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Passions in Poetry

The Bible

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Brad
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0 posted 11-05-2001 08:54 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I had planned to discuss this in some of the other threads but stumbled across this review.

Of course, you don't have to agree with this interpretation, but I wanted to point out that the Bible was read differently than it was today.

This type of reading is called typological.
http://www.consider.net/forum_new.php3?newTemplate=OpenBookObj ect&newTop=200110290041&newDisplayURN=200110290041


From the text:

"But if Miles's approach to the Bible is in one respect startlingly original, in another it is very traditional. This is a theological, not a historical reading. Miles has returned biblical interpretation, in an ironic, sidelong manner, to its point of origin. The fathers of the Church viewed the Bible as a work without history. Given that all the books of Scripture shared a common origin in the eternal mind of God, any one could be used to shed light on any other. The whole was seen as an intricate system of allegory. Medieval Christians felt free, in Miles's words, "to explore the Bible . . . as if it were a wondrous garden, whose paths and glades and ponds and grottos all intersected in endlessly surprising and delightful ways".

The growth of historical scholarship in the 19th and 20th centuries shattered this innocence. The Bible was now seen as the purely human record of a superhuman history. Its authority, in other words, lay not in itself, but in its relation to an external reality."


Historical verification is only one way to look at the Bible.

Brad

[This message has been edited by Brad (edited 11-05-2001).]

serenity blaze
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1 posted 11-05-2001 09:33 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Is this your viewpoint, or just light dinner conversation? lol...but truly, we must certainly look at how the Bible evolved historically before we can begin to interpret it, yes? or no...and dang if I didn't have other questions on my mind, but now...hmmmm....dangerously thinking again, Brad. I hope to be back. I am being threatened by a total cut off of the internet again...sigh....(seems I have to go crack nuts for Thanksgiving, if this keeps some safe, SOMEONE should be thankful as to my choice of nuts to crack....)

[This message has been edited by serenity (edited 11-05-2001).]

serenity blaze
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2 posted 11-06-2001 12:00 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Okay...am cracking nuts as we "speak"---but please enlighten me as to what is our point of reference here? How and who decided what was made "Canon"? Or Apocrypha? Or Pseudepegrahia? Do we discuss King James--The Septuagent? Do we include the Dead Sea Scrolls? Do we discuss the Council of Nicea? and the so-called politically convenient conversions of those in power? And how much do we rely on Josephus as Biblical historian?
Do we discuss the obvious trade-offs of Hebrew, Sanskrit and Aramaic--to Greek to English to modern "easy English translations?" Various inquisitions, etc.? And are comparisons to be made to Q'ran and Taosim, Buddhism, Gnosticism, Mithraism, Paganism? so much more, so much more...and what of Kabal? Which offers "layered" insights of ancient Jewish mysticism....so many questions. So little time.  

Sorry for so many questions, but you opened a wide door...smile.

Not trying to be a wise ass Brad, but you have found my passion with this topic.
Stephanos
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3 posted 11-06-2001 12:14 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

"I wanted to point out that the Bible was read differently than it was today."

This is not true across the board, but not bad as a generalization.  A friend of mine once said, "Meditation is a lost art in the Church".  The scriptures have traditionally been approached as divine texts.  Any historical dealings were of secondary importance . . . But this all can be a bit deceiving.  Though history was ancillary in things like personal inspiration, interpretation, and exegesis, It's not accurate to assume that it didn't have its place with the early Church Fathers.  The very acceptance of various books of scripture depended on such questions of history, authorship, authenticity, etc...  These were the determinants of canon.

"The fathers of the Church viewed the Bible as a work without history. Given that all the books of Scripture shared a common origin in the eternal mind of God, any one could be used to shed light on any other."

Yes.  This still does not mean that there were no historical considerations.  Were they executed with the rigor of thoroughgoing skepticism as they are today?  No.  They believed it to be a divine book, of timeless application... a living word.  The beauties of scripture were not confined to chronology.  The Old testament revealed the new and vice versa in amazing and unpredictable ways.  So what prevented the book from becoming just a mystical collection of pure allegory?  The reality of it's claims in history.  It's still the same today.  What has changed is the lack of reverence and awe, even in religious circles.  I think maybe that's what you are seeing as the difference.   Of course there were times in history when a  hyper-focus on the spiritual led to over-allegorization of the Bible... and so to heresy.  "Christ didn't really bodily come back to life.  It was an allegory with a spiritual meaning.  The claims of history are the chaff, the inner truth is the precious kernel of wheat".   The so called "Christian" Gnostics said stuff like that.  What is that but plucking the miraculous out of history and so rejecting the exclusive claims of Christianity (and Judaism)?

"The growth of historical scholarship in the 19th and 20th centuries shattered this innocence. The Bible was now seen as the purely human record of a superhuman history. Its authority, in other words, lay not in itself, but in its relation to an external reality."

This growth of historical scholarship also shows that the bible is accurate and not a book of fairy-tails or mere moral platitudes.  Believers are more than make believers when a record proves that it is not a farce or just an oddity of culture  passed down by word of mouth through the generations.  Even as 2 Peter says "For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty".  There is indeed much unseen treasure in the Bible, yet there is alot also to be "eyewitnesses" of.  Though historical analysis leaves us with no test-tube full of undisputable empirical proof, it can provide a high probability for those who don't require the same amount of evidence they might need for a most unlikely and dubious claim.   They don't need the highest degree of external evidence, because such evidence is only confirming what they have already been getting internally by the Spirit.

So I would say yes and no to the above quote.  The Bible has it's authority in an eternal God, whose hand is both in history (external reality) and in the meanings and mysteries of the text itself (internal beauty and charisma).  Without the first the Bible becomes a book of pure philosophy and allegorical pondering, subject to being used to justify and support any outlook.  Without the second, it becomes a dry and insipid chronicler of events with no Mystical author behind them... so the record becomes the ends, when it really should have been the means of coming to know the God behind it all.  Those are the two ditches ...who will walk up the road "preparing the way of the Lord" turning neither to the "right nor the left"?


Stephen.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (edited 11-06-2001).]

Local Rebel
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4 posted 11-06-2001 12:28 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Hmmm... interesting article... I'll have to read the book.  I particularly was impressed with the twist on turning the other cheek.

I would tend to disagree with the statement:

quote:
Given that all the books of Scripture shared a common origin in the eternal mind of God, any one could be used to shed light on any other. The whole was seen as an intricate system of allegory.


While I think this would be true in some instances I don't think it is true in all.... at best it is relative in degree depending upon which book and for what purpose.

To totally divorce history from the Bible would be a mistake -- to remove the text from the context is what is being suggested here -- I would say it's important to know what is going on as the authors write -- and to know what is and is not historically accurate -- what is literal and what is apocryphal, what is true and what is 'truth'.

As Spong pointed out -- to take Ezra and Nehehmiah without the associated protest literature of Ruth would paint a God in favor of genocide -- to take Ezra and Nehemiah out of history and the understanding that they are written from a distinct human perspective makes the Bible seem contradictory -- to use them to shed light on, say, the Song of Songs -- may be possible but a stretch.

I will agree though that it is a mistake as well to try to 'prove' the Bible and would also agree with Joachim Rehork in his postscript to Keller's 'Bible as History'

quote:

There is no lack of scholars -- among them historians, theologians, philologists and archaeologists -- who after conscientious examination of the Biblical tradition have come to the conclusion that fundamentally it is of secondary importance whether the facts reported in the Bible are correct or not.  According to them, the Bible is primarily 'prophecy'.  It is a religious message, made known with the means available at the time of its origin, or rather the different times of its origin, for the Bible is the extraordinarily complex product of numersous 'growth strata' which in the course of centuries produced the 'Bible'....The Bible cannot be 'proved' as a document of faith, nor for the believer can it be convincingly disproved, for belief begins where knowledge and proof have their limit."





Local Rebel
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5 posted 11-06-2001 12:39 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Serenity, I think exploring the questions of canonization would be productive to the subject -- going too far into (for these purposes) the abstractions of other religions could be too complex -- although the influences of Zoroastrianism, Greek Orphism, Mithriasm, and Gnosticism would probably have to be considered (in other words -- those adjacent to the context of the 'Bible' -- particularly on the subject of Satan who did not show up in Hebrew literature until the Zoroastrian influence during captivity.
Stephanos
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6 posted 11-06-2001 12:46 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

I have to agree with Local Rebel on the point of context.  Context is very important as to interpretation... Though I'm not saying scripture is confined to the exact circumstances and time in which it was written.  For example the claim of the article about possibly saying Jesus meant slaves to rebel by "turning the other cheek".  This is far fetched and hoplessly doubtful in light of context.  Jesus (in the Gospels ...not apocryphal works) delivered a fairly homogenious body of teaching... though some of his sayings were admittedly paradoxical.  He also portrayed a definite character which culminated in the death on the cross, where he prayed "Father forgive them for they know not what they do".  Humility and prayer for enemies was taught so many times (in word and action) that to interpret turning the cheek as a defiant rebellion is not even close to being a serious consideration... that is of course unless you debunk the historical questions altogether and make the Bible a hodge-podge of mystical allegory... For then it can mean anything you want it to mean.  

Stephen.
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7 posted 11-06-2001 01:02 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Okay guys....just needed to know where this was going. I thank you and be patient with me, as I do have more to say on this subject--now that I have a better view of what the subject IS. (Okay, okay, sometimes I make people wait up for me, but the view is better with a slower walk sometimes!
serenity blaze
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8 posted 11-06-2001 01:37 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Stepen, I do have some problems understanding here. The Bible HAD to be read differently in the past as it reads differently in its original language of text.
I agree with most of parapgraph two, but you leave out the importance of POLITICS, in the final consideration of what was to be considered "Canon." And this was not a matter of mere, "who ya gonna vote for?" Not when your neck rode on the chopping block of the voting booth. There is more to this story, but THIS time, I will find my sources (Thanks Brad and Local Reb--grin I RTFM!!!)

Which is why I brought up the context of original language...as most know--Hebrew is also a NUMERICAL language--and a system of kabbalic meditation. Each letter having an alphabetical, numerical and meditative point, all which stands in reference to one another.

There was much arguement and dissension over what was considered "Canon" or "the inspired word of God". But one cannot discount the historical ramifications of, for the sake of argument, one scribe, going against a KING.

The reason I brought up the other "offshoots"of Christianity is that I wish to point out that they quite often and most did PRE-DATE Christianity. I would like to ponder further the historical necessity of why that might be.

Stephen, I find the last paragraph of your statement particularly interesting and agree more than you might think. It is very close to the comparisoned study of Jewish mysticism--and I hope to be back with more concise references on the morrow, but until then, it's like "looking through a glass onion."

And Reb, will get back to you on the disagreed quote. I agree with Stephan that meditation is a lost art of the church, and it may be argued that is because it encourages independant thinking....to discover the language of one's one subconscious sometimes means we have to disregard the indoctrination of our family, our society, ad nauseum....And here is where we get to the delicacy of this subject, which is that this is a highly personal subject, entirely relative to our own language of mindset. As is everything, I suppose.

But personally? I choose to look for the similarities; I have used this analogy before: It's easier to put a jigsaw puzzle together, by grouping like pieces together and then fitting them in larger pieces.

Great Stuff here, I'm chewing on the bone. Grin....
Brad
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9 posted 11-07-2001 05:00 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Serenity,

You threw me for a loop when you asked if I actually believed this. I don't know what I believe when it comes to this stuff. I know the Bible is an amazing text, I'm fascinated by it, but I can't say if I believe.

The question no longer interests me.

As far as typology is concerned, the anchor is in the other books. Each book prefigures the other, it's a kind multiple camera angle approach to reading (Faulkner comes to mind or even Quentin Terrantino). All the books are essentially the Word of God and all are essentially about Christ.

Really, all's I wanted to show was that historical accuracy is a fairly recent way of reading the Bible.

Brad
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10 posted 11-07-2001 06:44 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Ah, Brad, it's just as well....looks like I'll have plenty of time to dust off my books anyway. I'm being forced to move you see, and have been dragging my feet about it--so now, they have figured out that I will go wherever my pc goes, sigh....and that will be the first thing packed up.

FOILED AGAIN!!!!
serenity blaze
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11 posted 11-08-2001 01:10 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Brad---
Sorry, have been re-reading and must wonder about your statement, "the answer is the other books." Not sure what you mean by that--and also, the idea that every book of the Bible is about Jesus Christ is another matter of perception-- one of the major disagreements of Judaism and Christianity...There is the Old Testament, which can be interpreted as the coming of the Jesus as the prophesized messiah--but again, it's a matter of personal perception.

But I must state that I realize this can be a volatile subject---according to my interpretations of both testaments---as well as the lesser known rejected books---which I consider the DNA (or at least an indicator) of the non-christian oriented roots of religion--that this is a highly personal path; and I want to state that in no way, in any way, do I consider my opinion of interpretation higher or even more correct. (What's right for me, may not be right for YOU.) I am simply interested in HEARING about it. So any who might read, please don't misunderstand. I stand in no judgement.
There just aren't too many around here that I can discuss these things with.

And so, I will close (in a nutshell, since I seemed to have acquired more than a few) that I believe, that more than the BELIEF--
it is the process of Believing that is the most important aspect of religous faith.

Smiles and hugs to all.
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12 posted 11-08-2001 10:42 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

I Just wanted to recommend a book  which may be of some interest...  It's a book by Lee Strobel called "The Case for Christ".  He was an award winning journalist for the Chicago Tribune for 13 years who basically set out to investigate the claims of Jesus Christ and the Bible just as he would investigate anything else .  He began the investigation as an absolute skeptic of Christianity in order to disprove it, and finished believing it to be true.  But the book answers many questions about the validity of scripture as accurate historical records of the life of Jesus , and also covers the canonization of scripture (which we touched on) among many other things.  


"The question no longer interests me."

Brad,

With the possibility of so much at stake as the Bible suggests,  then why not renew your interest?  

" I believe, that more than the BELIEF--
it is the process of Believing that is the most important aspect of religous faith."

Serenity,

It seems to me that you are saying that it doesn't matter what you believe as long as you believe in something.  But what if in the Spiritual world, it is possible to be mistaken, just like in the temporal / physical world?  If this is the case then what you believe in is way more important than an indiscriminate "believing".  The "all roads go the same place" idea sounds good and free.  But if we practiced this in real life, we'd never find our way to work, or back home, or anywhere else.

Stephen.  
Brad
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13 posted 11-08-2001 11:02 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Serenity,

I was reading through this and I agree with most of what you said but I'd thought I'd elaborate my own views a bit:

"Sorry, have been re-reading and must wonder about your statement, "the answer is the other books."

--I think I said anchor but what I mean is that this particular interpretive approach works within the Bible itself. It doesn't use an outside source to verify an interpretation, it uses other parts of the Bible to verify it. That's all.

and also, the idea that every book of the Bible is about Jesus Christ is another matter of perception--

--If by perception, you mean interpretation I agree. The problem I have with perception here is that you seem to imply we can escape the limitations of perception.  We can't, it's all perception.

--Now Stephen might come in right about now and tell me, no, you can't guarantee that we can't get out of perception, that there isn't an unmediated experience of something and he's right. I just argue that that experience is not transferrable in language.

But I must state that I realize this can be a volatile subject

--Indeed it is.

---according to my interpretations of both testaments---as well as the lesser known rejected books---which I consider the DNA (or at least an indicator) of the non-christian oriented roots of religion--that this is a highly personal path;

--I agree but, again, I don't think there's anything outside the personal. More precisely, just as the personal creates the public, the public creates the personal.


and I want to state that in no way, in any way, do I consider my opinion of interpretation higher or even more correct. (What's right for me, may not be right for YOU.)

--This has always been a sticking point for me. Let me decide what's right for me but in order to do that let me know what you think is right. Higher or more correct interpretations aren't all that important in the world I see, more persuasive one's are.

I am simply interested in HEARING about it.

--Me too, me too.

So any who might read, please don't misunderstand. I stand in no judgement.

--No, I think you judge all the time, I think everybody does. What you mean here is that you make no final judgements, no irrevocable, no irreversible, statements. I think that's a good way to be.


There just aren't too many around here that I can discuss these things with.

--But you can do it here.    

--It's what this forum is for.

And so, I will close (in a nutshell, since I seemed to have acquired more than a few) that I believe, that more than the BELIEF--
it is the process of Believing that is the most important aspect of religous faith.

--Uh, geeze, that sounds like something I would say.

Brad
Brad
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14 posted 11-08-2001 11:15 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

"With the possibility of so much at stake as the Bible suggests,  then why not renew your interest?"

--You never know. I've changed my mind so many times on things that I don't try to predict what I'll be thinking in a few years.

--I think, however, a renewed interest in spirituality would require something like a transcendental experience and I've never had one of those.

Brad  
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15 posted 11-09-2001 01:27 PM       View Profile for Interloper   Email Interloper   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Interloper

Brad,

You know, that (transcendentalism) was real popular in the 1960's and it eventually faded from existence.  You may never have one since you are more likely to be struck by lightning, twice

You mind has changed many time over the years ... it won't when you find the truth.

Jamie
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16 posted 11-09-2001 03:17 PM       View Profile for Jamie   Email Jamie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Jamie's Home Page   View IP for Jamie

...until of course what was thought to be the truth is determined to be in error, or until we fall off the face of the flat earth, whichever comes first.

There is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar.
byron

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17 posted 11-09-2001 08:55 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Thank you Jamie, you did say what I intended.
No target intended, I just, as a personal rule, never say NEVER---and to presume that one has come to a final place of understanding, in my viewpoint, is paralysis, not to mention arrogance, not to mention that scripturally, even by the strictest standard of interpretation is...well?

"Forboden!!!"
And dangerous. It's the common denominator of despots.

(Got me there, Brad, I guess I DO judge, but then, mustn't we?)
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18 posted 11-10-2001 07:57 PM       View Profile for Jamie   Email Jamie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Jamie's Home Page   View IP for Jamie

and you said what I meant...heh

There is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar.
byron

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19 posted 11-10-2001 10:12 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Brad? I too am confused as to how you can claim fascination while losing personal interest? And as to my misreading of anchor to answer...they are so close that I did not delve into the deeper ramifications. And I DO agree with you that the Bible is personal perception, as is ALL. I will state further tho, that the best explanation is that Godhead is energy, it simply IS--and acquires the aspects of personal trajectory. The point is not the negative or the positive, just the fact that it IS--and how we each desire to utilize that aspect of energy.

Interloper? Transcendentalism? Did not go the way of sixties daisies and electric kool aid---It was not born there and did not die with the seventies---(okay the eighties are debatable, grin) But it IS alive and well, I promise you. I am living proof. Smiles, please?

Stephen---All I am saying is that it is a personal path---according to the conclusions that I have drawn, I could no more show you the way to Nirvana than I could show you the way to your heart.

Local Reb? Methinks you understand where I'm coming from.

and Jamie...just came back to offer a hug...

(and so what, I'm cheating...."Let's alert the media"---grin)

(serenity exits, typing quietly....)

[This message has been edited by serenity (edited 11-10-2001).]

Brad
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20 posted 11-11-2001 02:58 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I have no interest in questions of Final Truth or of Objective Truth, I have a lot of interest in questions of what different people believe.  

But since I don't believe in Purity either, if I think I see something wrong, I'll try to point that out. By doing so, I don't pretend to have a higher source of knowledge, just the ability to think for myself.

Brad
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21 posted 11-11-2001 03:26 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

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22 posted 11-13-2001 10:56 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Serenity,

It sounds like your view of God is a Pantheistic one . . . where God is like an impersonal force expressing itself through nature and humanity (thus  through the creation it/ he has taken on a type of  personality).  And your take on the "positive and negative", makes me think of concepts of dualism, primarily from nature.  So God in this context is not really Good or Evil he just is . . . his character and morality get blurred as he is percieved totally from the created universe (because the universe is a mixture of good and evil).  He becomes more like "The Force" than a God with any definite will.  It seems Brad might hold a similar view (though he may not call it "god") as he cannot see "purity" in the sense of righteousness, or moral excellence.  It is hard to envision such things when your worldview refuses to accomodate it.  

However, it's harder still to shake the haunting intimations of good and bad, right and wrong, moral and immoral within the conscience.  It is what the apostle Paul referred to when he wrote about  "The Law written on their hearts", and what C.S. Lewis called "The Moral law, or natural law".  Deep within us all is a sense of morality, and also a sense of failure to live up to even our own standard (which is an imperfect shadow of God's Moral law).  The Bible calls this "Sin".  "Missing the mark" in the Greek.

I do not condemn any for feeling that a Pantheistic view of reality is right.  I did also at one time.  It's really the natural bent of the human mind to think of God in such terms, until a greater revelation comes.  There is one great problem with Pantheism in my estimate, and from the overall viewpoint of the Bible.  It has been around nearly forever... one of the oldest of religious mindsets.  But it still doesn't take care of the problem of our sins.  If pantheism was enough for humanity to learn enlightenment, then Jesus Christ was a lunitic.  His death was wasteful and meaningless if through meditation and oneness with the universe we could achieve the "ultimate".  Religions of this kind abounded when Christ came.  Hinduism for example is very ancient.   If I believed this way as some, I would utterly reject the Bible as foolishness.  And Jesus Christ would hold no attraction to me.  I would not as some do, patronize  him as a good moral teacher or prophet or ascended master ... he was decieved and a fool if his worldview was the wrong one... and the apostles were wrong who interpreted his death on the cross as the redemptive cure for the sins of humanity.  

But I know more than anything else that I need the forgiveness of sins.  I hope each one of you will come to the realization that you need this too.  God is real, and very much personal.  He punishes sin.  His judgement hangs over the head of everyone.  But he demonstrated his love for us in Christ.  Because of his death we are ransomed if we believe.  

I only ask that you pray... seek your heart.  And If you do not believe this, make very sure that it isn't true.  So much is at stake.  We all need salvation.  

Stephen.

Brad
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since 08-20-99
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Jejudo, South Korea


23 posted 11-14-2001 02:58 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Stephen,

"It seems Brad might hold a similar view (though he may not call it "god") as he cannot see "purity" in the sense of righteousness, or moral excellence."

--I laughed when I read that. But what I don't understand is why I need have a view of any type of God/god or no God/god? I'm not trying to criticize the belief but I just don't see a reason to believe in any kind of metaphysical/transcendental system. In the same way that I don't worry about an asteroid hitting the Earth when I'm teaching a class (I worry about getting the right tricks together to motivate the students to learn), I see no need to have an overall metaphysical belief system.  

"Deep within us all is a sense of morality"

--Perhaps, but what I see is the fighteningly easy ability to shun this morality and to use any metaphysical approach as a way of separating the 'us' from the 'them'.  I'm stuck, at the moment, in believing that any system will be used to kill other people in the name of something that can never be shown to have accessible results.  Medieval Christian Europe was not a nice place to live.  

"If I believed this way as some, I would utterly reject the Bible as foolishness.  And Jesus Christ would hold no attraction to me.  I would not as some do, patronize  him as a good moral teacher or prophet or ascended master ... he was decieved and a fool if his worldview was the wrong one... and the apostles were wrong who interpreted his death on the cross as the redemptive cure for the sins of humanity."

I have two objections here:

First, there is simply no reason that a non-believer can't find interesting and useful things in the Bible and thereby make his or her life better.  I don't believe in Plato's conception of truth but that doesn't mean I shouldn't read him. It's not patronizing to read the Bible unless by this you mean one throws out an off-the-cuff remark in passing with a smug smile as a way of closing the conversation (but that's always patronizing). Don't confuse those who look for a way to end conversation with those of us who may not share your belief system but are always interested in listening to different ways of looking at things.

Second, you don't seem to realize that it should never be seen as a whole or nothing. Believing in certain things Jesus said and not believing in others can be a starting point for believing in the whole thing (or it may not). We shouldn't reject any thinking out of hand because we now think they've got some parts wrong. The Bible may not change, but we do.    

It's precisely this type of thinking that makes me turn away from ideas like Purity and Truth. We have a life to live, a live of limited perception, I don't think we should reject things so quickly. We have to make choices of course, we can't study everything but only a plurality of choices allows us to enrich our lives in different and unexpected ways.

Brad
Stephanos
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24 posted 11-14-2001 11:59 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Brad,

In am in no way speaking about those who find good things in the Bible, or the teachings of Jesus, or anything else, and use them to improve their lives.   Because,  I agree that there is much in scripture and especially from Christ that would benefit anyone (believer or not) who practiced it.  He taught principles that work.  He taught a very good moral system.


What I am trying to express is, that this was peripheral to his main objective.  The doctrine of morality was already around to set the backdrop for what he would do.  He just reiterated it, augmented it, and showed what it (the law) was for.   The world as a whole was not lacking in good moral teachers.  Judaism itself into whom Jesus was born had profound moral teaching as their foundation... they had the writings of Moses and the Prophets.  The rest of the world had theirs too ... Buddha, Socrates, etc...   Most religious belief systems taught morality quite well.  But here was a man who came to believe that his ministry to the world was not just one of teaching.  Reading his accounts, its easy to see that he felt that he was destined to accomplish something.  He read such things as the writings of Isaiah . . . "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquites" . . . and saw himself.  He understood and foresaw that his death somehow before God would be a peace offering to provide  forgiveness to sinners.  


I think you may have misunderstood me earlier.  What I was trying to express is that there are those (usually embracing pantheism) who will say that Jesus' main message was one of love and spirituality as a means to get closer to God ...of our own accord.  So his life becomes, in their mind, one more example among many.  He was another spiritual pioneer who got alot closer than any of us, to show us we can do it,  another guru to be admired.  But if you honestly read in entirety the accounts of him in the gospels... Matthew, Mark, Luke, John... or even just one of them, you will see that this was not the message.  Then if you get a sneaking suspicion that he meant to be much more than a good moral teacher, go on and read the writings of the men who saw him and heard him (not the apocryphal writings written several centuries later by second and third handers) and see how they interpreted his life.  He accomplished something according to the gospels, and according to the men who knew him, that was unprecedented spiritually.  He bridged the gap (caused by sin) between God and humanity.  


“there is simply no reason that a non-believer can't find interesting and useful things in the Bible and thereby make his or her life better.”

Brad, I agree.  I am not speaking against picking and choosing good advice from the Judeo-Christian world view. . .  and if this is where you are then good.  I am a practical man myself.  If it works good, use it.  What I am trying to show is that many who have a belief that we can come to peace with God, or the ultimate reality, through our own efforts, often try to present Jesus as basically teaching the same thing.  They misconstrue the system he presented.  This is not being honest.  If a person is Pantheistic, Agnostic, New age, or whatever, and believes so, then okay.  I will say that I think he or she is wrong, but I know that everyone has to decide for themselves.  But when the gospel of Jesus is said to be saying something that it just isn’t,  I have to speak out.  For the record Brad I have never heard You do so.  I think you have been more honest than that.  Forgive me if what I said came across that way.   Your admiration of some things in scripture, is not what I am speaking of.  I’m not even against  an atheist saying “I like this teaching of Jesus,  ‘Love your enemies’, it makes the world a better place. “  This is not the same thing as misconstruing his words to support a believe system for which we can find no consistent evidence that it was held by him.  That is the difference between patronizing and admiring.

You also said...


“ I'm stuck, at the moment, in believing that any system will be used to kill other people in the name of something that can never be shown to have accessible results.  Medieval Christian Europe was not a nice place to live.”

Unfortunately you are right.  How often have people attempted to spearhead their agendas, even thinking they are helping God out.  Constantine, the crusaders, and many other sad accounts in history tell this bloody story.  But Jesus himself shunned any such way of bringing about the “Kingdom of God”.  Especially notable is his memorable rebuke of Peter for striking a guard with the sword, on the night of his own arrest... “Those who live by the sword will die by the sword”. As Ghandi said once ... (I’m paraphrasing) ... “I like your Christ, I just don’t like your Christians”.  But how many more Christians (also holding an exclusive world view ) have not shunned their morality and rightly overcame evil with good.  “Do not resist an evil man” ... this is what Jesus taught and demonstrated all his life.   Do a few bad students negate education?  Holding a particuar world view that doesn’t admit to all others being valid, does not mean that you have to be a part of the wrong way of propagating it.  The ends doesn’t justify the means, when the means is wrong.  And when the means is wrong the end usually is also.   This kind of thing makes me sadder than you.  

Stephen
 
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