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Burl

The Bible is not a book of answers

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3 hours ago, Burl said:

Burl, what do you make of all the nasty stuff the bible attributes to God in the OT?  The genocides, the rapes, the slavery, the child abuse, etc etc - all things approved of or committed by Bible God, according to the Bible.  Do you think that is how the people who penned the stories really thought God was, and/or do you think that is who God was/is?  God certainly didn't seem to want much of a relationship with the many people he wreaked vengeance upon in the OT, so how does that tie in with what this article proposes concerning the bible being a love story and a 'journey' leading people to God (unless 'leading' means smashing opposing tribes into oblivion to force them to love Bible God).  I find it difficult to reconcile much that was written about God in OT days with what some Christians say about God in modern times.

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4 hours ago, PaulS said:

Burl, what do you make of all the nasty stuff the bible attributes to God in the OT?  The genocides, the rapes, the slavery, the child abuse, etc etc - all things approved of or committed by Bible God, according to the Bible.  Do you think that is how the people who penned the stories really thought God was, and/or do you think that is who God was/is?  God certainly didn't seem to want much of a relationship with the many people he wreaked vengeance upon in the OT, so how does that tie in with what this article proposes concerning the bible being a love story and a 'journey' leading people to God (unless 'leading' means smashing opposing tribes into oblivion to force them to love Bible God).  I find it difficult to reconcile much that was written about God in OT days with what some Christians say about God in modern times.

It’s late here and I don’t have time to write a book, but we can start on slavery tomorrow or Wed.  Most of the stuff on slavery is in Exodus so review that and note the parts you find particularly “nasty”.

‘Slavery’ in ancient times had many meanings, but all meant one was dependent on another for their livelihood and did not own land.  The chattel slavery developed in the 17/18C was not the slavery of near east in 800BC.  Closest I think was the indentured servant or working under an employment contract.

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Okay, but just a couple of quick ones on slavery as I'd rather get onto the raping of virgins and the smashing open of babies skulls against rocks in God's honour.  That's the real love story!

Exodus 21:20-21 When a slave owner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. But if the slave survives a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner’s property. 

Leviticus 25: 44-46 As for the male and female slaves whom you may have, it is from the nations around you that you may acquire male and female slaves. You may also acquire them from among the aliens residing with you, and from their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property. You may keep them as a possession for your children after you, for them to inherit as property. These you may treat as slaves, but as for your fellow Israelites, no one shall rule over the other with harshness. 

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5 hours ago, PaulS said:

Okay, but just a couple of quick ones on slavery as I'd rather get onto the raping of virgins and the smashing open of babies skulls against rocks in God's honour.  That's the real love story!

Exodus 21:20-21 When a slave owner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. But if the slave survives a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner’s property. 

Leviticus 25: 44-46 As for the male and female slaves whom you may have, it is from the nations around you that you may acquire male and female slaves. You may also acquire them from among the aliens residing with you, and from their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property. You may keep them as a possession for your children after you, for them to inherit as property. These you may treat as slaves, but as for your fellow Israelites, no one shall rule over the other with harshness. 

No, not a few quick ones.  We need look at everything from the Israelites willingly accepting slavery in Egypt to their escape and how the Word evolves through the Christian era.

We can start with the Amelekites if you wish, but need to take the same thorough perspective of how God brought His people from the Canaanite Baal worship of propitiatory sex and human sacrifice to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’ to the emancipatory beating of swords into plowshares, Wilberforce and Rev. ML King to the arrests of modern day slavers Weinstein and Epstein.

So you would start with the Amelekites?   The traditional view is that this is a legend used as a teaching story where Amelek represents the ego but the literal version of the extinction of giant dna which was created in Genesis 6:4 has become popular in the past few decades.

 

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Finally, the Bible is an invitation. It’s an invitation into the story God is telling and an invitation to join Him on the journey he’s leading you to. 

A journey to a deeper faith and a role in the story God is telling. 

Interesting article but i personally have a problem in believing that the Bible is a story that God is telling. It seems to me it is more a story the men who wrote it are telling based upon their imperfect understanding of God at that point in time.

Certainly, there are life changing passages that when received and practiced can point to the living word that can transform one. The  word of God to me in no way, shape or form is the letters written on a piece of paper or stone. My personal experience is some of the words written in the Bible do a good job of pointing to that within each of us that is capable of that transformation,  as do many other books. 

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I agree.  

The author is correct in the basic premise that the bible is not a book of answers.  Read that way, a person will always find a proof text that fits with their preconceptions.  PaulS provides a good example of that.

Following the title, I don’t think the author is offering an answer but only a personal (and largely poetic) observation.  

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I agree that the Bible is a story from the human rather than the divine perspective.

I also agree that there is a 'living word' and that word can be 'heard' in nature, in human conversation and in written letters, be they found in a holy book or books of fiction, poetry, history, etc. 

 

Edited by thormas

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5 hours ago, Burl said:

No, not a few quick ones.  We need look at everything from the Israelites willingly accepting slavery in Egypt to their escape and how the Word evolves through the Christian era.

No, we do not need to look at everything.  Slavery existed, every historian supports that other than the most ardent biblical-apologist.  Yes there was a different type of slavery that Israelites inflicted on their own, but there was also very much the nasty type of slavery that meant nothing good for the slave not so fortunate to be born to the right tribe.

5 hours ago, Burl said:

We can start with the Amelekites if you wish, but need to take the same thorough perspective of how God brought His people from the Canaanite Baal worship of propitiatory sex and human sacrifice to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’ to the emancipatory beating of swords into plowshares, Wilberforce and Rev. ML King to the arrests of modern day slavers Weinstein and Epstein.

So you would start with the Amelekites?   The traditional view is that this is a legend used as a teaching story where Amelek represents the ego but the literal version of the extinction of giant dna which was created in Genesis 6:4 has become popular in the past few decades.

Just address the examples that you asked me to provide Burl.  Or as I expect, don't.

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7 minutes ago, thormas said:

I agree that the Bible is a story from the human rather than the divine perspective.

I also agree that there is a 'living word' and that word can be 'heard' in nature, in human conversation and in written letters, be they found in a holy book or books of fiction, poetry, history, etc. 

 

The Bible is an anthology of books of stories, “living word” conversations, letters, holy books, books of fiction, poetry, history, etc. written over millenia.  

I think both divine and human perspectives are included.

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3 hours ago, JosephM said:

Interesting article but i personally have a problem in believing that the Bible is a story that God is telling. It seems to me it is more a story the men who wrote it are telling based upon their imperfect understanding of God at that point in time.

Certainly, there are life changing passages that when received and practiced can point to the living word that can transform one. The  word of God to me in no way, shape or form is the letters written on a piece of paper or stone. My personal experience is some of the words written in the Bible do a good job of pointing to that within each of us that is capable of that transformation,  as do many other books. 

I agree wholeheartedly Joseph. 

The problem with thinking of it like the author of the article does, is that many Christians then have to bend and twist reality to make the bible fit what they believe it has to live up to.   It has taken awhile for Christianity to get to the point where it can acknowledge that many of these OT authors were simply reflecting the culture and beliefs of that time - many of which have no place in a modern world and which cannot be explained away or rationalised other than to say that was what they thought was right back then.

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2 hours ago, Burl said:

I agree.  

The author is correct in the basic premise that the bible is not a book of answers.  Read that way, a person will always find a proof text that fits with their preconceptions.  PaulS provides a good example of that.

I agree the bible is not a book of answers but I think you trump me in the preconception stakes.  

2 hours ago, Burl said:

Following the title, I don’t think the author is offering an answer but only a personal (and largely poetic) observation.  

A very poor poetic observation in my opinion.

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3 minutes ago, PaulS said:

No, we do not need to look at everything.  Slavery existed, every historian supports that other than the most ardent biblical-apologist.  Yes there was a different type of slavery that Israelites inflicted on their own, but there was also very much the nasty type of slavery that meant nothing good for the slave not so fortunate to be born to the right tribe.

Just address the examples that you asked me to provide Burl.  Or as I expect, don't.

The traditional explanation of the extirpation of the Amelek bloodline is that it is a metaphor for the extirpation of sin in the individual.  It is notable that the Hebrews did not follow directions and that sin still exists.

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Just now, Burl said:

The traditional explanation of the extirpation of the Amelek bloodline is that it is a metaphor for the extirpation of sin in the individual.  It is notable that the Hebrews did not follow directions and that sin still exists.

I don't think sin does exist - it is a figment of some people's imagination (religious people).

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6 minutes ago, PaulS said:

I don't think sin does exist - it is a figment of some people's imagination (religious people).

Some religious people believe, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law”.  You are not alone in your opinion.

I answered your question.

Edited by Burl

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1 minute ago, Burl said:

I answered your question.

Very poorly and not at all to the point - but I am getting used to how you do that Burl.

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So apart from slavery, some other very human representations of the bible that for me obliterate this article's premises that the bible is a love story about God trying to call all people unto him:

-God killing all the firstborn babies in Egypt - now what the hell did they do wrong!

-In Numbers we have a sabbath breaker stoned to death for collecting sticks on the sabbath.  Oh the crime!

-Also in Numbers we have something like 32000 virgins being claimed as booty when a war was waged against the Midianites.  I won't bore people with the dozens of examples of this sort of nonsense being proposed in the bible as the will of God.

Actually, it would be wasting my typing to try and list all of the very human claims made in the OT in the name of God.  I doubt you would want to fruitfully discuss them Burl.  Here's one website that lists a bunch of atrociites attributed to the good Lord in the OT if anybody else is interested - https://infidels.org/library/modern/donald_morgan/atrocity.html

For me, like Thormas states, the bible comes from a very much human perspective, based on societal, cultural and religious norms of the time.  

 

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35 minutes ago, Burl said:

The Bible is an anthology of books of stories, “living word” conversations, letters, holy books, books of fiction, poetry, history, etc. written over millenia.  

I think both divine and human perspectives are included.

This might bring us to an entirely different conversation but does the divine have a perspective?  My take is that the divine is omnipresent, living spirit snd word, immanent in creation and it is man that 'sees' something of the mystery he calls God and one result of that reflections is our holy books.

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37 minutes ago, PaulS said:

I don't think sin does exist - it is a figment of some people's imagination (religious people).

Yet another conversation (perhaps) but it appears obvious that there is 'wrong doing or wrong action' in the world and 'religious' people merely use the word sin to refer to certain of these actions (for example, few or none of us think that going left when you should have gone right to grandmother's house is sin, although it was wrong). 

So, the actions are not a figment of anyone's imagination, they are as real as can be. The only thing made up, as is all language, is the word sin to designate these actions. In addition, religious people assume there is the Good, called God by many and these actions (i.e. sins) damage or cause harm both in human relationships (again, obvious for the most part) and the relationship with the Good or God (a belief and debatable whether it is merely imagined or not).  

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39 minutes ago, PaulS said:

For me, like Thormas states, the bible comes from a very much human perspective, based on societal, cultural and religious norms of the time.  

Agreed, so we can conclude, if the bible is a human perspective (and not God's), that the nasty stuff attributed to God is simply a time bound human perspective of some about God. And it seems obvious that that perspective changes and improves over time.

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1 hour ago, thormas said:

This might bring us to an entirely different conversation but does the divine have a perspective?  My take is that the divine is omnipresent, living spirit snd word, immanent in creation and it is man that 'sees' something of the mystery he calls God and one result of that reflections is our holy books.

Both/and.  Romans 1 points out that the omnipresence of God is easily observable throughout creation.

My personal observation is that God prefers variety and complexity, while mankind prefers simplicity and reductionism.

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3 hours ago, thormas said:

Yet another conversation (perhaps) but it appears obvious that there is 'wrong doing or wrong action' in the world and 'religious' people merely use the word sin to refer to certain of these actions.

I don't think there is anything 'mere' about use of the word sin, although perhaps some consider it mere by not appreciating the connotations in using such language.  The use of the word sin suggest transgression of divine law.  More specifically, it is the offence of breaking, or the breaking of, a religious or moral law.  But whose moral law and by which gauge do we assess it?  At the more extreme end there are Christians who say sin is any lack of conformity to the moral character of God or the law of God.  Sin is associated with 'evil' thoughts, speaking evil, or omitting good - which is where they start to get into a pickle because all acts need to then be determined as sinful or not and we have all seen how that often ends!  And of course there are those who believe we are born sinners, we are born evil, and that we need saving.  So in that regard I say sin is a nonsense and is a figment of religious people's imagination.

Actions may be real, but it is what we assign to that action that makes it 'good' or 'bad'.  For instance, killing another person might be considered bad or it might be considered good, depending on the community's understanding at the time.  I don't think there is any set code of what is or what is not 'sin' and I would further say that how we consider these actions does change over time (which is why you and I aren't smashing babies heads against rocks or enslaving virgins from conquered communities outside of ours).  I do not expect Burl was using the word 'sin' the same way you or I might use it as a substitute for any other word that may better describe an action that harms one's community.

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3 hours ago, thormas said:

Agreed, so we can conclude, if the bible is a human perspective (and not God's), that the nasty stuff attributed to God is simply a time bound human perspective of some about God. And it seems obvious that that perspective changes and improves over time.

You and I probably can conclude this, but I'm not sure Burl can.  He certainly seemed to defend slavery as simply a HR exercise when I expect you would acknowledge it for the harm that it did to those it enslaved and I doubt you would try to defend it in any way.  I expect you also agree with me about the other 'nasty stuff' in the bible being of man and not of God, but I am yet to hear Burl agree, so I guess the question remains (but I'm no longer expecting a genuine answer from Burl).

My initial response to the article was in the author's calling of the bible "Quite possibly the greatest love story" and "It’s a story of a God that goes to extreme lengths to bring his people back to Him".  It's that old exclusion repeating itself - In the OT God's people certainly weren't considered those to be outside of the chosen tribe of the Israelites.  By affirming the article as a nice short essay I was simply trying to understand if Burl saw the entire bible this way, as the author proposes, because to me it seems an absolute nonsense that the OT was anything but bad news for those outside of Israel and I think this article's author is looking through rose-coloured Christian glasses if he thinks all of those violent and harmful stories in the OT were about God going to extreme lengths to bring his people back to Him.   For the author to claim that the Bible is a story of a people that choose death over life and a God that took on death so that he could bring his people back into life, totally disregards pretty much the entire OT (no God took on death ion the OT so that he could bring his people back into life).

Then again, maybe he's just trying to be poetic for drama's sake and does acknowledge the atrocities committed in the name of God by people who simply thought that was what God wanted.

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52 minutes ago, PaulS said:

You and I probably can conclude this, but I'm not sure Burl can.  He certainly seemed to defend slavery as simply a HR exercise when I expect you would acknowledge it for the harm that it did to those it enslaved and I doubt you would try to defend it in any way.  I expect you also agree with me about the other 'nasty stuff' in the bible being of man and not of God, but I am yet to hear Burl agree, so I guess the question remains (but I'm no longer expecting a genuine answer from Burl).

My initial response to the article was in the author's calling of the bible "Quite possibly the greatest love story" and "It’s a story of a God that goes to extreme lengths to bring his people back to Him".  It's that old exclusion repeating itself - In the OT God's people certainly weren't considered those to be outside of the chosen tribe of the Israelites.  By affirming the article as a nice short essay I was simply trying to understand if Burl saw the entire bible this way, as the author proposes, because to me it seems an absolute nonsense that the OT was anything but bad news for those outside of Israel and I think this article's author is looking through rose-coloured Christian glasses if he thinks all of those violent and harmful stories in the OT were about God going to extreme lengths to bring his people back to Him.   For the author to claim that the Bible is a story of a people that choose death over life and a God that took on death so that he could bring his people back into life, totally disregards pretty much the entire OT (no God took on death ion the OT so that he could bring his people back into life).

Then again, maybe he's just trying to be poetic for drama's sake and does acknowledge the atrocities committed in the name of God by people who simply thought that was what God wanted.

Perhaps you can restate this with less personal attack and derision, Paul?

I offered to develop a complete explanation based on the extensive Mosaic law in Exodus but you rejected that.  You wanted quick, low information answers in a thread about the Bible is not an answer book.

So I provide a quick response and you insult me for that!  There is nothing in your post that leads me to expect to think you might seriously consider anything I might say.

Jesus taught to not discuss spiritual matters with persons who showed no respect, so I will follow that instruction.

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3 hours ago, Burl said:

Both/and.  Romans 1 points out that the omnipresence of God is easily observable throughout creation.

My personal observation is that God prefers variety and complexity, while mankind prefers simplicity and reductionism.

I am fine with Romans but it still speaks of the human observation (perspective) of creation. This gets a bit interesting in acknowledging both the 'active' presence of God and, as some theologians write, the epistemological distance between God and man, so that man is not overwhelmed by the Divine and can still make his own decision to enter into relationship with the Divine. God is the presence, that presence is active in and through creation, specifically the human, but it is for man to perceive the divine 'perspective.' 

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