Several Theological Questions

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Minerva, Jun 24, 2015.

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  1. I know, another thread about Religion, but this one is about Theology. I would prefer if a fellow Brother or Sister in Christ answered, but anyone is fine.

    1. People complain about how the books in the Bible aren't the 'True Bible' and how there's more to it. But, aren't the books in the Bible the books God made man choose for us to have?

    2. Paul Contradicts himself several times, is this because he is a man, and not God as Christ was?

    3. What happened to the Jews who didn't accept God almost immediately after his crucifixion who didn't even know about it? Were they saved at all? Or did God just make their traditions null and void at Christ's death?

    I have another, but can't think of it at the moment. Any help with this would be appreciated.
    #1 Minerva, Jun 24, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2015
  2. Oh, yeah, remembered the Final Question:

    Do works help us when we get to heaven? I know they don't get you into heaven, but can they help you in heaven?

    Also, if one renounces Christ, then later returns, will they go to heaven?
  3. I'm a former Christian, but perhaps you'll hear me out anyway. I'll work under the assumption of Christianity.

    Probably. Under the assumption everything is according to God's plan, the books we have are the true ones. God wouldn't deceive us just for the sake of causing confusion, would he?

    I'll assume you're referring to whichever books he wrote containing contradictions. While that's possible, there's no reason God would let his writers just contradict themselves. That's more pointless confusion that doesn't help either him nor us, his children.

    If you meant just stuff Paul said, yeah, he's just a human.

    Jesus specifically abolished the old ways, so their traditions would be voided. If they didn't accept God, they weren't saved. I don't recall ignorance being an acceptable excuse in the Bible.

    Paul says that God is the, "...justifier of him which believeth in Jesus ...By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law" (Romans 3:26-28).

    James states, "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only" (James 2:24).

    So they probably do. I don't believe it is ever directly addressed.

    For your final question, I believe so. As long as you have faith in Jesus you'll go to heaven since it's by God's grace, and not by works or anything else.
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  4. Alright, thank you, yeah. Anyone could have answered.
  5. Okay, so how about now a non-Christian atheist answers? Don't worry, I'm not gonna offer my own view, just some alternate Christian perspectives.
    There are multiple perspectives on this amongst Christians, I believe. I suppose the "traditional" view would be the one provided first by Kaykay, but obviously there is a lot of diversity amongst people of any religious affiliation. A newer perspective I've heard quite a lot is to view the Bible not as the pure word of God, but instead as the writings of fallible humans who were interpreting God's will. Therefore, misinterpretations could have occurred, or the writer could have been unconsciously biased in his interpretation, or he could have consciously added his own human views. This perspective believes that there is truth and the will of God within the Bible, but that it can oft be confused or obscured for the above reasons.
    I'm pretty sure the answer to this is an unequivocal yes. I don't have any handy quotes from the Bible to back it up, but hey, your faith is more than just that book, no? Renouncing Christ may be a sinful act, but the whole view of (traditional) Christianity is that we are all born into sin and are naturally sinful anyway. Accepting Him and his love and his teachings again cleanses one of their sins and grants access to heaven - I'm pretty sure that applies for a previous renouncement, just as it does for other sins.
    Again, depends on your perspective. If you're a literalist in your view of Christianity - i.e. "the Bible is the pure word of God and all in it must be obeyed" - then yes, everything was made null and void. As Kaykay said, ignorance is not considered an excuse in the Bible. But again, many modern Christians would argue that the answer is no - that God, being loving to us all, would have understanding in his heart for good men who could not have known or done anything about this. Having not been asked this specific question before, I'm generating this perspective from the view I've heard that simply accepting Christ is not enough to get you into heaven. Many Christians nowadays are, let's say, uncomfortable with the idea of a murderous, cannibalistic rapist simply saying "sorry Christ I love you" on his deathbed and still getting into heaven, while good people who follow other religions go to hell for eternity. So many of them have decided to interpret God's love in a way that means it is one's moral character that defines whether they get into heaven or not.
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  6. I know it doesn't answer your specific questions, but the problem most people have with the Bible is related to the fact they are reading a translation from several different languages... to get the fullness of it, you really need to read it in the original languages. Which, of course, can be a problem if you don't know those languages.
  7. Yes, but despite that, you are still getting the basic Gist of what was said.

    Edit to that: As with my first question, isn't that what God wanted it to say if he is almighty?
  8. True, but "The Gist" is just that... something is lost in the translation, so misunderstandings occur.
  9. Addressing 3 in particular with some historical context, used to be Missionaries trying to convert populations to Christianity (ethnic Hawaiians, for instance) flat out told them that the only way to get to heaven was to convert and accept Christ, and anyone who died before accepting Christ (once again, as others said, ignorance was no excuse) were damned to Hell, no questions asked. It basically boiled down to a civilization could exist for hundreds or thousands of years without knowledge of Christianity, and every single one of those people would be lining the pits of Hell.

    Fortunately, the vast majority of religious institutions today are much, much more progressive and loving.

    As for my own personal take on the matter, I'm agnostic but I maintain that it's not my place to judge if anyone's faith is correct or not; hell, every single religion might be valid for all I know. Since God is supposed to be a loving and forgiving entity, I doubt He would have punished countless millions to Hell for simply not knowing of his existence. I don't think man can understand or even speak for the will of a God, and that's why religion often is twisted into a manipulative weapon over human history because very bad people know they can control people by claiming to be doing God's bidding. As for the Jews who didn't convert, a big thing to consider there is that around that time, Christianity was still seen as a fringe religion if not outright heresy. Now, my knowledge of Abrahamic religions is lacking, but don't Christians and Jews believe in and worship the same God, the main difference is that Jews don't recognize Christ as an aspect of God? It wouldn't make much sense for God to save the Jews from the Egyptians and parting the Red Sea for them one year, and then condemning Jews to Hell because they didn't recognize His son another. Moses was also a prophet long before Christ was a thing, and he was given the Ten Commandments by God; I wouldn't think Moses would be in Hell because he was ignorant of Christ like any other Jew. Also, if Jesus sacrificed himself so God would forgive mankind collectively of their sins, would that not include those who never converted to Christianity?
  10. Firstly, the Bible makes it clear God is knowable just by looking at His creation. And secondly, "religion" is a worldwide, human need, it would seem... a desire to seek divinity, inborn. So, it would seem we have all we need to know God, if we desire to find him. Which is the rub. Amongst other difficulties. And it is not God's lack of love and forgiveness, it is sin and our unwillingness to turn from it. To ACCEPT His love and forgiveness.

    "Ask, and ye shall receive."
  11. Yeah, but that also goes with the whole thing where there's religions all over the world who believe in a higher power, and that's their cultural interpretation of it. While it's possible for somebody to see the world in religious awe, unless they actually have a Christian framework, they're probably "getting it wrong". While I certainly agree that religion is a worldwide thing that's pretty innate to every human culture, its taken many, many different forms that quite often fit entirely different molds. A lot of people have found God (plural, in the instance of polytheistic religions), but not the Christian one. Would they still be forgiven? Unfortunately, it wasn't all that long ago where the answer was probably "no."

    Basically, to given example, ancient Egyptians worshipping Osiris and Isis had no idea the Christian God was a thing, and for a long while, a lot of branches of Christianity more or less said that anybody who didn't accept Christ was hellbound, including everyone from cultures who had no contact with Christianity prior to the Missionaries. That in of itself implies that everyone from ancient Egypt (or insert any pre-Christian civilization here) would be in Hell.
  12. Hmmm... but then, you have to consider the Jews after Moses led them out of Egypt. Even though they'd seen God manifest Himself in their midst, they still made the Golden Calf and worshiped it, instead. So, I imagine you realize this is why we have so many other "gods"... even when God, Himself, has already revealed his existence to us. Hard, perhaps, to understand, but sin is sin, and "the wages of sin is death." The very fact God sent his Son to die for us, to cleanse us of our sin, so we could have eternal life with Him... well, if you accept, you belong to God. If you reject, God rejects in turn. Your choice.

    And really, until you die, one way or another, you cannot know who belongs to God and who doesn't. But you can know Adam walked with God in the Garden of Eden. So, from the very beginning, humanity has known their sin and the price for it. Also remember, even back then, God provided a means to cleanse a person from the death of sin, so they could be with him... not eternally separated.
  13. Interesting perspective, for sure. I'm not well versed in a lot of theology, so it's interesting hearing a more orthodox take on something like this. I don't want to hijack Paladin's thread anymore than I have, but I don't have anything more to add, anyways!
  14. People complain about how the books in the Bible aren't the 'True Bible' and how there's more to it. But, aren't the books in the Bible the books God made man choose for us to have?

    That'd be fine assuming there was only one Bible. But as Chrisitanity branched off into it's different divisions (plus let's remember Christianity branched from Judaism. Christianity wasn't always a thing).
    As a result the holy book has been re-written constantly to fit different people's morals, agenda's etc.

    Plus there's the whole deal about translation losing some of the original meaning.
    Do that multiple times over? It's hardly a surprise that original meaning is lost.

    Paul Contradicts himself several times, is this because he is a man, and not God as Christ was?

    Paul Contradicts himself because is a human being.
    That being said though, God also contradicts himself because he is the invention of a book written by men.

    What happened to the Jews who didn't accept God almost immediately after his crucifixion who didn't even know about it? Were they saved at all? Or did God just make their traditions null and void at Christ's death?

    That would honestly depend on the branch, and the extremism of the individual you ask.
    Cause some branches will have differing holy texts on such matters.

    But Casuals will also be more willing to ignore holy texts and simply go "Yes, they were saved. I don't like people going to hell".

    Do works help us when we get to heaven? I know they don't get you into heaven, but can they help you in heaven?

    I don't imagine so.
    Once you're in heaven you've passed the test, you're in paradise.
    A paradise where almost universally it's meant to be perfection.

    And if it's true perfection one would not need to do certain works in order to enhance their experience.

    Also, if one renounces Christ, then later returns, will they go to heaven?

    Once again, depends on the branch and the extremism of the individual.
  15. Alright! Finally, a chance for all my failed (and one successful) attempts at Religion 200 to pay off!
    The Books of the Christian New Testament are a collection of the written works that most closely reflect the beliefs and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. The full list has gone through quite a bit of revision throughout history. For a few hundred years, the official Bible included 'the Shepherd of Hermas', and now pretty much nobody except for Seminarians knows what that is.

    Paul was not God and never claimed to be, though he did claim to have met him.

    Okay. This answer I think requires a bit of Early Church History and may include some personal beliefs.

    Technically it was man who declared Jewish tradition null and void. The early Church had a bit of a disagreement between the Gentile converts and the Jewish converts. Some of the Jewish Christians (though mostly it was Jews from synagogues in Asia Minor who were mad Paul swooped in and took all the Gentiles they had been trying to convert for years) were insisting to the Gentile Christians had to become Jewish first before fully becoming Christians, and that meant circumcision (which was the reason they hadn't fully converted to Judaism in the first place). The Apostles largely said that becoming Jewish was not necessary, and to drive the point home, started distancing themselves from Jewish Tradition. That, and Jerusalem was destroyed and it's people scattered a few years later, along with most of the Christians from Jewish Traditions.

    As for if they go to heaven or not, I dunno. I like to think that anyone who hasn't been given an opportunity in life to become christian for any reason gets a chance to convert at the Pearly Gates.
    Everything beyond the Pearly Gates is the realm of religion jokes and pure speculation. I was raised to believe that we all praise God in a never-ending church service where everybody's happy and equal in God's sight and we're all married to everyone (ie. Matthew 22:28-30) and blah blee bloo etc. so once you're in, you're good.
    Prodigal son, much?
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  16. 1. People have different ideas of Canon. I personally accept most of what you'd find in a Protestant Canon to And I'd be cautious about accepting other books as divine truth like the bible is.

    2. Paul was not God, and never claimed to be. He is fallible. Though I would need specific examples.

    3. Didn't know about it? Probably nothing. God is generally forgiving to people he thinks aren't able to know better. For example, in the old testament, the Arc of the Covenant falls into the hands of a non-Jewish culture. They decide to give it back after they get the memo that God doesn't want them to have it. They don't know Jewish customs when it comes to handling it, but aren't punished for it as they're treating it in a way that'd be respectful in the context of their culture. A group of Jews try handling it the same way the pagans did, and are instantly killed.

    4. I would say largely not. On an eternal scale, your works actually don't matter that much (your only reward for being good on Earth is that you have more fun things to reminisce over in Heaven. If you spent most of your life on Earth being an asswipe, you'll spend eternity in Heaven being ashamed of your past life and trying to distance yourself from it. You'll probably succeed, though, as 20 billion years makes anything feel like water under the bridge). I don't believe a genuinely evil person can be truly faithful at the same time, so I guess there's that.
  17. 1. The Bible is the True Word of God. The Word of God is inspired by God Himself. Because He is the Almighty, I believe that He would not allow the Bible to be placed with uninspired works. That being said, that doesn't mean there aren't those who have attempted to do so. Rather, I believe that there will always be at least one copy of the True Word of God in the world (obviously there will be more than one). Personally, I think the Protestant Bible (the most traditional and common one with 66 books) is the correct one due to historical context and other reasons that are too complicated for me to explain at 11:30PM.
    2. Can you specifically name some of those contradictions so I can better answer your question?
    3. One thing is that there would have been very few Jews who did not know about Jesus. And, even so, most of them condoned His Death. When the veil at the Holy of Holies split, that once and for all made the Jewish traditions null and void. Sadly, ignorance is not an excuse because you can see God in His Own Creation (there's an actual verse for that, but I can't remember the reference).
    4. The Bible says that, when we reach heaven, we will be seen at the Bema. This is where we are rewarded for our deeds on Earth that glorified God. So, in a way, they do help you in heaven, but even a saved man (or woman) who did hardly anything to glorify God is still seen as righteous and holy in the eyes of the Lord. He will still spend eternity in Heaven.
    5. Yes. Your salvation cannot be lost at any point in time. That being said, if someone permanently moves to a different religion/lack thereof and never returns to Christianity, people often doubt if they will go to heaven. This is because they are doubting if the person was ever saved in the first place. If they are thinking that the person has somehow lost their salvation, then they are mistaken. Think of it this way. If you completely cut yourself off from your parents, they are still your parents. You can never change that they are, in all technicalities, your parents. So, in the same way, once you are a child of God, you cannot just stop being a child of God.

    I'm a Christian myself, so there are my little nuggets of information.
  18. 1. People complain about how the books in the Bible aren't the 'True Bible' and how there's more to it. But, aren't the books in the Bible the books God made man choose for us to have?

    Every book in the New Testament was written within the lifetime of those who bore witness to Christ and his teachings. I believe Scholars commonly attribute the writing of the first of them (James) to sometime between 40 and 50 years after the Crucifixion. The books included in the Bible would have been heavily debated and thoroughly gone through because among the first to read/listen to them would have been witnesses to the events of the time.

    Of the Old Testament the books contained were thoroughly learned and memorized by the priests over hundreds of years. Penning their history, laws and traditions. Priests were expected to be able to recite the first five books (the Pentateuch) from memory.

    As a whole the bible was written by 40 different authors from three continents over aprox. 2,000 years. To repeat and agree with itself so thoroughly and still be in existence and in use today . . . My only conclusion is to say yes. I believe that what we have and know as the Bible is the word of God and his hand inspired it's writers.

    2. Paul Contradicts himself several times, is this because he is a man, and not God as Christ was?

    To answer this I would need to know what you think of are contradictions.
    In general Paul's books were Letters to various churches and followers. He addresses specific issues of those cities/churches/individuals, and his instructions were very much meant for the context of those situations. Though I would argue that most of it is still very applicable today.

    Again, though, I can more thoroughly and directly address this question if I have the specifics of which passages you are questioning.
    I personally can't think of any that would qualify as a contradiction.

    3. What happened to the Jews who didn't accept God almost immediately after his crucifixion who didn't even know about it? Were they saved at all? Or did God just make their traditions null and void at Christ's death?

    This is a hard one to answer. The Bible does say that ignorance is not an excuse, however there is also the implication that as God can be seen in his creation that people are not ignorant.
    I Have hope that God make provisions for those that believe in him and Christ whether they know him by the names we use or not. One of my favorite illustrations is the one C.S. Lewis wrote at the end of the last Battle where the calamarine boy meets Aslan. (I can find that for you if you like, but it's a long scene and I'm too tired to summarize)

    If you want a real life example:
    I have a friend who grew up in an orphanage in India prior to her adoption into the state. She has told me that where she lived was very strongly Hindu in religion and she knew nothing about Christianity at all until coming here.
    She has also told me that she knew there had to be a "One God". Though she was surrounded by the believers of a multiple deities she had some how seen the world and come to the conclusion that there had to be only one. Upon coming to the states and hearing the bible stories, she said that what she had been struggling to figure out and make since of one her own suddenly seemed to have an answer.
    This friend of mine is someone who I would say knew God and was not ignorant, even if she had never before heard the name of Christ.

    I can't say for certain what happens to those that never hear, only what I hope, What I can say is that the Bible is very clear on what happens to those who are told and refuse to listen.

    4. Do works help us when we get to heaven? I know they don't get you into heaven, but can they help you in heaven?

    The Bible states that works with right motive bring glory to God and they will be rewarded. But I don't recall hearing that the nature of the reward was ever stated.

    I hope that helps, and if you want verses, or that C.S. Lewis passage, I'm always open to talking more ^_^
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  19. I'll refrain from asking this question. I don't get it anyway. Sorry. What do you mean or what do they mean when they say it isn't the true bible?
    if paul contradicts himself several times then we could take into account the fact that like with everyone else in life, paul's beliefs probably wasn't a finished work or "developed".

    he's done a lot of writings in his lifetime, as well as reflections and constantly finding the best ways he can serve christ, maybe he changed his mind on some things down the line. either way i still view all of this as important since they show us how these beliefs helped form, shape and define paul. basically we get to see paul's reflections in his life, kinda like saint ignatius (with the daily examen thing).
    also who says we can't find our own meaning and reflection from paul's writings, find what god wants to say to us in there?
    so there's that.

    as for the third question.
    my stance now, on god, religion, and the spiritual, is very different from what it was then. that's all i'll say.

    but i still grew up in a roman catholic family, and while their practice and exercise of communal life is very moderate, they're still very serious about their faith.
    that and up till i finished my secondary education i studied in a roman catholic all boy's school, run by jesuits.

    from what i was always taught that was how it worked yeah. when jesus died on the cross and was later resurrected he saved all of us. all of them. that's what i was taught anyway.

    that's my take on it.

    I'll politely decline from answering the second to the last.

    as for the final question... i guess we'll find out whether god will take in someone who turned away from him yeah. i don't know the answer to that question as well.
  20. 1. Even Christians disagree with what are, and are not, the inspired books of the Bible. For example, there is a difference between Catholics and those of Protestant faith, about the composition of the Septuagint, the Apocrypha of which are not accepted as the inspired word of God by Protestant denominations and Orthodox Jews. Most of the Septuagint, however, is included within the Catholic Bible. Without giving an entire history lesson that might bore any but the truly dedicated, throwing around Councils and Synods and the influence of St. Augustine, the bottom line for what is or is not included in the books of the Bible is both consistency in message and consistency in spirit (or rather, Spirit - the Holy Spirit). The Christian Bible is considered the divine and inspired message of God written through human hands, and Christians are not meant to read any part of it like a novel or a text book.

    2. The apostle Paul was, of course, simply a man like any other - was there some specific contradiction in his epistles you were referring to?

    3. What happened to the souls of any men in history, Christian, Jewish, Pagan or any other, is not for us to know, since we do not sit in judgment of men (or rather, 1 Corinthians 6:1 - 3 aside. The saints do not sit in judgment in this mortal world at least). We have the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, but that is the only specific instance of specific men I can think of that refers to a judgment of heaven or hell, and even that is a parable, a lesson, and not necessarily Jesus speaking of any particular people.

    4. Works are the product of the Spirit of Christ made manifest within the soul of a faithful Christian believer. Works by themselves mean nothing, but for the spirit behind them.

    5. I have no idea what happens to the soul of any man after he dies, but if he renounces Christ and then tries to return? I suspect nothing good, but that's not my judgment (or anyone else's but God's) to make.
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