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Author Topic: The non-existence of God  (Read 12882 times) Average Rating: 0
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Marc1152
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« Reply #135 on: December 22, 2010, 07:12:04 PM »

That shows the spirit of a catechumen!

So explain exactly why the soul would have to endure 'spiritual' tests before being accepted into Heaven, so you get all the way to the final tollhouse and then somehow you don't pass and your soul gets dragged into Hell.

That's not the God of love that I know of.

People judge God because of hell's very existence. The particular and final judgments exist because of free will. It is not for you, as a catechumen, or for me as a communicant, to edit the teachings of the Church, whether they relate to dogma or are theological opinions taught by the saints, simply because they do not square with our own opinions of how we think things are or should be. Rather, we need to show some humility before the Church, our mother and teacher, and if there is something we cannot grasp or understand, instead or rebelling against it or calling it stupid, we should remind ourselves that we, by ourselves, do not have all the answers, and to us it is not given to comprehend all of the mysteries of God.
Isn't that **** convenient? I've always been bothered by the "God Logic" b.s. and how God's ways are above man's ways blah blah. It's always brought up right around the point that the circular argument has come full. Seems like a cop out to me.

If ever I were tempted to hold up my fingers in front of me in the sign of the "A" (for atheist) to ward off the demonic, it would be now, being faced with the proposition that I surrender my mind - for to surrender my mind is to surrender my life





If ever I were tempted to hold up my fingers in front of me in the sign of the "A" (for atheist) to ward off the demonic, it would be now, being faced with the proposition that I surrender my mind - for to surrender my mind is to surrender my life


Wow.. If your ego gets any bigger, maybe it could apply for Statehood.
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« Reply #136 on: December 22, 2010, 07:30:06 PM »

BUMP!!!

Well I apologize for my recent erratic behavior and taken that into offense.

What I don't understand is how a loving God would let disease and all of these problems manifest in the world. Why does the whole world have to suffer by the consequences of Adam?

Since TTC apologized, I think it's unnecessary to make comments about his other posts.  I think what we need to do is accept his apology, stop making comments about his previous posts, and answer his questions.
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« Reply #137 on: December 22, 2010, 07:43:20 PM »

It's one thing to struggle with doubts, it's another to wear them on your sleeve like some kind of badge of honour. I think you've dug yourself into a hole by doing so.

But it is a badge of honor. Dogmatism and certainty are intellectual sicknesses.

Are you sure about that?

No. Nothing can be known, not even the accuracy of the claim that nothing can be known.

So your statement "Dogmatism and certainty are intellectual sicknesses" is meaningless.
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« Reply #138 on: December 22, 2010, 09:42:43 PM »

So your statement "Dogmatism and certainty are intellectual sicknesses" is meaningless.

Maybe.
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« Reply #139 on: December 22, 2010, 10:03:22 PM »

It's one thing to struggle with doubts, it's another to wear them on your sleeve like some kind of badge of honour. I think you've dug yourself into a hole by doing so.

But it is a badge of honor. Dogmatism and certainty are intellectual sicknesses.

Are you sure about that?

No. Nothing can be known, not even the accuracy of the claim that nothing can be known.
You're are pretty dogmatic about that. Wink
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« Reply #140 on: December 22, 2010, 10:04:54 PM »

After a bit of life experience I turned into a liberal agnostic.

This week, anyway.

Yeah, I've been thinking about that. I'm not sure that I've ever been anything except a liberal agnostic since sometime late in 2005 (well, the liberal part came a couple years earlier). Trying to be Orthodox (or anything else)--"giving it another shot" or "trying to make it work"--doesn't necessarily mean you aren't an agnostic anymore. Frankly, I don't know that I've actively believed in God in over 5 years. I don't really waver between "I'm not sure if there's a God" and "There is a God". It's more about wavering between "I'm not sure if there's a God" and "Gee, wouldn't it be swell if there was a God? But I still don't know..."
You honesty is appreciated.
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« Reply #141 on: December 23, 2010, 02:58:05 AM »

Dogmatism and certainty are intellectual sicknesses.

This could also read: Dogmatism and certainty are certainly intellectual sicknesses.  Wink
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« Reply #142 on: December 23, 2010, 07:42:17 PM »

So what about, let's say you are saved and you get to have that encounter with God "face to face"...does our freedom to choose be eliminated? Or would we even want to choose against that?

As the Orthodox speak of communion with God, do you just absorb yourself into God?
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« Reply #143 on: December 23, 2010, 07:55:18 PM »

So what about, let's say you are saved and you get to have that encounter with God "face to face"...does our freedom to choose be eliminated?
No, the human will remains but its gnomic will is burned off in the refinement of theosis, like dross from gold.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnomic_will
The natural will, having been connected between the logos (principle) of human nature and its telos (end/fulfillment), will cease to deliberate with uncertaainty but will chose the good with certainty.

Btw, being saved is only a means, theosis is the end. Had Adam not fallen, the coming of Christ would not have had to save him, but would still have been necesaary to connect the logos of human persons to their telos.

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Or would we even want to choose against that?
We will know better, and better equipped, than to do that.

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As the Orthodox speak of communion with God, do you just absorb yourself into God?
We unite to God, but neither hypostatically (union of Christ as both God and Man) nor consubstantially (the union of the three Persons in the Trinity). Our particular existance as a person (as opposed to Christ, whose Person never existed about from God, or the Persons of the Trinity, Who never exist apart from each other), always remain
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« Reply #144 on: December 23, 2010, 08:13:37 PM »

Btw, being saved is only a means, theosis is the end. Had Adam not fallen, the coming of Christ would not have had to save him, but would still have been necesaary to connect the logos of human persons to their telos.

Thanks for your response ialmisry.

So how did Adam and Eve conect with God, are using saying that the logos and telos were seperate? Since Adam was created he couldn't have that experience with something that was uncreated? But only in Christ do we experience that?

I'm slightly confused here.

Are there patristic writings I can learn from, any books I should buy? Not regarding just this, but anything to orthodoxy in general.
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« Reply #145 on: December 23, 2010, 10:13:55 PM »

Btw, being saved is only a means, theosis is the end. Had Adam not fallen, the coming of Christ would not have had to save him, but would still have been necesaary to connect the logos of human persons to their telos.

Thanks for your response ialmisry.

So how did Adam and Eve conect with God, are using saying that the logos and telos were seperate?

The logos had not yet attained its telos. It could not until the Incarnation. As the Fathers point out, just as an architect designs the house in which he will dwell, so too God created Man in His Image and Likeness. Man is the created God.  Until God took up His abode in man, the Creator becoming one with His creation in the Incarnation, the telos of humanity, and hence the individual telos of each human person, could not be fulfilled.

When I moved into a new home, we had to have the gas turned on, the electricity transfered, the phone line put in etc. before we could move in.  Until then, the house would be cold and dead.  Only then could the end of setting up a homestead be accomplished. So too the Incarnation.

However, since the logoi (pl of logos) of every being in existence exists only by the energies of God-otherwise they would have no existence-there is always contact with God. The question is, is the being swimming downstream and going with the flow of the divine energies, or are they swimming upstream, exhausting themselves going against God? As St. James writes (1:)God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death." By going against its logos, and the energies of God which suppot it, a sinner avoids his telos, and in effect is trying not to be, trying to achieve a critical mass of antimatter, as it were.

But back to father Adam and mother Eve: until Christ came as the Light of the World, man was like the man born blind, who could feel the heat of the sun, but could not see it and its light until Christ opened his eyes. I'm not sure how familiar you are with the story:
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1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" 3 Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day; night comes, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." 6 As he said this, he spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and anointed the man's eyes with the clay, 7 saying to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Silo'am" (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. 8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar, said, "Is not this the man who used to sit and beg?" 9 Some said, "It is he"; others said, "No, but he is like him." He said, "I am the man." 10 They said to him, "Then how were your eyes opened?" 11 He answered, "The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, 'Go to Silo'am and wash'; so I went and washed and received my sight." 12 They said to him, "Where is he?" He said, "I do not know." 13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. 15 The Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, "He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see." 16 Some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, for he does not keep the sabbath." But others said, "How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?" There was a division among them. 17 So they again said to the blind man, "What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?" He said, "He is a prophet." 18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight, 19 and asked them, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?" 20 His parents answered, "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age, he will speak for himself." 22 His parents said this because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if any one should confess him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore his parents said, "He is of age, ask him." 24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, "Give God the praise; we know that this man is a sinner." 25 He answered, "Whether he is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I know, that though I was blind, now I see." 26 They said to him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?" 27 He answered them, "I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you too want to become his disciples?" 28 And they reviled him, saying, "You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from." 30 The man answered, "Why, this is a marvel! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if any one is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that any one opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing." 34 They answered him, "You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?" And they cast him out. 35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, "Do you believe in the Son of man?" 36 He answered, "And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?" 37 Jesus said to him, "You have seen him, and it is he who speaks to you." 38 He said, "Lord, I believe"; and he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, "For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind." 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard this, and they said to him, "Are we also blind?" 41 Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, 'We see,' your guilt remains.

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Since Adam was created he couldn't have that experience with something that was uncreated?

Not directly. I'm not sure how good this analogy is, but I'm thinking of my recent experience at sea (I crossed the Atlantic to Bermuda). I always experience gravity when, for instance, I walk up the flight of stairs or try to lift something, but being out at sea, the rocking of the boat on the waves makes you aware of gravity in a way that goes right through you, so much that days after you are on dry land you still feel the effects (I was dizzy for several days) long after you have gotten off the rocking.

Adam could directly experience the rest of creation as he shared something in common with all of it. It is only when God took up the form of man, when the Divine Essence assumed a created nature, that such a relationship could take place between Adam and God. Before that, the relationship between man and God could only be mediated between the divine energies which upheld the logoi of creation.

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But only in Christ do we experience that?

Yes, as only in Him does the Godhead become accessible to creation, by His uniting of Creator and Creation in His Person.  As St. Paul writes (Col. 1:)15 He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; 16 for in Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities--all things were created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything He might be pre-eminent. 19 For in Him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 21 And you, who once were estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before Him, 23 provided that you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

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I'm slightly confused here.

Are there patristic writings I can learn from, any books I should buy? Not regarding just this, but anything to orthodoxy in general.
Still a good introduction is the Orthodox Way
http://books.google.com/books?id=WpE8MwHLffEC&pg=PA7&dq=Orthodox+way+I+am+on+a+journey&cd=1#v=onepage&q=Orthodox%20way%20I%20am%20on%20a%20journey&f=false
Which has a lot of quotes from the Fathers, but is not too technical and abstract.
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« Reply #146 on: December 23, 2010, 10:58:35 PM »

That makes too much sense, I'm starting to lean more towards your faith and this is helping out.

One problem I still cannot get over, what of the history of Christ? What proof do we have that he existed on Earth?

It's a major hurdle for me into believing.
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« Reply #147 on: December 24, 2010, 01:18:44 AM »

The only mystery of god I see is: why even postulate that such a thing exists in the first place?

Because you even have the ability to postulate it.  Do you know the odds against this even being a possibility without there being a God which created you with the ability to postulate?
So anything I have the ability to postulate holds equal weight? If I postulated something that lowers the odds of the universe existing as it is, then that would be on the same level as postulating that there is a god. The odds that the universe exists as it does are very high, therefor it must have been created by subatomic robots.

Talking about odds doesn't answer the question as to why one would even postulate that the thing exists. We have reasons for postulating a thing like gravity, DNA, light, evolution, etc.. There are even reasons to postulate that something unproven like dark matter exists... but no reasons to even bring up a god.
except His existence, for starters.
Except his purported existence, which is reason only to postulate existence, nothing more. Although not mentioned in the previous post, postulation of existence woud not be considered evidence for existence of any god.
The God of the Hebrews was never presented as something postulated. Personal/historical knowledge contingent to covenant-faithfulness versus, for example, the syllogistic extrapolations of the Greeks is a more accurate approximation of how the Hebrews understood their knowledge of God.

Israel’s God, unlike the gods of the ancient Near East, and unlike the Greek Logos born of cosmological speculation was neither a product of reflecting on the cycles of nature (Sumeria/Egypt/Ugarit/Assyria/Babylon etc.) nor was He extrapolated via systematic rational reflection on the ultimate constitution of all things (Greek thought from Thales to Aristotle):

The God of the Hebrews, writes Etienne Gilson, was “Not a God imagined by poets or discovered by any thinker as an ultimate answer to his metaphysical problems, but one who had revealed Himself to the Jews, told them His name, and explained to them His nature, in so far at least as His nature can be understood by men” (Gilson, Etienne, God and Philosophy (New Haven: Yale, 1962). Plato had concluded the ultimate philosophical explanation for all which exists should rest “not within those elements of reality that are always being generated… but with something which because it has no generation, truly is or exists…” This, Gilson observes, was almost exactly what the Christians affirmed, but with one critical difference: the difference of the article. “For Moses said: ‘He who is,’ and Plato: ‘That which is…’ If God is ‘He who is,’ He is also ‘that which is,’ because to be somebody is also to be something. Yet the converse is not true, for to be somebody is much more than to be something. We are here at the dividing line between Greek thought and Christian thought… Taken in itself, Christianity was not a philosophy. It was the essentially religious doctrine of the salvation of men through Christ. Christian philosophy arose at the juncture of Greek philosophy and Jewish-Christian religious revelation… Between ‘Him who is’ and ourselves, there is the infinite metaphysical chasm which separates the complete self-sufficiency of his own existence from the intrinsic lack of necessity of our own existence. Nothing can bridge such a chasm, save a free act of the divine will only. This is why, from the time of Saint Augustine up to our own days, human reason has been up against the tremendously difficult task of reaching a transcendent God whose pure act of existing is radically distinct from our own borrowed existence… Here again historians of philosophy find themselves confronted with this to them always unpalatable fact: a non-philosophical statement which has since become an epoch-making statement in the history of philosophy. The Jewish genius was not a philosophical genius; it was a religious one” (ibid, p. 42-43, 54).

“Though Israel’s notion of God was unique in the ancient world, and a phenomenon that defies rational explanation, to attempt to understand her faith in terms of an idea of God would be a fundamental error. Israel’s religion did not consist in certain religious ideas or ethical principles, but rested in experience as interpreted by faith… Not only was the Israelite league aware that its God had come from Sinai (e.g. Judges 5:4f; Deut 33:2); its sacred traditions remembered the covenant that had been made with him there… We are driven, therefore to assume that the origins of the covenant league, like those of Yahwism itself, reach back to Sinai. .. If Yahwism originated in the desert (as it certainly did) we must conclude that the covenant society did also, for Yahwism and covenant are coterminous” (Bright, John, History of Israel, pp. 148, 167-168).

If one was to set out to construct a "logically compelling god" on the basis of reason alone, the last idea one would come upon would be the incarnation of God in a babe born in Bethlehem. This idea is too bizarre to qualify as *philosophical* extrapolation. Perhaps some similar quandary was on Tertullian's mind when he penned the very odd statement "I believe because it is absurd." The Christian story is too strange to have been made up to be massively compelling to the mind. If one was seeking to make up a story whose supreme characteristic was syllogistic/rational credibility, one would have made up something entirely different than the crucifixion of the expected *Blessed* King of the Jews since as the apostle Paul before his conversion realized anyone who died on a cross of wood was held to have been cursed by God in Jewish scripture (Deut 21:23). These things are, intellectually speaking, more astonishing to the mind and less like pure philosophical extrapolation. The Hebrew/Christian God is the God was known over centuries of experience, but never through human wisdom:

"This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." 1 Cor 2:13-14

Paul understood the foolishness of the message he preached better than most, as he himself had once persecuted those who affirmed it, and once regarded it as completely absurd.


"Your fountain, Lord, is hidden from the person who does not thirst for You." -Ephrem the Syrian (Faith 32:2-3)

"Let them at least learn the nature of the religion they are attacking, before they attack it. If this religion boasted of having a clear vision of God, and of possessing Him plain and unveiled, then to say that nothing we see in the world reveals Him with this degree of clarity would indeed be to attack it. But it says, on the contrary, that man is in darkness and far from God, that He has hidden Himself from man's knowledge, and that the name He has given Himself in the Scriptures is in fact The Hidden God (Is 45:15). Therefore if it seeks to establish these two facts: that God has in the church erected visible signs by which those who sincerely seek Him may recognize Him, and that he has nevertheless so concealed them that He will only be perceived by those who seek Him with all their hearts, what advantage can the attackers gain when, while admitting that they neglect to seek for the truth, they yet cry that nothing reveals it? For the very darkness in which they lie, and for which they blame the Church, establishes one of her two claims, without invalidating the other, and also, far from destroying her doctrine, confirms it" -Blaise Pascal

Unlike mere ideas, the God Orthodoxy speaks of is living and personal; he hides and reveals. A god which is a mere idea is not the God proclaimed by Orthodoxy, but an idol of the mind. The Kingdom of God, unlike the ideas demonstrable on the grounds of logic alone, may be at the very same time perceived by children and yet remain hidden from the wisest of the ages. Anything else would be a spiritual kingdom for the elite and the learned alone. Children could not enter in. But the Kingdom of God turns that upon its head.

"To obtain anything from God, the outward must be joined to the inward; that is to say we must kneel and pray alone, etc. so that proud man, who would not submit to God, may now be subject to the body. To expect any help from this outward act is superstition; a refusal to join it to our inward acts is pride. For we must not misunderstand ourselves; we are as much machines as mind. And hence the means by which a man is persuaded are not demonstration alone. How few things are demonstrated! Proofs convince only the mind. It is habit that produces our strongest and most accepted proofs; it guides the machine, which carries the mind with it unconsciously. Who has proved that there will be a morrow and that we will die?" -Blaise Pascal

“And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” –John 3:19-21


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« Reply #148 on: December 24, 2010, 02:30:16 AM »

That makes too much sense, I'm starting to lean more towards your faith and this is helping out.

One problem I still cannot get over, what of the history of Christ? What proof do we have that he existed on Earth?

It's a major hurdle for me into believing.

Just to skim off the top.

One thing we have to realize is the difficulty we would have to proove the existence of rulers of empires of the ancient world, let allow an itinerant peasant preacher.

Just to take two events, the baptism of John and the Crucifixion, with formed the core (with the Resurrection and Ascension) of the preaching of the early Church.

In the case of the batpism, the  career of John the Baptist is recorded besides the canonical Gospels, in the gnostist literature and in the Jewish historian Josephus. So we have literature from competing communities about this figure, about whom they agree in large part, written within decades of his death, to audiences which could easily dispute the facts if it did not concur with common knowledge.  The book of Acts witnesses that disciples of the Baptist were in Asia Minor decades after his death, among them Apollos of Alexandria. Some of these disciples ended up after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish wars in Mesopotamia, where they became the Mandeans, whose literature, like the Orthodox and Gnostic scriptures, link Jesus of Nazareth with St. John (the Mandeans, though, claim that Jesus was not to succeed St. John). So we have various competing communities agreein on the details of St. John's preaching, and combeting groups linking Jesus to St. John, some claiming Jesus succeeded St. John, one disputing that but corroborating Jesus' baptism by John, none disbuting the basic facts as the Gospels record them. They are seem to be aruging from the same common knowledge of the 1st century, that St John had preached repentence in the desert, and that Jesus was baptized by him.

On the crucifixion, the Gnostics denied the Christ really died on the Cross, some even claiming that Simon or Judas were changed in appearnce to take Jesus place, but they did not deny that most commonly thought (we would say knew) that Christ was crucified.  The Jews in their Talmud have bits and pieces about the crucifixion, changing some details (e.g. Jesus was executed for sorcery, that He was given a fair trial, with a 40 day waiting period to wait for exonerating evidence), but not denying the fact that He died on the Cross. The Romans have the various facts, such as He died during the time of Tiberius under Pontius Pilate. So pagan Roman, Jewish, Gnostic as well as Orthodox Christian sources of the 1st century all agree on the Crucicifixion, just differing on its import and its cause, but never differing of the event itself.

I could go on, for instance the literature about Jesus' (step)brother James and its import on the existence of his brother Jesus etc. but you get the idea: we have enough testimony of the first century from groups that agreed on very little but who present a set o agreed facts as to the mission and existence of Christ.
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« Reply #149 on: December 24, 2010, 04:10:04 AM »

That makes too much sense, I'm starting to lean more towards your faith and this is helping out.

One problem I still cannot get over, what of the history of Christ? What proof do we have that he existed on Earth?

It's a major hurdle for me into believing.
Two extra-biblical testimonies seem particularly compelling to me:

1. Flavius Josephus (37-100 AD) Jewish historian, was a long-time resident of Jerusalem, the center of Christianity’s emergence (30/33-70 AD). Josephus' account of the death of James , whom he calls “the brother of Jesus,” is particularly interesting as Josephus was at the time  a resident of Jerusalem (and about 20 years old) where James was killed. His account was composed about 35 years afterward: as it was for him essentially a local news story. According to Josephus the high priest Annas (Ananus) the younger, son of Annas, had him stoned to death (Josephus, Ant. xx, 197-203); James' death is usually dated around 63 AD. The historicity of a "brother of Jesus" is compelling evidence in and of itself for the historicity of Jesus. The account reads as follows:

“…thinking he had a suitable opportunity, with Festus now dead and Albinus still on the way, he convened a session of the judicial Sanhedrin and brought before him James, the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ, and some other men. Accusing them of breaking the law, he handed them over to be stoned to death. Those men in the city who were reputed to be most fair-minded and strict in their regard for the law were angry at this. They sent a secret message to the king [Agrippa II], beseeching him to command Ananus’s action had been wrong from the beginning” (Josephus, Ant xx.200f.).

Josephus, author of The Jewish War, Antiquities of the Jews, Against Apion, and Life, was appointed Jewish emissary to Rome in AD 64, and was imprisoned under Vespasian (67 AD). He was given a pension by the Romans to spend the rest of his life writing.

Also, insofar as James was the leader of the nascent Christian community in Jerusalem, the testimony in the synoptic Gospels that James was before the resurrection among those who "did not believe in him" is widely accepted on the basis of the so-called criterion of embarrassment.  I am not aware of any adequate explanation for James' conversion or his leadership of the nascent Christian community in Jerusalem aside from the testimony recorded in 1 Cor 15:7 -datable via Paul's firsthand/autobiographical testimony in Galatians to within a few years of the crucifixion according to all major NT scholars (whether atheist/agnostic/Christian). The involvement of Jesus' family and followers in the movement which from its inception was marked by a willingness to die for the claim that they had seen Jesus risen from the dead is also really quite remarkable (cf. also Richard Bauckham's article "Relatives of Jesus" in Ralph P. Martin and Peter H. Davids, eds., Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments: A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship, pp. 1004ff, and further remarks about Simeon, son of Cleopas, Jude, two grandsons of Jude, and other figures). It is worth noting how astonishing it is to see the “brethren of the Lord” as influential members of the church after the resurrection (Acts 1:14) given indications of their extreme reserve before Jesus’s execution: “even his brothers did not believe in him” (Jn 7:5).

2. The emergence of the church itself. History demands an adequate explanation for the origin of the church itself. As Princeton scholar Bruce Metzger points out, whatever we make of the resurrection, the fact that a significant number of people believed with utter sincerity that they had seen and spoken with the risen Jesus after his death is historically undeniable (cf. Bruce Manning Metzger, The New Testament: Its Background, Growth, and Content, 2003). They persisted in this affirmation in the face of great personal danger from the very beginning. The message of the earliest witnesses was not merely that they "believed something" (ala Kierkegaard) but that they had seen Him alive after His death (Acts 4:1-22). Even martyrdom could not dissuade their stubborn adherence to this testimony. Even their deaths would not silence them.

Not that there is a pressing need for such in that pretty much all scholars, except fringe writers like Robert Price, and a few "cyber-infidel bloggers" are completely convinced that Jesus of Nazareth was a man of history.

All the same, I agree with so many other posters on this forum that knowing God is VERY poorly understood as a "show me the proof" game. If the Christ spoken of by the Gospel writers is real and living, he is found -if at all!- in the manner explained in the Gospels and by the Church; he is kept if at all in the manner explained in the Gospels and by the Church. "In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don't." -Blaise Pascal
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« Reply #150 on: December 24, 2010, 01:47:04 PM »

That makes too much sense, I'm starting to lean more towards your faith and this is helping out.

One problem I still cannot get over, what of the history of Christ? What proof do we have that he existed on Earth?

It's a major hurdle for me into believing.

There are several pieces of evidence but one of the strongest is the martyrdom of all the Apostles except for St. John.

They all went to a grisly death. Why would they have been willing to do that if Jesus was a made up peson? It would make no sense at all.
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« Reply #151 on: December 24, 2010, 01:54:12 PM »

That makes too much sense, I'm starting to lean more towards your faith and this is helping out.

One problem I still cannot get over, what of the history of Christ? What proof do we have that he existed on Earth?

It's a major hurdle for me into believing.

There are several pieces of evidence but one of the strongest is the martyrdom of all the Apostles except for St. John.

They all went to a grisly death. Why would they have been willing to do that if Jesus was a made up peson? It would make no sense at all.

Indeed, it was a dark time for Christianity it seemed when almost all the apostles and St. Paul were killed for their beliefs.  And not just them, but also others who brought Christianity to their areas.  St. Mark in Egypt, St. Ignatius, St. Polycarp, etc.  One wonders, what moved the first and second century Christians to survive and grow in such a hostile environment?  It looks like Christ was very real to them.
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« Reply #152 on: December 24, 2010, 02:08:58 PM »

They martyrdom of St. Perpetua in her own words:

http://www.ewtn.com/library/MARY/PERPETUA.htm


"While I was still with my companions, and my father in his affection for me was trying to turn me from my purpose by arguments and so weaken my faith, 'Father,' said I, 'do you see this vessel—water pot or whatever it may be? . . . Can it be called by any other name than what it is?" No,' he replied. 'So also I cannot call myself by any other name than what I am—a Christian.' Then my father, provoked by the word 'Christian,' threw himself on me as if he would pluck out my eyes, but he only shook me, and in fact was vanquished.... Then I thanked God for the relief of being, for a few days, parted from my father . . . and during those few days we were baptized. The Holy Spirit bade me after the holy rite to pray for nothing but bodily endurance.

"A few days later we were lodged in the prison, and I was much frightened, because I had never known such darkness. What a day of horror! Terrible heat, owing to the crowds! Rough treatment by the soldiers! To crown all I was tormented with anxiety for my baby. But Tertius and Pomponius, those blessed deacons who ministered to us, paid for us to be moved for a few hours to a better part of the prison and we obtained some relief. All went out of the prison and we were left to ourselves. My baby was brought and I nursed him, for already he was faint for want of food. I spoke anxiously to my mother on his behalf and encouraged my brother and commended my son to their care. For I was concerned when I saw their concern for me. For many days I suffered such anxieties, but I obtained leave for my child to remain in the prison with me, and when relieved of my trouble and distress for him, I quickly recovered my health. My prison suddenly became a palace to me and I would rather have been there than anywhere else.

"My brother then said to me: 'Lady sister, you are now greatly honored, so greatly that you may well pray for a vision to show you whether suffering or release is in store for you.' And I, knowing myself to have speech of the Lord for whose sake I was suffering, promised him confidently, 'Tomorrow I will bring you word.' And I prayed and this was shown me. I saw a golden ladder of wonderful length reaching up to heaven, but so narrow that only one at a time could ascend; and to the sides of the ladder were fastened all kinds of iron weapons. There were swords, lances, hooks, daggers, so that if anyone climbed up carelessly or without looking upwards, he was mangled and his flesh caught on the weapons. And at the foot of the ladder was a huge dragon which lay in wait for those going up and sought to frighten them from the ascent. The first to go up was Saturus, who of his own accord had given himself up for our sakes, because our faith was of his building and he was not with us when we were arrested. He reached the top of the ladder and, turning, said to me: 'Perpetua, I wait for you, but take care that the dragon does not bite you.' And I said: 'In the name of Jesus Christ, he will not hurt me.' And the dragon put out his head gently, as if afraid of me, just at the foot of the ladder; and as though I were treading on the first step, I trod on his head. And I went up and saw a vast garden, and sitting in the midst a tall man with white hair in the dress of a shepherd, milking sheep; and round about were many thousands clad in white. He raised his head and looked at me and said: 'Thou art well come, my child.' And he called me and gave me some curds of the milk he was milking, and I received them in my joined hands and ate, and all that were round about said 'Amen.' At the sound of the word I awoke, still tasting something sweet. I at once told my brother and we understood that we must suffer, and henceforth began to have no hope in this world.

"After a few days there was a report that we were to be examined. My father arrived from the city, worn with anxiety, and came up the hill hoping still to weaken my resolution. 'Daughter,' he said, 'pity my white hairs! Pity your father, if I deserve you should call me father, if I have brought you up to this your prime of life, if I have loved you more than your brothers! Make me not a reproach to mankind! Look on your mother and your mother's sister, look on your son who cannot live after you are gone. Forget your pride; do not make us all wretched! None of us will ever speak freely again if calamity strikes you.' So spoke my father in his love for me, kissing my hands and casting himself at my feet, and with tears calling me by the title not of 'daughter' but of 'lady.' And I grieved for my father's sake, because he alone of all my kindred would not have joy at my martyrdom. And I tried to comfort him, saying, 'What takes place on that platform will be as God shall choose, for assuredly we are not in our own power but in the power of God.' But he departed full of grief.

"The following day, while we were at our dinner, we were suddenly summoned to be examined and went to the forum. The news of the trial spread fast and brought a huge crowd together in the forum. We were placed on a sort of platform before the judge, who was Hilarion, procurator of the province, since the proconsul had lately died. The others were questioned before me and confessed their faith. But when it came to my turn, my father appeared with my child, and drawing me down the steps besought me, 'Have pity on the child.' The judge Hilarion joined with my father and said: 'Spare your father's white hairs. Spare the tender years of your child. Offer sacrifice for the prosperity of the emperors.' I replied, 'No." Are you a Christian?' asked Hilarion, and I answered, 'Yes, I am.' My father then attempted to drag me down from the platform, at which Hilarion commanded that he should be beaten off, and he was struck with a rod. I felt this as much as if I myself had been struck, so deeply did I grieve to see my father treated thus in his old age. The judge then passed sentence on us all and condemned us to the wild beasts, and in great joy we returned to our prison. Then, as my baby was accustomed to the breast, I sent Pomponius the deacon to ask him of my father, who, however, refused to send him. And God so ordered it that the child no longer needed to nurse, nor did my milk incommode me."

Secundulus seems to have died in prison before the examination. Before pronouncing sentence, Hilarion had Saturus, Saturninus, and Revocatus scourged and Perpetua and Felicitas beaten on the face. They were then kept for the gladiatorial shows which were to be given for the soldiers on the festival of Geta, the young prince whom his father Severus had made Caesar four years previously.

While in prison both Perpetua and Saturus had visions which they described in writing in great detail.

The remainder of the story was added by another hand, apparently that of an eyewitness. Felicitas had feared that she might not be allowed to suffer with the rest because pregnant women were not sent into the arena. However, she gave birth in the prison to a daughter whom one of their fellow Christians at once adopted. Pudens, their jailer, was by this time a convert, and did all he could for them. The day before the games they were given the usual last meal, which was called "the free banquet." The martyrs strove to make it an <Agape> or Love Feast,[3] and to those who crowded around them they spoke of the judgments of God and of their own joy in their sufferings. Such calm courage and confidence astonished the pagans and brought about many conversions.

On the day of their martyrdom they set forth from the prison. Behind the men walked the young noblewoman Perpetua, "abashing the gaze of all with the high spirit in her eyes," and beside her the slave Felicitas. At the gates of the amphitheater the attendants tried to force the men to put on the robes of the priests of Saturn and the women the dress symbolic of the goddess Ceres, but they all resisted and the officer allowed them to enter the arena clad as they were. Perpetua was singing, while Revocatus, Saturninus, and Saturus were calling out warnings to the bystanders and even to Hilarion himself, as they walked beneath his balcony, of the coming vengeance of God. The mob cried out that they should be scourged for their boldness. Accordingly, as the martyrs passed in front of the <venatores>, or hunters, each received a lash.

To each one God granted the form of martyrdom he desired. Saturus had hoped to be exposed to several sorts of beasts, that his sufferings might be intensified. He and Revocatus were first attacked half-heartedly by a leopard. Saturus was next exposed to a wild boar which turned on his keeper instead. He was then tied up on the bridge in front of a bear, but the animal refused to stir out of his den, and Saturus was reserved for one more encounter. The delay gave him an opportunity to turn and speak to the converted jailer Pudens: "You see that what I desired and foretold has come to pass. Not a beast has touched me! So believe steadfastly in Christ. And see now, I go forth yonder and with one bite from a leopard all will be over." As he had foretold, a leopard was now let out, sprang upon him, and in a moment he was fatally wounded. Seeing the flow of blood, the cruel mob cried out, "He is well baptized now!" Dying, Saturus said to Pudens, "Farewell; remember my faith and me, and let these things not daunt but strengthen you." He then asked for a ring from Pudens' finger, and dipping it in his own blood, returned it to the jailer as a keepsake. Then he expired.

Perpetua and Felicitas were exposed to a mad heifer. Perpetua was tossed first and fell on her back, but raised herself and gathered her torn tunic modestly about her; then, after fastening up her hair, lest she look as if she were in mourning, she rose and went to help Felicitas, who had been badly hurt by the animal. Side by side they stood, expecting another assault, but the sated audience cried out that it was enough. They were therefore led to the gate Sanevivaria, where victims who had not been killed in the arena were dispatched by gladiators. Here Perpetua seemed to arouse herself from an ecstasy and could not believe that she had already been exposed to a mad heifer until she saw the marks of her injuries. She then called out to her brother and to the catechumen: "Stand fast in the faith, and love one another. Do not let our sufferings be a stumbling block to you." By this time the fickle populace was clamoring for the women to come back into the open. This they did willingly, and after giving each other the kiss of peace, they were killed by the gladiators. Perpetua had to guide the sword of the nervous executioner to her throat. The story of these martyrs has been given in detail for it is typical of so many others. No saints were more universally honored in all the early Church calendars and martyrologies. Their names appear not only in the Philocalian Calendar[4] of Rome, but also in the Syriac Calendar. The names of Felicitas and Perpetua occur in the prayer "Nobis quoque peccatoribus" in the Canon of the Mass. In the fourth century their <Acts> were publicly read in the churches of Africa and were so highly esteemed that Augustine, bishop of Hippo, found it necessary to protest against their being placed on a level with the Scriptures.
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« Reply #153 on: December 24, 2010, 05:30:29 PM »

That makes too much sense, I'm starting to lean more towards your faith and this is helping out.

One problem I still cannot get over, what of the history of Christ? What proof do we have that he existed on Earth?

It's a major hurdle for me into believing.

There are several pieces of evidence but one of the strongest is the martyrdom of all the Apostles except for St. John.

They all went to a grisly death. Why would they have been willing to do that if Jesus was a made up peson? It would make no sense at all.

What do you think of this Marc? http://www.answering-christianity.com/abdullah_smith/apostle_martyrdoms.htm

What evidence do we have of their matyrdom?

Yes it seems if one was to look at Christianity historically you would have to look at the 'explosion' that occured at Jesus' Resurrection. I'm starting to feel had Jesus not risen, I don't believe that Christianity would have spread even at all without that event. I'm still doing more research on my end and I thank the above posters for sharing their information.
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« Reply #154 on: December 24, 2010, 05:57:56 PM »

What do you think of this Marc? http://www.answering-christianity.com/abdullah_smith/apostle_martyrdoms.htm

What evidence do we have of their matyrdom?

We do not have contemporaneous documentary evidence of the martyrdom of all the apostles. But I will argue that the evidence we do have makes it truly ridiculous to claim that these men did not suffer greatly and in all likelihood die for their beliefs.

James, the brother of John. James was one of the first apostles to join Jesus. The two brothers were fishing with their father Zebedee when Jesus called to them and they followed Him (Matthew 4:21-22). It certainly appears that James was with the rest of the disciples when Jesus appeared to them after His resurrection because the only disciple mentioned who was not there was Thomas (John 20:19-31). Plus, the Bible references many other appearances to the disciples as a group.

Acts 12:1-2 records the following:

"It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword."

Keep in mind that the Bible is a collection of books written during the same generation when these events took place. You can't exactly go around spreading rumors that James was executed by Herod when there are still people around to say, "No, he didn't, he fell off a cliff." Or worse yet, "He's not dead, I just had lunch with him last week!"

Also there is Flavius Josephus was a Jewish historian who lived from 37-101 A.D. He was not a Christian. But he was writing during the time that Christianity was first spreading around the Roman Empire.

In his work "Antiquities", Book XX, Chapter 9, Part 1, Josephus made the following entry:

"Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned."

This isn't the only record of James' martyrdom. Hegesippus was a Christian historian who lived from 110-180 A.D., within a generation of the church fathers (some estimates have John the apostle living until approximately 90 A.D.). Hegesippus' works are unfortunately lost, but they were not lost yet at the time another Christian historian was writing. Eusebius lived from 275 - 339 A.D., and he quoted several passages from Hegesippus in his works. One quote comes from the fifth book of Hegesippus' "Memoirs", and it says:

"12. The aforesaid Scribes and Pharisees therefore placed James upon the pinnacle of the temple, and cried out to him and said: 'You just one, in whom we ought all to have confidence, forasmuch as the people are led astray after Jesus, the crucified one, declare to us, what is the gate of Jesus.'

13. And he answered with a loud voice, 'Why do you ask me concerning Jesus, the Son of Man? He himself sits in heaven at the right hand of the great Power, and is about to come upon the clouds of heaven.'

14. And when many were fully convinced and gloried in the testimony of James, and said, 'Hosanna to the Son of David,' these same Scribes and Pharisees said again to one another, 'We have done badly in supplying such testimony to Jesus. But let us go up and throw him down, in order that they may be afraid to believe him.'

15. And they cried out, saying, 'Oh! oh! the just man is also in error.' And they fulfilled the Scripture written in Isaiah, 'Let us take away the just man, because he is troublesome to us: therefore they shall eat the fruit of their doings.'

16. So they went up and threw down the just man, and said to each other, 'Let us stone James the Just.' And they began to stone him, for he was not killed by the fall; but he turned and knelt down and said, 'I entreat you, Lord God our Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'"
Eusebius, Book II, Chapter 23, Parts 12-16.

There is certainly more detail in Hegesippus' version, but both end up with James being stoned.

So contrary to some assertions, we do have documentary evidence of the martyrdom of both James the brother of John and James the brother of Jesus. And understand that this treatment of Christian leaders was perfectly consistent with what we know about how Christians as a whole were being treated at the time.

Take, for example, this passage from Tacitus, a Roman (non-Christian) historian who lived from 55 - 117 A.D.:

"But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace."

The "conflagration" Tacitus is referring to is the burning of Rome, for which Emperor Nero blamed the Christians and inflicted "the most exquisite tortures" upon them.

Nero was Emperor from 54-68 A.D., the same time period when the early church fathers were spreading the Christian gospel. So it is during the lives of the early apostles that these "exquisite tortures" are taking place.

Considering the violent hatred that was spreading against Christianity, it defies reason to believe that the early apostles were not, at a minimum, heavily persecuted for their beliefs, and in all likelihood killed just like church tradition says they were (For all the persecutions that Paul faced even before he was martyred see 2 Corinthians 11:23-27).

The point of the argument holds true. Even if these apostles somehow escaped personal execution (a proposition that seems extremely unlikely considering the evidence), they clearly saw Christians being tortured and killed all around them. They must have lived every single day of their lives in fear that they would be next. They had every incentive to recant this "lie" if that is really what it was. But they didn't. All records we have show them continuing to preaching the gospel without even one record of any of them backing down.

People sometimes die for something that is untrue. But it is extremely unlikely that such a large group of people would be willing to be imprisoned, tortured, and killed over something they KNEW to be a lie. That's because they didn't make it up. After Jesus' death, these men clearly saw someone who, at a mimimum, we can conclude they believed to be the same man they had followed around and learned from for three years during Jesus' earthly ministry.
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« Reply #155 on: December 24, 2010, 06:23:54 PM »

That makes too much sense, I'm starting to lean more towards your faith and this is helping out.

One problem I still cannot get over, what of the history of Christ? What proof do we have that he existed on Earth?

It's a major hurdle for me into believing.

There are several pieces of evidence but one of the strongest is the martyrdom of all the Apostles except for St. John.

They all went to a grisly death. Why would they have been willing to do that if Jesus was a made up peson? It would make no sense at all.

What do you think of this Marc? http://www.answering-christianity.com/abdullah_smith/apostle_martyrdoms.htm

What evidence do we have of their matyrdom?

Yes it seems if one was to look at Christianity historically you would have to look at the 'explosion' that occured at Jesus' Resurrection. I'm starting to feel had Jesus not risen, I don't believe that Christianity would have spread even at all without that event. I'm still doing more research on my end and I thank the above posters for sharing their information.

You can find any opinion on the Internet that you care to find. It is absolutely necessary for Atheists and Anti-Christians to simply say that the Martyrdom of the Apostles was somehow made up. If it is True, then they are busted and would have to consider the life and resurrection of Jesus as a fact. Here we have near definitive evidence. Of course it must be denied, it's way too convincing to let stand.

How could this conspiracy have been carried out undetected? Where did the Apostles go? Was there a signal sent out and they all just disappeared into some wilderness, never to be seen or heard from again?

Where did Paul go? Why did his letters stop after he went to Rome? Did they really continue and were later burned to hush up the conspiracy??  Utter non-sense. The simplest answer is usually the one that is True. It's too broad of a broad conspiracy. It t would need to  have included too many people, all the Apostles save John, all of their personal following, most the the 70 Senior Disciples..all of their following...on and on. Pretty unwieldy. No?

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« Reply #156 on: December 24, 2010, 07:02:20 PM »

most the the 70 Senior Disciples..all of their following...on and on. Pretty unwieldy. No

Who are these 70 senior disciples?
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« Reply #157 on: December 24, 2010, 07:20:39 PM »

Tryingtoconvert,

I strongly recommend N.T. Wright's "The Resurrection of the Son of God."  It is a laborious read and nearly 750 pages, but it is well worth it.  After reading it, I was so thoroughly convinced of Christianity that I went to church and haven't stopped since.  There is no doubt in my mind that the man named Jesus who lived 2000 years ago did indeed rise from the dead. 

Here is a link to the book: http://www.amazon.com/Resurrection-Christian-Origins-Question-Vol/dp/0800626796
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« Reply #158 on: December 24, 2010, 09:58:50 PM »

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seventy_Disciples

The Seventy Disciples or Seventy-two Disciples (known in the Eastern Christian tradition as the Seventy Apostles) were early followers of Jesus mentioned in the Gospel of Luke 10:1-24. According to Luke, the only gospel in which they appear, Jesus appointed them and sent them out in pairs on a specific mission which is detailed in the text. In Western Christianity it is usual to refer to them as Disciples while in Eastern Christianity they are usually referred to as Apostles.[citation needed] Using the original Greek words, both titles are descriptive as an apostle is one sent on a mission whereas a disciple is a student, but the two traditions differ on the scope of the word apostle.
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Your idea has been debunked 1000 times already.. Maybe 1001 will be the charm
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« Reply #159 on: December 24, 2010, 10:05:16 PM »

That makes too much sense, I'm starting to lean more towards your faith and this is helping out.

One problem I still cannot get over, what of the history of Christ? What proof do we have that he existed on Earth?

It's a major hurdle for me into believing.

There are several pieces of evidence but one of the strongest is the martyrdom of all the Apostles except for St. John.

They all went to a grisly death. Why would they have been willing to do that if Jesus was a made up peson? It would make no sense at all.

What do you think of this Marc? http://www.answering-christianity.com/abdullah_smith/apostle_martyrdoms.htm

He has his own axe to grind:
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Most of the early martyrs of Christianity were Unitarians. The later Trinitarians were not killed as martyrs, but as criminals, drunkards, and fornicators etc


What evidence do we have of their matyrdom?

The earliest sources speak of it as common knowledge. Indeed, we have the Jewish and Roman pagan documetation of the persecusion of the Christians, in addition to the Christian and gnostic sources.  St. Clement, who knew the Apostles (desecribed by St. Paul as his fellow laborer in Phi. 4:3), writes from Rome around the year 95 (i.e. about 30 years after the martyrdom of SS. Peter and Paul, and before St. John, in Ephesus across the Aegean from Corinth, still lived)
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But not to dwell upon ancient examples, let us come to the most recent spiritual heroes. Let us take the noble examples furnished in our own generation. Through envy and jealousy the greatest and most righteous pillars [of the church] have been persecuted and put to death. Let us set before our eyes the illustrious apostles. Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labours; and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects. Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience.

To these men who spent their lives in the practice of holiness, there is to be added a great multitude of the elect, who, having through envy endured many indignities and tortures, furnished us with a most excellent example. Through envy, those women, the Danaids and Dircæ, being persecuted, after they had suffered terrible and unspeakable torments, finished the course of their faith with steadfastness, and though weak in body, received a noble reward. Envy has alienated wives from their husbands, and changed that saying of our father Adam, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. Genesis 2:23 Envy and strife have overthrown great cities, and rooted up mighty nations.
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1010.htm
This letter was received in Corinth and disseminated throughout the Mediterrean, in Egypt and Syria.

Around the same time, St.John writes in his Gopsel (21:)"17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go." 19 (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, "Follow me."

A decade later, St. Ignatius, who also knew the Apostles at Antioch (the original see of SS. Peter and Paul) and on his own way to Rome for martydom, mentions in passing
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I write to the Churches, and impress on them all, that I shall willingly die for God, unless you hinder me. I beseech of you not to show an unseasonable good-will towards me. Allow me to become food for the wild beasts, through whose instrumentality it will be granted me to attain to God. I am the wheat of God, and let me be ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ. Rather entice the wild beasts, that they may become my tomb, and may leave nothing of my body; so that when I have fallen asleep [in death], I may be no trouble to any one. Then shall I truly be a disciple of Christ, when the world shall not see so much as my body. Entreat Christ for me, that by these instruments I may be found a sacrifice [to God]. I do not, as Peter and Paul, issue commandments unto you. They were apostles; I am but a condemned man: they were free, while I am, even until now, a servant. But when I suffer, I shall be the freed-man of Jesus, and shall rise again emancipated in Him. And now, being a prisoner, I learn not to desire anything worldly or vain.
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0107.htm

St. Polycarp, who was the disciple of the Apostle John and personally knew St. Ignatius, and gives us a glimps around 110 about how knowledge of the martydoms spread
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Both you and Ignatius wrote to me, that if any one went [from this] into Syria, he should carry your letter with him; which request I will attend to if I find a fitting opportunity, either personally, or through some other acting for me, that your desire may be fulfilled. The Epistles of Ignatius written by him to us, and all the rest [of his Epistles] which we have by us, we have sent to you, as you requested. They are subjoined to this Epistle, and by them you may be greatly profited; for they treat of faith and patience, and all things that tend to edification in our Lord. Any more certain information you may have obtained respecting both Ignatius himself, and those that were with him, have the goodness to make known to us.
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0136.htm

St. Polycarp's Martyrdom is the earliest full eyewitness account we have (and well worth a read):
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The Church of God which sojourns at Smyrna, to the Church of God sojourning in Philomelium, and to all the congregations of the Holy and Catholic Church in every place: Mercy, peace, and love from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, be multiplied.

We have written to you, brethren, as to what relates to the martyrs, and especially to the blessed Polycarp, who put an end to the persecution, having, as it were, set a seal upon it by his martyrdom. For almost all the events that happened previously [to this one], took place that the Lord might show us from above a martyrdom becoming the Gospel. For he waited to be delivered up, even as the Lord had done, that we also might become his followers, while we look not merely at what concerns ourselves but have regard also to our neighbours. For it is the part of a true and well-founded love, not only to wish one's self to be saved, but also all the brethren.

All the martyrdoms, then, were blessed and noble which took place according to the will of God. For it becomes us who profess greater piety than others, to ascribe the authority over all things to God. And truly, who can fail to admire their nobleness of mind, and their patience, with that love towards their Lord which they displayed?— who, when they were so torn with scourges, that the frame of their bodies, even to the very inward veins and arteries, was laid open, still patiently endured, while even those that stood by pitied and bewailed them. But they reached such a pitch of magnanimity, that not one of them let a sigh or a groan escape them; thus proving to us all that those holy martyrs of Christ, at the very time when they suffered such torments, were absent from the body, or rather, that the Lord then stood by them, and communed with them. And, looking to the grace of Christ, they despised all the torments of this world, redeeming themselves from eternal punishment by [the suffering of] a single hour. For this reason the fire of their savage executioners appeared cool to them. For they kept before their view escape from that fire which is eternal and never shall be quenched, and looked forward with the eyes of their heart to those good things which are laid up for such as endure; things which ear has not heard, nor eye seen, neither have entered into the heart of man, 1 Corinthians 2:9 but were revealed by the Lord to them, inasmuch as they were no longer men, but had already become angels. And, in like manner, those who were condemned to the wild beasts endured dreadful tortures, being stretched out upon beds full of spikes, and subjected to various other kinds of torments, in order that, if it were possible, the tyrant might, by their lingering tortures, lead them to a denial [of Christ].

For the devil did indeed invent many things against them; but thanks be to God, he could not prevail over all. For the most noble Germanicus strengthened the timidity of others by his own patience, and fought heroically with the wild beasts. For, when the proconsul sought to persuade him, and urged him to take pity upon his age, he attracted the wild beast towards himself, and provoked it, being desirous to escape all the more quickly from an unrighteous and impious world. But upon this the whole multitude, marvelling at the nobility of mind displayed by the devout and godly race of Christians, cried out, Away with the Atheists [note: atheism was the official charge against the Christians] ; let Polycarp be sought out!....

....Now, as Polycarp was entering into the stadium, there came to him a voice from heaven, saying, Be strong, and show yourself a man, O Polycarp! No one saw who it was that spoke to him; but those of our brethren who were present heard the voice. And as he was brought forward, the tumult became great when they heard that Polycarp was taken. And when he came near, the proconsul asked him whether he was Polycarp. On his confessing that he was, [the proconsul] sought to persuade him to deny [Christ], saying, Have respect to your old age, and other similar things, according to their custom, [such as], Swear by the fortune of Cæsar; repent, and say, Away with the Atheists. But Polycarp, gazing with a stern countenance on all the multitude of the wicked heathen then in the stadium, and waving his hand towards them, while with groans he looked up to heaven, said, Away with the Atheists. Then, the proconsul urging him, and saying, Swear, and I will set you at liberty, reproach Christ; Polycarp declared, Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?

And when the proconsul yet again pressed him, and said, Swear by the fortune of Cæsar, he answered,

Since you are vainly urgent that, as you say, I should swear by the fortune of Cæsar, and pretend not to know who and what I am, hear me declare with boldness, I am a Christian. And if you wish to learn what the doctrines of Christianity are, appoint me a day, and you shall hear them.

The proconsul replied, Persuade the people. But Polycarp said,

To you I have thought it right to offer an account [of my faith]; for we are taught to give all due honour (which entails no injury upon ourselves) to the powers and authorities which are ordained of God. Romans 13:1-7; Titus 3:1 But as for these, I do not deem them worthy of receiving any account from me.

The proconsul then said to him, I have wild beasts at hand; to these will I cast you, unless you repent.

But he answered, Call them then, for we are not accustomed to repent of what is good in order to adopt that which is evil; and it is well for me to be changed from what is evil to what is righteous.

But again the proconsul said to him, I will cause you to be consumed by fire, seeing you despise the wild beasts, if you will not repent.

But Polycarp said, You threaten me with fire which burns for an hour, and after a little is extinguished, but are ignorant of the fire of the coming judgment and of eternal punishment, reserved for the ungodly. But why do you tarry? Bring forth what you will....

When he had pronounced this amen, and so finished his prayer, those who were appointed for the purpose kindled the fire. And as the flame blazed forth in great fury, we, to whom it was given to witness it, beheld a great miracle, and have been preserved that we might report to others what then took place. For the fire, shaping itself into the form of an arch, like the sail of a ship when filled with the wind, encompassed as by a circle the body of the martyr. And he appeared within not like flesh which is burnt, but as bread that is baked, or as gold and silver glowing in a furnace. Moreover, we perceived such a sweet odour [coming from the pile], as if frankincense or some such precious spices had been smoking there.

At length, when those wicked men perceived that his body could not be consumed by the fire, they commanded an executioner to go near and pierce him through with a dagger. And on his doing this, there came forth a dove, and a great quantity of blood, so that the fire was extinguished; and all the people wondered that there should be such a difference between the unbelievers and the elect, of whom this most admirable Polycarp was one, having in our own times been an apostolic and prophetic teacher, and bishop of the Catholic Church which is in Smyrna. For every word that went out of his mouth either has been or shall yet be accomplished.

But when the adversary of the race of the righteous, the envious, malicious, and wicked one, perceived the impressive nature of his martyrdom, and [considered] the blameless life he had led from the beginning, and how he was now crowned with the wreath of immortality, having beyond dispute received his reward, he did his utmost that not the least memorial of him should be taken away by us, although many desired to do this, and to become possessors of his holy flesh. For this end he suggested it to Nicetes, the father of Herod and brother of Alce, to go and entreat the governor not to give up his body to be buried, lest, said he, forsaking Him that was crucified, they begin to worship this one. This he said at the suggestion and urgent persuasion of the Jews, who also watched us, as we sought to take him out of the fire, being ignorant of this, that it is neither possible for us ever to forsake Christ, who suffered for the salvation of such as shall be saved throughout the whole world (the blameless one for sinners ), nor to worship any other. For Him indeed, as being the Son of God, we adore; but the martyrs, as disciples and followers of the Lord, we worthily love on account of their extraordinary affection towards their own King and Master, of whom may we also be made companions and fellow disciples!

The centurion then, seeing the strife excited by the Jews, placed the body in the midst of the fire, and consumed it. Accordingly, we afterwards took up his bones, as being more precious than the most exquisite jewels, and more purified than gold, and deposited them in a fitting place, whither, being gathered together, as opportunity is allowed us, with joy and rejoicing, the Lord shall grant us to celebrate the anniversary of his martyrdom, both in memory of those who have already finished their course, and for the exercising and preparation of those yet to walk in their steps.

This, then, is the account of the blessed Polycarp, who, being the twelfth that was martyred in Smyrna (reckoning those also of Philadelphia), yet occupies a place of his own in the memory of all men, insomuch that he is everywhere spoken of by the heathen themselves. He was not merely an illustrious teacher, but also a pre-eminent martyr, whose martyrdom all desire to imitate, as having been altogether consistent with the Gospel of Christ. For, having through patience overcome the unjust governor, and thus acquired the crown of immortality, he now, with the apostles and all the righteous [in heaven], rejoicingly glorifies God, even the Father, and blesses our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of our souls, the Governor of our bodies, and the Shepherd of the Catholic Church throughout the world.

Since, then, you requested that we would at large make you acquainted with what really took place, we have for the present sent you this summary account through our brother Marcus. When, therefore, you have yourselves read this Epistle, be pleased to send it to the brethren at a greater distance, that they also may glorify the Lord, who makes such choice of His own servants. To Him who is able to bring us all by His grace and goodness into his everlasting kingdom, through His only-begotten Son Jesus Christ, to Him be glory, and honour, and power, and majesty, for ever. Amen. Salute all the saints. They that are with us salute you, and Evarestus, who wrote this Epistle, with all his house.

Now, the blessed Polycarp suffered martyrdom on the second day of the month Xanthicus just begun, the seventh day before the Kalends of May, on the great Sabbath, at the eighth hour. He was taken by Herod, Philip the Trallian being high priest, Statius Quadratus being proconsul, but Jesus Christ being King for ever, to whom be glory, honour, majesty, and an everlasting throne, from generation to generation. Amen.

We wish you, brethren, all happiness, while you walk according to the doctrine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; with whom be glory to God the Father and the Holy Spirit, for the salvation of His holy elect, after whose example the blessed Polycarp suffered, following in whose steps may we too be found in the kingdom of Jesus Christ!

These things Caius transcribed from the copy of Irenæus (who was a disciple of Polycarp), having himself been intimate with Irenæus. And I Socrates transcribed them at Corinth from the copy of Caius. Grace be with you all.

And I again, Pionius, wrote them from the previously written copy, having carefully searched into them, and the blessed Polycarp having manifested them to me through a revelation, even as I shall show in what follows. I have collected these things, when they had almost faded away through the lapse of time, that the Lord Jesus Christ may also gather me along with His elect into His heavenly kingdom, to whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0102.htm

The Irenaeus, the disciple of Polycarp, went to Rome and thence to Lyons, where he became bishop. Familiar with the Traditions at Rome, he wrote of St. Clement, who first writes of the martydom of SS Peter and Paul at Rome.
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Clement was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles.
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103303.htm

The earliest compilation on the martyrdom of St. Peter, the Acts of SS. Peter and Paul, dates from about a century after the event. It
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And Peter, having come to the cross, said: Since my Lord Jesus Christ, who came down from the heaven upon the earth, was raised upon the cross upright, and He has deigned to call to heaven me, who am of the earth, my cross ought to be fixed head down most, so as to direct my feet towards heaven; for I am not worthy to be crucified like my Lord. Then, having reversed the cross, they nailed his feet up.

And the multitude was assembled reviling Cæsar, and wishing to kill him. But Peter restrained them, saying: A few days ago, being exhorted by the brethren, I was going away; and my Lord Jesus Christ met me, and having adored Him, I said, Lord, whither are You going? And He said to me, I am going to Rome to be crucified. And I said to Him, Lord, were You not crucified once for all? And the Lord answering, said, I saw you fleeing from death, and I wish to be crucified instead of you. And I said, Lord, I go; I fulfil Your command. And He said to me, Fear not, for I am with you. On this account, then, children, do not hinder my going; for already my feet are going on the road to heaven. Do not grieve, therefore, but rather rejoice with me, for today I receive the fruit of my labours. And thus speaking, he said: I thank You, good Shepherd, that the sheep which You have entrusted to me, sympathize with me; I ask, then, that with me they may have a part in Your kingdom. And having thus spoken, he gave up the ghost.
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0815.htm
http://books.google.com/books?id=v6IqqnEoN3QC&pg=PA271&dq=acts+of+peter+schneemelcher&hl=en&ei=nUkVTbO1PM79nAfs1OnlDQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCMQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=acts%20of%20peter%20schneemelcher&f=false
That it was compiled a century later is not a problem, as it is clear it is based on earlier material from the circles of SS. Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp and Irenaeus.  In comparison, the earliest account we have of the assasination of Julius Caesar is in Suetonius, 160+  years after the event. Suetonius, however, although from North Africa was well connected to the sentorial class and the emperors at Rome, and depends on the assassination account on Nikolaos of Damascus, a companion of Herod the Great and his son Herod Archelaus (with whom he went to Rome around the birth of Christ, nearly 50 years after the assination), who wrote the account 60 years after the assassination.

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Yes it seems if one was to look at Christianity historically you would have to look at the 'explosion' that occured at Jesus' Resurrection. I'm starting to feel had Jesus not risen, I don't believe that Christianity would have spread even at all without that event. I'm still doing more research on my end and I thank the above posters for sharing their information.
Most religions were state religions. Those founded by religious founders followed suit: Zarathustra had his King  Vištaspa, Buddha was a prince, Confucius served the lord of Lu, Muhammad founded the Islamic state at Medina, Joseph Smith was welcomed to form a state within the state of IL (he got killed when he overplayed his hand)etc. Christianity, in contrast, remained a capital offense everywhere for nearly three centuries after its founder's execution.
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« Reply #160 on: December 24, 2010, 10:08:01 PM »

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seventy_Disciples

The Seventy Disciples or Seventy-two Disciples (known in the Eastern Christian tradition as the Seventy Apostles) were early followers of Jesus mentioned in the Gospel of Luke 10:1-24. According to Luke, the only gospel in which they appear, Jesus appointed them and sent them out in pairs on a specific mission which is detailed in the text. In Western Christianity it is usual to refer to them as Disciples while in Eastern Christianity they are usually referred to as Apostles.[citation needed] Using the original Greek words, both titles are descriptive as an apostle is one sent on a mission whereas a disciple is a student, but the two traditions differ on the scope of the word apostle.
They are the symbolic counterpart to the 12. The Twelve represent the Twelve tribes of Israel, the 70/72 represent the 72 nations of the Table of Nations in Genesis 10, i.e. all the Gentiles, the combined episcopate representing the fulfillment of the OT and the Catholic, i.e. Universal, nature of this fullfillment.
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Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
and urgent strife sheds blood.
If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
if you spit on it, it will be put out;
                           and both come out of your mouth
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« Reply #161 on: December 24, 2010, 10:50:39 PM »

Tryingtoconvert,

I strongly recommend N.T. Wright's "The Resurrection of the Son of God."  It is a laborious read and nearly 750 pages, but it is well worth it.  After reading it, I was so thoroughly convinced of Christianity that I went to church and haven't stopped since.  There is no doubt in my mind that the man named Jesus who lived 2000 years ago did indeed rise from the dead. 

Here is a link to the book: http://www.amazon.com/Resurrection-Christian-Origins-Question-Vol/dp/0800626796

What do you think of this article?
http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/rev_ntwrong.htm
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« Reply #162 on: December 24, 2010, 10:54:38 PM »

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seventy_Disciples

The Seventy Disciples or Seventy-two Disciples (known in the Eastern Christian tradition as the Seventy Apostles) were early followers of Jesus mentioned in the Gospel of Luke 10:1-24. According to Luke, the only gospel in which they appear, Jesus appointed them and sent them out in pairs on a specific mission which is detailed in the text. In Western Christianity it is usual to refer to them as Disciples while in Eastern Christianity they are usually referred to as Apostles.[citation needed] Using the original Greek words, both titles are descriptive as an apostle is one sent on a mission whereas a disciple is a student, but the two traditions differ on the scope of the word apostle.
They are the symbolic counterpart to the 12. The Twelve represent the Twelve tribes of Israel, the 70/72 represent the 72 nations of the Table of Nations in Genesis 10, i.e. all the Gentiles, the combined episcopate representing the fulfillment of the OT and the Catholic, i.e. Universal, nature of this fullfillment.

Wow that's incredible. Do you have any documents that I can look into with more symbolism and such with the Bible; like the example you just mentioned? So I guess the 12 Apostles are lumped into that 70 number instead of 82?
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« Reply #163 on: December 25, 2010, 12:02:03 AM »

Tryingtoconvert,

I strongly recommend N.T. Wright's "The Resurrection of the Son of God."  It is a laborious read and nearly 750 pages, but it is well worth it.  After reading it, I was so thoroughly convinced of Christianity that I went to church and haven't stopped since.  There is no doubt in my mind that the man named Jesus who lived 2000 years ago did indeed rise from the dead. 

Here is a link to the book: http://www.amazon.com/Resurrection-Christian-Origins-Question-Vol/dp/0800626796

What do you think of this article?
http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/rev_ntwrong.htm
Not much.

Little pressed for time right now (going to Vigil), but Robert Price suffers from the thirst to squeeze apples into orange juice
Quote
Tryggve Mettinger argues that there is a scholarly consensus that the category is inappropriate.[6] The chief criticism charges it with reductionism, insofar as it subsumes a range of disparate myths under a single category and ignores important distinctions. Marcel Detienne argues that it risks making Christianity the standard by which all religion is judged, since death and resurrection are more central to Christianity than many other faiths.[7] Jonathan Z. Smith, a scholar of comparative religions, writes the category is "largely a misnomer based on imaginative reconstructions and exceedingly late or highly ambiguous texts."[8]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life-death-rebirth_deity#Criticism
I can personally attest that Jonathan Z. Smith is no Christian apologist, though sitting in his clases I saw that he is nowhere as antichristian as many of his students. He sums up an important difference: whereas all the supposed rebirth deities were raised, Christ is the only one who is claimed to have risen, i.e. on His own.

And of course the obvious difference that has been brought up: such cults produced no martyrs, and withered away, whereas the preaching of the Fishermen eventually triumphed over the rulers of the world.
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Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
and urgent strife sheds blood.
If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
if you spit on it, it will be put out;
                           and both come out of your mouth
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« Reply #164 on: December 25, 2010, 12:39:38 AM »

Tryingtoconvert,

I strongly recommend N.T. Wright's "The Resurrection of the Son of God."  It is a laborious read and nearly 750 pages, but it is well worth it.  After reading it, I was so thoroughly convinced of Christianity that I went to church and haven't stopped since.  There is no doubt in my mind that the man named Jesus who lived 2000 years ago did indeed rise from the dead. 

Here is a link to the book: http://www.amazon.com/Resurrection-Christian-Origins-Question-Vol/dp/0800626796

What do you think of this article?
http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/rev_ntwrong.htm
Not much.

Little pressed for time right now (going to Vigil), but Robert Price suffers from the thirst to squeeze apples into orange juice
Quote
Tryggve Mettinger argues that there is a scholarly consensus that the category is inappropriate.[6] The chief criticism charges it with reductionism, insofar as it subsumes a range of disparate myths under a single category and ignores important distinctions. Marcel Detienne argues that it risks making Christianity the standard by which all religion is judged, since death and resurrection are more central to Christianity than many other faiths.[7] Jonathan Z. Smith, a scholar of comparative religions, writes the category is "largely a misnomer based on imaginative reconstructions and exceedingly late or highly ambiguous texts."[8]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life-death-rebirth_deity#Criticism
I can personally attest that Jonathan Z. Smith is no Christian apologist, though sitting in his clases I saw that he is nowhere as antichristian as many of his students. He sums up an important difference: whereas all the supposed rebirth deities were raised, Christ is the only one who is claimed to have risen, i.e. on His own.

And of course the obvious difference that has been brought up: such cults produced no martyrs, and withered away, whereas the preaching of the Fishermen eventually triumphed over the rulers of the world.

So have you seen "The Zeitgeist" movie with paralells to other myths at the time? What are the issues Price has?
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« Reply #165 on: December 25, 2010, 01:38:09 AM »

So have you seen "The Zeitgeist" movie with paralells to other myths at the time?
http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/2007/12/zeitgeist-of-zeitgeist-movie.html
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« Reply #166 on: December 25, 2010, 04:29:37 AM »

So have you seen "The Zeitgeist" movie with paralells to other myths at the time?

Never heard of the movie. I don't do trendy.  My program (BA through PhD) at the University of Chicago was in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, starting in Egyptology and ending in Islamic Thought.  I'm familiar with the attempts to squeeze parallels into that material from my studies.

Quote
What are the issues Price has?
The ennui of academeia. I don't recall reading Wright, but it is interesting how Price prattles on, and on, and on, about Wright's verbosity.

Price slithers around with the other Jesus seminar ilk, which is why he attacks Wright
Quote
Wright always adopts the stance as of a career historian in the field of ancient history, as if approaching the gospel texts as an admiring outsider. In fact, he is a bishop of the Church of England celebrated there for his reactionary theological opinions. He has expressed these opinions in a number of books which seek to rehabilitate pre-critical views of the Bible by a sophistical appeal to recent scholarly research.
without mentioning that he, Price, is in the same denomination as Bishop Wright, just the "Bishop" Spong branch. So this is a sibling squabble in many ways.

My favorite pot-calling-kettle-black of Dr. Price is his (mis)characterization of Bp. Wright
Quote
His smirking smugness is everywhere evident, especially in his condescension toward the great critics and critical methods of the last two centuries, all of which he strives to counteract.
It's not Bp. Wright's smugness that oozes between these words.

Throughout the review Price stubbornly refuses to admit that he is holding to theories even academia has discredited and abandoned, the pontifications of his Jesus seminar haven't attracted a following and are heading for obscurity, and his "historical Jesus" is a mythological construct which has nothing to do with history, in contrast with the Jesus of the Church.

the link xariskai has provided makes a number of good points.
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« Reply #167 on: December 25, 2010, 04:55:23 AM »

Robert M Price considers himself to be a "Christian Atheist" (Whatever that means) and from wiki: arguing in 2009 that Jesus may have existed but "unless someone discovers his diary or his skeleton, we'll never know."

Yes enjoy waiting for that discovery of the skeleton of the risen Christ. Roll Eyes

It amazes me how these psudeohistorians will grasp at anything to try and disprove Jesus using not only contemporary methods of research but also try to weigh in "contemporary" evidence. Maybe one the Jesus Seminar actually stops trying to find a "historical Jesus" which is a myth they made up for themselves, perhaps they can then begin resaerching the true historical Jesus. I doubt, however, that will happen. 20 years of trying to find a man that they have mythologized themselves is quite revealing on any sort of scholarly 'credibility' those in the group have.
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« Reply #168 on: December 25, 2010, 05:30:18 AM »

Thanks for the link, yeah I'm a bit skeptical on the next modern thing to debunk Christ just because of the actualy people they interview and how much credibility they have.

ialmisry so your degree carried you through those eastern languages and cultures, so a long the way I assume you learned about the different religions and paganism?

Yeah that was a criticsm I had of the review was he was basically attacking the way Wright was verbose about the Resurrection but instead of actually dealing with the facts Wright would bring up. I'll have to pick up Wright's book someday.

Also what would you take of the below, there has been quite a bit of controversy on Paul...and just a snippet from Wikipedia:
Quote
Elaine Pagels, professor of religion at Princeton University and an authority on Gnosticism, argues that Paul was a Gnostic [78] and that the anti-Gnostic Pastoral Epistles were "pseudo-Pauline" forgeries written to rebut this.
British Jewish scholar Hyam Maccoby contends that the Paul as described in the Book of Acts and the view of Paul gleaned from his own writings are very different people. Some difficulties have been noted in the account of his life. Paul as described in the Book of Acts is much more interested in factual history, less in theology; ideas such as justification by faith are absent as are references to the Spirit, according to Maccoby. He also points out that there are no references to John the Baptist in the Pauline Epistles, although Paul mentions him several times in the Book of Acts.
Others have objected that the language of the speeches is too Lukan in style to reflect anyone else's words. Moreover, some have argued that the speeches of Peter and Paul are too much alike, and that especially Paul's are too distinct from his letters to reflect a true Pauline source.[79] Despite these suspicions, historian-attorney Christopher Price concludes that Luke's style in Acts is representative of those ancient historians known for accurately recording speeches in their works. Examination of several of the major speeches in Acts reveals that while the author smoothed out the Greek in some cases, he clearly relied on preexisting material to reconstruct his speeches. He did not believe himself at liberty to invent material, but attempted to accurately record the reality of the speeches in Acts.[79]
F. C. Baur (1792–1860), professor of theology at Tübingen in Germany, the first scholar to critique Acts and the Pauline Epistles, and founder of the Tübingen School of theology, argued that Paul, as the "Apostle to the Gentiles", was in violent opposition to the original 12 Apostles. Baur considers the Acts of the Apostles were late and unreliable. This debate has continued ever since, with Adolf Deissmann (1866–1937) and Richard Reitzenstein (1861–1931) emphasising Paul's Greek inheritance and Albert Schweitzer stressing his dependence on Judaism.


A statue of Paul holding a scroll (symbolising the Scriptures) and the sword (symbolising his martyrdom)
Maccoby theorizes that Paul synthesized Judaism, Gnosticism, and mysticism to create Christianity as a cosmic savior religion. According to Maccoby, Paul's Pharisaism was his own invention, though actually he was probably associated with the Sadducees. Maccoby attributes the origins of Christian anti-Semitism to Paul and claims that Paul's view of women, though inconsistent, reflects his Gnosticism in its misogynist aspects.[80]
Professor Robert Eisenman of California State University, Long Beach argues that Paul was a member of the family of Herod the Great.[81] Professor Eisenman makes a connection between Paul and an individual identified by Josephus as "Saulus," a "kinsman of Agrippa."[82] Another oft-cited element of the case for Paul as a member of Herod's family is found in Romans 16:11 where Paul writes, "Greet Herodion, my kinsman." This is a minority view in the academic community.
Among the critics of Paul the Apostle was Thomas Jefferson who wrote that Paul was the "first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus."[83] Howard Brenton's 2005 play Paul takes a skeptical view of his conversion.
F.F. Powell argues that Paul, in his epistles, made use of many of the ideas of the Greek philosopher Plato, sometimes even using the same metaphors and language.[84] For example, in Phaedrus, Plato has Socrates saying that the heavenly ideals are perceived as though "through a glass dimly."[85] These words are echoed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:12.
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« Reply #169 on: December 25, 2010, 01:50:50 PM »

Thanks for the link, yeah I'm a bit skeptical on the next modern thing to debunk Christ just because of the actualy people they interview and how much credibility they have.

ialmisry so your degree carried you through those eastern languages and cultures, so a long the way I assume you learned about the different religions and paganism?
Yeah, that and like the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there, I spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas (Acts 17:21).

btw, you might want to try some of the podcasts here
http://ancientfaith.com/listen

Quote
Yeah that was a criticsm I had of the review was he was basically attacking the way Wright was verbose about the Resurrection but instead of actually dealing with the facts Wright would bring up. I'll have to pick up Wright's book someday.

Also what would you take of the below, there has been quite a bit of controversy on Paul...and just a snippet from Wikipedia:
Quote
Elaine Pagels, professor of religion at Princeton University and an authority on Gnosticism, argues that Paul was a Gnostic [78] and that the anti-Gnostic Pastoral Epistles were "pseudo-Pauline" forgeries written to rebut this.
British Jewish scholar Hyam Maccoby contends that the Paul as described in the Book of Acts and the view of Paul gleaned from his own writings are very different people. Some difficulties have been noted in the account of his life. Paul as described in the Book of Acts is much more interested in factual history, less in theology; ideas such as justification by faith are absent as are references to the Spirit, according to Maccoby. He also points out that there are no references to John the Baptist in the Pauline Epistles, although Paul mentions him several times in the Book of Acts.
Others have objected that the language of the speeches is too Lukan in style to reflect anyone else's words. Moreover, some have argued that the speeches of Peter and Paul are too much alike, and that especially Paul's are too distinct from his letters to reflect a true Pauline source.[79] Despite these suspicions, historian-attorney Christopher Price concludes that Luke's style in Acts is representative of those ancient historians known for accurately recording speeches in their works. Examination of several of the major speeches in Acts reveals that while the author smoothed out the Greek in some cases, he clearly relied on preexisting material to reconstruct his speeches. He did not believe himself at liberty to invent material, but attempted to accurately record the reality of the speeches in Acts.[79]
F. C. Baur (1792–1860), professor of theology at Tübingen in Germany, the first scholar to critique Acts and the Pauline Epistles, and founder of the Tübingen School of theology, argued that Paul, as the "Apostle to the Gentiles", was in violent opposition to the original 12 Apostles. Baur considers the Acts of the Apostles were late and unreliable. This debate has continued ever since, with Adolf Deissmann (1866–1937) and Richard Reitzenstein (1861–1931) emphasising Paul's Greek inheritance and Albert Schweitzer stressing his dependence on Judaism.

A statue of Paul holding a scroll (symbolising the Scriptures) and the sword (symbolising his martyrdom)
Maccoby theorizes that Paul synthesized Judaism, Gnosticism, and mysticism to create Christianity as a cosmic savior religion. According to Maccoby, Paul's Pharisaism was his own invention, though actually he was probably associated with the Sadducees. Maccoby attributes the origins of Christian anti-Semitism to Paul and claims that Paul's view of women, though inconsistent, reflects his Gnosticism in its misogynist aspects.[80]
Professor Robert Eisenman of California State University, Long Beach argues that Paul was a member of the family of Herod the Great.[81] Professor Eisenman makes a connection between Paul and an individual identified by Josephus as "Saulus," a "kinsman of Agrippa."[82] Another oft-cited element of the case for Paul as a member of Herod's family is found in Romans 16:11 where Paul writes, "Greet Herodion, my kinsman." This is a minority view in the academic community.
Among the critics of Paul the Apostle was Thomas Jefferson who wrote that Paul was the "first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus."[83] Howard Brenton's 2005 play Paul takes a skeptical view of his conversion.
F.F. Powell argues that Paul, in his epistles, made use of many of the ideas of the Greek philosopher Plato, sometimes even using the same metaphors and language.[84] For example, in Phaedrus, Plato has Socrates saying that the heavenly ideals are perceived as though "through a glass dimly."[85] These words are echoed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:12.
This shouldn't be a surprise, but since the Jesus seminar and the Pagelsites don't know the Bible, I see how it is.

St. Paul's home town was a Greek city with Roman citizenship, something that St. Paul points out several times. His native language was Greek, and we know from his speech in Athens that he had mastered it, and its literature.

I'm always amazed how "scholars" can doubt St. Paul's conversion, where the surviving evidence of the first century show that followers of St. Peter, St. James and the rest of the Aposltes were fully integrated with the followers of St. Paul and integrated into one preaching (e.g. Acts, the Epistles of Peter, the Epistles of SS. Clement and Ignatius).  We know that some were not, that some Judaizers saw St. James as a seperate figure from St. Paul, whom they castigated, just like some of the followers of St. John the Baptist did not join the Church and formed their own religion. One can argue that these latter groups got it right, but you cannot do so from the first century literature of the Church. The heretics had their own canon, something the Jesus seminar overlooks. No community ever, let alone the first centuries of the Church, ever accepted the 4 Orthodox gospels AND the Gospel of Thomas as scripture. It was always either/or, until the Jesus seminar thought otherwise. Pagels and the rest are perpetuallin mourning that the early gnostics died out, never to rise, Pagels et alia merely repeating their mistakes.

It seems that these "scholars" on St. Paul don't pay attention to the fact that most if not all of St. Paul's recorded speeches are to non-Christians, whereas the Epistles are all to believers.  Hence a difference.
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« Reply #170 on: December 25, 2010, 03:45:38 PM »

What I don't understand is why these "scholars" hold so much weight in modern times, when it's clear that their "scholasism" is lacking. Why are they so adamant in disproving Christianity, it seems like it''s the only religion that always gets the criticsm but you can't attack the Jews! Oh no that's anti-semitism and it's not allowed! It's such bs hypocrisy. Sure I'm contradicting myself here with my earlier postings, and I apologize for my immaturity on them, but the more I keep learning about the faith, more so historically, the more I see these "scholars" trying to grab onto anything. It's amazing how hard they try. What's worse is they, like you pointed out Price's issue, hold to these theories which have been discredited a long time ago.

The 18th century really screwed us up.

I'll look at that website, iamlsiry, but what podcasts would you recommend for me to listen to?
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« Reply #171 on: December 25, 2010, 06:04:58 PM »

Merry Christmas, TtC.
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« Reply #172 on: December 26, 2010, 02:59:42 AM »

Quote
Quote from: TryingtoConvert on December 24, 2010, 11:39:38 PM
So have you seen "The Zeitgeist" movie with paralells to other myths at the time?

Never heard of the movie. I don't do trendy.  My program (BA through PhD) at the University of Chicago was in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, starting in Egyptology and ending in Islamic Thought.  I'm familiar with the attempts to squeeze parallels into that material from my studies.



http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/JesusEvidenceCrucifiedSaviors.htm
Please read this entire article. Very helpful with issues of certain "parallels".
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« Reply #173 on: December 27, 2010, 03:04:38 AM »

Tryingtoconvert,

I strongly recommend N.T. Wright's "The Resurrection of the Son of God."  It is a laborious read and nearly 750 pages, but it is well worth it.  After reading it, I was so thoroughly convinced of Christianity that I went to church and haven't stopped since.  There is no doubt in my mind that the man named Jesus who lived 2000 years ago did indeed rise from the dead. 

Here is a link to the book: http://www.amazon.com/Resurrection-Christian-Origins-Question-Vol/dp/0800626796

What do you think of this article?
http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/rev_ntwrong.htm
Not much.

Little pressed for time right now (going to Vigil), but Robert Price suffers from the thirst to squeeze apples into orange juice
Quote
Tryggve Mettinger argues that there is a scholarly consensus that the category is inappropriate.[6] The chief criticism charges it with reductionism, insofar as it subsumes a range of disparate myths under a single category and ignores important distinctions. Marcel Detienne argues that it risks making Christianity the standard by which all religion is judged, since death and resurrection are more central to Christianity than many other faiths.[7] Jonathan Z. Smith, a scholar of comparative religions, writes the category is "largely a misnomer based on imaginative reconstructions and exceedingly late or highly ambiguous texts."[8]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life-death-rebirth_deity#Criticism
I can personally attest that Jonathan Z. Smith is no Christian apologist, though sitting in his clases I saw that he is nowhere as antichristian as many of his students. He sums up an important difference: whereas all the supposed rebirth deities were raised, Christ is the only one who is claimed to have risen, i.e. on His own.

And of course the obvious difference that has been brought up: such cults produced no martyrs, and withered away, whereas the preaching of the Fishermen eventually triumphed over the rulers of the world.

So have you seen "The Zeitgeist" movie with paralells to other myths at the time? What are the issues Price has?

Yes I've seen Zeitgeist  Roll Eyes

Death and rebirth cycles are everywhere in nature.  It's not a huge shocker to find out that ancient peoples all over the world observed this and incorporated it into their own myths.

Yes Egypt has a got that dies and comes back.  So does Hinduism.  Doesn't mean someone stole it from someone else.  It's kind of an obvious idea seeing that cycles of death and rebirth are found everywhere in the natural world.

Can I personally exhort you to spend at least as much time with actual religious texts as you do watching crummy internet documentaries?  The answers you get depend on the kinds of questions you ask.
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« Reply #174 on: December 27, 2010, 03:06:04 AM »

Also both Jesus and Laozi were ostensibly born to virgins.  Does that prove the early Christians copy the Chinese?  No it does not.
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« Reply #175 on: December 27, 2010, 05:32:02 AM »

Terms to be defined:

Act: That which, in the respect and at the time being discussed, is the case.

Potency: That which, in the respect and at the time being discussed, may be the case, but is not.

Change: The realization of a potential state of affairs by an actual state of affairs.

Now then.

Whatever changes has its origins in that which exists, because only that which exists is capable of changing, or of effecting a causal power of change in other entities.

An effect cannot be the cause of itself, because then it would be in a state of act and potency in the same respect and at the same time. This is a contradiction. As such, for every change, there is an effect, and a cause, the cause representing an actuality anterior to the effect, and the effect representing a potentiality realized by that actuality.

For anything which is the case, it may be one of two ways: This state of affairs may have been caused to be, or this state of affairs may always have been. However, if it has always been, then it has been for an actual infinite in time. Now an actual infinite cannot be completed by successive addition. However, the temporal events of the past have been completed by successive addition. Therefore, nothing which has extension in spacetime has always been the case. As such, it follows that everything which admits of extension in spacetime admits of causal explanation.

Now regarding the causal chain of events, it cannot be an infinite regress, because once again, an actual infinite cannot be completed by successive addition. However, the causal chain of the past has been completed by successive addition. Therefore, it is not an infinite regress. As such, an uncaused cause is necessary.

If every causal relationship is act realizing potency, then a first cause must be an entity of pure act, containing no potency, in order to have the ability to cause without being caused. What are the qualities of an entity of pure act?

An entity of pure act must not have extension in spacetime, because whatever has extension of spacetime admits of causal explanation.

There can only be one entity of pure act, because pure act is pure existence. However, existence does not admit of differentiation with existence qua existence. Therefore there is only one entity of pure act.

An entity of pure act must be perfect, and perfectly simple, for lacking any potentiality, it represents only the pure act of being, and can exist in no other way than just how it does.

Finally, an entity of pure act must not be subject to the laws of cause and effect, because the laws of cause and effect govern potency realized in act - but an entity of pure act has no potency, and therefore is immune from such laws.

This is what men call God.
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« Reply #176 on: December 27, 2010, 02:15:09 PM »

How about this classic chestnut by Epicurus, it always seemed to confound me:

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?”
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« Reply #177 on: December 27, 2010, 02:31:46 PM »

Also both Jesus and Laozi were ostensibly born to virgins.  Does that prove the early Christians copy the Chinese?  No it does not.

I think i read that it is scientifically possible for a  human child to be born of a Virgin Mother. Very very rare, but possible. Who knew?
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« Reply #178 on: December 27, 2010, 02:42:47 PM »

Also both Jesus and Laozi were ostensibly born to virgins.  Does that prove the early Christians copy the Chinese?  No it does not.

I think i read that it is scientifically possible for a  human child to be born of a Virgin Mother. Very very rare, but possible. Who knew?
Huh

None that I heard of.  Never happened (except with Christ).  Even if one was to do some sort of in vitro gene placement from let's say two females, you get imprinting diseases.
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« Reply #179 on: December 27, 2010, 07:28:16 PM »

Also both Jesus and Laozi were ostensibly born to virgins.  Does that prove the early Christians copy the Chinese?  No it does not.

I think i read that it is scientifically possible for a  human child to be born of a Virgin Mother. Very very rare, but possible. Who knew?
Huh

None that I heard of.  Never happened (except with Christ).  Even if one was to do some sort of in vitro gene placement from let's say two females, you get imprinting diseases.


This is not the article I originally read but it seems informative. A human virginal birth is theoretically possible. The odds are very long, but possible.

http://www.slate.com/id/2179865/
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