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Post 25 Oct 2013, 11:51 am

On the political forums, where we were talking about Obamacare, freeman mentioned Ohio:

freeman3 wrote:Governor John Kasich accepts Medicaid expansion for Ohio due to "Christian compassion" for the poor.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/22/us/me ... .html?_r=0
If he acted out of Christian compassion, I applaud him for it. Of course, I am an atheist and I am an atheist because there is no convincing evidence that God exists. Still Jesus Christ's teachings about concerns for others, particularly for those less fortunate, will always have resonance. What is so disappointing is that in this country a devout Christian is more likely to be a Republican, a member of a party not particularly sympathetic to the problems of the poor. Not that I am a big fan of Governor Kasich, but in this instance I believe he acted based on a concern for the poor.


Now, I understand that talking religion in a political thread can cause problems (especially when an atheist suggests that Christians are acting in an unChristian manner). So perhaps we can take the sting out of the pro/anti Obamacare side of things and look at the question of whether compassion for the poor is something that Jesus and/or God held and wanted us to hold.

Perhaps we can start with the post where DF responds to a few pieces of Biblical evidence:

Doctor Fate wrote:
danivon wrote:But hey, what would we non-believers understand about the teachings of Christ, a man who went around healing the sick (and not asking for payment), criticized the rich, helped the poor, said things like:


And, this is YOUR opinion. If you really want to go there, standby.
My 'opinion'? It's what is written the the Bible, in the New Testament. Are you telling me he did not heal the sick, or help the poor? That he never criticised the rich? or said any of the things I quoted below?

Of course, it's a matter of 'opinion' whether the Bible is true or not, and it may or may not be. But if someone claims to believe it is true, it seems odd for them to deny the bits that make them feel uncomfortable.

Doctor Fate wrote:
danivon wrote:"Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves purses which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near, nor moth destroys." (Luke 12 33)


Was this a generic command or was it in regard to one man who claimed to have obeyed the commandments perfectly?
It was not to 'one man'. Luke 12 32 is "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom."

He was talking to his disciples (Luke 12 22). I'll let you decide whether that was intended as something that was for Christians to take heed of, or not.

Doctor Fate wrote:
danivon wrote:"When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and repayment come to you. But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." (Luke 14 12-14)


Does this apply to the government or is it about how the rich should treat the poor voluntarily? If the latter, it is a fine instruction. If the former, then you don't understand the context.
The context is that Jesus was at the house of a Pharisee. The Pharisees were a 'party' - a faction in Judean politics from the times of the Hasmoneans up to the fall of the Second Temple. They opposed the 'High Priest' Sadducees and were popularly supported by many of the lay population.

It is about what people are supposed to do 'voluntarily', but of course it's about what you should do if you want to be rewarded at Judgment. The alternative to reward is, I understand, damnation and oblivion, there's not much of a halfway house as far as this is concerned.

My point is in accord with this - Jesus is saying people should act with compassion for the poor. Even prominent politicians (like a Pharisee was, and Kasich is)

Doctor Fate wrote:
danivon wrote:The young man said to Him, "All these commands I have kept; what am I still lacking?" Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." (Matthew 19 20)


This is the rich young ruler. Review what I said above.
Which 'rich young ruler'? The two bits above refer to the disciples and to a Pharisee. I will assume the first (as it seems you mistook that for Luke 12 33). However, you are quite right to ask for context. So yes, the guy says if I do follow all the Commandments, is that enough, and Jesus says no, sell your possessions, give to the poor and follow me.

And after the man leaves, sad that he's so rich (and presumably doesn't want to lose his possessions in the material world), what does Jesus do?

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19 23-24)

That looks generic to me.

Doctor Fate wrote:
danivon wrote:" Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. ...Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and with you have withheld, cries out against you; and the outcry of the harvesters has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabbath. You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. " (James 5 1-6)


I agree entirely. Again, is this about individuals or the government? Is it a sweeping condemnation of riches, or a sweeping condemnation of greed?
Well, I see now that it is not the words of Christ, but of 'James' (whoever the author is, one of the disciples or another 'James'). But is is an epistle. He doesn't say "Come now, you greedy" though, does he? He says "rich". If you can show that the translations that I am reading that use that word are incorrect (the NIV, KJV, ESV, 1599 Geneva, NASB, NRSV...), then go ahead.

Now, I can see you looking at James 5 3, and interpreting that as greed. Another way of looking at it is Capitalism - you pay labourers to do work, but profit from their efforts, getting rich on their back. Now, some rich people don't do that, but many do (or just inherit wealth from others who do, or just invest money into enterprises that do).

Doctor Fate wrote:
danivon wrote:"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on His left.
Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.'
Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite you in, or naked, and clothe You? And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'
And the King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'
Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.'
Then they themselves will also answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?'
Then He will answer them, saying, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (Matthew 31-46)


Do you mean to say that Jesus taught eternal life is available to the rich if they do these things? Is that His point? Or, was He saying that failing to do these things reveals the true condition of your heart?
Looks like both to me. The people who didn't are on his left, and get damned, don't they? And that happens because of the 'true condition' of their hearts, as revealed by their actions in life.

Doctor Fate wrote:
danivon wrote:Now these seem fairly easy to understand, as with some of the Old Testament stuff like Deuteronomy 15 7 and 26 12, Proverbs 31, Isiah 58 66....


OT was a theocracy--the Law of God was the Law of the land. I'm sure you'd like to see that reinstated.
Well, the OT was not all a theocracy - for quite some time Kings ruled, not Priests, and every now and then a prophet would emerge to point out that these Kings (or others) were failing to uphold the Law and rebuke them.

Now, what happened to the Law of God - does it no longer apply? Do parts of it apply still and others not?

It's not entirely clear to me (mainly because it seems to be a matter of considerable theological debate) where the lines are drawn, and that's why I only really mentioned them in passing - the key areas I was referring to are in the New Testament, because that is clearly applicable to Christianity and Christians in full.
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Post 26 Oct 2013, 11:01 am

danivon wrote:
Doctor Fate wrote:
danivon wrote:But hey, what would we non-believers understand about the teachings of Christ, a man who went around healing the sick (and not asking for payment), criticized the rich, helped the poor, said things like:


And, this is YOUR opinion. If you really want to go there, standby.
My 'opinion'? It's what is written the the Bible, in the New Testament. Are you telling me he did not heal the sick, or help the poor? That he never criticised the rich? or said any of the things I quoted below?


Of course, it's a matter of 'opinion' whether the Bible is true or not, and it may or may not be. But if someone claims to believe it is true, it seems odd for them to deny the bits that make them feel uncomfortable.


Oh brother.

Here's a question for you, was Jesus a rebel, in the sense that He tried to overthrow Rome? Did He command the Roman government to do various things? If so, please cite a passage.

Doctor Fate wrote:
danivon wrote:"Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves purses which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near, nor moth destroys." (Luke 12 33)


Was this a generic command or was it in regard to one man who claimed to have obeyed the commandments perfectly?
It was not to 'one man'. Luke 12 32 is "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom."

He was talking to his disciples (Luke 12 22). I'll let you decide whether that was intended as something that was for Christians to take heed of, or not.


Broader context:

(Lk. 12:13-34 ESV) Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me."
14 But he said to him, "Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?"
15 And he said to them, "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
16 And he told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man produced plentifully,
17 and he thought to himself, 'What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?'
18 And he said, 'I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.
19 And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry."'
20 But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?'
21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God."
22 And he said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on.
23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.
24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!
25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?
27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!
29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried.
30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.
31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
32 "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.
34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.


So, was it a command to not own anything, a command to government to redistribute wealth, or a command to not put worldly riches atop your list of priorities?

Doctor Fate wrote:
danivon wrote:"When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and repayment come to you. But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." (Luke 14 12-14)


Does this apply to the government or is it about how the rich should treat the poor voluntarily? If the latter, it is a fine instruction. If the former, then you don't understand the context.
The context is that Jesus was at the house of a Pharisee. The Pharisees were a 'party' - a faction in Judean politics from the times of the Hasmoneans up to the fall of the Second Temple. They opposed the 'High Priest' Sadducees and were popularly supported by many of the lay population.

It is about what people are supposed to do 'voluntarily', but of course it's about what you should do if you want to be rewarded at Judgment. The alternative to reward is, I understand, damnation and oblivion, there's not much of a halfway house as far as this is concerned.


So, was Jesus teaching salvation by charity? Is that your contention?

My point is in accord with this - Jesus is saying people should act with compassion for the poor. Even prominent politicians (like a Pharisee was, and Kasich is)


Yes, "people" should. The question is whether the government should compel it. Will we all be rewarded because the government seizes wealth and gives it to those it deems deserving? Will I be eternally rewarded for paying taxes--is that what Jesus was teaching?

However, you are quite right to ask for context. So yes, the guy says if I do follow all the Commandments, is that enough, and Jesus says no, sell your possessions, give to the poor and follow me.

And after the man leaves, sad that he's so rich (and presumably doesn't want to lose his possessions in the material world), what does Jesus do?

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19 23-24)

That looks generic to me.


So, it's a sin to be rich? That's what He was teaching?


Well, I see now that it is not the words of Christ, but of 'James' (whoever the author is, one of the disciples or another 'James'). But is is an epistle. He doesn't say "Come now, you greedy" though, does he? He says "rich". If you can show that the translations that I am reading that use that word are incorrect (the NIV, KJV, ESV, 1599 Geneva, NASB, NRSV...), then go ahead.

Now, I can see you looking at James 5 3, and interpreting that as greed. Another way of looking at it is Capitalism - you pay labourers to do work, but profit from their efforts, getting rich on their back. Now, some rich people don't do that, but many do (or just inherit wealth from others who do, or just invest money into enterprises that do).


I really have no desire to debate whether Scripture condemns wealth.

However, that's not Freeman's point, or yours. Ultimately, you want Scripture to promote taxation and redistribution. Jesus said we should pay our taxes. He did not teach that we should promote government largesse. Charity begins at home.
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Post 27 Oct 2013, 3:48 am

Doctor Fate wrote:Here's a question for you, was Jesus a rebel, in the sense that He tried to overthrow Rome? Did He command the Roman government to do various things? If so, please cite a passage.
No. Not sure I suggested he did. I said that he showed compassion for the poor, healed the sick and criticised the rich. Do you deny that?

Doctor Fate wrote:
danivon wrote:
Doctor Fate wrote:Was this a generic command or was it in regard to one man who claimed to have obeyed the commandments perfectly?
It was not to 'one man'. Luke 12 32 is "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom."

He was talking to his disciples (Luke 12 22). I'll let you decide whether that was intended as something that was for Christians to take heed of, or not.


Broader context:

(Lk. 12:13-34 ESV)


So, was it a command to not own anything, a command to government to redistribute wealth, or a command to not put worldly riches atop your list of priorities?
Are those the only three choices? And do you accept my answer to your original question about who Luke 12 33 was addressed to?

In context he is saying more than one thing over the passages

1) to the one person, and to possibly to others (use of 'them' as opposed to 'him') - don't be jealous of your brother, and don't covet possessions for they don't make your life

2) storing up 'treasure' for oneself is foolish

3) god will provide, as he does for the birds and will clothe as he does the grass with lilies, and for us (as we are more important than them) he will also provide 'the kingdom'

4) Sell your possessions, and give to the needy, and store up spiritual riches that will be a treasure in the heavens and cannot be taken away from you

5) Where you keep your riches (ie: whether they are material or spiritual) shows where your heart lies

Looking at that, seems to me it's a command (but isn't about government), or at the very least a strong recommendation if people want to be judged worthy by God.

Doctor Fate wrote:So, was Jesus teaching salvation by charity? Is that your contention?


My point is in accord with this - Jesus is saying people should act with compassion for the poor. Even prominent politicians (like a Pharisee was, and Kasich is)


Yes, "people" should. The question is whether the government should compel it. Will we all be rewarded because the government seizes wealth and gives it to those it deems deserving? Will I be eternally rewarded for paying taxes--is that what Jesus was teaching?
No, that's not what is being said. It's not that the government can provide salvation for everyone by using their taxes to provide for the poor.

But that is not what I was asserting in the first place anyway. It was that Christianity does promote - or even seem to demand if you want salvation - compassion for the poor. That can be expressed in many ways, including working to get government to do more for the poor.

The government does what it does. I wonder, though, whether resenting the poor for being recipients of welfare is seen as OK in the Bible.

If John Kasich wants to say that this compassion leads him to enact the ACA in Ohio, then perhaps you need to discuss that with him.

So, it's a sin to be rich? That's what He was teaching?
See Luke 12:13-34 again - where you keep your riches tells you where your heart is. If you are materially rich, where is your heart? And where should your heart be if you want to go to heaven? People who sin are judged, are they not?

I really have no desire to debate whether Scripture condemns wealth.
Certainly it condemns those who have accrued wealth, those who hoard their wealth, and those who love their wealth. And I don't see it make an exception and point to a rich person who hasn't done at least one of those and is fine. It doesn't condemn 'wealth', so much as 'the wealthy' = 'the rich'

However, that's not Freeman's point, or yours. Ultimately, you want Scripture to promote taxation and redistribution.
No, I do not. I was making the point that it promotes compassion for the poor, and condemns the rich.

Scripture may not 'promote' taxation but it does tell you to pay them. Redistribution is clearly shown in Acts and in some of the above passages as something that should be done (even if not explicitly by or via government).

But my arguments for taxation and redistribution or social provision don't come from the Bible. They come from elsewhere. Other people, who are Christian by confession, see things that do justify those positions in the Bible. I can't speak for them in full, but I can see where some of their ideas come from.

Jesus said we should pay our taxes. He did not teach that we should promote government largesse. Charity begins at home.
Well, remember then that Caesar was an Emperor, a pretty much absolute ruler. In a democracy, the theory is that we are the rulers. So 'we' (regardless of religion) through our representatives determine what taxes are raised and what they are spent on.

But I don't see Jesus condemning government excess. I don't see him condemn the Romans for providing people with bread or grain - the congiarium. Augustus started the practice, and Tiberius (Emperor from AD14 - AD37, so contemporaneous with Jesus) enlarged it. Where is the passage where Christ tells us such state-mandated charity is wrong?

Charity does begin at home, but it does not end there.
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Post 28 Oct 2013, 11:42 pm

Here is an interesting law review article about evolution of thought within the Christian church from the early church up to St. Thomas Aquinas.http://scholarship.law.marquette.edu/cg ... roperty%22
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Post 29 Oct 2013, 9:12 am

danivon wrote:It was that Christianity does promote - or even seem to demand if you want salvation - compassion for the poor. That can be expressed in many ways, including working to get government to do more for the poor.


And, thus ends our debate. It is always futile to debate the Bible with someone who does not believe it.

You've just defined the Gospel as "salvation by works," which is no "gospel" at all.
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Post 29 Oct 2013, 9:57 am

I don't see why belief is necessary for exegesis of the Bible. Granted, a long study of the Bible may give one an advantage in debate over someone who has done less reading, but belief is not necessary to Biblical interpretation.
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Post 29 Oct 2013, 10:48 am

freeman3 wrote:I don't see why belief is necessary for exegesis of the Bible. Granted, a long study of the Bible may give one an advantage in debate over someone who has done less reading, but belief is not necessary to Biblical interpretation.


1 Cor. 2:14
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Post 29 Oct 2013, 11:54 am

Interesting. Of course that interpretation would mean the Bible has no power to convince those who have not been saved, meaning that those who are not saved cannot be saved. Thus, the interpretation that an unsaved man cannot be convinced by the Bible appears to lead to an absurd result and is therefore untenable. Here is an interesting discussion of that verse.

https://www.christiancourier.com/articl ... hians-2-14
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Post 29 Oct 2013, 12:37 pm

Doctor Fate wrote:And, thus ends our debate. It is always futile to debate the Bible with someone who does not believe it.
I can read it though. And unless the translations are not actually into English, I can understand what it is saying well enough to give a view on what it says.

You've known all along that I am an atheist, but engaged at first. I answered your questions, and then your next questions, and suddenly you decide it's futile. If I didn't know any better I'd say you were avoiding the argument.

You've just defined the Gospel as "salvation by works," which is no "gospel" at all.
No, I have not (as a feeling "that can be expressed in many ways, including working to..." is not the same as "works").

Salvation seems to be about both faith and works. Works are meaningless without faith, and faith is meaningless without works. Thus, Matthew 25: 33-46 (which you seem to have dropped from your previous reply for some odd reason) - even those who were otherwise pious and upheld the law, but who did not nothing to help the "least of these" were among the goats, and cast into eternal punishment.

1 Cor. 2:14
Cool - you justify not debating the Bible with someone by citing part of the Bible...

I do not, quite clearly, understand the 'spiritual truth' of the Bible, but that does not mean I cannot understand what it literally says.
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Post 29 Oct 2013, 3:11 pm

freeman3 wrote:Interesting. Of course that interpretation would mean the Bible has no power to convince those who have not been saved, meaning that those who are not saved cannot be saved. Thus, the interpretation that an unsaved man cannot be convinced by the Bible appears to lead to an absurd result and is therefore untenable. Here is an interesting discussion of that verse.

https://www.christiancourier.com/articl ... hians-2-14


No, it simply means that apart from a work of the Spirit, a person does not have the capacity to be convinced by the truths of Scripture, whether or not they are apprehended. Many liberal scholars spend their entire lives studying the Bible and they have some insights into it because of their knowledge of Greek, Hebrew, and/or Aramaic. However, those insights are not salvific and are ultimately futile.
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Post 29 Oct 2013, 3:17 pm

danivon wrote:
Doctor Fate wrote:And, thus ends our debate. It is always futile to debate the Bible with someone who does not believe it.
I can read it though. And unless the translations are not actually into English, I can understand what it is saying well enough to give a view on what it says.

You've known all along that I am an atheist, but engaged at first. I answered your questions, and then your next questions, and suddenly you decide it's futile. If I didn't know any better I'd say you were avoiding the argument.


This was borne out of a statement from Freeman in which he said there was no evidence of God existing. It has morphed into this--and you're right, I've no interest in engaging two professing atheists about their insights into what Jesus said.

You've just defined the Gospel as "salvation by works," which is no "gospel" at all.
No, I have not (as a feeling "that can be expressed in many ways, including working to..." is not the same as "works").

Salvation seems to be about both faith and works. Works are meaningless without faith, and faith is meaningless without works.


Faith cannot help but engage in works; all the works in the world cannot fan into flame a faith that is not created by the Holy Spirit. Nicodemus, the teacher of Israel, goes to Jesus at night. He's curious about the works he's seen Jesus do. Jesus does not tell him to "get religion," give money away, or take care of the poor. He tells Nicodemus that he "must be born again." He describes that as a work of the Spirit, Whom He compares to the wind because His work cannot be predicted or controlled by our actions.

I do not, quite clearly, understand the 'spiritual truth' of the Bible, but that does not mean I cannot understand what it literally says.


True, but the Gospel is about what Jesus accomplished, not about anything we can do.
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Post 29 Oct 2013, 3:49 pm

Doctor Fate wrote: Nicodemus, the teacher of Israel, goes to Jesus at night. He's curious about the works he's seen Jesus do. Jesus does not tell him to "get religion," give money away, or take care of the poor. He tells Nicodemus that he "must be born again." He describes that as a work of the Spirit, Whom He compares to the wind because His work cannot be predicted or controlled by our actions.
John 3 1-15 you mean. Jesus is saying Nicodemus can't be saved unless he's born again. Of course, in doing so he would be "getting religion".. However, that's just what he says to one person. And it does not preclude there being other things that Nicodemus may need to do.

What Jesus says at Judgement (Matthew 25 33-46) is to everyone: "all the nations" are gathered, and he clearly marks out the sheep/goats by what they have or have not done, not by whether they are born again or believe in Christ.

I don't think it's all that hard to understand, really. If you really do have faith, and follow the will of God, you'd be doing those acts of faith - they would be a natural extension of the same faith. Clearly the acts without the faith are not enough, you need to be 'born of water and the Spirit' in order for those acts to have meaning.

But faith alone is not enough - because faith that does not move one to act is not a very strong faith, is it?

Doctor Fate wrote:
I do not, quite clearly, understand the 'spiritual truth' of the Bible, but that does not mean I cannot understand what it literally says.


True, but the Gospel is about what Jesus accomplished, not about anything we can do.
So what about the parts where Jesus says what we can do? Or where he says what will happen if we do/do not do certain things?
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Post 29 Oct 2013, 4:07 pm

danivon wrote:
Doctor Fate wrote: Nicodemus, the teacher of Israel, goes to Jesus at night. He's curious about the works he's seen Jesus do. Jesus does not tell him to "get religion," give money away, or take care of the poor. He tells Nicodemus that he "must be born again." He describes that as a work of the Spirit, Whom He compares to the wind because His work cannot be predicted or controlled by our actions.
John 3 1-15 you mean. Jesus is saying Nicodemus can't be saved unless he's born again. Of course, in doing so he would be "getting religion".. However, that's just what he says to one person. And it does not preclude there being other things that Nicodemus may need to do.

What Jesus says at Judgement (Matthew 25 33-46) is to everyone: "all the nations" are gathered, and he clearly marks out the sheep/goats by what they have or have not done, not by whether they are born again or believe in Christ.

I don't think it's all that hard to understand, really. If you really do have faith, and follow the will of God, you'd be doing those acts of faith - they would be a natural extension of the same faith. Clearly the acts without the faith are not enough, you need to be 'born of water and the Spirit' in order for those acts to have meaning.

But faith alone is not enough - because faith that does not move one to act is not a very strong faith, is it?

Doctor Fate wrote:
I do not, quite clearly, understand the 'spiritual truth' of the Bible, but that does not mean I cannot understand what it literally says.


True, but the Gospel is about what Jesus accomplished, not about anything we can do.
So what about the parts where Jesus says what we can do? Or where he says what will happen if we do/do not do certain things?


Gospel = "good news."

Good news is not: "try harder," "be better," or "do more."

When Jesus said, "It is finished," He was not referring to His death, but His work--to redeem sinners.

I'm unsubscribing and wish you well.
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Post 29 Oct 2013, 5:09 pm

Doctor Fate wrote:Gospel = "good news."

Good news is not: "try harder," "be better," or "do more."
Oh, the semantic argument...

Yes, it's good news that we can be saved. That doesn't mean it's going to be easy.

You see it's can be saved, not will. It's not unconditional, is it? And through the Gospel, Jesus gives various indications of what people should do to be saved, or what things will keep them from being saved. I wasn't aware that you could pick and choose from them and just do the ones you like. So you can't ignore Matthew 25:33-46 in preference to John 3:16 -- they both apply.

When Jesus said, "It is finished," He was not referring to His death, but His work--to redeem sinners.
His work was over, but ours was just beginning. He redeemed sinners, but that doesn't mean that the sinners can keep sinning, does it.

Sins are not just evil acts, they are choosing not to carry out acts of good.
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Post 04 Nov 2013, 12:40 pm

RUFFHAUS 8 wrote:The suggestion that conservatives are bad Christians because they do not support Socialism is a pathetically weak debate, and a particularly mean spirited attack.
And it is not an argument that I have made. I was asking if compassion for the poor was part of Christianity, and cited examples from the Bible. DF decided it was about Socialism or Obamacare - and so it seems have you. It was not - I explicitly stated at the outset that I wanted to move away from that.

Oddly, the original mention was about a conservative - well, Republican - politician citing Christian compassion for the poor. As I have said before, if fellow conservative Christians take issue with his interpretation of that to include rolling out the ACA in Ohio, I suggest you take it up with him, not me. I started the thread on the more general topic.

While I expect this level of ignorance in the political forums, it seems contrary to the creation of this forum, specifically the request for tolerance. It's rather repugnant to see someone interpreting a faith which they openly do not believe in.
So, we have a forum to talk about religion, but we are not allowed to discuss a religion which we do not ourselves believe in?

Tolerance goes two ways. calling things 'repugnant' and 'beneath contempt' is hardly tolerant. If I didn't know better, I'd suggest that it was simply a way of trying to shut down debate.

I guess it needs to be explained that I find it beneath contempt that Danivon chastises Christians for not following his own interpretations of a man that he considers to be a charlatan, knowing that Christians believe him to be God.
Putting thoughts into my own head is something I have had to 'tolerate' from the likes of you and DF here. My 'interpretation' is based on the words of the Bible, mainly from the Gospels.

I don't consider Jesus to be a charlatan. I'm not 100% he existed. My personal belief is that a lot of his actual beliefs and words have been twisted and manipulated by others, people who never met him in life (starting with Paul, who allegedly met him post-Resurrection).

But I don't see you argue the same thing with Sass, who is clearly not a Muslim and has in another thread, questioned the early history and accuracy of Islam. Perhaps it is an oversight, but it does raise a question in my mind:

Is it also 'beyond contempt' to question whether Muslims are actually interpreting the message of Mohammed accurately?

Apparently it also bears pointing out that while Jesus certainly encouraged us to have 'compassion for the poor' (and not only the poor, but for all man), he did not tell us to create a massively inefficient, corrupt, and powerful government to do it for us.
So, you accept my actual premise then. That Christ had, and encouraged, compassion for the poor (and for others, I mentioned the sick). If you accept that he criticised the rich, then (despite your invective and rhetoric), you are agreeing with me, and my 'repugnant' interpretation.

Just so it's clear, this is where I started: "So perhaps we can take the sting out of the pro/anti Obamacare side of things and look at the question of whether compassion for the poor is something that Jesus and/or God held and wanted us to hold."

If that offends you, not sure what I can say.

Governments run on power, not compassion. Feeding them more money for the care of the poor is a fool's dream.
This is your opinion. It's also moving away from Philosophical or Religious discussion to politics.

Charity on the other hand can take many forms, and there are many useful tools to assess the efficiency of the charities which you give. Charity and compassion for the poor and sick is not necessarily measured in financial terms, and it's rather telling that the people trying to sap and spread around your wealth can only make this equation.
Indeed it can. but very often it turns out that the most effective means of charity is through financial, or at least material, assistance.

It also bears pointing out that most people with faith do not believe themselves to be 'Good Christians' because we understand that we all sin, we are all imperfect, and we all need salvation. These are things that you clearly do not understand or accept. I do not believe myself a better man than you because of my faith. It is not my place to judge such things. My faith will save me, and I encourage others to find salvation as well.
Whether I accept something, by the way, does not have bearing on whether I understand it. Salvation is not that bizarre a concept, and neither is faith.

But no, many Christians do not consider themselves to be 'Good' (although the assertion that your faith will save you does suggest that you think yourself 'good enough'), but the point is that from the Bible we are supposed to have an idea about what a 'Good Christian' is, how they act and in that way, how individual Christians can move in that direction - how to be 'Better Christians'.

In that sense, I am still confused as to why Matthew 25: 33-46 seems to be such a hang-up.

You have been given the choice, and rejected it. While I hope that one day you will reconsider, it is not my task to convince you that you are wrong.
Indeed not. I have not invited you to, either. But It is interesting that rather than engage with the substance of what I have actually written on the thread, you have preferred primarily to take the twin pronged approach of arguing with what you think I think, and to be hugely offended by it all. I am not responsible for you taking umbrage at your own imaginings.