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Author Topic: Why Jews Dont Believe in Jesus - Answered.  (Read 15782 times) Average Rating: 0
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EkhristosAnesti
'I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust."' - Psalm 91:2
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Pope St Kyrillos VI


« on: March 02, 2005, 09:07:38 AM »

Since I dont intend for this particular topic to be personal, I will not address it to any particular person, and would appreciate anyone's participation in this discussion (despite the fact it is in response to a particular link which was posted by our recent forum member and Jewish friend MBZ).

In response to the inquiry concerning the Jewish view of Jesus, posed to MBZ on a recent thread by copticorthodoxboy, the following weblink was given:

http://www.aish.com/jewishissues/jewishsociety/Why_Jews_Dont_Believe_In_Jesus.asp

I believe thoroughly in inter-faith dialogue, and in understanding not only the doctrine of other faiths, but their position with regards to the doctrine of our own selves. The above link is a good and typical example of the general reasons why Jews dont believe in Jesus The Christ, and I have keenly sought to answer the objections presented (except for one sticky point, in which i took a shortcut by linking to a very schorlarly article which addresses the issues in question). If my fellow Orthodox brethren see anything that they can elaborate/expand on or something they feel they need to correct or fine tune, that would be greatly appreciated.

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1. JESUS DID NOT FULFILL THE MESSIANIC PROPHECIES

What is the Messiah supposed to accomplish? The Bible says that he will:

A. Build the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28).


Firstly, lets not make the flawed assumption, that Jewish thought on the identity and function of the Messiah, is/has-been unanimous. Whilst Rabbi Shraga Simmons (who will be referred to as 'the author' from now on) maintains that the Messiah’s job was to rebuild the temple, many traditional Jews would disagree with him - and certainly, I believe the scriptures do also.

I understand that Maimonides, speaking a millennium after Christ’s advent, placed much stress on the relationship between the Messiah and the building of a temple; but we should bear in an open mind, for the sake of objectivity, that there may have been some anti-Christian bias, influencing this very emphasis - and thus we should seek to explore how others interpreted the Messiah’s mission, in the context of the relevant Messianic passages. If we look at the Tanakh in its entirety, there's very few scriptures that mention anything about the rebuilding of a temple, and the few that do, are in reference to the second temple.

The first obvious flaw in the above objection presented, that needs to be addressed, is the fact that scholars and historians have proven that there was Messianic expectation amongst many of the religious traditional Jews of Christ’s day i.e. That the Messiah would come in their lifetime - during the second temple period. Obviously then, they were not expecting the building of a third temple, since the second temple was already standing! What we do find however, is the fact that rather than expecting the Messiah to rebuild any temple, they were expecting His visitation to His temple!

If we read Haggai 2:6-9, we discover that there is something about the second temple being greater in glory than the first. Considering that the first temple was ascribed with 5 unique features lacking in the second temple; we are left wandering what it is about the second temple that makes it greater in glory. Certainly the rabbinic traditions were struggling to find an adequate answer to this puzzle, and the standard answers were certainly not plausible. Amidst all their attempts to explain this issue on their own, lies the very answer in Malachi 3:1-5  (a passage recognized to be messianic by famous medieval commentators David Kimchi and Metsudat David). Here we find that the Messiah would visit the second temple! The scriptures speak plainly.

Looking at Ezekiel 37:26-28 specifically however, it clearly says absolutely nothing about the Messiah building any sort of temple:

"I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. Then the nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever."

Looking at the wider context, namely considering chapters 44 - 46, the Messiah is only said to worship there. In fact the very temple in question, is not said to be built by anyone at all, but rather it is revealed to Ezekiel in a vision, already built and established. This is certainly the view of certain leading Rabbinic authorities, regarding the third temple. Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki), Tasafot (Sukkah 41a), and traditional Jewish sources such as Midrash Tanchuma, Pekedei, maintain that the third temple is “the sanctuary of God, established by your hands.” - One that is already built and waiting in the heavens to be revealed. Such a view is right on line with the temple witnessed by the apostle John, as depicted in the book of Revelations (especially Chapter 21).

The author then points out three prophecies which we as Christians maintain, will be fulfilled by Christ upon His second coming, namely:

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B. Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6).

C. Usher in an era of world peace, and end all hatred, oppression, suffering and disease. As it says: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall man learn war anymore." (Isaiah 2:4)

D. Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel, which will unite humanity as one. As it says: "God will be King over all the world -- on that day, God will be One and His Name will be One" (Zechariah 14:9).


He then says:

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Christians counter that Jesus will fulfill these in the Second Coming, but Jewish sources show that the Messiah will fulfill the prophecies outright; in the Bible no concept of a second coming exists.


Again, the objector makes an implicit assumption that Jews have been unanimous regarding their conception of who the Messiah, and what he will accomplish, and how he will accomplish it, by conveniently slotting his view into a nice little box neatly labeled with the very generalized title of “What Jewish sources say.”

Again, Jewish sources say a range of things. Scholars recognise that traditional Judaism has developed at least 3 differing viewpoints with regards to the Messiah. The first, is the belief that there will in fact be two Messiah’s (a view held especially by the religious Jews of Christ’s day) - a priestly one from the line of Aaron, who would suffer and die, and a Davidic King who would rule and reign victoriously. The second view holds, that the nature of the Messiah’s coming is contingent upon the nature of our behaviour i.e. if we are righteous, he will come in glory with the clouds of heaven; if we are sinful, he will come lowly on a donkey. The third view sees a potential messiah in each generation.

Notice how none of the above options, fulfill the authors criteria of a “One Messiah fulfilling all prophecies at one time”.

The New Testament reveals to us, that there is only one Messiah, Jesus The Christ, who functions as priest, prophet, and King - The Messiah who according to the scriptures, was born into the world at the requisite specified time; a time where his generation was not worthy to receive him. Hence he entered Jerusalem lowly on a donkey, to be betrayed and rejected -  to suffer, die and rise again on the third day. He reigns supreme, sovereign over the universe, sitting at the right hand of God, who is to come again, as The Son of man, on the clouds of glory, in victory and triumph to establish justice and judgement.

All the above features mentioned are evident in the Hebrew scriptures, and were recognized in extra-Biblical Jewish literature. The fact the One Messiah, would carry out these functions in two periods, certainly makes more sense than the above propositions of the Rabbi’s who tried to reconcile the fact the Messiah is presented with apparently contradictory attributes.

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2) JESUS DID NOT EMBODY THE PERSONAL QUALIFICATIONS OF MESSIAH

A. MESSIAH AS PROPHET

The Messiah will become the greatest prophet in history, second only to Moses. (Targum - Isaiah 11:2; Maimonides - Yad Teshuva 9:2)


Jesus' prophetic office was foretold in the writings of Moses (Deueronomyt. 18 cf. Acts 3:23) and the prophets (e.g. Malachi 3:1-2); and was verified through the miracles he performed. Though a prophet is usually one who foretells the future, in its extended sense as it is applied to Christ, it is one who reveals the will of God, by speaking the very words of God (John 8:26-28; 12:49, 50; 14:10, 24; 15:15). Christ functioned as a prophet in the Old Testament (1 Peter 1:11, 3:18-20), during His earthly ministry, and continued this function by operating the Holy Spirit through the apostles after His ascension (John 14:26, 16:12-14, Acts 1:1) which empowered them to preach The Word and inspired them to write the New Testament.

In His uniqueness as The only-begotten Son of God, Jesus was not merely a messenger of the divine revelation (as all the other prophets), but was Himself the very source of divine revelation. Rather than saying, as the prophets of the Old Testament did, `Thus says the Lord..,' Jesus could begin speaking with the divine authority, making statements such as, `But I say unto you ' (Matthew 5:22).
The Old Testament prophets said, “The Word of the Lord came to me”. Jesus is the Word of The Lord who came into the world in person (John 1:1,14,  Rev 19:13). Thus the office of prophethood refers not so much to the words which Christ spoke, but rather as to His very person as God's highest and personal revelation of Himself (Heb. 1:1-3).

Prophecy can only exist in Israel when the land is inhabited by a majority of world Jewry, a situation which has not existed since 300 BCE.

Jesus was not a prophet; he appeared on the scene approximately 350 years after prophecy had ended.

A few points to make here:

a) Who says prophecy can only exist in Israel when a land is inhabited by a majority of world Jewry? Though this may be the belief held by certain men (a suspiciously motivated one at that, as will be discussed in point d.), the divinely inspired scriptures certainly say nothing concerning this.

b) We have already proven that the date of the coming of the Messiah (whom the author understands to hold a prophetic office also) was specified by the Hebrew scriptures to the very time that the author is trying to argue. In addition to the passages brought up thus far, Daniel 9 also gives us a specific time period, proving that Christ came at just the right time.

c) The author employs a very narrow view of “prophet”. As explained above, a prophet is not necessarily one who prophesies (though Christ certainly made many prophecies, both immediate - including that of his own fate, and the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem, and distant -  the events of the last days, but simply one who reveals God’s will to man.

d) Id like to quote New Testament scholar and world renowned historian N.T. Wright on the issue of the nature of prophecy during the second temple period:


“It used to be common to say that in the 1st century prophecy was regarded as having ceased, and there is some evidence which points in this direction. Jews in the 2nd century B.C. spoke of waiting for a prophet to come, in the tone of voice of people who do not imagine it to happen very soon. In 1 Maccabees 4.46, Judas and his companions store the stones of the defiled altar in a convenient place ‘until a prophet should come to tell what to do with them’. In 14.41GǪSimon is appointed leader and high priest ‘until a trustworthy prophet should arise.’. In both cases the prophet is seen as one who would reveal the will of YHWH on matters of the highest importanceGǪAs far as these texts are concerned, then, prophecy is not available in the present timeGǪSome rabbinic texts, too, seem to indicate a sense that prophecy had come to a stop...”

He continues:

"However, in each of these cases we are right to be a little suspicious of the evidence, 1 Maccabees, written to undergird the authority of the Hasmonean regime, would be unlikely to acknowledge as truly prophetic, any oracles that challenged this upstart royal house, and the nod in the direction of a possible future prophet is most likely to be seen as a pious gesture,,,The rabbis, not least in the second century (when their traditions began to take written form), were concerned above all with the supremacy of the Torah (and of themselevs as accredited interpreters), and with the renunciation of revloution in favour of Torah-piety. It suited this double agenda to declare, or imply, that old-fashooned prophecy, especially if it carried revolutionary overtones, had come to an end."

He goes on to explain how though it had seemed that prophecy ceased, considering the lack of prophetic material since the book of Daniel, prophecy of various sorts however, seemed to have continued unchecked in the second-temple period.

The fact remains, this is an observation of the nature of prophecy in that particular period (i.e. to some certain extent it can be seen that some form of prophecy had ceased, and not a qualification (i.e. its impossible for prophecy to exist).

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B. DESCENDENT OF DAVID

According to Jewish sources, the Messiah will be born of human parents and possess normal physical attributes like other people.


There is nothing in the Tanakh that requires the Messiah to be born "normally" of human parents. Later on we will discuss the concept of the virgin birth prophesied in isaiah 7:14. Furthermore, again, there are traditional Jewish sources as described above, who see the Messiah as one with a heavenly origin, "coming on the clouds of heaven". Since they, unlike Christians, never saw this as the entrance of the Messiah in His second coming, then it is assumed that the heavens from which he descends on the clouds, is the heavens from where He originates.

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He will not be a demi-god,

This is a straw mans - we do not believe the incarnate Word is a “demi-god.” The fullness of divinity was united with His humanity. He was no more a demi-god than the ancient tabernacle which was filled with the glory and shekinah of the Lord.
 
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nor will he possess supernatural qualities.

Again, this is a misleading general statement. There is a range of important traditional sources that speak of certain supernatural qualities (such as his pre-existence as mentioned above) of the Messiah to the point that many scholars have labeled these particular aspects of the traditional Jewish Messiah as “semi-divine.” Certainly there have been many figures in Traditional Judaism that seem to possess such a highly exalted status, such that the line between God and creation becomes quite blurred. In Christianity we do not believe that there could ever exist such highly exalted figures in a strict monotheistic framework, and hence a High Christology leads to the identification of Christ with the Godhead, rather than a subordinate semi-divine figure.

Though the Messiah’s eternal divine identity is explicated in the New testament, I believe there are plenty of pointers, hints or indications if you will, in the Hebrew scriptures concerning the divinity of the Messiah, such as Isaiah 9:6, Micah 5:2, Psalm 2, Psalm 45:7, Daniel 7, Isaiah 48:12-17 etc. etc.

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The Messiah must be descended on his father's side from King David (see Genesis 49:10, Isaiah 11:1, Jeremiah 23:5, 33:17; Ezekiel 34:23-24). According to the Christian claim that Jesus was the product of a virgin birth, he had no father -- and thus could not have possibly fulfilled the messianic requirement of being descended on his father's side from King David. (2)


Regarding the issue of the genealogy of Christ, I will provide the following link which deals with all the issues presented in the article (including the footnote), such as the issue of Jospeh not being the physical father of Jesus, St Mary being of physical descent from David, and the issue of Jeconiah and the curse:

http://www.christian-thinktank.com/fabprof4.html

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C. TORAH OBSERVANCE

The Messiah will lead the Jewish people to full Torah observance. The Torah states that all mitzvot remain binding forever, and anyone coming to change the Torah is immediately identified as a false prophet. (Deut. 13:1-4)


Jesus did not change the Torah. He came to fulfill (exegete or bring about a fuller understanding of) the Torah.

Matthew 5:17-18: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished."

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Throughout the New Testament, Jesus contradicts the Torah and states that its commandments are no longer applicable.

False. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus - possessing the authority of God Himself, corrects his contemporaries misinterpretation of the Torah, and exegetes it according to the original divine purpose and intent with which they were initially instituted with.

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John 9:14 records that Jesus made a paste in violation of Shabbat, which caused the Pharisees to say (verse 16), "He does not observe Shabbat!"

John 9 records how Jesus made mud, in order to open a blind man’s eyes on the Sabbath. The author of this article makes the same mistake from the point of view of Christ, that the Pharisees do in verse 16 when they accuse Christ of not observing/keeping the Sabbath; namely, they falsely interpret the Sabbath law in a legalistic manner, whilst ignoring the context of the situation as if it were irrelevant. Jesus’s actions were not a contradiction of His Sabbath law, but rather a contradiction of the traditions of man added by man to qualifiy His Law - traditions which had nothing to do with the divine purpose/intent of the Sabbath law.

The author of the article chooses to disregard all contextual factors of the particular passage in question, choosing to simply point out the accusation of the Pharisees, as if their accusation is valid by default. Lets have a look at the passage in context.

1 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them.
2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”
3 He answered, “Haven't you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?
4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread-which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests.
5 Or haven't you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent?
6 I tell you that one greater than the temple is here.
7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.
8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Plucking heads of grain was already specifically allowed in the Law (Deut. 23:25). While the Law said people could not work on the Sabbath, you could pluck grain to eat, as long as you were not harvesting by putting it in a bag. Jesus also points out that during David's emergency, his staying alive took precedence over the showbread, thus how much more should the Messiah take precedence over pharisaic traditions. Providing Old Testament precedents of blameless violations of the Sabbath rule (Lev. 24:5-9, Num, 28:9, 10; 1 Sam. 21:1-6), Jesus demonstrates that the law is not absolute over human need or service to God.

An early church father, Tertullian (200-240 A.D.) in Against Marcion Chapter 12 of Book 4, points out that when God commanded the Israelites to march around Jericho for 8 days straight, they were in fact marching on the Sabbath. So, this too is an example of God's direct command overruling His own Sabbath.

Jesus is Lord, even on the Sabbath, thus Lord of all days including the Lord’s day, and the Author of the Law itself.  We were made for God, not for a law and not for the Sabbath. For the Pharisees, the Sabbath actually became an idol for them in a sense, as they became more concerned about the Sabbath than God. The command to rest on the Sabbath was given to help man, not to hinder man. God is Lord of His law, and he gives precedence to mercy rather than ritualistic observance.

Reading on:

9 Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"
11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out?
12 How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other.
14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.

Jesus who as Messiah has established Himself as Lord of the Law, both author and exegete, then goes on to heal a man of the Sabbath. He further justifies the validity of His action, which He maintains is not a violation of the Sabbath.

A further and more revealing incident concerning the Sabbath, is to be found in John 5:

1 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews.
2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades.
3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie-the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.
5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirtyeight years.
6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” 
7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”
9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath,
1 0and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, "It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat."
11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”
12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. 
14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”
15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.
16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him.
17 Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.”
18 For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him

The implication here is very plain. What He is doing, is adopting a common Jewish opinion regarding the relationship between God and the Sabbath, and using it as His own valid defense. Though the Torah states that God “rested” on the Sabbath, the consensus amongst the rabbis of Christ’s day (including eminent figures such as Rabban Gamaliel II, R. Joshua, R Eleazar b. Azariah) was that God Himself must somehow work on the Sabbath, otherwise proividence itself would weekly go into abeyance. Just as God continuously works, so too does His Christ, because His Christ, is His Word, and The Word is inseparable from God, as the rays of a sun are inseparable from the core of that sun. Christ was perfectly understood by those who heard Him, and hence they charged Him with blasphemy.

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3) MISTRANSLATED VERSES "REFERRING" TO JESUS

Biblical verses can only be understood by studying the original Hebrew text -- which reveals many discrepancies in the Christian translation.


Putting aside the issue of Massoretic Hebrew OT vs. Greek Septuagint OT. We will assume the validity of the Hebrew for arguments sake.

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A. VIRGIN BIRTH

The Christian idea of a virgin birth is derived from the verse in Isaiah 7:14 describing an "alma" as giving birth. The word "alma" has always meant a young woman, but Christian theologians came centuries later and translated it as "virgin."


Before we delve into linguistics/semantics, we would first like to correct the blatant historical error committed by the author. The word “alma” was in fact translated into “parthenos” (The Greek word used for “virgin”) by Jewish scholars, who translated the Hebrew scriptures into the Greek Septuagint approximately 200 years before Christ Himself was even born. The Septuagint is not a product of the church, it was simply maintained by the church due to the fact that Christ and His apostles quoted directly from it, validating its authority and authenticity (amongst other issues).

Though the word may not technically refer to a virgin, it is certainly not excluded from referring to a virgin. In fact, we would argue that it implies a virgin, for it represents a young lady who possesses the characteristic of virginity. Considering both is cultural and linguistic context, we can affirm that it in fact refers to a young lady who is both unmarried and sexually mature.

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This accords Jesus' birth with the first century pagan idea of mortals being impregnated by gods.

Not only is this claim out-dated and un-schorlarly, it’s a claim that certainly backfires on the author as a Jew. First I will address the fact that the author has applied double standards and shot himself in the foot, and then I will address the very nature of the claim itself.

1) The thesis concerning stolen pagan myths and concepts is one promulgated by the uneducated, narrow minded, gullible, and uncritical, against both Christianity AND Judaism. If the author of the article were to be consistent in his reasoning, he would have to conclude likewise, that the Tanakh itself is derived from pagan sources. Skeptics have often pointed out parallels between the Tanakh and pagan traditions: The Genesis creation account with the Babylonian creation account; the birth of Moses with the birth of Sergon of Akkad, have striking similarities. The author was either ignorant of this fact, or simply inconsistent in his approach due his theological bias.

2) The Gospel writers were Jewish, establishing an eye-witness account of historical events that took place in the first century - it is inconceivable that they would try and construct a historical narrative by borrowing from mythologies concerning non-existent beings. They consistently used the Old Testament to back up what they were saying, and it is upon the authority of Isaiah 7:14, and the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit alone, which lead them to conclude that this was a prophetic passage concerning the virgin birth of the Messiah. Furthermore, there is simply and plainly, NO pagan parallel at ALL to the Christian doctrine of the Holy Spirit conceiving The Word in the womb of the blessed virgin St Mary. The so-called pagan parallels all involve some sort of sexual activity or penetration.

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B. SUFFERING SERVANT

Throughout Jewish scripture, Israel is repeatedly called, in the singular, the "Servant of God" (see Isaiah 43:Cool. In fact, Isaiah states no less than 11 times in the chapters prior to 53 that the Servant of God is Israel.

An open minded objective analysis of the servant songs, make it clear that there are two servants of God; one is the Messiah (identified as God’s servant in Zecheriah 3:Cool, the other is Israel (identified as God’s servant in Isaiah 41:Cool. In Isaiah 42, the two servants are contrasted; verses 6-7 portray a servant who is the light, opening the eyes of the blind, and leading people from darkness, and out of prison; and verses 18-22 reveal a servant who is blind and deaf, sitting in the darkness of prison. The identity of these servants is made clear in the wider context. Isaiah 6:9-10 identifies Israel with the blinded servant, who has been stripped of knowledge and wisdom as a result of their rebellion against God (Isaiah 29:13-14). In Isaiah 11:1-2, it is clear that the Messiah is the servant who will open the eyes of the blind and lead the way, for he is said to have, in contrast to Israel who are devoid of wisdom or understanding, the very Spirit of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.

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When read correctly, Isaiah 53 clearly [and ironically] refers to the Jewish people being "bruised, crushed and as sheep brought to slaughter" at the hands of the nations of the world.

This is a mere assertion, and does not prove necessary, the interpretation that Israel is the subject being bruised, crushed, and brought to the slaughter. This is also how The Christ is depicted according to the historical narratives of the Gospels. We must look beyond this trivial and irrelevant point to truly understand who the identity of this particular servant is.

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These descriptions are used throughout Jewish scripture to graphically describe the suffering of the Jewish people (see Psalm 44)

As stated above, these descriptions are also used throughout the Christian scriptures to graphically describe the suffering of Jesus The Christ. We need to consider further factors to make a better judgement. For example, I would argue that certain attributes of the suffering servant, directly contradict the Old Testament depiction of Israel e.g. the possession of Knowledge/understanding/Wisdom and a character of righteousness (verse 11) as well as the fact the suffering servant “did not open his mouth before his shearers” (verse 7). Furthermore the suffering servant is said to possess no deceit in his mouth nor had he done any violence

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Isaiah 53 concludes that when the Jewish people are redeemed, the nations will recognize and accept responsibility for the inordinate suffering and death of the Jews.

Clearly Isaiah 53 concludes with the fact that the suffering and death of the servant is an atoning sacrifice.

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4) JEWISH BELIEF IS BASED SOLELY ON NATIONAL REVELATION

Even if the individual claiming personal revelation performs miracles, there is still no verification that he is a genuine prophet. Miracles do not prove anything. All they show -- assuming they are genuine -- is that he has certain powers. It has nothing to do with his claim of prophecy.

This is all good and well, but I would like to make a brief comment at this stage, before I come back with a more thorough response to this issue. The first point I would like to bring forth, is the fact that God alone has power over life and death.

"See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me (1). I put to death and bring to life (2), I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver them out of my hand." Deuteronomy 32:39

Notice how the pssage concerns God declaring His exclusiveness. He then follows this declaration of being the exclusive God by mentioning some of those things which define His exclusiveness: namely the The ability to give and take life. The Resurrection of Christ, is the most powerful tetsimony to Christ's authenticity (after all, why would God resurrect a fraud?). The Resurrection is one of the best attested facts of history, than any other miracle in antiquity. I made a comment on this issue in a previous thread, I will copy what i said and repaste it here:

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The Resurrection of Christ, the foundation of the church, is a historical fact that atheists have been struggling to deal with for centuries now; the evidence of the missing body - the empty tomb, the appearances to hundreds and hundreds, the circumstantial evidence, the rapid growth of the early church - are all historical facts supported by the strongest eye-witness testimony, it is simply irrefutable.

One of the worlds leading atheist philosophers (who has recently turned agnostic) Antony Flew had a major debate with a world renowned Christian apologist Habermas, on the topic “Did Jesus really rise from the dead?” The result was decidely one-sided. Of the 5 independent philosophers from various colleges and universities who served as judges of the debate, 4 concluded that Habermas had won, and the other called it a draw. One of the judges commented: “I was surprised to see how weak Flew's own approach was... I was left with the conclusion: that since the case against the resurrection was no stronger than that presented by Flew, I would think its time i began to take the ressurection more seriously.” Another commented: “I conclude that the historical evidence...is strong enough to lead reasonable minds to conclude that Christ did indeed rise from the dead...Habermas does end up providing 'high probable evidence' for the historicity of the resurrection 'with no plausible naturalistic evidence against it.'...”

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If God is going to start a religion, it makes sense He'll tell everyone, not just one person.

This is rather weak. Despite the fact the Messiah’s ministry was declared by the Father in front of certain witnesses (e.g transfiguration, Christ’s baptism, etc which I will get to in my next response), the fact is, it was up to the Jewish people to make up their own minds concerning Jesus. Jesus testified to His identity as Messiah, performed miracles to verify His claims, (with the ultimate sign, the sign of Jonah - His resurrection from the dead) and fulfilled the first aspect of Messianic prophecies, the prophecies concerning his rejection, betrayal, suffering, and sacrificial atoning death. It is worth mentioning, that if God were to publicly declare Christ in the manner that the author begs, this would go against the prophecies describing His very rejection.

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Judaism is not miracles. It is the personal eyewitness experience of every man, woman and child, standing at Mount Sinai 3,300 years ago.

Christ’s validity as Messiah and prophet has never been solely attributed to the fact he performed miracles (though the significance of the Resurrection of Christ is one that cannot be dismissed as trivial or irrelevant). Ultimately, Christ fulfilled the prophecies concerning Him, and this is one of the greatest proofs - God did not need to publicly declare Christ to the whole nation, because He already decalared Him in the testimony of the prophets. Christ constantly referred back to the prophets as His witnesses (one example of many is found in John 5:46, where he states: "If you believed Moses, you would believe me [Jesus], for he wrote about me." It was up to the Jews to open their hearts and minds, and believe.
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« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2005, 11:16:47 AM »

Regarding the issue of the genealogy of Christ, I will provide the following link which deals with all the issues presented in the article (including the footnote), such as the issue of Jospeh not being the physical father of Jesus, St Mary being of physical descent from David, and the issue of Jeconiah and the curse:

http://www.christian-thinktank.com/fabprof4.html
What do you make of the objection that Mary's parents are traditionally known as Joachim and Anna?  If I'm not mistaken, was there not also an early tradition that Mary was of Levite descent?  On the other hand, if you go with the solution of St. Joseph himself being the son of a Levirite marriage, you run into the problem of Jesus not being a physical descendant of David, although I'm not sure that's actually a problem given his adoption by St. Joseph.
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« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2005, 01:15:10 PM »

A very nice apology, EkhristosAnesti.  Smiley
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« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2005, 02:29:22 PM »

Since I am firmly convinced (for any number of reasons) that "Jesus of Nazareth" is the Messiah, and I count myself as one in the traditional understanding of just what that means, I'm obviously going to have to conclude that those who do not accept this (coming from a Jewish background) do such for the following basic reasons...

- Ignorance/Misinformed (whether it be ignorance over their own traditions, or ignorance over just what Christianity actually means)
- Fear/Malice (whether it be fear over the ramifications of having to abide by the weight of evidence and have a falling out with their families and religious communities, or a malice rooted in the fact they do not appreciate the kind of Messiah God has deigned to give them; much like the Jewish religious authorities who opposed our Lord in the first place.)

EkhristosAnesti is correct (imho) in the observations/arguments he has made. It's been my experience that many Jewish arguments against the claims of the Church typically rely on the ignorance of their readers - whether it be of Jewish or non-Jewish source materials, and usually err in the exteme, by trying to portray Maimonadean "orthodoxy" as being the homogenous, "universal" opinion of Jewry since time immemorial. I say this not because I deny the possibility of such an orthodoxy - rather, I acknowledge this because it's quite clear when you look into the religious history of the Jews, it's quite clear that such a monolithic outlook (and specifically, the particular one adhered to more or less by modern Orthodoxy Jewry) is relatively late in coming.

Since I don't want to simply repeat what EkhristosAnesti has written, I will simply bring up one of my "complaints" with typical Judeo (contra-Christian) apologetics, and give some specific examples.

Many Jewish Apologies for "rejecting Jesus" are Hypocritical

While that's a strong word, I think calling them "hypocritical" is meritted. Why do I say this? Because there are trends/ideas which exist in sources/traditions still accepted by modern Orthodox Jewry as being "within the pale", which quite clearly do point to a continuity between the Church and Ancient Israel. Here are some illustrative examples.

i) "Christianity puts many of the precepts of Torah aside - Moschiach will increase observance, not diminish it": While EkhristosAnesti's arguments of "fulfillment" are valid, the end result is that much of the ritual and cultus of the Torah are not considered "binding" by Orthodox Christianity. Obviously this was not the result of some willy-nilly chucking of them into the garbage; but the end result is that Christians do not observe scruples over foods, do not believe in the efficacy of animal sacrifices, the need for a Temple in Jerusalem, circumcision, etc. etc.

One aspect of our "non-observance" of such things which many Christian apologists overlook, is the idea that the Baptized Christian has in fact "died" in his Holy Baptism; he has died and been reborn - and as such, he is given means to live in a way which is in fact anticipatory of the "renewal of all things" which will occur when the Moschiach returns in glory, to judge both the living and the dead; a foretaste of the "new heaven" and "new earth" which He will effect.

A clear articulation of this Christian dogma is found in Holy Scriptures, via the epistles of St.Paul...

Quote
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:3-4)

10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. (Colossians 2:10-12)

1 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?
2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.
3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. (Romans 7:1-4)

For the early Christians (and for Orthodox Christianity until now), there was nothing "allegorical" or nominal about the power and effect of Holy Baptism or the possibilities it opened up. It really did mark a "new birth" out of a real death - even if it is one we must strive to accept and not be drawn away from.

Well, aside from giving a "Christian" logic to not viewing the Torah as those "under the law" would (who are subject still to the law of death), why do I bother bringing this up at all? I mean, great, that's what Christians think...but why shouldn't the Jew say "so what?"

The reason this is important, is that this idea wasn't simply something the early Christians "came up" with, but is an idea evidenced in Rabbinical sources themselves - namely, the credible/permissable opinion in Orthodox Judaism as it's come to us, that when the Messiah comes and ushers in His Kingdom, that the mitzvot (observance of applicable commandments in the Torah, which the Rabbis eventually numerated as being 613) would no longer be efficacious, and even (some opined) that they would not be observed. The basis for this was in large part the notion that the dead are not obliged to the cultus of the Torah, and by extension those who will be raised for said death are also not obliged.

Quote
There is however an opinion in the Talmud[313] that the mitzvos will no longer apply after the Resurrection. According to this opinion, the Messianic era will comprise two distinct periods. In the first period after Mashiach arrives, the whole of Torah law will be in force and the mitzvos will be fully observed. However, from the time of the Resurrection (which is to take place forty years after the advent of Mashiach[314]), the mitzvos will no longer be in force. ...

A careful analysis of the context of the Talmudic teaching cited above[322] -that "the mitzvos will no longer apply in time to come [i.e., after the Resurrection]" - provides a solution to this apparently glaring contradiction.
The opinion is expressed that "a garment that includes kilayim [i.e., shaatnez, a prohibited mixture of wool and linen]... may be used for shrouds for the dead." This statement sparks off the following debate:

"Rav Yosef responded: 'This means that the mitzvos will no longer apply in time to come' [for otherwise, those resurrected would be wearing forbidden garments].

"Abbaye (some say it was Rav Dimi) objected: 'But R. Mani said in the name of R. Yannai that this permission applies only for the eulogy but not for the burial!'

"[Rav Yosef] replied: 'Was it not taught that R. Yochanan said that it applies even for the burial? And in this R. Yochanan is consistent with his own teachings, for R. Yochanan taught: What is meant by the verse,[323] "free among the dead"? - Once a man dies, he is free from fulfilling the mitzvos.'"

The full article that the above excerpt is from makes for some interesting reading. I'm not trying to argue that this view was what all Jews ever believed, let alone currently believe - only that it did/does represent a legit opinion, one which is still considered to be within the boundaries of "Orthodox Judaism". Yet, you'll find very often that Christians are brow beaten by Jewish polemicists, on the grounds that they are "anti-Torah", presumably for not believing that the ritual/cultus of the Torah is still in effect. Really what fundamentally separates the Christians and the Jews, is that we hold to an interpretation of Messianic prophecies and fulfillment which they for various reasons do not; in particular, the Church adhere's to a view which manages to makes sense of the ostensibly confusing/contradictory prophecies of the Old Testament/Tanakh - where as the Jews themselves are pretty unclear about key aspects of this issue (though their views are certainly more monolithic since the time of Maimonides, who basically gave Judaism it's "creed", which includes belief in a singular Messiah - which itself is a narrowing of opinion, since some ancient Jewish commentators sincerely believed that the "confusing" disparencies between the "peaceful, humble Messiah" and the "conquering, stern Messiah baring a rod of iron" necessitated the existance of at least two "Messiahs" who would come at different times.)

Another interesting example of this idea (the cultic/ritual/exoteric dimension of the Torah being altered by the arrival of the Messiah) is found in this article on a Hasidic Jewish website, where we are informed of the opinion that when the Moschiach comes (and the "Messianic Age" begins), the pig will become kosher. After giving a mystical meaning to why the pig was deemed so particularly "unkosher" by the Torah, this same rationale is used to explain why in the "messianic age" it will be redeemed and no longer considered unclean.

Quote
Our strong antipathy towards the pig, and our solid rejection of it, serve to "cut off" the part of it which is negative and evil, and leave only its pure essence. Only regarding the pig does the Midrash state: "Why is the pig called 'chazir'? For in the future, it will be returned ('lehachazir') to us.[3]" In the Messianic Era, when the true Divine nature of every creature will be openly revealed, the pig will stand vindicated as a kosher animal.

Does this not remind you an awful lot of the following passage...(?)

Quote
9 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:
10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,
11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:
12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.
14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.
15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven. (Acts of the Apostles 10:9-16)

There is so much more on this and other related topics I could write, but I do have to get some sleep soon (alas, I work at night.) Hopefully there will be more I can add to this later. I've started addressing the broader aspects of this topic on my blog, with an entry which I hope will be the beginning of a series on "Christ in the Old Testament".

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« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2005, 04:11:33 PM »

I don't think that most rejections of Jesus from any side come from lack of clear thinking or fear or hatred. I think they simply come out of a lack of direct revelation. Very few of us here coldly and rationally came to see that Christ was Lord. Instead, "God revealed Himself to us." Only through the grace of God can we recognize the Lord. When I was a Jew who rejected Jesus, while I may have hated him and said some things that were contradictory and controversial, at the essence of the matter was that God had not yet illumined me with the knowledge of His truth.

That being said, GREAT POST Ehkristos! I put it in my favorites.

Marjorie
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« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2005, 05:06:17 PM »

Hi all!

It's 22:35 here. I had to do some work on the computer here at home (as I seem to have to do most nights) & I'm just having a quick look before I nod off.

EkhristosAnesti, you have written an impressive post, well done. I certainly admire your scholarship (and your constant courtesy) even if I do not agree with it.

I'll throw out a few general comments.

It is our belief that what is now termed "orthodox Judaism", or "rabbinic Judaism" is the natural, organic development of what, at the time of Christ, was termed as Pharisaical Judaism & is part of an unbroken chain of tradition going all the way back to Moses at Mt. Sinai. We have had to deal with heretical movements & sects just as Christianity has. I would respectfully submit that any attempt by non-Jews to portray our history as something else is ultimately self-justifying rationalization, the motives of which are (to us) obvious.

Our rejection of Jesus as the Messiah is not based on fear, malice or ignorance; rather, we simply disagree. After 2,000 years, we have become quite familiar with Christianity. I neither fear it nor bear it any malice & I like to think that my knowledege of it is pretty good. I have come here partly to learn more about it. But I am as rock-solid in my orthodox Jewish faith as those of you here are in your orthodox Christian faith. I do not believe that your non-acceptance of our way of thinking/believing is due to fear, malice or ignorance; rather, we simply disagree. I absolutely acknowledge that your orthodox Christian beliefs have as much meaning for you as my orthodox Jewish beliefs do for me. All I would ask is that you make a similar acknowledgement. Faith is not mathematics, i.e. it is not given to rational proof. Neither is it a competition. I think that we should cherish both our respective faiths and our differences. Let us each believe as we do and be happy that we have all found spiritual peace.

On a final, specific note, EkhristosAnesti, have you thought about emailing your post directly to Rabbi Simmons?

Gotta go get some sleep. Be well!

MBZ :brew: (This smiley shows that I've got no hard feelings towards anyone here!)
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« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2005, 10:38:38 PM »

I agree completely about faith, MBZ.

Marjorie
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« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2005, 03:20:02 AM »

Hi all!

It's now 09:00 & I'm here t my office. Before I actually start working, I thought that I might post these links. I hope that you'll find them interesting. They don't respond to why we don't accept Jesus, rather they address the issue of the development of Judaism, continuity & our unchanging traditions. I cite http://www.jewfaq.org/movement.htm:

Quote
The Pharisees believed that G-d gave the Jews both a written Torah and an oral Torah, both of which were equally binding and both of which were open to reinterpretation by the rabbis, people with sufficient education to make such decisions. The Pharisees were devoted to study of the Torah and education for all.

(...).

The Pharisaic school of thought is the only one that survived the destruction of the Temple. The Zealots were killed off during the war with Rome. The Sadducees could not survive without the Temple, which was the center of their religion. The Essenes, who were never very numerous, were apparently killed off by the Romans (they were easily recognizable in their isolated communities).

For many centuries after the destruction of the Temple, there was no large-scale, organized difference of opinion within Judaism. Judaism was Judaism, and it was basically the same as what we now know as Orthodox Judaism. There were some differences in practices and customs between the Ashkenazic Jews of Eastern Europe and the Sephardic Jews of Spain and the Middle East, but these differences were not significant. See Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews.

During the 9th century C.E., a number of sects arose that denied the existence of oral Torah. These sects came to be known as Karaites (literally, People of the Scripture), and they were distinguished from the Rabbanites or Rabbinical Judaism...

So...

1) The Unchanged Tradition of Judaism (8 articles): http://www.beingjewish.com/#unchanged;

2) The History and Transmission of the Jewish Traditions (8 articles): http://www.beingjewish.com/mesorah/;

3) Process of Transmission: Everyone knows that the Talmud is full of disagreements. Does this mean that the information is inaccurate? Actually it proves the opposite!: http://www.aish.com/shavuottorah/shavuottorahdefault/Process_of_Transmission.asp.

4) Several entries of the 68-part Crash Course in Jewish History at http://www.aish.com/literacy/jewishhistory/ are relevant here.

Gotta go work!

Be well!

MBZ
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« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2005, 09:52:48 AM »

Penelope,

Quote
What do you make of the objection that Mary's parents are traditionally known as Joachim and Anna?


Well certainly, if one were to accept this tradition, there is no way to reconcile it with the view that Luke’s genealogy concerns St Mary’s descent. As such, one would most probably have to adopt one of the other very possible resolutions to the whole genealogy issue; namely, that Luke’s genealogy concerns Joseph’s physical descent (for the most part), whilst Matthew’s refers to his legal descent, or the converse; that Matthew’s refers to his physical descent and Luke’s refers to his legal.

Quote
If I'm not mistaken, was there not also an early tradition that Mary was of Levite descent?

Well, im not sure of this, though im aware of early traditions that affirm that St Mary was in fact of Davidic descent: Chapter 1 of the Gospel of the Nativity of Mary, and chapter 10 of the Gospel of St James.

Putting tradition aside, I believe the scriptures make it clear that St Mary was of the tribe of Judah. In Luke 1:32 we read: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David” - This certainly can only make sense if St Mary herself is a descendent from David, for the context clearly establishes that St Mary is a virgin, and that she will conceive Christ as a virgin. Furthermore, Hebrews 7:14 states: “For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests” The context of the passage surround the very argument that Jesus is NOT from the line of Aaron.

Quote
On the other hand, if you go with the solution of St. Joseph himself being the son of a Levirite marriage, you run into the problem of Jesus not being a physical descendant of David, although I'm not sure that's actually a problem given his adoption by St. Joseph.

Well the view of Jospeh being the son of a Levirate marriage, does not necessarily preclude him from still being of actual Davidic descent. This view was held by Julius Africanus of the early 3rd century who concluded Hilel died childless, leaving Jacob his half-brother to marry his widow, who eventually begat Jospeh. In this case, Africanus argues that Hilel was from the line of Nathan, and Jacob from Solomon, and hence Jospeh had both physical and legal leneage rights to the throne of David.

Pedro,

Thanks for the encouragement.

Augustine,

Awesome post. Though I do not have the time right now, I'd like to further some more points on Baptism and the issue concerning the nature and progression of Jewish tradition, and would love to hear what you have to say.

Marjorie,

In agreement with you 100%

John 6:44: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.

1 Corinthians 12:3: "Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost."

However, I do agree to an extent with Doubting Thomas. There are individuals out there who "hate" Christianity with a passion, and who have an agenda to grab our pearls out of hand, and trample upon them by their feet. Such individuals, with a wilful hardness of heart, essentially grieve the Spirit, rejecting it, and hence committing the unforgiveable sin.

MBZ,

Thank you for your kind words, and your demeanor is much appreciated, I have much respect for you. I would like to properly respond further concerning the issue of the nature of Orthodox Judaism, especially concerning the identity of the Messiah, however its 12:47 am here, and I really have to round up, so next time. Just quickly, in another post, you pasted Maimonides outline of the certain features by which the Messiah will be recognised. Seeing as his view concerning the relationship between Messiah and temple conflict with other prominent figures such as Rashi, whom i mentioned in my above response, is there any objective reason why Maimonides would take precedence over Rashi in this regard?

Quote
On a final, specific note, EkhristosAnesti, have you thought about emailing your post directly to Rabbi Simmons?

Yes it was a thought that came to mind, and I believe I will give it a go. I did however slack off a bit on some of the above answers, so I will do a final touch up, and I will send it sometime within the next 24 hours.

Okay, 12:52 am...im dead. Goodnight!

Peace
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« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2005, 12:49:44 PM »

re: "unbroken" nature of Orthodox Judaism

One immediate problem I see with the idea that contemporary Orthodox Judaism represents the latest aspect of a fundamentally unbroken tradition (with the understanding that this means the basic dogmatic underpinnings of Judaism have not undergone any change, with some things lost and other things added...presumably since Mt.Sinai), is that it contradicts the testimony of those Scriptures accepted by both Jews and Christians.

2 Kings chapters 22-23 detail the reforms which occured under King Josiah. These reforms were initiated because the High Priest at the time (Hilkiah) had found "the book of the Law" in the Temple. Specifically, the Hebrew says Torah (22:8 ). While modern scholars debate what exactly was meant by this (some suppose it meant only the book of Deuteronomy, or some other fragment; some say it was the "holiness code" of Leviticus, etc.), the plain meaning of the text itself (particularly for those of us who do not accept the various modern "documentary hypothesis" theories) is that it was the "Torah" or "Pentateuch" that was found.

Found you say?

Yes, found. The clear implication is that by this time, Israel had degenerated into a pattern of (at best) partial observance of the Mosaic precepts, with many wandering into outright idolatry. Verses 11-13 make it clear that even the good hearted king was unaware of the contents of this book, and is said to have rent his garments in anguish at finding about it and it's contents.

IOW, the fullness of the religion revealed by Moses, had been lost for a time; including the very centre of this revelation! This makes the claim that there was always a community of scribes transmitting the Torah letter for letter (ex. "Masoretes"), let alone preserving supposed "unwritten revelation revealed at Mt.Sinai" (the "parallel" and "unwritten Torah" claimed by Pharisaical/Rabbinical Judaism) in their minutiae incredible.

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« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2005, 10:42:58 AM »

Hi all!

No, I haven't lapsed into cybernation. Yesterday (yes, Sunday is a workday here) & last Thursday were extremely busy here at the office (http://tinyurl.com/4w8gf) and DW & I are in the midst of rennovations (of our larger bathroom & service balcony, which isn't really a balcony because we're on the groundfloor, but that's what it's called), that are due to be finished tomorrow, and our flat looks like a construction zone (Da Boyz think it's cool). Hopefully, I'll be able to reply more properly tomorrow.

Be well!

MBZ
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« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2005, 06:49:32 AM »

I have edited quotes for length only and attempted to have them all maintain original meaning and contextual relationship meaning even.

In response to the inquiry concerning the Jewish view of Jesus, posed to MBZ on a recent thread by copticorthodoxboy, the following weblink was given:

http://www.aish.com/jewishissues/jewishsociety/Why_Jews_Dont_Believe_In_Jesus.asp

Firstly, lets not make the flawed assumption, that Jewish thought on the identity and function of the Messiah, is/has-been unanimous. Whilst Rabbi Shraga Simmons (who will be referred to as 'the author' from now on) maintains that the Messiah’s job was to rebuild the temple, many traditional Jews would disagree with him - and certainly, I believe the scriptures do also.

The general concensus of Judaism has always been that the messiah would either come to or rebuld the temple if need be.  This site is called "Orthodox Christianity" but let me please say that is very silly.  There is nothing orthodox in christianity and every single claim has disagreement within the christian sectations.  Last I read it was 30,000 plus.

So while you might like to show that Judaism has no single viewpoint it is easy enough demonstrated that neither does Christianity.  However, just like this site claims there are some basic principles that most hold to, and the rebuilding of the temple was/is a main one.  Even in the days of the supposed Jesus those in leadership saw a stark difference between the temple that existed and the temple that was described by Ezekiel.  And by such it was believed that because many prophets told that the temple would be destroyed that it was not the "everlasting" temple but merely the second one with another to come.  Many Jewish authors I have read state that it was not a "big deal" for Jesus to have said the temple would be destroyed because it was common knowledge and most believed it would be at a point (to make way for the one described by Ezekiel no less).

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If we look at the Tanakh in its entirety, there's very few scriptures that mention anything about the rebuilding of a temple, and the few that do, are in reference to the second temple.

So nice of you to think they are referencing the "second" temple concidering that Ezekiel's descriptoin of the temple does not fit with the second temple.  I find it strange that you would make such a claim because if these scriptures were referencing the second temple why does Ezekiel's temple not describe the second temple but differ from it?  I find your "glossing over" this point exceptionally weak in light of the evidence against your claim.  You could read Ezekiel 37:26-28 as the author asks or perhaps Michah 4:1 and Ezekiel 40-45.

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The first obvious flaw in the above objection presented, that needs to be addressed, is the fact that scholars and historians have proven that there was Messianic expectation amongst many of the religious traditional Jews of Christ’s day i.e. That the Messiah would come in their lifetime - during the second temple period. Obviously then, they were not expecting the building of a third temple, since the second temple was already standing!  What we do find however, is the fact that rather than expecting the Messiah to rebuild any temple, they were expecting His visitation to His temple!

If we read Haggai 2:6-9, we discover that there is something about the second temple being greater in glory than the first. Considering that the first temple was ascribed with 5 unique features lacking in the second temple; we are left wandering what it is about the second temple that makes it greater in glory. Certainly the rabbinic traditions were struggling to find an adequate answer to this puzzle, and the standard answers were certainly not plausible. Amidst all their attempts to explain this issue on their own, lies the very answer in Malachi 3:1-5 (a passage recognized to be messianic by famous medieval commentators David Kimchi and Metsudat David). Here we find that the Messiah would visit the second temple! The scriptures speak plainly.

That is really reaching there, especially if you take into account that Ezekiel's description of a temple is yet to be generated.

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Looking at Ezekiel 37:26-28 specifically however, it clearly says absolutely nothing about the Messiah building any sort of temple:

"I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. Then the nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever."

Looking at the wider context, namely considering chapters 44 - 46, the Messiah is only said to worship there. In fact the very temple in question, is not said to be built by anyone at all, but rather it is revealed to Ezekiel in a vision, already built and established. This is certainly the view of certain leading Rabbinic authorities, regarding the third temple. Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki), Tasafot (Sukkah 41a), and traditional Jewish sources such as Midrash Tanchuma, Pekedei, maintain that the third temple is “the sanctuary of God, established by your hands.” - One that is already built and waiting in the heavens to be revealed. Such a view is right on line with the temple witnessed by the apostle John, as depicted in the book of Revelations (especially Chapter 21).

Ah, and the borg cube will land in Jerusalem.  Great idea!  Think we should all buy into it.

Laughable really.  But anyways, fairtales and drug induced dellusions to the side for a moment, the third temple is to be built as described in detail by Ezekiel.  Had you not glossed over Ezekiel's detailed description of how the next temple is to be built perhaps you would notice this, I am guessing however that you will continue to await the giant cube from the sky however.

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The author then points out three prophecies which we as Christians maintain, will be fulfilled by Christ upon His second coming, namely:

Actually, Christians can't count.  According to NT text Jesus was here, died(left), came back to be seen again, then went up into the sky.  Which is really meaningless on a scientific level because even if he was traveling at light speed he wouldn't have gotten very far even now.  But I digress.

Anyways, what Christianity is really waiting on is the third coming of Jesus in order to fullfill what prophecies need to be done in order for Jesus to be the end-times messiah.  The problem is that in admitting this Christianity itself is denying that Jesus is the messiah and is stating in fact that he is a messiah wanna-be.  He hasn't done what is to be done but "will do it."  This can be said about any other would be messiah of any other era of time and about all the rest who came and were labeled "the" messiah in their day.  Christianity maintains that he will return and the NT record is that "time is short" and Paul even told that marriage would be unnecessary because time was so short.  The problem is that 2,000 years later and we are all still realizing that time isn't as short as the claim has always been, but this does not stop Christian "end-timers" from existing in each and every single generation.

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The New Testament reveals to us, that there is only one Messiah, Jesus The Christ, who functions as priest, prophet, and King

The author of Hebrews generates a non-levitical priesthood from which he then applies the idea that Jesus can offer himself to a god as atonement.  This idea goes directly against the eternal levitical priesthood taught of in the Tanakh.  Jesus was born within the tribe of Judah to have any claim to kingship/messiahship.  If he was of the tribe of levite (as Luke argues) then he might be a priest but then he is not messiah.  Either way really it creates cognitive dissonance on the part of whomever would accept that Jesus is both priest and messiah.  The Tanakh teaches that the messiah would be blood-linked descendant through his father's mortal line in order to have the house upon him from David through Solomon (not Nathan).  Whether Luke's family line for Jesus is about Mary or Joseph does not matter in the least because it is from Nathan.

Granted it comes down to a very easy understanding.  The author of Hebrews realizes that under the levitical code of offering that any human offering is an abomination to God.  Therefore he commits an outright act of blasphemy by writing: Hbr 7:14 For [it is] evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.  and Hbr 10:4 For [it is] not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.  The Tanakh lays out the levitical offering and manner by which a levite priest can make atonement for the sins of the people.  Also included in this are the offerings of atonement money and flour.  The author of Hebrews lies yet again when he says that "without the sheding of blood is no remission" for this idea is entirely foreign to the Hebrew scripture.  In fact, the full message does not even add up logically, "almost all things are" and then he goes on to say that "without there is no."  These do not even carry the same meaning, his ending statement does not flow from his beginning statement.

Furthermore, the author of Hebrews is easily demonstrated to be not only blasphemous in his pious fraud but also a liar.  When he writes, "Hebrews 10:5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: [6] In burnt offerings and [sacrifices] for sin thou hast had no pleasure. (KJV)" this is a very careful manipulation of the Psalm which reads, "Psalms 40:6 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. (KJV)"  Notice the treachery involved in his devious attempt to change the hebrew scripture to his false god.  He has manipulated the meaning entirely from hast thou not required to hast had no pleasure.  This is even more grevious when you compare what this author did in the middle.  How on earth are we to accept his false mangod as being "the Truth, the Way" when it is founded upon the lie that "but a body thou prepared me?"  It is enough to make anyone realizing such blatant disregard for scriptural accuracy sick in the end...and the only resulting conclusion is that his ideas are as flawed as his quotation.

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a) Who says prophecy can only exist in Israel when a land is inhabited by a majority of world Jewry? Though this may be the belief held by certain men (a suspiciously motivated one at that, as will be discussed in point d.), the divinely inspired scriptures certainly say nothing concerning this.

b) We have already proven that the date of the coming of the Messiah (whom the author understands to hold a prophetic office also) was specified by the Hebrew scriptures to the very time that the author is trying to argue. In addition to the passages brought up thus far, Daniel 9 also gives us a specific time period, proving that Christ came at just the right time.

There once was a man who walked down a path and saw a line of trees along the path.  Each tree had an arrow shot into it and the arrow was perfectly in the center of a circle that had been carved into the tree.  The man traveled along further and found the archer.  He asked, "however did you become such a good shot?"  The archer replied, "easy, mind you I first shoot the arrow, then I carve the circle."

The ignorance it takes to believe that the scriptures found in Daniel 9 (along with the exceptionally poorly drawn out "prophetic year" idea) are so laughable as to be nothing more than an attempt by the author to carve the circle around the mangod he already accepts.  This is nothing new for Christianity as the manipulation of the hebrew text to fit into their mangod idea is very well recorded by history, from the manipulation of Isaiah maiden who was a sign unto the King in that day (making no sense for it to happen 700 years later when the King is dead) becoming a virgin birth to the translation of "like a lion" into "they pierced my hands and feet" in Psalm 22.  The pious fraud found in the Christian tradition certainly demonstrates the various archers drawing their circles around their preset notions, nothing more.

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c) The author employs a very narrow view of “prophet”. As explained above, a prophet is not necessarily one who prophesies (though Christ certainly made many prophecies, both immediate - including that of his own fate, and the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem, and distant - the events of the last days, but simply one who reveals God’s will to man.

Jesus once made the claim that he would be in the ground for 3 days.  No matter which version of the gospel story you use he was not in the ground this long.

Jesus once said that he would return before "this generation" passed away.  It has already done so.  He also once commented that "those present" would see him before they died...they are dead.

Prophecy is so easy to apply long winded apologetics to that I normally do not bother to mention where Jesus' prophecy failed critical viewpoint, but I felt it necessary in this discussion to at least mention it briefly.

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There is nothing in the Tanakh that requires the Messiah to be born "normally" of human parents.

Quite the contrary, the messiah (to be a messiah) you must be a blood born descendant of King David through Solomon's line. [Genesis 49:10, Isaiah 11:1, Jeremiah 23:5, 33:17; Ezekiel 34:23-24]

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This is a straw mans - we do not believe the incarnate Word is a “demi-god.” The fullness of divinity was united with His humanity. He was no more a demi-god than the ancient tabernacle which was filled with the glory and shekinah of the Lord.

The traditional teachings of Chritianity fit into a demi-god definition.  Jesus' will was servant to and separate from God's will (not my wil but thine be done) and yet Trinitarian christianity holds that Jesus was at the same time fully god.  Since God is not servant to anything nor anyone it would seem that Jesus is represented as a god and also as servant to a greater God.  Thus the term "demi-god" fits just as the term "mangod" also fits.

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...and hence a High Christology leads to the identification of Christ with the Godhead, rather than a subordinate semi-divine figure.

There is one thing to hold to dogma vs doctrine vs tradition vs what the NT record holds.  It is very easily read that Jesus' will was separate and opposed to God's will (not my will but Thine be done) and also in this same statement is Jesus being servant to God.  At such a point if you still wish to label him "as God" while at the same time being servant "to God" you must identify him as a demi-god to be logically coherent.  It is either this or you are saying that "God on ground in flesh is servant to God Omnipresent" which makes no rational sense (not that the doctrine of the trinity ever did but for the benefit of the doubt I'll make this argument).

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Though the Messiah’s eternal divine identity is explicated in the New testament, I believe there are plenty of pointers, hints or indications if you will, in the Hebrew scriptures concerning the divinity of the Messiah, such as Isaiah 9:6, Micah 5:2, Psalm 2, Psalm 45:7, Daniel 7, Isaiah 48:12-17 etc. etc.

Taking into account the spurious nature of 1 John 5:7-8 I find it funny that Trinitarians still hold to illogical dogmas formed at uninspired councils that were merely drawn up as a compromise from the get-go.

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Before we delve into linguistics/semantics, we would first like to correct the blatant historical error committed by the author. The word “alma” was in fact translated into “parthenos” (The Greek word used for “virgin”) by Jewish scholars, who translated the Hebrew scriptures into the Greek Septuagint approximately 200 years before Christ Himself was even born. The Septuagint is not a product of the church, it was simply maintained by the church due to the fact that Christ and His apostles quoted directly from it, validating its authority and authenticity (amongst other issues).

Though the word may not technically refer to a virgin, it is certainly not excluded from referring to a virgin. In fact, we would argue that it implies a virgin, for it represents a young lady who possesses the characteristic of virginity. Considering both is cultural and linguistic context, we can affirm that it in fact refers to a young lady who is both unmarried and sexually mature.

It means maiden not virgin.  And second, the context of this "prophecy" was demonstrated to a King as a sign.  That Jesus was born hundreds of years later means little to a King long dead.  Another thing, there is a problem inwhich the child describe is said to not know between good and evil at a point.  So much for Jesus being without sin if this actually does apply to him.

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Not only is this claim out-dated and un-schorlarly, it’s a claim that certainly backfires on the author as a Jew. First I will address the fact that the author has applied double standards and shot himself in the foot, and then I will address the very nature of the claim itself.

1) The thesis concerning stolen pagan myths and concepts is one promulgated by the uneducated, narrow minded, gullible, and uncritical, against both Christianity AND Judaism.

Actually it is quite scholarly to recognize the various cross-overs between various godmen which existed in this time period and in stories which predate Christanity.  The virgin who births a child that comes to die for mankind and saves only those who believe in him goes as far back as Osirius, Hercules, and Mythra (born on Dec 25th).  The openning page of www.messiahtruth.com has alot on the development of the christological idea of messiah and how this is completely different from the jewish concept.

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If the author of the article were to be consistent in his reasoning, he would have to conclude likewise, that the Tanakh itself is derived from pagan sources.

Some stories were.  The flood and spirits and demons all demonstrate a very persian idea developing within Judaism.

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Skeptics have often pointed out parallels between the Tanakh and pagan traditions: The Genesis creation account with the Babylonian creation account; the birth of Moses with the birth of Sergon of Akkad, have striking similarities. The author was either ignorant of this fact, or simply inconsistent in his approach due his theological bias.

It is easier to see fault in that which we do not agree with.  I see fault in both really at points but of course the Christian claim that their mangod is described in Jewish scripture is the biggest farce ever.

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2) The Gospel writers were Jewish,

Actually, no one knows.  The labels given them are "educated guesses."  No one knows who wrote the book of Hebrews and most now accept that Paul did not write it as it doesn't fit into his writing style.  It is also very flawed and wouldn't have come from someone very versed in Jewish tradtion.  Matthew is perhaps the only book that was originally written in Hebrew and there are some sectations that still exist which hold to a very Orthodox Jewish stance theologically but accept that the Rabbi Joshua(Jesus) who existed was messianic, the Netzarim come to mind.

Much of what was written however lacks a good understanding of the Tanakh, especially Matthew's use of prophecy to back the claims of his mangod.  So the claim that these were "Jewish" authors is entirely based upon blind faith and not a researched opinion at all.

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...establishing an eye-witness account of historical events that took place in the first century - it is inconceivable that they would try and construct a historical narrative by borrowing from mythologies concerning non-existent beings.

Exactly why is it inconceivable that they would try to construct a historical narrative by borrowing from mythologies concerning non-existenct beings?  Mankind has done this forever up through history.  Or perhaps you are one of the few who believe that Osirius saved you, Mythra died for you, and Hira Krishna is the devine light?  Perhaps you believe the fantastic tales of all religions as equal?  No?  I didn't think so.

One thing I have found is that if something happened that was an unexplained phenomena in "another religion" it was either Satan or it was a myth.  But if it is reported to have happened in "my" religion it is literal fact, those guy wouldn't do what every single other religion on earth did.

And you try to call this Rabbi inconsistent?

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They consistently used the Old Testament to back up what they were saying,

Matthew (for example only) generated history that did not take place (Herod killing children at birth of Jesus), misused Tanakh scripture out of context ("out of Egypt I have called"), and created/invented scripture when there was none to be found (shall be called a Nazarine.)  The author of Hebrews is an even greater liar and user of pious fraud to make his claims.  Sorry, but it doesn't float.

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...and it is upon the authority of Isaiah 7:14,

Which version?  And is it being used in truthful context?  Or is it the manipulated lie of "virgin" when it means "maiden" and the manipluated lie that it is speaking for a child to be born centuries later as a sign to a king that would be long dead by then.  It doesn't add up in context.

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...and the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit alone, which lead them to conclude that this was a prophetic passage concerning the virgin birth of the Messiah. Furthermore, there is simply and plainly, NO pagan parallel at ALL to the Christian doctrine of the Holy Spirit conceiving The Word in the womb of the blessed virgin St Mary. The so-called pagan parallels all involve some sort of sexual activity or penetration.

Whoopie do.  So, the virgin born pagan mangod who comes to earth, is slain, returns to his specific god, then comes back to tell only his followers that he can save them if they believe, then he goes away again....that doesn't have "NO pagan parallel?"

I think you are truly not writing that with a straight face, and if you are then you really have not read enough about the mystery religions that existed at this time in question and before this time.  Much of what Christianity syncretized into it was of pagan origin, rituals and all.

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This is a mere assertion, and does not prove necessary, the interpretation that Israel is the subject being bruised, crushed, and brought to the slaughter. This is also how The Christ is depicted according to the historical narratives of the Gospels. We must look beyond this trivial and irrelevant point to truly understand who the identity of this particular servant is.

Isaiah 53 is probably the easiest missionary claim to defeat by simply reading and applying what is written about this "suffering servant."

-"Isa 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth."  Jesus spoke in the NT record.

-"Isa 53:9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither [was any] deceit in his mouth."  Jesus became violent in a temple and cursed a fig tree that didn't produce fruit while it was out of season.  Justified violence is still violence.

And the most damaging: -"Isa 53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put [him] to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin,..." It is not the Christian claim that a soul is the restitutional act or offering but a body upon a cross that bleeds.

- "...he shall see [his] seed," Jesus had no blood offspring and the term used here is only used for blood offspring not for followers.

-" ...he shall prolong [his] days," Jesus died a relatively young man for his day and does not fullfill this part of the text either.

Of Christian claims this is perhaps the easiest to denote as fallacious and just goes to demonstrate the selective nature found within their cognitive dissonance.

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Clearly Isaiah 53 concludes with the fact that the suffering and death of the servant is an atoning sacrifice.

Understand that this "atoning sacrifice" is a soul then?  Realize that no matter how you wish to manipulate this discussion further, it has already not applied to your christian dogmas?

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The Resurrection is one of the best attested facts of history, than any other miracle in antiquity. I made a comment on this issue in a previous thread, I will copy what i said and repaste it here:

The resurrection has as much evidence, and the exact type of evidence as that of any other type of blind faith belief not based on rational thought.
Nothing more, nothing less.  If you were to approach this purely on a scientific level you could not even demonstrate that Jesus existed when the gospels claim as there is no secular or outside sources that speak of him which hold to critical review.
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« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2005, 09:00:18 AM »

Joseph,

I had to smile at this part of your post:

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This site is called "Orthodox Christianity" but let me please say that is very silly.  There is nothing orthodox in christianity and every single claim has disagreement within the christian sectations.  Last I read it was 30,000 plus.

As we are now in Great Lent, I am going to try my best to be charitable towards you, but you really have come across here as rather ignorant. Orthodox Christianity is the faith espoused by the Orthodox Church, not some sort of small 'o' orthodoxy that can be synthesised from the core beliefs of all who claim to be Christian. We are one Church, not 30,000, though we are made up of several local churches, such as the Russian, Greek and (my own jurisdiction) Romanian. We are, however, undivided in faith. I'm afraid it seems as though you are criticising somthing without being aware of what it is. That's OK, you can't be expected to know everything, but I suggest that you research the Orthodox Church before criticising Her.

Much of your later arguments also strike me as uninformed. For instance, almost everything known about Mithraism comes from the 4th century - how then can you argue that Christianity was influenced by Mithraism and not the reverse? Oh, and Mithras wasn't born, he was pulled fully formed from a rock.

Do you mind my asking what, if any, religious beliefs you hold? You come across occasionally as a bit of a sola scripturalist (we Orthodox do not hold to such a view) in your handling of Biblical quotes but at other times merely as a debunker of Christianity by any means necessary. You certainly don't sound to me as though you are Jewish, they can usually see the parallels between Orthodox Christianity and Judaism, whilst obviously being fully aware of the differences - take MBZ as an example.

If you want to discuss your impressions of Orthodox Christianity further then I will be happy to help, but please can I ask that you refrain from using words like 'fraud' when referring to the evangelists and other saints. That is overly provocative and could lead to anger, which is something I'm trying to avoid in this period of fasting. As long as you use temperate and respectful language (again MBZ is a good example) most people here will be only too happy to discuss any disagreements you might have with us.

James
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« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2005, 10:19:53 AM »

JosephofMessiah,

I appreciate you stepping up to the plate and challenging my refutation. I have read your response; your rhetoric was amusing, your misrepresentations disappointing, your red herrings revealing, and your double standards speak volumes. I am very much eager to address your points; however, I am currently bogged down by quite a few university assignments which are due in the near future. I would like to do an uncut job of this, so anticipate a proper response within the next 1-1.5 weeks; we will have fun, it’s a promise.

Peace.
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« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2005, 10:48:53 AM »

You guys are not seriously going to entertain this joker, are you?
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« Reply #15 on: March 16, 2005, 11:24:11 AM »

FYI: There is a new book out entitled "Why The Jews Rejected Jesus" by David Klinghoffer. It is reviewed on page 45 of this month's "National Review" magazine
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« Reply #16 on: March 16, 2005, 01:00:23 PM »

EA,

    I have reserved a front row seat for the response.  Grin Grin Grin Grin   In the spirit of Great Lent, I will refrain from all sarcasm to our new and very cynical friend.

Joseph,

    Are you threatened by Apostolic Succession?
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« Reply #17 on: March 16, 2005, 02:31:31 PM »

Joseph,

This is an Orthodox Christian forum and if you come here calling our religion silly we will simply ban you from posting here. But since you are new and seem to have intelligent things to say I'll leave it at that for now.

I found one point you made to be quite comical:

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Actually, Christians can't count. According to NT text Jesus was here, died(left), came back to be seen again, then went up into the sky. Which is really meaningless on a scientific level because even if he was traveling at light speed he wouldn't have gotten very far even now. But I digress.

You don't actually think we think heaven is a place inside the physical universe that Jesus was travelling to, do you? Shocked It says in the Bible that he ascended to a point where they could see him no more, not that he progressed "at light speed" (why a flying man would be subject to the speed of light I still don't get though! Tongue). Basically heaven is "another dimension" so to speak and he "went" there. He didn't remain in the physical universe. Sheesh.

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« Reply #18 on: March 16, 2005, 05:31:11 PM »

There is a wonderful history of Christianity on A&E.. You can buy the  DVD  or read the full transcripts on the A&E website: "From Jesus to Christ" It is the story of how Christianity came to become a faith and within it is a very well done history of the Jewish beginnings, the issues faced beteen Jews, Christians, and Pagans, etc.  and why there was lack of full belief by all of the Jews.  Note early Christians were Jews... and they worked to convert Pagans....But all was not well in "paradise' as the saying goes, and the full commitment of all Jews behind Christianity didn't happen due to a hole list of reasons, some political at the time...
The A&E feature uses leading theologians and researchers in the study of religious history...

I highly recommend it.



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« Reply #19 on: March 16, 2005, 08:35:11 PM »

Joseph,

I had to smile at this part of your post:
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Joseph:
Actually, Christians can't count.  According to NT text Jesus was here, died(left), came back to be seen again, then went up into the sky.  Which is really meaningless on a scientific level because even if he was traveling at light speed he wouldn't have gotten very far even now.  But I digress.

As we are now in Great Lent, I am going to try my best to be charitable towards you, but you really have come across here as rather ignorant.

Being called ignorant by a Trinitarian is like being called egotistical or racial bigot by a member of the SS.

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Orthodox Christianity is the faith espoused by the Orthodox Church, not some sort of small 'o' orthodoxy that can be synthesised from the core beliefs of all who claim to be Christian. We are one Church, not 30,000, though we are made up of several local churches, such as the Russian, Greek and (my own jurisdiction) Romanian. We are, however, undivided in faith.

This "undivided in faith" does not speak to what I was saying.  That any given sectation of christianity claims to be "the Orthodox" is the exact same thing as the Rabbi in his reponse claiming an over-reaching idea of "Judaism believed."  The author's response was not a very self-reflective idea inthat if he can make a claim to "orthodoxy" of any kind, even though 30,000 sectations of Christianity exist, then so also can this Rabbi.  There are differences within Judaism and Christianity, to not realize this is to not be logical.  I would also call anyone on the carpet who would attempt to label their particular sectation as "the Orthodox" because nothing demonstrates this in the least (just like nothing really demosntrates that what the Rabbi claims of "Judaism" as a whole is "the Orthodox" of all Judaism).

All I'm saying is goose and gander aren't being addressed here-in.  It would be better to argue and say that the Rabbi did not bring into viewpoint "all sectations" of Judaism and various Rabbis, just as he does not bring into all the sectations within Christendom in his arguments (which I understand this as it was not needed for his arguments and would have weakened it if he had done so).

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I'm afraid it seems as though you are criticising somthing without being aware of what it is. That's OK, you can't be expected to know everything, but I suggest that you research the Orthodox Church before criticising Her.

Just because I call my cat "Spot" doesn't make her a dog.
Just because a church or group of churches are labeled by their followers as "the Orthodox" does not make them so.  However it would be a great name in order to have a sense of authority, whether they actually really had / have such authority or not is what the other 29,000 sectations of Christendom would argue against.

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Much of your later arguments also strike me as uninformed. For instance, almost everything known about Mithraism comes from the 4th century - how then can you argue that Christianity was influenced by Mithraism and not the reverse?

Mithraism was perhaps a borrowing syncretic faith much like Christianity is.  I do not really care too much about who borrowed from whom it is just that the comparisons and similiarities exist which are very interesting.  I also have to then make the statement that it is not logical to make a decision about which mangod you will serve as perhaps your parents didn't hear about the correct one neither were you taught about the correct one.  Perhaps Osiris or Hercules is really mad at you for serving your version of mangod while they are the ones that really did the dying.  I use this argument only because it has little demonstrated ability to answer it as all faith is based upon belief without reason and any one of those who accept that any given man was "a god" all pretty much fall into the same boat.

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Oh, and Mithras wasn't born, he was pulled fully formed from a rock.

Do you mind my asking what, if any, religious beliefs you hold?

Skeptical Deistic, I believe it when I see it or have very good reason to accept that it exists on a researched and historical level.

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You come across occasionally as a bit of a sola scripturalist (we Orthodox do not hold to such a view) in your handling of Biblical quotes...

I must ask your forgiveness in this light that you are not "sola scripturalists" inthat those are the type of people I deal with in southern USA.  And of course they are all holding a KJV translation in their hands as they claim this.  If you are not a sola scripturalist then there is much more to discuss however because the NT record is not empirical perhaps.

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...but at other times merely as a debunker of Christianity by any means necessary.

I have a great dislike for the teachings found in mainstream Christianity and by such I have collected a great deal of information which answers basic to medium difficulty missionary statements from various sources.  I use Jewish Rabbinical input greatly because, to put it bluntly, those guys really have the best answers to discredit christian claims hands down.

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You certainly don't sound to me as though you are Jewish, they can usually see the parallels between Orthodox Christianity and Judaism, whilst obviously being fully aware of the differences - take MBZ as an example.

I see little to no "parallels" between Christianity and Judaism.

-Don't drink blood vs. have communion.
-Man's death can not be used for atonement vs. the mangod's death is for atonement.
-Ezekiel 18:20 says no Orignal Sin vs. Paul in Romans says Original Sin.
-God is One, Behold the Lord our God is one Lord vs. God is three who are one(trinty).
-Levitical animal offerings, flour, or atonement money which are done according to the law by a levitical priest can bring total atonement for sin vs. levitical animal offerings can not cleanse sin (author of Hebrews), only the death of the mangod and belief upon this atoning death can / "only through blood is remission."
-God is not a man (Tanakh) vs. the Word became flesh.
-God's ways are not our ways vs. "only begotten son of..."

In fact, I see these two as almost diametrically opposed sets.  Perhaps my own biase is involved but it would help if you would denote a single doctrine that Judaism and Christianity share.  Perhaps that there "is a God" or perhaps that "God is the Creator" but even in these statements they disagree on WHO is the Creator (YHVH vs. "God the Son").

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If you want to discuss your impressions of Orthodox Christianity further then I will be happy to help, but please can I ask that you refrain from using words like 'fraud' when referring to the evangelists and other saints.

Sorry, I get this from my background in police work.  I call'em like I see'em and there are various points within the translational and manipulation of the Tanakh scripture by NT authors which can be nothing more than fraudulent useage.  The authors of Matthew and Hebrews are easily demonstrated as such.

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That is overly provocative and could lead to anger,

I think that anger can be a good thing in life.  It makes us seek beyond our enculturations and seek more deeply to understand what and why we accept certain things if we are pushed hard enough.

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...which is something I'm trying to avoid in this period of fasting. As long as you use temperate and respectful language (again MBZ is a good example) most people here will be only too happy to discuss any disagreements you might have with us.

James

If I seem disrespectful at times I do apologize but please understand that my background is not one of exactly being polite, HEH.  I am very blunt and direct at times and for this I will apologize in advance.

Also, if I may, I didn't come here on my own I was sorta wrangled into coming and responsing to this single thread by someone on another internet forum.  I can honestly say that I have little interest in hanging around after I hear the responses to these positions I have put forth in my own response or perhaps the discussion contained here-in is talked (typed) out and done.
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« Reply #20 on: March 16, 2005, 08:50:08 PM »

JosephofMessiah,

I appreciate you stepping up to the plate and challenging my refutation. I have read your response; your rhetoric was amusing, your misrepresentations disappointing, your red herrings revealing, and your double standards speak volumes.

Goodie!

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I am very much eager to address your points; however, I am currently bogged down by quite a few university assignments which are due in the near future.

Take time, university assignments come before online debates.  I'll give you a bit of advise, if you are doing a paper which your respective professor has written ANYTHING on it, and you quote your proff's paper in yours, it is a definite auto boost in rappor, :0).  Ego and all plays into such things greatly.

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I would like to do an uncut job of this, so anticipate a proper response within the next 1-1.5 weeks; we will have fun, it’s a promise.

Peace.

Could I ask (since you claim weeks might pass) that you email me at "mcgyver777ATyahooDOTcom" (normal setup applies inthat you change AT to @ and DOT to .) so that I can return and read your response, since you were so good with researched material and quoting source material I would honestly like to read it, perhaps respond a little.
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« Reply #21 on: March 16, 2005, 08:52:08 PM »

You guys are not seriously going to entertain this joker, are you?

Joke?
Heh.

Funny.
Either help the conversation along, give good input, or see your way out of it.
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« Reply #22 on: March 16, 2005, 08:53:49 PM »

(snip)
Joseph,

Are you threatened by Apostolic Succession?

Never heard of them, they a grunge band?
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« Reply #23 on: March 16, 2005, 09:10:56 PM »

Joseph,

This is an Orthodox Christian forum and if you come here calling our religion silly we will simply ban you from posting here.

"OrthodoxChristanity.net Community | Unmoderated Forums | Free-For-All"

Sorry, I posted a response in a location I believed was unmoderated and free for all.  I guess you guys are not literalists.  Please explain to me the way you interpret unmoderated free for all to mean you'll ban me for speaking my mind?

Let me just say this....it figures.[/u]

I have been indirectly invited to several "christian" sites only to have them all act like three year olds.  When something is put up they don't like they put their fingers in their ears.  Censorship basically means "we would rather not let you speak your mind than attempt to defend our faith in a rational and researched way."

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But since you are new and seem to have intelligent things to say I'll leave it at that for now.

Could I offer you a sort of compromise.  Instead of "banning" me (which is the Christian tradition up through time) perhaps you could simply edit my posts of offensive points and let the arguments stand.  Such that if the terms I use are beyond what you allow, decrease them but keep the over-all meaning of the post.  I tend to keep my language pg-13ish anyways, so I really do not see a need to edit them unless you would simply not want a response to blatant posts which call for a response due to lacking credibility.  I mean, if you have an "unmoderated freeforall" location and someone in it outright attacks a jewish rabbi's response to why they do not hold to Jesus as messiah, and then you do not allow meaningful responses to his response...all you get is what those in Wacco got, cultation brainwashing with everyone in perfect agreement for fear of being rejected by the group...regardless if their claims hold water or not in reality.

In all honesty I should expect it given the Christian tradition to censure.

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I found one point you made to be quite comical:
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Joseph:
Actually, Christians can't count.  According to NT text Jesus was here, died(left), came back to be seen again, then went up into the sky.  Which is really meaningless on a scientific level because even if he was traveling at light speed he wouldn't have gotten very far even now.  But I digress.

You don't actually think we think heaven is a place inside the physical universe that Jesus was travelling to, do you? Shocked

The authors of this did.  The "heavens" were a firmament place in the sky.  The "earth" was flat and floated upon a water base.
That is why Jesus is said to "go up" and not just vanish.  His direction of travel was in the direction of "heaven."
The modern idea that heaven is "in another realm" was not what the original authors believed nor what the peoples of their day believed.  You have to take it in context of cultural beliefs for it to have meaning.

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It says in the Bible that he ascended to a point where they could see him no more, not that he progressed "at light speed" (why a flying man would be subject to the speed of light I still don't get though! Tongue).

It says he went "up."  This direction of travel was toward "heaven" in the mind of the author that wrote it.  Whether this actually happened can be greatly debated as if he was going to another dimension or another realm he need not TRAVEL upward.  The reason it is written as such is purely because ancient man believed heaven was "up."

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Basically heaven is "another dimension" so to speak and he "went" there. He didn't remain in the physical universe. Sheesh.

Anastasios

I know that is the modern take on it.
I was contexting this story in the light of ancient man's understandings of their physical universe which we as modern men either accept the story as mythos or we accept that at a point Jesus transitioned into another realm, because "heaven" is not "up" anymore neither does Zeus sit on Mt. Olympus.
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« Reply #24 on: March 16, 2005, 09:41:09 PM »

Joseph,

Read further on the free for all description: "Although unmoderated, we will erase a post that violates the rules of the forum."

And one of those rules is, no bashing the Orthodox faith. Questions about Orthodoxy, polite critiques of Orthodox teachings? Fine. Calling our religion silly? No thanks. It's not that we are against debate, but THIS particular website was originally conceived of as a place for Orthodox to discuss Orthodoxy without having to suffer constant innundations of attacks. Smiley

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« Reply #25 on: March 16, 2005, 09:42:12 PM »

Joseph,


I dont debate too strongly, but I know that forum has the most well-mannered mode of debate, both issues within Orthodox Christianity and issues between Christian denominations or Orthodoxy and other religions. Whatever your past experiences, if you come in here with a more positive outlook, you will find that reasonable discourse is the norm here. There's no need for a defensive attitude--just be prepared to be honestly and directly countered in your arguments. There are many well-educated people who will refute some of the claims you have made thus far regarding Christianity in general.

Anyway, welcome! Hope you can find this board a place for great discussion and friendships.
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« Reply #26 on: March 16, 2005, 09:45:20 PM »

Joseph,

I think you hit the point: we Orthodox, following the tradition of Origen, do not believe that all scripture is literal nor do we believe that it is inerrant. Origen taught that God put factual errors in Scripture so that smart people would see it has a spiritual sense to it.  Now that doesn't mean to run off and start believing the Resurrection is a fable but at the same time we don't have to get bogged down in these kinds of literal vs. allegorical issues like Protestants do.

Anastasios
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« Reply #27 on: March 16, 2005, 10:07:59 PM »

Joseph,

I think you hit the point: we Orthodox, following the tradition of Origen, do not believe that all scripture is literal nor do we believe that it is inerrant.

Very interesting.  You have to excuse me because I deal with red neck "this book here [holding KJV] God means every word literally" is what I face daily.

That you allow yourselves to question any given text already has me giving you cudos.

Quote
Origen taught that God put factual errors in Scripture so that smart people would see it has a spiritual sense to it. Now that doesn't mean to run off and start believing the Resurrection is a fable but at the same time we don't have to get bogged down in these kinds of literal vs. allegorical issues like Protestants do.

Anastasios

Nice.
So, does this particular incantation/sectation still accept the basics:
-virgin birth
-Original sin (as Paul denotes in Romans, "unto condemnation")
-immaculate conception of Mary
-atoning death of Jesus' body upon cross
-only through blood is remission
-Jesus as same "essence" as YHVH-God yet limited in knowledge, location, and having no power of his own according to NT record.
-resurrection bodily (or spiritually)

Seems to me that if you accept that scripture isn't perfect...floodgates open!
Is then "the Church" seen as the empirical body?
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« Reply #28 on: March 17, 2005, 12:24:00 AM »


Joke?
Heh.

Funny.
Either help the conversation along, give good input, or see your way out of it.


Hey, JosephtheMessiahless.
You do not give me ultimatums. I would have banned your butt after the first post.
You come here offering nothing, seeking nothing - so you shall receive.
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« Reply #29 on: March 17, 2005, 03:18:50 AM »

Dear Joseph:
I will reply as best I can to some of the points made in your last post.

Quote
Nice.
So, does this particular incantation/sectation still accept the basics:
-virgin birth
-Original sin (as Paul denotes in Romans, "unto condemnation")
-immaculate conception of Mary
-atoning death of Jesus' body upon cross
-only through blood is remission
-Jesus as same "essence" as YHVH-God yet limited in knowledge, location, and having no power of his own according to NT record.
-resurrection bodily (or spiritually)

We do not question the Virgin Birth. It happened. It is more thoroughly documented outside the scripture proper as well as in scripture and tradition itself.

As origional sin goes, are you speaking of the Roman Catholic interpretation? In other words, do you see sin as a leftover guilt from Adam's sin, or the curse of sin and death brough about by the disobedience of Adam and Eve? We, as Orthoodx Christians believe the latter. We, as humans had it all, even close comminuion with God at the beginning, but we wanted more. Our selfisheness caused our separation.

Atonment was not the only reason for the Crucifixtion and Resurection. It was the renewal of life. We believe that by dying on the cross, Christ destroyed death by death, making manifest eternal ife for all humankind. Where we spend eternity is dependant on us. Do we accept the grace of God, and live in harmony with him, or do we reject it and go about our selfish ways? There is an old saying: " We go to Heaven together, or we suffer in hell alone." God now offers us a choice through Christ risen from the dead, and the new convenant established by Him.

If you are referring to the sacrifice on the cross as being the act that caused (and still causes) the remission of sins, you are correct.

As to the last point, there are more writings on the subject of the Trinity than I can muster in mere seconds. One of the best is, in my opinion, "The Faith" series by Clark Carlton. Its for beginners in the faith,and also well worded for those already familiar with it.    

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Seems to me that if you accept that scripture isn't perfect...floodgates open!
Is then "the Church" seen as the empirical body?

We beleive that the Holy Spirit is perfect. God is perfect. We as his stewarts on earth are not. But we have somehting beyond scripture that the other number of "denominations" do not have. We have a living, organic tradition and history, stemming from Christ and His Apostles to the present day. We know what works and what does not because of the evidence brought by it. Millions of confessors, martyrs, saints, asthetics, host of proofs, as well as people, and unbroken sucession, show it to be The Light. We do not jot it down to mere logic. "Truth is stranger that Fiction" as the saying goes. Faith cannot be mere logic, because some things are just plain illogical, including our very exhistance on this plain. The bottom line is we have seen the truth oif this faith, unbroken and undivided in Orthodoxy from the inception. The body of belivers, as well as our bishop, priests and deacons, is the church, and the church, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God is infallable because it speaks with the same voice through prayer and fasting. Like when something new is invented, it has to be done first, then written about to see if it works. We have 2000 years of proof. Bottom line, if you spend all the time examining the pool, how can you really tell if its wet or not?  

Joseph, pardon if I am being to foreward, but you seem either embittered or out to kill faith. The postings I have seen on this forum by you point to a mind that is trying to make it all out to be a lie, and telling us all what idiots we are for our belief. Why this hostility? What wrongs have Christians done you? And if none, why the utter show of disbelief? Why take it this far? What are you out to prove? And why do you not expect a hostile response to hostility? Many people misenterpret being christian as being a wimp, or always a softee. Such is not the case here. What you call bluntness, others could interpret as savage attacks. The attitude of "this is the way I am, now get over it", surely cannot be conducive toward debate. Your beliefs or unbeliefs are yours to bear. There is no need for you to jump on others. Your tone seems sarcastic, caustic, and untouchable. In any soical situation, that behavior would be seen as unacceptible. Why should this be different?

We welcome debate here. But it must be done correctly. No one likes having a bat swung in their face.

Peace.


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« Reply #30 on: March 17, 2005, 03:30:18 AM »

JosephofMessiah,

Much has been said, but I shall try to deal with the issues that appear to have been raised as systematically as practical. First I shall address a philosophy you seem to hold as fundamental, but is rejected by Christianity in particular, and most religion in general: Empiricism; we are not empiricists, but, ultimately, neither is anyone else.

When Descartes wrote 'Cogito Ergo Sum' in his Meditations he changed the face of philosophy forever, while he may have proven his existence to himself, he ultimately undermined all other empirical observations (though he didn't actually realize it, this was fully realized by such Philosophers as Hegel). What you observe: see, hear, smell, feel, taste, all of a sudden became irrelevant, who is to say that you're not just a brain in a jar being controlled by an evil genius? What is the implication of this? Simply that everything we believe (other than our own existence, though this does not extend to the existence of others) is based on Faith, our Observations and Historical Knowledge no less so than the Articles of our Religion. Even our systems of Logic are based on Axiomatic systems that must be accepted on faith (and if we dismiss these, can we still guarantee our existence? I'll have to think more on this one), there is nothing that can be proven absolutely; and ultimately, the set of axioms we do accept and work with (from Logic and Number Theory) lead us to the conclusion of G+¦del's Incompleteness Theorem; on the most fundamental level these axioms, by existing, contradict themselves and their conclusion in the form of this Theorem. Thus we have, what I believe to be, the most fundamental problem with Deism and Rationalism, their own Philosophy undermines itself (via G+¦del's Incompleteness Theorem). I hope this makes sense and I got my point across, as I moved fluidly easily from Descartes to Hegel to G+¦del (being a mathematician the latter comes easiest to me).

So what philosophy do we take? Ultimately one that is distinctly Orthodox: I believe it to have heavy Platonic influence, with some Semitisms mixed in, and everything re-interpreted in the Light of Christ and the Teachings of the Apostles, though some would dispute me on this matter, especially in regard to the Platonic influence. (Though there are hints of Trinitarian thought in the Old Testament (modern scholars would call them hints of polytheism from Early Semitic Religion), and they are even more prevalent in the New Testament, the Pre-Christian thought that most clearly demonstrated the potential for Trinitarian thought was Platonism, this is especially clear in the Neo-Platonic Plotinus who said that the 'One,' the 'Intelligence,' and the 'Soul' were three hypostases united in the one Essence of the 'One.') But whatever one believes about Philosophical influence, most everyone will agree that empiricism is not an element of Orthodox thought, and the Aristotelian tendencies towards empiricism were rejected in favour of the Platonic concept of Form-Matter relationship.

The general consensus of Judaism has always been that the messiah would either come to or rebuld the temple if need be. This site is called "Orthodox Christianity" but let me please say that is very silly. There is nothing orthodox in christianity and every single claim has disagreement within the christian sectations. Last I read it was 30,000 plus.

Now that we have addressed our Philosophical differences (which should go a long ways towards explaining other differences), allow me to address some of the other issues presented more directly. You seem to not have a proper understanding of Orthodox Ecclesiology, not that this is an accusation, I would argue that very few outside Orthodox have a proper understanding of our Ecclesiology (maybe the Catholics and Non-Chalcedonians, but that's another issue entirely that I do not intend to digress into). Technically speaking there are not 30,000 different Christian sects, there is One Christian Church, the Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church; all who are outside of it are not Christians at all, even if they may (falsely) claim to be. I grant that this may sound arrogant, but the notion of Communion as well as Apostolic Succession has always been fundamental to our Ecclesiology. We are the First Christian Church, all other 'christian' sects split off from us, our Bishops have Apostolic Succession, that is to say that they were Ordained by Bishops who were Ordained by Bishops and so on and so forth back to the Bishops who were Ordained by the Apostles, who were Ordained by Christ, this line of Succession is an unbroken line. Our Ancient Patriarchates can even trace their lineage back to the Apostle who was originally in their See (Constantinople to St. Andrew, Alexandria to St. Mark, Antioch to St. Peter, and Jerusalem to St. James...I believe all these lists are on the Internet). On top of this there is the Notion of Communion (which if to be discussed in detail is a bit more complex), even if one has Apostolic Succession but is not in Communion with the Orthodox Church (e.g. the Roman Catholics), they are, technically, not Christians. Thus, to be a Christian one has to be under a Bishop with Apostolic Succession who is in Communion with the Orthodox Church; this is not a new Ecclesiology that we came up with, but the one put forth by St. Ignatios of Antioch, a late first, early second, century Bishop who was a Disciple of St. John the Evangelist. And yes, we do consider the Church, rather than the Scripture, to be the source of Revelation and Authority (though don’t think the process is neat and clean by any standards).

I have been indirectly invited to several "christian" sites only to have them all act like three year olds. When something is put up they don't like they put their fingers in their ears. Censorship basically means "we would rather not let you speak your mind than attempt to defend our faith in a rational and researched way."

Concerning Censorship, I'm not a big fan of it either, at least not online (as a Monarchist I wont pretend to oppose all Censorship), in fact I was confronted a week or two back for using 'banned terms,' but if you just use more politically correct language and stick with using arguments for polemics rather than emotionally-charged words, you'll be ok...as long as they're not censoring thought I'm sure we can both deal with it; it's not my board so I don’t make the rules, if it was, I'd let you call me an idiot (or whatever you want) until your heart's content, as long as you have real arguments included in the posts.

So, does this particular incantation/sectation still accept the basics:
-virgin birth
-Original sin (as Paul denotes in Romans, "unto condemnation")
-immaculate conception of Mary
-atoning death of Jesus' body upon cross
-only through blood is remission
-Jesus as same "essence" as YHVH-God yet limited in knowledge, location, and having no power of his own according to NT record.
-resurrection bodily (or spiritually)

Let me address these issues (very briefly) one by one, do we accept:

virgin birth -- Yes, as Dogma.

Original sin -- No, at least not as the Protestants and Catholics Present it. Sin is not biological, and we're not Guilty of Adam's Sin, though the World is tainted by Sin, and thus those in the World have a tendency towards Sin, but are not born with the sin of Adam per se.

immaculate conception of Mary -- Without Original Sin, the theology becomes fairly pointless, so No.

atoning death of Jesus' body upon cross -- Yes , but unlike the Anselmian position of the Catholics and Protestants, it is not the entirety of our soteriology, it is simply one (I would argue relatively small), aspect of our Soteriology. A much more important aspect being the Incarnation of Christ, and the uniting of God and Man inherent therein. Moreover, I, and most Orthodox, would argue that Christ would have still become Incarnate and come to earth even if humanity had not sinned and fallen.

only through blood is remission -- No, only through Grace, only through Mercy, perhaps...if the Blood you're referring to is the Eucharist, that statement may have a place in Sacramental Theology, in the proper context, and through Sacramental Theology in Soteriology...but we would not accept the statement in the manner that the protestants present it.

Jesus as same "essence" as YHVH-God yet limited in knowledge, location, and having no power of his own according to NT record. -- Christ of the Same Essence with God, Yes, Dogmatically. Concerning the second part, I'd have to say no. The Church spent 700 Years defining Christology, so I don’t think I can do it justice here and now (especially since it's past my bedtime, and I'm tired), but in Short, we believe God to be Three Hypostases (Persons) united together in one Ousia (Essence, Nature). Christ is One Hypostasis, but has two Ousias, one Human and one Divine. Now Energy and Will are Properties of the Ousia, thus Christ has two Energies and two Wills, one Human and one Divine. Christ is Perfect God because of the Divine Ousia, He is Perfect Man because his Human Ousia follows the Divine Ousia in every aspect, but not by Force, rather by its own accord; however, the Human Ousia is just that, Human, even if Perfect Human, thus explaining the Human Elements of Christ apparent in the Gospels, if we want to discuss the Communicatio Idiomatum (how the two Ousias communicate) that's an entirely different discussion, one that an Oecumenical Synod has not touched, and thus way beyond the scope of this thread.

resurrection bodily (or spiritually) -- Yes, as Dogma.

Seems to me that if you accept that scripture isn't perfect...floodgates open!
Is then "the Church" seen as the empirical body?

Well, I've already expressed the Orthodox Position on Empiricism, but yes we do view the Church as the Source of Revelation and Authority. However, you'll be hard pressed to find perfection or infallibility (let alone inerrancy) in the Orthodox Church Militant (the Church Triumphant is another issue, but not really relevant for this discussion). Scripture is subject to error, as are our bishops, and our councils, and even our councils that are summoned as oecumenical (councils of the entire Church), for the simple reason that they are all made up of humans who are imperfect and fallible creatures. Thus dogmatic decisions in the Orthodox Church are not easy things, they are ultimately advocated by Fathers, presented in Council, and made by consensus, a process that can take, and has often taken, hundreds of years. And despite the imperfections and the problems that we encounter along the way, we do accept as a premise of our faith that the Church, being the Body of Christ, is guided by Christ and that 'the gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church,' thus believing that the Church will eventually come to the orthodox position on an issue.
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« Reply #31 on: March 17, 2005, 04:57:14 AM »

JosephofMessiah,

I wanted to reply to your post but found that greekischristian covered everything I wanted to say and more - so I'd like to ask you a question instead. Do you actually know who we are yet? Do you know which church it is that is the Orthodox Church? If you don't you're certainly going to be at somewhat of a disadvantage debating with us.

Your outlook on Christianity appears to be disillusioned Catholic or Protestant. I can relate to that (I was an ex-Lutheran when I converted), but you'll quickly find that many of your impressions of what you call 'mainstream' Christianity simply do not apply to us. Your least of 'basics' was extremely telling. Did you not realise that original sin as believed in by the Roman Catholic church comes from Bl. Augustine of Hippo, or that Mary's Immaculate Conception dogma was formulated in 19th century? How can these be Christian basics if they only arose centuries or millennia later?

We are the Orthodox Church and our faith is Christian orthodoxy. What you think of as the mainstream is just the numerically superior group of all those who have departed from the faith. I can say categorically that you could transport me back to the 4th century and (language issues aside) I would be comfortable with the liturgy used - I still worship using the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom and sometimes that of St. Basil the Great - and you could sit me down with the priest and parishioners to discuss theology and we'd all find our beliefs were the same. How many of your other Christian sects can say the same? Drop a Lutheran in even a modern Orthodox liturgy and he'd be lost, and his theology just would not compare. I know, I was that Lutheran!

James
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« Reply #32 on: March 17, 2005, 08:50:55 PM »

This "undivided in faith" does not speak to what I was saying. That any given sectation of christianity claims to be "the Orthodox" is the exact same thing as the Rabbi in his reponse claiming an over-reaching idea of "Judaism believed."
The difference is that the succession of Orthodox Christianity in history is documented.  One can read the lists of apostolic succession in the Churches, and can also read the theological works of the early Christians and see the continuity.  With "Orthodox" Judaism, you have a group that, as soon as it comes into the light of history, is already only one of many groups, unable to document its claims to be the "true" successors of the original Israelites.  It should also be pointed out that the quotes Ekhristos Anesti gave were from rabbis speaking from WITHIN the Orthodox consensus, demonstrating that the rabbi who wrote the article wasn't representing the diversity within the Orthodox Jewish party properly.
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« Reply #33 on: March 18, 2005, 01:32:33 AM »

JosephofMessiah,

Much has been said, but I shall try to deal with the issues that appear to have been raised as systematically as practical. First I shall address a philosophy you seem to hold as fundamental, but is rejected by Christianity in particular, and most religion in general: Empiricism; we are not empiricists, but, ultimately, neither is anyone else.

The particular take on philosophy is nothing more than having things "mesh" in the end.  Building an idea upon an idea and in the end not having to ignore any particular part.  An example I would give is the levitical priesthood being labeled as eternal by the Tanakh while the author of Hebrews generates a new priesthood that Jesus is said to be a member of so he can be a "high priest" and yet still of the tribe of Judah.

I think your very nice discussion below is lost on me for the most part, but I'll continue as best I can.

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When Descartes wrote 'Cogito Ergo Sum' in his Meditations he changed the face of philosophy forever, while he may have proven his existence to himself, he ultimately undermined all other empirical observations (though he didn't actually realize it, this was fully realized by such Philosophers as Hegel). What you observe: see, hear, smell, feel, taste, all of a sudden became irrelevant, who is to say that you're not just a brain in a jar being controlled by an evil genius?

Or perhaps an actor on a stage? Heh. Or within another lifeforms quantum computer game akin to our game labeled "The Sims."
I find such things as meaningless arguments which are (while discussing them) interesting but not making much sense in the real world.  And of course you have to ask "what is the real world" and I would argue it is the world we have to deal with on a daily basis, regardless of "what is behind the scenes."

It is like when Rome decided that perhaps God had made the Earth appear older than it actually was.  (I have heard plenty of young earthers argue this as well.)  It is really a meaningless argument in the end because our science denotes it is as old as it is and by such we should treat the chemical reactions and real world applications as they are demonstrated to be...not as an ancient text literally wants us to have the fantastical belief that a deity used deviance in the generation of the real age of the matter we find.

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What is the implication of this? Simply that everything we believe (other than our own existence, though this does not extend to the existence of others) is based on Faith, our Observations and Historical Knowledge no less so than the Articles of our Religion.

I do not agree with this.  You see, religion is based upon a type of faith which is not repeated.  Jesus doesn't die on the cross on video every day for the world to see and this get lifted into the sky at the end of it on a repeated display so that everyone would accept him as "the only mangod that really was a mangod."  It is a type of faith that is not like a belief that the Sun will rise or the bus will follow the route on the schedule.  Granted everything is not an absolute, the sun comes up and sets at different times, there might be an eclipse, and the bus could be late or breakdown...the difference is in the basics I guess, inthat what is demonstrated personally and what is not demonstrated personally.  I know that mankind has space travel because I can witness a take-off (if we ever have another one that is) and I know that water can turn into ice because I can test it and repeat the test.  I can also test theological claims to an extent based upon historical artifacts which are denoted as from any given god.  These tests demonstrate how likely it was that this god exists, that the events took place, and whether or not it is likely that what is written is myth or not.

Being naturally biased however, mankind has a hard time separating mythos from reality for the most part.  Each religion has unexplain phenomena which is declared to have been done by their respective god.  Whether this is true or not is based upon enculturation for the most part, of your religion it is a miracle, of another it is either "satan" or myth.  I guess that is life.

I do not agree that my acceptance that my computer exists is the same as another's acceptance that their respective deity exists.  The evidence for my computer is that I used it to type this, that I can touch it, that it is composed of matter and uses energy (testable by my power meter out back).  There are vast demonstrated and repeated things which allow me to have a very high probability (if not totally absolute as a finite) that my computer exists in the realm that I find important.  Now, any given deity exists only in the mind of the person who envisions it.  The influences this deity has are only so far as science has not demonstrated the natural cause of that deity.  Many on alt.atheism say that the invisible pink unicorn in their basement is based on the same type of faith as any deity.

But again, my argument normally does not even address this for the most part because I tend to deal with internal consistency.  I realize that deities are based on faith but the texts that various theological sets say are from "their" god can be tested critically to see if they actually demonstrate what the dogmas of a respective group claim.  Being that you guys have already claimed that the NT record is not empirical I do not see a manner to demonstrate fallibility as of yet...that is why I requested what it was that you say is empirical but in saying is it the Church it was immediately met with "but the Church is composed of humans that are not infallible."  Since neither the Church nor your NT record are infallible then I suppose you guys leave it open.  Such that if the God of Israel were to show up it wouldn't really bother you too much because you didn't have the empirical ideology already set in stone (much like other sectations do) to destroy your form of faith.  The Church would merely say "this is where me messed up and here is what "the actual God" told us to do to fix it."

I find this an exceptional way to run a theological set, as it allows for (if not slow) but some progress toward less barberic ideas of atonement and salvation to be drawn up over time including the reduction of injust ideas such as "original sin doctrine of Paul" as denoted in Romans to be reduced to a point that any innocent fetus could be an offering to God because it lacked the sin of Adam upon it (would then be a sinless death).

Either way I am already impressed.

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Even our systems of Logic are based on Axiomatic systems that must be accepted on faith (and if we dismiss these, can we still guarantee our existence? I'll have to think more on this one), there is nothing that can be proven absolutely; and ultimately, the set of axioms we do accept and work with (from Logic and Number Theory) lead us to the conclusion of G+¦del's Incompleteness Theorem; on the most fundamental level these axioms, by existing, contradict themselves and their conclusion in the form of this Theorem. Thus we have, what I believe to be, the most fundamental problem with Deism and Rationalism, their own Philosophy undermines itself (via G+¦del's Incompleteness Theorem). I hope this makes sense and I got my point across, as I moved fluidly easily from Descartes to Hegel to G+¦del (being a mathematician the latter comes easiest to me).

I'll study more on Godel's Incompleteness Theorem before I respond to this part, but for the most part I think that without a particular world view already in place there is nothing but a "philosophical flatland" inwhich we could not even denote which is up or down.  But this does not diminish our ability to make judgements (and meaningful ones) from within our respective world view...and since all of humanity has basic axioms they accept (such as the reality of space-time, their own existence and the existence of others who are not them, ect) then it is possible to understand reality on a relative scale and to make very good claims from within this particular world view.  It is like saying "it is hot in here" and they ask how hot.  You say, it is 1000 degrees.  Whew! that is hot.  Then you say, "what scale is that on."  Oh, well, I use a scale that relates 1000 degrees to 98 degrees F.  Since most people know that 98 F is "hot" it makes sense, however if you were to say that it was 1000 degrees without having a prior set standard or template to judge the scale upon it is a meaningless statement outright.  It is like the color green to a man that has never had sight.

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So what philosophy do we take? Ultimately one that is distinctly Orthodox: I believe it to have heavy Platonic influence, with some Semitisms mixed in, and everything re-interpreted in the Light of Christ and the Teachings of the Apostles, though some would dispute me on this matter, especially in regard to the Platonic influence. (Though there are hints of Trinitarian thought in the Old Testament (modern scholars would call them hints of polytheism from Early Semitic Religion),

Rabbis would say that your "trinitarian" ideas which are in the "OT" are figments of your imagination.  And I have read plenty about how they say the "let us create man in our image" is magestic plurality (like a prosecutor saying "the people rest...") and some such.  How the term "elohim" is a plural form however in context it is a singular form.  How the "lord of the earth" call fire down from the "lord of the heavens" when S&G were being destroyed.  All these are answered very clearly by Rabbis who of course are in defense of the statement that God is One (perfect unity not compound nor trinity).  I tend to base my judgement about the trinity upon a reasoned look in the council of Nicea's manipulations and also on the compromise that it was.  Some wanting to say that Jesus was God and some denying that outright due to the Tanakh statements that God is not mortal.  The compromise coming together that he was perfect god and man at once (which makes no real sense in light of the NT record that says he was without ominscience, omnipotence, or omnipresence).  I dislike Trinitarianism also due to spurious additions to the NT record such as 1 John 5:7-8.

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...and they are even more prevalent in the New Testament, the Pre-Christian thought that most clearly demonstrated the potential for Trinitarian thought was Platonism, this is especially clear in the Neo-Platonic Plotinus who said that the 'One,' the 'Intelligence,' and the 'Soul' were three hypostases united in the one Essence of the 'One.') But whatever one believes about Philosophical influence, most everyone will agree that empiricism is not an element of Orthodox thought, and the Aristotelian tendencies towards empiricism were rejected in favour of the Platonic concept of Form-Matter relationship.

Form-Matter relationship?

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(snip)
Technically speaking there are not 30,000 different Christian sects, there is One Christian Church, the Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church; all who are outside of it are not Christians at all, even if they may (falsely) claim to be.

That's ok mate, you see, the other 29,999 sectations don't think you are really a Christian either.
From a skeptic looking in, it is like two ducks arguing over who is the "real" duck.

If you accept vicarious atonement of a mangod upon a cross then that's all I need.  If you accept transubstaniation, and then actually drink the wine and eat the bread, that's all I need.  We could discuss those two points in detail and I could / would never accept the Christian god's idea of morality and justice(revenge).

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I grant that this may sound arrogant,

NO, NO, please understand, it doesn't "sound" anything.  It is.  It is nothing but pious eletism and arrogance outright.

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...but the notion of Communion as well as Apostolic Succession has always been fundamental to our Ecclesiology. We are the First Christian Church, all other 'christian' sects split off from us, our Bishops have Apostolic Succession, that is to say that they were Ordained by Bishops who were Ordained by Bishops and so on and so forth back to the Bishops who were Ordained by the Apostles, who were Ordained by Christ, this line of Succession is an unbroken line. Our Ancient Patriarchates can even trace their lineage back to the Apostle who was originally in their See (Constantinople to St. Andrew, Alexandria to St. Mark, Antioch to St. Peter, and Jerusalem to St. James...I believe all these lists are on the Internet). On top of this there is the Notion of Communion (which if to be discussed in detail is a bit more complex), even if one has Apostolic Succession but is not in Communion with the Orthodox Church (e.g. the Roman Catholics), they are, technically, not Christians. Thus, to be a Christian one has to be under a Bishop with Apostolic Succession who is in Communion with the Orthodox Church; this is not a new Ecclesiology that we came up with, but the one put forth by St. Ignatios of Antioch, a late first, early second, century Bishop who was a Disciple of St. John the Evangelist. And yes, we do consider the Church, rather than the Scripture, to be the source of Revelation and Authority (though don’t think the process is neat and clean by any standards).

(snip)
Let me address these issues (very briefly) one by one, do we accept:

virgin birth -- Yes, as Dogma.

Since we know that DNA comes from father and mother, I'm guessing you hold to the idea that matter from Mary's body was used to generate the body of Jesus?

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Original sin -- No, at least not as the Protestants and Catholics Present it. Sin is not biological, and we're not Guilty of Adam's Sin, though the World is tainted by Sin, and thus those in the World have a tendency towards Sin, but are not born with the sin of Adam per se.

Then any fetus is a "perfect sacrifice."  Christianity without the doctrine of Original Sin harkens back to the ideas of Magog in my mind, in that any "innocent child who is sinless" could be a "sin sacrifice."  The doctrine of Original Sin found in NT Romans is what separates Christianity from other religions that have human offerings to appease the gods, and I find any that lack this doctrine almost scarey.  I at least hope that you guys accept that Jesus was the "final sacrifice" even if this is barberic in my own mind at least it means no others will be blooded to appease the deity.

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immaculate conception of Mary -- Without Original Sin, the theology becomes fairly pointless, so No.

atoning death of Jesus' body upon cross -- Yes , but unlike the Anselmian position of the Catholics and Protestants, it is not the entirety of our soteriology, it is simply one (I would argue relatively small), aspect of our Soteriology. A much more important aspect being the Incarnation of Christ, and the uniting of God and Man inherent therein.

I guess the whole "My ways are not your ways" and "nothing in the Earth, heaven's above, nor water's beneath" and "God is not a man..." stuff doesn't matter much to you guys.  You guys allow images in your churches?

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Moreover, I, and most Orthodox, would argue that Christ would have still become Incarnate and come to earth even if humanity had not sinned and fallen.

I have no doubt that a mortal man messiah would (and has) come repeatedly.  But the evidence that "THE END TIMES" messiah has come is not supported yet as not a single prophecy of this messiah has been done yet.  You guys claim he's coming back to do these things and in saying that you are allowing that he is not yet the messiah....he's a "maybe" at best.

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only through blood is remission -- No, only through Grace, only through Mercy, perhaps...if the Blood you're referring to is the Eucharist, that statement may have a place in Sacramental Theology, in the proper context, and through Sacramental Theology in Soteriology...but we would not accept the statement in the manner that the protestants present it.

Let me ask this one in another way, did Jesus have to die a bloody death upon a cross (be murdered as an innocent man) in order to take mankind's sin upon him and "save mankind" or not?  I basically agree on a moral level with the levitical doctrine of atonement that no human offering can be used for atonement.  It is my question to you about whether you accept the general idea that Jesus died to remove mankind's sins or not.

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Jesus as same "essence" as YHVH-God yet limited in knowledge, location, and having no power of his own according to NT record. -- Christ of the Same Essence with God, Yes, Dogmatically. Concerning the second part, I'd have to say no. The Church spent 700 Years defining Christology, so I don’t think I can do it justice here and now (especially since it's past my bedtime, and I'm tired), but in Short, we believe God to be Three Hypostases (Persons) united together in one Ousia (Essence, Nature).(snip)

Jesus was (NT record) limited in mind, had a mortal body, had no power of his own (Father did everything through him).  This does not fit into the traditional trinitarian argument, neither does the statements of Jesus from the cross (my God my God why do you butcher me) and from the garden (not my will but Thine be done).  Then again, I also dislike the additions done to the NT record by Trinitarians to support their claims such as 1 John 5:7-8 but that is a more educational objection than reasoned one.  The whole thing about being "omniscient yet limited in mind, omnipotent but servant, omnipresent but in flesh" doesn't fly with me personally either.

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resurrection bodily (or spiritually) -- Yes, as Dogma.

That was sorta a question.  Do you guys think resurrection bodily (his body came up from grave) or it was a "spiritual event."

Enjoyed my stay here so far, very engaging.
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« Reply #34 on: March 18, 2005, 01:52:49 AM »

JosephofMessiah,

I wanted to reply to your post but found that greekischristian covered everything I wanted to say and more - so I'd like to ask you a question instead. Do you actually know who we are yet?

The only real Christians?

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Do you know which church it is that is the Orthodox Church? If you don't you're certainly going to be at somewhat of a disadvantage debating with us.

I know enough about Christianity and the various sectations. I'll have to learn your particular take on things to get down to the "nitty and gitty" but so far it has gone quite well.

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Your outlook on Christianity appears to be disillusioned Catholic or Protestant. I can relate to that (I was an ex-Lutheran when I converted), but you'll quickly find that many of your impressions of what you call 'mainstream' Christianity simply do not apply to us. Your least of 'basics' was extremely telling. Did you not realise that original sin as believed in by the Roman Catholic church comes from Bl. Augustine of Hippo, or that Mary's Immaculate Conception dogma was formulated in 19th century? How can these be Christian basics if they only arose centuries or millennia later?

Coming from a university perspective, the basic tenants of Christendom didn't exist to the first followers. Virgin birth and mangod and euchristical meal all were late additions. Even the atoning death was a later addition. Heck, if you were to look at the "Q source" (theological theory about a source from which the NT gospel authors copied from) it lacks almost all of what modern day Christianity says is needed for salvatory reasons.

The reason I asked all that stuff upfront was in order to get a better idea of whom/who I was dealing with sectation wise.

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We are the Orthodox Church and our faith is Christian orthodoxy. What you think of as the mainstream is just the numerically superior group of all those who have departed from the faith.

29,999 other sectations claim, "those guys over there are heretics, a cult of minor numbers even, who have deparated the faith."

See the problem of an "outsider" looking in? I'm either doomed for all eternity to hell by your version of the christian mangod or doomed for all eternity to hell by the other 29,999 other sectations.

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I can say categorically that you could transport me back to the 4th century and (language issues aside) I would be comfortable with the liturgy used - I still worship using the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom and sometimes that of St. Basil the Great - and you could sit me down with the priest and parishioners to discuss theology and we'd all find our beliefs were the same. How many of your other Christian sects can say the same? Drop a Lutheran in even a modern Orthodox liturgy and he'd be lost, and his theology just would not compare. I know, I was that Lutheran!

James

Personally I think your ability to question the NT record as infallible and to say that the doctrine of Original Sin is not true already gives you guys the cudos over other sectations I have studied.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2005, 01:55:33 AM by JosephofMessiah » Logged

Joseph
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« Reply #35 on: March 18, 2005, 04:42:39 AM »

JosephOfMessiah,

You wrote:

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29,999 other sectations claim, "those guys over there are heretics, a cult of minor numbers even, who have deparated the faith."

See the problem of an "outsider" looking in? I'm either doomed for all eternity to hell by your version of the christian mangod or doomed for all eternity to hell by the other 29,999 other sectations.

As I am and have always been a Church history buff, I'm afraid I cannot understand the difficulty you have looking in from the outside - you should be able to whittle the list of possible true churches down to three in 5 seconds flat if you actually know anything of Church history and early Christian beliefs. There are only three churches that can claim to have been founded by the Apostles - the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Church. No Protestant denomination can claim Apostolic succession, though if you accept Rome has it then a weakish case can be made for the Apostolic succession of the Anglicans.

Then, as far as I can see, it's very easy to exclude Roman Catholicism as, since the Schism that church has added innovation upon innovation and her faith is no longer recognisable the same as that of the early Christians at all. That leaves you with EO and OO. We accepted Chalcedon, the OOs rejected it. Personally I think we both believe the same and that our theological language lead to needless confusion and tragic division, but we're working on that now and the prospects for reunification seem promising.

I think that your grasp of early Christian beliefs is not great. There are extent 1st and 2nd century texts that contradict what you say especially, for instance, with the Eucharist and other practices. Early Fathers such as St. Ignatios, clearly believed in the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Virgin Birth etc. and even churches outside of the Empire such as the Ethiopians and Indians had exactly the same beliefs as those inside the Empire (and we still don't differ much). If you actually look to the beliefs and practices of the Orthodox churches of both communions you'll find that we are remarkably consistent in our beliefs, Chalcedon aside. We are also remarkably different to your 'mainstream'.

In addition, you speak of 'Q' like a humanist theologian - maybe someone in the Jesus Seminar. 'Q' is the hypothesised source of the Synoptic Gospels, but I'm pretty sure it never really existed, at least not in written form. Certainly nobody's seen it and textual reconstruction was not a science last I heard - how can you be so sure that it existed or of what it might have contained. Actually if it did exist and was the source of the Synoptic Gospels, it should pretty familiar to us shouldn't it? I fail to see how it could contradict Orthodox beliefs.

Of course all of this argument based on Scriptural texts is moot. The Church was not founded on the Bible but on Christ. The Church wrote the Bible and for a considerable period of time existed without the Bible. Why would She write something that contradicted Her beliefs? Certainly the Scriptures do not contradict my beliefs, but nor are they the ultimate authority. Strangely sola scripturalists are contradicted by the very thing they say has absolute authority, which was a major reason for my rejection of Protestantism.

I'm not trying to convert you and I'm pretty sure I'll never convince you of our faith, but I would hope that you could stop relating us to all the thousands of Protestant sects as though we had the same degree of legitimacy. We simply don't. If the number you'd come up with was 3 or 4 we'd have a disagreement, but it would be reasonable, but putting the Orthodox Church on a par with the likes of Mormonism, Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses is, frankly, insulting.

James
« Last Edit: March 18, 2005, 04:46:20 AM by jmbejdl » Logged

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« Reply #36 on: March 18, 2005, 05:50:44 AM »

JosephOfMessiah,

You wrote:

As I am and have always been a Church history buff, I'm afraid I cannot understand the difficulty you have looking in from the outside - you should be able to whittle the list of possible true churches down to three in 5 seconds flat if you actually know anything of Church history and early Christian beliefs.

How "early" are you relating to here when you say such things.  Do you mean prior to Paulianism when Christianity was nothing more than messianic Judaism (messiah mortal has come and will return) or do you mean afterward when Paul applied his doctrine that Jesus thought it not robbery to be equal to YHVH-God?

You see, the development of the deity of Jesus was not instant but was done much later, and is even still argued greatly within Christendom as a whole.  But, again, the argument that you are the "only real Christians" is the same argument everyone else gives and I guess will become a moot point before long in this general discussion.

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There are only three churches that can claim to have been founded by the Apostles - the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Church.

Jesus talked to his Father (YHVH-God) and said that YHVH God was greater than him in the NT record.
Paul said that Jesus (however) thought it not robbery to be equal to God.
Well, you see, Mormons say that Joseph talked to this angel named Moroni who gave him his doctrine.

As religion is all based upon unfounded unevidenced history...and even within the "smaller group" you are still condemned by the other three even if you just happen to luckily pick the one you have, there really is no salvation under Christendom to be found...you're doomed by one of them if not the other.  This again, is just my viewpoint from looking inside the "we are the real christian" argument of course as an outsider.  And for arguments sake, do you believe that those of the "other churches" and the people of those churches are doomed to eternal torement or do you guys have a purgatory type of existence in your theology?

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No Protestant denomination can claim Apostolic succession, though if you accept Rome has it then a weakish case can be made for the Apostolic succession of the Anglicans.

Then, as far as I can see, it's very easy to exclude Roman Catholicism as, since the Schism that church has added innovation upon innovation and her faith is no longer recognisable the same as that of the early Christians at all.

I would argue that if we were to study the school of Hillel within Judaism which Jesus most likely taught from ("spirit of the law") that there is no christian church that teaches what he taught.  But that is purely from what I have read and perhaps has a jewish-slanted viewpoint involved perhaps.  I do not agree with Paul's doctrines for the most part, neither his idea of Original Sin of Adam being upon all mankind unto condemnation nor do I believe that it was Jesus' death that removes iniquity.  You see, such beliefs would go directly against Ezekiel 18:20 and would also violate the path of atonement setup by Hosea inwhich (when the temple is gone) the means to remove sin was through prayer.  But again, I'm looking at this from a standpoint that the Tanakh is more/greater empirical and closer to God's wishes than the NT record is, so that is my bias I guess showing.

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That leaves you with EO and OO. We accepted Chalcedon, the OOs rejected it. Personally I think we both believe the same and that our theological language lead to needless confusion and tragic division, but we're working on that now and the prospects for reunification seem promising.

I think that your grasp of early Christian beliefs is not great.

Actually, I'd bet you'd be surprised if you stop reading CHURCH doctrines and historical ideas and listen to other sources.  It is my understanding that the beliefs developed in Christianity were at first nothing more than a sectation that accepted a mortal messiah came and not a mangod nor virgin birth involved.  The Torah was still upheld and Jesus said not a thing would change in it.  Then of course we move to Paulianism and the elevation of Jesus to equality with God and we move away from semetic type of observance and the syncretism adopts the dualism from Persian influences perhaps (the whole Trinity vs. Satan ideas) instead of God being the sender of all messengers like the Tanakh teaches we have a demi-god's creation so that there is a "fallguy."  Then of course the councils took place inwhich Jesus was deified and then the Holy Spirit was somehow decided to be another "person" in an omnipresent God, go figure.  Needless to say this leaves the "Behold Oh Israel, the Lord our God is One Lord" in the dust and a new more platonic view of the Almighty is brought about.

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There are extent 1st and 2nd century texts that contradict what you say especially, for instance, with the Eucharist and other practices.

It is quite simple and let me say this very clearly.  The Tanakh speaks directly to this point and I will not want to hang on it very much because I am certain it would be an upsetting conclusion to everyone on these boards.  The Tanakh says that the law against the consumption of blood is for all time, eternal.  If anyone ever told mankind to drink even symbolic blood in memory of them they would be in sin already if you are to be internally coherent and accept the Hebrew scriptures as of God.

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Lev 3:17 [It shall be] a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood.

Then again, perhaps you do not accept that the wine "is" blood as do the Catholics, everything I have heard here so far about your sectation has been an eye opener.

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Early Fathers such as St. Ignatios, clearly believed in the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Virgin Birth etc. and even churches outside of the Empire such as the Ethiopians and Indians had exactly the same beliefs as those inside the Empire (and we still don't differ much). If you actually look to the beliefs and practices of the Orthodox churches of both communions you'll find that we are remarkably consistent in our beliefs, Chalcedon aside. We are also remarkably different to your 'mainstream'.

To be different from the lie that mainstream Christianity is can only be a GOOD thing, my friend, and that is the God's truth there.

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In addition, you speak of 'Q' like a humanist theologian - maybe someone in the Jesus Seminar. 'Q' is the hypothesised source of the Synoptic Gospels,

To be fair, it is the hypothesised source of some of the material of the synoptic gospels, perhaps the earliest and most accurate information that was perhaps collected by someone who knew Jesus personally.  At least that is what I was taught.

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...but I'm pretty sure it never really existed, at least not in written form. Certainly nobody's seen it and textual reconstruction was not a science last I heard - how can you be so sure that it existed or of what it might have contained. Actually if it did exist and was the source of the Synoptic Gospels, it should pretty familiar to us shouldn't it?

As Christianity aged more and more "doctrines" about Jesus, his position with God, his mother's sexuality, the euchristical meal and other things were adopted.  The Q source is the "nuts and bolts" of the story per se without much of what modern Christianity has, it is the root from which the rest was draw upon perhaps.  And if we only had this source Christainity would not be the religion it is today.  The only thing the Q source perhaps teaches if it were to exist is that Christianity as a religion evolved over time into something beyond what it was originally, and it is not the only idea/source which teaches such an understanding of the syncretism that developed within the ranks of the early followers.  Even from the teachings of Jesus to the teachings of Paul there is a stark change in theology and philosophy.  Jesus taught obey the law to have salvation and Paul moved toward faith in the redemning mangod...it is a demonstrated evolution of the theology of Christendom even within the NT record.

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I fail to see how it could contradict Orthodox beliefs.

Don't get me wrong, it does not so much as "contradict" them as it does not CONTAIN THEM.  It is the earliest ideas about what/whom Jesus is/was and what his message (the gospel) is.  And it is the absence of basic christian ideas which leads to the concept of religious syncretic evolution over the centuries after Jesus was killed or the story generated.

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Of course all of this argument based on Scriptural texts is moot. The Church was not founded on the Bible but on Christ. The Church wrote the Bible and for a considerable period of time existed without the Bible. Why would She write something that contradicted Her beliefs?

"The Bible" is not empirical under your standards so that it would be incoherent between the Hebrew scripture and the texts of the NT would mean little to you, but it is a very important point that I am trying to make that the theology of the Tanakh stands directly in opposition to the theology within the NT and as such to be logically coherent one is correct and one is wrong, and each and all men have to come to the conclusion of which "ring's truthful."  For me, I believe that the YHVH God's ideas of atonement fit with basic dignity and justice while the Christian idea rings of butchery and barberism.  I am of course personally biased in this viewpoint as would any Christian be but I do ask repeatedly that anyone who can attempt to fit the levitical (eternal) law and priesthood to Jesus's atoning death and have yet have anyone answer it.  And for good cause as well because the author of the NT book of Hebrews invented his own priesthood so he could call Jesus a high priest while at the same time being messiah, something which is entirely foreign to Judaism where the high priest is a levite and messiah is of Judah from David through Solomon.

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Certainly the Scriptures do not contradict my beliefs, but nor are they the ultimate authority. Strangely sola scripturalists are contradicted by the very thing they say has absolute authority, which was a major reason for my rejection of Protestantism.

I personally think that the statement a "workman rightly deviding the word of truth need not be ashamed" is the best way to handle books which are labeled as holy by men.  We do not know the political reasonings that went into the inclusion of some texts and the exclusion of others.  Neither is it easy to realize the bigotry and anti-semetism of the day when men sat in councils and decided that even though they were not prophets nor hearing from God they could vote on what God had said or didn't say.  I find such happenings quite strange indeed.

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I'm not trying to convert you and I'm pretty sure I'll never convince you of our faith, but I would hope that you could stop relating us to all the thousands of Protestant sects as though we had the same degree of legitimacy.

Yes, I realize you do not like being thrown into the vast pool of Christendom, I respect that.  But your request is much like that of every other believer I talk to.  For the sake of this discussion however I will (for the sake of playing devils advocate alone) allow that only you and yours are the "true church" because in all honesty I'm discussing this with you and it makes little sense what the other 29,999 say while I'm here.  But I want an asteric * in place because it is just plain silly that "this church" or "that church" is the one true church...none of you can honestly know if you are saved or not, you might have been born into or happen to accept the wrong one or something, ugh.

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We simply don't. If the number you'd come up with was 3 or 4 we'd have a disagreement, but it would be reasonable, but putting the Orthodox Church on a par with the likes of Mormonism, Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses is, frankly, insulting.

James

Sorry that my opinion is insulting, alas that is all I have at this point as I have not been taught other people's opinions nor to think the way other people are thinking.  That a skeptic would "gloss over" the religious eletism ideas found within various churches should not strike you as odd, in fact it should make you realize that it is just one more reason why people are skeptics.  Think about it, all these churches are saying that only they have the way of salvation but if you picked any of them all the rest condemn you....from the outside looking in the options are not entertaining nor hopeful and in fact it is leaving many people downright disillusioned to organized religion as a whole.

Apologies all around if something I said upset anyone, I'm enjoying this discussion.  Mod's please feel free to edit particular spots that would violate some rule perhaps if I missed it so in order that I not be banned.  I would ask that you keep the meaning I had if at all possible in the end however.  Thanks.
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« Reply #37 on: March 18, 2005, 07:29:09 AM »

JosephofMessiah,

I can only manage a quick response now as I'm quite busy, but I wanted to address a couple of points you raised. Firstly you asked if we thought all other Christians were damned or if we had an idea of Purgatory. The answer to both is, no. We don't believe anybody alive today is saved or damned, salvation is a process whereby God and man work together in synthesis, this is the doctrine of theosis, whereby we become more like God through our living of the faith and God's grace. It is very different to Protestant or Catholic soteriology. As for salvation outside the Church, our answer is 'we don't know' - this is a very common position for Orthodox. We know God wants to save all men and we know that there are Christians outside the Church (I didn't say we were the only Christians but the true Church - other Christians simply lack the fullness of the Church's teachings). We know that salvation can be found inside the Church but we don't know about those outside Her. We place no bounds on God, however, He will save who He wills. As for Purgatory, that's a post-Schism RC innovation in line with their juridical concept of salvation, but the Orthodox view of the Church is more as hospital than courtroom, so Purgatory really makes no sense to us.

The other thing you raised was our understanding of the wine of the Eucharist as the blood of Christ. We adhere to neither the extreme materialism of Roman Catholicism whereby the wine is transformed in substance into blood, nor the extreme Protestant view of the Eucharist as symbol only. We believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist as a mystery. We don't go further into trying to explain the mechanism of the mystery. This, again, is a common position of Orthodoxy. One thing I would like to point out in this regard is that the OT laws are not considered, even by Jews, to be binding on Gentiles, therefore even if we did believe in transsubstantiation on the Catholic model, I would consider your objection to this to be pretty weak.

James
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« Reply #38 on: March 18, 2005, 09:13:54 AM »

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How "early" are you relating to here when you say such things. Do you mean prior to Paulianism when Christianity was nothing more than messianic Judaism (messiah mortal has come and will return) or do you mean afterward when Paul applied his doctrine that Jesus thought it not robbery to be equal to YHVH-God?
You're relying on outmoded scholarship for that point.  As an example related directly to what you said, the quote you mention and attribute to St. Paul wasn't actually written by him.  It's included in his epistle, but it's in origin a Christian hymn.  Most scholars think it's the earliest Christian hymn in existence.  Also, the Christian use of the title "Son of God", not as merely a messianic title, but as something more than that (although this usage doesn't necessarily imply full divinity; it separates Jesus from all the prophets), is included in the "Parable of the Wicked Tenants" in the synoptic gospels.  Furthermore, in all the strata of the gospel tradition, Jesus speaks of himself as the judge of the world.
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You see, the development of the deity of Jesus was not instant but was done much later, and is even still argued greatly within Christendom as a whole.
Proof?



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Jesus talked to his Father (YHVH-God) and said that YHVH God was greater than him in the NT record.
Paul said that Jesus (however) thought it not robbery to be equal to God.
You have to read the "greater than" quote within the context of the entire gospel of John.  It doesn't imply ontological superiority.  Jesus talking to His Father doesn't speak to the question either way.  No Christian, certainly no one here, claims that Jesus and the Father are the same person; that's modalism.
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« Reply #39 on: March 18, 2005, 01:04:56 PM »

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You see, the development of the deity of Jesus was not instant but was done much later, and is even still argued greatly within Christendom as a whole.

Proof?

I'd like to see that too.  Orthodoxy studies the earliest Christian writings available.  We base our theology on those teachings as we believe they came from Christ through the Apostles. 

If you have some first through fifth century documents that demonstrate that we are all wrong, I'd certainly like to see them.
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« Reply #40 on: March 18, 2005, 06:14:37 PM »

JosephofMessiah,

We seem to have two levels of conversation going on at the same time, Philosophy and Theology (I confess this is my fault), so I shall try to deal with them in turn. There is a good reason that the Roman Catholic Seminaries require two years of Philosophy before beginning to teach the Seminarians Theology (it's unfortunate the Orthodox dont do this), so I shall start with the Philosophy.

The common empiricist 'scientific' weltanschuung of today is a fairly recent development, unknown (well, unknown in it's present manifestation, known and pretty much rejected in a past manifestation) to the Fathers of the Church, so the fact that Christianity rejects this weltanschuung should not be surprising. To understand the weltanschuung of society during the 'Golden Years' of Christian Theology (roughly A.D. 325 (Nicea I) to A.D. 787 (Nicea II)), we should consider the Platonic Metaphysic, thus I should first address your question about the Relationship between Form and Matter.

Form-Matter relationship?

To properly answer this question, you should first read Plato's Republic and then, if you're real daring, his Timaeus, both of which are freely available on the Internet (Links to all of Plato's works can be found at http://plato-dialogues.org/links.htm). But as I acknowledge that we are all probaly too busy to spend our time reading lengthy philosophical works that are often awkward because they're being read in transation, I shall do my best to address the Metaphysics of Plato, which is the basis of the Metaphysics of the Christian world (at least until after the Schism between East and West and the Rise of Aristotelian Metaphysics amongst the Latin Scholastics, which is the basis (though with considerable modification) of the empiricist weltanschuung).

To Plato, that which is destructable or alterable is not real, but only a shadow of reality. This principle lead to a distinguishing between two different Realms, the Realm of Form and the Relm of Matter. The Realm of Form is a Realm of Ideas (in Christian application, possibly the Mind of God), absolute concepts that cannot be altered, whereas the Realm of Matter is what we interact with, various objects built of atoms (or quarks and electrons if we want to get specific) which are ultimately shadows of the true reality of the Forms.

To illustrated this concept Plato used the famous Cave Allegory, where prisoners were tied in a cave with their heads facing a wall and unable to turn. Behind them was a fire and between the prisoners and the fire was a road, where puppeteers could hold things up so that the prisoners could see the shadows cast on the cave walls. These prisoners who had never seen anything other than the shadows would view these shadows as real, Plato draws the parallel between these Prisoners and people who do not realize the distinction between the Realm of Form and the Realm of Matter, though an outside observer would think the prisoners to be fools, knowing that the reality was the object that the puppeteers were holding, and not the shadow that the prisoners thought was the reality, so also does Plato view those who are convinced that the material objects they interact with on a daily basis to be the ultimate reality.

Thus an object that you sit on and call 'chair' is not really a 'Chair,' but rather a shadow of the concept (from the Realm of Form) 'Chair,' while you may be able to destroy that four legged object and turn it into, say firewood, you can never destroy or alter 'Chair' as an idea, a concept, a Form. Thus it is the concept of 'Chair' that is Real, not the shadow 'chair' from the Realm of Matter. Here is where we come to an important distinction between Platonic Metaphysics and Aristotelian Metaphysics, the latter of which was eventually reduced and turned into the empiricists' dismissal of form. Plato allowed for the Existance of Form without Matter, whereas Aristotle created an unbreakable bond between Form and Matter, arguing that one could not exist without the other. The problem with the latter, and the Aristotelian logic that is derived from it, is that it leads to complete relativism, it leads to the logical conclusion that God, your neighbour, this world, and that pink unicorn in your basement are all equally likely to exist or not exist (the philosophical realization of Hegel, which was Mathematically proven by G+¦del).

Or perhaps an actor on a stage? Heh. Or within another lifeforms quantum computer game akin to our game labeled "The Sims."
I find such things as meaningless arguments which are (while discussing them) interesting but not making much sense in the real world. And of course you have to ask "what is the real world" and I would argue it is the world we have to deal with on a daily basis, regardless of "what is behind the scenes."

Well, I used the example of a brain in a jar controlled by an evil genius because it is the example Descartes uses, the most recognizable example today, in our hollywood obsessed society, would probably be the Matrix; though, IMHO, there are some Star Trek Episodes that did a far better job addressing the question, but there I'll confess bias. However, I disagree with the conclusion that such discussions are irrelevant for two reasons: first of all, we are discussing Metaphysics and Religion, we are essentially discussing 'what is behind the scenes,' making all these arguments relevant to the subject at hand, which is in large part epistemology; secondly, I'm not saying I agree with the conclusions of absolute relativism that I presented in my argument, but I am, correctly, demonstrating the Logical implications of Aristotelian Logic and Analytic Philosophy (including Empiricism), and if one does accept Aristotelian Logic and Empiricism, they logically have to accept the conclusions about relativism, otherwise they are being inconsistant (see Incompleteness Theorem), which is the greatest (some argue only, but that is because the other potential 'evils' (i.e. Axiomatic Violations) are so anti-intuitive people often fail to realize they exist) of the Logical/Mathematical 'Evils' (though Religion often has no trouble with inconsistancies). (also, as fun as Nitzsche may be at times (his short Parable of the Madman (1882), which is freely available online may be somewhat relevant to this discussion, and is a good read in any case concerning the conclusions of modern Philosophy about God, which are derivations from Aristotelian thought), I am not inclined to accept his Ego-Centric Philosophical System (i.e. If I can only prove that I exist, and I dont even know if there is anyone but myself, then the only good is self advancement).

It is like when Rome decided that perhaps God had made the Earth appear older than it actually was. (I have heard plenty of young earthers argue this as well.) It is really a meaningless argument in the end because our science denotes it is as old as it is and by such we should treat the chemical reactions and real world applications as they are demonstrated to be...not as an ancient text literally wants us to have the fantastical belief that a deity used deviance in the generation of the real age of the matter we find.

The Problem here is that we are confusing Metaphysics and Science; there is no contradiction to the posistion that God amde the earth appear older than it actually was, and the scientific posistion that the Earth Evolved, the issue here again is Axioms. Though I have never found a complete listing of the Axioms of Science (I would be interested if anyone knows of someone who has attempted this, and where I could get a copy of their publications if they have), a couple of them are the reliability of observation and consistancy of the Laws of Physics (throughout time and space). Creation assumes that the Laws of Physics are inconsistant, different axiomatic systems, different results...naturally. Moreover there is no contradiction, it is a logical principle that if A is false then B is always true in the statement 'If A then B,' regardless of what B is (God Exists, Santa Clause Exists, Pink Unicorns Exist, I Exist, et cetera); thus if one of the Axioms of Science (all axioms of a system are always assumed as part of the if statement, with the AND connector between them) is false then the Conclusions are, by the Axioms of Logic, true. Now is this a defence of the young earth theory? By no means, nor is it intended to be, I'm simply deomonstrating how the two apparently contradicting theories can both be true, because they're dealing with different issues, with different axiomatic systems, the Metaphysicist or Theologian asking the age of the world is not asking the same question as the Scientist who asks the age of the world, different Axioms, different Systmes, different Questions, different Results. And again, as we are dealing with issues of Metaphysics and Religion on this fourm, I would hardly say that the question you presented about Creation to be meaningless, even if I would not take it into account when I'm doing Astro-Physics (though in my studies of the General Theory of Relativity I fear that I've come across situations where the Axioms of Science fail, and something needs to be done, even if it's not religion, specifically in regards to Black Holes and the Big Bang (where the laws of physics dont apply for various reasons)).

I do not agree with this [What is the implication of this? Simply that everything we believe (other than our own existence, though this does not extend to the existence of others) is based on Faith, our Observations and Historical Knowledge no less so than the Articles of our Religion]. You see, religion is based upon a type of faith which is not repeated. Jesus doesn't die on the cross on video every day for the world to see and this get lifted into the sky at the end of it on a repeated display so that everyone would accept him as "the only mangod that really was a mangod." It is a type of faith that is not like a belief that the Sun will rise or the bus will follow the route on the schedule. Granted everything is not an absolute, the sun comes up and sets at different times, there might be an eclipse, and the bus could be late or breakdown...the difference is in the basics I guess, inthat what is demonstrated personally and what is not demonstrated personally. I know that mankind has space travel because I can witness a take-off (if we ever have another one that is) and I know that water can turn into ice because I can test it and repeat the test. I can also test theological claims to an extent based upon historical artifacts which are denoted as from any given god. These tests demonstrate how likely it was that this god exists, that the events took place, and whether or not it is likely that what is written is myth or not...

If you dont believe in that I would suggest you re-evaluate your beliefs, or at least come up with an Axiomatic system that allows for this inconsistancy, for if you're a Rationalist like you claim, my statement is a logical result of the Axioms of Logic (Classical, Minimalist, and Constructive, though Classical Logic has an inherent contradiction because of the Incompleteness Theorem and the Law of the Excluded Middle (A OR NOT A), though debating the details of the Axioms of Logic is probably getting off track, but I'd enjoy it if you wish to) and the Axioms of Number Theory (actually the result can be reached without accepting number theroy (but I presume you believe that 1+1 always = 2...even if I dont); however, the argument isn't as straightforward). From a logical perspective, repitition does not esablish Truth, take for example the following Theorem: 'The Absolute Value of any Number is Positive.' I can give you uncountably infinite Examples to support this theorem, infact every number, rational or irrational, in the set '(0,INFINITY) AND (0,-INFINITY)' would serve as an example; however the Theorem is FALSE, because there is one Number for which this statement is not true, 0...The Absolute Value of 0 is 0, which is neither Positive nor Negative.

What you seem to be setting up as the basis of your beliefs is your Experiance, which isn't always consonant with Rationalism, but you also have a tendency to accept the experiance of others, if it seems arguably comprable to yours. Which seems to me to be a bit closer to Nitzsche than to the Deists and Rationalists, though many of them certainly had leanings in that direction too (you really should read the Parable of the Madman, if you haven't already it's very short and a lot of fun)...of course, I may be mistaken, and you may completely abhor Nitzsche, in which case I apologize. But in any case, it would seem that your Philosophy, like Nitzsche's at times (though by no means always), tries to ignore the issue of epistemology, you seem to view a very complex question about truth as simplistic, obvious, and solved...which, I would present (expecially in the context of Religious and Metaphysical discussions), is not the case.

I'll study more on Godel's Incompleteness Theorem before I respond to this part, but for the most part I think that without a particular world view already in place there is nothing but a "philosophical flatland" inwhich we could not even denote which is up or down. But this does not diminish our ability to make judgements (and meaningful ones) from within our respective world view...and since all of humanity has basic axioms they accept (such as the reality of space-time, their own existence and the existence of others who are not them, ect) then it is possible to understand reality on a relative scale and to make very good claims from within this particular world view...

Weltanschuung, or world view, is very important in making judgements, and that is the point I brought up with differing Philosophical mindsets, the writers of the Scriptures and Fathers of the Church do not necessarily have the same weltanschuung as the empiricists and deists, which is why the empiricists do not really understand the Fathers of the Church, just as the Fathers would not have understood the posisitions of an emprircist (well, some might have, as many of them were well educated in all of Greek Philosophy, but they probably wouldn't have been very inclined to accept the mindset of the empiricist). Since we've been speaking so much about G+¦del I think I shall post a quote of his, 'Either mathematics is too big for the human mind or the human mind is more than a machine;' I think if you look into it the 'basic axioms' humanity accepts you may find that they are not as basic as one might think.

Rabbis would say that your "trinitarian" ideas which are in the "OT" are figments of your imagination. And I have read plenty about how they say the "let us create man in our image" is magestic plurality (like a prosecutor saying "the people rest...") and some such. How the term "elohim" is a plural form however in context it is a singular form. How the "lord of the earth" call fire down from the "lord of the heavens" when S&G were being destroyed. All these are answered very clearly by Rabbis who of course are in defense of the statement that God is One (perfect unity not compound nor trinity). I tend to base my judgement about the trinity upon a reasoned look in the council of Nicea's manipulations and also on the compromise that it was. Some wanting to say that Jesus was God and some denying that outright due to the Tanakh statements that God is not mortal. The compromise coming together that he was perfect god and man at once (which makes no real sense in light of the NT record that says he was without ominscience, omnipotence, or omnipresence). I dislike Trinitarianism also due to spurious additions to the NT record such as 1 John 5:7-8.

Rabbis can argue points away? Of course they can, and in turn we can argue away their arguments, then they can argue away ours, and so on and so forth (though I think the 'lord of earth' and 'lord of the heavens' is a bit harder to explain away than the others; if one wants to be 'scientific' about it, and ignore divine intervention and trinitarian theology, the argument that it was a remnent of an early Semitic polytheistic religion is probably the best); however, the point that I was making is though there are some hints of trinitarian theology in the Old and New Testaments (the former's being few and far between, I admit), the pre-Christian source that was most inclined towards Trinitarian thought was Platonism...these semantic debates about OT references to the Trinity have been going on for millenia, by people, on both sides, who are far more educated in Hebrew than I'm guessing either one of us are. Concerning I John 5:7, whether or not it was originally there, it is not to be found in the Greek Manuscripts preserved in the East (it's still not in most our Greek Texts), though it was in the Latin Vulgate in the West, many Eastern Bishops actually regarded the verse as a Sabellian invention, thus being there to deny, rather than uphold, the doctrine of the Trinity.

Since we know that DNA comes from father and mother, I'm guessing you hold to the idea that matter from Mary's body was used to generate the body of Jesus?

Yes...I hope this isn't leading to a scientific discussion of conception (while I'm quite well versed in the Physical Sciences, Biology isn't my thing)...it is a divine miracle by the Creator of the Universe...but, if it is, all the DNA is there (even if it has to be re-aranged to make certain chromosomes).

Then any fetus is a "perfect sacrifice." Christianity without the doctrine of Original Sin harkens back to the ideas of Magog in my mind, in that any "innocent child who is sinless" could be a "sin sacrifice." The doctrine of Original Sin found in NT Romans is what separates Christianity from other religions that have human offerings to appease the gods, and I find any that lack this doctrine almost scarey. I at least hope that you guys accept that Jesus was the "final sacrifice" even if this is barberic in my own mind at least it means no others will be blooded to appease the deity.

Well, the Best way to answer this question is to address this other question:

Let me ask this one in another way, did Jesus have to die a bloody death upon a cross (be murdered as an innocent man) in order to take mankind's sin upon him and "save mankind" or not? I basically agree on a moral level with the levitical doctrine of atonement that no human offering can be used for atonement. It is my question to you about whether you accept the general idea that Jesus died to remove mankind's sins or not.

I hate to make the Aristotelian distinction between Accident and Essence, as we tend not to do that in Orthodox Theology, there is nothing that God does that is Accidental or 'not-necessary' for our Relationship with Him, and hence our Salvation; however, I will venture at least towards, if not into, that territory to try and address your question. The murder of Christ was not reason He came to earth and was Incarnate of the Virgin Mary, He was Incarnate to unite God and Man through Himself. That He was killed was the result of our Sinfulness and our Reaction to God in our Presence, not a desire or need for a god to murder another god to satisfy his bloodlust, as the Parable of the Vineyard (Matt. 21:33-42) demonstrates. Why did Christ allow Himself to be murdered when He could have stopped it? This is because of a respect by God, for the Image of Himself in His creation, namely, for the purposes of this discussion, free will; it was an unwillingness to usurp the free will of man, and hence destroying His Image that He placed in His creation, that prevented Christ from stopping His Murder. However, neither man nor the devil can twist the Goodness of God into evil, God is Omniscient and Omnipotent, as well as Righteous. Thus the result of the Death of God, was the Sanctification of the Death that was created by Sin, for Death could not hold or contain God; thus we say that Death was conquered by Death and that Death has lost its sting. Thus, though there is a sacrifice of sorts, it is not one to fulfill a divine demand for justice, but rather a willing self-sacrifice, allowed to fulfill the injust vengance of sinners, but through God's mercy sanctifying them, which was what Christ proclaimed on the Cross, 'Forgive them for they know not what they do.' It was not a sacrifice of blood atonement for the fulfilling of divine wrath as you find so often presented in protestant circles. Moreover, our Eucharist has taken the Place of a Sacrifice, whereas a Sacrifice was to heal a rift that had formed between God and man on account of Man's Sinfulness, the Eucharist does that and Much more, not only is it for the forgiveness of sins, and the healing of any rift in the Relationship between God and Man, it is also the establishing of a bond of Communion between God and Man, and a participation of man in the Divinity of God.

I guess the whole "My ways are not your ways" and "nothing in the Earth, heaven's above, nor water's beneath" and "God is not a man..." stuff doesn't matter much to you guys. You guys allow images in your churches?

The Incarnation does not Diminish God, because Christ is Man, He is no less God, he has Two Natures, one Human, one Divine, two Natures that while without division and without separation are also without confusion and without change, the Human nature is still Human and the Divine nature is still Divine (Chalcedon 451, Fourth Oecumenical Synod). Concerning the Sacred Images, yes we have many Ikons in our Churches, of Christ, of His Mother, of the Angels, and of the Saints. Going back to our discussion on Platonic thought, they are Matter, created to depict the Form, which is ultimately what is real, thus Veneration of the Ikon is not a veneration of the 'shadow' but rather the 'shadow' is a 'window' to the Form, thus they are a veneration of our Lord or of the Saint.

I have no doubt that a mortal man messiah would (and has) come repeatedly. But the evidence that "THE END TIMES" messiah has come is not supported yet as not a single prophecy of this messiah has been done yet. You guys claim he's coming back to do these things and in saying that you are allowing that he is not yet the messiah....he's a "maybe" at best.

This is also a 2000 year old debate between Christians and Jews, and I doubt anyone will convince anyone else one way or the other by arguing it. Personally, I find the criteria set forth by Jewish Rabbis for the Messiah to be overly materialistic and failing to account for the nature of Prophecy. All of the prophecies have been explained by the Christians, so there's nothing I can offer there, it's just that some dont believe these explinations to be adequate. Again, we both know both sides of the argument, and are unlikely to make any progress on this issue.

Jesus was (NT record) limited in mind, had a mortal body, had no power of his own (Father did everything through him). This does not fit into the traditional trinitarian argument, neither does the statements of Jesus from the cross (my God my God why do you butcher me) and from the garden (not my will but Thine be done). Then again, I also dislike the additions done to the NT record by Trinitarians to support their claims such as 1 John 5:7-8 but that is a more educational objection than reasoned one. The whole thing about being "omniscient yet limited in mind, omnipotent but servant, omnipresent but in flesh" doesn't fly with me personally either.

All these Issues were dealt with in the Third through Sixth Oecumenical Synods, and Especially in the Fourth, Chalcedon. Christ is Fully God and Fully Man, 'Equal to the Father in touching His Divinity, Less than the Father in touching His Humanity.' Moreover, he has both a Divine Energy and a human energy, a Divine Will and a human will; the instances you are refering to are Manifestations of His human will, which though different in concerns and knowledge is always consonant with, in so far as it will follow, His Divine Will.

That was sorta a question. Do you guys think resurrection bodily (his body came up from grave) or it was a "spiritual event."

We believe in a Bodily Resurrection

Finally I'd like to address a couple points you made in threads directed to other People

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It is quite simple and let me say this very clearly. The Tanakh speaks directly to this point and I will not want to hang on it very much because I am certain it would be an upsetting conclusion to everyone on these boards. The Tanakh says that the law against the consumption of blood is for all time, eternal. If anyone ever told mankind to drink even symbolic blood in memory of them they would be in sin already if you are to be internally coherent and accept the Hebrew scriptures as of God.

Lev 3:17 [It shall be] a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood.

Then again, perhaps you do not accept that the wine "is" blood as do the Catholics, everything I have heard here so far about your sectation has been an eye opener.

Lev. 3:17 comes right after instructions on sacrifices that mandate that the blood and the fat is to be offered to God, the elimination of the need for animal sacrifices, would render the laws associated with it, if not abrogated, irrelevant. With that said, there is a Prohibition in our Canon Law against eating Blood, as the practice was, and perhaps is, scandalous to many. However, this does not include the Bread and Wine, that was changed by the Holy Spirit into the Body and Blood of Christ, that's an entirely different issue, one of Sacramental Theology, not dietary practice.

Concerning our Sacramental Theology, we do believe that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ, though we dont say how as the Latins do. However, I will venture to address this further for your benifit, and if the Church ever rules against this statement (or any other one that I make), I here decree abiuro. Going back to our discussion on the Platonic distinction of Form and Matter, I venture to say that while the Matter of the Eucharist Remains the Same (still tastes like Bread and Wine), the Form or the Essence Changes, from Bread and Wine to the Body and Blood, making it Body and Blood in every real sense, and in every sense that matters (which may, or may not, go to addressing the issue in Leviticus, it could be interpreted as a Prohibition against the consumption of blood in Matter and not Form). Again I stress, this is my Best understanding of Eucharistic Theology, and if the Church every condemns such a Statement, abiuro.

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I would argue that if we were to study the school of Hillel within Judaism which Jesus most likely taught from ("spirit of the law") that there is no christian church that teaches what he taught. But that is purely from what I have read and perhaps has a jewish-slanted viewpoint involved perhaps. I do not agree with Paul's doctrines for the most part, neither his idea of Original Sin of Adam being upon all mankind unto condemnation nor do I believe that it was Jesus' death that removes iniquity. You see, such beliefs would go directly against Ezekiel 18:20 and would also violate the path of atonement setup by Hosea inwhich (when the temple is gone) the means to remove sin was through prayer. But again, I'm looking at this from a standpoint that the Tanakh is more/greater empirical and closer to God's wishes than the NT record is, so that is my bias I guess showing.

Not only are you arguing that the Tanakh is of greater authority than the NT, you're also palcing the Synopitics above the Gospel of St. John, which we view as the greatest book of the NT, and of the Scriptures, one that according to Custom was written to correct the deficiencies (not inaccuracies) in the synoptics. As far as influences on Christ's teachings, one can certainly see the Influence of the School of Hillel, but I can also the influences from the thought of Philo of Alexandria (Jewish Middle-Platonist), and yet I can also see things that are distinctly Christian, and not, directly at least, from any Previous Tradition. We cant dismiss the writings of the disciples of Christ (especially St. John, his Most Beloved disciple) as reflecting the Teachings of Christ, yes they are human, yes they are subject to error (which is why the Church picked and chose the books it regarded as Scripture, and rejected the ones it didn't approve of), but if the Disciples of Christ as well as the Tradition of the Church attribute something to Christ, I believe I'll go with that over the opinions of Modern Scholars.

Enjoyed my stay here so far, very engaging.

Glad you've enjoyed yourself so far, I've also enjoyed the discussion.

Well, I've rambled far more than I should have, and I'm late to the Akathist Service.
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« Reply #41 on: March 18, 2005, 07:07:42 PM »

"JosephofMessiah" wants to have it every which way. On one hand, he argues as a Jew - but of course this is ridiculous, since he is not a believing Jew, and probably would find as much unacceptable in that belief system as he would in Christianity.

IOW, he wants more reasons to continue believing/living as he does. I admit, in times past I've been guilty of this as well. Very guilty indeed - this is why people become argumentative much of the time. It's very "normal", if still quite "fallen" (but then again, death is normal too.) Wink

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« Reply #42 on: March 18, 2005, 07:48:23 PM »

Hey Joseph ... This is Dejan from Secret Motive.  Fascinating that you have stumbled across this forum!   Cheesy  Anyways, just thought I'd send my greetings.
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« Reply #43 on: March 19, 2005, 02:37:47 AM »

Hey Joseph ... This is Dejan from Secret Motive. Fascinating that you have stumbled across this forum! Cheesy

If you have read the forums over there lately you know I was goated into coming here and posting a response.  Had I had it my way I would have just left it alone as this sectation is not the Christendom that I enjoy to speak out against.  These guys at least make some sense in their theological set with their ability to question NT record/text and the rejection of Original Sin as taught in NT Romans.

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Anyways, just thought I'd send my greetings.

Greetings back...see ya back over at motive when this thread dies more than likely...

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« Reply #44 on: March 19, 2005, 09:00:44 AM »

The Orthodox do not reject ROmans - at all
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