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God's Actual Words?


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I'm finding that asking literalist or 'Bible-believing' Christians to support or demonstrate their assumption that the Bible is God's actual words is something of a taboo question.

 

they often make assertions such as 'God says this' when citing a passage in the Bible or putting down some aspect of human behaviour that they disapprove of. In doing so they are making two assumptions:

 

1. that the Bible really is God's actual words, and not the words of writers, however inspired or devout.

 

2. That the Bible was intended to refer to the present day.

 

It is my belief that these assumptions are not tenable, and I often ask them to support them. Invariably I meet with anger and curses, accusations of blasphemy, or the extermiost choice: The Bible is either God's own words or a hoax,a forgery.

 

I have no time for extremism. I don't believe that Jesus must be either God or a madman; there are many possibilioties in between. Simlarly, I believe that the Bible was the 'words about God', the writings in faith of sincere theologians (ofetn very cleverly written too!).

I am aware that many dogmas hang on the assumpions they make: Creationism, forminstance. But I cannot get them to understand that these are assumptions, and that they are not proven by quoting the Bible! (especially 2 Timothy!)

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It's really difficult for a lot of people to live in the world without some kind of a solid foundation of belief. I often make the point to my fundamentalist friends that any other document compiled in the same manner as the Bible would be looked upon with the deepest skepticism, yet this document is accepted without question.

I try not to look down my nose at these people, or anyone else who truly seeks God. I think it's unfortunate that more of these truly kind-hearted people can't be more open-minded but facts are facts: Most people are unwilling to walk the moral/spiritual tightrope without a net.

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I posted a thread in this forum called Approaches to Biblical Interpretation back in Aug. 2003 which seems relevant to this discussion. I hope you like it! (just scroll back a few pages on this message board to find it).

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Thanks, Brother Rog, I read the thread and think it sums it all up brilliantly. The trouble is, I have to deal with as literalist/fundamentalist who says (in effect) 'yes, the Bible is all literally true, but you need spiritual discernment, not intellect, to undertstand it, and I've got it, and you haven't because you're not a 'real' christian!'

QED!

 

But it isn't a serious problem, really.

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Does anyone have ideas as to why the Christian tradition has in the main ignored many of the Jewish teachings and laws concerning acceptable food, keeping the Sabbath (Saturday) holy, etc. I am not aware that Jesus, who as an observant jew would have followed jewish law, - I am not aware that he ever advocated ignoring jewish laws, even though he did "re-interpret" some, so as to get at the spitit rather than the letter of the law.

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Hi, angelus, I'm no scholar, but I believe most of this widening of belief took place in the early church, stemming from S.Paul, who preaches against compulsory circumcision, and prohibited foods.

 

the inspiration for all this, I think was the need to accept more and more gentiles as Christians, so the Church felt the urge to move away from being a splinter-group of Judaism.

 

Their justification was the many parables and passages in the gospels which foretell the giving of the Gospel to the gentiles after the Jews had rejected it. In the same way the Christians moved Sabbath to Sunday, to show they were placing the Resurrection first , or as a second Passover, if you like.

 

Of course the question of what Jesus actually, specifically, believed and advocated is very difficult for us to determine, if one accepts that we have only the Jesus transmitted to us by the Gospel writers. I think I can say that here! though I'd be howled down by fundies if I said it on 'Premier Online Forum' or the BBC Christian mesage Board! the general impression I get is of a radical rabbi who didn't let tradition get in the way of his messaage but trod carefully enough to get past the rules, until eventually his principles cost him his life. The Divine Tragedy already! he should have listened to his Mother...

Edited by Ford Madox Brown
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Yes, but surely moving the sabbath to sunday was simply so as to adopt the pre-existing pagan sabbath, to keep new converts happy. As with so many other older pagan traditions that were incorporated over time.

 

I wonder if re-incorporating some of the older jewish stuff with in fact give more authenticity to christianity? After all, we claim that its roots are in jewish history, why not be a bit more bold in living it out?

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I don't think that that shift was to keep anyone happy. I believe it was to squash pagan religious practices (specifically worship of a Sun god). Let's not forget that Constantine decided to make Christianity (a particular flavor of it) mandatory for all of his subjects (punishable by death). It's probable, though, that his pagan roots heavily influence his view of Jesus, particularly in promoting Jesus from human to divine. I'm not a historian, so if I've misrepresented history here, please speak up!

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That sounds fine to me, fatherman, although I'm no historian. My reading onthe subject being confined fto Evelyn Waugh's novel 'Helena', abnout the mother of Constantine, who reputedly recovered the True Cross.

 

Of course the change, which you mention, from perseucted minority to compulsory world religion was traumatic for the Church. One could argue some of them never quite got over it.

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