Travel to Jerusalem and examine the words of Jesus that reveal the existence of God. Join host Mart De Haan and several authorities as they engage in a captivating discussion. Gain insights into reasons for belief and unbelief in God. Discover whether you have reason to believe not only what Jesus said about God, but also what He said about himself as being equal to God.
What Jesus Said About The Bible: Is It Just Another Book?
What Jesus Said About Who He Is, Life and Following Him
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David , you mentioned in your last comment dated Dec 22 — an inverse dogmatic singularity ” as if in the pejorative . you see that as counter evolutionary . on the contrary my friend , i view it as the glue that will bring about true evolution of the species from the inside out .
my message is one of specificity , not abstraction .
correct me if i am wrong but are you not remaining in the sphere of esoteric abstraction and thinking that that will in and of itself by some kind of osmosis bring us into a wider universe ?
if you are taking the osmotic view than i have to counter it with the Christogenesis view. my case goes thus : the exclusivity of the message and life of Jesus of Nazareth has in it the necessary component and operative power to unite the family of the human race into full inclusion . paradoxically –it is Christ’s exclusion that is ultimate inclusion . for his life when embraced is such a narrow path that it is as narrow as the universe .
if we say that there is only one key that can fit the lock on a door , and use that as an analogy , then there is only one key that can fit the heart of a man . for a lock is unique made for only one key not many. and we both agree that evolution is the name of the game for our species or we will destroy ourselves . so what i speak of is a practical as potatoes and as plain as a pikestaff . and that is this : let us have no more illusions that multiple keys will unlock man’s heart if indeed man was created by a loving divine creator . only one key can unlock it . that is its exclusive element . in that exclusivity is Archimedian point of the final inclusion of all things and beings into an a non technological but rather an organic Omega that fuses God –all beings –and matter into one hymn of the universe.
Rocket, I respect your passionate conviction. My concern is that a one size fits all solution to spiritual development, will stunt that development, & we’ll find ourselves extinct like any species that failed to adapt when its circumstances changed.
Your belief suits you, it works for you, so why the need to be evangelical? Is that the point?
We all like to think we can influence others, to see ourselves in them. But doesn’t this run contrary to the ecological argument for diversity as the spice of life.
A wise man once said something to the effect, that if horses believed in God, God would be a horse.
However we don’t see horses trying to teach birds how to run. Originality and difference are the heart and soul of creative existence. Life is life. Art is art. Should we discard all the great works ever created and extol one particular example, say the Mona Lisa, and declare it the only true image of perfection? Surely not.
Your Christ is personal, how could it be any other way? The difference between enslavement and freedom is self-determination. The privilege to choose. Its an old story that one man’s god can easily become another’s devil.
Isn’t it time we grew out of that error and accepted the realisation that truth speaks to us all in different ways?
Cooperation through tolerance is one way to live, conformity to fixed ideas quite another. I am a sceptic, and although I will listen to and try to understand any point of view, I’m not about to surrender my right to do so.
I’m not advocating this approach necessarily, but I’d be interested in your take on Richard Carrier’s work in progress presented here at a Freethought Festival in Madison back in April http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XORm2QtR-os&feature=plcp
David , allow me to answer as follows :
1.Evangelism –if one values truth it is cruelty to be silent about it if one claims to have encountered it . it is as cruel as not volunteering at soup kitchens and homeless shelters …and letting people starve and freeze .
2.the difference between enslavement and freedom is not a self initiated activity that comes about via a Neitzchean determination , but rather a response to divine revelation that can liberate our spirits.
3.diversity and unity operate in paradox. we dont have to choose one over the other .
4.any aesthetic analogy to the gospel and its uniqueness is ”an aesthetic impertinence ”( see my spoken video new article today on this blog called ”Kierkegaard reconsidered” ).
5. concerning free thought or the free thinking movement that came out of the age of Enlightenment , is it it any more enlightening ? is it really free thinking ? or should we take Oscar Wilde’s critic of it as just another amalgam of already existing ideas and theorys that makes not real free thinkers , but rather spouters of slogans and concepts that run contrary to truly being an individual . ?
I agree with you that my relationship with Christ is subjective and personal . yes indeed . but to the extent that it is real , all of this begs the question as to why God would withhold this wonderful re-birth from anyone else. My God is one of total inclusion . ..and shows no partiality . does it make any sense to remain quiet about such a loving Being like that ? the whole world is dying for that love . This Christ -virus is the cure for that gnawing emptiness that the world so desperately needs.
BTW — i would be interested in your take on ”Kierkegaard reconsidered ”… with comments below on that post. also , the links i found are real good .
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Two very different but not unrelated approaches, that offer constructive responses to our precipitous socio-political tectonic landscape ~ showing that secular action can deliver spiritual/humanitarian values
For example: could we envisage US military bases transformed into multi-polar staging areas serving civil order, as emergency contingency “down stations” deployed for the benefit of humanity rather than as offensive threats? Who really needs all these weapons?
David , first in regard to the Magi –i think we are basically on the same page as in regards to them being well rounded initiates on to something as if the universe was going to bring forth some kind of divine prodigy . one could say that thy were wise in a syncretistic way because of understanding the aggregate and zietgiest of that time .
Concerning the Persians: my studys of them indicate them to be Monotheistic people using fire alters to express thier relationship with a Su[preme Being without the need for icons . If the Matthew account is correct , and the wise men held to the Persian cosmology then when they bowed down to the baby Jesus , all of this begs the question as to recognizing the One cosmic Eternal Being unveiled into an ( as the Eastern Orthodox refer too…) an Epiphany –event .
Rewind – German Philosopher Karl Jaspers refers to a n ”axial period in history between the 8th and 2nd century B.C. ” –with a movement away from the many to the One .
1. Greek philosophy — seeking the substratum of all things -one unifying force
2. Hebrew Prophets — seeking the one moral force in all things
3. Zoroaster –one force spiritually
4. Buddha — moving away from the Hindu class system and the many gods into seeking the one .
the list goes on and on an on .
so ; is this all coincidence ? or can we see this as preparing the world mindset for the coming of the ONE …and view what Paul said in Galatians 4:4 ”in the fullness of time , God sent forth his son ” .
i don’t think it would be too presumptuous to at least entertain the idea that the Magi were wise enough in all areas of study in the Mesopotamian culture to understand ”the fullness of time”.
thanks for the links . a secular approach to these matters of peace and conflict resolution can be a stop gap that i would get behind , though i must warn you that i am adverse to utopian ideologies . i go for the practical as potatoes approach …to stop these nefarious weapons . i will be posting a piece i wrote at the first of the year on this blog about the dangers of the trans-humanistic movement and technological singularity as opposed to a real human bonding that is organic .
I’m totally opposed to this singularity (Omega) idea of de Chardin applied to technology ~ Kurzweil et al. I think this is really dangerous rubbish. Joanna Macy shared a brilliant insight in one of her TEDx talks: the idea that all presumptious GMO modification etc is based on the lunatic conceit that Nature is inadequate and we must therefore “improve” her.
This is precocious fascism plain and simple when we consider how little we really know, and what remains to be learned. Just take microbial life or so-called “junk” DNA, that is now recognised as an essential non-specific agent of cellular regulation. The overall ratio of the unknown to known (ie “mapped” or mathematised) is something like 48:1. So organic sounds pretty good to me.
I think I’m pretty well with you until we get to old Buddha, whose word anatta simply refers to non-self, no self. Britannica online says: anatta, ( Pali: “non-self” or “substanceless”) Sanskrit anatman , in Buddhism, the doctrine that there is in humans no permanent, underlying substance that can be called the soul. Instead, the individual is compounded of five factors (Pali khandha; Sanskrit skandha) that are constantly changing. The concept of anatta, or anatman, is a departure from the Hindu belief in atman (“the self”). The absence of a self, anicca (the impermanence of all being), and dukkha (“suffering”) are the three characteristics of all existence (ti-lakkhana). Recognition of these three doctrines—anatta, anicca, and dukkha—constitutes “right understanding.”
This is pretty sophisticated stuff, even by Greek standards. So, who really needs gods? unless they are a part of our sacred potentiality, and represent those deepest forces of Nature we can as yet only aspire to.
Must we fret so much over the distinction between the literal and the symbolic?
My only vestigial discomfort is that so soon as we attribute final determination to a christ absolute, as opposed to a spiritual heuristic, that is subject to modification and development, it becomes a type of inverse dogmatic singularity, that offers us no opportunity to change, evolve or mutate into a wider universe, whose temporal existence we may right now be totally misled over…
David , i think you may have misunderstood me — Teilard de Chardin is opposed to the brute force of technological singularity as a false Omega point because he see the Omega point coming thru Christ to an organic fusion of us coming into the eternal radial energy of divine love . when i post my article on this soon it will be very specific .
you ask — must we fret over the literal and the symbolic ? good question . on most things in regards to the literary import –no. but in regards to the proclamation of the ONE — yes ..by all means . what one discovers in the reading of the gospels is not only masterpiece literature that can be compared say to other masterpiece lit ( Christ like Hamlet avenging the ghost of the father ) ..but we also paradoxically see the absolute uniqueness an many dimensions in the character of Christ that is beyond concept , idea , and symbol …and suddenly a PERSON comes off the pages .
If we are persons , and we are , then why should we be so put off at the idea that the Eternal One that transcends all gods and notions of gods can actually become a person in a human body in order to bridge the gulf between man and God ? isn’t that what the Bodhisattva ideal is all about ?
Hinayana Buddhist ( the lesser vehicle ) have a harder time with this ideal than the Mahayana Buddhist ( the greater vehicle ) , because as we know the Mahayana
seek the Bodhisattva goal .
The professed mystery of the uniqueness of god as father and son is misleading. It simply will not suffice to dismiss the ancient theurgical formulae of classical Egypt on the preferred strength of a Romano-Hebrew precedent. That is merely parochial even arguably, a species of juvenile exceptionalism.
Osiris existed in antiquity and so did his son Horus, as did the Holy Mother Isis. Is this now in dispute because we should accept a Semitic saviour as the only politically correct option?
No matter what we believe, we cannot rewrite the hereditary mystical formulaic truths that are as much an integral part of our spiritual identity as our literal DNA. These are the living legacy of antiquity.
Respect is due to those who live their moral convictions through ethical acts. Belief is one thing, spiritual experience is another and cognitive understanding is a third, potentially mutual and reconciling force.
It is not a Gnostic/Pauline Christ that is the problem, but that shadow cast by a dogmatic obligation to accept the theological interpretation of vicarious atonement through a single redeemer, which eclipses all other paths to initiatory experience, that we must dispel.
If I believe something so strongly, that I must discredit the spiritual apprehension of another in order to justify my “faith” ~ or my disbelief for that matter ~ then I become an obstacle, not a gateway to esoteric enlightenment.
David , i figure you would be chiming in right about now pal . Where i see you and i differ in regards to basic Christology is yours is Gnostic and mine is Orthodox. Lets try and get to the deeper root of the different ways we think . Since we have been in dialogue , discussion , and debate , you seem to think more linear than me , and i think in paradox . Feel free to correct me if i am wrong but consider this : why can you not consider or even come to accept that God can and has become fully human in one part of time in history ? in other words the whole notion of the God-Man is in and of itself The Paradox. And a paradox is something that contradicts itself but is true .
What do i mean by that ? paradoxical thinking can say –”ok , its possible ”. If so then if divinity was fully human at one point in time , then the whole notion of sacrificial death motif with vicarious effecatiousness not only transcends ethics but also the entire history of the Gnostic paradigm. In the Second treaties of Seth , a famous Gnostic text we have a Docetist proclamation of Christ on his cross stating that his spirit was above it all and that he really did not suffer. Not only is this a clear cut dodge from paradoxical thinking , but not in the humanistic character of John’s description of Christ when Lazareth died , when those 2 famous words ring out ”Jesus wept”. Why did he weep when just minutes later the text said he raised Lazareth from the dead ? because his divinity was fully human .
Real masterpeice literature in the Theocratic age as well as any age operates in paradox . The Church Fathers who canonized the big 4 gospels were literary men . The Gnostics were not . They saw the gospels in the N.T. as being top of the line inspirational literature. You compare like Koester did in ”Ancient Christian Gospels” all of the extant gospels with the big 4 , and you will no doubt see why the Orthodox position is more literary and hence more paradoxical and profound . This is not to downplay the other gospels , but the narrative of say the gospel of Phillip can’t even come close to the narrative brilliance of the gospel of Mark .
one more thing : we keep going round and round about this copycat thesis of the Christ story from pagan lit . Maybe we should try a new approach at this. Raymond E. Brown wrote ”Birth of the Messiah”, and has a chapter on Zoaraster . One of the Persian Prophecys of his was that the ”Susuant ”( SON OF GOD ) would come into to Jerusalem , and crush evil and raise the dead”. Sound familiar? this was given 4oo years before Christ born and this prophecy was known in the Persian tradition . Even if one accepts it , this begs the question– How else could Christ crush evil since he did not fight a war of flesh and blood but rather a spiritual war? how was this done? it was done on the cross where his blood sacrifice cleaned the slate of the entire Karmic debt of the universe in which i myself have become a recipient and a first hand eye witness at the exact point of my reluctant conversion.
OK I get where you’re coming from, but I have to split a hair or two. First off, the Zoroastrian idea of saoshyant is one that evolved through time. As I understand it the source is the Avesta and so not directly attributable to Z. It can be seen to refer to any redemptive personality, or group not necessarily the one and only saviour of mankind. Any legitimate avatar(s) would qualify, like Krisna, or the Buddha Sakyamuni Siddhartha Gautama for example, the ecstatic adept/initiate we call Dionysos, or even Mohammed, if we need to bring the story back to Jerusalem and the Dome of the Rock.
There are as we both know, endless debates about the meaning of “gnosis,” & I tend to defer back to Plato’s coinage, but I’m not about to revisit that and as you said yourself, scholars like Jonas and Kurt Rudolph have gone to great pains already; so I certainly cannot plead greater expertise. What might be more useful though is the distinction that some make between the Hermetic and the Gnostic (Orphic) traditions. Also cf Algis Uzdavinys on philosophy as an active mystery rite, & Macchiorro on the esoteric Pauline legacy.
I think it is as yet too inconclusive to formulate a thorough evaluation of all the evidence.
It’s a bit like climate change, we may think we know what’s happening, until another significant factor is brought into the equation, that redefines the dynamics, like say Lady Drower’s work on the Mandaean Baptists, or long before that, Helena Blavatsky’s emphasis on the antiquity of the Druze and other yet more obscure sects. Or more recently the Flavian thesis of Joseph Atwill
As for your literary argument it is interesting, but isn’t it also problematic if we accept the notion that J C’s followers were simple men? Or are you suggesting that the “fathers” chose gospel writers for their uniqueness, who were really elaborating Paul, working out typologies, like the tropic archetypes associated with the zodiacal houses as some have concluded?
Prophecies in general are clearly self-fulfilling, if they are well known and someone decides to incarnate them in symbolic actions and words or to play out their part, not that I am suggesting self-sacrifice is necessarily an easy role. Many Jews died horribly that way. The Jewish Wars were a particularly violent & tragic period.
The paradox you refer to seems closely allied to Augustine’s position, even to the christology of Rudolph Steiner. But I would go further, and
tender it as a supernal rite of passage. Another gate to the greater mysteries.
So, as for the universal (as opposed to individuated) karmic view,(Orphic?) it may indeed be true for someone like yourself who has experienced such a profound conversion. But I am hard pressed to accept that there is much historic evidence of its general applicability, given the documented atrocity, destruction and vile behaviour of human beings across the centuries. That record of horror and pain scarcely makes a persuasive case for universal redemption, quite the contrary in fact.
David , the fact that the horror of what Mark Twain called ”the damned human race” is indeed the very reason why it needs divine mercy . For mercy would not be mercy if we deserved it . Therefore , i continue to propose the sacrifice of God crucified as the very demonstration of this mercy . For Allah is ALL merciful .
This conversation is good because it has goaded me to crack out my copy of Jonas definitive , and my notes i took years ago on the subject . one needs to always refresh .
The all importance of Paul . I think that this is where we can find some serious verifiable common ground .
1. Paul was a known quantity historical figure that even deconstructionist Bart Erman in his book ”Forged” stated that there are 7 of Paul’s epistles that are verifiably Paul .
2. Paul operated on a secret knowledge ( Gnosis ) that was not condemned by the other Apostles .
3.Paul’s epistles were the main influence for the canonical gospels .
4. Paul understood and articulated the paradox of the God-Man in the Kenosis ( emptying out ) in Phillipians ch two . He got the humanity factor of God .
5. The life of Saul to Paul from hater to lover of mankind as culminated in the ”tone” of his last 1 page epistle to Philemon shows an arc of evolutionary progress and that it takes divine mercy and strength over an arc of time to go to such an inner transformation . the trajectory of Paul’s life is an amazing template for what it means to be human .
conclusion : since the one question in life is ”what does it mean to be human? that all of literature , philosophy , etc ..is asking …we can see a glimpse in Paul just enough to look at the narrative presented in the 4 canonicals that go beyond just the profound sayings of say the gospel of Thomas . In other words –what concerns me is the narrative , the life lived forward but only understood backwards . This Gnosis i accept . The Gnosis that seeks to reject the human element (pre and post christian) i reject because it does not address the question of our humanity , and therefore leaves us with an esoteric abstraction . I was mired in the esoteric before my conversion and it did not fill me up or begin the process of the completion of my own humanity …to which i have a long way to go . in other words my conversion is the very thing that made me a humanist in the classical Erasmus definition .
David , back to the Persians and the Saoshyant . I would like ( and this time of year is perfect for this ) to see what you think of this : why were the wise men from the East in the gospel account so wise?
here is my take :
1. They understood the coming of the Saoshyant.
2. they understood Babylonian astrology
3. they knew the Hebrew scriptures concerning the Messiah .
their wisdom as Magi was that they fused them all together to worship this baby as the ONE . this goes well beyond any notion of an Avatar. The Buddhistic notion does not fit into that category because Buddha was transtheistic .
……. and Mohamed would never accept worship . Keplers theory of elliptical orbits and the conjunction of the planets every 900 years brings us back to 7 B.C. Herod died in 4 B.C. that conjunction could be the star of Bethlehem . of course none of this proves this conclusively, but all three things that made them wise has an accumulative effect that is at least plausible for serious consideration that Z was referring to Jesus of Nazareth in the Zend Avesta.
I appreciate your going further into this as it is all so interesting. Of course these are matters of interpretation when it comes to Zoroaster, whose antiquity is uncertain, but very ancient while the Avesta is a more recent tradition established long after he is thought to have imparted his allegorical moral chiaroscuro of evil and good, that underlies the redemptive idea. I think Byzantium acquired an immense amount of archetypal & “imaginal” inspiration from Persian eschatology, notions of paradise, heavenly realms, the cosmic man and so forth.
My sense of the Magians is that they were the Persian equivalents of Druids, deeply learned initiates;probably seers, astronomers, herbalists and musicians, who preserved and transmuted deep “shamanic” and archaic sacramental understanding.
Of course Barbara G Walker in her Womens’ Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, a tome well worth investigating, suggests that the 3 wise men of the gospels were actually the stars that announced the rising of Sirius ~ that critical time when the Nile brought fertility to the Delta.
The Pauline material is clearly significant, so I take your point about humanism.
Rock On , your comment was interesting and curious . I say that because when one encounters meeting and getting to know a person , it has always sounded strange to my ears that someone who has not encountered that same person but works off of hearsay or pre judged misperceptions , second hand rumors , etc.. might want to consider actually asking the one who met the person to get a first hand account , and then the inquirer can also have the benefit of meeting that person .
In this case the person is Christ . And when i encountered him alive 38 years ago i was very surprised that what i had thought about him in the past was all misguided . What i mean by that is that i had no idea that he was the Person who made the world . in other words , he is God supreme . ..the paradox of the God-Man that cannot fit into a common syllogism , but can only be revealed , and embrace by as an object of faith .
As you have stated you have a problem with the way it was written. The way it was written in narrative form is that he had power over all demonic spirits , he raised the dead , he took upon himself all purgatives of deity by forgiving sins , he received worship , and he stated that he was sinless and that ”Before Abraham was born , I AM ” . This is either a complete lunatic or God came in the flesh; Jesu Christo Domino , visited the earth and left footprints , and now it is up to each of us to accept or reject.
if it is the latter than that means that this higher power came and can live in us if we receive him. And though you are correct that we know a little about this entire universe , our tiny periscope is of perception is widened a great deal when we cross the threshold from unbelief to faith . This is why he was sent . this is the good news . this is at the heart of the Christmas story .
rocketkirchner, how, in fact, could you have met this man, if there really is no evidence of his existence at all. If it be that you have theoretically met him to accept the existence of him in your heart, that is certainly your choice for which you must have had invariable reasons to do so, but if, in fact, you met him in a physical sense, might you have had the decency to at least introduce him to a friend or member of the press or scientific world so that the faith thing could be trumped by reality? Perhaps you mistook thy presence as that of one you wished to meet, naming him Jesus, when thou was really Mithra instead. How might you have known the difference after all, they had the same birthday, were both born on the infamous date of December 25th and both died and were resurrected. How could your faith allow you to know which is which or whom is whom?
Rock On , see my article on this blog , that the good news of Christ is not a copycat of any pagan myth . it covers that area of the discussion pretty good . if you study the Zend Avesta you will notice in Persian mythology that Mythras and the Christ story have nothing in common . Also , in the cult of Isis , when Osiris is resuscitated he becomes lord of the underworld , but never gets up from underground . in the original Greek resuscitate is not the same word for resurrection . also , another difference is is that the early Christians were known to have proclaimed that Jesus actually bodily rose from the dead and from the underworld . this does not prove it is true , but that it is utterly unique .
As to my personal experience, many have tried to interpret it . this is indeed folly and very presumptuous . no one can interpret someone elses experience. i would never seek to interpret someone else’s experience no matter what their experience was in life. There is one thing about meeting a person is that you know that it is that person . As far as having the decency to tell others about this , i have done that since the day of my conversion . Being the most stubborn convert in the city of St. Louis , i know what it is like to be on the other side. it has always been an honor and privilege to attempt to live this gospel by helping the needy and taking a stand against war , volunteering in soup kitchens , visiting prisoners , etc.
you state that faith can be trumped by reality . mmm . in all my years of the study of philosophy being a skeptic that i am , when someone says ”reality”, the burden of proof is on them to prove what reality is . if one cannot prove what reality is then how can one know what unreality and delusion is ? what constitutes the measure of determining reality ?is” the rational the real and the real the rational ” as Hegel said ? in order to disprove an antithesis one must prove a thesis . this is basic dialectic thinking . at this juncture we run into serious philosophical problems such as seeking to use a priori reasoning or a postori evidence.
let us continue: a priori reasoning cannot reason to an absolute because of Godel’s incompleteness theorem. Also because of Popper’s falsification principle as seen in the Vienna school in the 1920’s. Now if one seeks to chose proof absolute of reality a postiori using empirical evidence one runs into another problem : Heisenbergs uncertainty principle . This principle shows that when we measure things , because we are the ones that are measuring it it can never be 100 per cent accurate . Headaches indeed . This is why the word ”reality” is avoided by most thinking men and women , and the words ”approximate almosts” is used instead.
In deal with basic epistemology ( how we know what we know ) what is left over after all these methods fail is the last alternative that Soren Kierkegaard refers to as ”the leap of faith ” .
Last point : as far as the controversy surrounding the question of the historical Jesus , in the 3 quests since Lessing began it in the 18th century till now ….all i can say is this is one you will have to take up with historians like Tacitus , Gibbon , Hume , Voltare , and many others , that though they hated the gospel alwyas affirmed the historical Jesus with the same conviction and accuracy that they did with the historical Julius Caesar.
I don’t believe he existed the way it was written. The higher power is obviously in the “heavens” as to me it is the entire universe of which we know only a limited amount