Common Questions, with Answers

Today I present comments that have been generated on other blog posts and the Christian responses to them.

“It simply does not make sense if there is a God, intelligent force, cosmic consciousness etc., that everything should not be a part of that ‘God’ and that we are all spiritual beings having a material existence and we never lose our spirituality, or are rejected.
Just as you can’t be ‘half pregnant’ neither can God embrace some and reject others simply because of what they believe.”

If when this says “everything should not be a part of ‘God’” it suggests that all of created matter (planets, rocks, trees, humans) is a part of God, then Christianity would disagree. What is made of matter is finite and has a beginning, and God is infinite and has no beginning, therefore God is not part of the created world of nature. Instead, the created world relates to God as a painter to a painting.

Next, regarding the makeup of humans, the Bible teaches that we are a spirit-body unity (see 1 Cor. 15). Both our spirit and body are what makes up “us.”

Next, God is perfectly holy, but is also perfectly just. Humans have all sinned against this holy God (Romans 3:23)  and God would not be just if he merely ignored our crimes against him. But the good news is that Jesus paid the price for our crime, and thus we can accept or reject God’s provision. So in fact God can indeed accept or reject people based on what they believe, but there’s more to the story…..the basis for that belief is not something irrelevant, but rather boils down to the core of who God is.

“Anyone who believes in absolutes, Truth/Lie or Black/White or Right/Wrong is going to have a problem. In reality life is very often grey.”

While it is true that many decisions in life are not very clear in what we should do, it does not follow that because of this, there are no absolutes. If one were to say ‘there are no absolutes’ they would actually be saying, ‘it is absolutely true that there are no absolutes’ which is a self-refuting statement. The same is true for any statement such as ‘it is a black/white truth that nothing is black/white.’

“I happen to feel that the biggest problem with the Bible and religion is the same problem which applies to The Koran and The Torah and all religious ‘books’ and that is they are interpreted literally when they were meant to be interpreted metaphorically.”

You are correct that there is much misinterpretation, and this has caused a great deal of confusion and problems. However, most of the time the interpretation is quite clear. For example, when Jesus says “I am the door, if anyone enters by me, he will be saved” (John 10:9), we do not conclude that Jesus is made of wood and has hinges. When the Bible says Jesus walked by the sea of Galilee (Matt. 4:18) then we conclude that what it really means is that the literal Jesus walked by the literal sea of Galilee. So the vast majority of the time, interpretation between literal and metaphor is very easy and clear. The same is true of the Koran when it tells people to kill non-Muslims.

“Of course there are errors. The Bible, like all religious books was handed down orally for millenia before being written down and from the point of writing, were edited numerous times.”

Of course there are not errors. All alleged errors have good answers for why they are not. Most of the time I’ve found that the “errors” people claim are because they assume errors, then set out to find them. Instead, if we approach the Bible with an open mind, we find it is truthful and accurate, error-free. 

As for whether the Bible was oral before it was written, the statement above is clearly not true. Multiple evidences have been presented to factually disprove this claim….it is untrue by a wide margin. For a more detailed response to this, see the posts here,  and here, and here.  There are many more if you look.

“Everyone is subjective and that subjectivity, particularly given the patriarchal nature of the world at the time religions developed, has been transmitted to these books – including The Bible.”

If everyone is subjective and their statements are subjective, then the author of this statement is subjective, and therefore this statement is equally invalid. But somehow the people who make claims like this have found a way to see ‘how things really are’ and make an objectively true statement…..that everything is subjective. This statement is presented as objectively true for everyone, and is thus self-refuting.

That many societies in history have been patriarchial is a mere fact of history. However, this does not mean that 1) everything that comes from such a society is untrue, and 2) that this was psssed on to the Bible, especially in places where they directly quote Jesus. Further, if we really look at what the Bible teaches about women, it actually protects women and lifts them above the abuses in those societies. For example, the Old Testament divorce laws prevented men from passing women around like property; Jesus gave some of his greatest truths to women, and the apostle Paul named women as fellow workers, even going as far as to give his greatest letter, Romans, to a woman named Phoebe to deliver. So the accusation that the Bible in general, and the New Testament in particular, discriminates against women is patentlty false. It does just the opposite, lifting women to a level of respect.

“The reality is that there are many things in the Bible which are sourced in the petty minds of men and all the politics, powerplay and manipulations that involves.”

Some of this is indeed mentioned as accurate history, and rightfully condemned by the Bible. It does not teach that these things are proper and good.

“As a part of that subjectivity the word ‘virgin’ for instance in The Bible has taken on a meaning which was never a part of the original Aramaic where the word meant, not a woman with an intact hymen, but an independent woman – a woman who was not dependent on a man.”

Actually the word ‘virgin’ in Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek, means “virgin” just as it does in English. Not sure where this other definition came from, but I don’t think it was from the dictionaries or lexicons, which are the documentation of the languages.

“The word Amen for instance comes from the ancient Egyptian and and was their word for the Sun God they worshipped – as Christians now worship the Son (Sun) God today.”

uh….no.  The Greek word Amen is of Hebrew origin, according to Strongs lexicon. As for the “Sun/Son” analogy, this similarity only works in English, not any other language. 

“And the Lord’s Prayer has also been found in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. The spiritual teachings of Christianity, at core, can be found in the ancient Goddess religion, in Hinduism, Jainism, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and all religions and thus reflect the inherently spiritual nature of human beings. The teachings of Jesus for instance, in the main, existed long before he did – in the sayings of Mithras and numerous other saviour/redeemer gods.”

Sorry, untrue again. This is often repeated, but patently untrue, without a shred of evidence. For a more detailed response, see here, and here.

“I actually believe we all find our own way in our own way and there is not one answer for everyone – I also believe that our task in this world is to become more conscious and that requires a lot of questions, some answers, and a life’s journey.”

 What we believe must match up with reality, or we belive incorrectly. In this case, Jesus happens to disagree, see John 14:6. And I’ve never quite figured out how one becomes “more concious.” It would seem that conscious is something one either is, or is not. I do not know what partially conscious woud look like.

“Our Truth may not be the Truth of someone else but they are Truths all the same. You find yours in the person and teachings of Christ – I do not find my Truth there and neither do many others. Some find their truth in Nature, others in Buddha, Mohammed or numerous other religious figures or systems.” 

Actually, something is either true for everyone or its not. There are no truths that are only true for some and not others. What if some “find their truth” in something that is false? The ones you listed do not agree in fact, and cannot all be true at the same time. See here, and here.

“At core all of religions and spiritual belief systems say the same things. The teachings of Christ can be found in all religions, just attributed to others and the teachings of Christ can also be found in the most ancient of religions – Isis, Mithras and legions of other mythical and historical and semi-historical figures.” 

Actually, no. The teachings of Jesus do not line up very well at all with the teachings of other religions or cultures. Yes, there are a few common things (treat all people well), but the only way one can make a statement such as this is to only look at the things that are in common and ignore the differences, then claim that all things are in common.  No other religious figure claimed to be the unique God (John 1:1, 8:58), the only way to salvation (John 14:6). It can be said that all religions are the same as Christianity, except for their teachings on God, heaven, hell, sin, salvation, Jesus, and the afterlife, all of which disagree. For but one example, see here.  

“I suspect that in the next world, in fact as Christ said, what will be taken into account is not how much we believed, nor how often we went to church or mosque or synagogue or temple, nor how often we prayed – but how we lived our lives; how we treated ourselves and how we treated others.”

How I wish this were true, but it is not. In fact, the Bible says that where we put our trust now will indeed determine how we live in the afterlife. The Bible clearly tells us that Jesus is the only way (John 1: 12, 14:6; Acts 4:12), and that no amount of good works will get us to heaven (Ephesians 2:8-10). Jesus is the only way to heaven, and we cannot get there by going any other way. See Matthew 7:13-14; John 10:1-11.

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About humblesmith

Christian Apologist & Philosopher
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19 Responses to Common Questions, with Answers

  1. R.Ross says:

    I have to say I have found this exchange thought-provoking and I do apologise for length but it is an interesting discussion so I shall offer my response yet again.

  2. R.Ross says:

    You said: If when this says “everything should not be a part of ‘God’” it suggests that all of created matter (planets, rocks, trees, humans) is a part of God, then Christianity would disagree. What is made of matter is finite and has a beginning, and God is infinite and has no beginning, therefore God is not part of the created world of nature. Instead, the created world relates to God as a painter to a painting.

    I realise this is a Christian teaching but in terms of ‘sense’ it is problematic. If matter is not a part of God then God is not omnipotent – matter is separate from God and that means God is not all things. More importantly, in terms of modern physics all is energy, including matter, and energy cannot be destroyed, only transformed.

    And if God is not a part of this material world then what is the point of God? And how can God, if God is not a part of this created world of nature have any impact on us or this created world of nature? Surely if God is able to ‘act’ in and on this world then God is a part of this world?
    Next, regarding the makeup of humans, the Bible teaches that we are a spirit-body unity (see 1 Cor. 15). Both our spirit and body are what makes up ”us.”

    So that means we are not purely matter? We are, as I also believe, spiritual and material. The difference is I believe that the material emanates from the spiritual. And if God is spiritual and we are spiritual then how can Christianity believe that:
    What is made of matter is finite and has a beginning, and God is infinite and has no beginning, therefore God is not part of the created world of nature.

    Or does Christianity believe there is God spiritual and Human spiritual and our ‘spirit’ is a different thing to God spirit? That doesn’t make sense but can be the only explanation for God not being a part of us if indeed we are, as the Bible teaches, both spirit and body – spiritual and material.
    You said: Next, God is perfectly holy, but is also perfectly just. Humans have all sinned against this holy God (Romans 3:23) and God would not be just if he merely ignored our crimes against him. But the good news is that Jesus paid the price for our crime, and thus we can accept or reject God’s provision. So in fact God can indeed accept or reject people based on what they believe, but there’s more to the story…..the basis for that belief is not something irrelevant, but rather boils down to the core of who God is.

    So this God of this particular Christian teaching (Christian teachings do vary) is more like the worst, not the best of ‘parents’ who do not love their ‘children’ unconditionally but only love their children when they do what the ‘parent’ says, or demands? Bad parenting on both counts I would say. Surely Love is unconditional and if that is the core of who your God is then your God is not capable of unconditional Love – which seems rather at odds with an entity who is all powerful.

    You said: While it is true that many decisions in life are not very clear in what we should do, it does not follow that because of this, there are no absolutes. If one were to say ‘there are no absolutes’ they would actually be saying, ‘it is absolutely true that there are no absolutes’ which is a self-refuting statement. The same is true for any statement such as ‘it is a black/white truth that nothing is black/white.’

    I would agree with this statement but of course, it depends upon what the absolutes are. An absolute which says anyone who does not accept a particular religious teaching is doomed is a deeply flawed absolute given that human beings, with their free will, should have the right to choose what they believe, how they believe, or not to believe and, more to the point, some human beings are not mentally able to process such concepts and some have simply never heard them so why should they be punished?

    You said: You are correct that there is much misinterpretation, and this has caused a great deal of confusion and problems. However, most of the time the interpretation is quite clear. For example, when Jesus says “I am the door, if anyone enters by me, he will be saved” (John 10:9), we do not conclude that Jesus is made of wood and has hinges. When the Bible says Jesus walked by the sea of Galilee (Matt. 4:18) then we conclude that what it really means is that the literal Jesus walked by the literal sea of Galilee. So the vast majority of the time, interpretation between literal and metaphor is very easy and clear. The same is true of the Koran when it tells people to kill non-Muslims.

    But you espouse here a literal interpretation of the metaphorical which is only one form of interpretation. This is at the extreme end of literal as an interpretation – For example, when Jesus says “I am the door, if anyone enters by me, he will be saved” (John 10:9).
    If one were to interpret this metaphorically then this would say, or could say – Jesus as symbolic of numerous light-workers who want to help us discover or re-discover our spiritual nature is saying ‘these teachings I offer are the ‘door’, the ‘opening’ the ‘opportunity’ and if you ‘enter’ into the spirit of these teachings you will rediscover your spiritual nature and be ‘saved’ from your erroneous belief that you are purely a material being.

    And when the Bible says Jesus walked by the sea of Galilee, given that there is no historical evidence for a historical Jesus, one could also interpret this to be something which has been added to seek to create ‘facts’ for an historical Jesus which otherwise do not exist. There is in fact no single contemporary writing which mentions Jesus, which is odd, given his notoriety of the times. There is no evidence of Pontius Pilate executing a man called Jesus and yet others so executed at the time are recorded. The only mention of Jesus is in the Bible and that may be many things but it is not a reliable historical record although it may have some factual history in it.

    And given that most of the sayings of Jesus and stories about him can be found in much older religious writings, relating to other saviour/redeemers it is an indication that Jesus, rather than being historical was a composite.

    All is in fact interpretation and we choose which one makes most sense to us. However, the most important thing is not if Jesus lived but the teachings handed down in his name – at least at this time in history they are in his name.
    You said: Of course there are not errors. All alleged errors have good answers for why they are not. Most of the time I’ve found that the “errors” people claim are because they assume errors, then set out to find them. Instead, if we approach the Bible with an open mind, we find it is truthful and accurate, error-free.
    Nothing is error free and as you believe in the flawed nature of human beings, who are responsible for the writing down – hundreds of years after Jesus supposedly died – there is a goodly chance of an error or two. We also know that the Bible was translated numerous times and we also know that created errors.

    I know that Christians, like Moslems, Jews etc., believe that their religious books are sacred and inspired by God and therefore ‘without error.’ But I am not sure how this works with a Christian God who is not a part of this material world and yet is supposed to have been a part of this material world long enough to ensure the Bible was error-free!

    You said: As for whether the Bible was oral before it was written, the statement above is clearly not true. Multiple evidences have been presented to factually disprove this claim….it is untrue by a wide margin. For a more detailed response to this, see the posts here, and here, and here. There are many more if you look.

    From what I can see these links refer to the New Testament. Given that the Old Testament purports to record the beginning of this world it’s a pretty good bet that the method of transmission was oral, for quite a few centuries, until pens, ink and papyrus were invented. So there is no doubt that the Old Testament was definitely oral before it was written and while historical evidence may well be found to show the New Testament was written down sooner than thought, the evidence is not yet in! Beyond scholars in theological colleges one would need Biblical scholars around the world, the religious and the non-religious, to agree on the evidence because that is the only way that the greatest objectivity could be obtained.

    We see what we expect and hope to see and if theological scholars want one outcome and non-theological scholars want another then if they all put their heads together there is a good chance we will get a reasonable answer.

    You said: If everyone is subjective and their statements are subjective, then the author of this statement is subjective, and therefore this statement is equally invalid. But somehow the people who make claims like this have found a way to see ‘how things really are’ and make an objectively true statement…..that everything is subjective. This statement is presented as objectively true for everyone, and is thus self-refuting.

    Oh absolutely, but I am perfectly happy to admit to my subjectivity if you are happy to admit to yours. My view is that at the end of the day we all have to make up our own minds and that will be sourced in subjectivity. However, the more research we do and the more open-minded we remain and the less fixed we are in our views, or needy as to results, then the less subjective we will be.

    My position has arisen from a deep and long search through all religions as well as spiritual teachings, atheism, humanism, history and mythology – combined with a desire to understand human nature and our emotional, psychological, material and spiritual Selves and your position may well have arisen from a deep and long search through other religions and non-religious teachings and writing – I do not know.
    You said: That many societies in history have been patriarchal is a mere fact of history. However, this does not mean that 1) everything that comes from such a society is untrue, and 2)

    Of course it doesn’t and I never said that but the evidence of patriarchal bias and subjectivity is clearly seen in regard to comments made about women.

    that this was passed on to the Bible, especially in places where they directly quote Jesus.

    Interestingly the teachings of Jesus are generally not misogynist or sexist. In fact in the earliest days of the church women were equals and seen as such because of the teachings of Jesus. One area where the Bible has been seriously edited and re-written is regarding the role of women in terms of the teachings of Jesus and the stories about him. There is evidence that women actually were included as disciples but were written out later as the patriarchal age became entrenched.

    You said: Further, if we really look at what the Bible teaches about women, it actually protects women and lifts them above the abuses in those societies.

    No, the Bible approaches women from the perspective of virgin/whore. It does not protect women but imprisons them as subject to men. Or rather it seeks to. It’s view of women is patronising at best and prejudiced at worst. Women do not need to be protected nor lifted above anything – not if they are given their rights as human beings.

    You said: For example, the Old Testament divorce laws prevented men from passing women around like property;
    As they should have but women were still said to be subject to fathers, husbands and brothers! Discrimination of the worst kind. And the language used in the Bible in regard to the evil inherent in women is as bad as that in Hindusim, Judaism and Islam (although even the Buddhists who are not so bad teach that the presence of a woman pollutes an orthodox priest) and backward in the extreme. Where women appear in the Bible they are generally divided in theological terms into good or bad – virgin/whore – there are few real women described.
    You said: Jesus gave some of his greatest truths to women, and the apostle Paul named women as fellow workers, even going as far as to give his greatest letter, Romans, to a woman named Phoebe to deliver. So the accusation that the Bible in general, and the New Testament in particular, discriminates against women is patentlty false. It does just the opposite, lifting women to a level of respect.

    The only falsity is the fantasy that the Bible is held up as supporting women. They say the same thing about the Koran which is one of the most misogynistic religious books around although that was not actually where Mohammad wanted or said – again, translations, edits, re-writings and propaganda. What the Bible does is dictate to women what they need to do and be to be worthy of respect and that usually involves being subject to men and a variety of dictates on modesty, behaviour and responsibility.

    If women needed to be lifted to a level of greater respect it was because of the atrocities perpetuated on them by the patriarchal age. And if the Bible really taught respect for women why do fundamentalist Christians still hold to this backward view that the wife should ‘bend her knee’ to the husband, that he is the authority in the house? Such views are primitive, sexist and have no place in an enlightened society.
    You said: Actually the word ‘virgin’ in Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek, means “virgin” just as it does in English. Not sure where this other definition came from, but I don’t think it was from the dictionaries or lexicons, which are the documentation of the languages.

    As is so often the case, interpretation is everything. And, of course there is controversy over translations of the original Aramaic but this other definition has been known and discussed for decades. However, given its nature it is hardly surprising that those committed to orthodox Christian theology would not have seen it, or considered it as a valid option. Which of course it is and a far more sensible one than believing in ‘immaculate conceptions.’

    I take the view nothing is impossible but some things are unlikely. The Bible interpretation, based on its translation of virgin, of a young woman who never had sex giving birth compared to the alternative translsation of an unmarried, independent woman who could have sex, giving birth leaves the latter strongly in the lead! Then again, it is all irrelevant if there were no historical Jesus – you can make up or take up any story you like.
    You said: uh….no. The Greek word Amen is of Hebrew origin, according to Strongs lexicon. As for the ”Sun/Son” analogy, this similarity only works in English, not any other language.

    Strongs is merely one view amongst many. The Hebrew word is Aman but the ancient Egyptians are much older than the Hebrews, certainly in terms of adequate historical records, and the word Amen(Ra) means Supreme God. Given that the English Amen is a perfect fit for the Egyptian Amen it is logical to see ancient Egypt, a much older culture and spiritual source, as the origin.

    The Sun/Son analogy may or may not work in other languages but given that English has been the major language of Christianity for centuries it remains an interesting synchronicity. Carl Jung’s theory of the ‘collective unconscious’ goes some way to explaining such interesting connections.
    “And the Lord’s Prayer has also been found in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. The spiritual teachings of Christianity, at core, can be found in the ancient Goddess religion, in Hinduism, Jainism, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and all religions and thus reflect the inherently spiritual nature of human beings. The teachings of Jesus for instance, in the main, existed long before he did – in the sayings of Mithras and numerous other saviour/redeemer gods.”
    You said: Sorry, untrue again. This is often repeated, but patently untrue, without a shred of evidence. For a more detailed response, see here, and here.
    Your saying it is untrue makes it no more untrue than my saying it is true makes it true. This is a topic which could be discussed as infinitum and where there would still be two views. There is substantial evidence for all that I have said and looking at your links I am sure that a credible case can be put together for the opposite. But such a discussion would take far too long. Anyone who is interested can do the work for themselves, accessing not just sites which seek to support the Christian agenda but those which seek simply to access the history and mythology of this world. And in fact, it is in the mythology of the world, all of the world, that such saviour/redeemers and the same teachings can be found which says to me that we are one in terms of our spiritual natures.

    And I actually care more about the teachings than the teacher. One of the problems with some Christianity is that the focus goes on Jesus not the teachings. If more people lived by the teachings, whatever the source, the world would be a better place.
    You said: What we believe must match up with reality, or we belive incorrectly. In this case, Jesus happens to disagree, see John 14:6. And I’ve never quite figured out how one becomes “more concious.” It would seem that conscious is something one either is, or is not. I do not know what partially conscious woud look like.

    Well, what Jesus said or supposedly said is always open to interpretation and I never said he got it all right, just that the main gist of his teachings are enlightened. And no, conscious is not something one either is or isn’t except in the literal sense of being awake or being asleep although one can of course be conscious in dreams but I digress.

    Consciousness is awareness, when you observe your thoughts, words, actions, feelings – where there is an I aware of all that You say, think, do and feel. Many people rarely become conscious in this way and perhaps they do not need to do so – we can actually function quite well, as we do most of the time, through automatic responses and physiological functioning.

    You become more conscious by desiring to be more conscious and by then practising awareness. So, for instance, if you are in the middle of a conversation, verbal or written, you can become aware of what you are thinking and feeling as you write and if you are feeling an emotion, like rage, you become aware of that feeling but because you are aware you are not the feeling, and you can make a conscious decision as to what you do with that anger. When we react angrily without awareness of what we are doing, saying or feeling we are relying upon non-thinking instinctive reactions as opposed to conscious, aware responses. Learning to respond instead of react is important in terms of understanding who we are, why we believe what we believe, do what we do, say what we say, think what we think and feel what we feel.

    Being partially conscious is what all of us are all of the time. Becoming conscious more of the time means we can use more effectively and more rationally, the power of Mind.
    You said: Actually, something is either true for everyone or its not. There are no truths that are only true for some and not others. What if some ”find their truth” in something that is false? The ones you listed do not agree in fact, and cannot all be true at the same time. See here, and here.

    You have to make a distinction between material truths and other truths. But even with material truths, much which we consider to be a truth is a shared belief, as revealed in ancient spiritual writings and perceived in modern quantum physics. Things which are true for everyone in this material world are the effects of gravity for instance and we all agree, generally, within a particular language as to the truth of meaning of words, so yes, some things are true for everyone but many things are not.

    Research shows that ten people reporting an accident are likely to report very different things; six children in a family are likely to hold very different ‘truths’ about mum, dad or family life; a husband and wife may have very different ‘truths’ about their marriage and of course, there are many different spiritual or religious ‘truths.’

    All things can be true at the same time and they are. A son who is wounded by a bullying father has a truth just as his brother who is strengthened by the same father, whom he perceives as strong, has his own truth.

    All religious teachings at core say the same things so there are common spiritual truths it is just that they use different names, stories, dates, places to say the same things but the core truths remain.

    In essence nothing is false – it is a valid perception or truth at the time. The individual may well find the belief or experience was not useful, or constructive, or quantifiable but that does not make it less true. Science for instance has no way of explaining Near Death Experiences and would seek to explain them away but those experiencing them know them as a truth. Truth is in essence very much a moveable feast.
    You said: Actually, no. The teachings of Jesus do not line up very well at all with the teachings of other religions or cultures. Yes, there are a few common things (treat all people well), but the only way one can make a statement such as this is to only look at the things that are in common and ignore the differences, then claim that all things are in common. No other religious figure claimed to be the unique God (John 1:1, 8:58), the only way to salvation (John 14:6). It can be said that all religions are the same as Christianity, except for their teachings on God, heaven, hell, sin, salvation, Jesus, and the afterlife, all of which disagree. For but one example, see here.
    I said at core. You are citing the teachings of Jesus, whom I have already admitted, I see as a valuable teacher whether he existed as a literal human being or not. And many of his parables and teachings can be found attributed to earlier saviour/redeemer figures and in more ancient myths worldwide.
    I never said all religions have all things in common – patently not. What I did say was when you do the research it is clear they are all sourced in the same teachings and beliefs, albeit often overloaded with centuries of patriarchal and power-mongering tweaking.

    My exploration of Christianity never had Jesus claiming to be the unique God – quite the opposite. This was something invented by the Church. And you are right, Christianity is particular as to heaven and hell but this is also a theological invention which was not a part of the early church which in fact taught re-incarnation. Personally one of the most unsavoury aspects of Christianity is this theological dogma pertaining to Heaven and Hell and the fact that not all religions have resorted to such simplistic fear-mongering is a good thing.

    “I suspect that in the next world, in fact as Christ said, what will be taken into account is not how much we believed, nor how often we went to church or mosque or synagogue or temple, nor how often we prayed – but how we lived our lives; how we treated ourselves and how we treated others.”
    You said: How I wish this were true, but it is not. In fact, the Bible says that where we put our trust now will indeed determine how we live in the afterlife. The Bible clearly tells us that Jesus is the only way (John 1: 12, 14:6; Acts 4:12), and that no amount of good works will get us to heaven (Ephesians 2:8-10). Jesus is the only way to heaven, and we cannot get there by going any other way. See Matthew 7:13-14; John 10:1-11.
    But that is only because you are interpreting literally. A metaphorical interpretation, which makes much more sense, is one which gives both Jesus and God the capacity for compassion and love which we are told they possess despite the fact that they are, by your interpretation, hellbent on judging, smiting, punishing and condemning most of humanity, no matter how small, ignorant, illiterate, disabled, helpless, wounded, damaged or imprisoned they might be.
    A belief that one religious teaching has the answer to salvation is not only illogical it is vindictive and cruel. I don’t happen to believe in a God, should one exist, which I believe makes sense, who is vindictive and cruel, not to mention petty. If there is a heaven then everyone gets to go and the stories recounted by NDE survivors offer support to just that theory – it’s all God, it’s all Good and the only judgement made of us we make ourselves when we have passed over and where we re-live every single part of our lives and not only experience it but we experience the feelings of all others with whom we have had contact. Now, that is a judgement which not only makes sense but which is just. It is the lack of justice not to mention plain old-fashioned kindness in all religions which put me off in the first place.

    A metaphorical interpretation of the Bible is one with joy, love, compassion, humour, wisdom and hope and in fact the only one which has any kind of justice and reason. But that’s just where all my spiritual searching got me and these days God and I have a great relationship and I can only hope that your relationship works in the same way for you. To each their own.

    • humblesmith says:

      You have written quite a bit…..I will not have time to respond to all of it, but here’s a quick summary.
      1. God not being made of matter has nothing to do with omnipotence. There is no corelation.
      2. God not being made of matter is not a distinctively Christian teaching; it is held by many religions and is logical philosophically.
      3. God is indeed not all things…..that’s the whole point. He cannot be all things, for then he would be contradictions. This was the point I was making, which you did not answer, but merely re-asserted your original position.
      4. Further, God cannot be all things in the sense of being absurdities, such as a square circle. He cannot be holy and unholy at the same time.
      5. That matter can be changed to energy is not relevant to God not being all things.
      6. God is not made of matter, but that does not mean he is incapable of interacting with the material world, again like a painter to a painting. Just because God acts in the world does not mean he is made of matter, just as a painter can interact with the painting without being in it.
      7. How he interacts is something I cannot explain, since I am limited. I can’t explain electricity, either, but that does not mean it is not true.
      8. You have understood correctly; God is spirit. Man has a spirit, but also has a material body. Man’s spirit and God’s spirit are not the same.
      9. God does not love us like a parent, based on our behaviour. He loves us like a God, which is a different kind of love. But God is also just, and would be unjust if he merely allowed evil without dealing with it fairly. If God were to ignore human evil, he would be evil himself, or at best worse than the average human. God is loving, but is also a righteous judge who always deals fairly….he does not wink at evil.
      10. God respects our free will, so that he would not force us into his heaven against our will. Many people cannot stand to go to church for an hour a week…..what kind of God would force people to go there for all eternity? God allows us to spend eternity away from him if we want. But since God is good, we end up being away from good, away from light.
      11. Your statement about interpretation of metaphors cannot hold up in any normal sense of language communication. We simply cannot communicate if we insist on pouring our own meaning into the words. For example, the people who write the books about metaphorical interpretation expect us to take their books literally. You expect me to understand your words in a common way, otherwise I could say that all this time you’re explaining how to do gardening.
      12. I’m done for the day.

      • R.Ross says:

        It is very true that we speak a different ‘language’ and I am reminded of the saying ‘ divided by a common language’ which is a salutary reminder that even if we are speaking the same language, i.e. English, there are cultural differences in meaning and interpretation and never more so than when the topic is religion.
        We always pour our own meaning into words even if you do not accept this as either possibility or reality and no book is ever taken exactly as the writer intended. And if my words stand as a metaphor for garden as well as God well then that is absolutely fine and in fact one of the most apt and beautiful metaphors for God.
        I have some understanding of your God because that is the God most of us start out with, but I can see you have little or no understanding of mine and that really is okay. What matters is not that you understand my interpretation of God but that I do.
        And for me anyway, the real truth is that not only do I understand what I am saying but God understands what I am saying because God understands what everyone is saying (and why they are saying it) so really, it is all absolutely fine if we do not understand each other.
        Beyond God, what matters is we tried. One can do no more than that. Take care.

        • humblesmith says:

          Since we put our own meaning into words…………
          I am thankful that you’ve now stated that you agree with me, and you’ve said that all people will suffer in hell if they are not Christians. However, I cannot agree with you that they will go to hell because they are left-handed.

          • R.Ross says:

            A little humour is always good – I most definitely do not agree with you and in fact don’t believe in Hell so there is nowhere for anyone to go whether they are Christians or whether they are left-handed. The concept of Heaven and Hell is a human invention, thankfully, and a concept, even more thankfully, which is being seen for what it is and declining in favour within Christianity – which invented it in the first place. In an increasingly enlightened world even religious belief must become more enlightened.

      • wink windsor says:

        Good job Humblesmith.
        And you are very patient.

  3. R.Ross says:

    Apologies. I did differentiate your comments and mine and original comments from your post in different type but they have not copied over. But you know what you said so it probably does not matter.

  4. Ryan says:

    What kind of Christian am I? -

    http://brewright.blogspot.com.au/2007/02/what-kind-of-christian-am-i.html

    I suggest to read the comments as well, I found what I read quite interesting

    • R.Ross says:

      Yes, it is interesting and fits with my view that there is not one way – we are all different and it is important that we come up with a set of beliefs which work for us as we live a material life as spiritual beings.

      • humblesmith says:

        I’m sorry, but I simply and honestly cannot see how you can say the things you do and square it with Jesus’ words. In John 14:6, Jesus says “No one comes to the Father but through Me.” In Acts 4:12, we are told “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” In 1 Timothy 2:5, the Bible says “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Then, in Ephesians 2:8-9 we are told “by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” So the Bible says we are NOT saved by doing good things, but by God’s grace, through faith. Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

        I simply do not understand how anyone can take these verses seriously and come to the conclusion that the Bible teaches there is more than one way to God, or that God is all of us. We simply cannot pour our own meaning into someone else’s words and still have meaningful conversation. The only way I know that you can hold your position is that you disagree with what the Bible is saying. The Bible simply does not teach your beliefs.

        I realize you feel that your position is correct, and that is your right. But it is not fair, nor logical, to say the Bible teaches what you are saying. Whatever you believe, you did not get this belief from the Bible.

        • R.Ross says:

          You said: I’m sorry, but I simply and honestly cannot see how you can say the things you do and square it with Jesus’ words. In John 14:6, Jesus says “No one comes to the Father but through Me.”

          The message is flavoured by the patriarchal language. The same comment can be found in the Goddess religion – just mum, not dad. In symbolic or metaphorical terms this says that the way to truth or the source is through the teachings as represented by the saviour/redeemer whether Jesus, Mithras, Osiris or any other.

          You said: In Acts 4:12, we are told “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

          Reading the Bible one needs to bear in mind the level of propaganda at work in it and errors made purposefully and unconsciously by translations. Symbolically, ignoring the patriarchal tone it simply means that the only way to ‘salvation’ is through one’s spiritual nature. In other words, to be ‘saved’ from a purely material existence, one needs to follow one’s spiritual truth.

          You said: In 1 Timothy 2:5, the Bible says “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Then, in Ephesians 2:8-9 we are told “by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” So the Bible says we are NOT saved by doing good things, but by God’s grace, through faith. Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

          But this interpretation is because you believe words in The Bible are absolute, without fault and meant to be interpreted literally and I don’t. I could easily, an do, interpret the writings in metaphorical and symbolic terms but you would not accept that. I can see the literal interpretation which you use as well but it does not make sense to me – hence thinking outside the square.

          You said: I simply do not understand how anyone can take these verses seriously and come to the conclusion that the Bible teaches there is more than one way to God, or that God is all of us. We simply cannot pour our own meaning into someone else’s words and still have meaningful conversation. The only way I know that you can hold your position is that you disagree with what the Bible is saying. The Bible simply does not teach your beliefs.

          That is because you are fixed on a literal interpretation and I am not and you believe, as Jews, Muslims and Hindus believe about their sacred books that the writing is without fault. I believe none of this. What I hear or read must make sense to me. Much in the Bible simply does not make sense if read literally – more to the point it is mean-spirited, cruel, racist, sexist, misogynistic, primitive, lacking in compassion and unenlightened. So it seemed to me that what was wrong was not necessarily the Bible but how it was read and how it was interpreted.

          When I read Bible teachings, any spiritual and religious teachings actually, metaphorically and symbolically they make much more sense and the God they display actually looks, sounds and feels like God should – not like some neurotic, vindictive, narrow-minded and intolerant parent.

          You said: I realize you feel that your position is correct, and that is your right. But it is not fair, nor logical, to say the Bible teaches what you are saying. Whatever you believe, you did not get this belief from the Bible.

          Much of what I believe does not come from the Bible but that is only because I access all religious and spiritual writings and draw upon all of them. What I would say though is that what I believe can be found in the Bible – given that it pretty much says the same things, or offers the same spiritual teachings as all other religious writings.

          And that is the difference, I don’t read spiritual and religious texts to get what I believe – I read them to add to everything else I read so I can make up my mind how I think this world works and what my role in it might be. At the end of the day, I believe, these texts are merely sources of interest – the true path to God is within and beyond words, books or teachings.

          But that works for me – what you do works for you and that is as it should be.

          • humblesmith says:

            first, “In John 14:6, Jesus says “No one comes to the Father but through Me.”

            The message is flavoured by the patriarchal language. The same comment can be found in the Goddess religion – just mum, not dad. In symbolic or metaphorical terms this says that the way to truth or the source is through the teachings as represented by the saviour/redeemer whether Jesus, Mithras, Osiris or any other.”

            Perhaps you can tell me which goddess religion claims that there is only one God, and only one way to that God? Then proves their message by rising from the dead? (don’t claim Egyptian, for I”ve already dealt with their entire system, and it is NOTHING like Jesus. See here: http://humblesmith.wordpress.com/2011/05/08/was-jesus-a-copy-of-pagan-myths-part-2/ )
            As for being “flavored by patriarchal language” whether or not this is true has nothing to do with whether it is true or false. Further, as I”ve already shown, the bible is clear in that it lifted women out of and protected them from an abusive society.

            Next, “Acts 4:12, we are told “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

            Reading the Bible one needs to bear in mind the level of propaganda at work in it and errors made purposefully and unconsciously by translations. Symbolically, ignoring the patriarchal tone it simply means that the only way to ‘salvation’ is through one’s spiritual nature. In other words, to be ‘saved’ from a purely material existence, one needs to follow one’s spiritual truth.”
            My response: No, this is absolutely, categorically NOT what this is saying. You have made up what you want it to believe, and inserted the meaning in the text. I happen to know a bit about the original languages and the translations, and can state categorically that you are wrong. If you’d like to quote a source that can speak to the Hebrew and Greek, I’d be glad to respond. Otherwise, your beliefs are your own false illusions. The text says nothing about “our own spiritual nature” but rather of Jesus.

            Next: “But this interpretation is because you believe words in The Bible are absolute, without fault and meant to be interpreted literally and I don’t. I could easily, an do, interpret the writings in metaphorical and symbolic terms but you would not accept that. I can see the literal interpretation which you use as well but it does not make sense to me – hence thinking outside the square.”
            Response: With this, you are correct. I do indeed say that the language means what the words mean, the same as what the dictionary says they mean, and that I do not accept that we can make up the meaning as we go along, as you do. I already tried humorously to show how you cannot do this. For example, you do not want me to take your statements and pour new meaning into your words. Nowhere in life to do we do this, we cannot do it at the bank, with the police, or in doing business. But when we come to spiritual teachings with which you disagree, you change the meanings of the words. I submit that you are disingenuous.

            Next, “Much in the Bible simply does not make sense if read literally – more to the point it is mean-spirited, cruel, racist, sexist, misogynistic, primitive, lacking in compassion and unenlightened. So it seemed to me that what was wrong was not necessarily the Bible but how it was read and how it was interpreted.”
            Response: Perhaps if you have a specific passage that is in question, we can have a discussion. Otherwise you are simply broad-brushing the entire bible without any supporting facts. Plus, I’ve already dealt with much of this; you are repeating yourself, again without facts or support.

            Next, “When I read Bible teachings, any spiritual and religious teachings actually, metaphorically and symbolically they make much more sense and the God they display actually looks, sounds and feels like God should – not like some neurotic, vindictive, narrow-minded and intolerant parent.”
            Response: Perhaps you should align your beliefs to reality, instead of aligning your peceptions of reality with what you think ought to be there. Also, if you would actually read the bible, and do it with an open mind, instead of assuming what it says, you might find the love and tenderness, such as are in the Psalms. Have you read Psalms 30 to 33? Try it; they are quite beautiful.

            Next, “Much of what I believe does not come from the Bible but that is only because I access all religious and spiritual writings and draw upon all of them. What I would say though is that what I believe can be found in the Bible – given that it pretty much says the same things, or offers the same spiritual teachings as all other religious writings.”
            Response: You are correct in that your beliefs do not come from the Bible. But you are flatly incorrect that what the Bible teaches is the same as what is in “all religious and spiritual writings” for most of them disagree with each other. The Koran says Jesus was not God, did not die on the cross, and did not rise from the dead, the Bible says all these things happened.

            Your beliefs flatly disagree with the Bible, and I’m not sure whether you’ve ever even read it. Your beliefs are not based in reality, but in your own wishful thinking. I did not always believe as I do now….I had to adjust my thinking to reality, and I suggest you do the same.

            I will not continue forever to go round and round this mythical mulberry bush here on the blog.

          • humblesmith says:

            You provide no sources in verified ancient documents, so I have no way of knowing whether such goddess religions were modern inventions; further, with no proof, such as a fulfilled prophesy or miracle, that these religions were accurate, even if they are old, they should be rejected. Christianity has ancient documents and proof by fulfilled prophesy.

            As for Dionysus………sorry, but he was the son of Zeus, and paralled nothing of Jesus. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dionysus

            So with such made-up stories, and with no proof to go by, and the repetition of unreasonable, non-supported beliefs, I can provide nothing else for you. I am discontinuing this discussion.

            I hope you find the truth.

  5. Pingback: Resources for John 1:12 - 14

  6. Tony says:

    Ross, if there is no heaven or enlightened existence after death, than what’s the purpose..I’m dying of a terminal illness…What hope do I have…Ross, what do you believe, tell me there is something better than the world I exist in now…

    • rosross says:

      Tony, I never said there was no enlightened existence after death. I do believe we walk easily to the other side. I just believe everyone gets to go and I don’t believe in heavens or hells. I do believe it is a better place than here ….

  7. huheto says:

    Reblogged this on huheto.

  8. huheto says:

    Reblogged this on huheto.

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