Author Topic: A Small Rant of Suggestions for Improving Christianity.  (Read 555 times)

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Offline Graybeard

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A Small Rant of Suggestions for Improving Christianity.
« on: January 11, 2014, 08:52:23 PM »
Would Christians be happier if they abandoned the Old Testament entirely and assumed that Jesus was a relatively harmless man who believed that he was a messenger from some God called "God"?

<rant>The OT is a mish-mash of polytheistic myth/fiction, ignorance, military history, brutality, racial hatred, ordained inequality, error, terror, giants, God's many sons, unicorns, dragons, talking animals, men living to be almost 1,000 years old, a flood that never happened, abiogenesis of plagues, flying (and invincible iron)  chariots, men inside whales, lions' dens, and furnaces, floating axe-heads, human sacrifice, magic fire, and descriptions of linguistics, geography, medicine, genetics, and the natural world that would make a child laugh.

The OT is an embarrassment. It is as if Christians kept pointing to a new source of stones that atheists and others can throw at them.

There is no connection (other than one manufactured by enthusiastic scribes and apologists) between the two books. Is the God of Jesus anything like the God of the OT? No!

The Trinity is, as Harbinger found out thanks to Andy S. in http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,25855.msg593966.html#msg593966 just one large contradiction that was probably a marginal note in some scroll that was copied into the main text and, having accepted it, the Christian had to live with it. The Trinity makes no sense at all and never will. Nobody can explain it as it has no explanation and the rote: "Jesus is 100% God and 100% man and is 33.33% of the Trinity which is indivisible, is more than rank stupidity - it is gibberish[1].

And if they could get rid of this "virgin birth, the whole of the "nativity, early life of Jesus", miracles and rising from the dead - "I'll be back"" approach, remove all references to "living for ever", heaven and hell, prayer as a cure for everything, and the ramblings of the lunatic fringe (Revelations), I could class Christians as simply those who really think that a iron age shaman in a distant and dusty land that bears no relation to the present-day West or Africa, Australia, China, South America, etc, etc, had something worth listening to (even if he did go about cursing fig trees; that washing your hands before eating was not necessary and his hangers-on suggested being castrated was a good thing.)  And it would force them to learns some solid facts about the earth and science.</rant>

If I have missed anything, please insert it.


 1. I am staggered that any sane person could accept any of the Trinity story and pretend that it has some meaning.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2014, 08:56:14 PM by Graybeard »
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: A Small Rant of Suggestions for Improving Christianity.
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2014, 09:59:58 PM »
Would Christians be happier if they abandoned the Old Testament entirely and assumed that Jesus was a relatively harmless man who believed that he was a messenger from some God called "God"?

<rant>The OT is a mish-mash of polytheistic myth/fiction, ignorance, military history, brutality, racial hatred, ordained inequality, error, terror, giants, God's many sons, unicorns, dragons, talking animals, men living to be almost 1,000 years old, a flood that never happened, abiogenesis of plagues, flying (and invincible iron)  chariots, men inside whales, lions' dens, and furnaces, floating axe-heads, human sacrifice, magic fire, and descriptions of linguistics, geography, medicine, genetics, and the natural world that would make a child laugh.

The OT is an embarrassment. It is as if Christians kept pointing to a new source of stones that atheists and others can throw at them.

There is no connection (other than one manufactured by enthusiastic scribes and apologists) between the two books. Is the God of Jesus anything like the God of the OT? No!

The Trinity is, as Harbinger found out thanks to Andy S. in http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,25855.msg593966.html#msg593966 just one large contradiction that was probably a marginal note in some scroll that was copied into the main text and, having accepted it, the Christian had to live with it. The Trinity makes no sense at all and never will. Nobody can explain it as it has no explanation and the rote: "Jesus is 100% God and 100% man and is 33.33% of the Trinity which is indivisible, is more than rank stupidity - it is gibberish[1].

And if they could get rid of this "virgin birth, the whole of the "nativity, early life of Jesus", miracles and rising from the dead - "I'll be back"" approach, remove all references to "living for ever", heaven and hell, prayer as a cure for everything, and the ramblings of the lunatic fringe (Revelations), I could class Christians as simply those who really think that a iron age shaman in a distant and dusty land that bears no relation to the present-day West or Africa, Australia, China, South America, etc, etc, had something worth listening to (even if he did go about cursing fig trees; that washing your hands before eating was not necessary and his hangers-on suggested being castrated was a good thing.)  And it would force them to learns some solid facts about the earth and science.</rant>

If I have missed anything, please insert it.
 1. I am staggered that any sane person could accept any of the Trinity story and pretend that it has some meaning.

Most interesting. 

I understand everything in the first paragraph except where are dragons or unicorns found in the Hebrew Bible passages? 

I confess the Trinity is a mystery for me.  I haven't found an explanation that makes sense yet. 

I would argue Revelation is not a lunatic writing; rather it is chock full of references to the Hebrew Bible which would be comforting and readily understandable to the readers of the time.   And, for me anyway, Revelation is a book of hope; not a book of fear.  But, that is me. 

In re-reading this it seems your concern is with the "Literalists" who are convinced the correct way to interpret the Bible is literally unless the wording has a simile.  I don't care for them either.

As always,

OldChurchGuy
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Offline Aaron123

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Re: A Small Rant of Suggestions for Improving Christianity.
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2014, 11:20:46 PM »


I understand everything in the first paragraph except where are dragons or unicorns found in the Hebrew Bible passages? 


For unicorns: http://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=unicorn&qs_version=KJV

Numbers 23:22
God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.

Isaiah 34:7
And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.


For dragons: http://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=dragon&qs_version=KJV

Job 30:29
I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls.

Isaiah 13:22
And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged.


I know that "dragons" are referred to in several translations of the bible  However, "unicorns" are found mostly (only?) in the King James version, so it may just be a quirk of that translation.

EDIT: on biblegateway, I can only find 4 english translation (beside the King James version) out of 40-something that uses the word "unicorn".  Why the KJV uses that word, I really have no idea.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2014, 11:29:12 PM by Aaron123 »
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Offline bertatberts

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Re: A Small Rant of Suggestions for Improving Christianity.
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2014, 08:59:01 AM »

EDIT: on biblegateway, I can only find 4 english translation (beside the King James version) out of 40-something that uses the word "unicorn".  Why the KJV uses that word, I really have no idea.
What does the Hebrew bible use to refer to unicorns and what is it translated as. 

Addenum: The Hebrew bible refers to them as wild-oxen in both scriptures quoted.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2014, 09:03:49 AM by bertatberts »
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Offline G-Roll

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Re: A Small Rant of Suggestions for Improving Christianity.
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2014, 09:25:56 AM »
Would Christians be happier if they abandoned the Old Testament entirely and assumed that Jesus was a relatively harmless man who believed that he was a messenger from some God called "God"?
Then wouldn’t Jesus be just a man and not a god? Or the trinity of god with god inside god? Why would he be "worthy" of worship then? He would just be a nutty carpenter and we all know better than to listen to those people!
 
Quote
I could class Christians as simply those who really think that a iron age shaman in a distant and dusty land that bears no relation to the present-day West or Africa, Australia, China, South America, etc, etc, had something worth listening to (even if he did go about cursing fig trees; that washing your hands before eating was not necessary and his hangers-on suggested being castrated was a good thing.
Taking the magic away from Jesus defeats the point of Jesus INMHO. Sure one can say Jesus was a philosopher with some good ideas that everyone should listen to. Yet at its core Christianity offers eternal life, supernatural justice, a god that loves you so much he killed himself for your salvation, and an all powerful benevolent father figure. Yes one could argue what the core of Christianity is but that that’s not my point. If you make Jesus nothing more than some guy in the iron age desert he cannot deliver these basic tenants of Christian faith. It would be like asking Jerry Garcia to heal amputees.

Perhaps you wish Christianity was more a philosophy of peace and forgiveness? Technically it is that... Just it sounds to me that you would like to remove the magic and have some iron age philosophers running around.

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Re: A Small Rant of Suggestions for Improving Christianity.
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2014, 09:29:48 AM »
The Trinity is, as Harbinger found out thanks to Andy S. in http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,25855.msg593966.html#msg593966 just one large contradiction that was probably a marginal note in some scroll that was copied into the main text and, having accepted it, the Christian had to live with it. The Trinity makes no sense at all and never will. Nobody can explain it as it has no explanation and the rote: "Jesus is 100% God and 100% man and is 33.33% of the Trinity which is indivisible, is more than rank stupidity - it is gibberish[1].
 1. I am staggered that any sane person could accept any of the Trinity story and pretend that it has some meaning.

No doubt. Just think of all the trouble ancient writers had to go through to try and chisel all of the polytheism found in the Hebrew Bible down to one god. Then, centuries later, the scribblings of some asshole change the definition of monotheism from " the belief in a single god" to "one half-assed, forced acceptance of a fucked-up free-for-all".

Enough with your bullshit.
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Offline Jontom10

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Re: A Small Rant of Suggestions for Improving Christianity.
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2014, 11:04:47 AM »
Seems every Christian I know or meet has completely discounted the Old Testament...some might nod in it's direction and apologise with "that was the old law for people of that time and not modern people" or something like that.

Every now and then when they try to win an argument they will point to something in the OT with the usual path of circular logic.
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Offline Graybeard

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Re: A Small Rant of Suggestions for Improving Christianity.
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2014, 11:32:43 AM »
Most interesting. 

I understand everything in the first paragraph except where are dragons or unicorns found in the Hebrew Bible passages? 
I admit that for the serious theologian, the Hebrew Bible is as near as you are probably going to get to some honesty. I mainly use the KJV 1611 as that impresses fundamentalists most – its English is quite pleasing too.

It is the references that are simply annoying. Anyone who translated “reem” as unicorn must have accepted that there were unicorns[1].

Quote
I confess the Trinity is a mystery for me.  I haven't found an explanation that makes sense yet.
The “marginal note” theory is often accepted and seems as good as any. However, the Church has gone too far down the road to even think of correcting it. (More wilful stubbornness and bullying.)

Quote
I would argue Revelation is not a lunatic writing; rather it is chock full of references to the Hebrew Bible which would be comforting and readily understandable to the readers of the time.
Here we have yet another problem: One would think that Yahweh, who at the Tower of Babel, devised all the languages of the earth, might also have dictated to His prophets in a language that was not so flowery and spoke through the ages and not to those of the day.

On the other hand, if Revelations were valid and understandable to those of the day, it implies that all that it foretold, it is reasonable to think that all should have come to pass within the time-span of comprehensibility and allusion.   

Quote
And, for me anyway, Revelation is a book of hope; not a book of fear.  But, that is me.
Obviously, as one of the 2.8 billion marked for slaughter, you will not expect me to concur. ; )

Quote
In re-reading this it seems your concern is with the "Literalists" who are convinced the correct way to interpret the Bible is literally unless the wording has a simile.  I don't care for them either.

There is a line to be drawn somewhere in the individual interpretations of the Bible. Many believers go further and actively ignore some passages. It is a common thread amongst atheists that those who take belief from the Bible (and what other source is there?) take what pleases them. It may be something they have embraced already or something that they find pleasing or convenient to embrace, but nevertheless, to a man, their perception of what is literal, what is to be interpreted and how, what is allegorical, differs, creating as many images of Yahweh and Jesus as there are people.

If we add to this
1.   The Creator’s knowledge being restricted to that which was known at the time, rather than insights into the actual workings of the world that, were He the Creator, He must have known, 
2.   The saying, “The law [of England] is what annoys the middle-classes.” (I’m sure that was true in OT Israel as everywhere else.)
3.   The OT(T) behaviour of a bellicose primitive tribe
4.   The incredible, anally retentive control-freaks that (with few exceptions) the OT lauds.
5.   The fact that all NT advice on behaviour boils down to “I’m speaking to you all here: (a) Don’t annoy people, (b) don’t be uptight, and (c) be reasonable.”

We can see that the Bible, far from needing to be inspired by an omni-everything God, is merely the feelings and orders of men of the day; men who were in positions of power and influence and would seek to be obeyed at any cost to reality.

In fact, all major godly characters in the Bible were fundamentalists with an absolute, solipsistic self-belief that derived from their own concept of Yahweh, in the same way that each believer today has their own concept.

So, here’s the difficulty in
Quote
I don't care for them [literalists] either.
Many will go through life happily being a “fluffy-bunny” or “cafeteria” Christian but they and the myriad of individual fundamentalists are of the same stock, and, although we know the cause, we cannot tell until it is too late how any one of them will turn out.

Mankind, being a social animal, requires leaders. However, history has shown that mankind is not always good at choosing leaders. I am constantly surprised by the followers of L Ron Hubbard, David Ike, Benny Hinn, Ray Comfort, etc. Time after time, these snake-oil salesmen and mad men have been proven wrong, proven to be slipperier than a greased eel, yet, such is the faith that they inspire, that apologists leap, unasked, to their defence.

Your name is well chosen. You come across as (a) Don’t annoy people, (b) don’t be uptight, and (c) be reasonable[2]. You are also well-read. You are entirely suitable to be a theist/deist. Not everyone out there is suitable to have any belief as many have a solipsistic tendency to demand that we obey their own personal understanding and philosophy[3].

I recommend the book, “Small Gods”, by Terry Pratchett (cheap and used on Amazon.com) Brilliantly written, a joy to read, and very funny, it tells the story of a monk who comes into possession of an almost forgotten god and, as the story unfolds, the god gathers more and more adherents, and grows in arbitrary power and savagery. 

Finally, if you have read this far, thank you and, what then is your take on Revelations?
 1. There is a defence at the wonderfully named site “The King James Version is Demonstrably Inerrant” http://www.kjvtoday.com/home#TOC-The-King-James-Version-is-Demonstra that is probably true but still doesn’t explain the rationale of the decision to include “unicorn”. However, we must not forget that KJV was written at the behest of a king who was convinced there were witches
 2. I always imagine you as a C of E vicar in a pleasant English village c. 1954… I don’t know why…
 3. there is a reason for this but it is off-topic
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline Quesi

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Re: A Small Rant of Suggestions for Improving Christianity.
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2014, 12:28:19 PM »
GB- You know the OT much better than I do, and I'm certain that everything that you put on your list is absolutely true.  But I really put a different spin on it.

I think it is a FASCINATING document.  I mean, I don't think that there is any other single source that gives us as much insight into an ancient culture.  The OT tells us about how they formed their governments, how they used currency, details the role of families in society, details warfare and attitudes towards their "enemies," and even attempts to reduce war crimes by addressing the issues of rape and capture.  There is so much about how to treat members of your community, your neighbors, travelers, etc.  And then we get to see the myths and stories and the (rather limited) role of art in society.  And of course, there is the attempt to answer the BIG questions.  How did our earth come to be?  What happens when we die?  Why do bad things happen? 

Sure.  It is full of contradictions, and myth gets mixed into everything from primitive scientific speculation to models for civil society.  But there is a lot of good stuff in there.  And some of it actually rings true, even today.  Much of it, (perhaps most of it) is so contextual, that the faithful don't even try to apply it to contemporary society.  Nobody ever talks about the fair conversion rate for Shekels or the proper way to engage in animal sacrifice, and Christians seem to think that marrying your rapist and having your disobedient kids stoned to death is Sharia law that has nothing to do with the common roots of Islam and Christianity.   But there is enough in there than anybody can pick and chose what they like, and explain away the bizarre stuff. 

But still.  It is a fascinating, revealing document, that tells more about this ancient society than any set of hieroglyphics or the Popul Vuh or any of the ancient Buddhist texts or even the Greek and Roman myths. 

Christianity, Islam and Judaism are all have their roots in these long, rambling stories and mandates.  And you can't have any of them without the OT for the faithful to pick and chose from.     

Offline Graybeard

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Re: A Small Rant of Suggestions for Improving Christianity.
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2014, 09:35:25 AM »
GB- You know the OT much better than I do, and I'm certain that everything that you put on your list is absolutely true.  But I really put a different spin on it.

I think it is a FASCINATING document.  [...

Christianity, Islam and Judaism are all have their roots in these long, rambling stories and mandates.  And you can't have any of them without the OT for the faithful to pick and chose from.   
Oh, don't get me wrong. The OT is all you say it is. My gripe is with Christians and their use (or rather non-use) of it. The philosophy of Jesus devoid of history and superstition is interesting and, as various mild Christians show, harmless. However, the OT is brutal and not at all in the mould of Jesus.

The OT is rather like a bottle of whiskey - you or I could buy one and a year later still be having the odd drink from it, whereas an alcoholic would have finished it within moments and, whilst rambling, fighting and shouting would be looking for more.
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: A Small Rant of Suggestions for Improving Christianity.
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2014, 09:54:00 AM »
Please know I am not ignoring you.  Working on other responses and other responsibilities of life.  I WILL get back to this thread ASAP.

With deepest apologies for the delay,

OldChurchGuy
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Offline Hatter23

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Re: A Small Rant of Suggestions for Improving Christianity.
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2014, 11:13:27 AM »
Please know I am not ignoring you.  Working on other responses and other responsibilities of life.  I WILL get back to this thread ASAP.

With deepest apologies for the delay,

OldChurchGuy

Funny, this is the only theist I've believed in the past two year who has said something to this effect. In fact, I was going through my old posts and noticing how often, "I'll get back to that" was the last thing theists post to threads, if not the whole board.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2014, 11:15:22 AM by Hatter23 »
An Omnipowerful God needed to sacrifice himself to himself (but only for a long weekend) in order to avert his own wrath against his own creations who he made in a manner knowing that they weren't going to live up to his standards.

And you should feel guilty for this. Give me money.

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: A Small Rant of Suggestions for Improving Christianity.
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2014, 09:15:24 PM »


I understand everything in the first paragraph except where are dragons or unicorns found in the Hebrew Bible passages? 


Quote
For unicorns: http://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=unicorn&qs_version=KJV

Numbers 23:22
God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.

Isaiah 34:7
And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.

According to my NIV Study Bible, both verses translate the word as "wild oxen".  A footnote in the Numbers verse indicates it can be translated as "aurochs" or "oryx" both of which are a traditional image of power in ancient Near East.

Quote
For dragons: http://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=dragon&qs_version=KJV

Job 30:29
I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls.

Isaiah 13:22
And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged.


I know that "dragons" are referred to in several translations of the bible  However, "unicorns" are found mostly (only?) in the King James version, so it may just be a quirk of that translation.

EDIT: on biblegateway, I can only find 4 english translation (beside the King James version) out of 40-something that uses the word "unicorn".  Why the KJV uses that word, I really have no idea.

The NIV uses "jackals" in the Job passage and the Isaiah passage.  Proving once again, a given translation is fine but multiple translations might give the reader a better idea of the author's intent. 

As always,

OldChurchGuy
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Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: A Small Rant of Suggestions for Improving Christianity.
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2014, 09:42:59 PM »
Quote
Finally, if you have read this far, thank you and, what then is your take on Revelations?

I have concluded Revelation is a book of hope.  The author is showing through the many plagues and woes that no matter how rotten things are, no matter how bad things become, don't worry; God will have the final word.  Now, if you are a theist in the late first century Mid-East and the Temple has been destroyed by those pagan Romans and Mt. Vesuvius has destroyed a couple of towns, it may very well seem like the whole world is falling  apart.   

There are those who see Revelation as a book written for the times; others that it is a long flowing history starting when it was written and moving into a future date for total fulfillment; others see it as being written for the future only and that we are in the final stages just prior the second coming of Jesus the Christ; and there are those who see it as symbolic only with timeless truths applicable for all eras.  Each interpretation has their strengths and weaknesses. 

End of lecture.

As always,

OldChurchGuy
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Offline screwtape

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Re: A Small Rant of Suggestions for Improving Christianity.
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2014, 08:47:30 AM »
I have concluded Revelation is a book of hope. 

I think that is generous.  I see it more as a revenge fantasy.  Which, I suppose is a kind of hope for the people who wrote it.  But it is not a very friendly hope nor particularly christlike.  At least, not the mild, meek and prince of peace version of christ.  It is more of a "I hope you sonsabitches die horribly and I get to watch!" kind of hope.
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Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: A Small Rant of Suggestions for Improving Christianity.
« Reply #15 on: January 14, 2014, 10:08:08 AM »
I have concluded Revelation is a book of hope. 

I think that is generous.  I see it more as a revenge fantasy.  Which, I suppose is a kind of hope for the people who wrote it.  But it is not a very friendly hope nor particularly christlike.  At least, not the mild, meek and prince of peace version of christ.  It is more of a "I hope you sonsabitches die horribly and I get to watch!" kind of hope.

Perhaps I am being generous and Revelation is more of a book of vengeful hope.  Can't prove which idea is correct.  Regardless, thanks for the interpretation. 

I know I am sounding like a broken record but you guys have no idea how WONDERFUL it is to exchange theological ideas with others in a civil atmosphere. 

Ever grateful,

OldChurchGuy
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Offline Hatter23

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Re: A Small Rant of Suggestions for Improving Christianity.
« Reply #16 on: January 14, 2014, 10:14:58 AM »
I have concluded Revelation is a book of hope. 

I think that is generous.  I see it more as a revenge fantasy.  Which, I suppose is a kind of hope for the people who wrote it.  But it is not a very friendly hope nor particularly christlike.  At least, not the mild, meek and prince of peace version of christ.  It is more of a "I hope you sonsabitches die horribly and I get to watch!" kind of hope.

Perhaps I am being generous and Revelation is more of a book of vengeful hope.  Can't prove which idea is correct.  Regardless, thanks for the interpretation. 

I know I am sounding like a broken record but you guys have no idea how WONDERFUL it is to exchange theological ideas with others in a civil atmosphere. 

Ever grateful,

OldChurchGuy

May I ask your view on the historical record of Revelations barely making it in to accepted cannon? I view it as a political move to pacify the heretical Monatists and deflate the brewing violence between sects in the Roman Empire. I.E. We'll accept you favored text into our cannon if you don't try to form a competing church...not unlike(politically not morally) the 3/5ths solution when forming the U.S.

 
« Last Edit: January 14, 2014, 11:33:21 AM by Hatter23 »
An Omnipowerful God needed to sacrifice himself to himself (but only for a long weekend) in order to avert his own wrath against his own creations who he made in a manner knowing that they weren't going to live up to his standards.

And you should feel guilty for this. Give me money.

Offline wheels5894

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Re: A Small Rant of Suggestions for Improving Christianity.
« Reply #17 on: January 14, 2014, 11:35:43 AM »
Quote
Finally, if you have read this far, thank you and, what then is your take on Revelations?

I have concluded Revelation is a book of hope.  The author is showing through the many plagues and woes that no matter how rotten things are, no matter how bad things become, don't worry; God will have the final word.  Now, if you are a theist in the late first century Mid-East and the Temple has been destroyed by those pagan Romans and Mt. Vesuvius has destroyed a couple of towns, it may very well seem like the whole world is falling  apart.   

There are those who see Revelation as a book written for the times; others that it is a long flowing history starting when it was written and moving into a future date for total fulfilment; others see it as being written for the future only and that we are in the final stages just prior the second coming of Jesus the Christ; and there are those who see it as symbolic only with timeless truths applicable for all eras.  Each interpretation has their strengths and weaknesses. 

End of lecture.

As always,

OldChurchGuy

You are about on the nail with this one. Revelation is written to support the communities suffering under persecution and written in OT code for protection from the Romans. The only thing is, which persecution. It is usually put somewhere in the 90s where Domitian was having 'fun' with Christians. However quite  a few people have suggested it fits in better with the Neroan persecutions in the 60s following on from the fire in Rome. It certainly seems to fit well there.

Whatever it is, what it is not is a book of fortune telling as many fundamentalists would like us to think so it is really no use to find out what will happen when the end of the world comes - whether by the sun's expansion in 5 million years or the coming of Christ!
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 OldChurchGuy

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Re: A Small Rant of Suggestions for Improving Christianity.
« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2014, 06:44:50 PM »
I have concluded Revelation is a book of hope. 

I think that is generous.  I see it more as a revenge fantasy.  Which, I suppose is a kind of hope for the people who wrote it.  But it is not a very friendly hope nor particularly christlike.  At least, not the mild, meek and prince of peace version of christ.  It is more of a "I hope you sonsabitches die horribly and I get to watch!" kind of hope.

Perhaps I am being generous and Revelation is more of a book of vengeful hope.  Can't prove which idea is correct.  Regardless, thanks for the interpretation. 

I know I am sounding like a broken record but you guys have no idea how WONDERFUL it is to exchange theological ideas with others in a civil atmosphere. 

Ever grateful,

OldChurchGuy

May I ask your view on the historical record of Revelations barely making it in to accepted cannon? I view it as a political move to pacify the heretical Monatists and deflate the brewing violence between sects in the Roman Empire. I.E. We'll accept you favored text into our cannon if you don't try to form a competing church...not unlike(politically not morally) the 3/5ths solution when forming the U.S.

I am flattered and thank you for the question.

From where I sit, I think Revelation made it into the final Canon for two reasons:

(1) Of the various Apocalyptic writings (writings describing / predicting the second coming of Jesus the Christ) this one was the closest to being Orthodox (Orthodox meaning fitting the main stream of theological belief and understanding at the time).  There are other Apocalyptic writings but they all seem to be more "out there" than the version by John.  (see Non-Canonical list at this link:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apocalyptic_writings#Non-canonical_2 )  It is my understanding even Eusebius had Revelation on his "iffy" list of books to include (along with "definite" and "probably" lists) in the final Canon. 

(2) It is now about 300 years after the time of Jesus the Christ so it seems a pretty safe bet the second coming is not imminent.  Yet, human nature being what it is, few leaders were willing to create a Canon without a closing book that looked to the future of the church.  Can you honestly expect the New Testament to end with Jude? 

There may have been a lot more politics and wheeling/dealing in the creation of the Canon than we will ever know.  I recall reading, for example, the Gospel of John is a well masked Gnostic gospel that was allowed in with the understanding the Gnostics would be appeased.  Who knows?

One can argue that the final Canon of New Testament books was a classic example of human politics at it's best (or worst depending on your view point).  And one can argue that despite the well meaning humans involved, the books that made it into the New Testament Canon were exactly the ones God wanted and that God worked quietly behind the scenes.  I can't prove either idea so please don't ask for proof.

Hope this was of some help.

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 OldChurchGuy

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Re: A Small Rant of Suggestions for Improving Christianity.
« Reply #19 on: January 14, 2014, 06:54:52 PM »
Quote
Finally, if you have read this far, thank you and, what then is your take on Revelations?

I have concluded Revelation is a book of hope.  The author is showing through the many plagues and woes that no matter how rotten things are, no matter how bad things become, don't worry; God will have the final word.  Now, if you are a theist in the late first century Mid-East and the Temple has been destroyed by those pagan Romans and Mt. Vesuvius has destroyed a couple of towns, it may very well seem like the whole world is falling  apart.   

There are those who see Revelation as a book written for the times; others that it is a long flowing history starting when it was written and moving into a future date for total fulfilment; others see it as being written for the future only and that we are in the final stages just prior the second coming of Jesus the Christ; and there are those who see it as symbolic only with timeless truths applicable for all eras.  Each interpretation has their strengths and weaknesses. 

End of lecture.

As always,

OldChurchGuy

You are about on the nail with this one. Revelation is written to support the communities suffering under persecution and written in OT code for protection from the Romans. The only thing is, which persecution. It is usually put somewhere in the 90s where Domitian was having 'fun' with Christians. However quite  a few people have suggested it fits in better with the Neroan persecutions in the 60s following on from the fire in Rome. It certainly seems to fit well there.

Whatever it is, what it is not is a book of fortune telling as many fundamentalists would like us to think so it is really no use to find out what will happen when the end of the world comes - whether by the sun's expansion in 5 million years or the coming of Christ!

You are correct that dating Revelation is no easier than dating any of the other books of the New Testament. 

Nero was definitely no friend of the early Christian movement.  The number 666 in Revelation 13 can be shown to = "Neron" in a classic past time of the era of assigning numerical value to letters and names.  Using the standard letter value of the time "Neron" = 666.  And, it is my understanding Nero went by this title.  Interestingly, many of the earliest copies of Chapter 13 have 616 = "Nero" since "N" has a value of 50.  Because of the wording regarding this entity, Revelation was probably written after Nero's death.  Apparently, similar to Elvis Presley and Adolf Hitler, there were rumors he really didn't die and was coming back with an army to retake Rome.  People have a hard time letting heroes and villains die, it seems. 

But, was Revelation written in the time of Domitian?  I have no idea. 

Regardless, it is an interesting book but not one worth obsessing over. 

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 12 Monkeys

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Re: A Small Rant of Suggestions for Improving Christianity.
« Reply #20 on: January 14, 2014, 07:35:22 PM »
Modern followers of God don't need the OT. Lets look at the black plague,killed millions,followers thought it was the wrath of their god. As science later came to understand the cause of the black plague,you could no longer attribute it to a god. Point being,there will always be  "black plague" moments through history and in modern times where followers will say "Goddidit". Even though a scientific explanation exists (hurricanes,AIDS,earthquakes,twisters)  The modern follower does not need the OT to remind them God likes to punish and kill indiscriminately. They can point to anything that naturally happens on the earth and point to God.
There's no right there's no wrong,there's just popular opinion (Brad Pitt as Jeffery Goines in 12 monkeys)

Offline wheels5894

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Re: A Small Rant of Suggestions for Improving Christianity.
« Reply #21 on: January 15, 2014, 03:52:53 AM »
Modern followers of God don't need the OT. Lets look at the black plague,killed millions,followers thought it was the wrath of their god. As science later came to understand the cause of the black plague,you could no longer attribute it to a god. Point being,there will always be  "black plague" moments through history and in modern times where followers will say "Goddidit". Even though a scientific explanation exists (hurricanes,AIDS,earthquakes,twisters)  The modern follower does not need the OT to remind them God likes to punish and kill indiscriminately. They can point to anything that naturally happens on the earth and point to God.

True, but people being what they are, someone at least is bound to want some more explanation of a tragedy that the purely scientific which often shows a random chance of the event - like why dud the plague hit when it di? I think it is only human nature to want answers but I rather think education won't stop people wanting something.

Certainly, though, explanations that include god or god's wrath are not going to really help and may even make things harder for those who experience the event.
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 12 Monkeys

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Re: A Small Rant of Suggestions for Improving Christianity.
« Reply #22 on: January 15, 2014, 10:19:28 AM »
For theists it makes it easier to understand and attribute the act to God than to think rationally. A tragic event= a strengthening of faith

 Theists are still pointing to events like the Black Plague...much like the "flood" as a reminder who is in charge,God. Even though scientific explanations exist......Goddidit
There's no right there's no wrong,there's just popular opinion (Brad Pitt as Jeffery Goines in 12 monkeys)