Originally posted by ChrisChillin in the thread What about the poor?
Well done response. I won't use that as an example in the future.
Thank you so much for the engaging discussion! I was glad that you were able to challenge the two sources I typically cite (Christian Think Tank and Tekton) and made me do some more research. As a result, I feel confident about my position knowing there is even more
data to support it. Also, thank you for being a fair fella to discuss with!
Now, the point I intend to make with this: You have just conceded that some problem in the Bible you thought was so clear
was actually not the case. Although at first you accused me of "twisting" the text, I assume that since you will drop Jephthah as an example of biblical horrors, that accusation is now withdrawn. So here's what's very important about this: perhaps maybe there is more to other parts of the Bible that you have similarly described as clear
Maybe Christians can reasonably explain what is going on in Joshua's Conquest so that God doesn't come out as an ogre. In fact, a few months back I bought a book called "Show Them No Mercy: 4 Views on God and the Canaanite Genocide." There is not one single Christian opinion on this matter! For example, while I don't agree with his conclusion, one of my professors in the religion department at my college believes that God did not order the bloodbath, and the Israelites later invented this sanction and put it in Scripture. Meanwhile, Glenn Miller has a long article at the Think Tank that delves into text and context and suggests that what happened might not have been so bloody as we think.
Maybe this hell of "eternal torment and screaming agony" is actually quite different from the connotations that have arisen from centuries of imagination. When Jesus is saying "weeping and gnashing of teeth", that phrase refers to sorrow and lament, not agony from torture. Did you know that when the Rich Man in the parable says he is in "torments", the word used refers to anguish, and not really physical torture? Perhaps we've been too literal with the very figurative imagery of the Revelation as well...
Maybe, just maybe, this God you wish to forget has not forgotten you. Perhaps your journey of discovery can begin again. It sounds like when you were a Christian, you got too many easy answers and pat responses...
"Only a fool has said in his heart, there is no god" being pounded over the pulpit.
You know what? I don't like easy answers either.
I don't like it when Christians spout cliches or mindlessly mimic Bible verses. I also don't like it when they all too quickly dismiss the agony of one's heart, like yours, with the wave of a hand and some trash-talk. Much of the development of my faith in recent years has been in response to that. Fortunately, I have found the love of Christ and His call for righteousness to work even stronger in my life. There was one day in Sunday School as a teen that I sat there, thinking it was all fake. I had just gone through lists of alleged Bible contradictions and felt ready to throw in the towel. But I pressed on, and as I've grown, I've been met with new challenges, but in my experience at least the claims of Jesus continue to win out. Perhaps, post-resurrection, I managed to meet Him on my road to Emmaus, but somehow you've kept walking down another path. But this trip ain't over yet.
Believe me, I have changed my thinking and I haven't been a theological statue. As I have studied and experienced the way the Christian faith has been worked out in my life has been through its transformations. For example, I don't consider myself an inerrantist, the concept of JEDP doesn't shake me (although I am basically agnostic on the matter of Pentateuch authorship), and I have come to accept an inclusivist stance on salvation, which means that I have hope that God will save all who earnestly seek Him, even if they're so conditioned by their experience that Jesus is never a serious thought (and for that I recommend No Other Name
by John Sanders). So I want you to know that I consider myself pretty open-minded, and I think my development supports that.
So...this means that maybe, just maybe
I've got it all wrong. Maybe God isn't real at all. It will take a lot of convincing to get me to think otherwise, but it's important to me that I know what truth is. Meanwhile, I will continue, as William Barclay puts it, betting my life that Jesus is right.
Perhaps then, you, FirstSunday33AD, and I should get together and start a new thread on one of these topics that is important to you, such as Hell or the Canaanite Slaughter. If we remain civil and open, I believe we can accomplish much!
Keep us challenged, xixax!