14 November 2011

Interpreting Biblical passages


  1. Since this post is about christianity and is about the God I believe in, I shall comment. The only only only requirement to get into Heaven is to accept Jesus Christ as your saviour and believe that he paid the ultimate price for your sins. That's it. Thats all. Good deeds wont do it. Self sacrifice wont do it. Only Jesus.

  2. Hey antoine0387, was that ultimate price full-filing a prophecy or clearing that whole "Original sin of Adam" thing? Or was it a means to set up the afterlife (the whole descending into Hell bit)?

    I have various Christian friends/family member who have quite different interpretations on what Jesus died for. It's especially confusing if they consider the Adam & Eve creation story allegorical and yet believe every passage featuring Christ as fact.

    (I do not mean to provoke or deride, I'm just curious is all)

  3. So Antoine, baby raping, mother killing, people who steal from the poor, abuse the innocent, and spend their whole lives working to ruin as many lives as possible for their own pleasure get to go to heaven if they say they believe in Jesus, but a loving, caring, generous Hindu or Buddhist who spends their lives helping others and making the world a better place for future generations would be rejected by God?
    What kind of insane and stupid God would do such a thing? Can anyone actually believe that an all knowing all seeing being would be so shallow and self centered?

  4. This is a great site. I think it's worthwhile demonstrating, each of us, just enough discipline to avoid dragging TYWKIWDBI commentary down to the level of most of the rest of the Internet...

    The cartoon can be amusing to religious and non-religious alike. If you thought Religulous (sp?) was the best movie ever made, you'll think the point here is how ludicrous religion and the bible are. If you deeply and sincerely hold a specific set of religious beliefs that guide you through life, you'll see the irony in those who hold themselves out as examples of purity and faith, yet still find a way to 'interpret' the passages and teachings they find simply don't fit the way they want to live their lives.

    Whichever it is, smile - or at least pass this one by in a show of tolerance and a belief that the author had good intentions, not nasty mean ones - and read another item.

  5. Thanks, antoine, for your statement. For those who know the love of Christ and His salvation, there is nothing better. "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." John 14:6 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" John3:16 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." Ephesians 2:8,9

  6. Nicely said, anonmous. Posting items about religion is for me like walking a tightrope. I DON'T want to MOCK believers OR nonbelievers. I don't want to favor one religion over another. But I do want people to THINK about the subject matter - that's the whole purpose of authoring a blog (otherwise, why bother?)

  7. Minnesotastan, I come to this blog for several reasons. You have many fascinating pictures of nature, interesting posts about science, and, yes, posts on religion and politics that provoke thought. I read several sites that openly mock all that I believe. Sometimes they make good points and other times they help me to sharpen myself in my beliefs. In this case, I suspect the artist's intent was to mock Christianity. I do find a slight bit of humor in his portrayal, and I am challenged by it to make sure that I am believing all of the Bible and not just the parts that I like. However, his portrayal is an inaccurate picture of the truth of God's Word. I am certain that this is how many people see the Bible when they don't realize that it is absolute truth. I also know that many nominal Christians follow the parts of the Bible they like and ignore the rest. The whole thing is true and important. It is all meant to be taken literally except for the parts that clearly indicate that they are symbolic (such as portions of Revelation).
    At any rate, I thoroughly enjoy your blog. It is one of about ten sites that I check every day.

  8. @EW - Its not just believing in Jesus. Even Satan believes in Jesus. If you repent and accept J.C. then your golden and all sins are forgiven. I am not very strong in my faith or exceptionally well versed which is why I was pleased to see Timothy's post quoting those scriptures. You're right it is sad that the Hindus Buddhists peace loving hippies etc wont reach heaven due to the simple fact they dont trust in J.C. They might believe He was aprophet like the muslims (J.C. is mentioned in the Koran I think) do. Also practicing Jews won't either because they see J.C. as a prophet but nothing more.

    @Job - Before J.C. blood still had to be paid to forgive our sins which is what I think Levitacus(sp) is all about. After J.C. we no longer had to be circumsimed(sp) and sacrafice all those innocent animals to pay for our sin. I believe He spilt his blood for me. Not sure what other reasons there could be. I think the sin of Adam is that we die and there is no way (so far) around that.

    @ annon - I can see the humour and accept it. I even find racist jokes funny but I know the difference and the truth behind them. This was created to get a laugh and poke fun. But this time I felt the need to comment (and obviously still do) because its rare That I share my faith on the internet because its MY faith and I respect the decisions of others. It seems there are more critics/attackers than defenders of the christianity and maybe someone out there needed to read my post and help them get the facts straight.

    There is only ONE way to enter into my God's kingdom. And I say my God because there are religions with other gods/godesses.

    I love this site and visit it daily for the neat information posted be it politics, religion, history or butterflies.
    Thank you Minnesotastan for your thought provoking posts.

    (my longest post anywhere to date and I feel pretty good about it.)

  9. welcome, antoine0387 - emerging from the mists of lurking...


  10. Great post. As Antonie0387 and Timothy Benefield stated, good works cannot get one to heaven. None of us earn heaven (Romans 3:10-23).

    The best way I've heard this explained is through this illustration. Imagine that the Grand Canyon's two sides are called Earth and Heaven. You are on Earth's side, and need to get across. There is no way around, so you must jump! Sadly, you fall. There is no way you can jump that far. Now imagine the best jumper in the entire world takes a crack at it. He jumps and... falls as well. He jumped much better, but still couldn't even begin to come close to crossing that gap.

    That is the gap caused by sin that separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). Some of us are indeed far better than others, just like some are better at jumping than others. However, we all have in common the fact that nobody is perfect (everyone is a sinner), and the only way to cross that canyon is to find another way than jumping (good works). That's where Jesus Christ comes in.

    Salvation is through trusting in Jesus Christ through faith (not blind faith, but real faith). And we can't even brag or boast about that! At that point, we begin to live a changed life and do good works - not to save us or pay back the debt we owe to God, but because that is what God designed us for (Ephesians 2:10).

  11. @ antoine0387

    This is an honest and sincere question: why would you want to go to a heaven - and a God - where good people who just happen to be born into other religious faiths are not allowed to?

    My feeling is: everyone goes, or no one does.

    Believing that heaven is only for people who think exactly like me seems a perfect example of worshiping an anthropomorphic idol. I am always suspicious when someone is certain that God's will just so happens to align perfectly with their own.

  12. The cartoon is Not poking fun at Christianity- it is poking fun at people either too ignorant or too hypocritical to grasp the most important aspects of any faith.

    Verily, I say unto you... the cartoon Christian god you create to your own personal liking and likeness is just that- your very own mirror image of your own personal, best loved prejudices. That's how a guy from the heart of the Middle East who said "love your enemy," is transformed into a blonde haired, blue eyed "warrior" for white supremacist groups everywhere.

    Now smite me down and shiver me timbers with the righteous quotes of your choice- weren't the Pharisees real good at quoting stuff?

  13. @ Tamika - That is a really tough question. I've heard throug various sources that God will reveal himself to people who have never heard of Him because of their cultural beliefs. I choose to believe this is true. Maybe only one person hears about Him but then its his/her responsibility to share the gospel with those around him so they too have the opportunity to make a decision knowing that more than one belief system exists. That is an incomplete answer and is only hearsay but its is the best I can come up with.

    @Stan B. - "That's how a guy from the heart of the Middle East who said "love your enemy," is transformed into a blonde haired, blue eyed "warrior" for white supremacist groups everywhere."

    I am guessing that the dude from the middle east is Jesus but I don't know who the "warrior" is.
    There are extremists in every religion. I find it impossible to relate to the comments posted by "christians" on sites such as Fox news that have been quoted here in the past that call for murder, torture/disfigurement of people who dont conform to what that poster deems the righteous way to live.

    I was given a book by my youth pastor when I had some tough questions about why this and why that is allowed to happen. The book is from an apologetic (speaks in defense of...) who is very educated in the christian doctrine. He published the personal letters between himself and his aging father about religion. The son obviously wanted his father to discover the joy he had in God but the father was very much a skeptic and asked the hard questions. The book is titled "Letters from a Skeptic: A Son Wrestles with His Father's Questions about Christianity" If you or anyone you know is wanting more information on what it all means I would suggest this book. Its a very easy to read book with fairly simple but honest language. If at the end you still dont believe/convert then at least you explored another side of this world and its ideas.

  14. Wow. This post contains three implicit messages:

    1. That to believe in God and the Bible's message requires a denial of the findings of anthropology, archaeology, astronomy, astrophysics, biology, botany, chemistry, cosmology, ecology, embryology, entomology, evolution, genetics, geology, herpetology, mathematics, paleontology, plate tectonics, radiometric dating and zoology.

    To this I would respond: has the author considered the insights discovered in anthropology, archaeology, astronomy, astrophysics, biology, botany, chemistry, cosmology, ecology, embryology, entomology, evolution, genetics, geology, herpetology, mathematics, paleontology, plate tectonics, radiometric dating and zoology that actually point to a creator and the Bible's overall message?

    Or considered that there are many believers in anthropology, archaeology, astronomy, astrophysics, biology, botany, chemistry, cosmology, ecology, embryology, entomology, evolution, genetics, geology, herpetology, mathematics, paleontology, plate tectonics, radiometric dating and zoology?

    2. That eternal life is only granted by selling all your possessions and giving to the poor.

    Response: Not sure where the author is getting their biblical/theological education from here. Jesus said this to one person and wasn't giving it as a general statement of doctrine. Other comments have mentioned other biblical reasons for questioning this understanding of this account of Jesus and the rich man. I'm wondering how much the author actually knows about the Bible.

    3. That Christians can be so taken with some matters of belief that we become blind to others; that we can so quickly defend the Bible against its 'attackers' or against theological heresy that we miss many of Jesus' own words and commands.

    And my response: very true. We can, have, and no doubt will do so again in the future. Thanks for the reminder.

    It seems we all need to be aware of our blind spots.

  15. Sheridan, I'll try to address your comment. I didn't post the cartoon because I agree with it in toto, but rather to make people think (which I think the post is doing).

    Re your first point, I think the cartoon is incorrect if it implies (in the second panel) that rejection of science when it contradicts the Bible is a requirement to enter Heaven or that (panel 4) taking every comment in the Bible as literal truth is necessary. But there are some people who do believe both of those viewpoints.

    I think the cartoon is then addressing ONLY those people (who believe in an inerrant and absolute Bible) when it goes on to the third part, about giving everything to the poor.

    Your statement is "Jesus said this to one person and wasn't giving it as a general statement of doctrine." The question would be - how do you know that? How can you tell which of the saying of Jesus apply to just one person/one situation in antiquity and do not apply to anyone else/to modern man? Are only the Ten Commandments absolute truths? What then about the content of the Sermon on the Mount? For just the listeners in the crowd that day? Or for everyone?

    To me, the cartoon is teasing (?taunting) not all Christians or all believers, but rather just those who insist that every word of the Bible is perfect but then ignore or "interpret" certain passage in ways that are most convenient for their personal lives.

  16. I'm down with the "teasing" of inconsistent interpretation. This annoys me to, when folks shift between interpretive strategies to fit their personal comfort.

    But the Lukan passages DON'T convey the meaning in the cartoon, right? The first talks hyperbolically about "hating" family in order to follow Christ. "Giving up everything" in this context means putting the Kingdom of God above all else. The latter passage (Lk 18) is specific teaching for a specific person.

    In this way, this cartoon's "teasing" (while justified in some sense), also shows that the author is interpreting passages in ways that "conveniently" taunt Christians.

  17. Please remember to credit the artist/source when you post a cartoon. (Or, if it's your own creation, say so!)

  18. I generally do, anon. Cartoons typically have signatures embedded; this one didn't, however.

    I searched today, and found a non-trimmed copy to insert instead.

    Tx for the heads-up.


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