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Guest Skeptical Christian

*Hopefully I'm posting in the correct forum!!

 

Just thought I'd introduce myself. I'm not here to convert anyone or anything like that. I'm here to obtain information and answer some questions of my own as a skeptical christian. I've visited many christian forums but they really don't allow discussions on difficult questions/issues or allow non christians to voice their opinions. I'm a skeptic by nature and question everything so I like to hear all sides. I'm not one to shield myself from differing opinions. What I find most interesting about this website(I've been "lurking" for awhile) is that you were all former christians. The few people who would question christians and the Bible on those forums were usually life long atheists and were never religious in their lives. That's what I find so fascinating about this site is that it's the exact opposite. You were all good little christians prior to your newly chosen evil secular lifestyles! Just joking!! I couldn't help myself. I have a really weird sense of humor and I like to joke a lot so please don't ever take offense to my hilarious or very poor jokes.

 

Now on to my story. My family was never really religious. I attended a catholic church as a kid and went to catechism classes. I went up to my first communion and that was basically the end of my childhood religious experience at age 10 or 11. I think my mom dragged me and my brother to church a couple of times after that but that was the end of it. I was trying to remember if my dad ever went to church but I don't think he ever did. I think my mom mostly did the church thing to please her parents because even after we stopped going to church she would always tell my grandparents when we visited them on christmas that we attended mass the night before. I think she also lied about us attending church on easter mornings as well for some reason. I have no idea why she did. I don't remember her parents ever being overly religious. I mean, I don't remember ever seeing them pray and can't say I even remember seeing a Bible in their house now that I think about it. I can't remember the words God or Jesus ever being spoken by them either. I know for a fact that we never had a Bible in our own house. I remotely remember my mom mentioning that we weren't going to go to church anymore although I don't remember why exactly. It was sort of a "you can decide for yourself when your older if you want to go to church" sort of reasoning from my fuzzy recollection. It's kind of funny looking back now at how clueless I was about christianity as a kid from what I know now. My fascination with religion has strangely been a purely adult adventure(I'm 32 by the way) the past 3-4 years. As a kid I certainly don't remember grasping the concept of Jesus being God. I'm not even sure we were taught that. I think it was more of a "Jesus was a good guy" kind of simplicity. I think the only parts of the Bible I was exposed to in my catechism classes were the gospels and possibly only one of them from my recollection. I never learned about what the Bible was, where it came from, and we certainly didn't learn any history about the church or anything like that. I never even read the Bible until my late 20's. I remember going into the bookstore to buy one and just to show you my ignorance at the time I had always thought there was only one Bible! I never knew anything about the different translations. So you can imagine my surprise and confusion when I was confronted with choosing from ESV, NRSV, KJV, NKJV, NIV, NASB, etc. For some reason I ended up getting a NIV translation.

 

Anyways, about 3 years ago I decided I wanted to bring religion back into my life but I had no interest in returning to the catholic church. So I started researching all the different denominations and congregations to decide which one to attend. But then I said to myself instead of asking which church shouldn't I ask myself which religion? How do I know christianity is the right one? So I had to research the various religions. Nothing to deep though. Mostly basic intro books but I was able to rule out most other religions almost immediately. The only one I ended up reading further on other than christianity was buddhism. I was kind of fascinated by it but it's definitely not for me but I was intrigued by meditation, the end of suffering, and the focus away from materialistic things. What I found interesting is that pretty much every religion has a version of the "golden rule" leading me to believe that God has possibly tried to communicate to every culture in his own special way whether it be buddhism, hinduism, etc. So in the end I decided on christianity and decided to research it much more deeper. I started reading the Bible again by starting with the new testament and then reading the old testament. Keep in mind I didn't go to church mostly because of the anti-gay and anti-science stuff that's regularly in the news. I wanted nothing to do with any of that nonsense. I don't really remember what the catholic church was like when I attended as a kid but I certaintly don't remember it's message being anti-anything. So I put off going to church. After seeing these crazy fundamentalists on tv I decided I needed to educate myself further on the Bible and christianity so I wouldn't be at the mercy of trusting someone else's fucked up opinion and misinterpretation of the Bible. I wasn't about to be some sucker walking into church not knowing anything about the Bible and falling victim to some KJV-only nutjob. I ended up searching the internet for book recommendations on christianity and that's when I was first introduced to books by people who didn't exactly think very highly of christianity to say the least. The skeptic in me forced me to start reading all the anti-christianity books. I had to know the truth. I certainly didn't want to waste my time on something if it was all just a bunch of bullshit!

 

Here's a small list of some of the books I've read:

 

Acharya S-The Christ Conspiracy and Suns of God

Karen Armstrong-A History of God, The Battle for God, The Great Transformation

Nathaniel Merritt-Jehovah Unmasked!

Sam Harris-The End of Faith

Carl Sagan-The Demon-Haunted World

Richard E. Friedman-Who Wrote the Bible

Bart Ehrman-Misquoting Jesus, The Lost Christianities, and A Brief Introduction to The New Testament

Michael D. Coogan-The Old Testament: A Historical and Literary Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures

John Shelby Spong-Rescuing the Bible From Fundamentalism

Tim Callahan-The Secret Origins of the Bible

Willis Barnstone-The Gnostic Bible

Edward J. Larson-Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory

 

I did read a few positive christian books by Max Lucado and C.S. Lewis but that was about it. I've also been regularly visiting various anti-christian/religious websites and forums like the beast, infidels, skepticsannotatedbible, jesusneverexisted, thejesuspuzzle, etc. The websites have been a more recent thing in the past 6-9 months. It's really only been in the past 3 or 4 months that I started to read christian apologetic stuff and it happened by accident. I was looking at the list of supposed Bible contradictions on the Skeptic's Annotated Bible website. For whatever reason I decided to randomly pick about 5 and check these myself to verify their accuracy. It turns out they weren't contradictions at all. The person who compiled the list obviously either simply copied it from somewhere else or they've never actually read the entire Bible or just never bothered to check them for accuracy. So I started to really re-think some of my original conclusions. I mean, obviously I didn't really take something like the Acharya S books all that seriously. Anyone who spends about a half hour fact checking some of the nonsense in her books will come to the conclusion that she's a total joke. But I started to wonder if I could really trust some of these scholars or if they were just wild and wacky conspiracy theorists like Acharya S or disgruntled nutjobs like John Shelby. So I started visiting christian forums again and started picking up some christian apologetic books and even decided to take the time to actually read what Eusebius actually wrote since everyone called him corrupt and a forgerer without offering any proof of course other than some wild sinister conspiracy theory. I found the christian apologetic books quite convincing and heard some very compelling defenses of christianity and the Bible on the christian forums. Obviously I didn't agree with everything they had to say but it was quite interesting to hear the pro-christian arguments and after reading some of the writings of the apostolic church fathers I'm convinced there isn't some secret 2000 year christian conspiracy. I'm convinced of the validity of the new testament writings. It's ironic really. Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus book solidified it for me. His book was actually written to place doubts in the minds of believers but I actually found the book to show the great pains the church has gone through over the years to preserve the texts.

 

So now I'm prepared to become a full blown good wholesome christian and start attending church. Well, maybe not wholesome because I still need to work on my porn addiction! I appreciate all of you who have shared your deconversion stories on this site because you all make it very clear one should stay far away from fundamentalist churches!! Having read a number of your deconversion stories I can't help but wonder how your religious beliefs would've turned out if you weren't exposed to fundamentalism. Thanks again for sharing your experiences though! Anyways, I was actually planning on attending a United Church of Christ church tomorrow. I was also considering trying a United Methodist Church but decided to try the UCC first since it seems most likely not to have crazy fundamentalists. It'll be the first time in 20+ years since I've attended church.

 

*Continued in next post since I exceded the post length limit!!

 

*continued..

 

Before I forget. Here's a list of some of the difficult issues I'm still dealing with and researching as a skeptical christian:

 

1) Mosaic authorship of the pentateuch. This is probably my major sticking point right now because of all the documentary hypothesis books I've been exposed to including The New Oxford Annotated Study Bible and The Oxford Bible Commentary. Originally I thought it wasn't really that important of an issue because my focus was on the new testament but Jesus himself confirms moses as the author so there's not much wiggle room there. Either Moses is the author or Jesus is lying.

 

2) The supposed contradictions in the Bible. Most of them(BUT NOT ALL) seem to be taken out of context, due to lack of detail and vagueness of the text, or copyist errors. I'm new to Bible study so I know I have a long way to go on this one.

 

3) The prophecies fulfilled. Especially those in the O.T. Apparently I have a lot of work to do. Some KJV-only dude on christianforums says God foreshadowed the Jonah story in Genesis 1:21. I think its a bit of a stretch. I just know there are prophecies fulfilled lists floating around out there that I need to go through. But I need to address issue #1 first and I went to the library and got Gleason L. Archer's Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties for starters.

 

I just thought I'd post my personal opinions about a few church/social issues so you all can get a better idea of who I am, what kind of christian I am, and how my mind works or doesn't work.

 

Homosexuality-I recognize it as a sin but no worse than any other sin and certaintly not worth all the attention its getting. I have a real problem with people trying to rate sins. Sometimes I think these fundamentalists actually think homosexuality is worse than something like murder or rape. I don't see homosexuality in the ten commandments but I do see things like lying and stealing. Obviously these things must piss God off more if he actually put them on an official list of things not to do! I must admit I'm not exactly disgusted at the thought of two women going down on each other. I've even worked with a few guys who were gay and I must admit the thought of calling them or thinking of them as abominations never crossed my mind. At least I think they were gay. I never officially asked them though. I just assumed it by the fact that they would often call me "cupcake" and "pumpkin".

 

Gay marriage-I really wish christians and the church would focus their attention and resources to more important and productive things. Things like affordable child care for low income families, tax cuts for the less fortunate instead of the rich, universal health care, just to name a few. Sorry, but if an elvis impersonator can perform your wedding ceremony and you can get married without getting out of your damn car, I think its safe to say that "sanctity" thing is long gone!

 

Abortion-I'm pro-life and against the death penalty but I don't really feel all that strongly about abortion though. You won't find me at a pro-life rally or anything like that. I don't believe my personal beliefs should be forced onto others. The courts have already decided and abortion is probably here to say. I think people who decide to get abortions probably go through enough emotional trauma as it is and don't need people digging into their personal business and make things harder than they probably already are. It must be a horrible thing to have to try to come to peace with for the rest of your life knowing you've terminated a life.

 

Prayer in public school. How idiotic. Kids are dumb enough as it is based on the latest test scores. Let's keep the focus on why they're there! It's to learn about math, science, history, etc. I'm also against the saying of the pledge of allegiance in school. Stop wasting time and start educating! Let's get to it!

 

Teaching intelligent design with evolution-I don't agree with evolution but science class is no place for creationism. I think the holes and weaknesses in the theory of evolution should be discussed and debated but religion doesn't belongs in a science class. Teach science in a science class. I think it would be alright to have students debating evolution-vs-intelligent design as a topic in a debate class though.

 

Other religions-I'm not really sure where I stand. I'm not dumb enough to think I have all the answers or everything figured out. I'm not one of those who believes my beliefs are right and everyone else's are wrong. I'm guessing my spiritual journey will be a life long process and I'll leave it at that.

 

*Now let the flaming and the devouring of the fresh meat begin!

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*Now let the flaming and the devouring of the fresh meat begin!

 

Hello SC,

 

You will be disappointed! We will not be flaming or devouring you. You post is very refreshing.

 

You brought up a good point about fundamentalism. If I had been a liberal Christian, I may not have had the need to deconvert. I think of liberal Christianity as spirituality using Christian themes. I do respect the UCC. Although, having been burned by fundamentalism I could never bring myself to attend one.

 

You may find it hard to believe, but even though many of us here are agnostic and atheist (by no means all) we still consider ourselves spiritual. Spirituality is a very human journey and different from adhering to any belief system.

 

Taph

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Hi SkepticalChristian, welcome to the board. Very interesting story, I hope you find what your are looking for. I can't give you much advice on the Biblical anomolies. I just eventually gave up on trying to figure it out. No bones about it, it doesn't make sense to me any way I look at it.

 

But it sounds like your fairly mature about your beliefs, as in you are willing to look at other ideas without thinking of them as threats to you, and you realize your beliefs are yours and don't apply to everyone else. I appreciate that.

 

 

Abortion-I'm pro-life and against the death penalty but I don't really feel all that strongly about abortion though. You won't find me at a pro-life rally or anything like that. I don't believe my personal beliefs should be forced onto others. The courts have already decided and abortion is probably here to say. I think people who decide to get abortions probably go through enough emotional trauma as it is and don't need people digging into their personal business and make things harder than they probably already are. It must be a horrible thing to have to try to come to peace with for the rest of your life knowing you've terminated a life.

 

 

Uh, no, not really. I'm glad you are personally pro-life and publically pro-choice, but assuming that all women have emotional problems with their decision is a bad assumption. Abortions in general I doubt are many women's idea of a good way to spend an afternoon, but it's a myth they all suffer emotionally because of it.

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Guest Skeptical Christian

 

*Now let the flaming and the devouring of the fresh meat begin!

 

Hello SC,

 

You will be disappointed! We will not be flaming or devouring you. You post is very refreshing.

 

You brought up a good point about fundamentalism. If I had been a liberal Christian, I may not have had the need to deconvert. I think of liberal Christianity as spirituality using Christian themes. I do respect the UCC. Although, having been burned by fundamentalism I could never bring myself to attend one.

 

You may find it hard to believe, but even though many of us here are agnostic and atheist (by no means all) we still consider ourselves spiritual. Spirituality is a very human journey and different from adhering to any belief system.

 

Taph

 

Thanks for the welcome! The "secular" parts of my post are a joke and not meant to be taken seriously. I was just being the smart ass that I am! I've been reading the board for awhile now and see that the religious/spiritual views and beliefs are all over the board here.

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Another masochistic freak looking for a spanking so he can run home to Daddy.

 

Sorry Taph, but some here will flame this ass-hat.

 

He's pooping the same old shit, just leaning the other way on the toilet while he does so, hoping we won't notice.

 

Like Paul said, 'all things to all men...that i may save some'.

 

The 'secular' parts are a lie, huh Skep?

 

Just IMHO, you understand....

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Welcome Skeptical Christian.

 

I'll go out on a limb and give you the benefit of the doubt and take you at your word. You say that you're questioning and doubting and researching and THINKING? Well, then wonderful! Good for you. That is all anyone can ask or expect of you. That is how MOST of us got free of the Christian meme, so I applaud your efforts.

 

I see no reason (as of now) to flame you, as you appear to be sincerely seeking the Truth. Why should that deserve derision just because you're still Christian?

 

Ask questions, offer opinions and make yourself comfortable. Just stay true to your original OP and DON'T EVANGELIZE. It's not that you can't, but I just get REAL nasty with evangelists. (Many of them have mysteriously gone missing. :fdevil: )

 

Later.

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Thanks for the welcome! The "secular" parts of my post are a joke and not meant to be taken seriously. I was just being the smart ass that I am! I've been reading the board for awhile now and see that the religious/spiritual views and beliefs are all over the board here.

 

Oh gee, sorry. I thought you were being honest, my mistake.

 

Obviously, you didn't understand my last paragraph.

 

Taph

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*Now let the flaming and the devouring of the fresh meat begin!

 

Umm... why should we? Unless you'll change your style drastically, your stay here could easily become quite interesting for all of us...

 

That said, greetings from soccer-crazed Germany :)

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*Now let the flaming and the devouring of the fresh meat begin!

 

Actually, I don't think we flame all that much, although we do enjoy the occasional plate of roast fundie.

 

Good luck with that xtian thing, btw. Personally, I would recommend Zen Buhddism over it :shrug:

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1) Mosaic authorship of the pentateuch. This is probably my major sticking point right now because of all the documentary hypothesis books I've been exposed to including The New Oxford Annotated Study Bible and The Oxford Bible Commentary. Originally I thought it wasn't really that important of an issue because my focus was on the new testament but Jesus himself confirms moses as the author so there's not much wiggle room there. Either Moses is the author or Jesus is lying.

Another hypothesis:

 

Jesus never said it, but the author of the Gospel thought Moses was the author and put the words in Jesus' mouth. No one lied (intentionally), but Moses didn't write the Pentateuch. (IMO)

 

2) The supposed contradictions in the Bible. Most of them(BUT NOT ALL) seem to be taken out of context, due to lack of detail and vagueness of the text, or copyist errors. I'm new to Bible study so I know I have a long way to go on this one.

I don't know if the two different lineages of Jesus is "out of context". That just doesn't make sense to see it that way. If it is copy error, would God allow such a thing?

 

3) The prophecies fulfilled. Especially those in the O.T. Apparently I have a lot of work to do. Some KJV-only dude on christianforums says God foreshadowed the Jonah story in Genesis 1:21. I think its a bit of a stretch. I just know there are prophecies fulfilled lists floating around out there that I need to go through. But I need to address issue #1 first and I went to the library and got Gleason L. Archer's Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties for starters.

The Gospels were written to make the character Jesus to look like he fulfilled the prophesies. Aslan in the Narnia Books fulfilled the prophesy from before the ages too. That means Aslan must be real.

 

*Now let the flaming and the devouring of the fresh meat begin!

:fdevil:

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"The Gospels were written to make the character Jesus to look like he fulfilled the prophesies. Aslan in the Narnia Books fulfilled the prophesy from before the ages too. That means Aslan must be real."

:)

 

maybe if the NT began with "Once upon time children........"

 

Seriously though the issue is belief in prophecy or not. Some people approach the NT disbelieving in prophecy therefore it follows that what appears to be a fulfilled prophecy must therefore have been written after the event. It would be better that they said so clearly and explained their reason why. Instead they mislead by saying that such and such a gospel was written after such and such a date as definite fact. I have no problem with someeone disblieving in prophecy, the onus is on the person who does to prove it, as long as they declare their approach in advance.

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Wow. A Xian willing to act like a human being, and treat people here the same... hey, I'm game!

 

Some people here will flame you regardless of your attitude. But generally the major huge flamefests don't erupt unless someone comes in here and is a rude, arrogant, condescending asshat. And those types deserve it.

 

So far you seem very thoughtful and reasonably considerate. I'm particularly refreshed by the lack of assumption that we're all ex-Xians because we're "mad at God" or "people let us down". You seem to be paying attention, and that's a good thing!

 

The minute any asshattery starts, tho' - you'd better run for your asbestos underwear, cuz the BBQ is on! :fdevil:

 

Meanwhile, welcome. :thanks:

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So I had to research the various religions. Nothing to deep though. Mostly basic intro books but I was able to rule out most other religions almost immediately.

 

I'm interisted in what religions you studied and why you ruled them out.

 

I'm interisted for several reasons, one I was a religion major in college so I know a lot about quite a few religions, so I'm interisted in your take on these other religions, and what about them struck you as wrong.

 

I'm also a pretty spiritual person and currently consider myself something of a Taoist/Confucianist.

 

Don't misunderstand, I'm not attacking your for your choice at all, but I'm curious about your reasoning, as I did the same thing you did and found that the Tao made much more logical sense to me than any of the varioius forms of christianity I studied.

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Hello Skeptical Christian - welcome on board. Don't worry, you'll be treated fairly - as long as you think. People only get flamed when they come in here spouting theology they don't comprehend, have never studied and refuse to think about.

 

1) Mosaic authorship of the pentateuch. This is probably my major sticking point right now because of all the documentary hypothesis books I've been exposed to including The New Oxford Annotated Study Bible and The Oxford Bible Commentary. Originally I thought it wasn't really that important of an issue because my focus was on the new testament but Jesus himself confirms moses as the author so there's not much wiggle room there. Either Moses is the author or Jesus is lying.

HanSolo's response was great...

 

Jesus never said it, but the author of the Gospel thought Moses was the author and put the words in Jesus' mouth. No one lied (intentionally), but Moses didn't write the Pentateuch. (IMO)

 

The only thing I would add is that the overwhelming majority of Biblical scholars accept the Documentary hypothesis as valid - as in 90% or more. Scholars have come to an overwhelming concensus on this issue - it is not just a hypothesis used by individuals with a bias (one way or the other). It is a concensus arrived at after years of study by OT Biblical/Hebrew Scriptures scholars (some of which are Christian - some of which are Hebrew - some of which are neither).

 

2) The supposed contradictions in the Bible. Most of them(BUT NOT ALL) seem to be taken out of context, due to lack of detail and vagueness of the text, or copyist errors. I'm new to Bible study so I know I have a long way to go on this one.

 

3) The prophecies fulfilled. Especially those in the O.T. Apparently I have a lot of work to do. Some KJV-only dude on christianforums says God foreshadowed the Jonah story in Genesis 1:21. I think its a bit of a stretch. I just know there are prophecies fulfilled lists floating around out there that I need to go through. But I need to address issue #1 first and I went to the library and got Gleason L. Archer's Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties for starters.

 

Skeptical Christian - pick up two books. They're standard theology books for mainstream seminary students.

 

Reading the Old Testament - an Introduction by Lawrence Boadt (Paulist Press)

 

Witness of The Word - A Biblical Theology of the Gospel by Foster R. McCurley and John Reumann (Fortress Press).

 

Both these books are just standard theology books for seminary students. I'm not recommending them as in I agree with every premise. It's been years since I've read them. I'm recommending them because they will give you a good foundation of where scholarly consensus is on some of these issues.

 

I look forward to your participation on this board. You seem like a balanced thinker - and the world can always use more balance. :)

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Welcome, Skeptical :wave:

 

Nah, no fresh meat that I can see. Just someone willing to question, to inquire, and to use reason and logic - sounds on the level, to me.

 

Have fun and welcome to the board :)

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Guest Skeptical Christian

Hello Skeptical Christian - welcome on board. Don't worry, you'll be treated fairly - as long as you think. People only get flamed when they come in here spouting theology they don't comprehend, have never studied and refuse to think about.

 

1) Mosaic authorship of the pentateuch. This is probably my major sticking point right now because of all the documentary hypothesis books I've been exposed to including The New Oxford Annotated Study Bible and The Oxford Bible Commentary. Originally I thought it wasn't really that important of an issue because my focus was on the new testament but Jesus himself confirms moses as the author so there's not much wiggle room there. Either Moses is the author or Jesus is lying.

HanSolo's response was great...

 

Jesus never said it, but the author of the Gospel thought Moses was the author and put the words in Jesus' mouth. No one lied (intentionally), but Moses didn't write the Pentateuch. (IMO)

 

The only thing I would add is that the overwhelming majority of Biblical scholars accept the Documentary hypothesis as valid - as in 90% or more. Scholars have come to an overwhelming concensus on this issue - it is not just a hypothesis used by individuals with a bias (one way or the other). It is a concensus arrived at after years of study by OT Biblical/Hebrew Scriptures scholars (some of which are Christian - some of which are Hebrew - some of which are neither).

 

2) The supposed contradictions in the Bible. Most of them(BUT NOT ALL) seem to be taken out of context, due to lack of detail and vagueness of the text, or copyist errors. I'm new to Bible study so I know I have a long way to go on this one.

 

3) The prophecies fulfilled. Especially those in the O.T. Apparently I have a lot of work to do. Some KJV-only dude on christianforums says God foreshadowed the Jonah story in Genesis 1:21. I think its a bit of a stretch. I just know there are prophecies fulfilled lists floating around out there that I need to go through. But I need to address issue #1 first and I went to the library and got Gleason L. Archer's Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties for starters.

 

Skeptical Christian - pick up two books. They're standard theology books for mainstream seminary students.

 

Reading the Old Testament - an Introduction by Lawrence Boadt (Paulist Press)

 

Witness of The Word - A Biblical Theology of the Gospel by Foster R. McCurley and John Reumann (Fortress Press).

 

Both these books are just standard theology books for seminary students. I'm not recommending them as in I agree with every premise. It's been years since I've read them. I'm recommending them because they will give you a good foundation of where scholarly consensus is on some of these issues.

 

I look forward to your participation on this board. You seem like a balanced thinker - and the world can always use more balance. :)

 

I actually picked up a theology book about a month ago. I got one called "The Moody Handbook of Theology" by Paul Enns. The author writes from a inerrant evangelical position. It's pretty interesting. I will definitely look into your suggestions.

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Guest Skeptical Christian

1) Mosaic authorship of the pentateuch. This is probably my major sticking point right now because of all the documentary hypothesis books I've been exposed to including The New Oxford Annotated Study Bible and The Oxford Bible Commentary. Originally I thought it wasn't really that important of an issue because my focus was on the new testament but Jesus himself confirms moses as the author so there's not much wiggle room there. Either Moses is the author or Jesus is lying.

Another hypothesis:

 

Jesus never said it, but the author of the Gospel thought Moses was the author and put the words in Jesus' mouth. No one lied (intentionally), but Moses didn't write the Pentateuch. (IMO)

 

2) The supposed contradictions in the Bible. Most of them(BUT NOT ALL) seem to be taken out of context, due to lack of detail and vagueness of the text, or copyist errors. I'm new to Bible study so I know I have a long way to go on this one.

I don't know if the two different lineages of Jesus is "out of context". That just doesn't make sense to see it that way. If it is copy error, would God allow such a thing?

 

3) The prophecies fulfilled. Especially those in the O.T. Apparently I have a lot of work to do. Some KJV-only dude on christianforums says God foreshadowed the Jonah story in Genesis 1:21. I think its a bit of a stretch. I just know there are prophecies fulfilled lists floating around out there that I need to go through. But I need to address issue #1 first and I went to the library and got Gleason L. Archer's Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties for starters.

The Gospels were written to make the character Jesus to look like he fulfilled the prophesies. Aslan in the Narnia Books fulfilled the prophesy from before the ages too. That means Aslan must be real.

 

*Now let the flaming and the devouring of the fresh meat begin!

:fdevil:

 

How do you pull quotes out like that? I guess I should give the "help" guide a read. Thanks for your response to #1. That sounds very reasonable to me but then that brings into question the validity of the gospels.

 

As far as #2 goes. I can't really comment on it at this time but it's definitely on my list of Bible difficulties that needs addressing though.

 

#3-I haven't actually read Narnia so I don't follow the connection. Are these the children's books written by C.S. Lewis? I'm just not a conspiracy theorist so I don't believe there was any evil intent or some grand conspiracy involved. It's pretty obvious to me Jesus actually existed and isn't just a character in a play. I'm just trying to determine whether the gospels are an honest depiction or an exaggeration.

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How do you pull quotes out like that? I guess I should give the "help" guide a read. Thanks for your response to #1. That sounds very reasonable to me but then that brings into question the validity of the gospels.

 

As far as #2 goes. I can't really comment on it at this time but it's definitely on my list of Bible difficulties that needs addressing though.

 

#3-I haven't actually read Narnia so I don't follow the connection. Are these the children's books written by C.S. Lewis? I'm just not a conspiracy theorist so I don't believe there was any evil intent or some grand conspiracy involved. It's pretty obvious to me Jesus actually existed and isn't just a character in a play. I'm just trying to determine whether the gospels are an honest depiction or an exaggeration.

 

 

I don't believe it was nessarally a conspiricy. Just think of this, there were, durring the first century, many people going around claiming to be the messiah. Josephus' antiquities mentions at least 3 that I can think of.

 

The gosples were likely written at least 50 or more years after the supposed death of Jesus. (posiblly longer) and are by far not the only Gospels in existance. There are I believe over 30 other accounts about Jesus and all of them are quite different. Posible many more we will never find because the 2nd coucil of Niciea ordered death for anyone caught with a heritical (read gnostic) text.

 

Now, if the gospel writers were not eyewitnesses, which is doubtful given what we know of the writings. namely, no of the gospel writers name themselves as an author (excpet maybe Luke) but Luke was not an eyewitness of Jesus by his own account anyway. Matthew Mark and John were official titled by those authors durring the Council of Niciea (4th century) I believe, so there is no way to even trace where the oral tradition for those authors names came from.

 

So, if those people were not eyewitnesses what are the chances they got their stories mixed up, and combined between the multiple Christ figures wandering Israel durring the first century? What are the chances that the stories were magnified beyond recognition after being retold for 40 years?

 

In my opinion there were lots of "real" Jesus' during the first century, but they weren't divine. I personally think the Jesus in the bible is a conglomeration of stories the gospels writers colleted that likely didn't even all refer to the same Christ figure. It wasn't a conspiricy, just people with no idea what was going on.

 

 

Oh and yeah Narnia was some fantasy books written by Lewis, the lion Aslan in the books was a Christ figure in his books.

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#3-I haven't actually read Narnia so I don't follow the connection. Are these the children's books written by C.S. Lewis? I'm just not a conspiracy theorist so I don't believe there was any evil intent or some grand conspiracy involved. It's pretty obvious to me Jesus actually existed and isn't just a character in a play. I'm just trying to determine whether the gospels are an honest depiction or an exaggeration.

 

Skeptical ... most scholars don't believe there was a "conspiracy". But - it is important to recognize that we do not have an actual news account of the life of Jesus. You may want to check out another thread as far as the existence of Jesus. Below are links to some of the different posts in that thread the links jump you to where the discussion begins about the existence of Jesus.

 

True Follower's Of Christ, Amy Marie .... Thinking of you ......

 

http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?s=&s...ndpost&p=181500

 

(amy marie @ Jun 3 2006, 02:43 PM) Well. Jesus is the one Person who did come back from the dead and has a lot to say about Heaven and Hell.

First Amy, let us distinguish between the actual words of Jesus and words attributed to Jesus by his followers. There is a difference. Not to get into a long New Testament literary analysis .... but dating the gospels is dicey business.

 

The earliest gospel is Mark - dated between 60-80 AD. If we go with 60 (and many scholars have good reason to date it this early) that's still 30 years after the death of Christ. The writer, if an eye-witness to the events in the life of Jesus, would have been 30 years removed from what he was writing about.

 

Matthew and Luke share a common source, Q, that may predate Mark. But that can only be applied to material which is common to both Matthew and Luke - but not found in Mark. So the playing field between words "attributed" to Jesus and words Jesus actually spoke is narrowed even more.

 

Pile on top of all that that any language of the gospels was penned in a different time and culture than the one you and I live in. Well - then - not only does one have to take into account which words of Jesus were actually spoken by him, then one has to have a better grip on the culture, world view of that time and place to even begin to search out a meaning to the text.

 

...

 

http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?s=&s...ndpost&p=182020

 

(amy marie @ Jun 5 2006, 04:10 AM) I believe Jesus is an historical Person. He is not a myth. I would like to talk about this in more detail.

Amy Marie... following are some links that may give you some insight to the various points of view.

 

THE SEARCH FOR THE HISTORICAL JESUS:

 

INTERPRETING THE GOSPELS - GAINING INSIGHT INTO JESUS' MINISTRY:

 

DID JESUS OF NAZARETH ACTUALLY EXIST? - All sides to the question

 

These are very simple outlines and do not begin to cover the complexity of the debate. But, it's a starting point for discussion.

 

One other site you may want to check out for a more indepth look at scholarly consensus is:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sh...c/synopsis.html

 

As we've discussed in other threads, most scholars do feel Jesus lived and walked the earth. They did not come to this conclusion by pulling an opinion out of thin air. They came to their conclusions by study. But, Amy, if you are going to use the fact that most scholars feel Jesus lived as a defense of your position, you ought to understand the full breadth of scholarly consensus on the issues of Jesus' life and early Christianity. This site will help you get a better picture of the bigger issues.

 

The study of ancient history in ANY realm - not just Biblical ancient history - but all ancient history - is complicated by lack of physical evidence. Scholars must use a different methodology and trying to uncover what actually happened. Literary methodologies become extremely important and there is also a valid place for oral history. So, to understand what scholars conclude one must be willing to understand the methods by which they come to their conclusions. The links I've posted above will barely scratch the surface - but they will give us some excellent points to start a larger discussion.

 

For all participants - as thread author - I would ask only one thing. If you are going to participate in the discussion about the historicity of Jesus, do your research. Back your opinions up with quality sources. Everyone here can spot a biased source - so please - for the sake of learning from each other have the decency to recognize that the historicity of Jesus is a major grey area in scholarship. There isn't a concrete answer one way or the other, and there probably never will be.

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Thanks for your response to #1. That sounds very reasonable to me but then that brings into question the validity of the gospels.

Depends on you.

 

If your faith and belief demands that all Jesus did had to be historical events, and that the Gospels are supposed to be historical books, then it would conflict with your faith.

 

But if you believe the Gospels are illustrating a higher level of spirituality, and are the guide for you to become a Jesus, you as the personified and realized Jesus, and do the same journey, then the stories doesn't have to be taken literally, but are illustrative to the journey you have to make.

 

There are plenty other versions of Christianity, and several don't see the Gospels as literal historical stories.

 

So the problem is caused by your view and interpretation of the whole Gospels. You read some parts literal, and some illustrative already today. For instance, you probably don't read "hate your father and mother" as literally that you should hate them, right? So if some parts can be read illustrative without losing value or importance for you, how come can't you do it with a larger part of it?

 

Have religious dogma and tradition become the prison that make sure you can't see the real light?

 

As far as #2 goes. I can't really comment on it at this time but it's definitely on my list of Bible difficulties that needs addressing though.

You bet we have made many comments on it though! :grin:

 

#3-I haven't actually read Narnia so I don't follow the connection. Are these the children's books written by C.S. Lewis? I'm just not a conspiracy theorist so I don't believe there was any evil intent or some grand conspiracy involved. It's pretty obvious to me Jesus actually existed and isn't just a character in a play. I'm just trying to determine whether the gospels are an honest depiction or an exaggeration.

I won't dispute Jesus as a person or a teacher, but I would dispute the miracles and fabulous events that have been ascribed to him.

 

Imagine that you would have free hands to write a story about a man that lived 40 years ago. And your assignment is to invent parts of the story to fulfill the prophesies someone else did 350 years ago. Would you as an author to be able to do that? Of course you would.

 

The stories about Jesus weren't written down until 40-70 years after Jesus' death. They were not written by the eyewitnesses, but second or third generation of followers. The Theology had already started to establish itself, and they wrote the story to put image of what they believed unto the story of Jesus. To make the miracles fit prophesies wasn't really the problem, but the problems they had was to be consistent with testable facts. There are many errors in the text, of places, times, events and so on. Even mistranslations from the old testament. But to make Jesus to appear to fulfill the prophesies was the easy part.

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I was looking at the list of supposed Bible contradictions on the Skeptic's Annotated Bible website. For whatever reason I decided to randomly pick about 5 and check these myself to verify their accuracy. It turns out they weren't contradictions at all. The person who compiled the list obviously either simply copied it from somewhere else or they've never actually read the entire Bible or just never bothered to check them for accuracy.

OK, you started out talking like you were just here to get some answers ("I'm not here to convert anyone or anything like that. I'm here to obtain information and answer some questions of my own as a skeptical christian.") and then you switched gears and began setting us all straight. I will admit to being suspicious as to your true intentions here, but will give you the benefit of the doubt for now.

 

As far as the SAB goes, could you please list these 5 contradictions which you supposedly picked out at random and then disproved? I'd be interested in seeing them.

Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus book solidified it for me. His book was actually written to place doubts in the minds of believers but I actually found the book to show the great pains the church has gone through over the years to preserve the texts.

You are again betraying your motives. Could you please share with us where you learned of Dr. Ehrman's motives in writing his book? You do know that he is the Chair of the Dept. of Religious Studies at the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, right?

I appreciate all of you who have shared your deconversion stories on this site because you all make it very clear one should stay far away from fundamentalist churches!! Having read a number of your deconversion stories I can't help but wonder how your religious beliefs would've turned out if you weren't exposed to fundamentalism.

While I'm sure there are many here who came from fundy backgrounds, many more came from either orthodox or minimalist backgrounds. I don't believe that a lack of fundamentalism would produce less ex-christians.

2) The supposed contradictions in the Bible. Most of them(BUT NOT ALL) seem to be taken out of context, due to lack of detail and vagueness of the text, or copyist errors. I'm new to Bible study so I know I have a long way to go on this one.

Given that you are rather new to the field, you might want to do as you originally stated and sit back, obtain information and hopefully get some answers. Ease up a bit on the bold, confident statements of position, see what happens. That's my .02

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The stories about Jesus weren't written down until 40-70 years after Jesus' death. They were not written by the eyewitnesses, but second or third generation of followers. The Theology had already started to establish itself, and they wrote the story to put image of what they believed unto the story of Jesus. To make the miracles fit prophesies wasn't really the problem, but the problems they had was to be consistent with testable facts. There are many errors in the text, of places, times, events and so on. Even mistranslations from the old testament. But to make Jesus to appear to fulfill the prophesies was the easy part.

One important thing to add to this also that I think our new member is concerned about, and that is the integrity of the authors. I think it should be clear that their reading the old testament was very not likely to be due to a desire to deceive their audience, but it was an actually expression of their faith. The idealized the story, and saw confirmation of their faith in the Hebrew Scriptures.

 

The contradictions, misapplied prophecies, non-prophecy prophecies, etc, are reflective of the humanness of the interpretations. The problem with a more literalist approach is that they read the NT as delivered by God scripture rather than as a human work of religious themes. Approaching it as a human work makes these problems understandable. Approaching as a divinely delivered work, make you have to strain at explainations. The mistranslation of the virgin in Isaiah, being a classic example. In either case, I accept the sincerity of the texts, but I reject the belief they are divinely infallible. They are human works speaking to the divine.

 

Understanding this, you can move past apologizing for it, and begin to focus on what was really going on and what value there might be in it. Getting hung up on insisting it's God's Word, is a fruitless distraction that will only result in sounding like someone arguing the world is a cube instead of a ball.

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