I’m sorry if this is in the wrong section, but I wanted to make sure it got read. I haven’t been here near long enough to know everyone’s board preferences.
So, Libertarian, my question(s) are about your Christianity. I was raised in a nominally Baptist house, but sent to a Catholic school since 5th grade. And, although the monks there (Cistercians of the Loose Observance [Non-trappists]) were rather liberal-minded and very intelligent, they never much questioned the validity of the New Testament’s records. They supported the Gospels’ validity with what we were promised, and I still believe, were legitimate first century dates.
It never occured to me, however, that in spite of the fact that the Gospels were written by men present at the events (Matthew and John, at least), the words would not be recorded accurately. So, question number one is how necessary is it to have an exacting account of Jesus’s words. (I suppose this should be asked in the context that the entire Bible is inspired by God [I assume you believe this, please correct me if I am wrong] and therefore a perfect expression of his desired meaning)?
You also seem to reject the Pauline teachings, at least based on the very limited reading I’ve done on the board. If so, do you simply reject theology as a necessary part of religion? Something like this? So that was question number two.
Question number three involves Jesus’s miracles: You do believe he is God Incarnate, so you believe in the miracles, right? If not, or only partially, and you haven’t already spent far too much time responding to me already, could you explain this?
I suppose that is about it. I would like to ask forgiveness for any imprecision in my questions, or any angry bible-bashing I might inspire. I’d like to ask anyone who responds (I invite everyone who is well-informed on the subject; I chose Libertarian primarily because he was quoting Bible passages, and is obviously very confident in his faith) to please, for my poor, frightened, newbie soul, don’t start deconstructing the Bible. I know there are plenty of arguments against the reliability of the Bible’s contents, or its authorship, but I am sure I can find them elsewhere.
Finally, if my questions have already been addressed in some other thread, please, I would be quite satisfied if you would just point me the way. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to do this myself.
Seeing as a belief in Jesus Christ as God pretty much precludes belief in other religions, but you’re also not very dogmatic (I think), how do you relate Christianity to Islam and Judaism? And Buddhism? And Hinduism?
Feel free not to reply if I’ve been far too demanding.
Hmmm… It’s a bit spooky to have been singled out. Poly is a far greater apologist than I, and Tris a far deeper thinker. Even Gaudere, as an atheist, or MEBuckner — they and others might likely give you more reliable answers about the details of Nicene politics. But I suspect that you singled me out, not for any of those, but because of the apparently odd way, at least on the surface, that my faith is blended into my worldview. So, I’ll start there.
My worldview consists of three primary cognational inhesions: a first that deals with man’s relation to God, Christianity; a second that deals with man’s relation to man, Libertarianism; and a third that deals with man’s relation to himself, Objectivism. For me, these coalesce into a consonant philosophy that I find intellectually satisfying.
With that now stated, let’s begin by dealing with the more picayune portions of your inquiry because, if we don’t, someone else will, and the distractions that ensue might likely intimidate you as a newcomer who already seems a bit intimidated.
First, in my worthless opinion, your thread is in the correct forum because it is quite likely to spawn debate. But the title might have been more generally inclusive, along the lines of “Is Libertarian’s Theology Too Weird?” thus giving everyone an open opportunity to express themselves. Second, it is not sufficiently established that the author of Matthew was contemporary to Jesus’s ministry, and it is fairly well established that the author of John was not. Most likely, it was the author of Mark who related the only eyewitness account. Those observations might or might not be correct, but are the general opinion of most current authoritative scholars.
Now, to your specific questions.
Well, certainly we need an exacting account of at least some of His words. Were it the case that every word attributed to Him is in fact not anything that He said, then our whole theological wad is shot.
There must be at least enough words that are an exacting account that we can formulate a reasonable theory of Christian epistemology. Moreover, the words that we examine must be contextually meaningful; that is, we can’t just transliterate Greek words into English and use them toward our formulations. If we do that, we end up with every manner of ethical neglegence from unnecessary controversies, like God’s “hate” (miseo), to entirely incomplete meanings, like the meaning of “believe” (pistuo); in the former instance, turning God into Fred Phelps, and in the latter, turning intectual comprehension into faith.
So what we do is search for what seems to be contextual themes that surface again and again, and that are corroborated by other contextual themes. And there is one that stands out head and shoulders above all others: love (agape). Love is at the core of virtually every significant instance of Jesus’s praxes, whether as literal verbage from His mouth or as the underlying sentiment of His actions.
Love is therefore where we begin, and is the foundation upon which all else must be built. It gives us a much needed axiom, where our reasoning may begin: God loves. If therefore we encounter a passage wherein Jesus seems not to love, then what we have discovered is either an error in transcription, an error in translation, or an error in judgment or comprehension, either on our part or on the part of the author or his sources.
A couple of examples of this have been dealt with here in prior debates, the most famous of which were Jesus cursing the fig tree, and Jesus sending demons into the pigs. We must decide here, based on our foundational axiom and other derived premises, whether Jesus did in fact curse the fig tree, and if so, what it was telling us about love. Likewise for the pigs.
So, this is my take on your question. We have enough evidence that we may reasonably conclude that Jesus’s message is a message of love. It was therefore necessary at least to have an exacting account of whatever words were pertinent toward that theme.
If Jesus’s Word was Love, then it is easy to derive the premise that God Himself is love, by examing the opening passages of John.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” — John 1:1-14
No rocket science is required here to deduce that Jesus is the Word of God, and in fact is God Himself. If God’s Word is Jesus, and Jesus’s Word is Love, then God’s Word is Love. And if God is the Word, then God is Love. (QED)
Now, we must look at that passage to determine whether it in any way contradicts our primary axiom. And in fact, it does not. Thus, our deduction is sound.
Hmmm… “Reject” might be too strong a term. I merely find Paul’s teachings to be, on the whole, unnecessary, and sometimes even obfuscatory. But so long as they are examined within the epistemological confines of what we can deduce from Jesus’s teachings, then they are acceptable. If, in any instance, they were to contradict Jesus’s teachings, and no satisfactory interpretation can be found wherein they comply, then they must indeed be rejected.
With respect to theology and religion, I am adamantly convinced that religion, with its baggage of politics, heirarchy, and ritual, is far from the heart of God Himself. Jesus never so much as mentions religion, and we see the term crop up first in Acts. And what an appropriate context!
“Instead, they had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive.” — Acts 25:19
They are doing intellectual battle over piddly shit! The hell with religion. Jesus’s concern towards man’s metaphysical identity was not with religion, but with faith.
That is why I am so offended when someone calls me “religious”. I interpret it as saying that I am a politician who makes converts into sons of hell. Well, fuck that.
Oh, yes! Yes indeed, I do believe in the miracles. I have seen in my own life so many miracles, not the least of which is my own faith, given particularly the intellectual skepticism with which I approached the whole matter of Christianity. It seems to me quite reasonable that God, as the creator of the universe, through nothing more than His will, is eminently capable of reforming matter and energy, though toward what purpose is the paramount consideration.
He will not bend space for the purpose of bending our will.
There is a whole 'nuther aspect of my theological understanding that deals with the ontology of God and man as spirit versus the universe and man as atoms, but you didn’t ask about that, so I won’t burden you with it. But that aspect of my understanding was itself derived in the same way as I’ve laid out for you here.
At any rate, my participation with this board of wonderful people has brought me even greater understanding of God and His nature than ever I’d had before. Even the atheists — and probably especially the atheists — have contributed mightily to my faith.
There are no atheists or theists, other than on an irrelevant intellectual level. Spiritually, there are only those who are disciples of Jesus because they love. And among those are atheists, theists, deists, whores, saints, and everything else. Love is all that matters. All else is derived from love.
As God told me directly, “I am the Love Everlasting. Whatever men say about me with their minds is vapor. I cannot be known by the mind, but only by the heart. Stop dividing the world between theists and atheists, and start dividing it rightly, as I do. There are those who love and those who don’t. Those who love, they are my disciples.”
I am confident that applies as well to Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Witches, Pagans, and whatever-else-have-you. I hope I’ve answered your questions satisfactorily.
I’m sorry to be spooky; I only intended for the subject to indicate an approximate audience. However, thank you very much for your reply. Thank you for your response, I couldn’t have asked for more. However, it did provoke a few more questions. If anyone else reads this, and wants to answer them without tearing into my tentative beliefs, please do.
First about John: I’m aware of the very good odds that the author of the book of John is not the apostle John. I’m sure you are much better educated about it than me. However, if he is not, and you disregard the Pauline teachings as irrelevant, I don’t see why you wouldn’t do the same with John. The book of John does vary significantly with the synoptic Gospels, and, if he was not even an eye-witness, but just a man who took it upon himself to write a very beautiful book based on Jesus’s teachings, I don’t understand why he would have any authority. Is not his book as much an interpretation as Corinthians, just one framed in the story of Jesus’s life?
Onto question two. I don’t really understand why you call yourself a Christian (this is not an attack). Obviously, Jesus was a very impressive man, but, if all you really care about is that God is Love, it seems pretty unnecessary for him to become flesh and redeem the world. There were miracles ascribed to myriad religious figures, not just Jesus. So the question is “Why Christ?”
Third, could you explain this: “I am the Love Everlasting. Whatever men say about me with their minds is vapor. I cannot be known by the mind, but only by the heart. Stop dividing the world between theists and atheists, and start dividing it rightly, as I do. There are those who love and those who don’t. Those who love, they are my disciples.”
Fourth, Polycarp? I remember rather vaguely from church history class, that he was a second century martyr, who shouted “Down with the atheists” in a collosseum. So what’s the significance (of Polycarp the poster naming himself thusly)? I know this isn’t really in line with the rest of the questions, but I didn’t think it deserved its own thread. Sorry.
Thank you again. Also, thank you for not pointing out that I misspelled “Libertarian.” I swear, I know the word. I just don’t proofread at four in the morning. Hope I haven’t wasted too much of your time.
I think Liberatian’s point about the Pauline teachings is that they tend to focus on material that isn’t directly revelant to the main point of Christ’s message. It is like focusing on the rules of the game while forgetting why you are playing it in the first place.
I would like to join this discussion, if you don’t mind. While I am certainly not a biblical scholar of the metal of Polycarp, or a number of others, I do profess to be a Christian. Like a number of us here on the SDMB, I find myself as often at odds with other Christians as with the atheists and assorted heathens.
One particular point I feel strongly about it the importance of literal or inerrent accuracy as a standard for the truth of the bible, and very particularly as to the words of Jesus Himself. It is easy to understand how this can become so overwhelming in importance to those who study the bible, and the epistemology of their doctrines. Intellect is a great power. Given the free expression of that power, and the immense influence that words have over people it could be critical to have precise, perfectly translated words as a guide. How else to insure that souls throughout ages, and across numberless cultures could be able to come to know the Lord by the power of this book?
But you see the book is not all that there is. If it were only an instruction manual to find heaven, alone, with no other guide, it must needs be perfect in every detail. But the real truth is that the book is not the Word. This book is a story of some people who sought to know God. It is the faithful testimony of joyous souls calling to us from the ancient past to tell us that God IS. We don’t have to have it all perfectly down in exact detail. We need only know that the Lord awaits our seeking. He lives. He does wait for us, and He will find us. All we have to do is go looking. The bible is just hints about where to look.
Do not assume that I reject the Bible, in whole, or by parts. But as the “Sabbath was made for man, not Man for the Sabbath,” so too was the Bible given to man, not man to the Bible. The best way to use the Bible is to open your heart to the love of the Lord, and just read it. With trembling joy, and tear filled terror, and the sure faith that in this way, you are speaking with Him, in your heart, through all the faults in you, in your translation and in the frailties of every scribe that passed His word down to you. That doesn’t come from archival technology. That comes from the hand of the Living God that made you.
“Language is not an abstract construction of the learned, or of dictionary makers, but is something arising out of the work, needs, ties, joys, affections, tastes, of long generations of humanity, and has its bases broad and low, close to the ground.” ~ Noah Webster ~
Thanks for your reply, telechus. However, I agree with you, so I think I might need to clarify my question. If I said “reject” I think I mean “reject the necessity of.” The Pauline books are, it seems to me, unimportant to Libertarian’s Christian belief. So, my question is “Why do you not take the same position towards John?” Is his book really any more reliable a source of Jesus’s teachings than Paul’s? Seeing as neither (I’m trusting Libertarian here) was present during Jesus’s ministry, can you really trust anything new that he says comes from Jesus? I don’t see the difference between the Beloved Disciple’s book and the Pauline letters, except that John filters his message more directly through Jesus.
And Triskadecamus, your claim that “so too was the Bible given to man, not man to the Bible.” Let me (acknowledging the irony) quote John 1:1… “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Your view of the Bible seems far too reductive, at least, in the face of opposition from the source you question. Right? I very probably misinterpreted your message, and I apologize if I did.
I do not think John was referring to the Bible when he said the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The Word is a metaphor, to me. The bible is just words, but the Word is God. Jesus was the messenger, and the message. He was, and is, and every voice reaches Him. God became a man. The man was God’s message of love to man. The man was God.
Jesus is human, to me. Because He is, I can love Him. Because He loves me, I can become what He has prepared me to become. It is not theology; it is personal, and individual. It is not exclusive, or unique.
It tends to make me cry some, too.
Although I have faith beyond doubt, I cannot tell you how to find Him. I cannot tell you what the Bible means. At times I understand what the Bible says. But that is just me, reading the book. Sometimes I become aware that God is with me, and then the book is clear, but I don’t pay attention to it much, because I don’t need it then, since He is there. But for thousands of years people have read the book, and found God. It works.
No, I don’t think the world is six thousand years old, Pi does not equal three, and the story of Genesis is not a geology textbook.
Theology makes my head hurt.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. The bad stuff happened later.
I appreciate your response tremendously, Tris, and I’m sorry if I came off a little rude in my response. I promise it was not intentional. I don’t really understand what you mean by this, however. To me, it seems vitally important to any practical use of the Bible that it be the inspired word of God. Otherwise, what is it besides a vague approximation of God?
About John, I suspect you’re right. I would like to appeal to one of the many Bible scholars here, if they wouldn’t mind, to clarify the passage. Or not. Whatever suits the frighteningly intelligent crowd that hang around here is fine by me.
Finally, thank you for your recounting of your belief. It’s very inspiring to hear from someone who feels God as deeply as you do. I sincerely wish, just once, that a book could make me cry. Hmph. I guess that’s it. Have a good morning.
Authority is given directly by God, and there is no authority but God. God is Love, as we have already shown. Wheresoever either Paul or John or Gibran or anyone else speak of love — and in doing so, speak of it in the manner that Jesus does — each is speaking with authority. Take whatever time is necessary to give this ample thought. Authority is not divined by merit, nor by station, nor by learning, nor by trial, nor by age, nor by wisdom, nor by any other means save one: God’s revelation through Grace.
No man is an authority, though a man might from time to time speak with authority, so long as God is speaking through him. No book is an authority, though a book might from time to time reveal authority, so long as God is speaking through the book. Whenever you look at a thing — anything — judge it as an authority by whether you hear from it Jesus Himself speaking about Love.
Thus, when Paul says there are three things, and that the greatest among them is Love, then Paul is speaking with authority. But when he says that a woman must cover her head in church, then he is not speaking with any authority but his own.
It makes no difference, with respect to authority, whether a person was cotemporaneous with Jesus. Anyone filled with the Holy Spirit is speaking Love, and is at that time an authority. You will find much authoritative scripture in books written by men centuries after the Nicene politicians had decided on what is “holy” and what is not. Kahlil Gibran’s Jesus the Son of Man is an excellent example.
I find myself in agreement with Billy Graham. You need nothing more than the Book of John to find salvation and Jesus’s message.
Because He is God.
When we say that God is Love, we do not mean that God is an emotion. Love (agape) is a praxis, not a state of mind. God’s love is unmerited charity, the giving of Life and Salvation to people who’ve done nothing to earn it.
Christ — not the Bible — is the Word of God ("…the Word became flesh and made his dwelling smong us."). We did not have a book walking around on the earth, but a man! The miracles, though wonderful, are picayune compared to the message.
Jesus is necessary because, without Jesus, God is not Love. Without Jesus, He kept His love to Himself. And Love cannot be kept hidden that way. It will die.
I’m afraid you’ll have to be more specific. It seems to me so plain, so clear, that I wouldn’t begin to know what needs explaining.
God go with you, my brother. And God bless you for your meekness and good manner. You are no bother at all. You are a delight.
Well, now. I think that the Gospels contain reasonably accurate reportage of Christ’s words, but in particular contexts. First off, nobody thought they were writing Scripture (any more than Tris., Lib., and I think we are in these posts). What they were doing is, by the proper literary conventions of their day, doing Plutarchian “lives” of Jesus, and, like Plutarch, painting particular portraits of Him. The idea of an “objective biography” is modern, and probably impossible, since even the best effort will include terminology with connotations that “flavor” the mix.
Modern Bible scholars believe that the Gospel of Matthew was compiled in Antioch after Mark was written, and using it as a frame story. Most of them believe that stuff taught by Matthew Levi about Jesus and a collection of Jesus’ teachings called “Q” were used by the compiler (let’s call him “Ukulele Matthew” after the board’s professional-editor Moderator). He strains to show in Jesus the fulfillment of O.T. prophecy, sometimes bending a cite out of all semblance of reason. Mark was, most likely, put together by John Mark based loosely on Peter’s reminiscences and teachings. In particular, the Marcan story of the Passion appears to have an earlier history than the Gospel, to have been used in Rome prior to becoming the climax of Mark’s story. And, as you may be aware, the last fourteen verses of the canonical Mark are not part of the original text (however true they may be, they’re demonstrably an add-on, since there are early copies with other endings or no ending).
John, according to scholars, was compiled in Ephesus about AD 100 based on the teachings of John the Beloved Disciple and the preaching of a shadowy figure called John the Elder (see his three epistles and Papias for background). It represents excellent koine Greek, not that of a Galilean fisherman.
I take a somewhat more conservative stance than typical scholars.
First, Papias states quite clearly that first Matthew Levi wrote down in Aramaic the logia of Jesus, though not in order. Logia is not the plural of logos – logoi, but rather a technical usage of the neuter for the word that means, effectively, oracles, teachings – “words” in the sense that “Churchill’s words inspired Britain during WWII” (Clearly how Churchill said “the” and “is,” and his archaic use of “pray” in requests, were not the catalysts of British resistance!) This does not describe the Gospel of Matthew, which is a narrative account of Jesus’s life, teachings, and death, quite similar to the other three.
Nothing is more obvious to anyone coming at this without the Bible on a pedestal, fenced off from critical study, than that, of two books, where 95% of B. is found in A. including about 40% precise identity in wording, and A. contains extensive additional material, it is likely that someone took A. and expanded it. But this is the case with Matthew and Mark.
My solution to this puzzle is that “Ukulele Matthew” took Mark and inserted five large chunks of Jesus’s teachings into it, deriving them from Matthew Levi’s collection of Jesus’ teachings, pulling in “proofs” of Jesus’ “fulfillment of prophecy” and making wording changes to suit his own piety and that of his readers (“Kingdom of Heaven” for “Kingdom of God>G-d,” for example). He also makes it clear, a bit arcanely to be sure, that his “teaching chunks” are not verbatim accounts, but the quite acceptable practice (in the First Century) of “writing a speech” for your chosen historical character by collecting things he’s known to have said and piecing them together into a sensible discourse.
John is known to have been quite young, in his late teens, when Jesus called him, and there is some evidence that Zebedee was a well-to-do man, with property in Jerusalem as well as Capernaum. It’s not impossible that he got an excellent education as a youth, and when moving to Ephesus with Mary after Jesus’ death (and the sequelae) continued his studies into Greek and Hellenistic Jewish scholarship. He clearly knew Philo’s Logos theology and applied it to Jesus.
The Gospel could quite easily have been his work. Certainly the wealth of scholarship on this board was gained by study over years, and many competent prose stylists here presumably wrote much more poorly as teenagers.
You’ll notice that I omitted Luke. This is because I consider it to be the most accurate account. Luke was not a contemporary of Jesus, but became a companion of Paul and is reputed to have visited Mary in Ephesus after Paul’s death, painting her portrait. He is said to have been from Antioch, and a physician trained in leading schools. One would assume that both professionally and from his schooling, he would be most capable of separating fact from fiction.
Now consider the dedication to Theophilus with which his gospel begins. Essentially he’s saying, “Dear Theo, there are a bunch of books around purporting to tell the story of Jesus. I’ve looked into the matter, and tried to use the best historiography we have to find out the truth. Here’s the story, as best I can pull it together and out from the legends.” And in point of fact he too uses much of Mark, with a lot of the “Q” material but rarely in the same places as Matthew. I think Luke researched out, from John, Mary, Mark’s book, Matthew’s book, and others, the best job anyone could ever do without a time machine of what exactly Jesus said and did when.
The account, of course, goes on to tell about his actual martyrdom, in the usual fulsome prose of Catholic martyr accounts.
I adopted him as my patron saint almost 20 years ago, in part because of the two passages above I highlighted and other things he said and did along the same lines that appealed to me. When I signed onto the AOL precursor PC-Link in 1989, I wanted a unique screen name and chose to use his. I’ve continued to do so until the present, and tried, to the feeble extent I can, to show Christ as he did.
I don’t think it is rejection as much as emphasis, Libertarian takes the idea/concept of agape and God as axiomatic. When a person speaks with that concept in mind, or shows it in deed, he is proclaiming the message of God. When he does not, he isn’t proclaining anything truly revelant.
Paul wrote letters. People keep missing that fact. He was not writing books of the Bible. He was a church leader that people asked for advice and theological explication, and he obliged.
Hey, I would strongly urge jarbabyj not to walk through BedStuy topless. That does not mean that I have anything against BedStuy, toplessness, or jarbabyj. It’s simply that I don’t see the results from her doing so as resulting in anything positive, and strong potential danger in her doing so.
And I was not offended by Guinastasia’s apparent blasphemy in her dying-kitten rant, quite the opposite. (Aside: My wife has a very low pain threshold and, for reasons we’re working through on a developmental psych. basis, always reacts to physical or emotional pain by lashing out, usually at people (like me) trying to comfort her or fix what’s wrong. I don’t hold that against her; I love her. And Guin was confronted by the classic Problem of Evil – why, if there is a good and omnipotent God, do pain and suffering exist.
I don’t relish a wiseacre 16-year-old throwing “Jesus felches goats” type remarks around to shock. Nor people using “Goddamn” as an all-purpose expletive. But Guin. was letting out her sorrow and hurt in the best way she knew. And the God I know loves her, and far from being offended, wants only to comfort her. (Though why that can’t be by healing the kitten, I have no clue. Unless the poor little thing’s dying is allowed by God in order to help Guin. cross some hurdle of spiritual learning and healing that she needs to get across – like how one can continue to believe in a God who lets things like dying kittens happen.)
So what I’m saying is that it’s the use made of Paul’s writings by Bibliolatric legalists that offends me, not his writings themselves.
I’d refer you to John, who never once speaks of a miracle. He uses dynameis – “acts of power” – and another word I don’t recall that means “signs.”
If Joe Atheist says, “I can’t believe in miracles,” he means by the term “supernatural interferences with the normal flow of nature.” Like water turning into wine, not by action of a grapevine, but by fiat of Jesus.
For most Christians, a miracle is something that happens that points the believer towards God. Natural or supernatural. And I suspect that distinction does not really exist.
For Christ to bring 5,000 strangers together and have them end up sharing the small amount of food some of them had secreted away is as much a miracle of community building as His laying hands on 5 loaves and 2 fish and turning them into a massive banquet. And the actual words of the Gospel leave you to take your pick of those explanations – the “miraculous multiplication” is a pious but superstitious conclusion from the actual words.
It doesn’t matter which He did. The message is that He did, and in doing so, exemplified the new life in idealized community towards which He was calling people, and the fact that God is the only source, ultimately, of what they eat and drink. (And a bunch of Eucharistic implications we won’t get into.)
You do have to take into account, by the way, that Lib. is in some ways at Platonic Idealist, and that for him, “God is Love” is not a pious platitude, but the absolute equation of two things more real than the Chicago Reader server, much less these electron patterns we have placed on it.
Probably a lot more to be said here, but I’ll close with that, and await further reflections from McStain, **Lib., and Tris..
You people seem to know me better than I know myself!
In fact, one is real and the other is not, except as a context. Everything that Materialists believe “exists” does so only as an instrument for God’s purpose, and has no ontological significance outside it.
You, sir or madam, display a keen insight and a sure understanding. You have summarized in a very neat way the whole of what I’ve said. I could take lessons in clarity and brevity from you.
Thanks for your response, Libertarian. I hope I’m not coming off as exceptionally dense here, but I’ve got a question for each of your responses. I’m sorry.
I’m not too up to date on my platonic forms, but you’re talking about love like you are very sure you know what it is. Exactly. And I thought that was sort of tricky to do with forms…so is it just a certainty, upon seeing “Love” that it is, unquestionably, Love? And so Jesus, being God, being Love, is always the perfect embodiment of Love? I mean, there are a lot of other sentiments. Justice for one. Does Jesus exclude these? If I’ve misinterpreted or twisted your arguments here, I’m sorry.
Question two still revolves about your identifying Jesus as God. I mean, Buddha attained enlightenment, right? However, I’m pretty sure that enlightenment is estranged from love, being a rejection of all desires. I’m sure some schools would view this as wrong. So, I somewhat understand why you would accept Jesus as savior, assuming you were sure God was Love. I don’t think I understand where you get this, though.
Which brings me to question 3: As God told me directly, “I am the Love Everlasting. Whatever men say about me with their minds is vapor. I cannot be known by the mind, but only by the heart. Stop dividing the world between theists and atheists, and start dividing it rightly, as I do. There are those who love and those who don’t. Those who love, they are my disciples.”
I took out the part of the question that I really wanted to understand, mostly out of fear that you were quoting something. So, the statement “As God told me directly,” could you give that a little context? I’m sorry if this is something I should be understanding. Or remembering.
Thank you again. Hopefully, soon, I can stop pestering you. I’m running out of ways to express my gratitude. But really, thank you.
I’d really like to thank you two as well. Especially Polycarp. Obviously, explaining the Gospels, and the letters of Paul, and St. Polycarp’s life, etc. take a significant amount of time, and I appreciate you would spend it on me.
I don’t really have any questions, though, for either of you. You’re too thorough and scholarly for me to ask anything of, Polycarp, and you, telechus, are too brief.
I just wanted to express my ever-growing gratitude.
OK. Enjoy your day everyone who’s read to the bottom.
Hear me! Love is alive!!! God’s love is a living thing! It is God Himself. Without love, God is dead, a worthless and vacuous demon that afflicts us with His presence. The love I speak of is not a symbol of anything. It is not a feeling. It is not a product of something else. It is the source of all good things. It is the foundation of a right morality. It is the essence of holiness.
There would be no justice but for love. No mercy, no forgiveness, no grace, nothing good whatsoever.
Put love first and all else will follow: justice, mercy, forgiveness, and goodness. God is not good simply because He holds the station of being God. God is good because He loves! And He loves perfectly!
I’m reminded of a story. I ran it past a Buddhist in one of those Ask-A threads here about a year ago to ascertain whether the story I’d heard was true. He confirmed that, though he could not be certain, it was quite likely true, considering context and evidence. Therefore, I will relay it to you.
A certain student of Buddhism sought the wisdom of his teacher. “Master?” he asked, “Do you believe that Jesus is God?”
“Yes!” the Master answered instantly.
“Why?” the student queried.
“Because he said that he is God.”
“But Master,” the young man protested, “surely anyone can make such a claim. If I say that I am God, will you believe that I am?”
“No,” the Master answered instantly.
“And why not?”
“Because you’re not.”
Whoever loves is God.
I once told our moderator, Gaudere, that she was in hell because of her atheism. She replied that she was nonetheless happy, and that hell must not be so bad after all.
I went outside to pray, and cried out to God in anguish, “How can Gaudere be happy, Lord? She’s an atheist! She doesn’t even believe in you!”
God responded, “I am the Love Everlasting. Whatever men say about me with their minds is vapor. I cannot be known by the mind, but only by the heart. Stop dividing the world between theists and atheists, and start dividing it rightly, as I do. There are those who love and those who don’t. Those who love, they are my disciples.”
As you become exposed to her, you will discern, as I have, that she has a beautiful and loving heart. God claims her as His own, despite whatever intellectual beliefs she might hold. They are irrelevant. It is only the heart that matters. The heart is where love (God) dwells.
I’m happy to answer your questions. Again, it is no bother.