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Christianity [OT] The Word became flesh and dwelt among us

Dai Kaiju

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Has anyone watched "creatures that defy evolution"? It was on Netflix at one point but it's also on YouTube. It's pretty fascinating. It discusses some animals that are so specialized, natural selection isn't a sufficient explanation for their existence. While an atheist might groan and roll their eyes at the suggestion that this is evidence for a divine creator, it would be interesting to hear what other conclusion they might have.
 

Bolivar687

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I'm finishing up the Wisdom books of the Old Testament right now and I was really struck by how Wisdom Chapter 2 is a bedrock for Christianity and for religious faith:

1 For, not thinking rightly, they said among themselves:*
“Brief and troubled is our lifetime;a
there is no remedy for our dying,
nor is anyone known to have come back from Hades.
2 For by mere chance were we born,
and hereafter we shall be as though we had not been;
Because the breath in our nostrils is smoke,
and reason a spark from the beating of our hearts,
3 And when this is quenched, our body will be ashes
and our spirit will be poured abroad like empty air.b
4 Even our name will be forgotten in time,
and no one will recall our deeds.
So our life will pass away like the traces of a cloud,
and will be dispersed like a mist
Pursued by the sun’s rays
and overpowered by its heat.
5 For our lifetime is the passing of a shadow;
and our dying cannot be deferred
because it is fixed with a seal; and no one returns.c
6 Come, therefore, let us enjoy the good things that are here,
and make use of creation with youthful zest.d
7 Let us have our fill of costly wine and perfumes,
and let no springtime blossom pass us by;
8 let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither.
9 Let no meadow be free from our wantonness;
everywhere let us leave tokens of our merriment,
for this is our portion, and this our lot.e
10 Let us oppress the righteous poor;
let us neither spare the widow
nor revere the aged for hair grown white with time.f
11 But let our strength be our norm of righteousness;
for weakness proves itself useless.
12* Let us lie in wait for the righteous one, because he is annoying to us;
he opposes our actions,
Reproaches us for transgressions of the law*
and charges us with violations of our training.g
13 He professes to have knowledge of God
and styles himself a child of the LORD.h
14 To us he is the censure of our thoughts;
merely to see him is a hardship for us,i
15 Because his life is not like that of others,
and different are his ways.
16 He judges us debased;
he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure.
He calls blest the destiny of the righteous
and boasts that God is his Father.j
17 Let us see whether his words be true;
let us find out what will happen to him in the end.k
18 For if the righteous one is the son of God, God will help him
and deliver him from the hand of his foes.l
19 With violence and torture let us put him to the test
that we may have proof of his gentleness
and try his patience.
20 Let us condemn him to a shameful death;
for according to his own words, God will take care of him.”m
21 These were their thoughts, but they erred;
for their wickedness blinded them,n
22* And they did not know the hidden counsels of God;
neither did they count on a recompense for holiness
nor discern the innocent souls’ reward.o
23 For God formed us to be imperishable;
the image of his own nature he made us.p
24 But by the envy* of the devil, death entered the world,
and they who are allied with him experience it.q

The only rational reaction to despair over mortality is to live in the moment. But living in the moment unavoidably decays into hedonism. And all hedonism necessarily entails exploitation, especially of the vulnerable or otherwise disenfranchised. When the injustice of bourgeois is called out for what it is, they resent it and begin to despise the righteous who tell the truth. Eventually, this resentment erupts into violence and persecution.

Of course, verses 12-20 have no better manifestation in real life than the ministry and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The chapter ends with an authoritative rebuke of the deceitful, that those who ally with the devil in his envy experience death, which I construe as mortal sin, acts that sever the link each of us innately has with God. This chapter stands on its own as a great foundation for faith, which we can build upon with our prayer, study, and charitable works.
 

Kenpachii

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Has anyone watched "creatures that defy evolution"? It was on Netflix at one point but it's also on YouTube. It's pretty fascinating. It discusses some animals that are so specialized, natural selection isn't a sufficient explanation for their existence. While an atheist might groan and roll their eyes at the suggestion that this is evidence for a divine creator, it would be interesting to hear what other conclusion they might have.
I will tell you a secret,

Nobody knows anything,

There are just theories.
 

Druz

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Still no answers to these Christian Gaf?Was looking forward to it...I’m a bit disappointed
There will never be answers. If you follow any line of questioning with intellectual honesty, you end up with "because faith." That's it.
 

Tesseract

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it's not a new or clever or interesting thing to say there's blatant issues with the mythos that don't align with this or that

welcome to the oldest story, light v. dark
 

lukilladog

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About the title, don´t you christians know that the word became flesh is plagiarism to Philo of Judea philosophy, a man that wrote a lot of books at the same time of Jesus, but never wrote about him, nor the earthquakes, nor the zombies, nor reports of angels and stuff.
 
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Tesseract

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About the title, don´t you christians know that the word became flesh is plagiarism to Philo of Judea philosophy, a man that wrote a lot of books at the same time of Jesus, but never wrote about him, nor the earthquakes, nor the zombies, nor reports of angels and stuff.
much logos many learn
 

Bolivar687

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About the title, don´t you christians know that the word became flesh is plagiarism to Philo of Judea philosophy, a man that wrote a lot of books at the same time of Jesus, but never wrote about him, nor the earthquakes, nor the zombies, nor reports of angels and stuff.
No, the idea of the Word becoming a person and of God incarnating into the world as a child comes from the visions of Isaiah. It also appears in Daniel.

You are correct that Philo would not have been an eyewitness to the aftermath of the Crucifixion, as he lived in Alexandria. It's likely that Philo's ideas are among the natural frameworks used in the Apostolic and Patristic ages to understand the person of Christ.
 

DunDunDunpachi

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The discussions of the early Christian church are fascinating and well worth reading and discussing. I recommend St. Maximus the Confessor's "On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ" for an excellent summary and investigation into the divinity of Christ, including rebuttals of the prevailing sects during that period of church history.

It's naive to look back and assume these conversations have only taken place recently. In truth, they've been a part of the church's history from the very beginning.

EDIT: oh and Ignatius, Polycarp, and Clement of Rome are generally considered good reading material.
 
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lukilladog

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No, the idea of the Word becoming a person and of God incarnating into the world as a child comes from the visions of Isaiah. It also appears in Daniel.

You are correct that Philo would not have been an eyewitness to the aftermath of the Crucifixion, as he lived in Alexandria. It's likely that Philo's ideas are among the natural frameworks used in the Apostolic and Patristic ages to understand the person of Christ.
He was also doing historical work on events in the Roman Empire, sure he heard something about earthquakes and zombies, and the man son of god that proven him right?. Also it has been said it is a rippoff not because of the concept but because of the almost line by line plagiarism of his texts. I agree they used his ideas, but only to make a legend out of Jesus, if he ever existed.

Ps.- I should have said Philo´s philosophy work instead.
 
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Ornlu

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He was also doing historical work on events in the Roman Empire, sure he heard something about earthquakes and zombies, and the man son of god that proven him right?. Also it has been said it is a rippoff not because of the concept but because of the almost line by line plagiarism of his texts. I agree they used his ideas, but only to make a legend out of Jesus, if he ever existed.

Ps.- I should have said Philo´s philosophy work instead.
Interesting. Could you please elaborate? What all did Philo write, and what years did his work cover? What part of the Empire was he familiar with? What was Philo referencing that was plagiarized? I'd like to do a dive into it on my own, and would appreciate if you had any insight as to where to look.
 

Bolivar687

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He was also doing historical work on events in the Roman Empire, sure he heard something about earthquakes and zombies, and the man son of god that proven him right?. Also it has been said it is a rippoff not because of the concept but because of the almost line by line plagiarism of his texts. I agree they used his ideas, but only to make a legend out of Jesus, if he ever existed.

Ps.- I should have said Philo´s philosophy work instead.
1. This is a logical fallacy to claim that the absence of an event in one historian's work disproves its existence.

2. If this is your threshold for truth, then certainly you must credit Roman historian Josephus for acknowledging Jesus' ministry and crucifixion in his works.

3. I have not heard of anyone plagiarizing Philo's works, so I looked this up. The closest I could find is a story he wrote that resembles the Crowning with Thorns. These stories have an disparately different context, with Philo's being about abusing a crazy person and Jesus being humiliated for his claim to kingship. It does not seem unlikely to me that this was a repeated form of punishment in the Hellenistic world. Also, the name of the victim "Carabbas" in Philo's story does not strike me as similar to Jesus' fellow prisoner "Barabbas," because that was an overt play on words, as in Hebrew it means "son of the father."
 
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lukilladog

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Interesting. Could you please elaborate? What all did Philo write, and what years did his work cover? What part of the Empire was he familiar with? What was Philo referencing that was plagiarized? I'd like to do a dive into it on my own, and would appreciate if you had any insight as to where to look.
If you google it, there are claims of how Philo seems like the source of many stories you find in gospels, Acharya was an expert on this:

 

Bolivar687

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If you google it, there are claims of how Philo seems like the source of many stories you find in gospels, Acharya was an expert on this:

I'm sorry man, but this is just not how argument works. First you had us googling your arguments for you, now you're asking us to sit through videos. I watched the segment you posted and the most concrete point is one similar line a piece from Philo and Paul, with the only logical link for plagiarism the assertion that Philo was very popular at the time because, he was wealthy. It doesn't even need to be said that Paul's writings were obviously incomparably more widely disseminated than Philo's. The video does not even tell us from which work the line from Philo comes from, let alone definitively dated as before the letter to the Collossians. Even if you were able to prove all of these things true, you still haven't overcome how all the authors here are grounded within the Hebrew Bible, nor have you come even close to the amount of material you would need to establish a plagiaristic nexus.

This is a community thread, not a critique discussion. If you want to seriously engage us on these issues, we can, but we're really going to need you to do so with a lot more good faith than you've demonstrated to us thus far.
 

Ornlu

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If you google it, there are claims of how Philo seems like the source of many stories you find in gospels, Acharya was an expert on this:

So, I'm not seeing anything concrete at all; this looks like someone with an agenda already baked in looking to reinforce their beliefs.

Your claim is based on the idea of a non-physical God, yes? If that's the idea that is to have been plagiarized, then isn't Philo himself plagiarizing Plato?
 

lukilladog

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1. This is a logical fallacy to claim that the absence of an event in one historian's work disproves its existence.

2. If this is your threshold for truth, then certainly you must credit Roman historian Josephus for acknowledging Jesus' ministry and crucifixion in his works.

3. I have not heard of anyone plagiarizing Philo's works, so I looked this up. The closest I could find is a story he wrote that resembles the Crowning with Thorns. These stories have an disparately different context, with Philo's being about abusing a crazy person and Jesus being humiliated for his claim to kingship. It does not seem unlikely to me that this was a repeated form of punishment in the Hellenistic world. Also, the name of the victim "Carabbas" in Philo's story does not strike me as similar to Jesus' fellow prisoner "Barabbas," because that was an overt play on words, as in Hebrew it means "son of the father."
Nahh, it´s not fallacy because I´m not claiming he didn´t exist, (I´m 50/50 on the person of Jesus... the sobrenatural part is another subject). Nevertheless the amount of historians at the time was large (you can find a list on the video above) and Jesus and the events described are just missing. If you want to believe in Jesus you have to stick to stories in ancient papyrus that can´t be corroborated by contemporary sources, that and some slipped in footnotes in Josephus work by later christians.
 

lukilladog

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So, I'm not seeing anything concrete at all; this looks like someone with an agenda already baked in looking to reinforce their beliefs.

Your claim is based on the idea of a non-physical God, yes? If that's the idea that is to have been plagiarized, then isn't Philo himself plagiarizing Plato?
The dates on the work of Philo are concrete, gospels dates are pretty much agreed upon these days and they come like 30 years later. You can say Philo was inspired by the greeks, and if you think christianity is just philosophy then I have nothing to say.
 

lukilladog

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I'm sorry man, but this is just not how argument works. First you had us googling your arguments for you, now you're asking us to sit through videos. I watched the segment you posted and the most concrete point is one similar line a piece from Philo and Paul, with the only logical link for plagiarism the assertion that Philo was very popular at the time because, he was wealthy. It doesn't even need to be said that Paul's writings were obviously incomparably more widely disseminated than Philo's. The video does not even tell us from which work the line from Philo comes from, let alone definitively dated as before the letter to the Collossians. Even if you were able to prove all of these things true, you still haven't overcome how all the authors here are grounded within the Hebrew Bible, nor have you come even close to the amount of material you would need to establish a plagiaristic nexus.

This is a community thread, not a critique discussion. If you want to seriously engage us on these issues, we can, but we're really going to need you to do so with a lot more good faith than you've demonstrated to us thus far.
Bro, all of his questions are responded :)P) in that video. You are showing bad faith.
 
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DunDunDunpachi

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Bro, all of his questions are answered in that video. You are showing bad faith.
Your original post was "don't you know about this second-hand source that said Christianity was a copycat?"

How much reading have you done on the topic beyond some YouTube videos? Additionally, how do you explain the early martyrs who stuck by their story even under torture and death?

Lastly, do you consider the accounts in the Bible itself to be pertinent information when attempting to prove whether Jesus was a historical figure?

I mean, the topic has been discussed for 2,000 years by millions of people. Pretty arrogant to dip into a thread, drop some YouTube videos, and then expect everyone else to do the heavy lifting.
 
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lukilladog

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Your original post was "don't you know about this second-hand source that said Christianity was a copycat?"

How much reading have you done on the topic beyond some YouTube videos? Additionally, how do you explain the early martyrs who stuck by their story even under torture and death?

Lastly, do you consider the accounts in the Bible itself to be pertinent information when attempting to prove whether Jesus was a historical figure?

I mean, the topic has been discussed for 2,000 years by millions of people. Pretty arrogant to dip into a thread, drop some YouTube videos, and then expect everyone else to do the heavy lifting.
I already presented the argument, don´t try to shot gun me with questions to redirect it.
 
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Ornlu

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Man, we get so many atheistic hot-takes in here, we don't ever seem to get into some Christian infighting!

...

I'll start!

Hot-take: Denominations are too split; should be consolidated along lines of belief. I think believers would find it eye-opening to sit in services from many different denominations, and would realize how small our differences are.

Protestants: Get your shit together. It seems like there's a new denomination created every week over some petty shit. Start blobbling up and quit fighting over stupid stuff. There's no reason to fabricate crises within a denomination and split over w/e issues are "du jour" this year. If you have a church/churches that don't mesh ideologically with the denomination anymore, there's plenty of existing denominations to join. Join hands and focus your energy toward spreading the Word, and helping those in need.

Catholics: Get your shit together. Ditch the idea of a Pope. He's an upjumped Patriarch, meant to be one of many, not lord of all. Get back to the basics. The Schism was some petty power play bullshit. Let's fix it. Reach out and rejoin with the Orthodox.

Orthodox: Get your shit together. You don't need an Ecumenical "first among many" Patriarch. Most of the land you once claimed for God, and Christ is now ruled by the sword, with Christians facing persecution and death for their faith. Get over the power struggles, reach out and rejoin with the Catholics.

Others: If there's anyone I'm missing....well, I don't know who you are, but consider yourself equally scolded. I'm sure there's something you're screwing up! :messenger_pouting:
 
It's been a while since I stopped to think about God/Jesus/Bible and all that. Grew up with it, and it's still in there.. just been pushed back for a long while.

Through all of my youth, I guess I became estranged to "religion" and "the church" and just went with the "personal relationship with Christ", which.. ehhh has been hit or miss. Easy way out I suppose. What are "you people's" thoughts on the important of Church/Religion in Christianity?
 

Bolivar687

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I'm going to provide O Ornlu the hottakes requested which I believe will also answer Captain Zyrain Captain Zyrain 's question above:

Jesus Christ clearly established a hierarchical Church (Mt 16:18) to which he delegated specific functions of his divine authority (Mt 10:8). He commissioned a priesthood (Lk 10:1) and sent them out as his representatives (Lk 10:16). He appointed their upper hierarchy (Mt 20:25-26) and entrusted one of them with leadership (Jn 21:17). He gave them both the power and the discretion to forgive sins (Jn 20:23). This structure continued as the Apostles chose successors to fill vacant apostolic offices (Acts 1:20-22). The Apostles clearly believed that you can't just read the Bible on your own and derive their genuine meaning, you need someone to explain it to you (Acts 8:30-31);even successful orators like Apollos needed to be corrected by those with teaching authority (Acts 18:26). The epistles of the New Testament constantly exhort their readers to adhere to the leadership of the Church and their first successors like Saints Ignatius and Irenaeus clearly showed deference to the Bishop of Rome as the head of the Church.

It's important for Christians to acknowledge and accept these scriptural realities, because we know from the Old Testament that God really does care about liturgy, corporate worship, and the consecrated priesthood. The entire book of Leviticus is dedicated to this , as are enormous sections of the surrounding books. A layman was struck dead when he reached out to balance the Ark to save it from falling (2 Sm 6:6-7). No one, not even the Davidic King of Jerusalem, could lead temple worship and usurp the priestly office for himself (2 Ch 26:18). When King Hezekiah orchestrated an elaborate gathering in Jerusalem to finally celebrate the holidays as prescribed, it allowed their prayers to reach God in Heaven. (2 Ch 30:25-27). I believe that what is arguably the pivotal moment of the Old Testament is when God reluctantly acquiesces in giving the Israelites the King they desired, despite wanting to enter into an exclusive relationship of Kingship with them (1 Sm 8:7). We don't individually get to decide who gets to claim ecclesiastical authority to the truth, we should instead submit to what God has designed for us in His wisdom. The second books of Kings and Chronicles show us that when Solomon turned away from these things, the kingdom was split in two, and the northern kingdom of Israel that eschewed the consecrated priesthood dealt with violent unrest until they were eventually conquered and carried off. It's every bit as disastrous for protestants to turn away from the ecclesiastical structure that God instituted this time during the Incarnation.

What you get in return for fidelity to this structure is access to the sanctifying graces distributed through the Sacraments. I actually don't know if one can really understand the Passion and Crucifixion without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Jesus gave us a way of life that was impossible - asking us to be simultaneously more merciful and more disciplined than humans are naturally capable of (Mt 19:25-26). The sacrifice at Calvary is the link between the ministry of Jesus and the life of his Church afterward. Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice so that, in the Eucharist, we can have the supernatural nourishment to live up to that high standard he defined. It's why the Apostles all of a sudden were now capable of fulfilling their mission and willing to die for it, when before they had all fled. Jesus is not an abstract idea or remote concept to apostolic Christians - we can touch, smell, and taste our Lord in the reception of Holy Communion. You can almost physically feel his blood washing away your sins in the confessional. St. John tell us that those who refused to believe Jesus could really give them his flesh to eat walked away from him and went back to their old lives (Jn 6). We know from St. Paul that the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist was the centerpoint of the first Christian communities (1 Cor 11:23-26). This is non-abrogable.

It's a serious problem to think it's okay or natural to have different denominations, because our Lord prayed for us to be one (17:21). I suspect this is why protestants seem endlessly doomed to continually subdivide among themselves. The Methodists are about explode in subdivisions over marriage. The Anglicans are also well on their way with their traditional denominations outgrowing the liberal ones who hold all the institutional power. We unfortunately see the same thing in Catholicism when traditionalists decide for themselves to reject the office of a particular Pope. In just 50 years the sedevacantists have already splintered into various opposition groups with irreconcilable differences. I sincerely hope for the unification of all Christians, but it can only really begin when we honestly turn toward scripture and begin to trust in God's judgment more than our own. That's what faith is all about.
 

DunDunDunpachi

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O Ornlu I agree things are too divided. I don't necessary think pushing everyone together and stripping away 100s of years of tradition in one fell swoop is the way to go. I think ecumenical love between denominations is better than outright blobbing, and it still fulfills the mandate "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another". Showing love (an action) in spite of differences in denominational beliefs would be the better path, if that's where Christ is leading the church. We aren't going to rectify differences in doctrine through debate and councils. Things are too split, but I believe this was an inevitable outcome for the Christian church. We all "see through a glass, but dimly" and so there was bound to be a splintering. How The Church comes together again will be an interesting (and historic) process.
 

Romulus

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I live in a home that's very Christian again after stepping away as an atheist.
It's incredibly difficult for me to entertain supernatural events. I'm not built to "just have faith" that so many mind boggling things have come to pass. I even saw aliens as more plausible because they're at least biological lifeforms from other planets.

However, in the last two years, three "events" have taken place that were absolutely, undisputely supernatural, by that I mean beyond human senses and understanding with multiple witnesses seeing and describing these events extremely similarly. I purposely separated the witnesses immediately after one event to make sure we weren't all crazy. We weren't. The descriptions were 99.9% similar between 4 people.

I don't want to describe the details because its lengthy and slightly terrifying(not necessarily evil), but I'll never understand it. Ever. I can try and convince myself that it never happened I suppose for comfort reasons, but it's not working so far.

It just blows my mind trying to sort it out. How in the actual fuck. There's definitely something there beyond what we can see and hear, that's absolutely my stance now, I just don't know what it is. Each time it was during prayer with Christians too so maybe they're on the right track.
 

DunDunDunpachi

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Pretty wild Romulus Romulus . Hard to say what might be going on but I believe that God interacts with us in a real way. This also ties into what Captain Zyrain Captain Zyrain mentioned: the reality of the Christian gospel is a relationship with a living god (at least, that is the proposal). The churches and the religious discussions within Christianity are a part of the whole but are not necessarily the route some people take to finding Christ. I would expect -- if Christianity is true -- that an adherent will sometimes encounter a very personal event that impacts their belief in God. I would also expect -- if Christianity is true -- that skeptics will sometimes encounter a very personal event i.e. Paul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus.

My question for you to ask yourself is whether you believe there's someone on the other end of the supernatural telephone that appears to be ringing in your life. If you are willing to read the Bible as a skeptic looking for answers, I recommend it.
 

Bolivar687

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I live in a home that's very Christian again after stepping away as an atheist.
It's incredibly difficult for me to entertain supernatural events. I'm not built to "just have faith" that so many mind boggling things have come to pass. I even saw aliens as more plausible because they're at least biological lifeforms from other planets.

However, in the last two years, three "events" have taken place that were absolutely, undisputely supernatural, by that I mean beyond human senses and understanding with multiple witnesses seeing and describing these events extremely similarly. I purposely separated the witnesses immediately after one event to make sure we weren't all crazy. We weren't. The descriptions were 99.9% similar between 4 people.

I don't want to describe the details because its lengthy and slightly terrifying(not necessarily evil), but I'll never understand it. Ever. I can try and convince myself that it never happened I suppose for comfort reasons, but it's not working so far.

It just blows my mind trying to sort it out. How in the actual fuck. There's definitely something there beyond what we can see and hear, that's absolutely my stance now, I just don't know what it is. Each time it was during prayer with Christians too so maybe they're on the right track.
You should look up Our Lady of Fatima.
 
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Ornlu

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O Ornlu I agree things are too divided. I don't necessary think pushing everyone together and stripping away 100s of years of tradition in one fell swoop is the way to go. I think ecumenical love between denominations is better than outright blobbing, and it still fulfills the mandate "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another". Showing love (an action) in spite of differences in denominational beliefs would be the better path, if that's where Christ is leading the church. We aren't going to rectify differences in doctrine through debate and councils. Things are too split, but I believe this was an inevitable outcome for the Christian church. We all "see through a glass, but dimly" and so there was bound to be a splintering. How The Church comes together again will be an interesting (and historic) process.
I agree with everything you've said here; with the caveat that there needs to be real ecumenism with an emphasis on unity. From what I have seen and read about, there is a lot of talk of ecumenism within different denominations, but not a lot of action taken. Denominations deciding to join together and become one body are very, very rare.

Here's a case in point from my own experience: I've served in church leadership before; I've served on an executive board, served as lead deacon, served on search committees, etc. I'm currently serving as a deacon and a youth leader. I preface that to note that in my experience, there's no real push toward ecumenism among the leadership.

In my area the two main denominations are the CRC (Christian Reformed Church) and the RCA (Reformed Church of America). On paper, they are basically the same exact thing. If you walked in the door as a worshipper, you would be hard pressed to know the difference. Yet, they are still two separate organizations because of a split in 1857 over cultural issues from an immigrant population that neither denomination holds as being relevant today. To me, as someone who didn't grow up in either denomination (I'm not from the area originally), it seems like it would be extremely obvious and painless to merge, especially as most of their churches all reside in the same places, and their beliefs are nearly identical. Yet, beyond some chatter and well-wishing, nothing of substance has really happened.

I'm all about having love for my brothers and sisters in Christ; I believe we're all in this together as a Church. We're a family, and similarly to how I feel about some family members that I love, I want to smack some of my brothers and sisters upside the head and tell them to quit fighting over petty crap.
 
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DunDunDunpachi

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I agree with everything you've said here; with the caveat that there needs to be real ecumenism with an emphasis on unity. From what I have seen and read about, there is a lot of talk of ecumenism within different denominations, but not a lot of action taken. Denominations deciding to join together and become one body are very, very rare.
Agreed, it tends to be a "nice" thing on everyone's wishlist -- like hoping for world peace -- that no one in leadership or on various evangelism/outreach committees seems to pursue, ever. :pie_thinking:

Here's a case in point from my own experience: I've served in church leadership before; I've served on an executive board, served as lead deacon, served on search committees, etc. I'm currently serving as a deacon and a youth leader. I preface that to note that in my experience, there's no real push toward ecumenism among the leadership.

In my area the two main denominations are the CRC (Christian Reformed Church) and the RCA (Reformed Church of America). On paper, they are basically the same exact thing. If you walked in the door as a worshipper, you would be hard pressed to know the difference. Yet, they are still two separate organizations because of a split in 1857 over cultural issues from an immigrant population that neither denomination holds as being relevant today. To me, as someone who didn't grow up in either denomination (I'm not from the area originally), it seems like it would be extremely obvious and painless to merge, especially as most of their churches all reside in the same places, and their beliefs are nearly identical. Yet, beyond some chatter and well-wishing, nothing of substance has really happened.
That's because merging would require humility. Churches in the West are incentivized to just keep gettin' along instead of reaching out to other churches. I would think that churches could at least come together during holidays and during outreach events, but this often leads to megachurches swallowing up smaller church communities, especially evangelical/protestant churches that lack a strong tradition behind it.

I'm all about having love for my brothers and sisters in Christ; I believe we're all in this together as a Church. We're a family, and similarly to how I feel about some family members that I love, I want to smack some of my brothers and sisters upside the head and tell them to quit fighting over petty crap.
Agreed, but I think this comes from an over-reliance on denominational tradition/bylaws and a lack of personal commitment. You can spend your whole life trying to "build up the church" from within and it amounts to nothing at all. Churches don't even do a good job of building connection between church members and holding the church community accountable. The individual action of Christian believers is the fuel for church activity. I don't expect the modern church to lead effectively.
 
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Tom Holland & AC Grayling - Did Christianity give us our human values?

"Belief in the dignity, value and equality of human beings has become a cornerstone of Western societies. But how did those values arise? [Agnostic] Tom Holland’s book Dominion tells the story of how Christianity, came to positively shape the values of human dignity and equality the Western World. He debates with atheist philosopher AC Grayling, a Humanist who is critical of the place of religion in society." (12/6/19)

 
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I'm personally an Atheist, and to my great shame when I was younger I was quite a little bastard about it. As I grew older I came to the startling realization that pretty much everything I had negatively pinned on religion is really just human nature. Going through a rather dark time in my life (post college, crappy food service job, living with parents, too much booze) has left me with a certain level of humility that I never had when I was young now that things are going well for me. At this point in my life I find myself closer to my Christian brothers and sisters in life than I do most of the fellow Atheists I know.

A couple of points I'd like to make.

1. Religious-inspired architecture is absolutely beautiful. One of these days I desperately want to vacation in Rome, and I swear I'm going to devote a lot of time in the Vatican. St. Peter's Bassilica is one of the greatest works of art in existence. I was also as heartbroken by the Notre Dame fire as anybody. I think I can finally pin down the feeling I had during the spire's fall, it felt like 9/11.

2. Secular Pro-Life allies exist. We will happily stand and fight right beside you, and largely for the same reasons. Children are a society's greatest treasure, their protection is paramount.

3. This took me a long time to accept, and honestly I'm still forming a complete opinion about it. I don't think Atheists have a universal moral compass. I feel that I have internalized the aspects of liberal Western society as my own personal ethical framework, and I'd be lying to myself if I failed to recognize the fundamental part that Judeo-Christian culture played in the development of Western civilization. So as an Atheist I can colloquially say, "Thank God I live in a Judeo-Christian society," as obstensibly Atheist societies that have ever been tried in human history tend to have people lined against a wall and shot.

You guys keep being true to yourselves, don't let assholes like a younger me get to you.