Questioning A Doctrinal Statement

Here is what I believe (comment put on Mircale Channel Review ‘About Us’):

Do you believe the bible to be the inspired word of God do you believe it is the final authority? Also that the original text is without error?

I believe the bible is authoritative but not without error (Hebrews can attest to this one). Also in many places like John 8 and Mark 16 passages have been ‘added in’ – and they are stated as such (oldest manuscript do not contain the passages). It is also well know that a ‘trinity’ verse in 1 John was removed because it was ‘added in’. So without error – no – that’s not very logical according to the facts.

Do you believe in the virgin bith of Jesus Christ?

I do not – but that does not mean it did not happen (I think it is highly unlikely though). One must note that this idea is based on Isaiah 7:14 and that passage is translated ‘young woman’ – not ‘virgin’. I think the Gentile people of the days took a story they were familiar with from their current society and kind of associated it with Jesus. It s worth noting – the virgin birth only appears 2 times in the gospels (2 out of 4 ain’t bad I guess) – but no letters or even Acts re-call the story. How much weight should someone give a story with little backing within it’s own scriptures?

Do you believe Jesus was God come in the flesh 100% God and 100% man without sin?

I believe Jesus was the Messiah come in the flesh 100% – as for the God part – I doubt that. If Jesus is God (as in actually God) – then it is a walking away from scripture also. Exodus 20 – 1st commandment – is ‘you shall have no other gods beside/before me’. If Jesus is God – then we have 2 gods (beside each other). Also we never see the idea the Messiah is God in the OT – not according to the Jewish faith for more than 2600 years (at the least). Also how can Jesus be God when he is ‘sent from Him, anointed by Him, promoted by Him’ etc?

Do you believe in the concept of the Holy Trinity One God and three co eternal co existent persons God the father, God the son, God the Holy Spirit 1 God three persons?

No – and neither is their proof in scripture for such a claim. Trinity, as a term about God, appears 0 times in the whole bible. When the Jewish faith said ‘God is One’ – they really meant ‘One’.

Do you believe in Salvation by Grace through Faith in Jesus Christ our Lord?

Yes. I believe Jesus was the ‘anointed one’ to bring about the inclusion of the Gentiles into the presence of God – as a mediator for us. Salvation in the senses (a) we as Gentiles can now fully access God and (b) God allows us to deal with our personal lives with Him.

Do you believe in the eternal punishment and Judgement of all who deny and reject Christ?

I believe in a judgment – in the end of it all. As for eternal punishment – I cannot believe a loving God would hold such an extreme measure for sins of maybe 70 years? That’s quite unjust a measure (70 years being punished for eternity).

Do you believe in the bodily ressurrection of Jesus Christ?

Yes.

Do you believe that Jesus will return to judge the quick and the dead?

Yes.

Do you believe in one Big C Catholic church (Universal Christian Church body)?

Yes.

Do you accept the creeds of the church Niceean, Apostalic creeds?

No…evidence has not been presented and it was a rush to judgment by those councils – to help solidify Christianity as a Roman religion. What about the Jewish perspective our faith was supposedly based on – that evidence was not even used in a single council. I wonder if any Jewish person had presented if we would hold to a Trinity at all – or the Messiah as God. Things do not add up – if this religion is based on Judaism? Question – is it?


SocietyVs
‘they paved paradise and put up a parking lot’ (Joni Mitchell)

‘No Religion Is An Island’ – Abraham Joshua Heschel :. Convo about Heschel

***All comments taken from the Abraham Joshua Heschel pamphlet ‘No Religion Is An Island’ (from Jan 1966 – 42 years ago)

“Horizons are wider, dangers are greater … No religion is an island. We are all involved with one another…Today religious isolationism is a myth. For all the profound differences in perspective and substance, Judaism is sooner or later affected by the intellectual, moral and spiritual events within the Christian society, and vice versa” (Heschel pg 6) 

– What I like about the comment is that it is directed towards religious inclusion – and we religions do not exist alone in a bubble – not anymore in this world (we all dialogue with one another now). Each religion does effect one another – the actions and ideas they put forth. This is very true in this ‘day and age’ – with each religion having a ‘light shined upon it’ via media or the internet. I, for one, like this inclusion.

“To meet a human being is an opportunity to sense the image of God, the presence of God. According to a rabbinical interpretation, the Lord said to Moses : “Wherever you see the trace of, man there I stand before you”…When engaged in a conversation with a person of different religious commitment I discover that we disagree in matters sacred to us, does the image of God I face disappear?” (Heschel pg 7-8) 

– I like the perspective that our faith(s) afford to us – the focal point concerning the uniqueness of humanity – our importance. Whether in the same faith or not – it is still the ‘image of God’ – that image is humanity.

“To be sure all men are sons of one father, but they have also the power to forfeit their birthright, to turn rebels, voluntary bastards, “children with no faithfulness in them” (Deut. 32:20). It is not flesh and blood but honor and obedience that save the right of sonship” (Heschel pg 10) 

– I like this term ‘voluntary bastards’. No one is not a ‘child of God’ – but we can choose to bastardize that relationship. God may be faithful – but we can choose not to be.

“A Christian ought to ponder seriously the tremendous implications of a process begun in early Christian history. I mean the conscious or unconscious dejudaization of Christianity, affecting the Church’s way of thinking, its inner life as well as its relationship to the past and present reality of Israel – the father and mother of the very being of Christianity. The children did not arise to call the mother blessed; instead, they called the mother blind.” (Heschel pg 11-12) 

– This is something dear to my heart – the connection between Judaism and Christianity – and this breaking away from Judaism. I think this is a clear fact from current practice of Christianity as compared to early Christianity. As Kanye would say ‘I guess I should of forgot where I came from’.

Religion is a means, not the end. It becomes idolatrous when regarded as an end in itself.” (Heschel pg 13)

– Religion/faith is a means to God – not the end of it. If one does not consider the fact God has revealed Himself to all faiths on this planet – then they are making their religion an ‘idol’ (this is the end of faith).  

“Perhaps it is the will of God that in this aeon there should be diversity in our forms of devotion and commitment to Him. In this aeon diversity of religions is the will of God…It seems that the prophet proclaims that men all over the world, though they confess different conceptions of God, are really worshipping One God, the Father of all men, though they may not be aware of it” (Heschel reference to Malachi 1:11 and Genesis 11:6 – pg 14) 

– I love this point. God has shown Himself to the planet – from times past to times not yet known. What is being known is that the scope of that is widening – and the world is getting smaller. There is a known diversity within the faith sphere – which was once frowned upon – is now not to be. Heschel points out ‘we do not know God’s ways’ – and this inclusion of all may be His will.

“My life is shaped by many loyalties-to my family, to my friends, to my people, to the U.S. Constitution, etc. Each of my loyalties has its ultimate root in one ultimate relationship: loyalty to God, the loyalty of all my loyalties. That relationship is the covenant of Sinai.” (Heschel pg 17) 

– This is what faith is all about – the centre of one’s committment. I love country, my neighbors, and playing fantasy football – but in the end – they exist in those forms for me because of my personal committment to my faith.

Church Experience Quiz (present or past)

I have been doing some blogging around the net and because I am one person with one set of experiences – I cannot speak for the whole state of the church (as much I try to anyways). I am going to ask a series of questions – answer if you want – and let me know how you see the church.

(1) What programs are offered at your church for people that are struggling with poverty in your community?

(2) How many people attend your church and how many of those people do you have close relationships with?

(3) Do you think church has made you a more ethical person? If so, why?

(4) If I had to ask you a % – what % of people in your church do you think are very moral people and would not hurt another soul?

(5) How do you wish the money in the church was being spent?

(6) What aspect of church do you find most rewarding?

(7) Concerning church focus – what % is on spiritual matter and what % is on here and now matters?

Also 2 more from Jolly Beggar:

(8) Is church a place that you go out to or go out from?

(9) Is church a group of programs or a group of people?

***I am just trying to find out more about church experiences for people in the present or in the past.

I Finally Watched ‘Expelled’

Last night I finally watched ‘Expelled’ (just came to video apparently). I liked the movie – some things spoke to me:

  • The amount of people that have problems with Neo-Darwinism was interesting – some of their viewpoints were interesting to hear
  • I was a little saddened by the scientific community and the fact some people lost careers due to even ‘playing’ with Intelligent Design
  • Some of the early connections from the 1920’s and Darwinism were a little ‘scary’ – and then to hear about the close mindedness on the subject (and alienation of people not holding their views) – kind of saddened me and left me with ‘something to chew on’
  • I like the idea that there is design within the cells and structures of human life – it may help to deal with some problems in some scientific fields (3 examples were given)
  • I can’t stand the fact science feels it can impinge on faith – as if science and faith are in opposite corners. I think it is both sad and tragic when Darwinism is the moral ground by which one has to defend from – specially when we get into ‘survival of the fittest’ and this consequence on humanity

All in all, I enjoyed what the movie had to say and the questions it raised. I think the fact the science community has to link ID just to religion is a weak viewpoint to debate from – it was not true according to the film (although religious communities do like the idea) – ID is based in the idea of design within science.

Now I am no scientist – but I sure ain’t no Darwinist (morally speaking here). I think Darwin’s ideas, as much as they have helped science evolve, if played out to their extremes lead to moral ambiguity. Life starts to a back-seat to progress – and morality takes a seat to moral concensus (anyway the wind blows that year). Germany was a stark example of this extreme – morality becoming subject to scientific ideal (namely Darwinism). I was quite saddened by that extreme (the other example they used was planned parenthood and its connection to eugenics).

Faith has inherent to its system – and close to its heart – the idea of morality and people. Are we so sure we want to trash something that seems to help people?

Origins of the Hebrew Bible (Nova Special)

I watched the Nova special last night (thanks to PVR) called ‘The Bible’s Buried Secrets’ – and I freakin loved it (2 hours of biblical archaeology – uhm – a slight piece of heaven in my opinion)!

The show went weaved through a few themes: archaeology of the bible, the writing of the bible, and how these interact to create new theories surrounding the historicity of those texts.

Some of the highlights:

  • Hebrew Bible and 4 writers in various periods (JEDP theory – J – Jahweh; E – Elohim; D – David; P – Priests)
  • Historical analysis of the Exodus and Canaan – new theories on what may have happened there- ie: Israelites living in Canaan and becoming the first monotheists ( a mixed multitude of people)
  • Look at Joshua’s conquests and validity of the claims
  • Look at King David and Solomon and claims and what archaeology has proven
  • Look at the Babylonian captivity and the beginning of true monotheism (circa 568 BCE)
  • The alphabet and writing of the texts of the bible – starting in about 1000 BCE and going down to at least 500 BCE (including Torah, Writings, and Prophets)
  • The name YHWH and it’s possible origins

I was quite enthralled with the work that has been done in this area – biblical research and archaeology. I am not sure how valid all the hypothesis’ are – but they make for some excellent insight into the texts (in some ways). They really ignore the God claims in the bible (cannot be proven anyways) which was a let-down – but the show made for great discussion material.

I have provided the link in case anyone wants to check out some of the info on the show – better yet – check your local listings for the actual show.

A Question of Authorit-ah!

***Comments taken from Naked Pastor’s ‘Protestantisimus Reversimus’

What is the common thread in The Bible,The Qu’ran and the Book of Mormon when their adherents all claim their respective scriptures to be the Word of God?…do we have three authorities or one?” (faithlessinfatima)

There are a few way of looking at this idea.

(a) They are all seperate authorities of their own respective faiths – this is how they are used at current.

(b) They are not all seperate authorities – but weighing that out is going to take study

When you truly look at it – all these religions go back to One – the Judaic faith and the scriptures there (Tanakh). Here is a timeline of some sort:

Judaism (2600+ years old) – Mono/chosen/land/law/judges/kings/prophets/temple

Christianity (1900+ years old) – Mono – with stereo/chosen/messiah/grace/disciples/no land/church

Islam (1400+ years old) – Mono/prophet/chosen/land?/law/temple

Mormonism (100+ years old) – Mono – with stereo/prophet(s)/chosen/no land?/messiah/true church + temple

The fact of the matter is all these faiths make some claim to Judaism – and build upon it – the Tanakh scriptures. Oddly enough – as the trend should continue – as we go further down the chain most build upon one another also in the line (which makes sense – they knew of the others).

Judaism (original Tanakh scriptures)

Christianity (Nt added to the Tanakh scriptures)

Islam (Qu’ran – incorporates aspects of Tanakh and Christianity)

Mormonism (Uses Tanakh, NT, and adds in new Latter Day Saints material)

So in some sense, what does it matter the authority – if we had to pick one constant – it is Tanakh (and the borrowing involved). Doesn’t this go back to Abraham in some way – ‘blessed are all nations through you’? Are they (each religion) not all blessings in some way also?

Thing is we are dealing with religion here – but we are also dealing with what I would consider a type of anthropology of religion (changing face of religion). Each religion does have their unique identifiers and changes to the original – but not so much they break the message of ‘being a blessing’. Does this make Judaism the most true? I don’t know – all I know is Judaism is the one with the promise about Abraham that has seemed to have happened – and each of these religions (as much as we might not like it) have also been ‘blessings’ all over the place.

I have met many good people from each faith – and I find it hard to knock a person for their sincere committment to faith. Yes, I have questions concerning each faith – but that doesn’t change the fact ‘good people’ have emerged from each one.

The authority question concerning scripture is a tough one – it all depends on one’s view or perspective of their own guiding document. I do not read the Qu’ran or the Latter Day Saint bible – I am not inspired by them – but I have read them and own copies. I was inspired by the Jesus story.

Divinity – Questioned again?

Okay, I am debating the divinity of Jesus again – this time with people from ‘Stand to Reason’ (link on sidebar). Not sure why I always come back to this topic – but I do.

I will keep it simple.

(a) If a king from another country sent someone to you – to deliver a message – would you consider that person equal to the king?

That’s really the crux of the debate. Everything I read about Jesus is always placed into the idea he was made by God, blessed by God, sent by God, anointed by God, etc. I find it particularily strange someone that would make the claim to be God – needs any of that. How did the messenger become the king?

But this is what we have – NT scriptures being used as justification for the idea Jesus is God. For me, the evidence presented at Nicea, when this trinity idea passed, overlooked some serious pieces of evidence – namely the NT is based in older writings – Judaism. Judaism has never held to an idea of the messiah being anything more than a ‘man’ (and for sure not equal to ‘God’). So to make Jesus into a God-man messiah – has it’s roots in Gentile communities – not Judaism.

No matter the argument used to make Jesus divine – it will always fall short – and should. We are adding to God (and that’s a fact – no matter how some try to juggle the stupid 3 in 1 idea). I think as Christians we want to ‘have the cake and eat it too’ – but you cannot say Jesus = God and have God still being ‘One’ (it’s an argument in futile logic). If Jesus is God and the Father is God – then we have the obvious – God is 2.

Also no one makes any sense of this Jesus is fully God and fully human idea – because by the basest forms of logic he is (a) not human if he is even 1% God and (b) not God because he is a human. All of us humans  would not admit to having aspects of God-hood in us – would we? I am also pretty sure God is not a human – Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent”. I guess God is not a ‘man’ or a ‘son of man’.

It all makes no sense to me how God can move from ‘One’ for so many years prior to Jesus – then all of a sudden – He is 2 – based on rather obscure and limited passages in the NT (which are very few in number and somewhat problematic when looked at). Also, why can’t Jesus just say plainly – or many of the NT writings – straight up and straight out – Jesus is definitively God (no hiddeness). Also one could also say the Tanakh does a good job of hiding this idea also (heck the Jewish faith couldn’t even find it in 3500+ years).

Trinity – are you kidding me?

Abortion/Insulation/Politics – Day late – Dollar Short

Now for a topic less controversial than Messiahism – abortion.

I was watching a show today where a Christian person said that a Christian who is ‘pro-choice’ is going to hell. ‘What a leap’ I thought. It also got me thinking about the Christian stand on abortion – or churches or what have you.

I realize that we live in a society that is slightly dis-associated from reality – kind of insulated from it if you will. For example, we all likely eat some fast food from time to time – let’s say a burger. Well most people have no clue how that beef from the cow gets to the point where it can be cooked and put on a burger. No one here is likely slaughtering that cow and going through the whole process of cutting that cow up for various cuts of meat. There is a lot of blood involved and even the removal of a head/limbs – a little gory.

It’s kind of gory – so gory – some people quit eating meat after they find out what is involved in the process. This is what I mean by insulation – convenience. What does this have to do with abortion?

Most people enter into these debates with pro life and pro choice with that same insulation regarding this issue – like it’s only a matter of woman’s choice and that’s all that’s involved. We do not actually see what really happens in these procedures and when we do – it’s sometimes appalling. If you think what you saw in an abortion video was resembling a child – this is your verdict to make.

One has to wonder- and maybe this is just me – but is society making concessions for sexual behavior? If 100,000 abortions happen a year – not all of those can be rape cases/incest – some of that (if not the majority) has to be considered ‘birth control’.

To me, if society as whole wants this to exist – then so be it – that is the country’s perogative. However, I am hard pressed to believe people of the Christian faith have to accept societal pressures to conform on this issue. If Christians feel this is not a teaching they can embrace due to their foundational teachings – then I would say do not – and do not teach it as part of the faith.

However, this issue pulls Christians out of the woodwork into the political sphere – where religion and country meet head to head. I do not think Christians need to impose their faith teachings upon larger society – as much as I disagree with abortion – the faith teachings are for those of the faith – not those of the whole country. Christians should not teach on an issue they do not support – but they also should not condemn a country for not practicing their faith.

How do I arrive at such an idea? The early Christians were surrounded by Roman culture and customs – and many aspects of that they did not follow. Did they turn around and demand the state change it’s policies concerning issues like idolatry? No, they just did not practice them and taught their communities to also not practice them – live according to their communal beliefs. Some would say this also happened with ideas concerning sexual promiscuity. I advocate such an idea also – we live in the country – but we may live contrary to it in some regards.

To me, this is more of a personal question also – what would I advocate in my family? It is not something I feel the need to ‘convert’ others to – let them decide this on their own. I know that within my family we would welcome re-production. What else can I say?

Maybe I am wrong on this issue – maybe as part of your faith this is a little more wide open…I would ask why?

God On Trial (A Docu-Story)

I had a chance to watch a great show – a sort of docu-story – about Jewish prisoners in Aushwitz and the idea of putting ‘God on trial’. It reminded me of what we do in these blogs – all those conversations we have and all those tough places in theology we go down – and some we refuse to go down.

I recommend this show ‘God on Trial’ to everyone that frequents this blog if only as piece of theological learning – and also for some further learning on suffering in the Holocaust.

The topics are very deep and meaningful – and are thought provoking – whether Jewish, Christian, or Atheist. It’s discussing suffering, faith, election, free will, and everything that goes along with the pain of that moment in time.

It reminded me – don’t we also put God on trial – in some small way – everyday in these blogs? I am not sure that is such a bad thing – to see where faith takes us – or maybe should not take us.

***Figured I’d post this on Rememberance Day (which is like Veteran’s Day)

The Intention & Use of End Times Theology

I had a good talk with my wife today when something dawned on me – the real intent of those ‘end times’ teachings and how they can be seen as ‘useable’.

Firstly, I want to start off by saying that the way end-times theology is used in Christian churches is just ‘screw-bally’ and lacks real interpretive strength. Some people even build their core doctrines from books like Revelation and some of the prophets writings – selling fear and brimstone all the time. Some go so far as to get their followers to build places to hide and store up food for after the ‘end times’. Basically, all in all, it’s very strange, useless, and without merit.

However, the teachings on ‘end times’ does exist – I’d be remiss to say they did not. I do believe in Matthew 24 Jesus even breaks into some of this teaching strain. However, there are a lot of things that can be learned from those teachings that can help to deal with society. I’ll get into a few of these things.

(a) End times teaching always relates to actual ‘end times’ scenarios. When Jesus relates his points – well he is referring to Jerusalem being sacked by the Romans in 70 AD – which was literally ‘end times’ for some – namely those in the city when it is being destroyed. John writes Revelations concerning Roman persecution towards Christians in Roman territory – people were being killed. The prophets always address scenarios where people are being brutalized – like a Babylonian captivity. Sometimes – end times – is what is happening in certain scenarios.

(b) The ‘end times’ is always scenarios that can be forseen, warned about, and action can be taken. Usually there are a lot of signs that things are about to move from normal to ‘evil’. Hatred and bigotry are usually on the rise – and very clearly known (not hidden). There is always leaders to back that idea and drive it forward – usually within law and politics. The ideas always involve the worst forms of treatment to the group in trouble – including murder and prisons.   

(c) End times teaching is meant to remind you about forces being used for ‘evil’ and our responsibility in such dire straits. For example, when the Germans instituted ‘Crystal Night’ in 1939 – the teachings against Jewish people – the wearing of the stars – the destroying of their property – people should of read the ‘signs of the times’ and went into warning mode. People needed to flee and be rescued from that ‘evil’ regime and their form of ‘end times’ against humanity – and we as humans needed to say more and do more.

Jesus warns people in Matt 24 to ‘flee to the mountains’ (vs.16) – in face of things like genocide and bigotry – in what I would consider ‘pure hatred’ – people need to do something – like an ‘exodus’ from that place of turmoil. It does no good to remain in a place of hatred where they don’t ask questions – but just kill – committ an ‘end times’ scenario. Our response needs to be one of ‘exodus’ and ‘salvation’ of the people in danger.

(d) The people that currently teach on ‘end times’ have no clue what they are talking about – and have developed doctrines based on fantasy more than reality. Everyone in those camps seems to be waiting for some revived Roman Empire or Russia to surround Israel – while a few genocides went overlooked – like Rwanda and the Sudan. Christians basically had no clue concerning warning and dealing with problems on such a magnitude scale – because ‘end times’ to them is some fantastic – fantasy and never a reality.

As much as we hate to believe this – governments have always put in place some ‘end times’ scenarios for certain groups. Nazi Germany was a classic example of ‘end times’. The 2 genocides in Africa are also both good examples. South Africa and apartheid was a very bad time. The thing is – these things do happen and we need to read the signs and get people moving when we see them. We are not to be spectators guessing and wondering what will happen – we are to be active agents for salvation and change.

If end times theology is to have any active meaning and not be considered fantasy – it needs to be about faith moving into action/reality/truth. It needs to be like King Jr. facing the ‘evil’ head to head (endurance) to instruct change or moving people from the interior of the Sudan to refugee places (safety). But doing nothing is ensuring ‘evil’ will win the day. Some people are facing ‘end times’ and it’s best we use this theology constructively and not destructively – those who use these teachings to cause destruction are exactly what the teachings warn against.