Heated Debate Between a Christian and Pantheist 2 of 3

Round two

Christian writes:

Mike,

With regards to your statement: “someone has to be better than someone else in order to be saved or what have you.”

that is not what I’m referring to when I point out that Israel is God’s chosen nation/people. What I actually mean or believe this implies goes back to God’s promise to Abraham which is as follows:

“Now the Lord had said to Abram: Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” [Gen. 12:1-3]

“I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of hisenemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”  [Genesis 22:17-18]

God chose Abraham, who is the father of Israel, to bring about the Messiah and eventually make salvation available to all peoples (both Jews and Gentiles).

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. [Galatians 28-29]

I never meant to incur that the Jews were special or extraordinary but rather that they were the vessel if you will, by which the Messiah would come, not too mention by which the oracles of God would be recorded and preserved as well.

The same is true of Mary, mother of Jesus, who is worshipped by Catholics worldwide but was merely a chosen vessel. Nothing special there – except for the fact that she was used by God in His sovereign plan. It doesn’t make her any better than anyone else, as is the case with the Jews. But she was selected for a purpose just as the nation of Israel was.

Regarding your statement in reference to the first five books of the Old Testament:

Let us examine where this scripture comes from; the same place that we find that the Universe was created in 6 days, right – the book of the law – the book of Moses – the Pentateuch – the Torah? Isn’t this the same book, which once it was finished it was placed in the holiest of holiest places, behind a veil and in an ark – an ark where God continually sat, and only one man once a year was allowed in there?

was it not the Ten Commandments that was placed there? In fact the Ark of the Covenant contained Aaron’s Rod (almond wood that had budded ),the stone tables with the 10 Commandments (Deuteronomy 31:26), and a golden pot that contained manna bread. I cannot recall anywhere in scripture where it says the book of the law – the book of Moses – the Pentateuch – the Torah was place in there. So your argument that the law was “hidden’ and only accessible to one man – the High Priest is unfounded. In fact, all through the first five books, there are instances where Moses is reading the law or teaching the people God’s laws, instructing them to follow the law and to serve the Lord God.

You seem to assume that the Books of the Old Testament, at least the first five of which you made reference to, were somehow lost and then recreated from memory or maybe even made up. Am I mis-understanding you here? But in all reality, how many people, over the history of the printed Bible that we know today, tried to completely destroy it? No one has been able to accomplish that task, have they? Do you not think that God is sovereign enough to have his Word, whether its the law, the prophecies, the poetry, the history or even what makes up the New Testament, preserved and protected to this day? Even when Elijah thought he was the only one left that served the Lord, God said to him, “… still have 7,000 people in Israel whose knees have not knelt to worship Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” [I Kings 19:18]. God has always had a remnant and I believe his Word has always been preserved.

It is a huge book but you should read “Evidence That Demands a Verdict” by Josh McDowell as it explores the authenticity of scripture as God’s word as well as Jesus as a historic person and one who did rise from the dead. In fact, I’m shocked in all the studying that we did in the early days of our salvation, you have never read this book (at least that is what you said at out last lunch).

With regards to this statement:

Now, I know you are very familiar with the captivity of Babylon and I’m fairly certain you are aware of what those people, who believed they were acting on behalf of their benevolent God, did to the Holy word. They burned it. I am also certain that you are well aware that Ezra affirms we are to have no fear as he and 40 scribes rewrote it in 40 days. (I love those mystical numbers)

do you have a scriptural reference to this claim? Or did you just read this in an Eastern philosophy book? Sorry, being a bit sarcastic there. ;-) In all seriousness, it has been a while since I’ve read the sections that cover the Babylonian captivity but I’m pretty sure there was a “remnant” left behind. Not all went to Babylon, did they? Correct me if I’m wrong. So you “assume” that whatever scriptures that the Jews had in their possession at that point were completely destroyed but where’s the proof of that?

I could go on and on but really I want to understand a few things about where my good friend, whom came to faith in Jesus about the same time I did, in whom I went through struggles and experienced growth with (leaving Maryvale, adapting to new church, etc.), currently stands in his belief system.

So, if you don’t mind, please indulge me in the following questions.

1. You said, “No, my dear friend, I do not trust it,” in reference to our modern Bible. This leads me to ask you if you still believe that Jesus Christ was an actual historical person, who was born of a virgin, crucified on a cross in the Roman’s custom of putting the condemned to death, and then rose from the dead. Or is that merely an old Jewish fable?

2. If you do believe the above about Jesus Christ, do you believe that He is the only way to the Father God? If not, is He one of many ways or is the way to the Father God obtained in some other fashion.

David

Pantheist reply:

Dave, first of all allow me to make the argument that “history is written by those who won.” It is interesting that you are using Jewish history as a basis for promoting their selective view points. As I stated earlier; everyone makes the same claims, including the Muslims. However, we chose not to believe the Muslims, but the Jews. What if I was to say; I can prove the Germans are God’s chosen people by simply quoting a few excerpts from Hitler’s auto-biography?

See here again, in your opening lines, we have someone’s interpretation of what they think God said. I’m sure God said something, but like the description of the creation of the Universe; whoever wrote that description (and can we agree whoever it was, wasn’t there when the Earth was created?) truly believed that God created the sun and the stars on the 1st day and yet; we know many of the stars we see today have taken somewhere around 60,000 years for their light to reach us, and as I have pointed out elsewhere; it takes 200,000 years for particles to transfer from the center of the sun to the outer crust before they can start their 8 minute journey to Earth. Why, because God wants it that way, obviously. As I’m sure we both agree, God created all that there is and ordained the way in which they operate; as well as the universal laws with which they operate within – like gravity. These laws never alter just like our God; so, no I do not believe Joshua made the sun stand still as the sun is always standing still, and the Earth spins at 1000 MPH. Had the Earth come to a dead stand still; everyone would have been flung off. That’s probably how the Native Americans got here.

If this information was as important as modern Christianity tries to make it out to be when science makes these remarkable discoveries; then why didn’t Adam pass it along? He lived 900 years and yet we only have a few early years of his life accounted for. He walked with God, he was the smartest man on the planet, probably for thousands of years after his death and yet he left no, NO words of wisdom for his protégée. I believe he was alive during Noah’s grandfather’s days. One would think granddad would have some interesting stories to tell around the campfire. They didn’t have TV; “So, let me tell you a story” was a very famous line back then. Never is there any account of someone having an issue or needing advice of them ever seeking the council of Adam. I would’ve been like, “Dude you should go talk to Adam; he walked with God and is like the Einstein of our day.”

These primitive, limited conscious beings gave us an account of what they believed God was trying to tell them, but like Bob, (you remember the revelations God was giving him before he took his life) sometimes our ego gets in the way; not to mention our limited understanding of the world around us. This limited understanding is still the case today; science has to always be ready to make adjustments to their theories as new information continues to be revealed to us. This is why God always made references to the Earth’s flatness and making statements like “the four corners of the Earth” to these uneducated peoples.

Why, because the Earth certainly looked flat to them and if God had said anything to the contrary of their senses – which was a primary mode of living in those days as the School of Alexandria hadn’t yet manifested – they would’ve accused Him of being the devil. Either God lied to them, they misunderstood Him or (and this is my belief on many of these misunderstandings) God had to drop down to their level of understanding. I believe God is constantly trying to meet us on a higher level of understanding, but unfortunately, many of His people are still clinging to an outdated, primitive understanding and are unwilling to be open-minded to reevaluating their beliefs based upon new discoveries. The primary people, these days, who are open to hear these new revelations are Quantum Physicists.

Having said all this: Has God fulfilled his promise and multiplied those chosen people as the stars of heaven? Sure if you only count the ones we can see from a flat Earth mentality in a remote corner of the world; but God said “as the stars of heaven”. Obviously the author of this statement was unaware how many stars there truly are. And there is that lovely concept of enemies in there as well. Why has it always been about wars, enemies, and those others? Here again is the ego.

Did you know the ego ceases to exist when it no longer perceives an enemy out there? Today we have evolved a bit and instead of an enemy per se; we see people we must compete with, as in economics. Someone else might get the stuff my ego is longing for; and this creates strife and contention. This is why I love Buddhism so much; it is one of the few which truly addresses the issues of the ego, and points out that it is misplaced desire that is at the root of all suffering.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. [Galatians 3:28-29] This is a great scripture and I absolutely agree with it; I love how it indicates our oneness with Jesus – that’s great. However, there is absolutely no need for the author to add in this clinging desperation to be associated to Jewish promises. Jesus fulfilled the law; we have oneness in Christ, that gives us all power in Heaven and on Earth; and that’s all that is required – attaching to an outdated lower promise is like adding a candle to the power of the sun.

And unfortunately, for every great scripture like this, which is all inclusive there are probably at least twice those amounts which encourage exclusiveness. Like this scripture, I believe God is all inclusive; and any, ANY religion that preaches exclusiveness and separation of peoples from one another, especially as viewed as enemies, is not a faith validated by God. You know as well as I do; people can always find a scripture to justify any behavior.

And as far as (I never meant to incur that the Jews were special or extraordinary but rather that they were the vessel if you will, by which the Messiah would come, not too mention by which the oracles of God would be recorded and preserved as well.) didn’t Jesus in John 3:8 (the gospel which most scholars discredit) say; “all who came before Me were thieves and robbers.”? Who is he talking about? Is he referring to the previous prophets of Israel?

Dave, please re-verify the ancient scriptures: This is what Deut 31:26 King James says “Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.” I always love these lovingly statements too; “a witness against you.” Man, the God of olden times was so pissed! Why couldn’t it be said “as a reminder to do right” or “just in case you forget, you can always reread the highlights”? No, it’s going to be a witness against you; as in a witness in a court of law judging you as a bad person.

( 2 Kings 22:8 & Chronicles 34:14-24) is where you can find ‘my allegation’ against the high priest Hilkiah of just simply writing whatever he wanted and claiming “Oh, look what I found just lying around the temple”; as well as the story of taking it to the ‘prophetess’ Huldah for confirmation from God of its authenticity.

Now, I have submitted scriptures to all my claims but the one in regards to Ezra. The interesting thing is that as I was reading the (non-Eastern ha-ha) book about these issues; every single point rang clear in my head, and I remembered reading them in scripture years ago. (I’m sure you are aware, I had read the entire Bible several times back in our glory days) The only thing was, back then I wasn’t reading it with a critical eye, but what we like to call ‘blind faith’; but I remember bells and whistles going off in the back of my head when they took the book to a ‘woman’ for authenticity affirmation.

I remembered all of it including Ezra and the whole deal with him having the assistance of 40 scribes and the completion of it in 40 days. So, when I could find scriptures relating to all but Ezra; I became quite boggled. What has been allowed into our Bible of today only says the Babylonians destroyed the temple and all the artifacts within; so according to this it can only be speculation; as it doesn’t flat out say the book was destroyed. I did some searching (actually a lot of searching) and I found that there are other books attributed to Ezra but they were voted out of the cannon at some point; one in particular called 2 Esdra. This book has all the details about the burning of the book and Ezra believing he was inspired by God to rewrite it; as well as the 40 scribes helping in 40 days. The part that really amazes me is: I still feel as though I had read about Ezra rewriting the book back when I was an ardent studier of scripture; and I know I never heard of these other books by Ezra until last night. I wonder if I had read them in a previous life.

In regards to your reference to the book by Mr. McDowell; I took the liberty of looking at some of the reviews on Amazon. You might be surprised at what I found:

1) McDowell’s book changed my life. Upon reading it 17 years ago, I lost my faith in Christianity. Up until then, I had a strong confidence in Christianity, for I believed that Christianity had strong evidence in favor of it. I purchased McDowell’s book in the hope that it would help me to become better educated and more articulate in my presentation of this evidence.

But when I read the book carefully I was shocked. For the first time I became aware of how weak and illogical the arguments in favor of Christian faith really were. What I had always been told were iron-clad arguments turned out to be, on close inspection, empty sophistry. Especially revealing were all the Old Testament prophecies that McDowell claimed were fulfilled by Jesus. If I recall correctly, McDowell listed about 70 or 80 of these. But when I saw how unpersuasive the vast majority of these really were, I saw the foundation of my faith crumble.

I realized that if this was the best evidence Christianity had to offer, my faith in Christianity was merely arbitrary, with little to offer to compel one intellectually to believe in it.

Christians often claim that they have powerful evidence on their side. If you are interested in seeing just how empty this claim really is, read McDowell’s book…

 

2) As a skeptic looking for valid reasons to reconsider Christianity, I was really looking for some good information. I’ve already educated myself with works on Biblical scholarship and archeology. Needless to say I was disappointed with what is offered in this book. McDowell states that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible as if it were accepted fact–which it is not–and doesn’t offer any evidence to the contrary. All the archeological evidence is pre-1970 and there have been significant discoveries in the last 30 years!

There is nothing in here that made me reconsider my position on the reliability of the contradicting Gospels, or that Jesus was a man and not a god.

Needless to say, this book turned me even farther away from considering Christianity as a religion…

 

3) Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict is probably the most influential book of Christian apologetics to be published in the past half century. And it is irredeemably flawed in every respect from beginning to end. Let’s just list some of its major flaws.

Irrelevancies: McDowell repeatedly refers to the New Testament documents as eyewitness accounts. By contrast, the scholarly consensus among most historians and non-evangelical Christians is that of the 27 books of the New Testament, we know the authorship of exactly 7, all by Paul.

Other non-sequiturs and logical errors: McDowell argues that miracles are more probable because quantum physics and relativity have upset Newtonian physics. Rubbish. He tries to suggest that the burden of proof lies on those who deny miracles or doubt the inerrancy on the bible when, of course, it lies on him. His discussion of C. S. Lewis’ Trilemma shows the same flaw Lewis’ did: it is not clear that Jesus claimed he was God, the Gospels do. Since they were written decades after his death they cannot be taken to be eyewitness accounts. Moreover, outside of John, the last Gospel, the claims are ambiguous and McDowell misinterprets the evidence he does have (see problem 3). McDowell does not discuss the fact that Paul’s epistles, our earliest writings, do not mention the Virgin Birth, a Physical Resurrection, an Early Tomb, or a prophecy of destroyed Jerusalem. One could go on, but I only have a thousand words.

 

Dave in order for you to even remotely grasp this concept, you must loosen the iron grip which the Bible holds upon your mind just a little. I believe it was ex-pastor Mangasarian who said “If Christians would scrutinize their own faith with the same critical eye as they do other religions; they would be able to see where their own is lacking”. I promise you, you will not get brainwashed and the devil will not move into your open mind. But unless you lay aside your hard fast stance or your armor of defense for a moment; it will be very difficult to see the discussion from another perspective. After you have taken a look at the other side of the debate, you can always pick back up your armor and resume your hard fast stance; but I would hope that you take back with you a little open-minded opinion of other aspects of life.

And please don’t call this new age propaganda; first of all this line of thinking goes back at least to the 1800’s, secondly, Averroism, which is the idea that everyone is one with each other and one with God can be traced back to the 12th century when it first infiltrated Europe. The Franciscan monks even adopted it, but the Dominican monks (soon to become the Inquisition) squashed it along with all other forms of independent thinking. What you and I were both never made aware of: is these kinds of questions have been asked throughout the 2000 year reign of Christianity; however, it’s only been in the last 5% of that time in which people have had the freedom to ask questions without the church burning their works along with the author himself. That’s why, to say the least, the evidence of their ‘heretical questions’ is scarce and hard to find.

Atonement means at one with God. The church is the bride of Christ; correct? We know what happens when two people get married; the two shall become as one. Try this: put 2 candles together; can you distinguish one flame from the other? That’s what it’s like with God; we came from Him – we are one with Him – and we will return to our Oneness. He is the Alpha and the Omega. What does that mean? To me, it means a circle; and in a circle you cannot distinguish where it begins or where it ends. Almost kind of cryptic; one might think our God talks a bit Eastern, like what you would find in the Book of the Tao. To me it means; you came from God and you will end up right back where you started. What part of the circle represents eternal separation from He who is called the Beginning & the End?

OK, now let’s get a little more controversial: Please find for me the scripture in Mark which validates the virgin birth. Oh you’re kidding me; the first gospel ever committed to parchment fails to mention one of the major cornerstones which indisputably proves its religion is the only true religion. Curious, wouldn’t you agree? And please don’t tell me, he forgot; it’s one of the key questions you just asked me. Your questions didn’t focus on the debate if Jesus was from Galilee, Bethlehem, or Nazarene; which is an excellent question in itself. This gospel was written before the church fathers realized how difficult it is to proselyte pagans who already served a deity who had been born of a virgin on Dec 25th and who had risen from the dead as a way of ushering in rebirth during Spring. So to answer your question; yes, I believe Jesus was born of a virgin. I also believe the following deities were also born of a virgin; why, because they all possess the same proof. I provide the following documentation of virgin born deities from a book written by a Christian pastor named Michael Dowd:

Alcmene, virgin mother of Heracles

Amphictione, virgin mother of Plato

Anahita, virgin mother of Mithra (born on Dec 25th)

Antiope, virgin mother of Amphion and Zethus

Athena, virgin mother of Erichthnonius

Atia, virgin mother of Augustus

Ceres, virgin mother of Proserpina

Chimalman, virgin mother of Kukulcan

Danae, virgin mother of Perseus

Devaki, virgin mother of Krishna (born on Dec 25th)

Ishtar, virgin mother of Tammuz (born on Dec 25th)

Isis, virgin mother of Horus (born on Dec 25th)

Juno, virgin mother of Mars

Maia, virgin mother of Hermes

Maya, virgin mother of Buddha

Mut-em-ua, virgin mother of Pharaoh Amenophis III

Myrrha, virgin mother of Adonis

Nama (Nana), virgin mother of Attis

Net (Neit, Neith), virgin mother of Ra

Olympias, virgin mother of Alexander the Great

Persephone, virgin mother of Dionysus (born on Dec 25th)

Rhea Silvia, virgin mother of Romulus and Remus

Semele, virgin mother of Bacchus

Shin-Moo, virgin mother of Somonocodom

Xochiquetzal, virgin mother of Quetzalcoatl

Please refrain yourself from using the argument that the devil, knowing the future purpose of Jesus, established these other false deities in order that he might confuse us. I will accept your quoting Jewish history in order to prove their rightness, because you cannot prove it else wise; but I cannot stomach the regurgitations of propagandists the likes of Justin Martyr. There is nothing in scripture which can directly facilitate this argument, so please dig a bit deeper. Besides, we give the devil entirely too much credit. If there were such a creature, who after spending an eternity in the presence of the Almighty, says to himself, it would be profitable for me to rebel against the Almighty; this creature, my friend, would be amongst the most ignorant and foolish creatures of all. Even cockroaches have the presence of mind to scatter when a human turns on the lights.

See, back in the days when the early church fathers invented and added this folly to the wisdom of God, they didn’t possess the foresight nor the reasoning power of mind to see any further down the path than the need to instill fear into the hearts of the ignorant and superstitious – and why did the leaders need this fear – because this was the only way their primitive minds could fathom keeping law and order over so many lawless and perverse peoples. It was a dark, dark time in our history. These early church fathers would’ve made horrible chess players though. However, it’s only been in relatively recent times in which we have exposed the insubstantial nature of their fables; so I guess one could say they were pretty good magicians or better puts – excellent charlatans for their times.

I know this is difficult, Dave, but trust me; it’s not nearly as terrifying as it seems. There are so many compelling arguments, it’s hard to overlook; and albeit, it is the same path which has led many to atheism, that’s not the ultimate purpose. I know it also sounds fearfully like a license for lasciviousness, but dare to question the flip side of the coin if you will. You and I have talked with several people who preach “saved by grace” as an excuse to continue a life of sin. I believe it’s this misunderstanding of atonement which is at the root of perdition. As Philippians 2:12 says “work out your own salvation”; I believe we are called to work at becoming better and better, like evolution. But then you might say “we’re not saved by works” well then make up God’s mind please.

Yes, Jesus was an actual historical person. I put my faith in Him; I thank Him for many things throughout my day. Yes, he probably was crucified. Rising from the dead is not an old Jewish fable; it belongs to the Christians, silly. I believe He rose from the dead just as much as I believe all the other countless deities did as well.

Now when we say Jesus said “I am the way to the Father” we have to remember that was only mentioned in the one gospel, which is so different from the other three. If it was such an important part of salvation; why wasn’t it mentioned in the other three? Also, what of the men who asked Jesus “what must I do to be saved?” He gave them a completely different path: to one He said “Go sell all that you have and give it to the poor.” We know according to scripture that he probably didn’t do it; but who’s to say he didn’t later change his mind and do as Jesus commanded him. Then when someone may have come to him saying Jesus is the only way to God; he would argue with them according to the very words Jesus had spoken to him.

To another He says, “Pick up your cross and follow Me.” and this is exactly what I believe is meant by “I am the way”; follow my example. It’s not about vicarious salvation – that has only led more people to think I don’t have to do anything to be saved. And by God, I believe all these lukewarm believers are a direct result of this preposterous adulteration of what Jesus was trying to accomplish. I believe the primary goals Jesus was attempting to get across were:

  • Matt 5:48 “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect”; which incidentally cannot be found in the odd gospel of John. “Well, I can glance over that scripture because I am saved by grace!”
  • Luke 10:27 “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” again; found in the three gospels but missing from the one that makes the claim that you cannot come to God but through Jesus.
  • Matt 6:14 “If you forgive the failures of others, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” again, not found in John’s Gospel

God bless, Dave, if all people everywhere could apply these principles to their lives – whether they believe in Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha, or the Lone Ranger – what a wonderful world this could be! But as long as ignorant, selfish, stupid, biased, and wicked men keep telling their loyal subjects that “God told me we need to kill others because their beliefs differ from ours”; then I’m afraid we will never see the return of Christ. Watch the movie “The Land of Blood and Honey” and ask yourself; “Two millenniums since Jesus said ‘Verily I say unto you, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.’ Matt 16:28 and wonder; wouldn’t this religious genocide have been a great time for Him to come back and put an end to all this incessant murdering?” (Probably not, since it was His people committing these heinous and unimaginable crimes.) And also ask yourself, “Who are those people He was saying are still alive today?”

Michael

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