What is Christianity?

With respect to some of the comments I’ve read to my posts that as a former Christians John and I are often told we never knew what Christianity was. In light of this claim, would some Christians care to give the posters here at DC a working definition of Christianity? Or is there really no standard definition believers can agree on?

Statements like “It’s a belief in God” or “It’s a belief in Jesus” are so vague that the character Satan could be a Christian too. And again, statements like “It’s trusting Jesus Christ for salvation.” fails too in that hundreds of denominations who believe this attack one another as false religions (some weird oxymoron isn‘t it?).

A case in point:

A so called “Christian” commenter here at DC who goes by the name Jason tells me there are no righteous dead in Heaven be they Enoch, Elijah, or Moses, neither are there any wicked / unsaved dead in Hell, nor is there any Great White Throne Judgment where the lost or cast into a Lake of Fire.

If Jason can deny clear orthodox Biblical teachings and still be a Christian, exactly how much of the Bible can one deny and still be “saved” or salvation just a subjective term that can have over 20,000 sectarian or denominational meanings which make it basically meaningless?

Jason has stressed in comments to my posts that the “saved” or “righteous” dead or just like the “lost” or “unsaved” dead; in their graves. So be you Christian or atheist, your fate at death is the grave.

By rejecting historical orthodox dogma as traditional historical Christianity has always felt the Bible clearly teaches, is Jason a Christian while John and I never were?

In short:

A. What makes one a Christian?

B. How much of the Bible can one deny and still be a Christian?

C. What is the difference between historical orthodox doctrinal denial and Biblical denial?

All comments welcomed.

106 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yet another big reason to view Christianity skeptically (or almost any other religion, for that matter). Not to mention the lack of any rigorous and yet potentially widespread standard for determining which, if any, of the denominations could be more correct.

James F. McGrath said...

I think that the questions at the end grant too much to the fundamentalists' dishonest claims about the Bible. If being a Christian means believing and practicing everything that the Bible says, then there are no Christians, and the matter is settled. But you cannot simply grant those who (dishonestly) claim to be Biblical literalists the status of the more obvious definition of "Christian". To do so simply encourages their dishonesty and self deception.

Rick said...

Harry,
For someone who was once "licensed to preach", it never ceases to amaze me how little of the Faith the group of "ex-apologists" here seem to understand. Could these be fraudulent claims of your history?

A. A Christian is someone who accepts and claims Jesus Christ as their LORD and as their savior. It requires accepting Christ for who He is; the promised Messiah, the lamb of God, who justifies us before God by His blood, our only hope for salvation. To understand what that means, we have the Bible.

B/C. A Christian is not saved by doctrine, nor by any work; only by the grace of Christ. However doctrine is relevant for the important works of evangelism and apologetics. As a fundamentalist, young-Earth creationist myself, I believe the Bible to be inerrant in its original texts, and that it is indeed the Word of God Almighty. As such, it is the presuppositional source of Truth against which the truthfullness of all other knowledge is judged. Therefore the term "Biblical denial" is itself an oxymoron, and so your questions B/C are nonsensical to me.

I hope that helps clear up your curiousity.

Anonymous said...

Rick, for someone who claims to be "amazed" at how little understanding there seems to be, I'm rather amazed that you're making the same vague statements that were criticized here.

Harry McCall said...

Professor McGraff, thanks for the comment and very interesting video. You make an excellent point about Jesus’ demand to sell all property to be his disciple.

Would anyone such as Rick and Jason care to respond?

The question is often asked, why do we at DC spent so much time discussing fundamentalist / Bible literalist positions?

Well jus look at the comments from Rich! One quickly sees exactly what he thinks Christianity is and his second comment point would exclude all Catholics and Orthodox’s Christians (and, I might add, the very reason they would also claim he is not a Christian).

Notice how simple cut and dry Rick has it down. It is so simple he wonders why anyone who ever believed this could be anything other than a TRUE Christian forever!

Plus, so far, I noticed Jason has not peddled his objections to what we at DC consider historical Christianity as of yet. Jason strongly believes (according to his blog) that only the Christadelphians are Christ’s elect.

Finally, Christianity seems to be like our children, though most everyone has them, we all think ours are special and really smarter and better than all the others.

For me, Christianity is simply a moral and ethical mental exercise where one is to excepted to interpret events correctly. I one does so positively one builds faith. If one does not, one can destroy not only his faith, but that of others.

In my definition, Jesus and the Bible are totally optional.

david said...

A related series of articles appeared recently over at Parchment and Pen

Anonymous said...

Dr. McGrath is right. Everyone interprets the Bible, even translators of it. The use of the word "literal" is an odd word subject to deeper analysis. If I say on my way out of a room to the person behind me, "hit the light," the literal interpretation of my words becomes the correct interpretation. And this depends on the circumstances, context, and genre of my speech (poem, song, sarcasm, humor, etc).

As a student of the Bible for decades I think I have a fairly correct understanding of it, you see. With regard to Jesus's demand to sell everything and give to the poor, for instance, the correct understanding of what he said in it's original context best fits the view that Jesus was an apocalyptic doomsday prophet. "The world is coming to an end. The kingdom is about to appear around the corner. You will not need any possessions in the kingdom." The problem is that the kingdom did not appear as Jesus thought. That makes him a failed doomsday prophet, and we've seen many of them come and go, complete with explanations and reinterpretations of the failed events and prophecies.

Jason said...

Harry,

The reason I'm not responding to this is because there's nothing to respond to. I have no problem with Rick's answer and I don't really care if you do.

Dillie-O said...

For me, I've always looked to the Nicene Creed.

ahswan said...

John, for that matter, everyone interprets everything; language is essentially a coding/decoding exercise. Problems arise when those who try to decode language don't understand - or don't care - how it was originally encoded.

I don't agree with your "doomsday prophet" idea, although Jesus did prophesy about the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple (which may be what he was referring to, rather than an end of the world scenario).

As to the question of who is a Christian, while we can point to various creeds, etc., I think Paul makes the most concise definition in Romans 10:9: "if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Now, there are some other points implied here, such as the need to believe that Jesus was who he said he was as opposed to the Mormon-invented Jesus, but we can at least start with Romans 10:9.

Rick said...

So.... I've somehow managed to provide a "vague" and "simple cut and dry" answer at the same time?
Perhaps it is the interpretation of atheists that is vague and subjective? I trust you will clarify this paradox, Harry.

But I watched your video, James. I will pray for you, as the overwhelming poverty of your spirit was so evident in your composure. I don't wish to argue with you.

I will argue John's position, however. Why, John, do you think Jesus was ONLY talking about physical possessions in this context of Luke 14:25-35? Does that make any sense of building a tower, or going to war?

I would posit, John, that you are indeed one who laid the foundation for a tower, but found the cost to complete it too high, just as Jesus had warned.

D Rob said...

Being a Christian is NOT believing and practicing everything that the Bible says - as McGrath stated.

A Christian is one who believes in Jesus Christ and has received the Holy Spirit, sent from God, to dwell within that person.

Keith said...

A Christian is one who believes in Jesus Christ and has received the Holy Spirit, sent from God, to dwell within that person.

Thanks for clearing this up. Christians are now free from having to adhere to/observe the 'Word of God'

Nice :)

D Rob said...

Keith - Being a Christian is not performance based - it's faith based.

The performance ("adhering to the Word of God") should follow the faith.

Lvka said...

"What is Christianity?"

Would this answer Your question? :-(

eheffa said...

Rick,

I suppose that when empirical evidence or the brute facts of the universe conflict with your young earth creationism and your cherry-picked synthesis of assorted biblical scriptures used to derive your theology, you choose your arbitrary Biblical interpretation as the "Truth" every time. Have you ever considered the possibility that you could be wrong & that you are not seeking truth but mere delusionary comfort instead? How would you even know if your world view is correct? What if God was more interested in whether you sought the Truth instead of your local version of orthodoxy?

I was once like you with the same answers to questions like this. But when you look closely with an open mind you may discover that it's nothing more than a lot of pious & archaic wishful thinking.

If only the universe were so simple...

-evan

Harry McCall said...

Jason: “I have no problem with Rick's answer and I don't really care if you do.”

Jason, it’s so odd that your radical theology of Christadelphianism (as opposed to traditional historical theology) is exactly what Rick would attack if he only knew how your sect rejects basic concepts of the Bible.

Rick, although Jason wants to avoid a conflict with you, just click on his name and read though is Christadelphian blog site theology. Christadelphians have more in common with Jehovah
Witnesses than your Protestant theology. So, Rick, is Jason a true Christian? I’ve point out some of his odd ball theology in the post.

Go ahead Jason and run like a roach when the light is turned on! You’ve done it before, so why change.

Harry McCall said...

d rob: In that Mormons had done just this, are they Christians???

D Rob said...

Harry - If they have they believed in Christ and posses the Holy Spirit within themselves - then they are one with Christ.

Those who have the Spirit do not have some physical indicator that the Spirit is in them - or they are not part of some certain group.

Jason said...

Harry,

I have nothing to run from. I have no problem with the answers given here by various individuals about what Christianity is nor am I at all bothered by your childish tactic of pitting Christian against Christian. I'm not interested in playing your games. You're an unbeliever. I really couldn't care less about what you think about Christianity, the God we worship or my personal beliefs.

Harry McCall said...

d rob:

The Church of God clearly states one does not have the Holy Spirit unless you have experienced a second work: Speaking in Tongues.

Have you spoke in tongues yet?

Harry McCall said...

Jason, you claim I'm a "unbeliever". What proof of beleive do you have?

You have no more proof of what you claim you beleive in that I do.

You have is idle words! All you have and believe in are symbols…A book called the Bible and some religious cult you fellowship with.

The Blind leading the blind!

Get real Jason!

D Rob said...

Harry - While tongues did occur in a few instances, it was not the norm them, and it is not not now.

Tongues is not taught (to the churches in the epistles) to be an indication that one has the Spirit. 1 Cor. 12 states strongly implies that not all speak in tongues.

Steven Bently said...

Christianity is a stated position, invented by mentally ill people to incite hatred towards other humans that do not live and act the same way that they would like to think how others should live and act.

By taking a stance of being a Christian, they can get immediate forgiveness 24/7 for their being judgemental and their internal hatred towards others.

Christianity taught today is exactly opposite of what Jesus supposedly taught 2000 years ago.

Christianity being taught today in the 21st century, serves absolutely no usefull purpose, it is just totally self-righteous ignorance, to spew hatred and discontentment towards other human beings.

oli said...

Rick, aren't you somewhat embarassed to actually tell people you are a young earth creationist?

I always picture young earth creationists as rather backward, mountain dwelling folk, cut off from society and education in general and it deeply surprises me when clearly literate people with access to the internet claim this viewpoint.

Just to clarify, by young earth do you mean an age of 6000 odd years? I've seen YEC's who say 10,000 too so i'd like to be clear on this.

If so then here is a list of things that happened before the world was (apparently) created:

Domestication of the dog, sheep, goat, pig and cattle
Byzantium (or rather, a settlement on the same site)
Agriculture
Archery
Pottery
Irrigation
The Ubaid civilization
The Danubian Culture

And thats just human stuff, we could go on, for instance
Wooly Mammoths
Dinosaurs
Trilobytes

To agree with a 6000 year old world you have to totally reject not just certain scientific theories but entire fields of science. Paleontology, Geology, Ancient Archaeology, Cosmology, the list goes on.

Of course you won't, indeed can't be shaken by any of this, you've constructed a little whirly-gig in your head that blocks out the complete impossibility of your position, you blind yourself deliberately by reading and believing a single, ancient, poorly translated book.

You really should be embarrassed by your YEC views, with the informationa available to you you have no excuse for such blind ignorance.

You do make a perfect demonstration though of why i am actively an atheist and why i do speak out against faith. That people such as yourself (and i'm going to assume a certain level of intelligence and education, your writing betrays none of the usual giveaways of actual stupidity) can hold such views in this day and age is, I believe, profoundly dangerous. You believe in fantasy as if it is real. You might try and infect others with such sloppy thinking. You may succeed. You get to vote, despite your inability to tell fantasy from reality. Thats dangerous.

I don't mean to attack you personally with all this, i really don't. Its your beliefs that i find abominable. I really do recommend that you stop reading the nonsense that you have been reading and educate yourself properly. Learn geology for a start. Learn cosmology. Don't just read about them. Get your self a telescope and a hammer and go find out stuff about reality. Please.

Rick said...

Steven:"Christianity is a stated position, invented by mentally ill people to incite hatred towards other humans that do not live and act the same way that they would like to think how others should live and act."

You see, this is a good example of how you have been deceived. You don't really know any Christians, do you?

From my perspective, it seems to be secular humanist groups that scatter like roaches in the light; whenever real human need is presented to them. Where were the Humanist Society, Unitarian, or the ACLU aid stations when Katrina hit? In fact, where was our "secular" government? Christian groups were the 1st on the scene to render aid; and after all the publicity shots were taken by politicians, Christian groups were the ones to stay behind to continue aid after all others left. How many refugees did you take into your home, Steven, to personally provide shelter to a family that had lost everything? Would you even dare to take strangers into you home?

You are very decieved, my friend.

Rick said...

Evan,
>"Have you ever considered the possibility that you could be wrong ...?"

All the time. I fully acknowledge that I will never fully grasp God's infinite Truth. If I could, then God would not truly be an infinite, trancendant God, and unworthy of my worship. I've been a Christian for just over 6 years now, but in my journey there are some things that I am fully confident about. First and foremost is that there is a God, and I am not Him. He has made Himself known to us, and the more I've learned, the more confident I've become that His Word is absolutely true.

>"What if God was more interested in whether you sought the Truth ...?"

Indeed. Jesus said "for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth." In fact, Jesus emphasized "truth" over 75 times in the Gospels. He had to "testify" because Truth was indeed on trial, so much so that Pilate had to ask "What is truth?" And so it is, even today, as prophesied by the Bible. But what I have found, in answer to Pilate's question, is that truth is that which reflects the reality of God and His nature.

At least you realize, evan, that truth is something outside yourself, so as to be capable of being "sought". Perhaps there is yet hope for you.

Harry McCall said...

Rick, you and Jason remind me of the movie with Jim Carey: Dumb and Dumber.

I understand you are a police officer. I hope you don’t incorporate the same mind set in an investigation as you do in believing the Bible at face value.

Mental faith has to be believable and not simply gullible.

Rick said...

Oli,

Ah, you have indeed touched on one of my passions. I love doing just the things you suggest. Do you do the same?

Regarding education, I do have a BSEE degree, and work as an engineer for a major networking equipment provider.

We can't address the entire YEC issue here, but perhaps 1 issue. You mention geology. Have you ever wondered why there are sedimentary rock deposits all over the world? Some megasequences span entire continents, and some even span across (today's) oceans as intercontinental, continuous layers. As an example, the Coconino Sandstone layer seen in the Grand Canyon extends over an area of about 200,000 square miles in SW USA. With an average thickness of 315 feet, that's over 11,000 cubic miles of sand. Interestingly, the source of that sand coincides with rock in the Apalachian mountains in NE USA.

Charles Lyles, who gave us "uniformatiarian geology", said "the present is the key to the past"; or, all geologic events have to be interpreted by current, observable processes (no cataclysmic events). This presuppasitional outlook directly led to the "millions" then "billions" of geologic years.

But tell me. What kind of geologic process that we observe today could transport 11,000 cubic miles of sand across thousands of miles, spread it out across 200,000 square miles, pulverizing the source mountains and transporting it fast enough that ONLY that sand is deposited in the Coconino layer?

I believe that only a flood of global proportions could do this, as written in the Bible, when God judged the evil of this world, sparing only Noah and his family.

D Rob said...

Oli - Just a note on the young vs. old earth theories.

No lineage can by evidence be traced back to the beginning of time. All there are is theories.

Whatever the view is - it is based on faith. Some have faith in Darwin. Your faith is in the scientists. Rick's faith in God. My faith is in God.

Heb. 11:3 - By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.

eheffa said...

Rick said:

"Indeed. Jesus said"

Exactly how do we have any confidence that a man named Jesus did say these things when the documentation of his sayings & deeds are so poor. Anonymous writings of an allegorical, evangelical nature are not history or biography.

The OT scriptures this Jesus character is described as having quoted have been shown by archeologists to be as unreliable in their history as they are in their science.

The whole package fails to pass any sort of careful scrutiny at multiple levels. If this is supposed to be the Word of God why is it so remarkably below even the most basic & minimal standards of human documentation? Does this ragged collection of stories authored by largely anonymous writers really look like the work of the same precise God who is supposed to have designed the intricacies of the human body?

-evan

Harry McCall said...

Well put, Evan!

If all Christians were forced to look at all the evidences (Original languages: how Christianity depended word changes in Greek from Hebrew and how early Hebrew used the polytheistic concepts adopted from their Canaanite neighbors to understand the gods /god), Christianity would loose members like a tire with a whole looses air.

In religion, faith and ignorance are what are really worshipped!

david said...

Not to be picky, but regardless of the original languages the proper English terms are lose and hole in the prior comment.

Harry McCall said...

Right you are David. Thanks!

Rick said...

d rob:"Your faith is in the scientists. "

Right you are. The perception and ideas of an atheist is usually upside down on virtually everything. Every humanist-espousing scientist has the virtue of a god, and every person espousing faith in God is accused of demonic motives. Exactly why would anyone think a scientist is immune to politics, profit-motive, or deception to get-ahead?

Take Charles Lyle, for example. Great Hero of geology. What were his academic credentials to preach geology? He was trained as a lawyer, that's all. And like most lawyers, Lyle was VERY interested in politics. Specifically, he was interested in reforming the English Parliment, giving it more power at the expense of the monarchy. Problem was, the monarchy was considered ordained by God. In Lyle's view, anything that could be used to discredit the Bible would thereby weaken the monarchy, enabling political agenda to be achieved. This is why his "Principles of Geology" was so adamently against ANY kind of catastrophic processes that could be associated with "Noah's flood".

If you think his politics did not influence his science, you are foolish.

Rick said...

Evan:"Exactly how do we have any confidence that a man named Jesus did say these things when the documentation of his sayings & deeds are so poor."

Again, this is further evidence that you so-called ex-apologists here are frauds; you know almost nothing about the Bible. The Bible is THE MOST heavily atested work of ancient literature known to man, by far, with over 24,000 copies of manuscripts. See
http://www.carm.org/questions/textualevidence.htm

Whether the Bible is a historical document or not, see:
http://www.carm.org/questions/trustbible.htm

david said...

Perhaps I am misunderstanding, but I would caution saying that the truth of the Bible is related to the number of manuscripts we have (5,735 Greek, the rest are translations in Coptic, Gothic, Syriac, and Latin).

The number of manuscripts does provide a broad platform upon which to do textual criticism, which means we can know reliably what the New Testament originally said, but again that in itself doesn't mean its true.

What the second link points out I agree with: by the standards of historiography the New Testament is on good historical grounds. Of course, as John has pointed out that may not be something to rest your faith on, but it does provide support.

eheffa said...

Rick,

I see that you have really done your homework (I am being more than a little facetious). An apologetic site that counts the hits & ignores the misses isn't going to give you much good information.

First of all, if this question interests you, you should try & read a little more widely & discover that not all of this is as cut & dried as this site you have referenced would have you believe.

Secondly, you might also recognize that the sheer number of copies of a document do nothing to attest to its veracity. (A thousand copies of a fictional midrash are still fictional.)

Thirdly, even Christian scholars such as Bruce Metzger will acknowledge the existence of many scribal interpolations & errors in copying. Who can say that in the intense dogma battles of the second century that the primary documents survived intact? Who would you trust? Marcion? Eusebius - a self confessed forger who felt that fabrication for the sake of the kingdom was acceptable?

As to the date of writing of these supposed eyewitness tetimonials, these dates are not nearly as secure or clearcut as this author would have you believe. Don't you find it a little surprising that no other authors reference or even refer to the "gospels" until mid to late second century despite their intense interest in the most minute details of the faith?

I won't do your homework for you. If you can't see that Young Earth Creationism has been proven by a landslide of empiric evidence to be a bankrupt & totally implausible hypothesis, then I suppose that the more nuanced & challenging question of the authorship & veracity of the NT documents may be beyond your ability actually question the dubious authority to which you cling.

I was once a dedicated believer too. (And a YEC in my youth). I knew my Bible intimatley & it was extremely difficult to be honest about these issues & ask honest questions. After all, the God who loves me might just condemn me to hell (for eternity) if I got the answers to these questions wrong. Looking at all this with an open mind is difficult, (You must read & do your homework and be skeptical of all your sources; esp the ability for Christians to lie & distort the evidence) but when you do, it may not take you long to recognize that the Christian faith has all the hallmarks of a man-made dogma; a religion just like all other religions.

Good luck in your search for the truth.

-evan

david said...

eheffa:

Who can say that in the intense dogma battles of the second century that the primary documents survived intact?

I think the wide geographical dispersion of the text coupled with rapid copying would render intentional "doctrinal edits" very difficult.

As Dan Wallace points out in his debate with Bart Ehrman (you should definitely check it out if you're interested in textual criticism), you can't have it both ways. If intentional theological changes were made in the early second century, they did a whole lot of traveling to make sure their edition became the exemplar for future copies.

Rick said...

David:"which means we can know reliably what the New Testament originally said, but again that in itself doesn't mean its true."

So then what do we have? We have the records of multiple eye-witness testimonies, written during the lifetimes of tens of thousands of witnesses to the life of Jesus, which was in fullfillment of specific prophesies about his birth, acts, death, and resurrection. And what did these chief witnesses gain for their testimony? Almost to the man, these that should absolutely have known whether Jesus was Truth or not, a painful death that could have been avoided simply by confessing "it's not true". But instead, each went to his death knowing and proclaiming "it is True, He is the risen son of God."

We have a remarkable book that records a remarkable set of lives, historically accurate by every attempted measure. Where are these archeologists that have shown it to be inaccurate, Evan? What evidence do you have?

eheffa said...

David,

I am not a scholar so I do not know this subject as intimately as I should perhaps, but I have read a fair bit around these issues. It would seem to me that the data is argued over from very different presuppositions and the result is that unlike many questions of ancient literature, where scholars are content to posit a range of dates of authorship etc, the NT documents provoke a much more partisan response. I am impressed that the Apologists' claims for the high quality of the early documentary support for the NT canon are not supported by the evidence & are simply little more than statements of faith.

At the risk of provoking you by using a hostile reference, (That is not my intent but I can't find another ready reference at the moment), here is an interesting analysis of this great wealth of manuscripts Christians look to as evidence of authenticity & reliability:

From www.caseagainstfaith.com

www.caseagainstfaith.com/articles
/therealjesus_files/image001.gif

(To view, remove spaces after "/articles")

You can see that the thousands of documents arise much later...

From that site:

The first thing to note is that the number of manuscripts is very few until nearly a /thousand/ years after the books were written! Granted, Aland's chart shows only two manuscripts in the second century, while Wallace indicates that there are "ten to fifteen" now that date to the second century. I'll take his word on that. But even so, it is still a fact that the vast majority of those "25,000 to 30,000 handwritten copies of the New Testament" Wallace crows about
date to a thousand years or more after the fact. Further, his claims about the manuscripts not being fragmentary are also misleading. He mentions that there are at least a few manuscripts that are more than fragmentary that date within the first few centuries. Yes, there are indeed /a few/ such manuscripts. But the majority of the manuscripts dating to the first millennium are indeed fragmentary. For example, the oldest manuscript that exists is a fragment of John, dated to about the year 125, which contains only a few verses! Not exactly what the reader might have gathered from Wallace's response.


The assertion that Christianity is somehow supported by good quality early documentation is not borne out by the evidence. They are polemical religious documents which are not refernced by any third parties until the mid second century at the earliest (Marcion) & not unequivocally until the late second, early third century.

Anyways, if you think that you see the hand of god working in this material, I must respectfully disagree - it looks like a man-made construct to me.

-evan

Tyler said...

Dillie-o summed it up a long time ago. The least common denominator of the Christian faith is the Nicene Creed: http://www.creeds.net/ancient/nicene.htm

Not that all Christians confess the Nicene Creed, but all Christians would agree with the content.

david said...

eheffa,

Clement in 95 AD predates Marcion quote a bit.

Secondly, you should really look into textual criticism. That site is the atheist equivalent of Lee Strobel. The dozen or so first century papryi are very valuable, but textual criticism is much broader than simply looking at the earliest reading.

This is a good introduction

eheffa said...

Yes David,

I apologized for the quality of my link but it demonstrates a useful factoid graphically.

I have Metzger's book on my desk & I have read it. I don't think it changes my opinion re: the earliest source documents & their deficiencies.

-evan

david said...

What deficiencies do you find in the early papryi?

Steven Bently said...

rick:

"From my perspective, it seems to be secular humanist groups that scatter like roaches in the light; whenever real human need is presented to them. Where were the Humanist Society, Unitarian, or the ACLU aid stations when Katrina hit? In fact, where was our "secular" government? Christian groups were the 1st on the scene to render aid; and after all the publicity shots were taken by politicians, Christian groups were the ones to stay behind to continue aid after all others left. How many refugees did you take into your home, Steven, to personally provide shelter to a family that had lost everything? Would you even dare to take strangers into you home?

You are very decieved, my friend."


Why would any christian groups run down to help the Katrina victims, when it was your imaginary Bible-God that allowed the huricane to come on to land in the first place.

Apparently your imaginary Bible-God has an personal vendetta against people who live along coast lines, and then you buffoons run down there and display your alms before men and try to convert and convence as many downtrodden as you can to bow down and worship the very same vendictive God that the Bible say's allowed the tragedy to happen to begin with.

If you, and the majority of xtians really and truely believed 100% in your mind in a god that had control of every event that took place here on earth, you would not take it on yourself to intervene with your gods' will and his/hers/it's mighty wrath and pretend to apologize for your gods' useless and unnecessary inhumane actions.

I wonder if you and your xtian group went down there to New Orleans and told the victims to not thank you, nor your group for your help, but to thank your imaginary God for the wrath and turmoil, death and hardship and destruction that his/hers/it's wrath has cast upon the people that he so dearly loves?

The spotlight was not held towards your imaginary gods' wrath, but it was pointed towards your gods goody goody two shoes good samaritans, his holy saintly representives, to mop-up
your gods mess and to apologize for him, and then you have the gall to thank your imaginary god for all he's done.

david said...

Steven:

If I write a book on atheism, could I quote you per chance?

Thanks,
David

Steven Bently said...

to david:

In short...NO!

I'm wondering what someone at the age of 24, whom just recently was weaned from his mother milk, thinks they have to contribute to this blog.

I'll have you know that, most of us here have spouted your typical apologetics and wavering and jumping through verbal gymnastics to make excuses for your imaginary do-nothing bible god, in the past at about your very age.

Also unbenounced to you, every person born on this earth is born without a precurser knowledge of any gods, how to walk and your current geographacial language, all of these things you were taught as a result of indoctrination by other (humans).

The Bible god is not a known universal truth, the bible was written by men, very ignorant and uneducated men, sheep herders and opium dope smokers.

If the Bible and it's god were a (known) universal truth there would not be any other religious books written. There would be no need for them.

Thus you come along and claim that you have been shown the kernel of universal truth.

I suggest you stick to writing a book about something you know something about, perhaps a coloring book since you prefer to view the world through god colored glasses and make excuses for your imaginary false bible god.

I'll burn a goat for you!

Harry McCall said...

David, the ancient Canaanite religion at Ugarit carries more textual proof than any so- called early textual proofs of the New Testament / Christianity.

Since the cuneiform script of, not only Ugarit, but those written in Akkadian, were written on wet clay tablets and then baked in a oven to a brick like hardness which makes them almost indestructible, we have factual proof these texts, which were written at the time the gods and events happen, do prove their credibility.

Plus, Hebrew in now known to be a sub-language of Canaanite (Northwest Semitic), and since the Israelites used polytheistic concepts (In the beginning GodS (plural) created the heavens and the earth.), the Bible carries with it the infection of the many religions and gods out of which it was born.

Thus, if it’s an original autograph text which makes a religion true, then neither Judaism nor Christianity can hold a candle to the brick hardened tens of thousands of cuneiform texts that Israel’s neighbors left us.

Now, all I can objectively say is, if the Judao-Christian God is really “All Knowing” why did he not think of this method of preserving text? (Oh, that’s right! He wanted us to have faith; as if none of the other religions wanted this also.)

Rick said...

Steven:"Apparently your imaginary Bible-God has an personal vendetta against people who live along coast lines, and then you buffoons run down there and display your alms before men ..."

Wow, Steven, you seem to have it all figured out why I should not offer anyone aid, mercy, or comfort. But tell me, what is your excuse? Why were you not there to straighten out all hapless victims being led astray by the evil Christians? Why were you not there to provide aid, comfort, and mercy? What possible reason can you give, being clean and pure from the blemishes of religion?

Could it be that you are just so wrapped up in yourself, that you just don't give a flip about other people? At least not enough to inconvenience yourself with your time and effort and, I imagine, especially not enough to do anything that might risk your own personal safety.

You are a very angry man, Steven. Don't believe the urban-legends out there that "anger makes you strong". That's a lie. Anger will consume you, eventually leaving you an empty shell of a man. The only force capable of truly quenching anger is forgiveness. You should spend more time thinking about how you might achieve that. Of course, I have a suggestion: turn to Christ.

Rick said...

Evan:"Who would you trust?" "here is an interesting analysis .... From www.caseagainstfaith.com"

I find it interesting you would raise this question, then offer as "evidence" a link to an anonymous websight that provides no scholarly references. Really, this is right there with the "because I said so" arguments.

Rick said...

Oli? Are you there?

Does no one here have a rebuttal for my assertion that the Coconino Sandstone layer was deposited by a global flood?

Someone really needs to explain to me how this could have happened by geologic processes we see today, per Lyle's assertion. My young-Earth creationist confidence is growing....

eheffa said...

David,

What deficiencies do you find in the early papryi?

I'm not sure if I am understanding your question completely. If you are asking me to comment on the 'quality' of the earliest papyrus fragments, I cannot speak to this question. I have no expertise in this. There are, by the way no extant First century papyri of the canonical writings.

But, if you are asking me if there is good documentation to substantiate a belief that Jesus of Nazareth was a real person who said & did what the Gospels claim he did and that the writers of the letters of Paul had an intimate knowledge & experience of this same Jesus, I will say "No".

Why "No"? (I'll try to summarize my tentative conclusions from my explorations of this question. I cannot say that I have this completely nailed down as I still explore this question.)

The Canonical Gospels were clearly NOT written by eyewitnesses or contemporaries of the subject of their stories. Mark was written in a midrashic allegorical style utilizing OT LXX scripture as a guide to the settings & plot line. It is not primarily a biographical writing. It would seem that Luke & Matthew had a copy of Mark on their desk as they wrote & Luke probably had a copy of Josephus as well. The hypothetical Q document may have also been available to them, but I'm not personally convinced of this (yet). The Writer of John seemingly had access to Mark but was already late in terms of the controversies he addressed & is the most gnostic in flavor.

The traditional datings of the Gospels' authorship are almost all predicated on the assumption that the writers were contemporaries of their subject but when one looks for evidence of other authors, hostile or sympathetic to substantiate this claim, there is a significant silence until the mid to late second century. How is it that the Gospel writers can plagiarize Mark but no one else seems to quote or know of these Gospels until Marcion or later?

(As far as I know & I have not explored this thoroughly, dating 1 Clement is not that hard & fast & although he seems to know Hebrews & 1 Corinthians his Jesus sayings do not correlate to any direct passages of the Gospels. His very catholic church structure suggests a later time as well. Herman Dettering makes a case for a later dating than 95CE & I think this could have some validity but I have to be agnostic about this question of Clement.)

The book of Acts similarly was likely written quite a bit later than Christian scholars have maintained ~ 115 CE (See Pervo: Dating Acts.) There are too many anachronisms & details that betray fabrication & a need to reconcile factional issues rather than a straight forward account of what "happened" for Acts to be considered a "history" of the early Church.

Ultimately, the problem with the early documentation of the Jesus character and the early Church is that it is all of the same remote polemical character. Hero stories in an historical setting to give an air of verisimilitude but lacking any real first hand knowledge of the events or characters. (Try contrasting these to the biographical details we have of Socrates or Plato. Stories of which have have only much later copies but which in content betray an intimate first-hand knowledge of the subject. These are believable biographical details.)

These gospel writings seem to be acknowledged & recognized by other writers & the early church in the late second century but not before. The papyri & documentation we have start to appear around this same time. I think these details point to the creation of the Jesus books in the very late first and early to mid second century. At the very least, their history is shrouded in mystery & anachronism and appear to rule out the possibility that these stories were written by contemporaries of the subjects.

Don't you think that is unacceptable for the only documentation of the single most important event of human history? If you were God, would you be content with the quality of how your primary salvific act of all time has been documented & preserved? I wouldn't be. I think it points to a flawed human authorship of a distinctly cultic flavor.

I am open to correction in all of this but I am not impressed that the NT is the word of any higher being.

-evan

eheffa said...

Rick,
Evan:"Who would you trust?" "here is an interesting analysis .... From www.caseagainstfaith.com"

I will respond more fully later. I don't expect that this website has the final answer on anything I only used that graphic from that weblink to illustrate the lack of documentation form anything prior to the second century, not as an authoritative reference. I used it only because that is what I had on hand. I thought the quote was also worth keeping as it was relevant to the discussion at hand. He was not stating anything that others have not also supported. Bart Ehrman & others can provide you with the same information in a more authoritative form but I don't have an alternative weblink at hand to illustrate the same point.

I can't spare the time right now to respond more fully.

More later.

-evan

david said...

If the new testament autographa were written on tablets, how easy to travel and transmit would that be? Aren't you glad Christians popularized the codex, given how useful the book format is?

Autographs don't make a religion true, as I already said:

The number of manuscripts does provide a broad platform upon which to do textual criticism, which means we can know reliably what the New Testament originally said, but again that in itself doesn't mean its true.

david said...

steven: I'm wondering what someone at the age of 24, whom just recently was weaned from his mother milk, thinks they have to contribute to this blog.

Apparently all you have to offer is asperse blabber, so I wager that regardless of age (thanks for checking my profile) it is obvious who is being contributive and who is being derisive.

david said...

eheffa,

My question is addressing whatever you meant when you said this:

I have Metzger's book on my desk & I have read it. I don't think it changes my opinion re: the earliest source documents & their deficiencies.

eheffa said...

Rick,

I am not a geologist but I think it's time for you consider the possibility that your young earth creationism is a delusion with no connection to reality or science. If not for that holy science manual written by the anonymous authors of the Pentateuch, you would not hold to this ridiculous hypothesis of a 10,000 year old earth. A careful examination of the empirical evidence would never have led anyone to seriously posit a world-wide deluge to account for the sedimentary strata on this planet. Only an a priori desperate commitment to prove Genesis to be true, would lead to you to such a convoluted & contrived conclusion. I used to subscribe to these YEC magazines in my youth & remember the desperate need to interpret the data in the light of Genesis. (If you even let a glimmer of doubt to start to eat at you, you could be deceived by the evil one & lose your soul...what ever you do, don't allow yourself to really consider the opposing opinions to have any merit worth investigating.)

Here are just a couple of quick & dirty links for you to ponder.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coconino_Sandstone

http://www.answersincreation.org/coconino.htm

I know, not hard geological references but the second one is from old earth creationists who still try & support the idea of an inerrant bible. Even they can see how flawed & dishonest the science behind the YEC's Coconino inundation really is...

You seem willing to dismiss mainstream geological science because they are a bunch of godless atheists motivated by their hatred for the truth but unlike the YEC crowd, they are actually handling the data with integrity. Geologists have long ago dismissed the Genesis version of the events because the evidence utterly contradicts the deluvian hypothesis. No-one in the scientific community holds Lyle or Darwin for that matter in such high regard that they would suppress data or limit their theories to avoid contradicting them. This is not a personality cult like Christianity; it's something called empiric science. It is not respect for Lyle that keeps the geologists believing in an old earth, it's the data.

If you can't consider the possibility that you may have been deceived then you'll never discover the truth of anything.

-evan

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

Rick said:
We have a remarkable book that records a remarkable set of lives, historically accurate by every attempted measure. Where are these archeologists that have shown it to be inaccurate, Evan? What evidence do you have?

I was raised, like you perhaps, to understand that archeologists had overwhelming evidence of the veracity & reliability of the Bible's historical accounts. WF Albright & Co. championed the cause as they showed all those skeptics that the Hittites really lived & Solomon built palatial stables... I can remember pouring over all the B&W pictures of the holy land digs in my Thompson Chain Reference KJV Bible. ( I used to take it to school with me in High School to prove that I wasn't ashamed of the Gospel but I digress.) I was thoroughly convinced that archaeology was universally affirming the Biblical account of Israel's history.

It's an important question: Does archeology support the Biblical version of history?

The answer seems to be a resounding: No. Not only does it not support the Biblical version but it positively contradicts the Biblical accounts. This is not just an argument from silence. Abrahams' camels weren't domesticated until 1000 years after he was supposed to have travelled from Ur. There is no evidence for the Exodus, no evidence of the Israelites in Egyptian captivity. Jericho was uninhabited when Joshua is supposed to have shouted down the walls. Jerusalem, during the supposed reign of David was little more than a chieftain's village. Solomon's temple & other magnificent structures do not seem to have existed in the place we call Jerusalem. On & on it goes.

It would seem that much of the OT is a collection of fables & legendary tales unsupported & contradicted by archaeological evidence.

For a very good read & devastating case against OT historicity see;
The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts

http://www.amazon.com/Bible-Unearthed-Archaeologys-Vision-Ancient/dp/0684869136/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1224696287&sr=1-1

The authors know their stuff & reference their sources carefully. This is no Bible bashing polemic. They seem to have soberly looked at the evidence & derived their conclusions from that rather than a blind loyalty to the sacred text. As Jewish scholars they profess a love for the OT stories they debunk but have enough integrity to call a spade a spade and declare them merely legendary when the evidence demands that conclusion.

I strongly recommend you read this book if you think the Biblical accounts are to be believed & if you think that the archaeology matters.

-evan

Rick said...

Evan:"Here are just a couple of quick & dirty links for you to ponder.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coconino_Sandstone
http://www.answersincreation.org/coconino.htm"

Yes, I'm familiar with both these sites. The wiki article doesn't really say much, does it? But again, getting back to your original question "who do you trust", should it be a site where anybody can pretty much anonymously post/change anything? Don't get me wrong, I sometimes find wikiP useful, but as a site to get "gospel truth"? No, I think not.

As for answersincreation, they lost all credibility with me a long time ago. Again, who writes their articles? We don't know. But their own internal logical errors are so egregious that anyone with a brain would see they're peddling BS. One laughable assertion was an article that said Stoke's Law _proved_ a global flood could not deposit the sedimentary rocks we see, as the waters would be moving too fast for _any_ settlement (according to Stoke's Law). Well, that would apply if the water were continually flowing upward to the sky, but I doubt that was the case.

david said...

eheffa,

I will respond generally since debates over the dating of manuscripts and the gospels tend to be quite lengthy.

Try to be more balanced. Don't agree with something just because it supports your position. The stuff you appear to be reading is a bit extreme. Have you read any scholarly works that date Acts closer to Luke? I would wager there is quite a bit of strong argumentation for Luke/Acts in the 80-90's.

Not sure why you're not convinced about Q. Matthew and Luke have stuff in common that they don't have in common with Mark. Thats all Q is really, but some debate whether it was written or oral tradition.

If parts of Mark display elements of midrashic allegory, it does not follow that you should reject everything in Mark.

eheffa:If you were God, would you be content with the quality of how your primary salvific act of all time has been documented & preserved?

Just remember that your judgements about the quality of the New Testament rely on a)the quality of your research and critical thinking on the matter and b)the quality of the research and opinion you make use of.

Take care,
David

Blue Devil Knight said...

Also, talk.origins has a decent discussion of the Coconino formation here.

This has nothing to do with Christianity. I can be a Christian and believe the Earth is a zillion years old.

No offense to you, Rick, but I am glad that literalist fundamentalism had its hayday in the 1980s. The magnitude of intellectual acrobatics required to believe such things makes Christians look dishonest and childlike.

Steven Bently said...

One pertinent question for you fundy xtians:

1. Why would you want to believe in a god that concerns himself with the foreskin of a mans penis?

Jason said...

Hey, remember that one time when Harry asked the question "what is Christianity"? Neither do I. Maybe if he was here talking about his topic it'd be easier to remember. No matter though. As you were. :)

eheffa said...

David said:

Don't agree with something just because it supports your position.

Thank you for the advice. I agree. I admit that it is all too easy to be attracted to opinions that are supportive of one's own hypotheses (however embryonic) & dismiss contradictory arguments.

I have been attempting to read both sides of these discussions but have had increasing difficulty reading authors who accept the authority of scripture at face value & without skepticism. This sort of respect needs to be earned & the traditional authority of NT scripture should be open to analysis & question. The possibility that these NT writings are merely man-made religious speculation must be ruled out before accepting their more fantastic claims.

I have perhaps been attracted to the more "extreme" analyses because they define the boundaries of plausible interpretation. (Just as in dating these works; it is helpful to define the Termini of earliest & latest possible datings) I think that it is a valuable exercise to deliberately set aside the orthodox Christian presuppositions prior to examining the NT Gospels. These NT books take on a very different light & make a lot more sense if they are understood as allegory or polemics written to counter the opposing theologies of other Christian factions of the second century rather than God-inspired directives to guide all future generations of believers.

I am no longer a Christian & I am now not even convinced that the Jesus of the NT gospels existed as a real flesh & blood entity.

I think that this essay by Robert G Price (Note: not Robert M Price) articulates much of what I would take to be a better understanding of the Gospels & NT writings.

http://www.rationalrevolution.net/articles/jesus_myth_history.htm


http://www.rationalrevolution.net/articles/gospel_mark.htm

I have read enough in print to supplement and fill out these ideas more fully but these online references are a little more accessible for the sake of discussion.

Are these too extreme or implausible for you?

-evan

david said...

eheffa,

Looks like the standard Jesus myth stuff. Definitely some historians out there argue this, but in my opinion the special pleading (from a historiography perspective) makes this position very tenuous.

Going from right to lefty liberal, here's a few authors that have helped me see the landscape:

N.T. Wright - "Resurrection of the Son of God"
Craig Blomberg - "Reliability of the Gospels"
Darrell Bock - "Jesus According to Scripture"
John Dominique Crossan - "The Birth of Christianity"

I'm more into books than internet scholars, so anything you've read that you'd recommend feel free.

david said...

hey eheffa,

If you're interested in looking into the existence of Jesus more, check out this 3 month debate I did with Dawson Bethrick over at Incinerating Presuppositionalism.

This was my first debate with a much more experienced opponent and definitely very lengthy; however, you'll quickly see how much one has to abandon the canons of historical research to hold that Paul invented Jesus from mystery cult material. Also notice the use of insult and rhetoric. ;)

D Rob said...

Steve said - One pertinent question for you fundy xtians:

1. Why would you want to believe in a god that concerns himself with the foreskin of a mans penis?


He designed the penis and the foreskin - why would He not be concerned with its purpose?

And by the way - our faith in God has nothing to do with His purpose for the penis and foreskin.

Joshua said...

Jason - Hey, remember that one time when Harry asked the question "what is Christianity"?

Vaguely. Let's take an outsiders view and try to do a descriptive definition:

A. What makes one a Christian?

Being - or striving to be - a follower of Christ. Simple enough, that's the literal meaning of the word - "-ian" being a suffix meaning "in the party of" or similar. Doesn't help much, but it's a start.

B. How much of the Bible can one deny and still be a Christian?

Throughout its history, the religion of Christianity has used various books as their inspirational and devotional literature. We've dropped a lot of them - why don't we still use the Book of Enoch?. Since there's no one bible, I'd say that you can deny any version and still be a Christian.

C. What is the difference between historical orthodox doctrinal denial and Biblical denial?

I'd say none. The contents and interpretations of the bible ARE doctrine. It did not fall from the sky in 1611 with a FAQ file attached. Most Christians accept a common bible today, with some variations. But the books that compose it were determined by Eusebius of Caesarea and the 4th century bishops. Part of their criteria for selection was that the book had to agree with church doctrine, which they believed they had through tradition beginning with the apostles. The bible thus represents doctrine and tradition.

eheffa said...

david wrote:

Looks like the standard Jesus myth stuff. Definitely some historians out there argue this, but in my opinion the special pleading (from a historiography perspective) makes this position very tenuous.


I'm not sure that such an easy dismissal of the Mythicist position is warranted. I think it explains the many anachronisms around how this Jesus person fails to be noticed by a good number of true historians of the era. To read the gospels, one would have thought that the Jesus Messiah was the talk of the town on his triumphal entry, his public humiliation before the Sanhedrin & Pontius Pilate, the earthquakes, the darkened earth, the dead brought to life & walking the streets of Jerusalem etc. Josephus & Philo pay attention to much smaller details & many less compelling characters in their histories & somehow fail to even notice the existence of this very public messiah figure. ( The Testimonium Flavium cannot be used as evidence as it is almost certainly an interpolation.) It just doesn't make any sense that these historians would not have noticed the existence of this messiah figure & his supposedly vigorous & disruptive followers - unless of course the Gospel accounts are post-hoc legend.

Price lists a tidy number of points to support his contention & I think that the orthodox believers' flippant dismissal of these is not warranted. These are serious problems for the believers in an Historical Jesus.

* The Gospel of Mark was the first story of Jesus that was written, and all others are dependent on it
* The Gospel of Mark shows clear signs of being written as an allegorical fiction
* Virtually every detail of the life of Jesus comes from "Old Testament" scriptures
* Some of the details of the life of Jesus are based on mistranslations of the Hebrew scriptures
* Jesus' crucifixion on Passover defies historical believability, yet makes perfect sense metaphorically
* The Gospels make many claims that are contradicted by the historical record
* The earliest writings about Jesus, from Paul and others, contain no details of his life
* Many statements in the letters of Paul only make sense if Paul does not view Jesus Christ as a historical person
* There is not one single writing from or about Jesus during his supposed lifetime
* Philo, a prolific Jewish writer who lived from 20 BCE to 50 CE, wrote extensively about the political and theological movements throughout the Mediterranean, and his views foreshadowed Christian theology, yet he never once wrote anything about Jesus. Not only this, but he actually wrote about political conflicts between the Jews and Pontius Pilate in Judea
* All of the non-Christian references to Jesus can be shown to have either been introduced later by Christian scribes or were originally based on Christian claims
* There is no evidence of any knowledge of a tomb of Jesus (empty or occupied) prior to the Gospel stories
* There were many conflicting beliefs about who Jesus Christ was in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd centuries, including beliefs that he had never existed on earth "in the flesh"
* The Catholics made purely theological arguments as to why Jesus Christ had to have existed "in the flesh"

( from http://www.rationalrevolution.net/articles/jesus_myth_history.htm#13 )

I very much doubt that anyone in the second century questioned the existence of Pontius Pilate or Caesar Augustus & yet there were several different active factions of Christianity in that era that maintained some form of disbelief in a physical historical Jesus. These were eventually stamped out under heavy persecution by the victorious faction: the Orthodox Catholic Church of Eusebius & Constantine. We derive our modern day Christianity from them & it seems that many otherwise careful thinkers are quite prepared to allow their personal beliefs to be dictated by these ancient power brokers. I am not convinced by the naysayers that the Mythicist position is at all tenuous. Apart from the fact that it flies in the face of traditional orthodoxy, the mythicist hypothesis fits the data very well. ( Earl Doherty makes this observation much more eloquently - his detractors scoff at the MJ idea but provide nothing in the way of good rebuttal to his position.)

There seems to be a reluctance to accept the idea that gospel writers & sincere christian folk could fabricate these stories, histories & letters. Yet, we have irrefutable evidence that they did just that. From the canonical deuteropauline epistles, to the fabricated epistles of Ignatius & 2 Clement (& probably 1 Clement); from the Canonical allegorical Gospel of Mark to the Gospels of Judas & Peter & Hebrews... on & on it goes. Still, according to the defenders of the faith, we are expected to accept the idea that somehow in all this noise of fiction & inventive pious speculation, we should accept the premise that this hero messiah man Jesus Christ, really lived & that we have an accurate idea of his words & deeds. The Canonical books were not chosen for their veracity but for their compliance with the orthodoxy of the catholic church of the day.)

This is not just some question of ancient Jewish history either. When you die, God himself will weigh your soul & potentially condemn you to eternal torture based on your analysis and acceptance of these tenuous claims around this person of Jesus. It really is a completely preposterous idea.

NT Wright I have read; & Crossan to a limited degree. Wright strikes me as having quite happily accepted the authority of scripture as the word of god & frames most of his apologetics with this as a presupposition. I cannot entertain the arguments of Wright though when it seems so apparent that the Gospel writer he builds his case upon was not a contemporary of the subject (Jesus), does not reference his sources, plagiarizes other Gospel writers, uses OT scripture as proof text, betrays and evangelistic agenda and contradicts other Gospel writers.

Crossan seems sincerely devoted to teasing out an historical Jesus from the records he sees as corrupted but still valuable. I would like to read more of him but can't spend a lot time parsing these "Scriptures" until I understand what they really are.

Anyways, I realize this is way of-topic & will allow you last word but I should probably go back to my hole & read some more...

Cheers. There is real liberation in being able to think for yourself.

-evan

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

eheffa,

Josephus does mention Jesus and James, unless you think all those passages are interpolations. Do you reject the entire Testimonium? That seems rather extreme.

That list is not what I consider high quality material. Robert M. Price is much better at arguing for the myth, and Earl Doherty as well.

If you don't like Christians scholars who reject the Jesus myth, check out the liberal and skeptic scholars who also argue against it. It really is more of a historiography argument.

Honestly, it looks like you use a lot of words but you haven't digested the concepts yet. It takes time, heck there are plenty of things I need to work on. When you use terms like "irrefutable evidence" it makes you sound inane. Historical knowledge of the ancient world rarely works to that effect.

Just admit to yourself you don't want to believe Christianity is real and deal with it; just like I must admit to myself that I don't want to believe atheism is real. Intellectual honesty is painful, but truth is no small matter.

Cheers. The real liberation is when you realize how much your desire to believe something affects your ability to think for yourself. Not to sound overly Freudian - we think, but we are not free.

Harry McCall said...

Evan, that is some great work for someone not trained in Biblical studies.

In 1997 I bought Bruce Metzger
(1914 - 2007) autobiography “Reminiscences of an Octogenarian” thinking just as several reviewers on Amazon did that I would find a personal testimony of faith expressed which would have given credence to the truth of the foundations of the events of Christian origins. To my surprise, this very wonderful biographical work avoids any claims of New Testament “truth” or even a personal confession of Metzger’s faith in Jesus as the Christ.

Secondly, another major patristic scholar, Henry Chadwick (1920 - 2008), who had a dazzling academic career shared between Cambridge and Oxford, (he acquired the unusual distinction of holding the Regius Chairs of Divinity at both Cambridge and Oxford, as well as being Head of House in both Universities (Christ Church and Peterhouse)). Who also, in the course of his life, was loaded with honors—prizes and honorary doctorates—and became a corresponding member of learned societies in many countries, as well as a Fellow of the British Academy (and one-time Vice-President) and who major final work “The Church and Ancient Society: From Galilee to Gregory the Great” views the supernatural events in the founding of Christianity as simply statements of faith and not historical facts.

The fact that all the conservative seminaries and graduate universities I’ve visited on line (pulling up their academic courses in New Testament and Early Christianity) vastly limit their academic approach to the understanding of the origins of Christianity in order not to create doubt in their students, plus keeping the credence of its divine providence.

This came out several years back when I debated a Divinity professor who had earned all three degrees from Bob Jones University, Layton Talbert BA (Bible), MA (Theology), PhD (Theology) on the use of the word ἐθνικὸς (gentile) in the Synoptic Gospels. I was totally surprised just how poorly a very conservative “Bible Believing” university equips its students.

eheffa said...

David,

Sorry to belabor this - (with my clumsy verbosity). If I appear to be regurgitating undigested concepts, it may be that I am still trying to formulate a coherent understanding of how Christianity could lay claim to such vaunted & magnificent authority when its early history & documentation is so flawed & incomplete.

david wrote:

Josephus does mention Jesus and James, unless you think all those passages are interpolations.

We are talking about two passages (not "all those") & yes, I think it is possible and more than likely that they are interpolations. The TF appears to have been totally missed by second century writers looking to validate the Historical Jesus idea (Origen & Justin for example). They demonstrate an intimate familiarity with Josephus & the Antiquities 18 passage specifically & yet somehow failed to have noticed this ripe plum of support for their case. It is not until Eusebius (~340 CE) that there is any recognition of this passage's existence. Eusebius, as Constantine's official Church historian, is on record as declaring that falsehoods or fabrications for the sake of the Kingdom would be acceptable. We have evidence of pseudo-pauline letters, interpolations to the Gospel of Mark and many alternate Gospels of clearly fantastic dimensions. We have here in the TF, a late-appearing creedal type declaration concerning Jesus Christ in the middle of a passage on Pontius PIlate. What would be the most likely explanation for this? It seems rather obvious to me that this is an interpolation. ( For a more complete & very convincing discussion on this see Doherty's recently revised analysis: http://www.humanists.net/jesuspuzzle/supp16.htm#EusLies )

Do you reject the entire Testimonium?
Yes.
That seems rather extreme.
No, not extreme; just prudent. The TF is a clearly corrupted passage that is worthless as evidence of anything.

Even if the TF were genuine, it still leaves this unexplained vacuum of third party attestation to the existence of the Historical flesh & blood Jesus.


That list is not what I consider high quality material. Robert M. Price is much better at arguing for the myth, and Earl Doherty as well.

Sure. This may not be the best quality work on the subject but he makes some good points. He is in good company with the other Price & Doherty to name a few. I have read most of Doherty's & Robert M Price's work on this subject. I think they make a very good case for a healthy skepticism (at the very least) around the idea that Jesus Christ was a real figure of history.

Just admit to yourself you don't want to believe Christianity is real and deal with it; just like I must admit to myself that I don't want to believe atheism is real. Intellectual honesty is painful, but truth is no small matter.

Now, I have to take some exception to the assumptions behind this statement. I am not running away from the faith because I have some secret desire to abandon Christianity & need an excuse. I had occasionally struggled with my faith over the years when I confronted issues around Genesis & science, the problem of pain, the apparent criminal & evil behavior of people claiming to be guided by god through their relationship with Jesus & so on. Despite my questions, I always found myself maintaining at least a minimal belief that Jesus was who said he was & that I was loved & forgiven. I found comfort in reading other questioners like Philip Yancey, but was careful not to stray too far from the fold in my reading around apologetic questions.

During a trip to Spain in 2006, I was impressed with all the iconography & clearly legendary aspects to the faith - the depictions of Cherubs, Saints & the assumption of Mary for example. I was feeling a little smug in my Protestant faith knowing that I had much better evidence for my beliefs & good solid support in scripture for the basics of faith. I wondered at the time why these people didn't seem to question the obviously fabricated & legendary aspects of the Catholic faith. It then occurred to me that my own faith should demand a certain degree of scrutiny & verification to ensure that I too, had the integrity I looked for in these poor deluded worshipers, lighting their candles to Saint Whoever. I also wondered whether I would have the courage to face my doubts & really act on what I found.

I then launched into a personal quest to investigate the question of whether Jesus really was who the Gospel writers' portrayed him to be. For the first time I got beyond the pat answers of theJosh McDowells & the NT Wrights with their tidy explanations. Looking more closely for the source documents has been quite revealing (despite my limitations as a non-scholar & no greek.) I have been quite surprised to see how little evidence we have for an historical Jesus let alone evidence to give us any confidence that we could know what he said & did in his lifetime. As I pondered the significance of what I was learning about the documentation and evidence for faith, it became quite clear to me that this ragtag collection of stories & epistles could not possibly be the Word of God. What god with the desire to communicate a great vital truth would allow his message to be so contaminated by generations of oral transmission, and zealous churchmen editing his message? What god would leave so many ambiguous questions unaddressed so that his followers would tear each other apart over questions of dogma and protocol? The more I looked for evidence of a first century church following in the steps of their founder Jesus, the more I realized that we have almost nothing from the first century to corroborate the existence of a Gospel-Jesus based faith. It all comes into focus in the mid second century though, along with the many diverse accounts and factions fighting over the nature of the Christ etc. Could the whole thing be little more than a fabrication?

In the end, my first priority question seems to answered quite clearly. Is the Christian faith the product of God working through his son to redeem the world or is it a man-made religion like all the others we know & love? It seems quite obvious to me now that it is the latter. I wasn't sure I would have the courage to leave the faith, as I really wanted it to be true. I feared hell & offending Jesus as well as the possibility of being cut off from my family.

But the evidence for an authentic Jesus is so poor that to maintain this faith requires a willingness to embrace delusion. I would rather choose truth as far as I can know it. If that is a capital offense - so be it.

This was a long diatribe - sorry. I am not willing though, to be written off as someone who is running from the truth & looking for excuses to not believe.

Am I subject to bias & errors of logic? Certainly; but, I hope that I can be open-minded enough to see the errors of my thinking & change if the evidence dictates. At this point in time though, Christianity fails the truth test on multiple levels. I agree that it is no small matter.

-evan

eheffa said...

Thanks Harry,

This is very interesting that, in the end, Metzger was not able to give the Christian faith his unqualified "good housekeeping seal of approval". I found his book very helpful, but not very reassuring. Humans do not have a good track record in preserving integrity.

It is impressive how much we can take for granted. We can believe something with all our hearts, but never properly investigate the basis for this belief.

-evan

david said...

eheffa,

Thanks for sharing your story. I certainly don't want to write you off as running from the truth, and wish you the best on your journey.

It is common to "overadjust" when you come out of Christianity (or vice versa, Christians call it "on fire for the Lord")...just keep questioning your assumptions and beliefs like you did before, and especially question the authors you read.

I'm reading a very interesting book called How to Read a Book and it devotes an entire section to criticizing an author and arguing with him (internally) after you read the book. Its helped launch me a little further.

Oh and I have to at least mention that comparing N.T. Wright with Josh Mcdowell is a bit strange to me. Most Christians think Wright is too postmodern. Mcdowell is like the ultimate modernist. I can't stand him either actually. :)

eheffa said...

Thank you David,


It is always a temptation to be complacent & accept easy answers over the more difficult search for what is true. I have lots to discover yet. As I said before, I may be exploring the limits of what is plausible only to find some sort of middle ground eventually. I've been wrong before & expect to be mistaken many times yet.

I'll perhaps look for a few more dissenting opinions to shake me up a little more...

Cheers.

- evan

Harry McCall said...

David:

Is the only thing the so-called truth of Christianity has going for it to prove it’s credibility is, NOT the claims in the Gospels themselves, but some secondary claim that if a text can be proven to be very early it vindicates the religion is supports as truthful?

I see soooo much keyboarding wasted here tracing or at least trying to trace these texts back to an autography copy as if this proves the truthfulness and credibility of Christianity.

David, it not the autograph texts which can vindicate Christianity, but its CLAIMS as espoused, if not Jesus himself, the Gospels (who are in fact and from which what little we can really know, is the only Jesus we have). But the fact of a preserved early text and the claims promised in these text at NOT one and the same.

So even if Josephus did testify as to the fantastic claims of some miracle working Jesus and we did process an autography copies of each book or letter of the entire New Testament, what good would this do when the claims that sold Christianity to the masses in the first place only remain a promise in distant past?

Funny thing, while Paul discusses theology and makes no fantastic claims that believers will work miracles as opposed to the claims of the Gospels (“Sing and Wonders” in the Gospels), I’ve noticed almost no one wants prove an early date for an autograph copy of a Pauline’s epistle to vindicate the truth of his theology since he, again, makes no fantastic claims as to working “Signs and Wonders”.

Fact is, IT IS the MIRACLES themselves (the very Signs and Wonders) that give Christianity any real meaning. Thus, we regularly find Christians like you trying had to establish and early date for ancient canonized Christian texts as, again, if this will prove a historical Jesus when we have Gospels promises given by the master, Jesus himself as proof of the truthfulness of New Testament Christianity which fail to happen or work in today’s world and must be explained away.

So did the promised claims give to all Christian believers go to Heaven with Jesus? I guess, if one can not defend the message in these ancient texts, it easy to create a diversion away from the core claims held within the texts themselves to an easier claim that if a lot of the ancients said Jesus did thus and such miracles, and we have the autograph texts themselves, then, BY GOLLY we have a link to the historical truth of Christianity.

David, most people believe in the Dodo bird. It did once live. It did feed hungry sailors. It had its benefit, but it’s now extinct. So even if there at one time in the history of humanity; in the country of Palestine; the life a real Jesus who did do what the Gospels said he did, he is now extinct just as the Dodo bird is (living in some Heaven carries only subjective meaning for believers).

This was my point on the baked lay text Akkadian was written on. If early uncorrupted texts make a religion truthful, then Christianity comes in a distant second or third to the early Semitic religions.

Personally, the debate of the earliness of ancient text or their claims giving evidence of truth is a smoke screen since the Jesus of the text is to be actively living in some heaven right now, so too are his promises of Gospel “Signs and Wonders” must proven factual truth for us in the present tense today and not 2,000 years ago..

With out the above present reality, little differentiates an extinct Jesus from and extinct Dodo bird. Though one is said to live on in some “Heaven” while the other is in the dust of the earth is totally meaningless for those of us in the twenty-first century reality.

david said...

Is the only thing the so-called truth of Christianity has going for it to prove it’s credibility is, NOT the claims in the Gospels themselves, but some secondary claim that if a text can be proven to be very early it vindicates the religion is supports as truthful?

No, and who claims that?

But the fact of a preserved early text and the claims promised in these text at NOT one and the same.

I agree. For the third time:

"The number of manuscripts does provide a broad platform upon which to do textual criticism, which means we can know reliably what the New Testament originally said, but again that in itself doesn't mean its true. "

Funny thing, while Paul discusses theology and makes no fantastic claims that believers will work miracles as opposed to the claims of the Gospels (“Sing and Wonders” in the Gospels), I’ve noticed almost no one wants prove an early date for an autograph copy of a Pauline’s epistle to vindicate the truth of his theology since he, again, makes no fantastic claims as to working “Signs and Wonders”.

What verses in the Gospels are you referencing, surely not the two that refer to the anti-Christ performing signs and wonders? (Mark 13:22, Matt 24:24)

Not sure what you’re saying about dating Paul’s letters, except that somehow you think fantastic claims motivate Christian historians to assign an earlier date?

Fact is, IT IS the MIRACLES themselves (the very Signs and Wonders) that give Christianity any real meaning. Thus, we regularly find Christians like you trying had to establish and early date for ancient canonized Christian texts as, again, if this will prove a historical Jesus when we have Gospels promises given by the master, Jesus himself as proof of the truthfulness of New Testament Christianity which fail to happen or work in today’s world and must be explained away.

Getting more confused. What Gospel promises are you referring to?

So did the promised claims give to all Christian believers go to Heaven with Jesus?

????

I guess, if one can not defend the message in these ancient texts, it easy to create a diversion away from the core claims held within the texts themselves to an easier claim that if a lot of the ancients said Jesus did thus and such miracles, and we have the autograph texts themselves, then, BY GOLLY we have a link to the historical truth of Christianity.

1. We don’t have the autographs.
2. I don’t believe the reliability of the text has influence over the veracity its truth claims.
3. I do believe it is sound historiography to judge a document by the length of time passed between the alleged event in question and the document itself.

This was my point on the baked lay text Akkadian was written on. If early uncorrupted texts make a religion truthful, then Christianity comes in a distant second or third to the early Semitic religions.

Thank goodness early uncorrupted texts don’t make a religion truthful.

Remember you also said: Now, all I can objectively say is, if the Judao-Christian God is really “All Knowing” why did he not think of this method of preserving text?

My response was that while such a method would be beneficial for the preservation of the text, it would be quite detrimental to the transmission of the text.

Its amazing how widely dispersed the text was at the dawn of the second century. Imagine those guys carting around tablets, or sitting in a scriptorium writing on wet clay as the text was dictated out loud...nope, even I know that wouldn't have worked.

eheffa said...

To Harry,

I think the reason this argument gets beaten to death back & forth is the frequently heard apologetic that the Gospels must be true because they were written by eyewitnesses who ultimately died for their testimony. There is no evidence for this & in fact the evidence would suggest that this is a complete fiction but it still gets put forward when one questions why the Gospels accounts should be considered to be reliable history.

Here's an interesting discussion of this very question:

http://www.freeratio.org/vbb/showthread.php?p=5621363#post5621363

David,

You say:
"Its amazing how widely dispersed the text was at the dawn of the second century."

Can you cite the evidence to support the assertion that these texts were even in existence at the dawn of the second century let alone widely distributed?

I am under that exact opposite impression; i.e. that we no evidence that they even existed until the mid second century. Thus we have the hypotheses of Dettering & others that the Gospels & the writers of the Pauline corpus were early to mid second century creations.

Thanks

-evan

david said...

eheffa said, Can you cite the evidence to support the assertion that these texts were even in existence at the dawn of the second century let alone widely distributed

You don't think any of the New Testament documents were penned prior to 100AD?

Are you sure you read the same Metzger I did? Compare P46 (200 AD), P66 (175-225), and P75 (early 3rd century).

The Alexandrian and Western texts are definitely rooted in the second century, as evidenced by the patristic quotations from particular geographical locations during that time period.

Also you might want to check out the concept of geneological solidarity. Basically each region evidences certain kinds of variants which were copied repeatedly. The process is much to complicate to explain in a comments box.

eheffa said...

Hi again David,


You don't think any of the New Testament documents were penned prior to 100AD?

I am not talking about accuracy of transmission or copying but rather external evidence of their existence prior to mid second century. They may have been written earlier than the end of the first century in the case of gMark for instance; but the evidence for this is simply not there. If one looks for the Origens or Justins to demonstrate at least some familiarity with the Canonical gospels we find nothing definitive until the later part of the second century. (Ignatius & Clement are quite problematic in their authenticity & dating...) Marcion had some sort of version of Luke & a few other gospel type books but his writings are lost (to the torch?). Despite his heretical status, he would appear to be the first to even consider a written account of the Gospel Jesus to be important.

The earliest Gospel fragment would be that one scrap of gJohn P52 is dated 125-150 CE - Not exactly evidence of first century authorship.
http://www.kchanson.com/ANCDOCS/greek/johnpap.html

Don't you think it is remarkable how much enthusiasm & care was taken to preserve, copy and distribute these gospels in the mid to late second century but prior to this time period we have no evidence of anyone even knowing of their existence? Clearly they were important documents to the early church but the evidence we have suggests to me that these accounts were in fact quite late to the Church picnic. The copy-fest of the later second century is quite suggestive of later dates of authorship.

I have to say that the standard apologist arguments around these questions of authorship (who & when & where) are so patently dishonest that if it were not for the thought that they are simply deluded by their wishful thinking and poor logic, I would have thought they were deliberately lying about these questions.

Cheers.
-evan

david said...

eheffa,

I think you should explore this more:

(Ignatius & Clement are quite problematic in their authenticity & dating...)

eheffa said...

David: "I think you should explore this more."

You're probably right. I will.

Here's another essay with a pretty balanced analysis, I think & accepting of more moderate datings despite the lack of evidence( as opposed to the Dutch Radical School...)

(Richard Carrier on the NT Canon:)

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/NTcanon.html

I'd guess that this history is not well known to most believing Christians. To argue that these NT documents are somehow authoritative & God inspired defies all sensible reason.

-evan

david said...

I'd guess that this history is not well known to most believing Christians.

Sadly average American Christian does not look under the hood.


To argue that these NT documents are somehow authoritative & God inspired defies all sensible reason.

Another inane statement. If your statement is true, then every Christian scholar is defined as "without sensible reason." Do you think the evidence is that strong against Christianity?

I haven't read a lot of Carrier, but he's on board with Price and Doherty from what I can tell. Arguing that Jesus never existed is quite an exercise in special pleading (historically). I don't have a problem if you don't think the miracles happened, or maybe even that he said half of what the Bible claims...but saying he didn't exist at all requires more gymnastics then any Christian apologists would ever dream of performing.

eheffa said...

David,

I take it you that didn't read Carrier's essay. That's OK, but he is not arguing the Mythicist case in this historical synopsis of the formation of the NT Canon.

Without a declaration of faith to steer the presuppositions, one will receive the NT writings very differently. Do you read the Gospel of Thomas or the Gospel of Peter with the same eager acceptance? Why not? If you can be skeptical of these writings, why not with the Gospel of John? Did God not inspire the Gospel of Peter as well? How can you tell? Is it perhaps the difference in presuppositions (canon by fiat or tradition) more than the intrinsic merit of the writings?

The mythicist position explains some of the data very well e.g. the absence of third party confirmation of an historical Jesus. I suspect that it is derided by its detractors mostly because it is radical rather than because of its lack of merit - kind of like when Galileo proposed a heliocentric solar system & defied all common understanding.

I am not a mythicist (yet - maybe) but the suggestion warrants consideration.


-evan

david said...

Without a declaration of faith to steer the presuppositions, one will receive the NT writings very differently.

So now your presuppositions are neutral? Riiiight. Enough with the preaching.

eheffa said...

No. Not neutral. Just different.

You have no presuppositions?

-evan

david said...


The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and fight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.


-Matthew Arnold's Dover Beach

david said...

Right so essentially what you said was redundant:

Without a declaration of faith to steer the presuppositions, one will receive the NT writings very differently.

Different presuppositions equals different way to receive the NT writings.

Of course I have presuppositions.

eheffa said...

Thanks for the poem David...

That's something I will print for my wall.

-evan

david said...

:-)

eheffa said...

"Without a declaration of faith to steer the presuppositions, one will receive the NT writings very differently."

I'm not sure this is redundant but let me put it another way:

If one did not already have a commitment to the Christian faith derived, (like WL Craig et al) from a conversion experience or one's cultural or religious up-bringing, a careful reading of the source documents (Gospels) and an understanding of the history of the early church would be unlikely to convince an otherwise agnostic or neutral observer of the veracity or truth of the Christian claims. (How's that for a run-on sentence?)

-evan

Harry McCall said...

David, the ministry of Jesus, the Jewish Reformer and his traditional 11(12) apostles were, in reality, failures. From the death of Jesus (between 30 -32 CE), it took 30 to 40 years for the first Gospel of Mark to write a life of Jesus.

Next, the very limited function of (Saint) Peter the Jew is totally eclipsed by the Hellenistic / Greek Paul (or a school of Pauline thought) who wrote half of the New Testament as theology. By Acts chapter 14, the last apostle (Peter who was to have been taught by the MASTER Jesus himself) is totally drop in favor of the Greek Jew, Paul who redefines a limited Jewish Jesus into a universal and gentile "Christ".

The rest of Jesus’ Jewish apostles appear only in non-canonical pseudepigraphic and apocryphal literature.

Only texts which carried fantastic claims such as the Gospels gather popular support, but that does not make them fact / true.

Such as case is Philostratus’ "The Life of Apollonius of Tyana" who was an ascetic Greek philosopher of the early part of the first century CE who traveled thought Asia to India absorbing much of the eastern religions. During and after subsequent travels in Europe he was revered as a saint with miraculous powers who could also predict the future and is claimed, by Philostratus, to have never died.

This can also be found in the textual transmission of the Greek Magical Papyri. These texts, originally written in Demotic Egyptian, found their way into Hellenistic Greek and, just like the Gospels stories of Jesus, provided magical hope for the future for the masses.

Since the concept of atheism was very small (only among the few educated Greek Philosophers) we have, why the general illiterate population valued stories of the gods working wonders among them, but what they viewed as real in these recorded in texts (or oral)still makes them only simple popular religious stories.

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

Harry,

Thats great but from what verses are you inferring that Christians should still be performing "Signs and Wonders?"

Harry McCall said...

David, since this post is now up to 98 comments and since facts show that, at this point, new people just don't usually comment, I'll do a new post and we can take it up there with inputs from more people.

Regards,
Harry

J.L. Hinman said...

That's all very childish.I see nothing here but childish thinking. Yoo says it's "another reason" to be skeptical because you can't say which denomination is true. It is so true that atheists are nothing but disappointed fundies. that is such a fudnie way to thik.

Being a Chrisian is not determined by belief in the Bible. It's not about which is true. there does not have to be a true denomination. that's all very childish immature thinking.

all of this just goes back to what I have said all along, even atheists who think they were christians and know a lot don't realize most people don't know anything about their religions. Like most people don't know anything the electrical systems they use all the time.

atheists are largely people who don't know anything about religion but get disaffected before they can learn. John Loftus is not one of these. But I do notice he has not returned the favor I did him.

J.L. Hinman said...

Christianity is a religious tradition. Religious traditions are communities that seek to answer the human problematic and to mediate transformational power in resolution of the problematic.

Anonymous said...

What favor Joe? Calling your former college to verify you actually studied there? I believe that you did! Email me if you have more to say, okay?

J.L. Hinman said...

The bible is not synonymous with salvation. Harry, to answer your question you can reject every bit of it and the bindings. There is no statement,no creed, no council that says the Bible is the benchmark of salvation.

I have just put up a full post responding to your post. Please read.

http://metacrock.blogspot.com/

DingoDave said...

Rick asked about the origins of the Permian Coconino sandstone.

The Coconino sandstone is the remains of ancient desert sand dunes, complete with the fossilised burrows and footprints of terrestrial animals and insects.
The Coconino sandstone is a remnant of an ancient Sahara-like desert.

Here is a thread which discusses it in great detial, and which thoroughly debunks the ridiculous notion that it was a result of Noah's flood.

From 'Theology Web';
http://www.theologyweb.com/forum/showthread.php?t=106815

Enjoy.

Harry McCall said...

Thanks dingodave!

Great to have you back.

Harry

DingoDave said...

Thanks Harry.
I've been a bit pre-occupied with other things for the last little while, that's why you haven't seen me around these parts lately.
I've been dropping by for a look every now and then, but I haven't been posting any comments.
You guys have probably enjoyed having a little break away from my ravings anyway. : )

Your federal elections have been occupying most of my free time during recent weeks.
This is 'make or break' time for your country, and also for the rest of the world.
I hope your country does the right thing during this election.
It is my sincere hope that the American people elect a Democratic government this time around.
The world can't afford another four years like the last eight.

Harry McCall said...

Dingodave, than the Gospel truth well stated!!