YHWH, El, and Golden Calves

My son-in-law from Australia led the Bible Study at church. He is studying for his doctorate at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, and he wants to write a dissertation on kingship in the Old Testament and how that speaks of Christ. He is doing some work on 1&2 Chronicles, so our pastor asked him to teach us about those profound but little-known books of history.

One detail he mentioned struck me in particular. He said that when Jeroboam split the kingdom into Judah and Israel, in his rule of the latter he set up two temples or shrines at Bethel and Dan so that his people would not have to sacrifice in Jerusalem. These were built on the same three-part model as that of Solomon, but instead of having the one-of-a-kind Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies, Jeroboam put GOLDEN CALVES.

Why did the apostate Hebrews have such a thing for golden calves? Well, my son-in-law explained, the closest similar deity, seemingly, to YHWH in the Canaanite pantheon, the king of the gods in that mythology, was EL. His image through which he was worshiped was a golden bull. The word “El” was his name, but it was also just the word for “god.” (As in our language: We can speak of “God” as a sort of name, but also as a generic noun.)

So apparently, some Hebrews conflated the God of Abraham with the “God” of their neighbors, assuming that all “El’s” were the same and setting up a version of the common idol associated with that term. After all, the Canaanite El was a mountain god, and an El gave the law on Mt. Sinai, etc. Of course, the Canaanite El had a consort, the fertility goddess Ashera, whose sexual rites would also be picked up by some of those pious Hebrews.

Those Hebrews, however, neglected the Word of God. And how the true God commanded that He be worshipped. And violated the commandment against idolatry. And forgot that “god” is not just a generic noun but that He has a name. That is, they broke every one of the laws of the first table, and so fell into sin and slavery, until YHWH sent them a redeemer.

See any parallels with today’s religious syncretism?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Pr. Lehmann

    I gotta talk to Adam sometime about his research. Sounds fascinating! It struck me a coupla years ago that God tells his people that He is their king but that they will demand a human one.

    So God gives them Saul, then David, and ultimately He becomes man so that they can have what they demand (but in a form they never expected): God their King is a Man.

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Pr. Lehmann

    I gotta talk to Adam sometime about his research. Sounds fascinating! It struck me a coupla years ago that God tells his people that He is their king but that they will demand a human one.

    So God gives them Saul, then David, and ultimately He becomes man so that they can have what they demand (but in a form they never expected): God their King is a Man.

  • fwsonnek

    pr Lehman. Deep stuff. and deliciously centered in Jesus. Lots to ponder in the short paragraph you wrote!

    But then we got what we wanted, but not in the way we wanted it. so… crucify Him!

  • fwsonnek

    pr Lehman. Deep stuff. and deliciously centered in Jesus. Lots to ponder in the short paragraph you wrote!

    But then we got what we wanted, but not in the way we wanted it. so… crucify Him!

  • Matt L

    I suppose you could call it Israelite substance Canaanite style.

  • Matt L

    I suppose you could call it Israelite substance Canaanite style.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Matt L! Brilliant and devastating.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Matt L! Brilliant and devastating.

  • Michael the little boot

    Does anyone else find it unsettling that God commands he be worshiped? Why does God need to be worshiped? Does he have low self-esteem? Is he a child? Didn’t he create us? Do any of you who are parents command your children to worship you? Would you be considered fit parents if you did? Isn’t he supposed to be greater, higher, better than us? Transcendent? Could somebody fill me in? Preferably without resorting to the old “nature of God and man being so, we worship God to fulfill our true selves” argument?

  • Michael the little boot

    Does anyone else find it unsettling that God commands he be worshiped? Why does God need to be worshiped? Does he have low self-esteem? Is he a child? Didn’t he create us? Do any of you who are parents command your children to worship you? Would you be considered fit parents if you did? Isn’t he supposed to be greater, higher, better than us? Transcendent? Could somebody fill me in? Preferably without resorting to the old “nature of God and man being so, we worship God to fulfill our true selves” argument?

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Michael (@5), interesting questions. “Do any of you who are parents command your children to worship you?” I’d guess the answer is no (though most parents want their children to respect them, imperfect as the parents may be). Perhaps a good corollary question would be: what differences are there between human parents and God? I can think of a few.

    But I would also question your implicit assertion that God “needs” to be worshipped. God doesn’t need anything from us — it is we who need everything from God, including being told what to do.

    So, to twist the question, why should we worship God? Well, for one thing, it puts us in the right frame of mind. Our tendency is to worship ourselves or things of this earth, which does us no good. Worshiping God helps us to see where our help comes from, helps us to understand how helpless we’d be without God. In fact, worshiping is nothing more than merely recognizing how things are. We are mired in sin, pathetic, and worthless — or we would be, except God stepped in. To worship God is to acknowledge that.

    Sorry if this fits into the “old argument”, which I didn’t really understand.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Michael (@5), interesting questions. “Do any of you who are parents command your children to worship you?” I’d guess the answer is no (though most parents want their children to respect them, imperfect as the parents may be). Perhaps a good corollary question would be: what differences are there between human parents and God? I can think of a few.

    But I would also question your implicit assertion that God “needs” to be worshipped. God doesn’t need anything from us — it is we who need everything from God, including being told what to do.

    So, to twist the question, why should we worship God? Well, for one thing, it puts us in the right frame of mind. Our tendency is to worship ourselves or things of this earth, which does us no good. Worshiping God helps us to see where our help comes from, helps us to understand how helpless we’d be without God. In fact, worshiping is nothing more than merely recognizing how things are. We are mired in sin, pathetic, and worthless — or we would be, except God stepped in. To worship God is to acknowledge that.

    Sorry if this fits into the “old argument”, which I didn’t really understand.

  • Michael the little boot

    tODD–

    I think that fits into the old argument just fine. What you did was use the same self-referential rhetoric that has been employed forever, i.e. that we need God because we are sinful. We need to be told what to do? Why is that? (And I’m not trying to be incredulous.) Why did the God who made us leave us with such a deficit? Couldn’t God have made us sinless, perfect from the beginning?

    But as you say, we are “mired in sin, pathetic, and worthless” without God. Why is that? Are you referring to the fundamentalist reading of only one of the creation stories in Genesis which attributes a human “sin nature” to our ancestors’ bite of an unnamed forbidden fruit? If so, I would like to do some preemptive debunking.

    Once again, I’ll use the metaphor of the parent and child. Since you believe in sin, I’m sure you believe your parents have sinned in their lives. They were, in fact, prolific sinners way before you were ever born, since we are “imperfect” (whatever that means) from the moment we enter the world. Are you to blame for their sins? No. Of course not. Why, then, are we to blame for this free-floating “original sin,” the choice of an ancestor?

    So, now that we’ve gotten rid of this idea, we can say that it seems God created us to sin. Why are we to blame for doing so any more than we’re to blame for breathing or procreating? If it is not that God created it, please point me to a reason that is not based on original sin, or on the choice of an ancestor. (Once again, not trying to be incredulous.)

    Well, you may be saying, it could also be that each of us makes the choice individually to sin. We are not born in original sin, but we all eventually fall. I will also attempt to debunk this hypothetical. We can only make the choice to sin if that is a choice available to us, and any choice available to us in a universe entirely created by one God is of that God’s design. So it would seem that God put into us our sin nature, which would mean that when we obey the natural order by worshiping God–even in order to get into the right frame of mind–we are doing what God designed us to do. This begs the question, why would God design us to do these things if he didn’t have to? And it seems the answer is that God needs us to sin, or we don’t need God. Which would mean the serpent in the Garden (not Satan, the fabrication created by John Milton) had it right: God doesn’t want us to know that he created us to be pathetic and worthless simply so that he could step in and save the day.

    I’d like you to show me where I’m wrong. Seriously. The only way to learn sometimes is to be proved wrong. I’d just like you to do it with some original thinking, rather than relying on the arguments others have used for longer than average people like you and me can remember.

  • Michael the little boot

    tODD–

    I think that fits into the old argument just fine. What you did was use the same self-referential rhetoric that has been employed forever, i.e. that we need God because we are sinful. We need to be told what to do? Why is that? (And I’m not trying to be incredulous.) Why did the God who made us leave us with such a deficit? Couldn’t God have made us sinless, perfect from the beginning?

    But as you say, we are “mired in sin, pathetic, and worthless” without God. Why is that? Are you referring to the fundamentalist reading of only one of the creation stories in Genesis which attributes a human “sin nature” to our ancestors’ bite of an unnamed forbidden fruit? If so, I would like to do some preemptive debunking.

    Once again, I’ll use the metaphor of the parent and child. Since you believe in sin, I’m sure you believe your parents have sinned in their lives. They were, in fact, prolific sinners way before you were ever born, since we are “imperfect” (whatever that means) from the moment we enter the world. Are you to blame for their sins? No. Of course not. Why, then, are we to blame for this free-floating “original sin,” the choice of an ancestor?

    So, now that we’ve gotten rid of this idea, we can say that it seems God created us to sin. Why are we to blame for doing so any more than we’re to blame for breathing or procreating? If it is not that God created it, please point me to a reason that is not based on original sin, or on the choice of an ancestor. (Once again, not trying to be incredulous.)

    Well, you may be saying, it could also be that each of us makes the choice individually to sin. We are not born in original sin, but we all eventually fall. I will also attempt to debunk this hypothetical. We can only make the choice to sin if that is a choice available to us, and any choice available to us in a universe entirely created by one God is of that God’s design. So it would seem that God put into us our sin nature, which would mean that when we obey the natural order by worshiping God–even in order to get into the right frame of mind–we are doing what God designed us to do. This begs the question, why would God design us to do these things if he didn’t have to? And it seems the answer is that God needs us to sin, or we don’t need God. Which would mean the serpent in the Garden (not Satan, the fabrication created by John Milton) had it right: God doesn’t want us to know that he created us to be pathetic and worthless simply so that he could step in and save the day.

    I’d like you to show me where I’m wrong. Seriously. The only way to learn sometimes is to be proved wrong. I’d just like you to do it with some original thinking, rather than relying on the arguments others have used for longer than average people like you and me can remember.

  • Paul

    A different metaphor might help. Consider a child who is born on a sinking ship. Through no fault of his/her own, the ship is sinking. You might say he “inherited” his need for salvation. Does the child not need to be saved because he didn’t cause the ship to sink? Absolutely not! The fact that the child is completely helpless and unable to save himself is exactly why this child needs to “be saved” by another. Hence, we are to receive the kingdom of God ‘like a little child’ or we will never enter it. Correct me theologian readers if I’m wrong, but I believe this is a correct explanation of original sin.

  • Paul

    A different metaphor might help. Consider a child who is born on a sinking ship. Through no fault of his/her own, the ship is sinking. You might say he “inherited” his need for salvation. Does the child not need to be saved because he didn’t cause the ship to sink? Absolutely not! The fact that the child is completely helpless and unable to save himself is exactly why this child needs to “be saved” by another. Hence, we are to receive the kingdom of God ‘like a little child’ or we will never enter it. Correct me theologian readers if I’m wrong, but I believe this is a correct explanation of original sin.

  • Matt L

    Michael,
    Maybe the problem here lies in a fundamentally flawed understanding of what “worship” is. This is possibly due to the baggage that the very term itself carries. “Worship” is intrinsically something that *I* do to give something else worth. This is a pagan concept of man’s relationship with his pantheon of “gods.”

    Standing directly opposed to this is the true Christian, Biblical understanding of “worship.” In fact Scripturally we don’t have that kind of language used. There are essentially 3 kinds of action that we recognize Scripturally as “worship.”

    The first is God’s Service to us. This is the primary “worship” of a Christian. It is to be on the receiving end of the giving of gifts. First and foremost of these gifts is the forgiveness of sins. So for a Christian “worship” is tied to hearing “Your sins are forgiven;” it is tied to being Baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, “for the forgiveness of sins; and it is tied to eating and drinking Christ’s Body and Blood “for the forgiveness of sins.”

    The second concept of “worship” is that of bowing down, prostrating oneself. For those of us who are U.S. Americans, this is a completely foreign concept. We don’t take a knee as our king passes. Heck, about half of the country would raise a certain finger as the President walks by. So, admittedly our culture has skewed the reality of this relationship. Nonetheless, this prostration is an act of reverence given to one’s Lord. There is submission involved, and of course this act of submission is tied to the fact that we are being served.

    Thirdly there is another kind of service. This is where we actually get the word for “Liturgy.” Etymology aside, this is the response of thanksgiving. Just like you teach kids to say “thank you” when they receive a gift, we too give thanks unto the Lord because his lovingkindness endures forever, He has heard our cry of distress and has come to save us.

  • Matt L

    Michael,
    Maybe the problem here lies in a fundamentally flawed understanding of what “worship” is. This is possibly due to the baggage that the very term itself carries. “Worship” is intrinsically something that *I* do to give something else worth. This is a pagan concept of man’s relationship with his pantheon of “gods.”

    Standing directly opposed to this is the true Christian, Biblical understanding of “worship.” In fact Scripturally we don’t have that kind of language used. There are essentially 3 kinds of action that we recognize Scripturally as “worship.”

    The first is God’s Service to us. This is the primary “worship” of a Christian. It is to be on the receiving end of the giving of gifts. First and foremost of these gifts is the forgiveness of sins. So for a Christian “worship” is tied to hearing “Your sins are forgiven;” it is tied to being Baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, “for the forgiveness of sins; and it is tied to eating and drinking Christ’s Body and Blood “for the forgiveness of sins.”

    The second concept of “worship” is that of bowing down, prostrating oneself. For those of us who are U.S. Americans, this is a completely foreign concept. We don’t take a knee as our king passes. Heck, about half of the country would raise a certain finger as the President walks by. So, admittedly our culture has skewed the reality of this relationship. Nonetheless, this prostration is an act of reverence given to one’s Lord. There is submission involved, and of course this act of submission is tied to the fact that we are being served.

    Thirdly there is another kind of service. This is where we actually get the word for “Liturgy.” Etymology aside, this is the response of thanksgiving. Just like you teach kids to say “thank you” when they receive a gift, we too give thanks unto the Lord because his lovingkindness endures forever, He has heard our cry of distress and has come to save us.

  • WebMonk

    Paul, I think his question is more along the lines of why do we inherit Adam’s sinfulness?

    God made Adam perfect and sinless, but Adam and Eve chose to disobey. Why do we inherit that sinful nature? Why don’t we start off with a sinless nature and have the same choice Adam had – to not sin? For your metaphor – why are children born onto a sinking boat instead of into their own boat?

    It’s a serious question, and I wish I had time to answer it, but I’m leaving for Thanksgiving in 15 minutes, and this isn’t a question that can be answered briefly AND completely.

    I’m just tacking on a clarification (I think) to Michael’s question. There are a dozen people here who are far more qualified than I of answering Michael’s questions, anyway. Unfortunately, it’s Thanksgiving and lots of people are going to be gone until after the holiday.

    Veith, would you be willing to discuss Michael’s question into a blog posting on Monday or Tuesday if no one answers here?

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!

  • WebMonk

    Paul, I think his question is more along the lines of why do we inherit Adam’s sinfulness?

    God made Adam perfect and sinless, but Adam and Eve chose to disobey. Why do we inherit that sinful nature? Why don’t we start off with a sinless nature and have the same choice Adam had – to not sin? For your metaphor – why are children born onto a sinking boat instead of into their own boat?

    It’s a serious question, and I wish I had time to answer it, but I’m leaving for Thanksgiving in 15 minutes, and this isn’t a question that can be answered briefly AND completely.

    I’m just tacking on a clarification (I think) to Michael’s question. There are a dozen people here who are far more qualified than I of answering Michael’s questions, anyway. Unfortunately, it’s Thanksgiving and lots of people are going to be gone until after the holiday.

    Veith, would you be willing to discuss Michael’s question into a blog posting on Monday or Tuesday if no one answers here?

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Pr. Lehmann

    God doesn’t need to be worshiped, and, in fact, He doesn’t want to be worshiped in the way Michael describes. That sort of worship is detestable to Him.

    Matt’s got it right, and I’d like to expand a bit on the pagan element he alludes to. (I beg all y’alls forgiveness because I wrote my M.Div. thesis on the distinction between the liturgical practice of Israel and that of the Babylonians.)

    In the Enuma Elish we are given a picture of a god (Marduk) who creates humanity as his slaves. They are to show him obeisance and offer him sacrifices because he needs it in some way.

    The Enuma Elish was very likely written before Nahor and Abraham left Babylon. They probably carried the oral tradition with them. For this reason some have argued that the creation account in Genesis is dependent on the Enuma Elish. That would make sense if Moses didn’t give us a polemic against the theology of the Enuma Elish.

    In the Enuma Elish the world is created from the dead body of the water monster Tiamat. The God of Genesis 1-2 creates the universe ex nihilo by the power of His Word.

    In the Enuma Elish we are Marduk’s slaves and of no value to him. In Genesis, we are the crown of God’s creation to whom He gives dominion over the entire universe. He creates us so that He can give us His good gifts.

    In the Enuma Elish we offer sacrifices to God to slavishly serve him. In the Old Testament (Leviticus 17:11), God offers the sacrifices to Himself to reestablish the relationship that we destroyed by our sin.

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Pr. Lehmann

    God doesn’t need to be worshiped, and, in fact, He doesn’t want to be worshiped in the way Michael describes. That sort of worship is detestable to Him.

    Matt’s got it right, and I’d like to expand a bit on the pagan element he alludes to. (I beg all y’alls forgiveness because I wrote my M.Div. thesis on the distinction between the liturgical practice of Israel and that of the Babylonians.)

    In the Enuma Elish we are given a picture of a god (Marduk) who creates humanity as his slaves. They are to show him obeisance and offer him sacrifices because he needs it in some way.

    The Enuma Elish was very likely written before Nahor and Abraham left Babylon. They probably carried the oral tradition with them. For this reason some have argued that the creation account in Genesis is dependent on the Enuma Elish. That would make sense if Moses didn’t give us a polemic against the theology of the Enuma Elish.

    In the Enuma Elish the world is created from the dead body of the water monster Tiamat. The God of Genesis 1-2 creates the universe ex nihilo by the power of His Word.

    In the Enuma Elish we are Marduk’s slaves and of no value to him. In Genesis, we are the crown of God’s creation to whom He gives dominion over the entire universe. He creates us so that He can give us His good gifts.

    In the Enuma Elish we offer sacrifices to God to slavishly serve him. In the Old Testament (Leviticus 17:11), God offers the sacrifices to Himself to reestablish the relationship that we destroyed by our sin.

  • Manxman

    God’s creation is a hierarchy, not an equality, with Him at the top, and us (and everything else) at a lower level. I think acknowledgment of this truth in our hearts and in our behavior is at the heart of worship. It is not that God needs it, it’s that for us to be filling our proper role in His creation, we have an obligation to acknowledge the truth that God is greater and “better” than we are. This is difficult to do now because we do not see or understand things clearly. If John’s reaction in confronting the risen Christ in Revelation is any indication, when we see God as He really is (and we as we really are – or are not), the natural reaction will be to worship Him.

  • Manxman

    God’s creation is a hierarchy, not an equality, with Him at the top, and us (and everything else) at a lower level. I think acknowledgment of this truth in our hearts and in our behavior is at the heart of worship. It is not that God needs it, it’s that for us to be filling our proper role in His creation, we have an obligation to acknowledge the truth that God is greater and “better” than we are. This is difficult to do now because we do not see or understand things clearly. If John’s reaction in confronting the risen Christ in Revelation is any indication, when we see God as He really is (and we as we really are – or are not), the natural reaction will be to worship Him.

  • fwsonnek

    Michael the little boot:

    “True worship is trust in Jesus Christ.”

    For Lutheran Christians this is our short answer to your question. This answer should beg many more questions.

    First:

    It would be fine for you to not believe in any God that looks like you have described. You have my permission. He would not be worthy of your worship.

    And you are right in thinking that a true God would not need our worship. If there is an intelligent being more vast than our universe, who created the universe, then it DOES follow logically that we would hold in our hands nothing that we could offer Him that he needs or even wants.

    Secondly:

    If there is such an enormous God. It would follow that there are things about the cosmos that would perhaps be beyond our ability to comprehend or capture with our reason. If you posit that man´s sentient self and ability to reason (“I think therefore I am” or “man is the measure of all things”) is the ultimate arbiter of what you could believe as true, then I would like you to identify that and we can proceed in a way where we do not talk past one another or in a way where you feel I am not finessing a logical argument by what I have proposed on this point. I want to be on the same page as you are on.

    Thirdly (and most importantly!):

    Most of us here are Lutheran Christians. What this means (even though only hinted at so far here unfortunately) is this:

    When Lutherans think about God, they ALWAYS must look to Jesus, and the meaning of his birth, life, death and resurrection to understand Who God is, what His attitude is towards us men, and any and ALL other questions about God. Period. We filter everything we read in the Old Testament in fact, through Jesus. We believe that the entire old testament exists with the purpose of being a testimony to Him in fact.

    This is why Christians are the ONLY religion ever to use the words “humble”, “unattractive”, “man of sorrow, acquainted with grief”, “homeless”, etc etc etc to describe the God we put our trust in. I consider this to be a very wierd view of God from any perspective. And it all seems to be rather different than the views that apparently have been presented to you of God so far.

    I am sorry that so far, you seem to have encountered only christians who have tried to take the wierdness out of it by trying to make it all make sense and be logical for you.

    There is alot of poetry in our faith that gets captured somewhat in epics like the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. This was written in fact by a christian to describe, in an epic and romantic way, the christian understanding of the very things you muse about.

    Poetry often lacks appeal to the rigorously logical. We Lutherans in fact are often guilty of this very shortcoming as well. I hope that you are open to poetic and epic considerations in your thinking.

    We Lutheran christians tend to oddly see God ALL about serving His Creation. Our service then is not to Him but to serve the creation that He was passionate enough about to actually die for.

    What this means exactly in the negative to reinforce this is:

    that we do NOT look to the Old Testament for this information, nor do we consider God in the abstract using logical considerations. We know God only in contrast, through His only-begotten Son.

    This is a very, very radical difference, THE difference in fact, between Lutherans and all other christian traditions. Our scope is interestingly much narrower than that of our bretheren, but paradoxically it ends up being more inviting of discussion over beer. It feels warm and human and not so coldly abstract.

    “True Worship is trust in Jesus Christ.”

    This is the complete and total (and formally public) description of worship for Lutherans. We have ornamented this worship over time with music and rituals etc, but there are no religious requirements to do so.

    So to talk about your question, I would need to see if you are acquainted with the Jesus that I know from the scriptures and what your perceptions are of Him. From your question, it does not seem that you know christianity from this radical Lutheran perspective.

    Since you want to try not to be incredulous, I would suggest as a first step, that you forget everything you think you know about God and about Jesus.

    Let the God and Jesus you know die. They will need to die probably before you can begin to understand how we view God and worship of Him here as Lutheran christians.

  • fwsonnek

    Michael the little boot:

    “True worship is trust in Jesus Christ.”

    For Lutheran Christians this is our short answer to your question. This answer should beg many more questions.

    First:

    It would be fine for you to not believe in any God that looks like you have described. You have my permission. He would not be worthy of your worship.

    And you are right in thinking that a true God would not need our worship. If there is an intelligent being more vast than our universe, who created the universe, then it DOES follow logically that we would hold in our hands nothing that we could offer Him that he needs or even wants.

    Secondly:

    If there is such an enormous God. It would follow that there are things about the cosmos that would perhaps be beyond our ability to comprehend or capture with our reason. If you posit that man´s sentient self and ability to reason (“I think therefore I am” or “man is the measure of all things”) is the ultimate arbiter of what you could believe as true, then I would like you to identify that and we can proceed in a way where we do not talk past one another or in a way where you feel I am not finessing a logical argument by what I have proposed on this point. I want to be on the same page as you are on.

    Thirdly (and most importantly!):

    Most of us here are Lutheran Christians. What this means (even though only hinted at so far here unfortunately) is this:

    When Lutherans think about God, they ALWAYS must look to Jesus, and the meaning of his birth, life, death and resurrection to understand Who God is, what His attitude is towards us men, and any and ALL other questions about God. Period. We filter everything we read in the Old Testament in fact, through Jesus. We believe that the entire old testament exists with the purpose of being a testimony to Him in fact.

    This is why Christians are the ONLY religion ever to use the words “humble”, “unattractive”, “man of sorrow, acquainted with grief”, “homeless”, etc etc etc to describe the God we put our trust in. I consider this to be a very wierd view of God from any perspective. And it all seems to be rather different than the views that apparently have been presented to you of God so far.

    I am sorry that so far, you seem to have encountered only christians who have tried to take the wierdness out of it by trying to make it all make sense and be logical for you.

    There is alot of poetry in our faith that gets captured somewhat in epics like the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. This was written in fact by a christian to describe, in an epic and romantic way, the christian understanding of the very things you muse about.

    Poetry often lacks appeal to the rigorously logical. We Lutherans in fact are often guilty of this very shortcoming as well. I hope that you are open to poetic and epic considerations in your thinking.

    We Lutheran christians tend to oddly see God ALL about serving His Creation. Our service then is not to Him but to serve the creation that He was passionate enough about to actually die for.

    What this means exactly in the negative to reinforce this is:

    that we do NOT look to the Old Testament for this information, nor do we consider God in the abstract using logical considerations. We know God only in contrast, through His only-begotten Son.

    This is a very, very radical difference, THE difference in fact, between Lutherans and all other christian traditions. Our scope is interestingly much narrower than that of our bretheren, but paradoxically it ends up being more inviting of discussion over beer. It feels warm and human and not so coldly abstract.

    “True Worship is trust in Jesus Christ.”

    This is the complete and total (and formally public) description of worship for Lutherans. We have ornamented this worship over time with music and rituals etc, but there are no religious requirements to do so.

    So to talk about your question, I would need to see if you are acquainted with the Jesus that I know from the scriptures and what your perceptions are of Him. From your question, it does not seem that you know christianity from this radical Lutheran perspective.

    Since you want to try not to be incredulous, I would suggest as a first step, that you forget everything you think you know about God and about Jesus.

    Let the God and Jesus you know die. They will need to die probably before you can begin to understand how we view God and worship of Him here as Lutheran christians.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Right, Frank. You’ve said it beautifully. I just today came across a quotation from Luther to the effect that we must not approach God from the top down (as is most common, as abstract contemplation as of an idea), but from the bottom up (beginning with the Babe in the Manger).

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Right, Frank. You’ve said it beautifully. I just today came across a quotation from Luther to the effect that we must not approach God from the top down (as is most common, as abstract contemplation as of an idea), but from the bottom up (beginning with the Babe in the Manger).

  • fwsonnek

    michael:

    there is one more thing that might help here. There seem to me to be 3 ways of knowing things. Since this is sorta my own construct bear with my appropriation of terms…

    Educational learning (yeah redundant..) : what you learn because yo mama told you, or you read in a book or learned in class and the, well, logic that flowed from that.

    Experiential learning: what you learned in the school of hard knocks and the wisdom that flowed from that. If you have had your heart broken a few times, we will be able to communicate alot better here….

    and finally…

    Existential knowing. That would be the nexus of your educational and experiential learning and development, your logic and wisdom you have so far from all that, and that intangible third thing that comes from all that. The YOU that is in all that and maybe something more….

    No one can tell you those things. You just know them, bones to balls.

    Like knowing that you are in love.

    Pretty much like the prophetess in “The Matrix” told Neo when he asked if he was “the one.”

    This is where the poetry comes from in our life. The things that humble us as mystery. It is firmly teathered to the first two kinds of knowing, and in fact cannot exist in a healthy way without them, and yet it is something, like the definitive definition of love (another redundancy, i know), that defies complete capture by pen and ink.

    Lutherans experience this third kind of knowing in their worship that they call the Divine Service. They also experience this in their daily lives. We can only kinda-sorta break this all down for you.

    It helps me understand how God, in His revelation to us is also only able to kinda-sorta break it down for all of us. That makes sense to me now in a profoundly existence-ial way.

    I am no more equipped to describe all of this for you here and logically than I would be able to explain, logically, my love for my beloved. Not that any of that is in any way divorced from the rest of all that i bring to my existence.

    This in no way means that it is all ethereal. It includes ALL the hard logic and wisdom you can muster. Along with that of your ancestors and those who passed before you.

    It completes those things. Sweetly so. I hope that someday you can know all of this for yourself.

  • fwsonnek

    michael:

    there is one more thing that might help here. There seem to me to be 3 ways of knowing things. Since this is sorta my own construct bear with my appropriation of terms…

    Educational learning (yeah redundant..) : what you learn because yo mama told you, or you read in a book or learned in class and the, well, logic that flowed from that.

    Experiential learning: what you learned in the school of hard knocks and the wisdom that flowed from that. If you have had your heart broken a few times, we will be able to communicate alot better here….

    and finally…

    Existential knowing. That would be the nexus of your educational and experiential learning and development, your logic and wisdom you have so far from all that, and that intangible third thing that comes from all that. The YOU that is in all that and maybe something more….

    No one can tell you those things. You just know them, bones to balls.

    Like knowing that you are in love.

    Pretty much like the prophetess in “The Matrix” told Neo when he asked if he was “the one.”

    This is where the poetry comes from in our life. The things that humble us as mystery. It is firmly teathered to the first two kinds of knowing, and in fact cannot exist in a healthy way without them, and yet it is something, like the definitive definition of love (another redundancy, i know), that defies complete capture by pen and ink.

    Lutherans experience this third kind of knowing in their worship that they call the Divine Service. They also experience this in their daily lives. We can only kinda-sorta break this all down for you.

    It helps me understand how God, in His revelation to us is also only able to kinda-sorta break it down for all of us. That makes sense to me now in a profoundly existence-ial way.

    I am no more equipped to describe all of this for you here and logically than I would be able to explain, logically, my love for my beloved. Not that any of that is in any way divorced from the rest of all that i bring to my existence.

    This in no way means that it is all ethereal. It includes ALL the hard logic and wisdom you can muster. Along with that of your ancestors and those who passed before you.

    It completes those things. Sweetly so. I hope that someday you can know all of this for yourself.

  • allen

    Perhaps God’s command to us to worship Him is meant to be understood as opposed to worshipping power, money, fame – in short, oneself. Or a statue of a bull.

    It’s almost as if He’s saying, “OK, I know you all are going to worship something, so here’s the deal.”

    I guess I’ll be doing plenty of worshipping when I come face to face with The One Who spoke the universe into existence.

    This is all very much in the spirit of keeping first things first.

  • allen

    Perhaps God’s command to us to worship Him is meant to be understood as opposed to worshipping power, money, fame – in short, oneself. Or a statue of a bull.

    It’s almost as if He’s saying, “OK, I know you all are going to worship something, so here’s the deal.”

    I guess I’ll be doing plenty of worshipping when I come face to face with The One Who spoke the universe into existence.

    This is all very much in the spirit of keeping first things first.

  • http://www.brideofchristelc.com Paul A. Siems

    Michael,

    In your first comment you reveal much more than what you may imagine. You reveal your attitude toward the God of the Scriptures. You show a strong measure of resentment towards Him. You also show a defiant refusal to submit to Him in faith. You indicate that you want to be on equal terms with Him and to demand that He communicate with you according to the terms that you construct.

    What kind of God would that be? What kind of God would say, “Oh, you don’t like my demands? How would you like me to modify them? You don’t agree with what I declare to be absolutely true? OK. Tell me how things really are.”

    Actually, He did do this with a man named Job, and He used much stronger sarcasm with this man than what I am using. Job’s response was to confess that he was in no position to challenge God and repented and turned to Him in the faith that he had begun to doubt.

    If you truly want to know the God who created all things, you will have to receive Him as He comes to you through the means that He has ordained. Frank and Matt do a good job of referencing this.

    But I will also answer a couple of your questions more directly. You asked about God’s need to be worshiped. While the manner in which you asked this was not of humility, it is in fact valid question. You asked from a perspective of challenge, but the question is not challenging in itself.

    In connection you asked whether parents command their children to worship them. The answer is the opposite of what you expected. The answer is a resounding YES.

    Parents command and demand that their children worship them. From conception onward, the parents are the life givers and providers and protectors for their children. Their children depend upon their parents for their very lives. Without parents, children do not come into being and do not survive.

    Therefore parents demand that their children look to them for everything in life: life itself, protection, nourishment, instruction, and love.

    In return the parents demand only one thing: that the children obediently receive these from them according to the way in which they give them.

    This relationship is the basis for life. If this relationship is broken, the parents cannot do for their children what is necessary, and the children cannot live.

    The difference between parents and God is that there is no one who can step in for God and fulfill His place. Parents can be replaced or substituted or complemented. God cannot. Thus His commandments are absolute.

    Anyone who is unwilling to accept this fact places himself in jeopardy. God is unwilling to stand by idly while people separate themselves from His love and care and thereby destroy themselves. Thus God deals with this in the strongest terms of condemnation. He speaks forcefully so as to leave no room for error. When His children ignore Him, He displays His wrath. His children have no right to undo the good that He has arranged for them. His children have no right to choose another way and to hurt themselves and others. This is what Adam did. His rebellious choice was not only for himself, but for all of the children that God had appointed to be born through him and the woman. For a smaller scale example we can look to the crack abusing mother who gives birth to a crack addicted infant.

    There is no nice way to tell you that you are not listening. So I’ll just say it: You are not listening.

    God has told you who He is. He has told you who you are. Are you ready to listen?

    Through Moses God gives two accounts of the Genesis of the cosmos.

    In the first God reveals the step by step, day by day process, in order. It matches perfectly with all the cosmological evidence. Even the highest of God’s creatures shows this in the developmental processes of gestation. Human beings begin at the simplest single cell and progress through the entire process that the evolutionists attempt to twist into a mockery of God’s masterful plan. Yet while their feeble explanations undergo ceaseless change, God’s plan as revealed in a single chapter remains constant and continues to leave the arrogance of man in a quandary.

    The second account completely abandons the sequence of time and instead states that the history or generations of the heavens and the earth are founded in mankind. In the second account the mighty Creator of the heavens and the earth reveals Himself as the one who did all of this for one single purpose, to display His love for Man. The entire cosmos, every star and planet, every microbe and plant and animal is declared to have its existence on account of Man and God’s relationship with Man from eternity. Here the mighty Creator who created all else that exists by speaking it into existence, takes on flesh in order to fashion Man with His own hands in His own image. Yes, here the Word of God is revealed as creating Man and joining Himself to Man forever. This one revealed in the first account as Elohim (The plural form of God), now declares Himself as Yahweh Elohim, who not only takes on the form of Man to create Man in His own Image, but breathes life into Man with His own breath. Then this Yahweh Elohim makes Himself present with Mankind, walking and talking with Man and giving the Fatherly instruction for Life and Happiness in communion with Him. When Man disobeys and breaks this holy communion, Yahweh Elohim continues to come as a loving Father, seeking to restore that which was lost by Man’s rebellion, seeking to restore according to the plan that had already been established from eternity.

    This is the God who came walking in the garden to call Man to repentance. This is the God who came in love to restore rather than to condemn. This is the God that Adam heard so as to be restored to faith, and then turned to his bride and gave her the new name of Heva or Life.

    The real question for you is whether or not you also will hear Him, or whether you will argue with Him. Will you hear Him with the faith that restores or will you argue yourself out of the everlasting blessings that this bold and uncompromising God has decided to give to you even from eternity?

    You see, God does need for you to hear Him and submit to Him in order that He may bestow upon you the love that you refuse to receive. You see, love does not come by force but through the gentle call of the Gospel. What comes by force is the condemnation of the Law, which shows us what we have chosen by not listening with the obedience of faith, the loving obedience of beloved children who know that they are beloved. The Lord continues to insist that we hear Him so as to be changed by Him for our good. Does He need this? He needs this in the same way that our earthly fathers need for us to submit to their earthly headship over us so as to give themselves for us.

    If you can hear this, then you will know the God of love who sacrifices Himself for His family, crying out in agony from the cross, “I am here for you!” If you hear this, all your questions will be answered, and the answer to all your questions will be “Yes” and “Amen.”

  • http://www.brideofchristelc.com Paul A. Siems

    Michael,

    In your first comment you reveal much more than what you may imagine. You reveal your attitude toward the God of the Scriptures. You show a strong measure of resentment towards Him. You also show a defiant refusal to submit to Him in faith. You indicate that you want to be on equal terms with Him and to demand that He communicate with you according to the terms that you construct.

    What kind of God would that be? What kind of God would say, “Oh, you don’t like my demands? How would you like me to modify them? You don’t agree with what I declare to be absolutely true? OK. Tell me how things really are.”

    Actually, He did do this with a man named Job, and He used much stronger sarcasm with this man than what I am using. Job’s response was to confess that he was in no position to challenge God and repented and turned to Him in the faith that he had begun to doubt.

    If you truly want to know the God who created all things, you will have to receive Him as He comes to you through the means that He has ordained. Frank and Matt do a good job of referencing this.

    But I will also answer a couple of your questions more directly. You asked about God’s need to be worshiped. While the manner in which you asked this was not of humility, it is in fact valid question. You asked from a perspective of challenge, but the question is not challenging in itself.

    In connection you asked whether parents command their children to worship them. The answer is the opposite of what you expected. The answer is a resounding YES.

    Parents command and demand that their children worship them. From conception onward, the parents are the life givers and providers and protectors for their children. Their children depend upon their parents for their very lives. Without parents, children do not come into being and do not survive.

    Therefore parents demand that their children look to them for everything in life: life itself, protection, nourishment, instruction, and love.

    In return the parents demand only one thing: that the children obediently receive these from them according to the way in which they give them.

    This relationship is the basis for life. If this relationship is broken, the parents cannot do for their children what is necessary, and the children cannot live.

    The difference between parents and God is that there is no one who can step in for God and fulfill His place. Parents can be replaced or substituted or complemented. God cannot. Thus His commandments are absolute.

    Anyone who is unwilling to accept this fact places himself in jeopardy. God is unwilling to stand by idly while people separate themselves from His love and care and thereby destroy themselves. Thus God deals with this in the strongest terms of condemnation. He speaks forcefully so as to leave no room for error. When His children ignore Him, He displays His wrath. His children have no right to undo the good that He has arranged for them. His children have no right to choose another way and to hurt themselves and others. This is what Adam did. His rebellious choice was not only for himself, but for all of the children that God had appointed to be born through him and the woman. For a smaller scale example we can look to the crack abusing mother who gives birth to a crack addicted infant.

    There is no nice way to tell you that you are not listening. So I’ll just say it: You are not listening.

    God has told you who He is. He has told you who you are. Are you ready to listen?

    Through Moses God gives two accounts of the Genesis of the cosmos.

    In the first God reveals the step by step, day by day process, in order. It matches perfectly with all the cosmological evidence. Even the highest of God’s creatures shows this in the developmental processes of gestation. Human beings begin at the simplest single cell and progress through the entire process that the evolutionists attempt to twist into a mockery of God’s masterful plan. Yet while their feeble explanations undergo ceaseless change, God’s plan as revealed in a single chapter remains constant and continues to leave the arrogance of man in a quandary.

    The second account completely abandons the sequence of time and instead states that the history or generations of the heavens and the earth are founded in mankind. In the second account the mighty Creator of the heavens and the earth reveals Himself as the one who did all of this for one single purpose, to display His love for Man. The entire cosmos, every star and planet, every microbe and plant and animal is declared to have its existence on account of Man and God’s relationship with Man from eternity. Here the mighty Creator who created all else that exists by speaking it into existence, takes on flesh in order to fashion Man with His own hands in His own image. Yes, here the Word of God is revealed as creating Man and joining Himself to Man forever. This one revealed in the first account as Elohim (The plural form of God), now declares Himself as Yahweh Elohim, who not only takes on the form of Man to create Man in His own Image, but breathes life into Man with His own breath. Then this Yahweh Elohim makes Himself present with Mankind, walking and talking with Man and giving the Fatherly instruction for Life and Happiness in communion with Him. When Man disobeys and breaks this holy communion, Yahweh Elohim continues to come as a loving Father, seeking to restore that which was lost by Man’s rebellion, seeking to restore according to the plan that had already been established from eternity.

    This is the God who came walking in the garden to call Man to repentance. This is the God who came in love to restore rather than to condemn. This is the God that Adam heard so as to be restored to faith, and then turned to his bride and gave her the new name of Heva or Life.

    The real question for you is whether or not you also will hear Him, or whether you will argue with Him. Will you hear Him with the faith that restores or will you argue yourself out of the everlasting blessings that this bold and uncompromising God has decided to give to you even from eternity?

    You see, God does need for you to hear Him and submit to Him in order that He may bestow upon you the love that you refuse to receive. You see, love does not come by force but through the gentle call of the Gospel. What comes by force is the condemnation of the Law, which shows us what we have chosen by not listening with the obedience of faith, the loving obedience of beloved children who know that they are beloved. The Lord continues to insist that we hear Him so as to be changed by Him for our good. Does He need this? He needs this in the same way that our earthly fathers need for us to submit to their earthly headship over us so as to give themselves for us.

    If you can hear this, then you will know the God of love who sacrifices Himself for His family, crying out in agony from the cross, “I am here for you!” If you hear this, all your questions will be answered, and the answer to all your questions will be “Yes” and “Amen.”

  • Michael the little boot

    First, I would like to say it felt nice to get a mention on the main page. Made me smile. Thanks, Professor Veith.

    I think WebMonk gives good clarification. I am indeed asking why we have inherited this sin nature. Let me give it over to Paul, who put it nicely.

    “Through no fault of his/her own, the ship is sinking. You might say he “inherited” his need for salvation.”

    And again, as WebMonk stated I was asking before: why are we born into the sinking ship? If God–whom many of you have said actually transcends earthly parents–has borne us into said ship, is it not incumbent upon God to save us, and not the other way around as has been stated and restated in this posting?

    This is the troubling view of parenting that leads people to think it is okay to raise their children to be Christians or Muslims or Jews or atheists before their children have the ability to decide for themselves. But if some earthly parents have been able to remove themselves from their own perceptions long enough to allow their child to grow and become his or her true self, wouldn’t this transcendent God be able to do likewise?

    No, apparently. God, as Paul A. Siems writes:

    “…is unwilling to stand by idly while people separate themselves from His love and care and thereby destroy themselves. Thus God deals with this in the strongest terms of condemnation. He speaks forcefully so as to leave no room for error. When His children ignore Him, He displays His wrath. His children have no right to undo the good that He has arranged for them. His children have no right to choose another way and to hurt themselves and others. This is what Adam did. His rebellious choice was not only for himself, but for all of the children that God had appointed to be born through him and the woman.”

    (I’ll try to ignore the very condescending “the woman” remark, except in making this parenthetical comment.) Once again: why? Why are we to blame for something we never did, never were around for, a matter in which we never had a choice? And why must we supplicate ourselves to a God who treats us this way, when we are the innocent bystanders of this colossal pile-up? We are, “through no fault of [our] own,” inheritors of this sin nature, correct? And God created us in this state. Hmmm. Suspicious? Once again, apparently not.

    Pr. Lehmann:

    “In the Old Testament (Leviticus 17:11), God offers the sacrifices to Himself to reestablish the relationship that we destroyed by our sin.”

    That’s just it: we didn’t destroy anything by our sin. Adam and Eve did that. We are simply their progeny, with a nasty birthright. We never got the benefit of the doubt that we might make a different choice than they made. Why is this? No one has yet answered me here. You’ve only restated what I called earlier the “old argument”: that we need God because we have a sin nature. Great. But why do we have it?

    (An aside: what is meant by the statement that humanity is the “crown of God’s creation”? So far, nothing in nature shows this to be the case. Not that it isn’t the case. But it is a little suspicious that the only places you find any mention of humanity being the pinnacle of nature–let alone any evidence–is in the books we’ve written about ourselves. Hubris. The Bible even went so far as to place the earth at the center of the universe! Now that our planet has been replaced in its’ lowly position we have envisioned ourselves at the tip of the spear of his creation, which feels like just about the last grab at that straw.)

    So, not only do we have a sin nature we can’t escape, but one for which we must also pay a price. And then, Manxman says

    “God’s creation is a hierarchy, not an equality, with Him at the top, and us (and everything else) at a lower level. I think acknowledgment of this truth in our hearts and in our behavior is at the heart of worship. It is not that God needs it, it’s that for us to be filling our proper role in His creation, we have an obligation to acknowledge the truth that God is greater and ‘better’ than we are.”

    Why? What did we do? If we did nothing, can we not acknowledge our debt to Gods’ having created us without supplication or prostration, without having to call ourselves pathetic and worthless? Doesn’t God love us unconditionally, which literally means “without conditions or limitations; absolute”? Or does God place conditions on this love? Which is it?

    This actually sounds like Marduk, and the dude with the sinking ship again. I mean, I’m willing to pay any debt I incur honestly, but I was apparently born with a sin nature “through no fault of [my] own.” A debt I did nothing on my own to accrue; rather, one that was foisted upon me by my umpteenth-great-ancestor. Please, someone, tell me what any of the innumerable generations subsequent to Adam and Eve did to deserve this treatment. This is what I have asked, and the question has been sidestepped. I will try to slip it in a few more times before I finish.

    allen elaborates: “It’s almost as if He’s saying, ‘OK, I know you all are going to worship something, so here’s the deal.’”

    Once again, we worship things because, many years ago, without our involvement in any way, our ancestor decided to do something against the will of his creator, a choice we have not been given the chance to undo. We have, however, been offered the merciful secondary option of subjugating ourselves to the very God who gave our ancestor his curious and rebellious nature, placed a tree near him that was inviting and lush, then told him under penalty of death not to touch it–which is basically the equivalent of putting a fat kid in a room with broccoli and a chocolate cake and telling him not to eat the cake, then punishing him when he does the inevitable.

    But this again begs the question: why didn’t God just create us without the ability to sin? Well, this does away with free will. Okay. Then why did God create a universe in which sin was a choice? This doesn’t hurt free will. God clearly cut us off from many choices. We can’t breathe underwater. We can’t see the future. We can’t fly. Men can’t give birth. Women rarely grow beards. We have limits. We also have choices we can make within those limits.

    Of course, allen’s quote also begs the question “why is it necessarily true that everyone is going to worship something?” I don’t worship things. I am curious about almost everything. I am interested in being interested, and that usually entails a slow pace when looking things over. I regard things with quiet wonder. Yes, Frank, with mystery. But I’m getting ahead of myself. We’ll get to mystery. The point here is I don’t put anything at the center of my life. I don’t worship any single thing. In fact, I’m a generalist by trade. I work in a library.

    So somehow, “through no fault of [our] own,” we have incurred God’s wrath by being born onto Adam’s sinking boat and are now “pathetic and worthless” without God, who actually created us to be birthed onto our ancestors’ rickety old katamaran. And then this loving God created worship in order that he might sacrifice to himself and RE-create us in his image as he wanted us to be before we disappointed him so.

    Earthly parents are not guilty of such heinous acts. These lowly humans do not “test” their children in such a blatantly base and capricious way as God does in Genesis. (Once again, I sight the fat kid and the broccoli example.) If they did, one hopes someone close to the family would call child protective services, or, better yet, do something about it themselves. And even a parent allows their child to grow up and make their own decisions. For that matter, even our government allows critique and dissension. Not God? Once again: does God have such low self-esteem that he can’t allow a few questions?

    Now, I agree with Matt L. that worship as something one does to give something else worth is paganism. But he goes on to talk about the types of worship he considers to be essentially Christian:

    “The first is God’s Service to us. This is the primary ‘worship’ of a Christian. It is to be on the receiving end of the giving of gifts. First and foremost of these gifts is the forgiveness of sins.”

    Why do we need our sins forgiven if they are only what we do naturally as a result of our being on the genetic “receiving end” of Adam’s boat thing? You know, “through no fault of [our] own”?

    Matt continues: “The second concept of ‘worship’ is that of bowing down, prostrating oneself. For those of us who are U.S. Americans, this is a completely foreign concept. We don’t take a knee as our king passes.”

    He’s correct. We don’t. Because we don’t have a king, by choice. We are self-governed. We believe we are not creatures that deserve to be subservient to another creature. And I’ll take it further. We deserve to be under no one, not even our creator, unless the creator can show us what we ourselves have done to merit such treatment. I don’t think this attitude is pride. On the contrary, I think the attitude that is suspect is that of the creator who would act toward his creation in an extremely childish way.

    (Of course, God could be totally arbitrary, treating us this way for pleasure. Which is kinda what I was getting at in my earlier post. But let’s leave that alone. I just wanted to point it out. We all knew it was there, like the proverbial elephant. Now that the tension’s broken, we can move on.)

    Matt L: “Nonetheless, this prostration is an act of reverence given to one’s Lord. There is submission involved, and of course this act of submission is tied to the fact that we are being served.”

    Right. Being served by being forgiven for our unfortunate lineage.

    “Just like you teach kids to say ‘thank you’ when they receive a gift, we too give thanks unto the Lord because his lovingkindness endures forever, He has heard our cry of distress and has come to save us.”

    Right. From the sinking ship we’ve been unlucky enough to have found ourselves on at the moment of our birth. Loving-kindness, indeed.

    Now, I can get down with this “worship as trust” idea, as Frank says, although it is a radical redefinition of the term (which, of course, Frank does acknowledge). But in that case we could rightly say that we worship all of our close friends, relatives, perhaps some business associates. And I have to say I have no problem with it if you put it that way.

    I do have a problem being browbeaten by Mr. Siems. I will only say a few things about his diatribe.

    1. As stated previously, I do want to be treated on an equal level with my creator. Any creator that would not treat his/her creation in this way is childish, much like any parent that would treat their fully grown child as less than equal.

    2. I do not harbor resentment toward this God. I do not believe in this interpretation of God.

    3. I do think any reasonable being would be able to discuss his/her commands with those under authority without having to worry. Once again, God is weak at best if he has self-esteem issues.

    4. Since parents bring children into the world, it is their responsibility to provide for the children. It is not the child’s responsibility to supplant his/her wishes or desires with a parents’ simply because the parent brought them into the world and fulfilled their parental responsibility in this matter by providing for the child’s basic needs until they could do so on their own. It is the parent’s duty to care for the child they brought into the world by their choice, which, once again, had nothing to do with asking the child whether they wanted to exist at all. Your argument is flawed in that it has those roles reversed. Parents should appreciate and guide their children, bringing them up to be successful in the world.

    5. Crack babies are a myth. Seriously. Google it. “Crack baby myth.” You’ll get lots of hits.

    6. God has told me who he is? Where? In nature? In the Bible? The Koran? The Upanishads? Where’s the evidence any one of those books contains who God is? Or even proves that God is real?

    7. The first creation account “matches perfectly with all the cosmological evidence”? Seriously? This has all absolutely been disputed and shown to be in direct conflict with things that were not known at the time the Bible was written. Bold statement, sir. Bold and wrong.

    8. Your interpretation of the Yahweh/Elohim connection is interesting. It’s a pretty liberal harmonization of what is commonly understood among scholars to be an amalgam of disparate texts edited together, including references to the old gods Yahweh and El (and a few others, such as Ba’al) as well as later references to the post-Israel “one God” of the Jews–which was itself an exercise in harmonization.

    9. Nice one on the “If you can hear this” bit at the end. You set me up but good. Since it’s obvious I don’t agree with you, you’re free and clear to declare I am everything that is the opposite of your last paragraph. Such a trap door. And bit of a straw man. Still, kudos. I salute you, sir.

    I enjoy much more Frank’s mystery. But I like to think I just leave it at that. Simple. Mystery. As in “anything that is kept secret or remains unexplained or unknown.” And I don’t need it to have an answer. Which is why I have no religion, and still have morals and can be courteous (unlike our mean Mr. Siems). Why is this view seen as prideful? I claim, actually, to know as close to nothing of the totality of possible knowledge as I can and still know a little. Isn’t this a fairly simple way to view things? I am moral because I am human. I do not sin, and have no need of that hypothesis. I am not perfect, of course, because there is no such thing, in my opinion. I can be horrible. And good. Just like life. And I like to leave it at that.

    If there is a God “up there,” I think that God is fine with me living out the life I’ve been given as best I can using the brain with which that God blessed me. And I am absolutely willing to accept whatever consequences come with that radical view of life.

  • Michael the little boot

    First, I would like to say it felt nice to get a mention on the main page. Made me smile. Thanks, Professor Veith.

    I think WebMonk gives good clarification. I am indeed asking why we have inherited this sin nature. Let me give it over to Paul, who put it nicely.

    “Through no fault of his/her own, the ship is sinking. You might say he “inherited” his need for salvation.”

    And again, as WebMonk stated I was asking before: why are we born into the sinking ship? If God–whom many of you have said actually transcends earthly parents–has borne us into said ship, is it not incumbent upon God to save us, and not the other way around as has been stated and restated in this posting?

    This is the troubling view of parenting that leads people to think it is okay to raise their children to be Christians or Muslims or Jews or atheists before their children have the ability to decide for themselves. But if some earthly parents have been able to remove themselves from their own perceptions long enough to allow their child to grow and become his or her true self, wouldn’t this transcendent God be able to do likewise?

    No, apparently. God, as Paul A. Siems writes:

    “…is unwilling to stand by idly while people separate themselves from His love and care and thereby destroy themselves. Thus God deals with this in the strongest terms of condemnation. He speaks forcefully so as to leave no room for error. When His children ignore Him, He displays His wrath. His children have no right to undo the good that He has arranged for them. His children have no right to choose another way and to hurt themselves and others. This is what Adam did. His rebellious choice was not only for himself, but for all of the children that God had appointed to be born through him and the woman.”

    (I’ll try to ignore the very condescending “the woman” remark, except in making this parenthetical comment.) Once again: why? Why are we to blame for something we never did, never were around for, a matter in which we never had a choice? And why must we supplicate ourselves to a God who treats us this way, when we are the innocent bystanders of this colossal pile-up? We are, “through no fault of [our] own,” inheritors of this sin nature, correct? And God created us in this state. Hmmm. Suspicious? Once again, apparently not.

    Pr. Lehmann:

    “In the Old Testament (Leviticus 17:11), God offers the sacrifices to Himself to reestablish the relationship that we destroyed by our sin.”

    That’s just it: we didn’t destroy anything by our sin. Adam and Eve did that. We are simply their progeny, with a nasty birthright. We never got the benefit of the doubt that we might make a different choice than they made. Why is this? No one has yet answered me here. You’ve only restated what I called earlier the “old argument”: that we need God because we have a sin nature. Great. But why do we have it?

    (An aside: what is meant by the statement that humanity is the “crown of God’s creation”? So far, nothing in nature shows this to be the case. Not that it isn’t the case. But it is a little suspicious that the only places you find any mention of humanity being the pinnacle of nature–let alone any evidence–is in the books we’ve written about ourselves. Hubris. The Bible even went so far as to place the earth at the center of the universe! Now that our planet has been replaced in its’ lowly position we have envisioned ourselves at the tip of the spear of his creation, which feels like just about the last grab at that straw.)

    So, not only do we have a sin nature we can’t escape, but one for which we must also pay a price. And then, Manxman says

    “God’s creation is a hierarchy, not an equality, with Him at the top, and us (and everything else) at a lower level. I think acknowledgment of this truth in our hearts and in our behavior is at the heart of worship. It is not that God needs it, it’s that for us to be filling our proper role in His creation, we have an obligation to acknowledge the truth that God is greater and ‘better’ than we are.”

    Why? What did we do? If we did nothing, can we not acknowledge our debt to Gods’ having created us without supplication or prostration, without having to call ourselves pathetic and worthless? Doesn’t God love us unconditionally, which literally means “without conditions or limitations; absolute”? Or does God place conditions on this love? Which is it?

    This actually sounds like Marduk, and the dude with the sinking ship again. I mean, I’m willing to pay any debt I incur honestly, but I was apparently born with a sin nature “through no fault of [my] own.” A debt I did nothing on my own to accrue; rather, one that was foisted upon me by my umpteenth-great-ancestor. Please, someone, tell me what any of the innumerable generations subsequent to Adam and Eve did to deserve this treatment. This is what I have asked, and the question has been sidestepped. I will try to slip it in a few more times before I finish.

    allen elaborates: “It’s almost as if He’s saying, ‘OK, I know you all are going to worship something, so here’s the deal.’”

    Once again, we worship things because, many years ago, without our involvement in any way, our ancestor decided to do something against the will of his creator, a choice we have not been given the chance to undo. We have, however, been offered the merciful secondary option of subjugating ourselves to the very God who gave our ancestor his curious and rebellious nature, placed a tree near him that was inviting and lush, then told him under penalty of death not to touch it–which is basically the equivalent of putting a fat kid in a room with broccoli and a chocolate cake and telling him not to eat the cake, then punishing him when he does the inevitable.

    But this again begs the question: why didn’t God just create us without the ability to sin? Well, this does away with free will. Okay. Then why did God create a universe in which sin was a choice? This doesn’t hurt free will. God clearly cut us off from many choices. We can’t breathe underwater. We can’t see the future. We can’t fly. Men can’t give birth. Women rarely grow beards. We have limits. We also have choices we can make within those limits.

    Of course, allen’s quote also begs the question “why is it necessarily true that everyone is going to worship something?” I don’t worship things. I am curious about almost everything. I am interested in being interested, and that usually entails a slow pace when looking things over. I regard things with quiet wonder. Yes, Frank, with mystery. But I’m getting ahead of myself. We’ll get to mystery. The point here is I don’t put anything at the center of my life. I don’t worship any single thing. In fact, I’m a generalist by trade. I work in a library.

    So somehow, “through no fault of [our] own,” we have incurred God’s wrath by being born onto Adam’s sinking boat and are now “pathetic and worthless” without God, who actually created us to be birthed onto our ancestors’ rickety old katamaran. And then this loving God created worship in order that he might sacrifice to himself and RE-create us in his image as he wanted us to be before we disappointed him so.

    Earthly parents are not guilty of such heinous acts. These lowly humans do not “test” their children in such a blatantly base and capricious way as God does in Genesis. (Once again, I sight the fat kid and the broccoli example.) If they did, one hopes someone close to the family would call child protective services, or, better yet, do something about it themselves. And even a parent allows their child to grow up and make their own decisions. For that matter, even our government allows critique and dissension. Not God? Once again: does God have such low self-esteem that he can’t allow a few questions?

    Now, I agree with Matt L. that worship as something one does to give something else worth is paganism. But he goes on to talk about the types of worship he considers to be essentially Christian:

    “The first is God’s Service to us. This is the primary ‘worship’ of a Christian. It is to be on the receiving end of the giving of gifts. First and foremost of these gifts is the forgiveness of sins.”

    Why do we need our sins forgiven if they are only what we do naturally as a result of our being on the genetic “receiving end” of Adam’s boat thing? You know, “through no fault of [our] own”?

    Matt continues: “The second concept of ‘worship’ is that of bowing down, prostrating oneself. For those of us who are U.S. Americans, this is a completely foreign concept. We don’t take a knee as our king passes.”

    He’s correct. We don’t. Because we don’t have a king, by choice. We are self-governed. We believe we are not creatures that deserve to be subservient to another creature. And I’ll take it further. We deserve to be under no one, not even our creator, unless the creator can show us what we ourselves have done to merit such treatment. I don’t think this attitude is pride. On the contrary, I think the attitude that is suspect is that of the creator who would act toward his creation in an extremely childish way.

    (Of course, God could be totally arbitrary, treating us this way for pleasure. Which is kinda what I was getting at in my earlier post. But let’s leave that alone. I just wanted to point it out. We all knew it was there, like the proverbial elephant. Now that the tension’s broken, we can move on.)

    Matt L: “Nonetheless, this prostration is an act of reverence given to one’s Lord. There is submission involved, and of course this act of submission is tied to the fact that we are being served.”

    Right. Being served by being forgiven for our unfortunate lineage.

    “Just like you teach kids to say ‘thank you’ when they receive a gift, we too give thanks unto the Lord because his lovingkindness endures forever, He has heard our cry of distress and has come to save us.”

    Right. From the sinking ship we’ve been unlucky enough to have found ourselves on at the moment of our birth. Loving-kindness, indeed.

    Now, I can get down with this “worship as trust” idea, as Frank says, although it is a radical redefinition of the term (which, of course, Frank does acknowledge). But in that case we could rightly say that we worship all of our close friends, relatives, perhaps some business associates. And I have to say I have no problem with it if you put it that way.

    I do have a problem being browbeaten by Mr. Siems. I will only say a few things about his diatribe.

    1. As stated previously, I do want to be treated on an equal level with my creator. Any creator that would not treat his/her creation in this way is childish, much like any parent that would treat their fully grown child as less than equal.

    2. I do not harbor resentment toward this God. I do not believe in this interpretation of God.

    3. I do think any reasonable being would be able to discuss his/her commands with those under authority without having to worry. Once again, God is weak at best if he has self-esteem issues.

    4. Since parents bring children into the world, it is their responsibility to provide for the children. It is not the child’s responsibility to supplant his/her wishes or desires with a parents’ simply because the parent brought them into the world and fulfilled their parental responsibility in this matter by providing for the child’s basic needs until they could do so on their own. It is the parent’s duty to care for the child they brought into the world by their choice, which, once again, had nothing to do with asking the child whether they wanted to exist at all. Your argument is flawed in that it has those roles reversed. Parents should appreciate and guide their children, bringing them up to be successful in the world.

    5. Crack babies are a myth. Seriously. Google it. “Crack baby myth.” You’ll get lots of hits.

    6. God has told me who he is? Where? In nature? In the Bible? The Koran? The Upanishads? Where’s the evidence any one of those books contains who God is? Or even proves that God is real?

    7. The first creation account “matches perfectly with all the cosmological evidence”? Seriously? This has all absolutely been disputed and shown to be in direct conflict with things that were not known at the time the Bible was written. Bold statement, sir. Bold and wrong.

    8. Your interpretation of the Yahweh/Elohim connection is interesting. It’s a pretty liberal harmonization of what is commonly understood among scholars to be an amalgam of disparate texts edited together, including references to the old gods Yahweh and El (and a few others, such as Ba’al) as well as later references to the post-Israel “one God” of the Jews–which was itself an exercise in harmonization.

    9. Nice one on the “If you can hear this” bit at the end. You set me up but good. Since it’s obvious I don’t agree with you, you’re free and clear to declare I am everything that is the opposite of your last paragraph. Such a trap door. And bit of a straw man. Still, kudos. I salute you, sir.

    I enjoy much more Frank’s mystery. But I like to think I just leave it at that. Simple. Mystery. As in “anything that is kept secret or remains unexplained or unknown.” And I don’t need it to have an answer. Which is why I have no religion, and still have morals and can be courteous (unlike our mean Mr. Siems). Why is this view seen as prideful? I claim, actually, to know as close to nothing of the totality of possible knowledge as I can and still know a little. Isn’t this a fairly simple way to view things? I am moral because I am human. I do not sin, and have no need of that hypothesis. I am not perfect, of course, because there is no such thing, in my opinion. I can be horrible. And good. Just like life. And I like to leave it at that.

    If there is a God “up there,” I think that God is fine with me living out the life I’ve been given as best I can using the brain with which that God blessed me. And I am absolutely willing to accept whatever consequences come with that radical view of life.

  • Michael the little boot

    And I forgot to add, aping WebMonk again, Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Michael the little boot

    And I forgot to add, aping WebMonk again, Happy Thanksgiving!

  • fwsonnek

    Dear Michael:

    I am seeing that you come back to some basic questions.

    Or maybe even A basic question.

    I note with interest two things:

    (1) Interestingly, I think I agree with almost everything you have to say.

    What you write says nothing about my God or what I believe. It feels like characature to me actually.

    So you are arguing against someone else´s view of God.

    Ok. So I mostly agree with you. So now your point is?

    (2) I identify as a christian. I seem to have managed to talk right past you in describing my God and my faith. My God appears to be unfamiliar to you. I apologize for that.

    Interesting.

    From previous and side conversations with the other guys here, I KNOW that we are in remarkable agreement on most everything that has to do with our common faith (yes that include my dear brother Siems!). We see God the same way. Yet what you are being told here seems to reinforce what you suspect all christians think about God. I can see that.

    Being a gay man, I should be on the outside looking in like you, but here we are. Again interesting.

    My english professor in college TOLD me I would ever be a poor writer…. blogs are heaven for those of us with poor writing skills and nothing original to say….

    Let me see if I can do better for you….

    If Dr Veith can leave this thread open for a bit longer, I will copy what you wrote to MS Word and carefully parse what you have written to see if I can get down to your main points and address them directly.

    Again, my apologies for lack of clarity on my part. Your questions are all good and worthy of a well considered response. I will attempt to respond again shortly.

    In the meantime, it would be helpful to me to hear more from you on YOUR views, what you believe as opposed to what you don´t and maybe something about what religious influences you have had in your life thus far.

    Thanks,

    Frank

  • fwsonnek

    Dear Michael:

    I am seeing that you come back to some basic questions.

    Or maybe even A basic question.

    I note with interest two things:

    (1) Interestingly, I think I agree with almost everything you have to say.

    What you write says nothing about my God or what I believe. It feels like characature to me actually.

    So you are arguing against someone else´s view of God.

    Ok. So I mostly agree with you. So now your point is?

    (2) I identify as a christian. I seem to have managed to talk right past you in describing my God and my faith. My God appears to be unfamiliar to you. I apologize for that.

    Interesting.

    From previous and side conversations with the other guys here, I KNOW that we are in remarkable agreement on most everything that has to do with our common faith (yes that include my dear brother Siems!). We see God the same way. Yet what you are being told here seems to reinforce what you suspect all christians think about God. I can see that.

    Being a gay man, I should be on the outside looking in like you, but here we are. Again interesting.

    My english professor in college TOLD me I would ever be a poor writer…. blogs are heaven for those of us with poor writing skills and nothing original to say….

    Let me see if I can do better for you….

    If Dr Veith can leave this thread open for a bit longer, I will copy what you wrote to MS Word and carefully parse what you have written to see if I can get down to your main points and address them directly.

    Again, my apologies for lack of clarity on my part. Your questions are all good and worthy of a well considered response. I will attempt to respond again shortly.

    In the meantime, it would be helpful to me to hear more from you on YOUR views, what you believe as opposed to what you don´t and maybe something about what religious influences you have had in your life thus far.

    Thanks,

    Frank

  • http://www.brideofchristelc.com Paul A. Siems

    Dear Michael,

    I prepared a longer response, but I think that it can really be summed up with a single question.

    Do you find yourself equally motivated to challenge the faith of Muslims, Buddhists, and people of other religions and scriptures in the same way that you challenge those who profess to believe in Jesus, the God of the Bible?

  • http://www.brideofchristelc.com Paul A. Siems

    Dear Michael,

    I prepared a longer response, but I think that it can really be summed up with a single question.

    Do you find yourself equally motivated to challenge the faith of Muslims, Buddhists, and people of other religions and scriptures in the same way that you challenge those who profess to believe in Jesus, the God of the Bible?

  • allen

    Michael,

    I didn’t mean to avoid any question. I only mean that “worshipping” seems to be ubiquitous in human history.

    In Luke 4:8, Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:13 to Satan regarding the idea of worshipping creation as opposed to the Creator. I suppose “worship only” could be understood in both senses, that is, with the emphasis on either word.

    If you believed that there was such a thing as a Creator, wouldn’t you be interested in Him? Worship doesn’t have to mean fear as such, or ecstasy as such. In fact, I would have thought that in Lutheran circles, it involves more a calling of things by their right names (and though everybody says that, everybody can’t be right).

    I reckon that if I were an agnostic or something like that, I would not wonder that various religions insist that the Creator, *rather than the creation,* be worshipped. It kinda makes sense.

    As for the kneeling, the bowing of heads and so forth, this is adiaphora. Is this what you mean by worship?

  • allen

    Michael,

    I didn’t mean to avoid any question. I only mean that “worshipping” seems to be ubiquitous in human history.

    In Luke 4:8, Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:13 to Satan regarding the idea of worshipping creation as opposed to the Creator. I suppose “worship only” could be understood in both senses, that is, with the emphasis on either word.

    If you believed that there was such a thing as a Creator, wouldn’t you be interested in Him? Worship doesn’t have to mean fear as such, or ecstasy as such. In fact, I would have thought that in Lutheran circles, it involves more a calling of things by their right names (and though everybody says that, everybody can’t be right).

    I reckon that if I were an agnostic or something like that, I would not wonder that various religions insist that the Creator, *rather than the creation,* be worshipped. It kinda makes sense.

    As for the kneeling, the bowing of heads and so forth, this is adiaphora. Is this what you mean by worship?

  • Michael the little boot

    It being Thanksgiving I’ve been in and out all day. As I’m on my way out again, I just wanted to say a couple things. The first is that I will respond tomorrow with a thorough post if this is still open. Didn’t want to let the time slip by without saying something, even if it’s just saying something about saying something.

    The second, though, is a quick response to Mr. Siems. I find I have many problems with many different religions. I don’t find myself particularly challenging toward one more than another. However, I was raised in the church and was a Christian for almost twenty years, so I have the most detailed things to say about Christianity as opposed to other religions. My father is also Jewish, so I know a little about that, and I studied comparative religions in college, but my experience of anything other than Christianity is limited to say the least. And, so far as I know, there aren’t any Muslims, Buddhists, or otherwise who have spoken up on this post. Plus, it’s a blog by a Christian, so I figured that’s what we were talking about.

    But I give equal opportunity to my challenges. If you look back, I even included atheists in the list of people who shouldn’t indoctrinate their children.

    This discussion is great, though, isn’t it? I love it. Like waking up in the morning to the crisp air on Thanksgiving.

  • Michael the little boot

    It being Thanksgiving I’ve been in and out all day. As I’m on my way out again, I just wanted to say a couple things. The first is that I will respond tomorrow with a thorough post if this is still open. Didn’t want to let the time slip by without saying something, even if it’s just saying something about saying something.

    The second, though, is a quick response to Mr. Siems. I find I have many problems with many different religions. I don’t find myself particularly challenging toward one more than another. However, I was raised in the church and was a Christian for almost twenty years, so I have the most detailed things to say about Christianity as opposed to other religions. My father is also Jewish, so I know a little about that, and I studied comparative religions in college, but my experience of anything other than Christianity is limited to say the least. And, so far as I know, there aren’t any Muslims, Buddhists, or otherwise who have spoken up on this post. Plus, it’s a blog by a Christian, so I figured that’s what we were talking about.

    But I give equal opportunity to my challenges. If you look back, I even included atheists in the list of people who shouldn’t indoctrinate their children.

    This discussion is great, though, isn’t it? I love it. Like waking up in the morning to the crisp air on Thanksgiving.

  • http://www.brideofchristelc.com Paul A. Siems

    Dear Michael,

    Thank you for your answer. It does provide what I was asking.

    I’ll be signing off with one brief challenge to you in your processing of this matter. You said at the conclusion of your previous post:

    “If there is a God “up there,” I think that God is fine with me living out the life I’ve been given as best I can using the brain with which that God blessed me. And I am absolutely willing to accept whatever consequences come with that radical view of life.”

    You say that you reject the Bible as God’s revelation of Himself, so I can only use your own words and opinions and experiences, since you state in this paragraph that this is the basis of your belief system.

    “If” does not provide anyone anything of substance. Neither does personal opinion such as “I think.” Using your own experience and observations, is there any king or judge who has ever accepted such challenges to his/her authority as “OK”?

    You have read the Bible enough to take shots at it, but you have made it clear that you have not read it or heard it from the perspective from which the One who claims to have authored it speaks. It is for this reason that the JEDP theory, to which you hinted, and the more elaborate theories based upon it, collapsed and have been discredited even by their own proponents. These theories are nothing more than a hodgepodge of attacks upon presumed discrepancies, much like the so called Google debunks of babies born with addictions. There are many documented cases of babies being born with addictions to many drugs, and of their suffering the withdrawal symptoms. Some were so severe that they had to be taken off of the drug using methadone or other substitute.

    When the Holy Scriptures (the Bible) are read according to the clearly stated context of their writing, the presumed discrepancies are observed as consistent with that context and not discrepancies at all. But this can only be observed by someone who approaches the Scriptures from the perspective in which they declare that they are written. St. Paul declares that perspective in absolute terms in 1 Corinthians 2:2. Moses records it directly from the mouth of God in Genesis 3:15. And yes, according to these Scriptures, the God of the Bible who walked with Adam and Woman (that is the translation of her actual name given to her by Adam in Gen. 2:23 until Genesis 3:20), this God has a mouth, and hands, and eyes and a body. This God/Man showed Himself throughout the Old Testament at various times, but ultimately appeared through the conception in Mary. Until the conception in Mary, He also appeared in other physical forms such as a Rock that gave water, Manna from heaven, a pillar of fire and cloud. But after the Seed was delivered into the world, He has continued as the Son of Man.

    The point is that when this is observed as the theme of the Scriptures, even as they themselves declare, everything fits perfectly.

    I realize that you will likely disagree with this. But for the sake of curiosity, you may at least want to give it a try. After all, what do you really have to lose except your big “IF”?

    I share this with you, and with others, with deep conviction, not for the purpose of “brow beating,” but because I don’t want anyone to face the day of judgment without having been confronted with the promise that removes all IFs. If that is the definition of mean, then I may very well be the meanest man in the world.

    I guess in a sense it is a relief to me that you judge me in the same way that you judge my God. At least it confirms that you know who I am really presenting.

    In the name of the mean God who openly confronted sin and unbelief and gave Himself unto suffering and ridicule so that others would be spared,

    Paul

  • http://www.brideofchristelc.com Paul A. Siems

    Dear Michael,

    Thank you for your answer. It does provide what I was asking.

    I’ll be signing off with one brief challenge to you in your processing of this matter. You said at the conclusion of your previous post:

    “If there is a God “up there,” I think that God is fine with me living out the life I’ve been given as best I can using the brain with which that God blessed me. And I am absolutely willing to accept whatever consequences come with that radical view of life.”

    You say that you reject the Bible as God’s revelation of Himself, so I can only use your own words and opinions and experiences, since you state in this paragraph that this is the basis of your belief system.

    “If” does not provide anyone anything of substance. Neither does personal opinion such as “I think.” Using your own experience and observations, is there any king or judge who has ever accepted such challenges to his/her authority as “OK”?

    You have read the Bible enough to take shots at it, but you have made it clear that you have not read it or heard it from the perspective from which the One who claims to have authored it speaks. It is for this reason that the JEDP theory, to which you hinted, and the more elaborate theories based upon it, collapsed and have been discredited even by their own proponents. These theories are nothing more than a hodgepodge of attacks upon presumed discrepancies, much like the so called Google debunks of babies born with addictions. There are many documented cases of babies being born with addictions to many drugs, and of their suffering the withdrawal symptoms. Some were so severe that they had to be taken off of the drug using methadone or other substitute.

    When the Holy Scriptures (the Bible) are read according to the clearly stated context of their writing, the presumed discrepancies are observed as consistent with that context and not discrepancies at all. But this can only be observed by someone who approaches the Scriptures from the perspective in which they declare that they are written. St. Paul declares that perspective in absolute terms in 1 Corinthians 2:2. Moses records it directly from the mouth of God in Genesis 3:15. And yes, according to these Scriptures, the God of the Bible who walked with Adam and Woman (that is the translation of her actual name given to her by Adam in Gen. 2:23 until Genesis 3:20), this God has a mouth, and hands, and eyes and a body. This God/Man showed Himself throughout the Old Testament at various times, but ultimately appeared through the conception in Mary. Until the conception in Mary, He also appeared in other physical forms such as a Rock that gave water, Manna from heaven, a pillar of fire and cloud. But after the Seed was delivered into the world, He has continued as the Son of Man.

    The point is that when this is observed as the theme of the Scriptures, even as they themselves declare, everything fits perfectly.

    I realize that you will likely disagree with this. But for the sake of curiosity, you may at least want to give it a try. After all, what do you really have to lose except your big “IF”?

    I share this with you, and with others, with deep conviction, not for the purpose of “brow beating,” but because I don’t want anyone to face the day of judgment without having been confronted with the promise that removes all IFs. If that is the definition of mean, then I may very well be the meanest man in the world.

    I guess in a sense it is a relief to me that you judge me in the same way that you judge my God. At least it confirms that you know who I am really presenting.

    In the name of the mean God who openly confronted sin and unbelief and gave Himself unto suffering and ridicule so that others would be spared,

    Paul

  • NewChristian

    Mike, if your experience with Christians was all like these people, I can’t say I’m surprised that you left church. I know I would never become a Christian if they were all I looked at.

    People, Mike has some serious questions and all you guys can do is insult him! thank God not all Christians are like you people! I was referred here because a friend said Mike had asked a good question and there might be some well-said answers. Forget that. Go find some real Christians to ask your questions.

    I talked with a friend and a pastor after Thanksgiving yesterday, and though they came at it from different angles, they essentially said that God made people perfect and capable of making their own decisions. The perfect happiness is to have no sinfulness and to be in communion with God. Adam and Eve’s sin ruined that for them. That sin nature is something that each soul inherits from his parents. (my friend has an idea that each person inherits DNA for his body, and soul from his parents soul, so we inherit the corrupted nature too, but that’s just shitting around talk after dinner) Another fun bit of BS we batted around was what sort of whacked out world it would be if some people were still sinless and others engaged in sin.

    Anyway, you’ll need to look elsewhere for spiritual answers. Though I got invited to church by meeting someone over the inernte it wasn’t until I became friends with him and his pastor and started to seriously talk with them that I came to trust Christ. Short-and-long – go offline to ask questions. Even my stuff abover is just a REALY breif summary. I know there are lots of problems with it as I said it, but we talked about them yesterday, its just that it’ll take too long to type everything otu there. Gof ind someone to talk with.

  • NewChristian

    Mike, if your experience with Christians was all like these people, I can’t say I’m surprised that you left church. I know I would never become a Christian if they were all I looked at.

    People, Mike has some serious questions and all you guys can do is insult him! thank God not all Christians are like you people! I was referred here because a friend said Mike had asked a good question and there might be some well-said answers. Forget that. Go find some real Christians to ask your questions.

    I talked with a friend and a pastor after Thanksgiving yesterday, and though they came at it from different angles, they essentially said that God made people perfect and capable of making their own decisions. The perfect happiness is to have no sinfulness and to be in communion with God. Adam and Eve’s sin ruined that for them. That sin nature is something that each soul inherits from his parents. (my friend has an idea that each person inherits DNA for his body, and soul from his parents soul, so we inherit the corrupted nature too, but that’s just shitting around talk after dinner) Another fun bit of BS we batted around was what sort of whacked out world it would be if some people were still sinless and others engaged in sin.

    Anyway, you’ll need to look elsewhere for spiritual answers. Though I got invited to church by meeting someone over the inernte it wasn’t until I became friends with him and his pastor and started to seriously talk with them that I came to trust Christ. Short-and-long – go offline to ask questions. Even my stuff abover is just a REALY breif summary. I know there are lots of problems with it as I said it, but we talked about them yesterday, its just that it’ll take too long to type everything otu there. Gof ind someone to talk with.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Michael the little boot, I must admit that I find blog comments are not well suited for your questions, if only because they are long, with many subquestions. It’s not that I don’t think they’re good questions, but I have a hard time remembering the whole thread when it takes up so many screens (at this point) on my computer. Much preferred to discuss it over a beer, but unless you live in Portland, that won’t likely happen.

    Your main question, to boil it down to a word, seems to be “why?” Fair enough. But, and this isn’t something I really relish saying, I don’t think “why?” is always the best question. For one thing, it seeks intent, but fails to address what is, intent or no. I could as well ask why it was I was born into a life of relative comfort and great blessings, but, whether or not I discover the reason behind it, I won’t change the fact that I was, indeed, born into such a life. Similarly, the question (for example) of “why we have inherited this sin nature” does not address if we inherit a sinful nature. That said, as I read your argument, you seemed to conflate the facts of the matter and the reason behind the facts: “Why is this so? I do not believe this should be so. Therefore, I do not believe this is so.” (Correct me if this is a wholly unfair characterization.) We may very well debate why the things of God are as they are, but first we should discuss if they are as they are. Failing to do so is like starting a class on quantum physics by asking, “Well, class, what do you think: does QED jive with your way of thinking? Do you like it?” Doesn’t really matter, does it?

    Christians, by faith, determine what is and what isn’t (and occasionally WHy it is or isn’t) by reading the Bible. Thus, we can only answer why something is some way if God tells us. So if you ask me why we are forgiven by God, then I can tell you very clearly that it is because of God’s love for us, expressed through Jesus’ atoning death on the cross, and not because of anything we have done. Easy. But if you ask me why there is evil in the world (and I think you have), I can’t really give you a good answer. Maybe people much smarter than me who are really well-versed in their Bible can answer you, but not me. I don’t see a clear-cut answer in the Bible. God tells me there is evil in the world. He tells me I am sinful (thank goodness he also tells me the aforementioned part about complete forgiveness!) and contribute to the evil. He even tells us where evil doesn’t come from — that is, himself. But he doesn’t tell me everything about it. Perhaps he didn’t think it important for me to know. Perhaps he knew I wouldn’t understand if he told me.

    This last bit is, of course, a very frustrating answer, particularly for people like me, who occasionally fancy themselves fairly clever. But then I think about a small child asking his father why the sky is blue. The father could tell the child about electromagnetic radiation, the visible spectrum, light scattering, absorption, wavelenghts, and all that, but it won’t matter a lick to the kid. So the kid will ultimately have to settle for “it just is” until he’s taken some physics courses.

    But even asking such questions tells us about the answer — not necessarily the answer that “just is”, but the answer that we seek. By refusing to take “it just is” as an answer, we demonstrate that we believe the universe is 100% understandable to us, or will at some point be. And in so doing, we rule out anything transcendant from appearing in the answers that we find. By faith, Christians believe things they don’t understand, because by faith we believe in a God we can’t fully understand. And frankly, as a rather small component of the universe — I’m not its creator, but simply a product of its creation — I don’t expect to ever fully understand it.

    Anyhow, maybe I’ve said something useful here, maybe it appears I’ve dodged everything interesting you asked. Hard to say, but I don’t have the attention span to reply point-by-point. Sorry. Maybe I’ll give it a go after I’m done with this reply. But a few short replies before I finish this over-long comment.

    However, I would like to add that it’s rather silly to expect us to come up with original arguments, especially given that you’re just as guilty of recycling talking points. Nothing in this conversation is new, so it’s natural that we’re all going to resort to arguments much older than ourselves. We may stumble upon a less common way to phrase one of those arguments, but if any of usexpects to hit upon the truth, surely we will not be blazing new trails, unless you can say for certain that the truth is something no one yet knows.

    As to Milton and the serpent, John wrote in his Revelation, “The great dragon was hurled down — that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.” Why do you think John called Satan “that ancient serpent”?

    Finally, I think a lot of your questions are discussed quite well in the first eight chapters of Romans. Maybe have another look at those, since I think Paul’s a better writer than I am.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Michael the little boot, I must admit that I find blog comments are not well suited for your questions, if only because they are long, with many subquestions. It’s not that I don’t think they’re good questions, but I have a hard time remembering the whole thread when it takes up so many screens (at this point) on my computer. Much preferred to discuss it over a beer, but unless you live in Portland, that won’t likely happen.

    Your main question, to boil it down to a word, seems to be “why?” Fair enough. But, and this isn’t something I really relish saying, I don’t think “why?” is always the best question. For one thing, it seeks intent, but fails to address what is, intent or no. I could as well ask why it was I was born into a life of relative comfort and great blessings, but, whether or not I discover the reason behind it, I won’t change the fact that I was, indeed, born into such a life. Similarly, the question (for example) of “why we have inherited this sin nature” does not address if we inherit a sinful nature. That said, as I read your argument, you seemed to conflate the facts of the matter and the reason behind the facts: “Why is this so? I do not believe this should be so. Therefore, I do not believe this is so.” (Correct me if this is a wholly unfair characterization.) We may very well debate why the things of God are as they are, but first we should discuss if they are as they are. Failing to do so is like starting a class on quantum physics by asking, “Well, class, what do you think: does QED jive with your way of thinking? Do you like it?” Doesn’t really matter, does it?

    Christians, by faith, determine what is and what isn’t (and occasionally WHy it is or isn’t) by reading the Bible. Thus, we can only answer why something is some way if God tells us. So if you ask me why we are forgiven by God, then I can tell you very clearly that it is because of God’s love for us, expressed through Jesus’ atoning death on the cross, and not because of anything we have done. Easy. But if you ask me why there is evil in the world (and I think you have), I can’t really give you a good answer. Maybe people much smarter than me who are really well-versed in their Bible can answer you, but not me. I don’t see a clear-cut answer in the Bible. God tells me there is evil in the world. He tells me I am sinful (thank goodness he also tells me the aforementioned part about complete forgiveness!) and contribute to the evil. He even tells us where evil doesn’t come from — that is, himself. But he doesn’t tell me everything about it. Perhaps he didn’t think it important for me to know. Perhaps he knew I wouldn’t understand if he told me.

    This last bit is, of course, a very frustrating answer, particularly for people like me, who occasionally fancy themselves fairly clever. But then I think about a small child asking his father why the sky is blue. The father could tell the child about electromagnetic radiation, the visible spectrum, light scattering, absorption, wavelenghts, and all that, but it won’t matter a lick to the kid. So the kid will ultimately have to settle for “it just is” until he’s taken some physics courses.

    But even asking such questions tells us about the answer — not necessarily the answer that “just is”, but the answer that we seek. By refusing to take “it just is” as an answer, we demonstrate that we believe the universe is 100% understandable to us, or will at some point be. And in so doing, we rule out anything transcendant from appearing in the answers that we find. By faith, Christians believe things they don’t understand, because by faith we believe in a God we can’t fully understand. And frankly, as a rather small component of the universe — I’m not its creator, but simply a product of its creation — I don’t expect to ever fully understand it.

    Anyhow, maybe I’ve said something useful here, maybe it appears I’ve dodged everything interesting you asked. Hard to say, but I don’t have the attention span to reply point-by-point. Sorry. Maybe I’ll give it a go after I’m done with this reply. But a few short replies before I finish this over-long comment.

    However, I would like to add that it’s rather silly to expect us to come up with original arguments, especially given that you’re just as guilty of recycling talking points. Nothing in this conversation is new, so it’s natural that we’re all going to resort to arguments much older than ourselves. We may stumble upon a less common way to phrase one of those arguments, but if any of usexpects to hit upon the truth, surely we will not be blazing new trails, unless you can say for certain that the truth is something no one yet knows.

    As to Milton and the serpent, John wrote in his Revelation, “The great dragon was hurled down — that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.” Why do you think John called Satan “that ancient serpent”?

    Finally, I think a lot of your questions are discussed quite well in the first eight chapters of Romans. Maybe have another look at those, since I think Paul’s a better writer than I am.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Michael the little boot, suffice to say that your comments have provided for good discussion at my parents’ house this Thanksgiving weekend. I thank you, even if my wife may have wished I’d simply gone to bed.

    But in rereading your many words, I was struck by the complete lack of any mention of Jesus. Why is that? What do you know about Jesus, and how does it play into your understanding of God? This is not a merely academic question, for the answer of who Jesus is lies at the very root of your questions.

    In fact, I think you yourself demonstrated this when you asked, “If God … has borne us into said [sinking] ship, is it not incumbent upon God to save us, and not the other way around as has been stated and restated in this posting?” God did save us! Let me be clear: God saved you! Not because of how much you worshipped him, no no no. Not because you grovelled enough (not that that’s what worship is, though you seem to think so). But because of what Jesus did for us. It’s not our responsibility to save ourselves — it’s not even our ability! Let me be clear again: you don’t have to do anything to be saved from the beloved metaphor of this sinking ship. Jesus did it all.

    That said, I take issue with your protestations of innocence. Michael, let me further extend my clarity by saying that you are sinful. You have made the same choice that Adam and Eve made, and you, too, sinned (that is, you have done wrong). Sin isn’t just something you inherited — you have been an active participant in it. Tell me if I’m wrong, if you’ve never done anything wrong, never lied, never lusted, never thought of yourself highly, never put yourself before others, always acted properly towards God, etc.

    Fortunately, I am able to tell you quite happily that you are ever so wrong when you say that “we have a sin nature we can’t escape, but one for which we must also pay a price.” You see, Jesus paid that price for you already, in full. You don’t have to pay it.

    If I had to summarize your view of God from your comments, it would have him saying, “You’re sinful! You owe me big! Now do these things or go to Hell!” If that were the God I worshipped, I too would be upset, I too would be asking a lot of questions. But that is not the God we Christians confess. My God does tell me I’m sinful, but more importantly he tells me what he did so that my sins are completely washed away, so I don’t have to go to Hell.

    And now, again, a few more responses to less critical points. You asked, “Then why did God create a universe in which sin was a choice? This doesn’t hurt free will.” A curious assertion — what do you think free will is?

    You also noted that “nothing in nature shows that humanity is the ‘crown of God’s creation,’” going on to note that “the only places you find any mention of humanity being the pinnacle of nature … is in the books we’ve written about ourselves.” Of course, the Bible is God’s word, not man’s (yes, I’m aware how naive this sounds if you don’t believe it, and I’m okay with that), and he tells us he made us to rule over the creatures of the earth. But fine, let’s ask nature. Which animal is currently exercising dominion over the rest of the animals and, in fact, the whole earth? The evidence, though rather sad, is that it is us. Ask a dodo bird. But even ignoring that, heck, what does evolution have to say about our position on the “tree”? Which animal is the most “intelligent” or most highly “evolved”?

    You also noted, “The Bible even went so far as to place the earth at the center of the universe!” I’m not familiar with this verse. Can you point me to it?

    Finally, I found your statement of “I don’t put anything at the center of my life. I don’t worship any single thing” curious. What is at the center of your life? Nobody said it had to be just one thing. If I’m honest with myself, here are some of the things I worship: myself, my money, my wife, my friends, my talents, my free time, my computer, and really good beer. Those are the things I all too often center my life around, the things for which I too easily tell God I don’t have time to talk to him because I love them more. Now, you might reasonably reply, “But that’s not worshipping those things — you just spend time with them because you enjoy those things, because they give you happiness!” If you did say that, then you’d probably understand what it is when I worship God.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Michael the little boot, suffice to say that your comments have provided for good discussion at my parents’ house this Thanksgiving weekend. I thank you, even if my wife may have wished I’d simply gone to bed.

    But in rereading your many words, I was struck by the complete lack of any mention of Jesus. Why is that? What do you know about Jesus, and how does it play into your understanding of God? This is not a merely academic question, for the answer of who Jesus is lies at the very root of your questions.

    In fact, I think you yourself demonstrated this when you asked, “If God … has borne us into said [sinking] ship, is it not incumbent upon God to save us, and not the other way around as has been stated and restated in this posting?” God did save us! Let me be clear: God saved you! Not because of how much you worshipped him, no no no. Not because you grovelled enough (not that that’s what worship is, though you seem to think so). But because of what Jesus did for us. It’s not our responsibility to save ourselves — it’s not even our ability! Let me be clear again: you don’t have to do anything to be saved from the beloved metaphor of this sinking ship. Jesus did it all.

    That said, I take issue with your protestations of innocence. Michael, let me further extend my clarity by saying that you are sinful. You have made the same choice that Adam and Eve made, and you, too, sinned (that is, you have done wrong). Sin isn’t just something you inherited — you have been an active participant in it. Tell me if I’m wrong, if you’ve never done anything wrong, never lied, never lusted, never thought of yourself highly, never put yourself before others, always acted properly towards God, etc.

    Fortunately, I am able to tell you quite happily that you are ever so wrong when you say that “we have a sin nature we can’t escape, but one for which we must also pay a price.” You see, Jesus paid that price for you already, in full. You don’t have to pay it.

    If I had to summarize your view of God from your comments, it would have him saying, “You’re sinful! You owe me big! Now do these things or go to Hell!” If that were the God I worshipped, I too would be upset, I too would be asking a lot of questions. But that is not the God we Christians confess. My God does tell me I’m sinful, but more importantly he tells me what he did so that my sins are completely washed away, so I don’t have to go to Hell.

    And now, again, a few more responses to less critical points. You asked, “Then why did God create a universe in which sin was a choice? This doesn’t hurt free will.” A curious assertion — what do you think free will is?

    You also noted that “nothing in nature shows that humanity is the ‘crown of God’s creation,’” going on to note that “the only places you find any mention of humanity being the pinnacle of nature … is in the books we’ve written about ourselves.” Of course, the Bible is God’s word, not man’s (yes, I’m aware how naive this sounds if you don’t believe it, and I’m okay with that), and he tells us he made us to rule over the creatures of the earth. But fine, let’s ask nature. Which animal is currently exercising dominion over the rest of the animals and, in fact, the whole earth? The evidence, though rather sad, is that it is us. Ask a dodo bird. But even ignoring that, heck, what does evolution have to say about our position on the “tree”? Which animal is the most “intelligent” or most highly “evolved”?

    You also noted, “The Bible even went so far as to place the earth at the center of the universe!” I’m not familiar with this verse. Can you point me to it?

    Finally, I found your statement of “I don’t put anything at the center of my life. I don’t worship any single thing” curious. What is at the center of your life? Nobody said it had to be just one thing. If I’m honest with myself, here are some of the things I worship: myself, my money, my wife, my friends, my talents, my free time, my computer, and really good beer. Those are the things I all too often center my life around, the things for which I too easily tell God I don’t have time to talk to him because I love them more. Now, you might reasonably reply, “But that’s not worshipping those things — you just spend time with them because you enjoy those things, because they give you happiness!” If you did say that, then you’d probably understand what it is when I worship God.

  • Michael the little boot

    So much to say. Want to keep it short. So rather than go by theme, I’ll try responding by person.

    Frank, my context is, as I said, mostly Christian. Not for the last ten years, but all of the years I can remember before that. When I was three years old my parents became Christians. My being a part of the religion itself ended when I was twenty-one. Almost twenty years.

    The God I’m talking about isn’t really a God at all. In fact, I’m just positing the God I feel is represented in the Christian idea of original sin and redemption.

    You haven’t really talked past me, as I perceive it anyway. I just lived in the church for a long time and did see things from an inside perspective. I totally accepted it. Then I learned other things which made me shift my point of view. It continues to shift constantly, slowly, as I learn new things and have to revise what I think. As I said in an earlier post, I don’t know much. I’m constantly trying to learn so that I can give my mind more accurate info with which to make sense of the world. But none of the info I have is perfect, or even very good. Some of it is more well-researched, rigorous, and, (once again) in my view, honest than others.

    To put it obviously: I don’t accept anything very easily, not out of hostility, but out of curiosity. I just want to explore as much of it as I can before I say what I think about it. And even then, it’s just what I think. Which means it’s probably wrong, by virtue of the fact that I’m that molecule on the speck of dust on the wing of a flea in the vast (possible) multiverse, or whatever they’re calling it these days. But I love to discuss and learn, so on I go.

    I would equally love to hear your carefully parsed answer. I find your perspective interesting. And, since I’m new to these pages, I am curious as to WHY you are not outside like me.

    (An aside: beside the fact that I am beginning to get an inkling that this post is going to be longer than I thought, I’d like to digress for a sec. My father, as I said, is Jewish. He and his family don’t talk about their personal beliefs when it comes to details about religion or God. Whether one changes beliefs or not, one is always welcome in the temple and the home. I found this to be different with the Christian religion. Once my views changed, I was out. The “family” I had known and loved for many years, my friends and mentors, completely stopped talking to me, stopped hanging out or even stopping by. All of the relationships, in fact, ended. Interesting.)

    allen, the reason I said you avoided my question is that it has very little to do with worship or any definitions of worship. It has to do with why we have to do anything so that God will save us from something we didn’t cause ourselves to do. If Adam sinned, and we inherited our sin nature from him, then the very fact that we sin has nothing to do with our choice. And God supposedly gave us the choice to sin so that we could choose him. But if we can’t help our sinning, it is unfair to make us do anything to be released from it that makes no sense to us to do.

    Of course, it makes sense to you, and to most everyone here. Everyone we’ve heard from, anyway. What I’m talking about is people like me. I am honestly seeking whatever there is to seek, and I’m doing it in the way that makes sense to me. God supposedly made me the way I am, and I’m doing what makes sense as that person. That is belittled by people like Siems who say I’m not listening. The only way to explain how a person like me can possibly be dishonest or obstinate is to say unqualified things like “you are not listening.” I believe that if God made me, God made me as I am, and if I take heart and strike out as I will God will be with me on my journey.

    Worship, though, is ubiquitous throughout human history only if you count the last few thousand years of it. Science has uncovered many intriguing ideas that human history may extend very far into the distant past of this planet that might be 4 billion years old. But I’m guessing we disagree on this point as well. Perhaps not?

    So please, if you’d like, answer this question, and I won’t accuse you of avoiding me: what did we do to deserve being saddled with a sin nature just because one of our ancestors made a horrible choice?

    Oh, and I don’t think I ever said the creation should be worshiped. I just don’t think the creator should be worshiped. I don’t think anything should be, except in the sense of trusting others, which is my twisting of Frank’s words. But I understand why people do think the creator should be worshiped. I just disagree.

    Mr. Siems, I hope you read this, even though you’ve signed off. I don’t think I said “if” gives anyone substance, nor that my opinion is absolute. My opinion is simply mine, as well-reasoned and researched as I can manage–and I do include experiential research as a part of that. And, as I stated before, I don’t need answers. If I don’t understand something, I research it. If I find nothing, or if I’m too stupid or unqualified to understand it finally, I accept that I don’t know. And I don’t invent or accept reasons to believe what I want to believe without evidence. I am finite and need not know more than I can. After all, learning’s just a hobby for me, mostly.

    Now, as to the king or judge who would bow to an “if” or an ” I think,” I would never expect it. They are, of course, the purveyors of their laws and must rule as though these edicts trump personal opinion. This illustrates another of my points. If God is like these humans, God is not transcendent or just or even very good.

    And this brings us back to “if,” which is a huge part of my life BECAUSE I am finite. Almost all of the entirety of knowledge that may be in this place that goes on for what seems like eternity is unknown to humanity, and a portion much like half a percent of a grain of sand to the sand on all the beaches in the world of human knowledge is known to me. So I accept “if,” and in fact, base my life on it. Uncertainty. I like how it works, because people don’t know how to take it when you say it. Rather than “I try to be humble” which is obviously improbable and disingenuous, I say “I try to be uncertain.” Which flies in the face of much of modern life.

    And in the church we’re taught to be certain, right? I mean, you have answers for everything that I’ve said. Some of them have obviously been somewhat researched, but I question your conclusions, as you anticipated I would. My biggest problem is that you’ve attacked me rather than answer my question. You say it’s because you don’t want me to face judgment without the saving knowledge of Christ. But it just feels like Tough Love. Now, I definitely think love can be tough, but Tough Love is usually just a smokescreen for beating someone up. In my experience. And in the name of positivity, altruism and true religion, you lambaste my belief system, when all I’ve done is question yours.

    I’ve spent my life reading the Bible from the time I COULD read. I don’t believe I’ve ever taken a pot-shot at it. I’ve never heard anything you say about the JEDP theory being discredited. Could you link me to that info, or let me know where it’s published so I could take a look at it? I’m sure I have some professors from college who’d like to know about it, as well.

    (Could you provide links to the crack baby stuff, too? The only studies I know of that sound like what you’re talking about are the Reagan studies and the studies sited by the Just Say No campaign in the eighties, all of which have widely been discredited. I’ll see if I can find links to that for you.)

    Now, the next part is the kicker. I have to quote it. Apologies for length, but context is king:

    “When the Holy Scriptures (the Bible) are read according to the clearly stated context of their writing, the presumed discrepancies are observed as consistent with that context and not discrepancies at all. But this can only be observed by someone who approaches the Scriptures from the perspective in which they declare that they are written. St. Paul declares that perspective in absolute terms in 1 Corinthians 2:2. Moses records it directly from the mouth of God in Genesis 3:15. And yes, according to these Scriptures, the God of the Bible who walked with Adam and Woman (that is the translation of her actual name given to her by Adam in Gen. 2:23 until Genesis 3:20), this God has a mouth, and hands, and eyes and a body. This God/Man showed Himself throughout the Old Testament at various times, but ultimately appeared through the conception in Mary. Until the conception in Mary, He also appeared in other physical forms such as a Rock that gave water, Manna from heaven, a pillar of fire and cloud. But after the Seed was delivered into the world, He has continued as the Son of Man.

    The point is that when this is observed as the theme of the Scriptures, even as they themselves declare, everything fits perfectly.”

    Exactly. When one looks at this book and only this book–and only this book in THIS CERTAIN WAY–one can see what you’re talking about. The problem with this is that every argument afterward becomes self-referential. Your belief in Jesus Christ and his father is the same as my uncertain “if,” in that it provides substance only for the person looking to it for substance. Your beliefs in Christianity are your opinions. You say you base it on a greater authority by claiming God authored the Bible, but that is also your opinion. If it is not, if it has any real evidence to back it up, please don’t sign off. Please post it here. If you do, I guarantee it will only be days until this is the most widely read blog on the planet.

    NewChristian, thank you so much. I think that, for the most part, this discussion has been positive. But I will choose to believe that what you said had mostly to do with one or two (or just one) person(s) who in my opinion has taken the conversation in an inappropriate direction. I won’t, however, be taking your advice. I’m the OldChristian. It’s my tradition, because you can’t escape it. I’m not allowed to participate in it as a nonbeliever. I miss that. Wish I could. But I don’t believe. Appreciate the thoughts, though.

    tODD, alas, I live in California. So while a beer isn’t out of the question (and a good excuse to visit Portland), it probably won’t happen.

    I don’t think my question misses what “is,” although I do agree that I don’t get at “if we have a sin nature.” I’m not trying to ask that question. I don’t believe it to be germane to the discussion. My question is, once again: if we have a sin nature we ourselves did nothing to inherit but to be born, how are we to blame for sinning? Why will I go to hell if I, in my sin nature, sin, and do not acknowledge Jesus’ death on the cross as my salvation? I mean, if he saved me, why do I need to acknowledge it in order for it to be a reality? It still sounds like I’m stroking the Divine Ego when I do that.

    It’s like a man who has a great debt. He goes to the bank one day to try to talk to the manager about an extension on his delay of payment. But when he arrives, he finds the debt has been paid! He refuses to accept it. Every day for the rest of his life he walks to the bank to try and pay a little on the loan but is turned away. Does his refusal to accept this repayment on the part of his unknown benefactor change the circumstances? No. He is free of his debt.

    Now, if this walking to the bank every day is hell, then God is just mean. Why not just tell this person–who is a grown adult, you know, rather than the child you said God treats us as–in no uncertain terms, that the debt is paid? Why hide it in a book written so long ago that it’s meaning and context has been lost to history, so as to make it nigh unintelligible, and then make finding that one thing the most important thing of all?

    This is especially troubling in light of the fact that no majority in the world believes in one religion. So every religious person is running around thinking they are right and everyone else is wrong. And, even though it’s pompous to say the devil led them astray, that’s what people say. So now, not only do we inherit a sin nature through no fault of our own, but the devil tempts us, too? The deck is certainly stacked against a bunch of people who are basically just along for the ride. We carry a lot of responsibility in the matter–to which we were not privy–that is the defining business of our lives.

    I’m not saying that 100% of the universe is knowable, but I’m not saying we should assume it is unknowable and forget it. I like exploration. It’s slow and interesting. It can be dangerous. But mostly it’s a curiosity, a question, and it becomes other curiosities and questions. Sometimes people come to hard and fast conclusions based on one static way of looking at things at one moment in a succession of them. I don’t think that’s necessary, or interesting, or a whole lot of fun. And it usually ends up being shown to have been at least a little, if not wildly, inaccurate, because it was only working with partial evidence. And that may be all we have, but it may not. I say let’s keep exploring and find out if we can.

    I find it hard to understand why you believe a God who tells you that you add to the evil in the universe, that he is not evil, and that he can save you without asking for proof. Those are some major claims. I mean, first he has to prove what sin and evil even are, and then he has to prove how you are a part of them. But I don’t see where he’s done that for you. You only have partial understanding of these things he supposedly understand fully. He tells you he has your best interest at heart and you believe him, even though he is also telling you that all the instincts he gave you are wrong and that anything you can find out about the world on your own is untrue. He doesn’t sound trustworthy to me. And these are your words, not mine.

    I don’t think it’s silly to expect some originality. Everything is recycled into something new. The stuff of our universe, so far as we know, everything of which it is composed, has existed as long as the universe has existed. These ideas are not new completely, but one can add to them. I don’t actually think you have heard everything I’ve said before exactly as I’ve said it. I think it has a bit of my spin. Not 100% original, but mine.

    I’ve asked the question to others that I’ve asked here to you, and I’ve gotten the same answers. I’ve gotten the appeal to humanity’s sin nature. And the problem with that is it’s precisely what I’ve asked you not to do. Because it’s the snake that eats its’ tail. I’m asking what we did to deserve all of this. And I’m being told what Adam did. Okaaay. What did I do, again? I sinned? Hmmmm. But didn’t I do that because I inherited a sin nature from Adam? Which means I really had no say in acquiring it, and no ability to refuse compliance with the actions it implies. But it’s my fault? Uh…what? Oh, someone paid the price for it? So I don’t have to worry? Whew. That’s a relief. Oh, but I have to do what? Believe a bunch of things that in my opinion strain credulity? Wait. What did I do to deserve this again?

    That’s how it sounds to me. Circular reasoning. So all I can hope for is that Frank is parsing away and coming up with something interesting. I’d just like to hear something new. That’s the thing: proponents of creationism or ID or whatever say that the human brain is so complex, only God could have designed it. Then they turn around and refuse to trust their own brains. Interesting.

    (Aside: Yeah, Milton had biblical reasons for calling the serpent Satan, if you read the Bible as a first and second testament. But as a person of Jewish descent, I must protest. The Hebrews did not write about this. To them, it was a serpent. The creation story, read from a Jewish perspective, is very, very different. Same words, though.)

    As far as what I know about Jesus, it is limited to the things written about him, since I don’t believe a personal relationship to be possible. So I don’t mention him in talking about God because, once again, I don’t think it’s appropriate. I’m asking a question specifically about God. If your answer includes Jesus, that’s fine. I’m not looking for anything specific, as long as I’ve never heard it before.

    I do think you’ve characterized me unfairly. I think I would rephrase your series of questions: “Why is this so? I do not see evidence that this should be so. I will try to find it…After searching, I have not found evidence that this is so. Therefore, I do not believe this is so.” To me that series is entirely reasonable. I am not a scientist, but I enjoy trying to use the scientific method when I can. So I strive to constantly retest my own theories in an attempt to keep them as accurate as possible, to allow them to reflect what I have learned. Sometimes that means I must radically revise them all.

    I haven’t made the same choice as Adam and Eve. I am not so stringent as you. I don’t believe in sin. As I said before, I am horrible at times. Yes, I make plenty of mistakes. I can be a jerk. I am all kinds of dark, nasty things, like most other people. I can also be kind, friendly. I don’t see any of these things as opposing any others, but areas along a continuum that is one.

    It’s like hot and cold. Many people say that there is no such thing as cold, because cold is the absence of heat. Others say that’s ridiculous. Of course cold exists. It snows, right? Actually, neither are correct. What you actually have is a spectrum of movement. At one end, when things are moving in an extremely quick way, we call that hot. At the other, when they move not at all, we call that cold. But they are not things. They are things moving.

    Or take color, for example. Black is saturated color, white is unsaturated. In between are all the other colors we know. But they are only separated by our minds. They are, in fact, different states of one thing. A spectrum.

    And some quick responses to yours:

    “You asked, ‘Then why did God create a universe in which sin was a choice? This doesn’t hurt free will.’ A curious assertion — what do you think free will is?”

    You obviously missed my point, because you omitted my next statement, which would have made the answer to your question obvious. Free will is having the freedom to choose from those choices that are available to you. I am 5’5″. I cannot be taller than that in a natural way. I cannot choose to be taller unless I do something synthetic. Being naturally taller is not a choice available to me. If I love a person and they do not love me, I can still choose to love them, but I cannot choose for them to love me. The lack of these choices does not take away my free choice. It only limits it. But if you think we have unlimited free choice, well, my friend, it is not the first time we’ve disagreed.

    Now to your sad misreading of evolution. We are not the most “highly evolved” species. This is an evolutionary misnomer. There is no such thing. Evolution is not deliberate. It is an ongoing process that is not heading in any direction. In fact, it is my opinion that your misreading of evolution is just as much to blame for humanity’s dominance and destruction of our planet as the view that we have been given dominion by God over this world. It is responsible for social Darwinism and the like. The Nazis and their ilk. But a true reading of Darwin shows that “endless forms most beautiful” can spring from the process of natural selection without one being better than the next. Funny that I, a person who finds Darwin’s idea interesting and compelling, should express this egalitarian view of what you would call God’s creation. You’d think that, since I have no religion to guide my morals, I’d be corrupt and try to become the fittest so that I could survive.

    Here’s a passage in the Bible that puts the sun revolving around the earth, and the firmament (the ancient idea that the sky was a dome which held the sun and moon, then the dome of stars above that, then the dome of planets) above, placing the earth at the center of all the Israelites believed existed:

    Psalm 19

    1The heavens are telling the glory of God;
    and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
    2Day to day pours forth speech,
    and night to night declares knowledge.
    3There is no speech, nor are there words;
    their voice is not heard;
    4yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
    and their words to the end of the world.

    In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,
    5which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,
    and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
    6Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
    and its circuit to the end of them;
    and nothing is hidden from its heat.

    Funny thing about this, is what comes next. I guess ironic is more like it:

    7The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul;
    the decrees of the Lord are sure,
    making wise the simple;
    8the precepts of the Lord are right,
    rejoicing the heart;
    the commandment of the Lord is clear,
    enlightening the eyes;

    Except that the Lord just said the sun comes up on one side of the heavens and goes down on the other. Which is clearly not the case. I mean, we still talk about the sun rising and setting, but who believes it actually does that? We are the third planet from a star which we orbit. It does not orbit us.

    And I don’t put anything at the center of my life. Things do come and dance in the center from time to time, but they don’t stay. My center is formless. I try not to hold tightly to the things I think I know, because I am wrong about any number of things right now, let alone another moment.

    And I don’t presume to know why you do what you do, tODD. I just try to do what I do.

  • Michael the little boot

    So much to say. Want to keep it short. So rather than go by theme, I’ll try responding by person.

    Frank, my context is, as I said, mostly Christian. Not for the last ten years, but all of the years I can remember before that. When I was three years old my parents became Christians. My being a part of the religion itself ended when I was twenty-one. Almost twenty years.

    The God I’m talking about isn’t really a God at all. In fact, I’m just positing the God I feel is represented in the Christian idea of original sin and redemption.

    You haven’t really talked past me, as I perceive it anyway. I just lived in the church for a long time and did see things from an inside perspective. I totally accepted it. Then I learned other things which made me shift my point of view. It continues to shift constantly, slowly, as I learn new things and have to revise what I think. As I said in an earlier post, I don’t know much. I’m constantly trying to learn so that I can give my mind more accurate info with which to make sense of the world. But none of the info I have is perfect, or even very good. Some of it is more well-researched, rigorous, and, (once again) in my view, honest than others.

    To put it obviously: I don’t accept anything very easily, not out of hostility, but out of curiosity. I just want to explore as much of it as I can before I say what I think about it. And even then, it’s just what I think. Which means it’s probably wrong, by virtue of the fact that I’m that molecule on the speck of dust on the wing of a flea in the vast (possible) multiverse, or whatever they’re calling it these days. But I love to discuss and learn, so on I go.

    I would equally love to hear your carefully parsed answer. I find your perspective interesting. And, since I’m new to these pages, I am curious as to WHY you are not outside like me.

    (An aside: beside the fact that I am beginning to get an inkling that this post is going to be longer than I thought, I’d like to digress for a sec. My father, as I said, is Jewish. He and his family don’t talk about their personal beliefs when it comes to details about religion or God. Whether one changes beliefs or not, one is always welcome in the temple and the home. I found this to be different with the Christian religion. Once my views changed, I was out. The “family” I had known and loved for many years, my friends and mentors, completely stopped talking to me, stopped hanging out or even stopping by. All of the relationships, in fact, ended. Interesting.)

    allen, the reason I said you avoided my question is that it has very little to do with worship or any definitions of worship. It has to do with why we have to do anything so that God will save us from something we didn’t cause ourselves to do. If Adam sinned, and we inherited our sin nature from him, then the very fact that we sin has nothing to do with our choice. And God supposedly gave us the choice to sin so that we could choose him. But if we can’t help our sinning, it is unfair to make us do anything to be released from it that makes no sense to us to do.

    Of course, it makes sense to you, and to most everyone here. Everyone we’ve heard from, anyway. What I’m talking about is people like me. I am honestly seeking whatever there is to seek, and I’m doing it in the way that makes sense to me. God supposedly made me the way I am, and I’m doing what makes sense as that person. That is belittled by people like Siems who say I’m not listening. The only way to explain how a person like me can possibly be dishonest or obstinate is to say unqualified things like “you are not listening.” I believe that if God made me, God made me as I am, and if I take heart and strike out as I will God will be with me on my journey.

    Worship, though, is ubiquitous throughout human history only if you count the last few thousand years of it. Science has uncovered many intriguing ideas that human history may extend very far into the distant past of this planet that might be 4 billion years old. But I’m guessing we disagree on this point as well. Perhaps not?

    So please, if you’d like, answer this question, and I won’t accuse you of avoiding me: what did we do to deserve being saddled with a sin nature just because one of our ancestors made a horrible choice?

    Oh, and I don’t think I ever said the creation should be worshiped. I just don’t think the creator should be worshiped. I don’t think anything should be, except in the sense of trusting others, which is my twisting of Frank’s words. But I understand why people do think the creator should be worshiped. I just disagree.

    Mr. Siems, I hope you read this, even though you’ve signed off. I don’t think I said “if” gives anyone substance, nor that my opinion is absolute. My opinion is simply mine, as well-reasoned and researched as I can manage–and I do include experiential research as a part of that. And, as I stated before, I don’t need answers. If I don’t understand something, I research it. If I find nothing, or if I’m too stupid or unqualified to understand it finally, I accept that I don’t know. And I don’t invent or accept reasons to believe what I want to believe without evidence. I am finite and need not know more than I can. After all, learning’s just a hobby for me, mostly.

    Now, as to the king or judge who would bow to an “if” or an ” I think,” I would never expect it. They are, of course, the purveyors of their laws and must rule as though these edicts trump personal opinion. This illustrates another of my points. If God is like these humans, God is not transcendent or just or even very good.

    And this brings us back to “if,” which is a huge part of my life BECAUSE I am finite. Almost all of the entirety of knowledge that may be in this place that goes on for what seems like eternity is unknown to humanity, and a portion much like half a percent of a grain of sand to the sand on all the beaches in the world of human knowledge is known to me. So I accept “if,” and in fact, base my life on it. Uncertainty. I like how it works, because people don’t know how to take it when you say it. Rather than “I try to be humble” which is obviously improbable and disingenuous, I say “I try to be uncertain.” Which flies in the face of much of modern life.

    And in the church we’re taught to be certain, right? I mean, you have answers for everything that I’ve said. Some of them have obviously been somewhat researched, but I question your conclusions, as you anticipated I would. My biggest problem is that you’ve attacked me rather than answer my question. You say it’s because you don’t want me to face judgment without the saving knowledge of Christ. But it just feels like Tough Love. Now, I definitely think love can be tough, but Tough Love is usually just a smokescreen for beating someone up. In my experience. And in the name of positivity, altruism and true religion, you lambaste my belief system, when all I’ve done is question yours.

    I’ve spent my life reading the Bible from the time I COULD read. I don’t believe I’ve ever taken a pot-shot at it. I’ve never heard anything you say about the JEDP theory being discredited. Could you link me to that info, or let me know where it’s published so I could take a look at it? I’m sure I have some professors from college who’d like to know about it, as well.

    (Could you provide links to the crack baby stuff, too? The only studies I know of that sound like what you’re talking about are the Reagan studies and the studies sited by the Just Say No campaign in the eighties, all of which have widely been discredited. I’ll see if I can find links to that for you.)

    Now, the next part is the kicker. I have to quote it. Apologies for length, but context is king:

    “When the Holy Scriptures (the Bible) are read according to the clearly stated context of their writing, the presumed discrepancies are observed as consistent with that context and not discrepancies at all. But this can only be observed by someone who approaches the Scriptures from the perspective in which they declare that they are written. St. Paul declares that perspective in absolute terms in 1 Corinthians 2:2. Moses records it directly from the mouth of God in Genesis 3:15. And yes, according to these Scriptures, the God of the Bible who walked with Adam and Woman (that is the translation of her actual name given to her by Adam in Gen. 2:23 until Genesis 3:20), this God has a mouth, and hands, and eyes and a body. This God/Man showed Himself throughout the Old Testament at various times, but ultimately appeared through the conception in Mary. Until the conception in Mary, He also appeared in other physical forms such as a Rock that gave water, Manna from heaven, a pillar of fire and cloud. But after the Seed was delivered into the world, He has continued as the Son of Man.

    The point is that when this is observed as the theme of the Scriptures, even as they themselves declare, everything fits perfectly.”

    Exactly. When one looks at this book and only this book–and only this book in THIS CERTAIN WAY–one can see what you’re talking about. The problem with this is that every argument afterward becomes self-referential. Your belief in Jesus Christ and his father is the same as my uncertain “if,” in that it provides substance only for the person looking to it for substance. Your beliefs in Christianity are your opinions. You say you base it on a greater authority by claiming God authored the Bible, but that is also your opinion. If it is not, if it has any real evidence to back it up, please don’t sign off. Please post it here. If you do, I guarantee it will only be days until this is the most widely read blog on the planet.

    NewChristian, thank you so much. I think that, for the most part, this discussion has been positive. But I will choose to believe that what you said had mostly to do with one or two (or just one) person(s) who in my opinion has taken the conversation in an inappropriate direction. I won’t, however, be taking your advice. I’m the OldChristian. It’s my tradition, because you can’t escape it. I’m not allowed to participate in it as a nonbeliever. I miss that. Wish I could. But I don’t believe. Appreciate the thoughts, though.

    tODD, alas, I live in California. So while a beer isn’t out of the question (and a good excuse to visit Portland), it probably won’t happen.

    I don’t think my question misses what “is,” although I do agree that I don’t get at “if we have a sin nature.” I’m not trying to ask that question. I don’t believe it to be germane to the discussion. My question is, once again: if we have a sin nature we ourselves did nothing to inherit but to be born, how are we to blame for sinning? Why will I go to hell if I, in my sin nature, sin, and do not acknowledge Jesus’ death on the cross as my salvation? I mean, if he saved me, why do I need to acknowledge it in order for it to be a reality? It still sounds like I’m stroking the Divine Ego when I do that.

    It’s like a man who has a great debt. He goes to the bank one day to try to talk to the manager about an extension on his delay of payment. But when he arrives, he finds the debt has been paid! He refuses to accept it. Every day for the rest of his life he walks to the bank to try and pay a little on the loan but is turned away. Does his refusal to accept this repayment on the part of his unknown benefactor change the circumstances? No. He is free of his debt.

    Now, if this walking to the bank every day is hell, then God is just mean. Why not just tell this person–who is a grown adult, you know, rather than the child you said God treats us as–in no uncertain terms, that the debt is paid? Why hide it in a book written so long ago that it’s meaning and context has been lost to history, so as to make it nigh unintelligible, and then make finding that one thing the most important thing of all?

    This is especially troubling in light of the fact that no majority in the world believes in one religion. So every religious person is running around thinking they are right and everyone else is wrong. And, even though it’s pompous to say the devil led them astray, that’s what people say. So now, not only do we inherit a sin nature through no fault of our own, but the devil tempts us, too? The deck is certainly stacked against a bunch of people who are basically just along for the ride. We carry a lot of responsibility in the matter–to which we were not privy–that is the defining business of our lives.

    I’m not saying that 100% of the universe is knowable, but I’m not saying we should assume it is unknowable and forget it. I like exploration. It’s slow and interesting. It can be dangerous. But mostly it’s a curiosity, a question, and it becomes other curiosities and questions. Sometimes people come to hard and fast conclusions based on one static way of looking at things at one moment in a succession of them. I don’t think that’s necessary, or interesting, or a whole lot of fun. And it usually ends up being shown to have been at least a little, if not wildly, inaccurate, because it was only working with partial evidence. And that may be all we have, but it may not. I say let’s keep exploring and find out if we can.

    I find it hard to understand why you believe a God who tells you that you add to the evil in the universe, that he is not evil, and that he can save you without asking for proof. Those are some major claims. I mean, first he has to prove what sin and evil even are, and then he has to prove how you are a part of them. But I don’t see where he’s done that for you. You only have partial understanding of these things he supposedly understand fully. He tells you he has your best interest at heart and you believe him, even though he is also telling you that all the instincts he gave you are wrong and that anything you can find out about the world on your own is untrue. He doesn’t sound trustworthy to me. And these are your words, not mine.

    I don’t think it’s silly to expect some originality. Everything is recycled into something new. The stuff of our universe, so far as we know, everything of which it is composed, has existed as long as the universe has existed. These ideas are not new completely, but one can add to them. I don’t actually think you have heard everything I’ve said before exactly as I’ve said it. I think it has a bit of my spin. Not 100% original, but mine.

    I’ve asked the question to others that I’ve asked here to you, and I’ve gotten the same answers. I’ve gotten the appeal to humanity’s sin nature. And the problem with that is it’s precisely what I’ve asked you not to do. Because it’s the snake that eats its’ tail. I’m asking what we did to deserve all of this. And I’m being told what Adam did. Okaaay. What did I do, again? I sinned? Hmmmm. But didn’t I do that because I inherited a sin nature from Adam? Which means I really had no say in acquiring it, and no ability to refuse compliance with the actions it implies. But it’s my fault? Uh…what? Oh, someone paid the price for it? So I don’t have to worry? Whew. That’s a relief. Oh, but I have to do what? Believe a bunch of things that in my opinion strain credulity? Wait. What did I do to deserve this again?

    That’s how it sounds to me. Circular reasoning. So all I can hope for is that Frank is parsing away and coming up with something interesting. I’d just like to hear something new. That’s the thing: proponents of creationism or ID or whatever say that the human brain is so complex, only God could have designed it. Then they turn around and refuse to trust their own brains. Interesting.

    (Aside: Yeah, Milton had biblical reasons for calling the serpent Satan, if you read the Bible as a first and second testament. But as a person of Jewish descent, I must protest. The Hebrews did not write about this. To them, it was a serpent. The creation story, read from a Jewish perspective, is very, very different. Same words, though.)

    As far as what I know about Jesus, it is limited to the things written about him, since I don’t believe a personal relationship to be possible. So I don’t mention him in talking about God because, once again, I don’t think it’s appropriate. I’m asking a question specifically about God. If your answer includes Jesus, that’s fine. I’m not looking for anything specific, as long as I’ve never heard it before.

    I do think you’ve characterized me unfairly. I think I would rephrase your series of questions: “Why is this so? I do not see evidence that this should be so. I will try to find it…After searching, I have not found evidence that this is so. Therefore, I do not believe this is so.” To me that series is entirely reasonable. I am not a scientist, but I enjoy trying to use the scientific method when I can. So I strive to constantly retest my own theories in an attempt to keep them as accurate as possible, to allow them to reflect what I have learned. Sometimes that means I must radically revise them all.

    I haven’t made the same choice as Adam and Eve. I am not so stringent as you. I don’t believe in sin. As I said before, I am horrible at times. Yes, I make plenty of mistakes. I can be a jerk. I am all kinds of dark, nasty things, like most other people. I can also be kind, friendly. I don’t see any of these things as opposing any others, but areas along a continuum that is one.

    It’s like hot and cold. Many people say that there is no such thing as cold, because cold is the absence of heat. Others say that’s ridiculous. Of course cold exists. It snows, right? Actually, neither are correct. What you actually have is a spectrum of movement. At one end, when things are moving in an extremely quick way, we call that hot. At the other, when they move not at all, we call that cold. But they are not things. They are things moving.

    Or take color, for example. Black is saturated color, white is unsaturated. In between are all the other colors we know. But they are only separated by our minds. They are, in fact, different states of one thing. A spectrum.

    And some quick responses to yours:

    “You asked, ‘Then why did God create a universe in which sin was a choice? This doesn’t hurt free will.’ A curious assertion — what do you think free will is?”

    You obviously missed my point, because you omitted my next statement, which would have made the answer to your question obvious. Free will is having the freedom to choose from those choices that are available to you. I am 5’5″. I cannot be taller than that in a natural way. I cannot choose to be taller unless I do something synthetic. Being naturally taller is not a choice available to me. If I love a person and they do not love me, I can still choose to love them, but I cannot choose for them to love me. The lack of these choices does not take away my free choice. It only limits it. But if you think we have unlimited free choice, well, my friend, it is not the first time we’ve disagreed.

    Now to your sad misreading of evolution. We are not the most “highly evolved” species. This is an evolutionary misnomer. There is no such thing. Evolution is not deliberate. It is an ongoing process that is not heading in any direction. In fact, it is my opinion that your misreading of evolution is just as much to blame for humanity’s dominance and destruction of our planet as the view that we have been given dominion by God over this world. It is responsible for social Darwinism and the like. The Nazis and their ilk. But a true reading of Darwin shows that “endless forms most beautiful” can spring from the process of natural selection without one being better than the next. Funny that I, a person who finds Darwin’s idea interesting and compelling, should express this egalitarian view of what you would call God’s creation. You’d think that, since I have no religion to guide my morals, I’d be corrupt and try to become the fittest so that I could survive.

    Here’s a passage in the Bible that puts the sun revolving around the earth, and the firmament (the ancient idea that the sky was a dome which held the sun and moon, then the dome of stars above that, then the dome of planets) above, placing the earth at the center of all the Israelites believed existed:

    Psalm 19

    1The heavens are telling the glory of God;
    and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
    2Day to day pours forth speech,
    and night to night declares knowledge.
    3There is no speech, nor are there words;
    their voice is not heard;
    4yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
    and their words to the end of the world.

    In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,
    5which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,
    and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
    6Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
    and its circuit to the end of them;
    and nothing is hidden from its heat.

    Funny thing about this, is what comes next. I guess ironic is more like it:

    7The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul;
    the decrees of the Lord are sure,
    making wise the simple;
    8the precepts of the Lord are right,
    rejoicing the heart;
    the commandment of the Lord is clear,
    enlightening the eyes;

    Except that the Lord just said the sun comes up on one side of the heavens and goes down on the other. Which is clearly not the case. I mean, we still talk about the sun rising and setting, but who believes it actually does that? We are the third planet from a star which we orbit. It does not orbit us.

    And I don’t put anything at the center of my life. Things do come and dance in the center from time to time, but they don’t stay. My center is formless. I try not to hold tightly to the things I think I know, because I am wrong about any number of things right now, let alone another moment.

    And I don’t presume to know why you do what you do, tODD. I just try to do what I do.

  • fwsonnek

    Todd:

    “But in rereading your many words, I was struck by the complete lack of any mention of Jesus. Why is that? What do you know about Jesus, and how does it play into your understanding of God? This is not a merely academic question, for the answer of who Jesus is lies at the very root of your questions.”

    It is interesting to note how this Jesus is not pervasive nor even the main focus of anyone who responded to Little Michael. I believe that even I failed him here.

    We Lutherans claim not only to be “christ-centered”, but rather ONLY and ALL about Jesus. His life , death and resurrection. As the Augustana orders things: “the Gospel and all it´s articles.”

    In charity, I am sure that most, if not all commentators had the Gospel in the background of their thinking and comments. But that is not where Jesus belongs.

    This was a great opportunity to have a discussion all about Our Lord. I am saddened that I did not rise better to the occasion!

    Thanks for your comments Todd.

    Michael: I hope you give thought to what Todd has written. I believe it has intellectual integrity.

  • fwsonnek

    Todd:

    “But in rereading your many words, I was struck by the complete lack of any mention of Jesus. Why is that? What do you know about Jesus, and how does it play into your understanding of God? This is not a merely academic question, for the answer of who Jesus is lies at the very root of your questions.”

    It is interesting to note how this Jesus is not pervasive nor even the main focus of anyone who responded to Little Michael. I believe that even I failed him here.

    We Lutherans claim not only to be “christ-centered”, but rather ONLY and ALL about Jesus. His life , death and resurrection. As the Augustana orders things: “the Gospel and all it´s articles.”

    In charity, I am sure that most, if not all commentators had the Gospel in the background of their thinking and comments. But that is not where Jesus belongs.

    This was a great opportunity to have a discussion all about Our Lord. I am saddened that I did not rise better to the occasion!

    Thanks for your comments Todd.

    Michael: I hope you give thought to what Todd has written. I believe it has intellectual integrity.

  • fwsonnek

    wow michael:

    I thought **I** was wordy! Lawwdy….. ;)

    But you have cool things to say. I am in Rio De Janeiro. The beer is better here. And we like it as cold as possible. You are welcome to visit any time.

    That´s a serious invitation. and even if you remain a pagan you would be welcome. as long as you enjoy good food and beer and are not easily offended in a good argument about whatever. I am sure you would have fun.

    First:

    I understand your question as being this:

    “IF we are sinful because we inherited original sin from our parents. Then why are we more culpable for this than we would be for say….. being left handed, or albino, or (in my case) gay, or transgender, or 5’5″? Why wouldn´t God just go with the flow. Why is redemption even necessary if God made or allowed the world to be so and allowed us to be born thusly?”

    Let me know if I heard you write, and in my own words, managed to frame your simple question correctly and completely. If I DO understand you correctly I will answer as best as I can.

    I DO feel though that I need to tip my hand more as to where I am coming from Michael. I DO believe that there are great Mysteries and Unknowns in the world. But I also believe that our existence and universe is not only what we see. I also believe that some of that that we do not see Has in fact been revealed and so to some extent is NO mystery, but is evident and no secret at all (as opposed to the mystery cults like the Masons and Gnostics of the 3rd century for who “hidden knowledge” is very important).

    I will promise to work on what you have written once you get back here or email me offline.

    now you have written more. good stuff. I would like to know what your christian tradition is. Christians vary widely in their views, and to know your tradition would allow me to answer those views more directly, even if you personally no longer hold to those views. I hope you can appreciate the usefulness of that.

    I am Lutheran. My personal views are summarized in a public document called the Augsburg Confession (google it!), which was written in 1530. I actually quoted this document when i said that “True worship is trust in Jesus Christ.” So this is not a personally held view. But it reflects a very strange theology. that same view also says that Lutherans, in truth, only have ONE unitary “doctrine” to offer the world. that doctrine is the Life, death and resurrection of one Jesus of Nazareth. Every other “doctrine” has merely a supporting role …. this is what the Augustana means when it says “the Gospel and all it´s articles.” (aside: We Lutherans, unfortunately, due to our history, do best RESPONDING and counterpointing what others say. Too bad. But you got a flavor of that here…)

    Now this document is written in response to the christian church as it existed then and later became the Roman Catholic Church. So it might not be a compelling read without some historical religious knowledge, but it is still a great read. I believe every word of it Michael as being a great understanding of what the bible is all about.

    Every religion I know of makes room for Jesus. Usually as a great moral teacher, or many christians seem to feel his advent was to be an example (e.g.: WWJD, what would Jesus do.) . You will find Lutherans openly hostile, yes hostile, to this view of Jesus. We also take a very very dim view of those thoughts represented in “The Purpose Driven Life” and that “Jaebez” thing.

    If you read the Gospel of Luke and John, we christians (including us Lutherans at times) have ALL done an excellent job of supporting these efforts to make Jesus palatable to the religious and so defang him and turn him into the “family values Jesus”, the republican-personal-responsibility-patriotic-whitebread-antihomo-Jesus”, the “rebel-champion-of-the-poor-bleeding-heart-liberal-jesus”, the “mystical-roll-your-own-new-age-jesus”, the “boy scout jesus”, the “great mohammed-budha-prophet-jesus” and even my favorite “the Jesus-is-satans-brother-and-is-having-sex-with-his-haram-of-wives-get-saved-by-getting-married mormon Jesus”.

    He doesn´t fit any of these at all…so, there being many Jesuses floatin about, I am most curious to know Michael, exactly WHICH Jesus you were raised to believe in. Not what you think of him now (though I would like to know that too..) but the one you were raised with.

    His parables are strange. They seem to lack fairness. People who toil all day get the same pay as ones who show up at the last minute. The son who wishes his father dead to get his cash gets celebrated and is given power of attorney over all his father has, while the faithful son becomes the prodigal one….

    His exhortations to hate father and mother to have a share of his kingdom is anti dr dobson. (this is cool to me as a gay man actually…although I DO love my parents alot)

    His jaded comment that “the poor you will have always” when someone decided to give him an expensive and wastefully extravagant gift seems to fit the very worst stereotype of any republican I know (so much for Jesus being for the poor and oppressed…) .

    He had a reputation for being a “winebibber and glutton” (ie alcoholic and party animal). His first miracle was to make about 400 gallons of (excellent!) alcoholic beverage for a party where everyone (according to the text) was at the very least already well on their way to being drunk.

    So what WOULD Jesus do? I am just not getting the Jesus-as-example-and-great-moral-teacher thang Michael.

    He is described (and claims to be) THE God who created the universe, yet does not appear with angels and trumphets ready to whup some major demon ass like most penticostals would seem to like him to be… he is so ordinary looking that without exception, when he is sought out in a crowd, they need to ask which dude is Jesus, or pay someone to kiss him. Even his townsfolk who know him as a child find him utterly unremarkable. “isn´t this the carpenter´s son” they ask incredulously ( to use your term ;) )…

    Yet Jesus claims to be perfect. How is it possible to be perfect in this world and no one would notice. I find that both odd and fascinating. It challenges my thinking of my own existence and my own categories of good and bad (in the religious AND practical sense) , right and wrong. Not even mother teresa notoriety…. damn.

    He was homeless. he cried over death. he reduced a woman to identifying herself as a dog (not nice!)

    He says (as a Jew, think about this now…) that if whoever does not eat His Flesh and drink His Blood can have no part of him. Say what???! What could he say that would be more offensive or wierd or well… fill in the blank as a Jew.

    He claims that the entire Old Testament was written as a testimony to his person.

    He claims to have existed before Abraham, and claimed to have the power to forgive sins of complete strangers. He claimed the name that was so sacred a Jew could not say it . the “I am” and they quite rightly tried to stone him a few times over that one….

    Does this man have an ego or is the man SERIOUSLY dilusional, or what?!!!!

    I can´t find it in your long post, but you said somewhere , I think , that Jesus is sort of besides the point in what you are talking about.

    I realized that I can´t really address your questions about original sin and our own alleged shortcoming without taking Jesus into account.

    My cards are now all on the table.

    Apart from the strange dude named Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, I have nothing to present to you.

    Most Jesus types like this one would be locked up or on Prozac or maybe something for bipolarism I would think… In fact I am sure you can find some in mental hospítals.

    It gets stranger to me. He claimed that his whole life’s purpose was to come, live a life that embodied the entire cosmos bodily in his very person (don´t ask…) and then to passively allow that life to be taken. He was to be abandoned by God. But he claimed to be THE God (as opposed to a new age-like “we are all god or have god in us…”) So how is that even possible I ask?

    He was to be abandoned by every single person at the end.

    The witnesses of his most important acts were women (you can ponder this through the lense of a jew as well…) and his followers were cowering in locked rooms. and they did not believe anything that happened after his death as being true. after being with him for 3 years.

    Christians believe that the moment of his death is the hinge of human history and existence. Not the fall into sin even. Christians believe that his DEATH was his moment of victory. complete and utter victory. Objective. Historical. True. as in….

    What his death means and accomplished is true for you whether you believe it or not Michael! God doesn´t need your pathetic faith or your hollow repentance. He does, I believe, deserve your trust. But He really doesn´t even need that to make what Jesus did as true for you as it is for me. “God was in christ reconciling the WORLD” I think that phrase includes you. I am sure it includes me. independent of whatever you believe.

    His death…. We christians are told to proclaim his death until he returns.

    We are NOT told to get a Victorious christian life, or to battle to obtain a victory as christians. we believe the victory HAS been won at the moment of his death. God almighty took a chill pill.

    Strange I think. There are still wars and good people doing very very bad things to each other. and yet i believe that God is at peace with all of that now. So call me strange Michael.

    This has something to do with a good God having to also be a just God and somewhere, if there is a God, the problem of evil and the bad things that happen in the world have to be dealt with by God. as in “if there IS a God, then why would he allow…..” Like that….. But then this is another (yet closely related) conversation.

    Michael: I trust in this strange Jesus that is not owned by any church, whose followers are mere object lessons on why He needed to come and be one of us.

    IF you are interested, here is a link to a writing that might give you more insight into why, as a gay man, with a potentially terminal disease to boot, trust Him, and why my favorite mental image of Him, very strangely I think, is Him hanging Dead and executed.

    lemme know.

    http://blog.higherthings.org/wcwirla/article/2941.html

    I don´t believe that THIS Jesus would ever turn anyone away. Including myself. And take note that I am fully accepted here as a brother.

    Billy Graham tells folks at his revivals that “the decision you make today will determine your eternity!” I say to that “bullshit.” What has determined your eternity is what a Jew did 2000 years ago in time and history. Trust that Michael.

    We Lutherans say that you “cannot by your own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ or come to him.” Another strangeness.

    So if you go with Billy Graham then, you are for sure eternally f–ked. (I can´t think of a more accurate word here that is more polite, sorry brothers and sisters!)

    There might be something going on here that is not familiar to you, even though you were raised in a church and know the bible….

    I would ask you to allow your ideas of God and Jesus to die. At least for discussion purposes.

  • fwsonnek

    wow michael:

    I thought **I** was wordy! Lawwdy….. ;)

    But you have cool things to say. I am in Rio De Janeiro. The beer is better here. And we like it as cold as possible. You are welcome to visit any time.

    That´s a serious invitation. and even if you remain a pagan you would be welcome. as long as you enjoy good food and beer and are not easily offended in a good argument about whatever. I am sure you would have fun.

    First:

    I understand your question as being this:

    “IF we are sinful because we inherited original sin from our parents. Then why are we more culpable for this than we would be for say….. being left handed, or albino, or (in my case) gay, or transgender, or 5’5″? Why wouldn´t God just go with the flow. Why is redemption even necessary if God made or allowed the world to be so and allowed us to be born thusly?”

    Let me know if I heard you write, and in my own words, managed to frame your simple question correctly and completely. If I DO understand you correctly I will answer as best as I can.

    I DO feel though that I need to tip my hand more as to where I am coming from Michael. I DO believe that there are great Mysteries and Unknowns in the world. But I also believe that our existence and universe is not only what we see. I also believe that some of that that we do not see Has in fact been revealed and so to some extent is NO mystery, but is evident and no secret at all (as opposed to the mystery cults like the Masons and Gnostics of the 3rd century for who “hidden knowledge” is very important).

    I will promise to work on what you have written once you get back here or email me offline.

    now you have written more. good stuff. I would like to know what your christian tradition is. Christians vary widely in their views, and to know your tradition would allow me to answer those views more directly, even if you personally no longer hold to those views. I hope you can appreciate the usefulness of that.

    I am Lutheran. My personal views are summarized in a public document called the Augsburg Confession (google it!), which was written in 1530. I actually quoted this document when i said that “True worship is trust in Jesus Christ.” So this is not a personally held view. But it reflects a very strange theology. that same view also says that Lutherans, in truth, only have ONE unitary “doctrine” to offer the world. that doctrine is the Life, death and resurrection of one Jesus of Nazareth. Every other “doctrine” has merely a supporting role …. this is what the Augustana means when it says “the Gospel and all it´s articles.” (aside: We Lutherans, unfortunately, due to our history, do best RESPONDING and counterpointing what others say. Too bad. But you got a flavor of that here…)

    Now this document is written in response to the christian church as it existed then and later became the Roman Catholic Church. So it might not be a compelling read without some historical religious knowledge, but it is still a great read. I believe every word of it Michael as being a great understanding of what the bible is all about.

    Every religion I know of makes room for Jesus. Usually as a great moral teacher, or many christians seem to feel his advent was to be an example (e.g.: WWJD, what would Jesus do.) . You will find Lutherans openly hostile, yes hostile, to this view of Jesus. We also take a very very dim view of those thoughts represented in “The Purpose Driven Life” and that “Jaebez” thing.

    If you read the Gospel of Luke and John, we christians (including us Lutherans at times) have ALL done an excellent job of supporting these efforts to make Jesus palatable to the religious and so defang him and turn him into the “family values Jesus”, the republican-personal-responsibility-patriotic-whitebread-antihomo-Jesus”, the “rebel-champion-of-the-poor-bleeding-heart-liberal-jesus”, the “mystical-roll-your-own-new-age-jesus”, the “boy scout jesus”, the “great mohammed-budha-prophet-jesus” and even my favorite “the Jesus-is-satans-brother-and-is-having-sex-with-his-haram-of-wives-get-saved-by-getting-married mormon Jesus”.

    He doesn´t fit any of these at all…so, there being many Jesuses floatin about, I am most curious to know Michael, exactly WHICH Jesus you were raised to believe in. Not what you think of him now (though I would like to know that too..) but the one you were raised with.

    His parables are strange. They seem to lack fairness. People who toil all day get the same pay as ones who show up at the last minute. The son who wishes his father dead to get his cash gets celebrated and is given power of attorney over all his father has, while the faithful son becomes the prodigal one….

    His exhortations to hate father and mother to have a share of his kingdom is anti dr dobson. (this is cool to me as a gay man actually…although I DO love my parents alot)

    His jaded comment that “the poor you will have always” when someone decided to give him an expensive and wastefully extravagant gift seems to fit the very worst stereotype of any republican I know (so much for Jesus being for the poor and oppressed…) .

    He had a reputation for being a “winebibber and glutton” (ie alcoholic and party animal). His first miracle was to make about 400 gallons of (excellent!) alcoholic beverage for a party where everyone (according to the text) was at the very least already well on their way to being drunk.

    So what WOULD Jesus do? I am just not getting the Jesus-as-example-and-great-moral-teacher thang Michael.

    He is described (and claims to be) THE God who created the universe, yet does not appear with angels and trumphets ready to whup some major demon ass like most penticostals would seem to like him to be… he is so ordinary looking that without exception, when he is sought out in a crowd, they need to ask which dude is Jesus, or pay someone to kiss him. Even his townsfolk who know him as a child find him utterly unremarkable. “isn´t this the carpenter´s son” they ask incredulously ( to use your term ;) )…

    Yet Jesus claims to be perfect. How is it possible to be perfect in this world and no one would notice. I find that both odd and fascinating. It challenges my thinking of my own existence and my own categories of good and bad (in the religious AND practical sense) , right and wrong. Not even mother teresa notoriety…. damn.

    He was homeless. he cried over death. he reduced a woman to identifying herself as a dog (not nice!)

    He says (as a Jew, think about this now…) that if whoever does not eat His Flesh and drink His Blood can have no part of him. Say what???! What could he say that would be more offensive or wierd or well… fill in the blank as a Jew.

    He claims that the entire Old Testament was written as a testimony to his person.

    He claims to have existed before Abraham, and claimed to have the power to forgive sins of complete strangers. He claimed the name that was so sacred a Jew could not say it . the “I am” and they quite rightly tried to stone him a few times over that one….

    Does this man have an ego or is the man SERIOUSLY dilusional, or what?!!!!

    I can´t find it in your long post, but you said somewhere , I think , that Jesus is sort of besides the point in what you are talking about.

    I realized that I can´t really address your questions about original sin and our own alleged shortcoming without taking Jesus into account.

    My cards are now all on the table.

    Apart from the strange dude named Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, I have nothing to present to you.

    Most Jesus types like this one would be locked up or on Prozac or maybe something for bipolarism I would think… In fact I am sure you can find some in mental hospítals.

    It gets stranger to me. He claimed that his whole life’s purpose was to come, live a life that embodied the entire cosmos bodily in his very person (don´t ask…) and then to passively allow that life to be taken. He was to be abandoned by God. But he claimed to be THE God (as opposed to a new age-like “we are all god or have god in us…”) So how is that even possible I ask?

    He was to be abandoned by every single person at the end.

    The witnesses of his most important acts were women (you can ponder this through the lense of a jew as well…) and his followers were cowering in locked rooms. and they did not believe anything that happened after his death as being true. after being with him for 3 years.

    Christians believe that the moment of his death is the hinge of human history and existence. Not the fall into sin even. Christians believe that his DEATH was his moment of victory. complete and utter victory. Objective. Historical. True. as in….

    What his death means and accomplished is true for you whether you believe it or not Michael! God doesn´t need your pathetic faith or your hollow repentance. He does, I believe, deserve your trust. But He really doesn´t even need that to make what Jesus did as true for you as it is for me. “God was in christ reconciling the WORLD” I think that phrase includes you. I am sure it includes me. independent of whatever you believe.

    His death…. We christians are told to proclaim his death until he returns.

    We are NOT told to get a Victorious christian life, or to battle to obtain a victory as christians. we believe the victory HAS been won at the moment of his death. God almighty took a chill pill.

    Strange I think. There are still wars and good people doing very very bad things to each other. and yet i believe that God is at peace with all of that now. So call me strange Michael.

    This has something to do with a good God having to also be a just God and somewhere, if there is a God, the problem of evil and the bad things that happen in the world have to be dealt with by God. as in “if there IS a God, then why would he allow…..” Like that….. But then this is another (yet closely related) conversation.

    Michael: I trust in this strange Jesus that is not owned by any church, whose followers are mere object lessons on why He needed to come and be one of us.

    IF you are interested, here is a link to a writing that might give you more insight into why, as a gay man, with a potentially terminal disease to boot, trust Him, and why my favorite mental image of Him, very strangely I think, is Him hanging Dead and executed.

    lemme know.

    http://blog.higherthings.org/wcwirla/article/2941.html

    I don´t believe that THIS Jesus would ever turn anyone away. Including myself. And take note that I am fully accepted here as a brother.

    Billy Graham tells folks at his revivals that “the decision you make today will determine your eternity!” I say to that “bullshit.” What has determined your eternity is what a Jew did 2000 years ago in time and history. Trust that Michael.

    We Lutherans say that you “cannot by your own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ or come to him.” Another strangeness.

    So if you go with Billy Graham then, you are for sure eternally f–ked. (I can´t think of a more accurate word here that is more polite, sorry brothers and sisters!)

    There might be something going on here that is not familiar to you, even though you were raised in a church and know the bible….

    I would ask you to allow your ideas of God and Jesus to die. At least for discussion purposes.

  • fwsonnek

    “Which is clearly not the case. I mean, we still talk about the sun rising and setting, but who believes it actually does that? ”

    I actually believe that. it is positional. the universe, including you, rotates around me, frank sonnek, so far as i know. My world is more poetic that way. hehehehehe.

    You quote a poem. Since when is poetry taken to be literal? (except maybe by the spanish inquisition vs galeleo…).

  • fwsonnek

    “Which is clearly not the case. I mean, we still talk about the sun rising and setting, but who believes it actually does that? ”

    I actually believe that. it is positional. the universe, including you, rotates around me, frank sonnek, so far as i know. My world is more poetic that way. hehehehehe.

    You quote a poem. Since when is poetry taken to be literal? (except maybe by the spanish inquisition vs galeleo…).

  • fwsonnek

    hEY Michael:

    This was in todays NY times. seems that when it comes to religion and science there will always be questions behind questions behind questions… what to do…. I had never thought of this one though in quite this way.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/24/opinion/24davies.html?th&emc=th

  • fwsonnek

    hEY Michael:

    This was in todays NY times. seems that when it comes to religion and science there will always be questions behind questions behind questions… what to do…. I had never thought of this one though in quite this way.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/24/opinion/24davies.html?th&emc=th

  • fwsonnek

    hEY Michael:

    my direct email is fwsonnek@gmail.com i just realized there was no way to know this on the good Dr Vieth´s new blog.

    This was in todays NY times. seems that when it comes to religion and science there will always be questions behind questions behind questions… what to do…. I had never thought of this one though in quite this way.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/24/opinion/24davies.html?th&emc=th

  • fwsonnek

    hEY Michael:

    my direct email is fwsonnek@gmail.com i just realized there was no way to know this on the good Dr Vieth´s new blog.

    This was in todays NY times. seems that when it comes to religion and science there will always be questions behind questions behind questions… what to do…. I had never thought of this one though in quite this way.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/24/opinion/24davies.html?th&emc=th

  • Michael the little boot

    Thanks for the long, thoughtful response, Frank. As I said earlier, I was hoping your next post would be something interesting like this.

    Rio De Janeiro. Wow. I’ve not even been to all of the states in this country! I’m not offended by any discussion, but I can get passionate and intense, which is off-putting. So as long as you are not offended by long-winded, loud, obnoxious and opinionated people, I may have to take you up on that invite.

    The Jesus I was raised with depends on whom you ask. My dad does think of himself as stupid and not worthy of any consideration by any creature, let alone one “greater” than himself. (I obviously have trouble with the idea that there is a hierarchy of existent beings, as I also provided evidence of in my earlier posting when talking about evolution.) So he is grateful for what he believes was Jesus’ benevolence. It plays into what he feels about himself. He doesn’t have to worry about the hammer coming down on his head, even though he deserves it (in his mind), because of Jesus.

    If you ask my mom, Jesus is the loving, caring nurturer she always wanted in a mother (though she’d be careful not to put it that way). He lifts her and protects her. He is always there for her. And she is lucky for that, because she’s really bad. She’s a horrible person in her own view. At the same time she’s smarter and better than everyone, which makes her an even more horrible person, in that she should have the power NOT to be horrible since she’s so much smarter and more gifted than everyone. And Jesus cares for that. He makes her feel better. She’s said she would kill herself were it not for him. He can even change her memories (physically, in the brain) when they become too much for her and she can’t cope. She is a practicing marriage/family/child therapist, and she believes her physical memories can be changed!

    But you asked me. The Jesus I grew up with WAS the confusing Jesus about whom you spoke. All of those things in the scriptures that contradicted what the adults I knew said. All of that family values garbage, the Billy Graham stuff. The fire and brimstone. We went to a Baptist church when I was young, then we moved to a different city and started going to a Charismatic church, a Church of the Foursquare Gospel. (I was never really clear on what the Foursquare Gospel was, but every time someone said the phrase I was reminded of the game I played in elementary school.) And they focused on the minutiae: speaking in tongues, letting the holy spirit guide, etc. None of the meat.

    But I had gotten enough meat from the baptist church in San Francisco we’d attended for eleven years. So I already “knew” the core stuff about Jesus. Problem is, no one had ever answered any of my questions as to why they said things about Jesus that didn’t seem to agree with the evidence of scripture. You know, all the nicey-nice Jesus stuff you talked about, as well as the fire and brimstone. I mean, that hell stuff isn’t even in the First testament to speak of, since that wasn’t a Jewish belief then. And the First testament is bloody. Then Jesus comes and says a lot of cryptic things (e.g., the camel through the eye of a needle bit, very interesting), all of the explanations for which I found to be uninteresting and unconvincing. But they were cloaked in the “believe this or you’ll go to hell” lingo, so I couldn’t consciously ask those questions or even literally ask them as often as they popped up in my brain. (I’d just recite the dogma and they’d go away for a while, forgotten. I probably forgot those questions over and over again, just to survive.)

    I think currently my mother believes more along the lines that you talk about here, if I am reading you correctly. Are you saying that everyone actually IS saved, regardless of what they think of Jesus or what religion they profess? That by virtue of the fact of Jesus’ death, all are absolved of the guilt of original sin? And that, since this is a fact, it is good to believe this fact, because you are then giving gratitude to the one who saved you AND living the positive existence He wished for you to live? Because I would have loved to have had that view as a kid. It would’ve saved me a ton of staying up late thinking. I wouldn’t have tried to solve all of the logical inconsistencies of what I was being taught and what I was reading. That would have better served my artistic temperament.

    But that didn’t happen. And I believe now what I believe now, which solves the problems I had then in a way that is much more intellectually and emotionally satisfying to me than what I had believed previously. Not that your poetic and rich interpretation isn’t miles beyond what I was raised to think. It just doesn’t fit in with what I think now.

    I am with you, though. Jesus was not a “great moral teacher.” But I would still love to have a beer with the man. To me, he was a radical more than a great moral teacher, the Che Guevara of his day. But so much of him, in my opinion, is lost to history that I may just be reading my bias and nothing more. If I am correct, or close, I think he’s much more interesting than any of the hyphenated-types you discussed.

    I’m just not inclined to believe that any human is any more or less divine–if anyone really is–than any other. Including Jesus. He was better than great or even perfect. He was interesting. So much so that writings about him have captivated western thought for much of the last two-thousand years, ideas about which have shaped modern human history.

    But we come to my question again. Not “how are we saved from our sin?” or “do we sin?” or even “are we to going to hell if we don’t accept Jesus?” or any permutations of these. It remains “why do we NEED to be saved from sin, if we did nothing originally but partake in Adam’s lineage?” I’m on the way to satisfied that you don’t think people who believe differently than you do are going to hell. But I’m not satisfied with an answer to that question.

    I believe that talking about God as being compassionate in sending Jesus to die for our sins, when we are not to blame (on the basis of the doctrine of original sin, yada yada) for them, IS like Siems’ metaphor of the crack baby, in a way. The baby born of a mother who did drugs at all during the pregnancy (varying greatly by frequency of use, type or types of drug, etc.) is born with some birth defects. (We even acknowledge that smoking and drinking caffeinated beverages can be detrimental to a fetus! Let alone heroine, oxy contin, or extreme alcohol abuse!) To me, this is a pretty good metaphor for the God of Original Sin, in that the parent is left with a living, breathing example of their mistake, and they must do what they can to help the child cope with the defects they have heaped upon him or her. God’s mistake was in not creating some possible avenue for Adam to escape sin, thereby shackling all of Adam’s descendants. Can we please have someone take a stab at explaining why we are to blame for this? Or have we gone past it now, since Frank’s mentioned that one does not have to do anything for Jesus’ sacrifice to be real?

    I think that the crux has not been touched. If my crack baby metaphor holds up, the trouble I have is that a person in this situation must do what she can to make up for her mistake. I.e., God must make up for allowing sin by opening heaven to those of us afflicted with that particular disorder. Not to do so would be like the physician who creates a bioweapon, allows it to fall into the wrong hands and then denies care to those fall victim.

    As for taking the poem literally, I don’t think I am. I’m just showing that it gives a context for what they thought of the earth then. Poets tend to give artistic voice to the views of the day. People write poems now about nature, poets who see the scientific view as a very valid metaphor. And that’s often how I see it as well: a very well-reasoned, well-researched, honest and articulate metaphor that continues to revise itself so that it can most accurately reflect the reality it symbolizes.

    A nice marriage of heart and mind, in my view.

  • Michael the little boot

    Thanks for the long, thoughtful response, Frank. As I said earlier, I was hoping your next post would be something interesting like this.

    Rio De Janeiro. Wow. I’ve not even been to all of the states in this country! I’m not offended by any discussion, but I can get passionate and intense, which is off-putting. So as long as you are not offended by long-winded, loud, obnoxious and opinionated people, I may have to take you up on that invite.

    The Jesus I was raised with depends on whom you ask. My dad does think of himself as stupid and not worthy of any consideration by any creature, let alone one “greater” than himself. (I obviously have trouble with the idea that there is a hierarchy of existent beings, as I also provided evidence of in my earlier posting when talking about evolution.) So he is grateful for what he believes was Jesus’ benevolence. It plays into what he feels about himself. He doesn’t have to worry about the hammer coming down on his head, even though he deserves it (in his mind), because of Jesus.

    If you ask my mom, Jesus is the loving, caring nurturer she always wanted in a mother (though she’d be careful not to put it that way). He lifts her and protects her. He is always there for her. And she is lucky for that, because she’s really bad. She’s a horrible person in her own view. At the same time she’s smarter and better than everyone, which makes her an even more horrible person, in that she should have the power NOT to be horrible since she’s so much smarter and more gifted than everyone. And Jesus cares for that. He makes her feel better. She’s said she would kill herself were it not for him. He can even change her memories (physically, in the brain) when they become too much for her and she can’t cope. She is a practicing marriage/family/child therapist, and she believes her physical memories can be changed!

    But you asked me. The Jesus I grew up with WAS the confusing Jesus about whom you spoke. All of those things in the scriptures that contradicted what the adults I knew said. All of that family values garbage, the Billy Graham stuff. The fire and brimstone. We went to a Baptist church when I was young, then we moved to a different city and started going to a Charismatic church, a Church of the Foursquare Gospel. (I was never really clear on what the Foursquare Gospel was, but every time someone said the phrase I was reminded of the game I played in elementary school.) And they focused on the minutiae: speaking in tongues, letting the holy spirit guide, etc. None of the meat.

    But I had gotten enough meat from the baptist church in San Francisco we’d attended for eleven years. So I already “knew” the core stuff about Jesus. Problem is, no one had ever answered any of my questions as to why they said things about Jesus that didn’t seem to agree with the evidence of scripture. You know, all the nicey-nice Jesus stuff you talked about, as well as the fire and brimstone. I mean, that hell stuff isn’t even in the First testament to speak of, since that wasn’t a Jewish belief then. And the First testament is bloody. Then Jesus comes and says a lot of cryptic things (e.g., the camel through the eye of a needle bit, very interesting), all of the explanations for which I found to be uninteresting and unconvincing. But they were cloaked in the “believe this or you’ll go to hell” lingo, so I couldn’t consciously ask those questions or even literally ask them as often as they popped up in my brain. (I’d just recite the dogma and they’d go away for a while, forgotten. I probably forgot those questions over and over again, just to survive.)

    I think currently my mother believes more along the lines that you talk about here, if I am reading you correctly. Are you saying that everyone actually IS saved, regardless of what they think of Jesus or what religion they profess? That by virtue of the fact of Jesus’ death, all are absolved of the guilt of original sin? And that, since this is a fact, it is good to believe this fact, because you are then giving gratitude to the one who saved you AND living the positive existence He wished for you to live? Because I would have loved to have had that view as a kid. It would’ve saved me a ton of staying up late thinking. I wouldn’t have tried to solve all of the logical inconsistencies of what I was being taught and what I was reading. That would have better served my artistic temperament.

    But that didn’t happen. And I believe now what I believe now, which solves the problems I had then in a way that is much more intellectually and emotionally satisfying to me than what I had believed previously. Not that your poetic and rich interpretation isn’t miles beyond what I was raised to think. It just doesn’t fit in with what I think now.

    I am with you, though. Jesus was not a “great moral teacher.” But I would still love to have a beer with the man. To me, he was a radical more than a great moral teacher, the Che Guevara of his day. But so much of him, in my opinion, is lost to history that I may just be reading my bias and nothing more. If I am correct, or close, I think he’s much more interesting than any of the hyphenated-types you discussed.

    I’m just not inclined to believe that any human is any more or less divine–if anyone really is–than any other. Including Jesus. He was better than great or even perfect. He was interesting. So much so that writings about him have captivated western thought for much of the last two-thousand years, ideas about which have shaped modern human history.

    But we come to my question again. Not “how are we saved from our sin?” or “do we sin?” or even “are we to going to hell if we don’t accept Jesus?” or any permutations of these. It remains “why do we NEED to be saved from sin, if we did nothing originally but partake in Adam’s lineage?” I’m on the way to satisfied that you don’t think people who believe differently than you do are going to hell. But I’m not satisfied with an answer to that question.

    I believe that talking about God as being compassionate in sending Jesus to die for our sins, when we are not to blame (on the basis of the doctrine of original sin, yada yada) for them, IS like Siems’ metaphor of the crack baby, in a way. The baby born of a mother who did drugs at all during the pregnancy (varying greatly by frequency of use, type or types of drug, etc.) is born with some birth defects. (We even acknowledge that smoking and drinking caffeinated beverages can be detrimental to a fetus! Let alone heroine, oxy contin, or extreme alcohol abuse!) To me, this is a pretty good metaphor for the God of Original Sin, in that the parent is left with a living, breathing example of their mistake, and they must do what they can to help the child cope with the defects they have heaped upon him or her. God’s mistake was in not creating some possible avenue for Adam to escape sin, thereby shackling all of Adam’s descendants. Can we please have someone take a stab at explaining why we are to blame for this? Or have we gone past it now, since Frank’s mentioned that one does not have to do anything for Jesus’ sacrifice to be real?

    I think that the crux has not been touched. If my crack baby metaphor holds up, the trouble I have is that a person in this situation must do what she can to make up for her mistake. I.e., God must make up for allowing sin by opening heaven to those of us afflicted with that particular disorder. Not to do so would be like the physician who creates a bioweapon, allows it to fall into the wrong hands and then denies care to those fall victim.

    As for taking the poem literally, I don’t think I am. I’m just showing that it gives a context for what they thought of the earth then. Poets tend to give artistic voice to the views of the day. People write poems now about nature, poets who see the scientific view as a very valid metaphor. And that’s often how I see it as well: a very well-reasoned, well-researched, honest and articulate metaphor that continues to revise itself so that it can most accurately reflect the reality it symbolizes.

    A nice marriage of heart and mind, in my view.

  • allen

    Michael,

    I’m not really erudite, so bear with me. You asked why we have to do anything so that God will save us from something we didn’t cause ourselves to do.

    God already saved you back when He was hanging on that cross when He said, “It is finished.” As God says in Isaiah 55:11, “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Jesus is the Word made flesh and He accomplished the Father’s purpose; that is, He saved you. I hope no one imagines he can “do” anything to be saved. God’s command to worship Him is like His other commands; have mercy, don’t steal, etc. That doesn’t really have anything to do with being saved.

    You asked, “What did we do to deserve being saddled with a sin nature just because one of our ancestors made a horrible choice?”

    The answer is, “Nothing.”

    But what would you have? Would you rather be like Adam and Eve, having the choice, and still sinning anyway? There would still just be that one redemption. That’s what’s important.

  • allen

    Michael,

    I’m not really erudite, so bear with me. You asked why we have to do anything so that God will save us from something we didn’t cause ourselves to do.

    God already saved you back when He was hanging on that cross when He said, “It is finished.” As God says in Isaiah 55:11, “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Jesus is the Word made flesh and He accomplished the Father’s purpose; that is, He saved you. I hope no one imagines he can “do” anything to be saved. God’s command to worship Him is like His other commands; have mercy, don’t steal, etc. That doesn’t really have anything to do with being saved.

    You asked, “What did we do to deserve being saddled with a sin nature just because one of our ancestors made a horrible choice?”

    The answer is, “Nothing.”

    But what would you have? Would you rather be like Adam and Eve, having the choice, and still sinning anyway? There would still just be that one redemption. That’s what’s important.

  • Michael the little boot

    allen,

    Thank you for responding to the actual question!

    If we did nothing to deserve our sin nature, but still must answer for it, this God is evil. He blames us for his mistakes. Which I thought I had made clear earlier. And, as tODD points out, in saying this I am only regurgitating what others have said for a long time.

    I think it’s a general inferiority complex steeped within human culture that causes us to accept the “Adam sinned, and so would you if you had the choice!” party line. I don’t accept it. Where’s the evidence? Your’s is in the way you define sin. If you call what we naturally do “sin,” such as some of the people’s language here (which I know some find offensive), Frank’s being gay (not my view!), or any other natural behavior that someone says is actually evil, then, yes, we all sin. But this is entirely contextual. One can always define what aliens do as evil so as to justify feeling put-off by it (e.g., Dr. Veith’s characterization of the towers in Dubai as “creepy”).

    Just because I make mistakes and am not always what some would define as good, does not make me a sinner. That’s an extreme reading of the oneness of positive and negative, like the hot and cold thing. That’s a fairly child-ish–rather than child-like–view, in my opinion. Of course I am capable of positive as well as negative acts along a spectrum. I am a part of the oneness of those things. (And the oneness theory is born out by quantum mechanics as well, which works for the metaphor!)

    I don’t think God keeps score. I think God’s a realist. If God knows who I am, God knows what to expect. It’s just mean and counterproductive to expect someone to be something they are not–more so if you created them. I’m not saying we can’t grow and change, but we can’t change into a bird. We can, at the most, be THE MOST that we can be. Nothing more. But what potential we have in reaching our true selves! Why be unrealistic and try to be more? Cannot being all that one can be actually be enough?

    And if we were never capable of not sinning, we don’t have free will, anyway. This God sounds like someone worthy of reverence, huh? No. The God that scoops you up out of the fire he created is just using his powers to right his own wrong. That is the bare minimum expected. Like parents providing food, shelter and clothing to their helpless infant. Parents who do that shouldn’t be commended, because that is Parenting 101. If they don’t do that, they essentially do nothing. It’s the parents that rise ABOVE their duties that are admirable. And I don’t see that in your explanation of God.

  • Michael the little boot

    allen,

    Thank you for responding to the actual question!

    If we did nothing to deserve our sin nature, but still must answer for it, this God is evil. He blames us for his mistakes. Which I thought I had made clear earlier. And, as tODD points out, in saying this I am only regurgitating what others have said for a long time.

    I think it’s a general inferiority complex steeped within human culture that causes us to accept the “Adam sinned, and so would you if you had the choice!” party line. I don’t accept it. Where’s the evidence? Your’s is in the way you define sin. If you call what we naturally do “sin,” such as some of the people’s language here (which I know some find offensive), Frank’s being gay (not my view!), or any other natural behavior that someone says is actually evil, then, yes, we all sin. But this is entirely contextual. One can always define what aliens do as evil so as to justify feeling put-off by it (e.g., Dr. Veith’s characterization of the towers in Dubai as “creepy”).

    Just because I make mistakes and am not always what some would define as good, does not make me a sinner. That’s an extreme reading of the oneness of positive and negative, like the hot and cold thing. That’s a fairly child-ish–rather than child-like–view, in my opinion. Of course I am capable of positive as well as negative acts along a spectrum. I am a part of the oneness of those things. (And the oneness theory is born out by quantum mechanics as well, which works for the metaphor!)

    I don’t think God keeps score. I think God’s a realist. If God knows who I am, God knows what to expect. It’s just mean and counterproductive to expect someone to be something they are not–more so if you created them. I’m not saying we can’t grow and change, but we can’t change into a bird. We can, at the most, be THE MOST that we can be. Nothing more. But what potential we have in reaching our true selves! Why be unrealistic and try to be more? Cannot being all that one can be actually be enough?

    And if we were never capable of not sinning, we don’t have free will, anyway. This God sounds like someone worthy of reverence, huh? No. The God that scoops you up out of the fire he created is just using his powers to right his own wrong. That is the bare minimum expected. Like parents providing food, shelter and clothing to their helpless infant. Parents who do that shouldn’t be commended, because that is Parenting 101. If they don’t do that, they essentially do nothing. It’s the parents that rise ABOVE their duties that are admirable. And I don’t see that in your explanation of God.

  • fwsonnek

    Hey Michael:

    Thanks for the insight into your family background. It is interesting indeed.

    “If we did nothing to deserve our sin nature, but still must answer for it, this God is evil. He blames us for his mistakes.”

    There are a couple of assumptions here I agree with but I am not going to nit. I agree with you Michael. Fortunately the case you describe is not the truth.

    I would recommend googling a dude name Robert Farrer Capon. He is Episcopalian and not Lutheran. I don´t agree with everything he says, but I think you might be challenged by what you read. I would especially recommend first his book “The astonished heart” and then his trilogy on the parables. I think it is called “sin grace and the kingdom ” or something like that. it was originally published in 3 books but now is in a single volume.

    You can google him, but you will only get the real flavor by reading the astonished heart or his parable book from cover to cover. He is a good writer , so they are both fast reads. amazing considering the complexity he presents and how he deconstructs every religious idea you have ever had or borrowed in your life (I guarantee this.)

    He has been accused of being a universalist (someone who believes everyone goes to heaven regardless) and also an anti-nomian (someone who believes that the law of God doesnt matter at all or is actually harmful).

    I see his writing as actually being alot more complex than all of that. But we christians love to categorize people and we get itchy when they don´t seem to fit our normal categories. He is a challenging read.

    he wrote a great cookbook also by the way…..

    I would invite you to judge for yourself.

    By the way, you are just the kind of visitor I like to host down here. we would have a blast. especially if you like loud music brasilian style!

    hope you email me directly to start planning!

  • fwsonnek

    Hey Michael:

    Thanks for the insight into your family background. It is interesting indeed.

    “If we did nothing to deserve our sin nature, but still must answer for it, this God is evil. He blames us for his mistakes.”

    There are a couple of assumptions here I agree with but I am not going to nit. I agree with you Michael. Fortunately the case you describe is not the truth.

    I would recommend googling a dude name Robert Farrer Capon. He is Episcopalian and not Lutheran. I don´t agree with everything he says, but I think you might be challenged by what you read. I would especially recommend first his book “The astonished heart” and then his trilogy on the parables. I think it is called “sin grace and the kingdom ” or something like that. it was originally published in 3 books but now is in a single volume.

    You can google him, but you will only get the real flavor by reading the astonished heart or his parable book from cover to cover. He is a good writer , so they are both fast reads. amazing considering the complexity he presents and how he deconstructs every religious idea you have ever had or borrowed in your life (I guarantee this.)

    He has been accused of being a universalist (someone who believes everyone goes to heaven regardless) and also an anti-nomian (someone who believes that the law of God doesnt matter at all or is actually harmful).

    I see his writing as actually being alot more complex than all of that. But we christians love to categorize people and we get itchy when they don´t seem to fit our normal categories. He is a challenging read.

    he wrote a great cookbook also by the way…..

    I would invite you to judge for yourself.

    By the way, you are just the kind of visitor I like to host down here. we would have a blast. especially if you like loud music brasilian style!

    hope you email me directly to start planning!

  • allen

    Michael,

    You wrote, “If we did nothing to deserve our sin nature, but still must answer for it, this God is evil.” That’s just the point. We don’t answer for it. Jesus did. He paid the price with the only thing precious enough to buy you back. That’s the worth God places on you.

    You wrote, “Your’s [the evidence?] is in the way you define sin.” I only know one definition of sin. If something’s not right it’s wrong.

    You wrote, “Just because I make mistakes and am not always what some would define as good, does not make me a sinner.” I agree entirely. In fact I would argue the opposite of that. We’re not sinners because we sin. We sin because we’re sinners.

    You wrote, “Cannot being all that one can be actually be enough?” Apparently, for reasons of His own, God has decided not to grade on the curve. Instead, He aced the test Himself for you.

  • allen

    Michael,

    You wrote, “If we did nothing to deserve our sin nature, but still must answer for it, this God is evil.” That’s just the point. We don’t answer for it. Jesus did. He paid the price with the only thing precious enough to buy you back. That’s the worth God places on you.

    You wrote, “Your’s [the evidence?] is in the way you define sin.” I only know one definition of sin. If something’s not right it’s wrong.

    You wrote, “Just because I make mistakes and am not always what some would define as good, does not make me a sinner.” I agree entirely. In fact I would argue the opposite of that. We’re not sinners because we sin. We sin because we’re sinners.

    You wrote, “Cannot being all that one can be actually be enough?” Apparently, for reasons of His own, God has decided not to grade on the curve. Instead, He aced the test Himself for you.

  • fwsonnek

    Michael:

    If I understand you right, you say that humankind acts as it does. period.

    Therefore concepts of right and wrong , moral and immoral are simply irrelevant. am I understanding you correctly here? I believe Jean Paul Sarte had a similar position. Do I understand you correctly ? Could you clarify your thinking on this for me?

    or is it more like: there are categories of good and bad, moral or immoral, but those things are just as they are, and part of the human condition, natural , and so not in need of punishment or reward?

    How do you deal with the concept of evil or bad things in this world, or judge that something is good , or are these categories and the realities behind them for you a false construct?

    thanks!

  • fwsonnek

    Michael:

    If I understand you right, you say that humankind acts as it does. period.

    Therefore concepts of right and wrong , moral and immoral are simply irrelevant. am I understanding you correctly here? I believe Jean Paul Sarte had a similar position. Do I understand you correctly ? Could you clarify your thinking on this for me?

    or is it more like: there are categories of good and bad, moral or immoral, but those things are just as they are, and part of the human condition, natural , and so not in need of punishment or reward?

    How do you deal with the concept of evil or bad things in this world, or judge that something is good , or are these categories and the realities behind them for you a false construct?

    thanks!

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank,

    Googled Capon. Interesting. He’s still talking about ideas I’m not interested in, such as sin and redemption. I think these are irrelevant. I think the metaphor of Jesus death can be seen to encompass a kind of death to our oppressive way of viewing ourselves–the pervasive inferiority complex I mentioned–and a resurrection of our former, more balanced view of ourselves as a part of nature rather than masters of it. Rather than being demeaning I feel this view is empowering. It makes our family larger rather than smaller, and allows us not to entertain elitist behavior.

    In fact, we in the west may be misreading Genesis when we say it is about a separation from God. A rabbi came and explained it in an interesting way to my Basic Method in Theology class in college. He said it is actually about humanity choosing sex and procreation over immortality. Such a different, and slightly more positive view. In this story, humans are in a much more equal relationship with God. They choose their own destiny out of the choices God gives. When God says that they will die if they eat the fruit, he means that they will choose mortal succession as a way to preserve their numbers on earth instead of immortal presence. The tree of life brings immortality. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil brings sex, oneness and death. So God is not sad or angry when the Man and the Woman make their choice. God shuts Eden because the humans have chosen a different path. Interesting eastern take. And we see it as a scolding, as our fall, as the point when we as a species became separated from God.

    Once again, our low self-esteem.

    I’m not sure if there is morality apart from the way our human minds work. That’s my thing. We see things as biological beings, with certain aptitudes and deficits. We can only perceive what we can. We say that we see absolute laws, but we may be unable to see the one thing that keeps the answer out of our grasp. We may one day invent an instrument with which to experience these sensations that are outside our experience now, as we have for infra-red and ultra-violet wavelengths. But we can only know we are missing out once we know. Since we can be guaranteed that there is some of this sensory data still outside our grasp, we should not be confident.

    I don’t believe in punishment and reward as a valid system. We can definitely say that our justice system in the United States is badly broken. I don’t think it’s based on teaching anyone to be better citizens. It seems to be about revenge. Why would a person who happens to be driving 30 miles an hour in a 25 zone get sent to jail for involuntary manslaughter if a person runs out in front of their car? Just because they’re five miles an hour over? What is this involuntary thing anyway?

    Why are we punishing people who haven’t done anything nearly close to deserving the sentence we give? To teach them a lesson? Involuntary manslaughter to teach someone not to go five miles an hour above the speed limit? But I shouldn’t be surprised at that reaction in a society where so many people believe they are to blame for a sin NATURE. That is, a natural compulsion to sin that we have no choice but to obey. Except that to obey is to deny our natural instincts. A catch-22.

    I guess I’m not sure we as humanity really know what morals are. We’re all so confused. We know what our morals are, but cannot recognize them in others unless they are the same as ours. Even among devotees of the same religion you find congregants of different sects and denominations who disagree on the minutest points of the most minor doctrines, both swearing the other is the one who gets it dead wrong. We also love to say we are small parts of the universe and we don’t know everything. I agree. I think we should be happy with what we know without speculating.

    I think art is the best representation of our spirituality. It gives us as many metaphors through which to view our lives without making us choose one for all time to fit a life that always changes. But I guess that makes me a relativist. I am actually all about personal responsibility, which is more than just having a set of precepts from which to draw answers that have already been set forth for every given situation. It’s being aware and alert and evaluating each situation as it comes, treating each one as a unique circumstance. It’s knowing how to think instead of what to think, and how to live with hard decisions for which you have no one to blame but yourself.

    And I don’t believe in evil. I think good and evil are categories we like because it makes things easier to see. Once we label things we can narrow down how we’ll deal with them. But notice concepts of good and evil vary throughout humankind. You can say your vision of these terms is the absolute one, but that is just an opinion until you can back it up with something other than circular reasoning and self-referential logic games. I think, once again, that each situation happens along a continuum of positive and negative. You could call the extremes of each “good” and “evil,” but the problem is it is not measurable. It begins and ends at different points for different people depending on a myriad of factors.

    I like positive and negative because, in addition to being a bit more balanced and a bit less dramatic, they allow us to see everything as complex and mixed, as not belonging just to one thing or another. Like species, to stretch the metaphor. If we could see that species don’t really exist, and that this is just an easy way to categorize things so that we can study them and learn about them, we might be able to see our world as a shared world, and stop dominating it to such a devastating degree!

    So, no. I don’t believe in evil. I think it is a counterproductive label. It’s an easy way to demonize the schoolyard bully when we don’t want to see that his dad beats him and his mom calls him a “fat retard.”

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank,

    Googled Capon. Interesting. He’s still talking about ideas I’m not interested in, such as sin and redemption. I think these are irrelevant. I think the metaphor of Jesus death can be seen to encompass a kind of death to our oppressive way of viewing ourselves–the pervasive inferiority complex I mentioned–and a resurrection of our former, more balanced view of ourselves as a part of nature rather than masters of it. Rather than being demeaning I feel this view is empowering. It makes our family larger rather than smaller, and allows us not to entertain elitist behavior.

    In fact, we in the west may be misreading Genesis when we say it is about a separation from God. A rabbi came and explained it in an interesting way to my Basic Method in Theology class in college. He said it is actually about humanity choosing sex and procreation over immortality. Such a different, and slightly more positive view. In this story, humans are in a much more equal relationship with God. They choose their own destiny out of the choices God gives. When God says that they will die if they eat the fruit, he means that they will choose mortal succession as a way to preserve their numbers on earth instead of immortal presence. The tree of life brings immortality. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil brings sex, oneness and death. So God is not sad or angry when the Man and the Woman make their choice. God shuts Eden because the humans have chosen a different path. Interesting eastern take. And we see it as a scolding, as our fall, as the point when we as a species became separated from God.

    Once again, our low self-esteem.

    I’m not sure if there is morality apart from the way our human minds work. That’s my thing. We see things as biological beings, with certain aptitudes and deficits. We can only perceive what we can. We say that we see absolute laws, but we may be unable to see the one thing that keeps the answer out of our grasp. We may one day invent an instrument with which to experience these sensations that are outside our experience now, as we have for infra-red and ultra-violet wavelengths. But we can only know we are missing out once we know. Since we can be guaranteed that there is some of this sensory data still outside our grasp, we should not be confident.

    I don’t believe in punishment and reward as a valid system. We can definitely say that our justice system in the United States is badly broken. I don’t think it’s based on teaching anyone to be better citizens. It seems to be about revenge. Why would a person who happens to be driving 30 miles an hour in a 25 zone get sent to jail for involuntary manslaughter if a person runs out in front of their car? Just because they’re five miles an hour over? What is this involuntary thing anyway?

    Why are we punishing people who haven’t done anything nearly close to deserving the sentence we give? To teach them a lesson? Involuntary manslaughter to teach someone not to go five miles an hour above the speed limit? But I shouldn’t be surprised at that reaction in a society where so many people believe they are to blame for a sin NATURE. That is, a natural compulsion to sin that we have no choice but to obey. Except that to obey is to deny our natural instincts. A catch-22.

    I guess I’m not sure we as humanity really know what morals are. We’re all so confused. We know what our morals are, but cannot recognize them in others unless they are the same as ours. Even among devotees of the same religion you find congregants of different sects and denominations who disagree on the minutest points of the most minor doctrines, both swearing the other is the one who gets it dead wrong. We also love to say we are small parts of the universe and we don’t know everything. I agree. I think we should be happy with what we know without speculating.

    I think art is the best representation of our spirituality. It gives us as many metaphors through which to view our lives without making us choose one for all time to fit a life that always changes. But I guess that makes me a relativist. I am actually all about personal responsibility, which is more than just having a set of precepts from which to draw answers that have already been set forth for every given situation. It’s being aware and alert and evaluating each situation as it comes, treating each one as a unique circumstance. It’s knowing how to think instead of what to think, and how to live with hard decisions for which you have no one to blame but yourself.

    And I don’t believe in evil. I think good and evil are categories we like because it makes things easier to see. Once we label things we can narrow down how we’ll deal with them. But notice concepts of good and evil vary throughout humankind. You can say your vision of these terms is the absolute one, but that is just an opinion until you can back it up with something other than circular reasoning and self-referential logic games. I think, once again, that each situation happens along a continuum of positive and negative. You could call the extremes of each “good” and “evil,” but the problem is it is not measurable. It begins and ends at different points for different people depending on a myriad of factors.

    I like positive and negative because, in addition to being a bit more balanced and a bit less dramatic, they allow us to see everything as complex and mixed, as not belonging just to one thing or another. Like species, to stretch the metaphor. If we could see that species don’t really exist, and that this is just an easy way to categorize things so that we can study them and learn about them, we might be able to see our world as a shared world, and stop dominating it to such a devastating degree!

    So, no. I don’t believe in evil. I think it is a counterproductive label. It’s an easy way to demonize the schoolyard bully when we don’t want to see that his dad beats him and his mom calls him a “fat retard.”

  • Michael the little boot

    allen,

    You wrote “That’s just the point. We don’t answer for it. Jesus did. He paid the price with the only thing precious enough to buy you back.”

    What I mean is, we would have to pay the price if Jesus didn’t. And we shouldn’t have to pay for a debt we did nothing to accrue. God shouldn’t say, “You’re evil, but I’m a loving God, so don’t worry, I’ll fix it by sending my son to die so that your evilness can be washed away. Aren’t I great?” He should say “Dude, I totally messed up. See, I made this great world, then I made this guy and this girl, and they decided to do everything I told them not to do. And you come from them. Consequently, you are a flawed model as well. But don’t worry. I’m sending my son to fix it. Everything should be fine now. My bad.” If that were the case, I would be grateful to God, in the same way I’m grateful to my landlord when he comes to fix things that break in my apartment. Yeah, it’s his job, but I’d have to live in a crummy place without him. But if he commanded me to be grateful? I’d find another place to live.

    You’re right. You only know one definition of sin: your’s, the one you’ve accepted. But there are plenty of other people in the world with different concepts of what is right and wrong. Some of us don’t believe in it at all, other than to say it is a cultural construct kept in place for the structure of society. And your evidence for sin is everywhere you look BECAUSE of the way you’ve defined the word, and thus your search.

    I wrote “Just because I make mistakes and am not always what some would define as good, does not make me a sinner.” You wrote “I agree entirely. In fact I would argue the opposite of that. We’re not sinners because we sin. We sin because we’re sinners.” Once again, circular reasoning, logical puzzles. A nice free-floating rationale, a tap dance on air. You oversimplified what I was getting at to make a point that missed mine.

    You wrote “Apparently, for reasons of His own, God has decided not to grade on the curve. Instead, He aced the test Himself for you.” Nice. But if he made me inferior to the test, it is his fault when I fail it, not mine. He should make a test that is fair, that is possible for me to pass. If I fail that test, I’ll take full responsibility. If he can give me one good reason why I should take it.

  • Michael the little boot

    allen,

    You wrote “That’s just the point. We don’t answer for it. Jesus did. He paid the price with the only thing precious enough to buy you back.”

    What I mean is, we would have to pay the price if Jesus didn’t. And we shouldn’t have to pay for a debt we did nothing to accrue. God shouldn’t say, “You’re evil, but I’m a loving God, so don’t worry, I’ll fix it by sending my son to die so that your evilness can be washed away. Aren’t I great?” He should say “Dude, I totally messed up. See, I made this great world, then I made this guy and this girl, and they decided to do everything I told them not to do. And you come from them. Consequently, you are a flawed model as well. But don’t worry. I’m sending my son to fix it. Everything should be fine now. My bad.” If that were the case, I would be grateful to God, in the same way I’m grateful to my landlord when he comes to fix things that break in my apartment. Yeah, it’s his job, but I’d have to live in a crummy place without him. But if he commanded me to be grateful? I’d find another place to live.

    You’re right. You only know one definition of sin: your’s, the one you’ve accepted. But there are plenty of other people in the world with different concepts of what is right and wrong. Some of us don’t believe in it at all, other than to say it is a cultural construct kept in place for the structure of society. And your evidence for sin is everywhere you look BECAUSE of the way you’ve defined the word, and thus your search.

    I wrote “Just because I make mistakes and am not always what some would define as good, does not make me a sinner.” You wrote “I agree entirely. In fact I would argue the opposite of that. We’re not sinners because we sin. We sin because we’re sinners.” Once again, circular reasoning, logical puzzles. A nice free-floating rationale, a tap dance on air. You oversimplified what I was getting at to make a point that missed mine.

    You wrote “Apparently, for reasons of His own, God has decided not to grade on the curve. Instead, He aced the test Himself for you.” Nice. But if he made me inferior to the test, it is his fault when I fail it, not mine. He should make a test that is fair, that is possible for me to pass. If I fail that test, I’ll take full responsibility. If he can give me one good reason why I should take it.

  • fwsonnek

    wow. deep stuff michael. thanks! damn. now i will have to think outside my box. love/hate that when it happens.

    I would be really curious to see you bounce against a link i previously sent to you…

    http://blog.higherthings.org/wcwirla/article/2941.html

    i already know now your response to the part where “Jesus gets what we deserve”. I am therefore more interested in your response to the more existential part of what this article has to say. I think I am only starting to see your perspective. wierdy it seems that we perhaps come full circle in our thinking I am suspecting.

    You have identified a fundamental “disconnect” in christian theology that has often been danced around.

    There is a recognition that “something is not right in the world” and that reason for the not right is that there is something called evil in the world.

    The bible says that it exists. that it was introduced through what adam did, and yet it also says that God is in no way responsible for this evil, did not will for it to exist, and is the opposite of it if I understand correctly.

    The “dancing around” (I am not saying avoidance here!) then gets manifested by discussions of free will (baptists say we have complete free will, those who believe in destiny and kismet tend to the opposite and give all things to fate, and Lutherans make the odd proposition that our wills are bound in only one area, that we do have free will in every sense but the one where we can freely choose God and trust in Him. )

    Here is an odd Lutheran thought to ponder michael. For Lutherans the opposite of evil is NOT “GOODNESS”. the opposite of evil is TRUST.

    From this one subtle thought, I am perceiving that we are close to communicating clearly but are still not doing so completely? Our understandings of sin and evil might be actually quite different.

    You seem to posit an organic position. That we are made by God the way we are, and we just do what we do as a result of that. We can categorize things as good or bad or evil or not evil but those are just categories to comfort us and make us and give us a sense of understanding and meaning to our existence. The reality is that those distinctions are completely arbitrary. Am I understanding you right here Michael?

    The Lutheran view seems to be the most complex and paradoxical, but leaves the most open loose ends (maybe why I like it….)

    I am curious to know by what criterion you would decide what is “positive and negative”. I DO understand (I think…) that those also you regard as merely helpful overlays to your understanding of what just is and that just is requires and obviates justification for existing, but still….. enquiring minds want to know….

    I think we are beyond the point of argument Michael and now just trying to prod and poke each other to see if there is something here one or the other of us has not yet factored in or considered as a perspective. cool. I am not yet satisfied that I completely understand your point of view in the sense that i could accurately articulate it in my own words.. so……

  • fwsonnek

    wow. deep stuff michael. thanks! damn. now i will have to think outside my box. love/hate that when it happens.

    I would be really curious to see you bounce against a link i previously sent to you…

    http://blog.higherthings.org/wcwirla/article/2941.html

    i already know now your response to the part where “Jesus gets what we deserve”. I am therefore more interested in your response to the more existential part of what this article has to say. I think I am only starting to see your perspective. wierdy it seems that we perhaps come full circle in our thinking I am suspecting.

    You have identified a fundamental “disconnect” in christian theology that has often been danced around.

    There is a recognition that “something is not right in the world” and that reason for the not right is that there is something called evil in the world.

    The bible says that it exists. that it was introduced through what adam did, and yet it also says that God is in no way responsible for this evil, did not will for it to exist, and is the opposite of it if I understand correctly.

    The “dancing around” (I am not saying avoidance here!) then gets manifested by discussions of free will (baptists say we have complete free will, those who believe in destiny and kismet tend to the opposite and give all things to fate, and Lutherans make the odd proposition that our wills are bound in only one area, that we do have free will in every sense but the one where we can freely choose God and trust in Him. )

    Here is an odd Lutheran thought to ponder michael. For Lutherans the opposite of evil is NOT “GOODNESS”. the opposite of evil is TRUST.

    From this one subtle thought, I am perceiving that we are close to communicating clearly but are still not doing so completely? Our understandings of sin and evil might be actually quite different.

    You seem to posit an organic position. That we are made by God the way we are, and we just do what we do as a result of that. We can categorize things as good or bad or evil or not evil but those are just categories to comfort us and make us and give us a sense of understanding and meaning to our existence. The reality is that those distinctions are completely arbitrary. Am I understanding you right here Michael?

    The Lutheran view seems to be the most complex and paradoxical, but leaves the most open loose ends (maybe why I like it….)

    I am curious to know by what criterion you would decide what is “positive and negative”. I DO understand (I think…) that those also you regard as merely helpful overlays to your understanding of what just is and that just is requires and obviates justification for existing, but still….. enquiring minds want to know….

    I think we are beyond the point of argument Michael and now just trying to prod and poke each other to see if there is something here one or the other of us has not yet factored in or considered as a perspective. cool. I am not yet satisfied that I completely understand your point of view in the sense that i could accurately articulate it in my own words.. so……

  • fwsonnek

    I would suggest that the Lutheran assertion that “true worship is trust in Jesus Christ” is one of several ideas so disconnected from your framing of things, along with the lutheran (and christian) idea that the opposite of evil is not goodness, that maybe this all suggests that maybe we are still not connecting ball to bat in our discussions, you and I dear new friend.

    Ultimately, I think the bible does not really try to explain where evil came from. It simply states that it is not something God created, planned or willed to have happen. It got introduced through satan, the devil, the fallen angel. It does not explain or try to explain, if satan was created as good, how that went awry.

    I think the bible simply assumes that evil exists and that it´s existence is self evident. You see this as circular. In a way it is, but I am not convinced by you yet that this is exactly so. The logical and evidentiary arguments for some force of chaos in the world seems rather strong to me Michael still. I am not sure your view ultimately quiets the many questions that it in turn raises. I suspect you see this as well, and so, like me are rather tentative.

    Science has a similar bedrock conundrum doesnt it?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/24/opinion/24davies.html?th&emc=th

    It too is really a system requiring something that looks an awful lot like faith at the end for it to work.

    On the other hand, christians are not simply manicheans or zoroastrian , (light vs darkness) or good versus evil or ying vs yang.

    Christianity is also NOT a set of propositions or a philosophy that can be argued or debated. Do you see this Michael? Most christians DO seem to present things this way, but they are wrong to do so.

    What make the christian trust different I think is that it is deeply existential. “person-al.” if you will.

    I see your views in fact, though not at present christian, deeply shaped and framed by your christian past. Especially in terms of the questions you see as being important ones. Interesting. But expected of course, we are all, including me, shaped in our thinking by where we are, and usually not as independent as thinkers as some would suggest they are. Most if not all “Bible believers” have views that are sacred cows to them that have nothing at all to do with anything in the bible, case in point.

    I am not probably equipped at this time to ably articulate this except for what I hint at in the Lutheran view of evil, good and trust. Maybe someone else here wants to take this up. (Jesus looms largely as i speak) I understand these things in a deeply existential and poetic way, that i am not confident i could put out as talking points or by way of argument, only by way of description or illustration.

    So I am more interested in understanding your point of view and taking mental notes along the way with how this matches up to what I understand as true and trustworthy.

    (It might be good to take this offline at this point. I am not sure the blog is a suitable forum for such long entries that touch on so much. fwsonnek@gmail.com I want to be respectful here to our host and the other bloggers here. Maybe we can start a blog together or something….)

    I hope that is cool with you and you dont see that as a dodge or copout.

  • fwsonnek

    I would suggest that the Lutheran assertion that “true worship is trust in Jesus Christ” is one of several ideas so disconnected from your framing of things, along with the lutheran (and christian) idea that the opposite of evil is not goodness, that maybe this all suggests that maybe we are still not connecting ball to bat in our discussions, you and I dear new friend.

    Ultimately, I think the bible does not really try to explain where evil came from. It simply states that it is not something God created, planned or willed to have happen. It got introduced through satan, the devil, the fallen angel. It does not explain or try to explain, if satan was created as good, how that went awry.

    I think the bible simply assumes that evil exists and that it´s existence is self evident. You see this as circular. In a way it is, but I am not convinced by you yet that this is exactly so. The logical and evidentiary arguments for some force of chaos in the world seems rather strong to me Michael still. I am not sure your view ultimately quiets the many questions that it in turn raises. I suspect you see this as well, and so, like me are rather tentative.

    Science has a similar bedrock conundrum doesnt it?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/24/opinion/24davies.html?th&emc=th

    It too is really a system requiring something that looks an awful lot like faith at the end for it to work.

    On the other hand, christians are not simply manicheans or zoroastrian , (light vs darkness) or good versus evil or ying vs yang.

    Christianity is also NOT a set of propositions or a philosophy that can be argued or debated. Do you see this Michael? Most christians DO seem to present things this way, but they are wrong to do so.

    What make the christian trust different I think is that it is deeply existential. “person-al.” if you will.

    I see your views in fact, though not at present christian, deeply shaped and framed by your christian past. Especially in terms of the questions you see as being important ones. Interesting. But expected of course, we are all, including me, shaped in our thinking by where we are, and usually not as independent as thinkers as some would suggest they are. Most if not all “Bible believers” have views that are sacred cows to them that have nothing at all to do with anything in the bible, case in point.

    I am not probably equipped at this time to ably articulate this except for what I hint at in the Lutheran view of evil, good and trust. Maybe someone else here wants to take this up. (Jesus looms largely as i speak) I understand these things in a deeply existential and poetic way, that i am not confident i could put out as talking points or by way of argument, only by way of description or illustration.

    So I am more interested in understanding your point of view and taking mental notes along the way with how this matches up to what I understand as true and trustworthy.

    (It might be good to take this offline at this point. I am not sure the blog is a suitable forum for such long entries that touch on so much. fwsonnek@gmail.com I want to be respectful here to our host and the other bloggers here. Maybe we can start a blog together or something….)

    I hope that is cool with you and you dont see that as a dodge or copout.

  • fwsonnek

    michael one more thought that is related:

    My ex pastor pointed out that God did not call the un-fallen creation perfect. (we seem to all want to add that gloss…) he simply said it was all “good”.

    If good is NOT the opposite of evil…hmmm deep.

    I add that in that “good” universe, there was still something that was not “good”. It was not good that man should be alone. So in a world that was all “good” there was still one thing that was not….

    I don´t see alot here that can be tied up with the neat bow that you see christians trying to construct.

    Then you have us Lutherans (when we act in character), responding to those abstract definitional questions and categories by simply pointing to Jesus and saying that He is LITERALLY the embodiment of TRUTH, LIFE, LIGHT, GOODNESS…..

    By doing so, we assert, in essence, that none of those categories mean anything at all apart from His profanely human, flesh and blood , omnipresence, omnipotence, and omniscience.

    I guess this is exactly the point where what you say all sort of makes sense and at the same time doesnt seem to matter to me. How odd. I run what you say through Jesus and I don´t see how the questions, that you say matter to christians or to you, really matter at all.

  • fwsonnek

    michael one more thought that is related:

    My ex pastor pointed out that God did not call the un-fallen creation perfect. (we seem to all want to add that gloss…) he simply said it was all “good”.

    If good is NOT the opposite of evil…hmmm deep.

    I add that in that “good” universe, there was still something that was not “good”. It was not good that man should be alone. So in a world that was all “good” there was still one thing that was not….

    I don´t see alot here that can be tied up with the neat bow that you see christians trying to construct.

    Then you have us Lutherans (when we act in character), responding to those abstract definitional questions and categories by simply pointing to Jesus and saying that He is LITERALLY the embodiment of TRUTH, LIFE, LIGHT, GOODNESS…..

    By doing so, we assert, in essence, that none of those categories mean anything at all apart from His profanely human, flesh and blood , omnipresence, omnipotence, and omniscience.

    I guess this is exactly the point where what you say all sort of makes sense and at the same time doesnt seem to matter to me. How odd. I run what you say through Jesus and I don´t see how the questions, that you say matter to christians or to you, really matter at all.

  • fwsonnek

    To be clear.. I am saying that Jesus is not merely an example of the truth, etc. He IS THE TRUTH. He IS LOVE. In a way that those things cannot exist without Him. How do I wrap what you say around that or relate that view in any way to what you are telling me?

  • fwsonnek

    To be clear.. I am saying that Jesus is not merely an example of the truth, etc. He IS THE TRUTH. He IS LOVE. In a way that those things cannot exist without Him. How do I wrap what you say around that or relate that view in any way to what you are telling me?

  • fwsonnek

    Michael:

    I wrote “Just because I make mistakes and am not always what some would define as good, does not make me a sinner.” You wrote “I agree entirely. In fact I would argue the opposite of that. We’re not sinners because we sin. We sin because we’re sinners.” Once again, circular reasoning, logical puzzles.

    I disagree with you here Michael. You might better have asked more questions or redirected. He injected something new into your discussion with him that is definitional and different than your own understanding of the categories christians hold to.

  • fwsonnek

    Michael:

    I wrote “Just because I make mistakes and am not always what some would define as good, does not make me a sinner.” You wrote “I agree entirely. In fact I would argue the opposite of that. We’re not sinners because we sin. We sin because we’re sinners.” Once again, circular reasoning, logical puzzles.

    I disagree with you here Michael. You might better have asked more questions or redirected. He injected something new into your discussion with him that is definitional and different than your own understanding of the categories christians hold to.

  • fwsonnek

    You are saying christians categorize your goodness or badness by what you do. ALLAN is saying that your personal classification as to goodness or badness has nothing whatsoever to do with your actions! that indicates different beat to different drummer, and not mere fred astaire tap moves to me. correct me if i am wrong here….

  • fwsonnek

    You are saying christians categorize your goodness or badness by what you do. ALLAN is saying that your personal classification as to goodness or badness has nothing whatsoever to do with your actions! that indicates different beat to different drummer, and not mere fred astaire tap moves to me. correct me if i am wrong here….

  • Joe

    I have read most of these posts and I think that one basic misunderstanding, or lack of clarification, that is flowing through the entire discussion is the failure to distinguish between Justification and Sanctification. I am still young in these concepts myself and would ask someone else to clarify them. It would seem they are important to this discussion.

  • Joe

    I have read most of these posts and I think that one basic misunderstanding, or lack of clarification, that is flowing through the entire discussion is the failure to distinguish between Justification and Sanctification. I am still young in these concepts myself and would ask someone else to clarify them. It would seem they are important to this discussion.

  • NewChristian

    sonnek, I think you’ve produced over a third of all the comments here, BY YOURSELF. Work on that logorrhea stuff.

  • NewChristian

    sonnek, I think you’ve produced over a third of all the comments here, BY YOURSELF. Work on that logorrhea stuff.

  • fwsonnek

    New Christian: Your critical comments are well made and so well recieved! Peace be with you my new christian brother! I see Christ’s work of sanctification already in you in your loving correction for me.

    Joe! (forgive me NewChristian!) this is for you:

    About Sanctification:

    Think Cruciform. In the form of the cross. With Jesus hanging right there in the middle. Dead for our sins. There is no way to get around Him or miss Him. All must pass through Him. He is the only way.

    In the vertical limb of that hideously lovely tree of life, THERE is Jesus, suspended between God and Man, God Himself yet true man. Our relationship to God is sure and certain. The relation is down, from God to us. Blood drips down. It tastes like sweet wine. There is no bitter vinegar here. It is not necessary. He drank it for us. Only sweet wine is left. We are utterly drenched by water and blood from a pierced side. We are free from judgement. We ARE washed.

    We Are SANCTIFIED! COMPLETELY! NOW! We are whole-y. We NOW have given to us ALL Christ has to give us. Jesus IS our sanctification. We died with Him there on the cross in our baptism so now we are raised up IN HIM to be full of good works We are free, because of His work, to recklessly focus on our relation to our neighbor. God now does His work through us. We are free to abound in good works because now we can focus on those around us as opposed to us piously staring at our spiritual navels wondering what we need to do to get right with God. We ARE right. We are right in a way that puts the “C” in COMPLETE.

    Now we are in the horizontal where Jesus arms are outstreached to embrace the world. You and me. Our neighbors.There are we on the right, at the right hand of the Father. His blood dripping on us, eager to serve our neighbor on the left side and longing for their presence on the right.

    We, em-passioned to go to out to them by the sight of His blood dripping too on them from His left handed wounds.

    But we first have to pass through Christ, be buried with Him, clothed with Him, hidden in Him. We have to die. There is no other way. And that death is a process. Moving on the security of the horizontal outstreached arms of our sweet Jesus, we have the Law as our schoolmaster to keep us on those arms. On Jesus arms, we see from our very existence and sometimes bitter, gall-filled experience, that we are Saints but we are also still sinners. We need Him always so. So we rejoice at correction and for that part of us not fully dead, we rejoice over the compulsion and threats of the law as good gift to kill and have dominion over that part of us that in so far as we are not reborn.

    we are im-passioned to move out, away from our own Self. We are drawn by the blood we see on our neighbor and our neighbor´s sin “spontaneously as if we knew of no command, threat, or reward.” (Formula of Concord)

    Like the “hero” who instinctively grabs a child out of harms way and then tells reporters “I didn´t really think, I just saw something and acted. I am no hero.”

    This is sanctification. It is nothing more…. and NOTHING less than the Crucified and Risen Lord.

    THIS is the Lord worthy to be praised. THIS is the Lord Who´s Death, Whose dying victory cry “It is finished!! you loudly preach and proclaim every time you eat His Body and drink His Blood until he visibly returns in Glory. This eating and drinking can now be understood to be the very highest act of sanctification that we will ever partake in.

    May you trust in this Lord Who reached out to you, through His Sanctification that He works in your neighbors, mysteriously, like salt. Like leaven in dough. Through whom He richly and daily blesses you with ALL you need, through whom He shines His face upon you and is gracious to you, through whom he calls, gathers, enlightens and keeps you, with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. With whom, you always pray, even in solitude when you say “Our Father….” And to whom you join your voice in the Divine Liturgy along with angels and archangels.

    Come Quickly Lord! Amen!

  • fwsonnek

    New Christian: Your critical comments are well made and so well recieved! Peace be with you my new christian brother! I see Christ’s work of sanctification already in you in your loving correction for me.

    Joe! (forgive me NewChristian!) this is for you:

    About Sanctification:

    Think Cruciform. In the form of the cross. With Jesus hanging right there in the middle. Dead for our sins. There is no way to get around Him or miss Him. All must pass through Him. He is the only way.

    In the vertical limb of that hideously lovely tree of life, THERE is Jesus, suspended between God and Man, God Himself yet true man. Our relationship to God is sure and certain. The relation is down, from God to us. Blood drips down. It tastes like sweet wine. There is no bitter vinegar here. It is not necessary. He drank it for us. Only sweet wine is left. We are utterly drenched by water and blood from a pierced side. We are free from judgement. We ARE washed.

    We Are SANCTIFIED! COMPLETELY! NOW! We are whole-y. We NOW have given to us ALL Christ has to give us. Jesus IS our sanctification. We died with Him there on the cross in our baptism so now we are raised up IN HIM to be full of good works We are free, because of His work, to recklessly focus on our relation to our neighbor. God now does His work through us. We are free to abound in good works because now we can focus on those around us as opposed to us piously staring at our spiritual navels wondering what we need to do to get right with God. We ARE right. We are right in a way that puts the “C” in COMPLETE.

    Now we are in the horizontal where Jesus arms are outstreached to embrace the world. You and me. Our neighbors.There are we on the right, at the right hand of the Father. His blood dripping on us, eager to serve our neighbor on the left side and longing for their presence on the right.

    We, em-passioned to go to out to them by the sight of His blood dripping too on them from His left handed wounds.

    But we first have to pass through Christ, be buried with Him, clothed with Him, hidden in Him. We have to die. There is no other way. And that death is a process. Moving on the security of the horizontal outstreached arms of our sweet Jesus, we have the Law as our schoolmaster to keep us on those arms. On Jesus arms, we see from our very existence and sometimes bitter, gall-filled experience, that we are Saints but we are also still sinners. We need Him always so. So we rejoice at correction and for that part of us not fully dead, we rejoice over the compulsion and threats of the law as good gift to kill and have dominion over that part of us that in so far as we are not reborn.

    we are im-passioned to move out, away from our own Self. We are drawn by the blood we see on our neighbor and our neighbor´s sin “spontaneously as if we knew of no command, threat, or reward.” (Formula of Concord)

    Like the “hero” who instinctively grabs a child out of harms way and then tells reporters “I didn´t really think, I just saw something and acted. I am no hero.”

    This is sanctification. It is nothing more…. and NOTHING less than the Crucified and Risen Lord.

    THIS is the Lord worthy to be praised. THIS is the Lord Who´s Death, Whose dying victory cry “It is finished!! you loudly preach and proclaim every time you eat His Body and drink His Blood until he visibly returns in Glory. This eating and drinking can now be understood to be the very highest act of sanctification that we will ever partake in.

    May you trust in this Lord Who reached out to you, through His Sanctification that He works in your neighbors, mysteriously, like salt. Like leaven in dough. Through whom He richly and daily blesses you with ALL you need, through whom He shines His face upon you and is gracious to you, through whom he calls, gathers, enlightens and keeps you, with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. With whom, you always pray, even in solitude when you say “Our Father….” And to whom you join your voice in the Divine Liturgy along with angels and archangels.

    Come Quickly Lord! Amen!

  • fwsonnek

    Always distinguish, but never separate, Justification and Sanctification.

    A crucifix is highly recommended as a visual aid in doing this.

  • fwsonnek

    Always distinguish, but never separate, Justification and Sanctification.

    A crucifix is highly recommended as a visual aid in doing this.

  • fwsonnek

    Sanctification is an article of faith. not something that can be seen.

    Trust God´s promise then, that He IS working sanctification in you for the benefit of your neighbor.

  • fwsonnek

    Sanctification is an article of faith. not something that can be seen.

    Trust God´s promise then, that He IS working sanctification in you for the benefit of your neighbor.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17639370291865261582 Cindy

    Frank,

    WOW to comment #50. Your description of sanctification is extraordinary–so different than how we usually hear it, so beautiful, so comforting. The image of Jesus on the cross and all that it brings to mind for you will be on my mind the next time I receive the Lord’s Supper.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17639370291865261582 Cindy

    Frank,

    WOW to comment #50. Your description of sanctification is extraordinary–so different than how we usually hear it, so beautiful, so comforting. The image of Jesus on the cross and all that it brings to mind for you will be on my mind the next time I receive the Lord’s Supper.

  • Michael the little boot

    Not to put too fine a point on it; but is there a way to KNOW anything that God SAYS without the Bible(using caps instead of quotes so as not to offend)? What does this mean for the other holy books of the world? What is the criteria used to distinguish that the Bible is the inspired word of God and another book is not? And is Christianity the only way to redeem your soul?

    It may not seem that this has any bearing on this discussion. I’d like clarification just in case there are any others like me reading these comments who happen to be silent. Because some writers here seem to think one way about it, and others…well, I’m not so sure. I’ve become confused.

    For example: Siems seems to have confidence in the inerrancy of scripture, whereas Frank seems to swim in mystery. Where are we on the spectrum of belief when it comes to this?

  • Michael the little boot

    Not to put too fine a point on it; but is there a way to KNOW anything that God SAYS without the Bible(using caps instead of quotes so as not to offend)? What does this mean for the other holy books of the world? What is the criteria used to distinguish that the Bible is the inspired word of God and another book is not? And is Christianity the only way to redeem your soul?

    It may not seem that this has any bearing on this discussion. I’d like clarification just in case there are any others like me reading these comments who happen to be silent. Because some writers here seem to think one way about it, and others…well, I’m not so sure. I’ve become confused.

    For example: Siems seems to have confidence in the inerrancy of scripture, whereas Frank seems to swim in mystery. Where are we on the spectrum of belief when it comes to this?

  • Michael the little boot

    Oh, and I forgot to mention Frank’s comment on my tap-dancing remark: allen didn’t introduce anything new to the discussion in mentioning this. He phrased it as one of those clever word puzzles. He didn’t say our personal definitions don’t affect our actions. He just played flip-flop with the words. You put the puzzle in context. I only know this because, since I was raised in the church, I am well aware of this sort of tactic. My mom recently gave me a story attributed to Albert Einstein wherein a young student Einstein stuns his professor by disproving the existence of Evil. Full of fallacious logic. But it’s a common thing to mischaracterize a famous scientist as being religious. People do it to Darwin as well (I’m sure you’ve all heard of the myth of Darwin’s death-bed conversion).

    I agree that our personal definitions of good and bad have nothing to do with our actions. That is, in fact, what I’VE been saying this whole time. We define things as we’d like so that we can make sense of the world. Sometimes those definitions jive with reality and sometimes they do not. When they do not, it is responsible to leave them behind. It is not responsible to continue to believe them and to make up elaborate justifications for why the belief persists in the face of evidence to the contrary.

    The only thing near as bad as that, in my opinion, is reinterpreting the old beliefs as metaphors once their literal truth has been shown to be shaky at best, and then saying that’s how God meant it all along. Once again, harmonization!

    (Don’t take this to mean that I don’t like allegorical interpretations of religion. I like that view. I just don’t think of it as a religious view.)

    Of course, I also agree that we should cease to discuss here if it becomes too one-sided. So does that mean we keep going until the only posts that remain are ours? I’d like to have more blood in the veins than just ours, though, so I will continue to post here as long as people respond.

    I know it may seem like I’m fighting with all of you, but I don’t mean to be. I just like to discuss. I consider myself a sportsman of conversation. So I equally consider it insulting not to bring my A game! Love that we have a group here that doesn’t shrink from debate.

  • Michael the little boot

    Oh, and I forgot to mention Frank’s comment on my tap-dancing remark: allen didn’t introduce anything new to the discussion in mentioning this. He phrased it as one of those clever word puzzles. He didn’t say our personal definitions don’t affect our actions. He just played flip-flop with the words. You put the puzzle in context. I only know this because, since I was raised in the church, I am well aware of this sort of tactic. My mom recently gave me a story attributed to Albert Einstein wherein a young student Einstein stuns his professor by disproving the existence of Evil. Full of fallacious logic. But it’s a common thing to mischaracterize a famous scientist as being religious. People do it to Darwin as well (I’m sure you’ve all heard of the myth of Darwin’s death-bed conversion).

    I agree that our personal definitions of good and bad have nothing to do with our actions. That is, in fact, what I’VE been saying this whole time. We define things as we’d like so that we can make sense of the world. Sometimes those definitions jive with reality and sometimes they do not. When they do not, it is responsible to leave them behind. It is not responsible to continue to believe them and to make up elaborate justifications for why the belief persists in the face of evidence to the contrary.

    The only thing near as bad as that, in my opinion, is reinterpreting the old beliefs as metaphors once their literal truth has been shown to be shaky at best, and then saying that’s how God meant it all along. Once again, harmonization!

    (Don’t take this to mean that I don’t like allegorical interpretations of religion. I like that view. I just don’t think of it as a religious view.)

    Of course, I also agree that we should cease to discuss here if it becomes too one-sided. So does that mean we keep going until the only posts that remain are ours? I’d like to have more blood in the veins than just ours, though, so I will continue to post here as long as people respond.

    I know it may seem like I’m fighting with all of you, but I don’t mean to be. I just like to discuss. I consider myself a sportsman of conversation. So I equally consider it insulting not to bring my A game! Love that we have a group here that doesn’t shrink from debate.

  • fwsonnek

    Michael I didn´t serve you well here. What allan said has a deep background and is perhaps too much shorthand.

    it is not about our personal definitions of good or bad, our ideals (I think you are saying), not agreeing with our actions. It is utterly different than that. I am pretty sure there is a misunderstanding here. bear with me and see if you agree after this….

    All religions seem to measure our goodness or badness by what our mouths and hands do, or if they are more clever they include our hearts and hands in this, but not usually. What we do and say is held against some moral measuring stick that measures well, … how our deeds “measure up”!

    Most religions are in fact about OrthoPRAXY (right doing. right actions) .

    Lutheranism and alot of christians are about, in deep contrast , OrthoDOXY (right thinking or believing).

    True, Roman Catholics say it is about faith AND the works that flow from them, bapt-icostals say its about faith…. AND repentance (=stop sinning! or at least try your best to do that…).

    Lutherans see roman catholics and bapt-icostals as lookin pretty much both like OrthoPRAXY in the critical pass/fail element of those religions.

    The take thingsin a different and radical direction. They say it is trust in Jesus AND (drum roll please…) … nothing at all. Pure orthoDOXY. “Right Trusting” or better Trusting in something trustworthy. period.

    Read my post on sanctification earlier to go to those deeper levels only if it interest you Michael.

    Lutherans (along with the Bible) say that a tree (you) is not haywire beCAUSE the fruit (your thoughts, words, and deeds) are haywire. They assert that your fruit is merely symptomatic. Your fruit is haywire because of the haywire-ness of the tree that the fruit comes from.

    So Lutherans dont focus on “fixing you” somehow by making you stop doing whatever it is you are doing that is haywire according to some religious yardstick. As in WWJD. They believe you have to actually drop dead to that idea. literally. Lutherans are hostile to the whole concept of WWJD. dealing with the fruit would be to deal with mere symptoms. to whitewash a sepulcher so to speak. Not ‘Try your best’

    You simply need to die. Imagine a doctor prescribing THAT as a cure to your diagnosed cancer. Okaaaay. this is wierd yes?

    This is what Allen was expressing. It is not merely a tap dance or a play on what you are saying I don´t think Michael.

    Even this is the short version of what Allan is expressing. to see if we agree or disagree we would have to probably go one or two levels deeper as to how Lutherans arrive at this conclusion.

    I am giving you the conclusion here and not the argument or rationale for it, which you would need for you to assess whether it is a worthy idea or not, is what I am saying.

    I do believe though that this perspective IS different than what any baptist or penticostal church that I know of would ever teach however.

    In fact ALL religions i know of from Buddhist to jewish to muslim to most christians say the path to holiness or nirvana or whatever is right actions. OrthoPRAXY. the christian walk. the spirit filled life. WWJD. The boy scout oath.

    Christians may SAY that it is about Jesus, but that seems just the teaser toaster oven premium to get you to make the deposit in their bank.

    Once you are in, you hear that “faith and repentance” are the things you need to effect within your own self to be saved. In essense that looks to me like you need to be your own savior. Repentence is learning to say the Pharisees prayer. as in “I WAS such a sinner but Lawdy LOOK at the progress I have made!”

    The sinner needs to learn how to pray the pharisee´s prayer they are saying once he is in.

    Why are these good christian people itching to send the Publican, the tax collector, back with the Pharisee’s speech in his pocket?”

    As Robert Capon puts it: The answer is we fear salvation that is so cheap that it saves everyone in his or her death. Death. Death of sin, death of disaster, dead of grief. That is where God works. God works in the losers of the world. He works in all of us. What it means, the reason we fear it so much, is that it means in the long run that death is catholic. Death is universal. Death gets us all, and if death is the only ticket anyone needs into the reconciliation in Jesus and if everybody has that ticket, then God has no taste. God is vulgar. God is indiscriminate. God is immoral. He lets in Hitler because He forgives Hitler’s sins. He does, in Jesus. He lets in my brother-in-law. He lets in me. He lets in you. All we have to do is trust it, not earn it.

    We have a God, in Jesus’ proclamation, a God who couldn’t get a union card in the God union, who couldn’t make it because we have set up the rules for God. A God has to be a punisher; a God has to be a judge; a God has to be a respectable God. He has to do all the things that enforce morality, and God doesn’t. On the cross, in Jesus, He drops dead to the whole subject of sin and shuts up about the whole subject of condemnation. It is over. As St. Paul says in the beginning of the 8th Chapter of Romans: “There is, therefore, now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”

  • fwsonnek

    Michael I didn´t serve you well here. What allan said has a deep background and is perhaps too much shorthand.

    it is not about our personal definitions of good or bad, our ideals (I think you are saying), not agreeing with our actions. It is utterly different than that. I am pretty sure there is a misunderstanding here. bear with me and see if you agree after this….

    All religions seem to measure our goodness or badness by what our mouths and hands do, or if they are more clever they include our hearts and hands in this, but not usually. What we do and say is held against some moral measuring stick that measures well, … how our deeds “measure up”!

    Most religions are in fact about OrthoPRAXY (right doing. right actions) .

    Lutheranism and alot of christians are about, in deep contrast , OrthoDOXY (right thinking or believing).

    True, Roman Catholics say it is about faith AND the works that flow from them, bapt-icostals say its about faith…. AND repentance (=stop sinning! or at least try your best to do that…).

    Lutherans see roman catholics and bapt-icostals as lookin pretty much both like OrthoPRAXY in the critical pass/fail element of those religions.

    The take thingsin a different and radical direction. They say it is trust in Jesus AND (drum roll please…) … nothing at all. Pure orthoDOXY. “Right Trusting” or better Trusting in something trustworthy. period.

    Read my post on sanctification earlier to go to those deeper levels only if it interest you Michael.

    Lutherans (along with the Bible) say that a tree (you) is not haywire beCAUSE the fruit (your thoughts, words, and deeds) are haywire. They assert that your fruit is merely symptomatic. Your fruit is haywire because of the haywire-ness of the tree that the fruit comes from.

    So Lutherans dont focus on “fixing you” somehow by making you stop doing whatever it is you are doing that is haywire according to some religious yardstick. As in WWJD. They believe you have to actually drop dead to that idea. literally. Lutherans are hostile to the whole concept of WWJD. dealing with the fruit would be to deal with mere symptoms. to whitewash a sepulcher so to speak. Not ‘Try your best’

    You simply need to die. Imagine a doctor prescribing THAT as a cure to your diagnosed cancer. Okaaaay. this is wierd yes?

    This is what Allen was expressing. It is not merely a tap dance or a play on what you are saying I don´t think Michael.

    Even this is the short version of what Allan is expressing. to see if we agree or disagree we would have to probably go one or two levels deeper as to how Lutherans arrive at this conclusion.

    I am giving you the conclusion here and not the argument or rationale for it, which you would need for you to assess whether it is a worthy idea or not, is what I am saying.

    I do believe though that this perspective IS different than what any baptist or penticostal church that I know of would ever teach however.

    In fact ALL religions i know of from Buddhist to jewish to muslim to most christians say the path to holiness or nirvana or whatever is right actions. OrthoPRAXY. the christian walk. the spirit filled life. WWJD. The boy scout oath.

    Christians may SAY that it is about Jesus, but that seems just the teaser toaster oven premium to get you to make the deposit in their bank.

    Once you are in, you hear that “faith and repentance” are the things you need to effect within your own self to be saved. In essense that looks to me like you need to be your own savior. Repentence is learning to say the Pharisees prayer. as in “I WAS such a sinner but Lawdy LOOK at the progress I have made!”

    The sinner needs to learn how to pray the pharisee´s prayer they are saying once he is in.

    Why are these good christian people itching to send the Publican, the tax collector, back with the Pharisee’s speech in his pocket?”

    As Robert Capon puts it: The answer is we fear salvation that is so cheap that it saves everyone in his or her death. Death. Death of sin, death of disaster, dead of grief. That is where God works. God works in the losers of the world. He works in all of us. What it means, the reason we fear it so much, is that it means in the long run that death is catholic. Death is universal. Death gets us all, and if death is the only ticket anyone needs into the reconciliation in Jesus and if everybody has that ticket, then God has no taste. God is vulgar. God is indiscriminate. God is immoral. He lets in Hitler because He forgives Hitler’s sins. He does, in Jesus. He lets in my brother-in-law. He lets in me. He lets in you. All we have to do is trust it, not earn it.

    We have a God, in Jesus’ proclamation, a God who couldn’t get a union card in the God union, who couldn’t make it because we have set up the rules for God. A God has to be a punisher; a God has to be a judge; a God has to be a respectable God. He has to do all the things that enforce morality, and God doesn’t. On the cross, in Jesus, He drops dead to the whole subject of sin and shuts up about the whole subject of condemnation. It is over. As St. Paul says in the beginning of the 8th Chapter of Romans: “There is, therefore, now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”

  • fwsonnek

    Michael:

    “Not to put too fine a point on it; but is there a way to KNOW anything that God SAYS without the Bible(using caps instead of quotes so as not to offend)?

    Yes.

    What does this mean for the other holy books of the world?

    Nothing I can think of.

    What is the criteria used to distinguish that the Bible is the inspired word of God and another book is not?

    Three things:
    The Life, death, and resurrection of Jesus who claimed to be the Eternal God and Creator of the universe.

    And is Christianity the only way to redeem your soul?”

    Christianity and the bible can´t save my soul.

    But I trust in Jesus.

    “Save” doesn´t mean anything without a context.

    Save you from what Michael? Whatcha got in mind?

    It may not seem that this has any bearing on this discussion. ”

    This is actually RIGHT on point Michael. How did we get here?

  • fwsonnek

    Michael:

    “Not to put too fine a point on it; but is there a way to KNOW anything that God SAYS without the Bible(using caps instead of quotes so as not to offend)?

    Yes.

    What does this mean for the other holy books of the world?

    Nothing I can think of.

    What is the criteria used to distinguish that the Bible is the inspired word of God and another book is not?

    Three things:
    The Life, death, and resurrection of Jesus who claimed to be the Eternal God and Creator of the universe.

    And is Christianity the only way to redeem your soul?”

    Christianity and the bible can´t save my soul.

    But I trust in Jesus.

    “Save” doesn´t mean anything without a context.

    Save you from what Michael? Whatcha got in mind?

    It may not seem that this has any bearing on this discussion. ”

    This is actually RIGHT on point Michael. How did we get here?

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank,

    I’ll go right past right belief or right practice. I’ll go straight to being. Which is where I think your “backwards” God lives. I like this idea of God, all of the acceptance. Except I don’t think this God goes far enough. He forgives everything for everyone (which is not what I take issue with–I like this part) and leaves us with sin, and our sin nature needing to be forgiven. Once we don’t need to appease his anger or please him with our best gifts as was once thought, and once we don’t have to say the magical prayer, we’re still left with being saved.

    And even if we only have to trust Jesus to be saved, we still have to do something. Not just believe in trust, but trust actually. Which begs the question: what happens to those who don’t trust Jesus?

    Don’t we need to be saved because we want to be saved? What have we done to feel so bad about ourselves? Are we murderers or child molesters or sitcom writers? Why do we think so poorly of ourselves? Could God in Jesus have been saying to us “Let this old self die, and let me resurrect your true self: the you that accepts you as I made you, rather than feeling the need for perpetual salvation”?

    Can’t we rise from the dead? Stop using the death metaphor–being so down on ourselves for something your Capon pretty much does away with–and start using the resurrection? We only need Jesus to take away our “sin” (the separation of ourselves from ourselves…who said that?) until we can allow it to evaporate into the nothingness it is.

    Problem for me is, I’m arguing in hypothetical terms. I don’t believe in sin or redemption or any of these things. I’m not asking from what evil curse God is trying to save me. I’m asking you: what for what are you seeking salvation? The context is earth, humanity, now. These changing “seconds,” “moments.”

    So if you can know anything God says without the Bible…how?

    Let me ask you this: if anyone else claimed to be the Eternal God and Creator of the universe (assuming Jesus never existed) and left nothing of himself or herself on the earth but a few books written by others, wouldn’t you ask for some more proof? And as for those claims, they disagree with each other. I mean, I can interpret them metaphorically or allegorically once again, but I can’t pick and choose what is actual historical fact and what is symbolic. I’m just saying, it’s a book that you put faith in. Why? If you can’t give me reasons other than your personal experience–not that it’s not a reason for YOU to believe, as it surely is–what would you like me to base my acceptance on, if not your story?

    What I’m saying–which I think is actually a statement of a simple, observable idea, but that will probably be misinterpreted–is that I’m not convinced, because you haven’t shown me a Jesus who can do anything for me I can’t do for myself. Forgive my sins? Done–they never existed in the first place. And I think that’s all you said Jesus does.

    I think sin is a construct manufactured to make people feel bad about themselves. And it works really well. But you know what? You don’t need it. You can feel good about yourself. You can stop thinking you are worthless and pathetic. You know how? Do it. Accept that it is not the case. You are fine. You’re okay. The world doesn’t want you to believe that. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. Just look at me. I’ve overcome the world’s view of me.

    And you, too, can overcome the world’s view of you.

    (or “it ain’t hubris to be what you are, and it ain’t sinnin’ neither.”)

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank,

    I’ll go right past right belief or right practice. I’ll go straight to being. Which is where I think your “backwards” God lives. I like this idea of God, all of the acceptance. Except I don’t think this God goes far enough. He forgives everything for everyone (which is not what I take issue with–I like this part) and leaves us with sin, and our sin nature needing to be forgiven. Once we don’t need to appease his anger or please him with our best gifts as was once thought, and once we don’t have to say the magical prayer, we’re still left with being saved.

    And even if we only have to trust Jesus to be saved, we still have to do something. Not just believe in trust, but trust actually. Which begs the question: what happens to those who don’t trust Jesus?

    Don’t we need to be saved because we want to be saved? What have we done to feel so bad about ourselves? Are we murderers or child molesters or sitcom writers? Why do we think so poorly of ourselves? Could God in Jesus have been saying to us “Let this old self die, and let me resurrect your true self: the you that accepts you as I made you, rather than feeling the need for perpetual salvation”?

    Can’t we rise from the dead? Stop using the death metaphor–being so down on ourselves for something your Capon pretty much does away with–and start using the resurrection? We only need Jesus to take away our “sin” (the separation of ourselves from ourselves…who said that?) until we can allow it to evaporate into the nothingness it is.

    Problem for me is, I’m arguing in hypothetical terms. I don’t believe in sin or redemption or any of these things. I’m not asking from what evil curse God is trying to save me. I’m asking you: what for what are you seeking salvation? The context is earth, humanity, now. These changing “seconds,” “moments.”

    So if you can know anything God says without the Bible…how?

    Let me ask you this: if anyone else claimed to be the Eternal God and Creator of the universe (assuming Jesus never existed) and left nothing of himself or herself on the earth but a few books written by others, wouldn’t you ask for some more proof? And as for those claims, they disagree with each other. I mean, I can interpret them metaphorically or allegorically once again, but I can’t pick and choose what is actual historical fact and what is symbolic. I’m just saying, it’s a book that you put faith in. Why? If you can’t give me reasons other than your personal experience–not that it’s not a reason for YOU to believe, as it surely is–what would you like me to base my acceptance on, if not your story?

    What I’m saying–which I think is actually a statement of a simple, observable idea, but that will probably be misinterpreted–is that I’m not convinced, because you haven’t shown me a Jesus who can do anything for me I can’t do for myself. Forgive my sins? Done–they never existed in the first place. And I think that’s all you said Jesus does.

    I think sin is a construct manufactured to make people feel bad about themselves. And it works really well. But you know what? You don’t need it. You can feel good about yourself. You can stop thinking you are worthless and pathetic. You know how? Do it. Accept that it is not the case. You are fine. You’re okay. The world doesn’t want you to believe that. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. Just look at me. I’ve overcome the world’s view of me.

    And you, too, can overcome the world’s view of you.

    (or “it ain’t hubris to be what you are, and it ain’t sinnin’ neither.”)

  • Rev. Paul T. McCain

    “Because you have taken hold of Christ by faith, through whom you are righteous, you should now go and love God and your neighbor. Call upon God, give thanks to Him, preach Him, praise Him, confess Him. Do good to your neighbor, and serve him; do your duty. These are truly good works, which flow from this faith and joy conceived in the heart because we have the forgiveness of sins freely through Christ.”

    Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, 26: 133

  • Rev. Paul T. McCain

    “Because you have taken hold of Christ by faith, through whom you are righteous, you should now go and love God and your neighbor. Call upon God, give thanks to Him, preach Him, praise Him, confess Him. Do good to your neighbor, and serve him; do your duty. These are truly good works, which flow from this faith and joy conceived in the heart because we have the forgiveness of sins freely through Christ.”

    Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, 26: 133

  • Bror Erickson

    Michael the little boot,
    What would you think if Charles Manson had the same view about himself that you do? The view that you assume everyone should have of themselves. No sin? Really? Nothing to feel guilty for? Really? Nothing to be saved from? Good for you. I’m glad to hear it. No you don’t need Jesus. I’m sure of it. Those who are well don’t need a physician.
    But the rest of us out here in the real world, we see our impending death. We see the world around us, and we know we are guilty of sin. We know we haven’t loved our neighbors as ourselves, to say nothing of the God we slander daily with our unloving hearts. I suppose you never walked by a bum on the street and thought bad of him for being a drunk or a drug addict, without ever having attempted the mile long walk in his shoes. Refused to give them the spare change in your pocket, because you needed that to buy a candy bar, a pack of cigarrettes, or 40 for yourself. I have. I suppose no one has ever done something wrong to you, something for which you refused to forgive them. Even though you have probably done something on par to someone else and wanted forgiveness. I’ve been there.
    Most of us in this world know that we are part and parcel of the problem in the world. I suppose you don’t watch the news. Turn the tellie on, watch the news for a moment. How many murders were committed in your home town last night? How many rapes? I suppose your world, though, is without problems. Mine is full of them. Yeah, I heard I create my own reality. So I figure I must be one massochistic S.O.B. Because my reality sucks. I have learned to be a little happier, to not be as angry as I was as a teenage punk. But the reality is the same. And I know I’m as guilty as anyone else living in this world. But I’m glad to hear your not.
    I am also glad to know that Jesus saved me despite my sin, despite my guilt. I am glad to know that Jesus forgave my sin when He said “forgive them father, they know not what they do.” And I’m glad that when my positive thinking failed to change reality, Christ’s Cross did. For the reality was, I was a sinner in need of a savior. Now the reality is, I’m a saint because I have a Savior. A savior who came down and walked this messed up world with me, and for me. A savior who had no reason to be here, but love for you and me. A savior who took my place on the cross, and though he was innocent, died in my place, who refused to come down off the cross until all was accomplished in His death. But then on the third day sat up in his grave, threw the stone door open, and walked upright out of His tomb, to show the world what he had in store for them, victory over death. He did that so that when I’m done in this screwed up world I evidently created for myself, I can go live with him in a better one, forever. Oh, and he would like you there too.

  • Bror Erickson

    Michael the little boot,
    What would you think if Charles Manson had the same view about himself that you do? The view that you assume everyone should have of themselves. No sin? Really? Nothing to feel guilty for? Really? Nothing to be saved from? Good for you. I’m glad to hear it. No you don’t need Jesus. I’m sure of it. Those who are well don’t need a physician.
    But the rest of us out here in the real world, we see our impending death. We see the world around us, and we know we are guilty of sin. We know we haven’t loved our neighbors as ourselves, to say nothing of the God we slander daily with our unloving hearts. I suppose you never walked by a bum on the street and thought bad of him for being a drunk or a drug addict, without ever having attempted the mile long walk in his shoes. Refused to give them the spare change in your pocket, because you needed that to buy a candy bar, a pack of cigarrettes, or 40 for yourself. I have. I suppose no one has ever done something wrong to you, something for which you refused to forgive them. Even though you have probably done something on par to someone else and wanted forgiveness. I’ve been there.
    Most of us in this world know that we are part and parcel of the problem in the world. I suppose you don’t watch the news. Turn the tellie on, watch the news for a moment. How many murders were committed in your home town last night? How many rapes? I suppose your world, though, is without problems. Mine is full of them. Yeah, I heard I create my own reality. So I figure I must be one massochistic S.O.B. Because my reality sucks. I have learned to be a little happier, to not be as angry as I was as a teenage punk. But the reality is the same. And I know I’m as guilty as anyone else living in this world. But I’m glad to hear your not.
    I am also glad to know that Jesus saved me despite my sin, despite my guilt. I am glad to know that Jesus forgave my sin when He said “forgive them father, they know not what they do.” And I’m glad that when my positive thinking failed to change reality, Christ’s Cross did. For the reality was, I was a sinner in need of a savior. Now the reality is, I’m a saint because I have a Savior. A savior who came down and walked this messed up world with me, and for me. A savior who had no reason to be here, but love for you and me. A savior who took my place on the cross, and though he was innocent, died in my place, who refused to come down off the cross until all was accomplished in His death. But then on the third day sat up in his grave, threw the stone door open, and walked upright out of His tomb, to show the world what he had in store for them, victory over death. He did that so that when I’m done in this screwed up world I evidently created for myself, I can go live with him in a better one, forever. Oh, and he would like you there too.

  • fwsonnek

    Rev McCain:

    Yes!

    And, by faith (ie, not by sight), we believe, teach, and confess that those works Dr Luther extolls DO come “spontaneously as if we knew of no command, threat, or reward.” …. ” insofar as they are are reborn…”(Formula of Concord)

    To paraphrase the holy apostle St James: “We are alive so we DO breathe.” Faith=living body and works=breath. The Formula simply restates this.

    as contrasted to a calvinist looking for, visible, signs of being of the elect in and among each other :

    “If we are alive we SHOULD BE breathing.” Which sounds like a doctor looking for vital signs…

    Lutherans, therefore (!) don´t offer Lamaz-style “breathing classes” as the evangelicals do with their WWJD and endless “how to” sermons and tapes.

    The living don´t need to be instructed to breathe or how to breathe better.

    Now:

    In so far as the regenerate are NOT reborn, they need the threats and proddings of the law.

    The regenerate now receives ALSO those threats and proddings of the Law as good gift and joyfully, to subjugate and kill the remaining Old Adam, AGAIN… insofar as he is reborn, as the formula puts it.

    This new attitude, one of true repentance, can ONLY exist in one who has been freed from the law and is no longer under the law.

  • fwsonnek

    Rev McCain:

    Yes!

    And, by faith (ie, not by sight), we believe, teach, and confess that those works Dr Luther extolls DO come “spontaneously as if we knew of no command, threat, or reward.” …. ” insofar as they are are reborn…”(Formula of Concord)

    To paraphrase the holy apostle St James: “We are alive so we DO breathe.” Faith=living body and works=breath. The Formula simply restates this.

    as contrasted to a calvinist looking for, visible, signs of being of the elect in and among each other :

    “If we are alive we SHOULD BE breathing.” Which sounds like a doctor looking for vital signs…

    Lutherans, therefore (!) don´t offer Lamaz-style “breathing classes” as the evangelicals do with their WWJD and endless “how to” sermons and tapes.

    The living don´t need to be instructed to breathe or how to breathe better.

    Now:

    In so far as the regenerate are NOT reborn, they need the threats and proddings of the law.

    The regenerate now receives ALSO those threats and proddings of the Law as good gift and joyfully, to subjugate and kill the remaining Old Adam, AGAIN… insofar as he is reborn, as the formula puts it.

    This new attitude, one of true repentance, can ONLY exist in one who has been freed from the law and is no longer under the law.

  • allen

    Michael,

    Back up there in #36, you wrote that God “blames us for his mistakes.”

    If you reckon that God coming down to earth and being born human and leading a perfect life and being tortured to death for it amounts to Him blaming us, then I would say that you have a strange conception of the idea of “blaming us.”

    If God had created people who were incapable of choosing wrong over right, that *would* be closer to your definition of an evil god. Or would you rather be some sort of robot? God is love. In a very real way, love is meaningless unless it is returned. God is not like some human collector who is “in love” with his collection of stamps or figurines or robots or whatever. It’s not that God “blames” anybody – that’s satan’s job. Rather He has “fixed” the situation which was caused by true love.

    You wrote in #58, “Except I don’t think this God goes far enough.” I suppose it is true that if one were only omniscient, he would be able rightly to say what he would do if he were also omnipotent. I leave such matters to the One Who is both.

  • allen

    Michael,

    Back up there in #36, you wrote that God “blames us for his mistakes.”

    If you reckon that God coming down to earth and being born human and leading a perfect life and being tortured to death for it amounts to Him blaming us, then I would say that you have a strange conception of the idea of “blaming us.”

    If God had created people who were incapable of choosing wrong over right, that *would* be closer to your definition of an evil god. Or would you rather be some sort of robot? God is love. In a very real way, love is meaningless unless it is returned. God is not like some human collector who is “in love” with his collection of stamps or figurines or robots or whatever. It’s not that God “blames” anybody – that’s satan’s job. Rather He has “fixed” the situation which was caused by true love.

    You wrote in #58, “Except I don’t think this God goes far enough.” I suppose it is true that if one were only omniscient, he would be able rightly to say what he would do if he were also omnipotent. I leave such matters to the One Who is both.

  • fwsonnek

    Rev McCain:

    You can well believe, that I , more than anyone else here, am not actually priviledged to see or feel that I “now go and love God” I see my lack of true love of God in just about everything I do, every minute of every day. It is depressing to see that the harder I try, the farther I seem to be away any claim to doing this.

    “and your neighbor.” Ok. let me get Luther right. So I in deep shit with God already and now I need to find somehow something left to love my neighbor too? Ok. that looks actually easier than loving God. But I only find, in trying to do this, that I am probably the biggest and most selfish a**h**e I know…. Yeah, I know how to slap a coat of paint on that in a way that I could produce alot of people that would tell you it ain´s so, and I wouldn’t have to pay them to tell you that. But they really have NO idea of the darkness that lurks in the depths of Frank Sonnek. So. so far your helpful quote from the Dr Luther means I am doubly and cosmicly F**ked. Excuse my french, but there are no polite words to describe my personal , er , shortcomings….

    As to the rest of the good Doctor´s list that you present to me here….

    “Call upon God (I usually forget or do this as a last resort after exhausting all other options that occur to me to be really honest), give thanks to Him (how can I do this when I am blind to most of the gifts he daily and richly gives me. I usually do the pitty party thang. It really doesnt work for me, but I still do it.), preach Him (you see here how miserable I am at that here on this blog AND on your own! Do you REALLY need to rub it in now?), praise Him (ok with THIS one I am getting some traction, he died for me, I can do this, but only out of tune), confess Him (THIS is ALL that is left to do for someone like me who honestly would whore after any other option but has run utterly out of any other viable ones…). Do good to your neighbor, and serve him (we already discussed this one, what´s in this for me I usually ask myself, to be honest); do your duty (I am really and truly toast here!). These are truly good works, which flow from this faith and joy conceived in the heart because we have the forgiveness of sins freely through Christ.”

    “Because you have taken hold of Christ by faith….”

    Pastor McCain. Maybe the truth is this. Maybe as a Gay man, my claims of love for Jesus are hollow and empty. Maybe it is true I have not taken hold of Christ by faith in any perceptable or meaningful way that would qualify me in ANY WAY WHATSOEVER to lift my head to God.

    A lutheran pastor, some 16 easters ago, after hearing my private confession and what all was going on in my life, in fact told me once that maybe my problem was that I had not repented enough. I think is was actually right. I begrudgingly admit that he is still right. If I need more repentance or the right kind of repentance, and repentence needs to be sincere and true and is about doing something, then I for sure am lost and should just fold and try to live life and try not to think about the God thing too much. I tried that one already, and the pain of living without Jesus just didn´t work for me.

    There is precious little evidence in my life that I have “taken hold” and alot of evidence that would damn me to hell in any court of law where they could somehow do a 24/7 videotape of what goes on in my body,mind and soul.

    I can only trust Jesus when He tells me that He would never turn me away. Even dogs like me get crumbs. I am willing to settle for that actually.

    If your whiping out a pack of doctrinal cards and doing a couple of one-handed cuts and an accordion shuffle and bridging them and fanning them out, I am not gonna pick a card because I know the house´s odds are against me.

    My plan is to fold, die, and at the last day fall prostrate before God and play my only ace card: I am going to ask if I can please hold Him to His word that I assumed, maybe presumed applied to me, when He sent someone into my life to tell me over again, every sunday and publicly “I, as a called and ordained servant of the word, forgive you ALL your sins. In the NAME of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

    Where does that leave you and I on this topic Pastor McCain?

  • fwsonnek

    Rev McCain:

    You can well believe, that I , more than anyone else here, am not actually priviledged to see or feel that I “now go and love God” I see my lack of true love of God in just about everything I do, every minute of every day. It is depressing to see that the harder I try, the farther I seem to be away any claim to doing this.

    “and your neighbor.” Ok. let me get Luther right. So I in deep shit with God already and now I need to find somehow something left to love my neighbor too? Ok. that looks actually easier than loving God. But I only find, in trying to do this, that I am probably the biggest and most selfish a**h**e I know…. Yeah, I know how to slap a coat of paint on that in a way that I could produce alot of people that would tell you it ain´s so, and I wouldn’t have to pay them to tell you that. But they really have NO idea of the darkness that lurks in the depths of Frank Sonnek. So. so far your helpful quote from the Dr Luther means I am doubly and cosmicly F**ked. Excuse my french, but there are no polite words to describe my personal , er , shortcomings….

    As to the rest of the good Doctor´s list that you present to me here….

    “Call upon God (I usually forget or do this as a last resort after exhausting all other options that occur to me to be really honest), give thanks to Him (how can I do this when I am blind to most of the gifts he daily and richly gives me. I usually do the pitty party thang. It really doesnt work for me, but I still do it.), preach Him (you see here how miserable I am at that here on this blog AND on your own! Do you REALLY need to rub it in now?), praise Him (ok with THIS one I am getting some traction, he died for me, I can do this, but only out of tune), confess Him (THIS is ALL that is left to do for someone like me who honestly would whore after any other option but has run utterly out of any other viable ones…). Do good to your neighbor, and serve him (we already discussed this one, what´s in this for me I usually ask myself, to be honest); do your duty (I am really and truly toast here!). These are truly good works, which flow from this faith and joy conceived in the heart because we have the forgiveness of sins freely through Christ.”

    “Because you have taken hold of Christ by faith….”

    Pastor McCain. Maybe the truth is this. Maybe as a Gay man, my claims of love for Jesus are hollow and empty. Maybe it is true I have not taken hold of Christ by faith in any perceptable or meaningful way that would qualify me in ANY WAY WHATSOEVER to lift my head to God.

    A lutheran pastor, some 16 easters ago, after hearing my private confession and what all was going on in my life, in fact told me once that maybe my problem was that I had not repented enough. I think is was actually right. I begrudgingly admit that he is still right. If I need more repentance or the right kind of repentance, and repentence needs to be sincere and true and is about doing something, then I for sure am lost and should just fold and try to live life and try not to think about the God thing too much. I tried that one already, and the pain of living without Jesus just didn´t work for me.

    There is precious little evidence in my life that I have “taken hold” and alot of evidence that would damn me to hell in any court of law where they could somehow do a 24/7 videotape of what goes on in my body,mind and soul.

    I can only trust Jesus when He tells me that He would never turn me away. Even dogs like me get crumbs. I am willing to settle for that actually.

    If your whiping out a pack of doctrinal cards and doing a couple of one-handed cuts and an accordion shuffle and bridging them and fanning them out, I am not gonna pick a card because I know the house´s odds are against me.

    My plan is to fold, die, and at the last day fall prostrate before God and play my only ace card: I am going to ask if I can please hold Him to His word that I assumed, maybe presumed applied to me, when He sent someone into my life to tell me over again, every sunday and publicly “I, as a called and ordained servant of the word, forgive you ALL your sins. In the NAME of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

    Where does that leave you and I on this topic Pastor McCain?

  • fwsonnek

    Rev McCain:

    Question:

    In your mind is the third use of the law meant to kill us?

    Is the third use “instructional” as in it is useful to teach us HOW to live a sanctified life, that is, fix our lives?

    Or is it “instructional” in that it identifies what good works are and are not, so we don´t invent our own, like not drinking booze or not smoking, or dancing, or playing cards, using off color language, or crawling up steps to some shrine on our bare knees. …. and so KILL our “roll-your-own” religious ideas of how to reach up to God?

    I would enjoy a response that is not a direct quote from the confessions in your own words if that is ok and if you choose to respond. I would actually like to understand you better. I have referred to the confessions already here privately.

  • fwsonnek

    Rev McCain:

    Question:

    In your mind is the third use of the law meant to kill us?

    Is the third use “instructional” as in it is useful to teach us HOW to live a sanctified life, that is, fix our lives?

    Or is it “instructional” in that it identifies what good works are and are not, so we don´t invent our own, like not drinking booze or not smoking, or dancing, or playing cards, using off color language, or crawling up steps to some shrine on our bare knees. …. and so KILL our “roll-your-own” religious ideas of how to reach up to God?

    I would enjoy a response that is not a direct quote from the confessions in your own words if that is ok and if you choose to respond. I would actually like to understand you better. I have referred to the confessions already here privately.

  • Michael the little boot

    Bror Erickson @ #60:

    Now that you’ve knocked down your straw man, please allow the actual man to restate the argument.

    I’m not sure if you’ve been following the entire discussion, because what you’ve said implies you don’t know where I stand on this issue (even though I reiterated my conception of sin in the post to which you responded): I don’t believe in sin. I think it’s a construct we’re taught in order to perpetuate the inferiority complex that facilitates the malleability of the masses. People like you and me and Charles Manson.

    I do not, however, believe there is no such thing as right and wrong. They are not legislated, so to speak, by a God nor mediated by any sort of reward/punishment machine. They are arrived at through a process that rivals natural selection in biological evolution. They are, in a sense, “decided on” by successive generations of a culture. The problem is, once they are arrived at, these ideas of right and wrong become laws and precepts, making them very hard to lose, let alone to throw out deliberately. And so they take on the air of being absolute, of having an eternal quality along the lines of a “natural law” whether they are or not. In my opinion, the idea of sin falls into this category.

    Do you think that I never feel guilty? Do you think I never regret a single thing that I’ve done? Do you think that I don’t see myself as part of the problem? You have drawn an erroneous conclusion from my statement, and proved a couple of my points in doing so. The first and most obvious is also included in the post to which you’ve replied: I knew someone would misunderstand me. I knew someone would think that I was saying that I never do a single negative thing, even though I’ve said the opposite more than once here. (I do understand there are quite a lot of words on this page and as many threads, so I don’t fault you for missing these statements; however, I must point out that you’ve missed them or my conduct wouldn’t be sportsmanlike!)

    The second is even better. The fact that you misunderstood me DESPITE my having said much to the contrary belies the possibility that YOUR DEFINITION OF THE WORD “SIN” could be what is causing you to miss my point. This construct has begun to have a second life outside your brain, and you see it everywhere, causing you to make assumptions about what I said. Because I never said “I have nothing to feel guilty about.” I never said “I always perfectly love my neighbor as myself.” I grew up in San Francisco, so you better believe I’ve been around plenty of homeless men and women that I could have cared for much better than I did. I’ve refused to forgive plenty of people. My world–this planet we all share–is FULL of problems, as you well know. But to me, none of this implies sin.

    You have inferred from my saying I do not sin that I do none of the things you would define as sin. I live in the same world you live in. I don’t believe in sin. But that does not mean that I am blind to reality. I see the murders. I see the disease. I know myself, what I think, feel, the dark things about me I don’t want people to know. I see what you see. All of the things you said I am denying, I acknowledge. But I do not call it sin, and I do not think it is anything for which we need forgiveness from God. It is what it is.

    There’s the difference: my reality DOESN’T suck. My reality just is. Not in a nihilistic sense, but in a sense that all of the value judgments I make about reality are mine. I don’t expect reality to conform to what I think about it. I don’t expect that the best reality will be without issues. I don’t expect any other reality than the one with which I am presented. I’m not saying there isn’t anything outside our “reality,” I’m just saying here I am. So I will BE here. Why would God place me here and my focus elsewhere? It would only make sense if there were any evidence that it is the case. And my point is I don’t see any.

    Very interesting, though, that you are the Christian here, and YOU are the one saying your reality sucks. Well, let me bear witness: reality only sucks if you have determined to have that sort of quality relationship with it.

    You go to extremes. “I’m a sinner. I’m a saint.” I sit on the fence (go ahead and jump on that metaphor if you want, I grew up in the church, I know you want to!), in the middle with all of the tension. I don’t call myself sinner or saint. I’m neither of those. I am.

    (Oooo…I bet you want to jump on that LAST one even more!)

  • Michael the little boot

    Bror Erickson @ #60:

    Now that you’ve knocked down your straw man, please allow the actual man to restate the argument.

    I’m not sure if you’ve been following the entire discussion, because what you’ve said implies you don’t know where I stand on this issue (even though I reiterated my conception of sin in the post to which you responded): I don’t believe in sin. I think it’s a construct we’re taught in order to perpetuate the inferiority complex that facilitates the malleability of the masses. People like you and me and Charles Manson.

    I do not, however, believe there is no such thing as right and wrong. They are not legislated, so to speak, by a God nor mediated by any sort of reward/punishment machine. They are arrived at through a process that rivals natural selection in biological evolution. They are, in a sense, “decided on” by successive generations of a culture. The problem is, once they are arrived at, these ideas of right and wrong become laws and precepts, making them very hard to lose, let alone to throw out deliberately. And so they take on the air of being absolute, of having an eternal quality along the lines of a “natural law” whether they are or not. In my opinion, the idea of sin falls into this category.

    Do you think that I never feel guilty? Do you think I never regret a single thing that I’ve done? Do you think that I don’t see myself as part of the problem? You have drawn an erroneous conclusion from my statement, and proved a couple of my points in doing so. The first and most obvious is also included in the post to which you’ve replied: I knew someone would misunderstand me. I knew someone would think that I was saying that I never do a single negative thing, even though I’ve said the opposite more than once here. (I do understand there are quite a lot of words on this page and as many threads, so I don’t fault you for missing these statements; however, I must point out that you’ve missed them or my conduct wouldn’t be sportsmanlike!)

    The second is even better. The fact that you misunderstood me DESPITE my having said much to the contrary belies the possibility that YOUR DEFINITION OF THE WORD “SIN” could be what is causing you to miss my point. This construct has begun to have a second life outside your brain, and you see it everywhere, causing you to make assumptions about what I said. Because I never said “I have nothing to feel guilty about.” I never said “I always perfectly love my neighbor as myself.” I grew up in San Francisco, so you better believe I’ve been around plenty of homeless men and women that I could have cared for much better than I did. I’ve refused to forgive plenty of people. My world–this planet we all share–is FULL of problems, as you well know. But to me, none of this implies sin.

    You have inferred from my saying I do not sin that I do none of the things you would define as sin. I live in the same world you live in. I don’t believe in sin. But that does not mean that I am blind to reality. I see the murders. I see the disease. I know myself, what I think, feel, the dark things about me I don’t want people to know. I see what you see. All of the things you said I am denying, I acknowledge. But I do not call it sin, and I do not think it is anything for which we need forgiveness from God. It is what it is.

    There’s the difference: my reality DOESN’T suck. My reality just is. Not in a nihilistic sense, but in a sense that all of the value judgments I make about reality are mine. I don’t expect reality to conform to what I think about it. I don’t expect that the best reality will be without issues. I don’t expect any other reality than the one with which I am presented. I’m not saying there isn’t anything outside our “reality,” I’m just saying here I am. So I will BE here. Why would God place me here and my focus elsewhere? It would only make sense if there were any evidence that it is the case. And my point is I don’t see any.

    Very interesting, though, that you are the Christian here, and YOU are the one saying your reality sucks. Well, let me bear witness: reality only sucks if you have determined to have that sort of quality relationship with it.

    You go to extremes. “I’m a sinner. I’m a saint.” I sit on the fence (go ahead and jump on that metaphor if you want, I grew up in the church, I know you want to!), in the middle with all of the tension. I don’t call myself sinner or saint. I’m neither of those. I am.

    (Oooo…I bet you want to jump on that LAST one even more!)

  • fwsonnek

    Michael:

    I read your latest post, and was missing something, so i went back through all your past posts…. what is your definition of sin? What is your definition of evil ? i would need to know that to know what it is that you don´t think exists… We need to agree on what we disagree on before we can say we disagree and address that.

    Thanks Michael! It’s been fun so far.

  • fwsonnek

    Michael:

    I read your latest post, and was missing something, so i went back through all your past posts…. what is your definition of sin? What is your definition of evil ? i would need to know that to know what it is that you don´t think exists… We need to agree on what we disagree on before we can say we disagree and address that.

    Thanks Michael! It’s been fun so far.

  • Bror Erickson

    michael the little boot,
    So why do you feel guilty? You see I don’t buy into your rational that these things only come up through the ages, that it is nothing more than a cultural construct to keep the masses down. (by the way where is you evidence for that.) I do believe that at times there is an element of that but that is not ALL there is to it.
    I have to confess I did come into the discussion half way, or maybe at the very end I don’t know. But I will also say this: I am not going to be as charitable as Frank here. I don’t care what your definition of sin is, you don’t believe in it so you don’t have a definition of it. You asked what you need to be saved from. I responded to that. Now, you can go on with your fairy tale of I’m o.k. your o.k. we have only done wrong to our fellow man, we haven’t sinned. But what you call wrong I call sin. You say, “I just am.” I believe you are just fooling yourself like an ostrich with his head in the sand. There’s a lion coming at you, and putting your head in the sand does nothing to change that reality.
    You feel guilty, why? I myself could almost care less about what society thinks is right or wrong. I really could care less about that. Why? because societies are routinely wrong, and only after they have killed off half the population of Jews do they understand they were wrong, and that only when they are on the wrong end of a gun. You want me to answer for why I think reality sucks, walk Bergen Belsen. Tell me if you come to a better conclusion about reality, after you see pictures of dead Jews stacked up like cordwood. Or is there nothing inherently wrong with that? Is that only a construct of society that says that’s wrong?
    Neither was it God’s will that reality on earth would be that way. Our ancestors in their naivity chose to make it that way. Would you or I make the same choice? I don’t really know. What I do know is they became infected with sin, and they have passed that on to me. I don’t need to look far to see the evidence that I have that same infection. Being a Christian far from makes everything hunky dory. But it does give us hope, hope for a better world to come. The ability to live in this world and hopefully bring some others with us to that other world. Hope that is more certain than the fact that my Dog will be happy to see me when I get home, and that is pretty certain. Hope based on a promise of man who rose from the grave and ascended into heaven. But it doesn’t allow me to where the rose colored glasses, and see reality in this world as being great.
    Sorry Michael, ignoring the evidence doesn’t make it go away.

  • Bror Erickson

    michael the little boot,
    So why do you feel guilty? You see I don’t buy into your rational that these things only come up through the ages, that it is nothing more than a cultural construct to keep the masses down. (by the way where is you evidence for that.) I do believe that at times there is an element of that but that is not ALL there is to it.
    I have to confess I did come into the discussion half way, or maybe at the very end I don’t know. But I will also say this: I am not going to be as charitable as Frank here. I don’t care what your definition of sin is, you don’t believe in it so you don’t have a definition of it. You asked what you need to be saved from. I responded to that. Now, you can go on with your fairy tale of I’m o.k. your o.k. we have only done wrong to our fellow man, we haven’t sinned. But what you call wrong I call sin. You say, “I just am.” I believe you are just fooling yourself like an ostrich with his head in the sand. There’s a lion coming at you, and putting your head in the sand does nothing to change that reality.
    You feel guilty, why? I myself could almost care less about what society thinks is right or wrong. I really could care less about that. Why? because societies are routinely wrong, and only after they have killed off half the population of Jews do they understand they were wrong, and that only when they are on the wrong end of a gun. You want me to answer for why I think reality sucks, walk Bergen Belsen. Tell me if you come to a better conclusion about reality, after you see pictures of dead Jews stacked up like cordwood. Or is there nothing inherently wrong with that? Is that only a construct of society that says that’s wrong?
    Neither was it God’s will that reality on earth would be that way. Our ancestors in their naivity chose to make it that way. Would you or I make the same choice? I don’t really know. What I do know is they became infected with sin, and they have passed that on to me. I don’t need to look far to see the evidence that I have that same infection. Being a Christian far from makes everything hunky dory. But it does give us hope, hope for a better world to come. The ability to live in this world and hopefully bring some others with us to that other world. Hope that is more certain than the fact that my Dog will be happy to see me when I get home, and that is pretty certain. Hope based on a promise of man who rose from the grave and ascended into heaven. But it doesn’t allow me to where the rose colored glasses, and see reality in this world as being great.
    Sorry Michael, ignoring the evidence doesn’t make it go away.

  • fwsonnek

    I´m ok. You´re ok. (typical drug addicts)

    I´m ok. you´re not ok. we can fix you. (religion)

    I´m not ok and you´re not ok and that´s ok. (existentialism?) (is this you Michael?)

    I´m not ok and you´re not ok. That is not ok. It can´t be fixed. We have a moral obligation to Palliate this situation, however Death is the only cure. (Apostolic Christianity).

  • fwsonnek

    I´m ok. You´re ok. (typical drug addicts)

    I´m ok. you´re not ok. we can fix you. (religion)

    I´m not ok and you´re not ok and that´s ok. (existentialism?) (is this you Michael?)

    I´m not ok and you´re not ok. That is not ok. It can´t be fixed. We have a moral obligation to Palliate this situation, however Death is the only cure. (Apostolic Christianity).

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank,

    I don’t have a definition of sin or of evil. I don’t deny that the things you are talking about exist, but I don’t call them anything. There are positive and negative things that happen, and, in my opinion, things that also happen within the spectrum between those two extremes. But I think that our thinking about this is skewed because of language. We have gotten too specific about description. I think we should learn to let things be.

    So, if you want to put me somewhere, I guess I am at least close to your “I’m not okay, you’re not okay and that’s okay.” But I’m really more “I am and you are and what is is, but I couldn’t put that into words more specifically than I have.”

    Of course, that idea could give Bror Erickson the WRONG idea. But I will respond to #67 as well as soon as I get home from work.

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank,

    I don’t have a definition of sin or of evil. I don’t deny that the things you are talking about exist, but I don’t call them anything. There are positive and negative things that happen, and, in my opinion, things that also happen within the spectrum between those two extremes. But I think that our thinking about this is skewed because of language. We have gotten too specific about description. I think we should learn to let things be.

    So, if you want to put me somewhere, I guess I am at least close to your “I’m not okay, you’re not okay and that’s okay.” But I’m really more “I am and you are and what is is, but I couldn’t put that into words more specifically than I have.”

    Of course, that idea could give Bror Erickson the WRONG idea. But I will respond to #67 as well as soon as I get home from work.

  • fwsonnek

    Michael:

    Interesting. From my posts you know I am down with Bror´s comment. Hes is a cool guy and more open minded than you think. give him a chance Michael.

    At the same time, I think I came to brasil to learn to “just be” and allow myself to experience life on life’s terms and not be so analytical and planned. stay in the moment. So it really struck me what you wrote. The interplay between language and things has been having me think alot lately.

    What you say actually suggests that we are maybe not specific enough rather than too specific actually perhaps.

    …maybe we don´t recognize or respect its limitations enough. I am trying to master portuguese for example. After a week, I still can not find a reasonable portugues translation that is the equivalent of “Jagged Edge.” I have even asked a few people who are professors of both portugues and english. they dont have a clue either. It does not mean that the thing does not exist here, there is simply no way I have found to say it.

    good stuff.

  • fwsonnek

    Michael:

    Interesting. From my posts you know I am down with Bror´s comment. Hes is a cool guy and more open minded than you think. give him a chance Michael.

    At the same time, I think I came to brasil to learn to “just be” and allow myself to experience life on life’s terms and not be so analytical and planned. stay in the moment. So it really struck me what you wrote. The interplay between language and things has been having me think alot lately.

    What you say actually suggests that we are maybe not specific enough rather than too specific actually perhaps.

    …maybe we don´t recognize or respect its limitations enough. I am trying to master portuguese for example. After a week, I still can not find a reasonable portugues translation that is the equivalent of “Jagged Edge.” I have even asked a few people who are professors of both portugues and english. they dont have a clue either. It does not mean that the thing does not exist here, there is simply no way I have found to say it.

    good stuff.

  • Michael the little boot

    Bror Erickson,

    You’re right. It is my belief that sin is a construct used to keep the masses down. I cannot support it. My mistake was saying “I think” rather than “I believe.” Thanks for keeping me sharp.

    I don’t think I ever said reality is great. I said reality is what it is, and I can’t define it in any sort of positive or negative way. You continue to mischaracterize my arguments. Frank says to give you a chance, so fine. But first I’m going to take you to task, because I’m not as nice as he is, either.

    I feel guilty from time to time because, even though you would like to believe it is not the case, I have no religion and yet have morals and ethics. I get these from the way I am taught to treat my fellow human beings in the context of society, but I also choose them myself. Like my personal belief in the idea that there should be equality of treatment across all races, genders, creeds, sexual orientations AND SPECIES regardless of equality of ability. I formed that opinion myself. It was influenced, of course. Who can escape influence? But it is uniquely mine because of the amalgamation of influences in addition to my brain.

    You say I have my head in the sand. How so? Because I don’t believe in something for which there is no evidence? You keep making unsupported statements like they are evidence, but that doesn’t make them so. You have to provide the evidence, not just the dramatic statements.

    So, you admit you have come to this discussion late. Please, then, before you post another thing, READ everything up there. You’ll then be able to stop doing embarrassing things like talking to a Jew about Belsen. Seriously. Also, it’s disrespectful to come into the middle of the conversation without having the decency to familiarize yourself with the subject matter.

    Of course I think it’s horrible that so many of MY PEOPLE were killed so brutally during that war. But there were more people killed in that war than just the 6 million Jews. A lot more. And still I’m down with what Frank said waaaay up there: once we die, we’re all the same. Including Hitler. I don’t consider myself any better or any worse than Hitler. And I don’t even kill bugs.

    You said “Neither was it God’s will that reality on earth would be that way. Our ancestors in their naivity [sic] chose to make it that way. Would you or I make the same choice? I don’t really know. What I do know is they became infected with sin, and they have passed that on to me.”

    And now we come full circle. Well, not completely. But up at the top we discussed this very idea. I said that God is at the very least not really very nice and at worst absolutely unfair if he holds us responsible for the decisions our ancestors’ made. I asked what we did to deserve it. The only person that actually responded to that specific question said “Nothing.” That is not sufficient. A God who would subject us to the possibility of hell because of something we had nothing to do with, then make us choose to believe things that make no sense–without evidence–just so he would deign to come down out of the clouds (more on that in a sec) and “save” us, is evil, by Christianity’s own definition. And, as you said, ignoring that won’t make it go away.

  • Michael the little boot

    Bror Erickson,

    You’re right. It is my belief that sin is a construct used to keep the masses down. I cannot support it. My mistake was saying “I think” rather than “I believe.” Thanks for keeping me sharp.

    I don’t think I ever said reality is great. I said reality is what it is, and I can’t define it in any sort of positive or negative way. You continue to mischaracterize my arguments. Frank says to give you a chance, so fine. But first I’m going to take you to task, because I’m not as nice as he is, either.

    I feel guilty from time to time because, even though you would like to believe it is not the case, I have no religion and yet have morals and ethics. I get these from the way I am taught to treat my fellow human beings in the context of society, but I also choose them myself. Like my personal belief in the idea that there should be equality of treatment across all races, genders, creeds, sexual orientations AND SPECIES regardless of equality of ability. I formed that opinion myself. It was influenced, of course. Who can escape influence? But it is uniquely mine because of the amalgamation of influences in addition to my brain.

    You say I have my head in the sand. How so? Because I don’t believe in something for which there is no evidence? You keep making unsupported statements like they are evidence, but that doesn’t make them so. You have to provide the evidence, not just the dramatic statements.

    So, you admit you have come to this discussion late. Please, then, before you post another thing, READ everything up there. You’ll then be able to stop doing embarrassing things like talking to a Jew about Belsen. Seriously. Also, it’s disrespectful to come into the middle of the conversation without having the decency to familiarize yourself with the subject matter.

    Of course I think it’s horrible that so many of MY PEOPLE were killed so brutally during that war. But there were more people killed in that war than just the 6 million Jews. A lot more. And still I’m down with what Frank said waaaay up there: once we die, we’re all the same. Including Hitler. I don’t consider myself any better or any worse than Hitler. And I don’t even kill bugs.

    You said “Neither was it God’s will that reality on earth would be that way. Our ancestors in their naivity [sic] chose to make it that way. Would you or I make the same choice? I don’t really know. What I do know is they became infected with sin, and they have passed that on to me.”

    And now we come full circle. Well, not completely. But up at the top we discussed this very idea. I said that God is at the very least not really very nice and at worst absolutely unfair if he holds us responsible for the decisions our ancestors’ made. I asked what we did to deserve it. The only person that actually responded to that specific question said “Nothing.” That is not sufficient. A God who would subject us to the possibility of hell because of something we had nothing to do with, then make us choose to believe things that make no sense–without evidence–just so he would deign to come down out of the clouds (more on that in a sec) and “save” us, is evil, by Christianity’s own definition. And, as you said, ignoring that won’t make it go away.

  • Michael the little boot

    As for the “more on this in a sec”: do you really believe Jesus ascended into heaven? I mean, we know that when you go into the clouds you don’t go into heaven. Are you just using the terms, or do you really believe that?

  • Michael the little boot

    As for the “more on this in a sec”: do you really believe Jesus ascended into heaven? I mean, we know that when you go into the clouds you don’t go into heaven. Are you just using the terms, or do you really believe that?

  • fwsonnek

    All:

    “I feel guilty from time to time because, even though you would like to believe it is not the case, I have no religion and yet have morals and ethics. ”

    I feel that Michael raises an important point here with this statement. Godless athiests, Jesus-less Pharisees and like others (Don´t take this as in any way an insult Michael or to mean that I am throwing you into this broad category ) are actually often, if not usually, more civically moral than we christians manage to be. There is a good reason for this.

    For us “God says..” usually quickly ends all moral discussions. For an atheist or agnostic to “scientifically discover(!)” those same moral laws, hidden to them, revealed to us, they must endlessly, muse, argue and debate.

    This process often makes their end result more practical than is our own, in terms of utility in the civil sphere of the affairs among men. It is, make no mistake, the SAME law, given as a first article gift, by the same God, serving us here through the instrument of pagans. And we are duty bound to honor those kinds of laws.

    We christians often have alot to learn from them as to mortification of the flesh. We usually do not approach them with that attitude.

    Saint Paul´s writings, I am told, reflect his deep understanding of Stoic philosophy. The stoics were far, far removed from Godliness even though they had much to commend them in their moral constructs.

    Jesus fills all things. We will find Him in odd and unlikely places when we look for Him trusting that word.

    I live in a world fully redeemed and reconciled to God. The Just Father has taken a big ol’ chill pill named Jesus Christ. I can receive ALL the things of this FULLY reconciled world with thanksgiving and praise.

  • fwsonnek

    All:

    “I feel guilty from time to time because, even though you would like to believe it is not the case, I have no religion and yet have morals and ethics. ”

    I feel that Michael raises an important point here with this statement. Godless athiests, Jesus-less Pharisees and like others (Don´t take this as in any way an insult Michael or to mean that I am throwing you into this broad category ) are actually often, if not usually, more civically moral than we christians manage to be. There is a good reason for this.

    For us “God says..” usually quickly ends all moral discussions. For an atheist or agnostic to “scientifically discover(!)” those same moral laws, hidden to them, revealed to us, they must endlessly, muse, argue and debate.

    This process often makes their end result more practical than is our own, in terms of utility in the civil sphere of the affairs among men. It is, make no mistake, the SAME law, given as a first article gift, by the same God, serving us here through the instrument of pagans. And we are duty bound to honor those kinds of laws.

    We christians often have alot to learn from them as to mortification of the flesh. We usually do not approach them with that attitude.

    Saint Paul´s writings, I am told, reflect his deep understanding of Stoic philosophy. The stoics were far, far removed from Godliness even though they had much to commend them in their moral constructs.

    Jesus fills all things. We will find Him in odd and unlikely places when we look for Him trusting that word.

    I live in a world fully redeemed and reconciled to God. The Just Father has taken a big ol’ chill pill named Jesus Christ. I can receive ALL the things of this FULLY reconciled world with thanksgiving and praise.

  • fwsonnek

    Michael and Bror:

    At least you do, quite properly, agree on the one thing that is MOST important here in this discussion: Frank is NICE!

    Lord have mercy on ALL of us if I am the best example we can produce as the “king-of-nice”.

    Trust me. Leona Helmsley, the “Queen of Mean” is an AMATEUR compared to me guys!

    I put up a good front at times though, I must admit…… ;)

    hehehehehe

  • fwsonnek

    Michael and Bror:

    At least you do, quite properly, agree on the one thing that is MOST important here in this discussion: Frank is NICE!

    Lord have mercy on ALL of us if I am the best example we can produce as the “king-of-nice”.

    Trust me. Leona Helmsley, the “Queen of Mean” is an AMATEUR compared to me guys!

    I put up a good front at times though, I must admit…… ;)

    hehehehehe

  • fwsonnek

    damn. “King-of-Kindness” woulda had a nice ring to it, referring to mwah. dontcha ALL think?

    I missed my moment in my , er, dignified haste, to scoop the well deserved accolades.

    ( visualize Deeep, and incredibly humble looking, bow here)

  • fwsonnek

    damn. “King-of-Kindness” woulda had a nice ring to it, referring to mwah. dontcha ALL think?

    I missed my moment in my , er, dignified haste, to scoop the well deserved accolades.

    ( visualize Deeep, and incredibly humble looking, bow here)

  • fwsonnek

    Bruce Gee referred to my writings in a private aside as “flatulence rising from the ocean´s depths” (I here paraphrase).

    I am so glad that at least SOME of my “acolyte slaves” here “get” me.

  • fwsonnek

    Bruce Gee referred to my writings in a private aside as “flatulence rising from the ocean´s depths” (I here paraphrase).

    I am so glad that at least SOME of my “acolyte slaves” here “get” me.

  • fwsonnek

    now where is my coffee….. it is still early….

  • fwsonnek

    now where is my coffee….. it is still early….

  • Bror Erickson

    Michael the little boot,
    So I should be embarrassed for bringing up Belsen, because you are a Jew? no. That should serve to drive the point home more. Was there or was there not a moral problem there? If so why or why not?
    And I’m glad to hear that you are no better than Hitler, or nor worse. That is a realization more of us in this world need to come to. But then how can you say God is Evil?
    Evidence, you will refuse to read it, but the Bible for starters. But we talked about that in other threads. you will throw it out, on the word of a “Scholar” of your own choosing, without questioning his reasoing, because He is the “Scholar.”

  • Bror Erickson

    Michael the little boot,
    So I should be embarrassed for bringing up Belsen, because you are a Jew? no. That should serve to drive the point home more. Was there or was there not a moral problem there? If so why or why not?
    And I’m glad to hear that you are no better than Hitler, or nor worse. That is a realization more of us in this world need to come to. But then how can you say God is Evil?
    Evidence, you will refuse to read it, but the Bible for starters. But we talked about that in other threads. you will throw it out, on the word of a “Scholar” of your own choosing, without questioning his reasoing, because He is the “Scholar.”

  • Michael the little boot

    Bror Erickson @ 78,

    I was trying to point out your lack of respect, not that you can’t mention the holocaust to a Jew. You haven’t familiarized yourself with the contents of the discussion. If you had, you might have mentioned my ancestry as a way to drive the point home, as you did in your response above. I’d hope you wouldn’t have been so insensitive to a person who obviously lost family in the holocaust (most Jews did) and who therefore has a more personal stake in its’ history. But you’ve shown you are not respectful, so I don’t know why I bothered.

    I actually didn’t say God is evil. I said that IF all of the things you are alleging are true, that by Christianity’s own definition–alluded to many times in these pages–the God who would act in this manner is evil. But I don’t think God is evil, because I don’t believe in evil. I’m just pointing out the flaw in your argument.

    I not only do not refuse to read the Bible, I GREW UP AS A CHRISTIAN, a fact you would know if you’d stop typing and read this whole conversation. But–as I have pointed out numerous times–the Bible is not evidence. The Bible is the source that needs OUTSIDE evidence to corroborate its’ claims. A source cannot be used as evidence for itself. I don’t throw it out on the word of a scholar of my own choosing. I take my time to review as much of the scholarship as I can find. I question everything that I read, even things with which I agree. That is, of course, limited, but I’ve never claimed to have total or perfect knowledge on this subject. Just enough to show that your every claim on this point has no basis in reality. It is simply your opinion culled from only one book.

    How odd that you say I will throw out your only source on the basis of A (i.e., ONE) scholar, but you can appeal to nothing but the Bible and that is supposed to be sufficient.

  • Michael the little boot

    Bror Erickson @ 78,

    I was trying to point out your lack of respect, not that you can’t mention the holocaust to a Jew. You haven’t familiarized yourself with the contents of the discussion. If you had, you might have mentioned my ancestry as a way to drive the point home, as you did in your response above. I’d hope you wouldn’t have been so insensitive to a person who obviously lost family in the holocaust (most Jews did) and who therefore has a more personal stake in its’ history. But you’ve shown you are not respectful, so I don’t know why I bothered.

    I actually didn’t say God is evil. I said that IF all of the things you are alleging are true, that by Christianity’s own definition–alluded to many times in these pages–the God who would act in this manner is evil. But I don’t think God is evil, because I don’t believe in evil. I’m just pointing out the flaw in your argument.

    I not only do not refuse to read the Bible, I GREW UP AS A CHRISTIAN, a fact you would know if you’d stop typing and read this whole conversation. But–as I have pointed out numerous times–the Bible is not evidence. The Bible is the source that needs OUTSIDE evidence to corroborate its’ claims. A source cannot be used as evidence for itself. I don’t throw it out on the word of a scholar of my own choosing. I take my time to review as much of the scholarship as I can find. I question everything that I read, even things with which I agree. That is, of course, limited, but I’ve never claimed to have total or perfect knowledge on this subject. Just enough to show that your every claim on this point has no basis in reality. It is simply your opinion culled from only one book.

    How odd that you say I will throw out your only source on the basis of A (i.e., ONE) scholar, but you can appeal to nothing but the Bible and that is supposed to be sufficient.

  • Bror Erickson

    Michael the boot,
    I guess it may depend on what we are trying to prove here. And I am not trying to prove the BIBLE, but the resurrection. That said the Bible is not just one piece of evidence but contains “eye witness accounts”, plural, that may be cross examined if you wish. The four Gospels for instance are four seperate accounts.
    Christianity rests not so much on the Bible as it does on the resurrection. Prove the resurrection wrong, and I’ll give up belief in the Gospel.
    Now you may wish to attack the Bible if you wish. I don’t suppose I’d believe the resurrection if it hadn’t told me about it. The Bible itself is shows itself to be a reliable recording of History. So throw it out if you wish but don’t discount it as evidence, out of hand.

    As to answer the question you asked earlier about the ascension. Yes, I believe he ascended into heaven, though I don’t believe heaven is on the other side of the clouds he entered. If you will that was a figurative act on the part of Jesus to show the disciples where he was really going.

  • Bror Erickson

    Michael the boot,
    I guess it may depend on what we are trying to prove here. And I am not trying to prove the BIBLE, but the resurrection. That said the Bible is not just one piece of evidence but contains “eye witness accounts”, plural, that may be cross examined if you wish. The four Gospels for instance are four seperate accounts.
    Christianity rests not so much on the Bible as it does on the resurrection. Prove the resurrection wrong, and I’ll give up belief in the Gospel.
    Now you may wish to attack the Bible if you wish. I don’t suppose I’d believe the resurrection if it hadn’t told me about it. The Bible itself is shows itself to be a reliable recording of History. So throw it out if you wish but don’t discount it as evidence, out of hand.

    As to answer the question you asked earlier about the ascension. Yes, I believe he ascended into heaven, though I don’t believe heaven is on the other side of the clouds he entered. If you will that was a figurative act on the part of Jesus to show the disciples where he was really going.

  • Michael the little boot

    Bror Erickson,

    The Bible is the book from which we learn of the resurrection. Once again, it cannot be a corroborating source for itself. And there is no evidence that the four gospels contain eyewitness accounts, nor are they necessarily four separate accounts. The majority view among textual critics is that Mark came first, then Matthew and Luke, then John. Mark, Luke and Matthew are referred to as the synoptic gospels (as there had been a number collections analyzing their similarities, most famously by Johann Jakob Griesbach in his 1774 “Synopsis”) and are very connected textually. Mark may have used another document as a basis, though that is disputed. What is not disputed (except by a small but vocal minority) is that Matthew and Luke both used Mark as a source, as well as the theoretical sayings gospel “Q.” The Q theory was also corroborated upon the discovery of the gospel of Thomas, a sayings Gospel that includes nearly all the sayings common to Matthew and Luke not found in Mark. (It is not believed that Thomas is Q, but a possible precursor, once again based on the textual and historical criticism.) And John, of course, is thought to be the product of a community of people–written much later and reflecting the changing views about Jesus–and varies the most from the other gospels.

    Now, I want to thank you for the gift of your next statement. “Christianity rests not so much on the Bible as it does on the resurrection. Prove the resurrection wrong, and I’ll give up belief in the Gospel.” This is, obviously, an appeal to ignorance. You cannot argue FOR something on the basis that it hasn’t been disproved. Besides, you are the one who believes in the resurrection. The burden of proof, sad to say, rests on you. And the Bible is not proof. It is itself the container of the idea that needs proving.

    How does the Bible show itself to be a “reliable recording of History”? It doesn’t have anything outside of itself to back up its’ claims. It has to have something to be measured against. Do you believe everything you read? Obviously that is not the case. By what criteria do you accept or reject what you read? From what you’ve said, it seems you read whatever you can find that helps you to continue believing what you already believe. Like Behe.

    And why is it that Jesus seems to pick the most inopportune times to be figurative? Or, more to the point: why is it you pick and choose what you think is literal and what is figurative? If I can’t tell the difference between the two, how can I tell that the Bible is a reliable recording of history? The Bible only seems to be figurative when the science doesn’t add up. Well, except where you just deny the science outright.

  • Michael the little boot

    Bror Erickson,

    The Bible is the book from which we learn of the resurrection. Once again, it cannot be a corroborating source for itself. And there is no evidence that the four gospels contain eyewitness accounts, nor are they necessarily four separate accounts. The majority view among textual critics is that Mark came first, then Matthew and Luke, then John. Mark, Luke and Matthew are referred to as the synoptic gospels (as there had been a number collections analyzing their similarities, most famously by Johann Jakob Griesbach in his 1774 “Synopsis”) and are very connected textually. Mark may have used another document as a basis, though that is disputed. What is not disputed (except by a small but vocal minority) is that Matthew and Luke both used Mark as a source, as well as the theoretical sayings gospel “Q.” The Q theory was also corroborated upon the discovery of the gospel of Thomas, a sayings Gospel that includes nearly all the sayings common to Matthew and Luke not found in Mark. (It is not believed that Thomas is Q, but a possible precursor, once again based on the textual and historical criticism.) And John, of course, is thought to be the product of a community of people–written much later and reflecting the changing views about Jesus–and varies the most from the other gospels.

    Now, I want to thank you for the gift of your next statement. “Christianity rests not so much on the Bible as it does on the resurrection. Prove the resurrection wrong, and I’ll give up belief in the Gospel.” This is, obviously, an appeal to ignorance. You cannot argue FOR something on the basis that it hasn’t been disproved. Besides, you are the one who believes in the resurrection. The burden of proof, sad to say, rests on you. And the Bible is not proof. It is itself the container of the idea that needs proving.

    How does the Bible show itself to be a “reliable recording of History”? It doesn’t have anything outside of itself to back up its’ claims. It has to have something to be measured against. Do you believe everything you read? Obviously that is not the case. By what criteria do you accept or reject what you read? From what you’ve said, it seems you read whatever you can find that helps you to continue believing what you already believe. Like Behe.

    And why is it that Jesus seems to pick the most inopportune times to be figurative? Or, more to the point: why is it you pick and choose what you think is literal and what is figurative? If I can’t tell the difference between the two, how can I tell that the Bible is a reliable recording of history? The Bible only seems to be figurative when the science doesn’t add up. Well, except where you just deny the science outright.

  • fwsonnek

    Michael:

    “And why is it that Jesus seems to pick the most inopportune times to be figurative? Or, more to the point: why is it you pick and choose what you think is literal and what is figurative? If I can’t tell the difference between the two, how can I tell that the Bible is a reliable recording of history?”

    Literal and figurative should be judged in the bible in the same way as ANY other literature. If you can´t tell the difference between the two you then would take a good course in literature to correct this deficiency (which I assume you posit only as hypothetical example and that you DO have these tools….)

    Examples are in Luke. History. “eyewitnesses, etc…”
    it all depends on context and on who the actors are in the text. This is really quite a simple matter that is not at all a religous one michael. I am surprised you would need to bring it up actually.

  • fwsonnek

    Michael:

    “And why is it that Jesus seems to pick the most inopportune times to be figurative? Or, more to the point: why is it you pick and choose what you think is literal and what is figurative? If I can’t tell the difference between the two, how can I tell that the Bible is a reliable recording of history?”

    Literal and figurative should be judged in the bible in the same way as ANY other literature. If you can´t tell the difference between the two you then would take a good course in literature to correct this deficiency (which I assume you posit only as hypothetical example and that you DO have these tools….)

    Examples are in Luke. History. “eyewitnesses, etc…”
    it all depends on context and on who the actors are in the text. This is really quite a simple matter that is not at all a religous one michael. I am surprised you would need to bring it up actually.

  • fwsonnek

    Michael: It is not true that there are NO external records to support the events recorded in the Bible as an accurate reporting of historical events. Surely you jest. Or at least overstate?

  • fwsonnek

    Michael: It is not true that there are NO external records to support the events recorded in the Bible as an accurate reporting of historical events. Surely you jest. Or at least overstate?

  • fwsonnek

    Michael:

    “Christianity rests not so much on the Bible as it does on the resurrection. Prove the resurrection wrong, and I’ll give up belief in the Gospel.” This is, obviously, an appeal to ignorance. You cannot argue FOR something on the basis that it hasn’t been disproved. Besides, you are the one who believes in the resurrection. The burden of proof, sad to say, rests on you.

    This is only true in part Michael! the more polite question would have been: Bror what are your evidences for the resurrection please?” he would have provided them, and then you would have had a chance to refute and dispute.

    I see instead that Bror did not offer evidence, merely a challenge and you, for your part, assumed that you knew what that evidence was.

  • fwsonnek

    Michael:

    “Christianity rests not so much on the Bible as it does on the resurrection. Prove the resurrection wrong, and I’ll give up belief in the Gospel.” This is, obviously, an appeal to ignorance. You cannot argue FOR something on the basis that it hasn’t been disproved. Besides, you are the one who believes in the resurrection. The burden of proof, sad to say, rests on you.

    This is only true in part Michael! the more polite question would have been: Bror what are your evidences for the resurrection please?” he would have provided them, and then you would have had a chance to refute and dispute.

    I see instead that Bror did not offer evidence, merely a challenge and you, for your part, assumed that you knew what that evidence was.

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank,

    Can you explain to me how the Bible is literature to people who view it as inerrant? The inerrantists with which I am familiar actually suggest it is expressly NOT lit. I know you see it differently, and I would not have responded to you with such an argument. But I’m lost here. Possibly confused. Would appreciate your thoughts.

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank,

    Can you explain to me how the Bible is literature to people who view it as inerrant? The inerrantists with which I am familiar actually suggest it is expressly NOT lit. I know you see it differently, and I would not have responded to you with such an argument. But I’m lost here. Possibly confused. Would appreciate your thoughts.

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank,

    Can you list the external records that corroborate the central idea of a literal resurrection? I overstated, true. Apologies. Allow me to amend. These core issues that we’ve been discussing (mostly the resurrection) do not have external proof. Unless you count the widely disputed portion of Josephus that mentions Jesus. I don’t know of others, and, as I said, this was a major portion of my college education.

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank,

    Can you list the external records that corroborate the central idea of a literal resurrection? I overstated, true. Apologies. Allow me to amend. These core issues that we’ve been discussing (mostly the resurrection) do not have external proof. Unless you count the widely disputed portion of Josephus that mentions Jesus. I don’t know of others, and, as I said, this was a major portion of my college education.

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank,

    As far as the rules of logic and argumentation go, the burden of proof for a thing is on the person alleging that thing. I am not alleging that the Bible is not true. I am disputing the allegations of others, for which I do provide evidence. So, while not polite, it is true. I’m not interested in being polite to good ol’ Bror. I think if myself as more along the lines of Lewis’ description of Aslan: I’m a “good” person (not TOTALLY, of course), but not a TAME person.

    Hope that flicks your lit Bic!

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank,

    As far as the rules of logic and argumentation go, the burden of proof for a thing is on the person alleging that thing. I am not alleging that the Bible is not true. I am disputing the allegations of others, for which I do provide evidence. So, while not polite, it is true. I’m not interested in being polite to good ol’ Bror. I think if myself as more along the lines of Lewis’ description of Aslan: I’m a “good” person (not TOTALLY, of course), but not a TAME person.

    Hope that flicks your lit Bic!

  • fwsonnek

    original post:

    “So apparently, some Hebrews conflated the God of Abraham with the “God” of their neighbors, assuming that all “El’s” were the same and setting up a version of the common idol associated with that term. ”

    indeed! the word “abomination” describes something to be spit out as toxic and ALWAYS refers in the early OT as something about un-conflating this idolatry. ALL the injunctions in the early OT were about not doing what the surrounding pagans did. Interesting that later use of this word in the OT came to take on a more general meaning of moral approbation….

    the progression is clear here…eating seafood that lacks fins and scales (Levitius 11:11), eating certain birds of prey, including bats (Leviticus 11:12) and all insects (Leviticus 11:23 and 11:41) and other biblically unclean animals (Leviticus 20:25); remarrying the person one previously divorced (Deutoronomy 24:4); and then hundreds of years later the word applies to more clearly moral issues like……telling lies (Proverbs 12:22); being proud in heart (Proverbs 16:5); justifying the wicked (Proverbs 17:15); and cheating in business (Proverbs 20:10 and Proverbs 20:23).

    There are reasons that go to the heart of our christian faith why we , in stark contrast to the OT israel, do not have these rules that mark us as set apart, but in fact quite the opposite…..

  • fwsonnek

    original post:

    “So apparently, some Hebrews conflated the God of Abraham with the “God” of their neighbors, assuming that all “El’s” were the same and setting up a version of the common idol associated with that term. ”

    indeed! the word “abomination” describes something to be spit out as toxic and ALWAYS refers in the early OT as something about un-conflating this idolatry. ALL the injunctions in the early OT were about not doing what the surrounding pagans did. Interesting that later use of this word in the OT came to take on a more general meaning of moral approbation….

    the progression is clear here…eating seafood that lacks fins and scales (Levitius 11:11), eating certain birds of prey, including bats (Leviticus 11:12) and all insects (Leviticus 11:23 and 11:41) and other biblically unclean animals (Leviticus 20:25); remarrying the person one previously divorced (Deutoronomy 24:4); and then hundreds of years later the word applies to more clearly moral issues like……telling lies (Proverbs 12:22); being proud in heart (Proverbs 16:5); justifying the wicked (Proverbs 17:15); and cheating in business (Proverbs 20:10 and Proverbs 20:23).

    There are reasons that go to the heart of our christian faith why we , in stark contrast to the OT israel, do not have these rules that mark us as set apart, but in fact quite the opposite…..

  • fwsonnek

    Michael:

    talk to me man. I view the bible as inerrant. I view and read the bible also as great literature. its forms include history, poetry, drama, metaphor, logical argument…. I now am perplexed, being raised as a Lutheran, how anyone could NOT read it and be keyed into understanding the various parts according to how the various books of the bible and the parts of those books, as poetry, etc.

    example:

    “There was a man named Lazarus” . Factual account. the story´s structure indicates that intent. whether one believes it IS a factual account is another matter….

    “The kingdom of God IS LIKE….” parable.

  • fwsonnek

    Michael:

    talk to me man. I view the bible as inerrant. I view and read the bible also as great literature. its forms include history, poetry, drama, metaphor, logical argument…. I now am perplexed, being raised as a Lutheran, how anyone could NOT read it and be keyed into understanding the various parts according to how the various books of the bible and the parts of those books, as poetry, etc.

    example:

    “There was a man named Lazarus” . Factual account. the story´s structure indicates that intent. whether one believes it IS a factual account is another matter….

    “The kingdom of God IS LIKE….” parable.

  • fwsonnek

    #86 Michael

    “External proof” The bible is not one book, as you know , but a collection of books. I am not sure what you are looking for or mean by “external proof” .

    Are you suggesting that we try all “evidence” like we would in a court of law? “Evidence ” suggests this to me.

    are you looking for hostile witnesses here.

    get back at me!

  • fwsonnek

    #86 Michael

    “External proof” The bible is not one book, as you know , but a collection of books. I am not sure what you are looking for or mean by “external proof” .

    Are you suggesting that we try all “evidence” like we would in a court of law? “Evidence ” suggests this to me.

    are you looking for hostile witnesses here.

    get back at me!

  • fwsonnek

    Michael:

    “I am not alleging that the Bible is not true.

    I am disputing the allegations of others, for which I do provide evidence.

    So, while not polite, it is true.”

    What is true but not polite Michael. You are not aleging that the bible is not true, but I THINK you are suggesting that none of it´s truth claims are verifiable by “evidence.” Have I got that right so far?

    I am not completely catching your drift here. Help me out.

  • fwsonnek

    Michael:

    “I am not alleging that the Bible is not true.

    I am disputing the allegations of others, for which I do provide evidence.

    So, while not polite, it is true.”

    What is true but not polite Michael. You are not aleging that the bible is not true, but I THINK you are suggesting that none of it´s truth claims are verifiable by “evidence.” Have I got that right so far?

    I am not completely catching your drift here. Help me out.

  • fwsonnek

    #86 Michael

    “External records” I am a CPA and by their very nature ALL records are external to the facts Michael, so I am not sure what you are looking for, or not looking for but questioning maybe…

    I am clear that you are asking for “evidence” in the form of “external records” that “corroborates” the resurrection as a fact of history.

    “Can you list the external records that corroborate the central idea of a literal resurrection? “

  • fwsonnek

    #86 Michael

    “External records” I am a CPA and by their very nature ALL records are external to the facts Michael, so I am not sure what you are looking for, or not looking for but questioning maybe…

    I am clear that you are asking for “evidence” in the form of “external records” that “corroborates” the resurrection as a fact of history.

    “Can you list the external records that corroborate the central idea of a literal resurrection? “

  • fwsonnek

    #87 Michael

    “As far as the rules of logic and argumentation go, the burden of proof for a thing is on the person alleging that thing.”

    Ok. You are appealing to the rules of a system known as logic and the rules of debate.

    Since I have never taken a course on debate or really seriously studied those topics , I would say ya got me here. I don´t know if what you are saying is true to the rules of logic and debate or not.

    Now I get to ask you to footnote your assertion of fact. I am asking.

    Thanks! I am gonna actually learn some new stuff from you it looks like! Cool!

  • fwsonnek

    #87 Michael

    “As far as the rules of logic and argumentation go, the burden of proof for a thing is on the person alleging that thing.”

    Ok. You are appealing to the rules of a system known as logic and the rules of debate.

    Since I have never taken a course on debate or really seriously studied those topics , I would say ya got me here. I don´t know if what you are saying is true to the rules of logic and debate or not.

    Now I get to ask you to footnote your assertion of fact. I am asking.

    Thanks! I am gonna actually learn some new stuff from you it looks like! Cool!

  • fwsonnek

    Michael:

    It would be very instructive for me, for you to cite another event that you accept as a fact of history from the time of the birth of christ or before and the evidence that you would marshall to convince me irrefutably that that event did in fact happen in history.

    This would allow me to understand your thinking here completely I think. Would you be willing to do this for me please?

  • fwsonnek

    Michael:

    It would be very instructive for me, for you to cite another event that you accept as a fact of history from the time of the birth of christ or before and the evidence that you would marshall to convince me irrefutably that that event did in fact happen in history.

    This would allow me to understand your thinking here completely I think. Would you be willing to do this for me please?

  • fwsonnek

    #86 michael: “Unless you count the widely disputed portion of Josephus that mentions Jesus.”

    I did a quick web search. I think they all said that tacitus and josephus both mention Jesus and the christian sect he founded. Part of Josephus seems to have been a gloss that most scholars reject but they do leave a reference to Jesus as probably being genuine as far as I can tell fro googling. Nothing there about the resurrection, just that Jesus was a real cult leader of his day, and his cult survived his death.

    ok. your point here is?

  • fwsonnek

    #86 michael: “Unless you count the widely disputed portion of Josephus that mentions Jesus.”

    I did a quick web search. I think they all said that tacitus and josephus both mention Jesus and the christian sect he founded. Part of Josephus seems to have been a gloss that most scholars reject but they do leave a reference to Jesus as probably being genuine as far as I can tell fro googling. Nothing there about the resurrection, just that Jesus was a real cult leader of his day, and his cult survived his death.

    ok. your point here is?

  • fwsonnek

    #86 michael

    “I don’t know of others, and, as I said, this was a major portion of my college education.” what was a major portion of your college education Michael. I musta missed that post of yours! sorry!

  • fwsonnek

    #86 michael

    “I don’t know of others, and, as I said, this was a major portion of my college education.” what was a major portion of your college education Michael. I musta missed that post of yours! sorry!

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank @ 89, I think what’s dangerous here is not reading it in its’ historical context. Did the Hebrews have the same view we have of the different categories you describe? Also, reading anything this old as inerrant is problematic at best, I would say, especially since most inerrantists use the “in the original documents” argument, which is circular (and invalid, since we will never know what the original documents were like as we don’t have them). I agree you can read it all in the different forms that are there (poetry, lit, etc), but it’s important not to read the forms as we intend them today. Also, since we have science and “facts” now, terms that had very little use to people back in the day, we look at history differently than they did. It’s important not to superimpose our modern times onto these books.

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank @ 89, I think what’s dangerous here is not reading it in its’ historical context. Did the Hebrews have the same view we have of the different categories you describe? Also, reading anything this old as inerrant is problematic at best, I would say, especially since most inerrantists use the “in the original documents” argument, which is circular (and invalid, since we will never know what the original documents were like as we don’t have them). I agree you can read it all in the different forms that are there (poetry, lit, etc), but it’s important not to read the forms as we intend them today. Also, since we have science and “facts” now, terms that had very little use to people back in the day, we look at history differently than they did. It’s important not to superimpose our modern times onto these books.

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank @ 90, there is a disputed portion of Josephus that mentions Jesus resurrection, but it is not usually included or, if it is, is appropriately noted. Most are of the variety you described in your post at 95. My point is that, even if you use other books in the Bible to show evidence that there were many books telling the same events, there is nothing anywhere near conclusive. The books in the Bible that tell the story of the resurrection all do so a bit differently. When was Jesus buried? What day was he killed? Little details like this are changed in each. To me, the little differences do not preclude the story being somewhat to even mostly true, but it does rule out inerrancy. Other than that, as far as accounts contemporary to Jesus, all we have is the Bible and the non-canonical gospels telling the story of the resurrection, not with uniformity, and the soonest tells it 35-40 years after Jesus’ death. They are not eyewitnesses. They are also way more than biased: they are all Christians trying to advance their message. Historians are supposed to try and be as unbiased as they can. One would hope we could find at least a single early account that corroborates the gospels and was written by a non-Christian. One cannot.

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank @ 90, there is a disputed portion of Josephus that mentions Jesus resurrection, but it is not usually included or, if it is, is appropriately noted. Most are of the variety you described in your post at 95. My point is that, even if you use other books in the Bible to show evidence that there were many books telling the same events, there is nothing anywhere near conclusive. The books in the Bible that tell the story of the resurrection all do so a bit differently. When was Jesus buried? What day was he killed? Little details like this are changed in each. To me, the little differences do not preclude the story being somewhat to even mostly true, but it does rule out inerrancy. Other than that, as far as accounts contemporary to Jesus, all we have is the Bible and the non-canonical gospels telling the story of the resurrection, not with uniformity, and the soonest tells it 35-40 years after Jesus’ death. They are not eyewitnesses. They are also way more than biased: they are all Christians trying to advance their message. Historians are supposed to try and be as unbiased as they can. One would hope we could find at least a single early account that corroborates the gospels and was written by a non-Christian. One cannot.

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank @91, yes, you are correct. I am alleging that none of the NT’s claims are verifiable by evidence, unless you count that they are all (i.e., the gospels and Paul’s letters) corroborating sources for each other. The problem is, as I said above, you cannot find a non-Christian source contemporary with these that says the same thing. You only have the accounts of people who were interested in relating the events as they related them, rather than as they may have actually happened.

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank @91, yes, you are correct. I am alleging that none of the NT’s claims are verifiable by evidence, unless you count that they are all (i.e., the gospels and Paul’s letters) corroborating sources for each other. The problem is, as I said above, you cannot find a non-Christian source contemporary with these that says the same thing. You only have the accounts of people who were interested in relating the events as they related them, rather than as they may have actually happened.

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank, all records are external to the facts, yes. So we have the facts that happen, then we have the story of the facts as it is related. We have to investigate the connection between those two things in order to arrive at what we think happened. In modern times, with things like DNA evidence, “the truth” seems like something we can arrive at easily. But back then, one had to rely on these stories. In our time, we can see how flawed this is. If we were looking for a killer now, we wouldn’t go and ask the friends of the accused how they would characterize events and then go on their stories alone. We would get their statements, then we would investigate. Being that we are 2000 years hence, that’s pretty difficult, and pretty much makes declarations of inerrancy moot.

    Except to the faithful.

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank, all records are external to the facts, yes. So we have the facts that happen, then we have the story of the facts as it is related. We have to investigate the connection between those two things in order to arrive at what we think happened. In modern times, with things like DNA evidence, “the truth” seems like something we can arrive at easily. But back then, one had to rely on these stories. In our time, we can see how flawed this is. If we were looking for a killer now, we wouldn’t go and ask the friends of the accused how they would characterize events and then go on their stories alone. We would get their statements, then we would investigate. Being that we are 2000 years hence, that’s pretty difficult, and pretty much makes declarations of inerrancy moot.

    Except to the faithful.

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank @ 93, I’ll answer you by quoting what I quoted on the “Destroying the universe…” page. It’s from reference.com, an online encyclopedia (not a public one like Wikipedia, although Wiki can be good if you know how to check sources):

    “Outside a legal context, ‘burden of proof’ means that someone suggesting a new theory or stating a claim must provide evidence to support it: it is not sufficient to say ‘you can’t disprove this.’ Specifically, when anyone is making a bold claim, it is not someone else’s responsibility to disprove the claim, but is rather the responsibility of the person who is making the bold claim to prove it.”

    Making the claim that someone, anyone, was resurrected, is a bold claim and must be backed up with more evidence than just a number of books written by people who were all adherents of the religion begun by the followers of the man about whom they were writing. I also included the following quote, also from reference.com:

    “The less reasonable a statement seems, the more proof it requires.”

    And this pretty much does it for the rest of the miraculous stuff attributed to Jesus. But since we’ve accepted it for almost 2000 years, MY claims are those seen as bold. But it is, in fact, the opposite. If it is not, how do you maintain the idea that the other people from back then, who were said to do the things Jesus did, were just hucksters? Or do you? There’s as much evidence for some of them as there is for Jesus: that is, some books.

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank @ 93, I’ll answer you by quoting what I quoted on the “Destroying the universe…” page. It’s from reference.com, an online encyclopedia (not a public one like Wikipedia, although Wiki can be good if you know how to check sources):

    “Outside a legal context, ‘burden of proof’ means that someone suggesting a new theory or stating a claim must provide evidence to support it: it is not sufficient to say ‘you can’t disprove this.’ Specifically, when anyone is making a bold claim, it is not someone else’s responsibility to disprove the claim, but is rather the responsibility of the person who is making the bold claim to prove it.”

    Making the claim that someone, anyone, was resurrected, is a bold claim and must be backed up with more evidence than just a number of books written by people who were all adherents of the religion begun by the followers of the man about whom they were writing. I also included the following quote, also from reference.com:

    “The less reasonable a statement seems, the more proof it requires.”

    And this pretty much does it for the rest of the miraculous stuff attributed to Jesus. But since we’ve accepted it for almost 2000 years, MY claims are those seen as bold. But it is, in fact, the opposite. If it is not, how do you maintain the idea that the other people from back then, who were said to do the things Jesus did, were just hucksters? Or do you? There’s as much evidence for some of them as there is for Jesus: that is, some books.

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank,

    “It would be very instructive for me, for you to cite another event that you accept as a fact of history from the time of the birth of christ or before and the evidence that you would marshall to convince me irrefutably that that event did in fact happen in history.”

    I don’t actually believe that ANY event in history is as irrefutable as people here seem to think the Bible stories are. I’m arguing this way because of what others are saying. I’m not this hard and fast about things except when I’m talking with people who are!

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank,

    “It would be very instructive for me, for you to cite another event that you accept as a fact of history from the time of the birth of christ or before and the evidence that you would marshall to convince me irrefutably that that event did in fact happen in history.”

    I don’t actually believe that ANY event in history is as irrefutable as people here seem to think the Bible stories are. I’m arguing this way because of what others are saying. I’m not this hard and fast about things except when I’m talking with people who are!

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank, a major portion of my BA was spent studying the Bible, the world of the Bible, the lit, etc. To immerse myself in the first century. I learned Koine Greek. Studied philosophy. I’m nowhere near an expert, but to say I haven’t studied is simply not to know that I did and do, and that it is an ongoing part of my continuing adult education. You know, the one I’m giving myself by READING!

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank, a major portion of my BA was spent studying the Bible, the world of the Bible, the lit, etc. To immerse myself in the first century. I learned Koine Greek. Studied philosophy. I’m nowhere near an expert, but to say I haven’t studied is simply not to know that I did and do, and that it is an ongoing part of my continuing adult education. You know, the one I’m giving myself by READING!

  • fwsonnek

    #102 Michael:

    “It would be very instructive for me, for you to cite another event that you accept as a fact of history from the time of the birth of christ or before and the evidence that you would marshall to convince me irrefutably that that event did in fact happen in history.”

    I don’t actually believe that ANY event in history is as irrefutable as people here seem to think the Bible stories are. I’m arguing this way because of what others are saying. I’m not this hard and fast about things except when I’m talking with people who are!”

    Huh? Somehow I am missing an answer in what you wrote. So let me get this straight: “I am addressing people who I feel are irrational, so I will be equally irrational”? this does not sound like the Michael I have come to know so far in this thread.

    It is not an answer to my question. If you have no answer, simply say so and be done with it. that would be ok.

  • fwsonnek

    #102 Michael:

    “It would be very instructive for me, for you to cite another event that you accept as a fact of history from the time of the birth of christ or before and the evidence that you would marshall to convince me irrefutably that that event did in fact happen in history.”

    I don’t actually believe that ANY event in history is as irrefutable as people here seem to think the Bible stories are. I’m arguing this way because of what others are saying. I’m not this hard and fast about things except when I’m talking with people who are!”

    Huh? Somehow I am missing an answer in what you wrote. So let me get this straight: “I am addressing people who I feel are irrational, so I will be equally irrational”? this does not sound like the Michael I have come to know so far in this thread.

    It is not an answer to my question. If you have no answer, simply say so and be done with it. that would be ok.

  • fwsonnek

    #101 Michael:

    “…If it is not, how do you maintain the idea that the other people from back then, who were said to do the things Jesus did, were just hucksters? Or do you? There’s as much evidence for some of them as there is for Jesus: that is, some books.”

    Who are these other people, so I can compare their truth claims to those of Jesus?

  • fwsonnek

    #101 Michael:

    “…If it is not, how do you maintain the idea that the other people from back then, who were said to do the things Jesus did, were just hucksters? Or do you? There’s as much evidence for some of them as there is for Jesus: that is, some books.”

    Who are these other people, so I can compare their truth claims to those of Jesus?

  • fwsonnek

    #97 Michael:

    “Frank @ 89, I think what’s dangerous here is not reading it in its’ historical context. Did the Hebrews have the same view we have of the different categories you describe?”

    Yes. somethings are rather universal in language.

    “Also, reading anything this old as inerrant is problematic at best, I would say, especially since most inerrantists use the “in the original documents” argument, which is circular (and invalid, since we will never know what the original documents were like as we don’t have them).”

    You are talking about what courts and auditors refer to as “chain of custody” issues. Are the manuscripts we have today faithful to the originals (which we dont have) or not. Actually Michael, Bringing together multiple copies of a lost original, widely dispersed as to custody and geography is stronger evidence for accuracy than a single document purporting to be the original. Depending on your depth of study in classical manuscripts you would know this to be true. and as a forensic auditor and IT professional, this is a point of irrefutable logic to me.

    The evidence rather overwhelmingly suggests that the NT and OT we have today is extremely faithful to whatever the originals were and to the OT as it existed around the time of the septuagint at least. The SECOND and UNconnected question as to the TRUTHfulness of these records is an entirely INDEPENDENT subject. We are debating THAT question here.

    ” I agree you can read it all in the different forms that are there (poetry, lit, etc), but it’s important not to read the forms as we intend them today. ”

    Huh? In general I would have to disagree as an English Lit major and also with 5 years of classical latin., 4 years of classical greek, 4 years of classical german, and 2 years of hebrew behind me, not to mention some anglo/saxon so I could read beowulf. I simply could not agree less on this point. Besides I dont get what you are driving at as to your central point about the resurrection and evidential support for it.

    “Also, since we have science and “facts” now, terms that had very little use to people back in the day”

    Tell THAT to Euclid, aristotle, Pythagoras, archemedes, Seneca, Socrates, Plato? I MUST be misunderstanding you here. This seems like a wierd statement to me. The reaction to the “aledged” virgin birth in the bible for instance seems portrayed in a way that would reflect the disbelieving reaction of anyone today. Pregnancy seems to have always been a biological “fact” that would have about the same “use” in all times and places .

    “We look at history differently than they did.”

    I am simply not seeing that MIchael. Clue me in. The definition of a lie or fiction has not changed that much. I would need to see evidence to the contrary on this. All the actors in the gospels were portrayed as completely disbelieving of the resurrection. This means the authors were deliberately creating a hoax or they were honest men simply reporting the facts. There is no middle ground here that I can see for any honest person to take.

    “It’s important not to superimpose our modern times onto these books.”

    Finally something I can fully agree with! But worded broadly and not categorically unfortunately (but then this IS a blog). But I still assume I get your point, and so I think I can fully agree. And your point is?

  • fwsonnek

    #97 Michael:

    “Frank @ 89, I think what’s dangerous here is not reading it in its’ historical context. Did the Hebrews have the same view we have of the different categories you describe?”

    Yes. somethings are rather universal in language.

    “Also, reading anything this old as inerrant is problematic at best, I would say, especially since most inerrantists use the “in the original documents” argument, which is circular (and invalid, since we will never know what the original documents were like as we don’t have them).”

    You are talking about what courts and auditors refer to as “chain of custody” issues. Are the manuscripts we have today faithful to the originals (which we dont have) or not. Actually Michael, Bringing together multiple copies of a lost original, widely dispersed as to custody and geography is stronger evidence for accuracy than a single document purporting to be the original. Depending on your depth of study in classical manuscripts you would know this to be true. and as a forensic auditor and IT professional, this is a point of irrefutable logic to me.

    The evidence rather overwhelmingly suggests that the NT and OT we have today is extremely faithful to whatever the originals were and to the OT as it existed around the time of the septuagint at least. The SECOND and UNconnected question as to the TRUTHfulness of these records is an entirely INDEPENDENT subject. We are debating THAT question here.

    ” I agree you can read it all in the different forms that are there (poetry, lit, etc), but it’s important not to read the forms as we intend them today. ”

    Huh? In general I would have to disagree as an English Lit major and also with 5 years of classical latin., 4 years of classical greek, 4 years of classical german, and 2 years of hebrew behind me, not to mention some anglo/saxon so I could read beowulf. I simply could not agree less on this point. Besides I dont get what you are driving at as to your central point about the resurrection and evidential support for it.

    “Also, since we have science and “facts” now, terms that had very little use to people back in the day”

    Tell THAT to Euclid, aristotle, Pythagoras, archemedes, Seneca, Socrates, Plato? I MUST be misunderstanding you here. This seems like a wierd statement to me. The reaction to the “aledged” virgin birth in the bible for instance seems portrayed in a way that would reflect the disbelieving reaction of anyone today. Pregnancy seems to have always been a biological “fact” that would have about the same “use” in all times and places .

    “We look at history differently than they did.”

    I am simply not seeing that MIchael. Clue me in. The definition of a lie or fiction has not changed that much. I would need to see evidence to the contrary on this. All the actors in the gospels were portrayed as completely disbelieving of the resurrection. This means the authors were deliberately creating a hoax or they were honest men simply reporting the facts. There is no middle ground here that I can see for any honest person to take.

    “It’s important not to superimpose our modern times onto these books.”

    Finally something I can fully agree with! But worded broadly and not categorically unfortunately (but then this IS a blog). But I still assume I get your point, and so I think I can fully agree. And your point is?

  • fwsonnek

    #100

    as a lawyer in training, I find your arguments, IF I am hearing you right here, extremely , um, uninformed. So I MUST be hearing you wrong. Because if I am not…..

    Let me get this right: You are saying here very specifically, that before we had DNA evidence, that all legal verdicts were basically bogus or at best extremely unreliable as to any truth claims.

    I find that to be amazing as an assertion of fact Michael. Are you SURE you want to maintain this as a firm position?

  • fwsonnek

    #100

    as a lawyer in training, I find your arguments, IF I am hearing you right here, extremely , um, uninformed. So I MUST be hearing you wrong. Because if I am not…..

    Let me get this right: You are saying here very specifically, that before we had DNA evidence, that all legal verdicts were basically bogus or at best extremely unreliable as to any truth claims.

    I find that to be amazing as an assertion of fact Michael. Are you SURE you want to maintain this as a firm position?

  • fwsonnek

    #99 Michael:

    “You only have the accounts of people who were , rather than as they may have actually happened.”

    I don´t know of exceptions to this. I know of NO account of anyone from that time who was not “interested in relating the events as they related them”. In fact, I would have to think to find exceptions to that even today.

    and that does not in any way necessitate your “rather than” clause.

    Your “rather than” clause indicates a bias at least as strong as what you read into the texts we are dialoging over here does it not?

  • fwsonnek

    #99 Michael:

    “You only have the accounts of people who were , rather than as they may have actually happened.”

    I don´t know of exceptions to this. I know of NO account of anyone from that time who was not “interested in relating the events as they related them”. In fact, I would have to think to find exceptions to that even today.

    and that does not in any way necessitate your “rather than” clause.

    Your “rather than” clause indicates a bias at least as strong as what you read into the texts we are dialoging over here does it not?

  • fwsonnek

    Corrected response to #99 Michael:

    “You only have the accounts of people who were interested in relating the events as they related them, rather than as they may have actually happened.”

    I don´t know of exceptions to this. I know of NO account of anyone from that time who was not “interested in relating the events as they related them”. In fact, I would have to think to find exceptions to that even today.

    and that does not in any way necessitate your “rather than” clause.

    Your “rather than” clause indicates a bias at least as strong as what you read into the texts we are dialoging over here does it not?

  • fwsonnek

    Corrected response to #99 Michael:

    “You only have the accounts of people who were interested in relating the events as they related them, rather than as they may have actually happened.”

    I don´t know of exceptions to this. I know of NO account of anyone from that time who was not “interested in relating the events as they related them”. In fact, I would have to think to find exceptions to that even today.

    and that does not in any way necessitate your “rather than” clause.

    Your “rather than” clause indicates a bias at least as strong as what you read into the texts we are dialoging over here does it not?

  • fwsonnek

    #98 Michael:

    ….there is nothing anywhere near conclusive. The books in the Bible that tell the story of the resurrection all do so a bit differently. When was Jesus buried? What day was he killed? Little details like this are changed in each. To me, the little differences do not preclude the story being somewhat to even mostly true, but it does rule out inerrancy. ”

    Those “little differences” would in fact SUPPORT the veracity of a group of witnesses Michael. a judge would be HIGHLY suspect of a group of witnesses with identical accounts. It would indicate collusion.

    So far Michael, I am not seeing anything here that you are presenting that is compelling in any way to people who have had to study rules of evidence in a courtroom or as an auditor. In fact, THIS POINT you raise increase the probability that the Gospel accounts are what they themselves claim to be to a trained attorney or auditor or historian or journalist. (You can guess from this last comment that I have had training in all of these and have a wide circle of friends that include all of these disciplines for what it is worth).

    You are presenting alot of false “either/or” situations here Michael . Here is one more you present: DNA evidence is based on statistical probability in such a way that serious scientists would throw it out as evidence to convict and would find it useful only to exonerate I am told. This is because it is based on methods of statistical sampling. To pit this against even multiple second hand eye witness accounts that agree with minor differences is , well, unusual to say the least.

    That a Q document might have existed as a template for the the synoptic gospels likewise is , well. ok. what? doesnt suggest the truth or falsehood of anything really, and we still only have the texts we have to deal with…

    and investigators WOULD interogate friends of the accused. The would be extremely negligent not to do so. If the accusers or hostile witnesses ended up not pressing charges or remained silent, ESPECIALLY if they were in dominant positions of authority relative to the accused AND had physical control of the critical evidence…. well, that would indicate something.

    By the way, back to “chain of custody ” issues:

    Being a scholar of the classics, I am sure you are WELL aware that their are less than a handful of fragmentary manuscripts on Plato. Yes we say with some authority “Plato said.” ditto cicero, virgil, julius ceasar, etc etc.

    The number of Biblical manuscripts quite literally dwarfs this. Whoever you are quoting seems very uninformed on this topic as to the confidence level in transmission of these texts to us. There are 60,000 manuscrípts and partial manuscripts of the NT alone. The method of transmission of the OT is an entirely different story here due to historical circumstances, but is also highly reliable at least back to the NT times we are debating.

  • fwsonnek

    #98 Michael:

    ….there is nothing anywhere near conclusive. The books in the Bible that tell the story of the resurrection all do so a bit differently. When was Jesus buried? What day was he killed? Little details like this are changed in each. To me, the little differences do not preclude the story being somewhat to even mostly true, but it does rule out inerrancy. ”

    Those “little differences” would in fact SUPPORT the veracity of a group of witnesses Michael. a judge would be HIGHLY suspect of a group of witnesses with identical accounts. It would indicate collusion.

    So far Michael, I am not seeing anything here that you are presenting that is compelling in any way to people who have had to study rules of evidence in a courtroom or as an auditor. In fact, THIS POINT you raise increase the probability that the Gospel accounts are what they themselves claim to be to a trained attorney or auditor or historian or journalist. (You can guess from this last comment that I have had training in all of these and have a wide circle of friends that include all of these disciplines for what it is worth).

    You are presenting alot of false “either/or” situations here Michael . Here is one more you present: DNA evidence is based on statistical probability in such a way that serious scientists would throw it out as evidence to convict and would find it useful only to exonerate I am told. This is because it is based on methods of statistical sampling. To pit this against even multiple second hand eye witness accounts that agree with minor differences is , well, unusual to say the least.

    That a Q document might have existed as a template for the the synoptic gospels likewise is , well. ok. what? doesnt suggest the truth or falsehood of anything really, and we still only have the texts we have to deal with…

    and investigators WOULD interogate friends of the accused. The would be extremely negligent not to do so. If the accusers or hostile witnesses ended up not pressing charges or remained silent, ESPECIALLY if they were in dominant positions of authority relative to the accused AND had physical control of the critical evidence…. well, that would indicate something.

    By the way, back to “chain of custody ” issues:

    Being a scholar of the classics, I am sure you are WELL aware that their are less than a handful of fragmentary manuscripts on Plato. Yes we say with some authority “Plato said.” ditto cicero, virgil, julius ceasar, etc etc.

    The number of Biblical manuscripts quite literally dwarfs this. Whoever you are quoting seems very uninformed on this topic as to the confidence level in transmission of these texts to us. There are 60,000 manuscrípts and partial manuscripts of the NT alone. The method of transmission of the OT is an entirely different story here due to historical circumstances, but is also highly reliable at least back to the NT times we are debating.

  • fwsonnek

    #100

    by the way i did not miss any of your careful qualifiers in this post, so please don´t jump me or think i was jackin u up.

    but then the gospel witness are not being accused of anything, so your scenario is not exactly parallel, unless we are accusing them of perpetrating a hoax.

    Is this what you believe Michael? that all the writers of the new testament were immoral men who were intent on perpetrating a hoax and colluded to do so?

    Now THIS would be an ENTIRELY different proposition, and one that would require an adjustment to our dialog.

    It IS worth considering yes?

  • fwsonnek

    #100

    by the way i did not miss any of your careful qualifiers in this post, so please don´t jump me or think i was jackin u up.

    but then the gospel witness are not being accused of anything, so your scenario is not exactly parallel, unless we are accusing them of perpetrating a hoax.

    Is this what you believe Michael? that all the writers of the new testament were immoral men who were intent on perpetrating a hoax and colluded to do so?

    Now THIS would be an ENTIRELY different proposition, and one that would require an adjustment to our dialog.

    It IS worth considering yes?

  • fwsonnek

    #98 Michael:

    “….They are also way more than biased: they are all Christians trying to advance their message. ”

    The synoptic gospel writers claim to be reporting a historical account. This is quite clear. Their intent is not to present alegory or epic myth or fiction. This I can prove to you handily, but I assume you need no proof of this from your educational background you told me about.

    They are not presenting an argument. Paul IS, but we are not talking about Paul. He WAS a hostile witness though….

    You make a conclusion without presenting evidence. If, as a journalist, I report on a story that is about my family or something close to home or a cause that I happen to believe in, that does not defacto mean that I am biased to the point of being dishonest or unfactual or anything along those lines does it?

    I have read that the voice of america USED to be very respected because people could trust that their reporting was not slanted in favor of the usa. I understand that the same is STILL true broadly speaking, about the BBC, even though it is a state sponsored endeavor, it is not regarded as propaganda. It is perfectly ok for me to have a bias as a journalist by the way if I clearly identify that bias. As you yourself implied in your wording, it is rather impossible NOT to have a bias of some kind, direct or indirect. Media all the time report on events relating to a wholy owned subsidiary of that media, and are obligated to disclose that connection.

    “Historians are supposed to try and be as unbiased as they can.”

    Ok. this is true. and it is rarely so. Why do you assume this is not true of the synoptic writers? is that not an unsubstantiated bias on your own part? They clearly identify their bias. ok.

    they say that the victors write history. It was in no way evident that christians were in any way victors at the time of their writings. this is important in considering their truth claims actually. This is legitimate evidentiary material to their truth claims.

    “One would hope we could find at least a single early account that corroborates the gospels and was written by a non-Christian. One cannot.”

    Why is this Michael? why does it need to be a single account. there ARE archeological evidences of historical facts surrounding the events reported as facts in the gospels. what exactly do you feel is essential to establishing the PROBABLY truth of the gospels.

    THIS brings us back to my post #94 that you did not really answer for is it fair to say? is it really fair of you to require an evidentiary standard that is different or higher than one you would use to establish ANY other fact of history?

    You say that a historian should attempt objectivity. Ok. Let´s see you do that here. Impartiality is one mark of objectivity is it not?

    I am not asserting that the gospels are verifiably true beyond ANY doubt Michael with “scientific” evidence. No court would ever attempt to do that by the way, even WITH DNA evidence. It can´t be done. even in something as recent as the oj simpson trial. Besides, I am sure you are well aware, in view of your education, that “scientific methodology” is not the proper tool for investigation of this kind of historical/factual truth claim.

    The legal and evidentiary standard is “beyond reasonable doubt” (the strictest standard) and usually it is not even that. it is “preponderance of evidence”.

    I AM however willing to entertain the proposition that you have yet to raise a single objection that would cast reasonable doubt on their accounts using any rules of judiciary evidence that I know of.

    I am most open however to any arguments you have yet to raise, or counterarguments challenging my refutations of your claims.

    So far you have raised no arguments or evidence that I can buy into as valid based on any scholarly evidence that I know of. I have made my objections and am well prepared to footnote any of them as necessary, to further prove them as valid.

    I am pretty well equipped to evaluate evidence of antiquity from the time that the gospels were written.

    get back at me!

  • fwsonnek

    #98 Michael:

    “….They are also way more than biased: they are all Christians trying to advance their message. ”

    The synoptic gospel writers claim to be reporting a historical account. This is quite clear. Their intent is not to present alegory or epic myth or fiction. This I can prove to you handily, but I assume you need no proof of this from your educational background you told me about.

    They are not presenting an argument. Paul IS, but we are not talking about Paul. He WAS a hostile witness though….

    You make a conclusion without presenting evidence. If, as a journalist, I report on a story that is about my family or something close to home or a cause that I happen to believe in, that does not defacto mean that I am biased to the point of being dishonest or unfactual or anything along those lines does it?

    I have read that the voice of america USED to be very respected because people could trust that their reporting was not slanted in favor of the usa. I understand that the same is STILL true broadly speaking, about the BBC, even though it is a state sponsored endeavor, it is not regarded as propaganda. It is perfectly ok for me to have a bias as a journalist by the way if I clearly identify that bias. As you yourself implied in your wording, it is rather impossible NOT to have a bias of some kind, direct or indirect. Media all the time report on events relating to a wholy owned subsidiary of that media, and are obligated to disclose that connection.

    “Historians are supposed to try and be as unbiased as they can.”

    Ok. this is true. and it is rarely so. Why do you assume this is not true of the synoptic writers? is that not an unsubstantiated bias on your own part? They clearly identify their bias. ok.

    they say that the victors write history. It was in no way evident that christians were in any way victors at the time of their writings. this is important in considering their truth claims actually. This is legitimate evidentiary material to their truth claims.

    “One would hope we could find at least a single early account that corroborates the gospels and was written by a non-Christian. One cannot.”

    Why is this Michael? why does it need to be a single account. there ARE archeological evidences of historical facts surrounding the events reported as facts in the gospels. what exactly do you feel is essential to establishing the PROBABLY truth of the gospels.

    THIS brings us back to my post #94 that you did not really answer for is it fair to say? is it really fair of you to require an evidentiary standard that is different or higher than one you would use to establish ANY other fact of history?

    You say that a historian should attempt objectivity. Ok. Let´s see you do that here. Impartiality is one mark of objectivity is it not?

    I am not asserting that the gospels are verifiably true beyond ANY doubt Michael with “scientific” evidence. No court would ever attempt to do that by the way, even WITH DNA evidence. It can´t be done. even in something as recent as the oj simpson trial. Besides, I am sure you are well aware, in view of your education, that “scientific methodology” is not the proper tool for investigation of this kind of historical/factual truth claim.

    The legal and evidentiary standard is “beyond reasonable doubt” (the strictest standard) and usually it is not even that. it is “preponderance of evidence”.

    I AM however willing to entertain the proposition that you have yet to raise a single objection that would cast reasonable doubt on their accounts using any rules of judiciary evidence that I know of.

    I am most open however to any arguments you have yet to raise, or counterarguments challenging my refutations of your claims.

    So far you have raised no arguments or evidence that I can buy into as valid based on any scholarly evidence that I know of. I have made my objections and am well prepared to footnote any of them as necessary, to further prove them as valid.

    I am pretty well equipped to evaluate evidence of antiquity from the time that the gospels were written.

    get back at me!

  • fwsonnek

    Michael:

    I think we agree, interestingly, that christianity is the ONLY one of two major religion where their essential truth claim is wholy dependent on historical record and fact.

    The only other that I know about is mormonism, with Joseph smith’s factual claims. These , by way of illustrative contrast are very very easily disproven, and not in any way because they are more recent events.

    we can start with his claim that the golden plates were written in “reformed egyptian” and things go downhill from there…..

  • fwsonnek

    Michael:

    I think we agree, interestingly, that christianity is the ONLY one of two major religion where their essential truth claim is wholy dependent on historical record and fact.

    The only other that I know about is mormonism, with Joseph smith’s factual claims. These , by way of illustrative contrast are very very easily disproven, and not in any way because they are more recent events.

    we can start with his claim that the golden plates were written in “reformed egyptian” and things go downhill from there…..

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank 104,

    “I am addressing people who I feel are irrational, so I will be equally irrational.” Here you are putting words in my mouth. I said that I am not hard and fast unless I’m talking to people who are, and I don’t see this as a value judgement. I just see it as my opinion. But I did give you an answer. Not the answer you wanted, because I side-stepped any concrete idea you could jump on and “get me” with, which is where your latest set of posts has gone, in my opinion. I’m disappointed.

    I realize what you’ve done. You turned this around on me. You NEVER answered my earlier question of what we did to deserve to be “commanded” by God to worship him beyond having a sin nature which was also bequeathed to us by God through his mean tricking of Adam and Eve. And now you are questioning me like a lawyer. Which apparently you are training to be. Good for you. I have no interest in lawyers. They have the ability to prove things true which aren’t. Like OJ Simpson being innocent, to use your example.

    But let me make something clear: I am only arguing this way since it is how God has been characterized in the Bible as well as in this forum. I do not believe God is this way. I am asking why YOU believe this way. I wasn’t satisfied with the answers above, but then I got sidetracked when I was bombarded by all sorts of attacks. I am the only one here that is a proponent of these ideas, after all. At least the only one speaking up. But I don’t want to answer your questions point by point anymore, because it’s too much work for nothing. You won’t gain anything from it because you won’t listen to me. And I won’t gain anything from it because I’ve already entertained these ideas. For nearly twenty years.

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank 104,

    “I am addressing people who I feel are irrational, so I will be equally irrational.” Here you are putting words in my mouth. I said that I am not hard and fast unless I’m talking to people who are, and I don’t see this as a value judgement. I just see it as my opinion. But I did give you an answer. Not the answer you wanted, because I side-stepped any concrete idea you could jump on and “get me” with, which is where your latest set of posts has gone, in my opinion. I’m disappointed.

    I realize what you’ve done. You turned this around on me. You NEVER answered my earlier question of what we did to deserve to be “commanded” by God to worship him beyond having a sin nature which was also bequeathed to us by God through his mean tricking of Adam and Eve. And now you are questioning me like a lawyer. Which apparently you are training to be. Good for you. I have no interest in lawyers. They have the ability to prove things true which aren’t. Like OJ Simpson being innocent, to use your example.

    But let me make something clear: I am only arguing this way since it is how God has been characterized in the Bible as well as in this forum. I do not believe God is this way. I am asking why YOU believe this way. I wasn’t satisfied with the answers above, but then I got sidetracked when I was bombarded by all sorts of attacks. I am the only one here that is a proponent of these ideas, after all. At least the only one speaking up. But I don’t want to answer your questions point by point anymore, because it’s too much work for nothing. You won’t gain anything from it because you won’t listen to me. And I won’t gain anything from it because I’ve already entertained these ideas. For nearly twenty years.

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank 106,

    I said “Frank @ 89, I think what’s dangerous here is not reading it in its’ historical context. Did the Hebrews have the same view we have of the different categories you describe?”

    You said “Yes. somethings are rather universal in language.” That’s funny. Because what I’ve been taught is that the Bible is a completely foreign book to us. Scholars of Greek and Hebrew almost universally say that if you can’t read the documents in the original language, you can’t actually read them. The translations we have are poor approximations. But translation is like that. Even modern languages cannot be translated with total accuracy. Most translations miss the nuance.

    Take, for instance, the “Great Commission.” We read it as (paraphrasing) “Go into all the world and preach the gospel making disciples of all men.” But the Greek (as you would know, being a Greek scholar–although one wonders whether you studied Koine, since you only mentioned Classical) says something different, because it can make use of a tense we do not have in English, the continuous tense. It should translate (and this is, as I said, only an approximation) “WHEN YOU ARE GOING into the world, preach the gospel, making disciples of all men.” He’s not saying actively go into the world. He’s saying, when you are doing what you are doing, when you’re at the market or the temple, tell people about me and make them disciples.” VERY different. One says “Be a missionary.” The other says “When you go out every day, make sure you tell people about me.” Because of the bad translation, we have people all over the world destroying other cultures just to teach them about Jesus, which, if you trust the Greek (AND you trust the Biblical account as having happened), he didn’t say.

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank 106,

    I said “Frank @ 89, I think what’s dangerous here is not reading it in its’ historical context. Did the Hebrews have the same view we have of the different categories you describe?”

    You said “Yes. somethings are rather universal in language.” That’s funny. Because what I’ve been taught is that the Bible is a completely foreign book to us. Scholars of Greek and Hebrew almost universally say that if you can’t read the documents in the original language, you can’t actually read them. The translations we have are poor approximations. But translation is like that. Even modern languages cannot be translated with total accuracy. Most translations miss the nuance.

    Take, for instance, the “Great Commission.” We read it as (paraphrasing) “Go into all the world and preach the gospel making disciples of all men.” But the Greek (as you would know, being a Greek scholar–although one wonders whether you studied Koine, since you only mentioned Classical) says something different, because it can make use of a tense we do not have in English, the continuous tense. It should translate (and this is, as I said, only an approximation) “WHEN YOU ARE GOING into the world, preach the gospel, making disciples of all men.” He’s not saying actively go into the world. He’s saying, when you are doing what you are doing, when you’re at the market or the temple, tell people about me and make them disciples.” VERY different. One says “Be a missionary.” The other says “When you go out every day, make sure you tell people about me.” Because of the bad translation, we have people all over the world destroying other cultures just to teach them about Jesus, which, if you trust the Greek (AND you trust the Biblical account as having happened), he didn’t say.

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank, if you want to go here, you go alone. I am not in this to prove my opinion to a bunch of people who have a vested interest in proving me wrong. I just wanted to talk. Not only will none of you give a satisfactory answer to my original questions, but you’ve taken the discussion in a direction that is hostile, without having first answered those questions. No prob.

    You’ve started using legal language, even though the example I gave toward a definition of the term “burden of proof” actually said “OUTSIDE a legal context.” I am not a lawyer. I have no knowledge of legal jargon. And now that you’ve brought this up I have no desire to continue. You’ve tipped your hand. As I said earlier, lawyers look for ways to prove correct what they wish to prove correct, regardless of whether it is or not. Now I see where you’re coming from. You’ve got my email address if you want to continue this in a less confrontational way. I don’t want to waste my time with this discussion anymore. Some people just can’t see that we all get to benefit from the bar-b-que when we slaughter sacred cows.

  • Michael the little boot

    Frank, if you want to go here, you go alone. I am not in this to prove my opinion to a bunch of people who have a vested interest in proving me wrong. I just wanted to talk. Not only will none of you give a satisfactory answer to my original questions, but you’ve taken the discussion in a direction that is hostile, without having first answered those questions. No prob.

    You’ve started using legal language, even though the example I gave toward a definition of the term “burden of proof” actually said “OUTSIDE a legal context.” I am not a lawyer. I have no knowledge of legal jargon. And now that you’ve brought this up I have no desire to continue. You’ve tipped your hand. As I said earlier, lawyers look for ways to prove correct what they wish to prove correct, regardless of whether it is or not. Now I see where you’re coming from. You’ve got my email address if you want to continue this in a less confrontational way. I don’t want to waste my time with this discussion anymore. Some people just can’t see that we all get to benefit from the bar-b-que when we slaughter sacred cows.

  • fwsonnek

    #114 michael

    “I am addressing people who I feel are irrational, so I will be equally irrational.” Here you are putting words in my mouth. ”

    Ok I apologize for that. I never would want to put words in your mouth. That is simply not polite and so I consider it beneath me. again. I apologize.

    “I said that I am not hard and fast unless I’m talking to people who are, and I don’t see this as a value judgement. I just see it as my opinion.”

    I am not sure what you mean by “hard and fast” here. people who won´t entertain an opposing argument? who have their mind made up and won´t listen to any evidence to the contrary? This is sounding like you now Michael.

    ” But I did give you an answer. …. I side-stepped any concrete idea you could jump on and “get me” with, which is where your latest set of posts has gone, in my opinion. I’m disappointed.”

    You side-stepped and I called you on that. How is that wrong or impolite? You avoided giving me an answer that contained a rebuttable fact. This is neither honest nor polite Michael as far as I can see. Correct me if this is wrong.

    I have not “jumped on” you yet. even with my most recent posts. Unless disagreement is “jumping on you”. I have not been disrespectful or dismissive of your ideas. I have entertained EVERY one.

    You seem to be toying with me however.

    You have simply dismissed all of my questions and responses to you that challenge your “evidence”. you said you wanted to know WHY i believe as I do. My beliefs are not unteathered completely from objective reason, logic and fact Michael. That is a part of WHY I believe.

    This IS an assertion you SEEM to have made (here I risk putting words in your mouth again): that christians believe and have faith in something that can ONLY be supported by closed, circular-logic. you in post 79 but this is just one . this seems to be your main premise: ” I throw out your only source on the basis of A (i.e., ONE) scholar, but you can appeal to nothing but the Bible and that is supposed to be sufficient.”

    Ok michael. when we start to seriously explore here what you said repeatedly, you just check out.

  • fwsonnek

    #114 michael

    “I am addressing people who I feel are irrational, so I will be equally irrational.” Here you are putting words in my mouth. ”

    Ok I apologize for that. I never would want to put words in your mouth. That is simply not polite and so I consider it beneath me. again. I apologize.

    “I said that I am not hard and fast unless I’m talking to people who are, and I don’t see this as a value judgement. I just see it as my opinion.”

    I am not sure what you mean by “hard and fast” here. people who won´t entertain an opposing argument? who have their mind made up and won´t listen to any evidence to the contrary? This is sounding like you now Michael.

    ” But I did give you an answer. …. I side-stepped any concrete idea you could jump on and “get me” with, which is where your latest set of posts has gone, in my opinion. I’m disappointed.”

    You side-stepped and I called you on that. How is that wrong or impolite? You avoided giving me an answer that contained a rebuttable fact. This is neither honest nor polite Michael as far as I can see. Correct me if this is wrong.

    I have not “jumped on” you yet. even with my most recent posts. Unless disagreement is “jumping on you”. I have not been disrespectful or dismissive of your ideas. I have entertained EVERY one.

    You seem to be toying with me however.

    You have simply dismissed all of my questions and responses to you that challenge your “evidence”. you said you wanted to know WHY i believe as I do. My beliefs are not unteathered completely from objective reason, logic and fact Michael. That is a part of WHY I believe.

    This IS an assertion you SEEM to have made (here I risk putting words in your mouth again): that christians believe and have faith in something that can ONLY be supported by closed, circular-logic. you in post 79 but this is just one . this seems to be your main premise: ” I throw out your only source on the basis of A (i.e., ONE) scholar, but you can appeal to nothing but the Bible and that is supposed to be sufficient.”

    Ok michael. when we start to seriously explore here what you said repeatedly, you just check out.

  • fwsonnek

    #115 Michael

    I said “Frank @ 89, I think what’s dangerous here is not reading it in its’ historical context. Did the Hebrews have the same view we have of the different categories you describe?”

    You said “Yes. somethings are rather universal in language.” That’s funny. Because what I’ve been taught is that the Bible is a completely foreign book to us.

    Ok. I disagree with what you have been taught in that you use words like “dangerous” and “completely”. Those “hard and fast” kinda words make it difficult to dialog Michael.

    l am struggling with portugues even as we dialog. I am not seeing your point really.

    when a translation is made, you pick up some new meaning and lose some original meaning. this IS a fact.

    This fact does not mean all you say it does however. You are sounding just a little shrill here, especially with your matter-of-fact jibe of “destroying other cultures just to teach them about Jesus”.

    And let me be clear here. I am not at all disputing that heinous crimes have been committed “in the name of Jesus”. But you here are taking a fact of history and turning it into characature. This is neither polite nor fair Michael.

  • fwsonnek

    #115 Michael

    I said “Frank @ 89, I think what’s dangerous here is not reading it in its’ historical context. Did the Hebrews have the same view we have of the different categories you describe?”

    You said “Yes. somethings are rather universal in language.” That’s funny. Because what I’ve been taught is that the Bible is a completely foreign book to us.

    Ok. I disagree with what you have been taught in that you use words like “dangerous” and “completely”. Those “hard and fast” kinda words make it difficult to dialog Michael.

    l am struggling with portugues even as we dialog. I am not seeing your point really.

    when a translation is made, you pick up some new meaning and lose some original meaning. this IS a fact.

    This fact does not mean all you say it does however. You are sounding just a little shrill here, especially with your matter-of-fact jibe of “destroying other cultures just to teach them about Jesus”.

    And let me be clear here. I am not at all disputing that heinous crimes have been committed “in the name of Jesus”. But you here are taking a fact of history and turning it into characature. This is neither polite nor fair Michael.

  • fwsonnek

    “who have a vested interest in proving me wrong.”

    I have no interest at all in proving you wrong. Why would I care other than to understand you better as a person?

    “I just wanted to talk. Not only will none of you give a satisfactory answer to my original questions, but you’ve taken the discussion in a direction that is hostile, without having first answered those questions. No prob.”

    wow. I feel like I just beat up a small child and at the same time i feel like I am being scolded by a school teacher who is giving me a “D” for “Dumb” or “Dense”.

    I have tried to be honest with you Michael. I don´t feel you have given me that equal respect here.

    You have said many things here that attack the ideas of others rather forcefully. I, in return have attacked NONE of your ideas, not a single one. I HAVE asked you on certain assertions you have made IF you are sure you want to assert those because they seem sorta out there to me. It is not impolite to say that if I am willing to explain why I see it that way and allow you to challenge my thinking. I have also asked IF I understand you correctly.

    When I have attempted to establish a COMMON basis with you for evaluating whether your objections, however crasly stated, are objective and worthy, you simply dismiss me as “attacking you.”

    You use words like “evidence” and I struggle for a workable context to address you , as in , do we use evidentiary rules of science, or law or ….. and you simply tell me that somehow I have abused your confidence and trust and you personally.

    Your way of arguing is not fair Michael. and you HAVE presented argumentative points. “I just wanted to talk” is disingenuous at best.

    “You’ve tipped your hand. As I said earlier, lawyers look for ways to prove correct what they wish to prove correct, regardless of whether it is or not. Now I see where you’re coming from.”

    wow. that is extremely offensive Michael. I am not yet an attorney, but I DO value and have alot of admiration for the rules that have been developed over thousands of years to evaluate the truth claims of others.

    wow again. With your statement above you have managed to question my personal integity and at the same time say you are not interested in anyone challenging your own views with any reasonable system of logic.

    You are the one who brought up rules of logic. I then went to the net and say that the only system that would allow us to explore the validity of your questions (actually assertive challenges to a religious system called christianity fair to say?) would be the rules used by judges developed over 4000 years.

    “I tipped my hand” suggests something less than honest about me OR could suggest that this for you has been sort of “cat playing with prey ” for you all along.

    You are disrespectful to have people invest their time in you (eg: “you didnt read the entire thread and hear all my ideas” you retorted to Bror, and he then reviewed all you said as the sincere man of integrity that he is…..)

    You throw out argumentative points (not JUST “I wanted to talk”) peppered with unflattering characatures that simply had to be ignored because to respond in kind WOULD have been disrespectful to you Michael.

    and then you finally end with “I just wanted to talk.”

    That is not very nice.

  • fwsonnek

    “who have a vested interest in proving me wrong.”

    I have no interest at all in proving you wrong. Why would I care other than to understand you better as a person?

    “I just wanted to talk. Not only will none of you give a satisfactory answer to my original questions, but you’ve taken the discussion in a direction that is hostile, without having first answered those questions. No prob.”

    wow. I feel like I just beat up a small child and at the same time i feel like I am being scolded by a school teacher who is giving me a “D” for “Dumb” or “Dense”.

    I have tried to be honest with you Michael. I don´t feel you have given me that equal respect here.

    You have said many things here that attack the ideas of others rather forcefully. I, in return have attacked NONE of your ideas, not a single one. I HAVE asked you on certain assertions you have made IF you are sure you want to assert those because they seem sorta out there to me. It is not impolite to say that if I am willing to explain why I see it that way and allow you to challenge my thinking. I have also asked IF I understand you correctly.

    When I have attempted to establish a COMMON basis with you for evaluating whether your objections, however crasly stated, are objective and worthy, you simply dismiss me as “attacking you.”

    You use words like “evidence” and I struggle for a workable context to address you , as in , do we use evidentiary rules of science, or law or ….. and you simply tell me that somehow I have abused your confidence and trust and you personally.

    Your way of arguing is not fair Michael. and you HAVE presented argumentative points. “I just wanted to talk” is disingenuous at best.

    “You’ve tipped your hand. As I said earlier, lawyers look for ways to prove correct what they wish to prove correct, regardless of whether it is or not. Now I see where you’re coming from.”

    wow. that is extremely offensive Michael. I am not yet an attorney, but I DO value and have alot of admiration for the rules that have been developed over thousands of years to evaluate the truth claims of others.

    wow again. With your statement above you have managed to question my personal integity and at the same time say you are not interested in anyone challenging your own views with any reasonable system of logic.

    You are the one who brought up rules of logic. I then went to the net and say that the only system that would allow us to explore the validity of your questions (actually assertive challenges to a religious system called christianity fair to say?) would be the rules used by judges developed over 4000 years.

    “I tipped my hand” suggests something less than honest about me OR could suggest that this for you has been sort of “cat playing with prey ” for you all along.

    You are disrespectful to have people invest their time in you (eg: “you didnt read the entire thread and hear all my ideas” you retorted to Bror, and he then reviewed all you said as the sincere man of integrity that he is…..)

    You throw out argumentative points (not JUST “I wanted to talk”) peppered with unflattering characatures that simply had to be ignored because to respond in kind WOULD have been disrespectful to you Michael.

    and then you finally end with “I just wanted to talk.”

    That is not very nice.

  • fwsonnek

    #116 Michael:

    “You’ve got my email address if you want to continue this in a less confrontational way.

    I don’t want to waste my time with this discussion anymore.

    Some people just can’t see that we all get to benefit from the bar-b-que when we slaughter sacred cows.”

    Let me get this right….

    1)you have attacked my character and integrity and questioned my sincerity and honesty.

    2)You have painted things I hold dear as caracatures of what i really believe, and then attacked those caracatures without being willing to engage what I really believe.

    3) You take offense, AND attack my character, when I politely respond or look for a neutral basis for further discussion (eg: rules of evidence)

    4) you tell me you are “not interested” in (3) which means your mind is closed AFTER stating (how could I take this last comment differently?) that your intent all along was to “slaughter sacred cows. ”

    wow.

    okay. and I would get WHAT out of emailing you on the side M? this sounds like a recipe for abuse rather than the start of a friendship.

    My offer of friendship WAS a sincere one. Abuse does not look like friendship. I am TRULY sorry if others have treated you in this way. I sense pain on your part.

    It does not make it right for you to do the same with me.

    sincerely,

    frank

  • fwsonnek

    #116 Michael:

    “You’ve got my email address if you want to continue this in a less confrontational way.

    I don’t want to waste my time with this discussion anymore.

    Some people just can’t see that we all get to benefit from the bar-b-que when we slaughter sacred cows.”

    Let me get this right….

    1)you have attacked my character and integrity and questioned my sincerity and honesty.

    2)You have painted things I hold dear as caracatures of what i really believe, and then attacked those caracatures without being willing to engage what I really believe.

    3) You take offense, AND attack my character, when I politely respond or look for a neutral basis for further discussion (eg: rules of evidence)

    4) you tell me you are “not interested” in (3) which means your mind is closed AFTER stating (how could I take this last comment differently?) that your intent all along was to “slaughter sacred cows. ”

    wow.

    okay. and I would get WHAT out of emailing you on the side M? this sounds like a recipe for abuse rather than the start of a friendship.

    My offer of friendship WAS a sincere one. Abuse does not look like friendship. I am TRULY sorry if others have treated you in this way. I sense pain on your part.

    It does not make it right for you to do the same with me.

    sincerely,

    frank

  • fwsonnek

    post to all:

    the exact point where Little Michael “cut and ran” was this:

    I asked him to produce just ONE event from history that he felt was probable or beyond reasonable doubt along with the evidence he had for believing that was so, and why that evidence was logically compelling to him.

    I told him that I could then make my case for the veracity of my faith following exactly the SAME rules HE would establish.

    That should not be hard with the power of Google. It is NOT hard in fact.

    This was a very simple and honest request. This was no “tipping of my hand” as in me being disingenuous or dishonest towards him.

    It meets the fairness test in everyway I can think of. Therefore it was the essense of respectful discourse. It would have, in fact, allowed HIM to set the rules of evidence. Now THAT seems very fair to me. As I suspect it would seem to any reasonable , objective, uninvested individual.

    Michael then stated that he very consciously “side-stepped any concrete idea …” so that he could challenged in the same way he was challenging the posters on this blog.

    Christians have a simple polite right to demand equity from those they argue with, who irrationally and emotionally attack… excuse me!….. politely challenge , the veracity of our faith.

  • fwsonnek

    post to all:

    the exact point where Little Michael “cut and ran” was this:

    I asked him to produce just ONE event from history that he felt was probable or beyond reasonable doubt along with the evidence he had for believing that was so, and why that evidence was logically compelling to him.

    I told him that I could then make my case for the veracity of my faith following exactly the SAME rules HE would establish.

    That should not be hard with the power of Google. It is NOT hard in fact.

    This was a very simple and honest request. This was no “tipping of my hand” as in me being disingenuous or dishonest towards him.

    It meets the fairness test in everyway I can think of. Therefore it was the essense of respectful discourse. It would have, in fact, allowed HIM to set the rules of evidence. Now THAT seems very fair to me. As I suspect it would seem to any reasonable , objective, uninvested individual.

    Michael then stated that he very consciously “side-stepped any concrete idea …” so that he could challenged in the same way he was challenging the posters on this blog.

    Christians have a simple polite right to demand equity from those they argue with, who irrationally and emotionally attack… excuse me!….. politely challenge , the veracity of our faith.

  • Michael the little boot

    To all:

    Absolutely, I cut and ran. I have no excuse. I got in where I was ill-equipped to go. And I got lost. I still don’t see where my questions were answered. But I didn’t answer your last few either.

    So call it even. Or don’t. I apologize you all invested your time for it to come to naught. That was disrespectful. So, once again, I am sorry.

  • Michael the little boot

    To all:

    Absolutely, I cut and ran. I have no excuse. I got in where I was ill-equipped to go. And I got lost. I still don’t see where my questions were answered. But I didn’t answer your last few either.

    So call it even. Or don’t. I apologize you all invested your time for it to come to naught. That was disrespectful. So, once again, I am sorry.


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