Statesboro, GA, USA
So, what is labeled as "cult" today, and I have heard those in the majority call them "whacky cults" or "of the devil cults" etc., since they are in the minority, their size can be irrelevant to the truth too?
Yes, of course size can be irrelevant to the truth too. I've never heard anyone call a religious movement a "cult" based upon mere size ... such a label is usually based upon practice and doctrine.
How about those people a few years back, who all gave their lives to catch a ride in the comet up in space in order to meet their God. They died for their religion, was that suicide?
Why wouldn't it be suicide? What's the definition of suicide? Didn't they take their own lives, by their own hand? The article in discussion involves someone else doing the killing. True martyrs do not desire death, they only think a loyal death would be better than a faithless life, and so choose not to recant their wedding vows. See the difference?
Death is easy to talk about until you’ve seen it
You're right, it certainly is. And that's why I always wonder at atheistic confidence about one's dying day. You'll certainly find no boasting on my part, about how willing and able I am to suffer for Christ. I can only take it day by day, and pray that by his grace, I may do well.
no angels coming by to take anyone anything anywhere ever. And all you have is a corpse, like a rat, or a dead dog.
Living people have seen angels. People who have been rescusitated have reported seeing both angelic scenes, and horrific ones ... giving some validity to the doctrine of life beyond death. Though I'm wary of believing every instance of supernatural experience I hear, I don't cynically think that they are all merely imagined. To do so certainly takes one beyond the pale of science also, and lands one in another kind of "faith" assertion.
And the conclusion that you will forever be no better than a dead rat or dog, supplies it's own criticism. It doesn't fit our psychology of hope, nor our habits of self image. Neither does it do justice to the overwhelmingly high percentage of belief that there is some kind of life after death ... other than by calling it a foolish form of wish-fulfillment or denial. (Though It's often overlooked that atheism itself can also be explained in terms of wish fulfillment- ie, not wanting a Judgement day, or any moral contraints beyond the self).
Neither does it fit with history, as there is at least one who was reported to be raised from the dead. The history isn't easily explained away, if one takes the time to try and test the alternatives to a corporeal ressurrection of Jesus, in explaining the growth and vitality of the early Christian Church ... which could have all been ended by something as simple as producing a body, on the part of the Romans or the Jews. And as for disciples who had hoped for a political Messiah, would their discouragement and dashed hopes have motivated them to steal away the corpse, and proclaim that he was raised from the dead, if he had really not been? Especially when such a doctrine, would make them enemies of an entire Judaistic culture of which they were part, and even sympathetic to?
Of course, there is always room for doubt, even in the face of extreme plausibility. Even Jesus' disciples on the Emmaus road doubted. And to that, I'll give you a couple of authors who have answered well ...
"One word, Ma'am ... All you've been saying is quite right, I shouldn't wonder. I'm a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won't deny any of what you said. But there's one thing more to be said even so. Supposed we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things- trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to stand by the play world. I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can, even if there isn't any Narnia."
(Puddleglum talks to the Queen of Underland- from "The Silver Chair" by C.S. Lewis)
"Something analogous to the difference we have pointed out in the experience of the two and the ten disciples in connection with belief in the resurrection may be found in the ways by which different Christians now are brought to faith. The evidences of Christianity are commonly divided into two great categories--the external and the internal; the one drawn from outward historical facts, the other from the adaptation of the gospel to man's nature and needs. Both sorts of evidence are necessary to a perfect faith, just as both sorts of vision, the outward and the inward, were necessary to make the disciples thorough believers in the fact of the resurrection. But some begin with the one, some with the other. Some are convinced first that the gospel story is true, and then perhaps long after waken up to a sense of the importance and preciousness of the things which it relates. Others, again, are like Cleopas and his companion; so engrossed with their own thoughts as to be incapable of appreciating or seeing facts, requiring first to have the eyes of their understanding enlightened to see the beauty and the worthiness of the truth as it is in Jesus. They may at one time have had a kind of traditional faith in the facts as sufficiently well attested. But they have lost that faith, it may be not without regret. They are skeptics, and yet they are sad because they are so, and feel that it was better with them when, like others, they believed. Yet, though they attempt it, they cannot restore their faith by a study of mere external evidences. They read books dealing in such evidences, but they are not much impressed by them. Their eyes are holden, and they know not Christ coming to them in that outward way. But He reveals Himself to them in another manner. By hidden discourse with their spirits He conveys into their minds a powerful sense of the moral grandeur of the Christian faith, making them feel that, true or not, it is at least worthy to be true. Then their hearts begin to burn: they hope that what is so beautiful may turn out to be objectively true; the question of the external evidences assumes a new interest to their minds; they inquire, they read, they look; and, lo, they see Jesus revived, a true historical person for them: risen out of the grave of doubt to live for evermore the sun of their souls, more precious for the temporary loss; coming
"Apparelled in more precious habit,
More moving, delicate, and full of life,
into the eye and prospect of their soul,"
(A.B. Bruce, The Training of The Twelve)
[This message has been edited by Stephanos (03-22-2006 01:01 AM).]