Expanded Theological Discussion for Spiritual Seekers, Believers, and Everyone Else

101 posts / 0 new
Last post
stephanie
stephanie's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/21/2011
Hat Tips: 9983
Posts: 967
Expanded Theological Discussion for Spiritual Seekers, Believers, and Everyone Else

Hello all,

This topic will be an experiment to see if we can have a friendly topic to discuss religion and theology. All are welcome, from believers to atheists. You do not have to agree on anything. Please try to be respectful of other people's beliefs. Try to avoid proselytizing - i.e., trying to "win" someone over to your particular belief system - and instead, try to listen and understand where someone is coming from.

No flames, insults or trolling will be tolerated. Please keep debate respectful and on the issues. Passion is fine as long as it's not used to attack others but to express yourself with vigor and enthusiasm.

Thank you! 

Edited by admin on 11/08/2014 - 06:27
stephanie
stephanie's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/21/2011
Hat Tips: 9983
Posts: 967
A question to start the topic off...

Here is a question to get some discussion going. It is inspired by some interaction on the Christian thread. The question is the following:

Do you believe the Bible is the literal word of God, why or why not?

I'll amend this question to also ask: Does believing in a literal Bible make or break your belief in God? Would it be easier for you to believe in God if the Bible wasn't literal? Or vice versa? Do you believe God has spoken through any other Scriptures (for example, the Sikhs have the Siri Guru Granth Sahib)?

Please be respectful of everyone's responses! 

Cerote
Cerote's picture
Offline
Joined: 06/16/2011
Hat Tips: 258
Posts: 44
Bart Ehrman's book, "Misquoting Jesus" is convincing for me.

Ehrman documents many, many changes, omissions, additions, and distortions of the books of the Bible as they were copied and translated over and over throughout history.  I was raised Catholic, so we didn't read the Bible at home to any extent.  In my twenties I read it for the first time entirely, and I believe it is well worth it to study it over and over again, but no, I do not believe that what we have now is the literal word of God.

Larry
Larry's picture
Offline
Joined: 06/14/2011
Hat Tips: 7685
Posts: 1041
Faith and duty

Stephanie,

Hopefully you'll read the latest comments on the Faith Thread across the way, as some comments have been directed to you.

Count me as an admirer of yours. Hopefully you won't feel anyone here or there is "trying to "win" someone over" to their particular belief system in a way that is not through love, kindness and best regards for your good. That being said, it is a Christian's duty to win hearts and minds and point toward God. Yet so often, as imperfect as we all are, we all can cause the opposite effect than intended if we "push". Good intentions without great care often lead to bad outcomes.

Sermonizing can be a turn off to be sure. Forgive those that might simply be sincere and passionate, yet forget their social graces. I haven't seen a bit of that on Faith Street, but if you have felt that, I plead that you give benefit of doubt... and drop in when you can. I'll do the same here.

All the best with this new thread. What a Baskin-Robbins selection of flavors Turd has created with this new site!

(admittedly, I'm still a basic chocolate and vanilla guy myself) :)

stephanie
stephanie's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/21/2011
Hat Tips: 9983
Posts: 967
Thanks, Larry

Hi Larry,

I certainly don't take offense at anyone sharing their faith with me. I started this thread in part to help keep more theological discussions in a separate area, so those who are looking for a supportive place to connect with others who share their Christian faith don't feel that they need to defend it in that original thread. And then those who want to ignore theological discussions can do so. :-)

stephanie
stephanie's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/21/2011
Hat Tips: 9983
Posts: 967
Response to Chin Music, OC15

Here's my response to some comments from the Thread of Faith:

First of all, thanks for sharing the info. Chin, I haven't had a chance yet to read your link but I will.

I have been thinking about how to comment without getting too deep into my personal beliefs. I guess I'll just comment generally that I think there are two basic kinds of Christians. 1) Those who look for certainty and take comfort from a literal reading of the Bible 2) Those who, by nature of their personality and thinking style, can never take the Bible literally and may have a need to question everything, but ultimately find some level of peace in the idea that we cannot fully know God from our limited perspective, and that's OK.

Growing up Episcopalian, where the Bible is seen as "authoritative" but not "literal," I am more in camp 2. You do not need to even believe in the Virgin Birth as an Episcopalian, though this has been controversial in the past....check out this article in Time from 1924:

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,717437,00.html#ixzz1SsfvtmOD

With this in mind, for those who do see the Bible as the literal word of God, it may be difficult to understand why someone wouldn't. The tendency might be, when dealing with someone who is questioning or unbelieving, to share quotes from the Bible to "prove" something to the doubter. For example, I've seen people on discussion boards, when talking to an atheist about Jesus, try to plead their case with the atheist by using Bible quotes as "proof."

Well, if you're dealing with an atheist who doesn't believe in the literal Bible, quoting from it to prove Jesus was God would be about as effective as quoting from Harry Potter to prove that magic is real. (I'm certainly not suggesting that the Bible is fiction like Harry Potter, but that for some it holds about the same weight.)

I'm not an atheist, but I see the Bible as allegorical, not literal. I find theology fascinating, but I am interested in more than just the Bible. I'm interested in what Buddha had to say, what the Vedas were about, and I've also taken inspiration from the Sikh holy book. (Sikhism is monotheistic like Christianity, and it was developed as a reaction to the worst excesses of Hinduism.)

So how can someone who is a Biblical literalist best share their faith with someone who is not a literalist and perhaps never will be? 

One suggestion I have is to perhaps focus more on sharing personal experiences with Jesus and how He may be at work in your life. This may not sway the atheist, but it may not immediately put up a roadblock in the way a Bible verse might.

Just some food for thought...

Thank you!
Stephanie

Bay
Bay's picture
Offline
Joined: 06/14/2011
Hat Tips: 1760
Posts: 89
Good Points

Thank you Stephanie,

After your post on the Thread of Faith I knew scripture was going to be presented to you and as you stated would not prove convincing ...

With this in mind, for those who do see the Bible as the literal word of God, it may be difficult to understand why someone wouldn't. The tendency might be, when dealing with someone who is questioning or unbelieving, to share quotes from the Bible to "prove" something to the doubter. For example, I've seen people on discussion boards, when talking to an atheist about Jesus, try to plead their case with the atheist by using Bible quotes as "proof."

From a bible believing Christian perspective OC15 did a wonderful job of laying out our belief and I love him for it. It was well written and gentle from that perspective but can never serve as proof that we are correct. Just quoting scripture doesn't make it so to one outside that belief. Let us talk again sometime.

Shalom 

Larry
Larry's picture
Offline
Joined: 06/14/2011
Hat Tips: 7685
Posts: 1041
Common misconceptions

Or purposeful misdirection? I've just sat here and banged out a free flowing, several part comment and a brief overview of what I have come to understand about God, Jesus and many of the traditional myths, misconceptions and half-truths I've discovered in my research and study. I hope those that take the time to read it will do so with an open mind and a loving heart, and take the time to meditate on it if you are inclined. If my beliefs are not yours, I won't be surprised. They were not my understanding of the truth in the scriptures less a year ago. As always, I would truly love to hear your thoughts on any or all of it.

First - Stephanie, I considered putting this on your thread but decided it probably belongs here where it originated. I'm glad Chin pasted a clip of your earlier comment. I meant to respond soon after I read it. Maybe that was in one of my comments that I deleted accidentally. Whatever. In your comment you stated, “When it comes to Jesus, I don't necessarily believe he was "God" in the flesh. After some consideration I've decided I can believe that he was sent by God for certain. But as for the specifics of the story - I'm not sure."

You are absolutely correct in this. Here’s what I know, after careful study, to be the truth: Jesus Christ is not God. He is the son of Jehovah, the One True God. Jesus was the first and favorite creation of God. Jesus and God's angels in heaven helped God to create the earth and everything in it. Jesus is the most beloved creation of all. Jesus rules heaven as King, under His Father, Jehovah God. Jesus and His angels battled Satan the ‘opposer’ and his dark angels for control of heaven.

Satan was cast out of heaven by Jesus, but satan’s evil spirit and the spirits of his wicked angels were given free reign over the earth to rule until the last days when Jesus Christ will return to vanquish him. Jesus was a spirit being before God lovingly sent Him to earth, to be born of Virgin Mary and become a ransom sacrifice for mankind. God did this because He loves us. Jesus is now at His right hand, living in heaven as a powerful spirit and King.

Here I could list many bible chapters and verses to support these (and I'm happy to if someone asks). For now I'll just appeal to the common sense, logic and spirit of anyone that has any doubt about Jesus being one and the same as God, or more commonly referred to as the "Trinity" and I’ll ask: If Jesus were God, then why would He repeatedly pray to God, His most high creator and Father in heaven? Would God pray to Himself? I think not. If Jesus were one and the same as God, would He be seated at the right hand of... Himself? Again, no.

Then why do most churches preach this? After Jesus' death and resurrection, particularly in the reign of powerful and ambitious kings and the creation of certain sects, Christianity has been "tinkered with".

Most importantly, God sent His beloved son as a ransom sacrifice for all descendants of Adam. Without this sacrifice, we would be born into sin, die in sin and return to the earth as dust... forever. Because Christ gave His earthly body, after great persecution, torture and crucifixion, His loving sacrifice allowed us to be forgiven for sin through repentance. and allowed us a chance at everlasting life in paradise. 

kenklave
kenklave's picture
Offline
Joined: 06/14/2011
Hat Tips: 574
Posts: 82
Perhaps churches preach this

Perhaps churches preach this because it is true. The trinity is a mystery, but no more so than any other workings of god. Jesus stated, "I and the father are one" John 10:30. I do not see how it be any clearer than that. Moreover, I do not see how your view comports with monotheism, and if it does not how then does it square with " you shall have no other gods before me"? I would like to know when you think this so called tinkering began and what was tinkered with. Do you also believe then that god allowed his word to be perverted on a mass level? I find that rather hard to accept.

Anyway, I did not mean to alter the nature of this thread to a theological discussion. I think you all were doing just fine without this and it may not be the proper venue.

Bay
Bay's picture
Offline
Joined: 06/14/2011
Hat Tips: 1760
Posts: 89
Saw it Coming

Larry ... I am not surprised by your statements for I saw it coming. All through most of your posts you would consistently  say “Jehovah God and His Son Jesus”.

That was a flag to me. Those of the Jehovah Witness persuasion speak like that but maybe you are of a spin off . I wouldn't really know. Only you can tell us.

This morning in post #119 I noticed you going closer to the edge for you said …

Surely our Creator Jehovah is the grandest designer and from my understanding, His first most glorious creation, His beloved Son, our Christ in heaven helped to create, build and organize everything in the heavens and on earth. God's angels all helped in this.

I know you are well aware Jesus is my Lord and that I believe he is God. You probably already know you are unable to change that or at least you should. So go ahead and make your point.

Bay
Bay's picture
Offline
Joined: 06/14/2011
Hat Tips: 1760
Posts: 89
You're Fine

kenklave,

you altered nothing ... this is going to happen from time to time and we work through it. You spoke well.

Larry
Larry's picture
Offline
Joined: 06/14/2011
Hat Tips: 7685
Posts: 1041
Further, Part 2

We’re all aware of what is happening in our world today, in terms of the anti-God campaigns everywhere we look. God and prayers cannot be in our schools, courtrooms or public places. We’re seeing prayer to God become a controversial subject even at sporting events. Why?

The answer is the same as the reason God’s name has all but disappeared from most bibles, most churches and most preacher’s lips. Jehovah (God’s name) has been slowly but surely removed, with increasingly earnest speed and determination for centuries, particularly over the last 100 years. Just as we become aware of this (most aren’t and were not around when this ‘erasing’ began), we all see Jehovah’s title (God) being removed from everywhere in our nation and throughout the world. Will we one day pick up a newly published copy to only find God replaced with another title, Lord? Will we begin to see the name of Jesus disappear from the bible as well and replaced by ‘Him’ or ‘Lord’? Will ‘Christ’ and ‘Savior’ (most righteous titles) be one day removed as well?

Not many Christians know this and fewer question this, just as not many citizens question the ‘authority’ or “conventional wisdom” when it comes to anything dealing with any heavenly or earthly entity of power. Not many Christians or non-Christians know that the Federal Reserve is PRIVATE - FOR PROFT organization. Not only do the masses not know this, they have NO idea that the Fed and Central Banks are nothing more than a legal, sanctioned, criminal Cartel. How many know that the biggest banks in the world are in cahoots with the criminals that manipulate the currencies (and everything else) in the world? Why are so many blind?

See the connection I’m trying to make? In that worldly, current context, I’m comparing the manipulation and misinformation and half-truths of biblical publishing throughout history with the dubious Cartels and revisionist history of Marxists and Fascist politicos. In that same vein, I can also compare those people today that are asleep to the truth, just as those in the days of the Crusades. Human nature has been the same since Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden.

If we simply see how man has sinned since the beginning, and we see what wickedness the rulers have wrought, we begin to see how we as individuals and a full society might be fooled over time. We might be living in a fog, only knowing what we’ve been preached and taught for all of our lives. We might miss the big truths in the bible that we have never even considered. Whay? Because most churches and most preachers are serving up watered down truth, with foundations based on manipulated accounts of the Holy Scriptures, from anemic sermons to clock watching congregations starving for food yet being fed lard by lazy, professional or misguided church leadership and preachers. Why?

Further down the road through the history of misinformation that has led to so much that is evil on earth. We see this getting played out, in increasing volume every day on the news. It’s always been this way.

Many falsehoods were conceived and adopted by those rulers that usurped the power and glory of the true Christ. Why? Many icons and idols were created for Christians. Why did this happen? Was the need for confusing Jesus with God to confuse people in order to usurp power by creating an unexplainable mystery around a “Trinity”? Would then only the religious leaders of the time and the politically powerful understand the “secrets”, thereby using that confusion to lord the “truth” over their subjects. Would they stoop to fear tactics such as, step out of line and risk death and damnation?

Was “hell” defined as a Dante’s Inferno to infinity for sin purposefully conceived and promoted to scare the living souls of God fearing people, to scare them into submission for a cause? Would these people innocently misinterpret the word “Hell”, which simply means grave, or pit, into something so frightening and eternal? Was that cause possibly to unite these same God fearing people into armies? If so, could the fear of retribution for non-compliance and desire to please God and their earthly masters actually incite them to fight a “Holy War” in the name of Christ?

Would these dubious rulers create a cross, or crucifix symbol and apply it to large banners necessary to act as ‘battlefield bravery billboards’ simply to fulfill imperialist rulers and conquering nations in their land grabs? Would those same rulers actually please satan by symbolizing (or mis-symbolizing) a torture stake that was used to murder our loving Christ Savior? Would we worship an electric chair, had that been used as the implement of death? Yet, we “worship” the death instrument. Oh, and we see three crosses on a hill. Maybe we call that, the “trinity!” Why? The word ‘Trinity’ is not found in the bible.

Did these dubious rulers use the righteousness of Christ and thereby falsify His sacrifice and usurp His blessing just to rationalize and condone their armies to murder, loot, starve, rape, torture, destroy and seize other nations peoples and their lands under an evil campaign of terror called The Crusades?

Larry
Larry's picture
Offline
Joined: 06/14/2011
Hat Tips: 7685
Posts: 1041
Finally, Part 3

There are so many answers to all of our questions, found throughout all of history and all of the future that can be found in one single book. Specifically, these truths can be found in the bible that I am studying. You’ll find “a superb, responsible translation from the Holy Scriptures from their original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek into modern speech” per their page one.

This bible is titled, “New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures”. Before you Google it to see where this comes from, I’ll tell you… it is the bible that Jehovah’s Witnesses use. About eight months ago my wife and I left our ‘brick & mortar’ Methodist church because we were not being ‘fed’ anything of spiritual substance. We searched many churches of many denominations (and non-denom… even attended Catholic for a few visits).

Our quest was becoming a frustrating journey. All churches are nice. All congregations are nice. All have preachers, all have collection plates, all have crosses, pews, choirs, communion, Sunday school and all have fried chicken, fried fish or smoked barbeque dinners. As much as were fed tasty southern meals, we were starving for spiritual “food”. Not one seemed to be reaching our hearts.

During that same time and all that searching, our answer was right in front of us. God was putting two of His ministers into our lives. They visited us one day when we least expected anything of the sort. There they were, once again, coming up our driveway. We’d met them a half dozen times on past visits but had only pleasant and quick chats and mutual blessings offered before we said, in whatever nice way we could at the time, “thank you but we have another church”.

But on this day, we put aside our contemporary prejudices and “conventional wisdom” and welcomed two wonderful Witness ladies come in and discuss their organization and the bible. We were astounded! We happily (yet hesitantly) agreed to begin a bible study with them as our teachers. I admitted to them that I was hesitant, due to the long-held image of people dressed up knocking on doors giving away brochures and such.

I also admitted that I had been one of those that heard the doorbell several times over the years but was either too busy or just not interested in seeing them or anyone else at the time. They understood and giggled about it. They get that a lot, as you might expect. I told them that their “rep” was, “the kooky but nice people handing out Watchtower magazines”. We all got a big chuckle out of that. They appreciated my candor.

After getting to know them and studying with them for six months, as well as attending “meetings” (open session bible study and talks by JW elders) bi-weekly, I am so thankful. I have never, EVER met a more righteous, loving and caring group of Christians in my life. And I’ve met many. They are the salt of the earth. They do not have a collection plate. There is a box in the Kingdom Hall. The kind of people that attend and join don’t have to be asked to help fund the cause.

These people have stripped away the icons, the idols, the collection plates, the pomp and the ceremony, the robes and the professional middle man preachers. They study the bible, some practice and learn to give preach to the congregation. Every baptized Jehovah’s Witness is a minister. And that’s what they do. They live to preach the bible scriptures. These people know the bible better than Baptists! These are very interesting talks given by the men of the congregation. Every man there (that wants to) can be the preacher during any given meeting. hey study and worship in groups in the same way that the early Christians did. No robes and funny hats, no chanting, no stuff. Just love of Jehovah God and love of our Christ and Savior, Jesus Christ. These people know the truth and, perhaps more compelling than anything else: they actively DO what other churches just pontificate about.

The Jehovah Witnesses have an incredible, worldwide organization. They are amazing biblical researchers, publishers and all Witnesses are ministers of the truth. That is all they care about and all they are the real deal. They are not the church for those searching for another church to attend on Sunday morning to listen passively to a preacher tickle your ears with stories about himself while mixing in a few verses to a themed sermon that inspires nothing. This organization welcomes any and everyone, but only those with the heart for passionately serving God, studying the bible together and witnessing to save all that will listen.

Do you believe, as I do, that the world is seeing more and more natural disasters, blatant crime at the highest levels, heightened disease, constant wars and threats of wars to come? Do you believe, as I do, that Revelation lays it all out for us? Do you believe that satan knows his gig is about up, so he grows more terrible and desperate?

If you believe these things are happening, and if you are a Christian, do you believe we have a calling to spread the word and minister to those that are asleep? Do you believe that Jehovah God would be pleased with us and so happy to have more people turn to Him and turn away from the one that taunts Him? Do you believe it is our responsibility as Christians to seek the truth and passionately spread the truth to save souls?

Certainly we cannot settle for the easy, traditional, comfortable, spoon fed religions, TV evangelists and false prophets that have been slowly but surely misdirecting, deceiving and putting us to sleep spiritually by “tickling our ears” with words that don’t ruffle our feathers or get us fired up with truth? Would most paid professional bible thumping middle-men in most churches of most religions tell us the simple and undeniable truths that would put them out of business?

Wouldn’t we, just as Christians before Christ’s time, cling to Jehovah God and preach His truth, even if it took some effort on our part beyond church service on Sunday mornings? If we are true, faithful Christians and our hearts are with God; would we stand with Him, live by His rules and not ours, and profess our faith even if we knew we would surely be persecuted?

Isn’t that what we Christians should be doing? 

Larry
Larry's picture
Offline
Joined: 06/14/2011
Hat Tips: 7685
Posts: 1041
Note...

During the paste and clip of the last parts I've noticed a few comments. Please know, as God is my witness, I am putting this in front of you good... wonderful... people. My fear is that, like many other Christians, you might take offense at some of the things I've said here. But since I have come to know a different truth about some of the most basic tenets of organized religion, than I have ever been taught in a church before. These things have gone straight to my heart, but it took quite a bit of research, lots of prayer and lots of meditation.

While I may be cast away from the only blog thread I've ever really taken to heart for speaking of these things and testifying to my beliefs, I'm fine with whatever may come. Knowing some of you as I do, I don't expect or require that you believe as I do. My hope and prayer is that you would have an open heart.

Some have resolved by the words here and there in the bible, particularly in the book of John, that Jesus Christ is one and the same as God. Frankly, I never really doubted and I think for the most part, just took the conventional opinion on it. But every time I asked a pastor to explain the trinity, he could not. At least, not to my satisfaction.

I can find many more scriptures to support that Jesus is not God, but the SON of God. I cannot find in any certain terms where Jesus or anyone else mentioned the word trinity.  To my thinking, the idea of Jesus/God/Holy Spirit has been surmised, for whatever good or bad reason, and based on words spoken, even by Jesus Himself. I've read all of the scriptures that folks make when they argue for Jesus as God. It's very easy to see how His words could be construed to mean that was His intention. I do not believe it was Jesus' intention. 

My goal is to continue to learn with new eyes and deeper understanding. By thinking that Jesus is the number two man, I am in no way loving Him less. My later posts (after the response I saw) explain that further so I won't rehash. 

Again, my heart is with God. Jesus is my Savior, my Christ and my King. My only salvation is through Jesus Christ and His ransom sacrifice.

In the meantime, I hope the good folks here find much food for thought in my comments. I don't expect everyone to run right over to a Kingdom Hall tomorrow... although it would be great to hear some of you did go, even if you attend as an experimental, exploratory mission to see what it is, what it looks like and such.

Whatever the case, I'll certainly hope not to be shown the door (I've never been asked to leave a Christian gathering - smile here). If I posted these beliefs on 99% of the blogs out there I would surely receive a welcome much like Jesus, the Stephen experienced with the Sanhedren. Yikes, gnashing of teeth... oh, the humanity! :)

Peace, love, charity, hope, truth, love, love and more love.

stephanie
stephanie's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/21/2011
Hat Tips: 9983
Posts: 967
@Larry

You are not being "kicked out" of the other thread. I am simply moving over controversial theology issues to this new thread so that the original thread can be kept for *support* and mutual group hugs and whatnot.

Please help me out here. There's a reason this theology thread was started. It was to keep potentially divisive topics out of the other topic and give a structured for place for theology discussions, for those who want to participate in them. If we can follow these simple guidelines (theology here, support there) it will be more pleasant for everyone in the long run. :-)

Thank you.

PS I'll comment on your comments in a bit. :-)

kenklave
kenklave's picture
Offline
Joined: 06/14/2011
Hat Tips: 574
Posts: 82
Larry, What you are

Larry,

What you are advocating is no less than Arianism (claiming Jesus is not God), one of the oldest heresies in the faith.  The matter was more or less settled with the adoption of the Nicene Creed in the 4th century.  I would assume you do not accept it.  I would suggest you pick up St. Augustine's Confessions and The City of God (written around 400-425) for a more historical and rigorous investigation.  By the way you didn't answer my questions.  :)    

I'd like to think we are on the same team here, but orthodoxy does have its place.  When Apollos began to preach about Jesus he spoke about what he knew, but was taken aside and explained the way of God more fully when encountered by disciples.  Acts ch. 18.

kenklave
kenklave's picture
Offline
Joined: 06/14/2011
Hat Tips: 574
Posts: 82
Stephanie, in response to

Stephanie, in response to your question:

The more important question is whether the Bible is true.  The word "literal" connotes an artificial distinction and may be problematic for some. Too often people are distracted by this so called "problem."  Many are turned off by the Genesis story, for instance.  They say, "how could the world be created in six days, that is nonsense.  All the scientific evidence points to the universe being billions of years old."  And they leave it at that, disregarding all Christianity because they cannot accept a “literal” interpretation.

God probably did not compel the authors to write every word, but that is insignificant.  It is the meaning the words convey that is important.  There is not even an exact correspondence among all English versions, so the "literal" question is not paramount.   Rather the Bible is divinely inspired; it is true.  Is says what God wants it to say.  Truth, then, is the essence of your inquiry.

“Is the Bible true?" is really the question that ought to be asked.  Truth is more nuanced than a "literal" interpretation.  Jesus himself spoke in parables.  These stories were not "literal" as in  stories about actual people.  The purpose was to convey the truth about God to the listeners.  In the same way “mythology” can be true without being literal.  The purpose, therefore, is not to relay a history, but to express a greater truth about life and God.  Parts of the Bible are certainly allegorical, and not to be taken literally, but that does not make it false.  If this is so, how are we to understand the Bible?

There is a principle in the law relating to statutory interpretation, called canons of construction.  Judges use these canons to interpret what the legislature meant to do in passing a law.  The very first rule is to use the plain meaning of the law.  In the same way, we should accept the Bible at face value unless there is reason to think.  Using the Genesis example, the Bible states that the world was created in a matter of days.  Using the plain meaning, I would tend to think that is what it means.  But it says elsewhere that one day is as one thousand years to God and one thousand years as one day.  This implies that time has no meaning to God.  So maybe the universe is billions of years old.

This may seem like a contradiction, but in truth it just means that I do not know.  In all honesty, it does not make any difference if the Genesis story is “literal” or “myth”.  People want to use this to confirm their disbelief.  They look for things such as this and say, “if I cannot trust one thing, I must doubt everything.”  If the story is true, there is no distinction to be made. 

As to your second question, no, God has not spoken in other scriptures.  God is the author of all truth and therefore any truth is of God.  All have access to God.  Knowledge of God is written in the hearts of each of us.  There is wisdom and goodness in many things that do not overtly acknowledge God as such.  It is the product of human nature, that we are neither angels, nor demons.  I myself have found some wisdom in Buddhist teachings, zen and the like.  But all others fall short.  There is no redemption in any of these.  Jesus when he said, “I am the way, the truth, and the light.  No one comes to the Father, but through me.”   This I believe.

Let us not squabble any longer there are but two questions that you should pursue:

  1. Why are you  here?
  2. Where will you go when you die?

There is only one place I have found a satisfactory answer.

stephanie
stephanie's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/21/2011
Hat Tips: 9983
Posts: 967
Acknowledgments

Thank you to both Larry and kenklave for sharing. I enjoy reading different perspectives.

Larry, I'll confess I have had a stereotypical view of Jehovah's Witnesses without knowing much about them at all. I appreciate your sharing your experiences with them. I really didn't know all that and found it fascinating reading. I'm sure you realize that it will be controversial for some! In regards to the Trinity, I may be wrong, but I believe that piece of theology comes through the Catholic Church, and it isn't explained directly in the Bible. 

kenklave, I appreciated your distinction between what is "true" and what is "literal." That's a very interesting idea and I will certainly sit with it! 

Larry
Larry's picture
Offline
Joined: 06/14/2011
Hat Tips: 7685
Posts: 1041
Just dropped in

...to see what condition my condition was in.

(for you young ones, that is just a play on the title of an old, dusty rock song) :)

Kenklave, please hold that thought, and I will too until I have time to answer questions and respond appropriately to your comments. Thank you and all those that contribute to these important things we discuss. I know we all take them seriously as all Christians do.

Blessings

Prize Fighter
Prize Fighter's picture
Offline
Joined: 06/14/2011
Hat Tips: 3349
Posts: 615
I see a correlation between

I see a correlation between the bible and fiat.  It's not the details of the actual paper which give it worth but rather the faith backing it which does. 

Anchoring one's faith to paper, which has passed thru many fallible human hands, is not the path to freedom.  It is merely another dogmatic paradigm of someone's belief of what you should believe.  Gold is money, love is God and life is lived between.

Rear Flank Downdraft
Rear Flank Downdraft's picture
Offline
Joined: 06/14/2011
Hat Tips: 1239
Posts: 123
Our Task In Approaching the Biblical Material

*(EDIT: I worked on this post for a day, starting yesterday...writing...stepping away....coming back....leaving this window open....then posting today and reading through what had been posted over that time.  Looks like kenklave and I were on a harmonic wavelength upon further review wink)

I suppose what undergirds Stephanie's original question  posed to the thread- (or any quest for knowledge.....and thank you Stephanie for starting this thread)- is that we have to understand what we mean when we use words like "believe" or "God" or "literal" or "word"......or any word, for that matter.  Any theological discussion must work toward an agreement on how these terms and concepts are defined (or at least what we mean by them) or we run the risk of misunderstanding our claims.  Once we can be sure what we mean by certain words, we can begin to reasonably arrive at a more objective truth.

This is because each of us already have some sort of tacit or silent "commitment" to viewing/interpreting the Bible.  We are intellectually/emotionally predisposed to a certain way of seeing the material, often applying these subconscious rigors to the narratives without being aware we are doing so.  The fact that the Bible is written in some forms of literature that are quite foreign to us compounds the problem.  The conveyance of truth in these forms of literature don't often require our modern application of the word "literal" as a litmus test to the veracity of the Bible.  On the other hand, the words written down, even if they were copied later from oral traditions, meant something.  In that sense, they are to be taken literally.

To be sure, the deconstructionist approach to interpretation that scientific mindset affords us today surely wasn't the mode or intention of the original writers.  That way of thinking and interpreting the meta-narratives just wasn't available to the cultures comprising the original recipients of the material (but would come later and cause quite a hissy fit in the Church).  It's not to say you cannot submit the Scriptures to any scientific scrutiny, we just have to fairly recognize the limitations when applying it. 

Conversely, and for instance, to say that the creation narratives in Genesis are scientific expositions leading to an understanding of quantum sub-atomic behavior is beyond the intention of the original writer.  I figure proponents of both worldviews have to recognize these limitations in meaning and appreciate the realms in which they are rightly authoritative so we can extrapolate the truths they posit.  THEN we could begin to ameliorate the discrepancies.

We have to acknowledge just how tied we can tend to be emotionally with these core constructs too.  After all, we're talking about truly intimate matters: God, salvation, good, evil, eternity....and our place in the middle of it all, with so many competing alternatives.  We all have our historical exposure to it as well......some good, some bad, some well-reasoned and in-depth and some ridiculously misinterpreted with disastrous consequences.  History is replete with "junk" encounters with so-called representatives (individual and corporate) of God/Jesus and the Church that are based on heinous and self-serving interpretations.

We also ought to recognize the contribution of our culture (and any preceding culture) has in interpretation.  That's just an inescapable thing we perhaps should seek not to demonize (or deify), but, rather, recognize.  Culture, arguably, is just the way that a given generation of people in a certain location/time express themselves.  That might be a stepping stone to reading things with a greater objectivity, while being cognizant of not unfairly imposing a way of interpreting before we let the biblical material speak to us from its own context first......to be able to read it with a kind of  re-gained naïveté.

So, that being said, I feel I can assert an historical and reasonable  foundation for why I believe the message contained in the Bible is God's word and that Christ is the "self-revelation" of God (John 1 and following verses) and that the "Word" then isn't just an abstraction of conceptual mental images/expressions, but an actual Person to be known, as John would expound upon further on in his gospel.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Topic locked
Syndicate contentComments for "Expanded Theological Discussion for Spiritual Seekers, Believers, and Everyone Else"