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The Trombone ForumPractice BreakChit-ChatReligion(Moderator: bhcordova) TTF "Read Da Book": The Christian Bible
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John the Theologian
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« Reply #2940 on: Sep 13, 2017, 06:44AM »

John, I'm actually aware of those.  I was speaking in context of Matthew 10.

The context is simply picking up the normal biblical pattern for the kingdom fulfillment-- to quote the apostle Paul in Romans 1: 16-- "to the Jew first and also to the Greek."  This was from Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles.  For the OT kingdom promises to be properly fulfilled, the kingdom had to be proclaimed to the ancient covenant people first.  

The gospels portray Jesus healing and praising a Syrophoenician woman in Matthew 15, speaks to a Samaritan woman in John 4, hangs around with social outcasts through out the gospels such as tax-collectors and "sinners"-- a code word for prostitutes and others of ill-repute, is excoriated by the Jewish religious establishment, so it seems a bit over the top to complain that He is too particularistic in his ministry.

Yes, He says he was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but this is the preliminary step towards a world-wide ministry as Matthew 28: 19-20 declares.
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« Reply #2941 on: Sep 13, 2017, 06:49AM »

I think the Wiki article on this is probably the most accessible on several levels.  It is well written and referenced and draws from the work of 58 named authors on both sides of the question.  Maybe if you have a chance you can read it and let us know what you think.  Save some of us $35 since we only need a summary version.

Which of these articles are you referring to?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sources_for_the_historicity_of_Jesus

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_of_Jesus
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« Reply #2942 on: Sep 13, 2017, 08:22AM »


It's an alignment of interests thing - one establishment interest looking out for another.

But when one looks at the tenets of the religion itself, it makes little sense from the POV of the individual average religious voter - the basic aims of Christianity would be better served by voting for parties on the left. To my mind, this phenomenon revealingly points up what religion is really about for many - the desire to belong, rather than the desire to do the best thing.

Dave, wanted to get back to you about the issue of political alignments among orthodox Christians.  One of the key thinkers in the topic of how to help the "poor" or whatever we want to call those of less fortunate economic status that has influenced me is Brian Fikkert.  His work defines help in 3 basic levels: immediate relief, rehabilitation and development.  He argues that many focus only on the first and therefore may do more harm than good.  Much of government welfare often falls into that category in my opinion.  As a political conservative, I do believe that there should be a safety net, but not one that does more harm than good.  I also believe that private groups, such as churches and faith based agencies are better equipped and more flexible to adjust to the 3 levels that Fikkert describes so that they don't do more harm than good.  Fikkert focuses on private charities, but the same principles would apply to public aid.

This isn't really a place for a discussion of the economics and politics of all of this, but I just wanted to let you know why many of us think a more conservative approach is actually more helpful.  Certainly there is always the problem of greed and selfishness in the mix, but, after all, I believe in original sin and human depravity. :).  Left wing approaches can no more rid the system of that than conservative approaches and, in my opinion, actually open the door for more abuses.

An example of this is the Southern Baptist Convention here in the US which has 95K trained volunteers and is the 3rd largest disaster relief organization in the US.  The Red Cross is #1, the Salvation Army is #2 and the Roman Catholic Church is #4.  That means that 3 out of the 4 such organizations are explicitly Christian.

Here's is a link to Fikkert's Amazon page if you'd like to know more.

https://www.amazon.com/Brian-Fikkert/e/B003D0IFZ6/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_2
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« Reply #2943 on: Sep 13, 2017, 08:49AM »

2nd one.

Sorry, I actually meant the one more pertinent to Dusty's post.  The one pointed to by Dave  WRT Josephus. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_on_Jesus

However, those you linked to look like good candidates too.
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« Reply #2944 on: Sep 13, 2017, 08:51AM »

The context is simply picking up the normal biblical pattern for the kingdom fulfillment-- to quote the apostle Paul in Romans 1: 16-- "to the Jew first and also to the Greek."  This was from Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles.  For the OT kingdom promises to be properly fulfilled, the kingdom had to be proclaimed to the ancient covenant people first.  

The gospels portray Jesus healing and praising a Syrophoenician woman in Matthew 15, speaks to a Samaritan woman in John 4, hangs around with social outcasts through out the gospels such as tax-collectors and "sinners"-- a code word for prostitutes and others of ill-repute, is excoriated by the Jewish religious establishment, so it seems a bit over the top to complain that He is too particularistic in his ministry.

Yes, He says he was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but this is the preliminary step towards a world-wide ministry as Matthew 28: 19-20 declares.
It also gives his troop of Apostles the opportunity to cut their teeth on a more open and higher priority audience.
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« Reply #2945 on: Sep 13, 2017, 06:53PM »

excuse me if I've missed some later posts that alter what I'm commenting on, but I'm just going to catch up one post at a time.

Matthew 5 text

Highlights

 - "The Sermon on the Mount", part 1

Summary

 - Jesus addresses his adoring public, climbing up on a hill for a better projection

Matt 5:1 says he saw the crowds and went up to the mountain to talk to his disciples, so he climbed the mountain to get away from his 'adoring public' so he could talk to his disciples

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- He delivers a series of aphorisms, known as the Beatitudes, a grouping of thoughts that can reasonably be held to define the core of Christianity
 - He tells them to advertise with pride their affiliation to him
 - He tells them that the Law is not to be changed in the slightest
 - He tells them that anger is a corrosive emotion, one that should always be resolved by discussion
 - He tells them that looking at a woman with carnal thoughts is as bad as adultery with her
 - He tells them that the only good ground for giving a woman a divorce is her pre-existing sexual bad behaviour
 - He tells them not to swear oaths, lest they commit to controlling something outside of their control
 - He tells them that "An eye for an eye" is not good to insist on; rather "turn the other cheek"
 - He tells them to love even those that make it difficult to do so


3) No PA systems in 1st century Palestine. I guess those at the back of the crowd must have had the words relayed by those closer to the front or else just not heard them.

As I said, Jesus has gone up the mountain to get away from the crowd so that he can talk to his disciples.  So no need for PA's or cheesemakers.

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4) Important chapter this. Things that Christians are instructed are signifiers of virtue: poverty, empathy, humility, desire for justice, mercy, honesty, defusing of hostility, standing up for what's right in the face of persecution, standing up for Jesus in the face of persecution. How many Christians value and uphold these attributes? How many non-Christians do the same? There's a lot of universal good sense here, uplifting to read from a figure raised in such a violent and brutal age.

I don't think the point of the beatitudes is to provide a list of signifiers of virtue.  Sure many of the attributes are virtues we should strive for, but some aren't.  eg wealth isn't an indicator of virtue: poor people can be evil and rich people can be good. 

I think that what Jesus is saying is that God will ultimately bless those of his (he is taling to his disciples, not the crowd) that suffer for doing good.

How many Christians value and uphild these attributes?  We don't do it as well as we should.

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6) v18: For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. He is, I assume, talking about Mosaic Law - the passage does not seem to fit any other interpretation (e.g. Roman Law), talking as it does about the Pharisees. I note this for future reference - as I recall Paul later tells us that Jesus basically revoked Mosaic Law in favour of his words? How do we resolve this apparent contradiction?

I'm going to get picky here, but I think its important.

Jesus said (v17...) that he came to fulfill the law and the prophets. These are the divisions of the OT.  The Jews also included another division called the Writings,  So Jesus is not just talking about the lists of things that described what they should and shouldn't do.
- in one sense the Law and the Prophets are the parts of the OT, and Jesus is claiming to fulfill the prophecies and types in them
- but also in the law were the ritual sacrifices that the Isrealites had to make to cleanse themselves from sin.  Jesus came to fulfill those in a type/antitype sense

Then he says in v18 that the Law won't pass until "all is accomplished".  I'm going to argue that this happened at the cross.  But you'll have to wait for when we get to the writings that show how.

In v20 Jesus makes the point that their law-keeping has to be greater than the scribes and pharisees to get into the Kingdom if Heaven.  They were sticklers for keeping the law and even made up new laws to keep.  My inference from this is that no one can keep the law well enough to get into the Kingdom of Heaven.

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8) There is a certain amount of sympathy for women as people in vv 27-32. More so than in any of his predecessors. This also is heartening.
9) Oaths - this is sensible, and something I hadn't been aware of - but I'm delighted to find that it fits well with my worldview. Do not attempt to control things that are not within your control. You can control what you do - but you cannot control what others do; attempting to do so leads to sadness. Suggest, reason, lead by example; but do not attempt to force.
10) "Turn the other cheek" is perhaps the most striking of Jesus's teachings in my view. It feels so counter-intuitive, but it does so much good - replace violence with acceptance and goodwill. Pure genius.
11) In summary - for me, this chapter contains much of what is good about Christianity as a concept. And there's more to come.

I'm sure Jesus is relieved to have gained you seal of approval  :D

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13) Leaving aside Buddhism, these ideas do rather depart from earlier Judaic thought as preserved in these books. Were there nearby movements in the years before Jesus that adopted this kind of radical pacifist stance?

The Essenes had similar concerns: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essenes

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« Reply #2946 on: Sep 13, 2017, 07:15PM »

Matthew 6 text

...

3) And the coda of the chapter is good too - 'don't stress'. A wise chap, Jesus.

Jesus wasn't just saying don't stress: his message was don't stress about the little things (like life, food ...) but to get the important thing right and every thing else will fall into place.
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« Reply #2947 on: Sep 13, 2017, 07:18PM »

Quartz?



Well, there are 16 other gospels.  Do they all agree as well as these four?... 

Yes there are! Some can be quickly identified as mere fan fiction. Others may be closer in time to the events and may contain actual information. You can't say no one was no one was writing about this stuff.

However, just looking at "gospels" when you are looking for historical record is limiting. There are a number of reliably attributed early letters ("epistles") among the early church fathers that demonstrate, by quotes and by commentary, that "Jesus" and his teachings were already known things in the first century. It's strong evidence that the Jesus narrative originates in the first century and wasn't manufactured out of thin air centuries later.

In addition it turns out that there are or were narratives and alternative facts about Jesus in the Talmud.

So again, it's not like there is zero record. It's at least as much to ponder as some other historical events which come down to us from only one source who wasn't even contemporary.

It may well be that the names applied to the four gospels are pious fictions, but on the other hand, the attributions happen pretty early and two of them, "Mark" and "Luke", are not claims to high status. If you were going to assign something an impressive author, why them?


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« Reply #2948 on: Sep 13, 2017, 07:36PM »

Matthew 7 text

Highlights

 - "The Sermon on the Mount", part 3

Summary

 - Jesus also says:
 - Don't be a hypocrite
 - Be generous, and don't be shy to ask when you are in need
 - Do as you would be done by
 - People saying harmful things are harmful people
 - Paying lip service to his religion is not enough
 - Found your positions on solidity
 - The crowds were much taken with all this

if I'm right in my comment in ch5 that Jesus had gone up the mountain to get away from the crowds then at some stage Matthew must have switched to a public lecture Jesus was giving.

This is possible because the gospels are often arranged thematically rather than chonologically.

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2) I don't recall it in the OT, but it is cited here as "for this is the Law and the Prophets". What's the reference?

...

5) What does the contrast mean between "one who had authority" and "their scribes"?

I don't think that Jesus is quoting here, but rather he is synthesising the whole of the Law and the Prophets.  This is one of the reasons that the crowd thought he spoke with authority. A scribe  would only have been allowed to quote an existing text (in the OT or written by a rabbi/teacher).
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« Reply #2949 on: Sep 13, 2017, 08:14PM »

Matthew 8 text

...

1) The forbidding of the disciple (which one, incidentally? At this point the father of a disciple can be one of only two people) from burying their father does not seem of a piece with the wise and graceful precepts that we've been reading. This seems unnecessary and hurtful.

I'm pretty sure that Matthew is putting his text together thematically rather than chonologically, so I don't think you can conclude that he only had 2 disciples.

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2) The Gadarenes were the citizens of Gadara, SE of the Sea of Galilee, one of the cities of the Decapolis.

We're SE of Galilee which puts us in Gentile territory, ie outside of Israel.  Hence the pigs.

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3) Here we have a whole chapter of physically implausible happenings, collected into one place to impress us with. There are various possible reasons for this chapter: i) It's a factual report; ii) It's an honestly meant report of real events that's undergone substantial inflation and elaboration from reality; iii) It's an honestly meant report of previously falsified events; iv) It's a deliberate inflation and elaboration of real events; v) It's a deliberate falsification. I withhold speculation on what sequence of events led to us reading this passage as it is, other than to note that the contents conflict heavily with any obvious naturalistic reading, and that it was written down decades after the events.
4) Though there seems little point in applying normal standards of logic to these episodes, the episode with the pigs is odd. The daemons begged for clemency, which he granted - but then their pig bodies were destroyed. I can't imagine that the pigs were very pleased about this either.

Who says the supernatural isn't logical?  We get to have both in our worldview.

But the episode with the pigs is odd.  The pigs wouldn't have been happy and neither would their owners.

I think the logic of the chapter is to tell us that Jesus rules over the natural and the supernatural spheres.  And that if you want to follow him you should put him first

And you might have noticed that after he came down from the mountain the crowds were following him again.
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« Reply #2950 on: Sep 14, 2017, 05:03AM »

Could this mean that our cartoon president, The Donald, will be the new Jesus in a couple of millennia?
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« Reply #2951 on: Sep 14, 2017, 05:28AM »

Matthew 9 text

Highlights

 - Miracles; Matthew, another disciple; Points of order

Summary

 - Jesus meets a paralysed man, and tells him "Your sins are forgiven"
 - Onlookers think this blasphemy, but are convinced when he tells him to be healed and he is
 - Matthew is a tax collector, in his tax collecting booth; Jesus calls him to be a disciple, and he follows
 - Jesus hosts a gathering of tax collectors, and the Pharisees, who are observing him, are puzzled; "Why surround himself with bad people?" they ask - the answer: "Bad people are those in need of guidance"
 - The disciples of Jesus do not fast - why, they are asked? Cryptically, they answer that they will fast when the bridegroom is gone, and with a comparison regarding wineskins.
 - Jesus awakes a recently deceased girl, and cures a woman of a bloody discharge
 - Jesus restores the sight of two blind men, and asks them to keep quiet about it; they don't
 - Jesus restores the speech of a dumb man
 - Jesus realises that the crowds are too large for him to handle, and prays for more helpers

Questions and Observations

1) Moar miracles plz. These relatively easy to fake, if one were so minded. Or to make up and write down, according to taste.

Miracles in the NT are often called signs because that's why they are done.  In this case Jesus was making the religios point that he had the power to forgive sins.  The fact that he was breaking all sorts of scientific and religious rules wasn't a concern.

The miracles were meant to indicate that:
- Jesus had authority to forgive sin
- could heal (incidentally, the greek word for heal and forgive is the same)
- to raise the dead

And I agree that it would be easier to make up the story than to really heal.
Quote
2) Five disciples now - Simon-Peter, Andrew, James, John, Matthew. Presumably the final section of the chapter tells us why he is expanding the franchise at this point.

I'm not sure where its mentioned but there are 12 apostles because there are/were 12 tribes of Israel.  Jesus is just fulfulling the Israel typology again.

Quote
3) This is the Matthew that some hold to be the author of the current text. If so, it is somewhat odd that no mention of that is made here, at the introduction of the character.

the writers of the gospels seem to be a humble bunch and don't claim glory for themselves.  I'd have thought that you would think that was admirable.

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4) Why were tax collectors held in such low esteem?

cause they were working with the enemy and ripping off their fellow Israelites.

Quote
5) The logic of attracting bad people in order to inspire them to improve is impeccable.

Romans 6:23

Quote
6) The allusion to a bridegroom at a wedding seems clear enough - Jesus is the bridegroom, and the disciples are the guests; Jesus's ministry will clearly not last forever.
7) However, the riff on wineskins leaves me puzzled.

I think Jesus is claiming to be bringing in a new order.  Has John explained this yet?
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« Reply #2952 on: Sep 14, 2017, 05:31AM »

Could this mean that our cartoon president, The Donald, will be the new Jesus in a couple of millennia?

I hope I haven't said anything that would lead you to that conclusion.

Or has he been raising the dead? I can't imagine him going anywhere near a woman with a bloody discharge.
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« Reply #2953 on: Sep 14, 2017, 05:59AM »

I hope I haven't said anything that would lead you to that conclusion.
 
Or has he been raising the dead? I can't imagine him going anywhere near a woman with a bloody discharge.

He has thousands of followers who would eagerly confirm accounts of miraculous deeds (not to get political if that's even possible now, but he and his fans demonstrate the value of such testimonials).
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« Reply #2954 on: Sep 14, 2017, 06:51AM »

Dave, wanted to get back to you about the issue of political alignments among orthodox Christians.  One of the key thinkers in the topic of how to help the "poor" or whatever we want to call those of less fortunate economic status that has influenced me is Brian Fikkert.  His work defines help in 3 basic levels: immediate relief, rehabilitation and development.

In the absence of a link explaining these terms (as always online, referring to a book that hasn't been read by the other party simply results in a dropped conversational connection), I'll assume that they mean the following. Let me know if these definitions need altering.

1) Immediate relief: The alleviating of the acute problem.
2) Rehabilitation: The addressing of the underlying personal structural problem that has enabled the acute problem to occur.
3) Development: The construction of a more robust personal structure on which to more securely post one's life.

Did I match your thoughts there? It seems a reasonable paradigm to use to think about the question.

  He argues that many focus only on the first and therefore may do more harm than good.  Much of government welfare often falls into that category in my opinion.

"Welfare" is a broad concept. There's the basic supplying of sums of money to the needy in order to remedy (1). But (*) there is also parallel support given in the connecting of eligibility for this to reconnecting the individual with the jobs market, which addresses both (2) and (3). And then there are important other elements, such as the supplying of free healthcare to those stuck in this position - a vital concern when mental health issues are endemic among the needy - often it is impossible to say which is cause and which effect.

(*) There is in all this the risk of a cultural disconnect. The UK system of state support for the needy is being hacked about by our IMO evil and callous current government, but it still performs more tasks and enjoys a broad support that the rather fragmented US system doesn't have. Further, I am less familiar with the US system, as I imagine you are with the UK system.(*)

One major difficulty with "Just leave it to us, please" from any private organisation such as a church or system of churches is one of coverage. I'm perfectly prepared to believe that it's possible to generate a superior product in this way for those that receive it. But not even the combined forces of Christianity can hope to systematically bring every single needy case on board. The civic authorities have more data, more info, a larger and finer-meshed net. By construction, they speak for all of us, where the religious authorities only speak for a portion. It is impossible for a successful welfare system to function without a powerful civic component.

  As a political conservative, I do believe

A dangerous phrasing... One should never believe something because that's what one perceives that it is what people in one's position ought to believe. Taking one's philosophical cues in this way results in polarised mindsets. Rather, consider all the facets of the problem, and create one's nuanced position from them.

that there should be a safety net, but not one that does more harm than good.  I also believe that private groups, such as churches and faith based agencies are better equipped and more flexible to adjust to the 3 levels that Fikkert describes so that they don't do more harm than good.  Fikkert focuses on private charities, but the same principles would apply to public aid.

It seems to be a hard problem to get everybody to agree on what harm is here. What is the specific harm that you refer to here? You don't specify it. I would guess that you mean welfare dependence, where there is no route for a fit and able person to change their life to a non-welfare state? But such states arise in places where the local economy is depressed, through no fault of the welfare recipients. The problems are ones that must be addressed by broader policy - the demotivation through the dejobbing of an entire region is when it occurs a national problem. No traction against the general problem can be gained by actions with individuals, whether the acting agency be civic or private

This isn't really a place for a discussion of the economics and politics of all of this, but I just wanted to let you know why many of us think a more conservative approach is actually more helpful.  Certainly there is always the problem of greed and selfishness in the mix, but, after all, I believe in original sin and human depravity. :).  Left wing approaches can no more rid the system of that than conservative approaches and, in my opinion, actually open the door for more abuses.

An example of this is the Southern Baptist Convention here in the US which has 95K trained volunteers and is the 3rd largest disaster relief organization in the US.  The Red Cross is #1, the Salvation Army is #2 and the Roman Catholic Church is #4.  That means that 3 out of the 4 such organizations are explicitly Christian.

Here's is a link to Fikkert's Amazon page if you'd like to know more.

https://www.amazon.com/Brian-Fikkert/e/B003D0IFZ6/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_2

The more people working on helping others, the better. I have no desire to stop your co-religionists from helping the needy - provided there is no attempt to connect the giving of aid to a religious message, of course, in which case I would still have no desire to stop the aid, but would urge the omission of the message as inappropriate. But the political Right seem to repeatedly and systematically go out of their way to try to reduce the amount of support available from the civic authorities. You can make arguments, as you have alluded to above, in favour of a lower level of state work in the balance of helping people - but working to reduce state support hurts the needy immediately.

Show that your solution is better by producing better results; not by working to cripple another system working with the same ends. Especially when the human cost of doing so is so obvious.
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« Reply #2955 on: Sep 14, 2017, 07:07AM »

I'm sure Jesus is relieved to have gained you seal of approval  :D

Sadly, he's dead, so he'll never know.

The Essenes had similar concerns: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essenes

Interesting.

Jesus wasn't just saying don't stress: his message was don't stress about the little things (like life, food ...) but to get the important thing right and every thing else will fall into place.

With a little modification of what the important things are, it still works well for the non-Yahwist.

Who says the supernatural isn't logical?  We get to have both in our worldview.

I say it? There's no effort to lend the claimed supernatural doings a logical aspect in these books. The claimed doings are striking precisely because they are physically illogical.

the writers of the gospels seem to be a humble bunch and don't claim glory for themselves.  I'd have thought that you would think that was admirable.

Bit more of a demonstration required here for this to seem plausible, I'm afraid.
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« Reply #2956 on: Sep 14, 2017, 07:12AM »

Dave, I don't think it would be the proper venue here to discuss the many issues you raised.  My only reason for mentioning my perspective on the issue, which is shared by many thoughtful religious conservatives that I know, is that I believe it is not an automatic logical jump from the words of Jesus to left-wing politics as you suggest it probably should be.

I didn't expect you necessarily follow up on the links, but I sent them to show you that there is thoughtful consideration of the issues by thinkers with high level academic credentials like B Fikkert-- Yale PhD in economics, adviser to international economic think tanks, etc,  who happen to share my theological convictions-- his father was a minister friend of mine in my denomination.  

My point is that many of us have thought these things through and have concluded, as the title of B. Fikkert's book suggests-- some type of "helping" really does hurt more than it helps.

That makes it our Christian duty to support those types of "help" that really helps, in the long term as well as the short.

We certainly can disagree here on specifics.  I just wanted to respond to your, what I believe, is a far too quick jump to a left-wing political solution to the issue of caring for the "poor" as the only reasonable Christian option.  Many of us convinced it is by no means the best and most humane option.

I think it would be best to leave this for another thread or something, but I did want to respond to your suggestion.
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MoominDave

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« Reply #2957 on: Sep 14, 2017, 07:26AM »

Fair enough, and I am totally down with the idea that responsible politics of either of the usual flavours can mesh with a Christian worldview.

But the following remains a puzzle for me: How a Christian worldview can be responsibly meshed with the irresponsible antics of those who have for many years represented the Right politically in the US (and the UK).

Best for another thread, as you say.
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Dave Taylor

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« Reply #2958 on: Sep 14, 2017, 07:37AM »

Fair enough, and I am totally down with the idea that responsible politics of either of the usual flavours can mesh with a Christian worldview.

But the following remains a puzzle for me: How a Christian worldview can be responsibly meshed with the irresponsible antics of those who currently represent the Right politically in the US (and the UK).

Best for another thread, as you say.

That's why some of us who are both religious and political conservatives have had such a hard time recently here in the US as far as politics is concerned.

However, I would add, that the irresponsible antics of those who represent the Left politically-- to rephrase your comment-- would not give me any better hope for politics.  The so-called Antifa, who are really nothing but destructive anarchists in my POV, is a good example.  Many on the left have given them a pass, which is as deplorable as giving the Alt-right a pass by some conservatives.

However, as I've said, this thread is not the one for politics. :)
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MoominDave

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« Reply #2959 on: Sep 14, 2017, 07:42AM »

Matthew 11 text

Highlights

 - John the Baptist and Jesus communicate

Summary

 - Jesus sends his disciples off, and continues alongside them with the same task
 - John the Baptist is in prison; he hears of events, and sends his disciples to speak to Jesus
 - They ask Jesus if he is "the one who is to come"; Jesus does not give a straight answer, but instead lists his miracles
 - Jesus praises John the Baptist to his crowd, calling him the greatest of people, and describing him as a prophet and a messenger sent to prepare the way
 - Jesus tells off the people for finding JtB too strict and him too lax
 - Jesus talks smack about the places where he performed his miracles, but people weren't impressed by them

Questions and Observations

1) Interesting that John the Baptist also has disciples. I suppose this shouldn't be a surprise.
2) So "the one who is to come" is not totally explicit. But it's fairly explicit.
3) Jesus says JtB is the greatest "among those born of women". He (Jesus) was born of a woman. What's he saying?
4) So the places where the miracles happened weren't very impressed? This fits with the idea that what we read today are substantial exaggerations, designed to impress more than reality.
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Dave Taylor

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