Opinion by Reza Aslan, special to CNN
(CNN) – When I was 15 years old, I found Jesus.
I spent the summer of my sophomore year at an evangelical youth camp in Northern California, a place of timbered fields and boundless blue skies, where, given enough time and stillness and soft-spoken encouragement, one could not help but hear the voice of God.
Amid the man-made lakes and majestic pines my friends and I sang songs, played games and swapped secrets, rollicking in our freedom from the pressures of home and school.
In the evenings, we gathered in a fire-lit assembly hall at the center of the camp. It was there that I heard a remarkable story that would change my life forever.
Two thousand years ago, I was told, in an ancient land called Galilee, the God of heaven and Earth was born in the form of a helpless child. The child grew into a blameless man. The man became the Christ, the savior of humanity.
Through his words and miraculous deeds, he challenged the Jews who thought they were the chosen of God, and in return he was nailed to a cross. Though Jesus could have saved himself from that gruesome death, he freely chose to die.
Indeed, his death was the point of it all, for his sacrifice freed us all from the burden of our sins.
But the story did not end there, because three days later, he rose again, exalted and divine, so that now, all who believe in him and accept him into their hearts will also never die, but have eternal life.
For a kid raised in a motley family of lukewarm Muslims and exuberant atheists, this was truly the greatest story ever told. Never before had I felt so intimately the pull of God.
In Iran, the place of my birth, I was Muslim in much the way I was Persian. My religion and my ethnicity were mutual and linked. Like most people born into a religious tradition, my faith was as familiar to me as my skin, and just as disregardable.
After the Iranian revolution forced my family to flee our home, religion in general, and Islam in particular, became taboo in our household. Islam was shorthand for everything we had lost to the mullahs who now ruled Iran.
My mother still prayed when no one was looking, and you could still find a stray Quran or two hidden in a closet or a drawer somewhere. But, for the most part, our lives were scrubbed of all trace of God.
That was just fine with me. After all, in the America of the 1980s, being Muslim was like being from Mars. My faith was a bruise, the most obvious symbol of my otherness; it needed to be concealed.
Jesus, on the other hand, was America. He was the central figure in America’s national drama. Accepting him into my heart was as close as I could get to feeling truly American.
I do not mean to say that mine was a conversion of convenience. On the contrary, I burned with absolute devotion to my newfound faith.
I was presented with a Jesus who was less “Lord and Savior” than he was a best friend, someone with whom I could have a deep and personal relationship. As a teenager trying to make sense of an indeterminate world I had only just become aware of, this was an invitation I could not refuse.
The moment I returned home from camp, I began eagerly to share the good news of Jesus Christ with my friends and family, my neighbors and classmates, with people I’d just met and with strangers on the street: those who heard it gladly, and those who threw it back in my face.
Yet something unexpected happened in my quest to save the souls of the world.
The more I probed the Bible to arm myself against the doubts of unbelievers, the more distance I discovered between the Jesus of the Gospels and the Jesus of history – between Jesus the Christ and Jesus of Nazareth.
In college, where I began my formal study of the history of religions, that initial discomfort soon ballooned into full-blown doubts.
The bedrock of evangelical Christianity, at least as it was taught to me, is the unconditional belief that every word of the Bible is God-breathed and true, literal and inerrant.
The sudden realization that this belief is patently and irrefutably false, that the Bible is replete with the most blatant and obvious errors and contradictions — just as one would expect from a document written by hundreds of different hands across thousands of years — left me confused and spiritually unmoored.
And so, like many people in my situation, I angrily discarded my faith as if it were a costly forgery I had been duped into buying.
I began to rethink the faith and culture of my forefathers, finding in them a deeper, more intimate familiarity than I ever had as a child, the kind that comes from reconnecting with an old friend after many years apart.
Meanwhile, I continued my academic work in religious studies, delving back into the Bible not as an unquestioning believer but as an inquisitive scholar. No longer chained to the assumption that the stories I read were literally true, I became aware of a more meaningful truth in the text.
Ironically, the more I learned about the life of the historical Jesus, the turbulent world in which he lived, and the brutality of the Roman occupation that he defied, the more I was drawn to him.
The Jewish peasant and revolutionary who challenged the rule of the most powerful empire the world had ever known became so much more real to me than the detached, unearthly being I had been introduced to in church.
Today, I can confidently say that two decades of rigorous academic research into the origins of Christianity has made me a more genuinely committed disciple of Jesus of Nazareth than I ever was of Jesus Christ.
I have modeled my life not after the celestial spirit whom many Christians believe sacrificed himself for our sins, but rather after the illiterate, marginal Jew who gave his life fighting an unwinnable battle against the religious and political powers of his day on behalf of the poor and the dispossessed – those his society deemed unworthy of saving.
I wrote my newest book, "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth" in order to spread the good news of the Jesus of history with the same fervor that I once applied to spreading the story of the Christ.
Because I am convinced that one can be a devoted follower of Jesus without being a Christian, just as I know that one can be a Christian without being a follower of Jesus.
Reza Aslan is a bestselling author and a scholar of religion. This article was adapted from his newest book, "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth." The views expressed in this column are Aslan's alone.
Why would Reza have the audacity to think we should accept his invented account of Jesus over the “invented” account of the gospel writers? Seriously?
Isaiah 53 is definitely about Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ was prophesied in many parts of the Old Testament that were written during 4000, 1000, 700, 500, and 400 BC. That include Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Jonah, Micah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. Over 300 of those prophecies were fulfilled, and the total fulfillment takes place during the Second Coming of Him.
The prophecies about the actual Jewish Messiah include:
* The Sanhedrin will be re-established (Isaiah 1:26)
* Once he is King, leaders of other nations will look to him for guidance. (Isaiah 2:4)
* The whole world will worship the One God of Israel (Isaiah 2:17)
* He will be descended from King David (Isaiah 11:1) via King Solomon (1 Chron. 22:8-10)
* The Moshiach will be a man of this world, an observant Jew with "fear of God" (Isaiah 11:2) (In other words – this must all be accomplished in a human lifetime)
* Evil and tyranny will not be able to stand before his leadership (Isaiah 11:4)
* Knowledge of God will fill the world (Isaiah 11:9)
* He will include and attract people from all cultures and nations (Isaiah 11:10)
* All Israelites will be returned to their homeland (Isaiah 11:12)
* Death will be swallowed up forever (Isaiah 25:8)
* There will be no more hunger or illness, and death will cease (Isaiah 25:8)
* All of the dead will rise again (Isaiah 26:19)
* The Jewish people will experience eternal joy and gladness (Isaiah 51:11)
* He will be a messenger of peace (Isaiah 52:7)
* Nations will end up recognizing the wrongs they did to Israel (Isaiah 52:13-53:5) (Ironic, considering how Jesus ushered in anti-Semitism)
* The peoples of the world will turn to the Jews for spiritual guidance (Zechariah 8:23)
* The ruined cities of Israel will be restored (Ezekiel 16:55)
* Weapons of war will be destroyed (Ezekiel 39:9)
* The Temple will be rebuilt (Ezekiel 40) resuming many of the suspended mitzvot
* He will then perfect the entire world to serve God together (Zephaniah 3:9)
* Jews will know the Torah without Study (Jeremiah 31:33)
* He will give you all the desires of your heart (Psalms 37:4)
* He will take the barren land and make it abundant and fruitful (Isaiah 51:3, Amos 9:13-15, Ezekiel 36:29-30, Isaiah 11:6-9).
Again, all supposed to be accomplished by a human, during his long lifetime. No "second coming". No divinity. No getting himself nailed to a cross at middle-age. In order to make Jesus into the Messiah, you have to redefine who the messiah is, which changes everything.
"Isa 29:16 Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter's clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?"
These are actual messianic prophesies. Can you honestly say that they match what Jesus did in his lifetime?
Ken, Jesus is still alive, resurrected, and the end hasn't come yet....... there's still time to repent :)
Please specify in the Bible where it says ALL these events will take event DURING Jesus's time on earth. This is how versus are taken out of context to "prove" contradictions.
Verses don't need to be taken out of context to prove contradictions. There are plenty of straight-forward ones.
Ultimately the jews wanted a war mongerer that would slaughter the romans and whatever tribe tried to breath around them and Jesus turned out to be a hippy preaching the golden rule. What an anti-semite jerk.
The "New Torah for Modern Minds":
"Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.
Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.
The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument."
"The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel – not one shard of pottery."
So the various authors of the NT knew what to aim for when creating the Jesus mythology; there is little evidence that Jesus existed and none that he was divine.
From Professors Crossan and Watts' book, Who is Jesus.
"That Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate, as the Creed states, is as certain as anything historical can ever be.
“ The Jewish historian, Josephus and the pagan historian Tacitus both agree that Jesus was executed by order of the Roman governor of Judea. And is very hard to imagine that Jesus' followers would have invented such a story unless it indeed happened.
“While the brute fact that of Jesus' death by crucifixion is historically certain, however, those detailed narratives in our present gospels are much more problematic. "
“My best historical reconstruction would be something like this. Jesus was arrested during the Passover festival, most likely in response to his action in the Temple. Those who were closest to him ran away for their own safety.
I do not presume that there were any high-level confrontations between Caiaphas and Pilate and Herod Antipas either about Jesus or with Jesus. No doubt they would have agreed before the festival that fast action was to be taken against any disturbance and that a few examples by crucifixion might be especially useful at the outset. And I doubt very much if Jewish police or Roman soldiers needed to go too far up the chain of command in handling a Galilean peasant like Jesus. It is hard for us to imagine the casual brutality with which Jesus was probably taken and executed. All those "last week" details in our gospels, as distinct from the brute facts just mentioned, are prophecy turned into history, rather than history remembered."
See also Professor Crossan's reviews of the existence of Jesus in his other books especially, The Historical Jesus and also Excavating Jesus (with Professor Jonathan Reed doing the archeology discussion) .
Other NT exegetes to include members of the Jesus Seminar have published similar books with appropriate supporting references.
Part of Crossan's The Historical Jesus has been published online at books.google.com/books.
There is also a search engine for this book on the right hand side of the opening page. e.g. Search Josephus
See also Wikipedia's review on the historical Jesus to include the Tacitus' reference to the crucifixion of Jesus.
"One of the greatest historians of ancient Rome, Cornelius Tacitus is a primary source for much of what is known about life the first and second centuries after the life of Jesus. His most famous works, Histories and Annals, exist in fragmentary form, though many of his earlier writings were lost to time. Tacitus is known for being generally reliable (if somewhat biased toward what he saw as Roman immorality) and for having a uniquely direct (if not blunt) writing style.
Then there are these scriptural references:
Crucifixion of Jesus:(1) 1 Cor 15:3b; (2a) Gos. Pet. 4:10-5:16,18-20; 6:22; (2b) Mark 15:22-38 = Matt 27:33-51a = Luke 23:32-46; (2c) John 19:17b-25a,28-36; (3) Barn. 7:3-5; (4a) 1 Clem. 16:3-4 (=Isaiah 53:1-12); (4b) 1 Clem. 16.15-16 (=Psalm 22:6-8); (5a) Ign. Mag. 11; (5b) Ign. Trall. 9:1b; (5c) Ign. Smyrn. 1.2.- (read them all at wiki.faithfutures. Crucifixion org/index.php/005_Crucifixion_Of_Jesus )
Added suggested readings:
o 1. Historical Jesus Theories, earlychristianwritings.com/theories.htm – the names of many of the contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the ti-tles of their over 100 books on the subject.
2. Early Christian Writings, earlychristianwritings.com/
– a list of early Christian doc-uments to include the year of publication–
30-60 CE Passion Narrative
40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q
50-60 1 Thessalonians
50-60 1 Corinthians
50-60 2 Corinthians
50-90 Signs Gospel
50-95 Book of Hebrews
50-140 Gospel of Thomas
50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel
50-200 Sophia of Jesus Christ
65-80 Gospel of Mark
70-100 Epistle of James
70-120 Egerton Gospel
70-160 Gospel of Peter
70-160 Secret Mark
70-200 Fayyum Fragment
70-200 Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
73-200 Mara Bar Serapion
80-100 2 Thessalonians
80-100 Gospel of Matthew
80-110 1 Peter
80-120 Epistle of Barnabas
80-130 Gospel of Luke
80-130 Acts of the Apostles
80-140 1 Clement
80-150 Gospel of the Egyptians
80-150 Gospel of the Hebrews
80-250 Christian Sibyllines
90-95 Apocalypse of John
90-120 Gospel of John
90-120 1 John
90-120 2 John
90-120 3 John
90-120 Epistle of Jude
93 Flavius Josephus
100-150 1 Timothy
100-150 2 Timothy
100-150 Apocalypse of Peter
100-150 Secret Book of James
100-150 Preaching of Peter
100-160 Gospel of the Ebionites
100-160 Gospel of the Nazoreans
100-160 Shepherd of Hermas
100-160 2 Peter
3. Historical Jesus Studies, faithfutures.org/HJstudies.html,
– "an extensive and constantly expanding literature on historical research into the person and cultural context of Jesus of Nazareth"
4. Jesus Database, faithfutures.org/JDB/intro.html–"The JESUS DATABASE is an online annotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings of Jesus that have survived from the first three centuries of the Common Era. It includes both canonical and extra-canonical materials, and is not limited to the traditions found within the Christian New Testament."
5. Josephus on Jesus mtio.com/articles/bissar24.htm
6. The Jesus Seminar, mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/seminar.html#Criteria
7. Writing the New Testament- mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/testament.html
8. Health and Healing in the Land of Israel By Joe Zias
9. Economics in First Century Palestine, K.C. Hanson and D. E. Oakman, Palestine in the Time of Jesus, Fortress Press, 1998.
10.The Gnostic Jesus
(Part One in a Two-Part Series on Ancient and Modern Gnosticism)
by Douglas Groothuis: equip.or-g/free/DG040-1.htm
Again (and again, Oy!) if you read all of Isaiah you'll see that it identifies the nation of Israel as the Suffering Servant.
Ken this is true probably . And it still doens't matter because it is also who Christ is. The New Testament is the fulfillment to the foreshadowing that God gave moses of the Messiah with the festival calander, Christ fulfilled the calendar with the passover, the unleavened bread, and the first fruit of the harvest. and the day after the sabath seven weeks later, with the feast of weeks we received the Holy Ghost as omnipresent God, our Spirit Savior.
Now Ken, this is why I have the internal testimony of The Holy Spirit, who is God. This is life in Him.
The Lord Provides
Why is this so terribly difficult for you? Isaiah is not talking about Jesus, or even the Messiah in ch. 53; he is talking about Israel, the nation. How can he possibly be talking about both?
I have come to spread the word of the one true god. One day while I was sitting on the crapper I realized I was Severely constipated. I did not want to push, yet could not help it... the pain was immense. I prayed to this new shiny god, who is as white as the driven snow. cool and calm this porcelain god took pity on me and accepted all of my crap. then it magically washed away my sin leaving my body clean and fresh. His direct apostle Charmin, was soft and caring, had a sent with just a touch of aloe. together this one true god and his apostle healed my aching and made me well. this god is everywhere, you can find him in every home just waiting to cleanse you of your sin. the only form of worship this god requires is that you lower the lid when done. truly he is a miracle. you can even receive healing when you are drunk on the fermentation of grain. lift up his countenance lid, and place your head within his large tapered orifice. allow your sin to spew forth and he will never complain. in the end after you have confessed your sin, you can rest your head on him and it will be cool like the spring rain..... all hail the porcelain god... the one true god.
Once again proof that Atheist have intellectual superiority on their side...LOL
The plural of atheist (no capital 'A' is used) is atheists.
Thanks FYI that was very helpful "atheists" is that better? I am sorry after all I am a believer, which makes me pretty braindead anyway!
The same goes for scientist – scientists... and biologists, psychologists, numismatists and all of the other -ist nouns.
(Do y'all who mess up these words have lisps or something?)
Not the most glaring one (check your name, Bud).
Please don't grace us with this cr@p again, though. Satire can be effective, but this one is just silly and gross.
I have come to spread the word of the one true god. One day while I was sitting on the crapper I realized I was Severely constipated. I did not want to push, yet could not help it... the pain was immense. I prayed to this new shiny god, who is as white as the driven snow. cool and calm this porcelain god took pity on me and accepted all of my crap. then it magically washed away my sin leaving my clean and fresh. His direct apostle Charmin, was soft and caring, had a sent with just a touch of aloe. together this one true god and his apostle healed my aching and made me well. this god is everywhere, you can find him in every home just waiting to cleanse you of your sin. the only form of worship this god requires is that you lower the lid when done. truly he is a miracle. you can even receive healing when you are drunk on the fermentation of grain. lift up his countenance lid, and place your head within his large tapered orifice. allow your sin to spew forth and he will never complain. in the end after you have confessed your sin, you can rest your head on him and it will be cool like the spring rain..... all hail the porcelain god... the one true god.
So Mr. Aslan, then, is an atheist? He respects Jesus the historical figure, but not the mythical figure?
Um, maybe he's just not Christian?
A question. Okay, a couple of questions.
Consider for a moment what you believe. Just pick one thing that you believe. Think about that belief. When did it begin? Can you remember consciously choosing to believe? Can you articulate why you believe without falling back on rhetoric or quoting a book or person?
What event caused you to begin to believe? Has anything caused you to re-evaluate that belief? Change that belief?
Can you separate what you believe from what you know?
I'm not interested in jumping around the boards to find comments made to other posts, Vic.
If you would like to converse, use your words (as I say to the kids).
MILACRES OF JESUS
One flaw with your post, and my assumption is your a non-believer, is that you are talking about knowing, as in concrete knowledge. Faith is a major part of belief. For instance, Atheist believe there is no God. They have faith that there is no God...but they don't KNOW it as fact, that is impossible. Christians or Muslims or any person of faith, do not KNOW there is a God, we have faith that God exist. I know that I have revisited my faith multiple times. Became an agnostic, never went atheist...but I came back to my faith. I own it, it is not inherited and it is not out of ignorance, as so many atheist assert. It is a journey of reading and learning and experiencing life that keeps increasing my faith. As I read these blogs, I am more convinced than ever that God is real and a life in faith is far more joy filled than a life of skepticism and non-belief...
When more than 10,000 gods have been abandoned as myth, and none have ever been proven to be real, then it's more a matter of confidence in gods being a false idea than faith.
Ken, I would love to see where you got the 10,000 number...but that is beside the point. This 1 God has not been abandoned. Millions, you can do your research on the numbers; have PEACEFULLY been willing to sacrifice their lives for this 1 God. What is the difference between Christianity and all other religions? We claim that God came here and spent time with us. He was fully man and fully God. We don't say he is invisible. Now if you can explain why all of us ignorant people follow some carpenter from a back water town in the middle of no where other than we are not smart and he is not God, go ahead, and explain it. Explain why more books have been written about a carpenter than any person in history??? Is everybody who wrote the books and did the research just DUMB??? Gullible? The arrogance that Atheist have to claim that literally billions of people over thlast 2000 years are ignorant, or misled or whatever insult atheist like to throw our way. blows my mind. Literally EVERY single president, even Jefferson, had faith. Once again, I have had my doubts, I researched and read about unbelief, but I came back. Guess like all of us believers I am just dumb and ignorant...but I am in good company. Read Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis, or Donald Miller; Searching For God Knows What...I don't like churches much and I am not a huge fan of many Christians, we have done a terrible job of caring on the work Jesus started, but don't throw the baby out with the bath water, please excuse the pun.
The answers to many of your questions are just quirks of history. Ancient people did not understand natural phenomena and interpreted them as signs from gods; there have been many thousands of gods, the resulting religions evolved in christianity and others; christianity was spread by the Romans and then by the Europeans; most books read in the Western world were produced in countries that christians controlled with trials for heresy and the Inquisition if the bible or religion were contradicted. As science has improved, we have shown that all creation myths are incorrect and many people are questioning and rejecting the superstions that led to religion. There is no proof for any god. You reject all the other gods and chose the christian god with no more evidence than for, say Amaterasu.
Sorry Santa, You are incorrect. Most of the books I am referring to are modern, written in the modern age. You may be correct that the people writing the books are in Christian dominated societies, but I haven’t heard of any trials for heresy. The original followers that spread the faith were Jews who were all tortured and killed for their beliefs. Western Europeans may have help spread it, but currently, the country with the most missionaries is S. Korea. The place they send the most missionaries, the U. S.. As for the quirks….what quirks are you addressing? And finally this idea of “proof”…it is called faith… (1): firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2): complete trust. Finally Santa; science is wrong often enough that I have less faith in it that I do in God, so please, stop acting as if Science is the end all be all… http://listverse.com/2009/01/19/10-debunked-scientific-beliefs-of-the-past/ is a simple easy to read site by an Atheist. There are tons of sites that talk about the numerous scientific theories that have been debunked…but before they were debunked they were accepted by scientist…As Pascal’s wager states, I’d rather ere on my side than yours. Ignorance may just very well be bliss, but you have no proof God doesn’t exist and I need no proof that He does.
Sorry Santa, You are incorrect. Most of the books I am referring to are modern, written in the modern age. You may be correct that the people writing the books are in Christian dominated societies, but I haven’t heard of any trials for heresy. The original followers that spread the faith were Jews who were all tortured and killed for their beliefs. Western Europeans may have help spread it, but currently, the country with the most missionaries is S. Korea. The place they send the most missionaries, the U. S.. As for the quirks….what quirks are you addressing? And finally this idea of “proof”…it is called faith… (1): firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2): complete trust. Finally Santa; science is wrong often enough that I have less faith in it that I do in God, so please, stop acting as if Science is the end all be all… http://listverse.com/2009/01/19/10-debunked-scientific-beliefs-of-the-past/ is a simple easy to read site by an Atheist. There are tons of sites that talk about the numerous scientific theories that have been debunked…but before they were debunked they were accepted by scientist…As Pascal’s wager states, I’d rather ere on my side than yours. Ignorance may just very well be bliss, but you have no proof God doesn’t exist and I need no proof that He does. Sorry Santa, please bring me a new car anyway this year, a Bugatti please!!
Have God bring you a car, IHAVE. I have faith that He will. Why don't you?
The Hindus believe that their gods have visited Earth many times in the form of human Avatars, and the classical pagan religions are full of half-man/half-god hero figures coming to save humanity one way, or the other.
Regarding the rest of your rant, I myself use to be a believer, and I hardly think that I'm smarter now than I was before. The difference came when I became willing to evaluate my faith equally with other faiths and, when I did that, I honestly had to admit that my beliefs were no better, or more believable than anyone else's. Once that became evident, it also became clear to me that all religions and gods were most likely just human constructs. All religions have their beautiful parts, and their own wisdom, but they're also based in supernatural precepts that simply have no basis in reality. So, no, I don't see people like you as dumb, only unwilling to seriously examine the validity of your reasons for believing.
"Atheist believe there is no God. They have faith that there is no God...but they don't KNOW it as fact, that is impossible."
Bit of a straw man argument. Many if not most of us who are atheist simply do NOT believe any one god or group of gods exist because we have yet to seer convincing evidence of those claims.
it's not a matter of 'faith". You do not need faith to not believe in Santa Claus or Invisible Pink Unicorns. You expect someone who claims you owe them $1000 dollars to provide some sort of proof before you pay up. You are in no way obligated to prove you do NOT owe some random stranger that money merely because he says you do.
I simply remain unconvinced there are any gods despite such compelling Bible verses as
16 The people of Samaria must bear their guilt,
because they have rebelled against their God.
They will fall by the sword;
their little ones will be dashed to the ground,
their pregnant women ripped open."
Blessed is the one who grabs your little children and smashes them against a rock. Psalm 137:9
(NO sane human could have uttered that latter)
Any god worthy of the name could convince all of humanity in a few moments with less effort than you use to blink. None have done so. A real god could write a holy book that is not subject to a thousand interpretations and endless confusion and argument. None have done so.
The null hypothesis is no gods exist until some better proof shows up.
Now you are dealing with the real sins of the Bible, in the words of Bishop John Spong.
How is there a flaw in asking questions? How do you come to a conclusion about what I believe because I asked questions?
One flaw with your post, and my assumption is your a non-believer, is that you are talking about knowing, as in concrete knowledge.
No. I am asking you about what you believe and why.
Faith is a major part of belief.
Faith is a component of it, yes.
That does not negate my questions.
For instance, Atheist believe there is no God. They have faith that there is no God...but they don't KNOW it as fact, that is impossible.
I'm not sure I would say that they have faith that there is no god. I think the opposite is true, that they have no faith that there is a god.
Christians or Muslims or any person of faith, do not KNOW there is a God, we have faith that God exist.
None of which negates my questions. Why do you believe? What causes you to have faith?
I know that I have revisited my faith multiple times. Became an agnostic, never went atheist...but I came back to my faith. I own it, it is not inherited and it is not out of ignorance, as so many atheist assert.
My questions have nothing to do with atheism vs Christianity or any other faith. They are open to all regarding any belief, including those that are not religious in nature. There is no hidden agenda, just questions.
It is a journey of reading and learning and experiencing life that keeps increasing my faith. As I read these blogs, I am more convinced than ever that God is real and a life in faith is far more joy filled than a life of skepticism and non-belief...
And my journey runs in a different direction, thus my questions. It intrigues me how so many of us take in all the same information and stimulus and come out in different places with different beliefs.
Would you care now to actually take a crack at actually answering my questions?
"I have modeled my life not after the celestial spirit whom many Christians believe sacrificed himself for our sins, but rather after the illiterate, marginal Jew who gave his life fighting an unwinnable battle against the religious and political powers of his day on behalf of the poor and the dispossessed – those his society deemed unworthy of saving."
Illiterate? We have one account of him debating scholars in the Temple at age 12, and another of him reading scrolls in the Synagogue. Where do we get this notion that Jesus was illiterate?
The mythical jesus is certainly literate, but the historical figures that the jesus myth is based on probably were not. It seems pretty fvcked up for a literate god to come to earth and not leave anything in writing, so..... Too bad there's no way to prove that jesus could write, or that he ever existed as the bible claims. It's a shame.
Every Jewish boy is taught to read some scripture, but how many can remember what they read at their bar mitzvah 10 years later?
The scriptures include at least one account where Jesus of Nazareth debates scholars in the Temple at age 12, and another where he reads the scroll of scripture in the Synagogue. Where do we get "illiterate" in descriptions of Jesus? We have no evidence that he was illiterate.
Common misconception. "Illiterate" in this context means he couldn't write. About 95-99% of the people back then were illiterate and only a marginally higher percentage could read. They were taught as two completely different skills. It's only fairly recently that both skills are taught as a set.
Among Israel's various antiquities, there are a lot of Jewish ossuaries from the time of Jesus Christ with writings on them. It was very common to mark them.
Who did the writing though, and did they include anything more complicated than the person's name, something that most modern-day illiterates know how to do at the very least?
Obviously the person contained in the ossuary didn't do the carving themselves, Vic.
THE OPPOSITE OF A POSITIVE
The opposite of a positive is always a negative. When the positive is stated it is understood that absent the positive, that the negative occurs or has occurred. Example: If a person is alive, that is a positive. The negative is the opposite, which is, a person is dead.
Matthew 24:11-13.....13 But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.
The positive stated: He who endures will be saved.
The negative implied: He who does not endure will not be saved.
Mark 16:16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.
The positive stated: He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved.
The negative axiom: He who has not been baptized will not be saved.
Luke 7:50 And He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
The positive stated: Her faith saved her.
The negative inference: Without faith she would not have been saved.
Romans 9:27 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, "Though the number of the sons of Israel be like the sands of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved;
The positive stated: A remnant of Israel will be saved.
The negative understanding: The whole of Israel will not be saved.
John 10:9 I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
The positive stated: If anyone enters through Jesus he will be saved.
The negative implication: By not entering through Jesus you will remain unsaved.
Acts 2:41,47 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there added about three thousand souls. 47...And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
The positive stated: The Lord was adding the saved to His church. (The saved were those who believed the gospel and were baptized.)
The negative implication: Those who did not believe Peter's message and were notbaptized, were not saved, and they were notadded to the church.
Romans 10:13 for "Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved."
The positive: If you recognize the authority of the Lord and appeal to His authority you will be saved.
The negative implication: If you deny the authority of the Lord, and do not call on Him, you will be lost.
1 Peter 3:20-21...safely through water. 21 Corresponding to that , baptism now saves you-not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience-through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The positive: Baptism saves you.
The negative axiom: Those who are not baptized remain unsaved.
THE OPPOSITE OF A POSITIVE IS ALWAYS A NEGATIVE!
Revelation 2:10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
The positive stated: Remain faithful in order to receive the crown of life.
The implied negative : If you do not remain faithful you will not receive the crown of life.
THE OPPOSITE OF A POSITIVE?
You are invited to follow my Christian blog at: steve-finnell.blogspot.com or google search, stevefinnell a christian view
You are invited to follow my Christian blog at: steve-finnell.blogspot.com or google search, stevefinnell a christian view
Is this from a Sunday school class?
This comment might appeal to children, but a grown up with normal intelligence will find it rather silly.
What is normal?
You used the correct article: "a" Christian view, not "the." Every Christian has a diferrent viewpoint and they all think that there's is the one god most agrees with.
But no thanks, I will not be visiting your blog.
Oh look Steve is stealing advertising again so xtian of you.
" If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him. Your hand shall be the first raised to slay him; the rest of the people shall join in with you. You shall stone him to death, because he sought to lead you astray from the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery." Deut 13:7-12
The positive stated: If anyone you know trys to get you to worship another God you must positively kill them.
The negative implication: By not killing them you will remain unsaved.
Old school. The new testament does not say anything about killing anybody. Teach peace to learn peace.
"Yes, keep the Sabbath day, for it is holy. Anyone who desecrates it must die; anyone who works on that day will be cut off from the community. Work six days only, but the seventh day must be a day of total rest. I repeat: Because the LORD considers it a holy day, anyone who works on the Sabbath must be put to death.' "Exodus 31:12-15
The positive stated: If anyone works on Saturday they positively must die.
The negative implication: Only those keeping the Sabbath should be allowed to live.
Why do you want to hear someone repeat God's promise to eternally punish all those who knowingly reject salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ? You have apparently already heard and rejected it. Maybe you're secretly worried that it's true?
What about those people who God placed in an area of the world where they'll never hear about christianity? How do you reject something you have no idea exists?
Don't you know? It's all part of his great, mysterious plan!! After all, why make a hell if there's no one to stuff down in it?
Almost every religion has it's promises for some kind of human salvation, and it's impossible to faithfully fulfill all of them. If you're not worried about ending up on the wrong side of some other gods, why should we worry about offending your's?
The Jews returning to the homeland is a prophecy that has come true
25 After you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time—if you then become corrupt and make any kind of idol, doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God and arousing his anger, 26 I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed. 27 The Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the Lord will drive you. 28 There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell. 29 But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him. 31 For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.
It came true the first time when they returned from Babylon.
Wouldn't that be a candidate for a self-fulfilling prophecy? End-times believing Christians had a vested interest in making that prophecy come true, as they also have in keeping Israel alive through aid. Not exactly miraculous.
Jesus Christ was prophecised in the Old Testament in so may parts which were written during 4000, 1000, 700, 500, 400 BC. Over 300 of those prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus Christ.
Here is a prime example:
"3 He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
6 All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him."
Scripture Is From:
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
I'd like a complete list of all fulfilled prophesies please, including prophesy and fulfilment.
Here is one list:
Absolutely none of the prophesies on that list can be proven to have been fulfilled.
Is there universal knowledge of one God? (Jeremiah 31:33, Zechariah 8:23, 14:9, 14:16, Isaiah 11:9, Isaiah 40:5, Zephaniah 3:9)
Were all Jews returned to Israel? (Isaiah 43:5-6, Isaiah 11:12, Isaiah 27:12-13)
Did he bring world peace? (Isaiah 11:6, Micah 4:3)
Were all weapons destroyed? (Ezekiel 39:9)
Did all warfare cease? (Isaiah 2:4)
Was the Temple rebuilt in it’s place? (Ezekiel 37:24-28 Ezekiel 40-48, Isaiah 33:20, Micah
Did he bring physical restoration to all who are sick or disabled in any way? (Isaiah 35:5-6)
Was he preceded by Elijah? (Malachi 3:23-24– 4:4-5 in KJV)
Did the nations help the Jews materially? (Isaiah 60:5, 60:10-12, 61:6)
Does eternal joy and gladness characterize the Jewish nation? (Isaiah 51:11)
Are Jews sought for spiritual guidance? (Zechariah 8:23)
Is the Egyptian river dry yet? (Isaiah 11:15)
Do trees in Israel yield new fruit every month? (Ezekiel 47:12)
Did each tribe receive it’s inheritance? (Ezekiel 47:13-14)
Is the enemy buried? (Ezekiel 39:12)
Did he accomplish these tasks without tiring or failing? (Isaiah 42:4)
Did death cease? (Isaiah 25: 8)
Are the dead resurrected? (Isaiah 26:19, Daniel 12:2, Ezekiel 37:12-13)
The Jesus Christ brocheur says he has these popular and often sought after attributes:
– annointed most holy
– deserted by his kin
– sins ending on arrival
– recommended by angels
There were reports that some originally had to wait a lot of weeks for his arrival. They got upset and sent him back. But anymore, demand is high and people have been fairly happy to accept his free offer. I don't know what I'd do without him, he certainly lives up to his name.
Claiming to find this Jesus in scripture though clearly ignoring the evidence found there. Christ or no Christ, Jesus of Nazareth likely spoke Aramaic, Greek and classical Hebrew and read Hebrew. He was born in a working class family and received rabbinical training. Jesus of Nazareth was not illiterate.
Why would a carpenter likely know how to write back then? If he did, why don't we have books claiming to be written by him? If the folks back then thought it was even possible, wouldn't you think that somebody would have written a fake at least?
I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that
Absolutely none of the prophesies on that list can be proven to have been fulfilled.
Ephesians 1:13 ►
New International Version (©2011)
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,
17“ ‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
Isaiah 53 (New International Version)
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New International Version (NIV)
53 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression[a] and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.[b]
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes[c] his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life[d] and be satisfied[e];
by his knowledge[f] my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,[g]
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,[h]
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.
Again (and again, Oy!) if you read all of Isaiah you'll see that it identifies the nation of Israel as the Suffering Servant.
How many times do you need to be shown that Isaiah 53's "Suffering Servant" refers to the nation of Israel, not Jesus?
The message of Jesus Christ is the most complete and true, was the forerunner of human rights, the lepers Jews could not go into synagogues, Jesus welcomed everyone and said that salvation is for all, no other character in the story said that his words later were many false prophets, but Jesus Christ is true, there is no other like it's simple, just read the New Testament and accept Jesus. I have observed that most people who study, who else gets high marks in examinations of the universities, who can best jobs, people most persistent are Christian people who believe in Jesus Christ. exemple South Korea in education, Today most of the population is Christian in in places of economic and educational success.
See response below.
Here is another list:
Jesus kinda, sorta can be seen as the Christian version of the Jewish Messiah like the predictions of Nostradamus appear to "clearly" predict 9/11 and Hitler. Come on, there are so many things that Jesus did not do, and ways he does not fit the prophecies for him to be the Messiah. For that, he would need to fulfill 100% of them, which he certainly does not.
100% fulfillment happens during the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Here is one passage about the Second Coming:
1 Thessalonians 4:15-18
"15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words."
They imagined that it would happen then, but Jews always read in their scriptures where it says that the Messiah would just be a man, and that he would accomplish all things in his own lifetime. Thus, Jesus again fails. Sorry!
There are people who take
Earthshaking fire from the center of the Earth
Will cause tremors around the New City.
Two great rocks will war for a long time,
Then Arethusa will redden a new river.
As absolute proof that Nostradamus predicted 9/11. That's about as accurate as Christian readings of OT prophecy linking Jesus with the Messiah.
There were other versions of Christianity floating around even during Paul's time. Ones that denied Jesus' divinity, insisted on Jewish conversion, and probably others. For a while, at least, Paul's Christianity was fundamentally different from Peter's and Thomas's. Paul's warnings were referring to missionaries from these other brands influencing his churches, nothing more.
Fifty people can read the New Testament and come up with fifty different belief sets about Jesus. That's partially why we have thousands of different Christian denominations today. There is no objective way of determining which is a correct interpretation, so I hardly see how you can claim that this is a "simple" process.
The places of economic and educational success have some Christian believers, but they also have huge secular and atheist populations. The places that have virtually 100% Christian populations with few atheists are generally poor, like Haiti and pretty much every "Christian" African nation. Countries in Scandinavia and even Canada, which have vastly more secular and atheist elements than we do, always score better on measures of personal prosperity. You have no logical basis for your position.
Psa 22:16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
Psa 22:17 I may tell all my bones: they look [and] stare upon me.
Psa 22:18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
Wonderful! Here some of the preceding verses:
"14 I am poured out like water,
And all my bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It is melted within me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And my tongue cleaves to my jaws;
And You lay me in the dust of death.
16 For dogs have surrounded me;
A band of evildoers has encompassed me;
They pierced my hands and my feet."
Ah, the casting of lots bit. Ever wonder where poor Jesus could afford garments worth gambling over, especially after they were full of blood and torn from his whipping?
Perfect example of self-fullfilling prophecy. The author found a line that he thought was a prophecy about Jesus and then had that event happen during Jesus' crucifixtion to make it appear fulfilled.
That's why you get some crazy lines like Jesus entering the city on 2 animals because the author didn't understand the rhetorical device being used in original passage.
If you only believe in the person of Jesus then your "faith" is arbitrary. You may as well follow George Clooney.
Arbitrary would be saying following the teachings of Charles Manson orp Gandhi was all the same...just pick one. I don't think people who follow Jesus as a man just picked his name out of a hat.
I can't blame anyone for not believing in God. It's like what happens when you become a parent. You can't explain the love you feel inside. When you have a spiritual experience, you can't explain it, you can't prove it. It just is. And it transforms who you are from the inside out.
My parents exist though. Perhaps it's more like the affinity one gets with a well developed fictional character. Maybe religious (Abrahamic) people see their god like Tony Soprano. He's clearly a violent sociopath who has murdered many people. However, there's a more gentle, human side to his character which people find endearing.
That should say 'a parent's child exists' (not that my parents don't exist, unless I was delivered by a stork).
That would be impressive if there was only one religion, but there are actually a great many, and each has it's own "religious experiences". Are they all genuine proofs of the truth of their belief?
Its, not it's.
So are you trying to compare parental love to the love you feel for god, or are you trying to compare it to the love you believe god is giving you?
Anyway, I would never compare religious love with parental love, because I've never met a good parent who wouldn't go to hell for their child, even if that child was disobedient. Your god on the other hand, created hell specifically for his disobedient children. I'd say your god could learn a thing or two about parenting from humans.
I've heard several people make similar claims after taking MDA or MDMA. You just can't know it 'till you try it.
Gilbert has a great peiece comparing the desire for children (which on average decrease happiness) to heroin cravings. And yes, he is a father.
Of course, it's not noted anywhere in the article that the author is a devout Muslim. No wonder why he wants to discredit Jesus.
Good point but the professor appears to be a bit wishy-washy on his religious beliefs. I assume this helps sell books. It reminds one of Professor Prothero who comments on these pages regularly although I have not seen much from him lately.,
If he is indeed Muslim then he definitely cannot be trusted considering the koranic-driven terror and horror associated with basic Islam.
Jesus is a messenger of God in Islam, so the general Islamic approach is hardly to 'discredit' him. That said, Aslan is about as much a Muslim as your average 'Christian UU' is a Christian. I think he's more of a general mystic who finds Islam convenient.
It is noted, however, that he converted to christianity at an evangelical youth camp before all the contradictions in the bible discouraged that belief.
He's not discrediting Jesus. He's actually giving credit to Jesus for being a good teacher, rather than being nothing more than a ticket to heaven. I'd say he has a lot more respect for Jesus than the average christian.
"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful."
Here's another quote:
“Civilization will not attain to its perfection until the last stone from the last church falls on the last priest.”
― Émile Zola
"Have no fear of perfection – you'll never reach it."
DALI??? That man was cray cray!
"The Bible may, indeed does, contain a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic cleansing, for slavery, for bride-price, and for indiscriminate massacre, but we are not bound by any of it because it was put together by crude, uncultured human mammals."
– Christopher Hitchens
"My best advice to anyone who wants to raise a happy, mentally healthy child is: Keep him or her as far away from a church as you can."
- Frank Zappa
“If we need an atheist for a debate, we go to the philosophy department. The physics department isn’t much use.”
"The Two Universal Sects
They all err—Moslems, Jews,
Christians, and Zoroastrians:
Humanity follows two world-wide sects:
One, man intelligent without religion,
The second, religious without intellect. "
, born AD 973 /, died AD 1058 / .
Al-Ma’arri was a blind Arab philosopher, poet and writer. He was a controversial rationalist of his time, attacking the dogmas of religion and rejecting the claim that Islam possessed any monopoly on truth."
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/resalat-al-ghufran#ixzz1lI6DuZmZ and http://www.humanistictexts.org/al_ma'arri.htm
Death's Debt is Paid in
Death's debt is then and there
Paid down by dying men;
But it is a promise bare
That they shall rise again.
Why do people have beliefs? Doesn't it make more sense to have experiences?
In my experience, beliefs are born and grown from experiences.
The strongest ones are. I know my belief would not be as strong without experience.
People's beliefs in the sense of religious faith often stem from cultural / familial influences.
Faith in the correctness and authority of one's elders is a necessity for young children and the way in which concepts are presented form that child's frame of reference for the rest of their lives.
Early indoctrination cannot be ignored.
In a healthy individual, these kinds of beliefs are recognized and tested as part of the process of personal maturation.
It is a truism that inst/itutionalized belief systems discourage any kind of challenge to their dogmatic tenets and can put a great deal of pressure on their comminities to tow the line.
It takes courage to challenge authority and accept the outcome of that challenge.
If a given belief has merit, it will hold up under scrutiny.
Two people can have the same experience, and interpret it differently, bringing about separate beliefs. In many cases, the belief is filed away in the person's memory first. That way, when they think they see a blurry, furry shape in the woods their mind sorts through it's files and comes up with "Bigfoot", which they have been culturally immersed, rather than "Wendigo", Ogre, Cyclops, or some other giant, for example. They would then consider their contact as "evidence" for this cultural preconception.
Same goes for religious "experiences". Various people experience the same thing and classify it as either some level of nirvana, Scientology "Clear" level, contact with one's animal spirit, the Holy Ghost, or tapping into some aspect of a past life, where some of us might just see it as emotional sensation of desperation leading to a sudden mental clarity. Likely we'd all just see the same experience as vindication of our preconceived notions. Some Hindu living in rural India isn't going to snap to the conclusion that it was the Holy Spirit rather than her religion's answer to that experience and more than an average American isn't going to venture too far from her cultural favorite answer, right?
A subjective experience can not be experienced by anyone other than the individual. A person may believe the experience stemmed from X or they may say it did because that is the words they have to communicate that idea.
Yes, people go to revivals where they are worked into emotional frenzies, and they are taught that this sensation is the presence of the Holy Spirit. Meanwhile frenzied Hindus are taught that the same sensation is the presence of their gods. Sure, the Hindus may actually be experiencing the HS and just misinterpreting it, but the Christians could just as easily be feeling Vishnu, so I don't see what any of it actually proves. Groups of sports fans can be worked up into frenzies during a big game too, but that doesn't mean that their team isn't some larger being hidden from our reality.
Both are important.
The thing I find most interesting about god, or gods, is that they have to have others tell their story, and not just once but every time they meet someone new. Did you hear about god's message, no, well I'll tell all about it. If this message was so important why didn't he tell everyone at once and skip all the misery in between. As for the author if you like the story of Jesus of Nazareth, and you choose to emulate his teachings and his message, have at it, the world has room for everybody and anybody. Just don't get mad if you talk and no one listens, its not you and its not Jesus, its just that we all have to live our own lives and that's hard enough for most of us. Now if you said the Great Kazoo well then you might get my attention.
Maybe using others is some sort of loophole in a godly Prime Directive?
as one who tries to emulate Jesus' example myself I find your logic one of the best questions I have seen here, and i have seen plenty but there is an answer to your wonder. When men were spoken to they were given evidence to use and there were many who were used to help the Jews to follow the law but man from the beginning showed he did not care to listen, even when all were told, so (He God?) used prophets, angels, even Kings to teach people His ideas, principles and laws but again the many decided to choose for themselves which way to go. their choice brought repercussions, some immediate some later but now,(I believe) He is using many to teach what will happen and once again it is up to the individual to listen or not but this time and I believe soon there will be much more serious results for all. Revelation 11:18 says "He will bring to ruin those ruining the earth" and for me that would be a great thing before we do it to ourselves. Again i really liked your question and would enjoy a continued discussion. thanks,peace, j
His message and teaching was to love one another and care for each other.Strange,radical ? Shouldn't we be doing that?
No not strange nor radical... and also not a bit novel, even at the time. This concept goes back to many ancient philosophies, and is hunky-dory advice. It's the supernatural fantasies that are the issue of disbelief.
To those who say you must not or can not "test" god/God, why was Elijah allowed to do it for just the few there to witness God throwing fire from the sky on Elijahs command?
"21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing. 22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. 23 Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God.” Then all the people said, “What you say is good.” 25 Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” 26 So they took the bull given them and prepared it. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.
27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” 28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. 29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.
30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” 32 With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs[a] of seed. 33 He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”
34 “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again. “Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. 35 The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench. 36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. 39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!” 40 Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there." 1 Kings 18:22-40
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