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  1. 2 points
    Good evening, I am a Borg- and Spong-inspired justice-focused Christian. I was raised as a United Methodist and felt my faith gain traction and teeth upon discovering Marcus Borg, and also my aunt who is a leftist-Christian clergy! My hope for joining this space is to connect with other like minded people- especially if they are young-ish professionals who are now at home raising kids in a small community which is quite moderate-to-right leaning (although not fundamentalist!) now that's a tall order!
  2. 2 points
    In the NT, it seems like the standard communication method is "feeling something in ones spirit", visions and dreams, though. Like f.e. Peter on the roof having the animal vision, or Paul seeing a vision of a Macedonian man asking him to come over etc. The quotes make my posts look much longer than they actually are I am dealing with a similar conflict myself. The God I know through experience and intuitions etc. seems to be much more of a peaceful, understanding and a nice guy than the God of the Bible, especially the OT one. On the other hand, especially teachings of Paul and some teachings of Jesus heavily resonate with me. So, I am caught in-between of Christianity and something else that I can't quite define. I have tried other religions, it doesn't work, too much of the Bible is indeed my religion and I lose that if I try any other approach. Right now I feel like I'm too Christian to be anything else, but not Christian enough to be a proper Christian either.
  3. 1 point
    Joseph recently posted Living with Uncertainty and I could not help identify this as a form of agnosticism. Anyway being of an agnostic persuasion made, it made sense or most of it, I think. Here is a quote from Bertrand Russell a poster boy for atheism (and agnosticism) which parallels Joseph's line of thought. Perhaps the quote is a bit more aggressive than Joseph's “The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” and another from Russell I think nobody should be certain of anything. If you’re certain, you’re certainly wrong because nothing deserves certainty. So one ought to hold all one’s beliefs with a certain element of doubt, and one ought to be able to act vigorously in spite of the doubt…. One has in practical life to act upon probabilities, and what I should look to philosophy to do is to encourage people to act with vigor without complete certainty. Now I personally would not call uncertainty,God, Love or Being.
  4. 1 point
    At twenty paces!
  5. 1 point
    Just thought that I would post a short history of my time on Discussion Forums, now that I have in effect retired. It has been a personal journey and for me, fulfilling. I'm going back a few years to when I first got on the Internet. Maybe about twenty years ago. A whole new world, at least for me. What do you look at? Pondering, I remembered a Buddhist magazine, Tricycle and wondered if they had their own website. Sure enough, yes, and I found it and looked over a few articles and photos of various Buddhas and Buddhist wannabees sitting on cushions seeking to meditate their way to nirvana. Scrolling down the Home Page I spied the words "Bulletin Boards" and wondered what they were. Perhaps private ads along the lines of "Buddhist, GSOH, wishes to meet like minded for zafu sessions". But no. Investigating I saw that here we had a rich assortment of various people, with "screen names" such as Dharmakara, Lotus Flower and other such exotic titles, all raising questions, answering back and forth, and all sounding quite knowledgeable as far as Buddhism was concerned. For a couple of days I read a few of the threads and then the thought popped into my head..........I too could register, I too could assign myself a name, I too could join in the talk, actually express a point of view. Believe it or not this thought gave me the collywobbles. Did I have the nerve? Seriously, my hands shook and my heart thumped. Nearly fifty years old and the thought of expressing an opinion, even on the relative anonymity of the internet, filled me with apprehension. But nothing ventured, nothing gained. With trembling hands I registered. As a first swipe at the obvious conventions of the media, I gave myself the name of "Dookie", a name my daughter had often called me - I have no idea why. Then I had to decide upon my very first post. There was a deep discussion taking place between two suitably named worthies, posting back and forth on various points raised by the classic zen book "Zen Mind, Beginners Mind" by Shunryu Suzuki, a book they obviously relished and admired. Me, it was one of those books I had found it hard to get into and in fact never really got into it at all. To be frank, it had bored me rigid. Should I say this? Should I step in and have my say? I hesitated but then thought that if I feared to do so and held back, what was the point? So in I went, speaking my mind. I was totally ignored! The conversation carried on around my meagre and rather paltry post as if Dookie was non-existent. Perhaps the fate of so many in this world. But Dookie was made of sterner stuff; what does not destroy us makes us stronger says Nietzsche. Soon I was back on another thread and this time drew a response! Someone in cyberspace had actually read my words and seen fit to answer! Very soon, another thanked me for "making my day" and I have to admit, this almost reduced me to tears. The thought that words of mine had touched another's emotions. From then on there was no stopping me. An English teacher in the USA, in fact a published novelist, sent me an email and told me that I was one of her "favourite voices on the Boards", another asked me where did I get my wisdom from. I never associated myself with wisdom and told them so in one way or another. The fact is that for me it was a question of self confidence, self esteem. There is a thin dividing line between this and pride. I tried, and endeavour, not to cross it. Good to take to heart the words of Honen, one of the "fathers" of Pure Land Buddhism, who said:- "When a scholar is born they forget the Nembutsu". Everything that is truly of worth is a pure gift of Reality-as-is; given, not attained, realised, not earned or gained by merit. Anyway, eventually I learnt that Dookie was a word in the USA used by children for poo, a fact that threatened to tarnish my reputation just a little, not to mention forestall any suggestions of wisdom. But I soldiered on. The Bulletin Boards on Tricycle finally disintegrated, unmonitored they sunk under their own weight of spam, flaming, sledging and insults. So much for Buddhist ethics But I had the bit between my teeth. I registered again and again on various Boards. Christian, Secular, Atheist, Agnostic, Islamic, General, Ex-Christian, Inter-faith and various new Buddhist forums. Two hiccups when once I was censured for a "racist" post ( I had posted of my thinking that Wei Wu Wei was a "wizened little Chinaman" before finding out his true identity as the Irish Aristocrat Terence Gray) and then received a lifetimes ban on another when I crossed swords with the Administrator who took exception to my implying that a post of his was based upon gossip. But it has all been good for me. I have retired from all Boards now after perhaps 30,000 posts or so. In my time I have been called a hypocrite, a liar, the "voice of satan", even the Anti-Christ; I have been called wise and been called stupid. I have been known as Dookie, Tariki, Cobblers Apprentice and one or two other equally preposterous names, as the mood took me. Generally I have sought to be polite and truthful. We can only try. One of my fondest memories of meetings in cyberspace was various exchanges with a guy in Sri Lanka who had ambitions to become a Theravada bhikkhu (Buddhist monk) who eventually thanked me for extending his knowledge of the Buddhist Scriptures. My worst? Crossing swords with a member of a Fundamentalist Christian Sect whose bigotry, which he was totally oblivious to, was, to me, shocking. In the end, as the wag said, "There are only two types of people in the world, those who divide the world into two types of people and those who don't". There is great mileage in the zen advice that if we wish to know the truth then "cease to cherish opinions", simply because, as per the great parable of the raft, the Dharma is for "passing over, not for grasping". For me this has its echo in the Gospel advice not to judge others. From being afraid to say boo to a goose I will now say what I like, when I like. If not now then when? Anyway, I have cut and pasted this from my blog, and the full illustrated edition can be found by those who enjoy punishment, on:- http://mydookiepops.blogspot.co.uk Thank you
  6. 1 point
    Hi Burl, I've only recently found this forum, and this set of lectionaries. I enjoyed reading them from the beginning, including your attempts to stimulate discussion. Having recently grappled (unsuccessfully) with biblical hermeneutics, I was interested in exploring interpretations from a PC standpoint, and many of the readings are precisely the ones that both resonate with me and seem to be ignored or misinterpreted, in my opinion, by many Christians. But I noticed some changes occurred as I progressed through the thread. The discussions have ceased, and the bible version seems to have changed to a modern, 'easy-to-read' one that incorporates its own interpretation, rather than inviting one. Are both of these changes intentional or incidental? Are you still attempting to stimulate discussion, or is this serving a different purpose? I wonder if there are some further details you could offer in your introduction regarding what you hope to achieve here... Previous discussions seemed to get caught up in the idea of an 'original version' of the writings, and the assumption that when one offers their opinion they are trying to persuade others to agree with them. There is a tendency for those 'discussing' to attempt to provide some kind of solid, widely accepted basis for their opinion - but the problem is that no such solid ground exists in spirituality, so this seems a pointless exercise to me. All we can do is share our own subjective experience of the text (which in itself is an attempt to share subjective experience and form a basis of 'truth'), and recognise that there is no 'truth' or 'fact' - only an interconnection of a variety of experiences. Perhaps 'debate' is not how we should approach this particular thread, although I am not so naive as to think it can be avoided completely. I like BillM's idea: perhaps this is an opportunity to offer our personal interpretation of how a particular reading resonates with our own lives and our understanding of Progressive Christianity, of 'God' and of our experiences with traditional Christianity. Maybe we can enter discussions in this thread acknowledging that: - there is no 'correct' or 'original' wording or interpretation of scripture that can be agreed upon; - any interpretation of scripture is a personal one, based on the sum of our own personal experiences including what we think we know; - all we can offer to these discussions is opinion and personal experience, not facts, evidence or truth. Or perhaps I am being too naive...
  7. 1 point
    Somehow the act of attempting to educate yourself on quantum physics makes it not understandable.
  8. 1 point
    I have shared my testimony on other forums of the internet. But wish to share it here as an introduction to some of my experiences and beliefs. When I was a 9 year old boy and loving the Lord, I saw Jesus in all white, dressed as a shepherd on the wing of an airplane while it was still boarding. I erroneously thought someone was playing a trick on me to make me become highly religious. Then I became agnostic and got lost for 35 years. I began hearing, seeing, wrestling with the unseen and witnessing powers of the invisible spirit world. Evil spirits had come into my life as a consequence of my sin. I nearly died at the hands of these spirits - both human and demon alike. I've noticed the humans lose their family and friends. They are scattered throughout the netherworld. They have anger and hatred in their hearts. They are masters at the art of deception. Their evil shall not stop without divine intervention and restoration of the soul. They thirst for all that only a most loving Creator can give them. I've discovered that it is the human condition that we are evil and wicked without God in the afterlife. The soul is in ruins and in need of salvation - divine restoration of the soul. Father God reached out to me and I heard Him say, "the battle against good and evil has been here since the beginning of time." God battles evil by salvaging souls through His Son, Jesus Christ. The Father's voice sounds of greatness not of this world. The room was filled with an ancient scent from a world long ago. God had done this to let me know that He was there in the beginning of man's time. I suffered at the hands of these evil spirits for 7 years until I learned that they were real and hence Jesus as well. This is how Jesus had found me to begin my undeserving vocation to be an adopted child of God. He left the flock to find that one lost sheep when I saw Him on the wing of that airplane 35 years earlier. I prayed to Jesus that He would not leave me here to be evil like these spirits. He put my deceased mother behind me. And the most loving scent of her holding me in her bosom as a small child came over me. Jesus had done this to let me know it was her. He was letting me know that I would be with my mom and that He would deliver me from this evil condition known as hell. I asked Jesus who these spirits were persecuting me. He told me through the Spirit of truth that they were the dead. I could see that they were lost and inquired about them going to heaven. Jesus had sent down the Holy Spirit stopping in front of me and pointing at me. He was telling me that I would make atonement for them. And that He would forgive them of their sins and deliver them into heaven. Jesus is mighty to save. Later, I had a dream were Jesus had removed the anger and hatred from these poor souls hearts. He was informing me that the work for atonement had been done. Then, with His powers going through me, He changed them back because the work could not be accepted until the door to my hearing and seeing them was closed. I am currently working on this. Also, an angel made himself known to me. I've had many dreams and visions, some arranged by God and by the powers of the higher angels, guiding me away from sin, in truth, toward salvation. I thank God for my sufferings and wisdom gained. I am looking forward to being with God in heaven, seeing these spirits restored, and seeing my mom again.
  9. 1 point
    One of the Lindau gospels.
  10. 1 point
    First in a series of public lectures on this topic by a Jungian psychologist. Not theology, but how the Bible expresses universal human themes and archetypes. If you like Joseph Campbell's wonderful work on mythology this should be right up your alley.
  11. 1 point
    A spin-off from the Theism-thread. Let's make this a thread of it's own for more input on the topic: I would be more welcoming for the idea of re-inventing Christianity, if I saw it work in practice the way it's supposed to work. The reality in practice for kicking God out of the church doesn't seem to live up to the promise. The State Church in my country has pretty much done this, embraced the liberal, moralism-focused, humanistic, downtuned-in-supernatural - version of Christianity, and has done a lot to distance itself from more "judgy" branches of Christianity and yet that has done nothing to help the decline in numbers, the decline has continued steady. Also, a necessary note, we are here talking about a phenomenon that is massive in scale, one that is a (maybe even "the") defining phenomenon of our time in the West, so trying to summarize it to be a result of any one factor risks being a grotesque oversimplification. Historically speaking, social and cultural changes of this scale are always very complex in detail, and tend to have many overlapping dimensions going on simultaneously within them. Personally, I have been interested in the phenomenon and studied it a bit and it seems to me that the standard reaction from Christians, when it's brought up, is the blame game. "It's the other team who's ruining this thing". I think such hijacking of the phenomenon for a propaganda weapon against some other versions of Christianity is not a particularly good approach. The statistical reality seems to be that to much of my dislike - may I add - it actually seems to be the more fundamentalist - leaning branches of Christianity that have survived the process better than the more liberal ones. Historically, The United States decline of Christianity, that seemingly begun in 90's, is a curious phenomenon. In Europe, the churches used to be part of the old order, they were the trusted allies of the monarchies who ruled the continent for centuries, and when Europeans finally kicked the kings down from their thrones, their allies, the churches (perhaps deservedly) got their status damaged in the process too and apparently have never really recovered from the blow. On the other hand, Christianity in the United States never had this problem, due to it's historical lack of state religion, and for a long time it seemed to make an exception in the western world. But, that too is now changing, for reasons which remain a bit of a mystery to me. I have some theories, but they're little more than guesses.
  12. 1 point
    Branching off from our thread on Agnosticism, I've wondered what it would take for me to be a theist again. Back when I was a theist, I was an external theist. In other words, I believed in God because of what the bible said, or what the Church said, or what Christianity said. A good, common definition of a theist is someone who believes in God as a supernatural being who is personally involved in our lives. I believed that way for many years, yet, in hindsight, I found little evidence that God personally loved me or that he listened to and answered my prayers or that he had some kind of great and wonderful plan for my life. In fact, I left theism because the evidence for such a God was so paltry. So what would it take for me to be a theist again? I guess it would have to take mystical theism. I mean, consider the mystics in the bible. God personally appears to Abraham and Moses and speaks to them (according to the biblical record). God personally appears to Jesus, talks to him, answers his prayers. Jesus, who is God in Christendom, personally appears to Saul and speaks to him. Nothing in these theistic accounts is "hearsay." These people claimed to experience the personal, living God. And these experiences changed them. That's what I would need in order to be a theist again. I'm not going to trust in hearsay. If God is truly personal (as theists claim he is), then he should personally appear and speak to me. There should be some evidence that convinces me that he exists and is real, at least as a "person" (or three persons as Christians say he is). I'm 58 now. To date, God is a no-show for me. As a theist, I had to trust the testimonies and experiences of others. No longer. I won't hold to second-hand faith. I tend to believe the adage, "The invisible and the unreal often look pretty much the same."
  13. 1 point
    Praying for the sick and going to doctor is not what I meant by supernatural-free theistic practice. That would be a perfect mix of both, natural life and pursuit for supernatural, the ideal way imho. I've met lots of Christians who don't believe that God heals, and don't pray for it. Just for an example. But again, I live in a rather secular place, so I might be biased to think that Christians generally are more rationalists than they globally speaking might be. Now that I think of it, maybe there is not a fundamental distinction, but rather the difference is in intensity. Or in the level of expectation in how much God is supposed to be interested in interventions. Let's take another example from our conversations earlier and use the trinity - doctrine as an example. Supernatural-including version of practice would be there to assume that God will somehow give a mystic understanding of it through faith. Therefore the fact that the doctrine on the surface-level is somewhat irrational, wouldn't be a problem, if there were a path to find a spiritual, mystical knowledge of this seemingly irrational doctrine. A supernatural free version would either 1) confess it as a blind faith - kind of a thing, it just is so without any explanation or 2) would seek to correct the seeming irrationality of it by ditching the doctrine. In my opinion, if all supernatural interventionism is rejected, faith becomes a rather authoritarian concept where things are just believed because someone says so and that's it. I find mysticism to be much more satisfying version of religion, the one I find most worthy of practicing. In mysticism, things that make little rational sense can be often understood in spirit, through personal revelation, kind of as a series of mini-enlightenments. It's neither blind faith on authority, nor figuring religion out rationally. It's just playing on an alternative playfield. I can accept that I don't understand some things I believe in with my brain, but mysticism provides me with an an alternative way, to seek to understand them through personal spiritual revelation.
  14. 1 point
    That was the point ... even today people like Spong are taken as atheists as they do not have a literal belief. Did Spong and others start off with a literal belief? Is this metaphorical interpretation a post hoc belief? Was it for you? Personally I never had a literal Christian belief. Yes we all are to some degree indoctrinated in our beliefs ... I cannot choose to be a Buddhist at least not in this moment. But because of the new insights and better education fewer people have this desire for faith. It is difficult to be indoctrinated into faith when those around you are faithless. At university very few of my associates were religious and if they were it did not show. At work (in a science and engineering type world) there were fewer religious people so it was more difficult to pick up this religion meme. And finally they are not my points ... Those points were a distillation of what some religious scholars/investigators believe we can reliably ascribe to Jesus. There are a large handful. You can find the complete list here.
  15. 1 point
    Not sure how we would measure the present "poor spiritual state" with the same poor state in past eras. Even in Biblical times, you have the people of Israel who again an again and again and again lose faith and create 'false' gods to worship - yet good people still existed and the 'miracles' occurred. And consider Jesus: he was rejected by all - except a small group of disciples and followers (and many ran in his hour of need); talk about a poor spiritual state, yet for Christianity, it resulted in the greatest miracle. So too in any age, there is a mixture of those lost, those who deliberately go another way and good people. On this reckoning, if there was 'supernatural activity' in some of those ages, that activity should be present in any age. One wonders, then, if there was ever such supernatural activity as recorded in the bible. The paradox (and the wisdom) of Christianity is that the spiritual (or God) is not found in another dimension and not found above and beyond the natural: the spiritual is not found in the super-natural. Jesus proclaims the treasure found in the beginning of his public mission: "Behold, the Kingdom of God. " The Jews and Jesus believed that God would establish his Kingdom here, 'this world' would be (become) The Kingdom of God. The paradox of Christianity is that the supernatural is in the natural; it is in the natural that one finds the 'supernatural.' For Christianity, God's is incarnate; he is only found with us (Emmanuel).
  16. 1 point
    In the interest of full disclosure, I was one of the ones who, a few years back, did not care for the 8-Points removing God-language from their tenets, and I said so. My thinking at the time was, "God was at the center of Jesus' life and teachings, so how can we remove something Jesus believed in and experienced, and still call ourselves Christians?" My thinking has changed since then. It will, no doubt, continue to do so. So I reserve the right to change my mind. Nevertheless: All words are human words. None of them are divine, as such, at least not in the way that most religions teach (from the mouth of God). We are the ones who fill these combinations of vowels and consonants with meaning. This is especially true with the words that we have elevated to divine status, such as 'God', 'Jesus', 'Spirit', 'Bible', etc. I doubt that our human propensity to idolize and worship words can be helped. We are, by nature, meaning-seeking and meaning-making creatures, and these words are boiler-plates that we use to categorize our best understandings or descriptions of our deepest meanings. But the fact of the matter is that the word 'God' means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. There is a sense in which I don't believe in the same 'God' now as I did when I was younger. God may not (or may) change, but my understandings and experiences of God certainly have. Knowing this, I was wrong to be dogmatic on who/what God is. Jesus was, no doubt, a Jew, a first century Jew. It is very doubtful that his understanding of God has much to do with the popular Christian concept of God. Which brings me to my conclusion. We have no concrete knowledge of anything. All we have available to us is our concepts. I think some concepts are better than others, that some concepts of God are better than others. But I think we should hold to these concepts lightly and be ready to modify them if necessary. It is much the same with the word 'Christian'. I no longer wear the label because, in the West, a Christian is someone who holds to the Creeds, which mention nothing Jesus taught. I still respect Jesus greatly and endeavor to live out his humanistic teachings, although I reject the mythical aspects that, IMO, have grown up around him. So I doubt I would fit most people's definition of 'Christian.' And that's okay. It is just a human word. If I'm defined these days, it is by my actions, not by my beliefs. I still have my own thoughts about 'God', but they belong to me and are not binding on anyone else.
  17. 1 point
    I too believe Christianity 'overstepped' when trying to come to terms with the divinity/humanity of Jesus. I think it was a human effort gone wrong; I think believers, Church leaders and thinkers were trying to 'capture' or say something about this man in whom they 'experienced' God and lost their way. They were limited by their worldview, by Greek philosophy and by the desire to head off what they seriously thought was wrong opinion. However, harm was done, yet one wonders if Christianity would have made any impact if not for them. I agree that the theophany is and continues to be a stumbling block yet many theologians and thinkers have moved to the ideas that we 'are born to be' the manifestations or embodiments of Divinity. And realizing and living out this reality would/could be incredibly transformative. As to the idea of God doing something about suffering and death in the world, I accept that the latter is inevitable since we are mortal. It is the former, especially the undeserved tragic suffering (cf. Wendy Farley) that is the issue for many. Following others but especially influenced by Farley, I believe she has hit on something important and I believe you have hit on it too: Love which created and by its very nature must 'step back' is immanent, impacting creation. However, that Love must be incarnated or embodied in and through humanity to heal (very broadly understood) and effect a change in the 'undeserved tragic suffering' that robs us of our 'humanity' before death takes us. Source will follow soon.
  18. 1 point
    My son was "warned" at his place of employment that the end was nigh. I've lived long enough to see this kind of thing come around and around every few years. In fact, when I was very young, the film "A Thief in the Night" (about the rapture) scared the dickens out of me, so much so that I questioned my salvation and rightness with God for quite a while. As PaulS pointed out, even Jesus taught that he would return in his generation to establish the kingdom of God on earth. So far, he is still a "no show". Personally, I have no need or use for fear-based religion and, perhaps like you, Joseph, I would simply wait for the steam to run out. To me, there is no sense in arguing with those caught up in end-of-the-world scenarios or fear-based faith. Fear is seldom rational. To me, if/when the end does come, it will be due to our own short-sightedness as human beings or due to the natural course of nature (our sun becoming a red giant). I no longer fear or expect God's intervention.
  19. 1 point
    Obviously the Bible is considered Christianity's 'Holy Book' and many Christians believe it is either directly communicated by God to man, or they think it is 'inspired' by God. Most Christians believe the Bible to be, at the very least, a guide book towards what God wants and interpret variously the messages within this library of books as messages from God. Recent comments on another thread about the Bible expressing key elements about God's relationship with man, as though this Book is the only one that speaks for this man/God relationship, reminded me of this pic. To think that of the millions of years that mankind has existed, that one collection of books from a very limited geographical and cultural perspective somehow holds the key to the universe, is hard for me to accept. Every place and culture referred to in the bible fits within this little red circle and was written within a time frame of no more than 1000 years. I can't help but think that if it wasn't for the Romans taking Christianity on and then colonising the world, Christianity may well have died the death of so many other religions from so many of these other countries. In my country, Aboriginal people lived some 50,000 years without any knowledge of the Bible or believing of a God like that in the Hebrew bible. It seems to me that if God really did inspire the Bible, then he left some very big gaps concerning the history and 99% of the population of the world.
  20. 1 point
    You'll probably be shock to hear *me* say this, Burl, but one of the reasons I became so disillusioned with the church (as an institution) is that because the more I read the gospels and what Jesus had to say about the kingdom of God, the more I became convinced that the koG and the church are not the same thing. I mean, there are definitely hints of the kingdom (as Jesus interpreted it) in the OT. I think he fleshed it out more with his teachings, parables, and interactions with people. Granted, the church has sometimes done some very good things. But I don't see it as a fulfillment of the koG on earth. It seems that, even at the beginning, the disciples believed the church was going to be about who had the most power, who had the best seats. That is far from what Jesus taught, IMO. I've been Baptist, Southern Baptist, Assembly of God, Bible Church, Disciples of Christ, Pentecostal, Pentecostal Holiness, Wesleyan, and UMC. I've learned a lot in each of these churches. I've had good friends there. And there have been some good times, times that I would even call holy. But I've never felt that any of them were the kingdom. As the U2 song says, "I still haven't found what I'm looking for."
  21. 1 point
    God only grudgingly allowed the selection of a king of Israel. Prophets, priests and judges yes but it was the arrogance of Israel which demanded a king. See 1 Samuel 12.
  22. 1 point
    I'm new to this site and am jumping in here without having read everything that's gone before. But someone in another topic suggested that something I wrote there might be of interest here, so I'm sharing it here. This is an argument from personal experience, not theological belief or scientific research. I realize that that approach upsets some, but I think that ultimately everything we believe is based on our subjective evaluation of what we experience (including what we read about technical matters). So, here goes: My view of the physical world is mechanistic, predictable. That if I press the "Y" key on on the keyboard, "Y" will appear on the computer screen. That if I heat an egg in very hot water, the liquid contents inside the shell will turn solid. That the rotation of the Earth will cause the sun to appear to rise in the East. We constantly depend of the fact that a certain cause will have a certain effect. What happens in the physical world is predetermined by what happened previously. Theoretically, every physical event today was the result of a series of fixed causes and effects since the Big Bang. Of course, some processes are so complex it is difficult to imagine that we could gather enough information for a precise, correct prediction. But I take that to be a limit of our ability to gather sufficient data instantly, rather than a failure of cause and effect. I also recognize that quantum mechanics describes a different process at the atomic and sub-atomic level, but I'm not aware that anyone has claimed that this atomic activity invalidates Newtonian laws at the scale we experience reality. But I do find that my experience of life doesn't match this mechanistic view. First, regarding predictability. After reading your post, I considered how to reply. I thought of one approach, then abandoned it for the approach I am now taking. And, as I type, I revise sentences and substitute new words for ones I have written. That's not how the laws of nature work. Nature doesn't correct errors and make revisions in a specific case. My toaster doesn't correct itself if the setting burns my toast. My radio doesn't correct itself if a short distorts the sound. Nature doesn't "correct" a mutant cell division. One could argue that evolution is self-correcting, but that's not because nature "fixes" a specific mistake; it's just that some causes lead to more enduring results than others. Getting "heads" five coin flips in a row is not due to nature changing anything; it is just a matter repeatedly flipping the coin enough times. When I decide this morning to have a waffle rather than an egg for breakfast, I don't think it is reasonable to believe that that choice was determined at the moment of the Big Bang. I think it is more reasonable to think my human consciousness was able to make an unpredictable choice. Second, regarding experience itself. I experience my life being full of sensations — color, sound, taste, scent, etc. And yet, none of these exist in nature. Grass may reflect electromagnetic radiation of a certain frequency, but there is no color there. Slamming a door may send shock waves through the air, but there is no sound there. We have evolved to have receptors of data about our bodies and our surroundings. But evolution has also created brains and central nervous systems that make consciousness possible, but the raw data bombarding us is useless as raw data; it must be interpreted. So where does data turn into the experience of color? Not in the rods and cones of our eyes. Not in the neurons of our brains. There is no physical locus where we can objectively show that data has been turned into the experience of color. So I conclude that experience is non-physical, and that our consciousness is affected by external stimulus, but is not totally controlled by it. Hence, our consciousness enables us to choose among real options, and that's free will. Our choices are limited by physical realities, and our ability to carry out our decisions is limited by our physical location and capabilities. Free will does not, to me, mean anything supernatural, anything in violation of natural law. It is the product of natural processes that created, first, life out of non-life, then consciousness out of programmed responses, then human consciousness that permits our decisions to take into account abstract concepts. So, that's what made me side with free will. But that's not a decision against cause-and-effect. It's an addition to cause-and-effect.
  23. 1 point
    Guys, I've been rereading recent threads and realizing that my perception of them were colored by a bit of bipolar mania. I'm much better now. My posts don't show it, but they were motivated but all kinds of negative feelings. I bring some baggage to this site which doesn't really have anything to do with any of you. I'm prone to a little drama because of this stuff. I see, in retrospect, a lot of really good discussion some of which has had positive impact on me. I'll give it another try.
  24. 1 point
    I know much is said about free will and the self being illusionary but I would go with many things holding the possibility of an illusion. Firstly the mind does not connect to reality. It draws in impulses through the senses to the brain. The brain then tries to make sense of what these impulses mean and then forms a cognitive representation or a map in the mind of what it thinks of the stimuli it is getting. So one can say that these cognitive maps are useful for us to negotiate our way through life but it is also a fact that these cognitive maps are not the actual territory. So the concept of self and free will in the mind may be illusionary but equally that does not mean the self and the belief of having free will does not come from the reality of existence. It just means we cannot be 100% sure of what we perceive as reality being reality in a sense because perception is cognitive we each build our own reality. The mind can also be tricked and these maps in the mind took time to develop. A young baby can be tricked with the presentation of three dots (representing two eyes and a nose) attached to it cot as being its mother looking on but in later life this would not suffice. However, there are ones adults struggle with :- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_illusion Being as we each make sense of the reality we each have formulated in our minds each can come to differing conclusions as to what is reality. Where one can say that free will does not exist and it is the universe unfolding another like me will say that although the universe unfolds we do have free will as to what we make of that and seek to do within the realms of the universal environment we inherit and the cognitive maps we have produced.. Now I do not believe I am going to convince someone that they are wrong because according to their model of the world a thing is such and such but equally according to my model of the world the self and limited free will exists. We each make our own reality and what is perceived as illusion or fact may also differ from person to person. Given enough research all things are provable.
  25. 1 point
    To me, Progressive Christianity means applying the “new story” of science and anthropology to the myths and beliefs of traditional Christianity and thus opening the door to probe for a deeper meaning. It means looking beyond bible inerrancy and dualistic thinking to a more meaningful relationship with God who is always present and active in, with, and through all. Progressive Christianity, to me, means letting go of ideas of exclusivity, accepting that my faith is not the one and only truth. And, by learning of other faiths, enriching my own faith. Finally, it means being allowed to explore ideas that mainstream churches would find uncomfortable, if not blasphemous, and find both tolerance and agreement.
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