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Archive for Saturday, July 21, 2007

Can we separate the historical Jesus from the Jesus of the Bible?

July 21, 2007

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Search for 'real' Jesus fruitless

Kevin Wood, pastor, Eudora First Southern Baptist Church, 1103 Main St.:

The "search for the historical Jesus" is code language for those who are convinced that the Jesus of Scripture could not be the real Jesus. Those who are dissatisfied with the Jesus whom they find in Scripture go on a fruitless search for "the real Jesus."

The primary thing those who are seeking the historical Jesus are looking for is a nonmiraculous person - a Jesus who is not divine. The Jesus of the New Testament is offensive to them, so, they perpetually search for a Jesus that fits their own preconceptions. They have eschewed the real Jesus of Scripture for a bogie Jesus that they will never find.

Of course, the reason they will never find the real Jesus is he is not what they want. For them, the real Jesus is hidden in plain sight. Their dilemma illustrates one of the key premises of Christianity. That premise is the centrality of faith.

One cannot believe in Jesus because one wants to believe. Faith is a gift from God (see Ephesians 2:8). Faith is the key for those who are on the perpetual search for a historical Jesus. If they would get out of the maze of their own making, they must accept the Jesus of Scripture by faith.

Faith is exactly what the inventors of the search for the mythical, historical Jesus want to avoid. They will tolerate anything but faith. They would rather go on their perpetual journey of skepticism. The last thing they really want to find is the real Jesus.

However, they had better be careful, because as C.S. Lewis said of Aslan, "He is not a tame lion." Our Lord Jesus is also not tame. One day all searching will end, and all will see the real Jesus of the Bible face to face.

As for me and my house, we love the Jesus of the Bible. Our search is over!

- Send e-mail to Kevin Wood at KWood50322@aol.com.

Separating Christ ignores history

Shaun LePage, pastor, Community Bible Church, 906 N. 1464 Road:

Is it important? Depends on what you want. If you want a religion and a Jesus you're more comfortable with, then you must differentiate between the historical Jesus and the Jesus of the Bible.

The Bible Jesus said outrageous things such as "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." He claimed to come down from heaven. He accepted worship. He said those who did not believe in him were condemned. But, if you want the true Jesus - the Jesus who can give you eternal life - then it is important to know that the historical Jesus is the Bible Jesus.

Is it possible? It is only possible to differentiate between the historical Jesus and the Bible Jesus if you are willing to ignore the facts - history and archaeology have confirmed the accuracy of the Bible.

You have to ignore the fact that the trustworthiness of the biblical documents is well-established. You have to ignore the fact that the so-called scholars who differentiate between the historical Jesus and the Bible Jesus don't stand on scholarship, but on presuppositions and opinions.

But, if you want the real Jesus - it's not possible to differentiate between the historical Jesus and the Bible Jesus. They are one and the same. And, the implications are enormous: If the Bible does present the historical Jesus, then Jesus was not just an interesting historical figure or a great teacher. Either he was crazy and a great deceiver - in the same category as Charles Manson - or he is exactly who the Bible reports he is: God the savior. The only way to God.

- Send e-mail to Shaun LePage at shaun@community-bible.org.

Comments

lounger 7 years, 5 months ago

Jesus had some supposed "lost" years where he travelled with a buddest and other worldly people. If you ever ask a supposed christian this they get frightened. They deny. Why?

Ragingbear 7 years, 5 months ago

I found Jesus! He was under the couch the whole time.

puppyfeathers 7 years, 5 months ago

This deranged beggar is dead and has been for quite some time. How long must mankind beat this tired story into the ground? This lame tale has been told, over and over again, for thousands of years by people who were never there, who've added bits of their own crap in the mix, to people who in turn, have regurgitated their own version.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not doubting for a moment that a man named Jesus Christ lived on this rock at some point in history. Charles Manson and David Koresh (as well as hundreds of others) both had followers whom thought their leader was son of God. Maybe future sheepish humans will be having the same tired discussions about them in a few thousand years as much as J. Christ is receiving today.

SimiensRainbow 7 years, 5 months ago

Why is it that the religious fundies and the secular fundies feel they have to dominate and shout down every discussion regarding faith issues? Can't you people get a room and leave contentious, yet grown-up, conversation to those that might actually like to converse about these topics?

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 5 months ago

There is no "historical" Jesus. To date there has been no contemporary writing or archaeological evidence that he ever existed. And don't bother pointing to the Bible as "proof". The Bible as we know it dates at it's earliest from the 6th century. The King James version (so dear to the hearts of Southern and Cumberland Primitive Baptists) dates from the 17th century.

average 7 years, 5 months ago

Can we separate the part true, part noble myth stories of Jesus from the irrelevant legalistic small-mindedness of Paul and the church Paul was the actual founder of?

Frederic Gutknecht IV 7 years, 5 months ago

These two Jesi have the same fingerprints, birth certificate and dental records. I suspect they are one in the same. Many don't realize that there were 33 other Jesi that were also identical to the Bible Jesus. Each had books written about them, which were destroyed or bastardized by unbelievers. There is no going back and finding these books, but the Church of the Holy Writers on the Storm is recreating the books using a new technique called divine invention. Rather than believing in anything that they read, our writers believe in anything that pops into their heads. They use immaculate preconception techniques along with divine presupposition and opinion to construct the latest in reconstructions. They also have faith and fear that Jesus is not a tame lion and are doing their best to create a unified Jesus story without inconsistencies and with a nonsecular logicality that can be understood and accepted by today's peoples. Unfortunately, our writers are from all over the world and write in seven languages. It will take awhile to translate their rather divine works into Chinese, the language of the New World Order, but we expect to have it in bookstores by next fall. We're calling the book Faith. If you advance purchase it, you'll be saving not only your mortal soul but $12.98. If you don't buy it then you can go to h-e double toothpicks.

If you buy THAT , then I've got a swamped ark in Florida to sell you. If you think this is all so ridiculous, then why are you reading this silly faith column. Jesus is Faith. That ain't up for debate, is it?

I'm not through spouting ridiculousness though, so shut off your demon machines NOW!

I don't understand many parts of the Jesus story. What's the big deal about suffering death on the cross to pave a road to heaven for all who believe. YOU'D do it! Wouldn't you? You know you would, especially if you had an inkling that you'd be resurrected and sit at the right hand of the Father. Plus, the glory of having a load of people praising you, writing about you, reading about you and always using your name not in vain would also be a kick if y' still had a twinge of flesh thinking left in your soul. Even those lousy, chicken scratch terrorists blow themselves up for heavenly glory and they apparently think they'll still have a corpus to party with.

It seems that one of the cruelest jokes perpetuated on manunkind is that we are encouraged to choose between the varied words of men speaking for a variable One True God. Jesus is Faith and every human argues, at least in their head, about what is right. It's not about right. It's about faith. People will continue to hedge their bets according to their faiths, and some Armageddon will come and go as self-fulfilling prophecy. Show me the love!

Newell_Post 7 years, 5 months ago

Dear LJW:

Why do you always pose these questions to holy rollers? Their answers are as predictable as the force of gravity. How about including some scholars with slightly divergent opinions once in a while?

Jamesaust 7 years, 5 months ago

Good Lord, if anything, this series gets more and more funny. Kudos to the World for this project - even the Onion couldn't have pulled it off so well (although I'd love to see what Colbert could do with the concept).

Next: two Muslims clerics respond to the question: Was Ali born in the Kabaah or in a goat manager? Later this summer, two respected Buddhist scholars will present their response to the inquiry: The Buddhah - husky or fat?

mick 7 years, 5 months ago

To believers no proof is necessary. To unbelievers no proof is sufficient. It is a matter of faith.

Ragingbear 7 years, 5 months ago

There never was a man named Jesus Christ. Not even if the one in the bible existed was there ever a Jesus Christ. The two names both basically translate into savior or messiah.

In other news, Christians swallow whatever their fed.

Staci Dark Simpson 7 years, 5 months ago

2 questions I hope you guys never have to answer, you Jesus bashers. 1)Why am I here? 2)Why am I in this handbasket?

The Lord himself said "Make no mistake, death is not the end".

Grammaton 7 years, 5 months ago

Okay, its like this. Mankind's greatest asset is also his greatest weakness: Self awareness. When a mind becomes self aware, we begin to question. When we begin to question, we ultimately come to the realization of our own mortality.

The human self-aware mind is not capable of understanding or contemplating nothingness. It simply cannot understand or accept that life just ENDS.

EVERYTHING that is known on our world, solar system and cosmos eventually dies, or ceases to exist. (Yes, I'm aware that matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed. I'm speaking in very generalized terms.) Atoms, trees, rocks, planets, suns and even entire galaxies. Everything ends, everything dies. Yet with all of this, the human mind STILL cannot fathom its own end.

So, long ago at some point, we made up stories to console ourselves and our kin. We made up literally thousands of gods and devils and heavens. Over time these stories became so elaborate and complex that they ingrained themselves into our minds. Most people on this planet cannot live or accept life without these stories. People are willing to go through a lot of trouble (applying great creativity) to avoid reality.

You either believe in a god or gods, or not. That is not the problem. The problem arises when one group of people decided that THEIR god was better that OTHER peoples' god. That's what gets people fired up.

I personally am an agnostic, but I have no problem with religion or religious people. What I DO have a problem with is when religious people and religion start telling me how to live, act, talk, walk, breathe, eat, marry, etc. I'm exaggerating, but still -- I have a SERIOUS problem with that.

THAT'S what gets people fired up, one religion trying to tell others what they should and should not do.

Just my opinion. No further postings for me. Say what you want, think what you want -- I've just turned my "I care" switch off.

Cheers, everyone. Have a great day. It's beautiful outside.

SimiensRainbow 7 years, 5 months ago

TomPaine, the word you're looking for to describe yourself is "fundamentalist"---which is why you enjoy the faith forum so much---as I said before, the two-sides-of-the-same-coin fundies ARE the only ones who enjoy this place---neither is interested in discussion---just trumpeting their particular brand of Truth-with-a-capital-T. You really do deserve one another.

thusspokezarathustra 7 years, 5 months ago

SPACYSTACI8, "2 questions I hope you guys never have to answer, you Jesus bashers. 1)Why am I here? 2)Why am I in this handbasket?"

Answer 1: I was born. Answer 2: I am not in a handbasket.

Why do you hope we don't have to answer these?

thusspokezarathustra 7 years, 5 months ago

"You have to ignore the fact that the trustworthiness of the biblical documents is well-established. You have to ignore the fact that the so-called scholars who differentiate between the historical Jesus and the Bible Jesus don't stand on scholarship, but on presuppositions and opinions."

Yes, ignore the non-believer's claims & believe the unsupported claims to the contrary, Christianity does stand on scholarship & not opinion & presupposition, just ask the pope.

Daniel Speicher 7 years, 5 months ago

Well... You guys didn't expect me to remain silent on this one, did you? ;)

I kind of want to throw a few responses out to some previous posts if I may. I don't generally do this and hope that this isn't viewed as an "attack"... But, as my view on some questions and what I view to be misconceptions. Feel free to respond in like kind.

First, cait48... It is simply ignorant (in the literal sense... you are ignoring facts... not that you're stupid) to state that there is no proof that there was, indeed, a man named Jesus of Nazareth who lived around 30 ad. There are plenty of Jewish historians out there who recorded that there was a man named Jesus of Nazareth who did, in fact, die on a cross and whose body was, in fact, missing three days later. Of course these historians spoke nothing of the miraculous possibilities of resurrection. Although, Josephus, does mention in his historical account that Jesus was accredited to many miracles before his death. (Although, I have my serious doubts that as a Jewish historian, he believed any of them.) ((cont'd. below))

Daniel Speicher 7 years, 5 months ago

((cont'd. from above)) Secondly, JJE007... If we are to believe the story of the Gospel... Jesus didn't just "blow himself up." He didn't just strap himself with explosives that (until the explosion) do no damage and cause no pain. He didn't just push a button and "voila" the sins of man were forgiven. The Romans were experts on keeping enemies of the state on the brink of death without pushing them over that line. They beat their victims 39 times because they found that most people would die after 40 lashes. Jesus received this punishment. He was spit on, beaten severely, adorned with a crown of thorns that was driven into this forehead and head... He carried his own cross over a mile across town and was nailed to it with nine-inch spikes that are very reminiscant of railroad spikes of today. Christ, of course, did not die of blood loss... No, nearly six hours after being crucified he suffocated by the weight of his own person because he was no longer able to raise his weight off of his lungs to allow Himself to breathe any longer. Each time he raised His body up the wooden splinters from the roughly constructed cross would splinter His back which, at this point, was already more resemblant to ground beef than human flesh. Most people would die in a matter of a couple of hours. But, because Christ was particulary annoying to the Romans, they chose not to break his legs and, instead, let Him suffer longer. And, of course, this is all just the physical pain. While Muslim terrorists (as you mention) are cheered on by their friends... Jesus' friends denied Him, betrayed Him and stood watching in disbelief as their Messiah (or so they thought) died and, despite Jesus' teaching that He would rise again, their hope for a New Israel, died with Him. Beyond the physical pain and emotional pain, it is also said in Scripture that He also bore the spiritual pain of having every sin that man ever committed, or would ever commit, upon His heart. So, in short... Would I have done the same? I sure would like to think so... But, I can't say that. I don't think anyone could. And, to compare this kind of torture and death to that of the modern-day Islamic extremist suicide bomber is, quite frankly, absurd.

Third, Newell_Post... They throw these questions out to any number of religious leaders (both Christian and non-Christian), and they have the choice to answer or not answer. You'd be surprised at how many choose to stay silent. Not to say this about these two gentlemen... But, just as a general statement about our culture... The most intelligent seem to stay silent while the idiots of this world grab firmly onto the megaphone. It's very dissappointing.

Fourth, mick... Absolutely amazing quote. Is that original to you or did you find it somewhere? In its simplicity it is very profound. ((cont'd. below))

Daniel Speicher 7 years, 5 months ago

((cont'd. from above)) Fifth, RagingBear... Once again, it is simply ignorant of the facts to state that there is no proof that a man named Jesus of Nazareth lived in early first century Israel. However, I will grant you that the name Jesus wasn't exactly "unique." There were several Jesus'. As a matter of fact, the name is a derivative of the Hebrew name Joshua (a VERY common name.) But, you must use the context of the Scripture and compare it to historical accounts. When you do that, you come to find that there was, indeed, a man named Jesus of Nazareth who caused a stir around 30AD, got in trouble with the law, was crucified by the Romans (out of fear that the Jewish people would revolt otherwise), whose grave was empty three days later and whose followers caused more mischief and got themselves killed in the process as well... But, not before they effectively communicated what they saw to others. This is historical and easily backed up. Josephus was the most notable Jewish historian who mentioned this... Although there are others as well who wrote similar notations of this Jesus of Nazareth. ((On a side note, I laughed when I read your "Jesus under the couch" comment.))

Sixth (and it's a double) to spacystaci8 and Grammaton... With all due respect... I think there is something much bigger than the need to find a mansion in heaven at play in Christianity. You both fail to recognize that Christ, yes, came that we might have eternal life... But, He also came to give us life here on Earth and life ABUNDANTLY! I believe in Christ not because I fear Hell... But, instead, because I fear "missing the point" while I'm here. I believe for too long in Christianity we have preached this "hell, fire and brimstone" crap that people have come to believe in Christ simply to avoid the flames of Hell. And, all the while they are living each day waiting for the day when they get to "go home." The Kingdom of God is here and now, folks! We have the opportunity to enjoy this life! Left to our own devices we may be "heading to Hell in a handbasket", but God has lavished all of creation with this prevenient grace that spreads over all of mankind... Both believers and non-believers! Even those who do not accept His gift of free salvation and abundance now... They still get blessings! However, I am here to tell you... Life, as it is here and now, after I've found Christ and truly started to live for Him... The same blessings I had before are SO much richer and so much deeper... Because I know where they come from... I know Who to praise! And, yes... I know where I would go if I died today. And, that, too, is exciting! If you want to know what the Gospel is REALLY about... Quit looking ahead to death... Start looking around! The Kingdom of God is here! And, we are blessed! ((cont'd. below))

Daniel Speicher 7 years, 5 months ago

((cont'd. from above)) And, finally... Marion... You hit it on the nose. As Christians we CANNOT know. Not with absolute, unequivocal certainty that Christ is real. He cannot be touched, tasted, seen, heard or smelled. He is invisible to the senses. Furthermore, there are all kinds of things I "feel" in my heart. I feel happy when work goes the way I want it to. I feel angry when I mess up. I feel sad when I can't see my girlfriend. And, to further make complex that which is infinitely so... There are times when I feel happy for no good reason, angry for no good reason and sad for no good reason. And, this is only three emotions out of HUNDREDS or THOUSANDS! So, you're absolutely right... There is NO way to prove God. However, what I do know is this... I used to (even as a "Christian") rely on my own strength to get through life. I used to do my best to keep my emotions in check, plan out every detail of every day for days and weeks and months in the future. I used to look to others for security. I used to measure my success on how well I did in school or my career. But, the fact of the matter is that my bosses and teachers often didn't give me the credit I feel I deserved, my friends often let me down because (GASP!) they had lives of their own... And, there was NO way I could bring myself out of the pits of depression or look so far into the future to see every obstacle to my plans. When I let Christ in and actually let Him lead me... All I know is life became a lot more peaceful. Don't get me wrong... I am still responsible for my actions... I still have to look to the future on certain decisions... I still love to hang out with friends... And, I still work hard at my job (and, when I'm in school, in school.) But, when others (or I) let me down... I feel stability and not fear. And, while I can't hear God audibly... I do feel His direction. And it is unlike any other "inner-voice" or "inner-monologue" (gotta love Scrubs) that I have heard before. It is entirely unique. But, it does take faith. And, for those who are analytical (as I like to think I am), we struggle with faith. Because we deal in those things that can be observed. But, when I start asking myself about how I could believe in a God who can't be proven to exist... I also have to ask myself if I would want a God in which man could understand. At what point would I want to serve a God who is fininte enough for us to grasp? For, if God is finite and fully-knowable... Is He really God?

Sorry for the length of this... I just got on a tangent! ;)

--Danny Speicher

geekin_topekan 7 years, 5 months ago

I thought that Raging bear was Jesus after he found those mysterious wounds on his hands.

Daniel Speicher 7 years, 5 months ago

Marion... I did misunderstand. However, I do think that God can be known and wants to be known... Just not entirely and not with such certainty that faith is no longer needed. If we are to believe that God did, indeed, come down and dwell among us as a man (Jesus Christ), than we must also believe that God wants to be known.

Of course, then the question is, "How can we know whether Jesus was, indeed, God in the flesh?" To which, once again, we must go to historical accounts of Jesus. And, you must determine if Jesus was a liar... Or if he was insane... Or if, indeed, He was Emmanuel (God with us.) Those are the only options. After reviewing historical accounts and the accounts in the Gospels... I know I choose to believe that He was, indeed, God. However, others draw different conclusions. It just seems foolish given the what we do know of Jesus. He seems very coherent and there is really no evidence of Him lying in any other sticky situations (the Pharisees tested Him many times on mundane Jewish laws that He supposedly was breaking). But, to each their own interpretation. All I can attest to is what I believe to be true and what that Truth has done in my life since I have chosen to accept it and follow Him.

--Danny Speicher

average 7 years, 5 months ago

I've known enough profound and kind-hearted people who were also delusional to find a problem with the the 'insane' part of that trilemma. That is beside accepting a history written decades later by the fandom as entirely accurate.

Personally, I'm a deist. Science can give no answer as to why there should be something, rather than nothing. If everything has a cause, there is an unexplainable singularity. God seems an appropriate term.

But, I believe science beyond that. I believe science as to the size and composition of the universe. From those boggling parameters, neither life nor consciousness seem improbable, and we are not the center of anything. In no way does accepting a God imply believing in a God that gives a damn or is in anyway involved in the concerns of Earth. The Judeo-Christian-Muslim tradition lives in a pre-Copernican state of hubris.

Why science over faith? Because the scientist can say "Galaxy X is receding" or "Codon Y encodes protein Z". They can tell me the observations they made, I can re-test the observations they made, and draw my own conclusions. Faith says, "The tomb was empty" or "Incorporeal Jesus gave moral authority to Paul on the road to Damascus". I can not re-test those suppositions.

TheYetiSpeaks 7 years, 5 months ago

Look at Marion, going the Descartes route....I was so waiting for "I think therefore I am".

Daniel Speicher 7 years, 5 months ago

It's possible you're onto something with us trying to anthropomorphising God, Marion. However, who are we to say that God doesn't have that desire to be known by His creation. If the God of the Bible is the one, true God, than He is most definitely a God who has a desire to be known... There are plenty of scriptures pointing to that. However, that is, once again, assuming that this Judeo-Christian God is, indeed, God. Furthermore, if this is true... That the very Creator of everything wants to know us (as small and as insignificant as we may seem in the grand scheme of things), that is absolutely a mystery in and of itself!

Average, let me ask you this... Why can't both science and Christ coexist? St. Thomas of Aquinas believed they could... And, I'm inclined to agree. I think science is ever evolving (no pun intended) and there is plenty of room to move nearer to God... And, I think scripture is often too-strictly interpreted and, at times, is done so to be divisive and cause strain between relgion and science. I, personally, believe that God created science (and all else) and intended us to study it, understand it and use it to the benefit of all mankind. Furthermore, I see no problem in believing that a loving God who gave free will is still very active in the everyday processes of mankind. Keep in mind that if a God were so loving to give free will... He also is loving enough not to take it away... Even when that free will is used to the destruction of others.

--Danny Speicher

average 7 years, 5 months ago

Belief in Christology implies that the Earth is the center of God's plan. Most scientists find our situation to be not particularly remarkable in the scope of the universe.

Belief in Christology, whether liberally accepting evolution or adhering to direct creation, implies that humankind is the epitome, the reason that the Earth was created. While as a man, I am sympathetic toward this, it is not compatible with scientific understanding of evolution. According to evolutionary theory, ragweed, squirrels, E.Coli, and humans have all adapted to niches, and each are presently successful. Man exploits some unique niches, but it not a special case.

Belief in Christology says directly that God favored one tribe of sheep-herders in the Middle East thousands of years ago over the goat-herders, yak-herders, llama-herders, eland hunters, kangaroo hunters, and buffalo hunters of the world. He brought his truth directly to those people, and the rest of the world was to believe it because the violent conquerers descended thereof said that God came to the sheep-herders thousands of years ago. And, although we had no sure way of knowing whether God walked among the conquerers centuries ago, if we didn't believe it and submit to their culture, we were surely damned.

RomanNose 7 years, 5 months ago

The author Flavius Josephus wrote of and even appeared to have admired Jesus of Nazareth. By looking at some of the comments in this thread, a good majority scoff at the idea of the bible being a credible source. Here's some food for thought; a person can reject God only up to certain point until God will "harden" your heart - forever separating the two of you and belief will never be possible. I'm sure a few of you who care less to look for this within the bible fit into this category.

Within the manuscripts there are long accounts of genealogy throughout the entire book. Follow these and they lead to and end at the birth of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 18:9-20 speaks directly of the attacks of 9/11. It even gives a detailed list of what is affected within the trade industry. John also describes a beast that is given power over all nations, kings, and tongues. The description of the beast is bizarre as is the rest of the book. The UN has 7 permanent heads and 10 rotating heads and currently controls all but 3% of the globe.

It's probably all just a coincidence. Maybe there was a different Jesus after all. Like a.... SUPER JEVUS!!!!

jonas 7 years, 5 months ago

Jamesaust: Joking aside (and funny it was!) the Buddha was neither husky nor fat. He was, in fact, quite emaciated as he achieved enlightenment by fasting etc for years and years. He got fat somewhere in the middle years of Chinese development, I think. God only knows how, I'm operating on the idea of a distended stomach from too many internal parasites, right now. Don't know why he's always so happy, though, so the theory might need a little more work.

Original Indian and early Chinese buddhas, though, are very svelte.

jonas 7 years, 5 months ago

Oh yeah, and no you can't separate the historical Jesus from the Biblical Jesus. More, why the hell would you even want to. Reality and spirituality have at best a nodding aquaintance, and burdening faith with too many concrete facts just damages it, and removes what makes it helpful for people in the first place. Whatever Christ's true life was like, similar, exact or totally disparate, it doesn't in any way change the legacy that he left behind, or the manner in which it was executed. Just let it go.

Ceallach 7 years, 5 months ago

My oh my, nothing seems to bring out the hate more than saying Jesus of Nazareth was The Christ. As I see it, believers and non-believers can both be wrong, but they can't both be right. I tire of those who assume that everyone who claims to be a follower of Christ, actually tries to live according to His teachings, or even knows Him. So it's "Christians do this, Christians do that," and they are used to demonstrate the futility of believing in Him. Are true Christians sinless . . no . . do we want to be . . yes! Vastly different from those who make faith in God an endeavor similar to a "Build a Bear Workshop." They create a god after their own image, designed to accommodate what they want to do with/in their lives.

What have I lost if . . I wrongly believe that I am created by a loving God, live my life trying to follow His teachings, look for the goodness of God is this world, and find strength in Him to get through the hard times, then die? I have lost nothing! But I've had a good and rewarding life.

I agree with Danny S, life as a Christian is not about "escaping hell." If that is one's sole motivation their faith will not last long. Instead, it's about living an abundant life right now. Finding peace and hope in the midst of the chaos and despair that surrounds us daily in this world.

People have the right to reject or accept "Christology." The need to attack Christians and their Christ is something I cannot understand. I do not see any other religion attacked so vehemently on these boards.

purplesage 7 years, 5 months ago

The "quest for the historical Jesus" is the result of the liberalism of the early 1800's attempting to apply scientific methodology to the study of theology. When Christians founded the European universities, the "queen of sciences," theology, was the most noble of studies. That standing was lost with the advance of scientific methodology, which though developed by devout men who believed that an ordered, observable universe pointed to the intelligence of the Creator, was increasing hostile to and arrogantly opposed to theology.

The application of the scientific method to the study of theology gave rise to such notions as the quest for the historical Jesus. Today, the Jesus Seminar represents such an approach. The Scriptures have been color coded, cut and pasted.

Epistemologically, faith can be a basis for knowing. It is not the same knowledge as, for example, laboratory knowledge, but it is knowledge nonetheless. And it is certainly more accurate than some of the confidently stated positions stated in this forum. For example, the dating of the New Testament "as we know it" is fixed in the 6th century. That ignores Irenaeus in the late 2nd century who spoke of a 4-fold Gospel; Paul's works are referenced as well at the same date. Origen mentions a mostly complete canon in the 200's. Bishop Athanasius circulated a list in 367 that included exactly the 27 canonical books recognized today. Even if we wait for the Vulgate, Jerome lived in the 400's - still 200 years early. Augustine, the greatest theologian in the West since Paul lived in that time frame as well.

Nobody would do what Jesus did voluntarily. The physical horrors of the Crucifixion are only the surface. He bore the sins of the world - even those of the many who will not even acknowledge his existence. But there are those who so despise God, that if they were to get into heaven,would, as I recently heard it stated, "jump out of the first window they could find."

He loves you, nonetheless. Psalm 139 ponders the utter impossibility of escaping His presence.

Calliope877 7 years, 5 months ago

"The primary thing those who are seeking the historical Jesus are looking for is a nonmiraculous person - a Jesus who is not divine. The Jesus of the New Testament is offensive to them, so, they perpetually search for a Jesus that fits their own preconceptions. They have eschewed the real Jesus of Scripture for a bogie Jesus that they will never find."

I don't agree with this comment at all. I don't think the archaeologists and Biblical scholars seeking the historical Jesus find the New Testament offensive -- if anything, the New Testament provides an abundance of historical information that has been proven. Many ancient cities have been uncovered by using the Bible as a guide as to where to find them. They are archaeologists, it's their job to dig up forgotten cities and people who've been dead for a long time, it's only logical that they would try to find a man that had made such a tremendous impact on Western civilization. I think it is only the church and its believers that feel offended by that and are jumping to the preconceived notion that those who are seeking a historical Jesus are out to discredit him and his teachings -- that makes absolutely no sense to me, but maybe that's just me.

Martin_D_15 7 years, 5 months ago

non-Christians are gonna BURN IN HELL!!! like algore and UGLY hillary!

thank God our great President George W. Bush is a Christian!

ndmoderate 7 years, 5 months ago

What's a "bogie Jesus?"

Is it like when someone sees the Virgin Mary in a piece of toast? Or in this case, the pastor picked his nose and the resulting "harvest" resembles the countenance of Jesus?

Frederic Gutknecht IV 7 years, 5 months ago

Danny S - Responding to your "response": You seem to be saying that it is absurd to compare one person dying for his belief to another if the dying was more painful for one of the martyrs. The old "My martyr's better than your martyr!" argument, eh?~D You appear to be saying that you can't imagine dying in such a horrible way for the sins of mankind. That stinks. You sound like a rather selfish and short-sighted beast!~) I'd do it. If my God Father of souls suggested that it would be a great idea? Sure. Heck, I'd even spend another couple of days being tortured and dying if my God Father of souls promised that nobody would ever have to listen to any more exclusive preaching for the rest of our forevers. I'd gladly spend those last few days, that tiny percentage, of my body's life in hell if I was guaranteed eternal life without the pain of the body. I think you'd have to be some kind of wimpy fool to do otherwise. OOOH. It'll HURT, though. Waaaa.... Geebus H. Cripes Aweunmighty. Die for a few sins, already!

You are very welcome for this additional clue that this world of varied beliefs is RIDICULOUS!~) I hope you enjoy it as much as I!

Daniel Speicher 7 years, 5 months ago

JJ... You better believe I'm selfish. I never denied that. It is something that I have been trying to "fix" for years. (Oddly enough, when one tries to fix selfishness by his own SELF it doesn't work out that well.) However, I will say that with the power of Christ I have become far less selfish than I once was. However, I certainly can't claim that I would be able to bear the burden Christ bore. If you believe you can, I do commend you. That certainly takes a very selfless person to say such a thing.

Now as far as the whole "my martyr is better than your martyr"... I suppose the difference is that I don't see my Lord as a martyr. I see Him as a Savior. And, with that, it puts far greater depth to what He did on the cross than mere physical pain. Whereas His death on the cross, physically, wasn't all that remarkable (although, He definitely did get the worst possible punishment that the Roman government issued.) There were thousands of people, I'm sure, historically who suffered a similar punishment. But, what makes Christ's death far greater than those is this:

1. He bore every sin of the world with Him. I want you to imagine for a moment a time (if there ever was one) where your conscience came down upon you for doing something that you KNEW was wrong and hurt others. As a matter of fact, I want you to think of the time you felt the very WORST for doing something. Maybe you had two or three things on your heart that you had done to hurt someone. Now, I want you to take that feeling and multiply it to near infinity and that burden is what Christ felt. He was completely crushed by the sins of humanity. He who was without sin... Became sin... To wash away sin.

2. He could have gotten down from the cross at any point. At any given moment He could have used His divinity to come down off of the cross and walk, once again, among those who He loved. But, yet, He CHOSE this death and, even with the excruciating pain, burden of sin and lack of support from those He held closest... Even then He CHOSE to stay on the cross.

3. He didn't stay dead. The Gospel says that this is a stumbling block and foolishness to those who are unbelievers. And, frankly, it should be. Without faith it is completely foolish to believe that someone rose from the dead. When was the last time you saw someone rise from death? That would make for an interesting family funeral to be certain. However, He did rise... And there is an account of it that can be trusted in Scripture. And, there is even backing proof that the body was gone and never recovered in many historical texts. He is alive and He is coming back again someday... And, what's more... He wants a relationship with us now! That's pretty remarkable, if you ask me.

--Danny Speicher

TheYetiSpeaks 7 years, 5 months ago

I like to picture Jesus playing lead guitar for Lynrd Skynrd, and I'm in the front row and I'm hammered drunk. I picture Jesus wearing a tuxedo t-shirt because it says "I want to be formal" but also "I'm ready to party."

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 5 months ago

I'm glad that there is a diversity of opinion presented in this article: the views of one bald, white-guy fundie versus those of another bald, white-guy fundie.

"Can we separate the historical Jesus from the Jesus of the Bible?" Yes. The historical jesus was a man who may or may not have lived and said some decent things.

The biblical jesus is a fairy tale, a unicorn, a house-elf. About as believable as Harry Potter.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 5 months ago

"Satan loves thousands of people just like your self, non-believers." Millions, bucko!

If belief in god leads you to mushy thinking and soft-headed meandering like that which you posted above, then no thanks.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 5 months ago

Oh, and snackwell,

Lord Voldemort is always on the look-out to corrupt young magicians who are powerful and pure of heart. Voldemort even craves pure muggles. So, make sure you put your faith in good magic and Dumbledore. If you refure to see this, you are blind and close-minded. Seek purity in your magic, spywell, otherwise Voldemort will have your soul-power.

ndmoderate 7 years, 5 months ago

And Hellfire and Brimstone doth rain down upon us poor non-believers, complete with poor sentence structure, syntax, and spelling.

ndmoderate 7 years, 5 months ago

Isn't there something in the Bible about not swearing?

Frederic Gutknecht IV 7 years, 5 months ago

Danny S., Whoa. I forgot about that bearing all of the sins of the world stuff. I would not even attempt such a crazy stunt if I truly believed in sin and knew a way to bear them all. Torture and cricifixion would no doubt be a walk in the park, compared to that! Even if I only had to bear the ignorance, arrogance and stupidity of humyns (kind of a sin equivalent, for some) , I'd not be able to survive it for more than a millisecond without possessing godlike power. A regular flesh bag just couldn't do it. It's awful enough dealing with these failings I see around me and in me!~)

Newell_Post 7 years, 5 months ago

"They throw these questions out to any number of religious leaders (both Christian and non-Christian), and they have the choice to answer or not answer. You'd be surprised at how many choose to stay silent. Not to say this about these two gentlemen: But, just as a general statement about our culture: The most intelligent seem to stay silent while the idiots of this world grab firmly onto the megaphone. It's very dissappointing."

Well, OK! So, liberal/intellectual theologians out there, would you please respond once in a while? I'm tired of hearing only the canned spam from the holy rollers.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 5 months ago

Sir, how dare you fart before my wife!

I am sorry. I didn't realize it was her turn.

shaunlepage 7 years, 5 months ago

Part 1 of 4 I'm one of the "bald, white, fundie, holy rollers" who started this discussion (the second bald, white guy). I'm not sure what "bald" and "white" have to do with anything, and I'm not a "fundie" or a "holy roller" technically speaking, but if it's easier to call me (and the other bald white guy) names than to consider the validity of our ideas, then I understand. I've been guilty of such things in the past, too. I'll try not to resort to that here, though. Many in our culture have decided that it is better to shout down someone or attack them personally than to actually listen to what he/she has to say. I think that's pretty sad. Obviously, my beliefs and ideas are not so popular these days (if, indeed they ever have been), so it's really no big surprise to read here that many of you disagree with me. I'm a big boy-I can handle it. I think this forum makes it easy for us to depersonalize persons, though. I'd much rather meet you all some place and talk about these things face-to-face.

I don't know how some of you might define "scholar". I don't know if I am one or not. I have a Masters of Theology and have spent the past 25 years studying the Bible as well as the history and archaeology and manuscript evidence surrounding the Bible, so I know a few things (more than I did 25 years ago). I think this makes my opinion worth listening to, but I don't know if that qualifies me as a scholar. I tend to think, though, that this subject doesn't necessarily require a "scholar" to help us understand. I'm thankful for scholars and there are many that I know and read and respect. But anyone who is willing to objectively consider the evidence, can do a little reading and figure out what this is all about. I can honestly say I've done that and I came to the conclusion I stated above--that the Bible Jesus is the same as the historical Jesus. In other words, my faith is not a blind leap, but an evidential faith.

I should also say that when one of us is asked to write for "Faith Forum" we're only given 275 words to answer the question. I'm thankful for the opportunity to participate and I understand the need for brevity, but with a subject as vast and complex as this, 275 words isn't enough. I won't try to answer all the comments above, nor will I try to list all the reasons why I believe what I wrote. But, I do want to encourage those of you who are honestly looking for truth to do two things. 1) Really think about the implications of the discussion; 2) Do your homework and base your opinions on the evidence. (continued)

shaunlepage 7 years, 5 months ago

Part 2 of 4 1) The implications are enormous. If the Bible is true, there really is a God and He has revealed Himself to us. If the Bible is true, He has revealed Himself as Creator, Judge and Lord of the universe. If the Bible is true, God has revealed His moral standards and it does matter how we live our lives. If the Bible is true, then there is an after-life and how you respond to God in this life will determine your eternal destiny. That's worth a little of your time, isn't it? If the bible is not true, of course none of it matters. If it's not true, then let's do what Solomon suggested: "Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die!" Let's just go get a beer and forget the whole thing-we can debate politics and sports and global warming instead. But if it is true-as Solomon later concluded-then we must "remember... (and) fear God". I hope the possibility that the Bible is true will cause you to investigate things for yourself because your eternal destiny just might depend on it.
2) This is why it is so important to figure out whether the Bible can be trusted. If it cannot be trusted, then we're in a sea of relativity and your opinion is as good as mine and we can call each other names and shout each other down 'til Democrats and Republicans all agree on everything but it doesn't really matter. But, if it is true that God has spoken and the Bible contains what He had to say, then the only opinion that really matters is His-since He is Creator, Judge and Lord. It means some things are true whether we believe them or not.

Christianity is an evidential faith-it is based in history and is therefore, what scholars call "falsifiable." In other words, if the Bible reported to us that the sun revolves around the earth and the moon is made of cheese, we could declare it false. But, because it is scientifically, historically, geographically accurate, we have good reason to believe the parts that can't be proved. Can we prove there is a God? The deity of Christ? The existence of heaven and hell? No. But if we can show that the Bible is reliable when it talks about science, history, geography, etc. (the falsifiable matters) we can have great confidence that it is reliable when it comes to the greater, improvable matters. (continued)

shaunlepage 7 years, 5 months ago

Part 3 of 4 As I have examined that evidence, I have found the Bible to be accurate. Do you need a "scholar's" opinion? How about Dr. Nelson Glueck for example--probably the greatest modern authority on Israeli archeology? He said: "No archeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And, by the same token, proper evaluation of Biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries." Are there still questions; things we don't understand? Sure--it's 2,000+ years old. But none of the major teachings of the Bible is in question. So, you may ask, why do so many "scholars" reject the reliability of the Bible? I have examined their arguments and found them to be based on presuppositions and opinions. In other words, I think they rejected the Bible without honestly considering the evidence and they spend all their time trying to sound scholarly rather than dealing with facts. For example, the most famous collection of "scholars" related to the "Historical Jesus" discussion is the so-called "Jesus Seminar". Their arguments are based on the presupposition that miracles are impossible. And, they have chosen to reject what the first-century Christians called reliable (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) in favor of texts like The Gospel of Thomas, which was written much later by someone who never knew the apostles and could not have given eye-witness testimony to the life of Jesus as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John did. So please, take a look at the evidence for yourself. Don't base your opinion on the DaVinci Code or a PBS documentary. Try being fair and balanced. After you watch the PBS documentary, try reading a book or article by someone who presents the case for the trustworthiness of the Bible like "Reinventing Jesus" by scholars Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer and Daniel B. Wallace. Want something on-line? How about scholar Paul Copan's answer to the charge that "Jesus' Followers Fabricated the Stories and Sayings of Jesus" (http://www.paulcopan.com/articles/fabricated-stories.html)? How about scholar Gregory Koukl's article explaining why the conclusions of the "scholars" of the Jesus Seminar are not based on facts (http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5380)? I really dare you to read "Ancient Evidence for Jesus from Non-Christian Sources" by Michael Gleghorn (http://www.probe.org/reasons-to-believe/ancient-evidence-for-jesus-from-non-christian-sources.html). (continued)

shaunlepage 7 years, 5 months ago

Part 4 of 4 And there is so much more! Email me at shaun@community-bible.org or stop by Community Bible Church some time and I'll be happy to point you toward more or even loan you a book. Maybe we can go grab a beer and talk it over (I actually prefer Dr. Pepper).

Thanks for reading this far. I'll close with the speech of that so-called "small-minded:screwball"-the Apostle Paul-from Acts 17:22-34: "Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: 'To an Unknown God.' This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I'm telling you about. He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn't live in man-made temples, and human hands can't serve his needs-for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him-though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.' And since this is true, we shouldn't think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone. God overlooked people's ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead." When they heard Paul speak about the resurrection of the dead, some laughed in contempt, but others said, "We want to hear more about this later." That ended Paul's discussion with them, but some joined him and became believers:" The End

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 5 months ago

A man tells his psychiatrist "Doc, last night I dreamed I was a teepee."

"Hmmm. I see." said the doctor.

"And the night before that, I dreamed I was a circus big top."

"I see the problem. You're too tense."

average 7 years, 5 months ago

But the bible repeatedly reports to us that the sun revolves around the earth. "He established the earth upon its foundations, so that it will not totter, forever and ever." "The world is firmly established, it will not be moved." both from Psalms. "The sun rises and the sun sets; And hastening to its place it rises there again." from Ecclesiastes.

Let alone the scientific evidence for creation.

The bible is as true in details of geography and culture as is a Stephen King novel set in modern New England. So what? The Gitas and Koran are also accurate in those regards.

Letting yourself be hoist on the petard that "the bible is a fully accurate guide to science" is fundamentalism's undoing. It means most of your flocks' children will know you were obviously wrong when they look in a microscope or a telescope. Once they see that you were scientifically wrong, they also reject your moral authority which you have staked on that scientific literalism.

average 7 years, 5 months ago

Sorry, second paragraph I was meaning to say "scientific evidence for evolution". I suspect you know what I meant.

Linda Endicott 7 years, 4 months ago

Calliope, I don't think it takes a great stretch of the imagination to suppose that some of the archaeologists who have studied these sites go there with a preconceived notion that the Bible is just a great fairy tale.

I've seen numerous documentaries on TV about Biblical subjects and people, and even when they interview priests and other religious leaders, they will talk as if it's all legend and myth.

I don't really understand this. If they don't truly believe, or have faith, then why are they religious leaders? If they don't truly believe, then why are they telling others that they should believe?

As for the historical Jesus, and any inconsistencies and such...I never thought I'd see the day when the Holocaust was considered a myth, either...but now here we are...and that historic event wasn't even that long ago. Yet there are hordes of people now who staunchly deny that it ever happened at all, just because they weren't there and didn't witness it themselves. Doesn't matter that there are miles of film in existence from WWII, or still people alive who WERE there...

Corny as it sounds, I like to quote a line from Miracle on 34th St...."faith means believing in something even when common sense tells you not to".

How many people are even capable of that level of faith anymore? In anything?

And no, it doesn't make sense. Perhaps how you feel about your spouse doesn't make any sense to others, either...but it does to you.

Newell_Post 7 years, 4 months ago

Average has a very good point. The factual problems in the text of the Bible really do make it hard for lots of people in today's world to take that leap of faith. Here are my 3 takes on the Bible.

  1. The Bible is the inerrant word of God, and since God is perfect his word must be perfect, too.

I can't buy that one. There are too many direct factual contradictions and errors in the text. We don't need recapitulate all of them here.

  1. God is perfect and omnipotent and sent his son (who was also somehow himself) to spread the word, but it all got written down by mortal men who messed up the details a little in the retelling, but not enough to taint the basic message.

A little more credible maybe, but if he is perfect and omnipotent, ya think he could have looked over the shoulders of the guys doing the writing down of the most important document in the Universe just to edit the bugs out?

  1. Yeshua and other philosophers had the right ideas about how to live peacefully and cooperatively with other people, but didn't think anyone would buy it without the whole cosmic carrot-and-stick spin. So they wrote down some really good allegories and tales to help illustrate the points. Maybe God even really exists, but not exactly as described in these allegories.

Doesn't this really fit the observable facts best?

In the OT books of Joshua, Judges, etc. the Hebrews fell off the wagon about once per generation and started worshiping Baal and Ashtoreth and other contemptible deities, and God had to send someone to whup their fannies back in shape. (God had pretty much stopped showing up in person by this time.) It happened over, and over, and over again. At least that's the official story. Does THAT make any sense? If God just showed up in person about once per generation, just to show the flag (so to speak) for a few minutes this whole debate would never occur. He used to do it. He appeared in person to Adam and Eve. He appeared to Abraham. What are we? Chopped liver?

In he just showed up in person once in a very great while and told us clearly what he wanted us to do, everyone would do it immediately no questions asked instead of relying on senile old men reading from a flawed book written in dead languages.

shaunlepage 7 years, 4 months ago

Average: Go to weather.com. It'll give you the times for "sunrise" and "sunset." It's figurative language. A "literal" interpretation of the Bible allows for such metaphors and similies and symbolism, etc. What might my children look at in a microscope or telescope that will contradict the Bible. How about some examples?

Newell_Post: I'd appreciate it if you'd share with me a few of these "many direct factual contradictions and errors." You don't need to "recapitulate all of them here" for me. How about just a few?

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 4 months ago

Foolish is he who invokes "evidence" for his or her belief or faith. Particularly ridiculous is the notion that because the geography and history in the bible is sometimes correct, that it all must be. This is childish, grade-school thought.

The Godzilla movies had the geography of Japan correct, so let's just assume its all true.

Ah, but evidence-based thinking is also part of human nature, just as the need to believe in something intangible. Such a strong attraction from evidence. Pure faith alone does not even satisfy bald, white-guy fundies. They need evidence, proof, no matter how false or manufactured.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 4 months ago

So shaunlepage, what in the bible should be taken literally, and which is simile and symbolism? I would like a two-column list, simile/symbol in one and literal meaning in the other.

ndmoderate 7 years, 4 months ago

shaunlepage,

You've got a lot of guts to engage in a faith vs. facts debate here, and even though I don't agree with what you say, I admire you for standing up for what you believe.

shaunlepage 7 years, 4 months ago

Yourworstnightmare: If you think your personal attacks and insults will just make me quit commenting, you're probably right. I have better things to do than sit around and be insulted by someone who enjoys being a "nightmare" to everyone around him/her. I have no desire to continue to subject myself to your hateful words. With all due respect, that is more in line with what I remember from my "childish, grade school" days. I've been respectful to you and in return I get your intolerance and venum. I'm sorry you've obviously been hurt so badly that you can't even have a discussion with someone who disagrees with you. As far as the list of similes and symbolism, I could give you hundreds such as when Jesus said He was the "door" and the 'vine" and the "light of the world" and the "bread of life." When these are read in context, it becomes clear that He was not speaking in literal terms. If you really cared to hear me out (please convince me that you do), I'd love to show you how Jesus explains these symbols and the plain interpretation is that He was speaking symbolically. This is the way we read any other literature--this is not a new concept. If you said it was raining cats and dogs, we are all familiar enough with figurative language to know that you're not speaking literally, but saying that it is raining very hard. This is how humans communicate and since God spoke to us in human language, there are times when the Bible too speaks in such ways. Just please get past the idea that all Christians are stupid and brainwashed and secretly wanting to establish a theocracy. If I thought you really wanted to consider my ideas in an adult, college-like way, I'd give you hours of my time showing you reasonable explanations for why I believe what I believe. But it's late and I'm tired and you just want to be mean and argue. You have my pity. If you ever change your mind, you're welcome to visit our church and have an adult, friendly conversation with us. Agree or not, our church family will love you. We'd even serve you some coffee.

shaunlepage 7 years, 4 months ago

Thanks ndmoderate. I appreciate what you wrote. I don't have any dillusions that everyone is going to agree with me. I still like to believe we can have civil conversation even if we have to agree to disagree in the end. You're welcome at our church any time, too. I'd love to meet you.

shaunlepage 7 years, 4 months ago

Marion. The question of "why suffering?" is not an easy one. Some suffering serves a higher purpose. God's way of moving people out of their complacency and unbelief. Some suffering is judgment and also serves to wake people up. But those arguments don't seem to explain suffering children. Why doesn't God end all suffering? I can't tell you why. I won't pretend I have all the answers, but what I do know is this: The Bible tells us things aren't supposed to be this way and God will end suffering someday.

Just because we don't understand does not mean God is not all-powerful or not all-good. The classical Christian explanation is: God is all-powerful, so He is able to end evil. And, God is all-good, so He will end evil someday. This is what I believe.

The Old Testament character Job went through horrible suffering. He trusted God throughout that ordeal, but eventually began to question why these things were happening to him. He demanded that God show up and explain it to him. Chapter 38 says, "Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said: "Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand..." and He went on for a few chapters asking Job questions to show Job that His (God's) understanding was way beyond Job's understanding. After Job heard all this, we're told, "Then Job replied to the LORD: "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?' Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know."

God never told Job why he was suffering. But Job was content to know that God was God and Job was not. You probably won't be satisfied with this answer, but I ask you to at least think about it and--dare I say--pray about it. If God is real (as I believe He is) and He is the Creator and Lord and Judge of the universe (as the Bible says He is), then does He have to explain to us why He does what He does? If we don't understand His ways, does that mean He doesn't exist? If we think He is unjust, does that make it so? We've talked about "faith" here a lot. My faith is this: The Bible tells me that God is good. I can live by faith knowing only that. Even when the suffering and evil around me seems to contradict God's goodness (in my little finite mind), I stand on the belief that God is good and just and loving and merciful. He is God and I am not. Can you live with that? Are you willing to let Him be God and accept the idea that He has a much better perspective than you do? Are you willing to live with His promises that He will end evil and suffering someday? Can you agree with Job that we sometimes speak "of things (we d0) not understand, things too wonderful for (us) to know"?

Kodiac 7 years, 4 months ago

"If there is no eternity, then there is no value to human life, unborn or otherwise. If that puzzles you, think about it awhile." 75x55

Sorry 75, for me it is quite the opposite. If there is no eternity and this is the only shot you have, then life becomes the most meaningful. If that puzzles you, think about it awhile.

shaunlepage 7 years, 4 months ago

good grief, Marion. go rent a funny movie and lighten up. good night.

Newell_Post 7 years, 4 months ago

Shaunlepage:

Per your request, some direct factual contradictions:

  1. The ancestry of Jesus. Joseph was his earthly father. Matthew ways Joseph's father was Jacob. Luke says Heli. Matthew says Jesus descended from David's son Solomon. Luke says from David's son Nathan. The number of generations is completely different in both accounts. After 2,000 years, the priestly classes have come up with some fanciful excuses for these problems. In this case the usual excuse is that one lineage is actually for Joseph and the other for Mary, but that's not what the words say. And, if it was a virgin birth, who the heck cares who Joseph's ancestors were anyway?

  2. Jesus' final words. Matthew & Mark: ""Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"-which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Luke: "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." John: "It is finished."

  3. How did Judas die? Matthew: He threw the money into the temple and then went away and hanged himself. Acts: After he bought the field with the silver he received he fell headlong and burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out.

  4. How long was Jesus on Earth and how many times did his disciples see him before he ascended to Heaven? According to the oldest versions of Mark in the oldest Bibles they NEVER see him ever again. ("Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid." The oldest versions of Mark end at that point.) According to Matthew, the women see him once and the disciples see him as a group once, and then he is gone. According to John and Acts, he is around for 40 days, walks on water, preaches, heals, and does "other things too numerous to describe." This one isn't just a minor little thing. This goes to the very heart of the matter and the different versions present very different stories.

average 7 years, 4 months ago

I too want to thank Shaun for sticking around for a while.

As for science not being a benchmark for faith, there is no point in arguing. Any evidence that life or the cosmos are much, much older than your bible directly claims can easily be countered as "metaphor, simile, and symbolism". Of course, now you've opened to your children that anything in the bible... the creation, the existence of Jesus, the virgin birth, the resurrection... to the possibility of being "metaphor, simile, and symbolism". Which I agree with, but you have raised Unitarians or Congregationalists. If anything is a metaphor, it is easier to interpret every single 'miracle' as a metaphor. Or do you get to decide?

No one has answered why non-Semites should believe? Jesus did not come and dwell among my people. We know of him because some brutal enslavers said that we had to believe in him. Mind you, he did not dwell among them, directly, either. But if Jesus is "the way", obviously my peoples are meant to be serfs to others.

Thank you for the invitation to your church, but I get far more answers here since I would not be allowed to ask them or say anything at your church (1 Cor 14:34-35). If I would be allowed to ask you questions at your church, is 1st Corinthians metaphorical or just small-minded?

Kodiac 7 years, 4 months ago

Kind of late in the game but I found Shaun's reference to the book of Job to be quite curious. Shaun never says what the real reason was for Job's suffering as I find most Christians will avoid and dismiss as not being important to the story. I on the other hand find it to be a little distressing to find out that God is a gambling being. It was a wager between God and Satan that causes Job all of his grief. But Job is not supposed to question this and his love and faith to God must be unconditional. It reminds me of the scene out of Conan the B where the really evil guy says to Conan, you want to see power here let me show you. He signals to one of his followers who is standing on a cliff high above ground and says "Come". The unquestioning follower (vacant stare and all) steps toward the evil one and falls off the cliff to his death. To which the evil one replies, now that is power. God is shown to be on a power play here. Such a God in not worthy of my praise. I would rather spend an eternity in hell then to believe in a God that chooses to use his followers as such. Of course, since I don't believe in any of these myths, it becomes a mute point anyway.

The other thing that strikes as being somewhat confusing (and maybe Shaun can clear this up for me) is what meant by faith or trust here. You have the story of Job that shows him to be rewarded for his unconditional trust to God but does he choose his actions based on getting this reward? I have seen many of you on here tell us that if we don't repent and become born again, we will spend an eternity in hell. But the New Testament, makes it quite clear that there is no "chosen people" and that only a few will ascend to heaven even when there are many who are attempting to follow "the rules" so to speak and believe they have God's best interest in their hearts. God doesn't want you to live the good life (by his rules) because you think you are going to get rewarded for it. This is seen as being less than faith. Such the paradox is it not? You have to follow the rules and live the good life in order to get eternal life but you can't do this with the purpose of getting eternal life. I think it comes back to what 75x55 alludes to in his/her post regarding the meaning of life. Christians are so worried about their life having meaning that they have to assign some external value to their lives rather than find meaning within themselves.

"And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, Lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." Luke 17:20-21

Amen brother.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 4 months ago

shaunlepage,

Please, no one is buying your martyr act.

You continue to doge questions and answer in religious-speak, and when challenged you retreat and say "We still love you". Passive aggression at its finest.

You gave some examples of symbols in the bible. What are some things jesus said that were literally true? Did he truly rise from the dead? Did he truly conjure bread and wine from thin air? Was he truly born of a virgin? Did he truly battle with Satan in the desert?

If so, what is your evidence that these things happened?

Kodiac 7 years, 4 months ago

Hey, Kodie - ever consider that a 'necessary being' with all knowledge of past, present and future really isn't a 'gambler'? -- 75x55

Hey the perfect set-up. God makes a bet knowing full well that he will win every time. You have to wonder why Satan doesn't catch on to this. Makes you think, gee whiz, that Satan is really a dumbs***.

Well 75x55, there are several points of discussion here. Omniscience has its own problems that are fraught with incoherence and inconsistencies. For example, by definition, God cannot be a sinner since God is the one who makes the rules and is perfect, he cannot have anything to do with sin. Yet "knowing" what it is like to sin can only be obtained through the experience of sinning and since God cannot sin, he cannot experience it. Or how about free will? Do we really have free will if God already knows what we are going to do in the future? There is nothing we can do to change it because God already knows what we will do. It also makes you wonder why God would create human beings that he "knows" will fail. If you argue that we do have "free will", it means that we can make choices independent of God. This in itself is logically incoherent if God already "knows" what we will do. The other side of this coin would imply that God does not know what choice we will make which would make God not omniscient.

Other problems (especially with "knowing" past, present, and future) have to do with the idea of there being a higher consciousness. If God is a being who has awareness and the ability to discern between the object and a representation of the object, and the ability to apply concepts and form judgments, then that being must be able to grasp the difference between the self and not-self. This is the antithesis of an omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent being. A being is omnipresent when that being occupies or is present in all places, far or near, in all times, past, present, or future. There is nothing that is not-self for an omnipresent being by definition of omnipresence. So an omnipresent being cannot grasp a difference between the self and not-self. So in essence, God could not have any consciousness.

So much for having a personal relationship with a God huh.

I was thinking you and I aren't really that far apart in our beliefs. You just happen to believe in one more god than I do. If you can justify not believing in multiple gods, don't you think such justifications could be used to not believe in one god.

Hope you are having a great day 75....

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 4 months ago

shaunlepage will be back. He cannot stay away. He is an evangelical christian minister, and this forum represent too good a spot for proselytizing. Why, he has already invited people to speak in person and to come to his church twice now.

shaunlepage, I invite you to come and hang out in my circle. We can discuss religion, science, art, psychology, whatever.

75x55, you are not invited. You are too far gone to be reached.

Kodiac 7 years, 4 months ago

Hey YWN,

Am I invited?

I do agree with you that Shaun's response to your "hatefulness" was a huge copout. Who does he think he is? Shaun, do you really think that God allows you to pick and choose who you want to talk to about your faith. Sounds like to me you are going for "easy pickens". Seems a little anti-christian if you ask me and certainly a move that might anger your God. Don't you know, God sent YWN to you so you can save him.

"Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners? And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." [Luke 5:30-32]

purplesage 7 years, 4 months ago

The book of Job points out the limitations of theology. Every system of theology is a finite attempt to explain an Infinite Being. Hence, the limitation. There are mysteries we cannot fully explain. The question, ultimately, is that of our current relationship with God.

I don't know whether in eternity we will understand all things - or whether they simply won't matter. There are things in my experience, and in that of every person in the world, which are simply maddening. "Why?" will drive a person insane.

On the other subject, I'm sorry about Marion's pet. I don't know what else to say about that. It can turn one mad dealing with corruption and double standards in authority.

manyblessings 7 years, 4 months ago

Evil and sin abound in the world, but that is not a reason to forsake the Lord! It is a reason to cling to Him even more tightly. Sin was brought about by man's free will. If we didn't have free will our choice to love the Lord would mean nothing. Job's life was tested to show how much he truly loved the Lord and to be an example for the rest of us in hard times. You can argue and argue and find things to pick apart in the Bible for the rest of your life but it won't change who God is and how He has planned this world of His. If you just look at the world around you and notice how amazing the natural world truly is you cannot deny that it did not arise by chance or accident. God's design is incredible. We are not mistakes on this earth, we are here for a reason. You know, people may be able to come up with all sorts of "reasons" that they do not believe in God, but I can never deny Him because he changed my life with His amazing grace. I hate to think of where I would be today if I did not know the Lord (especially when I read this newspaper and see what has happened to so many people I once knew).

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 4 months ago

"You can argue and argue and find things to pick apart in the Bible for the rest of your life but it won't change who God is and how He has planned this world of His."

Ah, here is a healthy attitude. Don't question, don't think. Just accept the word of god. Fly airplanes into buildings, blow yourself up at a market.

manyblessings 7 years, 4 months ago

I don't think there is anything wrong with studying and questioning what you read in God's word and testing it to see if it holds true, but many people who criticize seem not to have actually read the Bible but have taken little bits and pieces here and there to condemn without taking them into context. Read it through a few times before knocking it. Try to understand the whole picture. Don't read with a "what can I find that is contradictory" attitude but a "could this be true? why or why not? " attitude and a prayer that if God really exists He will help you to understand. You may be surprised.

Newell_Post 7 years, 4 months ago

I choose to believe in God. I choose to disbelieve in organized religions that can't get their story straight.

Kodiac 7 years, 4 months ago

For 75x55,

Does is make you feel good to say "you're dismissed? Do you feel superior? Tsk tsk. Such a proud one you are 75....

How about these to support Logic's assumptions...

"And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, Lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." JC from Luke 17:20-21

'Whoever drinks from my mouth shall become as I and I shall become as he and hidden mysteries to him shall be revealed.' JC from the Gospel of Thomas

"Is it not written in your law, 'I have said you are gods' JC from the Gospel of John where he is quoting Psalms 82:6

The above statement from Psalms is followed be the statement of....

"You are all sons of the most high."

Interpretation... JC is saying not only is he God, everyone is God and also that everyone is the son or daughter of God.

I say the claim of "Jesus said that the key to holiness was within each of us and everywhere in the world-that no building or clergy was needed to connect with God". is well supported.

manyblessings 7 years, 4 months ago

"This is particularly funny as the Bible itself is made out of bits and pieces cobbled together over hundreds of years." Scenebooster

Actually thousands of years, and that is part of the reason it is so amazing. You have 66 different books written by about 40 different authors and they all point to the same God and tell the same flowing story of life on earth.

Kodiac 7 years, 4 months ago

75,

It surprises me that you have to ask for the reference in the Gospel of John. It is John 10: 34-39. Jesus is referencing Psalm 82.6 here in response to the Jews charge of blasphemy for claiming he and the father are one. Jesus references a verse that implies that the Father has made Jesus himself a God just as that those who receive the Word will also become sons of God and thus equal to the Father. The interpretation being that Jesus is insisting that not only is He a god in the sense of the Psalm, but also that others are as well who have received the Word.

I referred to the Gospel of Thomas on purpose because I knew you would dismiss it as not being relevant. Even more to the point, I see that Many Blessings ironically points out the homogeneity of all of the different books in biblical text (though I disagree even with this interpretation) without realizing what Scene was actually trying to convey. The Gospels of Thomas, the Gospel of Nicodemus, the Acts of Peter, the Acts of Paul and a dozen other books were included in a document known as the Bible after 1 AD and before 404 AD. In 404 AD these books were simply cut out of the Bible because they contained teachings that were contrary to Christian theology of that time. One of the oldest existing Bibles, The Codex Sinaiticus, includes the Epistle of Barnabas, a book that is not included in the modern Bible.

I think your interpretation of the Luke reference confirms the idea that holiness is within the person which is what LS4 says in his quote. For some reason you chose to compare it to Psalm 82 which is puzzling, irrelevant, and misses the point. I only bring the verses up in the context of the statement LS4 made, not that they need to be compared directly to each other. I think they implicitly support the idea that we don't need anyone or anything to connect to God.

Kodiac 7 years, 4 months ago

"Pride, K? No, merely an observation that there is no engagement by the person proposing a nonsensical interpretation of scripture. Nice try though." -- 75x55

Merely an observation? Nonsensical interpretation? No matter how much you wish to deny it 75, every judgement you make is about your pride. Au contraire 75, I consider you to be one of the most prideful persons I know...

Your "Silversmith" Buddy Kodiac

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 4 months ago

In over your prideful head again I see, 4125:

"If you don't wish to, or don't allow yourself to be limited by any authority, that is your prerogative. I find it to be an invalid position, hence one that is dismissed from my pursuit."

How convenient for you. When those with detailed knowledge of scripture debate with you and disagree with you, this is your response? This only proves that your position is indefensible.

"And to say "simply cut out" is highly presumptuous and leads the reader to assume that these texts were not analyzed, pored and agonized over by far more devoted and learned men than ourselves, for years, sometimes decades."

You seem to assume they were. Do you have any evidence for this? Is there any historical record of how the 300-400-year-old books chronicling the life and words of jesus were edited? Is there any theological reason or other reason underlying why certain "apocrypha" were so defined?

Kodiac 7 years, 4 months ago

"Never pays to assume what piece anyone is actual referring to - it leads to all kinds of misunderstandings" -- 75

Yes indeed 75. Perhaps your response of "you're dismissed" would have been better suited with "I find it to be an invalid position, hence one that is dismissed from my pursuit." A much less prideful statement wouldn't you agree?

"that these texts were not analyzed, pored and agonized over by far more devoted and learned men than ourselves, for years, sometimes decades." -- 75

Again, it isn't a matter of what is actually right or wrong, only what YOU think is right or wrong.

Kodiac 7 years, 4 months ago

"which is (at the core) an issue of belief vs. unbelief. "- 75

or an issue of my belief vs your belief....

Newell_Post 7 years, 4 months ago

I think the story of the clay birds is from the Gospel of Nicodemus, one of the ones that "got left on the cutting room floor." I think it may have also been picked up in the Koran somewhere. It may have also crept into other early documents....

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 4 months ago

"It may have also crept into other early documents:."

And into Bob Marley songs...

Newell_Post 7 years, 4 months ago

"Infancy Gospel of Thomas." Didn't make the cut.

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