Monday, 21 May 2007

The Ratzinger Jesus


"The Real Jesus" was the title of Garner Ted Armstrong's 1970s book on the man from Galilee which, rather than standing the test of time, has justifiably been consigned to the rubbish heap of history. Ask an "expert" about Jesus, real (like John Dominic Crossan) or imagined (like Ted) and the portrait they'll come up with will be a remarkably convivial one - tweaked, one suspects, to their own prejudices.

No, not just Ted. The "Jesus Seminar" came up with a wise, enlightened Jesus just brimming over with liberal humanitarian values, the "Oberammergau" Jesus dripped with anti-Semitism, the KKK gathers around the bonfire to sing "The Old Rugged Cross," and so it goes. Now along comes the Lord Darth Vader himself, Joseph Ratzinger, with a new biography called Jesus of Nazareth, and it's no surprise if his Jesus also seems skewed by wishful dogma.

Ratzinger, AKA Pope Benedict XVI, has a few advantages over Ted. For starters, he's done the academic mileage, and he's not about to commit the bumbling pratfalls of a tithe-farming televangelist. But that doesn't guarantee much in itself.

If you want a stimulating, honest discussion about Jesus, ask a Jewish scholar. These guys lack the jingoistic self-interest of their Christian counterparts, and there's no-one more qualified than Geza Vermes. Here's a man who started out in life as a Hungarian Catholic, was ordained to the priesthood, become a world authority on the Dead Sea Scrolls, and quietly moved over into the Judaism of his forebears. It's worth sitting up and taking notice, then, when Vermes produces one of the first reviews of the Ratzinger opus. You can find it on the Times Online.

As for The Real Jesus, I've kept my copy as a curiosity. You can currently pick up your own on Amazon for the princely sum of 1c.

32 comments:

DennisDiehl said...

"If you want a stimulating, honest discussion about Jesus, ask a Jewish scholar."

If one can find a copy and if one can afford it even in paperback these days for some reason, Lillian C Freudmann's ANTISEMITISM in the NEW TESTAMENT will pretty much show how the Jewish texts have been hijacked by the Christians, twisted to mean what they never meant and cobbled together to make the story we call Christianity. She plainly shows the Gospel origins and spends most of the book on Paul's misunderstanding and misapplications of the Jewish texts to explain his Cosmic Christ. You will have no doubt why the Jewish people could never view the NT and Pauline Jesus as the Messiah of Jewish expectations and origins.

Christianity depends on and needed Judaism for it's start and the story of Israel for it's foundation. Since we tend to resent what we depend on and need, the love/hate is built in.

Paul hijacked, misquoted, misapplied and misunderstood the OT giving us pagan gentile Christianity. The Gospels harvested the story of Jesus from OT texts to flesh out the story and imagine what they did not seem to know in fact about Jesus.

"Matthew" was a master at this as well by taking OT passages completely out of context, giving them meaning they never had or could have had. Matthew seeks "fulfillment" of the OT in Jesus and badly uses the OT to perform this feat.

With Matthew and Luke copying vast amounts of Mark, there is little need to feel each is inspired of itself or as we often hear, "it's like four people viewing the same accident." It is not.

The Gospels are hardly eyewitness accounts. They are midrashic musings based on OT passages mixed with common god/men themes of existing or past pagan religions. Nothing springs from a vacuum except maybe electrons. :)

Whoever Jesus was, layer upon layer of meaning has been added to his little known and for the most part, aside from the Bible itself, commented on life. It ends with Paul's Cosmic Hellenistic Christ which today we simply call Christianity. There is no connection between the Jesus of the Gospels and the Christ of Paul.
Most don't even realize that Paul's cosmic Jesus came first with his knowing little or nothing of a physical Jesus and never quoting him. As I have often said, Jesus for Paul was Hallucinatory and not any real person. Paul got his "Lord's Supper" from Jesus in vision, not in fact. The Gospels were written and a biograpy of Jesus was fleshed out long after Paul's death and not the other way around as most assume. The Gospels bring the Cosmic Christ of Paul down to earth as the man Jesus complete with fantastic birth stories.

At any rate, Jewish scholars know this well. Most Christian scholars don't wish to know this as it is a threat beyond measure to their story of Jesus as told in the NT and accepted by all Christians.

Freudmann's book will forever end anyone's fantasy that Paul was who he or Luke said he was with the Pharisaic background he claim along with his impossible Roman citizenship.

Not a book for the Jewish beholding COG's who wish to hang on to their illusions about the NT, the early church, "prophecy" and Paul. If you are lucky enough to find a copy, it will be a lifelong keeper that you go back to time and again. It will also make you incapable of ever again sitting and listening to a Pastor or Priest tell you how it all is from the NT and how it was all foretold in the Old.

All this to say, Gavin is right, ask a Jewish scholar first!

Jim Butler said...

Hi Gavin and Dennis,

As you both know, the Church of God does not agree with traditional Christianity. There are fundamental differences. The messages are not the same.

I believe both of you believe in God, a God---however you choose to say it.

Believing in God, I would assume you believe that God has a plan for mankind.

You might recall, about 6 months ago, I asked both of you what you thought happened to people when they died. You both said, in essense, you really didn't
know. I appreciate your honesty.

Another question.

If the New Testament is completely misunderstood, or bogus, or ....
could you please explain, with some specifics, what you believe God's plan is for mankind?

And if you would like, perhaps you could elaborate a bit on how he revealed this plan to mankind so we have some clue as to what we should be doing.

I am more interested in your response to the first question, but would also enjoy your comments on the second as well.

Thanks!

Jim

Neotherm said...

To Jim Butler: I am a little puzzled. You begin by noting that marked difference between Armstrongism and Christianity and then you ask Dennis and Gavin to respond to some questions that are rooted in Christian theology. You should understand that you are not opening a dialog with traditional Christians when you do this, but that seems to be your original intent.

Maybe I have misapprehended your line of inquiry but I am a traditional Christian and will respond to your questions.

1) The purpose for humankind is to enjoy God for eternity. Our eternal state is that we will be perfect, immortal human beings.It is not to "become God as God is God" which is a blasphemous heresy.

2) When one dies, the great majority of Christians believe that we will enter the Intermediate State to await resurrection at the return of Christ. Some small number of Christians believe in an alternative state called "Soul Sleep". Soul Sleep is not regarded as a heresy by mainstream Christian believers.

Regarding "What happens after you die", a falsehood that circulates widely among Armstrongites is that Christians believe that you "go to heaven" and that is the end of the story. One of my UCG relatives cited the fact that the Millenium will be on earth as a counter to Christian belief. The fact is that Christians believe that the Intermediate State (the "going to heaven" part) is transient. That the Millenium will be on the earth and that a New Heavens and New Earth will ensue.

Armstrongites seem to be completely ignorant of traditional Christian belief on this point. They have a fixation on "going to heaven" because that serves as a convenient point argumentation, as long as the whole picture is not viewed. My guess is that HWA and other Armstrongite leaders did not know the full Christian story and never sought to find out or they perpetrated a lie and everyone warming a seat in an Armstrongite congregation was too indoctrinated to do any research.

An intersting empirical experiment:
Ask someone in you local XCOG congregation this coming Sabbath about what Christians believe about the eternal state of the saved. You will get the old saw about "going to heaven."

-- Neo

DennisDiehl said...

Hi Jim,

I grew up with the first Westminister Confession Question we had to memorize being. "What is Man's Chief end?" Neo sounds a bit as if he has this same background as the answer is..."Man's Chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever."

As a kid, I never understood what that meant and I still don't. Beings that need or demand to be worshippped or else have always made me question what was going on here. I had the same feeling when I studied Revelation and found that "they sing Holy, holy holy" to God, day and night forever. Ugh! This feeling of why does a perfect loving Deity need a sycophantic kind of worship,praise, blessing, honor and glory from others ...or else? I don't have a satisfactory answer to me and the idea that "that's just what God requires" does not work for me. I can't help it.

Neo is correct in that, at this time in my life, I cannot give you a traditional Christian answer. Others are more confident in their perspectives and can tell you very plainly what it's all about. I always feel compelled to say "as if they know," but that is jus where I am. To me, one can confidently speak of intermediate states, heaven, first, second and third resurrections or soul sleep and it's just ideas.

I have always kidded about how when I ask if a person understands quantum physics, the nature of light, matter and the zero point vacuum, they say "no." (I don't understand it either..but I enjoy trying). But ask a Christian about what happens after you die, and they can rattle off the answers as easily as if you asked them how to make a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I feel I am adept at knowing what I don't believe about what I used to believe. I am not good, at this time about declaring how it all is and what I or anyone else should believe as if "how can you be so stupid as to not know."

"He who knows does not say and he who says, does not know," seems more true for me at this time. Some say that enlightenment is more being able to say one knows less than they thought they did than declaring they know more or "it all." It may seem corny, but to me, my hope is that we are all spirits trapped in a limited five sensed carbon based wetsuit." My hope and intuition is that any Deity or highter power that is the ONE thing we are all a part of is benevolent and nothing like the mass murderer, need to be worshipped, my way or the highway being depicted in both Testaments.

I know this subjects me to "well Dennis, God does not see as a man sees," or "There is a way that seems right to a man...but.." I believe those comments are in the text to squelch inquiry and they have worked very well for thousands of years.

Unlike most fundamentalists, I'm OK with being wrong. I simply am not a sheep, I never have been and when I tried to be I ended up depressed and taking meds to cope. Being authentic and true to myself is important to me and a part of who I am and always have been.

So I know this perspective is not satisfying to you and won't answer your questions. Perhaps the best I can say is that I am not uncomfortable not knowing where others are very uncomfortable. I don't find comfort in making things up as if I did know what one can't know by experience. Some person two thousand years ago on an Island in the Sun who says, "I was in spirit ....and saw...and the voices told me...." does not work at this time for me. Nor does the idea of a Paul who heard voices and saw great lights in his head that others did not who were there etc..depending on which account you read.

Occam's razor tells me if you have a choice between a human actually being confronted by the one true Deity on an obscure road with few if any witnesses who in his own writings tells no such story but rather is called before birth..etc, and temporal lobe epilepsy...well, choices, choices.

Not much of an answer to your questions I know.

Darren said...

I just received my copy of the pope's book today, and while I have yet to read it all, the blurbs I've seen and the reviews I've read lead me to believe it's not about "The Ratzinger Jesus," but the traditional, historically Catholic Jesus.

I read the review you linked here. If the reviewer could put aside papal put-downs and his anti-Christian bias, a good Christian apologist (Catholic or Protestant) would rip him apart in a debate.

The reviewer's approach is offensive, and his criticisms are cheesy.

I am Catholic, and even I have joked around by comparing the pope's book to GTA's The Real Jesus: I snickered at the idea of the back cover saying, "DID YOU KNOW . . . that Jesus had long hair, that he had an effeminate form, that he was never attracted to beautiful women, that he had no brothers and sisters, that he didn't have a home (let alone two or three), etc."

But joking is as far as it goes. There's no comparison between GTA's book and the pope's. One makes Jesus into Ted's own image, and the other reconciles the historic Jesus with the Jesus of faith -- which is the traditional Catholic/Christian view.

B16's book, from what I know about it without having read it all yet, is scholarly, fair and balanced, and heaven forbid -- CHRISTIAN!

DennisDiehl said...

"Regarding "What happens after you die", a falsehood that circulates widely among Armstrongites is that Christians believe that you "go to heaven" and that is the end of the story."

That's hardly unique to "Armstrongites" or mainstream Christianity. That's the answer by millions to the question around this part of the country...

"When one dies, the great majority of Christians believe that we will enter the Intermediate State to await resurrection at the return of Christ"

That is not my experience in what the "great majority" believe. Where I grew up they actually thought they believed both since they didn't know what to do with both concepts they thought they saw in the Bible.

Just an observation based on my non WCG background and upbringing.

DennisDiehl said...

...from growing up, I believe my Presbyterian minister felt that yes, both concepts of heaven at death and Jesus "coming back" was understood, although I never heard anything in practical fact about the return, Kingdom etc idea. That's why I was intrigued with WCG as a kid.

I believe heaven was for all and then a general resurrection for all, which seemed to me to be a recall of sorts from heaven, and they didn't disagree and then final judgement. When I asked if that meant you went to heaven, then resurrected again or recalled when Jesus returned and then could be thrown into hell, he said "Yes"

In fact they didn't talk much about it all. Much was assumed and the rest was merely "well, let's just wait and see." There was no pressing need to figure it all out from what I could tell

Gavin said...

Dennis grew up with the Westminster Confession, I grew up with the Augsburg Confession and Luther's catechisms. Redemption therein means "that I may be His, live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness."

Scottish porridge vs. German sauerkraut.

What does that MEAN? Your guess/exposition is as good as mine. I certainly affirm the eternal significance of every human life, and that life has purpose and direction (even when we can't see it). I believe that life holds mysteries and metaphors that lie beyond the purely rational (though I doubt believe they're irrational - as in creationism.) Finally, I think that when you're talking about life, you are talking about God, who isn't some projected Sky Father with beard and thunderbolts (anthropomorphic) but the sum of all life aspires to. If that sounds distant and difficult, then the man Jesus stands there as the ultimate paradigm for humans, the window through which Christians begin to make sense of it all.

Well, you did ask ;-)

The NT is not bogus, it just isn't a modern text which we can read like other modern texts. History, poetry, apocalyptic and legend need to be understood on their own merits, not forced into a fundamentalist/evangelical sausage machine. To do that is NOT to take the Bible seriously at all. Faith eludes all propositions about it.

Here endeth the testimony.

Neotherm said...

DENNIS: "That is not my experience in what the "great majority" believe. Where I grew up they actually thought they believed both since they didn't know what to do with both concepts they thought they saw in the Bible."

You are right. I need to parse this out more finely. When I use the word "Christian" I am thinking of genuine believers. Some have deduced from polls that less than 10% of North American "church goers" actually are Christian, in the practicing sense. This means a large fraction of professing Christians are nominal.

Genuine believers will typically know where they are going, that is, the object of their faith or the eternal state. Nominal Christians may harbor a wide variety of viewpoints on all topics.

I do not espouse the idea that a bunch of "head knowledge" a criterion for being Christian. I know devout people who do not know what the term Arminian means, even though the Calvinist-Arminian controversy is one of the principal themes of Christianity over the past few centuries. But I do believe that genuine believers are what they are because they did come to some essential baseline of understanding. If someone cannot give you an accurate explanation of the eternal state, as it is generally understood within Christianity, they probably have never looked into it and don't care.

Herbert Armstrong and his coterie of leaders selected the malformed and uninformed viewpoints of nominal Christians to represent the Christian faith and to serve as foil for Armstrongism. They apparently did not have the energy or will to simply pick up a systematic theology and read what Christianity is really about. (Although I think I read somewhere that HWA had some Methodist writings in his desk drawer that were discovered after he expired.)

Oddly, Armstrogites have long cried out that "the truth" has not been given a fair hearing by closed minded, so-called Christians.

When HWA was spending all of that time in the Public Library back in Iowa, if he had just studied a little valid Christian theology instead of rolling his own religion, we might have been saved a lot of inconvenience.

-- Neo

DennisDiehl said...

"Genuine believers will typically know where they are going, that is, the object of their faith or the eternal state. Nominal Christians may harbor a wide variety of viewpoints on all topics."

That's an odd way, to me, to decide what is literally true or just an idea. One can "know where they are going and know it with vigor, but be wrong as it plays out over time.

The Bible lends itself to a wide variety of viewpoints or there would not be such a wide variety available, so in effect the Bible produces nominal believers according to this.

"I do not espouse the idea that a bunch of "head knowledge" as criterion for being Christian. I know devout people who do not know what the term Arminian means,"

I know very devout people who know a lot less than that about the Bible....a lot less...much less...whew...stupid actually :)

"When I use the word "Christian" I am thinking of genuine believers"

Would you list for me what beliefs the genuine believers believe?

DennisDiehl said...

"If someone cannot give you an accurate explanation of the eternal state, as it is generally understood within Christianity, they probably have never looked into it and don't care."

Accurate? Who determines how accurate, accurate is? Lots of people, whole denominations and seminaries look into this "eternal state" all the time and feel each other are not as accurate as each feels they are.

Sometimes people "don't care" because this ability to discern the eternal state accurately is neither simple nor easily discernable. They suffer from church and religious fatigue and let it go. That is a normal reaction to the war that takes place in religion over the simple truth.

I'm not sure the "eternal state" was something James and Paul even agreed on, much less all those who followed later trying to figure out what these guys meant in the writings attributed to them.

Maybe I am missing something here.

DennisDiehl said...

As we know..there are knowable knowns that we know. There are knowable knowns that we don't know. There are unknowns that we know we don't know and there are unknowns that we don't know we don't know.

Just as the Plain Truth was neither plain nor necessarily true...beliefs are not necessarily truths. Two very different things.

At this point, some things just seem true to me and some not so true. Intuition can play a large part in getting to the real truth of any matter. It is, however, not how most function.

I recognize the difficulty for most to get past the idea that if the Bible says something, it is telling some truth. But in fact, it might just be another belief, opinion or wrong headed interpretation taken from some earlier part of the Bible.

I suppose the bottom line for me, at this time is that just because the Bible says something about anything does not automatically compel me to feel obligated to take it as true. We are brought up with the meme of "the Bible is the Greatest book ever written." To me, it is not. There are many many more informative, inspiring, interesting and helpful books than the Bible in the world of ideas, writing and human observations. It's not good enough to say the Bible is true because the Bible says it is. One cannot be expected to adopt second hand experiences as true when passed on from humans who say they see things I didnt see and hear voices literally I don't hear.

We can't even figure out what really happened on Novermber 22nd '63 or 911 with cameras running and experts doing their thing. Don't think thousands of years of oral history finally written down and then interperated midrashically by the Gospel writers gets close to the truth of matters. It is an attempt to find meaning in the inexplicable or in Jesus case, meaning in who he seems to have been or what he meant to convey. Again, even the Jesus of the Gospels is not the Christ of Paul. Paul interpreted Jesus in ways that James and Peter I am sure took great exception to as did the entire community of Jewish believers.

When James tells Paul that..."they certainly have heard that you have come," in Acts 21, 22-26, he may as well have said, "and they want to rip your head off."

Ok, nuff from me. Anyone else out there?

The Implacable Berean said...

Greetings, some excellent comments here, and I agree with Gavin that the Jewish Rabbi's know their material. May I recommend a visit to this website; http://www.outreachjudaism.org/questions.html
(sorry, you may have to copy and paste into your address bar, not sure if the link will go through)
Rabbi Singer is not only well versed in Judaism, but also knows Chrisitanity.
And for me a really big bonus; he knows of the teachings of HWA and WCG, including the errors!!
Had an excellent phone conversation with him the other day, after we had exchanged several emails, I found him easy to talk with and he enjoys answering questions, even difficult ones.
Dennis, good posts as usual, these would have made an excellent basis for a sermon.
I still say you should start your own church, what's one more amongst 2000 others?

Corky said...

DennisDiehl said...
Ok, nuff from me. Anyone else out there?

Certainly Dennis,

Antichrist here. Jesus was not a man - Jesus was a composite of what men considered would be a perfect man if he had actually existed.

He was the righteousness imagined of a man without sin by men who were not able to be what this composite man was. They strove to be like this "perfect man", in hopes of attaining perfection and being accounted worthy of eternal life by the God they worshipped.

Jesus was ... Jesus the high priest and son of Joseph in Ezra who had 12 priests under him.

Jesus was ... Jesus ben Pantera who was stoned and hanged on a tree on the eve of the Passover in 88 BC for preaching against the priesthood's injustices.

Jesus was ... Judas of Galilee who was accused of teaching the people to not pay the Roman tribute and of claiming to be Christ and causing a disturbance at the temple.

Jesus was many people in one man, including Joshua (Jesus) son of Nun, the conqueror of Canaan and Jesus Bar Abbas, the murderer of Roman soldiers at the temple garrison at the insurrection (overturning the money changers tables and removing the Roman Eagle symbol) oops - that was Judas of Galilee - oops that was . . . Jesus.

Along came Paul of Tarsus or that is, Apollonius of Tyana, and introduced the Greek God/man Jesus or Mithras and here we are. Or as Paul (Apollos) said - the truth of God revealed to him in a "mystery".

Douglas Becker said...

Outreach Judaism does explain that Jesus never claimed to be God and that God The Father was greater than he was.

It should be pointed out that one can still be a Christian and truly monotheistic: One scenario is that God The Father created The Word from Himself -- a lesser being, created, still divine, but not the original -- who later became Jesus Christ, but also the One through whom all things were created, including the Universe and angels.

Those who hold monotheism can never reconcile with Armstrongists who believe that there are two gods because it is a polytheistic religion and by definition idolatrous.

The wars can rage on, but if monotheism is true, Armstrongists will forever be trapped in idolatrous heretical paganism without any hope of being reconciled to the believers in One God, no matter how many other doctrines they may [or may not] hold in common.

DennisDiehl said...

Doug said:
"...but if monotheism is true, Armstrongists will forever be trapped in idolatrous heretical paganism without any hope of being reconciled to the believers in One God."

Again, this concept of more "gods" than one is not just an Armstrongist thing. The Church doctrine of the Trinity contains the seeds of Paganism and of course all the shenanagans it takes to to explain three in one, coequal and all that. It's a word game rooted in paganism as you say.

On top of that we have God impregnating a teen without the benefit of marriage, which to most would be "fornication" which I guess is ok if you are a god. Add to that that the actual act was done by the Holy Spirit, so now we have..well never mind.

You are right, there is no actual evidence that Jesus considered himself 'God in the Flesh" All later additions to the tale.

When Jesus said, "the son of man is Lord even of the sabbath" he did not mean as God he was the "Decider" of such things. "Son of man" was simply a way to say "humans" as in "sometimes humans have to make decisions in their needs over Sabbath keeping. Not what we were taught I realize.

It was Paul who brought his paganized, Hellenized, Mithraic of Tarsus god/man ideas into the mix.

Even more fascinating to me is that in I John we have soooooo soon in the story, the "Church" cursing anyone who didn't believe Jesus actually came in the flesh. How could something so radical become so dangerous an idea to the literal Jesus so soon? It would be like claiming JFK never was a human in the flesh a mere 40 years ago. The idea that Jesus never really was a fleshly human (Paul certainly did well without one) did not spring out of stupid and ignorant people. The idea was a real threat to the Church and the Gospel stories that had fleshed out a Jesus, at least for the last year or three of his life depending on which Gospel you read. It is not a small thing to consider that many just felt things were being made up along the way. There are skeptics like that of all ages when it comes to big claims by religious types. One could certainly not find a living Jesus in the writings of the many contemporary writers of thet times, the few controversial ones notwithstanding.

It's still all just ideas we come up with to try to explain things to ourselves that concern, intrigue or frighten we humans as we move along the conveyor belt of life, some never quite gettin on, some falling off early, in the middle and all at the end...

Bottom line..the NT sets itself up for the charge that monotheism is something that needs to be tortuously explained in leu of Jesus now. Or as Asimov said, "the best source of material against the Bible,is the Bible itself."
It has all the seeds you could ever wish for to grow a diverse crop of theologies and churches.

Jim Butler said...

As always, thanks to Gavin and Dennis for your thoughtful responses. Honest as usual.

Gavin, where did you get your sense of humor? Dad, Mom, perhaps both, or ....? It is quite unique. (if "quite unique" is acceptable with this very erudite bunch)

Again, as always, a number of other issues come up.

Douglas, you may or may not know,
there are at least a half dozen salaried ministers,in United, that are, as I am, unitarian. To be clear, we believe that Christ was not God, only the Father. Now, some of them might believe Christ is God now, after his resurrection, I don't know. On this point, at this juncture, I believe he is not God, and we will not be God, but, we will be whatever Christ is. He is the first of the firstfruits. Of course, he will always have the preeminence.

Thought this might be of interest to some. There are people, even ministers, in the Church of God that continue to make an attempt at thinking.

As difficult as that might be to believe.(grin)

Jim

DennisDiehl said...

Jim:
How refreshing you can believe something that is not fatal your participation. I was always told I was ahead of my times, to which I always said, most people burned at the stake in the past were. :)

Unfortunately, it takes Churches hundreds and hundreds of years to apologize, if ever. Compare how many time good science corrects itself along the way vs. how many times Churches do...

"I'm sorry" is not something I have ever heard from WCG who must feel they have done nothing along the way to warrant the need.

Oh well, live and burn.

The Implacable Berean said...

Greetings all once again.
This has been some of the best comments I've read here in a long time on a particular topic. It's a real pleasure to be able to read these without sorting through someone being nasty.
If I understood you correctly Jim, you are currently a UCG pastor?
If so I am pleasantly surprised you'd post here, as I know from recent past conversations with higher ups from UCG HQ, that some there do read this blog.
To me, at least politically, this would seem to be a risky thing for you to do if you are on the payroll or are credentialed.
If I may, a question off topic for you.
Is this your article?
http://www.servantsnews.com/sn0107/building.htm
Sorry, had to ask, back on topic now.
If one examines carefully, with an open mind, the scriptural writings, the writings of the church fathers, and the writings of secular historians, it seems to me, based upon many hours of research for the last 2 years, that the Jews seem to have the stronger case, that is no "literal" JC. The church father Origen alludes to JC living up to the time of the Roman Emp. Trajan, which would have made this God-man individual some 50 years of age, + or - a few. Perhaps there was a wandering 1st century rabbi named Yeshua, maybe not. Too much time has past for us to ever know for concrete certainty.
After much study, it can be strongly argued that the Bible the Christian world currently uses, was assembled by the Catholic Church, and at the same time, many verses therein were redacted by Catholic scribes.
This is a rather controversial statement, but it is not made with out cause, as it is well documented, and even admitted to. (St Flauvius comes to mind, a 5th century French Bishop who comes right out and says it).
To me, the natural question arises; Could we (Chrisitanity) have all been taught a fabrication?
A fabricated story that was put together to support an emerging theology and empire. I remember reading in the study notes of one of my KJ Bibles, a definiton for the word Catholic, it can mean "universal". A universal religion for the empire.
This would make sense to me, as the Romans were very astute politicians and militarily, and recognised that while one might conquer a nation with legions, it cannot hold it for long.
So they needed someting that the people would voluntarily submit to or peacefully follow.
History teaches us most people willingly follow their spiritual leaders, so I think we should consider the possibility of this scenario.
If one considers the big Roman picture, we find the concept of one religion for the whole empire makes good sense politically and militarily. So the Romans took little bits from all the various religions in the empire, put it in a pot, stirred, and out comes this theology called Chrisitanity. And it was the dominant religion in the region and Europe until Luther had the brilliant idea to nail 95 thesis to the cathedral door of the castle in Wittenburg, and his idea included Sola Sriptora, and now we have 2000 different sects all claiming the authority of the same book, yet paradoxically not agreeing upon how to read or teach it. Even Luther himself realised his error, but by then, Pandora's box was blown open.
I have found from my studies of ancient comparative religion, elements of Mithra, Babylonian Mystery Religion, Judaism, and Hellenistic thought in the NT, just name a few. Ever watch a high RC mass, a Babylonian priest would feel right at home. Tertuallian himself it is recorded got very upset when he learned the origins of the the service.
One can also spot the re-written parts in the Septuagint as well.
I have come to think, that as the Roman version of Chrisitanity hardened, it brutally subdued all who disagreed with it. The Essenes, Nazarites, Gnostics, etc, all were all wiped out. The great library at Nag Hammadi was burned, and history records a well organised effort made to eradicate all traces of any aspect of the competing theologies.
At least today we can have different opinions without being turned into "cat food" by the church president or local pastor (though I suspect mine might like to do something like that to me at the monment). Ok, I'll get off my soapbox now...
Comments, anyone?

DennisDiehl said...

"After much study, it can be strongly argued that the Bible the Christian world currently uses, was assembled by the Catholic Church, and at the same time, many verses therein were redacted by Catholic scribes.
... documented, and even admitted to. (St Flauvius comes to mind, a 5th century French Bishop who comes right out and says it)."

Uh oh...
Get ready for:

"There is no evidence beloved St. Flavius said this..."

"This position has been discredited loooooooooong ago by scholars."

"If all the evil attributed to the Mother Church were written down...there would not be books enough to contain them."

"Lord Darth Vader himself, would not be His Holiness but rather Dick Cheney as two cannot share the same office and be agreed."

"Mary, Mother of Jesus..where do you get this stuff?"

or perhaps from Dr. Thiel

"Sadly and yet of course, I deem this correct and would be one of the few times I find myself in agreement with those in UCG, once affiliated with WCG, GCG, LCG and perhaps even the WSPCA."

:)

DennisDiehl said...

I"m thinking Jim meant he had the same Unitarian belief as a dozen or so UCG ministers and not that he was one himself..a minister. I thought at first that's what he meant too. If he is, and that's his real name, well....we can save money on that salary now..:)

Anonymous said...

How is it that people can claim to "know" that which cannot be known?

Without a time machine it is impossible to "know" what Jesus was or said for sure.

Especially the comments I've seen here on 'What comes next'; Since I have not ever in my life had someone die and then come back to me to report on what, if anything, happens next, then that means to me that it is all speculation or wishful thinking.

On one hand herbie taught that nothing happens after death until the resurrection and on the other hand in the bible I read that Moses and Elijah appeared in spirit form in the New Testament. Enoch was taken bodily into Heaven in the old testament.

The point of my rambling is that since you cannot possibly 'know' these things, then this is where faith comes in. Taking that one step further, proving armstrongism or another philosophy wrong and then changing what you have your faith in does not demonstrate a lack of faith but a willingness to learn and change. If we could absolutely 'know' what happens next or whether or not Paul had epilepsy or spoke with Jesus, there wouldn't be any room for faith which is the real cornerstone of religion and civilization.

DennisDiehl said...

"If we could absolutely 'know' what happens next or whether or not Paul had epilepsy or spoke with Jesus, there wouldn't be any room for faith which is the real cornerstone of religion and civilization."

I understand. Unfortunately faith is often what fills the void until facts come along to fill in the faith. Then we see that what we had faith in was not exactly so and have to move on and either grow up, or, as many do, dig in and yell louder.

Neotherm said...

Dennis, you wrote: "That's an odd way, to me, to decide what is literally true or just an idea. One can "know where they are going and know it with vigor, but be wrong as it plays out over time."

It would even be odder if people, whom the Holy Spirit is working with, would not know the outcome of what they believe. But, of course, if you do not believe in God, a statement like this can never make any sense. For that matter, if you do not believe in God, the concept of Truth becomes soft. You may expect to simply sink into the quagmire of solipsism.

You wrote: "The Bible lends itself to a wide variety of viewpoints or there would not be such a wide variety available, so in effect the Bible produces nominal believers according to this."

Anything written can be misconstrued, but it is a mythology that the Bible is a jumble of concepts. This also goes to the point about "genuine believers". There is a quite solid body of doctrine in the Bible that Christians agree on. If you examine Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran and Baptist Systematic Theologies, the basic understanding is the same.

A genuine believer is someone who believes these doctrinal basics and practices them. Some polls indicate that the bulk of people who profess Christianity also believe that there is no connection between Christianity and the everyday conduct of their lives. Genuine Christianity doesn't allow for this disconnect.

You wrote: "Accurate? Who determines how accurate, accurate is? Lots of people, whole denominations and seminaries look into this "eternal state" all the time and feel each other are not as accurate as each feels they are."

Enough accuracy to know that the Millenium is on earth and that there is a New Heavens and New Earth in the future. Contrast this level of understanding with the simplistic notion of "going to heaven." Once again if you peruse a variety of works on systematic theology from various denominations, you will see that they agree on the intermediate state, the millenium and the new heavens and new earth.

People who persist in ignoring these commonly accepted elements of eschatology are either Armstrongites or nominal Christians, based on just my experience.

-- Neo

Anonymous said...

Dennis wrote: "Unfortunately faith is often what fills the void until facts come along to fill in the faith. Then we see that what we had faith in was not exactly so and have to move on and either grow up, or, as many do, dig in and yell louder."

...Exactly!

DennisDiehl said...

" Neo said..."It would even be odder if people, whom the Holy Spirit is working with, would not know the outcome of what they believe."

Well...I can't comment on whether or not the Holy Spirit is the entity or force energizing the belief that leads to "knowing the outcome..." I realize it is a difficult concept to get past that just because the Bible says something, it is true.


Neo..."But, of course, if you do not believe in God,"

For the fifth or sixth time here, I do not believe in the Bible God.
That is not the same as not believing or trusting in a spirituality that also explains the world we see and the one we don't see. I'm not sure humans are all the evil bastards the Bible makes us out to be in need of redemption by blood and controlled by a priesthood of redeemed evil bastards...:) I am uncomfortable with the seeming spiritual canabalism of eating the body and drinking the blood of the godman to be in the club...a very pagan practice long before Jesus and the Church came along.

Neo..." a statement like this can never make any sense."

Makes perfect sense to me. I soaked in how much sense that made to me in the past.

Neo..."For that matter, if you do not believe in God, the concept of Truth becomes soft. You may expect to simply sink into the quagmire of solipsism."

"I am that I am..." If that is believing in the self, I guess I do. Some say the "I am" is all we can ever know in reality.

Neo..."Enough accuracy to know that the Millenium is on earth and that there is a New Heavens and New Earth in the future. Contrast this level of understanding with the simplistic notion of "going to heaven."

I have absolutely no problem with the fact that this is what the NT teaches. I went from Presbyterian to WCG because of my questions about why Pres. says heaven and what about all these other scriptures? However, that said, seeing what the Bible says, to me, no longer is proof that it is so. This goes back to trusting the visions, voices and veracity of people who only permit me to know what they know by just trusting their vision for me. Perhaps I see just as much duplicity, politics and rancor among the early church Apostles even as depicted in the NT as I do in all the present COG's who claim that common heritage of truth. I am frankly burned out by religious leadership and by people who say they know and probably don't. It's where I am. It does not work to tell me, as some do, "well you had a bad experience with that group. Come to ours and we are different." Uh huh...

Neotherm said...

Dennis: What is "a spirituality"?
Is that some kind of God in your mind? Or just any kind of alternative, any alternative, to the God of the Bible?

I will be the first to admit that belief in God (of the Bible) is not simply the total of a series of factors in an equation. If it were, making a compelling argument for belief in God to people would be an easy and deterministic process. There is a mystical dimension involved.

It is a mystery to me why some people are Christians and some people are not. My view of non-believers is that they are like someone who wants to sit down and dine on a hockey puck instead of a steak.

-- Neo

DennisDiehl said...

Neo asks: Dennis: What is "a spirituality"?
Is that some kind of God in your mind? Or just any kind of alternative, any alternative, to the God of the Bible?

Now that's a good question.

To begin with, a personal spirituality comes from the inside out. It is personal. Does not need a priesthood to motivate, chastise or lay claim it's resources.

Religion, to me, and by that I mean that which is "organized" (although the term organized religion has proven an oxymoron to me)and requires belonging to the group that must all believe the same right things. It is what is poured into one's head as a set of beliefs that are expected to be adhered to. To not go with the group is to risk dismissal and all we see in history such as excommunication, disfelloshipping and shunning.

The religious group is special, chosen, unique, set apart and always right. Of course one can be spiritual in a religious group, but in fact, the truly spiritual types, those motivated by free thought, exploration of truths, rejection of that which is proven false, are a threat to a religious group. Religious people are loud, demand to be heard and long to be believed. They usually wear masks and have two lives..minimum :)

Spiritual people shed their masks as being themselves is no longer full of consequences and judgement. Spiritual people don't have a compulsive need to be agreed with or even right. They are seekers, not "I found it" types.

Spirituality tends to lead to a more authentic person, warts and all because it recognizes the humanity of humans and the duplicity of those who seem to be somewhat but are human too.

Personal spirituality does not require one adhere to a set of doctrines.

To me, we're all equal and we are all part of the same one thing be that God or life or something defined by quantum physics. It's not out to get us, is benevolent and does not require me to be worship and adore it.

It is impossible to command someone to "love the lord thy God, with ALL, thy heart, ALL thy soul, and All thy mind.." Just the idea of commanding that negates it being possible and certainly is not something that can come from within. Commanding people to love something is simply impossible in reality. Demanding obedience, for our own good even, upon pain of temporary or permanent death makes no sense to me either. The sign down the road from me here that says, "Love Jesus or Burn forever (or up) in Hell" pretty much exemplifies here what I mean. "Love daddy or I will kill you." Makes no sense and is not real.

Religion seems obcessed with these ideas and spirituality seems to recognize the problem with such things. Perhaps it's like asking the question..."If all those little babies had to die at the hand of Herod while Jesus got to escape the massacre, can we not say that those children had to die for Jesus before Jesus died for them or us? (Don't worry, it didn't happen). Religion says "that's a stupid question and God's ways are not your ways." A spiritual person is not well controlled by such answers.

Everyone's God is in their mind. There is no belief in God that is not in the mind. That's where the concept of God resides. Even the idea of God as "out there" or "up there" is in the mind and no one, in this life, is ever going past that concept.

Recently one of the WCG writers noted that God came to Abraham's house to visit him. That's religion for ya. And while I would not ever, in hindsite, consider WCG to fit the definition of a spirituality, it is even worse now as a mere Sunday School religion with a big bank account.

I'm probably rambling. Just thoughts here on the question. I am sure there is a better answer and I am purposely avoiding an Internet search to give you a list of the qualities of spirituality vs. being religious. This is just me talkin.

How do I reflect a personal spirituality?

I meditate to just be still and quiet (unbelievable I know) and go inside to just be me. While most people don't bother to note their own breathing..it is important to stop and consider it once in awhile. Meditating, not on a topic, but in a state of nothing, is one of the most difficult things I have ever endeavored to do. My mind runs like a train mostly. I need to not do that, so I practice not doing that. I have found the practice of meditating more meaningful than praying and begging for things that never happen anyway. I am not sure what "ask whatever you will and I will give it to you" means. Actually if literally true, it would be a spritual disaster.

All life is sacred as is the planet and the universe in which we live. It's a marvelous mystery and good science trumps bad religion everytime.

Reality is not what it appears to be and we only see the world in a limited way. (Long story so I spare you.)

The observer in all of us, is our spirit processing our world through a very limited five senses.
The implications of this are staggering. The world before it reaches our senses is waves. It may be dark and silent being noisey and bright only after it passes through our brain/mind. (Very long story :)

Millions of humans believe in a God and have a deep spirituality outside the God of the Bible. It's not all or nothing, though I know Bible readers will disagree.

Truly spiritual people understand GWB is a smirking chimp....har har.

Ok, not a very good answer I know, but thanks for asking. It's the tip of a very large berg!

BambooBends said...

A German Pope...isn't that part of that joke about the Europe where the English are the cooks, the Italians run the government, the Swiss are the lovers....

The plan of God. Now there's a concept. A being which every religion says is beyond comprehension is supposed to have a comprehendable plan in a book written over 2000 years ago?

How about "you kids play nice in that sand box"?

The closest you might come to it might be in that Two Commandments thing, Love God, Love Mankind.

The problem is that first one, Love God? Just how do you love a being you'll never fully comprehend? What abstract formula exists for that? Wars then and now are fought over loving God. Hell, Armstrongism was rippped assunder in the name of loving God. And no side showed love towards fellow man.

Men are killed daily over "loving God". People strap explosive belts around their waists in an attempt to love God. "Loving God" is probably the singular most destructive concept ever invented. Or at least the most misunderstood.

Jesus is questioned by an adversary about which is the great commands, Jesus repeats what the man already knows the Jews taught. It was a common teaching.

Love God and Love mankind. Pleased with the answer Jesus gave, the man adds "to love mankind is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifice".

Yup more important than the way they were taught to show love to God, from the Torah itself! Amazing statement! And they adored their temple, rituals and laws!

When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God."The guy got pretty close to the truth of the matter. The Golden rule.

There it is...folks...you love God by Loving mankind. God's plan for man. Have a good time and don't drink and drive and remember to tip your waitress on the way out.

DennisDiehl said...

Interesting topic. It was fascinating to understand that there were numerous types of people, doing and teaching all the things I thought were unique to Jesus, the Apostles and Paul in the first century. The Roman occupation seems to have set off a lot of zealous fervor, although one would not get the idea there even was a Roman occupation in the NT world of the Gospels. Rather like leaving out the spread of the Nazi's during WWII when giving a history of Europe at the same time.

Here is a interesting site on this first century teacher and possible biblical spinoffs.

http://www.geocities.com/nephilimnot/apollonius_of_tyanna.html

"Is Apollonius of Tyana - Paul of Tarsus ?

Apollonius of Tyanna, a Pythagorean philosopher and contemporary of the Jesus Christ of the Gospels. Many agnostic and atheistic scholars as well as other free thinkers believe that some portions of the Gospels of Jesus Christ are actually modeled on the adventures of Apollonius. Quite possibly, due to the lack of historical evidence for Jesus as depicted in the Gospels. - some believe him to have actually been the Jesus Christ. Others postulate the theory that Paul the Apostle and Apollonius are one and the same.

Some scholars argue that Paul of Tarsus a/k/a Paul the Apostle did not exist, and that All of the original writings and teachings attributed to him in the New Testament are the writings and teachings of Pol of Tyana a/k/a Apollonius of Tyanna. Other scholars present reasonable arguments that Paul was only a mythical character patterned after Pol.

The hypothesis that Apollonius was actually the apostle Paul lends itself much credence upon a brief review of the available facts.."

(The rest follows in the article)

Jim Butler said...

To answer two questions:

I am not a minister.
Yes, I did write the article in
Servants News.

Some rambling thoughts concerning the plan of God.

If God is God (and I believe he is)he has a plan. A plan thought out in a way that is way beyond our comprehension. Way beyond.

I believe it is true that government is the foundation for life. Self government and government for society. The problem.

In society, and in the church, men don't have a clue as to how to run government. We are selfish, self-serving, dishonest...and the beat goes on. This should be obvious to everyone by now. Big time obvious.

For a number of reasons God created us this way. I think it has much to do with his process (which he has thought through like only God can) of developing character.

If you have never thought deeply about how to create a being with character, it is very mind expanding. And we can't even begin to understand the process.

So, to keep this short, God is going to have some firstfruits. (nice concept, huh?) Personally, I think there will only be 144,000. Not many in 6000 years. These will form the foundation of God's government, at first, here on earth. These 144,000 will actually be humble. (now there's a concept for religious people) They will also be honest, esteem others better than themselves, and have all those godly traits religious people talk about.

I tend to believe in universal salvation. And so, when it is all said and done, we all live happily ever after.

Jim

Skeptic said...

Neotherm says "When one dies, the great majority of Christians believe that we will enter the Intermediate State to await resurrection at the return of Christ"

I think we can all agree that one of the largest groups of Christians are the Catholics. I attended catechism classes from Kindergarten through 12th grade; I know what they beleive. Catholics believe you either go to heaven or hell; also purgatory and limbo are in the mix. There is NO "intermediate state". Yes, they also teach the ressurrection of the dead, but after the ressurrection, you go right back to heaven!

From my brushes with Protestant churches, it seems to me the mainstream Protestants believe the same thing. You go to heaven or to hell right after you die. No intermediate state.