Monday, December 10, 2012

Dennis On: "Booking on Down Life's Road"

Booking on Down Life's Road

Dennis Diehl - EzineArticles Expert AuthorHow much of our belief is based on the contents of a book?  Torah, Bible or Koran...  How much of what most humans believe or practice  comes from a book?  How of much are OUR lives based on the experiences, real or imagined of OTHERS? How old are these books?  How long ago were the ideas,perceptions, views and beliefs of others written down?   For the most part, we'd have to admit that the religious views of how it all is, what life is all about, who and what a God is and what on earth it is doing, comes from the ideas of now long dead men, mostly, who simply filtered their world and experiences through the filter of their own times and perceptions.  By writing Books, we can adopt their Bronze Age ideas as our own and address our own fears, guilt and shame just as they did.  Whether we should do that or not is another question.

How quickly, when we read in a religious book,  "and God said to Moses," or "And God said to Abraham" or "Allah, praise be his name spoke..."  or "And Jesus said," depending on our orientation, think, "well, that's what God/He said to the man,"  as if it is an absolute fact.  Then we adopt the view as our own, if it is the Book we were born into,  because it was in a book and written down.   It's like magic.  We'd not learn and quote the Iliad or the Tibetan Book of the Dead the same way of course.  Those are not our experiences and we know that Greek gods were just made up or Tibetan ideas of death are just wrong.  Ours are real and right.  We'd not take seriously a genealogy that instead of having Rahab the Harlot in it had Rapunzel who let down her long hair as one of Jesus ancestors. 

Let's consider...

Who knew what God said to the Council of the lesser gods, when it said, "Let us make man in our image," or "Now, lest they eat of the tree of life and live forever...let us..."?  Just who recorded that heavenly scene?  Who taped that?  Is it not really just a story that is not only told, but borrowed from others , by men who want to tell a story that defines themselves? 

Who was it that just knew what Adam said to Eve or Eve to Adam in the Garden of Eden?  Who was there to write it down?  Did God take notes and pass them on to Moses?  Some would simply say, "yeah...that's how it happened,"  and would not have to think about it again.

 Who knew what Abraham said to Isaac just before he didn't cut his throat?  Who knew the words of Jesus as he prayed alone, all distant and all disciples asleep, just before  his arrest and being spirited away to a private hearing?   Did Jesus shout back as he was led away..."Hey guys!!!  Write this prayer down!"  Who knew the contents of Pilot's wife's dream about letting Jesus go?  That was a conversation just between them evidently.  (Actually it's a theatric gimmick used by the story teller.)

Who knew what a serpent (NOT, by the way, ever considered Satan until many centuries later when someone needed to formulate a good story about how we all got in such bad shape and write it down in a book), said to one person alone? Or a Jackass for that matter?   Who knew what God said to Cain alone or Cain to God?   Who told Moses all this stuff and, in fact, who wrote down all Moses private stuff?   (Hint:  the same guys who wrote about Moses body being taken by God and buried where it would never be found. Moses could not have written the account of his own death and burial.)

I think we can play the "who knew" or "who heard and wrote down" these many one on one conversations or even private thoughts thousands of times from scriptures of all religions.  And it is with simple faith or trust that we tell ourselves that it is not really just a story but rather a revelation or an inspiration, or really a God saying what they wanted to say or a prophet seeing and saying what he really wanted to share.  We say that because it's in a Book.

I'm sure in the future someone will say, "Well, it's in The Kindle."

Now we don't take books like Hansel and Grettle or Little Red Riding Hood quite as seriously.  We know that stuff didn't happen but we like the story.  Those are not  The Books, they are just books. 

Christians are pretty sure that no Allah really spoke to the Prophet and Muslims are pretty sure no Jesus really died for all the Christians.   Christians are very sure the Torah is toast because their man in the NT, Paul, said it was.  Of course others think those Christians are wrong because they can take the same book and man and make it  say other things that says it ain't necessarily so. 

Stories in books can be debated and argued with to one's delight  and utter insanity.  Proof texting can lead you in a thousand directions and they do in ALL religions that depend on ancient books.  It simply depends on who you read and in what order you read them.  Wanna obey the law?  Read Paul and Jesus.  Wanna do away with the law? Read Paul only and only certain books.

Did Jesus family flee to Egypt after his birth or did they go home to Nazareth a mere 40 days later?  It depends who you read.  Did Mary know who Jesus was before his birth or did she forget and come get him with her sons to take him away because he was nuts?  Depends who you read.  Did Jesus ride into Jerusalem on one or two animals?  It depends who you read and it really depends on how the one you read, read the original text in the Old Testament.  Did Jesus ascend to heaven after the dinner or did he ascend weeks later?  Depends who you read.   Did Paul really meet Jesus on the Damascus Road or was he called from the womb with no such meeting?  Depends who you read.  And so it goes.

Another problem with getting stuck with the truths or ideas of truths found is books is that we can never really know what the book said originally.   Remember, with the Bible, we have copies of copies of copies of copies.................and they weren't Xeroxed.    Did Jesus say "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle," or did he say, "it is easier for a rope to go through the eye of a needle." ?  You guess...   Did Jesus really say anything at all about that topic?  Who knows?  Being a book doesn't make it so.  Maybe someone just didn't like rich people along the way.

The facts are that no Moses really wrote the Pentateuch.  Priests did that and did so much later in time than the time presented in the Book.  In fact, it was competing priests who wrote and it all got mixed up into one.  There were a few Isaiah's all cobbled into one.  In Ezekiel it is a battle royal between Priests and Scribes for who did and didn't make true prophecies.  Isaiah is full of prophecies gone wrong.  That made the scribes laugh at the priests and the really ticked the priests off.  If you could inject a failed prophecy into a book, you could make the writer look like a fool worthy of death.

The names of the authors of the Gospels were affixed decades after the originally anonymous books were written to give them credibility.  Peter was not written by any Peter and no Paul actually wrote the letters to Timothy or the Ephesians and probably not Colosians either.  Those books were written much later in the "how do you run a church" times rather than about  issues that would arise in Paul's lifetime a mere ten to 30 years after Jesus. They are Second Century concepts, not First. 

No Paul wrote Hebrews for sure as whoever did rarely talks about themselves if at all.  Paul often talks nothing but about himself using "I" very often.  James doesn't have to be Jesus brother James and the John of John, I John and Revelation can never be proved to be the same person or disciple of Jesus.  These are all assumptions most are comfortable making to keep the story coherent. You can never know for sure and is the stuff of faith I suppose.  Faith is what we plaster up our walls with until we get the facts.

And lastly, for now, we get so offended thinking that someone like Herbert Armstrong, GTA, Gerald Flurry, Dave Pack, Rod Meredith, Joel Olsteen, or thousands of other Christian Lone Rangers seem to know it all and speak on all things as if they knew.  But that's how the Bible, the Torah and the Koran function too.  It is just that it is easier to believe the one lone man's view if it is in a book thousands of years old than it is to believe someone who we know or are contemporary at least. 

The entire  Christian truth of life , death, God, Jesus, Satan and the Wonderful World Tomorrow are the product of maybe seven to ten men mostly unknown and mostly Paul in the New Testament.  Strangely, Jesus wrote nothing.  Jesus is simply written about and others tell us who he was and what he did and said.  Hearsay mainly when you think of it.

Moses could have been a sociopath for all we know but we can't know.  Isaiah and Ezekiel just may have had Schizophrenia or Jeremiah Bi Polar Disorder or melancholy, but we'd not know that.  They'd not know that nor would the people who were intrigued by their behaviors know that!!!   Paul may have had temporal lobe epilepsy for that matter hearing voices and seeing lights in his head, according to Luke, or not, according to Paul.  Paul may have had out of body experiences and visions that being in an old book seem ok but if Dave Pack said he had one, we'd laugh our asses off, and call for medications not congregations.  

The character in Gospel Jesus may have had issues with not knowing who his real father was.  Maybe when pressed as a youth Mary just said "God is your father," and the rest of the story stems from a genuinely human being struggling with abandonment issues.  We can't know from a Book.  We weren't there and saw none of this or knew anyone who did. 

Remember, no one goes to the hospital to see the birth of a later famous person.  Fabulous Birth Stories are made up AFTER the adult becomes famous and bear no resemblance to the truth.  All Caesars and gods are born of virgins, get visits from Wise Men and are found under a "star."   Even Yassir Arafat claimed to be born in Jerusalem for credibility when , in fact, he was born in Cairo.  It's how we tell our stories.

But some books are magic and evoke powerful emotions.  Just this week in Georgia a woman hung the dog of a neighbor that chewed up her Bible.  No joke..she hung the dog who chewed up her Bible.  Had the dog chewed up her copy of "How to Win Friends and Influence People," the dog would have lived.   I think we know where  burning a Koran can get you.  Burning "Ali Babah and the 40 Thieves" not so much.

The bottom line is that all major world religious views about the who, what, where, when and why of God and life is left in the hands of a very few men who are said to have lived lives thousands of years ago, had experiences with the gods and written them down as truth which led to copies of copies of copies of copies of it all.  On top of that, at times we can deduce that the writings are not actually those of just one man or of the man whose name is affixed to the book.

The Book also has contradictions, mistakes and boo boos.

What would it be like if every time someone wanted to know what life was all about , or what may happen after death, we didn't feel the compulsion to go back to a Bronze Age Book filled with people somewhat like us but somewhat not like us at all?  What if every time you had a spiritual thought or scientific fascination you did not have to filter it through the Bible, Koran or Torah for verification?  How nice not to have all of earth's geology and formation not filtered through Noah's Flood or the craters on the moon through Satan's rebellion. 

Would it be so bad if we could get away from "The Bible says...", "The Koran says..." and "The Torah says..."?  

It's kinda like hot dogs.  If you really could see and understand just where they come from and how they are made, you'd not feel so compelled to serve them as if that was all there was to eat.  You'd probably feel better and not feel so limited in your allowed tastes and perspectives. 


Anonymous said...

I remember in WCG they sometimes said that the Bible might have new books written in the future. I sometimes imagined I myself might write a book that would be put in the Bible. Is it possible? in the end it made me scared to write.

For a big part of history ordinary people couldn't even read and they just had to believe what they were told was in the Bible. Doesn't seem like there is much improvement now we can read it. Just wonder about those people who spend all their lives studying the Bible and translating it from ancient languages. Is it a good use of a life. Probably just as good as writing software that becomes obsolete, or cleaning things that get dirty again.

Then there are people who claim to be religious but never read the Bible and don't worry about it and are nice people and go to Church maybe twice a year, and just look bored when someone tries to argue about the Bible or Jesus. Isn't that the way to be? Why do we have to jump off cliffs or know the truth? or kill people who don't follow our god?

Anonymous said...

For many, the Bible is a magic book, straight from God.

For the persons who want to believe it's inerrant or godly, they can simply believe there are layers and layers and layers of meaning in any given part of the text...and....PRESTO-CHANGE-O...!
Suddenly it's saying whatever they want it to say!


Anonymous said...

My Comment on Dennis’ view:
The whole article is based one fact that is quite obvious. This fact is that Dennis based his belief in God on other people’s belief in God. He has not considered that there is a real God who is an intelligent being with the power to create who originated the universe and life. To him the origin of the universe and life is a chemical process that eventually developed into intelligent life. If this is true then human life is probably doomed for total destruction.

If human beings invented God the it shows there was greater wisdom it previous generations than exist today, but if there is a real intelligent being defined as God the who knows in biblical recordings is God. It is not unreasonable to believe such a God can inspire people to think, speak, and record documents with knowledge regarding the expectations of human life.

Faith doesn’t come from reading the bible it starts with the belief the universe and human life is the product of an intelligent being with the power to create has always existed and will always exist. If we cannot believe this we really have nothing offer that is useful to our finite human existence.
A. Boocher

DennisCDiehl said...

Mr. B said"

"This fact is that Dennis based his belief in God on other people’s belief in God."

Really? And when one reads the Bible or Koran or Torah, whose beliefs in God are they adopting?

That made no sense. Everyone does that.

I have considered more than you can possible imagine. I still do and always will. Of course a "god" can inspire people to write but when one examines what the writing says, where it comes from really, the politics, the mistakes and contraditions, one has to wonder what kind of inspiration that actually is.

DennisCDiehl said...

A strange kind of inspiration unknown to most who endeavor to inpire.

And no, I am not an A-theist. I feel A-gnostic just not having the confidence to know what I can't know , never experienced, wasn't there for and wasn't said to me.

I don't believe that is an unusal view for those who don't just take the word of others for truth.

Books force the reader to experience religion and truth through the eyes and experiences of others. Some recent, some eternally in the past.

We say "experience is the best teacher, but the tuition is high." So be it. Experience is the only teacher and the rest is hearsay. I would hope a Deity would understand that and help us out here.

Just show up. Don't speak through bushes or long dead middle eastern men. Just show up and be nice, patient , gentle, meek and long suffering. We'll listen I promise.

Assistant Deacon said...

"He has not considered that there is a real God who is an intelligent being...."

Again, is this a humor site and I just didn't realize it?

DennisCDiehl said...

anon says:

"He has not considered that there is a real God who is an intelligent being...."

Again, is this a humor site and I just didn't realize it?"

To say that someone has thought about or has not thought about, considered or not considered this or that is about as judgemental and "haven't walked in those shoes" as one can get.

Of course I have thought of these things. I think too much at times about these things which is why I write about these things to get feed back about these things to understand better these things which may never yield themselves up to being understood. :)

DennisCDiehl said...

I'd like to challenge all WCG ministers, splinters and slivers alike, to face the Bible head on. Get out of your own booklet box and read about the how, when and why of the Bible you never knew possible.

Forget your Rod Meredith "Harmony of the Gospels" class. There is none and RCM never read a book about the Gospel origins and contradictions in his life. Many WCG/COG ideas about Bible study is to read it outloud and then comment on it. That is not study, that is reading.

I remember once asking a question , in class, about what seemed to me a contradiction in the Gospels in that class when I was 18. RCM made fun of the question and acted as if he had answered it. Therein may lie my then subconscious desire to ask questions now conscious and let BS answers suffice.

DennisCDiehl said...

oops, "not let BS answers suffice."

Retired Prof said...

A. Boocher says, "It is not unreasonable to believe such a God can inspire people to think, speak, and record documents with knowledge regarding the expectations of human life."

It is, however, unreasonable to believe that such a god was unable to create A) a clear, unambiguous text expounding the "same knowledge regarding the expectations of human life" to everyone he created in all societies that ever existed throughout both prehistory and history and B) people who could read that text without misunderstanding it or disagreeing about it. The fact that your god failed at both A and B suggests that your god is not omnipotent but impotent.

Douglas Becker said...

But none of this addresses the theory that only the Roman Catholics wrote the New Testament -- in which case, even the Apostle Paul would be imaginary.

On the other hand, belief in God would not necessarily demand a belief in the Bible if there were a God who revealed Himself to each person individually in his or her own special frame of reference.

It could happen.

One thing is certain, the Koran is out, but fortunately I don't have a copy, so I won't get into trouble burning it because I cannot burn what I do not have (this runs contrary to modern economics, however, in which Wall Street jackals really can burn money they don't have).

DennisCDiehl said...

Religious books are codified opinions, views and real or imagined experiences that are supposed to mold and fashion the faith and minds of people who are just supposed to believe that it all happened in a real way, in real time, by real people really.

If I am told, "And the Lord God said...." I have NO WAY ON EARTH to verify that. Now...if a voice on high says to me, "Dennis, you stupid little Sheissmeister, listen to me," I might pay attention. I might also tell a counselor or psychiatrist not sure.

When millions believe the unbelievable, it is called a religion more than not. When one believes the unvelievable, it is called a delusion. You know...when we talk to to God it is called prayer and when God talks back, it is called Schizophrenia.

This is a funny place to live. Off to rub someone the right way I hope..... :)

DennisCDiehl said...

I had to be comment 11/12 on 12/11/12 at 12:34 because I missed 12:12 and 11:12

Byker Bob said...

First, I love the illustration. The late '30s to '40s hot rod fits right into my earthly interests.

Secondly, you can say a lot about the Bible. Most of what Dennis has enumerated is available on all of your garden-variety atheist sites, although I respect that Dennis is agnostic, and not atheist. There is some mutual sharing back and forth, although most atheists will tell you that since a-theist means without God, and a-gnostic means without knowledge, (or not knowing), that functually they end up being the same. Many religious folk will agree with the atheists on this.

I'm not going to debate the issue as to whether the Bible is what it states it is, because that is largely beside the point. The fact is that the Bible contains so many excellent life principles, in fact, principles it shares in common with the works of some of the cream of the philosophers and teachers who have influenced humanity throughout history.

At one stage of my agnosticism, I used to reassure Christians that they could trust me because I practiced "Christian ethics". By this, they were able to know that although I was not living in a "saved" condition spiritually, I was not going to persecute them, screw them over, or try to seduce their wives. Later, when I became Christian myself, some of them told me, "Bob, the thing that endeared you to us was that you always had a good heart!" In fact, that quote came directly from a minister.

Probably the reason many ACOG alumni feel threatened by Christian people is not because they are hurting or damaging them, but because of the ways in which Herbert W. Armstrong always seemed to be able to inflict severe damage, or the perception of damage, through what he misnamed Christian teaching. It's this remant fear which still yanks a lot of peoples' chains, and that fear is largely a function of our own HWA-fueled imaginations.

Unless Christians suddenly took a page of Sharia-enforcing Muslims, and began setting up Puritan like theocracy across the nation, there is really nothing to fear, either from them, or from the Bible. Christian teaching, in most cases actually enhances life. You know that there are certain lines that an observant Christian will not cross (although there are also a handful of weak ones or even the occasional outright hypocrite or charlatan). A Christian is capable of being a better, more loyal and honest friend. His or her Bible thumping may occasionally get on your nerves, but at least you know he's not going to copy the numbers from your Visa card to rent some explicit films!


Anonymous said...

The Bible whatever it may be is a historic memoir of the times it was written. It was written by males and most likely for males. Look at the role of women in the Bible, temptresses, whores, being stoned and later being told they better obey men and keep quiet in Church. Pretty hard to take. Oh I know there is that woman in proverbs we are supposed to be like who was so virtuous and went around arranging her husbands affairs and even bought a field. The only escape from boredom and obedient domesticity is the thought that in the Kingdom there will be no sex...../gender?
Funny that Jesus actually seemed to have friendships with women and female followers. Was Jesus the most liberated male in the Bible? and did he have sex? ever? and if not.....should I say any more.
The best thing I heard about the Bible is that it is a warning from God that we better not go back to OT conditions.

As for BB comments that Christians are more honest and trustworthy than non-believers. He is living in a fantasy. The newspapers are filled with stories of Christian groups where one member defrauded another in such things as investment scams and real estate deals. Do people automatically trust someone when they say they are a Christian? If they do they should be careful, look at the mafia, aren't most of them Catholic. Look at WCG using tithes for whatever they used them for. It is hard to be religious when you see so many living in fantasy worlds.

Byker Bob said...

Anonymous, knowing that someone would make a comment or observation similar to the one you made, I inserted a parenthetical expression, warning in advance that there are some bad apples in the Christian barrel. Most are sincere, but the violators seem to do a disproportionate amount of damage. Fortunately, one thing I learned from my WCG experiences is that there are always those for whom you will need to do your due diligence, and watch out! In fact, in some cases, you'd better make sure your butt is covered up and inaccessible. In best form, a Christian will be leaving himself vulnerable to the good ones, and girding up his loins against the bad examples. The New Testament instructs us to do as much.

As far as women in the Bible go, you are correct, both about the way they were treated in that culture, and the ways in which Jesus seemed to defy that culture, looking forward to much better conditions for women.


Anonymous said...

The case can be made that "God", who did not marry Mary but is claimed to have impregnated her in his ONCE ever sexual encounter committed fornication with a minor. But you can't think that

It is how the story is told unless you want to add "by the holy spirit" as a third person of the trinity

Allen C. Dexter said...

"Faith doesn’t come from reading the bible it starts with the belief the universe and human life is the product of an intelligent being with the power to create has always existed and will always exist. If we cannot believe this we really have nothing offer that is useful to our finite human existence."

If that "intelligent being" is so great and so powerful, how come its so invisible, undetectable and so silent, except in fanciful tales by bronze age uneducated and ephemeral literary productions? Anything that created the universe would be so much more magnificent than whatever it created is that it would be inescapably obvious.

All I have ever gotten is the ephemeral certification that gawd was somewhere "up there," which comes from the imaginations of primitive people who peopled "up there" with all kinds of imagainary entities.

We can now see over thirteen billion years back into "up there." Guess what? Aint nobody there. Just galaxies, dust clouds, super novae, dark matter we can't see (yet), dark energy, etc., etc.

Wish I were young again. Quantum physics is where the real action is.

Anonymous said...

well said Allen

Anonymous said...

One scripture I remember (no idea where it is) is about God not being the author of confusion. Well, when it comes to the Bible, who is? There is the Catholic church, Russian and Greek orthodox (and maybe others) churches; there are the many Protestant denominations, the former WCG and all its splinters and offshoots, all believing their interpretation of the Bible is the right one. I ask, along with others here, if a one true God had inspired the Bible, would there be all this confusion?


Anonymous said...

Here's the rub, Meighen. In old school WCG, diversity was often mistaken for confusion. It was as if they thought lack of confusion meant becoming a robot or yellow pencil. Assuming there is a God, the earth would have to be complex enough to hold His interest, n'est ce pas?

~Miguel de la Rodente

Corky said...

If you can't prove there is a God, anything that Book writers have said that this God did/does or said/says is moot.

That those things written in those Books called the Old Testament are god-breathed is just the opinion of the men who said so.

Did Jesus return and destroy the "beast" known as the Roman empire as promised? Nope. Was the Kingdom "at hand"? Nope. That's all you need to know to know it wasn't "inspired" by any god.

Head Usher said...

There are so many contradictions within the bible, both internally and between the bible and reality. Once you take the blinders off which prevents followers from perceiving the bible could possibly have any errors or contradictions, the bible becomes quite a messy mashup. I'm still having to consciously throw out bible truths embedded in my brain that deny reality, just so I can accept the world as it is, instead of how religious people think "it has to be."

It's also nice not having to be judgmental all the time anymore, constantly rejecting everyone and everything around you in order to keep from getting tainted with their "sin." It's so toxic to relationships, resulting in so much fighting and bad blood. And over what? Nothing at all.

I'm not saying there's nothing good in the bible, but it's just as much a mixture of good and evil as HWA&Co. always told us the world was. The bible extolls the virtues of just as much wrong as it does right. It's nice to be able to accept the good parts and leave the rest behind, since there's nothing supernatural about it, but merely written by a few men.

UT, The Reigning Being of Being Banned by Banned by HWA said...

Jacob drew life from seeing God face to face when no man can see God and live.

Jesus said that unless a seed dies it cannot lead to life for many while we know that a seed is not dead when planted.

Readers who just read and accept what they read remain ignorant, whether they're reading the Bible or a commentary on it.

The most enlightened authors demonstrate they truly understand a contrary viewpoint and then attempt to dismantle it. Otherwise they only rough up what they thought was the opposing opinion and then depend on others to not know they missed their target.

The reader's task is to grasp both viewpoints and weigh, taste, or breath them.

One can be widely read while also seeing God face to face and being that dead matter brought to life.

Seeing the apparent contradictions or mistakes of the Bible is a good thing.

Living through them is better!

For us, the Bible is Living Word and the Kingdom is at hand!

Anonymous said...

My comments are not made to convert anyone to the Christian faith nor do I claim to be smarter than anyone posting here. It appears to me attacks on the bible fail to recognize that Christianity is a religion that is built on the faith in the existence of a higher intelligent being than human beings. The Bible is believed to be this intelligent being’s revelation of itself. If we do not look at it from this perspective we cannot claim to be Christian. To destroy this approach to the bible destroys Christianity.

The God of the bible is revealed with many faces and an emphasis on perfection in love and justice. The writings are perceived as inspired and presented as God’s will for human life. It is a story about human life and a process for moving humanity toward the development of a perfection that will make human life a desirable existence for eternity.

To the Christian God is perceived as an eternal intelligent being that is the source of everything that exists. The human race is perceived as a physical model of the image of God (a being with self-awareness, intelligence etc.) and our human existence is an ongoing experience that gives the opportunity of learning what is right and what is wrong.

The redemption story shows how a messed up life can be renewed and started on the road to success. The resurrection story gives hope for life after death and the hope of eternal relationships superior to those experienced in this life.

I know this is an oversimplification of Christianity, but it will serve as an example of my view of the importance of faith in God and the Bible. Christianity is built on the existence of God and the bible is seen as the recorded thoughts and ideas of people who are inspired by God. If the bible and its redemption story is fiction and we are no different than all other animal life on this planet there is an enormous mass of people who will experience suffering without hope.

To me these biblical stories have led to positive experiences for many people through many generations and they still have a message of hope that those rejecting God’s existence will find difficult to understand. It is difficult for me to see how the degradation and destruction of the source of the beliefs that are foundational of Christianity will benefit the unbeliever.

I do not believe some of the approaches here will make WCG ministers better Theologians nor do I believe they will change the views of competent Theologians, but it appears to me they can contribute to the destruction of Christianity and cause people to look at other religions as an option. I am not excited about the nation being Islamic.

A. Boocher

Douglas Becker said...

For better or worse, the Bible is the foundation of Western Civilization.

Hector said...

UT, why do you comment here under the moniker of being banned from commenting? Seems a little absurd, don't you think? Anyway, the human mind is capable of distorting reality such that any viewpoint imaginable can be "dismantled," without regard to the evidence. I survived the contradictions and mistakes of the bible. I lived through the holy, god-sanctioned abuse of christianity. Now that I've left it all behind and I'm out the other side, you're right, it's better!

AB, in my experience, christianity was a negative experience. My story shows how a life that has been messed up by christianity can be turned around and started down the road to success. Jesus is okay actually, it's all of his followers I can't stand!

Anonymous said...

Hecter said: AB, in my experience, christianity was a negative experience. My story shows how a life that has been messed up by christianity can be turned around and started down the road to success. Jesus is okay actually, it's all of his followers I can't stand!

Hecter this is a problem I have dealt with most of my life. I did not commit my life to Christianity until I had an intellectual understanding of what the bible teaches as expected of a Christian. I was 28 years old when started my spiritual journey with Radio Church of God. In looking back I see that the teachings of the group at that time focused on Old Testament customs, which is the foundation of the New Testament. My spiritual journey with that group opened an understanding of the historical progression that led to a better understanding of what the New Testament was teaching and the path that it had taken to reach certain points in history.
In all of this I was focused on what the bible teaches that will make life better and improve the relationship we have with other people. My motto in business and family (and Church) is don’t tell me how to live just show me by being a living example and I will choose if your way is suitable for me.

One of the difficulties with this motto is the inability of applying it without physical contact and words have a way of being misinterpreted. One of the problems with using scripture is diversity in interpretation so my approach is to do the best I can and leave the judging to God (or those who enjoy such a burden). Even that seems to be misinterpreted.
Of course I may be totally wrong in everything.
A. Boocher

Assistant Deacon said...

"It appears to me attacks on the bible fail to recognize....

Lots of failure going on in everybody else's posts, eh, Anon?

Byker Bob said...

Erroneous approach can set off a cluster of problems. Take, as an example, approach to church.

You could, 1) Look for, or pretend you have found, the one "true" church, accept the "fact" that its officiating human is an apostle or prphet, and allow complete and total intrusion into your life and dominance. While this may have been possible during the time of Moses, the time of Jesus Christ, and select other Biblical times, it is most certainly not true today. The failure of such a path is what has brought most of us to the point at which we exist today.

You could 2) Realize that God works on an individual level, transforming the heart of one Christian at a time. Look for people who are doing God's work, preaching Jesus Christ, but realize that nobody but God knows or has 100% truth. Support, and attend as your God-given conscience allows, but realize that a relationship with God is personal, and have faith that He will accomplish in your life what He has planned. This is a matter of personal responsibility between yourself and God; your minister will not be standing next to you as a kind of spiritual defense attorney as you give an account for your life on judgment day.

Some of life's lessons are hard-learned, and come at a considerable price. I really wish I had learned this particular lesson much earlier in life.


Douglas Becker said...

I'm slowly removing fantasy myths from my belief system -- for example, I have finally realized that virgins just don't exist.

Anonymous said...

"If we cannot believe this we really have nothing offer that is useful to our finite human existence."

I agree. Faith in a supernatural creator totally outweighs stupid stuff like modern medicine and food refrigeration. I can only shake my head at the granite, bone-cracking ignorance of that kind of thinking. Nothing to offer? While Believers continue to clutch their beads and wait on Jesus, the rest of us are trying to do something about our existence. I know, I know. The results, such as modern medicine (why need medicine when God heals?) are pitiable at best. But at least we are doing something, rather than praying.

Paul R

Anonymous said...

"The God of the bible is revealed with many faces and an emphasis on perfection in love and justice."

Yep, especially the genocide and stoning innocent people to death. Isn't it a relief that we don't treat our own children in the manner God treats his? We don't throw our children in a bonfire if they refuse to accept us as their parents. We don't hack them to pieces if they don't obey us. Instead, with real love- as opposed to Godly love- we instruct them patiently. And guess what? They do learn. You don't have to kill people after all in order to
"teach" them God's Way.

Paul R

Anonymous said...

I remember thinking as a kid when being taught the Old Testament and that God was our Father, I was glad God was not my father. My dad had more compassion, common sense , love and fairness in him than the nutcase OT God seemed to have according to the stories.

Anonymous said...

well the smashing babies against the wall is the justice part...bad baby, bad bad baby

Anonymous said...

Anon said: well the smashing babies against the wall is the justice part...bad baby, bad bad baby
Paul said: We don't throw our children in a bonfire if they refuse to accept us as their parents. We don't hack them to pieces if they don't obey us. Instead, with real love- as opposed to Godly love- we instruct them patiently

It has been awhile since I spent time reading OT and my memory isn’t as sharp as it once was so I can’t place these statement in their context. Do we have a bible book chapter and verse that I could find them? I do not want to be guilty of saying things that would support this kind of behavior.
A. Boocher

Hector said...

Let's be honest, AB, you hang out here for one reason, to try to convert people who have given up on Armstrongism to go back to it. It's pretty obvious, so there's no point in soft-peddling it.

"...I was focused on what the bible teaches that will make life better and improve the relationship we have with other people."

Well, that's half of the sales pitch used to sell all religions, isn't it? How often does that theory deliver on it's huge promises? There's plenty of common sense in the bible, stuff that you could figure out without an ancient book. In my experience, that part works, but should that be taken as some sort of miracle? No. The stuff that isn't common sense doesn't work. It's all so much ritual and attempts to bribe or appease their god, just like all the pagans always did. That stuff is nothing more than bronze-age foolishness and is a colossal waste of time. Then there's the other half of the sales pitch: all the promises about after you die. Nobody knows how often those promises are fulfilled. Of course, religious people think they do, but they don't. Judging by the non-miraculous results of the first half of the sales pitch, I'm not holding my breath over miracles promised by the second half either.

"...don’t tell me how to live just show me by being a living example..."

Which brings me to the other can of worms: the people pushing these sales pitches. They're not living examples. They're hypocrites. They're selling a product that doesn't do anything. The reason why they're hypocrites is because their product isn't helping them be better people, just like it isn't going to help you be a better person. As they hypocrisy kicks in, it will help you feel better, but during the brief periods when you see right through all the lies you usually tell yourself, you feel much worse. It's like a drug that makes you first manic, then depressed. The cognitive dissonance is difficult to deal with, but this is just the beginning.

This is the exact same dynamic playing out in the lives of all the religious salesmen too. As the apostles resort to the same tactics as tyrants and dictators do (because christianity doesn't work, but those tactics do), they become abusive. But they simultaneously market themselves as the best practitioners and examples of the religion they're selling. If they don't sell themselves as the most transformed person around, they won't be able to sell the religion either. In order to see them as godly, when they abuse their followers, the followers must believe they deserved the abuse. The only way to deal with the huge quantities of cognitive dissonance is for one's own identity and esteem to take the hit. But that only produces even more dissonance. In one compartment, you're the filth under the apostle's shoe, in the other, you're the beautiful child of the all-loving god, and privileged disciple of his one true loving representative on earth. WTF!

Say what you will, it doesn't matter if you're in the catholic cult, one of the protestant cults, or an Armstrongist cult, just change the names of the parties involved, but the dynamics remain the same. Dogmatic religions don't work. They CAN'T work. All they can do is make you a batshit crazy self-flagellating hypocrite who daydreams about being a better person someday.

Religion sounds like such a great aspirational thing, but at the bottom line, it has nothing to offer. Being born into it sucks because I didn't get the chance to make a choice like you did. Now that I am older and wiser, I can choose, but I can't get back my formative years. There is no way in hell now that I would ever go back to the vomit. I hope none of your aspirational comments sucker even one person back to it. Your sales pitches sure don't work on me.

Anonymous said...

There's stuff within religious teachings that are good and useful, whether the religion is Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, etc.

I get that.

I wish those evangelizing to me weren't bullying assholes, though.
And, it sure crimps their sales pitch!

I guess it speaks to the religious environment in which I live, that the bullying assholes I've encountered have been Christians. If I lived in another country, maybe the bullying assholes would be Hindu or something.

Anonymous said...

Hector said...
Let's be honest, AB, you hang out here for one reason, to try to convert people who have given up on Armstrongism to go back to it. It's pretty obvious, so there's no point in soft-peddling it.
Thanks for your comment Hector. Like I have pointed out critical condemnation it a poor way of judging people. If I was trying to convert people to any form of Christianity I would not be posting in these sites or babbling on TV. I would be having face to face visits and working with a person to help them understand what real Christianity offers in building a positive life. My approach to ministry is improving an understanding of what living by biblical standards should produce and how they should be applied without shredding the bible. In most cases it is just common sense, but when we deal with the unknown spiritual factors there is a faith factor that needs to be considered. When I was involved in ministry (at my own expense) my motto was to not give up on God when people disappoint you. My life has been a series of successes and my relationship in family and other acquaintances is still positive even though age and circumstances limit personal contact.
This will be my final comment on this blog. It isn’t because of anything any one person said, but due to the unhealthy perspectives regarding the flow and development of human life. Most of what I have seen has been the revealing of negative and corruptive activities of the past and perhaps the present. There is nothing I can do about all of these atrocities that seem to have contributed to negative experiences in people’s lives. As far as I can see nothing has been presented that I could or should do to make a positive improvement in the lives of those who have suffered loss of whatever they feel they have lost. To me these are God size problems and predicaments. If there is no God and/or He (or It) chooses not to be involved; the best I can do is back out. No hard feelings nor has this been a negative experience. I really do feel sorry for those whose life has been adversely affected by those claiming to be Christians.
A. Boocher

Anonymous said...

Boocher- you know as well as I do that the OT features clear instances of God ordering the hacking up of his children (Isrealites) or others (Cannanites) who disobeyed him. Stoning as well. Regarding the bonfire analogy, are you ignorant, or just disengenuous? Tell me, what ultimately happens to a human who rejects God?

"...but due to the unhealthy perspectives..."

It's called "different," not "unhealthy." It's also called criticism and questioning, which I know is not allowed in Faith.

Paul R

Anonymous said...

A. Boocher-

There are some who are regular post regular comments here who believe in God and attend one church or another, but for some reason it is apparent that they're not here to contradict or convert, but just to add another perspective to the mix, not performing some sort of christian mission ministry to bring lost souls back to sabbath keeping or whatever is left of the old Radio Church of God.

If someone posts a comment that reads like a sermon, explaining the fundamental assumptions of the Christian faith, as though, just because many here don't accept those assumptions anymore, that we don't even understand those assumptions? Not true, we've all been there and lived that way for a while, but it didn't work out so well. We remember, alright, we remember. And it's kind of rude to say to them that a way of life which didn't work for them is the only path to success and happiness, when they're doing better for having forsaken it. Even if you cloak an insulting message in smooth words, somehow, the insult isn't lost in the shuffle. Not at all.

Byker Bob said...

I keep getting back to the fact that the classic doctrines of Armstrongism, like communism, have been tested by many people, in many countries, many venues, and have been proven to always bring bad fruits! Doctrines of authority from the top down have consistently corrupted those aspiring to leadership, making them cruel and intrusive. OTOH, transformation of the heart, from the bottom up, one Christian at a time, has produced overall good fruits.

The false theory of British Israelism has produced, at the very least, elitism, if not outright racism.

Legalism is against everything Paul ever wrote about, although he encouraged us to be tolerant of the legalism of others. Jesus found the legalism of the Pharisees to be repugnant. Why? First, nobody can live up to it. So, those who make the law into an idol end up being very judgmental of those who don't.

And, the sabbath? There is no NT sabbath command, and there was a tradition of meeting to "break bread" (the Lord's Supper) on Sunday amongst NT Christians in congregations throughout the Roman Empire. Think the sabbath is immutable? Check out OT language about circumcision, and then read about how James declared it non-mandatory. I mean, you couldn't even be in the temple or really keep all of the oracles back in OT times, unless you were circumcised. Also, there is no NT commandment about the sabbath. There are admonitions against getting hung up on days, however.

Clearly, HWA cobbled together a number of theorems, postulates, etc, just as in putting together logical geometric proofs. His makes sense to a certain mindset, but his is not the only or most convincing and logical one. There is a whole (in his parlance) missing dimension that was hidden to classic WCG members.