Author Topic: Problem with the parable of Lazarus  (Read 305 times)

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Offline Add Homonym

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Problem with the parable of Lazarus
« on: May 18, 2014, 02:08:09 AM »
... started in a new thread.

The problems with the Parable of Lazarus. Is it for real, or is it just a parable? Depends what Christian sect you belong to.

[16] The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.
[17] And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
[18] Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.

[19] There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
[20] And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
[21] And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
[22] And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
[23] And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
[24] And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
[25] But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
[26] And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
[27] Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:
[28] For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
[29] Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
[30] And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
[31] And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.


Initial apparent problems if taken as literal

- there is a hell prior to judgment day
- poor people can go to the "Bosom of Abraham", whether they are Christian or not
- rich people go to an apparent hell, without judgement
- [29] asserts that Abe and the prophets have warned of hell, despite its absence in the OT books picked by the Christian founders
- [31] asserts that the evidence from the prophets is so clear (about hell), that even direct evidence will not help

There are so many problems that some sects believe that this is just a story, but the scenario can be justified by using books that were believed at the time the NT was written. However, we don't have access to any in the original form. The most likely influence is the book of 1 Enoch, which describes the scenario where the dead souls are held in torment, prior to judgement. This was condemned and deleted - not even held as apocrypha.

So, it would be tempting to say that the parable was just a story, if it were not for the fact that it can be justified using books that were not included in the OT.

The people who decided which books should be in the OT also decided that there was no definitive Hebrew text, so they defined a particular translation of the LXX to be God's word. This is a problem, because the belief system that the NT is based upon, is not from any particular Jewish sect that can be identified. It is made from books that western Christians decided to include from various Greek translations that they had around, in 300AD.

Since the LXX that they included is God's word, we have to assume that it's complete. If this is the case, then there is no warning of hell/hades in the OT at all.

One problem is that Jesus forgot to specify which books were true, and which sect he belonged to. He is full of derision for the scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees, but he does not say he comes from any particular true sect. (He says that we will be angels in heaven, and that this is also supposedly in scripture. Where? Another missing book?)

The validity of the parable is judged by whether you think there are lost books, and Jesus is referring to these lost books, and also influenced by whether you think hell can be real, if the founding fathers left it out of the OT, because the books like Enoch were so full of other errors.

I think I have got most of the argument.


EDIT: one NT got changed to OT
« Last Edit: May 18, 2014, 02:26:42 AM by Add Homonym »
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Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: Problem with the parable of Lazarus
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2014, 08:18:38 PM »
Quote

The people who decided which books should be in the OT also decided that there was no definitive Hebrew text, so they defined a particular translation of the LXX to be God's word. This is a problem, because the belief system that the NT is based upon, is not from any particular Jewish sect that can be identified. It is made from books that western Christians decided to include from various Greek translations that they had around, in 300AD.

Since the LXX that they included is God's word, we have to assume that it's complete. If this is the case, then there is no warning of hell/hades in the OT at all.

You are correct.  There is a theory that some 300 to 400 years prior to Jesus of Nazareth after the Babylonians conquered the Southern Kingdom and took all the leaders back to their homeland (modern day Iraq) and after the Babylonians were, in turn, conquered by the Persians, the Jewish leaders were exposed to a radical idea (radical for the Jewish leaders).

It seems the Persians thought the world was a battle ground between a force of good and a force of evil.  Each of us were, at times, pawns in their titanic struggle to control earth.  The Jewish leaders had been struggling with the problem that if they were the chosen people, why were they conquered and here far away from the Promised Land?  This idea of there being a force of evil helped explain why their world was turned upside down. 

The Persians were very tolerant of alternate religions so long as the conquered people paid their tributes.  Thus, so the theory goes, Ezra and Nehemiah and the others took the idea back to Jerusalem with them and it percolated for about 3 centuries to the time of Jesus.  By then, the idea of the Satan had evolved from a prosecuting attorney to the embodiment of evil. 

Quote
One problem is that Jesus forgot to specify which books were true, and which sect he belonged to. He is full of derision for the scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees, but he does not say he comes from any particular true sect. (He says that we will be angels in heaven, and that this is also supposedly in scripture. Where? Another missing book?)

You are correct Jesus never specified which books of the Hebrew Bible were true and which were to be ignored.  Perhaps it was an oversight or perhaps he did and it was not seen fit to be part of the New Testament writings.  It seems to me angels are mentioned in various Hebrew Bible passages such as Lot and the visitors at Sodom and Gomorrah but I freely admit I am dredging up a memory rather than researching.

Quote
The validity of the parable is judged by whether you think there are lost books, and Jesus is referring to these lost books, and also influenced by whether you think hell can be real, if the founding fathers left it out of the OT, because the books like Enoch were so full of other errors.

I think I have got most of the argument.


EDIT: one NT got changed to OT

As always,

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Offline mrbiscoop

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Re: Problem with the parable of Lazarus
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2014, 10:29:38 PM »
When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realised that the Lord doesn't work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me.
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Offline YRM_DM

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Re: Problem with the parable of Lazarus
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2014, 09:12:12 AM »
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And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead

This kind of thing is said over and over again in the Bible or any cult or scam that requires faith.

"If you are a skeptic, you throw off my psychic radar so I can't speak to the dead that are close to you!"

"If you don't believe these dudes who are saying crazy stuff, you wouldn't believe it if someone rose from the dead."

"Blessed is he who believes and has not seen."

"If you are a skeptic, you mess up my reading of your future."

And so on...

But it's not true.

Everyone thought the earth was flat right?  Then they proved it is round.  Everyone believes it's round.

Everyone thought we only had the one galaxy for a long time... then they proved there are billions.  Everyone believes there are billions.

For a time, people thought lightning meant that a god was angry, but now we've proved that's like a giant instance of static electricity with a buildup of charge.

There are still people who don't believe the holocaust happened, or that diseases aren't just germs but a punishment from God, but, most people believe things that have been scientifically proven and demonstrated to our satisfaction.

So if God had done anything to show that he is real, as many people would believe that as believe the earth rotates around the sun, and we could choose what to do with that information.

It's simply not true that "we should just believe these crazy people telling us stuff about god, because, if we don't believe them, we wouldn't believe conclusive proof"

It's simply not true.   This is just a "thing" religion does to make believers scared to question it.
You can't spell BELIEVE without LIE...  and a few other letters.  B and E and V and I think E.

Offline GoatMan

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Re: Problem with the parable of Lazarus
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2014, 07:12:24 AM »
Sorry for my late response I'm new here and just saw this thread which is a response to a question I posed.

In general, God warned people, through Moses (who gave the Law) and the prophets, how to live and that He would judge the way they lived and treat them fairly. Maybe the word hell is never used but there is serious talk of severe consequences. {see the very end of Isaiah, for instance} If someone DID live a life of excessive luxury in this life while even ignoring the poor, maybe the way God "repays" is through some suffering in afterlife. Yes, I use the word SOME, because we know that Christ later goes and preaches to the dead (which would assert that the rich man [if he existed] had another chance to repent).

The Bible is a book of continual, increasing revelation. Jesus may bring hell to everyone's attention at the exact appropriate time when he begins speaking of it in the NT. (He is now in heaven and not preaching to the dead in Sheol [Hades in Greek], so it's good for us to know this nowadays before we die. But, in general, we cannot reasonably speculate God's plans or purposes. We CAN know some of His character. We do not exactly know what will happen between now and the end of eternity- but some parables, like the workers who work different spans of time getting paid equal wages, certainly suggest God is quite patient and gives people more than a fair chance. But He is also just. We will have to wait and see what He does, though, since, even though we have a more complete revelation now, not every detail has been revealed and no human knows all of what God has in plan).

You may think this has the imprint of a cleverly devised scheme, but it may in fact just be the best way to tell us what we needed to know when we needed to know it. You need to remember that Satan is at work too. Maybe he reveled some about the nature of life after death. He could have shared certain details that were true. Maybe certain folks wrote this, along with deceptive details, in books that were then rightly rejected. (No one said its always easy to discern truth from falsehood when looking at religious teachings- in fact false teachings and prophets are repeatedly warned against). The reason that this is a reasonable speculation is that Satan does seem to teach certain individuals special knowledge, like how to do sorcery and the like. So God had to meet us where we were at and clear things up.

God has been known to meet people where they are at even though they haven't followed the way He prefers (like allowing divorce certificates, even though He never intended for spouses to separate before death, to protect women from husbands who would reject their wives and just cast them away with or without legal divorce- at least the certificate allows them to remarry now and is the best way to handle the situation). He may not have intended for people to know about Hell but now He is good enough to clarify for us.

Also, you use some sweeping generalizations. The story doesn't suggest "all" poor people are given comfort in Sheol, or that, simply by being "rich," comfort is withheld. Maybe those who are rich and generous do receive comfort while those who are poor but nevertheless greedy are withheld comfort.

The Bible also teaches that Hades (Sheol in Hebrew) is cast into the lake of fire, so having a simplistic view of "hell" is incorrect. The lake of fire may not come before judgement day while Sheol does.

Don't you think that the brothers would dismiss Lazarus' ghost, just like the teaching suggests? "Look out! Lazarus' ghost has come to deceive us and scare us out of all our riches. Is this how he enacts revenge for us never giving handouts to him?"

The command to care for the poor SHOULD be enough. Would you suggest that those on trial tell a judge that their penalty should be reduced because a prisoner didn't come and warn them about the details of prison? No. It seems the Bible does have valid instructions if studied carefully, and with the right attitude.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2014, 08:19:32 AM by GoatMan »

Offline YRM_DM

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Re: Problem with the parable of Lazarus
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2014, 01:28:14 PM »
Quote
It seems the Bible does have valid instructions if studied carefully, and with the right attitude.

If the Bible has obvious, true, timeless, valid instructions (adding some words there that I've heard from many Christians), then why does it take "the right attitude" to see the truth?

I believe that you say that so that you can dismiss anyone who reads the bible and points out problems with it.  This is the same way psychics say that your doubt of them can interfere with their results.

What is the right attitude?   How do you know it's right?

Did you notice that something that is true can be read by anyone with enough intelligence and they all come to roughly the same conclusion?   Give 100 kids a new lego set and tell them to follow the instructions and 90+ of them hand you back the same model.

It seems like the only way to "read the bible with the right attitude" is to be willing to give every and any excuse for God when you read the crazy stuff in the bible.

"Moses was angry with his people and told them to go back and kill the women and children except the pre-teen virgins who they could keep as wives." paraphrased from Exodus

So the "right attitude" must mean that I rationalize all that stuff as somehow good?

You can't spell BELIEVE without LIE...  and a few other letters.  B and E and V and I think E.

Offline screwtape

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Re: Problem with the parable of Lazarus
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2014, 02:04:29 PM »
In general, God warned people, through Moses (who gave the Law) and the prophets, how to live and that He would judge the way they lived and treat them fairly.

That idea went out the window with Job.  In Job, yhwh was tempted by a satan to break his covenant.  The deal had been to provide protection etc for the hebrews who were loyal and followed his preposterous rules.  Satan suggested yhwh remove his protection and see if Job still stuck to the bargain.  In the end, he did, but only because yhwh came in and bullied him to do so.  "I am god, you are not.  So eat some more shit and tell me how much you like it,"  was about what he told Job.  It indicated that whatever the covenant may have been, yhwh felt he owed them nothing, while they still had to keep up their end. 

Fair treatment should not be expected.


We CAN know some of His character.

Yes, if the bible is to be belived.  I am afraid god does not come off well.


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Offline GoatMan

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Re: Problem with the parable of Lazarus
« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2014, 02:12:15 PM »
YRM_DM: I think the example I gave of the RIch Man's brothers is an analogy fit to answer your question (although I admit it is just speculation).   


Don't you think that the brothers would dismiss Lazarus' ghost, just like the teaching suggests? "Look out! Lazarus' ghost has come to deceive us and scare us out of all our riches. Is this how he enacts revenge for us never giving handouts to him?"


If your attitude is like that ^ then you will assume something different than if your attitude is teachable.  A teachable brother would at least consider the words a ghost has visited him to see if it is benign and offering truth.  A brother that assumes the ghost is only looking for revenge would probably be too sceptical to even consider the ghost as benign or honest.

Quote
What is the right attitude?   How do you know it's right?


The Bible elsewhere mentions some wrong attitudes:  the attitude of testing God is wrong, an attitude of seeking selfish gain is wrong, an attitude of arrogance or stubbornness is wrong (and I have to fight off these attitudes at times).
Right attitudes that the Bible mentions are:  a fear of the Lord (He does harness a lot of power and requires holiness of us), reverence, obedience, humility, eagerness to learn/listen (instead of just wanting to be heard which is something else I struggle with), "seeking with all your heart"

Do we have enough intelligence to comprehend God?  Does God desire mere comprehension?  If either of those answers are "no," then God would communicate to us in ways beyond the complexities of lego instructions.

I'm not saying Moses wasn't angry but I think a more important point is that God was probably angry.  (You would have to provide a good reference for us to discuss more than just your paraphrase).  God is just and so His anger would be warranted and He has the right to administer justice however He sees fit. <- I hope this was rational, but "rationalize" carries such negative connotations.


Offline GoatMan

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Re: Problem with the parable of Lazarus
« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2014, 02:17:03 PM »
Screwtape how do you know that Job didn't chronologically live before Abraham et al?  Isn't it fair for God to do whatever He wants with His creation?  Would a God who loves Job allow circumstances in Job's life that take away material possessions and human relationships and enhance Job's faith in and knowledge of that God (assuming that faith in God and knowledge of God are of utmost valuable which I do)?  Didn't God restore Job's possessions etc?

Offline screwtape

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Re: Problem with the parable of Lazarus
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2014, 08:35:03 PM »
Screwtape how do you know that Job didn't chronologically live before Abraham et al?

Because the bible is laid out more or less chronologically, to tell a continuous narrative.  And would it really matter?  Just because there is no covenant you think it is just dandy for god to torture people on a whim?  Do people really matter so little to you?

Isn't it fair for God to do whatever He wants with His creation?

My first reaction was, "Are you fucking serious?"  But then I realized that you are in agreement with me.  I said god does not respect any deal he may have made with anyone and Job was my example.  You agreed by saying he can do what ever. 

So this salvation you think you might get, might not be in store for you after all.  This forgiveness of sins by jesus might just be a practical joke.  You could die, get to the pearly gates and see me on the inside, while you, who accepted jesus, gets sent to hell for infinite torture.  And that would be fair to you.  Congratulations.  You are a total rube.


Would a God who loves Job allow circumstances in Job's life that take away material possessions and human relationships and enhance Job's faith in and knowledge of that God (assuming that faith in God and knowledge of God are of utmost valuable which I do)? 

No.  Not by any rational definition of "love". If you have the power avoid inflicting pain and suffering on people you love, then that is what you do.  When you are supposedly all-powerful, you are by definition able to avoid it.  You only indulge in it if you are some sort of sadist.

And what did Job learn?  In what way was his faith "enhanced"?  God ruined his life and then bullied him for...what?  He didn't even need to bully him!  Job never said a bad thing about god! 

It sounds like you try to sterilize the wholesale slaughter of Job's family by saying "take away his human relationships".  His family was killed by an angel and his slaves were burned by fire from the sky on a bet.  Let's not forget that or minimize it.

Didn't God restore Job's possessions etc?

?  So what?  If you watched your whole family be destroyed and then you yourself fall to a painful, tortuous sickness with boils over your body, would it really matter to you that at least you got new slaves and cattle?  Let's see how Job feels after his encounter with the divine:
"Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes." Job 42:6

Does that sound like a man for whom new possessions would be particularly meaningful?  Because to me he sounds absolutely traumatized.

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Offline Add Homonym

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Re: Problem with the parable of Lazarus
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2014, 02:34:16 AM »
Sorry for my late response I'm new here and just saw this thread which is a response to a question I posed.

In general, God warned people, through Moses (who gave the Law) and the prophets, how to live and that He would judge the way they lived and treat them fairly. Maybe the word hell is never used but there is serious talk of severe consequences. {see the very end of Isaiah, for instance} If someone DID live a life of excessive luxury in this life while even ignoring the poor, maybe the way God "repays" is through some suffering in afterlife. Yes, I use the word SOME, because we know that Christ later goes and preaches to the dead (which would assert that the rich man [if he existed] had another chance to repent).

The Bible is a book of continual, increasing revelation.

This is where I stop reading your post.

The Bible is only progressive revelation because people keep adding and changing it. You have to show that the progressive revelation is not just people using old material as a base to work their new lies from.

If God had a plan of progressive revelation, he would not leave such humdingers around (so I argue to myself).

The thing that's particularly unsatisfying about your argument, here, is that "Jesus", or pseudoJesus, says that the old texts are so specific about people burning in hell, that you require no further warning. However, anyone not exposed to the rantings of pseudoJesus would not know about hell, except from other unpublished fake texts, or from Greek lore.

A reasonable conclusion is that Luke 16 is just plain wrong, and Luke, the non-eye-witness should not have included this, in his incorrect and fatally flawed document. OR, that Christians wanted to silence all other theories about how to get to heaven, without Jesus, so they deleted all the other competing documents.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2014, 03:36:02 AM by Add Homonym »
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Offline Add Homonym

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Re: Problem with the parable of Lazarus
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2014, 02:48:14 AM »
It sounds like you try to sterilize the wholesale slaughter of Job's family by saying "take away his human relationships".  His family was killed by an angel and his slaves were burned by fire from the sky on a bet.  Let's not forget that or minimize it.

The story of Job is just one story that shows how Christians have misappropirated(sic) another religion.

It makes utterly no sense to a religion which thinks God deals out judgement in an afterlife, to have Job wish to go to sheol, to avoid God, or to believe that this is a story about Christian faith.

Some Christians are just unable to draw the line of silliness at any point.
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