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Encouraging dialogue here is a bit difficult. :P And to be honest, I too am at a loss for subject matter.

 

So, here is a thread where you can post whatever you want about religion, spirituality, Christianity, etc ...

 

If you have nice stuff to say, post it. If you have a rant, post it.

 

Hopefully something said will in turn cause someone else to say something else, and Voila! dialogue.

 

1, 2, 3, GO!

 

:lol:

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It's worth a shot.

 

I'm reading The Gospel According to John again for the first time in years. Let me tell you something that I'm no longer afraid to say about John's Jesus. He's a nuisance. He's annoying. He's confounding. He's slippery. I sympathize with the Pharisees.

 

In John 5:31-40, Jesus says that if he testifies on his own behalf his testimony is invalid. So he sites John (not present) and The Father (invisible) as his witnesses.

 

Then in John 8:12-18, Jesus is again called on to give witnesses to testify on his behalf. By law, he's required to give two. He testifies on his own behalf (as he said himself, not valid) and claims his Heavenly Father as his second (doesn't exactly stand up in a court of law).

 

I understand this on one level, but from the Pharisees' viewpoint...OY!

 

If it weren't for the miracles...

 

And here's the problem with miracle men and women (I've encountered a couple). You have to put up with their crap because you want their miracles...and they know it! Eventually, you say "Screw it! I'd rather just suffer!"

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Your post made me think of the charge that some Christians make against other Christians about "cherry picking" bible verses. (I'm not saying that you are doing that.)

 

In actuality the entire bible is cherry picked. It's made up of a bunch of little books, which in turn are made up of a bunch of smaller stories, written by different people, that don't always agree with each other. (That's why your post made me think of this.) In addition, the books that currently make up the bible were picked out of numerous books to make up the canon. And the Luther took a few out, to cherry pick the protestant bible. Wow. That's a lot of cherry picking. :D

 

I am outside the norm in that I don't mind it, the contradictions. I try to look at the "big picture," but I also am willing to take each verse as it stands on it's own.

Edited by AletheiaRivers
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Your post made me think of the charge that some Christians make against other Christians about "cherry picking" bible verses. (I'm not saying that you are doing that.)

 

In actuality the entire bible is cherry picked. It's made up of a bunch of little books, which in turn are made up of a bunch of smaller stories, written by different people, that don't always agree with each other. (That's why your post made me think of this.) In addition, the books that currently make up the bible were picked out of numerous books to make up the canon. And the Luther took a few out, to cherry pick the protestant bible. Wow. That's a lot of cherry picking.  :D

 

I am outside the norm in that I don't mind it, the contradictions. I try to look at the "big picture," but I also am willing to take each verse as it stands on it's own.

 

Agree. EVERYONE "picks and chooses" Bible verses, especially those who accuse others of doing it. Jesus, for example, certainly picked and chose which verses of Jewish scriptures he wanted to present.

 

I bet there are inerrantists who don't want to hear about Matt 25:31-46 because it's the ONLY picutre of the Last Judgment in the gospels, and doesn't say a word about faith. In fact, the ones who are helping "these little ones" don't even know they are doing it for Jesus.

 

Nor do they want to hear about Luke's Sermon on the Plateau, where Jesus says "Blessed are you poor....and Woe to you rich."

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Since you opened the floodgates, Aletheia, I thot I'd post this rant:

 

BIBLE INERRANCY

 

It seems to me that the fundies do a disservice to Jewish/Christian scriptures by insisting on the doctrine of inerrancy. Since Protestants broke away from Catholicism, they repudiated papal infallibility, but they seemed to miss it, because they set up something else as infallible—this time a book (actually a whole bunch of books), not a man.

 

The doctrine of inerrancy makes it easy for the critics of religion to make mincemeat of any such claim by pointing to the many contradictions and sometimes absurd statements in the bible.

 

The Catholic Church was saved from this mistaken notion by allowing for literary—as opposed to literal--interpretation. Whatever else the Bible is, it is a work (many works) of literature. As such, it is susceptible to literary analysis. All kinds of literary genres and devices are represented there—history, poetry, allegory, metaphor, hyperbole, etc. The RCC has always allowed for allegorical interpretation. For example, the "Jahwist" writer of Ch 3 in Genesis signals us he is writing an allegory by calling two of the trees in the Garden of Eden, the "Tree of Life" and the "Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil." These are not actual trees (Duh). I think the Jahwist would have been flabbergasted if he realized that anyone would interpret his story literally.

 

As a result of allowing for allegorical interpretation, the RCC has no problem with evolution. It has no problem with admitting that the earth is billions of years old.

 

Similarly, the tales of Job and Jonah are pretty obviously short stories, i.e., works of fiction. But they are designed to teach something.

 

Truth is in the Bible, but it must be dug for with the tools of literary analysis. Those who think the truth always lies on the surface make Christianity look….errant.

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I will most likely read John several times over with different intents. The first reading will be a literal reading focusing on getting the basic events, dialog, and their sequence, setting aside the metaphors and the gospel writer's intent for later.

 

I suspect the two testifying events (whether they happened exactly like that are not) are propably representative of the way Jesus dealt with human authority. What Jesus understands that the Pharisees don't is that no human other than himself can truly testify that he is who he says he is (the I Am) with the possible exception of his cousin John (but even then someone inside the power structure would have to validate John's revelation about Jesus' authority). Jesus is in a no win here. They're asking him to justify himself, but the only authority they will recognize as sufficient justification is their own.

 

Jesus has a tough job. He has to convince folks that he's the Son of God without ever receiving an endorsement from the Jewish religious power structure. True, he has some powerful tools. Plus, folks already have some expectations of what a the Messiah is. They will be disappointed.

 

His first big gun is Miracles. Many are swayed just from the miracles. For some, it's at least enough to get their attention.

 

Second, is his self-possessed authority, wisdom, and personal charisma. When the priests send some soldiers to arrest him, they come back empty-handed because they were blown away by the way he talked.

 

Third, fulfillment of prophecy and scriptural requirements for Messiahhood. He's got all the right creds (Bethlehem, Son of David, etc.) and the events seem to line up with the prophets (especially Isaiah).

 

Of course he saves the best for last, but then it's too late...right? How can he be King if he's dead or in Heaven?

 

I'm looking forward to deeper readings. Readings looking for what Borg calls the More than Literal meaning.

 

 

Anyway, I'm not a big fan of cherry-picking (proof-texting) either (dangerous, manipulative technique). I was actually working from a context here, but call me on it if ever actually do it! I will consider it a red flag.

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I will most likely read John several times over with different intents.

 

I like to do this too. I'll look at it from a literal pov, a historical pov, a literary pov.

 

Second, is his self-possessed authority, wisdom, and personal charisma. 

 

I find that it is the above that impresses and convicts me about Jesus more than

 

I'm looking forward to deeper readings. Readings looking for what Borg calls the More than Literal meaning.

 

I was actually working from a context here, but call me on it if ever actually do it!  I will consider it a red flag.

 

I definitely am not implying that you are doing that. :) And in actuality, I don't think we can get away from it. As Jeanott said, even Jesus did it.

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And in actuality, I don't think we can get away from it. As Jeanott said, even Jesus did it.

 

I agree. It's impossible to avoid. I think, though that I've never given the Gospels a fair shake. Anne Rice's book "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt", has been working on me.

I think that I've spent so much time tiptoeing around the gospel scriptures so long that I'm afraid I don't know what they really say. <<Oh I don't like this hell stuff, I think I'll just skip it>> or <<Oh, I don't buy this resurrection business, I think I'll dedicate a few years coming up with crackpot theories of what really happened >>.

 

Rice has challenged me to give this books a fair shake. Maybe her assertion pans out.

 

Assertion: The Gospels were written before the fall of Jerusalem rather than after because no writer could possibly ignore something so significant; therefore, the likelihood that the Gospels are at least based on first-hand accounts is increased. If they are first-hand accounts that are corroberated by several witness, then the likelihood of them being factual is also increased.

 

Whoa! If an extremely well-read author and former atheist like Anne Rice is swayed (based on her exhaustive study of 1st century world and the Jesus story), perhaps I should be willing to look at this with fresh eyes. I want to read the gospels the way Rice tells her first story: As if it is factual. As if Jesus truly is not just a son of God, but God's only Begotten Son. That's the job of the Gospel writer, to make a compelling argument that Jesus is the one and only Son of God (or at least that he's the Messiah). So far, John hasn't convinced me.

 

I don't have a problem with miracles. I don't even have a problem with resurrection, but to say the Jesus is the only one? Haven't there been other Christs? Don't we all have the same potential as Jesus? Sure, maybe it would take a few thousand lifetimes to get there, but who knows how many lifetimes it took Jesus? Just one? He claimed to have been around a long time before landing in Bethlehem.

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I think, though that I've never given the Gospels a fair shake.  Anne Rice's book "Christ the Lord:  Out of Egypt", has been working on me.

 

Oh yeah, it did that to me too. She turned me onto Luke Timothy Johnson and got me to re-examine Catholicism. Which, as Jeanott pointed out, looks at the Bible through literary lenses, rather than thru the historical/critical lense (ala Jesus Seminar). The historical/critical method leads either to fundamentalism (accepting everything as literally true) or to extreme liberalism (tossing aside everything that couldn't be [in the opinion of the scholar] literally true).

 

Assertion: The Gospels were written before the fall of Jerusalem rather than after because no writer could possibly ignore something so significant;

 

That impressed me as well. I'd never heard of or thought of that before.

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I am outside the norm in that I don't mind it, the contradictions. I try to look at the "big picture," but I also am willing to take each verse as it stands on it's own.

 

I must not even know where the norm is :D ....... not only do I "not mind it"...... I find the contradictions to be the most interesting. I love their play off each other. To me it's about syzygy. It's what makes duality so much fun. The opposites usually give us some hint about the ineffable whole.

 

That's why I enjoy all the Gospels! Matthew, Luke, Mark, John, Mary, Thomas, Judas, Phillip, James, Truth.........

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I must not even know where the norm is :D ....... not only do I "not mind it"...... I find the contradictions to be the most interesting.

 

LOL! Me too.

 

The opposites usually give us some hint about the ineffable whole.

 

Yup. Yin/yang baby. Duality in unity. Multiplicity in singularity. That's why they call me the yin/yang kid. Although flow now wants to call me 'swamp thing'. :P

 

That's why I enjoy all the Gospels!  Matthew, Luke, Mark, John, Mary, Thomas, Judas, Phillip, James, Truth.........

 

One of these days I'll get around to reading them all. I do like Thomas. B)

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I find that it is the above that impresses and convicts me about Jesus more than

 

 

Boy did I ever have a post glitch above. The end of that sentence should be "I find that it is the above (Jesus' self-possessed authority, wisdom, and personal charisma) that impresses me and convicts me about Jesus even more than the miracles.

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The historical/critical method leads either to fundamentalism (accepting everything as literally true) or to extreme liberalism (tossing aside everything that couldn't be [in the opinion of the scholar] literally true).

 

I would say there is a difference between fundamentalism and literalism (although literalism is a key element in fundamentalism). I guess I think of fundamentalism as have more to do with a strict adherence to a belief system; whereas, literalism is the literal interpretation of scripture.

 

Okay, so let's look into future, shall we?

 

<<diddly doop>><<diddly doop>><<diddly doop>><<diddly doop>>

 

Let's say that I decide to take the Gospel of John as literal fact (at least that he believed it to be). Then I have a few more choices to make. First, do I accept the writer of John at face value. Do I believe him? I still have a choice to make. Do I allow it affect my life? Do I dedicate my life to becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ strictly as it is described in the book of John? What about Matthew, Mark, and Luke? What about Paul? Thomas? What about the rest of the books? Okay, now. Do I then accept these "facts" as binding? By God? God's divine Word that has total authority over my life and after-life? And finally, do I decide that God has authority over you, too; and therefore, I need to dedicate my life to bringing you into full submission to God through Jesus Christ as prescribed by the Bible?

 

<<diddly doop>><<diddly doop>><<diddly doop>><<diddly doop>>

 

Ok, we're back. <<whew!>> I'm still a progressive Christian. Why are fundamentalism or extreme liberalism the only possible outcomes? There are a lot of steps in between using historical/critical method and becoming a fundamentalist, and that left turn toward total rejection of the Gospels is not a given either.

 

What about apathy? That's a great option you left out. ;) There are lots of fantastic stories that I believe may have really happened, but I just don't care enough to do anything about them. I think if people knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that their literal acceptance of Jesus Christ as their personal savior would give them a first class ticket to paradise and anything else condemns them to eternal burning in the fires of hell, a surprising number of people still wouldn't do a damn thing.

 

Or --- What if I accept the story as is. Live with it. Ponder it. Let it work on me. Consider its implications. Consider its deeper meaning. Consider it's historical/cultural context -- not to meld it to my liking, but to understand it more fully and as it was intended (I don't believe any of this is outside of the scope of the historical/critical method). I'm still not compelled to let anything true, factual, or otherwise have authority over my life. I need not reject it either.

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Okay, I'm done with my Wayne's World flashback. :D

 

I would say there is a difference between fundamentalism and literalism (although literalism is a  key element in fundamentalism).

 

I'm just saying that literalism, followed to its conclusion, imo, will lead to one of those two camps. Perhaps I'm being unfair, but that's been my experience. If you accept that Jesus literally rode into Jeruselem on one donkey, then you can't literally accept that he rode into Jeruselem on two donkeys. Stuff like that. The inerrantist will say that those passages are reconcilable, which they might be, but only with dissonance.

 

Why are fundamentalism or extreme liberalism the only possible outcomes?  There are a lot of steps in between using historical/critical method and becoming a fundamentalist, and that left turn toward total rejection of the Gospels is not a given either.

 

I'm not sure, but I think I we might be talking past each other. I only brought up the historical/critical method because you mentioned Rice. She's Catholic, and as a rule, the historical/critical method is of secondary (or less) importance in scripture interpretation. The historical/critical method seems to be more important to liberal scholars, who, in their quest for the historical Jesus, might be missing the bigger picture.

 

Or --- What if I accept the story as is.  Live with it.  Ponder it.  Let it work on me.  Consider its implications.  Consider its deeper meaning.  Consider it's historical/cultural context -- not to meld it to my liking, but to understand it more fully and as it was intended (I don't believe any of this is outside of the scope of the historical/critical method). 

 

What you've said above is closer (imo) to approaching the gospels as literature. Approaching the gospels as literature doesn't mean that Jesus didn't historically exist, or wasn't literally raised from the dead. It just allows that what is written, although inspired of God, may also have errors, because it was written by humans.

 

Here's a quote about a lecture by Professor Johnson:

 

"He approaches the Gospels and our perceptions of Jesus from a different perspective than the popular quest for the "historical Jesus."

 

Professor Johnson asserts that the portrait of Jesus addressed by such an approach, legitimate and compelling though such an approach may be, leads to questions that are virtually "impossible to answer satisfactorily" through proper historical methods.

 

"It is, after all, as literature that the Gospels influenced history. And it is through literature that present-day readers can continue to encounter Jesus," he says.

 

I'm still not compelled to let anything true, factual, or otherwise have authority over my life.  I need not reject it either.

 

:( I haven't hit a nerve have I? I didn't mean to.

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No, I just had a little too much coffee today! My tone did not come across properly. And it looks like that last bit of writing suffered from premature post-ilation.

 

I meant to say that by taking a literal approach I'm not necessarily limiting myself to accepting its authority.

 

I also think I misunderstood something you said. I somehow mistook your use of the term "historical/critical" as reading the Bible as if it is historical fact. Perhaps that's not what you're saying.

 

Mostly I'm just playing devil's advocate here. I've been quiet for so long, I'm just exploding with thought. The truth is, I'm not a literalist or a fundamentalist. As always, I'm just trying to be open.

 

This Christianity thing is inescapable for me, Aletheia. I guess I'm just trying to learn how to embrace it.

 

Oh! I wasn't sure my Wayne's World reference would come across in print, but I had a feeling you might pick up on it. :D

Edited by fatherman
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Dear Swamp Thing et al:

 

Forests and trees. When people are reticent to think about and imagine just what the forest might be and look like, they opt for describing individual trees in excruciating detail, and then proceed to debate those details ad infinitum.

 

I went to see the "evil movie" with my family yesterday, and I was not simply struck by the portrayal of the ad infinitum debate regarding the historical nature of Jesus' life and existence, but mostly how this has been turned into a centuries long saga of internecine warfare over what faction of humanity should control this one portion of the "big picture" story. Because it does, on the face of it, seem to somehow convey G-d's intent regarding a purpose behind the world being made in the first place.

 

When I was a kid in the 50's (ugh, it's really scary to say things like that) we had a blonde, 17" console Motorola TV that I watched constantly on weekends (maybe that's my major malfunction). One of the historical/documentary programs I liked best was called "The Big Picture". It was a propaganda piece made by the US Army, sponsored by Pall Mall cigarettes (which probably killed more people than wars from 1945-1975) , and told us stories regarding the military's usefulness to human civilization.

 

I'm not going to dispute the intent of the program, only to say that civilization does need protection from the "bad guys" from time to time, and the US military has been doing that quite well for the last 100 years or so. But there is always that temptation for political interests in power to demonize others "into" bad guy roles from time to time so that the the military card may be played in order to justify both the demonization process and the "rightness" of a nation's cause and destiny.

 

When one looks back on Constantine's adoption of Christianity as the "true" religion, and when one considers how the basic two-party debate regarding the "true" nature of Jesus' life and works played out at Nicea into a politically and militarily expedient solution to the ills that were wrecking the known world at the time; it could certainly be said that the process unified a duality, a degree of peace was established between the warring Christian factions of the Early church, and the progress of civilization renewed it's three steps forward and two-steps back, lurching stumble of progress to the present. I believe that we're all beginning to go through a similar period in the present, and it is a scary thing for most people.

 

It's so much easier to hang onto what is known and argue about that, rather than to ask difficult questions and find obscure answers, test them, evaluate their results, and then stumble forward again. This is the basic process of progress.

 

Yes the "big picture" needs to be known and we need to re-explore, probably, the materials that have been thrown on the ash heap in the past in order to figure out just why they were so threatening to people and institutions in power and control. People like the "yin/yang kids" of the world have to take major roles in that process, because it's all mostly past people of my generation. And the world is increasingly being designed such that important information cannot be openly shared and known among like-minded people, because, well, we're all being conditioned to believe that's what "terrorists" do.

 

Do not forget, "We the people" create the future in a democracy. And democracy reflects the constantly changing nature of the world that G-d created back in the day. The talking heads on television and in the rest of the media do not as a general rule.

 

Max Headroom for President !

 

flow.... :blink:

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"yin/yang kids"

 

 

In relation to the notion of the indigo children?

 

I don't know much about them, but they are supposed to mark a new phase in human evolution that will usher in the new age.

 

"Yin/Yang Kids" was an acknowledgement to the glory of young people like AR. They are the future, not me.

 

I was not aware of the "indigo kids" legend, but that makes sense to me. I'll visit the site and absorb what I can. Oh, and I really like the music of "the Indigo Girls". Need to put some of that on my "shuffle".

 

I have long been of he opinion that Jesus was a sort of herald sent by G-d to put the world on notice that a new type of human was coming and that this would truly change the world; and, for the better in the long run. My opinion is that this is much of what the 20th century was really about.

 

Thanks fatherman ! Sometimes when I get rolling I tend to gush instead of flow. Probably not a healthy practice at my age.

 

flow.... :D

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I have long been of he opinion that Jesus was a sort of herald sent by G-d to put the world on notice that a new type of human was coming and that this would truly change the world; and, for the better in the long run. My opinion is that this is much of what the 20th century was really about.

 

I like the idea of a Jump Time (Jean Houston). That humanity evolves in 300-year cycles (last one being the age of enlightenment).

 

In evolutionary theory Jump Time  is known as the time of punctuated equilibrium – when a species is living at the edge of its tolerance  in a state of gestation and ferment and suddenly jumps to a new order of being. This is it. This is the time.
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I have long been of he opinion that Jesus was a sort of herald sent by G-d to put the world on notice that a new type of human was coming and that this would truly change the world; and, for the better in the long run. My opinion is that this is much of what the 20th century was really about.

 

I like the idea of a Jump Time (Jean Houston). That humanity evolves in 300-year cycles (last one being the age of enlightenment).

 

In evolutionary theory Jump Time  is known as the time of punctuated equilibrium – when a species is living at the edge of its tolerance  in a state of gestation and ferment and suddenly jumps to a new order of being. This is it. This is the time.

 

Fatherman:

 

I'm not familiar with Jean Houston or her work that popularized the concept of "jump time". But I am familiar with the punctuated equilibrium aspects of evolutionary theory since I read a couple of Stephen J. Gould books some years ago.

 

Observational evidence of the phenomenon is mostly non-existent when it comes to life forms since science has only been "modern" for 100 years or so. But with time it should become more apparent.

 

The theory is complicit with views concerning the new knowledge coming to light regarding the field of the behavior patterns of complex systems, which pretty much covers the progress of our realities through the space-time tunnel around us. In other words, everything that we are able to observe either at very large or very small scales behave in these ways systematically. And I believe that you are right regarding our existence, this is the time. Or one might call it a "tipping point".

 

flow.... :)

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Whoa! I go away for a few hours to visit the doc and the conversation explodes! B)

 

No, I just had a little too much coffee today!  My tone did not come across properly.  And it looks like that last bit of writing suffered from premature post-ilation.

 

Whew! I'm glad. I'm overly sensitive to offending anybody (unless I get really cranky), but I especially wouldn't want to bug you dude!

 

This Christianity thing is inescapable for me, Aletheia.  I guess I'm just trying to learn how to embrace it.

 

I am right there with you. Sometimes I feel like I'm hanging on by a hair. More so lately, actually.

 

Oh!  I wasn't sure my Wayne's World reference would come across in print, but I had a feeling you might pick up on it.  :D

 

I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!

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Forests and trees. When people are reticent to think about and imagine just what the forest might be and look like, they opt for describing individual trees in excruciating detail, and then proceed to debate those details ad infinitum.

 

I'm definitely a forest kind of gal. Not that I can't get hung up on the trees to. I do and sometimes it's fun. All the tree arguments going on over at Tweb, though, has got me burned out.

 

I went to see the "evil movie" with my family yesterday,

 

And you survived!? :rolleyes: Did ya like it? I've heard it's actually pretty bad.

 

Max Headroom for President ! 

 

I'd vote for him.

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