justification". Another misunderstanding of the original texts that is really promoted by the same institutional forces that you rightly believe have perverted Jesus' teachings. There is a reason why the Apostles quote from the OT extensively in the NT, and it's because they viewed those texts as divinely inspired as well. If it was good enough for them (people themselves inspired by the Godhead), then I think we should definitely be hesitant to question those texts ourselves.The only times "genocide" was carried out by the instructions of God in the OT were against tribes and clans consisting of purely evil inhabitants, i.e. the Nephilim and their offspring. From the Flood to Joshua's military campaigns to King David, that has been a consistent theme of God's wrath.

Quote
I had a very long debate with an atheist on the internet who had once been a "christian". He became an atheist when he discovered to his chagrin (he had been a fundy from Oklahoma) that many of the books in the bible had been gamed. I told him he was right but that Christianity is not immune from human interpretation and use for nefarious purposes. The fundy view that we are supposed to be God robots operated by the Holy Spirit is wrong because it negates free will. But my main point is that anyone that tries to turn the bible into the be-all, end-all source for inspiration and behavior is NOT a true Christian. Why? Simply because, since humans were created until now, 99.9999% of them NEVER LEARNED HOW TO READ! Now consider that from the creator's point of view. He/She/It comes up with all this nifty DNA and incredibly complex particle physics that evolves into myriad life forms including mankind. This super smart God makes us and wants us to be in harmony with the rest of creation and each other so He/She/It communicates with a tiny fraction of them to write rules down for them to follow? I DON"T THINK SO.

I think a big part of the problem here is that you are forgetting a lot of the theology involved here. The fact of the matter is that only two humans were directly created by God, and, after being deceived by the Devil to commit the Original Sin, they fell away from God, along with all of their offspring. Since then, it has been a constant struggle for humans to try and return to God, but not by hard-wiring them for Good or God presenting Himself and His Word to every single human that has existed. He carefully chose the prophets based on their lineage (the pure seed of Eve that would eventually result in Jesus Christ) and presented his Word in ways that they could understand at any given time, and could then preach the message to others. As you point out, widespread literacy just wasn't a reality in those times, so most of them had to rely on oral communication.

I will grant you that the whole concept of "divine lineage" has been abused by rulers and kings over the years (although many of the OT prophets were just regular old people), but the fact is that it was a very important part of God's plan for humanity after the Fall, as foreshadowed in Genesis itself.

Quote from: Genesis3:13-15
13And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

14And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:

15And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.


Her seed in this context, of course, is Jesus Christ.

Quote
You don't create a human organism and then forget to put as an inborn trait the ability to read the operating manual for humans. What you do is hardwire the concepts of right and wrong in their OS (operating system).


That sounds a lot like the absence of free will to me... how do you figure that "hard-wiring" those concepts is different than making them into robots. 

Offline agelbert

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Re: Christians Debate Christianity
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2012, 05:32:35 PM »
Ashvin,
I hear you and am willing to discuss all these subjects in regard to scripture, it's origin, it's interpretation and it's possible corruption at different key times in history. I am not a scholar. My views may be a bit reductionist in that I view God as motivated to include the greater mass of humanity in his plan of salvation (harmony here and in the hereafter) rather than the "chosen people" routine that is precisely the hierarchical CRAP that has led to the destruction of the environment, wars, genocide, racism, exceptionalism, etc. ad nauseum.

You cannot have it both ways. The biological model that shows a million sperm exiting a male gland and only one reaching the "salvation" of impregnation is inapplicable to human spirituality but is much embraced by every two-bit club and religion out there including the religion of predatory capitalism (many are called but few are chosen doesn't mean the "un-chosen" will necessarily perish - it means some have to serve more than others). Making people feel special because they are going to heaven and most others will go to hell is not, IMHO, what God approves of.

Your concern with the slippery slope of denying the validity of this or that manuscript is, of course, wise because many out there clearly have an agenda to delegitimize everything in the bible. But the agenda thing works on the other end with the church hierarchy picking and choosing certain segments of the bible to support antichristian christianity too. The fact that we instinctively know right from wrong without a guidebook controlled by a literate hierarchy when most of us are illiterate (the default situation in most of human history) does not negate free will. Just because we know what is right doesn't mean we will necessarily do it. Why do soldiers vomit or suffer severe discomfort the first time they kill another human being (because the bible said it was wrong? I don't think so). Why does a child feel guilty when he/she lies?

You said, "The only times "genocide" was carried out by the instructions of God in the OT were against tribes and clans consisting of purely evil inhabitants, i.e. the Nephilim and their offspring. From the Flood to Joshua's military campaigns to King David, that has been a consistent theme of God's wrath.".

I wish that was true. As they say about water wells, that is a deep subject but I'll give you this one example that departs from the consistent theme of just retribution.

David is celebrated for using the following method to get a group of people to do what they are told (provide tribute, be willing slaves and not make war against David's kingdom):
II Samuel 8:2 "He divided his victims by making them lie down side by side in rows. Two-thirds of each row, as measured with a tape, were butchered, and one third were spared to become David's servants-they paid him tribute each year"

The rest of chapter eight gets into laming about 1,700 horses and killing 22,000 Syrians (Nut-and-yahoo from Israel probably eats this stuff up!) and all this happened because "the Lord" gave him all those victories. Really?

But, just like Israeli propaganda flips around to claim the high ground after being involved in a bunch of war crimes, II Samuel 8:15 is the clincher "David reigned with justice over Israel and was fair to everyone". (The One Year Bible Tyndalle House publishers, Inc. Wheaton Illinois)
GET IT? If you are not one of the "chosen', you are not part of "everyone". YOU are only worthy of slavery and target practice.

And don't forget to review how King Solomon "consolidated" his power.

All this and more I am quite willing to discuss on the thread that Surly1, you or RE open up for this purpose.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2012, 05:42:35 PM by agelbert »
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Offline Ashvin

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Re: Christians Debate Christianity
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2012, 09:55:01 PM »
Ashvin,
I hear you and am willing to discuss all these subjects in regard to scripture, it's origin, it's interpretation and it's possible corruption at different key times in history. I am not a scholar. My views may be a bit reductionist in that I view God as motivated to include the greater mass of humanity in his plan of salvation (harmony here and in the hereafter) rather than the "chosen people" routine that is precisely the hierarchical CRAP that has led to the destruction of the environment, wars, genocide, racism, exceptionalism, etc. ad nauseum.

You cannot have it both ways. The biological model that shows a million sperm exiting a male gland and only one reaching the "salvation" of impregnation is inapplicable to human spirituality but is much embraced by every two-bit club and religion out there including the religion of predatory capitalism (many are called but few are chosen doesn't mean the "un-chosen" will necessarily perish - it means some have to serve more than others). Making people feel special because they are going to heaven and most others will go to hell is not, IMHO, what God approves of.

We are in complete agreement here. I guess the main difference is that I just don't see the OT scriptures as really being as nefarious or cruel as you do. Or, said differently, I think that the OT has been unfairly characterized that way by the same forces who have sought to undermine Jesus' teachings over the last 2000 years. According to me, God's plan for salvation of ALL of humanity through Jesus (the human servant) could not have really worked without the history of the "chosen people" and the corporate servant (Israel). Once we get Jesus involved, it is no longer in the hands of the "chosen people" to expand their influence and bring God's word to everyone else, but rather in the hands of Jesus and his ministry. I believe that it all fits together when you examine it closely. This is by no means something I figured out by myself (at first, I thought the OT stories were quite brutal as well and didn't make much sense for a loving God), but it is a view that I have adopted from a Hebrew/Biblical scholar who I really respect - Mike Heiser.

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Your concern with the slippery slope of denying the validity of this or that manuscript is, of course, wise because many out there clearly have an agenda to delegitimize everything in the bible. But the agenda thing works on the other end with the church hierarchy picking and choosing certain segments of the bible to support antichristian christianity too. The fact that we instinctively know right from wrong without a guidebook controlled by a literate hierarchy when most of us are illiterate (the default situation in most of human history) does not negate free will. Just because we know what is right doesn't mean we will necessarily do it. Why do soldiers vomit or suffer severe discomfort the first time they kill another human being (because the bible said it was wrong? I don't think so). Why does a child feel guilty when he/she lies?

Well, Genesis itself tells us that man was made as God's image, so I take that to mean we are all given the capacity to distinguish right from wrong and choose the former, just as God would do - no Bible or writings necessary. What the OT writings do is mainly just confirm to us that God exists and that we are, in fact, made in His image. The NT of course is much more about the New Covenant that God has made with humanity, but it is still a logical progression from the OT.

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You said, "The only times "genocide" was carried out by the instructions of God in the OT were against tribes and clans consisting of purely evil inhabitants, i.e. the Nephilim and their offspring. From the Flood to Joshua's military campaigns to King David, that has been a consistent theme of God's wrath.".

I wish that was true. As they say about water wells, that is a deep subject but I'll give you this one example that departs from the consistent theme of just retribution.

David is celebrated for using the following method to get a group of people to do what they are told (provide tribute, be willing slaves and not make war against David's kingdom):
II Samuel 8:2 "He divided his victims by making them lie down side by side in rows. Two-thirds of each row, as measured with a tape, were butchered, and one third were spared to become David's servants-they paid him tribute each year"

The rest of chapter eight gets into laming about 1,700 horses and killing 22,000 Syrians (Nut-and-yahoo from Israel probably eats this stuff up!) and all this happened because "the Lord" gave him all those victories. Really?

But, just like Israeli propaganda flips around to claim the high ground after being involved in a bunch of war crimes, II Samuel 8:15 is the clincher "David reigned with justice over Israel and was fair to everyone". (The One Year Bible Tyndalle House publishers, Inc. Wheaton Illinois)
GET IT? If you are not one of the "chosen', you are not part of "everyone". YOU are only worthy of slavery and target practice.

Well, I obviously will not dispute the fact that modern Israel basically uses terrorist strategies against their neighbors and many times the Jewish people may believe it is justified by the numerous battles commissioned by God in favor of Israel against its "Godless" enemies found in their Torahs. But, again, I believe they are completely misunderstanding the point of the scripture, and I believe the current leaders couldn't care less about the point and just care about the wealth/power they can accumulate by remaining in the good graces of the Zionist NWO.

With regards to the story of David's "triumphs", what is really happening here is that David, with God's blessing, has finally decided to take the fight to well-established enemies of Israel who had been invading it, annexing its territory and killing/enslaving its people for many years before. Was David's ruthless tactics the best way to go about defending the nation from external threats? Well, arguably, yes. We have to remember that those times were really much different than today, and there was no Geneva Convention morality to keep nations in check.

Does that mean God approves of torture, slavery and killing of subdued populations? No, I don't think so. But God most certainly does not take ancient populations and try to completely transform them into something they are not at the time of His interaction with prophets. Everything done for God's Glory on Earth must ultimately be done by and through men, and those were just the types of men and the societies which happened to exist at that time. Once we understand that, we should also understand that nothing King David did justifies the belligerency of Israel now, especially when we understand the New Covenant made with Christ! (obviously something the Jews don't accept)

Offline RE

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Re: Christians Debate Christianity
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2012, 12:00:15 AM »
I split this topic off from the Xena Banning thread and moved it over to Spirituality and Mysticism.

Christians on the board now can debate their various interpretations of the Bible and Jesus Christ in this thread.

RE
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Christian Apologetics
« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2012, 02:00:19 AM »
New Feature Article up on the Diner Blog, Christian Apologetics

It features the post I wrote in the fun with Fundies thread, along with a substantial Intro which looks at the problems with Censorship and Banning that resulted from these discussions of Karpatok on TAE.

In the article also I promise to post up a contrasting article from the Christian side of this debate.  AB, since you have volunteered already to write of your Christian Journey, this would be what I am looking for to Feature Next.

RE
Save As Many As You Can

Offline g

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Re: Christians Debate Christianity
« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2012, 04:45:44 AM »
RE Quote "Here is one of the places I feel Christianity sets itself up for Failure from the Get-Go.

If the society cannot support an infant but allows it to be born anyhow, you run into non-stop economic problems which damage the society as a whole.  Nowadays, said newborn would go straight to the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit to keep it breathing and do everything modern medicine can come up with to fix the problems.  Cost: Beyond Belief usually."

How generous of you as societies watchdog to kill an infant because of your analysis of the "Cost" of keeping it alive. That places you in the kill the useless eaters camp as far as I am concerned. Did you ever think that many of your fellow human beings have a much different view of that innocent human being. Many were taught he was made in the image and likeness of god, others believe that he is an integral part of a race that has been Evolving for thousands of years and because of the mere fact of his being alive has survived a natural selection process. Many Roman Catholics are taught and believe his body is a temple of the Holy Ghost and is sacred and anyone who injures it by design is committing a sin. Yet you wish us to believe that your opinion of his worth, or some ass hole doctor that prescribes harmful drugs to most of his patients should decide if it lives. Might I ask if you believe with the new technologies we have today that we should screen the unborn for genetic patterns that usually result in criminal activity, pre disposition to cancer, diabetes,  and other COSTLY  problems for poor society. Who exactly do you think we should murder to conform with your mathematical model, the same one Malthus employed no doubt. This thread is getting as far away from religion as possible in my opinion.

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Re: Christians Debate Christianity
« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2012, 05:18:10 AM »
Who exactly do you think we should murder to conform with your mathematical model, the same one Malthus employed no doubt. This thread is getting as far away from religion as possible in my opinion.

Generally speaking, I think the Parents of the Infant should be the one to decide whether to Murder it or not.  The Parents are after all the ones responsible for conceiving the child and who also would be responsible for providing sustenance for it.  So if they figure they cannot handle this, it is their decision to Abort.  For the State to say they cannot do that because it violates Morality is ridiculous, because the State is not in the future going to pick up the Bill here for the kid.  The Parents have the Bill, so it is their decision to make, not the decision of the State.

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« Last Edit: June 26, 2012, 05:39:07 AM by RE »
Save As Many As You Can

Offline g

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Re: Christians Debate Christianity
« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2012, 06:16:23 AM »
Who exactly do you think we should murder to conform with your mathematical model, the same one Malthus employed no doubt. This thread is getting as far away from religion as possible in my opinion.

Generally speaking, I think the Parents of the Infant should be the one to decide whether to Murder it or not.  The Parents are after all the ones responsible for conceiving the child and who also would be responsible for providing sustenance for it.  So if they figure they cannot handle this, it is their decision to Abort.  For the State to say they cannot do that because it violates Morality is ridiculous, because the State is not in the future going to pick up the Bill here for the kid.  The Parents have the Bill, so it is their decision to make, not the decision of the State.

RE

Even if it is a 15 year old and the boy next door that knocked her up on their first date? How about a depraved couple addicted to drugs or alcohol? What about a rich upper middle class couple that have an unwanted pregnancy? They have decided to kill their child because they have decided they wish to play more golf and don't need the burden, especially after raising one child already. If there are some Christian couples in the vicinity that have notified local charities, hospitals, whomever that they would be willing to love and care for an unwanted child by adopting it would you be opposed to that, or think it is none of their business? Should the state have a say in the decision, and try and protect the life of the unborn? Do you feel there should be laws against parents aborting their unborn children like there are against them leaving them at home for an hour not attended to, or leaving them in a car for twenty minutes while they run into a store for something, or driving them around without a child seat in the car. How strange to me that we have no laws protecting them from harm until their birth.       :please:

Offline Surly1

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Re: Christians Debate Christianity
« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2012, 07:05:25 AM »
You may simply NOT make these considerations on economic terms. "Parents "deciding to murder?"
One of the few things about which I respect the Catholic Church, in which I was raised and received the sacraments until leaving in disgust over serial positions and events, was the respect for human life. At least human life in the womb.

I love the hypocrisy of our "Christian nation;" we will go to the mat to preserve life in the womb, even murder abortion doctors, but once you pass the birth canal, kid, Fuck You. You're on your own.

The Catholic Church has spun itself into knots over the death penalty and, of course, the "just war" doctrine. Another rant for another time.

Want to terminate a troubled pregnancy? I offer you two words: Stephen Hawking.

A personal note: the women with whom I live, and love, found herself a pregnant 15 year old who ran away from home, to California, to obtain an abortion. She secured a friend's birth certificate and passed herself off as a 19 year old. She found herself in a variety of highly bizzarro-world experiences, was invited (and declined) to make porn movies, and found herself on the receiving end of a rape attempt. Through a series of completely undeserved events she found herself in the care of a couple who took her in, and, while resting from the ordeal of her assault,  called her frantic father who had spent weeks trying to find her. She returned to her home and gave birth to a son, who in turn has provided her with a grandson who is the light of her life.

It proved that this would be the only child she would ever bear, as she later found she had endometriosis, and had a hysterectomy at 29. And menopause at 30.

Some might find this an amusing tale. She finds it traced by the Finger of God. Had she followed through on her plan, she would not have had her son or grandson.

Human judgment is fallable and limited. God's grace is not. I see the Hand of God writ large in her story, and in many lives.

For the record, I also see God's Grace in the phrase, "Save As Many As You can."

Maybe I've had too many pops at the Diner bar. But I don't think so.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Ashvin

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Re: Christians Debate Christianity
« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2012, 08:24:28 AM »

Human judgment is fallable and limited. God's grace is not. I see the Hand of God writ large in her story, and in many lives.

Very nicely put, Surly.

GO and Surly are right here, and not just because I agree with Christian morals. There are so many factors wrapped up into your "benefit cost" analysis for aborting babies in modern society it's incomprehensible to think that we, even as the parents, can figure out when it's the "most optimal" decision.

And how many times do you think the decision for abortion really plays out like that? How often is it done just out of convenience for the parents or out of a desire to save excess money, time and effort. How many times is the mother forced into it by the father?

I do think parents should have more control over their kids than the State, but not to the point where they are allowed to KILL the kid. To me, it doesn't matter if it's in the womb or it was just born a week ago - there is no qualitative difference between the act (unless that rare exception I talked about earlier comes into play).