NT Analysis Comments…

The letters, if anything, should always be kept in context since they seem to address specific problems based on the best understanding of Christianity via the writer. I would hesitate to build big doctrines from letters vs. the gospels…reason being…they are letters.

It’s like taking my book report on ‘A Tale of 2 Cities’ as substantially equal to the writing of the author itself. This is my personal opinion.

It seems to me a few things in Christian literature need to be figured out:

(a) Weighting of Importance
(b) Context (within book/letter)
(c) Analysis of prophecy in context of original usage (ie: Isaiah)
(d) Time period and historical context – figuring out ‘agenda’

*Taken from my blog ‘Acts says ‘No’ to Divinity of Jesus’

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Acts – Says ‘No’ to Divinity of Jesus.

I was just reading Geza Vermes book ‘the changing faces of Jesus’ and I came up to the chapter on Acts.

Geza does a great job detailing what titles and terms are used for Jesus and the seperation in the book from the Jerusalem ekklesia to the works of Paul (practically a 2 part writing). Geza does mention that Jesus is not given divine status in the book of Acts…as I have thought previously…based on the titles given and what people call Jesus through-out the book (also the original disciples pal around the temple a lot and hang with Pharisee’s). Acts 1:22 really sums it up:

“”Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know

Jesus (the Nazarene) – a man – attested/acknowledged by God – with miracles/signs – God performed through Jesus

Geza still only points to John and aspects of Paul’s letters as backing the claim of divinity in Jesus…and those aspects of Paul’s letters may be later additions since Acts does not really get into Jesus as divine whatsoever. The pattern above from Acts 1:22 seems to be the norm through-out the book of Acts concerning Jesus.

From this we can deduce Luke (also written by the same writer as Acts) does not make a claim to Jesus being divine. In fact, I would go as far to put all 3 synoptic gospels in that category…since like 80% each gospel is similar in detail. That takes 4 of the 5 main books out of the equation (which actually quote Jesus or the early church’s movements) as claiming Jesus as divine. John, is the only oddball, and he was written as late as 125 AD/CE….meaning he may have a whole nother agenda at work.

Get Lost! How Is this the Gospel?

DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS” (Matt 7:23)

Or ‘Get away from me, you who participate in evil actions/plans’. (like the Psalms)

I contend one simple thing – this is what Jesus taught…this idea of practicing a ‘good way’ or a ‘wicked way’ of living (based on the Judaic idea of there being 2 paths to follow). I don’t think Jesus had much time for the practice of evil acts – or acts he deemed evil as compared with the teachings of the Torah. A good example would be his ideas on adultery, murder, and forgiveness.

This example is wrong (my mistake) – One example would be selling offerings…putting a price on animals for sacrifice (kind of like selling spirituality in some regards). (Didn’t want to remove it…I want to maintain some integrity in what was first written).

I agree with this idea – life is about standards – the development of a paradigm that the world can be seen through and imaged. I believe some actions do carry a right and wrong aspect to them…in that some actions bring about really nice things and some bring about really horrible things…in their consequences. I think humanity is aware of this – those who aren’t…psychologists have started calling them ‘psychopaths’ (or sociopaths).  I think the bible is great guide for such introspection.

And this is where the gospel message shines…it allows me to have a standard of which I will ‘approve’ or ‘reject’ based on the way it hurts others or myself (ie: treat people in that manner you want to be treated…this is the law in summation). I get to have a standard in a world without one many times…I will live according to a plan of action (in my personal treatment of others and vice versa).

This idea seems to be the core reason Christians are not running to practice ‘lawlessness’ (or staying out of trouble)…whether this in plans or schemes or in simple invitations to do something questionable to their personal ethics. We are given that right to say ‘no’ or ‘get lost’ in such situations. It’s good to have choice based on some ‘rule of thumb’.

So why this point exactly? Because what seems harsh in the teachings usually isn’t…and that’s not a matter of perspective but reading more than just one line in a book.

Jesus – Real or Myth?

“Of course Jesus is no myth, he was a real person that was born of a virgin – who was inseminated by god himself (meaning that god is a male and has a penis), then he went about healing all manner of diverse sickness and casting out devils and raising the dead. Then he was crucified, battled with satan in hell, raised himself from the dead on the 3rd day, and then ascended to heaven on a cloud, and then he will eventually return to earth to proclaim his earthly kingdom, and then he will judge all the living and the dead peoples that have ever existed and then he will finally cast satan into hell along with all those poor souls that followed him (including me).

Yeah, you are correct there is some real hard “factual” evidence in that story, and it is not shrouded in a LIE at all.

Just for your own sake here is what myth actually means:

1. a traditional or legendary story, usually concerning some being or hero or event, with or without a determinable basis of fact or a natural explanation, esp. one that is concerned with deities or demigods and explains some practice, rite, or phenomenon of nature.
2. stories or matter of this kind: realm of myth.
3. any invented story, idea, or concept: His account of the event is pure myth.
4. an imaginary or fictitious thing or person.
5. an unproved or false collective belief that is used to justify a social institution.

This is from the dictionary, you know the place where words are described as to what they really mean and not what you want them to mean.” (Johnny Bird)

**Comment taken from ‘The Reasoning for Rules/Restrictions’

**Interesting idea that I think we should look into – thus a new blog on it.

‘Gospel’ about Exodus?

I was thinking about all my reading through the teachings of Jesus and the fact Matthew paints Jesus as a Moses type figure – and I got to thinking…maybe the term ‘gospel’ (good news) is about a personal Exodus situation?

Think about it. In John there is a lot of talk about freedom – ‘whom the son sets free is free indeed’ (for example). In Matthew one of the ideas for Jesus’ mission (from Isaiah) is ‘to proclaim freedom to those captive’. Maybe the point of the good news is that we are actually free (in God) and to live as slaves under a human construct (like the politics of the Romans) was too limiting and debased our humanity in some way…like it did to the Israelites in Egypt. Maybe Jesus’ life represents this?

I am beginning to think we were created to be ‘free persons’ – free in the sense that we can ‘choose’ what it is we should become. Once we put the construct of politics (for example) into the frame we become a very limited people under the thumb – not of God – but of the philosophies of humanity. Even our religious constructs can limit our abilites to be freely us.

Maybe the point is to be you and that is a ‘good thing’. To take that introspective look at your life and see who it is you are, your capabilities, and those pieces of you that can be shared within the communities we reside in (or even the families we reside in). We need to develop this freedom as we grow from child, to teen, to youg adult, to adult, to mature adult, to senior. We begin an Exodus out of many of the trappings that hold us captive (including our own addictions and problems) to something more freeing.

It may bring us in total conflict with the society around us – as in the case of Moses or Jesus – with the leaders of their day….and in one case cost the person their life (which doesn’t seem freeing – but is). I can say one thing about Jesus – he lived a good life and was not restricted by measures of society around him – and this cost him his life…in the same vein as ‘if this world cannot hand us our freedom – I am going to die trying to change that” (with a type of hope after this life). We see this in cases of civil rights workrs in the 50’s and 60’s and also within Gandhi’s movement to free India from British rule. We’ve seen Exoduses people and those always inspire us!

Maybe the gospel is about Exodus? Maybe the gospel wants us to approach growth in a way we do not follow the limits around us that do not allow us the be free as was originally intended by God in creation of this species?

Communion – Literal?

For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him” (John 6:55-56)

And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood” (Luke 22:19-20)

There has been a serious debate in church history about what happens in the communion act – real body and blood (transubstantiation) or symbolic in some nature. However, it should be noted that through-out the majority of church history the belief that something literal to eating and drinking the body and blood of Jesus was suspected to be happening…as cooky as that sounds.

I don’t think the passages at all show a literalism in the communion act – in fact in Luke (which is also in Paul’s Corinthians letter) – they speak of ‘rememberance’. Jesus just broke some bread and was passing it around the table – and likely did the same with the wine (this is a passover meal). In the gospels there is no grotesque idea of eating the literal body of Jesus and drinking his blood – as if this was even logistically possible anyways. The reveal the symbolism of the event and the meaning of it (rememberance of Jesus).

As for John’s gospel – which depends on how one reads it – I see a type of symbolism being used again (although some will argue for literal – again no one can literally drink Jesus’ blood or eat his body – cannibalism is against Christian morality – even Jesus would not support it).   

In this chapter of John, Jesus is referring to the ‘manna from heaven’ and the wilderness experience in Exodus. He makes the leap to say ‘he is the bread of life’ and then this piece quoted above. Yet, it seems when Jesus talks about this mystical experience of abiding in one another…well it cannot simply be actual food or drink (both will be digested and then discarded as waste at some point). He must be referring to something a little more intimate than ‘food’ or ‘drink’…maybe symbolism about how what Jesus is teaching and doing are ‘life giving’ (since they are blessed by God). In this way, by sharing in the same lifestyle we enter in some experience that is ‘blessed’.

Either way one looks at this subject – if it is taken literal – God is seriously mocked.

Nicene Creed – Questions?

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. 

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit; he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. 

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen. 

(Nicene Creed – 325 AD)

Beliefs I’d Question:

(a) The first paragraph opens with a phrase that there is ‘one God’. However, when the 2nd paragraph begins it is abundantly clear we have co-sharing agreement in the god-hood (ie: Jesus as ‘God from God, not created).

(b) I think there is confusion about what Christ actually means. This version of messianic belief does compare with the original beliefs about the messiah (which is the original term – but no one likes calling him Jesus Messiah); however it is also quite different. They call him ‘Lord’ – and I am not sure how they are using that term (if they mean Adonai – then it’s clearly a step away from the original beliefs in Judaism). They also call him ‘the only (literal) son of God’. Now it’s clear they are not using this term about Jesus being a king of a kingdom – but in a literal sense (as God’s son)…another clear step away from original messianic beliefs.  

(c) The virgin birth is beyond questionable. It’s based on a passages from Isaiah 7:14 that is mistranslated in the Greek Septuagint for ‘young woman’. 2 of 4 gospels carry the story and Paul, Acts, James, and John make no mention. It is eerily similar to many god tales of other religions of the day.

(d) How is Jesus both fully God – and a man? In those days they may have not considered the impossibility of that statement – but it’s fairly obvious. Jesus cannot be tempted, for example, since God cannot be tempted…which means he lived a life nothing like ours in some regards.

(e) The Holy Spirit is called the ‘Lord’ (again if this means Adonai then we have a problem). This would mean there was a tri-party sharing of the god-head, 2 spirit entities and one man, who can all be worshipped. There is no proof of this in the NT nor the Tanakh concerning such a claim…nor do we find ‘Lord’ beside Holy Spirit ever. It’s almost as if this group of Christians never stopped to think the Holy Spirit is the emanation of God to humanity – the way God does His business with us (since we cannot see Him). It’s an extension of God – but not a seperate piece of the god-head.

(f) Baptism for the forgiveness of sins isn’t exactly clear. They seem to imply that one’s baptism results in the forgiveness of their sins (and is not a symbolic act concerning that idea). I think it is rather ‘superstitious’ to think a ritual forgives your sins – I see no mention of repentance anywhere?

If one takes a close look at these things (creeds and statements of faith) it becomes crystal clear the whole of the NT texts is not being discussed, just one viewpoint of how the scriptures can be read.