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PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2011 7:39 pm 
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JewelSong wrote:
Thanks, Lali, I may check that out. That same program also apparently did a documentary called the "Tomb of Christ."


They did. I think this summed up their conclusion:

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The position is best put by the Israeli scholar Dan Bahat, former City Archaeologist of Jerusalem:

"We may not be absolutely certain that the site of the Holy Sepulchre Church is the site of Jesus burial, but we certainly have no other site that can lay a claim nearly as weighty, and we really have no reason to reject the authenticity of the site."


From here


I really recommend the entire series, actually. The one on the Black Plague was especially fascinating.


As to your question on what would make me lose my faith?

I'm not sure anything would, though things have definitely dented it or made it painful or difficult at times. I no longer have that innocent, naive faith I had when I was younger.

But, anyway, in my case, it's not all about empirical evidence, though I appreciate that when it exists. (The very nature of faith precludes it from being solely about empirical evidence anyway. It does not, however, mean that one's faith can't have, in part, a basis in reason and fact.) I also have to take into account my own personal experiences. I have the evidence of Christ's work in me, which, of course, would be subjective in nature. I also have experienced supernatural occurrences that have contributed to my faith. Those are mine and pretty much unprovable (unless you'd been with me), but important to my faith nonetheless.


ETA: Fixed some typos

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2011 8:35 pm 
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Jewelsong wrote:
It's odd (to me) because "faith" means that you believe something without proof and yet, many folks cling to these items as strongly as they cling to their faith.
I would agree that religion is a matter of faith. Even if an 'ark-like' boat were found, how could it be proved that it was Noah's ark or that it was filled with 2 (or 4) of every beast in the land? Even if the Shroud is from 1st century Judea, how could we know it is of a particular person.. and should these things matter to people of faith? People find Jesus on toast.. is it a likeness of Jesus (no portraits exist that I am aware of) or what people wish to believe? Even if such things are 'real' they are not 'proof'.

All religions are matters of faith. There have been dozens, if not hundreds of faiths claiming virgin or otherwise miraculous births, resurrections, even other religions that claim(ed) to nourish/feed the people with the body of the god who has passed to other realms (including religions other than Christianity). The people who practiced all of those religions believe(d) in their particular faith just a fervently as people have throughout the ages, including people of today. Throughout human history, various peoples believed that their faith was the 'one, true' faith.. wars have been fought because of them.. peoples destroyed because of it, lands and property claimed on its behalf.

And so it goes.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2011 8:56 pm 
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Hmmm what would make me lose my faith in God? I cannot even fathom a state such as that. Any proof that does not involve a time machine won't touch it. But even then... Jesus rebukes his own disciples more than a few times for not believing what they were seeing with their own eyes.

As a writer of most of the NT Paul spent much of his early adulthood hunting and persecuting Christians. He was as anti-Christian as you could get until his experience on the Damascus road. Clearly something happened there that caused him to change his mind completely. One might wonder if he did it for personal gain, but he went on to suffer in prison for his conversion, which would rule out that possibility.

Hearing the still, small voice of God is not something I've experienced in my head. Usually, when I can hear it at all, it seems as if it is coming from somewhere just below the base of my neck behind the breast bone in a vague area deep inside. It's hard to pinpoint but generally in the region of the heart.

Plenty has shaken my faith but I've learned when that happens that it is like spiritual exercise that makes my faith stronger. My faith in humans? I'd lost that long ago, though many people over the years have proved to be exceptions to the rule.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2011 9:04 pm 
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SirDennis wrote:
My faith in humans? I'd lost that long ago, though many people over the years have proved to be exceptions to the rule.


Faith in humans? As in . . . what? :scratch: What kind of faith are you talking about?

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2011 9:07 pm 
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nerdanel wrote:
JewelSong wrote:
(I could turn this around and ask current non-believers what discovery might cause them to change, but I'd like to get these answers first.)


For me, this is straightforward: I would want proof of the religion-in-question's claims that is rationally perceptible and measurable. For instance, with respect to the claim of the Christian resurrection, I would have been satisfied with the proof that is said to have satisfied Thomas (if I had known Jesus, was able to recognize and touch the resurrected person as the one I had known prior to death, etc.) More generally, with respect to claims about God as a being who exists separate from human beings, I would want God to communicate with me in rationally perceptible ways - i.e., not as a "voice in my head" (which I believe is my own conscience), but as a separate, detached being whom I can perceive and interact with - and whom other humans can perceive and interact with in the same way - so, not an apparition only perceptible by me.

I do not think that there is anything that could be said by a human being - or in any book written by human beings - that would persuade me that supernatural being(s) exist or that there is a supernatural component to our current or future existence (like a life after death (heaven/hell), reincarnation, etc).


nerdanel says what I would say except for one thing: I don't care. The existence or non-existence of a creator/deity is meaningless to me.

It's fun and interesting to discuss it on a messageboard, but that's about it, for me. It has nothing whatsoever to do with my real life.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2011 10:26 pm 
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vison wrote:
SirDennis wrote:
My faith in humans? I'd lost that long ago, though many people over the years have proved to be exceptions to the rule.


Faith in humans? As in . . . what? :scratch: What kind of faith are you talking about?

I guess that is a little broad (okay not a little, a lot).

Let's just say I have my doubts that humans in and of ourselves (ie without outside intervention) will ever truly understand the great mysteries of our existence. I do not believe we are equipped to do so.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2011 11:43 pm 
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JewelSong wrote:
And I feel very strongly that the specifics really do not matter. At least, they don't matter to me. It doesn't matter to me whether or not Mary was a virgin, or Joseph was the actual father. I don't care if the Shroud of Túrin is a fake or if people believe that a wafer and a bit of wine actually turn into flesh and blood. I don't really care if the resurrection was physical or metaphorical.

What matters to me is the message. The basic, simple message. Do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God. Love God. Love your neighbor. God IS Love.


I suppose my particular issue with this is that it isn’t the impression of Jesus’ message that I got from reading the New Testament. He does encourage people to love their neighbours, but the parable of the Good Samaritan seems to imply that not everyone is your neighbour.

More importantly, I can’t reconcile the idea that Jesus’ message is love with a number of key passages, like Matthew 10, where he actually gives directions to the disciples (and presumably, to all Christians):

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[5]These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.

And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.

Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.

But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.

[…]

[28]And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.


(from the KJV)

This, I think, is why the conservative churches have always made more sense to me than the liberal ones, because their exegesis seems more sound. Jesus message isn’t all that nice or easy. He creates a start contrast between submission to the will of God and obedience to his laws on one hand and the destruction of the soul in hell on the other.

This is also, I think, why the divinity of Jesus makes a huge difference to me (and on the other side of spectrum, to mainstream and conservative Christians). If Jesus is not divine, then he speaks with no real authority on these matters. To express my own beliefs perfectly honestly, I don’t see any reason to believe that Jesus is divine and, to me, his preaching comes across as the ranting of a crackpot. Aside from a few sensible oft-quoted phrases, I see it has having little value unless his claims about the end of the world and heaven and hell happen to be true. Obviously if I believed that, then I would accept them no matter how inconvenient (just as I accept things that I don’t like if they can proved to me).


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 12:13 am 
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Yes, Lord_M. :D

SirDennis wrote:
Let's just say I have my doubts that humans in and of ourselves (ie without outside intervention) will ever truly understand the great mysteries of our existence. I do not believe we are equipped to do so.


I don't follow this at all. Not one step!

Surely the existence of a deity is one of the "great mysteries of our existence"? And yet, it would seem that you accept it quite readily.

The mysteries of which you speak are not, I assume, the actual mysteries of the physical universe. The speed of light, etc., and other such questions, that can be calculated and/or explained.

Perhaps you mean "what is the meaning of life"?

And my answer to that is, whatever you want it to be. To you, it may be that the meaning of life is to worship a creator.

To me, life is its own meaning. The meaning is what I make it to be.

This does not "trouble" me. I do not feel sad or worried about it, I do not feel that I am "missing" something, or that there is some great mystery beyond my comprehension.

Such a mystery would, by its very nature, indeed be beyond my concern.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 12:34 am 
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Lord_M wrote:
but the parable of the Good Samaritan seems to imply that not everyone is your neighbour.


Really? I think it is just the opposite - that everyone is (or should be) your neighbor. The Samaritans were a much despised group; most Jews considered themselves "above" them. Jesus choose the Samaritan to be the "neighbor" (the one who helped the man set upon by robbers) to illustrate that we are ALL "neighbors" in the most basic sense.

I don't have time to get into the passage from Matthew right now...perhaps someone else (with a bit more theological background than I) will take it up!

vison wrote:
I do not feel... that there is some great mystery beyond my comprehension. Such a mystery would, by its very nature, indeed be beyond my concern.


Indeed. That is sort of the point of the song I posted upthread - "Let the Mystery Be." We can discuss/argue/ponder/analyze the mysteries of our existence and the possibility of a Divine presence until the proverbial cows come home. But my feeling/belief is that it matters not a whit. How we live and, more, how we love, is what will measure us in the end - and how we are remembered.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 12:53 am 
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JewelSong wrote:
Lord_M wrote:
but the parable of the Good Samaritan seems to imply that not everyone is your neighbour.


Really? I think it is just the opposite - that everyone is (or should be) your neighbor. The Samaritans were a much despised group; most Jews considered themselves "above" them. Jesus choose the Samaritan to be the "neighbor" (the one who helped the man set upon by robbers) to illustrate that we are ALL "neighbors" in the most basic sense.


I don't see where LM got his interpretation, either.

The Good Samaritan parable is probably one of the most deliberately misinterpreted in all Bible. It's referred to as if the point was that we should help people in need. Well, yes, but really it's the teaching for deed over creed.

The story begins with:

Quote:
And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

26He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?

27And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

28And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.


As an illustration, Jesus sets up as the example the Samaritan, a heathen, who helped the wounded man qualifies, in contrast to the kohen and the Levite who passed him by. While their faith was "correct", their actions were not.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 1:49 am 
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Luke 11:36-37, KJV:

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So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”
And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”


IOW, all three men were not the man's neighbour, only the one who helped him.

As an aside, the lawyer's question also appears in Mark (12:28-34) and Matthew (22:24-40), and Jesus gives a slightly different answer in those two books which omits the parable. I read that some scholars have interpreted that to mean that either Luke made up the parable himself or moved it from a different context in one of Jesus' speeches.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 2:18 am 
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SirDennis wrote:
Plenty has shaken my faith but I've learned when that happens that it is like spiritual exercise that makes my faith stronger. My faith in humans? I'd lost that long ago, though many people over the years have proved to be exceptions to the rule.


Whereas I am, in essence just the opposite. As someone who never has been (and never will be) a believer in any religious dogma, be it Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Jainist, Taoist, Zarathrustrian, Wiccan, Atheist, or whatever, I developed an absolute abiding faith in the existence of God/Jah/Yahweh/Allah/Ilúvatar/Eru/The One/The Infinite/Whatever you want to call Her/Him/It, because I see It/Him/Her reflected in other human beings every day. The glance from a loved one's eye, a song that moves the heart, a note of concern from a person who I've never met in person or spoken to on the phone, but still cares about me because our souls connected through the wonderful wacky world wide web, a smile from a stranger at the post office during the busy holiday season. All of these things are for me absolute proof that He/She/It exists. God is love. All the rest of it is just icing on the cake.

Edit to add: I would also add the sound of a running river, the sight of towering redwoods, the smell of roses, and the feel of a warm cat in my lap.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 2:39 am 
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Lord_Morningstar wrote:
Luke 11:36-37, KJV:

Quote:
So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”
And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”


IOW, all three men were not the man's neighbour, only the one who helped him.


Well, yes, that's the point, innit? The Samaritan was the one to fulfill the commandment to love the neighbor, even though he did not fit a narrow definition of the neighbor as another Jew.

Incidentally, "the lawyer" testing a Jewish teacher is a very common theme in the stories of the time. Jesus is described as unusually patient here. Shammai, the nerdy rabbi (an engineer) was said to have chased a particularly obtuse questioner with his builder's ruler, while Hillel who was renowned for his gentle temper was said to have cost a challenger a large sum because the man bet another that he could make Hillel lose his temper.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 3:26 am 
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I agree with a lot of what Voronwë had to say except I don't agree with his conclusion.

Goodness and loving kindness are human nature. They are far, far more human nature than the ugliness of wickedness and hate - those things are the aberrations, not the rule.

I think Love is Love, not god.

But the end result is the same, isn't it?

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 3:45 am 
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Yes, I think so. "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." That is true, whether or not there is a He, or an it, that is doing the giving.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 9:53 am 
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Any thoughts on the other part of my post?

Alatar wrote:
Heard an interesting interview in the car yesterday with a Fr Jack Mahoney about his book "Christianity in Evolution". His approach is to attempt to use science to inform the bible, rather than to treat them as opposing forces. Nothing new there, I suppose, but his conclusions were interesting. I'll try to summarise.

Basically, Fr Jack (sorry Fr Ted fans for the mental image) suggests that if we accept Genesis as a parable, then we need to rethink not just that aspect of our faith but all the knock on effects also. If Adam and Eve were a parable, then we have to drop the notion of Original Sin. Which of course raises questions about the Immaculate Conception, the need for Baptism, and ultimately, if not for our sins, what did Christ die for?


A quick google turned up this lecture he gave on the subject:

http://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-e ... xploration

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 2:44 pm 
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Sir V wrote:
All of these things are for me absolute proof that He/She/It exists. God is love.


:love:


We love because He first loved us. -1 John 4:19

(So sorry, wasn't going to do the scripture quote thing, but 1 John is one of my favorite books in the Bible. This scripture is engraved on my and mr. anth's wedding rings.)




BTW, I would like to personally thank Frelga for all her input into this thread; I learn SO MUCH from you, friend.

:love:

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Voronwë the Faithful wrote:
SirDennis wrote:
Plenty has shaken my faith but I've learned when that happens that it is like spiritual exercise that makes my faith stronger. My faith in humans? I'd lost that long ago, though many people over the years have proved to be exceptions to the rule.


Whereas I am, in essence just the opposite. As someone who never has been (and never will be) a believer in any religious dogma, be it Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Jainist, Taoist, Zarathrustrian, Wiccan, Atheist, or whatever, I developed an absolute abiding faith in the existence of God/Jah/Yahweh/Allah/Ilúvatar/Eru/The One/The Infinite/Whatever you want to call Her/Him/It, because I see It/Him/Her reflected in other human beings every day. The glance from a loved one's eye, a song that moves the heart, a note of concern from a person who I've never met in person or spoken to on the phone, but still cares about me because our souls connected through the wonderful wacky world wide web, a smile from a stranger at the post office during the busy holiday season. All of these things are for me absolute proof that He/She/It exists. God is love. All the rest of it is just icing on the cake.

Edit to add: I would also add the sound of a running river, the sight of towering redwoods, the smell of roses, and the feel of a warm cat in my lap.


How beautiful. I too have seen God in others. And I'm with you on dogma especially as it strays from what is written. We approach Tolkien this way... it is a useful approach to The Bible as well.

Speaking of what is written, that is a tough chapter Lord M. You might try the commentaries found at http://www.preceptaustin.org/ My sense is the parts like: "I have not come to bring peace..." and "anyone who loves his father..." etc have received a great deal of scrutiny. There is a message there, and it is consistent with what else he says but I am unable explain it just now.

On the plus side the bit about shaking the dust off your sandals and moving on is the verse I was thinking of when I said I don't remember the part where we are called to beat each other over the head with this stuff. We are called to present it and let it be. If you are rejected, simply move on.

Yes Frelga, that is my sense of the story as well. Now that you mention it the message of deed over creed does appear more than a few times in the Bible. Just from the NT fpr example we have the times Jesus healed someone and picked grain to feed someone on the Sabbath. I think all such stories are at the root of the passage from Mathew 7 that Sunsilver shared sometime ago: "But Lord we cast out demons etc... Depart from me I do not know you."

Finally, just a note to Vision. I'm glad you stuck it out through this and the other discussion. Sorry about my sometimes sweeping statements.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 3:16 pm 
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Alatar wrote:
Any thoughts on the other part of my post?

Alatar wrote:
Heard an interesting interview in the car yesterday with a Fr Jack Mahoney about his book "Christianity in Evolution". His approach is to attempt to use science to inform the bible, rather than to treat them as opposing forces. Nothing new there, I suppose, but his conclusions were interesting. I'll try to summarise.

Basically, Fr Jack (sorry Fr Ted fans for the mental image) suggests that if we accept Genesis as a parable, then we need to rethink not just that aspect of our faith but all the knock on effects also. If Adam and Eve were a parable, then we have to drop the notion of Original Sin. Which of course raises questions about the Immaculate Conception, the need for Baptism, and ultimately, if not for our sins, what did Christ die for?


A quick google turned up this lecture he gave on the subject:

http://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-e ... xploration



I'll give a short answer, fwiw, but I don't have time to read or listen to anything right now.

This point right here is why Answers in Genesis (and other YEC groups) exist. If you do away with the literal interpretation of Genesis, then the rest of the Bible comes into question. To groups like this, it's foundational to their entire faith.

Obviously, they have a point. Your guy views it as a positive move forward. ?? (I'm guessing.) They view it as an eroding of orthodoxy and undermining of faith.

I think it's possible to view Genesis as more of a parable without destroying the foundations of points of doctrine in the rest of the Bible. For one thing, literal belief in Genesis isn't a doctrinal point. Believing God is the Creator of everything is. However, I do see how not believing it makes things trickier and definitely open to this type of erosion (or evolution, if you prefer) of doctrine.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 3:52 pm 
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From Alatar's link:

Quote:
So far as concerns objections to my dispensing with viewing the death of Jesus on Calvary as a propitiatory sacrifice offered to God to redeem humanity, I hope it is clear that I still maintain that in God’s evolutionary providence Jesus died on Calvary out of love to save humanity. His purpose was not to save us from original sin however, and placate God, for which there was no need, but to save humanity from individual death and meaningless, by conquering death and in his resurrection leading his fellow-humans to a new phase of evolutionary existence with a loving God


Wow. I'll have more thoughts, later, but I thought this was very interesting.

_________________
"What do you fear, lady?" Aragorn asked.
"A cage," Éowyn said. "To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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