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Bogoliubtsy
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« on: November 19, 2008, 12:36:39 AM »

A few thoughts and questions.

Christianity is very much a historical religion. Belief in Christ as the one true God, in our day in age, presupposes the acceptance of  historical events- the birth of Christ, the death, and resurrection being the most fundamental. Our belief in those events and personages, and our faith that they actually occurred and have a cosmic significance, is based on a historical happening. It is partly through belief in this historical event and all it implies that we move toward our salvation. This idea is contrasted, say, by Buddhism - a path which requires no belief in historical events, but is founded on an experiential principle. The Buddha said that even he should be doubted and that experiencing his suggested methods would lead others to his conclusion. The difference here is clear- Christianity requires the mental acceptance of a historical event and faith that those events happened. Quite simply, you must believe that these events in time occurred the way they are described in texts written almost 2,000 years ago, and/or rely on the oral tradition that has passed them down. Buddhism (again, for example) on the other hand is not a historical religion- it doesn't matter one iota if you believe the Buddha even lived.

It is often difficult for me to understand how God would require this mental acceptance of a historical phenomenon. How can the mental acceptance of an event in time and space 2000 years ago be a determining factor in our salvation? Why is it that God would require for salvation historical knowledge of this event, a mental acceptance of it, and then faith in its occurrence. Why too is it necessary to believe in the the God/man and to accept his claims? Shouldn't God's will be a little less tricky and contingent upon time/place and records?

Also, Christ has trampled down death by death- he has restored the possibility of entering the Kingdom of God by becoming man. Again, has anything changed in the world since this event?  Or is it again a mental affirmation that is required- that God's kingdom was closed by now open- that is the answer?

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« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2008, 12:45:55 AM »

Quote
It is often difficult for me to understand how God would require this mental acceptance of a historical phenomenon. How can the mental acceptance of an event in time and space 2000 years ago be a determining factor in our salvation? Why is it that God would require for salvation historical knowledge of this event, a mental acceptance of it, and then faith in its occurrence. Why too is it necessary to believe in the the God/man and to accept his claims? Shouldn't God's will be a little less tricky and contingent upon time/place and records?

Good questions, and similar ones came to my mind back when I was an atheist/agnostic. There is always an escape clause and exceptions to the rule (Rom. 2:14-15), but generally speaking I agree with what you're saying. I must admit that even after having thought about it for a while, I still don't know the answer to the question(s) though...
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« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2008, 02:25:39 AM »

And another one- if God is everywhere present and fills all things, why is it necessary for God to be a man? He is already among us, no? Unless, of course, God was only present in the world after the resurrection. This is a tough one to swallow - a world devoid of God from the fall to the resurrection.
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« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2008, 02:27:54 AM »

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It is often difficult for me to understand how God would require this mental acceptance of a historical phenomenon. How can the mental acceptance of an event in time and space 2000 years ago be a determining factor in our salvation? Why is it that God would require for salvation historical knowledge of this event, a mental acceptance of it, and then faith in its occurrence. Why too is it necessary to believe in the the God/man and to accept his claims? Shouldn't God's will be a little less tricky and contingent upon time/place and records?

Good questions, and similar ones came to my mind back when I was an atheist/agnostic. There is always an escape clause and exceptions to the rule (Rom. 2:14-15), but generally speaking I agree with what you're saying. I must admit that even after having thought about it for a while, I still don't know the answer to the question(s) though...

Also, thank you for your honest reply.  Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2008, 02:32:02 AM »

The one answer to all the questions posed by the OP:

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. (John 20:29)
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« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2008, 02:37:29 AM »

The one answer to all the questions posed by the OP:

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. (John 20:29)

I know there is certainly truth in that. I know the skeptic's mind is not the child's mind we are called have. Still, the idea of believing what we cannot see could be applied to any number of awful things. I'm not saying that this is the case in the New Testament, just that on its own that kind of logic lacks persuasion.  I mean, if I offered you a job and told you it provided a "good salary", you'd probably want to see a real number rather than my assurance that you should believe me that it's a good salary.
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« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2008, 02:42:52 AM »

I know there is certainly truth in that. I know the skeptic's mind is not the child's mind we are called have. Still, the idea of believing what we cannot see could be applied to any number of awful things. I'm not saying that this is the case in the New Testament, just that on its own that kind of logic lacks persuasion.  I mean, if I offered you a job and told you it provided a "good salary", you'd probably want to see a real number rather than my assurance that you should believe me that it's a good salary.

OK, but recall that Thomas didn't doubt because he didn't believe; Thomas doubted because he wanted to believe.

When you say "good salary", it could be $100,000 a year and I could lose my job in 30 days for anything from economic downturn to lack of performance of you hate my guts (well, I hope not).   Smiley  You may also pay me $20,000 a year which helps me pay my bills, fulfill my obligations without incurring further debt and I work for you for a long time. 

With Christ, I don't have to worry about losing my faith because I believe in the Resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.  Buddha has nothing to offer me.  Anything else has nothing to offer me and I have Christ, the Virgin Mary, all the Saints and my family and friends.   Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2008, 02:54:27 AM »

What often gets lost among Western Christians, including Orthodox living in the West, is that Orthodox Christianity IS an experiential faith, it is a faith that can be tested by our real experiences! For Orthodox, Christianity is absolutely not a simple intellectual ascent to some historical facts. Certainly, Christianity is based on the person of Jesus Christ, who really did live in the world at a specific time and place, and he said specific things, some of which were recorded and which we have now.  These historical elements all inform our experiences, just as many historical events inform Buddhist experience.  Christianity, however, is about living in the Kingdom of God, which is an ontological reality that we can participate in now by opening up our lives to God.  This is precisely what Orthodox prayer is about: bringing the very real Kingdom of God into our lives, such that we experience Christ. This isn't just a warm feeling or a thought *that* you are experiencing Christ, or knowledge that somewhere, there is a Kingdom of God, it is a very real experience that is arrived at through the cleansing of the heart. It is through our hearts that we can actually experience and perceive God.  Christianity is not just a set of dogmas, it is a lived experience in a different ontological reality. The dogmas are actually a reflection of that lived reality, rather than existing on their own.
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« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2008, 08:59:49 AM »

What Zebu said. My thoughts exactly. I, for one, love all things intellectual, and to me it's great that we have books and our dogmatics, which does certainly include certain historical events. But it is not this "mental acceptance of the historical event" that primarily determines my faith; rather, it is my experience in everyday life and in my attendance of the Divine Liturgy.
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« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2008, 10:52:56 AM »

Thanks for your replies.

Sure, there's the experiential aspect of Orthodoxy/Christianity. No doubt about it. However, what in that experience of God would lead us naturally to accept the specific historical account of the New Testament?

At some point there needs to be the leap from experiencing God in a general way to accepting that a certain narrative is true based on that experience. Then, we have to accept that belief in that story will aid in our salvation.  Why does God care whether we believe a certain set of accounts about him from 2000 years ago?
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« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2008, 11:28:02 AM »

Thanks for your replies.

Sure, there's the experiential aspect of Orthodoxy/Christianity. No doubt about it. However, what in that experience of God would lead us naturally to accept the specific historical account of the New Testament?

At some point there needs to be the leap from experiencing God in a general way to accepting that a certain narrative is true based on that experience. Then, we have to accept that belief in that story will aid in our salvation.  Why does God care whether we believe a certain set of accounts about him from 2000 years ago?


In my personal case, it's like this (approximately). My experience (reflecting on my life and feelings during tthe Divine Liturgy) led me to accept the idea that the Church really exists, and that there is a quite real continuity in Her tradition - written, oral, liturgical, iconographical and architectural. Based on the acceptance of this continuity (and truthfulness, exactly *because* of the real continuity), I also accept the dogmatics, as outlined in the Nicene-Constantinople Creed.

As for why does God care... Good question... and maybe in fact He does not. I mean, there are very many people who live very Orthodox lives and yet aren't what you would call "rational" or "intellectual" believers-Christians. Just look at the example (no matter that it's fictional!) of Platon Karatayev, one of the heroes of Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace." He was an illiterate peasant who hardly ever "put together" the rational dogmatics of the Church. His prayer, as described by Tolstoy (perhaps based on very real life experience of the author), was, " holy men of God, Frola and Lavra, holy men of God, St. Nicholas, holy men of God, mercy, mercy, Lord, lay me down like a stone and raise me up as a freshly baked little piece of sweet bread!" - and that was the *ONLY* thing he "knew," i.e. recited by heart before going to bed. I can't imagine him, for example, reading the Epistle to Romans and contemplating about its verses like "whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called..." etc. Karatayev would not understand it at all, no matter how many times and in what language and with what commentaries these "brainy" Pauline passages would be read to him. But he is a wonderful, astonishing example of a true Christian with a truly "illumined heart," nonetheless...
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« Reply #11 on: November 19, 2008, 01:24:49 PM »

Excuse me, but do not all and any concepts of salvation require a belief in a specific historical account at their foundation and for the progenitor of that doctrine of salvation?   

As to Buddhism, did not someone have to become historically and spiritually enlightened for its doctrine(s) to begin to be propagated?  Is it not claimed that Buddha himself was a miracle worker and an ascetic?  Was he not perceived as a charismatic saviour by those who were tired of the competing tribalism?  And what about the role of ritual and devotional practices, are these not grounded in some historical events?

Ultimately, our faith rests upon the Faith of our Lord Jesus Christ.  It is His Faith which saves us and His Faith which He gave to the Apostles and His Faith that I am confessing.  The Apostles as directed by Him expounded and established the direction His Faith would and has taken with a direct Link unto Him who said, "All authority in heaven and upon earth are given to me..."







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« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2008, 03:30:38 PM »

Excuse me, but do not all and any concepts of salvation require a belief in a specific historical account at their foundation and for the progenitor of that doctrine of salvation?   

As to Buddhism, did not someone have to become historically and spiritually enlightened for its doctrine(s) to begin to be propagated?  Is it not claimed that Buddha himself was a miracle worker and an ascetic?  Was he not perceived as a charismatic saviour by those who were tired of the competing tribalism?  And what about the role of ritual and devotional practices, are these not grounded in some historical events?



No, faith in the historical accounts of the Buddha's life and works are not necessary articles of faith. As I mentioned above, the Buddha called for his followers to question and test his findings- to not even take his word for it, but to experience it themselves. To be a Buddhist, one does not have to have a deep faith in his historicity and believe in him based on the fact that you're supposed to believe in him for salvation.


Heorhij,

Thanks very much for your reply. That makes a great deal of sense to me.
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« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2008, 04:07:57 PM »

It is often difficult for me to understand how God would require this mental acceptance of a historical phenomenon. How can the mental acceptance of an event in time and space 2000 years ago be a determining factor in our salvation? Why is it that God would require for salvation historical knowledge of this event, a mental acceptance of it, and then faith in its occurrence. Why too is it necessary to believe in the the God/man and to accept his claims? Shouldn't God's will be a little less tricky and contingent upon time/place and records?
So, I guess the question you're asking is:  "WHY did the Word of God need to become incarnate?  Could He not just have shown us a way to be saved without stepping into human history?"
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« Reply #14 on: November 19, 2008, 04:23:28 PM »

It is often difficult for me to understand how God would require this mental acceptance of a historical phenomenon. How can the mental acceptance of an event in time and space 2000 years ago be a determining factor in our salvation? Why is it that God would require for salvation historical knowledge of this event, a mental acceptance of it, and then faith in its occurrence. Why too is it necessary to believe in the the God/man and to accept his claims? Shouldn't God's will be a little less tricky and contingent upon time/place and records?
So, I guess the question you're asking is:  "WHY did the Word of God need to become incarnate?  Could He not just have shown us a way to be saved without stepping into human history?"

Hmm...
Well, no. Not exactly, although that is difficult for me as well in terms of what really changed after Christ. How were we separated from God before Christ, except on the level of an idea of separation. It's easy to say we were locked out of Paradise, but what experientially would lead us to that conclusion? A certain sect of Jews thought themselves barred from heaven because of the fall- the rest of the world would never have considered that a possibility since it is not even close to being readily apparent. What is also not readily apparent is how anything changed after Christ. Again, anyone who hadn't heard this story would never arrive at the conclusion that we were barred from salvation before Christ and have been saved by him. It is through the acceptance of the story of Christ (which has to be accepted on faith, I suppose) that the ideas start to make sense. I.e. - through the acceptance of the historical events of the Gospels and the specific events in history leading up to it.
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« Reply #15 on: November 19, 2008, 04:34:37 PM »

To put it another way, consider these things, for example:

-Humanity's separation from God after the fall
-The virgin birth
-The resurrection
-The restoration of humanity because of the incarnation


All of these ideas, found in the New Testament, are essential features of the Christian faith. Without belief in one, Christianity does not "make sense". Now, the way they become a belief is through a mental acceptance of their having taken place in time and space 2000 + years ago. There is nothing within the spiritual system of Christianity that would make these divine truths readily apparent. You must believe them based on faith that the accounts described are true. If you do not believe them, or remain agnostic toward them, then you cannot be an Orthodox Christian .

As for the truths becoming apparent through the Church- this seems sort of like reverse logic to me. Just because there may be a spiritual reality within the Church that brings us closer to God (as many religious systems do), there is no logical way to move from this spiritual reality backward to the acceptance of the articles mentioned above. The events and ideas above do not become obvious through practicing Christianity.  On the other hand (again, for example), the tenets and beliefs of Buddhism do become apparent through practicing (or, better yet, are said to). Through meditation and loving-kindness exercises, the things the Buddha spoke about become apparent.
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« Reply #16 on: November 19, 2008, 05:26:29 PM »

I just heard someone quote...I think it was St. Gregory of Nyssa...and he said what you just said, Bogo.  Do you want to know if this is true?  Try to pray.  Try to fulfill the commandments of Christ.  See if you don't come up against the struggle Christ mentioned.  Subjective?  Yes, but anectdotal and subjective things have their place, too.

As for me...

The concrete, historical reality that there was a flesh-and-blood man who really lived in a specific place at a specific time, and whose death can be verified by independent historical documents (the Roman annals) is absolutely wonderful, imo.  The fact that his followers' deaths can be similarly verified is telling, as well, for it points to the fact that something happened in the three days following their Master's execution.

Nevertheless, only a few decades following this life-changing event in the apostles' lives, we have St. Peter telling folks to be patient and continue to wait for the second coming, even though everything continues on as it has since the beginning of time.  Imagine if they knew then that 2,000 years later we'd still be waiting for Him!  I wonder how many would just throw in the towel at that point.   I wonder...if Christ didn't come for another 2,000 years, how many of us would still be around?

The physical incarnation of the Logos (along with all the other things you mentioned above, Bogo) and the historical verifiability of said events don't so much stand (imo) as a sort of "divine checklist" that we're going to be quizzed on "when we all get to heaven" as it does as a sort of "safety net" for honest-to-goodness doubting Thomases like me who need to know that, when we pray that we "believe...and confess...that this truly is [His] immaculate body and that this truly is [His] most precious blood," that there actually is real, physical blood to be made present here, even if it is mystically there in the form of bread and wine.  There needs to be something concrete and physical, made of matter, that that Eucharist is based on.  I need to know that my Savior really is -- flesh and blood and all! -- seated with my humanity at the right hand of God the Father in Heaven right now.  I need to know that, if He really had humanity, then my physical body can be infused with divine life, as well.  Like the Theotokos, I can hold divine fire and not be burned.

All this is contingent -- even if its not all yet realized -- on Christ really being physically, temporally, tangibly incarnate for our sake.  He is the firstfruits of what will be; the rest of Creation still groans (albeit imperceptibly) because it knows what it will be, yet knows it is not yet as it will be.  The same is true of us, in a way, even though we know not yet what we will be, though one day we -- together with a transfigured Creation -- will see Him as He is, for we shall -- finally! -- be like Him.

And none of this would be possible if He were not truly with us as a God-Man.

 Embarrassed  Forgive the sermon.  This topic just never ceases to enthrall me.   Smiley
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« Reply #17 on: November 19, 2008, 05:54:54 PM »

DavidBryan,

Much to ponder. Thank you.
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« Reply #18 on: November 19, 2008, 06:41:29 PM »

"No, faith in the historical accounts of the Buddha's life and works are not necessary articles of faith. As I mentioned above, the Buddha called for his followers to question and test his findings- to not even take his word for it, but to experience it themselves."

Do you mean like: "Matthew 7:24-27    "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of
   Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built
   his house on the rock:  "and the rain descended, the floods
   came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not
   fall, for it was founded on the rock.  "But everyone who
   hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like
   a foolish man who built his house on the sand:  "and the
   rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall."


Or like: "James 1:22-27    But be doers of the word, and not hearers
   only, deceiving yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of
   the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural
   face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and
   immediately forgets what kind of man he was.  But he who
   looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and
   is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will
   be blessed in what he does.  If anyone among you thinks he
   is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his
   own heart, this one's religion is useless.  Pure and
   undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit
   orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself
   unspotted from the world."
   that house; and it fell. And great was its fall."

Or from John 15:7-12  "If you abide in Me,
   and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it
   shall be done for you. "By this My Father is glorified,
   that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.  "As
   the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.
   "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love,
   just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His
   love. "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may
   remain in you, and that your joy may be full.  "This is My
   commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.



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« Reply #19 on: November 19, 2008, 06:47:20 PM »

"Why is it that God would require for salvation historical knowledge of this event, a mental acceptance of it, and then faith in its occurrence."

 I think God has answered this question:

"Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. Then he sent some more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.' But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 'Friend,' he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless. Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' For many are invited, but few are chosen.

God was not inviting us to believe a proposition about Him, He was inviting us to have a wedding feast with Him. 
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« Reply #20 on: November 19, 2008, 07:00:39 PM »



God was not inviting us to believe a proposition about Him, He was inviting us to have a wedding feast with Him. 


Good point. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis- "Christ said 'take, eat', not 'take, analyze'". Still, the verses you cite contain general spiritual principles shared by many faiths. I'm most concerned with belief in Christ as God- the only way to salvation through the belief in that Person, not in belief in ideas. Why should salvation be predicated on the belief in that Man, rather than the practice of certain spiritual principles or realization of spiritual truths?
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« Reply #21 on: November 20, 2008, 02:56:35 PM »

^^Because impersonal ideas can't breathe life back into a dead body, renew said corpse, and abolish death therefrom.

The Person, the God-Man Jesus Christ can.  Scripture testifies that the life of a creature is in its actual blood, so our taking His Life into us will lift us up and deliver us from this body of death.
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« Reply #22 on: November 20, 2008, 05:33:06 PM »

"Why should salvation be predicated on the belief in that Man, rather than the practice of certain spiritual principles or realization of spiritual truths?"

"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: . . . For if by one man's offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." (Rom 5:12-17)

I think you have mis-understood. 

Our salvation is not predicated on our belief, but upon the Person in whom we believe.   

Also, I am unclear as to what you mean when you say "salvation." 

Salvation in Orthodox Christianity is not some pie in the sky future magic act wherein God simply wipes away all our transgressions without regard to our actual this world struggle and the winning of that salvation as a prize.  Salvation is a present tense existential healing of our whole self, body soul and mind (and any other).  It is imperative that we understand that it is Christ who saves us, but our actual experience of that salvation is predicated upon our belief in and our struggle to actualize within ourselves the transformation of our "person hood" into Christ like beings.  That is a present tense experience which will be fully revealed only at the Last Judgment. 

The historical events in which we believe are for our edification, the very men who were cursing Jesus upon the Cross believed that he was crucified historically.  Their belief and the subsequent belief of Pilot when he gave permission to have the body of Christ removed and sealed in a grave did not give or win their or his salvation.  They did not apprehend the experience of salvation because they did not believe in the Person whom they Crucified.

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« Reply #23 on: November 20, 2008, 05:42:31 PM »

No, faith in the historical accounts of the Buddha's life and works are not necessary articles of faith.

------------

Excuse me, but you have to begin by believing that which the Buddha taught about himself, i.e., that he was enlightened.  You must believe that Buddha experienced that which he himself taught could be experienced and would be subsequently experienced by those who followed his prescription for salvation.  Buddha's experience is the foundation of Buddhism and you must believe he experienced what he claimed, otherwise why would you want to follow his prescription.  Certainly the degree of cognizant belief therein might vary according to each individuals relative circumstance.

A Doctor who says you must fast to be healed would only be believed because his experience of healing substantiated his prescription. 
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« Reply #24 on: November 20, 2008, 05:48:17 PM »

^

What of those who were present during the time of the Apostles and just didn't "get it"-  Those who just couldn't understand the idea of God incarnate, or those who wrongly interpreted Jesus's life, works, and significance. What about those who interpreted Christ wrongly, but were trying hard to properly understand (Ebionites, Docetists, etc.) ? Sure, now they are conveniently labeled as heretics, but who can doubt their sincere motivations in trying to understand ideas that had not yet been defined or clarified by councils and creeds?  

This brings me back to my main question, by way of the example of early heretical sects who didn't win the primacy battle. How is there any justice in their being "heretics" when they sincerely tried to understand Christ's significance but simply got it wrong? Their minds lead them to different conclusions, and so they're left outside the fold. What of those who heard different stories from those in the now canonical Gospels and got the historical events wrong, or didn't properly understand Jesus's proper place in space and time even if near the events?  Sorry, you misinterpreted the event, therefore there is no way you could have proper faith in historical event/people associated with it, therefore your chances at salvation are out the window.
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« Reply #25 on: November 20, 2008, 05:53:29 PM »

No, faith in the historical accounts of the Buddha's life and works are not necessary articles of faith.

------------

Excuse me, but you have to begin by believing that which the Buddha taught about himself, i.e., that he was enlightened.  You must believe that Buddha experienced that which he himself taught could be experienced and would be subsequently experienced by those who followed his prescription for salvation.  Buddha's experience is the foundation of Buddhism and you must believe he experienced what he claimed, otherwise why would you want to follow his prescription.  Certainly the degree of cognizant belief therein might vary according to each individuals relative circumstance.

A Doctor who says you must fast to be healed would only be believed because his experience of healing substantiated his prescription. 

I disagree, and so did the Buddha. Buddhism is not a religion of revelation and belief, like Christianity. You can test the truths presented in the Buddha's teachings without having faith in him or his enlightenment, just as you can think a doctor is a total quack and still get better by taking the medicine he prescribes.  The Buddha never said "believe in me", or that the only way to God is through him. As all of us know, he never claimed to be God as Christ did.  Faith in the person of Jesus Christ is necessary for Christians. Faith in the person of the Buddha is not necessary for Buddhists.

The Buddha is reported to have said:
"Of course you are uncertain, Kalamas. Of course you are in doubt. When there are reasons for doubt, uncertainty is born. So in this case, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering' — then you should abandon them."

By the same token, "When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them."
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« Reply #26 on: November 20, 2008, 06:03:47 PM »

^

What of those who were present during the time of the Apostles and just didn't "get it"-  Those who just couldn't understand the idea of God incarnate, or those who wrongly interpreted Jesus's life, works, and significance. What about those who interpreted Christ wrongly, but were trying hard to properly understand (Ebionites, Docetists, etc.) ? Sure, now they are conveniently labeled as heretics, but who can doubt their sincere motivations in trying to understand ideas that had not yet been defined or clarified by councils and creeds?  

This brings me back to my main question, by way of the example of early heretical sects who didn't win the primacy battle. How is there any justice in their being "heretics" when they sincerely tried to understand Christ's significance but simply got it wrong? Their minds lead them to different conclusions, and so they're left outside the fold. What of those who heard different stories from those in the now canonical Gospels and got the historical events wrong, or didn't properly understand Jesus's proper place in space and time even if near the events?  Sorry, you misinterpreted the event, therefore there is no way your could have proper faith in historical event/people associated with it, therefore your chances at salvation are out the window.
So, the early heretics merely "didn't get" the truth about Jesus Christ, making their heresies merely a matter of misunderstanding?  What about the claims of apostles and early Church fathers (e.g., the Apostles Paul and John, Bp. Irenaeus, Bp. Ignatius of Antioch) that these heretics intentionally perverted the truth for their own gain?  What of those Fathers (such as the two bishops I named above) who taught that membership in the Church and communion with the local bishop were necessary defenses against falling prey to the ravenous wolves of the heretics?  Were these heresiarchs and their sects heretical merely because they "lost the primacy battle"?  Or did they lose the primacy battle because they were heretics?
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« Reply #27 on: November 20, 2008, 06:07:35 PM »

  They did not apprehend the experience of salvation because they did not believe in the Person whom they Crucified.



And these people who just didn't "get it", or had no real reason to believe in Jesus because he was just a man on a cross to them, will not be saved?  And then, after the Resurrection, the Apostles spread the good news to these same unbelieving men, basically saying- if you believe in this story, you can be saved. If you don't believe that these events happened the way we say they happened, there is no salvation.  Where is the justice in that? If a rational man comes to the conclusion through his own God given intelligence that "geez, I don't really think I buy that story, it just doesn't make much sense to me, sorry", how can God judge him?
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« Reply #28 on: November 20, 2008, 06:11:55 PM »

^

What of those who were present during the time of the Apostles and just didn't "get it"-  Those who just couldn't understand the idea of God incarnate, or those who wrongly interpreted Jesus's life, works, and significance. What about those who interpreted Christ wrongly, but were trying hard to properly understand (Ebionites, Docetists, etc.) ? Sure, now they are conveniently labeled as heretics, but who can doubt their sincere motivations in trying to understand ideas that had not yet been defined or clarified by councils and creeds?  

This brings me back to my main question, by way of the example of early heretical sects who didn't win the primacy battle. How is there any justice in their being "heretics" when they sincerely tried to understand Christ's significance but simply got it wrong? Their minds lead them to different conclusions, and so they're left outside the fold. What of those who heard different stories from those in the now canonical Gospels and got the historical events wrong, or didn't properly understand Jesus's proper place in space and time even if near the events?  Sorry, you misinterpreted the event, therefore there is no way your could have proper faith in historical event/people associated with it, therefore your chances at salvation are out the window.
So, the early heretics merely "didn't get" the truth about Jesus Christ, making their heresies merely a matter of misunderstanding?  What about the claims of apostles and early Church fathers (e.g., the Apostles Paul and John, Bp. Irenaeus, Bp. Ignatius of Antioch) that these heretics intentionally perverted the truth for their own gain?  What of those Fathers (such as the two bishops I named above) who taught that membership in the Church and communion with the local bishop were necessary defenses against falling prey to the ravenous wolves of the heretics?  Were these heresiarchs and their sects heretical merely because they "lost the primacy battle"?  Or did they lose the primacy battle because they were heretics?

Well, not to cite Bart Ehrman here, but the Gospels were changed by the Orthodox as well in order to win doctrinal debates with the heretics. So, it seems a bit of editing was performed on both sides. I'm sure the heretics held the same opinion of the Orthodox- distorting the Truth for personal gain.

As for the question in bold- I have no idea.
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« Reply #29 on: November 20, 2008, 06:12:43 PM »

Bogoliubtsy,

Salvation...  What is it?  How do you understand it?
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« Reply #30 on: November 20, 2008, 06:15:00 PM »

Well, not to cite Bart Ehrman here, but the Gospels were changed by the Orthodox as well in order to win doctrinal debates with the heretics.
How so?

So, it seems a bit of editing was performed on both sides. I'm sure the heretics held the same opinion of the Orthodox- distorting the Truth for personal gain.
Really?  Do you have historical proof of this, or is this just your conjecture?
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« Reply #31 on: November 20, 2008, 06:21:33 PM »

Bogoliubtsy,

Salvation...  What is it?  How do you understand it?

On one level, in the Orthodox way- the way presented above by zoarthegleaner.
I have been using "salvation" here though in the more general sense of being granted a place with God after death- being found worthy of God's Kingdom.
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« Reply #32 on: November 20, 2008, 06:24:52 PM »

Well, not to cite Bart Ehrman here, but the Gospels were changed by the Orthodox as well in order to win doctrinal debates with the heretics.
How so?

So, it seems a bit of editing was performed on both sides. I'm sure the heretics held the same opinion of the Orthodox- distorting the Truth for personal gain.
Really?  Do you have historical proof of this, or is this just your conjecture?

I think it's safe conjecture to say the heretics didn't think they were heretics.

See my summary of Ehrman's book here: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,18424.msg270313.html#msg270313
I'll quote the pertinent section:

 Ehrman argues that as battles for doctrinal primacy raged in the early centuries of Christianity, the “proto-Orthodox”, or those whose positions would dominate the Christian faith in the future, modified scripture to combat “heresies”, or different ways of thinking. To demonstrate this, Ehrman focuses on disputes over Christ’s nature, both in terms of “heretical” understandings, and proto-Orthodox responses.
       “Adoptionists”, or those (usually Ebionites) who believed that Christ was adopted as God’s son at Baptism, also believed that Christ’s nature was the same as man’s. Jesus was simply a righteous man chosen by God. Of course, this undermines Christ’s unique divinity. In response, Ehrman argues, the proto-Orthodox slightly altered the Greek of I Tim 3:16 from Christ “who was made manifest in the flesh” to the version widely known and accepted today:  “God made manifest in the flesh”. This small change places emphasis on Christ’s divinity. Other examples exist that show proto-Orthodox emphasis on Christ’s pre-existence with the Father and thereby undermine the beliefs of the Ebionites.
       Docetists, like Marcion, believed that Jesus’s nature is solely divine and that Christ came to save humanity from the wrathful God of the Jews.  Jesus could not possibly be human and therefore a part of this evil, fallen, world created by the cruel God of the Jews. Derived from the Greek dokesis, which means “appearance”, the Docetists believed that Christ’s body and crucifixion was an illusion, but appeared human. This ran counter to proto-Orthodox understandings of Christ’s redemption of humanity by becoming man. Ehrman argues that verses were added in Luke to stress Christ’s humanity (a graphic depiction of Jesus bleeding) and thereby strengthen the proto-Orthodox cause.
        To defeat “Separationists” who believed Christ is human and God, yet divided into two beings, proto-Orthodox stressed in scripture that Christ’s death came by the grace of God, not separate from it. This placed emphasis on Christ’s being both fully God and fully man, yet undivided in those distinctions. To the proto-Orthodox, Christ’s salvific work could only come through this combination of humanity and divinity.
        Along with the theological disputes of the day that influenced scriptural alterations by what would become the victorious Christian theology in years to come, other textual changes came about as a result of the “social world” in which the Gospels were forming. Ehrman argues that in the years following Christ’s death, the texts were altered to downplay or restrict the role of women in the Church, as well as to malign the Jews as the years progressed and Christianity began to lose its formerly Jewish character.

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« Reply #33 on: November 20, 2008, 06:29:18 PM »

Bogoliubtsy,

Salvation...  What is it?  How do you understand it?

On one level, in the Orthodox way- the way presented above by zoarthegleaner.
I have been using "salvation" here though in the more general sense of being granted a place with God after death- being found worthy of God's Kingdom.
IOW, those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, in the historical events of His death and resurrection, shall receive eternal life; those who don't shall be condemned to hell?
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« Reply #34 on: November 20, 2008, 06:31:45 PM »

Bogoliubtsy,

Salvation...  What is it?  How do you understand it?

On one level, in the Orthodox way- the way presented above by zoarthegleaner.
I have been using "salvation" here though in the more general sense of being granted a place with God after death- being found worthy of God's Kingdom.
IOW, those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, in the historical events of His death and resurrection, shall receive eternal life; those who don't shall be condemned to hell?

Ha. You're not going to get me that easily.  Wink
No, that's not what I mean. But you have to admit that those beliefs are the foundation/essential to the whole process of becoming more like God. No?
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« Reply #35 on: November 20, 2008, 06:37:40 PM »

Well, not to cite Bart Ehrman here, but the Gospels were changed by the Orthodox as well in order to win doctrinal debates with the heretics.
How so?

So, it seems a bit of editing was performed on both sides. I'm sure the heretics held the same opinion of the Orthodox- distorting the Truth for personal gain.
Really?  Do you have historical proof of this, or is this just your conjecture?

I think it's safe conjecture to say the heretics didn't think they were heretics.

See my summary of Ehrman's book here: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,18424.msg270313.html#msg270313
I'll quote the pertinent section: ...
So, Mr. Ehrman's "scholarship" is summarily rejected by the mainstream of Christian scholars as shoddy and driven by a naturalist, anti-Christian agenda, and you cite him as an authoritative source on early Christian history?
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« Reply #36 on: November 20, 2008, 10:50:31 PM »

Well, not to cite Bart Ehrman here, but the Gospels were changed by the Orthodox as well in order to win doctrinal debates with the heretics.
How so?

So, it seems a bit of editing was performed on both sides. I'm sure the heretics held the same opinion of the Orthodox- distorting the Truth for personal gain.
Really?  Do you have historical proof of this, or is this just your conjecture?

I think it's safe conjecture to say the heretics didn't think they were heretics.

See my summary of Ehrman's book here: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,18424.msg270313.html#msg270313
I'll quote the pertinent section: ...
So, Mr. Ehrman's "scholarship" is summarily rejected by the mainstream of Christian scholars as shoddy and driven by a naturalist, anti-Christian agenda, and you cite him as an authoritative source on early Christian history?

Well, no. He is not summarily rejected by "maintstream" scholars. He himself is very much a mainstream scholar, but perhaps a little over the top sometimes- a little too dramatic. The point is though, if you look at the earliest extant texts of the Gospels cited above, you can see that the passages Ehrman cites as later additions are not in the earliest texts. His opinion is that they were added later because of theological debates.
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« Reply #37 on: November 21, 2008, 12:41:52 AM »

Well, not to cite Bart Ehrman here, but the Gospels were changed by the Orthodox as well in order to win doctrinal debates with the heretics.
How so?

So, it seems a bit of editing was performed on both sides. I'm sure the heretics held the same opinion of the Orthodox- distorting the Truth for personal gain.
Really?  Do you have historical proof of this, or is this just your conjecture?

I think it's safe conjecture to say the heretics didn't think they were heretics.

See my summary of Ehrman's book here: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,18424.msg270313.html#msg270313
I'll quote the pertinent section: ...
So, Mr. Ehrman's "scholarship" is summarily rejected by the mainstream of Christian scholars as shoddy and driven by a naturalist, anti-Christian agenda, and you cite him as an authoritative source on early Christian history?

Well, no. He is not summarily rejected by "maintstream" scholars. He himself is very much a mainstream scholar, but perhaps a little over the top sometimes- a little too dramatic. The point is though, if you look at the earliest extant texts of the Gospels cited above, you can see that the passages Ehrman cites as later additions are not in the earliest texts. His opinion is that they were added later because of theological debates.
ISTM this discussion is already going on in the Reviews section (The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture).  If we want to explore this particular subthread to greater depth, maybe we should take this there.
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« Reply #38 on: December 23, 2008, 06:36:15 PM »

^

What of those who were present during the time of the Apostles and just didn't "get it"-  Those who just couldn't understand the idea of God incarnate, or those who wrongly interpreted Jesus's life, works, and significance. What about those who interpreted Christ wrongly, but were trying hard to properly understand (Ebionites, Docetists, etc.) ? Sure, now they are conveniently labeled as heretics, but who can doubt their sincere motivations in trying to understand ideas that had not yet been defined or clarified by councils and creeds?  

This brings me back to my main question, by way of the example of early heretical sects who didn't win the primacy battle. How is there any justice in their being "heretics" when they sincerely tried to understand Christ's significance but simply got it wrong? Their minds lead them to different conclusions, and so they're left outside the fold. What of those who heard different stories from those in the now canonical Gospels and got the historical events wrong, or didn't properly understand Jesus's proper place in space and time even if near the events?  Sorry, you misinterpreted the event, therefore there is no way your could have proper faith in historical event/people associated with it, therefore your chances at salvation are out the window.
So, the early heretics merely "didn't get" the truth about Jesus Christ, making their heresies merely a matter of misunderstanding?  What about the claims of apostles and early Church fathers (e.g., the Apostles Paul and John, Bp. Irenaeus, Bp. Ignatius of Antioch) that these heretics intentionally perverted the truth for their own gain?  What of those Fathers (such as the two bishops I named above) who taught that membership in the Church and communion with the local bishop were necessary defenses against falling prey to the ravenous wolves of the heretics?  Were these heresiarchs and their sects heretical merely because they "lost the primacy battle"?  Or did they lose the primacy battle because they were heretics?

The latter.
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« Reply #39 on: December 23, 2008, 06:46:54 PM »

  They did not apprehend the experience of salvation because they did not believe in the Person whom they Crucified.



And these people who just didn't "get it", or had no real reason to believe in Jesus because he was just a man on a cross to them, will not be saved?
Maybe, maybe not.
Quote
 And then, after the Resurrection, the Apostles spread the good news to these same unbelieving men, basically saying- if you believe in this story, you can be saved. If you don't believe that these events happened the way we say they happened, there is no salvation.
Not what they said.
Quote
 Where is the justice in that?
It's called free will.
Quote
If a rational man comes to the conclusion through his own God given intelligence that "geez, I don't really think I buy that story, it just doesn't make much sense to me, sorry",
Like Adam and Eve reasoned that they knew better than God on their diet?
Quote
how can God judge him?

Uh, because He's GOD.
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