Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Jesus Changes Not


"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever"

"For I am the LORD, I change not"

________


http://bit.ly/mal3-6
There is a logical contradiction in the beliefs of Christians, especially those who accept the whole Bible as their authority, not just the New Testament. But even those who lean heavily on the New Testament Jesus must cope with the connections Jesus himself made between himself and the Old Testament God.

That connection is very explicit throughout all four Gospels, but especially so in John's gospel. On multiple occasions, Jesus describes himself using the clear (to Old Testament readers) label of 'the I AM,' that distinct title God offered Moses at the burning bush when specifically asked "whom shall I say sent me?" The Old Testament God taught Moses the title "I AM" because he knew his people, Israel, would recognize him by that ancient name. The Jews in Jesus' day still knew that sacred title, because they were most offended when Jesus blasphemed God (in their evaluation) by applying it to himself. This is all to show that it is not really controversial to most Christian bible students to state that the Jesus who appears in the New Testament claimed to be the same as the God of Israel, the Creator, Moses, the whole Old Testament, really. While it may be that many careless bible readers mistake the Old Testament God for the one Jesus called 'Father God,' but it is still an error easily corrected by more carefully attending to Jesus' own words about himself. The bible God is one God in both testaments-- Jesus.

The logical contradiction is in the beliefs of those Christians who encourage the perception of Jesus to be one-sided, as in a Jesus who only really is like he was in the New Testament, shorn of all his actions in the Old.

In order to lift the Jesus of the Cross over and above Misogynist Jesus of Deuteronomy 21 (especially verses 10-13), Brutal Warlord Jesus of Phinehas (Numbers 25), and Collateral Damage Jesus presiding over the death of the firstborn sons of Egypt (Exodus 12:29), one has to explain away these statements about God's fundamental nature. Indeed, one must be willing to change, with some justification, the accepted definition of the term 'eternal' to now not include the idea 'unchanging.'

It's fine to state a preference about which actions of God upon which one chooses to dwell. But before one is asked to commit one's entire life to following a person, even if that person makes claims like 'Creator' or 'Savior', one should analyze that person's actions completely. Read the fine print, so to speak.

Jesus so identified himself with his statements and actions in the word of God that he adopted that very phrase to describe himself. Presumably, then, the person who called himself 'The Word of God,' was willing that all his prospective followers would hold him responsible for all divine activity in the only Bible available in Jesus' day, the Old Testament.

Regardless of whether or not his modern followers find the OT Jesus' behavior embarrassing, they still should be able to explain why prospective converts ought to trust in the God of the 'fine print'.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Spiritual Boundaries

  • NOTE: This was written January 11, 2013 in the style of a personal journal entry. As such, it is not a counter-apologetic statement. It is a personal statement reflecting my journey and state of mind at that time. I reserve the right to continue my journey, and change my state of mind!


I was born just 47 years ago, and have learned a little bit about myself since then.

Delusion Doesn't Mean Dummy


[The following is my answer to an accusation that I was calling Adventists "a bunch of dummies" in my essay found here http://jimmiles.hubpages.com/hub/What-Twenty-Years-in-the-Adventist-Church-Taught-Me]

"Delusion" doesn't mean "dummy."

If I believe something based on insufficient or faulty evidence, we can fairly say that I am ignorant. A new ad campaign by Amnesty International "has highlighted the unintended consequences of imposing the death penalty by focusing on a handful of prisoners who were eventually presumed innocent after death." (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_Sy8jU6sS4). People within our justice system were operating under common beliefs about forensic technology as it existed up to their time. These people include forensic pathologists, attorneys, and judges-- people whose occupations require more than average intelligence and a degree of mastery of logical reasoning and the scientific method. They were no dummies.

We Must Just Trust

There's a certain frustration I have with apologists. They retreat to the following defense at times.
  • When the critic of Scripture says, "If this is accurate, such and such part of the Bible says something unacceptable;" the apologist cries, "Vague! Ancient! this all occurred so long ago, and was written so long ago, that we just can't know everything about it! We must just trust!
  • And when the critic of Scripture says, "the Bible was written so long ago, and its events so long ago, we cannot trust its claims about anything and everything, especially not for modern man," the apologist switches to the opposite side, and cries, "Inspired! Infallible! God knows all and guided his word to be the perfect view-port into God's will for man! We must just trust!"

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Great Divide?

This is the fourth of four points I made in a Facebook discussion found here: https://www.facebook.com/jim.miles/posts/10152361298826758
I feel like I missed lots of points made earlier in the discussion.
I only mention names for reference; anyone is welcome to offer comment.

POINT #4: THE GREAT DIVIDE?

In order to generically address many of both Tom and Gil's most recent comments, I would say the following.

We're talking across a great divide. On my side, I am skeptical about the Bible and its many claims. I am skeptical about the existence of God, and all things supernatural. On their side (Tom and Gil's), however different they are to each other in their doctrinal specifics (SDAs have VERY little in common with RCs on church dogma), they are both at the opposite end of what we could call a belief spectrum-- they are both convinced that God exists, and that He spoke through the Bible's writers.

All Scripture Is Inspired By God; Therefore I Reject God


This is the third of four points I made in a Facebook discussion found here: https://www.facebook.com/jim.miles/posts/10152361298826758
I feel like I missed lots of points made earlier in the discussion.
I only mention names for reference; anyone is welcome to offer comment.

POINT #3: ALL SCRIPTURE IS INSPIRED BY GOD; THEREFORE I REJECT GOD
Gil said:
 "...in order to be fair with God, we need to realize that we can't explore His mind as an open book. ... I don't think it is possible to know all the issues involved... Since the Bible isn't verbally inspired...there are passages that don't set forth God's character as it really is...
"... God's plan is to save the human race... I accept this by faith realizing that I do not have all the answers but that the time will come when all will be revealed."
That extensive quote represents several paragraphs, but I think my excerpts capture the essential message of the whole. And the whole thought perfectly represents the essence of my complaint with those who put their trust in the Bible, and in the God that it reveals.

Rape Allowed By God Because Might Makes Right

This is the second of four points I made in a Facebook discussion found here: https://www.facebook.com/jim.miles/posts/10152361298826758
I feel like I missed lots of points made earlier in the discussion.
I only mention names for reference; anyone is welcome to offer comment.

POINT #2: RAPE ALLOWED BECAUSE MIGHT MAKES RIGHT

I reviewed the video, and the words spoken in it do mistakenly give the impression that God commanded rape, and not simply allowed it. Gil has asked, "As far as their accusation that God commanded the rape of virgins, where is that found? These guys are out to beat up on God and they are not intellectually honest about it." I agree with you as far as the speaker on the video being mistaken when he implies that God commanded rape. God did not command rape in Moses' era, nor do I find such a command anywhere in the Bible. As far as jumping from a mistake like that to concluding that the speaker is therefore intellectually dishonest, I cannot go that far. I don't have enough evidence to make that conclusion. Until I do, I will assume it was an honest mistake.

God Arbitrarily Exercises His Power To Protect



This is the first of four points I made in a Facebook discussion found here: https://www.facebook.com/jim.miles/posts/10152361298826758

I feel like I missed lots of points made earlier in the discussion.
I only mention names for reference; anyone is welcome to offer comment.

POINT #1: GOD ARBITRARILY EXERCISES HIS POWER TO PROTECT

Gil said: "There are situations where if you don't destroy the enemy, the enemy will destroy you." This doesn't work as a justification for the biblical cases of divine destructive power, it seems to me. Here's why.

Way back when war broke out in heaven, beings more powerful than humans fought for both sides, God's and Lucifer's, and nobody was destroyed. Exile was a better option at that time, and we are left to guess at the reasons for this--the Bible does not reveal why God did this. Instead of destroying the disobedient Lucifer-turned-Satan, God let him live to spread his disloyalty to God's recent creation, the human beings of planet Earth. God protected His first enemies, the angel Satan and all those angels who joined his rebellious cause. They were protected, not destroyed, and exiled to Earth.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Violence As Atonement

The Violence of Phinehas Called An Atonement by God

Evidence exists that Jesus praised and commended the violent act of Phinehas. That is a serious statement, one which may bring forth from Christians the familiar defense, namely that it is taken "out of context."

First, for context's sake, please note the following.

  • It is not controversial that Jesus was the God of the Old Testament, the Law-Giver of the Exodus. The gospel of John reinforces this constantly (John 1:1-14, Jesus is the Creator of Genesis), and Paul's writings confirm that the One following Israel around and tending to all their spiritual needs "was Christ" (not the Father God, as popularly misunderstood, 1 Corinthians 10:1-4). 
  • Therefore, whatever "the LORD" said to or about Phinehas which is directly quoted in the Old Testament is actually what Jesus said about him. This is the reason that the evidence is placed at Jesus' feet, not at the feet of some more vague reference to "God," who is just as likely to be interpreted as the Father or the Son, or to Trinitarians, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 
  • Jesus is the main actor and agent in all 66 books of the Bible, and each book endeavors to tell something important about Jesus, even the Old Testament books, and even in those books which aren't so obviously about him. That is the context of Jesus to Phinehas.


Post-Christian

I was asked "Why do you call yourself Post-Christian?"

I'm sure that I didn't create this term, but I don't know if it has different meanings from my own. So, I'm glad you asked, so I can be clear.

What I mean by calling myself "post-Christian" includes:
  • I am not an active member of any church.
  • I am not a follower of or a believer in any non-denominational group or individual.
  • I have not become an atheist or agnostic.

Immoral God

If God has revealed himself in the entire Protestant Christian Bible (as I used to believe, and spent a teaching career convincing teens to believe), then He must answer for his horrible behavior. Otherwise, reasonable people cannot be expected to respect him as a moral leader. Regardless of whether or not he is truly a savior of sinners, the fact remains that after being saved, a person would then be expected to live in close proximity to God and be eternally known as officially endorsing everything ever done by this person who claims to be a legitimate king. We can be certain that God expects us to use our own judgment in these matters, given the pains taken to inject such reminders throughout the Bible. Such as, "Come, let us reason together," (Isaiah 1:18) and "Let each be fully convinced in his own mind," (Romans 14:5) and "choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve," (Joshua 24:15) and "do you not know that we shall judge angels?" (1 Corinthians 6:3). Judgment is a theme which runs throughout the Bible, and the saved are promised a judgment role in the future, even as they are invited to judge for themselves now whether God is worthy of the reverence and obedience he expects of his people.

Apologies for Jesus

The following is a contribution I made to a discussion in the comments section of spectrummagazine.org

Apologists for Jesus abound today. It's fashionable now to re-imagine the Jesus of the Bible into a more familiar kind of progressive, humanistic, socially responsible guy. Not that he wasn't already a kinder, gentler deity than the disciplinarian OT Almighty, but now he needs to be somehow more like us. And by us, I mean us LIBERALS.

When they (the SDA progressives) want to claim biblical authority for a Christianity Lite makeover, they have to seriously twist the Scriptures. I remember doing it when I counted myself among the SDA liberal apologists. Now that I'm out from under any religious connections, I look back on the Christianity Lite I was pushing and realize how far removed I had to get from the plain reading of the Bible in order to be able to recreate Jesus in my own image.

Amok Capitalism Time

When you measure the promise of capitalism against its actual historical progress in the United States, it needs to be given the proverbial pink slip. Its resume & references were obviously inflated to the extreme. Adam Smith made us believe that an Invisible Hand would magically guide all participants in the free market to the best possible outcome for all involved. He lied! That invisible hand is more like a pickpocket's than some benign, divine mathematician's. It's not the hand of God, it's the hand of Greed.

A society duped into allowing a principle as violent and corrupting as Greed to be their basis of interacting with each other gets what they asked for: a proper fleecing by the wealthiest among them.

Apologists for the Greed system (who generously provide their free PR for those who don't need it) nowadays blame capitalism's failures on the measures adopted by previous generations to slap back that pickpocketing hand. Just get rid of those nefarious socialist measures which cripple the Invisible Hand, and the rising tide will raise all boats, they claim. (Never mind the facts about how expensive those big ol boats are, leaving so many treading water, and losing strength fast).