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Author Topic:   The Tension of Faith
Faith
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Posts: 26789
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.1


Message 1 of 1365 (820315)
09-19-2017 3:16 AM


I was intrigued by this article that a friend sent me:

The Tension of Faith: Why I Appreciate Christians Who Believe I’m Going to Hell

My friend has found it offensive that Christians believe people of other beliefs are going to Hell, but this article gave her a more understanding take on it. Here's how it starts out:

He didn’t want this conversation, and he hadn’t started it.

Neil and I had been friends and college classmates for about a year. He was a religious Christian, and I a secular Jew, but he never preached to me. Out of nowhere, I asked him whether he thought I was going to hell, and he demurred, saying it wasn’t up to him. But I couldn’t accept that dodge. I pressed and prodded until he had to admit that, yes, if his theology was correct, and I didn’t believe in Jesus, and maintained that non-belief until death, then I was, tragically, hell-bound.

Since then, I’d been grilling him for hours, even more doggedly than before. Surely he would see how cruel his belief was. Surely he’d never stopped to think about his good friend burning in eternal fire, and if he only would consider that, surely he’d stop believing something so monstrous.

He told me, “If I get to heaven, and find out I’m wrong, and see all my Jewish and atheist friends there… I will cry tears of joy. I will shout, ‘Thank you God!’ I will be… so happy.”

Then, he paused:

“What I believe isn’t the same as what I want.”

I didn’t know what to say. Neil’s sympathy — his genuine love — didn’t fit into the only story I knew how to tell about people who believed in hell: that they were judgmental and hateful. It had never occurred to me that someone could believe something other than what he wanted.

The article made things somewhat easier between me and my friend, since in these cases I usually have to avoid saying much about my beliefs, so it was a big relief to have a less conflictful frame of reference. It's SO true, I don't WANT anybody to go to Hell, but if I believe God has decreed it I can't argue with God, and all I can do is pray that God will save those I care about.

Later the writer of the article becomes a practicing orthodox Jew who encounters some things in his religion he has trouble accepting (much the same things GDR for instance has trouble accepting in the Old Testament), and he remembers Neil's statement in his new context.

An example: every man, woman and child of the nation of Amalek had to be killed — even the infants. To be clear, this commandment applied only in antiquity, and never applies today, but even in distant history, a commandment of genocide is appalling.

Another: children born of incest or adultery, who have done nothing wrong themselves, are classified as mamzerim forever, forbidden to marry anyone except other mamzerim.

The article is then about how one comes to accept things that bother us about our religion if we are going to be true to the revelation and not impose our own feelings on it (which is what liberal believers do).

Religion’s finest moments in history have starred zealots who refused to bow to common sense — whether the common sense of Seleucid imperialism, or the common sense of American slavery. Religion must be uncomfortable and unusual, or it will be tautological. It must be authoritative and binding, or it will be a sham.

To put it another way: if I can decide to change the law of the mamzer because I don’t like it, how shall I answer my fellow Jew who decides to change the laws of giving charity? Beautifully demanding laws they are, but utterly useless if any Jew can suddenly change them because he’s just read Ayn Rand and decided hand-outs are immoral. No. Cries Deuteronomy 15:11:
“You shall open your hand to your brother, to your poor, and to your needy in your land.”

Yes, I could change the system. I could join one of the liberal denominations that have conveniently done away with the law of the mamzer, but only if I’m willing to let Deuteronomy 15:11, and every other sacred commandment, be similarly defanged.

He goes on to discuss the Biblical story of Abraham's being called by God to sacrifice his son Isaac, in one of the loveliest presentations of that event I've ever read. It's one of the severest examples of the conflict God puts us all through in various forms, between what we want and what He wants, to test our faith and mortify our self-will, and this is even emblematic of the conflict we are all put into in giving the gospel to people who reject it.

I found a lot of depth in this essay and many angles that could be discussed.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.


Replies to this message:
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Message 2 of 1365 (820317)
09-19-2017 8:02 AM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the The Tension of Faith thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.
    
PaulK
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Joined: 01-10-2003
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(1)
Message 3 of 1365 (820320)
09-19-2017 8:20 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Faith
09-19-2017 3:16 AM


So presumably you should be equally glad when Islamists follow their religion - as you understand it - and persecute and kill non-Muslims ?

I find that the essay seems to be an example of intellectual dissonance, a rationalisation of the moral flaws of religion. Evil is seen as a necessary part, and submission to that evil a worthy sacrifice. An idea I find quite chilling.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Faith, posted 09-19-2017 3:16 AM Faith has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by RAZD, posted 09-19-2017 9:21 AM PaulK has not yet responded
 Message 11 by Faith, posted 09-19-2017 9:56 AM PaulK has responded

    
Phat
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Posts: 10253
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 4 of 1365 (820324)
09-19-2017 8:47 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Faith
09-19-2017 3:16 AM


Faith In What?
Great topic, Faith. When I first saw the title, I assumed the tension that would be discussed would be you--Faith the person rather than Faith: The Concept.

You are a fascinating study. I perused posts that you started as far back as 2006, namely
How the geo strata are identified as time periods (Note the polite exchange between Percy,jar, and Faith then)and found the exchange between you and Percy to be similar to how it is now, except that Percy has by and large accepted you as EvCs lone and unique creationist foil provided he gets to challenge your claims and force you to either discuss science on traditional science terminology with evidence or throw a tantrum and leave....and you often do both.

Let's get honest. You have admitted to me now that you are likely a presuppositionalist and that your worldview seeks evidence for your foregone conclusions (Not a Belief, But A Reality) but I am curious whether or not you think that I, and perhaps GDR could end up in hell for not being as accepting of the Bible as a literal word for word truth?

Not meaning to throw your thread off topic--I know you say the topic is more about Belief than about Yourself in general, but try and answer me if you will, just so I know where you stand in regards to your topic.

For the record, I believe that you are a bit extreme in your theology, but as long as you are honest with yourself and others and pray (as we all should) for God to make you less hateful and judgemental apart from how He Himself would be, you too will not end up in Hell.


Chance as a real force is a myth. It has no basis in reality and no place in scientific inquiry. For science and philosophy to continue to advance in knowledge, chance must be demythologized once and for all. –RC Sproul
"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." –Mark Twain "
~"If that's not sufficient for you go soak your head."~Faith
"as long as chance rules, God is an anachronism."~Arthur Koestler

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Faith, posted 09-19-2017 3:16 AM Faith has not yet responded

  
Phat
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Posts: 10253
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 5 of 1365 (820326)
09-19-2017 9:10 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Faith
09-19-2017 3:16 AM


One More Thing For The Record
Before you scold me for misinterpreting your topic, I will remind you that you said:
quote:
I found a lot of depth in this essay and many angles that could be discussed.

So as long as we are discussing the concept of faith and belief, allow me to share what I believe about your relationship with God as well as the non believers here at EvC with that other view of Geology involving what you call their interpretation of evidence as opposed to your presuppositionalism view.

I believe that you consciously or perhaps subconsciously have great cognitive dissonance regarding even entertaining the idea that the Great Flood never happened. I have several friends like that---they won't even imagine the possibility---perhaps because it threatens their belief.

Religion’s finest moments in history have starred zealots who refused to bow to common sense — whether the common sense of Seleucid imperialism or the common sense of American slavery. Religion must be uncomfortable and unusual, or it will be tautological. It must be authoritative and binding, or it will be a sham.
That quote summarizes what I feel you believe.

To be honest, the whole idea that the Bible is human-derived and flawed upsets what I want to be true also, but I am now getting better at entertaining the concept without feeling threatened by my innermost belief.

Your critics have said that you are a poor example of a poster girl for Christianity because of your beliefs regarding Islam and Muslims. Many of my friends are the same way---but to be fair I believe that there is evil in the world and holding a giant lovefest won't solve all of it.

Comments so far?

Edited by Phat, : edited thrust of argument


Chance as a real force is a myth. It has no basis in reality and no place in scientific inquiry. For science and philosophy to continue to advance in knowledge, chance must be demythologized once and for all. –RC Sproul
"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." –Mark Twain "
~"If that's not sufficient for you go soak your head."~Faith
"as long as chance rules, God is an anachronism."~Arthur Koestler

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Faith, posted 09-19-2017 3:16 AM Faith has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 6 by Faith, posted 09-19-2017 9:19 AM Phat has responded
 Message 9 by PaulK, posted 09-19-2017 9:32 AM Phat has acknowledged this reply

  
Faith
Member
Posts: 26789
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.1


Message 6 of 1365 (820327)
09-19-2017 9:19 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Phat
09-19-2017 9:10 AM


Re: One More Thing For The Record
I haven't the slightest cognitive dissonance about the Flood or the inerrancy of the Bible. There's no point in "entertaining" a contradiction of either notion when I know it is false. It has nothing to do with being "threatened," or even to do with anything I WANT to be true, it's just that I know what I know.

My beliefs regarding Islam are also a matter of objective truth and have nothing to do with any personal attitude toward Muslims, except that I see them as victims of that miserable ideology.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by Phat, posted 09-19-2017 9:10 AM Phat has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by RAZD, posted 09-19-2017 9:23 AM Faith has not yet responded
 Message 107 by LamarkNewAge, posted 09-27-2017 5:40 PM Faith has not yet responded
 Message 199 by Phat, posted 10-08-2017 3:15 PM Faith has responded
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RAZD
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Posts: 19326
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Message 7 of 1365 (820328)
09-19-2017 9:21 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by PaulK
09-19-2017 8:20 AM


twisted apologetics
I find that the essay seems to be an example of intellectual dissonance, a rationalisation of the moral flaws of religion. Evil is seen as a necessary part, and submission to that evil a worthy sacrifice. An idea I find quite chilling.

What I saw was an excuse to maintain a belief by allowing others to have a dissonant belief, expecting same in return.

Rather than find a humanitarian reason for charity, or just for caring for other people.

Enjoy


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
RebelAmerican☆Zen☯Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


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This message is a reply to:
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RAZD
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Posts: 19326
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.2


Message 8 of 1365 (820329)
09-19-2017 9:23 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by Faith
09-19-2017 9:19 AM


Re: One More Thing For The Record
I haven't the slightest cognitive dissonance about the Flood ...

Oh goody, now we can have another thread about the flood fantasy of invented miracles.

Enjoy


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
RebelAmerican☆Zen☯Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


• • • Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click) • • •

This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by Faith, posted 09-19-2017 9:19 AM Faith has not yet responded

  
PaulK
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Posts: 13391
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 1.7


Message 9 of 1365 (820330)
09-19-2017 9:32 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Phat
09-19-2017 9:10 AM


Re: One More Thing For The Record
quote:

Your critics have said that you are a poor example of a poster girl for Christianity because of your beliefs regarding Islam and Muslims

Oh, no that's just a symptom. Even Faith's bigotry - which is hardly restricted to Muslims - and her love of conspiracy theories (likewise) are hardly the worst thing about her.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by Phat, posted 09-19-2017 9:10 AM Phat has acknowledged this reply

    
Tangle
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Joined: 10-07-2011
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(1)
Message 10 of 1365 (820332)
09-19-2017 9:38 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Faith
09-19-2017 3:16 AM


Faith writes:

It's SO true, I don't WANT anybody to go to Hell, but if I believe God has decreed it I can't argue with God, and all I can do is pray that God will save those I care about.

Congratualtions, you found a personal rationalisation for a really repulsive belief; that billions even trillions of people will be condemned to everalsting torture of an unimaginative kind simply because they were born in the wrong place and to the wrong parents.

That must make you feel so much better.

And you're praying for your friends so that god will change his mind just for them? That goes down as one of the craziest things you've said.


Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed. Je suis Juif. Je suis Parisien. I am Mancunian. I am Brum. I am London.I am Finland. Soy Barcelona

"Life, don't talk to me about life" - Marvin the Paranoid Android

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Faith, posted 09-19-2017 3:16 AM Faith has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 12 by Faith, posted 09-19-2017 10:10 AM Tangle has responded
 Message 330 by foreveryoung, posted 10-15-2017 7:08 AM Tangle has responded

  
Faith
Member
Posts: 26789
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.1


Message 11 of 1365 (820333)
09-19-2017 9:56 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by PaulK
09-19-2017 8:20 AM


So presumably you should be equally glad when Islamists follow their religion - as you understand it - and persecute and kill non-Muslims ?

It is certainly the same mindset, uncompromising devotion to their religion, and I wish the writer of the essay had addressed it. But of course there is nothing actually dangerous in either Judaism or Christianity as there is in Islam, just offended feelings and moral indignation, whereas Islam does prescribe killing people and despite all the liberal denials is doing it quite frequently these days.

So my agreement with the essay is only partial. I'm glad he appreciates the unwillingness to compromise on a point of doctrine that is painful to hold, and take from that the recognition that it's not personal, nobody is wishing Hell on friends and family, but he is unable to go quite to the point of recognizing that the things we find difficult are in fact important truths. As he discusses it they come off as more undigested lumps we can never swallow or truly accept. Although he can grant that Neil believes in Hell, it sounds like he can't accept at all that God's judgment of the Amalekites and "mamsers" is truly just. It continues to violate his conscience.

I think we all go through stages of accepting some of the tenets of our religion, I know I did. There was a lot that got my hackles up in the beginning. But I did grow into it as I learned more. Perhaps he will grow into an appreciation of God's justice even in those things he still rejects. Until he does they remain those undigested lumps he refuses to accept. (I'd consider that the "mamser" represents a threat to the community. There are some sins that seem to be treated as undermining the social fabric and if allowed to go unpunished would contribute to its unraveling. To punish such things seems unjust to us because we are individualists, but ancient Israel was a cohesive theocracy. If one person picked up firewood on the Sabbath without being punished for instance, the whole sacred concept of the Sabbath would be undermined for all other members of the community. Death seems extreme to us, but it isn't as if there hadn't been sufficient warning and it's no doubt the only way the commandment could have kept the people's reverence and obedience. It certainly strikes us as extremely unjust to punish the "mamsers" but I'd suppose there is some similar motivation involved, to protect the integrity of the society. It also seems to me that there may be a hidden spiritual dimension to some of this: demonic influence that keeps alive a certain mental set even in an infant of the Amalekites, that would grow up to threaten God's people just as its parents did. The commandment tells us that God "fisits the sins of the fathers unto the third and fourth generations" of those who hate Him, which suggests to me a factor of inheritance that isn't stated but probably the reason for it. If we all inherit the sin nature from our first parent Adam it seems to follow that there is a principle of the inheritance of sin that we often overlook.

I find that the essay seems to be an example of intellectual dissonance, a rationalisation of the moral flaws of religion. Evil is seen as a necessary part, and submission to that evil a worthy sacrifice. An idea I find quite chilling.

And that is where I think the writer's thinking breaks down because to this point he is unable to accept that he is pitting himself against God just as liberals do, and failing to grasp that God's actions are always right and true and for our good, and that he needs to grow to the point where he can understand how.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by PaulK, posted 09-19-2017 8:20 AM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 14 by Phat, posted 09-19-2017 10:51 AM Faith has not yet responded
 Message 17 by PaulK, posted 09-19-2017 2:08 PM Faith has responded

    
Faith
Member
Posts: 26789
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.1


Message 12 of 1365 (820335)
09-19-2017 10:10 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by Tangle
09-19-2017 9:38 AM


Another topic I felt needed addressing in the essay when I first read it is the idea that people go to Hell for failing to accept Jesus. The reality is that people go to Hell for their sins, and Hell is NOT a Christian concept, it's universal, held by probably the majority of religions throughout the world. When the Bible refers to Hell it is not by way of instructing us that there is a Hell, it's by way of referring to something taken for granted that it is expected most readers will recognize. There are variations on the idea but they all are about a place of punishment for one's personal moral failures after death.

The thing that is truly different about Christianity is that we have a Savior, a solution ot the universal problem of moral failure that makes death frightening. Some may fear the doctrine of reincarnation because of the idea they might come back as an animal (I know of someone who has this fear), but everybody knows at some level that they have sin in their history that they have no ability to erase.

This is the problem that Christ came to solve, and no other religion offers any such solution to it. "Come unto me all ye who are heavy ladn and I will give you rest." Other religions teach good behavior and hope that God "grades on the curve" but in many there remains a nagging suspicion that He doesn't. Buddhism offers the solution of an adept in meditation such that if you become a master you reach "nirvana" and are freed from the endless round of karmic suffering. But such mastery is rare; the average person has no access to it.

But Christ gives salvation to us if we believe in Him. Freedom from the punishment we all know we deserve. This is how the situation should be presented. It's far from the idea that you are going to Hell because you refuse to believe in Christ since you'd go to Hell even if you'd never heard of Him and your own religion would lead you to that conclusion.

Neil has the feelings I think most Christians have: we wouldn't send anybody to Hell if we'd written the Bible, we'd be a lot nicer than God, and very happy to see all our unsaved friends in heaven with us.* But if we believe the Bible we must believe that there is a Hell, and that is what the essay rightly recognizes as the tension of faith, the basic conflict, the reflection of Abraham's choice to obey God or his own feelings.

*I'm not sure what you think is so crazy about praying for our friends and family since we are limited creatures. But that's just a way of expressing the limitation because in fact we all pray for strangers as well.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by Tangle, posted 09-19-2017 9:38 AM Tangle has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 13 by Tangle, posted 09-19-2017 10:48 AM Faith has not yet responded
 Message 108 by Dr Adequate, posted 09-30-2017 11:42 AM Faith has responded

    
Tangle
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Posts: 5264
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 1.9


Message 13 of 1365 (820337)
09-19-2017 10:48 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by Faith
09-19-2017 10:10 AM


Faith writes:

The reality is that people go to Hell for their sins

To be clear, you believe that people who don't belive the same things as you are going to hell don't you?


Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed. Je suis Juif. Je suis Parisien. I am Mancunian. I am Brum. I am London.I am Finland. Soy Barcelona

"Life, don't talk to me about life" - Marvin the Paranoid Android

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by Faith, posted 09-19-2017 10:10 AM Faith has not yet responded

  
Phat
Member
Posts: 10253
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 14 of 1365 (820338)
09-19-2017 10:51 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by Faith
09-19-2017 9:56 AM


Representing
Faith writes:

I haven't the slightest cognitive dissonance about the Flood or the inerrancy of the Bible. There's no point in "entertaining" a contradiction of either notion when I know it is false. It has nothing to do with being "threatened," or even to do with anything I WANT to be true, it's just that I know what I know.


Perhaps this is why you never respond to their claims for you to provide evidence. You have already decided beforehand that your observations are good enough for you and if they don't see it, that's their problem and not yours.
Faith writes:

I don't WANT anybody to go to Hell, but if I believe God has decreed it I can't argue with God, and all I can do is pray that God will save those I care about.

When I used to argue with jar, I found it preposterous that he would even suggest that a human should argue with God and put God on trial if the Creator erred in any judgment. After all, how could God ever need correction?

You, on the other hand, say that you can't argue with God. While i believe that God is perfect and without error, I most certainly feel that intercession is not only allowed but demanded. Moreover, i see jars point. Perhaps God expects us to correct certain things that need correcting.

Let's take tangle as another case-in-point. He is an atheist, yet he has a good moral framework and outlook on things and quite logically points out that our God is unreasonable, cruel, and unrealistic. How on earth would you pray in that circumstance? More importantly, how can you live with representing the God that Tangle denies...perhaps because of your own attitude? Who am I to tell someone that they may end up in hell? jar has even mentioned that if the God we market turned out to be real, he would laugh in the Creators face.
Can you see where he is coming from? (It is good to imagine yourself in other peoples views)

Faith writes:

And that is where I think the writer's thinking breaks down because to this point he is unable to accept that he is pitting himself against God just as liberals do, and failing to grasp that God's actions are always right and true and for our good, and that he needs to grow to the point where he can understand how.

Wait...so you think that God is a conservative?

Edited by Phat, : revised a few wordings


Chance as a real force is a myth. It has no basis in reality and no place in scientific inquiry. For science and philosophy to continue to advance in knowledge, chance must be demythologized once and for all. –RC Sproul
"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." –Mark Twain "
~"If that's not sufficient for you go soak your head."~Faith
"as long as chance rules, God is an anachronism."~Arthur Koestler

This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by Faith, posted 09-19-2017 9:56 AM Faith has not yet responded

  
GDR
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Posts: 4365
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 1.6


(1)
Message 15 of 1365 (820342)
09-19-2017 12:04 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Faith
09-19-2017 3:16 AM


Faith writes:

Later the writer of the article becomes a practicing orthodox Jew who encounters some things in his religion he has trouble accepting (much the same things GDR for instance has trouble accepting in the Old Testament), and he remembers Neil's statement in his new context.

That actually isn't correct Faith. It isn't that I have trouble accepting what is in the Bible, it is a matter of the fact that my starting point is Jesus whereas your starting point is an inerrant Bible.

The OT has God commanding genocide and public stonings whereas Jesus denounces both. I go with Jesus and you go with an inerrant Bible.

I have no trouble believing that someone claimed that God told them to commit those atrocities, but if Jesus is actually the embodied Word or wisdom of God, it is obvious that the individual who made those claims got it wrong or had a personal agenda.

And again, if Yahweh wanted the Canaanites all dead why didn't he do it Himself as in the stories of Sodom and Gomorrah and spare the Israelites the PTSD of slaughtering men, women, children, infants and beasts.

And again, faith isn't about giving intellectual assent to any specific Christian doctrine, but about having the law of love written on one's heart. It is faith in the message that God has given us through Jesus which is that we are to love. Look at the story of the Roman Centurion who Jesus said had more faith than any of the disciples. Jesus in the story of the "Good Samaritan" uses someone that was outside orthodox Judaism to make the point that faith is about loving sacrificially, not faith is a specific doctrine.


He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Faith, posted 09-19-2017 3:16 AM Faith has not yet responded

    
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