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 Post subject: Re: Saying 'I told you so.' from the grave.
PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2007 6:51 am 
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Dewy wrote:
I've come to realize that...(I got this from Star Trek) that after I die, if there is no God, or afterlife for that matter, then what is the purpose of living? All my memories, achievements, they'll have meant nothing. They would've been pointless. To me, its terrifying, the thought of eternal nothingness. Not existing. Simply ceasing to be after death.


Take that query one step further. Whether you're Christian or Atheist (and likely some other religions, though I don't know for sure), you have to believe that our species will come to an end one day, be it a religious Judgement Day, or simply the end of our species from some cause or another. When that happens, what will the point of everything we accomplished be? All the wars, all the arguments, all the construction, all the art, the music, the poetry? What will be the point of technology and agriculture? What will be the point of education and strategy? Everything that we feel defines us as human, everything that we alone on this earth have accomplished that no other species heretofore has ever accomplished, will be of no further consequence to our planet or the universe until/unless some other sentient life form comes across our remains. But what good will that be to them? We surely can't say, and it seems outlandish to surmise that all our efforts resulting from an obvious incarnation of personal grandeur and survival of our own species are merely for some unknown, ambiguous, and highly questionable benefit of some future species. We're not THAT altruistic.

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PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2007 7:09 am 
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Kef:

Actually, I think that a good case can be made for God's perfection, on the following bases:

1. If indeed the entire universe were created by God, then it would stand to reason to say that he is all-powerful, that is, in the sense that nothing within this universe is beyond the scope of his ability to control.

2. Since all things within the universe were constructed by him, it would stand to reason that he would know all things, from a sub-molecular level, all the way to the super-cosmic level. That being the case, he would know not only all actual things, but also all possibilities.

3. Given the benevolent nature of this Creator - that he grants existence to all things and sustains them with his power, even those creatures that openly rebel against him, use, abuse, and even destroy his creation - and even demonstrates his perfect love for creation by sacrificing the dearest thing in all existence to him: his own Son (who himself demonstrates perfect love by undertaking that mission on our behalf) - he demonstrates a consistent love for his creation as a whole and for his creatures.

Given these characteristics, which theologians tend to call "omnipotence", "omniscience", and "omnibenevolence", it is easy to see that at the very least we must concede that this God is the most perfect being (if the term "perfect" can even be understood in degrees - some English professors argue that it cannot).

At this point, I must suggest we define our term "perfect" here. For the sake of consideration, I would limit our usage to the first ten definitions, and exclude those specifically for various other fields of study. What we have in God, then, is the highest degree of power, knowledge, and goodness, as well as an innate completeness (if all things originate from himself, then can there be anything apart from himself that he should possibly need?).

The main objections to this seem to be the whole "problem of evil" argumentation, which has been discussed in this forum numerous times already. The flaw in the argumentation is that the problem of evil seems to originate with creatures rejecting the benevolence of the Creator and spurning his wisdom. Now, it would stand to reason that, if God the most perfect being in existence, then all other beings - though created by him - would be less perfect, and therefore subject to flaws. Furthermore, I would contend that, even though his perfect knowledge and authority as creator would mean that he does in fact know what it best for every creature, he does at times allow his creatures to make poor choices. Why? Because he prefers to act as a loving Father rather than as a harsh dictator; he resorts to the latter only in dire necessity. So, in his love, he created creatures that would eventually fall, even knowing that they would fall. Yet he neither refrained nor constrained on account of his love for those same creatures. Instead, he demonstrates love perfected by committing a supreme act of self-sacrifice on their behalf. And through that supreme act of sacrifice, he also began a process by which all creation will be restored. That process is not yet complete. But that is a different matter. I spent far more time with this one difficulty than I intended.

But you are right in this: if God himself is the most perfect being, then it does make it impossible for anyone else to stand in judgment over him, whether the criteria for perfection exist objectively apart from God or exist entirely bound within him. But if that's the case, then it would be impossible for anyone to judge God by any authority or based upon any criteria. In other words, if no one can say, "God is perfect," then neither can anyone say, "God is flawed."

By the way, I want to express my appreciation for the congenial way that some of you guys can engage in discussing these issues. I know that some people get really irate about such discussions, but I want you to understand that I actually enjoy these conversations.

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PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2007 7:42 pm 
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Didymus wrote:
That's not quite the way hell works. Hell is a place for those who wanted nothing to do with God, who went their own way and rejected God's only Son, and so God basically sends them away into an existence apart from his presence, and without his grace, such a place can only be hell. But if hell is not a reality, the Christ died for nothing. While the image of a God who does hold people accountable for their crimes is not a popular one today, it is nevertheless the way God revealed himself, and in fact what Jesus himself said will occur. Matthew 25.


So then... the people who wanted nothing to do with god, but led a good, prosperous life, will go to hell to be forever burned in fire and brimstone just because they didn't believe in god? Sounds kinda...Horrible, doesn't it?

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PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2007 7:52 pm 
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Cola, did you even read Matthew 25? Apparently not.

Aside from that, you're still operating under the false assumption that people who hated God in this life will actually want to enjoy his presence in the afterlife. Heaven and hell are defined primarily by the presence and absence of God. It stands to reason that those who did not love God in this life will be deprived of his presence in the afterlife, and such an existence is what we call hell.

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PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2007 11:34 pm 
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I received an interesting question in PM recently. And since it appears that more than one person holds this, I felt it would appropriate to address the issue here:
Someone in PM wrote:
Didy, why don't you try to prove your faith WITHOUT the Bible sometime!

That's a very good question. But before I begin, I would like to ask you to clarify this: you want me to prove my faith without reference to the evidence for my faith? Am I understanding you correctly? If that is the case, then wouldn't that be like walking into a courtroom, and demanding that a murderer be convicted without reference to the weapon, without reference to the body, and without reference to the events of the crime itself? Doesn't that strike you as a bit ridiculous?

I refer to the Bible for two reasons: (1) because it does contain the essence of my faith, and at times I feel it necessary to clarify to people exactly what that faith entails (you'd be surprised at how many people argue against certain aspects of my faith without even understanding what my faith is); and (2) because it is also a historical record of certain events in history that, if examined with an open mind, would reveal themselves as evidence for the existence of God.

Are there other reasons that I believe? Yes there are. But many of them are subjective experiences that I feel many people would not understand. I have shared some of them with a few of you, but because they are personal, I do not feel it appropriate to discuss them at length here.

My answer is this: if you disagree with something I say, then you have a responsibility to refute it. If you cannot do so, then you have a choice: either concede, or stay out of the conversation. I do not believe this is unreasonable. It is a concept that people like Kef, Pianoman, Mike D, and others seem to understand, and frankly, I appreciate their input. Heck, even you who posed me this question: I am glad you asked, even if I'm not terribly pleased with the hostility with which you asked it.

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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 3:48 am 
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Didymus wrote:
Cola, did you even read Matthew 25? Apparently not.

Aside from that, you're still operating under the false assumption that people who hated God in this life will actually want to enjoy his presence in the afterlife. Heaven and hell are defined primarily by the presence and absence of God. It stands to reason that those who did not love God in this life will be deprived of his presence in the afterlife, and such an existence is what we call hell.


So Atheists who don't walk around waving signs that say "To Hell With God" will go to heaven despite their disbelief of any divine beings?


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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 4:09 am 
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Considering that Jesus once said that the first and most important command is, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength," what do you think?

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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 4:33 am 
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Didymus wrote:
I received an interesting question in PM recently. And since it appears that more than one person holds this, I felt it would appropriate to address the issue here:
Someone in PM wrote:
Didy, why don't you try to prove your faith WITHOUT the Bible sometime!

That's a very good question. But before I begin, I would like to ask you to clarify this: you want me to prove my faith without reference to the evidence for my faith? Am I understanding you correctly? If that is the case, then wouldn't that be like walking into a courtroom, and demanding that a murderer be convicted without reference to the weapon, without reference to the body, and without reference to the events of the crime itself? Doesn't that strike you as a bit ridiculous?

I refer to the Bible for two reasons: (1) because it does contain the essence of my faith, and at times I feel it necessary to clarify to people exactly what that faith entails (you'd be surprised at how many people argue against certain aspects of my faith without even understanding what my faith is); and (2) because it is also a historical record of certain events in history that, if examined with an open mind, would reveal themselves as evidence for the existence of God.

Are there other reasons that I believe? Yes there are. But many of them are subjective experiences that I feel many people would not understand. I have shared some of them with a few of you, but because they are personal, I do not feel it appropriate to discuss them at length here.

My answer is this: if you disagree with something I say, then you have a responsibility to refute it. If you cannot do so, then you have a choice: either concede, or stay out of the conversation. I do not believe this is unreasonable. It is a concept that people like Kef, Pianoman, Mike D, and others seem to understand, and frankly, I appreciate their input. Heck, even you who posed me this question: I am glad you asked, even if I'm not terribly pleased with the hostility with which you asked it.


I used to ask questions like that, in that very tone, but I realized that it would never get me anywhere, and just created unnecessary hosilities. On that note, here's an open letter . . .

Dear Didymus,
I may disagree with you on just about every aspect of religion, faith, and the Bible, but I must say you a probably one of the most intelligent and thoughtful message-boarders I've ever come across. I look forward to your reading your thoughts on any given subject in the R&P section. Definately one of the main reasons I visit this board.
Sincerely,
-Amorican
P.S. Don't worry, I'm not a stalker or anything.

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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 4:41 am 
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Thanks Amorican! I must say it is very pleasant to see such collegiality from an opponent. It is much appreciated. :)

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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 7:07 am 
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Didymus wrote:
Aside from that, you're still operating under the false assumption that people who hated God in this life will actually want to enjoy his presence in the afterlife. Heaven and hell are defined primarily by the presence and absence of God. It stands to reason that those who did not love God in this life will be deprived of his presence in the afterlife, and such an existence is what we call hell.
You described hell as the Jews see it. Where the heck does Fire and Brimstone come into play in this scenario?

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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 3:04 pm 
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Choc-o-Lardiac Arrest wrote:
Didymus wrote:
Aside from that, you're still operating under the false assumption that people who hated God in this life will actually want to enjoy his presence in the afterlife. Heaven and hell are defined primarily by the presence and absence of God. It stands to reason that those who did not love God in this life will be deprived of his presence in the afterlife, and such an existence is what we call hell.
You described hell as the Jews see it. Where the heck does Fire and Brimstone come into play in this scenario?


Fire and brimstone, from what I recall, were primarily conceptualized by Dante Alighieri in The Divine Comedy, which was then reinforced by painters and other artists, some philosophers, theologians, and the whole of Hollywood (with very few exceptions). It's as common an error to think that Christian dogma explicitly states that it's as Dante described as it is to think that the Bible said that the Fruit from the Tree of Forbidden Knowledge was an apple.

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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 4:11 pm 
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Didymus wrote:
Aside from that, you're still operating under the false assumption that people who hated God in this life will actually want to enjoy his presence in the afterlife. Heaven and hell are defined primarily by the presence and absence of God. It stands to reason that those who did not love God in this life will be deprived of his presence in the afterlife, and such an existence is what we call hell.


Just because I don't believe there is a god doesn't mean that I don't appreciate what God does, if he exists. I love life, and I love how great my life has been. I appreciate greatly whatever has caused my life to go so well, but I don't know what that is. I believe science is a more plausible view to how life came about, but it doesn't mean I don't appreciate God's creation, even if I don't know to attribute it to Him. I love whatever has created life - perhaps it's God.

I still don't believe there is a god, heaven, or hell. But I'm curious as to what people think of this.


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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 4:19 pm 
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Good answer, Pianoman. Fire and brimstone is just one image of hell used in the Bible. I suspect that that particular image is invoked because it recalls Sodom and Gomorrah, or perhaps the Gehennon Valley, where unclean things were burned. The more common image Jesus uses is that of the Outer Darkness. The idea there is that, inside the house, there is a party with feasting and revelry and light. But outside the house, there is darkness, loneliness, exclusion, alienation, and regret. Those outside the house not only endure loss of all good things, but do so knowing that they are completely excluded from the party inside, and that by their own fault. Not to say that hell ISN'T fire and brimstone, but rather that that's not the worst part of it.

Oddly enough, in Dante, the good pagans don't endure fire and brimstone. They reside in hell's top level, a gloomy shadowland of darkness and regret. And in lower levels, the torments of hell are tailored to fit the crimes committed by those who are there. My own theory is that Dante is not writing what he considers a true account of hell, but rather an allegory of his own spiritual journey. But Pianoman is right in this: Dante did not write on behalf of all Christendom, but only his own thoughts.

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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 6:27 pm 
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Choc-o-Lardiac Arrest wrote:
You described hell as the Jews see it.

If I recall my lessons at Hebrew School, Jews don't believe in Hell. Or a Heaven, for that matter.

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 1:16 am 
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Choc-o-Lardiac Arrest wrote:
You know, the thing that sucks is that if there is a god, you're more than likely going to hell. But if there isnt, then you're gonna be rotting in the ground thinking "Man, what the hell did I get myself into?"

so:
God=Great chance of going to hell due to high standards

No God= Rotting in the ground being eaten by worms and uncomfortable padding in the coffin.

Either way, we're going to hell.


From the Christian viewpoint, all you have to do is repent, and accept Jesus into your heart.

I am a Christian.

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 2:12 am 
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That is a pretty drastic oversimplification of the Christian faith, there, Sam. But I believe I already covered that with Piemax earlier.

And incidentally, can you point me in the Bible where it says anything about "asking Jesus into your heart?" I've heard that language pretty much all my life, but after almost 14 years of biblical study, I have yet to find that phrase anywhere.

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 3:20 am 
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Rogue Leader wrote:
Choc-o-Lardiac Arrest wrote:
You described hell as the Jews see it.

If I recall my lessons at Hebrew School, Jews don't believe in Hell. Or a Heaven, for that matter.
...So then they just exist, worship a god, and die?

My god, religion is weird.

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 5:42 am 
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Cola, rabbinical Judaism believes in the Resurrection of the Body on the Last Day (unless that's changed in the last few hundred years). Christians likewise believe in the Resurrection of the Body, but for some reason, that belief has been overlooked in recent years in favor of a simplistic "heaven or hell" theology. While we do believe that those who die in Christ are with him in spirit until the Last Day, this is not the final state or the final hope, but more like resting until it's all over.

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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2007 4:05 am 
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Rogue Leader wrote:
Choc-o-Lardiac Arrest wrote:
You described hell as the Jews see it.

If I recall my lessons at Hebrew School, Jews don't believe in Hell. Or a Heaven, for that matter.


You described hell as Atheists see it. =P


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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2007 10:57 pm 
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Ah, poo. I forgot about this thread, and now there's all these really long posts. Better start reading...

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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2007 2:04 pm 
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The worst part about being a non-believer is that you would never be able to say "Hah! Didn't I say so, eh?" after death, because... well, you're dead. :-|

Anyway, Didy, if the bible is evidence for Christianity, how come there are so many other religions? Only one third of the world is christian, and many other religions have texts as well... plus, Christianity has split up so much over the ages that you can't really call it one religion anymore, but rather many very similar religions. True, they have the same core, same principles, but when you think about it, so do Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

Also, wouldn't it have been more effective if god's word, wichever god happened to be the real one, was hard coded into our brains? No, I don't mean hard coded so that we must obey it, but rather hard coded so that everybody knows exactly what god meant from birth, and then left to decide for ourselves. If you think it would not be possible, because the child could not relate to anything else, how about it's automaticly "installed" at the age of reason? If it was like that, there would not be any holy wars or cults because of diffrent interpretations...


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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2007 3:13 pm 
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Actually, I wouldn't say that Islam and Judaism do share the same core as Christianity. The core of the Christian faith is Christ (thus the name, Chrisitianity). Mainstream Judaism (though not all Judaism*) rejects Christ, and Islam, while granting him a position of minor honor among their hallowed prophets, do not hail him as Lord. So the essential problem there is that between these three major religions, while they share a common root, do not share a common core.

* we Christians would contend that Christ is a major part of the Jewish faith as God intended, but that mainstream Judaism fails to recognize this. However, there is a sect of Judaism, known as Messianic Judaism, that does recognize Jesus of Nazareth as Lord.

As far as differences in denominations go, I would contend that that is the failure of human beings to submit themselves to the authority of the Scriptures. There seems to be a long history of various "Christians" who for different reasons prefer their own ways of thinking over what the Word actually says. We call these divergent ideas "heresies." And I would contend that a heresy is no more evidence against God than counterfeit money is evidence against real money. If anything, the counterfeits only show that there must be something real.

The reason I feel Christianity is correct is for this reason: it is a religion that is both historical and miraculous. Pagan religions abound in mythical stories of remarkable happenings, but just try to identify the places or times that those things happen. Where did Odysseus encounter the Cyclops? Where did Balder get killed by the Mistletoe? We do know where Jesus of Nazareth was born, where he was crucified, and where almost every major event in his life took place.

Yes, there are other historical religions; Islam and Buddhism* for example. But other than apocryphal accounts, we don't really have a whole lot of miraculous testimony to solidify them. What seems most important to their faith is not anything miraculous, but rather the philosophical and moral teachings of those religions.

* if you can even call Buddhism a religions - some adherents take exception to that, saying that Buddha himself was not really concerned with religion, only with establishing a way for humans to live in this messed up, meaningless world.

But for Christianity, the miraculous nature of it is of primary importance. If this Jesus of Nazareth is not truly Lord, then his teachings are fairly pointless. Oh, they may offer a good way to live, but if there is no resurrection of the body, then what's the point? And since his followers already had the laws of Judaism, what would he have to add to them, unless he actually had authority to proclaim a new faith? This is why the miraculous nature of Christianity is so important to the Christian: if it weren't, we'd have no way of knowing that this Jesus was who he claimed to be, and no reason to follow him.

As for God being "programmed" into people's brains, that's an interesting idea. The problem there is that, since humanity's fall, human beings do not retain it anymore. It's all in Romans 1. Humanity knew God, but decided we didn't care to follow him, but instead turned away. At that point, God withdrew, allowing fallen humanity to go his own way until such time as he was ready to recognize his deepest need. It's like the story of the Prodigal Son. The father allowed the son to go away. The son squandered the father's gift to him, and was left completely and utterly helpless. At that point, all he could do was return to his father as a wretched and destitute being. But when he returned, the father, instead of making him a slave, embraced him as his son again, restoring him to the family. This, I feel, is the love of God at work, that he does allow us at times to suffer the consequences of leaving him, only so that we can learn just how much we need him, and so that he can embrace us as his dear children when we return.

But part of that consequence is that human beings are not what he created us to be anymore. Had mankind not fallen, I think that programming would be intact. But as it is, the hardware itself (that is, our fallen human nature) keeps causing the program to crash. Thus, although God did make (and does make) himself known, we miserable creatures do not see clearly and thus turn away. It's all in Romans 1.

But the evidence I spoke of is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God's means of entering into this meaningless messed-up existence and effecting some treatment for our fallen condition. I say that it is evidence because you'd be hard pressed to offer another explanation of those extraordinary events. If Jesus did indeed rise from the dead, then how would you explain it without reference to God's power?

Oh, there have been attempts to explain it away, but under examination, all of them are just as improbable as the resurrection itself. So I would contend that simply saying, "It couldn't possibly happen at all," is a closed-minded assessment based on faulty assumptions. And let's face it, that's the only reason these other attempts to explain it even exist: there's no evidence to point to any alternative except that he did indeed rise.

So there you have it. The ultimate "I told you so!" from the grave. Only in this case, it is spoken by a person who really did rise from the grave, and the "I told you so!" centers around these very words that were spoken at another grave, "I am the Resurrection and the Life." Jesus makes some outlandish claims, but then goes on to show that those claims were true.

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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2007 7:01 pm 
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If this Jesus of Nazareth is not truly Lord, then his teachings are fairly pointless. Oh, they may offer a good way to live, but if there is no resurrection of the body, then what's the point?


Didymus, I think this is the first time where I really didn't understand the meaning of something you posted. What's the point of what? Of living a good life? Wouldn't the point be... because it's good? Or am I totally missing something here?

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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2007 7:20 pm 
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Perhaps so. I'm referring specifically this THIS.

Basically, what it says is, if Jesus Christ was not raised from the dead, then pretty much the whole Christian faith is pointless. Christ himself did not say he came to bring us some new philosophy or morality, but to bring us life. This is why he says that he is "the way, the truth, and the life", and also "the resurrection and the life." This is why we Christians can take hope, because we have a Lord who has promised to raise us from the dead as well. This belief is the central theme of the Christian faith, so that if you remove it, the rest of it becomes pretty much worthless. A faith in a Lord who is no Lord at all is pretty much meaningless. This is what I meant.

I hope that clarifies things a bit.

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PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2007 11:50 pm 
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Oh, okay. You meant that his teachings would be pointless as a religion, not that moral philosophy would be pointless. I r smrt sometimes. ^_^;

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