Author Topic: For my fellow theists  (Read 4371 times)

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Offline junebug72

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Re: For my fellow theists
« Reply #29 on: January 20, 2014, 08:14:13 AM »
Some years ago, I was teaching an Adult Sunday School class and one of the members asked to talk with me afterwards.

The family had recently transferred from another church so I didn't know her very well.  Here is her story:

A few years prior she gave birth to a boy with a severely damaged heart so the child lived only a few days.  The pastor fo the church they attended at the time offered consolation and when asked if her boy was in heaven the pastor replied firmly but politely, "no".  The pastor was a "literalist" in his understanding of the New Testament writings and said (as politely as possible as near as I can tell) that since her son did not declare Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior, her son was not in heaven.  He was in an area nearby and safe, but not in heaven. 

She asked my opinion and I gave it.  Before I share what I said, I am curious how you would respond to this story and her question.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

OCG,

I would say I don't think God communicates to us through pastors but through our spirits.  I would ask where do you "imagine" your baby is.  God gave you that beautiful thought for a reason.  To search your own soul and God will comfort you by showing you what your heart seeks.  To please let God comfort your grief and inspire that pastor to quit.  I would share my own testimony of how God comforts me in this way and helps me calm my grief.

Let's see if the pastor dies if bitten by a cobra, then we'll know if he's telling the truth...to get a smile on the mother's face. 

It should be a test given for every leader of every church, right?



JB
Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.
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Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: For my fellow theists
« Reply #30 on: January 20, 2014, 04:05:07 PM »
Some years ago, I was teaching an Adult Sunday School class and one of the members asked to talk with me afterwards.

The family had recently transferred from another church so I didn't know her very well.  Here is her story:

A few years prior she gave birth to a boy with a severely damaged heart so the child lived only a few days.  The pastor fo the church they attended at the time offered consolation and when asked if her boy was in heaven the pastor replied firmly but politely, "no".  The pastor was a "literalist" in his understanding of the New Testament writings and said (as politely as possible as near as I can tell) that since her son did not declare Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior, her son was not in heaven.  He was in an area nearby and safe, but not in heaven. 

She asked my opinion and I gave it.  Before I share what I said, I am curious how you would respond to this story and her question.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

OCG,

I would say I don't think God communicates to us through pastors but through our spirits.  I would ask where do you "imagine" your baby is.  God gave you that beautiful thought for a reason.  To search your own soul and God will comfort you by showing you what your heart seeks.  To please let God comfort your grief and inspire that pastor to quit.  I would share my own testimony of how God comforts me in this way and helps me calm my grief.

Let's see if the pastor dies if bitten by a cobra, then we'll know if he's telling the truth...to get a smile on the mother's face. 

It should be a test given for every leader of every church, right?



JB

Personally, I believe the baby is safe with God in heaven.  No way to prove that but that is what I believe. 

As always,

OldChurchGuy
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Offline junebug72

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Re: For my fellow theists
« Reply #31 on: January 20, 2014, 05:57:39 PM »


OCG,

I would say I don't think God communicates to us through pastors but through our spirits.  I would ask where do you "imagine" your baby is.  God gave you that beautiful thought for a reason.  To search your own soul and God will comfort you by showing you what your heart seeks.  To please let God comfort your grief and inspire that pastor to quit.  I would share my own testimony of how God comforts me in this way and helps me calm my grief.

Let's see if the pastor dies if bitten by a cobra, then we'll know if he's telling the truth...to get a smile on the mother's face. 

It should be a test given for every leader of every church, right?



JB

Quote
Personally, I believe the baby is safe with God in heaven.  No way to prove that but that is what I believe. 

As always,

OldChurchGuy

That is a fine belief to have.  There is Luke 18:15-17

15 And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them; but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them.
16 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Permit little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
17 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God like a little child shall in no way enter it.

I was interested in your interpretation of Mark 16:15-18 Christ's commission to the Eleven.

15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.
16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
17 And these signs shall follow those who believe: In my name shall they cast out demons; they shall speak with new tongues;
18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.


Thanks,

JB
Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.
Thomas Paine

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Offline Add Homonym

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Re: For my fellow theists
« Reply #32 on: January 20, 2014, 09:06:44 PM »
If you believe Revelation 7, 144000 virgin men go to heaven.

It follows that if you believe babies are destined to go to heaven, since they are the most pure, the best male Jewish babies will go to heaven, and everyone else will be part of the other tiers in heaven, described in Matt 18, which contradicts what I just said:

[1] At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
[2] And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
[3] And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.



However, atheists have a much harder time dealing with the question, because nothing [beyond this world] written in the Bible is true, we shouldn't take comfort from negating it. That is: just because you can disprove the Christian Hell, does not mean that it is not real.

Atheists have some problem dealing with the physical constants in this universe being so "fine tuned". The logical and scientific conclusion is that we live in a multiverse, in which everything may happen, indefinitely. If everything may happen, then the world is far crueler than any grizzly Christian fantasy. If you take the gnostic approach, that "we" can escape from this world, then anybody/soul that didn't escape, either has to either have another go (reincarnation), or be delayed in some form of confusion, or interminable cosmic wait. The reason that this happens may be nothing to do with how skilled that soul was, but whether it happened to receive certain information (training), which may take an insane amount of time, or not even happen on this planet. In a universe where everything can happen, the concept of justice is only a local phenomena, invented by those who self-implement it.

Consequently, we should not be too theoretically affronted by the injustice of God, but instead, ask for evidence of a particular belief.

Humans, in general, don't waste any opportunity to be unfathomably stupid - Dr Cynical.

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: For my fellow theists
« Reply #33 on: January 21, 2014, 07:45:00 AM »
Quote

I was interested in your interpretation of Mark 16:15-18 Christ's commission to the Eleven.

15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.
16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
17 And these signs shall follow those who believe: In my name shall they cast out demons; they shall speak with new tongues;
18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.


Thanks,

JB

Most Bibles will have a note at the end of verse 8 which reads something to the effect that the following verses (9-20) are not found in the earliest manuscripts of Mark. 

Either Mark ended at 16:8 or there is an alternate ending which was lost almost immediately.  As a result, I don't worry about these verses as they seem to have been added after the fact.  Probably by a well-meaning person but probably after the fact.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy
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Offline penfold

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Re: For my fellow theists
« Reply #34 on: January 21, 2014, 07:58:00 AM »

Either Mark ended at 16:8 or there is an alternate ending which was lost almost immediately.  As a result, I don't worry about these verses as they seem to have been added after the fact.  Probably by a well-meaning person but probably after the fact.


Yes but isn't this the ever present problem with scripture. By what yardstick can you decide that the main author of Mk is onto the truth and not the later redactor?

After all the theological high-point of the Gospels (Jn 1:1-18) is also considered by most biblical scholars to be a later redaction, should we therefore ignore that to?

While I have always admired your clear head and undoubted compassion I do find your insistence that there is something special about the texts of the New Testament really puzzling.

I admire much of the NT too, and much of the philosophy of Chuang-tz and Lucretius' De rerum natura -  but I am free to pick and choose what I like without complex textual justification.

Why stay so shackled; especially to a book which contains so much hate?
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Offline wheels5894

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Re: For my fellow theists
« Reply #35 on: January 21, 2014, 07:59:08 AM »
that's a good point. OCG. These verse are definitely a later addition though we don't know quite when. Morna Hooker, a mark specialist, reckoned that the gospel was written to read to new 'recruits' whose next step was to find the risen Jesus in their lives.

Anyway, don't anyone go drinking poison or playing with snakes - we don't want to lose members here!

Note:-

The division of the text into later additions is normally based on the style of the text - the words used and the grammar. In this case there is a noticeable change in the style of the Greek text which leads people to surmise it wasn't the original author who we call Mark but whose identity we actually don't know.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2014, 08:00:51 AM by wheels5894 »
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Offline shnozzola

Re: For my fellow theists
« Reply #36 on: January 21, 2014, 08:21:38 AM »
[1] At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
[2] And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
[3] And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

I was one of the greatest apologists in the history of christian apology. For many years as a christian, as I kept watering down my beliefs - I decided that Jesus was actually saying that" the way children experience life is the correct way to experience it," and that enjoying life was experiencing the kingdom of heaven right here, right now.  And also the idea that jesus was only interested in pulling up the people that are not enjoying life, and pulling down those that are holding others down (adding baggage to life) in any way.

edit:  even when the idea of the "greatest" was brought up, jesus seemed to always turn it on it's head, showing how mistaken it is to think that having power helps one to enjoy life.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2014, 08:24:55 AM by shnozzola »
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Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: For my fellow theists
« Reply #37 on: January 21, 2014, 08:37:30 AM »
Quote

Yes but isn't this the ever present problem with scripture. By what yardstick can you decide that the main author of Mk is onto the truth and not the later redactor?

After all the theological high-point of the Gospels (Jn 1:1-18) is also considered by most biblical scholars to be a later redaction, should we therefore ignore that to?

I don't know that I have a yardstick per se.  For example, I didn't know John 1:1-18 is considered by most biblical scholars to be a later redaction. 

What a person decides to accept or reject is up to the individual.  I am a strong believer that since each of us are unique individuals then our understanding of theism will also be unique. 

Some may call that a cop-out but, to me anyway, the alternative is to mold people to my way of thinking / believing. 


Quote
While I have always admired your clear head and undoubted compassion I do find your insistence that there is something special about the texts of the New Testament really puzzling.

I admire much of the NT too, and much of the philosophy of Chuang-tz and Lucretius' De rerum natura -  but I am free to pick and choose what I like without complex textual justification.

Why stay so shackled; especially to a book which contains so much hate?

I feel the same freedom with the New Testament and Hebrew Bible.  For me, the Bible is a collection of writings written by many people over the centuries all trying to explain what it is like to experience God.  As such, I don't feel obligated to accept all that is written in the Bible as relevant for today.  If that means I am a "cafeteria" Christian, so be it. 

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy
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Offline penfold

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Re: For my fellow theists
« Reply #38 on: January 21, 2014, 08:44:03 AM »
I feel the same freedom with the New Testament and Hebrew Bible.  For me, the Bible is a collection of writings written by many people over the centuries all trying to explain what it is like to experience God.  As such, I don't feel obligated to accept all that is written in the Bible as relevant for today.  If that means I am a "cafeteria" Christian, so be it. 


I suppose I am more interested in why you call yourself a Christian as opposed to a generic theist. After all there are many texts which attempt to explain experiences of God, from Epicurus to Motzu to William James. Why are they not scripture?

Surely to be a Christian you are making some kind of special claim for the stories/experiences found in the NT? 
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away." - P.K.D.

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: For my fellow theists
« Reply #39 on: January 21, 2014, 09:48:51 AM »
I feel the same freedom with the New Testament and Hebrew Bible.  For me, the Bible is a collection of writings written by many people over the centuries all trying to explain what it is like to experience God.  As such, I don't feel obligated to accept all that is written in the Bible as relevant for today.  If that means I am a "cafeteria" Christian, so be it. 


I suppose I am more interested in why you call yourself a Christian as opposed to a generic theist. After all there are many texts which attempt to explain experiences of God, from Epicurus to Motzu to William James. Why are they not scripture?

Surely to be a Christian you are making some kind of special claim for the stories/experiences found in the NT?

I grew up in the Episcopal Church, then for many years was with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the past 15 years or so have been with the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA).  One could argue I am a Christian because I never knew any other church experience and that would be true. 

I am a Christian because I have chosen to accept Jesus the Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. 

I am not sure about the question on why various writings are not "scripture".  If you are asking why some of these writings did not make it into the Canon of manuscripts called the New Testament, I am not sure.  Some of them were not yet written and others may have seemed to generic and the people who put the New Testament Canon together may have not known of them.  If you are asking if these writings can give a person a glimpse or idea of God then I was say they are scripture.  How are you defining "scripture"?

Other than accepting Jesus as the Christ, what special claim do you think a Christian theist should make about the New Testament stories / experiences and why? 

Ever curious,

OldChurchGuy
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: For my fellow theists
« Reply #40 on: January 21, 2014, 10:09:20 AM »
Quote
Just seems to me that - for a religion where eternal afterlife is at issue - the question of what you need to do to get there should be the clearest and least ambiguous part of the faith?

Oddly, it has not occurred to me to question God why such differences are allowed.  I think that is because I take the Bible as attempts to explain what it is like to experience God.  Because each of us is unique, I am OK with each of us having a different experience with God. 

Yes, it would be nice if there were no ambiguity in a given religion so there was total unity in understanding it and applying it to our lives.  Similar, I suppose, to the ultimate computer program that has all the "if-then" variables accounted for. 

I apologize if that is a non-answer to the question.   Not sure how else to explain it.

I don't have a problem with every person having a different experience with god (should it exist), my concerns as I said are with the "what happens next". 

I think it is stretching my point to ask for ALL variables to be accounted for - not what I was implying at all.  I'm fairly certain that the Bible is silent on which colour underpants one wears, for example - but once we get up to more important questions, then yes - I DO believe that any god worthy of the description "good", who sets the criteria for eternal afterlife, damn well SHOULD make things quite clear.

Consider: there could be an aspect of scripture that two people are diametrically opposed on - and that aspect is one that will confer or refuse eternal happiness.  Both people hold their opinions honestly and devoutly throughout their lives, based on their understanding of an ambigious passage.

When they die, what happens?  Do both go to heaven, implying that what you believe comes a far second to how sincerely you believe?  In which case, prepare for a heaven full of atheists!

Or does only one go to heaven, implying that correct adherence to scripture is far more important than any amount of good intentions?  In which case, there will be many people who tried all their lives to do the right thing, who are even now suffering for the rest of eternity.  In what way can that god ever be described as good?

That's the quandry I find myself in, which raises its head every time I hear of two believers in the same book who hold conflicting opinions on what it tells us.
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
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Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: For my fellow theists
« Reply #41 on: January 21, 2014, 10:17:43 AM »
Quote
Just seems to me that - for a religion where eternal afterlife is at issue - the question of what you need to do to get there should be the clearest and least ambiguous part of the faith?

Oddly, it has not occurred to me to question God why such differences are allowed.  I think that is because I take the Bible as attempts to explain what it is like to experience God.  Because each of us is unique, I am OK with each of us having a different experience with God. 

Yes, it would be nice if there were no ambiguity in a given religion so there was total unity in understanding it and applying it to our lives.  Similar, I suppose, to the ultimate computer program that has all the "if-then" variables accounted for. 

I apologize if that is a non-answer to the question.   Not sure how else to explain it.

I don't have a problem with every person having a different experience with god (should it exist), my concerns as I said are with the "what happens next". 

I think it is stretching my point to ask for ALL variables to be accounted for - not what I was implying at all.  I'm fairly certain that the Bible is silent on which colour underpants one wears, for example - but once we get up to more important questions, then yes - I DO believe that any god worthy of the description "good", who sets the criteria for eternal afterlife, damn well SHOULD make things quite clear.

Consider: there could be an aspect of scripture that two people are diametrically opposed on - and that aspect is one that will confer or refuse eternal happiness.  Both people hold their opinions honestly and devoutly throughout their lives, based on their understanding of an ambigious passage.

When they die, what happens?  Do both go to heaven, implying that what you believe comes a far second to how sincerely you believe?  In which case, prepare for a heaven full of atheists!

Or does only one go to heaven, implying that correct adherence to scripture is far more important than any amount of good intentions?  In which case, there will be many people who tried all their lives to do the right thing, who are even now suffering for the rest of eternity.  In what way can that god ever be described as good?

That's the quandry I find myself in, which raises its head every time I hear of two believers in the same book who hold conflicting opinions on what it tells us.

You raise an excellent question and, at the risk of sounding flippant, I don't know the answer.  Rest assured if I do come up with an answer I will post it on this website.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy 
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle - Philo of Alexandria

Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion - Dalai Lama

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: For my fellow theists
« Reply #42 on: January 21, 2014, 10:20:11 AM »
That's the quandry I find myself in, which raises its head every time I hear of two believers in the same book who hold conflicting opinions on what it tells us.

You raise an excellent question and, at the risk of sounding flippant, I don't know the answer.  Rest assured if I do come up with an answer I will post it on this website.

Not a problem you don't have an answer - I don't find "I don't know" to be flippant at all.

I admit however I am curious as to how you deal with not knowing the answers to such questions in relation to your faith?
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
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Offline penfold

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Re: For my fellow theists
« Reply #43 on: January 21, 2014, 10:47:07 AM »
Other than accepting Jesus as the Christ, what special claim do you think a Christian theist should make about the New Testament stories / experiences and why? 



While I consider myself an atheist, I do think I have a sense of what theists call the 'divine', that is the depth and mystery of existence. It has been talked of in many ways; Tillich refers to it as that which is of ultimate concern. Otto talks of the wholly other. I have also heard it talked of and the sense of ourselves as finite standing in the face of the infinite etc... Moreover this revelation has within it a sense of ego-loss and thus an ethical insight captured in the principle of agape / compassion. I do not use the language myself but I am happy to accept that for some people this feeling could be called an "experience of God".

What distinguishes Christians from others who share this sense? It is, as you say, the acceptance of Jesus as a personal saviour. However the only reason one could have for accepting Jesus as persona saviour is if he had some special relationship to divinity. The only evidence for this relationship is scripture. Essentially to be a Christian one has to believe in the literal truth of the Gospel's claim to Jesus' divinity - and I have never understood how non-biblical literalists, like yourself, still hold this one claim as definitively true. I suppose this is what I mean about the "special claim" Christians make about the Gospels.

I know it shouldn't bother me - and I like the think of myself as a live and let live kind of guy - but I can't help it, it's like that smudge on an otherwise clean glass...

Anyhow sorry for the rambling reply and thank you for your thoughtful response.  :)
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away." - P.K.D.

Offline wheels5894

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Re: For my fellow theists
« Reply #44 on: January 21, 2014, 11:19:55 AM »
I rather think the claim by non-literalists is that the NT is true but does not require to be completely literally true.

For example, The Catholic church takes the last supper and says that when Jesus hands out the bread and wine to the disciples and says 'This is my body' and 'this is my blood' - Roam says that means that the bread and wine of the mass is actually the body and blood of Jesus, though they need Aristotelian philosophy to differentiate the accidence (the appearance) from substance (which is what the bread becomes after the consecration). Those who do not expect the text to be literally word for word would equally  accept the bread and wine but not and actually the body and blood of Jesus but representing those elements.

The NT is not completely clear about Jesus and his divinity and, based on the bible alone, there is no reason why one cannot have various views on this topic. The Early Church picked up on this and started to narrow the choices with the creeds but many Protestant churches today are not so worried about creeds as they are about a relationship with the other which is what Christianity was supposed to be, probably.
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such that its falshood would be more miraculous than the facts it endeavours to establish. (David Hume)

Offline penfold

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Re: For my fellow theists
« Reply #45 on: January 21, 2014, 11:43:19 AM »
I rather think the claim by non-literalists is that the NT is true but does not require to be completely literally true.

...

The NT is not completely clear about Jesus and his divinity and, based on the bible alone, there is no reason why one cannot have various views on this topic. The Early Church picked up on this and started to narrow the choices with the creeds but many Protestant churches today are not so worried about creeds as they are about a relationship with the other which is what Christianity was supposed to be, probably.

I appreciate this. However; surely it becomes impossible to accept Jesus as a personal saviour without believing that he hold a 'special relationship' to God? Whether or not we require an Aristotelian fudge and describe Jesus as homo-ousia with the father or not it is still necessary that Jesus is more than mere philosopher-mystic.

If Jesus is just a philosopher-mystic then he cannot be a personal saviour for the excellent reason that he's dead! My problem is this; if you are a non-literalist then you have taken the admirable step of saying that you will decide for yourself on what to believe and what not to believe.

I suppose my question is, by what measure do you decide that, say, walking on water should be interpreted symbolically but the resurrection literally?

It seems to me that there is a case of special pleading here. Non-literalists quite correctly assert their capacity to critically evaluate the claims of the NT, but then withdraw that capacity when it comes to the central issue of Christology. Or is there some good reason for holding the Christology true over other claims of scripture?

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away." - P.K.D.

Offline Mrjason

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Re: For my fellow theists
« Reply #46 on: January 21, 2014, 11:49:35 AM »

Oddly, it has not occurred to me to question God why such differences are allowed.  I think that is because I take the Bible as attempts to explain what it is like to experience God.  Because each of us is unique, I am OK with each of us having a different experience with God. 


Just out of interest, does your belief that everyone has a unique experience with god stretch to accepting that other religions are as equally valid as christianity because god is accounting to their "if then" variables?

Yes.

Some muslim friends of mine hold a similar point of view i.e. god sends the prophet who will be best for a particular people. Most of the christians that I ask this question say no.
Would you consider atheism a particular relationship with god albeit a one sided relationship at least for our lifespan on earth?

Offline jdawg70

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Re: For my fellow theists
« Reply #47 on: January 21, 2014, 12:10:00 PM »
I suppose my question is, by what measure do you decide that, say, walking on water should be interpreted symbolically but the resurrection literally?
Faith.

How do you know what to have faith in as true?

More faith.

Once you get to a point in inquiry[1] where interpreting a biblical claim as literal looks batsh*t crazy, it becomes symbolic.  If interpretation of that particular claim as symbolic has a significant, detrimental impact on the core of what you currently believe as true (be it the need for salvation, the acceptance of the divinity of Jesus, the acceptance of the infallibility of god, etc.), then the claim falls into a third category by playing The Ultimate TrumpcardTM: mysterious ways.
 1. Be it self-induced inquiry or at the behest of a target of conversation i.e. someone brings it up
"When we landed on the moon, that was the point where god should have come up and said 'hello'. Because if you invent some creatures, put them on the blue one and they make it to the grey one, you f**king turn up and say 'well done'."

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Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: For my fellow theists
« Reply #48 on: January 21, 2014, 12:42:31 PM »
That's the quandry I find myself in, which raises its head every time I hear of two believers in the same book who hold conflicting opinions on what it tells us.

You raise an excellent question and, at the risk of sounding flippant, I don't know the answer.  Rest assured if I do come up with an answer I will post it on this website.

Not a problem you don't have an answer - I don't find "I don't know" to be flippant at all.

I admit however I am curious as to how you deal with not knowing the answers to such questions in relation to your faith?

Because sometime back in my life, I concluded there are aspects of theology I will never fully understand or be able to completely explain.  The same with other topics in my life such as U.S. History, my field of work, as well as my wife & daughters.  :)

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy
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Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: For my fellow theists
« Reply #49 on: January 21, 2014, 12:46:59 PM »
Other than accepting Jesus as the Christ, what special claim do you think a Christian theist should make about the New Testament stories / experiences and why? 



While I consider myself an atheist, I do think I have a sense of what theists call the 'divine', that is the depth and mystery of existence. It has been talked of in many ways; Tillich refers to it as that which is of ultimate concern. Otto talks of the wholly other. I have also heard it talked of and the sense of ourselves as finite standing in the face of the infinite etc... Moreover this revelation has within it a sense of ego-loss and thus an ethical insight captured in the principle of agape / compassion. I do not use the language myself but I am happy to accept that for some people this feeling could be called an "experience of God".

What distinguishes Christians from others who share this sense? It is, as you say, the acceptance of Jesus as a personal saviour. However the only reason one could have for accepting Jesus as persona saviour is if he had some special relationship to divinity. The only evidence for this relationship is scripture. Essentially to be a Christian one has to believe in the literal truth of the Gospel's claim to Jesus' divinity - and I have never understood how non-biblical literalists, like yourself, still hold this one claim as definitively true. I suppose this is what I mean about the "special claim" Christians make about the Gospels.

I know it shouldn't bother me - and I like the think of myself as a live and let live kind of guy - but I can't help it, it's like that smudge on an otherwise clean glass...

Anyhow sorry for the rambling reply and thank you for your thoughtful response.  :)

The nature of Jesus is still an "Israel" for me (Israel can be translated as one who wrestles with God).  There are days I am OK with Jesus and God being one and there are days I wonder if he wasn't an enlightened mortal.  But, I enjoy the wrestling rather get discouraged by it so will plod along as one those pleasant delusional Christian theists on this website.

As always,

OldChurchGuy
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Offline penfold

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Re: For my fellow theists
« Reply #50 on: January 21, 2014, 02:32:29 PM »
... But, I enjoy the wrestling rather get discouraged by it so will plod along as one those pleasant delusional Christian theists on this website.

The thing is OCG, I should, at this point say fair enough. I should say it because we are all entitled to our beliefs.

Yet...

I must confess I find you a frustrating figure. While this may be the first time we have talked directly yours is a name I always look for in a thread. Looking at the posts you make and the comments you leave you are clearly capable of deep thought and a fan of honesty, both literal and emotional. You rightly take pride in what sounds like a strong and valued pastoral role in your church and extending that to this forum. You are indeed a great shelter and confidant to many theists here; you are - if you forgive the phrase - the classic 'avuncular' figure.

However every time you are directly challenged on issues of faith you make this strange manoeuvre: you rarely, if ever, come out in defence of your beliefs but take a conciliatory stand, acknowledging its paradoxes but insisting that I believe what I believe. You strategy reminds me of camouflage. It It does make me wonder if you Christianity is anything more than a comfortable habit - something you put on because (a) it suits you and (b) it keeps you warm at night.

I apologise if I've stepped over the line, but you remind me powerfully of a few friends of mine who for years 'kept going through the motions' because it was easy...

Anyhow; thank you for the conversation.

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away." - P.K.D.

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: For my fellow theists
« Reply #51 on: January 21, 2014, 02:58:22 PM »
... But, I enjoy the wrestling rather get discouraged by it so will plod along as one those pleasant delusional Christian theists on this website.

The thing is OCG, I should, at this point say fair enough. I should say it because we are all entitled to our beliefs.

Yet...

I must confess I find you a frustrating figure. While this may be the first time we have talked directly yours is a name I always look for in a thread. Looking at the posts you make and the comments you leave you are clearly capable of deep thought and a fan of honesty, both literal and emotional. You rightly take pride in what sounds like a strong and valued pastoral role in your church and extending that to this forum. You are indeed a great shelter and confidant to many theists here; you are - if you forgive the phrase - the classic 'avuncular' figure.

However every time you are directly challenged on issues of faith you make this strange manoeuvre: you rarely, if ever, come out in defence of your beliefs but take a conciliatory stand, acknowledging its paradoxes but insisting that I believe what I believe. You strategy reminds me of camouflage. It It does make me wonder if you Christianity is anything more than a comfortable habit - something you put on because (a) it suits you and (b) it keeps you warm at night.

I apologise if I've stepped over the line, but you remind me powerfully of a few friends of mine who for years 'kept going through the motions' because it was easy...

Anyhow; thank you for the conversation.

I never saw myself in the picture you painted but you may be right.  I realize that is a response your were critical of but I am at a loss on how else to respond.

The challenge / paradox here is trying to express a subjective notion of faith / belief in God to an audience which is seeking objective evidence.  As much as I would truly love to present objective evidence of God's existense, I cannot.  Put another way, there is no ritual, chant, incantation, string of words, or silent prayer which will consistently yield an entity that can be seen, measured and verified as God. 

So if it seems like I am dancing around an issue it is because I acknowledge for the purposes of this website there is no tangible objective proof of God's existense.  Yet, I am personally convinced, based on various events in my life God exists.  The challenge is that since I cannot prove my interpretation is correct I do my best to own the beliefs without getting into the classic "trust me; I know I'm right even though everyone on this website wants proof". 

Believe it or not, the people on this website have helped me a great deal in deciding just what do I believe and why.  And, I hope, that maybe the people on this website have also come to realize not all theists are out to save your souls or look down on you. 

Sincerely,

AvuncularOldChurchGuy :)
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle - Philo of Alexandria

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Offline magicmiles

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Re: For my fellow theists
« Reply #52 on: January 21, 2014, 04:03:08 PM »
And, I hope, that maybe the people on this website have also come to realize not all theists are out to save your souls or look down on you. 

Sincerely,

AvuncularOldChurchGuy :)

Hi OCG

I hope you don't mind me isolating this part of your post, and asking you a fairly direct question:

Do you in fact believe that all those who have heard and rejected the gospel will be eternally separated from God?
Go on up you baldhead.

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Re: For my fellow theists
« Reply #53 on: January 21, 2014, 04:37:55 PM »
And, I hope, that maybe the people on this website have also come to realize not all theists are out to save your souls or look down on you. 

Sincerely,

AvuncularOldChurchGuy :)

Hi OCG

I hope you don't mind me isolating this part of your post, and asking you a fairly direct question:

Do you in fact believe that all those who have heard and rejected the gospel will be eternally separated from God?

Personally, no.  I agree with the premise in the book entitled "Love Wins".  The author is an evangelical who has caught hell from fellow evangelicals because he advocates there is no eternal damnation.  Radical idea in some churches.

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy 
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle - Philo of Alexandria

Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion - Dalai Lama

Offline magicmiles

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Re: For my fellow theists
« Reply #54 on: January 21, 2014, 05:33:16 PM »
Thankyou for clarifying that.

As you probably suspect, I heartily disagree with that position. I did a bit of googling, and I am in agreement with the critque of "Love Wins" linked here:

http://www.probe.org/site/c.fdKEIMNsEoG/b.7729125/k.E07E/God_Wins_A_Critique_of_Rob_Bells_Love_Wins.htm
Go on up you baldhead.

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: For my fellow theists
« Reply #55 on: January 21, 2014, 05:40:55 PM »
Thankyou for clarifying that.

As you probably suspect, I heartily disagree with that position. I did a bit of googling, and I am in agreement with the critque of "Love Wins" linked here:

http://www.probe.org/site/c.fdKEIMNsEoG/b.7729125/k.E07E/God_Wins_A_Critique_of_Rob_Bells_Love_Wins.htm

They make a good point.  I suppose no one can be absolutely certain.  But I like Bell's analysis so will stay with it for now anyway.

As always,

OldChurchGuy
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Re: For my fellow theists
« Reply #56 on: January 21, 2014, 05:42:23 PM »
OldChurchGuy and magicmiles -

I'd like some clarity:

Do you both agree that 'eternal damnation' and 'eternal separation from god' are equivalent statements?

I'm inferring it but am uncertain.
"When we landed on the moon, that was the point where god should have come up and said 'hello'. Because if you invent some creatures, put them on the blue one and they make it to the grey one, you f**king turn up and say 'well done'."

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http://deepaksducttape.wordpress.com/

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: For my fellow theists
« Reply #57 on: January 21, 2014, 05:45:39 PM »
OldChurchGuy and magicmiles -

I'd like some clarity:

Do you both agree that 'eternal damnation' and 'eternal separation from god' are equivalent statements?

I'm inferring it but am uncertain.

Personally, I would distinguish the two:

Damnation, to me, involves more than just separation.  It also involves a physical punishment. 

As before, I have no way to prove this understanding. 

As always,

OldChurchGuy
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle - Philo of Alexandria

Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion - Dalai Lama