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Do atheists get a hard time?

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Since Christians never read the Old Testament, they assume Jesus came up with it.

Actually, quite a few Christians have read it. Many of them find it a feature, not a bug, that Jesus teaches from the Hebrew Bible. It is difficult to imagine how any book could be read by one or two billion people, without some people misreading it. If such people are typical in your experience, then maybe that says something about your sampling method, and not so much about the population you're sampling from.

You might also recall that even in the New Testament, Jesus doesn't always "come up with" the formula. Luke 10: 25-28 has a "scholar of the Law" (that is, somebody who knows the Hebrew Bible) give it as his answer to Jesus' question, and Jesus approves of this answer.

As we know, that these verses could be taken as summations of Torah was a view with adherents at the time, quite apart from any Jesus movement. Jesus is depicted as aligning himself with them on this point, just as he is aligned with the pre-exisitng John the Baptist movement. The New Testament view is that Jesus is consistent with the best traditions that preceded him, not that everybody got it wrong until he showed up (perhaps you are confusing Christianity with Islam, I notice that many atheists do.)

Speaking of Jewish precedents for Jesus' teaching, the Matthew 10: 35-37, which you find so revealing of Jesus, is a paraphrase of Micah 7: 6. That chapter as a whole is an invictus poem. Jesus seemed to like those, and might sometimes quote part to convey the whole, although his doing that carries the danger that those who don't catch the reference will misunderstand. Compare Jesus' very abbreviated recital of Psalm 22 on the cross, often mistaken for a moment of doubt.

So, yes, all this is revealing. Turns out that Jesus was a well-read Jew. No doubt you can find, have found, Christians who are surprised by that, but it is a little odd to judge the cogency of a position held by billions by its least well-informed adherents. That policy does economize on the amount of effort required to engage them, however, so it's not completely unfathomable.

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I know a couple of Atheist friends,they seem pretty good. Which is saying much,since my beliefs are with God. But I have no religion.

As far as I'm concerned, atheists/religious people are kind of the same, as we have our.. well, our extremists.

Atheist: Try to convert you to science; insult others' beliefs. (I've seen this happen once or twice. And on the threads here.)

Religious: Try to convert you to God by fear/anger; insult others' beliefs. (I know we've ALL seen this).

I simply follow my own morals,and the Golden Rule: Be nice to others, and yadda yadda. If religious people didn't follow the Bible closely, since it's BADLY mistranslated, and some of those extreme atheists calmed down a bit, then yes. Like Arbenol68 said, we would all reach a mutual understanding. Again, fighting each other and preaching over the Internet woudn't really solve much. I'm just simplyanswering the question stated as best I could. This actually seems like a good topic.

Or, am I preaching already? Can't tell anymore. XD

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Actually, quite a few Christians have read it.

The ones I've known haven't read the whole thing or have long forgotten it. They know the Creation, Noah's Ark, you know, the stories that have been turned into big movies.

One even told me that the Old Testament proved to him that Jews are savages and Jesus was sent to turn them into enlightened and civilized people. I had never heard that one before! Is that a source of Antisemitism among Christians? Of course he didn't know of my ancestry but I can completely understand his viewpoint. The Old Testament depicts much less civilized behavior than the New Testament.

Many of them find it a feature, not a bug, that Jesus teaches from the Hebrew Bible.

Yes they do, because many of them feel that Jesus's interpretation (and in several cases misquotation) of the Hebrew Bible frees them from having to read the thing themselves.

It is difficult to imagine how any book could be read by one or two billion people, without some people misreading it. If such people are typical in your experience, then maybe that says something about your sampling method, and not so much about the population you're sampling from.

When I lived in the Midwest, I knew dozens of Christian Americans who went to their churches every Sunday. That was my sample.

You might also recall that even in the New Testament, Jesus doesn't always "come up with" the formula. Luke 10: 25-28 has a "scholar of the Law" (that is, somebody who knows the Hebrew Bible) give it as his answer to Jesus' question, and Jesus approves of this answer.

But where is it written in the Hebrew Bible about what you have to do gain "eternal life"? The "scholar of the law" (or lawyer depending on which version you read) said a few laws about loving God and thy neighbor but I don't recall anything about these laws promising eternal life in the Hebrew Bible. Jesus just stuck that part on, manipulating the original teachings to support his salvation campaign.

Also there is a truckload of other laws that Jesus should have told this guy but Jesus also couldn't name all ten of the Commandments either.

As we know, that these verses could be taken as summations of Torah was a view with adherents at the time, quite apart from any Jesus movement. Jesus is depicted as aligning himself with them on this point, just as he is aligned with the pre-exisitng John the Baptist movement.

Yes, there were several divergent movements in the Jewish communities at that time (well, almost all the time). But ultimately the New Testament conflicts with the Old Testament in far too many ways so I'd never say it was a "summation" of the Torah. If it were, Christians could just throw the Old Testament out since it serves no purpose to them.

The New Testament view is that Jesus is consistent with the best traditions that preceded him, not that everybody got it wrong until he showed up (perhaps you are confusing Christianity with Islam, I notice that many atheists do.)

There are just far too many differences between Jewish and Christian laws. If by "best" traditions you mean "most popular" traditions then I'd agree with that. The biggest problem is there's no concept of mass salvation or afterlife or destruction of the Earth in the Old Testament. That is an entirely new concept introduced in the New Testament and invalidates much of what the Old Testament teaches.

Speaking of Jewish precedents for Jesus' teaching, the Matthew 10: 35-37, which you find so revealing of Jesus, is a paraphrase of Micah 7: 6. That chapter as a whole is an invictus poem. Jesus seemed to like those, and might sometimes quote part to convey the whole, although his doing that carries the danger that those who don't catch the reference will misunderstand.

In my opinion, this is another case of Jesus taking a marvelous and illustrative verse from the scriptures and misusing it to support his own campaign. Why was the Son of God was so lacking in insight that he had to adapt words from scriptures to make his point?

So, yes, all this is revealing. Turns out that Jesus was a well-read Jew. No doubt you can find, have found, Christians who are surprised by that, but it is a little odd to judge the cogency of a position held by billions by its least well-informed adherents.

Here's what I think: Christianity wants its adherents to be poorly informed. If these people actually studied the entire Bible and understood what was in it, I believe there would be about a billion fewer Christians in the world. The religion as it stands today has fragmented into about 1,600 sects which have all declared themselves separate from all other Christian sects. How can that be if the word of Jesus is so clear? Well, it isn't and each sect has cherrypicked the teachings that they like and rejected or ignored the rest.

In the Hebrew school I went to, we confronted every line of the Torah head on and it wasn't easy or fun. We found that God was a savage being and often killed people just to make a point, in one case nearly exterminating all life on the planet. We found that the Israelites were commanded by God to commit genocide against their neighbors and sacrifice animals in horrific ways. The Rabbis didn't pussyfoot around this stuff and left it up to us to try to make sense of it all. This is not how Christianity is taught.

Why is Judaism not as popular as other religions? I say it's because they're confronted with an unpleasant history following a cruel god and there's no easy way to apply this to modern times other than thinking God is a lot nicer these days. Many Jews have been able to deal with this problem in other ways but they don't (all) ignore what's in the Torah.

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The Old Testament depicts much less civilized behavior than the New Testament.

It would be depressing if the earlier times were more civilized than later times, millennia later.

But where is it written in the Hebrew Bible about what you have to do gain "eternal life"?

I don't know that it is written. In Luke 10: 25ff, it is the teacher of the Law who asks about it. We know the Pharisees believed that at the end of days the righteous were supposed to rise again, although other Jews did not. The Pharisaic view became the Christian view through the Pharisee Paul. So, it would be an interpretation, rather than a black-letter instruction, IMO.

Although Jesus often tilted with Pharisees (and scribes, which is another possibility for that "teacher of the Law"), his biggest fan turned out to be a Pharisee, and Jesus and the Pharisees had a common rival in the Sadducees. I don't think, then, that there is anything there that "Jesus just stuck in," but rather that he gave his reading, and placed it within the constellation of competing readings of his day... which is more or less the job description of a rabbi.

That would also cover some of your later objections about the lack of mass salvation, etc.

But ultimately the New Testament conflicts with the Old Testament in far too many ways so I'd never say it was a "summation" of the Torah.

Me neither. It was the "Golden Rule" idea that was offered as a summary, not the New Testament. Good enough for Hillel the Elder, good enough for me, and I won't weigh in on a dispute among Jews about Judaism.

There are just far too many differences between Jewish and Christian laws.

Christians aren't Jews.

Why was the Son of God was so lacking in insight that he had to adapt words from scriptures to make his point?

As I understand the Christian position, the Son of God might have had a certain fondness for words which he would have inspired in the first place. As for my own position, I can't muster surprise that a Jewish preacher would use words from the Jewish scriptures to make his points. That another Jew might disagree with him is fine with me, too.

As to your summation, I am not Jewish, so I have never studied the Hebrew Bible as "my" scripture. I commend reading without flinching. My main point, though, was that there are Christians who read the same text you did, also without flinching, confident that the omelet of their salvation fully justifies dozens of broken Bronze Age eggs. Many of them find a nicer way of putting it than that. For example,

other than thinking God is a lot nicer these days.

Why wouldn't he be? God got what he wanted, in the Christian view, namely Jesus' career. All that you find cruel in his behavior before that, they find instrumental, expedient to bring it about.

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It would be depressing if the earlier times were more civilized than later times, millennia later.

Why? We're talking about what happened 2,000 years ago. There was still plenty of uncivilized behavior around even a thousand years after that.

The problem is that the Old Testament demands behavior that to us is horrifying. For example, if you described a ritual where an animal is sacrificed and the animal's blood is sprayed on the participants, the average Christian would think you were talking about some kind of evil Satanic ritual. Nope! That was an animal sacrifice as requested by God Himself! It's very difficult to read this with modern eyes and not cringe. So people don't read it.

I don't know that it is written. In Luke 10: 25ff, it is the teacher of the Law who asks about it. We know the Pharisees believed that at the end of days the righteous were supposed to rise again, although other Jews did not. The Pharisaic view became the Christian view through the Pharisee Paul. So, it would be an interpretation, rather than a black-letter instruction, IMO.

That's my point. There is nothing in the Old Testament that promises afterlife. Salvation was a brand new concept that was being shoehorned into Judaism at that time (didn't John the Baptist precede Jesus in promoting it?). Since this is the main point of Christianity, the Old Testament isn't relevant to Christians. Why read it?

Although Jesus often tilted with Pharisees (and scribes, which is another possibility for that "teacher of the Law"), his biggest fan turned out to be a Pharisee, and Jesus and the Pharisees had a common rival in the Sadducees. I don't think, then, that there is anything there that "Jesus just stuck in," but rather that he gave his reading, and placed it within the constellation of competing readings of his day...

Good point. I believe that, however Jesus also claimed to be the Son of God and the Messiah. This was the best he could do? Add his reading to a multitude of competing readings?

which is more or less the job description of a rabbi.

Maybe at the time, not so much these days.

Christians aren't Jews.

Exactly. That's why Christians don't read the Old Testament.

As I understand the Christian position, the Son of God might have had a certain fondness for words which he would have inspired in the first place.

That does make sense, however Jesus usually cited what he was quoting (that's how we've found he was often misquoting or adding words) and other times like in this case he just inexplicitly copied the structure of something in the Old Testament as if they were his own words. 2,000 years later, this has led to Christians believing that Jesus alone came up with these snippets of wisdom. "Love thy neighbor" is a perfect example of Christians quoting Jesus's wisdom when he was simply repeating a Mosaic law. Jesus could have said "As God told Moses in Leviticus". But then Jesus couldn't even quote all ten Commandments.

Why wouldn't he be? God got what he wanted, in the Christian view, namely Jesus' career. All that you find cruel in his behavior before that, they find instrumental, expedient to bring it about.

In the Old Testament, God wanted a whole lot of things from His Chosen People. In return, God promised a lot of things. God apparently made a huge change in plans with Jesus. It means that God had given up on the Israelites and for some reason decided not to massacre people any more. This throws everything in the Old Testament that we knew about God up in the air. It might as well be a different God -- not a popular view!

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Why? We're talking about what happened 2,000 years ago.

Compared with 200-2000 years or more before that. That's an interval over which lack of progress would be depressing to me.

You keep saying people who have Christian faith don't read this stuff. I'm telling they do, and some can tell you the finer points of how a Hebrew sacrifice compares and contrasts with a style of sacrifice that you can see today in India. But yes, of course, removed from its context, and placed in, say, Westchester County, either one would be shocking. "Satanic cult or wannabe" might even be a reasonable guess under some displaced circumstances.

Salvation was a brand new concept that was being shoehorned into Judaism at that time

Pharisees were around before the New Testament. And, um,

(didn't John the Baptist precede Jesus in promoting it?).

Wasn't that my point? That Jesus had Jewish antecedents, which his audience understood him as teaching from or in alignment with? And, at the risk of sounding like Bill Clinton, it depends on what it is. What the Baptizer and his pupil promoted is not necessarily what Paul the Pharisee promoted, which is not necessarily what modern Christians think of those things as being - assuming they agree among themselves on that, which they don't.

Jesus also claimed to be the Son of God and the Messiah.

Messiah, yes, I think he believed he was. "Son of God" is very slippery. Nicene Christians believe that he is literally God's son, but this seems still to have been in play in the Second Century, never mind in Jesus' own thinking.

Personally, I am fond of a take on the problem which is attributed to Joseph Campbell (supposedly in a face-to-face exchange with an ex-nun), that if Jesus said he was the Son of God, then he meant that we are all potentially Sons and Daughters of God, in whatever sense Jesus meant by the phrase. The Nicene Creed uses the word only, Jesus is "the only Son of God." Where that only comes from, I don't know. Not from Jesus, I don't think

This was the best he could do? Add his reading to a multitude of competing readings?

What do you have in mind that he should have done instead? Keep his reading to himself? Burn the writings or the teachers of different views? What could he have done, really, except present his case, and let people take it or leave it?

Jesus usually cited what he was quoting

Huh? That's why I use Bibles with footnotes, most of the time you have to dig it out otherwise. (Even with footnotes, I still had to dig out that Micah one myself. The editor should be ashamed.)

But if all you want me to agree with is that some Christians underestimate the Jewish antecdents of Jesus' teaching, then that's fine. Some Celtics fans think it was Red Auerbach's idea to make the ball round. Same thing.

But the high-scholarhip Christian churches (that's maybe 75% of Christians by membership worldwide) teach the antecedents. Whether everybody learns what is taught is another matter. However, many Christians read Bibles with footnotes.

BTW, I never did quite catch the basis of Jesus being unable to recite the Ten Commandments. Do you have a cite for that?

Anyway, the Christian view is that the Old Testament, from Genesis 3 forward, is all about God preparing the world for Jesus' doing his thing, using the Hebrew people. John reclaims those loose three chapters and puts Jesus at Genesis 1: 1. Perhaps if the Jewish church had survived, then there would be a different view, but only the Gentile church did survive.

So, he's the same God, they think, but maybe with different problems now that the central event of human history has been accomplished, therefore using different methods which reveal a different side of his character, until judgment day rolls around. That, apparently, will be just like the good old days.

Edited by eight bits

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You keep saying people who have Christian faith don't read this stuff. I'm telling they do, and some can tell you the finer points of how a Hebrew sacrifice compares and contrasts with a style of sacrifice that you can see today in India.

You obviously hang out with academic Bible scholars. I would invite you to hang out with regular American Christians. When I lived in the Midwest I hung out with dozens of average church-going Christians who came home after church and watched football games on their Tivo. The only one I met who knew anything about the Old Testament was the one that told me it proved Jews are uncivilized.

Messiah, yes, I think he believed he was. "Son of God" is very slippery. Nicene Christians believe that he is literally God's son, but this seems still to have been in play in the Second Century, never mind in Jesus' own thinking.

Where in the New Testament does it not make it perfectly clear that God impregnated Mary?

What do you have in mind that he should have done instead? Keep his reading to himself? Burn the writings or the teachers of different views? What could he have done, really, except present his case, and let people take it or leave it?

I would think that a prophet or messiah or whatever Jesus claimed to be who was in communication with God could have been done better than rework phrases from early scriptures. The prophets in the Old Testament came up with wonderful verses. Why couldn't Jesus do this? Why did Jesus need to steal the phrasing from Micah almost verbatim?

Huh? That's why I use Bibles with footnotes, most of the time you have to dig it out otherwise. (Even with footnotes, I still had to dig out that Micah one myself. The editor should be ashamed.)

Bibles with footnotes is a recent invention. Do Bibles point out the Jesus misquoted Deuteronomy 6:13 for example?

But the high-scholarhip Christian churches (that's maybe 75% of Christians by membership worldwide) teach the antecedents. Whether everybody learns what is taught is another matter. However, many Christians read Bibles with footnotes.

Wow, where are these Christian scholars? I had no idea that 75% of all Christians are Biblical scholars! I couldn't find a single one of them. Where do they hide? Where did you get this number anyway?

BTW, I never did quite catch the basis of Jesus being unable to recite the Ten Commandments. Do you have a cite for that?

This confusing bit starts in Matthew 19:16 when a guy asks Jesus what he had to do to get this eternal life Jesus is selling. Jesus responds to follow the Commandments. Then this guy really pushes his luck by asking Jesus which Commandments he needs to follow. Maybe he didn't own a Bible and wanted to write them down. Unfortunately Jesus was only able to name six of them and one of them ("love thy neighbor") has never been a Commandment. Jesus did not come across as a learned man in this scene.

Anyway, the Christian view is that the Old Testament, from Genesis 3 forward, is all about God preparing the world for Jesus' doing his thing, using the Hebrew people.

That seems like an incredible stretch to me. The Old Testament predicts a Messiah but not Jesus or anything like him. In fact the idea that a human can forgive sins is just plain incompatible with Jewish beliefs -- God alone can forgive sin. Jesus completely breaks the rules of the Old Testament.

John reclaims those loose three chapters and puts Jesus at Genesis 1: 1. Perhaps if the Jewish church had survived, then there would be a different view, but only the Gentile church did survive.

Are you saying that Jews have no church therefore they have no view?

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Where in the New Testament does it not make it perfectly clear that God impregnated Mary?

The issue is only mentioned twice in the Gospels, in Matthew and Luke. Matthew says in omniscient-narrator mode that Joseph didn't have sex with Mary until Jesus was born. Apart from that keeping the Islamic view open (that Jesus simply had no father at all), I was discussing the meaning of the phrase "Son of God" as being in play during the Second Century. Matthew wasn't canonical in the Second Century, since there was no canon then.

Luke's account doesn't corroborate Matthew's. All Mary says about virginity is that she hasn't had sex as of the time of the conversation. Gabriel could just as easily be telling Mary that God wouldn't mind, just this once, if an engaged couple behaved like a married one. Or, he could be telling her to get married and cut short the engagement. Or, God will provide. It's all very vague.

Luke had a source that said Jesus was born before Mary had had sex, and he didn't use it. That may be because Luke knew what an almah is, or maybe just understood that Isaiah wasn't talking about any birth in his remote future, and so Luke realized that Matthew was simply wrong on its motivation of why a virgin birth.

I didn't scour the Epistles for speculations on Mary's sex life, but I'm pretty sure there's nothing at all about it in authentic Paul. I will happily accept correction if I'm wrong about that. I see no reason, then, why a passably regular Second Century Christian led by someone in apostolic succession mighn't have believed that Jesus was a Son of God in some non-literal sense. We know there were "adoptionists," for example.

Why couldn't Jesus do this? Why did Jesus need to steal the phrasing from Micah almost verbatim?

Maybe it's just that I hang out too much with those scholarly types you mentioned, but I simply don't share your displeasure with one authority quoting other authorities. Nor, if someone is going to quote, would I fault them for quoting accurately. Part of Jesus' mission statement was that he came to fulfill the Law. I don't see what that could mean if not that Jesus believed he could square his ideas with exisitng scripture. I don't see how he could back that up without quoting some.

Anyway, if you want to pursue that angle, you probably need to do it with a Christian apologist, which I'm not. I'm happy to talk about what Jesus did, according to whatever writing we might be discussing, but as to whether or not what he did was a good idea, it's all the same to me.

Bibles with footnotes is a recent invention. Do Bibles point out the Jesus misquoted Deuteronomy 6:13 for example?

Mine usually just give the reader the reference. Then you can compare.

Wow, where are these Christian scholars? I had no idea that 75% of all Christians are Biblical scholars!

That isn't what I wrote.

Where did you get this number anyway?

Nicene Christians who either aren't Protestants, or if they are, then they are Anglicans or others who share with the Anglicans an officially recognized role for Reason and Tradition (mostly non-canonical early literature) alongside Scripture. Roman Catholics alone are about 50% of Nicene Christians worldwide. Protestants minus Anglicans and minus arguably similar churches is roughly equal to Anglicans plus arguably similar Protestants plus the various Eastern churches. So, round numbers, about 75%.

Thank you for Matthew 19: 16 ff. If I were the pious sort, then I'd wonder whether the man interrupted Jesus at 19: 20. Jesus is patronizing him, after all, even if the man provoked it by the "which ones?" comment. I certainly wouldn't put much weight on this pericope as being Matthew's record of some tradition that Jesus didn't know all the Commandments. The text simply doesn't say that.

That seems like an incredible stretch to me. The Old Testament predicts a Messiah but not Jesus or anything like him. In fact the idea that a human can forgive sins is just plain incompatible with Jewish beliefs -- God alone can forgive sin. Jesus completely breaks the rules of the Old Testament.

Well, this is something else you need to take up with a Christian apologist. Only God can forgive sins? Jesus is God. Next problem? Jesus didn't do the Messianic feats? He will when he returns. Next? ... and so on.

Are you saying that Jews have no church therefore they have no view?

I meant the Jewish Christians; they pretty much drop out of the picture around 70 or so, maybe with some elements surviving into the Second Century. They had a view when they existed, I think, but once they were gone...

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I think I also should step away. I've found that anyone who says their religion is a bunch of private ESP experiences with supernatural beings is not someone who responds to logic.

On the contrary I have found most ( not all) that have strong beliefs to the contrary don't follow logic at all. Fore example the "pipe" comment is completely a logical fallacy. Yet this person still thinks he is logical. Can't have it both ways.

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A church here in Portland put up a sign that caused tremendous controversy here. It's very wicked so Christians may wish to avert their eyes!

post-108987-0-12761100-1352310994_thumb.

The flak this pastor got was pretty bad. Some claimed it was another sign of the End of Days and many thought it was a literal endorsement of (yikes!) benevolent atheism. He had to defend the sign (scroll to the bottom) citing the parable of the Good Samaritan as proof that God likes kindness over hate. I don't get this. The Good Samaritan parable as I read it was just an example of kindness that Christians should follow, not a statement of like for all people who are kind. Also Samaritans were Jews that Judeans hated, not atheists.

Also (again as I read it), Jesus strongly endorsed hateful Christians in Luke 14:26:

"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple."

Some revisions have softened this stance to a large degree. Some have changed hate to "love less" and others have changed it to "abandon" or "willing to abandon". Others disregard these revisions showing that the original Greek certainly used the word "hate".

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A church here in Portland put up a sign that caused tremendous controversy here. It's very wicked so Christians may wish to avert their eyes!

post-108987-0-12761100-1352310994_thumb.

The flak this pastor got was pretty bad. Some claimed it was another sign of the End of Days and many thought it was a literal endorsement of (yikes!) benevolent atheism. He had to defend the sign (scroll to the bottom) citing the parable of the Good Samaritan as proof that God likes kindness over hate. I don't get this. The Good Samaritan parable as I read it was just an example of kindness that Christians should follow, not a statement of like for all people who are kind. Also Samaritans were Jews that Judeans hated, not atheists.

Also (again as I read it), Jesus strongly endorsed hateful Christians in Luke 14:26:

"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple."

Some revisions have softened this stance to a large degree. Some have changed hate to "love less" and others have changed it to "abandon" or "willing to abandon". Others disregard these revisions showing that the original Greek certainly used the word "hate".

Combine Luke 14:26 with Matthew 10:35

For I have come to turn "'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law--

So much for "gods" commandment of thou shall honor thy mother and father.

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A church here in Portland put up a sign that caused tremendous controversy here. It's very wicked so Christians may wish to avert their eyes!

post-108987-0-12761100-1352310994_thumb.

You know something? I would bet that those words are bang on...

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scowl

A church here in Portland put up a sign that caused tremendous controversy here. It's very wicked so Christians may wish to avert their eyes!

I understand your having some fun with it, but I'm not sure that you appreciate how many people have been killed, some hideously, over the disagreement among Christians exemplified by that sign. In looking over the minister's statement (thank you for posting that), I think he must have known what he was doing.

He is not the first "liberal" Protestant to test these waters. Billy Graham and Robert Schuller (not often described as "liberal," although Billy Graham's meetings in the South were unsegregated by race when others' still had a section for the "colored") set off a fundie-firestorm with this,

>

I picked this version because it has the fundamentalist commentary first, in case you think I am making that up.

So what's "wrong" with what Billy Graham said? He's a Protestant, but it is the Roman Catholic view of salvation. That is, Jesus' sacrifice-resurrection was salvifically efficacious in itself, and that independent of someone's beliefs about that, God grants a conscience to all. Whoever follows their conscience (performs works according to Graham's "only light they have") is saved.

Non-Christians are often surprised that that's the Catholic view. Protestants, however, know it when they see it, and they saw it on that Methodist (that is, Protestant) billboard. They felt betrayed. Non-Christians look at the same thing and many think "Well, that's just common sense. Why don't they ever put anything except pious pablum on church billboards?"

Also (again as I read it), Jesus strongly endorsed hateful Christians in Luke 14:26:

As Yogi Berra once said, "It's deja vu all over again." Haven't you and I done this pericope already?

Jesus never met a Christian during his entire ministry. What is being discussed is discipleship by Jews then and there, not membership in some later Gentile church. Yes, like soldiers, disciples might be called upon to make family and even self-preservation secondary to their vocation. Indeed, the rest of the speech alludes to secular commitments, including military ones.

And then there is the saying itself. I disagree that there is any "softening" in interpreting the figure of speech as meaning comparative valuation, and referring principally to behavior, not affect (contrary to the literal interpretation). Staying in Luke, verses 9: 59 ff have the application: discipleship trumps the religious obligation to bury the dead and the familial obligation to say farewell to the living. Compare also 5: 11, where some disciples made the cut.

Personally, I admire Navy SEALS. I imagine it'd be tough for them to have much of an ordinary family life, though. I'll bet some SEAL has heard a complaint from a disappointed family member which included the word "hate." On the other hand, there are plenty of folks who aren't SEALS, who don't behave like SEALS, and who are no less patriots for that. Admiration for the one does not entail contempt for the other.

Edited by eight bits

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Apparently Peter at least, in nature and physique, would have made a first rate navy seal.

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I understand you're having some fun with it, but I'm not sure that you appreciate how many people have been killed, some hideously, over the disagreement among Christians exemplified by that sign.

Christians know that killing is wrong.

In looking over the minister's statement (thank you for posting that), I think he must have known what he was doing.

So what did he know he was doing? All he did was p*** a bunch of people off by claiming to speak for God.

Jesus never met a Christian during his entire ministry. What is being discussed is discipleship by Jews then and there, not membership in some later Gentile church.

So it was OK for Jesus to encourage unconditional hate in his disciples, but it's not OK for the rest of us to hate unconditionally?

This religion gets more confusing every day. No wonder there are 1,600 sects.

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Christians know that killing is wrong.

I think it depends on what the killing is about, and, of course, which Christian. Often enough, "Jesus approves" is a mere pretext for a conflict, which is really about land, gold or sex partners. In this case, though, the matter defines the fundamental divide between typical Protestants and the older churches of which they protest. If what that sign says is true, then about half a billion people are barking up the wrong tree. Their predecessors killed and were killed for just this.

So, quite the pair of stones on that Methodist minister for putting it out there.

So what did he know he was doing? All he did was p*** a bunch of people off by claiming to speak for God.

No, "speaking for God" is his job. The objection here is to what the minister said, not that he said something on his own authority about God's preferences.

For example, "God dislikes hateful Christians more than he dislikes kind atheists" might have passed. Works are duly disparaged. and those who should know better harboring hatred despite their supposed acceptance of Jesus' gift is worse than the ignorant being faithless. What he actually said, however, was that God approves, to any extent at all, of faithless good works

Tyipcal Protestants believe that that contradicts what God has already said. The minister is not speaking for God, but rather against God, in this view. That's not my view, but we are trying to understand people who protsted the sign, not people like me who didn't.

So it was OK for Jesus to encourage unconditional hate in his disciples, but it's not OK for the rest of us to hate unconditionally?

It is your choice to read the figure of speech however you like. Jesus is not on the hook, however, for how you choose to misread him. It is perfectly clear what Jesus expected of his disciples, and that expectation simply was not unconditional hatred of anyone.

As an agnostic, I have no commitment to Jesus being correct to take the position he did. As a reader and discussant, however, I have a commitment to describing Jesus' position as it really was, and not confecting some caricature of it. That confection has a name, which is "straw man."

This religion gets more confusing every day. No wonder there are 1,600 sects.

No wonder indeed. It is unremarkable that there would be thousands of views of any widely known historical world figure. Abraham Lincoln hasn't even been gone 200 years, much less 2000, and is a continental-scale figure, not a global one. Look at all the interpretations of his words and deeds that are out there.

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