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.

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17 thoughts on “A Question of Authorit-ah!

  1. I thought about this a bit more – here is my proverb.

    “A man twists in a light bulb with his bare hand and says ‘this is the only way to do this’. Then another man comes along with a glove on and twists the light bulb in and says ‘this is the only way to do this’. Another man comes along with a glove on with holes for the fingers to be free – and twists the light bulb and says ‘this is the only way to do it’. Finally, another man comes and he has a new and improved glove with grips on as he holds the pliers to turn the light bulb with and says ‘this is the only way to do it’. There is only one way to do it – twist and turn the lightulb”

  2. Ah, but is it the purpose of every person to change light bulbs? Or is it possible that only certain people need be responsible for lights while others are better off taking on other responsibilities in this world?

  3. Sorry. I hit submit when I didn’t intend to…

    If everyone is busy changing lights all the time, what is the purpose of having the light to begin with? Staring at a light bulb at close range just makes you see dots.

  4. “Ah, but is it the purpose of every person to change light bulbs? Or is it possible that only certain people need be responsible for lights while others are better off taking on other responsibilities in this world?” (Yael)

    Good questions – and one’s I haven’t delved nearly as deep into. I think it is a good question to peruse – some will be workers within their faith – and some will be workers in other areas…and can people inter-change. I guess I wonder – is there even a right way to do this? It’s a good question – do all need to have faith?

  5. Thing is we are dealing with religion here – (SVS)

    Exactly.The problem is that we are dealing with religion and an individual’s view on his/her particular religion and they way it is to be practiced. As a student of religion and all matters of faith, what I have noticed is that most, if not all, people are trying to convince themself and others that their brand of faith is the ultimate authority. So the real search is “what, who, and/or where is the ultimate authority?

    Evangelicals would say we are, the final authority, and Mormons are not, whereas Mormons would say we are and Islam is not, Islam would say we are and Judaism is not.
    (Not sure where Judaism would come down on this, maybe its followers could care less, but I’m pretty sure it would say “you sure do misrepresent and misunderstand our scriptures and teachings).
    Baptists would say it us and not you pentecostals, pentecostals would say its us and not you catholics, and so on, and so on……

    That’s my take on it.

    So, how many virgin sacrifices does it take to change a light bulb anyways and what kind of gloves, if any, should I use? 🙂

  6. John!!!

    From my side of the equation, virgins aren’t such a great thing. You know what I mean? I’d rather spend some time with a skillful former virgin thank you very much.

    And how this conversation has degenerated!

    On a more serious note in response to Jason’s question. No, I don’t think everyone needs to be a part of some ‘faith’. For myself, I think I’m becoming a better person within my community, but will this happen with everyone, is it a requirement for everyone? No.

    Only certain of us were born to the role of priest or levite. The rest of us had other things to do, things that were at least as important or even more important, than running the Tabernacle/Temple. There was a requirement to bring sacrifices now and then, but much of that was contributing to a community BBQ or providing food for the Temple cult. There was no requirement for all the things we think of as being a part of religion today. Three times per year going to Jerusalem, that’s it. We’ve turned that into some personal, constant interaction thing which if someone says no, three times a year is good enough for me, we don’t consider them on the same level. Personally, I enjoy spending a lot of time with my community, but I don’t need God in my pocket. If it happens I have one of those God encounters every few months or years, I consider that to be quite sufficient.

    Thejust1,
    Other people read out texts and have them say whatever they want. I just roll my eyes. What’s it to me unless they get in my face about what these texts say? If we hadn’t forcibly converted the Galileans to Judaism a short time prior to Jesus’ day, they could have gone off to start their new religion without the need to change around our texts at all since they wouldn’t have even known them. It was our own fault and certainly came back to haunt us. We learned. Since then it has been difficult and even at times impossible to convert to Judaism. Which is fine. A world where everyone is the same is one uninteresting place.

  7. Jim,
    What is useless to one person may not be to another. As I said earlier, if you spend all your time staring at the bulb, pretty soon all you see is dots.

  8. “do we have three authorities or one?”

    This question makes a presumption that not everyone shares. I think there are no authoritative books. Just interesting stories. And why not the stories of hercules, buddha, my Grandpa David, and mine as just as authoritative or full of moral teaching?

  9. I do believe we were talking about screwing in light bulbs, but I suppose we should use virgin light bulbs that have never been tainted by human hands, thus the need for gloves. We probably only need one virgin light bulb every year to enlighten us.

    “I think there are no authoritative books” (Wilfred)

    For me, I think it goes back to my earlier comment, that people are looking or are trying to prove that they have the one ultimate authority, which they can use to bash others over their less than theologically sound heads.

  10. “There can only be one (lightbulb). So which method is the most simple, the clearest, the one without gloves, without useless maneuvers?” (Jim)

    My personal opinion – Judaism.

    “And how this conversation has degenerated!” (Yael)

    Lot of virgin talk and sacrifice – reminds me of a dracula theology.

    “No, I don’t think everyone needs to be a part of some ‘faith’. For myself, I think I’m becoming a better person within my community, but will this happen with everyone, is it a requirement for everyone? No.” (Yael)

    I think it’s an interesting though and you have more of an inside track on this one – your community is actually a community – I am not sure churches in the West function that way (as communities – it’s more individualistic in nature). But I like the idea – it makes sense to me.

    “If we hadn’t forcibly converted the Galileans to Judaism a short time prior to Jesus’ day” (Yael)

    Do you have anything I could read on this (online I mean)?

    ” think there are no authoritative books. Just interesting stories. And why not the stories of hercules, buddha, my Grandpa David, and mine as just as authoritative or full of moral teaching?” (Wolf)

    If you weren’t born into sin then you would be an authority and have the rights to say this stuff (lol) 🙂

    The question is a huge assumption – but what the person was getting at is your same point – none of them may be authoritative to certain people (something I can also respect). Faith is not something that should be forcible or controlling – it’s a choice and if it isn’t – then it isn’t really faith.

    For me, I really like the teachings on a personal level – they add more meaning to life and interactions – even help guide them – I am down with that! They also claim to be from God – which is nice – because If there is a God I want to partake with Him. I need to get back into the church scene don’t I?

    As for personal authority concerning morality – isn’t that the point of the bible? To take from these teachings and elaborate on them – test them – find out what is true and what is not (ie: live by them – experiential). Our experiences will color the way we look at the teachings and help us to learn more about them…at least that’s been true for me thus far.

    On a very personal level, I do not trust my judgments on morality in and of itself also. I know my character well enough and my insistence to be ‘right’ (which is pride in a nutshell). I know my ability to be selfish – to think about myself and not the other – I am a self-justifier. Based on my characteristics – in forming morality – it will always lean in my favor (an that is also not just).

    Thank God my wife has helped me to see these things about myself – prior to that – I did not know these aspects of my character as much (on a small level I did – but now they glow when I am wrong) 8)

  11. Jason,
    A quick search of Wikipedia:

    “John Hyrcanus forced the Gentile Galileans and Idumeans to convert to Judaism-the only forcible mass conversion in the history of Judaism. In the time of Jesus Galilee contained many Jews whose ancestors had only been Jewish for about a century.”

    I will have to look later to see what other sources there are online. As you know, most of my reading is done the old fashioned way! In the past few years I have read quite a number of volumes of Jewish history written from a wide variety of viewpoints. The things they never taught me in Sunday School……

  12. Greetings and salutations from the original poster of this ques. at Nakedpastor…being new to the blogging scene,I’m amazed at how an idea can grow wings…”The Kingdom of heaven is like a blogroll…yadda,yadda,yadda”.Actually,it was a bit of a baiting query(shame on me),hoping to tease certain lines of thot from others on that site and see where it might lead.My starting thot was the perplexing problem of how so many adherents of so many different faiths express their faith as authoritively supported .The problem,somewhat paradoxical,is that scarcely any of these believers began the journey in that very state.I have never met any follower of any faith who became a convert after adopting a doctrine of scripture along the line of final,inerrant,infallible,beyond dispute,etc.Get my point?Of course,this is true for only some ,but they are very vocal and very boring..many others have soul nourishing faiths and the fruit to prove it and hardly ever give it a second thot….they have more important matters to deal with.

  13. “many others have soul nourishing faiths and the fruit to prove it and hardly ever give it a second thot….they have more important matters to deal with.” (FIF)

    I agree on that one – some of the issues that the church ‘lives and dies by’ are really not that important (my personal opinion). What is important is what faith does to someone – does it help them with their problems or does it exacerbate the problems (make them worse)? Sometimes faith becomes an excuse – sometimes faith becomes a helping hand – it’s all in the perspective of the believer/reader.

    “OK, Jason, I have a few Jewish sites, a Christian church sermon and a Christian blog” (Yael)

    (a) great detective work – that comparble to the Hardy Boys

    (b) I will read each one when I get the chance – your theory about Gallilee enthralls me (not sure why – maybe because it does seem like here is some loose merit to this claim)

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