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William Crawley | 10:24 UK time, Tuesday, 1 May 2012

I'm at the Grand Canyon in Arizona, spending a few days with the other Eisenhower Fellows and comparing notes on the various places we've visited and people we've met. Each Fellow is following a bespoke research plan, but, in a sense, we're all trying to understand the place of the US in the world today.


So far, I've been to Philadelphia (America's fifth largest city), Washington DC, Nashville and Dayton in Tennessee, Los Angeles and San Francisco. While in LA, I fell victim to that city's appalling air pollution: you can see the smog hanging over the streets. I caught a bout of acute bronchitis and had to spend eight hours in a downtown hospital's Emergency Department. It's nothing like "ER"; no, I wouldn't recommend it. LA isn't really a city; it's a clump of cities linked together by freeways. I visited Pasadena to meet Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary (now the world's largest seminary) and had lunch with three world-class historians of science at CalTech (the California Institute of Technology).


Richard Mouw, one of America's most respected evangelical thinkers, has spent more than a decade in theological conversations with Mormon theologians. He has a new book coming out soon which summarises his reflections on those encounters. But I can say this much about his findings: he rejects the claim that the Mormon Church is a cult, and argues that Mormonism is to Christianity what Christianity is to Judaism. I think his work will become important in re-locating Mormonism within American religious life.

Also in LA and San Francisco, I met with lawyers and activists working on Proposition 8. That was the California plebiscite which introduced a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. When it passed, it was a great surprise to everyone, because California is one of the most progressive (and Democrat) states in the Union. Now, two of America's best-known lawyers, Ted Olson and David Boies, are fighting to have the ban declared unconstitutional. Olson was George W Bush's solicitor general, so he's not regarded as a liberal voice in America's culture wars. But marriage equality, he says, is about American justice.

I leave the Grand Canyon tomorrow morning and make the six-hour journey to the airport at Phoenix, then travel to Kentucky for a visit to the Creation Museum to take a close-up look at another of America's culture was: the battle over intelligent design, creationism and the science curriculum.


Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Sorry to hear about your bronchitis, Will.

    Hope you're better now.

  • Comment number 2.

    Why has the open thread been closed? Three different contributors have addressed me and I want to know where I respond. Well?

  • Comment number 3.

    Will

    It is interesting for me to discover that one of America's most respected evangelical thinkers has concluded what he has regarding 'Mormonism'. For quite a long time I have felt strongly that a Church with authority, structure, gifts, revelation, doctrine, etc. did not exist similar to the church Jesus established before He left the earth. More recently I have started to investigate 'Mormonism' and so far I have discovered that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints appears similar to what I feel like the ancient church would have appeared.

    Almost every christian I have spoken to has been very critical of 'Mormonism', attacking it's leaders and doctrine. However, when I have spoken to members of that church, I have discovered, according to them, that much criticism is based on lies, half truths, things taken out of context and things not fully understood. Therefore, it is refreshing to hear that a respected evangelical does not view them negatively but quite the contrary. I look forward reading what he has to say.

  • Comment number 4.

    PTS (@ 2) -

    I think Auntie automatically closes threads after a month.

    Can you really blame her?

  • Comment number 5.

    Mr. Will,
    So sorry you were ill. The LA smog is unbelievable.Years ago I flew from LA to Arizona & from the air, you could see the yellowish smog extending all the way to the state line & beyond.Folks who don't think it's a serious health risk are kidding themselves.

  • Comment number 6.

    "Richard Mouw, one of America's most respected evangelical thinkers, has spent more than a decade in theological conversations with Mormon theologians. He has a new book coming out soon which summarises his reflections on those encounters. But I can say this much about his findings: he rejects the claim that the Mormon Church is a cult, and argues that Mormonism is to Christianity what Christianity is to Judaism. I think his work will become important in re-locating Mormonism within American religious life. "
    **********
    I'd not agree with his reasoning so much, but I've often thought that Jews see Christians somewhat in the way Christians may see Mormons.
    I have two friends who left mainline Protestant churches & became Mormons.It wasn't so much about the doctrine as the fact the LDS Church reaches out to families & supports them, keeps traditional values,etc. I went with one friend to a monthly women's evening-out where they had 2-3 different classes/activities offered & refreshments.I loved going there & the church members were kind & welcoming.I wasn't interested in becoming a Mormon but they were great, hardworking folk who not only talked about supporting families & their needs but actually practised it on a daily basis.

  • Comment number 7.

    lsv

    Thanks.

    I suppose not but things just start up again elsewhere and I feel awkward responding on another thread.

    In the past we have debated our differences and I am sure I upset you on a number of occasions. I know I have a different understanding from you on some issues but over time I have realised that there are many important beliefs we share. I have come to respect you as you take so much flak and still are able to respond to your detractors without 'throwing in the towel'. I am sorry for how I responded to you in the past and ask that you forgive me. From now on, I will try to be more courteous toward you.

  • Comment number 8.

    "Many of these particles and other pollutant gases are found in smog. Los Angeles continued its long winning streak as the smoggiest place in the United States again in 2011."

    https://articles.latimes.com/2012/feb/15/local/la-me-gs-la-air-pollution-may-increase-risk-of-stroke-20120214

    A person can carry a gun to protect himself against criminals, but when the air is the problem there is little that a person could do. It is good that Will has recovered and that Columbo has not been called in to investigate!

    The address of the Creationist Museum is easy to remember. What do bulls do?

    [Address removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 9.

    mscracker

    I have attended some 'Mormon' gatherings and I must say that I am impressed with the way they conduct themselves. From what I can make out it seems so organic with all members having some responsibility and functioning together, even the children, and the local 'ward' appears like an organism which is connected to a range of increasingly bigger organisms in fulfilling it's mission. It almost feels like 'home'.

  • Comment number 10.

    Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman were the only Republican candidates independent enough not to sign the personhood-for-zygotes pledge.

  • Comment number 11.

    Anyone care to help me with a working definition of a Cult in the context of this thread?

  • Comment number 12.

    11. Here ya go –

    Cult: any group with religious beliefs or practices, and that currently does not have a sect in the limelight that looks nice and appears more functional than other cults

  • Comment number 13.

    I’m sorry. Did I just give away the ending of his book?

  • Comment number 14.

    So glad Will is getting the chance to visit the Creation Museum, and to evaluate the scientific evidence consistent with the Christian position, according to the Bible.
    (Of course, most people here haven't been able to consider this evidence, since it is carefully censored by - among others - the BBC.) It may not change his own prejudices, but at least he will have the opportunity to look it over.

    Grand Canyon - 'the world's biggest hole'!......How was it formed? By a lot of time and little water? Or by a little time and a lot of water? Noah's flood still provides the best answer....IMHO.

  • Comment number 15.

    But I can say this much about his findings: he rejects the claim that the Mormon Church is a cult, and argues that Mormonism is to Christianity what Christianity is to Judaism. I think his work will become important in re-locating Mormonism within American religious life.

    The problem with this is that the kind of people who dismiss LDS as a 'cult' aren't likely to be reading, let alone be influenced by, Mouw. And those to the right of Mouw who have criticially engaged with mormonism don't simply dimiss it as a 'cult'. So who's his target?

    The second point is more interesting but Mormonism can't just be to Christianity what Christianity is to Judaism. It, too, must be something to Judaism.

    When it passed, it was a great surprise to everyone, because California is one of the most progressive (and Democrat) states in the Union.

    Progressive, now that's one loaded word.

  • Comment number 16.

    PP

    evaluate the scientific evidence consistent with the Christian position, according to the Bible.

    I love the way Answers in Genesis presents this scientific evidence,
    Using the Bible, well-documented historical events, and some math, we find that the Flood began approximately 4,359 years ago in the year 1656 AM or 2348 BC. Some may look for an exact date (i.e., month and day), but we are not given that sort of precision in Scripture.
  • Comment number 17.

    Andrew

    You say, "The second point is more interesting but Mormonism can't just be to Christianity what Christianity is to Judaism. It, too, must be something to Judaism."
    Is that the same way that Christianity must be something to that which existed before the religion of Israel and that Judaism must be something to whatever was before that, and so on?

  • Comment number 18.

    Andrew

    It just dawned on me that 'Mormonism' is 'something' to 'Judaism'. The Book of Mormon depicts the history and God's dealing with people from that religion who left Jerusalem about 600BC. Many of the 'Mormon' beliefs and teachings are from those people and from the historical brass plates they brought with them. So does that qualify 'Mormonism' as having a relationship to Judaism as well?

  • Comment number 19.

    @9. puretruthseeker ,
    I've had similar, positive experiences with Mennonite (Anabaptist) communities.Different doctrine & creed but same attention to families & members needs.It does feel like "family" & makes one better sense the shortcomings in our own faith communities.

  • Comment number 20.

    I was going to ask earlier, but there was an awful gust of wind blowing round the house...

    but, "and argues that Mormonism is to Christianity what Christianity is to Judaism."

    It is to this what this is to that?

    What can that possibly mean? Well, yes, I know there are possibilities, but what's his point?

    Did he say, William?

    Hope you feeling better; bad enough being ill, but being ill away from home.

  • Comment number 21.

    PTS

    Is that the same way that Christianity must be something to that which existed before the religion of Israel and that Judaism must be something to whatever was before that, and so on?

    I'm guessing that Mouw, or Will, means that Christianity came out of Judaism and similarly Mormonism came out of Christianity. That is to say that Christianity took Judaism in an unexpected turn and Mormonism took Christianity in an unexpected turn. Both take ideas, language from the old faith and reinterpret them in new ways, both add new to the old. Christians often say, for instance, that the New Testament is the fulfilment of the Old. Mouw seems to think that Mormonism does something similar with Christianity. If that's what he means then Mormonism isn't just related to Christianity it also must be related to Judaism, at least insofar as Christianity is related to Judaism. Mormonism is the reinterpretation and development of Christianity, which is the reinterpretation and development of Judaism.

    So I'm not talking about a regress into the land before time but the hermeneutical relationships between the three faiths. And from what I can see, although it appeals to both Old and New Testaments there is absolutely no reason to give Mormonism any credence whatsoever as an interpretation, fulfilment or unfolding of the bible in the same way I give credence to what the New Testament does with the Old. Of course, Jews disagree but that's life.

    Ms Cracker

    I've had similar, positive experiences with Mennonite (Anabaptist) communities.Different doctrine & creed but same attention to families & members needs.

    Community can be a big draw; warm fuzzies and all of that. It's also important but not of first importance.

  • Comment number 22.

    Dot

    You need to be careful with those gusts! You don't want Return Return to...I don't want it either. A clockwork solider indeed! Who would have thunk such a thing? One can only imagine what would be found next. Does 4g work in Oz yet?

    As I say, I'm guessing what Mouw means but who knows?

  • Comment number 23.

    21. Andrew,

    That’s what I thought Mouw meant, too. But if that’s the case, then wouldn’t Islam be to Christianity what Christianity is to Judaism? And if so, I don’t know where that puts Mormonism. An extra wing-?

  • Comment number 24.

    Andrew

    Once in Oz, always in Oz, if you see what I mean... (actually I'm not sure I see what I mean). As for 4g - who needs 4g when you have faster dual-core slippers?

    Yes, (and marieinaustin too), that is what Mouw seems to mean, but that would leave a wild lot of this to thats and the others, and it doesn't entirely clear up what he means. Maybe he just means that evangelicals would be better off with Mormons than atheists. Perhaps Mormons are to atheists what atheists are to Christians? There are a few interesting links here:

    https://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/10/09/my-take-this-evangelical-says-mormonism-isnt-a-cult/

    (Paul, you can read Mouw’s “working definition” of 'cult' in this one if you wish.)


    https://www.fuller.edu/About-Fuller/News-and-Events/News/2012/Dr--Mouw-Comments-in-New-York-Times-on-Evangelical-and-Mormon-Theology.aspx

    https://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/15/us/politics/evangelical-christians-unease-with-romney-is-theological.html?_r=2


    But at least we have our definition of the Trinity at last in the NYTimes piece, "On the most fundamental issue, traditional Christians believe in the Trinity: that God is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit all rolled into one."

    ...all rolled into one... I think it's the use of cliche in journalism which I object to the most...

  • Comment number 25.

    Here is a discussion on Moronism from last Wednesday's Night Waves presented by Anne McElvoy that may interest some.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01ghgm2

  • Comment number 26.

    Dot

    Yes, a wild lot of thats and the others, 'so what?' springs to mind.

    In the linked op-ed he seems to be saying 'if they're not a cult they're alright with me'. Not perfect but alright. I can't shake off Trueman's inner monologue occasioned by an open theist arguing with a Presbyterian who insisted that they both 'love Jesus'.

    'Yes, you both do; it's just a shame you don't agree on who He was or what He did.'

    Soft balling Mormonism is poor form. Mouw, and Fuller, shouldn't be soft balled either, but I'm in danger of side tracking. C.S. Lewis an eeeevangelical? Eh? I like Lewis but surely not? What's an evangelical, again? Anyone not in a cult?

    I'm pleased to see the NYTimes has so perfectly crossed their "i's" and dotted their "t's". It sounds like a sales pitch. Three for the price of 1. The JML multi-god. The Swiss Army God. The all singing, all dancing, genuine article.

    Marie

    I can't say I know much about Islam, pining as I do for the end-time inauguration of Wodsian England.

  • Comment number 27.

    Thanks Pete
    LDS not a cult because they ...." sponsor a law school or offer graduate-level courses in world religions."
    Not a definition to be found in the OED then.

  • Comment number 28.

    Since the other active thread was just locked, let me use this one to point out this evenings episode of This World on BBC 2, 'The Shame of the Catholic Church'

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01h7m8r

    Decades of clerical abuse and cover up have left the Catholic church in Ireland at breaking point. Now Darragh MacIntyre reveals new evidence of a scandal that goes to the very top of the Irish church.

  • Comment number 29.

    Dot Gale

    You ask in response to Andrews original remark, "It is to this what this is to that?

    What can that possibly mean? Well, yes, I know there are possibilities, but what's his point?"

    And ANDREW attempts to answer in response to me, "I'm guessing ... Christianity took Judaism in an unexpected turn and Mormonism took Christianity in an unexpected turn." He then goes on to say, "Both take ideas, language from the old faith and reinterpret them in new ways, both add new to the old." If that's all Christianity did then it was only a schism of Judaism. It is my understanding that Christianity corrected misinterpretations of ideas and language, and showed how, through Jesus Christ, the old was fulfilled. Those who clung to the false interpretations did not recognise the Saviour when He walked the earth. Jesus, therefore, established a new order regarding worship, church organisation, doctrine, etc. in order to fulfill the wishes of the Father.

    Christianity corrected the apostasy of Judaism. Now, when Mouw makes the comparison, could he not, inadvertently, be prophesying that 'Mormonism' is correcting the apostasy of christianity? It would fit in with Mormon doctrine that an apostasy ensued after the demise of the early apostles and error has reigned until the church was restored in 1830 as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

    When the journalist used the phrase, 'all rolled into one' when they were referring to the Godhead, they cannot be blamed for their understanding. I have not been able to understand any christian's explanation of the 'trinity' and would agree with the journalist that this is the way it appears to come from a christian standpoint. The understanding of the Godhead would have been explicit and simply understood in the times of the early apostles. By the time we get to 325AD heresy and error had entered the Church and overtaken it. It is no wonder that we have a 'creed' that is impossible to understand when the definition was put together by those who didn't understand the nature of the Godhead. Nowhere in the Bible does it refer to a '3-in-1 God. It was made up by men without authority. 'Mormonism' has corrected that notion. When Joseph Smith went into the wood to pray about which church he should join he emerged from that wood and corrected centuries of error. While he was praying God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him with an answer to his prayer. In so doing they corrected the notion that Jesus and the Father are one and the same person. So, maybe Mouw is uttering more truth than he really thinks when he claims that 'Mormonism is to Christianity, what Christianity was to Judaism. Maybe 'Mormonism' can clarify more than we care to accept because we have been blinded by apostasy and error and can no longer tell truth from fiction.

  • Comment number 30.

    Andrew

    You say, "And from what I can see, although it appeals to both Old and New Testaments there is absolutely no reason to give Mormonism any credence whatsoever as an interpretation, fulfilment or unfolding of the bible in the same way I give credence to what the New Testament does with the Old." What if you are wrong? Is it not likely that many religious Jews in the time of Jesus would have been saying the same thing about His Church?

  • Comment number 31.

    A cult is a group of people who take their religion more seriously than you take yours.

    Christianity flows naturally and historically from Judaeism (if you believ that Jesus is the Messiah). Mormonism is a strange off shoot based on the delusions of one person. Very similar, I suppose, to Islam. Koran and Book of Mormon both supposedly written almost directly by God and thus very different from Christian or Jewish scriptures.

  • Comment number 32.

    21.At 22:02 1st May 2012, Andrew wrote:
    Ms Cracker

    'I've had similar, positive experiences with Mennonite (Anabaptist) communities.Different doctrine & creed but same attention to families & members needs. "

    Community can be a big draw; warm fuzzies and all of that. It's also important but not of first importance.
    *************
    Thanks. I agree & that's why I am still a practising Catholic.But one who can learn from & appreciate other faith traditions.

  • Comment number 33.

    @31.Fionnuala:
    I'm a Catholic & believe that Jews are indeed our "older brothers" in the Faith, but I think Jews would have major difficulty in accepting Jesus as the Son of God, Messiah,etc.Perhaps to Jews we are "the strange offshoot" & Our Lord would be the one who was delusional. Not to be disrespectful or sacrilegious, but I think they see it a whole different way than we do.

  • Comment number 34.

    Darwin is cool and god don't show your face in school is my motto when mumbling to myself in the USA.

  • Comment number 35.

    Andrew

    He could be saying any number of things. I’ve tried (little to do) to find something online which might give some more detail on what he means, but there isn’t any, not that I can see anyway.

    As for ‘evengelical’, or, let’s face it, ‘Jesus’, or ‘God’ or much any religious language, I’m fast coming to the conclusion that the word, when used, means, “they agree with me”, or ‘I’m right.’ - e.g.

    ‘Do you follow Jesus.’

    ‘Oh, yes, he agrees with me, you know.’

    or

    ‘Are you an evangelical?’

    ‘Yes, I’m as close to God as it gets.’

    Pity really. When a word can mean anything, it probably means nothing. Maybe we should start to spell it - 'evangelic-huh-l'?

  • Comment number 36.

    PTS

    First of all I wouldn’t go rushing to equate “the wishes of the Father” with establishing “a new order regarding worship, church organisation, doctrine...”; I think I’d want to say that Jesus was more central to the whole thing, and he was Jewish, so, for a start, I’d be seeing a 'continuation of', rather than a 'discontinuation of', in the word fulfilment.

    But, yes, Mouw certainly could be saying, “'Mormonism' is correcting the apostasy of christianity”; but that’s the point, really, no one seems to know what he means, and let’s not forget the US political context of this as well.

    You see, if he’s saying that christianity is an apostasy (and we’d have to ask, ‘of what?’), then that would mean Mouw wasn’t a Christian, never mind an evangelical, or if he was, he’d be saying he was an apostate something.

    And then if Mormons were saying that Christianity (and by implication, evangelicals) were ‘apostates’, then we’d have to ask why they wanted to be ‘Christians’. Interestingly in the NY Times article, we can read:

    “Mormonism is a distinctive religion,” David Campbell, a Mormon and an associate professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame who specializes in religion and politics. “It’s not the same as Presbyterianism or Methodism. But at the same time, there have been efforts on the part of the church to emphasize the commonality with other Christian faiths, and that’s a tricky balance to strike for the church.”

    and then we have this (from a liberal Christian institution) with regard to aspects of Mormon doctrine:

    “That’s just not Christian,” said the Rev. Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary, a liberal Protestant seminary in New York City. “God and Jesus are not separate physical beings. That would be anathema. At the end of the day, all the other stuff doesn’t matter except the divinity of Jesus.”

    At the moment, I’m with the liberal, and I’m not supposed to be liberal, and Mouw’s supposed to be an evangelical, and evangelicals aren’t supposed to be liberals (or Mormons)

    And then there’s the Trinity...

    Religion? Eh! Eh!

    BTW I happen to take the view that a journalist writing in something like the NYT should at least *try* to use appropriate language. The writer doesn’t have to endorse a doctrine, or understand it, but he/she could at least say something like, ‘when historic creedal Christianity used the term Trinity it was an attempt to describe that God eternally exists as three persons, and there is one God’. They don’t have to explain it, but they could do better than ‘shake, rattle and roll’.

    And why does everyone want to be a christian anyway? It's enough to make you want to be an atheist!

  • Comment number 37.

    What if you are wrong?

    We all face that question. What if indeed!

  • Comment number 38.

    @36. Dot Gale
    And why does everyone want to be a christian anyway? It's enough to make you want to be an atheist!
    **********
    I'm not sure that everyone does want to be a Christian, at least not consciously, but I know of Christians who've been asked why they radiated such peace,joy, charity,etc & were then given opportunity to witness about their Faith.Consequently the person who posed the original question had a conversion experience & became a Christian or returned to practising their Christian Faith.
    The other, less happy scenario is that folks see people, who identify themselves as Christians, but are not practising love nor charity, having no peace nor joy, & they might then pose the question :why become one of those?

  • Comment number 39.

    mscracker

    I should apologise; I was being flippant about the way in which we use certain words in the Christian world. What I was saying is that we seem to want to use ‘god words’ to affirm ourselves - it’s kind of the opposite of the doctrine of justification - which is odd if you think about it.

    But it highlights that there is something missing in this age of expressionless internet communication - smilies just don’t cut it - we need to find some way of communicating a voice.

    Anyone? You could be the next twitter.

  • Comment number 40.

     
    #29

    puretruthseeker,

    "Christianity corrected the apostasy of Judaism."


    You remind me of an Episcopalian cleric who told me, in all seriousness, that "A Christian is a fulfilled Jew. A Jew is an unfulfilled Christian."


    Arrogant nonsense. Judaism stands alone, and has no need for Christianity. Not then. Not now.

  • Comment number 41.

    @Peter M

    In all the unfinished business on the dead thread, yours is the most interesting. I'm off on holiday tomorrow for a week, so hopefully there'll be another open thread or conversation here will have drifted in a related direction so I can pick up where we left off. If not, I could try a tortured, Thought For The Day style of segue: "It struck me that the relationship between Judaism, Christianity and Mormonism is a little bit like the Texas Sharpshooter Effect..."

    Or I could do a blatant hijack - it seems to work okay for Theo-everyone-who-disagrees-with-me-is-baby-killing-communist-phane.

    And in that spirit I leave you with this from ex Anglican Priest Eric McDonald about meaning in a world without gods.

  • Comment number 42.

    grokesx (@ 41) -

    And in that spirit I leave you with this from ex Anglican Priest Eric McDonald about meaning in a world without gods.


    From the article:

    In the end, the only significance lies in the things themselves, and what meaning we can give to them.


    In the light of this, I must admit that I do find Eric MacDonald's criticism of Fr. Barron rather curious.

    That’s why Robert Barron can come out with the nonsense represented by the short video clip above. And it is a nonsense, almost as nonsensical as it’s possible to be, a bit like the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland.


    If meaning is entirely subjective - i.e. it's completely down to us to ascribe meaning to "things" - and all ends in complete oblivion, then presumably MacDonald would have to accept that Fr. Barron is only doing what he is recommending.

    Cont...
  • Comment number 43.

    Continued from post #42 -

    In fact, I can't really see how there is any basis to criticising anyone for anything they say at all, if meaning is entirely subjective. If there really is no objective meaning, and atheism really is true (whatever "true" is supposed to mean in a philosophy in which mind and reason are merely material), then all Fr. Barron is doing is finding his particular subjective meaning in criticising atheism. (Or is it a case of: "you can think what you like as you long as you acknowledge that atheism is true"? "And if you don't, then we'll change the rules of the game." So much for subjectivism!)

    Of course, MacDonald could claim that he doesn't need to be logical (in the fine tradition of misrepresenting Godel). But then why should anyone bother paying any attention to him? If that is the case, then he has written an article that has the same persuasive force as one which expresses his own personal fondness - or otherwise - for Marmite. So what?

    Cont...

  • Comment number 44.

    Continued from post #43 -

    I suppose one could say that MacDonald is only finding his subjective meaning in life by calling the views of people like Fr. Barron "nonsense". So therefore it is legitimate.

    Yep. I suppose one could say that. But then that would only show that Fr. Barron's view about existentialism is correct. Or not... if you don't believe in logic...

    And then we're back to Alice...

  • Comment number 45.

    Fionnuala @ 31

    There was no natural flow. Quite the contrary. The early Christian Church looked nothing like the Jewish Church at that time in all it many facets.

    'Mormonism' isn't an off-shoot of christianity in the same way that early Christianity was not an off-shoot of the Jewish religion of that time.

    'Mormons' do not claim that the Book of Mormon was, "...written almost directly by God...". They claim it was written by men who were authorised by God and that it was translated from it's original language into English by a man authorised by God. So, it is like the Christian and Jewish scriptures in the first sense that they were written by men authorised of God. However, unlike the Book of Mormon they were not, and have never been, claimed to have been translated by men authorised by God.

  • Comment number 46.

    Dot Gale @ 35

    Off course Jesus was born a Jew; after all, the Old Testament scriptures prophesied that the Messiah would come from the linage of David. However, it appears that Judaism had lost it's way by the time of Jesus's birth. It's leaders and most of it's people had fallen into error. They had looked beyond the mark and failed to see the Saviour among them. They were so far removed from God that they crucified His son. There was so much error within Judaism that it was only universal truths that were continued through Christianity and even they were made more explicit and clear. The early Christian Church started from scratch with simple, yet upright men and women chosen to lead it. In it's practices, liturgy and perspective it bore no resemblance to Judaism and, therefore, it would be less correct to see it as a continuation than a complete new way.

    'Mormons' consider themselves to be Christian because they claim to follow Jesus Christ. The first principle of their belief is, "Faith in Jesus Christ" (Articles of Faith). The second principle is repentance of sin through the atonement of Jesus Christ. The 'Mormons' believe that Jesus is at the head of their church and that He directs it through a prophet. Why wouldn't they think they were 'Christian'? In reality, it wouldn't really matter if the myriad of other 'Faiths' didn't think it an issue. Unfortunately, I suppose other christian religions get a bit uneasy and insecure when a leading Mormon says, "But it’s as though we feel we have a broader circle of truth"; much like the way the apostate Jews felt in the days of Jesus.

    I suppose the 'Mormon' church just want to be accepted and be allowed to get on with what it is doing. In a day of equal rights and anti-discriminition policy it just wants to be treated the way it would treat other religionists.

    As for the Godhead, Rev. Serene Jones says, “God and Jesus are not separate physical beings." You follow that up with, '...God eternally exists as three persons, and there is one God’. Where in the Bible do you get this idea? Try explaining this to a young person or someone who never heard this type of concept before and see if they understand it. I must say that for most of my life I have tried to understand this concept and I can't. I have asked countless people who claim to believe it to explain it to me and they have just shown me that they do not understand it either. Maybe the 'Mormons' are right when they claim that our Heavenly Father is different from His son Jesus Christ and that they both have bodies of flesh and bone while the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit, but that they are one in purpose. I could explain that to a young person and they would have no problem understanding it.

  • Comment number 47.

    Scotch Git

    I wasn't meaning to sound arrogant. Neither was Jesus. Then, look what they done to him. So, sorry if I offended you.

  • Comment number 48.

    @42. logica_sine_vanitate ,
    Thank you for mentioning Fr. Robert Barron. My son gave me his DVD series for Christmas. I highly recommend it.

  • Comment number 49.

    "I caught a bout of acute bronchitis and had to spend eight hours in a downtown hospital's Emergency Department."

    Did you meet Hugh Laurie? Seriously, sounds nasty, hope you're better now. On the subject of 'culture wars'. There's a theory which i find quite intriguing, that Joseph Stalin unleashed the Great Terror in the 1930s, when people started discovering that he had at one stage been an informer of the Tsarist secret police, betraying fellow bolsheviks for the sake of personal enrichment. More concretely, we know that Lenin was essentially a German spy, being placed like a 'bacillus'* on a sealed train which passed through Germany on its way to Petrograd in April 1917. Well, what also interests me, is the idea that in the person of Marie Stopes, we are also dealing with someone who was in fact a German, though in her case also a nazi, spy. Not only did she attend a nazi 'population control' congress in Hitler's Germany, and not only did she actually write love poetry to the fuhrer, but she studied for her Phd (in Palaeobotany) at the University of Munich. Her work of destroying the moral as well as physical essence of our nation, by the method of destroying our unborn children, continues with brutal efficiency to this day. In fact one could almost say that she makes the soviets look amateurish.

    *not sure if this was Robert Hamilton Bruce Lockhart's expression.

  • Comment number 50.

    40.At 22:57 2nd May 2012, Scotch Git wrote:

    #29

    puretruthseeker,

    "Christianity corrected the apostasy of Judaism."


    You remind me of an Episcopalian cleric who told me, in all seriousness, that "A Christian is a fulfilled Jew. A Jew is an unfulfilled Christian."


    Arrogant nonsense. Judaism stands alone, and has no need for Christianity. Not then. Not now."
    **
    Well, I don't see apostasy connected to Judaism, but as a Christian I do see Jesus, as Messiah, to be a fulfillment of Jewish prophecy and all our Christian traditions to be rooted in Judaism.

  • Comment number 51.

    @49. Theophane,
    Hello!
    Thank you for your post.I have to admit I've seen the name "Marie Stopes" but had never read about her life.I guess our own Margaret Sanger took up much reading time & resulting revelations.
    This particular thread being about America & Culture Wars, I saw this incredible series of articles from the Winston Salem, North Carolina newspaper:

    " Lifting the Curtain On a Shameful Era "
    Thousands were sentenced to sterilization during rubber-stamp hearings in Raleigh
    By Kevin Begos
    JOURNAL REPORTER

    They were wives and daughters. Sisters. Unwed mothers. Children. Even a 10-year-old boy. Some were blind or mentally retarded. Toward the end they were mostly black and poor. North Carolina sterilized them all, more than 7,600 people.
    For more than 40 years North Carolina ran one of the nation's largest and most aggressive sterilization programs. It expanded after World War II, even as most other states pulled back in light of the horrors of Hitler's Germany.
    Contrary to common belief, many of the thousands marked for sterilization were ordinary citizens, many of them young women guilty of nothing worse than engaging in premarital sex.

    I don't want it. I don't approve of it, sir. I don't want
    a sterilize operation.... Let me go home, see if I get along all right.
    Have mercy on me and let me do that.
    — A woman pleading with the eugenics board, 1945.
    The sterilization program ended in 1974, but its legacy will not go away. Many of its victims are still alive and they bear witness to a bureaucracy that trampled on the rights of the poor and the powerless."

    https://againsttheirwill.journalnow.com/

  • Comment number 52.

    puretruthseeker (@ 7) -

    In the past we have debated our differences and I am sure I upset you on a number of occasions. I know I have a different understanding from you on some issues but over time I have realised that there are many important beliefs we share. I have come to respect you as you take so much flak and still are able to respond to your detractors without 'throwing in the towel'. I am sorry for how I responded to you in the past and ask that you forgive me. From now on, I will try to be more courteous toward you.


    No problem at all.

    I am not expecting people to hold back from expressing their point of view in a robust way. I actually prefer that. For years I have had to put up with the subtle and insidious culture of censorship in the church, where you are afraid to challenge any comment for fear of being accused of being "unloving" or having a "critical spirit".

    Cont...
  • Comment number 53.

    Continued from post #52 -

    I feel much safer in a place where I can express my point of view openly and vigorously, and, of course, I don't expect (or have any right to expect) other people to be less vigorous.

    So do feel free to challenge what I say.

  • Comment number 54.

    @LSV #42-44

    Of course, MacDonald could claim that he doesn't need to be logical (in the fine tradition of misrepresenting Godel)

    If you think that's what I've been saying before, then you've not been paying attention. Still, I suppose that means I'm just hiding behind "I didn't say that" to get out of answering the argument that I never made that nevertheless managed to find its way into your head.

    But you could try putting your objection to Eric - he's quite active in his comments.
    For myself, your argument might hold some water if human beings were a solitary species who come together to mate and fight and not much else. But such a species would not be able to articulate their subjective notions very well and would have no one to argue about them with.

    We are social animals, and are concerned with the social life. Our reality consists of an objective world and our subjective interpretations of it, which in turn effect the objective reality. We wouldn't be communicating as we are doing if that were not so. Things matter to us as individuals, as families, as societies and as many other groupings, secular, religious and even hobbyist. Meaning comes out of the interplay between all of these factors and is not locked in our own heads. The problem you highlight is real, that is why we have discourse, politics, philosophy, science and the rest. But that’s all we need: the arbiter in the sky (who always seems to agree with the one invoking him, funnily enough) is the lazy way out.

    We're talking intersubjectivity here. The link is, fittingly, from Wikipedia, which is intersubjectivity converted into electrons. Anyway, the money quote:
    Intersubjectivity emphasizes that shared cognition and consensus is essential in the shaping of our ideas and relations. Language, quintessentially, is viewed as communal rather than private. Therefore, it is problematic to view the individual as partaking in a private world, one which has a meaning defined apart from any other subjects. But in our shared divergence from a commonly understood experience, these private worlds of semi-solipsism naturally emerge.
  • Comment number 55.

    Grokesx

    First up, I hope you have a great holiday.

    I read the Eric MacDonald piece, interesting, and all the more so for him being an Anglican in a previous life.

    I wonder though if theists and atheists are in danger of mis-reading one another on this business of God, life and meaning. When I have had these kinds of discussions in the past, the point of tension which has been uppermost in my mind has been the incongruity which arises from the statement that everything, in the end, comes to nothing - we simply don’t live like this - people live as if there is an eternity - people live beyond the moment; it’s why we remember, it’s why we seek to ‘hold on’, it is why we plan for a time that we cannot see - we don’t live thinking, ‘Nothing’. This problem is compounded when people use words like ‘illusion’ to describe life, not just religion - it’s not the atheists who say they have meaning who bother me, it’s those who say that there is no meaning who bother me.

    So I’m not saying that atheists can’t have meaning in their lives. Of course atheists have meaning, and very often it is exactly the same kind of meaning that theists have, and it’s worth something, it’s worth a lot; it’s not simply a matter of saying that we loose meaning when we loose God - for a start, some people have never ‘had God’, yet have had much meaning, and one can understand how MacDonald can write that the loss of God can lead to great fear, but that this isn’t an issue for everyone.

    However, we still have a problem - I don’t so much see the question as ‘can we have meaning without a ‘Living Personal God’, but, ‘what do we mean by ‘meaning’’, or ‘truth’, or ‘justice’ or ‘love’ or ‘purpose’ - what *are* these things? Why do we have them? What does it mean to ‘long for justice’? What does it mean to ‘long for truth’? Are these ‘momentary’, for again, we don’t live this way - we are a contradiction onto ourselves - longing isn’t momentary.

    We have forever been grappling with these things, and saying, like MacDonald, that ”those who now believe will find much more in life to celebrate if they can only give up their hopeless beliefs in non-existent beings who are thought to watch over us”, is all very well, but I don’t think them ‘hopeless’, and am going to argue that they *can’t* be hopeless, even if untrue - for, even then, if all comes to nothing, they are my way of making meaning “for my time” - “In the end, the only significance lies in the things themselves," he says, and this is my significance. This isn’t an argument against faith, and can’t be.

    And here is where, for me anyway, the linked article became real interesting. McDonald (preacher that he is) does a bit of biblical interpretation for us, from Ecclesiastes, casting the ‘Preacher’ in the mold of atheist, and in doing so he overlooks the (to steal an Ecclesiastes type phrase) ‘the last of things’ - Ecc 12: 13-14. Here the ‘Preacher’ looks at the fatalism, cynicism, pessimism, hedonism and fleeting nature of life and says, “God.” “God,” he says, “will determine your meaning.” MacDonald, however, sees the same and says, “Find your own.”

    Christianity isn’t saying that we can’t have meaning without God, it is saying that God defines what meaning is; perhaps that’s the real rub - I want to kick against that as much as anyone.

    In a sense the article is saying that in the end it's, Jesus or nothing... which is what we Christians have been saying all along.

  • Comment number 56.

    PTS #46

    Your first paragraph would fine if it were not for this:

    ”They were so far removed from God that they crucified His son.”

    We all did. That’s the point. Me, you, anyone who claims his name. I am the enemy of God, we all were, all of us who claim his name. There are none of us more ‘upright’ than another; there is no one with a “pure heart” (Psalm 24 if you want the reference) - there is no “They”, there is a “me” who was so far removed from God - that’s the point of Jesus in historic Christianity - it’s why we say he is God.

    As for the trinity, we’ve been here before, and apart from the fact that I was making a point about journalism, your view seems to be that if only we could describe God in a particular way, he would be easier to understand. Well, give him a body if you wish, and make the Holy Spirit a “personage of spirit” if you wish, but it would be a mistake to assume that changing the words makes it easier to understand.

    The problem is the ‘God’ bit. That’s the bit that’s difficult to understand, it isn’t the theological language we use to describe him.

    But read what I said again, I said, “when historic creedal Christianity used the term Trinity it was an attempt to describe..."

    It’s an attempt to describe a variety of tensions:

    “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." - Father/God

    Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God” - Son/God

    Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” - Spirit/God

    I’m not *explaining* it, I’m *stating* it - that’s what the doctrine of the Trinity does.

  • Comment number 57.

    @55.Dot Gale,
    That was a very good post.Thank you.

  • Comment number 58.

    Dot Gale

    Yes, great posts.

  • Comment number 59.

    #47

    puretruthseeker,

    It is the implication that the birth of Christianity renders Judaism superfluous that winds me up. Having said that, my #40 does come across as rather abrupt.

    I apologise for the tone, if not the content.

  • Comment number 60.

    #50

    mscracker,

    Thank you for your considered words. Please, feel free to correct me, but my understanding is that at the Council of Jerusalem Paul aka Saul of Tarsus moved the goalposts and decided that the Law of Moses was no longer necessary, or even desirable. This, I am led to believe, marks the moment when Christianity moves from being a Jewish sect to a separate religion.


    Indeed, I would suggest that what we call Christianity could be more accurately described as Paulism.


    Am I wrong?

  • Comment number 61.

    In a sense the article is saying that in the end it's, Jesus or nothing... which is what we Christians have been saying all along.
    But depending on where you are born it could mean, Allah, Jahweh, Nirvana, the Dreaming, Valhalla... You takes your choice.

    Except that you don't. If, as seems the most likely to me, all the god beliefs are all equally false - beguilingly so, but false - we are left with dealing with reality or not dealing with it. And to be honest, the fact of an indifferent universe where you take what goodness you can find is a sight less horrible than what many Christians believe. Who wants to live in eternal bliss when some people you knew and loved are spending that same eternity in torment? How is that even possible? An even if you manage to convince yourself that those who are not saved are just "separated from God" or some such platitude, that still means anyone who doesn't believe pretty much exactly what you do is forever lost to you. What sort of sadist dreamed that up?

    Anyway, I wish I had more time, but I'm off to contemplate Homer's wine dark sea with retsina in hand.

    Laters.
  • Comment number 62.

    I wonder if, like children or young people, none of us can ever fully grasp the fact that we are not going to be here on earth like this. Yet we know people die – a lot, all the time. And the sacrificial religions mollify Survivor’s Guilt. However, they are only fairly successful, because the sacrifice or memory of the sacrifice needs to be repeated. Because we know we’re going to die, but we’re living now, and others are not. And we equate death with punishment*, because we fear the unknown. And we survive by living in the ‘it couldn’t happen to me/us’ – even, or especially, death, ..and so, by God, it will not.

    * punishment for not being perfect, pristine, clean, unblemished; punishment for being what is called alive.

    We’re taught we can’t even trust ourselves. And we love and hate our descendants – What if they make something out of their life that we didn’t? What if they disprove our waste and worry? What if they, the lovely little vermin, tell us we are good enough – as is? That death and what comes after, or doesn’t, is not a punishment – for anything?

    I’m afraid we don’t have anything to be afraid of, except maybe worry worry.

  • Comment number 63.

    @60. Scotch Git:
    I think, in a deeper sense,it's more about the Old & the New Covenants than about St. Paul, & the issues addressed at the Council of Jerusalem seem to be more directed at the Gentiles.The Jews already were circumsized, etc. Jesus had "moved the goal posts" for salvation, not St. Paul.
    Changing conversation: what does "Git" mean? (I know what it means here , as in: "I'm gonna go git me some supper", etc)

  • Comment number 64.

    @62. marieinaustin,
    I agree with you about worrying!
    Gandhi had good insight on it:

    "There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever."
    Mahatma Gandhi

    (I'm often guilty of worry, myself.)

    Hope you have a great weekend!

  • Comment number 65.

    #60, Scotch

    You are definitely wrong.

    It is for the same reason that nobody in these modern and chaotic times refers to Muslims as Mohammedans (M word). All my Muslim friends detest the later M word, they worship Allah not the prophet Mohammed. Even though the English Language invented the M word long time ago, nobody uses it today. It is wrong and politically insensitive. I am Indonesian, I know.

    No Christians worship Paul, but they learn a lot from him.
    May I know why you ask this question? When all Western Media defer not to use the M word when referring to Muslims, you remain in ignorant of modern nuances and suggested Paulism.

  • Comment number 66.

    #63

    mscracker,

    Collins English Dictionary definition -

    git noun British slang 1 a contemptible person, often a fool 2 a bastard [from GET (in the sense: to beget, hence a bastard, fool)]

    In my case it's a term of endearment!


    >8-D

  • Comment number 67.

    #65

    sizzlestick,

    No-one is suggesting that anyone worships Paul. My point is that Paul got his own way at the Council of Jerusalem, and as a result is much more influential than he would otherwise have been.

    It was Paul who decreed that circumcision was no longer a prerequisite for male converts to Christianity, and Paul who argued in favour of abandoning Torah.

    (see Galatians 2:21 - Galatians 3:10 - Romans 3:28)


    This is the reason I employ the term Paulism, to reflect the dominance of his position in the church.

  • Comment number 68.

    64. mscracker,
    Thanks for the Gandhi quote. I worry much less than I used to! :o)

    63. mscracker,
    I’m fixin’ to git dinner. I hope you git in a good weekend for yourself!

  • Comment number 69.

    Yep, here we go again ‘new lamps for old lamps’ approach.
    I am a member the largest protestant church in Indonesia, HKBP, which was founded with the help Rhenish Missionary Society, an organization associated with German Lutheran/ Reformed churches. HKBP is a member of the Lutheran World Federation.
    Some of my Roman Catholic acquaintances told me that the term “Lutheran” was a derogatory term in the old days. As the Catholic Church had a standard legal practice of naming a heresy after its leader, while prosecuting heresies.
    Hence, my emphasis on: “modern nuances”.
    Git over it, nothing new and special from you.
    Even if, Judaism has the same tradition of the Roman Catholic Church of yesteryears.
    Are you Jewish?

  • Comment number 70.

    "...the California plebiscite which introduced a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. When it passed, it was a great surprise to everyone"

    Blimey - who wouldn't be surprised? Banning same-sex marriage? Next thing you know, you won't be allowed to marry your sister, or a farm animal, or anything! Meanwhile, one of President Obama's masterstrokes has been to allow openly gay men to serve in the US military. This clears the way for homosexual quotas in the military, then - why not? - entire homosexual regiments. But the question is, would it make NATO look very different from the way it does already?

  • Comment number 71.

    #69

    sizzlestick,

    Is this a wind-up? I'm not claimimg original insights, but the questions are new to me. e.g., had it not been for Paul's views on marriage, would Roman Catholic priests be obliged to remain celibate? I'm not aware of that being a tradition in Judaism. Maybe you can ask your friends! (Acquaintances?)

  • Comment number 72.

    71, Scotch

    “… a wind-up?” It’s in your own mind, not mine.

    Since, you are “new”. I am glad I can enlighten you in the ‘nomenclature business’ relating to faith-based matters.

    Re: celibacy matter.
    I cannot help you; if some people insist to go ‘the don’t do’ way; who am I to say I know better.
    I have enough problems controlling my urges.

  • Comment number 73.

     
    I don't feel enlightened. Maybe it's me...

  • Comment number 74.

    mscracker, #51;

    "I don't want it. I don't approve of it, sir. I don't want
    a sterilize operation.... Let me go home, see if I get along all right.
    Have mercy on me and let me do that.
    — A woman pleading with the eugenics board, 1945."

    These are heart-rending words. I can't halp thinking how much more desperate would be the plea of a precious, defenceless unborn baby, who can't speak for his or herself, and will never have a chance to prove that his or her life was worth living. May the Good Lord receive them all into His Loving embrace, and touch the hearts of those who think a baby has to be 'wanted', in the same way that one would 'want' a car, or a pet, or a phone.

    On a brighter note, i've recently met two of your compatriots, very bright young people, from Massachusetts and Ohio. May God bless America!

  • Comment number 75.

    On Canyons and Culture Wars

    I wonder how many are aware of what appears to be a new grand canyon in ulster.

    And specifically in the Free Presbyterian church of Ulster. A Grand Canyon of sorts, a Giant split in its solid ground. One of it's co-founders on one side and the culture of the church on the other.

    Dr Paisley, who in the eyes of many, myself included did a U~ Turn when he went from Ulster says NO , and Never Never Never...Never, to power sharing with an arch enemy of Ulster, well, it would appear from Rev Ivan Foster's website, the big man did another U Turn. …But what was most heart-breaking for many was the attendance at the service of Dr Ian and Mrs Paisley. The man, who for many Christians, was an instructor in righteousness and a guide on the solemn issues of separation from ecumenical apostasy, sat through a service in which a Romanist priest led the congregation in prayer and the Church of Ireland Bishop of Connor, among other things, prayed for the dead!

    Rev Ivan Foster points out on his website For a Christian to be present while a Roman Catholic priest officiated and prayer for the dead was offered is to condone their erroneous views and endorse their falsehoods. Furthermore, it is to deny the distinctive witness of true Biblical Christianity and the stand and witness of the Free Presbyterian Church.

    What saith the Scripture? Rev Foster quotes several scriptures including
    “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath ighteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” 2 Corinthins 6:14, KJV. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” 2 Corinthians 6:17, KJV.

    Rev Foster concludes by saying " Such Scriptures as those quoted above were repeatedly quoted by Dr Paisley as he pressed home the path of duty for the believer faced with ecumenical apostasy. It saddens me to quote these glorious truths in these circumstances but God’s Word remains true and must not be defied by any."

    Can the Free Presbyterian Church survive this canyon?

    I seen a Christian advert in the back of a car one day, it said God allows U-Turns,

    Will He allow this one? or more importantly, Will The FPC survive it?

  • Comment number 76.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 77.

     
    gerry,

    If you like, I can introduce you to someone who can enlighten you in the nomenclature business relating to faith-based matters.

  • Comment number 78.

    @74. Theophane,
    Thank you for your comments.I hope God continues to bless America, too.Glad you were able to meet some young folk from the States. My son will be travelling to the UK next month.I hope he makes a good impression, also.

  • Comment number 79.

    66.At 20:48 4th May 2012, Scotch Git wrote:
    #63

    mscracker,

    Collins English Dictionary definition -

    git noun British slang 1 a contemptible person, often a fool 2 a bastard [from GET (in the sense: to beget, hence a bastard, fool)]

    In my case it's a term of endearment!


    >8-D
    **
    Thanks for the explanation/translation.

  • Comment number 80.

    Dot Gale @ 56

    Sorry for the delay.

    You put thing well but your understanding is much different than mine.

    The Jewish leaders at the time of Jesus were in an apostate state and with no prophet to lead them fell into error and misunderstanding. In this state they were unable to understand the scriptures which prophesied both of the first coming of Jesus as 'the lamb' and the second coming to reign at the millennium. Looking beyond the mark they believed, wrongly, that the Messiah would come according to those prophesies which referred to His second coming and missed the first event. Therefore, in their ignorance they crucified their God. I had no part of it. Don't, however, be mistaken that I do not accept that I added to His pain in the Garden of Gethsemane when He bled from every pore and my pain added to his burden.

    His crucifixion was prophesied in the Old Testament (Ps. 22:16, Isa. 53:12, Zech. 12:10, 13:6) and He came to the earth at a time and place when those who should have recognised Him failed because of their spiritual condition.

    I accept that after He suffered vicariously for every person who ever lived and would live, He was battered and abused by His captors and in an extremely weakened state He was nailed to a cross to complete the atonement. While on the cross the price required to redeem His Father's children was fully paid and He gave up His life in order that He could take it up again as the firstborn of all those who would live again; all of us - me, you and everybody else.

    I believe that Jesus's atonement had two parts. The first part in the Garden overcame spiritual death and would open the door for all those who would have their sins forgiven and the painful consequences of those sins, that has caused so much mental pain among God's children, to be removed. the second part overcame physical death and is a free gift to all Heavenly Fathers children - see 1Cor. 15: 21,22.

    When you say, 'I am the enemy of God, we all were...' I have to say that I cannot accept this. I am a child of God who makes mistakes and ceases to obey Him at times in the same way I disobeyed my earthly parents. My disobedience never made me an enemy to my earthly parents in the same way it doesn't make me an enemy to God. He is more understanding and forgiving than my earthly parents and perfectly loving. I know He loves me and we are not enemies.

    When you say there is no more upright than another, I disagree. Psalm 24 does not support your view. You have misread the passage. Verse 4 answers the question, 'Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?'

    The 'trinity' confuses our understanding of God. My view is if we understood God then we would be in a better position to describe Him, not the other way round as you seem to understand me. You have mistakenly stated the scriptures as the 'trinity' mistakenly states the doctrine of the Godhead.

    Why don't you consider the baptism of Jesus by John when all the members of the Godhead were present - yet separate. Or, read again the stoning of Stephen when he declared that he saw Jesus on the right hand of the Father. Or, consider the words of Jesus at John 17: 11 when He talks about His followers being ONE as He and the Father are ONE - and again at verse 21 and 22. If I am one of those am does that make me a member of the Godhead too?

    For a long, long time we have been fed the lie about the Godhead by way of the 'trinity'. It is a manmade concept.

  • Comment number 81.

     
    Only a cynical git would suggest that perhaps the writings of the Prophets were consulted before the Gospels were written.

    Not to mention disputed interpretations.

  • Comment number 82.

    PTS

    No worries about the delay.

    There are a number of things I could say by way of reply, however, when you write, "we have been fed the lie about the Godhead", I hesitate, for your mind appears fixed.

    Likewise, regarding the use of the word 'enemy', you drive a wedge between the concept of 'enemy' and 'love' which the bible does not drive, indeed it uses one to establish the other.

    And, yes, Psalm 24, who may ascend the hill of the Lord?

    So I'm wondering, would it be better to simply say, yes, we disagree, greatly, or should we pursue a conversation.

  • Comment number 83.

    Dot Gale @ 82

    In some things my mind is fixed, especially when I have thought something and have been enlightened to understand it was something else - then my mind is fixed never to go back to the thing which I erroneously believed. Regarding the 'trinity' I am convinced there is no evidence for it in the bible. Instead there are passages, such as I have pointed out to you and I can produce another few dozen if you wish, which suggest the Godhead is something different from the concept of the 'trinity'.

    How do I drive this wedge you talk about?

    It's up to yourself if you want to pursue a conversation or not, although going by my experience on this blog many others tend to ignore me when I produce scriptures which they never considered before in the context I present them. So, it won't surprise me if you don't.

  • Comment number 84.

    PTS

    "although going by my experience on this blog many others tend to ignore me when I produce scriptures which they never considered before in the context I present them"

    My wondering was a genuine wondering, and I hardly think that suggesting continued conversation is to ignore you; my concern is that we interpret things differently - with regard to the trinity for example, that is clear. And I really don't think that batting back and forth bible references will change much. I just don't see where this can go, this is not about ignoring you; but I do think you are getting tripped up by a word, for I doubt very much that you can explain God any better than anyone else.

    "How do I drive this wedge you talk about?"

    You drive the wedge with your own words: "My disobedience never made me an enemy to my earthly parents in the same way it doesn't make me an enemy to God. He is more understanding and forgiving than my earthly parents and perfectly loving. I know He loves me and we are not enemies."

    In contrast to this, Colossians 1 and Romans 5, highlight the depth of God's love by describing us as enemies. The description is clear. Paul links the themes rather than forcing them apart... "For if..."

  • Comment number 85.

    There is one thing I admire about Will and his blogging, he is so contemporaneous.
    But posters here go on and on about arguments made in the past. Take the ‘there is no Trinity’ concept. We still talking about it when Judaism,Arianism, Islam, Buddhism, Hindusim, Mormonism, etc, etc don’t care one cent of its worth.
    There is nothing new and special about some posters’ pondering over it. It had been argued ad nausem since Jesus departed from Earth.

    Everytime I meet detractors, I say the same thing :

    You got all the arguments lined up and so do I, what we are going to do next will be just replays what had been said before. I can tell you without any consternation; even TV Show Business doesn’t bother with. It is no help with ratings.
    The very fact that you are aware and want to argue about it. Only proves that the Holy Spirit is trying to work with us.
    I heed the admonition “Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is an unforgivable sin”.
    Perhaps self-reflection and self-debate are best for you. Then, you can get the feel of the Holy Spirit descnding on you.

  • Comment number 86.

    Dot Gale

    We started to discuss together when I made the remark, ”They were so far removed from God that they crucified His son.” in relation to the Jews. The main Jewish church at the time appeared not to be in communion with God or else they would have recognised His son. It would be reasonable to say that at that point they were an enemy to God.

    You responded to my remark by saying, in relation to crucifying Jesus, that, "We all did. That’s the point. Me, you, anyone who claims his name. I am the enemy of God, we all were, all of us who claim his name."

    From what you have written, and maybe I haven't been paying enough attention, I thought you were a christian of some sort. If you are then I cannot understand your statement that "we all did" - in relation to crucifying the Saviour and "I am an enemy to God..."

    You refer me to Romans 5 which states at verse 10, "For if, when we were enemies we were reconciled to God...". 'WHEN WE WERE', is past tense. Having been reconciled to God we can no longer consider ourselves enemies to Him but we become the "offspring of God" (Acts 17:29) and, "if a son, then an heir of God through Christ" (Gal. 4:7).

    Again at Colossians 1 you need to note that when Paul at verse 21 said, "And you, that were sometimes alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled. Again Paul is referring to what we were like and our current state. "Sometimes' means formerly and 'YET NOW' implies present tense. If we are reconciled we are no longer enemies. I suppose that,s all I was trying to say.

  • Comment number 87.

    sizzlesticks

    I think your comments are unfair and show that you are not following the debate. A contributor posted a link in relation to the head of the Fuller College, who Will spoke with. It was an article in the New York Times by a journalist who gave his own definition of the 'trinity'. So, the 'trinity' is a valid subject to cover within this thread. Furthermore, as you almost correctly state, the Godhead has been, 'argued ad nausem' since the authority departed from the earth sometime after the demise of the Apostles. I suppose it will continue to be until we have a correct understanding of the relationship between the Father, Jesus and the Holy Ghost. Some of us have turned to self-reflection and feel the need to share what we have discovered. Is there anything wrong with that?

  • Comment number 88.

    87, plain.

    I am surprised that you had only met ‘cottony candy Christians’, that you had to call me “unfair and… not following the debate”.
    You should follow BBC News, and you’ll come across “hard and sharp-edged” Christians e.g. Pope Benedict XVI, Bishop Henry Luke Oromobi and many more.

    You referred to NYT article as support. But, it has been reported that NYT’s profits and revenue had been declining. Had I not pre-empted you with my comments “It is no help with ratings”?

    I introduced to you in my No.85 a lot of proper nouns that do not fret over The Trinity. You could choose one and not get into this ‘no Trinity’ muddle. Isn’t modern life wonderful, there are enough religious conveniences to choose from?

    You asked “Is there anything wrong with that?”
    Yet, you didn’t rebut any of my points. I have to take it that I had said more than enough to answer your question.

    Look at Will, he is very good at what he does, he is with the times and modern, too.

  • Comment number 89.

    sisslesticks

    A lot of what you say I don't fully understand and I am trying to second guess you but that becomes difficult and unwieldy for me to respond in a way that would show you respect. However, if you think the subject of the 'trinity' is not valid then why not just keep out of the debate?

  • Comment number 90.

    89, pureTS

    Yep, here we go again the 'don't understand foreigners' English' approach.
    pureTS, click on my 'nick' profile to confirm that English is not my first language.

    You ask me to keep out of a debate, which you so happily and publicly participate in the BBC part of cyberspace.
    Come on please, BBC is a news provider of events and opinions, and has been very kind to all of us by inviting us in, as guests.

    You have not rebutted anything I said, because you don't want to sound 'disrespectful' to me.
    Don’t worry about me; I can take all that the world can say about me.
    Give me your best shot.

    Why the obsession in bringing out same ol’ same ol’ arguments about the 'No Trinity'.
    We are in the modern age, for me, personally, it’s terrible to sound so yesterday.

    Once again, Will is doing a smashing good job here. I know it is too presumptuous of me to teach you how to read this piece.

    So may I very humbly suggest this: can US Americans surmount the theological belief-gap and face the prospect of actually electing a President from a non-mainstream religion? We have only to completely downplay the doctrinal differences.
    Then, the ‘real’ test of suitability for a US President could be of a more mundane and secular stuff: economic public policy, defence of the realm, etc.

    So, where exactly is the concern for the Trinity or No Trinity?

  • Comment number 91.

    sizzelstick

    Im sorry if you have taken offence, it wasn't intended.

    I didn't ask you to keep out of the debate I said, "...if you think the subject of the 'trinity' is not valid then why not just keep out of the debate?" There is a big difference between what I said and what you think I have said.

    The debate started over Mitt Romney religion and whether it was Christian or not. A prominent evangelical theologian believes that 'Mormons' accept Jesus Christ in the same way that Christian denominations do and that they are not a cult. Others point to the difference between 'Mormon' doctrine and that of the consensus of Christian churches. One of those differences is the doctrine of the Godhead. As the 'Mormons' have, as I do, a different understanding of the Godhead it leaves some people concluding that the 'Mormons' are not Christian as they have a different God than the one 'christians' worship. I added my bit to the debate because I do not understand the concept of the 'trinity' but have believed, unbeknownst, all my life with the understanding the 'Mormons' have. The concern about the 'trinity' is, if 'christians' accept the concept of the 'trinity' then they may be doing so erroneously. If that is the case I feel it my duty to point this out and support it with scripture. If I am wrong then I am open to correction.

  • Comment number 92.

    91, pureTS

    Good-bye;
    as me and my mates are going to watch my Chelsea whacked Liverpool in about an hour's time, in a 24-hours coffee-shop. This is the main reason why I am awake at Singapore time 0200 hrs., 09 May 2012.

  • Comment number 93.

    #86

    puretruthseeker,

    Re: Opening paragraph

    Crucifixion is not a method of execution permissible in Jewish law.

    The Romans, however, crucified thousands.

  • Comment number 94.

    Scotch Git @ 93

    The Romans nailed Jesus to the cross but the Jewish leaders of that time put Him there. It is they who did not recognise their Messiah and it was they who caused Him to be crucified.


    John 19:11 the Jewish leaders delivered Jesus to Pilate accusing Him of sedition.
    John 19: 12-15 the Jews forced Pilate to execute Jesus.
    Matt 27:22-25 the Jews accept responsibility for their actions
    1Thes. 2:14-15 Paul, a possible enemy of the Christians at the time of Jesus's crucifixion, lays the blame on the Jews.

    So, what are you saying?

  • Comment number 95.

    #94

    puretruthseeker,

    "John 19: 12-15 the Jews forced Pilate to execute Jesus."


    Really? Pilate was a tough cookie, according to Philo and Josephus. I very much doubt that a man who could answer the question "You and whose army?" could be forced to do anything. (Except, maybe, by his wife).

    Still, your admission that he and the men under his command were responsible is welcome.

    Thank you!

  • Comment number 96.

    Scotch Git

    If it hadn't been for the Jewish leaders the Romans would have had no interest in Jesus. I have not admit that Pilate and his men were responsible for Jesus's crucifixion. They may have carried it out but Pilate really wanted no part of it. He even tried to have Jesus released when he had the people to judge between Jesus and Barabas. The Jewish people assembled there voted in favour of Barabas, prompted by their leaders. Paul was a contemporary off those who called for Jesus' execution knew who was responsible(1Thes. 2:14-15) and the Jews themselves accepted that responsibility(Matt 27:22-25). Google the verses. I am not saying that Jewish people are responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus. I am saying the Jewish leaders of that time were. Is that clear?

  • Comment number 97.

     
    "Is that clear?" Is that necessary?


    "Google the verses." Great advice when preaching to the converted. Alas, not everyone regards your New Testament as Holy Writ.


    #80

    "Looking beyond the mark they believed, wrongly, that the Messiah would come according to those prophesies which referred to His second coming and missed the first event. Therefore, in their ignorance they crucified their God."

    1) I am unaware of any prophesies in the Hebrew Bible which refer to a "second coming".

    2) The notion that a man can also be a god owes more to Greek and Roman mythology than to anything written in the Hebrew Bible.

    3) You have already admitted that Jesus' crucifixion was carried out by the Romans.

  • Comment number 98.

    Scotch Git @ 97

    You say, "...not everyone regards your New Testament as Holy Writ."

    What is 'Holy Writ' then?

    Does that mean I cannot refer to the New testament when I am putting forth my points?

    If you do not regard the New Testament why then do you refer to it when you are making your points?

    Just in case you have forgotten I will quote what you said in your post at 67. "My point is that Paul got his own way at the Council of Jerusalem, and as a result is much more influential than he would otherwise have been.

    It was Paul who decreed that circumcision was no longer a prerequisite for male converts to Christianity, and Paul who argued in favour of abandoning Torah.

    (see Galatians 2:21 - Galatians 3:10 - Romans 3:28)" Tut tut.

    In response to point 1:

    Job 19:25
    Ps. 24:7, 102:16
    Isa. 40:5, 45:23, 52:8,10, 63:1
    Jer. 31:34
    Dan. 2: 44, 7:13
    Joel 3:16
    Mich. 1:3
    Zech. 12:10, 13:6, 14:4 (quite unmistakable)
    Mal. 3:2

    It was verses like these that the Jewish leaders of the day did not understand due to their apostate state. The were out of synch with God and saw Jesus Christ as a dangerous impostor who they thought was misleading the people. All of these scriptures point to a time when Jesus will return in a glorified state which the Jewish leaders were hoping for the first time. I could go into more detail but if I started I wouldn't know where to stop. Hopefully the above will suffice.

    In response to point 2)

    Gen. 1:26 "let them have DOMINION..." Sounds a bit like a graded response to Godhood.
    Gen. 3:22 has the GODS stating, "man has become like one of us".
    Ps. 8:5,6 man being put in charge of the works of God's hands appears like training to me.
    Ps. 82:6 Has the LORD stating, 'ye are gods, and all of you are children of the most High" What else could this mean if those who He referred to were not already in the process of achieving Godhood?

    I could give you another dozen references in the New Testament if you like.

    In response to 3:

    The Romans crucified Jesus only because He was given an unfair trial and condemned by the Jewish leaders. Albert Pierrepoint hung many people but the responsibility for their sentences lay with the judiciary not Albert. So if you are trying to twist my words to appear that I am laying the blame of Jesus' crucifixion at the feet of the Romans, you are mistaken. I do not blame Judaism in the same way that I do not blame the German people for what the Nazi's done. I hope that's not too muddied.

  • Comment number 99.

    Richard Bauckham's essay 'Paul's Christology of Divine Identity'

    www.forananswer.org/Top_JW/Richard_Bauckham.pdf

    His essay 'God Crucified' in his book 'Jesus and the God of Israel' is also well worth reading.

  • Comment number 100.

    #98

    puretruthseeker,

    "Tut tut."

    Should I feel guilty for pointing you towards sources you regard as credible?


    My response to your response to point 1:


    Job 19:25 - Are you confusing the text with the hymn?


    Psalm 24:7 - "Psalm 24 is a psalm of celebration affirming God's kingship;"

    Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok


    Psalm 102:6 - Can't work out why you included this in your list. Typo?


    Isaiah 40:5 - The exile in Babylon is over.


    Isaiah 45:23 - The Almighty proclaims his righteousness and demands recognition.


    Isaiah 52:8,9,10 - Why exclude 9? God will redeem (there's that word again) Jerusalem and be reunited with His people in Zion.


    Isaiah 63:1 - "God's vengeance for Edom's persecution of His people is described through dialogue between an anonymous onlooker and God himself, as if He were a warrior coming from a destructive attack on the Edomite city of Bozrah."

    ArtScroll commentary


    Jeremiah 31:34 - The Almighty forgives Israel.


    Daniel 2:44 - Daniel interprets the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar.


    Daniel 7:13 - "This is the King Messiah." (Rashi).


    Joel 3:16 - A reference to the Almighty.


    Micah 1:3 - A reference to the Almighty.


    Zecharia 12:10 - The Almighty defends Jerusalem. Read the whole chapter.


    Zecharia 13:6 - Nice try, but poor translation and lack of context. Read the whole chapter.


    Zecharia 14:4 - A reference to the Almighty.


    Malachi 3:2 - A reference to the prophet Elijah.



    My response to your response to point 2:


    Genesis 1:26 - It does? Jeezo...


    Genesis 3:22 - Yeah, just as he was being banished from the Garden of Eden. Again, lack of context. Is the plural Elohim confusing you?


    Psalm 8:5,6 - King David giving thanks to God appears to you like training?


    Psalm 82:6 - Lack of context. Read the whole chapter.



    My response to your response 3:


    Later, dude.

 

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