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The Trustworthiness of the Scriptures!
Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2005 5:40 am
CAN THE SCRIPTURES
By Craig Blomberg, Ph.D.
Denver Seminary, Denver, CO.
A Christian and a Mormon are discussing their various beliefs. The Christian thinks she has found a verse which disproves her friend's conviction that God the Father has a human body. She knows Mormons believe the Bible is the Word of God. But the Mormon replies that parts of the Scripture have not been accurately preserved and so dismisses her argument.
A Muslim and a Christian have each read each other's Scriptures. As they talk with each other about what they've read, the Muslim exclaims, "You can't always trust everything the Bible says. For example, we believe that Jesus was a great prophet, but not that he was the Son of God. That is blasphemous!"
A leading physicist, who is also an atheist, is responding to his Christian cousin's witness. "It is simply incredible that any educated person in today's modern scientific age could believe in the kind of miracles described in the Bible. You yourself admit that the resurrection of Jesus is the key to the credibility of your faith. As a scientist, I cannot accept such a story as literal fact."
The university student speaks up in a class on world religions. The uniqueness of Christianity has repeatedly been denied. "But what about Jesus' claim to be the way, the truth, and the life?" she asks. Her professor replies, "Well, you know, modern biblical scholarship has demonstrated that Jesus almost certainly never spoke those words."
Types of Objections
Each of these true stories has one obvious feature in common. Many people in our modern world do not believe that the Scriptures are reliable or trustworthy. Therefore Christians who quote the Bible in conversation to support their beliefs get nowhere. Is there evidence for the trustworthiness of Scripture? The real answer is a resounding "yes!"
Each of these four stories also illustrates one of the four major ways in which the Bible's trustworthiness can be suspect. Sometimes people doubt whether it has been faithfully copied and transmitted down through the centuries. This is the textual question. Some are prepared to accept what the Bible says happened, but not the theology that Christians derive from those events.
Others have scientific or philosophical objections to portions of the Old and New Testaments, most notably the miracles. Finally, many people believe that not everything Scripture says happened actually took place. This is the historical question. Entire books have been written on both sides of each of these four issues. One brief article can only highlight a few points with respect to each and refer the interested reader to additional bibliography.
The textual problem is most easily addressed. Scholars of textual criticism from virtually every theological position (including atheists) agree that the Scriptures have been remarkably well preserved, far more so than for any other ancient documents. Even the most cautious estimates suggest that over 90% of the Old Testament and over 97% of the New are completely beyond dispute. That is to say, modern scholarly editions of the Hebrew (and Aramaic portions of the) Old Testament and the Greek New Testament rely on sufficient manuscript evidence that we can be sure with a high level of confidence that we can reconstruct what the original writers wrote.
Of the passages in which textual variants occur, the vast majority involve minor differences in spelling or grammar which leave the meaning of the texts unaffected. Those passages in which potentially significant variations do occur are usually listed in footnotes in the better English translations and editions of the Bible, so any reader can know exactly where they appear. And it is fair to conclude that no point of Christian doctrine relies solely on disputed textual variants.
Theological questions prove more subtle. For example, solid historical evidence can be marshaled to corroborate the claim that "Jesus died." But no amount of archeology or comparative literature will ever prove the theological affirmation that "Jesus died for our sins." Whether or not one believes this claim will depend on what one thinks of the credibility of Jesus and his followers more generally.
If there are reasons to believe the historically testable claims of Scripture (see below) and the integrity of the Bible characters, then, logically, one should be inclined to accept their theology. Put another way, if there is evidence for believing that Jesus really did say most of what the Gospels claim he did, and if there is reason to believe from what he said that he was a person of high moral integrity, not easily deluded, then we ought to accept his teaching about the nature and purpose of his death (e.g. Mark 10:45).
Scientific and philosophical questions land us in yet a third, quite different kind of debate. Interestingly, in this post-Einstein, post-Heisenberg era of science, which has bequeathed to us principles of relativity and indeterminacy, many scientists are far more cautious than they used to be about pronouncing what can and what cannot happen. One Christian philosopher teaching at a major, secular California university has commented that the physicists he knows are more willing to believe in miracles than the biblical scholars (Stephen T. Davis in Gospel Perspectives, vol. 6 [Sheld: jsot, 1986], pp. 425-26)!
But of course that does not mean we believe every miraculous claim anybody ever makes. What sets the biblical miracles apart from many others is how appropriate they are for demonstrating the truth of God's revelation. Even seemingly frivolous miracles teach profound truths if we understand their contexts.
For example, Elisha making the ax-head float showed Yahweh's power over Baal, thought to be lord of the water. Christ turning water into wine was not intended primarily to promote the drinking of alcohol, but to demonstrate the new, joyous teaching of the gospel over against the old water jars (or wineskins) of Judaism.
Historical questions are the hardest to address in so short a space. I have written a whole book just on the issue of the historical reliability of the Gospels. But a few points may be noted here.
(1) Most of the historical narratives of Scripture were written down after a comparatively brief period of oral transmission, briefer than the length of time usually required to produce full-fledged legends and myths. This point, by the way, is much easier to demonstrate from the New Testament than for the Old, but a plausible case can be made even for the latter in many places.
(2) Most of these biblical stories involved the presence of eyewitnesses who were in a position to pass along accurate information to others for preservation. This sets the Scripture writers apart from various Greco-Roman historians who, like Thucydides, admitted that they often had no first-hand sources for reconstructing events they narrated.
(3) Jewish culture and educational systems focused heavily on rote memorization and produced prodigious feats of recall, for example, rabbis learning verbatim all of what we call the Old Testament and, at times much of the so-called Oral Law as well. Possibilities for accurate preservation of historical detail by mere word-of-mouth were far greater in ancient Judaism than they ever would be in our modern societies.
(4) Archeology and other ancient literature increasingly corroborates all kinds of interesting details in the Bible, even if, in fairness, we must admit that many details by their very nature can probably never be corroborated (e.g. private conversations which were never preserved in any source except Scripture).
(5) For many people, the most telling evidence against the historical reliability of the Bible is its many alleged contradictions. But plausible solutions to each of these have been suggested; the best evangelical commentaries on each of the books of Scripture will point the interested reader to those solutions.
(6) All of this has still said nothing about the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Unbelievers of course will not find an appeal to God's Spirit as a valid argument. It is in a different category from (1)-(5) above, which are arguments anyone may examine and assess. But Christians must admit that (1)-(5) cannot prove every detail of the Bible. They can suggest only that a good case can be made for its general trustworthiness. But the "step of faith" which permits us to move from general trustworthiness to believe the entire inerrancy of Scriptures is not one which flies in the face of the evidence but one which continues in the same direction the evidence has been pointing.
For Further Reading
The links below are direct links to where the book can be purchased from
Carl Armerding, The Old Testament and Criticism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983).
Craig Blomberg, Historical Reliability of the Gospels (Downers Grove: ivp, 1987).
F.F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (Downers Grove: IVP, 1960).
Kenneth Kitchen, Ancient Orient and Old Testament (Downers Grove: IVP, 1966).
The above article originally appeared in The Shield newsletter in 1992.
It was posted on this Web site March 2, 1997.
This article is found on the Darkness to Light website: http://www.dtl.org/bible/article/trusted.htm
Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2005 5:41 am
Have fun :-) !
Posted: Sat Oct 29, 2005 10:46 am
Tayi, I agree, this is fun!
[quote]For many people, the most telling evidence against the historical reliability of the Bible is its many alleged contradictions. But plausible solutions to each of these have been suggested; the best evangelical commentaries on each of the books of Scripture will point the interested reader to those solutions.[/quote]
I have some other words for those "plausible solutions" : "mind bending exercises", "mental acrobatics", gelinisms, tayisms (well, that's not fair: I have encountered some gelinisms on this forum, but I have yet to come across the tayisms, though I know that they are just around the corner)
One thought: whom are those "solutions" plausible to? 1) those who already are convinced of the inerrancy of all the books that have been selected to form the Bible, the Torah, the Kuran, The Old Testament, The New Testament, The Revelations, The Apocryphs etc, or 2) those who look at such "apparent" contradictions with a rational and critical approach. Religion is a powerful mind-bending drug, my friend.
Convinced of those "plausible solutions" will be those who are engaged in a quest to be convinced in the first place, having previously "submitted their will and intellect..." as pre-requirements for learning.
Posted: Sat Oct 29, 2005 11:31 am
Let's have more fun.
In what Book of the Bible (?) do we find these truths (?)
The Supreme Being is Trinitarian-One God in three persons:
-The Creator who is continuing to create New Realities
-(.....)The Redeemer, the Preserver, who preserves the new Creations.
Whenever eternal order, righteousness, religion, law and duty are threatened, the Redeemer travels to Earth in a human incarnation.
-The Third element of the Trinity (.....) is at times compassionate and erotic....
The entire universe is one divine entity who is simultaneously at one with the universe and who transcends it at well
Posted: Mon Oct 31, 2005 10:31 am
[quote]...One thought: whom are those "solutions" plausible to? 1) those who already are convinced of the inerrancy of all the books that have been selected to form the Bible, the Torah, the Kuran, The Old Testament, The New Testament, The Revelations, The Apocryphs etc, or 2) those who look at such "apparent" contradictions with a rational and critical approach. Religion is a powerful mind-bending drug, my friend.[/quote]
Gelinism...? I didn't know that...:-)
Take one book in the New Testament, and you are likely to find that it was written by a believer for a group of believers. And that's no small thing. The existence of God is assumed in the Bible and people start from that angle. For one example, here is how Peter's second letter starts:
<I>Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours...(2 Peter 1:1).</I>
Evidently, anything that follows won't make any sense for people who do not agree with the above statement. And that's ok, too. These letters were not written to establish/prove the existence of God, but to teach and encourage people who had already accepted God's existence and the teachings of/about Jesus as true for themselves.
Posted: Mon Oct 31, 2005 9:28 pm
Thanks for joining the fun! So it seems that you are pointing out that we approach the text with presuppositions. Absolutely. So do you! In fact, the fact that you are expecting "Tayisms" from around the corner indicates to me that nothing I say in defense of the Scriptures will be valid to you; they will be simply "Tayisms".
Hmm, that is interesting in light of what you said here:
[quote]Convinced of those "plausible solutions" will be those who are engaged in a quest to be convinced in the first place, having previously "submitted their will and intellect..." as pre-requirements for learning.[/quote]
So should I say "Unconvinced of the Christian Faith or of the Scriptures will be those who are engaged in a quest not to be convinced in the first place."
[quote]One thought: whom are those "solutions" plausible to? 1) those who already are convinced of the inerrancy of all the books that have been selected to form the Bible, the Torah, the Kuran, The Old Testament, The New Testament, The Revelations, The Apocryphs etc, or 2) those who look at such "apparent" contradictions with a rational and critical approach. Religion is a powerful mind-bending drug, my friend. [/quote]
Well Guy, this is certainly a false dychonomy if you are saying that the Christian is not rational and that only the unbeliever is rational. So a belief in the innerrancy of Scripture makes one irrational? And if you don't believe in it, then you're rational. So that makes you rational and me irrational. Well if that's what you want to call it. Oh, and that theory would not explain the thousands of converts who come to the Church after careful study and resistance. Maybe they come for the "powerful mind-bending drug". Yeah right, if I wanted to get high I would join any other religion over Christianity. In fact, I would just be a hedon; I would not adopt a drug that required me to die to myself and put God and others first.
Posted: Mon Oct 31, 2005 9:32 pm
Please be patient. I have to run now and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
Posted: Tue Nov 01, 2005 12:49 am
[quote]In fact, the fact that you are expecting "Tayisms" from around the corner indicates to me that nothing I say in defense of the Scriptures will be valid to you; they will be simply "Tayisms". [/quote]
Not necessarily! Let me tell you what I call a gelinism, which Jaf refers to as "naje pou soti" (or some other acrobatic feat) : It is an instance of someone's great creativity (in the occurence, Gelin) to reconcile extremely disparate biblical tales into a coherent whole. Not that I will be forced to accept his explanation as "true" or even "more plausible", but it's the recognition of a great deal of creativity on his part in putting together a coherent and rational explanation of apparently contradictory biblical passages.
Ever watched Peter Falk's Colombo TV series? I used to be fascinated (still am) by the great detective's uncanny intellect. It does not mean however that I believed that any of his cases would hold up in court. But other people may have a different opinion of the matter. Nevertheless, you have to give the man his due (even if it's a fictional character).
As an example of what I am talking about, look on this forum for Gelin's reconciliation of the death of Judas, as told variously in the sacred texts. Gelin's explanation was intelligent, cohesive, rational, yet it retained at least to me that certain "mind-bending" feeling. What lessons can we draw from this exercise? Possibly two: either my mind is too resistant to the inerrancy of the biblle or the bible is "not as inerrant" as they say. Regardless, I can still appreciate the technique of a masterful teacher, even if I do not fully accept the substance of his teaching.
I have the highest regard for Gelin's intellect and his "gelinisms" (said in fun). As for "tayisms", I wasn't sure exactly what to expect, but I knew I could expect something. And that's not dismissive. If you prefer however, I will refrain from having too much fun with my terminology! I forgot that you were fairly new to this forum. By the way, did you read my own version of the Genesis and my encounter with Lazarre? I swear to you, they are true "in their genre" (mostly true, anyway....I am not inerrant).
[quote]Well Guy, this is certainly a false dychonomy if you are saying that the Christian is not rational and that only the unbeliever is ational.[/quote]
Where have I said that? You are reading way more into my writings than I have actually stated... oops, I understand, that must be force of habit.
[quote]So a belief in the innerrancy of Scripture makes one irrational? And if you don't believe in it, then you're rational. So that makes you rational and me irrational.[/quote]
OH! OH! Mwen sezi...
[quote]Well if that's what you want to call it.[/quote]
Brother Tayi, I never called you "irrational" nor do I claim to be more rational than you. I was simply speaking of approaches to the selective sacred texts which were compiled over time to form a new Book, called the Bible of which there are several distinct editions, as well as others selected and compiled to form the basis of other world religions.
I was in no way assaulting you for your belief in the inerrancy of the Scriptures. I am sure that you have a great dose of rationality, and perhaps more than me. However, I hold that the belief in the inerrancy of the Scriptures is inherently not rational, it is a matter of faith. Beyond that, it is true that I have been having some fun in the way of conveying my ideas about religion, but never with the intent of insulting anyone. Antouka papa, mwen kòmanse wè ti danje nan estil mwen an. Se pa tout moun ki pran l pou sa li ye.
[quote]Oh, and that theory would not explain the thousands of converts who come to the Church after careful study and resistance. Maybe they come for the "powerful mind-bending drug".[/quote]
Adje papa, eskize m si m di twòp, men mwen stil pa kwè se larezon ki konvèti pyèsmoun atravè le tan e atravè lespas. Mwen kwè se lòt faktè (pozitif ou negatif) tèl ke: ____, ____, ____, ____, ____, ____. Mwen te pral fè yon lis wi, men mwen gen yon lakrent ki pran m la (mwen pito kite zòt "fill in the blanks" pou mwen). ;-)
Tayi frè m, mwen pa te ofri "theory", non! Mwen tou jis pa kwè ke zafè "inerrancy" sa chita sou baz "rationality" pyès. Sa pa vle di li pa valab (ou pa janm konnen!) ni sa pa vle di mwen panse mwen pi rasyonèl pase ou menm. Mwen kwè ou melanje koze yo. Si Lafwa ak Larezon pa enkonpatib, sa pa vle di nonplis ke tout bagay lafwa kab esplike pa larezon e vice versa. Ankò in fwa, "inerrancy" se pa domèn "rationality" ditou ditou, e mwen kab afime sa san atake fakilte entelektyèl pèsonn.
[quote]Yeah right, if I wanted to get high I would join any other religion over Christianity. In fact, I would just be a hedon; I would not adopt a drug that required me to die to myself and put God and others first.[/quote]
Bon, mwen gen enpresyon pawòl sa yo chaje ak prejidis anvè lòt relijyon, men se jis yon enpresyon. Ou kab petèt esplike m pi byen ki sa ou vle di ak pawòl sa yo. Nou kab dakò pou nou pa dakò, men mwen pa renmen fwote ak "religious intolerance".
Antouka, papa, mwen wè zafè "inerrancy" sa ap fè m pèdi bonè mwen. Pito mwen mete dlo nan diven m.
Posted: Tue Nov 01, 2005 4:01 pm
[quote]...As an example of what I am talking about, look on this forum for Gelin's reconciliation of the death of Judas, as told variously in the sacred texts. Gelin's explanation was intelligent, cohesive, rational, yet it retained at least to me that certain "mind-bending" feeling...[/quote]
One thing we need to remember when dealing with the bible is that the books were written thousands of years ago in a non 'westernized' culture. We need to bring a lot of elements into the equation, especially with texts difficult to understand. All I offered was another way to look at it considering the element of substitution in the religious and social life of the jewish people of that time.
Posted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 11:32 pm
My bad. I am sorry that I misunderstood your statements. I suppose maybe I could have learned some more of how folks relate to each other here if I had been on this forum longer.
Let me make some clarifications too.
When I read about the "Gelinism's" and the "Tayism's" they certainly did not "sound" like positive compliments to a masterful teacher. But glad you clarified that.
About the false dychonomy that I mentioned, pardon the exagerration. However, When I read the following statements that you said, it certainly felt as if you made an exclusive distinction between the two possibilities:
[quote]One thought: whom are those "solutions" plausible to? 1) those who already are convinced of the inerrancy of all the books that have been selected to form the Bible, the Torah, the Kuran, The Old Testament, The New Testament, The Revelations, The Apocryphs etc, or 2) those who look at such "apparent" contradictions with a rational and critical approach. Religion is a powerful mind-bending drug, my friend. [/quote]
Let me try to shrink the quote to show you why I would feel that you made the false distinction: [quote]One thought: whom are those "solutions" plausible to? 1) those who already are convinced of the inerrancy... or 2) those who look at such "apparent" contradictions with a rational and critical approach. Religion is a powerful mind-bending drug, my friend. [/quote]
Can you see how I would infer that dychonomy? I understand now that you do not mean Christians or I am irrational. But to answer your question in the quote, I would say it is both. The solutions are plausible to both because the Christian can be both a believer in innerracny and still look at the apparent contradictions with a rational and critical look. In fact, I practice that when I am doing Scripture study. When I come accross a passage that I don't understand or that seems difficult to reconcile with something else I already know to be true, I try to understand what exactly the text is saying without dismissing it just on the basis of innerancy; I really try to "enter" the text, and let it say what it seems to be saying.
I do not think, though that folks come to a belief in Scripture's innerancy simply by analyzing each verse under a microscope. I suppose one can come to the conclusion of the innerant nature of a book without faith (a math textbook for example), but wether or not that has ever been the case with the Bible I do not know. Rather, I think the path to innerancy comes from the authority of Christ (whose credibility we can argue from the New Testament Texts (viewed simply as historical books) and the authority of His Church which He established. Christ and the Church teach the inspiraiton of Scripture--notice this is not circular argument since we start with the Gospels just as historical texts--and from that, innerancy necesarily follows on the basis of God's character of being inerrant. This is not a proof, of course, but my attempt to explain the processs of arriving at innerancy; others may see it differently.
I was not trying to commit "religious intolerance" when I said "Yeah right, if I wanted to get high I would join any other religion over Christianity. In fact, I would just be a hedon; I would not adopt a drug that required me to die to myself and put God and others first." Though I could see why you would infer that. But bear with me...When you referred to religion as a "mind-bending drug", that made me associate your statement with the idea of those who claim that Christians use Christianity only as a drug to escape the world of suffering. I now believe that you don't mean that. My statement, however, was simply to emphasize the self-sacrificial nature of Christianity, not to diss other religions. In fact, as a Catholic I believe that there is some truth probably in all religions.
So, I apologize again for misinterpreting your words. I think It would be out of character for you to be insulting.
Oh, and: [quote]You are reading way more into my writings than I have actually stated... oops, I understand, that must be force of habit.[/quote]
Posted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 11:49 pm
Let's have more fun.
In what Book of the Bible (?) do we find these truths (?)
The Supreme Being is Trinitarian-One God in three persons:[/quote]
Jonas, how are you?
The Trinity is throughout the Scriptures:
1. The oneness of God is declared in numerous passages.
2. the three persons: Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are all said to participate in that one Divinity.
3. Conclusion: one God in three persons.
Of course this is a little simplistic but I think you get the idea.
[quote]-The Creator who is continuing to create New Realities
-(.....)The Redeemer, the Preserver, who preserves the new Creations.[/quote]
I am not sure what you mean. Did you get these from a book or another text? If you did could you cite it so I can check the context.
[quote]Whenever eternal order, righteousness, religion, l
aw and duty are threatened, the Redeemer travels to Earth in a human incarnation.[/quote]
Well, I can show you some passages that shows how Christ was born as a human. But it happened just once. Check the Gospels and the Kenosis in Phillipians chapter 2.
[quote]-The Third element of the Trinity (.....) is at times compassionate and erotic....[/quote]
Again, could you point me to the context?
[quote]The entire universe is one divine entity who is simultaneously at one with the universe and who transcends it at well-----[/quote]
Well the Scriptures do not teach that the universe is a divine entity nor do we Christians believe it.
I hope this helps. If you need more specifics, let me know.
Posted: Thu Nov 03, 2005 7:21 pm
These descriptions of the Trinitarian God can be found in the BHAGAVAD GITA, one of the sacred books of the Hindu religion.
The difference is that the Sage who wrote that book didn't claim that it was the word of God.
By the way, the Creator is BRAHMA.
The Redeemer is KRISH-NA.
The third Entity of the Trinity is SHIVA.
And it is important to note that this book was written at least 1500 years before the Hebrew Texts (The Old Testament) and more than 2000 years before the New Testament.
Remark the similarity between the name of the Hindu Redeemer "KRISH-NA" and the Redeemer of that religion born about 2000 years ago "CHRIST" (from the Greek Cristos).
Even if one is Christian and does not suspend all disbeliefs...
But, hell (Inappropriate word), that would have defeated the purpose, wouldn't it!
Posted: Thu Nov 03, 2005 9:56 pm
Eye opening remarks, Jonas. You are a dangerous man!
Keep on spreading the danger of anthropological and historical research on this forum, brother. My only regret is that it is so hard to get in touch with you.
I also know that Jaf wanted to interview you due to your vast knowledge of comparative religions, that you have graced this forum with from time to time. As far as I know, he was not successful.
Whatever the reason, do know that you are always appreciated on this forum and that sometimes we fear having lost you, after prolonged silences. I can only ask you to stay with us for the duration, please. We have come a long way together!
Posted: Tue Nov 08, 2005 11:07 am
[quote]...These descriptions of the Trinitarian God can be found in the BHAGAVAD GITA, one of the sacred books of the Hindu religion. <U>The difference is that the Sage who wrote that book didn't claim that it was the word of God.</U> By the way, the Creator is BRAHMA. The Redeemer is KRISH-NA. The third Entity of the Trinity is SHIVA.[/quote]
Jonas, a friend of mine who is hindu wrote the following to me after I contacted him regarding the above:
[quote]Its abstract concept, as nobody has seen anything about Brahma, Vishnu or Shiva. Krishna is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu (Lord Vishnu has 10 incarnations of which Krishna is one). BUT GITA IS WORD OF GOD. It is interpreted differently by different people. But the crux of the book is the same..As you wrote correctly..Brahma is the creator, Vishnu is the God of Prosperity and Shiva is the Destroyer (of evil). But there are many cases where on has taken the role of the other.
In Hinduism..unfortunately...there are sects that just believe that VISHNU is Dominant god of the Trinity and some Sects believe that Shiva is the stronger one. As a Priest, I have to believe equally in all the Gods...as the one of the guiding books(Rig Veda) says that "we should be open to all the Nobel thoughts from all the directions of the world" [/quote]
If my friend is right (and he is a priest), Gita is considered the word of God in hinduism, contrary to what you wrote. But that doesn't change the fact that the trinity was already an important religious concept there prior to christianity.
Trinitarian thoughts in other religions; the Church of Jesus
Posted: Wed Nov 09, 2005 9:59 pm
Sometimes I feel bad after having stayed away for so long, but I am consoled by your clemency :-)
Thank you Jonas for your insightful comments (Guy, I don't think Jonas is dangerous, rather helpful). You have corroborated my earlier point:[quote]In fact, as a Catholic I believe that there is some truth probably in all religions.[/quote]
We must also note that though there may be some similarities between these teachings there are also many differences. For example, among others, we do not believe that Jesus is incarnated "whenever there is a problem with the system"; rather, in Christianity, it happened just once. Another huge difference is that we do not believe the universe to be "one divine entity"; that would be pantheism, I believe, which has been condemned by Chris
Thank you Gelin for your insights as well from your priest friend.
Brother you've been patient, thank you!
You asked about the Church. Jesus promised he would build His Church in Matthew 16: [quote]13 When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" 14 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." 15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16 Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." 17 Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. 18 And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever yo
u loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."[/quote]
The event of Pentecost is seen as the birth of the Church, the coming out of the womb.
Which is the Church, you asked? Or more specifically, [quote]2) tell us whether Jesus, the son of Mary and Joseph (devout pratitioners of Judaism), had establihed "His Church" in Judaism, Catholicism, Seventh-day Adventistism, Baptistism, Presbitarianism or Mormonism.......? [/quote]
It is a more complex question than it seems, and I think you already have some idea of what I will answer. In the partial list you gave, all of them (besides Catholicism) had a beginning after the 18th century, which is about 1800 years after Pentecost. The Catholic Church, however does claim to be the Church Jesus established, that the bishops today go back in a direct succession line to the Apostles themselves. The question is what is the relationship between the Catholic Church and the other denominations?
Although "the Church" subsists within Catholicism, there is nonetheless a deep bond between Catholicism and the other groups. While many would accuse Catholics of not being Christian, we actually see Protestants as "separated brethen", Christians separated from the "Mother Church". We do enjoy some unity (invisibly, and paritially doctrinally, etc.) though the division is still painful and embarassing. In relation to Judaism, Christianity is viewed as its fulfillment. So we do not see Judaism as false, just incomplete. The prophecies of the Messiah (for whom Jews wait) have been fulfilled in Christ Jesus. So there is no problem with the fact that Jesus and his parents, Mary and Joseph were Jews. They were also the first Christians. The Jewish Mary, bore the long-awaited Messiah into the world.
Bouli, brother thank you for the list of Scriptures you provided in the discussion. One of the first principles in interpreting Scripture is not to dismiss it because it is hard to understand. I don't see any problem
with them, or why Paul would be[quote]one of the first ministers who laughed all the way to the bank?[/quote]
Peace dear friends!
Posted: Sat Nov 12, 2005 12:48 am
Much has been said, Jaf and I am having so much fun. Please allow me a little time to finish a response.
Posted: Thu Nov 17, 2005 3:29 am
Hello dear friends,
Now that I'm back to life here we go. (This is a long one, I apologize)
First, I thank you Jaf for your sincere concerns that you expressed in your most recent post in this discussion. From them I can feel a sense of the quest for Truth, and that is why we are all here after all eh! I am compelled then to point out these things that are not completely alligned with that Truth. There are several (historial, logical, and theological).
Let us begin with your opening, Jaf: [quote]Tayi wrote: "there is no problem with the fact that Jesus and his parents, Mary and Joseph were Jews. They were also the first Christians. "
Strange indeed that these first "Christians" were born in Judaism, lived in Judaism, died and were buried in Judaism and NEVER heard or pronounced the word "CHRISTIAN" during their whole lives. [/quote]
Brother, it is not strange at all. In fact don't for
get I said that Christianity was the fulfillment of Judaism, not its abolishment. It is only natural that she, who would be the instrument for the Incarnation, would be Jewish. She only underlines that idea of continuation more.
The Scriptures, even if you just look at them purely historically, testify to Mary and Joseph's Christian Faith amply (wether or not they used the term "Christian". Luke, the physician and evangelist, tells us that the angel Gabriel told Mary of that great Son she would carry, the Son of God (Luke 1). Even if you exclude angels from your world view, there is still the event when at the sight of (young) Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the prophet Simeon and prophetess Anna (Luke 2) rejoiced at the "salvation, redemption" that God had sent through Jesus. I bring these up to show the awareness on the part of Joseph and Mary of the unique status of their Son. They did believe in Him, the Savior. Joseph was told by the angel in his dream that "Jesus...
will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1) Indeed Joseph believed in Jesus as Savior, unlike other Jews who are not Christians. Joseph and Mary were undoubtedly Christians, in fact, I would argue, the most perfect Christians. There is absolutely no reason (or evidence) to say otherwise. None. Perhaps you don't recognize their Christian Faith because we, today do not do a good job imitating that total and intimate discipleship.
We Christians are called to realize this continuation between Judaism and Christianity. Judaism is our roots. You will see, for example, many similarities in the Catholic Mass and Jewish Liturgy. Another example (among thousands) is the chanting of the Psalms that both group do.
Next, [quote]Won't you tell us about the Council of Nicea A.D. 325 when Constantine ordered his boys to decree Jesus 100% god ?[/quote]
Well, There are many good books that can tell you more about Nicea. However I will say this: The divinity of Je
sus was believed way before Nicea and way before Constantine was even born. Here are some examples:
[quote]Ignatius of Antioch
"Ignatius, also called Theophorus, to the Church at Ephesus in Asia . . . predestined from eternity for a glory that is lasting and unchanging, united and chosen through true suffering by the will of the Father in Jesus Christ our God" (Letter to the Ephesians 1 [A.D. 110]).
"For our God, Jesus Christ, was conceived by Mary in accord with God's plan: of the seed of David, it is true, but also of the Holy Spirit" (ibid., 18:2).
"[T]o the Church beloved and enlightened after the love of Jesus Christ, our God, by the will of him that has willed everything which is" (Letter to the Romans 1 [A.D. 110]).
"[Christians] are they who, above every people of the earth, have found the truth, for they acknowledge God, the Creator and maker of all things, in the only-begotten Son
and in the Holy Spirit" (Apology 16 [A.D. 140]).
"For the Church, although dispersed throughout the whole world even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and from their disciples the faith in one God, Father Almighty, the creator of heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them; and in one Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became flesh for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who announced through the prophets the dispensations and the comings, and the birth from a Virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the bodily ascension into heaven of the beloved Christ Jesus our Lord, and his coming from heaven in the glory of the Father to reestablish all things; and the raising up again of all flesh of all humanity, in order that to Jesus Christ our Lord and God and Savior and King, in accord with the approval of the invisible Father, every knee shall bend of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth . . . "
(Against Heresies 1:10:1 [A.D. 189]).
"Nevertheless, what cannot be said of anyone else who ever lived, that he is himself in his own right God and Lord . . . may be seen by all who have attained to even a small portion of the truth" (ibid., 3:19:1).
quoted in "The Divinity of Christ" at http://www.catholic.com/library/Divinity_of_Chirst.asp
There are many more like these I can provide from the time before Constantine. So while Nicea clarified and upheld what was already held by the Church, it certainly did not "make" Jesus God; Jesus, "the Word was God" from the beginning. (John 1:1) Certainly, Constantine had an influence on the council, but it was not to the point that he made them invent some new doctrine about the "poor Jewish man".
The same goes for his human nature. It was held way before any council supposedly made it up. The Scriptures themselves abound with proofs for the divinity and the humanity of Christ. Just fo
r fun or FYI, check out a well organized and powerful debate between a Christian apologist, James White and a Muslim apologist (whose name escapes me) on wether or not the NT teaches the divinity of Jesus. It is in mp3 format (titled: #485 - Does the New Testament Teach that Jesus is God?) and can be purchsased ($3.00) here:
The Trinity can also be shown in Scripture and in the early Fathers. It is a non-sequitur (Latin: it does does not follow) to conclude that just because there are similarities between the doctrine of the Trinity and that of other older mystery religions, the former must have borrowed it from the latter. To claim that this is the only explanation would be, at the least, mistaken. The other explanation is that God worked even through these religions and gradually revealed His nature in some way to them, with the full Revelation being in Christ Jesus.
[quote]Why don't you tell us about the Council of Trent which e
stablished what was "Word of God" and the threats which accompanied these man-made decrees without which there would never have been any Christ, Christian, Catholic church, Protestants, or "on this rock I will build my Church" put in the innocent mouth of the assassinated Jewish man. [/quote]
There are a couple problems here. The canon of the Scriptures was simply ratified offcially at Trent especially in response to the Reformers who wanted to use the shorter (66 books as opposed to 73) canon, but the Scriptures were already used by the Church as inspired centuries before Trent.
Secondly, even if we do not consider the Bible to be inspired we would still have the Church and the words "on this rock I will build my Church!" Like you said, "The historical record exists and it is simple to follow." The New Testament, treated like any other historical text will outnumber any other ancient document in the number of old manuscripts to testify to its original. We can make a very convincing
case for the reliability of the New Testament books without presupposing inspiration and inerrancy.
[quote]You know Tayi, this myth of Jesus having created the Christian religion or Church is comparable to someone declaring today or later on that Jean Dominique (may his soul rest in peace!) created the GNB mouvement and the resulting madness we see unfolding in today's Haiti. [/quote]
While I can weep with you over the madness in our "patrie" (and it takes many many tears) I must say unwaveringly that Christ indeed was the founder of the Christian Church. The Trinity, the Divinity of Jesus, the Incarantion, man's need of a savior, the salvific death of Christ, the Resurection, the need for repentance, love for the poor, the coming of Christ, etc. These are all found in the teachings of Christ and have been preserved by the Church. Jesus taught the disciples and then sent them out to preach all that He taught them (Matthew 28:19-20).
That the teachings of J
esus are preserved today is certain. What is also certain though, is how poorly we carry out His commands , summed up in love of God and love of neighbor. There, we all fall short, believer like unbeliever (and a Mother Teresa puts us all to shame). Thus we see the need for continual repentance and dependence on God. No one can boast of his greater holiness; we are all sinners in need of His mercy.
[quote]Yet, it is that same Roman Empire that built a Church deemed "holy" and "universal" (ak fos ponyèt li!) in the name of Jesus in order to prolong its rein over Judea and beyond.[/quote]
Please, Jaf share with us in what year the Roman empire built that Church. Keep in mind that the Christian religion went through great unspeakable persecution in its beginnings.
Again, Jaf I am thankful of your contributions here which make us all think and examine what we believe. I hope I also shed some light.
May the Peace of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be up
on us all!
Posted: Mon Nov 21, 2005 12:26 pm
Bouli, sa k pase zanmi:
[quote]Eskize-m pou reta sa-a. Janm neg te mele, m'pa te vle vin antòtiye plis nan web lan.[/quote]
Monchè ou pa bezwen di m. Mwen menm tou, anpil fwa se jous lè poul fin moute bwa mwen jwenn yon ti tan pou mwen ekri ti kichòy. Annou Kenbe fèm!
Bouli, could you help me understand how you came to the conclusion of (what evidence you used for) the following statements that you wrote; I'm just trying to see where you're coming from:
1. "[Paul] was always on the side of the mullahs of Rome." (Nekita, maybe you could jump in here too since you seemed to agree with that statement)
2. "There were no alternatives at the time. If they didn't follow his order they were going to be wiped out with their villages."
Take your time, Bouli; I know how busy things can get. By the way, I'll be in Boston for the Thanksgiving Break maybe I and some of you there (Boul
i and/or others) can get together for cofee? If anyone is interested you can just let me know and we can exchange information thru the Private Message (PM).
Also, Nekita thanks for the invitation to the WOH Reunion; I actually did not realize it was going on. I'm going to try to make it (hopefully I can find an affordable ticket). I searched thru the forum and noticed there was a form to fill out. Is it too late?
Posted: Fri Nov 25, 2005 11:29 am
Let's take a closer look at the voyemonte about Paul...
[quote]...Paul said he was jailed at Ephesus, Caesarea, Rome, Jerusalem; he always found himself in cities where Roman guards were stationed.[/quote]
The Roman Empire extended its wings all over the middle east and asia. Even Jesus was killed by roman soldiers. Therefore, to mention the presence of roman guards in many different cities is not necessarity false historically. You can hardly find a place on earth now where there is not a us military base.
[quote]...Yet he claimed, he was persecuted by Romans...[/quote]
Hardly...Paul was mostly persecuted by fundamentalist jews who wanted to suppress the new doctrine based of the teachings of Jesus.
[quote]Paul was a prisoner who traveled all corners of the Roman Empire when most civilians would travel a couple hundred miles their entire life...[/quote]
Reconsider this. Paul was a traveler because he was moving from place to place to preach and teach (to persecute in the past). You cannot safely compare his traveling with that of a common civilian. If fact, Jesus himself did not travel outside palestine but he commanded those who believed in him to take his message to the entire world, warning them that as they do that some will believe while others won't.
[quote]When Paul found himself cornered for good he pull his dual citizenship card.[/quote]
What's wrong with that?
[quote]After taking so many lives, Paul never apologized for his long criminal records.[/quote]
One place where he mentioned his violent past:
<I>I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. <u>Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man</u>, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. T
he grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. (1 Tim 1:12-14).</I>
[quote]He rather posed <u>as an innocent</u> who failed victim of Jesus who dumped Christianity upon his back.[/quote]
I don't find that in his writings...
Should we dig deeper...?
Posted: Sat Nov 26, 2005 10:23 am
[quote]...Nothing was wrong with Paul pulling his dual citizen card. In fact Agrippa (grand son of Herod) was amused by Paul's conversion story. Agrippa had a blast telling Paul you almost converted me to Christianity by an iota. Paul figured that joke had cost him too many days in jail he pulled his Roman's citizenship card and requested to see Ceasar. Grandson of a de facto puppet, Agrippa didn't want to risk his career for fun. He bit on Paul's bluff and <U>released him for being an innocent man.</U>[/quote]
Another voyemonte from Bouli....Paul was not released for being an inocent man but sent to Rome as a prisoner:
<I>Agrippa said to Festus, "This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar." Acts 26:32.</I>
<I>When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imper
ial Regiment. Acts 27:1.</I>
Let's try to be historically accurate first, and then we can disagree on the interpretation of the available records. Sebon Bouliiiiii..:-)
Posted: Mon Nov 28, 2005 1:40 pm
[quote]...If the actor didn't make it we wouldn't know Christianity as we know it today.[/quote]
Could you say more on this? The message of Jesus-Christ was well established before Paul got involved, and you know that.
[quote]Put it in today's context, do you believe American soldiers would release their own citizen in the hand of Iraqis to be executed?[/quote]
Paul was a roman citizen, and a prisoner under the care of roman soldiers. I don't quite see the connection.
[quote]What do we do with our churches that deliver Paul when they promise us Jesus?[/quote]
I do not preach Paul and don't know anybody who does. Do you any church that preaches Paul in place of Jesus? Just leave it...:-)
[quote]Even someone with excess of faith should remember that Paul rejected the Law he claimed outdated…he argued something else before Agrippa: “
Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me. But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets. (Act 24:13,14)[/quote]
Paul believed, as did the other disciples who were with Jesus, that the law was fulfilled in Jesus-Christ. In that sense, outdated could be replaced by fulfilled, and one could still believe in the law (outdate, fulfilled) and no longer practice it as Moses and the prophets did. I could say more on that...
[quote]After Jacques' death, and the failed revolt of Jerusalem Paul's hands were free to rewrite the scripture.[/quote]
Another boulispin, or bouliism, I shoud say...:-)
[quote]All power is from God “Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” ( RomXIII:2
Jesus himself obeyed the civil/religious/military authorities of his days. We can check it out together. All believers are encouraged to obey the law of their land except when that law requires them to do evil or forbids them to believe in God. At that point, they normally make a big choice as Peter and John did: <I>But Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. (Acts 4:19).</I> Interestingly, those Paul had mistreated before made that choice, and later on Paul himself made the same choice until he was beaten several times, and ultimately killed.
Let's keep digging....
Re: From Damacus to Tabarre !
Posted: Mon Nov 28, 2005 1:42 pm
[quote]...When you look at Paul's story, which bears a eery ressemblance with that of Constantine a few centuries later, it is as if in the upcoming elections Emmanuel Toto Constant was now running under the Fanmi Lavalas ticket.[/quote]
Paul and Constantine? Jaf, give us 4 or 5 points of similarity between these two guys.
Posted: Tue Nov 29, 2005 3:00 pm
Thanks for the links....I'll do digging.
[quote]...That council gave birth to maybe the first Roadmap for peace. That prophecy had affected even the disciples who became confused about Jesus' mission. Was he the one? They went to Jean-Batiste asking him again if he was the one… “mwenmenm papa!…”[/quote]
Now, Bouli my friend, please tell me where you read this information. Are you sure it was the disciples of Jesus who went to John the Baptist? Let's see:
[quote] After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee. <U>When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"</U>
Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cure
d, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me." (Mat 11:1-6).[/quote]
[quote]“In that sense, outdated could be replaced by fulfilled, and one could still believe in the law (outdate, fulfilled) and no longer practice it as Moses and the prophets did. I could say more on that...”(Gelin)
You are welcome to say more on that one. Would you practice it on a Christian police when your plate or license is fulfilled? Let him know the law is outdated. Would you make sure he doesn't turn the law, the stick and table on you?[/quote]
We are talking about the law as part of a religious system, not civil or military law. That's the difference, in my view. That's also why when you read the book of Matthew, for example, one phrase you will see very often is "...So was fulfilled...". And it is reported that Jesus himself said the following:
think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (Mat 5:17).</I>
Sometimes we agree, sometimes we don't and that's ok, too...:-)
Posted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 4:43 pm
Bouli, you know my answer already: yes.
Posted: Fri Dec 09, 2005 9:39 am
[quote]...So you agree that a group of priests plotted to kill Jesus so the Romans wouldn't kill as many of them and destroy their city.[/quote]
That was one of their own reasons for doing it. The other one was jaleousy/anger against him. He was exposing their religious hypocrisy, and people began to leave them and follow him. Jesus died for MORE THAN ONE REASON.
Posted: Mon Dec 12, 2005 10:47 am
[quote]...Do you also share the idea that Jesus' dad had sent him in a mission to die...or is that one of the secondary reasons why he was killed?[/quote]
If we draw from the bible, we'll find that Jesus was born to die. He knew it way before it happened and prepared his disciples for that fateful day. Examples:
John the baptist called him the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (see John 1:29). Everyone who heard that statement knew what it meant because lambs were routinely killed and offered to God in sacrifice as an important part of Judaism. As the animals were being killed because of sin, the idea was that Jesus was going to be killed also because of sin. If you remember well, the curtain in the temple was torn from top to bottom at the moment of Jesus' death on calvary...
Jesus told his disciples and others that what happened to the prophet Jonah will happen to him also, except
that it won't be inside a big fish:
[quote]Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, "Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you." He answered, "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Mat 12:38-40).[/quote]
Jesus died for many reasons, one of them being that after his death it will become possible for every believer to become a temple for the Spirit of God and to receive that Spirit. That's the way it was worked out in the early groups of believers (early church, if you will).
Posted: Mon Dec 12, 2005 2:23 pm
[quote]For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Mat 12:38-40)[/quote]
Gelin, I don't understand! If Jesus died Friday evening and was already up and about (and gone) Sunday at the earliest hours of the morning [and we can't even know whether "li pat fè pakèt li ale depi vandredi swa ou samdi swa"] then, at the most, he spent 2 nights (Friday and Saturday) "in the heart of the earth". As for full days, it would be only one at the most: Saturday. So to me, that's one day and two nights, where does the third night come in? Or was Jesus's math a little off?
I think that Jonah had a raw deal, especially since he had to stay awake in the belly of the beast. Mwen pa kab imajine odè vant pwason sa!
Posted: Mon Dec 12, 2005 2:44 pm
[quote]...Gelin, I don't understand! If Jesus died <U>Friday evening</U> and was already up and about (and gone) Sunday at the earliest hours of the morning [and we can't even know whether "li pat fè pakèt li ale depi vandredi swa ou samdi swa"] then, at the most, he spent 2 nights (Friday and Saturday) "in the heart of the earth". As for full days, it would be only one at the most: Saturday. So to me, that's one day and two nights, where does the third night come in? Or was Jesus's math a little off?[/quote]
The book does say that he died on Friday evening. It's been a tradition and people take it without a closer/deeper look.
[quote]I think that Jonah had a raw deal, especially since he had to stay awake in the belly of the beast. Mwen pa kab imajine odè vant pwason sa![/quote]
Another one: The book does not say that Jonah was awake for the whole period. Apparently he was conscious at some point, probably in the beginning of his experience.