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More Than A Feeling Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 11:47 AM
Original message
A challenge to my faith.
Edited on Sun Aug-20-06 11:49 AM by Heaven and Earth
I was reading an online book called "Stripping the Gurus", and its topic was the various misdeeds of said gurus. It pointed out that under the conditions created by the master/disciple relationship, there are very real dangers of abuse, similar to those in Zimbardo's prison guard experiment and Milgram's pain experiment. One of the points it made at the end was that the situation of Jesus, his disciples, and the early Christian community were not dissimilar to the conditions of modern gurus who were not worthy of the faith their disciples placed in them.

This brought to mind the story (in Acts) of the couple who sold a piece of land, but didn't give all the money to the Apostles to divide up, even though they lied and said that they had. Long story short, they both end up dead. What if they were murdered by the other disciples and/or the apostles for not being committed enough?

If all we had in a thousand years, were texts written by Moonies, how would we know that Rev. Moon wasn't a great holy man, but a supreme wacko?

I've been away for awhile, but there are those (Trotsky? Goblinmonger?) who might still remember me, and can attest that I'm a true blue Christian, so you know that I am not trying to offend my fellow Christians. In fact I could really use their help.

Has anyone else dealt with this issue, and how did you do it?
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cosmik debris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 11:54 AM
Response to Original message
1. 2 questions, no answers
Does your faith depend on the infallibility of the heroes in the Bible?

Does your faith depend on the infallibility of Bible stories?

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More Than A Feeling Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 12:56 PM
Response to Reply #1
10. Definitely "no" to the first one.
One of the better messages in the Bible is that God uses imperfect people. King David was a murderer and an adulterer, and God didn't withdraw his favor because he repented.

On the other hand, Jesus is supposed to be better than that. He's the sinless Son of God. If that weren't true, if he was a sinner like everyone else, and failed to resist the same temptations that modern charismatic religious leaders have, well, that undermines his claimed God authority, doesn't it?

The Bible admits that David was flawed. It specifically says that Jesus resisted temptation, in the story of his 40 days in the desert from Matthew.

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cosmik debris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 01:03 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. Jesus lost his temper
Edited on Sun Aug-20-06 01:03 PM by cosmik debris
In the story about money changers in the temple, Jesus shows his human side. If his perfection is the key to your faith, perhaps you need to reconsider why that is so important.
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More Than A Feeling Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 01:06 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. Unless that was how God felt about it, too.
"Sin" means to miss the mark, to be out of accord with God's will.
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cosmik debris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 01:25 PM
Response to Reply #13
18. I am just relating to the Baptist interpretation
Which is that the temple story shows that Jesus was human as well as god. I certainly doesn't surprise me that some people disagree with the Baptist interpretation.

But the point of my post was that if the infallibility of Jesus is the key to your faith, that is where you should focus your introspection.
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xchrom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 11:55 AM
Response to Original message
2. i guess i'm not totally getting the gist of what you are asking, but
rather than focusing on the literal -- i always focus on the transcendent message.

winners will always be the transcribers of history -- and our christian history is replete with scoundrels and is almost certainly about the search for earthly power.

but i am always coming back to the sermon on the mount -- or the eucharist.

these are just some examples of where i find myself.

but it's MY journey and relevant really only to me.

we each have to make our own...

but i can only say that literalness will always lead to deep misunderstanding and extraordinary abuse.

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hfojvt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 12:02 PM
Response to Original message
3. let me wash your feet
Matthew 23:11.

I cannot vouch for the early disciples, but the teaching of Jesus was such that the master was supposed to be a servant. A cult leader might kill himself and his followers, such as Jim Jones, but Jesus gave himself up as the sacrifice.

As far as Moon goes, if his teachings are of value, then it does not matter to me whether he was a whacko or not. His real self would be covered over by a virtuous myth and it is the myth - or the principles of virtue that are the key.

The first part of "let us be excellent to each other just like Rev. Moon" does not become bogus just because Rev. Moon was in reality non non heinous.
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Evoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 12:22 PM
Response to Original message
4. My question is: How do you know Christ wasn't a hypocrite"
No, I'm not trying to be offensive. But I have met MANY people who don't do as they preach, and talk about love and sacrafice, but they never mean themselves. How do you really know that Jesus wasn't using talk about peace and love and turning the other cheek, so he could get himself in a position of power? Just as often as he talked about love and peace, he talked about himself being the son of god. Doesn't this sound like a power play to you? Its something cult leaders do to this day.

I really don't understand how anybody can look at the bible and actually BELIEVE things in it, when in reality it was written by Christians who had nothing but fervent love for their leader.

But its all about the message, right? It doesn't matter who said it, its the message thats important, right? But the thing is...you can find that message in other places, and much more eloquently put.
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 12:24 PM
Response to Original message
5. If you really want to blow your mind
Read "A Canticle for Liebowitz" by Miller. I am shocked to find it still listed at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0553379267/104-3908151...

It's been an underground favorite for years.

Also remember that spiritual development is a path, not a destination. You're asking questions instead of taking what somebody else tells you and swallowing it whole. That means you're on the path.

Good luck on the journey.
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cosmik debris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 12:44 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. I haven't heard of that in years
But I do remember that it was a GREAT book, worthy of a second reading.
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 12:48 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. It's one I never let go of
I've been hauling it around with me since I was about 17, and that was a LONG time ago.
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okasha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 04:03 PM
Response to Reply #5
23. "Bless me, Father. I ate a lizard."
I think Canticle has been reissued a couple times recently. Marvelous book.

Check out Miller's short fiction, too.
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Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 12:34 PM
Response to Original message
6. The text actually makes it clear that God did not kill them for their
lack of commitment, but because of their deceitfulness.

Sometimes, it's difficult for us to understand the rationale behind the severity of God's punishments either in the context of the early church and of that of Old Testament times, but both were times when even natural atheists had to be blind in a particualrly wilful way, because of the many powerful miracles very widely witnessed and attested to.

I'm glad to see you're not about to 'jump ship' though, and join the ranks of the numbskulls (in this matter, at least) who scoff at the notion of Intelligent Design. The very word, 'design' implies an intelligent creator. It appears to have escaped their notice that chaos - the only antithesis of intelligent design or order - is not intrinsically given to transmuting into order.

Chaos doesn't require the will of God (proximately at least) or man to be what it is by its nature. It is by definition, unintelligent; just as design is by its nature intelligent. Order can revert to chaos and and design, disintegrate, but it requires an intelligent mind to restore either of them from their broken-down state, since the principle of chaos has not such ability in the least degree. Indeed, I suspect that there are few principles, if any, that are intrinsically more absolutely antithetical than chaos and order/design; or any principle more intrinsically sterile than chaos.

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Evoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 12:57 PM
Response to Reply #6
11. I don't mean to persecute you, dear Christian, me being a numbskull
Edited on Sun Aug-20-06 12:57 PM by Evoman
and all sir. But intelligent design is shite.
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SPKrazy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 01:09 PM
Response to Reply #11
15. LOL
could see that coming a mile away

and I don't know whether the poster is talking about the "Intelligent Design" proposed by the ID people, or just talking about their being an intelligent design to things.

The laws of physics seem to be intelligent in and of themselves for some reason.

but you are not a "numbskull"
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Evoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 01:17 PM
Response to Reply #15
17. Laws of physics only seem to be intelligent
Edited on Sun Aug-20-06 01:18 PM by Evoman
because we've lived with them for as long as we existed. I'm sure if there was another universe with a smaller gravitational constant where space was liquid, the Metallic organisms who breathed a carbon bonded to five hydrogens and could run faster than light, but never approach the speed of sound, would say, "Man..our universe is so intelligent....look at our physics, it could not be another way".
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SPKrazy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 03:42 PM
Response to Reply #17
22. And I Say They Would Be Right
since our universe is only one aspect of multiple universes and dimensions

it would be logical to assume one's own universe was intelligent

and since it is, they would be right

God is, and is in everything, and everyone- and every universe- and every dimension
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Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 01:52 PM
Response to Reply #11
19. Don't worry. It takes intelligent design to persecute me... Not
brilliant, just intelligent.
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immoderate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 05:39 PM
Response to Reply #6
24. Recommend you read "Chaos" by James Gleick
Or one of many other texts about Chaos Theory. It will be enlightening to learn how wrong you are.

--IMM
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hedgehog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 08:14 PM
Response to Reply #6
27. The account in the Acts is one interpretation of events.
Let's assume that a couple donates to the Church, claims to have given everything, then happens to die later on from drinking contaminated water or from small pox or whatever; at which point people find out they still have money stashed away. What killed them, the bad water or the wrath of God? We would blame the bad water, early believers finding out that the couple lied might say the wrath of God. It's just like what happens today when some people still insist on believing that Saddam had something to do with 9/11. The Bible was written by people looking at things from their point of view. Some of us happen to believe that the Bible is an account of people encountering God. Clearly not everyone who encountered God got it the first time around. Thus, people who strongly believed in vengeance or punishment would attribute these beliefs to God or even suggest that God approved of these beliefs and actions. I can only refer to Jesus's comment about the tower that collapsed in Galilee. He said that the men killed in the accident were no more guilty than anyone else in Galilee that day and that the rain falls on the just and unjust alike. In other words, Jesus said sometimes shit happens. Don't try to interpret events as God's judgment.
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Coyote_Bandit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 12:41 PM
Response to Original message
7. I have a theory
that says that many if not most people treat their faith just like they treat their investments. There is, after all, a reason why brokers are able to churn accounts and direct folks to invest substantial sums into shaky investments. Folks seem to recognize that those decisions are important but they are intimidated by the responsibility to investigate and make their own decisions. And because of that they are all too willing to surrender responsibility for whatever it is that they think they believe to some spiritual leader. As far back as the time of Moses, Scripture records that the people were fearful and did not want to hear the voice of the Lord - instead, they trusted Moses to tell them what to do. Problem is that spiritual leaders face the same temptations and experience the same failures as anyone else. If you trust them then you set yourself up to be betrayed.

If you are Christian then that means that you really do consciously choose to believe that Jesus was God incarnate. Otherwise, he is just another fallible human leader. It also means that you consciously recognize that you are not worthy and cannot make yourself worthy. The essence of the Christian faith is that God made redemption available. The sacrificial offerings detailed in Exodus and Leviticus which made the people ceremonially clean foreshadow Jesus' death. That redemption has nothing to do with trying to make oneself worthy - or being ostracized because of sin. Biblically, all sin carries the same penalty - death.

My solution has been to recognize that whatever I choose to believe is (1) my choice and (2) because of its nature not rational or subject to objective proof. Because I make myself responsible for my own beliefs it does not matter one whit to me what somebody else thinks of my belief system. Organized religion become largely irrelevant. It also means that I allow other people to make the same decisions - and I respect them even if they contradict my own choices.

That is the best answer I can offer. That said, let me add that I have far more respect for a well read, reasoned atheist or agnostic than I have for a believer of any faith that is driven by emotion or allows themselves to be subject to the control of a human leader. After all, it takes just as much faith to choose to believe that God does not exist as it does to believe that he does. Neither choice can be objectively proven and arguably there is circumstantial evidence that can be used to make either inference.

There is a reason why Scripture calls for believers to be able to give an account and answer for their faith. Unfortunately, that does not serve the interests of organized religion, leaders who wish to manipulate and control and followers who refuse to accept responsibility for their personal belief system.
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SPKrazy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 01:07 PM
Response to Original message
14. Not Taking It All Literally For Starters
I don't even know that Jesus ever claimed divinity, his followers claimed that he claimed it, but only in one of the gospels (John) which is a very different gospel than the synoptic gospels.

Jesus through the post Easter lens is likely very different than the Jesus that his disciples followed during his life.

Hindsight, embellishment, fallacy of memory, hidden agendas, all fall into place with the bible texts as we read them today.

I don't know how to answer your question in another way.
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More Than A Feeling Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 01:15 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus resists all the temptations of Satan.
Wouldn't that qualify as divine?
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xchrom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 02:15 PM
Response to Reply #16
20. i think jesus would resist the description of ''perfect'' as we have
been talking about it here.

he touched lepers -- and that was verboten in the extreme.

as already mentioned he lost his temper and reacted violently in the temple.

he prays damn hard that god choose a different path than his crucifiction.

his company was made of the underbelly of society at the time -- i take a lot of cues about that regarding his outward behavior and the societal norms.

all too often we want describe jesus in a way that is devoid of Meaning -- this flawless Lamb -- and that would render his existence meaningless.

when confronted with satan and his temptations -- jesus doesn't drive him off like a hero from mythology -- he ENGAGES satan -- he listens to satan.
and turns satan down --
he even visits satan before his resurection.

jesus is a man -- his divinity doesn't come from pure acts for me -- but the meaning of his life.
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Zebedeo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 01:39 PM
Response to Reply #14
26. Not only in John, but in all of the Gospels
Matthew 16:15-17 "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven."

Mark 14:61-62 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?" "I am," said Jesus. "And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven."

Luke 3:21-22 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."

John 10:30 I and the Father are one.


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hedgehog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 08:16 PM
Response to Reply #14
28. If everything we know of Jesus comes from his followers,
How can you say that Jesus never claimed divinity, only that his followers said he claimed it?
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TreasonousBastard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 03:40 PM
Response to Original message
21. In a thousand years...
Moon would be as forgotten as Aimee Semple McPherson or any other evangelist. Hubbard and his Scientologists and a whole host of others would probably also end up as footnotes like the Spritualists and Muggletonians. If we were somehow to lose so many sacred texts of the great religions, something terrible would have happened during that time, and glorifying Moon would likely be the least of the world's problems.

Christianity has a continuity going back 2,000 years, and is a relative youngster even at that compared to Hindus, Zoroastrians, or the Jews it sprung from. The same continuity applies to the Bible which is only to be read as a whole, and individual passages, while often memorable, cannot be read out of the context of the entire work.

Stories about the vengeance of God and his prophets and disciples cannot be read without a full understanding of the contract between God and mankind. The terms are tough, particularly on our part, but God has never broken that contract while we have, and always with dire consequences.





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lvx35 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:29 AM
Response to Original message
25. Its a great issue H&E.
Whatever they are, I believe that things that challenge our faith exist to burn off the false parts and bring us closer to truth. With this particular issue you are facing, I would interpret is as being a matter of spiritual growth. You are questioning whether or not Jesus was a quack or charlatan, and facing the fact that based of intellectual historical evidence you simply cannot know. That's great, really, because it makes you look at how you relate to God/Jesus HERE and NOW, rather than relating to an intellectual or historical concept. How does prayer/mediation make you feel now? How do Chist-like charity make you feel today? What does the Eucharist mean and who is that guy in the mirror afterwards with "The Blood of Christ" flowing through his veins, and is what he's doing worth it?

Know what I mean?
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TallahasseeGrannie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-23-06 11:40 AM
Response to Original message
29. You make some valid points
and we just don't know, I guess. My gut feeling is that about 10% of what we "know" is true, and I'm including everything in that...the evening news and the gospels. I play telephone a lot with my students. The message can get garbled very quickly.

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NAO Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-25-06 12:23 AM
Response to Original message
30. "Acts" is NOT historical. It is a purely literary creation.
Even many scholars who do think the Gospels have some historical kernel do not think that Acts does. It is a pure literary fabrication.

Notice that:

In Acts, Peter and Paul have the same number of speeches, and they say the same things. They even do similar miracles. In Paul's own letters, he describes his interactions with Peter MUCH differently. Paul NEVER talks about doing any miracles. He is RABID against circumcision, yet in Acts he circumcises Timothy.

Further, the story of Paul's conversion in Acts completely contradicts Paul's own story as given in Galatians 1. (The Acts story is also lifted from the II Maccabees 3 story of the conversion of Heliodorous.) Paul does not say anything about a journey to Damascus, or a light, and he says he did not meet with any man, but went to Arabia for 3 years.

There are dozens of reasons that have led critical scholars to believe that Acts is a literary creation through and through.

Acts was most likely written to "cinch" the emerging Roman Catholic hegemony by appropriating Paul away from the Marcionites and making him a preacher of orthodox brand of Christianity. No early Christians quote from Acts until Ireaneaus in about 180 AD, which means it was most likely not written until shortly before then.
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