All traditional churches are esoteric in nature. That is, their authoritative writings are presented as having inner meanings for the initiated and an outer or literal meaning for the uninitiated. With Christianity, for example, the inner meanings have long been forgotten and people have now been reduced to guessing. In any event, trying to present multiple uncertain meanings as being truthful is dishonest.
In the case of the Bible, the writers themselves point out that the literal meaning is for the profane or uninitiated and the inner or true meaning is reserved for the chosen. In the case of Jesus talking to his disciples he says outright that they will know the secrets of the parables, but non-disciples will not.
Some examples using the Revised Standard Version of the Bible follow:
1) Mark 4:11- When asked about the parable, Jesus said that the disciples have been given the secret of God, but for those outside, everything is in parables; they may see, but not perceive; they may hear, but not understand.
2) John 16:25 - I have said this to you in figures (i.e. parables); the hour is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in figures, but tell you plainly of the Father.
3) Matthew 13: 1-23 - The Parable of the Sower
The parable of the sower that Jesus told to a great crowd must be explained to the disciples since the meaning certainly is not obvious. Other parables in the Bible are not provided an explanation such as this one. When asked by his disciples about using parables Jesus answered “that to you is given the secrets of heaven, but to them it has not been given”
Jesus is saying outright that only the disciples will understand his message. It is promised in John 16 that some time in the future the communication will be clear, but has not been up to now. Christianity, of course, centers around Jesus, but Jesus says openly to Christians that you will not understand what I am saying. His message is very clear. The question is - Why do Christians depend of the Bible as an authoritative writing when they are told by Jesus that they will not understand it?
People depend on Bible scholars to interpret the esoteric writings of the Bible, i.e. accept the word of experts. People should not fool themselves into believing experts - Jesus said that his teachings would be made clear to his disciples, not experts after two thousand years. By getting into the mindset of accepting the word of experts, society suffers from having members accepting the word of experts rather than developing critical thinking skills.
Esoteric religions that depend on multiple possible meanings are inconsistent with honesty. In fact, they become a untruthful environment for their members. Trying to translate old, esoteric writings is nothing more than guessing.
Since existing esoteric religions are not based on truthfulness; an alternative would be the formation of philosophical communities based on honesty with its authoritative writings clearly stated in the language of its adherents vs. the dishonest nature of esoteric religious groups. The members of philosophical communities would be assured that other members were truthful. These philosophical communities could be secular or religious, but would not be esoteric since esotericism is not consistent with an honest culture.
Is the Bible revealing that it cannot be understood and that possibly other options should be considered?
No, it is saying that one must go to their local priesthood for understanding. An extremely common tactic in religion, designed to keep the coffers full of gold and the church in power, and one which has worked quite well for millennia in all kinds of religions.
I completely disagree. Jesus' ministry appears to me to showcase the problems with religion and the spiritual solution. That solution being to understand the intent of God's desires for Man and to live them. Even as a child, Jesus understood the law better than the scholars.
The church has done all in its power to keep religion lumbering on, to the detriment of spiritual growth because it attempts to bog its inherents to the letter, ignoring the spirit. Adding burden after burden through'scholarly wisdom'.
I don't put much stock in ideas which create threads such as this because I see this avenue of thought as simply attempting to create more division and more sects. Jesus' message was to live for the harmony of God and Man and this course goes against that goal.
While I have no argument with thinking that the solution is to understand the intent of God's desires for Man, the bible was written in such a manner as to make those desires almost completely hidden and subject to interpretation even at the time of writing, and the two millennium since then makes it far worse.
Now add in organized religion, making trillions of dollars per year from collection plates, and it becomes rather obvious (to me) that the goal is to convince people that the only interpretation available is that from the priesthood.
There is a vast difference, IMO, between spirituality, even religious spirituality, and the churches of today. The purpose of modern churches is not to teach about a god, not to worship a god, not even to provide a common community of believers. It is to support the priesthood, and specifically the high end of that priesthood - the pretty costumes and windows, the beautiful choirs and music, are but tools to convince the plebes to donate in exchange for eternal life.
But then I'm pretty jaded about modern churches and religion in general...
The problem with your premise here is that you support a religious fundamentalist as president. It has to be seen as irrational hypocrisy. Trying to seperate the issues and avoiding them only adds dishonesty to the mix.
You do understand that the goal of the churches and the purpose of the Bible cannot be synonymous?
Mmmm. The goal of churches was to stay alive and support the aristocracy (priesthood) by controlling others.
The purpose of the bible, when written, was to consolidate and solidify church power, bringing all the small churches under "one roof", so to speak. Much the same, then.
But nevertheless, I understand your statement and agree with it. The goal of those common folk in the pews (or out in the forest, or walking down the street, or mowing their lawn), the ones that read and study the bible for guidance and help, to understand and worship their god better - those people give the bible a totally different purpose.
I would like to point out that, when written, the books of the Bible did not serve the purpose you claim they do. Honestly, none of the writers had the faintest idea what would become of it.
We believe that to be the case, at least most of the time. But the individual "books" are not the bible, and it is really, really doubtful that the bible contains all accurate transcriptions of those letters and documents. If nothing else, it is my understanding that the old testament came from Jewish writings, but none that match biblical scripture have ever been found. Genesis, for instance, isn't even close to what Jews believe.
Are you saying the Torah (or Pentateuch, I don't know much about Judaism) doesn't match the first five books of the Old Testament? That seems a little difficult to believe.
LTL, I haven't read the Torah (like you I'm not even sure it is the right term), but various Jews on this site have said that. I have no reason to doubt them - it didn't appear to be a difference in something simple but in the very basics of the creation story. No garden, no tree, no apple, no snake, etc. and no real description (unlike the bible) of creation itself.
I don't know. I think it makes more sense to say the Jews interpret it all differently.
Edit. Just a quick google search of many of the books in the Old Testament come up with the first few hits Jewish sites, so I'm not sure I understood what you meant previously. It appears they are Jewish writings recognized by the Jewish faith, as such.
What I hear (and haven't thoroughly checked) is that they come from Jewish writings, but have mysteriously changed - they no longer say the same thing.
Some of that can be written off as translation, but come on - when there is no more Eden it isn't just translation. Plus, of course, one must assume that the oldest copies available - those owned by Jews - are the ones that are wrong. Hard to swallow that.
Again, a google search sent me to a site where the Pentateuch was available, with commentary. A quick look showed that it was the same. I am now curious though and will research further but, at first glance, it appears someone may be pulling your leg.
And it may be that one leg is now longer than the other. Although it is multiple people...or at least multiple web personas. Let me know what you find - does the Jewish account of creation and the first man agree with the Christian bible? Is the tale of Eden reasonably consistent? Is Cain and Able there? Noah, and Jonah? Sodom and Gomorrah?
They are the same. There is more difference between the KJV and the NKJV than the Tanakh and Old Testament. This discourse is painful to read.
What are you? A masochist? Are you unable to simply stop?
Someone had to set the record straight. I am curious to why you would inquire information from someone that has less than a working knowledge of the Bible.
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Then why are you on the Theological Discussion hub?
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