thanks, I really do appreciate your input. I still have strong Christian roots. However in the environment I grew up in, there was not a real understanding of what I now understand as the transformational aspect of the teaching. This is why I studied Eastern religions. I am glad I did and don't regret it for one moment. It has actually helped me to understand the life and teachings a lot better than I would have.
Not a problem at all. Believe it or not, I actually studied Eastern philosophy before coming to Jesus, which inevitably delved into religion, for Eastern philosophy and religion are most often one and the same. While it was primarily for the purposes of enhancing my knowledge and familiarity with hand-to-hand combat, it became one of the two-fold sources of my past religious beliefs (the other side being Native American mythology). There is certainly much to be gained from studying Eastern thought, but the true faith descends from the Ancient Near East, specifically from the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and, eventually, the Christians.
---------- Post added 05-10-2010 at 09:59 AM ----------
I guess the literal interpretation that you have taken on this thread that I have taken issue with is your literal interpretation of John 14:6, which you have heretofore used to say that Jesus is the only path to God.
Let's take a look at the scripture. Initially, I will address the Gospel, but, if necessary, we can take a look at the New Testament as a whole and, then, the Old Testament for related scripture to further build context.
In the immediate context of the passage, Jesus is comforting His disciples, saying, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going."
Thomas asks, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" To which Jesus responds, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Jesus was very direct and left no room for another interpretation of His meaning. Perhaps, though, this is not enough as is.
Proceeding this, Jesus spoke, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son
" (John 3:16-18). While I am quite content with this, I will go further - beyond the Gospel.
The rulers, elders, and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem and had both Peter and John brought before them to inquire as to how or by what authority they were doing what they did, to which Peter, filled with the Spirit, said, "Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.
I do believe the Bible is true. What we are debating is interpretations of the Bible (Calvin/Arminius modern-day). Every detail in the Bible does not have to be factually accurate in order for me to understand its truth. In fact, it is incredibly easy, just on casual reading, to discover that the Bible has factual errors/fallacies of which I could rattle off a dozen without too much thought. The Bible wasn't written as a historical textbook; it was written as spiritual inspiration. This explains why it's a pretty crappy historical textbook and an amazing book of spiritual inspiration.
The Bible consists of numerous books and letters, which were meant to both record history and
inspire the chosen to faith and obedience. As for a historical record, the Bible actually shines, but the historical aspect of the text often serves best as a chronological context for the writing to help provide a better understanding of the meaning in that which was meant to inspire. I would encourage you to provide the factual errors/fallacies and then we can continue with this end of the discussion.
I don't understand what you're driving at here, but I would rather have a discussion than be an opposition.
Most, if not all, discussions are not unlike the game of chess. Even when there is no hostility, one must both assess the meaning of what is being written and plot out potential outcomes. Philosophers often think this way in the sense of the consequences and weaknesses of their ideas and writings.