- I am an agnostic Christian.
- I believe in God; I just don't think we know squat about Him.
- I am a Christian in search of God.
- I am also a liberal Christian
a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.
Testament, the word for heaven is also the word for sky. The god of the Bible dwells in the sky; he is the sky god, in contrast to other gods. We have not totally escaped this quaint view of God, for we still picture his home as being up in the sky. We draw clouds around the pearly gates (which, by the way, were never up in the sky at all in the Bible but down on earth). Now, the thing to note about the Bible is that it is not until Paul came along that anyone hoped we could someday float around up in the sky with God. In the Old Testament, the afterlife is lived in the underworld, a dreary, shadowy place. There are a couple of exceptions, a couple of people who were taken up to the sky to live with God, but they did not die. All those who die go down to the underworld in Old Testament lore. Then, about two centuries before Christ, the idea of a resurrection began to make inroads into Hebrew thinking.
Yes, we can go on record! (smiles) The Bible is not the inerrant dictation of a supernatural being. It is a journal of a nation growing up and learning about God. It presents many different views and evolving ideas. But I have bad news about your speculation that women won’t be going to heaven. That would seem to be true, if the vision of John is to be believed, for this passage seems impossible otherwise: When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. –Revelation 8:1 Guess it's a good idea for me to think about the existence of Heaven then...
Why do you think that there is such a diverse difference of opinion and a seemingly inability to have retained the Bible as originally created. For instance, you mentioned and I'm aware of entire books that have been removed from the present book(s) used by religious leaders. And...pulling in a story
about which you didn't talk in this book--I've always wondered about the Tower of Babel... To me, this meant that God wanted us to be separated and speak in different languages for some purpose... But then later wanted us, through Christ, to love those that were different because of this Tower...Any thoughts?
Are you asking why we don’t have the Bible in its original form, or are you asking why we can’t agree on what it means? Both I think, after all, if humans along the way could delete books and or interpret perhaps differently than intended, then, to me that supports that you can't believe literally...
Do be aware that, for the New Testament especially, it’s very difficult to speak of “an original,” since these books were always in a state of transition. John’s Gospel is a good example, as it shows clear signs of its construction over a period of dozens of years. It’s a little like asking which baby picture shows the original me. Worse yet, each addition or subtraction or scribal error tends to change the flavor of the writing. One well-known example of this comes from the Gospel of Luke, verse 23:44, where it describes Jesus praying in anguish, with his sweat like drops of blood falling to the ground. This verse is not in all variants, and we don’t know which is more original: the version of Luke with Jesus in agony, or the version without agony. Its addition or subtraction radically alters the picture of Jesus between Gnostic (where Jesus is non-corporeal, sent from heaven) and traditional (Jesus is of the flesh, able to feel pain). Which is the original flavor of Luke’s Gospel? We don’t know, and since Luke nowhere else in the passion narrative shows Christ in agony, we don’t know whether to classify Luke as Gnostic or orthodox.
This is a good place to move on the second half of your question, about the Tower of Babel, since these early myths are also shrouded in mystery. We often assume the story of the Tower of Babel traces back to the ziggurats, and thus was influenced by Babylonian stories (the Jews were held captive in Babylonia for many years). But we don’t know. Unable to trace the myth’s ancestry with any certainty, we have a hard time nailing down just what it meant to its Hebrew storytellers. But I can tell you a little about what it meant in Jesus’s time, because you are 100% correct that the Jesus movement was perceived as reversing the scattering of the nations at the Tower of Babel. Acts 2:2, describing the arrival of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, is the exact opposite! Instead of scattering the nations and confusing their languages, the nations came back together and began to speak in tongues that everyone could understand! This reference to the Tower of Babel could not be missed by first-century readers familiar with the Hebrew Bible.
If we accept there is no Heaven to go to...and if we accept that God is here with us on earth right now...then can we be expected to not fear death and a possible ending of everything? It seems that the Christian faith has been built surrounding heaven (salvation and reward) and hell (fear of eternal torture. If this is not true, why in the world would we have evolved into such beliefs?
First, let me emphasize that I am not suggesting there is no heaven. I personally can see no benefit to believing in hell, but belief in heaven can be a great comfort. However, I am suggesting that those who wish to follow Jesus need to pull their eyes down from the sky and realize that Jesus didn’t come to coerce anyone into heaven or rescue anyone from hell.
Ahhh, not sure about this one...Sex Trafficking is increasing, including pedophilia and other sex crimes...Drug use is making our youth unable to think clearly and make proper choices... Complete separation of church and state is mandated, which results in confusion, misunderstanding, lack of ability to find where individuals fits in the world of today... Corporate control has become much worse and even leads to governmental criminal frauds... medical control for poor brings fear and resentment and is definitely soul-crushing, governmental is being led by those who espouse Christian views, leaving us asking..."what the???"
I’m not naïve, Glenda. I hear what you’re saying. There is no other word to use besides “evil” to describe much of what goes on in the world. If I didn’t see the evil, I wouldn’t feel so great a need to embrace the dream of Jesus. We Christians are called to make a difference; that is what it means to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world. That said, your theory about the differences in what we read may make sense because good fiction requires a fully-developed antagonist, while liberal Christian scholarship needn’t focus on evil. I don’t have to dwell on the dark side, making my optimism easier. So let me say to those who fight from the trenches: you are appreciated. Together, we will make a difference.
One Final question Lee... This book is written to try to move Christians toward one goal. Would you mind my asking, how has this worked within your own family, based upon what your description of your early Church was like. Do you or can you feel free to talk to others without being "knocked down" from time to time? And what do you do?
My own family's version of Christianity is very afterlife-oriented, Glenda. I would say one of the more extreme sects in this matter. While they recognize that Christians are called to perform acts of kindness, they do not see such acts as contributing to the Kingdom, but rather to serve as examples of Godliness which might lead to the opportunity to share their religious beliefs. They see themselves as "strangers and pilgrims" in this world (Hebrews 11:13), not invested in the cares of the world, and live for the day of Christ's return. So I, with my this-worldly emphasis on the teachings of Christ, am definitely a black sheep. We chat amicably about our beliefs but pretty much agree to disagree, since in our case there is little or no hope that we can ever share a common Christian goal. My book is not written for my own family, haha!
I was waiting to see if you, too, considered yourself the black sheep... Most of the time I do... I rarely have even shared how I feel, especially now since I would have to declare myself a liberal Christian...LOL Once I wrote a letter to my brother about having been baptized in the Holy Spirit... When I never had any kind of response, other than I knew he had read it, I knew to keep any further comments to myself... Sad, yes... But I think if we feel "right" in doing what we are doing, that is the best that we can do. And even if we don't feel "right" at times, if we can hold on to knowing Jesus, then everything will work out... I do not believe we can judge another's relationship with God and, while it's great to find others that feel as we do, I have not felt it was part of the plan for everybody to be missionaries in the normal sense of the word... Most of my family would say that the most important thing to be concerned about is whether they "are saved" and "ready"... This is what is important to me...