Statesboro, GA, USA
I'd have to diagree, it wasn't the GOD of Judaism but the LAWS of Judaism that were the path to the God.
There is truth in what you say. But a half of a truth, is still only part of the picture. The restrospective aspect of the New Testament tells us (in so many words) that the typical Jewish response to the Law was an inappropriate reliance upon externals, a tendency of treating God as if he were a debtor, and a general feeling of self righteousness and superiority. They kept rules, but forgot about what the rules were really about.
Here's something that many people are not clear about, when it comes to the Old Testament. The rules always were secondary to relationship. It always was supposed to lead to a greater revelation than just "try harder".
That's why in addition to Paul telling us that the law was "a schoolmaster" to lead to the Messiah, we also have much foreshadowing, and mixtures of something deeper than the law tucked right there in the words of Old Testament prophets. Such as ...
"I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings" (Hosea 6:6)
"With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:6-8)
"You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it. You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" (Psalm 51:16,17)
Such passages suggest to me that the most insightful Jews understood that the Law (expressed by words like "sacrifice", "burnt offerings", "oil", "rams", etc...) was nothing in itself. It was rather right heart in relationship with God.
I'd also argue against christianity as we know it being natural at all let alone 'the most natural thing in the world.' From the hand of Saul of Tarsus to it's concessions to Roman audiences there is little evidence of a 'natural' progression.
I never suggested that Christianity is essentially the same as Judaism. It is radically different in many ways .. which is why it didn't turn out to be just another jewish sect. But that doesn't mean that the "natural progression" isn't there. Just like, having never seen it, you could hardly guess or anticipate a tree coming from a seed.
While it holds similarities, Christianity and it's rituals are enough of a variance from Judaism to be included with the other examples. I'd also argue, and billions of Jews would agree, that the fulfillment of Judaism has yet to arrive.
I guess it depends upon which view you hold, as to what the Jewish religion actually was. Was it a man-made world view, culture, and way of life? Or was it a revelation given to a group of people from God himself? In other words, is there any objectivity to it, or is it all subjective? Does it stand upon it's own, or is it defined by the Jew who claimed it was defined in Heaven? If you hold the first view, then I guess ultimately the Old Testament means what the Jew says it means, and therefore must be fulfilled according to his liking. If the latter view is held, (Which is what the Jews themselves actually claim) there is at least the possibility of misinterpretation ... even that "billions of Jews" might have gotten it wrong.
Ah, but you say sin notwithstanding, which I assume agrees that those who are sinful are no better than beasts. If so, in christian thinking, an unbaptized child, has the original sin hanging over his head. Therefore the priest's comments were in accordance. A sin is a sin.
Your assumption is one which is unnecessary ... even unsupported by the Bible. It's too simplistic. To me, your reasoning goes like this ... "God tells us that sin may ultimately ruin us .. therefore he hates us as if we were already ruined and beyond redemption". You might reply that the Bible does teach that we are already "ruined", that sin has made our righteousness "as fithly rags", and that the Church has always taught human depravity alongside the doctrine of original sin. And you are right, in a sense. If left to our own devices, the fatal wound of the fall would invariably result in irreversible ruin (hell). But what God tells us about our own vantage point, he denies from his own. The Christian view is that Christ loved us "while we were yet sinners" and "at enmity with God", enough to die for us and bring us into a new standing with him. Now in light of that, how can you say that God thinks we're no better than animals? If that's the case, he thinks very highly of such "animals", enough to give the life of his son.
And if god can hold men in contempt than a child as well.
Okay, there may be some truth in what the priest said ... though very poorly expressed in my opinion (then again, all I have to go on is what you say ... but if you quote this priest like you quote the Bible, I may be missing something) . For God sees this child's life, not within the confines of time, in freeze-frames, but as a whole. Transcending time, he knows who this child will be when he or she grows up. So this child, having yet committed no wrong, is still in the same general predicament as all of us ... as one who will end up sinning, willfully and eagerly, and therefore apart from the Grace of God, is destined for ruin. But it is the very grace of God which has declared that "God so loved the world", even this very child, "that he gave his only begotten son". Does that sound like God deems this child no better than a beast? Hardly. Half of the truth always ends up being wrong, because it is only half the truth. Mercy still triumphs over Judgement.
A merciful God would accept the uniqueness and indivulaity of his creation and allow more than one path.
You must mean by "allow more than one path", that God should make all paths the same. But they are different paths, with exclusive and contradictory claims. That's like asking God to let A = non-A, just becuase we want him to. And the path of Christianity has nothing to do with God not liking diversity. Diversity is still allowed.
It also sounds like a number of other religions because, in essence, they all teach the same principles.
They all teach the same morals. I agree. I recognize common truth in all religions. But to say that morality is the "essential" teaching of all religions, is to misunderstand them. Really you seem to be saying not so much about these varying religions, but that, to you, morality is the most important aspect of them all. But foundationally, why is morality so important to you?
My path is a direct one, me to God. If he can't accept that, then where lies the mercy?
Who is God? You've denied the need for such cumbersome things as dogma and doctrine. Since you value morality, and claim a direct link to God, I'm assuming that your God must have a high moral standard, and must value things like "compassion, kindness, and love". So tell me in more definite terms, is God moral, amoral, or immoral? Let's pretend that I'm interested in getting to know more about your God ... help me understand him.
Does your God accept as equally valuable any path, even one of abject immorality? Wouldn't he have to do so in order to be "merciful", according to your definition of mercy? You obviously hold a standard that says that morality is better than immorality. Does your God hold that same standard?
But as an omniescent and all merciful God one would think he would be ABOVE the petty emotions of his lowly creations. We are created in his likeness correct? If men can be open-minded and accepting of change I'd like to assume a diety capable of the same.
He may be above our emotions, but he is certainly not below them. Moral indifference is usually a contemptible thing in most cultures. Are your moral views about the necessity of compassion and love also "petty"? Remember that in praising love, you are automatically rebuking hatred. In elevating compassion, you are at the same time chiding any lack of it. I guess for God to be above such "pettiness", he would have to be for love and hatred, an advocate of compassion and cruelty?
[This message has been edited by Stephanos (05-18-2004 06:41 AM).]