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Reply by the "Heathen Gnostic", Part 2
Thanks again for an indepth post.
I see I jumped the gun. When you said to be continued, I thought it was to be after my reply. That is... you would continue by way of reply to my response.
> When referring to "Church Fathers"
> here, I assume you are talking of the
> "early Church", though there would
> naturally be differences of policy across
> the centuries. The inference is that the
> laity were not allowed to read texts from
> other sects/religions/philosophies, or at
> least were discouraged from it. That was
> probably true, at least to some degree, but
> I haven't read much on the area of Church
> censorship. I can think of a couple valid
> reasons why they might discourage new
> believers (especially of a new religion
> trying to make a difference in a pagan
> culture), though it would only be
> speculation. There may have been others,
> certainly by corrupt clergy who just wanted
> to keep people "ignorant" and
> under their control, as it were.
When it comes to religion, I view it somewhat as what is often used in law... Lack of disclosure is not telling falsies.
So an encouragement to read only literature with the Church's stamp of approval is not telling people not to read other stuff.
A fine line. Yes.
Also. There is the tendency of people not to want to read anything that might go against their belief - for whatever reason.
Same in politics. Democrats don't like reading Republican writings which go against democrats. And republicans don't like reading democrat writings which go against republicans. A seething takes place when it happens. Far better to avoid it all together. Right?
Religion is like this. A Jew is not going to willingly and with great enthusiasm search for texts which condemn their religion and show it to be false or built upon lies. And if they happen to stumble across such writing, the knee-jerk reaction is to deny that text as true and to proclaim it to be lies.
It is a natural reaction.
> Personally, if one has the time, I see
> nothing wrong with becoming familiar with
> writings/teachings of those with other
> beliefs and worldviews. It helps to know
> where other people are "coming
> from" and how they think, so that you
> can communicate effectively. Jesus and the
> Apostles certainly modelled this.
I agree. There is nothing wrong with studying other religions. And even with writings that go against your chosen religion. But as I mentioned above... people do not because it makes them uncomfortable.
> Also, if one is going to adopt a particular
> religion, faith, or worldview, it's a good
> idea to do some research on the history and
> truth claims of that "system".
So true. And even more so today. For today we have people calling themselves Druids while not having the faintest idea of what a Druid really is/was. They just think it is some kind of modified Wicca and is real old. Delving deep into the Druid history will show they cannnot call themselves Druids at all.
You also have Wiccans totally losing the plot. Blessed be, be blessed, yadda yadda yadda. Calling to the four points. Wow it is like so cool to call yourself a Wicca. Anyone can read a "new age" book and proclaim themselves to be a Wicca. Even join a New age wicca group and do pretend spells and the like. These people make real wiccan furious - just like you would be mad at people calling themselves Christians while doing unChristian things.
> I've been somewhat lacking in this area
> myself and have only recently started
> correcting that.
At least you recognise it. That is the important thing. A lot of those who call themselves this or that don't even realise what they don't know. I think in part because it might be "cool" to call yourself one thing or another, or because it sounds like too much hard work - they don't realise studying their religion does not mean taking a theology degree and becoming a priest.
(For the record, I am an
> evangelical, Protestant Christian. I don't
> belong to any denomination but do lean
> heavily toward a Reformed theology.)
Whoa there. THAT is a mouthful. Can I take it to mean that you don't actually go to Church per se, but rather worship in your own way and time? Trying to follow the Protestant interpretation of the teachings?
When you say, "Reformed theology" what do you mean?
> I'm not familiar with Gardiner, but I know a
> little of the "Holy Blood, Holy
> Grail" and what it claims or proposes,
> which you alluded to earlier. As I
> understand it, the gist of the argument is
> that Jesus did not die on the cross but was
> drugged, removed by the Essenes, and nursed
> back to health by Joseph of Arimathea,
> Lazarus, and Mary Magdalene, to which he was
> married. Jesus and Mary travelled around and
> eventually settled in France. They had
> children, and the supposed bloodline is
> traced thru royal families, secret
> organizations and age-old mysteries.
That's also pretty much the gist of Gardiner's writings. Although, since the time of the first writing of Holy Blood Holy Grail, other information has come to light. And the book has been updated.
Where Gardiner adds weight is due to his profession as a genealogist of Royalty. As he wrote in his book. What started out as tracing family trees for Royal families of Europe, concluded in the tree coming out of the House of Juda.
Gardiner also delves back in cross referencing with ancient sanscrit writings.
> I could say much about this, but I'll try to
> contain myself. I've already talked about
> the historical trustworthiness of the
Yes. And I have had my tongue in cheek go at those four points by which to judge their trustworthiness by.
I personally think the greatest problem is not what is written within the Gospels but rather with the interpretation of what is written.
For those with hears to hear and eyes to see, to me, are more so warnings or indications.... if you don't know how to read what is here you shouldn't bother.
Another point, while the
> "swoon theory" was for many years
> perhaps the favorite naturalistic
> explanation against Jesus' resurrection, it
> has many problems (and being drugged doesn't
> help) and was disproven by the Liberals
> themselves. (David Strauss is said to have
> dealt the "death blow" in the
> mid-19th century.) Most contemporary liberal
> theologians still agree.
Of course, most is not all. Which means, some liberal theologians disagree. And that is fine. Healthy debate and discussion amongst those who make a lifetime of studying the subject is good.
One other point. Apart from the "Swoon Theory" - I like that term - are the findings of the reknowned Dutch woman, whose name escapes me for the moment. I believe her findings involved the discovery of what could be called the Rosetta Stone for the bible. That is, a scroll(s) which instructs the reader how to read the Bible so as to decipher what is really going on. It just adds another prespective.
> Regarding the "international travel
> theory", of which this is one
> variation, it suffers from a lack of solid
> historical evidence.
To this I would ask... what kind of evidence would you be happy with?
Here's how I see that point...
Unless they (Jesus and Mary) had scribes travelling with them and made a big deal wherever they went, then there is little chance of any historical evidence of their travels. Just like there is little historical evidence of many people who existed in that day and age.
Not to mention, the
> variations conflict with one another. Even
> the authors of "Holy Blood, Holy
> Grail" state that, before they
> investigated the Christian sources:
> "Our hypothetical scenario... was also
> preposterous... much too sketchy... rested
> on far too flimsy a foundation... could not
> yet in itself be supported... too many
> holes... too many inconsistencies and
> anomalies, too many loose ends."
I would actually like to see the whole paragraph this edited version came from. For I showed in another post - the thread about how to read the news - how to make one thing appear to be another.
Not that you are doing so. I just like to read a paragraphs as a whole instead of ones which has been edited and the blanks filled in with dots.
> And after their research into Christian
> "We could not -- and still cannot --
> prove the accuracy of our conclusion. It
> remains to some extent at least, a
> hypothesis." (p.372)
Again. This is not in the new updated and revised edition of that book. And I would like to see the context it is written in.
> And then there are the illogical arguments.
> For example, since Jesus & His mother
> play a major role in the wedding described
> in John 2, it is held that it must therefore
> have been Jesus' own wedding! (pp.303-304)
Not in the new version of the book.
> In the Lazarus account in John 11, since
> Martha ran out to greet Jesus while Mary
> remained inside until Jesus asked for her,
> it is asserted that Mary must be Jesus'
> wife! At least the authors admit this
> argument to be a non sequitur. (pp. 307-308)
Again. Not in the revised updated version.
Gardiner's take on this (from memory) is more to do with I believe the water to wine miracle. That is... guests drank water while hosts drank wine. As the water ran out Jesus told the servants to serve the guests wine. Only the "boss" of the function could have such an order followed.
Only wives anoited husbands. And after a first anointing marriage did not officially take place until it was proved the woman fertile. Thus at Mary's second anointing, it meant they were thus married but also that she was with child.
> "we would be obliged to read between
> lines, fill in certain gaps, account for
> certain caesuras and ellipses. We would have
> to deal with omissions, with innuendos, with
> references that were, at best,
> oblique." (p.103)
Not in the revised updated version.
> Now, Michael, you didn't actually say how
> much of the arguments/claims in this book
> (or others like it) that you bought into.
> Given the highly suspect methodology and
> lack of historical support, it would be
> unlike you (I think) to give much credence
> to such theories.
Thank you for asking. I buy into it as much as I buy into the Gospels as being factual.
That is... I figure what makes more sense to ME.
Does it make more sense to ME that Jesus was a normal man who was head of a ruling family - which is why he was thus recorded in documentation - or that he was the son of a real virgin (as we know them in today's tongue and meaning of the word) and a union between a spirit (thus going against all physical laws of reproduction)?
Does it make more sense to ME that Jesus' use of the word "Father" were aimed at a real live person much the same way we call a Priest Father, or that he was in communcation with the universal energy some people call God?
Does it make more sense to ME that he was a normal man instead of the son of God - who knows all and thus would also know his incarnation would suffer through what the Bible writes? In other words, as God is all knowning, the whole episode with Jesus was a farce because He knew it was going to happen. And seeing it was Himself, He was thus punishing Himself? Doesn't make sense to ME.
As for disagreeing with stuff within those works. Heck yeah. I disagree with stuff. Some of it is asking too much of my imagination to believe. Just like some stuff in the Bible asks too much of my imagination to believe.
This comes down to what I wrote in my reply to Phil. Depending on what team we are on, we only see our own point of view instead of a neutral objective one.
For instance. While you do say some of what is on these types of books takes a "leap of faith" to believe. You don't ask the same hard questions of the canonical texts.
Such as... there is not historical evidence to say Jesus and Mary travelled into France. Likewise there is no hisitorical evidence to say Jesus in fact did physically die for real and then come back for real. We have, at best anecdotal evidence. But the Christian will not question the resurrection but will question holidays to France.
In short. Yes. There are things I disagree with. I just take what I can use (what makes sense to me) and discard the rest. Thus creating my own interpretation.
> Does this make you an
> critic/skeptic"? ;-}
Yes it does. Christianity, Is-lam, Judaism, Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism, et al.
I have acquaintences who are JWs. I was the only person in our tennis club who chatted with the Scientologist who played - and I was the only one he would talk to. Because he understood my stance... I do not care what religion you are... just don't shove it down my throat. If I want to know something I will ask. Apart from being brainwashed by Scientology he was a nice friendly guy.
I talk to JWs and Mormons when they come knocking on my door. Sometimes we chat for an hour or more. Sometimes they give me the lastest issue of The Watch Tower. I've also been given their Blue book and their Red book (interesting reads).
I have friends who are Moslem. Friends who are Satanists. Friends who are Christians. I do business with them all, including Jews. Although I will say, those who I have had the most difficulty talking with are the Born Again Christians - they seems "not with it" to me. Rational conversation was near on impossible.
I also recall talking with a Pentacostal, I believe it was. Nice person.
> I would be interested in what points you
> find positive about Christianity (not
> necessarily the institutionalized
> "Church", R.C. or otherwise). And
> any others you care to comment on.
What I find interesting is how similar Christianity, Judaism and Is-lam are.
Christianity positive points: As I agreed to one JW during our discussion, IF we all lived our lives following the teachings of Christianity, the world would be a nicer place to live in.
But the catch is... I don't need a religion to live that way. I can still live a life in which I do no harm, avoid gluttony et al, love thy neighbor and all that jazz.
I see too many people call themselves Christians who do not live a Christian life. Confession is not a "get out of trouble free" token to be played every week. It does not grant you the right to be a bastard/bitch all week long doing as you darn well please no matter who you hurt, only to confess on the weekend and have your slate wiped clean. To me, that person is NOT a Christian, regardless of what they were baptised or call themselves.
But this fine line of whether you are or are not, is what we see in the Gothic world. They have great arguements about what is and is not Gothic. What it means to be one. Whether you truly are one if you only do the Goth thing on the weekend. And so on.
Is-lam I find has some silly "rules." Number one being women covering themselves up.
In a time and place long a go, this might have been a good idea to quickly get a immoral society back under wraps. But today. Lets move on. Lets expect Men to be able to control themselves, instead of having a woman deny her sexuality and physical form - as if that is to blame for all the problems.
On the other hand... treating people equally... basically, Liberty, Equality & Brotherhood is a common theme within the religions. But alas not enough live by those three main points.
I like Buddhism's moderation and right ways. And Karma can just be another way/reason to get people to treat each other good.
To me, the label you claim for yourself should be based on how you live... not whether you underwent a ceremony or took an oath or were born as something.
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