16 October 2005

Top 10 Things You Know for Certain

"What we think about and how deeply we think about it will determine how we live." --Dr. R.C. Sproul

This morning, Dr. Sproul challenged us to come up with a list of 10 things we know for certain. He said if the list has stuff like age, phone number, and address, then it's pretty clear that we're not thinking very hard about deeply profound things. The whole background for this list is based on Philippians 4:8:

"...whatever things are true . . .whatever things are honorable . . .whatever things are right . . .whatever things are pure . . .whatever things are lovely . . .whatever things are of good repute, if anything of is of excellence or worthy of priase, dwell on these things."
So, here's 10 things I know for certain:
1. God exists.
2. His Son, Jesus Christ, is my Saviour.
3. He redeemed me, not because he knew I would choose saving faith, but he gave me the ability to choose saving faith because he predestined me for redemption.
4. God doesn't need any help to heal the body.
5. Refined white sugar and white flour cause insulin spikes and lead to obesity among numerous other conditions and diseases.
6. Pain is a symptom that's ultimately expressed in the limbic system of the brain.
7. If one's spine loses it's ideal global posture, the result is a stretching of the spinal cord which affects nerve flow and subsequent organ function.
8. The worst posture for the spine is seated posture--a sedentary lifestyle.
9. Chiropractic works! But, it works even better in conjunction with a healthy physical, spiritual, and emotional lifestyle.
10. God knows the number of my days, the hairs on my head, and everything that I have done or will do.
So, what's your list of Top Ten Things YOU Know for Certain?

59 Comments:

Anonymous Kristen C said...

Dolly,
Why did Dr. Sproul use the word "certain?" That Bible verse says nothing about certainty, only true and holy and right and pure. I think we can think deeply about things without knowing that any of it is "certain." God could make his presence certain to us at any second, but He chooses to retain His mystery.
Often I wish Christians (and all spiritual people) would worry less about certainty and more about compassion for others and holy living.

19 October, 2005 15:58  
Blogger Dolly said...

K:
RC wasn’t using "certain" when talking about the verse in Philippians. While teaching the verse, He gave an example that so many people believe things just because "someone told ‘em so", but they don’t understand why. That’s the biggest purpose and vision behind his ministry at Ligonier, to teach Christians to understand WHY they believe WHAT they believe. Before he even got to his list of certainty--things he's spent his lifetime pondering and thinking deeply about, he told a stor:

While he was teaching at a school up in PA 20+ years ago, he asked the class to raise their hands if they BELIEVED in macroeveolution. All but 3 students raised their hands. He then asked them to give their reasons why they believed the theory. He said only 1 student gave an answer: "if different creatures are made of the same things, same types of cells, etc, then that’s reason enough to support macroevolution."

No one else in the class had any support for his beliefs. RC asked the class, "if you have no evidence or support for your beliefs, then why do you believe in it." They replied that at some point in their educational experiences, a teacher told them it was true, therefore they believed it.

He ultimately proved why critters made of the same stuff don't uphold the macroevolution theory, and the students agreed the biochemical argument was poor support for the theory, but they walked away that day with the realization that they just blindly believed something someone told them in the past.

RC is a big fan of the lost art of logical arguments. Anyway, that’s when he segued into a list that he developed over the years, primarily because he ponders deep things often (upon waking, they keep him awake at night: this includes the mysteries of God), and is overall bummed that so many people today don’t think about deep things. Concerned that people are very superficial in what pre-occupies them.

I think your perspective is totally valid. Often there isn’t enough love and compassion in actions. However, I think there needs to be a balance. If one doesn’t understand why she is so passionate about what she believes regarding faith, then how does she convey its importance to someone else? Or does she just blindly become passionate about something just because she "heard" it’s a good thing, without investigating it further?

I only wish I had the stamina and discipline to learn more about God in my daily devotionals, and to become more certain about who He is and how MUCH I need Him.

Working in AIDS hospices, with homeless shelters, with suffering people, these things can stir up all sorts of compassion and love.
But if I can ONLY show compassion, and not offer a hope of a better life (through Christ) then I haven’t done God’s calling.

21 October, 2005 08:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi
I like your post, even better your comment above.
In the post, it is #3 I would be curious to hear your explanation of.
Gary

22 October, 2005 13:13  
Blogger Dolly said...

Gary, I'll just give you some verses in the Bible that support what I believe to be true in regard to #3:

God redeeming me first through His foreknowledge:

Foreknowledge always refers to "people", not the actions of the person such as "believing":
Romans 9, 11, 15, 21; Exodus 33:19; Proverbs 20:12 & 21:1-2; Ephesians 1:4; 2 Timothy 1:9-10

Acts 2:23, Romans 8:29 & 11:2, 1 Peter 1:2

Foreknowledge is not equivalent to foresight (God foresees everything but He does not "foreknow" everyone).

Election is of grace according to God's pleasure/purpose, not man's foreseen faith or desire:
Romans 9:16 & 11:5, Ephesians 1:5, not according to who would believe

Foreknowledge agrees with God's purpose: Acts 2:23, Psallms 2:7

Translation of the root word knowledge, "to love, appoint, elect, regard with favor":
Genesis 4:1, Hosea 8:4, Amos 3:2, Matthew 1:25 & 7:23, John 10:14, 1 Corinthians 8:3, 2 Timothy 2:9



I came into faith as a result of God's calling:

We are called according to God's will/purpose/pleasure
Romans 8:28, Ephesians 1:3-14

God's purpose WILL stand:
Isaiah 46:10, Romans 9:11, Job 36:5

IF you are called by God into His covenant relationship of salvation, you WILL come:
John 6:37, 45 & John 10:3-4; Psalms 65:4; Romans 11:29.

22 October, 2005 14:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply. What I was looking for is "your" explanation of predestined for salvation. I want to hear your words, from your heart - not the quotes and verses.

Can you do that for me?

Gary

24 October, 2005 15:16  
Blogger Dolly said...

Gary:

I had brief explanations with accompanying and supportive verses. I most certainly don't come up with ideas like that originally! What's on my heart is God's word and God's commandments:

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the Lord is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts."
--Deuteronomy 6:4-6

"'This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,' declares the Lord. 'I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.'"
--Jeremiah 31:33

24 October, 2005 15:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks again. Still, my question goes unanswered.Scripture aside, not quoting them, what does your heart say about redemption and God?

I know you do not make these things up independantly. What is written "IN" your heart and comes out of its' own accord?

Gary
PS I hope you weathered the storm well.

24 October, 2005 19:56  
Blogger Dolly said...

Gary: I guess I don't exactly understand what you're asking. Are you wanting my emotional response to what it feels like to be redeemed by God?

24 October, 2005 22:08  
Blogger libbyann721 said...

Gary/Dolly,

If I might interject:

I, personally, don't understand "redemption" myself. I went on a tour of a religious facility on Saturday and the historian discussed the concept of redemption. Very interesting stuff for another time and place. But it's still not a word I ever use. I don't even clip coupons, so I don't have occasion to use it.

What I do understand is a God better than I am, doing something I am not capable of doing (or even conceiving). I understand that I am a human with weird feelings and thoughts that only make a little bit more sense when I realize that God made people and if God made me and you and everyone in His image, He must get me. That, I almost understand.

I realize that humans have weaknesses. I do understand that in myself, I struggle with what is right and wrong, what is loving, what is just, what is fair, and how to live selflessly. I understand that God (the Creator) offers the only hope I have of ever redeeming me. When I say redeeming, I mean it such as, "His lovely face is his only redeeming quality." Likewise, God is my only redeeming quality.

Gary, I understand your questions (or I think I do!) to mean, where does Dolly's logic and reasoning come from? Does she have other words for what she's saying? Can she explain her beliefs without the Bible? Are there any bits of faith in her that come from God alone and not the Bible? Can she support what she believes without quoting Scripture? Can she explain "salvation" and "predestined" and "redemption" without using any of those words? (OBJECTION! Leading!)

Things I Know for Certain:
1. I know almost nothing for certain but my name, phone number, and family's names. This does NOT make me shallow or any less spiritual a being.
2. I am pathetically inconsistent on the inside. Somedays, I am hateful all day for absolutely no reasons. Other days I adore the world.
3. I am employed.
4. The Bible has a lot to offer by way of wisdom and hope.
5. God is real.
6. I can talk to God whenever I want to.
7. I don't like churchy words.
8. Jesus was a real man and He really did come on behalf of God to help us out.
9. God loves people.
10. No one knows absolute truth.

I heard a pastor/teacher/person say something interesting: if we're so certain, what's faith? I have faith that the things I'm certain of are certain? No. I have faith that God is real and good and active and that He points toward the truth and my job is to listen, look, and learn daily.

I don't know if that helps or will add gasoline to a fire, but that's my two cents (or ten certainties). :)

24 October, 2005 23:08  
Blogger libbyann721 said...

I've been thinking about this since I wrote it and have more to add.

Firstly, Gary, I apologize if I misrepresented what you were asking. I may have it all wrong and feel free to mention it if I am.

Secondly, Dolly, something that frustrates me is when people use the Bible alone to "prove" what they believe. When someone asks, "why do you believe this?" oftentimes, they are quoted Scriptures from a book they may or may not believe. At that point, I begin to wonder if we, as Christians, are not promoting Jesus so much as we are the Bible. Are we trying to convince people that Christ is real or are we trying to convince them that the Bible is true? I, for one, do not think they are one in the same. I think what I think about Jesus and I think what I think about the Bible. I do not believe in Jesus or God because it's in the Bible. I believe these things because I have reason to believe they are real and true. I happen to believe the Bible, but I don't believe in Christ just because the Bible says to. Does that make sense? To me, the Bible doesn't prove Christ, it confirms Him.

I wanted to make that clarification in case I came across differently above.

Libby

25 October, 2005 12:31  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dolly, I guess emotion was my question, but not about what it feels like to be redeemed - but what you feel about God.

Libby, you got it in your second comment, partly - but a big part.
Please, anyone reading this, and Dolly, I mean no disrespect nor do I accuse. When Libby said people use the Bible to prove God or Christ - I think she is correct for far too many people. I say they blame the Bible for what they believe. And to prove it they qoute directly form the Bible verse by verse - quite mechanically. I am not saying that is a bad thing - it is just a start. When you believe, as Libby said, it is written IN your heart. Then the book, the quotes are no longer needed. You just are a believer! You then own the emotion of it. You are free to say what you feel, without proving it thru memory of a fitting scripture.

Libby said:
Likewise, God is my only redeeming quality.

I wonder if you know just how true that is. It would be even more true with one word removed!

Dolly, do I make sense in my question to you now?

Gary

25 October, 2005 13:23  
Blogger libbyann721 said...

Gary, remove which word?

25 October, 2005 14:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not telling! (yet)

You know, I am sure, just try it out and see how it feels.

Gary

25 October, 2005 17:41  
Blogger Dolly said...

I'm responding to comments, but I usually don't blog during the week, due to my heavy course-load. So, if y'all choose to comment further, please don't get perturbed if I hold off my response until the weekend. I try to honor my schedule so I don't get stressed out!

So Libby, regarding your first comment, my reasoning and logic come from the Bible. I can talk about "feelings" all day long, but if that's all I did without studying the Word, then I'd end up assuming or believing things that aren't substantiated by truth. I've done that several times in my life, and probably will as long as I have a functioning brain. . . I'm human, therefore fallible. I used to have all sorts of crazy beliefs, like I could lose my salvation, that everyone was chosen by God, and they only fell from grace when they quit doing things like going to church. Yeah, as if it all fell on our shoulders for entering into an eternity of grace and communion with God. Thank GOD it’s not, but that’s just an example of the red-herring of logic that my unsubstantiated beliefs can lead me toward. It’s only the Bible that keeps me learning the truth to keep on the right track and avoiding heretical beliefs.

Sure, one can discuss terminology such as "redemption" "predestined" and "salvation" without using those words, but that would make for a very lengthy discussion...that's the beauty of terminology and definitions. I don't throw around theological words like "hermeneutics" and "dispensationalism" because although I'm just starting to understand those concepts, I don't delve into those discussions all that often. You say you don't like people using churchy words. . . I would say I have to agree with you. I understand that I have friends and family that cling to phrases like, "the Holy Spirit told me," "God spoke to me," "I was slain by the spirit," "spirit-filled" but if one uses phrases like that in another country, around non-christians, etc., I guarantee other people either think that person is crazy, or they don't understand 'em at all. So, if you don't like the use of certain theological terminology, then to get deeper on a subject just requires avoiding use of them and discussion in a rather long-winded, round about way, or a very superficial way.

For example, I can talk to my peers about chiropractic on a much deeper level than I can to someone who has never been to chiropractic school. Can I still explain the principles of chiropractic to a brand new patient? Sure! Can I talk to that same patient about decreased nociception and increased mechanoreception which leads to the decrease of allodynia? Probably not using those particular words. It's different words for different people in terms they understand based on their backgrounds. Just like you have to break down HTML to a very simple level to me so I can get it!

OK, so to Libby & Gary, please let me know if I'm misunderstanding you, but I gather that y'all are requesting an emotional or "personal experience" story to back up my faith. As in, y'all don't like that I base my beliefs on what is written in the Bible.

I'm breaking down the comment blog into a very, very general category of people. I hate to categorize something as complex as people, but sometimes it suits the purpose of explanation. On a spectrum, there are 2 types of people: those who look at the world in a more emotional / experiential point of view, and those who look at the world in a very analytical way. Depending on who you're compared to, you'll fall closer to one end of the spectrum than another. Compared to my husband, I’m more emotional in my reasoning. Compared to the majority of my peers and family members, I’m far more logical and analytical in my reasoning. . . it’s the way I’m wired, it’s how I think, how I perceive the world. Simple way to see the difference is to ask 2-3 different people to provide directions from point A to point B. One person may describe the route in a very picturesque way (go past a bunch of green fields for awhile, oh! You’ll love the view, and a few minutes later veer around the winding road, etc.), and while another will use words like “go 3.2 miles north, then turn east at Main street and proceed directly for 3 blocks”. There’s a difference in describing the same thing in 2 different ways. So, I like to describe what I believe by using the Bible, the living truth, the Word of God—I defer to it as my strength.

I’ve had the opposite experiences from Libby & Gary. I haven’t met a whole lot of people, Christians anyway, who refer to the Bible to back up their beliefs when they haven’t read it as a source. I’ve encountered the very opposite. I’ve met so many people who have had such wonderful, emotional, spiritual experiences who use words and terminology that make no sense and have no substantiation. Although a nice emotional testimony is great and used by God to reach certain people in certain ways to proclaim truth, it’s terribly unfortunate when I ask those same people WHY they believe what they believe, and all they can back up is their own personal experience. . . which often sounds no different than someone who’s had a similar “religious experience” who is not a christian, in fact believes in a very different god. It’s those same people who don’t know why they believe what they believe, or have a misunderstanding of the Bible who are easily led astray to false relgions and false gods.

Can you have both? A personal experience and substantiated beliefs in the Bible, heck yes! My personal experience is my entire lifetime, by the way. I wasn’t one of those who can remember a conversion experience in a moment, or even a particular day, but I can point to all the circumstances in my life that God used to contribute to Him revealing Himself to me, and that ultimately resulted in my faith in Christ as my Saviour and God. My final point which goes back to a point on an earlier comment, my heart is corrupt. From one day to another, my emotions change: I can feel utterly disheartened and ungrateful about my current circumstances and on another day I can feel completely blessed and humbled by the abundance that I have been given. So, instead of sounding like a roller-coaster, contradictory human, I hold to what is constant, true, and unwavering, the Truth, the Bible, the Word of God.

26 October, 2005 08:33  
Anonymous Joshua said...

Gary and Libby, I have been reading your comments on this blog and understand where you’re coming from. You would like Christians to be more flexible when it comes to their faith. Also it seems that you would like to see Dolly speak about what she feels (emotions) instead of her knowledge of scripture. However, I really don't see the point in talking about emotions when they change daily and the scripture is unchanging. Everyone has their opinion, and people tend to rationalize everything in order to create our own type of Christianity or religion in order to facilitate selfish desires.

I think the first thing we need to understand here is that there is such a thing as an absolute truth. Even though we may not know the absolute truth (only God does), we can be 99% certain of things by taking the facts and reasoning through them. Example, I am certain that 2+2=4. I have determined this to be fact from using it over and over and over again and still coming up with the same end.

Another thing I am certain of is the law of non-contradiction. Example, often times I hear people say that Muslims, Jews, and Christians can all be right. That statement doesn’t follow the law of non-contradiction because those religions teach many opposites. I see Libby make a comment like “Jesus was a real man and He really did come on behalf of God to help us out”, how can we be certain of this? I am certain that Jesus was a real man from the many writings and historical texts aside from the Bible that prove Jesus was a real man. The second half of the sentence is a little vague that Jesus came on “behalf of God to help us out”. Making a statement like this I can come to two conclusions 1) Libby’s statement “helping us out” describes Jesus being crucified, descending to hell, and paying for our sins (scholarly biblical interpretation). OR 2) Libby’s statement “helping us out”, refers to Jesus coming to earth to “point us toward the truth” (Libby quoted), that truth being whatever we as individuals determine it to be.

So let’s take the two interpretations of Libby’s statement, and test them to see which we can be more certain of by using historical documents. 2 Timothy 3:16 states, “ALL scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness”, so from this statement we can see directly what the Bible and Jesus were trying to tell us. Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus say “I have come to point you toward the truth”, however, the Bible does state “I am the way, the truth, and the life no man comes to the Father but through me”, “The wages of sin is death”, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation." So we can be certain of what Jesus said (quoted from people who were with him, having been quoted from 4 different authors, at 4 different times, in 4 different places), that is certainty!

There are two ways you can accept the Bible, as “God breathed” or as just another book full of some wise words. One road leads to salvation, the other leads to death, we can no longer pick and choose the parts of the Bible we want to accept and throw the others parts out that don’t seem right with our current emotions. Because there is such a thing as absolute truth, and I suggest we make certain where we stand, because if we are wrong, the consequences are severe no matter how we rationalize it.

Some suggestions along with reading the Bible:
- Look at the historical facts, scripture written before Christ (dead sea scrolls), prophesying and fulfilling prophesies. (that gives us certainty)
- Read “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist” by Norman Geisler
- Soften your heart and be willing to accept the truth

written with love,

Joshua

26 October, 2005 11:12  
Blogger libbyann721 said...

"Likewise, God is my only redeeming quality."

God is my only redeeming quality. True.

Likewise, is my only redeeming quality. Not true.

Likewise, God my only redeeming quality. Shoo, dawg. Word.

Likewise, God is only redeeming quality. Like at the GAP? ;) He should try Ann Taylor. Higher quality to redeem there.

Likewise, God is my redeeming quality. This might be what you're getting at.

Likewise, God is my only quality. This might also be what you're getting at.

Likewise, God is my only redeeming. My grammar teacher would kill me.

26 October, 2005 11:12  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you once again, Dolly and all, for the conversation.

I read tru and was struck by the comment that you feel that we do not like you basing your beliefs on the Bible. Not true, for me anyway. Of course it is a base. I was just curious to see if you had taken it to the next level, personal. You may be able to understand that now - maybe not - I think you will.

Joshua, it is not flexability I was promoting although I can see that description coming out of this. Flexible only in that one can bend in the wind, yet remain rooted in place.
Where does the law of non-contradtction come from? I understand your point, have not heard that one yet. The explanation you give about the various beliefs can be seen from two sides. I think we tend to be too hung up on the search for absolute truth. We do not have the equipment in our human form to do that. However, on the path, we can see that, for here and now, truths are relative. Relative to one's level of understanding. Still, we are all on the path - therefor we are all right. I say right in that being on the path serves us in ways we would not otherwise experience.

Libby, at least it was not your last try that hit on my suggestion.
Is it so hard to say? The Bible says we are made in His image and likeness. We all believe the Bible - right? (pun allowed, if not intended) What does that mean? Myself, I think that "ALL" is of God. He created all, from nothing? I say all was created from Him, of Himself. Therefor we certainly have the quality yet we are not even close in quantity! On the path - yes?

Again, I think too much is spent on the Absolute, and I wonder if our current charge is to understand that "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you". What does that mean? I think it is saying that despite all other information and learning, we have it within ourselves to attain the goal. It is in our emotions. If you think about it - emotions are all we have and they are powerful. All experience results in emotion. Emotion records our lives.

I am reminded of a quote, by Eric Butterworth,(not Biblic): "Your life is God's gift to you. What you do with it is your gift to God.".

Emotions rule the human experience, so all I am saying Dolly is that turning the quotes and scriptures into emotion, something you individually own, is the next level!

Gary

26 October, 2005 13:28  
Anonymous Kristen C said...

First of all, Joshua, in defense of my good friend Libby, who I know to be a thoughtful Christian desirous to love others and Jesus, I felt it rather arrogant and condescending for you to simply say, "Soften your heart and accept the truth" as if you know It and she doesn't. That kind of talk reminds people nowadays of cult leaders--a "don't question anything" mentality. A society, especially a spiritual one, that suppresses open thinking (from sources beyond your logic & rhetoric textbooks)and honest dialogue to maintain the status quo seems to me more like a dictatorship, which is the antithesis of the Kingdom of God.

For another book recommendation, this particular conversation reminds me of Richard Foster's 'Streams of Living Water,' in which the author masterfully describes the different threads of Christian expression (emotional or charismatic being one of them) and how they are all from the same headwater, Christ Himself. I think Dolly hit on some of this when she spoke of personality types influencing how we process our world.

26 October, 2005 14:06  
Anonymous Joshua said...

When I said "we need to soften our hearts and be willing to accept the truth", I was not suppressing open thinking, the whole intent of my reply was to state the fact that in several places in the Bible, prophets and apostles state that their writing is "God breathed". As for a cult leader, I don't think that someone who believes every word in the Bible to be truth a cult leader, what I would call someone who takes the scripture as fact and has faith in it a Christian. A cult leader is someone who takes something spiritual (like the Bible) and adds their own opinion to it, and forms a band of people to follow him. Richard Fosters book is a good book, However it is not the Word of God and some of his statements at the end of the book are his opinions.

26 October, 2005 17:19  
Blogger Aaron Courter said...

Hey all, I promised myself I wouldn't comment but I guess I must.

I think conversations on this TOPIC are interesting and could potentially go far but I have little patience for poor arguments and simplifications. Words are symbols which means they must have a shared understanding for them to accomplish their purpose. And that starts with listening.

Libby and Gary asked feelings. Dolly replied that her logic comes from the Bible (a statement that probably needs a lot more shared understanding). What Gary seems to be hinting at is that emotion can go hand in hand with logic, compliment it, interact with it, and maybe complete it. But the simplistic, dualistic arguments of emotional vs logic, revelation vs the Bible, or, good lord, either God-breathed or "just a book," make all of us seem really, really stupid. We would all agree that humans are more complex than emotion vs logic. Hopefully that Revelation can relate and interact with Scripture. And possibly that people can have MORE than two (1+1) ways to read Scripture. By the way, the 2+2=4 argument is an absurdity in this conversation. We are talking about theology here. Study of GOD and how we as humanity view GOD. If you applied the intracacies of theology to your argument, 2+2 may equal 4 but what does the 2 mean? Why are there two pairs? What color are they? Two of what? In this context, those questions need to be understood and their definitions unpacked.

Joshua, you say "absolute truth." I know it's another subject, but what does that really mean? Are you saying Truth are doctrinal statements? Is Truth GOD Himself/Herself/GODself/Jesus/Holy Spirit/Bible? Pilot asked what truth was (maybe sarcastically), but you aren't explaining yourself. I would venture to guess that I understand your version of Truth (inerrancy? infallibility?) Non-contradiction? What does that mean? Is THAT in the Bible? Does that apply to broad categorizations of religous sects? If they disagree on some tenents of theology, does that disqualifies the rest of their points? How are we to understand anyone nowadays with this kind of simplistic jargon? You can't toss around words like that. It isn't nice and it doesn't benefit those of us who are struggling with trying to understand this ridiculous thing called Christianity.

Lastly, Norman Geisler's book is "is not the Word of God and some of his statements at the end of the book are his opinions." Kristen was merely making a point, not claiming Richard Foster is Another Revelation of Jesus Christ. Please, please listen. This is a huge reason why people leave the church.

26 October, 2005 19:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aaron, wow, you really are certain, and maybe correct too. A good comment/reply. You said:
What Gary seems to be hinting at is that emotion can go hand in hand with logic, compliment it, interact with it, and maybe complete it. But the simplistic, dualistic arguments of emotional vs logic, revelation vs the Bible, or, good lord, either God-breathed or "just a book," make all of us seem really, really stupid.

No - that is not what I said or meant to say. In my thinking logic is a function of survival, a function of reasoning - how to react, be successful etc. Spiritualy speaking, thinking this to be a spiritual conversation, emotion is our connection. Emotion is the result of our experience, physical or spiritual. A deep spiritual experience causes emotions. Emotions of joy, love, warmth, wellness - etc. indicate a deep spiritual connection. No emotion indicates to me - no connection. Emotion of fear, loneliness, anxiousness - etc. indicate a NEED for connection.

There may be some logic in believing - or the decision to believe. I think that when the belief gets deep enough the emotions take over, and you are changed forever! That is not to say one becomes all emotional and looses all logic. I just put logic in a different realm than deep spiritual connection. A spiritual person relys on logic and reason to get by IN the world, knowing that being in the world is NOT of the world.

Gary

26 October, 2005 20:56  
Anonymous Joshua said...

"I think the first thing we need to understand here is that there is such a thing as an absolute truth. Even though we may not know the absolute truth (only God does), we can be 99% certain of things by taking the facts and reasoning through them. Example, I am certain that 2+2=4. I have determined this to be fact from using it over and over and over again and still coming up with the same end", this is my statement repeated from above. This is how I try and reason through things to obtain certainty for myself, and I respect everyones opinion and how they reason.

I am sorry if anyone takes offense to my opinion. When I said 2+2=4, that means that 2+3 can't equal 4, so we can't have ten different religions and opinions all be correct. "The 2+2=4 argument is an absurdity in this conversation" -aaron. Again, the topic from above was certainty, I was explaining how myself, and many other people become certain. I do not understand how this is seen as absurd. I appreciate that everyone involved in this conversation realizes that we as humans are spiritual beings, and God and the Universe are beyond our understanding. But God did not leave us here helpless, he gave us the WORD. The main point I want to get across is that what we believe does matter. I don't think anyone would disagree with that. And it is belived by some that what you believe and what you are certain about could make an eternal difference.

26 October, 2005 21:48  
Anonymous steve said...

Friends,
I’ve been reading the comments on this blog for a few days and would like to have responded to sooner…now it’s like joining a conversation very late. But I guess that’s a good thing about blogs. My bias: I’m married to the blogger (so I probably have similar beliefs) and I’m a theology student and I probably lean toward intellectual rather than emotional or practical explanations. (please don’t read my words as condescending)

Some of my profs use a triad scheme to explain various theological concepts. I think one of them will help us understand each other better. Dolly mentioned two types of people, I’m going to suggest a third.

Thinkers (those who rely most heavily on intellect)
Doers (those who focus on their actions) (this is the one Dolly didn’t mention)
Feelers (those who rely most heavily on emotions)

Traditionally, many conservative type Christians thought we must think right, so we can do right, then we’ll feel right. Though I sometimes find myself THINKING this way it is more appropriate that we should pay attention to all three with greater emphasis on those areas we tend to neglect (for me that’s emotions). Each one affects the other, even controls the others at various times…this can be good and bad. We think about consequences before doing something, we learn from things after doing them first, emotions often motivate our thoughts and actions (remember puberty!?). Anyway, I hope to keep this triad in mind as I answers several of your posts.

27 October, 2005 00:29  
Anonymous steve said...

Kristen:
Regarding certainty, I think the verse, Philippians 4:8, does speak about it.
NIV Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-- think about such things.
Although true and right are not synonymous with certain/certainty, they are directly related. Something we consider true or right generally means we are relatively certain of it. Otherwise, we turn our beliefs into mere opinions no better than another. We believe in Christ because he is truth, we don’t believe others because we think they are false. Kristen, you wish Christians would be more compassionate and holy while less concerned about certainty...but how can we be compassionate and holy if we’re not certain about what we believe it means to be compassionate and holy. I think this is what R.C. Sproul was getting at…many people don’t “think deeply” about what they believe so they make up their own definitions of compassion, holiness, love, etc. [I think] R.C. was encouraging us to think deeply about what is true, right, noble, etc, in order to be certain that we are becoming like Christ rather than making up our own ideals.

I think some disagreement may be caused by our definition of certainty so I’ll share a little about a book I’ve been reading. In Every Thought Captive, the author describes to definitions of certainty. Absolute certainty is what most people refer to when they mention certainty. Of course, virtually no one will claim absolute certainty but they argue that they can be reasonably certain based upon rationale (logic), investigation of some sort, or even feelings. Non-Christians and Christians alike argue for certainty on these grounds. (Josh, I think you’re using this method in your first post. Kristen, maybe others, I think you’re looking for an alternative because of its problems.) The problem: even though many logical, historical, scientific, even emotional arguments can be made for the Christian faith, our conclusions are still opinions. Josh may think the historical evidence for the Bible is sufficient to believe it with certainty, while someone else wants a little more. Sure, we can blame someone’s lack of acceptance on unbelief but where do we draw the line (when has someone seen enough evidence)? Our certainty is merely an opinion! Christians are forced to rely on a different kind of certainty. We believe God is the only one with absolute knowledge and therefore the only one who can be absolutely certain about anything. So our certainty has to be dependent on God. Dependent certainty, for the Christian, means we submit to God’s Word as absolute authority. We can support our beliefs by logic, science, and personal experience but when these fail (even contradict!) we become dependent on what God has told us is certain. Why not depend on the Holy Spirit speaking to us as final authority? Peter (2 Pe 1:17-21) tells us that the scriptures are more sure than hearing the voice of God himself.

27 October, 2005 00:31  
Anonymous steve said...

Libby:
You said, “Are we trying to convince people that Christ is real or are we trying to convince them that the bible is true? I, for one, do not think they are one in the same.”

I think you’re right about many Christians who spend too much time arguing the legitimacy of the bible and miss the message…the Gospel of Christ. But if we are careful, I do think they are “one in the same.” Teaching people what the bible says is true is teaching them who Christ is and what he has done for us (among other things). We have to guard against reducing it to an argument of the legitimacy of the bible.

You also said, “I think what I think about Jesus and I think what I think about the Bible. I do not believe in Jesus or God because it's in the Bible. I believe these things because I have reason to believe they are real and true.”

I’m pretty sure you think what you think about Jesus because the bible told you what to think and the Holy Spirit confirms that. Otherwise, how do you know what you think about Christ is true? You are dependent on the bible (that is its message) to tell you what is true. What other reason do you have to believe? The Holy Spirit? Yes, but the Spirit always confirms the word of God. In the book of Acts we see the Spirit working but it’s always when people hear the gospel that they believe. I’m not saying the Spirit couldn’t independently bring us to saving faith…but God seems always to use his word.

When we believe, we don’t just accept that Jesus exists. Nor do we simply take him as our Savior. He is our Lord. Lordship has some implications for our discussion. Jesus said, “if you love me, you will keep my commandments.” A lord has authority over his people and commands them according to his purposes. The bible is the source of the commands our Lord has given us. If we neglect it, we neither obey our Lord, nor do we love him. This is another reason we evangelize using the Bible…we want to tell others how to love Jesus. So the Bible is our source of who he is and of how we should respond. Sure, we can do this without quoting scripture (by paraphrasing, by sharing our personal experiences, etc.) but everything must be governed by the word…otherwise people tend to corrupt the gospel with their own ideas because of our sinful nature.

27 October, 2005 00:32  
Anonymous steve said...

Gary,
As far as I know…I don’t know you. That concerns me because I may be terribly misreading your posts. The good thing is…you’ll get an idea how people like me understand your words and ideas. There are a lot of people in the world like me (I know that’s scary for most of you), but you can’t hope to encourage your Christian brothers and sisters or evangelize those who don’t know Christ if you don’t speak their language. Of course, I probably don’t speak yours very well so I hope you at least get something encouraging/helpful from this post.

I do “blame the Bible for what [I] believe.” The Spirit confirms it but even that idea is taken from scripture. Even though God’s word is written on my heart, my heart is still corrupt…that won’t change until I die or Christ returns. Since that is the case, I always have to confirm what my heart tells me by going back to scripture (“the book, the quotes”…ARE STILL NEEDED). Emotions do not take over and I am not free to say whatever I feel. Along with my thoughts and actions, my emotions/feelings are still being sanctified (purified, made holy). I WANT TO BE: compassionate, loving, angry, sorrowful, excited, thankful…but the bible must be my guide. Otherwise, my heart may tell me that my lust is love or my hatred is righteous anger. It has happened before, I know it can/will happen again. I must prove my emotions, actions, and thoughts to be true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy by the word of God. Certainly, I don’t need to quote scripture in combination with every feeling I express, but I ought to at least know if God approves of what I’m feeling. Sure, the Spirit convicts us when we’re wrong but sometimes we’re fooled about that too. God’s word remains our standard. I think if someone wants to express themselves with scripture as Dolly chose to, we can’t reject it. That IS her emotion, they are intertwined. You may ask for clarification but why insist that she separate something that is from her heart. You may express yourself differently but she is not you. You cannot ask for someone’s heart and then reject how they present it because its not the way you do it.

Gary, I just read some of your post again and it seems like we’re agreeing more than I originally thought but I still see a problem with your idea that “emotions rule the human experience.” They certainly are part of it but sometimes our intellect rules and sometimes our actions do. Neither of these is on a lower plane. Taking it to the next level (if we should even speak of it that way) would be using all three giving precedence to one over the other at various times.

27 October, 2005 00:34  
Anonymous steve said...

Josh,
I agree there is absolute truth but only God knows it. However, I doubt you can be even close to 99% certain of anything using historical texts aside from the bible. You said yourself that “people tend to rationalize everything in order to facilitate selfish desires.” You can’t even be certain about the bible by relying on historical/scientific evidence. (I know I sound like a liberal theologian so read carefully…) You have not witnessed most, if any, of the historical evidence for the bible. In large part it is 3rd hand knowledge from books. You can’t read the Hebrew or Greek manuscripts that our bible is based on which, by the way, are translated by wretched sinners just like us. There are many scientific and historical “apparent” contradictions to the bible that have no explanations (not to mention the problems in the text itself). My point: we can be reasonably certain about God’s word but we depend on many things: sinful humans, incomplete evidence, experiences, even feelings. In the end, the Holy Spirit confirms the truth of God’s word and that is enough, though we are wise to seek other confirmation.

27 October, 2005 00:34  
Anonymous steve said...

Aaron,
Please don’t feel left out but it’s past midnight and I don’t really find anything too objectionable in your post. I certainly (there’s that word again) agree that we have to listen carefully and use the same “words” that is words with the same definitions.

I was glad to hear you and Kristen are moving back to God’s country. I look forward to that myself, though it will probably be in the East. If you ever get a chance and you’re not collecting royalties yet, burn some of your mp3s and send them to me. Call me strange, but I really enjoy your music.

27 October, 2005 00:36  
Blogger Aaron Courter said...

Thanks for your replies.

Gary: I didn't mean to suggest you were the one making the simplistic arguments. You were asking questions, and I think you have some great comments regarding emotion and how it brings life into something. I personally wonder if the Kingdom cannot be evident to us without emotion. In other words, the Mystery of the Kingdom of GOD cannot be seen by merely agreeing with certain foundational principles, as logical as they appear. Bottom line, the gospel is not logical. Assembly lines are logical. Killing your Son is not. Redeeming things that do not appear to be worthwhile is not.

Joshua: I can assure you we are not offended by what you are saying. We've heard it all before a zillion times and been there. Call me the rocky soil if you'd like, but I've even preached "the Word" (whatever that means) and that same message of certainty. But you still missed my point so I will leave you to believing that somehow the certainties we acknowledge will get us into Heaven and Hell. Just show me the signup sheet and I'll check off what I need to...

27 October, 2005 00:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great conversation here!!

Steve, you said:
" Even though God’s word is written on my heart, my heart is still corrupt…that won’t change until I die or Christ returns. Since that is the case, I always have to confirm what my heart tells me by going back to scripture (“the book, the quotes”…ARE STILL NEEDED)."

In the spirit of conversation I see your point, yet disagree in that I would say it differently. I do not think one's heart is corrupt, I know that the ego can be - usually is. I think the "heart" in these contexts is a metaphor for the center of your being.
Granted the corruption, of the ego if it be that, needs to be changed/healed before The Christ can return to you.
I think that when the knowledge/belief is written in your heart/center of being, that you are beyond needing to return to the book for confirmation. You are the confirmation at that stage! Then you no longer feel the need to prove to others, as the relationship with God is personal.

At that stage is an emotion that corresponds - therefor the subject of my comment. I admit this is difficult to articulate, I hope I am getting clearer.

AARON said:
I personally wonder if the Kingdom cannot be evident to us without emotion.

It could be evident, but not experienced without the emotion of it coming about.

I wonder if the emotion of having God written in our center is the Knigdom we are looking for! It is then the signature of achievement.

Gary

27 October, 2005 15:28  
Blogger libbyann721 said...

Gary - I totally agree with you and really appreciate that you are taking the time to put words to this. Very well put. Thank you.

27 October, 2005 22:40  
Anonymous steve said...

Gary,
You said, “I do not think one's heart is corrupt, I know that the ego can be…” You seem to think that part of us can be good while part can remain bad/evil. Here I go again with the bible (I’m dependent on it, otherwise my arguments are just human philosophy). The bible teaches that the whole of our being is corrupt: body and spirit. When we are born again our spirits are made alive…meaning God give us ability to will and do what is good. (NIV Philippians 2:13 “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”). There is no division between flesh and body, heart and ego, etc. Our new birth includes our will (heart/mind/emotions…) and our actions (what we do with our body). Only the philosophies developed solely by men have divided the two. Second, my ego (or any other part of me) does not need to be changed in order for Christ to return. He will return whenever he wants to judge the earth.

Since scripture is referred to as the “bread of life,” I’m inclined to think that I need it daily just like food (even if you understand it as strictly metaphorical). As for confirmation, countless people question their faith every day. Are we to suppose that anyone who questions there faith is not Christian? I ask this since you say we are, “beyond needing to return to the book for confirmation.” Returning to scripture is our best means of countering unbelief/doubts. And everyone has doubts…otherwise we claim absolute certainty which we already concluded impossible in earlier posts. If you are speaking strictly of “prove[ing]” ourselves to others, sure, in a strict sense I agree that I don’t feel the need to use scripture (to justify myself). But if you are talking about actual proving (not just a felt need), I do need scripture to prove to myself and others. Of course I may not use it in every single situation literally (but rely on what it says always).

The Kingdom of God
It is not simply, “the emotion of having God written in our center…” The bible gives us a good idea what the kingdom of God looks like. One example: the Lord’s prayer… “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…” The kingdom involves God’s will being done on earth. Emotions are not pre-eminent (above all else). God’s will for us incorporates our emotions as well as our actions and our thoughts. The emotional plane is not higher than the other two. The more humankind conforms to God’s will in doing, thinking, and feeling…the more we will recognize the kingdom. At last, we will not see it completely until Christ returns and restores all things (completely).

28 October, 2005 06:16  
Anonymous steve said...

Wow! Grammar was really bad on that last one...sorry folks. I'm afraid to look at my earlier posts now.

28 October, 2005 06:23  
Blogger libbyann721 said...

Steve,

I read your most recent bit and wanted to ask you to clarify some things, if you don't mind.

You said, "You seem to think that part of us can be good while part can remain bad/evil. … There is no division between flesh and body, heart and ego, etc. Our new birth includes our will (heart/mind/emotions…) and our actions (what we do with our body)."

I was wondering, as I read that, about the part of the Bible (see, I can use it too! ;) ) where Paul is wrestling with doing what he does not want to do, etc. It seems to me that Paul was separating his being into two parts: the part that Christ had transformed and the part that was still trying to be as it had always been. This, to me, would be the separation between the heart (Christ has changed this and now it has the ability and desire to do what is right, yet it's still in training) and the ego (sometimes in Christianity referred to as "flesh", the part that is corrupt and fighting with the new heart). We are reborn, but I don't think that "cures" us from having to deal with the inner war. What is your take on this?

Secondly, I wanted to mention something I think might help bring some perspective.

You said, "Are we to suppose that anyone who questions there faith is not Christian? … Returning to scripture is our best means of countering unbelief/doubts."

I am one who has been questioning faith for a long time. Without too much history, I have serious issues with church and the Bible because of years of abuse in the church by people who used the Bible to promote hate and division. That said, in recent years, none/zero/nada/nil of my questions were willing to be answered by the Bible. I am only recently, in the last six months, able to hear scripture without getting sick to my stomach with fear. I mention this only to say that among the things I've learned is that there are genuine people, genuinely hoping it's true, but words of scripture are not what's going to convince them. Scripture, to a lot of people, is not what seals the deal - some for reasons of intellectual barriers, others because of a history of events that have pulled them from believing it's all true just because the Bible says so.

I don't think a firm belief in the inerrancy of scripture is absolutely necessary for faith or salvation. We all have things we struggle with and for most Christians, the answers to those struggles are in the Bible. What about those of us that struggle because of the Bible? Yes, you can say, "Libby, you're not struggling with the Bible; you're struggling with people who abuse it." That may be, in a very raw sense, true, but separating the issues hasn't yet helped my faith in this phase of my life. That's another conversation entirely!

If my parents were not Bible-believing Christians who know how to show me their faith without using scripture, I might have ditched the whole thing years ago. For so long, the faint mention of anything like "it's in the Bible" has been my cue to start running - FAST.

I am mentioning all this to help with a little bit of perspective in this whole thing. I think the Bible is good and has wisdom and for me to say that means I have changed enormously in the last few years.

28 October, 2005 11:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again I say, wonderful conversation here - it serves us all.

Thank you Libby for your understanding - it seems as though our histories are not all that dissimilar. I saw a lot of hypocrisy in the Catholic church many years ago. I saw too much domination.

Steve, I think another way for me to articulate what I meant about blaming the bible for beliefs, is not so much to lay blame somewhere - but to accept personal responsibility for what you believe. In that sense one could say "this is what I believe, and yes the bible helped me to see that." I think there is a different emotion felt when one gets to that point. I was not saying you, me, anyone else "IS" there - but that maybe that is our goal. (?)

As for part of us being evil/bad while part of us is good - no, that is not my thinking. I think that the center of our being is neither good or bad, and ceratinly not evil. I think it is free of that judgement. On the other hand our egos, that human survival element, directs most of our behavior in ways that can be seen as good/bad. Myself, I like to talk in terms of things/behaviors that serve us as opposed to that which does not serve us.

I think we are all looking to feel that emotion that signifies that we have served God and ourselves very well.

Gary

28 October, 2005 13:46  
Blogger Dolly said...

To All: I've really enjoyed reading the comments this week. I've been remiss due to another demanding week of school. In fact right now I should be studying for CSCS licensure exam or next week's midterms...anything but blogging, but I find this comment forum far more interesting!

Paul says to be all things to all people. By that, I think he means that some people can be communicated to best in varying forms: logic, reason, research, allegory, personal testimony, etc. For example, I have certain family members that don't give a flying flip about research or anything backed up by anything else that's written down--to them, a personal story or experience shared is most effective when communicating anything of weighty significance. However, the vast majority of people that I tend to surround myself with at school and church, are quite the opposite. To them, if I make a claim and don't have any research, author, or SOURCE to back it up, then I'm just speaking hogwash.

I tend to draw many parallels between chiropractic and christianity because they're extremely similar on so many levels (varying denominations and doctrinal beliefs in christianity compared to just as many chiropractic techniques and philosophies of practice). Also, I've been told that starting up a chiropractic practice is very similar to starting up a new church in a community. Anyway, aside from the parallels that I see on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis, my point is this: I think it's important, when asked why I believe something, to back up what I say with scripture. Just like it's important to back up why I think chiropractic works with sources other than my personal testimony. Who the heck am I? Why should anyone believe ME? Does a personal, emotionally riveting account add breadth and dimension to the WHY behind my beliefs? Yes, of course! My personal experience of being drawn to God; the Holy Spirit penetrating my heart to reveal Himself: these events occurred at the same time I was surrounded by Christians who showed me beautiful verses of truth and promise in the Word.

Many of my mistaken beliefs upon which I had based my religious perspective growing up were instantly shattered when I realized that not everyone goes to heaven. . . that I didn’t have to always try to be good to earn my way to heaven, that is impossible. . .that there aren't many roads to a final destination. . . that unless my Bhuddist family members believed and confessed Christ as their Saviour, then they would spend eternity apart from God. My personal, emotional, & heart-rending transformation occurred the same time the Bible was evidenced as justification to everything that was changing within me and everything that still needed to be sanctified.

It seems that many of you were burned by cold-hearted “pharisees” within the church. I’ve seen a few examples of this behavior (twisting of scripture and not pulling the plank out of one’s own eye), but more often, I’ve seen the opposite spectrum within the church. I’ve seen so many people who have such twisted views of God and Christianity because they don’t bother to ever read their Bibles. Instead, they merely rely on whatever doctrine their beloved pastor teaches them every week without bothering to investigate whether what’s being taught is really written in the Bible and whether or not the claims are valid. In some cases, I think this can lead to the danger of being drawn into false doctrine and easily preyed upon by the enemy to lead to a state of confusion. If Christianity was all about having an awesome internal peace that causes me to be elevated to a higher plane of thinking and being, then I would have thrown it away years ago when the stress and chaos of real life was thrown at me. Thank GOD it’s all about Him keeping me on track and not me and my sometimes roller-coaster emotions.

28 October, 2005 19:05  
Blogger libbyann721 said...

See, this is all interesting to me. I came from a strict Bible background and am now enjoying my relationship with/to God apart from scripture. In reality, I haven't deviated from what's written (not much, at least), but it feels really different. I feel free and alive for the first time in a long time. Coming from where I did, with people using the Bible for every last thing they did ("where in the Bible does it say I should choose wallpaper over paint?"), it's probably safer for me to wander away from that (not the Bible - that mentality about the Bible) than it would be for someone who never had that grounding. I have gone through brief spurts where I've worried about myself (and so have my parents!), but I have prayed from the beginning that God would let me explore and think and push limits and try new things, but not let me go outside of what's OK with Him. I'm really not worried about it.

On the flipside, Dolly, if you're coming from a place where it felt like everything was up in the air and based on trends or feelings or personal imaginations, then finding the Bible confirms what God is showing you must have been refreshing and calming. Instead of being in that swirl of ideas, you had something to grab onto and say, THIS IS IT and THIS IS WHY. I can appreciate that. It's beautiful, in fact.

I know I'm learning something through this discussion. I'm glad you posted that, Dolly. It helped me to see that all Bible-holding Christians aren't doing it for the purpose of controlling me, but because for some of them (you), it answers questions and fills holes you've had in the past. I think that's great. On the other hand, where I've had my feet shod with concrete blocks in the past, I am finding the courage and freedom to think outside of the box and set aside the things that have hindered me (yes, even the Bible, because with the wrong attitude and the wrong intentions, it can be a very dangerous weapon) and "run the race".

I hope that makes sense. I'm learning something and getting that ridiculous warm fuzzy when people start to understand each other. That's so much more important to me than being right.

LT

29 October, 2005 22:15  
Anonymous steve said...

Libby,
Your last two post were really good and I wanted to answer the next to last since you had some insightful questions.

One of the Greek philosophy ideas that preceded New Testament times (yet still prevalent during it) was dualism. Surely there are many varieties but a prevalent idea was the separation of body and spirit. Of course, I know there not one in the same…in class we have spoken of them as “distinct, yet inseparable.” The Greeks, however, had more of an idea of opposition. It was a common belief to think that the spirit was the ideal/perfect/good and the body was corrupt/evil…a prison for the spirit. I’m not sure if the emotions were attributed exclusively to one or not but dualists would often deny the body all but the bare essentials (i.e. minimal food, no sex…a physical lust of the flesh, etc.) I don’t think anyone posting is suggesting something identical to this but we do have a tendency to develop contemporary versions.

On Paul- Was he a Greek dualist? No, because he talked about us being dead…that is our spirits until we are born-again. He also says we are hostile toward God until our spirits are regenerated. So the spirit is spoken of as dead (unable to do what is good) and hostile (opposed to God). But, as you mention, Paul also struggles with his flesh.

My point- Humans are holistic beings. We are not human without a spirit nor are we without our body (yes, there is some intermediate state if we die now…but our hope is the resurrection when all is made new including our bodies). Certainly, there are distinct parts yet they are inseparable. I worry because I’m not sure if some of our discussions are leading to a dualist kind of idea. I’m still unclear exactly what Gary is saying but some of it sounded like a contemporary version. Our thoughts, emotions, and actions are all part of who we are. Since we are sinful, so are our thoughts, emotions, actions. If we are regenerated by God, then all three are alike being sanctified but still equally capable of sin. This is the “inner war” you spoke of. When Paul attributes it to the flesh, he’s talking about our sinful nature not the literal body (you can see this by looking at NIV vs KJV/ESV –i.e. Ro 7:5). He may even have been using Greek terminology but redefining it (that’s a question for scholar geeks, not me). Ultimately, as a whole we were slaves to sin but now as a whole we are being made like Christ. –Hopeful that answers your first question…now part two.

Perhaps like you I have been questioning my faith since day 1 (somewhere around 6 years old). My questioning of scripture is possibly far worse than you can imagine. Unfortunately, along with seminary comes the knowledge or at least awareness of the difficulties of scripture. I not talking, primarily, about your everyday difficulties that you read in devotions. I’m talking about errors in the text, mistakes made by scribes, tons of historical “apparent” contradictions, the seemingly impossible task of translating accurately a concept that doesn’t even have expression in the English language…and these are just some of the technical issues. There are also theological questions of how our beliefs are any different from the rest of the religions out there. I’m often scared to death, sometimes on a daily basis, regarding our faith. So I feel your pain…I think.

I still believe however, that scripture is the very thing we need. Not because I think I’ll find all the answers (I won’t…there are two many questions). The unique thing about scripture is its power. Because it is God’s word it always has an effect. God’s word hardens some like pharaoh and softens others. It might scare the hell out of us in the process but it will have an effect – God’s word does not return to him void. So I keep reading, hoping for relief of the fears and doubts on some days even while the text brings up new ones.

Regarding inerrancy, well I’m running out of time this morning so I’ll have to get back to that…I may post something on the Courterblog about it since it ties in with some of that conversation. I do think the original writings were inerrant (we only have copies –with acknowledged mistakes). But I struggle with the bible too, probably mostly because of the bible. Sure, scripture doesn’t “seal the deal” for us. Technically, the Holy Spirit does. But I also know that scripture is more than just text on paper or sound waves in the air, or expressions, or actions…the word has power we don’t see. God tells us this. We see its effects and we even feel them in ourselves. It’s more than just wise words and ethical teachings.

30 October, 2005 07:00  
Blogger libbyann721 said...

Not playing devil's advocate; genuine question:

What's wrong w/ duality? What problems would arise if you tried to intersect duality with Christian theology? (please be sure to use small words)

Trying to understand... And thanks for that post!!

Gary...? Gary?

31 October, 2005 01:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this conversation!
Thanks to all.

Libby said: "I haven't deviated from what's written (not much, at least), but it feels really different. I feel free and alive for the first time in a long time."

All I can say is; ditto, ditto,ditto!

IMO
This world of ours is one of duality. Duality is the illusion we are here to learn from and to get beyond/overcome.

We percieve up/down, good/bad, light/dark, good/evil, on and on.
Becoming centered in non-judgement is what I find to be the deisre.

We are the spirit not the body. The body is a vessel with which we experience this earthly domain. The body is not evil it is driven by spirit. Spirit is not evil, it is devine.
I speak of evil, because as Steve said, we need to use the same language. In-fact, I do not believe in evil as a quality. I do see the perception of evil in man's actions. It is a judgement - Jesus said we should not do that!

Steve said:
I’m talking about errors in the text, mistakes made by scribes, tons of historical “apparent” contradictions, the seemingly impossible task of translating accurately a concept that doesn’t even have expression in the English language…and these are just some of the technical issues.

That is a mouth full and very much worth mindfulness. I agree/feel that all of it has occured, and was used for domination - by some. Let me just say that I feel some agendas were advanced with the interpretations and translations that were not purely devine.

For me, it is impossible to think that the bible is the final word of God, or the only word of God. I find it hard to feel that I should see it as the only source of inspiration, written or otherwise. Don't get me wrong, I think it is a great source, I think discernment is our redeeming (not salvation) quality.

Gary

31 October, 2005 14:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read this on another blog:

The Christian church failed in its essential crisis, not rejecting the old teachings to the extent that Christ indicated. Had it succeeded, little of the hideous fundamentalism that has overtaken today's so-called Christians and Muslims would be tenable.

What do we think?

Gary

31 October, 2005 15:03  
Blogger libbyann721 said...

Where did you read that?

31 October, 2005 20:10  
Anonymous steve said...

Libby,
Dualism/Duality
I just noticed today that my study group had to define dualism from our reading…so here are three vocabulary words to help with understanding. Except for these, I’ll try to avoid strange words.

Monism—a worldview in which everything is divine; there is only one being, or substance of which everything is a part.

Dualism—a worldview in which the ultimate reality is two opposing gods or forces, etc.; a classic example would be the battle between good and evil, not the biblical one, but one in which both forces are equally powerful and ultimate. Dualism is very common in Greek philosophy. Plato was a dualist, he’s considered in some degree the father of spiritual vs. physical/material dualism.

Duality—I haven’t seen a definition for this but as I understand it refers to two realities at the same time…the only context I’ve heard it use in was to describe Jesus – 100% God and 100% man at the same time (other than Jesus I don’t know of any other context where a true duality could exist). I know when you used duality you were referring to dualism (just wanted to note there is a difference).

Even though these are “definitions” be aware there are many dualisms that men have developed throughout history. The most common ones I know of are good and evil forces (like Star Wars) and the one I mentioned in my earlier post: spirit and body (or spiritual and physical). The first problem I can see with dualism (of the spirit and body) is in Genesis 1. God creates the physical world (including the bodies of A&E) and pronounces it good even very good. Now God is spirit and man has a spirit, yet God says almost every day of the creation that the physical world he is creating is good. Plato taught that we should deny the physical (all physical pleasures) because it was evil. Jesus also has a physical body. According to dualism his flesh would be evil. Finally, Christians hope for a resurrected body. The main problem with crossing dualism with Christianity is that God created everything good (physical and spiritual). Now everything is screwed up (physical and spiritual). One day everything will be made new/perfect (physical and spiritual). Does this help?

31 October, 2005 22:12  
Anonymous steve said...

Gary,
You’re still speaking in riddles to me. Some I just don’t understand while some scares me.

What do you mean by:
-“Becoming centered in non-judgement is what I find to be the deisre.”
??

-“Spirit is not evil, it is devine.”
Our spirits are “evil” by the biblical definition because prior to regeneration our spirits are opposed to God. Our spirits are not divine. Only God is divine! If you mean from divine origin, then you should say that – the two are wholly different.

-“I do not believe in evil as a quality. I do see the perception of evil in man's actions. It is a judgement - Jesus said we should not do that!”
Not a quality? Only a perception?
Evil…just in man’s actions (what about thoughts? feelings?)
What did Jesus say we should not do?

- Regarding scripture translations… “I agree/feel that all of it has occured, and was used for domination - by some.”
What translations are you referring to and why?
What sort of domination?

-“I feel some agendas were advanced with the interpretations and translations that were not purely devine.”
What do you mean by divine?
Again, if you mean divine origin, then you should say that. In this case I don’t think you do. Anything based on original scripture could be said to have divine origin (with varying degrees of corruption). Since all translations have some corruption, none are “purely divine” in origin. Even the original documents (which I think were inerrant) are not divine. Only God’s word the message itself is divine.

-“it is impossible to think that the bible is the final word of God, or the only word of God. I find it hard to feel that I should see it as the only source of inspiration, written or otherwise.”
What do you mean by final or only word of God?
What other source is there (other than the Holy Spirit who confirms the message of the bible and does not add to it)?

31 October, 2005 22:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi all, I am glad to still be welcome here. I know I am rattling some nerves, Steve says "scares me". I think a good shaking up now and then clears the head and the dust. If the picture settles out to be the same -so be it. If the picture is different after the dust settles, then I call that service.

Libby, I saw that on another blog, unfortunately I did not bookmark it. I think it was quoted from somewhere else. I thought it was profound, maybe even revealing. You never know where you will find little jems like that.

Steve, I am going to copy your comment and insert short replies. I know we see things differently - but I think it is in detail not overall intent.

What do you mean by:
-“Becoming centered in non-judgement is what I find to be the deisre.”??
((I mean see the divinity in all things - not good/bad.))

-“Spirit is not evil, it is devine.”
Our spirits are “evil” by the biblical definition (( I CAN NOT SEE IT THAT WAY)) our spirits are opposed to God. (( NOT MINE ))Our spirits are not divine. (( ARE YOU VERY SURE?)) Only God is divine! If you mean from divine origin, (( YES I DO ))then you should say that – the two are wholly different. (( I SEE NO DIFFERENCE, OF DEVINE IS DEVINE)) Granted we do not act that way - by training in my belief.

-“I do not believe in evil as a quality. I do see the perception of evil in man's actions. It is a judgement - Jesus said we should not do that!”
Not a quality? Only a perception?
Evil…just in man’s actions (what about thoughts? feelings?)
((NOT AN INHEIRENT QUALITY, ALL ACTIONS ARE THE RESULT OF THOUGHT AND EMOTIONs))
What did Jesus say we should not do? ( JUDGE NOT, just don't do it ...LEAST YE BE JUDGED, you can only judge self, center by not judging)

- Regarding scripture translations… “I agree/feel that all of it has occured, and was used for domination - by some.”
What translations are you referring to and why? (TOO MANY FOR TODAY)
What sort of domination? ((CHURCH DOMINATION)Probably from back when the translations were scribed, but till used today.))

-“I feel some agendas were advanced with the interpretations and translations that were not purely devine.” ( HUMAN INTERJECTION)
What do you mean by divine? (GOD'S INTENT)
Again, if you mean divine origin, then you should say that. In this case I don’t think you do. Anything based on original scripture could be said to have divine origin (with varying degrees of corruption).((CORRUPTION _ I AGREE maybe there is more than we would even want to think)) Since all translations have some corruption, none are “purely divine” in origin. Even the original documents (which I think were inerrant) are not divine. Only God’s word the message itself is divine. (( I THINK DUALITY IS DEVINE, WAS GOD'S PLAN))

-“it is impossible to think that the bible is the final word of God, or the only word of God. I find it hard to feel that I should see it as the only source of inspiration, written or otherwise.”
What do you mean by final or only word of God? (( I MEAN THE BIBLE COULD NOT BE THE LAST TIME HE WOULD SPEAK TO A SCRIBE))
What other source is there (other than the Holy Spirit who confirms the message of the bible and does not add to it)? (( I THINK THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL GUIDE TO INFORMATION THAT IS NEEDED -- WHY NOT ADD TO? _ COULD BE VERY USEFUL ! )) In some way I think that the curch(old), or King James, or whoever may have closed the door on biblical additions - just my thinking.

Gary
PS, If I was too breif let me know.

01 November, 2005 13:50  
Anonymous Sapna said...

In the interest of bringing some diversity to this discussion.

What I know is true (from a libertarian standpoint)

1. I cannot prove my existance, but rather, can only know that I am a thinking thing (Descartes)
2. I am an atheist.
3. The existance of God is not supported by oberservational data, the way that scientific theories are.
4. When like-minded people discuss issues, they become more extreme in their view. This particularly goes for courts.
5. There exists, under the Constitution, a fundamental right to be left alone that supports gay rights, abortion rights, and the right to privacy.
6. Some, if not most, gay people are born that way and do not "choose" to be gay any more than heterosexuals choose to be strait.
7. The purpose of a democratic government is not for the majority to force its moral views on the minority.
8. The guarantee of religious freedom in the First Amendment includes the right to be free from religion and not have it forced upon you by the government.
9. The accuracy of the bible cannot be proven. Humans are fallable.
10. I make decisions based on evidence, not on faith.

01 November, 2005 23:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sapna, I like your thought for the most part. I would say that #3 is in jeopardy. It would depend on what one applies the name GOD to. Read Science and the Akashic Field.

Steve, Libby, Dolly..

I would be interestedin a comment on this: (prev)

"The Christian church failed in its essential crisis, not rejecting the old teachings to the extent that Christ indicated. Had it succeeded, little of the hideous fundamentalism that has overtaken today's so-called Christians and Muslims would be tenable."

Does it show in the Bible that Jesus tried to remove old thinking for new?

Gary

02 November, 2005 13:05  
Blogger libbyann721 said...

I would agree with that statement. The New Covenant that Christ brought was about removing old thinking and replacing it with a new way of faith and interacting with God. It is in the Bible, but Steve probably could point to it more quickly than I could. I would like to know where that person is coming from when s/he says "hideous fundamentalism". The reason I ask is because since moving to New York, I have learned that people here use words like "Christian" and "Evangelical" and "Fundamentalist" very differently than they do in Oklahoma. If he is pointing to fundamentalism that ignites things like the Crusades and suicide bombers, then I understand what he means. But maybe there's more to it?

Just my thoughts. Steve?

Sapna, thanks for posting. More perspective is always helpful!

02 November, 2005 13:37  
Blogger Dolly said...

Gary,

I'm reluctant to comment on the blog quote you found unless I can read it in its context. Like Libby answered, I just don't know what they're referring to in their comment. They could be talking about problems with the modern church, or they could be denouncing the entire OT, in which case, I'd consider them heretics. So, I'd just like to read the original post from the blog, if you don't mind sending a hyperlink to it!!

Sapna: Long time no chat! How are ya? How's the windy city? Thanks for your post, BTW! You weren't kidding when you said people that tend to believe the same thing can often polarize to extremes, but then you've graciously shared your perspective which is a totally different spectrum. Cool! I have some questions for ya, but I'm in the middle of midterms part I (this pain lasts for another 1.5 weeks...(sheesh). So, when I get to my weekend, or a procrastination break, I'll comment more. Thanks again, and send an e-mail sometime and lemme know how y'all are doin'!

02 November, 2005 15:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dolly, Good point, ooops - I judged! I mean point well taken :-)

All joking aside, I wish I had bookmarked the blog that I found the paragraph on. I can not remember any agenda or point the blog was making - I just thought the comment was interesting.

Gary

02 November, 2005 17:48  
Anonymous steve said...

Sapna,
Interesting enough, I just started reading about libertarianism this week.
What I hope to be true (from a federalist standpoint)(federal in the sense that Adam & Eve were the representatives of humankind, chosen by God, and because of them the human race has a fallen/sinful nature and inability, apart from God, to do what is morally right):

1. I can’t prove my existence either.
2. I am a reformed, calvanistic Christian.
3. The existence of God is supported by observational data just as well as (or better than) evolution or any other theory like it.
-Romans 1:19-23 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
4. When like-minded people are joined by someone of another persuasion, they tend to gang up on the one who is different (hope that doesn’t happen here to you). The only exception I know to this is the Republican Party which couldn’t work as a team if their lives depended on it 
5. According to the Bible, we have absolutely no right to anything. It is God who graciously gives us all things.
6. We are born in sin, which means we are born with a sin nature (the propensity to sin). How this is true, I have no idea… but I have no trouble believing it includes genetic predispositions. The Bible’s answer is simple: we are guilty and sinful, to be saved we must repent and believe in Jesus.
7. In a democracy, majority rules. Our government was designed as a republic where minority rights are to be preserved. Moral rights can and should be forced on others, that is why we arrest robbers and murderers. I do think Christians have seriously distorted this principle by picking on gays while they say almost nothing about the tens of millions who commit adultery and a host of other moral crimes (no less sinful than homosexuality). Abortion, as far as we are able to discern, is killing. We have no way of knowing when God brings life to a fetus, making it a distinct individual separate from its mother.
8. We are never free from “religion.” Regardless of our viewpoint, any belief that cannot be proven absolutely is religious. We can find evidence for anything but evidence does not change something from religious to science or fact. Atheism is religion too – belief in no God (it is not the absence of belief).
9. Nothing can be proven absolutely. The Bible has been proven accurate over and over again. It is the most substantiated ancient document known to humankind. Humans are fallible, but God is not. If God can create the universe, he can manage to produce one book free of error even while using fallible people.
10. All your decisions are based on faith in inconclusive evidence. (Interestingly, Descartes may have objected to your #10. As a rationalist, he rejected the idea that empirical evidence proves anything, hence, his turn to rationalism – “I think, therefore I am.” Unfortunately, he couldn’t prove that either.)


All,
I can’t comment on the quote from the other blog either…context?

Jesus came to further reveal what God had already taught in the Old Covenant – namely we are saved by faith. This wasn’t a “new way of faith” [Libby], but rather a fuller revelation of what was already being taught by Old Testament writers (Libby, I not sure if you meant “new” in the way I understood it). Jesus did reject tradition that was contrary to the teaching of scripture…i.e. the sermon on the mount (Mt 5, 6) where Jesus repeats a phrase over and over to this effect – “you say [the traditions taught by scribes and pharisees]…, but I tell you [what scripture really teaches]…” (my paraphrase).

03 November, 2005 07:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greetings to all,

I really did not want anyone to decipher what the writter of the paragraph meant, I asked what do we think of the statement. What does it say to us?

Steve in-fact did respond in a way that said what he thinks. If Jesus did reject some of the old traditions, I feel that there must have been a reason. Maybe that is how He was our saviour, to set new the traditions, in a correct way.

I think that Jesus was a saviour in that he lived a demonstration of how to avoid sin. He said that to follow Him would lead to the Kingdom. As for here and now we can not "follow" Him, as in walk behind Him in body, yet we can live like He did. We can imitate His demonstration.

When I think in those terms I can see that He lived for our sins. He lived to "show us the way."

The resurestion was a demonstration of life after death. The resurrection gave us great cause to remember Him and His life.

"These things I do, so shall you, and more". Is that the sinlge most valuable "clue" He bestowed upon us?

Gary

03 November, 2005 12:55  
Anonymous Sapna said...

When I said:

3. The existance of God is not supported by oberservational data, the way that scientific theories are.

I meant more that one cannot set up an experiment that supports God's existance, the way that you can for a scientific (not that you physically can for all theories either, many physics theories require the production of huge amounts of power that we aren't capable of). Referring back to the bible is circular, when one cannot prove 1) whether the parts that each denomination picked as "authentic" actualy were authentic and 2) when we are relying on what humans wrote down, and have no way of verifying that it was accurate.

Steve, good point on the ganging up part. What I said is more applicable to small-group decisionmaking. Cass Sunstein at University of Chicago has done some really good research in this area. Here is a small summary he posted on Lawerence Lessig's Blog: http://www.lessig.org/blog/archives/003015.shtml

"The Bible has been proven accurate over and over again."

How has what is in the Bible been proven accurate? Its circular to say the Bible is accurate because God made it when the existance of God is based on the Bible being accurate. Did women turn out to be inferior to men? Did black people end up being inferior to white people? The Bible was used to justify both of these positions. In terms of a predictor of morals, I don't think it is any different then the philosophy I use in guiding ethical decisions (in particular, Kant's Groundwork for the Metaphysic of Morals).

Most people, religion or no religion, don't believe killing, stealing, etc is right. You don't need the ten commandments for that. Atheists do not have a higher propencity for comming crimes then do people with religious beliefs.

Scientific evidence is only inconclusive as far as some "evil genious" (in the words of John Searle) is actively deceiving our senses. Which to me is way too complicated and absurd of an argument compared to the simplier explanation that scientists embrace: that our senses, while limited, do not actively deceive us.

Can the existance of god be proven the way that one can prove the earth circles the sun?

03 November, 2005 14:16  
Anonymous steve said...

Sapna,

I don’t think the existence of God is much different in some respects from “scientific” theories. Many so-called scientific theories are utterly impossible to validate (if that’s the point your making about God). Big Bang theories or any theory of origins cannot be validated any more than God’s existence. Until we succeed in time travel to the distant past…nothing conclusive can be said about those theories. Even if we did travel back in time and observe the event, our observations would be finite and we couldn’t prove our observations were conclusive.

Referring to the bible IS circular but so are all arguments. Observation or rationalizing both rely on human opinion for their conclusions… You conduct an experiment, observe, make a conclusion based on finite observation. Ultimately, it is your opinion that decides whether the experiment provides “proof” or not. Because you are finite, you cannot observe all evidence (or even know if you had all evidence available). Your conclusions are ALWAYS based on opinion because what one considers proof another doesn’t. Even if all agree that something is proof, they are still finite and unable to prove they have sufficient proof. Practical example: Global warming has much “evidence” regarding its occurrence (pro and con). Many scientists look at the same evidence and come to opposing conclusions. All arguments are circular returning back to human opinion.

In spite of the above argument, I don’t reject observation like Hume ended up doing. In agreement with Kant, I find it useful for proving things though not for infallible proof (it brings my perceptions closer to reality).

Regarding the authenticity of the bible, it cannot be proven just as nothing in the past can be “proven.” You did not observe the writing of the Constitution but you trust the evidence that you have – namely the document (though you can’t even verify its own authenticity). Similarly, the biblical texts provide evidence for themselves. Much historical evidence is available to support their authenticity. Agreement over the legitimate texts was reached by 367AD (A mere 300 years from the original eye-witnesses, a very short chain of successors). Textual critics have evaluated biblical documents (which number in the thousands) for almost 2000 years. We have some New Testament docs that go back almost to the time of the originals. After hundreds of years of translation and copying, text critics find an uncanny accuracy when comparing today’s texts to the oldest ones we possess. Proof of authenticity and accuracy? No. Evidence? Yes!

The sad fact that fallible humans have used the bible to justify evil says nothing about its own character. The Constitution is used everyday to support opposing ideals. The bible does not predict morals, it teaches moral behavior (and much more). Whether or not people follow it is their own doing (to a degree).

Another evidence for God, though you’ll most likely reject it, is existential. Believers claim the testimony of the Holy Spirit within them. Someone who has experienced this can say what the difference is between having and not having it. However, some who does not experience it can only write it off as something psychological. Ultimately, it is the one who “experiences” that know better because they have both perspectives while the one who has not experienced has only one perspective. (I think Kant would agree with this as well…maybe?).

Finally, we cannot truly evaluate evidence for God since we have no idea (except from scripture) what it is to BE God. God is a higher being than we are according to the bible. All we can know about God is what he tells us. Without actually being God, we cannot assess what it means to be God. It’s like a rock assessing humanity. Even if a rock does have some cognizant ability we would consider it ludicrous to say that it understands what it is to be human. In a similar but much more extreme way, God is so much higher than us, we cannot assume to be able to know the slightest thing about him. I depend on the bible to tell me who God is and who I am (since the creator knows better than the created). You depend on your own opinion.

04 November, 2005 07:28  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Science and the Akashic Field, I still recommend it. The theories are just that - theories. It is the puzzles that are interesting to look at.

The simple fact of human knowledge is that we know what we know - until we know more. When we know more, occassionaly we find that what we knew was incorrect, or it was accurate!

Historically, many of the precepts we thought we knew turn out to be false. (flat earth, sun goes around the earth, etc.)

I believe that we are here to live, to live the most and best we can.

Live - backwards = evil!
Lived - backward = devil!
Coincidence? I think not - I think a clever clue!

I have a couple of quotes too:

"Your life is God's gift to you. What you do with it is your gift to God."

"We are the activity of God expressing as us."
Eric Butterworth

Gary

04 November, 2005 12:34  
Anonymous Sapna said...

"After hundreds of years of translation and copying, text critics find an uncanny accuracy when comparing today’s texts to the oldest ones we possess. Proof of authenticity and accuracy? No. Evidence? Yes"

The same thing could be said to justify any major religion, including ones that contradict christianity. Everyone has a chain of "witnesses" going back to their original document. What makes your chain more trustworthy, then say that of muslims to the Qu'ran? Besides, there were plenty of people around during Jesus' time that didn't convert to Christianity and weren't convinced that the bible was correct. That's how so many religions that predated it survived. They saw the evidence and rejected it.

I also think 300 years is a lot of time for biases to creep up. How do you know for certain the gnostic texts aren't accurate, if men were actively trying to keep women in there place? Religion can be weilded to control people, and thus, can be distorted to bring power to those who "chose" which texts were accurate and which were not.

With regard to the Constitution, we change it when we think it is wrong. And I fall into the category of lawyers who believe that it is a living document, not meant to lock in stone what the men who wrote it believed, but meant to be applied to situations not anticipated by the founders and read accordingly. Thus, while the Constitution said slavery was okay, we amended it. When the bible says women must be obediant to their husbands, its dogma that can't be changed.

07 November, 2005 10:41  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if anyone will see this now that it is archieved, but I'll drop one more comment anyway.

I think all is of God. It is time to stop the us against them attitude, and trying to be "right".

If a person has a belief and lives up to it - more power to them!

Despite all of the religion and all of the "religious" people around, one look around and you can see that it is not working!

Wars are still religious!

Tolerance above all will stop war, not religious dogma!

Believe that which you will. Allow others their beliefs, as you would have them allow you!

Gary
PS, politicis included!

07 November, 2005 12:28  
Anonymous steve said...

Sapna,

"After hundreds of years of translation and copying, text critics find an uncanny accuracy when comparing today’s texts to the oldest ones we possess. Proof of authenticity and accuracy? No. Evidence? Yes"

The above cannot be said “to justify any major religion.” Few religions claim to have historical evidence for their claims either because they are entirely existential or they just don’t care (there may be other reasons…these are my immediate thoughts). The religions that do have historical texts have nowhere near the same evidence to support them as the bible. The Book of Mormon is a ridiculous myth with NO historical evidence (except what it copies directly from the bible). The Koran was written at least 400 years after the last of biblical scripture which provided a much more advanced society in which it could be accurately conveyed, however, it has virtually no historical evidence since Caliph Othmann destroyed all older copies prior to the text that he fixed (I don’t know the date of this). Neither of these religious books (nor many others) has come under significant textual or historical criticism until recent years. The bible has withstood thousands of years of critics and maintains thousands of manuscripts. Despite its numerous manuscripts and their variations, the message and content of the bible has remained unchanged. The bible also contains at least 40 independent authors/witnesses…The Book of Mormon, one…The Koran, Mohammed (maybe a few others). The historical evidence for the bible is far superior to any other.

The bible is no mere document made according to the thoughts of men (like the Constitution). The bible is the word of God and his words are not subject to human approval or denial. The bibles claim to be the word of God is substantiated in many ways including phophetic reliability and the historical, miraculous works of Christ. On a more personal level, the bible teaches people to submit to various authorities: citizens to government, servants to masters (not in the slavery context we are familiar with), and also wives to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-33). There are many different reasons for this. Specifically, the wife/husband relationship is a symbol of Christ’s headship over the church and his love for it. Unfortunately, most people see it as oppression because they fail to submit to God’s authority. The second half of the precept is also left out by most critics. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” The command for husbands is even stronger. They must love their wives as Christ loved the church. What does this mean? In short, Christ died because of his love for the church. A husband’s love must be faithful (submissive if you will) even to death. This is hardly the chauvinistic picture our culture portrays it as. The earliest Christians were radically countercultural: helping the poor, adopting orphans, caring for the disabled, and dignifying women like no other people around them. I do not demand Dolly’s submission. She is subject to the word of God as am I. Women are responsible to God. Submission is an act of giving by those who submit, not an act of taking by those who receive it. At its core, scripture liberates us like you wouldn’t believe.

09 November, 2005 19:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Sapna has a good point. What we make of the Bible and how we use the information could be, and likely is, more suspect than the text itself. I do not hold the text suspect as much as I hold man's interpretation suspect - in some areas more than others.

I tend to look at it with this question in mind: What did God need to tell mankind at the time? That may sound out of line but think about this. What if one of our missinterpretations is the Third party God that we assume from the Bible. Jesus said some things that can be very well interpreted to mean that God is much more personal, and less third party. What if, at the time man needed to see God as third party? What if now we are able to accept God as more personal?
What if Jesus spoke as he did to save us from ourselves, not from God's judgement - but from our own?
If we look around, it is easy to see that we need saved from ourselves. Man tends to be self destructive, even to day, after Jesus spoke to eliminate our tendancies. He wanted us to follow His words and actions.

What if?

Gary

10 November, 2005 14:23  

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