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  1. #41
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    Re: The Word of God?

    Quote Originally Posted by Allocutus View Post
    Because a single gap breaks the chain.
    This stops the lineage being accurate how? For example were I to tell you my grandfather is Peter and his grandfather was John do you have reason to suspect me simply by virtue of me leaving out my father and my great grandfather?

    Quote Originally Posted by Allocutus View Post
    Because a perfect being does everything perfectly.
    Why is it more perfect to have every single member of the line in there. The list existed before it was written down as an oral account in all probability. There is much scholarly work in to how those lists are well designed for oral memory (I can find you links if you like, I'm sure there's resources for it on the web I can dig up rather than just having to cite you books). Thus it seems that having the shortened, less cumbersome lists is more useful than an exhaustive list of names that would have meant nothing to contemporaries. By contrast giving lists of people that are at least slightly more important makes it easier to remember and allows structure by deciding how many people want to be put in the list. Is a more useful list not more "perfect"?


    Quote Originally Posted by Allocutus View Post
    Well no, it wasn't because there are obvious inconsistencies in the chain. And since there are inconsistencies, there are GAPS.
    Accepting the Jewish customs of leaving gaps in lineages for the sake of ease of memory how do you intend to prove the lists are inconsistent? As for the gaps see above.

    Quote Originally Posted by Allocutus View Post
    Skeptics say that the reason why the writers of the New Testament wrote these lineages was to manufacture an account of the prophecy being fulfilled in the first place. Pious fraud, one might say. I have to say that regrettably that makes sense, given the inconsistency between the accounts.
    The accounts cannot be proved inconsistent. As I've shown above. They are simply different choices of names. Once again forgo skepticism of the rest of the bible and look soley at these two passages. If they came from an otherwise perfect book it would be reasonable to assume that likewise every one of the people in both lists was an ancestor of Jesus. The two lists are simply of different ancestors as people regarded different ones of his ancestors more important. You cannot prove a contradiction between the accounts. If you take in to account the rest of the bible and regard it to be a standard historical source that is open to error, sure I see your point. Pretty much all ancient lineages are suspect. But that is extrapolation from errors as to where else there might be errors in the bible. It is not the same as proving that it is an inconsistency.
    -=]Eliotitus[=-
    "Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future"- Oscar Wilde

  2. #42
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    Re: The Word of God?

    Passed on orally, easier to remember, people regarded different ancestors to be more important.... Can you see you're not describing the word of god but merely a legend-like human account passed on from one generation to the next?

    Excuse sloppy format. Using iPhone ATM.
    "I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world" - Richard Dawkins

    "If you could rationalize with Religious people there would be no more Religious people" -Gregory House

  3. #43
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    Re: The Word of God?

    Quote Originally Posted by Allocutus View Post
    Passed on orally, easier to remember, people regarded different ancestors to be more important.... Can you see you're not describing the word of god but merely a legend-like human account passed on from one generation to the next?
    Sure I can, but you have to have the context of flaws in the bible as a whole to see that. You can't just look at those two passages and say:
    "They're inconsistent one account or the other or both must be wrong"
    because they could both be entirely accurate. Thus there is no contradiction between them.
    -=]Eliotitus[=-
    "Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future"- Oscar Wilde

  4. #44
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    Re: The Word of God?

    Quote Originally Posted by eliotitus View Post
    Sure I can, but you have to have the context of flaws in the bible as a whole to see that. You can't just look at those two passages and say:
    "They're inconsistent one account or the other or both must be wrong"
    because they could both be entirely accurate. Thus there is no contradiction between them.
    Correct. And I never claimed a direct contradiction between these two particular accounts. However, I have asserted (and continue to do so) that their indirect inconsistency is strong evidence that the Bible is written by humans and without DIRECT divine inspiration. This means that it can't be interpreted literally because it isn't word-for-word dictated by a divine source and is subject to human error.

    In essence, it isn't the word of God at all; it's just word ABOUT God.
    "I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world" - Richard Dawkins

    "If you could rationalize with Religious people there would be no more Religious people" -Gregory House

  5. #45
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    Re: The Word of God?

    Anyone want to have a go at challenging or helping me develop the OP?

    Could do with help on both fronts
    Politics and the fate of mankind are formed by men without ideals and without greatness. Those who have greatness within them do not go in for politics- Albert Camus

    I say violence is necessary, it is about as American as cherry pie- Rap Brown

  6. #46
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    Re: The Word of God?

    I think its gonna be a struggle trying to find a theist that can answer why they consider the bible the 'Word of God' with a solid answer based on reason. I have had many such debates with candidates for priesthood / ministry, and the best they can come up with (and I quote) is 'Because it just is.'

    Perhaps another question to aid the OP would be; Why do theists have such a lack of healthy skepticism about something which is so easy to manipulate to own ends? The philosophers out there can give some fine reasons as to why skepticism is a useful tool, maybe the theists can help out...


  7. #47
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    Re: The Word of God?



    Seriously though, since there seems to have been a Christian resurgence as of late, I was wondering whether any could offer a substantive answer to my OP.

    Cheers
    Politics and the fate of mankind are formed by men without ideals and without greatness. Those who have greatness within them do not go in for politics- Albert Camus

    I say violence is necessary, it is about as American as cherry pie- Rap Brown

  8. #48
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    Re: The Word of God?

    I'd suggest that, at least with two of those kept out, it could easily be considered done so because they present contradictory statements to each other and the cannonical gospel. Consider the standing gospel, then look at Mary Magdala's gospel where she's considered the favorite and Peter is immensely jealous. Then look at Judas where Judas is considered the favored disciple (can't recall ATM if Magdala is even mentioned in that one). If those were included, it would give an image of Jesus saddling up with his disciples one by one and saying, "Ya know I like you best though, right?" and leaving them to fight each other when he's gone.

    So the fact that they could present pretty contradictory views and teachings is one reason for exclusion.

    The other thing I'd ask about is WHY a specified selection is a problem? There's an unspoken Catch-22 in this issue. Through selecting specific books, we're left with an argument of "Well they kept all those out! What about THOSE books!?" and if ALL were included, we'd be left with an argument of, "This doesn't even make sense. Over here Jesus is traveling with 12 male disciples, and one betrays him, but over here he's got a woman with him, and over here his betrayer wasn't really a betrayer, etc and this is ALL contradicting itself".
    But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
    1 Peter 3:15-16

  9. #49
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    Re: The Word of God?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stormer View Post
    OK, first off I realise that this has probably been debated ad nauseam somewhere here before, but I'm going to revive it for discussion again. If you wish to link to a previous thread for support or the like that would be good though.

    The main question is: Why is the Bible in its current form deemed by most (if not all) Christians as being the 'Word of God', considering it was:
    • Written by humans,
    • Wholly compiled by humans AND
    • compiled (by humans) selectively from a large amount of 'candidates'?


    Specifically what I wish to address is why is the current list of Biblical canon deemed to be of divine inspiration, whereas others were discarded? On a side note it would be good to raise the fact that even today there is no consensus in the Christian world as to what should and should not be included in the Bible.

    Note: My knowledge on the selection of the current Biblical canon is far from exhaustive, so if someone a bit more 'clued up' on the issue would like to correct or clarify anything that may be wrong I would appreciate that.

    The Councils of the Fourth Century:

    Much of the commonly accepted Biblical canon was established at the Council of Nicea in 325, and formalised in the 'Damasine List' at the Council of Rome in 382, which stated that the Canon was to contain:


    See:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_rome
    http://www.tertullian.org/decretum.htm (Latin text).

    Now, I would like to know why this is considered to be an authoritative statement determining what is the 'Word of God', and more generally, what criteria does a purported holy document have to meet in order for it to be included in the Canon. Were the early church fathers, many motivated to seek unity among the early church in the wake of challenges such as the Arian controversy, the Donatists, and Gnostic Christianity really in a good position to be determining what is and is not the word of the Lord in a purely spiritual and apolitical manner?

    There is a strong case to be made that the reason many of the current list made it into the Holy Canon was due to it helping foster the unity and stability amongst a growing church and newly reunited Empire at a time which was far from stable.

    Can we really determine that texts such as:

    -The Gnostic gospels:
    (-The Gospel of Mary
    -The Gospel of Truth
    -Gospel of Phillip
    -The Gospel of Judas
    and most notably the Gospel of Thomas)

    -The Shephard of Hermas

    -the Epistle of Barnabas

    -Apocalypse of Peter

    -Epistle to the Laodiceans

    -the Preaching of Peter

    and no doubt many more, were any less 'divinely inspired' than many of the current books in the New Testament (especially when compared to Revelation)? The current make up of the NT seems to be from a pragmatic desire for consistency than some texts being from God, and others merely the teachings of men, who may or may not be heretics?

    Discrepancies amongst denominations:

    This article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Develop...Biblical_canon details some of the differences in Canon between the major denominations, with notable details being that the following books were:



    and also that the Orthodox Church includes:



    With such discrepancies in many of the respected Christian denominations, it is hard to dismiss out of hand the other writings that didn't 'make the cut' in the fourth century.

    Summary:


    First I will apologise for what has really been a post full of questions, and I realise this is hard, but what I really wish to discuss is why Christians can follow some of these works as the word of god, and dismiss others. Why are the words of some of these documents worth basing ones life on, and the others are heresy.

    What I want to know is, the next time a Christian tells me I should be living my life in line with the Bible and the Word of God, what exactly are they talking about, and on what do they base it.

    Cheers,

    Stormer
    Shalom Stormer, Good question. Please allow me to give you a Jewish perspective:

    Psalms 33:6 "By the word of G-d the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their hosts." ...9 "For He spoke and it came to be, He commanded and it stood firm."

    Whoa buddy! You ask how we know what is exactly the "Word of G-d" and what is not? The whole question fails because any Judeo-Christian theist will tell you that "everything" is somehow or other part of the "Word of G-d" LOL !

    Reference the above Psalm (which is the psalmist's way of presenting the concept taught by Gen. 1; namely that G-d created all with ten (9+1) utterances.). Also, for direct Christian purposes, you may wish to read the Gospel of John 1(for extra credit, please understand the Greek concept of "Logos" prevalent at that time.)

    So everything is permeated with the "Word". The question now is, what book and what message has enough of the "Word" revealed in it, to be considered a trustworthy guidebook for all time and every place, so the average Joe and Jane can make sense of it etc. Everyone has some communion with G-d daily, and so does everything. However, due to the coarse and crass nature of this physical world, the message of the "Word" we hear daily in our lives and surroundings can be muffled or corrupted. We need a pure reference point; enter the concept of the Bible.

    So that is the first answer: There is nothing inherently wrong with the Bible being written by humans, or compiled by them. They all have connection with His "Word" anyway. This answer works ditto for "compiled (by humans) selectively from a large amount of 'candidates' " At some level, all those 'candidates' were also connected with the "Word" as well.

    Now lets narrow this down: We want something a little more perfect.

    Moses: Good morning Master of the universe.

    G-D : Good morning Moses.

    Moses: The people want a Book with all your rules and knowledge for life! They want an authoritative version so no one will argue about it.

    G-D : But Moses: (Psalms 19:2-3) "The heavens declare the glory of G-d and the firmament tells of His handiwork. Day following day utters speech and night following night declares knowledge." The world and your life experiences reflect my Word. Isn't that enough? Go figure it out for yourself!

    M: (Psalms 19:4) "There is no speech and there are no words; their sound is not heard." !!!

    G: Oh. OK. So I will write all of my infinite knowledge on some tablets and scrolls and you will have it once and for all...

    M: How large would that be?

    G: My knowledge is infinite...I could provide the tribes with i-pods?

    M: What are those? Uh, could we have the short version?

    G: OK, here: (gives him two tablets with the 10 commandments)

    M: Hey, nice! But, well, umm.. you know, this kind of short list will have these people all chilling out and becoming like American society. Do you want that?

    G: Oh. No, that's supposed to happen in another few thousand years or so. So here, its the medium version: (gives him the Torah = 5 Books of Moses Gen. - Deut.)

    M: Sweet!

    So the first requirement for the Torah is a practical one. It needs to be available in paperback pocket version. Wanted: A short and concise guide. Just because there is a lot of available prophecy and prose authorized by G-d, doesn't mean we need to lug all of it around. What a shlep! So G-d gave us manageable data.

    Next, we need an authoritative one. So that's why G-d gathered the people of Israel at a mountain, in a remote spiritual location and gave them all simultaneous mass prophecy of the 10 C's and performed the Exodus miracles. He then gave the Torah to Moses and Israel in full view of the masses so their would be no questions on the basic text.

    But, G-d wanted people through history to be able to still commune with Him and perhaps have a chance to express their prophecies in writing as well. Yet, G-d didn't want to make repeat performances of the Sinai revelation every 20 years either. So we needed a fair system by which we could have some more additions to Scripture while following the rules of 1) Brevity 2) Publicly recognized authority and authenticity 3) Poetic license to man (after all, it isn't fun just to take dictation!)

    1) Brevity: The leaders of Israel through the generations have been given rules to keep the canon brief. The 5 Books of Torah (Instruction) can never be added to, or subtracted from. However, the Prophets and Writings (Neviim and Ketuvim) need some rules. So the TaNaK would not be treated equally with respect to all parts of it. Only Torah was rigid. Only Torah was the exact dictated Word of G-d. Books of Navi would be less rigid, and Ketuvim even less so. Yet they still needed brevity!

    a) So, not all prophecies from the Jewish prophets would be written down into the canon. There was no room. So, only a prophecy that had a relevant message for all generations were to be included. Other prophecies that were nice and true, but didn't apply as a worldwide and timeless teaching of wisdom, were excluded.

    b) Also, Writings that were deemed politically dangerous, or too hard for the layman to understand, or too contradictory on their face etc were excluded from the canon. Ditto for things that were deemed too repetitive.

    c) At the time of Esther (circa 250BCE) basic prophecy ceased from Israel and the canon was closed once and for all by order of G-d's revelation to the Men of the Great Assembly (who were sages and prophets of that time).

    So, other candidates may have been holy works of G-d etc, but there was a limit on space in the canon.

    2) Authority: Authority and authenticity for later prophecy after Moses is discussed in Deut. 18. The text says there that a prophet will be known if he can demonstrate accurate predictions of future events. According to Jewish law, if a prophet is tested by this a few times and he also is still faithful to Torah law, then his words are proven.

    3) Poetic License: Finally, it should be noted that G-d wants us to have books written by men and women; men and not angels, men and not exclusively G-d. The world was made so we can partner with our Creator. It wasn't created for mindless automatons. Therefore, G-d allows and wants Prophecy and Writing to reflect the soul and art of the prophets and sages involved in the work too.

    I hope this helps. Blessings, DAK
    An idealist is willing to suffer for what they believe in.

    A fanatic is willing to make others suffer for what they believe in.

  10. #50
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    Re: The Word of God?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Hyde View Post
    I'd suggest that, at least with two of those kept out, it could easily be considered done so because they present contradictory statements to each other and the cannonical gospel. Consider the standing gospel, then look at Mary Magdala's gospel where she's considered the favorite and Peter is immensely jealous. Then look at Judas where Judas is considered the favored disciple (can't recall ATM if Magdala is even mentioned in that one). If those were included, it would give an image of Jesus saddling up with his disciples one by one and saying, "Ya know I like you best though, right?" and leaving them to fight each other when he's gone.

    So the fact that they could present pretty contradictory views and teachings is one reason for exclusion.
    I see what you are saying, and it makes sense one one level, but doesn't this still mean that the fourth century chuch selected these gospels for their own reasons of consistency rather than actually having a substantive reason to differentiate between which books were written because God had been whispering in their ear, and which had been written after someone had a few too many of the colourful mushrooms down by the Sea of Galilee.

    Even if those two are taken to be not divinely inspired, that still leaves the many other books out there listed. Do you really think that conformity with the fourth century church's blueprint for what their religion should teach should be the determinent for what people have actually recieved divine inspiration?


    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Hyde View Post
    The other thing I'd ask about is WHY a specified selection is a problem? There's an unspoken Catch-22 in this issue. Through selecting specific books, we're left with an argument of "Well they kept all those out! What about THOSE books!?" and if ALL were included, we'd be left with an argument of, "This doesn't even make sense. Over here Jesus is traveling with 12 male disciples, and one betrays him, but over here he's got a woman with him, and over here his betrayer wasn't really a betrayer, etc and this is ALL contradicting itself".
    There are contradictions in the current canon itself, so it is not like it is completely consistent and accurate anyway.

    The importance lies in the claim that it is the "Word of God", and the guide by which humanity should live their life. If it was not selected because of actual divine inspiration, but rather to maintain conformity, then I don't think it is appropriate to label it as God's word.

    Also, how do you get past the fact that some denominations find it appropriate to include some books whereas others don't? Shouldn't what is and what isn't God's word have an objective standard, and not be judged by politcal expediencies?

    Jeez can't remember the last time I was involved in a debate with you, might have been back in the Vamp_IQ days


    And RabbiDak I appreciate that post of yours, I will address it as soon as time allows.
    Politics and the fate of mankind are formed by men without ideals and without greatness. Those who have greatness within them do not go in for politics- Albert Camus

    I say violence is necessary, it is about as American as cherry pie- Rap Brown

  11. #51
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    Re: The Word of God?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stormer View Post
    Do you really think that conformity with the fourth century church's blueprint for what their religion should teach should be the determinent for what people have actually recieved divine inspiration?
    I would argue that you'd have to examine the texts independently and compare/contrast them to the traditional canon. Keep in mind that the original texts, the Old Testament, is largely one coherent, continuous, narrative. Outside some Kabbalistic writings like the Lilith Myth or Solomon obtaining a "ring of power" to control demons and build the 1st Temple, the Book of Raziel (all of which were held as part of a Jewish Mysticism and not meant to be part of the original canon), the rest are one long story. The New Testament is much the same in that respect.
    Quote Originally Posted by Stormer View Post
    There are contradictions in the current canon itself, so it is not like it is completely consistent and accurate anyway.
    And those apparent contradictions, Judas dying in different ways in different places, the disciples dying in different places in different ways, etc, don't really affect the overall teaching or meaning, whereas some of the other texts DO. IIRC, the Gospel of Thomas Jesus speaks that the Kingdom of Heaven is more or less a state of mind rather than an actual place, which DOES present a different and contradictory teaching than the traditional canon. In that respect, consistency and accuracy does still matter in the same vein I mentioned earlier.
    Quote Originally Posted by Stormer View Post
    The importance lies in the claim that it is the "Word of God", and the guide by which humanity should live their life. If it was not selected because of actual divine inspiration, but rather to maintain conformity, then I don't think it is appropriate to label it as God's word.
    It could argued that maintaining consistency and accuracy as best as possible is a method for keeping God's Word as clear as possible.
    Quote Originally Posted by Stormer View Post
    Also, how do you get past the fact that some denominations find it appropriate to include some books whereas others don't? Shouldn't what is and what isn't God's word have an objective standard, and not be judged by politcal expediencies?
    Consider what I've said so far and it's not unreasonable to suggest that in that instance there IS objective standard and the religious and political rationales happened to intertwine.
    Quote Originally Posted by Stormer View Post
    Jeez can't remember the last time I was involved in a debate with you, might have been back in the Vamp_IQ days
    Too long to go without a disagreement.
    But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
    1 Peter 3:15-16

  12. #52
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    Re: The Word of God?

    Sorry for the delay, I'm useless I know .

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Hyde View Post
    I would argue that you'd have to examine the texts independently and compare/contrast them to the traditional canon. Keep in mind that the original texts, the Old Testament, is largely one coherent, continuous, narrative. Outside some Kabbalistic writings like the Lilith Myth or Solomon obtaining a "ring of power" to control demons and build the 1st Temple, the Book of Raziel (all of which were held as part of a Jewish Mysticism and not meant to be part of the original canon), the rest are one long story. The New Testament is much the same in that respect.
    So what you are saying is that if it seems like it's carrying on with the conventional story then it must be the word of God? I might be missing something here but that seems a bit circular.

    The whole reason Jesus is such a big deal was because of how revolutionary his teachings were, I mean hell he was killed for it. There are some pretty big breaks from the original canon.

    The four accepted gospels are not telling the EXACT same stories either, I recall Rogue Cardinal making the point about divergences in the Easter Story, I can try and dig up the thread if you wish?

    On top of this, we have the fact that Gnostic Christianity was not an isolated cult, and they had a very different idea to the conventional church, including the omitted gospels. To them this fit with their interpretation of the original texts, just not with the Church authorities.

    And then you have random stuff like Revelation, how do you reconcile that with the original stories?

    The New Testament is NOT that conventional when compared with the Old Testament, it seems like it was just 'conventional enough' to be acceptable for the original church fathers without accepting things that seem too revolutionary for their own interests. This is understandable but not an honest way for determining the word and message of a benevolent creator.

    And those apparent contradictions, Judas dying in different ways in different places, the disciples dying in different places in different ways, etc, don't really affect the overall teaching or meaning, whereas some of the other texts DO. IIRC, the Gospel of Thomas Jesus speaks that the Kingdom of Heaven is more or less a state of mind rather than an actual place, which DOES present a different and contradictory teaching than the traditional canon. In that respect, consistency and accuracy does still matter in the same vein I mentioned earlier.
    See above, just because it fits with their idea of what God SHOULD say doesn't mean it's an honest framework for determining what actually happened. It was chosen more for their own reasons.

    It could argued that maintaining consistency and accuracy as best as possible is a method for keeping God's Word as clear as possible.
    With so much human input and discretion choosing what this 'Word' is, how can you still maintain it is from God?
    Consider what I've said so far and it's not unreasonable to suggest that in that instance there IS objective standard and the religious and political rationales happened to intertwine.
    I could be misconstruing what you are arguing, but it seems like what you have argues is 'if it looks like it should be there, then it must be what he said', however the fact remains that there were competing claims as to what this was (ie: Gnosticism, Arianism), as well as the big fact that what Jesus was preaching was revolutionary in itself.

    It is just that what was accepted back then has become so ingrained as conventional, that it is thought it must be the norm, and it naturally fits in the big scheme of things. However this is seemingly circular or retrospective reasoning, and not an honest way for determining the word of God.

    Too long to go without a disagreement.
    Indeed
    Politics and the fate of mankind are formed by men without ideals and without greatness. Those who have greatness within them do not go in for politics- Albert Camus

    I say violence is necessary, it is about as American as cherry pie- Rap Brown

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    Re: The Word of God?

    Wow, I can't believe I missed this thread up until now... The OP is pretty much one of the main points of Mormonism. I'm not sure I could have put it together better myself. Nicely done!

    (as I just jumped in the thread, if I make a point that's already been made, feel free to let me know )

    Quote Originally Posted by Stormer View Post
    Specifically what I wish to address is why is the current list of Biblical canon deemed to be of divine inspiration, whereas others were discarded?
    And that is the key. The ONLY way to legitimately determine if something is divinely inspired is through divine inspiration. The political compromises of the third and fourth century were merely, well, political compromises. If the writings of men (Paul, John, etc.) can be spiritually authoritative in any measure, then the men who decide what is authoritative or not must have the same authority as the authors - ie they must be under divine direction (revelation), with divine authority (the priesthood). The direction as to what should and should not be in the Bible should come directly from God, not from the opinions and political compromises of men.

    It's truly a miracle that we have the Bible that we do, in spite of all the unauthorized edits that it has gone through. While there are some errors (and much that has been lost), it's amazing to me how much has survived.
    " 'God is not dead, nor doth he sleep...' "

    My mormon.org profile (if you'd like to know a little more about where I'm coming from):
    http://www.mormon.org/me/1KM4-eng/Alex

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    Re: The Word of God?

    How does one differentiate from an objective outside perspective, who has had divine inspiration and who has not?
    Politics and the fate of mankind are formed by men without ideals and without greatness. Those who have greatness within them do not go in for politics- Albert Camus

    I say violence is necessary, it is about as American as cherry pie- Rap Brown

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    Re: The Word of God?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stormer View Post
    How does one differentiate from an objective outside perspective, who has had divine inspiration and who has not?
    That's a good question. When I was a missionary, that was pretty much the first thing we try to get people to do - figure out for themselves (through personal revelation) whether what we were teaching was true or not. It's actually a pretty easy experiment, at least conceptually:

    And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
    And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. (Moroni 10:4-5)
    In other words, if you want to know if God inspired something, all you have to do is ask Him.
    " 'God is not dead, nor doth he sleep...' "

    My mormon.org profile (if you'd like to know a little more about where I'm coming from):
    http://www.mormon.org/me/1KM4-eng/Alex

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    Re: The Word of God?

    Quote Originally Posted by yasashiku View Post
    That's a good question. When I was a missionary, that was pretty much the first thing we try to get people to do - figure out for themselves (through personal revelation) whether what we were teaching was true or not. It's actually a pretty easy experiment, at least conceptually:



    In other words, if you want to know if God inspired something, all you have to do is ask Him.
    So the only way you know that the canon which you believe to be the Word of God is the correct one is through personal revelation?

    I understand that, but it is very hard to have a debate on it.

    Does this mean that people who have a different idea as to what the canon should beL eg. Catholics, are delusional, misled or what?

    What about conflicting 'personal revelations'?
    Politics and the fate of mankind are formed by men without ideals and without greatness. Those who have greatness within them do not go in for politics- Albert Camus

    I say violence is necessary, it is about as American as cherry pie- Rap Brown

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    Re: The Word of God?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stormer View Post
    So the only way you know that the canon which you believe to be the Word of God is the correct one is through personal revelation?
    In a way. While it's not my responsibility to determine what is canonical or not generally (see below), I can know for myself if what I am reading is truth.

    I understand that, but it is very hard to have a debate on it.
    True again... but not impossible...

    Does this mean that people who have a different idea as to what the canon should beL eg. Catholics, are delusional, misled or what?

    What about conflicting 'personal revelations'?
    You're right in that it gets a little tricky here. But which, of all the religions out there, actually seek revelation on the subject? I'm not saying Catholics are delusional, but, at least as far as I've seen, that's not what their religion is based on. How is a new pope chosen, for instance? By vote. Now, there may be those that claim that that is revelation - that God will influence the vote to match His will - but I don't accept for a minute that politics is God's vehicle of choice to make His will known. He always has (and always will) call prophets to do that:
    Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7)
    Which brings us to the other kind of revelation: the "priesthood line."

    Why two forms of revelation? One reason is that this solves the issue of conflicting personal revelations (at least within the church): you will never receive a revelation that falls outside of your responsibility.
    Be certain that the feelings are consistent with the assignment you have; for example, you will not receive revelation to tell a local bishop how he should perform in his calling. (Preach My Gospel, p 98)
    But that probably doesn't answer your question as directly, after all, we're talking about finding out in the first place whether something is true or not. You would think that conflicting revelations would be everywhere, but the miracle of it is that I have yet to come across something that contradicts what I regularly experience.

    That said, there's a limit to what my personal revelations can say. If you, for example, were to conduct the experiment outlined in my last post, and not receive a confirmation through the Holy Ghost, then I would have to conclude (and I could do so logically, because I have consistently experienced the results of the experiment) that you hadn't performed the experiment correctly (ie you hadn't been serious about it or you missed/misinterpreted the answer).

    But - and this is the key - I could not legitimately tell you "well, I've experienced it, so you have to believe anyway." That would be outside of my authority (in the same sense as my not having a right to "tell a local bishop how he should perform his calling"). I could encourage you to try again, but I have no right to receive revelation on anyone else's behalf as to the truth of anything.

    With this system, can truth be discovered for every individual through personal revelation? Certainly not through one person's experience (and that's what makes debate about it tricky). But the experience is open to anyone.
    To clarify, I am not saying that truth is relative to the individual - that's illogical - I am only saying it can be discovered by anyone.
    " 'God is not dead, nor doth he sleep...' "

    My mormon.org profile (if you'd like to know a little more about where I'm coming from):
    http://www.mormon.org/me/1KM4-eng/Alex

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    Re: The Word of God?

    Hi Rabbi, sorry for the delay, it's interesting to see the other perspectives such as that from Judaism and LDS, while not so much in defense of the original canon.

    Quote Originally Posted by RabbiDak View Post
    Whoa buddy! You ask how we know what is exactly the "Word of G-d" and what is not? The whole question fails because any Judeo-Christian theist will tell you that "everything" is somehow or other part of the "Word of G-d" LOL !

    Reference the above Psalm (which is the psalmist's way of presenting the concept taught by Gen. 1; namely that G-d created all with ten (9+1) utterances.). Also, for direct Christian purposes, you may wish to read the Gospel of John 1(for extra credit, please understand the Greek concept of "Logos" prevalent at that time.)
    I see your point, but the revered religious texts are often revered far above the words of all others, and in particular when a gospel claims to be presenting quotes from Jesus Christ they are referring to the direct 'Word of God', which is why I aimed this thread at the compilation of the Christian gospels.

    So everything is permeated with the "Word". The question now is, what book and what message has enough of the "Word" revealed in it, to be considered a trustworthy guidebook for all time and every place, so the average Joe and Jane can make sense of it etc. Everyone has some communion with G-d daily, and so does everything. However, due to the coarse and crass nature of this physical world, the message of the "Word" we hear daily in our lives and surroundings can be muffled or corrupted. We need a pure reference point; enter the concept of the Bible.
    Would you classify a DIRECT quote from a deity to be completely distinguishable from the 'word' as it may be found anywhere else, so that it is more than just a question of degree as to what has 'enough of the word' in it?

    So that is the first answer: There is nothing inherently wrong with the Bible being written by humans, or compiled by them. They all have connection with His "Word" anyway. This answer works ditto for "compiled (by humans) selectively from a large amount of 'candidates' " At some level, all those 'candidates' were also connected with the "Word" as well.
    I would argue that human error is an inherent defect which can affect someone's ability to compile the book which is supposed to guide the lives of humankind. Why else would there be so many different interpretations of what should be in this holy book.

    Now lets narrow this down: We want something a little more perfect.

    Moses: Good morning Master of the universe.

    G-D : Good morning Moses.

    Moses: The people want a Book with all your rules and knowledge for life! They want an authoritative version so no one will argue about it.

    G-D : But Moses: (Psalms 19:2-3) "The heavens declare the glory of G-d and the firmament tells of His handiwork. Day following day utters speech and night following night declares knowledge." The world and your life experiences reflect my Word. Isn't that enough? Go figure it out for yourself!

    M: (Psalms 19:4) "There is no speech and there are no words; their sound is not heard." !!!

    G: Oh. OK. So I will write all of my infinite knowledge on some tablets and scrolls and you will have it once and for all...

    M: How large would that be?

    G: My knowledge is infinite...I could provide the tribes with i-pods?

    M: What are those? Uh, could we have the short version?

    G: OK, here: (gives him two tablets with the 10 commandments)

    M: Hey, nice! But, well, umm.. you know, this kind of short list will have these people all chilling out and becoming like American society. Do you want that?

    G: Oh. No, that's supposed to happen in another few thousand years or so. So here, its the medium version: (gives him the Torah = 5 Books of Moses Gen. - Deut.)

    M: Sweet!
    So God gave Moses the 5 main books of the Torah directly?

    Sorry I am quite ignorant of Jewish tradition, and am wondering what books have been rejected from the Torah and for what reasons?

    So the first requirement for the Torah is a practical one. It needs to be available in paperback pocket version. Wanted: A short and concise guide. Just because there is a lot of available prophecy and prose authorized by G-d, doesn't mean we need to lug all of it around. What a shlep! So G-d gave us manageable data.
    Again, we have DIRECT intervention from God, not a council compiling a book. Also, I think I would need to know about candidates that did NOT make the cut and for what reasons.

    Next, we need an authoritative one. So that's why G-d gathered the people of Israel at a mountain, in a remote spiritual location and gave them all simultaneous mass prophecy of the 10 C's and performed the Exodus miracles. He then gave the Torah to Moses and Israel in full view of the masses so their would be no questions on the basic text.
    If this is the basis, then it is difficult to argue against something that has purportedly come directly from God, as opposed to being selected from the fourth century councils.

    But, G-d wanted people through history to be able to still commune with Him and perhaps have a chance to express their prophecies in writing as well. Yet, G-d didn't want to make repeat performances of the Sinai revelation every 20 years either. So we needed a fair system by which we could have some more additions to Scripture while following the rules of 1) Brevity 2) Publicly recognized authority and authenticity 3) Poetic license to man (after all, it isn't fun just to take dictation!)
    OK so now we start getting to some of the selective processes that can be examined.

    1) Brevity: The leaders of Israel through the generations have been given rules to keep the canon brief. The 5 Books of Torah (Instruction) can never be added to, or subtracted from. However, the Prophets and Writings (Neviim and Ketuvim) need some rules. So the TaNaK would not be treated equally with respect to all parts of it. Only Torah was rigid. Only Torah was the exact dictated Word of G-d. Books of Navi would be less rigid, and Ketuvim even less so. Yet they still needed brevity!
    First as an aside, would you consider the gospels of the NT are somewhat analogous from a Christian perspective to the 5 books of the Torah for Jews?

    I know you aren't a Christian, but I'm just asking your opinion.

    a) So, not all prophecies from the Jewish prophets would be written down into the canon. There was no room. So, only a prophecy that had a relevant message for all generations were to be included. Other prophecies that were nice and true, but didn't apply as a worldwide and timeless teaching of wisdom, were excluded.


    b) Also, Writings that were deemed politically dangerous, or too hard for the layman to understand, or too contradictory on their face etc were excluded from the canon. Ditto for things that were deemed too repetitive.

    c) At the time of Esther (circa 250BCE) basic prophecy ceased from Israel and the canon was closed once and for all by order of G-d's revelation to the Men of the Great Assembly (who were sages and prophets of that time).

    So, other candidates may have been holy works of G-d etc, but there was a limit on space in the canon.
    How would you compare this Assembly to the councils of the fourth century?

    Thanks for the input, hopefully his can evolve into an interesting discussion.
    Politics and the fate of mankind are formed by men without ideals and without greatness. Those who have greatness within them do not go in for politics- Albert Camus

    I say violence is necessary, it is about as American as cherry pie- Rap Brown

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    Re: The Word of God?

    Quote Originally Posted by yasashiku
    In a way. While it's not my responsibility to determine what is canonical or not generally (see below), I can know for myself if what I am reading is truth.
    So you have some kind of internal revelation that confirms what your religious leaders have determined to be canonical is the truth?

    What do you think of the original Catholic canon, for example? I'm quite ignorant on the LDS position, Mormonism just isn't as ingrained in New Zealand as it is in America.

    Have you tried reading non-Christian religious texts? The Qu'ran or the Avesta for example?

    Quote Originally Posted by yasashiku
    You're right in that it gets a little tricky here. But which, of all the religions out there, actually seek revelation on the subject? I'm not saying Catholics are delusional, but, at least as far as I've seen, that's not what their religion is based on. How is a new pope chosen, for instance? By vote. Now, there may be those that claim that that is revelation - that God will influence the vote to match His will - but I don't accept for a minute that politics is God's vehicle of choice to make His will known. He always has (and always will) call prophets to do that:
    You see, that is your opinion, which should not be a vehicle of determining a religion's canon. I'm not saying you are wrong, but you cannot make such a blanket claim such as 'he always has and always will call on prophets...'

    What about false prophets?

    The Catholic Church could argue that declarations from a pope could be a form of revelation, or that the popes fit into the role of prophets that other churches so revere.

    What about Catholic saints?


    Catholicism aside, do you think that the LDS church is the only on that seeks revelation?

    Quote Originally Posted by yasashiku
    Which brings us to the other kind of revelation: the "priesthood line."

    Why two forms of revelation? One reason is that this solves the issue of conflicting personal revelations (at least within the church): you will never receive a revelation that falls outside of your responsibility.
    I find it interesting that it seems to be the unique LDS canon that your position relies upon, not being familiar with it myself. How did such works make it into the canon, was it through a council process like Catholicism or Judaism, or a direct revelation process like Islam?

    As with your last line, what does that mean exactly?

    Is it that if you experience a revelation type experience that tells you something that conflicts with your bishops teaching, it is not actually a revelation but really a dream or delusion?

    But that probably doesn't answer your question as directly, after all, we're talking about finding out in the first place whether something is true or not. You would think that conflicting revelations would be everywhere, but the miracle of it is that I have yet to come across something that contradicts what I regularly experience.
    Again, I'm not sure if I follow you here. What about the teachings of prophets that are not in the LDS church, would that not come across as something that directly contradicts this position?

    Or are you referring to revelations within the LDS church? Are you saying there are no splinter groups within Mormonism?

    From my limited knowledge on the subject, I recall that there are a few controversies surrouding the LDS position on polygamy, for example.

    That said, there's a limit to what my personal revelations can say. If you, for example, were to conduct the experiment outlined in my last post, and not receive a confirmation through the Holy Ghost, then I would have to conclude (and I could do so logically, because I have consistently experienced the results of the experiment) that you hadn't performed the experiment correctly (ie you hadn't been serious about it or you missed/misinterpreted the answer).
    That seems to be quite convenient, saying that a revelation is not true unless it occurs according to this preconcieved method.

    I cannot debate the merits of your own anectodal evidence, as quite frankly I wasn't there and did not experience exactly what you did, but it seems to be quite difficult to try and claim that potentially all accurate revelations will only occur in a certain way.

    Is there no room for one to recieve a revelation regarding their faith which deviates from that laid out in the canon?


    But - and this is the key - I could not legitimately tell you "well, I've experienced it, so you have to believe anyway." That would be outside of my authority (in the same sense as my not having a right to "tell a local bishop how he should perform his calling"). I could encourage you to try again, but I have no right to receive revelation on anyone else's behalf as to the truth of anything.

    With this system, can truth be discovered for every individual through personal revelation? Certainly not through one person's experience (and that's what makes debate about it tricky). But the experience is open to anyone.
    To clarify, I am not saying that truth is relative to the individual - that's illogical - I am only saying it can be discovered by anyone.
    Ah ok, I think I see your position a bit more clearly now.

    It does leave me with one question however, what would happen if a bishop or other leader of the LDS claimed to have had a revelation which sought to change/add-to/or remove from the original LDS canon?

    Cheers
    Politics and the fate of mankind are formed by men without ideals and without greatness. Those who have greatness within them do not go in for politics- Albert Camus

    I say violence is necessary, it is about as American as cherry pie- Rap Brown

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    Re: The Word of God?

    Apologies for the ridiculous delay in my response; school is royally kicking my butt.
    Quote Originally Posted by Stormer View Post
    Ah ok, I think I see your position a bit more clearly now.

    It does leave me with one question however, what would happen if a bishop or other leader of the LDS claimed to have had a revelation which sought to change/add-to/or remove from the original LDS canon?
    Well, not a bishop (that's outside their authority), but if the Prophet or an Apostle were to do so, that is within their authority, and it is binding. We consider what they say and write (when speaking or writing in that context) as scripture, so naturally they have authority in that sphere:
    I find it interesting that it seems to be the unique LDS canon that your position relies upon, not being familiar with it myself. How did such works make it into the canon, was it through a council process like Catholicism or Judaism, or a direct revelation process like Islam?
    Much more like the latter.

    But, of course, the question follows: how does anyone know that they indeed have that authority?
    So you have some kind of internal revelation that confirms what your religious leaders have determined to be canonical is the truth?
    Exactly.

    As I have had repeated confirmations that they do indeed have that authority, and, as they claim to be the only ones on earth authorized to make these decisions, I accept that they are indeed what they claim to be. This is not to say however, that they have a monopoly on revelation, inspiration, or all truth - after all, anyone can get it. The only difference between them and anyone else is that they have the authority to receive it on behalf of the entire world, but it does not mean that they are the only ones that can have truth revealed to them:
    Have you tried reading non-Christian religious texts? The Qu'ran or the Avesta for example? ...
    Catholicism aside, do you think that the LDS church is the only on that seeks revelation?
    I've started on the Qu'ran, and I'm very impressed and curious about both the teachings and the way they came about. Obviously it contains much truth, and there is much that can be gained by studying it. I am also intensely curious about Buddhism and some of the stark similarities between it and mormonism. For mormons, the issue is not so much finding what is wrong about something, but recognizing what is right:
    13 We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things (Articles of Faith #13).
    Of course, the LDS religion is not the only one that seeks revelation. As you said, (and as I mentioned earlier), Catholics might consider the process by which decisions are made (ie councils) to be the kind of prophetic revelation outlined in Amos 3:7. The only assertion here is that the LDS Prophet and Apostles are the only ones currently authorized by God Himself to make such decisions, and whether that is true or not is verifiable through personal revelation. That said, they tend to say very little about what is not scripture. For example, this is a revelation Joseph Smith received about the Apocrypha:
    Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you concerning the Apocrypha—There are many things contained therein that are true, and it is mostly translated correctly;
    There are many things contained therein that are not true, which are interpolations by the hands of men....
    Therefore, whoso readeth it, let him understand, for the Spirit manifesteth truth;
    And whoso is enlightened by the Spirit shall obtain benefit therefrom;
    And whoso receiveth not by the Spirit, cannot be benefited. Therefore it is not needful that it should be [re]translated. Amen. (Doctrine and Covenants 90:1-6)
    In short, even with something as historically sketchy as the Apocrypha, much truth can be obtained by reading with the "Spirit" (the Holy Ghost) as one's companion - the church leaders rarely come out and say that a work is false, because almost everything contains some truth. If they attack something as false, it's usually a specific belief, practice, or behavior, not an entire text or religion. They do, however, make affirmative statements that something is true and binding.

    Now you would think that, with a system that's left so open-ended, you'd have all sorts of people with all sorts of contradicting revelations, as you said:
    What about false prophets? ....

    Is it that if you experience a revelation type experience that tells you something that conflicts with your bishops teaching, it is not actually a revelation but really a dream or delusion? ...

    Again, I'm not sure if I follow you here. What about the teachings of prophets that are not in the LDS church, would that not come across as something that directly contradicts this position?

    Or are you referring to revelations within the LDS church? Are you saying there are no splinter groups within Mormonism? ...

    Is there no room for one to recieve a revelation regarding their faith which deviates from that laid out in the canon?
    If I were to receive a revelation that directly conflicted with what the prophet said, for example, I'd have a dilemma: assuming at this point I've had revelation confirming that the LDS prophet really is the kind of prophet we're talking about, then logically at least one of those two revelations must be flawed. We would have the following possible scenarios (assuming, that is, that God does not give false revelation):

    1) This new revelatory experience must be self-generated or of another source (both are possible; satan can duplicate revelation)
    2) My experiences confirming the prophet must be self-generated or of another source
    3) Both the new revelation and the old ones are self-generated or of another source

    How to decipher between these? In my case, as I've had enough experiences to confirm the prophet, I would assume that #1 applies (this scenario would be akin to my discovering scientific evidence that the sun doesn't actually exist - a lifetime of experience would strongly suggest that there was something wrong with this new discovery). That said, I honestly don't have a good answer for someone starting out without such experiences. I honestly don't blame anyone for not taking this approach to finding truth seriously - I doubt I would, especially without the promise of conclusive evidence up front. I do know, however, that if someone does approach this seriously, coincidences will begin to line up, and, over time, will leave no room for doubt.
    " 'God is not dead, nor doth he sleep...' "

    My mormon.org profile (if you'd like to know a little more about where I'm coming from):
    http://www.mormon.org/me/1KM4-eng/Alex

 

 
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