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Source: (consider it) Thread: Kerygmania: Slain By the Spirit
El Greco
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quote:
Originally posted by Boogie:
From such a short passage, with so little detail, the only real conclusion is 'we don't know what happened'

This passage doesn't stand in isolation. When it was written, there were about a thousand pages speaking authoritatively about God, what we now call the Old Testament. In the Old Testament God kills )or commands the extermination of) people quite often. So, this passage is to be read in that context, and it's not open to our interpretations of God.
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Martin60
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Absolutely Andy.

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Love wins

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shamwari
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I would rather be an atheist (Martin already thinks I am) than have to believe the hundreds of OT references to God commanding the extermination of peoples.

I refuse to believe in a monster, immoral Deity.

And Jesus would too I think.

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El Greco
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quote:
Originally posted by shamwari:
And Jesus would too I think.

Same Jesus who is recorded in the New Testament to foretell unspeakable tortures those that don't follow him will have to endure eternally?
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Lamb Chopped
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quote:
Originally posted by shamwari:
I dont recall the Commandment saying "Thou shalt not kill (murder) except upon a lawful authority".

Nor do I read it as God saying "Thou shalt not kill/murder except Me"

The "kill" rendering is traditional King James, but it's not a good translation. "Murder" is clearly what the Hebrew means.

Even ordinary human beings are permitted to "kill" in some cases, such as self-defense, military service, service as a state appointed executioner, etc. (Desperate attempt to not derail thread: you may disagree, this is just what the Old Testament says--read the Pentateuch and those forms of killing are clearly permitted)

You're absolutely right to say that God must obey his own laws (else he's not God, right?) since the flow out of his own nature. God cannot commit murder. If he did, I suppose he'd vanish in a puff of logic.

But the law in question forbids murder, not killing. Not all killing is murder. And the case of A & S falls under one of those other categories.

--------------------
Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Lyda*Rose

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For God, might makes right. It's his world and if he wants to break his toys he may.

--------------------
"Dear God, whose name I do not know - thank you for my life. I forgot how BIG... thank you. Thank you for my life." ~from Joe Vs the Volcano

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shamwari
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So we just accept whatever is recorded as God's activity - either breaking his rules and throwing His toys out of the pram or (sometimes) acting consistently within the rules He made?

I just happen to believe we live in a Uni-verse. That God is both consistent and rational. That what applies to one (Uni) applies to all.

Else we opt for a Chaos Theory with a Chaotic God in charge of operations.

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Lyda*Rose

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As a "toy" I might not like it, but it seems to be true.

--------------------
"Dear God, whose name I do not know - thank you for my life. I forgot how BIG... thank you. Thank you for my life." ~from Joe Vs the Volcano

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Martin60
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Is love rational ? And guys your positions ARE literally a-theist. Not theist. Untheist. Antitheist. Spong-iform. Surely ? (That's rhetorical chaps.)

I await the descent of Moo with bated breath. Will I have to pay the Ferryman ?

You guys are deists. Not theists. Atheists. Jesus is utterly and completely unnecessary for you. You will evolve to Godhood, theosis, deification without Him. He's there as a sort of coach on the bleachers encouraging us to go for transcendence guys, we can do it ! It's cool He's there. But we don't really NEED Him. The universe doesn't. Why should we ? Originless dirt can glorify itself. It always has.

"I would rather be an atheist (Martin already thinks I am) than have to believe the hundreds of OT references to God commanding the extermination of peoples.

I refuse to believe in a monster, immoral Deity.

And Jesus would too I think."

Don't you KNOW ?

Then He would not believe in Himself, as Andreas would point out. Because you only have that dichotomy.

By His grace I don't.

You guys HAVE to rationalize the unsafe but good, terrifyingly pragmatic God of the Bible.

I DARE not.

Not because He'll zot me.

But because there is NO reason to do so.
Apart from for the tiny, arrogant, modernist, Enlightenment, minority, deluded, projected, anthropic veggie view.

He is ultimately the best case God because He will include, glorify ALL the people He has MERCIFULLY, righteously, purposefully, lovingly, essentially, perfectly killed directly or indirectly - which is all - if they assent to be included at the start of the eternal increase of His government.

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Love wins

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Lamb Chopped
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyda*Rose:
For God, might makes right. It's his world and if he wants to break his toys he may.

[Eek!] [Eek!] [Eek!]

Um, I wouldn't go THAT far! I know Paul did, but I take that to be a smack upside the head to a few people who were getting a bit big for their britches. As a fundamental doctrinal statement it seems a bit [Eek!]

I'm starting to think one of the basic problems is that we tend to see death as the Ultimate Evil, and so anyone who inflicts it (for whatever reason) is the Ultimate Evildoer. I'm off to start a thread in Purg about it--I disagree.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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RooK

1 of 6
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quote:
Originally posted by Moo:
Host hat on

Martin and El Greco, if you want to fight take it to Hell. This board is for the discussion of Bible passages.

Host hat off

Which part of this was unclear? Martin: desist, or be deceased.

-RooK
Admin

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Martin60
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Sir. May I query this in Styx ? Would you and / or Moo respond there ?

I'm honestly using what I understand to be correct terms here.

I'm not accusing anyone of Godlessness.

Perhaps that's irrelevant on Kerygmania ?

I will comply and thought I was.

Sorry.

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Love wins

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Moo

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Martin, of course you are free to bring this to the Styx.

Moo

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Kerygmania host
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See you later, alligator.

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Janine

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quote:
Originally posted by Bullfrog.:
... These two were operating in a communistic system where everything was to be held in common, and they broke the social contract. Within the rules of that society, they were thieves.

Except for this:

quote:
... While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.
What law said these people were living in what we'd call communism today? I.E., what's yours is the State's and what's the State's is the State's? The problem wasn't that the couple didn't give it all -- the sale and the profits were theirs to control -- the problem was that they claimed to have given all, IMO.

quote:
Peter tells the guy what he's done, and the guy drops dead. He repeats the process with the wife. I suppose the question here is, "What killed him and why?"
Why is it so hard for some people to see that God did it? He can kill or authorize the killing of thousands all across the OT, but not a couple of enemies in the NT?

quote:
And to Croesus' thread, is this really an endorsement of religious violence?
If God's providing the violence, sure.

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I'm a Fundagelical Evangimentalist. What are you?
Take Me Home * My Heart * An hour with Rich Mullins *

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pimple

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quote:
Why is it so hard for some people to see that God did it?
If there is a God with the powers you suggest he has, he was certainly ultimately responsible. But the next question for many people might be "How is it so many people find it possible to worship such a god?" or "Do the words and actions of Peter in this story provide us with a role model in how we should show God to the world?"

I've just printed off the whole thread so far and will come back with something a little more useful than the above in a bit.

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In other words, just because I made it all up, doesn't mean it isn't true (Reginald Hill)

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Martin60
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Janine, if we can't, God can't. Even if He says He can.

Even when God says we can. We mustn't and He mustn't.

Because we say so.

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Love wins

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El Greco
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
Janine, if we can't, God can't. Even if He says He can.

Even when God says we can. We mustn't and He mustn't.

Because we say so.

This is not an issue about God but about his followers. Why worship a deity that does those things, even if you believe that to be God? Why not oppose such a deity? What is it that makes people's moral compass go broken once God enters the play? If anything, God is supposed to enhance the human moral compass, not break it. I think this is one of the evils monotheistic religion brought to the world.
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pimple

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What we have here is one of a number of stories told by Luke to illustrate the workings of the Holy Spirit in the early church.

For those who claim "context is all", this is the only context we need to address. However, the story is about real people, however sketchily portrayed, and although this is a Christian website, not all contributors to this thread are Christians, so I do not feel it necessary to focus too narrowly on the theological implications of the story (even if I had the scholarship to do so). Where people want to keep to that narrow focus, I am happy to listen and learn, but I'd also like to widen it a bit for the sake of a useful discussion.

The OPer asks if this was an indication of a failed attempt at some sort of communism. I think it is more likely to have been a successful attempt at communal living ruined by a misguided attempt to establish a theocracy.

Can we get back to the text in question (in the OP version). It begins thus:

quote:
But a man named Ananias, with the consent of his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property; with his wife's knowledge, he kept back someof the proceeds, and brought only a part and laid it at the apostles' feet. 'Ananias,' Peter asked, 'why has Satan filled your heart....
The repeated insistence on the wife's complicity may sound a tad mysogynistic, but we find out later why it is stressed at the outset.

Ananias lays the (inaccurate) proceeds at the Apostles' feet. Is this just a conventional way of saying he gave it to the church? It sounds more like part of a rite. It's reasonable to imagine this happening at a public meeting but the text gives us no clue here. Certainly (according to the text) there was more than one apostle present.

It is not unusual for biblical stories to jump from one scene to another or to leave undetailed passages of time during the story, or for characters to appear "unannounced" as it were. But literalists would have to say that Luke's account has Ananias making his phoney gift to Peter and others, and immediately being charged with fraud. Well, no. Before he's charged with fraud, he's accused of being possessed by Satan. Straight away. Which implies that Peter somehow knew in advance what Ananias and Sapphira were up to. I'll pause there in case anyone wishes to correct or challenge whatI have said so far.

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In other words, just because I made it all up, doesn't mean it isn't true (Reginald Hill)

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Bullfrog.

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By "theocratic," do you mean that God is totally in charge, or the more modern sense that a group of people who confuse themselves with God are in charge?

I'm not sure giving a woman responsibility for her own actions on equal footing with a man is misogynistic. A misogynistic culture would assume she had no responsibility for her actions and perhaps pass her onto the next available male. Saying that she has agency seems to raise her personal power, not decrease it, IMO.

Also, I think there's at least a hint that these are upper-class folks, which changes the dynamics a bit as well.

IIRC, lots of business transactions in the ancient world were accompanied with rites. Heck, even in the medieval period the king's power was expressed liturgically. Even today, there's a ceremony for lots of acts of public office. I'm not sure trying to say "this was a ritual act and not a merely economic one" is that meaningful a thing to say.

The publicity of the even seems pretty obvious at any rate.

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Some say that man is the root of all evil
Others say God's a drunkard for pain
Me, I believe that the Garden of Eden
Was burned to make way for a train. --Josh Ritter, Harrisburg

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Lamb Chopped
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There's also a Jewish/Hebrew/Israelite/ whatever tradition (sorry, can't ever remember the right word to use!) about handling legal and family business at the city gate, where the elders sit. At least SOME of that business involved feet in a very literal way (see for example the transactions at the end of Ruth). There's also Paul's boast of having studied "at the feet of Gamaliel," and Mary's sitting at Jesus' feet--in both cases, clearly the traditional place of a student. All in all, I would think that in such a culture, to lay something at the feet of an authority was most likely a well-understood way of expressing that you were consigning the matter to that authority to deal with. It need not have been literal, anymore than "I'll drop that legal case in your lap after lunch" means that the file folder will end up atop your thighs.

--------------------
Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Kelly Alves

Bunny with an axe
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quote:
Originally posted by Bullfrog.:

I'm not sure giving a woman responsibility for her own actions on equal footing with a man is misogynistic. A misogynistic culture would assume she had no responsibility for her actions and perhaps pass her onto the next available male. Saying that she has agency seems to raise her personal power, not decrease it, IMO.

I agree. To me the language seemed very careful and legalistic-- this is exactly what each party did in the matter to warrent punishment. Given that at some times in history punishment of entire families for the sins of the head of the family was popular, it seems a minor, but significant, step forward.

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I cannot expect people to believe “
Jesus loves me, this I know” of they don’t believe “Kelly loves me, this I know.”
Kelly Alves, somewhere around 2003.

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Lamb Chopped
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Wish I could think of things before I hit "reply"-- [brick wall]

Anyway--

If I'm correct, then you are quite right in suggesting this was part of a rite--in fact it was part of a quasi-legal rite, and to deliberately lie in the context of such a rite would be akin to perjury. Which might make Peter's response a bit more understandable I hope?

This wasn't a casual "Hey, dude, here's a check for the land we sold last week, see if the food pantry needs it, wouldja?"

Much more like certain official presidential statements to the nation / Congress / grand juries etc--"I did not have sexual relations with that woman" or "I am not a crook." Except Ananias didn't get the chance to waffle on forever about what "is" means.


Oh, by the way--it's been pointed out before by lots of people, but I think a couple of us are still confused. Ananias was under no obligation to give all of the sale price to the church. He was under no obligation to give 100%, or 50%, or anything at all. The text makes that clear, and Peter's rebuke makes that clear as well.

The only obligation he had was to speak the truth about whatever he DID choose to do (in this case, to donate part of the proceeds, not the whole enchilada). He did not speak the truth. He lied about the sale price, and he did it in a (possibly ritual) context where it was not just lying to mere human beings, but to the Holy Spirit as well. It's really as simple as that.

--------------------
Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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pimple

Ship's Irruption
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quote:
Originally posted by Bullfrog.:
By "theocratic," do you mean that God is totally in charge, or the more modern sense that a group of people who confuse themselves with God are in charge?

I'm not sure giving a woman responsibility for her own actions on equal footing with a man is misogynistic. A misogynistic culture would assume she had no responsibility for her actions and perhaps pass her onto the next available male. Saying that she has agency seems to raise her personal power, not decrease it, IMO.

Also, I think there's at least a hint that these are upper-class folks, which changes the dynamics a bit as well.

IIRC, lots of business transactions in the ancient world were accompanied with rites. Heck, even in the medieval period the king's power was expressed liturgically. Even today, there's a ceremony for lots of acts of public office. I'm not sure trying to say "this was a ritual act and not a merely economic one" is that meaningful a thing to say.

The publicity of the even seems pretty obvious at any rate.

By "theocracy" I meant rule by God (or a god) through a priestly caste or religious elite.
Bit of a tangent I think.

I'm not sure giving a woman...yadyadayada
is misogynistic, either. My comment started with a 'may' and ended with a 'but'. And it was aimed at the writer of the text, not at any "culture".
Probably missed by a mile. No, certainly, not probably [Biased]

You could be right about the class thing. Could Peter have been envious of Ananias's wealth? (Not what you were suggesting, of course) It's possible, but I think it more likely that Peter didn't like anyone trying to make a fool of him.

And I'm not sure trying to say "this was a riual act...etc" is that meaningful a thing to say, either. Who was trying to say it. I'd rather you addressed what I actually do say, however badly. I do not always express myself clearly, and for this I apologize. I sometimes seem to take as self-evident things which other people do not see at all. In a previous incarnation as 'chemincreux' some years ago, I said the A & S story sounded like entrapment and murder to me.

On both counts I was totally wrong. WE just cannot - on the Ship or anywhere else - get away with using words that have a specific meaning inaacurately, just for effect. I'm working on it. Meanwhile, now I've shifted the beam in my own eye out of the way, you may like to reassess the appropriateness of your use of the expression "original sin" in the OP. [Devil]

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In other words, just because I made it all up, doesn't mean it isn't true (Reginald Hill)

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pimple

Ship's Irruption
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quote:
Originally posted by Moo:
quote:
Originally posted by Bullfrog
For one thing, the crime in this instance isn't betrayal of the group to some external threat, but something closer to embezzlement. These two were operating in a communistic system where everything was to be held in common, and they broke the social contract. Within the rules of that society, they were thieves.

The text says that their crime was lying about the money. Peter said
quote:
While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, were not the proceeds at your disposal?
They were free to use their property and money as they chose, but they were not free to lie to the community about it. They wanted credit for a sacrificial deed without making the complete sacrifice.

Moo

I think you've pulled the wrong quote, Moo, or more likely overlooked a significant part of the right one. The initial charge faced by Ananias was

quote:
why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the proceeds of the land/
All in one breath, so to speak. The inference is clearly (IMO) that Satan has filled his heart to do both - cheat and lie about it. The qualifying statement that follows this sounds to me like a fairly conventional "softening up" process, allowing the victim - sorry, interviewee, to relax and drop his guard before delivering the (metaphorical) killer punch.

This is a point I'll develop shortly but my computer is not being very co-operatice at the moment. Forgive the delay.

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In other words, just because I made it all up, doesn't mean it isn't true (Reginald Hill)

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El Greco
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# 9313

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quote:
Originally posted by Bullfrog.:
I'm not sure giving a woman responsibility for her own actions on equal footing with a man is misogynistic. A misogynistic culture would assume she had no responsibility for her actions and perhaps pass her onto the next available male. Saying that she has agency seems to raise her personal power, not decrease it, IMO.

That's not misogynistic. That's a culture that doesn't see women to be equal with men. Hatred towards women means that you attribute to them quite many things, even the entire suffering of the human race. "If it wasn't for Eve..."
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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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It's actually two parts of the same utterance:

quote:
3Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God."
As a general rule, you must interpret the part in light of the whole. The bit in bold clearly shows that Peter considered the sale money to be completely at the disposal of A & S. The "have kept for yourself" bit would not have been a sin if Ananias hadn't lied about it. That's what turned the whole situation sour.

Just to be sure we understand, Luke gives us Sapphira's interview too:

quote:
8Peter asked her, "Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?"
"Yes," she said, "that is the price."
9Peter said to her, "How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord?"

Again, she makes an outright false statement, and Peter calls her on it. He does not accuse her of greed or withholding from the community, which is what you'd expect if there was some rule about forced giving. No, instead his whole focus is on the facts of the transaction--whether they are being reported truthfully or not.

Third piece of evidence. Peter calls this "agreeing together to test the Spirit of the Lord." Take this statement in its natural sense and what do you get? An accusation that the married couple has decided together to deliberately make false statements in order to find out whether God will know if they lie. In other words, a case of truth vs. lie again. Absolutely nothing about "withholding" goods from a needy community.

--------------------
Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Janine

The Endless Simmer
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Upthread was asked, basically, "How could you worship a God who would kill?" Might as well ask how anyone could love me or like me or value me, since I'm a killer. I eat my dead, too, evil atop evil, hmm?

The simple fact of unredeemed sin standing in His presence is a killing situation. Not through any action of His, either, but because that which is not holy cannot exist in the face of that which is All Holiness. The less-than-holy is burned away as with purifying fire.

No wonder we human beings are always trying to hide behind the skirts of priests. To stand naked before God -- which is what happens when you address Him, there is nothing between you and your Maker -- that's scary.

Whether He tells you to commit genocide, or whether He tells you to slit your only son's throat and burn him as one would an animal sacrifice, or whether He tells you to basically "kill" yourself, by giving up your plans and your will to follow Him -- it's do or die. It's make or break time. Make up your mind about Him while there's still time.

I start hearing voices telling me it's time to go kill the Canaanites, I'm gonna go see a shrink for some schizophrenia medicine. If it's really God, He'll be able to talk louder than the pills.

Seriously, why would we expect to understand everything all about God? Why would we make Him over into our own image?

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Janine:
The simple fact of unredeemed sin standing in His presence is a killing situation. Not through any action of His, either, but because that which is not holy cannot exist in the face of that which is All Holiness. The less-than-holy is burned away as with purifying fire.

I'm always hearing stuff like this and it confuses me because in his time on this earth, God hung around chiefly with sinners and prostitutes and turncoats. And when the rich young ruler didn't repent of his greed, he wasn't killed; he was allowed to walk away.

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El Greco
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
I'm always hearing stuff like this and it confuses me because in his time on this earth, God hung around chiefly with sinners and prostitutes and turncoats. And when the rich young ruler didn't repent of his greed, he wasn't killed; he was allowed to walk away.

That's half the picture. The other half is when he will come "in glory to judge the living and the dead", when "the gnashing of teeth" will be, and the "worm that doesn't die" will eat people's flesh.

Your cool Jesus is the same with the Jesus that won't admit rich people on heaven, or idolaters, or prostitutes or homosexuals.

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Lamb Chopped
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Janine, usually I agree with you but here I've got to make a caveat--

What you describe is the way it USED to be (well, minor quibbles, but I won't mess with them here). But the Incarnation has changed that in a really major, major way.

No more "refiner's fire" for those who are in Christ. No more having to deal with the holiness an purity of God untempered for sinful humanity. For that matter, no more sin--Christ has taken that, and now we CAN actually stand before the Holy One. The danger is past, the temple safety curtain is taken down, and even the priesthood itself is dismantled--or rather, extended to every human being of any age, gender or background, who is in Christ. Now we can stand in the fire and not be burned--because there stands with us "a fourth man who looks like a son of God" (passage is in Daniel something).

And for God, too, things have changed.* No longer does he have to take exquisite care not to wipe us out by his mere presence, let alone communication and living with us. Remember the bit with the people of Israel traveling through the wilderness, and God has to bow out, saying, "If I traveled among you, I would probably end up destroying you"? No more of that. Now he can be among us, a man among men--someone who can speak to us, care for us, share in our lives, and even be denied, ignored, ridiculed and crucified by us. Now he can be rejected. Now his own creation can give him the finger if we choose. Or we can freely love him, not under compulsion ("love me or burn!") but with the love that everyone wishes to be loved with, that which is freely given.

And this IMHO is the reason why our Lord doesn't do many miracles nowadays. You get a few in the days of the early church and on the mission field even today, just to validate the message and illustrate a few key points (in this case, "Don't try to screw around with God and God's people just to climb the social ladder"). Once those key points are in place, that seems to be the end of the obvious miracles. After all, if God were doing this kind of thing on every major occasion (never mind the minor ones!) that would be a bit coercive, wouldn't it? And then so much for the willingness of your followers.

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Boogie

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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
After all, if God were doing this kind of thing on every major occasion (never mind the minor ones!) that would be a bit coercive, wouldn't it? And then so much for the willingness of your followers.

The thing is, this wasn't a major occasion at all. They lied about their contribution. When you look at some of the things the early popes did (with no smiting from God in sight) one small lie about the cash they gave pales into total insignificance.

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Lamb Chopped
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Truly, truly. And yet this WAS major in a sense that the early (middle, whatever) popes' shenanigans weren't, because this was AFAIK the first major fuckup in the early church community. Pardon my not-French.

Prior to this point we've had arguments and quarrels, weak faith, refusal to believe brothers and sisters speaking in good faith, and so on. But we haven't yet (AFAIK) had the kind of outright cynical "what's in it for me" crap that this episode shows.

There's also the fact that the kind of thing A & S did is precisely the kind of thing people can and DO do, every day, all around us, in every branch of the church. To sin like a pope requires papal circumstances, at least as far as sheer scope goes. To sin like Ananias does not. It merely requires the intent to do so.

So (imaginary case) if you're God and you're sitting down to figure out where you're going to place the (mercifully few) unmistakable Divine slapdowns, you might very well go after the sin that is a real temptation to the most people. More bang for your buck, as I so unfeelingly say.

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pimple

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The way I see Ananias's charge is like this. Peter immediately accuses him of allowing Satan into his heart. What's going on in the mind of Ananias at this point? Is it reasonable to make one or two intelligent guesses? I think it is.

He'll be shocked. He'll be scared. What happens to Christians who allow Satan to enters their hearts? We cannot know precisely, but it's not likely to be a slap on he wrist is it? Hasn't Peter effectively put Ananias on a par with Judas Iscariot?

Perhaps there will be an exorcism. Perhaps he'll be expelled. Whatever happens, it is not going to be fun. And he might think that, after all, his sin was not so great.

Christians on this thread have pointed out that his fault was by no means minor, however. In Ananias's pre-Christian days (if he was a convert) he would have known that anything dedicated to god was holy and untouchable.
In that sense, withholding part of the money would be akin to snatching back a haunch from a temple sacrifice and eating it himself.

But Peter then seems partly to allay his fears. What was his was his. To do with as he pleases. I'm not at all happy with Peter's next assertion though - that even after the sale Ananias could do what he liked with the proceeds. If the property was sold with the intention of providing funds for the community - especially if the buyer knew that was the intention, then the money was no longer Ananias's to do what he like with - non of it.

But Peter's delivering his little homily for a specific effect. It allows Ananias to relax, to feel a moment of relief, before Peter says
quote:
You have not lied to men but to God!
This jolts Ananias back to the awful reality of his condemnation. A sin against the Holy Spirit is unforgiveable. Which means. Lamb Chopped, that however much hope you have for his immortal soul. Ananias saw none.

Apart from the emotional roller-coaster that Peter's apparently kind words produce, they also have the added effect of cutting the ground (metaphorically) under the feet of the accused.
This sort of interrogation technique is not solely the stuff of comics, blockbuster films and romantic novels. It appears in great dramas, in real life, and elsewhere in the bible.

Nathan, for instance when he wants to charge David with adultery and murder, first presents the king with a "hypothetical" situation. Only when the king condemns the hypothetical culprit does Nathan say "you are that man" The king's caught out, and Nathan has the initiative. If he had barged straight in with the accusation, God's anointed would probably have killed him on the spot.

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In other words, just because I made it all up, doesn't mean it isn't true (Reginald Hill)

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Lamb Chopped
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quote:
I'm not at all happy with Peter's next assertion though - that even after the sale Ananias could do what he liked with the proceeds. If the property was sold with the intention of providing funds for the community - especially if the buyer knew that was the intention, then the money was no longer Ananias's to do what he like with - non of it.

Wait a minute. You're being more stringent than PETER, now? I thought you considered him overly harsh.

And I'm sorry, but I fail to see what the buyer's knowledge (or lack thereof) has to do with anything. Why would the property buyer have any idea how Ananias planned to use the money, anyway? Even today, it's rare that someone negotiating a house or land sale says confidentially, "Oh, by the way, I plan to use your purchase money for ____________." Isn't that none of his business?

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pimple

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You've never seen anything advertised with the added incentive that "all proceeds will be donated to charity" or "for every burger we sell we shall donate 5p to the Heart Foundation"? [Big Grin]

I'd like to add a note about ritual, in case I touched a nerve a while back. As I see it, charismatic communities of all denominations (perhaps of all faiths, including pagan ones) have always relied on a carefully structured, minutely orchestrated, highly charged emotional ambience. Effective ritual always involves a certain amount of manipulation of one's own and/or other people's emotions, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, per se . But those who control such events have a responsibility to ensure that susceptible and vulnerable people are not abused, and to react honestly and caringly when mistakes occur.

And a note to explain why "God did it" has never been a wholly satisfactory explanation for me - even in my more tradionally believing days - especially when human agency is evident.

God's agents, whether self-appointed or chosen by the communities they serve, may act independently. Prophets claim to be the voice of God, Judges his arm. But their words and actions are also their own; they are not automatons or puppets. Ergo they should be accountable for what they say and do. In religious communities, however, an appeal for accountability is frequently seen as basphemy - an attempt to hold God himself to account (though at times, more often in Jewish than in Christian tradition, such healthy demands meet with God's own approval or acquiescence).

Some "acts of God" are undoubtedly nothing more than personal, human, revenge-taking. For instance, in II Kings 2;23 Elisha is followed by a bunch of yobs (little children in KJV, small boys in NRSV!) who call him "baldy". Elisha turns round and curses them, whereupon two sh-bears come out of the woods and maul 42 of the kids to death.

Leaving aside the disturbing fact that forty-odd little buggers of any age on the loose are a force to be reckoned with, who killed the forty-two? The bears? Surely. God? Well, Elisha asked for God's intervention. Elisha?

Who else initiated the process? Well of course, the little perishers. And possibly, Elisha's
fear. But he didn't ask God for his own safety - he demanded retribution.

And retribution used to be seen as inevitable - the purifying fire which cleanses the community.
The only modern equivalent that comes quickly to mind is "honour" killing.

I have forgotten the exact passage, but somewhere Paul exacts revenge by making someone blind (mercifully, only for a while). Now whether or not you see any correlation between that acts of Elisha, Paul, and Peter, it does rather challenge the cosy assumption that saints don't hurt people, they only go around healing and preaching.

I've not quite finished my long and tedious point, but I'll post this before my clumsy thumb hits the delete button by mistake ("Pity" I hear! [Razz] )

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In other words, just because I made it all up, doesn't mean it isn't true (Reginald Hill)

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Lamb Chopped
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# 5528

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Drat you, now you've got me picturing Ananias and Sapphira behind a lemonade stand. [Big Grin]

I'd be surprised, though--I mean, selling real estate, that's sort of out of the fundraising sphere, at least where I live. If the folks who sold their house to me had said, "Oh, by the way, we'll be donating the proceeds to the Cancer Campaign," I would have probably shuffled my feet and said, "How nice for you," or similar inane and embarrassed response. I mean, on that level of serious money, I'm in the deal for the land, I think most people are (past and present). Not to be an inadvertant contributor to anybody's charity. In fact, I'd start having suspicions that they only told me in order to hike the price higher. [Eek!]

If it was me you were worried about, don't be (the nerve thing, I mean). I've got no problem with calling this ritual, in fact I'm grateful to you for opening my eyes to a possibility I hadn't seen before. The possible OT connection is interesting to me, and I'd like to see if any commentaries have more to say about it.

I agree with you that leaders must be held accountable, all the more if they end up involved in a Very Bad Scene. And yes, there are always blasphemers who will attempt to cover evil with the name of God. I just don't think Peter & co. are among them.

I hold no brief for Elisha's temper, though I think (haven't looked yet) that the 42 in question were considerably older than "small boys." But maybe you should start a thread on it?

ETA: oh, and of course the saints hurt people. It comes with the "defend and protect" territory.

[ 12. October 2010, 04:08: Message edited by: Lamb Chopped ]

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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pimple

Ship's Irruption
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Going back a bit, someone has very kindly given me the reference for Paul's peculiar style of conversion in Cyprus:

quote:
When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they met a certain magician, a jewish false prophet , named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and wanted to hear the word of God. But the magician Elymas (for that is the translation of his name) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul , AKA Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said "You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now listen - the hand of the Lord is against you, and you will be blind for a while, unable to see the sun."Immediately mist and darkness overcame him....
[Acts 13:6-11a]

Now I know it's a different place and a different time and a different apostle, but put this beside Peter's treatment of A&S and can we see some sort of link, however tenuous - and some insight into the way authority was sometimes wielded in the early church. What's particularly interesting here is that Saul, AKA Paul, knows exactly what the Holy Spirit has in mind for Elyma, just as Peter knows that Sapphira is about to suffer the same fate as her husband.

Well we who hanged children for stealing bread not so long ago can hardly throw stones, I guess, but at least our hanging judges asked for mercy on their victims' souls.

Back soon.

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In other words, just because I made it all up, doesn't mean it isn't true (Reginald Hill)

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pimple

Ship's Irruption
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quote:
You did not lie to us but to God!!


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In other words, just because I made it all up, doesn't mean it isn't true (Reginald Hill)

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pimple

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- said Peter. And Ananias fell down and died (gave up the ghost in KJV). And everybody who heard about it were very scared.

But what about those who were there? Were they scared too? Too scared to help?

The young men come in, wrap up Ananias, take him out and bury him. Before his wife comes. Why?

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In other words, just because I made it all up, doesn't mean it isn't true (Reginald Hill)

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Boogie

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# 13538

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quote:
Originally posted by pimple:
- said Peter. And Ananias fell down and died (gave up the ghost in KJV). And everybody who heard about it were very scared.

But what about those who were there? Were they scared too? Too scared to help?

The young men come in, wrap up Ananias, take him out and bury him. Before his wife comes. Why?

To hide the evidence?

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Lamb Chopped
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No comprendo. Too scared to help how? I mean, the guy is dead. [Waterworks] Not much to be done but bury him.

As for um, hiding the evidence--

You HAVE considered that this is a hot country where burial the same day as death is the norm, and where the presence of a dead body is held to automatically defile the entire house and everyone in it?

I'm not sure what you expected Peter to do under these circs--just leaving him lying around seems a bit cold-blooded, not to mention problematic, since no one had any idea where his wife was or when she was going to show up. Not like they could call her on her cell phone, I mean. And carrying a corpse through the street is apt to provoke comment, and not just of the "you murderer!" type.

Let's consider this for a moment. Where should they have taken him? His house, perhaps. But we have no idea how distant that was. If it were more than a couple of streets away, the city authorities would be bound to hear about it, and and would have strong views on unnecessary defilement being spread hither, thither and yon. Recall that anyone and anything the corpse touches is going to be in for a seven-day quarantine and cleansing ceremony involving rather expensive sacrifices.

Under those circs, I expect that the usual custom was to bury a person from wherever he died, unless it was obviously ineligible (such as someone who dropped dead in the middle of the road). That would keep defilement to a minimum. Peter and co. are already well and truly exposed, so there's no advantage to them in removing the corpse elsewhere.

I hesitate to point out the obvious, but ... from the text (which is all the evidence we have) it appears that there were NO official repercussions to this whole affair at all. Certainly the authorities would have heard of it, and since some hours elapsed between Ananias' death and Sapphira's arrival, there would have been plenty of time to have a first-century cop equivalent show up and say "Wot's all this?" In fact I suspect one (or more) did, and the number of witnesses was what protected Peter from arrest. Hard to pin a crime on someone when maybe a couple dozen people can testify he never touched the guy.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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pimple

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Sorry, but where in the text to you find any indication that they didn't have any idea where Sapphira was or when she was going to turn up?

I take your point about the necessity for a quick burial. But isn't that usually done by the next of kin? - and see my question above.

Death was immediate, of course, I didn't see that. No question of Ananias merely having a heart attack or fainting. They did sometimes bury people a bit too soon - even the nicest people. Jesus got there in the nick of time on more than one occasion, didn't he?

But no. The decent thing here would have been
to wrap Ananias up and put him in the shade and tell his wife at the earliest opportunity what had happened. But the young men were already there, were they not, waiting ? NRSV (and perhaps other modern translations, i don't know) have some pretty idiosyncratic bits of editing to explain. KJV has the young men "getting up" and wrapping up Ananias. NRSV says they "came". Bullshit! They were there already. It's in the Greek. And there's an even worse error later on.

[ 17. October 2010, 16:32: Message edited by: pimple ]

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In other words, just because I made it all up, doesn't mean it isn't true (Reginald Hill)

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pimple

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P.S. A negative cannot be proved by its absence from the text. But you've not only tried that - you have made several conjectures that can only be regarded as "might-have-beens". ISTM that is.

[ 17. October 2010, 16:44: Message edited by: pimple ]

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In other words, just because I made it all up, doesn't mean it isn't true (Reginald Hill)

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Lamb Chopped
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# 5528

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Well, the OP seems to me to be requesting just that--reasonable extrapolations from the evidence we do have, which is a fairly brief text. I aim to please.

But really, in the end it's going to come down to what you deem more likely. I find it very difficult to believe that the early church and its leaders were such a frightening, dictatorial and even criminal set as you seem to suggest, mainly because I can't see how such people would ever have been tolerated by Jesus. And we're talking about the same generation of people, only a few years after Jesus' passion. So it's not at all the same thing as the corruption of the medieval popes, etc.

I suppose we COULD imagine that Peter et al had complete personality transplants after Jesus' Passion, but I can't see that either. Human beings very rarely change that much. Even Paul, the about-face par excellence, kept the same personality he had to begin with--just aimed in a new direction.

The other thing that I find difficult to imagine is that the Christian church as we know and experience it today could ever have grown out of such a horribly cultish situation as you postulate. Again, in my experience and education, institutions normally get worse, not better. And bad as the current Church may be (and in so many ways), lopping off people's heads to maintain a leader's authority is really not a major defining characteristic of Christianity.

Another thing that enters in to this whole "what really happened" debate is the old catechism explanation of the eighth commandment:

quote:
The Eighth Commandment

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

What does this mean?

We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, or defame our neighbor, but defend him, speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.


It seems to me that Peter deserves the same courtesy from me that I would show--well, to a Shipmate, for example. The text says what it says, and we have no evidence to the contrary. Why then paint Peter as a criminal? Whatever you think of Peter's character, it will make no difference to Ananias. He stands or falls on his own behavior.

Peter is my neighbor, just as you are; therefore he deserves the benefit of whatever doubt may exist.

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Boogie

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# 13538

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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:


Peter is my neighbor, just as you are; therefore he deserves the benefit of whatever doubt may exist.

I don't see myself as staining Peter's character - I'm just asking questions which hadn't occurred to me before. There's no way it could be a new question though, is there?

But I wonder if there is more to it than that? So much of our picture of the early Church is wrapped up on our perception of Peter's character - maybe we have too much invested in our view of him to even consider that he may kill someone then cover it up, blaming an 'act of God'?

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Lamb Chopped
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# 5528

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Oh for gosh sakes.

It's this kind of thing that really really bothers me. Boogie, I would feel exactly the same if someone were alleging that YOU were killing people and covering up the crime afterward. Not because of any imaginary reflection on the Ship in your case, but simply because I've never seen the least reason to suppose you a murderer, and for someone to start speculating on no evidence whatsoever that you WERE would inevitably lead to a Hell call if nothing worse.

Heck, I'd have to battle half the Ship to be the first to drag the offender into Hell. And I don't know you all that well!

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Boogie

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# 13538

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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
Oh for gosh sakes.

It's this kind of thing that really really bothers me. Boogie, I would feel exactly the same if someone were alleging that YOU were killing people and covering up the crime afterward. Not because of any imaginary reflection on the Ship in your case, but simply because I've never seen the least reason to suppose you a murderer, and for someone to start speculating on no evidence whatsoever that you WERE would inevitably lead to a Hell call if nothing worse.

Heck, I'd have to battle half the Ship to be the first to drag the offender into Hell. And I don't know you all that well!

But 'alleging' is not what I am doing - I am simply throwing it in to the pot as a possibility. I have a similar emotional investment - I would rather Peter had killed them than God had. At least Peter would have the 'excuse' of human nature. The idea that God strikes people down for telling lies is worse than the idea that Peter may have done so imo.

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Garden. Room. Walk

Posts: 13030 | From: Boogie Wonderland | Registered: Mar 2008  |  IP: Logged
shamwari
Shipmate
# 15556

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LC often posts to the effect that "this is the only text we have and there is no text to the contrary" - the implication beibng that we should simply accept it.

That begs a whole lot of questions.

Would we really expect to find competing/contrary texts

The text as we have it is Luke. And it is Luke's interpretation of the event(s). Is no other interpretation possible/allowable?

Luke, as all the Biblical writers, had a point of view. He seems to have majored on the miraculous element in the gospel/Church history account.

In the light of knowledge available to us today many Biblical descriptions are capable of other analysis. Epilepsy is not simply and always a case of demon possession.

Posts: 1914 | From: from the abyss of misunderstanding | Registered: Mar 2010  |  IP: Logged
Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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quote:
Originally posted by Boogie:
But 'alleging' is not what I am doing - I am simply throwing it in to the pot as a possibility. I have a similar emotional investment - I would rather Peter had killed them than God had. At least Peter would have the 'excuse' of human nature. The idea that God strikes people down for telling lies is worse than the idea that Peter may have done so imo.

Okay, that's helpful. Now I get where you're coming from. Thanks.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

Posts: 20059 | From: off in left field somewhere | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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quote:
Originally posted by shamwari:
LC often posts to the effect that "this is the only text we have and there is no text to the contrary" - the implication beibng that we should simply accept it.

Actually, "You got me all wrong, boss." The implication is not that we should simply accept it, but that we should realize the limitations of ANY analysis at this remove and with such limited material. And it's not the Christian in me that's getting annoyed here--it's the rhetoric teacher. [Razz]

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

Posts: 20059 | From: off in left field somewhere | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged



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