Wow, didn’t expect a book! I have responded to a few of your arguments below and have added a concluding statement at the end.
Here we go (your words are italicized) …
…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.
David: This is all assumption on your part. You have no proof! And why can’t God who created all this not work the miracle regarding Joshua and the “sun standing still.” You don’t trust that this is accurate history but at the same time, you cannot disprove it either.
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.”
David: Did they even have any methods of writing in Adam’s days? Maybe provide some information about the history of the “written word” before making this argument. It is commonly understood that Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament. If God was so precise as to law out all the law, the order of sacrifices, the building of the tabernacle and the like, could he not have spoken to Moses about the history of man up to that date? You again only assume it was all recorded by “passing around tales” but where is your proof?
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.
David: This is not necessarily a reference that the world is flat. Why is this such an issue to you anyways? What has the belief that the world was flat, round or even a triangle got anything to do with God’s eternal plan for mankind?
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.
David: You are really grasping at straws here and making arguments that are completely irrelevant. I take the references to the “stars” and “sand” simply to mean that from Abraham’s loins would come a people so numerous, they could not be counted. It is a figure of speech and not the gospel.
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.
David: I haven’t read the Book of Buddha (or whatever it is called) but I remember discovering the book in one of our hotel rooms on a Gig/David roller coaster trip. I chucked it down the hall but Gig retrieved it and said he was going to read it. His summary was that it was a essentially a book of how to live right with moral standards and all of that but with no real eternal purpose. While the Bible also teaches moral standards and how we should conduct our relationship with God as well as eachother, it is evidenced all throughout the Bible that we are unable to do this on our own. However, after Christ’s resurrection, we can experience a changed heart and life through the power of the Holy Spirit.
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.
David: The “man” Jesus came from the lineage of Abraham. So if we are born again in Christ, we are also “spiritually” Abraham’s offspring. What is your argument here?
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?
David: I don’t know. Who is he speaking about? You tell me.
(2 King 22:8 & 2 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.
David: Maybe you’re reading a different version of the Bible, but I see where it says “he found,” not “he wrote.” What are you talking about?
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.
David: As you say yourself, “it can only be speculation” which is where most of your arguments are based on – pure speculation and assumption.
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:
David: Why don’t you just read it for yourself instead of relying on a few opinions, of which I might point out that you know nothing about the persons writing them nor their background or ultimate motives.
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?
David: Oh I see… you’re making up your own religion. Just like so many others have in the past…
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.
David: Where is the historical proof of all the other “countless deities” rising from the dead? There were over 500 witnesses to Jesus resurrection.
In summary, I’m glad to hear that you have a faith in Jesus, at least I think you do. You believe a lot of other strange things however, but then again, I have some strange beliefs that are not necessarily Biblically based but more assumptions just as you do. For example, I believe in aliens (from outer space). You and I have discussed this. I believe there might have been inhabitants on the Earth prior to man being created or placed here in Genesis. I do not believe God is retained by time but can step into anyone’s life at any given time. For example, he could step into your life from birth to death and then step into Napoleon Bonaparte’s life even though Napoleon preceded you.
That being said, I do believe that I am a sinner and that nothing I do in and of myself can save me or bring me into fellowship with God the Father. I do believe God sent His Son, Jesus, who was essentially God in flesh, to live a sinless life and become the ultimate and final spotless sacrifice for our sins and that this is a free gif from God. However, as with any gift, one has to accept it and put it to use. I do not believe a person can have a true relationship with God by any other means than through Jesus Christ, whether that be a religion, works or simply being a good person.
You said: “I believe the primary goals Jesus was attempting to get across were,” and then quoted Matt 5:48, Luke 10:27 and Matt 6:14 which are all great scriptures but are based on works, don’t you think?
For me, the essence of salvation can be summed up in what is commonly referred to as the “Roman Road.”
God Is The Creator Of Life
Romans 1:20-21: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
Why We Need Salvation – The Fact Of Our Sin
Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Romans 3:10: “As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one.”
The Penalty Of Sin
Romans 6:23a: “For the wages of sin is death.”
God’s Plan Of Salvation
Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
God’s Promise Of Eternal Life
Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 10:9-10: “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your hear that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”
Romans 10:13: “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Results Of Salvation
Romans 8:1: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 5:1: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Of course, I am using the Bible to demonstrate what I believe we need to be in right standing or fellowship with God, a book you seem to want to discredit, so not sure you buy into this theology anymore.
You said yourself that at some point that “maybe you read to much,” which is not a bad thing in and of itself. But what are you reading? What we take into our minds will certainly shape us, for good or bad, in the same way that the food we eat will help determine our health (or lack thereof). For example, if all we ever eat is fast food, we’ll be of very poor health as fast food provides little nutrition. It tastes good and satisfies our appetite at the time but studies have shown that it is not good for us.
I leave you with one simple scripture:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? – Jeremiah 17:9
Some of the things you believe and your iconoclast mindset as of late leads me to wonder if you are really guarding your heart from deceit as you seem to have a lot of assumptions about things that have long been established. Maybe it would be good for you to join some “apologetic” types of forums and debate there. In the end, those studied in apologetics are much more qualified than I to debate you.
A final note: we should possibly leave these types of debates for face-to-face discussions, which I’d love to have, rather than these lengthy email discourses as I struggle to find the time to respond to them, as I know you do as well, we both being busy people.
The beauty of all religious debates is that neither side can prove their rightness. Yes, I agree; God can do as he pleases, but I just don’t believe God intervenes in those outrageous ways; especially when you consider the circumstances of why God did it. Did God hold the sun in place so more people could get saved – did He do it so the doctor could heal more sick people? No, it was to help Joshua and his righteous men have more daylight in order to kill more people. I refuse to entertain this outlandish thought. My God wouldn’t assist the Jews at being more effectual killers anymore than He would assist Christians or Muslims attempt religious genocide.
Outlandish, God stops the spinning of the Earth as well as the orbit of the moon just so more people could get slaughtered. Wow! Listen Dave, like all inspired writings, there are many wonderful and enlightening passages in the Bible; however, like all other inspired writing which contain lies on God, there are things which should be omitted. My God would never assist anyone in genocide – ever. I am sorry that you and the Jews serve this kind of God; but I will stand here and proclaim; any place in any inspired writing where God justifies the murder of another human being is an outright lie – someone’s ego misrepresenting God.
No, they didn’t have writing; in fact most historians claim they didn’t have writing when Moses wrote his books either. I was implying, one would think there would be more than one story passed down about Adam.
If you only knew what a major deal it was a few hundred years ago to call the Earth round you would understand my indignation. I’m sure you have heard about it, but you have no idea how many great men were imprisoned and murdered to keep this truth from escaping to the populace. Why, because it would’ve cast doubt upon the infallibility of the Bible. Back then your simple belief in aliens would have cost you your life; as it contradicted the Bible’s proclamation of the Earth being the center of the Universe, and as David said in Psalms, the sun and all the stars travel from one end of the Earth to the other. You really should read some of the history books I have in my footnotes when you get to the chapter on ‘our church history’; it will blow your mind. And I might also add that most of these history books are written by Christian historians not atheists looking to slam the church. When you discover the enormous amount of atrocities committed by the very men we trust to put the Bible together; you will also doubt their credibility in keeping it pure and intact. (I am quite pleased that you believe in aliens, as it means you are open minded enough to consider some concepts which are laid out in my book.)
They were extremists then, as they are today; they were constantly proclaiming, all we ever needed to know, God has put in His book; so if something like this were to get out, the clergy would loose their power. And as a friend of mine once said, “You either believe the entire Bible or none of it.” Unfortunately, when I bring such things as I do to light, most people assume that I intend to discredit the entire Bible; but that is not my intention. I want people to at least consider that some of it may be askew. All these scriptures that condone murder in the name of God, for example, have caused the incessant murdering of millions upon millions from most of the world’s major religions. We must not allow these kinds of incredulous beliefs to continue any longer; we have the power to destroy the Earth now.
This is how I view all inspired writing: Whatever is true, noble, and in complete alignment with the God I serve is what I apply to my life. Whatever is in direct contradiction to the God I serve, I disregard. I don’t ignore scriptures that say my favorite sin is wrong just so I can continue a life of lasciviousness; I ignore scriptures like the ones that make killing in God’s name justifiable. I also, like you – who read a book about the devil’s philosophy from Hawaii and found some value in it and then applied it to your life; or like the new age book about your subconscious that made a huge impact in your life – I study other philosophies and apply the same exact principle to their writings as well.
God is absolute truth, and if I find something in Buddhism, for example, which cannot be seen in any other light than as absolute truth; I apply it to my life. If I find something in there which contradicts absolute truth I disregard it.
My goal is not to dissuade you are anyone else from their religion of choice. You found beneficial substance in two things outside your contemporary beliefs and you applied them to your life in a way that has enhanced your walk with God; and amazingly, you have not been led astray by the devil. My point is this: All people of all faiths should learn to be more open-minded; they can find a plethora of value in other religions while maintaining whatever faith they so desire to have. Then my next goal would be: In finding out how beautiful other religions are in their own rite; perhaps people will stop feeling the incessant need to prove their religion is better than another and hence we can put away the primitive need to kill for our religions.
Voltaire said: “As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities.”
“All murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.”
Between religion and philosophy; I choose philosophy. Between a hunger for knowledge and a blind faith satisfied with vicarious salvation; I choose hunger… Enigmatic Tzu
It should be apparent, I am quite familiar with Christian doctrine, especially in regards to the mortal danger I place my soul in by making such heretical assumptions. You know how Christians get to the end of a debate like this with an atheist and they cap it off with the statement “If you’re right, then I’ll go into oblivion, but what if I’m right; you’ll go to hell.” I have a far better understanding of this concept than any atheist; so wouldn’t it be much smarter for me to just shut up and conform? In light of the dangers I place my mortal soul in; what would consume me to continue to swim against the current? What could possibly be a reasonable explanation to such a precarious dilemma?
A) The devil has infiltrated my mind to an unimaginable degree
B) God has given me over to a reprobate mind
C) I’m the anti-Christ or
D) I know too much to turn back now, and of rational mind, I have discovered a religion, so to speak, above all Earthly forms of religion.
It’s like the innocent victims of the Spanish Inquisition for the crime of seeking a closer walk with Jesus. They so strongly believed they were doing the right thing; they firmly stood their ground through torture and even faced death bravely. They withstood the threat and commencement of one death; I stand defiantly in the face of an eternal death. Why?
Because my God must be of a higher moral character than me – He must be more unconditionally loving to His children than I am to my own children – He must possess more mercy, kindness, and acceptance of the most wayward sinner than I possess – otherwise He’s not a God worthy of my devotion; that’s why. If I could never give up on my children and cast them from my presence then My God could never ever do such a thing for all eternity. Look at the description of Heaven in Revelation; the saints all praising God while they can see the smoke rise up past of the eternally damned. Could you enjoy eternity if you were able to see your children in a place of everlasting damnation? It sounds preposterous.
I understand, many people would run uncontrollably wild without the fear of an impending future judgment and possible punishment, so I know why this mentality was established; but it’s sure a primitive way of controlling people, and obviously, it hasn’t fulfilled its purpose.
We treat others the way we treat ourselves, and we treat ourselves as we think our God treats us. So if you think your God is overly critical and judgmental of you; then you will be overly critical and judgmental of others. This is why I jump at any opportunity to forgive; because I am among the lowest order of sinners, and I want my God to be quick to forgive me. Give and it shall be given to you. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall see God. This is my goal, and I’ll be damned if Jesus wasn’t right; in the words of Mother Theresa, I see God in all His various and distressing disguises. And what of the opposite, those who are always seeing an enemy in others, they do not see God in all His creation otherwise they would recognize their brothers in all other forms of religion.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with your religion, or any other for that matter; as I was telling a kid yesterday; if going to church helps you get closer to God, then by all means go, there’s nothing evil in that – but, I added, the moment you start thinking I’m better than that sinner out there, or brother so and so because he only comes to church once a week; get out immediately, you’ve lost your propose. And no concept has been more detrimental to human welfare, or left more carnage in its wake then the religious concept of being separate and different from others.
I don’t know if you know what a Pantheist is; but it’s a person who believes God is in the entire Universe. You don’t know this yet, but I’m fairly certain you are a Pantheist; allow me to ask you a few questions to deduce this theory – I will take the liberty of assuming your answers. If my assumptions are incorrect, please correct me.
Do you believe God is infinite? Yes
Do agree the definition of infinite is: without boundaries and without limitations or subject to no limitation or external determination? Yes
Do you believe: if a person claims God is not in a rock, he has just placed boundaries and limitations on God; making Him finite? Yes
Therefore it is limiting to assume God is not in every portion of His creation. Which is why Jesus said shut my disciples up and these rocks will burst into cheers. Jesus knew what Pantheist freely admit, which is what you have always believed, but didn’t realize until this very moment; that God resides in all His creation. Hence, if this be the case then God is not sitting on some lonely thrown in some far away fairytale kingdom; He is here in all of us – even those who are not considered God’s chosen people. By the way, I should have mentioned this sooner, but I do believe the Jews are God’s chosen people; but so are the Navajos – Americans – Chinese – Hindus – sun worshipers – Aztecs – Vikings – Satan worshipers – Nazis – and anyone else who happens to be created by God – including aliens.
I hope this has been as enjoyable for you as it has for me.