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Friday, April 9, 2010

The Sadducees

Humor me for the moment. I fully realize that some of my dear readers question the historicity of Jesus, the Apostles, or even Moses for that matter, seeing those individuals as perhaps fictional characters in an elaborate anthology of novels produced by the ancient Jews and proto-Catholics. But, even if I have just described your particular viewpoint, the Sadducees would appear to be a most remarkable, and very curious group! They are described in the pages of the Gospels, and in other historical documents, along with other sects of the day, the Pharisees, Essenes, and Zealots.

Here is a list of the beliefs of the Sadducees, as enumerated in the Jewish Sects list found in Zondervan's TNIV Study Bible:

1) They denied that the oral law (Talmud) was authoritative and binding.

2) They interpreted the Mosaic law more literally than did the Pharisees.

3) They were very exacting in Levitical purity.

4) They attributed everything to free will.

5) They argued that there is neither resurrection of the dead, nor a future life.

6) They rejected a belief in angels and demons.

7) They rejected the idea of a spiritual world.

8) They considered only the books of Moses to be canonical Scripture.

What do you make of this? My own take, assuming that this list is accurate, would be that the Sadducees appear to be first century Jewish atheists or agnostics, who simply relied on the code of Moses as the most advanced, logical, and humane system of government known to them. History tells us that this sect had its genesis during the time of the Hasmonean kings (166-63 BC), and ceased to exist shortly following the destruction of the temple in 70 AD.

Normally, one would tend to think of Judaism as being YHWH-based. Yet, here we have a sect with numbers and noteworthiness sufficient to merit mention in the New Testament, fully embracing the laws and rituals for which YHWH is credited in the works of Moses, yet apparently totally disassociating these laws from any type of spiritual implications. While that might seem mind-boggling, we would appear to be living in a modern parallel of this in the USA today, which is now well advanced into the post-Christian era. Many non-believers today have a great love for the system of justice and the founding documents which were created by a group of predominantly Christian and Deist forefathers, based on a combination of logic and principles found in the pages of the Holy Bible. Truly the Ecclesiast was accurate in his observation that there is nothing new under the sun!

Despite their non-belief in the spiritual world, or in the resurrection of the dead, the Sadducees would not have qualified for any more humane treatment from the occupying Romans than would their believer brethren. The Romans considered all peoples who did not believe in the Roman gods, or the godhood of their emperor, to be atheists. Would it be any different today, in the USA, if suddenly we were conquered by Muslim jihadists? No. Our modern day agnostics and atheists who refused to worship Allah, even though their decision would be based totally on logic, would be executed right along with Christians who refused to worship Allah because he or it is a false god.

Some people, upon reading their Bibles, seem to have a black and white concept of the Jews and Israelites of Jesus' time as being an homogeneous group, with unified beliefs. Not only is this clearly not the case, but it presents an overly simplistic picture of the civilization of ancient Jerusalem and the covenant lands of Israel. Consider the sizable population of Samaritans, the mongrel spawn resulting from the Assyrian and Babylonian occupation, in addition to the Jewish sects. Later, Peter and Paul had even more complex challenges in their ministries to the Roman Empire nations surrounding Israel. There was a sizable Jewish diaspora in these nations, as well as a very diverse Gentile population. Throw in a couple of tax collectors, factor in the balance of power between Jewish leaders and the Roman occupation, and you have a pluralistic society rivaling our own modern civilizations.

It seems obvious that in the time just preceding Jesus, and the times shortly thereafter, that the challenges in building and maintaining relationships were just as great, and just as complex as what we experience in our own era. Though perhaps ignored by most of us in the past, although
they were a part of the Septuagint (the "Bible" of Jesus and His disciples), the books of the Maccabees are quite fascinating as historical documents. In these books are described some very troubled times during which apostate Jews actually assumed the roles of persecutors of their former brethren, often even worse than the gentile peoples who held areas of Israel captive. In our modern vernacular, we'd say that these apostates "ratted out" their neighbors, turning them over to the captors for punishment and torture. Though shocking, this is yet another variant of man's inhumanity to fellow man, and has not been as uncommon throughout history as one would hope. Knowing this propensity of human nature, and reading the narratives in the Maccabees might serve to help all of us as former guinea pigs of the Armstrong experiment in dealing with certain challenges today. The lesson lies in seeking not to make the same mistakes, and in seeking not to cause or incur the pain which accompanies these mistakes. And, I believe that it is important to include current splinter group members under our umbrella of humanity. I'm sure that many of us still have relatives who are part of these groups, and one of the things which could possibly help influence some of their major decisions in the future would be the love which we feel for them, and can show them.

Since the Apostle Paul was such a pivotal character of the New Testament, the one who presented a well-developed theology, and basic practical applications for the teachings of Jesus Christ, he is somewhat of a lightning rod, a controversial person about whom virtually everyone has some sort of opinion. He is not a person that it would be easy to be neutral about. What is noteworthy from his ministry would be the principles we find him fighting for, in other words, his passions. We find him preaching amazing tolerance amongst the various factions of Jewish and Gentile Christians. In ministering to his Gentile churches, he had to deal with a number of gut wrenching situations, not the least of which were the expulsion from Rome and eventual repatriation of the Jews, including Jewish Christians. He also had to deal with Judaizers from Jerusalem who insisted that Christians first became Jews before they could become followers of Jesus Christ. These carpetbaggers made numerous attempts to co-opt Paul's ministry. Somehow, he had to manage these situations not only while enjoying personal freedom, but also from a Roman jail cell, sometimes all but deserted by his students and personal friends. His harshest words were reserved for those causing dissension and contempt amongst the brethren, disrupting relationships, causing elitism, and violating the Golden Rule which encapsulates the New Covenant.

These provide some timeless examples of human behavioral patterns, both good and bad. It so happens that they are described in the versions of scripture native to and used by several different cultures. I'll leave it up to the individual reader, rather than actually quoting chapter and verse, whether or not to delve more deeply into the books of the Maccabees, or the epistles of Paul. I fully realize that in some cases, and for many reasons, people who were once Armstrongites actually require years or even decades of recovery before they have the stomach to revisit scripture. Whether we find lessons like the above in scripture, or whether we find them in the works of Shakespeare, Freud, Aristotle, Gandhi, or Dr. Martin Luther King, the best and most timeless precepts for human behavior would seem to be rooted in love and tolerance. Knowing that an unusual group, a seemingly anomalous group, such as the Sadducees could exist somewhat harmoniously in the mainstream of first century Judaism, no less during a period of Roman captivity, certainly we who are dealing with the aftermath of Armstrongism can peacefully coexist in the face of diversity of opinion.

BB

23 comments:

Neotherm said...

Everytime someone posts to this blog, including me, I receive an e-mail. I have never had this happen before.

How do I turn it off? I could not find an option on my profile.

-- Neo

Ralph said...

Basically, whether you look at Paul's statement of Romans 8:7, or at Deuteronomy 5:29, one thing becomes certain; any attempt to obey the law associated with YHVH will result in constant division, splintering, and speciation.

If you begin to assume the existence of YHVH, based on the teachings surrounding the laws of Israel, you must logically accept that Israel was destined to achieve the kind of cultural diversity, that you mention, BB.

But it was that very cultural diversity that gave Israel its adaptability as it met with the Diaspora and the constant necessities of change.

This same inability to obey "God's law" would produce exactly the same kind of diversity we see around us today within Christianity, as we see from Jesus' statement in Matthew 10:34-38, and resulting from Paul's statement in Romans 8:7.

If you look at history, the reason for this is obvious: human civilizations had no trouble organizing. They organized and formed huge, oppressive empires, yet in the midst of those empires was this small little culture that was absorbed, adapted, and emerged, when the larger culture was dismantled.

If there was a YHVH behind it, we would have to conclude that "His" purpose was exactly the kind of splintetring and speciation that we see today.

But if that is the case, the disagreement and anger, resentment, diversity of beliefs and non-beliefs, etc, are the inevitable result of trying to reconcile biblical teaching with human reason, again resulting in the parallel to Matthew 10:34-38.

The question then becomes why? And the answer again shows itself: humans want to organize. We want to discover that truth behind which we can hide, the only collective solution that will make our world better if we only believe enough, just a little harder, do just a little more, sacrifice that extra bit.

Well, we did that in the WCG and, the inevitable result. But what you have is exactly what Jesus said. You have "salt". Salty personalities, salt in the wound, salt as purification from worldly religion, salt as a spice that only takes a very little to alter the thinking of others.

In short,you have the fulfillment of John 6:44, where no man can come to Christ except he is drawn, actually pulled against his will, striving to achieve other goals, moving according to his own ideals, yet finally confronting the futility of such belief and sacrifice. And finally, after it all, an individual, a true individual; atheist, believer, agnostic, whatever, but doing it for the first time as an individual.

The very diversity spawned in the culture of Israel has accelerated to an intensity and increasing individualization as never before, yet that must be the logical result of trying to keep a law to which your mind simply cannot be subject.

The harder you try, the greater the difference. But difference, you see, even difference that produces sparks of anger, difference that produces constant bickering and argument, that's information, because information is defined as the difference that makes a difference.

It's adaptation, intelligence, increasing necessary awareness. It is exactly what we would never choose under our own head of steam.

And its not just produced by former WCG'ers. Its produced by all attempts to organize in God's name, from Catholics to Mormons, to Jehovah's Witnesses, to SDAs, and every single attempt to organize in God's name.

It isn't strange at all that we can organize in any other attempt. We can produce incredible talented sports teams, we can produce powerful armies and overwhelming governments, but just try to do "Gods will", and there goes another splinter group.

So finally you come to one and only one possible conclusion: there is no one to follow. You are free. You have to be free. Through the pain, the suffering, through every thing you have endured, you can never again belong.

And that is mighty damn good!

The next step; learn how to use it.

Purple Hymnal said...

"list found in Zondervan's TNIV Study Bible:"

Or, you can forgo limiting yourseld to the Christian propaganda, and see what the Jews themselves have to say, about their own sect. Consider the source, etc. Next thing you'll be saying the maps in the Bible are accurate, Bob! *shakes head*

Purple Hymnal said...

"How do I turn it off? I could not find an option on my profile."

Settings -> Buzz -> Disable Buzz -> Delete my posts and profile (Google doesn't want to let you do this, and will ask you two or three times to confirm, because this is how they are tracking and invading the privacy of their users -- without even warning them beforehand, naturally.)

Purple Hymnal said...

Here's the takeaway quote from that link I provided:

"Nor is anything definite known about the political and religious views of the Sadducees except what is recorded by their opponents in the works of Josephus, in the Talmudic literature, and in the New Testament writings."

None of which are authoritative sources, nor should any of them be regarded as such. (If I understand correctly, even the Jews do not regard their own Talmud as an authoritative source, at least not in the same way the Christians revere their Bible.)

The point being, what you find in the Christian bible, are the accusations of their opponents. Hardly a trustworthy source, wouldn't you agree?

Purple Hymnal said...

From that same link, here is some of what Judaism has to say about the beliefs of the Sadducees, very different indeed to the list that Bob has posted, from the pages of his Christian Bible. (Sources are at the original article.)

(1) Representing the nobility, power, and wealth.

(2) As the logical consequence of the preceding view, they would not accept the Pharisaic doctrine of the resurrection (Sanh. 90b; Mark xii. 12; Ber. ix. 5, "Minim"), which was a national rather than an individual hope.

(3) According to Josephus (ib. xiii. 10, § 6), they regarded only those observances as obligatory which are contained in the written word, and did not recognize those not written in the law of Moses and declared by the Pharisees to be derived from the traditions of the fathers.

(4) According to Acts xxiii. 8, they denied also the existence of angels and demons.

(5) They insisted on the literal execution of the law of retaliation: "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth".

(6) They held the owner of a slave fully as responsible for the damage done by the latter as for that done by the owner's ox or ass; whereas the Pharisees discriminated between reasonable and unreasonable beings (Yad. iv. 7).

(7) They also insisted, according to Meg. Ta'an. iv., upon a literal interpretation of Deut. xxii. 17, while most of the Pharisaic teachers took the words figuratively.

(8) They followed a traditional practise of their own in granting the daughter the same right of inheritance as the son's daughter in case the son was dead.

(9) They contended that the seven weeks from the first barley-sheaf-offering ("'omer") to Pentecost should, according to Lev. xxiii. 15-16, be counted from "the day after Sabbath," and, consequently, that Pentecost should always be celebrated on the first day of the week [Hah! Sound familiar?] (Meg. Ta'an. i.; Men. 65a).

(10) Especially in regard to the Temple practise did they hold older views, based upon claims of greater sanctity for the priesthood and of its sole dominion over the sanctuary.

(11) They claimed that the meal offering belonged to the priest's portion; whereas the Pharisees claimed it for the altar (Meg. Ta'an. viii.; Men. vi. 2).

(12) They insisted on an especially high degree of purity in those who officiated at the preparation of the ashes of the Red Heifer. The Pharisees, on the contrary, demonstratively opposed such strictness (Parah iii. 7; Tos. Parah iii. 1-8).

(13) They declared that the kindling of the incense in the vessel with which the high priest entered the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement was to take place outside, so that he might be wrapped in smoke while meeting the Shekinah within, according to Lev. xvi. 2.

(14) They extended the power of contamination to indirect as well as to direct contact (Yad. iv. 7).

(15) They opposed the popular festivity of the water libation and the procession preceding the same on each night of the Sukkot feast, as well as the closing festivity, on which the Pharisees laid much stress, of the beating of the willow-trees.

(16) They opposed the Pharisaic assertion that the scrolls of the Holy Scriptures have, like any holy vessel, the power to render unclean (taboo) the hands that touch them.

(17) They opposed the Pharisaic idea of the 'Erub, the merging of several private precincts into one in order to admit of the carrying of food and vessels from one house to another on the Sabbath.

(18) In dating all civil documents they used the phrase "after the high priest of the Most High," and they opposed the formula introduced by the Pharisees in divorce documents," According to the law of Moses and Israel".

Purple Hymnal said...

"Whether we find lessons like the above in scripture, or whether we find them in the works of Shakespeare, Freud, Aristotle, Gandhi, or Dr. Martin Luther King, the best and most timeless precepts for human behavior would seem to be rooted in love and tolerance. Knowing that an unusual group, a seemingly anomalous group, such as the Sadducees could exist somewhat harmoniously in the mainstream of first century Judaism, no less during a period of Roman captivity, certainly we who are dealing with the aftermath of Armstrongism can peacefully coexist in the face of diversity of opinion."

Now that I can get onboard with! But how likely is it to actually be achievable, Bob? Because it requires both sides to see that each side (or person) is right in their own minds, perhaps even to the extent that diversity of opinion causes a blind eye to be turned. (Confirmation bias.)

Ralph said...

Once again, Puirple, thank you for making my point. Each argument you provuide merely demonstrates that Paul or whoever he was, was correct.

For example, denial of the Talmud. Paul never dependedn on that, except, perhaps while he was a Pharisee himself.

The Torah- the only thing that Paul pointed out, and it did not come from the formal Torah, but was based strictly on the promise to Abraham regarding Isaac.

As Paul(or whoever) pointed out, the promise given to Abraham came 430 years before the law at Sinai(Galatians 3:17), so the law at Sinai did not affect the promise. Therefore, you have Paul(or whoever) agreeing with your view.

Second, Paul focused his entire idea around that promise to Abraham, and how those actually "chosen" were born of that promise and nothing else, making the law only a point of instruction, a "schoolmaster". Nothing more, nothing less.

Let us now, as you do, take this statement an declare it false. Then there exists no point in our trying to join any religion or follow God in any fashion by our own choice.

OTOH, let's assume that Paul(or whoever0 was correct. Then it would STILL make no difference in any case, sincre ony God would make his decisons, based on the agreement between himself and Abraham over which he alone has full control.

Therefore, we have the truth of the statement of Jesus in atthew 24:23, to follow no person who comes in the name of Christ. Waste of time. In either case, regarding any authority of any man, we are equally free.

I like you. Good arguments.

Neotherm said...

I agree with Ralph. When humans organize, all kinds of bizarre things happen. In fact, when humans engage socially, without necessarily trying to organize, really bizarre things happen. Christian churches, no matter how well intentioned, cannot escape this. Family life is the first organization we know. While family life can be good, this seems to be a great rarity.

One of the strange behaviors associated with human organization is the desire to differentiate the organization from others. We saw this with HWA. His "theology" was contrarian. He took a different view on almost everything. If orthodoxy asserted that God is a spirit, HWA claimed that God had a body like a human. Inadvertently,this contrarian approach served to align HWA theologically with a collection of sects and cults, both historical and current.

So Armstrongism became a smorgasbord of odd beliefs. But this had marketing value. It made people with low self-esteem feel different and, in a much more important way, special.

I seems to me that the Sadducees had a contrarian philosophy. They wanted to be different from and in opposition to the Pharisees. So whatever the Pharisees believed, the Sadducees would concoct someting a little different.

In marketing, product differentiation is one of the most important things you can do. Branding develops loyal followers, yet at its core it may just be hype and malarkey.

-- Neo

The Painful Truth said...

Byker Bob writes”...certainly we who are dealing with the aftermath of Armstrongism can peacefully coexist in the face of diversity of opinion.”

Recall the past.
The WCG taught us how to live, what to say, what to think, who to believe, and—most importantly—who not to believe.

It has been my observation that some people want the PT to constantly beat the drum of atheism. What these folks fail to realize is that they learned this methodology in the WCG. The cult basically instructed us to burn our opponents at the stake. As we once scorned atheists, we now scorn those who embrace Christianity.

Now apply this method to someones race. If you call a black-man the "N" word you are rightfully labeled a raciest. You are but trying to elevate yourself above another as a show of superiority.

In light of this, anyone who thinks that the cure for evil is more evil is not living in the real world.

Neotherm said...

To the Painful Truth:

I could not agree more wholeheartedly. I detect among the atheists a religious-like fervor, missionary spirit and fundamentalism that is reminiscent of Islam or Armstrongism. Various "Christian" organizations may be faulted with this as well, of course.

Its that old saw: sombody wants to believe that they alone are right and wants everyone else to know it and be like them.

-- Neo

Ralph said...

As I understand the Sadducees during the time(allegedly) of Jesus, they represented the priest class, strict proceduralists, while the Pharisees tended toward "democracy" and actually boastede about the proselytes weho reached high office within their ranks.

The Sadducees were probably more "pragmatic" under the Roman empire, because trhey wished for a peaceful occupation, while the Pharisees constantly produced would-be Messiahs.

In Matthew 23, Jesus(allegedly) admitted that the Pharisees sat in "Moses seat", but their supposed authority was a kind of layman's authority, based on oral tradition.

The "Publicani" or publicans, who collected taxes, were actually contractors with Rome from among the Jewish people, and tyhey were truly despised by pharisees, but generally supported by Sadducees in the interest of peace.

Jesus' life, however, was actually about law, and much of that law passed down as we understand it today. he had the right against incrimination(Isaiah 54:17) and facing his accusers(Isaiah 50:8), and the right to remain silent, which came from a combination of the "Two witness" rule and Isaiah 54:17.

The example he set for us, according to Paul, lay within that process of law. The Higfh Priest accused him of blasphemy, which was not permitted to the court. In fact, it was the duty of the court to make sure that the accused was protected in all cases, just as our own courts are supposed to do today(Ha!).

The Sadducees were considered as Quislings, to the Pharisees, and the Pharisees, it would seem, were upset because Jesus constantly condemned them as hypocrites, seeking to justify themselves before others.

According to law, the jews had no reason to put Jesus to death, since hios only accusation of blasphemy came from the Priest, who was forbidden to do so.

This, said Justice Abe Fortas, of the Supreme Court, was our example as the accused before the law to answer "thou sayest(Milton Meyer, "The Lawyers")", and in Jesus' response to the priest, he was reminding the priest that he, the priest, could not accuse the defendant of any crime. The priest himself became guilty of perjury, which would, under Deuteronomy 19:19, make the priest subject to the death penalty in Jesus' place.
No wonder he tore his robes.

It is tthis same principle of law that all accused people under common lawe "due process", have the right to say to our accusers: "thou sayest, now prove it".

It was this principle of law and the accused, the right of every man before the law to stand justified(Isaiah 54;17, isaiah 50:8, Deuteronomy 19:15) that was the teaching around which Paul centered himself, not the pagan rituals invented by Constantine, who fashioned a state religion which was precisely "anti-Christ".

The Painful Truth said...

Neo,

Don't ignore or forget the fact that you were lied to, made fun of, and ridiculed by the leadership. This lesson was not lost on the militant atheist. They learned well from their master.

As to the teachers of the old WCG, they still have blood on their hands.
To pretend to be an innocent lamb who had the public's best interests at heart is nothing more than an illusion of righteousness.

The truth is that those ministers of the former WCG, still stand out as an example of institutional disgrace. May they be forever ridiculed.

Byker Bob said...

Ralph,

I believe that, at least dating from the New Covenant, worship of God was intended to be an individual form of expression, with of course the guidance of and fruits of the Holy Spirit fully involved in the process. In other words, there is great freedom in being a Christian. God did not create us as yellow pencils. When good is chosen in the absence of law or penalties, there is a sweet purity to it all.

But, these organizers as you call them, attempt to place sincere people into some sort of box. Society and business do this as well. It makes everything predictable, and mass marketable. I personally believe that the people who allow them to do this to them actually need the structure. If there is one thing I've learned from life it is the fact that original thought is a very scarce commodity, one that is often resented.

BB

Byker Bob said...

Painful Truth,

I've certainly noticed some of the same things which you've pointed out about the atheist drum.

One of the beauties of an open forum is that often the truth will "out" so that a logically thinking person more or less naturally picks up on it just in the reading process. A lot can be told from human behavior and expression. Most people recognize those who have admirable or endearing personality traits, life's little indicators as to whose examples deserve imitation. This is something which often transcends opinion as to who might be winning or who might be losing a debate.

I'm sure we've all met individuals who have had activities spoiled for them. I know some former race fans who totally walked away from motorsports following the death of their favorite driver. Same with motorcycles, following an accident or injury. Or, handguns, following the death of a loved one.
And, I get it that this is sometimes something that people need to do. But, there is always another side, another way of dealing with it all. We've all got to do what speaks to our souls.

BB

The Painful Truth said...

Bob wrote:
"But, there is always another side, another way of dealing with it all. We've all got to do what speaks to our souls."

Well said Bob!
And with that might I add, separates the men from the boys.

All of us here interact with the world as part of a single organism. If one uses reason and respect in dealing with others, the whole of mankind has benefited.

Doing what is right and good, speaking with respect to those who see or live life otherwise, we must give bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.

I have spoken to some who have promoted the descent into the cesspool of credentialism. Yes, the beloved authority figure.
They are either...
(a) maledicent or
(b) an infernal and ruthless anal-retentive malcontent.

Unless we look at our relations with the rest of mankind realistically, and from a viewpoint that takes in the whole picture, our arguments will gradually disintegrate and become worthless.

Ralph said...

BB, that's basically what I've been getting at. It is natural for people to seek a collective identity, because our genes drive us to seek to maximize our reproductive abilities.

But a search for truth will inevitably force you to become an individual, whether you become atheist or a different kind of believer. I don't really judge atheists, because that is a necessary part of the process of individuation.

But I would also like to show that biblically, that is exactly what we're supposed to be doing, even against our will in most cases.

I hope to explore other facts of law, that I find fascinating and promise far greater individual freedom that we ever realized. Not law as HWA taught it, but law in the sense that we have complete freedom from men.

Purple Hymnal said...

"As we once scorned atheists, we now scorn those who embrace Christianity."

And you think the Christians are not culpable of doing exactly the same thing in reverse? Keep dreaming! The whole debacle over the Shadows of WCG discussion forum stemmed, from ex-WCG Christians, doing that very same thing, to BOTH non-Christians and non-theists!

Splinters and beams. I'm not "preaching" for atheism. But I want to be able to post a differing point of view, just so that those lurking, can see that a differing point of view IS possible.

Besides, I thought you were a Deist, James; where did all this "Fear teh baaaaad ebil atheists" rhetoric come from, all of a sudden? That misses the point Bob (another Christian, I add) was trying to make, misses it entirely!

Purple Hymnal said...

Its that old saw: sombody wants to believe that they alone are right and wants everyone else to know it and be like them.

True, but that's not the process I'm using here, I'm just expressing my own opinions. Everyone else is entitled to their opinion as well, but so am I (which is the fly in the Christians' ointment, sometimes).

There are fundamentalist atheists out there, don't get me wrong (I can't stomach Dawkins, personally), and yes I can be one on occasion myself.

Believers seem to fail to make the distinction between atheists expressing their own opinion, and the actual attacking of the Christians' personal beliefs.

But again, since it's all subjective (there's that word again), there can be no "meeting in the middle" because Christians are, by and large, unwilling to dialogue "the hard questions". This post on Otagosh (also be sure to read the associated links (last one is PDF), for a good example of where atheists and Christians may, at last, "meet in the middle".

If the Christians are willing to give up their own fundamentalism and bibliomancy, that is.

Purple Hymnal said...

"The truth is that those ministers of the former WCG, still stand out as an example of institutional disgrace. May they be forever ridiculed."

Amen! Especially now that they are preying on the poverty-stricken masses in Third World nations.

Junior just didn't sink low enough, with his 15% take from each congregation, for his own personal slush fund.

Am I being slanderous? Let Grace Communion International/Worldwide Church of God open its books to all and prove me wrong!

Yeah. I'm not holding my breath, either.

Purple Hymnal said...

"When good is chosen in the absence of law or penalties, there is a sweet purity to it all."

Agreed. I experience this, as well, as one who IS good...without God.

(And no, that's not an altar call for fundie atheism, that's just my own personal opinion.)

Ralph said...

Of course I'm not christian, nor share any collective beliefs in christianity. But Romans 8:29-30 cancels all christian attempts to organize in God's name, anyway.

If God has already predestined, foreknown, called and chosen them, then there simply exists no "free will" opportunity for any religion to claim any special relationship to God.

So, from that scripture alone, christianity never was a true representative of God, and HWA couldn't have been, because he depended on our freee will choice to follow him.

If you believe the New testament, you can't be a christian, because you can't choose to be one of God's children. If you don't believe the bible, you aren't going to be christian or anything else anyway.

Actually, you only have one possibly correct choice, and that's to be free from all human systems of religion, whatever they are. If the bible is true, your choice will change nothing, and if the bible is false, your choice will change nothing. Therefore, from either perspective, your only correct choice is to be free from all human authorities.

Purple Hymnal said...

Hey Neo, did you get that email problem fixed?