Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Not a hit piece

Although clearly lacking some understanding, this article tells a lot of truth that, with such understanding, gives a stronger foundation in christian faith. A true christian is not a gullible fool. Faith, should not be and true faith is not, gullibility. Christians are told, not just to be reasonable, but to make it apparent to other reasonable people. The article makes errors in conclusions, but gets much of the historical facts correct. So what needs clarification or correction?

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof and the bible makes one very important extraordinary claim... it is the word of god.
2 Timothy 3:16,17...  All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, so that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.
I believe the bible does contain this extraordinary proof and the linked article includes support for an accurate understanding of that proof. It really is not a hit piece even if the author intended it to be such. A true christian should be unafraid of the historical facts, even embrace them, to be a true christian. Setting things straight requires people willing to be set straight so we need to start with that attitude.
They are God’s frauds, cafeteria Christians who pick and choose which Bible verses they heed with less care than they exercise in selecting side orders for lunch.
Frauds yes, God's no. Jesus foretold this in the parable of the wheat and the weeds and Jude confirms the apostasy had already started in the first century as the apostles that protected the congregations died out.
(Jude: ...certain men have slipped in among you...These men are murmurers, complainers about their lot in life, following their own desires, and their mouths make grandiose boasts, while they are flattering others for their own benefit... call to mind the sayings that have been previously spoken by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ...)
That apostasy is greater today and the linked article does much to explain how and why.
America is being besieged by Biblical illiteracy.
Absolutely true (and obvious given a moments thought.) This is in accord with prophesy that will cause politics to turn on these illiterates even as another sign occurs... truth found in the bible will be declared throughout the earth (even in their own languages in a large way.) Those teaching truth will also be turned on but this is described as poking god's eye to which he will react. Otherwise the kings of the earth are inadvertently doing god's will by devastating the weeds.
evangelicals [not just] accepted the attitudes and beliefs of the Pharisees—religious leaders depicted throughout the New Testament as opposing Christ and his message—more than they accepted the teachings of Jesus.
Again absolutely true and prophesied at Matthew 7:22  ...many people will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy in your name and expel demons in your name and do lots of miracles in...
the topic has become too important for Americans to ignore
As pointed out, government worldwide will not, as has been the case for over a century now and soon will reach a climax.
At best, we’ve all read a bad translation [of translations of translations of copies of copies.]
This misrepresents the truth by asserting at best, but does contains the truth that bible text was copied many times over centuries and english was not the original language (and certainly not king James english as some particularly ignorant seem to believe.) It leaves out history that blunts his point and doesn't consider that even with these facts, god's will to be understood will never be completely denied. The wheat has never been completely choked out by the weeds. The good news about god's literal kingdom will be declared earth wide and the end of those that take no note will occur without fail. This is not any man's work.
About 400 years passed between the writing of the first Christian manuscripts and their compilation into the New Testament.
Misleading. The bible has never included everything said or written by the apostles or the prophets or said by Jesus because that is not required for god's purpose. Accurate knowledge is possible but requires effort. The linked article actually contains some of that effort but simply falls short. The bible itself does not fall short because it interprets itself and has been kept safe by god himself even with thousands of years where god's enemies have tried to destroy it. Those trying to destroy inspired scripture over the centuries are one of the best ways to identify those enemies. The text had originals. Over the years copy errors did occur, but today we have a more accurate text than even a century ago because we have more text to compare and the errors show up and can be removed. Perhaps not all, but enough... just like an encoded message that may get a few words wrong. It may still be understood with important parts being with certainty.

With some of the personal letters Paul wrote, do you imagine they were the only one's? Not all of them were required for us today. All of the apostles and others were used to teach with accuracy even after the apostasy down to our day. By reason, I reject that god's will to teach us has been lost. Our feelings, the heart, can't be trusted. Our reason, our minds, can not be fully trusted. But true faith, supported by abundant, undeniable evidence (Hebrews 11) can be. It's why the linked article actually makes my faith stronger as I was mostly aware of the many true facts it contains. You just have to be aware of what's left out and some of the biased conclusions. My bias, after decades of research being unafraid to hear others arguments (but less inclined to hear them repeated after I've done my personal research) is let god be found true even if it makes everyone else a liar (including me... god wants the humble and teachable.) I actually prefer the arguments of atheists since they carry less baggage (but with regard to biblical truth often just as willing to ignore evidence that would lead to other conclusions.)

Yes, I also am guilty of that myself but over decades have learned that only god (not those that claim to represent him) can be trusted. He actively, to this day, causes his past statements to be true in ways even the superior intelligence of the angels marvel at.
some 1,500 years passed between the day the first biblical author put stick to clay and when the books that would become the New Testament were chosen.
I think it's closer to 1600 years in which 40 writers wrote. Even with all the different styles and languages of writing the single author is clear. For example, the theme of the bible throughout is god's kingdom starting in Genesis 3:15 - I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring.

How this relates to a kingdom is clear from many other bible books and identifies these offspring or seed. Jesus made this theme a prominent part of his teaching. The book of Revelation, although not the last book actually written in the canon, continues the theme also clearing up that judgement day is during this kingdom rule for a thousand years (with Jesus king and Peter only one of many judges.) God causes the earth to be inherited by the meek (teachable) fulfilling his Edenic intent (part of the reason god is incapable of lying and his intelligence is superior to ALL others.) Then kingdom rule is handed to his father, by Jesus.
they did not start copying the letters and testaments about Jesus’s time until centuries after they were written.
False. Every congregation copied the originals from the start, but on perishable materials. The dead sea scrolls made today's bible even more accurate with respect to the originals.

Then the linked article makes two more valid points and draws another wrong conclusion. Translation is often ambiguous and later copyists did add spurious text. How does he know the text was spurious? Because people cared enough to remove them and continue to remove language ambiguities where they can. Those that are unwilling to use a more accurate translation in the face of these undeniable facts are simply proving they are the weeds. The spurious text the author mentions, are not found in my bible but is in KJ.
religious convictions [often] determined translation choices
Absolutely true, but ignores that bias is not uniform so something unbiased is possible. Even more likely if that conviction is "let god be true, even if all others are liars." If all possibilities are considered, the most accurate translation can be found by letting the bible interpret itself from other verses. People that say, "only as far as it's translated" are simply looking for a way to diminish the bible and aren't interested in an accurate translation. They prefer their own thoughts to god's.
a fundamental tenet of Christianity—that Jesus is God—was reinforced in the Bible, even in places where it directly contradicts the rest of the verse.
First century christians, when the apostles were around to fight false teachings, believed what scripture clearly says, Jesus was the first of gods creations, his only directly created son. God's son then created everything else. First the other angels (including those that by wrong desires made themselves demons.) These angels witnessed god's master worker, the firstborn Jesus, create the physical universe. Trinity, taken from Pagan religion, came with Constantine; who was clearly not a christian (christians do not war. they are known by their international love for one another even in time of war.)
It seems nonsensical, but the belief that he refused to convey a clear message has led to the slaughter of many thousands of Christians by Christians.
A christian that intentionally kills a christian is not a christian. The clear message, that history records, is that first century christians did not believe trinity nonsense. There is only one almighty god and his firstborn son isn't he, no matter how closely Jesus does his father's will; who may have been alone with his father for longer than the other angels and this universe have existed, but not forever.

Constantine was a political power bearing absolutely no relation to christianity. The fact that he is identified as such only shows how vigorous the weeds are.
Things that are today accepted without much thought were adopted or reinforced at Nicaea.
Yep. By non-christians.
There are also deep, logical flaws here that should be apparent to anyone giving the Bible a close read.
Which the author already points out most don't do but should. What the author fails to realize is those flaws go away with a deeper read.
the Messiah will be a descendant of David
Joseph was the legal father of Jesus for the purpose of identifying the messiah. Joseph was not the biological father. You can certainly argue this to be a logical flaw or you can just accept the truth as presented. Incidentally, my father told me when I was twenty that since he didn't raise me, I was not his son except genetically. I had to agree with the jerk. No logical flaw there either. Different premises lead to different logical truths. There is no contradiction.
The stories in the four Gospels of Jesus’s death and resurrection differ as well.
Yes, which actually confirms truth. Different witnesses confirm truth when they are not identical. Identical witness usually means collaboration and usually indicates an intention to mislead. True witnesses are going to focus on different things. Different perspectives should be expected and does not mean someone is lying unless there is an absolute contradiction. Every so called contradiction I've ever come across in the bible has resolved itself with careful reading. Bad assumptions, like not mentioning some so we assume they weren't there is one example. Confusing different instances as one is another. Confusing timelines in two accounts is another. Taking an incomplete account and asserting nothing more is another. Going directly to "they lied" says more about reader bias than truth. Understanding often requires contemplation.
the Second Coming of Christ
Again requires more than a casual reading. Prophesy often had minor fulfillments and words matter. Roman sacking of Jerusalem in 70ce was such and had some amazing prophesy associated with it. The bible talks about parousia which means presence more than arrival and can refer to more than just physical presence. It is no surprise that the weeds misunderstand this. Or that soon can be in reference to more than one thing, especially in prophesy that has a minor aspect.
The editors of these modern Bibles just made it up.
Translators choose words to convey meaning. To assume intent is mind reading by the author. Perhaps true in some cases, it borders on slander.
sins aren’t ranked
A keen insight... for all fall short. But to suggest that homosexuality is not included among sins is more than just a stretch. At the same time Jesus ransom sacrifice applies to homosexuals as well as anybody. God is not partial. All that repent can be saved.

The author makes good points about prayer but doesn't seem to understand the 'our father' prayer is not meant to be repeated exactly (like some formula or incantation) for just before Jesus said... When praying, do not say the same things over and over again as the people of the nations do, for they imagine they will get a hearing for their use of many words.

Prayer is a personal conversation, but can be said in front of a small private group.

I'm getting tired, but one last point has to be made.
“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”
These. So why did he leave out the first and more important?
“Teacher, what do I need to do to inherit everlasting life?” He said to him: “What is written in the Law? How do you read?” In answer he said: “‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole strength and with your whole mind’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’” He said to him: “You answered correctly; keep doing this and you will get life."

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