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  1. #31
    Junior Member tombo's Avatar
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    I believe in God, and I've tried reading the bible (and the koran), but I think my main problem with the Bible is the parts of the Old Testament where God orders the Israelites to do things such as massacre towns, sparing only the virgin women. I'm not judging the Israelites, I know they were barbaric times, I just can't believe that God would say those words - God would want as many people saved as possible. Killing everyone expect the young women is what men want, not what God wants. I could follow the Bible in a liberal, progressive way, taking the main message while seeing the brutal parts as being written through the prism of their time. But I just can't believe, as literalist believers do, that God actually said those words.

    When I was "struggling" with these things I talked to a lot of evangelical Christians, read lots of books and websites, but never came across a defence of these parts that convinced me. Heard defenses ranging from, God was talking down to them on their level, they were merciful, rescuing people they didn't have to rescue, the places they wipe out were unredeemably evil, etc. I know they were no worse than any other people of their time but the Bible lifts them up as being personally instructed by God.

    Basically the whole Old Testament just doesn't feel inspired by God to me. It feels too much a product of it's time and place as much as Chinese or Indian myth does. It doesn't feel like something that's meant to be the universal story of God all humanity should read. Neither does the New, given the amount of time it spends worrying about men's haircuts.

  2. #32
    Were You There? Michael P's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iron_Legion87 View Post
    Again, God and Jesus are one in the same. Jesus is God's son, but essentially Jesus is God in human form. So stuff that God said was immoral in the OT still stands.
    A, "one and the same". B., dodgy metaphysics of the Trinity aside, Jesus the Son doesn't even exist prior to the New Testament, and certainly wasn't anywhere in the conception of God held by the people who wrote the Old Testament, so imposing that structure on it is questionable at best. C., God doesn't say it, Moses does while handing down the Laws. D., said handing down is very specific that (i) said Laws apply to the Jewish people, (ii) they're referring specifically to the action, not to the people, the action (iii) must be witnessed by at least two people who tell the "guilty" to stop but they don't in order to be prosecuted. There is absolutely nothing in there about persecuting people or denying them basic civil rights because of the kind of sex they have.

    (As a bonus addition to your original post, Romans was written by Paul, who never met Jesus, and brought his own stable of issues to his evangelism.)

    And that doesn't even get into the questionable translation of "abomination".

    Reading the Bible is insufficient; you also have to understand what the Bible is and how it works.
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  3. #33
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    I feel like the Bible really has to be understood in the context of the period in which it was written. Israel then as now was a small nation surrounded by neighbors many times its size and their overriding concern was always to keep up a high enough birthrate so that there would be enough soldiers to defend the country against invaders, and with that in mind the Bible's overriding preoccupation with sex for procreation over recreation is understandable. What interest would the God of the Old Testament have in prohibiting homosexuality among Egyptians, Persians, or Greeks? That would just mean that people of those nations would be spending less time fooling around in the gymnasium and more time pumping out babies that would in turn grow up and attack His chosen people.

  4. #34
    Were You There? Michael P's Avatar
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    If I seem hostile, by the way, it's because I am. I really hate the post-'80s, politically motivated hogwash that gets passed around as "Biblical" these days because it suits the reactionary agenda. I'm not even that religious, I just hate lying.
    "It's not whether you win or lose, it's whether I win or lose." - Peter David, on life

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  5. #35
    Astonishing Member David Walton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spike-X View Post
    I've been wanting to read the one where Jesus talks about gay people and abortion, but I just can't find it anywhere.
    Just be persistent. You won't find that elusive passage, but it couldn't hurt to read the Bible several times through. Well, I guess theoretically it could, but I don't see you as the kind of person who's going to persecute anyone because of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by tombo View Post
    I believe in God, and I've tried reading the bible (and the koran), but I think my main problem with the Bible is the parts of the Old Testament where God orders the Israelites to do things such as massacre towns, sparing only the virgin women. I'm not judging the Israelites, I know they were barbaric times, I just can't believe that God would say those words - God would want as many people saved as possible. Killing everyone expect the young women is what men want, not what God wants. I could follow the Bible in a liberal, progressive way, taking the main message while seeing the brutal parts as being written through the prism of their time. But I just can't believe, as literalist believers do, that God actually said those words.

    When I was "struggling" with these things I talked to a lot of evangelical Christians, read lots of books and websites, but never came across a defence of these parts that convinced me. Heard defenses ranging from, God was talking down to them on their level, they were merciful, rescuing people they didn't have to rescue, the places they wipe out were unredeemably evil, etc. I know they were no worse than any other people of their time but the Bible lifts them up as being personally instructed by God.

    Basically the whole Old Testament just doesn't feel inspired by God to me. It feels too much a product of it's time and place as much as Chinese or Indian myth does. It doesn't feel like something that's meant to be the universal story of God all humanity should read. Neither does the New, given the amount of time it spends worrying about men's haircuts.
    I find a lot of wisdom in what you're saying. I personally believe the Bible is both inspired and flawed, with my approach largely based on a chapter from C.S. Lewis' book On the Psalms entitled "On Scripture."

    Here's what I feel are some relevant excerpts:

    Quote Originally Posted by C S LEWIS
    The human qualities of the raw materials show through. Naivete, error, contradiction, even (as in the cursing psalms) wickedness are not removed. The total result is not 'the Word of God' in the sense that every passage, in itself, gives impeccable science or history. It carries the Word of God; and we (under grace, with attention to interpreters wiser than ourselves, and with the use of such intelligence and learning as we may have) receive that word from it not by using it as an encycylopedia or an encylical but by steeping ourselves in its tone or temper and so learning its overall message.
    Quote Originally Posted by C S LEWIS
    ...Thus on three levels, in appropriate degrees, we meet the same refusal of what we might have thought best for us—in the Word Himself, in the Apostle of the Gentiles, in Scripture as a whole. Since this is what God has done, this, we must conclude, was best. It may be that what we should have liked would have been fatal to us if granted. It may be indispensable that Our Lord’s teaching, by that elusiveness (to our systematizing intellect), should demand a response from the whole man, should make it clear that there is no question of learning a subject but of steeping ourselves in a Personality, acquiring a new outlook and temper, breathing a new atmosphere, suffering Him, in His own way, to rebuild in us the defaced image of Himself. So in St. Paul. Perhaps the sort of works I should wish him to have written would have been useless. The crabbedness, the appearance of inconsequence and even sophistry, the turbulent mixture of petty detail, personal complaint, practical advice, and lyrical rapture, finally let through what matters more than ideas—a whole Christian life in operation—better say, Christ Himself operating in a man’s life. And in the same way, the value of the Old Testament may be dependent on what seems its imperfection. It may repel one use in order that we may be forced to use it another way—to find the Word in it, not without repeated and leisurely reading nor without discriminations made by our conscience and critical faculties, to re-live, while we read, the whole Jewish experience of God’s gradual and graded self-revelation, to feel the very contentions between the Word and the human material through which it works. For here again, it is our total response that has to be elicited.
    Last edited by David Walton; 09-24-2015 at 09:05 AM.

  6. #36
    Notorious M.O.S. Kuwagaton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael P View Post
    If I seem hostile, by the way, it's because I am. I really hate the post-'80s, politically motivated hogwash that gets passed around as "Biblical" these days because it suits the reactionary agenda. I'm not even that religious, I just hate lying.


    I see. I guess I could pm you on why I don't think any of that refutes what the other poster says in what you quoted, but that would be if you actually want. I never find much to debating (apologetics is a neat way to study, though) and think you would be better off sitting down in person with someone with a degree in theology.

  7. #37
    Were You There? Michael P's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kuwagaton View Post
    I see. I guess I could pm you on why I don't think any of that refutes what the other poster says in what you quoted, but that would be if you actually want.
    It refutes it because fundamentalist Christianity has all of the words and none of the context. The reading is flawed at its core.

    I never find much to debating (apologetics is a neat way to study, though) and think you would be better off sitting down in person with someone with a degree in theology.
    Already did, multiple times, over the first eighteen years of my life. The modern fundamentalist reading of the Bible is theologically unsound from stem to stern, full stop.
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  8. #38
    Notorious M.O.S. Kuwagaton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tombo View Post

    Basically the whole Old Testament just doesn't feel inspired by God to me. It feels too much a product of it's time and place as much as Chinese or Indian myth does. It doesn't feel like something that's meant to be the universal story of God all humanity should read. Neither does the New, given the amount of time it spends worrying about men's haircuts.
    It's all about context, and Old Testament draws much on history. What have you read that really gets to you? Also, what's that about haircuts?
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael P View Post
    It refutes it because fundamentalist Christianity has all of the words and none of the context. The reading is flawed at its core.



    Already did, multiple times, over the first eighteen years of my life. The modern fundamentalist reading of the Bible is theologically unsound from stem to stern, full stop.
    Those aren't points I see illustrated in your other post. I'd see about meeting with someone you trust and respect now that you're older.

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Knight1047 View Post
    I would like to suggest you read John, the last of the four gospels.
    Any particular reason that gospel? I do remember reading more of one gospel than the other when the bible was required reading. But that's been almost 20 years now. I've read some passages and good bit of some books over the years since then.

    Back when it was required reading and it was sacred texts, and I read it as that because my parents told me they were, because their church told them they were, I had to find the things that I liked reading, in story or narrative. And some authors of the bible were better writers or poets than others. Now I tend to read it as I do all fiction, for the story being told. It doesn't mean that there cannot be hidden gems in it that are good qualities to live by or apply to oneself. But I don't see it as a non-fiction handbook on living life.

    It also helps that I've gotten to where I personally don't need religion to read the bible. I can separate the two, which a lot of people find impossible. And that came from almost 20 years of being mad at god for what some religions do. So yeah at one time I was those people that come in a conversation with nothing other than hatred. But now, seeing the bible as I do all other fiction, I actually find it more interesting than I did as a scared text. I guess at my end on this world I will find out if I am right or not. :-)

  10. #40
    Junior Member tombo's Avatar
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    For me it's the narrow scope of the Old Testament an the idea of a chosen people, I can't believe that the story of God intended to be universally read by all humanity, spends it's entire first half focused on one violent tribe. The ultimate holy book for humanity shoul start with prophets all over, India, Inuit, China, not just the middle east. I know Christians say this shows how God isn't perfect and works through sloppy people, but the focus on Israel doesn't seems lovably sloppy and human to me, just exclusionary.

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by tombo View Post
    I believe in God, and I've tried reading the bible (and the koran), but I think my main problem with the Bible is the parts of the Old Testament where God orders the Israelites to do things such as massacre towns, sparing only the virgin women. I'm not judging the Israelites, I know they were barbaric times, I just can't believe that God would say those words - God would want as many people saved as possible. Killing everyone expect the young women is what men want, not what God wants. I could follow the Bible in a liberal, progressive way, taking the main message while seeing the brutal parts as being written through the prism of their time. But I just can't believe, as literalist believers do, that God actually said those words.

    When I was "struggling" with these things I talked to a lot of evangelical Christians, read lots of books and websites, but never came across a defence of these parts that convinced me. Heard defenses ranging from, God was talking down to them on their level, they were merciful, rescuing people they didn't have to rescue, the places they wipe out were unredeemably evil, etc. I know they were no worse than any other people of their time but the Bible lifts them up as being personally instructed by God.

    Basically the whole Old Testament just doesn't feel inspired by God to me. It feels too much a product of it's time and place as much as Chinese or Indian myth does. It doesn't feel like something that's meant to be the universal story of God all humanity should read. Neither does the New, given the amount of time it spends worrying about men's haircuts.
    If it makes you feel any better, the history in the Bible is almost certainly a fabrication nearly all the way through. The Israelites were in the grand scheme of things a tiny and rather insignificant nation, and they barely rate a mention in most of the historical records produced by neighboring civilizations. During most of the period in which the Bible was actually written they were constantly under attack from foreign powers, and you can imagine that the authors were motivated to write an account of their people's history not just as one of perpetual victimhood, but of Israelites being strong and mighty conquerors in their own right. The Bible is, in its own way, a form of escapist fantasy just like a lot of what you might read today.

    In fact, a lot of the Old Testament makes way more sense if you see Yahweh as the God of Israel waging some battle for supremacy against the gods of other nations, exhorting his people to defeat them in battle and doing deeds to glorify him over his rivals. Early Judaism was still in the process of transitioning to fully monotheistic belief, so you see a lot of that archaic polytheistic flavor of a grand struggle between deities being waged in the mortal world, which in turn has filtered down to world view a lot of modern adherents of Abrahamic religions still hold.
    Last edited by PwrdOn; 09-24-2015 at 10:02 AM.

  12. #42
    Notorious M.O.S. Kuwagaton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bloodofthegods View Post
    Any particular reason that gospel? I do remember reading more of one gospel than the other when the bible was required reading. But that's been almost 20 years now. I've read some passages and good bit of some books over the years since then.

    Back when it was required reading and it was sacred texts, and I read it as that because my parents told me they were, because their church told them they were, I had to find the things that I liked reading, in story or narrative. And some authors of the bible were better writers or poets than others. Now I tend to read it as I do all fiction, for the story being told. It doesn't mean that there cannot be hidden gems in it that are good qualities to live by or apply to oneself. But I don't see it as a non-fiction handbook on living life.

    It also helps that I've gotten to where I personally don't need religion to read the bible. I can separate the two, which a lot of people find impossible. And that came from almost 20 years of being mad at god for what some religions do. So yeah at one time I was those people that come in a conversation with nothing other than hatred. But now, seeing the bible as I do all other fiction, I actually find it more interesting than I did as a scared text. I guess at my end on this world I will find out if I am right or not. :-)
    Well, "religion" you don't need because that's really a man made concept. This applies to the idea of things that aren't linked back to what is actually said in scripture. Like, say, reading john a lot, or reading out of obligation period. I can certainly imagine not being too enthused if at one point it was "required reading" from parents or someone else. And to a degree I can understand selecting what you read, because again, it's not obligation. We're called to interpersonal relationships with God and the word is literally what it says.

    Though if what it says to you is "fiction" that's really trying to make it nothing but. Again, it's not a handbook or textbook, but it does require faith.

    Quote Originally Posted by tombo View Post
    For me it's the narrow scope of the Old Testament an the idea of a chosen people, I can't believe that the story of God intended to be universally read by all humanity, spends it's entire first half focused on one violent tribe. The ultimate holy book for humanity shoul start with prophets all over, India, Inuit, China, not just the middle east. I know Christians say this shows how God isn't perfect and works through sloppy people, but the focus on Israel doesn't seems lovably sloppy and human to me, just exclusionary.
    I mean like, sit down with the bible and see what you find. For example, Deuteronomy 32:4 , Job 36:4, and roughly all other scripture you will find on the matter say God and His ways are perfect, and that he doesn't lie. So if someone is claiming that He isn't perfect, they are absolutely contradicting the bible. This is pretty safe to say, a situation that should be avoided.

    If you can, see about finding someone locally with a degree in theology. And if you get to a bible, crack open Luke 14 and start at verse 15. This parable discusses the latter part of your point, and I'd like to hear from you on it.

  13. #43
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    You know, I've never read the Bible all the way through. I need to get around to that with the King James Version, because I prefer the poetic language. I agree with blood, you don't need religion to enjoy the writing.

  14. #44
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    "For the spirit that God hath bequeath us is not one of fear and timidity, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind." - 2 Timothy, 1:7

  15. #45
    Jesus Christ, redeemer! The Whovian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Zolalnadia View Post
    Bible quizzing this year is focused Galations Ephesians, Philipeans, Collossians and Philemon.

    So yah, that's what I have been reading.
    Excellent. I just finished reading some of those
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