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Author Topic:   A Working Definition of God
Dan Carroll 
Suspended Member (Idle past 2039 days)
Posts: 2904
From: Chicago, IL, USA
Joined: 04-04-2003


Message 256 of 332 (201527)
04-23-2005 4:48 PM
Reply to: Message 223 by Percy
04-22-2005 9:08 PM


It's Dan's thread - if he thinks this aspect is off-topic that's okay with me.

No, fine by me. The definitions of God seem to have generally settled into, "God is a subjective experience, not an objective reality."

My phrasing it that way will probably re-spark commentary on the subject, but in the meantime, your guys' conversation is interesting. Run with it!


This message is a reply to:
 Message 223 by Percy, posted 04-22-2005 9:08 PM Percy has not yet responded

  
Faith
Member
Posts: 25606
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.0


Message 257 of 332 (201546)
04-23-2005 6:52 PM
Reply to: Message 255 by mark24
04-23-2005 4:11 PM


Real physical events may not leave physical evidence
Not exactly. You said Message 220 that without physical evidence it REMAINS a myth.

quote:
Yes, it does. A myth in the broadest sense is a traditional story pertaining to a peoples history, the parting of the Red Sea meets that criteria, it is a myth by definition. What I meant when I said, "remains a myth", was that it wasn't being elevated to a fact, or anything resembling one.

You are trying to pull a definitional fast one here. "Myth" means "made-up story," meaning the term itself defines it as untrue, therefore it begs the question of (argues in a circle) whether it is true or not. That is, it states up front definitively that it is not true, and defines its evidentiary value away. I was understating things to say it is a much stronger statement than "there's no way to know." It's a perfect case of circular reasoning that proves the conclusion in the very premise.

If you want to suggest that the Red Sea business is indicative of reality, then you need independent corobborating evidence supporting the notion. Invoking the myth as evidence supporting the veracity of the myth is circular argumentation & logically invalid.

The independent corroborating evidence is the witness reports of the Old Testament. That IS corroborating evidence, but you simply define it away by pre-judging it to be a myth. It is written as an account of actual events, it has been taken as an account of actual events for some 3500 years by rational people. Again, by trying to define away the question it is you who are arguing in a circle and begging the question. Call it a myth and you DEFINE it as untrue. You needn't bother then with considering it the evidence it most certainly is.

Witness evidence requires a different thought process than physical evidence to determine its validity, but it is just as much evidence as physical evidence is.

quote:
Not scientifically, it isn't. Science requires reproducibility, & eyewitness evidence is entirely unrepeatable.

That is true, and irrelevant. If something happens and you know it happened but it left NO physical evidence, it nevertheless happened, yet all you have to show for it is TESTIMONY. And that is valid evidence whether you call it scientific or not. It is utterly irrelevant if it's "scientific" -- that's just another definitional ploy.

The point is that eyewitness accounts are often the only evidence available for something that REALLY DID HAPPEN, and I said to you earlier that you yourself experience this every day. Give physical evidence for what you had for breakfast on Wednesday. Give physical evidence that it rained on Tuesday. Give physical evidence that you had the flu a month ago but recovered. Give physical evidence that you saw a collision between a truck and a car a year ago. By the way, a written account of the accident and your role would be WITNESS evidence.

In ordinary everyday life we experience events all the time that leave no physical evidence. We depend on eyewitness evidence for our knowledge of all kinds of things. There is no logical difference between these ordinary daily experiences and the grand-scale miracles of the Bible. Since they ARE extraordinary, however, God provided millions of witnesses and had the witness reports written down and obsessionally carefully copied to preserve accuracy over 3500 years.

It is a great folly to call a person deluded or a liar for something he tells you he witnessed for the one and only reason that you find it hard to believe, but you are saying that about millions of people.

I find it unlikely that no-one has pointed this out to you. In the case of the bible you have no way of knowing if it is a story rooted in truth or completely made up. Given the fantastic nature of the alleged phenomenon, we can reasonably expect fantastic evidence?

I don't know what you can "reasonably" expect but the fact is we have many many ways of knowing. We have the eyewitness testimony of the writers and the people they quote, preserved carefully over the centuries and always available for your study. And we have the testimony of the millions who have believed it true and not a myth over the centuries since the writing, which amounts to a TON of "character witness" evidence.

If you demand physical evidence for events that by their nature leave no physical evidence, you are doing the epistemological equivalent of putting your eyes out.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 255 by mark24, posted 04-23-2005 4:11 PM mark24 has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 259 by sidelined, posted 04-23-2005 7:58 PM Faith has responded
 Message 261 by mark24, posted 04-23-2005 8:24 PM Faith has responded

  
Mr. Ex Nihilo
Member (Idle past 4021 days)
Posts: 708
Joined: 04-12-2005


Message 258 of 332 (201560)
04-23-2005 7:42 PM
Reply to: Message 247 by Percy
04-23-2005 12:38 PM


Re: NO physical evidence for the miracles
Percy writes:

Uh, no. Sorry if you don't like the examples, but they were chosen because they were the ones that came to mind when I was trying to think of well known insular religous communities with weird ideas. I would have used less well known religious communities with weird ideas that didn't have disasterous outcomes except that I couldn't think of any since, having not come to disaster, they didn't make the front pages and hence I never heard of them. Though I guess if you go back a century or so the Shakers and the Oneida colony qualify.

The point is by no means that Faith's religious ideas are leading her toward disaster. The point is that insular religious communities have a tendency to take on weird ideas that make sense within the community but to few outside it. After dealing repeatedly with Faith's contradictions that she flatly states aren't contradictions I am in essence asking her to freshly examine her views. Again, I'm truly sorry if the examples seemed poorly chosen, but I try to find new explanations rather than repeating old ones under the assumption that if it wasn't understood the first time, saying it again won't be helpful. But after explaining something a number of times one runs out of novel ways to explain it.

I just seemed as if you were leaning well into personal attack territory with some of your statements and examples. If Faith expresses a belief that it is only through Christ that people are saved, this shouldn't be assumed to be a personal attack -- it is simply Faith expessing a denomination's theology.

However, if one turns around and starts accusing Faith (the person) about how closed-minded they are for holding this view, then it is becoming a personal attack.

I'm sure Faith appreciates your support. Could you express this a bit differently, though? I'm having trouble figuring out how you're not actually saying that Faith's religious beliefs are fine and mine are crap.

I think I agree more with your theology than Faith's in regards to Christ's saving nature for "all people". However, I do not agree with insulting Faith (the person) by accusing the poster of being shallow minded or even suggesting ignornace for holding to a particular doctrine.

One could express confusion. One could express concern. One could reasonably divide thier theology into distinct components where a contridictory nature might be apparent. I think all religions, including my own, have inherited at least some degree of cognitive dissonance.

However, when one attacks the person instead of the idea -- then I feel they are flinging crap at another person and ruining the impact of their own message (no matter how well expresed their thoughts might be).

Percy writes:

Actually, I don't recall Faith saying that there aren't many paths to Christ, but maybe she did.

She didn't. I did.

But she definitely echos your sentiments that the only path to God is through Christ.

With a clear distinction being made though.

I'm not sure if Faith makes an appeal to Natural Law or not -- but some Christian denominations do. The basic idea is that people cannot be held accountable for things that they are simply not aware of.

In my own view, Christ, on a spiritual level, is certainly the "door" to heaven -- and that there is no other way to the Father...period.

However, I wouldn't interpret this to the point that I suspect that only those who proclaim with their mouth, "Jesus is Lord!" are the only ones who are being "saved".

I cannot speak for Faith, but Faith and I probably disagree on this matter.

Percy writes:

I find much in this to recommend it. But the question I've been asking Faith is the same one I would still ask you: do you deny salvation to those who don't accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?

It's not my place to deny salvation -- so this point is not sustainable.

However, if you are asking, "Can someone who doesn't believe in Christ go to heaven?" I would answer with certainty, "Of course they can."

Or, if you are asking, "Can someone who rejects belief in Jesus Christ go to heaven?" then I would be less certain of making any definitive statements according to what my Catholic faith teaches.

Instead of bashing non-Christians over the head with the Scriptures while utilizing a McDonald's salvation mentality of "Over 1 Billion Saved," I would rather look toward those things which Christians and other faiths share in common and focusses on those positive things in order to lead them to Christ.

The Book of James states plainly:

When tempted, no one should not say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

James 1:13-18 (NIV)

Clearly, if one is doing "good" in the sight of God, it is because their conscience is not closed to God's "still small voice" and God has moved them by the Holy Spirit do so. Taking the example of the Good Samaritan to heart, this is found to be true regardless of whether the person doing good is Christian or not.

Does this "goodness" constitute salvation?

I honestly do not have a clear answer for this and therefore will leave that for theologians to debate (although I have many thoughts onthe matter). When in doubt, one should always consult their own pastor, priest or elder in order to clarify a Scriptural position from their own denominational view-point.

I will, however, note one thing and comment on this appropriately:

Actions speak louder than words.

Compassion, when aligned by the Holy Spirit, it the compass of our soul. A person can claim to be Christian and still not have salvation. In fact, their actions often render the words spoken by them nearly void and leaves the name of God blasphemed amongst the non-believers.

In short, if God is not exalted, it is usually (but not always) because we have personally failed to witness God's love in a kind manner prompted by the Holy Spirit -- not because the listener was unwillinng to listen.

Paradoxically, those who are closest to God often possess the greatest potential to inflict evil onto the world. This seems to especially happen whenever those whom should know better either don't or simply refuse to.

Examples come to mind, such as Judas Iscariot, whom personally walked with and was instructed by the Lord for at least three years, or the adversary himself, whom was once the most beautiful of all angels within God's Celestial hierarchy. Both fell from Grace at exceptionally high points in their walk with the Lord and both "falls" had exceptionally high repercussions due to their close proximity to God.

Coming toward the concept of heaven and us entrering it through Christ, it seems as though at the end of time God will weigh each person's life in the balance of their own conscience in relation to Christ.

This is to say, I believe each person will be called upon to give an account of how Christ has "manifested" in their lives, whether by thought, word or deed -- with each person being held accountable in proportion to what has been revealed to them.

I believe that those who have willingly rejected his revelation from those who "lovingly" displayed his truth will have much to answer for. In addition to this, it also seems to me that those who have led others astray will retroactively pay for the sins of those who who they have led astray.

The difference in this retroactive payback is determined by Christ's sacrifice on the cross.

And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

The Book of the Apocalypse 20:10 (NIV)

All sin eventually points to the adversary. In the end, it seems to me that Christ will remove the sin from those who are saved and place it squarely back onto the adversary.

The adversary desired to be God in his own right, and in the end when God separates all things clean and unclean (leaving the adversary totally separated from God), he will allow the adversary to have exactly want he wants.

However, since the adversary is not God, he will lack the power to sustain the unsaved who are clinging to him, his children that have looked to him for "salvation." He will also lack the power to sustain his portion of the Cosmos left void of God's presence.

In the end, without God's sustaining grace, evil will implode and annihilate itself. Paradoxically, since the soul exists forever, this annihilation will likewise last forever.

This, to me, is what I picture hell to be like. And I believe this will be done through the blood of the Resurrected Christ which was shed on the cross and given literally to us for the remission of our sins.

Indeed, it is already finished. We just haven't seen it come to its fullness yet -- in my faith anyway, this will come on the Last Day at the "end of time itself".


This message is a reply to:
 Message 247 by Percy, posted 04-23-2005 12:38 PM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 276 by Faith, posted 04-24-2005 2:33 AM Mr. Ex Nihilo has not yet responded
 Message 325 by Percy, posted 04-24-2005 5:00 PM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded

  
sidelined 
Inactive Suspended Member


Message 259 of 332 (201564)
04-23-2005 7:58 PM
Reply to: Message 257 by Faith
04-23-2005 6:52 PM


Re: Real physical events may not leave physical evidence
Faith

The independent corroborating evidence is the witness reports of the Old Testament

Really?Which report is correct?

Gen.4:12 "A fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth."

Gen.4:17
"And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived, ... and he builded a city."

Oh, no! Seven days before the flood.

Gen.7:7-10
And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him, into the ark.... And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth

The same day as the flood! Which report is correct? Come to think of it who would have been left to record except for Noah and family?{Wouldn't you think that they would get it right?}

Gen.7:11-13
In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights. In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah's wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark.

Is incest forbidden?

Lev.18:12 "Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's sister."

Or shall you?

Ex.6:20
"And Amram took him Jochebed his father's sister to wife; and she bare him Aaron and Moses."

Who proofreads this stuff?WITHIN THE SAME BOOK.

Ex.20:13,
"Thou shalt not kill."

Ex.32:27
"Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side ... and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor."

You must have a different definition of corroborating than me.


And since you know you cannot see yourself,
so well as by reflection, I, your glass,
will modestly discover to yourself,
that of yourself which you yet know not of
This message is a reply to:
 Message 257 by Faith, posted 04-23-2005 6:52 PM Faith has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 277 by Faith, posted 04-24-2005 2:40 AM sidelined has responded

nator
Member (Idle past 2115 days)
Posts: 12961
Joined: 12-09-2001


Message 260 of 332 (201571)
04-23-2005 8:13 PM
Reply to: Message 239 by Mr. Ex Nihilo
04-23-2005 10:02 AM


Re: NO physical evidence for the miracles
quote:
Contrary to this 'evolutionary' position, the lifetime work of Wilhelm Schmidt (published in his Origin and Growth of Religion: English Ed. 1931) found that, thoughout the world, primitive cultures have a notion of a supreme god. This god has the following characteristics - remarkably uniformly across the world:

Wow, this list is completely wrong in so many aspects.

I'll go through it now...

quote:
He lives in, or above, the sky -- anthropologists refer to him as the "Sky-God", although the name the peoples have for him is more commonly one meaning "Father" or "Creator".

Except for the Goddess religions, or that polytheism is much more common across cultures than monotheism.

Also, there are cultures in which their gods live in everything, including rocks, trees, animals, rain, the ocean, etc.

Let's not forget the buddhists, who do not believe in a God at all.

quote:
He is like a man, or a father.

...or an elephant, a woman, or a jackal, or dozens of other exaples.

quote:
However his form cannot be physically represented, and so there are almost never idols of him.

This is just laughable.

Have you been to a museum lately? They are chock full of many, many ancient representations of all sorts of gods.

quote:
He is the creator of everything.

Polytheistic cultures usually have many separate creators.

Some religions say that both the universe and god/s have always existed.

quote:
He is eternal (i.e. He existed before anything else, and He will never cease to be).

The ancient Greeks and Romans belived that gods could cease to be.

quote:
He is all-knowing.

Again, even the monotheistic Hebrew God of the OT isn't all-knowing.

He's surprised all the time.

quote:
All that is good ultimately comes from him.

Some cultures, including the early Jews, treated God as an entity that need to be appeased and not angered so that the crops would grow, etc., instead of an entity that was responsible for the success of the crops.

quote:
He is the giver of moral law.

Clearly, the Greek and Roman pantheon displayed a wide spectrum of moralities.

Buddhists do not believe in a God, so they believe morality comes from people.

quote:
He is good, and abhors all evil.

The early Jews really stressed the "power" thing in their depictions of God much more than the "good" thing, as the OT readily shows.

quote:
He is all-powerful.

Again, clearly the God of the bible is not all-powerful, and neither is the Greek Pantheon of gods, and neither are the Hindu pantheon, nor the animist "gods", and of course buddhists do not believe in a god.

quote:
He judges people after their death.

Many religions believe in reincarnation.

quote:
People are alienated from him due to some misdemeanor in the past.

This one is peculiar only to the Judeo/Christian faith, for the most part, AFAIK.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 239 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 04-23-2005 10:02 AM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 263 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 04-23-2005 8:59 PM nator has responded

  
mark24
Member (Idle past 2667 days)
Posts: 3857
From: UK
Joined: 12-01-2001


Message 261 of 332 (201573)
04-23-2005 8:24 PM
Reply to: Message 257 by Faith
04-23-2005 6:52 PM


Re: Real physical events may not leave physical evidence
Faith,

You are trying to pull a definitional fast one here. "Myth" means "made-up story," meaning the term itself defines it as untrue,

No, I paraphrased one of the definitions of myth from my Oxford English, & it is not implicit that myth = false. It can mean that, but I'll be the judge of the context in my own writing, OK?

If you want to suggest that the Red Sea business is indicative of reality, then you need independent corobborating evidence supporting the notion. Invoking the myth as evidence supporting the veracity of the myth is circular argumentation & logically invalid.

Faith writes:

The independent corroborating evidence is the witness reports of the Old Testament. That IS corroborating evidence, but you simply define it away by pre-judging it to be a myth. It is written as an account of actual events, it has been taken as an account of actual events for some 3500 years by rational people.

The assertions of the bible are what are in question, the writings of the OT cannot therefore be considered "independent" corroborating evidence of the bible when they are actually in the bible! Good grief, Charlie Brown.

That is true, and irrelevant. If something happens and you know it happened but it left NO physical evidence, it nevertheless happened, yet all you have to show for it is TESTIMONY. And that is valid evidence whether you call it scientific or not. It is utterly irrelevant if it's "scientific" -- that's just another definitional ploy.

If I know something happened & there is no evidence, then there is no reason that anyone need accept my words as fact.

The point is that eyewitness accounts are often the only evidence available for something that REALLY DID HAPPEN

And quite often it is a lie.

and I said to you earlier that you yourself experience this every day. Give physical evidence for what you had for breakfast on Wednesday.

I had aliens for breakfast. Martians. Delicious. Great with waffles. You have a reason not to accept my eyewitness evidence? You accept I eat Martians?

Or could it be that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence?

The bible is a religious book. The people who wrote it are dead. They cannot be cross-examined, or placed at the scene in any way whatsoever. In nearly all cases there is no independent evidence that they even existed as anything other than fictitious characters. Characters we cannot show to have existed by independent verification cannot be considered eyewitnesses. Documents that we cannot actually link to those characters cannot be considered eyewitness testimony (your honour, heres a bit of paper signed with an X that says the butler did it).

Given this is the case I am under no compulsion to accept anything in the bible as evidence of anything except the existence of a religious document. Even if we could get good evidence that, say, Moses existed, it's still a case of extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, just like my Martian breakfast scenario (which, I promise you faithfully actually happened). Why is this? Because anyone can make something up.

That said, you may still assert that the bibles account is true, & I am open to persuasion. But you cant persuade me because you have no evidence, & a book full of easily digested moral platitudes played out by as good as fictional characters doesnt qualify.

If you demand physical evidence for events that by their nature leave no physical evidence, you are doing the epistemological equivalent of putting your eyes out.

In the Mahabharata text, the sage Markandeya spoke to Vishnu, thats eyewitness evidence that the bible is fundamentally false because Yahweh isn't the one true god, right?

Mark


There are 10 kinds of people in this world; those that understand binary, & those that don't
This message is a reply to:
 Message 257 by Faith, posted 04-23-2005 6:52 PM Faith has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 264 by Faith, posted 04-23-2005 9:16 PM mark24 has responded

  
Faith
Member
Posts: 25606
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.0


Message 262 of 332 (201575)
04-23-2005 8:38 PM
Reply to: Message 239 by Mr. Ex Nihilo
04-23-2005 10:02 AM


Catholic doctrine of quasi-universalism?
Percy...chill...out...please...

You're basically insinuating that Faith needs to study doomsday cults which have lead to terrible attrocities in order to understand her own position in regards to the Scriptures -- which is seriously in error on your part.

...I for one am getting very tired of the crap which you keep slinging in Faith's direction.

Thank you.

I also would like to comment on the main gist of your post to Percy in which you show basic Catholic agreement with at least the universalist aspect of his Unitarianism:

"... Noting that 'Vatican II declares the Church ... as necessary for salvation,' the former bishop of Onitsha, Nigeria, added that people who do not know Christ are nevertheless included in God's plan of salvation."

Seems to me that this is a bald-faced contradiction, but in any case the Catholic Church has utterly left the arena of Christianity with such statements. Many from all over the world may yet come to know Christ, and uncountable missionaries and mission supporters are working to that end, but that's the ONLY way they are included in God's plan of salvation. Those who NEVER come to know Him are NOT included, and the Catholic Church used to hold to this belief. How can this be true in one century but not another?

Also, the claim that followers of other religions have the Holy Spirit has no foundation. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to His followers, not to anyone else -- He was promised to everyone who believes and He testifies of Jesus -- ONLY of Jesus. That being the case, anyone who does not follow the testimony of Jesus does not have the Holy Spirit. Scripture is clear that many who think they are Christians nevertheless are not and do not possess the Holy Spirit, so how much less those who do not call on the Name of Christ?

Other religions certainly have many truths and much wisdom and their followers have a God-given conscience and the imprint of the image of God in them, but to attribute qualities to them that are given ONLY by Jesus Christ is to oppose Christian teaching.

For example, theologians have noted similarities in primitive beliefs in an All-Powerful God. On the subject of human religion, some scholars have claimed that human history exhibits an evolution in religion -- from tribal gods to monotheism. These results, however, have been largely turned on their head.

This I agree with. Humanity started out knowing the one true and living God and there are still remnants of this belief in some cultures and religions, usually distorted, but overall we have degenerated into inability to detect His presence as a result of the Fall.

In tracing human history, it is generally believed that the primal knowledge of the Lord was often supplanted in religions by concepts of gods which are "more accessible." In doing such, the gradual monotheistic knowledge of a monotheistic God seems to deteriorate into a pantheon of divinities whose attirbutes seems to be defined more by nature and/or human characteristics.

Does the Catholic Church reject what seems to me to be the clear Biblical teaching that the "pantheon of divinities" are the servants of Satan? Isn't it the Biblically derived view that Satan and his demons earned permission to deceive humanity upon Satan's successful deception of Eve into disobeying God, and have taken human worship to themselves by the invention of multiple deities? Satan became the Prince of this world (Jhn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11;Eph 2:2) and as his aim is to put himself in the place of God (Isaiah 14:13-14; Ezekiel 28: 2,6,9) he and his servants have styled themselves gods and goddesses all over planet earth for the purpose of continuing the deception of humanity begun in Eden.

When applicable, the Catholic Church tends to view these similarities in the sense of a kind of dialectic process leading to the re-emergeance of a faith that once existed in its fullness in the beginning but was lost to our first two parents long ago.

Hard to see how, after so many thousands of years of deterioration since the Fall, whatever distorted remainders of belief in the true God continue to exist could lead BACK to the original knowledge.

In fact this is why Jesus came. No way does humanity without God's special provision of sacrifice have any hope of getting back to God after the Fall.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 239 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 04-23-2005 10:02 AM Mr. Ex Nihilo has not yet responded

  
Mr. Ex Nihilo
Member (Idle past 4021 days)
Posts: 708
Joined: 04-12-2005


Message 263 of 332 (201580)
04-23-2005 8:59 PM
Reply to: Message 260 by nator
04-23-2005 8:13 PM


Re: NO physical evidence for the miracles
schrafinator writes:

Wow, this list is completely wrong in so many aspects.

Because you're looking at "all gods". I specifically said primitive sky gods.

repeat: primitive...sky...gods...

Wilhelm Schmidt, a Jesuit professor at the University of Vienna, spent over 40 years (1912-1955) documenting and compiling evidence for what he called "primitive monotheism." In 1931 he published his findings as The Origin and Growth of Religion. It was a book that revolutionized the study of religious anthropology.

Schmidt thought that such beliefs were the residue of a "primal revelation" of God to man. He felt that they were surviving forms of a once common knowledge of the one God (which through human fallenness and error has been overlaid by magic, animism, ancestor worship, spiritism, polytheism, and other forms of spiritual subjectivism). Schmidt continued to validate his thesis with continual research over the years. By 1955 he had published over 4000 pages of evidence in 12 large volumes.

G. K. Chesterton summed up the import of Schmidt's ground-breaking studies:

There is very good ground for guessing that religion did not originally come from some detail that was forgotten because it was too small to be traced. Much more probably it was an idea that was abandoned because it was too large to be managed. There is very good reason to suppose that many people did begin with the simple but overwhelming idea of one God who governs all; and afterwards fell away into such things as demon-worship almost as a sort of secret dissipations.

Primitive theologies of the one God always seemed to include some explanation of why He is no longer present. His departure is routinely regarded as a cosmic disastrous rupture in the natural fabric of things brought on by some fault or failure on the part of human beings. In some myths, the fault seems almost trivial, involving a technical error in the performance of some (now) obscure ritual, thus causing the universe to unravel and leave man spiritually marooned. In other forms of primitive monotheism, the failure is more morally serious, involving man's betrayal of his duty to his creator, thus causing God to depart in sorrow and judgment.

The details differ, but all the myths tell a common story, and the story seems to be clearly a part of our common heritage. Ironically, the evidence of anthropology indicates that ancient man was more in agreement concerning the nature of our spiritual problem than we have agreed about anything since that time. The reason is seems (to me) doubtless that their consensus was one of memory and not of opinion.

Schmidt's work actually uncovered one momentous fact for all to see -- namely, that humanity's most ancient and universal assessment of its own condition is simply this: "God is not with us." For whatever reason, God's personal presence has been withdrawn from us. God's absence is our problem.

Bascially what I see is a diaspora of some original form of primitive monotheism. The reason why I say this is because massive evidence has been collected among many peoples since the discovery in the 19th century of an unsuspected belief in "one supreme being, All-Father".

As just one example, consider the Kurnai in Australia. These kinds of discoveries, among many, revolutionized modern scholarly understanding of primitive religion in two ways:

First, many of the peoples which had been thought to have no concept of religion at all were discovered instead to embrace belief in a single, all powerful deity. In fact, such peoples actually had a sophisticated religion, but it simply lacked public rituals. The theology in such cases was esoteric and in general it was something that was not to be spoken of to outsiders. Many reports, therefore, of primitive religions, had been limited to the observation of the external details of cult practice, but the existence of the High God challenged the adequacy of such reports and suggested that, in many cases, if the observer himself had not been "initiated" his report was not to be trusted.

Secondly, and of even greater significance, the discovery of the High God concept among primitive peoples challenged the popular 19th century theory of the evolution of religion from animism (belief in souls in humans and other aspects of nature) to polytheism to monotheism. Instead, a devolutionary approach seemed to be the more reasonable.

To clarify what I am trying to convey, consider the following:


Africa
The Akan, Ashanti, Ga, Fante, and related people of Ghana and the Ivory Coast believe the universe was created by a supreme deity variously known as Oboadee (Creator), Nyame (God), or Ananse Kokuroko (The Great Spider). Nyambe, in particular, was considered the supreme being and creator god. Wide-spread over Western Equatorial Africa, his variant names included: Nzambi, Ndyambi, Dzambu, Tsambi, Yame, Sami, Zam, Monzam, Onayame. Also known as Nyambi, he was considered the creator of all things whose wife was Nailele. They lived on earth for a time but left to avoid the evil actions of Kamunu.
_________

Australia
The Australian mystery-rites reveal a moral creative being whose home is in or above the heavens, and his name is Maker (Baiame), Master (Biamban) and Father (Papang). The Benedictine monks of Australia say that the natives believe in an omnipotent Being, the creator of heaven and earth, whom they call Motogon. The Australian will say, "No, not seen him [i.e. Baiame], but I have felt him".
_________

China
Long ago before the introduction of Buddhism from India and the advent of Taoism, the Chinese believed in Shang Ti, a God so great that no images were to be made to represent it and the one true God who made the heavens, the earth, and all that is in both. This supreme god ruled over lesser gods of the sun, the moon, the wind, the rain, and other natural forces and places. Shang-Ti also regulated human affairs as well as ruling over the material universe.
_________

Egypt
In the most ancient monuments of Egypt the simplest and most precise conception of one God is expressed. For example, the Egyptian Book of the Dead demonstrates that the Egyptian people originally believed in one great God and not many. He is one and alone; no other beings are with Him; He is the only being living in truth; He is the self-existing one who made all things, and He alone has not been made.
_________

India
In the Rig-Veda, the most ancient of the Hindu sacred books, traces of a primitive monotheism are clearly shown. The Deity is called "the only existing being" who breathed, calmly self-contained, in the beginning before there was sky or atmosphere day or night, light or darkness. This being is not the barren philosophical entity found in the later Upanishads, for he is called "our Father", "our Creator", omniscient, who listens to prayers.
_________

Iranian
The Gathas, the most ancient hymns of the Avesta, form the kernel about which the sacred literature of the Iranians clustered in an aftergrowth. They inculcate belief in Ahura Mazda, the self-existent omnipotent being. He is the all-powerful Lord who made heaven and earth, and all that is therein, and who governs everything with wisdom.
_________

American
The Algonquin Indians of North America believe in Kitcki Manitou - The Great Spirit, the Supreme Being. He is known as The Uncreated, the Father of Life, God of the Winds. The Great Spirit is present in some way in nearly every North American Indian mythology.
_________

Consequently, there are actually at least two books within the Scriptures which seem to indicate the Hebrews encounters with the "primitive sky god".

For example:

The Book of Job
Job may be pre-Mosaic in origin, even possibly Arabic in authorship, dating from the second Millennium BC. Although certainly God-breathed, Job seems to reflect a non-Hebraic cultural background. However, his advanced age coupled with a patriarchal family-clan organization suggests the time of Abraham rather than after the Exodus. The name of Job has been dated as far back as c. 2000 BC. due to its record within the the Egyptian Execration texts. It is clear that Job attests to the awesome sovereignty of God and concludes that he is worthy of love apart from the blessings he provides.

Also, within the definitive Hebrew Scriptures we see a "pagan" worshipping the Most High God?

Then Melchizedek king of Salem [Jerusalem] brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying,

"Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.
And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand."

Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

Genesis 14: 18-20 (NIV)

Dr. Wilhelm Schmidt actually set out in the 1920's to compile every "alias of the Almighty" discovered by explorers around the world. A minimum of a thousand more examples have come to light since then.

In short, an approximate 90 percent or more of the folk religions on this planet contain clear acknowledgment of the existence of one Supreme God.

Schmidt's classic "Der Ursprung der Gottesidee" (The Origin of the Concept of God) was actually published back in 1934.

I would advise you to check it out sometime when you have a chance.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 260 by nator, posted 04-23-2005 8:13 PM nator has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 279 by nator, posted 04-24-2005 7:47 AM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded

  
Faith
Member
Posts: 25606
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.0


Message 264 of 332 (201588)
04-23-2005 9:16 PM
Reply to: Message 261 by mark24
04-23-2005 8:24 PM


Judging witness reports / a puzzle

You are trying to pull a definitional fast one here. "Myth" means "made-up story," meaning the term itself defines it as untrue,
===
No, I paraphrased one of the definitions of myth from my Oxford English, & it is not implicit that myth = false. It can mean that, but I'll be the judge of the context in my own writing, OK?

YOu give no evidence here that it ever means anything but false or not based on reality, you simply assert it.

quote:
If you want to suggest that the Red Sea business is indicative of reality, then you need independent corobborating evidence supporting the notion. Invoking the myth as evidence supporting the veracity of the myth is circular argumentation & logically invalid.

Faith writes:


The independent corroborating evidence is the witness reports of the Old Testament. That IS corroborating evidence, but you simply define it away by pre-judging it to be a myth. It is written as an account of actual events, it has been taken as an account of actual events for some 3500 years by rational people.

quote:
The assertions of the bible are what are in question, the writings of the OT cannot therefore be considered "independent" corroborating evidence of the bible when they are actually in the bible! Good grief, Charlie Brown.

No, it was the event of the Red Sea parting that was in question, and the written testimony to it is witness evidence of it. You are right I should not have used the term "corroborating" however, as the ONLY evidence is witness evidence.

quote:
That is true, and irrelevant. If something happens and you know it happened but it left NO physical evidence, it nevertheless happened, yet all you have to show for it is TESTIMONY. And that is valid evidence whether you call it scientific or not. It is utterly irrelevant if it's "scientific" -- that's just another definitional ploy.

If I know something happened & there is no evidence, then there is no reason that anyone need accept my words as fact.

Of course not, though normally you will be taken at your word on minor points of information unless you've proved yourself to be untrustworthy, and if it's very important information you are giving someone, they are going to have to figure out just how trustworthy you are and if others find you trustworthy and all that. That's how we judge witness evidence.

The point is that eyewitness accounts are often the only evidence available for something that REALLY DID HAPPEN

And quite often it is a lie.

Not that often, though we may certainly make allowances for a human tendency to embellish. But that is why the Bible is hedged about with so many extra securities, so MANY witnesses, so many witnesses TO the witnesses, so many ways to compare the testimonies, so many checks on accurate transmission and translation over the centuries, contrary to ignorant suppositions.

and I said to you earlier that you yourself experience this every day. Give physical evidence for what you had for breakfast on Wednesday.
I had aliens for breakfast. Martians. Delicious. Great with waffles. You have a reason not to accept my eyewitness evidence? You accept I eat Martians?

You offer none of the securities that your word is true in this case that the Bible offers, the securities that even normally attend everyday information. You are simply making a stupid mockery of the idea and refusing to think.

Or could it be that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence?

Millions of witnesses is extraordinary evidence, and the internal consistency of the reports is extraordinary evidence, and the reverence which is character witness at the very least is extraordianry evidence, and the results of the teachings of Christ in extraordinary benefits to the world is extraordinary evidence. If you have no ability to judge such things you are up a creek.

Given this is the case I am under no compulsion to accept anything in the bible as evidence of anything except the existence of a religious document. Even if we could get good evidence that, say, Moses existed, it's still a case of extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, just like my Martian breakfast scenario (which, I promise you faithfully actually happened). Why is this? Because anyone can make something up.

Can, but some of us have the sense to tell the difference.

In the Mahabharata text, the sage Markandeya spoke to Vishnu, thats eyewitness evidence that the bible is fundamentally false because Yahweh isn't the one true god, right?

And this is PRESENTED as fact? Or as instructive story? And these characters are placed in a historical context or just in the city of the imagination? Do you ask such questions? Apparently not. You jump to the silliest superficial comparisons and call it proof.

Are you familiar with the liar-truthteller puzzle? The solution to it requires very careful thinking, and should get something across about the thinking required in establishing the validity of witness testimony as evidence. It takes intelligence and careful thought, not snap judgments and silly sloppy thinking such as you are offering.

If you don't know it, be honest and don't look it up, and try to solve it yourself:

You are being held captive in a small room which has two doors. You are free to leave through either one of the doors upon asking a question and getting an answer. However, you have been informed that one of the doors leads to instant death by one means or another (lions' den, gas chamber, whatever) and the other will take you to freedom, and of course you are not told which is which and there are no physical clues to make use of. Each door is flanked by a guard, one of whom always lies, the other of whom always tells the truth, but you do not know which is which. You are allowed to ask one question and only one question of only one of the guards. What question do you ask?

{edited to insert important part of puzzle}

This message has been edited by Faith, 04-23-2005 08:24 PM

This message has been edited by Faith, 04-23-2005 08:29 PM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 261 by mark24, posted 04-23-2005 8:24 PM mark24 has responded

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 Message 278 by mark24, posted 04-24-2005 6:03 AM Faith has responded

  
Mr. Ex Nihilo
Member (Idle past 4021 days)
Posts: 708
Joined: 04-12-2005


Message 265 of 332 (201589)
04-23-2005 9:20 PM


To Dan and Mammuthus:

I guess in appealing to some outside source for designing Creation, I'd have to provide at least some examples of an outside force interacting with it -- or a raw basic force in itself.

At the most basic level, I look at magnetism. This is a raw force. Although it is not sentient, it is capable of some amazing things. We can potentially see and/or feel its effects everywhere. We can even produce it on demand. Although electrical forces seem to be involved in magnetism's manifestation, we technically don't know what magnetism is. It is something which has "no substance" but routinely affects our lives on a daily basis.

When I read about the various Big Bang and Quantum theories, I periodically come across the concept that time and space has more dimensions that we can perceive. Some suggest the Big Bang resulted from an influx of energy from a higher dimension. Some suggest that at the heart of Quantum mechanics lies the basis of String Theory -- which suggests both an influx and outflux of energy into higher dimensions.

It's interesting to note that an electron (or other particle) can disappear in one location and simultaneously reappear at another location if the wave associated with the particle extends to the other location. This property of nature is so pervasive that even in totally empty space, particles pop in and out of existence. This is known as the vacuum polarization, apparently because they appear as equal and opposite charges, a dipole.

http://instruct.tri-c.edu/fgram/web/quantum.htm

Bearing these things in mind, it seems highly likely that there are some dimensions that extend beyond what we can currently measure. Also, bearing the recent knowledge of the particles being observed waving "in and out" of existence, I would even postulate that this is a good indication that this universe was either a) formed out of, or b) is currently merged with something higher. Since, in theory, the higher seems to predate the lower, I would postulate that that the lesser came from the greater.

I can't prove this. But the reason why I suspect that this "outside agent" is highly involved with the creation of our universe is due to the observation that what seems to be coming and going from a higher dimension resembles the basic building blocks of our universe.

The subatomic particles that make up each atom and each element are colorless, tasteless, orderless and without texture. They are not hard, soft, dull, or shiny -- even though the naturally known occuring elements make up everything that exists on Earth (including us). The "firmness" and other characteristics of this "stuff" seems to result from the interelationship of electrical forces of (and between) these very same subatomic particles -- similar to particles which have been observed popping in and out of existence.

What I'm getting at is that matter in its most fundamental form consists solely of these electrical charges. As a matter of opinion, this substance from "nothing" that results when electrical charges combine to from atoms (and when atoms combine to form elements and molecules), would probably qualify as the greatest illusion there is -- except it is reality. Technically speaking, everything is made ex nihilo (and it seems to be linked to outside forces).

Coming back to the possibillity of higher dimensions, if this is so, then what's up there? Personally, I don't know the answer to this. But coming back to the creator needing a creator, etc., I guess I look at it this way:

If all things indeed were created from an outside force, then what are the characteristics of the outside force? If that force has been around forever, then the things that were created by it would most likely share that same characteristics. However, since the created thing now resides in a lower state of being (or dimension), the created thing lacks the stability of its creator. If something goes wrong within the created thing -- its "eternal connection" becomes removed somehow -- it seems to me that the created thing would tend to break down and either a) return to its source, or b) degrade into its environment to the point that its "created form" becomes void.

This message has been edited by Magisterium Devolver, 04-23-2005 09:30 PM


  
Mr. Ex Nihilo
Member (Idle past 4021 days)
Posts: 708
Joined: 04-12-2005


Message 266 of 332 (201592)
04-23-2005 9:26 PM


No Faith, and this is where I sharply disagree with many of my Christian brothers. I strongly believe that the Lord judges in proportion to what has been revealed to the individual. The more He reveals to the individual, the more is expected of them.

I have a couple of Baptist friends who have explained to me at length about the concept of an "age of accountability". It basically implies that those who are too young to understand will simply not be judged. Although there are some differences regarding the adminsitration of the sacrament of Baptism, personally, I agree with them to a great extent regarding the age of accountability concept. As a matter of fact, I'd extend this definition to include those who simply don't know -- an "awareness of accountability".

I don't think this is blasphemous.

For example:

Peter asked, "Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?"

The Lord answered, "Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose the servant says to himself, 'My master is taking a long time in coming,' and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.

"That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Let me put it another way. Many Christians are now trying to say that many paths lead to God. I would tend to disagree. I'd say many paths lead to Jesus, who I believe is true God and true man.

Getting to the point, I do suspect that "some" Christians are probably not going to heaven. I also suspect that "more" non-Christians probably will go to heaven than many Christians are willing to admit.

I guess I see it as James says,

"Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly."

Peter gives a strong warning to Christians here (it is actually directed to unbeleivers too indirectly),

"If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit," and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud."

As far as unbelief goes, Paul, who personally saw to the murder of many Christians, says,

"Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief."

He also sums it up this way,

"All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares."

Look, if athiests get married, I believe their marriage is a manifestation of Christ in their lives regardless of whether they acknowledge him or not.

Why?

Because it's God will that people get married.

If an athiest gives birth to child, I believe that child is a manifestation of Christ in her life regardless of whether she acknowledges him or not.

Why?

Because, regardless of what she beleives, children are a gift from God.

Taking this one step further, I believe this is also true regardless of whether she is married or not.

Why?

Because, regardless of what some ultra-conservitive Bible-Thumper thinks, children are a gift from God -- single mother or not (which is totally irrelevant as far as the love for her child is concerned).

(I have more thoughts on this, but I'll hold it back for now)

This is not to say that these people can earn their way into heaven via "good works". I'm stessing my belief that every good and perfect gift comes from God above (who doesn't change like shifting shadows). Doing God's will, even if you don't believe in him, is still a manifestation of His grace nonetheless.

Some people take the Scriptures so literally and say that you have to confess Christ with your lips -- and that's it. Yet Jesus himself said,

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'"

In short, I think that many people confess Christ by their thoughts, words and deeds, even the ones who don't know him. And I'm basing this on the Scriptures and Church tradition.

For me, knowing that Christ is Lord is not the same thing as saying that only people who believe in Christ are going to heaven. Or, put in another way, believing that Christ is true God and true Man is not the same as saying that one's faith is a sure ticket out of hell. I don't usually bring up the subject of hell (and yes, I do believe in hell), but since people seem to be implying that this is being dangled over the head of non-believers, I thought I'd add my two cents worth. For the most part, at least when hell is mentioned, I think the non-believers are correct.

The concept behind the Christian faith as I understand it is that of a revelation from God. Most people don't think of it in that way, and this is fine. I'm not trying to change anyone's mind or convert anyone. However, in thinking about the meaning of a revelation, I've personally come to the conclusion that many people do not know what they are talking about concerning Christ's love. I think that many people who do not ackowledge Christ in word nonetheless believe in him by their actions. There's been many times where I've noticed a "non-believer" shows more compassion than the "believers" -- which is very disturbing to me.

One quote that really expresses this for me is perhaps that of Ghandi:

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.

-- Mahatma Gandhi

In trying to express this clearly, I will say the following from the context of my own Judeo-Christian faith.

As far as I can determine, the very Early Church was not so much concerned with informing people that they were going to hell if they didn't believe in Christ. They were more concerned with the "revelation" that Christ was hidden within the Judaic Scriptures all along. This was the excitement that captured the central focus of the very Early Church.

Likewise, whereas they acknowledged that Christ was indeed the only savior by which one could enter heaven, they did not (as far as I can determine) deny that Christ would save someone who didn't know him personally. The joy that they had was one of finally knowing "who done it" all this time and announcing this boldly to anyone willing to listen, not one of some esoteric secret society that carefully guarded it's "revelation" and revealed it only to those "who are worthy".

Admittedly, persecution of the Early Church via many Roman Emporers probably hardened the hearts of many early believers. I'm also sure that some had a death-wish well before they became Christians -- and saw the persecution of the Church as a quick way out of their living hell of a life on earth. But, for the most part, if any secrecy or covert action was was engaged, it was because there were really people out their trying to kill them.

I know that this is a touchy subject, so I'm going to explain this as carefully as I can.

It just seems to me that a certain very smug sense of self-righteousness has crept into the Church over the last 2000 years. In fact, personally, I have no doubts at all about this. As a Catholic, I also believe that we are just as responsible for this self-righteousness as any other denomination (so I'm not trying to pick on any particular faith here).

Very often I've noticed that some Christians use the concept of hell as a lure to catch unbelievers into believing in Christ. I think, personally, that this is akin to a spiritual form of terrorism: either believe in Jesus or go to hell -- it's your choce (which really isn't any choice at all). When people do this, I'm personally offended because it seems to me that it's like shoving a shot gun down someone's throat until their gag-reflex kicks in. Under this kind of "conversion", it leads to the newly converted vomiting their faith onto other non-believers -- their witness toward Christ's love is more like bile that has been trembled upward out of fear and loathing (in my honest opinion).

This make me very sad.

Even when the concept of prayer comes up, I'm sometimes left confused. People seem to think that prayer is about changing God's mind. While I've no doubt that God has changed his mind (at least, as far as I'm able to determine from the Scriptures), I don't think that we should be so smug as to think that we are changing it through prayer.

I think of prayer as a silent and safe form of prophesying. I know people will snicker when hearing this word "prophesying", but I feel that I need to mention it. Within the Judaic Scriptures it seemed as though there were many guidelines made available to the Hebrews to determine when somone was a false-prophet of not. Prophesying is not the act of changing God's will. It is the experience of a direct connection with God's will whereby the person talking to God receives a revelation of what God's will is. I think the same thing holds true with prayer -- except, you won't be stoned to death if your prayers are not answered.

For example, there's a passage in the Book of James which says the following:

The Prayer of Faith

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

Many people (including Christians) that I speak with take this to mean that if you pray really, really, really, really hard -- then your prayers will come true. But I don't think this is what it's saying at all. As far as I'm able to determine, God was going to do or allow all these things anyway (regardless of the prayers involved) -- especially in the case of Elijah.

The comfort from prayer, at least as far as my own experience is concerned, is not one of knowing that I've changed God's mind. It is more one of comfort that God is listenting and is interested in what I have to say -- which is pretty cool considering, y'know, he's Almighty God. It's also a comfort when one prays and notes that the prayer actually happened -- because one then knows that they were in tune with God's will (as far as I'm concerned). It's about love and forgiveness.

The mentality of the message given by the person who witnesses their faith can directly impact how the receiver receives the Gospel message. If the message is broadcast with hatred, then the receivers will most likely reject it.

In short, if we force our faith onto others harshly, and they reject it, the Lord's name is then blasphemed because of our actions -- not theirs. In these instances, I wouldn't hold accountable someone who rejected the Christian faith. I'd be more interested in what the "witness" did to the unbeliever to push them away from Christ.

Unfortuantely, although I fully agree that the Church has a God-given mandate to forgive others and teach forgiveness, it does not have an immunity to error in their actions. Even though I fully agree that Catholocism has the best doctrine in regards to Christ, I don't think this makes us immune to human failure (except in the special case of infallibility and indefectibility).

Too often I've noticed that the ability to forgive others means being without sin. I agree with this to the extent that if we fogive, then a multitude of sins are covered. But if this is pushed in the direction that being able to forgive sins make one immune to the ability to sin in the first place, then I'm not going with it.

Christians are human too. If we push people away from Christ, then Christ will hold us accountable for their actions. Similarly, In his famous parable of the last judgment in Mathew 25, Christ clealy states that what do or fail to do to the poor and the sick, and more generally to those in need, we do or fail to do to him.

This, in my veiw, is very similar to how Christ took on our sins -- albeit pefectly and without sin. He took accountability for our actions out of love. But, since he is true God and true man, his sinless, immortal, and divine soul utterly oblitterated any sin that held humanity away from God. I suppose one could say that he stretched out his arms on the cross -- with one arm pointing all the way towards humankind's past, and one arm pointing all the way to humankind's future.

This here quotation from the book Distinctly Catholic (which was considered required reading for a Catholic course that I voluntarilly took part in at our church) fairly well sums up my thoughts on the matter:


The formal endorsement by Vatican II of the endorsement of the sacramental nature of the Catholic Church has presented an opportunity for both a broadening and deepening of the Catholic's appreciation of Catholicism as a sacramental religion.

One area in which this has been done in the post-conciliary period has been in regard to the relation of the Church to the vast non-Christian world that surrounds it. Vatican two reflect what might be called an optimism of grace. It affirms that in spite of sin God never has abaondonned humanity -- but has stayed close to it and in various ways offered people the possibility of salvation.

With the coming of Christ, God's saving activity is focuessed in a particular way on the Church, but it is by no means restricted to it. God wills the salvation of all and, in ways unknown to us, remains present to people everywhere. Karl Rahmer spoke of God;s universal offer of salvation. For him, every human life is lived outin relationship to the God of grace, even though because of their religious and cultural backgrounds, many are unable to recognize that this is the deepest meaning of their experience.

To speak of the Church as a sacrament in this context is to point to its role within a world where grace, at least as offer, is universal. In the midst of that world, the Church proclaims and celebrates in explicit language what in a more hidden way God does through out the length and breadth of human history.

If the Church itself, in dependence on Christ as the primordial sacrament, is the fundamental sacrament, then this suggests a new way of thinking about the seven sacraments...

I've never said. "It doesn't matter if you're a good person, you'll go to Hell if you don't follow my religion." I've been saying the opposite of this as far as I can tell and this opinion, as I've expressed plainly within this thread, frankly disgusts me. In some ways, I've found people who hold this mentality are not much different from vaccuum cleaner salesmen or ambulance chasers. They try their hardest to get their foot in the door to prove to you that you need this -- or they cruise the streets on the look out for an accident so that they cash in on someone's misfortune.

I also have defintely not said, "You'll only be a good person if you follow my religion." Again, this comes back to the above statements. I feel that this self-righteous mentality has deeply divided the Church on many levels. I'd tather look at the universal agreement of the various religions of the world which in one way of another seems to stress mankind's duty to their neighbor, brother, SO, etc. I suppose I'm looking more towards a natural theology or an invocation of natural Law when I express this opinion.

You are coming closer to my personal view when you say, "It doesn't matter if you follow my religion, the important thing is to be a good person." My own convictions regarding this are simple: If someone is doing good in God's eyes, it's because they're being moved by the Holy Spirit to do so. I'd also go one step further and say that is almost irrelvant whether someone is aware of Christ's love in their life or not.

If a Buddhist saves the life of a child, and this hasn't been done for selfish reasons, then it's an action of the Holy Spirit in their lives. If an atheist gives birth to a child, that child is still a gift from God.

Not acknowledging Christ in their lives in no way changes the fact that their child is a gift from God either. If one sees a child starving and hungry, and they feed that child without any selfish motivations behind their actions, then God is at work in them.

However, if one rejects what Christ has called one to do by the Holy Spirit, then I'd say there could be some trouble brewing.

It's as simple as that as far as I'm concerned.

At least, from my own Judeo-Christian view, Christ is fully aware of who is doing his will and who is not. Paying lip service to him and condeming others for not believing in him seems to be far removed from what his central message actually consisted of. And it is the "self-righteous, condemning" mentality within the Church (a mentality that I'd suggest is virtually anti-Christian) that I'm trying to express my frustration with.

One can certainly give praise to Christ as Lord and Savior (and witness their faith to others) without condeming those who don't believe in him in the process.

That's my thoughts on it anyway. :)

This message has been edited by Magisterium Devolver, 04-23-2005 09:12 PM


Replies to this message:
 Message 267 by Faith, posted 04-23-2005 9:34 PM Mr. Ex Nihilo has not yet responded
 Message 268 by Faith, posted 04-23-2005 9:39 PM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded

  
Faith
Member
Posts: 25606
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.0


Message 267 of 332 (201593)
04-23-2005 9:34 PM
Reply to: Message 266 by Mr. Ex Nihilo
04-23-2005 9:26 PM


Whose post are you answering?
You've apparently hit the "general reply" button for these last two, instead of the button for replying to the post.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 266 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 04-23-2005 9:26 PM Mr. Ex Nihilo has not yet responded

  
Faith
Member
Posts: 25606
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.0


Message 268 of 332 (201594)
04-23-2005 9:39 PM
Reply to: Message 266 by Mr. Ex Nihilo
04-23-2005 9:26 PM


quote:
Some people take the Scriptures so literally and say that you have to confess Christ with your lips -- and that's it. Yet Jesus himself said, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'"

In short, I think that many people confess Christ by their thoughts, words and deeds, even the ones who don't know him. And I'm basing this on the Scriptures and Church tradition.


Certainly there are many of the lip-service "Lord-Lord" Christians who are not Christians, but on the other hand there's no way to "confess Christ" without confessing His death in our place, that we belong to Him because He bought us at a price. No amount of the most excellent and even Christ-like thoughts, words and deeds will suffice in place of that.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 266 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 04-23-2005 9:26 PM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 269 by jar, posted 04-23-2005 9:53 PM Faith has responded
 Message 270 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 04-23-2005 10:36 PM Faith has responded

  
jar
Member
Posts: 29143
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 269 of 332 (201599)
04-23-2005 9:53 PM
Reply to: Message 268 by Faith
04-23-2005 9:39 PM


'Course that's not what Jesus said. LOL

But that's for another thread.


Aslan is not a Tame Lion
This message is a reply to:
 Message 268 by Faith, posted 04-23-2005 9:39 PM Faith has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 272 by Faith, posted 04-23-2005 11:08 PM jar has responded

Mr. Ex Nihilo
Member (Idle past 4021 days)
Posts: 708
Joined: 04-12-2005


Message 270 of 332 (201614)
04-23-2005 10:36 PM
Reply to: Message 268 by Faith
04-23-2005 9:39 PM


Certainly there are many of the lip-service "Lord-Lord" Christians who are not Christians, but on the other hand there's no way to "confess Christ" without confessing His death in our place, that we belong to Him because He bought us at a price. No amount of the most excellent and even Christ-like thoughts, words and deeds will suffice in place of that.

Faith, my point is that I believe that Christ put them there in the first place. The general belief is that the Christian has the advantage over others in knowing who their savior really is -- they don't have to grope around in the dark trying to find out where their salvation is coming from anymore.

This is why, in my opinion, the Scriptures come down harshly on those who should know better -- such as teachers within the Church itself. In other words, there's never been a time when Christ wasn't actively saving people.

The difference between "us" and "them" is not that they're sinners and we're not. We know full well that we are sinners -- just like the rest of the world. The real difference, as far as I can tell, is that we know our redemeemer -- and we know our redeemer lives.

This is what we need to share with others. We need to proclaim Christ as Lord.

This message has been edited by Magisterium Devolver, 04-23-2005 09:41 PM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 268 by Faith, posted 04-23-2005 9:39 PM Faith has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 271 by Faith, posted 04-23-2005 11:03 PM Mr. Ex Nihilo has not yet responded

  
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