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Old 10-04-2001, 11:04 AM   #11
Metacrock
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[quote]Originally posted by Bookman:
[QB]Since I've got a moment (I'm on lunch), I'll give this a whirl...

I read the link you provided (okay, I admit I skimmed some of it), and have copied a passage from it below:



A good bit of your post seems to have been motivated by SingleDad's observation that because we are forced to interpret the bible and "pick and choose", so to speak, the parts that speak to us in the way the passage above alludes to, the bible then becomes secondary to personal revelation. That does not seem to be far afield from what the above says, at least to me. In fact the passage above seems to be asserting that the burden of proof of efficacy lies with Christianity, not the default position of atheism. [/b][/font]


Meta => I dont' see where you get that. what the statment clealry implies is that the efficacy is not to be decided, for the most part, on matters such as historicl accuracy but on the grounds of what happens in your life as a result of reading the text. And that can only be decided in terms of the indiviudal. So it's just not a matter of "efficacy" in the sense of the sort of historical/scientific validity upon which most skeptics usually challenge it.

Quote:
Most of us feel that we are fully capable of living moral, meaningful lives without having to resort to the bible to open us up to the grace of the christian god.

Meta => That fails to address the nature of the human problematic. If that were true, at least in absolute terms, there would be no problematic. The fact that this problematic, the human conditions, is reflected in most literature and art, and constatly alluded to in one way or another, addressed by major philosphical currents in the West and by every major world religion argues that this is obviously not the case. Atheists can be moral, at least when they aren't posting on message boards ;-) but no one is moral all the time and no one has the abliity to understand moral resolutions with no ambiguities. And I'm not convenched that atheists can even be moral without coasting of the memories of Christian past in the culture.

Quote:
Interestingly enough, my mother-in-law, a Methodist minister agrees. We discuss the church, scripture, and so on from time to time and she once said to me once that I act with more grace than most Christians do. I appreciated the compliment, but I have no way of knowing if it's actually true or not.
MEta=> Ask her where she got ordained? I went to Perkins school of Theology (the Flagship of the Methodist fleet). Class of 90.

Quote:
Finally, you are certainly aware that the great majority of posters here aren't posting Biblical contradictions as evidence that christianity as a whole is wrong, misguided, or what-have-you. The great majority of posts about biblical errors, at least in my estimation, are posted in response to the specific claim of inerrancy, which as you know, many misguided people still make.

MEta => i can't believe that that is true here. Because I happen to know the other Christians pretty well by now, and mostof them, even the dreaded Nomad, are not fundies and do not taut inerrency, at least not in an absolute sense.
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Old 10-04-2001, 11:17 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by Metacrock:
<STRONG>That fails to address the nature of the human problematic. If that were true, at least in absolute terms, there would be no problematic. The fact that this problematic, the human conditions, is reflected in most literature and art, and constatly alluded to in one way or another, addressed by major philosphical currents in the West and by every major world religion argues that this is obviously not the case. Atheists can be moral, at least when they aren't posting on message boards ;-) but no one is moral all the time and no one has the abliity to understand moral resolutions with no ambiguities. And I'm not convenched that atheists can even be moral without coasting of the memories of Christian past in the culture.</STRONG>
Very well. We'll have to part company on that, I suppose. I'm comfortable with the notion that our opinions on the matter are different.

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<STRONG>Ask her where she got ordained? I went to Perkins school of Theology (the Flagship of the Methodist fleet). Class of 90.</STRONG>
Vanderbilt Divinity. Don't know what year.

Quote:
<STRONG>I can't believe that that is true here. Because I happen to know the other Christians pretty well by now, and mostof them, even the dreaded Nomad, are not fundies and do not taut inerrency, at least not in an absolute sense.</STRONG>
Claimants of inerrancy are in the minority everywhere, even these boards. On that we are agreed.

Bear in mind, though, that Nomad posts frequently on the value of the NT as an historical account of Jesus life; it seems to me that demonstrations of errancy in the NT have applicability to this claim without resorting to the kinds of all-or-nothing arguments you reference in the OP.

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Old 10-04-2001, 11:35 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by Metacrock:
<STRONG>
Well its not all gravy you know. It's also the same tradition that gave us hospitals, modern scinece, bill of rights, Writ of habius corups {that's habeus corpus}, the basic concept of constitutional rights in general, the first abolution {I assume abolition?} group in America, the first woman's sufferage group in America, the underground rail road, the abolition movement in England, statistical problablity, {probability}, internal evidence as a criterion for the validity of a text, and a hot {host} of other good things that made Western civilization.</STRONG>
Meta, you have a way with words. But you seriously need someone to edit your stuff. You're supposed to be a graduate student?

Do you think that the involvement of a few Christians in the abolition movement or the suffrage movement makes up for the centuries of justification for slavery and the subjugation of women?

Christianity gave us hospitals when it controlled society, but they were pretty dismal places until modern non-theistic science made medicine more of a help than a hindrance. Most of the rest of what you cite came from non-Christian sources, or Christians in the process of throwing off their tradition thinking. I think this has been debated before, so I will not go through things again.

Quote:
<STRONG>
Toto: Why should I look to this tradition rather than, say, Zen Buddhism, if I wanted to experience god?

Meta: Zen doesn't claim to offer Grace. Also, Zen and Chrisitanity are not anti-thetical. A Christian can practice zen. All it claims to give you is the Buddah {Buddha} mind. Christianity gives the Mind of Christ. There may be a connection.
</STRONG>
I've heard of Christians who turn to Zen to learn meditation techniques. I've never heard of a Zen practitioner who felt the need to turn to Christianity for anything.

Quote:
<STRONG>
Toto: Face it. Christianity, as opposed to other religions, depends on belief the literal truth of certain historic facts. Those facts look pretty unlikely to a skeptical observer.

Meta: Why are you so stuborn {stubborn}? You don't even know what your talking about and your still insiting {insisting} that you have to be right! What you just said there is only the case for one segment of the chruch {church}. The exclucivity {exclusivity} thing is anti-ethical {antithetical ???} to the Bible itself. see Romans 2. Acts 17.

No where (Nowhere} does the Bible say that all the historical infomation as {information has} to be accurate. In fact the Bible doesn't even say that it is the Bible.</STRONG>
Are you saying that a Christian does not have to believe in the virgin birth or the resurrection of Christ? Could we get you to debate Nomad on that issue?

For myself, I'm not going to spend much more time on your posts. It really doesn't advance things for you to label arguments as "silly" or say I don't know what I'm talking about, without giving either some references or facts or reasonable argument. In fact, it just makes me more stubborn.
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Old 10-04-2001, 03:03 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Metacrock:

The things in which the text must be trustwrothy are:

1) Doctrinal statments

2) the bestowal of Grace

3) history only when it pertians to major doctrinal issues, such as the res.
Wheather or not David had the idea to number or wheather satan inspired him to number the children is minutia.
Because my name has come up in the discussion, I thought it might help to clarify my own position visa vie Meta's.

For starters, I think understanding Meta's statement above is crucial when examining the Bible. He and I may disagree on the historicity of a great many events (especially from the OT), but in essential matters of doctrinal faith we agree. Thus, he accepts the historicity of the virgin birth, the resurrection, the establishment of the Church as the Body of Christ, the Trinity, the need for baptism and repentance and all of the other essentials. In other words, we both agree that the Nicene Creed is true, and supported by the Bible and Church tradition.

As to the rest of our disagreements, such as they are, they may be interesting, and some may even be more hotly contested than others. But at the end of the day, they are not matters of central contention, so we are free to disagree. What neither of us would ever imagine doing, is tossing out the baby with the bath water. Even if Meta were right about the non-historicity of many events in the Bible (heaven forbid! ), it would not cause me to lose my faith. My guess is that the same would hold true for him if he were to learn that I was right (zute allors!!! ) I don't mind engaging in the arguments, but I recognize the difference between his views and my own, and even between my views and that of a great many sceptics, is not really all that important when all is said and done.

Quote:
The proof the bestowal of Grace is in the pooding. If Grace is bestowed than it bestows Grace. So the only proof of that is if one experinces it. Since I have I believe it is real.
This is very close to my own belief. I have come to accept that the existence of an omnipotent Creator God is something that can ONLY be known by experience. God is not a fact waiting to be discovered, but rather, a being perfectly capable of revealing Himself to His creatures as He sees fit. Contained within this assumption, and clearly reflected in a great deal of Scripture (both Old and New Testament) is the idea that God can, and does, also hide Himself from those that have no desire to see Him.

Given His nature, this is entirely consistent. As with any other being, He can reveal as much (or as little) of Himself as He so choses. To me I am eternally grateful that He would elect to reveal Himself to us at all. After all, He was never under any obligation to do this, any more than I am obligated to share or reveal myself and thoughts to others.

As one final offer of evidence that the Church has taken the view that the Bible need not always be literally true, one need look only at the research of great scholars like Raymond Brown and J.P. Meier, both of whom received the Church's blessings in their works, even as they cast great doubt on the literal historicity of much of the Bible. As I have stated elsewhere, and on numerous occassions, I think the rules established and followed by St. Augustine some 1600 years ago (see On Christian Doctrine) are far better and more useful than those given to us by 19th and 20th Century (largely American) fundamentalists. One of the most consise and simplist summations of this method of Biblical interpretation and how it has functioned for Christians throughout the ages can be found at the Orthodox Church of America: The Word web site:

It is the faith of the Orthodox Church that the Bible, as the divinely-inspired Word of God in the words of men, contains no formal errors or inner contradictions concerning the relationship between God and the world. There may be incidental inaccuracies of a non-essential character in the Bible. But the eternal spiritual and doctrinal message of God, presented in the Bible in many different ways, remains perfectly consistent, authentic, and true.

I agree fully with this, as does Meta. Does this mean real differences do not exist? Of course not. But we must remember that even Paul warned us that [F]or now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. (1 Corinthians 13:12). Neither I nor anyone else needs to a perfect understanding of either God, or the Bible in order to be saved by Him. In fact, such a thing as perfection on my part is impossible in this life. But I can and do trust in the One who made me, and it is in this trust and faith that I will accept that God will give to each of us as much of Him as we are able and willing to accept.

Thank you Meta. Your post and ideas are very welcome here, and I hope that they give a greater understanding of what it means to be a Christian, and to accept the Word of God as being true.

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Old 10-04-2001, 03:24 PM   #15
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It is the faith of the Orthodox Church that the Bible, as the divinely-inspired Word of God in the words of men, contains no formal errors or inner contradictions concerning the relationship between God and the world. There may be incidental inaccuracies of a non-essential character in the Bible. But the eternal spiritual and doctrinal message of God, presented in the Bible in many different ways, remains perfectly consistent, authentic, and true.

This certainly rings in the ears, but a careful reading shows that it means nothing at all. It still gives us no way to tell which commandments, events and doctrinal notices constitute the eternal doctrinal message of god. For example, should women remain silent in Church? Should believers not associate with nonbelievers? Did Jesus really walk on water, or can we dismiss that, as even many Christian scholars do?

"Grace" is simply a term for an arbitrary and subjective preference. Do you have another method for knowing what is the real message of god, and what we can blow off?

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Old 10-04-2001, 03:31 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by turtonm:

It still gives us no way to tell which commandments, events and doctrinal notices constitute the eternal doctrinal message of god.
This is why I referenced Augustine's work, as the statement from the Orthodox Church was clearly simply a summary of what such an hermeneutic means. If you would like a more in depth discussion of what is acceptable, and what is not, then I am sure that Meta or I would be more than happy to help you.

Quote:
For example, should women remain silent in Church? Should believers not associate with nonbelievers? Did Jesus really walk on water, or can we dismiss that, as even many Christian scholars do?
Christians can and do dispute on these points, and that was the point of both my post, and Meta's. No one is required to hold one view only on ANY of the things you have listed above. The statement from the Orthodox Church (and from Augustine for that matter) says the same thing. Your questions are not matters of essentials.

Quote:
"Grace" is simply a term for an arbitrary and subjective preference. Do you have another method for knowing what is the real message of god, and what we can blow off?
If you mean by your question, can we know God until He reveals Himself to us by His grace, I do not believe so.

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Old 10-04-2001, 03:32 PM   #17
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Meta,

You imply that the transition from "all" (total literal acceptance of the Bible) to "nothing" (total rejection, including symbolic tenets) is an immediate process, a passage from black to white. Well, maybe this is the case with some people, but I can say at least for me that it was a passage upon a greyscale.

First, I disbelieved in the literal truth of the Bible, but I still believed it might have symbolic merit, in its timeless, non-literal, metaphorical guidelines.

Second, I said to myself, I don't know what to interpret symbolically, it seems like something everyone does his own idiosyncratic way, but at least the Bible has theological truth. I don't have to believe it literally, but what it says about God is true.

Third and finally, I pondered upon theology too, and it dawned upon me that the Bible is no more theologically true than it is literally true. In other words, the Bible teaches a false, unreal god as much as it teaches false natural features.


That the earth is round, that it revolves round the sun and that we were created through millions of years of evolution - both of us believe. But I take this one step further than you, Meta: I don't take as true what the Bible says about God either. The Bible talks about an all-controlling, omnipotent, omniscient and, more importantly just, kind, merciful and benevolent deity. Now, upon looking at the natural Universe, upon looking at the fates of all creatures, which run nonsystematically without regard to their planning or deeds or beliefs or lifestyles, I conclude that the God which the Bible describes does not exist. Therefore, the Bible is relegated to the same level of recreational mythology like the Homeric epics and the Mayan legends.


You see, it wasn't an immediate all-to-nothing transition, it was a slow, graded process of reasoning. And I think many atheists make such a process, and not this caricature shift which you're suggesting.

(edited for fixing UBB tags)

[ October 04, 2001: Message edited by: devnet ]
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Old 10-04-2001, 08:16 PM   #18
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This is why I referenced Augustine's work, as the statement from the Orthodox Church was clearly simply a summary of what such an hermeneutic means. If you would like a more in depth discussion of what is acceptable, and what is not, then I am sure that Meta or I would be more than happy to help you.

I've been asking for some way to tell, and so far no response, other than to refer to internal and subjective criteria, which is no help at all. Is there any objective method of finding out?

quote:
Christians can and do dispute on these points, and that was the point of both my post, and Meta's. No one is required to hold one view only on ANY of the things you have listed above. The statement from the Orthodox Church (and from Augustine for that matter) says the same thing. Your questions are not matters of essentials.

Christians also dispute on essentials, like how jesus and god relate. Is there another way besides swordpoint to settle the question? Also, the fact that they are not essentials does not eliminate the problem of finding out which things god meant and which things he just said for the heck of it.

If you mean by your question, can we know God until He reveals Himself to us by His grace, I do not believe so.

Since grace is necessary, why bother with a book? And since grace reveals contradictory messages for all who speak for your god, which ones should us outsiders listen to?

Michael
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Old 10-04-2001, 09:06 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by turtonm:

Nomad: This is why I referenced Augustine's work, as the statement from the Orthodox Church was clearly simply a summary of what such an hermeneutic means. If you would like a more in depth discussion of what is acceptable, and what is not, then I am sure that Meta or I would be more than happy to help you.

Michael: I've been asking for some way to tell, and so far no response, other than to refer to internal and subjective criteria, which is no help at all. Is there any objective method of finding out?
How do you decide that your own assumptions are sound? At the end of the day we must make foundational, a priori assumptions about how we acquire and understand anything. In a universe created by a single being, it is fully rational to assume that the initiative for knowledge about Him, who He is, and what He wants from us will from Him to us.

For Christians, our way of knowing what God is, wants, and thinks, is transmitted to us by way of the Bible, the Church (both acting as agents of the Holy Spirit), and personal revelation. Is this objective? I suppose that depends on how you look at it. To me it is completely objective, but only way we can have objective facts is if God exists at all. Otherwise, none of us can prove that we actually KNOW anything.

Quote:
Nomad: Christians can and do dispute on these points, and that was the point of both my post, and Meta's. No one is required to hold one view only on ANY of the things you have listed above. The statement from the Orthodox Church (and from Augustine for that matter) says the same thing. Your questions are not matters of essentials.

Michael: Christians also dispute on essentials, like how jesus and god relate.
No, we do not dispute these things, unless you are willing to define heretical Christians as being Christians. As this can easily become a semantics debate, I will confine my definition to what is called "orthodoxy" as defined by the Creeds, the oldest meaningful definition of Christian available to us.

Quote:
Also, the fact that they are not essentials does not eliminate the problem of finding out which things god meant and which things he just said for the heck of it.
Since God never says anything without having His own reasons, it becomes incumbent upon His creatures to seek to best understand what He has told us. At the same time, we are finite, and He is infinite. We will make mistakes in what we know and understand. Fortunately, God will not judge us for these honest errors, but, rather, for our faith in Him.

Quote:
Nomad: If you mean by your question, can we know God until He reveals Himself to us by His grace, I do not believe so.

Michael: Since grace is necessary, why bother with a book?
The Bible is a part of that grace. ALL things that God gives to us is by grace, up to, and including, our lives.

Quote:
And since grace reveals contradictory messages for all who speak for your god, which ones should us outsiders listen to?
As a fallen and rebellious race, it is axiomatic that many of us will not wish to accept God's grace, nor to understand what He wants for us. And for some, they will know what He wants, yet refuse to do it. God knew this when He created us, and created us anyway. Personally, I am glad that He did, as His only other choices would have been to create automotons, or not to create at all.

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Old 10-04-2001, 09:09 PM   #20
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Toto:

Point of Information: Metacrock is dyslexic.

This is a point of information and not an attack.

I do not recall where I got this information. It might have been from reading other of Meta's posts, or from private email exchanges between us.

For those of us who are not dyslexic, perhaps we cannot imagine what difficulties dyslexics have to deal with.

We can, however, note that even our own writings often contain confusions for which we need spell-checkers and grammar-checkers and therefore we can give Meta a measure of acceptance and patience for reading carefully what he writes in order to understand what he means, and we can give him credit for dealing with a condition we have trouble understanding but certainly would not want to have.

I appreciate Meta's passion and concern.

His writings and ideas prompt me to think, therefore I appreciate his presence.
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