The "truth" of Christianity and "knowing" God
Posted in the The Conversation Forum
Hello, is this thing on?
Hey Jse7en...r u here yet?
yeah, I'm here, but I may have to go soon... I signed up to get email updates to this thread, so you can just lay out you points in long form, and I'll respond tomorrow night. I'm curious about your background ... so you were a Seventh-day Adventist at one point, and now no longer. Did you grow up SDA? or did you join and then leave?
Hey it worked!!! Ok, where were we. You mentioned the Gnostics and Mystery religions. Good point.
I found a little book called "The Scandal of the Incarnation" a selection of Irenaeus' works by Hans Urs von Balthasar..
Since Irenaeus wrote most of his works as polemics against the Gnostics...I thought i would share a few paragraphs...
(don't worry...I type really fast)
"So-called gnosis was an enormous temptation in the early Christian Church. By contrast, persecution, even the bloodiest posed far less of a threat to the Church's continuing purity and further development. Gnosticism had its roots in late antiquity, drew on oriental and Jewish sources, and multiplied into innumerable esoteric doctrines and sects.
Then, like a vampire, the parasite took hold of the youthful bloom and vigour of Christianity. What made it so insidious was the fact that the Gnostics very often did not want to leave the Church. Instead, they claimed to be offering a superior and more authentic exposition of Holy Scripture, though, of course, this was only for the 'superior souls'('the spiritual','the pneumatic'); the common folk ('the psychic') were left to get on with their crude practices. It is not hard to see how this kind of compartmentalizing of the Church's members, indeed of mankind as a whole, inevitably encouraged not only an excited craving for higher initiation, but also an almost unbound arrogance in those who had moved from mere 'faith' to real, enlightened 'knowledge'."
"In their epistles, St Paul and St John had begun the struggle against Gnosticism, which in their time was in its early stages. Even so, it was already showing its pernicious tendencies; promoting its seductive secret knowledge in the Christian communities, confusing simple beleivers, and spreading the first dangerous 'pluralism' within the unity of faith.
A real show-down only became possible when all the various systems of Gnosticism had been constructed. This took place toward the end of the second century."
So...what is so important about this is...the ANTI-CHRIST...is only mentioned in 1&2 John...John's epistles. The "anti-christs", whom John's epistles say there are many, were the gnostic christians who denied a bodily christ.
The word anti-christ does not appear in Daniel or Revelation and has nothing to do with "end times".
I've been listening to alot of Veith and Bohr, and 3ABN...and they all make the leap that the Anti-Christ is the Beast.
For one thing, equivocating them is wholely unnecessary. Why not let the Beast be the Beast, why make the Beast (the papacy according to adventist eschatology) into the Anti-Christ? So not only is it scripturally unfounded (nowhere does the scriptures say "the anti-christ is the beast") but it is wholely un-necessary.
You can still interpret Revelation the way you want without making the beast out to be the anti-christ. And, as I said, the anti-christ were the gnostic christians who denied the bodily christ.
The Literalist-Historicist bishops who wrote the epistles were in a literary battle with the gnostic scholars like Marcion, and their "blog battle" was captured in the canon when they added 1&2 John.
I don't really care for the Gnostic descriptioin of the Flesh being evil. That may have to do with "carnal desires"...which we know now are just raging hormones. In that sense the Gnostics are like the Stoics who taught that we must control our "desires". Passion is the worst thing. There are still alot of Stoic Christians who think we are supposed to use Reason to supress our emotions.
But the Gnostics most likely thought of "corruption" of matter from the ideal Platonic Forms, in that nothing embodied in the real world (material world, i.e. Nature) is "perfect" like the Platonic ideals/forms. It turned into a rejection of the material and the flesh...which is just ridiculous.
But remember this...the Gnostics claimed Paul as their apostle. And also another group of "Paulinists" existed that the Catholics persecuted even after they put their version of Paul into the canon.(there really was three versions of Paul...only one made it intot he canon)
The important thing is this...speaking of the Gnostic Paul...Col 1. 25 God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the MYSTERY that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this MYSTERY, which is CHRIST IN YOU, the hope of glory.
Some translations say "secret" some say "mystery". But the "secret" is CHRIST IN YOU!!!
You can do a whole sermon on that! IF you ask most Christians what the "secret" to Christianity is, they don't even know the bible says there is a "secret" or a "mystery".
Then it all turns on the meaning of "CHRIST IN YOU". We will have to discuss that.
I understand your time constraints. I am willing to discuss this as much as you are. I sense a kindred spirit, a truth seeker. Not sure though.
Yes I grew up SDA...it was like water to a fish...Graduated from Walla Walla in engineering. 20 years of bible study, everyday. We learned early on that the answer to every question was "pray and study the word".
Growing up SDA poses its own problems since in order to "see the kingdom" one must be "born again" John 3. It's hard to be born again when you are raised with "the truth". So most SDA kids go out of their way to "live a life of sin"...in their rebellious teens - 20's, hoping to get so far down God/Jesus has to intervene. I've seen this happen. We heard a born again testimony at least once a week for 10 years. We began to notice a pattern...so kids thought they had to put themselves in "the gutter" in order to be saved, or to have a really good testimony they could give!
I took a Philosophy of Religion class at WWC that changed my life. I seriously was so naive I didn't know anybody else besides EGW had even bothered to write on the subject of God and religion. I was shocked, and a little embarrassed, that I didn't know so much. So I read everything. Everything.
I determined to be intellectually honest. If anything was going to see me through it was going to be rigor, and also an insistance on the proper use of language and terminology. God does not mean God to some people. That word God means all sorts of things. So does the word "faith". So I thought I would sort it all out and insist that terms be defined, and used consistently.
I decided to wipe the slate clean and I would "buy back" each one of my beliefs if and only if the arguments were sound. I honestly thought I would buy all my old beliefs back. Boy was I wrong. But I remained honest. I thought that I would emerge a stronger SDA and I would be admired in the community for knowing so much! HA! Its so funny looking back.
Plato answers the question "why do philosophy" in Phaedrus, who is a philosophy loving student of Socrates. The answer. Freedom. It is the only way to determine if you are unwittinly trapped in the wrong "belief-system". But I never gave up on "God". I don't think the only alternative is atheism. I wanted to know "what is God?"
That uneasy feeling is called cognitive dissonance. Fight through it.
1. Persia was not "inferior" to Babylong.
2. "Sabuim" does not mean "weeks"
3. The decree to rebuild the Temple occured in 539 BC by Cyrus in the book of Ezra.
4. Daniel was written in two parts. Part 1 in Aramaic where Daniel is called "he" in third person. And Part 2, written in Hebrew, where Daniel is calle "I" in first person.
5. There is no such person as "Darius the Mede" anda Gobryas conqured Babylon. The author was not as "familiar" with these kings and "history" as the book of Daniel would suggest.
6. 70 "sevens" points to 168BC when there would be a revolt against Antiochus.
These are just a few points you should have rattled off to me if you really were familiar with both sides...and really "wanted" to know.
Let me ask you. When was the first time the "Bible" (all 66 books of the official "canon") appeared together? Who assembled them?﻿ When was the first time the gospels and Hebrews appeared together? What is the oldest copy we have of all four gospels together? What is the oldest copy we have with the Gospels and Hebrews together?
Here is everything we got...
Blaise Pascal famously said "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" is not the "God of the Philosphers". That should have been the end of it. But history isn't so simple. We can call the "God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" the "God of the Bible".
Technically, the "God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" is YHWH, the tetragrammation. In English we say Yahweh. That "God" had a name, so I prefer to use it when we discuss Yahweh.
The Christian "God" is not Yahweh. The Jews would agree. Yahweh was also called El or Elohim. I prefer Yahweh...who was not a completely good God. The three attributes of God are usually "omnipotence" "omniscient" and "omnibenevlonence" in Christian Theology.
Sometimes theologians throw in "omnipresence" then they have to explain how that is not pantheistic.
But "omnibenevolence" is important because this God is the Creator, and the reason God created was out of "abundance" or "love" or "benevolence"....som etimes it is called "sui generous". He did not HAVE to create.
Unfortunately this is not YAHWEH. Yahweh "creates disaster" Isaiah 45. Yahweh killed innocent children, the most evil thing you can do. Most people resort to an authority argument here and say that Yahweh, as creator, had the right to take innocent life. Its funny, they are the same people that later make "free will" arguments. I would say taking someone's life is the ultimate afront to free will.
Plus, the firstborn were not complicit in Pharoah's crime. Just kill pharoah for pete's sake! Why kill the childrens? So evil. Even "man's justice" has figured out that you don't kill someone who did not committ the crime.
There came a time when I could not worship Yahweh in good conscious anymore. Luckily, for most people, the just forget all that stuff, and the God in their head is actually a God of Love. It wasn't until 1 John that we get God is Love. Interestingly, in the Symposium, the Greeks had a story that Love (Eros) created the universe. Love, or desire, is the most basic thing.
God "Creating" is sometimes called God "speaking"...as in God "spoke" the creation. This is also called "logos" which is speech, or discourse, but is also thinking. So God "Creating" is also called God "thinking".
Sometimes you hear Scientists who study the "laws of physics" refer to it as "the mind of God" or God's "thoughts".
So God "creating" is called "speaking", "thinking", and "loving" (or desiring, or willing). You find many theologians use these words to describe creating. They are usually Neoplatonic since with Plato and then Plotinius you have God "emanating" creation. God is continually "emanating" or "sustaining" creation.
Not sure if my comments are just taking a long time to show up here... they may not have posted. I'll wait a bit, and repost them if I don't seem them by tommorrow.
Your comment about the "anti-christ" and the beast... doesn't "anti" in Greek mean against or in place of? like a substitute christ? and doesn't that describe the papacy? I don't see a problem with using the common appellation when talking about the beast. Often times I think people refer to the beast of the sea as the anti-christ so that people not as familiar with the Bible understand who they are talking about because most people associate the anti-christ with the number 666. I agree that there is no one anti-christ, and that the bible does not use that moniker for the beast of the sea.
It would be great if Christians would be more careful with their language, and pay attention to erroneous misconceptions like thinking there were 3 wise men and the birth of Jesus (they arrived later, and brought 3 gifts, no mention of how many wise men). Or for that matter, it would be great if Christians would stop celebrating false holidays, like Christmas and Easter.
But I'm not holding my breath.
Looks like I have to re-post my earlier comments, they didn't go through:
You present a lot of info. You certainly have attempted to live up to your idea in college to research out everything you can to know the truth. Your testimony is interesting, I think we do a great disservice to kids by parading out and promoting all of these crazy testimonies. It is a mistake to glorify the rebirth of the most wretched ... but I suppose people are trying to make the point that no one is totally lost, there is always hope that they can be saved. However, you make a great point that there was no model for how to stay on the strait and narrow. All the models were for "getting lost" in order to get found.
I want to respond to your points a little differently than you might expect. You've probably heard the saying "history is written by the victors". History and science is from a humanistic point of view. Only the Bible is from God's point of view, so it's not surprising that the two don't match up well. You talk about the lack of evidence for Darius the Mede. But for many years they said the same about Nebuchanezzar and even about King David. But then they discovered ancient writings that used those names, that confirmed the Bible account, and found that they were known by other names in other languages that wrote more of the history handed down to us. So isn't it possible that a single discovery could prove the existence of Darius? Those who did not question the authenticity of the Bible, and accepted the fact that King David existed, were correct a long time before science caught up. So if you trusted science, you would have been mistaken. That is the history of science, it changes, and today "truth" is tomorrows error.
Everybody writes and researches to put forward a point of view. This has always been the case. Discrediting the bible is not a recent phenomenon. Satan has worked at it in all ages, starting in Eden with "yea, hath God said...?" (Gen 3:1) so it is no surprise that there are very old texts that can prove the opposite of what the Bible says. John called them anti-christs working in his day, and Paul says 2Th_2:7 "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work:"
It is no small feat that God preserved for us His word, through all ages, even using the enemy at times. I've read enough of the history of how the Bible came down to us to know that even the Catholics played a considerable roll, which will cause some to stumble. But Jesus said "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." Mat_24:35, Mar_13:31, Luk_21:33
He says also Luk_3:8 "... That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." I've heard that "stones" was a derogatory reference to Gentiles. 1Co_1:27 "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;"
God can even use the enemies of God to preserve the Bible.
The Bible is not consistent with human recorded history, but it it consistent within itself. If you take apart one doctrine, eventually the whole thing unravels. You mention the dubious history of Daniel. If one doesn't accept Daniel as it is written, then you can't accept Jesus as the Son of God because He plainly refers to Daniel the Prophet, not "the writer of Daniel" but rather Jesus takes the author to be Daniel himself "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place,(whoso readeth, let him understand)... "Mat_24:15 and Mar_13:14
There are other such examples, like Jesus referring to the flood, which "took them all away".
My point is, how should I be surprised that the authors of "science so called" don't support the Bible? Wouldn't it be more astonishing if they completely supported the Bible? If the sciences all supported the scripture, then it would be surprising to find any skeptics, wouldn't it?
Yes, exactly. History is written by the Victors. And the Victors in this case would be Papal Rome.
I always wondered why the Victors...Papal Rome...would include the book of Revelation in the Canon. It was a hot debate whether to include it. Ironically, including the book of Hebrews was a big debate. Of course you know that whether Paul wrote Hebrews is a big debate. Some think it was an Alexandrian Jew.
Anyway, the Greek Orthodox don't even include Revelation in their canon. But the Roman Catholic Canon included Revelation. Of course, it didn't take long for "break-away" religious thinkers to start accusing Rome as the beast and dragon. The Protestants in the 1500's-1600's also interpreted the book of Revelation as Anti-Papacy.
It was clearly Anti-Roman. Written by a Jew at the time Rome wiped out Jerusalem 69AD. At that time Rome was the NWO, and they conquered the whole mediteranean plus europe as far as germania and britania. But it was not yet Anti-Papacy.
And yet the Archbishops at the Council of Nicea, and St. Augustine presiding over the Council of Carthage 387BC when the 66 books were first canonized. Of course we have perfect copies of the Canon after 387. But we do not have any whole copies before Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sianaticus c. 300BC. Before that we only have scraps of papyri. We do not have originals of anything in the NT. There is no telling how they were changed and adapted by the bishops at Nicea. There were even written orders preserved to Roman Generals to collect and burn all books across the empire.
The Romans would put together the Book that would combine the religions of Europe, Old Testament Judaism, The mystery religions, The writings of Paul, and retain Greek Neo-Platonism as official Theology. All other religious sects were killed. And when you have the power of the Roman Army it was easily carried out. They established their book as Orthodoxy. Everyone else was a "heretic" and persecuted.
That lasted for about 1000 years where the Catholic Church had complete power over Europe. And really they still control most of the world. I always say "Rome Never Fell"...it just became the Catholic Church.
But anyway, they established their official canon and orthodoxy that would dominate Europe, even after the Protestants broke away. Protestants use the same official Roman Canon. It's the "same Jesus" they worship. The both believe in a Trinity.
Do you not see the political motive they had to edit a final version, an offical canon of the religious literature of the mediteranean? In fact the Romans had practice with the idea of a Book uniting a people. Ceasar Augustus paid the Roman poet Virgil to write the Aenead, which was a book meant to unite the Roman people, that told them their history, and described the ideal Roman Aeneas. Romans built shrines to the Aenead, and read it for devination. It was a single book that united the Roman empire...pre Roman Papacy Christian era. Then the Romans became Christians, and united their empire with a singe book, the Bible.
And so they decided what books would be in it. And they decide to keep Revelation...which was clearly Anti-Roman. I think it is because it describes the end of "history". And also I think they meant to show that the Romans were no longer in charge...God was in charge...by means of the Papacy. So they kept it in their Canon. But it was a big debate at Nicea.
And the Catholic Church took charge. They conquered all of Europe, South American, Latin America, and even Europe and America sans the Protestants. They are the NWO.
What Romans insisted on was a "bodily Christ". All sorts of mystery religions, like the gnostic christians, believed in a "spiritual christ"...literally a "spirit" that enters into you and "inspires" you. That is the experience of being "born again"...when you are "inspired" by the spirit of "Christ". But the Romans insisted the Christ was a historical person in "history"
Now once you insist that the ancient Hebrew creator god YHWH cannot possibly be God, and emlimate this god as a Candidate for a "good God"...Yahweh did, according to their own writings kill innocent children. What do we have left as a candidate for "God"?
We have to ask ourselves "What is God?" and "What is A god?" God is the God of "monotheism". It is the God that explains all Being.
What is A god? At one point in our culture, which really begins in ancient Greece for us Europeans, we were polytheistic. They understood that there were "kinds" of Beings. They had the Olympian gods. They had Apollo, Athena, Hermes, Ares, Aphrodite, Eros, Hephestus.
It was not until Plato that Classical Greece becomes "monotheistic". But then Plato and Greek Polytheism coexisted until the Roman Era when the Romans appropriated the Greek Gods and gave them Roman names. However Platonism eventually took over, and still exists as offical Catholic Theology.
But we still retains a sense of polytheism, because we have the gods Jesus and Satan.
Let me explain, maybe the best way to explain is what it meant to be an Olympian god. The best way to explain may be cite Homer in the Odyssey. The first four books are called the "Telemechoi" because they are about Telemechus the son of Odysseus. Odyssues was king and so Telemechus was a young boy who watched the "suitors" court the queen, his mother, because his father Odysseus had been gone for so long, 10 years, that he was most likely dead.
Then Athena comes in the form of Mentes, an old trusted friend of Telemechus' father Odysseus, and visits Telemechus. Athena represented Wisdom to the Greeks. She was the god of Cleverness, and Wisdom. Homer says that Odysseus was most like Athena, and very clever, and could adapt from world to world.
And so after speaking with Mentes he is inspired to go find his father. He had become a "man" and decided to call together everyone in his father kingdom and summon a search party to go find his father, and king, Odysseus. He makes a speach that rallies the greeks, and some of the greek men say "Where have you learned this high and noble manner. You speak as though inspired by a god" And a wise man says "perhaps he was inspired by a god, or perhaps it is his own heart, who can tell?"
Athena had inspired Telemechus to go from being a boy to being a man. You could say he went from the world of boyhood to the world of manhood. He had adapted to his new world, he had matured.
The Greeks had the idea that "the gods" were responsible for anyting you could not do under your own power. So they said things like "and the gods put sleep on them" because you can't just decide to go to sleep by your own power like flipping a light switch.
And you cannot just decide to go from boyhood to manhood. It happens in a "moment" of transformation.
Now Jesus is also a god of transformation. You also "experience" Jesus in a moment of transformation called being "born again" according to John 3. And the person who is "inspired" by Jesus is inspired to ACT like Jesus.
If you were inspired by Apollo you were inspired to rational thinking and science. If you were inspired by Ares you were inspired to fight in war. If you were inspired by Eros you were inspired by Love. If you were inspired by Hepehstus you were inspired to make Art.
These were also "ways of life" or "kinds of beings". The Apollo way of life would be a way of life devoted to thinking and science, even medicine. The Ares way of life was the life of a soldier. The Aphrodite way of life was the Domestic way of life. The Hephestus way of life is the artist's way of life.
And also each god was associated with a "mood". Apollo was the rational mood. Ares was the war mood. Eros was love, etc. So if eros came over you and inpired you, you experienced it as a loving mood.
And one things about moods, you just can't change them yourself, as rational choice. So when a "god" comes over you, you experience it as a "mood change", and you cannot do it yourself, a god must be present.
So now I think we have all the pieces put together to expain the Christian god Jesus.
Jesus is a "way of life", a "way of acting". The question is what is that "way of acting"?
What was unique about Jesus among all the gods was that he was on a mission. Not only that, he was on a suicide mission. He was destined to die. And he was determined to die for his cause, to "save humanity", out of love for them.
So to act like Christ is to be inspired to die for your cause. You must love something so much that you are willing to die for it. And in that moment you are transformed. Jesus after all was a martyr, so to be "christ-like", imitatio cristi, is in some sense to be a martyr. You must have a love worth dying for.
That is one way you can be "born again" to be Christ-like. You are "transformed by love".
There is another story about being "saved from sin". Here you experience your mistakes as guilt and you can expunge that guilt by "believing in Jesus" or letting Jesus "come into your heart". Letting Jesus into your heart is exactly like Greek polytheism. Jesus is a god that changed your mood, to one of humility. You might say Jesus is the "god of humlity" because he brings the mood of "humility", something you cannot do yourself.
And by humbling ourselves, and admitting our mistakes, we can "move on", and we "mature". If the greeks had a Jesus it would have been "athena". And you could say that being "saved by Jesus" in this way is a maturation. It is a transformation where one learns from one's past, and goes on to be a more mature person. They have learned from their mistakes and have determined not to repeat them. You go from being the Old Man of Sin to the New Man, according to Paul.
So being "inspired" by Jesus is a Gift. It is being "graced" by the god Jesus. It is not something that you can choose to do yourself rationally. So we are "saved by grace".
This moment could also be said to be the moment where you acquire "faith". In terms of "faith", this moment is "righteousness by faith". You have acquired a new "faith"...wich means a new "cause", or a new "way of life".
So the moment you are inspired to act like Jesus you "become" a Christian. This is also called the "spiritual christ". And the big question is "Why do you need a historical Christ?" If christ can be "understood" this way by experiencing Christ for themselves, a first person, direct experience of Jesus...and it is verified by the way they act...not what they "believe" as in a "historical belief"...but how they act can be the only test. To be a Christian is to ACT like Christ in the story of the gospels.
The gospels need not be historical works to understand them. They follow the same dying god-men myths of death and rebirth, even spiritual cleansing by death and rebirth. The Christian mystery is "Christ in YOU".
Jesus inspired you to do good. And Satan inpires you to do evil. The Bible simply provides a vocabulary fro naming these gods.
So everytime you experience a "tempation" it is Satan calling, showing up in your consciousness, in your mind, "tempting" you.
I am hard core when it comes to Satan. I think being inspired to act Satanically are the ones who are inspred to kill indiscriminately...the violent psychotics.
And I think that to be a "true Christian" you must have a cause, a love worth dying for. That usually shows up as a love for a spouse, a beloved. And Christians also love their children this way, as a good Father would. So you could say Christianity is "Family Values".
All eastern religions teach non-attachment. But Christianity teaches we must love something with such passion as to die for it...to be very attached to something in this life.
But there is a kind of "Christian Nihilism" where nothing in this world matters. You hear this all the time when they say that noting matters but "salvation"...which is imortality in the "afterlife". So what matters is the afterlife...not anything in this life. And the only way to ensure your afterlife is to "believe in Jesus". And so some say there is nothing more important than your belief in Jesus. Not even your spouse or chilren.
Nothing in this world matters. What matters is the next world. That is Nihilism.
This is a terrible way of looking at it, and mostly a fear of death. This is why Religion is often called the "opiate of the masses" or mostly functioning out of fear...in this case fear of death.
The emphasis has to be on THIS LIFE. The simply do not know what happens when we die. And smart people don't take a position on that. I alway say when it comes to death I'm a fatalist. That's a pun. Que sera sera. What will be will be. And I can wait to find out!
And in the meantime, I need to live my life, and accomplish the things that I want to accomplish. I think we should live our lives bringing our "God-given" talents to fruition. Whether we are thinkers, artists, musicians, we discover and develop these talents.
In the meantime, we are living in a time of a NWO taking over...and what are you going to tell your flock? Are you going to tell them to "Do nothing"...that we should just let NWO kill our families and destroy our constitution. That we can rejoice that this is the end of the world. We should not fight the NWO because there is nothing worth fighting for in this world. We should all just await the judgement day when we are finally vindicated and leave this world behind.
Or are you going to tell them to fight? Do you tell them that as Christians we have a duty to the truth, and duty to our families, to fight the NWO?
Which is it going to be? Will it be to "act like christ", inspired even unto martyrdom, to save what we love? Or simply wait it out?
I can't stand the fact that adventist pastors are preaching "there is nothing you can do"...just go along with it..."we're going home!"
This is not acting like Christ!!! This is not even Christian.
So this "spiritual christ" that we experience for ourselves, in a direct, first-person experience called being "born again", inspired to act "christ-like"...is sometimes called the "christ of faith".
In that moment you acquire "faith", which is a devotion to your cause. Faith therefore is not something you acquire through rational delberation, or rational reflection, using "reason".
Faith is an act of the will, not an act of the intellect.
The "Christ of Faith" is sometimes distinguished from the "Christ of History" or the "Jesus of History". That is the "life of Jesus".
Strauss really began the Historicist "quest for the historical Jesus" in a work in the 1830's in Germany called "Das Leben Jesu". Many scholars since then have gathered all the bits and pieces of "evidence", all of the extant primary sources we have relating to that period in history.
As I said, we really don't have any copies from that period 0-30AD. We have a few scraps of Bible writings, and then we finally get a copy of the 4 gospels around 250AD.(these are usually dated by their typescript). Most copies show up around 300-400AD.
We have references of "Jesus" in Tacitus, Seutonius, Pliny the Younger, Josephus (whose authenticity is in question), the Jewish Talmud (whose "Yeshua" was called a "sorceror" and had only five disciples of completely differnt names than the 12 Christian disciples.)
Then we have the four gospels who tell the story of Jesus. Of course, you know Mark is the basis for Matthew and Luke, sometimes called the "synoptic" gospels because they have whole sections copied verbatum from Mark. Mark is the shortest, and oldest, and may be a gnostic, mythical story of a dying god-man.
The book of John was a completely different work, produced later, and in Greek.
So the gospels are usually dated to 69AD - 100AD. Ironically, the next book that shows up is possibly Hebrews and the writings of Paul, possibly before John is written. Hebrews and Pauline scripture are usually dated 50AD.
Paul said in Galations that he went to Jerusalem and taught James his gospel of Christ.
Paul really explained what it meant to be "born again". The Jesus of the gospels says it is necessary but he never really describes what it means to be born again.
Of course, we identify with Jesus in the story, and he dies, is born again, and ascends to a higher place. Christians usually say "he died for you" immediately placing you in the role of the protagonist.
It is a reading of this story that can inspire someone to "follow christ".
However, some people treat the Bible as Historical Science, and the "moment" that they are "born-again" is the moment the "believe in" the Historical Jesus. In this moment, you acquire basically "information". You are "believing" a "historical fact". The moment you believe the fact you are "born again". This is not really changing your "way of life", but simply reasoning your way to the historical "existence" of christ, which is a so-called "fact".
Of course, using scientific methods, reasoning your way from bits of collected evidence, using what is called "inductive reasonging" can never produce certainty. It is logically impossible for induction to be certain. So Christians think "faith" is recognizing that reason cannot lead to "belief" and we need "faith" to "believe". This definition of "faith" is just "belief". It is just "blind faith". It is "believing a fact" even though we can never be certain if this official history found in the Catholic scriptures actually happened!
So they use "faith" to "believe". The "Jesus of History" or the Historical Jesus can never be "known" this way, using reason.
Even if someone accepts these "facts", and "believes" in a "historical Jesus", there is nothing in this information that suggests what to do with this historical "fact". All Christians think they need to do is "believe" in it, which is an act of the intellect. It requires no specific action.
But faith is a new sense of determination and devotion. It is an act of the will. We use our will to act a certain way in the real world. Faith is doing whatever it takes for your newfound cause and new way of life. This is being "inspired" by the "spirit" of Christ and being christ-like.
So the "Christ of Faith" is distinguished from the "Jesus of History". Historicits insist that you have to have the "real" Jesus of History in order to be "inspired" by the spirit of Jesus.
The Gnostics, and "anti-christs" denied that the "bodily christ", the actual Jesus of History, was necessary to understand the proufound myth found in the story, or to be inspired to be christ-like.
It was these "anti-christs" that the "Historians" in Rome battled. The Powers in Rome wanted a unifed "History" for their Christian empire. So of course, they persecuted the gnostic "anti-christs" who "tempted" the pious christian with their heretical doctrines.
It should also be metioned that the offical "History of the Church" was written by Eusebius. Eusebius wrote all the stories about the 12 disciples, their lives, and their martyrdom. Eusebius also wrote a letter to a Bishop from as Jesus himself. If it was really written by Jesus we would have the only work that Jesus ever claimed to write himself. But Eusebius was a liar and a propaganda artist for the Church.
I guess you could say I am making an argument for the "spiritual christ" that we "know" when we experience it for ourselves.. We cannot know anything about the "historical Jesus" with any certainty. It is a historical construct.
This has implications for the fudamentalist, historical, religions of our world today. If we understand that "histories" need not divide us. That it is possible for people to "act like" christ no matter what they "believe" are "historical facts".
For example, imagine a husband who is devoted to his wife and children in another culture, who is being violently repressed, and dies protecting his family. He could be Indian, Pakistani, Burmese, African...eastern or western. Culture doesn't really matter.
When asked about cases like these whether God would judge them unworthy of "heaven" and deny them entrance to "heaven" because they had the wrong beliefs...even though he died for his cause out of love...or if he lived a life with no intentions to harm anyone else...then they say God will judge them according to the "light that has been given them".
Here the "light" is the virtue of courage, or the virtue of kindness. It is not a "belief". So beliefs don't really matter.
Some hardliners do say "to hell with him" and send these virtuous souls to hell...whatever that is...either torture or simply termination of existence. They would terminate these virtuous people. But most Christians do not take this hard line when pressed.
What we no longer need are the Historicist Monotheisms that keep us constantly at war! What si the difference really among these people. They have a different version of history. And they would die for their official history. We need to understand that "official history is written by the victors".
I am trying to save the deep truth of Christianity which is a phenomena anyone can experience. Anyone can be "transformed by love". At least that is the Christian belief. Some say the psychopaths, the violent killers and rapists, are incapable. But it is a Christian belief that even these most violent people can be transformed by "Jesus"...becasue they believe that "Jesus" died to save all of humanity, every single one of us.
Most people are becoming "secular" which means "no church". I do advocate for this new secularims becuase it leaves many of our old divisions behind. I do not think that this new secularism in Europe and North America means "no god", but simply "no church", because most secular people nowadays have a nebulous concept of "god" or some "higher power". But they don't care really to think about it.
And also, this new secularism does not eliminate the "sacred" from our lives. The "sacred" is just what is really, really important to us...like innocence, and justice.
Most secular people are "post-christian" which means they grew up in "christian" homes but never went to church.
In the field of Religious Studies, scholars debate the "transposition thesis" where all former religious functions are being "transposed" into secular functions.
So instead of going to priest for confession we go to psychologists for therapy. Instead of gathering at churches on sundays we gather with our friends at football stadiums and parties.
Also these "agnostics" or "secular" people retain the family values they were taught. So most secular people still have families, and loving relationships with their spouses and children.They protect the innocence of their children until the appropriate age of adulthood. They still value law and order and civic justice. These things are still very important so they are the "sacred" things this newly transposed secular, post-christian world.
Religions no longer seperate us. Secular people see through the organized relgions that divide us and produce religious wars.
And yet we can still recognize the "spirit of Jesus' or someone who acts Christ-like. Who is inspired to act like Christ.
The bible simply provides a "vocabulary" for these "spiritual forces". The "spiritual" is the same as the "psychological". When we experience some kind of "spirit" like "Jesus" or "Satan" we experience it as a psychological phenomena.
Relgion was psychology before psychology. Religion provided the terminology for describing all sorts of psychological phenomean. The bible gives us the names "Jesus" or "Christ" and "Satan" as the two psychological phenomena that we can experience.
But we now have the Academic field of Psychology, and we now have secular, or clinical, names for these kinds of experiences. We say that being "born again" is a "catharsis", a powerful emotional experience, and an "epiphany" when we get our new "light".
So we have competing vocabularies. There are pros and cons to using the language of "the gods" to describe psychological experience, and using the language of clinical, secular psychology.
Either way it is what you DO that matters. I am an existentialist. The existentialist credo is "You are what you DO"...not what you "believe". What matters is if you have the right experiences to be called christian (Jesus did say it came down to an experience of being born-again). What matters if if you call yourself "Christian" you ACT like a Christian.
It really solves the age-old problem SDA's have of unchristianly people in their churches. They simpoly are not christians. Many so-called Christians, who have the right "beliefs", are not Christians at all.
Now when people do have born again experiences the Church immediately steps in and says what you experienced was Jesus. And he wants you to go to church. The action associated with the born again experience is church-going. They say that was "Jesus" and give you the word to describe it.
Other cultures would call it different things. In Homeric greece it would have been "athena". They did not think "athena" was a "real person". Athena needed human beings like Odysseus and Telemechus to "show up" in the real world. You could say with no human beings there would be no gods. Gods need human beings to act through.
And in the Christian world, Jesus acts through the human beings who are inspired to act like him. It happens in a moment of transformation. And so too, in a Christian world, where the only two gods, or the only two "way of life" are "Jesus" and "Satan"...you can only act like Jesus or Satan, you are either good or evil.
I think the real christians are the ones who act like Jesus....and I think the real satanists are the ones who act like Satan.
So the Satanists are the power whores who "rule this earth"...and they are also the ones who would just as soon kill every human than love a human. So they the true Satanists, the real evil ones are the ones who would take innocent life. I take a hard-line position on that. Everything else is gradations of "evil"...and not that bad, mistakes we can learn from, not "sins" that would require a death-sentence.
It is often said that Bible believing Christians see evertying in terms of these two gods. So from a Hermeneutic perspective of interpreting their experience they only give these two words to describe psychological phenomena or everthhing they experience. Everything they experience is either "Jesus" or "Christ" impinging on them, or it is "Satan" tempting them, impinging on their psyche.
They also see the whole world in terms of forces of good and the forces of evil. Hermeneutically they describe the whole world in terms of the gods Jesus and Satan. So of course it looks like these two things are all around you.
This really a poltheistic understanding of the Christian "gods".
There is a whole other story to be told about the Monotheist "God" which is also Aristotle's Prime Mover, and responsible for all Being. This would translate to "God the Father" of the Trinity in Christianity, YHWH in mystical Judaism, and Allah in mystical Islam known as Sufism.
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