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Featured How to Read the Bible, and Still be a Christian

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by Windwalker, Oct 17, 2019.

  1. Windwalker

    Windwalker Integralist
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    This thread was inspired by another recently posted here called Excuses, Excuses, where it calls out, what I later identified as a typical believer's simple attempt to try to convince themselves through rationalizations to address their own cognitive dissonance when confronted with the stark contradiction of the differing presentations of God within scripture.

    For instance from the New Testament,

    The Path of Love Jesus

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.​

    Vengeful Payback For All Your Wrongs Jesus

    His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.
    ....

    The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia [180 miles].
    ...

    And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.”​

    You can find examples of this same irreconcilable difference in character attributed to God throughout the Old Testament books as well. Is God a Jekyll and Hyde with a split personality, one day Absolute Love, Grace, and Forgiveness, and the next day be filled with a lust of absolute destruction of human beings who dare pollute his holy perfection!? These cannot exist together in any experience of reality we can live with, without it cause damage to our minds and souls if we were to be subjected to that from the same person of trust in our lives. Even if they never would do that to us, they would do that to others and that make them a monster, or us a monster for condoning it.

    While I don't like to identify as following any particular religion, my background is in Christianity where I first learned the myths and was taught to believe them as literal and factual truths, and that to doubt them was to open yourself to deception of the devil trying to steal your faith from you. Nonetheless, the love for truth that was in my heart compelled me to question these contractory things I was hearing and being presented as a Divine Revelation not to be questioned.

    Very, very long story short, after a long time of distancing myself from Christianity and exploring more critical understandings of the world through modern sciences and research, I've taken an interest in what I would call attempting to rescue the Baby from the bathwater. Not everything in Christian faith is this wrath-filled angry God image that should scare the hell out of everyone of us. Those were the bits that really smelled "off" to me. But I clung to as best I could the good bits, like Jesus in the Beatitudes, quoted above, in order to swim in that stream with them for the sake of trying to find myself and grow spirituality. But who the heck is that frightening monster in Revelation? And why did that seem okay to them?

    So anyways, I've be reading from a very well respected, at times controversial modern historian and former Catholic monk, John Dominic Crossan. The last book I just finished reading of his is, How to Read the Bible and Still be a Christian: Is God Violent? I found it speak to me as a postmodernist to integralist thinking person, who happens to have a great deal of interior work in my own personal spirituality and faith, as it were. Rationally, and emotionally, I could never except the "excuses", the quasi-rational arguments as justification for accepting such contradictory positions of character. God becomes unpredictable and terrifying, that he could both be the God of Love, and be absolutely amoral at the same time as to be responsible for the atrocities attributed to him by various biblical authors, both Old and New Testaments.

    In a quick nutshell, his historical research and cross-disciplinary scholarship takes note of a shift in the various images of God arising at one time under surrounding circumstances set in the ancient Near East, as a Priestly image of God as one of non-violent, distributive justice, where all receive fair share of the bounty, to a radical shift to the Deuteronomic image of God as a violent, God of retributive justice, punishing, threatening, and cursing. He details all the verses and the scholarship behind the authors and their times. The contrast is plain to see, as in the above verses about Jesus I included.

    His observation, and I'd call it a very, very good one, is that this swing between the non-violent God of distributive justice, and the violent God retributive justice pulses back and forth in what he terms "the biblical heartbeat". You see this swing of culture everywhere actually, all the way to today. We swing from the progressive, to regressive, to progressive, etc., patterns in cyclical patterns, as we are even today in our social and political climates. That was no different then. And what you see in the Bible, is simply a wonderful collections of writings reflecting those social and cultural swings, that cyclical pattern, that we see today.

    I find that view he has unearthed changes the way in which someone who has a connection with the Christian faith, yet finds the image of God portrayed at times both contradictory and genuinely troublesome, that this helps takes away this created mythological image of the Bible as some "single message about God". That "Biblical Inerrancy" claim, is a modern mythology, which is purely a matter of faith without adequate evidential support. People of ancient times would never have thought in those terms. They were never think of these things in the terms we do today, especially those of modern apologists. Trying to use modern reason, to read a collection of mythologies of the various periods of time and place they were birthed out of, as some single roadmap to understanding God, is a deeply flawed, and impossible thing to do.

    For those interested, I found this presentation he did about his book from a few years back where he covers these points in greater detail.
     
    #1 Windwalker, Oct 17, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2019
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  2. leov

    leov Well-Known Member
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    OT is a theological treatise for many spiritual levels of understanding starting with bicameral mind, NT is more for progressed introspective mind ( Matt 5:20).
     
  3. wizanda

    wizanda One Accepts All Religious Texts
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    The Bible is a series of IQ morality tests to see who is worthy to exist; everything has a reason, and every contradiction leads to understanding.

    Proverbs 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

    Yahavah is legalistic, and wants people to have a clean heart; yet they insist on finding religious ways to being zealots without sentiment.

    The Lord is trying to correct people into listening, as we're down near Hell; where we are all stubborn mules in some way, unless someone directs us clearly.

    Yeshua wanted us to follow his knowledge; yet many follow death as a replacement - without even seeing it is there.

    Thus the Bible is a collection of writings before Christianity, warning us not to follow Christianity (John, Paul, and Simon); yet to seek the wisdom, and see the differences in wisdom Vs naivety.

    There is a fine line between following the Law given by God, and then over stepping it; we think only in terms of unconditional love, yet wisdom sometimes requires discipline to allow growth.

    Take into account the plant grows in the darkness, to reach towards the light; so that which is chastised isn't always hated, yet being taught to grow towards the light.

    In my opinion. :innocent:
     
  4. Audie

    Audie Veteran Member

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    Can we summarize that as "read with eyes tight shut"?
     
  5. sojourner

    sojourner Annoyingly Progressive Since 2006

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    Why would we? It’s scholastic, it’s unbiased, it’s analytical. What more do you want? Your infantile method of “interpretation” where the Bible is concerned is not Carte Blanche for you to sit in judgment of more considered opinions.
     
  6. sojourner

    sojourner Annoyingly Progressive Since 2006

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    You’re right on here. Kudos.

    I’m really worn out with people knocking the texts through a completely misapprehended idea of what they are and how to responsibly read them.
     
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  7. Deo Vindice

    Deo Vindice New Member

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    When you read the bible you're supposed to process it with your heart, not your mind.
    Your heart has to be purified by Jesus' blood through forgiveness first, though.
    Don't think, feel. Trying to understand/question god opens oneself to satan's manipulation.
     
  8. Audie

    Audie Veteran Member

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    So do you feel that if someone told you god
    commanded it, you too could raid a city, and
    kill everyone in sight? Except, that is, the virgin
    girls who you first of course have to strip and
    inspect to see if they are pure enough for you.
    If not, kill them. If so carry they away to their fate.

    How do you feel about that? Same way you
    would feel if you were one of the girls?
     
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  9. Desert Snake

    Desert Snake ️️️️️️️️️️

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    It's fairly easy to read the Bible, and be a Jesus follower.

    Not going with your interpretations, though.
     
  10. icehorse

    icehorse Well-Known Member
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    spiritual anti-theist : )
    This is one of many such orientations I've heard. Given the large claims people make on behalf of their scripture, it sure would be nice if apologists would agree on the perspective from which one *ought* to read.
     
  11. Windwalker

    Windwalker Integralist
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    No, we really can't summarize that way. Not even remotely. It's with eyes, and mind, wide open, taking in as much knowledge and information as we can, rather than swallowing a prepackaged mythology whole. We're living in the 21st century, not the 12th.
     
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  12. Audie

    Audie Veteran Member

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    Maybe you could summarize it yourself then? It was
    a bit long n convoluted.
     
  13. Windwalker

    Windwalker Integralist
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    I hear what you're saying here, and I am somewhat in agreement, but it's not that simple. Yes, there is an evolving understanding of God, but there is also running right along side that track the cycle of pull and push, affirm and deny all the way up the levels of development. That push/pull or affirm/deny is also seen in the NT, as it is seen in the OT.

    The Priestly vision all the way back in the book of Genesis, echos that transcendent world, that "kingdom of God" Jesus spoke of. And just as you have that nightmare vision of Jesus Christ in the book of Revelation, you also have the transcendent vision of God in the Old Testament, right alongside that spiteful and vengeful deity of the Deuteronomic vision, as well as later the terror of Jehovah mirroring that vicious Assyrian god Ashur.

    So both of these faces of God, these projections of what God is like seen through different eyes and different time, within the overall general stage of human development from the early archaic and magic forms of religion, to the mythic stages found in earliest stratas, to the more universal, cosmopolitan God of a more evolved culture in an empiric Roman world.

    It's helped me to understanding that it's not just the OT God is the God of Vengeance and Violence, but there is also the "Gentle Jesus" image of God back then too. We just imagine Jesus changed all that. But if we read the book of Revelation... guess who's back again? That projection of Ultimate Reality as imagined in God, reflects existentially human's confrontation with the Infinite. Both faces of God do. One is the face of terror, and the other the face of love and peace.

    It's really helping me to put things into perspective like this for myself.
     
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  14. Windwalker

    Windwalker Integralist
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    I think the term you mean is dense. It's actually not convoluted but systematically thorough as I could be given a brief space. There is a great deal in that post to unpack, I know. It took some effort to make it short as it is.

    I just posted a response to someone else right before this post here. Check that one and see if it helps condense it down. It's a challenge for me to put it simply, so just ask and it will give me better practice to be more concise.
     
  15. Windwalker

    Windwalker Integralist
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    Yikes!! To see who is worth to exist? Wow. :) We'd better get our acts together toot sweet then, before the God who created us destroys us. Shape up boys, daddy's come back with an axe for you!

    I've never heard it put quite so bluntly as, "worthy to exist". It's a little jarring.
     
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  16. Rival

    Rival Unicorn
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    Great to know what you think about the Jewish people not being as mentally advanced. Not vitriolic at all.
     
  17. Windwalker

    Windwalker Integralist
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    Thank you. There was a post @Sunstone had posted recently about there being more challenging, or some other word he used posts than the typical fundamentalist bouncy balls we see all the time. And this is something that I've been processing personally after finding myself drawn to him, as his thinking is more than just academic scholarship, but it reflects of vision of the world as I've seen it, looking through the more integral spiritual frameworks, rooted and grounded in deep personal experience.

    Why aren't discussions like this being had, rather than rehashing that the earth can't possibly be 6000 years old, drivel nonsense? That's child's play, there are serious other views that people who don't think of these things as challenges to modern knowledge and intellectual integrity, have in their understanding of longstanding faith traditions. "That's can't possibly be real", is what a child argues with his friend who is making some claim of seeing a magic toad in the forest. The subject of God and existence, is far, far, far, far, more deep and involved than that very limited range of understanding.

    Behind all the masks and myths we create, there is Truth that lives in everyone of us. And that is that existential Core, which connects us with Life itself. So to begin to understand that all of it, all our words, all our images we project from ourselves on the screen of the Infinite, are all coming from that same Core, I can hear that soul of ancient times reaching out with that same existential longing as me today. Time is irrelevant. Words are irrelevant. It is the longing to connect to the Source which gives us existence that is present in everything we do, no matter our languages, or our mythologies.

    It's nice for me to be able to legitimately embrace and identify with the teachings of scripture which do resonate with me still, without this "how the hell can there be that other stuff in there" contradictory face of God confusion. But even respecting its presence is important in understanding that both the fallibility of us as humans projected on to God, see God as the ultimate expression of human culture (half the bible), and as the ultimate expression of our existential desire for Unity with the Divine, "on earth as in heaven". It's that same push pull within all of us, moving from our spiritual core, to the world system. And that makes it a valuable book, if viewed this way.
     
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  18. leov

    leov Well-Known Member
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    i side with Valentinian version , and somewhat with Kabalistic Sephiroth, emanations. God of OT was emanation of True God for certain purpose.
     
  19. Windwalker

    Windwalker Integralist
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    But when what you read disturbs your heart, to the point it affects how you feel about God and threatens your faith, then the mind has to maybe try to figure out what that is. Trying to deny that, to repress that is detrimental to faith. That's what this thread is about. And yes, I do listen with my heart, but I also engage my mind, rather than suppress it in the misguided name of faith.

    Not asking questions leads to what you say.
     
  20. leov

    leov Well-Known Member
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    i think that they are more clairvoyant than average human per Abraham's pattern.
     
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