I believe that while much of contemporary American Christendom is plagued by false doctrine, non-Biblical teaching, and often downright goofy unChristian 'Christianity', we CAN understand what the Bible presents as the truth and that church history provides us insight into what can be called 'regular, normal Christianity.
Much of what denominations promote is created through reactions of the error of some.
Actually Large church organizations have created more damaging errors than the small organization charlatans that they criticize. Much of what is considered doctrine are just rationalizations of a particular denominations view of the bible. It’s often a matter of power, especially in larger organizations.
I’m not sure normal Christianity is supported by true church history. History has shown that majorities are often wrong and a reformer has to come along to correct the error. Although I would say on a whole for those who take the Bible seriously, there is common agreement on the essential doctrines of Christ.
False doctrine in my opinion is usually promulgated by either fear of error, desire for power or fleshly charlatan’s trying to justify their sin with erroneous doctrine. Although I feel the charlatans do little damage compared to the two other camps.
The promotion of higher learning and education over character has created an imbalance that promotes error. While I believe in the value of scholarly attainment, a firsthand knowledge of the God of the word trumps those who claim to be experts on the word of God through diligent study.
Others claim that miracles have ceased based on thin evidence and rationalizations to support denominational doctrines. The motivations often originated with well-meaning reactions to the excesses of some fringe group or the desire to keep their hold of power within there organization.
I don't know that I disagree with anything you've said. When I use the term "normal Christianity" I'm not speaking of whatever majority group or idea happens to dominate any particular era - I'm thinking of that continuity of essential Bible-based ideas that, while they may (and do) mature as more men embrace and so promote them generation after generation, remains from age to age the hope and the path of those filled with God's own Spirit and desiring to serve Him and necessarily to advance some particular scheme or denomination. That "normal Christianity" I believe is "supported by true church history" .
I wholeheartedly agree! Thanx for your wise comments and insights.
. . . of course, when I typed ". . . those filled with God's own Spirit and desiring to serve Him and necessarily to advance some particular scheme or denomination" I intended to type ". . . those filled with God's own Spirit and desiring to serve Him and NOT necessarily to advance some particular scheme or denomination"
Even from the very start of Christainity, people interpreted Jesus in their own ways. This interpretation varied from church to church. And it continues to this day. If one follows the Pauline letters interpretation of Jesus, then we have one path. If one follows the Gospels, we have another. The only book written that might have been from an eye witness/friend of Jesus himself, would be the Gospel of Thomas (which is nothing but the sayings of Jesus) and that book never made it into the bible.
The Pauline letters were written from around 50-62 CE and he even says that he never met the "Christ", He based his writings and beliefs from the OT and enlightenment from the "Risen Christ". The Gospels came along after that time.
Mark- 66-70 CE
Matthew- 80-85 CE
Luke/Acts- 85-90 CE
John- 90-95 CE
The rest of the NT was written between 85-150 CE
Most people of this time, didn't have personal copies of the "scriptures" (Septuagint) and relied on what was taught in "church". And even those that did have the "scriptures" many did not have a complete set or version. So that lead to differing views as well. It wasn't until much later the text that would become the NT, was put together for the churches to use. (many more texts than the 27 books we use today) The 27 books we use today, started it's formation(a list in an Easter Letter) around 367 CE by Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria.
Much of your recounting of the historic record, the dates of the Pauline letters and the gospels, the availability of the Septuagint, Athanasius' recognition of the same NT as we have today, etc, is, as I say, a recounting of the historic record. However your assertion that the NT gospels and Paul's letters present different ideas and that the Gnostic literature is more first-hand and so reliable than the received texts is assumption, and is and ancient and, I think, lame argument.
I agree that, from the beginning, there have always been those who 'interpret' and teach ideas discordant from the orthodox faith - but it is precisely the 'orthodox' faith because, while the great variety of external, and too often internal, false notions come and go there is always the steady strain of Bible-based teaching. My impression, and I count it only as my own impression, is that particularly those folks who resist orthodoxy and the historic continuity and prefer to romanticize about Gnostic mystics who were excluded from the text of Scripture and whose teaching was rebukes, that these folks simply prefer just about anything to the historic Jesus and the authentic Christian message . . . it's kind of like today's conspiracy theories - if that's what you start-out looking for and desire to find, there's no doubt you will find just what you're looking for.
The point I was trying to make (and what is taught in schools), is that not everyone had access to the bible as we do today. And by such each church has its own beliefs or interpretation of who Jesus was. And the fact that the first sacred scripture did not all agree completely, is back up by the fact that out of the many texts that we have that have been at one time or another part of the NT, only 27 were chosen to be the canon we use today. Did you know the other than the Pauline letters and the 4 Gospels, much of the rest of the NT was not even considered part of the bible until many years later. This is not my arguement or my opinion. This is what is taught in schools in the religion, biblical theology courses.
As the NT church began, the concern wasn't that not every congregation had a Bible, the fact is the NT had not yet been completed. This was called The Apostolic Period - the apostles were those few men chosen directly by God Himself to proclaim His truth, it was they, the apostles, who taught with authority. Once the NT was completed The Apostolic Period came to an end, there are no more apostles, no more men teaching with divine authority - now we have the Bible. In that 1st century, different congregations did not believe the teaching differently, they simply were not all sufficiently taught . . . the NT letter to the Galatians was Paul's letter to the church in Galatia correcting their error regarding the law and grace, NT letter to the Ephesians was his letter to the church in Ephesus further instructing them regarding the deity of Jesus, etc, etc. Once the NT was completed there was an authoritative rule, the divine revelation of truth, and those holding beliefs and conducting practicing contrary to the Scripture were recognized as unorthodox.
You say only 27 books out of many texts that were previously part of the NT were eventually chosen - this simply is not historically accurate. There were and still are many other writings besides the 27 texts of the NT, but they were never commonly recognized as Scripture, they were not part of some earlier version of the NT. The Gospel of Thomas, Bel & the Dragon, The Letter of Jeremiah, etc, etc, are all early religious texts, but they were never commonly counted as part of the NT.
I would encourage you to read my current hub entry, it deals directly with this matter.
Mickey, I hold a PHD in Biblical Studies...So let me give you a few examples...
The Muratorian Canon from the late 2nd to early 3rd century included the following 24 books:
The 4 Gospels
The 13 Pauline letters (but not Hebrews)
John 1 and 2 (but not 3)
The Wisdom of Solomon
the Apocalypse of Peter
The Codex Claromontanus from the 6th century included such books as the Epistle of Barnabas, the Shepard of Hermas, the Acts of Paul, and the Apocalypse of Peter.
The Codex Sinaiticus from the 4th century contains all 27 books plus Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepard of Hermas.
And in the 5th century we have the Codex Alexandrinus which included 1st and 2nd Clement as part of the text.
At the end of the 2nd century, most churches agreed on the Pauline letters and the four Gospels and Acts as canon, it wasn't until 200-300 years later that the other books of the NT were finally generally accepted as part of the canon of the NT.
Writing in the 4th century, church historian Eusebius noted that, even after Christianity had become legally validated by the Roman government, the NT canon was still not a fixed work. It was divided into three categories: the 21 acknowledged works, including the Gospels, Acts, Paul's letters and some of the Catholic Epistles. The "disputed" books, accepted by some churches and not others, Revelations, James, Jude, 2 Peter, and 2 and 3 John. And last, five other books which didn't make the final cut: The Acts of Paul, Shepard of Hermas, Apocalypse of Peter, Epistle of Barnabas and the Didache (a book of Christina rituals and moral teachings). Eusebius's "rejected" books are the Gospels ascribed to Peter, Thomas, and Mathias and the acts attributed to Andrew, John and the other apostles.
Today there are many compilations of books that did not get included into the NT. Having read some of these other writings, it is understandable why they did not get included; they significantly differ in some way to the central doctrines of the Church at the time.
However, I think it erroneous to consider any NT writing as scripture. The Hebrew scriptures are just that; God Himself rubber stamped them throughout with such phrases as "The Lord says....". But the NT testament writings do not of themselves profess to be the Word of God. It is only by various 2nd - 4th Century committees that certain writings were called scripture, and others not, and woe betide anyone who questions the supposed authority of the Church.
The Gospels are useful because they provide a record of the things Yashua said an did. However the fact that when comparing different gospels, the words 'spoken' are slightly different, tells us that what is written is from memory, and not verbatim. The letters of Paul are useful for teaching too, but we do not have to agree with every word Paul stated, just as we do not have to agree with everything spoken in Church.
It is up to us ourselves to read all available writings and separate the wheat from the chaff and to discuss/argue various points with each other. Yahshua Himself also promised us that "They shall all be taught of God. So then everyone who hears and learns from the Father comes to Me" John 6:45
I'm not arguing with the dates and occurrences you reference from the historic record - as a high school dropout it would foolish for me to do so with a person who has earned a PhD. However, it would likewise be foolish for me to dismiss what I've learned from my own investigation and study. My point here is that many people do not properly read history, they do not examine the first-hand accounts and consider the circumstances under which the historic event took place - instead, many pick-up what another who they already agree with tells them happened. What I'm asserting here on this matter of the writing of the original autographs and the formation of the canon is that it follow the course that it followed . . . there didn't use to be a Bible different from ours or several Bibles all different from each other, and eventually some individual or committee decided the real Bible should be 'this' and that is how we got our Bible - that simply is not how it happened.
The ancient church councils didn't add and subtract books and issue forth what they concocted as the Bible, as THE Bible. Rather they publicly and 'officially' endorsed what had already been accepted as Scripture by the multitude of congregations of Christians. There were always, and still are, some who want to insert 'this' book and/or remove 'that' book, or teach 'this' doctrine and not teach 'that' doctrine, etc - but authentic orthodoxy in church history has been by common consensus and perpetual agreement, not by overbearing individuals or movements nor by hierarchical pronouncements.
Please provide evidence, because you seem to be lying.
How did it "happen"? LOLOLOLOL
I am not saying this to sound mean or to insult...But you might want to double check your research. It wasn't until late in the 4th or early 5th century that "the Church" (Catholic) determined the bible as we see it today. From the mid to late 1st century, there were many "sacred books" floating around and various ones were used by the different churches. We have no original documents, we only have copies of the original documents. The oldest document we have (to date) is from the 4th century. Yale University has video of the complete courses taught on both the old and new testament for free.
It is known from documentation that the early churches (from the 1st-the 4th century) used sacred texts that they had available or what they deemed as truth. And as I mention and showed in my last post that while some of the documents were the same, there were variances as well, depending on the church.
According to the majority of today's Theological Scholars, who have studied and researched these topics, using ancient and historical documentation, archeology and various other methods for many, many years, hold that what you have stated above is not correct or accurate.
You can disagree with me as much as you wish, but that doesn't change the fact that the biggest majority of Scholars agree with what I have stated, while none, that I am aware of, agree with your position.
Perhaps we ought best count this as seeing things differently, even though we are dealing with historic facts, they are ancient facts that we do appear to collect and order and interpret to a different conclusion. You talk about the role of the Catholic Church in the 4th or early 5th century - I don't even see, historically & theologically, that there was a Roman Catholic Church in the 4th or 5th century. You seem to to follow a course that reckons that the official published documents of the various church councils tells the story of how and when the canon was constructed - I assert that the official published documents of the various church councils report on the official approval of the canon as the canon from what was already counted to be the canon by general church consensus. Again, if you refer to the first-hand documents of the day . . . I have on my shelves letters, sermons, commentaries, etc, by 1st, 2nd, etc, century Christians quoting from what they counted to be Scripture, and what they quote is not only from the books we today recognize as Scripture, but their quotes are quoting the same text as the text we have in our modern, English translations, of Scripture.
Again, I don't argue with any dates or occurrences you reference from the historic record - I'm saying that, when I move from the history books and read the actual documents of that day, my own impression is that, while there have always been some who made noises from the fringe, there has always been a broad consensus that the books we today count to be Scripture and the books we do not count to be Scripture were then counted to be Scripture and not counted to be Scripture . . . and I am not just being a private little goofball - there are many scholars and theologians who advance the same. As I say, I can read these early documents, including but also besides those issued by the church councils, for myself, I'm not just imagining or making this up.
We either are seeing things differently, or we are debating completely different points maybe.
Maybe I am not understanding the original question correctly then.
I have based my side, from formal instruction as well as copies of the documents in question in the original languages.
So I suppose we will just have to agree to disagree concerning this matter.
At any rate, I appreciate your civil approach . . . as for me, it is not difficult for me to enjoy a fondness for others, even if we see things differently. Thanks for the pleasant back-and-forth.
Very nice discussion I agree. Rare sometimes on these forums. I enjoyed it as well.
Have you studied anything about Jerome and the origins of the Vulgate and it's impact on the "modern" bible?
I did, decades ago. With the number of modern textual discoveries it seems to me following the trail from generation to generation of how the Scripture was handled, and handed down, is not so telling as one might think or as perhaps it was at one time - we now have more ancient manuscripts then previous generations had, and they demonstrate that the text of our English translation is essentially identical to the ancient texts that predate much of the generation to generation trail many are certain must have corrupted what we have today.
But we have no original documents. All of the historical documents we have are copies. We can not be completely sure that what we have, is in fact, exactly the same as what was originally written by the authors. Based on the about 5700 transcript copies of the NT we do have, they for the most part match, but not perfectly. Slight mistakes in handwriting, or a variance in word usage. But based on the fact that they match for the most part, the majority feel that the manuscripts we have are reliable enough copies of the originals. There are still some who feel, that what we have is off just enough and is dated from a time (known to modify text to meet beliefs), that they cannot make the claim the texts are reliable to the originals.
I will just say that everyone should know that the Catholic church has spent centuries collecting all of the ancient documents as was possible.
To say that there isn't any ??? is not correct.
Everything that you and I would like to know is locked up in the vatican library.
There is no original documents...As in from the author himself. Everything we have is copies of the originals. Maybe even copies of the copies. And that is a proven documented fact. The earliest (oldest) documents we have are fragmentary transcripts from about 200CE. With a scrap from the Book of John containing 4 verses from about 125CE, 25-30 years after it was written. The majority these types of early manuscripts survive in small fragments and were all found in Egypt. The oldest extant copies of the NT as a whole, the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, were complied in the 4th century. These were written on parchment instead of papyrus.
I understand we have no extant manuscripts, of the original texts written by the author's hand, of the Bible - I am not asserting that ,or relying on as 'proof', that we do. I'm saying that, what I count to be a reasonable assessment of the multitude of ancient texts (both Scripture text itself and church father's writings) that we do have, demonstrate a reliability in the Bible that we have today as what was originally written is soundly warranted. When we have a multitude of (admittedly) copies of sermons & letters, etc, extant from the 3rd, 5th, etc, centuries that quote Scripture that is concordant to what we today have in our English translations, and then discover in 19th & 20th, etc, centuries ancient documents that substantiate the 3rd, 5th, etc, century texts, and so again are concordant with our contemporary copies of copies, etc, Bibles, that, to me, is striking evidence of the reliability that the Bible we have today is what was originally written.
I agree that the reliablity of the bible is accurate as humanly possible. But there is still the human error factor. Not to mention, that it was common practice in those days to "harmonize" texts to allow them to blend more agreeably. Did this happen? who knows for sure. As Christianity was a new thing and had it's share of acceptance and non-acceptance from those in power. We cannot ever be completely sure of anything pre-dating the 4th century. And the validity of interpretation steming from those in power, who were attempting to create something that they wanted and destroying anything they could find that didn't agree with their teachings. We may never know what the actual original documents said for sure.
There were things that I discovered when researching my doctorate dissertation, that I was hardpressed to defend. Simply because there was not enough solid proof and nothing to compare it against to confirm there was agreement in the time period of the findings.
And seeing as it is the winners who write history...Well, there are somethings we might never find an answer to.
Some Christians,and rightly so, are burdened by false doctrine, authentic Christianity etc. If you can't communicate with people to where they respect you enough to listen to you then you have a problem. It's called American Christianity. People learn all types of doctrines. Doctrine is important. Back in the 1920's in China There was a Christian bible school where new believers were eager to learn about the Bible. When they go to the school they were surprised to find out that the first thing that they learned was't bible doctrine but how to communicate with people. The name of the founder of this Bible college was Watchman Nee.The greatest Chinese evangelist that that time.
"Normal Christianity" would in fact be a removal of instructions from all books, including the complied texts -in which ever translation- deemed biblical. The word itself practically demands this: meaning christ or anointing. And true anointing can only come from an altruistic heart, mind and body. Else, it is just pretend.
Actually, 'normal' means "according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule, or principle" and as I'm using it, I am attaching it to Scripture and the historic orthodox understanding of the Scripture to be the 'norm' . . . here, and on my hub, I'm asserting that 'regular, normal Christianity' is that teaching and practice of Christianity that is in accord with what the Bible presents as the truth and what the historic Christian church has understood the Bible to present as the truth.
Now, when you say "true anointing can only come from an altruistic heart, mind and body" that seems to me to suggest that God anoints those He recognizes worthy of His anointing, which is, of course, the very opposite of what authentic Christianity teaches. I, personally, would instead say 'true anointing can only come from God's own determination to anoint and, based solely on the merits of Jesus' atonement, can only be received as a free gift by a repentant heart.'
Interesting theory, however; the church would be the body that encompasses over thirty thousand sects with even more interpretations. Which portion of the church? The 2.9% that are pentecostal? The Catholic church? The evangelicals? The moderates or the literalists?
More than likely, you'll assume it's the one you are following. As does everyone else. So no. Your theory is tragically flawed.
I don't personally count comments above to be a "theory" so much as a recognition of what is observable and demonstrable - but, that kind of gets to your point, doesn't it. We certainly all are most immediately, and convincingly, informed by our own perceptions, but there are, on this matter, some objective facts to consider.
I don't promote a particular historic strain of Christianity because it happens to be the one I'm personally invested in - I am invested in the particular historic strain of Christianity that I observe to be the most Biblical, original, and ongoing historic strain of Christianity.
With some 'strains' we can actually point to the individual and the date that they came to be. With some we can recognize the increasing deviation from the historic faith. And with some we can observe the return to some non or extra Biblical teaching from an earlier age. However, there are many today, and who have always been, who still believe essentially the same teaching the earliest documents of the Christian faith present as the truth.
And, I simply do not at all agree with the popular notion that anyone can make the Bible appear to say whatever they want it to say - the Bible is a book, with pages and words, and it says what it says and does not say what it does not say, and it is discernible to the honest Spirit-filled reader what it presents as the truth . . . when a group comes along and asserts that 'true Christianity' teaches that Jesus and Satan are brothers, that God is your magic buddy who wants to shower you with material wealth, that there is any mediator between God and man besides Jesus, etc, etc, it can be demonstrated from Scripture that these are not God's truths but religious schemes concocted by men.
If we can't actually know the truth, if God has provided us no revelation of His truth and given us no capacity to recognize and understand His truth, then, what's the point?
What's the point? The point is the search, in my opinion. I think there is revelation in parts of it, as there is some revelation in other religions. I think there are some self serving inclusions by men, as in other religions. I do agree on one point, although you might not see it as agreement. I think if your heart is in the right place you will find the good within any religious text and incorporate it into your life view.
The problem with organized religion is it makes you swallow what you know in your heart to be wrong because the church insists on it and after a while, you can't see it as wrong anymore. Power corrupts. Christianity has suffered two thousand years of corruption. The powers that be within it are no longer to be trusted.
We see things a bit differently. I believe there is an objective, real truth and while the search itself is part of the process of embracing that truth, there is an end, a consequence that is 'the point'.
I believe 'religion' and 'revelation' represent two antagonistic circumstances; religion is man's attempt to discover and appease God - revelation is God unveiling eternal truth to man. If you read my profile account you'll see I was not raised a Christian and no one proselytized me - I was interested to see what all religions presented in their teaching and I found that all religions present essentially the same basic ideas about God and man, etc - the Bible alone presented a fully unique, and exactly contrary, idea from the variety of religions man has concocted.
While I agree that many people swallow whatever organized religion they happen to be attached to or romantically pursue calls them to shallow, I disagree that 'organized religion makes you swallow' anything . . . religious beliefs and association is voluntary and no one has to believe or practice what a religious leader or creed instructs them to believe and practice (of course there are, and have been, cultures where folks were compelled, etc, but I am speaking to you about our contemporary American experience).
As you speak of "if your heart is in the right place" and "what you know in your heart" I, again, think we simply see things very differently . . . I imagine (and I recognize I do not know) that you evaluate and assign legitimacy to spiritual ideas as your feelings inside inform you - I have come to trust that the Bible is God's own revelation of eternal truth and I assign legitimacy to those ideas I find presented in it.
I detest religion, I follow no religious leader and do not adopt the teaching of any religious group - the Bible tells me that God has provided a means by which we can know Him and fellowship with Him, and that those who God adopts to be His own, through the atonement of Jesus of Nazareth, He fills with His own Spirit and they need not that any man teach them . . . I do not subordinate myself to any assumed 'power' within Christendom, I voluntarily fellowship with spirit-filled believers and trust the word of God alone as the only source of authoritative truth.
That might be true of a person that calls themselves Christian that does not associate with any given sect, but it does not hold true for church goers. Not by my observation.
So, you do not allow for others to be (as you put it) 'filled with the spirit', unless that filling agrees with your take on things. Sounds like a power grab to me.
And yet, just a few sentences earlier you were telling me what I should think and that I should trust the revelation as you have seen it. Sounds vaguely like the way a church insists that everyone in their congregation toe the line. I don't have to follow a particular sect's creed; just yours?
I find it odd that you disagree and then argue some of the same points I made previously.
You appear to follow your heart, the only difference is you expect others to follow your heart too. Spirituality doesn't work that way. Organized religion does, which is why it is wrong.
It seems to me that your are approaching me, not taking me as I present myself to be, but you are dealing with your own assumptions and not with me at all. Please show me where I am "telling me (you) what I (you) should think" and when I declared that "you (I) expect others to follow your (my) heart too"? And, to assert that not subordinating yourself to assumed 'powers' within Christendom, but rather voluntarily fellowshipping with spirit-filled believers and trusting the word of God alone as the only source of authoritative truth "does not hold true for church goers" is a giant, sweeping, blanket accusation. I have been involved with local congregations of believers who did not subordinate themselves to assumed 'powers' within Christendom, but rather voluntarily fellowshipped with spirit-filled believers and trusted the word of God alone as the only source of authoritative truth - because it's not your guess that such a thing is possible from your own personal observation and private interpretation certainly doesn't make it so.
Emile, the very faults you charge me with you are practicing here - you said "the point is the search" but you invalidate my search without even knowing me or havening any familiarity with my experience, you say "there is revelation in parts of it" but I guess it's you who gets to determine for me and the rest of us which parts are legitimate revelation, and you announce the problem with "organized religion is it makes you swallow what you know in your heart to be wrong" . . . whatever your (Romanism?) experience may have been again that is a rather is a giant, sweeping, blanket accusation.
Emile, it seems to me that our discussion has a combative tone that I have no interest to maintain - I wasn't telling you what you should think any more than you were telling me what I should, I thought we were both sharing our own understand . . . my impression (and I could easily be wrong) is that you feel an openness to any religious notion one might have, except the orthodox Christian faith based on the Bible, and that you have registered me as 'one of those types' without really knowing me at all.
As I said, please show me where I am "telling me (you) what I (you) should think" and when I declared that "you (I) expect others to follow your (my) heart too"?
You said I have come to trust that the Bible is God's own revelation of eternal truth and I assign legitimacy to those ideas I find presented in it.
This is your attempt to negate my statement, while validating it; but only for yourself. You are 'seeing' eternal truths that you decide to assign legitimacy too. You choose which you decide to assign legitimacy to and you are arguing that this is 'Christianity'. Your truth. As long as you argue the point, you are attempting to make me see your truth. You are attempting to give your ideas legitimacy by falling back and saying your opinion becomes truth because it is how you interpret the Word of God. This is no different than if I was sitting in a pew of a church. You are, in essence, another sect of Christianity.
Those who listen to you and accept your argument are then following 'your truth'. Your interpretation of the text. It is the same within any sect. They follow what others have decided the Bible says.
You are arguing from personal experience and observation, yet you chastise me for doing the same? Am I to accept your word for it and turn a blind eye to my own experience? I'm not religious. I don't follow blindly.
I do not invalidate your search in any way but to tell you it is your search. And yours alone. It becomes a problem when you start using words like universal. That immediately says that you have decided what you think others should think. What others should believe. The use of that word steps on everyone's toes that doesn't agree with you.
You asked a question and I answered it. Yes, I do think there are parts that are revelation and parts that aren't. Do we have to agree? No. That doesn't negate your belief. It is a difference of opinion. But it is something that believers can't understand because they believe their opinion is God. It isn't. It is an opinion.
As to where I said you are attempting to tell me what to think, I refer you again to the top of this post. By arguing that your interpretation is God's revelation is saying that to not agree with you is going against the Word of God and calling it eternal truth says, in essence, that what I believe is a lie. It isn't. It's my opinion. Just as yours is.
You stated that I was attempting to tell you what you should think, and I asked you where I have done this - you answered "As to where I said you are attempting to tell me what to think, I refer you to and then you quoted me saying "I imagine (and I recognize I do not know) that you evaluate and assign legitimacy to spiritual ideas as your feelings inside inform you - I have come to trust that the Bible is God's own revelation of eternal truth and I assign legitimacy to those ideas I find presented in it" - Emile, when I said that I assign legitimacy to the Bible, I was clearly not asserting that I myself have some authority to assign such legitimacy for others, I was saying that you base what you count to be legitimate on one thing and I base what I count to be legitimate on another. I do not see anywhere in our chat here where I have attempted to tell you what to think, or suggested that you you think more like me..
You then say "I do not invalidate your search in any way but to tell you it is your search. And yours alone. It becomes a problem when you start using words like universal." again, please show me where and how I used the word "universal" . . ? Emile, I think you have some well defined and rigid view of anyone who identifies himself to be a Christian, and you simply cannot conceive that I am not just like what you assume me to be - you are battling me on points I am not battling over. I am not telling you what you should think, I am not telling you that you should think more like me, and I am not saying or suggesting that whatever conclusion I come to hold is some objective and universal truth for everybody else. You are swatting at your own assumptions about what Christians must certainly be like.
Show me where and how I used the word "universal".
You are correct. I assumed the word universal. However, when I suggested that your OP was your theory, you attempted to correct me that this was actually fact by stating that it was a recognition of what is observable and demonstrable. You then go on to share what your perception of Christianity is and argue that the spirit filled believer can see what you see. This says to me that you are claiming your truth as universal and any opposing argument blind to the truth.
Then you say I believe there is an objective, real truth and while the search itself is part of the process of embracing that truth,
Is that not an argument that there is one truth? Would not one truth be universal?
You also state I have come to trust that the Bible is God's own revelation of eternal truth and I assign legitimacy to those ideas
Would not the ideas you assign as God's revelation of eternal truth equate to your expectations of what truth should be defined as by others?
I was the first to use the word universal, but I think you introduced the concept into the dialogue.
So, essentially, you are telling me that no matter what I actually say, we all know that you must be the open and fair-minded one because you are the multi-path one and I must be the narrow and arrogant one because I am the Christian?
You complain because I say "I believe there is an objective, real truth and while the search itself is part of the process of embracing that truth" asserting "Is that not an argument that there is one truth?" - it's an expression of what I believe, that, could easily and rightly be taken as an argument that there is one truth, but, if that is the thing that I believe (instead of believing as you do) am I not then permitted to share it? I didn't declare 'THERE IS only one truth', I said "I BELIEVE there is an objective, real truth . . . am I not permitted to share what it is I believe to be the truth because it is 'that' belief? You get to say what it is you believe . . . or, is it reasonable to assume, to just insert into my comments that am, in sharing my own beliefs, wanting or trying to force others to adopt my own beliefs as theirs?
You then complain that when I share "I have come to trust that the Bible is God's own revelation of eternal truth and I assign legitimacy to those ideas " that I am expecting others to define their own ideas of truth according to what I've come to define my own by . . . look, in context, at what I said ~
"I imagine (and I recognize I do not know) that you evaluate and assign legitimacy to spiritual ideas as your feelings inside inform you - I have come to trust that the Bible is God's own revelation of eternal truth and I assign legitimacy to those ideas I find presented in it.
I was clearly not announcing what everyone else ought to believe, I was simply sharing my own beliefs, saying that while you believe 'thus' I believe 'so'. And, does "I imagine" and "I recognize I do not know" and "I have come to trust" and "ideas I find presented in it" sound to you like someone asserting what everyone ought to believe or like someone sharing what they personally believe?
You, on the other hand, started our whole discussions declaring "Your theory is tragically flawed" - not 'it seems to me' or I believe', etc, but basically simply announcing 'you are wrong' - yet I'm the one telling others they are wrong and I am right?! Then you say "Do we have to agree? No. That doesn't negate your belief. It is a difference of opinion." ok, fine, but then you add "But it is something that believers can't understand", who is the one here demonstrating bias and an arrogant assumption of what others believe and should believe? And again "The problem with organized religion is it makes you swallow what you know in your heart to be wrong", not 'I think' or I believe' or 'it seems to me', etc, just a flat declaration that others are wrong and you are right. And again "Organized religion does, which is why it is wrong." . . . c'mon Emile, just because you believe there is some truth in all paths doesn't mean whatever you think and say about truth or religion or people's beliefs is automatically more open and humble than what a Christian might think or say because he believes there is a single truth. Look at our back-and-forth here, I am not the one announcing who is wrong you are, I am saying 'I believe' and 'it seems to me', etc, while you say 'it is' and 'it is not' - how do I come out the one who is declaring what others should be thinking?!
Look, I'm not interested to bicker, i hope we can get past this and become great pals . . . so let me be clear and direct about this whole matter ~
I have come, through private meditation, study, and life experience, to hold certain things to be true - and, I believe what I believe to be the truth is indeed the truth, or I would be a fool to believe it. I reckon that just about everybody else has, from whatever course they followed, come to believe certain things to be the truth as well, and I have no problem with that. I respect all and I believe I can learn from all . . . and I believe the first steps in learning is to share your own understanding with others as they share their own understanding with you. I don't at all expect or desire that when others hear what it is I believe they will stop believing what they believe and start believing what I believe . . . I have 6 children, and just about the most important issue in how we raised them was that they not merely adopt or appropriate what I believe but that they through their own private meditation, study, and life experience come to believe for themselves what they come to count to be the truth.
It honestly seems to me that you are coming at me with an assumption, based on your own experiences and perceptions of other Christians, that is not necessarily applicable to what I'm actually posting in these discussions and that I know is not applicable to what is in my heart. Again, I hope we can move past this bumpy detour and become great pals, willing to recognize the other is sharing his own personal beliefs and not demanding that everyone else fall in line with them.
Ummm, OK. That's perfectly fine with me. I doubt we are going to be great pals, simply since I don't know that being pals is possible on an online forum. If it is, I've been remiss in building relationships. I don't have any pals here that I know of.
But, as long as your truths are yours alone; we are sympatico. I will admit that whenever someone says, implies, beats around the bush or in any other way eludes to the idea that God is speaking to them either in person or through the Bible it makes me uncomfortable. I mean, if there is a God, he wouldn't be anyone you could argue your point with; so I assume when people talk truths from God they are attempting to channel him.
I'll be honest, you sound like you've developed a spirituality, not so much a religion. I'm a little confused why someone such as yourself would be arguing for the institution of organized Christianity.
The whole point and purpose of my hub is to give attention to what, it seems to me, is happening right here between us . . . I detest religion, but I count my spiritual life to be genuine and the actual, real me, the full and mature me, the me that I am becoming and will finally and eternally be. I was not raised in a Christian, or religious at all, home - I came to know God and commit myself to Him, and to love Him, through Jesus of Nazareth as I read the Bible on my own. I regard religion to be man scratching around trying to come-up with notions about God, himself, and his world - what I experienced was God revealing Himself to me when I was not really looking for Him at all. So, I would say I "developed" a spirituality - I was given spiritual life by God and am not the creature I once was.
What continually perplexes me is the predictably violent belligerence so many Americans have for Christianity . . . I recognize that there is much out there presented as Christianity (obnoxious tv preachers & agenda-driven churches, etc) that is ugly and harmful, but it doesn't take much investigation to recognize this is not historic, Biblical Christianity at all (it doesn't take much investigation, but it takes honest investigation - if one's mind is made-up already, no amount of study is going to change it). And, most perplexing is that the most instantly hostile, the most vehemently antagonistic to the Christian path are the many, or any path folks . . .
. . . I've met very few many-path folks who are not clearly and agitatedly any path except THAT one. Those who quickly and easily claim to be spiritual are so often the first and loudest to declare historic, Biblical Christianity not spiritually acceptable. Their own version of Jesus and His teaching they assert they are fine with, it's the evil church and the even more evil Paul that they are willing to banish as a legitimate path for anyone.
Now, I'm not sure where you see me "arguing for the institution of organized Christianity" . . . perhaps it's just a different usage of terms. There are very few churches I could feel comfortable being a part of, and I don't at all think a hierarchical bureaucracy handing down edicts, etc, is what the Bible talks about when it says that believers met together on the first day of the week. But, the problem is this; while there is nothing at all wrong in itself with meeting together as a local congregation of Christians, the first thing you must do is set-up a time and then a location, then some manner of order to the meeting, pretty soon there is property and someone must tend to that, and needs within the community, etc,etc . . . organization becomes necessary, but it strikes me that each step of (reasonable) organization is a step away from organic spiritual life - pretty soon programs, the killer of spiritual life, are instituted to reviver the spiritual life all the organization has sapped. I think perhaps when you think of churches you think of conniving authoritarian soul crushers (or perhaps you think of the Catholic church of your youth?) whereas when I think of churches I think of a congregation of believers, of people who know God and desire to serve Him by loving and serving their neighbors.
Emile, I deliberately used the word "pal", rather than friend, in the interest to recognize that we can't really know each other through this medium or enjoy vital fellowship - but I hope we can appreciate rather than be disturbed by one another, that we can be on civil, even friendly terms regardless if we agree on things or not.
I wouldn't argue that my understanding (or anyone's for that matter) of the early church is completely different from Christianity today. But, I do believe the gentiles of the early church used little more than the message of the Christ to guide them. This (what I consider to be) ridiculous need to brandish the Bible in its entirety has caused many Christians to almost completely ignore the gospels and seems to have reached the point that they don't honestly appear to understand the meaning of spirituality. They are, truly, simply people of the book. They have reverted back to being enslaved by the law.
I have nothing but respect for the Christ and people who truly attempt to understand his words and follow his ways, but those I have met that do are rarely Christians; which is one of the problems I have with the word Christianity.
I think, I mean, it seems undeniable, that the early church was most directly guided by Paul (who was guided by Jesus) and not so directly guided by the message of Jesus - 'directly'. Not that the message of Jesus wasn't the preeminent guide, but not that many saw or heard Jesus teach and the gospels were not written or spread around for until decades later - Paul, on the other hand, was actively traveling throughout the empire establishing churches and promoting the message of Jesus.
Once the gospels, and the rest of the NT was written, believers had that as their resource of what Jesus' message is. But tell me, how do we (like, you) determine that the gospels are a legitimate source of truth, or God's message, or Jesus' teaching, etc, but the other parts of the NT are not? And may I ask you, what is it you understand Jesus' message to be? Please don't revert back to assuming the worst of me - I am genuinely interested in what folks think and how they come to think as they do on these matters. I imagine we may disagree, but that doesn't trouble me and I hope it will not trouble you - what do you think Christians have wrong about Jesus' message, what do you understand His message to be?
Well, OK. I think that the message was clear. Look to yourself. It is up to you to search within to find your connection to the Divine. The Christ said it himself. 'The kingdom of God is within you.'
Why is it that you think no one has ever been able to validate their spiritual experiences to the world, at large? Why is it that any revelation anyone claims is for them, and them alone? If there is a God, why does he remain hidden and silent within the physical world? I don't know, but I suspect it is explained by the words of the Christ written above. Everything of spiritual value will be found within.
But, I derive my conclusions on organized religion from the gospels themselves.
The Christ never once advocated the reorganization of the the religious structure of the time. He never once advocated changing the political structure. His message was always geared toward an inner search.
He had little regard for the powers that be within organized religion. That is repeatedly shown in his interaction with them. He had little regard for the establishment itself. He was almost flippant in regards to paying the temple tax.
I think the tearing of the curtain to the Holy of Holies was the final statement to say that there was no separation between man and God any longer. The veil represented organized religion standing in the way.
You reference Paul, yet he was a zealot that switched horses mid stream. Of course he would actively work to develop organization within the faith. Does that make him right? He traveled around trying to pull people in line with what he claimed was Divine revelation. His petulant arguments with the other apostles are well documented. People apparently didn't agree even then.
You can't serve two masters. The gospels can only be viewed as a stand alone message. Any who are willing to ignore these because they contradict the Old Testament or Paul; I don't see that they are following Christ. I don't see where they have accepted his message. They are following Christianity.
I'm sorry, I need clarification; when you say "I think that the message was clear. Look to yourself. It is up to you to search within to find your connection to the Divine." are you saying that you think the message is clear and instructing me that I should to myself to discover what that message is - or are you saying that you think the clear message is that we are to look within ourselves and that It's up to us to search within to find connection to the Divine? I'm just not sure if you're saying Jesus' message itself was that we find the divine within ourselves or if you're saying that if I look within I'll discover what Jesus' message was.
When you say "I derive my conclusions on organized religion from the gospels themselves . . . The gospels can only be viewed as a stand alone message" I must repeat my previous question; how do you come to have confidence that the gospels present truth but the rest of the NT is unreliable? Luke wrote one of the gospels, but he also wrote the book of Acts - was he inspired or more honest, or whatever, when he wrote his gospel than when he was when he wrote Acts? He was in fact an eyewitness to what he wrote about in Acts but (most scholars agree that) he was most likely recounting Paul's (his companion and teacher) understanding of Jesus' life and message when he wrote his gospel. And Mark, who likewise was very likely to not have been an eyewitness to the things he writes about in his gospel, is commonly counted to be recounting Peter's (his companion and teacher) account of the life and message of Jesus . . . do you discount the NT letters of Peter as well?
I'm not trying to nitpick or belabor a point - I just don't understand, and am curious, how you (or whoever) determines that 'this' portion of a text is valid but 'that' other portion is not valid . . ? Why do you hold the gospels to be worthy of your attention but disregard Acts, the letter of James, Peter, etc? What do you base your selectiveness on, just what seems to strike you inside . . ?
You comment briefly on Paul's "petulant arguments with the other apostles" - that is not presented in the gospels, that incident (I assume you are speaking of Paul rebuking Peter) is presented in Acts. And, I would think that incident would draw you to Paul . . . he was rebuking Peter for his hypocrisy when being observed by the organized religious delegation from Jerusalem. And, later, Peter writes in one of his own letters that Paul should be listened to even though some of his teaching could be hard to take.
And when you say "I think the tearing of the curtain to the Holy of Holies was the final statement to say that there was no separation between man and God any longer. The veil represented organized religion standing in the way." I fully agree that this event portray that that which had separated man from God was now abolished - but the veil didn't represent organized religion standing in the way, it represented the law and it's requirement of a sacrifice . . . the veil separated the people from the most holy inner room where the law was kept and where the sacrifices were performed, it was what Jesus did, not a message that He taught that we are to discover within ourselves or that the divine is in us, etc, that tore apart the veil. The veil tore from top to bottom at the instant Jesus died - His death, the death of God, brought men out from under the curse of religiosity . . . discovering God within you, finding truth within yourself, that is the heart of religion. The veil did not tare from the bottom up, it was not torn by men as they found or discovered God - the veil tore from the top down, by God as He accepted Jesus' atonement.
And you are right, Jesus not only had little regard for the religious men of His day, He displayed actual contempt for them - however, He did not disregard that organizational necessity of the faithful meeting together . . . He went first to the synagogue when He entered a town and He went up to the temple on the proper occasions. It seems to me that you are throwing the baby out with the bathwater, so-to-speak. Again, I assume (because you've not corrected my earlier expressed assumption) your disdain for organized religion is a rebellion from your Roman Catholic upbringing - which I can easily understand, but not all and every aspect of organization must and can only manifest corruption and evil.
But honestly, I'm not so interested in the organized religion issue, you keep introducing that theme as some mark against me and, as I've told you, I am not so big as you seem to assume on organized church pronouncements and instruction. What I hope you will not weary of is my interest in what you understand Jesus' message to be and how you come to your determination of it.
So - all religion is garbage then? Good to see you religionists fighting it out though. How about them musselmen huh?
I think the message itself was that the only way to connect is through an inner search. Not an outer one. This theme runs through every other form of spirituality. And if you think about it, it's simple psychology. Even an atheist can understand that you have to look within, to understand yourself; and find peace. And maybe that is all 'the Divine' is in the end. Self help psychology. Or, maybe there is a God and you connect to it. Either way, understanding your inner thoughts; coming to terms and negating the conflict within yourself; must be done before what you believe to be 'the truth' can give one a sense of peace and help connect to all life in a more contented manner. And true peace and contentment is the goal and the proof of having found a spiritual truth. The figure of the Christ was shown to have found this.
Which is the primary problem I have with organized religion. I know you think you don't associate with organized religion; but your OP argues otherwise. I don't understand how it is possible to look within yourself when you are constantly reading old books and trying to ferret out secret truths from patching different scriptures together, as many do. I don't see how you can reduce inner conflict by following ideas that fly in the face of reality. And that is what believing in many of the scriptures forces one to do. And I believe it would be impossible to connect to anything spiritual in a crowd of others that all expect everyone to do it in a similar fashion.
So, this is why the gospels, to me, have to stand alone. There is too much conflict bouncing from the Old Testament, slipping into the beauty of the gospels and then tumbling into the madness of Paul. Of course the evangelicals are confused. I would be too if I thought the whole point was to scramble for position in an afterlife .
My goal is inner peace, so the only thing within Christianity that spoke to me were the gospels. There are no guarantees after this life, no matter what anyone thinks or believes, so we should do the best we can with what we know, while we have a chance to do it.
E > "I know you think you don't associate with organized religion; but your OP argues otherwise. I don't understand how it is possible to look within yourself when you are constantly reading old books and trying to ferret out secret truths from patching different scriptures together, as many do. I don't see how you can reduce inner conflict by following ideas that fly in the face of reality" <
Emile, can you not see how arrogant and condescending this appears? If I said anything like this to you ('I know you think you have an understanding of spiritual things but your remarks indicate that you do not') you would happily catalog me as another one of those Christians who just gobbles-up whatever their told and lacks the imagination and boldness to think for themselves, etc, etc. But because this comes from you, it's ok . . . again, you are acting-out just what you fault organized Christianity with. You are essentially just telling me that your religion is better than mine, that your group (of loosely collected multi-path folks) are right to pass judgment on others' spirituality but Christians are being spirit-void religious if we do it.
I'm telling you that I am not so keen as you prefer me to be about organized religion and you tell me that you (somehow) know that, yes I am - I know myself, I know the factual view I own regarding organized religion. That doesn't mean, however, that I discount the spiritual maturity of other seekers or withdraw from the fellowship of honest students of God. To you you it's "reading old books and trying to ferret out secret truths" - to me it's benefiting from the work God has already done in my brothers and sisters, it's sharing that we all might grow. To you it's "patching different scriptures together" - to me it's trusting in the divine Spirit God has given me to bring to light the truths that He Himself has revealed in His word. Emile, how is it that I am "reading old books and trying to ferret out secret truths" and "patching different scriptures together" while you are discovering Jesus in the gospels? Are you "reading old books and trying to ferret out secret truths" and "patching different scriptures together"? You say you accept 'this' portion but reject 'that' portion, you say Jesus' message was a 'find it in yourself self-congratulatory Oprah pop-psychology workshop', and that maybe there is and maybe there isn't a God - who's trying to ferret out secret truths and patching ideas together?
Emile, I don't take offense and I'm not at all as perturbed as I suspect you may imagine - I am honestly just always perplexed at how multi-path, Jesus is ok but Paul was a ghoul, it's all within us folks who condemn Christianity as arrogantly thinking they're right and rigidly judging those they disagree with can so effortlessly then arrogantly think they are right and rigidly judge they disagree with.
But, let's attend instead to the content of ideas here; you say you see no worth, no spirituality in organized religion but that you favor Jesus' teaching instead - the organized religion of Jesus' day was OT Judaism, that being, the law and the prophets. What Jesus says in the gospels is "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them" with the warning "whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
Many like to romanticize that Jesus was all about peace and love and that the God of the OT and then Paul were the mean ones who talked about sin and hell and judgment all the time - but Jesus talked more about sin and hell and judgment than anyone . . . the God of the OT (actually, Jesus Himself) was endlessly tolerant and patient with evil and rebellious people and Paul talked about love and forgiveness, etc. You say you find truth in the gospels and have nothing but respect for the Christ - but Jesus didn't come to tell us that we always had the power to come home if we just click our heels 3 times - Jesus said ~
"Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword" and rather than 'look into yourself for the divine' what Jesus actually says in the gospels is "the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil" and "You are of your father the devil".
Jesus' message in the gospels is the opposite of we all have the divine in us and need to discover our true selves, etc - His message was that we do not at all have the divine in us, His message to us is that God is an eternal Spirit and we are material creatures, that something needs to happen to us, something needs to be done to us to make it possible for us, beasts, to know and love and fellowship with infinite love . . . like going through a decompression process to function in a changed atmosphere, man needs to be processed, in a sense, to interact with God. Jesus didn't say we already have bits of God in us that we need to scratch around for - He said (in the gospels) ~
"Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God . . . that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again".
Let me ask you this - if Jesus came to teach us all that we need to look inside ourselves for the divine in all of us, that we need to be taught to develop our spiritual self, etc, then why would this appear in the gospels ~
"He strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ"?
. . . that's not a rhetorical question - what was Jesus' purpose here, why did He not want it to be known that He was the great teacher come to show us the way?
First. I like you. You've got passion. The comments I made as complaints against Christianity were not against you. They are against the organization and how it leads people conveniently astray. You appear to be thinking for yourself and trying to find the wisdom. You are not organized Christianity, yet I feel you would like to become it. You argue good points for your stand on Christianity, but it has been my observation that many people prefer to be told what to think, spiritually. Organization gives them the opportunity to not do as you and I have done, and come to our own conclusions.
As to your quotation -what was Jesus' purpose here, why did He not want it to be known that He was the great teacher come to show us the way?
Because he didn't want to start religion. His was not wisdom suited for organized worship. It is better suited to individual reflection and action.
Imo, there is nothing wrong, and plenty of good, in what you would call 'spirit filled believers' gathering. But, not to be led, as religion does. Not to attempt to convert, as religion does. And not to mold the individual mind, as religion attempts to do.
I think, the term 'body of Christ' is a good one. But it isn't a lump of flesh from the neck down. It is individual parts, individual cells. Individual thoughts and reflections. Which is the point I saw rise throughout the gospels.
I'm pleased that you like me and assure you I've not ever taken any offense from our discussions here - my sense is that we are examining ideas, not commenting on anyone's personal character or anything along that line. I would encourage you to consider this; while I know there are multitudes of people who are happy to gobble-up whatever they hear from whatever pulpit they feel compelled (rather than have deliberately determined) to sit under and so there are many congregations filled with shallow thinking hypocrites who sit at the feet of their church rather than sitting at the feet of Jesus, I think there are very likely far more congregations of independent thinking people with a sincere interest to know, not what they're supposed to think, but what the truth factually is than you seem to believe.
I, currently, am not part of any congregation . . . I met a fellow a few years ago who, like myself, was unable to find a church in our area that he could participate in with any genuine commitment. We started a neighborhood Bible study, unaffiliated with any organized church, and collected a small group of like-minded folks . . . eventually we had enough people that we considered providing for ourselves and the community a local congregation that was what we all desired but could not find in any of the local churches. We rented a building and for almost 2 years we had a small group of since Christians, including several college students who drove about 50 miles and past probably over 100 churches to be with us every week. Unfortunately we could not get enough people, remaining true to our beliefs rather than pandering to be popular, to continue to meet the rental fee for the building.
We currently continue with the smaller neighborhood Bible study - perhaps we'll try again sometime. But, Emile, I attend 3 different small group Bible studies during the week with 3 different groups associated with 3 different local churches, and each of them is a sincere group of folks who seek to know what it is the Bible presents as the truth - they are not interested to conform to what their church tells them to believe, they want to conform to what God reveals as the truth. I just think, perhaps, there are far more Christians out there who detest the religiosity you decry than you imagine - it's the loopy pinhead 'Christians' who have the loudest voices, but there are many more like me than most folks think. I liken it to Woodstock . . . I don't know how old you are, but the big news of Woodstock when it happened wasn't anything that was news-worthy or remembered today - the big news for us (hippies) at the time was 'I had no clue there were so many of us!?'. We thought what was happening in our community was it, we didn't realize until we saw the actual gathering that this was happening all over the place. There are more authentic, thinking, iconoclastic, sincere Christians quietly living all over the place than you might think.
As to; what was Jesus' purpose here, why did He not want it to be known that He was the great teacher come to show us the way?
I don't think the true answer is that He did not want to start a religion. An interesting thing can be observed in John's gospel; all through John's account of Jesus' life and teaching ministry His disciples are urging Him to go to Jerusalem, go to Jerusalem, but He continually tells them "It is not yet My time" and He refuses to go. The disciples know that the people were longing for the promised Messiah, they wanted a prophet, and they saw the reactions throughout the countryside to Jesus' teaching - but, as you suggest, Jesus did not want to start yet another religion, that was not why He came. However, as soon as the religious leaders of His day (the pharisees) turned the people against Jesus and sought His arrest, that is when suddenly Jesus announces He is going to Jerusalem and all His disciples cry not to go, don't go up to Jerusalem, don't go up to Jerusalem. Jesus' answer - "My time has come".
Jesus didn't come to start a new church, neither did He come to give instruction on finding God within you, His purpose, His mission was not to teach us how best to live or to show us the way, etc - Jesus came to actually accomplish the way to God, He came to give us the true path to God, He came to die. It is His death, the death of God, that accomplished the atonement required for men to know, love, and worship the eternal divine Spirit. Jesus' teaching was not come to God through finding Him in yourself - Jesus' teaching was that we must come to Him to know God . . . He did not teach that there is light in all paths, He taught that all others are paths are lies and deceptions, He announced boldly that He was the only way to God because He alone was the one who God sent, He is the mediator between God and man, He is THE path, because He alone is God and He alone accomplished the atonement when He died and lived again to proclaim it. This is why Jesus said that no one can come to the Father except through the Son . . .this is the way God has prepared and provided that we can know Him, all else is man-concocted religious notions about doing good enough or finding God in your heart, etc. That's all religion - Jesus said "I am the resurrection and the life . . . come unto Me . . . you must be born from above". We are natural material creatures - we need to be made eternal spiritual beings . . . that's why Jesus came.
The point is that with the so-called 'word' so widely interpreted in such weird and bigoted ways it has clearly lost any authority it might have had.
About time too. The misuse of a simple story has contributed to most of the really bad stuff for the last 2000 years.
The word, the Bible, has not at all lost any authority with a great many men throughout every age. Those who abuse it for their own interests, those who haphazardly handle it, and all those enamored with "weird and bigoted" falsehoods so concocted and promoted suggest no grasp of authoritative truth, and they have certainly caused much harm over the last 2,000, or, 6,000 years - but the popular notion that authentic Bible-based Christianity has done more harm than anything else in the last 2,000 years is an ill-informed and ludicrous accusation.
It was "weird and bigoted" religiosity, not Bible-based Christianity, that was behind the oft referenced Crusades, various wars and oppressions, etc - Bible-based Christianity was busy building orphanages and hospitals, it was ending the slave trade and and advancing the state of women, it was conceiving and establishing the idea of free public schooling for everyone and trade unions and job retraining and the clear and divided roles between church and state, etc, etc, etc.
To just announce a blanket accusation (I'm not asserting this is what you did, I'm addressing a larger public recurring ploy) that Christianity has done more harm, etc, etc, is an ill-informed and ludicrous accusation.
I have to point out that you are using the most often used 'ploy' in your assertions that those people who carried out all the bad stuff were not 'christians'. You are clearly promoting your own particular brand of interpretation over all the others.
We are constantly subjected to repulsive homophobic threads from christians and bible justified bigotry in all its worst forms. They all claim to be christian and you can object as much as you like but they are just as much christian as you.
I understand your charge and you frustration - but try to imagine this from my point-of-view:
I don't follow some religion, I don't adhere to some hierarchical decree, I count no man or organization as my authority, etc - I read in the Bible what it is I believe to be the truth, and I find in history a whole strain of men from all ages who find in it what I find, apart from denominational attachments and the sway of one or another era's culture I agree with a multitude of 3rd century noblemen, 11the century French peasant girls, 18th century theologians, etc, etc, understand to be Christianity . . . and we all stand more urgently opposed to the brutality, oppression, and belligerence by those who identify themselves as 'Christian' yet teach something wholly different than what we understand the Bible to present as Christian than any 'anti-Christian' folks or skeptics, etc, on the planet.
Yet, we regularly hear this same popular accusation, that Christians are the ones doing all these evil things (that we as Christians detest) and that if we say those people and groups are not Christians then who are we to say that only we are the real Christians, etc. Consider this; say you are a Democrat and another faults you for that association, saying that George Bush was a mess and that since before Reagan's Democratic administration the Demonstrates have always, etc, etc - wouldn't you say "But Bush was not at all a Democrat, Bush & Reagan were both Republicans not Democrats", and wouldn't you be expressing a sound and legitimate understanding of the matter?
Because everyone has a right to believe whatever they prefer to believe, and because what we believe is an internal private concern, many seen to misapply that circumstance into asserting that anyone can say that anything means whatever they want it to mean, that all of us have every right to call ourselves a 'Christian', no matter what we assert that to mean. If I said I am a Hindu and starting telling you that you must accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior wouldn't you tell me that I was not at all presenting you with Hindu teaching?
The notion that anyone can make the Bible say whatever they want it to say, that it is so mystically obscure that it could mean anything, is simply an ill-informed, self-serving falsehood. If a pope-king tells men that as Christians they must follow his instruction and go slaughter Muslims, that is not a Christian effort merely because the said pope calls himself and his church 'Christian' and it is not indiscernible if the Bible supports such an effort or not - my first question would be, where in the Bible do we get any such notion that there is to be any such thing as a pope?
Again, if I said your type, Democrats, are so terribly conservative in your views, that you need to embrace the more liberal view of the Republicans, wouldn't you assert that there is an objective reality here that is being distorted, and that you are not conservative at all?
All people that call themselves Christian do so because they were taught to call themselves Christian.
We are taught that "IF" our beliefs conform enough to the standard we can call ourselves a Christian.
I believe in electricity and have a basic understanding of how it works.
Does that mean that I am an electrician?
Do I believe those things that Jesus said? (those things written in red) Or ... do I believe someone elses interpretation of those things?
In Matthew 24:34 ; Jesus said "THIS" generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled, but no one knows what day or hour, only God does!
This is like me saying to you; "THIS" day I will give back to you those things that I have borrowed from you, but I do not know what hour or minute, no one does.
We interpret the word of God to conform to our beliefs.
How right is that?
I think if anyone sits down a read the bible from the beginning to the end, they would definitely walk away seeing a STRONG difference in the way the early Christians worshipped and the way the church operates today. I love God and I will love and worship him to the day that I die. But I will not lie and say the church is not doing things that are not pleasing to God and though I know you can't expect perfection from any establishment including the church, I think some people need to leave their church if they find that it's not teaching things that are pleasing to God.
I imagine you are referring to all kinds of goofy and ugly things churches and church people do, but even the way we do church itself - I mean, I wonder how many church folk ever stop, I mean stop dead in their tracks, and wonder 'Is this at all even close to what church is supposed to be like? Are we supposed to come here and sit as an audience, is there even supposed to be sermons?!' . . . how much do we do merely because that's the way it's done - not because we've honestly and thoroughly considered and examined if that's the way it should be, but only because that's the way it is . . ?
It's not just what the churches do or don't do, it's what they preach these days. It's the erroneous doctrines that were unknown to the 1st Century Church; doctrines developed between the 2nd and 4th Centuries by absorbing pagan concepts have been in the Church so long, that they are accepted as Christian. Such as:
- The immortal human spirit.
- Ascending to Heaven immediately upon death or descending into a pagan inspired Hell.
- Original sin.
- The Trinity.
Then we have all the new ideas such as:
- The Word of Faith movement
- The Prosperity Gospel
- The 'Getting drunk on the new wine of the Holy Spirit'.
- The Christian tithe which is a complete bastardisation of the tithe in the OT.
All these things are reasons why I left the Church.
Ascending to Heaven immediately upon death or descending into a pagan inspired Hell.
all Very good points. But I'll address only this one.
As it is written, after the second coming,AND after the 1st resurrection, Rev. 14:13 Write blessed are the dead that die in the Lord Henceforth, that they may rest from their labors and their works do follow them.
Sounds to me that after the 1st resurrection, when a person dies they do go straight to heaven.
As many people here in forums already know; I believe the second coming, as written is scripture, has already taken place; about the time John received the Revelation (96 AD)
And the first resurrection happened around 900 AD. When the sixth trumpet was sounded,
This would explain the sudden and drastic change in the story line of Rev.
At that time it is necessary to flash back in time and fill in many details of things which happened up until this time.
And when the first bowl judgment was poured out (Rev 16:2) The Black death killed something between 1/3 to 2/3 of the population of Europe and Asia.
I think the ideas of the immortal human spirit, ascending to Heaven immediately upon death or descending into a pagan inspired Hell, original sin, the Trinity, etc, are a very different set of ideas than the word of faith movement, the prosperity gospel, getting drunk on the new wine of the Holy Spirit', etc, as far as historic orthodoxy with archaeological and document evidence is concerned . . . and I realize you did distinguish them in two groupings, but I mean conclusion-wise, as to their legitimacy within Biblical Christianity, they are very different issues altogether.
And again, this is very much what my hub is all about - setting forth what is too often embraced today as Christianity in light of the historic Biblical faith.
Yes there have to be sermons! They have to say something after they have raped your checking account. I guess it would be better if you could just drop off your check and skip the nonsense.
I don't understand how it is possible to look within yourself when you are from patching different scriptures together, as many do. I don't see how you can reduce inner conflict by following ideas that fly in the face of reality.
= - = - = - =
constantly reading old books and trying to ferret out secret truth???
The only reason for doing so is to ferret out false teachings and misinterpretations of which different church’s have been teaching thousands of sense its beginning. Lets remember, how many totally opposite interpretations has been accepted as "THE" Truth!
It is written that even the very elect will be fooled.
This will be done with subtly, not with a blatant "In your Face" opposition of the word of God.
When we believe anything ... We can prove it to be true by trying to prove it wrong. If we can't? THEN it is more likely to be true
If we do not want to challenge that which we believe,
We might not believe it as much as we would like to.
If our faith is strong, "IT" can stand up to the test. Not US but IT can.
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