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Youngin

The bible is a work of fiction

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Regarding history and the Church, one reason we converted from Baptist to Lutheran was we found the Lutheran claims of historicity in doctrine compelling. There is an overwhelming amount of Patristic evidence as to doctrine. We don't have to go "just to the Bible" to see what the Church has always taught. At the time (i.e., when we were Lutherans) we still held to the notion of sola scriptura, but we did not hold to a nuda scriptura where only the bare words of the Bible could be considered when determining doctrine. Rather, we believed what the Church had always taught as to the Bible.

This became problematic when we encountered Lutherans who DID hold to a nuda scriptura view, as well as when I studied Church history. For example, I'm aware of the catacomb evidence of St. Peter's historical existence primarily because the evidence consists of Greek carvings that say things like "Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us." So I began to question the Lutheran objections to prayer for intercession of the Saints, since it was something the Church had always done. I also began to question the Lutheran claims to have "recovered" or "reformed" the doctrines of the Church to what "the Bible teaches," since it occurred to me that there is an historic community of believers in both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, but there is no such community of Lutherans -- they arose in the 16th Century. And as I studied history, primarily the Ecumenical Councils of the Church, it became obvious that through roughly the 8th Century, everyone believed largely the same thing. Some Fathers taught errant doctrines, and I've heard it said that 100% of the Fathers are right 85% of the time. But there was a core of the Christian faith that could be determined historically. So it fell to which of these two great Churches the evidence revealed still held to the truth. We determined that was the Eastern Orthodox Church.

The point of this is simple. My faith is not built on "the Bible" in a vacuum. That's how you seem to be taking the Scriptures -- you start there, read them, and then determine for yourself without regard to history whether they are true. If the Bible fails in some point, you decide the Bible isn't "true." For me, though, I look at the Church, her historical claims, her Bishops and Patriarchs and martyrs, and I see a consistent teaching throughout time. Ignatius wrote about the authority of Bishops exactly what my Church teaches to this day, as one example, and Ignatius certainly knew St. John and probably knew St. Peter who founded his See. And it is this same Church that I belong to that canonized the Bible, and they didn't do it based on some esoteric view, but rather in light of the Holy Tradition of the Church as they had received it. In the 4th Century, when Scripture first began to be canonized in a formal sense, the Church chose the canonical books based not on whether they were "authored by God" (the Bible is not like the claims of the Koran). Rather, they chose the canonical books of the New Testament based on which ones agreed with the Faith as they had received it. And they received it Bishop to Bishop to Bishop, starting with the Apostles. This is documented in the Book of Acts, but it is also well and thoroughly documented elsewhere.

So my question to you would be simple. What is YOUR view of how the Church developed? Where do YOU think the Scriptures came from? If the claim is "Jesus, and probably Peter, and who knows who else never existed," then how do you historically deal with the evidence that they did? If you say "Jesus isn't mentioned by eyewitnesses," and even if you take the modern and not-well-established claim that the New Testament was not written by the people who claim to have written it, who did? When? And what of these communities that existed that taught the Faith? How did they come about? Who founded them? How do you explain the geographic spread of Christianity in such a uniform manner, to the extent that all five historic 1st Century Patriarchates exist to this very day and four of them are still in communion together as one Church?

It's one thing to say "I don't believe it happened like you say it did." But OBVIOUSLY it happened in SOME sense or we wouldn't have the Church? So how do you say all of this came about? Instead of saying "I question this, that or the other," fill in the gaps for me and tell me how we got to this point in history.

Because I can take you back through history and document my claims.

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I really wish this thread was in ABF, I'd love to have more than just our opinions on it.

I agree, repeating a claim doesn't make it true so why keep saying there's a scholarly consensus? There's plenty out there who disagree and therefore, there is no consensus. There is no general agreement or unanimity.

I disagree on the Ephesians passage (and let's not cut it off). The first part was omitted in your quote (although I know this wasn't done maliciously): Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

So when Christ was allegedly alive and crucified and labeled the savior, people didn't know? Really? And now the only way it's known is by revelation by the Spirit. Where am I reading that wrong?

Yes, I meant 3rd or 4th century on the age of Bible.

I'm simply looking at the Bible and saying what's out there that confirms this and there's nothing there. By all means, feel free to point me in the direction of things I might have missed. Also, I feel the need to reiterate that I haven't reached a final conclusion yet.

Not familiar with Ehrman yet.

Authorship of John, Mark, Peter, Luke are all questioned and from what I can gather most agree that the disciples did not write them but that the names were attributed to them.

As for Nazareth, yes, I know it's on a map now but isn't it odd that the Old Testament and the historians of the day don't mention the birthplace of the Savior?

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Regarding history and the Church, one reason we converted from Baptist to Lutheran was we found the Lutheran claims of historicity in doctrine compelling. There is an overwhelming amount of Patristic evidence as to doctrine. We don't have to go "just to the Bible" to see what the Church has always taught. At the time (i.e., when we were Lutherans) we still held to the notion of sola scriptura, but we did not hold to a nuda scriptura where only the bare words of the Bible could be considered when determining doctrine. Rather, we believed what the Church had always taught as to the Bible.

This became problematic when we encountered Lutherans who DID hold to a nuda scriptura view, as well as when I studied Church history. For example, I'm aware of the catacomb evidence of St. Peter's historical existence primarily because the evidence consists of Greek carvings that say things like "Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us." So I began to question the Lutheran objections to prayer for intercession of the Saints, since it was something the Church had always done. I also began to question the Lutheran claims to have "recovered" or "reformed" the doctrines of the Church to what "the Bible teaches," since it occurred to me that there is an historic community of believers in both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, but there is no such community of Lutherans -- they arose in the 16th Century. And as I studied history, primarily the Ecumenical Councils of the Church, it became obvious that through roughly the 8th Century, everyone believed largely the same thing. Some Fathers taught errant doctrines, and I've heard it said that 100% of the Fathers are right 85% of the time. But there was a core of the Christian faith that could be determined historically. So it fell to which of these two great Churches the evidence revealed still held to the truth. We determined that was the Eastern Orthodox Church.

The point of this is simple. My faith is not built on "the Bible" in a vacuum. That's how you seem to be taking the Scriptures -- you start there, read them, and then determine for yourself without regard to history whether they are true. If the Bible fails in some point, you decide the Bible isn't "true." For me, though, I look at the Church, her historical claims, her Bishops and Patriarchs and martyrs, and I see a consistent teaching throughout time. Ignatius wrote about the authority of Bishops exactly what my Church teaches to this day, as one example, and Ignatius certainly knew St. John and probably knew St. Peter who founded his See. And it is this same Church that I belong to that canonized the Bible, and they didn't do it based on some esoteric view, but rather in light of the Holy Tradition of the Church as they had received it. In the 4th Century, when Scripture first began to be canonized in a formal sense, the Church chose the canonical books based not on whether they were "authored by God" (the Bible is not like the claims of the Koran). Rather, they chose the canonical books of the New Testament based on which ones agreed with the Faith as they had received it. And they received it Bishop to Bishop to Bishop, starting with the Apostles. This is documented in the Book of Acts, but it is also well and thoroughly documented elsewhere.

So my question to you would be simple. What is YOUR view of how the Church developed? Where do YOU think the Scriptures came from? If the claim is "Jesus, and probably Peter, and who knows who else never existed," then how do you historically deal with the evidence that they did? If you say "Jesus isn't mentioned by eyewitnesses," and even if you take the modern and not-well-established claim that the New Testament was not written by the people who claim to have written it, who did? When? And what of these communities that existed that taught the Faith? How did they come about? Who founded them? How do you explain the geographic spread of Christianity in such a uniform manner, to the extent that all five historic 1st Century Patriarchates exist to this very day and four of them are still in communion together as one Church?

It's one thing to say "I don't believe it happened like you say it did." But OBVIOUSLY it happened in SOME sense or we wouldn't have the Church? So how do you say all of this came about? Instead of saying "I question this, that or the other," fill in the gaps for me and tell me how we got to this point in history.

Because I can take you back through history and document my claims.

Please do Dave, as I do not know the history of the church and as I've said, I'm in an "I don't know" place right now and feel that I need to "pee or get off the pot" so to speak so anything you can point me to that I need to check out and consider, I'd be grateful...

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I really wish this thread was in ABF, I'd love to have more than just our opinions on it.

I agree, repeating a claim doesn't make it true so why keep saying there's a scholarly consensus? There's plenty out there who disagree and therefore, there is no consensus. There is no general agreement or unanimity.

"Consensus" doesn't mean unanimity. It means MOST scholars agree. And they do -- with me, that is.

I disagree on the Ephesians passage (and let's not cut it off). The first part was omitted in your quote: Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

So when Christ was allegedly alive and crucified and labeled the savior, people didn't know? Really? And now the only way it's known is by revelation by the Spirit. Where am I reading that wrong?

Who are His "holy apostles and prophets?" You seem to be saying that means "St. Paul, and only him." And who are the "sons of men" in "other ages?" You seem to be saying that's everyone before St. Paul. Neither of those are correct, and neither of them fairly follow from the passage.

Yes, I meant 3rd or 4th century on the age of Bible.

I'm simply looking at the Bible and saying what's out there that confirms this and there's nothing there. By all means, feel free to point me in the direction of things I might have missed. Also, I feel the need to reiterate that I haven't reached a final conclusion yet.

But that's just not true, Cappy. You say "there's nothing there." I'm telling you the history. I've pointed you already to Ignatius and Clement -- start there and work forward. The writings are there. If you don't know about them, that doesn't mean they don't exist.

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Authorship of John, Mark, Peter, Luke are all questioned and from what I can gather most agree that the disciples did not write them but that the names were attributed to them.

As for Nazareth, yes, I know it's on a map now but isn't it odd that the Old Testament and the historians of the day don't mention the birthplace of the Savior?

I don't dispute the authorship is questioned, but I find it interesting that the consensus for the historicity of Jesus is much greater than the consensus for non-Apostolic authorship of the Gospels, which is why I said you were special pleading before.

And Nazareth IS mentioned in historical writings, as the link I provided demonstrated. But it was not a center of commerce. It was a tiny little town at the time (as, for the record, was Bethlehem and many other NT historical sites). It's not going to be discussed in the same breath as Jerusalem, Rome, Jericho, etc. Unless something happens there, that is.

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Please do Dave, as I do not know the history of the church and as I've said, I'm in an "I don't know" place right now and feel that I need to "pee or get off the pot" so to speak so anything you can point me to that I need to check out and consider, I'd be grateful...

It's a hard read, but start with "Eusebius: The Church History." It's pretty solid, and it's ancient in origin. Keep in mind Eusebius was likely an Arian (i.e., a heretic), so it's not apologetic in nature and may skew things in that direction, but the history is good.

I'd also recommend the series by Jaraslov Pelikan "The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine." It's multi-volume, but it's also very good and well documented.

Pelikan's "Whose Bible Is It?: A Short History of the Scriptures" is also very good on the development of the canon.

And read the Didache. It's not all that long, and it's also not all that overtly Christian (though it is decidedly Christian in origin). It will give you a good idea of how the Church operated in the 1st Century. The letters of Ignatius are good for this also. Both should be online.

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I'm an anti-religious person. I have no problem with people believing what they want- so long as they don't mess with me or mine- but personally I think religion is a system of political control and manipulation cooked up by kings, emperors, and other powers-that-be over the centuries used to justify evil and subdue people into accepting their lot in life.

But I'm also a spiritual person that believes that consciousness is in itself SO PROFOUND that I am thoroughly convinced there is "more than meets the eye" when it comes to the nature of the universe and matter and our understanding of it. To me, atheists are the same as evangelical preachers trying to tell me I'll go to **** if I don't do this or that. Busting organized religion for the complete scam that is is fine to me, but to say with 100% certainty that THERE IS NO GOD is exactly the same as those preachers- as science and human knowledge has NEVER proved the non-existence of god, it is a statement of "faith". So sorry atheists, you don't know the truth anymore than the bible-thumpers you so hate.

That said, there's obvious truth in the bible (at least Old Testament). It is NOT a "work of fiction", at least not completely, because other historical documents have been able to verify parts of the OT. So the entire premise of the OP is patently false.

It's also pretty clear, at least to me, that parts of the Bible are meant as parable or metaphor to explain ideas that a pre-scientific, primitive, tribal people could not otherwise understand.

Yes, all the weird rules listed in Leviticus are easy to make fun of. But whoever wrote them had a pretty advanced understanding of hygiene and germ theory for the time. Gotta acknowledge that, right? Maybe the reasoning for following these rules is off (do it or GOD will smite you!!!!), but the ideas behind them are sound and since proven by science. It was probably a really bad idea to eat random shellfish and pork in the days before proper sanitation and antibiotics.

Same thing with the creation story in Genesis- if you take it as a metaphor so that pre-scientific people could understand the creation of the Earth and life on Earth, then it's pretty darn accurate. Earth before life, plant and animal life before man, etc.

It's also important to note that the same arguments about the bible's authenticity can be applied to almost any document that old. Our entire understanding of ancient history and "prehistory" is based on subjective interpretations and analyses of very old, incomplete data. Science constantly revises and corrects itself, and yes that is superior to accepting things on faith. But it also goes to show that what once was accepted as fact- verifiable, testable, scientific fact- changes over time. And academic/scholarly history is similar to religion in that it clings to old theories and "facts" (faith) in spite of dissenting evidence. For example the insistence on a complete lack of inter-ecumenal contact before European exploration in the 15th century AD, despite evidence to the contrary, like cocaine (strictly a product of the "New World") in Egyptian mummies or ancient Chinese pottery shards found in South America. Often times these same people who roll their eyes at anything religious will not even stop to think about all the inconsistencies and contradictions in our history as dictated by historians/anthropologists/archaeologists.

Anyway, to me, the person who takes a literal interpretation of everything in the Bible and believes the Earth is only a few thousand years old is EXACTLY THE SAME as the person who claims the Bible is only good for lighting a fire or wiping your ***. You're both morons and you're both seriously misinterpreting one of the most valuable documents in history.

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Repost this topic in ABF. At least the part about the historicity of Jesus.

Never come on this part of the site, but clicked on the topic from main page out of curiousity. Sad stuff within this thread.

I pray that any of you looking for your path find Jesus Christ. If I can share anything, it's to have faith and love one another...and join a bible based church. :)

If you haven't seen it, check out the Passion Of The Christ. Actually a pretty solid rendition of Jesus lastp hours on earth.

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"Paul" isn't an "it." He wrote numerous works in the NT, and there are some who speculate he wrote the Didache in the 1st century. And nowhere does St. Paul say "Jesus didn't exist but solely in the physical realm." I'd like to see a citation for that quote. It appears you are making an argument from silence, which is no argument at all since St. Paul by his own account did not meet the Lord until after the ascension as you note.

Cappy, all of the above basically is akin to me saying "there is no clear evidence that Homer ever existed" or "there is no evidence that Herodotus ever existed." It's easy to say Jesus never existed if you are just going to blithely take all of the source material out of play without any real basis for doing so. Historians certainly don't do this. Which is why I mentioned the scholarship and the scholarly consensus (which is overwhelming) that Jesus was a real, historical person.

But beyond that, you miss my point. I'll repeat: as proof that Peter existed, in addition to the above I offer again the line of bishops in our Patriarchate. My bishop was ordained by his predecessor, who was ordained by his predecessor, and so on. When you trace that line back, it stops at St. Peter. St. Ignatius, who is the third Bishop of Antioch (my Church, for what it's worth), was ordained by Evodius who was appointed Bishop of Antoich by -- you got it -- St. Peter. St. Ignatius wrote extensively and his letters are available for you to read. He was also a disciple of St. John. I'll also offer the writings of St. Clement of Rome, who wrote to the Church in Corinth in the late 1st century about Peter and Paul.

Now, I suppose you could say "there is no clear evidence Clement or Ignatius existed," and in fact you could say there is no clear evidence that I exist, but at the end of the day, history is just not on your side here. At some point the writings are so prolific that you really can't get around it. Ignatius is most likely a contemporary of Peter, and at the very least only 1 generation removed. Clement was probably born around the time Peter was martyred. If you are going to say "these writings are frauds" or whatever, then the burden is on you to demonstrate such, preferably by showing where the supposed fraud was invented and first written about. At the very least you should be able to demonstrate a more significant gap between the documented events in the Gospels and Acts and the writings of early Christians who corroborate them. Blindly dismissing the source material isn't helpful, and it certainly isn't something we tend to do with other texts. I suspect your skepticism is more a rank bias here, or perhaps the bias of the sources of your "research." I'd be curious to know what you are reading.

I have never seen or heard of Matthew and Luke having a 10 year difference between the birth dates. I'd like to see proof of that. I reject that "the Gospels" ere "just embellished copies of Mark." No scholar says that. Some say that Matthew was based on Mark, but that involves some sketchy textual criticism. Really, no one says John was based on Mark and there is no real basis for doing so. Even if they did, the same scholars who you would rely on say Jesus was a real, live historical person. So it would seem you rely on their scholarship where it suits you and reject it where you prefer to. That's just special pleading.

Do you have a source for your claim that "there's no clear evidence" that a city of Nazareth existed back then?" Again, this is one I've never heard, and again, you are throwing out the source material where it suits you, for the Bible gives ample evidence that Nazareth not only existed but was the birthplace of a pretty important person.

Your claim is like saying "we don't know that Homer even existed -- unless you believe the claims of authorship of the Iliad and the Odyssey, which is just silly!"

Dave, are you of the Orthodox religion? I was Chrismated on Holy Saturday. Grew up Catholic, and must say that having this background allows me to appreciate what the Orthodox faith has to offer so much more. It has remained untouched since the beginning; the only Christian faith that can make this claim.

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It says in the book of Revelation that we will overcome by the blood of the Lamb (Jesus) and the word of our testimony (what Jesus has done in my life). You can debate all day but you can't move me from my testimony. It's solid through my relationship with Jesus, his Word and me "walking it out". Praise God!

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Dave, are you of the Orthodox religion? I was Chrismated on Holy Saturday. Grew up Catholic, and must say that having this background allows me to appreciate what the Orthodox faith has to offer so much more. It has remained untouched since the beginning; the only Christian faith that can make this claim.

Congratulations and God grant you many years! I am Orthodox. We were Lutheran, and were Chrismated at the Nativity.

How did you like the Resurrection Service on Holy Saturday? I'm still trying to pick my jaw up off the ground.

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Cappy, I ran across one other book I'd recommend. It is written by Dr. Paul Maier, a professor of ancient history at Western Michigan University. It's called "In the Fullness of Time," and it is a lay accessible work by an established historian. I don't always agree with Dr. Maier (he is a Lutheran and in some of his lectures and interviews I've heard, he brings a ton of Protestant assumptions to the table and sometimes doesn't do a good job of distinguishing those from what the history shows). But his credentials are solid as a rock.

http://www.amazon.com/Fullness-Time-Historian-Christmas-Easter/dp/0825433290/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

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Congratulations and God grant you many years! I am Orthodox. We were Lutheran, and were Chrismated at the Nativity.

How did you like the Resurrection Service on Holy Saturday? I'm still trying to pick my jaw up off the ground.

I knew it! I know. We tried to go to every service during Holy Week, which I think adds up to 12 or 13 services. Good Friday and the Resurrection Service were the longest, by far. It was a great experience, though. Christo Anesti!

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I knew it! I know. We tried to go to every service during Holy Week, which I think adds up to 12 or 13 services. Good Friday and the Resurrection Service were the longest, by far. It was a great experience, though. Christo Anesti!

Alithos anesti!

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God is real. All holy books are facets of his word. I do Not believe him to be a petty overseer. He is a being of immense power, why would he care what book you revere or how you worship. Maybe just some gratitude for allowing your existence.

Bibles or other holy books are one part history, one part allegory and one part work of faith. Embrace it if moves you. The bible, if nothing else, should envoke debate and ask you to question your heart and the light which is your soul.

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I wanted to be sure this was included here, too, even though I put it in the other thread in AFB.

Here are two really good podcasts showing the two different sides of this debate. The first is an interview with Dr. Bart Ehrman, and the second is a response to that interview by Dr. John Warwick Montgomery. They are long, but if you do what I do and download them to an iPod and listen to them in the car they are easy to follow.

Ehrman

Montgomery

Dr. Montgomery gets a little preachy at the end of his, which is unfortunate (I wish he'd have stuck with the historical issues), but it doesn't detract from the intellectual weight of his refutation.

The biggest thing that struck me was Ehrman's dismissive attitude toward the texts. For example, he says something to the effect of "we know Peter, James and Jude were illiterate, so there is no way they wrote the epistles attributed to them." Well, that's not sufficient evidence and here's why.

This is a picture of the icon my Chrismation sponsor gave me when I was Chrismated. It is an icon of my Patron Saint, John the Apostle, dictating the Gospel to Saint Prochorus:

jeanpatm.jpg

Saint Prochorus was banished to Patmos along with Saint John, but returned to Nicomedia after that (he was Bishop of Nicomedia). As an aside, and as Dr. Montgomery noted, Saint John also authenticated some of the other books of the Bible, including the authorship of the four Gospels, the Book of Acts and his Gospel and Revelation. You have to -- literally -- ignore the historical evidence of that and go straight to speculative "higher criticism" of the text to get around the historic authorship. And as Dr. Montgomery points out, higher criticism has its own problems, not the least of which is that when it is applied to modern texts, it frequently misattributes authorship.

Back to the icon, this was not atypical of the books of the New Testament. The letters of Paul probably came from his hand, but it was not uncommon for people who were less learned to dictate their writings to someone who could read and write. So even if Peter, James and Jude were illiterate (and this is far from proven in itself -- it is also highly speculative), that does not require the conclusion Ehrman reaches as to the authorship of the texts attributed to them.

If you give a critical listen to the claims of Ehrman and the refutation by Montgomery, I think the manifest leaps of logic that Ehrman takes are evident. That doesn't mean you have to agree with Montgomery, but IMHO, blindly believing the New Testament is "forged" as Ehrman and a tiny handful of others claims is untenable. The evidence against that theory is simply overwhelming.

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I wanted to include this here, though I found it for another thread. This is Father Stephen Freeman on the question posed here:

http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2009/01/18/is-the-bible-true/

Is The Bible True?

By fatherstephen

family-bible

There is a fundamentalist anxiety that I hold in great sympathy. My sympathy is driven by the fact that I lived for many years under the burden of that very anxiety. It is the hidden fear that possibly, despite all faith exercised in the opposite direction, the Bible may not, in fact, be true. A great deal of energy is spent in maintaining the integrity of the dike that withstands this anxiety.

I grew in the shadow of Bob Jones University, one of the most prominent bastions of American fundamentalism. The ideas of that university permeate not only the students who study there, but in many ways the surrounding culture of Christianity in the area. The fear is pointed towards Darwin and any possibility of his evolutionary theory. It drives biology students at the university to reach strange conclusions, regardless of the science. I was taught at age ten by a biology student from Bob Jones, in a Baptist summer camp, that blacks were simply biological inferior to whites based on false information that he shared with a group of young, impressionable kids. Perhaps his biology was not the product of his university classes. But it was as baseless as much of the science that was done there.

The same fear drives the concern for the Flood of Noah and the age of the planet (not to mention any possible hint of evolutionary science). Thus the earth must be young, the flood must be literal (with perhaps a still existing Ark on Mt. Ararat). Science has an answer that it must prove, rather than a question to be answered. The agenda of such fundamentalist science is set by the need to refute anything that possibly undermines a peculiar view of Scripture. One flaw and the entire house of cards comes tumbling down.

It makes for bad science and even worse Biblical interpretation.

I am no friend of liberal Biblical studies. I suffered under such oppression for a number of years and can say that fundamentalism also has a liberal form. I was punished (intellectually) for believing all of the articles of the Nicene Creed as much as a Darwinist would suffer at Bob Jones. But that is its own story.

The history of literalism is a checkered affair. Some of the early fathers leaned in a literalist direction for many parts of Scripture, though leaving room for other, more symbolic approaches, where appropriate. The great battles over the historical literalism of Scripture arose in the 18th and 18th centuries in Europe and America (battles over certain scientific matters versus literalism began even earlier).

Part of the tragedy in these battles was that the battlefield itself was a fairly newly-defined area and failed to take into account the full history of Biblical interpretation. For a young believer in the midst of America’s own intellectual religious wars in the late 20th century – my question was whether the choices presented were the only choices available.

I should preface my remaining remarks with the simple affirmation: I believe the Bible is true.

Having said that, I must add that the Scriptures do not stand as an independent work of literature or a self-contained Holy Book. The Bible is not God’s revelation to man: Jesus Christ is God’s revelation to man. The Scriptures bear witness to Him and are thus “true” as a true witness to the God/Man Jesus Christ.

As others have noted, the Scriptures are true as they are accepted and understood by the Church that received them. They are Scripture as recognized by the Church and cannot be removed from the Church only to turn them against the Church. They are unique writings, and must be read in a unique way. That way is found in the liturgies of the Church and the commentaries of the Fathers.

It is also true that within the writings of the Fathers there can be a variety of opinion on a number of Scriptural matters. The essential agreement is their testimony to Christ. Genesis is about Christ. Exodus is about Christ, and so forth. Read any other way, the books are interesting, but they will not be read in a manner that has been received by the Orthodox Christian Church.

Of course, the historical method (whether literal or historical critical) represents only two possibly ways of reading the text of Scripture. There are assumptions behind both that are problematic from an Orthodox perspective. For many, the notion of “salvation history” has become so dominant that they cannot think about history in any manner other than that which they have been taught. I can think of a number of problems:

First – the traditional modern view (whether fundamentalist or otherwise) of history, is a matter of chronology. It sees a beginning at some point in the past and a progression to some point in the future. This same chain of events is generally viewed as reality, or the ground of reality, and championed above all other things. God acts in history, they will argue, but history is somehow the reality with which God has to deal.

This is highly problematic for an Orthodox theological understanding. Not only does Scripture treat history as quite relative (Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, He is also the “Lamb slain from the foundations of the earth”), it in fact makes history subject to the end of things – making history simply one aspect of lived eschatology.

Thus time and chronology do not govern reality – God governs reality.

By the same token, Holy Scripture is a Divine account of reality, not itself explained by chronology nor subject to historical validation, but subject to the Truth as it is made known to us in Jesus Christ. Thus the New Testament is Scripture, though the writings of Josephus or Tacitus are mere history.

There is a nervousness that runs through the body fundamentalist when phrases such as “mere history” are uttered. It is a nervousness that is born of the attempts of liberal modernists to dismiss as “myth and fiction” what are seen as events essential to our salvation in Christ. No one who is a believer could treat such anxiety with anything but sympathy. In many ways, with the tools at hand, conservatives in Western Christianity have fought a valiant fight to defend the faith against a serious contender. But that fight does not justify every argument advanced by fundamentalism. Orthodoxy offers a different approach.

I recognize a nervousness that occurs among many conservatives if “truth” is approached in any manner other than literal. Liberals have played games with words for so many years that believers are rightly wary of word-games. On the other hand, for theological accuracy, it is necessary to speak of truth and its character in Christian revelation. The Scriptures tell us that Jesus Christ Himself is the Truth. This is not to say that He is the Truth as compared to some external criterion of truth, but rather that He Himself is the criterion and definition of what is true. Things are true and false only as they are compared to Him. He may be compared to nothing else.

By that token, it is problematic to define “truth” by some particular standard of “historicity.” I understand the importance of saying, “This is really true,” and would never want to deny such a thing. The tomb on Pascha was empty, Christ is truly raised from the dead by every standard and then transcending every standard. His resurrection is the true ground of all reality.

Having said that, it must also be said that the Scriptures are true (as Scriptures) only inasmuch as they reveal Christ as the risen Lord and what that means for all creation. The witness of the Church is that these writings do precisely that and are thus Scripture. But it is the resurrection of Christ that undergirds the Scriptures and not vice versa. The disciples did not understand the Scriptures until they understood the risen Lord. And this remains the case.

Thus the import of Noah’s flood is to be found in Holy Baptism and not the other way around. Creation as shared in the first chapter of Genesis is an unfolding of the Paschal mystery and it is from that mystery that it derives its value. I could multiply such examples. When this principle is forgotten, Christians find themselves arguing over points of geology or archaeology and not over the triumphant resurrection of Christ. If Christ is risen from the dead, everything else becomes moot. If Christ is not risen from the dead, then all Christian statements become moot.

Christ is risen from the dead.

What can we say to these things? The Scriptures are true because Christ is risen from the dead and this is their message. The faith of the Orthodox is that all things find their beginning and their end – their meaning and their fulfillment in the Pascha of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is the good news. What other good news could there be?

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If you haven't seen it, check out the Passion Of The Christ. Actually a pretty solid rendition of Jesus lastp hours on earth.

While this entire thread is extremely amusing, i find this particular phrase the supernova in this already bright star cluster. I mean, like wow. A "solid rendition" eh? You mean we found the old videos and photos finally and then Mel went and made a movie (i guess a documentary?) about the whole thing.

I find Random's entire rebuttal to be so grand, and most of the rests' replies to be so lacking. The main point has been made - just because a single person has strong beliefs does not make them so. So stop trying to spread your beliefs unto others who don't want to believe them and would rather you not.

Two things have turned out to be the downfall of man - the belief in a god, and to a lesser extent money or a monetary system. But by far belief in god is destroying us quicker and better. Only man goes to war in the name of a god he cannot see in the hopes he will be rewarded with a rich afterlife. Only man stops scientific research that could better life in the name of a god he has not met. Only man limits his own self-beliefs and his mind in the name of a god he can not listen to.

Some people have put in that materiel things from the bible have been physically found, thereby proving their precious book of myths. Well, Homer and countless others have wrote of other times gone by and gods they thought were great in Greece. And for a long period of time nothing was found to prove they had existed either. Not that this is recent or anything, but not too long ago we finally 'rediscovered' Troy. Does that mean that all those long ago Greek gods were real too? Uh oh. Look out christians. You've got serious competition. And they found a whole town!

Sorry. Bad ramble. To direct reply - most definitely is the bible a work of fiction. It's the belief in some god (and that beliefs' almost crazed devotion) that causes this same book to not be placed in the mythology section where it should be. I mean, sure it makes for great reading on how to live ones' life as a just and true man. But you shouldn't need some 'god' to threaten violence in this life or the next to get you to be this kind of person.

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While this entire thread is extremely amusing, i find this particular phrase the supernova in this already bright star cluster. I mean, like wow. A "solid rendition" eh? You mean we found the old videos and photos finally and then Mel went and made a movie (i guess a documentary?) about the whole thing.

I find Random's entire rebuttal to be so grand, and most of the rests' replies to be so lacking. The main point has been made - just because a single person has strong beliefs does not make them so. So stop trying to spread your beliefs unto others who don't want to believe them and would rather you not.

Two things have turned out to be the downfall of man - the belief in a god, and to a lesser extent money or a monetary system. But by far belief in god is destroying us quicker and better. Only man goes to war in the name of a god he cannot see in the hopes he will be rewarded with a rich afterlife. Only man stops scientific research that could better life in the name of a god he has not met. Only man limits his own self-beliefs and his mind in the name of a god he can not listen to.

Some people have put in that materiel things from the bible have been physically found, thereby proving their precious book of myths. Well, Homer and countless others have wrote of other times gone by and gods they thought were great in Greece. And for a long period of time nothing was found to prove they had existed either. Not that this is recent or anything, but not too long ago we finally 'rediscovered' Troy. Does that mean that all those long ago Greek gods were real too? Uh oh. Look out christians. You've got serious competition. And they found a whole town!

Sorry. Bad ramble. To direct reply - most definitely is the bible a work of fiction. It's the belief in some god (and that beliefs' almost crazed devotion) that causes this same book to not be placed in the mythology section where it should be. I mean, sure it makes for great reading on how to live ones' life as a just and true man. But you shouldn't need some 'god' to threaten violence in this life or the next to get you to be this kind of person.

Reading the underlined part, not only am I convinced you haven't read the Bible, but I'm also quite convinced you have never studied theology in any depth at all. There is no "violence" in the next life. God (that is, the God of Christianity) doesn't "punish" nor does God call His people to violence in this life.

I don't dispute that some Christians have blasphemed His name to do and teach so, but then people blaspheme all sorts of things. Your logic -- taking only the bad and ignoring any good -- would have one believe atheism is best represented by Soviet tyranny. That's a ridiculous view, but ultimately it's yours applied to another group of people.

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Reading the underlined part, not only am I convinced you haven't read the Bible, but I'm also quite convinced you have never studied theology in any depth at all. There is no "violence" in the next life. God (that is, the God of Christianity) doesn't "punish" nor does God call His people to violence in this life.

I don't dispute that some Christians have blasphemed His name to do and teach so, but then people blaspheme all sorts of things. Your logic -- taking only the bad and ignoring any good -- would have one believe atheism is best represented by Soviet tyranny. That's a ridiculous view, but ultimately it's yours applied to another group of people.

I agree with this 100% and not only as a Christian. Even before I even cared to know God I didn't think this at all. I felt that many men had decided to twist the original concept. I have since proven that several times over.

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Well, most importantly - stop. I mean seriously. This is the whole point we normal people are trying to make. Zealot believers would like their convictions to MEAN something so they back it up so wholeheartedly EVERY TIME some one comes out with an opinion that contradicts theirs. I never said i don't respect your views or opinions - i do. You can believe in some sort of weird ritualistic god thing. Now respect mine - i don't want to. There is none. Why would there be? Why does there have to be? Can't we keep ourselves in check without guidance from some book? A work of fiction no less? Moreover, zealots leave no room for anyone other than themselves. "If you do not believe in the one true god, than thou shalt truly burn in the everlasting bonfire." Really? So Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists and all other denominations are wrong? Wow. What egos. There is our way or no way. I mean, wow. This is truly a cult i would never want to be a part of.

But that leads me to the next point - no violence, eh? So you think **** is supposed to be comprised of all puppies and rainbows? Your version of **** doesn't entertain violence? Mine sure would - else it wouldn't be ****. And god isn't violent? So he's just a negligent parent then huh? Let's say Passion had some iota of truth to it. Why would ANYbody, KNOWING their son would go through that, allow that to happen? And don't answer that, cause i know what all bible thumpers say. Something along the lines of "that's why he's god" or "that's why man is flawed" or "he loved man" or whatever crap they spew. Doesn't matter. If man was created in this gods own image than this god would have to have the same flaws and faults. But OH NO - he can't be flawed or have faults. Then he couldn't be god. And we couldn't have that cause we would be spending all this time on Sundays/Wednesdays/VBS and all these monies and all this studying for nothing. (hence why i don't - you'd be surprised how much of a life i have without that gnawing on me, and i care about my fellow man enough and give to charities) But i do notice how you only zeroed in on the afterlife's lack of violence. Cause you KNOW god already wreaked havoc according to this book. "Doesn't punish? I guess Sodom & Gomorrah were just trials? Dude, he flooded the entire freakin planet! He killed millions! How is that NOT violent?

To end - i'm glad you have something that keeps you good and happy. Just don't force it on me. I don't need that garbage to keep me good and happy. I will never believe for i do not want to believe. I do not want something like that to destroy my vision of life. To take away the life i have. But it amuses me to no end to see it crush others'. I wholly believe religion is an invention by man alone since he has become the only creature on earth (as far as we know) with the brain power to think this stuff up. And developed so much brain power as to be afraid of death to the point where he needs something more at the end so his meager existence can ultimately mean something. No other animal (again, as far as we know) does this (at least i hope not, but zealots wouldn't believe it anyway), because we assume them to lack the brain power to do so. They just live and die, with some instinct thrown in to do enough to survive and continue. There are lots of times i wish we were more like that. This is why.

On a side note: i hardly think your vague attempts at putting together my life can qualify you to see how i reached my conclusions. Point of fact (not that you'd care), i have read the bible (all the way through, twice) and enjoyed most of the stories. I have actually stood at the pulpit and sermoned a church a few times. I do not feel the need to study "theology". Why? Would you study mythology? Scientology? "Alienology"? Good heavens no! There can be no aliens! We are the only ones EVER! God didn't make any more!

If god isn't science fiction/fantasy i don't know what is....

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Well, most importantly - stop. I mean seriously. This is the whole point we normal people are trying to make. Zealot believers would like their convictions to MEAN something so they back it up so wholeheartedly EVERY TIME some one comes out with an opinion that contradicts theirs. I never said i don't respect your views or opinions - i do. You can believe in some sort of weird ritualistic god thing.

You say you "respect" our views and opinions, but your words show disrespect.

Now respect mine - i don't want to. There is none. Why would there be? Why does there have to be? Can't we keep ourselves in check without guidance from some book? A work of fiction no less? Moreover, zealots leave no room for anyone other than themselves. "If you do not believe in the one true god, than thou shalt truly burn in the everlasting bonfire." Really? So Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists and all other denominations are wrong? Wow. What egos. There is our way or no way. I mean, wow. This is truly a cult i would never want to be a part of.

This is actually the odd thing -- I DO respect your views, right up until you disrespect mine as you have here. I haven't called YOU weird, or a zealot, or totally mischaracterized your views as you have mischaracterized mine above. You are the one whose words convey disrespect, but you call us "zealots." Pretty ironic, that.

But that leads me to the next point - no violence, eh? So you think **** is supposed to be comprised of all puppies and rainbows? Your version of **** doesn't entertain violence? Mine sure would - else it wouldn't be ****. And god isn't violent? So he's just a negligent parent then huh? Let's say Passion had some iota of truth to it. Why would ANYbody, KNOWING their son would go through that, allow that to happen? And don't answer that, cause i know what all bible thumpers say. Something along the lines of "that's why he's god" or "that's why man is flawed" or "he loved man" or whatever crap they spew. Doesn't matter. If man was created in this gods own image than this god would have to have the same flaws and faults. But OH NO - he can't be flawed or have faults. Then he couldn't be god. And we couldn't have that cause we would be spending all this time on Sundays/Wednesdays/VBS and all these monies and all this studying for nothing. (hence why i don't - you'd be surprised how much of a life i have without that gnawing on me, and i care about my fellow man enough and give to charities) But i do notice how you only zeroed in on the afterlife's lack of violence. Cause you KNOW god already wreaked havoc according to this book. "Doesn't punish? I guess Sodom & Gomorrah were just trials? Dude, he flooded the entire freakin planet! He killed millions! How is that NOT violent?

To end - i'm glad you have something that keeps you good and happy. Just don't force it on me. I don't need that garbage to keep me good and happy. I will never believe for i do not want to believe. I do not want something like that to destroy my vision of life. To take away the life i have. But it amuses me to no end to see it crush others'. I wholly believe religion is an invention by man alone since he has become the only creature on earth (as far as we know) with the brain power to think this stuff up. And developed so much brain power as to be afraid of death to the point where he needs something more at the end so his meager existence can ultimately mean something. No other animal (again, as far as we know) does this (at least i hope not, but zealots wouldn't believe it anyway), because we assume them to lack the brain power to do so. They just live and die, with some instinct thrown in to do enough to survive and continue. There are lots of times i wish we were more like that. This is why.

On a side note: i hardly think your vague attempts at putting together my life can qualify you to see how i reached my conclusions. Point of fact (not that you'd care), i have read the bible (all the way through, twice) and enjoyed most of the stories. I have actually stood at the pulpit and sermoned a church a few times. I do not feel the need to study "theology". Why? Would you study mythology? Scientology? "Alienology"? Good heavens no! There can be no aliens! We are the only ones EVER! God didn't make any more!

If god isn't science fiction/fantasy i don't know what is....

Your words betray your lack of theological study. It's not like I made a guess at "putting together your life." I took your words at face value (in other words, I assumed you are speaking what you think instead of lying to us), and judged based on my own theological study that you don't know what you are talking about. You prove that assessment correct with every word you write. Your caricatures of the Christian faith betray you. You are arguing against a strawman you made up. It really is that simple.

Actually, that's not entirely true (or, to be more accurate, it isn't fully true). What you are actually arguing against is a caricature of the penal substitutionary theory of the atonement, which is a subset of Christian atonement theory. Not only do a whole lot of Christians (including the 2nd largest Christian denomination in the entire world) not subscribe to pensub, but you haven't even accurately described it to begin with. So you're arguing against a false, made up caricature of a small subset of Christian thought. Which is pretty funny, because if I made Stalin out to be an even bigger monster than he was and then conflated his atheist views with Communism and said that all atheists are Communist murderers you would rightly think that is unfair.

I don't begrudge you your views. And I don't have the need to pretend that atheism is intellectually bankrupt or morally void in order to discuss things with people who disagree with me, nor do I have the need to caricature their views in order to mock them as you have above. It is utterly comical that you come in here with your condescending, ridiculous made up pretend strawman of the Christian faith and then demand "respect." No one has "forced" anything on you. You clicked on the link and you read the posts. That's your choice in a free society. But you tell me to "stop" while claiming you are the one being "forced" to accept something. Hilarious.

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