Do you believe that you are being judged by God?

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Postby Bessy » Fri Oct 06, 2006 7:41 pm

Justly

I reap what I sow.


*large choir singing here*

Hallelujah,HallelujahHallelujahHallelujahHallelujahHallelujahHallelujahHallelujah Halleeeeeluuuuujaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!
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Postby Ned Flanders » Fri Oct 06, 2006 7:50 pm

Bessy wrote:Let me bring it down to a really basic question that you might have a hard time answering.

Ucci and Ned,

What about a person who has never read a book, lived a reclusive lifestyle and never had the opportunity to be saved? Is this person automatically sent to hell?


Everyone has opportunity to be saved since the truth about God is evident in nature. But if any given individual is not following Christ I believe they will certainly go to hell. There is no other way, and it's no more than we deserve.
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Postby Bessy » Fri Oct 06, 2006 8:01 pm

Guess I'm going out to shop for my red dress tonight. :cry:
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Postby Uccisore » Fri Oct 06, 2006 8:06 pm

Bessy
What about a person who has never read a book, lived a reclusive lifestyle and never had the opportunity to be saved? Is this person automatically sent to hell?

Hmmm. Do you see where I am going here?


I think I do, yes. First, let me point out that nobody here on ILP is in that position. So it must remain in the abstract for us. But let me answer your question with a question:
What about a person who was raised to be a racist, a cannibal, or a killer? A person who lead a reclusive lifestyle and never learned to be anything like what we would call a 'good person'? If the standard of acceptance by God was whether or not you were a good person, Christianity would be obilgated to define what a good person was. No doubt, some aspects of that would be controversial- and someone could ask "What about people who have never had a chance to hear the controversial Christian message of what makes a good person?" and we'd be right back where we are now, right?


Good and bad is relative, but if Mother Theresa ( give her a 10) is good and Charlie Manson (give him a 1) is bad... where is the line crossed? Aren't you a little concerned that there is a line at all? A forgiving god would probably forgive Charlie completely and invite Squeeky for cocktails on a cloud. I'm sorry, but I just don't see it. I want to see it, but I don't.


No, I don't either. Have you ever played a game in school as a child where the winner gets a candy bar, and then like five minutes later, everybody else gets a candy bar too? Why would God even have goodness and badness if that was the eventual outcome? What I'm more concerned with is not the 10's and 1's, but the 4.9's and the 5.1's- that's where most of us are, and nothing you do with them is going to feel totally fair.
But what you're saying is exactly the kind of problem I'm talking about- shifting the standard from "Acceptance of Jesus" to "Are you basically a good person" doesn't help us. In fact, I would argue that it makes it worse.
Consider this: Members of the KKK, and abortion doctors. At various times in this nations history, those groups have people have been variously praised and hated. Who knows how they will be seen in the future?
Now, is it the fault of a KKK member that he did what he thought was right in his times- was probably praised and supported for his actions by his peers- and the fullness of history has revealed his acts to be evil? Is it the fault of an abortion doctor that he provided a service to a society that wanted that service- was probably seen as a hero by some- and years from now, abortion may be seen as an atrocity by all? But even if the goodness and badness of these people is up in the air, they could always call themselves "Good Christians". A part of being a good Christian is always striving to be a good person, don't get me wrong- but a part of it, a key part, transcends morality, for our conception of morality is always shifting.

Doggone, I don't have the Bible verses to back me up here, but the Bible has just about anything in it, and one can twist it and turn it the way they like. (No disrespect intended here) but it is kind of true, don't you think?


Sure. Would you agree that the U.S. Constitution is much the same in that respect? By the way, you can get access to the Bible here:

http://www.blueletterbible.com


I am convinced that Jesus likes me, but it doesn't matter. I think I am tangling with the wrong ILP twosome on this one... eeek


I don't intend to be confronting you on a personal level with anything I'm saying here. How Jesus feels about you, and how you feel about Him, is between the two of you.
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Postby tentative » Fri Oct 06, 2006 8:19 pm

Hi Ucc,

I like your explanation of divorcing "morality" from judgement. What is moral is whatever judgement is in place at a given time and a given location. I think that Bessy was saying that as well. It truly is intent, that we must look to. Do we always have "good" intent? One would hope so, but there is no guarantee for any of us. Well, maybe all of you, MY intent is always good... :roll: :wink:
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Postby Bessy » Fri Oct 06, 2006 8:23 pm

Good, then maybe I don't need the red dress after all.

Ucci,

Can your belief in Jesus be just heartfelt and not Bible thumping or church going? Is there a standard to this that is written in the Bible that puts you over into the 5.2 area as opposed to the 4.8?

I have an unrelated question that I want you to answer if you would. Does it bother you that so many of the evangelists on TV etc have made almost a mockery of the Christian religion? All you have to do is watch the church lady on SNL to get my drift. I studied Christianity as a kid... studied Judaism as a young adult and even went through RCIA in the Catholic church to get a grasp on all this. I am now into making my way through some Eastern philosophy referring to myself as a "Cashew with Karma"... (oy vey) so I feel that I seek the truth within myself and... I know that Jesus accepts me, as he accepts all. Those are my beliefs.

Getting back to my question. Doesn't it drive you mad? Some of these guys on TV screaming "Yeee-as" as they throw some poor soul onto the floor being saved can't be taken seriously. Right? Or are you impressed by it?

What do you think, Ned?
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Postby Uccisore » Fri Oct 06, 2006 8:26 pm

tentative
I think that Bessy was saying that as well. It truly is intent, that we must look to. Do we always have "good" intent? One would hope so, but there is no guarantee for any of us. Well, maybe all of you, MY intent is always good...


I believe there is a real and true Right and Wrong, and I believe it can be found in the Bible. But I also believe that the influence of culture is strong enough that we can't expect any one man to comprehend the whole of it in his lifetime, and that we're all basically dogs compared to the standards truly expressed there- even in our intentions.
It's very hard to accept the notion of progressive, Christian grace. It's easy to say that morality is relative, and God is understanding- it feels like a liscence to get away with something. But it also means that a person who does "good" things but has a wicked heart is screwed, and that a KKK member back in the day deciding to let a black person go with just a beating instead of a hanging can be an expression of a deeply moving Christian grace.

Bessy- if you're ever in the mood for some light reading on this very subject, I would highly reccomend C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce. As a book reccomendation from Uccisore, I assure you it's not what you'd expect.
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Postby Bessy » Fri Oct 06, 2006 8:27 pm

I will order it today... and thank you for the Bible link as well.
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Postby Uccisore » Fri Oct 06, 2006 8:32 pm

Bessy

Let me know what you think of the book!

Can your belief in Jesus be just heartfelt and not Bible thumping or church going? Is there a standard to this that is written in the Bible that puts you over into the 5.2 area as opposed to the 4.8?


It's like a lot of things in life, Bessy. Can a man win the Boston Marathon while refusing to wear shoes? I reckon so- by why would you do that to yourself? If a person accepts that a relationship with Jesus is the right way to approach spirituality, doing it without the Church and without the Bible seems like a huge, unecessary complication. I think Xunzian had something important to say about the risks of being your own sole judge and jury in spiritual and moral matters in that 'Authority and God' thread.

I have an unrelated question that I want you to answer if you would. Does it bother you that so many of the evangelists on TV etc have made almost a mockery of the Christian religion?


T.V. is a sewer, and almost everything on it is shit, so no, it's doesn't hurt my feelings that much- it's honestly about where I'd expect to find it. If it's possible to do Christianity horribly, horribly wrong, cable T.V. is where you're most likely to see it happen. EDIT: That said, I don't watch televangelists, so don't consider this an indictment of any one in particular- there may be some who are great people, I just don't know.
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Postby Ned Flanders » Fri Oct 06, 2006 9:08 pm

Bessy wrote:Good, then maybe I don't need the red dress after all.

Ucci,

Can your belief in Jesus be just heartfelt and not Bible thumping or church going? Is there a standard to this that is written in the Bible that puts you over into the 5.2 area as opposed to the 4.8?

I have an unrelated question that I want you to answer if you would. Does it bother you that so many of the evangelists on TV etc have made almost a mockery of the Christian religion? All you have to do is watch the church lady on SNL to get my drift. I studied Christianity as a kid... studied Judaism as a young adult and even went through RCIA in the Catholic church to get a grasp on all this. I am now into making my way through some Eastern philosophy referring to myself as a "Cashew with Karma"... (oy vey) so I feel that I seek the truth within myself and... I know that Jesus accepts me, as he accepts all. Those are my beliefs.

Getting back to my question. Doesn't it drive you mad? Some of these guys on TV screaming "Yeee-as" as they throw some poor soul onto the floor being saved can't be taken seriously. Right? Or are you impressed by it?

What do you think, Ned?


I'm probably going to get some abuse for saying this but I am conflicted about tele-evangelists.

Part of what they do is despicable and makes a mockery of Christianity. However, I have a feeling that some of what they do should give Christians pause for thought.

In some ways the modern church tries to remove the closeness of Jesus to the masses. In the old days, the RC church did this by having a monopoly on the mass, the bible and sacraments. These days I feel that the church deliberately makes Christianity incredibly complex for people to understand, creating a mental barrier for simple people to feel that their faith is legitimate. Many people feel like they need to somehow get a PhD in theology or have an IQ of 150 before God will accept them. In a weird way, tele-evangelism cuts through the crap and simplifies the message and connects with real people in a way that the church fails to do.

Take the example of a woman diagnosed with cancer. She might go to the church and ask if they think God will heal her. The reply might go something like this..."well technically we believe that God is good and can do anything he wants, but practically we find that he chooses not to intervene in these cases, this probably stems from a need to balance free will and divine intervention and may also have something to do with the individual's level of faith, of course we're not implying that if you don't have faith to be healed that cancer is your fault, but just the same....blah, blah, blah.........., but we'd be happy to pray that "God's will would be done" in this situation.

The televangelist approach is much simpler. On the negative side he offers false hope and often takes money, cheapening the gospel. But on the positive side his approach has a childish simplicity to it that may actually connect directly with the woman's hopes and fears. He might be more likley to pray for her without all the theological mumbo-jumbo. I find the negative part offensive but the positive side oddly attractive. The fact that so many people connect with tele-evangelists tells me that the church is doing something wrong.

I await the scorn!
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Postby tentative » Fri Oct 06, 2006 9:33 pm

Cross thread post here, so forgive me Bessy.

Ucc writes:
If a person accepts that a relationship with Jesus is the right way to approach spirituality, doing it without the Church and without the Bible seems like a huge, unecessary complication. I think Xunzian had something important to say about the risks of being your own sole judge and jury in spiritual and moral matters in that 'Authority and God' thread.

Sorry Ucc. I can't let this one pass. The Authority and God thread has nothing to do with religion. It only addresses our personal concept of God, and says nothing about what religion is practiced. Assuming one has chosen a "relationship with Jesus", one has already conferred authority to the Christian concept of God, and whether one "does it" with or without the church or the bible is irrelevent to that thread.

Just for my enlightenment, please explain to me why you think that the risks of being in control of ceding authority to my concept of God is any more risky than simply ceding authority to human fallability in spiritual and moral matters?

Risk one: My own understanding is subject to fallability of understanding.

Risk two: The understanding presented by those humans who spoke wrote, speak and write about spiritual and moral matters are subject to fallability of understanding.

Please explain why risk one is more dangerous than risk two? Given the multiplicity of competing religions, Is it riskier to be Islamic than Christian? It seems that each guarantees hell for the other....

The certainty of each seems to be risky in the extreme. No matter what I do, I'm off to hell.

Seems that perhaps the lesser risk is to examine all and draw my own conclusions since not a single person in any religion can die for me.
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Postby Jim deGriz » Fri Oct 06, 2006 9:37 pm

Do I think I am being judged by God?

I don't rightly care what God thinks, I judge myself.
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Postby Bessy » Fri Oct 06, 2006 9:47 pm

Ned, that was a very honest answer. If there is something I respect more than anything is honesty even if I don't agree with it.

Is there something to the "hands on" in saving people? There is something to be said about so-called psychic abilities in relationship to God. What may look like special powers may be the power of God - something that we can't even begin to understand. As humans, we feel that we are in control - that we are the owner of our own destiny. but I can't see how this could possibly be true. There are so many unanswered questions which many atheists profess as their mantra. If you can't humanly answer it, it must not be happening. God is dead, yadda yadda... all these bizarre occurences are just coincidences or figments of our imagination.

I still think it is sad that these tele-evangelists are making a mockery of another's faith. Anyone who takes money in the guise of grace gets a 2.3 from me.
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Postby Uccisore » Fri Oct 06, 2006 10:08 pm

tentative
Sorry Ucc. I can't let this one pass. The Authority and God thread has nothing to do with religion. It only addresses our personal concept of God, and says nothing about what religion is practiced. Assuming one has chosen a "relationship with Jesus", one has already conferred authority to the Christian concept of God, and whether one "does it" with or without the church or the bible is irrelevent to that thread.


As I recall, Xunzian said something about community as it pertains to religion- that if you aren't using the word of a community to fall back on, then it's easy to miss mistakes in your reasoning, and hard to see past your own biases. I was trying to say that the same sort of concept applies to people that try to do the whole "Jesus" thing without the Bible or the Church. Jesus said a few things that would shock and possibly dismay someone who was assuming His message was nothing more than 'be nice to people'.

Just for my enlightenment, please explain to me why you think that the risks of being in control of ceding authority to my concept of God is any more risky than simply ceding authority to human fallability in spiritual and moral matters?


Depends. Bessy was specifically asking me if she could follow Jesus without the Bible and the Church. Since the Bible and the Church are the only good sources of what Jesus said about anything, I should think the risks of not including them would be obvious. She pointed out that the Bible can be made to say anything. It can be made to say anything by people who have a vested interest in twisting it to their own agendas. Now, put those same people with those same agendas on their own with only 'what feels right' to them as their earmark, and naturally they aren't giong to be following Jesus at all. They're going to be following their own whim and calling it Jesus.
Using our God-given rationality requires us to include other people. The fact that things can be learned necessitates the existence of legitimate authority- in the form of people who have learned more than us.

Risk one: My own understanding is subject to fallability of understanding.

Risk two: The understanding presented by those humans who spoke wrote, speak and write about spiritual and moral matters are subject to fallability of understanding.

Please explain why risk one is more dangerous than risk two?


Because of the importance of dialectic, and the fact that you only have a few more decades to get this stuff sorted out before you're dead. Second point first- if you didn't read philosophy, chances are you would never ever think of existentialism even if you lived for 200 years. And even if you did, at around age 183 or so, think about how much further you could have gotten if only you'd ceded authority to Sartre long enough to read and consider his book a century previous? The same thing applies to religion. You're condemning yourself to what one person can get done in 70 years of constructive thought tops.
And now, the point about the dialectic. If all you have to go on is your own unaided understanding, then you have no ability to see the errors in you own reasoning. Involving others allows you to compare your idea to theirs, and that's the only way any real progress is made. As I said, since I believe religion and spirituality is something that can be learned, that means there are legitimate authorities exist on spiritual matters. The only way to properly understand what a legitimate authority is saying is to acknowledge them as an authority. If you view the words of an authority as no more weighty than your own opinions, then are aren't seeing things accurately, and your results will be skewed in your own favor.

All of this is assuming that someone wants to give the bulk of their lives to trying to understand. If they would rather, you know, leave the house once in a while, then the importance of relying on legitimate authorities becomes even more important- and a permanent state of affairs, if the thinker isn't willing to do what it takes to become an authority themselves.

Given the multiplicity of competing religions, Is it riskier to be Islamic than Christian? It seems that each guarantees hell for the other....


Not in the context we're talking about, no. Sticking with either one is less risky than setting out on one's own. The risk of hell is a completely different matter than the risk of being wrong, which is what I was talking about.

Seems that perhaps the lesser risk is to examine all and draw my own conclusions since not a single person in any religion can die for me.


Notice the implied chronology in what you said? First, examine them all. Then, draw your conclusions based on what you've examined. Not 'draw me own conclusions right now, and examine other people's conclusions in my spare time from an idle curiousity about who agrees with me and who doesn't.'
Sure, if you actually are going to examine them all and base your conclusions on what you discover, then I agree. Most people are never going to do that though. Most people who say they are doing that are never going to do that.
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Postby tentative » Fri Oct 06, 2006 11:09 pm

Ucc,
The fact that things can be learned necessitates the existence of legitimate authority- in the form of people who have learned more than us.

Really? And what makes it a necessity? How does one decide who or what is legitimate? People who have learned more than us? Does more learning automatically generate less fallable judgement?
Sticking with either one is less risky than setting out on one's own. The risk of hell is a completely different matter than the risk of being wrong, which is what I was talking about.

??? If the risk of being wrong is hell, it looks like they're pretty well connected as far as risk goes... aren't they?
Notice the implied chronology in what you said? First, examine them all. Then, draw your conclusions based on what you've examined. Not 'draw me own conclusions right now, and examine other people's conclusions in my spare time from an idle curiousity about who agrees with me and who doesn't.'

It's a process, a process we ALL go through assuming we ever ask a question. This is true for all people. Religious, aetheists, agnostics, all of us. Who, how, and what decisions we make about our spiritual nature is still an act of conferring authority. In this instance, even a non-decision is a decision. We each are responsible for our decisions. No one may claim authority that YOU do not grant them.
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Postby Uccisore » Fri Oct 06, 2006 11:15 pm

tentative
Really? And what makes it a necessity? How does one decide who or what is legitimate? People who have learned more than us? Does more learning automatically generate less fallable judgement?


In a nutshell, yes.

??? If the risk of being wrong is hell, it looks like they're pretty well connected as far as risk goes... aren't they?


Being wrong is a risk all itself if what you're after is the truth, so no, I don't see them as connected. Obviously avoiding hell isn't a major consideration- why would that mythical person outside of all belief systems, evaluating each in turn, even believe in hell?

It's a process, a process we ALL go through assuming we ever ask a question. This is true for all people. Religious, aetheists, agnostics, all of us. Who, how, and what decisions we make about our spiritual nature is still an act of conferring authority. In this instance, even a non-decision is a decision. We each are responsible for our decisions. No one may claim authority that YOU do not grant them.


I agree with all of that. Nevertheless, giving authority to the people who deserve it is a proper part of the process. If something about your character makes you resent the idea of relying on authority, the only rational way out is to train yourself until you don't have to rely on them anymore.
Since Christianity is a historical religion (that is, it revolves around stuff that happened that other people saw and you didn't), you can never totally escape reliance on authority, since you can never go back and see for yourself.
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Postby tentative » Fri Oct 06, 2006 11:55 pm

Hi Ucc,

I guess relying on some authoritative stance of others just isn't in me. I'm happy to examine anything they may say, but I cannot shirk the responsibility of making my own judgements and decisions. It's just too damned easy to say "the devil made me do it." "Forgive me father, for I have sinned!" It's just too easy, Ucc, and you know those people. I'll do my best even making a lot of mistakes along the way, but I won't stop trying to the best of my ability to be this awareness that I am, and I'm not about to suggest that the universe didn't give me the tools to both see, find, and make my way. "Hey God, you short-changed me and it isn't fair. You created this imperfect sinful mistake making creature. So you be responsible for me." Sorry, but I can't go there.
Obviously avoiding hell isn't a major consideration- why would that mythical person outside of all belief systems, evaluating each in turn, even believe in hell?

I don't. Only religious people need a reward/punishment system.
I agree with all of that. Nevertheless, giving authority to the people who deserve it is a proper part of the process.

No problem with examining the thoughts of others, gleaning wisdom from their thinking, and applying that to our own lives. But the giving authority to the people who deserve it? And just how do you decide who is deserving, Ucc? Is it because they wrote the bible? Is the publishing of a philosophical thesis a qualifier? Whose opinion is deserving? Do I look to Jesus? Mohammed? Buddha? Confucius? Robertson, Falwell? Can you see that there is no way to avoid the responsibility of our choices? Our spiritual understanding is our own personal creation. It is our relationship with the mystery.
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Postby Jakob » Fri Oct 06, 2006 11:59 pm

détrop wrote:I will say this much.

Remember a couple days ago we were talking about worst songs and I mentioned MeatLoaf? Well the following day I heard like three MeatLoaf songs on two different stations while at work, when usually I don't hear any and only one on a rare occasion.


Aaargh, that <i>is</i> terrifying. What a vengeful god must watch over you.
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Postby Uccisore » Sat Oct 07, 2006 12:13 am

tentative
No problem with examining the thoughts of others, gleaning wisdom from their thinking, and applying that to our own lives. But the giving authority to the people who deserve it? And just how do you decide who is deserving, Ucc? Is it because they wrote the bible? Is the publishing of a philosophical thesis a qualifier? Whose opinion is deserving? Do I look to Jesus? Mohammed? Buddha? Confucius? Robertson, Falwell?


I thought you said you were going to look at all of them, and then make a decision. Best get crackin'. I can't tell you definitively who a religious authority is, but I can tell you who isn't, and that's me! I guess the real question is, since it's going to take you years and years to collate this information (and yes, I realize you've been at it for some time already), can you resist the temptation to believe something in the mean time?
I already said how to decide who has authority, I said it twice.

Can you see that there is no way to avoid the responsibility of our choices? Our spiritual understanding is our own personal creation.


Of course it is. Even someone who doesn't look into these things at all is responsible for the fact that they didn't do so. I guess I'm lost. Are you saying that subjecting one's self to a religious authority is a way of escaping the responsibility of having to choose for yourself, or aren't you? If accepting the authority of another into your religious life isn't getting one out of their responsibility, then what's your beef with it? And finally, what about my point on history? How do you avoid acceptance of authority on matters which happened a thousand years ago? Have you decided that all such matters are irrelevant to your life carte blanche, or do you have some way of learning history that doesn't involve relying trusting fallible human testimony?
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Postby Jakob » Sat Oct 07, 2006 12:32 am

I think you only get Gods attention by trying really hard. If you WANT to be judged, then fear him all day long. If you want to be blessed, challenge Him to bless you by untertaking something really, really difficult to accomplish and He might take an interest - it has to be a learning experience for Him, too.
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Postby Bessy » Sat Oct 07, 2006 9:57 am

"tentative"
No problem with examining the thoughts of others, gleaning wisdom from their thinking, and applying that to our own lives. But the giving authority to the people who deserve it? And just how do you decide who is deserving, Ucc? Is it because they wrote the bible? Is the publishing of a philosophical thesis a qualifier? Whose opinion is deserving? Do I look to Jesus? Mohammed? Buddha? Confucius? Robertson, Falwell? Can you see that there is no way to avoid the responsibility of our choices? Our spiritual understanding is our own personal creation. It is our relationship with the mystery.


This is what I see as the problem with the human rationale of religion. It frustrates me that whenever there is a philosophical argument about religion - the believers just chalk it up to faith when they have a hard time answering a question. Part of the mystery, I suppose. Ucci, you mentioned that because we weren't there and didn't see it for ourselves we cannot grasp its existence - and yet none of the contemporary interpreters of the Bible were there either, so how are we not responsible for our own actions - our own choices? Our own interpretations? Unlike tent, I struggle with the residue of guilt from my belief system, but I do see the sheer freedom in moving away from it. Under the Christian umbrella, you see that a higher being watches us as we fall - having the power to forgive and judge our free will when, in essence, (if you believe in God) you should assume that He gave you the tools to choose. Don't you think that ignoring your God given tools is like ignoring God himself?
It is our relationship to the mystery.


It is. Beautifully put, by the way.
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Postby Bob » Sat Oct 07, 2006 2:21 pm

Hi Ucc.;
Have you ever played a game in school as a child where the winner gets a candy bar, and then like five minutes later, everybody else gets a candy bar too? Why would God even have goodness and badness if that was the eventual outcome?


Mat 20:1-16
For the kingdom of Heaven is like a man, a housemaster, who went out when it was early to hire workers into his vineyard. And agreeing with the workers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard.
And going out about the third hour, he saw others standing idle in the market. And he said to them, You also go into the vineyard, and I will give you whatever is just. And they went.
Again, going out about the sixth and ninth hour, he did the same.
And going out about the eleventh hour, he found others standing idle, and said to them, why do you stand here idle all day?
They said to him, because no one has hired us. He said to them, You also go into the vineyard, and you will receive whatever is just.
But evening having come, the lord of the vineyard said to his manager, Call the workers and pay them the wage, beginning from the last to the first. And the ones having come the eleventh hour each received a denarius.
And having come, the first supposed that they would receive more. And they also each received a denarius. And having received it, they murmured against the housemaster, saying, these last have performed one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.
But answering, he said to one of them, Friend, I do not wrong you. Did you not agree to a denarius with me? Take yours and go. But I desire to give to this last as also to you. Or is it not lawful for me to do what I desire with my things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?
So the last shall be first, and the first last; for many are called, but few chosen.

Shalom
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
TS Eliot
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Postby Bob » Sat Oct 07, 2006 2:58 pm

Hi Bessy,
It frustrates me that whenever there is a philosophical argument about religion - the believers just chalk it up to faith when they have a hard time answering a question. Part of the mystery, I suppose. Ucci, you mentioned that because we weren't there and didn't see it for ourselves we cannot grasp its existence - and yet none of the contemporary interpreters of the Bible were there either, so how are we not responsible for our own actions - our own choices? Our own interpretations?

I missed this discussion (work again!) but I understand your frustration. I have tried in the past to put the whole issue in a different perspective, but it begins where Ned and Ucc. began, namely with the fact that only God is good. However, what does it mean to be “good”? In Aramaic, the vernacular of Jesus, we are talking about something which is ripe or mature, fully grown or developed. This is true of many statements where the word “good” is used.

In this sense, humankind is “unripe”, “immature”, “green” and “undeveloped” – which doesn’t contradict my experience of humankind at all. It also explains my own failings adequately. In another statement, Jesus says that his followers should be “perfect”, as their heavenly Father is perfect. In the Greek and in the Aramaic, the word literally means “complete” or “whole”. I think that this does give the discussion a new feeling.

We have many problems with the divine up-bringing, since we continually have the feeling that we can decide things on our own, but if we are Christians, then we are children. Towards God we must humbly accept this and not try to pretend that we have reached “goodness” or “adulthood” – even though on human standards we may have. In fact, this is where our measure becomes unclear, since we like to judge by human standards, although we are told that it isn’t wise to judge at all.

The aim of God then, according to our tradition, is to help his children attain “wholeness”, so that they can enter into communion with himself. The first step is rather like being given a prop to overcome our one-sidedness, or being given an eye to overcome our neglect of those things we do not see. In modern language, God compensates for what we are lacking for as long as this is possible. By all accounts, there is a time when the time for this compensation is up. However, it isn’t by our “wholeness” or “ripeness” that we are judged, but in the way we have treated our fellow beings – which may seem to contradict, but it is humility and authenticity which is looked for.

Unlike tent, I struggle with the residue of guilt from my belief system, but I do see the sheer freedom in moving away from it. Under the Christian umbrella, you see that a higher being watches us as we fall - having the power to forgive and judge our free will when, in essence, (if you believe in God) you should assume that He gave you the tools to choose. Don't you think that ignoring your God given tools is like ignoring God himself?

Right, and according to the parable of the talents, we are all given talents to be used. I find it comforting that it is a minority that buries its talents, saying that God is a strict judge who wants the fruits of the seed he hasn’t sown – but this statement seems to sound a lot like some “believers” I have known …

Shalom
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
TS Eliot
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Postby Bessy » Sat Oct 07, 2006 4:12 pm

Bob,

I hate people like you. You are one of those ministers I would follow for decades if you were on the pulpit. You have a way about you that brings even the wicked and wayward into the fold in the most respectful way. I hadn't thought about good and bad in that manner. If you assume that good is an impossible thing to achieve then I can understand the struggle and the reason for the need for church and further study. It is remarkable to me that the more I study Eastern philosophy, the more I can see that Jesus was not the only one with these thoughts. As the Son of God, you would say that he was the first to honor the Golden Rule.

http://www.religioustolerance.org/reciproc.htm

But as you can see.... he wasn't. My husband asked me something as we were discussing this. He mowed the lawn of a sick woman next door yesterday. As a Jewish man, he wondered - would a Christian be more inclined to go to mass or do someone a favor? In the RC church, mass is a sacrament - so what if there was a choice? Is living it the thing or "living as" the thing? In the OP, I asked how one would be judged. I wonder if God and Jesus don't see the day to day good that you say is impossible to achieve.

As we were going over our group of neighbors we decided that in this Bible belt of ours that most of them would go to Bible study and dress for the Sunday service. I don't understand this and I wish one of you would explain it to me. How is honoring that sacrament more important than helping a neighbor?
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Postby Uccisore » Sat Oct 07, 2006 4:43 pm

Bessy
Ucci, you mentioned that because we weren't there and didn't see it for ourselves we cannot grasp its existence - and yet none of the contemporary interpreters of the Bible were there either, so how are we not responsible for our own actions - our own choices?


Well, I didn't mean it to be a big statement on religious faith, it's a lot more mundane than that. All I meant was, when you're studying history, you can't go and see it for yourself. If you want to know what happened a hundred years ago, you have to rely on someone telling you what happened. That's the only way there is, and it doesn't matter if you're studying World War II or the beginning of the Church. This all relates to Christianity because so much of it revolves around history. If Jesus said something, you know it because somebody told you so. That comes before interpretation, even- you can't interpret a statement if you haven't heard it yet.
So yes, you are responsible for your own choices, and your own decisions, but part of that decision process has to involve a reliance on authoritative testimony. Tentative seemed to be suggesting that there was no good way to decide who was a good authority and who wasn't, I would suggest he ask historians how they do it.

Under the Christian umbrella, you see that a higher being watches us as we fall - having the power to forgive and judge our free will when, in essence, (if you believe in God) you should assume that He gave you the tools to choose. Don't you think that ignoring your God given tools is like ignoring God himself?


I still haven't fully grasped why our ability to discern good authorities from bad ones, and our ability to rely on testimony of others doesn't count as one of those tools! You've read enough of what I write to know that I don't ignore reason and logic, don't you? Do I strike you as someone who isn't using his tools?
This is the main thing that frustrates me about philosophy of religion. If this was any other subject, I wouldn't have to have the "Why reading books and listening to people more experienced than you is good" conversation. Not with an adult, anyway.
I also think another side of this is what you're using to discern truth, and what your goals are. If your measure for when you've found spiritual truth is when you get a good feeling in your tummy, then yeah, you can totally find that yourself without relying on anybody else. How could I argue with that?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8mPuckq ... ure=vmdshb

http://deepfreeze.it/ Curious about corrupt practices in video game journalism? Look no further.
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