Archive for October, 2013

18
Oct
13

Going Away

I’m going away for a two week break from 18 October returning on November 4.

Any comments posted during that time will have to wait for moderation until I get back: also a scary amount of SPAM will have to wait to be deleted.
Over the life of this blog there have been 1008 approved comments (and very few that I deleted), but there have been almost 18,000 items of SPAM.

15
Oct
13

Conversations With a Witch

Over six years ago I posted details of a dialogue I had with a professing witch. It was compiled from several emails that went between me and her. It was originally posted here:
http://onefiles.blogspot.co.nz/2007/02/conversations-with-witch.html
I’ve made one alteration to bring it up to date, by changing the name of the Prime Minster referred to in one illustration.
I went back and refound this article because I was thinking of doing something similar with recent correspondence with a man I consider to be a blatantly false prophet; but after some early attempts I realised the exercise would have no constructive purpose.

At least the initial plan led me back to this article.

CONVERSATIONS WITH A WITCH
The following is a compilation of an ongoing email dialogue I had with a woman who claims to be a follower of Wicca (witchcraft). Her comments are in italicised quotes. My response is in plain type.

“I apparently try to see too much of the positive, I used to argue with those preaching at my door that I don’t believe in a god which would throw you into a fire and brimstone hell”

Could I use this approach to change the government?

I don’t believe Tony Abbott is the Prime minister of Australia
I don’t believe Tony Abbott is the Prime minister of Australia
I don’t believe Tony Abbott is the Prime minister of Australia

But enough flippancy…

Perhaps you are taking the wrong approach. You are making assumptions about
the nature and motivation of your hypothetical God by expecting him to act in a way that is acceptable to a particular human way of thinking.
Suppose this God thinks and acts differently to us, even in a way that we could find objectionable. What could we do about it? Does refusing to believe really make a difference?

Why would this God want or need to throw anyone into a fire and brimstone hell? And what right would he have to do so?

What if this God was responsible for our origins? Was the one who created us in the first place? Would that give this god any kind of ownership over us, giving the right to reward or dispose of us as he sees fit? What would this god be entitled to do with any part of its creation that didn’t come up to the required “quality control” standard?

What if this God had done everything in his power to enable us to achieve the required standard and avoid the abhorrent outcome of hell, but we were too focussed on other things to take notice, or too proud of our self-perceived good qualities? What if it wasn’t this God’s desire to send people to “hell”, but they refused to accept the way out he had provided?

“I wanted to know why the Vatican with all it’s vast fortune didn’t do more to help the poor, such as soup kitchens, temporary housing etc, the answer from the Sister on that one was, “there will always be the poor”, would get terribly angry looks from certain people for bringing a homeless person into the canteen for a cup of coffee and a feed,”

It should not be ignored that Jesus said that many of those who would find themselves condemned to “hell” were people who claimed to be his followers but who did not feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty or clothe the naked; in other words, those who claim adherence to religion, but don’t LIVE it.

“Of course, the problem as I see it is that we receive all Christian messages second-hand – at least – via the Bible, which was written by a range of different people, each with their own thoughts and ideas and locations and eras. Which would be the same problem with any religious book – it’s not directly from God, but filtered through humans. We learned in film school that as soon as you put your eye to the viewfinder and press record, you are unconsciously tainting the picture with your choice of framing, exposure, etc so that it is subjective – there’s no such thing as a completely objective film shot – and therefore, documentary, or movie, or etc etc. Same thing with writing – by its very nature, it’s tainted by the choice of wording, by omissions or additions…”

This is why the New Testament begins with four gospels. They give the perspective of different witnesses to the life of Jesus. This is also why there are more than three versions of creation told in the Bible, and why the two books of Chronicles and the two books of Kings tell of some of the same basic events from different perspectives. It seems like God was a Post-modernist even prior to Modernism.
The fact that the bible was written by so many different people over so many different eras is often pointed out as evidence of the divine influence over its content – because DESPITE OF these wide ranging origins, it remains consistent. Yes, there are minor discrepancies as can be seen in the gospel accounts but there is no discrepancy in overall theme. While some critics try to use these differences to discredit the gospels, these differences in fact provide convincing evidence of their authenticity. This is EXACTLY how the genuine accounts of different witnesses would appear, as each writes according to their own perception and memory of events.

As for the bible being filtered through humans, I think you are quite correct as can be seen with the above mentioned gospel discrepancies. While some insist the Bible is the inerrant and infallible word of God, I see it as a collaborative effort. It details the relationship between God and mankind throughout early history, and the bible is itself is a literary illustration of that relationship. The God revealed in the bible is one who WANTS to be known by mankind. Therefore I see no problem with this God, the creator of all things, having “editorial influence” over the book that tells the world about Him, and thereby preventing any “tainting” of His message.

I have come to see the Bible as being an “authorised biography” of God rather than an autobiography. By this I mean that it was not written or dictated word for word by God Himself. It was written by men under God’s inspiration and authority.

Despite the importance Christians give to the bible it would be a mistake to assume that its content is the sole source of their knowledge and relationship with God. While many churches stick with their rituals and historical tradition, there are others who recognise that God is not trapped between the covers of a 2000 year and older book. They believe in a living and active God who continues to relate to his followers today.

“ People are afraid to think for themselves and reinterpret, because they’ve been told that questioning and interpreting is not for them… it denies faith and all that. So I guess what upsets me is not religion, but dogma. And denial of the intellect and of common sense. If only there were a greater part of the Christian community that could have as open and enquiring a mind as you do! Although you acknowledge that the Bible is not the be-all and end-all of Christian knowledge – I wonder how many everyday people who identify themselves as Christians agree, or have even thought about looking beyond the Bible?”

To put things into the correct perspective, while I think the Bible is not the be-all and end-all of Christian knowledge, it is the foundation that all Christian knowledge and understanding are built upon. Any further understanding can not be in contradiction to it. Acceptable teaching or inspiration from “beyond the bible” would always be compatible with the written word. However, Jesus spoke out against those who tried to enforce the “letter of the law” but ignored the spirit of the law. The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

On the other hand, Jesus also made it known that the spirit of the law was harsher than the letter. He equated wrongful anger against another as being equal to murder in God’s eyes and lustful thought was equal to adultery. The spirit of the law goes deeper than judging actions; it also takes into account the attitude of the heart.

Valid interpretation of a belief system has to be done with respect for the foundations of what is being interpreted. Move away from the foundation and you have something totally different. Following Christ requires a recognition that mankind has fallen from the standard required by God, resulting in spiritual death. But God has made a way for us to regain a relationship with him through faith in Jesus Christ. Without these basic (simplified) foundations there is no Christianity. Any religious system or spiritual belief that tries to adopt or borrow Christ to further a different agenda is way off track. For example, I wish those syncretists who speak of “Christ Consciousness” and being “Christed” would discover enough integrity to change their terminology.

I have no problem respecting the right of other people to hold their own beliefs. We are all responsible for our own search for truth and have to be willing to face whatever consequences come out of the decisions we make. However, I do get annoyed when people try to merge Christ into a pick and mix “spirituality” that denies the very teaching that Christ gave. We can’t water him down and take only the “palatable” parts of his life and teaching.
Likewise I do not tolerate the beliefs of those who claim to be Christians but are selectively blind regarding Christ’s life and teachings, although I do recognise there is always room for growth in understanding and maturity.

People have every right to investigate different religious and spiritual beliefs for themselves as they seek for truth, but the SERIOUS seeker can’t select a bit from here and a bit from there to create their own personally tailored spirituality. If the source beliefs from which those selections were taken are mutually exclusive, there can be no integrity in the patchwork that’s created. It might be comfortable, it might make them feel good, but it has no logical, intellectual, or spiritual integrity. Without that internal integrity within the belief system itself, how can it give a relevant and valid view of the external world?
Those adopting Syncretism of this type are not genuine in the pursuit of spiritual reality. They are more concerned with personal comfort and good feelings than in seeking truth – which will often challenge and confront

15
Oct
13

Sacrifice

For our Pesach lamb, the Messiah, has been sacrificed

sacrifice

Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

 

14
Oct
13

“Disqualifying Jesus” : recommended article.

The following is from the Sojourning With Jews blog

____________________

Many Christians have been in this conundrum:

Why don’t you [Jew] believe in Jesus as the Messiah? It’s all right there, it’s plain as day, and so obvious, look at the prophecies.

To which a Jew may reply:

Because I’m Jewish, Jews don’t believe in Jesus.

At which point [most] Christians will say:

But…Jesus, and his disciples were Jewish.

Now, this is a very strange thing to say since we have been stripping Jesus and his disciples of his/their Jewishness for almost 2k years now.

See complete article here: http://sojourningwithjews.com/2013/10/13/1482/

1

11
Oct
13

Powerful Delusion

The following statement can be found on Nathan Leal’s Watchman’s Cry website:

Augusto [Perez] has a very dire warning which has to do with a potential asteroid threat that he believes may strike the Caribbean Region and the area of Puerto Rico.
He believes that there is a possibility that this event may take place in the near future. According to his findings, the coming asteroid will strike in the Caribbean and cause a massive tsunami which will inundate portions of the US coastline.

puertoConsidering the success rate of prophecies form both Leal and Perez, I’d be quite confident that Puerto Rico and the Caribbean will be the safest place on earth at the time this event is expected to happen. BUT, continuing their form, the prediction is for “the near future”, so can be delayed indefinitely as each week, month and year goes by without fulfilment.

A couple of years ago this pair of false prophets were part of a group of “watchmen” predicting catastrophe in the USA “before August” of that year. A friend of mine says he is still receiving regular links from Leal to the recording making those predictions – two years after the predicted event failed to happen.

But I suppose there is a kind of logic involved. Eventually there may come a “before August” when there is a fulfilment, and they will conveniently dismiss the fact that the prediction was made in regard to a particular August in a particular year that passed without incident.

2 Thessalonians contains a very sobering statement about those who refuse to love the truth. It says that God will send a strong delusion to those who refuse the truth so that they will believe the lie. Maybe these false prophets have already received that “promise” and are no longer capable of recognising the truth. They have been thrown so deeply into the deception they chose above the Truth that they are incapable of recognising the blindingly obvious about the lying words they continually broadcast.

They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

09
Oct
13

Belief: Evidence Based or Mirage?

Two months ago I wrote an article called “What a UFO Taught Me About Faith”* and in that article I wrote the following statement:

…people will believe what they want to believe, they will see evidence to support what they what to believe and they will refuse to accept any contrary evidence no matter how definitive that contrary evidence may be.

Mirage Men

I have recently finished reading a book, Mirage Men by Mark Pilkington, about the way UFO related “evidence” has been used as a disinformation tool by the US Military and Security Services. Pilkington makes the point that despite the clear and recognised evidence of this happening, people choose to go on believing far stranger alternative views.

Here are some quotes from the book about this tendency of people to “believe what they want to believe”.Quote one is an epigraph, credited to Louis Pasteur, introducing chapter 11 of the book

The greatest derangement of the mind is to believe in something because one wishes it to be so

Quote 2 comes towards the end of chapter 11

The believers don’t want to know the truth, they only want to have their pre-existing beliefs confirmed and elaborated upon.

Quote 3 comes from chapter 12

Festinger found that if someone believes something to be true, and all of the evidence suggests that it isn’t true, then, rather than restarting their life with a new set of beliefs, they will often cling more fervently to the old ones, generating new explanations for the conflict in their reality.

Leon Festinger was the author of a 1956 book When Prophecy Fails, about a UFO cult that, through “extra-terrestrial messages” had been led to believe prophecies of a global deluge in December 1954. Pilkington notes that when the destruction “failed to take place, rather than leave the group, many of [the] followers became more dedicated in their beliefs”.  Compare to similar responses in the “christian” world demonstrated at the links below **.

* https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/what-a-ufo-taught-me-about-faith/

** See the following links
https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/prophecies-failed-and-prophecy-fulfilled/
https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/new-year-and-false-prophecy/
https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/the-14-predictions-apology-were-still-waiting/
https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/another-christchurch-prophecy-deja-vu-all-over-again-with-few-lessons-learned/
https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2012/05/05/the-convenience-of-dated-prophecy/

09
Oct
13

Garden Renovations

For years we’ve planned to create a small area of paving in our backyard. The first idea was to try doing it ourselves, but I finally realised that it was going to remain an intention rather than a reality unless we got someone else to do it.

We are very happy with the result. Not only has it given us somewhere to sit outside, it has given the garden more structure and coherence.

Here are before and after shots.

BEFOREbefore

 

AFTERafter

 

AFTER (CLOSE-UP)after close up




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