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A Case for Christ





Haiku2016
OK. I know I'm kinda sticking my head out here and if things get out of hand, I'm sure the moderators will lock this down. I want to trial my rationale and beliefs here with you guys. I think the people here are generally mature and smart and I haven't come across anything posted here that has made be squirm or flinch.

The thing is this: I became a Christian about 10 years ago and while, on the one hand, I am fully committed as a Christian, on the other hand, I don't agree with some of the fundamental doctrines associated with Christianity. So, I would like to present my arguments here for general feedback and responses.

Let's start with some basic ideas:
1. Christians believe there is only 1 God and He is the creator of all things.
2. Christians also believe that God loves us, especially the sinners, and longs to bring us back into a relationship with Him.
3. Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that we cannot go to Heaven unless we follow Him.

Let's start with the first two ideas:
If there is only 1 God and He loves us, it seems to me that you DON'T have to be a Christian to go to Heaven. I know this seems to contradict idea 3 but bear with me. We'll get to idea 3 later and you will see that I don't see it the way most Christians do. In the Bible, God had a relationship with Adam and Eve but the Jewish people were not created until Abraham. So, either we are all "Jewish" in the sense that we are descendants of Adam and Eve, or God loves us whether or not we are Jewish (or Christians or Muslim). Looking at the three faiths (Jusdaism/Christianity/Islam), if they all pray to the same God, then again, you don't have to be a Christian to go to Heaven. Finally, Jesus specifically said that He came to save the Gentiles. So, if God did not require you to be a Jew to be saved, why would He require you to be a Christian? In any case, Jesus did not ask his followers to build churches, write the Bible nor create a new religion. He simply asked that his message be spread, and the message is simply the Good News, that Jesus has come and He has saved the world from sin. I will argue that in fact, he did save the world, but that will also come later. For now, I just want to reassure everyone that, as far as I can tell, the requirement that you must be baptised as a Christian to go to heaven is false.

The other thing is this. If there is a God, and He created everything, then He exists whether or not we want to believe in Him. To some extent, it is a bit like science. It's true whether or not you want to believe it. Sure, I can put up a silly quarrel like this: Scientists tell us that science has effectively uncovered most of the laws of nature and can explain most things except life and the universe (where we have to deal with relativity and stuff like that). So, let's take something simple. Science tells us that the way our bodies work is not a miracle but simple biology. Everything physical can be explained and there is nothing mysterious about it in that sense. Our bodies are still amazing, don't get me wrong here, but science basically claims that we have uncovered all the laws that are needed to explain how our bodies work. One of the claims is that our bodies process the food we eat to make cells and muscles and so on. OK, if science is true, please show me how it happens. Take some food and make it into muscle, or milk and make a fragment of a bone out of it. Just show me how it happens. Until you can do that, obviously, science is hogwash. I call this a silly quarrel. The argument is set up here not to seek the truth but to obviously prove the opposite.

I will talk in the next post about science, belief and proof, and argue that nothing in science is completely true in the sense that we are asking religious beliefs to be true. This is especially so with Christianity. Mainly because Christianity claims to be true in this sense (i.e. true whether or not you want to believe it). And that's why many people feel threatened by it. And that is wrong. If God exists, and He loves us, why would He put us in such a position? It doesn't make sense. So, don't feel threatened by Christianity. God loves you regardless. If He can love a murderer and take him to heaven, He can so easily love you.
SonLight
Thank you for posting your most interesting thoughts. For now, I'll comment mostly about your three premises,
Quote:
1. Christians believe there is only 1 God and He is the creator of all things.
2. Christians also believe that God loves us, especially the sinners, and longs to bring us back into a relationship with Him.
3. Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that we cannot go to Heaven unless we follow Him.

I certainly accept (1) without question; one God who created "the Heavens and the Earth" seems fundamental to Christianity. (2) I agree with. There may be some Calvinists who think God has no love for those who will not ultimately be saved, but the vast majority of Christians and probably the majority of Calvinists probably find this generally correct. Non-Christians often ask, "Then why isn't everyone saved?" My answer is that God values free will so highly that He will force no one to accept Him. Statement (3) is where many Christians have a different understanding of the matter.

In my view, there is a specific requirement to go to Heaven, but it is not something that we can clearly put limits on to say when it has or has not been met. Two terms for the event are "regeneration" and "being born again". This event is spiritual and, in my opinion, is caused primarily by God to such an extent that no human should dare to take any credit for whatever part he or she may have had in the process.

A regenerated person is said to be a "new creature in Christ". It is reasonable to assume he or she will indeed want to follow Christ, be baptized, and love fellow human beings. Yet these outward things are evidence of regeneration, not proof. Their apparent absence suggests the person is not regenerated, yet there may be an obstacle -- perhaps lack of knowledge or acquired hatred or laziness that God does not deal with immediately -- that hides the internal spiritual change for a time.

I would call anyone who is regenerated a Christian, even if a hidden one in some cases. God is primarily responsible for regeneration taking place, and I dare not claim His action must produce a certain level of knowledge in the person in order to be valid. For example, in Genesis 15 it is stated that "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted as righteousness". At that time, I really don't think Abraham understood about the sacrificial death of Jesus which ultimately was necessary for him to be born again. He did learn a lot more about it later when God asked him to sacrificice his own son however.

I am interested in hearing more about your thoughts and beliefs. I hope my thoughts will be of some help in understanding possible ways of resolving the seeming paradox you have presented.
loveandormoney
Quote:
1. Christians believe there is only 1 God and He is the creator of all things.


Sorry,
its wrong.

Moses says and said: We trust one God
not
we believe in one god.
One is a good relationship, the other thing is only dependence.
Haiku2016
Thank you both, loveandormoney and SonLight, for your inputs. I am glad to hear from Christians (I think?) on this. I think you are making a fine distinction, loveandormoney, and I don't mind that. I do think that some Christians are more dependent while others have the relationship that you are talking about. One of the significant points I would like us to bear in mind is that amongst the Christian community, we all have very different relationships with and expectations from God. And, actually, I think God is looking at us in a very different way. I hope to explain this as we go on. But do keep writing in. It is this diversity of views that I really need.

Anyway, to move on with my argument. I want to start with the Burden of Proof. I think it is a mistake when people argue over whether or not we can prove there is God and whether believing in God is just arbitrary decisions made out of our needs and insecurities. First off, many excellent writers of science have argued that science really cannot prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt. Many things in science are actually accepted as true until proven otherwise and for the most part, many scientific truths are conveniences. Amongst the writers I would refer to are Descartes, Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn. I think (in as much as anyone can understand Descartes) that Descartes actually came to the conclusion that there must be God and a good God or else we cannot say with any confidence that our observations about reality is not just a trick or delusion. Karl Popper is the one who said that science actually cannot prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt since we cannot test every single instance and just one instance is enough to prove the falsehood of a scientific law. Thomas Kuhn went on further to argue that the history of science is characterised by paradigms of beliefs that are changed under the weight of new evidence and as a result, we will never reach a stage where science will stop growing. Nor when we can claim that science is the truth in an absolute sense.

So, there are many levels of accepted truths in science. The most secure would probably be true by definition. Something is true simply because we link the definition to the object or event. For example, 2+2=4 is true because each of the components (2,+,=,4) are defined in a certain way so that the relationship is true. The second level of truth would be true by logic. In this case, the laws of logic require that one truth must follow from another one or more truths. For example, if A=B and B=C, then A=C. This would be most of the arguments we put forth in mathematics and/or logic. I see mathematics as simply a way of expressing logic and vice versa, anyway. The next level would be true by evidence and this is where scientific experiments and statistics come in. It's true because it explains the data. And it goes on. There are many instances in science where we even accept truth by authority, i.e. the evidence and argument came from a trusted source and we accept their claims.

If we look at matters of history, it is clear that the evidence behind our knowledge and understanding of history is flimsy at best. We now talk about histories rather than one history, depending on which angle or perspective you are taking. For example, did Jesus even exist? We cannot really prove that. If we find a tomb that says here lies Jesus, is it the same Jesus? Who knows for sure? Did Jesus rise after 3 days? Again, we cannot prove it in any satisfactory way. Certainly, the fact the Bible exists suggests that Jesus was a historical figure and that he existed. Did the events in the Bible happen as claimed? We cannot prove it. No matter how many other documents were found that suggest it, it is not proof. I think both sides are wrong in this matter. Those who say that Jesus is proven by the Bible and those who say that the Bible is a lie. I think, from an objective point of view, we can say that the Bible is written with the intention to record the truth but also that, the writing has an underlying intention and what is believable in those days is not what we would accept today. For me, I read the Bible as I might a newspaper report. It is probably true but I will also use my own judgment regarding how much of it I want to believe.

The point of this argument is that we should not put the burden of truth too heavily on any argument for God and Christianity. I think we can have a reasonable discussion about this if we keep in mind what we can or cannot reasonably prove. The problem gets out of hand when we are dogmatic about our beliefs. And the other side is just as dogmatic about theirs. Of course, this applies to any religion but since I am only arguing for Jesus Christ, I will not reference other religions. For the record, and I want to repeat and stress this, I don't think it matters to God which religion you believe in or, in fact, whether or not you believe in Him.
Haiku2016
If we accept that even in science not all truths are supported by evidence beyond all doubt, then it is possible to argue that believing in Jesus meets the criteria of science. In others words, it can be claimed that, as far as we can tell, Jesus not only exists, the Bible can be taken to be a historical document as much as any document can be taken to be historical. There are many books that argued from that perspective. Probably the most famous of them is Is the Bible True? by Jeffery L. Sheler (1999). I won't repeat their arguments but I will observe that historical truths are based on rather flimsy evidence. We can say with a lot less certainty that Socrates existed than we can say that it rained in Sacramento yesterday. And we essentially rely on an authority (the weather bureau) for the latter, as historical evidence. Even mathematics begin with assumptions, "facts" that we accept without probing further.

So, what is the evidence and argument for believing in Jesus? And if we can believe in Him, what should we believe? What did he really say? What does he expect of us?

For me, whether or not Jesus did all those miracles, and even the fact that he rose from the dead, are not proof that he is the Son of God. There are instances in the Bible of other miracle workers and people who rose from the dead. I can believe that these things can happen (i.e. science has not disproven such possibilities) but I can also believe that, in those days, people would call some events miraculous that we don't do today. I can also believe that the events recorded in the Bible are spread by word of mouth and so may not be 100% accurate.

So, why do I believe in Jesus? Well, in as much as I need some guidance in my life, he gave me the best advice: believe in God, love Him with all your heart, and love one another. Pray, share your troubles with God and ask from Him what you need. Treat God as your heavenly father. I found that this advice, strange as it may seem, is exactly what I (we) need to live our lives fully. Even if he was no more than an ancient Dale Carnegie, he said something that I realized is true whether I want to believe it or not. He gave us the best way to approach God and said that if we want to be free (i.e. live our lives fully), we need to listen to him. And I found that advice to be true, whether I like it or not. It was the best advice ever, and no one since had been able to come up with anything better. That was to me the revelation. What he said is TRUE. Whether I like it or not.

It is for this reason I'm a Christian. You can disprove all the rest, even convince me that Jesus didn't rise from the dead, or that he didn't exist, that the Bible is written by monkeys. It doesn't change this simple fact: Jesus has the best prescription for life - love God and love one another, and the rest will follow.[/u]
loveandormoney
Quote:


. I do think that some Christians are more dependent while others have the relationship that you are talking about.


The Bible is different.
There is written how Jesus started to create a new kind of love.
Haiku2016
loveandormoney wrote:
Quote:


. I do think that some Christians are more dependent while others have the relationship that you are talking about.


The Bible is different.
There is written how Jesus started to create a new kind of love.


Yes. And that changed the world. This new love is now bigger than Christianity. It is impacting people from other religions and cultures, and we can see how much the world is changing if we stop asking how many Christians are there. It's what Human Rights is all about. It's how we see ourselves today. It's why we believe children need to be protected and loved. When I was young, I was loved but the overridding relationship with my parents is one of duty, not love. I wasn't asked if I loved them. I had to do my duty to them, whether I loved them or not.

I think Jesus is the Son of God because of this impact He has on the world. It's bigger than Christianity. And like He said: I tell you the Truth. He told us THE TRUTH. And once He said it, and lived it, all that was needed was to spread the word.
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