Four things are required: 1) Ancient Scripture, to be understood in the original context and intent. This is most easily accomplished by 2) More ancient scripture from alternate sources, translated correctly, and this is only accomplished through 3) living prophets who are most easily understood through 4) Personal revelation based on an individual relationship with God. All these things must work together to gain a proper understanding.
Whoooooaaaa there! Who are these "living prophets?" Looking at the structure of these four points, it is clear that the claims of the "living prophets" are the sole foundation of your beliefs, since they (and only they) can interpret the ancient scriptures by means of their alleged personal revelations. Since these men (given Christianity's patriarchal tendencies, they are rather likely to be men
) are the channel through which all knowledge of Yahweh's infallible word comes, you have granted these men de facto Divine infallibility.
If they aren't
infallible, then the whole rest of your structure collapses. There is no longer any means to translate and interpret ancient scripture correctly (per your second principle above), and without that you're left with no way to know anything about Yahweh or his will for your life. Since their claimed "personal revelations" are the source of your beliefs and the standard by which everything else (such as "ancient scripture") is judged, you have no possible methodology to distinguish a truth spoken by a "living prophet" from an error or a lie.
So why should anyone believe that these men are infallible Spokesmen for God? Perhaps you will say that they have super powers? Well, even if they do, so what? There is no inherent connection between possessing super powers and being infallible, or even honest. If you were to encounter an Egyptian magician who could turn water into blood, and his staff into a cobra, I'm guessing it's rather unlikely that you would say, "Huh. Well, alright then, I guess he must be right about Amun-Re being King of the Gods then. All hail Amun-Re, Lord of Amenta, who rises in triumph in the East!"
A) Scripture taken out of context should not be ignored or accepted. Get it in the full context, understand it, and then live according to it. Get all four elements together and we can proceed with confidence.
Since your "four" elements reduce to one--the alleged personal revelations of your "living prophets," I can see no reason at all to "proceed with confidence" in following their teachings. David Hume 101: Which is more likely--that the omnimax Creator of all things (if such exists) should decide to speak through a certain, few, privileged individuals when He/She/It/Them is/are equally capable of speaking through or to every human being or finding some other unambiguous method of communication? Or that a human being might claim to be a uniquely privileged Voice of God on Earth out of delusion, or to gain the unlimited power over followers that comes with representing oneself as a special conduit of Divine commandments?
Furthermore, since the alleged revelations are personal,
coming uniquely and unverifiably to the minds of these special individuals, they cannot, by that very fact, be for anyone but those individuals. Let's say I have a what I believe to be revelation from Yahweh. The experience may well be compelling enough to convince me of its validity, and I would be cognitively entitled to accept it for myself (though I should really check to make sure my mind is working properly). However, if I try to tell you
of this revelation, you don't have the revelation. You have my assertions
about the revelation. You have no way to know if I am relaying the revelation accurately (my memory of it could be flawed) or honestly.
It is grave fallacy to think we understand when we do not. Until we get all four elements, let's keep thinking about it.
Again, your "four" elements reduce to one, "whatever the 'living prophets' say."
C) It is massive arrogance to say that we represent God when we represent only ourselves.
And yet, your whole belief system rests on the claims of people who say they represent God as 'living prophets.' Let's keep thinking about it.
>snip more appeals to the "four" principles<
God has given many individuals great gifts to prepare for these last days. They did not all pray for these gifts.
How do you explain the contradiction between the claims of these "gifted" people that the "last days" are now, and the claims of Jesus that they were the time of his own disciples and people like the High Priest Caiaphas, who would, Jesus said, see the Son of Man coming in glory? Or the makeup, strategy, and tactics of modern military forces, vs. the battle of massed cavalry forces predicted for Armageddon in the Book of Revelation?
God has used me, at times, because I was the only one available. He has put knowledge in my head that I had no reason to know. He has put specific words from a foreign language into my mind so that I could talk to those who spoke only that language. These things are evidence.
Do you speak, or have you studied that language? Your wording here doesn't exactly state that you have zero mundanely-acquired knowledge of that language. As for your other claims, they are neither specific nor documented, so I can't do much to evaluate them. However, as I've explained already, wielding super powers is not proof that one is infallible, honest, or that the source of the super powers is infallible or honest. Especially given that, in the conventional Christian cosmology (I'm not sure about your particular sect, since I don't know who its 'living prophets' are or what they teach) there is a Devil with an army of demons who are also supernaturally-empowered and capable of working deceptive miracles. Not to mention the other
"principalities and powers" spoken of in the Bible.
Furthermore, your sect, whatever it is, is hardly the only version of Christianity, or the only theistic belief system claiming miracles and special revelations. Since you cannot demonstrate that your sect's alleged miracle-powers are authentic and others' are not, or that yours are the most powerful at all times (which would lend some credence to the claim that your powers come from a god while others' come from lesser entities like demons), we have no reason to privilege your sect when it comes to claims of supernatural power. I am going to hazard a guess that neither you, nor any of your "living prophets" would be willing to demonstrate supernatural powers under conditions set up to rule out cognitive bias, fraud, or trickery. I estimate a high probability that, if asked, you or they would say "Thou shalt not put the Lord thy God to the test!"
So, in the absence of such a compelling demonstration, we're back to Hume 101. It is simply far more likely that human beings would be deluded, or trick people like you into believing they have supernatural powers and are Divine spokespersons, because doing so gives them total power over anyone they can convince. In your case, I have to estimate a higher likelihood that you are either in error (cognitive biases, flawed perception, or delusion) or lying to get the rise in status that comes with being specially-empowered by the Divine, than that you really do have super powers. That is, unless you are willing to contact the James Randi Educational Foundation and arrange for an unambiguous test demo of your abilities. Should you succeed in doing so, James Randi will give you a million dollars, which you can then donate to your church, the "living prophet" of your choice, charity, whatever--or just get yourself a Ferrari Testarossa and a new wardrobe.
None can deny this evidence.
*raises hand* Hello? Excuse me? Here, here in the back. Yes, I can deny it. Just like you would deny the same sort of claims, made by a Hindu on the behalf of herself and/or her favorite Gurus.
I am telling you that it is so, that I lived it myself.
Granting that you have made the effort to examine and rule out other possibilities, such as cognitive biases, flawed human perception,
the possibility that you could be psychic,
Mage-talented, demon-possessed, or whatever, you could reasonably adhere to these beliefs.
It is not hearsay. I am a direct, involved witness.
Actually, for us, it is hearsay. We have to take your
word for it.
It is also true that many things that are quite reasonable can be rephrased so that they appear to be as offensive as possible. Try preparing a chicken for dinner, for example. It sounds rather innocuous with that simple language. It is quite simple to make it as gruesome-sounding as can be imagined. This is exactly what you have done by calling Jesus a "Human Sacrifice".
Was Jesus human?
Was Jesus sacrificed
on the Cross? Y/N?
If the answer to both is "yes," then Jesus was a human sacrifice.
How many witnesses with what sort of evidence do you need before you will be convinced that there is a God, that He does speak to us, and that he does involve Himself in our lives? Count me as one who cannot be discounted.How many witnesses with what sort of evidence do you need before you will be convinced that there [are extraterrestrials visiting the Earth], that [they do] speak to us, and that [they do] involve [themselves] in our lives?
How many who deny God will be needed before I fail to believe in Him? You can gather a great number. The fact is that I know of myself that there is a God. He has involved Himself in my life over and over and over and I cannot deny it.
Assuming you're telling the truth here, and not falling prey to the ordinary foibles of fallible human consciousness (cognitive biases, overactive pattern-recognition and agency-detection, etc.) or a higher level of psychiatric delusion, then I suppose you must be very fortunate, compared to nearly everybody else who believes in deities of one sort or another. Most of them have to go by faith
, the poor sods. On the other hand, taking into consideration the Doubting Thomas story, maybe they'll be the lucky ones in the long run, for "because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."