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Source: (consider it) Thread: Healthy scepticism or ...
Eutychus
From the edge
# 3081

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
I've always thought that Abraham is a very odd choice as a "man of faith" notwithstanding the epistle-writer's poetry. Before he set out on his epic journey along the fertile crescent, we've got no particular indication that he was a prayerful man at the biginning of the story, and iirc the first time we read of him conducting the blood sacrifice was when he attempted to use Isaac was the victim.

Quite how this relates to the modern religious Protestant views of justification-by-faith and the efficacy-of-prayer, I have no idea.

We read that God spoke to him asking him to up sticks and leave, and he did. Prior prayer is not required unless you think, rather UNprotestantly, that good works are prerequisite to God calling someone, or blood sacrifice is somehow a means of justification.

We further read, notably in Romans 4, that Abraham's belief in God's promise to him of a descendance is why God counted him as righteous. Paul's whole point in this chapter is to demonstrate justification by faith: Abraham's justification predated even the covenant of circumcision. Romans 4:13 says
quote:
For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith.
Interestingly in this context, Romans 4:19 also says Abraham did not "weaken in the faith". He must have had some doubts, witness the whole Hagar episode, but he apparently did not reject God's promise in outright unbelief.

--------------------
One has to take part. Scary as it is. - Martin60
Jerusalem is a city without walls

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Eutychus
From the edge
# 3081

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quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
This kind of thing works so long as people occasionally come out of their bubble - recently it seems they are increasingly resistant to it ("Of course the media will try and suppress it - God can do this if he wanted to").

Confronted with fake healing testimonies, Bethel of course have said almost precisely that. But I think the basics of fact-checking still work, even if people aren't interested.

quote:
.. and that's before you run into embellishments rather than outright fakery (aren't there some suggestions that the story of the missionaries and the Huaorani may have not been as simple as commonly portrayed?).
In Ecuador I was told the Huaorani's specialist adaptation to Western culture was as aircraft pilots (not that I have verified this!). I have spent time in a Quechua village in Ecuador and indeed preached there in battered Spanish. There's little doubt the Gospel has become well-established in remote villages and they seem to have got more out of it than from the oil companies (one village I visited in the Amazon region reportedly granted drilling rights in exchange for a sewing machine).

Having been originally largely fired for mission by Norman Grubb's hagiography of CT Studd, Eileen Vincent's rather more sober biography of the man was rather a jolt to me.

A wider issue though - and a lesson I perhaps learned from this - is the extent to which our personal faith runs the risk of piggybacking on exciting testimonies. Under pressure at one point to invite evangelist Tony Anthony (whose exotic testimony was later proved to be fabricated) to my local prison, I sought advice from my senior chaplain at that time. Her wise response was: "these guys need a down-to-earth testimony they can relate to, not something out-of-this-world."

As Adrian Plass' vicar says in An Alien at St Wilfred's, one should seek to get one's inflated testimony drained at the earliest possible opportunity.

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One has to take part. Scary as it is. - Martin60
Jerusalem is a city without walls

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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
# 15560

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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
Some aspects of probably genuine belief get twisted by humans. Hence we have kings appointed over the Israelites, some of whom came out wrong.

That particular narrative is expressly detailed and acknowledged in the Bible. Kings were, we read, the people's idea, not God's.
quote:
I think this specialness underlies our willingness to relatively ignore the plight of people "not like us"
No, I think human nature does that all by itself. The Gospel is an appeal positively not to ignore the plight of people not like us, against our better instincts.
quote:
do even more damage by organizing their politics, cultures and economies to serve our's.
Missionaries may have played a role, more or less wittingly, in imperialism, but they were certainly not the only factors and quite arguably not the worst. Western civilisation expanded pretty relentlessly in the 19th and 20th centuries; the question may well have been seen as whether or not it was accompanied by the Gospel. For all its ills, I'm glad to enjoy the freedoms of Western society (especially as I wonder how long it might last...), including the freedom of religious belief.
quote:
So we need to harbour a healthy scepticism of Abraham's specialness, our specialness as Christians, the specialness of any faith, nation, people. Because it is probably foundational to great, great sin.
If you are so willing to discredit Abraham as wholly self-deluded, what is your definition of sin?

It's not about discreditting, it is about not accepting what is written down as factual. Nor that the ideas expressed are true or God-given. If you accept that it is as written, then you accept on faith and suspend scepticism.

I realize that the conventional definition is doing something that deserves condemnation and hellfire in God's judgement. That there is no redemption without Jesus etc. This is also a faith-based interpretation. There are additions this, about which I wonder if whether the redemption by Jesus shouldn't be the addition, and whether harming other people and harming the world might better be the core. Thus 'love your neighbour as yourself" as primary, and get around to loving God with all your soul and might as secondary.

As for the freedoms of the west, the billion of us who share it, yes it is pretty good. Was hearing yesterday about Sudanese refugees who are destitute on arrival in Egypt so sell their kidneys for between $5 and 30,000 to feed their children. Are these people our neighbours?

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Maybe I should stop to consider that I'm not worthy of an epiphany and just take what life has to offer
(formerly was just "no prophet") \_(ツ)_/

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Eutychus
From the edge
# 3081

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Without getting into the factual/non-factual discussion, it seems to me that if you seriously entertaint with the possibility of Abraham either not existing at all or being simply deluded, and Paul's explanation of his actions, either factual or as part of an accepted mythology, as being, at best, so enculturated to 2,000 years ago as to be utterly irrelevant to us, I fail to see why I should bother wrestling with any biblical approach to any concept at all, including sin.

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One has to take part. Scary as it is. - Martin60
Jerusalem is a city without walls

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
We read that God spoke to him asking him to up sticks and leave, and he did. Prior prayer is not required unless you think, rather UNprotestantly, that good works are prerequisite to God calling someone, or blood sacrifice is somehow a means of justification.

In isolation, I'm not sure that it is possible to get that from reading the OT story. To me it reads far more like Abraham leaving Ur because of the drought and God somehow catching up with him along the way. The picture of Abraham as a "man of faith" who packed his bags in response to a calling seems to me to be quite a stretch.

Oddly I don't think Abraham is an example of someone who displays "faith by works" either - being before Moses he predated the law. The best explanation seems to be of the unknown deity who picked a nomad from obscurity to advance his purposes and who in return grew in the faith.

On the blood sacrifice thing, I'd say this was an important prerequisite for a protestant understanding of Penal Substitutionary Atonement, which is dominant in many but not all protestant circles.

Even if we're not going to talk about the formal theory of God's interaction with man, Abraham doesn't fit the informal way it is usually discussed in many protestant circles; Abraham did not obviously convert, did not obviously make a commitment (or at least not in a given temporal point in the story), did not have his sins covered by the sacrificial blood of the lamb, did not go from strength to strength dependent on a pattern of regular prayer.

quote:

We further read, notably in Romans 4, that Abraham's belief in God's promise to him of a descendance is why God counted him as righteous. Paul's whole point in this chapter is to demonstrate justification by faith: Abraham's justification predated even the covenant of circumcision. Romans 4:13 says
quote:
For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith.
Interestingly in this context, Romans 4:19 also says Abraham did not "weaken in the faith". He must have had some doubts, witness the whole Hagar episode, but he apparently did not reject God's promise in outright unbelief.
Yes but as I say, the Romans poem seems to use a particularly bad example in Abraham which does not really seem to prove the point it is trying to make.

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arse

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
I see no parallel with the four thousand year old mythic Abraham story whatsoever. How could I? There is none.

The parallel I see is that God promised something to Abraham that Abraham believed, on his own account, thanks to which, according to Paul, he was justified i.e. in the right place with God, acted, and the promise was fulfilled.

The coming of Christ is understood by Paul as the ultimate fulfilment of that promise to Abraham. I don't have a model for God working with humanity outside that narrative. Do you?

Why do you ask? (That's rhetorical btw). And what's it go to do with the claims being made here?
quote:

quote:

The determinism is that it's all historically inevitable, it has nothing to do with people praying any more than healing has.

History happens because it has to? Sounds a bit marxist to me. What became of the sentiment I quoted from you in my sig?
quote:
One must take part, scary as it is
quote:



Marx was right for the wrong reason. Or the other way around. The sad, failed experiment of communism could not survive. Your prayers made no difference at all. And they weren't part of taking part.
quote:

quote:

I paid to see Reinhard Bonnke's right hand man, a former British army officer, say that 7 7 happened because their prayer team didn't cover Britain at that time.

There is a big difference between praying FOR something and being berated for NOT praying for something.
quote:



Neither make any difference to external reality. To the thing prayed for or not.
quote:

quote:

We must put away childish things. Including mere scepticism.

Why? And to be replaced by what, precisely?
quote:



Because they are childish distractions from actually being incarnational. Incarnationality.
quote:

quote:

I note with interest that you don't challenge the utter futility of converting Islam that nobody dares try.

That was not a deliberate omission. The gospel is folly, according to Paul. But also the power of God for salvation. What do you think would be involved in "converting Islam"?
quote:



Incarnationality.
quote:

quote:

And aye, I'm glad communists like Solzhenitsyn, Gromyko and Gorbachev and even other little people were reached in the Soviet Bloc and China, I had the privilege of fellowshipping with some from my para-Christian cult in Czechoslovakia in 1979. What good being given bibles does I'm not quite sure.

Why are you glad if you're not sure what good being given bibles did them?

Solzhenitsyn's conversion involved incarnationality, by a Jew, not a Bible. I imagine the others did too.

[ 07. December 2016, 19:29: Message edited by: Martin60 ]

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Love wins

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Barnabas62
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Solzhenitsyn's conversion involved a conversation with Boris Nikolayevich Kornfeld, a Jew who had converted to Christianity.

So far as the connection with scripture is concerned, Martin, a visiting speaker at my local congo put it perfectly. He said he had a stock answer to folks who asked him what was the best translation of scripture to give to a friend or family member interested in faith. The stock answer was "You are".

In so far as any of us have drawn life giving truth from holy books and unholy experiences, if they aren't in some sense incarnated in us as faith at work, I'm not sure we have a lot to share.

Kornfeld's last words to Solzhenitsyn can be found on p612 (Chapter "The Ascent"). Here is a link. If you turn over to p613, you can see that they occurred the night before someone brained him with a mallet. And it does not matter if the words mean nothing to you, or even offend you. They were words from the Gulag, from one prisoner to an other. A unique conversation with a significant impact.

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Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
# 15560

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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Without getting into the factual/non-factual discussion, it seems to me that if you seriously entertaint with the possibility of Abraham either not existing at all or being simply deluded, and Paul's explanation of his actions, either factual or as part of an accepted mythology, as being, at best, so enculturated to 2,000 years ago as to be utterly irrelevant to us, I fail to see why I should bother wrestling with any biblical approach to any concept at all, including sin.

I view the bible differently I think than you. I don't see the details as that important. It is story of belief and of a people. So of their beliefs were pretty suspect, like they were the chosen people and that a land was their's regardless of who lived there first. I suspect that Abraham probably existed, though I also suspect that the biblical report about him is composed of hopeful faith and fact both.

The chosen people aspect is interesting. All of the indigenous peoples in Canada that I've met call themselves some version of "The People" or "The Human Beings", and see themselves as special, set apart and chosen*. This pertains to their specialness re place among other peoples and location. Sounds a lot like the tribal people in the bible to me.

The bible isn't foundational for faith for me. It is only one piece. I go more with using it as one aspect to base faith on, and not the One thing. (Which probably makes me a heretic. But so far they still give me communion.)

*(we have lots of different cultures, languages etc., as different from each other sometimes as English is to Chinese, e.g., Cree and Dené).

--------------------
Maybe I should stop to consider that I'm not worthy of an epiphany and just take what life has to offer
(formerly was just "no prophet") \_(ツ)_/

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Martin60
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Barnabas62, why on Earth, in Heaven's name, the Hell should they offend me? They make my point.

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Love wins

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Eutychus
From the edge
# 3081

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
In isolation, I'm not sure that it is possible to get that from reading the OT story. To me it reads far more like Abraham leaving Ur because of the drought and God somehow catching up with him along the way.

You must be reading a different bible to me. Whatever value you assign the text, it quite clearly says God called Abraham and he went. It doesn't say a thing about him leaving because of a drought, although he does later go to Egypt from Canaan because of a famine. If you want to tell a different story go ahead, but don't pretend the biblical text backs it up.
quote:
On the blood sacrifice thing, I'd say this was an important prerequisite for a protestant understanding of Penal Substitutionary Atonement, which is dominant in many but not all protestant circles.
Sounds like a straw man to me. We're talking about whether Abraham is a legitimate example of justification by faith.

quote:
Even if we're not going to talk about the formal theory of God's interaction with man, Abraham doesn't fit the informal way it is usually discussed in many protestant circles; Abraham did not obviously convert, did not obviously make a commitment (or at least not in a given temporal point in the story), did not have his sins covered by the sacrificial blood of the lamb, did not go from strength to strength dependent on a pattern of regular prayer.
Again, I don't know who you are aiming at here, but I have never ever heard Abraham described in those terms in any of the numerous and varied protestant churches I have frequented.

quote:
Yes but as I say, the Romans poem seems to use a particularly bad example in Abraham which does not really seem to prove the point it is trying to make.
You've explained, to some extent, why it doesn't fit your speculative reconstruction of events, or your caricature of Good Little Evangelical christianity, but you certainly haven't convinced me of the flaws in Paul's argument on this point.

--------------------
One has to take part. Scary as it is. - Martin60
Jerusalem is a city without walls

Posts: 16991 | From: 528491 | Registered: Jul 2002  |  IP: Logged
Eutychus
From the edge
# 3081

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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
quote:
The coming of Christ is understood by Paul as the ultimate fulfilment of that promise to Abraham. I don't have a model for God working with humanity outside that narrative. Do you?

Why do you ask? (That's rhetorical btw). And what's it go to do with the claims being made here?
What it has to do with the claims here is that it seems to me that some sort of walk of faith in response to what we understand God to be saying has a pedigree in the Bible. Of course people get that wildly wrong as the OP may well show (or more often, report it badly and for the wrong reasons), but if you have a different modus operandi in your Christianity, I'd like to know what it is because I'm genuinely curious.
quote:
The determinism is that it's all historically inevitable, it has nothing to do with people praying any more than healing has.
If this is true, not only is there no point in praying, there is no point in engaging in action either, because it's all going to happen anyway, isn't it?
quote:
Incarnationality.
If you mean that chucking bibles onto a beach in China can be viewed as a poor substitute for actually going oneself, I take your point.

However, one has to have at least some knowledge of what one is supposed to be incarnating. I'd suggest that both prayer and the Scriptures are important here.
quote:
quote:
What do you think would be involved in "converting Islam"?

Incarnationality.
Sure. I like to think the many Muslims I talk to in jail are impacted by my bleeding-edge incarnationality. But you know what's weird? Invariably they go on to ask me for a Bible. I'm no bibliolater, but I'm confident that God can and does use the Scriptures by his Spirit to change them just as he did the disciples on the Emmaus road.

The Bible, illumined by the Spirit, is like Heineken: reaches the parts brash evangelists and stalwart incarnationalists cannot reach.

--------------------
One has to take part. Scary as it is. - Martin60
Jerusalem is a city without walls

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Martin60
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Bravo mon brave [Smile] it doesn't get any better than that. How many apostatize, sorry, convert?

Funnily enough it's one account in the gospels that does it for me above all. Nothing anybody does, as I don't know anybody incarnational. Period. A couple historically come to mind. And one of them's a Muslim.

And there's every point to prayer apart from futilely try to get God to change the laws of physics for our convenience.

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Love wins

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
In Ecuador I was told the Huaorani's specialist adaptation to Western culture was as aircraft pilots (not that I have verified this!). I have spent time in a Quechua village in Ecuador and indeed preached there in battered Spanish. There's little doubt the Gospel has become well-established in remote villages and they seem to have got more out of it than from the oil companies

Yes, I was referring specifically to the events surrounding the killings of the five missionaries (which I've heard related as a kind of mini-atonement for the Huaorani people). Perhaps the reaction to 'No Graven Image' is instructive in this context.
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Eutychus
From the edge
# 3081

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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
Bravo mon brave [Smile] it doesn't get any better than that. How many apostatize, sorry, convert?

I have no idea, especially since I am not proselytising. Sorry; was I supposed to keep a running total?

quote:
Funnily enough it's one account in the gospels that does it for me above all.
Well then.
quote:
Nothing anybody does, as I don't know anybody incarnational. Period. A couple historically come to mind. And one of them's a Muslim.
Pray what was she or he incarnating, precisely?
quote:
And there's every point to prayer apart from futilely try to get God to change the laws of physics for our convenience.
Is praying that customs officials won't see, or bother to investigate, Bibles or similar actually doing that? I'm not sure even Brother Andrew makes a claim to have performed some Ben Kenobi-like "these aren't the Bibles you're looking for" act.

Chris, I'd be interested in your sources re: the Ecuador five.

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One has to take part. Scary as it is. - Martin60
Jerusalem is a city without walls

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mr cheesy
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# 3330

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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
You must be reading a different bible to me. Whatever value you assign the text, it quite clearly says God called Abraham and he went. It doesn't say a thing about him leaving because of a drought, although he does later go to Egypt from Canaan because of a famine. If you want to tell a different story go ahead, but don't pretend the biblical text backs it up.

Well unless you're reading a different bible to me, Terah was already leaving Ur with his family for Canaan (Gen 11:31), and last time I looked, Canaan was the promised land. And as far as I know everyone accepts that Genesis 11 comes before Genesis 12.

So we have Abram who is already travelling with his family. We have God appearing to him in Genesis 12 to talk about descendents (to which, I note, Abram appears to have no reply). We have Abram building an altar in 12:8 (I was wrong to say the first altar was Isaac above - however there is no suggestion that God appeared to Abram because he was upright or sinless before God). We have Abram going to Egypt. We have Abram escaping to the Negev, we have Lot and Abram dividing the land.

We then have God speaking to Abram again 13:14 about land and descendents.

Now, apart from noting that the story appears to be contradictory to this point, what exactly has Abram done to earn the moniker of "man of faith"? He's travelled with his father's caravan. He's heard the voice of God telling him to go to the place he's already going to. He's heard about the land and descendents but buggers off to Egypt anyway.

I fail to understand what exactly this is supposed to be saying about near contemporary bible smugglers. I submit nothing at all.

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arse

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Eutychus
From the edge
# 3081

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Terah was already leaving Ur with his family for Canaan (Gen 11:31)

But he stopped (and died) at Haran, which is where Gen 12 says Abraham left from.
quote:
So we have Abram who is already travelling with his family.
And God calling him to leave them
quote:
We have God appearing to him in Genesis 12 to talk about descendents (to which, I note, Abram appears to have no reply).
Apart from doing what he was told (v4). That seems to be a meaningful response to me. In Romans 4 Paul conflates this account with the later, more specific exchange in Gen 15 from which he quotes verse 6.
quote:
there is no suggestion that God appeared to Abram because he was upright or sinless before God
Indeed there isn't. What makes you think I think so?
quote:
I fail to understand what exactly this is supposed to be saying about near contemporary bible smugglers.
As far as I'm concerned, the Bible sometimes portrays people as going off and doing stuff, sometimes odd stuff, because they believe they are obeying God in doing so.

That presents a number of problems, to be sure.

But addressing those problems simply by saying "well, anyone who goes off and does something unexpected because they believe they are obeying God is obviously a loony" rather challenges our understanding of faith altogether, I think.

My problem with Gamaliel's OP story is that it sounds fabricated or exaggerated. Some people's problem seems to be with the whole "acting by faith" bit; my problem is emphatically not with that, even if I think people can mistakenly act in such a manner.

If one comes to the conclusion that Abraham was deluded, or nothing more than a mythical construct, or that the narrative is merely an after-the-fact spiritualisation of the random march of history, and that faith is basically self-delusion, I am (again) genuinely curious to understand on what basis those arriving at such conclusions might claim to live out their Christianity.

[ 08. December 2016, 07:50: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

--------------------
One has to take part. Scary as it is. - Martin60
Jerusalem is a city without walls

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mr cheesy
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# 3330

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quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
Yes, I was referring specifically to the events surrounding the killings of the five missionaries (which I've heard related as a kind of mini-atonement for the Huaorani people). Perhaps the reaction to 'No Graven Image' is instructive in this context.

It this the Jim Elliot killing?

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arse

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

If one comes to the conclusion that Abraham was deluded, or nothing more than a mythical construct, or that the narrative is merely an after-the-fact spiritualisation of the random march of history, and that faith is basically self-delusion, I am (again) genuinely curious to understand on what basis those arriving at such conclusions might claim to live out their Christianity.

Well I suppose the problem for me is from both directions - I generally believe that logic is a good way to deal with life issues and that in the majority of situations using facts and thought to solve problems is the best way to deal with things. I would say that logic is much more useful than any kind of "God says do x stupid thing" in by far the majority of cases.

On the other hand I do believe in the prophetic and that "God says do x stupid thing" can and does cut across the prevailing way of things at times.

The problem for me is when the prophetic becomes a normal vocabulary to be used all the time and when people continually make stupid choices and stupid claims backed up by - in my opinion - utterly theologically faulty pointing at old testament characters in order to justify themselves. And when people seek to justify their dangerous, stupid and irresponsible actions in the past by pointing at said characters.

So for me, I strongly believe that the Christian is called to walk the tightrope between sensible and logical thinking whilst also believing and looking out for the prophetic.

The question is how we're supposed to do that. And I'd start by identifying characteristics of fake and phoney prophets, mixing in the corrosive effects of publicity and fame, and then would ask myself questions such as "what possible reason could there be for this".

Even there, I'd still believe that there is space for the prophetic that doesn't meet the normal rules. But I say such things are very few and far between and that almost nobody lives in a space where that is a present reality.

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arse

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Eutychus
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I broadly agree with all that and am glad somebody else shares my dilemma.
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
when people continually make stupid choices and stupid claims backed up by - in my opinion - utterly theologically faulty pointing at old testament characters in order to justify themselves. And when people seek to justify their dangerous, stupid and irresponsible actions in the past by pointing at said characters.

I think there's a distinction between justifiably explaining and learning from the biblical accounts of the process of faith (of which I think Abraham is a perfectly good example, warts and all) and copy-pasting Bible characters' implementations of faith in a manner whereby one's confidence is not so much in God as in the method, which in my book is legalism or if I'm in a bad mood, witchcraft.

I think in many cases, both biblical and extra-biblical, there is an original genuine exercise of God-given faith by someone, which is then attemptedly replicated or systematised/exaggerated/misreported/turned into a movie.

At the end of the day the question to my mind is "what faith do I have?" Adrian Plass puts it well in The Growing up Pains...
quote:
Supposing (...) each person came to church with a regulation black briefcase containing, in some impossible way, their personal evidence that the Christian faith was true. Every Sunday, we would nod and smile at each other, indicating our briefcases with genial confidence as if to say, 'Lots in mine, brother. NO problem here!' One awful Sunday, though, the minister would announce that, today, we were all going to open our cases in front of each other, and examine this mass of evidence. One by one, in a heavy silence, the cases are opened. They are all empty...


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Penny S
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I googled something like "91st regiment" and "prayer" without quote marks. Google returned hits including the story from WW1, WW2, and variously referring to "brigades" and "regiments", including one with an actual name. That was enough of a mix of detail and confusion to convince me.

A little more work threw up this site which gives a well-researched explanation.

My day job as a translator involves a fair bit of fact-checking and has probably helped me developed a flair for dodgy ones.

Many years ago I also read an excellent book on rumours (I think this is the English translation). I defy anyone to read this and not find out they'd believed a common rumour (of which many local variations may exist) that is untrue - in my case, the rumour that it had been planned at one time to surround a seedy district of my city with a wall.

Thank you for that, Eutychus. I had wondered how, in a conscript army which would have included a variety of men, not all of whom would have been amenable to enforced prayer regimes, Whittlesey could have done it. (In the British version. The existence of the parallel American version does rather shoot the whole idea down.)
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Penny S
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And I can add to that that I developed a scepticism about stories told in sermons after I found a book of such things which included a couple which I had heard from the pulpit told as if they were events which had happened to the speaker.
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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Penny S:
And I can add to that that I developed a scepticism about stories told in sermons after I found a book of such things which included a couple which I had heard from the pulpit told as if they were events which had happened to the speaker.

This is very common in rumours. People shorten the chain to say "it happened to my friend" whereas on investigation it allegedly happened to a friend of a friend. As you go up the chain, you find that the actual source is always two steps away and thus untraceable.

Checking with the actual source for any major piece of information should be Step 1 for church announcements, let alone miracle testimonies, but often isn't.

The day before yesterday I was informed by a property developer that another local church was seeking to move from its premises, which struck me as within the realm of plausibility but odd. I quickly found out this was untrue by checking with the pastor in question.

And call me paranoid, but I don't do a funeral unless I have a copy of the death certificate of the deceased.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I broadly agree with all that and am glad somebody else shares my dilemma.
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
when people continually make stupid choices and stupid claims backed up by - in my opinion - utterly theologically faulty pointing at old testament characters in order to justify themselves. And when people seek to justify their dangerous, stupid and irresponsible actions in the past by pointing at said characters.

I think there's a distinction between justifiably explaining and learning from the biblical accounts of the process of faith (of which I think Abraham is a perfectly good example, warts and all) and copy-pasting Bible characters' implementations of faith in a manner whereby one's confidence is not so much in God as in the method, which in my book is legalism or if I'm in a bad mood, witchcraft.

I think in many cases, both biblical and extra-biblical, there is an original genuine exercise of God-given faith by someone, which is then attemptedly replicated or systematised/exaggerated/misreported/turned into a movie.

At the end of the day the question to my mind is "what faith do I have?" Adrian Plass puts it well in The Growing up Pains...
quote:
Supposing (...) each person came to church with a regulation black briefcase containing, in some impossible way, their personal evidence that the Christian faith was true. Every Sunday, we would nod and smile at each other, indicating our briefcases with genial confidence as if to say, 'Lots in mine, brother. NO problem here!' One awful Sunday, though, the minister would announce that, today, we were all going to open our cases in front of each other, and examine this mass of evidence. One by one, in a heavy silence, the cases are opened. They are all empty...

Aye. I know mine is pretty bare. Lots of people tell me there's plenty in theirs but they're always very reluctant to let me see it, which is frustrating.

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
Aye. I know mine is pretty bare. Lots of people tell me there's plenty in theirs but they're always very reluctant to let me see it, which is frustrating.

[Biased]

I think/hope this may be one of the instances where "the last shall be first" will come into play for the likes of us, eventually.

In my experience many of those with the most actual, genuine, fire-tested faith are those who make the least noise about it.

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Penny S
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Eutychus, I should have enlarged the thing about the book by explaining it was a book intended to be used by preachers. I was not impressed by its devotion to the truth.

There are a cluster of rumours I have stocked up for knocking down when appropriate. Not relevant here, though, except to say that I find other people not easy to discuss my scepticism with when they believe the rumours.

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Barnabas62
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
Barnabas62, why on Earth, in Heaven's name, the Hell should they offend me? They make my point.

The "you" was general, not specific. Kornfeld's words were "karma"-based.

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Martin60
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The incarnational Muslim.

And an incarnational Christian.

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Love wins

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
The incarnational Muslim.

And an incarnational Christian.

What, precisely, do you mean by "incarnational", other than "good bloke", that can be applied to both these cases?

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Martin60
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Exceptionally good bloke, like them.

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Eutychus
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You're being elliptical again. I am not interested in playing guessing games. I doubt if your Muslim example would have expressed his actions in terms of embodying the values and new life of Christ.

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Martin60
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But he did anyway.

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Eutychus
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No he didn't. He might have done some things that could be termed Christlike (although I'm surprised at you honouring someone in the armed forces on those grounds, whatever they did). I make no judgement as to his eternal standing or whatever you want to call it. But in the absence of any testimony, you cannot claim his behaviour was the embodiment of any faith in Christ, so it is not "incarnational" in any Christian sense of the word.

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Martin60
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For me it is.

Which is perfectly orthodox.

I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.

When outsiders who have never heard of God’s law follow it more or less by instinct, they confirm its truth by their obedience. They show that God’s law is not something alien, imposed on us from without, but woven into the very fabric of our creation. There is something deep within them that echoes God’s yes and no, right and wrong. Their response to God’s yes and no will become public knowledge on the day God makes his final decision about every man and woman. The Message from God that I proclaim through Jesus Christ takes into account all these differences. Romans 2:14 MSG

His salvation was obvious.

There's NOTHING elliptical about it.

[ 08. December 2016, 12:09: Message edited by: Martin60 ]

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Love wins

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Eutychus
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# 3081

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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.

...and everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.

Romans 2 might be taken as opening the door to universal salvation (although I think the Message paraphrase goes well beyond the text) but the rest of Romans makes the case for presenting and understanding the Good News as a prerequisite for salvation - how shall they be saved unless they hear?

quote:
His salvation was obvious.
Ah, so we are saved by our good works after all? Do you really feel qualified to judge?

quote:
There's NOTHING elliptical about it.
No, but there's plenty that's elliptical about your earlier response.

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
His salvation was obvious.

In fact, isn't that testimony precisely the sort of hagiography that's been railed against elsewhere on this thread? What's the difference? Your heroes are more credible simply by not being Good Little Evangelicals whose motives are automatically suspect?

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
In fact, isn't that testimony precisely the sort of hagiography that's been railed against elsewhere on this thread? What's the difference? Your heroes are more credible simply by not being Good Little Evangelicals whose motives are automatically suspect?

If I might be so bold, there is a stark difference between someone who is secretly spreading religious literature on the one hand and someone who is openly protecting the innocent with his own body on the other.

I think motive only matters in this context if the action is completed without motive.

I have no doubt that the Muslim is counted amoungst the righteous in heaven. None at all.

I have every doubt that the person spreading religious literature is going to be recognised by the Lord.

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arse

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Eutychus
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I was thinking more along the lines of someone like Jimmy Savile. The unfortunate truth is that acts of heroism don't tell us the whole story.

As far as I'm concerned the important thing, as in the briefcase illustration, is what's in our own faith testimony, rather than that of others', however inspiring they may appear.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I was thinking more along the lines of someone like Jimmy Savile. The unfortunate truth is that acts of heroism don't tell us the whole story.


Savile thought he was marvellous, almost by definition he therefore wasn't.

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arse

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

Chris, I'd be interested in your sources re: the Ecuador five.

Sorry to disappoint as they aren't particularly unique sources. A while ago I was motivated to track down some of the sources mentioned in the various news/wiki articles surrounding the event.

"Trekking Through History" by Laura Rival contains the claim that according to eye-witness testimony one of the warning shots fired by Jim Elliot wounded one of the Huaorani who later died. Whereas many earlier Christian accounts relied on the fact that the five were unarmed (particularly the hagiographic treatment of the event by Rachel Saint). I think the David Stoll book goes further, but I've never read a copy in full.

It's reasonably clear that they had a gun, and shots were fired and a couple of the Huaorani were - at the very least - grazed accidentally, as Steve Saint repeats this in his book.

Which doesn't necessarily take away from their heroism or bravery. Though does somewhat disturb the relatively clean flow of events that is sold in Christian circles.

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Martin60
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What a bizarre interpretation or two Eutychus. Captain Mbaye lived as if saved. Which he is. His salvation is NOT in question. I'm not in the slightest bit interested in salvation defined by anyone, any text, as anything less than the trajectory of Jesus. He'll do what He says on the tin. It's got nothing to do with our mangled, nominal, weak, ignorant hearing.

I'm somewhat bemused by how challenged you appear to be by the good captain, none of the Bible smugglers show any incarnationality in comparison.

And yeah, thanks to mdijon's iron, my blunt, un-nuanced, absolute war pacifist metal has been sharpened, refined to accept that one can and should do just war in the midst of bad as has been evinced on a couple of threads recently. He made the case that regardless how complicit the RPF had been in the evils of Rwanda, they were right to fight to stop the genocide they were a factor of.

I'm confused generally about your position on the supernatural claims in this thread that you agree didn't happen, but that the activity shorn of claims, including the 'demonic' response in Zirve, is somehow worthwhile?

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Love wins

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
He'll do what He says on the tin.

Your new definition of salvation is consistency? Much as I admire consistency, is that really a good criterion to judge salvation? Irrespective of the agenda?

If not irrespective of the agenda, who decides when it's a good one?
quote:
It's got nothing to do with our mangled, nominal, weak, ignorant hearing.

I'm somewhat bemused by how challenged you appear to be by the good captain

What I have against many testimonies (or the use to which they are put) is their tendency to generate feelings of inadequacy or guilt in the hearers, or failing that merely entertain us.

Challenged? I have often thought about whether I'd be willing to put myself between someone and a bullet or similar, a prospect that seems incrementally more likely when priests are being killed at mass not too far down the road from where I live and minister and, on a regular basis, I regularly mix with killers and psychopaths who could find my home address with a minimum of effort.

quote:
none of the Bible smugglers show any incarnationality in comparison.
How on earth can you know that? Do you know any?

I repeat, I know one personally, and she has gone from smuggling Bibles and printing materials into the USSR to becoming Orthodox and living in Russia. How more incarnational can you get?

You're so quick to judge the motives of people who push all the wrong buttons for you. I repeat, who are you to judge another man's servant?

quote:
I'm confused generally about your position on the supernatural claims in this thread that you agree didn't happen
I'm not averse to supernatural things happening, I'm averse to 99% of reported claims of them happening because a minimum of fact-checking quickly reveals them to be suspect and a few minutes more reveals suspect motives.

I believe in God's capacity for supernatural intervention, but that its purpose is not publicity or to prove a point. I have no idea why he doesn't intervene when I think he should, although I assume he has a better handle on the grand scheme of things than me.

quote:
that the activity shorn of claims, including the 'demonic' response in Zirve, is somehow worthwhile?
I repeat, who are you to judge another man's servant? I'm not championing those who died in Zirve as martyrs, but I appear to be a bit more willing than you to grant them the possibility of genuine faith.

It's almost as if you cynically dismiss any and every attempt at putting faith into practice that doesn't line up with your precise (in your mind) standards. All of which is a huge distraction from whatever you have in your briefcase.

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Martin60
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Got bugger all in mine, like everyone else.

Faith is shown by works. Like yours. Beliefs are two a penny. And I am to judge the foolishness, the hubris that led those men to die for no faith at all, for no reason at all, no purpose, no gain for the Kingdom, for the gospel. Turkey is sealed, impervious for another thousand years. And another. And another.

God wanted his servants to suffer that did He?

No, He didn't.

What has faith got to do with it? What?

I don't know why or how you believe in God's capacity for supernatural intervention and that cannot be transferred. I am averse. I'm leadenly, grimly content that He consistently never does. Ever. Apart from in and around the Incarnation. I can't see how it helps to believe otherwise apart from how it helps those who have to to get through the day. If that's you, God bless you and I'm happy for you, for nothing I can say can touch that.

You ask what my alternative is and I keep telling you and it's not enough. Fine. That doesn't justify staying with delusion.

Here we are again eh? People like us will be having this futile conversation for as long as Turkey is 96% Muslim at least.

As for smuggling Bibles in to Russia and following them to become a Russian Orthodox along with one hundred and fifty million others ... if that somehow compares as incarnationality with Captain Diagne and Father Fagba, fine. It does for you. Fine. And yes, I'm all for quietly contagious incarnationality, it would be much more preferable to rare heroes. Including prison chaplains.

I won't see any tomorrow night bar the twitching of a little finger during the 1% of my time and 0.1% of my 'potential'. Bugger all as I said at the top.

I give up.

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Love wins

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Amanda B. Reckondwythe

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# 5521

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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
Faith is shown by works. . . . Beliefs are two a penny.

For the quotes file . . . and new sig.

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"We're not in Wonderland anymore, Alice." – Charles Manson

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
And I am to judge the foolishness, the hubris that led those men to die for no faith at all, for no reason at all, no purpose, no gain for the Kingdom, for the gospel. Turkey is sealed, impervious for another thousand years. And another. And another.

I am mystified as to how you can be so sure of any of this. How can you know all the motives, causes, and effects? - and that they were inferior to your "incarnational" examples?

quote:
I don't know why or how you believe in God's capacity for supernatural intervention and that cannot be transferred. I am averse. I'm leadenly, grimly content that He consistently never does. Ever. Apart from in and around the Incarnation.
Why the exception? He decided to intervene just once? My view is that if supernatural intervention is acknowledged at least once, there is no reason it shouldn't happen more than once. It's either never at all or always a theoretical possibility. If you write off all the biblical accounts of supernatural intervention as primitive/mythological/ex-post fabrications, why change the rules when it comes to the Incarnation?

Besides, to my mind that supernatual invervention is ongoing to the extent that even as God became flesh in Christ, today he gives us his Spirit. That's at the heart of being "incarnational" today.
quote:
I can't see how it helps to believe otherwise apart from how it helps those who have to to get through the day.
I never made any claim to it helping. In many ways life would be a lot easier (at least intellectually) if that option could be ruled out entirely. But like I say, as far as I'm concerned ruling it out entirely rules out the claims about the Incarnation too, and yes I do think that leaves one without hope.
quote:
I won't see any tomorrow night bar the twitching of a little finger during the 1% of my time and 0.1% of my 'potential'
I have no idea at all what this means. But it looks as though you are being hard on yourself. If you are, and it's a byproduct of your "leaden, grimly content" stance, then I dare to think that your deterministic views are not the whole truth.
quote:
What has faith got to do with it? What?
Reflecting on your comments above, I think a large part of the answer is freedom. Faith stands over and against determinism. It generates hope, even when it is "hoping against hope". Because it has a personal dimension, it sets us free from the judgement of others. It spurs us to responsibility and maturity as we seek to live with both the personal conviction we have forged and a clear conscience, not simply before our peers but also in the sight of God.

This is beginning to sound like Romans 5:1-5:
quote:
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.


[ 09. December 2016, 05:48: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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Jamat
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quote:
I don't know why or how you believe in God's capacity for supernatural intervention and that cannot be transferred. I am averse. I'm leadenly, grimly content that He consistently never does
Just what the devil wants you to think. The Screwtape letters come to mind. God's weather 😳
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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Jamat:
God's weather 😳

Yeah OK then. Obvs God doesn't equally care enough about the massacres of Christians in Iraq and elsewhere to send protective weather.

Or maybe, in fact, the weather is not something that God controls supernaturally. How about that for a wild idea.

[ 09. December 2016, 07:18: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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arse

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Eutychus
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Billy Graham says in his autobiography somewhere that he could never fathom the relationship between God and weather.

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One has to take part. Scary as it is. - Martin60
Jerusalem is a city without walls

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hatless

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How does gravity make an apple fall? Not by spotting the moment the stalk detaches and deciding to accelerate the apple towards the centre of mass of the earth. It's as if gravity is in the apple all along, or is inseparable from the existence of earth, tree, apple and observer. Does it even make sense to speak of gravity? Does gravity exist? Is it just a construct, a reified human idea. We know that weight isn't a respectable term in physics, it's local and subjective. Does gravity do anything at all, apart from keeping us all on the ground and the planet in one piece and in orbit around our unshielded fusion reactor and my cornflakes in the bowl.

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My crazy theology in novel form

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Eutychus
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I thought gravity was to do with mass not weight.

I'll stick with the Son upholding all things by the power of his word (Heb 1:3). That doesn't invalidate, dismiss, or reject scientific theory - but it does infuse meaning.

If Scripture is just literary/philisophical/theological reification as opposed to scientific reification (my new word of the week), I'm going to be disappointed. In fact I'm going to be without hope in this world. Or has someone already said that?

[ 09. December 2016, 08:12: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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One has to take part. Scary as it is. - Martin60
Jerusalem is a city without walls

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I thought gravity was to do with mass not weight.

Weight is the effect of a large mass (e.g. the earth) on a small one (like an apple). It's a local thing; it's how much force things exert on whatever's holding them up when they're under a gravitational field.

So gravity's about both.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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