Originally posted by arollingstone
You miss my point. This process only serves to justify every statement within the Holy Books. I used to do this too with my own faith: hey this is a
metaphor, what is the true value of this statement? But this is merely a way of responding to any possible question that can be raised and it leads to
vast inconsistencies. I found it easier to shed the 'label' and develop a personal form of spirituality.
If you mean "defend the Bible", you might consider making that clearer initially next time the topic comes up.
But the criteria I use to defend the Bible are no different that those I would use to argue for the accuracy of any other document; I am not a
presuppositionalist though many Christians are. I would only say "because the Bible says so" to those who are already convinced that it is the Word
of God and thus authoritative. In this venue however, I have appealed to methods of legal investigation and asked that other ancient documents be
given the same degree of scrutiny before you accept them as accurate. So if my methods for defending the Bible are inadequate, then I am unable to
defend anything at all-- and so are you, because my methods are not exclusively Biblical or Christian.
As for figures of speech or judging genre, there are established principles for that too. Some take the easy way out and write off the whole Bible as
allegory, or the lazy way out and take it all in a woodenly literal fashion. I have a page in my blog dedicated to explaining the method I use:
. You can tell from that title that I
consider also the grammar of koine Greek, as well as finding out as much as i can about the culture of the time. Rest assured I've done my
Some questions for example, how can man have free will if God has written his fate?
On what basis do you assert that God has written anyone's fate? Please be careful not to lift verses out of context in your reply; I'm well aware of
these, as there is a whole section of Christianity (Calvinism) that does not believe in free will, and I've lambasted that view in my blog on many
occasions. (I put one of them in my book section under the title "The Hunt/White Debate", which you can find at the Book link in my signature.)
Briefly, here is my illustration of man's free will: Picture a school playground, filled with students out for recess. There are teachers watching
them, as well as fences around the perimeter. The purposes of both are for the children's safety, not to keep them from having fun. The teachers are
not there to micromanage play but to contain it, and to limit its duration so the students will return to class on time. But if any child chooses to
violate the minimal rules such as against violence or cheating, that student alone faces disciplinary action because they freely chose to behave
poorly. In the same way, God puts limits on free will but does not micromanage, and is not interested in keeping us from enjoying life. We make our
own mistakes, we commit our own evil, but like an incorrigible playground bully we strike out at the "teacher" for calling us out. This, IMHO, is
irrational. Free will must be limited because some people's idea of freedom is to do whatever they please to other people.
Now let's add a twist: the local PTA refuses to allow the teachers to intervene in any fights, or administer any discipline, or limit playtime, or
keep the fences up. They believe it's harmful to little Johnny and Suzie to have any restrictions, even if it means Big Bubba gets to beat on anyone
Satan is the PTA (a correlation some may find all too accurate) and God is the teacher. The kids don't know or grasp the clash between the two,
though both try to explain. Now am I saying God and Satan are equals and that God is not all-powerful? No, I'm saying that God will not violate free
will but at the same time he will not violate Satan's ownership of the world.
"Whoa!" you say, and rightly so. But it's true, and that's another thing I examine in my book Reconciled. The Bible speaks of Jesus paying a
ransom, and in such a situation there are three parties: the victim, the buyer, and the seller. Mankind is the victim, Jesus is the buyer, and Satan
is the seller. The price Jesus paid on the cross was "paid in full" (Jesus' word was rendered in Greek as "tetelestai" which is a financial term
for a bill that was completely paid off, and the identical word uttered by the high priest in Judaism as the lambs were slain-- which was going on at
that very moment!). But the time of actual transfer of property has not yet arrived, because God also planned to include non-Jews, as James said in
the so-called "Jerusalem Council" in Acts, and Paul later said that the end will not come "until the full number (lit. ship's complement) of
Gentiles has arrived".
So there is much more going on here than meets the eye; there is a cosmic chess game being played, and God will win but not by cheating or pulling
rank, but by playing according to agreed upon rules.
Why would an infinitely kind God condemn anyone to hell without trying to personally lead him to salvation - he knows the nature of
critical thought for he created it.
Who says he didn't? In light of what I just wrote about limited free will and cosmic chess, I think him coming down among us personally, sticking
around for three years, then rising from the dead is bending over backwards to tell us. We are called his "ambassadors" and though we fail miserably
at the job, many of us do try, and God will take all our human frailties into account. I honestly think that some people could watch Jesus walk on
water, raise others from the dead, and create a dinosaur in front of their very eyes and they'd still demand "proof".
Why would he place emphasis on the literal story of creationism in light of the nature of evolution of the universe? I.e. Why make it
difficult for intellectuals to believe? Within this discussion, I have seen very little debate from your end - rather the affirmation of your
own beliefs. It's nice to see you're open-minded with your approach, but you still seem to base your perspectives within the confines of the Bible.
That's a whole other can of worms as you know. But for now I'll just say that I don't need anything but hard, empirical science to debunk the
THEORY of evolution, which doesn't even deserve to be called "scientific" because it cannot be falsified; red blood cells in dino bones and
discoveries of "living fossils" (a most amusing oxymoron) have only made the ToE shapeshift instead of its followers admitting these things disprove
its very foundation. I'll just give you a few links and leave that for another day:
(the last one was written by someone whose demeanor I don't condone, but he makes good points about biology)
It is not a choice - if someone finds it impossible to believe in God through the very free will that God has granted them, surely therein lies
a contradiction? Believing in something you don't believe in is not an option - it is better to be honest. Or as our friend Ghandi said, 'It is
better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart'.
Choosing to reject an argument is not a loss of choice at all; in fact, for choice to exist there must be at least two opposing paths, each of which
is viable. The expression "no-brainer" is a good description of "choosing" something so obvious that no real choice is necessary. I see no
contradiction at all in calling it free will to choose whether or not to be reconciled to God. If you don't believe this, or that there is a God to
reconcile with, you came to that point (hopefully) by examining evidence and then choosing what to do with it. For example, not all cosmologists
accept the Big Bang Theory; many now support the "plasma" theory, and most of them are not creationists either. They have the same facts to examine,
the same phenomena to observe, but come to two very different conclusions. That's a choice.
Within this discussion, I have seen very little debate from your end - rather the affirmation of your own beliefs. It's nice to see you're
open-minded with your approach, but you still seem to base your perspectives within the confines of the Bible.
Honestly, I consider your comments in the exact same way. You confine yourself to what you can observe, while I think it's reasonable to deduce
certain things from what is observed, though I cannot prove them. You too give your opinions and have made several assertions about Jesus and the
Bible without knowing either very well through years of study.
Upon what does the modern Christian base the belief that Jesus is God in the flesh who rose from the dead? One can be humble before God, but
surely God himself is not egotistical. Why create someone for the sole purpose of worshipping you? That does not really match the description of God
as infinitely wise, compassionate, etc.
How can God be egotistical? The def. of that word is to think more highly of one's self than is warranted, but that is impossible for God. And what
about the fact that Jesus "humbled himself" (Phil. 2:5-11) to become one of us and die a horrible death for us? I've already stated what I base
that on, BTW. And who are you to presume God's reason for making us? Have you considered that what he wants from us is love, which is only genuine if
given freely? You also make yourself the judge of your creator, a notion I find incredibly arrogant and egotistical. Just sayin'.
Few courts would accept eyewitness testimony alone. This would lead to serious problems.
Did I say what was the sum total of my reasoning? Courts also use circumstantial evidence, examine motives, corroborate testimonies, etc. Read the
Greenleaf doc and then see if you think he was a poor lawyer.
Um, yeah... how do you know 100% that God wrote it?
I already gave one reason: no one would write a book that condemns the writer. Another is fulfilled prophecy, and I'll just recommend to you the book
Daniel In The Critics' Den for details. You might also actually try reading the Bible for yourself and then compare it to other writings of the time,
as well as other religious writings of other times. But that will take you years, so no need to respond immediately. ;-)
Irrelevant - if the same number of people said he did and documented this eyewitness testimony, would it make it true? Surely, his achievements
are even more noble seeing as he was not pre-determinedly special in any way at all?
Not irrelevant at all; I was pointing out the uniqueness of Jesus among great figures of history. We both agree there have been many good teachers,
but there is only one who rose from the dead or whose followers made such a claim.
Indeed I do, I apply it to the media and current writings as well..
Yet you haven't studied the Bible but critique it nonetheless. I find that inconsistent. o.O
I don't demand proof, I question how you can justify such claims. My opinion is that the lessons that have been taught from his example are
relevant and positive. However, it is impossible to objectively know if he was resurrected without a particular personal experience to
consolidate this belief. In light of this, if he was a liar or a lunatic, he still could have been good. .
If you haven't demanded proof then what has this whole conversation been about? And here again you deny eyewitness testimony about the resurrection
of Jesus yet claim you don't always demand that level of proof. I also strongly disagree that a liar or a lunatic is considered "good".
I never purported to know a lot about Jesus.
It was obvious from your comments, as you made several assertions.
With your quotes in consideration, could you logically explain how his death is relevant to my sins? I had not yet sinned when he died. Are all
my future sins forgiven because he died for them? Are the sins of all those who lived before his death wiped clean?
You seem to presume that the effects of Jesus' sacrifice are limited to the time in which it was made; I don't know of any basis for that
presumption. But consider that relationship and reconciliation I keep talking about: do people who have reconciled continually irritate each other or
ignore each other? We mere mortals know better than that. What Jesus did was make it possible for us to reconcile by faith alone, by simply accepting
what God is offering, and the reasons for that are as I said detailed in my Reconciled book.
Point being, that the sins Jesus paid for are the ones you admit and repent of, but this only holds true for those who have put their trust in Jesus
as Savior. In fact, such people are "adopted" as children of God and heirs to his "wealth" and blessings. As one of those children you would not
have to pay for defying the infinite and holy God any more than an adopted child in this life is disowned on the occasion of every misbehavior. God
loves his children and wants them to love him too, but we aren't his children if we ignore him or continually do things we know he hates. There are
many in the churches who think salvation is a license to sin, and I seriously have to question their salvation in those cases, considering the
importance of reconciliation and all that implies. But such people are not God's or Jesus' fault; we have the Bible, we have the Holy Spirit
(scripture calls him "a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance"), and God will base the rewards his children get on what they did with what they were
In fact, that last sentence is the answer to a lot of question: God is a fair judge and will weigh everything. None of us has all the answers and it
isn't fair to demand them of fellow human beings. But I trust God to judge us according to what we had or knew. Jesus also said that we will be
judged according to the standard we have used for other people-- a great motivation for leniency. I'm sure I've done an imperfect job of defending
my faith, but it's the best I've got, and God will honor that. He'll also take pity on anyone who comes to him sincerely wanting to know him. The
key is attitude.