Senate Understanding Christianity

Discussion in 'Community' started by Ghost, Dec 24, 2012.

  1. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    It's one of my favourites too, though from probably a different standpoint: Jesus on the text works no miracle in the hearts of the mob that was out to stone the woman. It was a straight-from-the-Taliban sort of scene. And yet one man stands up, reminded a mob of foaming-at-the-mouth zealots what it was to be human, and they had enough humanity in them to (a) feel shame and (b) not ignore what was being said to them, as it's so often easy to do when you're worked up into a frenzy. The message that no one is perfect is the most obvious one, but I find there's as much comfort if not joy to be found in the fact that even a bunch of zealots had enough humanity in them to turn and walk away.
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  2. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    For me the lesson illustrates the difference between law and morality. To stone the woman would have been in accordance with the Mosaic Law. Instead of commenting specifically on the justness of the law (and risk a charge of blasphemy) Jesus asked the question which prompted the mob to reflect on the morality of the law.
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  3. SoloKnight Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 13, 2003
    star 4
    As much as I dislike Orson Scott Card's beliefs on certain matters, I do like his take on the adulterous woman:

    “A Great Rabbi stands, teaching in the marketplace. It happens that a husband finds proof that morning of his wife's adultery, and a mob carries her to the marketplace to stone her to death.

    There is a familiar version of this story, but a friend of mine - a Speaker for the Dead - has told me of two other Rabbis that faced the same situation. Those are the ones I'm going to tell you.

    The Rabbi walks forward and stands beside the woman. Out of respect for him the mob forbears and waits with the stones heavy in their hands. 'Is there any man here,' he says to them, 'who has not desired another man's wife, another woman's husband?'
    They murmur and say, 'We all know the desire, but Rabbi none of us has acted on it.'

    The Rabbi says, 'Then kneel down and give thanks that God has made you strong.' He takes the woman by the hand and leads her out of the market. Just before he lets her go, he whispers to her, 'Tell the Lord Magistrate who saved his mistress, then he'll know I am his loyal servant.'

    So the woman lives because the community is too corrupt to protect itself from disorder.

    Another Rabbi. Another city. He goes to her and stops the mob as in the other story and says, 'Which of you is without sin? Let him cast the first stone.'

    The people are abashed, and they forget their unity of purpose in the memory of their own individual sins. ‘Someday,’ they think, ‘I may be like this woman. And I’ll hope for forgiveness and another chance. I should treat her as I wish to be treated.’

    As they opened their hands and let their stones fall to the ground, the Rabbi picks up one of the fallen stones, lifts it high over the woman’s head and throws it straight down with all his might it crushes her skull and dashes her brain among the cobblestones. ‘Nor am I without sins,’ he says to the people, ‘but if we allow only perfect people to enforce the law, the law will soon be dead – and our city with it.’

    So the woman died because her community was too rigid to endure her deviance.

    The famous version of this story is noteworthy because it is so startlingly rare in our experience. Most communities lurch between decay and rigor mortis and when they veer too far they die. Only one Rabbi dared to expect of us such a perfect balance that we could preserve the law and still forgive the deviation.

    So of course, we killed him."
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  4. Condition2SQ Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 5, 2012
    star 4
    I was raised as an evangelical but left Christianity at around age 18, but after I got over my insufferable "atheists are smarter than everybody else" phase (regrettably, only relatively recently), I have grown to love much of the contemplative wisdom of the Bible.


    Ecclesiastes 7:5

    It is better to heed the rebuke of a wise person than to listen to the song of fools.
    --------------------------------------

    Luke 12:25
    Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?
    ---------------------------------------
    Matthew 5:46

    For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
    ------------------------------------------

    Job 1:21
    Naked I came from my mother’s womb,and naked I will depart.

    ---------------------------------------

    I also love the Parable of the Sower, Nathan's rebuke of David, David confronting Saul with the piece of his cloak, and much, much more.
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  5. ManaByte Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 20, 1998
    star 4

    Even though you're past your "atheists" phase, you should read Lee Strobel's books: The Case for Christ, The Cast for Faith, The Case for Easter, The Case for Christmas, The Case for a Creator, The Case for the Real Jesus. He was an atheist legal reporter for the Chicago Tribune who tried to disprove the Bible against scholars using every excuse an atheist does, and came away a believer. Each book is excellent.
  6. timmoishere Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 2, 2007
    star 6
    Atheism isn't a "phase," it's merely a recognition that all religions are man-made myths, with little or no factual basis. If there is no evidence for a god, then there is no reason to believe that a god exists.
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  7. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Let's keep off each other's life experiences please.
  8. Skywalker8921 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2011
    star 4
    I think you're a little confused, DM. In Genesis 9:1, after the flood, God charged Noah and his sons to "be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth." They were supposed to repopulate the earth and spread out instead of staying together.

    Genesis 11:1 says, "Now the whole earth had one language and one speech." This was probably some time after the Flood, though no mention has been made of how much time had passed. Similarly, it is not made clear who the "they" in 11:2 are, but they were descendents of Noah, that much is obvious. I believe that by this point Noah's descendents had started to spread out over the earth, but still tended to live in close groups. This particular group of people built the tower "lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the earth." This was said in direct defiance of God's command that humans repopulate and fill the earth given in Genesis 9:1. He did not confuse their language because He was afraid of them doing the impossible; He confused their language so that they had no choice but to separate and scatter, thus fulfilling His command that humanity should fill the earth. It is possible that even the people who weren't involved at Babel had their speech confused as well, though maybe not to the same extent.

    God does not have need to fear humanity. He created us and He knows what we are capable of, but nothing we ever do should cause Him to fear us. Rather, acts of defiance against Him are often turned for His own purposes, as Babel demomstrates.
  9. Sarge Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 4, 1998
    star 4
    I think you nailed it with your last statement, Skywalker#. The tower builders were trying to make their own way to get to heaven without God, which means they were trying to be their own gods. Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden for eating the fruit which Satan told them would make them gods. And Lucifer was expelled from heaven because he wanted to take God's place. It's all about pride, or hubris if you like the Greek term.
  10. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    I like mystical interpretations of Biblical stories, particularly the earliest ones. In that vein, the Babel story in one sense, if not indeed the expulsion from Eden, is as much a comment about the tragic nature of man's existence as a warning not to defy God.

    It shares something in common with the Myth of Sisyphus, at least in the versions where Sisyphus is said to be punished by Zeus for seeking to circumvent death, that is, subvert the natural order of existence that all things must live and die. Sisyphus, because of his hubris in believing himself more clever than Zeus, is assigned the eternal task of rolling a boulder up a hill only to have it fall back to the bottom of the hill forcing him to start once again. Camus in his essay speaks of Sisyphus as illustrating the human condition: every time we seem to be on the verge of enlightenment, of some seemingly-absolute truth, we fall, we fail, or we discover something that makes us rethink our models, quite literally starting all over again. It is a powerful metaphor that calls humanity to embrace the inability to know everything there is to know about existence, or embrace the inability to know everything about God.

    Babel is similarly a Sisyphean story. Building a tower to reach God is metaphorically an attempt to use human reasoning, human understanding, to reach and comprehend the infinite. If you build a tower high enough, your perspective is changed, certainly -- but no matter how high the tower is built, it still can never reach the perspective of God: "Man's reach must exceed his grasp, or else what's a heaven for?" as Browning once said. And the Tower itself was left to crumble away, if I remember right, without human beings to fill it or maintain it.
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  11. Condition2SQ Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 5, 2012
    star 4
  12. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    The Pope displayed the bone fragments of St Peter for the first time today:

    [IMG]

    But should there be any religious significance to physical remains, or shrines?
  13. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    It's tradition from pagans, so...why not? :p
  14. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    If you brought me a sliver of the Holy Cross itself, I would be mildly interested but I would not believe that the object itself held even the slightest power. Like the Shroud of Turin? Totally meaningless to me. The power is in Jesus Christ Himself and my faith in Him, not the physical objects He interacted with.

    And, if I am not too late for the favorite verses, I will start posting some of those.

    Isaiah 30:29 - Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of the LORD, to the mighty One of Israel.

    A song as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept and gladness of heart as when one goeth with a pipe. What else could a person need?

    I may have to just start at Genesis and go through the Bible posting favorite verses as I come to them. So many . . .
  15. Sarge Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 4, 1998
    star 4
    It was once said that if every "true sliver of the holy cross" in England were gathered together, there would be enough wood to build a ship. [face_liarliar]
  16. Lord Vivec Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 17, 2006
    star 7
    It's not my intention to be inflammatory, but I don't see how this is at all a positive development. To be completely fair to them, there are absolutely instances where legitimate miracles have been recorded around this sort of thing. However, I don't see where those isolated instances merit this sort of fetishized treatment. I think our closest model would be the brass serpent forged by Moses. It started out with a confirmed, miraculous, mechanical operation: looking at it counter-acted the effects of snake venom. That's indisputably what it was for, and it was positive so long as it existed in this capacity. However, by the time of Hezekiah, it had to be destroyed, as the Israelites had begun offering it sacrifices.

    The same progression is my primary concern here. This opens the door to outright idolatry and diminishes the message of monotheism. I also find it one example of a broader concern about Catholicism. It is certainly a great thing to draw on the example and inspiration of previous believer's lives. But comparing to the polytheistic systems it was to have replaced, there seems little distinction and even less Biblical justification for the hugely complex system of shrines, saints, and icons that they've spawned.

    Objects are objects. God is God. There's no "magical residue" left over.
  17. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    I can see the attraction of worshipping objects, at least they are real and tangible.
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  18. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Some mystics like to point out that the commandment against making an image of God (statues and whatnot) was not so much about idolatory so much as that any idol of God was bound to fail to represent what God was, and invariably making an image of God would just cause disagreements about whether it was correct or not. "I am the Lord thy God; thou shalt have no other Gods before me" is as much saying "You cannot truly conceive of what I am in total, so don't go down dead ends trying." Again, a similar theme to the moral of the Tower of Babel: man's reasoning perforce is inadequate to understand the infinite, and an attempt to do so is bound to fail and is going to wind up wasting time when you could be out doing good works instead.

    Criticising the lack of Biblical justification for the practice of veneration of shrines, etc, would be a stronger argument if Biblical justification alone was meant to fuel Catholic theology. It doesn't. Catholicism doesn't draw solely on the Bible for its theology and never has. There's large bodies of tradition and inherited custom from the early patriarchs that complement Biblical teaching on that. Basically you're arguing Martin Luther here as one of the main rafts of early Protestant objection to Catholicism was the proposition that Christianity should come from the Bible alone.

    I agree the distinction between animist or polytheism and Catholic theology looks a fine one from the outside, but the theological instruction and teaching is consistent across the Church: saints, icons, and shrines have no power on their own. Saints are called on to intercede with the Almighty; they have no power of their own to answer prayers. Icons and shrines likewise hold no divine power of their own, so to speak; their primary purpose is to better allow a person to contemplate the divine. Any blessing or miracle said to flow from them flows from God alone, not from the individual, the relic, or the location; a person saying otherwise would be falling into idolatory as you say. Each is at best a conduit, not the source. Catholic teachings have been alive to that distinction for the past thousand years or so. That's leaving aside the other rationales for preservation of relics and so on: sense of continuity, focus on great believers, sense of history, etc.
    Last edited by Saintheart, Nov 27, 2013
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  19. Sarge Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 4, 1998
    star 4
    Speaking as a life-long protestant whose understanding of Catholic teaching is at best imperfect, it seems to me that the Catholic Church may be teaching this, but my experience with Catholics is that many of them have yet to grasp this truth. I'm sure Catholic priests are doing their best to lead their flocks away from idolatry, but many of the sheep have gone astray, misled by the veneration of relics. True understanding worship and praise with wisdom give way to simple superstition all too often.
  20. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    @Lord Vivec makes an excellent point by bringing up the brass serpent. That's a really perfect example that I can't believe I didn't think of. Good catch, dude.

    I will admit that I can kind of see how having an object could help to focus the prayer. In fact, one other example is springing to mind. In Acts, the Bible says that pieces of cloth were taken from Paul's clothes and that when those objects were given to sick people they were healed. In fact, I've prayed over a "prayer cloth" as we call them in my denomination myself. Of course, in the churches I've attended, we believe in prayer with the laying on of hands, right? You place your hands on those who are sick as you pray for them; this is Biblical, of course, and it's what Jesus did. There's something there beyond the spiritual principle though. Just the human connection of the touch. So, we kind of use the prayer cloth as a way to have something to focus on when the person isn't there due to being too sick or whatever to come to church. So, we generally touch the cloth as we pray for the person that's sick; the cloth is then taken to the person. But I think we'd all resist the idea that the power is in the cloth. Those praying are using the cloth as a way to focus and stand in for the actual person; the person being prayed for uses the cloth as an encouragement, as a tangible reminder that they are being thought of and prayed for. But the more I think about it, it's an interesting Protestant analog to the Catholic idea.
    Last edited by Rogue1-and-a-half, Dec 3, 2013
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  21. Moviefan2k4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 29, 2009
    star 4
    My favorite verse is John 3:17...

    "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it through Him."

    Another favorite is Romans 8:28...

    "For we know that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love God, and are called according to His purposes for them."
    Last edited by Moviefan2k4, Dec 24, 2013
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  22. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    Particular reasons for why?
  23. Moviefan2k4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 29, 2009
    star 4
    Verses like that help to remember that even when I don;t feel it, Jesus really does love me...especially when I can't stand myself. Comedian Brad Stine once brought up the idea of God being a crutch, and responded with "Yeah? Well, not believing in God is a coma."
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  24. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2002
    star 7

    i dont read this as having grown out of atheism, but having grown out of thinking atheists are smarter/better than everyone else or that religion, faith, and religious traditions have no value, which absolutely is something that should be grown out of. correct me if i read you wrong. just asking for clarification since @ManaByte and @timmoishere seem to be thinking you've announced some sort of reconversion to faith
    Last edited by Rogue_Ten, Dec 25, 2013
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  25. Sarge Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 4, 1998
    star 4
    Rom 8:28 is the verse that always gets me thru hard times.
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