PDA

View Full Version : Cult/Creed/Ideology Poll:


Kurgan
04-03-2000, 02:34 PM
Just for fun, and since we can't ever let the philosophical discussions die on this forum, I decided to take a poll of the members of these forums.

Question: What religion do you consider yourself a member of, or what creed, cult or ideology do you most closely identify yourself with? (if you consider yourself a Secular Humanist/FreeThinker/Atheist/Agnostic I'm still interested in hearing your answer)

Now without getting into any deep arguments (right away at least), or anything of that sort, or any judgements, I would simply like people, in a sentence or two (at most) to describe their category. I'm just curious as to what people here think about their own beliefs or ideals.

Kurgan

[This message has been edited by Kurgan (edited April 03, 2000).]

Ikhnaton
04-03-2000, 03:33 PM
Roman Catholic http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/biggrin.gif

Vagabond
04-03-2000, 03:44 PM
I belong to the Cult of Personality.


------------------
VagabondNomad on the Zone...

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players...

Conor
04-03-2000, 04:21 PM
Roman Catholic http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/smile.gif

------------------
"Preach the Gospel. If necessary, use words."
-St. Francis of Assisi

theahnfahn
04-03-2000, 05:10 PM
My decision will come shortly, with (believe it or not) an actual explanation. Until that time, may I add to this discussion Kurgan?

Who has kept the classification they grew up with? Who has followed in the steps their parents took/take? Who does more than follow behind and believe in their classification, but actually LIVES it? And foremost, why do you believe it, why would/do you live your life in that classification? I think it is fair to say all of these questions must be answered before you can call yourself a believer.

------------------
And there he is. The reigning champion of the Boonta Classic, and the crowd favorite-TheAhnFahn

Vagabond
04-03-2000, 05:13 PM
Let me provide this small bit of advice to any would-be posters to this thread:


Less is More


Heed these words, please. I implore you.



------------------
VagabondNomad on the Zone...

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players...

Ikhnaton
04-03-2000, 05:29 PM
Catholic from the cradle

still Catholic by choice.

theahnfahn
04-03-2000, 05:44 PM
Vagabond:
"Less is more - Heed these words, please. I implore you."

I am not here to press my beliefs, if your statement was made to degrade my character. Kurgan was asking what classification we all go by, and I want to know the WHAT and WHY of that classification so that I too may make a choice not on what I believe but what my beliefs fit under. I admit I am ignorant when it comes to religious doctrine and creed. I can't tell the difference between Roman Catholics, Christians, Christian Scientists, etc., and is it a crime for me to pursue this knowledge? I won't post in this topic again, just so you can feel comfortable that my opinion won't ever be presented. But I still would like my questions answered, if you don't mind.

------------------
And there he is. The reigning champion of the Boonta Classic, and the crowd favorite-TheAhnFahn

Vagabond
04-03-2000, 06:19 PM
TAF,


...if your statement was made to degrade my character...


Not at all, man, chill. All I was doing was attempting to persuade you to not write the next revision of the Encyclopedia Brittanica in your response. Hence my statement "less is more". But hey if you must, knock yourself out. It's a free world/country.

By the way, you heard any good jokes lately?



------------------
VagabondNomad on the Zone...

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players...

theahnfahn
04-03-2000, 06:35 PM
Deal, I'll put my response, when it is ready, in another thread.

Ok, hopefully everyone can take this with a smile http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/smile.gif

A man who smelled like a distillery flopped on a subway seat next to a priest.
The man's tie was stained, his face was plastered with red lipstick, and a half empty bottle of gin was sticking out of his torn coat pocket.

He opened his newspaper and began reading.

After a few minutes the disheveled guy turned to the priest and asked, "Say, Father, what causes arthritis?"

"Mister, it's caused by loose living, being with cheap, wicked women, too much alcohol and a contempt for your fellow man."

"Well, I'll be damned," the drunk muttered, returning to his paper.

The priest, thinking about what he had said, nudged the man and apologized.

"I'm very sorry. I didn't mean to come on so strong.

How long have you had arthritis?"

"I don't have it, Father. I was just reading here that the Pope does."

------------------
And there he is. The reigning champion of the Boonta Classic, and the crowd favorite-TheAhnFahn

Vagabond
04-03-2000, 06:43 PM
LOL! That's a good one. You should post that in the Joke thread that I made. Hehe.


------------------
VagabondNomad on the Zone...

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players...

lightbulba
04-03-2000, 09:41 PM
money ain't the only root of evil...

atheist, friend.
------------------
http://www.starwars.com/snapshot/1999/20/img/merchant_sm.jpg
...unless there's a religion that worships caffeine, technology, and obscure music. oh, i'm a geek.

[This message has been edited by lightbulba (edited April 03, 2000).]

Ikhnaton
04-03-2000, 09:51 PM
why am i not surprised?

actually the root of all evil is pride.

psyduck78
04-04-2000, 01:08 AM
So very true,

.........anyway, that Apocalypse Cult in Uganda was wierd huh? I wonder what the minister said to them?

Here let me put this gasoline on you, so you can slip into the afterlife.

My econ teacher is wierd.
Me?, I have no real true beliefs, but I do hold an interest for biblical stories based upon history.

------------------
Don't be sorry, be yourself.
<font color=black size=1>


[This message has been edited by psyduck78 (edited April 03, 2000).]

Kurgan
04-04-2000, 01:48 AM
The actual quote is "For the love of money is the root of all evils" (1 Timothy 6:10)
my sentimental infidel* friends. ; )

In other words "greed," or you could say selfishness, which ties into pride, is what leads to all of what we call "evil." It's all one.

So anybody else care to contribute?

Roman Catholic.

C'mon you Buddhists, Jews, Taoists, Protestants, Moonies, Confucianists, don't be shy! Spill your guts!

If you want my opinion, TAF, you sound most like an Agnostic (in the generic sense). Not a Freethinker, you're a bit too open-minded (Freethinkers feel free to flame me to heck), but only you know what you really think deep down.

Kurgan

* "unbeliever" (not meant as an insult)

wizzywig
04-04-2000, 05:32 AM
I was raised Protestant. I sifted through the beliefs I was taught, tested them relentlessly, maintained an open mind toward new data, kept some of my old beliefs, ejected others without mercy or a backward glance.

I have continually tried to distill my beliefs to a pure first century Christianity, stripping away overlays of distortion and dead tradition. I try to continually rediscover and practice the living Christianity of Christ.

It is a journey, not a destination.

--wiz

wizzywig
04-04-2000, 05:34 AM
caffeinolatry, lightbulba?

you make me sad

--wiz

theahnfahn
04-04-2000, 05:52 AM
You are very close Kurgan, and thanks for taking interest in me. No, I am not Agnostic, and for good reason. Should I openly admit it is impossible to reach the how and why of our existence, then will I admit to being an Agnostic. I am far from this, and wouldn't spend the hours I do every day reading if I wasn't expecting an answer. Whether atheistic, agnostic, or theistic, I will make my choice when my knowledge of who we are and why we are here is focused to a crystal clear view of the facts and the interpretations thereof. I am closer to a decision than I have ever been in my life, and expect a well-founded post covering everything we have already encountered here in the past few months and everything I have encountered on my own to be presented within the next week and a half (I'm really pushing this, but it may take longer). My decision at that time should represent everything I hold as true, but until that time I would greatly appreciate everyone's thoughts and insight on this matter. A simple term such as "Roman Catholic" doesn't really help me in understanding how and why the universe is here, why we are here. For once there will be no criticism on my part, so everyone please unload it all :O)

------------------
And there he is. The reigning champion of the Boonta Classic, and the crowd favorite-TheAhnFahn

Conor
04-04-2000, 02:34 PM
Well I'm not sure what you'd want me to say about Catholicism. It is my unwavering belief that it is the complete and unchanged way of life Christ founded roughly 2000 years ago. It is that original Christianity Wiz was talking about.

The Church doesn't really concern herself with the specifics of creation or the methods of how man got here. We are required to believe Adam existed and was the first 'ensouled' being, but the Church's main mission lies elsewhere.

Basically, the Catholic Church (and Christianity in general) is God telling us what He wants, the best way to have a relationship with Him.

------------------
"Preach the Gospel. If necessary, use words."
-St. Francis of Assisi

Vagabond
04-04-2000, 03:15 PM
Okay fine, I'll be serious for a momment, but if anyone brings this up later I'll deny it.

I'm agnostic. Why? Because, in my opinion (and I don't want to debate my opinion with anyone), there exists no hard evidence, nor any experiment that can be conducted, which will either prove or disprove the existence of God. Therefore taking either a theistic or atheistic stance takes a leap of faith. A leap of faith I, personally, am not willing to take.


------------------
VagabondNomad on the Zone...

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players...

wizzywig
04-04-2000, 04:28 PM
Conor--

I want to make a point of clarification--not to argue with you but to simply make a clear distinction. You say:


Well I'm not sure what you'd want me to say about Catholicism. It is my unwavering belief that it is the complete and unchanged way of life Christ founded roughly 2000 years ago. It is that original Christianity Wiz was talking about.


I understand the point you are making, relative to your view that Catholicism is original Christianity. I recognize that as your view, I respect it, and I don't wish to argue that point at all. I believe that Christian faith, whether expressed in Catholicism or in some other variant, is true and validated by reason and evidence. In my view, Catholicism is not (to borrow C.S. Lewis' title) the "mere Christianity" of the first century. Rather, I see Catholicism as that original first-century Christianity plus the accretion of 2,000 years of tradition. This is not a criticism of Catholicism, because I do not in principle object to tradition. But that is my observation. I don't believe that the kind of Christianity that was practiced from home to home in the Book of Acts is exactly the same, in its form and rituals, as what is practiced in the Catholic mass today.

That does not invalidate Catholicism in any way. It is not a criticism of Catholicism. It is merely a distinction I felt I ought to make, in view of your statement that Catholicism is "that original Christianity Wiz was talking about." I don't want to seem to be expressing a view that I don't hold.

I think the fact that Christianity comes in so many "flavors" is confusing and frustrating to some. Personally, I think it is a tribute to the creative genius of God that Christianity has proved so adaptable to different times and cultures, taking many different forms from Catholic to Orthodox to Quaker to Presbyterian to Baptist to Pentecostal, yet in all of them the same Jesus is Lord. The rituals and traditions differ, the faith remains universal. A Catholic, an Anglican, or a Lutheran from Europe or America could go to a church service in a thatch-roofed house in a remote village in Africa or an underground house church in China, and would immediately sense a bond of Christian brotherhood, a oneness of faith, that transcends culture and language.

My reason for asserting that I seek a first century brand of Christianity is this: I do not reject tradition per se, since many traditions serve to embody truth and reality. However, I am wary of traditions and rituals that often arise over time which may tend to obscure the purity of an original truth. It is a human tendency for people to take a living truth and embalm it in tradition; Jesus fought that tendency when He went up against the Pharisees. It was the religious establishment of His day that crucified Him. It is something we must continually be on guard against in our own lives, and the way to guard against it, IMHO, is to continually return to the Source of truth for fresh inspiration.

--wiz

Conor
04-04-2000, 10:29 PM
I was pretty sure you hadn't come to the realization that the RCC is the original Christian Church yet. I am certain you will though, just as I am certain Lewis would have if he lived longer.

The early church fathers were Catholic (today's Catholic) in every way. I have seen this verified by many (mostly ex-protestant) scholars. The Dogmas of Christianity remain unchanged in the RCC. It is only some disciplines that have changed, which reflect the times and have no bearing on the eternal Word.

As for the thousands of Christian denominations, I don't think that is a good thing at all. The Bible states very clearly that there should not be any dissentions in Christ's Church (I'll find the verse when I get home). It is the work of men, not God.

------------------
"Preach the Gospel. If necessary, use words."
-St. Francis of Assisi

wizzywig
04-05-2000, 06:25 AM
Conor--

Re:

I was pretty sure you hadn't come to the realization that the RCC is the original Christian Church yet.


Actually, I will not dispute that statement. Viewing all of Christendom as a tree with many branches, the RCC is doubtless the trunk. But to say that the RCC is the trunk does not invalidate any of the branches. The word "catholic" means universal, and I believe that the truly catholic church includes the RCC, the Protestant denominations, the nondenominational Christian communities and house churches, etc.


The early church fathers were Catholic (today's Catholic) in every way.


I will not dispute this either. See how agreeable I am? http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/wink.gif


As for the thousands of Christian denominations, I don't think that is a good thing at all. The Bible states very clearly that there should not be any dissentions in Christ's Church (I'll find the verse when I get home). It is the work of men, not God.


I think there is a subtle distinction here--perhaps even a paradox--that you may be missing. I agree with you that schism and dissension and discord in the church are terrible. But I do not think that diversity in the church is terrible at all. It is beautiful.

Some of the diversity we see today initially arose from schism, yet the old wounds were eventually healed and Christian brothers from different and diverse traditions now come together in unity. There is even growing rapprochement and dialogue between the RCC and Protestant denominations.

There are many places in the New Testament that warn against dissension in the church, such as 2Cor. 12:20: "For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder." Fact is, the early church was filled with problems, and most of the letters of Paul were written to address one problem or another in the church, including the problem of dissension and factions. If the early church had not been so human and problematical at times, the New Testament would only be about half as long as it is!

Look at the story of Paul and Barnabas in Acts. Two Christian brothers, fellow missionaries, had an argument over a young man named John Mark (who is believed to be the author of the Gospel of Mark), because Mark had shown a lack of character and maturity on a previous missionary journey. Paul didn't trust Mark, Barnabas wanted to give him another chance. Paul and Barnabas argued and split up, and Paul took Silas as his missionary companion while Barnabas took Mark.

Now the dissension between Paul and Barnabas is certainly unfortunate. But the result is that Paul went one direction while Barnabas went another, and twice as many new churches were founded. So I believe God, in a paradoxical and profoundly beautiful way, takes our human frailty and mistakes and He manages to weave something grand and good from it for His own purposes.

Clearly, the RCC at the time of the Reformation was a flawed organization. The corruption in the church at that time was real. Equally clearly, Luther and his fellow reformers were flawed individuals. Whatever his flaws, Luther initially tried to reform the church from within, but when it became clear that it would not be possible, he chose the route of schism.

Who should we fault for the breakaway of the Reformation? Both sides share some blame. But the fact is that (like the Paul-Barnabas split) God was able to bring good out of the flawed conditions we human beings created. The schism of the Reformation is a bad thing, I'll grant you, but the resulting diversity is a good thing.

I realize that you may not think it a good thing that there are Christians who are not under the authority of the Vatican. Well, that's as may be. I see the good that is done in the Catholic Church and the good that is done in the Protestant denominations, and I have to believe that God is working out His plan wherever people are faithful to Him.

I don't mind if you disagree with the view I just expressed. I don't even mind if you say I'm wrong (I expect you to think so). I just wanted to better explain my view, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to do so.

--wiz

Kurgan
04-05-2000, 12:54 PM
Well, I tried. So much for that idea! lol

You guys. ; )

I guess Agnosticism is probably the "safest" route for a person to take, that is, a kind of theological fence ride. You don't have to make up your mind, because you CAN'T. I am not trying to diss on anyone who honestly believes in this system. If that's the best system you can come up with, that's your business.

However, for me, I tend to want to resolve things. Granted, in many ways there's a certain arrogance, implying I can find the "truth" that mankind has sought since the very beginning. However, I guess I am not content to simply "let it all go" and admit I have no chance of figuring even a bit of it out. So I try...

As to the "evidence" I suppose a theist and an atheist, based on their own private biases, will interpret the evidence to support their side. I tend to think that the evidence supports a theist more than an atheist position. Without endorsing any particular creed (okay, mabye the acknowledgment of a monocentric deity).

I have heard some atheists argue that "having a god or gods doesn't help you solve the problem of evil" which is them basically saying "if God exists, he isn't just" or "believing in God doesn't make you moral, and you can't trust God himself to be moral, so why bother?" So basically they don't know whether or not God exists, but they insist that if God did, there would be no reason to believe in him, other than out of fear (which, being our egos are what they are) we would be urged to oppose on the basis of some "intellectual stand." Or something like that. I'm still struggling to understand the mindset.

Anyway, I am examining a variety of faiths to see what "truth" if any I can glean from the history, tradition, practice, and example of its believers and teachers.

My personal faith in Christianity (and Catholicism) seems mainly to have been validated by my searches, but also to have been enriched, by the ways in which other faiths have attempted to discern the "hidden truths" (or the Mysteries or whatever you want to call the stuff in life and existence we only dream about).


That is not to say my beliefs are unchangable or unchanging. From day to day I think they change, at least in small ways. The question is, where does it all lead to?

Kurgan

Kurgan
04-05-2000, 12:57 PM
What I mean to say is that, I wish to be right, primarily for the sake of the truth, not for some personal wish-fulfillment.

If I have an obligation to honor a Deity, then I want to uphold that. If an objective morality exists, I want to try to follow it. If there is an afterlife, I need to take that into account in my life.

Kurgan

Conor
04-05-2000, 02:15 PM
I'm sure God did use the reformation and other schisms to bring people to Christianity.

However, the fact that God can bring good out of bad does not mean the bad should not be corrected where possible.

If The RCC is Christ's original Church, it would stand to reason that the dissents should be cleared up eventually and everyone brought back to the fold. Besides, most of the Protestent Churches are in serious error on some things. Luther threw out books of the Old Testament because he didn't like what they said, and most Protestant groups reject the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, which is a pretty central point to Christianity.

------------------
"Preach the Gospel. If necessary, use words."
-St. Francis of Assisi

Vagabond
04-05-2000, 03:58 PM
Grrrrrrrrrr....


------------------
VagabondNomad on the Zone...

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players...

wizzywig
04-05-2000, 04:45 PM
Conor--

You say:

The fact that God can bring good out of bad does not mean the bad should not be corrected where possible.

I agree with that statement, but would apply it differently than you would. The RCC at the time of the Reformation was steeped in corruption, and the Reformation movement was a conscientious attempt to correct the bad. I think the principles you state are correct, but sometimes you miss the larger picture. I see all of Christendom as the church, the catholic (universal) church, whereas you seem to view everything outside the RCC as false or in error. If that is your view, fine, I accept that. But I want you to be aware that we have no disagreement on these principles, just on where we apply them.


If The RCC is Christ's original Church, it would stand to reason that the dissents should be cleared up eventually and everyone brought back to the fold.


To be "original" does not mean to be right in all matters. The original must be continually renewed in order to remain true (and I do see many positive signs of ongoing renewal in the Catholic church today).

The idea that "dissents should be cleared up eventually and everyone brought back to the fold" assumes that the RCC is 100 percent correct and everyone else is in error. If it is the so-called "fold" that is in error, then those outside the "fold" are wise to remain where they are. I know you don't see it that way; I'm just trying to get you to see that there is another point of view (I don't expect you to agree with it).

But perhaps I was too hasty in agreeing that the RCC is "original," at least in the sense you intend it. In an even deeper historical sense, the church of Acts was the only original church--everything after the close of the first century, you might say, was add-on and outgrowth. There were churches planted in remote regions during the first century that never came under RCC authority, did not break off from the RCC, and had just as much claim to be "original" (if not moreso) than the RCC. An example is the Axumite community in Ethiopia (which may have been planted by Phillip when he converted the Ethiopian eunuch in the desert); Axum was a non-RCC Christian community that flourished until the spread of Islam in the 7th century. There are other examples.

If you read through the book of Acts you see that minor "reformations" took place from time to time within the primitive church of Acts because it is simply human nature to stray from the truth and add human error into the mix. The RCC and the Protestant denominations are in continual need of renewal and reformation, because human error continually creeps in. Our tendency is to take a pure relationship with God and turn it into religion, which is manmade. So we must go back to the Source, again and again.


Besides, most of the Protestent Churches are in serious error on some things. Luther threw out books of the Old Testament because he didn't like what they said.


I have already stated that Protestant denominations are imperfect. No human system is perfect. No human being is perfect. I have already said that Luther was flawed; but he acted according to his conscience, taking considerable personal risk in order to reform a corrupt system, and I deeply respect that.


Most Protestant groups reject the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, which is a pretty central point to Christianity.


Transubstantiation is a central point in RCCdom, not in Christianity as a whole. I'm glad you raise that as an example because it is a perfect example of a late accretion to original Christianity. The doctrine of transubstantiation was formulated in the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215. There is no rationale for it in Scripture. It was not a doctrine of the church in Acts, nor is there any reference to it in any of the letters of Paul, Peter, James, etc. To you it is central; to the rest of Christendom, it is a non-issue. The rest of the church practices Communion, but without the 11th century overlay of transubstantiation.

I know how committed you are to Catholic doctrine and I would not attempt to persuade you that you are wrong. I have no argument with you on this matter. I merely point out that there is another viewpoint, and it is based on the validity of Scripture.

--wiz



[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited April 05, 2000).]

wizzywig
04-05-2000, 04:50 PM
Grrrrrrrrrr....


Careful, Vagabond. You can crack your molars doing that... http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/wink.gif

-w

Vagabond
04-05-2000, 06:12 PM
wizzywig,

Although I don't share you faith, allow me to compliment you on your superb response to Conor. You were polite, while presenting your differing point of view, and without delcaring either of you as having a right or wrong belief. Excellent!


------------------
VagabondNomad on the Zone...

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players...

Conor
04-05-2000, 09:08 PM
Well I certainly took it like he is telling me I am wrong. http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/smile.gif I don't mind though.

I certainly don't exclude Protestants or Orthodox from Christianity. All Christians are members of the mystical body of Christ.

It is my belief that the RCC is 100% correct. Members of the Church have taught things that contradict the Church itself, even high-ranking members, but Church Doctrine has not changed no matter how corrupt those in power were. In fact, Christ's true Church must be 100% correct, as He said the gates of hell would never prevail against it. That implies, at least to me, that only one of the Christian denominations can be correct. I think it is also safe to say that one particular denomination must have been static since Christ's founding of it.

I totally agree on the Reformation. The idiocy going on in that time almost invited it.

As for the Real Presence, you are seriously incorrect if you think it isn't supported by the Bible or wasn't believed from the very beginning. I am certain the writings of Scott Hahn would convince you of this. I haven't read as much of his stuff as I would like, but I am sure I can forward you the applicable titles.

------------------
"Preach the Gospel. If necessary, use words."
-St. Francis of Assisi

wizzywig
04-05-2000, 10:06 PM
Thanks, Vagabond--

And Conor--

All Christians are members of the mystical body of Christ.

Thanks for that statement. That's helpful clarification.


In fact, Christ's true Church must be 100% correct, as He said the gates of hell would never prevail against it. That implies, at least to me, that only one of the Christian denominations can be correct.


To me, who's correct and who's not is not even at issue.

On transubstantiation (or the Real Presence)--as you can see, I'm already very familiar with the issue. I do not have time or resources (or intense inclination) to reinvestigate it now. But if you have any arguments to offer or quotes by Hahn, I will certainly read them.

--wiz

Conor
04-06-2000, 04:00 AM
I don't have a lot from Hahn at the moment, but you can look for yourself.
http://members.tripod.com/ka_johnson_chohrach/rhahn.html

These seem to be full transcripts of some of his talks. the Eucharist one works anyway (I've got to do some reading myself).

The early Church Fathers on the Real Presence:

St. Ignatius(110 AD):"[heretics] abstain from Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the Flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ..." Letter to Smyrnaeans 6,2.

St. Justin Martyr (150 AD):"...not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but ... as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nourished, is both the Flesh and Blood of that incarnated Jesus." First Apology 66,20.

St. Irenaeus of Lyons (195 AD): "He [Jesus] has declared the cup, a part of his creation, to be His own Blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, He has established as His own Body, from which He gives increase to our bodies." Against Heresies 5,2,2.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem (350 AD): "He himself, therefore, having declared and said of the Bread, 'This is My Body,' who will dare any longer to doubt? And when He Himself has affirmed and said 'This is My Blood,' who can ever hesitate and say it is not His Blood?" Catechetical Lectures: Mystagogic 4,22,1.

Also Cyril: "Do not, therefore, regard the bread and wine as simply that, for they are, according to the Master's declaration, the Body and Blood of Christ. Even though the senses suggest to you the other, let faith make you firm. Do not judge in this matter by taste, but be fully assured by faith, not doubting that you have been deemed worthy by the Body and Blood of Christ." ibid 4,22,6.

I will do a little reading and try to defend it from a purely bibilical point of view soon, but probably not tonight.



------------------
"Preach the Gospel. If necessary, use words."
-St. Francis of Assisi

Conor
04-06-2000, 04:48 AM
I think I will try.

The following argument is outlined (i.e. telling what to say and in which order) in Beginning Apologetics 1, How to explain and Defend the Catholic Faith by Father Frank Chacon and Jim Burnham. San Juan Catholic Seminars. I basically just said what they said. I also got the quotes of the Church Fathers above from them.

In Jn 4:31-34 the disciples urge Jesus to have something to eat. He says "I have food to eat you do not know about." The disciples ask one another, "Has someone been bringing Him food?". Jesus says, "My food is to do the will of the one who sent me, and to complete his work."

Mt 16:5-12 goes:

The disciples, having crossed to the other shore, had forgotten to take any food. Jesus said to them, "Keep your eyes open, and be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." And they said to themselves, "It is because we have not brought any bread." Jesus knew it, and he said, "Men of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you not yet understand? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand and the number of baskets you collected? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand and the number of baskets you collected? How could you fail to understand that I was not talking about bread? What I said was: Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Then they understood that he was telling them to be on their guard, not against the yeast for making bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

In these two examples Jesus talks about food, and the disciples interpret Him literally. Jesus corrects them that in no uncertain terms He is speaking figuratively.

Now take John 6. In Jn 6:51 it says, "I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world."

In Jn 6:52-56, the Jews interpret Him literally, "Then the Jews started arguing with one another: 'How can this man give us his flesh to eat?' they said. Jesus replied: 'I tell you most solemnly, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have life in you. Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him." This is not the language of symbolism.

In verse 60 the Jews say, "This is intolerable language. how could anyone accept it?" In my first examples Jesus corrected his disciples when they interpreted his words literally when he was speaking figuratively. If He was speaking so in this case he would have corrected those who left Him over this, but He didn't.

NEXT POST...

[This message has been edited by Conor (edited April 06, 2000).]

Conor
04-06-2000, 05:42 AM
CONTINUED...

Many Protestants claim that, in Jn 6:60-70 Jesus claims He was being symbolic. I.e. in verse 63, Jesus says, "It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh has nothing to offer. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life."

What one must realize is that:

1) Jesus' Eucharistic talk ends with verse 58. The next versus talk about faith, not the Eucharist.

2) 'Spirit' is nowhere used in the Bible to mean 'symbolic.' The spiritual is just as real as the material.

3) In verse 63 Jesus is contrasting carnal man, i.e. 'the flesh,' with the 'spiritual' or faith-filled man. 1 Cor 2:14-3:4 offers a good explanation of what is meant by 'the flesh.' Jesus says 'my flesh' when discussing the Eucharist and says 'the flesh when discussing carnal man who will not believe anything beyond his senses and reason. Jesus' flesh is certainly not 'of no avail' as it was the means of our salvation.

4)The unbelievers leave after verse 63. They would not have left Him if He was only speaking symbolically. This is the only recorded time in the NT where any of Jesus' disciples left Him because they found a doctrine of His too hard to accept. Of the twelve Apostles, apparently only Judas rejected the Eucharist (Jn 6:70-71).

Now to other passages in the Bible. Note 1 Cor 11:27, when it says, "whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily sins against the body and blood of the Lord."

In Aramaic to symbolically "eat the flesh" or "drink the blood" of someone meant to persecute and assault him. See Ps 27:2, Isaiah 9:18-20, Isaiah 49:26, Micah 3:3, 2 Sam 23:15-17 and Rev 17:6, 16. So if Jesus was only speaking symbolically in Jn 6 about eating His flesh and drinking His blood, then what He actually meant was "whoever persecutes me and assaults me will have eternal life." This makes the passage nonsense of course.

In all four last supper accounts (Mt 26:26-28, Mk 14:22-24, Lk 22:17-20, 1 Cor 11:23-25) Jesus says plainly that, "This is my body" and "this is my blood." There is no hint of symbolism. Any symbols would have been clearly explained.

Some non-Catholics will insist that we engage in cannibalism and violate the Biblical prohibition of drinking blood. This is the same misunderstanding that led some to reject Jesus when He spoke about the need to eat His body and drink His blood. At the Last Supper, Jesus revealed to them that they would receive His body and blood in the sacrament of Holy Eucharist, not in the bloody cannibalistic way the unbelievers had imagined.

All the early Church Fathers believed in the real presence (see way above http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/smile.gif). Until the Reformation, all Christianity accepted the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist except for a few heresies. Even Martin Luther confirmed it. See below:

"Who, but the devil, hath granted such a license of wrestling the words of the holy Scripture? Who ever read in the Scriptures, that my body is the same as the sign of my body? or, that is is the same as it signifies? What language in the world ever spoke so? It is only then the devil, that imposeth upon us by these fanatical men...Not one of the Fathers, though so numerous, ever spoke as the Sacramentarians: not one of them ever said, It is only bread and wine; or, the body and blood of Christ is not there present. Surely it is not credible not possible, since they often speak, and repeat their sentiments, that they should never (if they thought so) not so much as once, say, or let slip these words: It is bread only; or the body of Christ is not there, especially it being of great importance, that men should not be deceived. Certainly in so many Fathers, and in so many writings, the negative might at least be found in one of them, had they thought the body and blood of Christ were not really present: but they are all of them unanimous." (Luther's Collected Works, Wittenburg Edition, no. 7, p. 391).

Lastly, there are many scientifically verified Eucharistic miracles that confrim the Real Presence. A good suggestion is Joan Cruz's Eucharistic Miracles (Rockford, Ill.: TAN Books, 1988).

------------------
"Preach the Gospel. If necessary, use words."
-St. Francis of Assisi

[This message has been edited by Conor (edited April 06, 2000).]

wizzywig
04-06-2000, 03:40 PM
Thank you, Conor.

Fascinating presentation. I don't find opinions of church fathers in any way persuasive, but the biblical arguments are interesting and well-reasoned, and I'm copying your message into a reference file I keep on religious matters.

This is not to say that I find the biblical arguments persuasive. You make a good reasoned case in support of beliefs you already hold as a result of church authority. But every conclusion you make is an inference from inconclusive and highly ambiguous evidence that, in my mind, is more reasonably understood as metaphor.

Jesus continually spoke in metaphor and images. He told Nicodemus, "You must be born again," prompting Nicodemus to wonder how he could re-enter his mother's womb. He spoke of His body as a temple that would torn down and rebuilt in three days, prompting His hearers to think He referred to the Temple in Jerusalem.

The passage in Luke 22 reads:


19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my
body given for you; do this in remembrance of me."
20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new
covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.


Here, He clearly states the purpose of Communion--it is a remembrance symbolizing His broken body on the cross. The cup is the new covenant, symbolizing His blood--not His literal blood.

Sometimes, when Jesus used difficult metaphors, He corrected people's misimpressions right away, sometimes He allowed the confusion to stand in people's minds, knowing it would become clear after events unfolded. He often spoke cryptically about His upcoming death and resurrection, and people didn't understand what He had meant until after the resurrection.

Conclusion: I really appreciate the work you did to educate me in this regard, and I find it very instructive. I think you have ample biblical support for your belief, but not sufficient to persuade me to change my belief, which concerns a matter that I consider peripheral rather than central to faith. I always approach Communion with a deep sense of respect and gratitude for what Jesus Christ went through for me; I do it, as Jesus said, in remembrance of Him.

And that, I think, is enough.

--wiz

wizzywig
04-06-2000, 03:42 PM
P.S.--

I find that the term "scientifically verified" becomes highly elastic in reference to miracles.


-w

Conor
04-06-2000, 04:24 PM
Scott Hahn deals with the term 'remembrance' somewhere in his writings, maybe on that website.

Either the actual word used or the way it is used means more than simple memory. It means literally a 're-living' of the event. He elaborates on how this is supported in the Bible and how Jesus literally meant us to re-live the Sacrafice at each mass.

As for the Church Fathers not being given as much weight...they were the direct successors of the Apostles, often trained by the Apostles themselves. If they don't know what they are talking about, the Church went off the rails very quickly.

BTW, I don't think the evidence is ambiguous at all, and I think Jesus made it very clear the metaphor route does not apply in this situation. I also think it is very, very important. http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/smile.gif

P.S. If Jesus actually did mean a metaphor and was just waiting for it to become 'clear' He made a mistake. It would only have become 'clear' 1500 years after He founded His Church. I find it impossible to believe Jesus would have deliberately made something fuzzy enough that it fooled everyone for 3/4 of Christian history.

------------------
"Preach the Gospel. If necessary, use words."
-St. Francis of Assisi

[This message has been edited by Conor (edited April 06, 2000).]

Conor
04-06-2000, 04:43 PM
You will probably want to especially look these parts of the site: The Eucharist: Holy Meal, as well as The Fourth Cup: The Sacrament of the Eucharist.

Of course, the rest of the stuff is interesting too.

------------------
"Preach the Gospel. If necessary, use words."
-St. Francis of Assisi

Conor
04-07-2000, 01:02 AM
I have to say something else. I honestly don't think you realize just how important this issue is, wizzywig.

I wasn't entirely accurate before when I said the Eucharist is a central tenet of Catholicism. It would be better to say it is the central, focal point of Catholicism and Christianity. Any and all dissensions to the Real Presence were considered heresies by the Church for 1500 years, and in fact they still are.

The Eucharist is the central point of the Catholic Mass, which is the focus of our Christian life. It is where we come (sometimes once a week, sometimes daily) to go back to what you are so fond of calling 'the source'. The source, ultimately, is not the Bible. The source is Jesus Christ, who makes Himself physically present every day in countless places across the world. It is the eternal sacrifice of the Passover Lamb, which must be eaten. He commands us to do so.

I think that to deny the Eucharist is to miss out on Christianity in a very real way.

------------------
"Preach the Gospel. If necessary, use words."
-St. Francis of Assisi

[This message has been edited by Conor (edited April 06, 2000).]

Conor
04-07-2000, 02:43 AM
I am just trying to impress upon you that I am not simply quibbling over doctrine. It is ever so much more than that. It is the reason the Christian Churches will never be reunited as long as this situation persists.

I hope you understand. http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/smile.gif



------------------
"Preach the Gospel. If necessary, use words."
-St. Francis of Assisi

wizzywig
04-07-2000, 05:18 AM
Conor--

Re:

I have to say something else. I honestly don't think you realize just how important this issue is, wizzywig.


I realized very early on that you do consider this a core issue, and I respect that. That's not just an idle, patronizing statement, like "I hear you." No, I really honestly respect the seriousness of your devotion, and I honor and admire that very much. I absolutely understand that you consider this an extremely crucial issue, and I have read your comments and your evidence very carefully.

Conor, my friend, I sense the genuine concern you have. I do not think you are merely trying to win a debate. No, you are seeking to share your conviction of the truth out of a real sense of Christian friendship. I am really grateful for the time you took not to merely educate me on this subject, but to enlighten me. Thank you.


The source, ultimately, is not the Bible. The source is Jesus Christ, who makes Himself physically present every day in countless places across the world.


The Source: I'm not sure why I used that term in a couple of previous posts. It's not a term I use on a recurring basis, but it just seemed to have the right connotation. Reflecting on it, I realize that what was in my thinking when I referred to the Source was the Word--both the living Word and the written Word, the Logos, by Whom everything was created. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." You are entirely right. He is the Source.

In a very real sense, I'm not sure how far apart we truly are on the Eucharist, or Communion, or the Lord's Supper (as it is variously known). You believe in the Real Presence--that, even though it looks and tastes like a wafer and wine, miraculous transubstantiation has taken place.

When I take Communion, I sense His presence with me in a special way. When I partake of the bread and the cup, I "feed" on Him in a very real way.

I don't want to minimize or blur the difference between your view and mine. I know that what separates us on this issue is more than mere semantics--but perhaps not as much as we might think. I don't know. Just a thought.


I am just trying to impress upon you that I am not simply quibbling over doctrine.


I understand that.

I will say this: I am well aware that I don't have the corner on the truth. I am always open to new input, new data, always seeking to ever more closely align myself to the Reality, to (as TheAhnFahn said in another thread) what IS.

However imperfectly, I'm muddling along and doing my best to follow my Lord. I know I screw it up from time to time. For example, there are times on this forum that I get annoyed with people where Jesus would be patient, I have sometimes blasted where Jesus would have blessed. (For example, I know there are times I've probably been harder on Vagabond than I should have been--sorry, V!)

But for all my imperfection, I also know that His hand is on my life and that He's showing me new things every day. It's an exciting way to live, every new day an adventure of discovery.

You may be right about the centrality of the Eucharist and transubstantiation to Christianity qua Christianity. I don't see it that way, I am not persuaded, but my mind is never closed to new input.

I do know that, however deluded or ignorant or unenlightened I may be about many things, however much I have yet to learn about what IS, I know that God is real, that Jesus is Lord, that life has meaning and purpose, and that He is working out His plan through my life. I know He is doing so through your life, as well, Conor.

Again, thank you for taking the time to share your convictions with me. I genuinely appreciate it.

--wizzywig



[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited April 07, 2000).]

Conor
04-09-2000, 09:49 PM
Thanks for the response.

I am going to read <u>The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth</u> by Scott Hahn (hopefully soon) and I will comment on anything I find relevant.

On a different note, I'm reading a small book by a guy named Thomas Rutkoski called <u>Apostles of the Last Days</u>. It is basically his conversion story (lapsed Catholic to basically nothing and back to Cathlolic) and how the virgin Mary's appearences in Medjugorje in Yugoslavia played a big role in him coming back to Jesus.

The really fascinating thing is he claims Jesus literally talks to him in his head, has conversations with him and guides him. My mother once heard the guy speak and she says he was one of the most amazing people she'd met.

------------------
"If there were not God, there would be no atheists."
-G.K. Chesterton

Vagabond
04-10-2000, 02:39 AM
wiz,


...For example, I know there are times I've probably been harder on Vagabond than I should have been--sorry, V!...


No problem man. I'm a big boy - I can take it http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/wink.gif Thanks anyway though.



------------------
VagabondNomad on the Zone...

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players...

Kurgan
04-10-2000, 05:15 AM
As to transubtation, just look in the Gospels.

Most of those early Church councils were not to FORM NEW DOGMA, but only to clarify what was already believed by the Church.

That is, those things were brought to light because of heresy.. somebody teaching something else that was contrary to the true message, thus it was important that these councils were formed to combat the "false" (as the orthodox believers saw it) teachings.

When Jesus says "this is my body" and "this is my blood" and etc, is he being metaphorical, or is he being literal? And how would you know if he was meaning it only symbolically? Apparently the early Church believed that it was really his body. And numerous sources can be sited (if more are needed) on this point.

I will freely admit, at the time of the Protestant Reformation (unlike earlier reformations), the institutional RCC was having some problems with corruption. Thus, it was only natural that some would speak up about it. The problem is, I think the "Reformers" went about it in the wrong way. Essentially, they only made the problem worse, by further splintering the Church.

We are all working towards a common communion though, or I should say most are (apart from some minority sects that may claim all but their particular church are agents of Satan, destined for eternal fire). Continued dialouge and peaceful discussion and sharing have contributed to better understand, and has helped heal the old wounds, misunderstandings, and grudges that unfortunately arose centuries ago.

Vagabond: don't worry, if this discussion bothers you, back off, nobody is forcing you to participate. No offense, of course. ; )

Nobody is condemning anyone (and if they are going to, they shouldn't), just expressing themselves, and trying to help others see their point of view, which is a step towards understanding. Nothing wrong with civilized discussions, even if it does get a bit heated at times (as long as everyone keeps cool, we can work it out).

Kurgan

wizzywig
04-10-2000, 07:32 AM
Kurgan--

The discussion has been entirely civil. All light, no heat whatsoever.

Interesting, though, that you can't just ask for a simple poll without the thread turning into a philosophical discussion of encyclopedic proportions! http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/smile.gif

See what you started?

--wiz

Vagabond
04-10-2000, 02:11 PM
Kurgan,


...Vagabond: don't worry, if this discussion bothers you, back off, nobody is forcing you to participate. No offense, of course. ; ) ...


Jeez, where'd that come from? My comments in this thread have been very minimal and non-hostile. In any event, I'm sure you know me well enough by now to know that if I don't feel like participating, then I won't http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/wink.gif

How's that DSL working out for you?



------------------
VagabondNomad on the Zone...

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players...

wizzywig
04-10-2000, 08:13 PM
Vagabond--

Kurgan may have been responding to that little parenthetical of mine, above. I was referring to some of our discussions in other threads, not this one.

--wiz

Vagabond
04-10-2000, 08:31 PM
wiz,

Okay. I was wondering what Kurgan's comments were all about. Was wondering if he was referring to my, "Grrrrrrrrrr..." speech.


------------------
VagabondNomad on the Zone...

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players...

Zoom Rabbit
04-13-2000, 08:23 AM
Greetings. I'm ba-ack... http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/wink.gif

Without having read the mass of following debates, I'll answer Kurgan's original question. If forced to label my beliefs and put what is different about my background into words, I would have to call myself a Christian Mystic Samurai.

But that's silly...

<font color=red>Banzai!</font>



------------------
"The entire universe is simply the fractal chaos boundary between intersecting domains of high and low energy."

Conor
04-15-2000, 01:18 AM
Referring to that book by Thomas Rutkoski I mentioned above, here is something Jesus told him to type into the book.

Can't you understand the absolute necessity of the Eucharist in your lives? That it is truly the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ? The miracles surrounding the Eucharist are astounding. Teresa Neuman lived on <u>just the Eucharist</u> for years. It is documented, in several instances, that at Mass when the Priest broke the Eucharist it bled real blood and turned into real flesh. Angels, in apparitions, have presented the Eucharist to seers in Garabandal."

He goes on:

The Lord Jesus Christ has given me a mandate to tell the world that salvation comes from Jesus Christ, through His "bride", His Holy Catholic Church. There are saints whose bodies do not deteriorate as proof of their holiness. This testifies to the truth that the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope is the true Church...

All other churches came from a fight, an argument that brought division. That division, through pride, caused an organization to be be formed that others call a "church". Twenty-two (25 now, this was written in the late 80's/early 90's) thousand different denominations exist! That is impossible because Christ has only one "bride", and His house is not divided. His children are. Those children need to be converted back to the Universal Faith, the Catholic Church, the Church that Jesus Christ started when He said to Peter, "On this rock I will build My church <u>and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.</u>" He, who dares to say the gates of hell have prevailed against the Catholic Church, calls Jesus Christ a liar. It is not that other religions don't have some or even most of the truth; it is just that they don't have all of the truth, the most important truth. Only a Catholic priest has the power to make the Sign of the Cross over bread and wine and change them into the Living Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

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

This guy had an amazing story in his book, how he went from being completely oblivious to religion, to realizing Jesus exists and cares, eventually talking to Him on a regular basis and being led back to the Catholic Church.

------------------
"First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in."
-C.S. Lewis

Kylilin
04-15-2000, 04:40 AM
I beleive in a higher power, I just don't know what yet, whether it be God, or Allah, or Buddah. I am positive in my mind that there is some force greater than us that is responsible for us and the life on our planet, but I am not positive of what that force is.

wizzywig
04-17-2000, 04:15 AM
Conor--

I debated whether or not to comment on your post, because I don't want to get drawn into a long thing. But I take it your post was directed to me, so, without wanting to be argumentative, I want to give you a response.

I am always skeptical whenever anyone, from whatever religious tradition, says something like you say Thomas Rutkoski said, that "Jesus told him to type into the book" some very specific statements. I have friends in the Pentecostal tradition who make similar statements. It is very common for them to cite miracles and say, "God told me such-and-such." Whenever they say that, I always try to find out how God spoke to them so directly, and invariably the answer I get is highly subjective, and related to inner feelings and thoughts which they identify as God's voice. I am convinced it is very easy for people to identify their own thoughts, their own feelings, as God's voice or urging. I see no reason to receive Rutkoski's inner urgings as any sort of objective and authoritative word from God. I cannot really understand how you accept it as such without hesitation--except that it supports what you believe to be true.

Unverified miracles such as the Teresa Neuman anecdote are meaningless to me. I don't accuse anyone of dishonesty. I don't even claim it is untrue. It is simply a tale without support, and thus holds no meaning for me whatsoever. Other similar "miracles" are claimed as "documented." In other words, documents exist which make such claims. Well, many claims are documented; few are scientifically verified. And if they were, so what?

There is a hard core of illogic at the heart of Rutkoski's argument--and yours. It is this: He claims that his inner message, combined with certain alleged miracles, prove that there is only one "true church," the "one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope." That is a non sequitur. The conclusion does not follow logically from the data. If a miracle occurs in my church, it does not logically follow that my church is the only true church and that the church down the street is a false church. I have witnessed what I consider to be bona fide miracles myself; I do not derive from that the conclusion that I am the only true Christian believer and that everyone who does not witness such things is false or fraudulent or second-class.

Like I said, I know people who try to convince me that the Pentecostal church is the one true church, and they do so on the very same basis--an inner voice from God and alleged miracles. My friend, it is not logical for them to make that case, and it is not logical for you to make that case either.

All other churches came from a fight, an argument that brought division. That division, through pride, caused an organization to be be formed that others call a "church".

This is a rather arrogant and demeaning statement on Rutkoski's part. First, it was corruption in the institutional Catholic church which led to the fight. The RC institution has shown itself over the centuries to be flawed and corrupt and in error at times, and has itself admitted those flaws. The Reformers initially did not want to break with the RC church. The RC church pushed the Reformers to that extreme measure by resisting internal reform.

Second, Rutkoski clearly considers all non-RC churches (or "churches" in quotes) to be illegitimate and false, not part of the universal or catholic (lower case c) church. He is obviously wrong, and such a destructive, divisive, insulting message could not have come directly from God. The way to bring about Christian unity is not to demand that all Christians everywhere knuckle under to the Vatican, but to celebrate the rich diversity and harmony and validity of the entire Christian church, both RC and non-RC.

Third, I submit to you that it is completely false to say that divisions are necessarily the result of "pride." Often, divisions are the result of conscience. The Reformation was a conscientious division, and the motivation behind the Reformation was a desire for justice and purity and obedience before God--not pride. The same can be said of many other divisions among Christians, including the division between Paul and Barnabas in the Book of Acts.

Fourth, it is arrogance and blindness on Rutkoski's part to assume that the statement of Jesus to Peter ("On this rock...") refers specifically to the RC church alone. Without question, it refers to the entire Christian church in all its varied and beautiful forms. All true Christians--RC, orthodox, protestant, whatever--can trace their origin back to apostolic times and the church of the Book of Acts. The RC church does not own the patent on Christianity, no matter what bigoted statements may pour from the imagination of Mr. Rutkoski, parading as direct inspiration from God.

He, who dares to say the gates of hell have prevailed against the Catholic Church, calls Jesus Christ a liar.


This is a marvelous inversion of logic. It's also very clever, setting up a straw-man argument and saying, "If you disagree with my interpretation, you're blaspheming Christ!" I reject that clever but misleading premise. There was no RC church when Jesus made the "gates of hell" statement. There were only a handful of disciples. Jesus was speaking about all believers, present and future, not just the RC church.

My point here is that I would really encourage you, as I have all along, to recognize another way of looking at the entire Christian church. I don't ask you to agree with it, just see that there is another way of looking at these issues and biblical passages such as the "Upon this rock" statement. That statement of Jesus does not apply narrowly to the RC church, but to the catholic (universal) Christian church, of which you and I and all other believers, Catholic and Protestant, are fully and equally a part.

--wiz



[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited April 17, 2000).]

Conor
04-17-2000, 04:36 PM
I have looked at your view of Christianity and many 'churches', through my Church and the eyes of many ex-protestants. I think you are completely, utterly wrong.

Diversity in Christianity is evil, the work of the devil. Divisions in Christ's Church can never be a good thing no matter what the state of mind of those who split. Your belief in the nature of Christian churches is incompatible with mine. I do not think other churches can be called "Christ's" because they split from His one, true Church, thus the invalidity.

The Pope is the spiritual head of Christ's Church on earth, given the position by Christ Himself, and I believe I can prove this. The statement of Rock undoubtedly refers to Peter being declared the head of the earthly Church, the Rock on which the Church will be built. Well guess what? Every single church but one has split from Peter's authority, and I say that means they have split from Jesus' ideal.

As for Rutkoski, we are to judge the authenticity of people by their fruits. He has been the catalyst for thousands of people, Protestants and non-Christians alike, to come back to Christ and His Church. Miracles follow him everywhere he goes. Just about everything he prays for comes true.

One miracle in particular (that he sees frequently) happens all over the world, in many different circumstances, to sometimes thousands of people at once. The miracle of the dancing sun is a strange one indeed. At its first appearance in Fatima (and Our Lady's apparitions there) in 1914 (I think, but may be off by a year or two) the sun came out in the middle of heavy rain, moved around the sky, zoomed out and then hurtled toward the earth so fast that nearly everyone threw themselves to the ground. When they looked up the sun was in its rightful place, the rain had stopped and everyone was perfectly dry. This miracle is well documented. It also continues to happen today. It happens a lot in Medjegorje, Yugoslavia and my mother saw it in Colorado when the Pope visited. Rutkoski sees this miracle all the time.

Everything about him from the fruits of his labours to the miracles surrounding him to the things Jesus is supposed to be saying to him convince me he is authentic.



------------------
"First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in."
-C.S. Lewis

Conor
04-17-2000, 04:55 PM
Again, I respect you and I'm sure you believe you are right.

But I can't agree with you, and I think I have every reason not to.

wizzywig
04-17-2000, 06:30 PM
Conor:

Again, I respect you and I'm sure you believe you are right.

But I can't agree with you, and I think I have every reason not to.

My position is the mirror image of yours. I respect you, I know you believe you are right in all good conscience, and I can't agree with you, because you have given me no good reason to agree with you--only unsupported claims and bald assertions.

You'll recall that whenever I have discussed these issues on this forum, I have always tried to offer verifiable evidence, not mere unsupported claims. This dancing sun business, for example: People in one location claim to see the sun behaving like an idiot in the sky. Meanwhile, everywhere else in the world (at least, wherever the sun is shining and it is not night), there are no such reports. The sun remains in place as always. What am I to logically make of such an absurd claim? Must I believe it simply because you say so?

I have experienced or verified several miraculous events, and they are always meaningful in nature. The miracles that I have verified to my satisfaction are never the kind of meaningless gosh-wow, bizarre fireworks-and-laser-light-show type event you describe. The miracles I have seen or verified are not like parlor magic or sci-fi SP/FX; they are more like the miracles in the Bible--they always have a meaningful, compelling, spiritual point to make, and they do so in a majestic, dignified way.

It is like the old Groucho Marx line, "Who are you going to believe--me or your own eyes?" You seem to expect me to abandon my reasoning faculties in favor of wild and unsupported claims.

Christianity is a reasonable faith, based on reasonable evidence, not wild absurdities. I don't say this to attack your faith, but to explain why I cannot accept the claims you make.

The Christian Scriptures make it very clear that we are not to accept every religious-sounding claim with abject gullibility. Rather, as 1 John 4:1 says, "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world."

I am practicing the honest and careful and sincere skepticism that is demanded by genuine Christian faith. I respect your beliefs (by that, I mean I believe your Christianity is authentic, even though I think you are sincere but misguided in some non-essential areas).

Though you say you respect my beliefs, I don't know what that means. You clearly consider my position as a Christian to be inferior to that of a Catholic Christian--you see my beliefs and my Christianity as false compared to RC belief. I cannot help that, and I am not bothered by that. This is what you have been taught in the RC tradition, which you accept without question, and I understand and accept that to be your position.

But here I stand, as Luther rightly said. I can do no other.

Ah, well. I know you mean the best for me, and I consider your words an act of friendship, even though I must reject them. I wish you the best.

--wiz



[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited April 17, 2000).]

Conor
04-17-2000, 07:33 PM
I have every bit of confirmation I need that the miracle of the dancing sun is real. You can call thousands and thousands of people liars if you want (that is what you are doing, really, if you don't believe it happens), but my mother saw it, and that is more than enough for me. I have also seen silver-coloured rosaries that were turned gold-coloured instantaneously, for no other reason than to show God is there. My aunt has a few of these.

Also, I do not believe without question. http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/smile.gif I have read the testamonies of quite a few prominent Protestants of various backgrounds come to the conclusion, through reasoned analysis of the early Church and the Bible, that the RCC is the one, the only, true Church of Christ, and the rest should not have been formed and should not exist, as such divisions are contrary to God's will expressed in the Bible.

In regards to a previous statement, no we should not knuckle under the vatican just because the Church says so. We should obey Christ, and He says to submit to the authority of Peter. I can say with absolute confidence that Christ wants everyone to be in the Catholic Church. Rather than print whole books on here (for that is what it would take) I can get you the titles of a number of testamonies on why these people left whatever they were doing and became Catholic. A decision they only came to after questioning and reasoned discourse.



------------------
"First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in."
-C.S. Lewis

Vagabond
04-17-2000, 07:49 PM
*sigh*


------------------
VagabondNomad on the Zone...

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players...

theahnfahn
04-17-2000, 09:09 PM
Conor:
I have to say I am siding heavily with Wiz here. I almost fear for you, because it seems as though you follow this church more than the words and works of Jesus Christ. What you are putting forth in terms of "proof" is based solely on the word of the church, backed by meaningless "miracles" of material transformation. The message Jesus gave us was to love God and love our fellow man. This in and of itself, when carried out in full, exemplifies a perfect life. I want you to think about that. A church is needed to ensure a supposed truth is freely presented to its people in hopes of salvation, learning, and understanding. A church is not needed for every living person, something that one MUST classify themselves under to follow a given doctrine. I fail to see how a governing body should decide for you in how you must interpret and follow Biblical text. If you argue you do not need this then I argue your church is nothing more than a symbol - something you classify yourself under with the sole belief that it is inherently correct and so it follows you are as well. I feel it more important to lead a life as would Jesus, not live a life under his supposed church.

------------------
And there he is. The reigning champion of the Boonta Classic, and the crowd favorite-TheAhnFahn

wizzywig
04-17-2000, 10:36 PM
Thanks, AhnFahn. I substantially agree with what you say. I am convinced that it is very important for believers to be in regular fellowship or community with other believers. But the exact form that the fellowship takes is not of critical importance in determining the validity and genuineness of one's faith.

I do understand where Conor is coming from. The RC church claims to be the one true church. It claims to have authority that is equal to the authority of Scripture. It claims to be the mediator between God and human beings. This is one of the areas in which I believe the RC church is in error, because Paul, in 1 Timothy 2:5, says, "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." The church took over that role of mediator between man and God in the middle ages, and that was one of the areas of corruption that Luther and others objected to. But the RC church maintains that position to this day.

I do not consider that a serious enough error to say that RC believers are not genuine. I believe Conor and other RC believers are genuine Christians. He does not seem to reciprocate that belief with regard to me and believers outside the RC church. Again, I understand that is what he has been raised to believe, and I'm okay with that. In order to be a good Catholic, Conor must believe that way. But I don't have to believe that way in order to be a good Christian.

Conor:

You ignore some of my main points. I'm going to number them and I would be interested in a response to them. However, I am not demanding a response, and if you choose not to comment on them, that's okay.

1. I said that the Scriptures require me to verify spiritual claims with extreme care. I cited 1 John 4:1: "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." How do you square that with your urgings that I believe what you say without any proof?

2. You do not consider my Christianity to be valid or true, am I right? If there is one true faith, then mine is false, correct? I think I already know the answer, but I think it is important for you to face the full brunt of what you are saying, which is that no one outside the Catholic church is a genuine Christian.

3. You did not address what I call "the hard core of illogic at the heart of Rutkoski's argument--and yours." It is the idea that if a miracle occurs in THIS church, then it means that THAT church over which did not experience the same miracle MUST be a false and invalid church. Let's say that the dancing sun miracle is true. So what? Does that invalidate all of non-RC Christianity? Show me the logical steps which produce such a conclusion.

4. You ignored my point that it was corruption in the RC church that produced the Reformation. The corruption of that era is undeniable. Equally undeniable is the fact that the Reformers did not want to break from the RC church. They wanted to reform the church, not leave it. It was the RC church hierarchy that demonstrated arrogance and pride on top of corruption, refusing to reform itself while persecuting the Reformers. The Reformers were threatened, the Church refused to change, the corruption was real and rampant. You tell me: What were the Reformers supposed to do? I submit to you that they did the only thing they could do, and they did exactly what God led them to do.

I will agree with you that division and disunity is not God's first and chosen way to bring about His purpose. It has been said that the best Christian witness is oneness. But God takes the circumstances people generate and He uses those circumstances to further His purposes. So human beings fight and argue and dissent, because that's what human beings do. But God takes our crap and uses it as fertilizer to grow something beautiful--diversity and harmony, unity without uniformity, churches that are different in character (reflecting the many differences of human culture and personality) but the same in purpose and spirit. If you cannot see that, you miss so much that is beautiful and splendid about worldwide Christianity.

5. You have never commented, that I recall, on the split between Paul and Barnabas in the Book of Acts. Was that a terrible thing or a good thing? I submit to you that it was an unfortunate division among Christian brothers that God used to produce good results and further His purpose in the world.

You say:


I have every bit of confirmation I need that the miracle of the dancing sun is real. You can call thousands and thousands of people liars if you want (that is what you are doing, really, if you don't believe it happens)...


What thousands and thousands of people? I have never met one of these alleged people. I am not calling you a liar or anyone else a liar. I have simply never been presented any evidence that the event really happened or the people really existed.

There is a story making the email rounds that "NASA scientists" have used computers to prove that a certain Bible miracle took place. The story is a crock. Now, if I go to some believers and say, "That story is a crock," I'm bound to hear one of them say, "You mean you're calling those NASA scientists liars?" No, I'm saying the whole story is a crock.

I'm not saying the dancing sun story is a crock. I am only saying that I have no evidence whatsoever for the dancing sun story--including no evidence for the existence of the alleged witnesses.

Similarly, I have no evidence for the other miracles you claim. I'm not calling anyone a liar. There are plenty of explanations for such occurrences other than dishonesty, so let's not go there.

And that brings us back to my earlier point. Let's say the miracles are all true as you claim. So what? Does that invalidate my beliefs? Does that invalidate my church? No. Such a conclusion is illogical, as I have clearly shown.


I have read the testamonies of quite a few prominent Protestants of various backgrounds come to the conclusion, through reasoned analysis of the early Church and the Bible, that the RCC is the one, the only, true Church of Christ, and the rest should not have been formed and should not exist, as such divisions are contrary to God's will expressed in the Bible.


You like to cite Protestants who have turned RC, and that's understandable. There are also RCs-turned-Protestants that we could discuss. I don't bother going there because it proves nothing. People change their minds and their beliefs. I have no problem with people going into the RC church or coming out of it because I see the TRUE church as much larger than one particular sect. You see ONLY the one sect as true, which is unfortunate but understandable.

We should obey Christ, and He says to submit to the authority of Peter. I can say with absolute confidence that Christ wants everyone to be in the Catholic Church.

That is your interpretation of the "upon this rock" statement of Jesus. It's the RC interpretation. It is not the only reasonable interpretation and it is clearly not my interpretation. Do not expect me to buy into an interpretation of Scripture which makes no rational sense to me.


Rather than print whole books on here (for that is what it would take) I can get you the titles of a number of testamonies on why these people left whatever they were doing and became Catholic. A decision they only came to after questioning and reasoned discourse.

I personally know people who have gone the other direction, from the RC church into protestantism. I also know people who have gone from the RC church into atheism, but that in no ways proves atheism is correct.

I could cite all kinds of cases, but why? It's not relevant. Everyone has their personal reasons for their beliefs, but that proves nothing in an objective sense. You need not bother going there, for I will not pursue that line of inquiry. As you can see, it is of no interest, relevance, or validity to me.

I think I am approaching the end of my ability to engage in this dialogue, my friend, though I would read any response you have to make with interest. Again, I want to underscore that I sense your genuine conviction and concern in everything you say. I affirm and applaud your motives, even if I cannot agree with your conclusions.

And I consider you a Christian brother and friend, despite our differences on these issues.

--wiz



[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited April 17, 2000).]

Kurgan
04-17-2000, 11:16 PM
I thought I posted (maybe it didn't post) Vagabond, that your growling was all that was tipping me off to an "anger" growing on the thread. ; )

Oh this reminds me of other debates between Protestants and Catholics I see in writing.

The Protestants accuse or imply that the Catholic is following the Pope instead of Christ.

The Catholics accuse or imply that the Protestants are following the Reformers instead of Christ.

Catholics, the Protestants say, are trusting the Church above God.

Protestants, the Catholics say, are trusting the Bible above God.

You certainly can't have it both ways.

I must say that I reject both the concepts of Sola Scriptura and [i]Sola Fidela[/b].

To be honest, I really am not certain what "saves" or "condemns" a person, but I am certain that God knows. If, however, you are going to simply follow the Bible, you cannot really force those two square concepts (above) into the round holes of Scripture.

The trouble between Christian denominations is not in the text itself (well not usually, most of us should know a bad translation when we see one), nor in the organization (I feel), but in their INTERPRETATION of the signs and words of the God we all believe in.

Kurgan

[This message has been edited by Kurgan (edited April 17, 2000).]

wizzywig
04-18-2000, 12:01 AM
Kurgan--


The Protestants accuse or imply that the Catholic is following the Pope instead of Christ.

The Catholics accuse or imply that the Protestants are following the Reformers instead of Christ.


I haven't said (or implied) a word about the Pope. And I have not attacked the modern Catholic church (though the corruption of the old RCC is beyond dispute).

My principal point is that the Christian church, the truly "catholic" or universal church made up of all true Christians, is much larger and broader than the Roman Catholic Church alone. This is a concept that Conor obviously cannot accept. But the evidence leads me to that conclusion, and he offers me no convincing evidence to alter my conviction.

--wiz

theahnfahn
04-18-2000, 01:49 AM
Wiz:
Good thoughts. So far, that is precisely what I have learned from reading the Bible and how I have interpreted it.

Conor:
What difference does it make? This is in no way meant as a negative remark. All I am asking is that if Wiz is living under a flawed worldview, what will the outcome be? That is the heart of this matter. Anyone can beleive whatever they want, and the only affect this will have is if there are consequences for these beliefs. The universal theme present in all of Christ's teachings was that ritual is not a necessity, it is a celebration. The Pharisees serve a tremendous purpose in qualifying what I just said. So, I repeat, what difference does it make? Clearly, you believe it does because you press that you have the only true faith, but I fail to see where you are headed with this if you are true to your claim.

------------------
And there he is. The reigning champion of the Boonta Classic, and the crowd favorite-TheAhnFahn

wizzywig
04-18-2000, 05:31 AM
TheAhnFahn--

The universal theme present in all of Christ's teachings was that ritual is not a necessity, it is a celebration. The Pharisees serve a tremendous purpose in qualifying what I just said.

Stunning insight...

Again and again in the gospels, you see Christ stripping away the accretion of confining religious rules and meaningless rituals (I'm not saying all rituals are meaningless, but some definitely are), in order to lay bare the REALITY of authentic faith. Ritual is good and positive, as you point out, when it serves to focus worship and generate celebration of truth and God. When it becomes a spiritual straightjacket, ritual becomes a destructive religious force. Pharisaism is truly instructive in this regard.

Again, a stunning insight...

--wiz

wizzywig
04-18-2000, 05:49 AM
I should add that the Roman Catholic Church at the time of the Reformers had become a very Pharisaical institution, oppressing the people with rules and observances and indulgences that mimicked (with uncanny precision!) the Pharisaic oppression that Jesus fought in His day. The church that Jesus founded had come to resemble the very institution He had fought against and which had nailed Him to a tree.

But that is not surprising. It is the normal tendency of human beings to take a vital, living relationship with God and, over time, corrupt it into dead, oppressive religion. Pure Judaism was corrupted into dead Pharisaism, and pure Christianity was corrupted into the institutional oppression that was Catholicism in the Reformation era.

When Luther and the other reformers attempted to reform the church from within, they were living after the example of Christ, who fought the very same kinds of corruption in the all-pervading religious institution of His day. Not that the Reformers were perfect, but they sought in good conscience to cleanse the church they loved.

When the church institution resisted reform and tried to destroy them, the Reformers had no choice but the seek to re-establish the purity of the church OUTSIDE of the jurisdiction of the RCC. The church left them no options. The goal of the Reformers was to restore the purity of first-century worship by stripping away the accretion of oppressive rules and confining ritual that had overgrown the original purity of the early church.

There is no question that the RCC of Luther's day was a far cry from the simple house-to-house style of worship that was practiced in the Book of Acts. Many Christians today, from Red China to America, are rediscovering the same simplicity of worship that the early church practiced.

Reformation and renewal must be an ongoing practice, not only in churches and denominations, but in individual lives.

--wiz

Conor
04-18-2000, 02:22 PM
I'll get back to you, probably later today.

I haven't been ignoring points because I don't think I can answer them. I am writing finals and I haven't had a whole lot of time on the internet. I have only wrote some of what I wanted to say. http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/smile.gif

------------------
"First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in."
-C.S. Lewis

Vagabond
04-18-2000, 03:05 PM
Conor,


...I haven't been ignoring points because I don't think I can answer them...


Speaking for myself, I do not equate not replying with one not thinking one can answer. After observing where your debate has lead, one might logically conclude that you'd realized a stalemate has been reached and that any further debate would be simply beating a dead horse.

In any event, I hope that you didn't reach this conclusion about me after I withdrew from some of our previous debates, because if so you'd be fantastically mistaken. There comes a point when debating the same point over and over becomes tiresome rather than enlightening.

And everyone, please don't interpret my comments here as my attempting to discourage any further debate - not at all. I'm merely commenting on what Conor said and the perceived implication that simply because one does not reply, then that person is unable to form a reply.

Carry on http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/wink.gif



------------------
VagabondNomad on the Zone...

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players...

Ikhnaton
04-18-2000, 03:37 PM
I have to agree with Vagabond... the Catholic vs. Protestant debate will not ever come to any resolution. The only thing that can ever unite Christians is true love for Christ and a yearning to for the truth and to obey God. That and a lot of prayer.

But my viewpoints on other Christian denominations has changed over the years. I am much more relaxed about it. Not for an instant do I think that one religion is as good as another, but i do realize that what DOES matter is that the faithful have a true love for God and a strong desire to serve him. That supercedes, in my opinion, any membership to any denomination or creed. The unity that we already have is starting to be realized, in my opinion. Many churches, RC included, are suffering again from Pharisee-ism. I think people are starting to realize the spirit of the law a bit more, instead of just following the letter.

Remember, God will be as lax or as harsh with us as we are with our brother.

wizzywig
04-18-2000, 04:21 PM
I agree with you, Ike, if I understand you correctly.

I believe a relational and spiritual unity is far more important than an organizational and institutional unity. It is this relational and spiritual oneness that I believe Jesus was talking about in His high priestly prayer before the cross in John 17: "...that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you."

When the world sees that Christians can be united across the lines of diversity that differentiate them, it becomes a witness to the reality of the living Christ within them.

--wiz

wizzywig
04-18-2000, 04:24 PM
Conor--

I didn't mean to imply that you had no answer for those points--I have every confidence that you do! http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/biggrin.gif

I know that, as the discussion burgeons, it becomes increasingly more of a chore to cover every point.

--wiz

Ikhnaton
04-18-2000, 05:10 PM
wiz, it is a paradox, to be sure. On one hand, we are all unified in our purpose, to love God and to serve Him. However, the diversity that exists is not necessarily a good thing. If one church says X is wrong, and another says it is ok, which is right? Which one is loving God in the more proper way?

Fortunately for us, God will sort it out, but anyone who seeks the truth will have to ask themselves that question, and will, if they seek it hard enough, arrive at the church that Christ himself founded. I won't give it a name, but you know where I stand http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/wink.gif

There can be only one. There is only one church that is faithful to all that Christ taught. That is the truth of the matter.

The spiritual unity that Jesus prayed about almost exists. But I also think that with total spiritual unity, there will be a lot more organizational unity as well.

wizzywig
04-18-2000, 06:18 PM
Ike--


There can be only one. There is only one church that is faithful to all that Christ taught. That is the truth of the matter.


I would say there can only be one at most. That is logical, in theory.

But in actual practice, I don't believe there is any one church that is correct in every respect. All churches/denominations are composed of human beings and thus fall prey to human fallibility. I wouldn't presume to say which churches practice which errors, since I am human and fallible, too, and I have no doubt that some of my ideas about reality are off the mark (if I knew which ones, I'd change them, of course, to conform with what IS).

Catholics believe the RCC is 100 percent correct. But which wing of the RCC? The conservative wing? The liberal wing? The charismatic wing? The Marxist liberation theology wing? The RCC was horribly corrupt during the time of the Reformation, so it cannot always have been 100 percent correct. Even the papacy has been corrupt in past times.

(Remember Alexander VI, pope from 1492-1503? He purchased the office through simony, fathered four children, used his wealth and power for worldly pleasure and to punish enemies, and arranged the trial and execution of church reformer Girolamo Savonarola).

So you will never convince me that the RCC holds the corner on truth. No church does.

Only God holds the corner on truth. The rest of us just do the best we can to follow Him, trusting His grace to make up for our error and limitation.


The spiritual unity that Jesus prayed about almost exists. But I also think that with total spiritual unity, there will be a lot more organizational unity as well.


I can't disagree with that.

--wiz

Vagabond
04-18-2000, 06:38 PM
wiz,


...Catholics believe the RCC is 100 percent correct...


I'm sure I don't need to point this out to you, but this statement is false. Why? Technically I am Catholic, yet I view many of the RCC's core teachings as intrusive and oppressive. No, my friend, this Catholic believes the RCC is quite flawed, and very far behind the times. Let's face it, any institution run by men is inherently flawed due to the mere fact that men are themselves flawed, hence can not be 100% correct.

P.S. If I don't respond, it's not because I can't, it's because I choose not to.


------------------
VagabondNomad on the Zone...

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players...

wizzywig
04-18-2000, 07:16 PM
V:


Technically I am Catholic, yet I view many of the RCC's core teachings as intrusive and oppressive. No, my friend, this Catholic believes the RCC is quite flawed, and very far behind the times. Let's face it, any institution run by men is inherently flawed due to the mere fact that men are themselves flawed, hence can not be 100% correct.


You're quite right. I should have said "intensely committed Catholics"--Catholics of the Conor/Ike variety most definitely believe the RCC is 100 percent correct. They have said so on this forum. But as you rightly point out, there are Catholics and there are Catholics (including "technically" Catholics).


P.S. If I don't respond, it's not because I can't, it's because I choose not to.


Understood. Agreed.

--wiz

Ikhnaton
04-18-2000, 07:33 PM
wiz, you're falling into the error of not separating the institution from the individual. Just because a Pope is a bad person does not change the doctrine taught by the church. In fact, NO pope, bad or good has ever introduced NEW doctrine, and has never changed doctrine so that it means something totally different, and has never taught false doctrine from an official standpoint.

There were abuses and there still are, and there are in every church. That stuff happens because we are all human. But that doesn't change the fact that those abuses were wrong. It is called objective truth. It doesn't change. In Matt 16:18, Christ promised that his church would never be corrupted by false doctrine. What kind of God would set up a church and then just leave it to humans who always screw up?

you've also got to distinguish between doctrine and disciplines.

Conor
04-18-2000, 08:26 PM
Just for starters, I haven't found any of your points, wizzywig, very convincing. I've heard them before, been shown why they are wrong, and they don't bother me.

I think one point must be made, or everything else is irrelevant. There must be one Christian Church that has its teachings completely 100% in tune with Jesus' Will. If any church doesn't, that Church is not Jesus' because He is perfect and His bride (the Church) must also be perfect. If we can't agree on this, there is nothing to discuss.


1. I said that the Scriptures require me to verify spiritual claims with extreme care. I cited 1 John 4:1: "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." How do you square that with your urgings that I believe what you say without any proof?


Maybe I am unreasonable in thinking you should believe my claims about certain miracles, but I would hope that you would trust me enough to see I wouldn't be lying. Also, I made this self-same point when talking about Rutkoski. We must look at a man's fruits, what he has done, and what results have happened. Rutkoski is an intensely holy man, who has converted thousands (if not many times that) to Jesus. Miracles of healing and wonder follow him around, to confirm God is with him would be my guess. After reading his book as well as learned things from other sources I have no question the supernatural hovers around him. And if it is the Devil he should do this more often, for the fruits are amazing.


2. You do not consider my Christianity to be valid or true, am I right? If there is one true faith, then mine is false, correct? I think I already know the answer, but I think it is important for you to face the full brunt of what you are saying, which is that no one outside the Catholic church is a genuine Christian.


My beef is with the assertion that all Christian groups are equally valid and acceptable. I will be first to admit that non-Catholic Christians really are Christians. Their love proves it. But there are contradictions in major doctrines from one church to the next. They cannot possibly all be Christ's Church, because the Bible clearly says divisions are wrong, and Christ's Will could not have any contradictions.

This is where my first assertion comes in. Because of the contradictions and differences in doctrine between Churches, and because Christ promised his Church would never be overcome, there must be one Church that has it all, and the other churches by extenstion don't. Which is better? To be in a flawed church or the perfect Church? They are still mostly valid (in most cases) but not entirely valid.


3. You did not address what I call "the hard core of illogic at the heart of Rutkoski's argument--and yours." It is the idea that if a miracle occurs in THIS church, then it means that THAT church over which did not experience the same miracle MUST be a false and invalid church. Let's say that the dancing sun miracle is true. So what? Does that invalidate all of non-RC Christianity? Show me the logical steps which produce such a conclusion.


I am not aware I made any conclusion that any specific miracle proves a church to be the Church. It lends weight to its validity does it not? I was trying to show that if miracles follow a guy wherever he goes and he does great works in the name of Jesus there might just be something going for him. Makes me want to listen to what he says too. An elaboration on the sun miracle: My mother said when she and hundreds of others all saw it in Colorado, it went on for about 20 minutes. It moved around the sky, spun off colours, some people saw pictures of the holy family within the disk, everyone could look at it directly without hurting their eyes, and at one point it even split into three different suns that moved independantly. I think it is neat. http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/smile.gif


4. You ignored my point that it was corruption in the RC church that produced the Reformation. The corruption of that era is undeniable. Equally undeniable is the fact that the Reformers did not want to break from the RC church. They wanted to reform the church, not leave it. It was the RC church hierarchy that demonstrated arrogance and pride on top of corruption, refusing to reform itself while persecuting the Reformers. The Reformers were threatened, the Church refused to change, the corruption was real and rampant. You tell me: What were the Reformers supposed to do? I submit to you that they did the only thing they could do, and they did exactly what God led them to do.


It is a good thing theahnfahn brought up the Pharisees, because it makes my point beautifully. What was Jesus' problem with the Pharisees? Was it the law they practiced? Or that they had perverted the law? Mosaic law was not the problem. Jesus came to fulfill it, not abolish it. It was the leaders themselves, not the old law, that was the problem.

Leading me to say this: Neither at the Reformation nor any other time in history has the Church repealed any doctrine or taught something new. It was the leaders, the new Pharisees if you will, that were corrupt. They were not following the Church. If they did, everything would have been fine. Then came the Reformers, who took a bad situation and made it much, much worse. Luther's pride has caused so much division in Christ's Church. What the Reformers should have done, is to try to get the Church leaders back on the rails, to go back to Church teaching. Instead they decided to branch off on their own, and they changed Christian practices to suit their own will, not Christ's. They thought they could interpret the Bible better than the Church that compiled it. They thought they could take Christianity and remake it, in their own image as it were.

God does bring good out of evil, so that is why there is so much love, so much Christianity, in many Protestant churches. But because of their roots, they are not in tune with God's Will, not completely. That is why it is a problem and should be rectified.


5. You have never commented, that I recall, on the split between Paul and Barnabas in the Book of Acts. Was that a terrible thing or a good thing? I submit to you that it was an unfortunate division among Christian brothers that God used to produce good results and further His purpose in the world.


I honestly can't see how this is supposed to support your point. They did not divide the Church. They did not change doctrinal practices. They did not create different sects. I just read Acts to make sure. As far as I can tell it was an argument between two people that resulted in them going different ways geographically, not spiritually. Yes, God did take the unfortuneate split between two people and use it to expand the Church more than it would have been. But the Church stayed one, and did not change.

I will continue...

------------------
"First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in."
-C.S. Lewis


[This message has been edited by Conor (edited April 18, 2000).]

Conor
04-18-2000, 09:11 PM
This point is always a bit hairy, but it is necessary to point out.

All Christians base their beliefs on the Bible. However, it is a fact that the Bible can be interpreted infinite ways depending on which statements you take out of context. Because most of these interpretations contradict each other, they certainly can't all be right, and logic dictates that only one interpretation can be correct. That means that everyone, techincally, should be getting the same answer when they try interpreting it. That is not the case. There are at least 25,000 different Protestant groups interpreting the Bible the same number of ways. It certainly seems to me then that individuals are incapable of interpreting the Bible correctly. Any and all interpretations must first pass through ourselves and through any filters we have built up. Certain interpretations simply will not enter our heads because our upbringing or a multitude of other reasons. I honestly can't understand how anyone could claim that they expertly mined the Bible and came up with pure gold when everyone else has dross mixed in.

Then comes the Catholic teaching on the matter. The Catholic Church made the Bible. She took all sorts of writings and decided which to throw out and which to keep in. If anyone wants to use the Bible they have to first thank the Catholic Church for creating it and preserving it, as well as trusting that she got it right.. It is a Catholic book. Now, I think I have shown that people are incapable of interpreting the Bible by themselves, as it results in contradictions galore. The Church teaches that the only possible way of interpreting the Bible is in the light of Sacred Tradition.

Since the Bible is God's Word, it must be interpretable. Who are the only ones that actually knew for sure what the Bible meant? The writers of course. Do we have the writers' insights on the matter? They must have left behind more than is in the Bible, as they said to pass on both their oral and written teachings. Who has these oral teachings and insights? The Protestants can't, claiming sola scriptura and all, which strangely enough isn't in the Bible. It seems obvious that the successors of the Apostles would have these teachings, this Sacred Tradition, as they were the only ones to pass it on to, and it wouldn't shine very kindly on Jesus if a great deal of His Aposltes' work was lost at the beginning, what with His promises.

That is why I was so shocked when you said you didn't give the early Church Father's much weight. They are the closest link we have to the Apostles, yet not all their teachings are found in the Bible directly. Such things as the Trinity could only come with insight found outside the Bible. They were also undeniably Catholic in preaching and practice.

That is why I don't think you can hold your own interpretation of the Bible against the Catholic Church's. I will show you why Peter is prime, and why if Christ founded a stewardship for His Church, that office would not die out within a generation.

In short, I think all interpretations not done in light of Sacred Tradition are doomed to fall short of the truth.

As for which Catholic is right or not, there is only one Catholic teaching, the rest are dissidents against this one. Catholic teaching can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and anything that contradicts the statements therein is not Catholic.



------------------
"First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in."
-C.S. Lewis

wizzywig
04-18-2000, 09:51 PM
Ike--


wiz, you're falling into the error of not separating the institution from the individual. Just because a Pope is a bad person does not change the doctrine taught by the church. In fact, NO pope, bad or good has ever introduced NEW doctrine, and has never changed doctrine so that it means something totally different, and has never taught false doctrine from an official standpoint.

I haven't "fallen" into any error. I'm aware that the Catholic church has come up with some rather tortured workarounds to explain its way around the massive corruption that was rampant particularly in the 1400s and 1500s. But when a church puts conscientious Christian reformers to torture and death for the "crime" of speaking out against corruption, that church loses any claim to be 100 percent correct in any meaningful sense of the word. Whatever sense you claim the church to be infallible has little practical meaning in the face of the horrendous things the church has occasionally engaged in at various low points in its history.

I have really not wanted to go in this direction because it was never my intention to attack or undermine anyone's faith. Quite the contrary. I have tremendous respect for what the Catholic church is and does today. I have respect for the present Pope.

But people have been asking me to believe what are to my mind absolute absurdities, abundantly contradicted by a wealth of historical data. So I have tried to explain why it is logically impossible for me to do so.

If you feel that I have attacked the RC church, please understand that is not my intention.


In Matt 16:18, Christ promised that his church would never be corrupted by false doctrine. What kind of God would set up a church and then just leave it to humans who always screw up?


The same God who gave human beings free will in the first place, by which sin entered the world.

There is nothing in Matthew 16:18 which says what you say it says. That is an interpretation imposed on that verse by the RC church, which then imputes that interpretation to refer to itself. It is quite a stretch, IMHO.

To me, it is a statement regarding the entire Christian church. Jesus said: "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it." Peter was the first among many believers to recognize Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, and thus Peter was the first Christian among many who would later come. The statement that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the church is much more reasonably a statement that the church would advance against evil, and would ultimately triumph over evil, and could not be conquered or persecuted out of existence by the forces of evil. That is a reasonable reading of that statement.

I have to ask you: What kind of God would set up one infallible, incorruptible, 100 percent perfect church--then allow it to persecute and torture Christians, elect corrupt and evil popes, persecute scientific truth (Galileo, Bruno, et al), and on and on? If the church is perfect in doctrine, why is it so abysmally imperfect in so many ways?

Again, I am not attacking the RC church, just answering your question and showing why I cannot accept your perfect image of what is clearly a profoundly imperfect and ultimately human (though God-worshiping) institution.

Conor--I'll get back to you.

--wiz

wizzywig
04-18-2000, 10:08 PM
An afterthot:

No church is perfect. Only Jesus Himself is perfect.

The history of the church is marred and blemished because it is made up of human beings. The life of Jesus has no such blemishes, because He alone can claim perfection.

--wiz

wizzywig
04-18-2000, 10:25 PM
Conor, very briefly, I want to correct a misimpression:

Just for starters, I haven't found any of your points, wizzywig, very convincing. I've heard them before, been shown why they are wrong, and they don't bother me.

I am not trying to convince you. I don't want anything I say to bother you. I don't in any way wish to talk you or anyone out of being a Catholic. I have enormous respect for the Catholic church.

Understand: I do not see this as a Catholic v. Protestant debate!

If that is your impression of anything that I have said, I hope you will expunge that from your thinking altogether. I am only giving my own reason for believing as I do. I do not want to dissuade anyone from their own beliefs on this matter, and I feel very badly that anything I've said has been taken that way.

--wiz




[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited April 18, 2000).]

theahnfahn
04-18-2000, 10:32 PM
I think Conor, and any other members who hold steadfast to the claim that the RCC is the 100% purebread church of Christ, are making one major claim that simply fails to achieve any sense of logical coherency. The SOLE purpose of the church is to spread doctrine and ensure correct interpretation of the works of Christ. Now, it is such a trivial task to argue that it is impossible for the church to do this, so enough with that. Conor, you misinterpret church with belief. The church, as it stands, is a conglomerate of people working towards a general purpose - to spread the word of Christ. In this sense the church is flawed, for we as humans are incapable of presenting every detail of the works of Jesus in full, unchanged form. I think what you are trying to argue, which you have been arguing under different terms, is that the interpretation of the Bible you follow is correct, and all others are flawed either in a remote aspect or a huge problematic and misguided belief. So, please present how Wiz, as a declared Christian, interprets the Gospels differently so as to warrant terming him as a backwards individual. I think the problem is the RCC makes the claim it is the one true church of Christ, and even if you fail to accept this claim that in and of itself proves the church of flaw.

What you believe juxtoposed how you believe it are two totally different things. Classifying yourself under the RCC will in no way ensure someone who does likewise will have the same beliefs as you do. The church should only ensure WHAT to believe. Jesus was here to present to us that we should love God and love ourselves. Again, I ask what difference does it make if one MUST recognize the Pope as a blessed individual, if one MUST recognize a given church is the only church ordained by God, if one MUST submit that there is a tangible, 100% correct entity that enforces what you need to believe? The church is flawed, no doubt about it. So are you pressing that what the church stands for, what it tries to present, is perfect? If so, then how? And if you can't answer that, how does that make the church any different than another church, or someone like Wiz, for that matter? Your claim is that the church is correct, and then you base your arguments on that sole assumption to prove it. That is illogical.

------------------
And there he is. The reigning champion of the Boonta Classic, and the crowd favorite-TheAhnFahn

Conor
04-18-2000, 11:32 PM
I still think I stated well enough that one Church needs to be perfect. Jesus founded a Way. As He is perfect His Way must be perfect. Religion is no more than a way of life. So there must be one 'religion,' 'church,' what-have-you that still holds the Way without error, because if there isn't that does mean Jesus broke His promise.

Also, wiz, I forgot about it but you said something like the Church claims to be a mediator between God and man. That is simply incorrect. The Church has never claimed such a thing.

TAF, you are completely disregarding the Holy Spirit. Man cannot keep things perfect, but the HS can. If God promised to keep His Church, His Way, whole, He will do it. He will work around human free will if necessary.

Still nobody has given me any evidence the RCC was flawed at any time. If people, even the leaders, act in a way that is not in concert with what their own Church teaches, that certainly doesn't say anything about the actual teachings. It just says a few things about humanity.

wizzywig
04-18-2000, 11:41 PM
Conor:

I think one point must be made, or everything else is irrelevant. There must be one Christian Church that has its teachings completely 100% in tune with Jesus' Will. If any church doesn't, that Church is not Jesus' because He is perfect and His bride (the Church) must also be perfect. If we can't agree on this, there is nothing to discuss.

Perhaps we have nothing to discuss, perhaps we do. I fail to see why it is necessary that there be one church that is 100 percent correct.

To explain, let me use an analogy of a tuning fork. Let's say that the Bible and Christ together are represented by the tuning fork which is tuned to the note of middle C. The Bible/Jesus/tuning fork is at perfect pitch.

Now let's say all the different churches are pianos, each one being tuned by a different piano tuner. Each piano tuner has his own human limitations but does his best to tune the piano to the tuning fork.

One tunes his middle C key perfectly, and proceeds to tune the rest of the piano keys from that one baseline. He does a pretty good job, though he slightly flats the A above middle C.

Another does his best, though his G sharp is a little too sharp.

And so on.

The tuning fork is perfect. The pianos and tuners all listen to the same fork and do their best to replicate a perfect pitch on all 88 keys, though all fall short in one way or another.

The pianos are not perfect, but they are close. They are all a little different from each other, but that's okay. They are all focused on the perfection of the tuning fork.

In the same way, I do not require perfection of the church, because the church is a human institution. It attempts (imperfectly) to tune itself to the tuning fork, but never fully succeeds.

Only the tuning fork is perfect. Only the tuning fork is expected to be perfect.

If any church doesn't, that Church is not Jesus' because He is perfect and His bride (the Church) must also be perfect.

There is no need for a church to be perfect in order to be genuine, anymore than there is a need for a Christian to be perfect in order to be genuine.

The biblical principle you are searching for is found in Ephesians 5:25-27--"Christ ... loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish."

Now, that clearly does not talk about the Catholic church being perfect in the sense of being infallible, but of the entire Christian church being cleansed of sin by the atoning death of Jesus upon the cross. Christians and churches are not perfect in the sense of speaking infallible truth; Christians and churches are only perfect in that their sins are covered by the sacrifice of Christ. Nothing more, nothing less. The entire context makes it clear.

If the Catholic church must be perfect in its doctrine, why did God not ensure that it be perfect in its actions? Why did He allow a number of grossly corrupt popes to defile the supposed perfection of the papacy? Why did He allow the "perfect" church to persecute the truth?

You say, "There must be one Christian Church that has its teachings completely 100% in tune with Jesus' Will." Doesn't it make more sense that a church's behavior be 100 percent in tune with Jesus' will in order to be considered valid? Jesus himself said that we will know the validity of someone who speaks in His name by that person's fruit (action), not that person's words. A church that has killed and persecuted genuine Christians invalidates whatever lofty words and doctrines it promulgates.

Again, I say this not to tear down your faith or attack your church, but to explain my own position.

More to come...

--wiz


[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited April 18, 2000).]

Conor
04-19-2000, 12:03 AM
It has come to my attention that I have been using the word 'church' somewhat incorrectly, which I think theahnfahn was trying to point out to me. I have been referring to the 'deposit of faith' or church teachings and saying the church is perfect. Using the word 'church' as the whole package, including the people that make it up, no church is perfect. I apologize.

I still don't think your getting my point wiz. By your logic in the last post, any teaching that people fail to live up to becomes flawed. I doubt you meant to say that, because it is nonsense.

God will not invalidate free will. That is why people representing the Catholic Church have been corrupt. They followed the self instead of God, their own will instead of God's Will expressed through Church teachings. God allows us to do this. When a person commits evil in Christ's name it does not make Christ flawed. When a person commits evil in the name of Christ's Church, it does not make the Church's teachings flawed.

To continue with your analogy, it would be my point that the Holy Spirit is constantly struggling to keep the Catholic piano tuned, in spite of what men do to try to undermine it, and at the same time trying to bring all the different pianos back together into one.

------------------
"First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in."
-C.S. Lewis

wizzywig
04-19-2000, 12:42 AM
Conor--

It has come to my attention that I have been using the word 'church' somewhat incorrectly, which I think theahnfahn was trying to point out to me. I have been referring to the 'deposit of faith' or church teachings and saying the church is perfect.

That distinction is helpful. What you have been meaning by "church" and what I have meant are two very different things.

I still hold that there is error in the RC "deposit of faith," and I do not wish to be any more specific than that. I do not want to widen the discussion any further afield than it has already gone.

(Interestingly, I was researching a quote in MERE CHRISTIANITY a few minutes ago when I encountered a statement by CS Lewis in his preface about why he avoided certain subjects, so as not to touch off a Catholic-Protestant debate! Lewis was clearly a much wiser man than I.)

Conor, you are saying I don't get your point. Actually, I get it. I just don't buy it. Part of the difference between you and me is that you are taught by the church that its teaching is perfect, and since its teaching is perfect, then you believe what it teaches, which is that its teaching is perfect, a neat little circular reasoning which reinforces itself to perfection.

I stand outside of that teaching, I look at the evidence, and I see flaws in the teaching, and I say to myself, "I am not bound by that flawed system."

By your logic in the last post, any teaching that people fail to live up to becomes flawed. I doubt you meant to say that, because it is nonsense.

I am saying that by your logic (as I understood it before you defined your terms), a church can somehow be "perfect" even while committing obscene atrocities. I was saying that is nonsense. It helps, of course, that you have defined the way you use the word "church," as a body of teaching. I still do not agree with your position, but it helps to clarify what you are really saying.

Again, though, I have to ask what practical good is it to claim that a church is 100 percent perfect in its doctrines if it behaves like a monster? The church of the middle ages was a monster, it badly needed reform, and reform took place.

From my point of view, the RC church swerved off-course, and when the Reformers broke away, they moved onto a more correct path, in line with Scripture.

Now, I don't expect you to accept that view. But if you can at least step out of your own parochial viewpoint for a moment, look at history from that point of view (just temporarily), then you will see why I think as I do.

I can clearly see why you think as you do, and I am not trying to change your mind. You, however, are trying to change my mind. That's okay. I'm serene in my own views, though I am always open to new data. If you present compelling evidence that my view is incorrect, I guarantee I will be influenced by it. If all you present is church authority, which I have very good reason to reject, then we are at stalemate.

When a person commits evil in Christ's name it does not make Christ flawed. When a person commits evil in the name of Christ's Church, it does not make the Church's teachings flawed.

Agreed. But when the Church qua Church itself commits official, institutional, sanctioned evil, as the old RC church did, it disqualifies itself from presenting itself as flawless. That is the situation we have here. I do not see any way around it.

Again, again, again, this is not to tear down your beliefs. This is wholly and solely to answer what you say and make my own position clear.

--wiz

wizzywig
04-19-2000, 01:10 AM
Conor--

My beef is with the assertion that all Christian groups are equally valid and acceptable. I will be first to admit that non-Catholic Christians really are Christians. Their love proves it. But there are contradictions in major doctrines from one church to the next. They cannot possibly all be Christ's Church, because the Bible clearly says divisions are wrong, and Christ's Will could not have any contradictions.

Yes, they can all be Christ's Church, because the church is a spiritual body, not a sect or institution. Moreover, it was the RCC's corruption that produced the division, not the Reformers. The RCC was oppressing and killing people and suppressing the truth. The division was caused by the RCC. This is incontrovertible.


There must be one Church that has it all, and the other churches by extenstion don't. Which is better? To be in a flawed church or the perfect Church?

I've probably addressed this sufficiently, but just in case--

The church as a total body, including RC and non-RC people, is perfect in its position before God, covered by the atoning sacrifice of Christ. No individual church is perfect in its teaching because all use human means to interpret God's revelation. All are flawed to a greater or lesser degree in their teaching, but perfect in their position by God's grace through Jesus Christ. I'm not asking you to buy that, I'm just explaining my position and showing you why your logic does not persuade me.

Yes, it would be nice to be in a perfect church rather than a flawed one. Since no perfect church exists (IMHO), I choose the one that best represents God's teaching as I understand it, the least flawed I can find.

I happen to attend a church that has never killed anyone or persecuted the truth. To me, that's less flawed than the RCC, and that's close enough for me.

Again, I underscore, this is my reasoning for my position, not an attack upon the RCC.

--wiz

wizzywig
04-19-2000, 01:36 AM
Conor--

I am not aware I made any conclusion that any specific miracle proves a church to be the Church. It lends weight to its validity does it not? I was trying to show that if miracles follow a guy wherever he goes and he does great works in the name of Jesus there might just be something going for him.

I am very cautious with miracles. As I've said before, I've seen what I am convinced are miracles first-hand. But I also know that miracles can be deceptive. There is a Protestant author-preacher named Benny Hinn who sounds a lot like this Rutkoski fella. Large crowds, best-selling books, miracles, signs, wonders. Personally, I'm convinced Hinn is a con-artist and a fraud. I'm not extending that to Rutkoski because I know nothing of him but what you've told me. But I have no more reason to accept Rutkoski than I do Hinn.

I need more than miracles to validate anything. There must also be a conformity to the truth.

Miracles can be faked or can come from false sources. My attitude is always to beware of miracles.

--wiz

wizzywig
04-19-2000, 01:48 AM
Conor--

Neither at the Reformation nor any other time in history has the Church repealed any doctrine or taught something new. It was the leaders, the new Pharisees if you will, that were corrupt. They were not following the Church. If they did, everything would have been fine. Then came the Reformers, who took a bad situation and made it much, much worse. Luther's pride has caused so much division in Christ's Church.


Again, you call it "Luther's pride." Perhaps this is an RCC term. I insist it was Luther's conscience, not pride.

What the Reformers should have done, is to try to get the Church leaders back on the rails, to go back to Church teaching.

Nice theory, impossible in practice. The church at that time was too far gone, too evil, too corrupt, too vindictive, too dangerous. It was killing people who opposed the corruption. Many people who tried to do exactly what you said ended up dead.

Instead they decided to branch off on their own, and they changed Christian practices to suit their own will, not Christ's.

My perspective, they restored the church to Christ's will, as informed by the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit. I know you don't see it that way, but that is my perspective.


They thought they could interpret the Bible better than the Church that compiled it. They thought they could take Christianity and remake it, in their own image as it were.

Again, you make assumptions that I reject, that the RCC church is the one true church that compiled and promulgated truth. I reject that assertion. Given my view, it is clear that the Reformers restored the church to truth and reshaped it closer to God's own image.

Again, I don't expect you to buy this. But I'm trying to get you to step outside of your parochial view and just SEE my point of view. I'm not trying to persuade you. I don't want you to change your views. But I'm showing you why my views are logically and biblically and spiritually consistent and valid, even though you don't buy them.

--wiz

wizzywig
04-19-2000, 03:09 AM
Conor--


I honestly can't see how this is supposed to support your point. They did not divide the Church. They did not change doctrinal practices. They did not create different sects. I just read Acts to make sure. As far as I can tell it was an argument between two people that resulted in them going different ways geographically, not spiritually. Yes, God did take the unfortuneate split between two people and use it to expand the Church more than it would have been. But the Church stayed one, and did not change.


Yes, there are obvious differences between the Paul/Barnabas split and the RCC/Reformation split, and more than just differences of scale. However, this principle obtains in both situations:

Human beings err and divide from one another. God overrules and brings good out of human frailty, weakness, and error. God is bigger than our human mistakes. He overrules our stupidity and division--

Even on the scale and seriousness of the issues of the Reformation split.

At that time in history, I see the RCC as moving away from truth. You see the Reformation as moving away from truth.

We're both entitled to our own opinion and neither will change and I have no problem with that. To me, the issue is that the overall Christian church is the one true church, not any particular sect. That you and the entire RCC disagree with me troubles me not in the slightest.

I know beyond any doubt that I am part of the one true church, which is all of Christendom, and I am confident that God is greater than all our divisions, whether great or small.

--wiz

wizzywig
04-19-2000, 03:53 AM
Conor--

I don't know if you are aware of it, but you frequently make flat pronouncements as if they are statements of fact when they are actually statements of opinion, either yours or the RCC, and quite open to dispute.

You say:


The Bible can be interpreted infinite ways depending on which statements you take out of context.

I have often found this sort of statement annoying. It is usually offered by skeptics and agnostics; I was surprised to hear it stated by a believer. The Bible is not some sort of Rorschach test, an inkblot upon which everyone projects his or her own inner "truth." The Bible is rarely ambiguous or difficult to understand. When it is difficult to understand, it is often because of some difficulty in translating from the Greek to English, or because of a failure to take context into account, etc.

One of the great achievements of the Reformation was the formulation of a clear and rational set of rules for interpreting Scripture so as to get at the real truth of the text. Those rules are:

First, examine the text itself to see if you understand what it says (which often means going to the original Hebrew or Greek to make sure you understand the original intent);

Second, examine the immediate context; and

Third, examine the text in the whole context of the Scripture (what the Reformers called "the analogy of faith"--the principle that "Scripture interprets Scripture").

Reformation theologians and ministers would be the LAST people in the world to wrench a verse out of context and twist its meaning. Context is crucial to the Reformation view of Scripture.

Because most of these interpretations contradict each other, they certainly can't all be right, and logic dictates that only one interpretation can be correct. That means that everyone, techincally, should be getting the same answer when they try interpreting it. That is not the case. There are at least 25,000 different Protestant groups interpreting the Bible the same number of ways.

There is a mistaken assumption. Assuming that there really are 25,000 denominations (a number I don't for a moment accept), you infer from that number that there are 25,000 conflicting interpretations of Scripture. That also is not a valid conclusion. You also seem to infer that each of those alleged 25,000 groups thinks it has the corner on the truth and all the rest are wrong. That also is not true. Some may practice a different mode of baptism (sprinkling v. immersion) or some other small distinctive, yet almost all (except the most rigid and unreasonable groups) get along well, cooperate with each other, and fully recognize the validity of each other. Few if any of them would say, "We're the one true church and the rest of you are going to Hell."

It certainly seems to me then that individuals are incapable of interpreting the Bible correctly.

THAT IS A KEY ERROR IN RC THINKING (IMHO)!!

That was one of the errors that Luther and the Reformers objected to. The RCC hierarchy maintained that very position, and they kept the Bible out of the hands of the people. Luther wanted to put the Bible into the hands of the people, and he was RIGHT to do so. The church was WRONG to suppress the Scriptures and keep the Bible out of the people's hands.

As the Bible itself says, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

The Reformation went hand in hand with the printing press, putting the Bible out to the people, encouraging literacy, leading to the rise of both literature and industrialization, which led to raising the standard of living in nations where the Reformation took hold. Literacy rates remain low and poverty rates high to this day in nations where the Catholic church continued to keep the Bible out of the hands of its members for centuries. This is a major historical factor in the disparity in living standards between North and South America.

The Catholic Church made the Bible. ... It is a Catholic book.

This is the kind of statement of opinion as fact that I mean. The Catholic Church did not "make" the Bible, nor is it a Catholic book. The canon was decided by the early Christian church, by people who were as much my spiritual ancestors as they were yours. The Bible is not a Catholic book; I found that statement to be absolutely bizarre.

I insist that the early church is not the same as the RCC. Over time, an accretion of traditions and practices grew up in the early Christian church that caused the church of the 1500s to be very different from the church of the 100s. The Reformation was a true attempt to reform, not merely to rebel. It is the Reformation view that the RCC had fallen into such a low state that the only option for preserving a true and faithful church was to leave the RCC institution. Leaving the RCC institution was not a rebellion against the true church; it was an act of renewal and restoration of the true church. I point this out just so that you can see the other point of view.

There have been a number of branching points in the history of the church, not just the Reformation. Some occurred much earlier, as I pointed out in previous posts. The Reformation was the largest and loudest of these branching points, but as I see it, the Reformation was a fork in the road. The true church divided, and one half went one way, the other half went the other. Protestants rightfully consider the early church councils and fathers to be as much a part of their own heritage as they are a part of the RCC heritage.

This is a symptom of an attitude that you show, which is a view of non-RCC churches as bastardized, illegitimate, invalid renegade heretics rather than authentic heirs of Jesus, the apostles, and the church of Acts. This is an erroneous view on your part. I don't expect or intend to change your view, but I am trying to make you aware of how narrow your view is on this point.


Now, I think I have shown that people are incapable of interpreting the Bible by themselves, as it results in contradictions galore.

No. You have shown the danger of the idea that the people cannot be trusted with God's Word. The Bible was given to all, not to a few priests or theologians. It can be understood by anyone. Once it is placed under lock and key, and dispensed only in homilies, corruption and oppression take place.

That is why I was so shocked when you said you didn't give the early Church Father's much weight.

I didn't say that. I said that on the specific issue of transubstantiation, the particular church fathers you quoted on that particular subject cut no ice with me. The church fathers are part of the common heritage of the Protestant and RC churches. The RCC does not own them.

This, I think, sums up my response. I will let you have the last word, and I will read anything you care to say with genuine interest. I doubt I will post any more on the subject, although I may respond to clarify a point if it appears that I left something unclear.

I've enjoyed and learned from the dialogue. I think it has been conducted in a good and brotherly spirit on both sides. I appreciate the kind way you've communicated with me. I hope you feel you have been treated the same way.

--wiz



[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited April 19, 2000).]

wizzywig
04-20-2000, 03:21 AM
Conor--

An afterthot, something to ponder:

If the RCC of the 1500s had not been so corrupt, would there have been a Reformation? Would there today be many denominations--or would there just be ONE church?

It is impossible to say for sure, but I do have an opinion...

--wiz

wizzywig
04-20-2000, 06:49 AM
Dang. Lately I'm the only person posting on this thread. Maybe it's a dead issue. But I just had to post this because...

Conor, I was doing research on a totally unrelated subject having to do with the book I'm currently working on when (just moments ago) I came across a webpage that contained this footnote citation:

The Bible is a Catholic Book, Knights of Columbus Religious Information Bureau, St. Louis, 1948.

Sproinnnnggggg!

Well, now I see why you made that very same statement ("The Bible is a Catholic book") in one of your posts. You are speaking out of the very center of established Catholic tradition, which holds these views. It helps me to understand the thinking, which is in many ways quite foreign to me (and that is one of the reasons I'm grateful to you for this dialogue, because it has been a fascinating education).

When "Aha!" moments leap out at me like that, in a way that seems too improbable to be mere coincidence, I tend to believe that I'm getting a direct nudge from above. http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/wink.gif

All the best,
--wiz

Ki-Adi-Mundi
04-20-2000, 07:35 AM
I have been trying to keep up with this post, but it's growing to fast, and I'm not in here enough... but anyway, I would like to say that even though I am not Christian, I think that they can heal just about anybody. Not physically, but with like addiction and stuff, there are some caring individuals in that religion and If I ever despratly needed help in my life, I would turn to some christians.

With that in mind, you can prolly guess that I don't hold myself to any religion, my lifestyle is Taoist in essence. I do believe in a higher force, and I also think that the christian bible is correct. Although I think alot of it is analogies and examples. I think christians preach to love. Not much bad can come from that, great religion. I was baptised Roman Catholic, but refused to get confirmed. I went to a catholic school too, so I know alot about the religion. I just didn't stand for everything it did.

Sorry to make this post so long, but this is a great topic to talk about, and I have a few things I'd like to say.

I generally think that all religions are one. they all believe in something, if it's not God, it's Nature, or Ancestry or a great person that did good... you get the point. Anyway, I think that every religion has great aspects, and once you bring all those great aspects together you gain a deeper understanding and faith in whatever it is you believe in. For instance the Christian healing and caring, the Buddist way of perfection. The Taoist way of simplicity and inner strength. how pagans feel passion about nature and mankind. It's a perfect blend.

Thanks for taking the time to read all this. I know it's alot.

------------------
A Jedi feels the Force running through him.

wizzywig
04-20-2000, 08:02 AM
Ki-Adi-Mundi

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. No need to apologize about the length of your post--it was amazingly short compared to some of my previous posts on this thread!

I would like to dialogue with you some more when it's not so late and I have more time.

I wish you well.

--wiz

Conor
04-20-2000, 05:50 PM
Just to help you see where I am coming from wizzywig, I don't see any of your beliefs on this matter to be the least bit logical, scriptural or rational. I really don't.

It is a fact (no, not an opinion) that the vast majority of protestant Churches reject the Real Presence. Since it is so central to my faith, that Jesus says we must eat His real Body and Blood, and other Christian churches reject this, they cannot both be right in interpreting Jesus' Will. No matter how it is spun, people are interpreting a contradiction in Jesus' Way. One is not a valid belief. You can't just lump everyone together, contradictions and all, and say Christ's true Way is in there somewhere (which I see you as doing). There must be one church that interprets everything correctly, without contradictions. I will back this up from the Bible when I get home. However, I know you will just come up with another off-the-wall (as I see it) interpretation of them, which proves my point of people being unable to interpret scripture by themselves (If they could, we'd get the same answer). I honestly think it is the worst form of pride to think we can individually interpret the Bible with more wisdom than 1500 years of Christians, including the Apostles' successors.

I am not trying to be antagonistic here, but I really don't see where you are getting these ideas of yours. The Reformers didn't go back to any original Christianity. The things they changed Christianity to were never, ever believed in the first place.

You seem to be saying that the early Fathers were split as well, some believing my way and some believing your way. Sorry, but they were all Catholic, today's Catholic, with every bit of doctrine intact. Another opinion again, you assume, but read them for yourself, and find one that didn't believe in the Real Presence, Purgatory, or anything else Catholic.

The Church never kept the Bible from the people. She just reserved the right to interpret it. I see that as very right, you see that as wrong somehow. Look what happened when everyone was encouraged to interpret it themselves. Division after division, break-off after split. Everyone coming up with changes (mostly little) saying I'm right, I'm right, I'm right! People cannot help but interpret the Bible according the thier own worldview.

You cite Reformation tactics in interpreting the Bible, when I see the entire Reformation as evil, why would they impress me? (Although you almost certainly knew I wouldn't accept them).

Just to clear up a misunderstanding (I think), I didn't say the infinite interpretations of the Bible were at all valid. People can use Scripture to say anything they want, because it has been done. It is impossible to take the Bible as a whole and do so, but statements taken out of context can mean anything. I was sure you would agree with this.

I will try a few more points later, but I don't think we are going to see eye to eye on this.



------------------
"First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in."
-C.S. Lewis

Conor
04-20-2000, 06:04 PM
I really am trying to see where you are coming from, but I can't. It is getting frustrating.

At least we're probably all learning something. http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/smile.gif

Vagabond
04-20-2000, 06:29 PM
Conor,

I don't mean this as an insult, but I think your judgement is so clouded by your own zeal, your own point of view, that you are incapable of empathizing and understanding anyone else's point of view.

Since I am not privy to your own thought processes I can not say for certain, but the impression is that since you feel you are sooooo right, that you reject any critisism of the RCC out of hand. And your confidence in the infallable interpretation of Christ's teachings by the RCC seems to be the source of your apparent closed-mindedness.

Tell me Conor, honestly, are you actually weighing wiz's comments objectively and thoughtfully, or are you just immediatly rejecting them because they are different from your beliefs and that of the RCC? Are you even open to the possibility that the RCC has interpreted something incorrectly? Since the RCC is composed of fallable Humans, don't you think that it is logical that these Humans could make a error in their interpretation?

Conor, you're a decent person, no doubt. I want to be clear about that. But you need to accept that no Human Being has ever been perfect, save Jesus - if you believe is the son of God. With the acceptance that all Humans are and have been flawed, then the implication can be made that since the RCC is composed of these same Humans, it is logical to conclude that the members of the RCC could have made flawed interpretations of Christ's teachings, despite their good faith. Your attitude regarding the perfection of the RCC seems irrational bordering on delusion.

I'm not pefect, Conor, and neither are you or the RCC.



------------------
VagabondNomad on the Zone...

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players...

wizzywig
04-20-2000, 07:25 PM
Conor--

I can sense your frustration, and I feel badly about it.

I am frustrated, too--not because you refuse to come around to my point of view. I honestly don't want you to. My frustration is that I explain my position as carefully and clearly as I possibly can, and then you make a response that sounds as if you haven't even heard me.

And I don't think it's because you are not trying to hear me, I believe you are. And I don't believe it's because what I have said has been unclear, I think I have made my case well.

I think what we have here is practically a cultural divide or gulf between us. Yes, we are both Christians, yet in the way we view some aspects of the faith it is as though we come from different planets. You are so steeped in the Catholic worldview, including, I now realize, a deep sense of (for lack of a better word) loathing toward the Reformation and Protestantism, that you are unable to, even in a hypothetical sense, step into my shoes and see spiritual reality from my viewpoint.

I think it may be something like this: When I think of Communism, I actually get a vague picture in my mind of something dark and malevolent and sinister, something that enslaves and kills, a monolith operated by evil men bent on controlling the lives of others.

I suspect that when you think of Protestantism, you have some similar sort of sinister impression in your mind. You yourself say you see "the entire Reformation as evil." That mindset, which saturates every aspect of your thinking, blocks any possibility that you can even grasp my point of view.

I was listening to a radio call in show yesterday. A female college student called a conservative talk show host with a problem. She was in a forensics class and had been assigned to debate the abortion issue from the pro-choice side, even though she is passionately pro-life. She wanted a way out of the assignment. The talk show host, who is aggressively pro-life herself, told her she needed to be able to at least put herself temporarily, for the sake of argument, in the other person's viewpoint. The student repeatedly averred that she could not do so, it was impossible, she was too passionately pro-life to argue the pro-choice side, even for the sake of a class assignment.

I think, Conor, my friend, that you are in a similar position. I have not tried to convert you to Protestantism. Wouldn't think of it. I have simply tried to explain the biblical logic of my position when you seemed to be pressing the Catholic p.o.v. on me. You seem unable to step into my shoes for even a few moments, because to even acknowledge that my position is self-consistent and logical from my p.o.v., given the information I have presented would be a betrayal of all you have been steeped in, all you hold dear.

I think that is where we are, and where we will probably have to leave it.

You say my beliefs are not "the least bit logical, scriptural or rational." You say that my responses are "off-the-wall." The logic of everything I have said seems so pure and crystalline clear and inarguable, that from my p.o.v. you seem to be deaf and blind. I mean, I am truly astounded that you are unable to minimally say that you can at least see that my views are not groundless or insane, even though you disagree with them. But no, you respond to me as if I am babbling nonsense.

Again, I don't believe you are being deliberately dense, and I don't believe I have been unclear. It is a cultural difference, a difference in cultural thoughtforms. You really are unable to step inside my thinking, even for a moment, and that prevents you from even tolerating my viewpoint (by "tolerating," I mean you feel that you must make the attempt to convert me; I tolerate your viewpoint, because while I explain my own p.o.v., I am making no attempt to convert your p.o.v.).

Again and again, you state, "There must be one church that interprets everything correctly, without contradictions." You can't explain to me WHY there MUST be one such church (except that the RCC says it must be so, and it is the one). Logically, if you hypothetically and momentarily accept the premise that the RCC is a human religious institution like every other church, then it becomes clear that there is no LOGICAL REQUIREMENT that any one religious institution be 100 percent correct. The only reason that one perfect church is logically required in your thinking is the a priori assumption that such a church does exist and the RCC is IT. Because you cannot clear that a priori assumption from your thinking for even a moment, you keep making the same statement to me again and again, hoping I'll eventually get it. But I won't, because I do not make that same assumption.

That's just one example among many.

Now, I don't say any of this with rancor or malice or anger, just a kind of sadness. I never expected we would come to full agreement (the only way that will happen is if I convert to Catholicism--that much is obvious). But I had hoped that you would be able to at least understand my position, which has been carefully and rationally thought out over a period of many years of study and consideration. But we are at this impasse, and I think I have explained why.

Vagabond--

I think your analysis is correct. I do not, however, expect that Conor should question the church as potentially fallible. A good Catholic could never do that.

I was only hoping he could TEMPORARILY and HYPOTHETICALLY step outside of the box of his thinking so that he could understand my thinking for a moment. But I now see that the exercise of doing so, even for a moment, would feel like an act of blasphemy and betrayal to him, and so he is unable to even go there for a moment.

Now that I understand that, I accept it.

--wiz

Ki-Adi-Mundi
04-20-2000, 07:30 PM
I don't mean to get into your argument, but seeing as how I pretty much have the bible memorized, I can't help contadicting Connor. Perhaps he should sit down and read the whole thing. Like the eating the body and blood. Analogies, analogies, analogies. that whole book is full of them. You don't think he really walked on water to prove himself. Jesus was not a show off. He was just a nice guy trying to preach love. So he's kinda like a tree huggin hippie from the 70's. LOL!
anyway. All jesus meant by the eating of body and blood, was when he broke the bread at his supper. He wanted to tell the apostles that he wanted to be aprt of them, he was saying "I love you and goodbye" simply that. All Christian churchs eat it for almost the same symbolism. I would also like to point out that Conor has said that both churches cannot be right. I would like to say that both churches are wrong. I believe that no church has interpreted it correctly, It's too hard. It's an old book and hard to understand. We all try to do the best, struggling for power. It's a big mess. Organized religion was a bad Idea, almost as bad as political parties or Veitnam. I mean no offence to any of you. I just feel as if Connor is trying to make a strong argument and Wiz is feeding into it. Neither are putting in the facts that should be stated. Most are giving interpretations which can never be proven. Neither has an argument, It sounds like deseration to hold belief to me.
I'll say it again, I do not mean offence by this post. I would like to state that I'm focusing most of my blame on Connor. I too was baptized Roman Catholic, read the bible, went to church for years. Went to a private school. Had RC religion stuffed in my ass for about 12 years!!!! I'm not saying it's bad, I posted before, they are excellent healers. But in alot of cases they have lost sight of god's will according to their own interpretation. "The meek shall inherit the earth" I would like to say that the RCC is the most Un-meek group in the world, Did you know that in the states alone, we send the vatican over 10 billion dollars in donations. WTF is that all about, it's buisness. I think what jesus meant about helping people even if we go broke was not to let some organization like the RCC take care of it. You can't feel the personal achivement that way, If you should find someone that needs help, do it. These are the true roman catholics. The love for God Created a whole government in the RCC. The pope is changing the religion back to the way it should be, but they have dug a hole too deep. they have made commitments with other organizations. I'm sure The pope knows he can't go back, but he can go forward and slowly change things to the way they should be. I agree that the church should have a great means of communication like the pope and the vatican keeping track of everything, but I don't think they should have set interpretations or spend millions on building churches or anything. This is where the mormans. Yes I know, the missionaries are annoying going door to door. But they build a church with their own money, small and cheap. if more people come, they expand. They interpret the bible the same as the catholic church. only they add to it. They preach morals, and good ones they are. Perhaps one of the only good parts of the religion. Smith had a good idea making the religion, he wanted people to love again. it's EXACTLY like the old roman catholic church. EXACTLY!!!!!

Sad but true. Personal belief will always conquer a church. Everyone sees a different picture. That is why I'm more Taoist than anything else. I believe in a God, I believe in re-incarnation. I believe we are all part of the earth. I believe we should love, we should keep morals, we should folow our hearts.

Sorry this is so long, I thank you for reading it!

------------------
A Jedi feels the Force running through him.

Vagabond
04-20-2000, 08:08 PM
wiz,

I know..I wasn't trying to get him to reject his beliefs. But as a hypothetical, I at least wanted him to admit the possibility, just the mere possibility that the RCC could have misinterpreted something. If he could accept that remote possibility, then his mind might open to the remote possibility that both the RCC and Protestant churches could coexist harmoniously with equal validity.

But I think you hit it on the head, wiz. If he even hypothetically accepted the fallability of the RCC, then then he seems to fear that the foundation of his entire belief system would be on the verge of unraveling. It's sad if true, because this implies that Conor is not truely interested in discovering the truth, but more interested in maintaining his current beliefs, right or wrong, at any costs.

Ki,

Your belief system sounds interesting. Kind of Jedi-ish http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/wink.gif


------------------
VagabondNomad on the Zone...

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players...

Ki-Adi-Mundi
04-20-2000, 08:23 PM
hmmm.. jedi-ish. Thanks.

Actually, I think Lucas based Yoda and the Jedi on the Tao, it's alot alike. Maybe that's how it subliminally tuned me on to it. Either way, I think it's the best philosophy in the world, and since it's not a religion. I have room to take parts from other religions that turned me on... just seems natural to me. Kinda creating my own beliefs as I go along. It's just more satisfying to me finding God on your my, than looking in a book. No offence to the book people. I went that way and found nothing of interest. And if plan A fails, gotta go to Plan B. Or in other words. If you want something done right, Do it yourself.

------------------
A Jedi feels the Force running through him.

Conor
04-20-2000, 09:48 PM
Your arguments against me are all well and good. The only problem is, I get most of my information from people who weren't raised in the Catholic Church. I get most of what I argue, by far, from ex-Protestants. People who are not so entwined in belief from birth. In fact, they have rejected thier cradle beliefs to become Catholic.

You want to know why I believe that there is one perfect church? It is called the Bible.

"And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd." Jn 10:16

"...eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all." Eph 4:3-6

"I appeal to you, brethren, to take note of those who create dissensions and difficulties, in opposition to the doctrine which you have been taught; avoid them." Rom 16:17

"I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgement." 1 Cor 1:10

"...complete my joy of being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind." Phil 2:2

"May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord
Jesus Christ." Rom 15:5-6

"Sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth. As thou didst send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth.
"I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou has sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me." Jn. 17:17-23

"For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-Jews or Greeks, slaves or free-and all were made to drink of one Spirit." 1 Cor 12:13

"So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another." Rom 12:5

"And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful." Col 3:15

"God is one and Christ is one, and one is His Chruch, and the faith is one, and His people welded together by the glue of concord into a solid unity of body. Unity cannot be rent assunder, nor can the one body of the Church, through the division of its structure, be divided into separate pieces." (St. Cyprian c. 250 AD).

How you can sit there defending blatant dissensions is beyond me. I don't call rejecting the Eucharist or Peter's authority 'unity', nor do I call it 'avoiding disagreements'. The early Church certainly thought 'no dissensions' meant what it said.

As for infallible (perfect) teachings:

"When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you." Jn. 16:13-14

"These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." Jn. 14:26

"He who hears you hears me and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me." Lk 10:16

Seems to be saying to the Apostles that anyone that rejects the Apostles' teachings rejects Him. Trick there is to show the Apostles founded the Catholic Church. No difficulty there, history is certainly on my side.

"...if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth." Tim 3:15

"...teaching them to ovserve all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age." Mt 28:20

"For where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God; and where the Spirit of God, there the Church and every grace. The Spirit, however, is Truth." St. Irenaeus (c. 200) Against Heresies 3, 24, 1.

It seems more than obvious that the Church will be guided by the Holy Spirit, and that Jesus will never abandon it. If that is so, its teachings will be infallible. Like it or not, there are some contradictions between the various Christian Churches. Therefore either the Holy Spirit isn't doing His job, or one version is right and the other is wrong. Since the Church must be one, and it will be infallibly guided by the Holy Spirit, there must be one church existing today (that has always existed, otherwise there would be points where the Holy Spirit failed) that fits the bill.

More reinforcement that this Church will be unbroken in authority:

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called 'Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.' Of the increase of his goverment and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this." Is. 9:6-7

"And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall its sovereignty be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever;" Dan 2:44

"And to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. Dan 7:14

"He shall be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever;" Lk. 1:32-33

"Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock." Mt 7:24

"And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it." Mt. 16:18

"And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you." Jn. 14:16-17

How can anyone say the Church can be flawed in teaching? Is the Holy Spirit impotent then?

This is not all I have to say. There is the proof that the Church needs a heirarchy and proof of Apostolic succession. I want to see how these are received first.

------------------
"First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in."
-C.S. Lewis

Conor
04-20-2000, 10:05 PM
Wise are you Ki-Adi-Mundi to be able to choose what is right and what is wrong based on 'feeling'. After all, if it appeals to you it can't be wrong, right?

Making yourself sole authority certainly is more convenient, I'll grant you that. http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/biggrin.gif

I don't think you even know what mormons believe. It certainly has very little to do with the Bible. I'd also be happy if you made an attempt to back up your statements of the government givings so much money to the Church.

Yes I do think Jesus walked on water. I also believe He rose from the dead. I don't think 'nice guys' go around condemning everyone they think is wrong either. He certainly didn't mind offending people.

Find something the Roman Catholic Church changed. Find a doctrine that was repealed. No disciplines mind you. You'll find the Church has always believed the same things. Also name something the pope has changed or is trying to change in the deposit of faith.

------------------
"First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in."
-C.S. Lewis

theahnfahn
04-20-2000, 10:18 PM
Conor, as I have said many times now, Jesus came before us to show we must love God, love ourselves, and love our enemies. I have payed very close attention to your arguments, and the one sole thing you keep referring to, which baffles my mind simply because it goes against everything Jesus taught, was:

How you can sit there defending blatant dissensions is beyond me. I don't call rejecting the Eucharist or Peter's authority 'unity', nor do I call it 'avoiding disagreements'. The early Church certainly thought 'no dissensions' meant what it said.

Every one of your quotes aforementioned spoke of unity, but this is unity under God, unity under life and love. Blessed be the day someone is refusing your "church of Christ" when they don't think eating bread and drinking wine will do anything. And for all I am concerned, maybe it does do things for certain people. BUT, this is nothing more than a celebration, as you fail to understand. You cling to this ritual as if it MUST be done to carry out the teachings of Christ. Tell me, does some bread and wine make you any more of a Christian? Does giving Peter authority make you any more of a Christian? No. These acts supplement your faith, but they are moot. Does it matter how you pray, where you go to church, who informs you of the works of Christ, what color text your Bible is written in? More than ever I feel you cling to ritual more than a love for what you have and what you can do with it.

------------------
And there he is. The reigning champion of the Boonta Classic, and the crowd favorite-TheAhnFahn

wizzywig
04-20-2000, 10:47 PM
Conor--

I'm sad about the direction this discussion has taken. You say things like, "Your arguments against me..." and "history is certainly on my side." This has clearly become personal on some level. That has never been my intention, and I regret it. I consider you a friend and don't want to continue in a direction that would undermine that.

You continually cite the fact that "I get most of my information from people who weren't raised in the Catholic Church. I get most of what I argue, by far, from ex-Protestants. People who are not so entwined in belief from birth. In fact, they have rejected thier cradle beliefs to become Catholic." That's fine, but it establishes nothing in any objective sense. It is not evidence for truth. I know several people very well who went from Catholicism to Protestantism, one of whom is quite famous (you'd probably know his name), was raised by nuns in Catholic schools, the whole nine yards. But so what?

I read the Scripture passages with interest. You make a very good case for believing as you believe. It is not sufficiently strong to persuade me from my beliefs for the simple reason that you place interpretations on those passages that I do not accept. You impute their meaning specifically to the RCC and I impute them to the universal Christian church, not any one sect.

Example:
"For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-Jews or Greeks, slaves or free-and all were made to drink of one Spirit." 1 Cor 12:13

I would extend that to include Roman Catholics and Protestants, Fundamentalists and Pentacostals, Presbyterians and Anglicans, we are all made to drink of one Spirit. "So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another." Rom 12:5

How you can sit there defending blatant dissensions is beyond me. I don't call rejecting the Eucharist or Peter's authority 'unity', nor do I call it 'avoiding disagreements'. The early Church certainly thought 'no dissensions' meant what it said.

I have never defended dissension. I have always said factions are wrong and harmful. But I have also said that God is larger than our human disputes and frailties, and he brings good out of our human errors. I have seen it happen again and again. This is an example of the situation where I have explained my position quite clearly, in many ways, and yet you do not hear me. Then you respond (a bit heatedly, it seems) to something I never said.

You cite:

"He who hears you hears me and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me." Lk 10:16

Then say:


Seems to be saying to the Apostles that anyone that rejects the Apostles' teachings rejects Him. Trick there is to show the Apostles founded the Catholic Church. No difficulty there, history is certainly on my side.

You can't seem to grasp the fact that I am just as much an heir of the Apostles' teaching as you or any other Christian. I do not reject the Apostles' teachings. I hold fast to them.

You quote:

"For where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God; and where the Spirit of God, there the Church and every grace. The Spirit, however, is Truth." St. Irenaeus (c. 200) Against Heresies 3, 24, 1.

And say:
It seems more than obvious that the Church will be guided by the Holy Spirit, and that Jesus will never abandon it. If that is so, its teachings will be infallible. Like it or not, there are some contradictions between the various Christian Churches. Therefore either the Holy Spirit isn't doing His job, or one version is right and the other is wrong. Since the Church must be one, and it will be infallibly guided by the Holy Spirit, there must be one church existing today (that has always existed, otherwise there would be points where the Holy Spirit failed) that fits the bill.

The church is not one sect, it is the entire body of Christ. On the essentials, the entire body of Christ agrees. On nonessentials, there are points of disagreement and contradiction. There is one church today that fits the bill, as you say, and it is the entire, universal body of Christ. This is so clear to me as to not even be arguable, but I fully understand that you cannot agree.

After citing a number of passages, which I read carefully, you say:

How can anyone say the Church can be flawed in teaching? Is the Holy Spirit impotent then?

The universal church which upholds the essentials of the Christian faith, whether RCC or outside the RCC tradition, is not flawed in those essentials, even though it may be flawed in peripheral and nonessential matters. I know you feel you have made an open-and-shut case for RCC supremacy, and you think I'm crazy because I don't see it that way. But every Scripture passage you cited is more reasonably applied, in my thinking, to the total church, not just the RCC sect.

One thing I would be interested in knowing is your response to an issue I raised earlier. I mentioned the atrocities committed by the old RCC. You replied that "When a person commits evil in Christ's name it does not make Christ flawed. When a person commits evil in the name of Christ's Church, it does not make the Church's teachings flawed." I agreed, but pointed out that the atrocities were official, institutional, sactioned actions of the Church, not individuals taking renegade action. I said that when the church does evil, as the old RC church did, it disqualifies itself from presenting itself as flawless.

I also pointed out that it was the RCC's corruption that produced the division and dissension. It was not the Reformers--they attempted first to reform the church from within. I pointed out that had the RCC not sunk to such an egregious level of corruption and evil, the Reformation would have never taken place, and there would have been one church to this day. Even if you disagree with my conclusions, can you not at least agree that my thinking is logical and based on reasonable historical premises?

Can you not see that the evil of the old RCC can reasonably be viewed by a rational person as disqualifying the Church institution as flawless? And can you not see that it was the corruption of the Church, not the so-called "pride" of the Reformers, that made the Reformation if not necessary then at least inevitable?

If you cannot even minimally acknowledge that my position has logical merit (you don't have to agree with it, just admit that I am not "off-the-wall" in thinking this way), then I would see no reason to continue any further dialogue. We would, in that case, be truly shouting to each other from different planets, if not different galaxies.

--wiz

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

"We have not really budged a step until we take up residence in someone else's
point of view."
Novelist JOHN ERSKINE



[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited April 20, 2000).]

wizzywig
04-20-2000, 11:00 PM
I should mention, too, that another problem you and I have when communicating is that I am never quite sure when you use the word "church" exactly what you mean. Sometimes you mean the church institution, sometimes the church as the body of Catholic believers, sometimes the church as a body of beliefs or doctrines.

When I speak of the church per se, I always refer to the total body of believers, RCC, Protestant, Orthodox, etc. When I read of the church in the Scriptures, I normally take it the same way.

Just a point of clarification.

--wiz

Ki-Adi-Mundi
04-20-2000, 11:49 PM
You lost my point Connor, I'm sorry I offended you, This will be my last post in this topic . It's just a fight now. I know the mormon's well, My girlfriend of Years is a strict mormon.... When you go to church ask how much money your "Father" sends to the vatican. Ask how much help they actually do in your community. The RCC lost itself a long time ago.
I can tell this is your passion Conor, It used to be mine until I found how wrong everything was, and just believed my own theories. You could say I gave up. But a persons Faith cannot be judged by another.
I noticed a hint of sarcasm telling me how wise I was to follow God without Being in a set religion. That was mean. Obviously I can't believe you are Catholic anymore. I think you just go to church with everyone else and Don't actually love god. Or love at all. I don't know you any more than this board, but you haven't shown me or anyone else the actions of a catholic. You just sound angry that people aren't agreeing with your religion. Like I said in my first post here, I believe the Catholics are amazing, they can heal anyone of anything non-physical. Addiction, Loss, Depression. you name it, they can help. The Christian caring and loving is what makes it great, That is what they preach. Spreading gospel to people is optional, but it's nice to learn about it. I would recommend ending this post. I know it can be locked. This argument is just developing negative energy now.
I should have thought about what I was getting into when I got involved in the debate. I never expected to be insulted about not conforming to a single religion. I never once stated I was sole authority, I am equal to everyone else. I sincerely think this topic should be closed! Before people make enimies. Yes I am mad. I regret I even posted in here.

This is worse than Racism

[This message has been edited by Ki-Adi-Mundi (edited April 20, 2000).]

wizzywig
04-21-2000, 12:03 AM
Sorry to hear you were offended by Conor's comments, Ki. I agree that his remarks were intemperate, but I don't think he intended the harm you felt.

All in all, discussions around here tend to be very civil and instructive, including this one. I don't think we have a flame war on our hands yet, and I would hate to see the thread locked.

--wiz

<font=1>

[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited April 20, 2000).]

Conor
04-21-2000, 01:38 AM
Okay, I think I will ask you a few questions. Maybe try to clarify a few things.


I have never defended dissension. I have always said factions are wrong and harmful. But I have also said that God is larger than our human disputes and frailties, and he brings good out of our human errors. I have seen it happen again and again. This is an example of the situation where I have explained my position quite clearly, in many ways, and yet you do not hear me. Then you respond (a bit heatedly, it seems) to something I never said.


First, you have been defending the Reformation on the grounds that it was trying to accomplish something good. I don't know the motivations of Luther and Kalvin and the rest, but your defense of their actions has been based on the idea that they were trying to put the church 'back on the rails' when it had gone astray, am I right?

Maybe if you could provide any evidence whatsoever that the things the Reformation implemented (rejection of the Eucharist, rejection of Purgatory) were ever believed by the Apostles or their successors. If you could provide any evidence from the writings of early Christians that those ideas were rejected by anyone before the Reformation. If the Reformers did bring Christianity in directions it had never gone before, how could that possibly be bringing the Church 'back' to anything?

You say in your quote that you think factions are wrong, yet you defend the Reformation. That stems in part, I understand, from your belief the RCC was intrinsically corrupt at that stage. Do you have any evidence of this? The leaders were corrupt, but why should that mean anything if they don't change the teachings of the Church? Men often choose self over God. It is a historical and present fact. But if, in fact, I am right and these men didn't actually change the teachings of the Church that had been constant from the Apostles, why would the teachings of the Church be made flawed by the actions of a number of men at that period in time. If doctrine remained intact, and I am certain you will find that it did, what was the problem with the deposit of faith?

If I am right (I welcome you to post any evidence that the deposit of faith was at all different from the time of St. Ignatius) then what in the world was the Reformation trying to get 'back' to? The beliefs they espoused had been rejected since the beginning.

If the Reformation was to create a church that had never existed, surely that is a dissension to be condemned.

As for today, if the roots of the Reformation were false and in rebellion against the true Church, are not all Protestant groups still in rebellion, holding to beliefs rejected by the Church from the beginning to the Reform?


You can't seem to grasp the fact that I am just as much an heir of the Apostles' teaching as you or any other Christian. I do not reject the Apostles' teachings. I hold fast to them.


What you have just stated is an impossibility. I believe the Eucharist is central to Christianity. You believe it isn't. One of us is rejecting the Apostles' teaching on the matter (pardon the pun http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/smile.gif). You are saying all groups are equally valid. How can this be? We disagree about at least one of the fundamentals of Christianity! (I see it as fundamental, you don't, but you get my point). That is why I will now use this quote:

"To be deep into history is to cease to be Protestant." -Malcom Muggeridge.

I see history as a deciding factor on what the Apostles' teachings really were. Obviously the Bible isn't enough to sort it out. Today I am saying one thing and you are saying another. What did the first Christians say? Again I welcome you to bring forth any evidence that those that succeeded the Apostles' believed other than the Catholic Church does today. This is essential though, do you agree that the very earliest Christians would have believed the same thing as the Apostles?


The church is not one sect, it is the entire body of Christ. On the essentials, the entire body of Christ agrees. On nonessentials, there are points of disagreement and contradiction. There is one church today that fits the bill, as you say, and it is the entire, universal body of Christ. This is so clear to me as to not even be arguable, but I fully understand that you cannot agree.


But don't you see? We can't even agree on what the essentials are! How can all Christian groups be the total Church, Christ's true Church, when they all can't even agree on the essentials? If it was just disciplines that separated us that would be one thing, but Protestants and Catholics disagree on the very nature of Christianity from the Eucharist to the after-life (I still don't know your view on Purgatory, BTW).

This is one of the places I really don't see your logic. How can all these groups be the total Church, how can the Holy Spirit be guiding the true Church to disagreements within itself? This is a point you must make clearer, or I fear I will never see how logic has led you to your belief. I don't see how the true Church could have any contradictions on matters that even one side sees as essential.

I am asking you a lot of questions here. In answer to your question, I sort of and sort-of-do-not see where your logic comes from. I see that if you used certain verses at the expense of others you could say that all Christian churches are equally valid members of Christ's Church. But I can't see you taking all the verses and coming to the same conclusion.

I want to thank you for every bit of patience you've shown. If I have ever given you the impression that I don't think you are a genuine Christian, please dispel it immediately. I believe deeply (and I think I have every reason to believe it) that the Catholic Church is Christ's true Church. That leads me, by command no less, to try to get people to come 'back' to it, even if they were never there.

But I do consider a friend of God my friend, and a fellow Christian my brother in Christ.

I am sorry for insulting you with sarcasm Ki-Adi-Mundi. I should have just stated why I have always disagreed with the sort of belief pattern you entertain. I would be happy to have as civil a discussion as possible on the subject of that, and mormons if you wish.

------------------
"First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in."
-C.S. Lewis

theahnfahn
04-21-2000, 04:20 AM
Going to bed now, but I'm just wondering if you read my last post Conor? I repeat, the essentials of Christianity are to love God and love every person, whether friend or foe. Now, many things follow from this. In fact there would be no hatred, no hunger, no war - in essence world peace, if everyone followed this. This ritual you keep clinging to is (and I repeat) simply a celebration of your faith. I have never had a negative attitude for someone celebrating their love for life and God. But why should it be that we must follow your tradition of celebration? I have yet to follow your logic. Perhaps the church of Christ, immediately following the resurrection, was in essence perfect. Now, should I jump to the conclusion that since the buildings which housed the churches of that time had 6 ft. tall wooden doors that any church of the present is dissentious for not complying? Please respond to this. There is literally no meaning, no purpose, to what you cling to as a necessity whereas Wiz does not. It contributes nothing to a greater purpose.

------------------
And there he is. The reigning champion of the Boonta Classic, and the crowd favorite-TheAhnFahn

wizzywig
04-21-2000, 06:03 AM
Conor-

You raised some very good points. I want to answer them all, but I am going to start with the issue I feel most strongly about at the moment. (I have an idea for a post that answers much of the other stuff you raised in a straight-line, orderly fashion, but I probably won't get around to writing that until later.) Meanwhile, with regard to the "essentials"--

I originally wrote:

The church is not one sect, it is the entire body of Christ. On the essentials, the entire body of Christ agrees. On nonessentials, there are points of disagreement and contradiction.

To which you responded--

But don't you see? We can't even agree on what the essentials are! How can all Christian groups be the total Church, Christ's true Church, when they all can't even agree on the essentials? If it was just disciplines that separated us that would be one thing, but Protestants and Catholics disagree on the very nature of Christianity from the Eucharist to the after-life (I still don't know your view on Purgatory, BTW).

The fact that you and I can't agree on what the essentials of Christianity are does not mean they aren't clearly defined in the mind of God. Obviously they are.

You say, "How can all Christian groups be the total Church, Christ's true Church, when they all can't even agree on the essentials?" I ask you: How can I be a genuine Christian if I am not a part of Christ's true church?

I'm honestly not trying to lay a trap for you here, and I hope you won't take it that way, but you said that you consider me a genuine Christian, and I trust your sincerity in saying that. I do not believe as you do regarding the Eucharist. I take holy Communion, but I do so in a Protestant church under the understanding that it is a symbolic celebration, not a mystical and miraculous event called transubstantiation or the Real Presence. I say this is a peripheral issue, you say it is an essential issue.

But I submit to you that if this was truly an essential issue, a core issue of the Christian faith, I could not believe as I do and still be a genuine Christian. To me, an essential issue of the faith is one that defines what it means to be a Christian. Examples of essentials: Belief that Jesus is God, that I am a sinner, that He was crucified for my sins, that He died, was buried, and rose again, and is alive today. These, to me, are essentials.

The exact nature of Holy Communion/The Eucharist? That's a doctrinal matter, not an essential matter that defines whether Jesus is or is not your Lord.

When Jesus was crucified, there were also two thieves crucified on either side of Him. One believed in Him, the other cursed Him. To the one who believed, Jesus said, "Today, you will be with Me in paradise." This thief died without ever receiving a sacrament, without ever learning any doctrine, without any religious instruction or experience at all. But He had one thing: He had faith in Jesus Christ. He had the essentials. And from that example, it seems clear to me that the essentials are very few and very simple, so few and so simple that a dying thief can receive them to the fullest in his last hours on earth.

You are absolutely right in observing that churches continue to bicker over what is essential and what is not. I've heard that churches have split over whether the line in the Lord's Prayer should be recited, "Forgive us our debts," or, "Forgive us our trespasses." Some poor foolish Christian actually thought that was essential! Some believers I've met have thought that it was essential that a Christian be baptized by full immersion in water, others by sprinkling with water. I look at the thief on the cross and I see a man who was received by God without any baptism at all, without the Eucharist, without unction, without much of anything but a simple profession of faith.

And I have to conclude from that and other biblical examples that the business of making Jesus the Lord of your life is really not that complicated. It's not religion. It's a relationship.

Is any of this making sense to you? I hope I'm communicating this clearly, because I think this is probably the heart of what I would like you to understand. If we can get through this issue of what is and is not essential in the Christian faith, it seems to me that everything else becomes a slide on ice.

You also say:

This is one of the places I really don't see your logic. How can all these groups be the total Church, how can the Holy Spirit be guiding the true Church to disagreements within itself?

The Holy Spirit does not guide the true church into internal disagreements. People do that all by themselves. The Spirit guides the overall church into an understanding of the essentials. People and churches tend to add on the peripherals and nonessentials that then become sticking points and bickering points. The essence of Christianity, as revealed in the Scriptures and affirmed in our hearts by the Spirit, is really very simple.

Part of the reason we had a Reformation, I believe, is that the pure simplicity of biblical Christianity had become overlaid with complications and peripheral matters. The idea of Reform was a return to an earlier simplicity. I know you don't buy that, but I will develop the idea in a future post, and it will hopefully make more sense to you.

I don't see how the true Church could have any contradictions on matters that even one side sees as essential.

I want to underscore this: The fact that people or a given church see an issue as essential does not mean that God sees it as essential. The RCC once considered the geocentric view of the universe essential enough to burn a man at the stake for his views (Bruno) and force another to recant under threat (Galileo). It is safe to say that not only did God not consider that an essential issue, but the Creator certainly must have been dismayed and grieved to see the church take the utterly wrong side of the debate!

Don't get me wrong, I do understand that this is not a "Deposit of Faith" issue. I am just trying to illustrate how harmful it can be to treat as an essential something that is really a peripheral issue. I also would like you to see how truly few in number (and great in importance) the truly essential issues are.

I hope this has been a helpful explication of my views. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to expand on them.

--wiz



[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited April 21, 2000).]

Darth Kurgan
04-21-2000, 12:35 PM
Unless I missed something, I don't think anybody defined "infallible."

It doesn't mean "ineffable" (perfect, free from all imperfection).

In the sense that the Pope speaks infallibly (I don't think anybody ever claimed the institutional Catholic Church was "infallible" in everything), it is only when he speaks on behalf of the Council of Cardinals and the rest on a matter of faith and morals. Most of what the Pope says is NOT considered "infallible" in that sense, nor is it considered ineffable.

It can't be anything that outrightly contradicts sacred tradition in the Church. It doesn't mean whatever any Catholic says is actually God's sacred Word talking or that Christians or Catholic Christians are perfect people or always perfectly consistent in their behavior.

Sort of like does the United States past crimes mean that Americans are all bad people, or that the system of "Democracy" (as we call it) is inherently flawed and wrong and should be abolished? Does it mean that systems like Communism (who are totally against our system) are then correct? I think most would say no. So then why apply that standard to a religion or a church?

At one time, the US supreme court basically said, "yes, blacks are inferior, and slavery is acceptable" and they defended an institution most of us today find unspeakable and indefensible. Yet they still live here and approve of the system that did that very thing. And many today will point at the Abortion issue and others and say "look, they are NOT representing my views" yet they don't say to abolish or abandon the entire system outright.

Something to think about.

The RCC is not a dictatorship, but there is a hierarchy of spiritual authority. Ultimately, God is the final authority, but interpreting God's Word/Law is always up for grabs it seems. And most would agree that this is how the early Church portrayed in the NT was for most people at that time.

Ultimately, there is still this thing called "faith." You can make a convincing argument, based on history, statistics, trends, etc that a particular Church is "correct" or "more correct" than some other Church (or even religion, etc) but you cannot totally establish it as fact (as far as I know.. at least I haven't been able to yet.. if you can, let me know, I'd love to hear your arguments). So we could, I suppose ALL be wrong, but if that's the case, why even bother arguing about it? ; )

Even a denomination that says the buck stops with the Bible still has a problem. Who has authority to interpret the Bible correctly? Any fool can see that two people will interpret it differently on any given area just about. Obviously there are at least more than one interpretation for most if not all of the Bible. If there's anything I learned in my studies, it was that people disagree over most of the text we call "the Bible" and even on what books should be included in it.

Alot of good comments, as long as we can keep it civil, we can accomplish much in the way of discussion. At least we can get our ideas/opinions out! ; )

Kurgan

[This message has been edited by Darth Kurgan (edited April 21, 2000).]

wizzywig
04-21-2000, 05:16 PM
Kurgan--

This whole line of discussion was kicked off by your question as to people's religious/philosophical/cultish/spiritual affiliation/mindset. I posted:

I have continually tried to distill my beliefs to a pure first century Christianity, stripping away overlays of distortion and dead tradition. I try to continually rediscover and practice the living Christianity of Christ.

To which Conor posted:

It is my unwavering belief that [the Roman Catholic Church] is the complete and unchanged way of life Christ founded roughly 2000 years ago. It is that original Christianity Wiz was talking about.

I wanted to make sure that there was no misunderstanding of my position because of Conor's statement, and clarified that I do not consider the RCC to be synonymous with what I called "pure first century Christianity." While I respect the RCC, I believe that the historical RCC has added an overlay of belief and tradition and practice that did not exist in the church of Acts, the church of the New Testament letters of Paul, Peter, James, et al.

From that ensued a discussion in which Conor attempted to prove to me that the RCC is "the one true church." I have explained my belief, based on Scripture and personal experience and observation, that the actual "one true church" is the entire Christian church, roughly 2 billion people of all biblical Christian traditions, all of whom equally trace their lineage to Jesus and the apostles and the church of Acts.

I have posted strong criticism of the historical RCC not in an attempt to bash the church or frame it as inferior--I have specifically and repeatedly stated my respect and admiration for what the RCC is today. But the corruption and evil that was systemic in the RCC at the time of the Reformation is beyond question.

My point in stating so is to show that, contrary to what Conor keeps pressing on me, the RCC cannot hold itself up as infallible or ineffable or even superior to any other branch of Christianity--that the RCC is not "the one true church." All churches (including the RCC) are made up of fallible people, and even to some degree (as Jesus and Paul both predicted would happen) a certain number of evil and false people who are not genuine Christians.

So IMO no denomination or sect has the claim on the title "the one true church." It is a claim not supported by Scripture or history. That is the crux of the discussion, from my p.o.v.

Kurgan, you write:

Even a denomination that says the buck stops with the Bible still has a problem. Who has authority to interpret the Bible correctly? Any fool can see that two people will interpret it differently on any given area just about. Obviously there are at least more than one interpretation for most if not all of the Bible.

That is a common view, but I strongly, strongly, intensely disagree. I submit to you that from 95 to 99 percent of the Bible is clear and unambiguous. The statement that "Obviously there are at least more than one interpretation for most if not all of the Bible" is profoundly untrue from where I'm sitting. Passages that relate to essential issues of faith are very clear.

The passages that are disputable tend to be in more peripheral matters, and that is why there are denominations--minor variations over this or that nonessential issue. The essential issues are not disputable, which is why denominations that differ over small things are still able to cooperate together and embrace each other as fellow Christians. All Christian denominations and sects recognize the core issues of the Bible that are commonly accepted and easily understood.

I really detest this dangerous and false idea that the Bible is a big Rorschach test that we can read into as we please, that it is this big wad of Silly Putty that can be stretched and shaped any way we please. It really is a very firm and clear and unmistakeable document.

I think it is important to note that the Reformation took place not over a difference in interpretation of any Scripture, but over traditions and practices and beliefs that had accrued over hundreds of years following the close of the canon of Scripture.

--wiz



[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited April 21, 2000).]

wizzywig
04-21-2000, 06:47 PM
Btw, Good Friday blessings to everyone. It's a profound, sobering, meaningful observance. But in the words of a saintly Black preacher, "It's Friday--but Sunday's comin'!"

--wiz

Conor
04-21-2000, 07:55 PM
You have certainly made it clear what you believe, and I think I now get a lot of why you believe.

I still think most of your reasons are founded on misconception and error though.

Funnily enough, you say:


I really detest this dangerous and false idea that the Bible is a big Rorschach test that we can read into as we please, that it is this big wad of Silly Putty that can be stretched and shaped any way we please. It really is a very firm and clear and unmistakeable document.


I see you doing exactly this. I see you as taking obvious statements "For my flesh is food indeed and my blood is drink indeed." Jn. 6:55 and twisting them to mean something Jesus could never have intended.

A great deal of your conclusions seem to hinge on the idea that the Reformers were trying to go 'back' to something pure. I have seen precious little (read: none) evidence that they were trying to go back to anything that ever existed. You say you will go into this, and I am really looking forward to what you could possibly post. http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/smile.gif

This is something I don't know for sure, but I'd wager the rituals and 'periphials' you talk of were well in place by the end of the first century, with the full blessing of the Apostles. The Eucharist certainly was, since the very first one happened before Jesus even died (yes I know you disagree with this).

How a Christian could be genuine and yet not part of the true Church is something I haven't really delved into, so I don't think I have a good explanation of the Church's teaching on the matter right now.

My thoughts on the matter are that in order for a Church to be the true one its teachings must totally in line with Christ's Will. I think being a genuine Christian owes a lot to our motivations. Are we trying to follow Christ to the best of our ability? Stumble though we do, and frequently.

Take the Thief. He had not heard Christ's teachings (maybe some, but certainly he hadn't been following Him around), but he knew enough to give himself to Christ. If he had survived, he would have found out what exactly Christ did teach and would have done his best to follow Him. He did not have the time, so he was saved because he gave himself to Jesus.

On a personal note, I'm sure that if I rejected the RCC and joined some other church, I would be rejecting Jesus because I would be leaving what I know to be His true Church. Does that mean everyone in that Church I joined is rejecting Jesus? I say no, because they do not know the RCC is the true Church.

As for being essential, you say this:


The fact that people or a given church see an issue as essential does not mean that God sees it as essential.


I can say this with equal conviction: The fact that people or a given church do not see an issue as essential does not mean that God does not see it as essential.

I am kind of going through your posts from the bottom up, so excuse me if the order seems a bit strange.

When you say one of the essentials is that Jesus died for our sins, I don't think you fully realize that the Eucharist is the actual sacrafice. The RCC believes it is real. I think everyone who doesn't celebrate the Eucharist as real is not obeying Christ fully. But they think they are, and that is everything.

Obviously, more will be accomplished here by praying for the grace of understanding. We have said our pieces, and I think I will simply pray this weekend unless other discussions come up. I strongly urge you to read 'The Fourth Cup' by Scott Hahn in that link on the second page. It is profoundly insightful.

I haven't forgotten you TAF.


I repeat, the essentials of Christianity are to love God and love every person, whether friend or foe. Now, many things follow from this.


Yes, many things do follow from this, including Jesus' command to 'obey my commandments'. It is the RCC view that the Non-RCC churches have interpreted Jesus' commandments and many truths believed by the Apostles incorrectly. We want them to come back to the truth.

First we must give ourselves to Jesus, then we must obey Him in all things. The RCC believes, for very good reasons, that Jesus founded a Church that had a Apostolic heirarchy to be its gaurdian and rituals designed to praise God (like churches, why would God's house not be glorious and magestic when possible?). We believe any church not following such teachings to be out of synch with Jesus' Will on the matter.

------------------
"First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in."
-C.S. Lewis

Vagabond
04-21-2000, 08:50 PM
Conor,

Even though you're a fine person, this is exactly the reason why I refuse to ever debate anything with you ever again. You refuse, let me repeat REFUSE to even CONSIDER the hypothetical possiblity that YOU might be the one who is in error. That's right, YOU. I think everyone here has been more than forthcoming in admitting their own imperfection, except for you. Basically, you're perfect and we're all freaking morons, isn't that right? We're stupid and you know better. It's at times like this Conor when I could just strangle you.

Let me hear you say it Conor...come on...say it. Let's hear you state for the board that it is possible that you could might be the one who is in error. Everyone, I wager that we won't ever see such a statement from Conor. I'll say it about myself though: I've been wrong, I'm probably wrong about some things today - probably even in this post, and I'm convinced that I'll be wrong about some things in the future.

I want to hear Conor come out and say that, with regard to the topic of this thread, it is possible that he could be in error rather than everyone else.

Let's hear it Conor. Either surprise me by admitting to the remote possibility that you could be in error about all this, or simply reinforce my current views about your close-mindedness. The ball's in your court buddy.


------------------
VagabondNomad on the Zone...

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players...

wizzywig
04-21-2000, 09:45 PM
*sigh*

Conor
04-21-2000, 11:49 PM
I have admitted on a number of occasions that I have been wrong, and that I could be wrong. I admitted I was wrong about my definition of 'church'. I guess you weren't listening. http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/smile.gif

On this matter, I'm not talking about me. I'm not talking about predictions about sports or ideas about government. I am speaking about my Church.

I am a flawed human being, like everyone else. But unless I have incorrectly stated Catholic teaching on any matter then I am certain the chances of me being wrong are zero. None.

Not the answer you wanted I am sure, but you did say you wanted the truth. http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/biggrin.gif

------------------
"First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in."
-C.S. Lewis

Conor
04-22-2000, 04:19 AM
I've been thinking about my statement, and I'd like to modify it.

I firmly believe that I am right in this matter, and I have seen no evidence that would be at all valid against my reasons for believing so. But is there a chance...?

I don't know. For the sake of humility I should say there could be a chance. So I will, I don't see a how, but I will say there could be a chance I could be wrong about this.

I hope everyone will accept my modification. http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/tongue.gif

theahnfahn
04-22-2000, 04:59 AM
Well, I basically see no difference in your Christianity as opposed to Wiz's, except for certain things I hardly consider essential. Actually, I see them as downright pointless, except for what I have mentioned earlier about them being a celebration of your faith. From what I have read I have seen literally no evidence in the Bible to warrant any statement to say that a ritualistic celebration of your faith is necessary. Seriously, I fail to see how Wiz can love God, love Christ, follow his teachings, and still not be considered everything inherent in a Christian. At this point I'm sure your argument is that Wiz fails to interpret the teachings of Christ correctly. Now, many submit here that your exhaustive attempts of persuasion that everything your church teaches is entirely correct are far from convincing, so I see no harm in them holding steadfast to where they always have. Please, I know you have spent numerous hours presenting every fact you can possibly muster to qualify your assumption, and I admire that. I think all the facts have been presented now, and even then our interpretations of what you present we should interprate in the Bible disagree. Get that mouthful? I just don't think an agreement can be reached when you argue with certainty you are correct and we argue this is not the case. I think if any further discussion is to take place we leave this "certainty" behind. All you can give us right now is reason to believe Conor. Only we can decide whether or not we can go from there to declare it is impossible that we could be wrong.

------------------
And there he is. The reigning champion of the Boonta Classic, and the crowd favorite-TheAhnFahn

Kurgan
04-22-2000, 09:05 PM
If anyone can show me where I missed something (again) but the Protestant Reformation happened because of differences of opinion over ecclesiastical authority, the translation of the Bible into vernacular tongues, the sale of indulgences, and over whether or not priests could marry.

Yeah, there were 95 theses, but those were the important points.

It was also over doctrine, as the Reformers insisted on Sola Scriptura and Sola Fidela (sp?), two things that the RCC rejected.

Doctrinal differences and the authority issue were what split the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches earlier.

The Church of England was over divorce, and authority again.

So we can see politics enters into it as well as doctrine and other points.

As far as I know, there was no debate over "suppressing the truth" persecutions of scientists or heretics, or excesses committed during the crusades or what not.

Much as people like to point out the mistakes the RCC made in the past, it seems that most of them, even the biggest ones, were not addressed by the Reformers.

If I'm wrong, simply show me what I missed, thanks (anyone).

Is there any religious group that cannot claim to have ever commited any crimes in the name of religion in the past? Well maybe some Churches that have formed in the last 50 years or so (and haven't had a chance to do anything bad).. but other than that. This goes back to the "human institution" thing.
Do bad leaders and past mistakes invalidate an institution?

And if the institution is invalidated by this, are its teachings also invalidated?

Or is it like Jesus said of the Pharisees "do as they say, not as they do" ?

Kurgan

Kurgan
04-22-2000, 09:25 PM
I do not, however, expect that Conor should question the church as potentially fallible. A good Catholic could never do that.

I think I see a bit of blindness on both sides here. No offense guys. ; )

I admit that my Church could be wrong, I could be wrong, and we ALL could be wrong.

Maybe there are actually 992 gods and they all hate us, and if we worship them, they will get mad and hurt us, and when you die, you don't go to heaven, or hell, you just turn into cotton candy. But these gods also want us to walk on our hands and dye our hair purple. If we fail to do this, they will kick our @#$@#.

We might all be wrong!

However, I have hope, that we can find something that is close to the truth, and hold onto that. As far as doctrinal arguments, I don't know if you can really ever convince somebody if they don't want to be convinced. The evidence itself can be interpreted.

I can SEE the Protestant viewpoint, and I don't agree with it, but I can see where they are coming from, where their mindset is. I can see people like Conor's viewpoint as well. However, I think I am not sharing either viewpoint of either person really.

I guess we all tend to erect our own barriers to what we see as stuff we need to protect and defend. And these are simply classic examples of debates and arguments we see here.

I mainly wish to hear other points of view so I can LEARN why they think what they think if it is different from my own beliefs. I also wish to see if there is anything in their own beliefs that I agree with, just for the sake of my own edification. If not, I at least will know how to talk to these people, with their beliefs in mind.

So that's why I do it, otherwise, it's kind of pointless unless you can convert people to your way of thinking every time.

Some people just like to argue for its own sake, and I guess that's okay too, but eventually you have to take a stand somewhere.

Oh and btw, I know some people like to say Confucianism, Taoism, or Hindu or Buddhist schools are NOT religion. Well then how do you define religion? For all practical purposes they are. Just because you don't worship a God or gods doesn't mean you aren't a religion. These aren't self-help movements, they are religious systems. And what's so "bad" about "organized" religion with a developed theology or system as opposed to Joe Shmo interpreting the Bible based on his own personal biases and wishful thinking? I don't think you can really say anybody is better or worse just based on how many people are in the group or how much money they have or how long they've been around (or you have to invalidate alot of systems that many people hold dear).

Well the whole Jedi thing seems to be a conglomeration of religious systems (it's got a sci fi twist of course). Humanist, Taoist, Confucianist, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, and others I am sure. It's a metaphor for religion, in a fictional setting of course. We the use and misuse of spiritual power in a galaxy far, far away called "The Force."

Kurgan

[This message has been edited by Kurgan (edited April 22, 2000).]

Kurgan
04-22-2000, 10:52 PM
As I finally get through this thread.. wow.

This is worse than Racism



I don't think this is a fair statement. Nobody is doing anything of the sort here. We are disagreeing over ideas. While I have seen implications from both sides that the other must be holding onto a system that is "evil" (which they may actually believe is true) I don't think anyone is actually condeming the other outright.

To say that another person does not love God is not something they can know from this message board. This judgement simply shouldn't be made. Judge not, lest you be judged they say. Everyone has a right to an opinion though, and by expressing your opinion, you can know what others think of your opinion. By asking questions, you can know what others think.

The facts can and are interpreted.

I will say, that the God Thread got very heated at times, yet it was not locked. I saw no need to do so, because we were doing alot of good. We had people bashing religion, and people bashing each other. However, we were able to work beyond that and most of the posters were mature enough to be able to rise above it and enter into more meaningful discussion.

This is just a phase, so don't let it bother you too much. We should all be conscious of our predjudices on the table. Realize that centuries of debate probably won't be resolved once and for all on this board, but we may all walk away with just a bit more understanding of the other fellow. This should be a lesson worth learning.

I think more good than harm can come of this, and so we shouldn't let little setbacks halt the process. If somebody hurt your feelings, say so, but realize that this kind of discussion can do that, if you aren't careful. We have to realize that others are often bound to disagree with us, often vehemetly. So be prepared to hear negative feedback at times.

Any comments?

Kurgan

Conor
04-23-2000, 12:31 AM
I'm certainly ok with letting this rest.

There will always be other topics. http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/biggrin.gif

wizzywig
04-23-2000, 05:51 AM
Kurgan--

Thanks for chiming in. You had been conspicuously absent till now. http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/wink.gif


...the Protestant Reformation happened because of differences of opinion over ecclesiastical authority, etc....
It was also over doctrine, as the Reformers insisted on Sola Scriptura and Sola Fidela (sp?), two things that the RCC rejected....
As far as I know, there was no debate over "suppressing the truth" persecutions of scientists or heretics, or excesses committed during the crusades or what not.

You're absolutely right. I don't think anyone claimed that heretic-toasting or other excesses were at issue in the Reformation--at least I never said so. I think you inadvertantly smooshed two different lines of discussion into one. Yes, the Reformation split was about doctrine and authority, etc.

Where the corruption and excesses come in, at least where I introduced it, was in regard to Conor's claim that the church should be considered perfect in some ineffable and transcendent sense. He said that the church as an entity cannot be held responsible for the renegade actions of individuals, acting contrary to the deposit of faith of that church. I made the point that it was not renegade individuals, but the church qua church, acting quite officially and corporately, that elected corrupt popes (sometimes involving simony), burned innocent people as heretics, suppressed the truth, etc. These were not the actions of a few rogue individuals, but the actions of the church.

My point there is that I, as an outsider, can quite reasonably look at this history and conclude that the church is disqualified from claiming any sort of meaningful perfection. If it is perfect in its doctrine, that perfection should be reflected in its official actions. Clearly, there was a deep and lengthy low point in church history that reasonably undermine the claim of perfection. If the church is perfect in some ineffable way, what good is that to the people who are being oppressed, exploited, and burned at the stake?

I think it is a reasonable argument for me to make regarding my own view of the RCC. I would not expect Conor to agree, and I didn't ask him to. I only hoped that if he could just hypothetically step into my viewpoint for a moment, he would understand my pov, and this would lesson the need he seems to feel to convert me to RCCdom. I don't mind his evangelical (for lack of a better word! http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/wink.gif) zeal, and I'm enjoying and learning from the discussion, but I am disappointed that he can't even grant that there is any degree of rationality to my pov.

Much as people like to point out the mistakes the RCC made in the past, it seems that most of them, even the biggest ones, were not addressed by the Reformers.

You're right. But that, as I explained above was not the point I was making. The mistakes of the past argument is related to the question of the RCC's perfection or fallibility, not to the merits or demerits of the Reformation. That's a separate (or at least semi-separate) issue.

Is there any religious group that cannot claim to have ever commited any crimes in the name of religion in the past?

That is, in a way, what I've been saying all along. All religious groups are comprised of human beings who are fallible. The RCC claims it is the perfect one true church, and Conor so believes. I do not. I think with good reason. Conor thinks I twist Scripture, ignore history, etc., but I am convinced in my own mind that I do not. And that, I think, sort of sums up the nub of the discussion.

Do bad leaders and past mistakes invalidate an institution?

No. I've stated in as many ways as I know how that I have enormous respect for the present day RCC. It is not invalidated by its past mistakes. But IMO, the concept that the RCC is doctrinally infallible and the one true church is fatally undermined by history.

And if the institution is invalidated by this, are its teachings also invalidated?

Not invalidated. But if the church claims its teachings are perfect and infallible, yet it officially, from the pope on down, has at times demonstrated incredible corruption, atrocity, injustice, oppression, etc., then we have to wonder what good it does for a church to have "infallible" beliefs alongside tyrannical conduct.

We go back to the James 2 issue: Faith without works is dead. If a church has perfect faith and atrocious works, what good is it? James 2:18--'But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.' I don't think it is a stretch at all to apply to a church the same principle God applies to an individual.

You quote my words:
I do not, however, expect that Conor should question the church as potentially fallible. A good Catholic could never do that.
Then say:
I think I see a bit of blindness on both sides here. No offense guys. ; )

Show me the nature of my blindness so that I may see. You say you admit that your Church could be wrong, maybe 992 gods, etc. But Conor does not, and that was the discussion we were having. I say all churches are infallible, from my pov, based on the evidence I can see. That's the only conclusion I can come to. And I believe the conclusion of RCC perfection is the only conclusion Conor can come to, in that even entertaining any contrary possibility is tantamount to blasphemy in his mind.

I could be wrong, and we ALL could be wrong.

I not only admit the POSSIBILITY, I'll go you one better: I know I AM wrong. About a lot of things. Which ones? I don't know yet. If I knew, I'd change them and then I'd be right. I am constantly, constantly finding out I'm wrong about something. Though my core values and beliefs are pretty tightly welded to the evidence I've uncovered in recent years, my peripheral views are in constant, even daily flux as new data streams through the information gates of my mind, providing continual correction and readjustment.

I can SEE the Protestant viewpoint, and I don't agree with it, but I can see where they are coming from, where their mindset is. I can see people like Conor's viewpoint as well. However, I think I am not sharing either viewpoint of either person really.

I agree with you. In past discussions, I've always found that you are able to ease yourself in and out of other people's points of view without ever relaxing your grip on your own.

Some people just like to argue for its own sake, and I guess that's okay too, but eventually you have to take a stand somewhere.

I've known people who like to argue for argument's sake. Devils' advocates, they call themselves, and I don't enjoy the company of people who enjoy taking the Devil's side of all arguments. But I know that Conor and I have both been pursuing this from a standpoint of intellectual honesty and sincerity. I have learned a lot from it, which is why I pursued it.

I was pretty sure that Conor was not going to convert me to RCCism, but at the same time I wanted to approach it with an attitude of sincere openness to new data.

I genuinely like Conor and admire and affirm his conviction, and appreciate the challenge he has been to my own intellect and the information I have gained from the exchange. I am filing these dialogues away on my hard drive for future reference.

Thanks for your insights, Kurgan.

--wiz

wizzywig
04-23-2000, 06:27 AM
Conor--

I'm certainly ok with letting this rest.
There will always be other topics.


Are you saying you would prefer to let it rest? I can see the logic of that, in that if the point of the discussion was to alter my views, then it appears that we are not going to reach that hoped-for conclusion.

I have learned a lot and I think it has been a valuable mental (and spiritual) exercise. And I have my previously promised mega-post sketched out in my mind and was preparing to begin writing it after Easter.

But it is not something I have to do, and if you feel that the critical moment has passed and you have no great interest in pursuing the discussion further, i'm okay with that. Perhaps this discussion has, indeed, Petered out (wink-wink).

(**Collective groan!**)

Well, what do you expect on two hours sleep?

--wiz

Conor
04-23-2000, 06:57 PM
Well, I would certainly be interested in any light you can bring to your statements that the Reformation was trying to get back to some original church.

Contrary to what it must seem, I am interested in what other people believe and why. If, at times, only for the reason that knowing the other side makes debate easier. http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/smile.gif

I think a rather large stumbling block here would be that you think the leaders of the RCC acting contrary to RCC teachings means the RCC is compromising itself. I think I can see why you would think this. Is it because you think anything the leaders of the Church do is by extension what the Church actually condones?

I of course don't see it that way. I simply see human frailty and greed in people who should know better. If you could find an example where the Pope nullified or changed previously concrete parts of the deposit of faith while speaking ex cathedra (I think that is the correct spelling) that would be different.



------------------
"First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in."
-C.S. Lewis

theahnfahn
04-23-2000, 07:06 PM
If you could find an example where the Pope nullified or changed previously concrete parts of the deposit of faith...

Thou shalt not kill.

Enough said.

------------------
And there he is. The reigning champion of the Boonta Classic, and the crowd favorite-TheAhnFahn

Conor
04-23-2000, 07:22 PM
I said when speaking ex cathedra (I don't have an exact definition of this at the moment, but I'm sure Kurgan does). The Pope isn't infallible in everything he does. We don't believe that way. We are assured he won't changed the actual teachings of the Church. He is still human and the choice to reject the teachings is still his. He just won't change them.

Besides, very few popes have been as bad as that. Overall the Cardinals have done a pretty good job of electing holy men to the position.

Which brings me to something else. TAF, you want to know why we think all the ins and outs of the Catholic Church are an intrinsic part of Christianity. The crux of it is, we believe in no uncertain terms that Jesus left behind the Apostles, with Peter at their head, to safeguard the Church and appoint successors to do the same. We believe the Pope is the steward of Jesus, and has authority over Christianity. If the Church decided this thing or that thing is important I think it would be wrong to reject them based on our own ideas of what we should do.

Did that make sense?

Ikhnaton
04-24-2000, 01:52 AM
the proper translation is "thou shalt not murder", and there is no instance where the Pope has declared officially to the whole church that *murder* is okay in any circumstance. And if you mean to imply stuff about crusades and all, read the Old Testament. God has the Israelites fighting wars all the time. The crusades wasn't the best of ideas, but it started out as a good intention. That doesn't mean the Pope officially declared that murder is suddenly ok now...

theahnfahn
04-24-2000, 02:11 AM
NO. I'm shocked you think that way.

The crux of it is, we believe in no uncertain terms that Jesus left behind the Apostles, with Peter at their head, to safeguard the Church and appoint successors to do the same. We believe the Pope is the steward of Jesus, and has authority over Christianity. If the Church decided this thing or that thing is important I think it would be wrong to reject them based on our own ideas of what we should do.

If the Pope, in whatever circumstance decides to KILL, then that in itself destroys everything you stand by and I can't believe you still hold your position. You believe the Pope is the steward of Jesus, and he represents YOUR CHURCH, so his presentation to you of the doctrine you hold to so dearly should be perfect. The Pope, you say, is appointed to safeguard the Church, yet you openly admit the Pope can be corrupt. Are you so blind? I simply see no logic whatsoever in your argument. Let me put things so plainly for you, in hopes you will understand.

From your last sentence, you basically are saying we are corrupt individuals, incapable of interpreting the Bible for ourselves. It is un-christian to do so, in your point of view. So we lay this task in the hands of others, who you admit are corrupt individuals. For whatever reason (and you have given none, save they classify themselves as do you) these individuals preserve and should exemplify the teachings of Christ. Yet, as we have all seen, this is not the case.

I simply don't know what else to tell you Conor. This is in no way a matter of any Church. Buildings, priests, Popes, water sprinkled on your head, eating bread and drinking wine - what possibly does this serve towards a love for life, mankind, and God? Wait, let me rephrase that. Why are those things any better for a celebration of your faith than anything else?

Perhaps you are more entrapped in tradition than you could ever possibly understand Conor. You keep clinging to this one thing - that the doctrine of the RCC has been unchanged throughout the years. I think the customs and traditions have remained unchanged, but not the teachings of Christ. This is your problem. What is only necessarily left unchanged is how and what we should love and what it means if we live as did Jesus. Anything else is just custom and tradition of that time period. I really am interested in what you could possibly say to this.

------------------
And there he is. The reigning champion of the Boonta Classic, and the crowd favorite-TheAhnFahn

theahnfahn
04-24-2000, 02:19 AM
Ikhnaton-
I think you as well are properly misinformed. Prior to the coming of Jesus, things couldn't possibly be presented in perfection. God openly allowed for killing. Yet once Christ came, a lesson could be taught. You always turn the other cheek. Love your enemies, no matter what, and having faith in God will ensure your well-being and safety. How can any killing whatsoever serve a purpose? Even in self defense one can nearly always find a way around it. If every man on this earth knew that killing was wrong there would be no death, no destruction. Some of my fellow Christian friends nearly exiled me from their presence when I said I would never, under any circumstance, kill a man. Not even for the sake of my country, fighting in a war. "But there are always bad guys, always people we must kill to ensure safety, Democracy, etc." Well, if even one person thinks that way then there is at least one bad person in the world.

------------------
And there he is. The reigning champion of the Boonta Classic, and the crowd favorite-TheAhnFahn

Conor
04-24-2000, 05:45 AM
Pardon me TAF, but I found your second post disturbing as heck. Since extreme examples usually make points clearer. Look at the Nazis. I for one am glad so many men thought stopping them was worth killing and dying for. Saying 'killing is always wrong, no matter what' is all well and good, but it isn't realistic in any but a perfect world. This world is not perfect. Such things as the Nazis must be stood up to.

If you can't see yourself killing someone in any circumstances, good for you. I will not condemn those that made it possible to debate on this forum and hold such views as Christianity and Democracy.

As for my views on Christianity, the steward role of Peter and his successors is inescapable for me and many, many others. The Pope's role is not to rule like a king. Nor is it to be perfect (although that would be nice). At many points during the history of Christianity heresies popped up and had to be dealt with. It is usual that a council is called to discuss and debate the issue and show why the heresy is incorrect or to resolve an issue that some may be confused about.

One similar case is the creation of the Bible. There were many, many writings floating around in the first four centuries. Most people had their pet writings that they considered inspired and there were many arguments about which writing were truly inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Pope as steward of Christ has the ultimate decision in the matter of faith and morals, so he decided to call a council together (that of Carthage, 397) to decide once for all which books were canon. After much prayer and debate the books of the New Testament we see today were decided on and the Hebrew writings were added to them. Then the Pope used his authority to make the Bible finalized. He ended any debate, and everyone had no choice but to accept his decision.

Now, all Christians today accept the books of the New Testament as infallible and inspired by God. Based soley on that council and the Pope's (I don't recall his name at the moment) final choice in the matter. That Pope was certainly a sinner, yet every Christian today believes his decision was right, and that he could in fact speak for the whole of Christianity on the matter.
Does it matter which sins he committed? All sins are in opposition to church teaching. Some (very few) Popes were truly not fit for the role, that is a sad fact, but despite everything they did their authority as the steward of Christ in matters of faith and morals was never abused. Somehow the Holy Spirit managed to work around them and keep the keep the Church going through the bad times.

All the ritual and tradition in the Church serves a purpose. Whether it be to make better people out of ourselves or to help us worship God or for some other reason the Church decided they were for the best. I don't know the reasons for many of them, but I trust in the Holy Spirit's guidance of the Church.

Please don't lump the Eucharist in with rituals and the like. We believe it is something entirely different, something Jesus commanded us to do, the partaking of the Passover sacrafice, the unblemished Lamb of God for the expiation of our sins.


------------------
"First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in."
-C.S. Lewis

wizzywig
04-24-2000, 08:58 AM
Conor--

Well, I would certainly be interested in any light you can bring to your statements that the Reformation was trying to get back to some original church.

You got it. I'll be posting it in a day or two.

Hope you and everyone else had a terrific Easter--our family sure did.

<font size=1>[Note to myself--don't forget to tell Conor the Barry McGuire story...]</font>

--wiz

Kurgan
04-24-2000, 12:23 PM
I'm getting behind again.. I see I am responding to comments made much earlier in the thread.. doh!

Anyway, Wiz, thanks much for your comments. I don't expect you to agree with me on all issues. I am not in perfect agreement with people like Conor either. I do appreciate all of your comments, and that's why I started the thread (although I had intended merely a simple poll of what people identified themselves with, oh well, hehe).

The statement that "Obviously there are at least more than one interpretation for most if not all of the Bible" is profoundly untrue from where I'm sitting.

Apparently, for millions (if not billions) of people, WHAT the Bible says is very important. If it is God's word, then don't you think we ought to know what it says?

I am well aware that many denominations have a doctrine that says Scripture is unambigious. Surely if you believe the Holy Spirit moves a person to truth, that a person can be made to understand the Holy Word by God himself? That is, if I'm reading, and I think it means X, when in truth it means Y, wouldn't God simply make me change to the correct interpretation? (sorry, I had to correct my typo!)

Muslims say the same thing about the Qu'ran. God will make sure you have the correct interpretation.

But logically, can it really mean ALL of the things people say it mean? Not everyone who has an alternative interpretation takes it out of context. They would see the ENTIRE BIBLE in that light, and explain away contradictions. For example, those who believe in the Trinity vs. someone who does not, they will see passages in light of their belief, and downplay, or interpret symbolically passages that seem to disagree with their doctrinal belief. I'm not saying one is right or wrong, but they can't both be right, can they? I never said the bible can mean anything you wish it to mean, but certainly there are some pretty wild interpretations out there, and who are we to say that they are 100% wrong and on what grounds?

That is one belief (that scripture is unambigious, and/or that God will lead you always to the correct interpretation). Others would say, no, it is perfectly possible to interpret it incorrectly.

The trouble is, we didn't live through those events, and we can't ask the authors themselves, and most of us don't speak/read the original languages, so we are bound to have interpretations, and different ones at that.

I ask you, are Gnostics Christians? Yes, those guys are still around (maybe it would be more proper to say they RESURFACED because of the gnostic gospels that were recently discovered in the last century).
They certainly refer to themselves as Christians, in fact most would say they are the TRUE Christians. They actually comprise many sects. Some believe that yes, Jesus is God, but so are all of the elect. We are "pieces" of God. Aeons, they are called. The OT God, they say, is actually an inferior minor deity.

They have some really complex beliefs, including that matter is inherently evil, that not all can be saved (only the elect), that woman are not worthy of the heavenly glory, that there may be more than one God, that the rest of Christians are corrupt in belief and decieved, etc.

Can these folks be considered Christians? Some of them even deny that Jesus had a physical body. They say that he only appeared to die on the cross, but really did not.

So they would certainly disagree over "essentials."

It makes one wonder, what really is important? If it is what TAF said, then isn't also a Jew just as right as a Christian? And a Muslim? etc...

Clearly, there are more issues than can be simply cleared up by viewing the issue from ones own denominational point of view.

To somebody like Conor, there are essential issues, and to you, there are essential issues, and to a Gnostic, there are essential issues, and to a Jehovah's Witness, etc.

And are whackos like Charles Manson who say that the Book of Revelation is referring to the Beatles, are they also Christians? Do these guys miss the unambigious meaning of scripture, and if so, how do they do it if 95% of it is so clear?

If it's all so clear, how come most Christians, Jews and Muslims disagree over its meaning?

How can one passage means different things to different people?

In our classes we studied actual documented interpretations from people who sincerely believed they were true, and who had studied the bible for years, and yet were contradictory to one another. Example, we have the Secular Viewpoint, the Traditional Christian Viewpoint, the Traditional Jewish Viewpoint, the Critical Viewpoint, the Critical Religious Viewpoint, and these aren't even all the view points there are!

Examples: Traditional Christians believe that the New Testament is God's revealed word, and that the Old Testament should be interepreted in light of the New. That is, prophecies refer to Jesus in most cases, the Book of Revelation is to come in the future, etc. Yet they would not say that the Vedas or the Koran is inspired by God.

The Secular Viewpoint thinks the Bible is a series of historical hearsay's (not heresies) that represents outmoded and dangerous superstitious (if not downright dishonest) reporting of events distorted by legend, myth, etc. They don't think we should take the bible with any more salt than we would Greek Myths or tales about Knights slaying dragons or George Washington chopping down cherry trees. They point out contradictions as proof that it cannot be taken seriously in modern times (such as approval of slavery, subjugation of women, justification of genocide, etc).

The Traditional Jew would say that the New Testament is simply misguided (at best) or blasphemous (at worst). A man (Jesus) cannot be God. A man (Jesus or Paul or Peter or anyone else) cannot abolish God's law, which God said would be eternal (see Deuteronomoy). The Christians incorrectly say prophecies in the OT refer to Jesus, when they are misreading them. Most of them are in the past tense, and thus cannot refer to future events (thousands or hundreds of years in the future after they were written). Also, the things Jesus said and did would not prove he was God. At best they would prove he was a demon, trying to lure people away from the one true God.

The Critical Scholar would basically ask who wrote the stuff and who benefits. The Critical Scholar does not care whether or not God exists, or whether the prophets were true or not. The CS simply asks, was there any personal biases, or political motivations, or any kind of corruption of the message that took place in any way shape or form? The CS doubts every passage just about, on the basis of the motivations of the writers being less than pure and just in most cases.

The Critical Religious person basically waters down the message (as an opponent would say) in order to get at the "gist of the truth." They will say, yes, so and so said this is essential, but it all really boils down to being a good person and believing in God, etc, etc. As long as you know what they intentions of the writers were, you can get the spirit of what they were saying. Read between the lines. They often have more liberal interpretations of what stuff means. They will dismiss differences and contradictions as cultural things that are different now. They will take into account different writers and personal biases of some writers.

I think I personally fall between the Traditional Christian and the Critical Religious. I feel that the truth is important, and I try to account for problems in the text. I cannot see, how the text can be called unambigious, if there are so many conflicting interpretations, and so many hoops are needed to jump through in order to say there are NO PROBLEMS.

Why are people getting the "wrong" interpretations (if there is no wrong interpts, then doesn't it mean anything at all?)?
What are they doing wrong? Is God lazy, and not telling these people (surely not), is the devil fooling people? Are people just stupid? Or is the Bible simply unclear or are there indeed problems with the texts?

Something to think about. Certainly everyone has an opinion. This goes back to the "who is right" thing. Who's interpretation is right, and how would you know?

Kurgan

[This message has been edited by Kurgan (edited April 24, 2000).]

Kurgan
04-24-2000, 03:27 PM
Oh btw, when I say "blindness" I am not saying anybody is "wrong" but I am pointing out that in some respects, both sides of this debate (basically Wiz and Conor) are not seeing each other's pov.

I think you guys both have a DESIRE to see the other guy's viewpoint, and this is good, however you seem, ultimately, at this point at least, failed to fulfil that desire.

Don't get me wrong guys, I know.. it's hard!

Wiz doesn't understand the importance of the "rituals" that Conor refers to, and Conor does not seem to want to step out of his "my Church is right" one. That, generically, is what I meant.

If you guys understood each other, you wouldn't still be arguing about this same issue. Would you? Because in the end, either one person admits they are wrong, or you both go your seperate ways (metaphorically speaking, I don't mean shun each other forever), and you end that particular argument (either in frustration at reaching no conclusion, or with gladness at acheiving a better understanding of each other's viewpoint).

The thing about these opposing viewpoints I studied in my Bible classes is not that one was right and the rest was wrong, but that the people that believed them all felt that their way was the right way, and that we, should try to recognize that, and thus be a better judge of the merits of each viewpoint. In other words, realize that just your own group, but EVERY group thinks they are right, and have a whole system laid out that explains everything. The trouble is that all the views can't be correct, so we have to look at each one objectively (as objectively as possible) to decide what WE think is the best one.

"Blindness" involves not thinking outside the box. It involves only seeing things from your own viewpoint (paradoxical as it may seem not to see from your own viewpoint). When you only think in terms of your own beliefs and not from the other guy's shoes, you have nearly no hope of understanding him. You'll just continue to say the same things, and never reach any kind of agreement or make any progress.

Kurgan

[This message has been edited by Kurgan (edited April 24, 2000).]

Lord_Maul
04-24-2000, 04:02 PM
I believe I would follow the Joseph Campbell(The guy who lucas ripped off for the jedi code/force stuff) As the great inspirational leader in my semi/religious thinking. The belief in the self, and that god is in everyone..ect...that sort of thing.

theahnfahn
04-24-2000, 05:08 PM
Conor:
I don't ever expect to sway your view on seemingly justified killings as in such cases as the Nazis. I do not think it is in any way a gruesome sin, and I do consider it a necessary evil. Killing in that manner is not something Jesus would have done. We are human, killing in this manner may be inevitable, but like I said if even one person feels it is justified we will never rid ourselves from it.

All the ritual and tradition in the Church serves a purpose. Whether it be to make better people out of ourselves or to help us worship God or for some other reason the Church decided they were for the best. I don't know the reasons for many of them, but I trust in the Holy Spirit's guidance of the Church.

Please don't lump the Eucharist in with rituals and the like. We believe it is something entirely different, something Jesus commanded us to do, the partaking of the Passover sacrafice, the unblemished Lamb of God for the expiation of our sins.

Yes, we all admit your ritual and tradition may serve a purpose. But your claim that it is the ONLY way to do things is weakly presented. You say you trust in the Holy Spirit that the things you do are correct, but again this supposed Word as been fed to you from the church. You don't want me to lump the Eucharist with what I perceive as all the other rituals I deem beautiful but NOT required. I can't. I will tell you why. Let me outline for you what it will take for me to believe your claim that your Church holds the complete, correct truth.

1)I want undeniable evidence that Christ outlined that there be one, true church that would spread the Word of God.

2)I want evidence that this church was charged with the task of not just teaching to love life, mankind, and God, but also to enforce rituals that are ESSENTIAL to following in Christ's footsteps. I want to know why these rituals, while you admittedly say sometimes don't seem to serve a purpose, contribute to a greater good. I want to know how the church could possibly pick and choose which ones were useful and which were not.

3)I want evidence that this church was formed, and with its arrival every documentary of the life of Christ was correctly interpreted.

4)I want evidence that this church could never have possibly undergone a change, never once presented the teachings of Christ incorrectly.

5)I want to know why you think your church is this church.

6)I want to know why only divinely ordained member of this church can interpret the Word of God correctly. This in itself seems unnecessary to me because members of the church like yourself must still interpret what they interpreted, and this defeats the entire purpose.

Those must all be answered. I don't think it will be hard for you to argue Christ wanted one church spreading the true word. I feel this church can exist, and not even with popes and priests and hymns and the like. These things are wonderful in spreading the word, but they are not The Word. From my perspective it is impossible for you to defend your beliefs, so I therefore will never hold them myself. All in all you are relying on your own interpretation of the Bible, your own views on what is right, and have faith in this church to the point where you feel it is a necessary part of you because it is church doctrine to believe so. This is the flaw I see in your church, that it is imperfect by claiming perfection in matters it will never have a means to prove.

Kurgan, I think this may tie in to your post. Obviously there are a vast number of interpretations of the Bible. The only contradictions I see, however, are when essentials are either incorrect or inessentials are claimed essentials. All in all everything lies in a decision we have to make ourselves. I wager that the 33% Christians of the 6 billion people living on this earth have not so much in common as we might think, and this is so extremely obvious because in the end everyone is different and everyone will do and believe things differently, even if they are presented the information from a pure source as Conor believes his church is.

------------------
And there he is. The reigning champion of the Boonta Classic, and the crowd favorite-TheAhnFahn

[This message has been edited by theahnfahn (edited April 24, 2000).]

wizzywig
04-24-2000, 06:20 PM
Kurgan--

On Scripture interpretation, all the examples you cited (Gnostics, etc.) are people who Rorschach the Bible. They read into it instead of reading out of it. There is a plain and unambiguous sense to 90-plus percent of the Bible. What remains up for grabs is in areas that I, at least, consider non-essential and non-troubling.

What I consider essential is really a very basic core of beliefs about Christ. John 3:16, for example, is not a highly arguable text.

I recognize that anybody can read into anything whatever they wish, and they do. But I look at Scripture and say, Would a REASONABLE person come away with any understanding other than the surface understanding? Words mean things. The words of the Bible mean specific things. People can wrench and twist those words, and out of their own desire to invent their own religion, made in their own image, not God's, they will do so. The result is cults, everything from Gnostics to David Koresh & Co.

Re:
Wiz doesn't understand the importance of the "rituals" that Conor refers to, and Conor does not seem to want to step out of his "my Church is right" one. That, generically, is what I meant.

I submit that I have stated repeatedly that I understand why Conor considers these rituals and doctrines to be essential, even while I do not. I have repeatedly stated that I understand why he feels that way, why he can't believe any other way, and I accept it. I have repeatedly stated I am not trying to talk him out of his beliefs. I accept the fact that he must believe as he does.

I only reject his attempt to make me accept those beliefs for myself. You are simply wrong in stating I do not understand and empathize with his position. If you read my posts carefully, you will see that I have been very clear on this.

--wiz

Vagabond
04-24-2000, 06:57 PM
Kurgan, I have observed wiz to be very fair and understanding with Conor throughout this entire debate, and I want to commend him on the way which he has conducted himself. I believe, Kurgan, that you have unfairly characterized wiz's behavior.

As wiz just stated, he has repeatedly stated that he understands how Conor feels, even if he doesn't agree with some of Conor's beliefs. Perhaps you didn't read the entire thread before posting your remarks?


------------------
VagabondNomad on the Zone...

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players...



[This message has been edited by Vagabond (edited April 24, 2000).]

wizzywig
04-24-2000, 07:45 PM
I appreciate that, Vagabond.

Perhaps though, I was too defensive on that point.

In any case, I do respect Conor's passionate defense of his faith. I think there is a sense in which for Conor to adopt a contrary viewpoint, even for the momentary sake of argument, would feel like blasphemy to him. Conor can correct me if I'm mistaken, but I suspect that's part of the nub here. I would think it would be difficult for someone who is raised to trust the infallibility of the church's teachings to even entertain a hypothetical possibility that the church is wrong.

I don't think it's a matter of Conor saying, "I am infallible." I don't see Conor as personally arrogant in this discussion at all. I seem him as very committed to the defense of his church, which is virtually identical to his faith (by contrast, I make a clear distinction between church and faith in my own mind).

I hope no one gets the idea that I'm trying to suggest my position is superior to Conor's. I wanted to clearly distinguish my position (continually trying to align myself with what I see as pure first century Christianity) from Conor's (the RCC IS first century Christianity), because I felt that, early in this thread, Conor had (inadventently, and with no bad intentions) co-opted my words to support a position I did not support.

Thanks again, Vagabond.

--wiz

wizzywig
04-25-2000, 06:46 AM
Conor—

The question you raised is: Why do I believe the Reformation was an attempt to return to a purer, more original Christianity?

In a way, this gets us right back to the original point that started this line of discussion. I wrote:

I have continually tried to distill my beliefs to a pure first century Christianity, stripping away overlays of distortion and dead tradition. I try to continually rediscover and practice the living Christianity of Christ.

To which you added:

Well I'm not sure what you'd want me to say about Catholicism. It is my unwavering belief that it is the complete and unchanged way of life Christ founded roughly 2000 years ago. It is that original Christianity Wiz was talking about.

I disagreed with that statement, and I responded to it because I wanted to make sure that there was no confusion that when I talked about a pure first century Christianity, that no one thought I was referring to Catholicism. I want to make very clear in this post as in all my previous posts that I have great respect for the Catholic Church of today, which has reformed many of the excesses and errors of the old Catholic Church. That process of reform began in what was called the “counter reformation,” in which the church attempted to clean its own house in the wake of the Protestant Reformation, and has continued in meaningful ways over the centuries.

But as much as I respect the Catholic Church, particularly in its strong stands for the family, morality, and the sanctity of life, I am convinced that I could never worship in the Roman Catholic mode nor could I embrace the Catholic doctrines. It is my conviction that doctrines such as transubstantiation and Purgatory have been added to the purity of original Christian faith. The Roman Catholic Church considers these doctrines to be essential the Christian faith. I am convinced that they are peripheral to pure Christian faith. In most cases, these doctrines are simply nonessential and harmless. In a few instances, I consider some doctrines to be misleading and capable of obscuring the reality of the Christian faith. I believe there are some Catholics who unfortunately place their faith in the peripherals and the traditions and tragically miss the reality of pure Christianity, because they are unable to see the reality behind the obscuring haze of tradition and peripheral doctrines. I will be specific.

INTRODUCTION: RESPECT WHERE RESPECT IS DUE

Before I go on, I want to again re-emphasize that my intention here is not to tear down anyone’s Catholic faith. I was asked a question, and I want to answer it thoroughly and candidly. I also want to underscore my respect for Catholics and Catholicism, and the acknowledge that there are some things of value in the Christian tradition that Catholics have retained and that many Protestants have lost. I do not claim that I or the Protestant denominations have any corner on the truth. I do not claim that Protestant churches or churches of any one denomination or sect are the “one true church” or that the Catholic Church is a false church. The one true church is the entire body of Christ, Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, etc., in all its beautiful variety, reflecting the many-faceted diversity of humanity and human personality, which in turn reflects the rich and many-faceted image of God.

Do you remember the folk-rock singer Barry McGuire? He was probably before the time of most people on this forum. Barry used to be a lead singer with the New Christy Minstrels in the 1960s (he was the writer and lead singer of one of their big hits, “Green Green”). In 1965, he left the Minstrels and recorded a solo protest song, “Eve of Destruction,” which was the number 1 song for four months. Barry is a friend of mine, so when my daughter’s high school US History class was studying the era of the 1960s, I asked Barry and he agreed to come speak to the class about the ‘60s and “Eve of Destruction” (he was terrific, btw). Afterward, as I was driving him home, he was talking about the two singer-songwriters he travels and performs with, Terry Talbot and Terry’s brother, John Michael Talbot. Terry is a Protestant Christian and John Michael is a Catholic monk. Barry, who is a committed Christian, said that he had learned a lot about the Catholic Church in talking to John Michael, and was very impressed with many aspects of Catholicism, especially the respect for worship among Catholics. You walk into many (not all, but many) Protestant churches, and people come into the sanctuary talking and laughing as if they were walking into their own living room. But when a Catholic enters his church, there is a solemnity and respect that many Protestants have lost, as exemplifed in the crossing of oneself, the genuflexion, etc. Barry has a valid point.

So I do not believe that any one church or sect or denomination has the corner on the truth. Every Christian group seems to have something that others lack, and lack something that others have. (And, I must add, many add something onto pure Christianity that shouldn’t even be there.) But taken together, viewed in total from a God’s-eye view, I see the entire breadth and width and depth of Christendom to reflect the totality of what God intended Christianity to be, and to reflect the image of our amazing Creator.

WHAT IS THE ESSENTIAL TRUTH OF CHRISTIANITY?

But what all true Christians, churches, denominations, and sects do have in common is the essential truth. What is essential to be a genuine Christian is really a very simple core truth. Beyond this simple core truth, everything else is truly peripheral. If you have this core truth, you have everything you need to belong to Christ. This core truth is best expressed in the words that Jesus Himself spoke to Nicodemus, John 3:16-17: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

That is the entire Bible compressed to a single statement. Genesis tells us how sin and death entered the world, the entire Old Testament pointed to the coming Messiah, the four gospels told of the life, death, and resurrection of the Messiah, and the rest of the New Testament explicated how we are to live the Christian life. John 3:16 takes the entire sweep of Scripture and compresses it into its simplest and most indispensable essentials.

What do we do with the fact that there is structural disunity in the universal church? What do we do with the fact that there are many denominations and sects? Do we have to view one sect as true and the others false? No. All churches that teach the essential core truth are true churches, part of the overall one true Christian church.

Jesus himself seems to foresee the diversity of His future church in a parable that is related in all three of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). In Mark 4, He says:

30 …"What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it?
31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground.
32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade."

The mustard seed is the pure, essential faith out of which the Church, the entire body of believers, grows. The mustard plant spreads its branches. One branch is the Roman Catholic Church. Another is the Eastern Orthodox Church. (These two churches branched away from each other in the Great Schism, more than a century before the Protestant Reformation.) Other branches also branched away before the Protestant Reformation, into places like Africa and India. And there was a great branching away at the Reformation and beyond. But all grew from one mustard seed, one faith. All branches are part of the same plant. And the birds of the air—society and people of the world—perch in its shade; the Christian faith preserves and defends values and virtues in society, making society livable. Without the presence of the universal Christian Church in all its forms, human society would become unlivable, it would by a dystopian nightmare, worse than 1984 or Brave New World. So the church spreads its “shade,” its life-giving influence in the world.

[CONTINUED IN NEXT POST]

wizzywig
04-25-2000, 06:48 AM
WHAT IS NON-ESSENTIAL TO CHRISTIANITY?

Conor, you and I have already discussed at length our different perspectives on The Eucharist. You hold that it is absolutely necessary to believe that the bread and the wine become, in a mystical and miraculous way, the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ. That is what the RCC believes, and I understand and accept that. I am not trying to talk you out of believing that. I do not say that any Christian is in spiritual danger as a result of believing that. But I do not believe it and I have good logical reason for believing it.

I do hold to the importance of celebrating Holy Communion. We celebrated this sacrament at a profoundly meaningful Good Friday service at our church, and it was as always a powerfully moving and meaningful experience for me.

Though it was both a solemn and joyful experience that reminded me of what Christ suffered and sacrificed for me (as He intended it should be when He instituted Communion just before the cross), it was not a Catholic Eucharist, and I did not believe that I was partaking of the actual body and blood of Christ. Rather, I was symbolically sharing in and receiving the death of Christ.

You have given your reasons for believing as you do, including a lot of Scripture. Those Scripture passages support your beliefs, but they do not prove my beliefs wrong. This is not a contradictory statement. The Catholic Church has imposed an interpretation on those Scripture passages you cited that supports transubstantiation. But that is not the only interpretation; it is not, from my p.o.v. the most likely and reasonable interpretation. I think any person reading those passages you cited, coming from an unbiased point of view, could easily conclude that Jesus and Paul spoke in symbolic terms, not magical or miraculous terms. In Matthew 26, Jesus says:

26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."
27 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you.
28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
29 I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom."

And Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:

24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me."
25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me."
26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.

You say that “This is my body” and “This is my blood” are literal statements. How is this possible? Jesus had not even died when He broke the bread and served the wine for the first time. His body had not yet been broken, His blood had not yet been spilled. To my thinking, He was very clearly speaking in symbolic terms, showing what was about to take place: His body was going to be broken like that bread. His blood was going to be poured out like wine. He wanted the disciples and all future followers to remember His sacrifice in a real and meaningful way, in terms of visually memorable symbols, and that is why He created these symbols or metaphors—for the sake of remembrance and instruction and inspiration. Paul explained the real nature of Communion when he wrote, “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.” In other words, it is a symbolic proclamation and observance, through bread and wine, not a literal consumption of the Lord’s flesh and blood. Paul goes on to say, “Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.” This refers not to the body and blood as transformed by some miraculous process, but to the literal body of Christ that was broken when nailed to a cross and pierced through the side, and the literal blood of Christ that poured out of His literal veins and flowed down the literal wood of that literal cross and soaked into the literal soil of ancient Palestine. A person who eats or drinks unworthily, without regard to the solemnity of the symbols, sins against what Jesus did upon the cross. As I see it, Paul refers to the body and blood of the Lord in terms of the historical event, not the ritual of the Eucharist.

There is nothing in Scripture or in any document or artifact of first century Christian history to indicate that belief in transubstantiation was accepted in the first century church. This doctrine is a later addition to the original church. I am convinced that Communion or the Lord’s Supper was practiced symbolically, not as the Eucharist, in the original church of the apostles in the book of Acts.

It is not logical to insist that Jesus, who often spoke in symbols and metaphors, as CLEARLY and UNAMBIGUOUSLY speaking in literal terms when He said, “This is my body, this is my blood.” This is the same Man who had said, “I will make you fishers of men,” “You are the salt of the earth,” “You are the light of the world,” “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away,” “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye,” “You must be born again,” “Enter through the narrow gate; For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it; But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it,” “every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit,” “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them?,” “Take My yoke upon you,” “You snakes! You brood of vipers,” “the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees,” “I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days,” “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God,” “You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.”

When you place this statement of Jesus in context with everything else He has said, it becomes impossible to make a case that He MUST have been speaking literally. In fact, the symbolic view is much more logical, from an unbiased point of view.

Now, it certainly does no harm to believe that the Eucharist is the actual body and blood of Christ. It is a peripheral issue about which Christians reasonably differ. Yes, the RCC says it is essential, but that does not change the fact (from my point of view) that it is nonessential and peripheral. You might be wrong. I might be wrong. God alone knows. But my viewpoint DOES have logical merit.

PURGATORY

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation, but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven." This is the doctrine of Purgatory. According to the RCC, Purgatory is a place of purification, not punishment, but since Purgatory entails suffering ranging most often described as an actual hellish, excruciating, painful fire, it is indistinguishable in the human mind from the punishment of Hell, except that it is temporary instead of eternal. Purgatory is one of a range of Catholic doctrines that entered the church long after the first century, and which are (IMO) not part of the original purity of first century Christian belief. There is no hint of the doctrine of Purgatory anywhere in the Old or New Testaments.

According to this doctrine, a person cannot enter Heaven until he is purified from sins that were not purged during life. Baptism, according to Catholic doctrine, purges sins committed up to that point; after baptism, according to the RCC, sins are purged by means of prayer, confession and absolution, penance, attendance at Mass, alms, and indulgences. Unremitted sins require the individual to suffer in purifying flames until he is cleansed enough to enter the presence of God. A person’s length of stay in Purgatory can range from mere hours to thousands of years. Think of that for a moment: thousands of years of hellish torment for a person who is a Christian believer, a person for whom Christ died. Such a concept makes no sense to me.

From the point of view of a person who seeks to follow pure first century Christianity, the faith that is revealed in the Bible alone, this doctrine is an ugly absurdity. The first and biggest problem with it is that there is no explicit foundation for it in the Bible. But there’s more:

The doctrine of Purgatory means that Christ didn’t finish the job on the cross. When He said “It is finished,” the Greek word that appears in the Gospel texts is tetelestai, which means, “The debt is paid in full.” If there is Purgatory, then Jesus did not pay the debt in full, and we are left to pay some of the debt ourselves.

Remember what Jesus said to the thief on the cross when the thief expressed faith in Him? Jesus told Him, “That’s great that you believe and Me—and you’re going to Heaven someday. But you know what? You’ve never been baptized, you’ve never made a full confession and received absolution, you’ve never received an indulgence from the church. You think getting nailed to a cross hurts? Wait till you get to Purgatory. I’m betting a thief like you is in for a good five or six thousand years of burning like a log in a fireplace. But when that’s over, boy, I’ll see you in Paradise.”

You remember that in the Scriptures, right? Oh, wait. Maybe I got that wrong. Let’s see. Oh, yes, it’s in Luke 23:43:

Jesus answered [the believing thief], "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

Where’s the Purgatory in that verse? Can’t find it. I see an unshriven thief dying and arriving in Paradise, same day, and not a purgatorial flame in sight.

What Jesus did on the cross was perfect, sufficient, and final. It accomplished all the purification that will ever be needed. The Scriptures make this principle abundantly clear. Example, Ephesians 2:8-9:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast.

And Hebrews 7:27:

He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.

I know that the RCC has workarounds to get past the Scriptural fact that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ, that His sacrifice was perfect and final, and that no works of ours can add to what He has already done. When you believe in the truth of Scripture alone, all the pieces fit together. But when you add nonbiblical doctrines like Purgatory, you have to come up with band-aid explanations to try to make those doctrines somehow jibe with the biblical truth. Catholics will say that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross enabled forgiveness, and that Purgatory is not about forgiveness or punishment, but purification. But the witness of Scripture is that the cross of Christ not only saves but “saves completely” or “saves to the uttermost” (Hebrews 7:25). There is no need for further purification beyond what Christ already accomplished when He said, “It is finished, the debt it paid in full.”

During the time before the Reformation, Purgatory was a great money-making scheme for the corrupt Catholic church. The church dangled the idea that if people wanted to escape years or centuries of excruciating torture in Purgatory, they had to pay up. It was, in short, a racket. The idea of Purgatory was borrowed from Mesopotamian pagan religions. It took hold largely under a corrupt pope, Gregory, around AD 600. Though it was held over the heads of Catholic Christians for hundreds of years, it was not confirmed as part of the deposit of Catholic faith until more than twelve centuries after Christ, at the Second Council of Lyons in 1274:

If those who are truly penitent die in charity before they have done sufficient penance for their sins of omission and commission, their souls are cleansed after death in purgatorial or cleansing punishments .... The suffrages of the faithful on earth can be of great help in relieving these punishments, as, for instance, the Sacrifice of the Mass, prayers, almsgiving, and other religious deeds which, in the manner of the Church, the faithful are accustomed to offer for others of the faithful.

Note the reference to almsgiving, underscoring the profit motive of the doctrine. The church literally told its people “as the money clinks into the money chest, the soul flies out of purgatory.” Nothing could better demonstrate the corruption of this doctrine than that statement. Purgatory took root in the church during the corrupt period of the church and was confirmed in the deposit of faith during a corrupt period. Its inclusion in the deposit of faith was motivated by greed on the part of corrupt men (IMO).

[CONTINUED IN NEXT POST]




[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited April 25, 2000).]

wizzywig
04-25-2000, 06:49 AM
The doctrine of Purgatory was reaffirmed by the Council of Trent (1545-1563) as the Church was under siege from the Protestant Reformation. The Council of Trent proclaimed:

Whereas the Catholic Church, instructed by the Holy Ghost, has, from the Sacred Writings and the ancient tradition of the Fathers, taught in sacred councils, and very recently in this ecumenical synod that there is a Purgatory, and that the souls there detained are helped by the suffrages of the faithful, but principally by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar; the holy synod enjoins on bishops that they diligently endeavor that the sound doctrine concerning Purgatory, transmitted by the holy Fathers and sacred councils, be believed, maintained, taught and everywhere proclaimed by the faithful of Christ.

The doctrine of Purgatory is (IMO) an evil doctrine that not only diminishes the value of the sacrifice of Christ, not only inspires fear in the hearts of faithful Christians, not only extorts money from the faithful, but also becomes a rationale for the many excesses and crimes of the ancient RCC. The church leaders, reasoning from the doctrine of Purgatory that God was a fire-wielding torture master, had no compunction about inflicting torture and death against supposed heretics. Purgatory inspired the excesses of the Inquisition, where literal fire was used as a means of “purifying” the church. Here is an example of a Catholic doctrine that does no good, but only harm. Believing in Purgatory does not necessarily hinder the faith of an ordinary Catholic, but it brought untold emotional, spiritual, and physical suffering to millions over the centuries.

HOW THE REFORMATION RETURNED THE CHURCH TO ORIGINAL FIRST CENTURY CHRISTIANITY

The doctrine of Purgatory is actually at the heart of the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther initially believed in Purgatory (he was steeped in Catholicism) but rejected the sale of indulgences to get oneself or one’s loved ones out of Purgatory. It was years years after the Reformation that he came to the conclusion that the doctrine of Purgatory itself was wrong.

Martin Luther held the Chair of Biblical Study at the Catholic University of Wittenberg. While preparing to teach the Old Testament in one of his classes, he was suddenly startled by the implications of a passage he had read many times before, Habakkuk 2:4: “The righteous will live by his faith.” The Catholic church taught that salvation was by faith plus works. But Luther discovered that in the Old Testament and in the New, salvation is by faith alone. As Paul writes in Galatians 3:11 (and reiterates in many ways, in many passages), “Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith." And again, in Ephesians 2:8-9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast.”

As he began teaching these new insights, a great intellectual and spiritual ferment took place at Wittenberg. The entire university faculty adopted Luther’s exciting new ideas about salvation by grace through faith alone. On October 31, 1517, Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. He hoped to further the dialogue that would spread this insight throughout the church. His intent was that the entire church would ultimately return to the original doctrine of the Old and New Testaments regarding justification by faith and not by works. If this would happen, then the entire church would practice original New Testament Christianity. People would be freed of the works that they were doing to gain salvation and deliverance for themselves and loved ones from Purgatory.

Again, Luther still believed in Purgatory at this time, but insisted (Thesis 27) that “they preach only human doctrines who say that as soon as the money clinks into the money chest, the soul flies out of purgatory,” and (Thesis 28) “it is certain that when money clinks in the money chest, greed and avarice can be increased; but when the Church intercedes, the result is in the hands of God alone,” and (Thesis 36) “any truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without indulgence letters,” and (Thesis 37) “any true Christian, whether living or dead, participates in all the blessings of Christ and the Church; and this is granted him by God, even without indulgence letters.” Conor, can you argue with anything that Luther states in these four theses? I find his reasoning impeccable.

As Luther’s ideas spread, the volume of sales of indulgences dropped precipitously, and income to the treasury of the church abruptly dried up. With greed as the primary motive, the church hierarchy became enraged with Luther, because he had overturned the tables of the moneychangers in the Temple (and yes, I chose that metaphor with care and precision; Luther was obeying the example of his Lord). Luther had attempted to call the church to a discussion and reconsideration of a vile practice, the sale of indulgences. He did not attack the Pope or the church itself—only the indulgence pimps. He didn’t tell people not to buy indulgences, but as word spread of the 95 Theses, people figured out for themselves that they had been had, and they made up their own minds to stop being extorted by a corrupt church.

The enraged church responded by issuing a letter of excommunication in January 1521. A few months later, Luther was branded a heretic, and the order was given to kill him on sight. This was in essence putting a contract out on Luther’s life. The robbers who controlled the church were resorting to murder in order to maintain a profit in the collection box. (This supports the contention that theahnfahn made regarding the church and murder; Ike rightly noted that the Ten Commandments say, “Thou shalt not murder,” but the church was clearly guilty of murder in my view, affirming theahnfahn’s point.)

With a contract out for his life, Luther went into hiding and it was under those circumstances that the Lutheran Church was founded. Luther did not try to start a rebellious movement. He was driven out by a corrupt and greedy and power-drunk church hierarchy. The RCC has no one but itself to blame for the Reformation. It was not the pride of Luther that was at issue. It was the pride of an arrogant and corrupt church. At the heart of that arrogance and corruption was an evil doctrine called Purgatory.

So the error in the deposit of faith (which entered the church long after the first century) was intrinsically bound up with the corruption and evil and excesses of the church. Purgatory is a false doctrine that binds people in fear. The Scriptures are abundantly clear that such a thing as Purgatory could not exist. In Hebrews 9, we read:

26 … But now he [Jesus] has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.
27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,
28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

To my thinking, the facts of that statement could not be more clear. Only by believing Church doctrine to be infallible could you come to the conclusion, in direct contradiction to Scripture, that such a thing as Purgatory exists. But there is no evidence that the church is infallible—in fact, there is much evidence to the contrary.

Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:8 notes that to be absent from the body is to be present—where, in Purgatory? No!—to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. And in Romans 5:1, he writes, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” If Purgatory lies ahead, you have no peace with God. But the genuine Christian has total peace with God because that peace was fully, finally, once and for all purchased on the cross by the perfect sacrifice of Christ.

There is more that I could say regarding other issues and doctrines that the RCC has added on top of the simple purity of New Testament Christianity (first century Christianity), but these are good enough examples to make the point. I doubt that this will end the discussion—it will probably only trigger more debate. That’s okay.

Again, I’m not trying to convert anyone. I am only explaining—FROM MY OWN POINT OF VIEW, BASED SOLELY ON THE INFORMATION AND RESEARCH I HAVE—why I believe as I do, in answer to your question, Conor. So please do not think that I am attacking your faith, your present-day church, your beliefs. I am only explaining my own beliefs, and showing the logic behind them. I think that, even if you reject my premises (as I’m sure you will), you have to agree that I have proceeded logically and rationally from those premises.

It is the premises where you and I differ. Your premise is that the church is infallible in its doctrine, and thus when the infallible church declares itself to be the one true church, then this must be so (it is, I submit, a circular argument). My premises are that the Scriptures are the sole authority for matters of faith, that they can be understood by all, that no church is infallible or perfect, and that doctrines that are not founded in Scripture are not to be trusted.

It is my conclusion that every Christian is equally a member of the one true church, which is the universal church, that every Christian is an equal follower of Jesus and an equal heir of the apostles. It is my conclusion that every sect and denomination is just a branch on that great mustard plant that sprouted from an initial mustard seed of faith when a fisherman became a “rock,” when the very first Christian (though not, I’m convinced, the first Pope) when he made the first-ever profession of faith in Christ: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).

--wizzywig

theahnfahn
04-25-2000, 02:51 PM
Wonderful arguments wiz. Wish I had the time to comment on all of them. I just want to add that I don't think you mean ALL Christians when you speak of the true church. Some may follow under a corrupted, false representation of Christ, and some may merely say they are Christian ignorant to the fact that they are not. Like Conor said before, we must always use the most extreme examples. This may be why he is having such a hard time understanding you, because he is only viewing the extreme outer cases, only viewing that 25 followed by however many zeros of other Christian faiths he sees as corrupted.

------------------
And there he is. The reigning champion of the Boonta Classic, and the crowd favorite-TheAhnFahn

wizzywig
04-25-2000, 03:43 PM
Thanks, ahnfahn.

I just want to add that I don't think you mean ALL Christians when you speak of the true church. Some may follow under a corrupted, false representation of Christ, and some may merely say they are Christian ignorant to the fact that they are not.

I think that's an insightful statement. There's no question that some who call themselves "Christians" are not, either due to ignorance or deliberate deception. If you look at some of the corrupt Popes of times past, for example, it becomes clear that even some of those who have been deemed to be the "No. 1 Christians" among us were almost certainly NOT Christians at heart, NOT people who belonged to Christ and followed Him with a sincere heart.

This is no surprise, since Jesus warned us about such people. Matthew 13:

24 ¶ Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.
25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.
26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27 "The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?'
28 "'An enemy did this,' he replied. "The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?'
29 "'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.
30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'"

The wheat, Jesus later explained, represented true believers, and the weeds are false believers. So every church consists of wheat and weeds. The weeds are often difficult to distinguish from the wheat, but will eventually be revealed.

I did overgeneralize when I said that the one true church is "all Christians." More specifically, it is all genuine Christians, who truly belong to Christ and follow Him by faith.

--wiz




[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited April 25, 2000).]

Conor
04-25-2000, 07:30 PM
Yes, you did present everything in a logical and rational manner. And yes I do reject almost every single premise of yours. http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/smile.gif But best of all, I know why I reject them.

Obviously you also reject the books Luther ejected from the OT.

"For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin." 2 Macc 12:44-46

That is a proof text. There is no rational way to escape the fact the people prayed for were not in heaven or hell. That they were going to Heaven but were not there yet. There are many more, and I will mount my defense of Purgatory soon.

You also say a couple times things like 'Bible alone'. That is a big Protestant thing. Obviously Catholics don't believe in the Bible alone, but that revelation was Traditional as well.

"I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you. 1 Cor 11:2

"So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter." 2 Thess 2:15

Where are your traditions passed on by mouth? Your church wasn't there to hear them...

I notice you had not one quote from any early Christian outside the Bible to back up your claims to the early Church. I have a book called Early Christian Writings that holds many letters from the leaders of the early Church. Including St. Ignatius, who lived at the end of the first century. They were Catholic to the core. I'd be interested if you have any evidence that the Apostles believed as you do. And if they did, why didn't they pass their beliefs to their successors?

I can see why you believe as you do (for the most part), and I know you are just presenting your case, but it still amounts to attacking my Church, whatever your mindset.

------------------
"First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in."
-C.S. Lewis

Kurgan
04-25-2000, 08:03 PM
I'll get to some of the recent responses soon, but I do have a comment on an interesting post.

Joseph Campbell. Yes. We were actually discussing him in NT class the other day. Theosophy. Basically alot like a Neo-Gnosticism in many ways, and very similar to "New Age" (which is also very Gnostic in nature).

It was funny, because our professor was saying how you could interpret alot of movies in the last century as Theosophic or Gnostic in nature (like Star Wars, the Wizard of Oz, and I added the Matrix).

Of course whatever viewpoint you take, you can view the movies in light of your own beliefs. Some would see "Groundhog Day" as a movie promoting Hindu or Buddhist ideals for example. Theosophy delves into ideas like spirits and reincarnation, etc.

I did mispeak something earlier. Aeons don't necessarily mean people. They really mean ages (New Age I think recognizes this definition, although I don't know for sure). Basically the essense of Gnosticism is this:

Matter is evil. The universe can be divided into two elements that are in constant conflict, Spirit (good) and Matter (evil). The good principle is pure spirit, and that is the good God (which is both male and female in many Gnostic circles, or simply female), although it tends to be a very male-centered faith (because females produce more flesh, which is evil and thus cannot be saved unless they forsake procreation and become "male"). The idea is that the Evil God, of matter, trapped pieces of the pure Spirit God into material bodies. Thus the way of salvation is to realize you don't belong "here" and you belong "up there" (with the pure spirits) and you need to disassociate yourself from things of the flesh and attachement to the flesh and matter.

They accept different gospels. Many of these were discovered in 1945 at Nag Hammadi. The Gospel of Thomas was one of these, and is misrepresented in the movie "Stigmata."

Gnostics say the God (Yahweh) of the Bible is the evil God of matter, and an inferior deity. The "true" purely spiritual God, is either Jesus (depending on the group) or an independent mother Goddess who is aloof. She/He did not create matter, but the evil deity did. The way of salvation is realizing your divine spark within. So we are all "God" in their belief, or at least the "elect" are. The rest of the non-elect may be stooges for the evil God of matter.

The term "Gnostic" comes from the word "Gnosis" which means "to know. The opposite of "Agnostic" (not to know). The Gnosis is the thing that you attain, the knowledge that frees you from the matter you are trapped in. It is the realization that you are part of God (or a god yourself).

They also refer to Sophia ("wisdom") alot in their writings. I have read "The Trimorphic Poetenna(sp?)", "the Gospel of Thomas" and "The Second Treatise of the Great Seth" and I am reading some others, I'll let you know if there's anything else interesting that I can contribute on that subject.

But they consider themselves Christian, and in fact, THE TRUE Christians. The would accept even the Gospel of John and some other NT writings, interpreted of course in their own tradition.

Kurgan

wizzywig
04-25-2000, 08:06 PM
Conor--

Obviously you also reject the books Luther ejected from the OT.

That is correct. Well, sort of correct. You tend to ascribe to Luther every Protestant "evil" (from your perspective). Luther is not individually and solely responsible for decisions such as the rejection of the Apocrypha. There is a valid (IMHO) Protestant rationale.

The Apoc. consists of 14 books, none of which are accepted by Protestants, 11 of which are accepted by Catholics, all of which were included in the Septuagint (the 3rd century BC Greek translation of Scriptures) but were not part of the original Hebrew scriptures. One of the 4th century church fathers, Jerome (one of the Catholic "doctors of the church") rejected the Apocrypha for the same reason the Protestants did: They were not part of the Hebrew scriptures.

Again, the Reformation reached back before the Vulgate, all the way to the original sources (the original Hebrew canon) in an effort to strip away late accretions (the Apoc. books are all of late authorship) and return to the original Hebrew canon of Scripture. These were steps of careful biblical scholarship, not prideful rebellion, in an attempt to purify and distill to original sources.

You cite a Maccabean (Apoc.) passage that conflicts with the NT passages I cited. I've gotta go with the NT.

When you write your defense of Purgatory, it would be interesting if you could address some of my criticisms of the doctrine. Don't consider that a demand or a challenge--whatever you choose to address is up to you. I am only saying it would be interesting to get your take on some things I raised, such as my view that Purgatory, which pictures God as a torture master, slanders God's true character and provided a rationale for the tortures of the Inquisition.

You also say a couple times things like 'Bible alone'. That is a big Protestant thing.

Of course I did, and I know that's a "big Protestant thing," but it is also what I referred to when I first stated, in my very first post in this thread, that my focus is on first century Christianity, NT Christianity. You have to go to the first century source, which is the NT alone, to determine what Christianity originally was, before it became encrusted with the barnacles of later tradition. This has been my thesis all along, and I have been totally upfront about it.

You cite NT passages referring to traditions. Until the NT was written, traditions and circulated letters were all that existed. By the end of the first century, the key traditions had all been solidified in the NT. No more oral traditions were needed after that point. In fact, after that point, oral traditions become dangerous to original truth, because changes, additions, and interpolations are added with time. That is exactly what took place. That is what produced doctrines like Purgatory.

Your church wasn't there to hear [the traditions]

My church is the universal Christian church, RCC, Orthodox, Protestant, etc. Yes, my church has been there from the beginning. My church began with Peter's profession of faith in Christ.

I'd be interested if you have any evidence that the Apostles believed as you do. And if they did, why didn't they pass their beliefs to their successors?

Yes. The best evidence. The New Testament. They passed along their beliefs in the NT. It is all right there. I don't mean that in a snide way. I mean that sincerely.

I can see why you believe as you do (for the most part), and I know you are just presenting your case, but it still amounts to attacking my Church, whatever your mindset.

The question you are actually asking me is why I am not a Catholic. The question practically demands a critique of Catholicism--if not present day Catholicism, at least ancient Catholicism. I don't consider a critique to be an attack, and I'm sorry, genuinely sorry (I mean I actually feel very badly inside) that you feel that way. I regret it, to the degree that I would be willing to simply read your response without any further response of my own, because it is genuinely not my wish to be hurtful to you in any way.

Again, I want to underscore the sense of respect and Christian brotherhood I have toward you, Kurgan, Ike, and toward all Catholics. Though we differ in these areas that you consider essential (and which I consider peripheral), I feel we are completely in sync on the few areas which, based on the Scriptures, I deem to be truly essential.

--wiz



[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited April 25, 2000).]

Kurgan
04-25-2000, 08:13 PM
There is a plain and unambiguous sense to 90-plus percent of the Bible.

That is your belief, but it is without basis from where I stand <-- editorial insertion. I don't wish to say "I'm 100% right and you're 100% wrong." I don't know that. YOu admitted you could be wrong, and I admit I could be wrong. I am saying, based on the evidence available to me, and thinking as a rational human being, not being thrust upon by any human authority, I totally disagree with your statement above. However, based on statistics, your statement is without basis, because most people don't agree on what most of Scripture means except pretty much within each denominational group.

What are you to say to all the people that don't share the same interpretation of the bible you do? That they are stupid and aren't reading the text correctly?

I'm sure if you grab any sect or group, they read INTO the text, even if they do so only slightly.

If somebody were to take everything in the bible at face value and absolutely literally, they would be utterly confused. Why? Because if you take that route, there are definate contradictions. So, you have to read into it, to avoid those contradictions, and people have read into them differently.

In my classes, we have covered about 80% of the entire bible, and EVERY SINGLE BOOK has at least four possible interpretations (from the viewpoints I mentioned). People take their assumptions with them as they read. And if you read the whole bible, you have to reconcile the differences between the books and the ideas presented.

I know that some churches have a doctrine tha states that Scripture is unambigious. That is,the text is clear, and that's that. If you hold this belief, I do not wish to offend you by saying I do not agree with this.

Some people believe that if something isn't in the bible, it's bad. Others believe that as long as the bible doesn't say anything about something, it's neutral, others say we have to interpret that stuff in the "spirit" of the bible, and still others say we should use our own judgement.

And this gets to ideas of inspiration. Did God grab the writers' hands and force them to put it out word for word? Did God just give them the ideas and they could put it into their own words? Or did people just write what they THOUGHT (Based on their own fallible logic and faith) what God wanted people to know? Or something else?

All things to consider. But if you want my opinion, based on the evidence, Scripture is ambigious, or else most people are just stupid and have gotten it wrong (or, but this is not my view, the Bible is simply thrown together and self-contradictory, and you'd be an idiot to believe it all).

Kurgan

[This message has been edited by Kurgan (edited April 29, 2000).]

wizzywig
04-25-2000, 09:18 PM
Hi, Kurgan.

wiz: There is a plain and unambiguous sense to 90-plus percent of the Bible.

Kurgan: That is your belief, but it is without basis.

Well, it's based on my own personal experience with the Bible. I consider that a basis.

What are you to say to all the people that don't share the same interpretation of the bible you do? That they are stupid and aren't reading the text correctly?

No, I would never say that.

Most disagreements I encounter relative to Scripture interpretation involve peripheral issues (at least, what I consider peripheral), not the heart of the Gospel. For example, the disagreements I've had with Conor over, say, the Eucharist. He interprets certain things literally that I take metaphorically. He has good support for a view he holds, and I give him that. I don't say he's stupid. But I have good support for my view, too.

And that is an area of the Bible that can be interpreted in at least two ways. But from my point of view, that does not render the Bible utterly ambiguous. It just means that on certain secondary issues (again, secondary from my pov, not necessarily secondary from yours or Conors), there will be diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks, and I'm comfortable with that.

But the bedrock portions of Scripture, which I consider most of Scripture, I have always found to be fairly plain and simple.

I'm sure if you grab any sect or group, they read INTO the text, even if they do so only slightly.

Oh, yeah, it's done all the time. All sorts of groups (incl. Protestants and Catholics) read into the Scriptures. But I submit that it would be possible to read into and twist the New York Times or the Encyclopedia Britannica if you wanted to. But nobody wants to. Why? Because you can't base a religion on the NYT or the Encyc. Brit.! You don't gain power over people by twisting the front page of the paper, only by twisting the Scriptures. So, if David Koresh wants his followers to believe he is the Second Coming of Christ, he has to twist the Scriptures, not the New York Times; by twisting the Scriptures and portraying himself as the Second Coming, he gains enormous power.

So there are powerful motives at play for reading into the Scripture. There is little human motivation for reading out of the Scripture because that gives God and the Bible the power and authority instead of taking it unto ourselves.

Classic example of reading into the Scriptures for private motives: You've heard of the Jesus Seminar, no doubt. This is a group of some 200 liberal academicians, scholars, and theologians. They all believe in a liberal social gospel; they claim that they seek the "historical Jesus," and they begin with a premise that Jesus was not God, never performed a miracle, and didn't say many of the things that are attributed to Him in the four gospels. With that as their starting point, they then take a vote using colored marbles as to which statements of Jesus were actually said by the "historical Jesus" of their own imaginations.

According to the Jesus seminar, only one statement of Jesus in Mark was actually said by Him ("render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's..."). That's it! Just one statement in the entire Gospel of Mark! They tossed the rest out. And there is no research, no scholarship, no investigation by historical or archaelogical means, no factual discussion. They simply pool their prejudices and take a vote.

Is it any surprise that the "historical Jesus" that is left after they have stripped away all the "unhistorical" passages of Scripture (according to their prejudices) looks just like themselves? Jesus is not the Messiah or the Son of God or the Savior that the New Testament presents Him to be; no, to them He is nothing but a liberal social reformer like themselves!

That's what happens whenever people read into the Scriptures whatever is in their own imaginations instead of reading out of the Scriptures what is objectively there on the page: They end up recreating God, Jesus, and the Bible in their own images.

If somebody were to take everything in the bible at face value and absolutely literally, they would be utterly confused. Why? Because if you take that route, there are definate contradictions.

Most contradictions are rather easily explained, especially in terms of a better understanding of the original language (I am not a Bible scholar and do not read Hebrew or Greek, but I have good concordances that help me with that). Are there difficult passages? Absolutely. But the idea that the entire Bible is totally up for grabs and without objective meaning is, I think, utterly wrong. It is, not to put too fine a point on it, baloney. And tainted baloney at that.

In my classes, we have covered about 80% of the entire bible, and EVERY SINGLE BOOK has at least four possible interpretations (from the viewpoints I mentioned). People take their assumptions with them as they read.

I don't doubt you, and you did a good job of cataloguing those viewpoints in your other post.

But I insist that the fact that people can and do read into the Scriptures does not mean there is NO plain sense to it, that the Scriptures are hopelessly obscure. You can't convince me of that, because I've read the Book.

I know that some churches have a doctrine tha states that Scripture is unambigious. That is,the text is clear, and that's that. If you hold this belief, I do not wish to offend you by saying I do not agree with this.

You don't offend me at all. I appreciate the chance to clarify my views, and I enjoy hearing your views. I don't think I belong to a church that has such a doctrine. At least I've never heard it expressed per se. I'm responding out of my own experience, not any organized doctrinal position that I'm aware of.

I've been involved in a number of Bible studies where people sit in a group, read a passage, and apply it to everyday life. I keep seeing that people always seem to come away with clarity and insight that they came up with, seemingly on their own, without anyone having to spoonfeed it to them via a commentary. The Bible is simply emininently readable, studyable, and understandable, at least in my own personal experience.

Is it your position, then, that the Bible can only be understood if it is authoritatively interpreted for you by church authority?

--wiz




[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited April 25, 2000).]

theahnfahn
04-25-2000, 10:23 PM
I would just like to say I have been reading the Bible, have found nearly everything to be completely understandable, and comply with nearly every presentation of Wiz's so far. I am unswayed by Conor's arguments, and feel his coining of Wiz's presentation as an attack is merely an expressal that he is now on the defense. And I am utterly against any claims that the Bible is uninterpretable in full by anyone other than an ordained minister of God. This is nonsense, and in and of itself still serves absolutely no purpose. What is the difference in a guy like me doing things for myself and delving into the Bible with an open mind as opposed to a man going to church and still applying these techniques to the information he receives, only this time it is from a different source? I have heard of Purgatory but have never known the belief. I can honestly say the thought never once occured to me in all my reading, and I hardly consider this a lack of my intelligence and judgement.

------------------
And there he is. The reigning champion of the Boonta Classic, and the crowd favorite-TheAhnFahn

wizzywig
04-26-2000, 12:28 AM
Theahnfahn--

I would just like to say I have been reading the Bible, have found nearly everything to be completely understandable...

So you have! And if I remember correctly, you've even been doing most of your reading in the old King James Version, which makes it all the more remarkable that you find it comprehensible.

Kurgan--

I should have said in my previous post that I no doubt have read into the Bible at times rather than reading out of it. But I always make a serious effort to find out what the Bible has to say to me rather than what I can yank out of the Bible for my own purposes. I'm sure I never fully reach a point of absolute purity of motive in that regard--I don't want to sound like I have all the answers were biblical interpretation is involved. I certainly don't!

I just think the Bible is a lot plainer and more open than a lot of people tend to think. And when people think (mistakenly, IMO) that it is difficult to read and understand, they needlessly avoid it and lose out on what the Bible has to say to them.

--wiz

theahnfahn
04-26-2000, 02:44 AM
If you don't mind my saying, the only thing I found dificult was how many people Adam begat http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/wink.gif I understand this is of significance in verifying that these people really lived in those times and that the Bible is a historical narrative, but please people, by all means don't feel obligated to read into every minute detail and memorize it. I started out in Genesis and began to put together a family tree. I soon found out some things are a little more important http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/smile.gif

------------------
And there he is. The reigning champion of the Boonta Classic, and the crowd favorite-TheAhnFahn

wizzywig
04-26-2000, 08:58 PM
In an off-forum exchange with theahnfahn, he made me aware of a defect in the way I have been discussing the issue of faith. (Thanks, ahnfahn!) In an earlier post, I wrote:

Martin Luther held the Chair of Biblical Study at the Catholic University of Wittenberg. While preparing to teach the Old Testament in one of his classes, he was suddenly startled by the implications of a passage he had read many times before, Habakkuk 2:4: “The righteous will live by his faith.” The Catholic church taught that salvation was by faith plus works. But Luther discovered that in the Old Testament and in the New, salvation is by faith alone. As Paul writes in Galatians 3:11 (and reiterates in many ways, in many passages), “Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith." And again, in Ephesians 2:8-9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Now, the idea that the essence of Christianity is faith alone, not faith plus works, is biblically true--but without elaboration, this truth can be terribly misleading. Theahnfahn pointed out that in his own recent study of the Bible, he had observed that obedience to the teaching of Christ was also essential to being an authentic Christian, and this seemed to be a contradiction of the "faith alone" concept I had posted about.

This is a criticism of Protestantism that Kurgan also raised in his previous posts, where he expressed that he could not accept the Reformation doctrines of sola Scriptura (belief in Scripture alone, excluding church tradition as a doctrinal authority) and sola fide (belief in faith alone for salvation). I will dispense with the Latin terminology after this, because I'm not comfortable talking like a theologian. I'm just a guy who's read the Bible, talking about what I've found there.

I think some of the objection to the "faith alone" idea comes from the way it is so often abused. I've known people, theahnfahn's known people, and everyone reading this has probably known people who claimed to be Christians on the basis of faith alone, yet they behave like rotten, scummy people. They say, "I've got faith in Jesus, I'm going to heaven, now I can live any way I want to without worrying about the consequences."

To which I respond, "Think again, pal." Just saying you "believe" something, just giving mental agreement to some facts or a creed, is not what the Bible means by "faith," and the Bible is abundantly clear on that. That's why James 2 says "faith without works is dead." That's why Paul, in Romans 6, says, "Shall we continue sinning so that God's grace may be increased? God forbid! How shall we, who are dead to sin, continue living in it?"

The idea that faith, in the form of a mental agreement to an idea, makes one a Christian is an old heresy that arose in the first century, and which Paul and James specifically wrote those passages to defend against. The heresy was called "antinomianism" from the Greek anti- (against) and nomos (law); that heresy is still with us today in many churches, but it is not true Christianity.

At the same time, the Bible does make it clear that a person can only be a Christian by faith alone, not faith plus works. How do we resolve this seeming contradiction? By understanding what the Bible clearly means by "faith." It is not a mere mental agreement with a doctrine or a creed. It is a total commitment of the self to Jesus Christ. (Kurgan, you may claim that I'm "reading into" the Scripture in order to resolve a seeming contradiction, but I can asbolutely support my position, and do so "sola Scriptura" http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/wink.gif, if you'd like me to.)

If we genuinely have faith in Christ, we cannot live like an unbeliever. To do so would be a total contradiction. If we say we have faith and act as if we have no faith, then it is our actions that speak the truth, not our words. If we truly believe that Jesus is who He says He is, if we believe in the reality of the resurrection, then our lives will be changed. They can't not be changed. We cannot go on living as before. Change has to take place, or our so-called faith means nothing.

My daughter recently expressed this truth in a very simple but profound formulation: "You don't do the good works to become a Christian, you do the good works because you are a Christian." I don't think I've ever heard it put better.

I hope this is a helpful clarification.

--wiz

Kurgan
04-27-2000, 12:41 AM
Okay, maybe I should rephrase this. I probably caused some confusion.

It is probably correct to say that 90% of the bible (if not 100%) is unambigious to those who study it.

In each believer, who actually takes time to study the bible, and not somebody who has never seen one, or only read a couple of pages, the text seems to make sense. That is a given. If you don't understand the bible, you probably study until you do understand it, or you ask somebody to help you explain it to you.

Now I can see what you mean.

However, when you compare HOW one person understands it (their interpretation) based against another, you have contradictory interpretations.

How do you explain that?

How do you know which person has the RIGHT interpretation? If there is no right interpretation, how can you glean any meaning from it at all? And how can you trust anything in it to be true. And if you admit that there is no right interpretation, then aren't you in fact saying that it is ambigious, vague, or simply at the whim of the reader as to what it means?

Btw, the whole thing about the canon I think was a result of the Jewish councils making a canon (the Hebrew Bible as we have it today) AFTER the Christian canon was set up.

In other words, the Jewish scholars chose the books of the Old Testament, and they didn't have the same canon as Christians (they left out some books we included). Then the Reformers basically took the Jewish canon and used it as THEIR old testament, and called the books the Catholic bible still had "apocrypha."

The question in this is, who had the authority to choose which books were to be in the Old Testament, the Christian Church, or the Jewish scribes at a later date?

Obviously, the Jewish scholars would reject the ENTIRE "New" Testament. To them there is no "Old" or "New." The Hebrew bible is the word of God, and the Christian books are just heresies.

Kurgan

Kurgan
04-27-2000, 12:43 AM
Conor, I was wondering. Did you say back there somewhere that only a Roman Catholic priest or bishop could interpret the Bible correctly?

Because I can't find where you did and was wondering if I missed it. Thanks.

Kurgan

Kurgan
04-27-2000, 12:55 AM
Sorry, forgot to answer a question or two. I'll get to all of them eventually.

Wiz, thanks for your explanation. That is somewhat how I resolve that problem myself.

However, when Paul talks about "faith"(by faith ALONE you are saved) and when James talks about faith (faith without works is dead) are they talking about the same thing?

Are works necessary?

Or are they using simply different kinds of "faith"?

I would simply say that what I believe is that the grace of God is all that can save you. If God wants to "save" you, he can. Simple as that.

You do not need to be "saved" unless you are a sinner, of course, and we all are, according to the bible.

However, works, that is, good works, are what you are supposed to do once you are saved, right? Any Christian would agree with you I am sure. I think what Protestants are saying is that you can't go around saying "Well I do good deeds every now and then, but I don't believe in God, and I hate my fellow man in my heart" or something to that effect. In which case, I would agree with them.

Then Catholics will say, "But you can't say "I love Jesus, he's my savior" and read the bible every day, but do nothing to help your brother in need or do any kind of good work. I would agree with that too.

The idea is as a Christian you are supposed to do BOTH. Which I would also agree with.

Yet, the fancy talk of the Protestant is "you are saved only by faith" and that of the Catholic is "faith and works."

So we really are arguing about nothing, it's just rhetoric, because if we are only saved by faith (in the sense of just agreeing in your head or saying you believe) then you're a fraud.

I guess we say "faith and works" because we're afraid people will think it's only faith, and you don't have to do anything. You could argue, well what about if you need faith and works, and you're a parapalegic (sp?) or something, or you convert and then suddenly die. What if you never knew about Christ and you were a good person anyway, but died, would you go to hell then because you didn't have "faith"?

I would simply say that the grace of God could save you in any case, because of God's great mercy.

Then you might ask, so why even bother becoming Christian? I guess the best I can do is say that this path is designed to help you come out of sin and into the light of righteousness. If it didn't work, then there would be no point, but it does, apparently, and so you should do it.

Maybe it sounds wishy-washy and such, but doctrines and philosophical arguments aside, that's the essense of it.

BUT, do you get that from reading the bible or reading INTO the bible? I get the IMPRESSION from reading the New Testament that that's how God operates. But if I take the text at face value.. I have people telling me different things. Oh, you have to believe in Jesus or you can't be saved. Oh, you can believe in Jesus, but you have to believe X, not Y, or Z. Or, oh, you are saved by your faith in Jesus, but NOT by works. Or, you are saved by faith in Jesus AND by works. So which one is it? If it's all of them, then why did the authors bother saying what they said? Why not simply say "God Loves you, and if you love him, then he'll save you, and if you love him you'll do good works as well to show you love him." Why not just say that?

The scary thing to contemplate would be that they didn't say that because they didn't MEAN that. What do you say to that? ; )

Kurgan

Kurgan
04-27-2000, 12:59 AM
Arg, and one more thing.

When one such as you, Wiz, says the bible is unambigious, you mean that what.. when you read it you KNOW what it means, or what it says at face value agrees with everyone else it says? In other words, no passages appear incorrect or contradictory to any other part of the bible?

Because it is true, that one can "gloss over" differences in the larger context.

This is similar to what Zoom Rabbit (bless his little heart) was doing in an old thread, where he was saying all religions agree "on the important points." The trouble is, how do we know what those "important points" are? Aren't we faced with contradictions all over the place? Aren't we forced to delude each religious faith in favor of agreement?

I see it in a similar way when we talk about "the Bible" (which even that means different things to different people). If the point of the bible is simply "God loves you, and wants you to love your neighbor as yourself, and to love God" (as the commandment says), then we shouldn't need to worry about any contradictions. In fact, we don't even need to read the bible. We don't need to do anything, but follow that commandment right? Or is there something more?

Kurgan

Kurgan
04-27-2000, 01:04 AM
I disagree with "Scripture alone" why?

Because I do not worship Scripture. (yeah yeah, you can make an argument about "the word" but the word isn't a book, it's Jesus Christ)

Scripture did not create the universe. Scripture did not die on the cross for my sins. All it is is a book (really a bunch of books) that some guys who thought they were doing God's will decided to bring together into one collection.

God, is the one. God INSPIRED Scripture, and God INSPIRES us, so then we, as teachers, are not below scripture, we ARE scripture. But ONLY because of God, not because of what we have done.

So when you interpret the bible, you are already reading into it, no matter what. And you are taking the meaning you bring to it, or you make from it, not what the authors originally intended (not all of the authors anyway).

So perhaps, one could say, this is God's way of making sure the message comes through correctly. His authors may have "miswrote" but we'll get the right meaning from it anyway. And I better quit for now and get back to work! ; )

Kurgan

wizzywig
04-27-2000, 06:20 PM
Kurgan--

However, when you compare HOW one person understands it (their interpretation) based against another, you have contradictory interpretations. How do you explain that? How do you know which person has the RIGHT interpretation? If there is no right interpretation, how can you glean any meaning from it at all? And how can you trust anything in it to be true. And if you admit that there is no right interpretation, then aren't you in fact saying that it is ambigious, vague, or simply at the whim of the reader as to what it means?

You jogged my memory on an important point with these questions. People can definitely take several LAYERS of meaning away from a single passage of Scripture. It doesn't mean that one person or the other is wrong or that the passage is ambiguous or vague. It means that the passage is so deep and rich that different people can extract many facets of meaning from it.

I know that in my own life I have read and reread the Bible at different times, and each time I read it, I discover something new that I never saw before. Each time, the passage offers some new and different insight for my life. That doesn't mean the new insight cancels out the previous insight, that there is contradiction. It just means that the meaning of the passage continues to unfold in new and more profound ways.

An example of such a passage would be Psalm 22, which on the surface is a Psalm of David's plight while being hunted by his enemies. That is the normal Jewish interpretation. However, in hindsight since the cross, it becomes clear that this is a prophetic passage describing the suffering of the Messiah. Which interpretation is correct? They both are. Both levels of meaning are true. The passage is rich enough to support that much meaning. Yet it is not in any way ambiguous or vague.

Now, where different people get a conflicting message from a given passage, this is almost always a result of what we bring to the passage. Conor and I each read the Holy Communion passages and each find a contradictory meaning. I see no reason not to treat the language as symbolic. Conor cannot help but see it as literal, the bread IS Christ's flesh, the wine IS His blood.

So we differ. But is this an essential difference? I submit that, even though it is essential in Conor's mind and in the teaching of the Catholic church, it can be demonstrated that it is not truly an essential difference. The Catholic church does not view me as an enemy of the faith because of my position on the Eucharist; it considers me and people like me "separated brethren." If this was truly an essential core issue of the faith (by which I mean an issue that decides whether or not a person is a genuine Christian), I could not be considered a brother or a Christian. I would have to be considered a nonChristian and an enemy of true Christianity.

Kurgan, do you have some concrete examples of a Scripture passages that are so ambiguous that they are wildly intepreted all over the map? (Other than the book of Revelation, of course! http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/smile.gif) I'd be interested in the specific sections you have in mind--particularly if entire books are involved.

Btw, the whole thing about the canon I think was a result of the Jewish councils making a canon (the Hebrew Bible as we have it today) AFTER the Christian canon was set up.

I did a quick check on the Hebrew canon and here's what I found out:

The whole Law (The Pentateuch) was recognized as authoritative by 400 - 350 B.C. ... The books of the Prophets gradually came to be reverenced on a level with the Law, perhaps by 200 B.C. ... The two events which led to the final closing of the Jewish Canon were the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and the rise of Christianity. The fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple deprived the Jews of the center of their religious life, gave rise to fears that the faith would be diluted or destroyed, and made it vital that the authentic scriptures should be carefully guarded. The rise of Christianity, with its claims to its own interpretation of the Old Testament and its vast body of apocalyptic and Messianic literature, generally unacceptable to the Jews, was another danger. The institution which dealt with this crisis was the academy at Jamnia in Palestine, where many of the best minds of Judaism had congregated. There at the so-called Council of Jamnia, c. 90 - 100 A.D., some books accepted by Hellenistic Jews or by Christians were excluded and the Hebrew Canon established more or less in permanent form. ... It should be emphasized that the works retained in the Canon had long been recognized as sacred and vital in the religious life of the community. The Council of Jamnia merely confirmed what had long been accepted.
Source: Old Testament: Literary Forms In The Old Testament, Monarch Notes, 01-01-1963.

So the Hebrew canon was finalized after the rise of Christianity but before the Christian canon was finalized.

Later--
--wiz




[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited April 27, 2000).]

Ikhnaton
04-27-2000, 06:34 PM
wiz, if you want an example of scripture being interpreted all over the place, just look at the accounts of the Last Supper. After all, it is this chapter (and John 6) that are one of the biggest causes of rifts among Christian sects.

Kurgan
04-27-2000, 07:07 PM
Sorry Wiz, as far as you not understanding, that was only my impression of you, obviously you feel you do understand, and you have said that you do. Having read your posts carefully, I feel that you do at least THINK you do. I just felt that you did not really understand each other, otherwise you would not still be arguing over the same things.

I would like to make it clear right now that I am not trying to be confrontational, or judgemental. I am only trying to present other points of view to the discussion, while expressing my own viewpoint, and anything I may agree or disagree with in what people have said.

I will also say right now that I am behind on this thread.

I have been trying to follow it, but I lack the time (between classes is when I generally am on this thread) to read the entire thing and interpret it in light of this.

So, I apologize if you say something, then several posts later, recant or clarify that statement and I end up looking like an idiot because I didn't read your next twenty responses. I'm actually on page six near the bottom right now. I am trying to address each question/comment on my posts in the order of which it was recieved. It's annoying to me that I can't keep up, really, I'm sorry.

Perhaps you would prefer that I read the entire thread, before posting at all. At one time that was possible, but I've been so busy, and I WANT to contribute, but I only have time to read it one post at a time.

I guess it's just a quirk of mine, like Vagabond's dislike of long-drawn out single posts (if I remember correctly Vagy, you did say you didn't like 'em).

So, please, excuse me if I miss something you say later on, I'll get to it eventually!

In this way it is kind of too bad that this message board isn't structured like those where it pushes messages to the left and you can respond to individual posts, not just in a long, linear thread where each new posts appears at the bottom as a response to the opening message.

I guess the whole point of my last few contributions was that, from the way I see it, (you are free to disagree with me of course), EVERYONE reads into the bible, except maybe those who totally reject it (and those people simply are denying that the premises of the bible are true, for example they say there is no God, so God can't have said this, etc). I think that nobody who believes the bible can NOT read into it, even a bit, because otherwise they run into so many problems. There are ways around these problems: eliminating passages that disagree with an otherwise coherent theology from the text, or by glossing over certain parts and saying they were cultural things that are different now, or by interpreting certain parts symbolically. This however, I consider to be "reading into the text." Reading into it is adding or subtracting or changing anything, other than what the text literally says, word for word. That's call interpretation.

If I say "all pigs are green" then what I am saying is that "pigs" "all of them" "are" and "green." To know what I mean by that, you have to know what I mean by "all" "pigs" "are" and "green" otherwise, you end up interpreting it and reading into it.

Do I mean pigs as in the animal, like a slang term for greedy people or policemen, or am I making some kind of metaphor, or what? Do I mean by green, rich? Do I mean prosperous, or do I mean the color green? What color of green do I mean? When I say they are green, am I saying they are equal to somebody who is rich, or do I mean that they are the physical color, or do I mean they are "new"? That is what I am trying to say when it comes to the bible. Because of the time and language, and cultural and socio-political barriers, and because the audience and the writers were fallible humans, then we are bound to interpretation.

Yes, some people believe that God prevents people from erring in interpreting the text, that is unless they are tricked by Satan into a false interpretation. That's their belief. Some people believe that God's word simply (as a doctrine of faith) is clear. You read it, you understand it. The only way you can miss the message is if you are somehow tainted by evil and you try to WILL another meaning onto it. Those people are entitled to their belief.

What I believe is that the meaning is not 90% clear. You have to read your own meaning into it, even if you only read a bit into it. Whether it's 90%, 80%, 10%, or 0%, the text is not clear. Otherwise, everyone would have the same interpretation. That fact alone says to me that it is not clear. But, that is my belief, and many people I am sure would disagree. I am sure you are posting reasons why you feel it is clear, and I'm happy to read those and understand why you feel that way. A group that you would say "reads into" the Bible, would probably say to you, that YOU, not them are the one being deluded and reading it wrong. For example someone who says Jesus only was being symbolic in one place and literal in another, when you take the opposite side, would say you were reading into the text, because to them the meaning is "clear."

And that, in so many words is what I think.

I'll get back to the rest of this thread later. Thanks for putting up with me. ; )

Kurgan

[This message has been edited by Kurgan (edited April 27, 2000).]

quite-gone gin
04-27-2000, 07:22 PM
Hey, I'm just answering the first question - I didn't have time to read through all the replies , there's a lot of them and scanning some seemed like there was some pretty good discussion going on.

I was raised in Christianity as a conservative Baptist, and I now am probably a mild charismatic.

I agree with what I read on page 1 about 1st century Christianity being the key. Whether you're talking RCC of 2000 years or a Pentecostal movement of 1 century, tradition creeps in quick. The sad thing is when tradition comes in and changes the focus of a church or movement, or waters it down, or whatever. The word "Christian" originally meant "little Christ". In other words, that title was applied because the 1st century church reminded people of Jesus. And in fact, the job of the church is to continue the work of Jesus on earth until he returns, and also to become more like him.

What was Jesus like and what did he do? That is what the church as a whole should look like and should be doing. I defy anyone to read through the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and say that Jesus isn't someone they would love to be around and want to follow. He loved ceaselessly, healed the sick, freed the oppressed, wept with broken people, rejoiced with happy people, fed the hungry, protected the weak, corrected the strong, assaulted religious hypocrisy (why? because it oppressed people he loved and kept them from what God had for them), and on and on. Read those books of the Bible with the mindset of seeing what he was like. If that was who he was and who he is, and he is God's son, and God is like that too - would you follow someone like that? give your life for someone like that?

If "Christians" were like Jesus and being at church was like being surrounded by a bunch of people who reminded you of him, who wouldn't go? If you were sick or hungry and could go to any church or any Christian to get healed and fed, who wouldn't come? The loss of those things is the tragedy. And those things are lost when different branches of Christianity war against each other over minor things, when churches split over whether to get pews or padded chairs (it happens!)

And as far as "Will I have to become a goodie-goodie and give up things I enjoy?", no...you eventually will WANT to become more like him, and when he asks you to let go of those things, you do because you trust him and love him, and trust is love for you. There's a big difference there!

Too many Christians walk around Bible-thumping everybody. Why should someone who doesn't believe in the Bible care what is says about do's and don'ts? Whay should someone who doesn't know God, doesn't believe in him, and doesn't know his love care about what he says? Holiness and purity are important, but they are the result, the FRUIT of spending time with Jesus, of walking with him, of him revealing himself to you, of the Holy Spirit working in a life, of trust, of time...check Jesus out, if he seems cool, ask him to reveal himself to you and he will. Read the book about him. He'll take care of you and your life and work out all the kinks. It is a journey...a good one!

BTW, my screen-name is a play on words. I'm not a drunk. I've actually tried gin and don't care much for it!

Kurgan
04-27-2000, 08:06 PM
Okay, one more thing before I get back to class (I'm gonna be late if I can't pull myself away, lol):

But the idea that the entire Bible is totally up for grabs and without objective meaning is, I think, utterly wrong.

Yes, I agree with you. Thanks for seeing my pov in the "reading into scripture" part. This was the topic of my final short paper for the class (topic: "What is the New Testament?").

I do believe that the Bible has meaning, and that it is important to try to find and understand this meaning. Different people's lives may be improved by their understanding of the Bible. I notice you say "most" when you talk about which problems can be cleared up. You, like me, realize that overgeneralizations are not good (ha, was that itself an overgeneralization?). There are often exceptions.

Your position is that where Christians differ, is in unimportant issues. Yet in your critique of Purgatory, you basically are saying two things:

-the belief in Purgatory is unessential to Christianity, and harmless

and

-the belief Purgatory is anti-Christian in nature, and thus very harmful

Because, while you say it doesn't matter if people believe in it or not (but apparently this could affect your salvation because it would in theory affect how you live your life, etc), you say that from your POV, it's not in the Bible, and people have abused the doctrine for personal gain and to hurt others and become rich, which is anti-Christian. Therefore it should not be believed.

So in other words, doctrines are okay, but only as long as they don't cause what you see as harm.

I see your position then as a compromise.

It's like the whole religion thing. Everybody believes their religion or viewpoint is the "right" one, whether they admit it to themselves or not. If it was not important, they would not be a member of the denomination or group. If they were truly honest about an "anything goes" and "live and let live" attitude, they would simply become an agnostic. That is what I think. Because you're having it too ways.

On the one hand I'm saying to you, I am a Catholic, I believe X, Y, and Z, and that's the right way.

Then I'm saying to you, but I could be totally wrong, and the truth could actually be A, B, and C, or you could be right. And I say you should believe what you want, and not what I believe, and decide for yourself, and it doesn't matter if you disagree with me, etc.

I'm holding contradictory positions, aren't I? I'm saying I'm okay, you're okay, but my beliefs are saying "He's not okay." And I think that's what you believe as well, in essence. And in essence we all do.

I guess maybe this is a paradoxial device we use in our minds in order to achieve balance so we can actually talk about this stuff without sending hell fire down on each other every other second. It's just so we can be polite and "non-judgemental" while we discuss.

This is getting more and more interesting.. but I really must go (for now). doh!

Keep it up.. by the time I come back from E3, I should have a wonderful novel to read from these posts. ; )

Kurgan

wizzywig
04-27-2000, 09:37 PM
Kurgan--

I think you're misunderstanding me--unless I'm misunderstanding you! http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/smile.gif

Your position is that where Christians differ, is in unimportant issues. Yet in your critique of Purgatory, you basically are saying two things:

-the belief in Purgatory is unessential to Christianity, and harmless
and
-the belief Purgatory is anti-Christian in nature, and thus very harmful

Let me phrase that to better reflect what I'm trying to say (and thanks for giving me the opportunity to clarify). For an individual like Conor to believe in Purgatory is probably harmless to his own individual faith. You do not need to believe in Purgatory to be a Christian, and believing in it will probably not harm your faith or standing with God (it is likely to make you a better person if you take it seriously).

Where it is harmful is in a totally different area than our standing with God. It is harmful in that it has (centuries ago) been used to oppress people and keep them in bondage to a corrupt church institution. It is harmful in that it has caused enormous emotional and mental suffering. I think it is harmful in that it creates a false image of God as a vengeful dungeon-master who inflicts torture on people as a means to purify them. That is not a New Testament image of God ("God is love"), and I think that false image has the potential of driving a spiritual/emotional wedge between people and God.

So, by looking quite specifically at the doctrine, we can see that it is harmless in the most important way (our salvation and standing with Christ is probably not affected either way), though it does cause "collateral damage" to our psyches.

you say that from your POV, it's not in the Bible, and people have abused the doctrine for personal gain and to hurt others and become rich, which is anti-Christian. Therefore it should not be believed.

Not exactly. In stead of "Therefore it should not be believed," substitute "therefore I don't believe it." But I don't object to Conor or you or anyone else believing it. I am not an evangelist for an antiPurgatory campaign.

So in other words, doctrines are okay, but only as long as they don't cause what you see as harm. I see your position then as a compromise.

Nonbiblical doctrines are mistaken, IMO, but if they are mistaken and harmless, I don't worry about it or try to convert others to my pov (I have not been trying to convert Conor to my pov, just explain it, because he termed my pov irrational).

And yes, I am quite willing to compromise and be tolerant on many things that I see as peripheral and nonessential. That's part of getting along and practicing Christlike love in the body of believers. You stand firm on the essentials, bend on the nonessentials.

It's like the whole religion thing. Everybody believes their religion or viewpoint is the "right" one, whether they admit it to themselves or not. If it was not important, they would not be a member of the denomination or group. If they were truly honest about an "anything goes" and "live and let live" attitude, they would simply become an agnostic. That is what I think. Because you're having it too ways.

I don't agree with that. I believe you can have absolutely rock-hard convictions about your core beliefs (the deity of Christ, say, or the reality of the resurrection), yet practice honest tolerance in the nonessential areas. In fact, I believe that's the way I live. You don't have to become an agnostic, you just have to know what is core belief and what is peripheral. You just have to know when to stand firm and when to flex.

Every aspect of my belief system does not have to be defended with life-or-death tenacity.

I'm holding contradictory positions, aren't I? I'm saying I'm okay, you're okay, but my beliefs are saying "He's not okay." And I think that's what you believe as well, in essence. And in essence we all do.

I don't think that's what I believe. In this discussion, I'm saying I'm okay and Conor's okay. My beliefs say, "Well, Conor's probably wrong about (for example) The Eucharist and Purgatory, but what harm does it do? What really matters is that Conor and I follow the same Lord. If he has some views about what I consider nonessentials (yes, I understand they're essential to him, but even that's okay with me), no harm done. We agree on the Big Things, disagree on the little things, everything's cool. I'm even genuinely aware that he could be right and I could be wrong. I don't think so, but I'm always open to the possibility.

I don't think there's a contradiction or paradox in there. I think everything fits together perfectly. Not that I'm uncomfortable with paradox; there's a lot of honest-to-gosh paradox in the Christian faith. But in this case, I think it's just a matter of being able to distinguish between core issues and edge issues, and where Conor and I differ is around the edges.

--wiz



[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited April 27, 2000).]

wizzywig
04-27-2000, 10:31 PM
Welcome, quite-gone gin!

I think you'll find this a congenial place to exchange views. We learn a lot from each other 'round here.

C'ya!

--wiz

wizzywig
04-28-2000, 02:04 AM
Kurgan--

I didn't really finish responding to your comments about the Old Testament canon. Your point is that the Christian church decided on a canon that included the Apocrypha, then the Jewish scholars solidified a canon that excluded the Apocrypha, and the Reformation sided with the Jewish scholars rather than with church fathers in tossing out the Apocrypha as well. I believe that is your point.

In other words, the Jewish scholars chose the books of the Old Testament, and they didn't have the same canon as Christians (they left out some books we included). Then the Reformers basically took the Jewish canon and used it as THEIR old testament, and called the books the Catholic bible still had "apocrypha."

The question in this is, who had the authority to choose which books were to be in the Old Testament, the Christian Church, or the Jewish scribes at a later date?

The canon is determined by the church (which, as we have seen, can be a slippery term). Though the Septuagint canon became the Old Testament of the RC church, the precise content of the Septuagint actually varied from region to region. The Greek Orthodox church accepted the Septuagint, Apocrypha and all, but the Roman Catholic Church actually debated the legitimacy of the Apocrypha right up to the time of Luther. Jerome, one of the highest and most respected of the church fathers, actually rejected the validity of the Apocrypha, and Catholic scholars debated its legitimacy right up until the Reformation.

Martin Luther's objections to the apocrypha were actually based on those of Jerome. Like Jerome, Luther felt it was okay to use the Apocrypha as a worship resource and for historical and moral instruction, but did not view the Apocrypha as authoritative in matters of doctrine. It was only when Luther challenged the Apocrypha in this way that the Pope responded by proclaiming the Apocrypha to be Scripture on the same level of canonicity as the rest of the Old Testament. In fact, many Roman Catholic scholars at the time protested the Pope's action.

Today, the RCC considers the Apocrypha "deuterocanonical," or secondarily canonical. That is not to say the Apocrypha lacks full authority as Scripture in the Catholic church. The Apocrypha was accepted as fully authoritative Scripture, but that acceptance came at a later time than the rest of the Old Testament. It is chronologically secondary, according to the RC church.

The problem with doctrines that have accreted after the close of Scripture at the end of the first century (such as the doctrine of Purgatory, which is not mentioned or alluded to anywhere in the OT or NT, but only briefly in the Apocrypha) is that such late-added doctrines run afoul of this passage of Scripture:

"Every word of God is flawless. ... Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar."
--Proverbs 30:5-6

--wiz

wizzywig
04-28-2000, 05:09 AM
Ikhnaton--

wiz, if you want an example of scripture being interpreted all over the place, just look at the accounts of the Last Supper. After all, it is this chapter (and John 6) that are one of the biggest causes of rifts among Christian sects.

You're referring to the passages which speak either symbolically (the Protestant view) or literally and miraculously (the Catholic view) of the Eucharist/Holy Communion. I am not aware that these passages are "interpreted all over the place," but I am aware of the two interpretations I just mentioned. Of course, this is an issue that Conor and I have been all over.

Are there other variations of interpretation of these passages?

If it is just these two interpretations, then I agree that it is a major distinction between the Catholic and Protestant traditions. I wouldn't call it a "rift," exactly, at least not from my pov, because I feel I can have fellowship with all my Catholic friends even though I don't view the Eucharist as they do. (To me, the word "rift" suggests animosity; if by that word you mean just a simple division of opinion, then yes, it is a rift in that sense.)

--wiz

muchafraid
04-28-2000, 05:37 AM
I haven’t completely been following this whole discussion, but one truth remains above all else, wheatear you believe in the Bible or not, everyone has the choice of free will. People can think for themselves, make choices, and have the ability to grow and adapt. And maybe the fact that you are having this conversation right now is basis enough that there is something bigger out there. It is my belief that evil is the absence of God, does this mean that God does not care? Or that if God was so loving and so caring that he would not allow evil to continue? The truth remains, we have a choice. The choice to serve God, for He only wants what is best, or we can continue on our own ‘so to speak’ because only we know best. It is not religion, it is a relationship, a daily choice.

muchafraid

[This message has been edited by muchafraid (edited April 28, 2000).]

wizzywig
04-28-2000, 06:16 AM
Kurgan--

Sorry to make more reading for you, but I'll be as brief as possible (yeah, right!).

When Paul talks about "faith"(by faith ALONE you are saved) and when James talks about faith (faith without works is dead) are they talking about the same thing?

I think so, yes. They both use the same Greek word pistis, which means not just mental agreement assurance, conviction, trust, and fidelity--the character of one who can be relied on. Paul says it is faith alone that saves, but both Paul and James say that if you say you have faith but live like the devil, your so-called "faith" is a fraud.

Are works necessary?

What do we mean by works. Paul talks of "works of the law," meaning not only good deeds but rituals and observances. He fought those who would bring the old Jewish law (such as circumcision) into Christianity as a burden on Gentile believers. I think, based on what Paul teaches, much of Christianity has become overly laden with ritual and tradition that obscures the reality of the Christian RELATIONSHIP (not religion). When James talks of "works" in James 2, however, he seems to refer more to good works, such as helping the needy, etc.

I'm convinced that the works don't save, but if you don't have good works, then you probably don't have the faith that does save. It's a subtle concept, but elegant, as so much authentic truth tends to be.

I would simply say that what I believe is that the grace of God is all that can save you. If God wants to "save" you, he can. Simple as that.

Well, yes. It's all grace. Faith is our response to God's grace. Ephesians 2:8-- "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--"

James says very clearly (2:18) "Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do." No doubt about it, he is not saying that works save us, but that works demonstrate that we have a saving faith.

So we really are arguing about nothing, it's just rhetoric, because if we are only saved by faith (in the sense of just agreeing in your head or saying you believe) then you're a fraud.

I totally agree.

What if you never knew about Christ and you were a good person anyway, but died, would you go to hell then because you didn't have "faith"?

All I know is that God judges justly. The more "light" we are given, the more He holds us responsible for that light. Beyond that, I confess I do not know.

But if I take the text at face value.. I have people telling me different things. Oh, you have to believe in Jesus or you can't be saved. Oh, you can believe in Jesus, but you have to believe X, not Y, or Z. Or, oh, you are saved by your faith in Jesus, but NOT by works. Or, you are saved by faith in Jesus AND by works. So which one is it? If it's all of them, then why did the authors bother saying what they said? Why not simply say "God Loves you, and if you love him, then he'll save you, and if you love him you'll do good works as well to show you love him." Why not just say that?

I think Paul did say that. If I understand you correctly, I think you are describing the essence of the book of Romans.

In other words, no passages appear incorrect or contradictory to any other part of the bible?

Oh, there are problem passages, all right, and seeming contradictions. Many, however, evaporate when properly understood.

For example, there is a common misconception that Genesis 1 and 2 present two conflicting creation accounts. On closer examination, it turns out that the misunderstanding is due to a problem in translating a Hebrew verb tense into English. For centuries, no Jewish theologian ever saw this supposed "conflict"--it only arose after the Bible was translated into English.

I disagree with "Scripture alone" why?
Because I do not worship Scripture.

I don't worship Scripture either. But Scripture points to God, whom I do worship. Therefore I read it and trust it. I'm not sure I see the connection between the "Scripture alone" concept and "worshiping Scripture."

All it is is a book (really a bunch of books) that some guys who thought they were doing God's will decided to bring together into one collection.

God, is the one. God INSPIRED Scripture, and God INSPIRES us, so then we, as teachers, are not below scripture, we ARE scripture. But ONLY because of God, not because of what we have done.

You really lost me there. We ARE Scripture? I'm baffled. Scripture is inspired in an amazing way, so amazing that the Book of Daniel predicts the exact day of Christ's Palm Sunday entry into Jerusalem, and Psalm 22 predicts the nature of His death in excruciating detail, hundreds of years before the Romans invented the cross. That kind of inspiration is beyond any mere human sense of being "inspired" by God.

So when you interpret the bible, you are already reading into it, no matter what. And you are taking the meaning you bring to it, or you make from it, not what the authors originally intended (not all of the authors anyway).

Here are some rules for Scripture interpretation that are designed to guard against reading into the text and missing the authors' original intention:

Rules for Interpreting Scripture

>Since Jesus spoke and the Bible writers wrote primarily for the people of their day, always consider the historical, geographical, and cultural setting of the passage you are studying.

>Always consider the context of the unit, chapter, and book when interpreting a text. The meaning of each verse must agree with the theme of the unit, chapter, and book, as well as the overall teaching of the Bible.

>When interpreting a passage or verse, make sure to study each sentence grammatically to get the correct meaning.

>Make sure to get the meaning of each text as intended by the Bible writer or inspired speaker before making application.

>Difficult texts must be interpreted in the light of the clear teachings of the whole Bible. Therefore, study all that Scripture teaches on a given subject before coming to a conclusion on any single verse.

>The New Testament must be interpreted in the light of the Old Testament and vice versa. The Old Testament is promise and the New Testament is fulfillment. Both complement each other.

>For accuracy, use the best translations and, if at all possible, compare with the original text.

Now, these rules do make an assumption that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, and that God speaks with one consistent voice throughout, even though that voice is set down by many different writers. If that assumption is mistaken, rules such as "interpret the OT in light of the NT and vice versa" will actually have you "reading into" the text on the basis of that assumption. But by operating on that assumption, I always find incredible richness and consistency and sensibility to the Bible, despite the fact that it consists of 66 books by many human writers from a number of cultures writing over a period of a few thousand years.

I read it, and I hear only one Voice.

--wiz



[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited April 28, 2000).]

wizzywig
04-28-2000, 06:18 AM
muchafraid--

It is not religion, it is a relationship, a daily choice.

Precisely.

--wiz

Kurgan
04-28-2000, 12:21 PM
Wiz, just a quick comment, as I only have a moment to be on here and no time to sort through all that (thanks for posting it though, I'll eventually get to it).

I think that what was said earlier about people casting God, Jesus, and the Bible in their own "mould" was true. Protestants see the early Church as Protestant, Catholics see it as Catholic, Secular Humanists either see it as a crazy superstition or as a liberal humanist group that was taken over by crazy fanatics later on.

Everybody wants to claim ownership to this man Jesus and his mission in one way or another, or else attack him and take away his throne (out of fear and/or jealousy).

One part before: you mentioned that a Christian doctrine that is peripheral (that you consider peripheral and unessential anyway) is harmless as long as you don't use it to hurt others. Okay.

But, if this is true, and you seem to be saying it is, then by that same logic, any religious belief is okay, as long as it is not used to hurt others, is it not? If the basic message of Christianity is to merely believe that there is a God, and his Son, Jesus, died for my sins, and I should be "good." That's all I need. So I could believe anything else I wanted to, right?

So then why bother with any of this stuff? If Purgatory, the Eucharist, etc don't matter, why bother with it? Why accept it, why condemn it? You seem to be saying that you reject it, because you feel the "early Church" was protestant, so you reject things you consider to be "later additions" (essentially Catholic doctrines in other words). I think I begin to see your train of thought here. Of course people like Conor would simply argue that those "uniquely Catholic doctrines" were PART of the Early Church, then so if they were unessential then, they are unessential now as well, if you meld those two together. So either some of the things the early church taught were incorrect, or unessential from the very beginning, or you would have to prove instead that those doctrines did NOT EXIST until much later. I thought there were some things posted that gave evidence they did exist in the first century. Certainly not all Christians believed them, but enough did. An example I will give from my class:

at the time of Jesus's death, there arose several movements, at about the same time. The Apostles themselves are portrayed as more or less being united, but it is almost certain that they did not agree on everything, and even the earliest disciples differed and some formed their own groups. This is where critical scholarship comes in. A traditional Christian would probably say that there was ONE group, the Apostles, and then everybody else (they probably wouldn't include Paul here), and so the Apostles were right (orthodox) and everyone else was heretical. Thus the "True" Church was the apostles, and this is the early church the Protestant Reformation was trying to "get back to." This is the Church the RCC is claiming to be a continuation of.

However, what about those other groups? Clearly they had some differing (often radical) beliefs. This gets into the whole "who is a Christian" and "does what you believe matter"? issues.

For example, the Gnostics, they were part of the early Church (true, their writings came from the second century, but evidence suggest they most surely were around in the first century), so are they part of the "invisible church" you mentioned? If they led good lives and believed in Christ (even though their beliefs differed drastically from all other Christians of the time) wouldn't they be saved, even though by today's Protestant and Catholic standards, they were heretics?

So if I wanted to get back to the early Church, how do I know which Christian group was "right"? Was it the adoptionists? The Gnostics? The Marcionites? The proto-Orthodox? None of those other groups survived (well the Gnostics resurfaced), but let's say modern Christians want to "get back to the source." What is the source?

The only source I can see is Jesus himself. However, he left no writings, so we have to trust what his followers said about him.

However, each early Christian group has a bunch of writings, gospels, which have Jesus saying WHAT THEY BELIEVED!

So how do we know? The ones in the bible are mostly proto-orthodox. Yet, John's gospel was used by the Marcionites (I think) and by the Gnostics. Each group had their own gospels, but these got left out by the later Orthodox canonical committees.

Do you see what I'm saying? The current bible says that our beliefs "the orthodox" are correct. Yet, if you read a Gnostic gospel, you'll see Jesus saying stuff that supports Gnostic beliefs. So which Jesus is the "real" Jesus? That was the point of the Jesus seminar. I know that they were biased, I agree, but their aim was an important one.

How do we know that the gospels of the Bible present the real Jesus and not simply one biased towards ONE of the early Christian groups? (or several, mish-mashed together).

My point is that if you want to get back to a "pure" first century Christianity, you still have to choose what beliefs you're going to accept, because even then, from the very beginning, you had diversity, and many groups.

If we make a distinction and say the "winners" who "wrote history" (the orthodox) were right, how do we know they were right? Early Christianity was not pure apparently. There were all kinds of different beliefs. Even in the Gospels, you get hints and mentions of rival schools and groups that came about all at the same time.

Again, if the Bible is your final authority, I wonder, what shows you that the canon established eventually that became the NT canon of today, is the final one and there is no more revelation or writings? Marcion had the first canon, yet he was called a heretic by the proto-orthodox and his was rejected. But he had plenty of followers, and they made equal claims to being Jesus's followers. The canon of the Catholics apparently wasn't good enough, as the Jews made their's and it excluded some of the OT books the Christians used. Then the Protestants rejected the Catholic canon in favor of one that included the Hebrew canon. So apparently the canon was flexible for some time after the bible was written.

And BEFORE the bible was written (this was the time of the early Church), how do we know the writings that went into the bible were the right ones?

In short, if Gnostics had won out, and written the bible, we would be Gnostics today and reading Gnostic bibles today. I would be curious to research the reasons WHY the proto-orthodox won out. My class did not cover this. I have heard rumors it was because of Imperial persecutions, but I do not know for sure.

It seems that you wish to accept the "pure first century Christianity" which apparently means the Christianity that was based on the one that was dominant around the time the Bible was put together. Is this so? I guess I don't see early Christianity, just early Christianties(plural). But if you say that beliefs don't necessarily matter (some are unessential) then this is okay. You can pick any early Christian group you feel best with.

Finally, I know you are saying essentially, that all those who believe in Christ and that we should live a decent life are the Christians. This is the invisible "body of Christ." Your personal preference is that you wish to belong to the "early pure first century Church of the New Testament" because you feel that modern Churches are tainted by "unessential doctrines" and "human traditions," which you feel were absent from this "early Christianity" so you go about this by trying to live by the Bible as interpreted by a protestant, which you feel is the correct interpretation (as far as you are concerned, at least the "best" or "most correct" one). Yet you do not wish others to be forced to this belief, but they must decide for themselves.

I can certainly see your logic here, and for the most part I agree. I doubt all Christians will ever agree on everything. If only a few doctrines can be agreed upon, or at least a few things, and we can all be good people, I guess that's the best we can hope for. But I don't think we should stop talking to each other, and discussing ideas.

I don't believe that I can prove to anyone beyond all possible doubt, that the Roman Catholic Church, as it is today, or as it was 2,000 years ago is the ONE TRUE CHURCH. I never claimed it was perfect, or that anyone was. I cannot also prove that the Bible is true beyond all possible doubt. I can lend historical data (where available) and statistics to try to support my points, but in the end, the evidence is up for grabs interpretation-wise.

Honestly, I think if I ever were to change my religion, it would be to Judaism, because that was the religion of Jesus and his apostles. Of course I'd probably say he was the Messiah. But then I would have to reject certain Gospels.. and that's a whole 'nother story. Just hypothetical of course. ; )

Kurgan

Ikhnaton
04-28-2000, 03:43 PM
Originally fibbed by Kurgan:
Wiz, just a quick comment, as I only have a moment to be on here and no time to sort through all that..that was a quick comment?? http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/wink.gif

wizzywig
04-28-2000, 04:36 PM
Kurgan--

It is always fascinating in a dialogue to hear one's own views reflected back from another person. There is a strong resemblence to what was in my mind when I posted, but some of the nuances are a bit off-kilter. Which is what normally takes place in communication between people.

you mentioned that a Christian doctrine that is peripheral (that you consider peripheral and unessential anyway) is harmless as long as you don't use it to hurt others.

And as long as it causes you no harm.

But, if this is true, and you seem to be saying it is, then by that same logic, any religious belief is okay, as long as it is not used to hurt others, is it not?

Some doctrines and beliefs might cause no overt harm to other people, but belief in them could be hazardous to one's own soul. There are, for example, various cults/groups that have works-centered beliefs (you must do this ritual, follow this practice, carry out this procedure, perform this service in order to be saved). When the focus is on such works or rituals, the reality of a living faith relationship (trust relationship) with Jesus Christ becomes obscured by the fog. Those peripheral beliefs become the focus and the core belief gets lost. In such cases, peripherals become a dangerous deception.

If the basic message of Christianity is to merely believe that there is a God, and his Son, Jesus, died for my sins, and I should be "good." That's all I need. So I could believe anything else I wanted to, right?

See above.

So then why bother with any of this stuff? If Purgatory, the Eucharist, etc don't matter, why bother with it? Why accept it, why condemn it? You seem to be saying that you reject it, because you feel the "early Church" was protestant...

Whoa! Nope. The early church was Christian, period. Catholicism has added a lot of baggage to original Christianity, but so has Protestantism.

I think the purest expression of first century Christianity I've ever known was when I was involved with a couple of "house churches." We met in homes midweek (in addition to Sunday worship at the "big church"), studied the Bible and prayed together, sometimes shared meals and songs together, and were closely involved in each others lives--praying for each other through the week, helping with problems and needs, etc. That is the kind of Christianity I see in the book of Acts--not megachurches with expensive buildings, stained glass, etc. I'm not knocking the megachurches per se, but it is clear that megachurches do not resemble the house-to-house worship and close, caring community of the first century church.

...so you reject things you consider to be "later additions" (essentially Catholic doctrines in other words).

Yes, but also a lot of Protestant trappings.

I think I begin to see your train of thought here. Of course people like Conor would simply argue that those "uniquely Catholic doctrines" were PART of the Early Church...

Yes, that is Conor's argument. The RCC is first century Christianity.

...you would have to prove instead that those doctrines did NOT EXIST until much later.

Hard to prove a negative. But if you view the Scriptures as complete and sufficient revelation (and I think a careful examination of the Bible shows that it is), then anything that is taught that cannot be found in or justified from the Scriptures need not be believed.

Example: I don't think transubstantiation is clearly, unambiguously taught in the Bible, but there is definitely a biblical case that can be made for it, so I think Conor has good reason to believe in the Eucharist as he does, even though I am unconvinced for my own faith. His case is quite logical, and supports his belief, but is not strong enough to persuade me that I should abandon my view of Communion as symbolic. If Conor is right and I am wrong, I see little harm to my soul in believing as I do, since I approach the sacrament of holy communion with asbolute solemnity and reverence. Even if I am mistaken, which is possible, God will not judge me harshly, since I acted in good faith and a clear conscience upon the light I have been given.

As to the various Christian, pseudo-Christian, and para-Christian sects, we have much the same situation today. There are cults and variations on a theme. All I can say is that God judges the human heart, not I. In a way, that's why I focus so intensely on the essentials (at least what I consider the essentials). As long as people understand what a genuine, authentic faith is Christ is all about, I don't worry so much about the peripherals and window dressing.

So if I wanted to get back to the early Church, how do I know which Christian group was "right"?

It's not about which group is right. It's not about identifying with a certain sect. It's about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

let's say modern Christians want to "get back to the source." What is the source? The only source I can see is Jesus himself. However, he left no writings, so we have to trust what his followers said about him.

Aha! You swerved right into the heart of the matter! Yes, the source is Jesus Himself. Everything is secondary next to Him. And Jesus Himself said:

John 5:39: "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me."

Note, He is talking about the OLD TESTAMENT scriptures! You go through the OT, and if you know what you're looking for (prophecies and symbols and allusions regarding the Messiah), you find Jesus on every page. I've heard of people who have become Christians by reading the Old Testament alone and finding Christ in the OT.

Then you go to the NT, and you find a more full and specific revelation. And you see this marvelous, incredible consistency to the entire message, from Genesis to Revelation. For example, did you know that the first prophecy of the coming of Jesus is way back in the beginning of Genesis, right after Adam and Eve sinned. And God says to the serpent, Gen. 3:15, "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." The woman's offspring is Jesus. Normally, in the OT, the offspring is thought of as begotten of the father, not the mother. The specific reference to the woman's offspring is a reference to the virgin birth. The serpent (Satan) will strike his heel (pierce him upon a cross, kill him in a death that is later cancelled by resurrection), but the offspring of the woman will crush the serpent's head (destroy Satan, sin, and death). That is the first of many, many examples where Christ is foreshadowed throughout the OT. And despite all the many authors, books, and years of compilation of the Bible, you see one theme that runs from Genesis to Revelation: God's redemption of the human race.

So when you raise questions about the canon of Scripture, etc., I can understand these questions, but they arise from a naturalistic view of Scripture that does not take into account that God is preserving His word, making sure that we have the revelation we need. If I am missing some of his revelation by ignoring the Apocrypha, or if Conor is mistaking some ancient human writings for God's revelation by receiving the Apocrypha, well, I don't think there's much harm done either way. The important thing is that the great core of the Bible, some 66 books, is God's revelation to us. And when you read it carefully, you hear not many voices but One.

...if Gnostics had won out, and written the bible...

Again, that's a naturalistic view (and perhaps you pose it for argument's sake, not because you accept it yourself). As I see it, God has preserved His church (the universal Christian church, not any one sect) and His Word in order to present the truth of Jesus Christ to the world. The Gnostics died out because they did not represent the truth God wanted to project to the world. This is not to judge the Gnostic heart and say they did not belong to God--only God knows. But they did not project the truth God wanted to preserve for the world.

I would be curious to research the reasons WHY the proto-orthodox won out.

I think it may come down to a vision that the then-pagan emperor Constantine had, when he saw the cross and the words "By this, conquer." From that time, Christianity was transformed from a banned faith to a state religion (not that a state religion is a good thing, but at least it resulted in the spread of Christianity in a new and powerful way).

I think if I ever were to change my religion, it would be to Judaism, because that was the religion of Jesus and his apostles.

My friend, Grace Lee Whitney, says that Christianity is the flower of Judaism, and that she is a follower of an ancient Jewish rabbi, Y'shua ha Mashiach, who was crucified, buried, and lives forevermore.

That is the gospel truth.

--wiz

Conor
04-28-2000, 07:34 PM
Truth be told, after the stress let down of my last final yesterday I sort of lost my enthusiasm for this discussion. I enjoyed reading what followed though.

I will present why Catholics believe in Purgatory at some point, but I don't know when. http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/smile.gif

Points of clarification: I never said that a bishop or priest or even the Pope could automatically interpret scripture correctly. The Church as a whole did interpret scripture a long, long time ago. As far as I know there have been no 'new' interpretations, as revelations ended with 'Revelation' http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/wink.gif At various councils the Church has clarified its interpretation however.

I am certainly not on the defensive TAF. Absolutely nothing Wiz has said has been new to me. I have heard it all before, usually preceding the reasons why they are wrong. Obviously his arguments are convincing to many people, and they are good arguments, but I find the arguments against them more reasonable and more convincing. Otherwise I wouldn't believe as I do.

I am a poor hand at this, so if you really want to hear the other side, I have a number of books which outline it.



------------------
"First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in."
-C.S. Lewis

wizzywig
04-28-2000, 08:15 PM
Conor--

I am a poor hand at this, so if you really want to hear the other side, I have a number of books which outline it.

You are too modest. You present a strong case and present it well. I've learned a great deal.

Thanks!

--wiz

theahnfahn
04-28-2000, 08:24 PM
I am certainly not on the defensive TAF. Absolutely nothing Wiz has said has been new to me. I have heard it all before, usually preceding the reasons why they are wrong. Obviously his arguments are convincing to many people, and they are good arguments, but I find the arguments against them more reasonable and more convincing. Otherwise I wouldn't believe as I do.

I do believe you are on the defensive, as is everyone who discusses here. You defended yourself right there! What everyone has been trying to show you is that this is not set in stone, and to claim you are undeniably correct is dangerous, in my opinion. How will you ever be able to change your mind on what you believe when you do this, if you reach new insight that will sway you in the other direction? We have all given you reason to doubt. I don't like that you said "...his arguments are convincing to many people". I think it is much more than that. He doesn't just have arguments, he has valid premises. He has given information along with how he interprets it. His interpretation does nothing for me, but the facts he presents do. He argues from a very safe, understandable position. You, however, still cling to this belief that your church is infallible, and therefore everything it tells you to do is correct. NOBODY here argues that if your church was the one true church then it is still right to go to another church and believe contrary to the true church's doctrine. The heart of this matter is that your claim that the RCC is infallible is VERY FAR from convincing. You can argue for it, as could anyone, but there is literally no means to prove this, much less show this beyond a reasonable doubt. And as I have said before, I see no reason at all why you would need this church to be infallible. You say we are inequipped to interpret the Bible for ourselves, so somebody else needs to do it and tell us what we should think. But are we not still interpreting what they tell us? I see this church as nothing more than a middle man.

However, this is not to say I do everything for myself. I read many other author's interpretations of the facts. But I NEVER will believe beforehand that the author I am reading is 100% correct. Do you see my point?

So, again I will say I have no reason to believe your church is infallible and there is no reason for me to change my views. What more, from what I have learned I can honestly say I don't much agree with some of your churches doctrines. That, to me, is not just reason to be skeptical of your claims, but reason to deny them and argue against them. You say everything Wiz said you have already heard before (I doubt this), but whatever the case if you never keep an open mind nothing will make any difference to you.

This is my proposition. I want you to honestly tell me your opinion on this. Which seems more logical:

1)Argue that the RCC is the one true church, and then believe in everything it teaches.

2)Search for the truth yourself, never claiming you are entirely correct, but trusting your judgement when it is made. THEN, make the decision which church is the true church. If everything it teaches is compatible to your beliefs, then you can believe it is the true church. But if there are some things you feel uneasy about, by all means have reason to doubt and seek God for the answer.

I am awaiting your "proof" of purgatory. I honestly had never heard of it until it was mentioned here, and I never saw any evidence of it in the Bible. The concept is completely foreign to me, and I can't see how anyone ever came up with it/gathered it from any tangible, verifiable truth.

------------------
And there he is. The reigning champion of the Boonta Classic, and the crowd favorite-TheAhnFahn

wizzywig
04-28-2000, 09:02 PM
I see this church as nothing more than a middle man.

LOL!! I never thought of it like that, but there is some merit to the view of the organized, institutional, hierarchical church as a "middle man" between people and their God. I think that is an unfortunate role that the institutional church has played at times.

Now, I don't see the body of Christ, the overall fellowship of believers that we also call "the church" in that way. In that sense, the church is the bride of Christ, and the relationship between Christ and the church is intimate and bonded, no middle man at all.

I do believe that Conor has encountered some version of my arguments before. I trust his integrity, and I don't claim to have plowed any new ground here. I don't want to be perceived as attacking the RCC or trying to dissuade anyone from belonging to that church. Conor is a Christian brother, and I respect his views and his commitment to living out his faith.

--wiz

Conor
04-29-2000, 03:29 AM
I most certainly have heard them before. What wiz presented was the same arguments I have been hearing from the Protestant side for about 6 or 7 years now. I have read many, many rebuttals to them as well.

I will get to my defense of Purgatory. Most of what I have to offer is reason, but there are a number of scriptural bases for it too. I would heavily, and I mean heavily, suggest Scott Hahn's Purgatory: Holy Fire script on that site on the second page (I think it is there, but I can get it if it isn't). It is a really good argument in favor of it.

------------------
"First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in."
-C.S. Lewis

wizzywig
04-29-2000, 04:40 AM
Conor--

I went and grabbed Scott Hahn's Purgatory: Holy Fire transcript and just started reading the first few paragraphs. I noticed he refers to anti-Catholics and non-Catholics. I wonder how Hahn would classify me?

How would you classify me?

What defines a person as anti-Catholic?

--wiz



[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited April 29, 2000).]

theahnfahn
04-29-2000, 05:00 AM
Poor, poor choice of words, in my opinion. "Anti-" means against, hostile to. I hope this man doesn't feel everyone is out to get him. I mean, it is one thing to say someone doesn't believe the way you do, but to say they are against you for not believing as you do is rather harsh. But I am taking this out of context. Conor, I will read any material you can provide me once my finals are over. Just one more week...

------------------
And there he is. The reigning champion of the Boonta Classic, and the crowd favorite-TheAhnFahn

wizzywig
04-29-2000, 06:50 AM
Conor and theahnfahn--

I just finished reading Hahn's Purgatory transcript and the transcript of the story of his conversion from a Presbyterian minister to a Roman Catholic. I wish he had defined the term "anti-Catholic" in the Purgatory piece--it left me wondering who he referred to.

But when I read his autobiography, I got a better picture of where he was coming from. As a Protestant, he himself was rabidly anti-Catholic--that is, he aggressively tried to convert Catholics out of the RCC and into Protestant Christianity.

That is something I would not do. Although I'm critical of some aspects of Catholic history and doctrine (just as I'm critical of some aspects of Protestant history and disagree with the doctrines of some Protestant denominations), I consider Catholics my brothers and sisters in Christ and I don't see their way of following Christ something they need to be "saved" from.

After reading his autobiography, I suspect Hahn would classify me as a nonCatholic rather than an antiCatholic. I disagree with a lot of his interpretation, but I agreed with a lot of what he said, too. Like Hahn, I'm disgusted that the Presbyterian Church USA (which I once belonged to) has taken a pro-abortion position, and I deeply respect that Catholic Church for remaining faithfully pro-life. That's one of many things I respect about the Roman Catholic Church.

At the risk of engaging in amateur psychoanalysis, I get an impression that some of Hahn's motivation for converting to Catholicism may be rooted (at least in part) in the zealous anti-Catholicism of his earlier days. It's not an uncommon pattern: I know people who were out-of-control sexaholics prior to converting to Christ; afterwards, they became totally celibate.

That's not the whole story in Hahn's case, of course--he went through an intellectual and spiritual crisis regarding his understanding of certain passages of Scripture. But I strongly suspect that his former intense antiCatholicism and the remorse and emotional/spiritual conflict that set up within him played some part in his decision to become a Roman Catholic.

--wiz



[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited April 29, 2000).]

Kurgan
04-29-2000, 07:16 PM
Just popped in.. hmm, sounds alot like our buddy St. Paul! ; )

I keep getting tempted to respond back here, when I really should study, then finish reading this thread. So sorry, I am TRYING not to keep coming back, but I am addicted I guess. lol (and if you are wondering, I can type pretty fast)

Kurgan

[This message has been edited by Kurgan (edited April 29, 2000).]

wizzywig
04-29-2000, 07:41 PM
Conor—

A few observations on the Scott Hahn stuff I read last night. First, I found his thinking to be deep and profound, not in any way superficial. He has been on both sides of the street, and he has chosen a different side than mine, and I understand his reasons and agree that they are right for him. I do not agree that he is objectively correct in his interpretation of Scripture—I see problems in a number of his key arguments. But those problems would not fatally undermine his argument if you are predisposed to believe in Roman Catholicism.

Some of his more profound and powerful statements:
We treat our bodies with respect. We've got to learn to treat our souls the same way.
Absolutely!!

The essence of Christianity is Christ reproducing His life, His suffering, His death and then His resurrection in glory in us. That is the essence of Christianity. Christ is our substitute for Adam who did us in, but He is not a substitute in the sense that He was righteous so that we could be unrighteous.
Yes! That is a powerful corrective for the idea that is often heard in Protestantism that faith is everything and righteous living is unimportant. However, it is libelous to caricature Protestantism as PRIMARILY promoting faith without righteousness. Hahn doesn’t come out and make that accusation, but he cites several extreme excesses that I consider to be at the fringe of Protestantism, and he gives the impression (or at least does not correct the misimpression) that he is describing mainstream Protestantism. (For example, the “name it and claim it” view is very much a minor fringe element in Protestantism, but in reading Hahn you would think it is mainstream.)

Another great point:
Hebrews 12, verse 29, tells us that our God is a consuming fire. That's the kind of love He has. It just burns out of control. Our God is madly in love with us. He's madly in love with us. It's sheer madness for the God who owes us nothing, to whom we owe everything but to whom we gave practically nothing. He turns around and gives us everything including himself by becoming one of us and allowing us to kill him. He's madly in love with us, and that mad love is burning out of control and filling this vast universe.

What a beautiful, eloquent statement! And here’s another very true and powerful Hahn statement:

I've got to tell you, a lot of people are making salvation out to be heavenly welfare. No wonder it sells. I could fill a church in a matter of months, it I was preaching nothing but welfare from heaven for nothing we do. We don't have to suffer. We don't have to work. We don't have to obey. We should, but we don't have to. That's wrong, but it will sell in this century and in every age.

Like Hahn, I don’t believe in cheap grace. I believe in a tough-minded, demanding, brawny salvation that requires everything we are and have and do. I believe God uses suffering in our lives (he doesn’t cause it, but he uses it) in order to refine our character and our faith. But that in no way (IMO) has any bearing on Purgatory.

He goes on to make statements that I find logically insupportable. He draws a distinction between paying for our sins and making restitution for our sins that seems purely semantic and realistically meaningless. If Christ paid for our sins, but we have to make restitution for our sins in the form of penance and Purgatory, then Christ’s payment is incomplete and almost meaningless. Restitution is repayment. It’s like saying, “You owe me a debt of $10,000 but I will forgive the debt completely; however, I do require that you make restitution and give me the $10,000 you owe me.” That is pure double-talk. Hahn is just juggling words when he says:
Now are we paying for our sins? No, they are paid for. And the only way we can make restitution is because the life of Christ through the Holy Spirit has been poured out in us so that through our sufferings Christ's glory can be reproduced in us.

Christ is reproduced in us as our faith and character grow through the challenges and sufferings of this life. That is the message of Romans 8:29. The torture of Purgatory can’t make us Christlike. It's too late for that.

Hahn makes a very lengthy presentation ostensibly about Purgatory. The first 25 percent or so of his argument is scriptural, and is well-reasoned, though it is based on a paucity of Scripture passages, all of which are subject to differing interpretation. The rest of his argument is entirely based on inferences from broader principles that are not specifically dealing with the Purgatory issue.

The thing that I find so striking about his argument—a striking defect, it seems to me—is that he seems unable to point to Scripture, particularly the 66 books that I consider Scripture—and say, “Here is where Purgatory is clearly taught and explained.” Every other essential doctrine of Scripture (every one that I would consider essential, anyway) has abundant support.

Salvation by grace through faith (for example) is found in all four Gospels, especially John, and is woven throughout the letters of Paul (esp. Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians). Some people come along and say, “Well, James 2 conflicts with that idea,” but then I point to Romans 6 and say, “Read Romans 6 and James 2 side-by-side and you’ll see that Paul and James agree with each other—they both agree that salvation is by grace through faith, but if you don’t have righteous works, then it appears you don’t have a genuine faith—everything is still consistent.”

Where is the abundant, clear evidence for Purgatory? Why must the case be built up from inferences and vague references and unclear and arguable connections (Purgatory = Sheol) that are far, far, far from being definite and unambiguous. Why is the case based on such a slender selection of Scripture passages?

I find Hahn’s entire presentation fascinating, challenging, stimulating. I enjoyed reading it and found much to instruct me, much that I can agree with, much that even stretched my awareness and understanding. But I ultimately found his conclusions re: Purgatory to be unconvincing.

--wiz




[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited April 29, 2000).]

wizzywig
04-29-2000, 07:48 PM
Kurgan--

Just popped in.. hmm, sounds alot like our buddy St. Paul! ; )

The same thought already occurred to me. A persecutor who joins the persecuted.

The analogy fails, however, in that Hahn never had a blinding revelation and a direct word from the Lord, and Hahn's conclusions are at odds with the doctrines of our buddy, Paul. http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/wink.gif

--wiz

wizzywig
04-29-2000, 09:19 PM
Ooops.

Add an "IMHO" to the above!

--wiz

wizzywig
04-29-2000, 10:46 PM
Ha-ha! Just came across this quote and had to post it!

Christianity got over the difficulty of combining furious opposites by keeping them both, and keeping them both furious.
G. K. CHESTERTON

--wiz

wizzywig
04-30-2000, 06:44 PM
Conor (or Kurgan or Ike or ???)--

An interesting thought just occurred to me. Martin Luther was a devoted Catholic who loved his Church, and he was a highly regarded teacher and theologian at the University. When he taught sola fide from the Scriptures, his insights seized imaginations all around him, and soon the entire university was talking about it and practicing it--not as Protestants, but as faithful Catholics.

Luther never had any trouble with the sola fide doctrine while he was within the church, and it was endorsed by many Catholic teachers and theologians. It wasn't until he posted the 95 Theses attacking the corrupt practice of selling indulgences that he ran afoul of Church authorities.

Even then he remained completely respectful toward Pope Leo X, as his letter to the Pope clearly shows. (See http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/luther/nine5-pope.txt )

I don't know if Leo X was himself corrupt or not, but he clearly knew about and tolerated the corrupt practice of selling indulgences, and when Luther very respectfully brought the problem to his attention, Leo responded by excommunicating Luther.

Ultimately, under pressure from the Reformation and from the faithful who were being oppressed by corrupt practices, the church ended up making many of the same reforms that Luther had tried to make from within. Luther did not choose to leave the church, but was chased out of it.

http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/icons/icon5.gif Now, here's the question I have:

If Leo X had chosen to respond to Luther's concerns, clean up the corruption, and elevate Luther for his conscientious and courageous stand and spiritual insights, what would have been the result? What do you think would have happened?

My own opinion: The Reformation would have never taken place, Luther would today be regarded as one of the great "doctors" of the Catholic Church, and he might even be known as St. Martin the Reformer! (Okay, the St. Martin is tongue-in-cheek--but the rest of it, I honestly believe.)

--wiz



[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited April 30, 2000).]

Conor
05-02-2000, 10:25 PM
Purgatory presumes two things. The difference between guilt and punishment, and the difference between mortal and venial sin.

God forgives the guilt of sin, yet He still requires reparation (atonement, expiation) for sins.

"David said to Nathan, 'I have sinned against the Lord.' And Nathan said to David, 'The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child that is born to you shall die.'" 2 Sam, 12:13-14

David was still punished. The Bible also clearly distinguishes two levels of sin.

"If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal; I do not say that one is to pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal." 1 Jn 5:16-17

"but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death." James 1:14-15

James distinguishes beginning sin from mature sin that brings death. Such beginning sins that aren't mature are called venial sins, as they will not go to Hell if they are unforgiven. The consequence for unforgiven mortal sins is Hell. Souls that die in a perfect state of grace go directly to Heaven. Those in unforgiven mortal sin go to Hell. There is obviously a middle ground, for those with the scars of sin on their soul that will not enter Hell, yet are not pure enough for Heaven where nothing unclean will enter.

The Bible is clear that God is perfect holiness and we are called to that perfection.

"So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." Mt. 5:48

"…as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, 'Be holy because I am holy.'" 1 Pet 1:15-16

Without this perfect holiness we cannot enter Heaven.

"Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without no one will see the Lord." Heb 12:14

"…nothing unclean will enter it [heaven]." Rev 21:27

The name for this place of purification before entry into Heaven has been called Purgatory. Purgatory consists of these three points:

1) Only imperfect saints in the state of grace enter Purgatory. It is not a second chance. Your destiny has been decided.

2) Purgatory is for purification and reparation. The effects of sin are purged and punishments due to sin are paid.

3) It is temporary. It will cease to exist once the last person has gone through it.

The word itself is not found in the Bible, any more than 'Trinity' is. The doctrine itself is implied several times.

"And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come." Mt. 12:32

There is the implication that some sin can be forgiven in the next life. Sin cannot be forgiven in Hell, nor is it necessary in Heaven. Such remission must be in Purgatory.

In Luke 16 Jesus describes the fate of a rich man and Lazarus. The rich man is obviously not in Heaven because he is in torment. The man cannot be in Hell because he exhibits no sign of one damned. He begs for his brothers to be spared what he is going through. Such an act of charity is not possible for one in Hell, as well as interacting with Abraham.. It is a story, true, but Jesus would not be committing false witness about the reality of Hell.

As well, in the story of the unforgiving servant, Jesus concludes with the fact that the wicked servant was thrown in prison even after his debt was forgiven for mistreating his fellow servant. He is thrown in jail not forever, but until all his debt had been paid.


If someone's work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire." 1 Cor 3:15

This cannot refer to the eternal loss of Hell. Also, no one suffers in Heaven. Again the middle state is referred to.


"For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spirit. In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few person, eight in all, were saved through water." 1 Pet. 3:18-20

"For this is why the gospel was preached even to the dead that, though condemned in the flesh in human estimation, why might live in the spirit in the estimation of God." 1 Pet 4:6

Note that is a prison for disobedient spirits, and yet they were saved when Jesus preached to them. It wasn't Heaven, it wasn't Hell. It is not the 'limbo of the fathers' where the righteous souls of the OT waited for Christ, because it is a place for disobedient spirits. St. Peter is describing a temporary state. It at least proves the existence of a third place.

Of course the clearest affirmation of the doctrine comes from the second book of Maccabees, but that has been shown to be less than useful to Protestants. The book, even if not included in inspired scripture, accurately reflects the Jews of second century BC. Jews prayed for their dead, and still do. I honestly find it puzzling that the seven books in question can be questioned at all, because the NT isn't questioned. The canon for the NT came from the same source that included the 'apocrypha' in the OT. If you reject their version of the OT, how can you trust their (and your) version of the NT? On what grounds?

Another point is that the earliest Christians clearly prayed for the dead. Ancient Christian tomb inscriptions from the second and third centuries frequently contain prayers for the dead. An example is the epitaph of Abercius (180 AD), "The citizen of a prominent city, I erected this while I lived, that I might have a resting place for my body. Abercius is my name, a disciple of the chaste shepherd who feeds his sheep on the mountains and in the fields, who has great eyes surveying everywhere, who taught me the faithful writings of life. Standing by, I, Abercius ordered this to be inscribed; truly I was in my seventy second year. May everyone who is in accord with this and who understands it pray for Abercius"

Of course praying for the dead only makes sense if the early Christians believed in Purgatory. Tertullian, writing in the year 211 AD, presents the practice of praying and sacrificing for the dead as an established custom: "We offer sacrifices for the dead on their birthday anniversaries." The practice of praying for the dead was universal until the Reformation.

"May the Lord grant mercy to the family of Onesiphorus because he often gave me new heart and was not ashamed of my chains… May the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day." 2 Tim 1:16-18

St. Paul at least believes praying for his departed friend will help him, which only makes sense in the context of Purgatory. Praying for the dead presumes an intermediate level of purification, whatever you wish to call it.

In short, a place such as Purgatory is necessary to purify us of the effects of sin. Jesus enabled us to get to Heaven. Purgatory makes us ready for it. Obviously not all go through Purgatory (such as the thief). We believe the Thief made a perfect act of contrition before God, and given full indulgence by Jesus. He was truly, truly sorry for everyting he had done to hurt God. God purified him in that instant. I can only imagine the pain it must have caused him to have fully realized the depth of his sin.




------------------
"First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in."
-C.S. Lewis

wizzywig
05-02-2000, 10:56 PM
Thank you, Conor. That was a strong, concise, well-reasoned, well-documented presentation. I think you did a much better job than Scott Hahn at making the case, btw. His presentation made many of the same points, but rambled considerably. Yours is much better focused.

Question: What is Purgatory like? And how do we know that for sure?

(Please don't hurry to reply--I'm sure this is a busy time for you, and I really appreciate the time you took to craft the previous post.)

--wiz

theahnfahn
05-03-2000, 01:36 AM
It was a good argument, but I still wouldn't claim it to be well-reasoned. Perhaps it is, but not to me, at least. I always play the skeptic, especially in cases like this. This is no offense to you Conor, I know you couldn't have formed the argument any other way, but one should always be wary of isolated references like the ones in your argument. Many of your assumptions from the quotes you gave seemed very weak to me, and when taken out of context I can hardly claim them to be correctly-reasoned. This isn't your fault, it is a lack of the information I need to make a decision. I will look in to this, to make sure your references were gathered from more than a mere hunting and pecking of the Bible. I sometimes made the mistake of looking at one line in the Bible and jumping to wild conclusions, but I soon found that applying that line to the paragraph, passage, or even the whole book focused things for me.

------------------
And there he is. The reigning champion of the Boonta Classic, and the crowd favorite-TheAhnFahn

Conor
05-03-2000, 04:24 AM
There is speculation about what Purgatory is like (7 levels of varying intensity, blah blah) but I don't think anyone actually knows. I can't imagine it is that bad an experience myself. I mean, how bad could any amount of pain possibly be if you knew for a fact you'd come face to face with God at the end of it?

Another thing I need to point out that I forgot. Have you been saying that Catholics believe we are saved by good works? Unless I am horribly mistaken, every Christian denomination believes we are justified by grace alone. Faith comes when we accept that grace, and good works are a necessary result of accepting that grace. I am unaware of any teaching that good works actually save us.

------------------
"First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in."
-C.S. Lewis

theahnfahn
05-03-2000, 04:51 AM
What do you even define as "good works"? To some, that may be loving every man and woman and expressing that love in every way possible. To others, good works are paying dues to a church and holding snakes. Do you consider the celebration of the Eucharist a "good work"? I think we need to define our terms here.

wizzywig
05-03-2000, 07:42 PM
More response on Purgatory, faith and works, etc. to come.

Meanwhile, when you get time, Conor, I'd be interested in your thoughts on the question I posed: Had the Pope and the church dealt with the corruption in the church during Luther's time, isn't it virtually certain that Luther would have remained in the church and the Reformation never would have happened? Clearly, if Luther had not been excommunicated and a death sentence (actually, a kill-on-sight "hit" contract) put on him, he never would have left the church. I don't see any other possible way of interpreting the facts of history.

--wiz

wizzywig
05-03-2000, 11:59 PM
Conor--

"Crime and punishment. Sin and penance. I could step into a confessional, unload my conscience, then take my five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys. But that seemed a feeble gesture." --Toronto Star columnist Rosie DiManno

Have you been saying that Catholics believe we are saved by good works? Unless I am horribly mistaken, every Christian denomination believes we are justified by grace alone. Faith comes when we accept that grace, and good works are a necessary result of accepting that grace. I am unaware of any teaching that good works actually save us.

In the discussion of faith v. works, grace is not the issue. Grace is a given. That is God’s part of the equation. The question here is: What is our part of the equation? What is the saving response to grace that we must make? Is it faith? Is it works? Or is it faith plus works?

And TheAhnFahn refines the issue further by asking: What do we mean by works? Is it good deeds toward others? Is it rituals and religious observances? Or is it both?

My clear impression is that Catholics believe that a person is saved by faith plus works. If that were not so, then there would be no dispute over so-called “sola fide,” because we would all believe in faith alone, both RCC and Protestants. Since Catholicism believes in salvation by faith yet rejects “faith alone,” it must believe in faith plus works.

This is a position I find impossible to understand, given that the Scriptures are so clear that we are saved BY grace THROUGH faith, NOT by works at all. There are many, many passages which make this plain, including Ephesians 2:8-10:

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--
9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

There’s the whole package right there—God’s grace, our faith; that alone is what saves. Where do the works come in? As God’s workmanship we are created to do good works. We are His workmanship because He refashions and reshapes us by saving us and changing us and making us increasingly more Christlike as we mature. If we don’t do good works, then it shows that we are not his workmanship, and our faith is hollow and meaningless and not the kind that saves. It is a subtle truth, but it is not circular reasoning. Faith and works are both a response to grace, but it is only the response of faith that saves. The response of works proves the genuineness of the saving faith. Saving faith does not exist in an absence of works, of course, but at the same time we have to recognize that the works do not save, only faith does (by God’s grace, of course).

What are the works we are to do?

James 2 spells out some very practical, non-ritualized kinds of works that demonstrate the reality of one’s saving faith, including meeting human need for food and clothing, not discriminating against the poor or showing favoritism to the rich and powerful, etc. These are very practical works. James does not talk about ritual but about truly doing works toward our brothers and sisters that demonstrate the reality of our faith.

But the Catholic tradition has compounded and confused the issue (IMO) by layering Christianity with rituals and traditions that are perceived by many of the Catholic faithful as what I might call “saving works.” I have personally known a number of Catholics who have no concept of salvation by faith. They have put their entire hope and trust in their identification with the Church, by observing various rituals, by going to confession and performing penance (like the “five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys” in the quote at the top of this post) that is performed ritualistically and without meaning. Ask them if they know what will happen to them when they die, and they shrug and say they “hope” they’ve done enough good deeds to get to Heaven. They have no assurance, and they really have no faith in Christ, only a church affiliation and a lot of rules to observe. (In fact, I just recently heard that the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published in 1993, contains some 3,000 rules and regulations that must be observed in order to be a good Catholic.)

(An aside before proceeding: I know that some priests are trying to inject more reality into the process of penance—instructing a penitent to perform an act of service instead of merely reciting a rote prayer repetitively. But that is still regarded by many Catholics as a work that saves, because many Catholics do not understand that salvation is by faith alone.)

(Another aside: Are there excesses and deviations from the truth on the Protestant side? ABSOLUTELY!! Just as there is a tendency among many Catholics to trust works and rituals and church identification to save them, many Protestants believe that faith alone saves, so if they have mentally agreed with a Christian creed at one point in their lives, if they have “accepted Christ” at some point in their lives, then they can go out and live like sinners and still be saved—so they think. “I’ve got my ‘fire escape,’ my get out of Hell card, so now it doesn’t matter how I live—I’m home free!” That is wrong—just as wrong as trusting in works. So the works emphasis in Catholicism can be carried to one false extreme, and the faith emphasis in Protestantism can be carried to the opposite false extreme. The error of taking works too far is called Legalism. The error of taking faith too far is called License. Either extreme is wrong and dangerous to the soul.)

About all the rituals and rules and observances and traditions of Catholicism: I do not see the majestic and incredibly rational God of the Anthropic Principle being so meticulously stuck on thousands of little rituals and observances and rules that must be obeyed. Nor do I see the God and Father of Jesus Christ being so stuck on rituals and rules—quite the opposite. When you read the story of Jesus, you see Him coming into a situation much like today’s Catholicism (it was 1st century Judaism) and confronting the rigidity and rules and regulations which bound people to the letter of a religion instead of freeing them to worship in spirit and in truth.

I don’t say that Catholicism is a false religion, or a counterfeit brand of Christianity. But I do believe it is the natural tendency of people over time to take the purity of a faith relationship with God (such as existed in ancient Israel or 1st century Christianity) and to gradually encrust it and overlay it with layers of tradition, rituals, and rules that obscure the simple, beautiful truth. That, I believe, is what Luther discovered the Church had become by the 16th century, and he sought, however imperfectly, to return to a 1st century Christianity. My major criticism of Luther would be that he didn’t go far enough. We need continual reformation and renewal, and we need to cleanse our faith of man-made religious overlays that lead to either legalism or license. Even Protestants need continual reformation and renewal. We all have to get back to the Source, which is the Word, both the living Word of John 1 (Jesus Himself) and the written Word of God.

The problem with the early church was that the Reformation should have been going on continuously for 1500 years before Luther came along. By that time, the corruption was so epidemic and endemic, it became impossible to root it out, except by actually leaving the organized institution. The church that left the organized institutional RCC was much closer to the original church than the church that the RCC had become. That is why, contrary to what the Catholic church teaches, I am as much an heir of Jesus and the apostles as any Catholic is. Not more of an heir, but not less either (though the RCC claims I am less).

All of which is my usual long-winded way of getting to this conclusion:

The Catholic church appears to me to teach a faith-plus-works salvation, and the “works” appear to me to be definable both as works of service and kindness to others and legalistic works of Church ritual, rules, and traditions. That is my perception. If I am shown to be wrong, I will gladly stand corrected.

--wiz


------------------
"God never wrought a miracle to convince atheism because his ordinary works convince it."
--FRANCIS BACON (1551-1626)

[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited May 03, 2000).]

Conor
05-04-2000, 12:40 AM
I am honestly not quite sure how to respond. I am almost certain (I only qualify it because I admit there is a chance I am wrong) that the Church teaches we are not saved by works. Or by faith alone. It is a strange distinction I am trying to draw here. I am saying we are not saved by faith alone because simply having faith is not enough. We must do what is right, we must obey Jesus, we must follow Jesus. Even the demons believe. In that way works are necessary, but they don't save us. We must try to be like Jesus, and that includes good works, so we must do good works.

I am also not sure how I would define 'good works' exactly. I could say it is doing what Jesus would do. Living Christianity.

I would also disagree heavily with the assertion that Luther was trying to return to anything. I have seen no evidence whatsoever (and much to the contrary) that what he implemented had ever been believed or practiced by the Apostles or their successors.

I think you are implying that the Jewish law itself was in the wrong. I don't see that. Jesus came to fulfill the law, not abolish it. The Jewish religion has many rituals instigated and approved of by God in the OT. Obviously some of them were no longer necessary because of circumstances (like circumcision, which was no longer physically necessary), but I don't see any reason that God-sanctioned rituals wouldn't continue. The matters of which rituals are to be done I leave to my Church, as the only source of Sacred Tradition passed down once for all by the Apostles (my belief).

Obviously, many of Luther's complaints were valid (the sale of indulgences was absolute nonsense that should have been thrown out), but when he wanted to throw out a number of key Christian practices and beliefs (as well as wanting to toss some books from the NT like James and Esther because he didn't like what they said, but didn't dare) I can't see how the Church could give in when they saw him like I do. Trying to compromise the wholeness of Christ's Church, whatever his motives.

I think it would be helpful to show why the Church believes the office of Peter holds the authority of Christ's Steward. I will make a case soon (today or tomorrow).

------------------
"First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in."
-C.S. Lewis

[This message has been edited by Conor (edited May 03, 2000).]

wizzywig
05-04-2000, 01:10 AM
Conor--

I would also disagree heavily with the assertion that Luther was trying to return to anything. I have seen no evidence whatsoever (and much to the contrary) that what he implemented had ever been believed or practiced by the Apostles or their successors.

I understand that you don't agree that Luther was actually taking the church back toward original Christianity, but I don't see how you can deny that he was trying to, that that was his intent, however misguided you consider him to be.

Obviously, he believed that the church had become polluted with manmade rules and traditions and practices. That's the whole idea of "Sola Scriptura," to strip away 1500 years of added tradition and distill Christianity down to only what is found in Scripture. You can (and do) argue that Luther ignores oral tradition that is valid (IYO) alongside of Scripture, tradition which you say goes back to the beginning.

But given the fact that Luther didn't see oral tradition in the same light as you do, he saw himself as trying to return to the first century origins of the faith. I don't expect you to agree that he was right, but I should think it would be completely obvious that, however misguided you may see him to be, that is what he was trying to do. He wasn't trying to invent a new religion that never existed before. In his own mind, at least, he was trying (especially while he was working within the church, prior to being excommunicated) to refine the church from within and return it to its Scriptural moorings and beginnings.

I think you are implying that the Jewish law itself was in the wrong.

No, no, no, not the Old Testament law!

But the thousands of rules and traditions and restrictions that had grown up around the law, particularly what Jesus called "the leaven of the Pharisees," which had caused the law to swell as leaven causes bread to swell. Jesus never attacked the OT Law of Moses, but continually battled the additional legalistic trappings of Pharasaism (which frankly remind me so much of the rituals and legalism of Catholicism) that the Jewish leaders had added to the original purity of the Law, which placed the people in a spiritual stranglehold.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to clarify that.

You're right. Jesus came to fulfill the law, not abolish it--but he also came to abolish legalism so that people could worship in spirit and in truth.

--wiz



------------------
"God never wrought a miracle to convince atheism because his ordinary works convince it."
--FRANCIS BACON (1551-1626)

wizzywig
05-05-2000, 06:52 AM
Conor—

I wanted to get back to you with some response to your purgatory explanation. I won’t respond point by point and verse by verse, although I will make some general statements that should include and be responsive to all of your points and all of your verses.

You say:
Purgatory presumes two things. The difference between guilt and punishment, and the difference between mortal and venial sin. God forgives the guilt of sin, yet He still requires reparation (atonement, expiation) for sins.

I earlier responded to this same distinction in Hahn’s argument, and my response remains unchanged. I quote my earlier post:

[Hahn] draws a distinction between paying for our sins and making restitution for our sins--a distinction that seems purely semantic and realistically meaningless. If Christ paid for our sins, but we have to make restitution for our sins in the form of penance and Purgatory, then Christ’s payment is incomplete and almost meaningless. Restitution is repayment. It’s like saying, “You owe me a debt of $10,000 but I will forgive the debt completely; however, I do require that you make restitution and give me the $10,000 you owe me.” That is pure double-talk.

The Bible makes no distinction between the forgiveness that Christ purchased on the cross and the atonement and expiation and propitiation that Christ purchased on the cross. It’s all the same act, the same death, the same sacrifice, the same blood that buys it all. We cannot pay the debt, we cannot make restitution, because we don’t have the resources. Only Jesus himself has the perfect resources to repay that debt, and He did it, finally, once and for all, on the cross.

Some scriptural examples (in brief) of the principle:

Romans 3:25: “God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.”
Heb 2:17 “… that He might make atonement for the sins of the people...”
1John 2:2 “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”
1John 4:10 “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

You used the word “reparation” with the parenthetical synonyms of atonement and expiation. I checked my computer Bible (several translations) for the word “reparation” or “reparations” and it does not appear. I checked atonement and expiation, and the only uses I found were related to what Christ accomplished on the cross, not to anything we can do in the way of penance or hard time in Purgatory.

I do not see that the David and Bathsheba story applies. What happened to David was not penance or Purgatory but the consequences of sin. I was acquainted with a young man who made a commitment of his life to Christ as Lord after living a sexually promiscuous lifestyle. His sins were forgiven, but the natural consequences of his sins remained (his body was ravaged by a sexually transmitted disease that ultimately took his life). The fact that this young man suffered and died did not in any way make restitution or atonement for his sin—it was just the normal sequelae of a certain kind of behavior. The concept that we can in any way make reparation or atonement to God for our sin is alien to the Scriptures.

You cite passages such as:
"So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." Mt. 5:48
and
"…as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, 'Be holy because I am holy.'" 1 Pet 1:15-16
and
"Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without no one will see the Lord." Heb 12:14
Of course, God calls us to good works and righteous conduct. And when we fail in that, we have this promise:
1John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Notice how that verse connects with this one that you cited: "…nothing unclean will enter it [heaven]." Rev 21:27 Of course nothing unclean will enter heaven, but it is God who purifies us from unrighteousness and uncleanness by his forgiveness, not by our being punished in this life or roasted in Purgatory.

You say that the word Purgatory is not found in the Bible, any more than 'Trinity' is. The doctrine is implied, you say. But the concept of the Trinity is not merely implied, it is explicitly stated. There are many, many passages that refer to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, including quite a few that name all three in a single phrase. But the biblical evidence you cite for Purgatory is slender and inferential and based on scattered passages that have more than one reasonable interpretation. You cannot compare the clear teaching of the Trinity to the obscure and questionable purported references to Purgatory.

The rest of the passages you refer to, such as Mt. 12:32 or Luke 16, are inconclusive and unpersuasive. “…either in this age or in the age to come” does not seem like it can refer to Purgatory, since “age” (Gr. aion, usually translated “world”) appears in context to refer to this life or the afterlife, not to any inbetween state such as Purgatory. And it is a stretch to conclude that either Heb. Sheol or Greek Hades = Purgatory. I can buy the idea of a inbetween place, not only because it is found in the Bible, but because it matches the external evidence I have seen, including well-corroborated cases of Near-Death Experiences or NDEs. But the idea that the inbetween state is Purgatory, and that the church can get you a lighter sentence through indulgences, penance, prayers, good works, in effect by buying off either God Himself or the church (and yes, that’s how I see this elaborate system of tit-for-tat payoffs)—to me, that smacks of man-made religion, like the religion of the Pharisees. It does not match up with the pure, rational, beautiful character of the God of the Bible or the God of the Anthropic Principle. I’m sorry, but it doesn’t (IMO).

And I have to come back to the historical evidence. We know that the church has used Purgatory as a corrupt money-making scheme. The selling of indulgences was a racket (the church still gives indulgences today, but thankfully does not sell them anymore). There is also strong historical evidence that the idea of Purgatory was borrowed from Mesopotamian pagan religions and grafted onto Scripture passages having to do with sheol and hades. The idea took hold under a corrupt pope, Gregory, around AD 600 and was not confirmed as part of the deposit of Catholic faith until the Second Council of Lyons, more than twelve centuries after Christ. Why was it not confirmed in the second or third century if it is such an ancient and central doctrine? Why did it take well over a millennium? And why was it confirmed during the most corrupt period in the history of the Catholic Church?

The canon for the NT came from the same source that included the 'apocrypha' in the OT. If you reject their version of the OT, how can you trust their (and your) version of the NT? On what grounds?

In a sense, I do not reject the apocrypha. I agree with Jerome in objecting to the apocrypha as inspired Scripture. Jerome felt that the apocrypha was useful for historical and moral instruction, but not as a source of doctrine. I see it the same way. Many Protestant denominations use the apocrypha in that way (including Anglicans and Lutherans), but do not view it as on par with inspired Scripture. The apocrypha was not considered fully canonical in the early church. Many other Catholic scholars besides Luther viewed it as Jerome did. Pope Leo X, who excommunicated Luther, proclaimed the apocrypha as fully inspired Scripture in response to Luther, and over the objections of many Catholic scholars at that time. Today, the fact that it was not immediately and early accepted as fully canonical is evidenced by the fact that the Catholic Church itself calls the books of the apocrypha “deuterocanonical,” or secondarily canonical.

Of course praying for the dead only makes sense if the early Christians believed in Purgatory.

No, praying for the dead makes sense if you believe in any kind of middle place between life and afterlife—not necessarily Purgatory as it is taught by the RCC. And I really must suspend judgment on the entire issue of that middle place. Clearly, Jesus told the thief on the cross, “today you will be with me in paradise.” There’s no middle place in that statement. It may be that the resurrection did away with a need for a middle place, I just don’t know. The fact that many early Christians believed in certain things, such as praying for the dead, does not make it so.

The bottom line, as I see it, is that it can be shown that so many beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church are late additions. Even if you make the case that these beliefs were generally accepted for centuries before they were “officially” made part of the “deposit of faith,” it is clear that for many years, these practices and beliefs and doctrines were NOT part of the official deposit of faith. They didn’t become official doctrine until (in many cases) a thousand years or more after Christ. This clearly throws the claim that the RCC is the one and only original first century Christian church into serious, SERIOUS question.

Meanwhile, my claim that I am practicing first century Christianity by practicing only biblical Christianity cannot be questioned (except on grounds of RCC “infallible” authority), because it is clear that the Bible was closed by the end of the first century. That was the original point that began this dialogue, and I haven’t seen anything that would alter my opinion on that claim.

--wiz

Kurgan
05-05-2000, 08:24 AM
Well a critical scholar would probably say that no, the Bible was not closd until much later, as you have all sorts of manuscript variations and different canons stretching out to the third century and beyond.

The bible being "closed" would only be in the opinion of a certain group. After all, Marcion had a canon before anyone else, and he made the claim that Jesus was not divine, certainly going against what the orthodox Christians believed at the time.

Again, I say, if you are trying to get back to "first century Christianity" I ask you WHICH first century Christianity are you trying to get back to? A critical scholar would argue that the Bible was written by Christians from a variety of groups and belief systems, and that the canon represents essentially a committee dictated compromise of documents. And of course members of other groups were excluded, and so they put together their own canons.

Kurgan

wizzywig
05-05-2000, 04:43 PM
Kurgan--

Well a critical scholar would probably say that no, the Bible was not closd until much later, as you have all sorts of manuscript variations and different canons stretching out to the third century and beyond....

My statement isn't concerned with various canons of various groups. It is concerned with the canon we have today, and the best scholarship indicates quite clearly that all of the manuscripts contained in the present canon were written before AD 95.

The "higher critics" like Rudolf Bultmann make no pretense of trying to exegete (read out of) the text. Their approach is to aggressively eisegete (read into) the text and impose their own biases and prejudices on the text. Bultmann, for example, said that no person who has ever seen an electric lightbulb could ever believe in miracles. To him it is impossible that there could be accurate prophecy in the Bible, so if there is a Scripture passage that makes prophetic reference to, say, the destruction of Jerusalem, then obviously this "prophecy" was composed after the event, and we must date it later than the witness of the document itself would allow. So the "higher critics" would place much later dates on many of these documents (such as the Gospel of John), which of course would make them not only fraudulent but of spurious authorship.

The problem these critics have is that the archaelogical evidence keeps getting in the way of their bias. For example, the famous Rylands Fragment of John 18 was found in Egypt, dated about about AD 125, proving that the Gospel of John had been in circulation long before the higher critics claimed it had been written.

So at some point you have to decide which critics are you going to listen to, the ones who have a biased and dishonest eisegetical approach to Scripture, the ones who have been proven wrong again and again? Or the scholars whose respectful views of Scripture are continually reaffirmed by the evidence, and by the internal consistency of the Bible itself?

Again, I say, if you are trying to get back to "first century Christianity" I ask you WHICH first century Christianity are you trying to get back to?

The only first century Christianity that can be shown to have ever objectively existed, the one that is embodied in the New Testament documents themselves.

A critical scholar would argue...

As explained above, :OP~~~~~ to the critical scholars. Their track record, when compared with archeology and other objective findings, is dismal.

We have a NT canon made up of reliable documents, which are eminently readable and understandable. My conclusion to my previous post relates to the fact that Conor and I come at things from two different premises which can never be reconciled: He believes in church authority and tradition as being on par with Scripture. I believe in the authority of Jesus and Scripture alone.

Every other disagreement he and I have had stems from that one core difference between us. I just will never be able to agree that doctrines and practices that were confirmed in the year 600 or 1247 or 1950 can be considered original first century Christianity. The only objectively verifiable first century Christianity is that which is embodied in the NT documents.

--wiz

Conor
05-05-2000, 09:40 PM
Well, I said I'd post a bit on Peter and Apostolic Authority. Here is 'a bit' http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/tongue.gif

I got the outline and passages from an apologetics booklet of mine, so this isn't exactly my research.

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

When God established His Covenant with Israel in the OT he provided a living, continuing authority in the Mosaic priesthood.

"And behold, Amariah the chief priest is over you in all matters of the Lord; and Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, the governor of the house of Judah, in all the kings matters; and the Levites will serve you as officers. Deal courageously, and may the Lord be with the upright!" 2 Chr 19:11

"For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts." Malachi 2:7

They had authority from God to govern His people in matters of religion, and acted as the safeguard and authentic interpreter of Sacred Scripture. It follows that when Christ founded His Church, the New Israel, He set up a living, continuing authority to teach, govern and sanctify in His name. We call this authority "Apostolic" because it began with the twelve Apostles and continued with their successors. This authority would keep and authentically interpret the Revelation of Jesus. We believe they will preserve the teachings of Jesus Christ in their wholeness, and uncorrupted by error, until the end.

St. Peter was clearly the head of the Apostles. In Mat 16:13-19 Jesus says, "And so I say to you, you are Peter [which means Rock -my comment], and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the Hades shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Jesus changed Simon's name to Peter, or Rock. Name changes are always very important in Scripture, such as the renaming of Abram to Abraham. Jesus is telling Peter that he is the rock that the church will be built on. Jesus can't just mean 'everyone' here because in the next lines He specifically empowers Peter with certain responsibilities and authority. When Jesus gives Peter the 'keys to the kingdom of heaven' He is drawing on the 'keys' image of Is 22:19-22.

"I will thrust you from your office, and you will be cast down from your station. In that day I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your girdle on him, and will commit your authority to his hand; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open."

From this it can be gathered that:

1. Keys are a symbol of the authority given to the chief official-the Prime Minister-of the Kingdom of David.

2. The Prime Minister is a father figure. Pope comes from Italian "Papa," father.

3. The office implies dynastic succession. The office continued as long as the Kingdom of David continued.

Catholics believe that Christ is the King and the Pope is his Prime Minister. Christ is the head of the Church, and the Pope is His earthly representative.

Why would Jesus give all this authority to Peter and not intend for it to be passed on? If the first Christians needed an authoritative leader, later Christians would need one even more. After the Apostles died the Church would have greater need of the power of the keys when enemies would try to corrupt Christ's teachings.

In Mt 18:18 the rest of the Apostles were given the power to bind and loose. St. Peter received that power individually when he was given the keys. Christ would not have given Peter and the other Apostles such authority if He was not going to protect them from teaching false doctrine in their official positions as Shepherds of the Church.

"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren." Lk 22:31-32

"When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?' He said to him, 'Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.' He said to him, 'Feed my lambs.' A second time he said to him, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me?' And he said to him, 'Lord, you know that I love you.' Jesus said to him, 'Feed my sheep.'" Jn 21:15-17

In the passage from Luke, Satan specifically asks for Peter. Jesus prays for Peter and tells him to strengthen the other disciples. In the passage from John, Jesus clearly makes Peter the shepherd of His Church.

Acts 15 gives an account of the first Church council, that of Jerusalem. St. Paul requested it to decide whether Gentiles had to follow the Law of Moses as well as the Law of Christ. After much discussion Peter spoke, and the assembly fell silent. The discussion was ended. The council considered Peter's authority final.

Peter often spoke for the rest of the apostles, such as in Mt 19:27, Mk 8:29, Lk 12:41 and Jn 6:69. The Apostles are referred to as "Peter and his companions" at times (Lk 9:32, Mk 16:7, Acts 2:37). Peter's name always heads the list of the Apostles (Mt 10:1-4, Mk 3:16-19, Lk 6:14-16, Acts 1:13). Peter's name is mentioned (roughly, I have heard a couple different values, both close) 191 times, which is more than all the rest of the Apostles combined (about 130 times). John comes second, at 48 times.

Peter is involved in all the Church's important "firsts." Peter led the meeting which elected the first successor to an Apostle (Acts 1:13-26), preached the first sermon at Pentecost (Acts 2:14), and received the first converts (Acts 2:41). He performed the first miracle after Pentecost (Acts 3:6-7), inflicted the first punishment on Ananias and Saphira (Acts 5:1-11), and excommunicated the first heretic, Simon the magician (Acts 8:21). He is the first to raise a person from the dead (Acts 9:36-41), and received the revelation to admit Gentiles into the Church (Acts 10:9-16). He also commanded that the first Gentile converts be baptized (Acts 10:44-48).

The early Church has always accepted the Bishop of Rome as head of the Church. In about 80 AD, the Church of Corinth deposed its lawful leaders. The fourth bishop of Rome, Pope Clement I, was called to settle the matter even though St. John the Apostle was still alive and much closer to Corinth that was Rome. Clement wrote this, "You, therefore, who laid the foundation of the rebellion, submit to the presbyters and be chastened to repentance, bending your knees in a spirit of humility." (First letter to the Corinthians, 57, 1; Jurgens, p. 12, #27).
"If anyone disobey the things which have been said by Him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and in no small danger." (First letter to the Corinthians, 59, 1; Jurgens, p. 12, #28a).

St. Irenaeus, who was taught by St. Polycarp (a disciple of St. John the Apostle), says that Christians must be united to the Church of Rome in order to maintain the Apostolic Tradition. He presents this teaching as something taken for granted.

"But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a small volume as this the successions of all the Churches, we shall confound those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient Church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul, that Church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the Apostles. For with this Church, because of its superior origin, all the Churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world; and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the Apostolic tradition." (3,3,2; Jurgens, p. 90, #210). St. Irenaeus was bishop of Lyons from about 180-200 AD. The quote came from Against Heresies.

For 250 years, the Roman Emperors tried to destroy Christianity through persecution. In the first 200 years of Christianity, every Pope but one was martyred. The Romans knew who the head of the Church was. A Roman's greatest fear was a rival to the throne. Yet Emperor Decius (249-251 AD), one of the harshest persecutors of the early Christian Church, said this, "I would far rather receive news of a rival to the throne than of another bishop of Rome." He said this after executing Pope Fabian in 250 AD.

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


------------------
"First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in."
-C.S. Lewis

[This message has been edited by Conor (edited May 05, 2000).]

quite-gone gin
05-05-2000, 09:43 PM
Bultmann? You guys are talking deep - I haven't heard much of that name (or von Rad for that matter!) since I completed my BA in Religion with Biblical Emphasis! I live near Claremont Theological Seminary in CA, and I've visited their library, a building with 3 stories devoted to works surrounding the Bible, Christianity, etc. - more information than one person could process in a lifetime!

There's 9 pages and 200 repsonses of this conversation, and I admit I haven't come close to reading all - in fact I've only glanced over a few here and there. But what's the point here? Where is this whole conversation leading? Entering the kingdom of heaven isn't about debates, is it? I think we probably more people away than we attract with all that, and I didn't see Jesus doing much of it (other than with the Pharisees, etc. and that was more of a confrontation).

I agree with Conor's thing on page one - only use words when necessary! When was the last time we (as Christians) labored in prayer over someone in need until the need was met? or fed a hungry person? or visited a widow or a prisoner? (and I'm not talking just about activities performed with an outreach group organized by some ministry, but just on your own as the need arised), you know "true religion" according to James. So far this conversation seems most like what Paul saw in Athens (or which ever city it was), a lot of endless debating.

Anyone else have a prayer request they'd like prayed over?

Conor
05-05-2000, 10:04 PM
Let me try to explain what has to be cleansed with Purgatory.

This is something well known to all. When you sin, especially something very enjoyable, that sin is much easier to commit the next time. We can be forgiven it, but we still have that mark, that scar on our soul, that makes it much easier to commit the sin again.

Obviously forgivness doesn't get rid of this. The effects of the sin linger and disfigure our soul. We are unclean even if our sins are forgiven. These disfigurements and scars must be dealt with before we enter Heaven. That is what we believe Purgatory is for.

I am actually not certain Luther's motives were to 'restore first-century Christianity'. I guess I should give him the benefit of the doubt, but I can't see what basis he had to think he was returning to anything.

I do admit indulgences can be a hard thing to swallow though. They can only be considered seriously if you believe the Pope and the Church has been given the authority to do such by Christ.

It has been my understanding that when a council affirms a doctrine like that of Purgatory it is not declaring anything new, but often reacting to a heresy that denies it or countering a fallacy. That is why most councils come at times of trouble.

quite-gone gin
05-05-2000, 10:08 PM
Sorry! I guess I had a hickup.

All that just to say this: when I graduated, my head was full of all this Biblical knowledge - I knew a lot about God (Abraham's), Jesus, the Bible...but I didn't know Him very well, and I just about resented the knowledge in my head because it far outweighed the other. I know people I could destroy in a theological debate, but who I can't come close to as far as the love in their heart for God and people, as far as how scripture just isn't in their head but woven into their being in the way they live and love. I know people who don't know as much as me but who are a lot more like Jesus than me! And I also have friends who live and minister like he did - they fed the poor on their own out of their own pocket, they love on people I wouldn't get too close to because of the smell, they've even healed the deaf and sick and set people free from demonic bondage...

I'd rather walk there than in the debates that will never end...I'm not there yet but I hope to be soon...I'll leave the debating up to others - as a friend once told me "If I can argue someone into the Kingdom, there's probably someone who can argue them out, but if people get loved into the Kingdom, or healed in or woman-at-the-well'ed in, you get a lifer!"

theahnfahn
05-05-2000, 10:29 PM
This is not a debate! At least it won't be until someone says they are absolutely correct and can only teach others the "truth" (I'm afraid we might be getting there, or we may already be there). I am only here to learn, and will never admit I am totally correct, ESPECIALLY on matters such as this where it is so easy to see that throughout the ages the doctrines we read now have been "fuzzied" with ritual and translation. I think we are not so much as attacking Conor's beliefs as we are attacking his claim that he is undoubtedly correct. He states that he has seen all the evidence Wiz has provided, but nothing will sway him away from beliefs in (pick what you like and place it here). I think this is dangerous. You shouldn't look for reasons not to believe until you have reasons to believe, and I must admit his reasons to believe just don't seem logical. They do have some intellectual merit, but he bases his entire claim of complete correctness (specifically in the church) from assumptions that couldn't possibly be guaranteed. So you see, I don't think this is a debate until both sides say "I'm right, and listen why". It is more as if we are saying "From what I know, this is what I see that follows".

------------------
And there he is. The reigning champion of the Boonta Classic, and the crowd favorite-TheAhnFahn

wizzywig
05-05-2000, 11:41 PM
http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/icons/icon14.gif to everyone who has posted on this page.

I also don't consider this a debate in the usual sense. Only a couple of times has it been a bit heated--and it has never been heated between my friend Conor and me, as much as we have differed on so many things.

Conor, while I'm thinking of it, I want to thank you for bringing RARE EARTH to my attention, because the information in that book has become a major facet of the argument in my chapter on Miracles. (If it's okay with you, I'd like to list your name in the acknowledgements.) Thank you!

To quite-gone gin--

I don't know if people encountering this discussion would find it off-putting, as you suppose, or merely boring. (The latter, I suspect.)

I know people I could destroy in a theological debate, but who I can't come close to as far as the love in their heart for God and people, as far as how scripture just isn't in their head but woven into their being in the way they live and love.

You make a very good point. I hope that it is evident in what is posted here that no one is out to rhetorically "destroy" anyone in a theological "debate." I heartily agree that a heart full of Christlike love is of far more value than a head full of theological facts.

...as a friend once told me "If I can argue someone into the Kingdom, there's probably someone who can argue them out, but if people get loved into the Kingdom, or healed in or woman-at-the-well'ed in, you get a lifer!"

Absolutely true. Thanks for that valuable reminder.

I think I can speak for both Conor and myself in saying that this has been very much a learning exercise for both of us. I certainly understand Catholicism much better today than I did a few weeks ago. Even though I do not acknowledge the perfection or infallibility of doctrine that the Catholic church claims, and even though I have been critical of periods of Catholic history, I think Conor would agree when I say that I'm not antiCatholic or bashing Catholicism. We are both stating our perceptions and learning from each other. I think we are doing so in a spirit of Christian brotherhood. I consider Conor very much my brother in Christ.

And I see that TheAhnFahn's role in this discussion has been to challenge illogic and keep our noses to a grindstone of intellectual honesty. It has been a helpful learning exercise all around, I'm sure.

I hope that perspective is helpful, quite-gone. Thanks for posting your thoughts and concerns.

--wiz

------------------
"God never wrought a miracle to convince atheism
because his ordinary works convince it."
--FRANCIS BACON (1551-1626)

[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited May 05, 2000).]

wizzywig
05-06-2000, 11:36 PM
While doing some web research for my book, I came across some quotes that made me LOL (even if I don't agree with them):

And Jesus said unto them, "And whom do you say that I am?"

They replied, "You are the eschatological manifestation of the ground of our being, the ontological foundation of the context of our very selfhood revealed."

And Jesus replied, "What?"

.

"I think I'll believe in Gosh instead of God. If you don't believe in Gosh too, you'll be darned to heck."

.

"If there were an afterlife, Isaac Asimov would have written a book about it by now."

--wiz

Kurgan
05-07-2000, 01:13 AM
Well okay, so you're saying that the only Chrisianity that existed in the beginning was the one portrayed in the New Testament.

So that would mean that the noncanonical Christian writings would all have to be written later. And you would have to "prove" that all of the documents in the NT agree on points of theology, etc. I'm sure you have already done this in part.

I however would say that you still have to pick and choose which ones to follow, as there was much variety in the early Church, just as there is in the modern Church, and just as there was in the Jewish nation before their oral scriptures were finally written down.

Any group that wrote anything later would reject any notion that scripture was "closed" (until of course, their writings were made). A traditional Jew would probably say the same thing about the Christian scriptures.. the were later additions to the bible, that was already closed. They would assert that Christians had no right to "close" their scriptures to begin with.

Kurgan

wizzywig
05-07-2000, 06:41 AM
Kurgan--

Thx for the chance to clarify.

Well okay, so you're saying that the only Chrisianity that existed in the beginning was the one portrayed in the New Testament.

Not exactly. I'm saying the only form of Christianity that can be objectively verified is that which we derive directly from the NT. I'm sure there were aspects and features of the early church that didn't get recorded in the NT, of which I am unaware, but if they are not recorded in the NT, I don't consider them of any importance.

So that would mean that the noncanonical Christian writings would all have to be written later.

No, that does not logically follow.

I worked with Reggie White on his autobiography published in 1996. That is the definitive autiobio of Reggie White. If you want to know his story in his own words, you have to read that book. Does that mean nothing was ever written or published about Reggie before 1996? No. But whether it came before or after that date, if it is not that book, it is not Reggie's definitive story in his own words.

The NT is the definitive blueprint for the Christian church. Many other things have been written around that time, some earlier, some later than the last-written book of the NT, but I don't consider them definitive for doctrine unless they are in today's NT.

About five or ten years ago, I read many of the noncannonical books of the NT era in a book called THE LOST BOOKS OF THE BIBLE. It was interesting reading, but it was pretty clear as I read through them why they were not included as Scripture. A lot of it was pretty silly. I'm hazy on the details now, but I remember some really silly stuff about the boyhood of Christ, describing some really ridiculous and utterly meaningless miracles he supposedly did.

Some of the church epistles were very similar to what Paul wrote, I recall, but they all had some very quirky stuff as well. When you read the NT, you get a strong sense of agreement on the common theme that runs through it all. In fact, there is an amazing consistency from Genesis to Revelation. It's all about one thing: God's plan to redeem the human race from sin.

I however would say that you still have to pick and choose which ones to follow, as there was much variety in the early Church, just as there is in the modern Church, and just as there was in the Jewish nation before their oral scriptures were finally written down.

I'm not sure what kind of variety you mean. Certainly there were cultural and side-issue differences between the churches in Rome, Asia (Turkey), Greece, and Africa. But all of those churches were governed by essentially the same Scriptures. Now, if you're talking about splinter groups like the Gnostics--why would I be interested in adopting the theology of a dead cult?

A traditional Jew would probably say ... They would assert that Christians had no right to "close" their scriptures to begin with.

I feel like I bump up against some curious assumptions in your argument, but I'm not sure what they are. For example, the Old Testament being "their" Scriptures. I think of the OT as OUR Scriptures, something Jews and Christians have in common. I have also felt that the more we know and appreciate about Judaism, the better we understand the origin of Christianity. There is a seamless continuity that both Judaism and Christianity belong to.

About the NT: One of the assumptions I begin with, rooted in evidence and experience, is that God managed to preserve for us the Bible He intends us to have. When that is your assumption, you don't really care if one second century splinter group adopted a different canon or if some other group added a third testament or whatever. You know that the book you have holds together with remarkable consistency and applicability. It makes a good blueprint for a church.

It is also endlessly adaptable, so that churches built on this blueprint could take the form of a liturgical institutional church, a laid-back church meeting in a school cafeteria with rock music for hymns, a secret house church meeting in Communist China, or even an AA meeting (which has much in common with NT Christianity). When I say the NT has the blueprint, I don't mean everybody has to speak Koine Greek and dress in first century robes. I just mean that the essential pattern is there, but we can adapt it in many ways without in any way losing the essence of NT Christianity.

--wiz


[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited May 07, 2000).]

wizzywig
05-07-2000, 03:53 PM
Kurgan, another thought--

I said:

I'm saying the only form of Christianity that can be objectively verified is that which we derive directly from the NT.

That statement is arguable, of course, because a lot of people would not consider the NT a valid objective source. It is only a valid objective source is we establish first that it is reliable. Since that is something I did to my own satisfaction long ago (through a period of doubting, researching, and reaffirming), then I start with the reliability of the NT as a bedrock assumption. Perhaps that's the reason some of my assertions seem off-kilter to you. I make a statement with the reliability of the NT as a given, and you (either not making that same assumption or taking a Devil's advocate position, I'm not sure which) question the seemingly ill-founded statement I made.

Hope that clarifies.

--wiz

Kurgan
05-07-2000, 11:27 PM
The only thing is, how would you know, objectively, the the writings in the New Testament (or even the current english Protestant Bible) are the true or only ones that are "correct"?

Are you saying the writings outside of this "modern bible" are not divinely inspired?

And why not? Simply because they do not agree with modern Protestant theology and doctrines?

It seems to me a cyclical argument to say the only writings that belong in the bible are the ones that are in it, and the only ones that belonged in the bible in the first place were the ones that ended up in it.

How do you know, or are you just assuming that God would make the canonical organizers infallible? The bible itself does not list a canon, or if anything, it says that all scripture is inspired by God! (and then what is "scripture" ?).

This website has a ton of stuff. Btw, the infancy gospels of Thomas (about Jesus and his wacky youth were supposedly written in the middle ages):

http://wesley.nnc.edu/noncanon.htm

We're not talking merely about differences of opinion or cultural differences, although I can see how you would put it that way. That is your belief. That, to me, is sort of like people like ZoomRabbit who say "all religions are basically the same, on the important points." But I think that is putting it a bit too simply.

Read "the Second Treatise of the Great Seth" or "The Trimorphic Protennoia" and tell me why those are not inspired by God, but the books in the current NT are.

This gets back to the OT canon argument. How do you know which books are inspired and which aren't? If a book doesn't seem to "fit" that doesn't necessarily mean it isn't inspired. Maybe the reason it doesn't fit is because the rest of the bible isn't inspired! The Ethopian Church has had extra books that the Catholic and Protestant bibles lack for centuries.. and the Catholics have books the Protestants don't have, and the Jews, they see the Christians who have a whole other set of books they consider utter heresy and nonsense. And the Muslims have a whole book besides the bible, the Koran, which to them is even "more correct" than the Bible itself. So how do we know who's right? Are they all "basically the same" after all?

A Gnostic Christian, an Adoptionist, a Marcionite, a Monophysite, and a Docetist would say they have the true writings, that there writings were around at the same time or before the ones you call the New Testament, and that the only reason their writings aren't in the "Bible" now are because YOUR group conspired to exclude them. Of course they would expect the true Christians to be persecuted by those who want to withhold the truth. ; )

Many of their writings show Jesus and the Apostles saying the sorts of things that would mean that group's beliefs are correct. How do you know they didn't say those things, but said what the proto-orthodox writings that ended up in the NT are what they DID say? And many of these other groups are still around. What would you say to them?

As to my being a devil's advocate or not. I want to accept the NT as a starting point, that would make it much simpler of course, but I cannot honestly do this for myself. I do not see objective evidence enough to validate it as a true starting point of reliability.

Perhaps, and this is not a slam of any kind, but you are so entrenched in your belief that the NT as we have it today is the perfect, infallible document of Christianity in the world, that you can't admit the possibility that it could be wrong. But I don't know that for sure, I am just throwing out ideas here. ; )

Do I know the Bible is the perfect and infallible source of Divinely Inspired revelation and the rest of the documents that claim those things for themselves (or are claimed by others) are not? I don't. If you can, tell me how I would know (other than higher sales figures of course).

Kurgan

[This message has been edited by Kurgan (edited May 07, 2000).]

Kurgan
05-07-2000, 11:52 PM
Here's an example of diversity in Jewish belief.. the Sadducees believed there was no resurrection of the dead, and followed a liberal interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures (as they were at the time).

The Pharisees taught strict observanve of The Law as the way for a person to live, and they believed in resurrection of the Dead.

The Essenes believed the Jerusalem Temple had become corrupt, and that only their group was preserving the true purity of God's Law. They believed in the imminent coming of the Messiah in a very short time (within their lifetimes). They believed they were the "Sons of Light" and the rest were the "Sons of Darkness." God would soon bring the Sons of Light to victory, and establish the Messianic Kingship on earth and wipe out their enemies, the Sons of Darkness, who were led astray or went willingly into the error of Satan.

This was at the time of Jesus mind you, but these groups had been around before his time.

During early Christian times, you had people who believed Jesus was God, and others who believe he had no physical body and only appeared to die on the cross.

Now for a person like yourself who accepts the teaching of Paul and his disciples that Jesus's Death and Resurrection are the most important things, and you have to have faith to be saved would be totally contradicted by their beliefs.

There are those who say that the OT God and the NT God are not the same. The OT God, they call the Demiurge. A created, inferior deity, who is evil and controls matter. Only by Gnosis are we saved. The "knowledge" that we are divine beings, and we must return to a true spirit. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter! -Yoda


Others believe that Jesus was only an "Adopted" son, that is he was a special kind of prophet, but not equal to God.

Others believed that Jesus was somewhere between an angel and a human, but not human, and not God.

Others thought that a person must remain Jewish in all practices and belief, but accept Jesus as the Messiah (the earthly precursor to the Son of Man who was to come to usher in God's Messianic Kingdom in the future).

Others said Jesus had only one nature (not two). Some of these believed he was divine only, others, human only.

Many of these groups asserted that only those that adhered to their specific doctrines were truly "saved." This phenomenon of sectarianism persists today in many circles.

At the time some of these groups believed the Jews were also saved (such as the author of Revelation) but others thought that only if the Jews became Christians could they be saved.

And the thing is, not only the Gnostics and the proto-orthodox, but every group wrote their own gospels and books, and letters. Otherwise we wouldn't know about many of them, as they no longer have large followings. Some have started to come back in forth though. Many would say that Gnostic beliefs live on in the "New Age" movement. But there are small pockets of true Gnostics still around, and of course you can read their books and listen to their lectures online. They are sincere and honest people, who feel that their beliefs are correct, and the rest are merely misguided or corruptions of history. They were "right" from the beginning.

Kurgan

[This message has been edited by Kurgan (edited May 07, 2000).]

Kurgan
05-08-2000, 12:07 AM
Wiz,
Some other points to consider.

The Gnostics are still around. They would most likely object to being called "a dead cult." They are as dead as any other religion that has faithful followers and practices to this day. As to the number of true Gnostics in the world, it is probably at most 1,000 members. But does that mean it isn't true? These are mainly intelligent, searching people, not some drugged out wackos. They can certainly claim to have "been there," as their tradition goes back to the time of Christ (if not before).

If they are a "dead cult" then there are a bunch of "dead cults" around, because there are many groups that have that many followers. They just don't get recognized unless they commit mass suicide or get raided by the FBI.

Also, one cannot claim that the noncanonical writings are not true because "they aren't around today." They are, and have been for some time. Since 1945 actually..

I'm not sure when exactly the Gnostic writings "disapeared." Probably around the time that "Christianity" was made the state religion of Rome. The proto-orthodox was the largest group at the time, and so they were judged by the Romans as the "official" Christianity that was to be adopted. But was that a good decision?

A Gnostic would say that God saw to it to bring back his TRUE law and gospel, as it was being hidden from evil men for a time.

That was the whole point of the movie "Stigmata."

The earliest writings we have from the Gnostics are from the second century, but the content can be dated to the time of Christ, just like the rest of the "canonical" gospels. Sure there are some other later writings mixed in, but for the most part, they're from the "source" so to speak.

Was it any coincidence that the state of Israel was established soon after they were found? Was it any mystery that each scroll was rescued from almost certain destruction, and now they are being published for the whole world to read? If they were so wicked and wrong, wouldn't God, have destroyed them? That is what they would likely say to that.

Does popular opinion really determine divine truth?

Kurgan

[This message has been edited by Kurgan (edited May 07, 2000).]

wizzywig
05-08-2000, 05:59 AM
Hi, Kurgan.

...how would you know, objectively, the the writings in the New Testament (or even the current english Protestant Bible) are the true or only ones that are "correct"?
Are you saying the writings outside of this "modern bible" are not divinely inspired?

And why not? Simply because they do not agree with modern Protestant theology and doctrines?

No.

I believe the Bible we have was deliberately preserved in order to transmit to us the truth that God wants us to have about Himself. I am convinced of the validity of this Bible because this Bible agrees with itself. I don't mean in a circular-reasoning way. I mean in terms of objective evidence.

The ancient writings that are not part of the Bible are just that: ancient writings. I figure if God considered them part of His own self-revelation to the human race, He would have made sure they got included. Whatever the process was, they didn't get included. What do those non-canonical books have to recommend them? Do they make accurate prophecies? The books of the existing Bible do. If these other ancient writings do not demonstrate the kind of power and validity that the Bible documents show, then they are nothing but historical curiosities. They are not Scripture.

Here's how my reasoning works relative to the validity of the Bible: If the Bible really is God's revelation of Himself to the human race, then it should be internally consistent from Genesis to Revelation. Though written by many human hands, it should speak with one voice.

(Which Bible? Catholic or Protestant? Doesn't matter. Let's keep it loose. Leave the Deuterocanonical books in there, it doesn't really change the argument.)

Here's one example of how the different books of the Bible speak with one voice--we talked about this in the old God thread, so you may remember this quote from my post:

For example, Daniel 9:24-26 (New International Version) states:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
24 "Seventy 'sevens' are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.
25 "Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven 'sevens,' and sixty-two 'sevens.' It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.
26 After the sixty-two 'sevens,' the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This prophecy was made by Daniel some time before 500 BC, while Jerusalem lay in ruins after being sacked by the Babylonians. It states that the long-awaited Messiah would come 483 years (“seven 'sevens,' and sixty-two 'sevens'” equals 483) after the issuing of a proclamation to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. That decree was issued by the Persian King Artaxerxes to the Hebrew priest Ezra in 458 BC. Jesus began his ministry in Galilee exactly 483 years later. Note that verse 26 of Daniel 9 says that “the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing.” This is a clear reference to the crucifixion of Christ. After the Anointed One is cut off and killed, says Daniel, “the people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.” In 70 AD, about four decades after the crucifixion, Jerusalem was destroyed again, this time by a Roman, Titus. The great temple of Jerusalem (“the sanctuary”) was completely destroyed, and has never been rebuilt. Today, an Islamic mosque, The Dome of the Rock, stands where the ancient temple once stood.

So here is an amazing degree of evidentiary agreement between the Book of Daniel and the Gospels, which were written nearly 600 years apart. I just encountered another similar instance a few weeks ago that I had never heard of before. This takes a few paragraphs to develop, but the conclusion is so powerful and astounding, that it is worth following the argument carefully.

In Genesis 49:10 we find this prophecy from Jacob to his son Judah: "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come. ..."

The word Shiloh is a Hebrew word for “he to whom it belongs.” In other words, the scepter or symbol of authority shall not depart from Judah until the one to whom it belongs comes to claim it. Hebrew scholars, for hundreds of years before Christ, always understood this to be a reference to the coming Messiah. So this prophecy by Jacob not only predicts the coming of the Messiah, but states that the Messiah must come before the "scepter" (the legal authority, sovereignty, and tribal identity) is removed from the tribe of Judah.

Now, let’s step away from the Bible for a moment and look at the history books. Josephus, the Jewish historian, writing in Antiquities of the Jews (20:9), describes a most amazing event:

After the death of the procurator Festus, when Albinus was about to succeed him, the high priest Ananias considered it a favorable opportunity to assemble the Sanhedrin. He therefore caused James, the Brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, and several others, to appear before this hastily assembled council, and pronounced upon them the sentence of death by stoning. All the wise men and strict observers of the law who were at Jerusalem expressed their disapprobation of this act.... Some even went to Albinus himself, who had departed to Alexandria, to bring this breach of the law under his observation, and to inform him that Ananius had acted illegally in assembling the Sanhedrin without the Roman authority.

Here, Josephus not only affirms the historical reality of Jesus and His half-brother James, but also makes note of a crucial historical fact: The Sanhedrin had no authority to pass a death sentence. At one time, even during the Roman occupation, the Judean Jews had retained the right to pronounce judgment and sentence capital cases (what the Romans called the jus gladii), but at a certain point in Jewish history, this right--this scepter of authority!--was removed from Judah.

When was the scepter removed from Judah? The Palestinian Talmud (one of the two Jewish Talmuds, along with the Babylonian Talmud), tells us exactly when this power was taken away by the Roman government:

A little more than forty years before the destruction of the Temple, the power of pronouncing capital sentences was taken away from the Jews.

How did the Jewish leaders view the removal of this power? They viewed it as the negation of the God's promise through Jacob to the people of Judah, as recorded in Genesis 49:10. They saw it as the annulment of God's prophecy. Though God had promised that the scepter of power and authority would not depart from Judah until the coming of the Messiah, Rome had deposed Archelaus, the king of Judah, stripped the scepter from Judean hands, and placed all power in the hands of the Roman proconsul. The tribe of Judah and the kingdom of Judea were all that had once remained of Israel's former greatness--and now even that had been crushed under the Roman heel.

In his book Jesus Before the Sanhedrin, Augustin Lemann records a statement by Rabbi Rachmon, one of the rabbis of that era, describing the reaction of the Jews to this Roman insult to Jewish sovereignty:

When the members of the Sanhedrin found themselves deprived of their right over life and death, a general consternation took possession of them: they covered their heads with ashes, and their bodies with sackcloth, exclaiming: "Woe unto us for the scepter has departed from Judah and the Messiah has not come."

Why did the Jews respond with such dismay and horror, putting on sackcloth and ashes? Because they believed that the prophecy of Genesis 49:10 had been voided by the Roman government. The scepter had departed from Judah and Messiah had not come--

Or so they thought!

For while the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem wept and bemoaned the loss of the scepter, a few miles away in Nazareth, a boy of about twelve was growing up, the living fulfillment of Jacob's ancient promise to Judah. Jesus of Nazareth, Shiloh, the long-awaited Messiah, had already come and was preparing to take what was his, the scepter of Judah!

This is very important: Once the scepter was removed from Judah, it was no longer possible for any Messiah to come at a later date. Today, any Jewish people who still wait for the Messiah are waiting in vain, for the prophecy of Genesis 40:10 is already fulfilled. No other Messiah can come once the scepter is removed.

What's more, the Temple of Jerusalem, the place where the genealogical records were kept, was destroyed by Titus and Vespasian in 70 A.D. I am informed that it is no longer possible for any Jewish person to prove himself to be a descendant of the tribe of Judah--a necessary condition for the Messiah. So Jesus was Shiloh, the Messiah. He is the one the Jewish people--and all of mankind--have awaited.

Now, what’s important here is how so many lines of evidence converge. First, there is the prophecy of Gen. 49:10, the first book in the Bible. Next, there is the tradition of the Jews, which for hundreds of years held that Shiloh is the Messiah. Next, there is the record of the Gospels, which indicate that Jesus was on the scene at that very moment in history. Plus there is the testimony of nonChristian historians which cross-reference and verify the story, details, chronology, and meaning of the story.

And I’ve just given you two of literally hundreds of instances where different parts of the Bible agree with each other in amazing and clearly supernatural ways. If God Himself was not the Author of these books, then there could not possibly be such astounding agreement among books by different writers composed over such vast stretches of time, and independently verified by nonChristian historians. Compare Isaiah 53 with the Gospels. Compare Psalm 22 with the Crucifixion accounts. Compare Gen. 3:15 with the entire sweep of the New Testament, from the Gospels through the triumph of Revelation. And there is so much more.

So you see, I’m NOT convinced of the validity of the Bible I read because it agrees with Protestant doctrine or with my own preconceptions. I am convinced because, again and again and again, IT AGREES WITH ITSELF in a way that defies coincidence or any natural explanation.

So when I say that my starting assumption is that the Bible is God’s Word, I am actually leaving out a lot of steps that I have previously taken in researching and ascertaining that this is a valid assumption. I have done my homework on this Book, and I’m convinced of its validity.

I won’t quibble over the Deutercanonical books. I have read them (a long time ago, actually, but I’ve read them). I think they are certainly valuable for historical interest. I choose not to base my beliefs on them because I think there is good reason to doubt their usefulness for that purpose. But if others, like Conor, wish to accept them as Scripture, I doubt that any great harm is done—and hey, Conor could be right. But I figure I’ve got my hands full with the 66 books I already have.

More to come (groan)...

--wiz



[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited May 08, 2000).]

wizzywig
05-08-2000, 08:38 AM
...plus I still owe Conor a reply...

--wiz

wizzywig
05-08-2000, 05:51 PM
Kurgan--

We're not talking merely about differences of opinion or cultural differences, although I can see how you would put it that way. That is your belief. That, to me, is sort of like people like ZoomRabbit who say "all religions are basically the same, on the important points." But I think that is putting it a bit too simply.

I’m not sure if we were talking about the same thing. You asked which first century Christian church, as if there were many. And I’m not sure if you meant the different regional divisions of the first century church (Gaul, Rome, Asia Minor, Palestine, Africa) or if you meant different splinter groups, such as Gnostics, etc.

If you meant the former, then I think the differences were largely cultural. If you were referring to various sects, cults, and splinter groups, then of course there are major and fundamental differences. I would never say that all religions (or all systems claiming to be “Christian”) are basically the same. I just wasn’t clear (and still am not) what you meant by “there was much variety in the early Church.”

A Gnostic Christian, an Adoptionist, a Marcionite, a Monophysite, and a Docetist would say they have the true writings . . . . Many of their writings show Jesus and the Apostles saying the sorts of things that would mean that group's beliefs are correct.

All I know is that the Bible I try to live by demonstrates an internal and historical consistency that is nothing short of miraculous (see my previous long post). That is objective evidence for its validity. Now if some other group has a “Bible” that is different, but which stands up to that kind of objective verification, I sure haven’t heard about it.

You say:

As to my being a devil's advocate or not. I want to accept the NT as a starting point, that would make it much simpler of course, but I cannot honestly do this for myself. I do not see objective evidence enough to validate it as a true starting point of reliability.

What would be objective evidence for you? I know that the criteria would vary from person to person, and what I find convincing you might find unpersuasive. But do the kinds of evidence of internal consistency that I cited in the previous post carry weight in your thinking?

Perhaps, and this is not a slam of any kind, but you are so entrenched in your belief that the NT as we have it today is the perfect, infallible document of Christianity in the world, that you can't admit the possibility that it could be wrong. But I don't know that for sure, I am just throwing out ideas here.

I’m repeating myself, probably, but I want to be responsive to your questions. As previously stated, I went through a period of doubting and rational questioning of my faith—a very lengthy period, in fact, at least ten years. I made a point of reading the skeptics and rationalist challenges to my beliefs. I never considered myself an unbeliever or a thorough agnostic, but through much of that time I was almost as much an agnostic as a believer, and I think I’ve got a pretty good grasp of the agnostic and skeptical mindset. I think of myself as a good skeptic. So I think I subjected the Scriptures to some pretty strong tests for falsification, and they passed the tests to my satisfaction.

There are still a number of problem passages that I can’t explain. But a lot of parts of the Scripture that I used to consider errors and contradictions I now understand were misunderstandings on my part (and the part of many antibiblical skeptics). For example, the common misconception that there are two contradictory creation accounts in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2.

Do I know the Bible is the perfect and infallible source of Divinely Inspired revelation and the rest of the documents that claim those things for themselves (or are claimed by others) are not? I don't. If you can, tell me how I would know (other than higher sales figures of course).

As I previously stated (to the point of tedium, I’m sure), the best test I can think of is internal consistency of the entire span of Scripture. The Bible we have today is many books with one theme. If you go through it from Genesis to Revelation, it’s all about the fact that human beings are sinful and in need of redemption, that God is sending (future tense, Genesis to Malachi) or has sent (Matthew to Revelation) the promised Redeemer.

A pastor friend of mine related to me a conversation he had with a man who believed that the Bible was just an ancient collections of unrelated human writings, of historical and cultural interest and curiosity perhaps, but not the inspired Word of God. This pastor said to the man, “Well, let me read some Bible passages to you, and you tell me who these passages are talking about.” So he flipped through his Bible and read:

"Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of
my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me."

"Smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered."

"And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not,
forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD
said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was priced at of
them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the
house of the LORD."

"They shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek."

"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? ... All they that see me
laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, he
trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing
he delighted in him. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of
joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My
strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws. ...
For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me:
they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and
stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my
vesture."

"They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me
vinegar to drink."

"Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did
esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for
our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our
peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep
have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD
hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was
afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the
slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his
mouth. ... And he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin
of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."

(Sorry about the King James Version, btw--I usually use a modern translation, but I took these passages right out of the pastor's email to me, and that's the version he uses. The pastor actually read more verses than this, but I shortened the list.)

After reading all these passages to the man, the pastor asked, “Who are these verses talking about?”

"That's obvious," the man replied. "You were reading about Jesus. That was all about his life and his death on the cross.”

“Are you sure?” asked the pastor. “No doubt in your mind? Couldn’t those verses be about someone else?”

“Of course not. Those verses couldn’t refer to anyone else but Jesus. What’s your point?”

"Simply this," said the pastor. “Every one of the verses I just read to you was written hundreds of years before Jesus was born. They are all from the Old Testament. The latest book in the Old Testament was written 400 years before Christ. Not even the harshest skeptic would claim those verses were written after His birth, because the entire Old Testament was translated from Hebrew into Greek in Alexandria a century and a half before He was born. Now, if the Bible is merely a book written by men, would you please explain to me how those prophetic passages about Jesus came to be written hundreds of years before He was born?"

(Those passages, btw, are from Psalm 41:9, Zechariah 13:7, Zechariah 11:12-13, Micah 5:1, Psalm 22:1,7-8,14-18, Psalm 69:21, and Isaiah 53:4-7,12.)

I don’t know if you find that kind of evidence compelling or not, but at least I’m not citing sales figures. http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/wink.gif

--wiz




[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited May 08, 2000).]

Conor
05-09-2000, 10:07 PM
Sorry I haven't been around for a while. I really have lost my enthusiasm for this discussion (no offense to anybody, I just don't feel like doing it). I still like reading what people have to say though.

Here's something I read today (roughly, I'm not quoting):

A minister decided to play hooky on his Sunday service and let his assistant do it. He drove to a far away golf course so he wouldn't have a chance of bumping into any parishoners. St. Peter looked down and asked God, "Are you going to let him get a away with this?" God was silent. The minister hit the first ball and got a 383 yard hole-in-one.

St. Peter exclaimed, "Why did you let him do that?!" God responded, "Who is he going to tell?"

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

As for this debate, I don't see it as dangerous or foolish or pointless. If I think others are mistaken about certain areas of reality (i.e. what Jesus wants us to do) then I would like to try to point out why and how. I am not going to get upset if they don't agree with me. The worst that can happen on both sides is that we learn, which I have. I have a better grasp of the Protestant mindset, which in many ways I haven't seen described as well before.

I don't think it hurts in the slightest...

------------------
"First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in."
-C.S. Lewis

LSF_Brasidus
05-10-2000, 10:46 PM
If anyone is interested, one of the most grounded groups of Protestant Christians I know is als a JK Clan, Redeemed: http://www.expressedthoughts.com/redeemed/
Check them out!
Also they have a sister site mainly involving theology: http://www.expressedthoughts.com/
LSF_Brasidus
Protestant Christian, with strong Anabaptist afilliations theologically

wizzywig
05-12-2000, 04:40 AM
LSF_Brasidus--

Welcome, and thanks for the info on www.expressedthoughts.com. (http://www.expressedthoughts.com.)

I'm familiar with the Anabaptist tradition, btw. My grandparents were Mennonites.

--wiz

wizzywig
05-12-2000, 05:06 AM
Conor--

I understand your loss of enthusiasm for the subject (interestingly, the word “enthusiasm” comes from the Greek entheos, meaning to be filled or infused with God, so if you no longer feel enthused about something, it probably means that God is not leading you to pursue that thing any longer!).

I have gained a lot in the discussion, both from what you have posted and from the way your posts have made me do my homework on these issues, so I feel I’ve gotten quite an education as a result.

I don’t want to debate you on anything you presented. The stuff you present on Peter and Apostolic Authority makes a fine case if you are predisposed to accepting Church authority and tradition as infallible, but unconvincing from a Sola Scriptura position. Which means that we have ended up right where we started, which should surprise neither of us.

Catholic tradition and doctrine can be SUPPORTED from Scripture, but it cannot be PROVEN from Scripture. Every Scripture passage you cite that supports the perfection or infallibility or authority of the Church is certainly a valid support for your point, but also can be interpreted differently.

The Lord’s “rock” statement to Peter after his confession, for example, has several possible interpretations that I’m aware of. The Catholic Church says that Peter himself is the rock and that the keys of the kingdom symbolize church authority. But others argue (quite logically, it seems to me) that Peter is renamed “Rocky” (so to speak) because of the confession he has just made, and that the rock of Peter’s confession--the truth that Christ is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God--is the foundational rock upon which the church is to be built, not the man Peter himself.

And what about the keys? In Matthew 16:19, Jesus tells Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." The Catholic church says this symbolizes the power and authority of the papacy. But look two chapters further, in Matthew 18:18, and you find Jesus saying to ALL the disciples (and thus, by extension, all believers): “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

When I compare what Jesus says about building His church upon the rock (whatever that rock may be), I have to compare it with other Scripture, such as 1 Cor. 3:11-12 and Eph. 2:20-21, which says that the only foundation for the church is Christ alone. Therefore, it seems reasonable to me that the rock that Jesus was talking about was Peter’s confession of Christ as Messiah and Son of God, not any mere human being such as Peter. So it is Jesus, not Peter, who is the Rock, and Peter’s renaming is occasioned by the fact that Peter was the first human being to grasp and express the truth of Jesus’s true identity.

The "keys," then, symbolize our authority as believers to affect world events and even God’s eternal plan by proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is why all believers possess these keys, according to Matthew 18:18.

I understand and appreciate the Catholic position regarding Peter and the papacy, but I cannot accept it because (1) there is no clear, unambiguous evidence for the claim in Scripture (all Scripture you cited is of arguable interpretation or inferential in nature, not definitive), (2) there is Scriptural evidence which undermines the claim, and (3) the history of corruption in the church further undermines the claim. It is hard for me to imagine that if the position of Pope was so sacrosanct to God that He would have allowed it to be occupied so many times by such dismal occupants.

Scripture undermines the claim by the fact that Peter himself never claims to be pope. In fact, much to the contrary, he refers to himself as one elder among many (1 Peter 5:1) and repudiated any attempts to set up a powerful hierarchy over the church (1 Peter 5:3). He refused to receive the kind of homage that is now part of the traditional homage paid to a Pope (Acts 10:25-27). His authority in spiritual and doctrinal matters was clearly challenged by Paul (Gal. 2:11-14), who certainly didn’t see Peter as infallible. And there is no evidence apart from Catholic tradition that Peter ever presided over the church in Rome or even went to Rome. Interestingly, Paul’s epistle to the Romans greets many believers in Rome, but does not mention Peter (see Romans 16).

The point here is not to argue with you and make you or the RCC out to be wrong. It is simply to point out that the Protestant position has a strong and meritorious case based in Scripture.

If you start from the premise that Church authority is the equal of biblical authority, then your case makes sense. If you start from the premise that biblical authority is supreme, and the validity of Church doctrine and tradition must be proven from a biblical basis alone, your case becomes unconvincing. Add to this the profoundly corrupt history of the institutional church and I find it simply impossible to give credence to Church authority and tradition.

And these are the premises that divide us. It is a deep and wide chasm, and I can’t cross it without a much stronger biblical bridge than the one you have constructed. So we each have our premises, and we stand on them. And that’s okay, from my pov.

From my understanding of Scripture, I find many, many unambiguous statements that prevent me from accepting the authority of the RCC. I cannot accept a priesthood or a Pope interposed between myself and God as a mediator. I see the priesthood as a continuation of the Jewish sacrificial system that was abolished by Christ when He made the final full sacrifice that the Jewish sacrifices merely pointed toward. One of the things I’ve learned in this dialog we’ve had, that I never understood before, was that the celebration of the mass is actually an echo of the old Jewish sacrificial system. The Catholic priest, in effect, acts like an Old Testament priest, offering a blood sacrifice for sin, every time the Host is blessed and offered in the mass. That, I now see, is why the concept of the Real Presence is so important to Catholic thinking. If the blood sacrifice is not made for sins at each mass, there is no mediation, no fresh remission of sins.

From passages such as 1 Tim. 2:5, Mark 2:7, Romans 5:2, and Hebrews 4:16, it seems clear to me that all believers were intended to have direct and unmediated access to God through prayer. The sacrifice of Christ accomplished the full and complete forgiveness of all sin, once and for all (Hebrews 9:26; 10:10-14), with no need for any penance, purgatory, or absolution by a priesthood to add anything to the salvation and forgiveness that Christ accomplished on the cross. You can go through the entire New Testament, and you will not find a single reference to the office of priest in the church. There are many other offices, but not the office of priest. In fact, Peter himself specifically says that all Christians are priests in a metaphorical sense, in that we offer a sacrifice of holy living before God (see 1 Peter 2:5,9).

I could not in good conscience refer to a priest as “Father” or the pope as “Holy Father” because in my mind it is a direct violation of what Christ said in Matthew 23:9: “And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.”

I don’t say this to argue the point with you. I do not say this is wrong for you. I simply wanted to make it clear why I cannot accept your previous points for my own life, even though I do see how they support your belief system, given the premises upon which your belief system is based.

I should address a couple points you raised, just to make sure you know that I read them and weighed them—I didn’t ignore anything you said. For example:

The early Church has always accepted the Bishop of Rome as head of the Church. … St. Irenaeus, who was taught by St. Polycarp (a disciple of St. John the Apostle), says that Christians must be united to the Church of Rome in order to maintain the Apostolic Tradition. He presents this teaching as something taken for granted. … In the first 200 years of Christianity, every Pope but one was martyred.

Historians outside of the church dispute a lot of Catholic history and tradition. I have no problem with Catholics accepting the Catholic version of early church history, but I personally find considerable reason to doubt the Catholic version. There is evidence that the church in Rome first asserted authority over the entire church near the end of the second century, and that those assertions of Rome’s primacy were repeatedly rejected by the church in Asia, Judea, and Africa. Apparently Pope Victor (Bishop of Rome, AD 189-198) claimed the right to dictate to the churches in Asia Minor, a claim the Asiatic bishops rejected, according to Eusebius and Tertullian.

As I understand it, Rome’s primacy was repeatedly rejected by the larger church until well into the 5th century. By that time, the Judean church had been persecuted nearly out of existence, the African church had been largely overrun and wiped out by the Vandals, and the Asian church was also in disarray. (All of this disarray was due to the collapsing Roman Empire.) Under Pope Leo I, Rome asserted its primacy over the ruins of the fallen Roman Empire, and there were no church leaders outside of Rome (with the except of the Greek church) with sufficient strength to resist. Secular historians claim that canons of earlier church councils were forged under Leo I; whether or not that is true (Catholic historians would certainly deny it), that would explain some discrepancies between Scripture and Catholic tradition, at least in my mind.

Under Pope Gregory I (590-604), the wealth and power and even slave-holding status of the church greatly expanded. Under Gregory VII, the Pope asserted power over kings (he excommunicated Henry IV of Germany), and attempted to establish the Pope as the absolute Monarch of the world. From the 5th century through the 16th century (the time of the Reformation), the focus of the RCC seemed to be the acquisition and exercise of temporal (earthly) power. I contrast this chain of events with Jesus’ statement that “My kingdom is not of this world,” and I have to question once more the validity and genuine spiritual authority of this institution, as it was then comprised.

You say, “In the first 200 years of Christianity, every Pope but one was martyred,” but secular historians indicate that while the title "martyr" was given to nearly every Pope in the first two centuries of the church, probably only two out of thirty were actually martyred. Most of the early popes appear to be obscure men of whom little is objectively known. Of later popes, particularly from AD 300 to 1650, what is known is all too often unsavory, but only to be expected of people who have aspired to and achieved a position of enormous political power, as the papacy then was. It seems clear to me, when I read what Jesus had to say about power, leadership vs. servanthood, and the seduction of religious evil, that the last thing He had in mind for His church was that it would become a sprawling, powerful political/religious institution. The very last thing. That was what He always fought and warned against, and that was what put Him on the cross. And the sordid history of the church from the fourth to the sixteenth centuries would seem to bear out that analysis.

To me, it is significant that the Church declared that its own tradition was of equal authority with Scripture at the Council of Trent, during the height of both church corruption and the dissension of the Reformation. I believe this is a sad mistake, for it runs counter to the rebuke that Jesus delivered to the Pharisees in Mark 7:8,13: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! … Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that."

I see a lot of situations where it seems to me that the RCC traditions run at cross purposes with Scripture, so I must part with the tradition and cling to the Scripture. I don’t fault you or consider you in any serious error for believing as you do, but this is what, in all good conscience, I must do. That is the reason I remain unpersuaded by your arguments, but I have been greatly educated and enlightened by everything you have shared with me, and I really appreciate it.

All the best to you, my friend,
--wiz

Conor
05-12-2000, 08:08 AM
Don't you find it all interesting that you do consider Peter in matters of faith and morals to be infallible along with the rest of the Apostles? (as you believe their writing in the Bible are infallible). http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/smile.gif

Anyway, there is a kerfuffle going on in the Jedi Power Battles forum and someone is demanding even a shred of concrete evidence that God exists. I thought you may like to try your hand. http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/biggrin.gif

I got a new sig too.

------------------
"To believe anything at all is to believe it true. To believe something true is to believe that whatever is incompatible with it must be false. And to believe somebody else's belief false is implicitly intolerant. Therefore, if intolerance is an evil, belief itself-in anything-is an evil. So the only way we can get rid of intolerance is to prohibit belief. Which, of course, would be very intolerant indeed."
-Ted Byfield

LSF_Brasidus
05-12-2000, 05:19 PM
Hi guys!
Thank you forthe welcome Wiz!

Just to clarify, my comment about the Anabaptists is more in regard to the original 16th century version, not that I have a problem with the modern Anabaptists mind you ;-) I in particular I hold an affinity for Balthazaar Hubmaier. Those unfamiliar with the topic I highly recommend “The Anabaptist Story An introduction to sixteenth century Anabaptism” by William R. Estep.
I think both Conor and Wizzywig would both find it a very enlightening read. And at least one of you would find it very enjoyable I believe.

I would dearly love to contribute to this discussion, but I fear that I really do not have the time to give proper replies and so I will give none. Suffice it to say that I am in accord with the majority of Wiz'z statements except for a few in regard to who is encompassed by the "church invisible."

If I might offer another text that I think is excellent "Sola Scriptura! The Protestant Position on the Bible" makes an excellent case using both the Word, and the writings of the Church Fathers to defend the doctrine of sola Scriptura. http://www.sdgbooks.com/sdgbooks/
May the Lord bless and keep you all.
Brasidus

Zoom Rabbit
05-13-2000, 10:48 AM
Aha! Mention Zoom Rabbit, and his ears appear...!

Howdy, folx! http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/biggrin.gif Yes, Kurgan that does sum up my argument, and it really is that simple. God is everywhere, and every religion (except maybe the Church of Satan) is devoted to Him. The only differences are related to how we perceive Him.

http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/wink.gif

------------------
"The entire universe is simply the fractal chaos boundary between intersecting domains of high and low energy."

wizzywig
05-16-2000, 09:37 PM
Kurgan--

I just wanted to check in with you on the subjects we were talking about here. You had asked me my reasons for trusting the validity of the generally accepted Old and New Testaments. I had supplied a general principle (the supernatural self-consistency of the Bible, the fact that there is a degree of agreement between various parts and books of the OT and NT that defies mere coincidence), plus specific examples, such as Messianic OT prophecies that are fulfilled in Christ in a way that defies natural (that is, apart from God) explanation. In other words, for these prophecies and fulfillments to line up as they do is statistically impossible unless this Bible truly is God's revelation of Himself to the human race. That, I think, is a powerful objective verification, especially given the examples I cited.

I was wondering what you thought of that evidence and that line of reasoning.

On a different matter--

I just posted to Ikhnaton in another thread how much I appreciate the job of moderating you folks do. And I wanted to post it again to make sure that the comment reached you. I wrote:

I really have to hand it to you and Kurgan and whoever else moderates this place--this is a great forum, in large part because of the way it is moderated.

A month or so ago, I posted at a Star Trek forum I hadn't visited in a while, and was really disappointed. Everything was so rigidly controlled. Every thread you opened had to fit rigidly into the overall heading, or you had to post it in a "Misc." heading that nobody ever visited--unlike here, where there is freedom to talk about God in the Racer forum, etc.

The moderators at the Trek forum treated people like children. The least little bit of heatedness, and they would close and lock the thread. (They did that to two of my threads.) When I posted a message asking why it was moderated so tightly, the moderator said all questions to moderators had to be handled privately by email or ICQ--then she locked the thread! That was my last post in that forum.

Here, things may get a little heated from time to time, but rarely over the top, and people are grownup enough (and trusted enough) to handle it, resolve it, and move on without having the moderators swoop in and lock the thread.

My hat's off to you and Kurgan and the rest for making this a great place to meet, discuss, and even debate.

So your efforts and your wise handling of this forum, though unheralded, are much appreciated.

--wiz



------------------
"Christian:
One who believes that the New Testament
is a divinely inspired book admirably suited
to the spiritual needs of his neighbor."
--AMBROSE BIERCE

Kurgan
05-17-2000, 01:13 AM
Well wiz, I pretty much expected a long, drawn out series of posts, and I got just that.

Have to hand it to you. ; )

Essentially what you have presented to me is a semi-comprehensive argument for the traditional (Protestant) Christian viewpoint. That about sums it up.

I think it was very good, thanks. ; )

I guess the only thing I could really say in response to that (if I were a Gnostic) would be that the only thing a modern Christian (Protestant, Catholic or Orthodox) is that the only reason that we (the Gnostics) are viewed as a "cult" or "splinter group" is because we were a persecuted minority at the time of Christ and since then.

Just becuase the majority of Christians back then and now didn't agree with us, doesn't mean we are wrong. How do you know we aren't the elect?

They would say that because they are the underdog, that only goes to show that they are God's elect.

Of course a Traditional Christian like yourself would say that the reason the Gnostics don't have a bigger foothold than the Orthodox groups of Christians is because it is God's will that most Christians follow the "true invisible brotherhood of believers" and that Gnostics, while in error, could still be saved by God's mercy if they live as good people.

And that's about how it goes.

Whenever I ask questions on here that may sound challenging or like I'm being a "devil's advocate," it's not because I'm trying to be mean or anything, I just want to know what everyone's viewpoints are, and what they would say to various arguments that would seem on the surface to undermine their viewpoint. This gives me a better understanding of each philosophical approach and helps me to better approach discussing these subjects with others and informing my own belief.

I'm glad people enjoy these forums. I do the best I can. But it would be for nothing without the cooperation of good people like yourselves. ; )

Kurgan

[This message has been edited by Kurgan (edited May 16, 2000).]

wizzywig
05-17-2000, 05:56 AM
Kurgan--

I'm baffled by your reply. I think that somewhere in those lengthy posts of mine, a very simple point got buried or obscured, because you seem to be missing my point (unless I am missing yours). This has nothing to do with Protestantism or Catholicism whatsoever.

Your original question, as I understood it, was: "How do I know that the now-accepted Bible is valid?" Or, perhaps, "How do I know that the now-accepted Bible is the authentic Word of God?"

(Protestant, Catholic, doesn't matter. We are just talking about THE BIBLE, and I don't care if we mean the Catholic or Protestant canons, because the differences between the two are piddly, for all intents and purposes.)

My argument is that if the Bible is NOT the valid and authentic Word of God, it would be merely a collection of disparate, disjointed, discontinuous, unrelated books composed by many different human writers over thousands of years, written in an assortment of languages amid an assortment of cultures, without any common thread or theme to link those books together.

If, however, the Bible is the valid and authentic Word of God, it would (despite the many different human writers, cultures, languages, and long time frame) show an amazing unity, continuity, and homogeneity. You could prove its validity OBJECTIVELY by comparing (for example) O.T. prophecies with N.T. fulfillments. If all these different books seem to speak with one voice and tell one consistent story (which they do), then you would have to say that this is objectively validated as God's revelation of Himself to the human race.

That is my point in a nutshell. It probably was obscured by the fact that I used several lengthy examples as evidence to make the point.

In one example, I used a prophecy in the Hebrew Old Testament that was fulfilled by Christ in the four gospels of the Greek New Testament and verified by outside sources, such as Josephus. This was the prophecy about the sceptre not departing from Judah until Shiloh (the Messiah) comes.

I'm not sure you grasped the significance of that awesome prophecy and its fulfillment, and what a powerful validation that is of the Bible. (Note: this is not a validation of Protestantism, or of Sola Scriptura, but purely of the Bible itself). And that example is just one of HUNDREDS of such validations of Scripture.

Now, I'm not familiar with Gnostic belief or what Gnostics consider to be Scripture, but I would ask this:

Can Gnosticism be objectively verified? The Bible HAS been objectively verified.

You say:
Just becuase the majority of Christians back then and now didn't agree with us [Gnostics], doesn't mean we are wrong. How do you know we aren't the elect?

They would say that because they are the underdog, that only goes to show that they are God's elect.

Of course a Traditional Christian like yourself would say that ... Gnostics, while in error, could still be saved by God's mercy if they live as good people.

I'm baffled by all of the above. I don't view spiritual/biblical truth in terms of "the majority rules." I assess it in terms of objective validation. If Gnosticism could be validated as I have just objectively validated the Scriptures, then I would have to embrace it, even if that would make me the only Gnostic in the world. I believe in truth, not safety in numbers. But I am unaware of any such objective validation of Gnosticism.

As to your statement that I would say that Gnostics could be saved "if they live as good people," I wouldn't believe that for a moment. I have objectively validated the Bible as the Word of God, and the Word of God tells me that the only hope for any human being (Christian, Gnostic, Protestant, Catholic, Buddhist, Mormon, Hindu, or Reformed Cydonian) is faith in Jesus Christ.

I'm sorry if my past long posts have served to obscure rather than illuminate the point I'm making. But I hope this post makes the point clear: The Bible can be OBJECTIVELY VERIFIED AND VALIDATED. I think the evidence deserves a second look.

All the best--
WYSIWYG

------------------
"Christian:
One who believes that the New Testament
is a divinely inspired book admirably suited
to the spiritual needs of his neighbor."
--AMBROSE BIERCE

[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited May 17, 2000).]

wizzywig
05-17-2000, 06:59 PM
Kurgan--

Let me compress this whole issue even further (since I'm sure you don't want to get drawn into a "long, drawn-out series of posts"). My single, simple question to you would be:

http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/icons/icon5.gif Does the fact that the Bible contains many historically verified prophecies and fulfillments regarding Jesus as the Messiah serve to objectively validate the Bible as God Word (in your opinion)? [Y/N]

I will not even ask you to explain your answer. Feel free to simply answer yes or no. I am curious as to whether this sort of evidence cuts any ice with people.

Anyone else on this forum, feel free to chime in with opinions as well.

--wiz

<font size=1><font color = gray>



[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited May 17, 2000).]

theahnfahn
05-17-2000, 07:26 PM
The problem is "historically verified". Wiz, you say OT prophecies are realized in the NT. But some can argue the NT was written AROUND the OT, crafting fiction around fact. Historical verification, as much as I hate to admit it, is basically the weakest form of proof. In fact, it proves nothing. It only gives reason to believe. Let me repeat your question:

Does the fact that the Bible contains many historically verified prophecies and fulfillments regarding Jesus as the Messiah serve to objectively validate the Bible as God Word (in your opinion)? [Y/N]

I admit it is a FACT that the Bible contains historically verified prophecies and ..., but this fact just tells us that the Bible as a whole tells a story that is consistent from cover to cover. Consistency is present in fiction as well, so this isn't much to go by. But you also make the claim that the Bible has a strong historical foundation, and is consistent with OTHER historical documents. Again, I say when all we have to go by is written history, especially this dated, objective validity is lost. You have to admit there exists a circumstance in which the Bible is historically inaccurate. Even though I feel historical documentation is the weakest form of verification, it can still give reason to believe. So my answer to your question would be no. It subjectively validates the Bible, however, because we all make a choice on whether to believe the history or not.

------------------
And there he is. The reigning champion of the Boonta Classic, and the crowd favorite-TheAhnFahn

[This message has been edited by theahnfahn (edited May 17, 2000).]

Zoom Rabbit
05-17-2000, 08:06 PM
So, TAF, it would seem you're saying that an objective argument alone can't validate the Bible, and at some point a subjective call must be made.

I agree with you. Scary, huh? http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/wink.gif

wizzywig
05-17-2000, 08:26 PM
TheAhnFahn:

You have to admit there exists a circumstance in which the Bible is historically inaccurate.

It sounds as if you have a specific instance in mind. I'd be interested in knowing specifically what you are referring to.

Btw, did you read my entire post on the previous page of this thread regarding the "scepter shall not depart from Judah until Shiloh comes" prophecy in Genesis? That prophecy is validated in so many ways by both N.T. documents and extrabiblical historians that I think it must be considered OBJECTIVE, not subjective, evidence.

I'd be interested if you would read that post carefully and give me your opinion (unless you already have read it and you have already rendered your opinion). It's a long post, but I think the implications are mind-blowing, and are verified six ways from Sunday.

One last thing: While doing research on a different matter, I came across a website that talks about performing a statistical (odds) analysis of biblical prophecies about Jesus the Messiah. I don't know anything about the site and don't endorse it, but this page makes an interesting case similar to what we've been discussing: http://www.channel1.com/mpr/Articles/53-prob.html .

--wiz


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

Nowhere does Jesus demand of his hearers
that they shall sacrifice thinking to believing.
--ALBERT SCHWEITZER

<font size = 1><font color = gray>



[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited May 17, 2000).]

theahnfahn
05-17-2000, 10:35 PM
I've worked 22 hours in the last two days (I complain too much). If I did read it my brain has been washed clean of all knowledge. I'll give it a looksee tonight.

wizzywig
05-17-2000, 11:09 PM
TheAhnFahn--

You don't complain too much, you work too hard! You oughta tell your boss that Lincoln freed the slaves back in 1863.

--wiz

Kurgan
05-17-2000, 11:45 PM
No offense intended Wiz.

What was my reaction supposed to be?

I understand your conviction and wish to validate your opinion, and I think you've done a good job of explaining it.

All I'm saying is that your belief, in a nutshell, is what is called the "Traditional Christian" viewpoint. That's just a simplistic way of classifying your philosopies for my own personal recollection.

I don't mean to try to downplay any of the things you have said.

As to the Gnostic arguments, I'd have to ask a Gnostic. I am in the process of studying them, and have only a few bits to throw out, which I have done already.

I'm sure they have plenty of counter-arguments. They obviously didn't spend two thousand years putting their fingers in their ears and yelling "nanananannana!" (or maybe they did... we'll find out!).

I was never arguing that the bible was NOT objectively verifiable or that the early Christian Church was not mostly proto-orthodox (in other words, the "Church of today" is "essentially" the "mere Christianity" of the early Church.. the majority of the early Church). All I was doing was REPORTING, what other groups would say in RESPONSE to your statements.

Obviously, the "evidence" is not perfectly clear to everyone, or else they would agree with you and hold the exact same premise that you hold, would they not? (barring "cultural" or other differences that you consider insignificant in regard to the "larger picture" and etc).

No disrespect at all. Remember, I'm entitled to my opinion just as you are.

Kurgan

Kurgan
05-17-2000, 11:58 PM
Okay, I think I see the problem. When I said "live as good people" I should have said "live as Christ commanded."

Question for you, before I write my response to your question.

If a person lives as Jesus commanded, are they saved? (even if they do not know who Jesus is, or are not baptised into a Christian Church)

Since you reject ritual however, I think that "living as Christ commanded" would probably have a slightly different meaning to someone like me than to someone like you, and that's fine, we established that already.

But, in your opinion, and you seem to be saying something like that ("faith in Jesus Christ is what saves" along those lines).

Does a person have to believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died for our sins to be saved? Or can they merely live as the steward and brother of his neighbor that Jesus commanded him to be?

If I'm an atheist, but I live as a person who does all the kinds of things Jesus told people to do, would I be saved (even though I rejected the Bible and the churches and all that)?

Kurgan

wizzywig
05-18-2000, 12:35 AM
Kurgan--

No offense intended Wiz.
None taken. I wasn't offended. I was frankly and candidly baffled, as I said, because your reply didn't seem to respond to my post. So I thought that either you had missed something or I had.

I understand your conviction and wish to validate your opinion, and I think you've done a good job of explaining it.

All I'm saying is that your belief, in a nutshell, is what is called the "Traditional Christian" viewpoint. That's just a simplistic way of classifying your philosopies for my own personal recollection.

What baffles me particularly is that you don't seem to respond to the specific evidence I presented. You seem to write it off as my "conviction" and my "opinion."

As to trying to "classify" my philosophies as "Traditional Christian," I am reminded of the time I went to the hospital in 1974. When I was admitted, a nurse asked me my religion for the chart. I answered, "Christian." She said, "Catholic or Protestant?" I said, "Just Christian." She wrote down "Protestant."

I guess people have to put you in a box, whether the box fits or not. Otherwise, people don't know where to stack you. I've been trying to shed the box and deal purely with the evidence.

You say:
I don't mean to try to downplay any of the things you have said.

I guess my frustration (not an angry frustration, but a disappointed one) is that I don't see you dealing with my evidence. I just see you dismissing it as my opinion. But I didn't make this stuff up. It's not subjective. It tests out. If I'm wrong in that appraisal, I wish somebody'd point out where I'm wrong, because I think this is startling stuff.

As to the Gnostic arguments, I'd have to ask a Gnostic. ... I'm sure they have plenty of counter-arguments. They obviously didn't spend two thousand years putting their fingers in their ears and yelling "nanananannana!" (or maybe they did... we'll find out!).

Most religions are subjective at base. Christianity is the only one I've seen that tests out objectively. My presumption is that Gnosticism has a subjective basis, too. If I'm wrong about that, I'd love to see the evidence.

Obviously, the "evidence" is not perfectly clear to everyone, or else they would agree with you and hold the exact same premise that you hold, would they not?

No. For example, the "scepter of Judah" evidence I cited in a previous post, which I think is mind-blowing, is something I only became aware of a few weeks ago. I had never heard it before.

I think most of the evidence I've been discussing in recent posts is evidence 9 out of 10 Christians (and 99,999 out of 100,000 nonChristians) have never heard before. I don't think people have looked into this evidence and disagreed. They have simply never heard any of it before.

No disrespect at all. Remember, I'm entitled to my opinion just as you are.

Of course you are. I'm not sure what that refers to. If I said something that indicates I'm trying to bully you into changing your opinion or something, I apologize. I just wanted to find out what you think about the specific evidence I posted, and I still don't know the answer to that. If you do not wish to answer that, no problem. Or if you think you did answer that by attributing it to my opinions, okay, that's your answer.

Question for you, before I write my response to your question.

If a person lives as Jesus commanded, are they saved? (even if they do not know who Jesus is, or are not baptised into a Christian Church)? ... Does a person have to believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died for our sins to be saved? Or can they merely live as the steward and brother of his neighbor that Jesus commanded him to be?

If I'm an atheist, but I live as a person who does all the kinds of things Jesus told people to do, would I be saved (even though I rejected the Bible and the churches and all that)?

My best answer to those questions is in two parts:
1. As B.J. once said on M*A*S*H, "I'm not the Acme Judgment Company." I leave the question of who is saved and who is not to God.
2. Jesus did say, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me." When you look at that in context, it still means what it seems to mean. So I think the safest thing is for people to commit their lives to Jesus Christ. Still, God is merciful, and he holds us accountable for the "light" we have received. So those who don't believe because they haven't heard much or anything about Christ will be dealt with according to God's mercy. What that means in the final analysis is beyond my ability to judge. I plead ignorance of God's mind on such matters.

I'm not trying to weasel out of answering. I'm simply giving the best answer I can muster.

--wiz





------------------
"Nowhere does Jesus demand of his hearers
that they shall sacrifice thinking to believing."
--ALBERT SCHWEITZER

wizzywig
05-18-2000, 06:46 PM
Kurgan--

I've been giving some additional thought to your question:
If I'm an atheist, but I live as a person who does all the kinds of things Jesus told people to do, would I be saved (even though I rejected the Bible and the churches and all that)?

It just hit me that the question is based on a false premise--that a person can be an atheist and still do all the things Jesus told people to do. Because the most central thing Jesus told people to do was believe, and that is the one thing the atheist either cannot or will not do. Here are Jesus' own clear commands to believe:

Mark 1:15 "The time has come, the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"

Mark 16:16 "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."

John 3:16-18 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son."

John 6:29 "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."

John 8:24 "I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins."

There's nothing I need to add to that. I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

--wiz



------------------
"Nowhere does Jesus demand of his hearers
that they shall sacrifice thinking to believing."
--ALBERT SCHWEITZER

theahnfahn
05-19-2000, 05:33 AM
I have heard people say "Well, if you don't believe in Jesus then you will not be saved." An atheist response is usually "So babies are not saved." Then, to qualify their statement, the Christian would say "I find it hard to believe that in the infinite mercy of God innocent little babies who are incapable of understanding the concept of Christ are not saved."

Now, I must admit this baffles me. In the infinite mercy of God, I would have the belief that those who have never been introduced the concept of Christ, who have never been introduced adequate proof of Christ, or who live life, love life, and love others, yet fail to be persuaded by 2000 year old documentaries of the life of one man, are not saved. Who here could honestly come to the conclusion that there is a God, a soul, and an eternal life in heaven without reading the teachings of Jesus? I can understand how one can flat out reject God's mercy, and therefore is not subject to it, but how is an ignorant baby any different than an ignorant adult?

[This message has been edited by theahnfahn (edited May 19, 2000).]

Conor
05-19-2000, 06:55 AM
My answer would be none. As far as I'm concerned there is no difference between an ignorant man and an ignorant baby. I'm certain God wouldn't punish either of them for not knowing the truth.

However, we can safely say that all babies that die have not been able to reject God, therefore their destiny is assured. We can make no such predictions about adults. A third party cannot tell whether a person is ignorant or has knowingly rejected God in favor of himself. So if someone asks me if any baby went to heaven, I will say yes. If someone asks me whether an atheist went to heaven, I will say I don't know. We could guess, but I don't see the point.

There is also willful ignorance. I don't think God is very happy about people who are deliberately ignorant. What He does about them, I couldn't say.

------------------
"To believe anything at all is to believe it true. To believe something true is to believe that whatever is incompatible with it must be false. And to believe somebody else's belief false is implicitly intolerant. Therefore, if intolerance is an evil, belief itself-in anything-is an evil. So the only way we can get rid of intolerance is to prohibit belief. Which, of course, would be very intolerant indeed."
-Ted Byfield

Kurgan
05-19-2000, 03:14 PM
wizzywig: Good answer!

Kurgan

wizzywig
05-19-2000, 04:07 PM
Thanks, Kurgan.

Conor and TheAhnFahn, ultimately it has to come down to a matter of humility and trust. Questions of who gets saved under certain special circumstances are beyond my capacity, but in all humility, I know I can trust the awesome God of the Bible, the awesome God of the Anthropic Principle, to do what is right and just and fair toward every human soul. And I have to leave it at that, while doing everything I can to let people know the truth of Jesus Christ.

--wiz

chewie's hairbrush
05-26-2000, 10:44 AM
For Wiz (cross thread conversations are fun) and as an answer to Kurgan's original question.

I would consider myself a weak atheist, i.e. I am highly skeptical about the existance of deities but I don't KNOW that gods don't exist.

The thing that occured to me whilst chatting to wiz in the JPB thread was that I don't care whether or not the universe was created by the jewish/christian/islamic god, sneezed into existence by the great green arckle-seizure or just happended by pure chance. I also don't care if any of the available things I could "worship" exist. None of it has any effect on me at all. I can live quite happily without religion. To acheive that happiness though I do have to live follow my own moral code. I don't care what religion anyone else decides to follow. I do care how people act. We all do though, we all judge others by our own values it can't be helped.

I think I'll regret this post wiz becuase I expect that it could easily be greeted with a round of "If you don't love jesus you'll be damned etc.", but it might not happen, hell I've been wrong before.

wizzywig
05-26-2000, 06:28 PM
chewie's hairbrush--

Ah, now I understand! http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/icons/icon12.gif

Hey, "weak atheist" is good! That means you have an opinion but you are open to new information. (I wonder--what would be the difference between a "weak atheist" and a "strong agnostic"?)

The thing that occured to me whilst chatting to wiz in the JPB thread was that I don't care whether or not the universe was created by the jewish/christian/islamic god, sneezed into existence by the great green arckle-seizure or just happended by pure chance.

C. S. Lewis once wrote something along the lines of (and I wish I had written down the quote, because I've searched for it since and can't find it, so this is not the exact wording), "If you have separated yourself from the God of the universe, how could you do anything but die? And if you have joined yourself to the God of the universe, how could you do anything but live forever?"

I'm not talking here about "pie in the sky, bye and bye when you die." I'm talking about having eternal life (which entails living a life of profound meaning) in the here and now. This is not to denigrate the life you are currently living, chewie's hairbrush. You may be enjoying yourself quite nicely and living quite morally and productively. I have no quarrel with you there.

But I look at the Anthropic evidence for God, and I see a God who is intelligent, purposeful, powerful, eternal--and above all, a God who wants to be known. This God does not hide. The evidence is profound and mind-shatteringly obvious. When Psalm 19:1 says, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands," hey, the Psalmist isn't kidding!

I see all the evidence, and I think, "Incredible! And this God also seeks an intimate connection with my life." And it's obvious that God does seek that kind of connection. What is the Anthropic evidence all about? It's about a God who deliberately and quite intentionally created a fine-tuned universe and a delicately balanced Sun-Earth-Moon system for the express purpose of bringing intelligent life into existence. Why? Because this God seeks a connection to and fellowship with lifeforms like us.

I absolutely want to align myself with the purposes of such a God. I absolutely want to be intimately and eternally connected to the Soul who created the universe. And it baffles me that anyone would simply shrug off such a God.

I won't argue with your statement, "I can live quite happily without religion." I haven't much use for "religion" (meaning religious rituals and rules) myself. But I would not see myself as living a meaningful life apart from a living, daily connection to the Cosmic Designer.

I won't lay the "If you don't love jesus you'll be damned" thing on you. In fact, I wish you well and I enjoy dialoging with you. And I wish for you what I wish for everyone--that the reality of the God of the universe would become as real to you as it is to me.

--wiz


------------------
"The more I examine the universe and the details of its architecture, the more
evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known we were coming."
--FREEMAN DYSON

<font color=gray><font size=1>



[This message has been edited by wizzywig (edited May 26, 2000).]

Chillin2
05-29-2000, 03:49 AM
I'm a Roman Catholic, but basicly because my parents were. Like CHEWIE'S HAIRBRUSH I am also a "weak atheist."

Zoom Rabbit
05-31-2000, 07:54 PM
I agree with Wiz...'weak atheists' are just fine. I think the wisest words I ever hear anyone say are 'I don't know.'

It's the people who absolutely deny that there can be a God who scare me. They are essentially saying they they are the highest beings in existance, and that would mean we were all in a lot of trouble.

Someone who simply doesn't know for sure one way or the other has taken the first step to finding the truth. It then becomes a matter of making up one's mind.

I would emphasize, though, that you don't have to go to church or choose a particular religion even to avoid being an atheist. I, myself have absolute rock solid faith in God, but don't participate in secular religious activities (aside from attending meditation groups, which are organized on the Hindu faith) because my connection with God takes place within. Now, I'm not implying that the mystic way is superior to the religious (both lead to God http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/smile.gif), just that I've often found that some people consider themselves atheists because they don't go to church, not because they don't believe in God...when actually, they are mystics. Just a clarification in terms, here...

http://www.jediknight.net/mboard/biggrin.gif

------------------
"The entire universe is simply the fractal chaos boundary between intersecting domains of high and low energy."