Monday, June 23, 2008

Christ-killers and Time-machines and blood sacrifice...oh my!

It's been a little while since I posted. Generally it's been because of the summer season conspiring against my need to engage with people on matters philosophical and theological, but I digress...

I've been wanting to bring this subject up for a long while now and I haven't known quite how to broach it. The subject I'd like to discuss is the penchant for some of those who claim to be Christian to attach a label to those of the Jewish persuasion. That label is a horrible one: Christ-killer.

First an emphatic disclaimer: I do not in any way believe that ALL those who would call themselves Christian or a Christ-Follower believe that the Jewish people are 'Christ-killers'.

What is the basis for leveling such a charge at a whole group of people who weren't even present at the doleful events described in the Gospels? When is it EVER acceptable to hold accountable the descendants of those purported to have caused, through action or inaction, some horrible event?

Would it be acceptable or fair for an American of African descent to hold some American of English descent accountable for the evil of American slavery?

I think most if not ALL of my theistic friends who come here to read my verbal regurgitations would agree with me that the whole 'Jew = Christ-killer' math is horribly wrong and misguided.

This line of thought does however pose more interesting questions. That said I'd like to unpack this a little further so I ask your indulgence as I engage in a measure of temporal experimentation.

Suppose one of us had access to a time machine.

You could go anywhere in the past and you could interact with persons in the same way you do with people in your everyday life. Putting aside the arguments of temporal paradoxes such as killing your father before he and your mother engaged in the act that conceived you. What would you, the prospective time traveler, do with your power to change history for the better?

Would you act in such a way as to prevent the trial and death of Jesus Christ?

The reason I ask is this: The aforementioned people who would ascribe the label of Christ-killer to the Jewish people betray a certain unhappiness with the Jesus' end and a wish that he had not been killed. Why should this be so? It seems to me that the entire narrative of the 'Good News' is that Jesus came here to die for the sins of all past, present and future. So why should any believer in Christ and his work be upset that Jesus died? He did his job as prescribed and you are all the beneficiaries.

It seems to me that saving Jesus from the cross is much different than saving Lincoln from John Wilkes Booth. My reading of history tells me that saving Lincoln may very well have saved the South from a humiliating and punishing Reconstruction period as Lincoln very much wanted to bring the South back into the fold in a much more compassionate and forgiving manner.

To wit; What would have been the fruits of rescuing Jesus from the mob in the Garden of Gethsemane? Had he not died in the manner recorded would that have detracted from his general message? What is the voodoo or magic behind the blood-sacrifice of an innocent that somehow miraculously assuages or cures the blight that possesses all sinners provided they accept said innocent as his Lord and savior?

Isn't it more likely that the stories of the Gospels are better taken as mythological truths that convey a deep meaning but need not be taken as literal truth?

I don't claim to have all the answers I just ask the questions and see where the queries lead...

Discuss!

R.

61 comments:

Tam said...

"It seems to me that the entire narrative of the 'Good News' is that Jesus came here to die for the sins of all past, present and future. So why should any believer in Christ and his work be upset that Jesus died? He did his job as prescribed and you are all the beneficiaries."

right on!

so none of this really makes sense at all.

well said Robert. Thanks!

ill be over soon for that mojito ;-)

BuddyO said...

Dude, what a pain to try an leave a comment... I'll try again.

Would it be acceptable or fair for an American of African descent to hold some American of English descent accountable for the evil of American slavery?


This happens all the time doesn't it? There's a whole debate about reparations going on. Our mutual blogger friend 'Christian' (sharpiron) carries quite a bit of guilt about this.

Would you act in such a way as to prevent the trial and death of Jesus Christ?


Definitely not. You said it well. If Jesus doesn't die, than He doesn't overcome death and consequently there is no 'Good News'. Besides, I don't think I'd be successful even if I wanted to... I might get some details of the story to change, but the end result would be the same. If God wants something to happen, it will happen.

Isn't it more likely that the stories of the Gospels are better taken as mythological truths that convey a deep meaning but need not be taken as literal truth?

No, not really...

People who use these types of terms (IMHO) don't really get it. That being said, I don't really feel comfortable passing judgement on them either. The thing is none of us is perfect. The 'Good News' is that God doesn't expect perfection. Just as easily as I might condemn or judge someone for calling someone a 'Christ Killer' someone else may look into my life and find plenty to judge.


BTW: How do you subscribe to feeds on your site?

SirRobert said...

Tam & Buddyo

So in answer to my question neither of you would intervene in any way to stop the events as described in the four gospels?

This is where our differences come into sharp relief. I could not sanction the execution of an innocent for any reason....even the redemption of untold billions. Which leads to my deeper question why is it necessary to shed the blood of an innocent to wash away iniquity? If it is a matter of communicating with primitive people in a way sure to get the point across...I can understand that. Naturally the next question becomes how does such seemingly pointless cruelty and barbarism apply to the modern age?

Don't misunderstand me. I see value in much, NOT ALL, of the morality that Jesus tries to convey. However the doctrine of blood sacrifice is deeply disturbing to me on MANY levels and seems far beneath the God that you would ostensibly have me bend my knee to.

R.

SirRobert said...

BuddyO said:

"This happens all the time doesn't it? There's a whole debate about reparations going on. Our mutual blogger friend 'Christian' (sharpiron) carries quite a bit of guilt about this."

I respond:

While am decidedly against reparations for slavery...(Who pays? My ancestors weren't even here during the scourge of slavery. Do we do genealogical research on all citizens to decide who profited from the institution of slavery? Ridiculous.)

That said...I truly believe the united States Government bears responsibility to admit the error of sanctioning slavery and offer an official statement of complicity if not guilt and a formal apology. An argument could be made for such a statement regarding the treatment of Native Americans, as well as one offered to Japanese Americans interred during WWII. Only by admitting the mistakes and sins of the past can we hope to begin to heal the deep wounds that are aggravated from time to time.

This is way off topic but i felt compelled to voice my opinion.

R.

Tam said...

Jesus' sacrifice was to abolish the old law - the old way of sacrifice. He as Gods son was the only way to get to God. He knew his purpose.

Hebrews 8 6 and following...


6 But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for he is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises.

7 If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it. 8 But when God found fault with the people, he said:

“The day is coming, says the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel and Judah.
9 This covenant will not be like the one
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
and led them out of the land of Egypt.
They did not remain faithful to my covenant,
so I turned my back on them, says the Lord.
10 But this is the new covenant I will make
with the people of Israel on that day,[c] says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their minds,
and I will write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
11 And they will not need to teach their neighbors,
nor will they need to teach their relatives,[d]
saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’
For everyone, from the least to the greatest,
will know me already.
12 And I will forgive their wickedness,
and I will never again remember their sins.”[e]

i dont know if this helps but its the best i could do in a flash!

i watched the Passion of the Christ Robert and it tore my heart in two. to see Jesus brutally beat and tortured was about the worst thing i have ever witnessed in my life! I realize it was a portrayal but i also believe his sacrifice to be an accurate part of history. at any moment he could've stopped it. he had the power to do so. but the cost would've been much greater had he backed away. it was the ultimate act of selflessness...for the sake others.

i know its hard for you understand this. and you know i respect that and respect you. but this is just my heart on this. and i doubt i can answer all your questions either. but i will try...mostly with scripture.

have a great day friend!

BuddyO said...

You don't have to bend your knee if you don't want... it's up to you dude.

Nah, I'd try to intervene, probably for the same reasons as you... justice, mercy, testosterone... I just don't think it would change the outcome. I've had some interesting conversations about a similar topic: "Did Judas have a choice?" I don't think he did, and if he did, it wouldn't have changed the outcome only the precursor.

Your second question requires agreement on the axiom "Jesus was who He said He was". Unless this is first agreed upon it would be like discussing nuclear physics with out agreeing that E=MC2.

I actually have a lot of thoughts about your questions, but I think they wouldn't carry much weight without agreement that Jesus is God.

SirRobert said...

Tam said:

....i dont know if this helps but its the best i could do in a flash!

My response...

It doesn't help very much. But I wasn't looking for a complete explanation. I often engage in what is called the Socratic Method. By this I mean I ask questions of myself as much as of others.

You have to understand that I look at Christian doctrine from the outside in a clinical and dispassionate way which admittedly may color my views of it. But this is who I am.

Thanks for your comments!

R.

Tam said...

noted!

;-)

so would that be a "no" to linking to this???

SirRobert said...

BuddyO said:

"I've had some interesting conversations about a similar topic: "Did Judas have a choice?"

My response:

Oh! That's a great observation I didn't think to include! Poor Judas! Is he a pawn of God or Satan? Did he have a choice. Is Judas in hell right now? Or was he rewarded for doing his job?

You also said:

"Your second question requires agreement on the axiom "Jesus was who He said He was". Unless this is first agreed upon it would be like discussing nuclear physics with out agreeing that E=MC2."

My response:

I am often hit with the ubiquitous CS Lewis statement: "Jesus=Liar, Lunatic or Lord". There is another possibility that the otherwise very intelligent Mr. Lewis seems to have missed:

MISTAKEN

You are right of course it is impossible to fully communicate unless we both agree that Jesus is Lord, which I'm afraid is not the case.

Great comments though!

R.

SirRobert said...

Tam said:

so would that be a "no" to linking to this???

My response:

By all means link away!!!

R.

BuddyO said...

Judas wasn't a pawn at all... he made the choice to do what he did all on his own.

Mistaken is a bit of a stretch... "Ooops, thought I was God, but it turns out I really wasn't... my goof.." - doens't really fly.

RE: Reparations
You said - Would it be acceptable or fair for an American of African descent to hold some American of English descent accountable for the evil of American slavery?

and then -

I truly believe the united States Government bears responsibility to admit the error of sanctioning slavery and offer an official statement of complicity if not guilt and a formal apology.

So your own answer to your first question is yes?? Not where I thought you were initially going. It was the US Government that stopped slavery (despite the Democrats attempts to keep it), that's a pretty fair apology.

SirRobert said...

BuddyO said:

Mistaken is a bit of a stretch... "Oops, thought I was God, but it turns out I really wasn't... my goof.." - doesn't really fly.

My response:

How is it a stretch? People make such grandiose claims ALL the time...past and present. Why is Jesus given a pass?

I am not saying Jesus had nothing of value to say. I am saying that he MIGHT have very well been mistaken vis a vis the whole Son of God thing.

Isaac Newton while a genius in many respects i.e. theory of gravity, his work in optics and invention of the calculus...because he needed it! (that just kills me)...all those accomplishments were incidental to him in his quest of alchemy...which we now know existed only in his mind. He was MISTAKEN....many great men are....

You said:

"So your own answer to your first question is yes??...."

An admission of guilt and an apology is NOT reparations. It is the US Government, an institution present at the time, admitting to glaring injustices perpetrated in its name.

I am not suggesting money change hands for the reasons I outlined in my original comment.

R.

BuddyO said...

Sure people make grandiose claims, but to 'mistakenly' think your God? I'm sorry I don't think so. Jesus isn't getting a pass... I just think you don't think you're God by mistake. You either are, you know your not and are lying, or your nuts. I might mistakenly think I'm pretty smart, or a good musician, or famous or something, but God? Come on.

Seriously: Isn't there some other way to post comments without going through loggin in and typing the cryptograph every time? It's a bit of a pain.

SirRobert said...

BuddyO said:

"but to 'mistakenly' think your God? I'm sorry I don't think so"

My Response:

Appolonius of Tyana, Mithras....

Both of these characters are said to have claimed to be God. Granted there are little classical writings left of what they said. Generally because early Christians pretty much saw to it that those writings were burned or otherwise destroyed. See the destruction of the great Library of Alexandria for an example of early Christian views of ideas of an ecumenical nature. This gives further import to the credo that history is written by the victors.

brent(inWorship) said...

Really great post Robert and some good questions. I followed you all the way along until yuo took the thought of what does Jesus death mean to stories of Jesus are just fable.

I think that what makes it the Christian faith. Belief in the man Jesus, not as we assume He was, but as He was as described in the Bible. I take the gospels to be just that...gospel truth.

Also, you said,

"That said...I truly believe the united States Government bears responsibility to admit the error of sanctioning slavery and offer an official statement of complicity if not guilt and a formal apology. An argument could be made for such a statement regarding the treatment of Native Americans, as well as one offered to Japanese Americans interred during WWII. Only by admitting the mistakes and sins of the past can we hope to begin to heal the deep wounds that are aggravated from time to time."

I don't necessarily disagree, but isn't this just doing what you've spoken against? So if men that had nothing to do with the events of slavery or the Indians have to apologize, why shouldn't the innocent Jews have to apologize as well?

SirRobert said...

Brent said:

"isn't this just doing what you've spoken against? So if men that had nothing to do with the events of slavery or the Indians have to apologize, why shouldn't the innocent Jews have to apologize as well?"

My response:

I think you and BuddyO are missing my point. I am not suggesting that the people of the government apologize, I am suggesting that the government as an INSTITUTION acknowledge and apologize for the ills it has been complicit in the past.

I realize that the GOVERNMENT is an abstract concept and can't really apologize.

What the government in its current incarnation CAN do is acknowledge past injustice. i don't want a US President to go before cameras and say, "I'm sorry for slavery." That's ridiculous. I am talking about our current leaders crafting a statement that acknowledges the simple truth that our fore fathers while also doing some great things also did some rather morally reprehensible things.

Politicians today seem to want to accentuate all the greatness while quietly sweeping under the rug all the evil. That's shameful.

We have to look in the mirror and see what we were and acknowledge it. If we don't it is ignoring the proverbial 'elephant in the living room'.

We will never be truly one people if we can't do this.

R.

hoverfrog said...

Free Barabas. There's someone who broke the law and repented. By not denying that he was the Messiah Jesus was guilty of the crime that he was exectuted for, namely heresy. Jesus didn't ask for forgivness and never repented his crime.

Wouldn't a freed Jesus continue to spread his heretical views. This would just get him arrested and executed later. Releasing him would serve no purpose but delay his death and add a bit of suspense to the story.

Blaming the Jews could ber seen as Roman propoganda. They adopted Christianity and the Roman Empire carried out the exectution in accordance with local law and customs. Are people of Italian descent really the Jesus Killers? Eh Robert? Confess! You're only making it worse for yourself.

cpk3 said...

The Jewish Pharisees at the time wanted Jesus killed becauese he threatened there money making efforts. However the Jews are not to blame, our sin is to blame for the death of Christ. He came so that all could believe and be saved not just the Jews. Plain and simple our our Sin was put upon Christ, that put him on the Cross.

II Cor 5:21
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

SirRobert said...

the MAGNIFICENT frog spake thusly:

"Are people of Italian descent really the Jesus Killers? Eh Robert? Confess! You're only making it worse for yourself.

The Antichrist responds..

Arrrgh!!! I've been found out!

All this time working for the 2nd Roman Empire wasted as I have been outed by a 'limey'. Curse you!!!

*tongue firmly planted in cheek*

R.

cpk3 said...

Oh.. Would I intervene?

Tough question...

My question is: Watching Jesus on Trial would I have the Knowledge of why Christ is suffering and dying on the Cross? Even the disciples were taught of his impending death, and they fled, remember the Gift of the Holy Spirit was not upon them yet.

If it happened today you bet I would jump up and say something. That is why I write a lot about sin. Every sin is another Nail in the hands of Jesus' hands and feet...

SirRobert said...

cpk3 spoke:

"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

My response:

Well that's great. But I STILL fail to see why an omnipotent God should require the sacrifice of an innocent to wash away sin. It's His universe he can do whatever He pleases, why shed innocent blood to forgive. Here's an idea.... When a being ASKS forgiveness look into his or heart, again well within the capabilities of the almighty as I understand Him, if the petitioner is truly penitent...just FORGIVE him or her! No blood or gore necessary! Clean and tidy.

Just a thought! ;)

R.

cpk3 said...

We were meant for perfection. This was ruined when the apple was bitten... The most selfish act.

God was jealous of that separation, Exodus 20:5 and tried to give us laws and blood sacrifices to live by to bring us back to righteousness, but we couldn't even do that. Even David and Solomon fell to the selfishness of Sin.

So what was a Loving God to do. He humbled himself and became human for us. Then died willingly on the Cross to show us what love really is, the sacrifice He made for the forgiveness of our sins. John 3:16-17

We obviously could not get back to the perfection we were meant for on our own.

darla said...

WOW Robert this is an intense post with lots to think about!

As hover said...Barabas acknowledged his sin, and Jesus did not...well probably because he had none LOL but he was silent which was part of the prophesy, if he had spoke and changed the outcome at all the end result wouldn't be the same...so having hard feelings toward anyone is useless energy. And Jesus had to go to the cross, so the Romans and the Jews were just enablers, and fulfillers of the prophesy..does that make sense? anyway love the discussion going on here!

SirRobert said...

cpk3 said:

"We were meant for perfection. This was ruined when the apple was bitten... The most selfish act."

My response

Well as God, in the general understanding anyway, is omniscient he would have by definition KNOWN how the outcome of the whole 'don't eat the apple' thing was gonna pan out.

He knew we would fail, so why even bother? Why allow the serpent into the garden knowing full well that his creations WOULD give in to the arguments made by the tempestuous creature?

You can't argue that He wanted to give us the chance to succeed and then stack the deck against us, again KNOWING the outcome in any event.

Something here has to give....

Either we are merely the playthings which essentially rules out freewill OR God is not the omniscient being we think He is and he doesn't know what's going to happen.

Consider this:

As an engineer in the R&D field I run 'what-if' scenarios all the time. I do this BECAUSE I want to observe the results, which is because I don't KNOW the result before hand. If I did why run the experiment at all? By definition it's a waste of time and resources.

Back to the question at hand....

If God is omniscient and omnipotent, how is it we were meant for perfection and fell short?

The two ideas are logically exclusive.

It makes more sense to me that the Genesis account is not an historical account meant to be taken literally so much as it is an allegory for the human condition in general.

Eating from the tree of knowledge yields great reward and great responsibility. The fruits of knowledge bring forth powerful tools and methods which can be used for good and evil. It is the job of religion to see to it that we have a morality that guides us properly. I have absolutely no problem with this!

The logical paradoxes disappear the second you take the Genesis account for the allegory I think it was meant to be.

R.

BuddyO said...

Robert,

One thing that occured to me when reading your problem with God sacrificing an innocent (actually it was himself). Again this requires agreement on the axiom I mentioned earlier, but God did not scrifice Jesus up for death. He knew that Jesus would overcome death and be resurrected.

It's only when you deny the resurrection that the problem you identified comes into play.

Also in regard to your initial question of whether I would try to stop the crucifixion... of course if I were there, I wouldn't be privledged to the knowledge I have now of what Gods plan was for this event. Certianly in that light, I would have done anything to stop the apparent injustice.

SirRobert said...

BuddyO

"Also in regard to your initial question of whether I would try to stop the crucifixion... of course if I were there, I wouldn't be privledged to the knowledge I have now of what Gods plan was for this event. Certianly in that light, I would have done anything to stop the apparent injustice."

My response...

But by virtue of the time machine...you WOULD and do have knowledge of the purpose as outlined within the gospels.

As you have pointed out we differ in the respect that you accept certain axioms that I do not.

I would act to prevent an injustice...BECAUSE I don't believe that such an act serves any purpose.

That's me....I'm bound by a different covenant. Not better....DIFFERENT!

R.

cpk3 said...

He wants us to choose him... He loves us and does not force us to choose him. Even if we don't choose him he still loves us.

SirRobert said...

cpk3 said:

"He wants us to choose him... He loves us and does not force us to choose him. Even if we don't choose him he still loves us.

My response

Well that's fine...

But it does nothing to ameliorate the logical paradox i outlined that a literal and historical interpretation of Genesis entails...

R.

lori said...

This whole arguement accepts that there is nothing beyond this life, evidenced by the comment that Jesus' death on the cross serves no purpose: "I would act to prevent an injustice...BECAUSE I don't believe that such an act serves any purpose."
Jesus' death on the cross served a very real purpose according to the law set forth by God in the first place. As a parent surely you can relate. As a Christian, I am focused on the life beyond this one, and so I have a perspective that looks beyond earth and earthly justice. I accept Jesus' death as the payment for all my sin and enterance into the eternal Kingdom where He reigns. Death is not the enemy, it has been overcome. Jesus on the cross was the key that opened the door....walk through it or not.

SirRobert said...

Lori said:

"Jesus' death on the cross served a very real purpose according to the law set forth by God in the first place"

My response:

So Jesus' death was part of God's plan for the redemption of all sinners, provided they accept him as their savior?

This implies that He was unaware of that the first couple would fail so miserably in Eden.

He didn't plan on nor have knowledge of sin entering the world vis a vis the eating of an apple.

This is a God responding to events he does not foresee.

The Jehova's Witnesse's have an interesting way around this.... they postulate that God does NOT have omniscience in the temporal realm that we live in.

In this regard Jesus is a FIX for a problem God did not foresee.

So why the whole flood thing a la Noah?

If redemption was planned for clearly there is no need to engage in genocide.

Adherents to Judaism have VERY different ideas about this.

Lori said further:

"I accept Jesus' death as the payment for all my sin and enterance into the eternal Kingdom where He reigns. Death is not the enemy, it has been overcome. Jesus on the cross was the key that opened the door....walk through it or not."

My response...

You are convinced by the arguments made in the Gospels. I am not. Neither, for that matter are 4 out every 6 people on Earth...for varying reasons. I will admit that arguments from majority are not valid.

My problem still is with the mechanism of a blood sacrifice as an antidote for the sins of others. That question is still not being addressed.

Perhaps it's a question with an answer that cannot be understood by our feeble reason. Maybe there is room for doubt.

R.

BuddyO said...

Lori,

While I think you are right, Robert is not in agreement that Jesus was God (correct me if I'm wrong), so for him the execution of Jesus (who in SirR's eyes was merely an innocent man) served no just purpose. Robert, here's where I am in agreement. At the time, with no knowledge of Gods plan, I would have been outraged at the injustice of the act... as I am with many acts taking place today in the world.

SirR... like it or not, know it or not, the covenant to which you claim to be bound (justice, mercy, love, compassion, forgiveness) is the SAME covenant that I am engaged in with Jesus... We're just in disagreement on the author of the covenant... and that's OK.

SirRobert said...

BuddyO said:

"like it or not, know it or not, the covenant to which you claim to be bound (justice, mercy, love, compassion, forgiveness) is the SAME covenant that I am engaged in with Jesus... We're just in disagreement on the author of the covenant... and that's OK.

My response:

*HUGE SMILE*

That's all I need!

Can I buy you a beer?!

R.

BuddyO said...

Might cost you, I'm a pretty big beer snob....

In the same way I hold myself accountable to the purity called for in my covenant with Jesus, I also am a strict adherent to the German purity laws... ;)

I spend a bit of time every year in Frankfurt, and once you've had a true Weissbeir, there's no going back...

SirRobert said...

BuddyO said:

I spend a bit of time every year in Frankfurt, and once you've had a true Weissbeir, there's no going back...

My response

Takes me back to my air Force days at Rammstein AB ...and my introduction to REAL beer.

Like you I cannot stomach the swill that is most American beers i.e. Bud, coors, miller....

I have to satisfy myself with Sam Adams and other micros which approach but do not nearly equal a good German brew.

sigh!

R.

Tam said...

@ buddyO and R - um. i'll take a mojito if you boys are willing to bring me back one? i'll wait here.

R - tell me you've had already?

brent(inWorship) said...

Makes sense Robert.

At this point, I just want to try and be really nice so that I can have beer with you and Buddy :)

Anonymous said...

I'll use your format:


You said:
"You are convinced by the arguments made in the Gospels."

My response:
No. I'm convinced by the work of God evidence to me in my life.

You said:
"My problem still is with the mechanism of a blood sacrifice as an antidote for the sins of others."

My response:
This was God's law...the law that He set forth in the first place. I cannot answer the why, and I'm not sure that anyone can except to say this is what He requires. If you accept that this is the law, then you can see the relationship to Jesus. If you cannot accept the law, then you are left with what? If there is no forgivness/redemption of sin, (Jesus' death on the cross) there is no relationship with Him, and if there is no relationship with Him, what is the ultimate purpose of life? I accept that my purpose in this life is to love and fellowship with Him and the body of believers known as Christians. To that end, my 'job' is to continue to share the gospel, and help to bring His people, the people He created (all of them) to Him. I follow by choice, which is His desire for all. I do not believe because I know all the answers; but I now know some answers only through my belief.

lori said...

ok..somehow that got messed up...that comment was from me, lori.

SirRobert said...

Lori said...

MUCH!

ending with:

but I now know some answers only through my belief.

My response:

That's good enough for me! You needn't justify yourself any further.

I have a different view and so long as we can accept that there are differences and those differences do not make us enemies...we'll be fine!

:)

R.

Tam said...

AMEN!!!

yah.

i said it!

hehehe....

lori said...

:) back!!

SirRobert said...

Tam said:

"tell me you've had already?*

*she refers to a mojito

My response:

To my on-going consternation...I seem to have misplaced my bottle of Bacardi. Either that our my fourteen year old has taken to drinking while doing her homework. Which i doubt as she has little stomach for alcohol as evidenced by her refusal to eat tiramisu for the the vodka it contains. *foolish child*

But....

I have a myriad of spearmint growing in my herb garden and it is just itching to meet its end in a tall glass...

The short answer is:

I WILL GET TO IT THIS WEEKEND!

R.

SirRobert said...

Brent said:

"I just want to try and be really nice so that I can have beer with you and Buddy."

My response:

Nice bores me to tears...

You're welcome ANYTIME.

Disagreements are where true wisdom begins.

Think about how insufferably boring this world would be if everyone thought the same way.

I truly believe God doesn't want automatons he wants those with the courage to question.

It is with the deepest pride I listen to one of my kids as he questions something I have said in an intellectual way... It means he is learning to form his or her own opinions and trying to make sense of perceptions.

R.

J May said...

Didn't read all the comments so forgive me if I tread ground that has been covered.

"It seems to me that the entire narrative of the 'Good News' is that Jesus came here to die for the sins of all past, present and future."

I think I agree with your heart here 100%. Though, I'm not sure I agree with the statement itself in its entirety.

My question to that is, if that is the Gospel in its entirety, why didn't Jesus just come as a man in Genesis 4, die on a cross, and Genesis 5 is then heaven happily ever after? I think that the Bible gives answers beyond "mystery" for this one, too.

That's just a fun question so forgive me if it digresses from the larger conversation too far. On the whole, I love what your communicating here... or at least what I perceive to be what you're communicating. I totally agree, Jesus even said, "Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?" It always strikes me as strange thing when I hear the aforementioned kind of thinking as a basis for anti-semitism.

J May said...

Oh, I just read over more of the comments and there is some great conversation on the necessity of a blood sacrifice! But I will wait to get in on that since I have already posted.

SirRobert said...

My question to that is, if that is the Gospel in its entirety, why didn't Jesus just come as a man in Genesis 4, die on a cross, and Genesis 5 is then heaven happily ever after?

That has been one of my unstated questions! ;)

Glad someone else said it!

R.

BuddyO said...

If the goal is to have your children get an education and provide a good life for themselves, why not just dump a bunch of text books in the crib?

(OK granted, quick and lame analogy but you get my point.. too much time blogging today)

SirRobert said...

lame indeed ;)

BuddyO said...

Admittedly, but it does answer the question.

1godsgal said...

I haven’t had time to read all of the comments...so please forgive me if I repeat something. My Robert aren’t you Mr. Popular today??? LOL I wanted to focus for minute why Jesus had to shed blood in the first place. Robert, the only way I can do this is coming from the point of a believer, and I realize that as a non-believer it’s hard to understand, but this is how I see it..
Jesus' sacrifice is the pivotal event in God's plan to save humanity. Speaking of His certain death, Christ said that He, referring to Himself as the Son of Man, must be "lifted up" (crucified) even as "Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness," so that "whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:14-16).
Jesus' sacrifice, was a supreme act of love for humanity, and is the most momentous step in God's plan.
Just before the Passover feast, Jesus said that "for this purpose I came to this hour ... And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself" (John 12:27, 32).
The day on which the crucifixion, transpired was the 14th day of the first month of God's calendar, the same day on which the Passover lambs were to be killed (Leviticus 23:5). Paul later wrote the congregation at Corinth that "Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us" (1 Corinthians 5:7).
God said that, on the 10th day of the first month, each Israelite was to select a lamb or goat large enough to feed each household (Exodus 12:3). It was to be a yearling male, without any sort of defect. On the 14th day of that month at evening, the Israelites were to kill the animals and place some of their blood on the doorposts of their homes. The animals were then to be roasted and eaten along with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. The Israelites hurriedly ate this meal.
The Lord further instructed the Israelites that on this evening He would kill all the firstborn of Egypt to convince Pharaoh to release the Israelites from slavery. The firstborn of each Israelite family would be protected if the sign of the blood were on the entrance of their homes. God would "pass over" their homes, which of course is where it gets its name. (verse 13).
God said this day would be to the Israelites a memorial, "and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance" (verse 14). Bible writers later explained that the annual Passover observance symbolized Christ. Paul referred to Christ as "our Passover" (1 Corinthians 5:7), and John recorded that John the Baptist recognized Christ as "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
The unblemished male represented Jesus Christ as the perfect, sinless sacrifice for our sins. Hebrews 9:11-12 tells us that "Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come ... not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption." Jesus Christ bought us with His blood, pouring out His life as our Passover lamb so God could forgive our sins. IF you don’t believe in sin, it’s kind of a mute point, but maybe that’s for another blog? ;)

Mocha said...

Hey Robert,

I just wanted to come over to "your place" and say Hi. It takes balls to stay so cool, and stand so tall in any perspective, and I respect that an awful lot. I hope you have an awesome day man. You sure made me think a lot today, and that is something else I respect...

Blessings,

Scott

1godsgal said...

So THAT'S how you stay cool...I've always wondered...

wornoutwoman said...

Tam had this linked and I replied to her post as such:
Wow! Deep stuff. I agree with you though…it was part of God’s plan for His son to sacrifice for us. It’s what we as Christians stand firm on…that Christ died for our sins, so that we may be forgiven. In my heart I feel this is what God wanted, so who is to doubt our heavenly Father?

so to your question would I try to prevent? No. God's plans are perfect in every way and only He knows the big picture.

SirRobert said...

wornoutwoman said:

"God's plans are perfect in every way and only He knows the big picture."

Robert's response:

Thanks for stopping by.

It's an interesting statement you made.

Was the first couples failure in Eden ALSO part of the 'plan'?

Given God's purported omniscience and omnipotence...He would have had knowledge of the failure before it happened....would have KNOWN that a serpent would sneak in and send things down the proverbial toilet.

I can only conclude that poor Adam & Eve were set up to fail.

R.

SirRobert said...

I would like to personally express my gratitude to Tam and everyone who has engaged in this conversation over the past 2 days.

While I don’t think anyone’s core beliefs have been changed, least of all mine ;), the dialog is very important.

There will ALWAYS be believers and non-believers and we have to learn to talk to each other in ways that are respectful and non-judgmental.

I realize that many of you hold the belief that we are in ‘the last days’ and the your savior is due soon. When pressed most of you will admit that no one knows the hour of his return.

Assuming for a moment that you are right about the prophecies about the end times, you still don’t know when the events predicted will transpire. As a consequence of that, we all have to try to get along for the sake of our children and for their children. For some to advocate renouncing all responsibility for an honorable stewardship of the planet and to fore go all efforts to live in peace betrays a very dangerous sense of fatalism. If all is controlled by a God whose will is at best complicated and at worst inscrutable, why try to change anything? We can do better than that and we have a responsibility to the future to try to do so. We aren’t perfect and we never will be, but I KNOW we are capable of better than we have done.

This is why I try to engage with people who think differently than I do….

To leave the world a better place for my children, for my having lived.

Peace to all

Robert
Leominster, Massachusetts

BuddyO said...

Wow... that sounds so final.... does that mean your done?

OK... so the Adam and Eve thing...
Let's set up a quick scenario and set of parameters:

- You're God
- You created mankind as objects of your love, asking only for them to love you back freely, without mandate.
- You've decided to let things run their course and not interfere unless asked and then only at your discretion
- You see a bigger picture, an Eternal picture in which the entire existence of the planet earth is a blip and the lives of the human creatures you have created extend for that eternity
- For you, time is not linear

Using that set of parameters, you can see that Adam and Eve are not 'set up to fail'. While I fully understand that you do not accept those parameters, they can neither be proven or disporven (except the first one) therfore it is a completely plausable scenario (except for you being God...)

SirRobert said...

Hi Buddy

Your second premise:

"You created mankind as objects of your love, asking only for them to love you back freely, without mandate."

But you are God....you KNOW their gonna screw this thing up. So what's the point?

Third premise:

You've decided to let things run their course and not interfere unless asked and then only at your discretion.

But you ALSO decide to drown EVERYONE excluding one drunk and his family a thousand years BEFORE you implement your provision to SAVE everyone from their sins. Later after the flood you say: "You know...maybe that flood things wasn't such good idea." Is this a REGRET? In a supremely perfect being no less? Which begs the question WHY engage in mass genocide IF you have in mind a provision to offer redemption. Why not provide the means of redemption in Genesis 5 rather than 2000 years or whatever ocean of time later?

All I am suggesting is that the insistence of attaching the Old Testament (The Jewish Bible) to the New (The Christian Bible) looks to me like an exercise using bailing wire and chewing gum. This presents God as responding to events He could not fore see and making things up as he went along.... which was very much the same problem Marcion of Sinope had with the whole idea. Early church history is a microcosm of VERY different theologies. Many would-be theologians like Marcion at the time felt that the teachings of Christ stood on their own very well without the need to make them a consequence or prediction of Jewish theology. But some others felt you could only give legitimacy to the new Christian by finding evidence that it was PREDICTED by the old Jewish religion. The problem with such a view is that it makes God look capricious, vicious and worst of all: jealous. Characteristics, I think, couldn't be attributed to a God that is PURE Love.

Again I see value in the teachings of Christ! What i think is unnecessary is a literal and historical interpretation. Such a view that makes the edifice crumble under the weight of its absurdities.

R.

BuddyO said...

So what's the point?

Not all of them do...

But you ALSO decide to drown EVERYONE excluding one drunk and his family a thousand years BEFORE you implement your provision to SAVE everyone from their sins. Later after the flood you say: "You know...maybe that flood things wasn't such good idea."

Dude, are you reading that goofy new TNIV? Where'd you get all that from...

church history is a microcosm of VERY different theologies....

Well you know what they say about theologies... Everyone has one and they all stink... oh wait, that's opinions... same difference.

J May said...

Hey man, got caught up on some of the comments. Great conversation, Robert. While there are some who call themselves followers of Jesus that ask these kinds of things, not enough do, unfortunately. So, thank you for helping fill that void.

Re: my posed question regarding why Jesus didn't come as a man in Gen 4 and Gen 5 being happily ever after:

The reason that I can see this is actually ties in intimately with how you feel re: "All I am suggesting is that the insistence of attaching the Old Testament (The Jewish Bible) to the New (The Christian Bible) looks to me like an exercise using bailing wire and chewing gum."

When we take the N.T. and filter it through the evangelical Gospel, then we do tend to end up feeling like the NT and OT aren't jiving. BUT when we try to discover the overarching narrative of the Bible and see how Jesus fits in that context, we not only come out with a much more cohesive Bible (between old and new testaments), but we also get a really amazing view of why "The Gospel" is such good news.

Jesus dying for our sins is huge from a biblical perspective, but it really is only one part of what the Bible refers to as the Good news.

Re: Marcion. I can empathize with that guy, but in the end I'm glad the church gave him his money back and parted ways with him. Though he may have felt like he was just being intellectually honest, he didn't do enough searching from what I can see. He should have gone and hung out with the Ebionites or something. They could have schooled him on Jewish theology and how Christ fit into it. (kind of kidding, but I do think the answers are there in the Jewish scriptures).

I'm actually doing a quite a bit of writing right now on these very topics. I posted one on evangelical history and the modern Evangelical approach to the gospel here: http://www.jmayblog.com/2008/03/embodying-gospel-part-one-history-is-in.html

I wrote an impromptu thirty page essay on related themes last year and I'd be happy to send it to you and would love to dialogue with you. Your questions are close to my heart.

I will give a brief answer here, though:

Essentially, the Gospel or the "good news" from a holistic Biblical perspective has a lot more to do with the redemption of ALL things, including humanity and individual humans and also the physical universe as well as other animal life than just individual humans. But we also need to see it as a trajectory and in relational terms. What I mean is when we see God creating Adam and Eve, knowing they will sin, and still crating them any way, He isn't thinking about just the beginning. He is thinking that even know they will sin, His love for them - even the idea of them, at the time - is and will be worth enduring that brokenness and pain with them until they reach maturity - even if it doesn't come to fruition until their great x 10 to the 10th power grand kids are born. When we see the whole world being flushed own the toilet in the flood, we have to see that God is making a painful choice, but, for the sake of all who would come after and for the creation itself, He had to do it. ("the whole earth was filled with violence because of them") As far as those people who died in the flood, I think the Biblical perspective of Heaven and Hell is much more robust than we hear in our average sermon - especially when you get into the original languages. More and more I'm seeing that the Bible may allude to the ability of the dead being redeemed in Sheol or Hades (depending on the testament) and the final Gehenna or the pit of fire may be something that comes towards the end of the story. This isn't new, Catholics believe in this, C.S. Lewis wrote about it, and it seems to make much more sense in a Greek reading of the NT. The real question is, will those people killed in the flood, or any like them, want to be redeemed if it means that they have to agree to submit to God and let Him make them into the kind of people that will participate in an others-centered universe. From what I can tell, a violent, bitter, racist, vengeful, slanderous, gossiping, or otherwise loving-of-things-that-cause-brokenness-to-relationship type of person won't like Heaven. I think they would see it much more like their Hell.

Another way to see the trajectory thing is by reading the Torah and then reading Jesus' sermon on the mount in places He says things like, "you've heard it said ______, but I say ______." He is essentially kicking up the expectation for humanity because, for at least the Jewish people, they were ready for it. For instance, back when they were told "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" this was a step forward from them because in those barbaric times it was much more common to take vengeance past even what was done in the original crime. But now Jesus is taking it to the next level "turn the other cheek." We need to see that God is redeeming humanity from within and He is walking us toward being the type of race He had in mind when He created us. It's much like a parent who puts up with what would be ridiculous behavior from an adult, from a toddler because they love them so much and see that they will grow out of it. They baby-step them towards maturity.

This isn't new, either. For example, the very influential church father Irenaeus wrote in response to the gnostic view of physical matter being intrinsically evil and it being the cause of the brokenness in the world (and the result of a pretty lame creator god). He wrote that God is indeed good but He is letting humanity take the hard road to maturity.

ANY way, I appreciate your questions Robert. Maybe there are some of us who live the good news of the Gospel with out them, but many of us need this type of stirring to challenge us. Thanks, bro.

Christian Beyer said...

Would it be acceptable or fair for an American of African descent to hold some American of English descent accountable for the evil of American slavery?

Sorry I'm late to this party but...it's apples and oranges. Even if you believe Jesus is God, this historically was the death of one man versus the institutionalized subjugation for profit of a millions of people for hundreds of years that really only ended in my lifetime (if you count segregation as a part of this subjugation.) To think that the racial playing field has been leveled in only one generation is idealistic.

No Jew should feel guilty about Jesus' death (although all Christians should) nor should they ever waste any time considering this absurd accusation (is anyone still saying this?). And most 'white' people should not feel guilty about slavery (some wealthy families have yet to make amends) but we shouldn't dismiss 300 years of injustice with a flippant "get over it already".

SirRobert said...

Christian said:

"we shouldn't dismiss 300 years of injustice with a flippant "get over it already".

My response:

Again I find myself in concordance with you.

To my mind this our country DOES have this fallacious view that we can do no wrong. The view can be further understood as if the United States, be it the public or the government, does something it is by definition RIGHT.

Well for all our self-congratulatory posturing we have made some monumental mistakes in our 225+ year history.

In my eyes to be an American is not a nationality. It is the acceptance of an ideal, and the willingness to strive for that ideal. Are we the people that the Constitution would have us be? Far from it! But we have to keep striving for the ideal embodied in those words.

I would like to see an American politician acknowledge our wrongs as loudly as he is willing to trumpet our virtues.

A modicum of humility is called for and it is long overdue!

R.