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About Loren

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    Frequently High Priest of our home.

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?
    Like Christians, I worship Paul.

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  1. Listening to the great Billie Holiday.

  2. On the matter of commenting to yourself: My dad always said that he talked to himself for two reasons. He liked to talk to an intelligent person and he liked to hear an intelligent person talk.

    Mark Twain said, "When you cannot get a compliment any other way, pay yourself one."

  3. Thank you all again for your wonderful responses! To read that my "words are filled with iron," gave my ego a big, veiny erection. Just what my already massive ego needs! I just wanted to make a quick post to let you know I will be back to this. I particularly have been enjoying replying to Citsonga and want to reply again, but right now I don't always have the energy to write the kind of (hopefully) well thought out response he deserves. The back and forth with him has helped me a lot to get out of myself and what's going on, so it's been really therapeutic. I'd also like to say that I admire his insisting on avoiding "painting with a broad brush." That only comes from a love of justice and hatred of injustice. That's particularly laudable considering that he's applying it to a group that I strongly suspect he would not consider to be a friend. Putting principles before personalities shows real depth. One of the few things the apostle Paul said which I still agree with was when he pointed out that anyone can do right toward those they already love. It takes much more to do right to or for those we don't love. I mentioned my low energy right now because of stuff happening in my life. That thread can be found here. Thank you all. I'll be back!
  4. Citsonga, what follows is fairly strongly worded. Please understand that my purpose is not to make you feel bad, but to show how my thinking has gone on this issue, both as a Christian and after. After I read what you said, I wrote what follows. In coming back, I see others have replied and things look like they're getting heated. I'd like to say, let's all calm down a bit. All of you are great folks who I respect, like and enjoy. But I must stand by what I said. Remember, like a great many of us here, I didn't start questioning Christianity (And the damned clergy.) as a way of finding my way out of it. I did it in order to stay in. I did it in order to find some possible way to make it work. So also, I wanted to give the damned clergy every reasonable excuse I could think of. This led me to chase down every line of ethical inquiry I could possibly think of, nailing down each loose end one by one. I was left with the inescapable conclusion that there are nothing but loose ends for them. And why should I do that for that profession when it became increasingly clear that they couldn't be bothered to do that for themselves? What's real, here? My experience says that this is correct. My experience says that it is not correct. Sure, there are undoubtedly a lot of "lying sacks of shit" in the clergy, but to say that the "clergy as a whole" is like that is a bit of an exaggeration. There is absolutely zero doubt in my mind that there are honest clergy out there who simply unknowingly regurgitate bullshit that they've been force-fed. I truly can say that the whole are lying. In order for them to perpetuate the religion at all, the whole of them must tell lies. Remember, due to their claimed position of authority, this is about much more than just whether they sincerely believe wrong doctrines. The fact that there are nice ones and deluded ones doesn't change that. My original letter was almost entirely about the doctrinal structure of Christianity being what it is. In order for a member of the damned clergy to become a member of the damned clergy, they must give personal approval to those doctrines. Either they believe them or they don't. If they don't, then they must lie in order to remain in their clerical position. If they believe them, they must support them in order to not be lying. In order to support them, they must understand them. If they can understand them and still not see the problems, then how can I say they are telling the truth when they claim to be competent to do their job? It's their job to catch these things and deal with them. A bad doctrine or set of doctrines can have good people doing bad things and being culpable for it, whether they understand that or not. If a damned clergyman can go through any amount of their career without glomming on to the fact that people are trusting them to steer the flock away from such things, then I have no choice but to call that a betrayal of the public trust, in which case, they are lying about how much they care about the the people to whom they administer this stuff. Don't forget that one of my points was that without professional training, even a high-school drop-out like me was able to see problems readily, and find tons of damning information very easily. And these guys, as a whole, have had twenty centuries and literally millions of personnel available to get their house in order, yet they, as a whole, haven't even had the professionalism to face or even notice these issues. It's their job to notice. For them to not even notice these problems let alone deal with them, is nothing other than malfeasance. If a single member of any other profession had such lax standards, they would certainly be guilty of such. A doctor may be a very nice person, and sincerely believe that the knowledge they have on tap is all they need, but if they are unaware of the importance of blood-typing, let alone insistently denying that blood-typing exists, they would truly be guilty of gross and dangerous professional incompetence. It doesn't matter how nice or sincere they are. For them to continue that way requires that they lie about something; If they honestly don't know how deeply unqualified they are when they begin practice, they certainly ought to become aware of it pretty damn quickly when they try to apply what they know. The above example of the ignorant physician is bad enough, but what would you think of him if you knew that he had been doing nothing at all to resolve it for his entire thirty year career? Would you be able to think of him as an honest man regardless of how nice or sincere he was? I sure wouldn't. I'd be wondering where the hell the AMA had been all that time. The whole reason the doctor example is workable is that we understand that it's completely reasonable to hold a physician fully accountable due to his handling of life and death issues. If he doesn't know something, he damn sure ought to be able to recognize the shortcoming and rectify it. He ought to want to do so. If he's incompetent, then he's lying about his qualifications. If he does nothing to deal with the problem, he's lying about caring for his patients, as well as lying about his understanding of how and why these things are important. There's no getting around it. How much more so should we hold that attitude among men whose task it is to see to matters of the soul? If matters of the disposition of the soul are deeper and more important than matters of physical health, and the damned clergy as a whole certainly do say so, then why would the profession as a whole, hold themselves to lower ethical standards than physicians do? How could I possibly call the damned clergy honest or sincere as a whole, when they act precisely as though they've never even noticed that they may in fact have such ethical obligations? If they don't know something that they should know, then they are incompetent. If they don't correct it, that's gross negligence. If they do deal with it, yet lie about what they found, that's malfeasance. There's no place of refuge for them. They are abject, regardless of how sincere they, or we, may think they are. And giving them more credit than is due by saying that some are sincere is exactly what I did for years when I was a Christian. And the nasty feeling which doing so gave me as a Christian was part of the impetus for wondering just how deep these problems actually do go. I realized that when I gave them such credit, it made me culpable for their crimes by collusion. When I, as a Christian gave them the benefit of the doubt for sincerity, I realized that in order to do so, I would, perforce, have to hold them to no higher standard than I would for the laity. And that, in itself, was an unequivocal sign that I had colluded in their lies. When anyone stands up before the public and says in any way, "I am qualified to be your leader," they damn well better have something on board to back it up. Otherwise, they certainly are lying. And we're talking about a profession that claims to be qualified to lead in such matters as all virtues and deep spiritual understandings. If we saw these kinds of lies in our tax attorneys or plumbers, we would feel completely justified in firing them, as well as notifying their respective professional organizations. And why would we notify those organizations? Because we have an ethical obligation to protect others from the damage such incompetent liars can and will do in their professional capacity. And when we contact those organizations and find that the lies are endemic and institutionalized and that there are highly well-developed defense-structures which have no other purpose than to allow the lies to continue, then how can we not call members of that profession as a whole, liars? And here is where the above analogy breaks down, and in doing so, proves my point: The damned clergy is the only profession I know of where those lies have been so institutionalized that the whole organization is saturated with them. So for me to say that, as a whole, the damned clergy are lying sacks of shit is putting it so nicely that it practically makes me a saint for my mercy and gentleness. Loren (The Kind and Gentle)
  5. Thank you all for your replies! In re-posting this, my hope is always that some reader will catch some particular part of it and realize that that's what's been bothering them, too. Sharing information helps. That's why the damned clergy doesn't want us doing it.
  6. In the Old Testament, God has "his chosen people" (the Jews) who he preferred over the others, and had his chosen people kill off others in droves. There were commands against intermarrying with outsiders, and outsiders were allowed to be taken into forced labor. I think it's pretty obvious that they were supposed to consider their religion THE correct religion. True, and that's not the only one. There are also examples that are doctrinally ambiguous such as Abraham and Isaac and how it relates to the no human sacrifice doctrine. Although the OT descriptions of the evident moral capriciousness of deity were a huge part of my deconversion and a great impetus in getting me started on trying to find the truth of the matter, my approach had to do with Christianity being the fulfillment of OT religion. Regardless of what claims the old tribes used to excuse their viciousness, the official doctrine remains one which totally refutes Christian doctrine, rather than supporting it. Along with that was the obverse: When I understood what the Jewish doctrines are, I had to look back at all the sermons and teachings I'd heard from the damned Christian clergy and how, over twenty centuries, this is one of many issues they absolutely refuse to talk about. It's like figure and ground in art. There's a huge picture which forms, once one is able to see how systematic the structure is of which topics are taboo, and it's very telling. The damned Christian clergy as a whole have been and are a bunch of lying sacks of shit. Also, it should be born in mind that this letter was to a Christian friend, a very nice and intelligent lady who I truly didn't want to offend. I can't tell you how much vitriol I had to edit out and rewrite in order to be understandable, yet not offensive. I pulled a lot of punches in this letter. A lot. And it's still the kind of piece which would make a true believer pretty uncomfortable. What I didn't mention is that after I sent her this letter, that was the last time she contacted me. I haven't heard from her since.
  7. I'm glad you mentioned that. One of my most vexing questions has to do with recidivism. My experience was that after I had learned enough, there was no way I could ever "return" to Christianity (or the church). I can hardly believe that someone could consider believing in something that doesn't and cannot exist once they have realized this. If it does happen, then why (other than the emotional attachment to ones faith)? I suspect (and expect to be slammed for thinking this) that it depends on how and why one became an atheist. Specifically, the gradual accrual of information in multiple fields that mutually reinforce the concept of a naturalistic universe was, for me, irreversible. An emotional revulsion to some aspects of religion might allow easier "return" to religion. For example, I read of a man whose children died in a fire. He said, "I can tell you this: God doesn't exist, or if He does, He doesn't care about us." The "conclusion" that God doesn't exist is not based on lengthy research, careful weighing of multiple arguments, and deliberation in this case, but rather an emotional response to a single event - although absolutely horrible. One kind word might convince someone under similar circumstances that they were mistaken (e.g. "God's ways are mysterious"), and back to church s/he goes asking for God's forgiveness for doubting. I checked and saw that you'd found the thread dealing with this specific issue in Ex-Christian Life. This is a question that comes up fairly regularly around here in various forms. Like you, I've been out for a while, and I've definitely noticed a direct causal relationship between the attitude with which a religious person approaches their religion and the way they deal with their deconversion. Of course, that seems like a, "Duh! No shit!" kind of conclusion, but just because something seems like an obvious correlation, that doesn't make it true. Years of observation, however, has shown it to be true. A shallow, self-serving Christian tends to be the same as an ex. A kind-hearted Christian tends to a kind-hearted ex. And a Christian who took their religion seriously enough to really study it tends to be the kind of person who refuses to varnish the truth of what they found. The more work a person puts in to finding the truth, no matter what the consequences, the more clear it is to them on every level that they made the right decision in leaving the fold. I cant believe Christianity has any grip on truth any more than I'm able to believe that a fire hydrant is actually a ham sandwich. Even with a gun to my head, I couldn't make myself believe it. I know too much, now. I know where the bodies are buried. I don't think you're off track at all, as I'm sure you've noticed by now on that other thread. I just think that you're a true agnostic. You're not simply agnostic in the compartment of religion. You seem to me to be very like me in that you refuse to lie to yourself about knowing something which you know you don't know, no matter in what area of life you may be doing your thinking. It's a matter of wanting to avoid the foolishness of self-delusion in matters which may be extremely important as well as it being a matter of personal honor.
  8. I found your reply very interesting as well. Your conclusions about the ramifications of prophecy on reliability seem to exactly mirror my own logic on why Christians cannot use the OT as a base for their own religion. Yours was a prophetic structural issue and mine was a doctrinal structural issue, but they both came down, in exactly the same way, to us both looking at the structure and saying, "Hey! There's no fucking support, here!" It's the same with the realization that all other issues are moot, too. These things are such complete breakers that once we understand that, it doesn't even matter if all the supernatural stuff is completely true, the dead were really raised or every incident in the Bible was absolutely proven to be completely historical. None of that matters. Because of these breakers, we know it to be a totally false religion. It doesn't even matter if Jesus really is God. Truth is the only king I'll bow down to, now. Fuck the rest of them.
  9. Hi, all. Every few years, I re-post this letter which I wrote to a Christian friend years ago in response to her question on why I identify myself as an ex-Christian. Loren _____________________________________________ (Letter to a Christian friend follows) Hi, Port. Here's the central part of the answer to your question about why I identify myself as a former Christian: Why I’m not Christian. Sometime in my youth I took what I was told from the pulpit seriously although a lot of it seemed strange or disjointed from real life. I didn’t really question it too closely; I just thought that it was too complex and esoteric for me to understand. I don’t remember exactly when I became a Christian, but I have taken a number of alter calls, usually out of a sense of “Uh oh, what if it’s really true?” I was never a devout believer. Rather, I was one of the many who proclaim Jesus publicly in order to avoid going to Hell, but it never really impacted my life beyond that. My sense of what Christianity is was pretty vague. I’ve always loved theological and philosophical discussion, but even there, it was just an interesting intellectual exercise which didn’t have much to do with my life. Now, there are a great many reasons why I am no longer a Christian, but many of them are peripheral, (although they are still important) and I won’t dwell on them in order to keep this as brief as I can. What follows is just the core stuff. Being a Christian always felt strange and, well, kind of icky to me. It just never felt right or good. But of course, due to my Christian indoctrination, I just assumed that these feelings were a result of my own sin and sinful nature. Then I came to a point where I thought, “Oh, crap!! This wimpy Christianity can’t be pleasing to the Lord! I better get my ducks in a row and start being a real Christian before something hits the fan.” So I started doing my best which was still a pretty sad and pathetic example, but it got me to pray and read my Bible more. A funny thing happened. The more I read the Bible, the more I felt wrong when I claimed to be a Christian. I don’t mean wrong as in “I’m too sinful to be a Christian” or “I’m not sincere enough” or any other version of those old chestnuts. I mean wrong as in “Hey, I think there’s something wrong with my Bible!” And I found more and more things that “God has said” which just made absolutely no sense to me. No logical sense, no moral sense, and above all, no sense in light of what I thought of as God's actual behavior in my life and the world around me. Now, from the beginning I have always understood that there is a difference between God’s truth and church doctrine. I have always known that there are eleventy-seven sects of Christianity who disagree over doctrine, and many who are perfectly happy to claim that those who disagree with them are “not true Christians”. I never took such things too seriously, and felt that God really didn’t give a rat’s behind whether a baptism was done by dunking or sprinkling. I also understood the variability of such things as the fallibility of translation, interpretation, and the transmission of meaning across the boundaries of cultural context. I knew that such human factor things (and others) would unavoidably lead to weaknesses in the text of the Bible. I have never been a literalist because I was too aware of such things. So I began by thinking that perhaps my discomfort with being Christian was the result of my assimilating some erroneous or relatively unimportant doctrine(s) which might not be sitting well with my intuition or conscience. I started to examine various tenets and doctrines from the standpoint of this assumption: If I can excise this particular tenet from my Christianity and still be a Christian, then that tenet must not be central to what Christianity really is. I would not even worry about whether the tenet in question was right or wrong. I would just remove it and see what that left me with. By this method I went through a process of elimination in order to find out what really constituted Christianity. I was looking for a thing (or things) which, when it was present in Christianity, then Christianity could rightly be called Christianity, but when it was absent, one could no longer call what remained Christianity. This method was the best that an uneducated screw-up like me could come up with at the time. My problem with taking these questions to pastors and scholars was that they tended to the old circular proof-texting mambo which those of us in the real world call lifting themselves off the ground by their own boot straps. It was like watching dogs chase their tails. While I often learned a great deal about the dishonesty of the clergy, I never was left with the feeling that I was getting closer to the truth. So I continued this process of culling. It was like taking a deck of cards and throwing them in the trash one by one in order to find the joker. By the same method, I did a parallel search for anything which was genuinely unique only to Christianity. As to this second search, it has never really ended and I have not found any item which is not available elsewhere. I always knew that some of Christianity is an amalgam of other things, but I never expected to find that it is nothing but an amalgam of other things. This did not lead me to conclude that Jesus was entirely fictitious so much as it discredited a huge number of claims made by Christians about the nature of the religion itself. Likewise, I have no problem with syncretism; much of my own spirituality is a mass of things from other systems which made sense to me. As to the search for the true core of Christianity, I found that it came down to this: Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection as a propitiation or atonement. I realized that I could discard every single bit of Christian doctrine but that one and I still felt wrong about it. I’ve been around and around with that thing and here is what I’ve come to: It is not genuine forgiveness in any form which I can find morally intelligible. If my debt was truly forgiven, then why did it still need to be paid? And why in such a brutal manner? What kind of a person would demand such a payment? If payment is still required, then the debt has not been truly forgiven in any way that I can understand. If Bob owes me ten dollars, and can’t pay me, I then may choose to forgive the debt. If I do, then that debt is not owed by anybody. Even if Bob’s brother offers to pay the money on Bob’s behalf, I should not take it if Bob’s debt has been forgiven. If I do accept payment from Bob’s brother, then the debt was not forgiven, it was just shifted. Of course, this does get Bob off the hook, but I would never be able to honestly say that the debt had been forgiven. If any court in the land finds a person guilty and then declares that they are forgiven, that court cannot then punish the person. Such an action would be almost universally seen to be immoral. Is forgiveness what is being paid for? Forgiveness is not a commodity. I have never charged anyone a fee for forgiving them. Not even fifty cents. And most especially, I have never had to kill someone in order to forgive someone else. What kind of a person would do such a hideous thing? Also, of all the people I've forgiven over the years, none of them had to "accept" my forgiveness for it to be valid. They didn't even need to know about it. Doesn't that mean that my forgiveness is more perfect than God's? All of the people I've forgiven are totally forgiven no matter what. My forgiveness is one-hundred percent valid, one-hundred percent of the time: God's is only valid to a small portion of people. Where's the real virtue here? Furthermore, if I am to accept that I truly deserve eternal damnation and that Jesus has, out of love for me, taken my place, then Jesus should be spending eternity in Hell in my place. If he doesn’t, then he has either not truly taken my place, or my place is truly not in Hell. If Jesus did not go to Hell for me, but paid the debt of my sin by dying on a cross and being dead for three days, then I should also be able to avoid Hell by dying on a cross and being dead for three days. Unpleasant, certainly, but my "sin debt" could be paid by me without my needing to involve Jesus in any way If my salvation from judgment hinges on Jesus’ sacrifice, then I’d have to say that there was no real sacrifice at all. The qualification that makes sacrifice a real sacrifice is that something is being given up permanently. If gambling is wrecking my marriage, I may have to sacrifice gambling. That means I give it up forever, not just for three days. To try to redefine a short-term loan as a sacrifice is just insulting. If Jesus’ death on the cross had been a real sacrifice, in order for it to have had any meaning and power he would have had to have stayed dead. Sacrifice is to give something up permanently, not for just a few days and then get it back again. What kind of moral lessons am I to learn from the whole “death on the cross” thing? I am told that these things are all part of the “mystery” and humans just couldn’t understand it. I used to accept that, but the time came when I just couldn’t anymore. If I did, it made too many other things meaningless or nonsensical. Telling me that I can’t understand God’s morality is just not a good enough answer, considering that that whole event is the central lynchpin of the religion. Also, it flies in the face of the fact that the Bible is full of attempts to explain just what God’s morality is and just why it is moral, as well as the fact that the Bible tells us to emulate God to the best of our ability. I’m told to emulate God’s morality and that it’s impossible for me to understand God’s morality. What the hell good does that do? Then there is the comparative element to the whole “sacrifice” thing: There came a time when the light went on in my head, and I thought, “Hey, wait a minute. How is Jesus’ death on the cross morally different from throwing a virgin into a volcano?” What kind of a god would demand such a thing? Human sacrifice is human sacrifice. I don’t see any way to get around that. It is what it is. Even if it is all true, how could I ever respect a god like that? Isn’t one of the clergy’s favorite whipping boys in the Old Testament the religion centered on Baal Melqart? Obviously, the example is of a religion which we are meant to see as manifestly evil due to the followers of that religion sacrificing innocents (children) to their god. The Christians in the pews are clearly meant to understand that such actions are vile, evil and totally ungodly. Yet they are never given a theologically cogent explanation of just how killing an innocent in order to gain favor with a deity is morally different from the same action done for a different deity. How can I ever believe God would want such a thing? How could I possibly feel honorable about worshipping such a being? This left me squarely in the position of knowing that in order for me to be a Christian, I would have to lie in some way. I mulled these things (and others) and struggled with them for a good while, as well as praying desperately for guidance. Eventually, I reached a decision. That night I went outside and burned my Bible. At first, for a while, I felt a bit giddy. Also, I felt guilty and frightened. As time went on, it seemed emotionally and logically clear to me that if God was real, then He still loved and forgave me and that God would not have deserted me, in spite of the fact that I had committed the one sin that Christianity had told me was unforgivable. As an aside, this was one of the many Christian notions which I shed: the logically deceitful assertion that God’s forgiveness is absolute followed by the placing of any number of conditions on it. Despite my decision, God did not pinch my head off, or in any other way show any particular displeasure with me for my decision. Since that time, some interesting things have come to light for me. My fascination for any kind of religion, spiritual system or description has only increased, especially my interest in Christianity, although it has become something akin to morbid fascination. It’s a bit like watching a major train wreck in slow motion. It’s hard for me to look away. Never the less, I am always interested in Christian apologetics, and it is my digging in these areas which brought the following interesting things to my attention. It has always somewhat baffled me that if Jesus fulfills prophetic scriptural requirements for messiahship as thoroughly as Christians claim, then why didn’t more of the hundreds of thousands of devout, scholarly rabbis examine the story and shout “Praise G*d! The messiah did come after all!” The more I wondered about it, the more Paul’s assertion that the reason was that “they are all a bunch of stubborn, stiff-necked so and sos” started to look thinner and thinner. I wondered more and more why the few times I did hear Christian clergy address this issue from the pulpit, that they just quoted Paul and pretty much left it at that. They often didn’t even seem to be really interested in a real, cogent answer to this conundrum, while it seemed to me to be highly important. If anyone would be qualified to recognize the messiah, it would be a rabbi, yet the Christian clergy acts as though it is a complete non-issue. I found it very difficult to accept the premise that in two thousand years, almost all of those rabbis had been hypocritical, insincere or too ignorant of their own scriptures to recognize the very one they were waiting for. Why did the Christian clergy never seem willing to turn to rabbinical sources, but always fall back on that old, inadequate thin ice of Paul’s? Increasingly, I found this to be very suspicious. So I started seeking my own rabbinical sources. As an aside, I do know that some of the material attributed to Paul generally accepted at scholarly levels to not be truly Pauline (if there ever was such a person). The point is not that those passages are or are not Pauline; my point is that they are the passages which are most relied on by apologists and that this is what got me looking for answers elsewhere. I found some very interesting things. All these centuries, the rabbis have not “rejected” Jesus. What actually has happened is that they have tested Jesus according to scriptural requirements and found him wanting. He did not fit the job description. For one thing, his lineage is wrong. If Mary was a virgin, then the lineage from David was broken at that point. If one uses Mary’s line, the problem is that while some versions say that she was of David’s line, Jewish society never would have justified kingship through a matrilineal line. If one abandons the virginity of Mary (and there are some very good reasons for doing so, but they are unrelated to this), and traces Jesus’ line through Joseph after all, there is the problem of Joseph being a descendant of Jeconiah. God cursed Jeconiah by saying that none of his line would ever sit on the throne of David. Often, I hear decietful Christian apologists use the concept of adoption to satisfy these and other objections. Adoption is fine, if we're just talking about being seen as a legitimate member of a family. However, the Jewish rules for kingship and family membership are definitely not the same: the rules for kingship are much more strict and do preclude adoption. It's like the qualifications for being President of the United States: Among other things, they must be a natural citizen. A foreign-born child who's adopted by an American family really is a legal member of that family, and a legal citizen of the U.S., but they still can't legally qualify for the position of President. Jewish law is the same. Once I found this out it became clear to me, especially considering how easy it was for me to get the information, that every time I had heard some Christian apologist claim to have done tons of scholarly research on the issue, they were just flat-out lying. Either they were lying about how much work they had done, or they had done the work and were lying about what they had found. Then there is the problem of the second coming. The Hebrew scriptures are extremely clear that the messiah will come once and once only. When he comes, there will be no need of belief. It will be very clear who he is. Among other things, he will sit as king of Israel (A real king, of real Isreal, not some theologically abstruse "spiritual" king of "spiritual" Isreal, i.e. Christians.), he will bring world peace and a number of other things which will be completely obvious to all once they happen. The very fact that Jesus came and then left again without doing the things the messiah will do clearly disqualifies him for that role. Also, it was well understood by rabbinical scholars that the messiah would be a man sent by God and that to worship him as God would be the worst sort of idolatry. I have heard apologists respond to this by saying, "Well, it's not blasphemy if it's the truth!" They're just not being honest. Jewish doctrine states clearly that God is spirit only. It's simple and crystalline: If any man claims to be God, he truly can be immediately seen to be blasphemous. If any worship such a man, they really are idolators. No excuses. No exceptions. Just as clearly, one of the things the actual Messiah would not do would be to be any kind of sin offering, regardless of Christian reworkings of Daniel and Isaiah. Which brings us to the problem of Jesus being the sin offering. The Hebrew scriptures, like the Bible, have many ambiguities which scholars have always loved to argue over. However, again like the Bible, there are some things which are blunt, simple and unequivocal. As with the qualifications of Messiahship, the importance of the proper way of making the sin offering is one of these. If Jesus was the ultimate sin offering, then the rite was so inadequately performed as to be an insult to God. One of the essential parts of the ritual was that the blood must be sprinkled or sprayed on the altar. Jesus’ blood never made it anywhere near any altar, let alone the rest of the ritual being done properly, such as God finding it acceptable for the place of the High Priest performing the sin offering ritual to be some randomly chosen Roman centurion. Did God say to the Roman soldier who pounded those three nails, "Hey buddy, how'd you like to fill the role of High Priest of the Jews for the afternoon? We need someone to perform the most important ritual ever done in the entire universe and all of eternity. There's a six-pack in it for you!" Does that sound like something a perfection-demanding God would be happy with? Another thing about the sin offering which, according to the Rabbis God was very clear about was that it would never, ever be acceptable to use a human being as the sacrifice. Oh, look. There’s that thing again. Imagine that. One last item about the sin offering: Christian doctrine says that Jesus was the ultimate sin offering once and for all. Thus, through Jesus, we have our reconciliation with God. Christian doctrine also states pretty clearly that the offering of Jesus’ sinless life is the only method of atonement which is acceptable to God. HOWEVER, in the Hebrew scriptures, (again, very unequivocally) God states clearly that there are not one, but four methods of atonement and reconciliation. Furthermore, the sin offering is the least important of these in God’s eyes. God clearly says that the sin offering is only adequate to cover small sins, for instance, when one sins without realizing that it is a sin. The sin offering is inadequate to cover larger sins, such as a deliberate lie. For the moment I’m going to be a stinker and keep you in suspense as to what the three most powerful methods of reconciliation are. But you can now see what I saw, that there was a lot more going on in the Jewish “rejection” of Jesus than we are deceitfully told from the pulpit. If God was so lax as to accept such an inadequately performed sin offering ritual, then it pretty well shoots down the idea that God demands perfect obedience to the law. Then there is the business of being judged on the basis of having “fallen short of the glory of God.” Why is it not considered an obvious blasphemy to say that it is right and proper for God to judge me by the standards that God holds for Himself? The God of the Jews does no such foolish thing. Their God makes it abundantly clear that He knows perfectly well that humans are human and not able to achieve the kind of moral perfection that only God could achieve. He does not hold them to such a ridiculous standard nor does He punish them with eternal damnation if they fail to meet it. Also, God definitely does not tell the Jews that the only way to be with God is to be a member of “the right” religion. He just tells the Jews what their religion should be. He definitely makes it clear that gentiles are welcome, as well. So much for “only one way into heaven”. Port, I hope you’ll forgive me, but I’m going to postpone an answer to your second question regarding what I think a Christian actually is. Are you absolutely sure you want me to answer that? ;-) All right, okay. You’ve been patient with me. Here are the other three ways of reconciling with God which are more powerful and valid than the sin offering according to the Jewish doctrine. Ready for it? Here they are. Repentance, Prayer & Charity No special “one true religion” required, no supernatural help needed and no demands for human perfection. All that’s required by Jewish scriptures is a willingness to admit when we’re wrong and to make a real effort to not repeat that error, to pray and to be kind to others. Whether Judaism is true or not is unimportant to me. What I came to see is that the Christian claim that the OT is the foundation of Christianity is pure deceit and ignorance. If one takes even a cursory look at Jewish doctrines without them being filtered through Christian apologetics, it becomes clear that Jesus’ death on the cross is totally irrelevant and pointless. Everything it was purportedly meant to address is already taken care of in their doctrines which were in place long before Jesus ever supposedly came along. There is so much more I could say but I’ll let it go for now. For instance, I haven't even touched on eternal damnation, bodily resurrection, historicity or what actually happened at the various cannonical councils. But I do hope this letter answered your first question to your satisfaction. Loren
  10. Welcome, Freedom! There's a lot of very interesting reading to be had here. I'm sure you'll enjoy it. Also, a constant stream of new deconverts asking for experienced advice. This site's a great place to be useful to others. Any problems or questions, don't hesitate to contact a moderator. Loren
  11. Welcome, Aquarius and G'Aint! That's funny, (rubbing my chin thoughtfully in slight puzzlement) your posts don't look like black peoples' posts... One of the things I found most exciting about the internet was that it's possible to get to know and form my opinions about someone based on their thoughts rather than on their position at work, the way they dress, what kind of car they drive, political parties, income or education levels and so on. I like it! I hope you both enjoy your time here. Loren
  12. Thanks for that explanation Loren

  13. You wonderful, warm, sweet, loving, strong blisteringly intelligent lion-woman!

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