Mythical Faith – Someone Convince Me To It’s Merits

So…just curious. If someone were to give you conclusive proof that the Exodus never took place but that we Jews instead just descended from a group of breakaway Canaanite slaves, that would be a deal breaker for you?” (Yael)

If there was proof it did not happen – then yes – i would have to relate to all this is a mythical story and we need not worry about a single piece of it. If someone wants to use it for direction – by all means go ahead – I would make sure they knew it was not connected historically to anything that really happened. Kind of like the Mormons stories of the Lamanites and Nephites in America (which is why I will never convert to Mormonism – but I can respect people of the faith – they are genuinely nice).

To me, as I related earlier, each myth has aspects of historical integrity to them. I am aware of this from my own faith, studies of Islam, First Nations traditions, etc. Every religion I can think of has aspects of historicity to them. Something, somewhere happened with an indidvual(s) in some encounter with an entity as recounted by some actual person.

It’s no different than me talking about my personal experiences with God. I can relate some interesting stories that people would say either happened or did not happen – and not everything would be absolutely accurate (dates, places, numbers, etc). Yet it would be a story of an actual person’s experience with an entity and faith – and what that in turn meant. I am real, the places existed, and the stories are related as actual events – there are aspects of historicity involved.

But everyone, in the Tanakh, and further – seem to relate the stories and people as real (unless there is some huge mythical aspect to the faith I am unaware of that is passed from generation to generation and we today are missing). I could be wrong – maybe there is nothing historical in the accounts of Torah – but if so – then I stand to be enlightened.

My big problem is simple – if it is not factual then why should anything after Torah – as nice as the intentions were – be counted on? Prophets, Kings, Judges, Wisdom lit, etc – are all based on teachings/myth and not anything remotely ‘real’. With all proofs conclusively pointing away from the reality of Torah – then Torah itself ceases to exist the way it does today. There was no God handing down teachings (but merely men), no Exodus – thus no reasons for the festivals, and no reason for Israel to truly care about Palestine or some temple (which instructions apparently came from a God that does not exist). After saying all that – it’s a lonely place to be.

No one seeking for God would search where a sticker ‘Ichabod’ could be placed. The stories would not be outright lies (or maybe they would be) – but they would not be factual. Why would anyone remain with a myth with no connection to reality? It’s like an adopted child finding out his lifelong search for his parents was in vain – he was cloned – there is no mommy and daddy at the end of the mysterious rainbow – some new technology made his life possible. We were our own parents all along.

If this is all true – many things change – and what makes Torah credible at all? The strength of it’s teachings…they are teachings of men…I am a man also…what makes these writers any wiser than my own search?

Serious Debate about Numbers 31…

Taken from blog ‘Does the bible condone the killing of women and children?‘.  

Question: In Numbers chapter 31 verses 17 and 18… was God actually giving orders to murder women and children, the question was posed to me and I’m a Christian, I read over the whole chapter but still couldn’t get a general idea of what was going on, can you help?

Answer (excerpts)

 

“The event described in Numbers 31 is God’s vengeance against the Midianites for their role in the defiling of Israel.  In Numbers 25, we learn that at the suggestion of Balaam, the Israelites were seduced to adultery by the women of Midian.  As a result, God commanded Moses to strike down the Midianites for their treachery (Numbers 25:16-18).  As a side note, the Israelites were judged for their sin by a plague that killed 24,000 men (Numbers 25:9).”

 

“This begs the question, “why such a cruel and bizarre command from Moses?”  This introduces the concept of a holy war.  God commanded that the Midianites be completely destroyed.  When God does that, it’s a divine judicial ruling of judgment.  The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it (Psalm 24:1) including people.  God reserves the right to execute divine judgment whenever and on whomever he chooses…For the sin of Midian at Baal Peor, God judged them and executed that judgment through the hand of Israel.  When the Israelite warriors brought home so many prisoners, Moses was afraid that they would be judged for not fully carrying out the commands of God.” 

 

“Furthermore, it was the Midianite women who were culpable at Baal Peor.  The women who have had sexual relations are killed for their sin, and the young boys are killed presumably to prevent any further procreation.  One can only surmise that the virgins were spared because they didn’t participate in the sin at Baal Peor and because without the young men, they couldn’t perpetuate the race.”

 

This explanation is weird to me – very weird. How do we interpret this piece of writing in Numbers? To me, it sounds like a war more or less (simple answer) – with some God language slapped on it. If only we had an expert in the field of Torah?

Reason #2 – I Left Church Behind

Comment taken from Naked Pastor’s ‘An Appeal‘ Blog

I don’t have the time or energy to serve the body of Christ. I’m too busy welcoming the homeless single dad and his teen son into our home (the family shelters are full in our city), and I’m too busy helping the Latino family down the street obtain legal immigration status. Forget serving the church. It’s forgotten us.” (Jerri)

I like what Jerri has to say – I think he gets/understands the ‘good news’. The church is too focused on itself in my opinion and overlooks people like Jerri works with – on an almost daily basis. Even if they do something foir the poor – it’s very menial and a side track – not something of focus for the church (or congregation).

I grew up in an inner city also with the problems Jerri also talks about – and I knew all the churches in the neighborhood – there was about 6 or 7. None of them really did too much for the poor or deal with the problems of these people. No one played Jesus for the poor in my opinion. People just are not willing to lay their lives down for this ‘good news’…it is good but not great for them.

I see where Jerri stands – I stand there with him. I have always helped people from the community I grew up in – even when the church did nothing or could do nothing (which was quite often) – or overlooked their problems as ‘meaningless’ (being not spiritual and all). But someone has to care for the people with ‘no hope’ in this world or the next…and someone needs to lay down their life so they can know it. Who is going to help the gang-member find self esteem? The abused spouse to find safety? The prostitute to find hope? The drug addict to find a ‘way out’? Churches cannot deal with these scenarios – they are scared to.

The church, to me, has become a middle class focused entity. It is now concerned with problems that effect the middle class – from theology to practice. It has become useless to me in that regard…I grew up poor and my heart will always be with the oppressed in society. The church always plays it ’safe’ – as far as I am concerned – everything is so…comfortable.

SocietyVs’ Judgment Scenarios

I want to do a blog on judgment – and our uses of it in basic life. I am going to present a series of scenarios and I would like to see how people answer them. I do not think judgment is a ‘bad’ thing per se – I mean we all use it everyday of our lives to determine what we like and dislike. 

Scenario 1 (Marriage/Divorce) 

A woman is in an abusive relationship – physically, mentally, and emotionally. She wants to leave her husband even though she is advised by church counsellors to work out the problems. She is told if she leaves and re-marries she is committing adultery. She met another man that is kind of ideal as a life mate.

What would you advise the lady to do? 

Scenario 2 (Role Modelling) 

A man lives quite a hard life and is on his deathbed. He has been to jail for many violent crimes and drank the majority of his life. He has lot touch with his family and has forgone his duties as a parent to his 3 kids and wife – for the majority of his life. He has cheated on his life partner and although he felt remorse – it didn’t stop him from doing it more than once. He accepts Christ on his deathbed. 

Another person lives quite an ideal life and is now on his deathbed. He has been a great family man and always took care of his wife and 3 kids. He worked a job his whole life and will leave his family with quite a bit after he passes. He got along with everyone he knew and also was quite charitable with what he owned. This person does not accept Christ on his deathbed. 

Who would you hold up as the better role model to youth at a bible study? 

Scenario 3 (Justification) 

A fundamentalist Christian and more liberal Christian meet for coffee one day. The fundamentalist person prays over their snack, talks about his great evangelism exploits, and even mentions his tithing. The more liberal person stopped attending church a while back, does not pray in public, and believes the best testimony one can give is to live morally. 

The fundamentalist after hearing all of this – asks to pray with the liberal person to accept Christ into their life. The liberal person has done this in the past and refuses to do it again. The fundamentalist person then tells the liberal person ‘they are no longer a Christian’ as far as can be seen. The liberal person is not happy with this judgment and leaves the room frustrated and close to tears.   

Who goes home justified in this conversation?  Basically, Who do you think acted more Christian?

***The last one is a take on a parable – can you guess which one?

SocietyVs’ Religion & Faith Conundrum

Religion: The institutional definition of a faith – complete with systems, rules, and rituals that can define what it is you believe – usually concrete in nature.   

Faith: The living and moving part of one’s walk with God – usually a process that happens throughout life – it changes. 

I come from a Christian religious circle – obviously – I actually have to have 2 definitions for faith and religion in our current context (this is the norm). I have been thinking about this for a few days and what I think about the two…and how I juggle them.

For me, religion is not supposed to be a bad thing – it’s supposed to help us understand our faith – and I think it does that. However, I also think it limits our faith growth. Religion pre-supposes to be a pre-wrapped gift of what all of faith is about – and you really do not need much more outside the walls of the institution (maybe some food and shelter). Religion is a nicely packaged version of faith – I get it – it works.

For me, faith is about the journey one takes (concerning God, humanity, and ethics). This is not a constant – things change over time – we move from one place to the next in growth. However, I think everyone’s faith is somewhat in battle with religion – on some level – since the rules or system can seem – well wrong. We grow in faith – and the system really does little changing – so there is bound to be some friction that happens.

There is a dual failure happening here.

(a) Religion is not changing and not listening to its members – thus change is very slow to come by once the system has decided its limits. It rules out the prophetic and the living faith to some degree – things come pre-packaged here – answer come easy – doubts…who needs doubts. The dividing line is set out in stone – and it is not easy to climb back over the wall.

(b) Faith jumps too quickly into individualism and forgets community. We can become self-righteous and think we have it all figured out – but we lose community and its accountability – even friendships? We rip apart that same community that first educated us – and in turn develop some animosity towards religion and anyone close to it. We forget what it was like as a child – weren’t we loved once?

I admit, when I talk about God – I talk about faith – a living and moving faith. I think this can exist in a church – in religion. I also think faith can exist outside religion – with the company of people not even believers. The thing is – both sides need to admit their need for the other…so there can be complete growth throughout the entire body.

Both sides have their short-comings – I can’t be the only one seeing this. I like to think for myself – but I also want to be surrounded by people that this is a ‘passion’ to them – this faith/religion thing. The church/religion wants to grow – but it cannot if it refuses to yield any ground and remain closed-minded. I think we need each other to understand each other.

On the Quest For Expertise!

Comments taken from COAS’ ‘Towards a Biblical Masculinity Part 1’

The same resources (rabbinical teachings, talmud, hebrew language, etc.) are available to rabbis and Christians. Why are they any more equipped?” (Brad)

By plain and obvious calculations – simple math I guess. Christians, in average, likely spend about 1/4th of their biblical study in the Tanakh – and sometimes even less in the aspects of Law/Torah. (Over their lifetime). Rabbi’s spend – let’s see – 100% of their time in the Tanakh and a large part of that is devoted to the central part of the Tanakh – the Torah/Law. Isn’t it obvious where we should be directing these questions?

Now even if Christians spent ½ their time in the Tanakh – that is still 50% less than a rabbi and they would still stay was less informed on the Law/Torah since this is not Christianity’s central tenet/focus in the faith.

The OT (to include Torah) is ABSOLUTELY Christian scripture. I assure you that we are just as loyal and faithful to understanding it as the rabbi. Your claim does not stem from ability to correctly interpret, but from a faith assumption that only answers from that perspective are accurate. You are putting the cart before the horse.” (Brad)

No cart and no horse – just brutal honesty. Brad you fail to remember I have been a Christian for 15 years also – 4 years earning a bachelor of theology – and well studied in these scriptures as well. My claims are not coming from some ‘assumption’ as you claim – but from a very well studied life (1/2 of my life in these teachings so far).

I admit the Torah/Tanakh are part of the Christian canon – I can see that quite obviously. But as for Christians being as loyal and faithful as Jewish adherents to it’s understanding – that’s just not a fact. I am sorry – it just isn’t.

What festivals do you celebrate according to the Jewish calendar? Do you keep kosher? Do you devote the majority of your study to the central themes and teachings in the Torah? Have you been circumcised (bris milah) as part of the ‘mitzvot’? Celebrate Hanukah? How about remembrance of Ha Shoah? Do you wear the traditional tefillin? How about Mezuzah attached to your doorposts?

It is a certifiable fact Jewish faith and Christian faith are very different – thus the primary focuses shift in one faith to the next…namely when dealing with scriptures.

Torah for Judaism and Paul’s teachings/gospels for Christianity. The Judaic faith owns the interpretive ground (so to speak) when it comes to dealing with Torah due to their years of extensive study (and tradition dealing with) in it.

Christianity focuses exclusively on the story of Jesus and the lenses of how the Tanakh can be viewed through the messiah. We have a rich church history – but the interpretive lense is solely rooted in viewing every and all things through Jesus – there is no recorded biblical history of Christians using Talmud, Mishnah, or Gemara (oral law)…if so…it is very very rare.

I have to go to the experts in the fields that they study in – this is wisdom. If I want to study aspects of the Messiah Jesus – I will turn for Christian opinion/viewpoints. If I want the Torah/Law explained to me – I will turn to rabbi’s. How does this not make sense?

I cherish all of God’s word” (Brad)

I know you do Brad – I am not questioning your sincerity on your love for the texts.

He revealed Himself through it out of love for us, and did so in a way that is graciously understandable to the child as well as the rabbi” (Brad)

I believe a lot of the bible is fairly understandable – but a lot of it takes some serious study also – there is a dual nature there. On one hand, living what is being asked is quite simple (in some senses) – morality and values. On the other hand, delving into topics like Numbers 31 and other passages – well that is not quite as easy. Some of this stuff takes a lot of mature study – I think we can all attest to that.

To say that it is “over my head” because I am a Christian, is to say that my Christian beliefs render me incapable of understanding that which I cherish so deeply: the knowledge of God.” (Brad)

I would say study away then – I see no problem there. It is over most Christian’s heads though (maybe not yours) – only because the expertise in this scenario will come from rabbinical studies and not so much from Christian studies. If I am wrong – I will accept that…but have any of us approached a rabbi with any of these questions? No.

Orthodoxy Concern – Get The Facts Straight Man!

Comment taken from Mystical Seeker’s Blog “The Scylla of Orthopraxy and the Charybdis of Orthodoxy

The Christian God is personal, and persons have gender.” (Harry) 

So by your rationale here Harry – is God a male? Plus the logic is rather – suggestive and not very deep. Being personal – well both man and woman can do that…and God is a Spirit – I am guessing God has this aspect also. 

Fortunately, my opinions really are the right opinions. They really are Orthodox. So I’ll answer any questions you might have.” (Harry) 

Orthodox = right opinions – according to Harry. Now that is facetious. Even if orthodoxy were right – how can one be sure they hold to it correctly? Also orthodoxy is quite a movement away from what we find Jesus teaching anyways – in my personal and studied opinion – since orthodoxy seems to think ‘what you believe concerning the character/make-up of God is more important than your actions from believing in that God’. 

Find me one place Jesus even so much as does this concerning God – where is his 11 articles of faith concerning what God looks like, the bible, and what atonement means. He never lays one down – unless we count the beatitudes? And the beatitudes are not like articles of faith I have seen in any orthodox church – they actually ask something of the reader (ie: a behavior – like mercy or peace). 

The articles of faith – and the orthodox creeds – are beliefs in the sense – we can choose to believe these things about the character of God. But they are not beliefs – in the more gospelic sense – in that they ask not a single thing of you (as in an action). 

EX: God is 3 in 1, born of a virgin, and was resurrected after 3 days. 

Those beliefs are fine – but they are not beliefs – they are facts or are not facts. These are things that either happened or did not happen. The gospel is not so much concerned with these type of things – as it is with actual beliefs that produce something (ie: a behavior). 

EX: God is love, blessed are the merciful, and repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand 

These are beliefs that require an action. There are the kinds of ideas we find in the gospels all the time. The beatitudes being a prime example. 

So for ‘as right’ as you think you are Frank – because you are orthodox – well it doesn’t mean much in some senses – since orthodoxy is overly concerned with facts and not beliefs.