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AnneInTX

How To Let Go Of Fundamentalism

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I'm in my 70's and realize my life won't last too much longer. Ever since high school I've questioned what I was taught in my small-town Southern Methodist church and would describe myself, intellectually, as an agnostic of Christian background. I infrequently attend a fairly liberal Protestant denomination in the South but am not wholly pleased with it.

 

But I have always had this nagging fear that perhaps "they" (the fundamentalists) are right, and chances are I won't make it into eternal life because of my lack of belief. I'm not a bad person (no murders, no petty theft since grade-school days, totally faithful to my spouse, etc.), but I do have a few areas of less-than-perfect behavior, although nothing that I don't see in hundreds of my friends and acquaintances. But my greatest sin, as I understand fundamentalist theology, is my lack of faith.

 

How can a person who sees the Bible as man's fairly inadequate attempt to discover God, a person who is not at all sure that there was a divine creative force, a person who regards Jesus as one who was probably trying to find a way to deal with the Roman rule rather than establishing a new religion (and here I'd add that what little we know about Jesus is really not enough for me to be at all certain of what his purpose was...seems to me Christianity is more about Paul's beliefs than those of Jesus)...

 

...how can such a person rid herself of the fear of hell and face the end of her life with calm acceptance?

 

My Catholic friends say to confess my sins, my lack of belief, and if it is an honest confession, I'll be forgiven. But how can I make an honest confession to something I do not believe exists? How can one believe what one simply does not believe?

 

This may seem unimportant to you readers, but it has always been a major problem in my life. Any response would be welcome.

 

 

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You have posed the most fundamental existential question for everyone.

 

“Do exactly what you would do if you felt most secure.”

Meister Eckhart

 

The above quote is from my favorite Christian mystic. When I am troubled by doubt and uncertainty I bring this quote to mind.

 

My spiritual life is not an accumulation of beliefs, which many people call “faith”. I see faith as a “truth sensor”, or an ability to weed out blind obedience to some belief from authentic truth. There is no need to be “forgiven” for leading an authentic life.

 

Peace.

Steve

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I'm in my 70's and realize my life won't last too much longer. Ever since high school I've questioned what I was taught in my small-town Southern Methodist church and would describe myself, intellectually, as an agnostic of Christian background. I infrequently attend a fairly liberal Protestant denomination in the South but am not wholly pleased with it.

 

But I have always had this nagging fear that perhaps "they" (the fundamentalists) are right, and chances are I won't make it into eternal life because of my lack of belief. I'm not a bad person (no murders, no petty theft since grade-school days, totally faithful to my spouse, etc.), but I do have a few areas of less-than-perfect behavior, although nothing that I don't see in hundreds of my friends and acquaintances. But my greatest sin, as I understand fundamentalist theology, is my lack of faith.

 

How can a person who sees the Bible as man's fairly inadequate attempt to discover God, a person who is not at all sure that there was a divine creative force, a person who regards Jesus as one who was probably trying to find a way to deal with the Roman rule rather than establishing a new religion (and here I'd add that what little we know about Jesus is really not enough for me to be at all certain of what his purpose was...seems to me Christianity is more about Paul's beliefs than those of Jesus)...

 

...how can such a person rid herself of the fear of hell and face the end of her life with calm acceptance?

 

My Catholic friends say to confess my sins, my lack of belief, and if it is an honest confession, I'll be forgiven. But how can I make an honest confession to something I do not believe exists? How can one believe what one simply does not believe?

 

This may seem unimportant to you readers, but it has always been a major problem in my life. Any response would be welcome.

Anneln,

I understand how you feel, I went through many changes in my beliefs when I had time to research history, the Bible and what I discovered being on message boards the last few years. I was raised and a RC for over 50 years, and still am. I haven't been to a confessional for a few years now, and won't ever again. I see it now as a way to get some spiritual advice, but when I went last time, he was in such a hurry and there was only one other person there. I said never again. Maybe he had a bad busy day or was new I don't know. I think we can just feel sorry about the mistakes (not sins) we've made in life, God knows how we feel. The one thing the Priest did say is don't confess anything you might of already , and that is it , we need to let it go, and learn to forgive ourselves, so in a way he was wise when he shooed me away, and my scrupulous ways. We have already been forgiven of anything we have apologized for or felt bad about.

 

Being a RC were not fundies, but I've seen and conversed with many over the net, and some here might be able to help you with that.

 

I believe Jesus is a human being , very inspired man of God of gave his life to teach us his ways. So I follow Jesus and his teachings, love God and your neighbor, and I worship the same God he did and does. His Father and our Father.

 

I also feel the Bible is wrote by men from different eras and cultures, and with different agendas in mind, some political, and some for control, but there is also much inspirational in it, the lessons of Jesus, parables, and the Psalms, I see the virgin birth as the birth of a new religion created by Paul (Rome) as well , but Jesus did bring us a new way of looking at God , as peace, not fighting. I do believe there was a historical Jesus who had a following large enough to upset the Romans to get hung on a tree, and his message of peace is not the type of Messiah most Jews were looking for.

 

I know at this stage in our lifes its hard to come to the realization of some things, I've lost many a nights sleep over this, but I'm so glad I heard Bishop Spong and a few others that It has made a huge difference , for the better , in my spiritual walk. I hope you can find peace too.

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I doubt there is any easy answer AnneInTX.

 

I too have had these nagging thoughts, particularly around 4 years ago when I was having a little breakdown of sorts. Like you, I was left questioning myself how I could 'make' myself believe something I didn't believe in. I simply couldn't.

 

I think also like you, I'm a relatively sincere and conscientious person, but with plenty of blemishes throughout life.

 

For me, I have resolved it by handing it all to 'God'. I wrote a letter to God explaining why I simply couldn't believe the fundamentals I had been raised on. Why all of those things made no sense to me. Why it didn't make sense to me that God would allow me to be created, tested on this earth by supernatural evil agents possibly leading me away from God, only to result in being sentenced to an eternity of pain and punishment. I told God that I genuinely think that love and compassion are true values to practice and aspire too and that I would continue to try and live out my life this way. But at the end of the day, if that is not enough for God, then He would just have to send me to Hell.

 

By the time I had finished me letter, I felt very much at ease with this God. To clarify & read my thoughts on paper helped me to feel a release from the grip of these harmful thoughts of an angry, judging God. It just doesn't make any sense, and so I let it go.

 

I hope you find some degree of peace. You are loved and that is all that matters. Don't let people stuff it up for you!

 

Cheers

Paul

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Hi AnneInTX

 

Those feelings are very natural, and they're built into the whole system. It is designed to bring doubt, guilt, and fear if questioned.

 

I recall once reading Mark 9:42 (which I had read many times prior) but one time it hit me differently. It says "If anyone causes one of these little ones--those who believe in me--to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea."

 

I realized that I am one of those people who cause little ones to stumble. I ask tons of questions and cause fundamentalists to think about things they were blissful not to care about prior. But I feel like we're better to have humility (even if it is knowing nothing for sure) instead of forcing made up BS (thats Belief Systems not Bull Shi....:-) on everyone else that causes war, biases, and myopic contentions.

 

Anyway, today I think that God (for whatever that may mean) would more likely be glad that we are seeking truth and not following mindlessly, while also helping people understand that he isnt that bearded wildman from the Old Testament (I think "he" must hate that rep). Maybe God really likes people like us who think deeply and seek truth at all costs? Maybe he's guiding us to break the mold? Now there's a thought ;-)

 

Eric

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Hi AnnelnTX,

 

I'm not far behind you in years. I can only say to you as Paul is recorded saying....

 

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate me from the love of God, which is in Christ .

Now it doesn't really matter to me whether Paul really said that or not. Nor does it matter whether fear is present in me or not.... I believe it is true regardless because it speaks to my heart of the one in whom i live and have my being and i am persuaded that nothing including any actions of this creature here that may seem imperfect to one who is in the flesh is able to separate me from that of which i am a product.

Joseph

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Anneln I pay respects to the Divinity within you that has guided you to such a holy place. I respect the courage in you to follow that inner voice that is.

 

Steve thank you for bringing up Meister Eckhart who is a great Christian Mystic. I like him too because he explains what I feel inside. He said in one of his sermons, "Cherish in ourself the birth of God, and with it all goodness and comfort, all rapture, reality, and truth will be yours."

 

A fact of evolution is that we live to die because as soon as we are born, we are dying. I am like you and Joseph near a new beginning. What is the next step for our species? Physical or mental improvements will only prolong our ultimate end death, but spiritual awakening will lead us to eternal life. In those who are most alive, the life of the body is subordinate to a superior life that is within the self. These individuals surrender to a far more abundant vitality, a consciousness that lives on levels that cannot be measured or observed. Science has defined the conditions of life, but they are more like the conditions of death. Without oxygen, it's death; without proper temperature it's death; too much or too little atmospheric pressure and its death; too much or too little food or water and it's also death; these are the conditions of death, not life. These are the boundaries of our life, a life in prison.
In Reality the infinite is undivided. It is one, but it has the ability to be infinite and finite. This is God the Son, the Christ consciousness in the finite that brings us back to life. Enjoy life, death and the flow in and out of the eternal reality. Love your journey I can relate to it.

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Hi Annein, I think your question is important. I used to be a fundamentalist and I know it is hard to challenge such things that one has brought up to never challenge.

I could go with a history of the bible and how it came into being and the differing groups that existed in the early years and their take on things. I could go with the huge number of biblical contradictions and its often inconsistency. I could go with how I believe Jesus differed from Paul. I could go with some of the terrible things that the bible said God did and the fact there is little evidence that many of these things ever occurred. I could go into the psychology behind fundamentalism in many faiths.

 

Yet, for me the fundamental question was is God righteous and loving? If the answer for you is yes then ask how a righteous and loving being could eternally punish someone in hell based upon a belief. How God needed a cruel death of someone in order to forgive and could not just forgive. How some of the many loving people of so many points of view and faith could be overlooked by a loving God. For me to contemplate a love without questioning the hardheartedness of the fundamental views I had been taught was something I could not do today.

 

I still get the pangs of concern on occasions as this was what I was brought up to do, but each time I find if I ask myself the above questions and then I personally find it hard to contemplate the idea of the fundamentalist view of God as either righteous or loving and not one I can support any longer. One then (IMO) has to be true to oneself or be false to oneself.

Edited by Pete
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I think this is an excellent question, as well as an important one.

 

If you are up to reading a book, see if your library has "Universalism, the Prevailing Doctrine of the Christian Church During Its First Five Hundred Years: With Authorities and Extracts" by Dr. J. W. Hanson. (If not, Amazon.com offers it for about $10.)

 

Among the conclusions offered by the author (who was well respected for his work in biblical Greek, and while the book is somewhat dated, my bishop reports to me, the author wrote a frequently used lexicon for graduate students to this day) are that a number of critical terms were mistranslated as the prevailing language switched from Greek to Latin.

 

Such as? The concept of eternal damnation!

 

Dr. Hanson builds what I find to be a convincing case that Universalism was actually the founding belief in early Chrsitianity (meaning during the first four centuries - by about 500 c.e. it had largely completed the shift into the concepts which we have inherited). This means that you are on very solid ground believing that the earliest beliefs held across the early Christian movements were far removed from ideas such as "eternal damnation" and the whole "eternal fires of hell" messages which are so popular in some churches today.

 

Hell and eternal damnation have much more to do with controlling the general population, than they have to do with the original teachings of Christianity.

 

At its core, these ideas come from a combination of the Latin and pagan influences, and a strong feeling there was a need to "control the barbarians" through fear of what may come after physical death. Hanson offers a number of quotations from church fathers which read to the effect that what they personally believe, and what they say publically, are often different. And the themes of "eternal damnation" is among those for which this was frequently true.

 

If you only have about half an hour, and have not already, you may wish to watch this sermon offered by Bishop Spong:

 

 

+Spong gives a very concise and informative presentation of the way people understand the bible. One of the "take away" ideas is that the bible is not really God speaking to us, but rather, the bible is a collection of stories which demonstrate how we relate to God. In other words, the bible is *not* a Top-Down communication, but is instead a Bottom-Up effort to grasp the meaning of the Divine as it applies to our own life.

 

James Fowler speaks of this in his excellent book "Stages of Faith." The level of our consciousness greatly influences our thoughts and how we interpret the world around us. This includes our interpretation of God. (All of Miller's talks come to this point in one way or another.) A tribal god hates the same people we hate. But Jesus spoke of his Abba, who is a God of Love. Contrasting these ways of seeing the world, we see a progression across the bible, which reflects the level of consciousness of those persons writing the various books and letters of the bible, and of their audience. (+Spong speaks to these points.)

 

As humans we have limitations. And to damn us for being human, over which we have no control, is a very un-Godly act! ;) Therein, I personally think your answer is to be found.

 

And if you like watching extremely good lectures, I find I always recommend watching the eight talks that the late Prof. Ron Miller gave to the Theosophical Society over the years:

 

http://www.ronmillersworld.org/updates/eight-talks-from-the-theosophical-society/

 

All of Miller's lectures are amazing and they always challenge me to raise my consciousness to a higher level. While all of his talks are extremely good, and I recommend them all without reservation, with regard to your question you may find starting with these speak to your heart most directly (just my opinion):

 

A Very Different Christian Story

Unpacking the Parables

Guess Who's Coming to Diner: The New Pluralism

The Gospel of Thomas

 

But what about "Faith"?

 

Prof. Ron Miller speaks to this point in "A Very Different Christian Story." Read the book of James. It is not very long. James is purported to have been Jesus' brother. Maybe. Maybe not. We cannot know for certain, but what some do say (including Miller) is that the "voice" of the author of this book sounds a great deal like that of Jesus. So we might reasonably conclude the author was close to the teachings of Jesus.

 

What is interesting is the emphasis on what we *do* and specifically how this stands in contrast to what we *believe.* I find this quite interesting, and it is one of the books in the bible I suggest Fundamentalists read when they are willing to consider the strength of the "Faith Alone" argument. For my part, I think the "Faith Alone" argument fails. But read the book of James, consider what Prof. Miller has to offer, and place this in perspective with works such as Dr. Hanson's "Universalism" or +Spong's many works, and see what conclusion you come to.

 

And by all means, follow up your original post if you like. This is an important topic, and I'm sure there are many who have similar thoughts and feelings but who have not expressed them publically. To do so takes guts! :)

 

And know that you are blessed!

Erik+

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AnneInTX,

I feel like your question is a core question in all of those who are of the Universalist though or those who are of Fundamental thought and end up questioning their faith. And it is not bad to be either of those two things.

 

Though I agree with Pete and FrErikWeaver's point of views, I'd like to reiterate that 'faith' as we know it is a degradation of what it initially meant. The definition of faith in current terminology is to believe in what the speaker religion is / believes in. Of course, Fundamentalist believe that their belief / faith is the only way.

 

The definition of faith should be to believe in goodness and that everything will be alright because God is a loving individual, regardless of one's beliefs, race, gender or background. I feel Fundamentalist follow traditional thought of yesteryear (and the inevitable manipulation of that and it's own degradation) and thus ask you to 'have faith' in their understanding. But having faith that God is not vengeful, spiteful and lusting for blood sacrifice; and thus accepting of all mankind can be comfort enough that we are loved and blessed no matter what.

 

Hope that helps.

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I think all faith goes through a process of synthesis. In Christianity it grows from Jesus' Jewish teachings on Judaism to Paul and his (IMO) helonised version of things through to the establishment of the orthodox opinion by the church. Then through to the focus of the faith being on the church to faith being based on the assembled bible through to what I understand now as faith in the spirit of Christianity. Also given the early viewpoints of the Gnostics, Ebonites, and so many others groups it is hard to say what was the initial meaning. I have strong doubts that what Jesus saw as faith and that which Paul taught as being the faith of the Christ are two very differing things. In this view I would suggest all perspectives today including fundamentalism are a degradation of the initial meaning. How one sees one perspective depends strongly upon where one is standing within the story and its development.

For fundamentalism its basis is on Paul and the innateness of the bible which took years to formulate. For the Liberal/Progressive Christianity it is the belief on the influence of the spirit that spoke to all long before anything was written and the continuing growth of the insights into that spirit today.

In short I do not see fundamentalism as being any more closer to the initial meaning of Christianity, no matter how strong that voice is today. The faith's earliest focus was on Judaism and its initial followers were Jews following that religion. What we have today maybe based on some of the teachings of the early church but what we have made of them is based on the developing history of the faith. In short I personally do not see a Liberal/Progressive Christian as anymore or less a degradation than fundamentalist Christianity is today. Between the two one can either assert that the whole bible is God's word despite the fact that neither Jesus or his Jewish followers had such a book and the connection to the writers of the bible cannot be proved and took place some time afterwards or we can say the same spirit speaks to all and just it did in the past and we listen and speak about our faith with our limited understanding as did those of the past did with the bible.

Its all about perspective (IMO). I think faith grows with further understanding. I see fundamentalism as a resistance to further understanding, but that is just my opinion.

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Pete thanks you summarized that very well. We have different levels of Christianity depending on what we are working on in our being. In my view Jesus's kingdom was not of this world so he set out to liberate people from their bodage to the physical world and selfish desire so they may have a new and intimate relationship to God. The followers endured many trials in proportion to the new energy and joy they experienced in their Spirit. I feel Jesus formed a community of the Spirit of God and a new reality using the mysteries and parables to teach. The kingdom was and is always present to the one who unites human and divine in the present moment of the self. On the contrary, many Christians find that radical because literalism has become so widespread. I feel many have awakened not only because science has shown that the universe is begger than literalist accounts, but because it misses the spritual depth of the teachings Christ was imparting.

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I read your post today about fundamentalism. I think as we see the end of life nearing and we experience the end of life in our family and friends it causes us to think of the unknown door of death. It is startling to think about. As you hear the debate about eternity it is healthy to examine your own belief system. What if I'm wrong about heaven and hell? You brought up a good point about whether you are good enough or not? I just wanted to give you a side that you did not read in this discussion. Who is Jesus Christ?

He said he was the only way to God and the only way to salvation. He made bold claims. He claimed equality with God. He was either who he was or he was the biggest religious liar who ever came on the scene. If I believe that it doesn't matter what I believe and there is no judgment and Jesus Christ is who he says he is, then yes I should fear because I'm in trouble. But if Jesus is just someone's invention then no one knows for sure. This is a fundamental question that one should not take lightly and one should contemplate and research. Don't just listen to those who set themselves up as judges of the Bible. They have an ulterior motive in discrediting the Bible. Many want to live anyway they please with no consequences. I really believe that this is all a moral question.

Do we need a Savior? Is there a God who has revealed himself on the pages of Scripture or is the Bible a product of human invention in which we cannot trust. If so then we have no truth and we have no foundation. I say we can trust the Bible and it is not a product of human invention. Just look at the prophecies that were fulfilled in the lifespan of the writing of the Bible.

I think you are on the right track with giving credence to the fundamentalist position. Jesus says unless you repent you will perish. Turning from my sin and turning to faith in Jesus Christ is salvation and is what life is all about. I must realize that I'm not good enough to go to heaven and that Jesus was the only perfect person who paid my sin debt. This teaching is offensive to those who don't believe because it strips all pride away. We need God and we need a Savior because we are sinners in need of redemption.

Just wanted to add this because it is a matter of the soul. What will it profit a person if they gain the whole world but lose their own soul or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Jesus Christ)

Thank you

Rick

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Hi Rick,

 

It seems to me you have used the "either" "or" logic in your above post. You say "He was either who he was or he was the biggest religious liar who ever came on the scene." (Jesus)

 

In my view, you seem to have discounted other alternatives. Perhaps all that is attributed to what is recorded as Jesus saying is not actually what Jesus said? That would not make him a liar since he is not credited with writing anything himself concerning his words. One would have to believe the Bible is inerrant to make the case you do. Personally, i do not accept it as such.

 

Just saying....

Joseph

 

PS I think you will find this thread by Progressive Christians interesting and applicable to your claims --> . The Bible as innerrant.

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For me, the 'Liar, Lunatic or Lord' argument seems a bit simplistic and overlooks the many alternatives. Firstly, it's quite likely that Jesus didn't say or do many of the things attributed to him. With the earliest Gospels not being written until decades and decades after the death of Jesus, I think it's very likely that there has been some poetic licence taken in the time between the life of Jesus and the writing of these Gospels. I'm sure the writers had the best intentions in mind, but that doesn't make it right.

 

Secondly, as Joseph points out above, the either/or logic used when considering this statement makes no sense. Jesus could just as easily have been 'Lord' (or Teacher/Master) to many, whilst still incorrectly holding an immediate apocalyptic view of the world. It is clear that Jesus believed the end of the world was nigh (despite a later addition in the NT to try and make up for this prophecy not coming true by trying to turn a day into a thousand years), but this apocalypse did not occur within the existing generation. Does that make Jesus crazy or did he simply, hold a strong belief in something which wasn't actually true? Similarly, I don't think fundamental Christians are 'crazy' for holding their beliefs, and many of them are wonderful people. So I don't have to decide one or the other.

 

I think the most logical approach is to consider Jesus within the context of his time and in the spirit of which the people at the time would have received him. Also, consider the Bible in it's entirety and the contradictory statements concerning eternity in Hell (if you believe as Rick seems to above) - elsewhere in the Bible God declares that he will never abandon us and that he is everywhere. Clearly, going to a miserable eternal hell absent of God contradicts these statements

 

But to cover biblical contradictions, philosophical arguments about Jesus' 'Godship', and biblical scholarship would require much more than I have room for here. There is a wealth of scholarly material concerning the bible and Jesus out there and it takes a person a long time to read and study these various works. Some may find it much easier and much more secure just to swallow what's preached at their pulpit without question, or to happily live in ignorance to the well-documented alternatives concerning an understanding of Christianity. My prayer would be that God will help them see the light and direct them toward a better understanding of Jesus, God, and the Kingdom of God - I think the world would be a better place for it.

Edited by PaulS
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To carry on with the alliteration of 'Liar, Lunatic or Lord' - I think we can an add legend (in the sense of myth) ... and here I use myth in a positive (Campbellian) sense.

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To carry on with the alliteration of 'Liar, Lunatic or Lord' - I think we can an add legend (in the sense of myth) ... and here I use myth in a positive (Campbellian) sense.

 

Hey Rom,

 

I'm reading an excellent book at present by biblical scholar Bart Erhman (Did Jesus Exist?) who disposes of the mythicist view that Jesus didn't actually exist. His evidence for the existence of Jesus is compelling. That said, whilst the evidence for his existence is strong, Erhman points out that next to no evidence is available of him being regarded as a cosmic saviour by his followers in his day.

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Hi Paul ... I agree it is an excellent book, and I agree with Ehrman, that Jesus did exist.

 

I also agree with Ehrman rebuttals of mythicist positions'. A Campbellian take on myth is very different from that of a mythicist. Campbell might argue that whether Jesus existed or what might be ascribed to Jesus is unimportant. What is important is the meaning of the overall myth. Whereas I would argue that for a mythicist all that is important is whether Jesus existed or not.

 

A quote by Campbell ... mythology is what we call someone else's religion.

 

Just a note on my personal nomenclature.

Jesus is the historical character that the myth of Christ is built on. So the combination of Jesus Christ would be an oxymoron if you found me writing it.

 

Now I am fairly sure other traditions were incorporated into the mythical Christ, as were actual events and that later sages added their own ideas. But that is OK (in the Campbellian sense). So the question becomes how do we interpret our religious texts in today's context. Campbell argued that we should be evaluating these texts with our modern understanding, not some two thousand year old understanding or even an understanding from the nineteenth century.

Edited by romansh

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ps

In the book - Ehrman describes himself as an agnostic ... so he can't be all bad, :)

 

Earlier in this thread Joseph said Now it doesn't really matter to me whether Paul really said that or not, when referring to a particular passage in the New Testament. While I might not agree with Joseph's following sentences, I think the first one is key from the perspective of this discussion.

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Cheers Rom. I'm not up on my Joseph Campbell so didn't realize the difference between his Christ-myth view and that of mythicists. Thanks.

 

...and yes, Bart can be all that bad! I like that he is so thorough and so unbiased in his work.

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I was trying to give Anne a side of the coin she is not getting from anyone else here on this board. What if the fundamentalist are right? And yes I am a Bible believer and may not be welcomed here but I had a sense of fear for her because of her question and in her question I sensed some doubt that she has in her own belief system. And so it is a fearful thing to go through the door of death with no certainty of the outcome.

Yes I accept the Bible as God's testimony of himself to mankind. And she asked, "how can one believe what one simply does not believe?" And whether the Bible was fabricated by the writers or not you can't believe in something you don't accept as the truth and you can't "rid herself of the fear of hell and face the end of her life with calm acceptance" with any true peaceful assurance. My answer is you can't believe if you don't accept its claims. It claims to be the Word of God over 4,000 times.

As you read the Bible look at how many times is says, "Thus says the Lord," or "the law of the Lord," or "the Word of God," and so on. It is all through the Bible. Just look at Psalms 119.

Look at the Old Testament and you will find Jesus there. How was this fabricated? Jesus fulfilled hundreds of prophecies.

Isaiah 53

5 He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

See the whole chapter and more prophecies throughout the whole Old Testament.

I don't believe they made up what Jesus said or changed it. If they did, then why did they die for something that they were in a position to know if it was true or not?

Look at how these common men and fishermen lives where changed after they met Jesus. And he changed my life. I'm just saying the fundamentalist might be right and if so, then what?

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Ricklee,

 

Bible believer or not, your are welcome here. In fact, if you were a Muslim, Hindu or adherent of any other religion you would also be welcome. As long as all participants adhere to the Forum's code of conduct, then they are welcome.

 

But this is a discussion forum, so your views or opinions may be discussed by others.

 

You ask what if the Fundamentalist is right? Whilst I myself don't think that is a possibility, you are entitled to your opinion. But may I question a few of your assertions in the above:

 

You say the Bible states over 4000 times that it is the word of God. I would challenge that. Nowhere in the bible does it state that the entire bible (as we have it today) is the word of God. Of course various authors in the various books that makes up the library of the bible do make such claims independently though. I'm sure the individual authors often felt that they were conveying God's intentions - even when they were condoning genocide, rape, slavery, patriarchy, and so on as God's wishes.

 

Concerning any so called prophecies about Jesus made in the OT - have you ever considered that it is actually more logical to see that the various NT authors have represented Jesus as fulfilling prophecies by linking Jesus to various elements of the OT rather than him actually fulfilling prophecy? There is a rich tradition of biblical authors taking verses out of context and applying them to Jesus to fulfil their message. There is much research and material readily available that can show this to you.

 

I'm happy for you that Jesus has meant something to you and your life. Many people also feel this way about Allah, Mohammed, Buddah, etc. They too have died for their beliefs so they must be right too?

 

Of course you're entitled to ask that if the fundamentalist might be right and if so, then what? But I think the point that Anne raised was that if you don't believe in something, then you can't believe in it, even though you may still fear or be concerned about it. I'm sure that makes no sense to you, but having been in her shoes I know exactly how it feels. The beautiful thing though is that I know that if there is a God of love out there, he isn't going to be sending any of his children to eternal torment.

Edited by PaulS

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Well if fundamentalist interpretations (seemingly literal) are true then god definitely is not great, and it has a great deal of explaining to do at least for me.

 

Of course god is not going to do that, then it is up to fundamentalist apologists to do that on god's behalf. But I must admit I question do these people have any greater access to the interpretation of god than say, I do.

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Hi Ricklee,

 

I would like to echo what Paul said concerning the fact that you are definitely welcome here regardless of any differing opinions as long as conversations are respectful of the those who might differ in their opinion.

 

it is my view that claiming that because a book says it is the word of God no matter how many times does not make it so. To me that is circular reasoning.. In fact... Is it not really the words of men? To the best of my recollection, Jesus is not recorded ever writing any words except perhaps in the sand.To me, your posit automatically eliminates the possibility of any evidence to the contrary of its words.

 

Many fundamentalists have spoken the words "But what if i am right" . That same statement can be said from other religions.

 

I could ask you. if the bible is so plain and simply the word of God then why does there exist so many versions and translations.? So many denominations of Christians? Is God a respecter of persons that he would speak to only certain men and not others directly? If by some remote possibility you are correct and i am in error then what have i to fear from a just, merciful, and loving God for my genuine ignorance? Do i force myself to believe something i have been shown using the faculties i have been given is not true?

 

Joseph

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Ricklee,

 

Here's a thread I started previously concerning so-called prophecy of Jesus. You may find it interesting to learn that much of so-called prophecy is actually about other events which early Christianity used as tenuous links to provided Jesus (and his Way) with some credibility.

 

Cheers

Paul

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