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Everything posted by thormas

  1. Burl, You do have a way: throwing in a disparaging characterization,description or comment that must apply if another does not accept what you are selling (ex. poor Ms. Blackstone's education must be lacking). Merely because one does not subscribe to some of what is mentioned in these posts, does not mean they do not believe in the 'supernatural realm' - if that is what is meant by or includes 'God.' As has been discussed in these topics already (see theism, panentheism), there is a difference in defining/understanding God and, therefore, this term. For me, we live in a Presence (in
  2. Burl, Thanks for this take on heaven, it is hilarious and I intend to send it to my friends.
  3. Burl, I have spoken to Ehrman a couple times and he is actually a very happy historian - and a good man. His website donates, I believe, 100% of earnings to the hungry. I see no cynicism in him, especially in his accomplishments or ongoing work. Nor does he try to convert anyone to his point of view. I find him a great resource in that he, as much a possible, tries to present what can be known about early christianity, no more, no less.
  4. Burl, I, humbly, just don't buy it. It is perfectly fine to question the true reality of the experiences you mention. It is not feigning ignorance, I simply don't buy that God works this way. And as have said, you have met people who had God speak to them (and there are people who say a Saint has performed a miracle or that Jesus' image appeared in a crust of bread) - but that is simply what they are saying. I know that Jesus speaks/prays to the Father, does God speak to Jesus - that is not an addition like at his baptism but one that has some true ring of the historical? Aha, so ther
  5. Burl, I did say such things did not 'speak to me' (and also some/many? others). So that part can't be disputed. I know about personal testimonies concerning such matters but I also know that people see Jesus, Mary or God Himself (whatever he looks like) in paint, in the clouds and in a crust of bread. All are 'religious or spiritual' testimonies but even such group testimonies are not proof*. Also you are talking about hospitals and who is normally is a hospital over night? People who are not well at that moment in time. Also, I deal with hospitals regularly and have relatives who were n
  6. I'm Thormas - a name given to me by my daughter when she was little. Raised a Catholic and educated in Catholic schools through grad school. My undergraduate degree is in Philosophy, with the Benedictines, my favorites and my master is in Systematic Theology. I taught for 12 years in Catholic HSs in NJ before deciding I had to make money if I ever wanted to have a family and afford a house. I have lived in NC for over 20 years a short distance from 3 great universities, including UNC-Chapel Hill. I have continued to read, discuss and write (for myself) about Christian theology ever since
  7. Burl, If the discussion is about an ancient view of the cosmos, then along with a three tiered universe they believed in angels and demons. However, if the Bible is a living word, then it must resonate with people 'where it finds them.' Thus in today's world, no three tiered universe, no angels and demons and for many there are no non-incarnate prophets or patriarchs interceding with those of us who are bodily beings. Thus this view, while historically interesting, is irrelevant because it does not 'speak' to me. It does not call the living. Simple as that.
  8. Burl - ancient aliens? Bill, I was raised a Catholic so neither liberal or progressive (in the 50s and 60s) and I agree that the Bible was considered the inerrant word of god and the pope infallible. And we were discouraged from questioning not only the Bible but for Catholics, the priest and especially the nuns. Some like Bart Ehrman and Dale Allison and others are still 'resolving these problem' so you seem to be in good company. Long story, short I don't believe that God authored or oversaw the creation of the bible. And again, this would have to be a theistic god (with a miracu
  9. Bill, good points all. I do accept that our language is metaphorical but I have begun to disagree with the understanding that God is so distance, so other than we can never say anything about 'him.' God is also 'part of us' and I think we can say things that, for a lack of a better way to phrase it, 'touch' the reality of God - but it is true that we will never know for sure.
  10. I respect your opinion Burl but you lost me at angels - although I am always open to possibilities. I allow for other life, other worlds but always envision it as akin to the bodily, like us. And, I do believe in the continuation of life after death and that the prophets, saints, patriarchs, and the many ordinary (and eventually all) people live in God. What that actually means or looks like, no idea. I don't believe, for lack of a better way of saying it, in such non-incarnates interacting with us rather I believe that God is present, calling (Word) and encouraging (Spirit) us to Fulfillm
  11. My first theology read after college was Gregory Baum's Man Becoming. Still for me, the most influential. Also try John Hick and John Macquarie both incredible writers and thinkers. Read Hick's 'The Metaphor of God Incarnate.' You could spend the next 10 years on Hick alone. As mentioned above Borg, Crossan and Ehrman but also try Dale Allison, especially his 'Historical Christ and the Theological Jesus And Philip Jensen's The Jesus Wars
  12. Burl, what are the non-incarnate entities you mentioned? I think we are unique because we are most like god and intended to be the Sons and Daughters of Abba but I do recognize that we are and must be the beings we are, i.e. physical. Not sure what you mean that according to Christianity the body and physical world is our reason for being. It is our means but the reason? Paul, I think I understand your point but for Christians and most religious people, our reason for being is Oneness with God or Abundant Life. This is not scientific certainty but 'certainty' found in faith, which is s
  13. Bill, thanks for the examples and I believe I get what you mean by nature. I agree with your understanding of theism and I do not believe that God is a being, just a bigger, supreme being than man. I think this is human thinking over the centuries and still accepted by many today. But I think it is mistaken and misleading. I guess in my understanding of panentheism God is also not a supernatural being, rather there is only Being and all that is, is 'in, of and because of' Being. I am not a pantheist in that I don't believe we or the world is God (this truth is evident to me when I loo
  14. I can allow that a group or tribe of people, believing that there was a God and that this God was 'theirs" and they his, decided to make circumcision a sign of membership. Seems a bit extreme as do some of the other rituals that Burl mentions and I might have gone to the tribe down the road but I do not accept that God had anything to do about it. This was a human decision, a human ritual based on their notion of god and membership. It would seem that if someone believes these membership directions or the genocide directives came directly or indirectly from God their idea of God would mirr
  15. Scripture is the words of men as they try to say something about the Divinity they believe is experienced in their lives. And, human language is conditioned by where men and women are in particular periods of time, as an example we no longer believe in a three tiered universe. So, It might be good to use even negative scripture to drive home this reality. And, all I can say of all these examples is, ouch!
  16. I wonder if we can ever completely lose our-self or even if we would want to, if that is actually the goal. I suspect not. I think the 'goal' is to transform the self into a truly Human Being. This I believe is analogous to what I hope for my daughter: that she not lose her-self but that she become her truest self, that she achieves her true Humanness. I think it is not self but self-centeredness that must be overcome and I believe that selfishness or self-centeredness is the only and 'original' sin - which presents itself in myriad ways. And, this (overcoming) is only accomplished by the
  17. Thanks Bill and can you give me an example of Nature so I'm on the same page?
  18. Bill, I just saw your latest post. I too am not a theist, more a panentheist agreeing with Paul that we live, move and have our being in God/Being. So I agree that god is no being and I allow that the objects (things) of science differ from the subject of faith. I have never had mystical experiences of god and I also am skeptical of supernatural claims - simply because if we are in/of Being or, conversely, Divinity is in the midst of humanity, there is no need for a miraculous in-breaking of the supernatural into the so-called natural world of man. I however, do not believe that nature is all
  19. If we recognize that Jesus, a 1st C Jew, 'came' for the Jews - then it would seem to follow they were his (primary) focus. However it does seem that others were included and welcome (by him or by in the stories create about him): Samaritans, Romans, the sick, the shunned and the sinners. It appears he was concerned with the imminent Kingdom and 'battling' the religious authorities of his day, so that would help to explain the stark distinction between the saved and the not so saved. Paul did spread the message to the gentiles but, although they came after him, the Gospels (and the earlier
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