How do Christians possibly rationalize these things?

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Justin
 
Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2008 06:59 pm
@midas77,
Wasn't Romans written by the Apostle Paul? Was Paul actually an Apostle at all because I don't believe there to be any evidence supporting that Paul was in any contact with Jesus or any association with the twelve disciples until after the Damascus road incident, Acts 9 and never actually met Jesus at all. Paul was not among the twelve disciples named by Jesus. I believe that Paul came into the picture and sort of slid in after Judas betrayed Jesus. So Paul would have come into the picture during or even after the crucifixion of Jesus. Prior to that didn't Paul persecuted the followers of Jesus?

Paul, the same Paul... wrote much of the new testament, (supposedly). This was after his self proclaimed apostleship of Christ of whom he had never actually met. We're talking about the books of Acts, Romans, First and Second Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Timothy, Titus and a few others we're connected to Paul.

It was Paul who created Christianity, not Jesus. This is just the beginning of where Christianity is mixed up. Christians may think they follow the words of Jesus but it was Paul who did the preaching in Paul's own words and Jesus himself never knew of Paul. Paul simply made claims of being personally inspired by the resurrected Christ.

Luke, who wrote acts was a follower of Paul. Paul was a proclaimed follower of the Jesus he never met. What would Jesus have thought of Paul?

The very foundation of Christianity is based on the preachings of Paul and the following of Paul, not Jesus. We learned about Paul from Paul's letters, (which seem to be more of an autobiography) and also information from his follower Luke. Luke pretty much worshiped Paul so the accounts of Paul written in Acts would have been somewhat biased.

Needless to say, Paul was a made man..., made by Paul. Smile Full of deception and lies and the founding father of what we today called Christianity. Some Christians believe Paul was a Pharisee and a Rabi which he never was. He was a Greek with a good line of bull, so good he began to believe it himself.

So, understand that the Bible was written by men. Some good, some bad but written over a great period of time by human beings with emotions, perception, ideas, ancestry, philosophy and autonomous Mind. Nothing in the Bible should be taken for the entire truth. It's about man leading man through the teachings of man. Christianity has more to do with Pauline Religion, with a Judaism background than anything else.

Man has led man through the centuries and history... and continues to do so. Man has led man down this path of religion since the beginning of religion. Man can say he was inspired by God or by the resurrected Christ through what he or she writes and proclaims as the work of God... however, it's man's creation.

Take it for what it's worth and be careful of what you read. The knowing of truth is the knowing of oneself and seeing that light within others.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2008 07:24 pm
@Justin,
Quote:
Okay, here it is then. If you tell me afterward that, for whatever reason, you don't accept the given book that this passage comes from, I'll leave it there and I won't question you on it.
Yeah, I'm not a big fan of the Gospel of John, and this sermon is traditionally thought to be of the same author, and if not, certainly is grounded in the Gospel of John as opposed to being grounded in the Synoptic Gospels.

Quote:
1 John 3:8 "He that committeth sin is of the Devil;"

and 1 John 3:9 "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin;"
The first passage, 1 John 3:8, in full, basically says that sin is the devil's work, to sin is to do the devil's work, and that Jesus was sent to save mankind from sin.

The second passage is a reaffirmation of the concept we find in the Gospel of John - that Jesus is the only begotten son of God. And, of course, Jesus is almost always thought of as being without sin. The idea that Jesus is the only begotten Son is, in my opinion, contradicted in the Synoptic Gospels.

Of course, we might be a little nicer to John. Perhaps he meant that Jesus was the Son of God, in a way that the rest of us are not, because Jesus was such a great teacher. Even this, though, I have trouble accepting because according to John, Jesus would be the only such teacher - and I've nothing against the Buddha, Lao Tzu, et al.

Then again, the whole debate amounts to an argument over the proper way to apply figures of speech. To say that someone is 'of the devil' in the way John does is just to say that someone is a sinner. To say that someone is the child of God seems to imply that someone is of God's creation.

Quote:
It was Paul who created Christianity, not Jesus. This is just the beginning of where Christianity is mixed up. Christians may think they follow the words of Jesus but it was Paul who did the preaching in Paul's own words and Jesus himself never knew of Paul. Paul simply made claims of being personally inspired by the resurrected Christ.
Sort of. Paul is responsible for the dominant modes of Christianity; Paul's theology won the political battle early on. However, Christianity did exist prior to Paul's work coming to dominate the landscape, and at least some Christians have always resisted Paul.

If you've ever seen me use the term 'Paulist', this is why.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2008 08:29 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
Sort of. Paul is responsible for the dominant modes of Christianity; Paul's theology won the political battle early on. However, Christianity did exist prior to Paul's work coming to dominate the landscape, and at least some Christians have always resisted Paul.
In my limited study of this subject, I've been under the impression that in practical terms Christianity would have never gone beyond a small branch of Judaism were it not for Paul. His major contribution was allowing pagans to convert directly to Christianity without having to observe the Jewish covenant first.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2008 09:16 pm
@Aedes,
Quote:
In my limited study of this subject, I've been under the impression that in practical terms Christianity would have never gone beyond a small branch of Judaism were it not for Paul. His major contribution was allowing pagans to convert directly to Christianity without having to observe the Jewish covenant first.


Basically, yes. He was not the only one to gain non-Jewish converts, but he was remarkably successful at converting pagans - far more than any of his peers.

Apparently, though, Peter was the one initially responsible for allowing gentile conversions to Christianity. I'm not sure what sort of stipulations he envisioned, so perhaps it was Paul who first allowed them to convert without observing articles of Jewish faith.

There is a lot of recent scholarship about Paul, his message, and the way the early church handled these sorts of issues. Much is up for debate, and I am woefully ignorant of the various schools of thought.
 
Justin
 
Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2008 11:44 pm
@Aedes,
Yeah Aedes, you have a point.

After reading my post and editing a few times, didn't take the time to read it completely. Added a couple thoughts and edited a few sentences.

It's just important to understand that it's mankind who is leading mankind. Has been for ages. There's good in all things, including the Bible and Christianity, it's how we choose to perceive it that makes the difference. Man wrote the book. Man created the laws. Man formed the Bible and many other things. The tendency in human nature is to seek answers in other things, other people and other deity... never seeking within themselves.

So how can anyone justify these passages? Something to think about.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Fri 27 Jun, 2008 12:35 am
@Justin,
Quote:
It's just important to understand that it's mankind who is leading mankind. Has been for ages. There's good in all things, including the Bible and Christianity, it's how we choose to perceive it that makes the difference. Man wrote the book. Man created the laws. Man formed the Bible and many other things. The tendency in human nature is to seek answers in other things, other people and other deity... never seeking within themselves.


You're absolutely right, Justin.

There is a terribly dangerous trend in the world, a religious movement wherein the utterance of a few phrases and absolute, unquestioning faith are sufficient for Heaven (or enlightenment, ect.) - this movement has worshipers not only uphold the obnoxious notion that their path is the one true path and that all others are false or evil, but more importantly, they have, in their minds, no further need of self-exploration.

This sort of belief is not new, but it is gaining remarkable popularity in many faith traditions, western and eastern.

Quote:
So how can anyone justify these passages? Something to think about.


What is there to justify? The passages come from a work of literature, and there is more violent and graphic literature than the anything the Bible has to offer.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Fri 27 Jun, 2008 06:04 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
There is a terribly dangerous trend in the world, a religious movement wherein the utterance of a few phrases and absolute, unquestioning faith are sufficient for Heaven (or enlightenment, ect.) - this movement has worshipers not only uphold the obnoxious notion that their path is the one true path and that all others are false or evil, but more importantly, they have, in their minds, no further need of self-exploration.
I'm not sure that's anything new, though. It was a lot worse in the counter-Reformation than it is right now, it was certainly worse in medieval times, and of course in antiquity there was no shortage of hostility between different sects of Jews, Christians, etc, as well as different sects within Roman / Greek / Norse paganism.

When we go back and study, for instance, the Pharisees versus the Sagisees, we're amalgamating a lot of source material that gives us overviews of the movements. But I'd bet there were a lot of angry teenage boys who followed one group or another, and were just as unsophisticated about it as any modern fundamentalist.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Fri 27 Jun, 2008 06:12 am
@Aedes,
Right, fundamentalism is not new. The problem is that the phenomena seems to be growing - in India, for example, Hindu fundamentalism is gaining significant ground.

And how often do we hear overtones of Jewish fundamentalism in the mouths of American policy makers? Israel's politics are heavily influenced by Jewish fundamentalism, just as American politics are heavily influenced by Christian fundamentalism.

Maybe that, if anything else, is what is new - the US established a wall of separation between church and state, and now fundamentalists elements are trying to reestablish religion in government - with greater vigor than I can recall from any period of our nation's past. Reagan's conservative coalition has been devastating.
 
Solace
 
Reply Fri 27 Jun, 2008 09:39 am
@Didymos Thomas,
DT,

Very interesting. I didn't know there was really much disparity between the gospel of John and the others. I think most Christians just assume that "only begotten son" refers to the notion of Jesus' immaculate conception. Are there other differences between John and the Synoptic Gospels that bother you?

Justin is right, a great deal of Christianity is based on Paul's teachings. But we could just as easily dismiss Jesus' teachings as "a good line of bull" as Paul's. I suppose it's all a matter of what makes sense to the reader.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Mon 30 Jun, 2008 08:48 pm
@Solace,
Quote:
Very interesting. I didn't know there was really much disparity between the gospel of John and the others. I think most Christians just assume that "only begotten son" refers to the notion of Jesus' immaculate conception. Are there other differences between John and the Synoptic Gospels that bother you?
The differences between the Synoptic Gospels and John is the subject of a great deal of study. Hit wikipedia for an introduction to some of the ideas, and a google search will provide more valuable and insightful sources, and if you really wanted to do some scholarship books are easily found. The best thing to do, however, is just read them yourself. Christian or otherwise, the four canonical Gospels are foundational to western literature, and a pretty good read. Approach them for what they, at the very least, must be - narratives of a fictional thinker. It is very possible Jesus never existed.

Quote:
Justin is right, a great deal of Christianity is based on Paul's teachings. But we could just as easily dismiss Jesus' teachings as "a good line of bull" as Paul's. I suppose it's all a matter of what makes sense to the reader.
Yes, we could. I wouldn't use the term Christian for people who do this, but there's nothing necessarily wrong with admiring Paul more than Jesus. There were even groups contemporary to the early Christians who thought John the Baptist to be the true Messiah, instead of Jesus of Nazareth.

For me, though, I don't care to much who the teacher is supposed to be. I don't care if it's Jesus, Buddha, or whoever else - the teaching is what matters.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Mon 30 Jun, 2008 09:07 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
For me, though, I don't care to much who the teacher is supposed to be. I don't care if it's Jesus, Buddha, or whoever else - the teaching is what matters.
If only religion were so open-minded -- but that's not human nature. It reminds me of a great passage by Dostoyevsky from The Brothers Karamazov (from the Grand Inquisitor passage). It relates how mankind will strive for nothing as earnestly as finding someone to follow. So the figurehead is synonymized with the message -- and that's how religion is extended to the masses. Because humanity doesn't only want answers to eternal questions -- humanity wants a father figure, it wants protection, it wants to be safe.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Mon 30 Jun, 2008 09:35 pm
@Aedes,
Quote:
If only religion were so open-minded -- but that's not human nature. It reminds me of a great passage by Dostoyevsky from The Brothers Karamazov (from the Grand Inquisitor passage). It relates how mankind will strive for nothing as earnestly as finding someone to follow. So the figurehead is synonymized with the message -- and that's how religion is extended to the masses. Because humanity doesn't only want answers to eternal questions -- humanity wants a father figure, it wants protection, it wants to be safe.


I still need to read that book.

You're right - and people feel safe when the answers come from one source, when they are not responsible for investigating things for themselves.

Some faith traditions have a tendency to be more open minded than others. In organized Christianity, the adoption of new doctrines and ideas has been, almost exclusively, political. The Buddha famously taught to doubt everything you hear, even his words. Zen Buddhism is essentially Tibetan Buddhism informed by Taoist teachings, and the merger does not seem to be political - the Buddhists were not trying to make their beliefs appeal to a conquered people. Buddhist traditions also have a habit of elevating non-Buddhist teachers to divine status; Jesus is often considered a Bodhisattva. Baha'i doctrine is based on embracing a variety of spiritual teachers as a sort of progression of the same spiritual teaching over time, given to different peoples in different places.

Traditional Chinese and Japanese religious practices also seem, at least at some point in their history, open to new ideas. You can see this in the variety of deities commonly found in these temples.
 
Solace
 
Reply Wed 2 Jul, 2008 08:30 am
@Didymos Thomas,
DT,

Thanks for the tips; I've found some interesting stuff already. One thing I did read which could explain why, especially the early, Christians paid so much attention to Paul, is that it is believed that Paul's letters are older than the Gospels. If that's so, then many early Christians might have been exposed to Paul's teachings first, and Christ's teachings later.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Wed 2 Jul, 2008 05:56 pm
@Solace,
If you want to know why some Christian perspectives thrived, and others were persecuted, look to the politics of the time. I'm sure the date these texts enter circulation had some influence, but the politics involved (the ability to persecute some and give power to others) are probably far more influential.

The dates of Biblical material is in dispute, some more than others. Paul's letters are, regardless of what side you take on those disputes, some of the earliest texts still available. Some scholars theorize that another Gospel existed, and is now lost, that provided the basis for some of the canonical Gospels (Q document) and this source would have existed prior to Paul's letters. Also, if we take the early date for the Gospel of Thomas, this text predates Paul's letters.
 
Solace
 
Reply Thu 3 Jul, 2008 08:03 am
@Didymos Thomas,
I'm going to have to find the Gospel of Thomas and give it a read.

There's a saying about this that goes; persecution makes us grow. No doubt some ideas were quashed via persecution, but it's likely that some ideas were brought into the public eye and thus found a wider audience because of persecution as well. Politics can be a two-edged sword I guess.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Thu 3 Jul, 2008 09:06 am
@Solace,
The Gospel of Thomas Collection -- The Gnostic Society Library

Quote:
There's a saying about this that goes; persecution makes us grow. No doubt some ideas were quashed via persecution, but it's likely that some ideas were brought into the public eye and thus found a wider audience because of persecution as well. Politics can be a two-edged sword I guess.


This statement holds more truth in today's world than it did in 50-400CE. Politics have changed a great deal, the transfer of information has changed a great deal, and, well, it's just more politically complicated to kill everyone now-a-days. At least for the most part.
 
philbo
 
Reply Wed 6 Aug, 2008 02:14 pm
@Mephistopheles phil,
Hey, this thread's still going...

A quick "hello", and to say I came across this thread and forum from the initial post which I stumbled across when researching "Brush Up Your Scripture", a parody to "Brush Up Your Shakespeare" by Cole Porter. Thanks to Mephistopheles for putting them all together in one place, made my job lots easier Smile

Thread title sums it up beautifully: how on earth *do* Christians rationalize some of these really quite repellent bits of scripture?
 
FatalMuse
 
Reply Wed 6 Aug, 2008 04:24 pm
@philbo,
Apologies for not reading the whole 16 pages of this thread. I've read the OP and the last 2 pages.

My reasoning and rationale regarding the scriptures is that I see the Bible as written by man, not God, which explains some of the odd parts of the scripture. It is man recording what he thinks God wants him to do. This also explains a lot of the contradictions between books. I know this view would be complete heresy to a lot of churches and is probably a big factor in why I'm not a member of a church. So, I not only take the non-literal approach to the Bible, but also see it as a work of man with warts & all.
 
midas77
 
Reply Thu 7 Aug, 2008 07:53 am
@FatalMuse,
FatalMuse. The Catholic Church seems to agree with you. The Bible must be understood according to its literary form, never a purely historical and scientific account. If you wish you may read the document, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation - Dei Verbum,

It should also be noted that this view was actually develop by their Protestant counterparts. The confusion on how to interpret the Bible comes from, I think, the tendency of the common people to shun scholarly research which is essential in interpreting the Bible.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Thu 7 Aug, 2008 02:32 pm
@midas77,
Quote:
It should also be noted that this view was actually develop by their Protestant counterparts. The confusion on how to interpret the Bible comes from, I think, the tendency of the common people to shun scholarly research which is essential in interpreting the Bible.


Literal interpretations of the Bible is a very modern development. In response to increased secularism, and the feeling that religion is losing it's place in society, some react by demanding extreme interpretations of religious texts. People fear losing their faith tradition and react by clinging to the tradition.
 
 

 
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