Sunday, 3 February 2008

A Very Hard Question

This is a special posting by Dennis Diehl, who is seeking some AW reader feedback in preparing an upcoming article. The SAB link to the right of the Bible texts takes you to the relevant page of the Skeptic's Annotated Bible.



It is obvious from scripture that Jesus predicted his own resurrection, either by his own efforts...

John 2:19-21 - Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. SAB

Or be raised up by God the Father.

Acts 2:32 - This Jesus hath God raised up.... SAB

Acts 4:10 - Jesus Christ... whom God raised from the dead.... SAB

Acts 13:30 - But God raised him from the dead. SAB

Galatians 1:1 - Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead) SAB

Colossians 2:12 - Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. SAB

1 Thessalonians 1:10 - ... his Son ... whom he raised from the dead. SAB

This, of course, implies that before his death, Jesus knew he would be resurrected over a mere weekend and back better than ever "sitting on the right hand of God."

God as well, knew he could and would raise Jesus back to life after a short weekend (Imagine how much more at ease human fathers would be if they knew that if their children died, they could get them back in a mere three days good as new?) Would take a lot of the fear out of life and having kids.

This being the case,..

Why is the sacrifice of Jesus such a great sacrifice for all humanity? Why is "God giving his only begotten son" so amazing if God knew He would raise him back to life again better than ever. Why is this mere weekend inconvenience for God and Jesus, the ultimate sacrifice for all humanity. Should a real sacrifice not stay dead to be considered a sacrifice?

This question seems to me to be one of the hardest of all to answer for Christians if they take time to think about it. It was born out of a comment a client made, who had lost her only daughter in a car accident and who was tired of the Church telling her that God gave his only son and understands her pain.

She said "No...my daughter is still dead, and God got Jesus back after a mere weekend. I would be willing to wait a weekend to get her back. God giving Jesus was a weekend inconvenience, and my daughter is still dead. Jesus should still be dead for me to be impressed by a Deity giving His only son for us."

A very hard question indeed.

173 comments:

Bob said...

I don't see it as a difficult question at all. It is certain you are looking at the opposite end of the message, the lesson, and the answer. To start with the question of a weekend wait is totally flawed, as usual.
One part of the equation you totally missed was the purpose of His arrival on earth. It wasn't just to die, silly, it was to live a perfect life and then die. I'd like to see you do that. If you can live a perfect life, make no mistakes, tell no lies, etc. etc. then complain about a "hard question". It is only hard to those who have no concept of the "rest of the story".
Of course, I expect to see you jump and say, where's the rest of the answer? Well, that will come when you can understand the first part of the answer given above. Please give us a history of your perfection so far please. Then you too can die for us.
Bob

DennisDiehl said...

It's a sincere question not having anything to do with my being an unworthy sacrifice myself.

I told Gavin I hoped for some thoughtful responses instead of personally snarky ones. So far:
Snarky 1
Thoughtful 0

The question was born out of a woman who was not comforted by her church telling her that God understood her pain because he lost his only child as well and her finding it unhelpful due to Jesus getting to come back.

But I appreciate your perspective.

Tired Skeptic said...

I will play the rare role of apologist here for this question.

Suppose that it really is true that a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day to God. Also suppose that Jesus, as the Word was a created being made directly from God Himself to create the entirety of the Universe and also the angels. God would have spent billions and perhaps hundreds of billions of years with His Son.

Then it comes to the day that He sacrifices His Son and His Son dies miserably. Each day is as a thousand years -- each tick of the clock has God, The Father, waiting for the time He can resurrect His Son. It is an excruciating time to be separated from someone so close that each second seems like an eternity over three days which seems like 3,000 years.

On the flip side, while it is a sad depressing thing to lose a child, either to death, or perhaps worse to something like a terrible disease and mental illness, having to endure the stress of pain in empathy for your own child, in the scheme of things over an eternity, it is a mere blip. If there is a resurrection to eternal life, the momentary pain of a lifetime will measure as nothing over, say, 200 trillion years of time.

This is not a flip answer. It really is difficult. But if there is an eternity, then truly, our lives as human beings is terrifyingly temporary.

There are those who take comfort in these thoughts as a matter of faith.

DennisDiehl said...

Thanks Tired Skeptic.

How do you feel about the concept that a real sacrifice should stay dead? Sincere question here.

Bob said...

Thanks for the fast response.
Like it or not, and I don't, the family who lost the girl are humans. Their wonderful daughter died, and that was a horrible tragedy. And, right now it seems very difficult, or depending on when it happened, they may have come to handle it some better. I hope so. But, the fact is, the girl, here parents, and we are humans. The Messiah's death and resurrection did not promise that we would no longer have human suffering. The girl did not die over the weekend for our sins, she died because she was human, living a "normal" human life. In other words, it was not her, nor our mission to die for a weekend after a life of perfection for the salvation of ALL mankind. She will, though, be resurrected to life at the time appointed for the rest of mankind. The Messiah's appointment was then after only three days.
Also, the Messiah's death and res. was not to change time for us. We still have to live through whatever our regular lives present to us, but for those who understand, now with the realization that there is a possibility of life again after death. For those who don't believe or understand there is no answering them since their mind is not open to such answers.
All, and I mean all, will be made alive again to live in eternity happily and abundantly.
Bob

Anonymous said...

It was not his only His death but the way it came about. Take your belt and strip the skin off your son's body, pull his facial hair out of his cheek, ram a crown of thorns on his head then nail him to a tree.

Have his friends run and hide from the mob.

In the early 1900's many a black male had a thing like this happen to them for saying " good morning" to a white woman.

I'm thinking that the face of Jesus was near eye level with the mob, so they were spitting directly in his face.

Have this take place in front of their mother.

Ram a spear in his side.

Or have your sons do this to you.

I cuss and swear if I just stub my toe.

You can go to You Tube and watch the allied films of the liberation of Buchenwald, Dachau and others. Links will take you to other Nazi sites as well with the allies filming the discovery of war crime sites. I watched one where the Nazi thugs were dragging a young woman by her hair. The youn lady too would have had parents. The Nazi thugs even filmed some of their mass murderings. You Tube has many of these you can watch.

Jesus was a war crimes victim. Good vs evil.

We'll all be alive again. Either through reincarnation, resurrection, or just plain a ghost, either right away or in a time right for you. All cultures seem to have a hard wire program of this in their brains.

I acknowledge that this is of little help to parents who have lost their children. I've known people who have gone insane at the death of their child even though they believe that they will see their child again.

Bob said...

Dennis wrote: How do you feel about the concept that a real sacrifice should stay dead? Sincere question here.

Response: A real animal sacrifice should stay dead. A unique sacrifice of a special Being should not stay dead. The resurrection part was to show that death for humans is not permanent. Otherwise, if He was still in the grave what would be the purpose? Dead is dead. I don't think that would give a very good picture of what was promised mankind. Man was promised life after death. He was not promised just a sacrifice so he could live the physical life without any problems until death caught up with him.

Tired Skeptic said...

How do you feel about the concept that a real sacrifice should stay dead?

Again, as an apologist: God the Father isn't going to let the daughter of your client stay dead -- she will be resurrected. Believers feel that God does value humans in His Plan above beasts. To the girl, it will be just a few seconds of lost consciousness.

There is another issue at stake. If Jesus were really the Son of God, sacrificed for all humanity, then there were people to see and things to do, when the excruciatingly long waiting period for God The Father was over. The Word had already been committed to the other phases of the project for the sake of humanity and he certainly couldn't stay dead as a sacrifice. For one thing, for your client's daughter to be resurrected one day, there'd need to be the return of Jesus and the resurrection of all the dead. Jesus was merely the first of many to be raised from the dead to eternal life.

Again, not to be flip, but there are sacrifices and then there are sacrifices. The Apostle Paul calls for Christians to be living sacrifices. According to the pattern, Jesus was both a living and a dead sacrifice. And, remember, again, from the Scripture, he was a sacrifice to God, His Father.

As to whether or not I actually believe all this, well, ask me again when I get everything sorted out. About five years should do it.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that a sacrifice must be permanent.

Age of Reason said...

The problem with the texts Dennis cites is that most are unreliable.

John is the last of the gospels, and whoever wrote it was, shall we say. "creative" in the telling.

Colossians is deutero-Pauline... i.e. it's pseudonymous, or less delicately, a con job.

Acts is an inter-Christian political treatise designed to paper over the cracks in early church history by rehabilitating a heretical Paul by pulling his fangs.

Which leaves Galatians and 1 Thessalonians as credible... EXCEPT Paul never met Jesus and paid scant attention to those who had.

So we know not a lot about what Jesus thought his own fate or purpose would be. SO, while "it is obvious from scripture that Jesus predicted his own resurrection," it is less obvious that scripture is conveying fact rather than later imaginative speculation.

Did Jesus expect to be resurrected? Probably not.

Was Jesus resurrected in the traditional sense of the dogma? Absolutely not.

DennisDiehl said...

There is another issue at stake "If Jesus were really the Son of God, sacrificed for all humanity, then there were people to see and things to do, when the excruciatingly long waiting period for God The Father was over. The Word had already been committed to the other phases of the project for the sake of humanity and he certainly couldn't stay dead as a sacrifice"

So the idea that Jesus could be the ultimate sacrifice is balanced by the fact that he had to be back to work on Monday morning?

DennisDiehl said...

Age of Reason:

That is my bigger view of it all as well. What and if something did or didn't happen as recorded is a whole other disturbing facet of this question of Jesus dying and being the ultimate human sacrfice for all humanity.

I'm trying to get a handle on in what way this sacrfice which didn't cost Jesus anything much (and don't say he had to step down as God for 33 years) nor God anything even in a very short term is the ultimate sacrifice upon which all the emotion of Easter or Passover are based.

Anonymous said...

"Did Jesus expect to be resurrected? Probably not."

I would say that the author of the Jesus who felt forsaken and that God did not intervene before his death reflects this idea. I suspect push the Romans to the point of God's intervention was what that Jesus had in mind and it went wrong.

Reality said...

There are a couple things different for both God and the Messiah, which differ from most human death.

This is personal opinion, of course, but I believe that Christ lived with God before the earth's creation and that his life was as a higher being.

Then 'by choice' he first sacrificed that type life in order to be lowered to human life.

There was also the aspect of choice in that he had to choose to live the human life as a perfect example. There was always the risk that he might not always make the right choice - right up to the end where he was able to say, "It is finished." Not meaning that all that he would ever do was finished, but that what he had been sent here to do was finished.

His, and probably our, resurrection was/is dependant on him making the right choices every time.

I don't think this is to say that our human lives are more expendable than his pre-existent life, but it is different somehow.

Anonymous said...

Dennis wrote: How do you feel about the concept that a real sacrifice should stay dead? Sincere question here.

The reason Jesus stayed dead and in the earth for 72 hours was to be considered really dead by Jewish law it had to be 72 hours legally.

Neotherm said...

I believe the key to this question is the mode of the incarnation. Jesus was fully God and fully human. This seems to me strange, but only because I have no understanding of the mechanism of this duality. But I don't have to understand that.

Christ experienced death through his human ontology. And that death was like the death that we will die.

For his sacrifice to be effective, does he have to stay dead -- that is in a state of unawareness -- for eternity? That idea of course rests on the Armstrongite idea of death which involves soul sleep.

The definition of death aside, it is God who determined what was the necessary sacrifice for salvation.
I believe that the only reason why it was necessary for Christ to die is because God determined that. Christ could have come to earth, not as a human, but as mighty and powerful being and simply announced that salvation was available. We know from the Biblical record that Christ forgave sins before he was sacrificed.

Christ's death resembled our deaths in some respects and in other respects it did not. But that is God's call. Some of us will have loved ones who die and will be consigned to Hell, for example. But God will never experience this precise kind of loss.

I believe God always knew the human dimension of death and grief. But he made us know that he knows through Christ and what happened to Christ. Christ's sacrifice was to inform us not to inform God.

-- Neo

Reality said...

Neo,

I have to agree with some of what you say.

I have trouble with the idea that Christ came as a 'sacrifice' anyway. I think he came, as he said when on trial, "to tell the truth". It cost him his life, but I do not think his life was a reqirement by God that had to be satisfied before we could attain salvation. As you mention, forgiveness was available long before he ever came to earth.

Also the people learned that the sacrifice of their children was evil, so why would God turn around and do exactly what He forbade? I do believe that Messiah is the son,
and not The God.

A lot of extra ideas have been inserted into both the older and newer texts, which someone collected from other texts and then named it all, "The Holy Bible".

Anonymous said...

I can't answer the question from an Xtian basis, but I will take a stab at it from a Gnostic perspective: Maybe the theology therein might make your client feel a little less like ripping out the throats of her fellow church-members. (I know I would if I were in her shoes!)

Gnostics hold the view that the bible itself is a collection of parables, a bunch of yes, very nice very holy texts, but they are, in the end, morality fables and nothing more. "Jesus" as pictured in the New Testament actually did not die because he did not live. He did not exist.

The Gnostics believe that the early christian faith (before it got taken over by what became the roman catholic church) believed in a god that permeated everything; not a personalized god, but a divine fire, that existed (and created) the universe and humans and everything in it.

Gnostic theology states that humans were created so that this god might know itself, through the perceptions of the humans it created.

(I'm not saying I follow through with all of the Gnostic practices; for practical purposes I like the Quaker example better than most.)

You with me so far? Okay, so then the books of the bible outlining the christ figure's life are merely a guideline, an example of what a perfect life can be, if one chooses to live it.

Where the text got corrupted (the Gnostics believe) is when the crucifixion became rendered as a death. Originally, in the Gnostic belief system, the crucifixion happened at the christ figure's birth, and indeed it happened for all of us at our own births.

The theology as I understand it goes something like this: The divine fire that is the creative, generative force behind the universe and everything in it, including humans, periodically strikes sparks off of itself, and these "sparks" are then sent down to earth to manifest in human form. This is what sets humans apart from the rest of the animal kingdom.

(I am using very liberal gnostic terminology here; the mainliner Gnostic theological terms are much more technical and are somewhat inaccessible.)

Through the process of physical human birth, these sparks, in the act of being born, are actually dying as "gods", by giving up their part of the godhead. They are doing so willingly, they make this sacrifice, so that they may be able to see the divine source they come from, from the outside. From an observer's perspective, as it were.

Thus we have the crucifixion at birth, and humans spend the rest of their lives trying to get back to "the divine source" that they have voluntarily removed themselves from, prior to birth. (The Gnostics claim they have the inside track on doing so. They don't.)

At death, Gnostics believe they are returned (resurrected) back into the divine godhead, reunited with the infinite, limitless source. Their spirit then remingles with the divine fire, and another spark is struck off, that may or may not contain elements of the spark that went before.

If a spark that gets struck off does not live a good life (as provided for us by the example life of the christ figure, left behind for us in the parables of the bible), then they are sent through the process again.

If a spark that gets struck off decides it doesn't believe in god, and wants nothing to do with trying to determine what, exactly, the god they've been sent to observe is, well, they get sent through again.

If the divine spark is successful, in this life, with living the perfect life, they go back into the divine fire, get reabsorbed, and redistributed, and portions of their essence (either the good bits or the bits that need recycling they're not sure which) get sent through again.

So the moral of the story is, as with everything, try and live a good life while you're here, and if you're not so much worried about what's at the end of the line, you might get a chance to take the trip again. Or not. But parts of you might.

All of us, as divine sparks, have the same essence of the divine fire within us, and recognizing it within each other is the living embodiment of the golden rule.

Therefore, in the Gnostic theology, they don't have to do cartwheels around the problem of the three-day weekend, because in their system, it never happened in the first place.

The death and resurrection is indeed a corruption of a far older Egyptian myth surrounding Horus. But I won't get into that argument again, I know how much Pagan Roots discussions are reviled around here. :-)

I offer your client my deepest condolences on her terrible loss, and I hope that her soul eventually finds some rest.

XCGMouse said...

I submitted the same question in a bible study when I joined the WWCG, about 25 years ago.
The minister didn't really seem to get what I was asking and sorta blew it off.

I brought it up a couple times in conversation with others in church, but no one seemed to think it was a problem.

My issue was a little bit different, though. I couldn’t understand how Jesus could trade his life for ours and still have a life left over for himself.

I hadn’t thought about for a while, but it no longer bothers me that way.

Instead of thinking of the atonement as an economy issue, I think of it as more of a blame issue. Isn’t that what Jesus is there for, to take the blame?

And what’s wrong with heaping the sins of the world onto Him? Isn’t He supposed to fix the whole mess?

I’ve had a few “prayers” saying life isn’t fair and blaming God for the whole thing.

The answer to those prayers, and I believed they were answered, seems to be that I'm supposed feed on Christ’s body and blood for sustenance.

Deconstruct that!

byker bob said...

I guess it really doesn't matter whether a human considers Christ's sacrifice sufficient, because God does.

What alternative would you suggest, Dennis? Would it be adequate if a member of the deity were extinguished for all eternity?

I believe that the Jesus phenomenon was multi-level. He was an example of what God intended for the rest of us. He was a prototype, much the same as Adam.
Also, God's law is good. We're not able to keep it, in fact nobody except Jesus ever did completely keep it. And, in keeping it, He also fulfilled it, and taught us how to live in the spirit of the law. He even lives his life through Christians, and that's what God the Father recognizes as righteousness, Christ's righteousness in us.

I love reading the gospels, because Jesus was such an effective teacher, had a great sense of humor, and was arguably the most intelligent man who ever lived. Just the way He got into the Pharisees faces was awesome. He knew that the Pharisees considered it a sin to make clay on the sabbath, so He deliberately did it as part of healing a blind man on the sabbath. He had pet nicknames for His disciples, too. He called the sons of Zebedee "Boanerges", or sons of thunder. When He counselled Peter, it was similar to a professional review that one might receive while working for a Fortune 500 Company!

Dennis, I know you're trying to do some good here. I know you're trying to help people that are still caught up in the cult. But, when you refer to the passion of Christ as Jesus' bad weekend, you lose much of your audience.

Putting this into modern day personalized terms, what would you do if one Saturday morning, someone came to the hospital, complaining about a failed medical procedure, and spit in your face? And what if they left, but came back with a mob to beat you to a bloody pulp, holding you responsible for something you hadn't even done? And, what if (assuming she's still living) they brought your mother along to watch? Finally, not being satisfied, they found some grotesque way of killing you? I'm not suggesting anything more than a mental exercise here, but wouldn't that be more than just a bad weekend for you?

I'm going to admit something here, and I fully expect to be made fun of for it. I can't read the crucifixion narrative in any of the gospels without actually breaking down and crying! That's been true since I was a child. Here's another thing: I think that's good!

As a biker, I've come to realize that Jesus Christ was the toughest man who ever lived. I respect that immensely. There's no human way I could do what He did for all of us.

Jesus is my friend, and I love Him.

BB

ripley said...

Bob's "I'd like to see you do that" comment is unnecessarily mocking and totally off topic. I have always had a hunch that God is far more understanding and tolerant of skeptic's questions than his "followers" are (especially those chosen ones who are quick to dismiss those who hurt or try to help those who hurt).

Organized religion is a mess, as evidenced by vapid, all-knowing answers like Bob's. Such smug, self-righteous posturing overshadows whatever good that even has a chance of shining through.

Anonymous said...

The crucifixion story is a moving narrative, as indeed it's meant to be, and both the Pauline and pre-Constantine versions of it are graphic and unforgiving. That is how they were intended.

The Gnostic belief (which I didn't really explain clearly enough in my comment above) is that the crucifixion story speaks to the "stripping away" of the parts of the divine spark that makes it a part of the divine source, that they believe takes place at birth.

This would, according to the Gnostics, be a horrifying sacrifice; after literally having infinity as your playground, you're stuck in this (to borrow Dennis' oft-used phrase) carbon-based wetsuit with five senses (often lousy ones at that), for a short amount of time, and you enter the world small, helpless and unable to care for yourself, and remain that way for a large part of your life, for too short a time you're able to live at your fullest, and then you're helpless and unable to care for yourself again.

I would definitely call that a sacrifice, and that's what the crucifixion story is an allegory for, in the Gnostic theology.

mel said...

Dennis, you are sure to get some folks riled by asking such questions!

However, I do believe that it's ok to ask such questions.

My dad liked a concept of Jesus as destroyer. He got it from "the church", and it always seemed strange to me. He liked the idea of Jesus making mincemeat of others who would dare challenge Him.
My dad would love both what he saw as psychological smooshing as well as physical smooshing of those with views other than which he had.

He liked to think "Jesus really stuck it to those stinkers", as well as "when Jesus returns, He will make the earth thick with the blood of more of those stinkers"

I recognized an insanity in such a view, and could never get jiggy with it.

Just as I couldn't get jiggy with the idea of "smite-happy Jesus", I also couldn't accept the idea of a Jesus I should get gushy over cause He did the ultimate loving deed for me. Seems to me He'd be a total jerk if he had the chance to "save" mankind and didn't.

Heck, if the story were true, did Jesus have a choice?

Did Dad YHVH realize he made a defective product(mankind) and send a "ringer"(sorry, Ouroboros!) to make it better and keep from seeming a jerk Himself?

Yes, a sacrifice that comes right back to life seems less than "ultimate", especially in the face of the woman's loss of her child.

Perhaps it's worth understanding the "Jesus story" as a myth containing archetypal elements.

Anonymous said...

(Isa 45:9 KJV) Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?

Someone's Mom said...

I have lost 2 children.
They have been gone for a long while now, but I have the knowledge that they will return to better times. They were children,so not really sinful themselves .I took a lot of
comfort in the thought of Mary losing her child and of God knowing what it is like to see a child suffer and die .be discarded , unloved, hated unjustly even though he was so very good. It is hard to see a child suffer that way too. Parents of living children know the pain of seeing a child suffer unjustly at the hands of others.
I think it is significant that Jesus did not have to go through what he did for any reason other than love. He was with God and was not under a penalty of death for sin. He offered up his life, he offered to go through it all for the sake of loving his creation. He was despised, rejected, hated, beaten to a pulp and killed in a vile horrific manner in public.
He knows what it is like to suffer and die now, something he did not really know before and we know that death is not permanent because he lives again and that is our hope.
Although the father knew that he could restore him to life, it would not have been so if Jesus had sinned. If he was human, and to be like us and understand us he had to be, he would be tempted with sin in all ways we are. If he had succombed to sin he would have not been resurrected. He took a chance. Yes it was less of a chance maybe than for us since he knew heaven, knew the father better, knew for an absolute certainty all the truth, but he still took a chance for us no matter who small we may count it, if indeed we do.
I am grateful that because he did die, and because more importantly he lives again, that I will see my children again and all those who went before me.

Anonymous said...

'question was born out of a woman who was not comforted by her church telling her that God understood her pain because he lost his only child as well and her finding it unhelpful due to Jesus getting to come back'


The loss of a family member is devestating. No matter how close we may be to God it hurts - there is always a 'hole'.

But with Jeus at the right hand of the Father, and with the intimate relationship we can have with a loving (spirit) Father there is comfort and support until we pass on.

Part of the reason for 'church' is the reflection of that love through the brethren in practical support

Anonymous said...

Gavin. The 'strings' get longer and longer, and more difficult, thus. to access. Would it help for you to draw a line after a while, perhaps opening a new 'continuation'?

Anonymous said...

"The reason Jesus stayed dead and in the earth for 72 hours was to be considered really dead by Jewish law it had to be 72 hours legally."

Of course one could argue that a Friday late afternoon to Sunday AM was not even 72 hours, so Jesus wasn't even legally dead. This would be the traditional days as opposed to the Thursday-Sunday apologetic.

DennisDiehl said...

I'm really appreciating all these views.

Stingerski said...

Well Dennis, this pre-supposes that this whole crucifixion-resurrection episode is even true. It also pre-supposes that the person Jesus even existed. That might not be of much comfort to the woman you mentioned. But if one starts from a false premise then no amount of reasoning is going to help. You will only dig the hole you are in deeper.

A more likely scenario, if we can believe at all in this tale, is that Jesus was expecting some sort of insurrection to start when he entered Jerusalem. And when it did not the authorities decided to nip his fanaticism in the bud.

Later on, his brother James took over the movement, which was subsequently scattered to the winds after 70 A.D. The rest is history.

Except that it is not. The Roman Church decided to capitalize upon all this, and had the power of Constantine behind it to do so. And, despite having the label "Great Harlot" stamped on it by the Armstrongologists of the world, this great harlot is the very organization who brought them this Bible they all so adamantly approve of, and put their total trust and confidence in!

And that in itself is enough to "deep six" most of what they might have to say on this topic. You cannot reason with people who have lost their ability to reason. These True Believers will only continue to mock you for even trying.

The only real answer I can think of to your conumdrum, or for any that truly want an answer, is this one. In the movie Lonesome Dove Gus (Robert Duvall) said it best:

Life is short. And it's shorter for some than others.

Stingerski said...

Anon. saith :

Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker!

Well, THAT was certainly helpful here! I suppose by that bit of Bible thumping you are saying that ANY discussion about this topic is somehow going to bring down the wrath of your god on us?

Oh, what the hell. Your god was very good at throwing his wrath around, according to the book you like to thump. Every time the Jews turned around his wrath was burning against them for any old reason. One time it got so bad that, after your god had ordered his good King David to do a census, he turned around and slaughtered 70,000 Jews with plague. The reason being -- he was pissed at David for taking a census! Geezus freaking Crisco, with a god like that, Hitler was a comparatively nice guy to the Jews.

Anyway, I'm sure that Dennis will appreciate your very "intelligent" comment there. :-)

Stingerski said...

Neotherm said:

Some of us will have loved ones who die and will be consigned to Hell . . .

Well Neo, if that's true then it certainly pays to be a Jew these days! Paul the Apostle said somewhere that "All Israel shall be saved."

Hmmmm. You know, I could kinda get back into that U.S.B.I.P thingy. Yeah, I think I could. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I feel like everyone is overthinking this, and ascribing such lofty meaning to the story of Jesus that they don't even consider the most basic question:

What logic is there in Jesus dying for the sins of others???

In other words, where is the logic in him saying (or God the Father deciding), "Ok, I will heap all the sins of the world on the head of Jesus, and he will pay for them".

To me, there is no logic in that. God (or Jesus) might just as well have said "ok, I will eat an ice cream cone and by doing so declare that all sins are paid for".

This is a question I have had since a child, and no minister could ever give me an answer that made any sense.

Thoughts?

Stingerski said...

Anon. said :

What logic is there in Jesus dying for the sins of others???

There isn't any.

And even if this Jesus actually ever lived, and even if this Jesus actually ever lived a perfect life (which is another ridiculous concept) there would still be no logic to this concept. It's about as silly as the old Jewish custom of sacrificing an "unblemished" lamb, as tho such an action could in any way atone for any "sin" unblemished or not.

Of course, religionists are pretty short on logic. Faith and logic do not co-exist very well. So, for people of "faith" this concept makes good sense. And the more faith one has, the more sense it makes. When one has no good sense then anything can make sense.

Anonymous said...

The whole Jesus story never made any sense to me as a 5 year-old, nor does nit now, as a 50 year-old.

We accepted, obeyed, and believed because the mysthology has been pounded into our heads as truth all our lives.

Nor was I ever impressed with Jesus fasting 40 days w/o food & water, and surviving the ordeal. Or that the alleged temptation was a temptation at all. (My minister never could answer that one, either). Or that he resurrected on the third day, but there wasn't a single witness to the event. And that if you look at the three-year ministry, one would have expected a little more if he was truly God.

There's a reason why people really don't talk about Jesus very much. There's not a whole lot to say.

Tired Skeptic said...

One of the many many difficulties with this topic is the bias established by Herbert Armstrong. At no time have I ever experienced any of the various churches of gods actually rendering any sort of understanding or even a belief of a personal God as the Father or as Jesus as a brother.

Here is what it has been like for me: The teachings and preachments of all the church of gods is one of a Big Powerful Creator God who is distant and unavailable -- sort of a deadbeat dad that nobody ever gets around to talking about. He's often arbitrary and vindictive, but we're supposed to respect Him, not unlike an alcoholic father in a totally dysfunctional family.

Jesus is a true son of his Father in this scenario of Armstrongism: A candidate of Alanon, having flashes of humanity, and certainly being brilliant enough to gainsay to hypocrites of his own time, but having flashes of vengeance manifesting themselves as one who grew up in the shadow of his Father while being emotionally abandoned. Nevertheless, he's the shining example to his brothers and sisters, and Dad, as is typical of the emotionally unavailable and often absent Dad, proclaims how proud He is of His son while not doing all that much for him, as He's off doing Himself knows what. Jesus comes off as someone with a splintered personality, loving at times and being harsh and critical at other times -- just as one would expect from such a dysfunctional family arrangement.

If all this sounds familiar, it should: This was the same arrangement that Herbert Armstrong had with his son, Garner Ted Armstrong and the other family members. The magic of Herbert Armstrong seems to be that he managed to expand the dysfunction beyond the borders of his own family and managed to screw up the rest of us. This is my belief anyway.

With such a biased skewed, totally distorted perception of who and what God and Jesus are / were, it is unlikely that any of us could actually divine the true nature of God The Father and Jesus Christ, even if they do exist -- which, given the dysfunction of the entire Armstrongist movement has certainly utterly destroyed and undermined the faith of all of us to one degree or another. There hasn't been one minister I could ever look to, to be sane and reasonable to set the kind of example which would lend any sort of understanding of God as a loving Father whose mercy never fails, is ever present and looking out for our welfare and entirely available emotionally, mentally and spiritually 24 by 7. The God worthy of the praise of Psalms simply never existed for those in the church of gods. It's more like dear old Dad is going to give us a beating when and if He ever gets around to coming home -- which He seldom does. Inquiries go unheeded: The common thread is, "Where is He?".

The environment of the churches of gods is one which is entirely sterile.

So when it comes down to it, the churches of gods are totally useless and the ministry is worthless if we really do want to seek God while He may still be found and want His Will in our lives. We're on our own. The only thing we were ever useful for was to be a cash machine and narcissistic sources for a series of petty dysfunctional despots [many of whom were alcoholics in their own right] seeking to be gods in their own right -- after the pattern that learned at Ambassador College as being members of a paramilitary organization with no basis in reality whatsoever, except as the one of a drunken sot manic spendthrift arbitrary shortsighted "leader".

Of course, there is a huge problem sorting all this out and it takes awhile. For those who truly seek the truth and want to know God as The Father [if that is the truth] are going to have to realize that we have been the victims of fiction fantasy and abandon the sick dysfunctional environment. Learning how "normal" loving families actually work is going to be a struggle after being subjected to an onslaught of craziness for decades.

It's much more than a healing process. It's taking hold of your own life and stop having others run [the "I" turns run into ruin] or affairs for us, telling us to pay and pray and stay faithful to your particular Gulag of insanity. It's accepting the fact that the ministers can't help you know God as the Loving Father whose mercy never fails because they don't know God and never did. It's a matter of developing personal experience one on one with God with anecdotal experiences in your life filled with miracles and interventions on your behalf -- not that we necessarily ever deserve them, but because it is the loving and kind thing for God to do, to deliver us from impossible situations while building the character in us to do as much as we can on our own.

Tired Skeptic said...

Confidential to the ministry with very low graphoria:

It's the teaching of the immortality of the soul, not the immorality of the soul you moron.

If you really want people to take your take of the Calendar seriously, you're going to have to be more careful in your verbal and written communications. Just being an "authority" isn't going to cut it: Given your painfully stupid guffaws, it's unlikely the alert will pay any attention to you at all, so stop with the critical preachments of "Synchretism" and fix your own problems.

Oh, never mind: You'll disappear from the scene in just a few scant more years anyway, so just forget it!

Bert said...

How does the death of Jesus Christ pay for the sins of mankind? This is what the bible teaches, but it is difficult for the human mind to comprehend how the death of one human being would serve as payment for the sins of many.

I will not go through the many theories presented to resolve this question, but want to focus on an issue that is not often considered. The bible reveals that death is the result of one man’s disobedience and while all people die it is because of Adam’s disobedience and not the due to personal sinfulness. This doesn’t mean there are people who have not sinned, but it means the human race is destined to die whether they have sinned or not. This has led to the belief in the depravity of human nature. While this is true in one sense it falls short of solving the problem. The reason is that believing we sin because of our sinful nature removes the personal responsibility for sins. It also clouds the issue of the death of one man who was perfect in obedient paying for the sins of the whole human race.

The bible teaches there is a resurrection of the dead, but what it teaches about this resurrection may not be connected to sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. Remember that Adam’s rebellion resulted in the whole human race being expelled from the Garden of Eden and the tree of life. The biblical story reveals the need for a mediator who can restore the relationship that had been broken by Adam’s disobedience. The NT story reveals that God prepare a second Adam to serve this purpose. The fact that Jesus Christ was resurrected reinforces the biblical promise of a future resurrection, but how does the resurrection contribute to Jesus being the payment (or ransom) for the sins of many?
Remember NT story is that Jesus Christ came into human existence with a preordained purpose. He was the product of a special birth and was obedient to God in every way and without sin. The bible refers to Jesus as the lamb created to fulfill the sacrificial role he was born to fulfill. We do not need to resolve all the questions regarding the origin of Jesus Christ and the subject of preexistence to understand the simplicity of the second Adam’s role in freeing the human race from the bondage of sin and restoring a connection with God and the tree of life.
What we need to recognize is that a resurrection is necessary if there is any hope of life after this life has ended in death. The resurrection of Jesus Christ was not the resuscitation of the old body, but a resurrection to a new type of body even though it bore some of the old scars for identity. It was referred to as a spiritual body, which indicates that it was energized by something different than the blood that energizes those who experience this present existence. The bible applies resurrection to those resurrected to a human life that will experience death, but it also reveals there are those who will experience a resurrection to a body that will not die. I will not go into all the details, but want to point out that Jesus will never again have a body subject to death like the one he took to the grave. It was his willingness to suffer death even though he was sinless that made him a sacrifice acceptable to God in restoring the relationship broken by Adam’s disobedience.
I believe we can see that the bible addresses these questions in a way that gives hope for the whole human race, but if we choose not to believe what it presents we are left facing death and an uncertainty about any future existence.
Bert

Corky said...

Yes, If Jesus merely "sacrificed" a human existence - where is the sacrifice?

A horrible death, no doubt, but no worse than some others and not near as horrible as being skinned alive (as some Christians did to extract confessions from innocent people) or burned at the stake after weeks of torture.

So he died violently because of his religion, a lot of people do (like 6 million Jews), but they aren't considered to be sacrifices covering the sins of others.

In fact, fathers and sons can't die for each other's sins, only for their own sins.

Deu 24:16 The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.

So, whose sins did Jesus die for? His father Adam's? Or, his follower's (sons)? Either way, it was against the Law.

And, if Jesus was "god" (which he wasn't) and died for his followers (which is impossible since god is immortal and cannot die) then where is the justice? Because it was Adam who was sentenced to die, not God.

There is no way to make any of it make sense.

Then there is the idea that Jesus was the antitypical Passover lamb. Okay, did the Passover lamb come back to life? Heck no, they ate it and turned it to poop.

The whole "sacrifice" thing is just a bunch of leftover barbaric and savage blood letting Jewish rituals that had to be answered in some pious way. The truth is, all nations on earth made sacrifices to their gods (some still do) and is just a barbaric leftover from ancient and savage man.

Neotherm said...

I believe there were many people in the old WCG who saw HWA as a representation of the Father and GTA as a representation of Christ. I believe that this was a clever and image-based way to deepen deception about the real Father and Christ. Armstrongism was carefully designed and engineered.

There is no logic about why Christ died for our sins. It was an act of love and love often does not make sense. (If I were a Darwinist, I would argue fervently for the eradication of love because if really messes with natural selection.)

Christ's sacrifice was substitutionary. Armstrongites are fond of saying that Christ's sacrifice could cover all of us because Christ was worth more than all of us. But that is anal retentive, quantitative measurement Armstrongism. It clouds and perhaps even erases the direct personal connection that we are intended to understand between ourselves and Christ.

Christ's sacrifice covers our sins because God said it did.

Be glad.

-- Neo

Lussenheide said...

Dennis and all:

Me thinketh that you make a leap in assumption in saying that it was a "long weekend" for God.

Time is relative said Einstein. God is said to be light. At the speed of light, time as we know it , no longer functions.

For us humans, stuck here on Earth, it was just 72 hours, or as you stated , a long weekend. For God, the entire event could have been "stretched" so that each agonizing "frame" could have been an eternity relative to him. Or God could have pressed the "fast forward button" and have it all end in a Nano-Second. Perhaps it was both. Perhaps he constantly must experience it forever in a sense, always in that moment in time.

Yes, a long weekend for us, but how long for God? A tough question for us to answer stuck where we are in the space/time continium.

Bill Lussenheide, Menifee, CA USA

Reality said...

"Christ's sacrifice covers our sins because God said it did."

That's the story anyway.

In earlier history regarding God and humanity, God was totally against those who sacrified their children. It makes no sense for Him to do such a thing as sacrifice his child.

So there you have just another contradiction in the big book.

This story came together in pieces hundreds of years before we were born. Knowing that God is good and fair, He would never hold us accountable for stories made up and changed throughout the ages.

I expect we will not learn the truth or the details in our lifetime, but even without being able to go back and decipher the beginning of languages and history of writing, we still know right from wrong. There is only a problem if we think there is some perfection in the story as handed down.

If we can believe any of the book and story, God forgave sin long before the book was compiled, so He can forgive/save humanity at His own will without any formula.

The trickery of symbolism and numerology had a huge part in how the story shakes out, along with power of some men over others.

Tired Skeptic said...

I believe there were many people in the old WCG who saw HWA as a representation of the Father and GTA as a representation of Christ. I believe that this was a clever and image-based way to deepen deception about the real Father and Christ.

Yes, Neotherm, complicated by the fact that Herbert Armstrong held his son, Richard David, in much higher regard. This did nothing to help GTA with his insecurity. If RDA had survived, would the landscape have been much different?

As for Armstrongism being planned, well, while I have a very high regard for you and your comments, I couldn't disagree more. Herbert Armstrong may have been a master manipulator, but he was very short sighted. He sort of blundered around, trying this and that, what with his directionless spending of money arbitrarily. He had a vision but he never really had much of a plan, waiting as it were for opportunities to manipulate to his own advantage.

This is fairly well documented in the Ambassador Report, particularly with the description of the flow of tithes and offerings. Herbert Armstrong was terrible at managing money and had to have Stanley Raider take his cardboard box of stuff and put it into filing cabinets. He had to call on brethren through coworker letters when he overspent and things looked like disaster looming.

Visionaries really should watch where they step. Looking too far ahead to the future is an excellent excuse for not living in the present. Armstrongists should have learned from this: By being so future oriented, they have not done the things to make their lives sustainable in the here and now.

Just Askin' said...

Dennis:

You want other than snarky responses - given your cosmological view of deities, can you guarantee a non-snarky article when you finally publish it?

That is, if I give you my views, do they get treated with respect?

Just Askin'

Anonymous said...

All of this back-and-forthing gets away from the original topic, which is:

What is Dennis' client supposed to say to her allegedly christian brethren, who are telling her to just suck up the fact that she's lost her only child, because god did too, and his pain was worse than hers?

They are, in a very real sense, telling her to deny her own pain. That isn't healthy, and certainly would not be required of her, by a truly loving god. It is not the god who is demanding this, as always, it is the people who say they have the inside track on the god, or this god in particular.

The answer depends on whether or not the mother, intrinsically, believes what her brethren are telling her, and wishes to accept it, or if she is kicking and screaming at the sheer injustice of her supposed friends even suggesting such a horrendous thing.

If she is turning to Dennis to resolve the conflict she feels over not being able to accept what her fellow church-goers are telling her, then the bottom line is that she wants to be lied to. She wants to put the pain away for a little bit. That's understandable. It's human.

If she really is starting to question her beliefs, and those of her church, with an open mind then the answers here, ranging the spectrum, should be helpful to her in making the effort to think for herself.

What to tell her brethren? Until they have experienced her experience, of the death of her child, through her eyes, they have no right to make such pronouncements as to how she is or is not supposed to handle it.

There's a scripture about splinters, beams and motes, that I won't get into here, but it might be a useful quote for your client to use on her so-called brethren, Dennis. :-)

Tired Skeptic said...

PurpleHymnal,

I concur with what you say with one caveat: After dealing with the current pain of loss, it may well be time to take a hard look at the "friends" who are all miserable comforters. Is that the real issue?

If it is the real issue, then it is high time to take one of two approaches:

1) Teach the "friends" at church how to offer their support and condolences in a meaningful or appropriate manner or;

2) Find friends that do.

To tell someone who has suffered loss that "someone had it worse" is a terribly cruel approach and is not just unproductive but damaging. A vulnerable person isn't going to tell others to "go stuff it", but as near as I can tell, it's the most intelligent, reasonable and logical response to give, notwithstanding the counter response of "What's with her?!". And if you have to explain it, the "friends" are too dense to be of any worth anyway, unless they are willing to learn how to do it right.

Anonymous said...

Dennis, This is off your topic a bit but it still may have some relevance to your overall theme.

I should preface this for any that aren't familiar with me that I am a believer...

With that said I, even as a kid wondered why the 'Temptation' of Christ by Satan was really any kind of temptation at all. Satan's best offer was only the kindgoms of the earth!!! Big f'ing deal if you are the son of God, you have the entire universe as well as whatever lies beyond that. How could the kingdoms of the earth offer any *real* temptation???? I find that to be a hard question.

To be quite honest. I never really gave the sacrifice much thought as a 'hard' question. It wasn't so much that Jesus would have only been dead for three days and then raised up, to me the sacrifice on the part of God is that he would allow himself to suffer at the hands of men, for our benefit. To me that was and is the price that was paid. Death and ressurection, not to minimize it, were nothing in comparison.

Anyhoow it was the "temptation" that stuck with from a kid to this very day.

Anonymous said...

I find that some want a dead Jesus to show that the sacrifice was real, but then they would not believe that it took place. Some don't respond well to things like how is it that the sun and moon are the same apparent size. Just one of many reasons why I'm a believer.

It's God's house. She/He/It made the rules. Is there is a forensic, scientific answer for Dennis?

Does there need to be?

Jim Butler said...

Great question Dennis. I have never agreed with what Christianity, including the Church of God, teaches, or sort of implies with their explanation of most aspects of this sacrifice.

While most of the responses have been very good and thoughtful I think Byker Bob, Mel, and Corky posted with the most thoughtful and useful comments, from my perspective.

Without going to long on this, here are my thoughts.

I think it was Mel that made the comment about God producing a defective product....I believe that is exactly right. God's plan is much more thoughtful and long range than any of us can really comprehend; and much more complex. God always lives in reality. He does not play games and he is not into "pretend." (although when he does play games I think he has more fun than we do--smile)

I believe his plan was always to create beings that are very defective. He was not surprised at all with the first man and woman. Their sin was a given for God.

This creating defective beings is a major component of free will and developing character. If one has never thought deeply about how character is developed one might have difficulty with accepting the idea that God would create defective beings. The scripture about "and it was very good" is used to prove God did not create humans defective, evil, etc. This, from my perspective, is shallow thinking. That is exactly how God created us, and he did it, apparently, knowing that was, essentially, (you'll understand my using essentially when reading my conclusion) the only way to create beings with our potential, with true free will and the potential for righteous character. These attributes are all extremely complex to create.

I will skip ahead to try and condense.

His plan included a savior. God must always be righteous. In some way, for some reason (and perhaps this is your real question, Dennis)God has determined that when there is sin there must be a sacrifice for that sin. I don't claim to fully understand this concept. It is beyond me in many ways. But, although God is love, merciful, wise, etc. he is also righteous. Being righteous he cannot allow sin to simply go without some sort of penalty. If we think about this it makes perfect sense. Being righteous requires right judgement, and fairness.

The Book, and common sense, tells us life is in the blood, at least for physical beings. So this "blood thing" is directly related to what God considers needed to make things right, to make things righteous.

As several indicated, and I thought the ice cream cone analogy was the best, we really can't understand this at a very deep level.

One or two alluded to the pre-existence of Christ. A bit of a side issue but I don't believe Christ pre-existed. Stay with me.

Christ is the second Adam. He came into existence when he was conceived in Mary's womb. Although a unique man, he was a man. He was the promised messiah. He was tempted in all things like we are but without sin.

How was he able to live without sin? And I think, as a few mentioned, this was perhaps a bigger part of the sacrifice than the actual crucifixion. The blood sacrifice was needed, I believe,for the reasons mentioned above. The Messiah also had to live a sinless life. Again, apparently this goes back to what God has determined in order to be righteous. God must always be righteous.

I think Christ's most poignant moments were in the garden the night before he was crucified. I don't think he was asking the Father-- if there is some other way to do this....

Christ knew most, if not all, the details about his crucifixion. He knew it would be extremely difficult to go through all this....without sinning. Christ knew the destiny of eternity was on his shoulders. Christ knew he could not allow God to be a liar.

And, he was fully human. If he was not fully human, God was just playing a game.

In the garden Christ was asking for some help. I think the Father had planned,and Christ probably knew, for Christ to go through this without any supernatural help. We know Christ always had supernatural help, in one sense, having God's spirit in a way no man had ever had. I think, after Chirst's third request for this supernatural help, the Father decided to give it to him, with the angels coming to minister to him.

I don't think this decision of the Father to give him this supernatural help was an easy one for him. I say this because it goes back to the concept of free will and developing character.

This leads to the question, since Christ was a man, the unique agent of God to be the Messiah, and yet not created defective, how was he able to develop character, how did he have free will?

In other words, why didn't God create all of us like he created Christ? (I know most in the churches of God believe my doctrinal stance is heretical)

For me, this is a much tougher question. My inclination is to say....I really don't know.

In creating Christ as the "second Adam" God created him as another type of being. That is, a man but a man with a different nature than other humans. And that is the new creature Christians should be working towards. It can only be done through God's spirit. It can only start with the Father calling and opening a persons mind. It cannot begin without that.

So in one sense, in attempting an answer to my question above, I think we are developing character, having true free will, by the same process Christ went through. I don't think we can really understand the sacrifice Christ made in living a sinless life. This sinless life was not a "cake-walk." We really don't, we really can't understand living a sinless life. Most Christians have a very shallow concept of what sin is.

So I believe the sinless life was the bigger part of the sacrifice. The blood sacrifice was what God deemed necessary for the reasons mentioned above.

To conclude with what I consider a very glorious thought. (again considered heresy) As I have mentioned on this blog before, I tend, tend, to believe in universal salvation. I believe God is way smarter than us.

Jim

Reality said...

Just have to disagree with this idea that God created humanity as defective beings.

He created us perfectly according to plan, with the option of choice and the ability to learn from the good or the bad choices made.

Evenutally this leads to our having the mind of God and ultimately perfection.

Neotherm said...

I am not sure what is being said here about the pre-existence of Christ. He did pre-exist in spirit as the Logos. The person of the Son was a new type of being, fully God and fully man. But since God is not constrained by time, I am not sure how all this happened.

When I stated earlier that Armstrongism was carefully designed and engineered, I did not mean to imply that the designing and engineering was done by HWA. HWA was just a convenient tool.

God condemned child sacrifice because if was wrong in many dimensions. But one aspect that stands out is that it made a mockery of what he intended to accomplish through Jesus. God has the right to make these decisions, human logic notwithstanding.

-- Neo

Reality said...

Fully God and Fully man does not compute.

Fully God = 100%
Fully man = 100%
______________________
total 200% makes 2

Its another story repeated so many time people believe it.

The idea that forgiveness was not available is along the same lines that the Holy Spirit was not available to anyone until the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

That makes another contridiction in the big book where we can read that David prayed to God, "Please don't take thy spirit from me".

The reason I believe that Christ existed in another form earlier comes from the book of Job where it tells of the sons of God like Michael, Gabriel, The Great Angel, etc. Personally, I believe that Messiah had been The Great Angel - the one who spoke for God at Sinai and may have wrestled with Jacob.

Tired Skeptic said...

When I stated earlier that Armstrongism was carefully designed and engineered, I did not mean to imply that the designing and engineering was done by HWA. HWA was just a convenient tool.

Ah, got it. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

"A very hard question indeed."

Nope, for Jesus, if he even existed, did not rise from the dead over the weekend. It's a religious myth.


Paul

DennisDiehl said...

Just Askin' said...
Dennis:

You want other than snarky responses - given your cosmological view of deities, can you guarantee a non-snarky article when you finally publish it?

That is, if I give you my views, do they get treated with respect?

Just Askin'

I'm actually interested in the perspectives of this group more than even writing an article. It's a sincere question based on the practical fact that much Church encouragement is NOT very encouraging to those in real pain. She also said "If one more person tells me God won't give me more than I can bear, I will quit."

Most Christians are not good at encouragment in real life crisis. We all tend to reach for an idea that the person will grasp and feel better. But they don't feel better. Life is never the same.

EVERY couple who lost a child in my congregations who lost a child eventually left the church quoting failed promises in the Bible of protection,blessing etc....It's just how it works , to me, in many churches if not all.

I never ask an insincere question even if I don't agree with the responses. My personal view doesn't even reguire I figure out an answer to this as I have bigger questions about the entire topic of Biblical origins and just who or what Jesus really was if he was.

Anonymous said...

"The bible reveals that death is the result of one man’s disobedience and while all people die it is because of Adam’s disobedience and not the due to personal sinfulness. This doesn’t mean there are people who have not sinned, but it means the human race is destined to die whether they have sinned or not."

What if the story of Adam and Eve is really just mythology and never happened? Original sin certainly goes out the window. I personally find the fact that it's mythology to be true. Humans have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years as science informs those who wish to see it.

Lyle said...

You should try coming up with a harder question than this. The penalty of sin is death. We die because of our sins. But because of what Christ did we will all be resurrected (some to life, some back to death). The reason it was such a big deal for Jesus was not the fact that He would die, but that in order for him to die He would have to take on all of mankind's despicable sins. This is no small task for someone who has known no sin. Think of the worst sin any human has performed, then know that Jesus felt that one.

AnnMarie95 said...

"Most Christians are not good at encouragment in real life crisis. We all tend to reach for an idea that the person will grasp and feel better. But they don't feel better. Life is never the same."

Twelve years ago, our oldest son committed suicide.

The wcg minister and his wife who came to 'comfort' us, got into an argument in front of my husband and me, regarding whether or not suicide was a selfish act.

Our Southern Baptist neighbor, who himself had a lost a son in a car accident, told us our son's death might be a good thing because he might have contracted a terminal illness later in life, resulting in great pain for us.

Regarding your client, Dennis, I think she is right on - it was no sacrifice at all, for either the father or the son...of course, I also believe the father and the son are imaginary...just like all the other gods that humans have invented.

Questeruk said...

Isn’t the basic ‘mystery’ of Christ’s sacrifice that God rates the violation of His own law as such a serious issue that a serious penalty had to be inflicted.

However if the penalty of death was justly inflicted on those that violated His law, there would be no way they could be reconciled and made at one with their Creator.

God reconciled justice and mercy by inflicting the penalty for the sins of His creation upon Himself, through Jesus Christ. God needed to allow evil to exist, as He gave us free will, but He then allowed an incredible amount of pain from this evil to directly hit Himself following his creations’ choices.

This surely shows God’s love to mankind.

Can you imagine the impact this act must have had on the angels, and other beings on a spiritual plain? They KNEW who Christ was, and there he was, voluntary allowing himself to suffer and die at the hands of his creation.

DennisDiehl said...

Why Does Human Sacrifice Make Everything Better?

Christians are often known to speak of the sacrifice of Jesus as essential for our salvation. I grew up with "Jesus DIED for my sins." I was not pointed to his perfect life but to his terrible death, thus the original question.

Actually I have no idea if Jesus lived a perfect life of no sin. I didn't read his thoughts. He did treat Mary badly several times and disrespected his parents as well. Were they sins or not? That Jesus lived a PERFECT life and thus is why he is the only sacrfice is hearsay. I know it's difficult for most to get past, "but the Bible says," however that it says it is so does not make it so in fact.

If Jesus had a fully human part (that's an oxymoron) along with fully god, then the fully human part sinned or he was not fully human. He was fully human in a way other humans aren't and its all doubletalk.

“Without the blood of Christ, there can be no remission of sin.”

What they can’t seem to answer is why not?

When this religion was born, people probably didn’t ask this question. It seemed to be taken for granted by so many religions at the time that the gods enjoy having blood spilled upon their altars.

Jewish traditions, as reflected in the Old Testament, often involved making animal sacrifices to appease the wrath of Yahweh or to gain his favor. Other ancient traditions all across the globe shared this practice of human or animal sacrifices as part of their religious rituals. No one ever seemed to question why such slaughter might be beneficial to the gods or how exactly it pleases them.

Given such a paradigm, that blood sacrifices make everything better, it makes sense that the way to take the traditions of the Old Testament of animal sacrifices to the next level would be a human sacrifice.

Forgiveness is really a decision that needs no ritual to make it so... right?

We are capable of forgiving others without killing our own sons. Why should we think that we are better able to forgive than God?

Does not forgiveness occur when the decision to forgive is made? If God had a plan to forgive mortals, then it was already done. Why is there the need to go through with the bloody ritual? And then when doing it, be one of the only grand sacrfices performed where the sacrifice doesn't stay dead leaving a doubt as to why it is such a grand sacrifice to begin with?

If God the Father had to mourn the loss of his only begotten son who was NOT coming back EVER and really gave it all for others and excluded himself..now that's a sacrifice we can understand. It seems.

It really doesn't take the shedding of blood to forgive sins in our world. It takes, "I forgive you."

Is this too easy a way for a God to behave or too simplistic an example to set for humans that it has to be blood and guts or nothing?

Of course the answer is, "well it didn't happen that way so however it did happen is the way it has to happen." That's still not an answer to me and really I am not looking for "the answer" It just good to stretch the mind a bit on thing theological since these concepts are used daily to control the literal behavior of millions

Stingerski said...

Anon. said :

The whole Jesus story never made any sense to me as a 5 year-old, nor does nit now, as a 50 year-old.

Me neither, esp. with this 40 day fasting myth. Jack LaLane or Body by Jake would be dead inside of 10 days. And since Jesus was "fully human" (according to Neotherm, who continues to dodge my question about his god sending people to Hell) Jesus would be dead too!

Just try walking around any desert without any water for 10 days. Oh yeah. Food, maybe.

But wait, there's more! (as the religious info-mercials might say). Here comes the Devil, tempting Jesus with what? Bread?? How in the hell are you going to swallow bread when your throat is stuck shut due to dehydration. Excuse me, but as Sam Kinneson might have said about those people needing luggage, JESUS NEEDED WATER!


The entire "temptation" episode is fantasy. Jesus never existed, except perhaps in the form of Apollonius, or some earlier pagan myth. Jesus is the invention of the Roman Church, with the idea of a state religion controlling the masses. And it worked very well indeed until the Protestant Reformation came about.

The sad part here is that so many still have not caught on to this mind control, even after they have had the last 500 years of history to verify it. But, as I was saying, faith and logic cannot co-exist.

Corky said...

What if the story of Adam and Eve is really just mythology and never happened? Original sin certainly goes out the window. I personally find the fact that it's mythology to be true. Humans have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years as science informs those who wish to see it.

And, there is the thing about "by man sin entered into the world and death by sin" as if there was no death in the world before Adam sinned. Well, we know that's bunk.

Things have lived and died on this planet for billions of years before Adam of 6,000 years ago ever sinned.

That should settle the whole thing right there. But, instead, it gets more complicated by people claiming that there was a devil who sinned before Adam. In the which "by man sin entered . . ." makes no sense whatsoever.

It should have said, "billions of years ago, by Satan, sin entered into the world and immortal fallen angels happened".

Of course these fallen angels are kept in chains in tartaroo under darkness until the judgment. Which again, kind of makes it hard to understand how they went around possessing people in the first century. All that bunk probably comes from someone not getting their stories straight.

Even today, people are claiming that other people are demon possessed and forget all about that verse in Jude.

Jud 1:6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

So, how are they out here running around possessing people?

It's all a bunch of nonsense and just so many fables combined into one big book of fantasyland tripe.

DennisDiehl said...

My Personal Vision:

One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was
walking along the beach with the Lord.

Across the
sky flashed scenes from his life.

For each scene, he
noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one
belonging to him, and the other to the Lord.

When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he
looked back at the footprints in the sand. He
noticed that many times along the path of his life
there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed
that it happened at the very lowest and saddest
times in his life.

This really bothered him and he
questioned the Lord about it.

"Lord, You said that
once I decided to follow you, You'd walk with me all
the way. But I have noticed that during the most
troublesome times in my life, there is only one set
of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed
you most you would leave me."

The Lord replied,

"My son, My precious child, I love you but I did leave you and you were on your own. I hate walking in sand and had I carried you along like the big baby you are, we would have bogged down in the sand and gotten no where and you would have learned nothing.

During your times of trial and
suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, they were yours and it was then that I left you alone to think things over and ask yourself what you had learned in this whole experience with religion."

:)

Bert said...

Cory said “Yes, If Jesus merely "sacrificed" a human existence - where is the sacrifice?”
There are misunderstandings regarding the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that need to be addressed. The sacrifice was included in the total obedience that God required of His beloved son. I believe the difficulties experienced in this issue is due to a lack of understanding or belief in what the bible message really is.
The biblical message is about a Creator God who has a planned purpose for His creation. This planned purpose includes an eternal purpose for human life. The biblical message is not about a kingdom of Gods, but about a kingdom composed of subjects who are loyal to the God who created them. I will not attempt to define all of the subjects and the roles they may ultimately have, but will simply point out that loyalty and a harmonious unity are the key issues involved in the biblical narrations.
Had Adam been loyal to God instead of yielding to following Eve in the satanic deception there would not have been a need for the second Adam because their relationship with God and their access to the tree of life would have continued. After their disobedience they were cut off from God and the tree of life. It should be noted that they did not die immediately, but lived over 900 years. Why? Perhaps it was due to the fact that they were perfect when they were created and they could survive that long without access to the tree of life, but this is not the important issue. What is important is that their being cut off from God caused all of those who were born of the seed of Adam to never be given access to God and the tree of life until the birth of the second Adam.
The thing that most people overlook is that our physical death pays the penalty ascribed to the individual human being. The idea that people are tormented in an ever burning hell has confused the issue; by indicating that everyone has eternal life and it is just a matter of where we spend it. For all practical purposes when a person dies the penalty is paid and the case is closed except for the fact that God’s planned purpose includes a resurrection and a buy back plan.
We need to remember that Adam had chosen to follow Satan and those who are born of the seed of Adam came under the Satan’s government. To make a long story short Jesus Christ who was the second Adam rejected Satan offer to rule the world under his governance and declared his allegiance to the Creator God even if it required his death (compare the story of Abraham and Isaac).
I believe we miss the point when we stress the sacrificial death as paying for the sins all mankind. What are necessary for any kingdom to survive are loyal subjects who work together in a harmonious unity to fulfill the purpose for its existence. When Jesus Christ stated that He and the Father are one He was declaring total loyalty in a harmonious union that was revealed by a special birth, an ignominious death, and a resurrection placing Him at the right had of the Father. It is His obedience that allows God to impute the righteousness of Jesus Christ to those who are willing commit to living in harmony with the will of God and follow the leading of the Spirit of God even unto death and it is the hope of a resurrection that makes the struggles of this life more bearable.
To me that’s the biblical story whether it is believed or not. If it is simply a myth then we have at least lived with hope and are no worse off.
Bert

DennisDiehl said...

Bert said:

"Had Adam been loyal to God instead of yielding to following Eve in the satanic deception there would not have been a need for the second Adam because...


Bert..sincere question. How would your view change on how it all is if you came to see that Adam and Eve never literally existed, they weren't the first humans, there was no sin committed by Eve etc...?

If there was no first literal Adam..would this cause a problem with "The Second Adam" concept?

Bamboo_bends said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

In elementary school, I believed in the literal Bible as the nuns taught it. In college theology, we were taught the Bible was allegorical. Next comes the WCG ministry, and its back to being the literal, true word of God.

It has never provided encouragement, nor has it accurately answered important questions. It is full of contradictions. After one studies and analyzes, you still don't know for certain.

DennisDiehl said...

"What Christians believe about Jesus and his crucifixion "sacrifice" is a explanation concocted by Paul,"

Paul spoke little or nothing about a human Jesus or the circumstances of his death. Paul's Jesus was Cosmic and what he learned from Jesus was in visions in his head.

For Paul Jesus died "according to the scriptures" not according to eyewitness accouts. Actually, Paul being a Pharisee of the Pharisees in Jerusalem should have seen the whole thing himself, but he didnt.

Once can read all of Paul and not come up with any idea that he was speaking of a human being who lived a mere five to ten years earlier.

DennisDiehl said...

Biker Bob...You're sentimental like me and for all my skepticism this will get to me real fast...

This is for you...enjoy, I still do

http://youtube.com/watch?v=yn3TGI5xZIc&feature=related

Anonymous said...

Dennis, in your opinion, did any of the ministers in the WCG ever question, doubt, or simply not believe in a literal Jesus? I guess what I'm trying to say is this: were the ministers sincere in their beliefs about Jesus being the son of God the Father, or did they just go along with the Jesus myth to keep their jobs?

DennisDiehl said...

anon asked:

Anonymous said...
Dennis, in your opinion, did any of the ministers in the WCG ever question, doubt, or simply not believe in a literal Jesus? I guess what I'm trying to say is this: were the ministers sincere in their beliefs about Jesus being the son of God the Father, or did they just go along with the Jesus myth to keep their jobs?"

Thanks for asking this one. I have read a lot of motives read into the lives of ministers over the years that just was not there in my experience. The men I knew and went to school with were very sincere and wanted to do the right thing for people. Many came from other churches if not most before coming to the WCG. The Imperial School types were the goof offs who appointed themselves to offices and got caught being less than sincere. The only minister I ever knew who made up fake third tithe recipients and kept the checks were an Imperial School type and a former Pastor General, or so I hear.

I know of no one, including myself that had any background or study in Jesus not being anything but what the Bible said or anything being less than the Bible seemed to say. My own doubts were accumlated over years of soaking in the Bible but noting discrepencies and questions I had.

Every minister I personally knew
was very sincere about the story no matter how we understood it.

What did intrigue and anger me personally through the years was seeing how some men changed in how they took themselves in their jobs. I moved many times behind those I knew in college but then spent months listening to hurt feelings and too much minding of other people's business the guy did that angered many. But I see that in all ministers in all churches as it is a weakness that can develope in that kind of job and system.

A minister got all rude and smart with me today at the hospital because who he was looking for someone that was not there and he couldn't believe he was the last to know. He got mad when I abided by HIPPA rules in his hunting around for his member, whose name he didn't even know. His little assistant just looked like a deer in headlights..it was hilarious and familiar to me!

I had my own faults and issues in m life as a minister, but I never spent one insincere day as a minister no matter the pressure, hurt or messy transitional stuff.

But in hindsite, I was a goner long before I knew it.

Baashabob said...

I thought Byker Bob and I were the only two Bobs here. Since there is now another Bob who is posting, and has been described as snarky, arrogant, and smug, I want everyone to know that is not me.

From now on I will be posting under the name Baashabob (that's a Bob with only one 'o'). Just wanted to keep the record straight.

Reality said...

I recently read another version of the early Christian years, but cannot say that I accept any of it - yet anyway.

Supposedly Paul had tried to stop the fellowship begun by Jesus and his followers. The accounts of Paul killing Christians is evidently true.

When even having Christ killed does not end the spread of his words and teachings, Paul tries another way, which seems to have had success.

He infiltrated the group and attempted to destroy the faith via the spread of false doctrine, ambiguity etc.

Who could know at this point. It has been verified however, that Paul did not actually write all the books/letters attributed to him. This might explain why he appears so schizophrenic at times.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for answering.

I would imagine other ministers have had to question the same illogical, unreasonable, unexplainable, and contradictory Bible, and speculate whether a literal Jesus ever existed.

We've all studied mythology in school. The nuns would tell us that the gods in mythology which closely parallel the Jesus story, were merely Satan's way of discrediting the future birth of Christ.

Needless to say, even though I now seriously question the authenticity of the Bible and a Jesus, son of God story, it's something that I keep very quiet. It was devastating to have my belief system shattered, not to mention the waste of time and talent that coincided with such beliefs.

Anonymous said...

Re: The comment that God deliberately created "man" as defective: the Gnostic theology turns that on its head too.

(I hasten to add that I am by no means a Gnostic apologist, it is just what I am reading about at this time.)

Gnostic theology states that the god worshipped by all of the religions is not the creative, generative force to which I alluded earlier; This god, the one that "gave up his only son", was the defective one, and that he and his angels actually created the earth and humans as a prison in which the sparks of the divine source are trapped. Part of these trappings involve, you guessed it, the religious practices of the world as we know them.

(The Gnostics, unfortunately, add their own religious practices to offset this "imprisonment" to the mix, thereby nullifying their own arguments, to my mind.)

So, by Gnostic definitions, we actually are made "in god's image", and the reason that we are defective and we suffer is because the god that created the world is defective as well.

Of course, I'm still firmly of the camp that we create god and gods in our own images, aside from the unknowable generative spark of the universe that quantum physics might someday reveal to be true.

Here's my ask-the-next-question query, with regards to the crucifixion that makes the Xtians twitch: If God and Jesus are one and the same person (let's leave aside the personality or non of the holy spirit for the moment), then how can God sacrifice himself to himself, for himself? And the christ figure crying out on the cross; how can god forsake himself?

Theologians twist themselves into pretzels, trying to answer that one, and I haven't found a suitable response yet.

DennisDiehl said...

Reality said:

"Supposedly Paul had tried to stop the fellowship begun by Jesus and his followers."

Nothing says that could not be the case when you understand it as you seem to. All attributed to Paul is not written by Paul I believe and are added to bring him line with established church teachings much later. Is Paul for or against the Law is the schizophrenia you are seeing.

Paul, if he himself is not a construct, may have been pro law but as the church developed he was made to seem anti-law.

No matter. Paul and not Jesus is the founding father of NT Gentile and present day Christianity. Only God knows where the original 12 and their writings went.

My first "hard question" to myself as you know by now was ,"If Jesus had 12 disciples who knew him well, why did they not write anything (the gospels were not written by the names affixed from my view and two of them weren't disciples of Jesus originally anyway), while Paul, who never spent a day with Jesus and never quotes him or tells anything in the Gospels about him (They weren't written until after Paul died) gets to tell us all who Jesus was.

My doubts began personally when I understood Paul's Jesus to be hallucinatory and Cosmic. Everything Paul got from Jesus he got in vision. "Have I not seen the Lord" means "experienced", not met.

Paul may also be a construct in part, at least by Luke who tells Paul's story much differently than Paul himself does in major places. Paul's shipwreck story in Acts by Luke is remarkably similar to on Josephus tells about himself.

DennisDiehl said...

"Theologians twist themselves into pretzels, trying to answer that one, and I haven't found a suitable response yet."

For more fun than you can stand on twisting theology for pfun and personal amusement, as if they can know, take a read through the WCG ministers only The Surprising God Blog.

http://thesurprisinggodblog.wcg.org/

Neotherm said...

stingerski said: "And since Jesus was "fully human" (according to Neotherm, who continues to dodge my question about his god sending people to Hell) Jesus would be dead too!"

I did not realize I was dodging and I am not sure what the question is.

-- Neo

Anonymous said...

Dennis said “Bert..sincere question. How would your view change on how it all is if you came to see that Adam and Eve never literally existed, they weren't the first humans, there was no sin committed by Eve etc...?”

Dennis I have already considered that possibility and will say that what I present is what I believe the bible teaches. I have accepted the fact that the bible is a story created by people who have lived in previous eras, but it is a positive story that teaches a productive and enjoyable way of life that has morality and presents a solution to the flaws that have prevailed throughout history. When properly understood the story tells how good eventually prevails over evil and that evil will be eliminated.
I have lived well over three quarters of a century and live by the principals I find in the scriptures. The problem is not the story, the problem is the people who misuse and misapply the story. The problem is not a belief in a creator God the problem is the attempt to explain an intelligent life form through human reasoning and expecting greedy selfish human beings to become the perfection that is envisioned by prophets and dreamers.
Believe me living as if there is a supreme intelligence with the power to act on that intelligence produces better results than attempting to disprove and discredit those who believe such a being exists.
Everyone is free to believe what they want, but I have not found anything positive about believing we are the product of a non intelligent cosmic activity in the universe.
Bert

Reality said...

By Dennis:
"No matter. Paul and not Jesus is the founding father of NT Gentile and present day Christianity. Only God knows where the original 12 and their writings went. "

I agree totally.

Even that number 12 sounds a bit like numerology to me. At any rate, they were not at the cross when their leader died, and they didn't show up to help bury him. As you say, "Only God knows where the original 12 and their writings went."

Byker Bob said...

Dennis,

I can't imagine what you've been through. Your people really asked you the hard questions, and I don't recall anything in our shared educational background that could possibly have prepared anyone for those, although our teachers did their best to convince us that they had all the answers.

Caretakers are very special people. I ended up being somewhat of one myself, only my caretaking is limited to assisting people with the machines which they use to earn their income.

Once a caretaker, always a caretaker. A caretaker never gives up, and is always in search of new ideas, and new ways in which to help. Keep on truckin', my friend!

BB

Byker Bob said...

Reality,

I used to listen to Dr. Gene Scott as part of my post-Armstrong oddysey. I don't recall specifically where he got his information, but there was history and tradition as to the lives of the original 11 apostles, and Matthias who replaced Judas. They all suffered horribly painful deaths with the exception of John, the only disciple who did not desert Jesus during the passion.

Tradition is that Peter considered himself unworthy to die in the same way as Jesus, so when he was sentenced to crucifixion, he requested to be crucified upside down! I think I recall that Bartholomew was skinned alive.

Jared could probably provide us with the specifics, as history is his thing.

As for the writings of the apostles, Jesus had selected blue collar everyday working people and craftsmen such as himself, and who knows how literate fishermen of that day were. Their field of expertise became the sharing of Jesus teachings, and the gospel. It might have been left for some of their more literate students to record the history, their thoughts and experiences for posterity.

BB

Anonymous said...

Reality: More information.

Fox's Book of Martyrs, first chapter, chronicles the deaths of the disciples. http://www.ccel.org/f/foxe/martyrs/fox.101.htm. If that doesn't work, google Fox's Book of Martyrs.

Also, Eusebius wrote of the disciples' martyrdoms.

Hope that helps.

BB

Reality said...

Thank you, B.B.

I will check them out. I think I have copies of Foxe's Book of Martyrs and also Eusebius. I will look into these.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Fox's Book of Martyrs has zero value for historical accuracy.

Bamboo_bends said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Reality said...

I see it is true about John Foxe. He offers no evidence for anything he reports.

I was reading that once before and realized his information was selective as he did not even mention the killing of Michael Servetus. It is no more believeable now.

Dr. Walter Bauer shows Eusebeus to also employ selective history in at least some areas. Eusebius was used as a source for the orthodox side of the story rather than true facts in every case.

One book which may be of some help could be "James the Brother of Jesus", by Robert Eisenman. I had started reading it before, but had so much trouble keeping all the many James's (like James the Just etc.) separate that I put it down. I'll try it again.

Reality said...

There is only so much evidence on the earth and when anything new is discovered, it is reported far and wide.

I do have one other book, "Jesus According to the Earliest Witness", by James M. Robinson, which I haven't started yet and I hope it will provide more information. Robinson helped translate much of the Pseudepigrapha (sp) and is the general editor of the Nag Hammadi Library.

Anonymous said...

catchup:

Reality said:
'In earlier history regarding God and humanity, God was totally against those who sacrified their children. It makes no sense for Him to do such a thing as sacrifice his child.

So there you have just another contradiction in the big book'

Sacrifice is good. But not to pagan gods. Th sacrifices to JHVH are typical of the awesome sacrifice of a loving Father

Corky said:
'And, there is the thing about "by man sin entered into the world and death by sin" as if there was no death in the world before Adam sinned. Well, we know that's bunk.'

A pivotal argument by recent creationists is that nothing died before Adam's sin. However, animals do not sin. There is no conflict with 'millions of years'

Stingerski said...

Neotherm said :

Some of us will have loved ones who die and will be consigned to Hell, for example.

Well, that's a hell of an idea! And we all know that it comes from the traditional Xtian viewpoint. And you seem to subscribe to this type of punishment.

But my question to you was simply this: in Romans, ch. 11, Paul makes the statement that "All Israel will be saved." So, I would like to know if any Jews are going to be in this hell you believe in.

You and Paul cannot both be right.

Tired Skeptic said...

I think Byker Bob, Mel, and Corky posted with the most thoughtful and useful comments

In terms of actually helping a grief stricken woman, probably not. She needs grief counseling. Discussions with an atheist about God's sacrifice of His son isn't going to cut it.

The problem is, and has been, the "comfort" she got from her fellow church goers, which precipitated the problem in the first place. Their responses were inappropriate as are the responses here about the various arguments about the nature of God. All that can proceed from such discussions is more pain for the poor woman and the extension of her grief.

As caretakers, you would mostly qualify as semi-pros: A semi-pro is an amateur on steroids.

BC said...

An atheist minister counseling a grief stricken woman about God is like a homosexual marriage counselor: The ultimate validation of the Peter Principle.

Reality said...

"Sacrifice is good. But not to pagan gods. Th sacrifices to JHVH are typical of the awesome sacrifice of a loving Father"

Some sacrifice to God at some time may have been good, but still He never required anyone to sacrifice a child to himself. The only example I can think of is the story of Isaac, where The Great Angel stopped Abraham beforehand.

DennisDiehl said...

Anon said:

"The nuns would tell us that the gods in mythology which closely parallel the Jesus story, were merely Satan's way of discrediting the future birth of Christ."

Ah yes..the Diabolical Mimicry defense. Around here Bob Jones students are taught that Satan has made done the same with fossils to make the earth appear older and evolution more true.

Bert: I totally understand where you are coming from. I have to balance my disappointment of being literalized by religion and my hope that a God is benevolent and does not resemble the meager attempt one book makes to define He or She or them.

Byker Bob said:

"I can't imagine what you've been through. Your people really asked you the hard questions, and I don't recall anything in our shared educational background that could possibly have prepared anyone for those, although our teachers did their best to convince us that they had all the answers."

Real people with real circumstance as really hard questions because the mind won't think of them until they have no other way out.

We were taught where everything was in the Bible and all the characters and stories as if it all flowed naturally and coherently. Most churches do that. How many of our instructors were ever in a church setting more than a few months before being a teacher....ummmmm, ummmmmm, hmmmmmmm....I'm thinking. :)

Caretakers are caretakers by temperament and hard wiring. That's why I suggested to Joe Jr. that all minister take the test to find out who they were and how they were wired...well...hmmmm, hooooo, huuuummmmmm, not! ha.

BB did you watch the Lord's Prayer video?

Anonymous said...

I remember the deep regret when I came to the realization in 1995 that the "pearl of great price" (i.e., the WCG's version of truth) was nothing more than a very clever fraudulent scheme. As if being lied to isn't bad enough, many of us irreversibly traded our friends and family for this fake pearl.

Anonymous said...

"Fox's Book of Martyrs has zero value for historical accuracy."

Ewww see be us is not exaclty Mr. Tell the Truth either at times according to many.

DennisDiehl said...

BC noted:

"An atheist minister counseling a grief stricken woman about God is like a homosexual marriage counselor: The ultimate validation of the Peter Principle"

First of all I am not atheist. Secondly I was not counseling her or telling her how to feel or not feel, how to be or not be. I was listening.

Thirdly, there are probably many gay marriage counselors and may rank as the most empathetic of all. You pulpits are full of gay ministers and priests and if you'd like to hear about one of the most conservative religious schools in the Christian world just ask me including the son of the founder.

I had a gay teacher at AC. Very nice human being or becoming as we might say.

I always got nervous thinking about Jesus being a bachelor living with his father for eons. :)

Neotherm said...

Stingerski:

I am a Christian and I do believe what Christ said. He said that most people would not receive salvation. I would like it to be otherwise and maybe there is some interpretation of scripture that I and many other Christians do not understand.

I do not know what to make of Paul's statement about all Israel being saved. Does he mean all Israel at one point in time or all Israel for all time? I am not sure. Does "all" mean "some" as some commentators say? Or did Paul write exactly what he meant?

In the world of Calvinism where there is Irresistable Grace, this scripture is no problem. God can force salvation on whomever, whenever. But in te world of moderate Calvinism, where free will exists, God cannot save anybody who does not want to be saved.

Is Paul's statement made in the context of Irresistable Grace? Is his statement an endorsement of Univeralism?

Without being able to speak with Paul and understand the intent and nuanced meaning of his original statement in Greek, it is not likely any of us will ever resolve this problem. But I do know it will be resolved, when all secrets are revealed.

-- Neo

Byker Bob said...

Hi Dennis,

I couldn't get the Lord's Prayer video to come up for some reason or other. I tried typing in the link information several times, and You Tube stated that the video was currently unavailable. But, I'll keep on trying.

I was going to mention something which you already noted. And that is that often grief stricken people reach out to various people. They're hurting so badly and just want to be listened to. It's possible that their particular belief system has become overloaded by whatever has happened, and is not completely functional.

We from WCG seem to always relate to "counselling", but most other folks share their opinions. A "student of life" may be able to provide an outlook, or way of dealing with a problem that a fellow church member might not even think of. I believe we were all put on the earth together partially to learn to help one another, and to learn to be empathetic. As long as an individual is working to accomplish good, I believe in at least considering his/her advice and opinions, regardless of religious or philosophical background.

One service that is available today is the support group for people who share a common experience. My buddy on Wednesday night bowling team lost his Mom last summer. His dad is about my age and comes to watch his son bowl, and has opened up to me about dealing with his grief. I've tried to point out positives to him, like the fact that he's got a wonderful son, and a wonderful family. Also, I've prayed for the man. Recently, he told me he has found a support group, and it's helping him a lot.

There is a group called Compassionate Friends and Others, specializing in grief over a lost child. Sometimes such groups work for people, and in other cases they don't. It's totally up to the individuals involved, but it's certainly worth investigating.

BB

Anonymous said...

http://youtube.com/watch?v=yn3TGI5xZIc&feature=related

Try that one BB Den

DennisDiehl said...

That's exactly right BB

In hindsite, there was no "class" in dealing with real human grief and loss. Maybe that's why WCG to this day can't face the losses they have inflicted on tens of thousands..it's not in them to face them.

Joe Tkach, and my counselor says you have to name the problems, not just say "the church" etc, and those that orchestrated "the changes" had no mind for anything but reckless chichanery (sp). Thus what can one expect.

I was empathetic long before I ever came across WCG. It's why I still "suffer" from GAD. And that's not one of the 12 sons of Israel! ha

Neotherm said...

Dennis, you stated: "In hindsite, there was no "class" in dealing with real human grief and loss. Maybe that's why WCG to this day can't face the losses they have inflicted on tens of thousands..it's not in them to face them."

The current leadership of the WCG came out of Armstrongism just like we did. Armstrongism was not a system of belief that was marked by compassion and empathy. If something bad happened to someone, even though Armstrongites might feign compassion, Armstrongites believed that this was because someone had done something to deserve it.

When I first started attending the WCG when I was about twenty, I was working on a church picnic site in Wichita, Kansas. While moving some concrete blocks, I smashed my finger pretty badly. All of the old, main line WCG members around treated me like a pariah after I mashed my finger. I thought this was really strange behavior. But I was not accustomed to the judgementalism that dominated WCG thinking.

A relatively new member, like myself, regarded it as no problem and actually helped me treat the finger.

This is a small but definitive example. So the infrastructure of judgementalism in the WCG precluded compassion, empathy and sympathy. Even those who showed it, never really seemed sincere.

-- Neo

Corky said...

Anonymous said . . .
A pivotal argument by recent creationists is that nothing died before Adam's sin. However, animals do not sin. There is no conflict with 'millions of years'

Well, there certainly is with at least 150,000 years of humans living on the planet. Even the American Indians were in America over 10,000 years ago - that's 4,000 years before Adam.

DennisDiehl said...

Neo said:
'If something bad happened to someone, even though Armstrongites might feign compassion, Armstrongites believed that this was because someone had done something to deserve it."

Hmmm, sorry about getting "shunned" for a finger smash! That just blows my mind and that was not my personal experience when bad things happened. I guess if it you got hurt on the sabbath, it was Satan trying you, if it was Sunday thru Monday, it was God teaching you a lesson.

Stuff that happened was just stuff that happend with no meaning assigned to it, at least not in my world. I guess my Presbyterian filter was firmly affixed!

Anonymous said...

The other thing to consider, about the post-WCG experience, is that we really had no fear of death. As far as we were concerned, the dead were only sleeping. Certainly, you could miss the dead while they were sleeping, but there was always an implied "well you'll see them again, so there's no point in grieving" underneath it all.

And Dennis? That Surprising God blog is hysterical. It's the blind leading the dumb!! Or maybe the other way around.....

Anonymous said...

Neotherm:

You're right on about the lack of compassion. I was financially devastated due to unethical actions on the part of someone with whom I had a contract. It left me deeply in debt. All I hoped for was a little compassion from the ministry, and maybe six months temporary suspension in the tithing requirements while I was desperately trying to get back on my feet. There were no exceptions to the tithing rule, regardless of hardship.

You have to love the membership. They had all those twisted and taken-out-of-context biblical quotes that leave you within a nanosecond of lunging for their throat to strangling them.

Mark said...

According to salvation history, mankind needed and looked forward to a Savior. God the Trinity humbled Himself and became the Son of Man and the Son of God through the womb of a virgin. He became our representative according to the Father's plan by entering into His Passion and dying on the Cross. He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world by and through the administration and authority of His Church and through His Priesthood, administering the New Covenant which Christians now celebrate in the liturgy of the Eucharist. Yes, and thankfully yes, only in the grave a short time. The good news is that He was raised from the dead to become King of kings and Lord of lords, our High Priest and Savior. Now, all human beings are welcome into His family through baptism, having their sins washed away and receiving the Holy Spirit. Human beings can more than exchange their depravity for His righteousness(Calvinism). We can be adopted as His children, destined to live forever in His Kingdom which is here now in part through the Church. We too can be raised from the dead as Jesus was. He has freed us from the power of sin and death. This is what I believe and hopefully it can be an encouragement for the person who lost her daughter and has not yet received her back. In the Church, the treasury of merit is available for these situations to both withdraw from and to add to.

SmilinJackSprat said...

Christianity forces the entire burden of Israel onto one Jew, Jesus.

Jesus of course is part of the Israelite family, and certainly a pivotal part, in light of the impact his life, and skewed applications of his life, have made on the world. By "skewed applications" I refer to Crusades, Inquisitions, ultimately the holocaust, and in more recent times the advent of certain circus acts masquerading as televangelists. There is no end to the good, and evil, that has been worked in Jesus name.

Nonetheless, the historical Jesus, apart from the surfeit of lies that have been told about him, was part of the sacrifice that almost destroyed Isaac and symbolized the sacrificial role that has similarly threatened the lives of Isaac's offspring -- that is, if we dare to believe the New Testament account of Jesus' suffering and death.

Every son of Jacob (and Esau, for that matter, who became a vessel for dishonorable death) was on that sacrificial altar in the loins of Isaac. For this reason, the Suffering Servant of Isaiah should be seen as the entire House of Israel, whose historical role has occasionally involved human suffering and sacrifice. To limit the whole range of suffering presaged on Isaac's altar (Gen. 22) to just one Jewish man, is to callously ignore the suffering of countless other holy people who suffered as much and more than he did, and for the same reasons.

I once spoke with a German individual who had watched German soldiers throw Jewish babies into the air, in sight of their mothers, and then catch them on their bayonets. Would anyone dare to suggest that Jesus suffered more than those mothers? Yet I have also heard how Jesus suffered infinitely more than any other human being. The myopia is stultifying, I would say bordering on blasphemy.

I am sure that Jesus would be horrified to think people could ignore the inhuman tortures that others have endured as insignificant in comparison with his. By no means was he the only Jew -- or Righteous Gentile! -- mercilessly scourged and crucified, or otherwised horribly tortured and murdered for glorifying God's name.

“The Talmud connects Miriam’s death to [the passages in Numbers 19 concerning the red heifer (brown cow)]. Just as the ashes of the brown cow atone for sin, the death of a righteous person does the same” (BT MK 28a, quoted in the Etz Hayim Pentateuch, p. 883). 4 Machabees 17:21-22 states that, “...they [the martyrs] having become, as it were, a ransom for the sin of our nation. And through the blood of those devout ones and their death as an atoning sacrifice, divine Providence preserved Israel that previously had been mistreated.”

The national responsibility of Israel is uniquely interpreted in Matthew’s paraphrase of Hosea 11:1. “When Israel [was] a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.” Hosea refers to all Israel, but Matthew applies it exclusively to Jesus. Curiously left out of Matthew’s interpretation is the other and equally valid side of the same equation: if something written about the nation can be applied to Jesus, then anything applied to Jesus should equally apply to the nation. The destiny of individuals, especially that of patriarchs and leaders, is often mirrored in the destiny of the nation. “I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn,” names patriarchs whose offspring are obviously meant in the statement.

Jesus suffered, and his suffering is significant –- but by no means was he the only son of Jacob to suffer for the glory of God’s name and the redemption of mankind. Those who object to Jesus’ crucifixion and weekend of death as a complete sacrifice for sin are right. Jesus did not do it alone; if he had intended such a thing, he would not have encouraged others to take his cross upon themselves. Whatever for, if all the world ever needed was Jesus' admittedly horrible, but nonetheless relatively short weekend of suffering and death?

DennisDiehl said...

Reality said:
"Even that number 12 sounds a bit like numerology to me. At any rate, they were not at the cross when their leader died, and they didn't show up to help bury him. As you say, "Only God knows where the original 12 and their writings went."

At another level beyond the literalist scope of this current posting, astro-theology, an aspect of godman origins may explain this repetative use of 12 in the Bible.

12 sons if Jacob, 12 tribes, 12 stones in the Breastplate, 12 disciples, 12 apostles, 12 gates of the New Jerusalem etc.

For the basics try the first three segments of Zeitgeist. It is an overview

http://youtube.com/watch?v=KeZB2EsPqGE&feature=related

Stingerski said...

Neotherm said :

I am a Christian and I do believe what Christ said. He said that most people would not receive salvation.

I know that is what Armstrong taught (sans a second crack at things in his Wonderfurl World 'Amorrow). But where exactly did Jesus say such a thing?

And which category, if I may ask, do you consider yourself to be in? Saved or damned?

Anonymous said...

I don't believe it is the sacrifice, I don;t believe it is the death, I dont't believe it is the weekend trip to hell, I believe it is the SUFFERING that got Jesus/God (one God) down.

We too are to follow ing the SUFFERRING, that is what gets us down...

John Cooper

dan said...

JOHN 3:16 "FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD, THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, THAT WHOSOEVER SHALL BELIEVE IN HIM SHALL NOT PERISH, BUT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE."

God gave His son KNOWING THAT HE COULD FAIL! Satan also knew He could fail. That is why he termpted Him so.

There was no contradiction. Jesus Christ assumed the body of a man to endure the life of a man, in order to DEFEAT the god of this world.

You see, that is the entire story of salvation. Jesus Christ fought the impossible battle IN YOUR STEAD! YOU DO NOT HAVE TO FIGHT IT! THE BATTLE HAS ALREADY BEEN WON!

The above is the sum and total of the story of salvation.

The cults, especially those derived from 'armstrongism, or pharaseism, CANNOT GRASP THE SIMPLICITY OF GRACE.

They CANNOT ACCEPT the free gift of redemption. Why not? Because their minds have been shrouded by a veil. As Paul proclaimed in 2 Corinthians, "TO THIS DAY, WHENEVER THE LAW OF MOSES IS READ, A VEIL DESCENDS UPON THEIR EYES!"

Why does the veil descend? Because as Paul exclaimed in another place, "BRETHREN, I DECLARE TO YOU THAT IF YOU ALLOW YOURSELVES TO BE CIRCUMCISED, CHRIST WILL BE OF NO AVAIL TO YOU!"

You see, there simply isn't anything else except Christ! Its that simple. He is the all-in-all. You cannot find salvation except by the FREE GIFT OF GRACE!

To emphasize this truth, the Apostle James convened a special council of the apostles, and they were so adamant about stopping phariseism, that they SENT A LETTER, stating that "We have heard that there are those who have SUBVERTED YOUR SOULS by saying, "YOU MUST BE CIRCUMSIZED AND KEEP THE LAW: TO WHOM WE GAVE NO SUCH COMMAND! It seemed good for us to SEND CHOSEN MEN...MEN WHO HAVE HAZARDED THEIR LIVES FOR JESSUS CHRIST TO ALSO TO TELL YOU THE SAME BY MOUTH!..."

Now you ask, why is circumcision a big deal? Because UNLESS YOU ARE CIRCUMCISED YOU CANNOT TAKE THE PASSOVER! AND IF YOU CANNOT TAKE THE PASSOVER, YOU CANNOT OBSERVE THE HOLY DAYS OR ANY OTHER PART OF THE LAW OF MOSES! EXODUS 12:48!

CIRCUMCISION EQUALS LAW OF MOSES, INCLUDING THE PASSOVER!

When armstrong or flurry or meredith entice you to follow the law of moses, they are SUBVERTING YOUR SOUL! They are robbing you of the free gift of God, ETERNAL LIFE IN HIS SON JESUS CHRIST!

Today, I beg you to run, don't walk, RUN AWAY from those of the circumcision(law of moses!)

You don't have to tithe,observe sabbaths,refrain from meats or break up your family. Start where you are!

Lift up your voice and cry out to God to free you from those who are SUBVERTING YOUR SOUL! HE WILL FREE YOU!

AND BY THE WAY, ITS FREE!

DennisDiehl said...

An observation:

First of all, thanks all for your comments! This has been interesting.

Dan brings up an oft used Pauline explanation for the superiority of the New Covenant.

Dan notes: "As Paul proclaimed in 2 Corinthians, "TO THIS DAY, WHENEVER THE LAW OF MOSES IS READ, A VEIL DESCENDS UPON THEIR EYES!"

Why does the veil descend? Because as Paul exclaimed in another place, "BRETHREN, I DECLARE TO YOU THAT IF YOU ALLOW YOURSELVES TO BE CIRCUMCISED, CHRIST WILL BE OF NO AVAIL TO YOU!"

This concept thrown out by Paul is found in II Cor 3: 3-18

Paul typically severs the original OT story of Moses and the Veil from it's context and gives it the opposite meaning of what it orginally meant.

One should know that when Moses descended from Sinai with the Tablets of the law, his face shown. Naturally the Israelites were very impressed. When Moses spoke to the people about the law and when he communed with God in the Tabernacle his face remained uncovered. The unveiled Moses was to promote the awesome glory of the Torah.

When he was NOT discussing the Law or communicating with God, he Covered his face.

Exodus 34:35

And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face sent forth beams, and Moses put the veil back on his face until he went into speak with Him."

Paul said the fading radiance is the passing of the glory of the Torah, however there is NO mention of fading radiance at all in the original story, just as there was no veil on Moses when he spoke of the law to the people.

Paul treats the veil like blindfold on Jews which prevents them from understanding the scriptures when they read them. Thus they miss who Jesus is.

One could just as well use the story to say that Inasmuch as Moses face was not covered when talking of the law, so Jews minds, eyes and hearts are NOT dulled when they read their own scriptures. They aren't blind, they are enlightened.

The Jews understand their Torah just fine. Paul's analogy about why "seed" is Christ because it is singular and not "of seeds" is another example of Paul's lame way of viewing OT accounts. He was no Pharisee.

Paul's use the Moses/Veil story is a complete fabrication and turns the orignally story to an opposite conclusion that is not valid, except in Paul's mind.

Again, if Paul used to be a Pharisee of the Pharisees, it was in his own mind. I can see why he was not graduated in Torah studies and maybe that's why he started
his own religion :) It's an oft told reaction to being rejected.

Reality said...

Hi Dennis,

I watched that movie, and then viewed a few more from the margin.

Most unsettling to say the least. The parts all fit together TOO well.

You have likely already seen the various programs on the Discovery and History channels regarding the Mayans etc. They are along some of the same lines.

Thank you for sending the link.

Neotherm said...

Stingerski said: "know that is what Armstrong taught (sans a second crack at things in his Wonderfurl World 'Amorrow). But where exactly did Jesus say such a thing?"

Christ spoke of the broad way that many would enter and the narrow way that few would enter. There are a couple of places where the imagery was used. Throughout the Bible there are what is known as the Fewness Scriptures. Only a few in Noah's Ark and other scriptures.

I believe that I am among the saved. I would like to believe that everyone is in that category but I cannot find any scriptural suupport for that notion. I have family and friends who have no interest in Christianity.

-- Neo

byker bob said...

Neo,

Would you consider your views on salvation to be Calvinist or Arminianist?

Have you ever read Gary Amirault's materials on universal salvation?

Do you believe that the "few" you mentioned include only 144,000 sealed firstfruits?

Please don't feel obligated to answer these questions if you consider them to be an invasion of privacy. I am genuinely interested in hearing your views, because I've recently emerged from 30 years of spiritual homelessness during which I was an agnostic. As an experience, it's both refreshing and exhilarating, but there are many issues to resolve, and these require careful thought and a multitude of counsel.

BB

Anonymous said...

I talked to a Jewish rabbi once who opened up a bit to me about Jewish reactions to Christian teachings. He told me this story of a conversation he had had with a Christian minister friend who believed Jews could not be saved without believing in Christ. The rabbi asked him, "What about the Jews who died in the Nazi death camps without believing in Christ? Are they lost?" His minister friend answered slowly (a little uncomfortably) that yes, if they had not accepted Christ, unfortunately they were. The rabbi then asked, "What about one of the executioners of these Jews, who may have committed horrible atrocities and murders against them, but who at the last moment before he dies accepted Christ? Is he saved?" His minister friend, even more uncomfortably, said yes, if he truly repented and accepted Christ, then the Nazi death camp official would enter into salvation. The rabbi then told his Christian friend, "If a murderer of innocent Jews goes to heaven, at the same time the innocent Jews he murdered are sent to hell according to your system of belief, then I want nothing to do with the God of your system of belief."
Rene Girard has written of how every culture has a scapegoat in its deep mythical structure, and that it is so deep the culture is literally unaware of its doing so. Girard saw Christianity as the means of breaking out of this cycle, the one religion which rose above scapegoating.
But Rene Girard, a Christian, ironically illustrated his own rule that cultures are blind to their own scapegoating. For the scapegoat of the Gospels is actually "the Jews", upon whom the Gospels place the blame for the death of God. True to his own theory, Girard--and most Christians--cannot see this.

scroller

Questeruk said...

dan said...

“You don't have to tithe,observe sabbaths,refrain from meats or break up your family. Start where you are!”

Fine – so it follows that you can also freely steal, murder, be unfaithful to your spouse, disrespect your parents, lie etc etc..

I am sure in reality you don’t do these things Dan, but surely your line of thinking means that Jesus has freed us from the necessity of these things as well?

Anonymous said...

Was Jesus good? He him self said he was not good. Only God was good. My question is: if He was not good, how could He not be a sinner? Scripture tells us that He was human as we are human. Humans sin, all have sinned it also says. Humans can be free of sin through grace. Christ had grace extended to Him. John 1:14. Grace frees us from our sins. Jesus was tempted, Heb. 2:27, He offered up sacrifice for His own sins.

Stingerski said...

Neotherm said :

I believe that I am among the saved.

If you are a traditional Christian then you KNOW you are saved because you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior (whatever that means).

But you sound more like you are a traditional Armstrongite, who is still WORKING for his salvation, and won't know if he is "saved" until the very end.

Either way, I don't really care because I consider all this mythology to be just that. I didn't asked to be born, didn't do anything that I know of for some man-god to come and "save" me 2,000 years ago (when I wasn't even around), and I don't consider any of my dead relatives to be in some hell (altho I know a few politicians and lawyers who might be).

I believe you have the perfect right to believe in whatever reality or fantasy that you want -- as long as you don't interfere in my right to do the same. As I have said in other places, I don't want any "Christians" showing up on my door step, with gun and Bible in hand.

But I find it very depressing that you or anyone else here could actually believe that the vast majority of mankind is going to end up in Hell. Not that such a place really exists. But that has to be one hell of a bummer for you (pun intended) to worship such a failure of a god that cannot seem to get his/her/their message across any better than that, i.e. he can't "rescue" anymore than a tiny fraction of his creation.

Of course, since you think you are among the saved (or will be), what the hell, hell has no future reality for you. Hey, life is good when you have such beliefs. :-)

BTW, since your avatar looks like a relative of Red Cloud I assume that you are a Native American (meaning you got to the continent I am now on before most everybody else). That being the case, how do you feel that you will have almost no relatives, if any, in your future kingdom?

Anonymous said...

The issue isn't as much how DIFFICULT the sacrifice was, but rather in what the sacrifice results.

Bamboo_bends said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Byker Bob said...

The last half dozen comments are very salient, they all involve concepts with which I've been wrestling. A new model has been evolving in my own mind, one that seems to be making sense for the first time in my lifetime.

First, we might actually all have chosen or volunteered to be born. What is man? Basically an animal body with the mind of a god. No matter what background a person comes from, belief that man is highest on the food chain is pretty much universal. Origen had some fairly specific beliefs concerning the source of man's soul or spirit. He believed that God, in His wisdom and mercy, was finding a way to redeem the fallen angels (ourselves). Seen from this viewpoint, life becomes a purgatory process.

Stinger brought up an important point, in that God said He was going to save all of Israel. Israel has been expanded to include all of the gentiles, even us Anglo-Saxon ones! That, and other scriptures have led me to believe that salvation is going to be universal, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who suffered immensely and died one time to cover all human sin. In that way, the unfortunate Jewish folks who died in the WWII holocaust will receive God's justice as well as the (in some cases) Christian soldiers who had perpetrated the holocaust.

Regarding legalism, Jesus Christ lives His life through Christians, just as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit lived through the potentially corruptible human Jesus. It's a spiritual walk, and Jesus having kept the law, and subsequently dying for our sins is what makes possible the gift of salvation. God recognizes the righteousness of Jesus Christ living His life through Christians, not our crude attempts at lawkeeping. The problem with the law is that those who work so hard at keeping it also use it to judge their fellow man (which is soley God's prerogative). There are many ways in which one can keep the law, and the unintended consequence is that it is done in such a way that it hurts others. I know this for a fact, because my WCG lawkeeping fanaticism did lead me to hurt others, especially those "in the world". My inability to keep it also hurt others.

Jesus attacked the root cause of sin by dealing with what was in the heart prior to even considering the law. He fulfilled the law, including the sabbath and holydays which pointed towards Him. Every day is the sabbath rest, and every day is the holydays in their expanded spirit of the law, for the Christian. Christ living within us recognizes that such laws have been fulfilled and are now expanded, but at the same time is not going to want to steal, murder, covet, or lie. It's a lofty concept that naturally legalistic humans just can't seem to grasp. The fact is that if Jesus were walking planet Earth today, modern day Pharisee-legalists in the mainstream churches and ACOGs would give him just as much grief as did the Jews/Israelites of the first century.

We've all got a massive problem, having had our minds warped by Armstrongism, and anger and bitterness can often be a natural byproduct of that warp. There's no need to be angry and bitter. It's much better to be happy. When we realize that God is not going to lose a single one of His sheep, it really helps us to see everyone around us differently, because they're going to be there right along with us in the future.

I should probably acknowledge that what I've written above are soley my own evolving opinions and beliefs. However, just try to visualize the good fruits that could be borne by such beliefs. Imagine the change in outlook one would experience towards all fellow humans! It's not dissimilar to what Jesus taught in His sermon on the mount, arguably the best blueprint ever written for human relations. The way in which we treat fellow man belies or exemplifies our attitude towards God. You really can't separate the two.

BB

Anonymous said...

Maybe the problem is that the lady is still alive, and not that the daughter is dead.

I thought Jesus died for our sins so when WE died we were covered by some heaven insurance.

I didn't know that Jesus sacrifice then equals no problems with life on earth for the living.

Anonymous said...

Byker Bob Said"

" No matter what background a person comes from, belief that man is highest on the food chain is pretty much universal."

Unless of course you swim naked off the coast of Australia until swallowed whole, or taunt the tiger at the San Diego Zoo.

Neotherm said...

Stingerski:

In my case "believe" equals "know". I used the term believe to emphasize the role of faith. I am not working for salvation like an Armstrongite. But salvation does produce good works through me at times.

I believe Hell is a prison that is locked from the inside. The people who are in Hell choose to be there. And this choice is something that they will never repent from. Hence, Hell is eternal. If there is a condition under which they would repent, God would have found and implemented those conditions in their lives and they would have repented.

I do believe that few people will receive salvation. But it is not because God cannot communicate his message. It is because most people will not hear it. In the current Western world, the message is more accessible than anyone could have ever imagined back in the first century.

-- Neo

Neotherm said...

Byker Bob:

I am neither traditional Calvinist or Arminian. I have objections to both of those positions.

I am a moderate Calvinist. I believe in Eternal Security, like a Calvinist. But I also believe in free choice, like an Arminian.
My position is best expressed in the writings of C.S. Lewis and theologian Millard Erickson.

I have looked at some material on Univeralism, written by some Quakers, but so far have found it unconvincing. I will have a look at Amirault's writing if I can find it.

I believe the save includes many more than the 144,000. I think the 144,000 are a phenomenon that occurs at the End of Days.

I believe HWA used to preach that they WCG would comprise the 144,000. I am not sure why.

-- Neo

tkach's $wiss banker said...

Neotherm ..

In my case "believe" equals "know".

---------------------------------

What are the odds that the human-sacrifice-cult of Christianity is right and the thousands of other human-sacrifice-cults (right up until the Mayans) are wrong ?

But if you're so confident Neo, why don't you join in George Bush's trillion-dollar-illegal-Christian-crusade and go and kick some Islamic ass in Iraq.

Anonymous said...

The 144,000 All Virgin Men?

Rev. 14:4-5: “These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.'''”

Rev 14:4-THESE ARE THEY (or the ones) WHICH WERE NOT DEFILED WITH WOMEN; FOR THEY ARE VIRGINS (or they kept themselves pure-NIV).

These appear to have never been married and never been intimate with a woman

So we learn that they are all males, they are unmarried (virgins) and they speak only truth (no deceit in their mouth).

So first off, we have to conclude these can't come from either the Baptists, The Catholics nor the COG's. Secondly, we have to conlude that women, still at the end of the human age, are worthless and still the symbol of all that is evil and defiled.

We're not making much progress here!

:)

Anonymous said...

(1) Does this mother know that because of Jesus and his Father, she's going to get her daughter back better, too -- and in the daughter's next moment of consciousness?

(2) Had Jesus stayed dead for some centuries, it would have been his next moment of consciousness when His Father resurrected Him, no different for Jesus than three days, the prophesied time he had to fulfill. Yes, different for the Father.

(3) Christ had important work to do, living in the minds of converted people (Col. 1:27 & Gal 2:20), which the woman's daughter is not needed for. He sent God's Holy Spirit, for which his resurrection was a precondition. That is, Christ's immediate resurrection was necessary for us all, including even the dead daughter. Everybody else can safely wait -- including Moses, Jospeh, David, Peter, Paul, anybody famous in the faith, anybody not widely known. Hard on the living, but no harm done that cannot be joyously repaired later.

I do not point these out to demean the woman's grief. We are, in fact, entitled to our grief -- it is one measure of how much we loved the now dead. It is normal for children to bury their parents. It is an aberration for parents to bury their children, though it is not exactly uncomnmon. If you or I can share her sorrow, how much more God?

However, the question started by an attempt to accuse God of not having suffered enough, as much as we. God has suffered with the death of each person, including the woman's dead daughter. Has anyone else? And further, God is able to return all those dead to life and happiness. Can anyone else?

The woman's pain has caused her to ask a question which not only fails to appreciate all God has done and will do for her and the dead dauther, it accuses God of being somehow inferior to humanity. Guess again. The Father and Jesus are our only hope. Even for those who don't understand, or doubt, or take a know-it-all dismissive approach to believers.

I am sorry the woman has only the counsel of those who consider this a hard question, or who consider salvation a silly delusion.

I look forward to the time when the woman and her daughter will both be alive together again, solely due to what the Father and Jesus have sacrificed for them.

DennisDiehl said...

Anon:

Sounds like you have never sat with someone while they screamed and fell down on the floor and begged God for help and ask what was wrong with them that God , once again, chose not to protect a child and let "their Angels" off the hook for being unavailable.

God does not care, in my experience, about human grief or need. Humans always lose to not knowing the mind of God and there are humans who feel they can easily excuse God if only we wouldl listen. Either way, God does not protect or encourage in real life and gets of the hook for not doing so.

Many of thes reasonings are pure speculation about how it all is, what God is thinking, why Jesus had to get back to work Monday morning and "she should be glad..."

She is not glad and I have never met anyone who was.

Encouragement should actually be encouraging to the one needing to be encouraged.

Annon said:

"The woman's pain has caused her to ask a question which not only fails to appreciate all God has done and will do for her and the dead dauther, it accuses God of being somehow inferior to humanity."

I'd like to hear you explain that to her or scores of others I have seen, in real time, cave in under the agony. Explain this to the parents whose child was dragged from the old muddy swimming pool and when I was watching, could see little muddy hand prints along the wall half way up, until they stopped. I kept the parents from seeing those handprints as they had enough to bear.

An angelic hand at that moment would have been nice.

You don't always need a weaver of tales to encourage humans even thought, as we know, many things cannot be fixed or set right again.

We can hope for the future, but in my experience, one had better just listen in the present and be careful of quips and bible quotes that go in one ear and out the other and generally cause a family to give up on their not so helpful church or pastor.

I sat at a FOT once and listened to a minister go on and on about God's intervention in saving the life of a child in his church. I cringed. I knew what he meant. However there were dozens of parents staring back at him for whom that was not so and it only compounded their guilt and anger at God who did nothing for them.

I talked to him at lunch and asked him to be more careful and wise about his enthusiasm on such topics in such a large audience where one does not know the circumstances of those staring back.

DennisDiehl said...

PS I am not being unapprecive of perceived theological solutions to human misery and heartache. I am, however speaking from many many on site experiences which gives a different view of how , in practical fact, much of many believe, is not helpful in such times.

Over thirty years, most of the parents I knew of eventually left the COG and went looking for a fresh start and different kind of encouragement to help them get on with their lives. This is common to all denominations.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said: "(1) Does this mother know that because of Jesus and his Father, she's going to get her daughter back better, too -- and in the daughter's next moment of consciousness?"

I would *love* to see actual proof of that. Proof that does not involve extrapolation from the scriptures or 'because Mr. Armstrong said so.'

Nothing replaces the loss of a loved one or being denied the opportunity to see that person live and grow...Nothing.

Bert said...

Dennis, I am going to make this final comment and bow out.
I went back and reread the original question that was posed in the beginning of this thread and realized I was addressing the wrong question in the comments I made before. What I see as the critical issue has nothing to do with why a person dies, but deals with how to cope with death when it become a factor in our separation from someone who is an important part of our life. This person’s daughter died as the result of an automobile accident clear and simple. Whether there is or isn’t a God has nothing to do with the death. The question of what comes next depends on what a person believes. The two factors are that this is the end of an important relationship and is there a hope that the relationship will be resumed after death.

What puzzled me was why a person who claims to be a Christian (and maybe she didn’t) would pose such a question. I believe that while many who follow the Christian faith may be muddled and filled with error Christianity specifically focuses on presenting the idea that death isn’t final and there is hope after this life has ended in death.

I believe the person who lost her daughter in a car accident really had very little understanding of what the bible teaches. It also appears the bulk of those who were attempting to comfort her did not have a much understanding or were unable to communicate it well. The way you presented the situation appears to reveal that you share her condemnation of God’s weekend separation from His son.

I would ask the question; how such a condemnation would contribute to comforting the grieving mother. I realize that when people go through a grieving process it is not unusual for them to blame God and in some cases blame the person who died, but people who have even a basic understanding the teachings of Christianity generally find comfort in the hope of being reunited with a loved one at some point after death. Many believe they will go to heaven and of course there are other variations about this future reuniting, but even those who believe the person who died may go to a place called hell; believe this will not be remembered when they are enjoying the bliss of eternal life.

While many of the beliefs may have a questionable a biblical foundation and even the bible can be picked apart one brick at a time; the question I continually asked myself and ask others is does what we present as being closer to reality regarding the events experienced in this human existence help people cope with the many difficulties faced in life or does it rob them of the joy they may find in the beliefs they have developed and are developing throughout life? I will admit I cannot answer this question, but the experiences I have gone through have taught me to be careful in how dogmatic I present my personal perceptions since I cannot possibly know the life they experience.

I would hope the person you mentioned as having lost her daughter could see the bible as giving a positive hope as many have, because as far as I know there is nothing science has to offer that gives any hope of life once the physical body is dead. There may be other beliefs that present a positive picture, so if you know of something I would like to hear about it.
Bert

Neotherm said...

Dennis:

One of the most difficult challenges to anyone is to try to comfort someone who is in deep grief. I'm no good at it.

I have read the book of Job a number of times and have never really felt like I was strong in my understanding of it. I come away with a different meaning just about every time I read it.

The last time I read Job, I came away with distinct feeling that everything was carefully controlled by God. Job felt like he was experiencing a meaningless affliction. Before then I was sort of a semi-Deist. I felt like there were many things in life that just happened without any particular significance. I believe Job was saying something like this. A bunch of stuff happened to him and it didn't fit any model. But he had no venue to challenge God. He could not sue God at court.

And then to make it more puzzling, God in the last few chapters didn't tell Job anything about why he was afflicted. God did not answer why but he answered who. He answered that he is the God that controls the minutiae of creation.

How one translates that understanding into comfort is a challenge I am not up to.

-- Neo

Corky said...

Neotherm said...

How one translates that understanding into comfort is a challenge I am not up to.

The story of Job is not one of comfort but of warning.

By the questions God demands Job to answer in the later chapters shows that Job was a "know it all".

He was a righteous man, the story says so, but he thought he knew the answer to everything and God showed him that he did not know the answer to everything.

In fact, the story reveals that Job knew nothing at all about the world and how it came to be or anything.

A good lesson for today amongst the righteous and pious men who think that they "know it all".

I'm talking about those men who know that evolution is not the way God creates, those men who know that man has only been on earth for 6,000 years etc.

Today, we can answer many of the questions that God demanded Job to answer but ancient man didn't know the answer to any of them.

Job should be a great lesson to those who want to deny scientific discovery in our day as if they "know" and scientists are stupid.

jdschroeder said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jdschroeder said...

I'm going to throw my two cents in at this point, if I may, even if it only bears indirectly on the subject at hand. If I seem condescending, please believe it's not intentional. But there seems to be so much bitterness in the minds and hearts of those who did things because "Mr. Armstrong said so" that this old boy can't keep quiet any longer. So out of concern for the many who live with deep resentment for doing things "because Mr. Armstrong said so," here goes. I hope this will help reverse at least part of the ongoing tragedy of bitterness toward Armstrong.

For most, what I'm about to say is obvious. I'm not speaking to you; you already know these things. But there are those who are still shackled with bitterness and resentment over things they think they can't change. This is addressed to them.

For those who let Armstrong's teachings undo happy marriages or preclude seeking medical help for life-threatening health needs, the wrongs are too great to forgive in the sense of absolving him of all responsibility. The only forgiveness in those cases is the type, expressed in Hebrew but not in translation, that puts grievous wrongs on the back burner, to be resolved later. One will have to wait for the next life to heal those wounds. Armstrong has a lot of soul-searching ahead of him, and a whole lot of profound repenting and apologizing to those he severely wronged through his personal misunderstanding and pride. No doubt about it.

But still, everyone who did things "because Mr. Armstrong said so" made a huge mistake, particularly in a free country. Letting anyone else make one's own decisions, when one possesses the capacity to think on one's own, is running full-speed away from life itself -- because despite all of those we blame, the decisions we make are still our own, and we must accept some of that responsibility. We are free people in a free country, and if we have allowed ourselves to be coerced, we'd best never let it happen again.

In America one does things because one examines the facts personally and decides accordingly. When facts change, one adjusts. Anyone who throws his or her life onto the teachings of spiritual tyrants (you fill in the blanks) is inadvertently begging for disaster. Attachments like these thwart the benevolence of God.

One cannot please God fully until he or she imbibes the attitude expressed so eloquently by Thomas Jefferson when he said: "I have sworn on the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." One cannot really take God's side without that attitude.

Not even God could lead Israel to conquer Canaan with a slave mentality -- because God doesn't force people; He works through free men and women. For the conquest of Canaan (by then a collection of irreversibly perverse societies) God needed the minds and hearts of a people steeped in freedom -- and that took 40 years of training, without distractions, vis-a-vie the leadership of God and Moses. Their freedom required a whole generation of study and application to cultivate the strength of mind necessary to conquer. Ex-Armstrongites could use some of that.

Herbert Armstrong allowed himself the perks of tyranny after some of his students convinced him that God's government is exclusively "top-down." Of course that kind of government is wrong. The relationship between God and Israel was and is one of covenant, an agreement between individuals requiring a measure of equality and de-centralized autonomy. One doesn't cut deals with nincompoops, particularly when One is God.

Full individual potential cannot grow properly under tyranny. Tyranny is Satanic, if I may use so strong an adjective. And although Armstrong had no intention of exercising tyranny, he had been convinced that a tyrannical form of government was Godly. Hence, those who were close to him were far better treated than those who had to endure his much-smaller-minded underlings. The form itself gave twerps command when they would have done far better with mops and scrub brushes.

God is interested in developing free individuals who can form and shape their own lives, make their own decisions, learn from mistakes, and become all that a human being can be. That will never happen under the strait-jacketed aristocracies of dictators, benevolent or otherwise.

Apart from some wrong doctrines and applying an heretical form of the "divine right of kings," Armstrong proffered one helluva lot of good stuff: a taste for abundance and high quality living, a brilliant outline for success based on both study and experience, and most of all, a vast Biblical knowledge, whether or not it was in-depth.

Today many of his former students are able to move into widely diverse areas of Biblical interpretation, from Roman Catholicism to Evangelical Christianity, from Orthodox Judaism to hundreds of knockoff versions of Armstrongism. I have to marvel at the degree to which free-thinkers have progressed from positions they had taken earlier in their Churches of God and Ambassador Colleges. Some will say it's not all progress; I say, "True enough, but in the long haul it's all quite harmless." We cannot hurt this planet permanently; and before God or Messiah can teach us the truest ideals, we need to exercise our freedom to choose life or death, blessing or curse as we understand the choices should be made. It could be well be argued that we have that responsibility.

Armstrong should be praised, not blamed, for a great deal of what he offered. Yes, part of his spiritual palette was unconscionable. That should be obvious to all who have known or studied his teachings. But in this great and free country, everyone has always been at least theoretically free to choose his or her own path.

Today, those who have chosen to observe Biblical Holydays and the weekly Sabbath, at least in my opinion, have chosen a very good thing indeed. Why they have so chosen, I hope and pray, has been a matter of personal choice, about which they are personally convinced, their decisions being their own, and in no way based on "because Mr. Armstrong said so." For those who have chosen otherwise, who have moved over into more conventional forms of Christianity, it must not be forgotten that Christians built this country. Ben Franklin and some few others were Deists, and very good ones, but in the main this great country is the product of mainstream Christians -- and one dares not overlook George Washington's deep involvement, not only in church life but also in Freemasonry. How about that! How many of us are as recognized for our greatness and contributions to America as George Washington?

Freedom, dear reader. Freedom. Don't let it slip from those beautiful fingers of yours. They're made to hold fast that which is good. Don't betray your lives to anyone else's opinions, including those of Herbert Armstrong, unless you are convinced on your own. Be humble enough to learn from everyone, and remember, "One nation under God, with liberty and justice for all."

Gavin said...

Nice contribution John. Very Yank-o-centric, but still well stated despite the cultural jingoism

;-)

jdschroeder said...

Gavin, I know. Yank here, proud and myopic. Working on it. Thanks for the kind words. jds

Gavin said...

Sorry, that probably came out wrong. I guess the point is that arguing from "national values" and history does nothing much for those beyond the borders. Canadians, Aussies, Kiwis and Brits - all of whom share very similar values and culture - tend not to do this, but Americans do. Go figure.

DennisDiehl said...

Bert said:

"What puzzled me was why a person who claims to be a Christian (and maybe she didn’t) would pose such a question."

Thank you for you comments. This is raw emotion and pain we are talking about in the experience of a real person who really lost her ONLY daughter. That's why I believe when someone said "well God lost his ONLY son, he understands.." etc...she reacted to it by simply observing that "God got Jesus back over the weekend and my daughter is still dead." We are not talking theology here. We are talking about how her CHurch comforted her.
The analogy given her did not ring true nor did it encourage her.

I have also learned over years that when people suffer, sometimes just listening is best. Trite advice or observations, even from scripture, don't get past the eardrum. The simply are not comforting in the present reality.

I have told people who mean to encourage to not say "I understand" unless they have had the same tragedy in their lives. We can't understand. We sympathize, but we can't empathise unless we know the feeling.

This is my experience. Her reaction is one I have heard in various ways from every family who has suffered the loss of a child.

Thanks again!

Neo:

Job was also a problem for me too on many levels. It has bad science and draws conclusions about grief that seem strange at times. Mrs. Job also lost her things and family too and no comfort. She gets the role of cursing God and wanting to die. It's a woman's role I guess to be the bad reaction person.

I had a problem with "God" givng Job more children as if that replaced the lost ones. God treats the loss of dear indivuduals like the loss of marbles. "Well those are lost, but here are some new ones, so it's all good." It does not work that way with children and humans!

I also used to play the game in my head when God said "do you know where the snow comes from.." etc...I'd say , "In fact I do.." Ha

Questeruk said...

I'd like to endorse 'jdschroeder's' comments, with Gavin's 'filter'. But don't worry, we are used to that from those that ceded from King George! We can live with it.

We are all responsible before God for our beliefs and actions. That is the way it always should have been, but probably nearly all here did not always feel that way in the past.

The beliefs that I express here, right or wrong, are just that, what I believe, and I am not parroting what someone else once told me. A lot of the basis was indeed learnt while at WCG, but hopefully this has been reviewed, remodeled and refined over the years.

I think nearly all who post here have gone through the same process - although clearly ending up down a variety of differing paths.

DennisDiehl said...

JD said:

"Letting anyone else make one's own decisions, when one possesses the capacity to think on one's own, is running full-speed away from life itself -- because despite all of those we blame, the decisions we make are still our own, and we must accept some of that responsibility."

This is a bottom line truth in life that is true no matter how painful. It is a truth that those who are hurt often just can't accept. We have ten thousand reasons why we had to do what we were told (peer pressure, I'd get kicked out, I was intimidated, etc..") but we made our choice to be all that. I KNOW I did and I am sometimes reminded that "Dennis, you could not be here now, if you had not been there then." It's true.

Walking ahead is a controlled crash that we correct just before we fall on our faces. Some fall on their faces and refuse to get up.

JD also said:

"God needed the minds and hearts of a people steeped in freedom -- and that took 40 years of training, without distractions, vis-a-vie the leadership of God and Moses."

This I don't agree with. I do not see a God giving humans freedom in the OT. I see a God who need compliance and enforces it with threats of everything from disease to execution.

We have to remember that right after Moses came down the Mtn with the "thou shalt not kill" he had "every man to slay his neighbor and in that day about 3000 perished," because the people got afraid that after 40 days gone, Moses was dead in the desert and they were next, of starvation and thirst.

I just don't see individual freedom high on the list of OT tolerances.

DennisDiehl said...

PS

I want to thank everyone for all their comments on the posting. I appreciated the tone and input that was thoughtful and generally compassionate. It was nice to share thoughts and not throw them at each other with any idea that if we do it with enough rancor, others will wake up and thank us for our insite! :) I think we know well that doesn't go here!

I don't have the answers. I have the experiences and have seen many reactions to many things over the years, but I don't claim to know how it all should be.

I am not an atheist..I am cautious. I learned that from people who claimed to know who I should be and how I should live, and organizations where freedom of thought and personal decisions about many topics was not encouraged. It was often punished. I will never allow that to happen again.

My experience is that it is those that are the most wanting to know a God, purpose, plan, hope and solution to the human condition, that, when taken down a wrong path, become the most hurt, cautious and determined to keep looking.

Perhaps it is the lesson I agreed to experience in the pre-incarnation meeting held where all of us drank way too much and agreed to go through all this together!

amen

Neotherm said...

Dennnis:

You wrote: " had a problem with "God" givng Job more children as if that replaced the lost ones. God treats the loss of dear indivuduals like the loss of marbles."

This bothered me, too, until I recently understood something. At the end of the book, Job was give a double blessing. He had twice as many camels, for instance.

But his double blessing did not include 6 daughters and 14 sons for a grand total of 20. But was given 3 daughters and 7 sons, as he formerly had. From the human perspective they were dead but from God's perspective, they were still alive. So the intent here is that Job's double blessing included those children who already died and that he would be seeing them in the afterlife.

The real problem for Job's wife was how she had twenty children altogether. Especially, when the first set of ten were already grown. My guess is that Job had more than one wife.

-- Neo

Neotherm said...

Jdschroeder wrote: "But still, everyone who did things "because Mr. Armstrong said so" made a huge mistake, particularly in a free country."

I take exception to this. I have seen this argument before. That we have nobody to blame for our involvement in Armstrongism but ourselves. This does not factor in the heavy duty psychological structuring that led many people down a path to making the wrong decisions. Part of this psychology was in our lives before we made the acquaintance of HWA through the activity of the Dark Side. But most of it we encountered within the ranks of Armstrongism.

Earlier I cited a example where I smashed my thumb while working on a church project. I know this seemed small and inconsequential. But it is a minor example of a huge phenomenon called Braing Washing. When you live in a judgemental milieu and you often sing, without qualification or context, such things as "All he does prospers well, but the wicked are not so...", you have your view of reality shaped and your freedom to choose subverted.

-- Neo

DennisDiehl said...

Neo said:

"My guess is that Job had more than one wife."

My guess is that it's just a story and never really happened.

jdschroeder said...

May God forever bless those with courage and initiative to form their own opinions and to live within them. Whom else dare He trust?

Jordan Potter said...

Was Jesus good? He him self said he was not good. Only God was good.

No, He never denied that He was good. He merely asked, "Why do you call me good? There is none good but God." That is as much as denial that He is good as it is a denial that He is God.

Anonymous said...

Jordan said:

No, He never denied that He was good. He merely asked, "Why do you call me good? There is none good but God." That is as much as denial that He is good as it is a denial that He is God.

Well that certainly is a new spin to an old scripture.

"Why do you call me good? Well ok, you can but there is none good but God, and ummmm, me of course, but don't tell anyone."

DennisDiehl said...

Something helpful.

My son sent me this today as a bit of encouragement to dad. Leave it to him to have saved a haunting quote from my past for such a time as this.

“No matter how extreme a situation is it will change. It cannot continue forever. Thus, a great forest fire is always destined to burn itself out; a turbulent sea will always calm itself. Natural events always balance themselves by seeking their opposites, and this process of balance is at the heart of all healing. This process takes time. If an event is not great, the balancing required is slight. If the event is momentous, it takes days, weeks, years, even lifetimes for things to return to normal. Actually, without these small imbalances, there could be no movement in life. It is being kept off balance that keeps life changing.”

“How do you walk from here to there, by being balanced? You can’t move when your balanced. Because what is walking? Walking ahead is a controlled crash! It’s a constant catching of one’s self until you end up where you wanted to go. If I say “I will be balanced in my walking, I can’t move!” You have to get off balance to start the trip.”

“Total centering, total balance would only be sameness. All of life is a continual process of destruction and re-healing. That is why in an extreme situation, the wise are patient, and the patient are wise. Whether the situation is illness or your own anger, you should know that healing always follows upheaval. So we’re in a time of healing, that always follows a crisis. The opportunity in every crisis is to heal.”

Dennis Diehl
Feast of Tabernacles 1995

Of course the crisis healed in a way I had not anticipated at the time!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Diehl,

I truly have a hard time grasping why you find this such a difficult question. Jesus could have sinned, but didn't, but was tempted such, that He could have. Thankfully He didn't sin. IF HE HAD, GOD THE FATHER WOULD BE ALL ALONE.

The Father had to give Jesus to humanity with the understanding that He might lose His eternal companion.

None of have had to face, ahead of time, the possibility of losing an eternal companion who we are totally in agreement on all things.

Anonymous said...

Forgive me if I repeat someone else's comments, I didn't go back and read 150 plus posts...

But Jesus did not come to die for peoples sins. He didn't even die on the cross, he survived the crucifixion.

God can forgive sin anytime he wants to. There is no sacrifice for sin nor is there a need for a sacrifice for sin. All of this "stuff" is Roman mystery religion theology. Much of it is Mithraism.

Jesus was real. He came to reform Judaism. He was the son of God but he was not God.

He came and taught things that no else taught. But you can't find what he taught in the Canonical gospels. They have been too heavily edited. Nor can you find what he taught in Paul's writings. Paul never existed.

Christianity as we know it, including the Christianity practice by the Churches of God is a massive fraud.

Jesus came to teach people what was genuine in Judaism and to how to enter the Kingdom NOW.

We all have eternal life abiding in us. We just need to let it grow, i.e. let the Kingdom grow within us.

There is no lake of fire. We we are not to live our lives in fear and dread. That too is mystery religion, specifically to allow priests to control people.

But there is punishment and separation from God for those who choose to live badly.

Oh yes, the OT also is a massive fraud. Sorry. It is worse the New Testament. Jesus knew that, and that was part of his message.

But again; Jesus is real and salvation is real. It is just somewhat different then most of us think.

Have I lost you? probably...

ripley said...

Jesus could have sinned? Whaaaat?

Then Jesus wasn't God, because God cannot sin.

I mean, this gets really mind-numbing, the things people will declare with such certainty.

It's like Dan saying earlier that God gave his son "knowing he could fail." (Oops, I forgot the ALL CAPS.) And following up with the notion that Satan knew it, too.

Well, not having been there at the time, I prefer not to boast of such knowledge, but the inherent contradiction of a God-being having the potential to sin is enough to hearken the Jack Daniels from its cupboard, no?

Come on, people, stop reciting -- think!

byker bob said...

I think JD made some good balancing comments. But, I would like to point out that while parents most certainly made their own decisions regarding Armstrongism, many of their children were involuntarily dragged into the scam, and brainwashed at least for a while. These kids often had to endure the sadness of their immediate family turning their backs on beloved grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, simply because these people were not part of the cult.

The children were also deprived of proper medical care, and their education was negatively impacted by parents being impoverished through false teaching regarding tithing, and the shunning of college or university educations other than Ambassador.

If you spent about ten years in the cult with your parents, it was very difficult to break away! I know of some who went hog wild as they abandoned an oppressive value system and searched for a more balanced one to replace it. Some didn't make it.

I also believe it's a bit disingenuous to blame the worst abuses and worst cultic behavior on the enthusiastic young ministers whom HWA had personally taught. When things go bad in war, the General is held accountable. If there are renegade soldiers or officers, it's the General's responsibility to take corrective action.

Having said all of that, I believe most of us who post here are the freedom choir! We did take personal responsibility for our actions, took steps to "unbrainwash" ourselves, and have largely straightened out our lives. Unfortunately, bad religion is like a bad drug, in that it leaves dead spots in the minds of those who survive. The whole concept of "family" can be one of those dead spots, particularly if loved ones are still infected by cultic thought processes.

BB

mel said...

Dennis wrote:

"Of course the crisis healed in a way I had not anticipated at the time!"

Ha!
And about the getting off balance and falling down along one's way...
Reminds me of a quote which goes something like:
"It's not whether or not you will fall down, but rather, when you do fall, how gracefully you get back up again."

And Neotherm, thanks for taking issue with the idea that cult victims are totally responsible for their cult involvement.
There are psychological dynamics at work which tend to usurp a person's ability to exercise free will.
Steve Hassan, for instance, recognizes there is "choice" in such milieu; however, the choices are "bounded".

Armstrong wasn't about informed consent. He was a manipulative control freak.

Stingerski said...

Neotherm said :

I do believe that few people will receive salvation. But it is not because God cannot communicate his message. It is because most people will not hear it. In the current Western world, the message is more accessible than anyone could have ever imagined back in the first century.

And what, in your opinion, is that message, Neo? I've read the Bible from cover to cover dozens of times. And the only real message in there that I see that is worth discussing is, "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." Which I try to put into practice.

I do this, not because I am "religious" or think I am "saved." And I don't do this to please any Deity so that he won't cast me into some Hell. I do this because it's the best way to live. Call it karma. You go around pissing off people and bad things will come back on you.

And I suppose that the majority of people live this way, or try to. So I think you are way, way off base in your religious belief that only a tiny percentage of people will not end up in Hell -- if there even is such a place.

What surprises me more than anything is that nobody here even challenged you about this very depressing belief that you have. I mean, you've got most of us here in this Hell too! But you say you are among the saved? All I can say to that is, you've got one hell of a faith there! But it's very bad karma for you. Because it just may be that you will end up in this Hell and the rest of us will be watching you, on the outside looking in.

Questeruk said...

I find it rather frightening to find there are people who genuinely believe that their god is prepared to torture people for an eternity if they have not lived exactly the way this god wants them to for just a few short years in this life.

How comfortable would the few that were ‘saved’ feel, knowing most of their former loved ones were suffering agonies for an eternity, while they themselves rested in peace and tranquillity.

Fortunately that is not the way things really are. The real God says that He ‘has no pleasure in the death of the wicked’, and that ultimately He would have ‘all men to be saved’.

With free will, there will no doubt be a very few that will refuse God’s gift – but when a person genuinely understands the full impact of what is ‘on offer’, and there is no doubt in there minds, it’s going to be a rare individual that would turn it down.

Even 99% salvation may be failure.

Anonymous said...

I assumed that almost everyone who contributes to this blog:

a) understand we do not have an immortal soul

b)that 'hell' destroys what is in it

c) that only those who choose the second death will be there

d) my own view: the latter will die before being cast as rubbish into the fire. cf Ananias and Sophira (Ge'Henna - the Jerusalem rubbish dump)

Jordan Potter said...

"No, He never denied that He was good. He merely asked, 'Why do you call me good? There is none good but God.' That is as much as denial that He is good as it is a denial that He is God."

Well that certainly is a new spin to an old scripture.


No, actually it's a very old "spin. Actually, I believe, it's the earliest known "spin" on that scripture. I mean, really, do you think Christianity, which insists that Jesus is God and therefore sinless, would have accepted such a statement as divinely inspired if it really meant what you think it means? Christians see that text, not as a denial of His goodness, but as Jesus inviting his interlocutor to consider what it might mean if Jesus really is good as his interlocutor called him.

I assumed that almost everyone who contributes to this blog:

a) understand we do not have an immortal soul

b) that 'hell' destroys what is in it

c) that only those who choose the second death will be there


Well, that's what you get for assuming. Was there a good reason to believe that just Armstrongists or skeptics post comments here? But besides the Armstrongists and skeptics, apparently there are also, for example, orthodox Christians who comment here, and Christians generally believe that the soul is not annihilated at death.

d) my own view: the latter will die before being cast as rubbish into the fire. cf Ananias and Sophira (Ge'Henna - the Jerusalem rubbish dump)

No human being is rubbish, not even the incorrigibly wicked. We must be careful that the biblical imagery and metaphors for final damnation do not become an occasion for dehumanising anyone or looking upon them as though they were rubbish. Last century there was something called the Holocaust, in which millions of people were dehumanised so they could be killed and then cast as rubbish into the fire.

DennisDiehl said...

Annon:

And think just how even more relieved we'd be to realize that the Annanais and Sapphira story is a spoof on Peter and an attack on his so called leadership in the church according to Paul and Luke.

Peter, who said one thing (he'd never leave jesus) and did another, (fled and denied him) is taking two Christians who said they'd do one thing (give all) and did another (held back)

It's NT politics, not member killing. :)

Anonymous said...

With respect for Mr. Schroeder's opinion, and his very insightful words, I disagree, for much the same reason Byker Bob does; being born and raised in the church, I had no choice. I was thoroughly brought under the mind-control of cult, and truly did believe what was being offered to me was "the truth".

Even my decision to leave the church was made for me; if the changes had never happened, and Joe Tkach Sr. had never given the sermon from the mount, and status had remained quo---I never would have left the church.

I did not start making decisions on my own until much later in my life than I should have (and I learned the hard way the consequences of making such decisions in an uninformed manner). That is as a direct result of the church and its mind-control.

With respect, Mr. Schroeder's comments are correct. For those members who had the choice in the first place, our parents. We, unfortunately, were not quite so lucky in that regard.

Regarding "Hell", might I once again refer the interested reader to Pam Dewey's excellent and thorough biblical exegesis, What Do You Really Know About Hell? I found her insights to be quite correct.

As for the nature of the commenters here, I think it's interesting to watch as some commenters switch sides either at random, by choice, or through design (whether they take that design to be self-inflicted or supernatural), some vociferously deny everything but their own beliefs, some deny everything but their own unbeliefs, and others just deny there's a holy flamewar going on at all!

Smile, you're on Candid AW! :-D

Anonymous said...

'No human being is rubbish, not even the incorrigibly wicked.'

They are 'rubbish' only in the sense that having fully rejected God's mercy and His offer of salvation, they are without Spirit, they die - like A & S - and are burned up in Ge'Henna.\No 'everlasting torment'.

Corky said...

Anonymous said...
'No human being is rubbish, not even the incorrigibly wicked.'

They are 'rubbish' only in the sense that having fully rejected God's mercy and His offer of salvation, they are without Spirit, they die - like A & S - and are burned up in Ge'Henna.\No 'everlasting torment'.

And that offer of "salvation" is . . . what, exactly? To believe in far out, idiotic nonsense?

And, how is that supposed to make a person "righteous", exactly?

Anonymous said...

"They are 'rubbish' only in the sense that having fully rejected God's mercy and His offer of salvation, they are without Spirit, they die"

I disagree. One can have "spirit" without having god, a god, or multiple gods. The proof of the pudding is that we are having this discussion. The spark of human self-awareness can be rightly described as "spirit" in my experience.

Back on-topic, vis-a-vis the internal inconsistencies within the mythologies of the christ figure I came across this quote here.

"A humanism which fails to acknowledge, or which actively denies, the richness and continuing instrumentality of myths generated by the religious imagination seems to me both an impoverished and an old-fashioned humanism, whether it calls itself secular in an atheist sense or religious in the pared-down sense of the 1933 [Religious Humanist] manifesto.
------------------------
Thus are banished the age-long accumulations of religious writing, music, art, dance, architecture: the infinitely complex system of imaginative symbols by which human communities explored their own humanity in a mysterious, awesome, wonderful world; the long search for values which transcend the needs and desires of our own egos; the myths and legends, fables and fantasies, stories, songs, proverbs and exhortations of the Hebrew Bible and the “New Testament”, the Mahabharata, Rumi and Hafiz, the “dream time”, John Donne, William Blake, Gerard Manley Hopkins, T S Eliot, R S Thomas, Bach’s passion music, Mozart’s masses, Mahler’s Resurrection symphony…

Anonymous said...

I think we all understand that God did indeed allow his Son to be sacrificed. He died a tortured, excruciatingly slow death pouring out his blood. He experienced this process feeling the horrifying pain OR WORSE than those of our loved ones. Is God's plan to have Christ risen quickly (after three days) to be by his side forever to work with him forever for his purpose?

We are not in this part of his plan -to be sacrificed as Christ was. We, as humans are going to live and die the same as those down through the ages, to be resurrected at an appointed time.

Who are we to question the Creator of the universe and what is so hard about answering this??????

Anonymous said...

What is so hard about answering that is some of us believe that man has created "the creator of the universe", not the other way around.

A personalized deity that works for one person, in their own person, on their own time, without actively harming others is acceptable.

Unfortunately, religious dogmatic systems do not take this wider view, and insist that it's their way or the highway (and we all know which one that is, and what it's paved with).

Anonymous said...

' disagree. One can have "spirit" without having god, a god, or multiple gods. The proof of the pudding is that we are having this discussion. The spark of human self-awareness can be rightly described as "spirit" in my experience.'

I said Spirit - not spirit. All of us have spirit. At the very 'end' the only survivors will be those indwelt by the holy Spirit.

Anonymous said...

And what if my "spirit" and your (Holy) "Spirit" are really different concepts we each possess for the exact same thing?

Jared Olar said...

they die - like A & S - and are burned up in Ge'Henna.\No 'everlasting torment'.

Then what does a Bible-believer do with Rev. 20's "they shall be tormented day and night forever and ever"? To avoid the obvious interpretation, I used to read that verse while crossing my eyes and doing contortions and headstands -- but eventually I decided it was a lot less exhausting to just give those words their natural and obvious meaning.

Stingerski said...

Jared said :

Then what does a Bible-believer do with Rev. 20's "they shall be tormented day and night forever and ever"?

Jared, the obvious answer is to put your Bible & your Linus blanket away and quit believing in fairy tales. Only then will you be able to un-cross your eyes when reading such fables.

Anonymous said...

Reading everybody's comments makes me feel there is nothing to believe anymore. This seems to be the inevitable effect of all these "intelligent" posts.