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On modern substitutions for religion

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23 minutes ago, PaulS said:

Progressive Christians who believe what precisely?

What about a 3rd choice - neither a new world with people reborn, or a movement to higher consciousness (whatever that means) and any 'necessity' to transcend this life/world, but rather, simply an understanding about trying to get along and be the best of what we are.

Well, first believe that God Is, that God enables man to be human (deification) and that Life (God) once given, is not lost. 

Christianity, since the days of Jesus, has the piece about "getting along and being the best (understood as likeness of God/Love) but asserts that Life has meaning and our meaning is part and parcel of the One. Different strokes.

 

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Not a curse?

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Genesis 11 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Tower of Babel

11 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech.” So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused[a] the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

 

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I've always like the Babel story but it is a mythological story: powerful ninth less.

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8 hours ago, Burl said:

So the purpose of life is remaining in our plane seats without fighting over the shared armrest without a thought as to where we are going or why?  Barf bag, please.

Not at all, but if that is how you view your life with the beliefs that you currently hold, then I can understand why you need to hold onto your myths, 'prophecies' and other God stories to help give your life purpose.

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8 hours ago, Burl said:

It is difficult to see Pentecost as anything less than than the removal of the curse God placed on mankind at Babel.  Trying to discern individual souls touched by Christ is overreading.   Better to see the universal outpouring of spirit upon all flesh as prophesied by Joel 2:28.

Better not to believe in curses against all of humankind resulting from some primitive myth, in my opinion.

 

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5 hours ago, Burl said:

Not a curse?

 

No other possible explanation for myths such as these?

 

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8 hours ago, thormas said:

Well, first believe that God Is, that God enables man to be human (deification) and that Life (God) once given, is not lost. 

Christianity, since the days of Jesus, has the piece about "getting along and being the best (understood as likeness of God/Love) but asserts that Life has meaning and our meaning is part and parcel of the One. Different strokes.

 

I questioned it because you seem to box Progressive Christians in to only two choices - either they must believe the world is to be reborn or they must believe in a movement to a higher consciousness/ a higher state of being (event though you question what those terms actually mean).  I'm just suggesting the 3rd choice - you are already fully human - just do the stuff that is better for humankind moreso than the stuff that is not as good for humankind.  Or don't.  The consequences speak for themselves.

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8 hours ago, Burl said:

Better to see the universal outpouring of spirit upon all flesh as prophesied by Joel 2:28

Except little else in Joel's so called 'prophecy' can actually be linked to Pentecost.  Of course many Christians can twist this prophecy to fit their pre-beliefs, but a proper reading of Joel will clearly demonstrate that the things Joel talks about were simply NOT fulfilled at Pentecost.  Joel was referring to other things and not this Pentecost later seized upon by some Christians.  Some Christians jump to the conclusion that Joel's prophecy was fulfilled because of one, single, similarity between the prophecy and the alleged events in Acts, that is the 'outpouring of the holy spirit' but this is a very narrow interpretation of such prophecy fulfilled.  Some elements of Joel's prophecy that were not fulfilled at Pentecost include:

  • There was no outpouring of the holy spirit to 'All Flesh' as Joel requires
  • Sons and daughters weren't prophesying as Joel states
  • young men weren't seeing visions as Joel advises
  • their old men weren't dreaming dreams in line with Joel's prophecy
  • servants and handmaidens weren't prophesying as required by Joel's dream
  • and also the several physical elements of the prophecy - dark sun, blood moon, smoky mist etc etc.

Further, the signs that Joel writes about are to be seen 'after the day of the Lord' and not before.  A lot more has to be done according to Joel until that 'day of the lord' is reached, and Pentecost simply wouldn't cut it for Joel as having reached that point in time.  And it is not a two-step process, although some Christians like to turn it into that to make it fit their purpose.  Joel is clear that his prophecy, in full, will occur at a single, particular point in time.

Once again this story seems more like a reaching back into the OT by NT writers to link their beliefs to Judaism rather than an accurate fulfilment of a prophecy made about soemthing else hundreds of years earlier.

But if it makes you happy...

 

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15 hours ago, PaulS said:

I agree that the 'modern' confusion is incorrect, but it does appear that the ancient view (in Jesus' day and shortly thereafter) was that the arrival of God's Kingdom was imminent and was an end times scenario of sorts as Rome would be overthrown and Israel, with God at its head, would rise above all).  But of course, that didn't happen.

In my view, I think if you study the book of John one may come to the conclusion that the kingdom was there already rather than imminent although it may have been the ancient view of many as you say that it was a future event which i don't see in the NT recorded teachings of Jesus. Also It was recorded in Luke that the kingdom doesn't come with outward observation. (Luke 17:10).  It can't be seen with the physical eyes, only the effects of it. Also Luke 17:20 to me confirms it along with Matt 12:28.  Each in their own order rather than a single coming in time for all. Even in Paul's 2nd letter to 2Corinthians 5:15 he talks of being in Christ old things Have (past tense) passed away and all things have become new. He speaks of an old creature and a new creature and the passing away in Christ of the old and all things becoming new. This to me is New Jerusalem which is above. (Gal 4:26 not physical like old Jerusalem)  It seems to me it is a single event but not in time. For those in Christ the world has ended or in Bible language the end of the world has come. (as was previously experienced for that person)  Even without Bible writings it is my experience that the kingdom is here now even though there are many that do not enter in. Math 23:13 seems to agree with my experience. ("Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. 

Physical death is not required to enter.:) Perhaps people will still be waiting for a global physical event for another 2000 years or so. 🙂

Joseph

Edited by JosephM

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1 hour ago, JosephM said:

In my view, I think if you study the book of John one may come to the conclusion that the kingdom was there already rather than imminent although it may have been the ancient view of many as you say that it was a future event which i don't see in the NT recorded teachings of Jesus. Also It was recorded in Luke that the kingdom doesn't come with outward observation. (Luke 17:10).  It can't be seen with the physical eyes, only the effects of it. Also Luke 17:20 to me confirms it along with Matt 12:28.  Each in their own order rather than a single coming in time for all. Even in Paul's 2nd letter to 2Corinthians 5:15 he talks of being in Christ old things Have (past tense) passed away and all things have become new. He speaks of an old creature and a new creature and the passing away in Christ of the old and all things becoming new. This to me is New Jerusalem which is above. (Gal 4:26 not physical like old Jerusalem)  It seems to me it is a single event but not in time. For those in Christ the world has ended or in Bible language the end of the world has come. (as was previously experienced for that person)  Even without Bible writings it is my experience that the kingdom is here now even though there are many that do not enter in. Math 23:13 seems to agree with my experience. ("Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. 

Physical death is not required to enter.:) Perhaps people will still be waiting for a global physical event for another 2000 years or so. 🙂

Joseph

I understand there to be two 'types' of Kingdoms discussed in the Gospels.  There's the Kingdom of God (Theos) which is spiritual and what you are referring to from Luke.  But Matthew discusses the Kingdom of Heaven (Ouranos) mainly which is about a physical, earthly, Heaven-like kingdom.  Not heaven itself, but a Heaven implemented by the coming of the Son of Man, on earth. 

Whilst the NT may use the terms interchangeably, because in some ways they are one and the same thing, there is a difference between entering the Kingdom of God now and entering or being in the Kingdom of Heaven at some later date.  

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13 hours ago, PaulS said:

I questioned it because you seem to box Progressive Christians in to only two choices - either they must believe the world is to be reborn or they must believe in a movement to a higher consciousness/ a higher state of being (event though you question what those terms actually mean).  I'm just suggesting the 3rd choice - you are already fully human - just do the stuff that is better for humankind moreso than the stuff that is not as good for humankind.  Or don't.  The consequences speak for themselves.

Actually not sure I would include the reborn belief piece (that was supposed to be a statement about the early Christians). As for a 'higher state of consciousness/ state of being' - while that makes more sense to me, I have no earthly or heavenly idea what it actually means or what will be. It's called Hope: I live this life to the full, as do you, and given that I believe Life is Meaning and 'more than meets the eye' I Trust/Hope but leave the details to God and really don't fret about the 'next life.'

There is no 'boxing in' as one can call themselves whatever makes them happy. However, if one calls themselves a Christian yet does not believe that God IS (even though the image of that God might have evolved) - as did Jesus, they appear to believe something completely 'other' than Jesus. 

I simply and respectfully see your 3rd choice (which, unless you have changed the terms, says there God IS not, life has no ultimate meaning and 'this is it) as the atheist position.

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9 hours ago, JosephM said:

In my view, I think if you study the book of John one may come to the conclusion that the kingdom was there already rather than imminent although it may have been the ancient view of many as you say that it was a future event which i don't see in the NT recorded teachings of Jesus. Also It was recorded in Luke that the kingdom doesn't come with outward observation. (Luke 17:10).  It can't be seen with the physical eyes, only the effects of it. Also Luke 17:20 to me confirms it along with Matt 12:28.  Each in their own order rather than a single coming in time for all. Even in Paul's 2nd letter to 2Corinthians 5:15 he talks of being in Christ old things Have (past tense) passed away and all things have become new. He speaks of an old creature and a new creature and the passing away in Christ of the old and all things becoming new. This to me is New Jerusalem which is above. (Gal 4:26 not physical like old Jerusalem)  It seems to me it is a single event but not in time. For those in Christ the world has ended or in Bible language the end of the world has come. (as was previously experienced for that person)  Even without Bible writings it is my experience that the kingdom is here now even though there are many that do not enter in. Math 23:13 seems to agree with my experience. ("Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. 

Physical death is not required to enter.:) Perhaps people will still be waiting for a global physical event for another 2000 years or so. 🙂

Joseph

There is a tension of sorts about the Kingdom: it is 'at hand' (already happening) and it is 'not yet.' One can safely say the God's reign was established and present in Jesus (God reigned in/over the entirety of his life) but that reign is not yet accomplished, not yet present in the lives of all. It it were, it would be 'heaven.'

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14 hours ago, JosephM said:

In my view, I think if you study the book of John one may come to the conclusion that the kingdom was there already rather than imminent although it may have been the ancient view of many as you say that it was a future event which i don't see in the NT recorded teachings of Jesus. Also It was recorded in Luke that the kingdom doesn't come with outward observation. (Luke 17:10).  It can't be seen with the physical eyes, only the effects of it. Also Luke 17:20 to me confirms it along with Matt 12:28.  Each in their own order rather than a single coming in time for all. Even in Paul's 2nd letter to 2Corinthians 5:15 he talks of being in Christ old things Have (past tense) passed away and all things have become new. He speaks of an old creature and a new creature and the passing away in Christ of the old and all things becoming new. This to me is New Jerusalem which is above. (Gal 4:26 not physical like old Jerusalem)  It seems to me it is a single event but not in time. For those in Christ the world has ended or in Bible language the end of the world has come. (as was previously experienced for that person)  Even without Bible writings it is my experience that the kingdom is here now even though there are many that do not enter in. Math 23:13 seems to agree with my experience. ("Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. 

Physical death is not required to enter.:) Perhaps people will still be waiting for a global physical event for another 2000 years or so. 🙂

Joseph

The future event (for example, coming in the lifetime of some of his followers; not present but sometime in the future) does seem to be in the teachings of Jesus. Even his opening announcement that the 'Kingdom of God is upon you' is not a statement that it has been accomplished or fulfilled; the Jews must repent/prepare/be ready when God establishes his Kingdom. And Luke, 65+ years after Jesus, is already creatively dealing with the delay of the Kingdom. There is still the tension: present and not yet. I do agree that Paul, in his view, was, like Jesus, living in the endtime: in his lifetime, the Kingdom 'would' be established. However, later, it was those in Christ who, experiencing the continued delay, devided it into two moments: the death and resurrection of Jesus and his future 2nd Coming. The new Jerusalem would not pass away but it was 'physical' since it was this world and the house of God, that would be transformed into the new, in their belief..

Having said that, then there is our take on things in the 21st C: I agree that death is not the requirement but since it is inevitable one wonders what happens to those who 'experience and live' the Kingdom now? Does it end, continue? And then there is the issue of universal salvation: is it necessary if all are to be ONE? Can there be ONE if even one of the many does not enter?

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10 hours ago, thormas said:

However, if one calls themselves a Christian yet does not believe that God IS (even though the image of that God might have evolved) - as did Jesus, they appear to believe something completely 'other' than Jesus. 

So if one believes that God 'IS' something, albeit that something significantly differs from what Jesus believed God to be, then you're okay with them calling themselves Christian?  Or do you use some other measure to determine when they're belief is close enough to Jesus' belief for them to call themselves Christian?

Don't get me wrong - I understand your dilemma in deciding when somebody can or can't call themselves Christian - our language and use of words does have limitations and at best we try to use those words to categorise and communicate a common understanding.  So naturally we try to narrow definitions down so that we can communicate.

But to me it seems by your own logic, if one believes in anything 'other' than what Jesus did, how can they call themselves Christian?  Can one be 80% Christian, 40% Christian, even maybe 15% Christian and still call themselves Christian.  Where do you draw the line about what is 'completely other' than Jesus belief? 

It seems to me  you are saying "if generally people believe something like Jesus did, then using the title Christian is okay, and even if they disagree with some of Jesus' beliefs, a little bit of disagreement is okay.  But if they disagree with Jesus 'too much', then the label Christian isn't appropriate".

I'm not having a go at you, for me I am simply recognising the difficulty in deciding who is in the right camp and who is not, when it comes to people calling themselves Christian

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10 hours ago, thormas said:

I simply and respectfully see your 3rd choice (which, unless you have changed the terms, says there God IS not, life has no ultimate meaning and 'this is it) as the atheist position.

It depends on what you want to define as God.  Your definition is different to mine I suspect, so of course you see me as seeing God as not, as you do with atheists.

Yes, I am by strict definition an atheist - that is, I do not believe in a theistic God.  When we start talking about 'God' being community, how we interact with one another and our environment, how we move along through time - then I would argue I do believe in God - it's just that my definition of God doesn't fit with yours or some others I guess.

 

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6 hours ago, thormas said:

Having said that, then there is our take on things in the 21st 😄 I agree that death is not the requirement but since it is inevitable one wonders what happens to those who 'experience and live' the Kingdom now? Does it end, continue? And then there is the issue of universal salvation: is it necessary if all are to be ONE? Can there be ONE if even one of the many does not enter?

Just curious, do you believe you are experiencing and living the kingdom right now?

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20 hours ago, PaulS said:

I understand there to be two 'types' of Kingdoms discussed in the Gospels.  There's the Kingdom of God (Theos) which is spiritual and what you are referring to from Luke.  But Matthew discusses the Kingdom of Heaven (Ouranos) mainly which is about a physical, earthly, Heaven-like kingdom.  Not heaven itself, but a Heaven implemented by the coming of the Son of Man, on earth. 

Whilst the NT may use the terms interchangeably, because in some ways they are one and the same thing, there is a difference between entering the Kingdom of God now and entering or being in the Kingdom of Heaven at some later date.  

Actually I quoted Mathew which uses the Kingdom of Heaven (Mathew 23-13 which plainly implies the Kingdom of Heaven was already there and the Pharisees and teachers of the Law did not enter in nor suffer others to enter in. The words are indeed used interchangeably as you will find common statements in the other gospels using kingdom of God  instead of Heaven. They are one and the same. 

The central theme of Matthew's gospel is the kingdom of heaven, which expression is used as a synonym of the phrase kingdom of God (Rev. Thomas J. Ramsdell)

In my view, there is no later date. There is only now. In fact the kingdom of God / Heaven has always been available and had people who entered in while living even before the time of Jesus. The Kingdom is a spiritual domain, not a physical one. Jesus is recorded saying "The flesh profiteth nothing, the spirit gives Life"

In Buddhism there are the 4 Noble truths:

The Four Noble Truths comprise the essence of Buddha's teachings, though they leave much left unexplained. They are the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering.

Heaven is the end of suffering both in Buddhism and Christianity although different words are used.  It is attainable in this lifetime in both religions. It can be said to be a place (not physical) or elevated state of consciousness where one resides in Christ (as in being meshed together with God as One)  or in Buddhism awakened to the ones true Self (not self) , residing in an unconditioned state of consciousness that some call enlightenment. It seems to me the mind makes it a complex concept but it is rooted in simplicity so that even the unlearned and those who we might call ignorant can enter in. At least that is my best take on it.

 

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2 hours ago, PaulS said:

It depends on what you want to define as God.  Your definition is different to mine I suspect, so of course you see me as seeing God as not, as you do with atheists.

Yes, I am by strict definition an atheist - that is, I do not believe in a theistic God.  When we start talking about 'God' being community, how we interact with one another and our environment, how we move along through time - then I would argue I do believe in God - it's just that my definition of God doesn't fit with yours or some others I guess.

Actually, no. But atheists, for example, reject the very idea, the very possibility of God. So, it is not a different definition, it is (seemingly) a complete rejection of what is defined or the subject of the definition. If you disagree with this, I would be interested in hearing your perspective. 

Do most atheist see God as community, human interaction and movement in time? I have friends and family members who are atheists and they don't: that is not God, there is no God, what you describe is all about the human.  I would be interested to hear how these are God. If you believe in God, in any way, are you an atheist?

However, my question is, since I was talking primarily about Christianity, this is not how Jesus understood God, so why would one who holds this belief call him/herself a Christian? 

I am just going by the definition of atheists, reading the works of atheists and my friends who are atheists. Most atheist in my experience do not merely reject theistic notions of God, they reject any and all ideas of God.

 

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2 hours ago, PaulS said:

Just curious, do you believe you are experiencing and living the kingdom right now?

As in the NT, I believe there is a tension: at times one can 'touch' God and God reigns in one's life while it seems that we also fail, sometimes miserably and we and the world are still in need of healing and transforming the world 'into a world in which God reigns.' 

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1 hour ago, JosephM said:

Actually I quoted Mathew which uses the Kingdom of Heaven (Mathew 23-13 which plainly implies the Kingdom of Heaven was already there and the Pharisees and teachers of the Law did not enter in nor suffer others to enter in. The words are indeed used interchangeably as you will find common statements in the other gospels using kingdom of God  instead of Heaven. They are one and the same. 

In my view, there is no later date. There is only now. In fact the kingdom of God / Heaven has always been available and had people who entered in while living even before the time of Jesus. The Kingdom is a spiritual domain, not a physical one. Jesus is recorded saying "The flesh profiteth nothing, the spirit gives Life"

Bart Erhman's view (Sep 2017):

The very first thing that Jesus is recorded to have said in our very earliest surviving source involves an apocalyptic pronouncement of the coming Kingdom of God.  In Mark’s Gospel, after being baptized by John and tempted by Satan in the wilderness, in neither of which is he recorded as having said anything, Jesus comes into Galilee with an urgent message:

The time is filled up and the Kingdom of God is almost here; repent and believe in the good news!  (Mark 1:15)

I take this to be an adequate summary of what Jesus himself actually preached.  The saying about “time being filled up” is an apocalyptic image.  Recall that for apocalypticists there were two ages of history – the present evil age that was running along its predetermined course and the glorious age to come in which God would establish his sovereignty once and for all.  For Jesus, the time of this age was all but complete; the bottom of the sand clock was nearly filled.  This age was near its end and the new Kingdom was almost here.  People needed to prepare by turning to God and accepting this good news.

Later Christians, of course, took this very term “good news” and applied it to the accounts of Jesus’ life itself – especially the accounts of his death and resurrection.  The same Greek word that I’ve rendered “good news” is translated “gospel” elsewhere.  But obviously Jesus wouldn’t be urging people to believe in his own death and resurrection when he had just started his ministry – hence my translation.  He is urging people to accept the message of the good news, that now, very soon, God is going to intervene in history and bring in his Kingdom.  What does Jesus mean when he speaks of God’s coming Kingdom?

This is a question that has plagued New Testament scholars since – well, since there have been New Testament scholars.  I won’t go into all the ins and outs of the debates here, but instead simply emphasize a couple of the significant points.  For one thing, almost all scholars today would agree that when Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God, he is not referring to “heaven” – in the sense of the place that your soul goes, God willing, when you die.  To be sure, the Kingdom of God has some relationship to “heaven” as the place where God is enthroned; but when Jesus talks about the Kingdom, he appears to refer principally to something here on earth – where God will at some point begin to rule as he already does rule up above.  This is in full keeping with the Jewish background to Jesus’ life and thought. For throughout the Hebrew Bible, there is constant talk of the God of Israel being the King of all people and establishing his rule for them.

God is the king of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm.

God is king over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.  (Ps. 47:7-8)

The LORD is king, he is robed in majesty;

The LORD is robed, he is girded with strength …

Your throne is established from of old;

you are from everlasting. (Ps. 93:1-2)

Moreover, when Jesus refers to this coming Kingdom, in which God will reign, he does not appear to be thinking in purely symbolic terms about God becoming the ruler of your heart.  For he often describes the Kingdom with graphically tactile language.  Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God “coming in power,” about people “entering into” the Kingdom, about people “eating and drinking in the Kingdom” with the Jewish ancestors, about his disciples serving as “rulers” of the Kingdom, sitting on actual “thrones” in the royal court.

Truly I say to you, in the renewed world, when the Son of Man is sitting on the throne of his glory, you (disciples) also will be seated on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  (Matt. 19:28; cf. Luke 22:30)o

And there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom, but you are cast out; and people will come from east and west and from north and south and recline at table in the kingdom of God. (Q: Luke 13:23-29; cf. Matt. 8:11-12)

Such references are scattered throughout the tradition, and rather than writing them off — for example on the grounds that we ourselves don’t imagine that God will actually, literally, establish a kingdom here on earth — we should take them seriously.  Jesus, like other apocalypticists living before him and afterwards, evidently thought that God was going to extend his rule from the heavenly realm where he resides down here to earth.  There would be a real, physical kingdom here, a paradisal world in which God himself would rule his faithful people, where there would be eating, drinking, and talking, where there would be human co-regents sitting on thrones and human denizens eating at banquets.

This future kingdom stands over against the present evil kingdoms to which God’s people are now subjected, kingdoms of hatred, want, and oppression.  In the future kingdom, God’s people will be rewarded with a utopian existence.  No wonder Jesus proclaimed the coming Kingdom as “good news” to those who would listen.  But it wasn’t good news for everyone – not, for example, for those who were already in power.  For when the coming kingdom arrived those who were in power now would be overthrown.  And the day of judgment was soon.

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4 hours ago, thormas said:

Actually, no. But atheists, for example, reject the very idea, the very possibility of God. So, it is not a different definition, it is (seemingly) a complete rejection of what is defined or the subject of the definition. If you disagree with this, I would be interested in hearing your perspective. 

By definition atheists have a lack of belief or a strong disbelief in the existence of God - but this is very different to rejecting the very idea, the very possibility of God.  They are simply saying they don't believe unless evidence to their satisfaction is provided.  Of course there are more militant versions of atheism, just as the term Christian ranges across a vast universe of beliefs and behaviours relating to Christianity.

Quote

Do most atheist see God as community, human interaction and movement in time? I have friends and family members who are atheists and they don't: that is not God, there is no God, what you describe is all about the human.  I would be interested to hear how these are God. If you believe in God, in any way, are you an atheist?

Most atheists in general would probably not use the term God to describe community, human interaction or movement in time.  I'm not really sure what word they might use and don't want to speak on all of their behalves.  But this atheist, me, is more than happy to use the term God to describe how I think we, in a fully human way (as I believe that is the only way we can be), are and can be.  Further, the 8 points of Progressive Christianity don't exclude me from that way of thinking because:

1. I do believe some of Jesus' teachings can lead to an awareness of the oneness and unity of all life, which to me can be called sacred.

2. Jesus' teachings provide 'but one' of the many ways to experience this sacredness and oneness of life

3. I do think we should seek community of all people, whether conventional Christians or questioning skeptics

4. I agree that the way we behave towards one another speaks volumes of who we are

5,6,7,8 - I agree with all, word for word.

Quote

However, my question is, since I was talking primarily about Christianity, this is not how Jesus understood God, so why would one who holds this belief call him/herself a Christian? 

You might be able answer that yourself - Jesus was clearly an apocalyptic preacher who believed the Kingdom of God was imminently arriving and that God, through Israel, would soon rule the planet (in the actual generation of his time).  If you don't hold this belief about God which Jesus held, why would you call yourself Christian? 

It seems to me that what Christianity ended up becoming (a Jesus cult) is vastly different to what Jesus actually believed of God in many, many ways.  Take the good bits by all means, the love and caring stuff which I think is a good message, but that alone does not accurately fit Jesus' belief of how to understand God.  It seems that Jesus' apocalyptic understanding of God gets conveniently overlooked.

Jesus also referred to God as 'Father' and even 'Abba' which is an even more personal term for Father.  It is pretty clear that Jesus viewed God as a theistic entity sitting on a throne in a realm called Heaven and he believed in all the bells and whistles of the Son of Man arriving on a cloud to herald in the arriving Kingdom of God.  Again, if your beliefs don't align with Jesus here, why do you call yourself Christian?

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4 hours ago, thormas said:

As in the NT, I believe there is a tension: at times one can 'touch' God and God reigns in one's life while it seems that we also fail, sometimes miserably and we and the world are still in need of healing and transforming the world 'into a world in which God reigns.' 

So you're not actually living in the kingdom, but just getting glimpses from time to time?

Can anybody fully live in this Kingdom?  Do you know anybody who is fully living in this Kingdom?  Or is the best that anyone can hope for is to simply 'touch' it from time to time?  Or perhaps you have hope that in some point in the future, in this life or an afterlife, that you will actually get to fully experience this 'kingdom'?

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No glimpses, unless, of course, we mean moments that are marked by love (compassionate concern) among people: that is probably a taste of Abundant Life. Perhaps also the serenity that comes from moments in nature or just the fullness experienced in family are glimpses - but I never see, nor do I expect to see the more fanciful images of 'heaven.' 

Perhaps it is not 'living in' the Kingdom but living the Kingdom. To go with Kingdom imagery, God is King when he reigns or when we accept his reign; God is King, his Kingdom begins/exists when his Will is done. His will, captured in the commandments and their summary of the 2 great commandments is love; compassionate concern poured out freely and abundantly onto all others. Given this, if one has moments of such love, one has moment when they live the Kingdom; if one lives a life of such moments, one lives the Kingdom, 'makes it flesh' and transforms his/her world into a new world, the world of God, the world where Love rules life. So yes, I have known such people although I am still the (more and more) moment guy trying to make it all moments. Again, it is not living 'in' it is living the Kingdom and being Love, which I call God and the living of Love is that which enables a man or a woman to be 'fully, truly, completely human' because they have embodied the divine.

There is Hope that such 'taking up life' in unending and fulfilled but when, where, how?? - I leave the details to God and live the life, as possible, now. 

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10 hours ago, PaulS said:

By definition atheists have a lack of belief or a strong disbelief in the existence of God - but this is very different to rejecting the very idea, the very possibility of God.  They are simply saying they don't believe unless evidence to their satisfaction is provided.  Of course there are more militant versions of atheism, just as the term Christian ranges across a vast universe of beliefs and behaviours relating to Christianity.

Most atheists in general would probably not use the term God to describe community, human interaction or movement in time.  I'm not really sure what word they might use and don't want to speak on all of their behalves.  But this atheist, me, is more than happy to use the term God to describe how I think we, in a fully human way (as I believe that is the only way we can be), are and can be.  Further, the 8 points of Progressive Christianity don't exclude me from that way of thinking because:

1. I do believe some of Jesus' teachings can lead to an awareness of the oneness and unity of all life, which to me can be called sacred.

2. Jesus' teachings provide 'but one' of the many ways to experience this sacredness and oneness of life

3. I do think we should seek community of all people, whether conventional Christians or questioning skeptics

4. I agree that the way we behave towards one another speaks volumes of who we are

5,6,7,8 - I agree with all, word for word.

You might be able answer that yourself - Jesus was clearly an apocalyptic preacher who believed the Kingdom of God was imminently arriving and that God, through Israel, would soon rule the planet (in the actual generation of his time).  If you don't hold this belief about God which Jesus held, why would you call yourself Christian? 

It seems to me that what Christianity ended up becoming (a Jesus cult) is vastly different to what Jesus actually believed of God in many, many ways.  Take the good bits by all means, the love and caring stuff which I think is a good message, but that alone does not accurately fit Jesus' belief of how to understand God.  It seems that Jesus' apocalyptic understanding of God gets conveniently overlooked.

Jesus also referred to God as 'Father' and even 'Abba' which is an even more personal term for Father.  It is pretty clear that Jesus viewed God as a theistic entity sitting on a throne in a realm called Heaven and he believed in all the bells and whistles of the Son of Man arriving on a cloud to herald in the arriving Kingdom of God.  Again, if your beliefs don't align with Jesus here, why do you call yourself Christian?

Lack of belief, strong disbelief - i.e. don't believe. Seems like a rejection of the idea and that is how I read most atheists (even across the spectrum). As for evidence, since there is none, that seems to seal the deal: without that (evidence) which is not possible, there is always disbelief, rejection. 

But all that aside, you are perhaps a unique atheist. Is your atheism a pantheism? And I agree you are not excluded.

This is where it gets interesting (at least for me): I read decades ago a book by Gabriel Moran, The Present Revelation, in which his image of the Christian was stepping with one for into the future while the other is based in the 'revelation of Jesus.' So, in the late 20th and early 21C our world view is radically different from his, as is our philosophy and, therefore, our theology. So, in order for IT to be and remain Good News for each new generation, it must be explain anew it a way that speaks to each generation. The 'trick' is remaining faithful to what we believe is presented (revealed) in Jesus about man and God. One is always free to stray completely from that, however it then becomes questionable if they share, believe, accept the insights of Jesus. On the other hand, as evidenced especially in present times, it is fruitless to explain Jesus without a retelling that uses our worldview, knowledge and philosophical (explanatory) systems so it doesn't fall on deaf ears. And we are not only dealing with Jesus, we are dealing with ancient sources without which we would never have known of Jesus. So relying on scholars to figure out different genres in the text, understanding their world view, Greek philosophy as opposed to Jewish wisdom literature is essential. Incarnation is a stumbling block for many, as is a God in his heaven and his miraculous intervention into human affairs. the very idea of atonement, the sacrifice of his own son is literally repugnant for many today as are other concepts. However, this is still Jesus, his teachings, his parables, his action, even his miracles (especially those who were the subjects of his efforts) that resonate in every age. Thus, people try to hold to that and explain/present Jesus in a way that can be Good News, can make a difference to 21st C people. For example the idea of Kingdom in a recent post: is it living in the Kingdom or is it living the Kingdom? Well, many of us are not ruled by Kings, would never accept such an arrangement anyhow does one live in a Kingdom when they are in this world? So, as Spong does, move to the verb: it is living the Kingdom and a King is a King when he reigns, when his will is done and that will is to love. Well, that is not such a bad Kingdom and a way has been open to let a 21C kid understand it. And what is retained? As for Jesus, God IS, God is King, the Kingdom is coming, Abundant Life is possible and it is all for us. there i a way to re[present such concepts and capture the God of Jesus. 

It seems, for Jesus, that the Kingdom is all God's effort however this doesn't sit well with moderns. However, this same Jesus was always doing - his efforts counted. So perhaps there is something for us to do, it's not all God. However, if God is Love and one lives the Kingdom by loving, then one must do what God is, be what God is, in order to live the Kingdom. A modern concept is that we are the co-creators but we create only if we, to use an out of fashion term, incarnate Love.

So, I accept that the historical Jesus was a Apocalyptic Prophet who thought the Kingdom was at hand, in the lifetime of his followers. He was also a man and he was wrong. That is evident in that the world continues and recognized even by his late 1st C followers who began to speak of his (now necessary) 2nd Coming. However, not knowing the date (didn't he also say only God knew that?) doesn't take away from his revelation (insight) into God, and and meaning. The 'love and caring stuff' comes directly from his belief and acceptance of God/Abba; there is not one without the other (for Jesus, for Christians).

Seemingly, Jesus had theistic views of God but there is nuance here (Abba is much more than a remote King on his remote throne; he knows every hair on each of our heads - a rather un-kingly attitude) : even the OT is not totally theistic. In addition, the sources (without which, no Jesus), reflecting on Jesus begin to move from theism. Even Paul, the earliest writer speaks of having our being in God (very panentheistic). Plus theism need not be a dirty word. John Macquarie writes that theism is full of opposites and the problem comes when one pole is given precedent over the other rather than both having prominence (example Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic - go too far to the former and you have pantheism, go too far to the latter and you are left with a remote King in his remote Heaven). Macquarie actually coins the phrase dialectical theism and likens it to panentheism but he prefers the former term more. What you see as pretty clear, it really not: nuance.

Not sure about a Jesus cult but I do agree that Christianity steered left and headed for the cliff. However, even knowing about, for example, Council intrigues, there were some good men who did the best they could with what they had at hand.

So why remain a Christian? As above, I believe Jesus does indeed reveal (properly understood) something highly valuable and true about God, man and meaning: his disciples took this up and the church continues (some faithfully with best intentions and efforts, some for power, some in ignorance). And, like his disciples, from day one, who sought to understand these insights in ways that spoke to them, other Christians continually seek to do the same: to re-present, to present again the insights of Jesus recognizing the present world view and using 'our language and images' to hear the New and become Whole. 

I differentiate among things you list (bells and whistles, Son of Man) as easily understandable given his religion, scriptures and world view (recognizing this image doesn't make sense for us today) while going after what this heavenly figure said about God and Man, the meaning of life  - that is timeless.

 

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8 hours ago, thormas said:

Lack of belief, strong disbelief - i.e. don't believe. Seems like a rejection of the idea and that is how I read most atheists (even across the spectrum). As for evidence, since there is none, that seems to seal the deal: without that (evidence) which is not possible, there is always disbelief, rejection. 

The nuance you are missing is that it is not a rejection of the 'idea' but rather a rejection of what is currently on the table.  Should evidence ever actually become available, then I expect the idea of God would be reviewed.

8 hours ago, thormas said:

But all that aside, you are perhaps a unique atheist. Is your atheism a pantheism? And I agree you are not excluded.

I probably lean more toward panentheism than pantheism.  

8 hours ago, thormas said:

This is where it gets interesting (at least for me): I read decades ago a book by Gabriel Moran, The Present Revelation, in which his image of the Christian was stepping with one for into the future while the other is based in the 'revelation of Jesus.' So, in the late 20th and early 21C our world view is radically different from his, as is our philosophy and, therefore, our theology. So, in order for IT to be and remain Good News for each new generation, it must be explain anew it a way that speaks to each generation. The 'trick' is remaining faithful to what we believe is presented (revealed) in Jesus about man and God. One is always free to stray completely from that, however it then becomes questionable if they share, believe, accept the insights of Jesus. On the other hand, as evidenced especially in present times, it is fruitless to explain Jesus without a retelling that uses our worldview, knowledge and philosophical (explanatory) systems so it doesn't fall on deaf ears. And we are not only dealing with Jesus, we are dealing with ancient sources without which we would never have known of Jesus. So relying on scholars to figure out different genres in the text, understanding their world view, Greek philosophy as opposed to Jewish wisdom literature is essential. Incarnation is a stumbling block for many, as is a God in his heaven and his miraculous intervention into human affairs. the very idea of atonement, the sacrifice of his own son is literally repugnant for many today as are other concepts. However, this is still Jesus, his teachings, his parables, his action, even his miracles (especially those who were the subjects of his efforts) that resonate in every age. Thus, people try to hold to that and explain/present Jesus in a way that can be Good News, can make a difference to 21st C people. For example the idea of Kingdom in a recent post: is it living in the Kingdom or is it living the Kingdom? Well, many of us are not ruled by Kings, would never accept such an arrangement anyhow does one live in a Kingdom when they are in this world? So, as Spong does, move to the verb: it is living the Kingdom and a King is a King when he reigns, when his will is done and that will is to love. Well, that is not such a bad Kingdom and a way has been open to let a 21C kid understand it. And what is retained? As for Jesus, God IS, God is King, the Kingdom is coming, Abundant Life is possible and it is all for us. there i a way to re[present such concepts and capture the God of Jesus. 

It seems, for Jesus, that the Kingdom is all God's effort however this doesn't sit well with moderns. However, this same Jesus was always doing - his efforts counted. So perhaps there is something for us to do, it's not all God. However, if God is Love and one lives the Kingdom by loving, then one must do what God is, be what God is, in order to live the Kingdom. A modern concept is that we are the co-creators but we create only if we, to use an out of fashion term, incarnate Love.

So, I accept that the historical Jesus was a Apocalyptic Prophet who thought the Kingdom was at hand, in the lifetime of his followers. He was also a man and he was wrong. That is evident in that the world continues and recognized even by his late 1st C followers who began to speak of his (now necessary) 2nd Coming. However, not knowing the date (didn't he also say only God knew that?) doesn't take away from his revelation (insight) into God, and and meaning. The 'love and caring stuff' comes directly from his belief and acceptance of God/Abba; there is not one without the other (for Jesus, for Christians).

Seemingly, Jesus had theistic views of God but there is nuance here (Abba is much more than a remote King on his remote throne; he knows every hair on each of our heads - a rather un-kingly attitude) : even the OT is not totally theistic. In addition, the sources (without which, no Jesus), reflecting on Jesus begin to move from theism. Even Paul, the earliest writer speaks of having our being in God (very panentheistic). Plus theism need not be a dirty word. John Macquarie writes that theism is full of opposites and the problem comes when one pole is given precedent over the other rather than both having prominence (example Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic - go too far to the former and you have pantheism, go too far to the latter and you are left with a remote King in his remote Heaven). Macquarie actually coins the phrase dialectical theism and likens it to panentheism but he prefers the former term more. What you see as pretty clear, it really not: nuance.

Not sure about a Jesus cult but I do agree that Christianity steered left and headed for the cliff. However, even knowing about, for example, Council intrigues, there were some good men who did the best they could with what they had at hand.

So why remain a Christian? As above, I believe Jesus does indeed reveal (properly understood) something highly valuable and true about God, man and meaning: his disciples took this up and the church continues (some faithfully with best intentions and efforts, some for power, some in ignorance). And, like his disciples, from day one, who sought to understand these insights in ways that spoke to them, other Christians continually seek to do the same: to re-present, to present again the insights of Jesus recognizing the present world view and using 'our language and images' to hear the New and become Whole. 

And of course it's not my intention to say that you can't call yourself a Christian - I'm just recognising that a major plank in the platform of the man Christians worship so dearly, is completely ignored by the religion that developed following the death of Jesus.  Not just ignored, but twisted and bent to mean something entirely different to what their figurehead meant and believed.

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