Discussion in 'Religion and Lighthearted Discussion' started by Lifer, Mar 23, 2008.
First of all, happy easter back to all my Christian friends here.
Now then, about the linked page: It seems that this interpretation is at odds with any scintilla of moral imperative to do good in the world; it is the perfect theology for a coward or someone too lazy to challenge himself. I may myself fit into such a paradigm, mind you; but I define that state of being as falling short, not achieving perfect grace. Nor would I so define it if I believed in one or another cultic figurehead such as Jesus. The mechanics are just too convenient.
I thank God that many righteous gentiles during World War Two did not embrace this interpretation of Christianity, but rather reasoned that what we do matters -- and often staked their lives on it.
It is possible to know the difference between right and wrong, and watch wrong perpetrated from the sidelines, if we reason that what we do is unimportant.
It is impossible to be such an accomplice to evil if we reason that what we do is important.
"All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." Your theology advocates just such a course of inaction.
thank you. it might be helpful next time if you actually read the entire link where it was made very clear this is not a license to sin, and that as followers of Christ, sin is less appealing and the desire to follow his example is an expectation. There are many biblical passages there if one is not lazy enough to fall back into simplistic cliches and attack on anothers belief system.
my own comment, "..it is not what we do...." was not a call to not do anything, it was a comment that it was not tied to salvation.
I read your link. My response is not an attack.
The significance of human action and suffering is in doubt in a once-saved-always-saved universe. It is, in fact, in doubt in a mixed works/faith system of salvation as well; when death is not "for keeps," life becomes surreal. Eastern systems featuring reincarnation similarly reinvest life with meaning; but at least acting in "ignorance" in the here-and-now prevents evolution through rebirth in that system, just as in a works-based theology, evil actions prevent attainment of salvation.
I just believe in doing the right thing. There is nothing wrong with expressing that preference.
Once-saved-always-saved theology does not satisfactorily urge one to do the right thing, because at heart it is belief that matters in this system, not actions.
What does the easter bunny represent? If eggs represent new life and the bunny lays them is the bunny god?
In the scenario described above, the bunny would represent genetic engineering. I am not certain the bunny actually lays the eggs, however, and so must be considered a messenger (evangelos, or angel,) rather than God his own self.
This of course founders (as does all speech about monotheistic religion,) on the problem that God's omnipresence prevents not-God. So yes, from that point of view, the bunny must be God, as must be you and I. But this is the sort of pantheistic outlook that has pi s s ed off any number of saints and rabbonim over the centuries.
It depends on whether your belief system is based on how you think things should be as opposed to how things are. I mean, who is defining truth. If I believe that I am in charge of the truth, then I agree, life should be based on fair. But I believe that God is charge of whats true. And according to Gods word, whats fair is that we are all sinners, and that based on our own merit, none of us deserve Salvation, even the most righteous. But because of Gods Grace, He has provided a way for us to have what we do not deserve.
And because of God of Gods mercy, we do not get what we do deserve. He only asks for acceptance of His son.
That is my belief, not because I say so, but because God says so.
You are free to believe otherwise. I just ask you do not misrepresent my viewpoint as implying people that believe this are free to do whatever they want and that what we do doesnt matter. That is a whole different topic.
The thread and the link are only about the question of Salvation, not the merits of living a good life or being a good person.
Oh at least credit Pilate and don't try to pass the quote off as your own work
And the two, in your world-view, are separate and distinct. That is the point. In many other world-views, they are inseparable. That feature of the "once saved always saved" viewpoint should be discussed, and this is the place to do it.
If the subject of your thread is one or another theology, it strikes me that we are in the realm of comparative religion, rather than the realm of singing hosannahs and heaping encomiums on your chosen beliefs.
maybe ive just had a long day at work, but can you say that last paragraph again a little plainer? I think you are saying because im talking theology, it is assumed im comparing it to another. Why? On Easter I was just pointing out that per my beliefs, the significance is that what Jesus did by dying on the cross and raising from the dead 3 days later so that we may have a path to Salvation was enough, and a link was provided to support that, as way of celebrating, or, in your words, singing hosannahs to the good news.
If you saw that as an implied attack on everyone elses religion, or yourself, you read too much into it. You really dont have to believe in it, it is your choice to reject it. But I have a right to say it. And when you add things to it that I never said, Im going to speak up.
I do apologize if the words "Its not what we do" was taken as meaning it doesnt matter what we do in this life, all the good we do, gentiles saving people during the holocaust etc etc......again, the "Its not what we do" was meant only as regarding how Salvation is obtained.
I can understand why non-Christians would not want to hear about a faith where Heaven is not like all the Hollywood movies. You know, you die, you go to a subway station, some guy like Richard Mulligan or Morgan Freeman is there to greet you, you go have the best sushi in the world because everything is better there, then if you are good enough you stay, and if you arent, you get sent back as a poor farmer or something to do it over again or you get dragged down a sewer like the guy in Ghost.
Simple! Just be good.
So when what the Bible says about it is brought up, of course someone who doesnt believe it is offended that they have to, for a second, ponder their own eternity. And of course that becomes the fault of the person who brought it up.
Nowhere in that link did i mention another faith. I was talking about my own.
Which i thought appropriate given the day celebrating the resurrection. Without getting into a debate about "Easter", I myself, was celebrating the resurrection, and providing some background with the link of its significance.
My point is that in discussing the theology you adhere to on a message board, you therefore invite discussion of that theology.
Given that others will almost certainly disagree with your theology, that invites a comparative relgious approach.
All that said, that was merely to explain why it is pertinent that some faiths attach importance to our actions.
Long story short: it seems to me that people of just about every religion do good and do bad. It also seems that it would be quite difficult for anybody to do an unbiased analysis of the sum effect on society of any given religon. So, I just figure the best thing is for everybody to enjoy their own.
However, when the disconnect of ethical behavior from theological expectation within a system is so distinct, I just feel it is appropriate to point out that feature of that specific theology -- especially in a religion forum which exists, after all, to discuss religion
And i agree, I invite discussion, i just responded to distortion, the implication that according to my faith, it doesnt matter at all what we do in this life. Of course it matters to be a good person, and if someone becomes a Christian just to get to Heaven without any real desire to do good, then they werent really sincere in their repentance in the first place. One more time, what is seperate, is only in the matter of how Salvation is obtained, it is obtained, according to my faith, not by our good deeds, but by His sacrifice and our acceptance of His Lordship on our lives.
But i do invite and enjoy the discussion.
Let us say that a horrible mass murderer has sincerely accepted the theology you favor.
I am going to call that horrible mass murderer a future character called "Colonel Green."
I picked that name because in Star Trek, they always listed those horrible genocidal characters from the past "Hitler... Stalin... Colonel Green..." He also showed up along with Genghis Khan and a couple of alien evildoers from the past on one episode.
The point about using Colonel Green is he's just plain evil in his actions -- albeit fictional, so we don't need to get into the nitty-gritty of his having said this, that, or the other thing proving he isn't "really" of the right religion.
So again: Colonel Green killed millions of people. Colonel Green also accepted the specified theology. Colonel Green not only can get to heaven; it is guaranteed he will go.
If Green accepts the mechanics of the system specified, then Green is rewarded forever.
It is also interesting to note that under the terms of said theology, we are all sinners who have fallen far short -- all sinners in God's eyes, that is, who are in terrible need of saving.
We are all so bad that we are destined to go to a very unpleasant afterlife state, if we do not accept the proffered theological fix.
This dichotomy generates the logical absurdity -- albeit in the eyes of man -- that everyday sins like being born can get you sent to hell, but a mass murderer can attain salvation, just by truly believing in the favored ideology.
Now here's an interesting feature of "once saved, always saved": God accepts that we all sin, and we're all worthy of eternal torture... but he extends salvation to those who accept a certain belief.
Nevertheless, God knows that we will still "fall short" -- and continue to fall short just as much after accepting the said theology. Just as the thread title says, it isn't very important what you do, except insofar as it "represents" the reality of your subjective musings about a theological system.
In other words, as the bumper sticker says, "I'm not perfect, just forgiven." (And, as the bumper sticker implies, you're not.)
So you do bad things, you are fogiven the bad things, and you are favored by the god of the salvation system you have embraced. There is no absolute requirement (using salvation as the yardstick of "requirement",) that one behave any differently. It may be implied that one would, for example, not eat a live baby. But if push comes to shove, and one really, really has a good relationship with Jesus and/or God, it is (as the thread title says,) not important.
One absolutely mind-blowing feature of this theology is that Colonel Green can wake up in the morning, wipe out a village, perhaps repent the action (although it does not seem to be required,) have a very sincere discussion with God about it (if in fact that is required,) go to bed with a clear conscience, wake up and do it again, ad infinitum.
Meanwhile, most of us, for being born, are destined to eternal perdition for our flaws.
How, specifically, does such a theology differ from
"Whatever I do is okay because God likes me better than you?"
The answer is that it does not.
Judaism, like many preexistent religions, at one time embraced the above outloook -- and then evolved beyond it. Many Christian theologies have recognized the absurdity of such outlooks as well.
The Christianity you embrace, as described in this thread, only seeks to replace the ancient notion of the "elect" with a new "elect", defined by belief in a certain mechanics of salvation.
It truly is time we all grow up and learn what Hillel first said, and others have echoed within the mainline Jewish and Christian faiths ever since:
Do not do unto your neighbor what is hateful to yourself. All the rest is commentary. Now, go and study.
You listening out there in the future, Colonel Green?
Now correct me if I'm wrong, Lifer.
Does it or does it not matter what we do?
Can Colonel Green behave as discussed here, or can he not, according to the theology you outline?
Why would anybody accept such a theology? Other than swapping the names around, how does it differ from, for example, devil-worship?
If God is all-good, why is he permitting evil on the part of the elect, and punishing the good among the "non-elect"? If the Devil is evil, how is it that so many relatively good people must be consigned to his care?
The standard answer is that it is arrogance to trust our "human" notions of good and evil. But we can only meaningfully discuss such notions with the language available to humans (being human and all). To say God is "good," but it is a big fat secret to humans what "good" really is, is simply to make the word "good" meaningless.
Why would you worship one god above another (or a panoply of others,) or why would you worship your "god" over the "devil", if you can not apply good behavior or outcomes, or even a good nature, to the god in question? What meaning can the prospective convert attach to worshipping -- in our above example -- the god of Colonel Green?
The only attractive feature I could see would be a very cynical understanding that even Colonel Green can get saved by this theology --- and look at all the crap he gets away with! I can be saved without behaving well! YAY!
I would submit that if it is a DISTORTION to draw this implication from the theology you have outlined, that missionaries begin to omit the perverse incentives described from their discussion of the "Good News". In other words, they really need to stop promising afterlife outcomes in exchange for sincere belief.
You may say that such persons have not "sincerely" converted; but then, how "sincere" can any conversion be said to be, in light of the celestial skinner box of "salvation"?
Shouldn't missionary work be done on the basis of converting for the sake of God, and for the sake of one's own better nature? Why is such work never accomplished or attempted without discussion of heaven and hell, which are, after all, frought with exactly the problems of incentive we have identified above?
The answer is that it is precisely the promise and threat of salvation and damnation that are most effective in missionary work. And they are effective specifically because the "distortion" you decry is the most effective sales strategy for the theology you have outlined; The "distortion" is, in fact, the heart of the theology you have outlined. Note that I do not say "Christianity". The majority of Christians are Catholic, and they place more weight on works. Even mainline protestants do so.
Only the most active proselytizers so center their faith on the best "outreach" points, the most successful number-builders, the most primitive, to my lights, expressions of Christian intent.
What if, as seems likely, the "distortion" of Christianity is this theology of "once saved always saved" itself?
Wow, can you get any more extreme there, PFIV? Why is it you must use, as an example, a murderer of millions? Are there a lot of them out there?
Cant naysayers of Christianity ever just take an average dude who cheats on his wife or something? No, always the mass murderer, as if that perfectly describes your averaged saved Christian. Typical hysterics from PFIV.
You completely ignore my last posts and continue saying the Christian expects to act the same after accepting the Lord. Like a great debater, worthy of a Clinton or Karl Rove political campaign, you pounce on the extreme misinterpretation and repeat it over and over again.
Once again, so you might grasp it, it does matter, what we do here on earth does matter, however it is seperate from the question of Salvation.
We are not Saved because of how good WE are. We are Saved because of how good He is. So even though one person might be the most kind, giving person there is, its not good enough, because they disobeyed the one requirement God made. And despite what weve done, if we come to Him with our sin and accept what Jesus did for us on the Cross, we are forgiven and are a new creation. That is not because I say so, that is my belief because thats what God says in His Word. Its very clear throughout the New Testament.
As far as the ridiculous paragraph..."The only attractive feature I could see would be a very cynical understanding that even Colonel Green can get saved by this theology --- and look at all the crap he gets away with! I can be saved without behaving well! YAY!".....
Accepting the Lord is not a matter of going down the aisle, saying the words,and giggling as you go back to your seat "oh boy, now i can do what I want" There has to be a true repentence, a desire to turn from previous ways and a true desire for Jesus Christ to change our hearts.
You and me have no way of knowing whats in another persons heart, but if a Colonel Green goes out and kills thousands more people after saying he accepted Christ, chances are he never truly repented, at least I think we can make that assumption, dont you agree? And lets not get this confused with people who slip here and there and sin in their lives, people are not robots, we arent expected to live like that. You brought up the mass murderer as an absurd premise, and thats what im responding to. As ive said before, using a Colonel Green model as the example of your average "Once Saved, Always Saved" believing Christian is like me using David Berkowitz as an example of Judaism.
That all being said, you asked earlier..."Why would anyone accept such a theology?".........well, for one thing, millions do, and another, because they believe it to be the truth, and finally, because its not a question of what the masses think, it what God said. It doesnt matter if you believe it, that doesnt determine whether it is true or not. If you dont accept Gods word, that is your choice. But the determining factor of whether it is the truth does not lie with God convincing you or by me or anyone else proving it or convincing you. I posted the link that I did, and you are free to disagree.
As we've talked at lenghth, I believe in the Old Testament, I think Judaism was dead on correct. I would invite anybody to read the Old Testament in its entirety, from the first 5 books through the prophesies in Psalms and Isaiah. The Jews had it right. Because lets face it, there is cultural Judaism and then there is what Jews believe. And it would make sense, dont you agree, that what Jews believe comes from something...say...scripture?
So look at the Old Testament, look at the prophesies that point to the coming Messiah, see the prophesies come true in the New Testament, and once you are in the New Testament, read what was said consistantly in the New Testament regarding Salvation. This is where im coming from, that this isnt some theology im making up on Patsfans.com out of the blue.
Every time I post a link that has hard Scriptural reasoning, you go off the deep end talking about genocide.
Just keeping the conversation lively....... (William Hurt, The Big Chill)
Plenty for my tastes. Just one will ruin your whole day. But more to the point, the theology you espouse does not urge those who follow it, to do good works, since Jesus did all the work by dying. That means there's no real point in opposing "Colonel Green" or any other focal point of evil.
The theological point is just as important: since only God can know whether Colonel Green -- or another mass murderer -- truly accepted the theology in question, only God knows whether Colonel Green has attained salvation.
As I made clear, this thread is not a discussion of the "average saved Christian." It is a discussion of a particular theology within the Christian spectrum of views.
If you choose to post on theology, particularly extreme views, I am under no obligation to agree with those extreme views, or to view them uncritically. And yes, if your theology leads to bizarre outcomes and perverse incentives, I am just fine positing a mass murderer. I think it brings the question into the light of day, regardless of your evident desire to throw in an ad for your beliefs and then call names at those who disagree.
Typical ad hominem from Lifer.
On the grounds of the theology alone, there is no reason this ideology would lead to "better" behavior. I have no metrics suggesting this ideology would lead to "better" behavior. In fact, there is a neverending stream of counterexamples in the news to the contrary.
I am glad you said that an adherent of this ideology would act in a certain way. That is a start. But there are no metrics to support you, anecdotal evidence against you, and a theoretical position that would predict the anecdotal evidence already observed.
Interpretations of the Greek bible differ, though the basic mechanics of salvation you describe above can be found, in different strengths, across Christian sects. The notion that a life of feeding the hungry, for example, is the moral equivalent (or is morally inferior to) a life of tormenting the weak, is generally roundly denied across sects. To the extent that the sect emphasizes the theology you have emphasized above, it condones these actions. Salvation is usually considered something in line with morality; this ideology divorces one's morality from one's salvation.
I object to that as a dangerous perversion of a theology which is, in most sects, balanced between works and faith. Many other Christian sects also oppose your singlemindedness on the subject.
Then simply frame it as a conscious acceptance and a subconscious reservation. Do you have any of those? WAIT, you don't know, it's subconscious!!!
You don't think that could work on you when you, say, buy a car or a can of coke? Or better yet, that nice curvy bottle coke use to come in? Of course it can. Sex sells, but if there's one thing that's more primal than sex, it's survival. Religion promises survival when the logical mind says survival ends, but the primal mind insists survival must persist. Religion further threatens eternal pain to those who do not fall in line, and promises eternal reward to those who do. And you're going to tell me that's just an unfortunate coincidence, that religions make their appeal to the masses through precisely the same primal urges that drive marketers?
Why would one invent such a sales pitch?
Doesn't much matter what we believe, does it?
Jesus has taken care of the good Colonel. If he but asks Jesus for forgiveness, recognizing his evil, and recognizing there are another 39219 souls on his conscience, presto, Jesus already has taken care of those by getting nailed to a tree a couple thousand years ago. Colonel Green sleeps easy.
Just as those with petty sins might "slip up" and spend the money for the baby formula at the casino -- AGAIN -- even knowing it was wrong. It was a "moment of weakness," and they promise to do better.
Well they effed up. But that's okay because everybody is always effing up, right? I'm not plugging for a vindictive God here. Don't get me wrong. I agree, in terms of petty sins.
What I find galling is the notion that if people just say "Oh everybody effs up, it's okay," the same people who think Jesus makes it okay, are apoplectic at people who thinks it's just okay to eff up because we're human.
It's one or the other, in my book. You're not perfect. And guess what buddy? You're no more forgiven than anybody else --- not in any objectively demonstrable way.
I used Colonel Green specifically to discuss theology, not the specific religion of an extent historical figure. And I used the extreme example to illustrate the extreme flaws of the interpretation of christianity posited here.
I am certainly fine with the quite adult notion that no supernatural force will magically transport me to another world upon my exit from this one; but to hear that the Almighty has decided that Colonel Green gets the seat of honor, for the mere feat of saying and thinking the right things, and Mother Theresa, for instance, can rot in hell, well, it strikes me as a tad counterintuitive.
But for the "little sins" version of the above, see my Casino/baby formula argument above.
Then you wouldn't call it the "old" testament, would you?
Once again, you seek to establish a Jewish "mirror" religion that is just like your form of protestantism, devoid of its own life, culture, or mores. "What Jews believe" comes from many sources, and you're not well enough versed in those sources to have this discussion, the Hebrew bible included. Beyond that, you have no standing to have this discussion, vis a vis Judaism; I did not try to push it on you or raise it as an example, or for that matter claim that my invisible friend would torture you forever if you did not believe in it.
I can look at any body of literature, in search of proof of another body of literature, and find that proof. It's even easier if the writers of the second body of literature were writing it with the intent of providing that proof.
I understand that many sects within Christianity believe that this is a compelling argument.
But to those not raised in one of the Christian sects just find it quirkily endearing that you like to believe Christianity to be the logical extension of Judaism, and go to such lengths to attempt to create a continuum where there is none.
Colonel Green can accept your Christianity. I can not. So there you go -- you know the bounds of who you can and can not persuade.
Easter actually is a pagan holiday fwiw...
look it up if you don't believe me.
You listen when you want, so I wont go through with you point by point, because are entitled to not believe what I believe. But I would like to respond to this.......
"What I find galling is the notion that if people just say "Oh everybody effs up, it's okay," the same people who think Jesus makes it okay, are apoplectic at people who thinks it's just okay to eff up because we're human.
It's one or the other, in my book. You're not perfect. And guess what buddy? You're no more forgiven than anybody else --- not in any objectively demonstrable way."
WHO is apoplectic at people who think its ok to eff up because we're human?
I sure dont. Or are you generalizing Christians again?
I know im not perfect. But while I may not be more forgiven according to you and what you believe, according to the Bible, because of my acceptance of Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior I am forgiven of my sin. That doesnt make me better than someone who hasnt accepted the lord, just forgiven.
That isnt argueable because it is my belief and my faith. If you disagree, you disagree ,and you are entitled to your belief and to your faith.
A point on this aspect of the argument:
Faith without deeds is dead. Therefore while good deeds or acts are not the defining charactersitic of faith or of salvation, they are an inherent byproduct of true faith and being in a state of salvation. The faith and acceptance is the requirement for salvation, the good works are a manifestation of that state of being.
yes, a good point.
my point is that none of us is there counting up the good deeds and bad deeds and can judge who is Saved and who is not Saved. What you see of me is not everything I am and everything I see in you is not everything you are. God is the judge, so while our good deeds may be an indicator, as you said, they arent the defining characteristic. Because if they were, we would be Saved based on who we are, not who He is. He is the one paid the price, it is only through Him we are Saved.
So "by their fruits ye shall know them."
And therefore, I can with no particular difficulty discern who is saved and who is not saved, correct?
It is not, in fact, at all mysterious who will and will not be saved.
Those who believe correctly will do good deeds. Those who do not, will not do good deeds.
I can tell who is saved by who lives a good and decent life.
I can, in fact, know the will of God vis a vis the question of personal salvation of another: That is, those who act consistently as if they are saved, must in fact be saved. Those who do not, are not.
But that seems to be the opposite of the usual dogma, nu?
do you really wanna go there, PFIV? by Scripture?
you plucked out one verse and tied the whole question of Salvation to it. If you want to make it by scripture, please go to Romans and read the entire book. Go the Gospels where Jesus is clear about saying that He is the way.
For you to think you know who is Saved according to their deeds you have to know every single thing every single person has done or hasnt done in their life.
Peter wasnt always good. He denied Jesus 3 times. According to your rules, he wouldnt be Saved. Paul wouldnt either. Or the thief on the Cross. Or the woman who was to be stoned to death.
Instead of cherry picking verses it is much more useful to to study the Word in its entirety, where the nature of God can be seen in context and things become clearer.
Oh, I only used "By their fruits..." as a neat little summing-up of the logical extension of the argument against Col. Green.
But you are saying that you can tell by one's life whether one is saved, and it is not, in fact, a mystery to others.
You say that because you and your supporters would like to rule out the saving of a Col. Green.
Let us say Col. Green commits mass murder, gets saved, repents, is in a morally ambiguous situation (by his own, flawed, situational lights,) commits mass murder again, repents very very sincerely recognizing the error of his ways, gets forgiven, and gets shot before he can backslide again.
Obviously this is different in scale from someone who tells a fib, gets forgiven, and a year later does it again. But the underlying theology is we are all flawed and all doomed to damnation, unless we accept the proffered messianic figure. Not even for sinning, because that's taken care of by being born. But the thing is, each repeat sin is also forgiven a priori. So the fact that the fibber is "not a little robot" and has fibbed repeatedly, is more than enough to damn the sinner (in addition to the sin of birth, of course.)
But once he's saved, he is forgiven.
How does this differ from the case of Col. Green, other than by degree?
Can I just give you the number of my Pastor?
LOL I think we've all got his number already, albeit by proxy.
In all seriousness, thanks but no thanks
If I might just interject: one's belief is only the first step of who one becomes; how one loves determines one's destination. For example, Jesus shows us how to love even the unforgivable, yet he says "go and sin no more". Therefore, if we want to make Jesus happy, we should not sin. Of course, Jesus love for us is absolute and will never change, but what about our love for him? Are we loving him as much as he loves us? If we are not, then what kind of relationship is that? When we finally meet Jesus will he feel happy to see us, or will he say, "I never knew you"? How much we think about and care about others -- how much we love them -- determines our relationship with them. If we take Jesus' to heart, we will bring him joy; if we do not, we will not.
To me, being forgiven is important in that it means I've been recognized for my imperfection and still am loved; but to truly create an eternal relationship with someone is much more than being forgiven: it means to have a living relationship of love that continues forever.
I believe that kind of love is what Jesus is all about. He is the model of absolute love, and we do well to emulate his effort because surely it takes effort to forgive and love others; nothing is automatic or easy. All loving takes concerted effort. Jesus showed it is possible and fruitful, and he awaits others to join him in that effort.
Just a personal opinion, but if nobody got the idea that loving is fruitful prior to the time of Jesus, I think biologically speaking there'd be no Jesus in the first place.
So the question becomes: What is the Skinner Box for -- i.e., the reward/punishment system?
Since Jesus or God or the deity or deities of your choice can be pleased simply by treating others with lovingkindness? After all, the Buddha had the same message 500 years earlier, and it could be found balanced with other tenets in Judaism and Hinduism. I am sure other less popular faiths filled the same rhetorical niche: to make moral dictates that are better for a society and temper the self-interested momentary destructive impulses of the individual. And that translates to emphasizing our cooperative -- or loving -- nature.
So, we have decided that Jesus likes it when we behave ourselves. But so does the Monotheistic religion that preceded Christianity.
The new emphasis is that of Salvation.
A Salvation emphasis makes sense if the end times are upon us, as Christianity predicates. But it turns out in retrospect, the end times were not upon us, and never were.
So now, we keep talking about a judgement day something like 2000 years overdue, but with the need for salvation -- i.e., being judged worthy -- 2000 years removed, by the delay of the second coming.
Hence, the possibility of the use of salvation as pure marketing tool in a millenia-long effort. But while it's enormously appealing from a marketing point of view, it is, as outlined, flawed from the point of view of justice or incentives.
I don't think the mass murderer who agrees with you is better than the habitual aider of others who disagrees with you.
I believe that if God does so judge us, He is an unjust God.
I believe that calling such a deity "God" undoes the notion that God must be good.
Finally, I do not believe there is any mystery to the point of view that "God's logic is different from Man's logic," and that we must believe that the "unsaved" saint goes to hell because s/he believes incorrectly.
It is an easily understood grassroots organizing device at its bottom, with a flimsy out-of-context biblical excuse, as opposed to the core of Jesus' teaching, which, as you have correctly identified, is the radicalized expression of the "love" (chesed) facet of Judaism.
Respectfully, you are intertwining the above poster's point on establishing a deep and personal love with Christ, with the physical act of love/sex neccessary for the propagation of the species. Obviously physical attraction/desire/sexual urge is an instilled drive, which I believe was placed in man by the Creator. Why create a species to love and to return that love if it will not perpetuate itself? Clearly God wants us to a.) perpetuate our own existance and b.) enjoy the act of procreation. As he told Abraham, "be fruitful and multiply."
I believe the above poster's point, however, was that although we are incapable of offering Christ a truly reciprocal and uncondition love (as he offers us), that must be what we strive for, however imperfectly, nonetheless.
Here you are intertwining morality with Christianity. One does not have to be Christian to have morals. There are many athiests and agnostics and followers of other theologies who are extremely moral, following a code of right and wrong that most people would find completly acceptable and admirable. A moral person is not neccessarily a Christian, nor are they neccessarily saved, however. Without the acceptance of Christ they are admirable and worthy of praise for their deeds, but they are not saved.
Here we find the basic flaw in your above hypothesis that one can determine who is saved by evaluating their deeds. A moral athiest who lives his life as flawlessly as a man can is not saved. Yet to judge him by his actions one would state that he is under your conditions. And one would be incorrect.
Conversely, the priest who by all outward appearances is moral and decent, but who secretly harbors hate in his heart and lacks true faith, is not saved either. But by outward appearances one would deduce that he is. Yet again, one would be wrong.
And although many before him preached of doing well, neither Buddha nor Mohammad nor any other was of one in being with the Father and died for our sins.
Here I agree with you. Understand how deeply connected Judaism and Christianity are. One could say that Christianity is an extension of Judaism. God established a covenent with the Jews, His chosen people. He then established the New Covenant by sending Christ to the world. Christ redifined many of the rules that preceeded him. Salvation did indeed become the new emphasis. No longer relevant were older commadments that God had dictated His people follow- circumscision, the eating of certain foods. All of these dictates were no longer neccessary. There was now only one requirement for salvation: acceptance of Christ as Lord and Messiah.
What do you base this statement on? In the millions of years since the creation of the earth, two millenia is insignificant. To God 2,000 years is the blink of an eye. regardless, salvation and the end of times are not codependent upon on another. Would you not wish to be saved regardless of when the world will end? The vast majority of the population will have seen earthly death well before the Second Coming.
The early Jews thought the Messiah would be sent to save them from the Romans. In actuality, He was sent to liberate them from sin, not in this life, but the next. The end times will come when they will come. Whether it is tommorow, in another two thousand years, or longer. Either way it is rather irrelevant to salvation.
Why is it 2000 years overdue? Would not God allow time for His message to spread before He judges the world based on said acceptance. If Christ walked the earth 2,000 years ago and the judgement happened shortly thereafter, likely no one would have know Christ message. Time has allowed technology to catch up and the Good News to spread - as God planned.
I'm not sure how to respond to the last part of your message. Here you have abandoned logic and allowed emotion to color your statements. Let me peresent you with an excercise in logic:
I. Christ, by His own words stated that He was God and that all salvation would come through Him.
II. His statements must have been either true or false.
III. If they were false, they were either false knowingly or unknowingly false.
IV. If they were knowingly false he was a liar.
V. If they were unknowingly false He was delusional, believing He was God when he was not.
So we have 3 options:
He was Lord, as He claimed to be.
He was a Liar.
He was a Lunatic.
It must be one of the three.
Examine first LIAR. Why would he lie about this. Surely He would have known the persecution he would face from the Romans, the Jewish Pharasees, and the common Jew who expected the Messiah to be a knight who would grant freedom from Rome. Why lie? His claims led to his death.
Examine next LUNATIC. Read Christ's Sermon On the Mount. Many psychiatrist and psychologists have refered to the Sermon on the Mount as one of the best guides to good mental health and hygiene ever recorded. Please read it. I challeng anyone to rad it and come to the conclusion that the speaker was a delusional lunatic.
If you rule out the LIAR and LUNATIC you are only left with LORD. There are no other options. (This is the LORD, LIAR, or LUNATIC excercise created by Josh McDowell.)
As Sir Arthur Conan Doyle said, whenever you eliminate all other possibilities, whatever remains, no matter how unlikely must be true.
Please read, if you are interested in a logical examination of Christ's divinity:
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
More Than A Carpenter by Josh McDowell
The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
Thanks for the dialogue, I have found it most challenging and rewarding. You are a highly intelligent person. I look forward to hearing your critiques of the above books if you find the time.
You touch a number of points, so I would like to isolate on just one for now, the one that is most important, at least for me: love.
To me there are two kinds of love: one is a love that centers on the self ("me"), with the self as the highest of all. "I am the center of the cosmos, the maker of all that I choose to believe or disbelieve; and all things exist to bring pleasure and happiness to me first and foremost." This is the most common form of "love" we see now, as well as what we have seen all throughout history.
There is another kind of love, however, the kind that Jesus spoke of (and lived) when he consolidated all the laws and prophecies of the Mosaic Judaic tradition: "Love God with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul; then, love your fellow man as you love yourself."
The difference between Jesus' view of love and the commonly accepted view on love is due to the fact that Jesus was born without original sin. He was born in the pure true love of God, and thus Jesus could see that no love can surpass God's love, since God is the origin of love and the Creator of all life. In other words, to put love for God first and foremost is to set the template for viewing and relating with first of all one's self and one's place in the cosmos; secondly, it gives one the proper order how one should relate with all other beings in the cosmos.
Love God first and foremost means to love the way of God's creation. The way and the order of God's creation is the way and the order for our own "fitting in" with God's love order, and therefore it is the way for our own eternal peace, joy, and fulfillment.
History shows us that this divine order of love has been broken and distorted from the first human family until today. The Fall of Adam and Eve was the fall of their love from the divine to the rude, crude, and self-centered love that people have inherited down through the ages. The purpose of the Messiah is to set right the order of love, so that it conforms to God's order of love: living for the sake of others. That means to change our order of love from being self-centered to being other-centered. It means to sacrifice one's self -- even to death -- for the sake of love. The only reason why Jesus has been loved, worshiped, and revered for these past two thousand years is because he lived his life as the embodiment of that kind of self-sacrificial Godly love.
If Jesus had lived as everybody else lived, he would have been long forgotten. Jesus' quality of love is what sets him above. And yet, Jesus did not want to be alone, he did not want to live up on a pedestal all by himself. Who would? Nobody wants to live by themselves (normally); we all want to be with others. That is why he said "graft onto me, become a part of the true vine". Divine love is meant for all of us, but it is a choice we all must make. Once we do, our children will have a much better beginning to their lives, and a whole new race of humankind will fill the earth. It will be the "true love race", and the world will become "one family under God". Surely, the conflicts and bloodshed of today cry out for such a coming together of all peoples as one family under God.
I wanted to isolate two of your comments that struck me. I offer my own humble responses:
I. The notion of original sin is a creation of Catholic dogma. The Bible does not preach original sin. It does state that Adam and Eve (whether they were actual individuals or metaphors for God's first populace) introduced sin into the earthly world. Catholics have interpreted this as all individuals being born with an "original sin", which is cleansed at Baptism. Remember that Baptism in Jesus' time was performed after an age of accountability, not when one is a baby. (bear in mind, I am a Catholic and see nothing wrong with babies being Baptised- I just see it as largely cermonial and not neccessary. Infants and children who die before being accountable go to heaven -regardless of being baptised or not.) The Catholic's have introduced many non-biblical notions: Purgatory, Moral/Venial Sins,The Infallability of the Pope. etc.
I think it is more important to recognize that Christ LIVED without COMMITING a sin other than being born without "original sin".
II. Remember, however, that Christ is worshipped and revered because he PROVED his divinity to his contemporaries. It was not merely his message (although, that obviously is crucial), but the fact that he demonstrated command over nature, control over space and time. Jesus' miracles showed his people, who were skeptical of his divinity, that HE WAS GOD.
A message of peace and love is great, but as PFnV said, many before Christ preached a similar message. Christ has been remembered and revered because his command over the physical laws showed his followers that he was GOD. That is why all of the original disciples were so adament in spreading the word - they had seen His divinity - and why all but John (who was exiled) died a martyr's death in trying to tell the world of His divinity.
A few thoughts.
Den, we would (and probably will) founder on the rocks of detail in history, but it's a striking improvement (in my eyes) to emphasize the love you see in the example of Jesus' life, and in his teaching, rather than the sorting-through of who among us is saved or damned.
Today is my last day at a job, with a lot yet left to do, so it wouldn't do to get into the depths of religious debate on this forum this morning.
Let me go now outside both Catholic and Protestant dogma, however, and suggest the following points:
1) To get to historical truth -- which departs from this theological conversation -- we are forced to observe the uses, styles, and historical context (sitz em leben) of various bits of the greek bible.
2) Even sticking with the notion that the greek bible is an accurate document written without purpose or bias, and trusting it to the letter, it is obvious that Jesus did almost all of his preaching to fellow Jews. (personally, I think it was all of it -- but again, that's another conversation.) He has chance encounters with, for example, a Samaritan (that is, someone who worshipped the same God and followed the same commandments of the early Jews, but without ascribing canonical status to writings from the times of the divided monarchy onward)
3) That being the case, and the Jews of the first century remaining un-converted, by and large, it is evident to me that Jesus did not, in fact, succeed in his mission.
4) Paul, on the other hand -- who centered the lion's share of his efforts on gentiles rather than Jews -- was enormously successful in his grassroots efforts. Likewise the church in the time of Paul.
5) In the time of Jesus, the outsider would observe his obsession with the end-times, and his radicalization of preexistent Jewish content. This becomes the nut of the idea of being "saved". Working from a preexistent apocalyptic tradition, Jesus stipulates that Judgement is coming within the lifetimes of his followers. Jesus also observes the letter of the law, and insists his audience go beyond the letter of the law and make their lives testaments to the spirit of the law. For example, he says to love not just your neighbor, but your enemy. He is not saying "instead of," he is saying "in addition to." Whatever the law says, try to see the next step and enact it.
6) Whether or not you believe the works of early Christians who wanted their faith to survive, the Jesus of the bible makes references such as "none come to the father save through the son."
7) From the outside, given the motives of the chroniclers of Jesus' life, there is a great deal of motive to ascribe such sayings to him regardless of historicity. We know that Q - the source from which the synoptic gospel writers worked - probably wrote mere years after Jesus death, certainly fewer than four decades after (probably in the 50s, in fact.) It would be interesting to determine in which sources such sayings do and do not appear. If they appear in all the synoptics, we can say "Jesus = Salvation" was a set policy by the 50s. If we find them in Mark and Matthew but not Luke (just as an example,) that may be an aspect of the retelling introduced later.
8) Regardless, it is evident that Jesus' teaching about Judaism, to Jews, was unsuccessful. Paul et al's teachings to gentiles, about Judaism, was successful. Whatever the merits of first century Judaism -- which indeed enjoyed some prestige around the Roman world at the time in its own right -- the most appealing differences the Christians provided might well have had nothing to do with martyrdom and everything to do with conveniences (such as the lack of a need to do anything particularly foreign, like circumcising children or observing dietary or other laws.)
9) Jesus taught that the entirety of the preexisting Jewish law must be preserved. Paul taught that they should be jettisoned on the strength of various dreams and other subjective evidence.
10) Paul's subjective opinions bore objective fruit, judging by the success of the rebranded faith among the gentiles.
But Jesus would never have lived like that, would he?
Finally: is it not possible that right up there with the convenience of Pauline Christianity, we should list the devolution of the faith into saved/unsaved linedrawing, in a way that never really applied in Judaism? That is to say, the innovation of "convert or face eternal torment" is an expansion of the theme that eternal torment awaits the wicked -- but prior to that time, apocalyptic salvation scenarios were essentially a theologically underdeveloped goad for people to be good, or face being thrown in with the oppressor on the day of judgement.
The apocalyptic goad reaches further exagerration when one brings into play the vivid afterlife beliefs the Christians developed. There is a day of judgement, which is no longer imminent; but now there is also a separate mechanics in an otherworldly realm. You might be cast on the wrong side of the final judgement, but now you might also be subject to a repeat of Nero on earth as well. You might be in an uncorporeal afterlife, but now you also might have to answer to a quite corporeal second coming... etc. Suffice it to say, the post-death world opened up wide and varied vistas in the Christian faith -- and there was a great deal of room for conversations about the state of the "eternal". Waiting forever for a guy to come back, at the same time supposedly believing that we have the mechanics to bypass judgement, can create fertile ground for such discussions.
Whatever the historical origin of this dual salvation system, and the historical patches that make them work together, and the dogmatic text-fitting that justifies these patches, Christianity had a much more robust system of post-death punishments and rewards than first of second century Judaism. Christianity was built with marketing in mind, whereas Judaism was puritanical in its adherence to its central teachings. Beyond that, the actual moral teachings of the religions are very similar.
So there is little reason to believe that the appeal of Christianity to the ancient world is due solely to the remarkable selflessness of Jesus, any more than one could ascribe such success to another faith based on the life of another martyr.
There is too much evidence to the contrary.
Regarding Chesterton's trilemma, it's of mind-bending importance if you're already a convert, but of no interest whatsoever to those who believe that one can be mistaken without being a madman, or who believe that one's words may not always be 100% correctly recorded, particularly after an intervening span of decades, when the recorder has overriding motives to have your words fit a commonly remembered narrative.
Wow. That's a lot to get through.
I see you have encountered the trilemma before. You may have seen it presented by Chesterson and Lewis, but have you read McDowell's spin? (I believe it was he who tagged it "Lord, Liar, or Lunatic". ) If not I reccommend it. It is probably the most accessible to a modern audience.
In regards to the spreading of the Good News being deemed a failure on Jesus's part:
I accept that things were put into motion and guided by God's hand. Yes you can attribute much of the success to Paul or John, but consider this:
Why was Paul changed on the road to Tarsus? Because Paul was to be a major conduit of God's plan. His sucess was predetermined. Why was John's Gospel so effective at dispelling the early Gnostic movement that was arising at the time of it's publication? Again, God's chose the best person to carry out His plan. All of these things were put in motion intentionally.
Over 1/3 of the world's population is Christian. That's two billion people. And save for a few remote parts of the world, the Good News has been made accessible to all who are willing to hear it. failure? hardly.
As a Christian I do accept the accuracy of the Gospels. It is irrelevant when they were written - 10 years, 50 years, or 200 years after Christ walked the earth. The Holy Spirit used the authors to convey God's word. Obviously one must make this leap on faith, not historical evidence.
But let's put aside the hyperbole and psuedo-intellectual arguments for awhile.
One can be assured of Christ's divinity when one opens their heart to Him and accepts Him as Lord, Savior, Counsellor, and Friend. Once you have felt God's hand on your shoulder, no intellectual argument can dissuade you from your faith. You have felt the touch of God and know Him to be true. After experiencing it, there is no longer doubt. Read the last chapter of McDowell's book and you will get a sense of this if you have not experienced it for yourself.
I also urge you to investigate Strobel. he was an athiest and a journalist who set out to write a book DISPROOVING Christ's divinity. The result of his endeavor? His conversion and his book The Case for Christ (and subsequentally The case for Creator).
But again, try opening your heart, my friend, and see if you feel His touch. He will not turn down the invitation, and you will never be the same. What do you have to lose? Has being an athiest/agnostic made your life any better than it was before? There is a God and he wants a personal relationship with each and every one of us. He wants to know you and wants you to know Him. That is why His plan fell into place as it has.
Perhaps that's why you have found this particular forum on this partcicular message board.
Separate names with a comma.