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Old 06-05-2019, 11:40 PM
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Believe Jesus is Lord = normal, believe David Koresh is Lord = wacko. Why?


Is it all in the timing of the arrival on Earth? At least with someone like Koresh and others, they are here now in front of me (or were), and I can listen to what they really say, and base my determination whether they are Lord or not on seeing and hearing them, what they say and do. With Jesus Christ, all I truly know of him is what various followers wrote about him decades later- aka hearsay and second or third hand hearsay. So why is being a Jesus follower seen as normal, and Koresh type follower seen as brainwashed or insane?
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Old 06-06-2019, 12:03 AM
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This may as well be a rhetorical question, as the answer is obvious: culture, tradition, momentum.

It's pretty difficult for a human to sell themselves as a god, so the vast majority fail to gain any following. But if they manage to gain a following there are various aspects of religion that help it to propagate and protect it from skeptical analysis. I could start listing these out but that's a big topic in itself, and not limited to Christianity.

Do you want to talk about how it is that Jesus managed to gain a following (even if posthumously)?

But yeah it helps that he lived thousands of years ago and his life is just a bunch of legends. The frequency of miracles seems inversely proportional to our ability to record and verify them.

Last edited by Mijin; 06-06-2019 at 12:07 AM.
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Old 06-06-2019, 12:07 AM
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Because Jesus actually is Lord, and David Koresh was not.
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Old 06-06-2019, 12:15 AM
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Do you want to talk about how it is that Jesus managed to gain a following (even if posthumously)?
Well it is interesting that many have made the claim, yet his popularity is by far the highest- I assume because he was the first to make that claim, but I am not sure there
were not others before who did?
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Old 06-06-2019, 12:31 AM
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Because Jesus actually is Lord, and David Koresh was not.

Don't blaspheme! We all know that the one true god is Roger Ebert.
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Old 06-06-2019, 05:00 AM
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It used to be that believing Jesus is Lord = wacko.

Then it started to change and after a few hundred years it was not.

It even came to a point that believing Jesus is Lord = normal, believe Zeus is Lord = wacko.

Like damn they just swapped, sitting back look at this shit, wow!
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Old 06-06-2019, 05:30 AM
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You can see how these things play out in real time with Scientology.

Clearly a construction, self-proclaimed by it's inventor but it gains enough temporal distance from it's origins that anyone unaware of how it began will only look at the structure around it and the number of followers and assume it must have some validity.

No reason at all why the same thing won't happen regarding Koresh. After all, the first gospel probably wasn't written until 40 or so years after the death of Jesus. We aren't even at that point yet for Koresh.
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Old 06-06-2019, 06:06 AM
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Probably because one of them rose from the grave and the other didn't.
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Old 06-06-2019, 06:16 AM
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Probably because one of them rose from the grave and the other didn't.
...yet.
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Old 06-06-2019, 06:17 AM
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All it takes is for one person to write down, as a second-hand eyewitness, that Koresh did precisely that and you now have equal evidence for both.
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Old 06-06-2019, 06:37 AM
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Isn't it spelled Waco?
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Old 06-06-2019, 06:41 AM
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Well, one thing Jesus had going for him was that he was riding on preexisting beliefs. He himself was a Jewish teacher, and one of many who taught somewhat similar things. And the "Lord" claim came from an idea of Jewish Scripture of a Messiah who would eventually come.

This doesn't work so well today. No one is looking for a religious savior to come, other than maybe Jesus himself. Okay, so there is still some belief in a possible Messiah by Jewish people, but the requirements are far more stringent* due to Jewish people being fooled in the past. Some cult leader isn't going to cut it.

And, if you look at history, what gets labeled crazy is not so much based on what is true as it is based on how much it differs from the accepted wisdom. Sure, Jesus's followers were considered crazy by many, but there was a large group that didn't think his beliefs were that far out there. Throw in Paul teaching people to not go overboard, and it makes sense that Jesus had enough people following to reach the critical mass needed to jump from cult to sect to full on religion.

These small time cult leaders don't. They just seem so obviously wrong that we can't figure out why someone would possibly believe them. So we call them crazy.

If they wanted to be more accepted by the world at large and not their small cult, they'd need to latch onto something more powerful and widespread today. They'd need to abandon the idea of being "Lord." Few peopl are looking for a human "Lord" these days.

*Yes, some would say the requirements were just as stringent in the past. But given how many people would follow this guy or the other guy as a Messiah, I don't think that stringency had stretched so much to the lay people.

Last edited by BigT; 06-06-2019 at 06:43 AM.
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Old 06-06-2019, 06:45 AM
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It also depends on what they're teaching. Most mainstream religions have mostly the same core teachings: Be a good person, help those less fortunate than you, be peaceful, etc. Whether the theology is true or not, most of it is still good advice. But most of the religions that get labeled as "cults" have teachings like isolating yourself from everyone outside of the cult, giving the leader all you have, etc.
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Old 06-06-2019, 06:52 AM
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All it takes is for one person to write down, as a second-hand eyewitness, that Koresh did precisely that and you now have equal evidence for both.
“I hear Jesus cured a blind guy.”
“Well, that’s not great evidence.”
“Fair enough; tell me about Koresh.”
“I hear he wears glasses.”
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Old 06-06-2019, 06:57 AM
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... So why is being a Jesus follower seen as normal, and Koresh type follower seen as brainwashed or insane?
Most people, I'm going to guess that it's around 99.999% who are Christian have had that taught to them from the time they were infants. It becomes a very odd thing to question. I will also guess that the percentage of people who follow Koresh types decided that as adults. Not all of them, but percentage wise a lot of them.
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Old 06-06-2019, 07:28 AM
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And the "Lord" claim came from an idea of Jewish Scripture of a Messiah who would eventually come.
Not really, the Jewish messiah isn't divine.
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Old 06-06-2019, 07:29 AM
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But most of the religions that get labeled as "cults" have teachings like isolating yourself from everyone outside of the cult, giving the leader all you have, etc.

They also tend to have founders who's ultimate goal seems to be to structure things so that they get to have sex with lots of teenage girls. (Koresh being no exception.)
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Old 06-06-2019, 08:10 AM
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another way to look at it, believing anyone is lord = wacko
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Old 06-06-2019, 09:11 AM
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Quoth bobot:

Most people, I'm going to guess that it's around 99.999% who are Christian have had that taught to them from the time they were infants.
It's not just familiarity. Most folks raised Christian are also unfamiliar with, say, Hinduism. But most folks raised Christian don't consider Hindus to be crazy (deluded, maybe, but not crazy). Even weird religions like the neo-pagans or Unitarian Universalists generally still get more respect than cultists.
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Old 06-06-2019, 09:18 AM
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“I hear Jesus cured a blind guy.”
“Well, that’s not great evidence.”
“Fair enough; tell me about Koresh.”
“I hear he wears glasses.”
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Old 06-06-2019, 09:21 AM
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It's not just familiarity. Most folks raised Christian are also unfamiliar with, say, Hinduism. But most folks raised Christian don't consider Hindus to be crazy (deluded, maybe, but not crazy). Even weird religions like the neo-pagans or Unitarian Universalists generally still get more respect than cultists.
I agree, and wonder at what point something considered a cult gains status as an acceptable religion? Is it length of time, number of members, etc.? Scientology has way more followers than Koresh ever did (100k to 500k estimate), and has been around since I think the 1950's, but is still (correctly) seen as a cult by most I believe?

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Old 06-06-2019, 09:38 AM
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There is no mention of Jesus rising from the dead outside of the Bible. No independent, unbiased source whatsoever.

Charles Manson's followers believed he was "the son of Man." But he still hasn't risen from the dead (yet).
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Old 06-06-2019, 10:35 AM
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If Koresh had traveled around the country, healing the sick, raising the dead, producing unlimited amounts of fish and bread, walking on water, and turning water into wine, then it wouldn't be "wacko"

But, instead he holed up in crappy Waco with a bunch of guns. So "wacko"
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Old 06-06-2019, 11:27 AM
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Most people, I'm going to guess that it's around 99.999% who are Christian have had that taught to them from the time they were infants. It becomes a very odd thing to question. I will also guess that the percentage of people who follow Koresh types decided that as adults. Not all of them, but percentage wise a lot of them.
This. People raised Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, etc. are basically following the teachings of their culture. People who as adults decides to follow Jim Jones or David Koresh almost certainly have some kind of a psychological issue that leads them to becoming followers of whichever cult leader they have decided on.

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Old 06-06-2019, 05:11 PM
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...yet.
I saw him. It didn't look like him, or sound like him, and when I asked he denied it, but that was all just a test.
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Old 06-06-2019, 06:33 PM
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I think much of it is age. Scientology looks weird, but then I find all non-familiar religions to also have really strange origin stories. (Well, Scientology is weirder than most.) Scientology, and many quasi-Christian religions (Christian Science, Jehovah's Witnesses, and so forth) were founded recently enough that people can read their stories, have not become "acclimated" to them, and because we're familiar enough with their founders, we can look at their flaws and call the religion a cult... which they very often were.

By contrast, the founders of Christianity all died nearly 2,000 years ago. Nobody can read a scandal sheet on Paul of Tarsus. Most info was either supporting him or written by one of his enemies, so biased either way. Paul never got to see his religion become successful either. The rise of Christianity was largely due to a single emperor who decided to pray to Jesus (or God, I don't really know) before a battle. He won the battle, and converted, apparently on his deathbed.

(This story reminds me of the Roman military chickens. Roman officers wouldn't launch attacks on the day the chickens gave a bad omen, despite the extremely serious and life-threatening nature of combat. One impious officer decided to ignore the "advice" from the chickens and launched an attack. His side won, so the chickens weren't prognosticators, just chickens. Then again, he got killed by a javelin, possibly a Roman one, so maybe the chickens really were dark wizards.)

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Is it all in the timing of the arrival on Earth? At least with someone like Koresh and others, they are here now in front of me (or were), and I can listen to what they really say, and base my determination whether they are Lord or not on seeing and hearing them, what they say and do. With Jesus Christ, all I truly know of him is what various followers wrote about him decades later- aka hearsay and second or third hand hearsay. So why is being a Jesus follower seen as normal, and Koresh type follower seen as brainwashed or insane?
Koresh was alive in living memory and demonstrably "not perfect". He also (like many other cult leaders) acted like he was Jesus, and I suspect Joshua bar Joseph (the historical Jesus) never treated his followers like sex slaves. Although, again, we don't have any unbiased scandal sheets from that time period.

Joshua bar Jospeh died almost 2000 years ago. The version of him that is worshiped is fictionalized and "perfect". Koresh wasn't, but if he was successful, maybe a few hundred years in the future people would have believed that.

While many old religions claim they have not undergone much, if any, change, this is false... Religions evolve over time, are influenced by neighboring religions and major events, and even any holy works undergo a kind of language shift.
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Old 06-06-2019, 06:36 PM
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Sane = Normal
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Old 06-06-2019, 06:45 PM
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Whatever else he might have been, Jesus was a philosopher. He went around preaching a new philosophy (how great it would be to be nice to everyone for a change). The message he preached was embraced by many people. Whether he was man or god, he was certainly one of the most influential thinkers of all time.

David Koresh didn't. His preachings were heard only by a small community, and nobody outside it. Nobody else listened to him. Nobody embraced his message. Nobody was influenced.

Some people might think that the teachings of Jesus came from a source that was more than human. Could a mere man come up with ideas that are so World-changing? Nobody could think that about David Koresh.
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Old 06-06-2019, 10:04 PM
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Whatever else he might have been, Jesus was a philosopher. He went around preaching a new philosophy (how great it would be to be nice to everyone for a change). The message he preached was embraced by many people. Whether he was man or god, he was certainly one of the most influential thinkers of all time.

David Koresh didn't. His preachings were heard only by a small community, and nobody outside it. Nobody else listened to him. Nobody embraced his message. Nobody was influenced.

Some people might think that the teachings of Jesus came from a source that was more than human. Could a mere man come up with ideas that are so World-changing? Nobody could think that about David Koresh.
It's unclear how big Jesus' church was. I wouldn't be surprised if it were only a few dozen people overall, with many of those being his family. It's also unclear how much of Christian philosophy is from Jesus.

Paul, on the other hand, preached to many. The circumstances of Paul's conversation make it likely that Jesus did preach something along the lines that you should forgive people and accept people who are foreign or outcast, etc. Beyond that, the relationship between Paul's religion and Jesus' are unclear. How much of a philosopher Jesus was, is unclear.

The only information that we have about Jesus seems to come from the time after John the Baptist died. Many of the rival churches simply view Jesus as having been a person who continued John's message. We know almost nothing about John's teachings, despite knowing that he was wildly more popular than Jesus and had a far larger body of followers. Likely, the Gospels come from a person (or set of people) who were initially followers of John the Baptist - e.g. Peter.

As said, there's a strange gap in history as regards the teachings of John the Baptist. The only thing we have is the Mandaean religious books and those seem to date from 200-300 years after John's death. Still, I've considered going through them to see if they include a bunch of the same material as we see in the Gospels (including the Gospel of Thomas).

Very much of the New Testament could be from Jesus. But nearly all of it could also be from Paul and John the Baptist. Most of Jesus'teachings could have been mystical explanations of diagrams of the celestial plane. The end result of the New Testament is, to some extent, philosophical. Drawing from that, that Jesus was a philosopher is probably not a reasonable conclusion. It's possible, and even plausible, but the remaining information is too small and too untrustworthy to really establish it as a fact (so far as I have seen, looking through the first and early second century materials - including the Gospels and Acts).
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Old 06-06-2019, 11:54 PM
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How much of a philosopher Jesus was, is unclear.
He must have been, with two S's in his name.
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Old 06-14-2019, 10:12 AM
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Whatever else he might have been, Jesus was a philosopher. He went around preaching a new philosophy (how great it would be to be nice to everyone for a change). The message he preached was embraced by many people. Whether he was man or god, he was certainly one of the most influential thinkers of all time.
It was not new for someone to think it would be great if everyone was more kind to others, nor is this a trait limited to our species. What might have been new with many sects of Christianity was believing a eternal fiery hell awaited unbelievers. So at least in this regard, Jehovah was more kind than Jesus.

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David Koresh didn't. His preachings were heard only by a small community, and nobody outside it. Nobody else listened to him. Nobody embraced his message. Nobody was influenced.

Had David Koresh and Jesus switched places in time, it could have easily been Koresh with all of the fanfare and adulation, while Jesus under today's more critical audience would have wrote him off as they did Koresh. Several thousand years ago, miracles were easier to come by, not that difficult to have others getting in on a good thing writing in miracles decades later, same true with some teachings which have been shown not to be in older manuscripts, but appear later.

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Some people might think that the teachings of Jesus came from a source that was more than human. Could a mere man come up with ideas that are so World-changing?
Are you one that thinks this as well? If so, what examples of his teachings stand out with you as something more than human?

Last edited by Razncain; 06-14-2019 at 10:12 AM.
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Old 06-16-2019, 02:06 PM
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Some people might think that the teachings of Jesus came from a source that was more than human. Could a mere man come up with ideas that are so World-changing? Nobody could think that about David Koresh.
Newton? Einstein? Gallileo? Copernicus? Mill? Paine? Socrates?...........I could go on.

Nothing Jesus supposedly said is intrinsically more more world-changing than what we know such people have said. Plus, isn't the fact that he was whollly a normal human rather central to the whole christianity thing?

Humans can and do say these things, why would Koresh be incapable of doing so as well?
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Old 06-16-2019, 03:49 PM
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I agree, and wonder at what point something considered a cult gains status as an acceptable religion? Is it length of time, number of members, etc.? Scientology has way more followers than Koresh ever did (100k to 500k estimate), and has been around since I think the 1950's, but is still (correctly) seen as a cult by most I believe?
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I think much of it is age. Scientology looks weird, but then I find all non-familiar religions to also have really strange origin stories. (Well, Scientology is weirder than most.) Scientology, and many quasi-Christian religions (Christian Science, Jehovah's Witnesses, and so forth) were founded recently enough that people can read their stories, have not become "acclimated" to them, and because we're familiar enough with their founders, we can look at their flaws and call the religion a cult... which they very often were.
One thing that the more succesful old-school "Alt-Protestant" denominations like Christian Science, JWs, LDS, did was start from the claim they were, in fact, being good Christians all along and that they had just discovered a far better way to interpret the teachings/prophecies in the scriptures (or, in the latter case, that they had found a whole new set thereof). It then depended a lot on right time/right place -- one wonders if the core of the LDS had stayed in the Midwest rather than headed for Utah, may they have been eventually reassimilated or remained a powerless marginalized group; or what if post-WW2 antibiotics, vaccines, chemotherapy, transplants had preceded the proposition of Christian Science.


Quote:
Koresh was alive in living memory and demonstrably "not perfect". He also (like many other cult leaders) acted like he was Jesus, and I suspect Joshua bar Joseph (the historical Jesus) never treated his followers like sex slaves. Although, again, we don't have any unbiased scandal sheets from that time period.

Joshua bar Jospeh died almost 2000 years ago. The version of him that is worshiped is fictionalized and "perfect".
And that's another bit that is key in the success or failure of Alt-Christianities: never claim to BE Jesus, as there can only be one Jesus and the scriptures provide a set of clues as to what he's supposed to be like. You may claim to have received revelations FROM Jesus, or at most that you have the Spirit dwelling upon you, but even then it has to be sort of consistent with the established expectations.
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Old 06-17-2019, 03:29 PM
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Because Jesus actually is Lord, and David Koresh was not.
Actually, because this is America, where we don’t HAVE lords (it’s in the Constitution; you can look it up) David Koresh isn’t eligible to be a lord. Some people seem to think that Jesus got grandfathered in or something (again, because this is America, some people take it as axiomatic that they also have the right to be mistaken regarding matters of factual reality).
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Old 06-17-2019, 03:48 PM
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One huge difference is that Paul (along with other apostles) continued preaching about Jesus, while remaining modest about himself. The Pauline message was never about glorifying himself (or picking up teen-aged girls). He was telling others, "Hey! THIS guy was perfect and the Son of God. I'm just a lowly sinner. I'll give you some advice about saving yourself, but it's not about ME."

I don't see a whole lot of people earnestly preaching about following Koresh nowadays.
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Old 06-17-2019, 04:01 PM
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I don't think there's any objective standard you can apply that says one set of religious beliefs is normal and another set of beliefs is wacko. But I'll argue there's a subjective standard. We function as part of a society. And if something is believed by a large portion of the members of that society, then it's a mainstream belief - even if there's no objective rational evidence to support it.

The difference between believing in the divinity of Jesus and the divinity of David Koresh isn't that one belief is true and the other is false. It's that one belief is widely held throughout western culture and the other one isn't. Holding an irrational belief that is widely held by the society you're a part of is normal behavior. Holding an irrational belief that is outside of the mainstream of your society is "wacko".
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Old 06-17-2019, 06:50 PM
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I think much of it is age. Scientology looks weird, but then I find all non-familiar religions to also have really strange origin stories. (Well, Scientology is weirder than most.) Scientology, and many quasi-Christian religions (Christian Science, Jehovah's Witnesses, and so forth) were founded recently enough that people can read their stories, have not become "acclimated" to them, and because we're familiar enough with their founders, we can look at their flaws and call the religion a cult... which they very often were.

By contrast, the founders of Christianity all died nearly 2,000 years ago. Nobody can read a scandal sheet on Paul of Tarsus. Most info was either supporting him or written by one of his enemies, so biased either way. Paul never got to see his religion become successful either. The rise of Christianity was largely due to a single emperor who decided to pray to Jesus (or God, I don't really know) before a battle. He won the battle, and converted, apparently on his deathbed.
I have had this discussion many times. I was Mormon, which is new enough so that we know where all the bodies are buried, as it were. There are a number of professors of religion who study Mormonism because it's an example of a successful religion which has matured, but young enough that the early evolution of theology can been traced.

Mormonism is a quasi cult, and had history gone differently could have grown more. Had that happened, it would have been more mainstream.
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Old 06-18-2019, 07:01 AM
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Koresh's opening line to anyone who'd listen was "If the Bible is true, then I'm the Messiah." He was familiar enough with scripture (and Seventh Day Adventist dogma) that he could talk up a good line to anyone vested in the specific communities where he trawled. Huge swaths of the American Southwest are controlled by religious groups that teach that a messiah is imminent.

We don't know a whole lot about the historic Jesus, and much of what we attribute to Him assumes He was perfect and works backwards from that. I really like Reza Aslan's description of him, but fall short of endorsing it. Maybe He was a jackleg preacher out for free dinners and teenage boo-tay. I'm sure He was very little like what most modern Bibles describe Him as being. But part of not having a paper trail prior to maybe 200 AD is, there is no record of him defrauding rival sects out of their real estate ownership, and we have that very thing for David Koresh. That doesn't sound very Christ-like, now does it? So Koresh: Not a messiah.
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Old 06-19-2019, 12:18 PM
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Dr. Bart Ehrman uses believing in Koresh as the 2nd coming as analogous to how ridiculous it would have seemed to the majority at the time that this Jesus, a crucified carpenter, was the messiah.

Apparently he stopped doing this because increasingly few people know who Koresh was and he got complaints that he was calling Koresh the messiah.
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Old 06-21-2019, 05:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Telemark View Post
Not really, the Jewish messiah isn't divine.
I never said it was. In fact, I chose my words carefully to avoid stating this. I didn't refer to "divinity" at all. I even put the word "Lord" in quotes to indicate I was using the term used by the OP. And, as is common with statements in open paragraphs, I go deeper into what I mean later on in the post.

Actually getting into the nitty gritty of how the Messiah concept, already a king/leader type could become a divine figure gets into a lot more complicated issues that were beyond the scope of the question.

However, I will say this much: it is not clear that "Jesus is Lord" means the same thing as "Jesus is Adonai." Like in English, Greek used the same word (kurios), to refer both to "the LORD" and some sort of lord (or master or leader).

Not only did Jesus himself not claim to be "Lord," but it's not actually clear that the Biblical "Jesus is Lord" originally was a claim of divinity. It's not like the Trinitarian concept existed yet (though we do have John's "Word" which both "was God" and "became flesh." However, John is generally regarded as being written later than other books.)

However, even claiming this much getting into a huge tangle of weeds. I found it unnecessary in my explanation. The main point was that Jesus's claim rested on existing cultural beliefs at the time, and trying to bring that to modern day when cultural beliefs are doesn't work.

The people who actually get large cult followings today don't use the "Lord" narrative. They're more likely to push a political narrative, like that voices are not being heard, or that they alone can beat your political enemies. (And, note, just like I avoided saying Jesus was right or wrong, I also do not say that these people are right or wrong.)
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