What life should a Christian live to be Christian?

(Robin) #141

But Nicodemus was asking that question – and in a way that would suggest that he deemed that not possible…i.e., can a six-foot man with bad knees crawl back inside his deceased mother’s womb and then be born again?? He did not understand, and Jesus noted that He was not talking about that sort of thing – but about a spiritual event that is done by the “Spirit”,… otherwise, a person cannot have a new life – or enter Heaven at all…

In short, it was not Jesus who suggested that… Nicodemus, though a wealthy and respected member of the religious establishment, did not understand what Jesus meant by what He said.

“It is appointed to a man once to die and then the judgment…” that is elsewhere in the NT…While we are talking in this post about what it means to be Christian, the first point is the matter of being born again… which is not meant to imply reincarnation…

(Shawn T Murphy) #142

Why is it so hard to understand God’s love for all of humanity? Nicodemus was an old Jew who had lived his life under the old laws. Just like every person who grows up Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu or in any other non-Christian belief, God will give them the same opportunity that everyone in the forum has had. This is living life as a Christian, knowing that God loves all His children and that we are not special just because we could grow up in the only religion that will get us to His Kingdom.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #143

…and that would be a radical misinterpretation of what Jesus is saying to Nicodemus according to … well I bet according to just about every major church leader one could site in the last couple thousand years. That’s just not going to fly here, Shawn. It’s the same kind of confusion that Nicodemus and Jesus’ other disciples seemed to be stuck on that so often exasperated Jesus: they want “literal-speak” and Jesus speaks in metaphors instead. They keep thinking Jesus is talking about literal yeast or literal birth, etc., and Jesus keeps telling them “you’re still not getting it, are you!” (Although, I doubt Nicodemus was really seriously asking his “can I really be born again” question in any literal way - I think we need to give him at least a little credit - it was probably just his “thinking aloud” way of getting more clarification from Jesus.)

You aren’t doing yourself any favors in this forum by pushing things like reincarnation or “God = Zeus” or clairvoyance or gnostic revelations from the dead through mediums. I’m not claiming that there is never anything significant to mysticism - only that those who claim or push such specialized knowledge from spurious sources as a requirement for growth in the faith have very likely strayed in some significant ways. The church does need much healthy and hard criticism, to be sure, but there is plenty of material from within the corpus of received understandings available to provide that needed criticism. One doesn’t need to hear from dead spirits to provide such needed corrective guidance. The Holy Spirit working among the body of believers in wider community will (I have faith) be quite sufficient for this task.

(Shawn T Murphy) #144

Dear Mervin,
This is supposed to be a discussion forum and accepting of various viewpoints. I like to quote an acquaintance of mine, Edward Moore, S.T.L., Ph.D.. When I first met Edward he was an orthodox Christian working on his doctorate. Now he is a self-proclaimed atheist, due to everything he learned about his orthodox education.

We are talking about about what it means to live life as a Christian, I like to use his quote, because it is what caused so much conflict in his personal journey.

In his paper, Evagrius Ponticus and the Condemnation of Origen, closes with this warming statement:

“In closing, I would like to add that my interest in Origen arises not from any desire to start an Origenist movement in the Orthodox Church, or anything of the sort, rather, my goal is to urge Christians of an intellectual bent to examine, philosophically, doctrines of the Church that are harmful to the noble ideal of absolute human freedom, and also to call for compassion for sinners. No doctrine, in my view, shows more compassion for sinners than apokatastasis – a product of an intellect so inflamed with love for his fellow creatures that he could not even admit that the devil is damned forever.”

This is orthodox heresy and led him to doubt his beliefs.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #145

No doubt there are many who have left the faith for various good or bad reasons. But if you hope to persuade Christians (or others) here to accept what you affectionately call “apokatastasis” (which is already a radical claim for many Christians today) then you don’t help your cause by also throwing in with it reincarnation, archangel incarnations and marriages with ancient Greeks and the like. This is about like entering a convention of skeptics and when being rebuffed about trying to convince them that ESP really works, you decide to “bolster” your argument by informing them that you are a unicorn rancher and they are invited to come out and see the farm.

(Shawn T Murphy) #146

Dear Mervin,
From my observations in this forum, the theists are most active, not the scientists. The message that I bring to this forum is that the founders of Science were actually Christians. From Homer through Socrates, the enlightened Greeks were preparing for the coming of Jesus - the Logos, the Eros and the Sophia. The Word, Love and Wisdom of God. And this was the basis of Platonism.

Plato taught Euclid, Pythagoras, Democritus and all the founders of science, along side the philosophy of Socrates - all in harmony with each other. Origen continued this tradition when he demonstrated the harmony between Platonism and Christianity in the Stromata.

Why would you object to me attempting to show scientists that logic, reason and Christianity once lived in harmony? This is how I found my way to Christianity, not through illogical theism.

(Christy Hemphill) #147

In general, individualistic Western Christians have pretty weak ecclesiology. God provided his Holy Spirit to the Church. The Body of Christ on earth is supposed to be the instrument of conveying the gospel. discipleship, and discernment. I think we have an impoverished idea of the Church’s role in God’s kingdom because we see salvation and sanctification as something for individuals.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #148

I don’t object to showing such things. But those things still should be correct (and are subject to correction) before you should put them forward as showing anything. As brilliant as many of those ancient Greeks must have been, they aren’t seen [by the general Christian community today] as quite the authoritative sources for all wisdom and life generally to the extent or esteem that you seem to hold them in.

People here can have idiosyncratic or radical views (Lord knows I probably dabble in or harbor a few of those myself) … but it should be fair to expect that others don’t / won’t just automatically share in that if/when we bring such things forward for discussion. [Most?] of what you put forward in this forum is non-starter stuff on a Christian forum where it is expected we will take the canonical scriptures and consensus modern science seriously. So when you just plow ahead with projects of listening to mediums convey spiritual messages from the dead, you are showing an astounding lack of awareness of community norms around here.

(Jay Johnson) #149

From the FAQ/Guidelines:

Whatever your stance on evolution and Christian faith, we welcome your gracious, thoughtful contribution. The Church desperately needs to learn how to discuss these important issues with charity and humility. We hope it can begin here.

  • Participate with an aim to gain deeper understanding about orthodox Christian faith and/or mainstream science, and constructively explore the relationship between them. Users whose participation in discussions seems primarily focused on promoting unorthodox religious beliefs, idiosyncratic ideas about faith and/or science, or anti-religious sentiments will be asked to take their proselytizing efforts elsewhere.

(Mitchell W McKain) #150

Some of the theists are scientists.

There is no need to blame the lunacy of Plato on them. :grin:

Bad examples do indeed teach us a great deal. But so do good examples like Aristotle.

So Origen is responsible for corrupting Christianity with the Gnostic ideas of Plato? Oh yeah, I can see that you are right. Too bad Plotinus went with a compromise rather than purging this nonsense from Christianity altogether.

We scientists can do that for ourselves thank you very much, and thankfully there are much better routes to Christianity than Gnosticism and transmigration.

(Mitchell W McKain) #151

Some trouble arises in trying to nail down what Biologos considers orthodox Christian faith. If anybody has a link to something like that I would appreciate it.

(Jay Johnson) #152

Speaking for myself, not for BioLogos, I don’t think we need to draw lines in the sand on orthodoxy. It’s usually apparent when someone has stepped far outside the bounds of traditional Christianity. For me, the line in the sand is promoting/proselytizing one’s unorthodox opinions in every thread and every post. The chaff eventually starts to overcome the wheat in that scenario.

(Christy Hemphill) #153


In short:
The Bible is the inspired and authoritative word of the triune God.
Everyone has sinned and needs salvation.
Jesus was God incarnate, fully God and fully man. He died and rose again to reconcile us to God.
God is at work in the world, redeeming, transforming, answering prayer.

(Mitchell W McKain) #154

Don’t have any problem with those!

The biggest problem with these in the link is about on the level of a quibble with number 6. I don’t believe God violates the laws of nature, which He created for a purpose, and He certainly isn’t going to do that just to impress a bunch of ignorant savages, since this would be hardly necessary. Instead I would say that God can do miracles within the laws of nature just as many human beings have been able to do, and that not all events are derived solely from the operation of natural law, since the laws are not causally closed. So it’s just that use of the term “supernatural” which bothers me a little.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #155

Your secret is safe with all of us here. I don’t think biologos has burned anybody at the stake yet, but I’m guessing you’ll be fine. We’ll pray for your immortal soul, though.

(Christy Hemphill) #156

The BioLogos belief statement reflects both statements affirming orthodox Christianity (the ones I highlighted), and specifics about how BioLogos harmonizes faith and science. You can be an orthodox Christian and have a totally different take on biblical interpretation or origins or divine action. No one would claim you have to affirm all of BioLogos’ “what we believe” to be within the bounds of orthodoxy as a Christian.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #157

To give you a more serious (but still short) response this time … These are the kinds of issues that many who find there way here love to dicker about - maybe even productively. The Biologos statements all begin with “We believe” which alone probably sets the tone so that it need not be taken as “thou shalt believe”.

I tend to think like you that were our understandings of everything complete, our distinctions between “supernatural” and “natural” might very likely disappear or turn out to be artificial boundaries of our own limited understandings. But unlike you I’m far from confident about that and certainly not bothered if others invest their confidence the other way. The reality is that, rightly or wrongly, a whole lot of Christian folks think this way and in these terms. And some of them are willing to raise a stink if they stumble across others who see it differently. Despite my poor attempt at humor with you (again!) above, I’m pretty sure no Biologos folks are the stink-raising type about how miracles get classified. But nor do I imagine they would be easily baited by anyone into arguing a change into their “we believe” statements.

(Mitchell W McKain) #158

@Christy @Jay313 @Mervin_Bitikofer

Should be somewhat apparent that I am not likely to move a micron in order fit into anything. My interest in these lines in the sand has more to do with seeing where I am in the spectrum. I tend to be bit flabbergasted with how orthodox I have become. Like… how in the world did I end up here??? Considering not only where I started, but also how I proceeded from there, how is that even possible?!

(Shawn T Murphy) #159

How can someone who calls himself a scientist call the logic of Plato lunacy and think Aristotle is a good example? Galileo freed us from the chains of Aristotle, dint you get the memo?

(Mitchell W McKain) #160

In a very real sense Galileo followed in the footsteps of Aristotle especially in the way he proved Aristotle wrong about gravity. Of all the Greek philosophers, Aristotle had the most scientific approach to things, though his empirical studies were more in the area of biology. But the truth is that he made lasting contributions to all areas of knowledge. And the liberation you speak of had more to do with the attitude of those who followed and a measure of how far we had fallen in the dark ages. Meanwhile the Arab Moslem world picked up the torch had its golden age inventing such things as algebra. So frankly, the best thing you can say about Plato is that he had a very good student in Aristotle.