Another country heard from

Thomas, you wrote, ” I do believe there was a man named Jesus who grew up in Nazareth.”

I don’t. I’ve only recently come to this conclusion after I read this:

http://rosarubicondior.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-historical-evidence-for-jesus.html

Good stuff, though, even if he was a myth… If only people read the Jefferson Bible instead of the King James version.

Another Country

Thank you, Another Country. The link is excellent and I think we are in agreement that there is good stuff in the New Testament whether or not Jesus put on his sandals one foot at a time or if he existed. My fundamentalist friend, Michael, thinks there is good stuff also; I have asked him twice which was more important believing Jesus was the way to heaven or living a good life. He has not answered either time which leads me to believe he thinks believing is more important than understanding or doing.
I tend to believe there was a man who got it right who lived about the time attributed to Jesus and that a number of people heard him and realized he was onto something. The disciples became, if not already, itinerant preachers. They tried to get people to understand the message and as they traveled around they embellished the story creating the myth that is the New Testament. Folks who use their minds, however they got them, can see the beauty of the message of loving everyone and try to bring it into their own lives. Followers, dare I say sheep, pick up the easy way which was probably not part of the original message and can go to bed comforted every night because they have accepted Jesus as their savior and whatever they did during the day is less important. I feel quite sure that the person who understood loving neighbors and enemies as stated directly and through the parables never said he was the way into heaven as that notion is not at all loving

Michael dialogue continued (3)

Thomas: Michael, you wrote “He (God) said He created nature and all creation that would cause men to ask questions and search for who made all of this.” I think you are making my case. You are saying God made creation so we would think. Beautiful. My point exactly. Ask questions; ask questions about creation, who created all of this. YES! That is spot on. And then along comes Satan and he doesn’t want us to think about God’s creation, he wants us to focus on his words.
I’m going to get off the Satan bandwagon for a moment and say something real. The Bible was written by men who were doing exactly what you say God wanted them and us to do, to ask questions. The Bible is their answer (which, if you believe in Satan, could have been influenced by him), the answer of men who knew so much less about the world than we know today. I think we, those of us living today, should do exactly what you say, “ask questions and search for who made all of this.”

Michael: Oh, I think I am seeing what you are saying now.  Are you saying we should more trust his creation (all that we see and experience) rather than this book containing his “supposed” words?
Thomas: Yes.
Michael: Well, we know from Josephus and other non Biblical sources that Jesus really existed and was gathering lots of attention from his miracles and from the fact He claimed to be God.

Thomas: There are those who dispute the existence of Jesus but I’m not one of them. I do believe there was a man named Jesus who grew up in Nazareth. I believe he was one of the great, perhaps the greatest, philosophers of living using philosophy and psychology. That he wasn’t born in December seems unimportant unless you are an astrologer. That miracles were added to his story by those who wrote his story is, I feel, unfortunate as it makes a lot of people skeptical. His teaching of love, his parables, great quotes, that when he spoke of the Ten Commandments he left out the first three are all believable to me. Why anyone who understands life would need the miracles to believe in his wisdom is beyond my comprehension.

Michael: If all we look at is creation for evidence of God, we would never know about Jesus’ claims to be God.

Thomas: You are saying God’s creation is not evidence enough for you.

Michael: Generations until the end of the world would never read or know about Jesus.

Thomas: Have you heard of Homer? Seven hundred years before Jesus he wrote the Iliad with some interesting quotes like “The glorious gifts of the gods are not to be cast aside.” I think Jesus’ teachings would have survived until now if he had written them down without the miracles, as have Homer’s.

Michael:  I think your way is saying that Jesus is not the only way to Heaven and that there is no real “way” to Heaven, so we all should just love each other because we will be together anyway forever.  Is that what you are saying?

Thomas: You’ve got a lot packed into that question. First, I don’t believe Jesus said he was god or he was the only way into Heaven because that would be contrary to all the rest of his teaching. It’s the kind of thing Satan, if you believe in Satan, would have gotten the disciples to write. I think that and the miracles were embellishments to the real story of Jesus life and teachings. If he said anything like “I am the way” his meaning would have been “my teaching is the way, love thy neighbor, don’t have enemies, etc.” Some people have taken his meaning to be “believing in me is more important than living a good life.” That is the kind of thing Satan would love.
When you say “we all should just love each other” I find myself questioning your definition of love in this context. Loving everyone is not the same as loving family members. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out how that works, how do I love someone who kills, someone who does stupid things, someone who has stupid thoughts? I think I have figured out how I can do that and it is working out pretty well for me. You’ve probably read my essay on the website on love so you may understand what I’m talking about.

Michael: There is no real basis for that way of thinking and there are no specifics or details.  You would just be hoping.  Jesus lays out a real plan and it is recorded in the Bible.  I don’t see how Satan could benefit by focusing on Jesus so much in the Bible.
Thomas: Not hoping, Michael, just living my life based on learning and thinking, learning from reading what others have thought, learning from experience, learning from conversations like ours and using the gifts I find I have in this life—my senses and my mind.

What do you think Jesus “real plan” is? Is it 1) to love neighbors, enemies, everyone or is it 2) to believe he is God. There is pretty good plan for living laid out in the New Testament. We could say one by Jesus and another (2) by Satan, if we believed in Satan.

Dialogue with Michael part 2

Michael: Your premise is correct in that Satan doesn’t have God’s power.  Remember, Satan was created by God and can only do what God allows him to do.  God has allowed false teachings, but He also has allowed true teachings.  People have difficulty deciding what is the true teaching.  The prophecies of the Messiah and Jesus Christ fulfilling them (plus the genealogy in Matthew) is the clear difference between the truth and false teachings.  No other religion has anything close to this.
Thomas: Satan was created by God? That is a new thought for me and I appreciate you introducing it. Can you tell me the reference for this? This doesn’t seem to go with anything I have read in the Bible. It is an interesting thought though.
Michael: I wont quote the Bible since you will just say Satan wrote it,  God implies creator,  He was not created.  He lives outside of his creation and has the power to create.  You yourself said Satan can’t create therefore he could not be the creator.  That makes him a created being like you and me.  He is not equal to God
Thomas: Quoting the Bible is fine, I do it frequently. The notion that Satan wrote the Bible is simply a logical argument based on what many who believe there is a Satan believe his powers and motives to be and taking that belief in an analysis of some part of the Bible. I don’t believe in Satan but the concept is fascinating to me. My notion of Satan and God are that they both existed before the creation of Earth kind of like brothers, and that when God created earth Satan was jealous.
I agree with all you write except “That makes him a created being like you and me.” I’m trying to work this through. First, I’m dropping “like you and me” because you and I certainly don’t have the powers attributed to Satan. (Let me know if I’m wrong in this.) As for the thought that God created Satan, I’m not aware of anything in the Bible (I will not refute anything you quote from the Bible by saying Satan wrote it.) so I’d be happy to know where you have gotten that thought. The second question that raises is why. Why did God create Satan?

Michael: God created angels with Lucifer as most beautiful and highest position.  Apparently God gave them free will like he did man.  Lucifer wanted to be worshiped like God and rebelled along with a third of the angels.  These are Satan and demons.  They don live in Hell yet as they roam Earth deceiving and tempting.  God calls him the prince of this world.  So he was created like we were and willful sin has wrecked this world.  Calvinists believe man has no free will and that God planned it exactly this way but I believe he gave us free will to chose to love and follow him and we are the ones messing up the world

Thomas: Please tell me the source of this information. I’m pretty sure it’s not in the Bible but I might have missed something.

Michael: It’s easier just to use this link I found rather than mention them myself.  http://baptistbulletin.org/?p=13559

Thomas: That link is quite clear. Thank you. I’ve just started looking up the passages referenced and will give all this more thought. Perhaps you can help me with Ezekiel 28: 12-15. Is Tyrus an alias of Satan? It seems like Tyrus is a human rather than an angel. This may be where I have trouble following the story that God created Satan. I don’t think it says anything like that in the Bible unless you change some names and/or make some assumptions. If the Bible is God’s word, it seems we ought to pretty much stick with his words.
Michael: God changed Lucifer to Satan, Saul to Paul, Abram to Abraham because they had changed character and he gave them new names that suited their new character good or bad.  He also spoke of cities as if they were a person like Sodom and Babylon.  Yes Tyrus went from a city that traded Jews into slavery into Antichrist/Satan.  Confusing  but not more than parables which Jesus did on purpose.

Thomas: Which of the three theories about when Satan’s sinning occurred do you believe? If I understand the link, this theory about Satan is just a theory. If the Bible is God’s word, why does man today have to make up theories about it? The following quote from the web site you sent me seems to sums up the theories:“So it would seem best to believe that Satan’s sinning occurred after the six days of creation but before man fell into sin, possibly in just a matter of days.” Are you comfortable with this? (emphasis mine)

Michael: I believe in a young earth.  I don’t believe in the gap theory or macro evolution.  There are dinosaur fossils but not missing link fossils.  So desperate are the evolutionists they came up with the craziest theory ever called punctuated equilibrium which means the evolutionary change is rapid and sudden instead of slow and steady.  Sounds like creation to me.
God does make a point to say His ways are not our ways.  The important parts of the Bible, the gospel of Christ, are very simple to understand. Don’t get caught up in doctrinal arguments. Salvation through Christ is what it is about and none of my words will ever convince you.  Read Matthew mark Luke and john ask God to convince you of the real truth.

Thomas: I commend you an saying “I believe”. No one can argue with a person’s belief because it is personal, it is yours just as other people’s beliefs are theirs. I think we get in trouble when we get belief and knowledge mixed up.

[stay tuned, this dialogue goes on]